Sunday, December 24, 2017

The wonderful wisdom of Oz

MacGyver is diligently working on a voice over recap of the whole honeymoon trip that I may did! remember to hyperlink back here.  He's already launched a teaser clip of a shark feed in the Coral Sea.

So while we wait, I figured I'd just brain dump the stuff I thought was cool about the trip.  Since I don't really chase epic things around with my camera, I'll probably be outlinking to a bunch of other people's work and hoping they don't change their URLs and break the flow.

  • Google Fi as a phone provider Just Works.  Before we could track down sim cards at the airport, our phones sent us a friendly alert welcoming us to Australia and letting us know our rates were pretty much the same as before.  GPS and maps worked reliably for about as good as any of the locals, even in remote parts of the western coast.  The only drawback was that we often had reception where we didn't have reliable power (like driving the Jucy campervan) so we put the two portable USB battery chargers through their paces.    
  • 2-speed toilets.  Almost everywhere had a "big job" and "small job" designation on the buttons.  In the one park restroom I found that didn't, a helpful patron had taken the trouble of graffitti'ing toilet feature feedback on the stall wall.  
  • Communism done right:  so this might be chalked up the the budget accommodations I often selected for us, but it seemed like most venues like cafes had a well-stocked book swap case.  Most hostels and campgrounds had gear swaps and "take what you need" herb gardens.  We were the only weirdos using the laundromat dryers because everyone else was cool hanging their unmentionables on communal clothes lines.  
  • No Starbucks!  Initially I thought this was a code red overlooked feature, but then discovered Sydney has a cafe culture pretty similar to Rome's (Ok, much much more laid back/read the paper while you sip vs. belly up to a bar, shoot an espresso and prende a la via).  So this trip turned into a tour de Flat Whites from all the mom and pop places that had managed to run Sbux swill out of town.  That said, the Australian chain equivalent (Gloria Jeans) was abysmal, much much worse quality than Sbux and seemed to be skating by on that extended hours niche to cater to the "got up at 4 because jetlagged, why does no coffee shop open before 7?!"  
  • Alt milks are also pretty common, so it is possible to dairy-free your flat white without the barista batting an eyelash... That said, I would say the dairy version was consistently tasty so probably harder to mess up.  
  • Vegetarian options on every menu.  I had my happycow app thing all ready to go since I'd been reading too much Dr Gregory on how not to die and wanting to be plant-focused.  MacGyver was supportive, so it might be a selection bias in the places we chose to hike for meals, but pretty much everywhere had a decent not-even-envious-of-your-meat-entree-option for me to demolish and we ate at different places almost every meal.  It helped that the Australian preparation of bacon is limp, oily and almost Canadian in its disappointment, so I wasn't fiercely tempted.    
  • "No Junk" stickers on most mailboxes.  Turns out Keep Australia Beautiful has pushed for an effort to get "throwing advertising on an owner's property without their consent is...considered litter."  We should copy that in the states.  Until then, I've got an industrial sized paper shredder on my to-do list and am contemplating if the mailbox generates enough brown matter to sufficiently cover humanure deposits.  j/k.  sort of.  
  • Cow mailboxes in The Channon.  We saw a bunch of converted milk cans hung as mailboxes as we cruised to Zaytuna Farm (aka the Permaculture Research Institute).  Each one was unique and got me thinking how bucolic living in this area must be with cows grazing in knee-high grass instead of a really stinky densely packed CAFO like we see in the states.  Sadly, this memory quickly became bittersweet as a local on the dive boat pointed out how the land was that lush and productive because it was recently clear-cut rain forest and lots of native wildlife is threatened because of it.    
  • Weird wildlife.  The birdsongs even sounded different.  There was a bird we took to calling the "uh-oh" bird because its call sounded kind of like a minion or person on helium watching humpty dumpty tumble off a wall.  Trash turkey/bin chicken/White Ibis seems to occupy the same niche in Sydney as pigeons do here... oddly, the hotel down the street was named Ibis, I wonder if that is a metaphor for the way the country sees travelers?  *shrug*  We saw a koala, a giant spider, and toads that seemed to live in the campground toilets/septic systems at campground #2, a monitor lizard and a couple cassowaries at Etty Bay campground, loads of pet-able joey kangaroos at a roo sanctuary/campground, a tree full of bats in Cairns one of whom has exceptional aim, what am I forgetting?  Oh yeah, all the awesome stuff we saw while scuba diving.
  • Sydney and Cairns are walkable!  Ok, so that might be a bit of a stretch in that I did make us walk about an equivalent of a half marathon in Sydney one day and it is jungle humid in their summer.  But I figured we'd run up huge charges in cab fare or have to figure out how to navigate mass transit with Opal cards and whatnot.  Turned out that was totally unnecessary.  If I had to pick a favorite borough, I'd say Glebe  in Sydney is pretty bomb.  It somehow managed to convey a small German ski town feel (like Bishop, CA) with an intelligentsia vibe in the middle of sweltering summer.    
  • Sydney also has a bunch of Victorian era townhomes that have fascinating little iron patios and iron balconies
  • Plants lean the other way!  Discovered pines leaning resolutely North in the Royal Botanic Gardens which really tripped me and my general sense of direction out... Northbound means walking towards the sun at high noon, how outlandish! I found orion in the constellations out at sea but I think he was upside down.  The nice thing about plants is it looks like the companion planting of herb gardens holds globally.  I saw a bunch of combinations in the RBG herb garden that are identical to stuff that the master gardeners do here.  
  • Scuba.  Granted, Scuba is more DH's fixation now, but Mike Ball made it hard to dislike diving.  Easy entries, no giant strides with 15' drops (except when the dive master let DH and other crazies jump off the top deck at the end of the trip).  Crazy comfortable water temps without all the raw knuckles from having to pull on a stinky still-damp 6mm.  Visibility for dozens of feet, enough to feel vertigo diving the walls the drop off quickly.  Tons of wildlife to watch and learn about and tons of knowledgeable folks on crew and other guests to help you figure out what you saw and hook you up with tips on spotting more esoteric stuff on the subsequent dives.
So yah, 10/10 would honeymoon again.  :) 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Operation Unless

It's about that time for New Years resolution junkies (yours truly) to formulate grand plans for the coming year... only to watch plan adherence crumble by mid-January.  Here's how I'm tweaking my approach-

1.  Pick a theme for 2018:  Unless
2.  Pick a boulder-sized project that will not be competed out by simultaneously attempting other boulder-sized projects:  Write a book
3.  Pick some supporting month-level focus areas
4.  Forge a set of daily habits to keep me on track

1.  Pick a theme for 2018:  Unless

The Lorax is one of those deceptively simple books that have haunted me.  I think the ideas this book broached made me receptive to epic challenges like training for a permaculture design certificate or contemplating starting my own Riot 4 Austerity or Zero Waste project.  The Lorax made me ultra-sensitive to things like the bleaching MacGyver and I saw honeymooning on the Great Barrier Reef.  Thanks to the Lorax, a huge constellation of ideas about sustainability and conservation can be summarized by the single watch word: Unless.   

2a.  Pick a boulder-sized project:  Write a Book

They say everyone has a book in them; I have been procrastinating on mine for years.  I would come up with excuses like "I don't have enough experience in X to pretend to be an expert," or "the experiences I gain in X won't apply to a wide enough audience to justify writing a book."  But now I've seen colleagues and authors I respect share their self-publishing journey and help lay out stepping stones for my own.  Having been retired for a year and living comfortably, I feel I'm at a place now where I can scuttle a lot of the pressure I was putting on myself to churn out enough mass-appeal best selling stuff to replace the income I used to collect while working for Initech.  So yeah, let's write a book that *I* would use as a reference.  If in the fullness of time other people want to read it or pay for the pleasure of doing so, that's an unexpected bonus. 

2b.  ...that will not be competed out by simultaneously attempting other boulder-sized projects...

This is tricky because I already have some prior commitments.  It is more realistic to look at them all side by side, anticipate if there are obvious conflicts in the direction they will take me and be clear in advance which priority would "win" if it came down to a metaphorical knife fight between them...  Since last year was a very selfish year of training for an Ironman, I have promised to support MacGyver on his objectives for this year (which revolve around a target weight and an upgraded landscape).  I'm pretty sure many of the Unless-themed activities will support or at least not work at cross purposes with this prior commitment, but it would be unrealistic to deny that there may be some friction from time to time and if a compromise couldn't be found, MacG's needs would win the knife fight.  That said, I've come to believe that a recipe for spousal harmony (or good partnerships in general) is to not to get too personally invested in changing the other person.  What you see is what you get and chalk any positive change they make up as an unexpected bonus.  This is in keeping with the general idea that you should care more about stuff that's within your immediate sphere of control rather than worrying about stuff you have second to nth order degrees of control over.  So if hypothetically, achieving MacGyver's objectives *requires* that I ride him like the sadistic taskmaster that I am, you know, to the point where I can't juggle some side projects of my own, I would be in pretty flagrant violation of the spousal harmony covenant.  This morphs from a partner project to a me-wanting-to-change-my-partner project and it might be good for me to "get a hobby."  Also, let's bury this easter egg in the middle of a blog post in a wall o'text paragraph lest the scant portion of this blog's already scant readership that knows me in person reads it-- fascinating how touchy I am on this topic, this warrants a deeper reflection when I am more comfortable oversharing, but I digress-- since the biological clock is ticking and parenting seems like a challenging fun adventure, we're exploring that whole starting a family project as well.  It seems like the majority of the books I've been voyeuristically devouring on this topic warn that we should stay pretty flexible on the expectations we set for future selves who might roll "morning sickness," "preeclampsia," and other fun dot spells that could throw a wrench in otherwise well-laid plans on other fronts.  Oh, and finally, as sort of a concession if the year of family planning doesn't work out and because stuff books up stupid early, we signed up to attempt to hike rim to rim on the Grand Canyon next October.  My thoughts on that are pretty similar to my commitment to MacGyver.  So in the broadest of priority strokes, spawn>macgyver goals>unless book>canyoneering.

Now I can run around brazenly telling people my 2018 project is writing a book.  Full stop.  No more hemming and hawing about the numerous adventures I could choose now that I've finished the Ironman and returned from honeymoon (my prior commitment evasion excuses).

3.  Pick supporting month-level focus areas

Sweet.  This is mostly to scratch that itch I have to be continuously planning something and the paradoxical paralyzing overwhelm I feel when trying to build an entire plan for the year in one sitting.  The nice thing about sustainability is I can repurpose a lot of the structured categories outlined by Astyk when she drafted her Riot4Austerity game.  She had 7 categories, but since we are in socal where Heating Gas is not quite as focal of a thing, I'll combine Gas with Electric for 6 categories and cycle through focusing on each of them for two months of the year.  Calendar events set.

4.  Forge a set of daily habits to keep me on track

I love the web app Habitica that I downloaded on Google Play.  Unlike other to-do lists, this one has sections encouraging daily rituals and habits.  However, I've found I need to prune out those sections periodically because caffeinated past self thinks I can achieve a lot more in a day than current self actually manages and because some habits just stop making sense (i.e. measuring my heart rate in the morning to figure out if I'm overtrained and need to scale back today's workout now that I'm not training).  I've found it works better to be parsimonious and get some habits anchored down to the point where inertia is carrying them before trying to layer more habits in.  It is also helpful to sequence them together, for instance by adding a series of habits to do right after waking up or at a meal time.  It is harder to add an orphan habit if there aren't other established habits to group it with and remind you to work on it.

Another framework covered in a Tedx talk I want to experiment with is the concept that you have a couple "selfs" in control of your behavior.  You have an emotional self (some books call it Chimp or The Elephant) that usually runs the show and exerts the most control when you are upset or in some way dissatisfied.  This conceptually might be why it is hard to delay gratification and choose to deprive yourself now for future rewards when you're already feeling dissatisfied.  There is the logical part of your brain (some books call it Professor or The Rider) that you can use to make plans in the future or rationalize your past.  These plans are great but if there is upsetting adversity, the emotional part of your brain can instead pressure the logical part of your brain to justify procrastinating hard stuff for the future in favor of doing more pleasurable stuff in the present.  And then there is the third part of your brain which is The Robot of inertia, muscle memory reactions and interpretations to things.  Basically, the habits and rituals that acrete over time.  When emotion and logic are in agreement, programming can be written to the robot so you don't have to use so much self-discipline and arm twisting to get stuff done.  Cool, so I wanted to find a set of habits that furthered Operation Unless and it seemed like keeping all those parts of my brain happy was a crucial condition.

Daily tasks (over coffee + breakfast)

  • Emotional:  create and visit a pinterest page of inspiring pictures of projects I can attempt related to Operation Unless.
  • Logical:  read/research a bit about a topic related to Operation Unless daily.   
  • Robot:  journal (medium TBD) daily about this journey celebrating observations and noble failures of any projects attempted.  Worst case scenario: at the end of the year you can publish that brain dump as a deliverable... but budgeting some time later on to edit and curate would be ideal.  
So here goes!  


Thursday, August 17, 2017




I don't think I'm having a meltdown.  Although I haven't had a proper haircut in about a decade, there was just a culmination of small reasons to change my hair...

Ironman logistics-- I get that Justine Leconte says "wet hair" is oh so stylish these days.  Yet between daily swims, zone 4 spinning sessions, and showering off the effects of training, it felt like 1/2 my waking life my hair was soaking, dripping onto the back of shirts and making me generally feel uncomfortable and hygiene-challenged.  It would get pinched and snagged in latex swim caps.  The end of my ponytail could snag under my armpit while running and jerk my head mid-stride.  Plus the cholos on the bike path seemed to really enjoy catcalling an unattended female jogger and while they probably thought of it as a compliment, a group of strange men taking an interest in you comes across as more of a threat.  None of this is "lost the race" size distractions, but annoying like a really persistent mosquito.  

Anti-vanity-- It seemed like the last 2 decades I had this "brand" of being the approachable girl next door your mom would totally approve of, mostly executed by growing my hair out as long as possible and dying any greys that might belie premature aging but otherwise keeping things low key "I woke up looking like this."  That worked great, I snagged my prince.  Then I discovered he doesn't really care as much about physical appearance as I had assumed... or conversely, maybe I cornered him into trying not to seem shallow and now he's gotta stick by his claims and help me figure out how to use his clippers.  *evil grin*  Either way, a hairstyle choice that would devastate MacGyver was no longer a plausible excuse for a deal breaker.  Which left me alone in grappling with the "scariness" of this project.  What was I afraid of?  Would having short hair net me worse treatment by random dudes? Would I swap the cholo catcalls with lesbian comeons?  Would my androgynous build and eschewing makeup get me confused for being a dude?  Just how much of it was grey now?  I know I don't have cute Natalie Portmanesque elfish features, but would I look hideous?  My hair grows slow and life doesn't come with a control + z function to undo so this was an all-in gutsy move.  What would my tri club and master gardener friends make of all this?  

Adventures-- ever since Mandy chopped her locks and said she donates periodically to Locks of Love, that seemed like a cool upright citizeny ritual to copy.  Since my hair grows slow and they need 10" minimum it took a pretty long time to qualify for their donation requirements.  Plus they said they can take grey hair but they sell it and use the proceeds to make wigs so I figured now was the time to maximize the chances my hair made the cut for a kid wig.  Then there was the whole fiasco on the news with the skinheads in Charlottesville, VA.  I don't usually get all that involved in political stuff but seeing footage VICE did of the alt+right rally was really upsetting and sort of galvanized me to do something pro-social...  I may be descended from the Lees of VA, but if I want this to be my homeland, I need to earn that right, not wave a tiki torch around and insist it is my birthright.  What happened with our culture to radicalize people like that?  What made them so angry, alienated, entitled?  The glee they get out of public outrage, it seems like they never evolved out of the rebellious teenager stage but these are people in their 40's and 50's.  So I guess on some level I'm a liberal skin head, or at least shaved head now.  


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

SNAP Challenge

Debrief on the 30 day Food Stamp Challenge at $5/person/day.

We "cheated" a bunch, so this could be an interesting one to periodically circle back to and tighten the screws on the rules.

  • Food already in the house was considered free.  The main motive for this challenge now was to eat down some of our less popular pantry reserves.  
  • Quickly abandoned trying to track what MacGyver buys/eats at work.  So that meant our $10 daily budget covered only about 4 meals a day rather than 6.  
  • "Fitness" nutrition (i.e. gels, bars, etc.) was not counted towards this budget because I already have 2 coaches very concerned about my disinterest in fueling.  
  • We kinda stopped counting on day 29 because day 30 was a fun cross-continental funeral adventure and being on the road subsisting off fast food (even when air dad is able to seat you in heavily snack provisioned zones for the flights) is untenable on $5-$10 a day.  
  • MacGyver lost 10 lbs.  
  • My weight has a lot of variance, but I think I came down 1-2 lbs.  
  • Maybe a 50% reduction in random/redundant pantry inventory... still haven't found a use for surplus cricket flour.
  • Good and Cheap cookbook was geared towards this SNAP purpose and is free in pdf form but it is more sporting to buy a glossy paperback version so the proceeds can go to a good cause.  It was helpful to have experimented a bit with this "capsule" of recipes before starting the challenge, but we didn't slavishly build menus off this book during the challenge.
  • Local grocery store has overlapping promos on Weds, so I would bike there with a backpack.  The backpack reined in how much I bought (typically $25 or less).  I found it particularly discouraging to buy high liquid content, chill requirements, or excessively packaged convenience foods which also tend to be pricier...  MacGyver would say a drawback to this strategy is that I didn't get enough of his favorite foods (i.e. meat and beer) but he also thinks the cutback in beer contributed the most to his weight loss.
  • CSA box-- I have a fraught relationship with these boxes.  If I load the equivalent contents into my Sprouts Amazon Now cart, it costs $6.79 but the CSA costs $17 and is much less convenient to pickup fortnightly and often requires more cleaning and prep.  It does force us to eat veggies, often ones we wouldn't select for ourselves (i.e. lettuce) and that premium pricing does go towards supporting a local food shed though.  If we were truly on austerity measures, I would cancel CSA and hope that I supplemented with an increase in grocery store trips and veggie share of my cart.  In a similar vein, I found myself opting for non-organic options with killer sale prices (bacon, eggs, etc.) when ideologically, I would rather be in the premium price for organic/sustainably harvested camp.  
  • Create convenience food-- the most dangerous intervals were ones where we were exhausted, hungry, and didn't have a plan.  Filling fit packer containers with prepped or precooked "budget" items increased the likelihood we would eat them rather than skipping a meal or defecting to a fast food joint or an off-schedule calorie/nutrition light grocery run.  After a couple disasters and as our emergency snack pantry levels dwindled, I found myself doubling recipes or cooking something in parallel to eat later as an insurance policy.  I would scrutinize perishable things that didn't seem to be "moving" and try to find ways to make them more enticing-- maybe cut the grapes into smaller clusters?  etc.  That said, if you're not already in the habit of elaborate baking projects (pizza dough, bread, dumplings), it is unrealistic to anticipate you'll suddenly have time to knock those to-do's out while grappling with whatever withdrawal symptoms you have from absconding from cafes, sugary convenience foods, alcohol and other luxuries.
  • "Working remotely" and traveling was perilous.  There are few places that will let you camp with a laptop for hours on end that don't also expect you to purchase something that will annihilate your food budget for the day.  Starbucks comes to mind.  I found myself trying to limit the number of days I might need to "hang out" to carpool somewhere to avoid temptation.  When I heard the siren song, I tried to choose the simplest and smallest size options to get the fix without going deeper in the hole.  But I wasn't too aggressive with maximizing my dollars here because I learned in previous frugal challenges a tall house coffee doesn't scratch that "indulgence" itch that a tall latte monogrammed with my misspelled name would and therefore doesn't trigger a "I've been bad and now need to stick to the straight and narrow" cooldown.    
  • Big mason jars FTW.  I got an additional four of the gallon sized dry goods jars and six of the half gallon size wide mouth jars shipped from Ball and these are the best storage/organization investment ever (especially if you standardize on one mouth size across all your jars).  They allow you to raid the bulk bins at the grocery store and have an attractive place to store your loot.  You can also see these otherwise unglamorous rice, flour, trail mix, bean, etc. staples and that seemed to be half the battle to incorporating them into the rotation more.  As a corollary, anything dusty and shelf-stable I wanted to move, I started to push into clear glass cabinets so I could see it better as well (and because its typically gauche packaging was something I was motivated to zen out of my kitchen).  


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Banned Book Club: Anarchist Cookbook

Watched the American Anarchist documentary on Netflix released after the author's death and was moved by the irony of the situation.  Angry 19 year old pursues his bucket list objective of writing a book, thinking himself cleverly subversive in repackaging obscure but public knowledge in more incendiary easier access prose, book sells better than expected and despite his tirade against the oppressive power of private property he could use the royalties money, original publisher gets bought out and he sells his rights to acquirer, becomes a teacher focused on at risk youth, book starts to be connected with terrorist acts perpetrated by at risk youth, has lost publishing rights he would need to discontinue the book.  It is a tragically great story.

Plus lately I've been interested in people who seem to have done a public 180 on their thinking about a given topic (i.e. Neil Strauss: The Game-->The Truth, Tucker Max: I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell--> Mate, etc.).  

Prefatory note on Anarchism today-- By "today" he means 1970.  After brief delight at the cozily familiar anarchist "zine" feel (i.e. Days of War, Nights of Love), this chapter quickly deteriorated into Nixonian era current event name dropping and overly theoretical rants about Socialism, Marxism, and the parallels or lack thereof between WWII and Nam.  I had to bushwhack through persistent flashbacks to UofChicago core social science curriculum shot through with labyrinthine German 19th century exposition and the hope the professor wouldn't cold call on me to express my opinion on the topic.  It is too bad the author didn't want to be involved in updating this to make it more accessible to readers living after the soviet collapse.  Anarchy as I understand it is anti-hierarchy or more generally anti-authoritarian ways of organizing society.  Anarchy as he defines it is creating disruptive chaos in hopes of destabilizing the oppressive state and discontinuing the institution of private property which must be at fault because you feel alienated.  (OK, that might not be the most sympathetic interpretation of the thrust of his argument).  I'm not sure I'm on board with this particular creed, but it was helpful to work out for myself what my specific objections were.  

Chapter One: Drugs-- By now, I'm skimming and questioning whether what I am doing actually counts as "reading" to cross this banned book off my own bucket list.  Interesting acknowledgement of the paradox that drugs can numb would-be revolutionaries into complacency and should be avoided, but drugs can also lift some of the cultural constraints of one's world view and open up the possibility for exploring plausible alternatives to the status quo.  Ironic his view of utopia includes a transition into a time when no one is imprisoned for drug possession as it seems like that is what the decriminalization movement is starting to achieve.  The Pot scene has evolved dramatically since the 70's and Youtube would be a far more practical resource.  He seems to be afraid of needles.  I am not sure I have a large enough social circle to consume 15 pounds of bananas so I can render their skins into a psychedelic.  Not surprising for a 19 year old author, but curious there is very little discussion use of drugs for suicide beyond the standard cautions about overdosing, since suicide seemed to be another popular reason for banning books these days.

Chapter Two: Electronics, Sabotage, and Surveillance-- Completely skimmed this as feature-loaded smartphones and cameras have completely changed the surveillance landscape.  Shoplifting may also morph into various forms of fraud with the shift towards digital retail rather than high tailing it into a nearby mass transit hub.  I'm not sure how many pre 1964 Chevies are still in working order to hot wire (but if we got into a Season 1 of Walking Dead highway gridlock zombie apocalypse situation, that would be a handy skill to have... maybe Echo will take over the ignition for us soon).  It seems like a more developed Social Engineering section (i.e. tv series Lie to Me) could be useful and timeless to both the good guys and the baddies (although I guess we all think we are good guys).  

Chapter Three:  Natural, Nonlethal and Lethal Weapons-- I was only interested in what he had to say about air guns (apparently nothing unless they are the same as bolt action rifles) as I'm not entirely sure how deadly DH's trash panda deterrent would be if it fell into the wrong or unskilled hands.  Amusingly convenient to see that the "How to make tear gas in your basement" section is immediately followed by "Defense and medical treatment for gases."  Odd there isn't a first aid section following the knives and guns section.  

Chapter Four: Explosives and Booby Traps-- What a fun way to learn chemistry concepts.  At this point, my mind has completely wandered to the Warren Buffett documentary I watched last night and the concept of buying "cigar butts" or companies that are on the decline but if you time your purchase right, still have one good smoke left in them, as his wife summarized it.  I also got to thinking about the Drawdown book on carbon sequestration I'm concurrently reading and wondering what a great investor someone with deep macgyver-like understanding of materials science and how things work (like this applied chemistry chapter) could be at anticipating which old guard industries still have some "good smoke" of assets that would be of use to future industries.  

Postscript:  Was I the only intrigued by this Vera point system that determines whether you qualify for a summons or go to a jail until your court date?  It had me wondering about a lot of implicit race/sex/age/etc-isms built into the system and if there was a statistical basis for them.  Sure, prior record is a plausible indicator, but employment duration?  family ties?  duration in residence?  

So I think I've pretty much scratched my "banned book" subversive itch for the time being.  Hopefully I'm not on some watch list for this purchase. 


Monday, July 10, 2017

Banned Book Club: Grapes of Wrath

This one intrigued me for garnering both a Pulitzer and a ban from a county less than 200 miles away.
Lots of practical insight for Peak people facing the prospect of having to bug out here--

  1. Avoid debt, it can whittle your options down to the point where it feels like you don't have any. 
  2. Conversely, avoid running your operation strictly to maximize profits.  You'll lose the versatility of diversified sources of resources and income and have your margins squeezed by even larger, more specialized operators.  
  3. It helps to be technically savvy in whatever the transportation vehicle du jour is. 
  4. Water.  Know how to find it, purify it, transport it.  Be aware of water property rights when entering new terrain (i.e. Mojave).
  5. Air.  This came more from Ken Burns documentary, but it is interesting that a variety of natural disasters can jeopardize air quality and at the point when that becomes apparent, supplies of protective equipment sell out fast. 
  6. Sun.  Exposure could be inevitable and durable items like hats may have more utility than consumables like sunscreen you might not be able to afford.
  7. Modest procreative ambitions.  This one might not be a popular takeaway, but I was struck with how large these farm families were and how that could increase the stakes for any decision because there was always a crisis with someone they were trying to troubleshoot.
  8. But conversely, a big theme of the whole book was how resilient humans were for being able to ban together and help each other, even strangers, even if it inconvenienced us and that if we abandon this instinct, things get brutal fast.  
More generic review posted here.

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Friday, June 23, 2017


Close enough!

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   [aka mass swim starts]
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, 
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   [conservative coaches say train a year first]
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, [hopefully <= 17 hours]
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,  ["gentle rollers"]
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, [you're young/tiny, you recover faster/have a lower center of gravity/less surface area...]
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: 

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   [my favorite days are recovery days!]
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   [TP data OD]
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster 
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   [=teachable moment]
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken 
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, ["fun adventures" can mean so many things...]
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, 
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools: [pedicure calluses]

If you can make one heap of all your winnings [desk job]
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, [IMAZ]
And lose, and start again at your beginnings 
    And never breathe a word about your loss; [: x]
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew [including you, IT Band]
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   [or 140.6 miles, which ever comes first]
And so hold on when there is nothing in you 
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’ [...and a lot of Carbopro]

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   [6 bike lengths!]
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,  [tri hards]
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,  [even if they are in your age group]
    If all men count with you, but none too much; [dongs are in different age groups]
If you can fill the unforgiving minute [ 6 hours, 30 minutes?]
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   [23,400* seconds]
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son! [an Iron*man]