November 14, 2014

29

“Don’t prepare, begin.  Remember, our enemy is not the lack of preparation:  It’s not the difficulty of the project or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account.  The enemy is resistance.  The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reason why we can't/shouldn't/don’t do what we know we need to do.  Start before you're ready.”
                                                           ~Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
The most important thing in life is to be as healthy as you can.  If you are healthy, you are generally happier, less focused on your own problems, more likely to help others and expand your network of good will, which in turn makes you feel good.  It all snowballs from being healthy.

I started posting a birthday thought 2 years ago at 27.  I was not in a great place at that time.  I was just trying to get that ever crucial clean bill of health.  Most of my time was spent trying to claw my way back to feeling normal.  Then at 28, though still not a 100 percent with my running, I was gaining traction and mostly content.  My mindset shifted from focusing on injury to being grateful for what was working in my life.  It piqued an interest in not wasting energy on things I can’t control and a fear of “squandering my life away on worthless pursuits”.  At 29, today (September), I am continuing along that same line of thought: What do I want to dedicate my life to?  What legacy do I want to leave?  What is the big life plan, the purpose?  But I don’t know for certain, most people don’t.  Just keep being the best version of you so you are ready when opportunity knocks.     

I also find I am not playing as much, not having any fun.  I get too caught up in doing adult stuff, always feeling the need I have to be productive that I forget to have fun or just completely waste my life playing ont he phone.  I feel the need to become some super mountain running athlete, to train 100 miles a week and lift weights and stretch and eat right and if I miss a session why even bother?  I throw in the towel completely for a few weeks before reasoning I should get back out there.  There is certainly value in dedicating oneself to a goal and taking on the tumultuous journey, but I am slowly losing the will, the drive to be a great runner.  I continue to break down, mostly in a mental fashion, uncertain in the purpose.   I’m a slave to the watch just ticking off the minutes for the sake of getting minutes in.  I have sucked the fun out of it.  I just need to go back to playing and having fun in all aspects of life.   

I was fortunate this year to spend my birthday in America with my entire Family.  I had to fly from Austin to LA to make it all happen, but I felt like being in two major cities on my birthday was fitting given my current binge of travel.  It was actually 3 cities due to a layover in my old bagdaddy stomping grounds of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.  I had a nice steak lunch in Texas with my Aunts/Uncles/Sisters/Parents then hopped a plane to LA to see my bro and wife.  Really, the entire USA trip was amazing.  13 flights over 20 days meant I was on the go constantly, but I got to see friends and family on all corners of the country.   I’m a lucky man. 

I suspect big things (transitions?) to come in the next year.  It will be my best year ever?  I feel good, positive about it.  To keep that ball rolling I must keep my body healthy, and focus on things I do currently have on my life (gratitude).  Let my last year as a 20 something be the best yet.  (Ironically, as I post this in November my femur is aching again.  I may have stress fractured/reacted it again and my confidence is lost.  How quickly the tides change?)

Current Obsessions:

100 miles.  I set a goal after running the Old Pueblo 50 miler in 2010 to run 100 mile race before age 30.  I figured it would be a relatively easy goal given  how well I was training at the time.  That was before my downfall of injuries starting with a femoral stress fracture in October of that same year.  I just ran my second ultramarathon 4 years later in August this year at Mount Rinjani.    I now have less than 11 months to do it.  My plan is to qualify for UTMB 2015 (update November = FAILED).  This means I basically have to run two more big races before December 31st to get enough points to qualify. I will go to Eastern Java in Indonesia at the start of November to run BTS Ultra (dropped to 30km so will fail to qualify) and do the Duncan’s Run on the east coast at the end of December.  Of course, if I fail to finish either, I’m out of UTMB.  And even if I do finish and get the qualifying points, I still have to win the lottery to get in.  So if UTMB doesn't pan out, I will look at a few other 100 mile foot races next year preferably one that falls on this list of Hardrock 100 Qualifying 100 mile races.

South Africa.  The reticular activating system in the brain shows that when you see something once, you start noticing it everywhere.  Like if you buy a Toyota car, you start noticing everyone Toyota in every carpark and on the street.  Or if you meet someone from South Africa, you start noticing every connection to South Africa.  I met a mixed race girl born in South Africa that told me about her father taking her into the “white” toilet because there was no bathroom for mixed race.  Her dad died soon thereafter and her mom couldn't raise her because of the social pressure of a black woman raising a mixed race child.  She is my age so it’s crazy to think that in 1994 this was still a major problem.  For an outsider who knows little about the country’s history, the story sheds light on the magnitude of Nelson Mandela’s Mission who died last December.  The other link to South Africa for me has been the mining industry.  During the apartheid years of the 70-80-90’s, there was a trade embargo by most countries towards South Africa.  This drove innovation across all sectors, especially the expansive South African mining industry.  Many of the mine managers across Australia are South African.  I just found out that a regular visitor at work spent 30 years working in the South African Mining Industry.  He told me he runs a lot but has slowed down in his older age.  I asked if  of Comrades Marathon.  He ran it 7 times.  He told me it was one of the greatest experiences of his life – Ten Thousand People running 56 miles from Durban to Capetown with spectators lining the entire course (I believe now it has 20,000 runners).  But the Two Oceans is more beautiful he went on to tell.  I looked into entered that afternoon…Entries are still open.  Finally, the most beautiful girl I talked to was from South Africa.  I met her on the street in Ubud Bali in April this year.  But I played it “cool” and never got her name or contact info.  Maybe she will enter comrades next year?

Voluntary  Poverty.  Kevin Kelly mentioned it in a podcast.  I have been living a "Voluntary Poverty" lifestyle for some time choosing to ruthlessly cut spending in areas of little value to me and lavishly on things I get satisfaction from (experiences).  I've hacked my living situation for the past 3 years so I could money that would go to rent on airline tickets or tanks of gas for my Hyundai.  I can’t even get a credit card in Australia because I have no bill paying history: No water or electricity and my cell phone is pre-paid, no contract.  If I got laid off tomorrow, my lifestyle wouldn't change.  I would just keep bumming around in national forests, grilling prawns over open flame, doing a long trail runs in the morning, charging my camera/laptop at the library and cruise down tot he beach or a yoga class for the side benefit of a shower.

Time.  It’s flying by.  Too fast.  I waste a lot of time messing around to hack my living situation so I do not have pay rent (see above: voluntary poverty).  I am starting to realize I could save a lot of time if I had a fixed place to live and to shower and to store perishable goods.  There will be a cost associated in the regular rent check, but it would save time.  I am getting to the point as people do when I am beginning to have more money than time.  A cash strapped student may find it more reasonable to do menial tasks than to pay someone to do it: change the oil in his own car, or do his own taxes, or true his own bike wheel.  I will continue do these things as I see fit but I find myself second guessing menial which I could pay small sums of money in exchange for a few hours of time to do what I really want to.   

Podcasts.  I have been listening to many, almost too many.  The content is often so good and actionable that I just keep consuming more and more without any action.  I just end up writing down all the book recommendations or resources they give without taking real action to make my life better.  Nevertheless, Kevin Kelly on Tim Ferriss and Lewis Howes, Nassim Taleb on James Altucher, the Hardcore History podcast, the Dirtbag Diaries podcast and Rolf Potts on Tim Ferriss.  

Nassim Taleb.  I will be working through some of his great books and papers soon.  He sounds like a brilliant and philosophical man.  And he is Lebanese, reads/writes like 5 languages, and keeps a Philosophical Notebook so that makes him a cool guy.      

Wizard Beards.  I wish I never trimmed my beard in August.  I trimmed it before going to the USA.  I wish I would have cut my hair instead.  But now is time to start growing the wizard beard again…or do a Kevin Kelly Amish beard. 

Deep Work and Killing the Passion Hypothesis.  I am still really bad at this but at least I am aware of how much time I waste on menial tasks.  One of my favourite reads this past year was Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You.  In it he kills the passion hypothesis instead arguing that you should get really good at something first because it will lead to more life happiness and fulfilment.  Also, this article from Ryan Holiday crushes the passion hypothesis.  Passion is Not the Problem

Indonesia.  To think that I couldn't place Indonesia on the Map before I moved to Australia three years ago is absurd.  They just elected a new president, Joko Widodo, Read A New Hope in Time Magazine.  It is the 4th most populous country in the world at 253 million, 90% of the population is Muslim, 13500 islands (17000+ at low tide), 4th most Facebook users, and the middle class is emerging as people living below the poverty level has dropped from 24% in 1999 to 12% in 2012.  I enjoy going to Indo.  My dollar goes a long way, the people are friendly and extroverted, the culture is still bizarre (in a good way) to an American like me, and the mountains are beautiful.  I have run some fantastic trail ultra-marathons in the past 3 months.  It is an up and coming hotbed for trail running.  They have a few race directing wizards devising some epic trail races.  Their latest masterpiece is the GP100: 100km with +10,000m vertical gain.   I did the Mount Rinjani Ultra in August and it was probably the best single day in the mountains I have had.  And the Sunrise was THE BEST I have experienced.

http://youtu.be/RBRZzkah3JM


A life of adventure.  #dontwasteyourlife.  Some of my favourite books are about men who lead adventurous lives.  Where Men Win Glory, Into the Wild, Unbroken, Roughing It, Steve Jobs, anything by Jack London and currently Shantaram are a few good books that come to mind that reinforces my desire to lead an interesting life and experience all the world has to offer. “Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.  That’s the whole point- figure out by doing.  So none of this nonsense about being ready”  ~Austin Kleon.

Jack London.  I read Call of the Wild and loved it.  The Game and to Light a Fire also.  But I recently enjoyed reading series of articles about the life and man that was Jack London.  He never stayed in one field too long and had wide experiences.  The adventurous life is there if you want it. 

Appreciating Good Work.  I have been consuming some great creative works such as Shantaram (43 hour audiobook) or the Searching for Sugar Man documentary (see South Africa above).  I appreciate great creatives and their work more as I get older.  In my adult life, I find it so hard to focus and actually do real work, even for 15 minutes a day.  I’m flooded with meetings and interruptions and distraction from the web and email and smartphones.  Then of course doubt and wanderlust and mental sidetracking  enter the picture.  I respect anyone who can push away distractions and eliminate things from their life to make great stuff.  See Jack London, Shantaram, Steve jobs. 

Notebooks (commonplace books).  I have one for travel, one next to bedside and one at work.  Always cheap notebooks, A4 or A5 size (preferably A5 for compactness).  I always lose notes on my phone or computer.  So rather than scatted all over the place in different digital compartments, notebooks neatly compile everything in one place which allows me to easily review my notes a few quick flips of the page.

Good Reads.  Not elementary, easy to consume internet top “10 lists” or “how to live” articles.  There are too many good books to read and  not enough time.  Don't waste more time than you need to on the phone/internet. I know it is addicting.  Kevin Kelly he takes a disconnected day once per week not because phones and tablets are bad for us but because they are so good.  It makes you appreciate how great the technology is.  I think social networks are great, especially for hyper nomadic modern men like myself, but I don’t fully utilize it and end up wasting my life with them instead. 

Digital Trail.  I have been thinking about building a more serious webpage, a landing page for my life.  This blog is a nice record, but I want to add some other elements in to display and archive photography, gear lists, book notes, travel tips and logs…etc

Photography.  I have been to so many amazing and exotic places but I still feel like I am not capturing the essence very well with my photos (or written word).  I am always so goal oriented, to see as many places as possible as fast as possible and as cheaply as possible that I don’t take time to truly take in a place.  I rush the photographic process and feel awkward taking pictures with a million other tourists all taking the same picture.  I’d like to move my photographic output towards local people vs. landscape.  Taking photos of people adds that uncomfortable element of human interaction, especially with people groups with mysterious customs.  If nothing else it will force me to have uncomfortable conversations.

Time.  And not wasting it.  See above: On Wasting Life and Time

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Very late posting this.  Should have went out in September but I have been a busy busy boy.  

Picture is from my recent trip to Java Indonesia, Borobudur Temple.  

July 8, 2014

June 2014

“They just feel like stuff is supposed to happen to them,” he said. “They're not going to have to work for it. And that bugs me because I know how hard I had to work to get where I got. Sometimes they sit there in amazement at why I come out here every day. But I cannot let their way of thinking into my head.”  Tony Gwynn
Perth Marathon.  After a successful 12kmrun at HBF Run for a Reason during the last Sunday in May, I decided to tick the box on doing a marathon in Australia while my running was going well.  My original plan was to give a “good effort” to use a training run for the target race of the season, the Ultra Tour of Mt. Rinjani in August.  I figured 3 hours would be about right.  I would plan to run a comfortable 1:30 first Half, then a harder whatever I had 1:20-1:25 2nd half.  But I got excited and emotional and ended up coming through halfway rather comfortably in 1:19 with a group of 4 guys running together.  Shortly after halfway, I started to spiral into the pain cave.  My legs and back were so tight and out of whack that my shorts twisted to one side causing me to re-adjust every couple kilometres.  Then my joints- knees/hips- started to heat up with 15km to go.  I kept shortening my stride, increasing turnover to reduce the pain whilst maintaining a 2:40 marathon pace.  The crowd spurred me on the last 5 km allowing me to maintain a respectable 4 minutes per kilometer but I fell short of even splitting.  2:42 final time. 

Dissappointed I did not negative split.  Dissappointed I did not have the legs to run 2:40.  Dissappointed I needed 3 weeks to not feel pain in my knee for 3 weeks after.  Glad I didn’t snap in half or sustain serious injury.  Annoyed that I lost 3 weeks of training for Rinjani.  Relieved my engine (breathing) felt comfortable at that pace.  Happy with the effort.  Content with the time.  Satisfied I can use the learnings from this race to continue to understand my biomechanical issues.  Optimistic about my running future.  Hoping I survive RInjani without injury.    

The Perth Marathon is a beautiful race and spectator friendly as it completes two out and backs.  One could argue that it is boring, but I personally enjoyed the crowd support as the other two marathons I have run only had spectators at the finish line.  I couldn't get over how beautiful the day was for a wintery July afternoon.  The city glowed across the Swan River as I watched the awards ceremony.  My buddy Gerry PR’d by 5 minutes to take 2nd place.  I talked to Ethiopian woman who dropped at 41 km but still really happy.  One guy I ran with through halfway (1:19) ended up running  a nice  negative split 2:34 for a PR.  I took out my tent afterwards to rest a few hours before the awards ceremony.  People thought i had slept there the night before in the pouring rain.  No, not there, but 30 minutes away.  I lounged around there watching  the mid-packers drift on by from my temporary camp site for the afternoon.  These people inspire me. 

Running  for Rinjani.  The first two weeks of June were by far the best few weeks of running I have done in 2014.  Then I ran the Perth marathon on June 15th and that forced me to write off the remainder of the month.  I could hardly walk because of knee pain.  The physio at work looked at my quad flexibility and wondered how I could even run, let alone run a marathon.  Now, 3 weeks later and a lot of quad stretching and agonizing lacrosse ball massage, the knee feels better.  I just ran 15 km today but do not feel like I will have enough time to properly train for Rinjani as I leave August 3rd.  I might just have to walk/hike/survive the 52km torture course.
 
Reading.  Art of learning, the Snow Leopard, The Obstacle is the Way.  All good books but the Snow Leopard resonated with me the most.  I listened to this classic as read by the author, 95 year old Peter Matthiessen, as he recounted the story over 40 years earlier in the Snowy Himalayas.  This adventure narrative reminds me of one of my favourites, the Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway.  It makes me want to do an epic adventure of some sort, and write a story about it.  If I were to write a book, this would be the style I would go for.    

Learning.  I did a knife making course and a intro level kayaking course in June.  I bought a new camera so I can take some pictures.  The knifemaking was a lot of fun because it encompasses so many different skills- forging, grinding, polishing, woodworking, heat treating- and it renewed my joy for building stuff.  The kayaking course was mainly a stepping stone to start training for the avon descent in August but I have since decided it is just not a possibility with my schedule and lack of anywhere to put a a kayak.    Lots of other things to learn this year- surfing, sailing, spear fishing are a few that come to mind.    

Good Article on Tony Gwynn:

June 12, 2014

May 2014





"The sense of having one's needs at hand, of travelling light, brings with it intense energy and exhilaration.  Simplicity is the whole secret of well being."

~ Peter Matthiessen (The Snow Leopard) on the mental relaxation of carrying everything you need for 2 weeks on your own back and not relying on porters. 







My best month in a long time running wise.  I determined I have a 7mm ganglion in my knee that has been causing knee pain since december.  I thought it was a sprained or torn meniscus so i believe this is somewhat good news.  Upon hearing that, I put the hammer down and tried to push though the aches.  I believe and hope that the altered mechanics from the knee cyst have been the cause of my weird shin/calf pain the past 2.5 years.  I still don't know yet.  I jumped in a 12km race here in Perth.  It was a fast course with favorable wind direction.  I placed 14th in 39:58.  I thought that was a fast time for my fitness and zero work under 7 minute mile pace the past 4 months.  But was surprised how fast some guys ran. I am reminded again, as I was during college, that there are a lot of good runners out there.  This is partly the reason I gravitate towards mountain and trail running as it thoughs another skill set into the equation to make it more challenging.

I took out the old Nathan running pack twice in May.  Once for aa epic 3 hour run on the Bibbulmun Track up and over Mount Cooke on my drive back to Perth from site.  My knee and shin hurt the first hour, then the pain dissipated.  I ran into a few groups on the trail that were suprised to see a guy running out there, alone, and so far away from bitumen.  It reminds me how much of a treat it is to be able to go out for 22 miles in the backcountry with nothing but some water and a chocolate bar.  Keep it slow, keep building, be conservative.  That is my philosophy right now-  Just make it to Mount Rinjani healthy and happy.    

Another slow month for me reading wise.  I nearly knocked off Mastery by Robert Greene.  I started the Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday.  I started listening to a classic which I have never read: The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen (who recently died at age 95).  It's narrative reminds me of Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway which is one of my favorite audiobooks/books.    

Not a lot of travel either in May.  I kept it local in the Perth Area with one company paid for week in a city apartment.Corporate life is so cruisy it feels morally wrong.  

There is so much great content out there and I consumed way too much of last month especially.  I'd much rather be creating more rather than consuming.  I'd rather be ticking off projects like building my own website, learning Python, finally finishing my borneo video, playing the guitar, or writing, or anything...  But instead I sit on the phone for hours each day consuming silly top 10 lists and how to live articles.  I should just live, more.  

Having said that, there is so much inspirational and good content out on the web that it is hard to follow everything cool, useful and interesting.  Here are a few of my favorites in May:


Derek Sivers:  Meaning of Life Derek Sivers: The meaning of Life


May 2, 2014

April 2014



April went really fast.  I keep saying that every month, but its true.  I have to get busy living.  So many great books to read, places to see, people to help, races to run, and so many new things to learn.  Lets Do it.

Travel.  I had a pretty good run this month.  I travelled down to the Southwest of Australia on a road trip for some camping and salmon fishing.  I was buzzing with excitement when reeled in my first salmon with my 35 dollar rod off Shelly Beach in Albany.  We cooked it up immediately with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Life doesn't get much better than that.

For my second swing off of the month, I took a trip to Bali Indonesia.  The balinese are just saints.  The people are so friendly and smile all the time.  I am starting to learn a few more Indonesian words and understand the people.  I was always perplexed and somewhat annoyed at how personal the questions are when you meet someone for the first time.  Where are you from?  What are you going?  Are you married?  etc.  I thought they were just talking to me because they knew i was a tourist and wanted my money.  It turns out it is their way of greeting a stranger and making conversation.  The other person is supposed to show the same interest and ask similar questions.  Anyway, the main reason for going to Bali was to take a wilderness first responder course.  I have wanted to take the course for a few years so just bit the bullet and went for it.  I am not sure how useful the information will be, but it is good knowledge to have.  I just like learning new stuff.

Running in Bali was Fun.  I put a lot of kilometers on the beautiful Champuan Ridge outside of Ubud.  However, I took one off chute and ended up at a pavillion in the middle of a rice field.  There were 4 half naked athletic looking girls standing outside.  It was a Meditation and Hula Hoop Retreat.  There were 150 girls inside each performing for the group.  I only managed 17 minutes on the run that day.  Do you Hoop?

Books.  Really Bad Month.  I basically did not read anything this month.  Played on the phone a lot, listened to a lot of podcasts, and consumed other types of media but not much reading.  Fighting now to get back in the rhythm of things.      

Training.  I have been getting into the weight room a bit more since the start of April.  I am trying to get some leg strength and resiliancy back.  I will keep it up hard for the next 3 months and see if it translates to better running performance.  Experience tells me it will

Looking Forward.  Heading to USA in September.  Next time I get on a plane will be August when i take part in the http://mtrinjaniultra.com/  .  I have 98 days to train.  Apparently it is really hard.  At least the is what the guy who summited MOUNT EVEREST told me.  It took him 3 days to complete the course and he said insane.  Ahh yep, 52km, 5100m vertical gain.  I must say though this is the first time I said hell yea to anything in about a year.  I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to do silly things like this.

Photo is...I dont really know.  I just picked a random one.  It's from Bali though.

April 8, 2014

March 2014


March was a pretty stale month for me.  No exotic international trips.  Just going back and forth to perth every other week.  No major progress on my reading goals.  Just felt busy.

I did have some training in Perth for work so I got to stay in a hotel for 7 days and got meals paid for.  My moral barometer showed signs of impending storms as I was staying in a 230 dollar per night room.  The family of 4 I stayed with in Indonesian lived off 300 dollars per month.

The city life is extremely easy: show up at 8, get off at 4, run in beautiful kings park with many other fit people, corporate office coffee machines and kitchens and dressing nicely.   But city life is so distracting.  Always some one to meet or getting stuck in traffic and never feeling like I am contributing to the process of making metal.  I think I prefer the simply mining life.

April should be fun.  We'll see

Photo is Claisebrook Train Station.  Perth.  

March 6, 2014

February 2014



February went really quick.  I was away in Jakarta the first few days of the month, then went to work for 8 days, then went to japan for 8 days, then worked for 9 days, and finished out the last two days of the month in Perth getting back to basics.  So I did not accomplish much except Travelling. 

Japan is a world class travel destination.  I feel like I would recommend it over anywhere I have been.  Anywhere.  I have been to Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and most of Australia since moving here in 2.5 years ago.  I have been to Europe and Alaska and Mexico.  Culturally, japan surpasses them all.  The people are so kind and humble.  It is tourist friendly with excellent train infrastructure, a variety of accommodation (traditional inns, capsule hotels, hostels, homestays), and there is something for everyone- mountains, cities, food, nuclear fallout. 

Books.  I read many books this month mostly on the way to Japan and back.  I kept the learning theme going with The Talent Code, the first 20 hours and started Mastery.  I read racing weight by Matt Fitzgerald because I am up a few kilos due to injury and sedentary lifestyle.  And I am currently listening to the audio version of Quiet.  I really enjoy all of these, especially Quiet because it is explaining a lot about my introverted self and how its not so bad to be an introvert and embrace it. 

Since I have read several books this year on skill acquisition and learning and being the best, I am starting to see how they all start saying the same thing.  The concept of deliberate practice or deep work is in all of them: Talent Code, First 20 hours, Mastery, Quiet, and So Good They Can’t Ignore You.  They all reference various brain and psychology studies (10000 hour rule) which leads me to believe that the ever growing field of neuroscience is going to have a lot of attention on it in coming years.  So if you want to learn what it takes be talented or learned or be the best, I would read So Good They Can’t Ignore You.  I like the logical, step by step layout of the book and the ability to tie all the concepts in as the book progresses.  The only thing lacking is the description of what happens to the brain when you do deep work (myelin) which Daniel Coyle does so well in the Talent Code.   

Future reading.  I want to finish off my theme on learning with The Art of Learning to move onto biographies and outdoor literature.  I re-read my notes on Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand because I just saw the movie trailer.  That book is epic and a must read for anyone before the movie comes out.  I haven’t read a great deal of biographies but Where Men Win Glory is my favourite with Unbroken a close second.  I want to get back into the bios.     

Future Travels.  I am going to shut it down for a while.  My knee hurts still so I am going to take of it and see if I can get back on the ball training.  It would be fun to do the Mount Fuji run in July and Kinabalu in October and Kepler in December but I am doubtful I will get back on track anytime soon.  I might do a trip to Bali or Lombok at some point because its close and cheap.  Who knows though?  I just need to live the moment.   

And Going to stop consuming so much internet stuff and start playing more and using my hands.  Being injured doesn’t help but maybe I am injured because I am not moving enough?


Japan Packing Video: Feb 2014

February 6, 2014

Jakarta Gear Video January 2014

January 2014


Welp, 2014 is already 10 percent down.  The year is flying by and I was hoping to have some better traction on my goals for this year and for life in general.  I have been thinking about where I want to be in 5 years and what seeds I should start sowing now to get there.  5 years will be here sooner than I think, what person will I become?

If I want to be a good guitar player or photographer or writer or entrepreneur or drill and blast engineer in 5 years (or glassblower, treehouse maker, expat tax law guru, runner, cabin designer…) what can I do now to get there?  I can do the big obvious things rather easily.  I can take a few guitar lessons, or a photo course, or join a writing workshop or take a course on starting a business or attend a blasting conference.  All of which are good places to start, even a necessity. 

But in my experience, mind numbing consistency always wins out. 

I had the privilege of working with one of the world leading consultants in my industry during an audit of our site.  I was in my first year of real work so even though I had no idea what I was doing, I was smart enough to ask him for his advice about my career.  “Simple.  Just read a technical paper or book on mining for 30 minuts every day and in 5 years you will be an expert- one of the best in the world.”  It’s funny thinking about it now because that was exactly 5 years ago.  Where would I be today if I actually heeded that advice?  It isn’t fun or sexy, but it never is when trying to be the best.   

Maybe the best thing to do is just to write, or pick up a guitar, or take photos.  Do the thing you want to be good at, do it daily for 15 or 30 minutes, and in a few years you might be the best (Male, Engineer, under the Age of 30, living in western Australia, but born in America, that has a beard).


Learning New Stuff.  I have been busy planning for trips and travelling to get any consistency in.  It is difficult when you move around all the time.  It is a barrier to practicing that will be difficult to remove unless I get a permanent residence.  For now I will do my best with what I got. 

Bible in a Year.  I downloaded a $1.99 Kindle bible that sorts everything for you by day.  2 chapters of Old testament, a bit of psalms, a bit of proverbs, and 1 chapter of new testament.  It takes about 15 minutes to knock out a days reading.  I am still on track with this one but without the neatly organized and easy to use kindle book, it would be a bigger chore.  In other words, the system I have in place eliminates some of the barriers to completing the task.  February 6th verse Exodus 23:4 If you meet your enemy’s ox or donkey going astray, you shall surely  bring it back to him…

Reading books.  I wanted to read 50 books this year with my own outline and/notes on each.  I am only at about 4 so far.  I’m falling behind a bit.  Once again he kindle simplifies this chore dramatically in cost and time.   My sister gave me about a 1000 kindle books on CD plus I have a bunch already.  And not to mention paper and audio books I have accumulated over the years.  Here is what I have read so far in 2014…

The Grand Weaver by Ravi Zacharias.  I get anxious about where I am going and what I am doing with my life.  This book eased those tensions a bit.  But I mainly picked it up because I really admire Ravi as a man.  He has led an incredible life and I happened to see him speak at College.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport.  This may be the most important book I read all year.  I won’t do the book justice but I will give you a brief idea of what it is about and what I took from it in a few sentences.  There is a common idea that to be happy in life you must follow your passion.  Cal dispels that myth with various case studies of people are happy with their lives and careers as a result of being really good at a rare and valuable skill- what he calls career capital.  First you get good at something, then as a result of being really good at something you get autonomy and the ability to use that rare skill to work towards your life mission, whatever that may be.  Another concept that alone justifies the cost of the book is deep work.  Check out his blog study hacks for more.  And I promise to publish some notes.  It will be a 
February goal. 

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary V.  I flicked through this one rather quickly and only got half way through because it doesn't really apply to my life...Actually it does because I just got a new Smartphone and there are 323 million mobile phone subscriptions in the USA alone.  Mobile will rule the world.  The book is about social media marketing and how to promote your products on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest.  There are some really interesting case studies to review.  “If you want to talk to people while they consume their entertainment, you actually have to be their entertainment…” 

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Audiobook).  I finally downloaded this one as it has been recommended by Tim Ferris.  Audio books work well for me because I drive quite a bit back and forth to site.  The book is about a boy who grows up in the graveyard which sounds boring but the performance put on by the Author as he reads  and the imagination to write such a book is quite impressive.  I couldn’t take the headphones out the last two hours.    

Upcoming Books: Currently reading The First 20 Hours by Josh Kaufman on learning new skills.  Might start working through The Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett to work on my mobility and flexibility.  The Talent Code, Guns Germs and Steel, the Art of Learning.  I kind of have a learning theme going.  But I feel like I need to get back to some more fun books- like adventure travel, novels, biographies.  Too many how to or business type books that have great ideas but I never actually apply the principles so they become wasted effort.    

Jakarta.  My only travel in January but a good one.  I stayed with my friends at their siblings house.  I love the high regard for family people have in Indonesia.  4 generations live within 3 minutes walk of eachother.  We had 9 people sleeping on couches and floors in the small two bedroom house with one bathroom.  They ask me what Australia is like to which I replied quiet.  Jakarta itself is not much of tourist place.  Just a big city---but I have a feeling there is more to it than that.  Little kids were scared of me because I had a beard.  Indonesians are very upfront.  They introduce people like hey zach, this is my fat friend suzie.  They tell you if you look fat or ugly or smell bad or if they think you are attractive…Jakarta is very different than Bali.  All Indonesians are incredible muscians.  I want to watch Jalalanan movie… 

Upcoming travel.  Japan in 5 days.  New Zealand in March maybe…

Running.  Still going terribly bad. 

Podcasts and consuming too much.  There is so much info out there.  Recently, I have been listening to so many different podcasts at work.  Podcasts seem to be the big thing now.  Running Podcasts like talk ultra and marathon talk, School of Greatness,  this American life, James Altucher, Bryan Callen…So much to take in.  I don’t get why people need TV anymore and people always ask me how I live without one.  Because there is endless stuff on the internet that is better and without ads and can be watched at any time other than 8-9 o’clock in the evening.


Ok.  That’s it.

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Picture is of the flooding in Jakarta.  We had to trudge through water to get to the main road (taxi/bus) from where I was staying.    

January 6, 2014

2013 HumbleBraggery (Travel) Year in Review

I just reviewed my #2012 travel year in review post.  If for no other reason, this blog is worthwhile for the simple fact that I can review trips.  2012 was characterized by a lot of travel within Australia and not much running due to ongoing injuries and health issues.  2013 was much the same with travel abroad and a slight upturn in running.  However, I wrapped up the year hobbling around with a sprained or partially torn meniscus.  So my running nightmare continues into 2014.  I did manage a few bouts of spectacular training in the Perth Hills during winter/spring and a finish at the Climbathon# for the second year in a row.
 
Last year I spoke about the revolving door of people in my life.  That is still true but I am starting gain a more consistent group to meet with in Perth (non-runners since I still am not going strong).  I reduced the amount of short camping trips outside of Perth to instead spend that time in town, with people.  I feel like I have seen of enough the southern beauty of Margaret River, Albany, Esperance, and Pemberton...etc.  And most of the North with a trip to Karijini National park still outstanding.  So I am finding it more valuable to stay put near the city opting to get on an airplane to go somewhere when I feel the itch.  I will continue this trend in 2014. 

So here is the list in chronological order of notable trips I have taken in 2013:  

Southbound.  I once again attended to the annual camping, music and arts festival down in Busselton.  It was a fun time but I feel I am getting a bit old for it or maybe I just don’t like being penned up in a place for 2 days?  The highlight was an intimate, impromptu acoustic session by First Aid Kit at 1am in front of 20 lucky fans. 
  
Tasmania.  What can I say, I loved it.  Better known to me as the West Virginia of Australia, Tasmanians are friendly, quirky, and love the great outdoors.  I spent the entire week in a rental car camping out everywhere I could, running every trail I could.  I got two, yes two!, flat tires at the same time and was stranded on a dirt road in backwater Tasmania.  I had no cell phone coverage so I had to walk towards the next paved road some 7kms away.  I knocked on a dilapidated door and hitched a ride to the town Triabunna where the local pub allows people to pitch tents in their backyard.  I huddled up there for two nights while doing a day trip to Maria Island which proved to be a real gem with dolphins jumping next to the ferry on the way over.  It should be noted that 40% of Tasmania is protected wilderness with a ridiculous roadless chunk covering almost the entire southwest.  The Western Arthurs Traverse and Franklin River have therefore been added to my Bucket List.       

Family Visit.   My mom and sister came to visit.  We had one week to see everything we could and I think we did a very good job.  We headed down south stopping in Margaret River, Pemberton, through to Albany, toured the mine site in a few days.  The remaining days were spent in the Perth Area with the highlight being Rottnest Island.  I have to say riding bikes around Rottnest Island is the best activity you can do in Perth.  It was good to have the family here over Easter and have a big dinner with friends.
   
Singapore.  I spent the entire week staying in one place which is uncommon for me.  The gap year hostel run by Dennis and Jerrlyn felt like a natural fit.  Max, a guy from Malaysia living out the “Gap” and I discussed life, girls, and our dumbest mistakes to each other late into the evenings.  People in general are interested to get the American’s Perspective on most things, but unfortunately they tend to follow American news and politics more than I do.  Singapore is a very western type city as far as the internationalism and the fast paced business world is concerned.  However, it is so diverse and the hawker centres are amazing for their food selection.  Basically, you just get into the longest line and you will be guaranteed a good meal.  Singaporeans love their food.  A typical meal costs about 5 dollars, which is at least double any other south east Asian city but still a bargain for me.  The highlight of my trip was doing some mountain biking on Palau Ubin, an island off the coast of Singapore.  That, or running around the city at night with the Frenchman from my hostel.  Singapore has one of the best skylines in the world at night.  But I didn’t take any pictures…
   
Melbourne.  My buddy from college the Dirty Dar was there for work so I shot over for the weekend.  We forgot to take a picture together so the best one I have is of the Melbourne library.  We are pretty awesome.  It was great to catch up to share a few drinks and hot chocolates all over Melbourne and St. Kilda and the infamous Nunnery hostel.  I snuck out to the Dandenong Range do some running and hiking which turned out to be a pleasant a short train ride from the city. 

Home.  I did my annual 3 week trip back to the USA in August.  I felt like an outsider this time, as if I am more accustomed to Australian custom these days.  I spent the first few days in LA with my brother.  I did a fair bit of running Baldwin Hills Park running repeats from bottom to top.  I like the people and the encouragement that goes on there.  I also like the beach culture near Venice and Santa Monica.  You wouldn’t get characters like that on the Australia beach scene.  I then went back east to Pittsburgh to surprise my mom for her 60th birthday, did a road trip to North Carolina with my sister and saw Aussie-Americans Running Store owners, and sent my little sister off to Turkey.  It all went by really fast so I am looking forward to the next trip back. 

Borneo: Malaysia/Brunei.  I really nailed this trip.  I met so many interesting people which made the experience remarkable.  I can hardly remember them all because it seemed like every new town I landed in (and there were many) I seemed to run into incredible people and share the sites with them.  I exchanged running war stories with the global crowd at the Climbathon race, spent a day being chauffeured around mysterious Brunei with people I met on the ferry (now good friends), experienced World Heritage listed Mulu National Park with the Irish, and cheered for the home soccer team with most interesting set of Backpackers in the surprisingly chill city of Kuching.  I really need to write a report or post a video to do this trip justice.  11 days jammed packed with adventure and people.  Kota Kinabalu to Kinabalu Park for the Climbathon race, then hopped a ferry to the sultan country of Brunei with is loaded with oil money, then bussed it to the transient oil town of Miri, flew a prop plane to the Limestone caves of Mulu National Park, another prop plane to Kuching to finish off the last 3 days of the trip partying with backpackers and locals, and watching the goofy Orang-utans and running up Mount Suntoberg at Fastest Known Time speeds. 

Bali.  I officially became a West Australian in November.  Bali is a west Australian playground.  It is cheaper to fly there than Melbourne or Sydney.  I can’t say I really enjoyed it but did have one awesome day walking around the villages.    

Perth Hills.  This isn’t a real destination but I spent a significant time here this year.  I love the trails and the feel of the region, especially during winter when the water falls are in full force.  Most People don’t travel here because it is about 40 minutes’ drive inland from the coast.  I don’t understand it because people choose to live in cookie cutter suburbs on flat land when they could live in a unique neighbourhood in the hills.  To each his own.    

2014.  My travel plans are set thru March with trips planned to Jakarta, Kyoto, and North Island New Zealand.  I am still working out the logistics after march but intended to do my annual 3 week trip home to the USA, Northern India to visit Brother Athang’s School (pictured above), and another trip to Bali/Komodo?.  My running still is not going so great so I don’t want to make any promises but I would love to do the Climbathon in Malaysia in October for a 3rd straight year, the Kepler 60km ultra in New Zealand in December, Mount Fuji in June would be a life list event, and have toyed with the idea of doing a stage race in Nepal.  If I had the chance to do just one of those 4 events, I would be more than satisfied.  But I really just need to use 2014 to build up again.  2015 I will target 100 mile race……….YEA YEA YEA… 

2014 goals.  Secret.

I wish I would have written more, took better pictures, and shared the adventures with people.  I did however manage to somewhat succeed at taking a picture a day for 2013 (still need to update that blog).  I really fell off the ball in November and December because I thought it was a dumb undertaking.  And It was for the most part since I did not spend much time trying to actually improve my photography skills, but quickly flipping through every picture last weekend allowed me to relive the entire year in 5 minutes.  I liked it so much I decided to do it again in 2014.  Take one snapshot that epitomizes the day.  I upgraded phone so I can now take pictures on the phone which will greatly simplify the undertaking.

Favorites of 2013:

Movie: Lincoln (only other movies I can remember watching were: Annie Hall, Cloud Atlas, and Man of Steel).

Book: Choose Yourself by James Altucher.  A big reason why I have started to revaluate my routine during the second half of 2013 and refocus on intentionally living. 

Song: Wally Wider or the Ballad of Speck and Pebble by Delicate Steve (xcmcvey recommendation)

TV: Game of Thrones (all three seasons watched).  Crazy and morally bankrupt show but I can’t imagine the amount of work and dollars that has gone into making it.  Epic.     

I promise to Blog more in 2014…

Bye

Pictures aren't working now...so I will update in a few days