So Close

I’ll begin by offering my sincerest thanks, seriously, I am overcome with gratitude. Writing is a rollercoaster, one where you almost never see where the tracks are headed, and since launching this Patreon near the end of last July I’ve been surprised by the support little-unknown-me has been able to generate. So, also a huge thank you to the makers of Patreon. Seriously, you guys are the best because this whole thing is helping me find new readers.

But, I’m not writing this to thank those of you who have already helped me turn my short fiction into a living. Rather, I’m looking for new eyes. In the last couple of days, we’ve added four new readers to our ranks and we’re five readers away from breaking my second funding goal.

PatronButton

So, I’m reiterating my request from a few days ago, I’m encouraging you to make a bet on me. If you can put down a dollar you’ll be helping create something new and special. If you can’t put down a dollar, maybe you can tell a friend. Thank you for helping, thank you for sharing.

IOTD

Recently, I was just interviewed for a radio show and one of the things we talked about was my belief that you cannot be a contemporary reader who doesn’t read science fiction. Rationally, it’s an impossibility. Even if you’re scanning the virtual pages of your Kindle, engrossed in a pre-historical treatise, you’re reading science fiction. You’re living it.

I bring this up because there have been so many instances since I became a full-time wordsmith that I’ve been asked, “What do you write?” Sometimes people show genuine curiosity, but all too often the response I hear is, “Oh, I don’t read science fiction.” Yes. Yes you do, and that should inspire you, is what I think.

I have friends who have been diagnosed with MS. I was born and raised in a place with a high incidence of the disease and I’ve watched vibrant, active and helpless people as their own immune systems eat them from the inside out. As little as 10 years ago, the idea that there would be a therapy to reverse this disease and return them all to full and productive lives was little more than fantasy. Back then, for them, we had some synthetic chemical treatments — their working mechanics a complete unknown — and a comfortable, lonely spot in an assisted living facility.

But, oh, the breakthroughs! Today, we’re on the threshold of rebuilding damaged neural tissues. Think about that for a moment, let it sink in. Despite what the standardized media outlets would have you believe, there is hope. We can fix inequity, right injustice, live together, and discover happiness. We just need the imagination to peer into that future.

Shadow Over Your Shoulder

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’ve just posted the short story for September on Patreon. I’m very proud of this creation and Shadow Over Your Shoulder arguably one of the better pieces I’ve written. I’d describe it as literary speculative fiction, a fantasy of sorts where the magic can be found in the mundane. It’s also a bit of a love story — not the spicy, passionate kind, but the stuff of commitment and compassion.

If you haven’t subscribed yet, don’t fret, there is plenty of time. If you’re not interested in subscribing, but would still like to read Shadow Over Your Shoulder I’m going to try something new. FeetForBrains is henceforth a small press all on its own, and that means you can buy my short stories directly.

Here’s how it should work. You can purchase access to Shadow directly, no monthly commitment, by clicking on the PayPal button below. You’ll run through their purchase rigamarole and eventually get a link to a Scribd version of the story. Keep in mind that my overhead is increased with this method of distribution, consequently so is the cost of the story (yep, $2 whole bucks). Go, go gadget micro-transactions!

shadow-over-your-shoulder

Buy Now Button

However you choose to support my art, thank you! And that’s what this is all about, we’re building a creative empire in increments. Of course, I’d love to hear your comments and impressions.

Primal Endurance

Last week was some sort of hell and not for any of the reasons you might suppose. Near the beginning of September, I started reading Primal Endurance written by Mark Sisson and Brad Kearns. Mark is the guy behind Mark’s Daily Apple, and Brad’s name may be familiar because he dominated much of the triathlon scene in the late 80’s, early 90’s. These guys have conspired to write a lifestyle manual for endurance has-beens like myself.

Grok!

Grok!

Their biggest piece of advice? “Live like Grok.” Last week was its own particular circle of hell because I’ve high glycemic index addict. I’ve been living very much unlike Grok, and this fact was laid bare when I tried to quit carbs cold turkey.

Day 1

This day wasn’t so bad. I felt the desire for high carbohydrate foods, but only fleetingly. As if, yeah it might be nice to have an energy bar or maybe a bowl of granola. I moved around, got things accomplished around the house and just sort of turned my nose up at the possibility of these treats.

Until the late afternoon, when my snobbery was fully exposed by a zombie-like desire to consume the flesh of oats. I struggled through the evening and went to bed early.

Day 2

Oh, shit! Was my first thought of the day. Things didn’t get much more complicated after that because I was dealing with a serious blood sugar deficit that only got worse as the day went on.

Needless to say, my activity level was way down on Day 2, and I ended spaced out in bed by the afternoon. Perplexing beyond words was my desire for brownies. I don’t usually eat brownies much, but since that evening I’ve experienced this overwhelming, mouth-watering desire for a big baking dish of dark chocolate brownies. Go figure.

Day 3

When I woke up, I felt the brain cloud of low blood sugar. I made myself some eggs and a small salad with olive oil, lemon, and garlic dressing and prevailed.

The day passed, I got things done. I even went for a frisbee run with A-bear. I did not track the run, nor did I follow my heart rate. I was probably in the block hole for at least some of it.

Day 4 & 5

Still craving brownies, but in more of an intellectual way now. I had a great deal of difficulty sleeping both of these nights, tossing and turning a lot.

sleep patterns

In fact, observing my circadian rhythms has been the single hardest part of this whole program. Carb cravings at the beginning were really overwhelming but very acute. Once my body started to get over its need for high blood sugar, I was able to stay mindfully aware of that desire. Even when I get to sleep after the sun goes down, I’m waking up a lot. Tossing and turning, no bueno.

Heart Rate Slow Burn

I went for a low burn “run” on Day 5 which is a lot harder than I’d expected it would be. Keeping my heart rate below my maximum aerobic threshold is going to require some fine tuning

Day 6

A pair of eggs and tasty salad. I had pretty good energy this morning and made it through the pre-school routine with a smile on my face. Also, I’ve noticed that I’m eating quantitatively less and going longer between meals than I used to be able to get away with.

I also noticed that my hands are significantly less swollen than they were a week ago. Apparently, this weekend we had a huge drop in barometric pressure too. My foot remained free the whole time, which indicates that the background level of inflammation has been reduced.

This evening I’ll likely go for another slow burn run.

Summary

Okay, so we’re only into this for a few days, but at the time I write this I’ve noticed some significant changes in my body and my mentation. Obviously, I have some work to do, also quite a bit more reading. However, the program seems to be having some positive effect, and that’s nothing to scoff at.

I’m going to give what I know and what I’ve read of this program a tentative endorsement and trust that I’ll be able to continue to adapt my life to their lifestyle program.

Real quick, thanks to Matt Hart of Coaching Endurance for the heads up on this program.

Taking Responsibility

September, my birth month, has become sort of my Little New-Year. This year I’m starting a new fitness and nutrition program. Revitalizing my interest in endurance sports as well as training for those kinds of events. Renewing my commitment to my family, my friends and myself.

In short, I’m taking responsibility for all the things I influence. I’m taking ownership. This also means I’m going to take more ownership for my artistic vision.

Last night I re-read METAtropolis: Cascadia and this made me realized how far away I’ve gotten from the speculative-fiction vision I started with only a few years back. Yeah, in the last two years I’ve written almost nothing but space opera, a fact of which I’m keenly aware. I’ve been happy writing these stories, but this kind of fiction isn’t really what stokes my coals.

Consequently, even though I have many outstanding projects I’ll still be diligently working on, I’m going to add some more input to my vision. Writing for my perception of “what the market wants” often means abdicating responsibility for what I think it could become. I don’t need to repeat Ford’s Edsel failure to realize a Mustang is what most people would love to drive.

RaidLight Olmo Ultra Raid Desert 30L + Health Planning

If you love trail running and fastpacking as much as I do, right now is about the time acute gear envy will set in. As I said in the unboxing video above I’m back out on the trail again, and that means improvements to my kit.

First up, is the RaidLight OLMO Ultra Raid Desert 30L pack.

First Glance

This pack weighs in at a measly 710 grams (1.6 lbs) and much of that appears to come from subdivisions inside each of the main compartments. The pack has seven (7) sealed nylon zippers with metal toggles which probably add a fair amount to the overall weight of the pack. The pack’s eighth zipper is inside the main compartment and is just the right size for a passport and other important documents. Most of these are relatively short travel which shaves off some of the bulk. Relative to other rucks on the market RaidLight has managed to do a fair job of keeping the weight down. Ultimate Directions FastPack 30L weighs 700 g (1.5 lbs) and lacks many of the organizational features RaidLight has crammed into the same space.

I actually like the color (mine is white, gray and orange with black trim) although I admit that when combined with my blue, charcoal, red, green and orange running togs it’s going to really complete’s my trail-side clown motif. C’est la vie.

Construction looks solid despite any double sewn seams. High-stress points are reinforced with tape and probably fabric glue. When I run my fingers around the inside of the main compartment I can feel the toggles for the draw cords because they run all the way into the seam. That’s good news since a failure at any one of these points could spell disaster on the trail.

A pair of water bottle holsters is positioned perfectly for hands-free sipping underway. Plus, even when loaded the bottles miss tender nipples saving all that uncomfortable pain from chafing. Both holsters have mess pockets for stuffing goo and snacks into. In addition to all this functionality up front, trekking poles have a stowage location across the front of the water bottles. I particularly like this because it means I can on or off-load my poles without taking the pack off.

The pack is well balanced does not wobble or irritate. The harness is well-padded conforms to my shape. There is an unpadded channel that runs up your spine to the shoulder harness which will allow sweat to escape, although I anticipate a wet spot on the back of my short after long, hot runs. The chest belt is easily four or five centimeters away from your chest which means that it won’t ever rub. The hip belt, designed to be worn loosely, comes with a sock over it. The sock is constantly falling off and without it, the belt will likely chafe. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this particular feature.

Details

Headphone Extension

A headphone extension has been provided in the pack. This is supposed to connect your iPod or phone to your earphones from the right waist pocket and I think it’s a great idea. However, the cordage is heavy, difficult to remove and/or replace, and potentially unnecessary.

olmo_1olmo_2

Don’t get me wrong, I really like the idea of having a hookup for audio books and music while I’m running, but this is probably going to be the first thing I change about the bag. I’ve checked and a pair of old Apple headphones is just about the right length to make a similar journey and easily half the weight. With a little fishing around I can get a good pair of earphones to complete the job and shave off some unnecessary mass from the kit.

Number Case?

olmo_3Honestly, I’m not even sure what this is for, but just behind the shoulder harness is a pocket made of clear plastic. I’m guessing that it’s for holding a race number, but if that’s the case then there’s a number of problems. First, when the shoulder straps are anchored properly to the top of the pack this pocket will inevitably be scrunched down. Also, if you put a number here it’s always going to be obscured by your head making the number impractical at best. “Look here,” he says bowing low so that the aid-station people can see.

I suppose you could mount a map here, but duh, why? You’d have to take the pack off to see it. So yeah, I’m not sure what this is for. And without any documentation (even in French which I could noodle through) your guess is as good as mine.

Easy Access Pocket

olmo_4Again, another spot on the pack where I’m left wondering. On the exterior of the main compartment is a tab with an icon I’m unable to puzzle out. The icon seems to indicate that there is easy access for something, however, what is anyone’s guess.

isobag-housse-isothermeAdditional clues: There are two zippers, one at the top of the pocket and one just above the easy access port. Near the top of the pocket are a pair of velcro loops and a water bladder port (clearly marked).

All of this seems to line up and or reflect RaidLight’s ISOBAG/ISOTHERM water bladder stuff, but why you’d ever want to load 2 liters of water as far away from your back as possible is beyond me. Especially when there is a port that runs next to your body. Maybe on long stage races crossing hot, arid deserts more water is needed?

Gear Attachment Points and Cinching

olmo_5olmo_6The main gear compartment is cinched down via a network of cords woven into the sides of the pack. You can operate this feature from the bottom of the ruck and it’s pretty straight forward. It’s nearly impossible to do this with the pack on so keep this in mind when you reach into the bag and pull out your raincoat or flashlights. If you’ve made space in the bag you’ll want to pull the cord before you put the ruck back on your shoulders.

Extra gear can be affixed to the ruck using four (4) gear attachment points on the bottom of the bag. Your sleeping bag and mat will need their own container and straps to be mounted outside the main compartment.

On The Trail

Yeah, so it’s not all confusion. Last night I took this ruck for a round in the forest. The run went off smoothly and while I wasn’t toting a full load I padded so there was some weight.

https://www.strava.com/activities/710338582/embed/9e120c0f245faee6ee1288794456fa60ce9ea1c9

I took my poles on this dash through the woods too, and my arms got a workout as well. The shoulder straps stayed out of the way and my arms cleared the poles when I stowed them up front.