While I was on my motorcycle trip last week, a friend texted me and said, “I think it’s really cool you’re comfortable traveling alone”. The truth is it’s not always by choice. It’s often a matter of sit home and watch the grass grow, or go pursue activities by myself. I’m in a very fortunate position in that I’m able to be free most weekday days. I don’t have to deal with the weekend crowds or traffic. Unfortunately, especially at my age, it’s hard to find other people who also have their mid-week free on a consistent basis. So it’s either go out and do it alone, or wait until the stars line up with other people’s schedules.
To be honest, I’d certainly rather do stuff with other people. I’m a, what’s the term… “introverted extrovert”. I’m somewhat shy and am horrible with initiating things in social settings. But I do like being around other people. Activities are almost always better with a group. I know there are motorcycle groups and mountain bike groups in my area I could join. I just find those initial social interactions painful. I probably will reach out at some point. Hopefully I’ll convince a friend to join with me so the first few meetings aren’t so awkward. Being the new guy sucks.
The other issue is not even a social thing, it’s finding others that match your skill level. A few years ago I did join a group mountain bike ride with a bunch of folks I didn’t know. It ended up being a horrible experience. There were a handful of young guys who were determined to ride everyone into the ground. The rest of the group were total beginners. There were crashes, blood, and some unhappy folks. No thanks. It’s comfortable to ride with the guys I normal ride with when they’re available. We’re all roughly the same fitness level (or lack thereof), no competitive egos to deal with, etc… How do you find that perfect mix in a group where someone is a bit better than you so you learn, and you’re comfortably in the middle skill-wise with everyone else? The motorcycle is even harder to find folks. It’s a much less common sport, so the community is smaller. It also seems like the skill gap is greater. You have people who’ve been riding forever and folks who are brand new. Not much in-between.
Yes, I know the answer is to keep putting yourself out there and eventually you’ll find the right group. It sounds sorta like dating advice, except for old guys with limited social skills. Maybe there’s an app for that? Middle aged guy, slightly overweight with questionable fitness and skill level, looking for like minded folks who are just as happy riding as abandoning halfway to eat nachos and drink beer. Must be free most Wednesdays and Thursdays. Meanwhile, while I continue to contemplate dropping into a social group meeting, trail maintenance day, or joining a group ride, I’ll keep on going out and getting my adventure on by myself. Because sitting at home is not an option.
- When we first moved to our little town the population was 242,000. Not small, not too big. Just the right size to have some culture; a university, theater, museums, great restaurants, and a few larger employers. Not so big that we had traffic, crowds, and all the other blight that comes with bigger towns. Today our population has grown to 455,000 and much of that in just the last few years. People are fleeing the big cities in droves looking for a better quality of life. I can’t blame them. As cities grow the small problems become big ones and quickly become unsolvable. And that’s exactly what we’re facing here. I can’t blame people for wanting to move here, as that’s what we did. But the common refrain you hear from us longer term residents is “don’t bring your California attitudes”. And sadly, that seems to be what’s happening. Although I don’t know if it’s specifically due to California, but more likely just a facet of increased population. Traffic has increased dramatically. Just in the last year or so I now have to check what time it before getting on the road so I don’t get caught in commute traffic. People used to happily let you merge and it wasn’t uncommon to see a tractor driving on the road. Now it’s road rage time. Nobody lets you merge and frustrated tailgating is common. I’m starting to see graffiti pop up all around town. The homeless problem and panhandling is now noticeable. Property taxes are skyrocketing and there are now bidding wars on any houses that go up for sale. We’ve talked about downsizing, but we couldn’t afford to buy even a smaller house or condo now. There was no such thing as a lift line at our local ski resort, and now it looks like some of the Tahoe crowds on the weekend. It gets hard to find parking at local trailheads and the number of clueless people on the trails is discouraging. We used to be able to walk downtown on a Friday or Saturday night and go to just about any restaurant. Now, reservations are mandatory and parking is a challenge. Crime is becoming an issue. Just last night there was a shooting at the university, something that would be unheard of when we first moved here. I’m honestly not complaining, I understand it’s the nature of an ever swelling US/world population. That growth isn’t going to stop and all those people will continue to look for something better. With the current push (and ability) to work from home, the exodus from big cities will only increase. It just makes me a little sad. It’s hard to see your town change. Maybe someday we’ll escape and go find a new small town, but I doubt it. The older you get the harder change becomes. Meanwhile I’ll look back fondly at that brief moment in time when our town was just the perfect size. Oh my god, I’ve become one of those people – “I remember when…”
- I may or may not have solved the Android Auto issue with the ginormous motorcycle. I decided the other day that the problem was the USB connection on the phone. It’s always been a little loose (it’s a really old phone) and I think what’s been happening is that the connection comes loose with the vibration from the motorcycle and then Android Auto disconnects. This is a pain because on a motorcycle you have to pull over and fiddle with your tank bag to reconnect the phone. I started the research into a new phone and then stumbled on a new bug being reported with the latest release of Android Auto. When the charging reaches 100%, Android Auto disconnects from the head unit. It’s a known and well documented issue. Well… I never bothered to look at what my charging level was when I pulled over to reconnect. Sigh. Apparently more research is needed. How did people even travel without smartphones?
- Suddenly ski season is reaching a close. We’re down to just a handful of weeks left. This is point at which I panic and wish I’d done more skiing this season. I shall now commence to ignore most responsibilities for the next few weeks so I can ski. It’s not my fault… I need to maximize my ski passes. Every additional day I go reduces the cost per day from what I paid for the pass. We’d be losing money if I don’t ski!
- Speaking of changing seasons, I put shorts on the other day to go to the driving range. It’s time to start chasing that silly white ball around the course again. I don’t know how it happened, but my shorts somehow shrunk. I could barely get the top button fastened. Dammit. Operation senior fitness needs to really kick into gear soon.
- While on the subject of eating, I committed a blasphemy. I cooked baby back ribs in the oven. Gasp! The barbeque gods may smite me down. Anyway, they turned out pretty darn good. Not smoker good, but decent. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m not opposed to doing them that way again.
- I wonder if Biden has recovered enough from his teleprompter speech to come out of his room yet? Still no sign of an actual press conference or state of the union. Nah, that’s not strange at all. Meanwhile, gas prices are skyrocketing, the crisis on the border is getting worse by the day, and the administration is starting to talk about tax increases. Yeah, didn’t see any of this coming. The longer we go without an appearance, the more the press will become restless and less amenable to keeping their questions to what flavor of ice cream the president prefers. I honestly don’t know if Biden has the ability to field non-scripted questions for any length of time without committing a serious gaffe or becoming hostile. It’s hard to decide which is better, a puppet being run by an unseen group, or a President Harris? Y’all could have had Tulsi. Just saying.
Song of the day: Kid Rock – Bawitdaba – 7/24/1999 – Woodstock 99 East Stage (Official)
- I went downhill skiing yesterday. Nothing remarkable about that (it was a gorgeous bluebird day!), as I ski a lot. The issue is that I couldn’t button my ski pants. The waist expansion has been slowly increasing all winter long and has finally reached crisis levels. I’ve said it before, I feel like I’m a reasonably active guy for my age. Maybe a touch above average in the activity level department, so burning calories isn’t the issue. The problem is that my food intake is out of control and massively outpaces what I can burn. I can’t help myself. I know I can lose weight because I’ve done it before. Unfortunately for me dieting is just like the old joke about stopping smoking: “quitting smoking is easy, I’ve done it dozens of times”. I can be super disciplined once I get started. It’s the getting started part that’s the issue. I’ve been meaning to “get started” any day now for months. I officially can’t stand myself any longer. Having to suck in my gut to get my ski pants on was the last straw. I have an additional motivation (as if general health isn’t enough) in that I have this ginormous new motorcycle that I’m going to have to pick up at some point. I honestly don’t know if I’m strong enough right now. That could be an issue on a remote trail by myself. So, operation senior fitness begins today. A buddy has been bugging me to sign up for a trail running event in the fall and I’ve been pretty resistant. I’m still not thrilled at the idea, but I will commit as an incentive to be consistent with my running this summer. I’ll dust off the garage gym and actually start using it. Since I’m now a part time employee, it’s not like I don’t have the time (I hate not having excuses). Which leaves me with the crux of the issue – diet. At the end of the day it still comes down to expending more calories than you consume. Sigh. I wish I didn’t like to eat and drink so much. Realistically I do better with stark changes rather than attempting to ease into something. So I guess I’ll just have to follow Jocko Willink’s advice yesterday morning (sound up).
- Filed in the WTF department, the Biden administration has decided to ban some Dr Seuss books due to concerns about “racial undertones”. I’d like to laugh, but these people are serious. What I find most concerning is that with everything currently going on in the country and world, THIS is something that someone in the administration actually put time and thought into? Really? Worrying that there may racial issues with a beloved set of children’s books? WTF is wrong with these people?
- Barak Obama entered the Whitehouse with a net worth of about a million dollars, mostly from book advances. Four years after leaving the presidency his estimated net worth is $70 million. Last year they bought a $15 million dollar beachfront property in Martha’s Vineyard. He’s done pretty well since his days as a community organizer. I have no point to this other than politics sure pays pretty well.
- This article is an interesting look at potential corruption with the IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) union and the Muscular Dystrophy Association charity. I don’t really care, other than it helps illustrate my distrust of unions that I mentioned the other day. When you’re talking about tens of millions of dollars and a $2 million dollar Washington DC headquarters across from the Whitehouse… I’m not sure the unions first focus is simply the wellbeing of its members.
- Here’s a cartoon illustration of actual climate predictions made by actual climate experts. I’m sure this time they’re right though. The climate crisis is clearly the most existential crisis of our lifetime. Hmmm, ok.
- A list of actual clever design ideas.
Song of the day: The Smashing Pumpkins – Zero (Official Music Video)
Cool things, random thoughts, advice, and independent thinking from someone who’s been around the sun a few times.
- That title has no meaning other than a poor attempt at being edgy and hip. But yes, this morning I had to put on the fat pants after yesterday’s ridiculous food coma. I hope you enjoyed your non-socially distanced Thanksgiving as much as I did. In reality I only show up for the mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and pie. Mission accomplished.
- Are we still allowed to say Black Friday? I’m so confused at the rules lately. Is swarming the local Target for a $99 TV acceptable, or is that a super spreader event?
- Who would have guessed that IKEA’s best selling item isn’t furniture? It’s meatballs. They sell 150 million a year. Say it with me… “Tha’s a-lotta meatballs”.
- So let me get this right… Biden, who literally didn’t campaign, who only held a couple of events that had like six people in those weird crop circle things, who answered no questions from the press, is unable to utter more than a few coherent sentences without a teleprompter, who only won 16% of the counties in the country… somehow got 11 million more votes than Obama did? I get the Trump hatred, but this just doesn’t add up.
- Twitter’s not even trying to hide it anymore. So they block retweeting and clicking on the link to the Powell Georgia and Michigan lawsuit filings. They put a “disputed election information” label on every tweet the President sends out, and they ban a PA state senator for holding a hearing on voter fraud. I’m going to keep saying it – I don’t care who you voted for, this should scare the hell out of you.
- Russian internet videos never cease to amaze me. Flash bang Friday, what could possibly go wrong?
- The strange history of Chuck E. Cheese.
- The interstate highway system, drawn as a subway transit map.
- And finally, the saga of Gerald the turkey. Worth a read.
Song of the day: Shabba Ranks “The Jam ft. KRS-One“