Year: 2017

900 miles

At the end of July, I had a routine doctor’s visit. Got on the scale. Clocked in at 170 lb. I hadn’t weighed that much since 1991. So I got back on my bike.

I still remember when I was six years old and my father took the training wheels off my bike and convinced me to ride it. I was terrified. He ran alongside me as I rode around the block. (My little sister, in contrast, took her training wheels off by herself, leaned her bike against our father’s truck, climbed aboard, and rode off.)

After that I got the hang of it, and bikes became an important part of my life. I started going on long-distance rides when I was 13. I did a little bike touring in high school, and I competed in some triathlons and bike races starting right after I graduated high school.

I didn’t have a bike during the time I lived in Japan, and when I was living in Chicago for a couple of years after that, I had my road bike but didn’t use it much (thus the 170 lb).

After I moved back to Austin in 1992, I got back into riding, and it was a great time to be a road cyclist in Austin—there were a bunch of then-pointless and unused roads that were like a playground for cyclists—360, Southwest Parkway, Bee Cave, and so on. I hardened up and could motor all day. On one occasion, I rode the 165 miles to a friend’s place in Houston in 9 hours flat. Some months later, I did it again, 20 minutes faster.

In 2000, a lot of stuff in my life changed, and I found myself cycling less and less, but in 2010, I started riding regularly again as I prepared for my Southern Tier ride, which I completed in October that year.

But that wrecked me—my upper body was emaciated when I finished. I remember at the end of the ride struggling to lift my 30-lb bike over my head. I decided I needed some kind of a whole-body workout. I signed up for a bootcamp class, and stuck with it until it petered out several years later. I never found a replacement that interested me, so I was back to a relatively inactive lifestyle (thus the 170 lb).

As of today, I’ve logged 900 miles since that doctor’s visit. I’ve clawed back a fair amount of lost fitness, and lost the weight I wanted to lose. But I’ve got a long way to go before I’ve got the level of fitness I had when I was younger—if in fact it’s possible to attain that again. It would have been better all around if I had stayed more active.

Life on Mars

Take a look at the lawman, beating up the wrong guy

Oh man, look at those cavemen go

It’s a freaky show

Is there life on Mars?

Now watch this and have a good cry.

The next fight

As left-leaning people hunker down for the Trumpocalypse, we naturally think about the 2020 election. I don’t think Trump is going to serve the duration of his first term—I think he’s going to hate being president and will resign partway through—but I could be wrong. So let’s suppose that the Democratic nominee will be running against Trump. What will that look like? It will look bad for the Democrats.

On the Trump side:

  • Trump feels completely unconstrained by normal rules of political behavior or ethics, as evidenced by his refusal to release his tax returns, his refusal to divest from his businesses, and his nepotistic appointments.
  • Trump has had Roger Stone and Paul Manafort as campaign consultants (the two have been business partners). Roger Stone was literally part of Nixon’s dirty tricks team. Paul Manafort has helped burnish the reputation of dictators around the world, and is one of Trump’s connections to Russia.
  • Trump did not run on policy, he ran on personality, and to the extent that he offered policy ideas, he was staking out some ground that would normally belong to the Democrats anyhow.
  • Trump’s supporters will put up with the basest behavior from their candidate, sometimes denying the evidence of their lying eyes, or saying it’s not so bad. Trump himself thinks he can get away with murder.

On the Democrat’s side:

  • Many Democratic voters were understandably upset with Hillary Clinton when the hardball tactics her campaign used against Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election were brought to light (apparently with Russian help). It’s not clear whether this alienated enough potential HRC voters to swing the election, but considering how close the election was, it’s plausible.
  • Democratic voters expect some kind of Democratic-looking policies from their candidates.

Where this leaves us:

  • We can expect Trump to make use of every power, legal and illegal, at his disposal when running against the Democratic nominee, and he’ll have people on tap with relevant experience.
  • It is demonstrably impossible for Trump to alienate his supporters, but we’ve seen it’s easy for Democrats to alienate theirs.
  • Democratic candidates will fight personality with policy, using at least some policies that Trump has already staked out as his own.
  • Democratic voters will expect their candidates to behave like the primary campaign is the Spring Cotillion, but will need someone prepared to play hardball in the general election. The two probably cannot be reconciled.