The current Happiness meme is bullshit.
The commentary is that you are on this earth to be happy. That you should only be doing what makes you happy.
“Follow your heart.”
This sounds nice and would be nice, if it were true. Truth is that humans are not the only inhabitants of this planet, and most inhabitants of this planet put forth massive amounts of effort to survive. To wake up the next morning.
Why then are we so special, that we should be put here for the sole purpose of being happy? What makes humans so unique in this respect?
Granted, for many of us, certainly most in the United States, life doesn’t require the amount of effort that it once did. However, that does not confer any special meaning in itself. No more than your pet dog’s life being super easy compared to a wild wolf’s, confers any special meaning.
Additionally, how does the current Happiness ethos inform people in this world dealing with real struggle and suffering? How does it impact the real injustices, even right here in the United States? What does it say to someone with real horrors in their life, to say that Happiness is the standard of success.
Similarly, it seems convenient that the people who control things in this world, seem to be in pursuit of other things, largely by selling us Happiness.
Happiness has been commoditized, packaged, branded, and marketed to us as some sort of special ethos. Something that, the pursuit of, places the pursuer on a higher spiritual, ethical. And, conversely, if you’re not happy, you fail.
I, myself, could care less about my personal happiness. Take it or leave it. I don’t want my life force, and my time in this life to be spent on self-gratification. That is not growth. That is not progress. Nothing grows without struggle and effort. Muscles don’t. Trees don’t. Babies don’t. Families don’t. Cultures don’t.
Additionally, the converse is also true, lack of effort leads to atrophy, decay and death. Civilizations die. Muscles die. Thus, Happiness, as it is popularly conceptualized is a fairly risky state.
I do believe in Goodness. I would want my struggle and suffering in this life to lend some measure of increase to the Goodness in this world.
That would make me Happy.
Today was/is Inauguration Day. For many it is the best day ever. For many others it is the worst day ever. What did I do today to celebrate/mourn?
I went to work.
I got out of bed at 5:36am. Made coffee. Sent out my remaining invoices. Talked to my daughter about her essay. Then I went to work.
I cut up a fallen tree.
I met a prospective customer for a bid.
Because the bottom line that as bad as this new administration is going to be, it was already baked in. In fact, to those mourning, it is really your fault. Hillary Clinton should have never be the “presumptive” candidate. The majority of Trump voters would only have voted for him, with the alternative of Clinton.
And given all that, my only real option is to continue to block and tackle. Put in the work. Everyday. Keep it basic. Trump is not on my side. Lord knows, Hillary is not. So much theater–These people are on the same team.
Who’s going to pay my mortgage? Who’s going to fix my truck?
Just another day. You know what I doing next?
Hitting the weights.
I started my annual (mostly annual) cleanse yesterday I had been procrastinating for the last month, as I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand, and had not made the 20 minute trip to the local health food store to get the remaining items. As it turns out the local store I had in mind had closed its doors back in November. I then remembered another store almost right next door to my gym They, too, had closed their doors. Thus, I was forced to my Android Google Maps app, and found another store, apparently the last brick and mortar legit health food and herb store in my area (i.e., not a GNC or Vitamin Shoppe). Google Maps also apparently feels that CVS and Walgreens are health food stores.
Peachtree Health Foods, had the Parafree equivalent, ParaResponse, bulk psylliym husk fiber (though generic Metamucil will do in a pinch) which I was lacking. I still have a good stash of bentonite clay and Senna tea.
With the change from Parafree to ParaResponse, I made a couple of tweaks to my 2012 cleanse recipe. It is still broken into three 10 day phases, with the following tweaks in the Parafree capsules. I made these changes purely for economic reasons. The bottle at $24 had 90 pills. To make the 90 pills last 30 days.
First 10 days follow the recipe as before except:
- Days 1-5 Take one capsule each morning
- Days 6-10 Take two capsules each morning (15 capsules)
Second 10 days all the same except:
- Days 11-15 Take two capsules each morning and one each evening
- Days 16-20 Take two each morning and two each evening (35 capsules, 50 total)
Third 10 days: Maintain the same protocol two in the morning and two in the evening (40 capsules, 90 total)
Keep all other aspects of the protocol the same as described in my earlier post
Some modicum of prior planning could save you a lot of money, time and aggravation by shopping for and ordering your ingredients online.
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Stream of consciousness. . .
It is 2105, and I am back in the saddle again. Not yet literally. The amount of energy I had put into ramping up for Ironman was quite remarkable, in hindsight. Only in retrospect can I objectively see how much energy preparing for and executing that race required. Just a few days after the race, I was T-Boned in a car accident. And then my work (that thing I do to eat, pay the mortgage) got very crazy. Subsequently, my blogging, and social networking in general has really suffered. In the vein of New Year’s resolutions, I will be devoting more effort to my online activities. I have some blog ideas that have been back-burnered for some time.
It all works for good. I’ve been in the gym getting strong. I am the strongest I’ve been in my life. Though, my cardio endurance has certainly suffered, my physical resilience has multiplied.
Topical Preview for 2015
. . . Still in stream of consciousness mode. . .
Politically, I have grown more cynical and suspicious as I see the news media and national politicians directing our focus towards distracting events, and spinning even those with thinly-veiled and misleading (at best) narratives.
My spiritual focus has been more on the mundane, than the philosophical. I continue to prioritize practice over philosophy. Though, I have worked to put a definition on my practice. In the past, I’ve argued that this is a gratuitous endeavor. Nonetheless, I have found it instructive, especially in exposing certain emotional attachments I still have to my past practices, despite the fact it no longer serves.
Certain business challenges have brought me into contact with an entire class of people whom I thought I knew, but as it turns out, really didn’t. I knew intellectually, but didn’t really know in a tangible way, the extent to which education, or the lack thereof, acts effectively like a learning disability. The post-Great-Recession labor market environment has left some very large holes in the labor market for my very hands-on, mud and dirt business. In recruiting to fill these holes, I have been introduced in a new way to an entire segment of our society (a significant segment), that I had not fully understood.
In fact, in this post-Great-Recession environment, I have come to a whole new understanding of the future economic prospects, investing, effects of currency manipulations, business direction. I have always argued that our consumer/debt based economy had a certain cannibalistic tinge to it, and that wealth and prosperity required actual production. I feel that it may be more sinister than that.
At any rate, it’s good to be back. Talk to you soon.
There is no purpose to my training. There is no real end-goal to all of this. People ask why I train. Last night the question came up with one of our surrogate daughters (as I call them). This time it was in the form of “Why do you triathlons?” We were discussing Ironman. The answer was “Because it was the next step”–Which doesn’t really answer her question.
The question of Purpose implies in part a practical purpose. My training and competing does have some practical side benefits. There are several very real real-world reasons I train. However, these are not compelling enough in themselves to justify what I do. Therefore, in honesty they are not Why I Train.
I have asked this question before.
Training has many practical benefits. I have actually needed it in the real world. Survival is a huge one. General health. Improved mental functioning. Ability to keep up with my kids. Respect amongst my peers. Social outlet. Fun. Improvement in my other purposeless activities (rock climbing, camping, hiking, fishing). It is a tool on my spiritual path. But none of these, even surviving the coming apocolypse, is really compelling enough.
I’ve been reading the “E-Myth” Series of books, by Michael E. Gerber. In E-Myth Mastery he tackles this question of Purpose, Passion, and Vision (his distinctions). Gerber concludes that once something is reduced to purpose, practicality is attached, and the original vision is killed. This is something experienced in business all the time. Artists talk of how earning a living from their art, killed their art. I am going through this in my business right now. My artistic vision has been compromised by the practical needs of operating a business. Consequently, I find my passion waning.
Walking back to the soccer fields last night, approaching from above, I was able to look out over the whole complex spread out under the lights. I was struck by the sheer numbers of kids working hard at something, which, for most of them, will yield no practical results. There will be no soccer scholarships for most. Most will not play on the top state and national teams. Even for those who play on top teams, or make their competitive high school squads, the real practicality of it all is hard to define. There are much better ways to finance a college education than pouring all the time and money we do into sports. We put a massive amount of effort and resources as a society into sports. All of which only yields “practical” results for an improbably narrow slice.
Why do we do this?
I believe it is a primordial longing that compels us. Our obsession for sports embodies a longing for a Human state lost thousands of years ago. I’ve talked about how the Warrior class developed as human society became more organized. How the Warrior class is an embodiment of some of our most powerful Human evolutions. The Warrior is a link between Civilized man and Natural man. We long for this connection.
There is no Purpose to my training. I am compelled by a calling from time before Reason, a root deeper than Purpose.
Confession: I weigh myself on a scale several times per week.
The scale, or more specifically, body weight, is something of a loaded subject in our modern ego-driven, hyper-sexualized, glamour driven, air-brushed, before -and-after culture. Most people associate its use singularly with weight-loss. Weight loss being about as pervasive, yet non-specific a topic as can be found in health discourse.
I do not weigh myself with the aim to lose any weight. A few things I am looking for:
- Significant fluctuations, and corresponding behaviors
- Ensure my nutritional intake is in line with my training volume: specifically to stay in a certain range above what I’ve determined to be my best racing (fighting) weight.
- As a figure in calculating body-fat percentage. Again monitoring body-fat for significant fluctuations, and to stay in a certain range.
- To keep my training weight a couple of pounds over my race weight. My race weight being that number I was at when I felt the strongest in a race. Not sluggish, and not depleted. This is only known by tracking weight against performance, along with some other numbers, and adjustments for other impacts on weight like detox and cleanse.
What I don’t care about is the number for its own sake. I don’t care about height weight charts. I don’t care what other guys at the gym weigh (many are bigger and weigh more, but can’t lift more). If the FDA or USDA said it, I probably don’t care about it, and will likely do the opposite, knowing how wrong they are. I don’t care what some guy in Men’s Health looks like, as he probably can’t out-lift, out-run, out-swim, out-survive me, especially once the airbrush work is done. (Wow, how’s that for some vanity)
I track body weight in correlation with several factors, and have determined what is healthy for me.
For example, after Augusta last year, I noted a significant weight loss. I also discovered I was overtrained. The low body weight began before Augusta and also accompanied an increased resting heart rate for a few months post race. My deduction from all this was that I had overtrained going into Augusta. It was likely the result of injuries a month or so ahead of the race, and then my push to compensate for the lost training time.
Lesson: Carefully monitor my training volumes against my recovery times and nutrition, using several measurements to augment my own intuitive sense.
Another use for body weight it determining my hydration levels. If my weight is low, and my body-fat numbers are screwy, despite how I feel, I’m likely dehydrated. It could be my plasma hydration is fine, but my general electrolyte levels are off, affecting my muscle hydration.
Low body weight (below my training weight), can indicate I’m not taking in enough calories, or maybe my protein intake is off. Each of which can cause training to be a negative, or can lead to overtraining.
As mentioned a couple of times above, I track body-fat composition and use that as an indicator for several things.
A pop in body weight, especially after an out-of-town trip, can indicate I was eating too much crap on the road, and am now bloated. Time to flush my system.
Almost all of these indicators are accompanied by a feeling, that if I tune into, my body will tell me what is going on. However, one of the things about being an athlete, is ignoring certain signals our body sends us, despite how loud they may be screaming.
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Another great day at the Georgia Veterans Triathlon (Sprint). I managed to put up a personal best for this race, despite sucky swim and bike conditions.
My previous posts for this race:
This may be my last prep race before Augusta 70.3 and then, Ironman Florida. My main goals were to test some recent equipment changes, some transition tweaks, and nutrition strategies. From those respects, everything went very nicely.
Down and Dirty
I really enjoy this race. It was my first triathlon. This is my third time doing it. The swim, swim transition, bike course, and run course are all very friendly, and conducive to the first-timer, or the vet looking for something fun. This time around, the weather was less than friendly with recent thunderstorms creating choppy lake water, and wet bike pavement. There was a slight drizzle for the swim start, but it was gone by the time we got out of the water. The roads were wet for the bike, making navigation on the older road beds tricky. However, the roads had dried a good bit by the run start. I put up a personal best on this course, despite these issues. It was a good day.
Distances: 400 yard swim, 13.6 mile bike, 5k run. With relay team option, also
Course: Loop 400 yard swim in Lake Blackshear;
13.6 mile loop bike, no aid stations;
5k out and back run, 2 aid stations (can hit them going each way).
Registration: $55, early mail-in, USAT member. I hate online registration through those thieves at Active.com .
Host: Georgia Multisport
Weather: I could see thunderstorms in distance on the road to the race. It had clearly recently rained, and the race start was delayed 30 min, due to the delay in clearing the course from the recent thunderstorms. (good thing too, because a tree had evidently needed to be cleared from the bike course roadway). It was drizzling as we waited to start the swim, but that ended before we got out of the water. The wind did, however, create the choppiest swim conditions I’ve seen to this point. Even more difficult than Turtle Crawl. Good training though–we can’t predict what race conditions will be for any future race, and it is necessary to train and be prepared for all sorts of things. Same goes for the bike. The road was wet, and at least one guy I passed got some road rash. He stated all was good, though. My front tire was skipping on the older eroded sections of asphalt. Perhaps I could have taken a few pounds of pressure out of the front tire, but then again it was fine on the smooth sections which make up maybe three-quarters of the course. Weather for the run ended up being ideal, and I was blowing past people at a high rate of speed.
- Swim–Start at a sandy boat ramp. A simple out for 150 or so yards, hang a right for 100 or so, and back.
- Bike–Fairly flat. The first third to half is twisty and mildly technical. A couple of slow risers on the second half. Virtually dead flat on the last stretch.
- Run–Fairly flat also, a couple of short rollers between mile 1.5 and 2.5. Punch it after the last turn.
Competition: Mixed bag of super fast guys, and first-timers.
My results: Mid pack on swim, Mid pack on bike, and front on run. An improvement for me all things considered. My greatest opportunities still lie in the swim and bike. Need to work on muscular endurance for swim to better overcome tough swim conditions. Once warmed up on the bike, I was able to build speed and hold it. On the run, I kept my strokes short, and continued to build speed after first mile.
General Impression: I really enjoy this race. It is well organized. Safety, especially on the tricky portion of the bike is a priority. There is roadway traffic, but it is light with no jerks. Nice looking t-shirt.
Room for improvement: No complaints.
This time I made the three hour drive from home race day morning with no hotel stay. This year it is important that I control my expense with two very expensive races on the calendar. The previous two years I’ve spent the night before in a local hotel. Also, with more experience, for these shorter races, I can wake up early, make the road trip, bust a race, ride back, all in one day. Trick being, as with all races, to get a really good night’s sleep the second night before. How many races can you really get a good night’s sleep the night before anyhow?
My goals were to test some things in preparation for Florida.
- I had recently installed an new wheel set, which works beautifully, however the new gearing had some kinks to work out.
- I’ve been training in Vibrams, but don’t want to race in them for a couple of reasons, hence I recently bought some Saucony Hattoris and wanted to test them in a race scenario.
- New water bottle configuration, and homemade sports drink.
- New bungee swim goggle straps, which have been working great in the pool, also worked great in the lake.
I woke up about 3am, got packed, out the door, and on the road by 4am. Arrived at the venue right at 7am, set up transition, chilled out for a while. Got a good warm up swim. Bust the race. Ate some post race food. Saw I had no chance of medalling, and made the three hour drive to the princess’s soccer tournament. After the tournament, drove home one hour. Showered and made it to Keb Mo / Aaron Neville concert not too late.
Such is the life.
It was a good day.
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