Jun 30, 2005

New PR on my 3-mile Rockland Lake run

Did my 3-mile run in 31:50 today, which is a new PR. 32:30 was the old.

I now have a cheststrap heart rate monitor - which is going to keep me from going to fast the first mile. I set it to give me an alarm if I went below 80% or above 90%. So for the first two miles, I was running at a pretty good clip, with a heart rate at about 88-90%. The last mile, however, I had a hard time keeping it below 90% without slowing down to a really easy jog. Every time I looked, it said 93-94%, even though I was running slower than the first two miles. I finally gave up trying to stay below 90% and pushed through to the finish. For about the last 200 meters, I said "screw it" and ran hard - got the heart rate up to 99% at the very end.

When I break 30 minutes, I am going to have some sort of gluttunous celebration.

My experience on the NYMEX

So yesterday I was down in the city to meet a friend who works on the floor of the NY Mercantile Exchange. Now for those of you who don't know what it is, the NYMEX is the worldwide center of commidities trading - when you hear on the news that crude oil is up above $60, it's because someone sold a barrel of oil for $60 - and that barrel is usually sold at the NYMEX.

Still don't recognize it? Ok, think back to Trading Places. Yeah, Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd. Remember at the climax they were writing tons of tickets, putting the Dukes out of business in the frozen concentrated orange juice pit? That was at the NYMEX. And it still runs pretty much the same way as it did in 1983 when the movie was realeased - a bunch of grown men in a pit yelling at each other.

And that's where I was yesterday. My friend got Alex and I down onto the floor of the exchange and he gave us the nickel tour on how things worked down there. He has worked there for 27 years and could actually have been an extra in Trading Places had he not already had plans that weekend. They filmed that scene on-location and used real exchange employees as extras.

A couple of things to note:
1. Yes, believe it or not, there really is a pit for frozen concentrated orange juice.
2. Yes, being a broker on that exchange is a brutal, high-stress, high-intensity job.

Now my friend works in natural gas - which is the pit right next to crude oil. Now this is just an educated guess, but I'd say that of all the commodities on the exchange: cotton, corn, sugar, coffee, grain, etc., crude oil is probably the one that gets the most press, followed by natural gas. This is especially true the day before I got there, as it sold for the first time at $60 a barrel. When I got there, oil was selling for about $57, and my friend said it had quieted down significantly since yesterday. I walked over to the crude oil pit, took a footprint the size of a small house, and saw what looked to me like utter pandemonium. It would be neat to see it when it was busy.

Jun 25, 2005


My running is going well. The improvements I have made in my endurance and speed are very good considering my size.

Whereas when I started I couldn't even run the 3-mile lap around Rockland lake, I am now pretty close to breaking the 30-minute mark. When I first got to the point where I could actually make it all the way around the lake without walking, I was doing it in about 40-45.

I am getting my wind back really quickly now. Before I would have to rest for 10-15 minutes before my breathing (and heart rate) got back to normal after the run. Now, I can do an active recovery (light jogging) and have the heart breathing come back to normal in only a couple of minutes. At first I was concerned about this because I thought I wasn't running hard enough, even though the run itself *was* hard. But after asking some friends, I found that this was actually a good sign of improved fitness.

Today, for the first time, I did not go to Rockland Lake to run the 3-mile lap. Instead, I went to the local high school track in Mahwah, NJ. It was 6PM, and about 85ยบ outside. I walked one lap, then ran a couple of laps to get nice and warm - and then I started working what will become the most effective exercise I can do to lose fat: Intervals.

Here's how I did it: I would sprint the straightaways, and jog the curves. The idea is to jog the curves slow enough that you get your wind back before the the next straightaway, but not too slow so it's not a reasonable effort. 10x120yards - the straightaways were 120 yards long (fresh stripes were painted on the football field) And I did it ten times. On the tenth one I sprinted really hard too - to get a good ooomph out of the last interval. This is GREAT exercise. It's so intense that, according to my books on running, your body won't let you do it more than twice a week. As I get better and better at it I'll add laps and do the sprints even faster.

My running program is going to become more structured now. Whereas I have been running three miles a few times a week, it was accomplishing results for me only because I'm so fat that *any* activity would produce great results. People who have been running for years know that while just doing the same run a few times a week is better than nothing, they could really make huge deposits by adding some structure to the running. There are all sorts of fancy or whimsical names for the types of runs they do: speedwork, VO2 max training, lactate threshold training, fartleks, hill training, race training - But it can be simplified to long runs, normal runs, and intervals. Well, what I did today would be considered speedwork. Not only does it produce amazing gains in my fitness, but it also makes me a faster runner. I'm also going to add a weekly long run, which is an endurance builder - it gets me used to being on my feet for a long time. Every thing else would be normal running - and I'll use the 3-mile Rockland Lake course as a litmus test.

When I break 30 minutes on that Rockland Lake course, I'm going to have some sort of gluttonous celebration.

Jun 23, 2005

Horrible SCOTUS decision today.

Today the Supreme Court ruled that municipalities could use eminent domain laws to seize property for private interests. In other words, you could be forced to leave to make room for WalMart.

It was a 5-4 decision, and the liberals justices voted FOR this - the conservatives dissented.

Majority was Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer.
Dissenting was O'Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas.

First off, I'd like to comment that, regardless of what you read on the internet, the illusion that liberals care only about "the people" and conservatives only care about "business" is simply untrue. That may be a perception that has grown during the Bush Admnistration, but hopefully when you look at pure ideology this decision will make clear that there is a fundamental difference in opinion between the two groups that influenced this decision - and that is, when you filter through all the tertiary and sometimes inconsequential details of the ideology you'll come to one gem that is continually harped on by this country's libertarians - the government does not have the right to do certain things.

Constraint of power is a powerful concept in the U.S. and was a crucial point to the Framers - just look at the Tenth Amendment. In recent decades, however, a scary trend has been taking place where the power of the Government is continually becoming less and less constrained. A decision like this would have been unthinkable prior to the New Deal, but because of the Government's lack of restraint lately, it's not surprising today. That doesn't make it any less wrong, however.

What is clear in today's decision is that the conservatives on the court value this restaint more than the liberals when coming to business - which is exactly the opposite of public perception. The problem is that the relatively pure ideologies of the members on the court don't influence public perception of conservative vs. liberal values. The reason is greasing that goes on with the regular rank-and-file politicians - and the sad fact is that while both sides get their share of grease, the Republicans (note I did not say conservatives) take more grease from corporate interests than the Democrats, particularly during the Bush Administration. This is not to say the Democrats aren't corrupt either - but it should be clear to everybody that the party in power is a more attractive target to mega-corporations and their lobbyists.

There are two things I abhor about the U.S. government: political parties, and lobbies (both for profit and non-profit.) Changes in the way these two factors relate to each other are the reason the restraint that our government was so good at for 150 years has completely broken down in the 20th century, and there's no reason to believe it won't continue to break down in the 21st century.

Perhaps today's decision will cause folks to realize what's going on about their rights slowly being squelched from them, but with a majority of U.S. citizens not being able to name even one supreme court justice, I doubt it. Partisan politics keeps things simplified and the people satisfied.

Jun 22, 2005

Refried Ass

Someone asked how I control eating. Here is my response:

Anyway, yeah, food is hard for me too and is the biggest problem with a lot of people. Food addiction is a brutal addiction, and if you compared it to cigarrettes, you'll find that it's both more subtle and more difficult to quit. I have improved enourmously in the last year in this area, and here is how I did it.

1. I got a REALISTIC idea of how many calories I was eating, and how many I should be eating. There were days when I could easily put away 10,000 calories. A guy my size (6'6" 360 lbs when I started) should probably eat between 2600 and 3600 calories a day, depending on activity level - so I was overdoing it by a huge margin. So how do you get a realistic idea of what you're eating? Buy a small scale for $10 and weigh your food. You'll be surprised how small a 210-calorie serving of macaroni is. You'll be even more surprised to see how few peanuts it takes to get 100 calories - and how quickly those peanuts add up. The worst, however, is potato/corn chips. Processed foods in general are very dense in calories and not very filling.

2. Watch the movie "Supersize Me" and read the book "Fast Food Nation" in the same month. I did this last year and haven't eaten at a fast food place since. Going back to point 1, I studder to think of how many calories I've not eaten just by skipping that damned dollar menu.

3. Once you've gotten an idea of what kind of calories certain foods contain, start planning your meals - write them down every day and stick to your plan. This prevents snacking.

4. Here's a special one by me: Binge once every other week or so. Eat two steaks and a shitload of white rice like I did last weekend. Take care of those cravings all at once. Feel like shit afterwards. Notice how much slower you are at exercise the next day. I feel that the benefits outweigh the extra calories here. Yes, I am eating 4000 calories in one meal. But I am also showing myself that eating like that makes me feel horrible. I am taking care of those cravings and then some. What you'll find is that your binge meals will get more and more reasonable as time goes on.

5. Skip the soda, skip the diet soda, skip the processed juices. I drink two things: seltzer and water. I have found that even with caffeine-free diet soda, I still crave it until I stop. There are probably some addictive ingredients in there, and it draws me to 7-11. Sure, there are no calories in the thing, but I walk past a million calories worth of seemingly innocent snack foods on the way to the fountain, and yes, I have found myself cheating. Once I made a point of switching to seltzer, I go in for seltzer much less often.


I am on the most radical diet ever. It's called the EAT LESS AND EXERCISE MORE diet. This diet is so cutting edge and so rare that there's hardly any books out there about it and many people don't know about it. But as you can see, there are some amazing results with this.

I didn't take a photo at the beginning of the diet, but here's a really good source photo demonstrating where I was:

(Self portrait at summit of Sassafras Mountain, highpoint of South Carolina, Nov 5, 2004.)

And here is a picture of me taken earlier today, June 22, 05.

I've lost about 15% of my goal at this point, and it's starting to suck. Mundane, constant hunger, don't want to exercise, etc. So I anonymously asked for some motivational thoughts on a public message board (and did not give any background information.) I gave an example: "hunger is what it feels like to have fat leaving your body."

Here are some selected responses:

"A smaller gut makes your penis look bigger."

"I lost 90lbs (265 to 175) in 4 months and have kept it off for over a year now.
By eating healthy, cutting out junk and running frequently."

"I don't have any words to motivate you, but I'll tell you this: getting healthy is worth every bit of effort you expend to do it. And then some.
//lost 170+
///kept it off
////loves slashes"

"Motivation: Being able to see your dick is a good thing. If you can see it, odds are greater that more chicks will want to see it."

"Seriously, don't give up. You'll feel a bajillion times better... no shortness of breath, you'll have more energy, less soreness and stiffness, more self-confidence, etc."

"If you're a cross-dresser, it will be a lot easier to find sexy dresses in smaller sizes. If that's your thing...and I'm not saying it is. But if it is, yep, easier to find dresses."

"When I go to the doctor they tell me I'm in great health. It's totally worth it. Just wait until your friends are older and getting fat because they never exercised. You'll end up the one in good shape while they struggle to start getting healthy.
/used to be a fat chick
//now eats the correct number of sammiches"

"'Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.'
Also, the more you do it, the more your body will get used to healthy food and exercise, and will crave it, so it won't be as hard to get yourself to follow the plan, etc."

A couple extra comments on that one:
1. "This is so true. I used to be a fast food fiend in college as I never had time to fix anything substantial and the dollar menu was my friend. I have since stopped eating fast food and on the rare occasion that I do, it always tastes like refried ass. Give me a good grilled chicken breast anyday."

2. "This is absolutely true. You get addicted to exercise after a while. I wish I were again. I'm stuck in the office wishing I could go to the gym more often.
Also- Make sure you spend the money for good shoes. When I have to drop $120 on running shoes I just think of my dad's knees. Which is another good point- my dad is 61 and the ONLY health problems he has are sports injuries because he's been active his whole life. Compare that to my mother who is a mess because she didn't exercise enough."

"When your finished, your quality of life will be so utterly different. The way you normally feel now, will be what feeling shiatty feels like when your done. Your health, your general happiness, your ability to live your life will all improve so drastically that you'll wonder how you ever coped with all the extra weight."

"Weight loss means a requirement for less pallbearers. And that means more mourners at your funeral.
And the funeral gets postponed, too."

"Put the 'lost' weight (rocks/stones) in a strong bag. Lifting the bag will remind you of what you've gained/lost. Aim to fill the bag to your target."

"Here's another motivation- you can buy clothes wherever you want when you are thinner."

(continuing on previous comment) "And they look way better on you"

"150 pounds is about how much the hot 5'10" chick who you want to bone weighs."

"Think about how awesome its going to be when you look in the mirror and say 'Damn. I'm friggin HOT.'

The most reliable thing I've found (my father-in-law swears by this, lost 50 pounds) is to not eat anything except raw fruit or veggies after 5PM (or 4 hours before your bedtime). Fruit is great for you, solves those sweet cravings late at night, but won't pack those pounds on right before bed."

A comment on the previously mentioned "And the funeral gets postponed, too.":

"This is the important point. Look, life is a gamble, you could be hit by lightning this afternoon, or 15 years from now. But if you avoid lightning, car accidents, alien invasion etc. then you are talking about extending your lifespan. And the minutes and days of your life are the sum capital that you have in this world. By getting healthy, you are expanding that capital. Good for you.

And even if you do run into worse health problems in the future, you know what, if you're healthy you WILL cope better. When I had my accident I was working in a warehouse and in the best shape I had been in since working construction a few years before. I was buff. I was in rehab out of rehab almost three months faster than another guy who was admitted the same day as me. He was a couple years older than me, but he was fat and...well generally unhealthy. So being healthy helps you cope with 'health crisis' better to.

Keep on doing what you're doing man. And be thankful that you CAN affect your leading 'health' issue, and your leading 'image' issue. The best I can do is mauve armrests."

Jun 16, 2005

Ski Porn!!

This last week has been a good one for fans of the ski porn business. We've got the trailers for the two top skiporn movie producers for their '05-'06 feature films, as well as ME (!!) featured in my buddy's home-grown ski-porn film.

Here's my 15 seconds of fame in Webee Genius' new movie, "White Noise."

Here's the trailer for Matchstick Production's new movie, "Hit List."

Here's the trailer for Teton Gravity Research's new movie, "Tangerine Dream."

Fap freely, if you're so moved.

Monster roadtrip coming up

Rizzo and I are going on another monster roadtrip on July 4th weekend. It is a highpointing roadtrip, and this one will be a doozy. Taking off from New York on Friday, we're going due west. The highpoints I want to visit are Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. If we are doing great on time, I also want to catch Wisconsin. We'll have about 80 hours to do it in, from friday night to monday night. It's going to be a test in endurance, but If I can drive to Texas without sleep I can do this. If all goes as planned, my map will go from this:

to this:

The way my highpointing is going, there are three states that might take a major time/expense to get to: Mighigan, who's highpoint is on the UP, Minnesota, who's highpoint is on the portion north of Lake Superior, and Alabama, who's highpoint is about 2 hours from Atlanta. I don't know when I'll get to Atlanta next, and a roadtrip just to do Alabama's highpoint seems pretty ludicrous. The Northeastern states are obviously the easiest to get to, followed by Virginia. I want to enjoy these hikes, and that means improved fitness, and that's the only reason I haven't done them already. ND, SD, NE, KS, and OK are all relatively easy hikes, but their highpoints are also on the west side of each of the states. That's going to take a seperate roadtrip to accomplish, perhaps from Denver.

Speaking of Denver, I am looking at taking a trip there sometime in the next few weeks. I have never been to Colorado and I want to see what it's like: the quality of life there, and I want to see the Colorado mountains with my own eyes. I'd also like to drive up Pike's Peak, on the second-highest highway in the world. This will not be a highpointing trip, even though CO's highpoint, Mt. Elbert, is just a dayhike. It's probably too much of a dayhike for my unacclimized fat ass. (:

Look for photos on both of these trips.

Jun 5, 2005

That damned bike

It's out of commission - again. Was riding home from work on friday - in a light drizzle - when I went over a brick crosswalk and my tires slipped. Scary, but I was able to pull out before a crash happened. 100 feet later two things happened in the same instant: 1. I noticed that my rear wheel was wobbly, 2. My rear tube popped.

I called my wife to get the car and come rescue me, and while I was waiting I replaced the tube. After putting it in, I confirmed that the rim was indeed either bent or knocked out of true. When my wife arrived, we went straight to the bike shop and dropped it off for repairs. I'm so frustrated that I don't even want to deal with it anymore. The shop guy suggested that when it's not so busy I have them make for me a 36-hole rim (my current rim as 16 holes) that would be really beefy and would stand up to my weight much easier. I have no idea how much that would cost, but it might be worth doing.

I also have no idea when they'll get the bike back to me. I told him to take his time, I almost don't care anymore.

My left calf is still giving me problems when I run. I don't know what to do, I'm going to ask my shoe guy if maybe a custom orthotic would help. But I won't be able to do that until later this week. So for the time being, I am unable to run or bike, and I'm a little frustrated about it. Perhaps I'll load the baby in the backpack and walk around Rockland Lake.

Read an interesting bit in Runner's World the other day. A question was asked, "Do fat people sweat more than skinny people?" The answer was fascinating - for the same net result, say, running 3 miles in 24 minutes, a fat person would put out considerably more effort to do so, hence more sweat. If the skinny person put out that same amount of effort, the skinny person who is athletically trained would actually sweat more because their bodies are more efficient heat regulators.

Jun 2, 2005

Only slightly more complicated than Minneapolis

Well, as I write this, my parents are somewhere over the North Atlantic on their way to Rome, Italy. As every second passes, my mother is farther and farther from U.S. soil as she's ever been. She's never been more than 10 miles outside the United States. My father, on the other hand has been all over the world, mostly when he was in the Air Force during the Vietnam conflict, but more recently he's had to go to Central Europe for work-related reasons. Neither of my parents have ever been to Italy.

I took a ride over to Brooklyn this morning so that I hang out with them for a few hours before dropping them off at the airport for a 5PM flight. It's a great feeling knowing that you're about to go on a vacation to a new and far-off place; I've done it twice and the anticipation prior to the trip is a really cool feeling. Well, even though I'm not going on this trip, I felt that same anticipation all morning just being with my parents. It was a bit of a letdown not to be able to get on that plane and join them, and I said as much during the car ride to the airport. My mother's response was interesting: "Anticipation is not what I'm thinking; I'm scared."

Now this was interesting to me. I know she's never been there and doesn't know what to expect when she gets there, but even during my first trip to Italy I was really excited, happy, and even nervous - but there was no fear. And I was roughing it: going with a vague itinerary, counting on trains and my legs as my only means of transportation when I got there. My parents are going on a guided tour where they get on a bus, travel to cities, see sights, and eat at restaurants mostly under the supervision of a tour director. Oh, and by the way, they're going with my Aunt and Uncle who've used this same tour company 15 times and have travelled to most of the companies in Europe with them. All of the guesswork is taken out of the situation.

I didn't use this line of reasoning - there was no time. We were already at the airport and we were pulling up to the curb. I simply said, "Hey it's not like you're going to the Middle East. Western Europe is pretty similar to us - it's easy. This is just going to be slightly more complicated than Minneapolis."

I loved that line. Especially since it's not true. The truth is that it's going to be much easier than Minneapolis - when she went to MN, she went by herself and met up with friends when she got there. She had to arrange her own transportation, her own hotels, her own everything - with this, she has to do nothing but tag along. It's actually going to be really easy. My prediction: when she gets back, she'll be wondering what was she afraid of?