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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Full Moon Hike & Navigation Training

    One of my friends is part of the volunteer Search and Rescue team in Marin that I had planned on joining this year.  Because of my upcoming move, that won't be possible, but I did get to take part in one of their training sessions last night.  Clara, Ted and I drove up near the west peak of Mt. Tamalpais, and then sat around freezing our respective asses off while waiting to get started.  Clara and I considered murdering Ted for his gloves and beanie.  We restrained the impulse, mostly because we were depending on him for teaching us how not to get lost in the mountains that night. 
    Once the whole team was gathered, we were split into groups of 6-8 and given a series of coordinates in the area.  From there, we needed to plot the points on a topographical map, plot a course that wouldn't take us over any steep drop-offs or ravines, and then get to each point using a GPS and/or compass. 
    Other than the fact that we got to learn some cool Rambo shit, it was a full moon, and it was a rare opportunity to be up in the Marin highlands at night.  When we weren't laughing about something immature, it was dead silent, and you could see for miles all around.  Some of the coordinates took us on some off-season "trails," although we intersected with the main road a few times.
    We managed to make it back to the command post without any injuries, casualties, or getting too far off course, and were greeted with hot chocolate and boxes of beef-flavored cup o' noodles.  It was a good night.  Got to do some night hiking, got to use my beloved head-lamp, got hot chocolate (!), and got to learn some new skills.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

An Update, It's Needed

It's been an eventful week or so, but I just haven't had the inspiration or inclination to write about any of it in detail.  I may need to up my coffee intake...

Here's a quick summary of what's going on in my world, and I'm sure I'll be writing longer posts on a few of these shortly.
  • I'm moving.  I'll be leaving San Francisco, my home for the last 2.5 years, and moving back down south.  The actual move will take place between April 1st to June 1st, depending on work stuff.  I'll be in the LA area, and some of the places I'm interested in are Long Beach, Hermosa Beach, Marina Del Rey, Miracle Mile, and Downtown LA.  If anyone has suggestions on those areas, they would be appreciated.
  • I got my eyes tasered.  On purpose.  Having dealt with contacts and glasses since the 5th grade, I finally had enough.  While I had been toying with the idea for years, the final decision came like a flash of lightning.  I scheduled the appointment to meet with the doctor and signed up for the first available opening.  Because I went with the PRK version of the test compared to LASIK, my recovery time is longer.  I am probably at about 20-40 vision right now, but with no pain or discomfort, and my eyes will slowly stabilize to 20-20 (or better).  The upside of the PRK is that my eyes will heal back just as strong as before the test, an important consideration if one engages in contact sports.  And speaking of contact sports...
  • I am scheduled to fight in San Francisco on February 26th.  At 155 pounds. Hunger, I will have it.  Don't know anything about my opponent yet, but will get to fight in my own city, which is always a plus.  Only point of concern is that the eye surgery leaves me with only 10-14 days of hard sparring beforehand.  It should be plenty so long as I get in boss shape in the meantime.  I plan on being intimately acquainted with the many hills that San Francisco offers.  Joy.
  • My good friend Susan thought my chili recipe sounded good, so I got an offer from her to cook it for her and her friends this coming Sunday.  I am proud of my culinary skills.  I hope they like fire.
  • Going to do a kickass night hike and navigation course up Mt. Tam tomorrow night with my friends Clara and Ted.  Night hikes give me an opportunity to use my head lamp, and therefore, they rock. 
I suppose that's it for the major news.  A few of those events deserve a more detailed look, but I just don't have it in me at the mo'.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Artist's Way Morning Pages

    One of my goal's this year was to take time to think my own thoughts.  This could come in the form of meditation, long solo hikes or stream of conscious writing.  Actually and preferably, it would take the form of all three. 
    Over the last three weeks, I have been consistent about writing in a stream of conscious style every morning.  You can read more about the whats and whys here, but the basics are as follows:
  • Write until you have completed 3 pages, long-hand.  Even if you just write "I don't know what to say" over and over again, get all 3 pages.
  • Write as soon as possible after waking.  For me, I hit the power button on the coffee maker and start writing immediately.  I want as little outside influence as possible.  Waiting for a few hours allows your brain to get bombarded by commercials, work stress, and whatever the hell else you got going in life.
  • Don't feel like the writing has to make sense, or follow any kind of formatting rules, or follow any kind of rules really.  Just write.
    While I usually mock such excercises as being a bit too "hippy-dippy," this has actually helped quite a bit just in the short time that I have been doing it.  Since it allows my mind to wander, I tend to circle back to the things in my life that actually matter and are important to me.  Problems in my life find natural solutions, and I come up with a lot of good ideas during these sessions.  In fact, I have taken to keep my dayplanner close at hand, because I almost always come up with 3-4 things that I want to make sure that I follow-up with.
    More than anything, this practice has given me the mindset that I am "starting the day off right," and everything else is better because of it. 

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Type of Chili that Will Kick Sand in your Face and Steal your Girlfriend

In the words of one of my favorite characters from one of my favorite books from one of my favorite authors, "a good bowl o' mountain red (chili) should just kick the dog piss outa ya and make your dick grow an inch."

Since I agree with the man on general principle, I make sure that my chili takes a bit of getting used to...especially if you are sensitive to spice.  Some people go for a bit of a bite in their chili...I'm going for tears and broken dreams. 

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Makes 4-6 Servings, Depending on Whether You Go for Volume or Sampling

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1.75 lbs Sirloin Steak - cut in strips
Salt
Pepper
4 medium garlic cloves - chop all to hell
1 medium red onion, diced
1 Jalepeno Chilo & 2 Habanero Peppers - sliced and diced
0.5 lb ground sirloin beef
6 TBL Hot Red Chili Powder
1.5 TBL Paprika
2 Tea cumin
2.25 cups canned beef broth
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 TBL Brown Sugar
1.75 TBL Worcestershire sauce
2 Tea dried oregano
2 tea dried basil
2 tea dired thyme
1 bay leaf

Methods & Madnesses

1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over high.  Sear the sirloin steak strips lightly after seasoning with some salt and pepper.  Set aside.

2. Reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic, onion, and peppers (jalapeno and habanero).  Saute for a minute or two.  Add the ground sirloin and seared steak.  Saute for another few minutes.

3. Add the shit-ton of chili powder, paprika, cumin and saute for another few minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.  When you get everything together, stir in the broth, tomatoes, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce, oregano, basil, thyme and a bay leaf.  Bring to a good and strong boil, and then reduce the heat until the concotion settles into a gentle simmer.  Cook for about an hour, when the steak slices are tender and the sauce is thick.

4. Taste the sauce and adjust with salt and pepper if needed. 

5. Pour yourself a decent bourbon or whiskey on ice, and settle in for battle.

Anthony Bourdain.  That's me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mission Statement

Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolution:

I will live a life of choice by pausing between stimulus and response to proactively choose a response that is deeply integrated with my recognized principles and values.  In every situation, I increase my ability to act with integrity as I pause to ask with intent, listen without excuse, and act with courage

I seize the day and refuse to waste a single moment that I could otherwise use to better myself or work towards my goals.

I treat people honestly and fairly in all encounters.

I ensure that there is no blunting of passions by excercising a firm, healthy disciple over desires.

I tactfully and respectfully stand up for my beliefs and values, for goodness must have some edge to it, or else it is none.

I will, above all, live with passion and a sense of urgency as I understand that this gift is not promised to be here tomorrow.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

A Collage of Everything Important

Don't look at me like that! 

It was raining, and I couldn't play outside...and I was bored.  And I was going through some old pictures and magazines, and got all creative-like.

The base is all topographical maps of Yosemite National Park and Kings Canyon.  I added some snipets of letters that my Dad gave me that struck a chord, quotes, a mission statement that I had written, old photos, and some pictures from Backpacking and Adventure magazines.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Book Review - "Shantaram," by Gregory David Roberts

    My taste in books is usually pretty different from what most people like.  I tend to enjoy the ridiculous, and the dark humor, and the simple.  But I also love the occasional epic adventure where the author actually has the skill to pull it off.  I have found this to be pretty rare.  Huge novels that span generations and continents are just massive in breadth, and I feel like that usually, even good authors get lost in their stories at times.  Two notable exceptions are "Pillars of the Earth," by Ken Follett, and "The Power of One," by Bryce Courtney, although Courtney seemed to lose his way in the sequels. 
    In any case, despite pressure to read "Shantaram" by a person who's taste in books I trust, I put it off for a long while.  I finally picked up the giant 900 page tome around New Years, and just finished it last night in a marathon session culminating in a 2am sprint. 
    It. Is. Amazing.  And it's based on the author's true story.  Gregory David Roberts was a convicted felon, who escaped from a maximum security prison and flew to the urban jungle of Bombay, India (now Mumbai).  With a little luck and a little faith, he finds himself a citizen of one of the huge Marathi slums of the city.  With his previous medical training, he is able to open up a free clinic for the poorest of the city's inhabitants.  He also becomes involved with the Bombay Mafia, and his adventures stretch from India to Pakistan to the battlefields of Afghanistan.  Despite his activities as a criminal, Roberts is a very real person that you can sympathize with, and even like.  This is one of the best stories that I have ever read about redemption, love, adventure, passion and forgiveness.  It's one of the best books that I have ever read, period.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Note on "Bucket Lists"

    Floreta recently posted what will be the beginning of her "bucket list."  She also talked a bit about how she wasn't sure why so many of these life lists focused on physical goals and adventures.  Looking back over my now-defunct 101 goals in 1001 days list, I am certainly guilty of that.  Most of the things that I wanted, and still want to do, all revolve around seeing, being and doing.  I want to climb mountains, run races, win fights, and travel to exotic locations.  The thing that is nagging at me a bit is that I am not really sure why I want these things.
    The easy answer is that I want these things because I enjoy them.  For hiking, backpacking, and climbing, I enjoy the challenge of it.  I enjoy getting away from the city and seeing naturally beautiful things.  For boxing, I enjoy the training even, and especially when it is at it's most grueling.  I enjoy competing...you know, so long as everything is going well.  Even if it doesnt, I always enjoy having competed.  For travel, I love seeing new places, exploring exotic locales, and checking out the ethnic women.  Plus, theres always the better than average chance of getting involved in some kind of adventure. 
    While I love all these different activities that will make up any life list that I ever take the time to make, a part of me loves them because I like the image of me that it creates.  I like being a traveler, outdoorsman, boxer.  And that seems a little shallow.  It should be enough that I do these things without the need to identify myself as such. 

Sunday, January 10, 2010

East Peak of Mt. Tam - No Cigar

Inspired by Lorien's New Year's Hike and Cigar festivities, I set out early (moderately) to hike the east peak of Mt. Tamapais.  I brought a dominican cigarillo and, lacking a normal lighter, a blue-flame torch.  With the lack of planning that is fairly typical of my life, I remembered to buy some water at the last stop before heading up to the national park.  I parked up by the ranger station and picked up the trail at the Pantoll trailhead. 
    Compared to some recent hikes and expeditions, the trail to the summit was very relaxed, sloping gently upwards, and allowing for some spectacular views of the Pacific Coast.  On clear days, you can see all the way to the Sierra Nevada mountains, but this was not a clear day.  It was still pretty though, and the cloud layer looked like the ocean, with taller hills breaking through the fog and resembling dark islands.
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    Like a jackass, I packed the lighter at the bottom of my day pack, allowing it's tip to get broken off by the water bottle.  So, no cigar at the top.  My flask, typically reserved for Irish Whiskey or Bourbon, was contaminated with vodka...a favor for a friend, don't ask.  
    I emerged from the trail to find that a road and parking lot was present from the other side, so there were actually quite a few people huddled around the scenic area a few hundred feet from the top.  Of this large group of people who had driven all the way there, few folks pushed up the last 0.2 miles to the actual peak.  It always surprises me how short a distance people venture away from the parking lots of beautiful places...it's almost like they want to say they have gone somewhere, without actually having the experience of doing it.  "Been there, done that, got a T-shirt" comes to mind.  It's even more disturbing in a section like Mt. Tam, which is a very mild uphill route.
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*steps off soapbox*

The view from the top was pretty sweet, and even on this cloudy day, the Pacific stretched far past the capability of my vision.  I tried to take a picture of myself with the view as a backdrop, but the short arms that hinder my boxing also makes these self-portraits difficult. 
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    There wasn't a whole lot of wildlife that I could see, probably because of all the people, but I did see a large hawk, quite a few squirrels, and I surprised a large bobcat on the way back.  Typically, they are very skittish and avoid people, and he was only the 2nd that I have ever seen outside of captivity.
    Overall, this was a nice hike that I would do again, and it was good to be able to find some degree of wilderness so close to the Bay Cities.
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East Peak Elevation: 2,572 feet
Out & Back Mileage: 7.96 miles

Friday, January 8, 2010

Orphanage in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

    Bryan, Brittney and I were pretty shell-shocked from visiting the S-21 prison the day before.  It's difficult to find a smile after bearing witness to something like that.  Brittney was interested in donating some supplies to a local orphanage, and we all agreed that it would be a good way to spend our last day in Cambodia.  Our whiskey-drinking, bear-slaying, Alaskan-Fishing compadre Travis joined us.  
     There are quite a few orphanages in the city, and they are almost always open to visits from foreigners.  We bring much-needed school supplies, food, toiletries, and impromptu English lessons.  Plus, the kids dig it.
    We arrived at a small center about 15 minutes outside of downtown.  The director had not arrived yet, and there was an awkward moment after we delivered the school supplies, while kids and white folk stared at each other.  David, a young and outgoing child saved the day.  He came around the side of the building, marched up to the group of us, stuck out his hand, and said "I'm David and I'm Five!"  He repeated this to each of us, shaking our hands with a big grin on his face.  Britney busted out the finger paint, and the kids went nuts.  After she painted the first girl's name on her arm, they clamored around her, crawling over her arms and legs like she was a piece of furniture.
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    Bryan got all creative-like, and drew an elephant on one kid's hand.  His friends went ape-shit for it, and Bryan was soon busy replicating his masterpiece on 12 sets of outstretched hands. 
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     I have zero artistic ability, so I drew purple stars with yellow filling.  I finished the first one and looked up at David's face with some apprehension.  What if he hated it?  What if I was the only crappy artist that had ever shown their face at the youth center?  David whooped and immediately rolled his sleeve up to show it off to his friends.  Regaining composure, he came back and demanded "Star, TWO!" and pointed to just below the first star.  This one was even better, and "Stars 3!" and "Stars 4!" were soon put into work.
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    At some point, the kids got hold of the finger paints, and the scene exploded into color.  I had two kids per limb drawing on me, and I was immediately tattooed with hearts, stars, an elephant (I think), and the kid's names. 
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    After everyone's bodies ran out of surface area, we headed off to play volleyball in the back of the building.  I gently served up a volley, only to have one of the older kids spike it back into my face.  He thought that was hilarious.  Travis joined our team and we rallied, setting location records of at least 3 or 4 volleys before screwing up. 
    Sweating like a hooker in church, I amused some of the kids by spinning a quarter and flicking it to keep it going.  They each took a turn, matching and then besting my quarter-spinning performance.
    When we left, all of the kids shouted "good-bye!" and waved at us.  David yelled out "See you tomorrow," which about broke our hearts.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dropping Weight, and Why it Sucks

Combat athletes worry about their weight more than obese junior high-school girls.  I started the year off at 165 pounds, and I need to cut down to 152 within the next 6-8 weeks.  I am hungry a lot, and you should keep your fingers and hands away from my mouth for safety.  Tasty little morsels that they are...

I find myself wishing pain and misery on whatever boxing council member decided that weight classes should be 13 pounds apart.  That's just stupid.

"I'll take a ribeye steak please, with potato salad and one of those IPA's you got on draft."  No, not really.  I was just dreaming...and wishing...and hoping.  And now I got that song stuck in my head.  I find myself wondering if cutting my hair with a #1 guard instead of a #2 guard would take off a pound.  I scratch the idea when the dumb realization comes to me that hair just doesn't weigh that much.  Damn It.  It's ok to say "damn," by the way, for those of you who happened to notice my "cut back on swearing" resolution.  Because its both warranted and justified here.
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Saturday, January 2, 2010

I am a Champion

Rise and shine, kiddos.



In case you want to memorize the words to serve as something of a mantra, here you go:

I will conquer what has never been conquered. Defeat will not be in my creed. I will believe where all those before me have doubted. I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor and respect of my team. I have trained my mind and now my body will follow!

WHO AM I? …. I AM A CHAMPION!!!

I will acknowledge the fact that I am an elite warrior who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by any means at my disposal. I accept the fact that my team expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than our opponents. Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be. One hundred percent and more

WHO AM I? …. I AM A CHAMPION!!!

Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well trained warrior. My heart and my soul will be the fuel to carry my body when my limbs are to weary. I will never falter, I will never lose focus as long as there is hope in my mind and my heart still beats. I will never give in to the evil that is weakness and I will fight that evil with my dying breath.

WHO AM I? …. I AM A CHAMPION!!!

Energetically will I meet my enemies, no one will challenge me, none will stop me from my goal. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Champion’s word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall at the hands of my enemy and under no circumstances will I ever surrender.

WHO AM I? …. I AM A CHAMPION!!!

Readily will I display the discipline and strength required to fight on to my objective and I will complete my mission. I will rise when I fallen. I will rip the heart from my enemy and leave it beating on the ground. My enemy need not fear me but he will respect me and if he does not. I will make him respect me with all that I have to give.

WHO AM I? …. I AM A CHAMPION!!!

History will remember my name and he will not have to be kind. For I will have denied his criticisms and put in my own praise, No one will define me, no one will tell me what I can achieve, none will say I have not given all I have to give and none will take my glory.

WHO AM I? …. I AM A CHAMPION!!!

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010: Goals & Resolutions

"You have a specific responsibility to existence, to God if you like, to taste, touch and smell what there is to experience. You have to do everything. If given an option between doing something and not doing it, you have to do it; because you've already done the "not do it" part.
- Sam Sheridan, "A Fighter's Heart"


Resolutions: More general in nature than goals, without necessarily having a number or defined "success point."

1. Curse Less: There are times when "fuck" is truly the only acceptable word for a given situation, and I have no problem with you (or I) using it in those situations.  I do think it should be slightly less common than the average pronoun though, so I want to work on reserving my cursing for those times that call for it.

2.  Think My Own Thoughts: I constantly have some form of external stimulus going on.  Whether its TV, the computer, my cell phone and text message friends, or just music, it is rare that I have the silence around me to just let my mind drift and think what it needs to think.  This is one reason that I like solo hiking.  After 20-30 minutes, your mind just seems to let go and drift in whatever direction it wants.  I want to make sure that I spend time each day either medititating, writing stream of conscious, hiking solo, or just giving myself some time to sit and think.

3.  Consistency in Training:  2009 was all over the place in terms of boxing training.  I would work hard and smart leading up to a fight or event, and then basically, not do shit in the 4-8 weeks following that.  Its ok to take a week or two off, but anymore than that is just being lazy. 

4.  Limit my use of Technology: Jokes on me, since I am writing this on a computer, but I definitely want to get away a bit from the idea of the online community, whether that is facebook, internet forums or what have you.  Some of that stuff is good, but not as much of it as I am doing. 

5.  Use Every Weekend Well: Too often I am content to just chill out in my neighborhood.  This year I want to make sure to get outside each weekend for hiking, camping, visiting friends, etc.

Goals:  Specific and with a set end-date for success or failure. 

Sports & Recreation:
  • Spar 600 rounds over the course of the year
  • Win 1 tournament
  • Turn Open-Class in Boxing
  • Break a 5 minute mile
  • Hike/Run 1000 miles over the course of the year
  • Deadlift 450 LBS
  • Perform 1-arm Pullup
Financial
  • Pay off the rest of my debt
  • Build 6 month Emergency Fund
  • 6% Pre-Tax Income to Roth
  • Invest in stock market
Reading & Writing
General Know-How & Survival
Travel & Adventure
  • Visit 2 new contries
  • Get at least 2 multi-day backpacking adventures in; 1 with Salman
  • Summit another mountain. With ice.
  • Get back to Joshua Tree
Neither Resolutions nor Goals, but would like to see happen in 2010
  • Find the right woman
  • Live closer to Parents
  • Get my eyes fixed
  • Have my brother live with me for a bit when he gets back from Kiwi-Land
  • Build up network of outdoorsy-types for kickass expedition-style travel.
In short, nothing less than utter domination can be accepted.  This time next year I will be more competent, accomplished, and possibly an even more pleasant person to be around.
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