Friday, August 27, 2010

History of Everything - Thoughts on Aliens of lack thereof / law school reading / necessary breaks and I love GPS tracking

Many times I think about outer space and “out there” and I feel that we can’t be alone.  I feel that there has to be some life outside of this planet.  After finishing “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson I am not so sure about that feeling.  My argument was always that it was selfish to consider that we are it, that there may be at least some lesser life out there somewhere.  The fact that we are even here is so amazing and unique that it would have been impossible to just conceive.  The probabilities of humans even being here is based on a series of catastrophes for other species and blind luck for us.  I am not going to go into the science of it, but we really lucked out because our ancestors were not even the fastest, strongest or even smartest.  (Neanderthals had bigger brains that Homo erectus).  The point is that fortune, providence, fate….whatever helped us get here.  And we are able to contemplate it and appreciate it if we simply took the time.  Forgetting the alien question; what if we are it?  What if all life in the universe is our little planet?  We really treat it terribly.  We dirty the oceans, Google: “great pacific garbage patch” and the resulting info of a trash vortex the size estimates ranging from the size of Texas to the Continental US.  This should shock you, and moreover the fact you probably have never heard of it should shock you even more!  I think if we all took time to consider that we may be all life remaining we could get perspective and treat each other and the planet with dignity and respect.  Don’t go the way of the Dodo bird, funny thing is, we have more info on prehistoric dinosaurs than we have of the Dodo.  (Look it up it’s a fact)  We effectively whipped out a species and only have a few stuffed parts and a few bones and only hypothetical knowledge of a bird we knew existed and very easily we could have saved.  I wonder what, if anything left of each one of us?

I have been keeping up on my reading schedule for law school.  I am also going to start outlining now for the finals.  Unfortunately I am going to be doing a lot of re-reading this weekend.  What sucks about law is that you read it once, and you think you understand it completely, until you get to class and the professors blow your perception to smithereens.  They have such a different more complete insight that you can’t avoid re-reading material to see or at least try to make the connections that they made.  All of my current classes are interesting thus far, but I feel like the nuances and small differences are going to be essential to success in them.  I received my grade from the summer school class I took, it went ok.  I do feel a little more pressure this year as opposed to last year because the “I am new” excuse does not fly anymore and the truth is that it should not. 

I ran well this week and took last night off.  I have a pretty full schedule so I took a break.  I grabbed Del Taco and headed over to the local spot to share a beer with a friend I had not seen in a few weeks.  But I do love my Garmin GPS watch.  It is helping me keep honest with my running and the stats this thing spits out are amazing.  Mind you, I got the simple newb version, the Forerunner 110 - with heart rate monitor.  It is an amazing piece of equipment and will now be essential to my training.  I love the simple controls.  I know that older versions of the forerunner offer more options and buttons for a nerd like me, even cycling stats.  For my level I really just need avg. speed, time, heart rate and distance…exactly what the 110 does.  The satellite reception is good, the first time it took a few minutes and now before I go on a run I turn it on in advance to make sure it’s good to go.  It takes about 15-30 seconds to lock in position.  I really like it. And will be writing a detailed review later. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

3.56 Mile Jog Thoughts - Property - Attachment to Greatness but shunning defeat

Last night after I got home from class I went on a run. I had not run since Saturday’s bike ride. It was really nice to stretch my legs out. I ran on pavement in a pair of Asics Banditos. They are not my usual VFF or Brooks Mach 11, but the shoe was light and promoted a mid foot strike. The pace went well and I was able to get in a 3.5 mile out and back and keep the avg. mile under 10 minutes. I was working with a heart rate monitor which was something new for me since I am not really one to limit myself if I am feeling well, but I guess it was a good thing. So naturally what do I do this morning? I get pissed off at myself for missing the Disneyland ½ marathon registration, don’t get it twisted I was not too excited about the magic kingdom taking $120 dollars to make me sweat and hurt at that happiest place on earth, but I really wanted to run that race. I will hopefully do it next year and with improved time. Anyway, I signed up for a 10k at Camp Pendleton, Oct 16, called Buffalo Alley. It is supposed to be awesome and the terrain will really test me. I think after that run I will begin signing up more in advance because I do have to get ready for the marathon, and the 100 mile ride will be the week before the 10k so long October.

I had my first Property class last night. It was good. The professor, just like all the other professors, I ridiculously brilliant and very quick witted. The professor breaks it down so it is not so hypothetical or theoretical which is nice because after a full day of work the last thing I want is theoretical questions to digest. I can say that I feel better this start. I am not saying that being a 2L has changed my view of law school; it is still a ball breaker. I do think that I am more open to the fluidity of it. First year you have a schema from undergrad that works for you, go to class, read, take test, done…in law in addition to that you have to analyze differently than you have ever had too. E.g. I say property you think real estate or an object you own. However, it is more involved as it is that and the relation of the parties to one another in regards to the object, i.e. joint ownership, etc. I am not going to repeat everything here; what I can say is you think you think the way others think but the thinking you do is no thinking at all.

Last night on Facebook I would Mexican pride in the fact that the new Miss Universe is from Guadalajara. Yet this morning, 72 bodies were found in a ranch after a gunfight between the Navy and Drug Cartels and there are no status updates. This behavior is repeated over and over ad infinitum. We swell with pride when something good happens and shun or stay silent when bad facts arise. We quickly attach ourselves to greatness because in a way it makes us great, but what about attachment to the not so good? It’s a normal human phenomenon, but should it be? As many of you know I side with eastern philosophy with regard to the human vs. animal distinction. While western philosophy states that we are different because we can reason, eastern says that we are different because we are benevolent. Why does our benevolence - desire to do more for others fall short in tragedy and swell in success? Is that why we as a populous are so amazed when we hear survival stories or heroic acts? Have we become a nation that is out for number one and never considers others? Yes, it is a good thing that a beautiful girl won a beauty pageant, shocker. But what about the families of 72 bodies that never knew what happened to their mom, dad, son or daughter? Where are the calls for prayers or the cries for justice? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and justice is blind, I guess sayings are sayings for a reason.

Monday, August 23, 2010

First Day of Law School, 75 Mile Ride - GU Review

Today I start my grind again. I was really enjoying not having to drive to school after work but all good things come to an end. Today I have Civil Procedure and Constitutional Law; both of which I am excited about because I feel they have more of a historical feel to them and that’s right in my wheelhouse. Clearly I will be putting other reading on hold, but i am planning to do an awful lot of reading so I may have some pleasure reading time anyway. In line I have a few running books; Chi Running, Pose Running and the Tao of Jeet Kun Do by Bruce Lee. I figure I should kick ass at school, figuratively, so I should get inspiration from the beat-anyone-who-has-a-pulse-into-pulp man himself. Also I am attracted to his philosophy of martial arts because it applies to so many aspects of life similar to the Art of War, which I will be re-reading soon.
I finally tried GU (gel-pack), the espresso love flavor, and I was pleasantly surprised. It is 100 Calories and it pretty much is a composition of vitamins, sodium, and complex carbs so you can eat and keep going when you are working out or training. I decided to try them on one of my longest rides, 75 miles. I had one every hour and chased it with water. I was on the bike for 4:57:01 hrs. Imagine a thicker go-gurt that tastes like fake espresso. I didn’t bonk all through the ride. The hills and miles hurt, but I did not feel my blood sugar go to trash like I did the last time I rode north (60 mi approx). The GU got me through; I even expected to feel a lot sorer and fatigued than I am. I feel ok and not sore all over. I expected lower back and hamstring pain because of the time in the saddle but I have none of it. I am even planning on running tonight since I took Sunday off. Some observations; these do not replace meals, and you are still starving at the end of the ride. I did not feel the surge of energy some people say they get with these, instead I felt like I was adding a log to a fire, slow and steady. I liked the experience but I may switch flavors because the taste of coffee when sweating up a storm was not as appealing. The miles ticked away, my route was PCH up the coast, imperial hwy, and then la cienega for the last stretch. I left home approx 4:30 am. The road was fairly unforgiving around mid morning, but I got a good jump on the day early so my muscles still fired up to mile 55-60. After that point it was a grind and it sucked. Every turn of the pedals I thought my leg would cramp but it didn’t. One thing I was conscious of was to limit my sprints and surges to hills or down hills. I figured sprinting downhill helped my avg speed and kept my heart rate low because it was less work, and the surges uphill were calculated and taken only on hills I felt confident I could overcome with one surge and not multiple. I felt I was conservative and that I could have been faster, but better to build than go all out and get injured.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Roger Clemens (micro and macro observer perspective)

I can’t help but feel bad for Roger Clemens, The Rocket. I grew up watching him pitch. He was a dominating pitcher who not only won us over with his performance but also with his apparent nice guy, guys guy manner. On the radio many people are speaking of his ego, and how amazing it is that he thought he could get away with perjury. Or the fact that he lied and repeatedly lied. Also that Mark Maguire said he did not want to talk about the past and got off scot free and Barry Bonds has stayed silent on the steroid issue. I am going to look at a different approach. Maybe, maybe he is like a lot of us that simply see the small things but miss the big picture. I personally have come into situations where the big picture maybe so obvious and apparent that I missed it. But I can tell you what people were wearing, driving or ate at the time. There are in my opinion two types of observers; micro and macro. Micro-observers, like me see the details. We pick at everything small. Sometimes it can be looking at a person’s eyes and seeing which direction they look when giving a standard answer, i.e. what is your name, compared to a non-standardized answer, i.e. what is the meaning of life. By comparing the reactions we try to gauge the veracity of the statements. Or, we notice the mannerisms, walk, common words and or any infinite amount of smaller things to try and get a grip or an understanding of the thing or person as a whole. We look at the parts to make the whole. Macro-observers look at the whole and do the opposite; they break it down. Instead of overcomplicating a person or thing they build them as a composite of their parts they see the whole and then in order to understand the “big picture” they break it down into singular parts. Eg. “She has a lot of poise and speaks well.” The macro observer would assume she is educated and well mannered, the mico observer would assume education and manners from the way she spoke. A similar result, both assuming education and well mannered, but arriving it at it from slightly different paths. What happens is the micro-observers can be wrong; it’s true, I can be wrong and I am wrong all the time. But I am also dead right in a scary way a lot of the time. It is one or the other. Macro observers are generally right. They rarely are wrong, because they do not take the parts to build the whole, they breakdown what they see, therefore the evidence for the breakdown is already established. Micro observers build the image, and hence build it correctly or incorrectly and are therefore spot on or dead wrong. Roger Clemens seems to be a micro observer as are many athletes. One singular event, a twitch, tells or grin means fast ball, slider or curve. He trained himself to see the little things, making him endearing to fans and sponsors. He was able to build batters from small details in order to hopefully exploit weaknesses other macro observers may miss. Eg. Thought: His back foot is slightly behind the leading making him an inside-out swinger, therefore a lot of liners to left therefore pitch low and away…whereas the macro observer would look at stats and say, hmm he hits to the left, let’s work the count and hope my stuff is better than his. Sometimes it is, sometimes it is not. In this case I think Roger Clements let his focus got the better of him. He focused so much on his legacy and denials of steroid use that he missed the big picture that the world appreciates honestly over legacy and it is more respectable to admit use or simply not address it, than to be outwardly denying it only to be proven a liar, a la Floyd Landis.

Don’t spit at heaven because it is bound to hit you in the face.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Short History of Nearly Everything (book), Law School Orientation, Golfing/Minimal Running Woes

I have been reading a book called a “Short History of nearly Everything” - it’s a science book that’s readable. I would not recommend this book to anyone unless they have a deep interest in the formation of the world and are ok with remembering all those scientists and facts you tried to forget every summer during elementary school. You know the whole finding the nucleus and tectonic plates and all that jazz. It breaks down the planet from the atom -> ocean and ultimately humans. I am enjoying it, but even I am unable to make much progress without getting tired and taking a break to read something else. I decided to start titling my blogs to give a sense of each paragraph, and also, selfishly, to recall when I said whatever I said. I remember creating a chart that links or attempted to link the Big Bang Theory to the 7 day Genesis account of creation. I have even presented the chart, but I can’t seem to find it. As I remember it the big bang theory fit right into the creation theory, minus the 7 day limit. I feel like one of those old guys who remember doing something but not where or how they did it…side note: this book had the most intelligible explanation of why Einstein and the theory of relativity was so important (you can’t appreciate him without the history of men and women who came before him). And pretty soon in my profile I will be creating a link to the books I have read. At the suggestion of a co-worker I started an excel spreadsheet that began Jan 08. Some of the books I have browsed are not as impressive as others…they range from ‘Atlas Shrugged to “I hope they Serve Beer in Hell.” Its not all I have read, but it will give you an idea. Also there are gaps in the list because of school and other random circumstances that prevented my reading. I really enjoy varying the materials I read from exceedingly abstract to absurd or funny. Anyway, that’s what’s up with that.

Law school how I love thee let me count the ways. Those ways at - 10 right now. I am not to psyched about returning to the LA drive grind. The benefit is that I get awesome MPG on my little car, but the fact is that I get that awesome mpg because it’s all freeways. Today is upper division orientation. I am not sure how much more oriented I want to be, but we will have a go of it. but I am worried, not going to lie.

Running woes will come first. I think I pushed myself too quickly. I was averaging 2-3 mile runs every day in addition to hitting golf balls and riding. But a few weeks ago I became obsessive about getting faster mile splits. Before I started the minimalist I could cruise the mile under 8 minutes no problem and had even pushed myself a lot faster, but I was not getting distance and I was fighting injury all the time. After going minimal my stride got shorter and running became enjoyable again, but miles ticked at 10.2 avg. So in my zeal I pushed myself with little foot support to crank out faster miles. I strained my calve muscle. It was a blow to me because I have gone months with no injury and getting stronger all the time. But this is a reminder of me being stupid. I should have been more patient and built gradually and stuck to my plan. I am not going to run for a few days and hit some mtn bike trails instead. This year I am going to (God willing and body holding) run a marathon, ride 100 miles, and reduce my handicap into the teens. In addition to work and law school. Yeah, lofty I know, but I think I can do it with some planning, a little luck, and hard work. I went to the range last week and hit horribly. I do not think it was possible to shank the ball that bad. My hips were swaying a lot to make up for the fact that I could not fire to the left. Point being it was ugly. I may go again today. We’ll see what the jefe says.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Many times I find myself wishing I did not want it. Whatever it may be I find myself truly desiring I could float through life and just not care about it. The reality is that all of us know what “it” is. It is that thing, object, person that drives us to be better than what we think we can be. That very same thing can give us stress headaches, heart aches, hell every kind of ache you can think of. When I find myself not wanting it, really desiring to not want I take a deep breath and snap out of that BS. The fact is if we did not have desires and wants we would simply be piles of dung floating across infinite matter praying not to bump another pile of dung. Next semester is going to test my resolve. I am not excited about having a full schedule again, nor am I excited about having to manage the different personalities that surround me. But complaining about it would be like counting grains of sand at the beach; pointless and only a good source of momentary success and perennial stupidity. So, I am deciding now to really give myself a mental break where I can and have halcon-like senses when I need them. Above all that I want a better relationship with myself. I have pissed time and energy away on fruitless efforts and lackluster endeavors. Don’t get me wrong I have had a great time doing it, but where has it gotten me? All those expenditures of energy have gotten me is to circle back to that desire not to desire and that my friends is the rub. (not rib-rub or streak-rub, but Shakespearean rub - i.e. the bad one). As I have noted on my blog I have a few goals. I do not know why I do not write them down. Maybe I am a POS and feel that allusions towards the goals will make failing them less bitter. But the desire is what makes failure bitter, not the non-committal attitude. Regardless if your level of commitment in whatever you are doing you either do or do not. You know what you want and what you need to do to get there and many times it takes a whole lot longer than expected. But that’s the point! To see the goal and manage to get it done. Just because you tussled around and did not handle your business does not make your failure to yourself any less sour. Guess what? You still failed at what you wanted. I am not saying that with enough work everything is possible. We all know that there are circumstances out of our control that can prevent of from being a “billionaire” like that notoriously catchy song says. But, at least let life kick your ass, don’t tie life’s shoe and then bend over and complain that you “could have.”

Friday, August 13, 2010

I finished reading the book Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales. I enjoyed the last 30% of whole lot more than the beginning (see previous blog). It’s a good read so I will not spoil it. But warning, read the book if you are willing to challenge your vocabulary. He drops a lot of medical terms in the beginning that I had to look up, also be aware that this book will not help you survive, it only helps you understand why you wouldn’t. And read it with an open mind. Like any book, look at it critically, take the good drop the fluff and be better. After I finish any book, it usually peaks my interest in something else. This one got me interested in Aboriginal Song lines or Dreaming-tracks. I am going to look into this method. I actually do it a lot, but I want to practice it in a non-urban setting. Interestingly enough I was asked to present at a youth group on Joseph, son of Jacob, also a survivor in his own right. I am not big on taking biblical characters and chatting about them, because sometimes it is difficult to place them into a historical context. But, of all the characters I could have gotten, I got a survivor, who worked hard in his environment to achieve not only success but also the respect and admiration of two communities. Imhotep (i.e. maybe Joseph), has a lot of historical significance and archeological evidence that parallels the Biblical story. Most of it is circumstantial, but that is to be expected since the stories come from two different cultures with radically different beliefs.

I hit balls yesterday and I hit it terribly. My timing was off and my calf was hurting from a few longer runs I have done over the last week and a half. I could not really fire to the left side at all. I would scoop the ball and get poor contact. But I do feel that I am getting stronger and that is throwing me off. The best shot I hit was my friends 2-iron. I am going to look for a matt or a net so I can take full swings at home. My schedule is about to get very hectic with one of the most difficult semesters of law school coming up: Constitutional Law, Civil Procedure and Property…in addition to a 40 hour work week is going to make for good times and a lot of midnight running. All in all I felt ok with my tempo and rhythm, even though the ball flight did not seem to think so.

Spent too much on books, it makes me sad. Law school books are ridiculous, even the used ones. I feel that if I sell them after the semester I am getting robbed. So I am going to keep them, forever and ever. Just like my philosophy books. Anyway, I am running more often, I am going to take the Brooks Mach 11 to the trails. Runningwarehouse has a deal on them still so I bought 2 pairs. I also ordered another pair of VFF.

Res firma mitescere nescit

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Be silent; for there is great danger that you will vomit up what you have not digested. - Epictetus

I have been reading a book called “Deep Survival.” It discusses why certain people live and others die. I did really not like the book until I passed the half way point. To be quite honest I considered shelving it for a week or so because it was freaking me out. The reason that it was getting me riled up is because the function of the brain and how it was broken down (backed by scientific research) is befuddling. I did not want to believe my brain worked that way. I am different, I am a survivor. I will make it. Bull. I am not. And that scared me.

A few years ago when I was in college our group took a trip to El Capitan Canyon Resort in Santa Barbara. Three of us set out on a quick out and back trail that was supposed to take 30 - 45 minutes. I had two packs of halls and combined we had two bottles of water. 4.5 hours later the darkness was setting in and we admitted defeat and turned around. Every hill was the hope of coming back to the resort, but every hill dragged us farther away. I struggled to stay positive and keep going, but after the last hill I bonked. I was dead tired and ready to give up. I just wanted to rest. My blood sugar dropped, I had a bloody nose and I was losing my will. If I had been by myself I would have become a statistic. I would have kept going because I would have rather fought the night than go back. I was very lucky to have level headed roommates. Had it not been for Berto and Eric seeing the situation as it was and making a good decision when we needed it I would have kept going hoping that my mental map would work itself into existence.

Later we found out we were on a horse trail that lead the opposite of where we needed to go. We looked for the employee who told us that was the right trail heading but he was gone. I learned a lot that day. But now, reading the science that goes on when people decide to survive or not too it made me more cognizant of how quickly things go well or poorly. I am reading that the mind will play tricks on us and that often times focusing on others makes us more aware and keen to our environment. I focused on my desire to complete the trail; I am hard headed like that. I don’t like quitting and failure scares me. Unfortunately, there is a thin line called recklessness that I often find myself walking, just ask any of my ex gf. I am not only lucky but I am more aware of how stupid I became in a short span of time. I am also thankful that I had that experience with people I could trust and whose minds triggered in a better way than mine. I am not going to share our conversations on that death march because those guys became my brothers. I feel it would be revealing privileged information and honestly, after a few halls cough drops the conversations are not PG-13 anymore. That day I gained a huge appreciation for them and like I said, they are like my brothers from different mothers. And I am glad we did not have to eat each other that would have sucked. I will review the book once I finish it in a few days.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

In the last few months I have sporadically mentioned that I am running or attempting to run barefoot. The story of how I found the barefoot running movement is a little weird. When I was in a younger guy I was invited to a lot of quinceaƱeras. I was invited to help out in on in Mexico. Naturally being the brilliant mind I have always been, I forget dress shoes. I was given a pair of shoes a cousin had brought for her dad (my uncle) but that did not fit him. They were Rockports with Vibram soles. I loved those shoes. I held on to them for a little over 7 years. Those shoes were so well made and so comfortable that my raving got my cross country friends in HS to dare me to go to practice in them. I did. And I dominated. I let those shoes go a few years after college, I would shine them at least once every few weeks but the sole was the money. The vibram sole just worked. I went out to look for a replacement and found that many of the shoes with vibram bottoms were any of the following: ugly, mountaineering shoes, trail running shoes, or anything but a plain dress shoe. So my dream to get another pair ended there, but I figured a good pair of trail running shoes would be great for me. I am trying to get back into running and what the hell. I looked and did not find anything interesting, by interesting I mean my research on dress shoes can only be for so long before I get bored and read something else. I found, Vibram 5 finger shoes. I started following links and all of a sudden I am reading about the benefits of barefoot running. Most of the stories were like mine…I was an athlete, got injured, never felt the same, or…I run but always get injured or suffer from shin splints knew problems so I have to stop running. I decided to give it a shot. The way I figured, I wear some funny shoes, run a few miles and strengthen my feet, which will help my golf swing. I ordered a pair dos Vibram KSO - black. I have since become an addict. My running style has completely changed. I went from being more of a sprinter because of soccer to a short bouncy step where my heel rarely touches the ground. And I am running on shoes that are probably as close to barefoot as you can be. I am currently running at nights, after law school and work. I am hoping to train for the Disney Half Marathon, 100 Mile OC AIDS bike ride and the LA Marathon, and in the future who knows. But I feel free. Running really saved me. Early this year there were a lot of troubling feelings and thoughts in my head. It was a very sad time for me. But, I have always been the kind of person who uses anger as motivation. I get mad and work harder. The mantra that used to run through my head was from Metallica: give me fuel give me fire give me that which I desire. I would beat myself up for a long ride or a jog and instantly feel better, but injuries would sideline me for weeks. Barefoot running, although a long shot provided an answer and for a change was not trying to sell me anything.

I started to run with the five finger shoes. I get a lot of stares and a lot of questions. But the facts are these: I am a slower runner (getting faster), For the first week my feet killed but I have toughened up and have not suffered an injury yet, I am not dead tired after a jog, I smile more. My motivation has also changed a little, I still use anger as a motivation, but it has mutated into courage/controlled rage. It is not longer a negative beat yourself up feeling. Now when I get angry I feel more courageous…I want to complete the task at hand for myself, not for its own sake or for a self of primal male ego, but for the simple reason that I choose to. Period.

In this breask from school, it will mostly be Opinion on News, Sports (football season is coming and baseball is ending), golf and running.

I will try and throw some pictures of trails just for some spice.

Few quotes to meditate:

Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction.
-William James

When you run on earth and run with the earth, you can run forever
-Tarahumara Saying