Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Cycling is often an overlooked sport. People see guys in spandex and think it's sort of a wimpy sport. How tough could a sport be when guys where outfits like that? Here's an example. This guy was riding along when a car bumped into his group and he ended up in the ditch.

Oh, and after the ditch he went over the handlebars into a barbed wire fence. While traveling at 20+ mph. Wearing typical football gear. OK, no he wasn't, he was wearing nothing but a thin layer of spandex. The guy got up, got on a new bike (original bike was wrapped around a fence pole) and finished the race. At the finish line he received a couple of big awards that he had earned earlier in the race before going to the hospital and receiving 30 stitches. And he woke up today, got on his bike and raced again.

When is the last time that you saw a professional athlete go through an injury like this and continue? Real men wear spandex... and shave their legs.

(I'm posting a couple of graphic photos below from velogogo, continue at your own risk, but they're really not that bad.)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

New blog

I started a new blog. I wanted a place where I could write very specifically about my efforts to live sustainably. It's sort of instructional, sort of experimental and it just has a different tone than this blog has. I also put in ads and things so that I could potentially make money from sales of stuff (mostly books). I think I'll still write here on occasion, but I'm writing almost daily over at my other home. Check it out here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

One sided equation

Yesterday I went on one of the most beautiful bike rides of my life. From Olympia to Brooklyn. I got off the beaten path and onto a road that wound through the hills of the area. Eventually the road turned to dirt and it started going up.

I need to take a step back and describe Brooklyn. For decades I have driven to my grandparents house and gone the long way around this massive void where there is nothing. Actually, there isn't 'nothing', that is where Brooklyn is. It just seems that while there are three roads that lead to Brooklyn, only one of them is paved. And the paved road doesn't go toward my grandparents' house. I had always seen the signs to Brooklyn, but never thought much about it since they seem to lead to nowhere. As I'm thinking of riding my bike to my grandparents' house, I found a shortcut through Brooklyn. It just seems that it takes a bunch of logging roads through Brooklyn. Yesterday I went to see how bad the logging roads were.

Pretty soon I'm going to move onto the point that I want to make. On the logging road to Brooklyn, there are no telephone poles, no road signs and only the occasional white post to indicate where the side of the road is. Not only that, but there was virtually no litter. Over the 11 miles to Brooklyn, I found one empty bottle of brake fluid. I'm glad that I wasn't on the road while the logging truck with no brakes was there.

I came to a couple of overlooks and I could look out over miles and miles of hills and not see a single power line, cell tower or anything that appears to be man made. Well, there didn't seem to be anything man made except for vast expanses of clear cuts. Come to think of it, the only reason there were overlooks was because I was in the middle of an area that had recently been clear cut.

I got to thinking about how I found the great beauty in being away from the pollution created by man, but I hardly noticed the devastation in the clear cuts. Looking out over the hills of trees at different stages of growth (or destruction) looked like rolling hills in the Midwest that grow corn and soybeans. You could see the outline of crops being harvested and it made the Midwest seem so small.

As I rode along, I thought of things that are similar to my recognition of the beauty while overlooking the devastation of the clear cut. I thought of finances of most American families. Most people focus on making more money. If we aren't happy or if we don't have everything that you want, it is because we don't make enough money. We look at making more money as the solution. Like on my bike ride, I was originally just looking at the lack of pollution, most people in their finances only look at their lack of resources.

When you take a step back, you can see that maybe it's not all about making money, but rather being content with what you have or changing what you buy (or don't buy) so that you don't have to make as much money. Despite the fact that there were very few things that I saw that looked like pollution, pollution also appeared in the form of things that men tore down. Despite the fact that people are feeling the crunch, they could buy less instead of making more. There is more than one side to each equation, make sure that you see them.

Monday, June 13, 2011


I have read a couple of books recently that have made me think a lot. The first book I read was about a group of eco-terrorists that started by pulling up survey stakes and ended up blowing up bridges and trying to blow up a major dam. It was interesting that I could easily relate with the characters at the beginning of the book, and I could see how the characters kept getting pulled in to more and more serious crimes. Don't get me wrong, I will never blow up bridges or dams, no matter how bad they may be for the environment, but I could see how well intentioned people could end up there. ( I should point out that this was a work of fiction)

The other book that I am currently reading is about religious extremism. The book talks of well intentioned believers who find some odd teachings that they take to an extreme. After a series of events the people in the book become more extreme until God tells them to kill people. And they do. It is unbelievably disturbing how people who truly feel like they are doing what is right can end up killing innocent people. I'm a good person. I believe in God. I don't believe that God would tell kill someone, but the commonalities that I have with this guy disturb me. (Unfortunately this was a true story.)

In reading these stories I think of extremist and the opposite of extremism. I figure the average Joe who goes to work every day, does his job and dreams of things that he will never have the courage to try is the opposite of extreme. Sure, there are people who chase their dreams without being dangerous extremists, but the dangerous extremists were following their true beliefs with passion. When people find those motivational quotes that they like to read, they tend to encourage people to 'think outside the box' and follow their dreams. I like those quotes. I want to follow my dreams and they aren't traditional. I would love to live on a farm without electricity growing my own food and working side by side with my children and wife. I would love to go without owning a car. I am willing to give up a lot of traditional comforts in order to pursue various dreams that I have, whether it's simply a dream to be closer to family or if it is the right time to start a farm without electricity.

I like to think of myself as a logical person and when I take a step back, my ideals seem a lot more extreme than where the 'extremists' started. Does that mean that I should make my dreams closer to mainstream? Do I need to attend a job and not ask questions? I don't think that is the case. Maybe the difference is that I can live my ideals without breaking the law. The extremists all broke the law well before they started injuring people or blowing stuff up. So as long as I don't break the law I'm fine.

That is a nice thought, but I still don't like it. Some of my greatest heroes broke the law. Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Rosa Parks. They broke the law for the betterment of the world. My goal is not to break the law, but my ideal in life is to improve the world in whatever small way I can and historically that has often involved breaking the law.

My ultimate goal in life is to not live like everyone else. I want to make a difference. The worst way to do that is to live like everyone else. In order to make a big difference, you have to live a big life. You have to be extreme like MLK, Gandhi and Jesus himself. And you need to somehow make sure that you don't end up in the wrong kind of extremist group.

And I have another job interview on Friday. Unfortunately, there are many other jobs that I want more than I want that one. On some levels I'm afraid of being offered a job that I don't really want because I might take it.

And soon I'm going to start reading my next book about Buddhist monks. That way I can contemplate peace and love rather than extremists that end up doing bad things.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Last weekend we spent a lot of time attending the Mother Earth News Fair. It made me come alive. I loved being around people interested in community and putting community and nature before the rushed lifestyle that most people follow. I have really struggled to bond with people and really get to know them. On a little community garden tour I felt like I really made friends. People who were interested in the same things that interest me. People whose friends I'm interested in getting to know. I loved being in that community and the impact that those people are trying to make in the world. I want to be a part of that.

And so my job search continues. I've had some job interviews, but no job offers. I took a class that has qualified me for a slightly different line of jobs and I'm excited about an upcoming interview. At the same time, there is something missing. The jobs I've interviewed for are things that interest me, things that I'm trained in and things that I can do well at. They just aren't things that I'm REALLY passionate about. The problem is that those things that I'm REALLY passionate about are things that I don't have any experience doing and the jobs associated with them don't pay all that well. (and I'm not in an especially lucrative field anyway).

One thing that I've discovered in the last several months of being out of work is that it really doesn't take that much money to get by. Sure, we are parasites to my Sister and Brother-in-Law, but if this were not available, there are other opportunities around for free utilities, but it would drastically reduce my opportunities for real jobs. The point is that I dream of being a part of a community and doing what I am passionate about and I think that my family could thrive on less money if we do things differently... If we do things different than most people, but more similar to what we are doing now.

No matter what I do, I'm really looking forward to spending time with others who have the same passions as I do. I have let my insecurities keep me out of that group for too long (I feel that I just don't know enough about those topics, and I hate feeling like the dumb guy in the group), I will get involved no matter what kind of job I get. But ideally, I would really like to work in my areas of passion. I am positive that I would put more into a job and make a bigger difference in a job that I'm passionate about than one that I was educated to perform.

I'm really excited about my job interview later this week because it has benefits, but it is three 10 hour days instead of a full work week. That would give me time to do both pursue my passions and do something that I was educated to do. When I step back and take a look at my situation, I'm really excited that I haven't found a job yet because it forces me to pursue my passions and it disappoints me that I've been looking primarily where my education lies... It's time to pursue my dreams and let the education stuff slide a little. That's exciting.

Monday, May 16, 2011

IF YOU REALLY NEED TO BE HEARD... don't say anything

This is a weird period in my life. I'm looking for a job, but that gets old really quick. You can only look at lists of jobs that you aren't interested in or not qualified for for so long. I've also been spending time with family and that has been great. In my free time I've been reading and watching stuff. Last week I watched a TED video about a guy that found that he spent too much time trying to convince people to be environmentally friendly and not enough time listening. One day, he decided to go a day without talking; a day of silence. He ended up going 17 years without talking.

I've also been reading a book called, "The Tao of Inner Peace" and it has challenged me to do some different things. I keep thinking that I should, but not now. I thought of doing a day of silence, but I kept thinking that I needed a cause. I wanted to spend a day or week in silence to commemorate something or to make a point. I don't have anything to commemorate or points to make, so I put it off. As I continued reading my book, I kept thinking that there are a lot of things that I keep putting off for one reason or another. Therefore, I decided to be silent today just because it is what I feel I should do. Boy, I wish it had been more important, but I'm just doing it for myself.

I didn't really tell anyone I was going to do it today, but I had talked to my wife about being silent at some point. When I woke up today, I thought of it, so I haven't spoken today. It was funny, after being up for 10-15 minutes my wife looked at me and said, "Oh, I get it, you're not talking today".

While the day isn't over, I've learned TONS by doing this. The first thing is the power of silence. Normally when my kids start to fight, I tell them to knock it off. And if they continue, I would have said it louder until they stopped. Today, that wasn't an option. I saw the kids fighting, I walked up behind them and placed my hands gently on their shoulders. You should have seen the looks in their eyes. I didn't have to say a word.

I thought it was interesting how people follow my lead. I was serving breakfast and asking which piece of the oven pancake that the kids wanted by pointing. The boys would stop talking to communicate with my by pointing. they would use my language. I wonder how often my kids follow my cue and speak my language. In fact, that thought sort of frightens me sometimes.

In my home being silent was fine because people understood what I was doing. When I took one of my boys to the park, a stranger showed up with her daughter. She said Hi. I nodded. She asked how old my son was. I held up three three fingers. This conversation was getting awkward, so I just started ignoring her. That is not my style, and I felt terrible. I felt that I was being rude because I wasn't speaking to her. Then I thought for a moment. I have this terrible habit of thinking of what I'm going to say next while people are talking instead of actually listening to them. And then I spent time fuming internally as I seek for an opportunity to interject into a conversation. When I finally do get to say something I feel dumb because it should have been said a lot earlier in the conversation. I have this amazing ability to end conversations by saying something that doesn't quite fit in and causes everyone else to stop talking.

So I'm at the park feeling like I'm being rude, but thinking that in reality I am far more rude every day in my interactions with my friends. I need to learn how to really listen, but I'm always afraid that I'll be even more left out of conversations than usual. Bottom line is that I need work on my listening.

Another thing that I loved about today was the physical contact. I'm not a touchy person, but it's really hard to get someone's attention when you aren't talking. So when I needed to talk with my boys, I put a hand on them and they turned to me. When I was opening the oven and my sister-in-law was standing nearby, I put my hand on her back to let her know that I was about to burn the back of her knees. It wasn't a lot of contact, but it is a form of communication that I just don't use very often.

I did slip up a couple of times. The first one was sort of embarrassing. I was out on a bike ride and I had a hypothetical conversation that was going on in my head (please don't tell me that I'm the only one that has these conversations). The next thing I knew, I said something out loud. So if a guy who has a day of silence accidentally talks in the forest and nobody hears it, did he really talk?

This afternoon, my 3-year-old came in and started tickling my feet. I happen to be extremely ticklish, so I immediately asked him to KNOCK IT OFF and it was out loud. Then this evening, my wife was reading the boys a bed-time story and she made a comment and I started to respond.

I very much enjoyed the experience today. I don't think that I have the courage to do it regularly or on a day that I needed to work. (What would a potential employer say if you showed up and refused to talk, but rather wrote or acted out all of your responses? Next interview that I don't really want, I'm going to try it.) The video that started it all off, that guy found a job and taught college classes without speaking. He even walked from San Fransisco to Missoula to take the job and start going to school there. I wish I could do that, but I'm just not that guy.

My overall take on the experience: I missed talking to my wife. I felt rude not talking to people I encountered. I felt guilty talking to myself. I liked a lot of the silent communication with my children, but some words would have been good. I liked some physical communication.

This evening, my wife asked me what I thought of the day; how I thought it went. I gave her a thumbs up (I hate that gesture, it feels cheesy, but I used it a lot today). I then pointed at her to 'ask' what she thought. She said that she really liked it...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Decisions and money

I really don't like looking for a job. I'm not an especially competitive person and I am way too honest for the resume and interview portions of the Job Application Pageant. Another problem is that I don't know exactly what I want to do.

I've spent years in the fitness industry, and I just don't feel like I fit there. I can do it. I even think I'm fairly good at it. I'm just not a fitness kind of guy. I don't really want to help anyone look good in a swimsuit, I think there are far greater concerns in the world that I would rather be working on.

So I've applied with health departments and alternative transportation organizations, but I haven't had any success. My lack of success is probably closely related to my lack of experience in those areas.

And then there's alternative building methods that really interests me. I have absolutely no experience and very little knowledge in that area. I called up a green building company to ask if they had any openings. They asked me if I had any experience. I said no. They asked about my education. I said that I had advanced degrees in exercise physiology. They asked what I thought I could do. I didn't have any idea... So I stammered around and said that I just wanted to do something. Oddly, they weren't looking for anyone at that point. I haven't called on green builders since then. I have tried to get into volunteering somewhere, but I really haven't found anyone who is willing to take me in.

So I'm sitting here, doing nothing and it's driving me nuts. OK, I'm not really doing nothing, but I'm not satisfied with what I'm getting done. I'm doing quite a bit of reading and I enjoy that. I've also started writing a book. So far it is terrible, but I still work on it because I feel that the premise has potential and it makes me feel like I'm doing something.

Oh, and I apply for jobs. I apply for jobs that I fear getting. I apply for jobs for which I'm terribly over qualified. I apply for jobs that I'm excited about. I apply for jobs that I hope I don't get. I apply for jobs that I don't think I could do. Sometimes it feels like a game because I just keep applying for jobs. I've had seven interviews in three months, so I don't feel like it's going that poorly, but I would like to be doing something more.

Here comes the big decision that weighs on me. We have money in savings and we could continue to live like this for another year or more as I continue to put in applications to various jobs (which would drive me nuts). Or, I've thought of starting a business. I've done it before, it's not that difficult. I mean it's not difficult except the making enough money to support your family part of starting a business. Starting the business is really easy.

What business would I like to start? I could make soap (except I doubt supporting a family on that income). I could start a pedicab company in a mid-sized town somewhere, except I fear the start-up cost and the ability to make money at it. I could start an alternative building company to help build houses for the poor (that really excites me), except I have no building experience, no equipment and the poor are generally not good at paying for things.

That seems to leave starting a fitness business. I could do it, I have confidence that I could make it a good business. I have confidence that I could support my family with it. I also have confidence that it would drive me nuts on many levels because the services that I think people need, are not the same as what they think they want.

I've been sending out some more unconventional propositions asking for exchanges and different approaches to saving money, starting a business or finding a job. I'm excited about that. I'm excited about unconventional. We'll see.

But for now, I'm going back to writing my book that needs a lot of work so that I can make my millions as an author.