Celebrating 5 Years Of Semi-Rad: 25 Favorite Quotes

Five years ago this week, I started this blog, hoping a few people might read it and get something out of it: a laugh, a small bit of inspiration, a reason to look up from a computer or smartphone and think about big things for a minute or two, or even just a way to procrastinate office work for four to nine minutes on a Thursday morning.

When I started, nobody told me there was a rule that you had to write once a week in order for a blog to become something—I just did it, because I figured if I didn’t take it seriously, nobody else would. So now it’s been going for roughly 260 Thursdays, and every Thursday I wake up and hope at least a handful of people will like what I put up on this website. Sometimes a few people do, and sometimes a few more than a few people do, and anytime somebody likes what I’ve written enough to share it with someone else, I feel like I’ve done something right.

If you’ve been reading this blog every week for five years, you are probably my mom or dad. If you’ve been reading it even semi-regularly for a year or more and you’re not my mom or dad, thanks for showing up. I hope it’s been as fun for you as it has for me.

(perhaps someone remembers when the site used to look like this?)

old screenshot

To celebrate five years of Semi-Rad, I collected 25 snippets of blog posts that I think are some of the best on this website. If you scroll down, you’ll find crude jokes, not-as-crude jokes, satire, some of the deepest thinking I’m capable of, elaborate constructions that poke fun of all the ridiculous things we do in the outdoors, and even an obituary. If I missed your all-time favorite Semi-Rad post, I apologize, but in my defense, it was a lot to sift through (and in that case, thanks for having a favorite Semi-Rad post).

And, a small note about a not-so-small thing: I am able to continue doing this every week because of two companies who generously support Semi-Rad: Outdoor Research and Vasque Footwear. They don’t ask me to do product giveaways on this website, or ask me to force mentions of their products into my blog posts, or try to wedge their way into the stories I write. I’m very thankful that they’re hands-off, and have said “Just keep doing what you’re doing.” They both make good stuff for all the adventures I do, from climbing mountains and trail running to sitting in a coffee shop brainstorming and tapping away at a laptop. If you like good stuff, check them out at their respective websites, outdoorresearch.com and vasque.com, or on my Gear page.

25 Quotes From 5 Years of Semi-Rad:

1. “Obsessive Campfire Adjustment Syndrome affects one out of every four camping enthusiasts in their lifetime, which means you have a 25 percent chance of developing symptoms. It also means the next time you go camping in a group of four, three of you will enjoy the campfire, contentedly staring into its embers like cave people, and one of you will not stop messing with the goddamn fire.”
Do You Have Obsessive Campfire Adjustment Syndrome?
April 17, 2014

2. “In the past century Americans have developed many ways to remove life’s discomforts and become more ‘civilized,’ and now we can have things like central air conditioning, $3,000 mattresses, and $1,500 reclining chairs. But all along, the pendulum was swinging the other way for people who went back out into the mountains and woods to sleep in the dirt, get sweaty, get rained on, and maybe spend a night shivering and waiting for the sun to come up.”
The Benefits Of Discomfort
July 24, 2014

3. “I’m sorry, was that too forward? Maybe we could back up a little. To the part where I build you a roaring but not ostentatious campfire and read to you from my favorite USGS quadrangle map while we sip from a very small bottle of whiskey I rationalized bringing even though I spent the night before weighing all the other items in my pack with a luggage scale.”
Backpacking Is Sexy
November 12, 2015

4. “People can disagree with things like quality, maybe your taste in food, or whether or not a movie is good. But no one can argue with enthusiasm, especially when it is over the top.”
Make 2012 The Year Of Maximum Enthusiasm
December 29, 2011

5. “Sometimes I say there is no better sound in the world than a beautiful woman laughing, except the sound of a beautiful woman laughing at something I said. But then I think the sound of a beautiful woman yelling ‘On belay!’ from 120 feet above me is better. Especially if it’s after she led the crux pitch on the route.”
The Rules For Dating A Dirtbag
April 12, 2012

6. “Instead of packing 8 beers for your overnight backpacking trip, just take 6. Total weight savings: 1.5 pounds.”
10 Tips To Help Lighten Your Backpack
July 2, 2015

7. “There is no other animal in the world that all of us want to both hug and run from at the same time. Of course, sharks are scary as shit too, but no one wants to hug a shark.”
Bears: Awesomest Animals In The Universe
August 9, 2012

8. “Anyway, you should get a pair. Of shoes. Not necessarily these, although I can’t complain so far. I think the company that made them in 2009 or whatever still makes them. They’re not super-flashy right now, but I noticed if you throw them in the washing machine and get some of the dirt out, they look brighter for a few days.”
Review: My Running Shoes
April 26, 2012

9. “What’s an acceptable way to spend your time, instead of climbing the Dawn Wall? Would it make us feel better to see Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson sitting next to us in traffic on Monday morning? Should they have sat down and watched all the seasons of Game of Thrones consecutively? Spent some days at one of those drink-wine-while-you-learn-to-paint classes? Done their part to contribute to the 3 billion hours we spend playing video games each week?”
The Dawn Wall And The Idea of ‘Wasting Time’
January 22, 2015

10. “Nothing beats spooning for maximizing bodily warmth. Especially if you’re just friends. If your tentmate seems not-so-keen on the idea, explain that it’s a common technique used in alpinism, and usually changes nothing in previously platonic relationships. Or say, ‘Dude, my nose is cold, just let me put it against your neck for a few minutes,’ or ‘Come over here, you big teddy bear.'”
7 Tips On How To Be A Good Tentmate
October 31, 2013

11. “Ever notice no one ever uses the word ‘vacation’ when they describe outdoor-centric travel? We substitute ‘trip.’ Taking a trip to Yosemite. A trip to Alaska. A trip to Baja. “Vacation” is more like spa, sightsee, relax, recharge, find the perfect balance between sitting and lying down in a chaise lounge somewhere, doze off in the sand — not endo, poop in a bag, get saddle sores, puke from exertion, get gobies from hand-jamming, explore new frontiers in body odor. Isn’t it?”
Your Best Vacation Is Someone’s Worst Nightmare
January 21, 2013

12. “My friend Mick told me he had a friend who said, ‘I used to think I was gonna change the world. Now I just let people onto the freeway.’ I always loved that line, because I think it says something about what people can do to make other people’s lives better—all those little things that don’t make the evening news.”
Sometimes You Get A High-Five From The Universe
September 5, 2013

13. “While walking miles and miles of steep terrain all day, you’ll snack on Bars That Kind Of Remind You Of Food And Are Pretty Tasty Until You’ve Eaten Two Every Day For Six Days And Now You’re Fuckin Sick Of Them. Mmmm. Atop a mountain somewhere, you may say to your hiking partner, ‘Wow, these really taste like the chocolate chip cookies my grandmother used to make,’ and when he or she says, ‘Really?’ You’ll reply ‘Hell no!’ and cackle hysterically.”
Lose Weight Now With The 10,000-Foot Diet
September 26, 2013

14. “So, how does it work?
Step 1: Get a huge backpack
Step 2: Put a bunch of shit in that backpack
Step 3: Put the heavy backpack on your back
Step 4: Go for a walk you can measure in ‘miles’ or ‘days'”
Introducing The ‘Heavy Backpack Workout’
November 6, 2014

15. “Maybe Dave is trying to inspire people a little bit, if you asked him. But I don’t think he is. I think he just has a simple, but a tremendous love for the joy that bikes bring most of us, and the courage to make that the central point of his life, not a hobby or an accessory.”
The Pure Joy Of Fixie Dave
March 14, 2013

16. “Just FYI, before you get all arrogant about walking to Starbucks to get a latte, remember that hiking was the predecessor to walking. Because there were no sidewalks when your ancestors were out trying to take down a saber-toothed tiger with a spear. They hiked, then later there were roads and sidewalks for walking, and later, there was Starbucks.”
Hiking Is Cool
May 29, 2014

17. “The first shit in the woods is a pure rite of passage for any mountain person. Sure, you can be a casual day hiker for years and avoid it, and maybe even last through a few overnight trips. But sooner or later, you’ll need to confront your ancestral self and drop one amongst the evergreens, without your favorite magazine, scented candle, or plush bathroom rug under your toes.”
How To Shit In The Woods, And How Not To
September 15, 2011

18. “Sometimes, when dudes are happy to see each other but don’t really know what the parameters are, they will do that awkward handshake-into-half-hug thing, which is rather unsatisfactory unless that’s really what you mean, and usually it’s not. It is about as rad as an almost-cold beer or a kind-of-soggy sandwich. It is OK, but lacks authenticity and meaning.”
Dude, It’s OK To Hug Your Bro
May 17,2012

19. “Among all the literature I read in college while smoking Camels on the front stoop, Tyler Durden’s was one of the clearest voices, and it helped me develop a pretty good bullshit-o-meter when considering the things companies try to sell us and we try to sell ourselves.”
Tyler Durden, Yvon Chouinard, And Growing Up
October 24, 2013

20. “You ever feel like you might not be so unique, that maybe you’re just wearing the uniform of a specific subculture? Ever walked up to a station wagon with a rack on top of it in the parking lot of a ski hill or trailhead, and then realized it was someone else’s station wagon with a rack on top?”
Are You A Beautiful And Unique Snowflake?
March 7, 2013

21. “Check it out: it’s a tiny shovel for your face.”
Professional Gear Review: Spoon
August 13, 2015

22. “But we get busy. Too busy scrolling our phone screens, watching TV, catching up with all the mundane shit in life and we forget about our dreams. We say things like ‘I don’t have time,’ and when we get frustrated that we don’t have enough time, we assuage that feeling of impotence by buying shit we don’t need, which we think will make us feel better. Granite countertops, leather sofas, sometimes skis, climbing gear or bikes we never use. Maybe that’s because we’re scared of whatever it is we’ve been thinking about for so long, or maybe it’s easier to buy something instead of doing something. Or maybe something we saw told us our dream was something different, and we bought into that.”
The Importance Of Big Dreams
June 21, 2012

23. “How could Eddie Vedder be 50? That’s barely a decade younger than my dad, and Eddie Vedder and I seemed to have so much in common during all those years I refused to listen to my dad.”
Thanks, Eddie Vedder
January 8, 2015

24. “Before I left on a cross-country bike tour in 2010, he gave me the best advice I’d get from anyone: Just keep spinning. Don’t try to muscle through anything. And that was the way he traveled, too. He always had time to drop in here, chat with those folks over there, take the blue highways. Car breaks down, no worries, we’ll get it fixed.”
My Pal Mick, 1958-2012
November 29, 2012

25. “Sometimes I hear people say things like, “I’m kind of a gear junkie.” That’s fine, whatever floats your boat. But you really don’t need to know that much about gear to do most things in the outdoors — how to fix some basic things on your bike, sure; how to use rock and ice climbing gear in a fashion that doesn’t endanger you or your partner, yes; how to operate a stove without burning down the forest, yes. But if you’re not Steve House or Ueli Steck, you can probably go ahead and climb with the fifth- or sixth-lightest soft shell, and crampons from 2004. Really. And your tent can weigh 6 ounces more than its closest competitor.”
Buy The Newest, Lightest, Shiniest Gear Today Or You Could Die Out There
March 31, 2011

-Brendan

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30 Comments

  • Seeing this makes me realize that I’ve been reading this since 2013 (time does fly), and I’ve read a decent amount of the posts you mention above. I don’t read all of your posts for various reasons and I can’t relate to all of them but I have forwarded them probably 20-30 times in the almost 3 years I’ve been reading. You’re thoughtful, funny, and you give persistent reminders of things which I find important. For that, I’m thankful. I’ll keep reading if you keep posting, and now I’m forwarding my brother about six articles you linked in this post.

  • Thanks Brendan, can’t say I’ve been reading for all 5 years, but I remember first discovering this page and instantly relating to it. For years now I’ve been looking forwards to you’re Thursday post hoping for something funny or inspirational. Keep doing what you’re doing its been a great ride.

  • I can’t remember how I stumbled upon your blog for the first time a few years ago, but I remember spending the rest of the evening browsing the archives because every post either resonated with me or made me laugh out loud. Keep doing what you’re doing, I look forward to seeing what you’ve posted every Thursday!

  • All the above quotes are great, but that 22 always hits me in the face.

    Happy anniversary. I’ve been enjoying this blog since probably 3-6 months after you started it. It is one of my favorite things online.

  • I would make #26 A Lesson from Fred https://semi-rad.com/2013/04/a-lesson-from-fred/

    “Which one of you guys is going to drive to Alaska with me?” And all of them come up with reasons they can’t go, and a couple of them crack jokes about Fred, and how he’s quote, unquote crazy for wanting to do that, Fred, you’re too old for that shit, and Fred goes home by himself. And he sits down at his kitchen table and gets out an atlas like the one I have at home, and he traces the ALCAN with his finger all the way to Fairbanks and imagines Alaska and sitting there and looking up at all 20,320 feet of Denali and he just goes

    Fuck you guys, I’m going for it.

  • My favorite blog to read, making Thursday mornings (and now Fridays too!) better for years. This listing of posts made me remember each of my friends that I shared the articles with because I thought of them while reading. Thanks for always bringing a smile to my face and writing about the important things in life.

  • Hey Brendan- been reading a while. Read your book too. I’m a fan. I am pleased OR has the sensibility & vision to support you as they do. I go way back with them- to the beginning- Ron and I sewing what would become the Croc gaiter in his basement. They have come a long way. Ron would be proud of what he began. He would love what you do too. Keep doing it, you have a voice that resonates with many of us.

  • I remember the old site. It may not have been as pretty but it was still pretty usable.

    It’s probably not totally your style, but why not do some giveaways? There’s a bunch of software that will manage it for you, maybe rafflecopter? People get more chances to win by subscribing/sharing/liking. I’m sure OR has some new awesome jacket they need to promote. Someone gets cool gear, you get some new readers, and more importantly a few people find the blog through those shares and start reading about riding bikes and eating peanut butter sandwiches instead of reading about whatever normal people read about on the Internet.

    Anyway, keep up the awesome posts.

  • Happy 5th Anniversary! I learned about Semi-RAD a couple years ago. I really, really enjoyed rereading all of these today.

  • I hope you part likes its 2011! I’ve been reading since 2012 and love every minute (or 20) of it! Keep it up!

  • Happy birthday seemi-rad ! I think I’ve been followinfg since 2012 and I’m happy to see my own all time favourite in this list : n°12 ! Thank you very much for the previous and next 5 years of thursday afternoon (because I’m reading from across the Atlantic) inspiration !

  • Personally, I discovered you after the ArcTeryx video “35”. After watching that video dozens of times I started to wonder who this Brendan Leonard guy was who wrote it. After a little Google search I stumbled upon this site (and I also discovered you had written in pretty much every magazine I have ever subscribed to). I can still remember the first few posts I read and they have kept me coming back. Every. Damn. Thursday. My personal favorites are: “The Rise and Fall of Macaroni and Cheese” and “Beware the Urine Drinking Mountain Goats.” Thanks for the distraction.

  • I’ve read all of these over the past few years, many from the now-old-school web site. I laugh, I think, I share. You’ve made me consider van life, take myself less seriously, focus on what’s truly important, call my grandma, not buy more shit, honor burritos, and keep up The Stoke. You’ve also turned me on to other gurus like The Stone Mind. I never gave a crap about blogs until yours. That’s why your sticker is on my desk. Thanks and keep living the dream.

  • Thanks for all the laughs and inspiration. I definitely get excited to read it on Thursdays. I love the “just get out there and have fun and don’t take shit too seriously” mentality. It has in part shaped how I approach the outdoor life. I have a lot of favs but I really like the genuine ones. Hiking the Grand with your mom, the one about your grandma saying that you can walk anywhere, and the recent one about loving what you do come to mind. On the opposite side the one about putting hot sauce on everything cracked me up. Lots and lots of positive vibes.

  • So I’m not your mom or dad – but I’ve read every post since Oct 2012, Brendan – probably some kind of record for me, too. Truly appreciated, dude!

  • Happy 5!!!! I remember you telling me that you were going to start this blog! I think we discussed doing things with mediocrity 🙂 That’s not what you did here!! So great when you see someone just steadily plug away at something as the years pass. A good reminder that if you want to do something just put one foot in front of the other and start! You are one funny dude Brendan Leonard, and your blog totally inspires and makes me laugh. I love sharing it with people. 12 and 22 are two of my favorites and I hope that my new little person will understand these things. I know I have forgotten and lost sight at times. I have an awesome book and a pretty ok onesie that will help keep us in check. Keep dreaming big with maximum enthusiasm, it helps the rest of us to remember to do the same!! #fistpumpoutwindows

  • Keep it coming….stumbled onto SR about 6 months in and never left. Always look forward to a Thursday lunch where I chuckle and shoot spaghetti at the office computer after a particular witty passage.

  • Thank you Brendan for always making Thursday the new Friday for the last 5 years.
    Thank you for the weekly dose of inspiration, humor and insight.
    Thank you for a killer designed t-shirt(RUN- DMC inspired “SEMI-RAD”). People always comment on it when I wear it. Great conversation piece.
    Thank you two well written, enjoyable books. They are well worn.
    Thank you for answering my travel questions when I headed out west.
    Simply…Thank you.-WB
    BTW, Virtual high five!

  • Brendan,

    Good to see you are still living and enjoying the outdoor life. The North Scottsdale Independent seems like a long time ago. I’ve always appreciated your help there in getting my stuff published.

    Good luck in your pursuits.

  • Been reading regularly for almost 4 years now, Thursdays are significantly better because of the email subscription. Thanks for always making us girls laugh at your advice for inane male behavior, and for reminding everyone that we’re supposed to be having fun. I love how your writing can make us all think about our impact, without once telling us what to do. Offsetting serious danger with seriously silly jokes is a talent, and you should be given some sort of award for it.
    Thanks again, looking forward to reading your work for many years to come!

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