Saturday Morning Links

Photo by v2osk on Unsplash

1. Whenever I find a new place, the first thing that I think about is what it would be like to go for a run there (or even just a walk) and that thought is no different when I look at photos of Snowdonia, which is a Welsh national park with 827 square miles. FieldMag has some additional photos and tips if you would ever travel there (when that can happen).

Photo by Leo Sammarco on Unsplash

2. I had never thought about a tree of the year, but this is a video of Scotland’s tree of the year and it honestly reminds me of the treeless landscape of Snowdonia and the idea that the the landscape of Scotland had all of their trees forested, which is terrible, and so bringing back the trees is such a great thing.

3. I’ve linked to the videos from Beau Miles previously, but these are fantastic. It’s not that the videos are action packed, but they are contemplative and that’s such a good thing nowadays. In any event, Miles builds a junk cabin, a cabin built from the junk wood he has laying around. I think he’s a carpenter by trade, or his father was. I go back to building the fort for the boys when lockdowns first started and Miles and I started those projects at the same time, his was significantly more ambitious than mine.

4. It is becoming an audio and visual Saturday Morning Links and the great Danny MacAskill is always a good time. I wouldn’t scoot down on my ass on some of the things he’s riding a bike down. Amazing to have that much control.

5. You ready for something new? I’m going to take a Penn U course of being resilient in uncertain times. You are probably thinking that you already are resilient, hell, you’re still here, but the idea would be that you and I don’t know everything and you might learn something news. I am excited about this class and will report back.

Saturday Morning Links

Photo by Paolo Bendandi on Unsplash

1. We’ll get to this in a second, but Catch-22 was set on a small island in Italy called Pianosa. Finding photos of that island is very difficult, but finding photos of Elba Island, which is just east of Pianosa, looks pretty well amazing.

Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

2. Earlier this week it was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The boys had Monday off so I asked them on Tuesday what they knew about MLK, or what they learned in school. They had talked about how they were making posters about MLK in art. They both said that MLK made a speech, something about “I have a dream.” So then I stared to tell them about MLK, but then realized that I sort of needed to explain the Civil War first to explain why he was making those speeches. There was a lot of context that I had to add there to make it all make sense, for example, that slaves were freed, but black people were not treated like white people and that MLK really helped change the law and that was the significance of the speeches and protests. I also think that explaining things incredibly simplistically, almost like a drunk history lesson, usually works best and it is memorable for them as they did remember why MLK was important the next day (I am not drunk or even drinking when I do this).

3. I finished Hulu’s Catch-22 mini-series and if you were looking for a place to escape reality, look at some beautiful cinematography, and enjoy a good story, yes, all of those things will happen, but you will also suffocated by the fact that life is full of sadness, despair, and utter depression, then this is the perfect series for you. Truthfully, this is wonderfully acted, beautifully shot, and if you loved Band of Brothers, then this will be absolutely perfect for you. I highly recommend, but you’ll be on quite a ride.

4. Last week, we brought you a white moose and now, via National Geographic a white cougar was caught in Brazil. Absolutely amazing.

5. This is one of those things that I thought was not true, but it is, via Open Culture, a 5,000 year old artist’s palette from Egypt.

Saturday Morning Links

Photo by Stéphane Juban on Unsplash

1. Ever heard of Seychelles? Me neither. It’s an actual country in Africa. I thought I had heard of them all, but I was wrong about that. The Seychelles islands or the Republic of Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands on the east coast of Africa.

Photo by Ron Barabash on Unsplash

2. It’s a white moose. Not a euphemism. My Modern Net has photos of an absolutely spectacular white moose that’s roaming the forests in Sweden along the Norway border. Just something I’ve never seen.

3. Sticking with the animal theme, via Scientific American, the dire wolves are not really close to current wolves at all:

After sequencing five genomes from dire wolf fossils between 50,000 and 13,000 years old, the researchers found that the animals belonged to a much older lineage of dogs. Dire wolves, it now appeared, had evolved in the Americas and had no close kinship with the gray wolves from Eurasia; the last time gray wolves and dire wolves shared a common ancestor was about 5.7 million years ago. The strong resemblance between the two, the researchers say, is a case of convergent evolution, whereby different species develop similar adaptations—or even appearances—thanks to a similar way of life. Sometimes such convergence is only rough, such as both birds and bats evolving wings despite their differing anatomy. In the case of dire and gray wolves, lives of chasing large herbivores to catch some meat on the hoof resulted in two different canid lineages independently producing wolflike forms.

4. Zach Miller is all sorts of amazing. An ultrarunner that runs as hard as anyone I’ve ever seen. I honestly do not know what it means to run that hard. I’d be honest and tell you that I would be afraid to run that hard for fear of wearing out.

To manage the good times, but also the good times, that’s what makes a 100 mile race a 100 mile race . . . A lot of us have a perception of what limits are. When I race, I guess I throw them out the window. It’s not that I don’t have limits, it’s just maybe I’ve perceived them differently. I just don’t know where they are. I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about racing. So many times I think we step to a raceline with this idea of what we are capable of doing, but sometimes I think we’re capable of a lot more than what we think. If you can step to a raceline or a circumstance in life and say I’m not afraid of the failure, and just go for it. I may not succeed, but I’m willing to try, that’s a really freeing and fun thing.

5. I don’t know that I realized it, but I think last week was my 52nd week of Saturday Morning Links. I don’t think I missed a week, but I could be wrong. If I have missed a week, it might be just one or two. Regardless, this blog or site or whatever has been what I really wanted it to be, which is a place for me to write that didn’t fit in what I was writing other places. It was also a place that was not Twitter and I think that’s a good thing. I said before that I hope that I’m a bit more consistent here than other places. That might not happen the next couple of weeks because work continues to be a beast. But those things pass (I hope).

My Year Running 2020

This isn’t going to be a particularly long post. I’ve already written about the shoes I ran in this year and what I know about running shoes.

But I did want to detail what I did run in 2020.

For comparison purposes, I ran 1,065.6 miles in 2019. In 2020, I increased that mileage by nearly 500 miles, although that wasn’t intentional. I was just sort of running. In 2020, I ran 1,523.6 miles. I should also mention that it is likely that the miles run in the shoes isn’t going to match up with the miles run because I sometimes forget to associate a run with a shoe. I do it manually rather than let it be automatic.

My worst running month was March, which is when the pandemic hit. I don’t know why I didn’t run as much that month. I also know that I was building a new fort for the kids and my weekends were pretty well taken doing that. I certainly didn’t go anywhere.

My best months were basically May and October and that’s probably because from a weather perspective, these are typically great months to run, especially outside.

I averaged 127 miles a month, which is a shade over 4 miles a day or so, depending on the month. In comparison to 2019, I ran 88.8 miles a month and that works out to about 3 miles a day. I think a large part of the running increase is that at some point in 2020 I started to run on Fridays, which I had previously not done. Previously I had only run on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. On Fridays, I’ve been running at least 5 miles in the morning, which is a mile shorter than my typical 6 miles on Monday and Wednesday.

Month Miles Run
January 119.0
February 130.5
March 108.6
April 125.2
May 139.2
June 123.7
July 119.3
August 148.3
September 118.9
October 139.5
November 124.7
December 126.7
Total 1523.6

This is how I spent my days running in my various shoes for 2020:

From the linked post above, I absolutely adored the 1080v10 from New Balance and the Kinvara 11’s are my current jam. I can’t get enough of them and really love running in them. They’ve been a superb shoe for me, although I’ve seen early reviews of the Kinvara 12’s and am a bit concerned.

You’ll also note that I didn’t talk about the Terra Kiger 5 or the Saucony Pergrine 10. I had good luck with the Kiger for the most part, but then, while on vacation in Arkansas this fall, I started to develop a hot-spot on the outside of my left foot. I thought it was maybe the socks, so I changed them, and the hot-spot persisted. Considering how much luck I had with the Kinvara I decided to try the Peregrine, which is also a 4mm drop shoe and have been really happy with it. It’s a good shoe, perhaps a bit heavy, but it is an enjoyable ride. That’s always sort of the curse of finding something that you like, is that it pretty well fits like a glove and I don’t want to vary from it.

I didn’t achieve anything by running in 2020. No races or anything fun like that. I do want to do a race in the spring of 2020 for my birthday and my lovely wife has approved this. That’s next on the agenda. I’ve also been doing more vertical gains, which is ridiculously difficult, and this basically means running on an incline for miles at a time. I have no idea why I’m doing this, but it absolutely kicks my tail.

One thing that did happen is that I did finally get into the “Superior” portion of VO2 Max for my age and gender, which is pretty cool. I’ve never been athletic at anything in my life, so this is certainly something to be proud of for me, as someone that spends a ton of time running.

Here’s to an ultramarathon in the spring of 2020 and hopefully a few more miles along the way.

Saturday Morning Links

Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

1. That’s Fassa Valley, Italy, and doesn’t seem real. The mountains are the Dolomites, which are some amazing mountains up that way. The valley is formed by the Avisio River. This is also in the Trentino region of Italy, which is sort of like a state. There’s also this incredible castle, called Buonconsiglio Castle which is pretty incredibly in its own right.

Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

2. One of the dumbest, but best things I ever did was in law school and going to Ireland for a summer session. Incredibly privileged, but it did allow me to see part of the world that I would have never seen before. In part of that trip, was a two-week stay in Belgium, which was awesome and the weekend in-between, some friends and I went to Amsterdam. The friends went to Amsterdam to do things that you can only do in Amsterdam and I’ve never done those things, up until this day. Not judging, just stating. One of the best things I did while there is to go to the Van Gogh Museum and also the Rijksmuseum. It was announced that the Rijksmuseum had digitized 709,000 works of art. I could not recommend those museums more if and when you are able to do so.

3. This is so great. I learned more about the ancient history of Rome in 13 minutes than I have in years. Thanks Open Culture.

4. Outside Online’s Jen Murphy on Underwater Torpedo League:

The brainchild of Prime Hall and Don Tran, two former Marine Raiders (an elite unit of the U.S. Marine Corps), underwater torpedo is played in the deep end of a large pool—ideally 13 to 14 feet deep—by two teams of five. The aim is to get a ten-ounce, ten-inch-long torpedo-shaped toy into a kid’s hockey net anchored at the bottom of the pool by dive bricks. Players may move the torpedo by swimming with it, handing it off, or passing it to another team member, all while submerged. They can surface to take a breath, but not if they are holding the torpedo—that results in a penalty. Tackling, pulling, holding back, and grappling are only allowed on the player in possession of the torpedo. Kicking, punching, choking, and single-limb submissions are forbidden. “We had to add that last foul, because we got a lot of MMA fighters who were putting players into weird ankle locks,” explains Tran, 31. Each game has a referee, and despite the underwater roughhousing, Hall, 35, says there have only been minor injuries, thanks in part to the fact that fins are also forbidden, so players move with less momentum. “That means less impact when players collide,” he says. A typical match, says Tran, lasts until a team scores five goals, or about ten minutes, with 30 seconds between each match to regroup. Games are played in a best-of-three-matches format.

5. Need some of the good stuff? NPR with the best photos from the Siena international Photo Awards.

My Year in Charts 2020

This idea of creating a post about my life in charts really didn’t culminate unit l recently, but since about December 27, 2019, I started tracking me doing push ups. I had a conversation with my brother-in-law about a guy that did 100 push ups for a year. I thought I could do the same thing. That meant that I couldn’t miss a day and I was lucky enough to be able to do that. What started as just tracking push ups ended up tracking a handful of things through the year. And since I had all of this information, I could create some charts that displayed what I did through the course of the year.

As an aside, I utilize Loop Habit Tracker to track my habits. And really, these are all things that I wanted to be habits. I thought (and I think it proved to be true) that if I consistently did these things, that my life would be better.  As for the Loop Habit Tracker, it is dead simple, you can add a reminder about if you’ve accomplished the task for the day and the only thing it allows you to do is to check if you did the habit. That’s it.  It has zero bells and whistles and it has zero advertisements. It will also do a nice job of displaying the consistency of your habit and also provide the various streaks that you are able to go on through the course of using the app. If you want it to do more than to just check things off (i.e. you want something to keep track of notes or different things), then this is not the app for you. This app will let you know your current streak as well as your current score, which is probably some sort of success rate

These are also things that made my life better and for the most part, these things are free. The books cost money, but that’s it.

Here are the habits I tracked this year in comparison to the number of days where I started tracking the habit. As an example, I didn’t start journaling until April or so, thus the available days is less than 366 (2020 was a Leap Year). Also, the “Current Score” is from the app and I don’t know how that is figured. I’ve done push-ups for more than a year straight and only have a score of 95%. I suppose the streak is what’s important now.

Habit Days Complete Available Days
100 Push Ups 366 366
Meditate 259 366
Read a Book 355 366
Journal 263 265
Brush Teeth 354 366
Drink a Glass of Water 93 93

Brush Teeth: I actually think I started using the habit tracker because I was doing a terrible job of brushing my teeth at night. I would just get tired and go to sleep. That’s gross and it was something that I thought I should fix. So, I set the reminder to go off at 8:30 p.m. to brush my teeth and it eventually I can say that it’s a habit that I simply don’t break any longer.

Current score: 95%
Current streak: 258 days

100 Push Ups: This was one where I wasn’t going to be able to miss and I also realized that it took very little time out of my day. I can do approximately 100 push ups in about 2 minutes. I think when I first started, it would take me about 4 minutes, but after a while, you get good at it and you eventually whittle down that time.

In terms of how I do them, when I first started, I would just go until failure, then do that again, and again, until I got to 100. I ran across this random guy from Australia setting the record for push ups in a certain amount of time, and he did 15, then took a quick break, then did 15 more, etc. So I pretty much do that, except I do 20 rather than 15, take a 2 or 3 second break, then do 20 more, until I get to 100. I haven’t timed myself in quite a while doing this method, but I am this usually takes me less than 2 minutes to do 100. So, for 2 minutes out of my day, it seems absolutely worth it. Am I better for it? I guess. There are days where 100 push-ups after a long run seem stupid and then there are days where 100 push-ups is a walk in the park. I am probably stronger. I’ve done days where I’ve tried to see how many push-ups I can do at a time and I can do 75 without a break in my first set. I am sure that when I first started, I could maybe do 35 or 40.

Current score: 95%
Current streak: 375 days

Meditate: This is one where there is no streak. Like a lot of people, I took the Yale class on happiness (a.k.a. The Science of Well Being). I’m really glad I took it, I learned a lot. And what I learned is that we as humans are really hard at predicting what makes us happy and the things that really add to happiness are getting enough sleep and exercise, being grateful for the things in our lives, it’s really important to savor things in life, meditate, be kind, and value time over money. That’s a reduction of a really great class, but that’s it in a nutshell. So, the idea of meditating was not something that I really was excited about, but I gave it a shot and truthfully, once you get to a point, it is about learning how to be quiet, be with your own thoughts, and how to breathe. For me, it’s been great for helping me to be more thoughtful with prayer. I don’t get to do this every day, but I do this almost without fail 5 days a week.

Current score: 77%
Current streak:  Typically on weekends, I don’t meditate, so streaks are 6 days at best

Pick up a Book: I wanted to read more in 2020 and so I did. Part of process was to simply agree that I would pick up a book every day. There would be some days where I would literally read a paragraph and consider the goal accomplished, but then there would be other days where I would read for an hour. I read eight books this year, a couple of them were 700 page books, so that’s probably two normal sized books right there, but who is counting. I also am currently reading H is for Hawk, continuing to read the 5 books that are part of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (I’m currently reading The Restaurant at the End of the Universe), and Lincoln in the Bardoo. I know I’m a monster for reading three books at the same time, but it’s what I do. I’m not always in the mood for a serious book. I also realize that not all pages are made the same and maybe the better metric to track would be words read, but that’s not something I’m doing and can’t do very easily.

This is the list of books I’ve read or am reading in 2020:

Title Author
The Invention of Air Steven Johnson
The World’s Largest Man Harrison Scott Key
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay Michael Chabon
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running Haruki Murakami
Barkskins Annie Proulx
SuperLife Darin Olien
Norse Mythology Neil Gaiman
Congratulations, Who Are You Again? Harrison Scott Key
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams
H is for Hawk Helen Macdonald
Lincoln on the Bardoo George Saunders
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe Douglas Adams

Current score: 95%
Current streak: 332 days

Journal: This was part of the happiness course, to just write down every day something I was grateful for during the course of the day or something that made me happy or how I helped someone that particular day, whether it be a client or a friend or family member. The happiness course recommended an app that I did download and it is nice because it does allow you to take notes and journal about the kind things that you did or the grateful things in your life, but it was repeating the work I was doing on the Loop app. So, I found just a blank notebook and started using that. I decided that I would read and journal basically when I got up in the morning. Rather than scroll on my phone or check Twitter or whatever, I would write down something good from the day before and then I would open a book and read for five minutes or however long I wanted to read. Once it became part of my routine, I’ve never looked back. Also, I think I forgot to check the box on a couple of days so my streak doesn’t really match up with what I’ve done. I really don’t think I’ve missed two days journaling, but it’s fine. It’s a lesson to make sure and check the box that it was completed.

Current score: 95%
Current streak: 88 days

Drink a Glass of Water: I didn’t start this until late in the year and after reading Darin Olien’s SuperLife. There are some extreme ideas about water in that book, but one of the ideas that I thought I could tackle was to get up and drink a big old glass of water before having coffee. Logically, when you sleep you’re not drinking water and that’s probably the longest we go without drinking something. It makes sense to get a bit of water in the system first thing in the morning. I’d also add that I usually run or do something active six out of seven mornings and it made sense that I was drinking something other than just coffee every morning. We’ll see if it has any long-term benefits, but this is a really easy thing to do, while the kettle is warming up, I drink a glass of water.

Current score: 99%
Current streak: 94 days

Saturday Morning Links

Photo by Tom Vining on Unsplash

1. That’s Mount Aso, or a road near Mount Aso, which is the largest active volcano in Japan. Mount Aso is in Southern Japan, and the caldera, which is surrounds the peak is actually quite large, 25 kilometers by 18 kilometers. And Mount Aso is part of the Aso Kuju National Park.

2. Know what a “cockentrice” is? Me neither, but I’ve found out. Thanks to Roads & Kingdoms, I’ve found out that a Cockentrice is the head of a pig, the body of a capon, which is a castrated rooster, and the tail of something that I’m not sure what it is.

With the head of a pig, the body of a capon (a castrated rooster) and a tail of goodness-knows-what, a Cockentrice was certainly that. This unlikely combination of fine dining and rogue taxidermy originated in the English cookbooks of the 14th Century, and was roasted as the centerpiece of kingly banquets, delivered to the dining hall like some slain mythical creature amid fire and song. There was, though, only one place in London where I was sure that all of the beast’s constituent parts could be found.

There’s no way that I’m taking the picture of the cockentrice so you’ll need to click on over to see this thing. And the story from R&K is more about the Smithfield Market than anything else.

3. I’ve loved watching Guy Fieri since the pandemic started. I really started watching Fieri for his Diners, Drive-In’s, and Dives, but at some point, I got hooked on Guy’s Grocery Games. It is ridiculous to think this is something that makes me happy, but Guy’s empathy, silliness, and general happiness is the draw. I don’t know that I’ve really seen him cook very much at all, but since the pandemic started, you know what the rest of the world is catching up on, which is that Guy is a good dude. 121 Minutes with Guy Fieri from Grub Street.

4. As a family, we watched “Soul” last weekend and the boys really enjoyed it. I think I liked it too, but the movie sparked a discussion about whether or not it was good. With that being said, I thought The Ringer’s Scott Tobias on the director of Soul, Pete Docter.

And so the revelation for Joe, and for us, after discovering how the entire mechanism of life and death operates, is that your dream, should you be lucky enough to achieve it, will soon turn into a job. To believe that performing every night with the Dorothea Williams Quartet will lead to some deeper sense of fulfillment and purpose is a trap that’s taken Joe his entire life (and death) to fall into, much like the open manhole he steps in. Even if Soul is working toward better news about life’s truer and more omnipresent gifts, it’s a sobering point for dream-chasers of all ages, especially in the context of a happy-making Pixar animated movie. And it’s aimed at adults, at least as much as it’s aimed at children.

5. Via Metafilter, scientists are studying a radio wave they received from the Proxima Centauri, which is the nearest star to the sun. the radio waves were picked up in New South Wales, Australia. Lots of links that are interesting there. Kind of love stuff like this.