“Bicycles are the ideal mode of transportation as cities emerge from quarantine, made even more appealing now that summer is approaching in the US and Europe. They’re fast, comfortable, convenient, and allow you to socially distance while being active. When paired with an electric motor, e-bikes can make even long commutes a relaxing and sweat-free experience. They also help maintain the dramatic air quality improvements seen in cities around the world since coronavirus confinements began.
In some US cities, multilane roads and car parking can take up 50 to 60 percent of all real estate. In addition to robbing residents of parks and other open areas, it makes social distancing on congested sidewalks nearly impossible. What better time to rethink transportation models and reclaim space allocated to CO2-belching vehicles from a bygone age? If not now, when?”
“Zero-fare transit systems report many benefits. Going zero-fare increases ridership which in-turn improves the environment and reduces congestion. It enhances access and equity making communities more livable. Eliminating the fare reduces barriers both for those individuals that can afford to pay as well as those that cannot. And zero fare makes boarding easier and faster which reduces travel times for all.”
Intercity Transit reports that less than 2% of its revenue was coming from fares.
I detect a trend, people paying small amounts with dollar bills and coins is too time consuming. How long until the Costco food court realizes this and soft frozen yogurt is “free”?
“Across the city, 14 cyclists have been killed in crashes this year, four more than all of last year, according to city officials. New York’s streets have seen an increase in bicycling while also becoming more perilous, in part because of surging truck traffic fueled by the booming e-commerce industry. The mayor himself acknowledged on Monday that the city was facing an ’emergency.'”
Saturday afternoon I was driving down 36th Street NE, which as you know, is one of the rare Olympia streets without a legit bike lane. There’s only a fog line and then six to twelve inches of pavement. Two of my cycling brethren were riding side-by-side as other drivers and I came upon them, unnecessarily requiring us to move into the oncoming lane. This is a rural setting, so not life threatening, but there’s no reason to be riding side-by-side without a legit bike lane. My window was down, I thought about doing some consciousness raising, but chickened out. I had my speech all planned out, “Dudes, single-file.”
Tongue firmly planted in cheek, I think, a loyal PressingPauser chided me for being too political in recent posts. Given the state of our disunited union, and the angry nature of our national dialogue, political burnout is totally understandable. He implored me to write more about other things. More personal ones.
I do not get as much feedback on the humble blog as I would like, so I’m prone to heed any I get. Please consider following my friend’s lead in letting me know what you do and don’t like. The reader is always right.
So let’s get personal.
First off, I’ve long suspected I’m on the cutting edge of societal evolution, but now I have hard and fast proof. Context. My “friends” like to tease me about my $14 Kirkland jeans. Prolly because I look so good in them #jealousy. Get a load of what WBuffett had to say about Costco in his just released annual letter:
“Here they are, 100 years plus, tons of advertising, built into people’s habits and everything else,” Buffett said of Kraft Heinz’s brands. “And now, Kirkland, a private-label brand, comes along and with only 750 or so outlets, does 50% more business than all the Kraft Heinz brands.”
“Customers see the brand as a blend of quality and value, and it gives shoppers a unique reason to go to Costco that other retailers can’t match — online or off.”
Taking names and kicking ass, one pair of jeans at a time. Once this post goes viral, I expect Costco to call and ask me to participate in an advertising campaign. Maybe a “famous bloggers in Kirkland jeans” expose. Oh wait, they don’t have to advertise because you can already find their label on my backside most of the time.
Not personal enough? Okay, brace yourself for the next level.
One time my sissy borrowed my iPod, remember those, and had a good laugh at my expense. “You’re iPod is filled with female folk singers!” Yeah, what of it! Just more hard and fast evidence that I’m secure in my non-toxic masculinity. When it comes to groovy new female folk singers, the 23 and 26 year old prove helpful. Here are three worth checking out, that is, if you’re not beholden to some antiquated notion of gender.
• Billie Eilish, When the Party’s Over. Not even old enough to vote yet. Video is weird, but that’s to be expected from a teen. I’m sharing it because 162 million people have watched it and I don’t want you to feel left out. Grooved to this track while running yesterday afternoon. Started out in a light rain and ended in glorious sunshine reflecting off the Salish Sea. 7 miles, 54:30.
• Sigrid, Strangers. Only 44 million views, so please help her close the gap with Billie by watching. 22 years old, Ålesund, Norway.
• Maggie Rogers, Light On. 24 years old. Career launched after Pharrell Williams listened to a tape of hers in a masterclass.
Alaska is her most listened to track, but I like this below the radar vid even more:
Two predictions. Olivia Colman will win Best Actress and my running posse will give me endless shit for highlighting three young women singers. The R-17 jokes will fly fast and furious. In my defense, one of the things I like most about these young women is their rejection of the pop music dynamic of the past, where young female singers felt compelled to sell their sensuality. These women, in their Kirkland jeans and t-shirts are saying f$%k that. Accept me as I am. Or not.
Still not personal enough? Jeez, maybe I should just write about the President tweeting back at Spike Lee for reminding people that there’s an election in 2020 and to choose love over hate.
2018 fitness report? 276 kilometers swimming. 4,868 miles cycling. 1,050 miles running, thus keeping my 20 year 1k+ miles running streak alive. . . barely due to an end-of-year calf strain. Now that’s some personal snizzle fo shizzle. For the record, “snizzle” is an actual weather term meaning a “mixture of snow and freezing rain” but my hip use of it means “shit for sure”. Feel free to come up with your own meaning.
“William Jacobson, a law professor at Cornell and critic of the SPLC, says the group has wrapped itself in the mantle of the civil rights struggle to engage in partisan political crusading. “Time and again, I see the SPLC using the reputation it gained decades ago fighting the Klan as a tool to bludgeon mainstream politically conservative opponents,” he says. “For groups that do not threaten violence, the use of SPLC ‘hate group’ or ‘extremist’ designations frequently are exploited as an excuse to silence speech and speakers,” Jacobson adds. ‘It taints not only the group or person, but others who associate with them.'”
Early in my dad’s business career he sold appliances for General Electric. Every year we got one new one, including allegedly, the first trash compactor in the country. And for some reason only my mom could probably explain, every last appliance was avocado green. Turns out those early avocado green kitchens did a number on my subconscious because recently I’ve turned into an avocado eating machine, putting them on damn near everything, as if I’m making up for lost time.
Below is a picture of today’s breakfast bowl of oatmeal which lies buried underneath the red and late 1960’s kitchen appliance green fruit goodness. Some mornings I borrow from professional cycling chefs and sub in two fried eggs. And always, I top everything off with a little butter and a lot of Kirkland Saigon Cinnamon (Costco doesn’t pay me for these egregious product placements, but they should).
Today’s philosophical question. At what point does the balance tip towards the add-ins and I can no longer accurately describe my breakfast as a bowl of oatmeal? That’s what philosophers refer to as a “Seinfeld episode worthy” question.
That’s right, even our kitchen bowls are avocado green.
“It’s not that I’m so smart,” Albert Einstein wrote, “but I stay with the questions longer.” Here are some questions I’ve been staying with lately.
Why is banana bread a perpetual underachiever? Among all breads, it’s the most underrated. Always delicious, yet difficult to find. On the other end of the continuum, cornbread; wide availability, but almost always a dry, crumbly disappointment. Had some zucchini bread this week that was very good too. If and when banana bread gains popularity, zucchini will slide into its underachiever slot.
Why is Costco’s Kirkland ice-cream a perpetual underachiever? I’m the King of the Kirkland label, but have never switched over from Breyers or Dreyers or Whatever label to Kirkland ice-cream. Does anyone buy Kirkland ice-cream?
Why does my wife like Masterpiece Theatre’s Poldark so much? Hmm, could this have anything to do with it?
Why is my oldest daughter prone to meanness? Check out this advice she recently offered her younger, nicer sissy. “If you have a prof you love ask if they want to get coffee (and bring a friend in your class if you want another buffer because professors can be intimidating and frankly, weird) – it will be invaluable when it comes to references and advice for the post-college world.” Good heavens, what did I do to deserve that?
Like most everyone, when I plop down big bucks to see a film, I want to be be transported far from my familiar surroundings. But I most enjoy believable stories, so films set in outer-space, or featuring cataclysmic events, or starring super-heroes don’t really do it for me. Which means I usually seek out independent films that play at our one screen, decrepit, “hippy” theatre.
Friday night, Costco coupons in hand, Ms. PressingPause and I were standing in a longish line at the local cineplex. Knowing Ironman 3, Oblivion, Star Trek into Darkness, and Hip Hop Hemingway were about to start, I said, “None of these people are seeing Mud.” What a shame that I was right.
Worth every bit of our $15. The Jeff Nichols film transports you to rural Arkansas a decade or so ago. Think river life, snakes, boat engines, beans and franks, motorcycles, pick up trucks, Piggly Wigglies, and snakes. So damn authentic it reminded me of Winter’s Bone. It’s a wonderful counterpoint to Hollywood’s steady diet of intelligence insulting romantic comedies. See it for the cross cultural experience and for a greater appreciation for just how hard it is to find and nurture love.
Afterwards, for an incredibly poignant window into mental illness, find and watch another phenomenal Jeff Nichols film. Take Shelter (2007).
A Place at the Table is a powerful documentary that explores hunger in America. It will be available via instant streaming on Netflix sometime in June. See it to meet some hungry families, to better understand hunger’s underlying causes, and to learn about solutions. Given our economically segregated neighborhoods, it’s easy to lose touch with hungry people. I see that disconnect in some of my friends and in myself. The lack of understanding largely explains the associated lack of empathy. The further removed from experiencing hunger you are, the more important it is you see the film.
Lots of new readers last week. Welcome and thanks for the continuing support.
Huffington Post-like tabloid headline alert. By “best” I mean “only”, by “get rich” I mean have a little more money leftover at the end of the month, and by “scheme” I mean partner with your neighbor-friends to buy in bulk.
The Byrnes family likes them some guacamole. Avocados are usually $1.50 at the local grocery store, but are sometimes on sale for 99 cents. At Costco, six are $4.99. I believe in slow-mo, one 83 cent avocado at a time, financial improvement.
The problem of course is eating them before they go bad. One Costco shopper offered this tip in an on-line forum, “My technique is to put the newly purchased bag in the fridge for a week, and then take out one avocado and put it on the counter and keep a close eye on it. As soon as it feels a bit soft I use it up and take out another avocado. I’m surprised at how well this works for me.”
Overtime, buying avocados and many other consumer goods in bulk can lead to serious savings, but if you’re one or two people, or even a smallish family, avoiding waste is always a challenge. Which makes me wonder, why don’t individuals, couples, and/or families form informal neighborhood-based cooperatives to buy things much more cheaply in bulk? For example, someone buys two gallons of milk, six avocados, and a case of beer at Costco and walks over to their neighbors and gives them one gallon of milk, three avocados, and twelve bottles of beer for a few dollars savings.
Not a life-changing transaction, but it illustrates the concept. The key of course, is scaling the bulk buying up, and thereby, extending the savings.
There are a few imminently surmountable reasons for why this networking isn’t more common. People may not have close friends near by. Or people may have nearby friends, but be hesitant to buck the deep-seated individualism that’s ingrained in American life. Can we come together on which beer? Or maybe people don’t feel it’s worth taking non-working time to coordinate group Costco runs. Or like a solo car commuter whose resistant to join a carpool, maybe people don’t want to give up the freedom to shop on their own schedules.
It’s ironic that people’s wages aren’t keeping up with inflation and we’re living in the midst of a social media revolution and we don’t partner up more often to buy in bulk. Maybe necessity is the mother of invention. Maybe as young, tech savvy people struggle to achieve economic independence, informal bulk-buying neighborhood cooperatives will naturally bubble up.
It started innocently enough in Chengdu, China in 2003. Each week while grocery shopping I was intrigued with all the Chinese women who would gather around the giant pistachio bin and fill their plastic bags with the very best one or two hundred. After spectating for a few weeks, I joined in. This brought furtive glances and embarrassed smiles.
How was I supposed to know real men don’t pistachio shop? Upon returning Stateside (love using that term, makes me feel cosmopolitan), imagine my delight when I learned Costco had picked them out and packaged them for me.
I can be too frugal for my own good. Given that, it’s nice there are at least two products for which I’d spend almost anything—iPads and iPistachios.
This theory has been tested lately as Costco’s California pistachios have skyrocketed in price. $14.99 for 4lbs, who cares, toss em’ in. $15.99, $16.99, $19.99. Yikes, now they’re just taking advantage of a helpless addict. The price increases have probably had little to do with supply and demand. More likely, they’re a Schwarzenegger state budget screw up surtax.
When I glanced and grabbed last week, I did a double-take. What?! $14.99?! Sweet! The last time they were $14.99 the President had stolen the election. Then, a second later, “What the hell, that’s a 3 pounder!”
Here’s how I imagine it going down at Costco headquarters in Issaquah, WA. Executive Meeting. Agenda item: Pricing limits of California pistachios. A suit does a quick PowerPoint presentation showing a precipitous decline in sales of California pistachios at the $19.99 pricepoint. What to do? Discussion ensues. The consensus, instead of selling 4 pounds for $19.99, let’s sell 3 pounds for $14.99, and hope people don’t really notice the math smoke and mirrors. Brilliant. A collective sense of accomplishment descends and the meeting is adjourned.”
It might just work. No, it will work on whomever lacks numeracy. And on addicts like me.
Bonus picture. What a minimalist, who asked for nothing, received for Christmas.