heroes? sometimes….

I really wanted Lance Armstrong to be what he said he was.  I guess that really goes without saying…I think all of us did.

I guess that now for every Prefontaine we expect a Lance Armstrong, for every Henry Aaron a Mark McGuire.

It’s kind of sad when you can’t take a hero at face value.


little big kid

little big man

Dustin Hoffman starred in a movie a while back called “Little Big Man” about a white boy raised by Indians.

It’s a great movie.

My sister’s birthday is today.

She wasn’t raised by Indians…she was raised by Norwegians.

I don’t think they’ve made a movie about that …yet.

There isn’t a lot of connection to the movie when a little Norwegian girl has a birthday…I just started thinking about the title…and then I started thinking about how no matter how old we get (I think she turns 29 or something today… but I really can’t remember…and women don’t discuss their age, anyway)…ummm, no matter how old we get, I think there’s always a part of us that is the little child we were when we were…a little child.

I’m not saying she’s immature…she’s one of the mature people in my life…but to me, she’ll always be my little sister.  It’s funny how that works…in our heads we carry a part of who we were, no matter who we become.

So…happy birthday to you, Beth!

My little sister…imagine that.

how’d you learn all that?

It’s a fun thing to see your children get to the point where they’re introducing you to cool stuff.

I think that it can happen at any age…our three year old teaches me fun stuff all the time…but it’s satisfying when your 17-year-old comes up with someone as good as this guy is….and it seems to come from out of the ether somehow.

This guy’s name is Josh Garrels…give it a listen.

clothes with other people’s names


I was helping our 3-year-old get dressed the other morning and happened to notice the name written in laundry marker on the collar of his shirt.

“I wonder who ‘so and so’ is?” I thought.

That got me thinking about all the clothes with other people’s names I’d worn over the years. I remembered all the clothing my family has worn that had a life before we had a chance to wear them.

I believe that I’ve been wearing mostly used clothing for about 35 years….maybe longer.  That’s a long time.  At first, it was a creative and economic decision…made me feel like I was getting away with something.  I had more money for guitars if I saved a bunch on the clothes I bought.

Later, it wasn’t hard to attach some kind of environmental significance to my choice if I wanted to.  It really was better for the environment to catch something on its second go round.

Mainly, it was more fun to buy something that had a little bit of a history and had a shot at being unique.  It was a good thing that it was usually very cheap, too.

My wife used to buy a bunch of “vintage clothes” before anyone had the gumption to jump on that bandwagon and join the “vintage club”.  She liked the way they were styled…like the way they were constructed…liked that the quality was so high and that she could find a bargain.

When you have an appreciation for the clothing of the 40’s and 50’s, it’s not hard to dress in a unique and creative style.

It’s harder to find the really cool old stuff now.  I think they must have an app that helps people without any knowledge or creativity cherry-pick the really good stuff…it seems like most of the good stuff is considered “vintage”…so instead of just being old, somehow it’s “desirable”, too.

I think it’s a wonderful thing that our children have never questioned why someone else’s name is written in their clothing.  It could be a point of contention…they could be against the idea of buying used clothing, but I think they get a kick out of finding something unique that’s also really affordable.

Clothes, guitars, cars…I like things with a little life in it already.  I wrote a post about patina a while back…and the clothing thing holds true to that sentiment.  It’s comfortable to wear something that someone else has already broken in.

What can I say?  I like used stuff.

Clothes with other people’s names are OK in my book.

image from CNN from an article about how our used clothing is keeping the African economy down…interesting article.

sucking limes

limesI wrote a blog post a while back that featured the story of a Mexican fisherman.

It was a post about learning to either find happiness in your day-to-day activities…or figuring out a way to move on to something that would bring you joy.

I guess it was mostly about trying to learn to be happy where you are in the moment.

Anyway…in the post I made a reference to the guys out on the old sailing ships.  They’d have a bunch of limes with them to avoid getting scurvy.  This was before you could zip on down to Wal-Mart and buy a big bottle of vitamin C.

They’d suck on the limes to avoid getting sick.

I imagined it would be hard to leave something you knew and understood…something that would keep you safe…to explore the new worlds you were sailing towards.  It would be hard to get off the ship.

We don’t do a lot of true exploring these days…if we’re lost, we can just wait for the GPS to say, “recalculating” and we’re on our way again.

I wonder if real exploring isn’t heading towards an expected outcome…maybe it’s more expecting to be lost?

I don’t feel really comfortable trying the “let’s just try this and see what happens” approach too often now that I have a family to protect and support.  It’s a scary and selfish thing to jump ship and forge into uncharted territory just because I’m frantic and lost…unhappy with my current situation, whether the GPS might get me back on course or not.  But…on the wishy-washy other hand…that’s exploring.

(I’ve seen movies where they jump off the boat and then realize they didn’t drop the ladder over the side to get back onboard…man, they’re really screwed messed up then…)

That’s not to say that we haven’t had our share of optimistic misadventure.

When we were just starting out as a family, we bought our house.

We looked for quite a while in the WNC area…looked at all the cheap houses we thought we could afford.  We looked at a house you had to hike to on the railroad tracks, we looked at a house that looked like a big soft mushroom returning to the earth, we looked at a house with a family of pit bulls living in the crawl space…we looked at a lot of crazy houses.

When I found our house just down the road from a camp I used to work at…it felt safe.  It felt like home.

Of course, it was gutted and didn’t have a water supply and needed just about everything to be habitable…like doors and windows and insulation and a well and plumbing and…(it’s a long list).

Maybe it was the comparison to the other crack houses we’d looked at, but even in its decrepit state…it felt like buying this gutted house was going to be OK.

I don’t remember if we grabbed a couple of limes before we jumped off the boat…all I remember is how it felt to hit the big ocean and realize that it was time to start swimming.

After a hard first winter of tin and rafters..with a too small wood stove to keep us warm…it all started to come together and the house started to feel more like a real house….with doors and windows in all the holes.

It’s a long story…the story of being “low buck pioneers” with a new (new…like 6 week old..what?) baby in a wreck of a house…so I won’t tell the whole thing here…but I guess that what I’m thinking about is that any of the real adventure comes when you have no idea what you are doing.

Now, you won’t jump off the boat if you don’t imagine that you’re a really good swimmer…but the real adventure comes when you’re tired of treading water and the island still looks like it’s a good distance away…and you ponder, cold and tired in the big expanse of blue, “what the heck was I thinking?”  I guess your option at that point is to just start swimming again.

We’re getting our passports soon…my pockets are already stuffed with limes.

Image by David Karp in the LA Times


Yvon Chouinard and pessimistic action

“There’s no difference between a pessimist who says, ‘Oh, it’s hopeless, so don’t bother doing anything,’ and an optimist who says, ‘Don’t bother doing anything, it’s going to turn out fine anyway.’ Either way, nothing happens.”

That’s a quote from a climber and businessman named Yvon Chouinard.

He’s the guy who started Chouinard Equipment, manufacturing climbing equipment…and then later, and more widely known, the clothing company Patagonia.

Here’s a recent video interview with him:

The thing that I like about Yvon Chouinard is that, even though he has a pretty pessimistic view of where the planet is headed, he is very actively trying to do something to protect and repair the environmental issues he can affect.

I’ve written about Yvon Chouinard before on this blog.  He is the kind of businessman that I can really respect…from what I can tell, he’s in business only to make things better.  That profits have followed his efforts are kind of the icing on the cake.

I’m sure that, like most of us, his business dealings aren’t completely altruistic…but he seems like a pretty good egg who puts his money where his mouth is.  He seems pretty sincere to me…and I like that.

Here’s another short video about his feelings on being compared to Apple…

I loved the quote at the beginning of this blog post.

I had a friend at camp whose Dad used to tell him, “Do something….even if it’s wrong”.

I guess that action is the only thing that ever changes anything.

we have the technology

The catch phrase for the old “Six Million Dollar Man” show was “we have the technology, we can rebuild him”.

Pretty cool…it was a fixable problem.  They had the technology…and they were going to make things all better.

My bookshelves are sagging with how to, someday, make it better, get rich, fix your problem, here’s what your problem is kind of books.  Sagging with these kind of books.

Of course, I have a lot of different kinds of books…but I do have a good number of books that show a concern for making things better.

“We have the technology…we can rebuild him”.

Now, of course, if I stopped and actually put into practice some of the concepts these books talked about…I’D BE A WEINER!!!….I mean WINNER.  I’d be a winner.  I have the technology….I’d be a winner.

The problem is…what I really enjoy and what satisfies my undiagnosed ADHD the most is videos like this:

I know I should be watching something more uplifting…reading one of the good books I have about how I’d measure up if I just did what the author said to do…maybe listening to one of the tape courses I have…I don’t know what would have the biggest impact on my life.

Time is valuable…time is short…time is precious…so why do I waste my time on stuff like this?

Maybe, when it all is said and done, I’ll realize that I was actually pretty uplifted by a two-minute slice of silly funk.

Maybe that’s all any of us needs…a secret funk bass line percolating in our brains as we go about our daily tasks…some secret funk we can call our own.

I couldn’t wish a kinder thing for anyone….a secret funk they could call their own.

My technology must wear a lot of different faces after all.

This video clip is from a movie called Adventures of Power …it streams on Netflix.


saving face, saving the USPS


We got word yesterday that the proposed stop to Saturday first class mail delivery has been shelved for now.

Here’s one version of the story here.

I guess that for all the hard language and bluster, when it came down to it…we did what Congress said we had to do after all.

Kind of like a teenager saying, “I WILL TOO TAKE OUT THE CAR!!!” even though the parents hold the keys.

Here’s a quote that kind of summed up how I felt about the situation:

“This reversal significantly undercuts the credibility of Postal officials who have told Congress that they were prepared defy political pressure and make difficult but necessary cuts,” said Issa, who is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

How about totally undercuts? Wow.  How do you recover from being dissed like that?

The thing about it that’s really weird is that from my understanding, we aren’t even really a government…or at least funded by the government…agency.  We don’t get a bunch of taxpayer dollars…we do get told what to do by the government….but we don’t get a lot of government support.

Check this link out for a description of what kind of business (or agency?) the Post Office is….supposedly, except for some funds set aside to cover services set up to help blind people and some overseas ballot mailing,we don’t get any taxpayer money. We are supposed to be a “revenue neutral” operation.  We’re not supposed to make a profit…I guess so that we continue to provide an inexpensive service to the American people.  We are supposed to be self-supporting.

So, until we were mandated to prefund retiree health benefits…(how about that? What business have you ever heard of that was required to fund something like that ahead of time?)…until that happened, I guess we had a shot at breaking even.

I think it’s really just kind of a “perfect storm” situation…I’m not printing this blog on a mimeograph machine and mailing it out to my tens of readers…I’m doing it all electronically.  Most of us email, pay bills online, even use Skype (that’s another issue…the telcom companies have their own fish to fry)…we do things differently now.

Why should we be surprised that the USPS is having problems?  It’s a new world.

Our government shouldn’t act surprised when a hobbled pony can’t run, though.


Joe Raedle / Getty Images file




cloning me,cloning me,cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, etc.

They say in the beginning of this movie that it will help me decide whether or not I’d want to play God after I watch it.

That was a close one.

I was almost going to go off the deep end and do some kitchen sink sciencin’…clone me up a batch of me.

Did you ever watch the movie Multiplicity?  It’s an old movie with Michael Keaton…he clones himself to keep up with work and family demands…with mixed and funny results.

In good movie fashion, everything works out in the end…but there’s some problems along the way.

I started to think about what it would be like to have a bunch of meeze.  I can’t imagine a bunch of scattered dudes running around trying to figure out what to do.  I don’t know what benefit to mankind it would hold …maybe none.

A bunch of meeze….”   I tickle myself sometimes…”meeze“.

But what if I could really tickle myself?  Would I stop when I yelled at myself to stop tickling me? There are a lot of ethical questions yet to be answered when it comes to the ramifications of cloning.

Now if I was enough of a leader to order myself around, it would be helpful to have a bunch of “lackey meeze” to do my bidding.  I could spread myself a lot thinner if there was more of meeze to go around.

If only I could trust myself to do what I told me.

I’ve got some stuff on my plate. Most people would look at it and say, “WHAT?!!  THAT’S NOTHING!  HE’S GOT NOTHING GOING ON!  WHAT’S HE COMPLAINING ABOUT?!!!  SUCK IT UP…GET ON WITH LIFE!!”  I do have some stuff on my plate….like everybody.

It’d be easier to get it done with a crazy ant farm of meeze to swarm over the responsibilities and JUST GET’R DONE.  (did I spell that correctly?  “get her done? getter done?”)

What the heck….I’m not going to clone myself.  I just decided that I wasn’t going to clone myself.  Just this minute, sitting at the computer writing this blog…I pledge to be the only me.

One me is enough for me to handle.



Born to Run

07 Born to Run

No, it’s not the Springsteen thing…it’s something else entirely…but what a great song, huh?

The Born to Run that I’m talking about is the title of a book by Chris McDougall that talks about barefoot running and a Mexican tribe called the Tarahumara, who run great distances in the desert… without shoes.

Even in our culture, where we seem to be able to accessorize the simplest of activities, running is a pretty elemental sport.

Just a pair of running shoes and some lightweight shorts…a t-shirt…maybe a sports bra for the ladies…not much else.  It’s pretty simple.

But somehow we can figure out how to lust after any bling we can attach to even something as simple as running.

Like right now…I haven’t even started running again yet, but already I’m thinking how cool it would be to have one of those new GPS watches that I could look at and tell how far I’d been…where I was and where I was going…even tell the time if I needed that information.

Or maybe a RoadID for my wrist in addition to the one on my ankle?  There’d be no chance for confusion if I had one on my wrist, too. Maybe I need two?

They even have special shoes to make the transition to full on nude feet even easier to handle.

I guess it’s easy to complicate running if I work at it

But…this tribe, the Tarahumara…they break things down to the elemental needs…no shoes, no goretex…just tough feet, big lungs,and…. homebrew. (They drink a lot of corn beer…high carb, low alcohol content corn beer… to fuel these long runs.)

Running and drinking corn beer….hmmmm.

This Chris McDougall book is pretty wild…sparked a strong debate about barefoot running and its benefits…and renewed curiosity in a Mexican tribe of super athletes called the Tarahumara.

A quote from Chris McDougall’s site that I thought was interesting was this one:

“It is a beautiful story and a superb synthesis of the science. It is about time that as a society we examined how it is that we have got to the point where it is considered unnatural to run.”
—Dr. Craig Richards, PhD, professor of biomedical research at the University of Newcastle and a leading authority on running biomechanics.

Children play…they run, they breathe…jump up, jump down…climb and swing and yell and roll….with no concept of sets or repetitions or peak heart rates or anything we obsess over for the sake of efficiency.

Natural athletes.

I’d like to get back to the point where it was such an unconscious part of my life that exercise felt like play again.

Maybe we cloak it all in the business of fitness so we can feign maturity, though?  “Don’t bother me now, son…Daddy’s busy working out”…working out….work…work work work.  Doesn’t sound as natural as running in the desert somehow.

Chidren play, mature adults work.

This was an interesting book and it raised some thought provoking questions about my own attitudes towards fitness.