Monday, May 24, 2010

Moose Drool & Ear-Fuckery

Wild-eyed and confused, we took in our surroundings.  We smelled like sweat, dirt and campfire, with maybe just an undertone of cheap whiskey at the bottom of the potpourri.  We had crossed over from alpine wilderness into the lower-elevation meadows early that morning after a breakfast of teriyaki beef jerky and a half-melted power bar.  We were now being greeted with the large crowds, screaming children, RV campsites and over-flowing ice chests that marked the return to civilization. 

Enjoying the first clearly-marked trail that we had seen in a while, we moved to the side to allow a family of four to pass through.  The Mother and Father carried enough gear to last them a month.  The kids brought up the rear with twin trails of snot dribbling from their noses and matching expressions of boredom, unhappiness, and a plain desire to be anywhere but where they were.

There was a redeeming factor to all of this, and it's name was BEER.  With parched throats but a get-up in our step, we made for the general store.  Steve and I waited while Will went inside to buy a 6-pack.  After days and nights of quiet solitude in the California high country, we could not have been more flustered if we had been deposited on the edge of the 405 freeway during rush hour.

Two kindred souls noticed us and made their way over.

"Weird, isn't it?" the girl said.

We noticed their dirty clothes, sun-burnt faces and bemused features, and we smiled back and nodded. 

Will returned with a sixer of Moose Drool Ale, so we said good-bye to our new friends and found a place to sit and drink.  The beer was ice-cold and delicious, and it soothed our aching muscles, torn blisters and noise-raped eardrums.  I settled my back against a smooth boulder, felt my bare toes on the grass, and took another sip.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Chamey Butter: A Bicycle Odyssey Part 3

This post is written by my brother, and is a hilarious story of his last-minute decision to ride his bike home from Santa Cruz to Orange County. Accompanied by his heterosexual life partner, the adventurers battle fatigue, hunger, the irritation that is inevitably caused by other bikers in spandex, and donuts. You can read part 1 and part 2.


Big Sur is synonymous with suffering.

Hills dominated a range of countless miles making our introduction in Monterrey look like a joke. Hills, we came to find, do not like you. They’re like bullies, constantly pushing and pressing and kicking. And once they’ve finally broken your spirit, they laugh and dunk your head in a bowl of piss. Then they ease up just enough to give you a false sense of security, just so that they can punish you all over again.

“Dan I’m gonna die here.” I meaked out, “I think my legs are falling off… can’t feel the left one.” We were seated on the side of the road trading guzzles of life liquid and cursing everything in sight. The trees, the deer carcass we’d passed earlier, the buzzards that had burst away on our arrival, the sticks, the rocks, and especially the hills. Everything was going to have its existence shattered, everything would die.

“No Bryan. Don’t listen to that. There’s a thousand muscled heroes inside each of our legs. And when we hop back on our trusty steeds they will go to work.” And we were off.

A bolt of lightning struck inside my right knee as I refused to quit cranking up that demon hill trying to conquer my spirit. I gritted my teeth and cursed its mother. I shifted my weight so that my left leg would take the brunt of the punishment. It did. The hill grew. I gave it the finger and pressed on. It grew still, until my left knee twinged like my right as if shrapnel was shredding at the tendons. I shifted my weight again. Dan’s face looked like a beet root cut in half, his eyes remaining focused on the white dividing line. And then he reminded us of the muscled heroes in our legs and the importance of determination and indifference to pain.

So we made up a song. Well, modified the lyrics to a James Brown song in order to fit our status, it went a little something like this:

I’m a pedaling man!
Dah dah dat, du dada da Dah!
I’m pedaling ma-an!
Beh-dunt, dun de dunt. HUH!

Got what I got! (Fill in horn section with full lungs)
The hard wayee
And I make it better
Each and every dayee!
I’m a pedalin ma-an!”
Beh-dunt dun de dunt. HUH!

And that really fueled our fire, boy! We flew up and over those hills with power, the kind of power that comes with rocket ship helmets and Cadilacsycles. But we didn’t have either of those. Just some hip thrust power gusto and the kind of broohaha fever like blasts from a sawed-off. Hell yes! And then we’d fly down ‘em, screaming and laughing and growing prematurely senile before hitting the flats.

The days went on; they became a sort of blur. At times we thought we were back in Big Sur, battling fictitious creatures and threatening lifeless objects. Our knees were close enough to being destroyed. We had to calm down, take more breaks: give in. We were weakening.

Then there were the likes of Dale Hicks and Ruth Woodrow, the blessed souls who picked us up after seeing us sobbing on the side of the highway, when we’d forfeited our honor and stuck out our thumbs to pass two climbs and give our battered knees a rest. Dale Hicks spoke the way you’d imagine a man named that would. “Name’s Dale Hicks,” he shot out his hand, “awful pleased to meet ya’.” He was the fifth driver in a series of massive white pick-up trucks.

“Dale Hicks, you are a king among men,” we replied with gratitude. And he was. He got us up and over a relatively small hill that our legs just couldn’t bear. He let us out for the descent.

And Ruth! Now she was a charm. An ancient, LSD-infested coke-head nearing her 150th Birthday, or so she looked, with all the dirt on the small town she drove us through. Her pickup whinnied spasms of convulsing chains and coughing lungs. She chain-smoked her way through tales of local corrupt judges, prison, dope, and the street kids she looked out for. In her beat-up early 90’s Dodge truck she towed our janky bicycles and our banged up knees past 13 miles of hills. Bless her. It was just enough of a rest that for the next two days we felt surprisingly good, our knees healed up enough to ignore the remaining twinges and catch up on the miles.

Sitting on that seat for so long carried with it other difficulties as well. It made certain things…well, difficult. I slumped into a chair after trying to use the bathroom, feeling dejected and depressed. “No luck,” I muttered.

My friend just sort of stared at me, for several moments without any expression, no pity, no feeling, nothing. Finally he spoke, “Well I’m going to go crap out my entire upper torso. I’ll be back after I’ve shattered some porcelain. Here,” he through a dollar on the table, “Drink another coffee.” And then he got up and left. We had been on the road for six days at this point, already two days late and getting close to finishing the whole thing. That morning we saddled our trusty steeds for the last time.

We pedaled our way through Malibu, its multi-million dollar homes and Cher’s Buddha statue overlooking the ocean. Through Venice, past rap artists, touting their discs alongside muscle men thrusting bench presses. We went through Long Beach with gangsters wielding pistols in their jackets and shattered bottles lashing at our tires. Finally we entered Seal Beach, and then Sunset Beach as it was marked by its giant wooden water tower. Our heads were down; we were sweating and panting when we finally reached the house. I slowed to a stop, struggled to raise my head, I couldn’t get my feet out of the pedal cages and fell onto the sidewalk. Dan still hadn’t looked up, his eyes were focused directly in front of his front wheel and continued on until I yelled at him to stop, that we’d made it. It was all over. We rode our bikes 420 miles with including backtracks and turn arounds, and it hadn’t killed us. We were Spartans of cycles, and we felt good. Dan hadn’t changed his shorts nor decided to wear underwear for an entire seven days. I could tell. We grabbed some beers and sat on a patio overlooking a canal and reflected on the journey, such a strange and beautiful thing it was.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chamey Butter: A Bicycle Odyssey Part 2

This post is written by my brother, and is a hilarious story of his last-minute decision to ride his bike home from Santa Cruz to Orange County.  Accompanied by his heterosexual life partner, the adventurers battle fatigue, hunger, the irritation that is inevitably caused by other bikers in spandex, and donuts. You can read part 1 HERE

The guidebook was buried deep inside the black satchel abyss of Dan’s disorderly panniers, probably next to the steamy sausage. And yes, we were lost again: Really lost. We’d passed our turn miles before and had to either retrace our pedals or hope for the best. I don’t even want to discuss the demon hell hill we faced. All full of jagged teeth and the type of steep that screams. Every time we thought we chopped off the beast’s head, it grew another, over and over until our pain and war fury were the only things that kept us from stopping. We finally learned to focus on that white-painted shoulder line instead of the winding distance, always up and above.

About halfway up some cyclists rode by. They had huge calves and slicked up cycles, those fancy helmets like rocket ships strapped to their heads and sugar fueled farts shoved up their asses which broke speed of sound barriers. One of ‘em was full of talk. Figures we were on a hill when they cruised by, getting us when we were down and out, covered in sweat, in the middle of battle.

“Hey guys! Where ya headed?” They approached with too many smiles and no hints of strain in their voice.

That’s what those Cadillac bikes will do for you.

“Sunset Beach, past L.A.” We said, between gasps of air and curses at their mothers, all full of pride.

“Oh wow! Where’d you start?” Who knows how that guy had so much chipper. I was sputtering and sucking air, my eyes wet with suffer, but finally I was able to meager it out, “Santa Cruz.”

“Cool! How long ya taking?” How many blasted questions was this guy going to ask? Couldn’t he see we were in the middle of tearing things apart, at war with the pavement? Made me want to jump off that bike and kick his neoprene shirt and padded shorts right off the highway and steal his rocket ship helmet. Those things are full of power. Maybe if I had a rocket ship on my noggin I’d have some power, and I could use some of that power to answer all of those questions and then kick some extra ass with his carbon fiber seat bolts and anodized spoke nipples.

Here’s some wisdom: Don’t pester a man at war.

My shoe was nearly out of its cage for a bike-by drop kick over the edge when Dan saved that man’s life. “About five days we think. Maybe six.”

“Oohhh…” he grinned with a sort of mocking chuckle, trading eyes with his buddy, “Really taking your time about things huh? Ha ha ha. Well, see ya later.” And they were gone. I counted the seconds to see how long it’d take them to get out of range of my grenade launcher and only got to three rocket ships. Ha Ha. Whatever. At least we still had our dark hearts and grit. After all, we were pedaling ourselves up those hills. Cadillac cycles are for the faint of heart. Single speed heaps of crap are for men.

A beautiful surprise came a few minutes after that talk. We’d been pushing our legs toward the pavement without ever touching it. Over and over again we shoved our feet toward the Earth and over and over again we were disappointed by how much distance we had gained. This was the process until finally Dan decided to ignore the horizon. He stared endlessly at the black because, boring as it may have been, it did not break his heart. Finally the crescendo of pain was reached. Dan's baritone voice echoed across the cliffs as he grunted and roared to push himself over the crest. That's when we would get a powerful case of the glories. Laid out before us, rather than the sight of sorrow, despair and endless incline, was a horizon, far reaching and exhilarating. We had conquered that candy ass hill. A couple of short, breathless laughs of triumph later we would be rolling over the edge and barreling down the backside, feasting on the fruits of our labor. As we hit speeds beyond measure (maybe 30mph) the wind would blast across us from Poseidon's lair and nearly knock us over. With cars zipping past us on our left and a ferocious sea on our right we ate up curves like they tasted good, leaning into it and hooting like a horny monkey with a mate nearby. Brakes are a joke and potholes add to the flavor, dangerous as they were, those steep declines kept us alive and moving. Man was never built to fly, but a tiny piece of steel between your legs and a couple of rusty wheels can make you feel like that's a lie.

For the hours of suffering to the top of that hill, we hit bottom within about three minutes and scooted into the white-sands town of Carmel. A big ole grocery store dominated our view, casting the next leg of our journey in the shadows as it spread itself abundantly in the distance; Big Sur.

“We oughta stock up here before we head into Big Sur don’t you think?” I suggested as we pulled into a strip mall chock full of grocery stores and restaurants.

“Let’s find a coffee shop,” said Dan. After restocking some supplies we cruised around until we found a fancy little café, with sparkling whites and too much make up. Musta’ been one of those wealthy towns. Disgustingly clean, waxed brows and face lifts, all frowning when we showed up with gladiator sweat and pride. Dan was wearing white too, but not their kind of white, his shorts were already brown from battle grime and soiled with sweat, he hated underpants and they could tell. The bottom of his shorts were soaked through and completely soiled from riding and sitting in the dirt.

“I’d like an Iced Mocha Frap please.”

There was my shirtless, long haired, loaded pants filth-friend ordering an Iced Mocha Frap, our presence offending the coffee patrons’ nostrils. He took a long drag of his armpit as sweat from his chest and back drizzled down to join the swamp in his pants. He exhaled contentedly, “Man, I don’t smell too bad!”  He hollered, reaching me out in the outdoor seating area. The frowns outside frowned harder, the edges of women’s lips spilled over their own chins in disgust.

“Maybe we should get something a little healthier Dan. Like water.” I called to him from the patio. “We’ve been sweating our asses off. Don’t you think?”

“Here’s the thing,” he began, dominating the world’s conversations, “what’s important is that we’re getting enough calories. And we’re using so much energy and all, you know? We can eat whatever. And I want an Iced Mocha, a Frap, God dammit.” Little gasps muffled silence through Gucci sunglasses. And well: tough titty, really. I gave in to his blasted reason and thought of my favorite snack.

“How about a donut?”

“Yeah!” He replied, “Hey, you want your Iced Soy Chai Latte too?”

“You bet, get me a large one.” Who needs water, anyways? Not us. After all, here we were, 60 miles down the line and kicking, about to catch some café and then continue on our man-journey. You think the Spartans ever drank water, or rather, hydrated? Doubtful. If the long road south was an army of a million foes, then Dan and I were Sparta’s 300, full of muscle, full of madness. We’d done our preparations.

Just south of Carmel there’s a nice introduction to the damnation that is Big Sur. Dan’s gears chomped and slipped and crashed with every push forward on his pedals, up a hill that eventually held our beds for the night. A slanted nest of green grass lined with a Poison Oak force field protected us for the night. Not that we needed it. Aqua violets shimmered far down, where our mountain met the ocean below our tufts of grass and dirt beds. As we shimmied into our sleep sacs the sun threw fireworks into the sky before slipping under the ocean’s swells. 


This trip, however incompetent our efforts may have been, was becoming beautiful. It was our freedom, we rode our bicycles where we liked, we slept where we wanted - for free - appreciating the midnight chills and the tiny fires bursting through the black night up above. The days slipped and fell into one another, each one consistent with galling challenges and every moment full of torment. One leg of the journey, however, was by far the toughest. 


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chamey Butter: A Bicycle Odyssey Part 1

This post is written by my brother, and is a hilarious story of his last-minute decision to ride his bike home from Santa Cruz to Orange County.  Accompanied by his heterosexual life partner, the adventurers battle fatigue, hunger, the irritation that is inevitably caused by other bikers in spandex, and donuts. 

A bicycle odyssey

By: Bryan Schatz

 I glanced back and there was my long haired friend Dan, just behind me, pedaling like a madman up yet another endless hill. His face was red with fury, sweat dripping onto the handle bars and his eyes fixated on the white painted shoulder line that separated us from the speeding maniacs that frequented this road: Pacific Coast Highway. The false summits had become the source of too much agony over the past few days and now he didn’t dare look more than five feet ahead of him. Our legs were constantly cramped, our bodies sun burnt and sore, and we’d forgotten to apply the Chamey Butter to our punished asses almost every morning.

Before this little bike expedition of ours, neither one of us had ever pedaled more than twenty miles in a single ride. After careful contemplation and diligent research, we figured that riding the 420 miles down the coast from Santa Cruz California, to the small surf town of Sunset Beach, would be a piece of cake.

Our preparation was arduous and extensive. Dan bought a $10 bike and put some Tri-Flow on the rusting chain. I got a tune up on my single speed heap and we rode an entire three times the week before we left. The last couple of evenings before setting off we trained the hardest, drinking several beers and a touch of whiskey to harden our hearts and toughen up our grit. We feasted on what all athletes know as the ultra-performance-enhancing health-food: pizza and donuts. If nothing else, these preparations would help turn us into real adventurers, and of course, real adventurers can easily ride a couple of bikes on a nice jaunt down the coast.

Our plan: Wake up with the sun, eat when hungry, drink when thirsty, sleep where we fall, ride all day, repeat. We figured we could get there within four or five days. It would be easy. And that’s exactly what our bike riding friends all said too, assuring us that four or five days would be plenty of time. They all forgot, however, that they were avid cyclists, with bikes that ran smooth and had gears that worked. They had clipless pedals and aerodynamic helmets, huge calves and thighs, they had tights and padded shorts. They actually applied their Chamey Butter.

We, on the other hand, were not avid cyclists. I had but one gear. Dan technically had more, but that would be ignoring the fact that they never worked, and the poor bastard was riding in Chacos sandals on plastic pedals. I at least had cages on my pedals, but not a whole lot more. We did have something else however, something far more important than the luxuries of Cadillac-type bicycles; we had our black hearts and our grit, our mental soundtrack of AC/DC and Led Zep, which of course would be shrieked and screamed and never calmly hummed. We were going to ride our bikes 420 miles even if it killed us.

On the first day we awoke to an early morning sun rise, a kick in our giddy up, a smile on our faces, and about as much experience as a toddler has defecating into a toilet bowl not inside its own pants. We were on our way, the open road beckoning us to carry on with our adventuring aspirations and to let the miles fly by.

Within about 40 minutes on the first day we were winded, sitting at the counter of a donut shop mawing down a dozen donut holes and a cheap cup of coffee. 

“I’d say we’re doing pretty well so far, wouldn’t you?” Dan commented in between bites of his chocolate old-fashioned and sips of the Italian dark roast.

“Yeah,” I agreed, “we’re already in Aptos… Or at least really close.” Aptos was the very next town south, but it seemed like a great distance when considering how long it always took to get there on my morning commute to work. “If we keep up like this we’ll get there in no time.”

“We might not even need the full five days,” Dan said.

“Maybe not.” We were impressed, feeling good, ready to go to war with the pavement. Our bicycles: the charging horses. Ourselves: the screaming soldiers, war paint and all, fists pumping, everything else terrified and running. We would show no mercy; our finely honed skills wouldn’t allow for it, our dominance of life couldn’t even imagine it. We scarfed the last bites of our Champion Breakfast, hopped on our bikes and got back on the road. We were lost before we even got out of Aptos.

Dan tossed a frown in my direction, “You sure this is where we’re supposed to go Bryan?” He was looking up the road a ways, where it jutted up with a fierce hill, an iron gate near the top blocking the way while the road itself turned into dirt and then bushes and trees just a little further on.

“No.” I shook my head. “I wouldn’t think we’d have to hop a fence for this thing. Of course,” I mused, “…could be wrong.”

“What does the book say?”

“I thought it said to stay on this road until it goes back over the highway.” My eyes looked over an invisible bridge.

“Well it doesn’t go back over the highway.”

“Yes. I can see that. Thanks.” So we took out this handy dandy guidebook of ours, full of detailed maps and explanations of the route we were to take. Apparently you’re supposed to read those things. With a bit of backtracking and a few more clarifying reads we were back on our journey. We reminded each other that it would do us good to keep that book close at hand and to look at it frequently. Lesson learned.

Well, lesson not learned. We were lost again in Watsonville and again between Watsonville and the next town south. Such stupid mistakes added several extra miles to our trip. It didn’t really matter. We were too hopped up on caffeine and the thrust gusto that expeditions invoke to care too much. The scenery speckled reds with berries and fields of green, the deep blue ocean the backdrop, full with the feeding frenzies of great beasts and war games that we couldn’t see, but appreciated nonetheless.

We started checking our mileage once we sailed out of Watsonville, thrilled with our victory. We’d already pedaled more miles than either of us ever had before. Our legs, despite their appearance, felt strong, and the further we went the more cocky we got. We stopped looking at our guidebook, thinking we could memorize the stretches ahead of us. We rocked out to “Hell’s Bells” and “Immigrant Song.” All full of amateur arrogance, air punches and idiocy. We were kicking the hell out of everything.

Until we got to Monterrey. 

Part 2 coming soon

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Affirmations & Morning Pages

I have written about the Morning Pages and their importance to me when starting my day several times.  In short, these are 3 hand-written pages of stream of conscious thoughts, ideally written as soon as possible after waking.  There are days where the words won't come.  On days like that, I borrow an idea from my Mom, and write mental affirmations in the space remaining.

Positive affirmations are one of those hippy, feel-good ideas that came about with the onslaught of the self-help and positive thinking industries.  Despite that, I find them incredibly useful in reaffirming to myself what I am, who I want to be, and how I will get there.

Most of my affirmations are based on discipline, self-control and mental toughness.  The focus is here because I believe that if I am willing to do what is hard to do, go without, and sacrifice for the greater good, then any (most) individual situations will work themselves out.  The below are examples of what I repeat to myself mentally or on paper:
  • "No matter how bad things go, my mind will carry my body when my limbs are too weak."
  • "I do the thing that is hard to do, and the power will come."
  • "I have trained my mind, and my body will follow."
  • "Need nothing, enjoy everything."
  • "Embrace the suck," borrowed from Gaijinass.
  • "I will believe when others have doubted."
  • "Weakness will not be in my heart."
Several of the above were borrowed from from this speech.

Again, most of these are general, and I feel like they fit like an umbrella over most situations that will come up.  Some cases that I want to focus on will merit their own statements.

For example, in my work, it is easy to receive a request from a customer that is ridiculous.  It may be very difficult to achieve, cause more problems than it will solve, and make my life (and theirs) harder.  The temptation to shoot off a hasty and dismissive response is a strong one.  Instead, I remind myself that maintaining the relationship is more important than the satisfaction that I would get from that type of response.  I do that with the following:
  • "I pause between stimulus and reaction to proactively choose a response that is deeply integrated with my recognized principles and values."
Another example would be for boxing.  If I have a fight that I am preparing for, a favorite affirmation would be:
  • "I work harder, train longer, and fight smarter than my opponent."
 In any case, I feel that this practice helps me become the type of person that I want to be.  It is far from infallible, otherwise "I [would] have done the thing that is hard to do," and went and talked to that girl at the coffee shop, but steadily, slowly, it molds me into a better, stronger version of me.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Shop Class

I visited my parents this last weekend for Mother's Day, to pick up my new car, and to learn how to change out a differential on a 1990 525I BMW.  My Dad loves to buy old BMWs, fix them up, and sell them. 

I managed to screw things up a bit, but the differential DID get replaced, so...success.
I learned some things and got to spend time with the Poppa.

You know you're the alpha male when you're the one holding the flashlight...


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

35. Go to the Living Desert in Palm Springs to see a mountain lion

Finished the first of my 50 goals in 500 days, albeit with one major change.  The Living Desert is kind of a zoo down by my parent's house in Palm Springs.  They have all sorts of kickass animals, including giraffes, badgers, bobcats, cheetahs...but no mountain lions.  They used to have one, but it died, rendering the completion of this goal in it's purest form, all but impossible.  I'm counting it anyway.
In addition to all the caged monsters, we found a pretty large snake cruising around unsupervised.  My Dad poked at it a little bit, which led to a few other folks to look at him like he's crazy.  I don't think he can help it though.  One time when we were at a pond in New York, he saw a turtle floating around in the middle of it.  My Dad slipped into the water, paddled slowly up to it, and caught it from behind.  It was pretty awesome.  In this particular snake adventure, he did not get bit.
Most of the animals were just chilling out because of how hot it was, but we hung out with a badger for 15-20 minutes.  He would dig like crazy, and then fill in the hole...and then dig again, rinse and repeat.  I have a feeling he wasn't very smart.  Every now and again he would look up at us, show his teeth, and do some little wiggle that I expect was his version of the Haka.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

He who hesitates is lost

I am working from home for the first time in my professional career.  I love the freedom, but it does get lonely at times.  Just to get out of the house a bit, I have started working a few days of the week at this little cafe close by.  Even if I didn't meet anyone, I would still be around people, and that's important.  I have a tendency to get hermetic at times, so I force myself to get out there, whether I want to or not.  Also, you never know who you might have the opportunity to meet once you become a local at a gathering place, whether its  a bar, coffee house, or anything else.

Last week, I watched a girl walk in and take a seat across the room from me.  We made eye contact and smiled at each other.  Beautiful skin, beautiful eyes, and with long, black hair.  She was joined by a friend of hers within a few minutes, but throughout their conversation, our eyes kept finding each other.  She laughed a lot, and she had a great, honest laugh.  Eventually, she left.  I thought about her over the next few days.  I liked that she wore a hat.  I think women can look really good in hats.

Yesterday, I saw her at the grocery store.  We walked by each other, and I smiled, and she smiled back.  We went our separate ways.  I told myself that if I saw her again in the store I would introduce myself and tell her that I had seen her at the cafe.  I turned down an aisle just in time to see her leaving the store.  I could have ran after her, but I didn't.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

12 Perfect Things

1. Curtis Mayfield's song, "Moving on Up"
2. Reading in bed
3. Hot outdoor jacuzzi's when it's cold out
4. Lying on the hot sand in the summer
5. English Bulldogs
6. Inside jokes
7. Running during a light rain
8. Starting the day by jumping in the ocean
9. Long bike rides without a destination
10. A cold beer after hot work in the sun
11. "The Last Samurai"
12. Seeing your hard work and persistence actually pay off