Thin Skin

It’s a little strange.  I don’t drive a car to work 9 months out of the year.  The cars I have are terribly practical and pragmatic.  But one of my absolute favorite things to watch is Top Gear.  It’s a car show.  More or less.

Those familiar with the series know that nothing is sacred to these guys.  They will (figuratively) eviscerate a car if they don’t like it.  That generally includes all American and Korean cars.  Jeremy Clarkson is especially outrageous in his comments.  Here’s the thing: I don’t think the things that the presenters on that show say mean anything.  The words are designed to primarily entertain and if you are informed of something, it’s a happy side effect.  In the last two weeks, Clarkson has managed to prick two groups with very thin skin.  First, it was the Mexicans upset with him about comments that called them lazy and sloppy and other things.  Last week, it was cyclists who were up in arms about Clarkson’s comments that they don’t belong on the roads and so on.  David Bernstein launched into a long rant about Clarkson’s comments on his Fredcast podcast and it just made me laugh.  Here are these people, taking all of this much too seriously and not understanding the premise of the show.  I ride the roads and entrust my safety to crazy, distracted people in steel boxes.  Many of them legitimately have the opinion of cyclists that Clarkson articulated.  Yet at no point did I think, “I need to write a letter to the BBC!”

The reactions people had to these comments worries me.  It almost seems like people are actively looking for things to be offended by.  They want to take everything so seriously and so personally.  At the end of it all, I have two basic thoughts on the matter:

1. Some people have their identities far too tied up in temporal and unimportant things.  Even though I would call myself a Christian above all else, I don’t need to se every nasty comment about Christianity as an attack on my own fundamental nature.  There are lots of other ways to describe me — a cyclist, a father, a husband, a college faculty member.  None of these completely defines me either.  They’re just stupid labels.

2. People are also much too self-centered about these labels.  Comments about populations as a whole should not be taken personally.  Even if Clarkson really, honestly believes that cyclists have no right to ride public roads, he is not telling me I am a lesser person.  Clarkson doesn’t know who I am or that I even exist.  He’s not attacking me.  He’s commenting on some non-existent stereotype.

(There was actually a third thing, but I can’t remember it now!)


We had dramatically unseasonable weather this week.  On Wednesday it touched 60°F, in February, in Michigan.  On either side of Wednesday were some warmer days and I couldn’t ride my bike outside on any of them.  Today I finally had time and opportunity and it’s back into the 20’s with 60 MPH wind gusts.  (That’s not a typo — sixty, 6-0.)

I’m still finding it to be continually hard to cheer for Garmin-Cervélo, even racers I used to rabidly cheer for.  It felt a little more normal to see Christian Vandevelde take 5th in Oman and be excited about that.

I had to write a recommendation letter for a fairly average student yesterday.  That was tremendously difficult and put me in a bit of a mood for the rest of the day.

I haven’t talked about my weight loss for a while.  I got down to 169 for a little while, but between Christmas, travel and being sick, I went back up to about 175.  I revised my goal to take off just 1 pound per week and have been paying closer attention recently.  I weighed in this morning at 172.0, so things are proceeding relatively well.  The new digital scale (with body fat percentage) has been really nice for clarity.  (I’ve been around 14.8-15% this week.)  One thing I should go back and do is grab weight and BF% numbers for the last week to see how things are changing.  I’m such a numbers geek!

I spent a ton of time last week putting together the new Red Jacket Cycling page, powered by WordPress.  It’s amazing how you can shoehorn a blog page to look like a “normal” webpage.

Well, this stack of exams isn’t going to grade itself.  Time to be productive.


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