Thursday, May 28, 2009

Neutral Sodium Diet

I decided that beginning May 1, I was done with fast food. At least for a while. That lasted only a few hours.

On May 2, I again decided that I was done with fast food and have surprisingly been successful so far.

There were a few reasons why I wanted to change the diet. Most of them are the standard: save some money, eat better/real food, etc. I also finished reading "The Omnivores Dilemma" -- you try reading that and see if you want to eat any mass-produced beef. Or mass-produced anything.

All those reasons are well and good, but the tipping point came when I pulled up to Wendy's one evening, and the woman at the drive-thru recognized who I was by my order (and my voice) and asked how my day was going. While I have nothing against friendly fast food servers, I realized I was eating too many of my meals out of a bag.

An interesting side-effect is that for the last 10 days or so, I've been really dehydrated. I couldn't figure out what it was at first, but then I thought of all the sodium I dropped from my diet cold turkey. I've just started to get back to balance and no longer feel like I need to drink tons of water in a day.

Is this interesting? I'm not sure. But I'm curious how long I can keep it up. Ideally at least through the ironman. Then we'll see what junk my subconscious wants to use to refill the fat stores.

Friday, May 22, 2009


As I'm sure you've heard, spring is a time of change. I expect I'll have some news to share in a few days, but in the meantime, here are some of the changes happening in our backyard. What once was a barren expanse of dying or dead grass is now a veritable forest. Or, rather, an unveritable forest.

Okay, we have three new trees. But that's three more than before. And with great trees comes great responsibility. Like watering and stuff. And doing something with the rest of the yard so that they're not lonely.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Belated Grand Canyon post

I realize I'm a little behind in getting my recap posted from my family's Grand Canyon trip, but hopefully the sheer volume of pictures below will make up for it.

We had a good walk from the rim, down to the river, and back up. We left just before sunrise, but 20 minutes in it already started to warm up. In hindsight, I could have gotten by with a lot fewer clothes -- probably just a t-shirt and pullover or windbreaker. It would have been a little chilly in the beginning, but, since I spend the entire trip from the river back to the rim in shorts and a t-shirt, the extra three layers were unnecessary.

Some of these photos are from the day after the hike when I got up early and walked to the rim to see the sunrise, so this isn't exactly a chronological photo tour.

RDM on the way down.

My dad and JNM on the way down.

The very bold squirrel that was trying to get in our packs at the river. I didn't zoom in for this photo, I just leaned in close. He was very bold.

Seemingly, I was the only one to bother taking photos on the way up.

It's a good place.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Save your money

"The value in money lies in its capacity to support personal freedom -- possessions, by their nature, restrict freedom and promote attachment." - G. Byrn

The last time I went out with RDM a few weekends back, I went on a rant about saving money. It's one of my frequent/favorite topics of discussion with him and I know he's probably sick of it... so I'll broaden my audience and sicken all of you.

Like many companies in my industry, my employer recently went through a mass culling. Now, a lot of my work friends no longer have the "work" identifier. What's freaky is the number the people I've spoken with who are terrified of losing their homes because they won't be able to cover their mortgages, even with a decent severance package.

I was lucky in that in my first job out of school, my company went through a bad patch and cut salaries to 70%. I was living close to hand-to-mouth at the time (or so I thought) and as a result, couldn't afford my rent. Fortunately, I was able to move back in with my folks for a few months until I found a few roommates to share an apartment. That was the last time I ever wanted to be in a position of having no emergency savings. It takes a while for anemic bank accounts to grow, but it's possible for everyone to get there. You just might have to cut out some of the unnecessary things (TV, bar nights, restaurants).

My luck was that I learned that lesson at a fairly young age, at a time when I had no significant responsibilities (it's debatable if I even have any now...). I can't imagine being in my 40s with two kids and a mortgage to handle and not having learned the lesson already.

I place a tremendous value on money. But, the value is security, not its ability to be exchanged for stuff. I'm far from financially independent, but I'm not as worried as a lot of other people.

I don't have much attachment to the stuff that I own, with the exception of a few gifts and photos. Yes, I like gear (shoes? bags? bikes?), but I'm also okay with losing almost all of it. Everything is replaceable if I need it, and if I don't need it (shoes? bags? bikes?), then I'm not bothered about replacing it if something happens.

If I had a kid, the one lesson I know I'd teach him or her (probably right around the same time as toilet-training): "Save at least 10% of everything you earn. If at the end you have some left, you can always give it away when you die. And get a college rowing shell named after you. Because nothing says, 'he saved his money' more than a bunch of preppy kids rowing a piece of carbon fiber with your name on it."

I might omit all but the first sentence. I'm still perfecting the speech. I've tested it on the cat, but he doesn't follow my advice, which is why he has no savings and is a complete freeloader.