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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

Oh dear, I’m a total slacker. Worst blogger ever. It’s a good thing I don’t get paid for this, because I would have been fired long ago, Donald Trump style. Yup, I said it. Daring greatly over here!

The reason I believe I’m still alive today? God’s will, of course. Shit, this isn’t Witty Wednesday, is it? Okay, for real…

The reason(s) I believe I’m still alive today (in no particular order):

  • Privilege
  • Family
  • Dumb luck
  • Good genes
  • Lifestyle

I’m sure there are other reasons, but I need to finish this piece of shit list of truths before the end of the year, as promised, or else I’ll feel like a failure. And maybe my goal for 2016 will be to get back to this blog’s roots before it devolves into complete and utter bullshit. But because I live in the Bay Area, I’m only going to say I’m *Interested* in reviving this blog, because committing to anything is for chumps.

 

I was talking to a friend on the phone last night (I know! Talking on the phone! How novel!), and he reminded me that I’ve been a total slacker with this list. As I mentioned right off the bat, I had a feeling it would take a while to get through the list – and it has. In my defense, there have been several non-list-related posts scattered throughout. I’m confident I can finish before 2016. But please don’t hold me to it.

Who makes playlists for people these days? You may share a song with someone, but that’s not the same. The last playlist I made was for the 2014 Outside Lands group bike rides. It was for multiple people, and I chose the songs because they were the best of the best of the Outside Lands lineup. Otherwise, I’d go the route of mix CD or, better yet, mix tape. Making mix tapes was THE BEST! The ability to listen to the songs as you recorded them onto the cassette was integral. I perfected the art of fitting songs onto the tape with minor wasted space at the end. (Sometimes, instrumental interludes were the way to go.) And designing the sleeve? I may have put more effort into the cassette sleeves than the mix tapes themselves. People appreciate things that come in pretty packages. All this said, if I were to pretend I’m making someone a mix tape…

…there are so many factors to consider: Who is it for; What is my intent – is it to introduce them to new music or relay some sort of message/feeling? In the past (i.e., high school), I was often making tapes for my best friend Sheela or a boyfriend/crush. Tapes for Sheela were usually just groupings of songs we both liked. As in, “I’m making this for you so we can listen to it on our next road trip. Look how pretty the sleeve is!” A tape for a crush would be a mix of songs I wanted to introduce to him, combined with subtle — or not-so-subtle — messages of love. Or lust. Or something.

Sheela and I have lived in separate states for years now. Though we both love Depeche Mode and have a few other musical interests in common, our tastes have diverged a bit. So I’d like to make Sheela a mix tape to introduce her to some of my current favorite music, with the hope that she will enjoy these artists and maybe even come out to San Francisco to see one of them with me. Imagine the mix tape sleeve decorated with purple and silver swirly designs with some hearts thrown in, likely a Depeche Mode symbol or two, and the song list carefully written out. (I have to write it out carefully, because my handwriting has gotten so damn sloppy over the years.) The below is a 90-minute tape:

Side One

  1. Forget (Marina and the Diamonds)
  2. On the Sly (Metric)
  3. Cream on Chrome (Ratatat)
  4. Return to the Moon (EL VY)
  5. The Shade (Metric)
  6. A Million Years (Frida Sundemo)
  7. Lazuli (Beach House)
  8. Nothing is Something Worth Doing (Shpongle)
  9. Riptide (Vance Joy)
  10. Carrie (Shiny Toy Guns)
  11. I’m a Ruin (Marina and the Diamonds)

Side Two

  1. Levitation Nation (Shpongle)
  2. I Need My Girl (The National)
  3. On (Polaris at Noon)
  4. Speed the Collapse (Metric)
  5. Sloppy Seconds (Watsky)
  6. Primadonna BURNS Remix (Marina and the Diamonds)
  7. Warbrain (Alkaline Trio)
  8. Rome (Ratatat)
  9. Malmo (STRFKR)
  10. Froot (Marina and the Diamonds)
  11. Clone (Metric)

Man, it is hard to come up with a hypothetical mix tape when you don’t have access to a music library and can’t listen to the songs as you go! Sheela, I totally expect you to look up and listen to all of these songs! 😉

As many of you know, I was once married. Though I often think about my ex and sometimes miss him (how can I not miss someone I was with for almost a third of my life?), I don’t regret ending that relationship. Over the past three years, I’ve slowly eliminated physical items that remind me of him and our history. A few things, like the scrapbook I made of our trip to Russia, I’ll never trash. Because although he was there, it was essentially a family vacation and an amazing adventure I don’t want to forget. But there are two items I’ve been holding onto, and I think it’s time to let them go: My wedding and engagement rings.

For some reason, I have conflicting emotions about this. I’m hesitant to part with them. It’s strange, because I never wear these rings. They’ve been sitting in a closet collecting dust since I broke off our relationship. And I have no desire to re-purpose them into something else. Honestly, diamonds aren’t my thing. They represent the 20-something-year-old girl who was obsessed with getting married because society told her that was the next logical step in her life. I’m no longer that girl. I’m happy where I am; self-reliant, independent, and absolutely not conforming to societal norms.

Still, why do I hesitate? Is it because once these are gone, there’s really nothing left besides my memories? Am I worried I’ll wake up one morning and regret the decision to take this jewelry out of hiding? Am I attaching some weird sentimental value to inanimate objects?

I could ponder this for another couple of years, but I won’t. To be frank, I could use some extra money now that I spent my savings on a condo and related renovations (another post for another time). So, today is the day I start to bid adieu to jewelry that once represented so many things but what I’m now hoping will represent me parting ways with my past and moving on with my future.

FullSizeRender

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.