Some serious weather surrounding the island. I guess with the favorable winds I’m getting some seriously scary stuff. The whole south and east sides of the island are surrounded by t-storms. Warnings of water spouts (aka a friggin water tornado that’ll kill you). With each minute that I spend deliberating on my options, which frankly none of which include putting even a toe in the water, the horizon is getting darker and darker. It looks like black demons just swallowed the full moon. I’m scared, very, very, very scared. So scared of abandoning the day that I waited two weeks for, prepared six months for, spent several thousand dollars on, so scared that I may need to move on, try a more dependable adventure. With the binds of med school quickly approaching I am antsy to see the world, not sit here trapped on an island waiting. But I’m scared of the disappointment I may feel in a few weeks that I missed my chance. I know The Bahamas aren’t going anywhere and I almost certainly would fail in the most horrific of ways if I set off right now, but it still troubles me beyond imagination. As I type this a squall has settled over the island. The winds have shifted from the north and picked up to 20 knots. The frequency of lightning on the horizon has increased. Strong winds and 6-9 foot swells predicted now. One of the few things that I cannot compete with is high voltage electricity. As hard as this is to say: screw this I’m not dying tonight.
Recently I have been studying the exploits of some incredible adventurers, specifically solo explorers in small water craft crossing bodies of water that regularly sink much larger vessels. The designs and the different methods of accomplishing similar goals are so vastly different that I find myself absolutely fascinated and curious as to what is the absolute best method.
The reason this is all of interest to me is because I am also exploring the possibility of embarking on one of these long distance adventures, one that I can only find record of one other person attempting, albeit with a companion and in a canoe. This man, Verlen Kruger, paddled from Florida to Venezuela, and that is exactly what I hope to do. Verlen completed the trip with assistance for long open ocean crossings, something I cannot expect nor intend to receive.
I watched an interesting TED talk last night. It challenged the belief that government and NGOs could be the solution to the worlds problems. Michael Porter challenges that belief with his acknowledgement that without profits, these efforts cannot effect the world on a large-scale. It seems they are unsustainable. To make something profitable, however, could bring about the global change we all look to accomplish. Whether his goals could accomplish the change that we all desire is up to debate. But it is an interesting deviation from the belief that businesses act solely in their own self-interest and are a strain on society at large.
Last week my dad asked me to do a favor for him. The favor seemed simple, go in to a doctor’s appointment with my granddad. The doc had requested a family member be there to hear the results of an MRI. I was the only family in town and was happy to go. But what I heard, what I felt was not what I expected at all. My granddad is on the downhill. The MRI showed several strokes and severe brain shrinkage. I carried this information, this weight and passed it on to my dad. Three of my grandparents are dead, two when I was really young, and the other was sudden. To carry this weight, to get some idea of the future was heavy for me. In the room I felt my eyes water but I maintained composure. Driving straight to work afterwards, I couldn’t do anything to hold the tears back. It was heavy, it was real. It was a feeling that goes beyond the capacity of my words, almost untouchable. Life is no joke, no game and this was the first step in a cascade of realizations that hit me in the past few days.
I went to whole foods a few days ago for only the second time in my life. Having been a vegetarian for over a decade and recently switching to being vegan, a store like Whole Foods makes grocery shopping tremendously easier. However, after scanning the aisles and realizing exactly what “whole” meant to this company and its customers, I cannot bring myself to support their movement. Whole Foods and the movement that has fueled it makes me cringe with its lack of evidence and appeal to sensationalism. Claiming environmental awareness, sustainable agriculture, and healthier foods, Whole Foods fails to support these principles with its selection. From high prices and bad science of organic farming to the sale of meat, every step I took in that store was one step closer to never going back. Continue reading Why you should never shop at Whole Foods
Just over a year ago I set my personal record for 800 yards. It was nothing to brag about, but having been known as a chaser throughout my triathlon career, it was nice to finally be able to come out of the water with the leaders. At 9:38, a personal record by over twenty-five seconds, I was absolutely ecstatic. I was thrilled that my swimming was finally taking off after years of flopping around in the water. But at the same time I wanted to know how I made such a giant improvement in a matter of a couple months. I looked back at my training and it looked consistent as ever. My form had adapted only slightly, but that day something felt different. I felt like I was on top of the water; I felt absolutely fatigue-free for the first six hundred yards. My flip turns were smooth and my stoke held strong. But what led to all this if my training and stroke improvement very likely didn’t? I was swimming with intestinal gas, loads of it. Seriously, I think it was because I had to fart. Really. Goddamn. Badly. Continue reading Swimming with intestinal gas
A couple weeks ago I visited Blacksburg, Virginia for a couple days to clean up where I had been living. I had stayed at my parents’ place for the last three and a half years and it showed. Some of their friends were going to be using the place so I had to touch it up before they got there. But I didn’t want to just drive there and back, I wanted an adventure, I wanted an escape. So I shoved some gear into my backpack and planned for a trip in the woods.
I made it to Blacksburg around two in the morning and crashed. The next day I quickly cleaned and called a couple of my friends who were still there. I told them what I wanted to do. I had ants in my pants and there was only one sure fix. My friend Daniel and I went over to our friend Scott’s place to talk plans. Daniel had no intentions of coming with us but after hours of discussion, we convinced him to meet us out there after buying some gear from Blue Ridge Mountain Sports. Scott and I made it to hiking just before seven pm. It’s not unusual for us to get a late start but this was a little crazy even for us considering we had sixteen miles to our destination. We headed towards Dragon’s tooth in Catawaba, Virginia, a beautiful mountaintop rock formation with incredible views, possible star-gazing, and good enough shelter from the wind. Continue reading Summer backpacking adventure
I’m going to take a little detour from my usual rant to talk about something completely badass and fascinating and awesome and that everyone should do (especially if you have kids). Last year I got really, really excited about the crap I was learning in school but had no outlet for it. My labs while claiming the title of “experiments” were far from experimentation. Structured down to every milliliter and gram, there was absolutely no freedom to let creativity soar and learn some of the more fascinating aspects of chemistry and physics. So I decided to do a little experimentation of my own. I went online to see what kind of stuff I could order and was absolutely amazed that most of the stuff my labs were ordering I could buy too (for far less than the price of a college education). It was much more fascinating too, to be able to just run free and break some rules, do some things I may later regret without liability to anyone else. So when the sixteen ounces of bismuth came in the mail, I whipped out my lab goggles and stepped into my condo’s kitchen. Continue reading Bismuth crystals
Nearly every day I hear of some case of sexism in the world, why it should end, and how we are to combat it. The adult world shuns this sexism. But after being surrounded by kids the past few months, I realized that it is no wonder adults are often sexist. We raise our kids that way. We teach them differences between genders that are not innate. We encourage boys to play with construction toys and discourage them from princesses. In this light it seems no wonder that engineering schools are flooded with males. I hear a sexist comment nearly every hour in my life surrounded by children and their parents, and yet no one acknowledges it, or is even aware of it. Prepubescent children are nearly identical biologically and the behaviors that we tie to them and differentiate with them are almost completely trained. I wonder too how much of these ties later in life are due to this sexism ingrained in them from birth. Continue reading Sexism in kids
With the back half of the triathlon season quickly approaching, I find myself in a situation I never expected, with my race calendar empty for the entirety of 2013’s next six months and empty of results from the last six. In my results and rankings section, a tab for 2013 doesn’t even exist. I did not disappear. I am not burned out. I did not plan this. I am not injured or tired. I love the sport of triathlon just as much as ever. I am not any busier than normal, and nor more broke than normal. I have access to adequate training and facilities. So why has this calendar been littered with work schedules and due dates rather than training plans and race dates? Continue reading Mid-season recap