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Sui Generis is all over August like special sauce on a Big Mac

July is nearly over (finally!) and my next post will be all up in glorious August. It's gonna be a great month. We have classes starting at my waitlisted law schools and then I can wave goodbye to what might have been, a missed opportunity or the worst mistake of my life.

Each week is seven days closer to my September vacation in France, during which time I plan to drink at least a bottle of wine a day and live it up à la Hemingway. No but really I hope that Paris will inspire me to write without driving me to depression, alcoholism, and suicide.

In the States, single-gear enthusiasts have two big events to get excited about. The 1st International Fixed Gear Symposium is being held in Traverse City, MI, and the next weekend we have the Single Speed World Championship in PA. Locally, the MBMA invites you to attend the Bicycle Film Fest on the 20th. I wish I could go but I think my wife would veto that plan, because...

Most importantly, August 20 is my first anniversary of marriage to Mrs. Generis. It's been a happy year and I'm looking forward to many more. See, I didn't forget! Love you, baby.


Something about all the exercize is turning me into a healthy eater. Not by choice, either; I just don't have the same appetite for junk food that I used to. The other day I turned down a smorgasbord of donuts--my favorite pastry treat!--in favor of half a walnut muffin. I don't even like walnuts that much. But just looking at the donuts made me sick, so I choked down the muffin and my tummy was happy.

Today I ate an entire giant Perkin's muffin (Bavarian creme), and now I feel like I'm going to puke.

Categories: bicycles

the first step to eternal life is you have to die

Daily bicycling is making it difficult for me to concentrate on work at the office. It's like that scene from Fight Club. An ordinary person's evening might be just as dull as working in a cubicle, but spend your nights getting punched in the face, and the contrast is dramatic.

For Tyler Durden, it's fighting with sweaty guys in a bar basement and blowing up tall buildings. For me, it's riding my bike two hours a day. When real life becomes so real, vivid and visceral, the volume gets turned down on everything else. Instead of loathing my car commute, now I live for my bike commute; it's the highlight of my day.

I arrived at the same time as a cycling coworker this morning. After parking our bikes and chatting about the nice cool weather, he said, "have a nice day." I should have said, "I already did!"

Categories: bicycles, work

Beware of bicycles

Intelligent response to an idiotic article in the St. Paul rag today. I'm posting it here because Matt has captured my sentiments exactly. At the Daily Spirit-Human, John attempts a dialogue with this goon. My expectations for a reasonable response are low.

Like it or not, Bob Sancevere is representative of a percentage of motorists who have a dangerous attitude re: cyclists and always will. Even if he changes his mind, he's not the only one who feels this way, and he's already spread his poison. There will always be entitled drivers who try to kill you, but all you can do is obey the law, ride for your life, and pray that today is not your day to die.

Happy riding!

Categories: bicycles

Today is going to be awesome

First, a bike ride, always a great way to start the day. I missed my turn and ended up taking Edgerton almost all the way up from St. Paul, which allowed me to ride past scenic Vadnais Lake. Sunrise on the water: bonus!

J confirmed our Paris apartment reservation so we have a place to stay when we arrive in France.

And when my computer had started up and I opened the main program that I use to do most of my work, the Tip of the Day window (which always appears on startup, no matter how many times I tell it not to) offered this piece of wisdom:

Fine-tuning the route

My commuting route was working okay, but I started to dread the afternoon ride because of a certain stretch of the trip where I've been hassled by motorists on several occasions. Then I happened to pick up a good book that gave me an idea. I can't avoid the crappy bit entirely, but with some creative planning I worked out a new route that cuts out most of that area, and also crosses the highways at points where there is no access (i.e. entrance & exit ramps). I rode it this morning. It was nice.

In theory, the afternoon commute should be lighter because cars will eschew these roads in favor of major arterials with highway accessibility. Maybe less car traffic will beget less driver rage will beget a friendlier commute. Or maybe it will turn out to be worse for some reason. I'll let you know how it goes.

UPDATE: Um, it needs some work. Basically pretty good but partly bad. At least now I have options.

Intention v. Motivation

Our house is for sale. I don't know if I ever mentioned it before, but the place we're renting is on the market, which means we need to evacuate for showings and open houses. In exchange for our cooperation, we are paying a reduced monthly rent. The real estate office has been good about giving notice 24 hours in advance, and we have always been able to accomodate them. On Sunday morning, however, the listing agent called to say there was an open house scheduled. . . for that afternoon. We had about four hours to clean and get out of the way.

It was an inconvenience for us because of the short warning, but we were planning to be out of the house during that time anyway. The only thing that really changed was that we spent our morning cleaning instead of lazing around. In a way, I was glad that we were forced to do something (cleaning) that we should have done in any case.

J and I both like being in an orderly house, and we both have good intentions when it comes to picking up after ourselves, but we also both have a tendency toward sloppiness. The imminent arrival of visitors is a great motivator to prod us to action, especially when it's this hot and sticky and we don't feel like doing anything at all. Sometimes life is the same way: we resist taking action until we are forced into it, and then we are glad for the change that results, even if we resent the catalyst. Be thankful for interruptions in your routine. They may turn out for your own good.

Categories: life

Cat's out of the blog

Yesterday was the first time that I met another blogger in person and actually knew about it. After getting to know John at the Sibley Bike Depot and slowly making the connection between him and his blog (hmm, British 3-speeds, Depot volunteer, all-around nice guy, this must be the same person!), I finally verified it with him last night. John is as friendly and well-spoken in person as he comes across on his blog, and I was glad to solve that mystery and connect the two halves of his persona.

When I told John that I had been reading his posts while seeing him at the shop, I felt as if I were confessing to a sort of secret voyeurism. But that's the entire point of blogs anyway, isn't it. You can read his blog, The Daily Spirit - Human. I check it every day, and sometimes his positive attitude is just the boost I need to lift my spirits up. Other times I need the white-hot rage of A Flower Called Nowhere. Everything in moderation.

As long as I'm throwing up blogs, I also just added another local legal/bicycle crossover blogger, Ladyvelo (via teammate DC). Check out both of them for hott racing action!

Sui Generis can't handle the truth

I'm a rejected law school applicant. It should come as no surprise that I have spent a lot of time over the past several months thinking about whether or not legal practice would be a good career fit for me. I still don't know. But blogs have been a good source of information and provide good food for thought while I try to decide what I really want to do.

There's a great mix of opinions about law school and legal practice out there. Some love it, some see the good and bad, and some really hate it. Towards the end of one of her characteristically long and passionate posts, Jojo seizes on an important aspect of the law that many people don't seem to consider:

I remember watching TV or reading books about crimes and thinking that I could Never defend a person who I knew was guilty. I still feel this way. However, it never becomes an issue, because I never know the truth.
Ignorance of the facts may make you a better lawyer since you can advocate for your client with a clean conscience, but wouldn't it just drive you crazy? Wouldn't it keep you up at night? How can you go through life without always wondering if you unintentionally aided a horrible criminal, or convicted an innocent person? Apparently, some people can. I don't know that I could.

Categories: law school, work

Not my finest moment

A driver yelled something at me the other day, and I yelled something back. I get so tired of being harassed on my afternoon rides that I just want to snap sometimes, but that's no excuse for sinking to their level. I try to hold myself to a higher standard. But, hmmm, which advice do I follow?

Proverbs 26:4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you will be like him yourself.
Proverbs 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
or he will be wise in his own eyes.

Sui Generis gets to the fine point

In my new collections position at work, I have discovered something about my professional areas of motivation. I don't enjoy dealing with cash flow; or at least, a job where I send out claims and collect on debts is not personally satisfying. I have no qualms about spending money, and I enjoyed somewhat the invoice-approval aspect of my old job. Withholding paychecks? That's kind of fun. Collecting on bills? Not so much.

For some reason or another, I just don't care about the profit-making end of my company. A horrible attitude from their point of view, no doubt. The fact is, money doesn't inspire me. People do, I think. I enjoy working with ideas and development plans and creative projects. I like to research and write and share what I've learned. I just don't like doing what I am doing.

So what action should I take with this new awareness? Well, I need to get out of this job, for one thing. The big question is, what positive steps do I take next to find a career that I do find satisfying and enjoyable and even (dare I hope?) fun? That's really what this blog is all about; it's not about law school or biking, it's about making choices and taking action to improve all areas of life.

Categories: work, life

Law school blurb

Hey! It's only four weeks until classes begin at William & Mary, if the information I gathered half a year ago is still accurate. In 28 days, I should know whether or not I made the cut. It could happen!

The speed of life

Life is going so fast! Seems all my friends are getting married, having babies, buying houses, and moving all over the world. Sometimes when I look at all the activity around me, I feel that I have stagnated, but I am traveling along with J at our own velocity.

Biking helps me to slow down a little and consider my priorities from a position of detachment with my circumstances. When I was in Japan, one of my favorite pastimes was simply walking from one place to another, especially the daily one-hour journey to and from the University. This structured time with nothing to do but think allowed me to sort a lot of new (and some old) ideas that sparked an ongoing revolution in my life in which bicycle commuting has been the most recent development.

It's easy to get caught up in the inertia of living day-to-day and get swept along the same path. Maybe everything in your life is just the way it should be, but imperfections have a way of sneaking into the fabric of life over time. We all need something to shake us up now and then before we can see the spots that need mending.

Categories: life, bicycles

Get me to the church on time

See you suckers next week! I have a wedding to get to. It should be a good one. I'm in it, for one thing, and a lot of my college friends that I haven't seen in a while are going to be there for one last party before they all split for the ends of the earth. Time to get this party started.

Drug me or jail me, stamp me and mail me.

I could fry an egg

Still riding one way and driving the other to work and back, even though I wanted to try cutting out the car this week. Trouble was that J's car broke down on Tuesday and I had to drive over to pick her up, so that destroyed my plan. Besides, it's been so hot lately that I'm not totally amped about biking in the afternoons, knowing I'll be dripping like a sweat mop when I get home... but I get out and do it and love it.

Riding in the mornings is sheer bliss with the light traffic, perfect weather (hovering around 80 the last couple of weeks), and friendly forest creatures still hopping around. Riding home in the afternoons is much harder. Belligerent drivers and the HOT (~100 degrees!) air make up a cocktail of extreme sucktitude sometimes. Still, I wouldn't trade it for the air-conditioned car ride.

I like the morning ride because it's fun. I like the evening ride because it's difficult. Jockeying with drivers, learning to ride aggressively and take control of the road, gasping for air and water, pushing through the crap parts when I want to stop, stopping at the beautiful parts when I really hurt and walking it off and spitting and getting back on when I can just breathe again. I don't know if it makes me feel tuff or cool but it makes me feel alive. Is that sick or what?

Categories: bicycles

Shoe shopping serendipity

Last night while I was volunteering at Sibley, an older gentleman stopped by with four boxes of discount merchandise for sale. He inherited it from a bike shop that had gone out of business. One box was full of water bottles, one with saddles, and two with cycling shoes. He was selling this stuff at a serious markdown, so lots of people came over to dig through it, but most of them didn't buy anything.

I found a pair of Shimano shoes my size (10.5) but they were a bit too tight for comfort. I was debating buying them anyway, and then I saw another box of 10.5s on a chair under the table. The man told me that another volunteer had decided to buy them and was just going out to get cash. I tried them on, just for kicks, and they fit perfectly. So when the buyer returned, I asked him if he would try on the slightly smaller pair. They fit!

It was a win-win-win situation. We traded shoes and I got a pair that fit for 80% off the sticker price. The ones he ended up buying were even higher quality than the ones he originally picked out, plus he got them for something on the magnitude of 90% off. The man who had come to unload this stuff made two sales instead of one, and we all left happy. Once the glee of consumerism had passed, however, I realized that I had to trasport a shoebox home on my bike. I knew I should have installed that rack! I ended up throwing out the box and Velcroing the shoes' straps around my top tube, and I got home that way without undue hassle.

Of course, as I realized, and J was quick to point out, the shoes are useless until I buy clipless pedals to go along with them. Well, I never thought I'd get special cycling shoes because they're too expensive, but look what happened last night! Next week a guy could show up at Sibley with cheap pedals for sale. You never know!

Design notes + bike flask

Yeah, I know my new template is a bit duller than the old one, but what can I say? I actually like it. When I throw the photos on here they should pop out a lot more, and I should have some photos coming from our trip to the Carlos Creek Winery. I'm waiting to write about it until then. Until that happens, everyone should check out One Speed Revolution. It's a bike zine with the archives online and it's pretty sweet. Now I know what I want for Christmas this year.


Keith Alexander--Technologist, Teacher, Musician, Body Artist--died in a bicycle accident on Monday. The truly sad part about this is that it sounds like his death could have been averted if he'd been wearing a helmet. It is even more of a tragedy for its preventability. Ride safe, everyone.

Bicycle lifestyle

To inaugurate my blog's new bikey direction, I'm going to bring everyone up to speed on my transportation situation. I was bitten by the bicycle bug this year and now I'm all about bike commuting. Last month, I bought a used Bianchi Strada that's tuff enough to roll through the crap streets and fast enough to do the ~12.5 mile route in under an hour. I rode either to or from work so far almost every day since June 6 (that was five weeks ago!). It is awesome.

After a few weeks with that (mostly) maintenance-free bike, I was ready for a challenge and plunked down $20 on a real fixer-upper, an old Batavus Monte Carlo. Not only did I fix 'er up, I also converted it into a single-speed just for kicks. Now I'm hooked and I want to keep tinkering, so luckily there's Volunteer Night at the Sibley Bike Depot. I also want to get a road bike for serious speed/distance travel, but that's not in the budget for the near future.

Meanwhile, I'm riding every day and want to use my bike exclusively for daily trips by the end of the summer. When winter comes, who knows? I don't want to give up biking. Maybe I'll ride all year, maybe not. Until then I'm just swinging a leg over and taking the bikes out any chance I get and loving it. A local shop/cult sums up my newfound philosophy more nicely than I ever could: Bicycles are freedom, get some.

Categories: bicycles

The transition begins

Or maybe it began here. In any case, my content is changing. I have nothing more to say to this blog about law school stuff, and so I haven't been posting much of anything. On the other hand, bike commuting is changing my life. So maybe it's a good idea to talk about that. Plus I'll keep talking about my life journey and all the observations about books and wine and the other stuff that you're used to, so it's not all different.

When the start of law school rolls around and I'm dropped off my two remaining waitlists for good and all of that nonsense is over & done with, then I'll probably stop talking about it entirely. Until then, maybe some more musings on applications and a legal career are upcoming.

Thanks again to my legal readers and I hope you'll stick around but I understand if you don't. It's been a good trip. And hopefully I'll see a big crowd of bike people coming in here and lighting up the comments boxes so I can make some new friends. I look forward to hearing from you. Come on along and talk about bike stuff with me. Why don't you start by reading about my completed single-speed conversion on my side blog?

So, the 4th of July.

J grew up in the country and so did I, mostly, so until this year we always saw the annual fireworks displays in small towns and suburbs. This was the first time that either of us had been in the city for the 4th of July, and we weren't quite sure what to expect. I think we can both agree on one thing. It was insane.

We walked down to the edge of the bluff, just a few blocks away, and had a clear view of St. Paul and all around. Big fireworks were going off all around the skyline. We were so confused and overwhelmed by the gratuitous display that we spent half the time watching traffic at the intersection of 3rd and Mounds Blvd. Vehicles moved independantly of traffic lights and without regard for pedestrians or other vehicles; I am amazed that we did not witness a crash. The police came through several times but didn't stop to ticket any blatant red-light-runners. I guess they were going to an awesome party.

People were crowding in on lawns and sidewalks and setting off firecrackers and crap all over the place. Some boys on the 3rd St. bridge were shooting bottle rockets out of their hands. What I assume was the official professional display started around 10:30 and was underwhelming compared to the grand Stillwater show that I grew up with. Meanwhile, amateur operators continued their personal light shows unabated. It was like the middle of a frickin' warzone walking home with flashes of light and loud pops going off around every corner, with the occasional rocket flying overhead.

On the way back, we talked about how maybe we would be happier living out in the country after all. But there was one big advantage to the city location: we were able to walk home and be in bed ten minutes after the (official) fireworks ended. The drawback, of course, was the unsanctioned explosions that went off all night long.

Categories: life

Kiss kiss

Where have I been? Well, biking, mostly. Still commuting every day that I can, and doing a little lunchtime circuit during my lunch break when it's super nice out and I haven't got my fill of riding for the day. I started a new position at work, and that's been interesting. No word yet from the two waitlist schools. I'm reading Should You Really be a Lawyer? (finally). I haven't finished the book yet so I am still on sure whether or not I should really be a lawyer. I'm leaning towards "not," but that could be the rejections talking, or it could be the rare sound of common sense.

The exciting news is, of course, International Kissing Day. We're more of a hugging couple, J and myself, on a daily basis. But I usually kiss her good morning when I leave early for work. And I always kiss her good night when I come to bed late. Today I will kiss her as often as she would like to be kissed, but I normally do that anyway.

Don't explode your fingers off

Have a fun and safe 4th of July weekend, Americans! Don't commit any crimes!