If More People Were Into Extreme Shepherding, The World Would Be A Better Place

shepherdingThere was a time, not long ago, when I would watch a video like the one below and cynically dismiss it as the product of people with WAY too much time on their hands.

But when I watched the following earlier today, posted by a friend on Facebook, I had a very different reaction indeed.

With all of the horrible, destructive things that humans are prone to spend their time on, if more people were to be wrapped up in innocent, playful, harmless activities like Extreme Shepherding (you’ll see), I really do think the world would be a far, far better place.

See, I’m still shaken up by the shooting at Umpqua Community College last week, and as details have emerged about the paranoid delusions of the shooter’s mother, the power trip of deadly weapons shared by gun owners all over the country, the glorification of and longing for a return to Wild West justice, is indicative of a community of people who invest an enormous amount of time and energy in the culture of guns.

Ironically, this is how one of the shepherds involved in making the video below describes the project (my emphasis added in bold):

“We took to the hills of Wales armed to the teeth with sheep, LEDs and a camera, to create a huge amazing LED display. Of sorts.”

If only…

Guerrilla Grafters: A Refreshing Conflict

Photo: Tom Levy, tomlevy.net
Photo: Tom Levy, tomlevy.net
With all of the acute conflicts going on in the world — the Haves vs. the Have-Nots, climate change deniers vs. science, gun control advocates vs. the NRA, Caucasians vs. people of color, Jews vs. Muslims vs. Christians, etc. — conflicts of such great and often terrible consequences, how refreshing it was to read this morning about a conflict going down in San Francisco that is wonderfully small-scale, at least for now, and while some might call it trivial, I’d prefer to think of it as quaint, but not at all in a bad way.

Via the San Francisco Chronicle:

Hui and Goldberg are members of the Guerrilla Grafters, a loose-knit band of undercover orchardists blending farming and urban activism as a way to spark debate about the use of public space. For the past two years, the Grafters have been secretly attaching fruit-bearing branches, known as scions, to non-fruiting plum, pear and apple street trees.

City officials in San Francisco call their actions unlawful. Urban architecture connoisseurs call it groundbreaking: The grafters’ subversive project is being featured in the U.S. pavilion at the prestigious Venice Biennale’s 13th International Architecture Exhibition opening Wednesday.

Now, on the property of a house I used to live in, we had a couple of ridiculously prolific Italian plum trees, a pear tree, and an apple tree. As a result, every year in late summer and fall, so much fruit dropped in our yard, more than we could have ever consumed, we were never into canning, and so walking around the house was like navigating a minefield, one step, two steps, three steps, squish!

So, I kinda get the concern of SF city officials who worry, as the article states, of slip hazards from fruit falling on sidewalks and streets, BUT I tend to agree with the Grafters who argue:

“With grafts you only have a few branches that are bearing, and it’s really very manageable,” said Goldberg. The Grafters also say that stewards and gleaners can ensure that ripe fruit from trees they graft is safely harvested. They say they can also help maintain trees needing pruning, propping or watering.

This conflict says so much about urban life in the U.S. these days. A simple, natural and historically nourishing occurrence — fruit growing on trees — is seen as undesirable while poverty persists and gentrification pushes lower income residents out to the margins of the cities.

It’s not that middle and upper class urbanites don’t like fruit. It’s that they want it picked for them and neatly arranged in colorful displays at their local farmers market, evident by a 76% increase in the number of U.S. farmers markets from 2008 to 2014.

First World problems, indeed.

Cognitive Dissonance Hurts My Brain

headache-smileyNot much else to say about this, other than what my post title suggests.

The cognitive dissonance in a piece this morning at NPR.org hurts my brain (emphasis added by me in bold):

A vigil was held in Roseburg, Ore., last night, hours after a man killed nine people at the local community college. Investigators say the man behind Thursday’s shooting is also dead — and the local sheriff says he’ll never say that man’s name in public. Seven people were wounded in the attack.

“I will not give him the credit he probably sought, prior to this horrific and cowardly act,” Sheriff John Hanlin said in a briefing about the shooting at Umpqua Community College.

Hanlin later told CNN that he doesn’t want “to glorify his name or his cause.”

The alleged gunman is 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer, who lived in a town near Roseburg, a logging community with around 22,000 residents.

Godamn Guns

no-guns-allowed-bloodyAs of this writing, 9 people are dead, slaughtered today by a now-dead-as-well gunman at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.

“I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.”
A slogan used by gun rights advocates

See, the problem with this statement is that if we wait until a gun owner is dead before we pry their weapon(s) from their rigor mortis hands, there is a very good possibility that the gun owner has already killed people.

To Man Bun, Or Not To Man Bun?

man-bunWhen I first heard my 17-year old son refer to some guy’s hairstyle as a “man bun”, I chuckled heartily.

Little did I know at the time just how much of a thing man buns are!

See, I’ve lived here in Bellingham, Washington for 22 years, and there has always been a visible, healthy, active, engaged hippie presence in town. Since the late 1960s, men with long hair, tied up or flowing freely, have been decidedly commonplace, and so modern hipster culture‘s embrace of long hair, and the man bun in particular, just didn’t register for me.

Well now, thanks to an article at Vox titled Man buns, explained, posted by a friend on Facebook today, I know much more about this trendy-once-again hairstyle than I thought I needed to know, including the names of some of the many man bun variants:


Interesting timing, all this, because I just got a haircut, my hair had reached a length that could very nearly support a man bun if I was so inclined, and yet I have a very complicated relationship with my hair, it’s a hair paradox, really.

I’m the type of person who prefers a low-maintenance appearance, partly based in an effort to avoid vanity, and partly out of simple laziness. I prefer to spend as little time looking at myself in the mirror, fussing with clothes and hair and such. I’ve got MUCH more important things to spend my time on!

And yet, my hair is a major pain in the ass. It’s incredibly thick, curly, and dry and frizzy. It’s easiest to simply towel dry and forget about it when it is very short, but it grows so damned fast that I’d have to get a haircut every other week to keep it that easy, and yet, paradoxically, bi-weekly haircuts are not low-maintenance at all!

Conversely, if frequent haircuts are too much maintenance, you could argue that another solution is to just let the hair keep growing and eventually tie it up into a ponytail or, I don’t know, let’s say, a man bun, and forget about it.

Only, with hair like mine, the longer it gets the more work it takes to tame it: more shampoo to get it clean, more conditioner to keep if from being ridiculously frizzy, more time painfully running a brush through it to get out all of those insidious knots, cuz no offense to Rastafarians everywhere, but I ain’t doing dreadlocks.

Conclusion: Even if I was a hipster, which I’m decidedly not, and may be too old to try to be with any self-respect, (See the recent Noah Baumbach film While We’re Young), the answer to the question “To Man Bun, Or Not To Man Bun?” is clearly: Not.

Eyecatchers: The Street Art Of Oakoak

oakoak-1Hey, everyone! Fish & Bicycles is back on the air after a particularly busy period paying the bills, so to speak.

So, let’s kick things off with an Eyecatchers installment, featuring the Street Art (a favorite genre of mine) of French artist Oakoak.

I stumbled upon Oakoak via a photo gallery at The Guardian, and I’m so glad that I did. His work ingeniously adds painted, stenciled, or pasted images and other materials to existing urban elements, such as the manhole cover in the first photo here, resulting in clever compositions, in a humorous vein.

Oakoak is quoted by The Guardian, describing his work thusly:

What I like about street art is that you can find somewhere to draw anywhere and it is a surprise for the people who find it. Any wall can be a canvas.

He really has a great eye!

Below are some of my favorites, but please do take the time to view the whole gallery at The Guardian, and even more of his work at his website.











Property Of The State: Revisited

wwu2Almost exactly five years ago, I wrote a post titled Fish & Bicycles: Property Of The State, explaining that, because I work at a public university, with the impending start of fall term and the academic year, my ass is essentially owned by the State of Washington at this time, resulting in little-to-zero time or energy for blogging.

This will be my 8th year in my current position, my 15th year over all at the university, each year I make a concerted effort to improve my process and outcomes, however small the increment(s) may be, and this year I seem to be particularly inspired to make it a great kickoff, partly evident by the fact that I’m posting this disclaimer for the slowdown here at Fish & Bicycles a full 10 days earlier than I did 5 years ago.

Obviously, it would be hypocritical of me if I carried on any further in this post. I have a million things on my to-do list, after all.

So, instead of writing anything else today, I thought I’d stop here and simply copy and paste below the post from five years ago. As was the case then, I may be inspired and able to post a thing or two in the next few weeks, but I can’t guarantee anything.

Happy Weekend, everyone, and hope to “see” you soon!

I’m sorry to report that for the next week or so it’s likely to be awfully quiet around here.

You see, as I’ve mentioned before, I work for Western Washington University, in fact, my office is in the building you see highlighted in the photo here.

The first day of classes for Fall Quarter is September 22nd, but more important to me, 4,000+ students who will be living in on-campus housing move in this coming weekend, and I’m basically owned for the next week or so.

If this weren’t enough excitement, this past Sunday a main power switch on campus failed, sending 12,000 volts in an arc across a room, causing melting through plated steel, requiring replacement parts to be manufactured in Portland and hand delivered by the manufacturer. As a result, since Sunday there’s been a power outage in most of the buildings you see in the foreground of the photo, causing hundreds of WWU employees to have to find alternate workstations to do their…um…work.

I’m accustomed to being mobile, as my job has me regularly splitting my time between various buildings, using a laptop and a cell phone to get stuff done just about anywhere. For a lot of other folks that isn’t the case. And even though people are pulling together to help one another, as it happens so often in times of adversity, there is a palpable tension in the air, and the oft-repeated phrase “at least this didn’t happen next Monday” brings little solace.

So, who knows? I might be able to squeeze a little time in here and there to post something new to Fish & Bicycles, but I appreciate your patience and your checking back in later if that proves impossible.

Now, where did I put that flashlight?