Automobile Drivers Go Mad When Their Routines Get Altered

Daily Journal Entry - 08/31/2018

Road construction should probably be outlawed as a public health menace. Largely, I am not adversely affected by road construction due to the nature of both my occupation and my values. But I care about other people, and when I see the mental health of others in my community precipitously decline due to environmental factors, I feel I should speak out.

There is currently some road construction happening not far from my home, near the route along which I normally bike commute to work. As a result of this civil engineering in progress, automobile traffic has been re-routed somewhat, meaning that I have been observing first hand the lack of coping skills that many motorists are afflicted with. Routine is comforting and when forced outside of their comfort zones, many peoples' limbic brains kick in with a sort of "fight/flight/freeze" response. The limbic brain was not designed for fine motor skills and impulse control, which is the domain of the rational brain. So the net result is a complete breakdown of roadway conventions. I'll grant you that the recent road closures due to floods in our area are not helping matters.

Well, there. I have spoken out. Of course, I have no solutions. Or rather, my solutions would not be embraced by the general public (i.e., bike commute more). For my part, I am simply being more vigilant when I bike commute. The morning ride isn't bad, but by about 2 PM, the roads are largely an unregulated "wild west."

Unrelated to any of this, this weekend is the annual BIKE WITH JOE social bike ride event up north.

KEYWORDS: lifestyle coaching, marriage and family therapy, bike commuting, punk rock, vegan diet


Thursday, August 30, 2018

The great thing about having my own blog is that I don't have to follow any of the normal conventions of writing. I don't have to adhere to any style guides. i can write in all lower case letters. I CAN WRITE IN ALL UPPER CASE LETTERS. The latter style is conventionally considered the written form of yelling, but that's on the reader, not on the writer. In fact, my posts are quite silent. They only make sounds inside your mind.

Today was the last Thursday in August and the second to last day in August. This upcoming weekend, the first weekend of September, I'll be driving up to the cabin to host another annual BIKE WITH JOE (not yelling!) event. I believe I started hosting this social bike ride in 1999, so this would be the 19th year. Next year, convention should dictate that I do something special to commemorate 20 consecutive years of hosting the bike ride. But as you can probably tell already, I am all about non-convention.*

For one thing, it hasn't always been a bike ride. A couple of times, it was an approximately 10 mile run-walk. In fact, one of these years I would like to try kayaking the entire 10 mile circumference of Shell Lake, the body of water alongside which sits my parents' cabin.

This morning I rode my bicycle to "work."** It was a beautiful day, sunny and 70 some odd degrees. I was slated to see two clients and co-facilitate a smoking cessation group today, but no one showed up to the anti-smoking wellness group and one of the clients did not show up, so it ended up being a pretty laid back day of administrative paperwork. I met Deborah about 2 PM for a late lunch at a pub near "work." My bike ride home was almost as pleasant as my morning non-motorized commute, with the slight disadvantage of there being a lot of crazed and disoriented motorists on the road. Notwithstanding, it was still a lot better to be biking than driving.

When I got home, I did a few chores, like loading laundry and unloading the dishwasher, and packed a few things for my weekend trip. I ate a modest dinner. Deborah arrived home whilst I was making it. Some TV was watched and then I decided to free write this blog entry. Going forward, I think I am going to try to make at least one short journal entry each day, just to keep the writing chops limber.

I'm going to wrap this up now and go read a book that I am almost done reading: "Cold Beer and Crocodiles: A Bicycle Journey Into Australia," by Roff Smith.

A good day to you, dear reader.

*Note: Also known as "unconventional."

**Note: For all intents and purposes, my unpaid internship at a community mental health center is a job, albeit pay- and benefit-less.

KEYWORDS: punk rock, lifestyle coaching, family therapy, bicycle tours, bike rides in australia


I Am Still Staying Ahead of Global Climate Change...but Barely

On Wednesday morning of this past week, I woke up to discover that our house was now atop a small island surrounded on all sides by a newly formed lake. This was due to a proverbial "100 year flood" that hit the part of Wisconsin where we live. Our basement began to fill with water, but thanks to a reliable sump pump that worked overtime, this was more of a mild detriment than a major disaster. However, the event made me realize that global climate change is accelerating and gaining on us faster than we have thus far been able to outrun it. Deborah and I have been toying with the idea of moving for some time now, but clearly we need to get much more serious about that agenda, with an emphasis on attaining "higher ground."

In an absolute sense, I don't mind global climate change. In fact, I greatly enjoy observing "extreme nature" in action, especially storms. But I don't like to observe it that close up. I am also accepting of the fact that humanity as a whole has little will to address climate change. I no longer engage in arguments about whether humankind's industries are causing global climate change, but as a realist, I also do not deny the observable reality that the climate is changing. Even global climate change deniers like to point out another true fact...that the Earth has always gone through natural cycles of heating and cooling, with the implication being that what is happening now is "normal." So that argument suggests the deniers also must accept on some level that climate change is happening, even if they don't believe humans are perpetrating it. Their passivist argument has one glaring flaw though. While it is true that the globe has warmed and cooled cyclically throughout its history, it is also true that humans were not around for 99.9% of that history. Human technology and ingenuity notwithstanding, our species is fragile and can only survive within a very narrow range of climatic conditions. You only need to listen to people complain about how cold or hot the weather (not the same as climate) is on a daily basis to know that humans experience a lot of discomfort outside a very narrow temperature range from about 65 to 85 degrees F. That's why we have furnaces and air conditioners and bring space heaters into workplaces.

Global climate change, natural or not, is intolerant of human survival. Since collective humanity isn't doing much to reduce climate change and its associated severe weather, those of us who are not deniers have to do what we can individually to secure ourselves against the consequences. Ultimately, climate change will catch up...when freshwater and edible crops diminish to dangerous levels. But that won't happen in my lifetime (I don't think) and I don't have kids, so my goal is simply to outrun the floods, fires, storms, and earthquakes for as long as I can, and I thank Mother Nature for the stern reminder this past week.


Dry Roasting Almonds

I don't like raw almonds. I do like dry roasted almonds. The great thing about raw almonds is that they can be converted to dry roasted almonds in about 10 minutes, via alchemy.*

*Note: Alchemy = 10 minutes on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree F oven.


I Got an A

I somehow got an A in one of my summer classes. I guess I shouldn't be surprised since I seemingly rock at my new career field of marriage and family therapy. For whomsoever cares, the class was Working with Kids and Adolescents, and it was all about doing therapy with children of any age up to 25 years old (still considered adolescents). As is often the case, I appeared to be "a natural" in as much as I did well in spite of not really knowing what I was doing about half the time. I have started working with some adolescent clients at my internship site and they are generally good kids, just misunderstood or overlooked. Often they are crazy smart and have a lot of strengths that aren't appreciated. In short, they just don't fit the very narrow and homogenized norms of society, even those of somewhat progressive Madison WI.



The weather in northern Wisconsin this weekend is not conducive to water testing the new tandem kayak that arrived earlier this week, half of which was a birthday present for my wife Deborah and the other half of which was mine! On top of sour weather, Deborah could not join me at the cabin this weekend to help me baptise the vessel...


Moderate Success

I just finished my summer semester of classes moderately successfully. On paper, I appear to have completely dominated them with full marks. In practice, I have to admit that I did not give it my usual 110%. Honestly, I only gave it about 96%, for very legitimate reasons. Most notably, I am also devoting considerable mental bandwidth to both my clinical internship in Marriage and Family Therapy and also fun, outdoorsy summer activities, like biking and kayaking and hanging out with family up north at our cabin. Deborah and I just purchased a tandem kayak that needs to be lake tested STAT! Now that summer school is behind me, I need to maximize on fun before the fall semester begins in just three weeks! Only one year of classes to go, then I can graduate, get licensed, and start figuring out how to pay off student loans on a meager resident's salary.