Archive for October, 2010

Security in the Internet

I recently created a couchsurfing account.  The concept of having a network of strangers to share housing is quite foreign to American culture (this land is my land!).  I think it’s a great use of the internet, leveraging its strength in networking.

Probably the first thought of using is for having a place to stay when you travel.  I’ve now done this once.  However, I really enjoy hosting people in my apartment.  Hosting is a sort of way of traveling vicariously for me.

Hosting strangers also transitions my normal (boring) week night into a more interesting social scene.  I can’t say I’ve learned anything profound through couchsurfing, but it seems to bring about adventurous, down to earth people.

Here are two pictures from my couchsurfing stay in Palm Springs.  The room we stayed in is a casita: literally meaning a little house in Spanish.  Without a question, I would rather couchsurf at this location than stay in an isolated hotel room.

In our host's backyard, overlooking the San Jacinto Peak during a fall sunset.

Our bed for the night in the casita.


In addition to the location, we had great conversations with our hosts.  One was yoga instructor really into the law of attraction and positive thinking.  The other is an economist for a Spanish speaking television station in Palm Springs, where he puts “everything in terms of how many tacos one can buy.”

I concede that up until now I have presented a convincing story advocating couchsurfing.  What lacks is the backstory that my contact is a Palm Spring’s all male, clothing optional, yoga instructor.  Sometimes you need to take a risk though.

I think it’s a low risk to take because of the accountability on the site.  You can rate your past experiences . . . one bad rating and I don’t know how much longer you would be able to use the medium.

For anyone looking to surf, it’s generally expected that you bring something in exchange for the place to stay.  I cooked dinner for our hosts in Palm Springs.  People will often bring a bottle of wine, beer, or something as a token of exchange.


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Life Without a Television

I’m now living for the first time without a television*.  I’ve always been anti-television, for myself personally.  The main reason is that I don’t have the attention span and interest for it.

*Technically, there is a television that we use for watching DVDs, but there isn’t any reception — cable or even an antenna for local broadcasts.

However, I’ve always had roommates that like television.  So while most of the time I live without the television, I have also watched it on rare occurrences (like once or twice a month) when I am brain dead or feel like watching a sports game.

I’m noticing that not having the comfort of television is a significant difference.  There’s less background noise (both audio and visual) that either needs to remain silent or requires an increased amount of conversation. It also requires finding new mind-numbing idleness or totally eliminating them.

Another alternative is to find more outside the house events, and possibly spend “the cable bill” on alternative entertainment.

I wrote this after reading Seth Godin’s post today.

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Why I Hate Trail Runners

Since I’ve taken the last few months off from trail running, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to reflect on good memories of trail running.  Alternatively, here’s what I’ve learned that I hate about it.

  1. Trail runners don’t have any allies. Trail runners look down on both mountain bikers and road runners.  A minority might participate in mountain biking or road running; yet in a group setting, trail runners will transform into elitists.  I think they side best with hikers, only because hikers don’t bother nor threaten the trail runner.
  2. Like an American is doomed to side with either the Beatles or Elvis Presley, a trail runner can only respect Dean Karnazes or Scott Jurek. Slow trail runners naturally side with social inclusion in the sport (Karno).  Faster runners believe in a sort of sports as a form of one type of religion (Jurek).
  3. Trail runners like the idea of the outdoors, but they are ignorant to the physical reality or risk of it. Trail runners rarely carry the 10 essentials, have much back country skills, and tend to rely on others heavily (aid stations for hydration, nutrition, and safety like ham radio operators).
  4. Trail runners don’t understand the term “TRACK!!!” If you use this on a road run, you are much more likely to have a person instinctively and *quickly* move out of the way fast.  Whether you are  joking or serious is all in terms of use.  Trail runners are subject to the much more inefficient, “On your right/left,” and hence are much more lame.
  5. Salt tablets. Salt tablets are only used to help laborious efforts in sweat shop like conditions.
  6. All trail runners are old. There’s just not a lot of fresh blood in trail running.

I’m excited to get back on the trail and become lost in the delusions again (and hate roadies, again).

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