I need to improve my drawing skills enough to draw a recognizable raccoon and opossum. I will then do a series of comics in which brave opossums hold off the raccoon threat, with the help of an occasional hedgehog, sloth, and slug.
Edited to add: And a box turtle. Box turtles are also on the side of right and good.
If the U.S. government was to be redesigned from scratch, it's probable that the Department of Justice would be part of the branch responsible for...justice. But, because the Founding Parents did not spell things out, that department ended up under the auspices of the executive branch. Consequently, if the president breaks the law, the folks responsible for dealing with it are people who work for him. Oops. In order to deal with this quirk in the system, a number of customs have established themselves over time. Among the most significant is that the president generally plays no role in the hiring of U.S. attorneys, so that there are no questions about their independence and their integrity. Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump has decided to flip the script, and is personally interviewing candidates for some postings.Click here for full story
This week was exhausting for both Exile #1 and myself, albeit in different ways. While Exile #1 spent long hours on his feet, representing his company, hob-nobbing with celebrities, company mascots and cart horses, I held down the fort at home, taxi driving every which way and raking like my life depended on it (fortunately, it didn’t because now it looks like I was never there).
One of the jobs I did while Exile #1 was away, was to head over to the hardware store for a replacement for our garbage disposal which, having sounded like a chainsaw for a while, finally decided it could Insinkerate no more. The YouTube videos I found made the process of replacement look simple enough for non experts to attempt. As we soon discovered, however, the videos omitted the awkwardness of unwedging a unit that had been in place for some time, and more significantly, the difficulties of dealing with “idiosyncratic” under-sink plumbing. As predicted, another trip to the hardware store was required to find some appropriate pipework, but I’m pleased to say that Exile #1 came up with a fix, and we once again have a terrifying piece of kitchen equipment in our plughole.
Maybe "Trump Twitter Tornado" (TTT) will soon be a widely-used abbreviation, so that we can easily describe days like yesterday, when Donald Trump hits Twitter so hard that his phone risks overheating. It's almost always Saturdays that it happens; Trump has then generally escaped the confines of the White House, and is prepping for a weekend of golf and whatever else he does at Mar-a-Lago or Bedminster. It's not every Saturday, though. What triggered this week's barrage is anyone's guess. Frustration over the Niger mess? Boredom? Less supervision from Chief of Staff John Kelly? Poor stress management? Something else? Could be any or all of the above.Click here for full story
We also checked out the rest of the festival - costumes, a game from a new Krispy Kreme that just opened in town involving speed-eating donuts hanging from strings, our last Elementary School pumpkin (from E5N1's class) and the surprising sight of a tortoise walking through the crowds:
We fortified ourselves midway with a drink and a slice of cake at The Rugged Spruce (Exile #2's favourite of the recently opened cafes) and then headed home to get another job done (more on that another time!)
But given that my main objective is always to get to the start line healthy, I had to sacrifice half of this week to Achilles tendonitis. After Sunday's 30-minute recovery jog, I took Monday off as an unscheduled rest day. My Achilles ached for most of the day, even at rest. I was extremely relieved when I woke up on Tuesday morning and it had improved substantially. However, I didn't want to test my luck so I gave myself another unscheduled rest day.
I was checking in with my coach daily and letting him know how everything felt. On Wednesday morning, I woke up to an email from him that advised me to take yet another rest day. I was disappointed, but I didn't question his guidance. One of the main benefits of having a coach is that I don't have to make these decisions for myself-- I simply defer to his expertise. The Achilles had improved even more by Wednesday morning, but I still felt hints of it here and there. I also went to my sports chiropractor and a podiatrist on Wednesday. Both said it was okay for me to continue training and to run the marathon. My biggest fear was that it would rupture and I was assured that a rupture would not occur from distance running. They both agreed that it wouldn't clear up 100% until I really backed off the training, which will happen post-race.
My coach also cleared me to run on Thursday. But instead of rushing to do a hard workout, he advised me to run easy and then if it felt okay I could do a hard workout on Friday. I thought this made total sense. I would test the waters with an easy run (70 minutes) and only perform the fast workout on Friday if everything felt good.
Ironically, after I ran on Thursday morning my Achilles felt better than they had all week! I guess the run must have loosened them up and got the blood flowing. I was completely pain free during the run and after the run. And for the rest of the day I could barely feel anything at all! Even though it was hard to sacrifice three days of training, I knew I had made the right decision. I don't think that I lost any fitness, but I also didn't have the opportunity to make a final gain, which I'm okay with.
Finally, on Friday, I did the workout that was originally scheduled for Tuesday. And I had been itching to do this workout for weeks! I was excited that my coach put something on my schedule that I had never done before. And this would be my first workout in cool weather that could provide some indication of my fitness level. Of course, I would be nice and fresh for it, not having run hard since the 22-miler 6 days prior.
The workout was 3 times 3 miles at half marathon pace, with 4-minute recovery jogs in between. I don't really know what my half marathon pace is right now, but I made an educated guess of a 7:00/mile. I decided I would aim for that, starting off a little slower just in case I was being too ambitious. And that I would also run by feel, allowing myself to go faster if it felt okay. I warmed up for a little over two miles and started the workout. I can't even begin to say how amazing it felt to be running in cooler (50-degree) weather!
My first three miles were 7:10, 7:04, 6:52. They felt comfortable, and I knew I had hit the right effort level because I jogged my recovery at a pace of 9:06. If it had been really hard, I would have needed to jog my recovery closer to 10:30, like I do during track intervals.
|Friday, October 20th|
My did my 4-minute recovery jog at a pace of 9:19, and was ready to hammer it home. My splits were 7:04, 6:59, 6:56. I was so excited! I felt so strong and fast, and the workout didn't take as much out of me as some of the other ones this cycle. For example, I found the 20 x 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy + 20 x 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy to be much more challenging. With this half marathon pace workout, I settled in, cruised my way through it and felt awesome. Including warm up and cool down, my total mileage for the run was 13.
My average pace for the 9 miles was 7:00 and if you included the recovery jogs, I ran a total of 9.9 miles at an average pace of 7:11, which is faster than my Army Ten Miler pace! Cool weather makes a big difference. Thankfully, the Achilles did not flare up after the run and I continued to feel good throughout the day.
Lesson learned: listening to your body actually works! And so does listening to your coach. I'm glad I played it safe and gave my Achilles tendons the time they needed to calm down.
This morning I ran 7.8 miles at an easy pace and everything still felt great. The fact that my legs had pep and didn't at all feel achy from the workout was also encouraging. Even still, my coach wants me to have two days of easy running between the half marathon pace run and my next long run, so I will be doing that on Monday morning before work. It's going to be dark, warmer and rushed afterwards, but at least I'm not injured! In my last training cycle, I ran 20 miles two weekends out from the race. During the training cycle before that I ran 23 miles two weekends out. This training cycle I will only be running 16, but it is what it is. I know that one long (or shorter-than-long) run doesn't make or break a cycle.
I've worked hard this training cycle, although it's been frustrating because of the weather. As soon as it became consistently cool, I had to take three days off due to this injury. I haven't had weekly doses of confidence-boosting runs like I have in previous cycles, but I've had two solid workouts (including the one above) that have indicated that I am in the best shape of my life. The Army Ten Miler was a confidence booster in terms of execution, so a combination of race execution and fitness should lead to great things on November 4th.
|Training Cycle Snapshot|
In his relatively brief time as White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly has endeavored to establish himself as a font of integrity in an administration where that virtue is not always to be found. He's stayed out of, and above, the fray on numerous issues where he might have been drawn in. Several times, he seemed to signal that his duty was to the nation rather than the President, and that there were some places that Donald Trump might go that he would not follow. But now, so much for that.Click here for full story
It's safe to say that this was a trade show experience unlike any other I've had. In part this was due to my role at the booth, but there were other things too. CeeLo Green was there as were the Monster Energy Girls, the Energizer Bunny and the M&Ms. As I sat at the booth waiting for the show to open, the Budweiser Clydesdales were walked through the show between the working car washes and hot-dog roller grills.
Anyway it was a fun and somewhat bewildering experience, but I'm very happy to be home.
I gave a quick talk about “The Joy of Making It Small” at Ignite Boulder last month (video):
If you have had a shitty week, or even a not-shitty week, please let Ludacris put a smile on your face with this freestyle of the children’s book “Llama Llama Red Pajama.”
Our friends at Feral Mountain Co. are putting together a cool Basecamp Journal. You can pre-order one via IndieGoGo here.
I recommend this album for the rest of your day in the office.
“There is growing concern that as well as addicting users, technology is contributing toward so-called ‘continuous partial attention,’ severely limiting people’s ability to focus, and possibly lowering IQ. One recent study showed that the mere presence of smartphones damages cognitive capacity – even when the device is turned off.”
Some revelations in an interview with the woman behind the hilarious YouDidNotSleepThere Instagram account.
“Just don’t read the comments because nothing good can come out of it,” he says. “Have you ever had someone say, ‘I read the greatest review of your book,’ or ‘the most glowing review of your movie,’ and you read it and you say, ‘That’s not a glowing review. This guy takes cheap shots left and right and he didn’t get the point.’ Look, I’m 61. I don’t have time to read about how bad or how good I was at something. Just let it sit out there and they have to deal with the fact that I’m the famous guy who got my name in the paper.”
Two former presidents emerged from their post-presidential seclusion on Thursday, with George W. Bush delivering an address in New York City, and Barack Obama doing the same in Virginia and New Jersey. Though neither used any names, both leveled criticisms that were clearly aimed at their successor in the White House. The things they had to say were so similar, it is sometimes hard to tell which ex-president is which:Click here for full story
Earlier this year, my book The Great Outdoors: A User’s Guide came out, representing about 12 years’ worth of poking around in the out-of-doors—climbing, backpacking, hiking, skiing, trail running, mountain biking, bike touring, and just about everything else. I haven’t climbed Everest, but I’ve survived a few hundred days of all those other activities, and a few hundred nights sleeping under the stars. And if memory serves, I think I’m still friends with 100% of the people I did those things with. So I put together a list of tips and ideas that I think will help you 1) stay alive and 2) not piss off your friends.
1. Get your priorities in order.
In any adventure, be it a five-mile hike or a multi-day climb, this is my list of goals, in numerical order:
1. Don’t die
2. Have fun
3. Get to the summit/campsite/lunch spot/waterfall/whatever
Prior to his attempt on K2 in 1995, American climber Rob Slater famously told a climbing magazine, “Summit or die, either way I win.” He summited, but died on the descent with five other climbers when weather conditions abruptly changed. To each his/her own, but if I were to adapt Slater’s quote to reflect my own ideals, it would be something more like: “Summit or live another several years to eat deep-dish pizza, either way I win.”
2. Avoid Failing To Plan
If I learned one thing from my climbing mentor Lee, it was this: If we say we’re meeting at 5 a.m., be there at 4:30 a.m. with all your stuff packed so we can start doing whatever it is we’re supposed to be doing that day. Not: show up at 4:45, spend 15 minutes rooting around my car trying to find all my gear, fill up water bottles, change shoes, take a dump for 10 minutes, and then realize I don’t have my headlamp.
I mean, do you like waiting? Me neither. That’s why I always appreciate people who have their shit together, like Lee. And I strive to be one of those people.
Here’s one addition to this point: I know I am very, very stupid in the early morning. So I pack the night before. I put all my stuff in my backpack, and I lean the backpack against my front door, because then there’s no way I’ll forget anything—the rope, my climbing shoes, the entire backpack (which I’m not saying has happened, but could). Being an idiot is one thing—figuring out how to prevent yourself from doing idiotic things is another. Signed, a guy who has definitely shown up for a day of climbing without the rope, and another day with mismatched shoes.
3. Avoid Just Hoping Someone Will Find You
If you don’t know Aron Ralston’s story, here’s the short version: He went canyoneering by himself in 2003, got his arm trapped behind a boulder, spent 127 hours trying to figure out what to do, and then cut the arm off with a dull knock-off multitool. Plenty of people who haven’t survived 127 hours alone in a slot canyon with their arm trapped under a rock can tell you all the things Aron Ralston did or didn’t do correctly, but all that Monday morning quarterbacking aside, I think we can all learn one thing from his survival story: Always tell at least one person where you’re going and what to do if you don’t come back on time.
Ralston likely survived that misadventure because of two things, one being he’s enough of a badass to cut off his own arm, and two being that his mother hacked into his email account to try to figure out where he was after she hadn’t heard from him for several days. Nothing against my mom’s computer skills, but I’m not counting on her to guess my password if I’m out stranded with a broken leg somewhere for a week. Instead, I tell someone where I’m going, when I will get back to civilization and text them that I’m OK, and who to call if I don’t. Pretty simple, and way easier than hanging out in a freezing slot canyon for five and a half days and then cutting off your own arm.
4. Avoid Spending The Night Outside Freezing
I have a little stuff sack I throw in my backpack whenever I go anywhere, backpacking, hiking, climbing, skiing, whatever. It has a space blanket and a headlamp in it. The headlamp is so I can find my way back to the trailhead if it gets dark, and the space blanket is so I can survive a night outside if I can’t get back to the trailhead. The headlamp weighs three ounces, and the space blanket weighs three ounces. That’s a pretty good insurance policy for something that weighs about as much as two Clif Bars.
An Alaskan guide told me once that the best place to pack extra batteries for a headlamp is in a second headlamp, so if I’m on a multi-day trip, I often do that. If I’m only going out for one day, I figure my iPhone has a flashlight on it, so that will probably work if my headlamp dies.
5. Avoid Getting Lost
In the olden days, just as I was starting to get into the mountains, you had to carry a paper map with you to know where you were going. Often times, you had to figure out where to get USGS quad maps, and order as many as four of them to get the right terrain. Nowadays, like a lot of things, it’s much easier. Maps are online, and there are a billion tools you can use to get ahold of the correct one. I still love paper maps, because the battery never dies, the screen never cracks, and there’s zero software that has to function correctly in order for them to work. Also, I don’t need cell service to use one. So if I’m going on a trip somewhere I’m not familiar with, I get a map for that area and go over it before I leave.
In addition to that, I carry a lightweight compass (yes, your phone has one, but again, phones break/die/don’t work correctly sometimes), which is handy for figuring out where to go and usually doesn’t need to be super-fancy in order for you to orient your map correctly.
And: I take my phone with me. There are several GPS apps you can use for navigation, including Gaia GPS and ViewRanger, and those are very useful for off-trail navigation, or just turning on your phone to see where you are on a map in relation to the terrain—you’re the little orange arrow on the north side of the lake, or little blue dot on the east side of the peak, or whatever. Note that most of the time you’ll have to download the appropriate maps before heading into an area where you won’t have cell service.
6. Avoid Not Being Able To MacGuyver It
We love to say duct tape fixes everything, which is almost true. Duct tape will usually not fix a flat on your mountain bike when you’re six miles from the trailhead, for example. But it will work to prevent blisters from ruining your life, or temporarily patch a hole in your rain fly, or hold the sole on your hiking boot for a few miles. But you should carry some other stuff too, dependent on your sport/situation.
You don’t need to haul a box of tools and a bunch of repair stuff everywhere you go, but a few things can save the day when your gear breaks down. I generally have a few items I swap in and out of a stuff sack that goes in my pack whenever I’m out a few miles from a trailhead. Including, but not limited to:
- Duct tape (obviously)
- Single-serving super glue tubes (great for cuts as well as other minor repairs)
- Zip ties (for bike cables)
- Ski straps
- Baling wire (minor repairs to tents, snowshoes, other stuff)
- Cord and safety pins
- Needle and thread (if you stay at a nice hotel, swipe the sewing kit from the toiletries)
- All-purpose patch kit for clothing/tents
- Multi-tool (doesn’t have to be mega-fancy; I rarely find myself opening wine or sawing tree branches with a multitool in the backcountry, but your needs may be a little different)
7. Avoid Lightning
This one may seem pretty obvious, but I bet anyone who’s spent a significant amount of time in the mountains can tell you at least one story about a time they were way too close to a thunderstorm (myself included). You don’t have to be a meteorologist to figure this one out: Small clouds are OK, but when clouds start to build and get taller, a storm could be brewing. Or basically in Colorado every summer day, it’s going to thunderstorm in the afternoon sometime.
What should you do? Get somewhere where you’re not the tallest thing. i.e., don’t be on top of a mountain, or on the side of a mountain above treeline. Get to lower altitude, in tree cover. If you can’t and a storm comes in, your last resort is to get far away from anything metal you’re carrying, drop your backpack, stand on your backpack (so your feet aren’t in contact with the ground), and then crouch down and hug your knees. You probably won’t feel safe, but it’s the best you can do—that’s why it’s called a “last resort.”
8. Avoid Critter Encounters
Unless you’re a tourist driving around Yellowstone, you probably recognize that animals that weigh more than 300 pounds are dangerous and not something you should approach as if they are Minnie Mouse at Disney World. This is good policy. In addition to having physical implements and skills that can slash or smash you to death, pretty much every piece of megafauna in the mountains can run way faster than Usain Bolt, so the safest place to be when viewing a bear, elk, moose, bison, or other large animal is about the length of one American football field.
Don’t feed squirrels, don’t try to get a closer look at a mountain goat or bighorn sheep, and if you see a rattlesnake in the trail, get the fuck away from it. Forty percent of rattlesnake bites happen to people who have a blood alcohol content of .10 or higher (surprise), and forty percent of rattlesnake bites happen to people who are handling the snake at the time of the bite (no shit). If you’re in an area where rattlesnakes are active, be aware, and don’t haul ass down overgrown trails without taking a look under the brush at the edges of the trail (use trekking poles).
Also be aware of how much an animal getting into your food can ruin your day. Squirrels in popular climbing and hiking areas can unzip zippers, chew through backpacks and wrappers, and when they do, they’ll probably eat bites of all your food before leaving. Keep them out of your stuff with screw-top plastic containers, which, although bulky, keep your PB&J free of hantavirus.
9. Avoid Ending Friendships Out There
If you communicate expectations, have your shit reasonably together, and in general don’t create drama amongst your peer group, you’ll probably be OK with this. Sometimes people have different goals (see previously mentioned “summit or die” quote vs. my “summit or live” idea), and this can produce friction. If you can avoid being a jerk to your friends and adventure partners for the duration of your hike/trip, you can stay friends. If your friend doesn’t have that laser focus on finishing the climb or staying out all day skiing in nasty weather, don’t sacrifice the friendship for some contrived adventure goal. One day, you might find yourself thinking, “I really wish someone would go to the new Wes Anderson movie with me, but I was such a dick to Jeff/Jen when we were skiing, I can’t ask him/her now.”
10. Don’t Be Afraid To Bail
If you always summit, always finish the climb, always have a great day out skiing, and never get shut down, well, please call me, because you apparently have the best luck ever. The fact is, if you spend enough time trying to do things in the outdoors, you’re going to fail sometimes. You will have to sit in a tent for a day or two in a rainstorm instead of finishing the big loop backpack you wanted to do, you’ll have to rappel off three pitches shy of the top, you’ll have to abandon a day of skiing because of bad avalanche conditions. Sometimes it’s OK to realize that going would suck way more than not going. One time a few years ago, my friend Mitsu and I arrived at the Lumpy Ridge parking lot for a day of climbing, and found ourselves getting pushed around by 35 mph wind gusts. I said I thought the route we were doing was still probably OK, although the rappel might be a pain in the ass in the wind. Mitsu said, “I’m not worried about it being dangerous. I’m worried about it being not fun.” And we drove into town and got coffee instead, which was both fun and not dangerous.
Dead American soldiers are one of the saddest parts of the president's job. When it happens, however, the playbook is pretty straightforward—issue a statement honoring the dead, perhaps, and then maybe contact their families via letter or phone. Invitations to a ceremony at the White House are sometimes proffered. Whatever the Commander in Chief does, the key idea is "solemn respect." It's not terribly complicated. Well, not unless you are Donald Trump, it would seem. He has managed to botch his handling of the recent deaths of four soldiers in Niger so badly that he has created not one, not two, but three different headaches for himself and his administration.Click here for full story
Beware of those judges on an island out in the ocean. Hours before the third version of President Donald Trump's Muslim travel ban was set to go into effect, Judge Derrick Watson—the same fellow who granted the first injunction against travel ban v2.0—ruled that he would stay the new ban. In his 40-page explanation, Watson found that v3.0 "plainly discriminates based on nationality" and "suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor."Click here for full story