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.

Video Fridays: Marriage Equality Edition

marriage-equalityThe news this morning, that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states can no longer deny same-sex couples the right to marry is a major breakthrough for justice and civil rights.

We still have VERY far to go, so many areas where inequality — racial, gender, age, ability, economic, etc. — remains, here in the U.S. and around the globe, and yet today’s victory feels particularly poignant.

After all, as one of the catch phrases of the marriage equality movement points out:

Love is Love

I’m still one of those dreamers, though not the only one, who truly believes that All You Need Is Love, and we need LOTS more love to overcome the remaining inequality challenges, to end violence and war, to save the planet from global climate change.

Let all people love each other and make lifelong commitments to each other and tell me how that can have any other effect than to heal the world?!

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Tweet of the Day: @TheOnion

Given my recent post waxing nostalgic and all sentimental on the subject of fatherhood, including references to the common fears that seem to come with the job…

…this TOTALLY cracked me up!

Video Fridays: Father’s Day Weekend Edition

Me & Julian, Father's Day, 2013
Me & Julian, Father’s Day, 2013
Since I likely won’t be able to post anything on Father’s Day this Sunday, and since my son, Julian, is now 17-1/2 years old and his days in the nest are painfully dwindling away, I thought I would dedicate today’s Video Fridays installment to him, for I wouldn’t be a father if he hadn’t come along.

Today’s video, Ben FoldsStill Fighting It, featuring touching homemade-movie-esque footage of Ben and his son Louis, and lyrics about the experience of fatherhood, on one hand, and growing up, on the other, never fails to choke me up.

The song was released in 2001, when my son was about the same age as Louis, and as much as I’ve loved and cherished some aspect of every age Julian has attained, there was something particularly special about that age, when walking wasn’t so new and treacherous, when verbal communication was beginning to get easier thanks to a growing vocabulary, when the innocence and infinite sense of wonder of childhood was in full bloom, when playing was so much damned fun, and when simply holding hands as we strolled in public felt like I had an umbilical cord connecting me to an infinite pool of love.

Being a parent is an experience of extremes. There’s the infinite pool of love and the unbridled joy of play, but there’s also the anxiety concerning the future, the fear of terrible things happening to your child, the frustration when your child has the gall (wink) to remind you that they are an actual person, with the right to self-determination, the pain you feel when they feel pain, the excruciating guilt you feel for the mistakes you’ve made raising them, particularly when they pick up any bad habits that you have been unintentionally modeling for them, and the emptiness at the thought of them one day flying the coop.

Ben Folds captures this all so perfectly:

Everybody knows
It hurts to grow up
And everybody does
It’s so weird to be back here
Let me tell you what
The years go on and
We’re still fighting it, we’re still fighting it
And you’re so much like me
I’m sorry…

It was pain
Sunny days and rain
I knew you’d feel the same things…

You’ll try and try and one day you’ll fly
Away from me

Somebody get me a hanky, stat!

Anyway, it might seem that that list I wrote above, of the goods and the not-so-goods, suggests that the not-so-goods far outweigh the goods, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

When you love someone as deeply as you love your child, you never, EVER see it that way, you would NEVER prefer the alternative — losing your child, or not ever having had a child. You just hope that the Buddhists are right, that if we practice mindfulness awareness we can be totally present for them despite our fears, and if we practice non-attachment we can celebrate their departure when they come of age, feeling satisfied and sustained by all of the years of glorious memories, and excitement for the possibilities that life will present to them.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Vinyl Records Are Magic!

recordplayerWAY back in December 2009, in a post titled Nostalgia: Vinyl Records Edition, I wrote about a trip with my son to a local eatery, an eatery known as much for their Russian dumplings as they are for the record player and vast vinyl record collection they have in the main seating area, available for use by customers.

In that post, and in a subsequent follow-up titled Vinyl Update, a year later, I described how my son, 12-13 years old at the time, discovered the joy — dare I say magic? — of vinyl records at that restaurant, and then at home, when I purchased a used turntable and dusted off my collection of 200 or so LPs.

Well, it seems I’m not alone in finding vinyl record technology to be magical.

Casey Chan, over at, in a post yesterday on this subject, wrote:

I don’t care that I supposedly understand how vinyl records work because I still totally think they’re the work of at least some low level sorcery. Trapping sound and music and voices? Come on!

Sorcery indeed! I mean, just look at this GIF footage of a record player’s stylus traveling through the groove in a vinyl record, as seen through an electron microscope:


What the what?! That makes music come out of a speaker, filled with instruments and voices, melodies and rhythms?

That’s some crazy magic!

Casey also includes a 9+ minute video that explains how the footage was shot and how vinyl record technology works, you can watch it if you want, but I chose not to, agreeing with Gizmodo reader JoshMC in the comments section:

Don’t anyone try and explain it, it’s all magic to me. Dark sorcery? Yeah…

Lost & Found Dog & The Silliness Of Fighting Sentimentalism

zuki-paddenOver the past three years, I’ve posted an occasional photo of my dog Zuki to the Photoblog section here at Fish & Bicycles.

But one only has to spend a small amount of time surfing the millions of blogs on the interwebs to discover that there are people out there who seem to be far, FAR more into their dogs than I am, posting photos many times a week, of their canines doing every single thing you can imagine, as well as some things you’d like not to imagine, accompanied by reflections, observations, and aphorisms, dripping with sentimentalism.

Me: 9 photos posted in three years, mostly because, well, Zuki IS rather photogenic.

But does that really mean that I’m not THAT into my dog?

On Saturday, May 16th, as I’ve mentioned, my wife and I took off for a week-long vacation, for the first time not accompanied by our son, now 17-years of age.

On Friday, May 22nd, the day before we returned home, Zuki, who has a funny loose wire in the noggin, causing her to occasionally bolt away if she doesn’t have solid eye contact with either my wife, my son, or me, took off from a downtown location, only 2-3 miles from our home, but a 2-3 miles she’d never covered on foot before, on or off leash, a 2-3 miles that required crossing over or under Interstate 5 and several VERY busy surface streets.

The Humane Society was contacted daily, ads placed on Craigslist, posts posted to Facebook, streets, alleys, trails searched in as big of a radius as we could manage, a trail of urine and water solution sprayed from our house to the location where she was last seen, the needle eluding us in the haystack, dreams and nightmares invading sleep, thoughts of Zuki preventing sleep, late night departures from bed to check to see if, by some miracle, she had found her way home…

Eight days and nights elapsed, my wife finally had her biggest cry, coming to grips with the possibility that Zuki could be gone for good and that she could be lost, injured and in great distress, or dead, and then, at 4am, after waking from the latest of my dreams of Zuki’s return, I heard what sounded like a faint whine, I arose from bed and walked out into the house, gazed at the first glass door that, every night prior, had revealed nothing, but this time, there she was…

And when she spotted me in return, she bolted to the closer door, the front door to my left, I opened it, and she sped past me, running directly to our bedroom, where her dog bed sits at the foot of our human bed. My wife awoke and asked if it was the cat, I said no, it was Zuki, and in a wave of emotion, tears of joy and relief, Zuki was enveloped back into the family.

I never had a big cry, but I was very sad the whole week she was missing, my sleep was disturbed, I couldn’t imagine life without Zuki, nor replacing her. To say that I’m just not that into my dog is a lie. It’s just the silly, fairly common, though by no means universal, result of male conditioning, where it’s not considered macho or cool to get all mushy and sentimental over a dog.

So, I declare this day, that I am deeply grateful that Zuki miraculously found her way home, grateful that, while clearly shaken up, she survived the ordeal without any injury.

And I offcially embrace and declare my sentimental feelings for my dog, a true and beloved member of the family. 

Zuki, please, don’t run away again. Ok?


Fish & Bicycles Is Back!

Vacation in southern Nevada and Utah was awesome, and I hope folks enjoyed the photos I was able to post while I was on the road.

Needless to say, there was much to photograph in the canyonlands that my wife and I visited throughout the week, I’ve got one more for you today, from just west of Zion National Park, and followed by that, since we were still in peak hiking habit upon our return, and I was so pleased to see water and greenery after so long in the desert, a snapshot from the Chuckanut Ridge Trail, overlooking the Salish Sea and the San Juan Islands, just a few miles from our home.


Salish Sea