betterment personal


CW: Definitely going to be some food and weight talk here.

After I switched over to my new insurance plan (which in itself is just an update to last year’s plan), my insurance said, “Hey, if you go get a blood test, we’ll give you $50.” Didn’t have to tell me twice. The next day I was watching a new hire at Quest Diagnostics stab a needle into my arm. This is what older is: getting stabbed with needles all the time.

A couple years ago, while still living at my old apartment, I got a lipid test at the behest of my PCP at the time, a woman whose first name was Honey, which meant that I had to call her Dr. Marques because saying “Hi Honey” to a complete stranger felt bad. She isn’t even a doctor, really, she’s a physician’s assistant, but even knowing that I still called her Doctor, because what else do I call her? Ms. Marques?

Anyway, that first test, in May of 2021, was bad. Mainly in the triglycerides, but it was all pretty bad. A good triglycerides level is below 150 mg/dL.1Tangent: Is a blood test the only place where people use a deciliter as a unit of measurement? Mine was over 600. I remember shortly before my grandma, a stubborn-as-hell woman who continued to eat sweets and processed foods long after the diabetes had cost her both of her feet, died, had a reading of around 600, and I don’t remember if that was triglycerides or glucose. Both options are bad.

This was a year after covid hit and my second year into what I can only describe as Pandemic Panic, where I had exorbitant amounts of DoorDash delivered to my apartment on a regular basis. Here is a picture I took of my feet in June of 2021:

I took this photo because I thought, “Are my feet super swollen or what?”

They were. At this point in my life I betrayed myself by doing something I swore I would never do: weigh over 300lbs. See, the problem with being 6’5″ and someone who used to do a lot of weightlifting is that 300lbs kind of sneaks up on you, visually speaking. Nobody really mentions weight anymore, which is good!–a very few people in your life should be allowed to tell you you’re fat, and even then they should be nice about it–but it also meant that I didn’t really see the difference in myself at the time, except in my feet. Or maybe I did notice and just didn’t care. I’ve spoken at length about the constant battles between Lizard Brain and Rational Brain, and I think the pandemic lockdown really threw my entire consciousness off balance, to the point where Lizard Brain felt the need to declare martial law.

Doctor Honey was a stern woman, the type of PA you find at urgent care–quick with info, quick to get you out of the door. But she was also kind behind that need for speed, and she offered me a statin medication or lifestyle changes, and I opted for the latter. Three months, she said. Come back in three months.

I went home that day and got my ass in gear. But it was an uphill battle due to my apartment neighbor being a meth-addled psychopath who was maybe one terrible trip away from beating my head in with a crowbar. Gone were my daily walks because I feared running into him. I eventually moved; that was good. I ate better, I walked a bit more around my new apartment neighborhood, I took fish oil supplements.

In August I went in and got another lipid test. It was good, in the sense that my triglycerides went down by half. Still to high, but not so high that I should fear for my life. I don’t think I talked to Dr. Marques about these results, or maybe I did. I had moved at that point and so had she, from that clinic to who knows where.

Since then, my weight ballooned back up to over 300 and has gradually come down by then. As we all know because I won’t shut up about it, I run now and I’m getting more exercises these days than I’ve had since covid started.

So, of course: these results. These new lipid results are essentially the same as from August of 2021. They appear to be slightly better (my cholesterol-to-HDL ratio was 7.6 in May 2021, 6.6 in August 2021, and now 6.0), but it’s all still the same to me. It’s clear that I still have work to do. I may end up getting on a statin if these don’t drop over the summer. Statin or not, I need to watch what I eat and lay off the saturated fats. Most of which I consume as part of breakfast…

I don’t have a moral or anything to end this post on. My cholesterol is too high; welcome to the United States of America. I was hoping it would be lower because of my exercising but I should’ve remembered that it’s your diet which really influences these numbers. I’m going to give myself another three months of running and exercise and eating better to see where I end up. Hopefully with better results.

  • 1
    Tangent: Is a blood test the only place where people use a deciliter as a unit of measurement?
betterment food & cooking personal


18,000 cattle were killed in a dairy farm explosion and subsequent fire in Texas on Monday. That’s … mind boggling, but according to that article, that’s around 20% of the cattle who are slaughtered every day in America.

Now, I’ve never been huge on the moral quandaries associated with eating meat. I understand that the meat industry is shady as hell. I understand that male babies are often killed because they’re not as useful as females. (I’ve seen the baby chicks being put in the grinder, thanks.) I’m not sure how you can decouple eating meat with knowing how animals are slaughtered. There was that whole thing a few years back about teaching kids where their chicken nuggets come from, but I think most teens and adults understand slaughter. In fact, more often than not, rural communities understand slaughter way more than urban ones, because they deal with it first or secondhand.

I’ve never lived rurally enough to experience slaughter firsthand, but my family did live relatively close to a now closed slaughterhouse and when I would drive to college every morning I would pass by it and the conveyor belt plopping steaming intestines and other internal parts into a big truck. Man that place stunk.

Truthfully, I think the consumption of animals is crucial for human development. Specifically, it’s theorized that the cooking of meat is what jump started human brain development, tens of thousands of years ago. Cooking breaks down tough fibers into more easily digestible ones, which meant that prehistoric humans suddenly were getting more nutrients from cooked meat than from raw. Plus it was easier to chew and probably tasted good as hell to homo erectus.

That said, at some point our brains got big enough that we became self-aware and empathic toward the thing that got us here in the first place. The moral and ethical issues involved with eating meat, to me, are more entwined with cruel-free practices of raising and slaughtering animals than they are with the eating of animal meat itself. Cows are an animal meant to be eaten. If not us, then wolves or other predators. We’re just very good at killing animals, and, more recently, much more interested in consuming as much meat as humanly possible, it seems.

So, when I see 18,000 cattle dead (and ranchers lamenting about how they’ve lost around $2,000 per cow) due to, arguably, poor living conditions for the animals, it makes me take stock in my own meat, dairy, and byproduct consumption and how possible it could be to make it more ethically and morally appealing in the future. There is no ethical consumption under capitalism, but perhaps I can lessen my impact.

I’m not here to make any promises, but here are some thoughts on forward progress:

  • Reducing meat consumption.

This one is a no-brainer, obviously, but is also worrying for me mostly because it was meat (I think) which helped get me out of a depressive slump. More specifically, I think I was lacking iron and/or B vitamins that we can only get from animal consumption, and then one day a coworker left and we went to a Brazilian grill for her last day and I ate all the meats and felt better than I had in months afterward. Another friend of mine was basically prescribed a weekly meat meal by her doctor to combat low iron.1I know you can get iron in plants (what up spinach) but heme iron is supposed to be much easier for us to absorb. For me, then, I would prefer to find locally sourced meat once or twice a week, and supplement the B vitamins (B12? Is there another one?) with the multivitamin I already take.

I expect this will be way more expensive than the meat I buy at Safeway, but if I reduce the amount I consume in the first place, it should even out.

  • Ethically sourcing dairy and animal byproducts.

Again, this is like the above point. I’m slightly less concerned with some byproducts, like honey, which I don’t think is as unethically collected as, say, eggs and milk. But I like eggs and I like milk and I’d like to get them both from local sources. Especially eggs–factory farmed eggs are so shit compared to fresh, free range farmed eggs. Gotta get that orange yolk. Milk is the same. Honestly I think I can fix this by taking trips to Market of Choice instead of Safeway; their commitment to animal welfare page makes me feel more comfortable with purchasing meat and dairy there.

  • Ethical consumption and/or vegan consumption outside the home.

This one will be tougher. Portland restaurants are pretty good about letting you know where their meat comes from, depending on the quality of the restaurant. But in the end you just never know. So I think outside of my home I’d like to try to consume less or no meat at all, and maybe go vegan entirely. I don’t know if this will stick; obviously I want my restaurant experience to be better than my home cooking, and for me that includes dairy and/or meat. YES there are excellent vegan foods out there and I will absolutely go that route if I see something I like. But I am not a vegan or vegetarian really so I don’t feel the need to limit myself as much there.

  • Giving back to the community?

If I’m going to eat another animal I feel like I should at least use that energy to better myself or the community. I don’t know if this will be financial or actual volunteerism (I am terrible at volunteering), but I want to try to put the energy I receive from another living being into bettering the world as a whole.

Again, I live in Portland so these things should be easy to implement. At the very least though, having a clear concept of the impact I am having on my environment and how I can adjust it to be more ethical and conscious is a good start.

  • 1
    I know you can get iron in plants (what up spinach) but heme iron is supposed to be much easier for us to absorb.

Statistics are Depressing

Today I looked at my Spotify artist profile. I discovered that my most streamed song is “You Don’t Really Care,” the first song from my first album, Kittens & Puppies.

I think I’ve had my music on Spotify/other sites for about two years now? You want to know how many streams my most streamed song has?


What’s weird is that my song with the most listeners is Noelle, from my Songs for Autumn EP. Spotify shows it as #1 in my Most Popular column.

You want to know how many listeners it has? 22, and 27 streams.

“Attaquin Beach,” a song from Going to Boise, has 35 streams but only 4 listeners. Why? I guess four people really like that song.

Overall, K&P is my most streamed album on Spotify, with a whopping 314 streams as of this writing. I genuinely don’t know why this is. Nostalgia? People who heard it almost 20 years ago still like it?

Amazon Streaming shows my demo CD, How I Remember You, has the most streams, at 163. “Henry Meloy” is the most streamed son, with 94 streams. (I don’t know how to embed songs from Amazon, sorry.) Why is that one so popular here but not on Spotify, where it only has 10 streams?

Last Night in America, one of my two “rock”/”distorted guitar” albums, has 90 streams on Amazon, and 83 of those are “Row You Row Your Boat,” which … why THAT song?

It’s surreal how some of my songs do better on one site than another. I wish the Amazon people and the Spotify people could meet up and exchange notes. What’s strange is that “Henry Meloy” and “Row You Row Your Boat” are my two most popular songs on Amazon but a wide margin — the third most popular song, “Here, I Found Your Stupid Bike,” only has 32 streams.

YouTube isn’t much better. There’s not much there to be honest. We won’t go into it.

All of this is really depressing. And it has been for years. I remember burning CDs of Kittens & Puppies and then playing a coffee shop to my family and selling no CDs. That was in 2007. But at least I made the CDs, and some people did buy them, and that felt like some type of progress. Putting music on DistroKid and only making $18, nearly two years later, is almost worthy of despair.

A lot of it is my fault, honestly. I could’ve been more proactive. I could’ve marketed myself more. Could’ve played more open mics and coffee shops and all that. But there truly was, and still is, if I’m being honest, a part of me that hates my music. Hates the stuff that I’ve written. Thinks it’s sloppy, lo-fi garbage. I know that sounds weird, considering I have a bazillion albums, but it’s true. I feel lazy, like I make something and then run away from it, like a cat taking a shit in the litter box. It’s embarrassing. I assume people don’t like my stuff because I can kind of prove that they don’t because of the statistics. The stats on my latest albums that I really actually do like and am proud of are abysmal. But a bunch of people like a parody song I wrote about The Decemberists 17 years ago. Oh well.

39 views on YouTube, by the way.

And then there’s stuff like this:

Somebody from some point in my life uploaded a song of mine on YouTube back in 2016. Who? I replied in the comments, got nothing back. But this is nice. A nice little acknowledgment. I appreciate that.

I’ve said before that I don’t create because I want to, I create because I have to. I make music or write poetry or design worlds for D&D because I need a creative outlet. That’s still true, to a certain extent. But I’m learning that just because I made something doesn’t mean everyone needs to see it. But, on the other hand, if you write a song and nobody hears it (or wants to hear it), what’s the fucking point?

As you can tell, it’s been one of Those Days.

There’s a 50/50 chance I will release one more album before I’m done. I’m trying to finalize a track list and decide if I want to make a demos/unreleased album as well. It doesn’t really matter–no one will listen to either. But it will have been something I made. And that’s something.

I guess I just wish the statistics didn’t exist. There was a time when you’d make things and have no idea how they did, and that was okay. How many people went to your website last month? No idea. But now, everything is statistics, and it really goes to show you how terrible statistics look. Reminds me of a thing I heard a while back, about how a large percentage of people who publish books sell less than two dozen, ever. What a life.

Anyway, I’m not done creating. I’m just going to be a little more thoughtful about it. I think. And of course, thank you to everyone who has ever streamed a song of mine or bought an album. I am grateful for you, I mean it.


Artists & Bohemian Lifestyles

This morning I read this article from OPB on Milepost 5, an low income artists community that I lived a block away from when I first moved to Portland, which happened to be a year after Milepost 5 opened. The article addresses the decline of the space over the past 15 years, particularly after the space was sold to an investment company in California. Ain’t that always the case.

I have a bit of history with Milepost 5, particularly in that I have visited their communal art space, the Art Haus, and even auditioned for a performance of Romeo & Juliet by a Milepost 5 theatre company, that was to take place in the interior courtyard. This was back in 2011. I was cast as a “musician,” which meant not as an actual character in the play. That, coupled with the general sort of vibe I got from the audition process, was enough for me to pass. It wasn’t bad, it was just … bohemian. The whole space felt bohemian. It felt like I was audition for R&J within the context of being in a production of RENT. Again, that’s not a bad thing, it’s just not my thing. I often find that these pseudo-DIY, bohemian plays come with erratic and often poorly organized rehearsal schedules and, sometimes, very self-important directors. (To be fair, most directors are self-important.)

Milepost 5 was meant to be a place where low income artists could have a home, but for some reason, that also means that the space itself has to be kind of a shithole. I’m not sure why this is. I don’t understand why so many artists feel the need to be dirty bohemians. I get it, in part–the rejection of capitalism, the communal lifestyle, but why do these things require artists to live in hovels?

I know, I know, I’m turning into Don Draper here. It just always seems like there are two artistic camps: bohemians and yuppies. It’s all class war stuff, of course; we’re all under the thumb of capitalism. But when the government says, “Hey, we’re going to provide you with low income housing so you can do fun art stuff,” why does that housing have to be shitty? What if you want to do art but don’t want to share a kitchen, or a bathroom? Why are artists either packed into apartments like sardines, or living in the Upper East Side?

The answer is: it’s not a dichotomy. It never is. There are obviously middle class artists all over the place. There are people who live in suburbs and act in community theater, and there are people who attend those “drink wine and paint sunsets” classes. But it seems, to me at least, that the cultural concept of artists is one of bohemian hovels. Brick walls, a giant canvas with paint splattered all over it, either hung up or lying on the ground. A woman doing performance art where she drips her menstrual blood on a canvas. None of that is bad! Art is art. I’m just curious why art is often culturally considered poor.

It sucks that Milepost 5 was lauded as an artistic community and then sold to capitalists who have since run it into the ground. It’s obvious that capitalism hates art, unless it makes money, and low income artist hovels will never make money. So they abandon it like a carnivorous amoeba searching for a new meal to suck the life out of. So, bohemia is a response to that. I get it. I just wish the government got it, and invested more into it, I suppose.

personal running

Heart to Start

Another month, another 5k. This was the Providence Heart to Start, part of the Hood to Coast … family? of events? Collective of jaunts? I don’t know. It took place at Cook Park in Tigard, Oregon, about 20 miles southwest of Portland. It was a lovely day for running, overcast, temperature in the mid 40s, the tiniest sprinkle of rain at times.

Getting here was easy, so I don’t have to belabor you with any commute issues. Cook Park is lovely and has lots of trails that I would like to walk on someday, but today is not that day! Today we race!

Atmosphere was chill, not a lot of people for this race. Sometimes races feel like a Big Deal (Shamrock Run) and others feel like a group of folks getting together for a thing (Tar n Trail). This one was kind of in the middle. There was a kids run before the 5 and 10ks, so lots of little warblers running around.

When I got my bib a couple days before, there was no swag. I think there were free passes to one of the big athletic stores, but neither of the women at the station were like “Here these are free things,” so I just left with my bib. At the event though, they had a few bits of free stuff, which included:

  • Protein bars. Lots of different kinds of protein bars,
  • A stress ball in the shape of a heart (remember, this race is for heart health),
  • A pin that read, “Think With Your ❤️”, which, I’ll be honest, I personally think is a bad idea,
  • A beer or seltzer after the run (10 Barrel Brewing IPAs or Michelob Ultra Seltzer, to be precise). Probably could’ve had a lot of beers/seltzers if you wanted to, I dunno,
  • Bottle openers (there were no bottled beers or seltzers, only cans).

I think that was it. Not too shabby, but not my favorite group of swag. Again, I really do think you should think with your 🧠, not your ❤️. Lots of bad decisions have been made thinking with your ❤️.

Anyway, the Big Discrepancy! I started Strava right at the start line and I had this corroborated with two friends of mine who were at the race: the race was likely only 3 miles [but probably was actually a full 5k]. I know, I know. Please sit down. We’ll get through this, together.

When I passed the finish line, Strava showed 3 miles, so I stopped briefly to grab my medal and then started running again, to pick up the other .11 of a mile, but was flagged down by a guy who needed the chip tag thing on the bottom of my bib, so I gave that to him and then proceeded to run the additional .11 of a mile. Ultimately, what I’m trying to say is that I think my time would’ve been slightly faster if I didn’t have to stop. I’m not mad at the event for short changing us a 5k, but it is frustrating to get your results and see that they are 38:01, only to discover that that’s your 3 mile result.

Although … if you reverse calculate a 12:15/mi pace (which is on my official results) into a pace calculator, for a 5k, the result is 38:04. So … maybe Strava fucked up on this one. WOULD NOT SURPRISE ME. I wonder if Strava gets nervous out in the woods or something? I mean, chip time is literally just the time between when you cross the start line and when you cross the finish line. I can’t imagine it being out of whack, especially since it’s a company that has set it all up and whose job is to set up chip timers. I think Strava’s GPS just screwed up somewhere.

Either way, I’m taking the chip time. 38:01! A very good run!

Running-wise, I think I did pretty good. Obviously we can’t completely rely on the damn Strava app for this, but we’ll use it anyway.

I really hoofed it out the gate, mainly to get around all the slow people walkers. The “track” was a thin concrete trail, maybe 5ft wide at most, and was a nightmare to deal with for the first 8th of a mile. A lot of us ended up running around in the grass, and I think I ran on some parts where plants usually grow, which probably was a bad idea. The start of the race is always a clusterfuck like this, but this one seemed especially annoying. I appreciate the Shamrock Run, which organizes runners based on their pace, with slower runners towards the back.

I only stopped three times, with the longest gap being a suddenly sharp hill that I absolutely did not want to run up or down. You can also see that dip at the end of mile 3, where the race ended [which was probably actually 3.11 miles, maybe]. Annoying. Meanwhile, when I run my pace is all over the place, which is something I’d like to work on, but I’m glad that the difference between the first mile and the third mile is only little more than a minute. That’s progress; my first mile pace at Race for Warmth was 11:53, while the 3rd mile was 14:13, a 2:20 difference. Slow and steady wins the race, as they say.

The weirdest part was at the end: when I decided to run the extra .11 of a mile, I felt like I could keep going. That’s dangerous territory, folks. That’s long run territory. Maybe we’ll talk about that some other time.

A very good idea I did before the race was massage my feet, specifically my left foot. Doing this virtually eliminated the numb foot I’ve been getting around mile 2. Plus it just felt good! I also moisturized my feet a couple days ago. This was nice, but I think it also made my feet slightly slippery this morning. Could be my imagination though. My feet were happier with me overall though, which was good!

After the race and the little extra run I chatted with a friend and commiserated over Strava, and then I went to the taqueria truck that was making burritos and ordered a big and delicious chorizo burrito with the works and a champurrado. I always forget how weird champurrado is. It’s good, just different. Could’ve gotten a horchata, but a warm drink felt like a better option.

And then I drove home! The end. See you at the Shamrock Run!

personal running

parkrun #5

Despite what the image says, I did very well on this run. In fact, finally ran a 5k under 40 minutes. My time on Strava was 39:41, my parkrun time was 39:47. I haven’t ran a 5k under 40 minutes since April of 2016. Obviously, it’s a milestone for me in my exercise resurgence.

I’m not sure what to attribute this boost in speed lately. Sure, I could blame the sprints I ran on Monday, trying to push myself harder. But I could also blame the entire frozen pizza and two bags of chips I ate on Friday night. (Side note: Kettle Chips makes air-fried chips now and they are soooo much better than regular chips. Less greasy, taste the same!)

I also rode my bike 11 miles on Friday, which makes my result at parkrun so ridiculous to me. I honestly thought I would run slower because my legs were aching from the ride. But I didn’t!

Even despite all those walking bits (and a couple points where I had to stop to regain feeling in my foot) I still managed to get below 40 minutes. This is a good sign. I even felt more rejuvenated during the downhill bit (basically running back to the start). I’m not sure where that spike of energy came from, but it bodes well for future runs.

Even the last bit to the finish line is fascinating me. I’m running under 11 min there, around 10:45. At the end of the run. I did that because I was coming up on 39 minutes and I had to get below 40. So I actually pushed myself more than I’m usually capable of. This is a good sign. These are all good signs.

I should also mention, tangentially related, that I purchased Pixel Buds and this run was my first with them in my earholes. Resounding success; I got the pro version which has that cool Transparency Mode so you can hear stuff around you. These things don’t have hooks for your ears or those little bits that press up against your ear fold thingy, I don’t know ear terminology. You just put them in your ear, and they stay there. I don’t know how that works. Magic? Sound quality was great, the best I’ve ever had with earbuds. I normally hate earbuds, but these are good. I guess I needed quality ones. I even wore them while doing all sorts of apartment chores today. The little charging case looks like an egg. Oh and I can charge the case on my magnetic charging thing for my Pixel Watch! TECHNOLOGY!

So, I said last week that I was going to rest this week, and then I didn’t, but I think this week I totally am going to rest, at least for an extra day. This is because I have a race on Saturday and I want to be fresh for it. Time for some walking and strength training instead.

Until next week!

betterment personal running

SFA (Stop Fucking Around)

For today’s run, I decided to Stop Fucking Around.

I ran hard today. Sprintervals, I call them, though I can’t have been the first person to do so. Walking to the track is when I decided that this week would not be a deload week, as I had previously intended. Instead, I ran a full mile with a 11:46 pace, and then the 2nd mile was split into the Sprintervals — half a lap walking, half a lap running as fast as I could.

This Strava pace chart is interesting to me. (And maybe only to me.) A relatively even pace for that first mile, dipping towards a 12:00/mi pace at the end there, but once I start doing sprints, my pace jumps to around 9:30/mi for the first sprint and then 8:00 and 8:30/mi for the second two. What’s fascinating to me is that people can run faster than that for much, much farther. But what else is fascinating is that the first sprint was hard, but on the second sprint I purposely ran even faster, trying to really bump my heart rate into the anaerobic zone. I’m very good at keeping my heart rate to a max of around 160, which is good, but I do feel like sometimes you gotta push yourself beyond that. So I did, and I felt like I was going to die. But the third sprint, where I purposely tried to get back to the speed I ran on my first sprint, was faster than the first sprint, even though it didn’t feel like it. That is interesting to me.

So, on the way to my run I decided to Stop Fucking Around. Originally I was going to run a mile at an easy pace because I was worried I overdid it at the last parkrun. But I didn’t overdo it. I was just slow, and being slow means that I’m spending more time running, which means I’m more prone to injury or soreness. I think, instead of pushing myself to get better, I’ve been settling back, out of fear of injury or collapsing or puking or looking like an idiot at parkrun or on the track, I don’t know what.

But an average 13:30/mi pace is abysmal. It’s slow for me, which is saying something. I think the Race for Warmth made me realize that I’m faster than I give myself credit for. Yes, I’m also out of shape and heavy. But I’ve still got the muscle from years of squatting, just sitting there, deflated, ready to work again. My pace seven years ago was a full minute and change faster than today, but at the Race for Warmth, my pace was 13:07. That means I am well on track to get back to my old pace, and even faster, as long as I keep pushing myself.

Is every days a SFA day? No, of course not. Next time I run it will be slow and easy, for endurance and to recover a bit before Saturday. Parkruns will always just be whatever I’m capable of. Races I will push myself. But Mondays … Mondays are to Stop Fucking Around and kick my ass into high gear.

personal running

parkrun #4

Number 4 down the drain and it was rainy right up until the actual run started, which was awesome. Strava fucked up my GPS again, shorting me a full 5k. My time with it is around a minute faster than my parkrun time, too, which … whatever, it’s parkrun, not the Olympics.

I didn’t bring my headphones this time because I wanted to experience the run on its own. It’s great, I recommend it. People are friendlier when you don’t have headphones on. (Depending on the circumstances at least.) There was a visitor from Scotland this morning who was very sweet. I wanted to chat with her after the run but ran the damn thing again, so I didn’t get to ask her the one thing I wanted to ask: Do you know who Limmy is?

I ran 4/1 splits again, which is what I’ve been doing this whole week as part of my 5k-all-run training. I think, overall, that I nailed it. I cheated a couple of times, stopping 10 seconds earlier than I should, but to be fair, I didn’t bring my headphones so I didn’t have my interval timer app telling me when to walk, which meant I had to keep checking my phone, which was annoying. Again, it’s parkrun, it’s nothing official.

I did end up having to stop a couple times because around mile 2, my left foot pad starts to go numb. Not entirely sure why, other than general wear and tear from this nearly 300lb man. It goes away if I stop and stretch out my ankle a bit, so I think it’s a nerve issue more than a lack of blood flow or anything. I do plan to get it checked out by a doc, though I suppose they’ll just tell me to take ibuprofen and stay off it for a week.

Which I may end up doing anyway! I was thinking about a deload of sorts for the next week. Where I can shift focus a bit on strength training for my legs. I think my goal will just be to run a mile on Monday and Wednesday. That’s it. Do an easy mile on Monday and then maybe try to run a fast mile on Wednesday. Then parkrun #5, and then back to the training schedule.

I have to be careful, because I know recovery and rest is important but I don’t want to overdo the rest to the point where I slide back into being sedentary, or lose my progress. I know that’s kind of hard to do but still. I eventually want to run longer distances, but first I have to ensure that my legs can keep up with me.

After the run I went to the Albertsons nearby and bought the perfect recovery drink:

Chocolate milk! It’s so god damn good you guys. I haven’t had chocolate milk in years but it is nearly perfect. Unless you’re lactose intolerant, of course. But you should still drink it, I think. Just get the shits, it’s worth it.

Until next week!

personal technology

Technology & Life Musings

or, Spending Money to Give Away Things

It’s just my luck that I am considering this year my Marie Kondo year, when she in fact has stopped Marie Kondoing herself. I’m always late to the trends!

I’ve decided to downsize, particularly in the technology category. I’ve been meaning to do this for some time, but this year the exercise and shit like that has pushed my endorphins high enough that I actually feel like doing it. Plus I realized that FreeGeek is just a few blocks away. I have a lot of old tech (and cords … oh god the cords) and electronics that are just gathering dust, when they could go to people who need them.

But it’s funny how, in order to downsize, I actually have to buy things. For example: I have this big asshole gaming desk.

I bought this sometime in 2021, before I moved to my current apartment. It’s pretty big: about 63″ wide and 30″ deep. Large enough to hold all that stuff you see in the picture. It’s also, admittedly, kind of shit. It’s two top pieces (likely particle board) put together and held in place with metal plates. Those then sit on two wobbly metal legs and a cross bar. There are no triangles down there, you know, so it wobbles and the whole thing feels flimsy. But hey, it’s a desk, and it was way better than my desk before it (though that one had extra support to prevent wobbles).

My old apartment was around 600 sq ft; this one is 450. The difference is noticeable but it’s alright. I traded space for location, newer building, better amenities, etc. Ever since the move, though, this desk has been bothering me. It’s just too big. It’s not just too big for this apartment–it’s too big, period. I suppose a year ago I was doing streaming stuff and thought that the space would be helpful, but I can’t stand it anymore. It’s too big, there’s too much going on, I want to downsize.

Well, that means I have to buy a new desk. Which I’ve done. But that desk is probably too small for a computer tower, an ultrawide monitor, and a second monitor. So I thought about it for a bit. What do I do with the second monitor, anyway? Usually I watch YouTube videos while I play video games. Do I need a huge, 1920×1080, 75mhz monitor for that? No, of course not. Well, what if I used my newly refurbished laptop as a second monitor instead? That presents a couple of problems: first, my laptop is so old that I don’t want it to be on that much, and second, it’s so old that the moment it gets anywhere near hot, the loud obnoxious fan inside kicks on. Don’t want that either.

So then I thought, what if I had a little tablet? Something smaller that would definitely fit and could act as a second monitor, or just be there if it doesn’t work as a second monitor? I ended up pursuing this idea and bought a cheap Samsung tablet. It’s only a 10″ screen but I don’t think that’ll be an issue, because I can set it up closer to me for watching. Plus, it’s a tablet! I had thought of getting one of those portable LCD screens, which are about the same price but have a larger screen, but I settled on a tablet because it can do other stuff. Plus, it’s much smaller, and that’s what I’m about right now. Downsizing.1Big TV is an exception. Big TV is Good.

I could try to sell my monitor and recoup some costs, but I’ll probably just give it to FreeGeek. Selling stuff is a pain in the ass and I want to give some low income kid an opportunity to play some PC games on a decent monitor. I tried selling my other other monitor through Nextdoor and it didn’t sell. At this point I’m just sick of having all this stuff. I want to get rid of as much of it as I can. But unfortunately, that means spending more money. Hopefully, this will be the absolute end of money spending and I can use the rest of 2023 to pay off these damnable credit cards.

So, you know. Growing pains. Or shrinking pains, really. Sometimes in order to pursue the life you want, you have to buy some shit and give away some other shit. C’est la vie.

  • 1
    Big TV is an exception. Big TV is Good.
betterment personal running

Race for Warmth

*sports announcer voice* “And oh what a race for warmth it is today, Todd!”

“That’s right, Jerry, it’s colder than a witch’s tit out here.”

“It’s colder than the balls on a brass monkey.”

“It’s cold as fuck Jerry!”

This morning I left my apartment at around 8:15 am. The Portland air was crisp and cold. I drove to Vancouver, Washington, which took about 15 minutes. I then parked at a high school parking lot. Upon exiting the vehicle, I discovered that Vancouver was WINDY AS HELL.

And that was my opening impression of the Race for Warmth, a 5/10k out in the Couv, put on by Clark (County) Public Utilities to benefit Operation Warm Heart which helps low-income families pay their heating bills during the cold months (or just in general, I guess). The race began and ended at the Clark Public Utilities building, which is right off the I-5 bridge, making for an easy trek. The packet pickup the day before was a drive through event, which reminded me a lot of when I got the covid vaccine, except this time I got the vaccine of … future exercise. How about that.

The “swag bag” (remember when swag was a thing the youths would say?) consisted of some free and discount coupons, two tickets to see a Ridgefield Raptors baseball game in June (hell yeah, why not), and one of those emergency blankets and a hand warmer, which I think people used during or before the race but seems to be more intended for an emergency kit for your car.

The atmosphere of the event was great. It wasn’t too crowded, everyone was fucking freezing, and there were a couple of tents with free stuff. Relevant Coffee provided the morning bean juice, which was very good. They also gave away a $5 gift card in the swag bag, which I fully intend to use in the future. Meanwhile, a tent for Why Racing Events gave away some stuff, including my favorite free thing, some old PDX carpet sunglasses. They had some other stuff too that I totally forgot to grab.

“I make this look good.” Remember Men in Black?

They seem to do a lot of triathlon races but also noticed I was wearing my Shamrock Run hoodie and suggested I run sign up for their version, the Couve Clover Run, which happens a week after the Shamrock Run. Maybe I will, Why Racing Events … maybe I will.

(Side note: I always thought it was “Couv,” not “Couve.” Both are colloqualisms, so who cares, but maybe I ought to trust the Washingtonians.)

The tent next to theirs was for NW Personal Training, also based in Vancouver. They gave out INCREDIBLY HELPFUL drawstring bags so I could carry all of my free shit. This was very good. Also, some sunglasses and the Weirdest Free Thing, a license plate frame.

Lastly, there were Franz cookies, which of course were delicious.

As for the race itself: I did good! I managed to run the entire first mile without stopping, which was one of my two goals for the race. According to Strava, my first mile was 11:44 and I was a 25:33 for two miles, both of which are current PRs. I knew running the first mile like I did would cause me to lose energy toward the end. My pace dropped pretty significantly during miles two and three, which is not really what I want, but I wanted to go faster overall and I guess I made that sacrifice.

My other goal was a sub 40 min 5k, which I didn’t hit, but I think I was only about a minute over. My Strava time was 40:54, but that was for 3.07 miles because Strava does that sometimes. I thought I started the app with ample time to hit 3.1 but I guess not! Regardless, I think that’ll be about my chip time. If there was a gun time, it will be about a minute or so slower, because the start was a goddamn choke point, and also because there were a surprising amount of people walking. It was a walk/run event but it seemed like most people around my area were walkers. Ain’t nothing wrong with that, except it was like running through a minefield trying to dodge walkers left and right.

UPDATE: My chip time was 40:44, 10 sec faster than Strava, which is weird. Gun time was as expected, 42:24.

There were some slight uphills along the way, which I tried to run every time. You won’t get better at running inclines unless you actually run them. My grandaddy told me that once. (This is untrue.) Also a nice stretch along the Columbia River and this Vancouver Waterfront section that I think is fairly new. I don’t remember the drive into Vancouver being so nice. Is Vancouver nicer than Portland now? That would be wild.

So, for next time, I think the goal is to actually slow down my first mile pace so that my second and third miles are steadier. Like, if they’re all 13 minutes, that would be great, plus I’d get under 40 minutes. I think the adrenaline of running a race with people made me start out a lot faster. But who knows? Maybe in a month or two from now, 11:44 will be my 5k pace. Here’s hoping.

After the race there was an after party with a live band (god bless you musicians for playing in the cold), some turkey stew which was alright, cans of Michael Bubly, and more cookies. I had a sit and ate my stew and then promptly left. One of these days I’ll make some runner friends, but today is not that day!

Overall, a nice race that I would absolutely run again next year.

See you in a couple weeks for the Providence Heart to Start!