Journal Entries

Surf Chitty

I had it all planned out. I was going for a nice long ride up to Occidental or Sebastopol. I had everything all ready to go, and realized I left my helmet in the car and my wife took it to Lowe’s.

I thought I’d make the best of it and go surfing. So I squeezed myself into the wetsuit and lugged my 9.5′ foamy down to the beach. The water was so cold my face hurt. There were no waves, just a lot of chop and no breakers. I called it quits after 30 minutes. Session sucked. But at least I can say “I went surfing.”

Nothing is worse than realizing going with my wife to Lowe’s was probably my best option.

I think I’ll go for a hike. What could possibly go wrong? I’m afraid I might find out. Stay tuned…

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Jeep Re-hab

I know I already wrote about Eddie Alterman’s podcast, but I just listened to the one he did about the Jeep Wrangler. It motivated me to get cracking on our own. 15 years ago if you looked in my driveway, you would have seen a 97 Camry and a 02 Sienna minivan. These were two of the most boring, and practical cars you could possibly own.

They were both reliable vehicles, but that’s not what made them boring. The Camry was beige and the van was silver. It was part of Toyota’s “why bother” phase of design. The interiors were all the same color. The cluster matched the cloth seats. The only accent was black, the default color of plastic in cars. Camry’s before and after that year were all more interesting looking. As for the Sienna, it basically the Camry with a third row of seats.

Our minivan was the last model year they were that dull. Subsequent models have had all kinds of luxury such as leather seats, and actual bespoke sound systems, not just stereos. The only real upgrade for minivans back then were back-of-seat entertainment which we passed on. They practically wouldn’t let us buy it without. Having kids they thought we were crazy.

Today, if you look in my driveway, you’ll see a 1997 Jeep Wrangler and 1985 VW Vanagon Westfalia. Two of the most high-maintenance vehicles one could possibly own. Objectively, and mechanically, to a standard consumer, they would be categorized as pieces of shit. They always need work, as reliability wasn’t a requirement when they were built.

I didn’t get around to writing anything yesterday. I was too busy putting the finishing touches on the Jeep. It needed new carpet and seat covers. When I ordered those things, I was told they would come from two different shippers. No big deal, so I thought. When the seat covers arrived, I went ahead and took out all the seats an ripped out the carpet. A day later, I got the email the carpet was backordered.

Two weeks later, the carpet showed up and so I was able to finish the job and it looks so much better.

Before
After

I thought I had taken more before shots. It was just an empty shell before. The only thing left to do is steam clean the console, power wash the bikini top, and give the outside a good spray. Then it’ll be summer ready.

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Twenty Seventh

Today is our 27th anniversary. That’s a big number when you’re talking about marriage. It’s also the year rockstars tend to die. So hopefully, that’s just a coincidence.

There’s a list a list of gifts you’re supposed to give based on your anniversary. It’s not too specific. They just suggest what material it should be made of. First is paper, 25th is silver, and 50th is gold. Other years are copper, candy, wood, aluminum, china, bronze and so on. It reads like a list of acceptable items for the recycling bin.

There’s a gift for every year until you get to 25. After that, it goes by fives. I guess that makes after accumulating 25 years of crap, and very few people stop caring how long you’ve been married after so many years. It’s kind of like running a marathon. If you can run one, everyone assumes you can 2 or 200.

I’m fine putting things on pause after 25 years accumulating a bunch of stuff. But it might make sense to add 26th to the list and for that anniversary give the gift of storage.

On other notes. Last night, I went out with my son who just came back from spending a month living in an AirBnb he rented in the city. He loved the experience and has a whole new outlook on the place. I’m glad, because I love San Francisco. The people who bitch the most about that city, seem to be the ones who’ve done the most to ruin it.

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Strong opinions, weekly held

I’m working on an idea, I’m not sure what it’ll be, but the working title is “Strong opinions, weekly held.” It’s a play on the decision-making framework by the futurist Paul Saffo. In Saffo’s case, he uses it to make decisions based on incomplete information, which I think makes perfectly good sense. Too many people act as if there’s a finite set of data they can accumulate, it’s just a matter of collecting it all, to make correct decisions.

At first, I was thinking of a podcast where I just talk about an opinion I currently have about some topic. I have a tendency to form strong opinions about trivial things or topics I know little about for a short period of time. But that’s really just talk radio, and the world doesn’t need anymore assholes like Ben Shapiro or Alex Jones.

Instead, it might be more interesting to hear other people tell me about a strong opinion they have about a particular subject. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a controversial topic like abortion. In fact, it might be more interesting to hear someone that has a controversial opinion about something everyone else doesn’t.

Another take is to ask people to unpack their opinions. So why is it you feel so strongly about something? Have you really given it a lot of thought? Have you ruled out any biases? Are you holding onto an opinion out of a deep personal conviction or set of principles? Are there ever situations where it’s okay to have a static opinion that cannot be changed? Is there really such a thing as an unassailable position on something? Can any opinion be changed, or challenged? Do you have an opinion or is it a belief?

The reason all this interests me is because it seems like we’re living in a world of rampant narcissism and much of it is driven by everyone forming opinions that are self-centric.

The big question I want to ask is whatever happened to ambivalence? What is so wrong about having mixed feelings about something?

I have heard the truest sign of intelligence is to hold two opposed ideas in your head at the same time. I don’t know if that’s actually based on science, or just a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald (as I have just Googled it). But it’s an opinion I have held since college. I had a roommate who was getting his PhD and could take any side of an argument and drive you batshit.

At this point, what I’m thinking is having a guest, not myself, talk about an opinion they have and being willing to have it challenged. My goal isn’t to change their mind, or deepen their conviction. It’s more about getting people to admit and embrace ambivalence instead. It’s okay to have mixed feelings about something. It’s okay to admit that two different things can be true and falsifiable at the same time. Exceptions to all rules are important because it’s better to know the rules before you break them, than it is to just enforce or violate them blindly.

Addendum Think of this as the antidote to people like Joe Rogan – someone who has opinions but not necessarily principles.

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Biking with another human

I’m a biker. I have been for about 12 years now. And by biker, I don’t mean one of those Hardly Davidson types. You know what I’m talking about. Those 60-somethings with their $30,000 motorcycles and faux Hell’s Angles ensembles, that look like something you could probably get at Kohl’s.

No, I’m talking two-wheeled, bicycle. I look like a completely different kind of idiot. One of those guys festooned in skin-tight sausage casing styled clothes. Picture NASCAR. Instead of cars, it’s dudes in Spanx and sponsors from yuppie brands and craft beers. I’m kind of one of those guys. The only difference is none of my stuff matches.

For most of the pandemic, I have either been riding alone, or on a single, stationary wheel – aka my Peloton.

While walking the dogs yesterday a new neighbor I had met a couple weeks ago saw me. In our previous conversation, she mentioned her husband rode too, and didn’t have anyone to ride with. When she saw me, she came out of her house, stopped me and got her husband. I was introduced as “that guy she had been talking about.”

He and I exchanged phone numbers, and tentatively had a lunch “date” to ride. Within in an hour, I got a text that he couldn’t do lunch a lunch ride and was 50/50 for post work. Pangs of dread bubbled up in me. At first, I didn’t understand these feelings. Then I realized, these were emotions I hadn’t needed since my 20s when I was still in the dating seen. My wife had to remind me, it was just a bike ride.

Erring on the side of optimism, I squeezed into my best biking stuff and stared at my phone. At 5:25 the text arrived. He would be over in 5 minutes, just like he said he would. We hit the road, and like many first dates, I worried that I might have talked too much or came on too strong. But for that moment in time, I was back in the game baby. But now I’m confused, because I don’t know whether I was more excited to go on a ‘real’ ride again, or on a fake date.

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