Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ride The Sky

Is it March yet?

The Owner was cruising the St Paul, MN skyway last night.

Actually, the Red Bull Ride the Sky time trial was last night. The Owner was selected as a participant. His three minute ride is here.

Monday, February 26, 2007

T-Shirt #2.6

From JH in Brookings, OR -


I love cycling. There are so many facets to cycling that just aren't available in any other sport. Travel would have to be one of the facets that are way up there on the list.

My wife and I traveled the Oregon coast last summer on our tandem. We had a great vacation and spent a third or less what we might spend on any other kind of diversion.

One of the most interesting encounters we had was a cycling couple from Canada and their children. For them this meant two tandems and two trailers. They had been on the road for over a month. They left from Vancouver, British Columbia and were headed for Southern California. Can you imagine the education their children are receiving?

Minus is a Plus for them. If you have ever toured and came home with anything you didn’t use you obviously begin to wonder why you took it. That extra weight. That extra item just getting in the way!

The Minus as a Plus with cycling for me includes no worries about many health problems caused by lack of exercise. Less cost for travel. Less wasted time with exercise and travel time combined. And I gotta say at least one plus. That plus is a modestly clearer ability to reason. No I haven’t ridden yet today can you tell!

By the way the fuel saved riding isn’t very impressive overall. One rich dude’s cross country flight in his private jet will burn more fuel in a couple of hours than probably everybody in the nation that rides saves in a day!

I used to bike to work when I could but now my job and type of work I’m involved with prevents that. Anyhow I can drive the 60 mile roundtrip to work on less fuel than it takes me to get the second engine started on the small twin engine aircraft I fly for work! (It takes about 90 seconds or less with one engine running before I get the second one started).

Thursday, February 22, 2007

T-Shirt #2.5

From GH in Spanish Fork, UT -

I’m just going to have to disagree with the entire premise of this essay even though I completely believe in everything Minuscar stands for. Minus is not the new plus. Minus has been the plus for a long time; it’s just that many are just figuring it out (me included).

In the beginning plus was plus because before the creation there wasn’t anything yet so there was no way to have minus. Not too long after the beginning Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden. Surely the Garden of Eden was a better garden than the Jones’ have. Then Adam and Eve made choices that caused them to be expelled from the Garden of Eden. The earth was certainly a step down from the Garden of Eden, but if Adam and Eve hadn’t taken that step, we wouldn’t exist. That step down was a step forward for God’s entire plan. Minus was the plus.

Over 2000 years ago the Israelites were waiting for the coming of a Messiah. They were looking for a leader to come rescue them from Roman rule so they could inherit their promised land. They were waiting for a political leader who was powerful enough to overthrow Roman rule. What they got was the carpenter’s son who was meek and humble. He did not overthrow the Romans; in fact, it was the Romans that carried out his execution. In his humble way he left us with the perfect example and freed us from sin. Although not as impressive as overthrowing the Romans, providing a perfect example and remission of sins is far more powerful than defeating the Romans. Minus was the plus.

During Jesus’ ministry on earth a wealthy man asked him what he needed to do to have eternal life. Jesus responded that he needed to keep the 10 commandments. The rich man said that he already did that. Jesus then told him that he should sell all of his possessions and give to the poor. The man had to give up earthly wealth in order to obtain eternal wealth. Minus was the plus. But, as is often true today, the wealthy man was more interested in his many possessions than he was in the eternal wealth that comes with using your possessions to help those who have less.

As I look into my own life, I can look back at many instances when my family had considerable money and times when my mom went hungry so I could eat (I was too young to recognize she was doing this until later). The times when my family had money do not correlate with the times when my family was happy. In fact, it is an inverse correlation, the times we were the happiest were the times we were the poorest.

When I started my own family I wanted to give them everything (I’m a slow learner). We had quite a bit, but the day I got rid of the TV was the start of my big gifts to my family. Starting on that day I had more time to spend with them in meaningful activity. In the last few years we have really pared down on “stuff” and increased time spent together doing creative things. Last summer I made the big step of selling my car so that all of our errands had to be run with one car. Now we rarely drive the one that we have. This year I will put more miles on my bike than are put on the car.

Minus is the plus. It always has been. Eventually, as people strive to get more; those who know how to do without will have the most valuable knowledge available.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

T-Shirt #2.4

Dad. Dads are good. I blogged a little about my dad once. Thank you LC.

From LC somewhere in Illinois -


Minus isn’t the new plus, minus is just plain plus. How do I know this? I grew up with a minus sort of guy playing the role of father and the pluses I got from that keep piling up, even 30 years later.

My father is my hero for so many reasons, minus just being one of them. His most visible minus was transportation related. He rode his bike to work in downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa in the 1960s. When we moved to a Kansas City suburb, he took the bus.

I can’t tell you his reasons for doing that because we’ve never discussed it. My minus father is also a very reticent man. But I can guess. Part of it was economic, part of it was novelty, but most of it was freedom. To me, a big part of the minus/plus equation is self-reliance.

When the car, washing machine, even television in those days, broke down, he fixed it. When we needed something new, he built it. We found him most often in the garage or his basement workshop. The plus part for me came in being able to hang out with him there or take a rare trip to the hardware store.

Reticence doesn’t matter so much when you’re shoulder-to-shoulder with someone. Still to this day, he’s in his 70s now, he can most often be found on a ladder, in the garage or working in the yard.

Here’s another plus. Minus people don’t throw things away even if they are broken. My father has hardware to rival Wal-Mart and he can find just the right part without too much work.

I’ve inherited many of my minus father’s traits. I ride my bike, I attempt many repairs (some more successfully than others) and I rarely throw away any useful part, no matter how obscure.

One of my favorite minus memories was when I volunteered to work on the art merit badge with my son’s Cub Scout troop. The boys got to make junk sculptures out of pieces and parts I found in the basement. More than one father assumed I had to scavenge for weeks to find all the ingredients. I didn’t think about it then but I should have answered, “No, I got it all from my minus dad.”

Monday, February 12, 2007

T-Shirt #2.3

From Tom Glanzer, Living On Liquid somewhere near Huron, SD -

Almost a year ago to the day, my life changed.

My wife, then 3 year old son and unborn son were driving to the airport in Omaha to catch a flight to visit my in-laws. They never made it.

They t-boned a Coke delivery truck. The 2006 GMC Yukon with 4,000 miles on it was totaled, but everything worked the way it should have. Maxim's car seat and seat belt saved his little life. Steph's seatbelt and air bag saved the life of Steph, and the little person we now know as Brecken.

That accident could have been completely different. I could be alone.

When an event like that happens you look at life a bit differently. Things that seem like the world...don't matter as much.

After that accident, we changed our lives...minus = plus style.

We were chasing the "American Dream" big house, big city, always rushing, kids in daycare...etc.

Then we did it, we subtracted my wife's job, we subtracted our $350,000 house-dreams, we subtracted our high-cost living style, I subtracted eating out every day, I also subtracted 20 pounds by doing that...we subtracted living in a great bustling city, we subtracted cable TV, I subtracted my office on the top floor...etc.

What we added...our kids to our care 24 hours a day, a house on a lake in a part of the state not many people know about or care about, family dinners eaten around a table almost nightly, we read to ourselves and our kids, sunrises and sunsets that get more and more epic, more faith in each other and God, more time with grandparents, more smiles, more joy, more peace.

It is still a challenge, we miss friends, things, and some luxuries, but what we have gained, what our children will gain...it is priceless.

I know that our minus...has generated more plus than we will ever know. I see it on the face of my loving mother when she holds my boys, I see it in the toys scattered all over the house after a cold South Dakota day has forced the boys to play inside, I see it in the snow angels that Maxim and I made 2 months ago and that still mark the ice-covered lake just outside my bedroom window, I see it when I leave the house for work, and my wife and boys are still tucked away in their beds...knowing that the day will be spent together as a family...just like every other day.

Minus is a Plus for this family.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

T-Shirt #2.2

It's true. We're giving away MinusCar t-shirts again. Start here for the details.

From CM somewhere in Japan -

- is the new +

3 years ago, I was doing what was expected of me. It was killing me.

I was a teacher at a small private high school in Calgary, AB, a city that was rapidly approaching a million residents. Those of you who are teachers know that a rookie teacher in a small, private high school with limited resources is going to be a jack of all trades. That was certainly the case for me.

I taught 7 completely different and topically unrelated subjects I was in charge of the PE Department I was Athletic Director responsible for the Digital Media program which the administration seemed to think put me in charge of maintaining a network of 30 computers running Windows ME from the beginning of September until the end of October I coached volleyball 3 nights a week after volleyball finished I started coaching basketball 3 nights a week until the end of March I did all this and more for a salary that was about 60% of what I would be earning for half the work in a public school.

My life was worse than a run-on sentence.

Add to that, a wife and two kids at home, involvement in a church where the pastor was a workaholic and didn't know when he was asking too much, meetings, home groups...blah blah blah.

I think you get the picture. It was killing me.

For two years, we kept telling ourselves "Something has got to give! We can't keep living like this." While we told ourselves to slow down, things kept piling up.

Then in May of 2005, something gave. My wife was accepted into the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (www.jetprogramme.org). We sorted our 'stuff' into four categories: throw away, give away, put into storage and take with us. The 'throw away' category was quite likely the largest (aside from the piano). People thought we were nuts. We sold our house and car and landed in Japan in July of 2005.

The last year and a half has been a sigh, an extended Sabbath. We have finally learned that moving slowly is ok, that we can live with a whole lot less 'stuff' than we thought before, that living with less stuff is actually a precursor to being more alive.

I gave up a whole lot of stuff to come here, but I gained far more.

I gained time with my wife and kids. I gained perspective. I am relaxed. I have enough. I have time to read and learn. I have time to ride my bike, throw a Frisbee, fly a kite, build a model tank, take pictures, go bowling and just hang out with friends.

The stuff that I gave up was ultimately worthless. What I gained was priceless.

Monday, February 05, 2007

T-Shirt #2.1

JK somewhere in CA -

Getting by with Less (Minus) Having More Time for What Really Counts (The New Plus)

It began six years ago. I was making great money for a 22 year old but I hated my job. I had the things many would consider important in life. I had a new car and a 4x4 toy for tearing up the woods. I had plenty of disposable income. I traveled and spent money like there was no tomorrow.

Then I read a book called Culture Jam. This book changed the way I felt about life. I quit my job and got a room above a bar for the summer at the beach. I worked only enough to barely pay my bills. I surfed and mountain biked and hung out with my friends. I only lived 1 mile from the beach yet in the beginning of the summer still drove there. I began to realize the insanity of this. I fixed up a junk bike and bought a surfboard rack for it. This is when I began to see the Bicycle as more then just an object for recreation.

The key vehicle for my childhood mobility took on a new meaning. I began to ride more. I went from driving 20,000 miles a year to about 5,000. I sold my 4x4 and my only car began to sit more and more. When I moved back from the beach I continued this positive inertia to find new ways I could substitute car use with the Bicycle. It became a challenge to see just how much I could accomplish.

In May of 2002 my girlfriend and I found out we were going to have a baby. He was not planned yet turned out to be the best surprise of my life. With the new values I had in my life I really wanted one of us to stay home with my son. My wife worked a job she attended college for and had great benefits. I was only spinning pizza at a local shop so the choice was an easy one. I would be a stay at home dad. This turned out to be the most life altering experience ever.

As soon as he could hold his head up I got him a trailer to tow behind my bike. He loved it. He would just stare out of the side window and watch the world go by. We traveled everywhere by bike and people were surprised if we showed up by car.

In March of 2005 I got rid of my car. It seemed pointless to pay insurance on something that just sat there. We used the money this freed up to pay down our dept and for more time together. I shop at thrift stores and try to never pay full price for anything. I break out the sewing kit to mend clothes. The less we spend the more time we have together. I have worked occasionally full time but for the most part I stay at home with my son.

A few months ago I purchased a used mini van. The idea of facing another winter without a car and being home stuck indoors with a 3 ½ year old clouded my judgment. It gets driven very little and I look forward to becoming a car-lite family again in the spring. The frugality of my life these days allows our family many freedoms I feel sorry others don’t enjoy.

I say “don’t” instead of can’t because the changes we have made are within reach for most. Our friends have been influenced by our decisions and this way of thinking is very contagious. Decades from now when the Voluntary Simplicity Revolution is analyzed, Minus being the New Plus will definitely have it’s mention. Am I naive? I hope for the future I am not.

“One must become the change they envision” Gandhi

Friday, February 02, 2007

Let's Be Religious: The Offering

Today marks the end of a long string of some of my hardest fought for posts. I hope you enjoyed them. Congratulations to all who could keep up. Some of my anonymous friends couldn't hold the pace. I guess that happens when the Bible gets put on public display. I trust they'll catch up later.

Ready for the MinusCar-style offering? I have t-shirts...
"The shirts are monetarily free… you gotta pay with words. Write something around the “minus is the new plus” theme. 300 words minimum. I don’t care if it’s good or bad. I want to publish it on this blog but if you say no I’ll honor that. Leave it as a comment to this post, or e-mail it to me at mytzpyk at yahoo dot com.

Any address information exchanged in this transaction will not be used by anybody but me and only for shirt delivery. Upon request I’ll wear it on a commute prior to mailing. Icky. I will make every effort to supply a shirt for every essay but I cannot guarantee every essay will result in a shirt."
If you have an old shirt and the logo on the back is coming apart, write another essay. I made the logo bigger. It holds together better.

If you write include your shirt size. I'll have them made in March.

If you don't know what the shirts look check here - The Invitation.

If you don't write I won't have to spend any money.

This might be my last post for the month of February. It's a fasting/sabbath thing. If you've been paying attention you probably understand.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Let’s Be Religious: Biblical Perspectives On…VI


Jonah was not a happy man. Jonah wouldn’t listen to God. A ship’s crew had to shake Jonah awake to get him to deliver God’s 40 day warning to Nineveh. Jonah didn’t think Nineveh deserved to be spared and he knew God wouldn’t see it that way.

After delivering God’s message Jonah left the city and found a place nearby to sit and watch what would happen. He was so angry he removed himself from the city, from the community. Jonah delivered his anonymous message and left. He did not get to enjoy the celebration when God spared the city.

Please, don’t be Jonah.

Some churches are saying the end is near. Some Christians think the end is near. Some people believe the end is near. Jonah was so angry he wanted to die. He was ready. “Take away my life for it is better for me to die than to live.” “It would be better for me to die than to live.” “I am angry enough to die.” I suspect it is this thinking that statements like this come from, “why the concern with the environment when it is evident the end times are near. The concern should not be in saving gas but in saving ourselves.”

God said to Jonah,
And should I not have concern for the great city Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left...
and also many animals?
Please, don’t be Jonah.

The truth is, It’s Really Just The Beginning.

mytzpyk is Michael Christensen, he lives, works, rides in Sioux Falls, SD.

His e-mail address is mytzpyk at yahoo dot com.

Anonymous commenting has been disabled.


After tomorrow’s offering you’ll be free to go.