A Bevy of Concerns

It’s beginning to look a lot like xmas, and these days that means a news media chocked full of horror stories. Yes, they took a blind kid’s cane away in Kansas, American’s can now fuck with Cuba directly, a robot on Mars smelled an alien fart, and terrorists are running amuck in Afghanistan. Oh me, oh my have I forgotten anything? Why the mainstream media isn’t worried about an ebola epidemic anymore may be indicative of why they were so worried about it in the first place, but I digress because man are they concerned about the DPRK.

Another piece of troubling news gobbling up the airwaves. Possibly North Koreans a) have computers, b) potentially know how to use them well enough to penetrate Sony’s firewall, and c) they feel American Seth Rogen now qualifies as a “high value target.” Chuck Wendig is making too much sense over at Terrible Minds about this one. While I too am shaking in my slippers — I mean North Korea is a scary place — I don’t think this incident represents a credible “threat to our ability to create and share art.”

Truth be told, media distribution companies such as Sony, have been holding back plenty of art with far less cause. In fact, great heaps of stories never get told because they lack something critical. “Is it the quality of the art? The subject matter? The connections of the artist telling the story? Why?” you ask, “Why would anyone hold back a movie or a book from me?” It could be any number of components that Rogen and Franco seemingly had taken care of before a country which, while lacking orange juice, took it upon itself to hack the crap out of one of the world’s biggest, most financially capable, multi-national companies.

Not to give North Korea too much credit, but I think they may understand something basic about nouveau economic liberalism and the power of consumer culture that we, living in the thick of it, have seemingly missed. They have managed to pull our chain on this one and the funny thing is, we just let them.

DPRK hasn’t “won” anything, unless you’re a network security specialist looking for a new job. I hear Sony is hiring. No, parody movies mocking Kim Jung Un and his chubby, lovable, despotic cheeks will continue to be made. In fact, I imagine right now the writing staff at Saturday Night Live and College Humor are feverishly hacking together entertaining scripts on the topic of any number of ridiculous aspects of the “Supreme Leader.” And Sony will sit on this asset of a while, or they’ll sell it off. I predict that The Interview will eventually make it to the cinema.

Personally, I think what is scary about this situation is the news that we’re vulnerable to manipulative control. Sony didn’t withhold The Interview because they wanted to protect the consumer public. The threats of violence against their customers are an interesting pretext to the crumbling of this film, but I anticipate a rousing comeback in the near future. And funnily enough I don’t believe that it’s a potential revenue stream this company is protecting, it’s just not that important. Rather Sony and all those cinema companies refusing to show the film are suffering from a sever case of hypengyophobia. They’re shocked by the craziness of this whole cluster event in the first place and I believe that they’re trying to preempt any more crazy, in particular, they want to avoid responsibility for crazy, before it happens. Eventually, someone at Sony, or where ever the film gets passed, will realize that the heroic spin on this story demands that they get this comedy on screens.

So, meh. If you want DPRK to “win” then continue to crow that message. Otherwise, fly the bird for Sony and find a Kim Jung Un video on YouTube. Then play the crap out’ta that because freedom man. Laugh and laugh and know that you’re not living under the thumb of a petty, ridiculous commercial dictatorship who has the power to control your taste in media nor do you live in North Korea.

Media Dieting

“Someone who doesn’t read gets about the same education as someone who can’t. Where you get your information seems of vital importance to how you see the world.” – Matt Hart

This morning, while eating breakfast with Aral at a local cafe, I overheard someone bragging. The guy, sitting on the opposite side of a low wall just to the east of the diner counter, seemed to be employing this tactic to impress the woman across from him.

“I don’t read anything ya can’t trust,” he said in a bellicose drawl that appeared to lack volume control.

She countered, asking him what he knew he could “trust.”

Much of his answer was swallowed along with forkfulls from a heaping mound of biscuits and gravy, but I surmised that he was disinterested in the “lame-stream” media to such an extent that he chose only to get his news from a single source. You guessed it, FOX.

At first I had trouble digesting that any television broadcast might somehow be confused with reading. But then I recalled that we all build our own narrative and if the woman sitting across from this guy wasn’t going to say anything it certainly wasn’t my place to intervene.

Next up in my internal monologue, I started to think of my visceral reaction when I encounter something that a) I know is patently wrong — an obvious bald face lie told by straight faced liars in the hope of manipulating my narrative — and b) things that I suspect when I read them in particular because they conflict with the narrative of my life.

The former is actually less offensive to me. When it’s an obvious manipulation I guess it is also easy enough to roll over it like a speed bump. Regardless, if it’s snake oil or promises made to break, when I encounter this sort of misinformation I simply chart a course around it. My narrative stays intact, I stay happy.

The latter however can be problematic. Case in point, I’ve been using Hammer Nutrition’s Recoverite after longer runs and workouts for sometime. Their list of claims about what this product can do is short enough:

  • Restores muscle glycogen
  • Rebuilds muscle tissue
  • Reduces post-exercise soreness

What has been bugging me of late is the claim to reduce “post-exercise soreness.” The issue arrises because I can’t for the life of me find anything which medically supports this claim. Sure enough, glycogen can medically/nutritionally be shown to enhance recovery and whey protein isolate is known to be one of the best ways to quickly repair muscle tissue. And despite this claim I’m usually sore after a good long run through the woods. My inclination is to imagine how much more sore I might be if I didn’t dump 200 cc of what could be powdered money into two quarts of water and down them like an antidote to deadly poison. I know this is because I’m lazy.

Simultaneously, I crave and fear testing this hypothesis. If I need it in order to deal with DOMS, that without Recoverite would be world’s worse, self-testing is just going to suck for me. Yet, while I’ve been jogging along I’ve also caught myself wondering if I’m just wasting money on what amounts to little more than dried cottage cheese with strawberry flavoring.

UltraHiker?

This caught my attention

This caught my attention

Yeah, so new term I recently encountered has done an admirable job of characterizing my recent return to the trail.

In 1997 I hurt my left foot and ankle in an Army running event. At the time I was regularly running in the burgeoning trail events of the day and hoped to compete in a semi-professional way upon leaving the the service. Several surgeries later I was lucky I got to keep my foot and left my last posting using a cane to get around.

I’ve since been able to ditch the cane, and have gotten strong enough to take up trail running once more. I love it, I’m passionate about it. However, I’ve run into a series of issues that periodically make trail running a problem. Specifically, when I train too hard I end up with injuries that are usually an exacerbation of my previous medical problems. No fun, and not sustainable.

In the spring of 2014 I started up once again. I intended to enter and run a couple of 50 kilometer races. Then life happened and as you might have guessed I didn’t run in any of these. In the early summer our family had to pull stakes and relocate. This threw a monkey wrench into my training schedule and I missed Sage Burner by a couple of weeks.

Then after the dust from the move had settled enough for me to get serious about Canyon de Chile I first felt some discomfort in my back (probably from pushing A-bear around in the buggy so much) and later injured my foot stepping on a errant Lego caltrop. I took most of the autumn off to recover, and have only recently been able to get back on a training plan.

So I’ve dialed it back a notch and began to focus on the sustainability of my outdoor activities. Ground pounding trail running seems beyond me at the moment, maybe forever. Yes I can still break into a trot and sustain it a good long while, but I know sooner or later I’m going to twist something or fall or break something and I’ll end up sidelined next to a big bucket of cookies. So I walk a lot of the time. It’s a fast walk — I average about 3.4 to 4.0 miles per hour depending on terrain and weather — and it serves to get my heart rate up and keep my respiratory system fully engaged.

While this seems like an okay way to re-enter the trail running scene I haven’t seen this state of affairs as anything other than a means to an end. Walk until you can run. But no amount of walking or running is going to make me 23 years old again and pushing that hard will predictably end badly.

I need goals to work toward. While winning an event has never been particularly important, participation in trail running events has been. I also need community, people I can talk with from time to time, who share my passion for wilderness and for covering ground under their own power.

I came across this guy on the Pacific Crest Trail facebook page. He’s the author of that meme at the top of this post.

In those few words Guitarte has defined an emerging passion I was working on yet failing to codify. I have goals now.

My long term health goal is to be out on the trail when I am ancient. To do that I need to avoid hurting myself. I am already a very efficient walker and have a great deal of experience backpacking. But having an event to train for gives me a concrete goal to work towards and I’ve always found that is the most compelling way to live. 

In a decade and change my little one will be out of the house and I’ll likely be able to fulfill my dream to Triple Crown. But not right now. Right now I’ve got to keep my focus on regaining my health and becoming performant once more. Seemingly, my body can’t keep up with the stress and strain of running 40+ miles a week. I guess I’m not a 20-something any more. Every single time I try to train like this I end up sidelined by injuries. Every. Single. Time.

Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2014, Day Two: Non-Traditionally Published Books

FeetForBrains:

“The Big Red Buckle is a quick and decidedly satisfying read, and I look forward to seeing what Thyer comes up with next. And you know what? Even if it’s sports related, this couch potato is going to read it.” Andrea Johnson of Little Red Reviewer

“Mr. Thyer’s spare prose, to me, is reminiscent of Ray Bradbury’s work, in which I was never so clear about the scenery as I was about the characters and actions taking place in the story. After all, the characters must exist inside of suits, helmets, small vehicles, and domes that insulate the characters from a planet which is not yet hospitable to its new residents.” Zane Kinney of Rodeo City Graphics

THE BIG RED BUCKLE

KDP_BRBThumb

Humanity has begun to move out into the stars. Sport still plays a vital role in our day-to-day affairs. The Big Red Buckle recounts an episode of a single-stage endurance race held between two shield volcanoes on a Mars that is slowly being terraformed. Participants must run and soar over 1,500 kilometers while the solar system watches.

Available from Amazon & Smashwords.

Originally posted on Whatever:

Today is Day Two of the Whatever Shopping Guide 2014, and today the focus is on Non-Traditionally Published Books: Self-published works, electronically-exclusive books, books from micro presses, books released outside the usual environs of the publishing world, and so on. Hey, I put my first novel up on this very Web site fifteen years ago and told people to send me a dollar if they liked it. Look where it got me. I hope you find some good stuff today.

Please note that the comment thread today is only for non-traditional authors and editors to post about their books; please do not leave other comments, as they will be snipped out to keep the thread from getting cluttered. Thanks!

Authors/editors: Here’s how to post in this thread. Please follow these directions!

1. Authors and editors of non-traditionally published books only. This includes comics and graphic novels, as well as non-fiction books…

View original 329 more words

Trail Running in the Rain

I’ve been rebuilding my PNW running kit and in doing so I’ve been reviewing why my it works so well for me. You should not be afraid of running in the rain or cold. In fact, if approached correctly, this can be the best time of year to run. However, you must make a couple of adjustments to the common kit in order to make trail running after the autumn equinox safe, comfortable and enjoyable. Here are my suggestions for staying out on the trail all winter long.

John Wayne Trail wet but warm

Get Wet, Be Happy

The myth of the dry runner is perhaps bigger than the myth of Sasquatch. In the Pacific North West, during the rainy season, there is no such thing as a dry runner. If you run on trails this is doubly so because you’ll be brushing up against nappy ferns and running under dripping trees even if there isn’t rain falling from the sky. Water will get inside your jacket, it will saturate your socks, it will soak your underwear and there is nothing you can do about it. Coat yourself in vinyl and you’ll still be dealing with a wetness problem since you’re body is going to perspire far more than your clothes will be able to eject.

The solution is to become comfortable with wet, and work for warm. Wet can no longer be a discomfort that you tolerate, you must make your peace with it fully and completely. If you cannot bring yourself to this state of mind you will fail running in the rainy season.

However, since you know you’re going to get wet you need to ensure you never get cold. Cold is the enemy. This means wearing hydrophobic fabrics like nylon and and wool which don’t lose their property to insulate when they get wet. Socks, tights, shorts, shirt, jacket, gloves, and hat. None of these things should have a single thread of cotton involved in the weave. Garments that claim to be “waterproof” are extra weight which will quickly be proven inadequate. Even the best tech fabrics will take on water in a good down poor and most of them do little to insulate.

Start Cold

There are very few runs that happen this time of year where you wont find a ruck strapped to my back. The reason is that I want to start the run cold, almost shivering cold. This is so I can tune the temperature regulation of my body after things get warmed up which means I’ll likely bring an extra layer of warmth which occupies my backpack for the duration.

In bitter cold, when the air dries up a bit and arctic winds are blowing, I tend to carry a thicker, more insulative outer layer in my ruck while ensuring exposed skin is minimized. Use baffles at critical junctures to keep heat close to your core. A buff around your neck, gloves tucked into sleeves, long underwear tucked into your tights. Starting out will be uncomfortable, but the advantage is that you can untuck or re-zip while you run, adjusting to a headwind or a hill as encountered.

Save that outer layer in reserve for when you stop for a bite to eat or after the run is over. Its warmth and dryness will be welcome then and in an emergency it can be the difference between life and death.

Layer Like a Bagman

Your running wardrobe should be built in layers: base/insulation/shell. You can add complexity and thus adjustability in middle. Two components adding a quarter inch of insulation are better than a single which does the same thing. This is because that second jacket or sweater can come off and on as conditions fluctuate.

Also, there is an advantage to this when you pay attention to what the weather is doing. Do you see that pregnant cloud coming in over the lake? Yeah, it’s going to make land fall and start dumping on you in the next couple of minutes. Quick stow a part of your insulation layer in the dry bag tucked away in your ruck and save it for later. If you leave it on, it’s only going to get wet.

Travel Towels

Bring a small hyper-absorbent travel towel along in your kit. It doesn’t have to be much more than a hand rag. I use this at the end of a run before I change into a second set of dry clothes and sometimes during a run to wipe up and wring out some of the excess moisture that will pool in uncomfortable places.

The utility of a hand sized Sea-to-Summit Drylite towel cannot be overstated. You can blow you nose on them, even in the rain. They can clean glasses, or be used to clear fogging. This, and only this, has what it takes to remove that annoying nose-drip which perpetually hangs off the end of my beak. When you’re done with the run, chuck it in with the load of running clothes that you’re going to be washing. Keep a short stack of these ready for when the urge takes you out on the trail.

Stretching Pad

Yeah, you still need to stretch after a run in the rain. If you don’t you’ll be more likely to suffer injury. You can make this vital component of your run more likely to happen by preparing for it. You won’t likely stretch back at the trailhead if you’re going to be sitting down in icy mud. I use a Thermarest Z-lite sleeping mat for a couple of reasons.

First, when I’m done I can open the rear hatch on my Prius and stand on it in my socks. The ridges get me up off the cold and wet of the parking lot and the insulation makes is possible to focus on working out the kinks in my legs before they turn into knots. Also, this little bit of preparation gets used to change atop. If I’ve got warm, dry clothing waiting for me in the car I can get into this outfit without smearing mud and yuck all over the cabin of my automobile.

Seal Electronics

Either buy electronics that are factory sealed or find ways to ensure these useful tools for running are protected. Either that or leave them home. Your phone should be packed up inside something that has no potential to leak and if you carry a separate GPS make sure it can survive a two meter plunge.

Periodically double check your gear to make certain no water has made it into the case. This is especially important for phones sealed in third-party cases since ambient humidity can turn into condensation over time. Open them up, take a look inside, wipe out what shouldn’t be there.

Rotate Shoes

I run at least five days a week. After any run my shoes tend to come back pretty wet and somewhat muddy. In order to alleviate the problem of running in wet shoes (which is never any fun) I rotate three or four pairs of shoes during the winter months.

There is still the advantage that I’m giving my shoes time to recover, but my experience is that shoe foam recovers faster than it dries. Adding shoes to the rotation ensures that I’m always running in dry shoes.

Make sure you stay on top of minor shoe repairs as well. Shoe rubbers become less useful in the wet. Runners will tend to slip on ice, wet pavement, rocks and tree roots given the changed conditions. A little problem with a shoe can quickly turn a minor slip on a tree root into a catastrophic injury. Keep a brush near the place you store your shoes, keep them clean. Inspect them for tears and separations, repair or replace shoes when these problems are minor.

Stay Visible

I don’t think that this one can be overstated. The rainy season, which is marked by low-light days that become progressively shorter, is also when hunters are hitting the trails. Drivers cannot see you in that slick black jogging suit. Neon colors, blinking lights these separate the dead darkwads from the successful winter runners.

Neon color gloves with reflective stripes, jackets that make you look clownish, running tights that hurt the eyes; your winter gear should communicate your presence as far a distance as you can project it. You don’t just want ugly here, you want to revive 80’s outdoor fashion fugly.

 

Clear Winner Today

Sgt. Bret Barnum (left) and Devonte Hart take pause amid an otherwise hectic Ferguson rally in Portland earlier this week. Johnny Nguyen/Special to the Oregonian (Johnny Nguyen/Special to The Oregonian)

The world isn’t filled with rat-bastards. In fact, it’s likely that it is mostly occupied with kind people. I just came across this photo and it’s a winner. Kindness and empathy. We can meet and solve our problems with these.

Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2014 Starts Monday!

FeetForBrains:

Oh my favorite time of year. Incidentally, Lock In was excellent in both Wil and Amber narrated renditions.

Originally posted on Whatever:

Every year in the first full week of December I run a shopping guide for the holidays, and over the years it’s been quite successful: Lots of people have found out about excellent books and crafts and charities and what have you, making for excellent gift-giving opportunities during the holiday season. I’ve decided to do it again this year.

So: Starting Monday, December 1, the Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide Returns! If you’re a writer or other creator, this will be an excellent time to promote your work on a site which gets up to 50,000 visitors daily, almost all of whom will be interested in stuff for the holidays. If you’re someone looking to give gifts, you’ll see lots of excellent ideas. And you’ll also have a day to suggest stuff to other folks too. Everybody wins!

To give you all time to prepare, here’s the schedule of what will…

View original 243 more words