You know, I’m sorry to admit that when I see a cornucopia, AKA horn of plenty, I usually just think of cheesy Thanksgiving cards and decorations.

And yet, when I really think about the ancient symbol, I realize that there’s a lot of useful meaning to be derived from it.

  • It is a reminder of the bounty in our lives, for which we give thanks on Thanksgiving.
  • As nice as the image is, sadly the magic cornucopia of Greco-Roman mythology, that provides an endless supply of food, doesn’t really exist. And so, it is a reminder, conversely, of the millions of people who have little to no bounty in their lives, that we might do something, no matter how small, for them.
  • It’s notable that the horn of plenty is overflowing with fruits and vegetables, rather than iPhones, sports cars, and bling. Thinking again of those who lack bounty, it’s humbling to consider how many of them would be utterly satisfied with abundant fruits and vegetables.

I, indeed, have much to be thankful for. Family, friends, food, clothing, shelter, etc.

But here, at Fish & Bicycles, I like to give thanks for…


It’s been a while since I’ve written in appreciation of all the people who take a moment to visit, to read, to click on the Like button, to leave a comment, or to choose to Follow the blog.

As I’ve written in the past, I don’t make any money from Fish & Bicycles, I work a 40+ hour per week job, and I have time-consuming responsibilities to my family and my home. Therefore, I don’t have the time to respond to everyone who Likes one of my posts or chooses to subscribe, even though I am incredibly grateful for every.single.instance.

So, thank you, dear readers! Sincerely!

I’ll leave you with some links to my previous Thanksgiving posts, ghosts of Thanksgivings past, so to speak.


Happy Thanksgiving!

More Thanksgiving Eve Fun

Following up on my Tweet of the Day post from this morning, I thought I’d share something else I’ve come across today, a funny, entertaining piece at The Atlantic, from a seemingly unlikely source…their Health Editor.

I don’t know about you, but when I think “Health Editor” I think of dry information about diets and exercise regimens. The Atlantic‘s James Hamblin, MD, however, has a very accessible, natural writing style, peppered with just enough humor to keep the health-writing-averse engaged.

Well, in today’s piece, titled Answers to Every Possible Thanksgiving Health Question, Hamblin pulls out the comedy stops, resulting in a VERY fun read on a topic that could be a total wet blanket on the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Written like a traditional FAQ, here are some of my favorites (Be sure to read the whole thing, though!):

How bad is it that I stuff our turkey a few days in advance?

Bad — disgusting actually, don’t do that.

Is quinoa stuffing healthier than regular stuffing?

Yes. If regular white bread stuffing is what’s on the table, though, don’t let the words quinoa stuffing leave your mouth.

Tryptophan is what makes us sleepy?

Turkey has tryptophan, but not significantly more than chicken or beef. We fall asleep because we’re hypoglycemic and bored. If napping is a concern, go for a walk or ask an old person about their old love stories.

Alternatively (and hopefully not the case), sleep could be how you respond to stress.

How can I avoid talking to my family and just focus on what I really want: the f-o-o-d!

Please try to be more sincere. Some day you will spend the holidays alone, and it will suck.

How much gravy is “too much”?

Unless you have heart failure, don’t overthink it on the holiday. But then the fact that you’re asking makes me wonder if you’ve had issues with gravy in the past?

It’s my first vegetarian Thanksgiving. Should I make tofurkey?

Tofurkey is offensive, linguistically and culturally. If you want to eat turkey, eat turkey. Tofu doesn’t look or taste or smell like turkey at all. If you make tofu, own it and treat it like tofu and call it tofu.

Is pumpkin the new bacon?

Yes, but we’ll be mostly rid of pumpkin by March, and bacon is eternal. These are getting less like health questions. Well, I suppose that is a health question insofar as all of the pumpkin everywhere might be stressing us out. Like if you feel you can’t escape it. Seasonal pumpkin-related anxiety.

Do you need love to enjoy the holidays?

No, but if you have the opportunity and are on the fence about loving someone, do it.

I don’t normally smoke, but hey, it’s Thanksgiving, right?

Why are you putting me in this position?

Tweet of the Day: @JohnFugelsang

This kinda sums up my Thanksgiving every year.


Halloween Flashback

If you search Fish & Bicycles for the word “Halloween” and read the posts you find, you’ll discover that Halloween is a very special day for me and my family. Well, I’m battling a nasty cold today, so I thought I’d just re-post my very first Halloween entry, from 2009, on this, my son Julian’s 15th birthday.

12 years ago today, the Great Pumpkin, not the stork, delivered a tiny, orange-headed baby boy to our doorstep.

(Ok, so it was actually my wife who delivered the baby, after 31 hours of labor. She does, indeed, deserve all the credit, but I’m pretty sure she would have preferred it if the Great Pumpkin had helped out, at least a little.)

Having a child born on Halloween, especially one with wild, curly orange hair, is an adventure to say the least.

Whatever your relationship was with the holiday before the baby was born, that relationship will be forever changed.

Here’s our pumpkin with his fellow pumpkins back in 2006.

Don’t like dressing up in costumes? Not crazy about candy? Don’t fancy going door-to-door with a group of kids who ARE crazy about candy? Literally? Crazy?

Well, too bad, cupcake! Are you really going to break your child’s heart?

Fortunately, I had no aversion to Halloween, and it’s been 12 years of fun. But, even though the birth of our son was the catalyst, besides delivering the baby in heroic fashion, it’s been my wife who has delivered wondrous gifts of creativity, decorating the house, carving pumpkins, coming up with unique costumes, and throwing fabulous parties.

Wait a second! Maybe my wife IS the Great Pumpkin!

Celebrating Eco-Progress: Guiness

I confess.

I did not wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.

Nor did I attend any St. Patrick’s Day event.

I ate no corned beef and cabbage, and I raised no pint of Guiness.

But, I did read, much to my environmentalist delight, that Guiness, the legendary Irish brewing company, has made significant commitments to sustainable practices, earning them an installment in my Celebrating Eco-Progress series.

Via the National Resources Defense Council blog:

“Sustainability and enhancing the environment of the Dublin communities has been a core philosophy of the Guinness Company since it was founded,” said Paul Carty, Managing Director at the Guinness Storehouse, the brewery’s large and historic facility at St. James’s Gate in the Irish capital. Last year the Storehouse, now a major tourist attraction hosting a million visitors annually, received a three-star accreditation from Sustainable Travel International for its environmental commitment. (The actual brewing was moved from the old facility in 1988.)

Among the highlights recognized by the award are these:

  • Adoption of environmental performance indicators
  • Measures to reduce waste, chemical use, and energy consumption
  • Use of paper products derived from sustainably managed forests
  • Advanced lighting technology
  • Local food sourcing
  • Locally sourced construction materials
  • Sustainability training for staff

That parenthetical note, that the actual brewing is done at a different facility, does seem a bit of a letdown, and of course the Guiness we drink here in the States necessarily has a regrettably large carbon footprint just for being shipped here.

And yet, as I’ve always said about the companies I feature in Celebrating Eco-Progress, in recognition that every little bit of effort does indeed help, I applaud the measures that have been taken, and I encourage us all to applaud them as well, indicating loud and clear that this is, indeed, a direction their customers would like to see them continue going in.

I’ve written before of my fondness for being down at the pub, having a pint with the lads, so I’m looking forward to, first chance I get, lifting a glass of Guiness stout and drinking it with hope for a sustainable future.

Tweet of the Day: #ValentinesDay

I don’t know what’s worse, the superficial, consumerism-centric, SchmaltzFest side of Valentine’s Day, or angry, cynical, anti-Valentine’s Day wet blankets:!/theatlantic/status/169521296345022464

(Disclaimer: I’m in no way unsympathetic on the subject of child labor, and I believe strongly that it’s a serious issue that warrants efforts to end it.)

Happy New Year, from Fish & Bicycles!

As the remaining seconds of 2011 tick away, I find myself reflecting on this blogging thing that I do.

Unlike last year, when we had a new decade to celebrate — even though, as I wrote, most people had incorrectly celebrated the year before — this year we’re ushering in just another mundane set of 12 months.

Sure, there’s all the Mayan calendar 2012 ridiculousness, but let’s face it, things really won’t get fun again until the year 2020, because it’s such a cool number, or 2112, because there’s a classic Rush album by that name.

Um…where was I?

Oh, yeah, reflecting on blogging!

2011 has been an exciting year, here at Fish & Bicycles. I feel like I’ve really hit my stride, like I’m in the flow, that the blog is serving it’s primary purpose of acting as an outlet for my creative expression. I look at the content I’ve accumulated since I started in October 2009 and I feel very proud of it.

Icing on the cake: my monthly page views have tripled since this time last year, and it’s more thrilling than I can say, knowing that folks from all over the world have stopped by.

Now, not all of my reflective thoughts about blogging are so positive. There are times, infrequent as they may be, when I question the value of doing this. There are times when I have nothing really burning to say, but I feel a sense of obligation to try to produce something. On my good days, I see this as purely good writing discipline, for many a writing teacher will tell you that writing something, regardless of the quality, every single day is essential to being a good writer, as it keeps the creative juices flowing. On my not so good days, I wonder whether or not I’m in need of an ego-trip check, that perhaps, rather than a commitment to a writing regimen, I might really be more concerned with how the blog looks, updated as often as possible, which, experts preach, is essential for attracting more regular readers.

I’m sure that a lot of creative types wrestle with this from time to time, especially those of us who do not do it for a living. Really, it’s that age-old question: Is it art if no one but you ever sees or hears it?

While I believe it most certainly is, I also believe that a lot of artists do what they do because they want to share the fruit of their labors with others, to entertain, to provoke thought and emotion, to contribute something born of the human spirit to the world.

I could probably go on an on with this subject, but that’s enough reflection for now. We’ll see how this next year goes.

In the meantime, thanks, as always, to everyone who stops by, however briefly, for taking the time to consider my humble contributions to the blogosphere.

Happy New Year!

Happy Holidays, From Fish & Bicycles!

Well, it’s that time of year again, when I’ll be heading over the river and through the woods, to grandparents’ houses for Christmas.

We’re halfway through Chanukah, had a great time lighting candles, playing dreidel, and eating latkes, but we’re an interfaith family, and now we get to load up all of our Jewish stuff to bring with us for the second half of the holiday, along with all of our Christmas gifts, and drive to Seattle for time with the goyishe relatives.

Typically, this means that I won’t be blogging much for the next few days, so things will be quiet here at Fish & Bicycles, probably until Monday.

While I’m indisposed, feel free to browse around Fish & Bicycles in any of the following ways:

  • Tags: In the sidebar, under Stuff About…, you can click on any of the Tags and see all the posts I’ve done that have at least something to do with those topics.
  • Recurring Series: At the top of the page, hover over the Recurring Series drop-down menu and select from options like Celebrating Eco-Progress, which applauds businesses adopting sustainable practices; Eyecatchers, a collection of photos, graphics, and videos that have, well, caught my eye; Video Fridays, my favorite video of the week pick; and more.
  • Archives: Towards the bottom of the sidebar, select a specific month to see everything I posted in that time period.


Tweet of the Day: #WhiteChristmas

Heavy sigh. 😦!/bellinghambuzz/status/148946902900154368

Plastic Christmas Tree Redux

Last week I dissed a 38-foot tall plastic Christmas tree, but today I’m singing praises for a 42-foot plastic Christmas tree, not because it’s taller, but because the former was made of Legos and the latter was made of recycled Sprite bottles.

Now THAT is beautiful, AND it promotes reusing disposable items, AND it’s economically practical:

For a third consecutive year the city of Kaunas, Lithuania approached artist Jolanta Šmidtienė to assist with their annual holiday decorating. Recognizing the city’s somewhat dire financial state the artist challenged herself to build something that wouldn’t rely on any administrative funds set aside for the event.

Here are some more amazing images of it’s construction (via Colossal, Design You Trust):