Archive for June, 2009

Trans- Tour: Planning

Bender and I like ridin’ bikes.

We like ridin’ bikes so much that we are going to ride for a whole week during our summer vacation!  From July 19 to July 25, we are going to cross Glacier National Park on the famous and historical Going-to-the-Sun Road that cuts across the park, as well as circumnavigate the park.  We are following an Adventure Cycling route, from the North Tier section starting and ending in Whitefish, Montana by taking the train from/to Portland, Oregon.

We are covering about 50 miles per day.  That’s nice.  The fun part is that going trans-Rockies, trans-borders (USA/Canada,eh?), trans-rail . . . that’s when Bender figured out we have a lot of trans-!  Hence, we titled the tour and set our main objective: attain as many trans- endeavors as possible.

Here are a few on the list:

  • trans-saturated fat
  • translation
  • Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  • Trans-Am, Pontiac
  • trans-water

My current list is 21 trans-‘s long.  Three trans-‘s require prior preparation.  One of the items, transport, includes a social experiment that could fail from diffusion of responsibility.

At any rate, we are asking people to send us items, general delivery for us, to Cut Bank, Montana, so that we can get them in the middle of the trip.  We would really appreciate transporting such items such as, but not limited to, food, a tour mascot, postcard, or a social experiment idea. Huge volume items that would be hard to hold down on a bicycle tour would be hilarous, but only after the fact and not during.

We ask that you keep this in the back of your mind so you can join our cause!  And, you could become a part of our tour! A good time to send stuff will be in a couple of weeks, and I’ll remind people here.



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Capitalism Pays Investors

For some reason when I hear the word capitalism, I think of the characters Randolph and Mortimer Duke from Trading Places. The Duke brothers, Randolph and Mortimer, are crooked investors on Wall Street.  The two only care about themselves, which is apparent in the plot.  The brothers make a friendly bet, for $1, over the welfare of one of their employees and a street begger, whom they force to trade places.

These brothers are the antagonists.  They have so much money that they need not worry about anyone else.  After dabbling in readings about economics, I’ve come to a turnabout.  These characters are capitalism’s heroes, regardless of their poor morals.  Their income thrives off of their investments: their company’s equity, assets, and employees’ knowledge.

Investors in capitalism encourage spending: Investors get cashflow from consumers.  I think society has a misunderstanding that the rich have assets or the potential to consume assets.  But in reality, the “rich” people are the ones who have a sustainable, passive income that is higher than their expenses, like Mortimer and Randolph.

A sustainable, passive income that is higher than your expenses does not require a lot of buying power, i.e. cash or assets.  And, this cashflow is one form of retirement that will last forever, so you can rest your worries from Social Security, 401k, or whatever other method the government encourages.

America’s status quo is to have a job that covers your expenses.  A lot of Americans live at a level they cannot afford, including maintaining an average credit card debt of $8,000.  Investors have interestingly marketed irrational consumer behaviors, solely for selfish reasons.

Looking at catching up, more generally.

I’m not the first to these thoughts.  Rich Dad, Poor Dad is an interesting, light read detailing cashflows more indepth.  Early Retirement Extreme provides a unique paradigm the stereotypical American would probably find absurd, as he retired in his early 30s due to his low cost of living.  I find a view considering time as a key factor for investing to keep investment thoughts and plans optimistic.

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The Trans-Catalina Trail

on the Trans-Catalina Trail, just south of the airport

Just a few weeks ago, the Catalina Island Conservancy opened* the Trans-Catalina Trail (TCT).  I ventured over to Catalina Island to hike across the island, from Two Harbors traveling south to Avalon.  I hiked across Catalina once before on the “Don’t Meet the Girlfriend’s Parents During Thanksgiving” trip.  The TCT’s single-track provides a much nicer experience than the fireroads that cover Catalina, which have sporadic, relatively high-speed traffic between the two towns on Catalina.

*I think I was an Cherokee in my past life so I don’t get privitization of land.

The trail is well formed and well marked, for the most part.  There are a few spots with multiple turn-offs.  I think in a year or two, once the trail gets more worn the little confusion that is on the trail will cease.

single-track running atop a ridge.

I know of four trail races on Catalina: the Buffalo Run (13.1 mi),  the Eco-Marathon (26.2 mi), the Catalina Marathon (26.2 mi), and the Avalon 50 (50 mi).  The courses of the last two go between Avalon and Two Harbors.  The websites, at this time, do not include the TCT but instead use the roads.  For some reason, this troubles me.  I’ll get over it and/or run it self-supported.  Take that, race directors!

I like pictures.

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Mac 50k: The Oregon Trail!

In the beginning of May, Bender and I ran the McDonald Forest 50k, the “Mac 50.” This was my first time running on an Oregon Trail.   The trip to Oregon was two part: run the 50k (duh) and meet with Bender about our summer bike tour, The Trans Tour.  I flew into town Thursday and left Monday morning.

Thursday night we hit the town properly, for Portland.  We biked to three bars, and I saw my first Bike-Designated Left Turn Lane.  Portland has some awesome beers.  A bar tender yelled at Bender because he picked us up fries out of the garbage.  Haters.

On Friday, Bender made me a scavenger hunt around Portland, so I wouldn’t get into trouble.  It was a fun way to see the city: bus ride up the hill, tram ride down the hill, streetcar into downtown to the bus station.  To get to the next spots, I had to ask strangers questions to find my clues, such as: “Go to the living room of Portland,” and “Meet me outside the oldest strip club in Portland.” It made me realize how much I now use my cell phone, instead of interacting with strangers.  Something to think about. Props to Bender.

We then took a two hour bus ride from Portland to Albany.  Bender had his car at the bus station, and he gave a hitch to guitar-making teacher from Albany to Corvalis.  That day we checked out a cabin that Bender was interested in renting.  When I asked if I could whiz in that yard, the landlord gave me a pleasurable, “It’s your planet; piss on it!”  Good energy.

We checked in for the race, cooked a pasta dinner, and went to bed. I slept with the cats in the living room.

The race was gorgeous: ferns, moss, and water, oh my!  The race had a nice size: 150ish. The trail was spongey; it felt really nice.  I wasted a lot of energy avoiding puddles in a section called “the Maze,” only to go ankle deep in one of the last puddles I encountered.  SoCal Pansy.

My favorite part of the race was a Big Lebowski themed Aid Station (AS) supported by the Corvalis Search and Rescue group.  The AS was complete with character costumes, White Russians, and a rug which really tied the AS together.  The part of that AS that made me laugh for 5-miles though was a nicely timed sign.  There was a little boy telling us runners the normal such things you might hear right before an AS: “Looking good; water, food, and medical support ahead; over halfway done now!”  Then, as we turned a corner there was a sign: “8 Year Olds, Dude.” Hilarious.

And, some locals brewed an India Pale Ale, ready for us at the end of the race!

I was happy with my finishing time: 7hrs.  Neither elated nor bummed about it.  Another race to chalk up for the experience category.  Another victory!

Don’t you worry; we set aside some time to plan the Trans Tour, too.  Then it was off to eat a squirrel burger, and display that I am “the Ying to Tuna’s Yang,” for Bender’s friends.

All in all, a great trip: the Northwest is a great place even though they stereotypically wear dark clothes; ride fixed gear bikes; and, drink PBR.  Hipsters.

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Got to Run Away to Get Away

Who ranks as the highest? . . . [The] one who is always at peace regardless of the other person’s disposition.Buddha

Bank of America Chicago MarathonI find goal-setting for the amateur interesting.  Goals are evidence that humans are optimistic about the future. People realize they have a possibility to change, for the better.  But in the realm of the world, attaining your goal is no different than not attaining it.  I am taking that into consideration for my “A Level” race this year, the Chicago Marathon.

Instead of having a result-oriented goal, I want to focus on the journey.  There’s a danger of becoming a slave to a workout schedule; however, I think there are benefits to it.  My goal for this next 16 weeks is to learn more about what Tim Noakes calls “Your Experiment of One.”  Since I ran the Old Goats’ 50 Mile Ultra, I have enjoyed 10 weeks of unstructured running fun — mainly just Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday while traveling on the weekends.  I rest again this week, not running at all.  Then it’s off to set some structure!

I plan to focus on a standard Tue, Wed, Thu, Sat, and Sun run schedule.  I want stay with my newer habit on Tuesdays with the Dawn Patrol.  Wednesdays and Saturdays will be slow recovery runs.  Thursday will be speed, and Sunday will be distance.  Adding a 1-week recovery in a 4-week cycle makes the schedule fairly orthodox to Runner’s World and Hal Higdon templates.  For additional orthodox ways, I’ll probably use Burt Yasso’s method to set my goal pace 12 weeks into the 16 weeks of training.

A big yay for the Type-A!  . . . but I really just aspire to:

  • keep learning what works for me;
  • be healthy;
  • have some fun experiences;
  • have the best amateur goal in the world, E V E R ! ! !

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My Beef with Smoothies

I recently started drinking more smoothies.  It’s an easy, tastey way to get fruits and vegetables.  It changes things up.  I have two problems with smoothies though.

Smoothies have a bad Rolled Throughput Yield (RTY). That is the high viscosity smoothie leaves itself [to waste] on the blender and in the cup.  This is easy to fix.  I usually make a smoothie and then have some “smoothie water,” which tastes similar to Crystal Light.  This problem is manageable though, as long as you are fine with some hydration consequences.

My other problem with smoothies is that I have yet to thoroughly enjoy* a smoothie that does not have yogurt.  I’ve tried recipes, and tried adapting recipes, but for me if it doesn’t have some plain yogurt it just ain’t got that thang.  Again, this isn’t so bad as I think yogurt provides some nice natural immune builders with the active cultures in it.

*There is an obvious difference between consuming calories and nutrients and enjoyment in my diet.


Smoothier than you are.

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