Tuesday, September 06, 2016

What am I listening to?

When I run, I usually have my ear buds in, except for when running on trails. Trails deserve their full attention, not just because I don't want another face plant, but also because having all senses absorbed in the act of running in a beautiful environment is a wonderful gift. I want to appreciate it fully. When on the road, I listen to podcasts. Sometimes, I will listen to audio books. But, if there are a lot of characters or too intricate of a plot, it's easy on a long run to miss a lot of the story. When I have studied for promotional exams, I have listened to one audio book on the test bibliography so many time that I felt like I was going to throw up on my running shoes.

So what are the podcasts I listen to?

 Lately, my favorite has been Real Time with Bill Maher. This is nothing but the audio of his HBO show. There are also a few bonuses. You get some of the jokes he was testing out before the show and also an extended conversation with his guests. Bill and my political beliefs jibe well. However, there are some things that we don't agree on. And some of the points he has made have made me change my mind on some things. He is certainly a Liberal but he also attacks Liberals on things they should be attacked on. He treats his Conservative guests and panel members pretty well and lets them have their say. You get the feeling that he and Rick Santorum have a couple of beers after the show - a show where he showed no mercy to Mr. Santorum's beliefs. Sometimes, I laugh while running. Other times I get a little miffed at Bill for missing a key attack point he could be using.

Futility Closet is candy for the mind. It consists of a husband and wife team who recount quirky historical tales. They do some debunking but mostly they just tell the stories. The second half of the show is a lateral thinking puzzle. When I know the puzzle's answer and they are having a hard time figuring it out, I will say the answer out loud. If someone is passing by on a bicycle and they hear me scream, "Because she was dead from the beginning!" I might get a funny look. Most of the time the puzzle is solved before I can get the right answer.

The Tim Ferriss Show. Tim is famous for his The 4-Hour Work Week and The 4-Hour Body books. The guests are people who have excelled at what they do. Four star generals, comedians, writers, athletes, etc. Tim asks great questions and gets them to share some of their "hacks." Mostly, I like listening to their philosophies and stories. I only listen to the shows that I think will be interesting to me. Tim is really into the stoics. I am too, but I've read as much Seneca and Marcus Aurelius as I think is necessary and when Tim is reading from their books I usually skip those. Likewise, some of the athletes I don't listen to.

Common Sense with Dan Carlin is pretty good. He takes a look at contemporary political issues. Not really a Left vs. Right show. Dan looks behind the current problem and has a great historical perspective. I like his voice and there is a little self-deprecating humor. In other words, he kind of comes in sideways on an issue and attacks it from there. Those of you who know me can probably guess I feel a kindred spirit in this endeavor.

Hard Core History with Dan Carlin. Imagine a six-part podcast about World War One. Taken all together it's, I don't know, 20 hours long and you don't want to stop running because you want to hear what happens next. Mr. Carlin researches the crap out of a myriad of historical subjects and then tells you what he learned. Again,a great voice. The only downside it it can be months between episodes. So, you can forget some of the groundwork that was laid down from the last episode. Your best bet is to wait until he is completely done with a subject and then listen to all the episodes. A great place to start is Wrath of the Khans, a history of the rise and fall on the Mongol Empire. So good.

Trail Runner Nation. I like this podcast. The comradery of the two hosts is fun and they have great guests on from every aspect of ultra running. After a while though, there's only so much you can say about running. And there's only so much you can listen to while running. Their opening credits features the sound of someone running toward you on gravel. This has frightened me when I have been out of it.

You Are Not So Smart takes a look at why we think the way we think, including some of the fallacies involved. The host  David McRaney is currently writing a book on how people change their minds. If you are into logic and philosophy you will really like this show. The conclusion of each show is a reading of a cookie recipe sent in by a listener whereupon the host eats said cookie.

 Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History reminds me a little of You Are Not So Smart. However, Mr. Gladwell has more of a personal relationship with the subject matter and is more of a storyteller I think.

 On Being with Krista Tippett has been rapidly moving up my charts. It's a show about spirituality and thought. From atheists to full-blown deists, she has guests that really make you thing about how to live your life.

In case it's not obvious, I love hearing people tell stories. These stories can be about their lives or someone else's. Hear are a few more that I occasionally listen to. HOME: Stories From L.A., Stuff You Should Know, TEDTalks, TED Radio Hour, Serial, The Moth, A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment, Star Ship Sofa, Cool Tools, Marc Maron's WTF, The David Feldman Show. 

There have been a lot pf podcasts that I used to listen to and have fallen by the wayside. Marc Marons' WTF is one I still listen to but less and less. I was a Maron listener back when he was on Air America and not very successful. He started doing a podcast (I was there for the beginning of that too) out of his garage and wow! He has done so well, that he just concluded his third season of a TV show - Maron.  He interviewed Obama in his garage. I used to listen to a podcast where the hosts took apart every episode of Star Trek. I get hooked on stuff like this for a while especially if I am training for a really long race.

How do I keep those earbuds in my ears. I use earhoox for earpods. They're little doodads you add to your preexisting IPhone earbuds.

Some of these shows are dependent upon donations to keep running. Every time I have donated, I've received a very nice personal email. Sometimes, I get a thank you note in the mail. After a while, after so much time and so many miles, you feel like you have some kind of relationship with the host of the podcast, and it's nice to know they are nice people!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dog Daze

Look what crashed in our backyard! Aidan had bought this on eBay years ago. It's missing some pieces and appraised at zero value. Aidan doesn't want it anymore, so Sarah planted the big ass Millennium Falcon where hopefully it will rise and engage the turkeys that have come home to roost. There's a metaphor in there some place. Things have been extremely happy around here. Ike and his girlfriend now have an apartment close by. Lovely Sarah and I celebrated our 25th anniversary. My mom celebrated her 81st birthday. I've been writing a lot (just not in this blog). Our grandkids are cute, happy and healthy. Their parental units - Kirk and Sarah - amaze me every day by what fine parents they are. We are surrounded by loving family and friends. I'm about ready to do some painting again. The garden is kicking ass. The beer brewing is good. Work has been great. Wow. Last year, I was busy writing poetry for my book - Spokane Summer. This year I have taken up a project that I abandoned as a child and that has been taking up some time. Hopefully more on that later!   

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Yes, more camping.

A couple of weeks ago, Sarah and I camped at Outlet Bay at Priest Lake. There was no hiking and no running. It was great!

This place is great. Paved all the way to the campsite. The firepit had been vacuumed out. Very clean.
There were some riffraff animals protesting, which was a shame.
A deer.
Relaxing with decaf coffee. This is what I do now.

And then, a few days later, we decided to go backpacking in the Mallard Larkins. This was going to be a two nighter, but my shift at work changed and we could only do an overnighter. The road up to where we started was some kind crazy. It took over an hour to go the last 15 miles. We hiked about 18 miles. 

There was a good sized fire here last year, I would guess.

There were a lot of great vistas.

We took a side trip to the lookout shack on Mallard Peak. Lots of snow still up there.

We crunched our way through some piles of snow.

Sarah is signing the log book inside the lookout. Pretty cozy place.

The view from the lookout.

We got into camp just before the sun started going down. The fish were jumping like crazy!

 It was a beautiful lake, with tons of mosquitoes. But, we didn't stay for very long. Time to get up and hike out!

Quite a bit of the trail had deadfall that we had to hike around.
 That little white dot on the top of the highest peak is the Mallard Peak lookout.

18 miles and less than 24 hours, we're back at the car.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Big old garden

I feel like I am pretty far behind on blogging. Lots of stuff going on. Right now the hail is pounding the garden, so maybe it is time for an update/historical-perspective on the garden?   I took these pictures a week ago:
The plants on the far left are tomatoes. They are about six feet tall with some vines about the size of a marmot's shank.  The box next to it has three (3) different types of basil blasting out of it. The third box over has lemon cucumbers and some pumpkins. It also grew peas but they have all been eaten. The pumpkins were some volunteers that were sprouting in a different box. I transplanted them thinking they were cucumbers because I never grew any pumpkins in the box from which they were sprouting. Maybe some renegade compost? The big tangle of plants in the lower right hand corner are cantaloupes. All the stuff I am growing was sprouted in my basement or planted directly by seed.
Lower left corner are watermelons. Continuing up to the upper right corner is a box with cucumbers. Then a box with beans, carrots, parsnips, onions and shallots, then another box by the driveway with zuchini. I put googly eyes on a large zuchini so as to spark conversation between parents and their children. Behind this mess are raspberries up against the garage. Then working your way back to the left is a box with lettuce, kale and collards. I am working on a second planting for that one. In the middle is a box with with more beans and eggplant. Next to that one is a box with zuchini and beets and that brings us back to the pumpkin cucumber box. Right up against the house, between the two windows are more tomatoes. There are various peppers growing throughout the garden. Here's what the garden looked like 12 year ago.
If you want to watch a YouTube video on the garden, and really who wouldn't,   here it is with some bonus haiku

Monday, July 11, 2016

More More Camping

This is my fifth attempt at posting this using the app BlogPad Pro. The last one was probably my best. There was drama, humor, pathos, but at this point I have to get on with my life. Here are the pictures I featured in my previous attempts at posting. Make up your own story because I've had it. In fact, I am probably doing myself and you a disservice by even continuing. Turn back. OK. Here are the pictures. Not worth it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Biking to the Garden of Ignorance

Six new beds and a deck to drink whisky upon, that is what I built. 

I realize I have always been a little more drawn to creating spectacle than utilitarianism. When utilitarianism and spectacle converge, I get really excited. I am no expert in my recreational pursuits, but I have fun.

Look at my biking experience. Yes, I like to ride my bike to work. It is a fun thing to do. It is a good thing to do for me, my community and the world at large. I like lights, I like music, I like spectacle and I like it all on my bike. I don't know what kind of gear ratios my bike has. I don't even know if "gear ratios" is really a thing for bikes. I barely maintain my bike. When something breaks, that's when I really get serious about doing "maintenance." The Xtracycle has always been good conversation starter. I have added and then subtracted so much weirdness from it over the years, but I put on a new cable when the cable breaks. I change the brake pads when the brakes break. When I am down to about four usable gears, I adjust the shifting. But music, lights, stickers, spoke cards, a mobile BBQ trailer? Hell yeah! Serious bikers would note that I am not a serious biker.

My latest sound system - a repurposed Bluetooth shower speaker. 

My garden is the same way. I water my plants with a hose when the dirt gets dry. I pull up stuff and eat it right there. I don't know the types of tomatoes I am growing. I bought the seeds because they had funny names. One year I grew Charlie Chaplins, the next year it was Bloody Butchers. If it has a funny name, I will buy the seeds. This year, I've already forgotten what they were. Sophie's Choices? Golden Goiters? Turbo Blechs? I find that I plant plants together that are good "companion plants." How do I know this? Because someone told me I had done this.

I built this "patio" to sit and watch the garden (and drink whisky) in about three hours. I could've done it in two, if I didn't use a level. That's right. I used a level. 

This garden patio now supersedes this patio:

You might walk by my garden, and think me a "serious" gardener. Maybe just by the sheer volume of my efforts. The new beds  almost doubled the garden. Here's a gardening tip - I like to weed my plants until my plants are bigger than the weeds, then after that, if the weeds win, my vegetables deserved the loss. I know nothing of soil Ph. When something starts killing my plants, I kill that something (slugs). I do this only for vengeance.  

When beautiful, unfamiliar poppies started poking up in my vegetable beds, I let them grow with the crops because they looked cool. Every year, there seems to be fewer of these dandy interlopers. It makes me a little sad to see their numbers dwindle. 

I grew radishes until they almost went to seed and now I am going to pickle some, so I can delay the guilt of discarding them - until I throw the jar of their undisturbed contents away, probably around Halloween.

I have a lot of people stop by and tell me they really like my garden. I know that often they are referring to the flowers Sarah has grown. Either way, I take credit and it makes me feel good. I, in turn, get to ask about their garden, or their bike, or their baby in a stroller. 

My garden is a spectacle just like my bike. It's not whimsical, maybe a little ramshackle. Yet the garden pumps out the produce, which like biking seems to do me some good.  

There are things I like to have expertise in. Those are the things that pay the bills. Any expertise I have in biking or gardening is overshadowed by the fun I have, the people I meet and the show it creates.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Saying Yes

I have had some weird stomach pain for the last few days. It was so bad one morning, I had Sarah pick me up from work and I left my bike at the station. Had a lot of things planned for the weekend, so I was bummed when I got sick.

And so with aching stomach, on Friday, we headed over to Heyburn State Park in Idaho for another Trail Maniacs half-marathon trail run. We made camp at Lake Benewah. As soon as we put the awning and the tent up, it started to dump rain. It rained really hard for an hour or two while we huddled in the tent. After the weather subsided, Sarah made a great dinner. We sat by a very warm fire and had a little wine. Went to bed early and slept great.  

In the morning, I did one last stomach/digestive-tract check. It was still hurting but I thought I could still do the run. Wow. I am so glad I did. It was beautiful. Awesome views, magical trails through meadows with grasses that tickled your elbows. Dark forests, streams, arduous climbs and rickety descents. 

We met a young couple and their four kids at the campground, and Mandy, the matriarch, was running the route and taking pictures - what a great idea! I never take pictures on these runs and always wished I had. Mandy's husband Joe won the race and their kids did really well in some of the shorter runs.

So many times, I was almost overwhelmed by the beauty of the trail and realized how much of that beauty was in the actual act of running and being ingrained in the landscape. Just an amazing time. I was so glad that I decided to run. I'm glad I said "yes" to something that I could have easily avoided and probably should have avoided. Bagging out of a half-marathon full of mountain climbs when you are sick seems like a pretty logical thing to do. So glad I ran instead.

After the race, there was the usual good food and fellowship. I had one beer and decided that was all my stomach could sign up for. Besides, it was about an hour's drive back home.

After unloading all our camping gear, we went down to the Pride Festival and really enjoyed the entertainment and being with so many people who were enjoying themselves and each other. It was great to be there. In a way, I felt honored to be there. Thanks to all those who could have stayed safe and not participated, and I'm not just talking about the LGBT community but all families, couples and individuals who came together to celebrate - not tolerate - but celebrate diversity and beauty in our town! Thank you for saying "yes."

And then Sunday's news of the shooting tragedy in Florida. I would imagine some of the folks celebrating that night were "out" for the first time or were friends supporting friends, or just people wanting to have a good time with people having a good time. And then the senseless violence. Another very sad act by another angry person - a person angered that some people said "yes" to not hiding, or "yes" to not-hating/tolerating/celebrating/loving.   


I am beginning to realize that saying "yes," to the beauty of something, the challenge of something, the rightness of something, saying "yes" to who you are, and loving your neighbors when they show you who they are, is a risky proposition, but it may be the only thing that will move us all forward into a much greater, much more beautiful, place.