25 things about me

1) I am two generations too far removed from the Chickasaw Nation to be able to claim favored minority status. That might have helped me to get into the college of my choice. (Of course, better grades might have also helped.)

2) I would like to have studied Vehicle Design at the Art Center College of Design and
Business at Stanford.

3) I’ve sustained a number of broken bones and other traumatic injuries while skiing, snowboarding, water skiing, motorcycle riding, mountain biking and other macho sports, but my most serious injury so far was suffered while… cheerleading. (Nearly broke my neck when I dropped a girl on my head in 1985. Still hurts from time to time.)

4) I can tolerate a wide variety of vices, but smoking has always been a huge turn-off for me. We are talking kick-Jennifer-Aniston-out-of-bed proportions here.

5) I am haunted by times in my past when I acted in ways that ended up hurting other people. The people and circumstances are too numerous to detail here, and besides that, I am clueless enough and my powers of denial well enough developed that I am certain to have missed or forgotten many of my more egregious examples of misbehavior. For those who I have wronged, I honestly hope that you can find some comfort in the fact that I have lived long enough to realize and regret many of my own shortcomings. You deserved better.

6) I have always been a voracious reader. My record so far is 759 pages (Harry Potter book 7) in one go.

7) I grew up hunting with my father and grandfather every fall and I am a good marksman with a number of different types of guns. Despite that, I have never been tempted to own one.

8) I can follow when necessary, but prefer to lead.

9) I love flying (both as a co-pilot and passenger) and came close to getting my license when I was 16.

10) I believe that humans (properly handled) have a nearly unlimited capacity to love.

11) I am decent at detail work and very good at seeing the big picture, but not as good at dealing with some of the really important stuff in the middle.

12) I am fluent in Swedish and used to be decent in Spanish, but my sister is better at picking up languages and accents than I am.

13) Scott Adams and I got the same score on the GMAT, and I think that he is right about many things, but I wish that he were not.

14) I grew up in a home with two loving parents and a great little sister. If I dig I can find things to complain about, but my family was always there to support me and help me to believe that the world was full of positive possibilities.

15) I sincerely hope that my children can learn good study habits from their mother and inherit the ability to soak up and regurgitate factoids as needed for tests from me.

16) I love to learn, but have trouble being taught by people that I don’t respect.

17) I went to Camp Wawona and Soquel Camp Meeting as a teenager primarily to meet and spend time with members of the opposite sex. I have reason to believe that I was not the only one who felt that way.

18) I have some pet grudges that I have nursed through the years, but in general find it easier to forgive others than to forgive myself.

19) I hate the fact that I sometimes have an awful temper, manic tendencies and depressive symptoms. Even so, I most often have a positive outlook.

20) My wife and I were friends for a long time before we were anything else to each other, and I can’t imagine ever having a better friend. She is the first person that I look for at a party and I feel much more comfortable in social situations when she is present.

21) My wife and I lived together before getting married, but we have always moved into new places together rather than one of us moving in with the other. That was by design, not by accident.

22) Being a good father is the most important responsibility that I will ever have, and by far the most rewarding. I can’t imagine my life without my children.

23) I think that most forms of religion touch upon the truth of the universe in some way, but none of them know as much about it as they claim, and few of them recognize the positive aspects of other religions.

24) I believe that the world would be a better place if believers, agnostics and atheists all had a more complete understanding of and abiding respect for the viewpoints of others.

25) I can imagine a fulfilling life without the use of any part or parts of my body, but if I lose my mind, please let me/help me move on with dignity and make sure that my organs are put to good use. I don’t think that it will be murder or suicide; it will just be human compassion. I understand that others feel otherwise and wouldn’t want to push my values upon them, but please accept my right to feel the way that I do about this.


Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 5:24pm

Thoughts on Lance Armstrong and drugs in the world of cycling

To: BikeSnobNYC

From: Daner

Re: My apologies

You gave a nice talk here in Göteborg (aka Gothenburg) yesterday on your opinions about many things in the world of cycling and silly me had to throw a wet blanket on the discussion by asking your opinion on Lance. I’ll blame it on your choice of shirt (a Mellow Johnny’s T).

I was entirely too oblique in my line of questioning. I didn’t really want you to talk about Lance or about drugs in cycling, so I shouldn’t have asked those questions. The discussion that I was hoping for was “How important are those questions in the broader context of cycling?”

There are many different aspects of cycling:

1. Utility – Riding for personal transportation

2. Training – Riding as exercise to reach a fitness goal

3. Competition – Participating in timed and/or judged cycling events

4. Recreation – Riding for pleasure

5. Culture – Enjoying the historic, aesthetic, artistic, scientific, sartorial and/or social aspects of cycling

6. Entertainment – Seeing or reading about how other people ride or relate to cycling

There is of course overlap between these areas, but aspects 1-4 are by definition participatory in nature. We experience them ourselves. They are not dependent upon the performance of others, or the quality of the camera work, or the commentating, or the journalistic skill of the writer. We are primarily responsible for our own subjective experiences in these areas. I would submit that the broader context of cycling would be well-served if aspects 1-5 were to receive a relatively greater proportion of our collective attention and if aspect 6 could assume a smaller, more realistic role in the larger scheme of things.

The world would be a better place on many different levels if more people more often used cycling instead of automobiles as personal transportation. The best ways to make that happen have everything to do with making cycling a more practical and safe and accepted alternative and nothing to do with the results of the Tour de France.

Taking the kids for pizza on the cargo bike instead of taking the car is great. Riding to get fit or to prepare for competitions or other organized events is great. Enjoying a beautiful sunrise on a morning commute or the smell of the lilacs while on a spring training ride is great. Appreciating the talents of the engineer/artisans who transform tubes and components into beautiful, practical rolling art while imbibing our favorite beverage of choice and enjoying the company of other like-minded individuals is great. All of those things are much more important in the broader scheme of things than the actions of those in the entertainment industry.

Respectfully yours, Dane Thomas (aka Daner)

PS – FWIW I had my wife pick up plenty of goodies at Mellow Johnny’s when she was in Austin last year and I plan to continue to use them. Additionally, I have no problem wearing my Livestrong wristband and respecting the fine and honorable work that Lance Armstrong has done to raise both awareness and funds for the fight against cancer.

A Pragmatist’s View on Global Climate Change

Global climate change is a feature, not a bug. As such, it is to be studied, understood and dealt with, not fixed.

The earth’s climate has in the past been both considerably warmer and considerably colder than it is today, prior to any influence from human activity. Some ascribe those changes to differing levels of solar energy output, while others credit changes in the angle of the earth’s rotational axis or magnetic field. Regardless of which of those (or other) theories one accepts, it is clear that humans have had and for the foreseeable future will continue to have little to no influence upon factors on that scale.

It is also clear that whatever the nature of the factors that have driven global climate change in the past, they are likely to continue to fluctuate over time, completely independently of human activity. If we accept that premise, we must accept that the earth’s climate will continue to change over time regardless of what impact human activity may or may not have on the rate or extent of that change.

Human activity modifies both the concentration and distribution of substances in the atmosphere, in the water and on the surface of the earth that alter the character of the earth’s biosphere. These alterations may, over time, have an impact on the rate or extent of global climate change. Those impacts are at present incompletely understood, but regardless of the sum total of local or global impacts it is clear that some of the changes can be characterized as detrimental to at least the local biology on at least a short-term basis. Most would even agree that such the cumulative effects of such detrimental changes are likely to lead to negative impacts on long-term resource (and by extension, economic) sustainability.

To summarize, we understand that global climate change is an ongoing feature and that we cannot reasonably expect to stop it or to exert a meaningful measure of positive control over it. Additionally, we should recognize that whether or not our activities influence our biosphere (and by extension the rate or extent of global climate change) that we have compelling reasons to attempt to better understand and moderate potentially negative effects of human activity upon long-term resource and economic stability.

So with that in mind, what should we do?

We can start by recognizing that change is coming regardless of what we do. The energy and resources that we currently put into stopping global climate change would be better applied to figuring out how to deal with it. We should definitely continue to study and attempt to minimize our negative impacts upon the biosphere and our long-term resource and economic stability, but without making the claim that it must be done to “save the earth” or to “stop global warming”.  Do it because it is the right thing to do for a wide variety of reasons, but stop promising unrealistic and uncontrollable positive outcomes.

When changes in human activity are called for in the name of reducing the overall negative impact on the biosphere and/or improving long-term resource and/or economic stability, they must be evaluated on a balanced objective basis and not just a subjective or emotional one. Different circumstances may call for different solutions to provide the best overall positive outcome. As an example, it makes a lot of sense to use ethanol for automotive fuel in Brazil where there is a great capacity for sustainable production of ethanol, but in countries like Sweden it may make more sense to use biogas and biodiesel due to the greater capacity for local, sustainable production of those fuels.

There is much room for improvement. We should make the best possible use of technology, diplomacy and intelligence to minimize our collective long-term negative impacts on our biosphere as well as on our long-term resource and economic sustainability. We should do all that we can to prepare a better, more prosperous, more politically and economically stable world for our children and grandchildren. For reasons beyond our control that world may be a bit warmer or cooler than the one that we grew up in, but if we have done our job correctly that won’t be our fault, and we will have made effective plans for either contingency.