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Archive for the ‘Being Serious (a serious being)’ Category

This past weekend, over a million people marched for gun control after yet another school shooting, this time in Florida. People from all over the country gathered in D.C. for a rally to let our politicians know that they think #enoughisenough.

I watched some of the speeches online and was moved by the strength and eloquence of the students and their friends. As others in the media have suggested, these kids act more like adults than our President.

Though I was unable to attend the march in San Francisco, where we live, my boyfriend and I happened upon one of the marches in Walnut Creek:

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It was heatwarming to see so many people gathered for the cause, knowing marches like this were happening all over the country.

I’m hoping, unlike with the Million Mom March, that these marches will facilitate change. I’m hoping the movement doesn’t fade from the headlines to be replaced by the latest Trump shenanigans. I’m hoping the politicans who are supposed to be representing their constituents finally stand up to the #NRA. It would seem almost negligent to turn a blind eye to all of us who want change so we can feel safe living our everyday lives.

The movement will be an uphill battle. For years, politicians have been slaves to the corporations that lobby them. (On a side note, I wonder why we allow politicians to take donations from the corporations they ultimately end up supporting. Can’t we make it illegal? I don’t care if that means politicians have to raise money in a more grassroots way; that’s what most of us have to do in our lives.) It may come down to convincing everyone to #votethemout and replace the NRA-beholden Congress with representatives who truly represent their constituents. I’m lucky to live in a city and state that generally aligns with my values, but even in California there are red districts.

Do you live in a red district? Call your reps and demand they break from the NRA!

If you live in California, you can start here: Flip the 14

Let’s be the change we want to see!

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The Swastika originally denoted good luck and auspiciousness. The word “Swastika” comes from the Sanskrit “svastika,” which refers to good fortune or well-being. The image of crossed and hooked lines is thought to have represented the movement of the sun through the sky and is still considered a sacred symbol in several Eastern religions.

However, in the early 1900s, the Swastika was adapted as a symbol of Aryan pride and was eventually associated with the Nazis and a racially pure state. Many people today consider it a controversial symbol used by Hitler and the Nazi party, as opposed to its original meaning. What feelings does seeing a Swastika evoke in you? Probably not feelings of well-being.

Let’s jump to the present. Today’s political environment is tense at best. The country appears to be divided between Trump supporters and the #resistance. We have a president who doesn’t seem to care about anything besides lining his pockets at the expense of the American people. Many members of his cabinet are known for being racist. The wall and the Muslim ban are just two prime examples of this.

Then we have Black Lives Matter (BLM), a movement born during Obama’s presidency as a result of the prolific abuse of black citizens by authority figures. From the Black Lives Matter website:

Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.  It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.

I support the BLM movement. It’s important and, unfortunately, necessary.

But this morning, I saw the following posted on the BLM Facebook page:

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Don’t get me wrong, I am not a Trump supporter. Every day I read the headlines and worry about what he and his cronies are going to do to ruin our country. If I ever ran into him, I’d probably whack him with my u-lock. But really? The symbol for “okay” in American Sign Language is purportedly being used to promote white supremacy? And the white supremacists flash it like a gang sign to let each other know they’re racist? I think it’s pretty obvious that they are racist. Everyone knows it. It’s not as though they’re trying to hide it. Could they be using it as some secret code to each other and their supporters? I guess so. But it seems like a stretch to me. Just one more reason to be wary of our current administration, if we even need another reason.

On the other hand (hehe, get it?), maybe it’s legit. Maybe we all need to stop telling each other it’s “okay” with our hands, just like we need to boycott this, that, and the other thing because the brother of a friend of Trump’s cousin contributed to Trump’s campaign. When does this all stop? Where do we draw the line? It’s getting to the point where I’m afraid to say or do anything because I may inadvertently insult someone, and that is definitely not my intention. I don’t discriminate: I hate everyone equally. (Kidding. Kind of.)

So, I’ve decided I’ll just start flipping everyone the bird. That way, I’ll know I’m not being misunderstood.

 

Sources: ThisThis & This

 

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This year, Valentine’s Day conveniently fell during a long weekend. And though I don’t typically subscribe to the Hallmark Holiday, it was a legit excuse to force implore the boyfriend to plan an epic biking adventure. Climate Ride is fast approaching and I need to start training. Also, let’s be real: I wanted to see what he’s capable of. Spoiler alert: He didn’t disappoint. [See Nick’s color commentary in italic within brackets. Thanks for contributing!]  

We took off late Sunday morning on our road bikes, mine with a medium-sized saddle bag and Nick’s War Machine fully loaded:

hot nick and bike

I didn’t know the specifics of the trip – only that we’d be staying at Point Reyes Hostel on our first night and somewhere in Occidental on our second night. Oh yeah, and that we’d be covering anywhere from 140 to 200 miles in three days of riding. You’d think my Type A personality couldn’t handle the mystery, but deep down inside I just want someone to take charge and let me follow.

Sunday’s ride up the coast was beautiful and familiar since I’ve ridden most of that route on multiple occasions. Considering it’s an el niño winter, we lucked out with the weather. All three days were warm and mostly sunny, and the nights were clear and not too chilly. We made our way north, stopping for lunch in Fairfax and again in Point Reyes Station to load up on food and beer for our night at the hostel. We hit our first significant climb at Limantour Road, with grades ranging from 6-12%. About halfway up we took a photo and beer break:

bike and hill

We powered up the remainder of the climb to reach the hostel before sunset and timed it perfectly; pastel pinks stretched across the sky as we pedaled toward the hostel. By the time we checked into the hostel and got settled, we only had a couple of hours to enjoy the property and interesting company, including a woman who was obsessed with the rules and a guitar-playing father. Monday morning we were up with the sun. After a quick cup of coffee (Nick roasts coffee at home), we set off for Occidental, having to scale that 17% grade right off the bat. And we threw in a short 10-mile detour to see Drake’s shipwreck, which I’d been dead set on finding:

ghost ship

Monday’s route took us north along Tomales Bay, surrounded by wildflower-covered rolling hills:

scenic canal

And you can’t ride through Marshall without stopping for oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co. I grabbed two dozen (hey, we were hungry), and Nick carried them and a bag of ice with us a couple more miles north until we found the perfect shady spot alongside the road to enjoy the salty deliciousness and some Pinot Grigio Hard Apple Cider and Michelada splashed with oyster juice goodness.

shuck oysters

We then turned inland toward Occidental, sliding through Tomales and Valley Ford. Before hitting the Airbnb, we took a slight detour to Wild Flour Bakery, where we got a cinnamon roll the size of Nick’s head and a rose/date/something scone. Though we wanted to save the cinnamon roll for Tuesday morning, we couldn’t resist tasting the freshly baked pastry. My mouth may have climaxed, it was so delicious.

Our final ascent to the Airbnb was a slog, albeit a gorgeous one with goats, [longhorn cattle] and donkeys to boot. After our arrival I informed Nick that there was no way I’d be heading back down into Occidental for dinner (see the bottom right of below photo for the elevation profile):

Strava Day 1-2

To my utter relief, Nick offered to ride back down into town and get liquid provisions for the evening. And our excellent host Mary offered to bring us back pizza since she would be dining in town anyway. While Nick was away, I showered and then chilled in one of the hammocks on the property: [Two acres at the end of a long lane nestled in the hills above the town.]

hammock view

Before long, Nick returned and we enjoyed an epic and fiery sunset, along with interesting conversation with our host (and we devoured that pizza – well, Nick did). I’m grateful we had some time to chill at the Airbnb, because Mary’s home and property were absolutely charming and far removed from civilization.

Tuesday morning came quickly. Nick made some coffee and we snacked on the cinnamon roll and some bread (from Wild Flour!) and homemade applesauce that Mary offered us. By 8:30, we were saying our goodbyes and were out the door. But first we had to stop and say hi to our new friends the goats and donkeys:

nick and goat

The landscape on Tuesday’s ride south was breathtaking. We took Coleman Valley Road from Occidental to the Pacific Coast Highway. Though the climbing was intense, the views were worth the work. I highly recommend you check out the route:

hills and ocean colemannick coming up hill

And upon reaching the coast, we were rewarded with a cool sea breeze tailwind. We wound our way back along the coast and Tomales bay, stopping again for oysters, because oysters. [As we relaxed next to a cemetery along Highway 1 Nick, overcome by oysters and doughnuts, decided to take a short nap]. A few miles before we hit Stinson, Nick opted to take an alternate route that would keep car traffic to a minimum. He was right. Though the climb was relentless (see Strava image below), we pretty much had the road to ourselves. After approximately five miles of climbing, we hit familiar territory: Seven Sisters! [For reference, Seven Sisters is the road that leads to Pantoll between Stinson beach and the 101 corridor.]

Seven Sisters mapnick on 7 sisters

I felt conflicted. Reaching Seven Sisters meant we were almost home. But it also meant our epic adventure was coming to an end, and it would be back to civilization and reality. I cast those feelings aside to take in the sunset over Stinson and the sweet smell of freedom (or maybe that was Nick’s shirt after three days of sweating). The moment was fleeting – we wanted to get into Mill Valley before dark. Descending Mt. Tam after sundown can be slightly daunting.

It was almost 8 p.m. by the time we reached my place, exhausted, dirty and sweaty. The glorious exhaustion one can only feel after biking over 200 miles in three days!

strava day 3

Two days later and I’m still reeling from the trip, in a good way. I’m grateful to Nick for pulling off such a magnificent weekend. The route was fabulous, but the company was even better. I’m proud of myself for finishing off a three-day bike ride strong with a 93-mile and 8k’ day. I feel ready for Climate Ride, and I still have over two months to train. BRING IT!

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2016 is off to a great, albeit rainy, start. And I’m hoping it will keep getting better and wetter (Depeche Mode reference there). For all of you who’d hoped and prayed I’d finish the 30 Days of Truths, you’re SOL. Stop your crying – I’m sure time will heal your wounds. Hey, at least I got through most of them! But now my focus is on other things, like biking.

Late last year I registered for Climate Ride, a 320-mile ride down the California coast to raise awareness of and support for sustainability, active transportation and environmental causes. I’m lucky enough to be on a team sponsored by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, a nonprofit organization that does amazing advocacy work for cycling in the city. This, as you know, is extremely important to me as someone who commutes by and basically lives on my bike(s). My other beneficiary is the Environmental Working Group, whose mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. I’ve been using their website for years to ensure I’m buying clean products. I encourage you to use the site as well.

Though I’m super stoked to be a part of this, I’m also a little nervous. It’s been a hot second since I’ve done a big ride, and with all of this rain, I haven’t been able to bike as much as I’d like. In fact, I’ve only done one significant ride this year! The Climate Ride isn’t until May, so I’m not in panic mode yet, but it’s time to get on it.

The other thing I need to get on, besides my bike, is fundraising. I’ve set a goal of $2,800, though I’m hoping to exceed that goal. These organizations need our financial support to keep doing their good work! So if you’re feeling particularly generous and want to spend some tax-deductible money on a good cause, feel free to donate to my ride using the link below. I would super appreciate the support, as much or as little as you’re able to give.

http://support.climateride.org/participant/tracyjacks

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I came across this article today and wanted to write about it. Not because it makes a reference to Pride and Prejudice… okay, partially because it makes a reference to Pride and Prejudice… but because I completely agree with it.

I’ve always believed a person, lover or not, can become infinitely more attractive (or ugly) as you get to know his or her personality. Plenty of times I’ve met a guy who I initially found hot but whose appearance became increasingly less appealing as I got to know him. And then there were the men I wrote off at first because they weren’t “my type” only to wake up one day with the realization that I had a huge crush on them. Same goes for friends — or enemies — in my life.

“Perceptions of mate value change the more time that people spend together.”

So, so true. I’m a fan of “slow love,” or falling for the book and not its cover. Which is why I think it’s vitally important to keep an open mind when meeting someone new, especially if it’s through dating apps. Don’t be in such a rush to swipe left! Several people I’ve dated would have been left-swiped on Tinder at the time. Thankfully (I think), I met these people in-person, and I fell for them after getting to know them. But it makes me wonder how many people I may have eliminated in the past because they didn’t fit my definition of attractive when presented to me on my phone’s small screen. I’ve since come to my senses, and though I’m not actively swiping bitches right now, I’m mindful of this phenomenon and its implications.

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Taking another break from the 30 Days list to discuss something my friend Johnny posted on Facebook this morning. This is a quick rant, so bear with me.

Two men have a Kickstarter for a new type of phone that is a smart phone (so not really) stripped down to the bare minimum. It’s a way for people to disconnect without feeling helpless should they need to get in touch with someone. It’s called The Light Phone. It makes sense in theory, but in practice not so much. I honestly feel like people shouldn’t need to force themselves to disconnect. Do we really live in a world where the only way to resist the urge to use our smart phones is to leave them at home? Do we no longer have any self-control? I’ll be the first to admit that there are times I can almost feel my phone calling to me from my bag. And I often have to consciously stop myself from pulling it out and checking it every few minutes (mostly when I’m bored). But this seems borderline absurd.

I, for one, don’t think someone should need to pay $100 to have yet another electronic device in order to stay disconnected. And I like to use my smart phone for things other than status updates. Not to mention this auxiliary device will just contribute to the proliferation of waste. Willpower, people! You have it somewhere deep down in there. Use it!

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Sorry for the short hiatus. I just bought my first place (Yay! I own a tiny little piece of San Francisco!) and have been busy sorting that out and attempting to maintain some sort of social life. I really can’t wait until I can finally move into my place and start enjoying it. My social life may go down the drain at that point, but at least it will be by choice. Kind of. I’m trying not to think about my new financial situation. Anyway, onto the list. At this rate, it may take me a year to get through it…

Am I supposed to talk about religion or politics? I suppose I can touch upon both, since I see them in a similar light. Both are subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) ways to manipulate the population. Now mind you I’m talking about mainstream religion and politics here, since that’s what most people subscribe to.

I’m technically Jewish, but the religion wasn’t forced on me. I went to Sunday school as a child but opted out when I was old enough to have a say. I didn’t have a Bat Mitzvah, though I attended plenty of my friends’. Judaism isn’t offensive to me. From what I know of the religion, it teaches tolerance and acceptance (and history). And damn, do I love the food. But, I don’t know much. I probably know more about Christianity, which, for the most part, I see as cultish and intolerant. Any religion that relegates a whole group to hell because they’re different is not okay with me. Any religion that literally interprets an old book written by men is not okay with me. Any religion that will take action based on some God in the sky is not okay with me. George Carlin puts it best: “Religion is bullshit.” This clip is worth the 10 minutes of your time, believe me. Especially if you’re willing to spend hours of your time listening to a sermon.

And politics? Even more “big-time, major league bullshit.” I’d love to see the day when politicians aren’t influenced by the lobbyists and their large donations and when board members and employees of large and powerful companies *cough* Monsanto *cough* aren’t walking through a rotating door into Washington, D.C. When it comes to national politics and politicians, I again turn to George Carlin. I prefer to vote with my wallet and actions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for local politics, but national elections are a joke. And whether Democrat or Republican, they all suck.

Needless to say, I’m a skeptic when it comes to both religion and politics. As far as I’m concerned, they both can go to hell.

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It’s Throwback Thursday (which follows Witty Wednesday), so why not take a break from telling the truth to reminisce about the good old days of running through sprinklers in our yards and careering down the slip-n-slide into the grass?

slip n slide

Photo from Slide the City

Oh, but we don’t have to reminisce! Because a giant slip-n-slide is coming to San Francisco and a bunch of other cities in the great dry state of California! Normally, I’d be all for a huge slippery slope taking over a street in SF, but not right now. We are in a severe drought that has everyone in an uproar, and rightly so. It’s difficult to wrap my mind around the fact that any organization would be stupid enough to bring a huge wet slide to California — and it really must be stupid to think July is a great time of year for water-related activities in San Francisco. I recall my first visit to this great city. It was in July, around my birthday. And it was fucking foggy & frigid!

The organization’s website touts that they’re going to recycle the water and return it back to the city for use (?) once the event is over. But if any of you recall how slip-n-slides work, not all of the water used will be available for recycling. Much of it will splash out to water the pavement (bringing to mind the Panhandle sprinklers debacle) or evaporate. Or get peed in. And the most offensive part of all? The site compares the slide’s use of water per day to a golf course, because it’s so much less. Oh no they didn’t!

For those of you who live in California, you probably know about this and have signed the petition. For anyone else, please consider doing so. Because our precious water feeds our crops, which feed most of America. And, like many people have been saying, EVERY LITTLE BIT COUNTS.

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UPDATE: Hate (not really) to say I told you so.

I’m taking a break from 30 Days of Truths to briefly jump back into what this blog was originally about (kind of): nature and that sort of shit.

When I read that the FDA is looking into releasing GM mosquitoes in the U.S., my blood started to boil. Here we go again, trying to fuck with the ecosystem to help our own species.

It’s true that mosquitoes are the world’s deadliest animals: BiggestKillers_final_v8_no-logo

(Photo credit)

But, as this article states, they are also the easiest to repel, and most of the diseases they carry can be avoided with vaccinations.

I fully believe that mosquitoes, like everything else on this planet (well, every natural thing on this planet) are here for a reason. In addition to population control, they make up part of the diet of bats, purple martins, and other species, including, believe it or not, mosquitofish. They may seem annoying and pointless to us, but could you imagine how many people would populate this earth if disease spread by mosquitoes didn’t kill a whole bunch of them? True, it’s easy for me to say this as someone with healthcare sitting in front of a computer in an urban, relatively mosquito-free area. Others are not so fortunate. But I don’t think that screwing with the DNA of mosquitoes is the way to solve this “issue.”

If you’re going to focus time and money on anything, focus it on getting vaccinations to the people who need them.

Then again, maybe if the DNA in these modified mosquitoes turns out to be detrimental to the human population, we can finally surpass mosquitoes as the world’s deadliest animal.

 

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I can’t believe it’s almost February and I’m only on Day 08. What a slacker! Though the fact that I’ve posted more in the past two months than I did in all of 2012 and 2013 ought to count for something. Onto the post at hand…

Unfortunately, being the sensitive soul that I am, I have quite a few people who fall into this category. But there is one person in particular who treated me like shit and made my life hell. I’m grateful that she was only in my life for a relatively short period of time, but it was an extremely stressful time. Almost everyone who knows me has heard about my roommate from hell (RFH). I apologize in advance for what will most definitely be a rambling and crazy post.

The year was 2001. The town was Brighton, MA. I had just graduated from college and was super stoked to have a full-time job and be moving into my first post-college apartment with two roommates. One of the girls was the master tenant; she’d been there for a while. She was also older and working toward her PhD in physical therapy. I don’t remember how I found the place, but a good college friend of mine hooked us up with a mutual friend from school for the third bedroom. At first, we all got along. We shopped for common area stuff, hung out a lot in the apartment, and generally had a good time. After a while, RFH’s behavior started to grate on me. She never cleaned up after herself, and she was loud and inconsiderate. She also tended to be a bully, forcing us other two girls to accommodate her needs. I was starting to realize that, on top of it all, she was somewhat of a phony. I despise phonies.

To make matters worse, we had a bit of a car/parking situation. Our parking setup was off-street tandem, and since she didn’t know how to drive a standard, I always had to park in front of her. That meant shuffling cars myself when she wasn’t home. She didn’t allow me to take the spare car keys, so any time I needed to come or go and she wasn’t there to move her car (or was too lazy to come out and do it herself — yes, this happened), I had to leave my car idling outside, run in to get her spare keys, then run back out to shuffle the cars. At first it was no big deal, because I rarely drove. But once I started dating a guy who lived an hour away, I was driving more frequently and shuffling cars a lot more. When I asked her if she’d mind me holding onto her spare keys so I didn’t have to run in and out of the apartment, she flat-out refused “just in case a friend of hers may need to borrow the car.” (Which never happened.)

One specific incident burned itself into my brain. It was a rainy Monday of a long weekend, and I was returning from a movie and the grocery store with a car full of groceries. Upon getting home, there was a car parked in my spot. Due to the weather, I opted to pull up alongside the house where I’m technically not supposed to park (you need a permit to park on those streets, and I didn’t have one due to my car being registered in another town). When I got inside, RFH was there with her parents. Her parents were the ones blocking my space. After I unloaded my stuff and needed to park, I asked RFH if her parents could possibly move their car so I could get into the driveway. She essentially flipped out and refused. They did eventually leave, and I was lucky to not have gotten any sort of citation.

Time went on, and things got to the point where both the third older roommate and me weren’t talking to RFH unless we had to. But since older roommate was gone a lot between work, school, and her boyfriend, I got the brunt of RFH’s attitude. And it wasn’t just sloppiness, but also personal attacks. By now, I was mostly staying in my room or with my boyfriend. I consistently had stomach issues, because I’m not good at confrontation, and my emotions manifest them in my stomach.

When it finally came time to renew the lease, RFH told me: “Come August, you’d better find a new place.” Little did she know that older roommate and I already planned to ask RFH to leave. So at the time, I just smiled and walked away, knowing older roommate, as master tenant, would be the one to break the news.

*******

On moving day, RFH’s parents are once again on site. I had been staying at my boyfriends and had passive-aggressively taken her spare car keys, knowing she’d need them before leaving. I also knew I’d be getting home well before she left, but by now I was blinded by anger. When I get to the apartment, they’re about two-thirds of the way done, so I just walk into my room and shut the door. Not five minutes later, I hear a knock. I open the door to see her dad, who says something like: “We have been nothing but nice to you, and then you go and give it to us up the ass.” Gestures and all. I’m so shaken/angry/scared that I take her spare keys and chuck them into the hall, slam my door, and call my boyfriend to talk to him until they’re gone.

*******

Thankfully, that was the last I saw of RFH and her parents. Older roommate and I replaced RFH with a sweet Irish girl who might as well have been an angel compared to RFH.

There you have it. The first (and worst) in a series of roommate experiences that have convinced me living alone (unless it’s with a partner) is the way to go.

*Deep breaths*

Read the full list of truths here.

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