March 9, 2015

Burmese Dreams

A Vacay video I slammed together of my short trip to Myanmar in Feb 2015.

February 1, 2015

2014 Humblebraggery Travel Year in Review

On the application for Australian Residency, they ask for a list of every country you have been in the last 10 years including the exact dates.  Using an obligatory excel spreadsheet to conquer the task, I was surprised how I quietly racked up an impressive list of destinations and duration in foreign lands.  I didn't really start travelling globally until 2010, age 25, when I went to Europe on a 10 day blitz.  Since then, its been non stop.   

2014 was my most nomadic year yet. 

I travelled to Indonesia 5 times.  I spent more time in Indonesia than America this year.  I speak better Bahasa than Spanish (5 years study in high school).  I feel about 1/64 Indonesian.      

I ticked off two new countries for 2014, which also happen to be world class destinations:  Japan and New Zealand.  Tokyo is ridiculously clean and efficient.  The south island is an outdoor wonderland.

And my obligatory trip back to the USA.  3 weeks of continuous movement visiting 6 great American cities: Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Dallas, Austin, and iconic Elko Nevada. 

I explored Australia’s southwest again and again and again.  The most under-rated, serene place in the Australia?  The world?

35 Flight Legs = Super tight psoas muscles = ridiculous injury rate = questioning my sleep deprived travel habits

I slept (aka laid awake for hours on hard floors) at airports. I showered at airports.  I know the best toilets to use and the places to go run and the lockers to put my belongings.  Embrace the long layover.

Numbers and stats aside, I met so many great people who literally made the destinations memorable. Without them, every single trip would have had far less meaning.  Quite simply, the majority of the travel memories are People related vs. site/scene/guidebook hotspot.

I feel like I missed out on some locally sourced fun and friends here in Western Australia.  And I am not the most well rested person now…but I have had 2 months off and ready to go to Myanmar in February.  2015 adventures start.

2014 Travels in chronological order: 

Jakarta, Indonesia.  Population:  lots, Traffic: Sucks, 4 hours to cover 50 km.  Jakarta isn't too high on my list of places I want to visit.  I had a reason to be there- having no responsibility or obligation to anyone or anything, this was a chance to surprise a friend for her Birthday.   I got to stay with her family and experience life as a local battling J-town’s smog, people, flood waters and traffic.  It is always quite refreshing to see four generations all living in the same small neighbourhood.  Family and friends are important.   Apparently January is the wet season in Indonesia.  I learned that as I waded through a flooded side street from Linda’s family house to catch the DAMRI bus.  There are a lot of big malls too.  That is the thing to do: go to malls and drink JCo coffee.  The park in the middle of Jakarta is fun.   

Japan.  Season- winter, Pre-emptive Planning- none except 7 days Japanese Rail Pass, Time – 7 days but wish I had 3 weeks.  Japan is an easy place to recommend for travel.  People, food, culture, transportation infrastructure and cleanliness make it an unassuming, yet enriching experience.  I was stranded in Nagano because snow bombarded the rail line.  Luckily, I met a Japanese woman who navigated language barriers.  She took me out to eat some Ramen at a place I would never venture into alone.  Apparently, you are supposed to slurp and suck the ramen down loudly.  The guy next to me was so ferocious in his execution that I could not stop laughing.  I regained my composure and tried my hardest to match his pitch and timbre but failed.  Hopefully, I will get back there to try again.  I have to mention capsule hotels.  They are basically a 3 ft x 3ft hole in the wall 6 ft deep.  They have a curtain for privacy and a mini tv (I caught up on Olympic Games coverage of the Women’s Japanese Curling).  I stayed in two different capsule hotels.  One was more of a hostel style for backpackers ($15) and the second place was an upscale male only hotel catering to Japanese business men in the Shinjuku neighbourhood of Tokyo ($40).  The second place was unusual for me and overpriced because I didn't properly utilize all the amenities.  It was a place to be pampered and relax.  When you check in they give you a robe to wear and two lockers: one to put your shoes in before you enter the main area (Japanese always take off shoes before entering any main living area- the only time I heard anyone raise their voice was when I walked into a room with my shoes still on) and one for all you clothes when you enter.  Most guys were walking around in the robes or naked.  There was a tv lounge with big reclining chairs, Onsens (hot water spas), massage centre, shaving/grooming room, and a massive dark room with futons you could sleep on if for some reason you didn't want to retire to your capsule.  Tokyo is crazy clean for the largest city in the world.  Kyoto is beautiful but I only had like 2 hours to explore.  The mountains and countryside are beautiful.  90 years olds shovel snow.  People are so friendly.  Japanophile.

Albany, Western Australia.  The quintessential long weekend Western Australian road trip is to go “Down South”.  South generally means the surfing and wine hotspot loosely defined as Margaret River and its surrounding area.  My long weekend trip took me from Perth to Albany via Margaret River.  This route can be covered in 3 days.  I did some salmon fishing, chocolate tasting, tree climbing and beach hopping.  The water is brisk but the beaches on the southern ocean are the best I have seen.  I went in April during Salmon season.  I pulled my salmon in at Shelly Beach west of Albany:

Bali, Indonesia.  Bali is a great destination for the hesitant tourist wanting to try out Indonesia.  I prefer to go to other lesser travelled parts of Indo (see below).  My plan on travel lately is to go somewhere because there is someone or something specifically I want to see or do (a race, an event, a course).  Or if I find a great flight deal (Japan).    The purpose of this trip was to do a wilderness first First Responder course at the Green School.  The Green School itself is an impressive place to visit.  A half hour drive from Ubud, the progressive k-12 school for expat and local children is made entirely out of Bamboo.  I attended class during the day, and then spent evenings exploring around Ubud via a 1-2 hour run.  I laced up the shoes every night for a jaunt through rice fields.  The Campuhan Ridge walk (near the Ibah hotel) is a great place to run during the cooler sunset hours.  Local teenagers typically hang out there at night to do things but always smile and try to take photos as I run past.  One night, I veered off my normal Campuhan Ridge route and stumbled upon a lone pavilion in a rice field.  Loud music was playing so I went to explore.  It was an international Hula Hoop Convention with 150 girls in sports bras (and a handful of dudes, not in sports bras) performing in front of their peers.  That “run” lasted nearly 3 hours but my watch was frozen at 27 minutes- the time it took for me to stumble upon this “gem in the jungle”.  It was the first and only time in my life I was asked the question: “Do you hoop?”  The expat Green School teachers lamented when I told them the story: “That is so Ubud”.  It has that mystical, hippie feel where women come to do soul searching and pamper themselves (Eat Pray Love- I have not read yet but takes place in Ubud).  I partook in my own pampering by getting a Balinese massage.  Matteo, a 21 year old Italian convinced me to go with him.  He argued that we had to try it because we are in Indonesia and it’s what people do here.  We have to experience the true culture he pressed.  Normally, I feel uncomfortable doing massages and this time was no different.  But at a $5 price point, I had nothing to lose economically so I rationalized it in my mind.  Besides, travel is about getting out of your comfort zone.  We each changed into the black “whity tighty” style underwear and stood awkwardly in the candlelit lounge together waiting for the masseuse to guide us each into our respective room.  The girls came and led us both into the same room with two massage tables a soccer balls width apart.  It was a couple’s massage.  We were like “No No No” but they didn’t understand so the manager came and basically laughed at us as if to say you silly immature boys but gave us each a private room.  Later in Lombok, I went again with my co-worker- that time they put us in the same room but was separated by a curtain so we could still talk but not having to look at each other oiled bodies.  I always meet out of place characters people on the street in Ubud.  I feel like the world meets in Bali whether it is a successful Ukrainian Lawyer dressed like 60’s hippie dancing to local music or the 20 something South African vagabond flying home the next morning after 3 full years on the road.    

Esperance, Western Australia.  If Margaret River is the quintessential 3 day weekend trip from Perth, then Esperance would be the top choice for a weeklong road trip.  Stops along the way can include Albany and the seemingly out of place Stirling range where you can experience alpine environments and snow if you get lucky.  I went in July, when whales put on a display at Point Anne in Fitzgerald River National Park just 200 meters off shore.  Then finally got to Esperance and beyond to Cape Le Grand National Park for camping and kangaroos on the beach.  Hardly anyone was there because it was winter and so “cold”.  But even in summer this wonderland has been surprisingly empty.  Someone then complained that Lucky Bay was awful because of all the seaweed on the Beach.  I didn’t notice until they said that – maybe I was too focused on the dozen kangaroos on the beach hopping around 3 feet away.  My conclusion is that the stretch of coast between Margaret River and Esperance is unspoilt playground with some of the best beaches in the world.  Ok- the water is cold though. 

Lombok, Indonesia.  In August I went to Lombok to run a race; I got much more than that.  I ran the Mount Rinjani Ultra.  Midnight start, 52 km with an absurd 5,200 meters of vertical gain, active volcano.  The times seemed ridiculously slow to me at over 14 hours in 2013.  How hard could it be?  I thought I would easily run under 10 hours.  I was wrong.  It took me nearly 13 hours.  It was hard, really hard but awesome.  The feeling I had running down Rinjani at sunrise knee deep in ash and dust left me grinning ear to ear.  I was running completely unconstrained as fast as I possible could down an active volcano at sunrise knee deep in ash and dust.  That moment erased 3 years of personal struggle and doubt about my dedication running.  It made the long toil worth it.  It’s funny how in a good race or good feeling during a race can justify years of running doldrums.  I hope to return in 2015 but I am not sure the stars will line up for me.  It may spoil the feeling 2014’s race gave me (and I don’t know my work schedule).  I have more to write about this one, for now it is jotted down on loose sheets of paper until I am ready to post it here.  I met so many great people who were eager to learn more about my training and trail running in general.  There is a great community at Trail Runners Indonesia who is opening the door to trail running in the country.  It is great to see.  Besides Rinjani, my co-worker in Mataram chauffeured me around the island which is basically just a less crowded version of Bali.  There are some awesome spots like Gili Nanggu and Senggigi Sunset restaurants but I feel pretty content with my coverage of Lombok.  Sumbawa island seems like the natural new frontier for me.         

United States of America.  Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Nevada, Dallas.  I am running out of energy to keep typing.  There is so much to say about this trip that I can’t really sum it up.  Mostly, though it was about catching up with old friends and family.  I even got to spend my 29th Bday with family.     

Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia.  8 days after landing in Australia from my crazy America trip, I hopped on another plane headed to Jogja (Yogyakarta) in Central Java for another Trail Race.  This time it was the 60 km Mesastila Challenge Ultra.  The Trail Runners Indo guys put on some sinister races.  I think this one had like 4,200m of vertical and naturally an 11pm start.  We ran though rice fields and villages in middle of the night while locals standing next to bonfires cheered us on.  Actually, they just stood there silently and watched us run by as if they had just seen an alien spaceship.  Trail running is still a new sport in Indonesia so I am always encouraged by their beginner enthusiasm towards everything trail running.  I felt ok for the first two hours, then stomach pain set in and I was in damage control mode.  Maybe it was all the travel the past month or just lack of fitness or something I ate but whatever the reason it made or a long outing.  It was still a great cultural experience for me.  My favourite part of the race was running on the narrow Andong peak ridgeline at 3am dodging all the tents and bonfires and teenagers strumming guitars and singing.  My Second favourite part was the ridiculous first climb while running up a knife edge footpath a piece of dental floss thin white ribbon was the only thing preventing a shear 300 foot fall off the mountain.  I also met some great people at this one.  Trail running is a global community and it always amazes me who I meet at these races.

Mount Bromo, Java.  Ok, One last time to Indonesia during 2014 for yet another trail race race.  I was scheduled to run the 100 km to get 3 UTMB points but dropped it back.  I was having mid leg thigh pain since Mesastila race a few weeks earlier.  I thought was another femoral stress fracture so made the decision to drop to 30km and jog it.  Bromo is awesome.  The scenery is unparalleled except to maybe the moon.  The 30 km edition skirts the Caldera and before climbing to the crater rim.  I made a wrong turn and kept running along the rim giving me sweeping views of the valley and smells of sulphur.  At the race, I met more great people and some familiar faces from previous events.  Thanks Indonesia trail runners for a great year.  And congrats to my buddy Luc for the 100km W.      

New Zealand, South Island.  My brother and his wife were on holiday there so I finally had a good reason to go (ahem).  I hired a car for 8 days, no itinerary.  Christchurch to Queenstown.  Queenstown to up the West Coast.  West Coast back to Christchurch.  Like Australia, there are hardly any New Zealanders there.  Everybody is from somewhere else.  Queenstown Rocks.  Routeburn was the best hike I did on the island.  I love the Mount Cooke area but needed some more time to get off the beaten path.  The weather also limited those opportunities.  I got stranded by Landslides twice which led to unexpected encounters with some interesting people.  Most notably was the French chemical-nuclear engineer also sleeping in his car around the South Island.  I asked some questions about his job and he about my job.  We came to the conclusion that even in highly specialized jobs like open cut mining and nuclear reactor energy generation, there is still a comically large amount of technical knowledge we don’t know in our niche field.  The next day after chatting with my Nuclear Buddy, I touched a glacier and hiked in the rainforest on the same day.  New Zealand is diverse as heck and obviously 8 days was not enough time, but better than no time.  It is expensive there too.  I paid over $2 per litre of petrol.  I gotta get back here now that fuel prices plummeted.

Whew.  That’s it for 2014.

November 14, 2014


“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.

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

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  .  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