200th Blog Follower! Plus, New EU Privacy Rules Every WordPress Blogger Should Heed & R.I.P. Sue Grafton

200 Followers: I’d Like to Thank the Academy

200th Followers

I recently received the awesome news that my count of blog followers has hit 200! (Actually, it’s now 209, thanks to one more and those getting it through email.) It’s not a huge number compared to many, but I’m really grateful, since I started the year at 20 followers. So thanks to everyone, especially if you are actually reading my stuff! You know who you are. My intention was to list followers 101-200 in a post, as I did with the first 100, but there’s not an easy way to do that. If anyone knows how to download one’s follower list in a spreadsheet format, please let me know!

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Sunsets, Quakers and Yoginis (oh my!)

SWCT Sunday sunset 011716
Southern Walnut Creek Trail view at sunset

So many sights, sounds and stories occur over the course of a ride they cannot all be encapsulated.  Three deer staring at me from the Southern Walnut Creek Trail (my home turf, stomping on the pedals grounds).  I came upon two fellow bicyclists, Chad and Joey, fixing a tire.  They were fine, but asked about my awesome bright yellow visor with the words BIKE AUSTIN emblazoned on it.  (Bike Austin is a great bicycling advocacy organization I finally joined as a member — you can and should too! — and for whom I began volunteering a couple of months ago; I’ve been on some of their social rides, too.)  Another rider had asked me while I was seated, putting on more clothes, if I “had all I needed.” (As a matter of fact, A Dude was without back-up tubes, a risky no-no).  So, instant karma.  There was the awesome sunset pictured above.  And so on.  The wonders never cease.  Here’s the link to today’s map, data and other cool stuff on Strava (bicycling app).

I began the day by attending Quaker aka Friends Meeting, which is a generally silent meditation, though if people are so led they may stand and speak, as two elders did.  A Dude has been meditating daily half an hour for almost a year, so this was a good way to check that off today’s to-do list whilst in the supportive company of others.  Not unlike bicycling, while also purely an individual effort, when practiced in a group setting, meditation is just easier, somehow.  Amidst the backdrop of traffic noise, a fussy baby, the occasional coughs and creaking building, I found a bit of peace and stillness that I tried to carry with me on the bike the rest of the day.  Quakers are also into peace and simplicity, and biking certainly supports those values.  If more people biked instead of drove a car, the U.S. military would have less need to invade countries for their oil, and there’d be less pollution, too.  It’s certainly simpler and cheaper to bike than maintain and operate a car.  (About $8,000 a year according to a local biking guru.)

But I digress. 

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Thus Spoke A Dude: A Blog for All and None

Jan 1 Austin Weird foto

3,000 miles.  That is (approximately) how far I rode my bicycle(s) in 2015.  It’s an accomplishment many have surpassed with ease, but it’s one worth noting nonetheless.  Worth noting to whom remains to be seen.  But on this first evening of the new year, January 1, 2016, this web blog starts with not a bang, but a proud whisper, a simple note to self:  “Hey, you really did that.  Great job!”

To put that distance into some perspective:  3,000 miles (or 4828.04 kilometers) is the equivalent of going from San Diego, California to New York, New York.  Or from Vancouver, British Columbia to Ottawa, Quebec. Or just a little less than from Tangier, Morocco to Moscow, Russia (maybe including the ferry ride).  And so on.  When thought of in those terms, it’s a very, very long way.  I’m an average guy, not an elite cyclist, so I felt every mile.

So how did I do it?  Why did I do it?  What difference does it make?  Can I inspire others to have an awesome year in whatever arena they choose?  As I begin a new year of bicycling (4,000 miles, perhaps?), those are the sorts of questions I hope to explore.  Along with some stories, personalities, maybe some tips and tricks, and whatever else seems relevant, interesting or worth (web)logging about.

While biking is the main fodder/food for thought, it is not the only one, just currently the main topic.  I also do yoga, meditate, work, attempt to be in better shape, volunteer (currently at two bike groups), have friends, family, and soon again roommates, enjoy movies, tv and comedy, plus other stuff.  Which if I write about may be by turns amusing, compelling, educational, or boring as hell.  Hopefully not the last one.  Boring is bad.  Unless you’re a miner.

So let’s get to it:  Today I biked 25 miles.  Not a huge distance, but not a walk in the park either.  It was cold (40’s), cloudy, a bit windy, but dry here.  Here being the self-proclaimed “Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin, Texas.  (Feel free to visit, but please don’t move here – too many people already are doing that, rents are high, traffic’s horrible, summers are super hot and humid, and it’s full of bicyclists.)  Anyway, I picked up my riding buddy and we intended to join a local bike advocacy group, Bike Austin, for their Chasing the New Year’s Baby ride.  Well, my friend had left his tire at my place and I left it there too, so the group ride didn’t happen.  First rule of cycling:  plan ahead.  But we went on our own ride, and that was fine. Continue reading