Monday, May 31, 2010
It's Not Rocket Science: Week 8
I also have been considering a new "field" of work. For a long time I have somewhat avoided thinking about working for the oil industry. I would prefer to be in the aerospace industry or in the mountaineering/running industry. However, I have spent some time recently with a friend who worked for them and he has been been changing my opinion. What does the future hold for me? I have no idea, but I keep learning about interesting opportunities and sooner or later I will go through one of these rabbit holes into a new part of the world and I will learn so much more than I currently fathom.
In the rest of my life: I taught at the Boy Scouts National Camp School at Peaceful Valley Scout Ranch, near Elbert, CO. This was a great chance for me. I was able to to teach the Rock Climbing Directors how to run a program. There were three instructors and 13 students. I learned a few things, such as get the students alone building anchors early. I also reinforced what I already knew: if you want someone to really get something you have to teach them one on one. Now, that doesn't mean the teacher can only have one student. Many many times, yes even in elementary and high school, the students teach each other.
I ran 51 miles which is down 16 miles from the week before. The schedule was just not conducive to much running. I even had a two mile day and a four mile day. However, I like the fact that 51 miles is considered a really low week for me.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Successful Innovative Companies: Volume 24
What they do right: They list nearly everything in the world of movies. When I say everything I mean it all. For example, I have a friend who is an actress and is listed on IMDb with four of her projects. Some of those do not even have the five ratings required for a rating to show for that movie. Yet there is a cast list and synopsis for each project. (On a side note she is probably best known for being the girl in the One Republic and Timbaland Apologize music video.)
IMDb is the 43rd most popular website in the world (according to Alexa). That's pretty good for a site with such a narrow focus of just movies (and television).
IMDb was officially incorporated in the UK in 1996 and was bought in 1998 by Amazon.com so it is now a private subsidiary company. I'm not sure what exactly that means. I did not find information of the founders leaving with tens of millions. However, Wikipedia said that this arrangement allowed Amazon to advertise and the income was enough to pay the shareholders salaries.
IMDb also offers a list of the Top 250 movies. I have to mention that right now the Shawshank Redemption is at the top of the list so I agree with it. One list that has all of the best movies as rated by their users and when most of the top movies have hundreds of thousands of movies I think they have a fairly good sample size. So the next time you want to watch a movie that is good that you haven't seen go to the list and find one that you haven't seen.
What they could improve: I am not sure that they do this yet but I would like them to list music videos, commercials, and what would be really cool, if they started to list YouTube stuff and other internet videos. Anybody with a camera and a computer can go out and make a movie and post it on the internet and I can see a time, if we aren't there already, when independent film makers will be getting millions of views a week on their various projects and somehow make a living from that kind of publicity. I can imagine a whole sub-industry of internet movie makers, actors, producers, editors, that easily have the skills to go to something full length but with no desire to make that kind of thing.
Monday, May 24, 2010
It's Not Rocket Science: Week 7
usual after sending emails and making a phone call I have not heard
back. I plan to do a lot more bugging people to get a job on these
leads. I just feel akward pursuing some of these jobs so much because
I don't know much about them. I mean my qualifications won't change
because I sent you seven emails and three voicemails. Maybe this is
idealism but I do not want someone to give me a job because I begged
them. I want to get a job because I would be good at it.
Running I think I was in the high 60s for mileage with that nice long
run. It's a start.
I had the opportunity to see a few of my friends from highschool and
Philmont this week. Both were a good experience. One of my friends
spent September 2008 to April 2010 bicycling from Vancouver to Tierra
del Fuego. Pretty crazy. Anyway he is living in Boulder so we hung
out. He also just bought a tandem bicycle and we rode it around a bit.
It is quite fun. Another one of those tiny life dreams done.
Thursday I showed up to teach Boy Scout National Camping school and
proceeded to spend three hours using a jackhammer on a rock that was
in the way. Another little dream on the "done" list. Although in hind
sight why anyone would want to run a 70 pound jackhammer is beyond me.
One final quote for the guy who spent 13 years going around the world
on human power about how it's been since he's been back, "I feel like
I don't have a home. Everyone I know from London has moved away. I
find I am just not interested in the things that everyone else is
And a quote from my friend about people who have spent 30+ years just
traveling the world, "they are so detached. They can't really relate."
Sent from my iPhone
Friday, May 21, 2010
What I Think when I am Enduring
we had done since we had seen each other. Several of those things
involved me pushing on when others were not. My friend said, "You are
endurance. What do you think when you are doing this stuff?" It is a
good question. One that I don't remember anyone else ever asking, or
at least asking the way he did in the context of a double marathon.
I thought about that most of the way across Kansas. My conclusion is
first of all that I don't know what other people think. Second, it is
a challenge and an experience so I usually ask myself the question,
"can I do it?" instead of dwelling on the possibilty of failure I
dwell on the possibilty of success. I think I can do it but I don't
know until I try.
Also, and not to sound cliche but by just worrying about taking one
more step makes it seem smaller. Of course your mind has to be working
pretty fast to think about taking one more step, looking where you
will put your foot, moving that foot, then again considering the
possibilty that you can take one more step. While I am running this
happens about 190 times per minute so there is not much time to doubt
my ability to take the next step. Most of the time is spent thinking
where I will place my foot or doing thinking not related to ending the
As an example on my double marathon it was easier the first 45 miles
because one of my friends was still running. At 50 miles my friends
cheered me on and I was super happy and motivated. At 51 miles I was
in tears because I was so sore and tired. However, the goal was so
close that I just had to keep stepping and I thought I would get
there. I finally did.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
More Scary than Fun
Within the whole mountaineering/climbing realm there is a lot of fear. People who say they are not afraid of heights are lying or they really are crazy. Everyone is a little afraid. It's that fear that keeps people safe. It's that fear that gives us an adrenaline rush and keeps us coming back. A lot of people are addicted to this sport because of the fear.
However, everyone has a limit. Now for many people that limit is not yet realized and/or beyond the limit of everyone else in the world in his or her particular endeavor. Most people know they have crossed the limit when it becomes more scary than fun. That person does not enjoy the experience at all and can even be paralyzed by fear.
The saying is, "it doesn't have to be fun to be fun." Many of the best memories are made when some amount of suffering is happening. Many of my favorite days in the mountains are the days when I spent a lot of time afraid, cold, wet, hungry, tired, and wondering if I could actually finish what I set out to do.
In the outdoors I listen to my gut instinct. Many times I have turned around for the reason of me just not feeling comfortable with what I would have to do next. It is the point when the next step is scary and the perceived risk is higher than the potential reward. Fear is a nice thing to have in small amounts every now and then but there is a limit. There is a limit where life is more scary than fun. Turn around my friend and pick a new route.
Monday, May 17, 2010
It's Not Rocket Science: Week 6
Wednesday I left the Land of 10,000 Lakes for the land of 15,000 lakes known as Wisconsin. I spent the remainder of the week doing the usual for being home. I caught up on emails, slept, ate, ran, watched a few movies, painted three paintings, laundry, and spent more time with my family.
Speaking of spending time with my family, growing up is educational. As I get older my relatives relate more stories of their past to me. As my sister and I get older we learn things about the world that really is not taught in the class room. Occasionally we learn something and our reaction is, "Am I really that stupid?" or "Why did it take me so long to understand this?"
My running took a turn for the better. My lower mileage of the past few weeks rested me sufficiently so that I have started my build up for my fall marathon. I'll be talking about this later. Anyway I'm still in quite good shape so that I have to hold myself back on my runs. Sunday the 16th (not technically the week in review) I had a 15 mile run at 6:59 per mile pace. I have not had a run that good in a month. More importantly, when I am working on building my weekly mileage I always run somewhat slower than I do once I reach peak mileage. While that particular long run does not even rank on the top ten most quality longs runs I have ever had it is strong for the time of year it is. We'll see how I progress but this is a very positive sign.
I applied for six jobs this week. More importantly I started reading "What Color is Your Parachute?" I will most likely be "applying" for less jobs but applying myself more to jobs that I do apply for. I'll put out a book review when I am done. This is a book that many people might gain from.
It's not rocket science, it's harder. They call it life.
My sister requested that I make a few paintings representative of the places she has lived. So here are two of my paintings for your enjoyment:
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Freedom from Information
There is so much information in the world. I believe that no human in the world can even comprehend how much information there is in this world. This blog has always been my attempt to contribute to the information in the world. Wether that was engineering help or running or just social musings. It's my website and I've done that.
People sometimes complain of too much information. Usually it is in regards to something personal, private, or otherwise disgusting. I think this peaks in the teen years when kids are competing for the best story and ultimately attention from their peers. That is another whole topic. I used to think this was a phase that people would grow out of but interacting with people twice my age I'm not so sure any more.
In all of my travels I have been extraordinarily fortunate to experience a lack of new information. What I mean is that I have spent six consecutive weeks without the internet and only sporadic emails. I've spent three months without a tv. I've spent three weeks with no form of audio communication besides my voice. I've driven 17 hours alone multiple times without a radio or other music player. I have taken this experience into my day to day life and learned how to shut off the noise.
I'm not sure if this is a new phenomenon or something that has been around awhile. The concept of trying to absorb more information than one person can handle. What does this mean? I rarely run while listening to music any more. I more or less quit reading the news or listening or watching it for that matter. People get really offended when I say that I quit reading the news. How is it possible for me to survive, you ask? Easy, if it's that important everyone will be talking about it. Second, some news stories I search out such as the running and mountaineering and aerospace news. Did you know Black Diamond Equipment and Gregory were bought out this week by a company in Connecticut? Third, the evening news is depressing. I don't care to hear about the newest government corruption scandal or murders or gang activity. How does hearing about two people getting killed in a shooting enhance my life?
60-80% of my emails I do not read more than the subject line. Now much of that is related to the workouts for this week for the track team at WPI or the latest biomedical thesis defense at WPI or the weekly sale at some company. Then the emails that I do read are along the lines of "your statement is now available", "your bill is now available", "you are no longer under consideration for for this position", or "jobs matching your preferences" (inevitably software engineer or administrative assistant because I am trying to keep my options open).
I consume information with the best of them. I love learning. I like gathering knowledge. It would be nice to know 1% of Wikipedia. However, I can not consume or produce information all of the time. I enjoy running because it is some of the rare time for me to digest what I have learned and figure out how I will move part of that on to others. On most runs there are no complex concepts to try and learn. There are memories to make. There is my mind to focus and clear of distractions.
Life, at least my life, needs a mix. My RAM only works so fast, there are limits to how much and how quick I can take it in. I learned recently that the turnover rate for nurses is four years. They average getting burnt out in four years. Everyone needs a sustainable mental draining and mental recharging cycle.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Is your workout effective? Part 2: Aerobic workouts
- Improve the pace that you can run without continuously accumulating lactic. This is accomplished through tempos slightly slower than the anaerobic threshold or lactate threshold. That is paces at or slightly slower than the pace you can maintain for one hour. The 20 minute tempo is basically the golden standard for this training goal. It is run at a pace slightly slower than the pace you can maintain for one hour, which for more competitive runners is about half marathon pace. These workouts should be uncomfortable but very manageable. A few minutes after the workout is done you should feel about as good as you did before you started.
- Improve the ability to burn fat instead of carbohydrates. This is more important for marathoners and ultra runners. This is accomplished by running for a long time usually 2+ hours, running for about 1.5 hours at a faster pace, or running an easy pace for a long time 1-2 hours then running at a faster pace (such as marathon pace) for 20-40 minutes. These are the workouts where your whole body gets tired. You just want to sleep afterward and you feel as mentally tired as physically tired.
- Increase your running efficiency. That is reduce the number of calories it takes to cover one mile. This is something is not greatly understood, but in general it seems that the more time you spend running the more efficient you become. When you get to mile 23 in a marathon your efficiency will make a huge difference. These workouts are every single run you do. From those three mile jogs barely faster than a walk to everything else.
A few numbers from Joe Vigil's book: the 10k is 90% aerobic and 10% anaerobic and the 5k is 80% aerobic and 20% anaerobic. So when considering what type of training to help you improve in your desired event, I would recommend that anything around 4 minutes or longer focuses on aerobic training over the course of a season. Which is to say for the six month long season that contains only six weeks of racing the majority of the workouts would ideally be aerobic. Considering a runner running seven times a week and doing two or three anaerobic workouts a week fits within the idea of mostly aerobic running.
Monday, May 10, 2010
It's Not Rocket Science: Week 5
The thing about physical work is that there are two types of fatigue, at least in my opinion. The first is the immediate short term fatigue. Go on a 20 mile run and you'll be tired for the rest of the day and probably the next day or week. The second is a long term fatigue. That is when you have done something day after day for a long time and your daily rhythm rides the balance of sustainable and burn-out. Anyway that's fodder for a whole other post.
I ran a nine month weekly mileage low of 35 miles over six days. I have decided that my sickness set me back too far to have any half decent race this spring so I'm planning a couple of races for this summer and a marathon this fall. Instead of take two weeks off, as I had planned, I have decided to just take a few weeks easy and do no quality running but keep running every day. Then I can begin my build up for a fall marathon sooner and from a greater state of fitness. Given that I took so much time off in the first seven months of 2009 I should still be able to continue until October without a problem.
I applied for four jobs with my new resume, which is actually not yet updated under "Resume". Between work, running, and eating the little bit of time I had on the internet this week wasn't dedicated to updating my website. I don't know what my career holds. I was told this week about a person that planed out her life so much that she is now on heavy antidepressant medication. (So while this may sound ridiculous, I plan to plan the details of my life a little less. Everything always seems to work out as long as I keep plugging away.)
The future of access to this website: I don't know. I have been told by members of the current employing generation, with employing capabilities, that the content of this website will only serve to not get me an interview and subsequently not hired. Then on the poll that was open for most of a week, not a single person voted to get password protection or take it off the internet. I have taken it off search engines, or at least my preferences say I have. I don't know what the future holds, even for a website I control.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Is your workout effective? Part 1: Anaerobic Workouts
- Teach your body to accumulate lactic acid and flush it out so that you can maintain a fast pace longer by flushing more of the lactic acid out as it comes in. This is accomplished running intervals and repetitions where it is usually possible to run farther than the race distance at race pace. For example 6 x 1000 meters at 5k pace.
- Teach your body to use as much aerobic respiration as possible so that there is less accumulation of lactic acid. This is accomplished through long repetitions or short tempos. For example a 5k tempo at 10k pace. Every distance event from the 1500 meters on up is mostly aerobic.
The feelings that should occur during these workouts are something along the lines of very heavy legs, hard breathing, and a generally unsustainable feeling of running. Anaerobic workouts are like a slow sprint that keeps going. It starts out feeling awesome to run as fast you are running. However it soon enough becomes a difficult endeavor. The fun wears off as breathing becomes harder and your legs get heavy. The workout has accomplished it's goal when so much lactic acid has accumulated in the legs that it can not be flushed out in a reasonable time. For example, if the workout is 400 meters hard and 200 meters jog repeated, the first few will feel easy, then several will go by with a sort of glaze without talking or much thinking, then near the end the last 50-100 meters of the 400s will feel harder. The last 400 of the workout ends with the legs more heavy than any of the previous 400s. However, the actual time of the 400 may range from the fastest of the session to the slowest by a few seconds.
The workout should not be extended to the point where the pace is more than 5% slower than desired. In fact, any more than 2% slow, excepting for weather and other conditions, is cause for concern. Sometimes a workout needs to end early when the paces are just not being hit. Stress, lack of sleep, and other emotional factors can greatly affect running.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Last week I went to the doctor again. I had a stressful few hours and that night has the same back pain that I had a month ago. It was not as intense but the same thing in the same place. I went to the local Mayo Clinic less than two miles away and the doctor there could not find anything wrong with me. He said that I might also have kidney stones. Well, for kidney stones the pain is rather bearable.
One of the things that neither doctor has been able to explain was the gurgling noise when I breathe when I lay down or sometimes when I exercise hard. So as I often do I sifted through a small pile of internet research. My diagnosis: I happened to get a cold and get so stressed out the same week that the back and shoulder pains were due probably mostly to the stress and the lung thing was due to the cold, but magnified by the stress. Finally, it made sense that it hurt more when I was laying down because that meant I wasn't at my computer working. Sleeping for me is a temporary concession that life is good enough to wait a few hours before I do more. So when I became so stressed out my mind and body said you should not be sleeping you should be trying to get an income.
I get colds all of the time. Runner's World once said that people who run 60 miles per week or more are more than twice as likely to get a cold as those that run less than 20 miles per week. How that applies to 100 miles a week above 7000 feet in March when it's a little cold outside I'm not sure except to expect a little coughing, all the time.
The gurgling was back strong as ever Tuesday morning and night. I just don't understand that. Is a virus attacking me? Is it some sort of asthma complication? I am still very stressed out and that is causing this problem? Is the combination of physical labor and running every day just too much for me to heal?
I have a huge amount of confidence about what a human body can recover from. I also am very aware of what the mind can do. We can push our bodies over the limit and fall over dead. That's part of the reason the marathon is so popular in the first place. The first guy to do it died.
One final note about health is a story from a relative. My relative was having breathing trouble and trouble walking up the stairs and the doctors did some tests and could not figure it out. My relative insisted that they find the problem. So they performed an echogram, I believe, and found a heart tumor. She was rushed to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and they took it out. It just makes me wonder what they aren't finding or don't know about me.
Monday, May 3, 2010
It's Not Rocket Science: Week 4
I worked a whole bunch of hours. Saturday had 230+ customers in addition to the usual watering, spacing and filling a truck. Thursday we filled five trucks. Filling trucks is about the most physically intensive thing I do at the green house. It involves lots of walking and carrying things. Each truck is probably over a mile of walking for each person that helps. Half of that mile carrying flats of plants or hanging baskets. It is constant too. In most cases moving plants or other jobs after a few trips there is a few minutes of lull. Filling trucks is quick and intensive.
Money, money, money, money. With my next paycheck (today) I'll be in the black on everything. That is to say I'll be able to pay at least a dollar more than the minimum payment on everything and pay my cell phone bill. I am living rent free right now and will be this summer, which is a huge help. The pay is less but just thinking about where I will live this summer it is more than justified. I feel that I will probably be a millionaire some day and that the relative little that I am in debt now will be an experience I smile at. In fact, in the last four weeks I have not spent any of my money. I bought one song on iTunes from a gift card I had from Christmas but besides that I have only paid my bills. A new life stage for me? No coffee, books, shoes, clothing, gear, food, and whatever else I spend my money on. Elimination of the excess in my life. I like this trend.
I finished the personal application (contacting a specific person) and official application for the position I talked about last week. Besides that I didn't apply for any more jobs. One of the companies I would like to work for just landed a huge overseas contract and is hiring. That is this week's job hunting goal.
I laid out some basic pencil sketches of two non-safety products, an ultralight tent and some mittens for running, which I might purchase the fabric for and try to make prototypes as soon as possible so that I can test them this summer. So Janzen Gear... I don't know. I just can't turn my brain off. I mean I checked the Cilogear website and blog for the first time in six weeks and then Golite and then I went to Tarp-Tent and Gossamer Gear. Next thing you know I'm not listening to the conversation around me as I try to create the lightest tent in the world. Well, I've designed it now I just need to make a prototype. Condensation will be a problem and durability but we're talking on the order of a pound for a two man tent and less than two pounds for a free standing two man tent. Unfortunately the material costs $30 a yard and needs special tape instead of stitching. The mittens are fairly simple. Like I said, I can't turn my brain off.
I ran every day this week. That makes it every day in April to make up for two day off in March that's seven days off of running in seven months. A lot of triple bogey sort of days, but four miles is four miles closer to the olympic trials than a day off. Two tempos this week both about C level.
I went to the Mayo Clinic Monday to see what was wrong with me. Again no clear problem, but it could be kidney stones. However, I just decided on my own diagnosis. I'll write about it later this week. I have most of the article already written.
In short, on a percentage scale of how my life is going, taking into consideration the stories I have heard from Africa and Asia I'd rate my life about 87%. I mean I'm aiming for 100% but just getting into the upper 90s would be nice until I have paid my personal debt and helped out those who have helped me and then I can take those risks to get the last few percent.