If you take Seattle’s Greenwood Avenue North almost all the way to its upper end, there’s a turn down towards the Puget Sound—its dark grey waters somewhat in the distance, out to the left. You take the turn and cruise past Shoreline Community College, then the expansive Shoreview Park before arriving at Hidden Lake, off to the right.

You can barely tell the lake’s there, past dense trees. That’s probably for good reason, as it’s pretty grody—Boeing Creek was artificially dammed there, and stormwater runoff and sediment fill the lakebed.

Anyway, off to the left is 166th Avenue NW. At the end is Innis Arden Beach Trail—as pleasant an urban trail as you will find.

It winds its way along the right side of the ravine carved by Boeing Creek, eons before it shared a name with the company that makes planes and bombs. The path is superbly well-maintained given the surroundings, naturally precluded to erosion, mud pits and various debris.

It winds it’s way down the ravine a little less than a mile before arriving at the most wonderful gateway to the shore of the sound. Boeing Creek trickles to the left, splitting a low railroad underpass with a walkway that, in a high tide, has saltwater waves lap their way up it.

Continue Reading On segregated neighborhoods, private parks and us all wanting the same thing

It’s the best purchase I’ve ever made. The sooner I can get to that point, the better. It usually doesn’t happen as early in real life, when some hapless stranger triggers an excitable 10-minute conversation because they asked me about my bike.

Eventually though, I get there.

It’s a little bit like writing this blog post. I meant to write it at 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 and even 4,000 miles since I purchased mine in November of 2019—but even since the last figure I’ve clipped off another 600 miles. So instead of delaying further or making this any more complicated, I’m gonna riff.

Here’s owning an ebike.

Continue Reading Observations from 4,500 miles on an ebike—and why you should get one already

The Washington State Cougars replaced Mike Leach as head football coach and it appears the politics of the position may have gotten worse. Truly, that’s an incredible feat—made all the more impressive by it being the state’s highest-paid position.

Hand it to Nick Rolovich, who sucks.

As many are likely aware, Rolovich is against being vaccinated. We found that out when he had to stay home from Pac-12 media day, an event requiring attendees receive their shot.

Unlike with many other figures in sports, this controversy hasn’t gone away. And that’s because journalists covering Wazzu just keep kicking his ass for it.

And it’s great.

Continue Reading Every anti-vax public figure should be skewered like Nick Rolovich

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Of course. As with any big historic anniversary, there is media reminding us it has been a-number-divisible-by-five-years since it happened. The media, as it surely was in 2006, 2011 and 2016, is reflective of the year or years in which it was produced.

In 2021, this is among the crop of content:

It, well, it makes sense.

I’ll admit, I haven’t watched any of the September 11th content that has been produced. I know there are pieces that are surely outstanding, poignant, illuminating and heartfelt. It’s just, I can’t. I don’t really want to go back to then.

Because then, then was weird.

And looking at it through a 2021 lens can’t quite capture that.

Continue Reading The permanence of digital media is hitting us—and it is weird

Blogging is having a big year. That is, if you’re willing to stretch the traditional definition of blogging to include platforms like Substack. As I’ve written elsewhere, you should, because Substack has succeeded precisely because it emulates old-school blogging.

I was reminded of that again by an intro post from yet another former mainstream reporter going out on their own via the paid newsletter site—that being James Fallows, whose writing previously primarily appeared in The Atlantic.

He wrote, on blogging’s waning—and resurgence:

For many reasons, the sprawling, messy, but informative realm of the personal blog became a less and less natural fit to the structure and responsibilities of major publications, which of course have never been more crucial to our democracy. But I believe that the kind of communication and connection blogs made possible—between writer and reader, between writer and theme, among writers and readers who eventually formed a community—may also be even more important than before. […]

I know, in the era of social-media sewers, the appeal of “virtual community” can sound hopelessly naive. But my experience through many years of the blogging era is that, with attention and care, an online community can be informative, and even inspiring, in unique ways.

I feel as though this era—and all the messiness it has produced—is starting to drive people back to more authentic connections.

Everything is an algorithm. As platforms aim and attempt to learn what we want to see, we have less and less control over what’s being put in front of us, what we’re consuming. There’s too much noise, too much engagement-gaming—just, too much everything.

Sometimes, simpler is better. Control is better.

I’m constantly fascinated by the ability of certain technological choices to subtly influence behavior in ways that may never have been intended.

Take blogging. Take Substack.

No fancy design, no SEO gaming, no engagement-driven content. Just words—for a specific audience. Emailed to you.

The modern-day inbox is an unholy hell filled mostly with spam that managed to slip through various filters, but you still have to navigate it. Because there’s important stuff in there.

When you subscribe to a blog by email—or RSS, for that matter—you’ve determined it’s one of those important things. You’ve made the choice. And it will be delivered to you. An algorithm can’t stop it.

And as we get back to these basics, as we get back to the simple beauty of the pairing between a writer and their audience, we’re going to see more meaningful connections.

We’re going to see more blogging.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner won reelection last night. Well, he won his primary over a challenger backed heavily by the police union—but he will win reelection as a Democrat in a Democratic city. As far as the primary part, though, there was some question. Or so some thought.

Larry Krasner beat his primary opponent by a two-to-one margin. He smoked him. Trounced.

Continue Reading When will progressive perspectives be as mainstream in media as they are in real life?

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is not running for reelection. That’s for good reason. The big-money centrist conservative has been the executive progressives feared she would be and the Nextdoor commentorati who backed her will never be happy. So she would’ve lost.

And that’s a good thing. Because she’s pretty bad.

Seattleites are familiar with her handling of last year’s Black Lives Matter protests, which included tear gassing the city’s most densely populated neighborhood and the Seattle Police Department abandoning their East Precinct, the epicenter of the protests.

What went into those decisions? Who made the call to abandon the precinct? We’ll never know because the mayor and many of the people around her committed the felony of deleting their text messages.

Continue Reading Jenny Durkan and public embarrassment’s diminishing returns

Nobody’s perfect, but when it comes to the types of radical policies that make urbanists drool, it almost always feels like they’re coming out of France. Well, we’ve got another one as France took a step towards incentivizing—in a major way—citizens to swap their vehicle for an electric bike.

From Streetsblog USA, via Reuters:

In a preliminary vote late last week, the French National Assembly voted to expand its cash-for-clunkers program to include pedal-assist bikes in addition to electric cars, offering erstwhile motorists a grant of €2,500 ($2,975) to buy an electric bicycle if they trade in a gas-powered vehicle at the same time. A spokesperson for the French Federation of Bicycle Users, Olivier Schneider, applauded the government body for actively investing in mobilité territoriales vertueuses —or “virtuous forms of transport,” as the French refer to sustainable transportation beyond electric cars — and for recognizing that “the solution is not to make cars greener, but simply to reduce their number.”

The article goes on to note we’re at least starting to see efforts like this here stateside, even if they are limited in scope.

Continue Reading Tax credits for ebikes make too much sense

As a new homeowner, I find myself slipping slowly into Dad Mode. I’m going to bed earlier. I don’t hate cleaning up the kitchen. I enjoy a well-organized garage. And, of course, I became a Costco member.

After an inaugural trip that set my fiancée and me back about $300, a celebratory meal was in order. Hot dog, soda, hot fudge sundae—all for a cool $3.49.

How do they do it, especially that $1.50 dog and a drink? Simple, because they want to.

As Twitter user @weirdcities noted in a viral tweet last year, here’s how that desire was relayed to Costco CEO W. Craig Jelinek by his CEO predecessor and Costco Co-Founder Jim Sinegal:

“I came to (Jim Sinegal) once and I said, ‘Jim, we can’t sell this hot dog for a buck fifty. We are losing our rear ends.’ And he said, ‘If you raise the effing hot dog, I will kill you. Figure it out.’ That’s all I really needed. By the way, if you raised (the price) to $1.75, it would not be that big of a deal. People would still buy (it). But it’s the mindset that when you think of Costco, you think of the $1.50 hot dog (and soda).

It’s the last part that’s key. It’s not about the money, it’s about a mindset—something intangible. It’s how people feel about you.

And this is one of my favorite anecdotes when people talk ROI and every single small part of a company or organization having to turn a profit.

It doesn’t have to be about that.

Another example—and honestly, I got a kajillion of these—comes from the world of sports and video games.

MVP Baseball, The Show and a generation missed

For the first time in 16 years, the XBox console will have a first-class MLB-licensed videogame. MVP Baseball 05, the last great MLB game on Microsoft’s console, came out on the original XBox. Three XBox iterations have launched since.

Now, the much-heralded MLB The Show, long a PlayStation exclusive, will make its way to XBox for the 2021 season.

So what’s the story? How’s it been so long? Wellllll, back in the early-2000s, there was a lot of competition in the sports video game market—a lot of good competition.

One year, Sega/2K Sports were selling their suite of sports games—NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB—for just $20 apiece. It was the same year they teamed up with ESPN on some sleek branding and in-game licensing.

The games were great and were received as such, especially at that price point. The longtime heavyweight in the space, EA Sports, got scared—especially as it came to their cornerstone Madden franchise.

Instead of competing on price or quality, EA brokered a deal with the NFL for exclusive licensing. Nobody else could use the league or teams in a game. So 2K shot back with exclusive licensing on MLB games.

The underdog company then proceeded to release terrible MLB games, to the point it made more sense to just stop after 2013.

EA made one college baseball game, in 2006, and closed down the MVP franchise for good—when the last Major League version, in ’05, was considered one of the best baseball video games of all time.

MLB took 2K’s money and called it good. Why shouldn’t they?

Well, for a number of reasons.

Since the XBox 360 and Playstation 3 generation, console sales in the United States have been split relatively evenly between Sony and Microsoft—setting aside Nintendo.

For a decade and a half, about 50% of console gamers didn’t have an MLB game. This meant a missed opportunity to:

  • Learn how the sport worked—both in the macro and micro—by playing it.
  • Learn the teams and players outside your own market.
  • Play as your own team and fall in love with them in a new way.

Crazy as it is, I learned the basics of European soccer—even picking a team I follow closely now (Up The Toffees!)—because I started playing FIFA a few years ago.

Baseball has an aging fan base and a desperate need to get its players out there as stars. They need to be more relevant, and that’s something an exclusive licensing deal can’t pay for.

While it’s a long one, this is still just an anecdote. Everyone makes these mistakes.

The lesson here

A simple question to ask yourself as a marketer or businessperson or anyone at a company is this: “Does it matter if people like us?”

It’s one I’ve asked bosses before.

“Does it matter if people like us? Do we think we make more money or less money if people like us more?”

Of course it matters. It matters a lot.

And companies constantly ignore this truth because pricing something at a quarter more means a better number in this column. Or turning a new feature into a new paid product means a short-term bump in revenue.

Not everything has to make money. Not on its own. The ability for us, in 2021, to measure anything means that we try to measure everything. And you can’t measure everything.

You can’t measure a lot of the big things.

Sometimes the big things are as small as a $1.50 hot dog. And you just have to trust that doing things that people like is worth it.

Usually, it is.

I have seen a therapist on a consistent basis for more than five years. It’s awesome. It’s not the type of thing I’ve ever really shared online but anytime it comes up around trusted friends and family, I rave about it.

If you want to improve your life, talk to someone.

With today being the big #BellLetsTalk day on the social feeds, it is effectively De-Stigmatize Talking About Mental Health Day in North America and I figured I’d bring that aforementioned raving to a more visible place. Sidenote: hell of a sponsorship activation for the Canadian telecom giant.

Continue Reading Talk to someone