Monday, April 30


Has cycling become so normal in my life there is no novelty left? Have I stopped loving the act of riding a bicycle only to hate the obstacles to doing so?

Yesterday I did an odd thing. I rode my bike 0.9 miles (round trip) down to Echter's (garden center). I meandered around, picking up some seeds, organic fertilizer, garden soil for seedlings, and I chatted with a wonderfully knowledgeable lady about alternate grasses for my "lawn."

That was not the odd thing. I'll tell you what it was, and here it is:

When I approached the register to check out I realized I had forgotten my wallet. It was either out front in my bike or at home less than a mile away. As the person in front of me checked out I quick called Mandy.

"Do you see my wallet?"

 "Yes, here it is. Do you want me to bring it to you?"


"Uh, yeah." Now, this is a complex equation. Mandy has been feeling the onerous effects of seasonal allergies. Her asthma has been almost out of control for a few days and yesterday she was particularly not well. We'll call that X.

The likelihood that she would ride her bike down with my wallet when I was clearly feeling fine while she was not was something like (Y – 100). She was not going to ride.

The likelihood that if I left my cart stashed somewhere while I rode back up the hill to retrieve my wallet myself that an employee would return all of my items to their respective places was probably (Y – 99), but in my mind it was a certainty: Y + 100.

 My sense of urgency to be productive around the house—to get the small shed torn down to cannibalize for a chicken coop and rabbit hutch, finish the shelves in the big shed, finish the siding on the big shed, get some stuff planted in the garden, get the slash cleaned up from when I pruned the apple trees, etc, etc—was high, we'll call it C.

The elevation gain from Echter's is around 50', so irrelevant as a factor to dissuade me from making the back and forth trip to home. For fun let's call that one (0).

 I could have just abandoned the items in my cart, but the acquisition of those items was directly tied to C, so we'll call it (Cx2).

And the distance to be ridden...0.9 miles. Isn't it odd, grammatically speaking, that we'd say 0.9 miles, plural, if it's less than a mile? If you called it "nine tenths" then perhaps, but "zero point nine?" I think not. Confused yet? Wait til I start assembling this equation.

Since I hate math so I'm just going to times everything together. Except where I divide. We're solving for 0.9 (ZERO POINT NINE).

X(Y – 100)(Y – 99)/(Y + 100)0(C) + C2 = 0.9

So for anyone out there with a mathematical knack, please let me know what the answer is. I have a quiz I need to turn in from 1988 that's really overdue.

While you're working that out (SHOW YOUR WORK!) I'll share some of my observations from my complex decision making process. I could have ridden back home fast, returned, pushed my cart back into line and felt all green and gushy inside. If Mandy hadn't offered I wouldn't have asked her to come down because I knew she didn't feel so hot. It was a quick decision, but even so, I knew the ecologically responsible choice would have been to suck it up, ride home and back and go on my way. If I hadn't been so frantic to make some headway on our projects around the house I may have been more apt to have taken the extra time. But in the end I was trying to maximize my efforts for the day. I did so by employing fossil fuels and the benevolence of my wife.

 I didn't beat myself up over the gasoline bail-out. I could have. I could have laid down in front of the train on principle alone, but I think in the whole scheme of things the little carbon age sins aren't worth getting all worked up over.

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