February 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

I had a wonderful daydream moment today when I was walking to the career center in Princeton, singing Six-pack summer out loud as I walked past a sea of well dressed collegians. It was a flash of a moment, so quick that I barely noticed. A moment later I was sporting a cheek to cheek grin and sauntering to Johnny Cash’s “Big River,” wondering at tricks of the brain ….


It’s hot. A dry kind of hot that’s so hot that you can’t possibly be dry unless you’re dead. A summer in Central Valley California kind of hot. A hot that’s so hot that it’s not heavy anymore. More like the sun is pointing lasers at you from the sky. Maybe still heavy, but a sharp kind of heavy.

Point is, it’s hot.

The kind of hot that’s perfect for rolling down the windows in a beat up sedan and blasting Toby Keith down a backroad lined in strawberry fields. Hot air whipping past, doing nothing to help the heat, but everything to let you know that, yup, today surely you are alive. Today, that tiny visible and audio spectrum that humans can perceive is more than enough, ripping and roaring strait into your brain.

Today, the roads are endless, the sunset slow, and the moments are timeless.


Thanks for the pick-me-up brain, you’re the best.


Dammit winter

February 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

Ultimately, there were two things that brought me to New Jersey:

1) The annoying and, thusfar, unshakeable idea that I must do the most that I can possibly do to make the world a better place – so far that has meant working the hardest for the most strategic bang-for-the-buck group that maximizes my particular strengths as a human for institutional long-term government reform, and

2) the logically ridiculous, but still pervasive thought in the back of my head that I am invincible. Not actually invincible, like I could survive a T-rex attack or anything, but invincible in the I can do anything I want if I approach it in the right way, kind of way. Discomfort can be overcome, new friendships wrought, and any bar I want can be “my bar.”

Here’s one of my favorite diagrams:

learning zone

Ideally, you’re in the learning zone all the time – in order to grow as a human at the maximum level, you want to be challenged just enough where you can retain most of the new things you’re doing AND be able to overcome the fear/discomfort of the new things. If you’re in the pee your pants zone, your life is hard and you’re so out of your comfort zone that you’re not learning. If you’re in the easy zone, you’re bored. If you’re in the comfort zone, you’re not learning.

So alternately, by invincibility I mean that I’d like to think that I don’t have a pee-your-pants zone.

When I was walking down the street this afternoon with a gray sky hanging overhead and a 30 mph wind whipping past me, wishing I was wearing triple pants instead of double pants, I thought, “dammit winter, maybe you’re my pee your pants zone..”

And then, I though, “damn it, I haven’t peed all day!”

And we danced

February 23, 2013 § 2 Comments

Closed down The Globe last night and discovered that my ankle was definitely not ready for that much pronation. Back to little runs and icing ..

Other thoughts:

1. When you leave it all out on the dance floor, it’s like really fucking hardcore interval training.

2. Every single person I met was working in finance or banking. Womp. One of them asked me what I did and when I said that I do non-profit work, he said, “of course you do.” Another, when asked what he does, said “finance, I know, totally lame.” I don’t know what to make of this other than that it’s different than the seemingly endless number of people I’d meet in bars in Oakland who were artists inbetween jobs, freelance writers, and other things that didn’t seem to actually give them any money.

3. Artists and freelance writers are way better dancers than people who work in finance.

Smartwool Toesocks

February 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

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After almost losing my toes the last time I ran outside in my Vibrams, I decided to bike to Eastern Mountain Sports the morning after a snowstorm to buy performance toesocks.

Phew, file that one under sentences I never thought I’d think, much less type.

I bought a pair of these guys and tested ’em out for the first time this week and mostly think they’re awesome. I went out for a run in around 30 degree weather with a light drizzle and didn’t notice my toes at all! They feel a lot less weird than my memory of the rainbow toesocks that I had in middle school, kept my feet fairly dry and warm feeling despite many failed puddle jumps, and don’t smell half bad even though they got wet (and I haven’t washed my KSO’s in weeks, ew).

I think I’d have to get something thicker and warmer if the temperature drops below 25, but for now I’m hoping that all the mini-snowstorms stay in Massachusetts and I can keep gallivanting around outside in the middle of winter with zombie noises in my ear.

Accidental 5k

February 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

Question: What’s the best way to motivate me to run real fast for a long time?

Answer: Let loose a herd of zombies, cheetahs, axe murderers, or some other life threatening person/thing and have it/them chase the living daylights out of me.

Follow-up Question: What’s the 2nd best option given that cheetahs, zombies, and axe murderes are very difficult to wrangle into helping you with your running training program without actually killing you (or, you know .. being real in the case of zombies) ?

Final answer? Zombies Run!

I’d heard of this app last year, but didn’t want to spend four bucks on it. Sure, it seems fun, but I don’t need to be fake chased by zombies to win at running! Call it cockiness or renaissance humanism, I thought my brain would allow me to do anything hard I wanted. I worked up to two and a half miles last November and was back down to 1.5 when I put on my Vibrams again a few weeks ago.

Feel free to read all the reviews of the app – great voice acting, motivating story, etc. – they’re all good, but if they’re still not enough to motivate you to get the app, then I’ll leave you with this testament: last night, I ran 3.37 miles at 9:26/mile. The fastest and farthest I’ve run in the last year and maybe ever.

The original renaissance humanists would probably include iPhone Apps as fair game when working to maximize the limitless capacity of human development, right?

Single use society

February 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

I ran into this video on Facebook this weekend and it reminded me of just how mad plastic grocery bags make me. Three years ago, I started working on a statewide campaign to bag plastic bags in California – there were 12 municipalities with city or county bans. Since then, we lost two statewide bag ban votes, the chemical industry lobby almost successfully got language into high school textbooks saying that plastic bags were good for the environment, and we banned bags in 62 cities and counties in the state.  That’s 25% of the entire state of California, or 9.5 million people who will soon be living plastic bag free.

MIDWAY – Plastic Beach from Midway on Vimeo.

One of the strangest things about being a modern animal is the rise of our single-use society. A society where somehow, spending 1,100 to 2,000 times more in energy to bottle, label, and transport a plastic bottle of water compared to tap water1 can cost a consumer just one dollar. Where making and disposing of thousands of single use plastic spoons is more cost efficient for a business than washing metal ones. Where putting a Snickers bar in a single-use plastic bag for free is standard practice for a grocery store.

This failed economy where neither the producer or the consumer pays for the long-term impact of a product on society has resulted in everything from the Great Pacific Garbage patch, to the half a million tons of toxic ash that the little state of Connecticut generates every year through trash incineration2.

Obviously banning single use plastic bags isn’t enough. Even when I was working on this campaign, the scale of the impact of our single use society would often escape me. It wasn’t until I went to Kauai and found myself on an empty beach, beautiful other than that it was covered in plastic, that I internalized just how vast the problem we’d created was.

plastic beach kauai

Are those tiny granules sand or plastic?

plastic beach kauai 2

pack your trash kauai

Based on the painted on signs like the one above, or messages to “pack your trash” etched into logs on the beach all over the island, it was clear that the local impact of the North Pacific Gyre was being felt. Not surprisingly, every Hawaiian island has already banned single-use plastic grocery bags.

Scenes like that are especially hard to stomach now that I’m living in New Brunswick – my first impression of the city last April when I visited was “this is the dirtiest city that isn’t in the third world that I’ve ever seen.” Case in point, this is a photo I took walking to work this morning:

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The good, and maybe the annoying, news,is we have the solutions. New Brunswick’s problem is that the city is lazy – it doesn’t provide standard waste bins or regular enough recycling pick up. The simplicity of the solution is directly correlated with how frustrated I am that it’s not being applied. Aren’t the wind tunnels and dilapidated buildings enough? Do we have to add trash to the daily flaura and fauna?

From producer pays programs like the bottle bill to pay as you throw curbside trash pick-up and city wide compost programs, some cities have already achieved 80-90% waste diversion. San Francisco is at a 78% diversion rate. The problem of single-use society is not rocket science, it’s not even high school calculus, but if we want to continue to enjoy the great outdoors (as amateurs or otherwise), it’s a problem we need to tackle with simple and smart policy.

1. Energy Implications of Bottled Water, Gleik and Cooley.


Chains and Locks

February 18, 2013 § 3 Comments

Seen at train stations in New Brunswick, Trenton, and Camden today. Judging by this sample, I’d say padlocks are about 50% effective at keeping your things from being stolen and/or broken in to at train stations.

Probably best to not keep your things at train stations in New Jersey.

Lock at New Brunswick Train Station

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These two were locking a gate that you could walk around.

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Hanging padlock. Just in case you need something to hit zombies with.

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Many locks and no bikes in Trenton.

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Attached to a trash can.

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