Archive for the ‘Health/ Wellness’ Category

Pre race pump up.

Jo jo

This past fall, I worked for the title sponsor (Grand Dynamics International) of the Ultimate Towner obstacle course race to build and run two of their races on the East Coast. One in Lake Placid up in the Adirondack Mountains, and one in Syracuse, New York. This was a blast.  Basically the race is 4 miles over varying terrain with 25 obstacles (mud pits, walls, more walls, tires, sand bag carries, balance beams, etc) that add up to one challenging course. There are two heats: a fast class (where you are timed and must complete every obstacle) and a fun class (which is as the name implies, for fun.)

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The main thing that distinguishes the Ultimate Towner from say, Tough Mudder, or Warrior Dash, is that they hold the races primarily in small towns, focus on overcoming obstacles through teamwork and passion, get the community involved, and a part of the profits go to a local charity. It is a super fun and inspirational event. Tim Walther (pictured in white, above), president of Grand Dynamics, starts off the race with a large group pump up/ dance/ aerobic work out craziness and it goes on from there. The race is open to all ages, and I think we had a two year old on the course at Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid.

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So yeah. Lot’s of fun. Great people. Hard race. What more do you want. Oh yeah, also, cheaper than the other races too. So register for one near you. Or travel to it. The one in Jackson, WY is awesome. Be sure to check out the links up top for more info on races near you. Here’s some more pics from the New York races:

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Tuffy Slacklining at Whiteface Mt.

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The Over Under Through walls, in the beautiful Adirondacks

 

Teton traverse wall

Teton traverse wall

 

At mile 3, that's a tough climb!

At mile 3, that’s a tough climb!

The "Love Life" wall

The “Love Life” wall

 

Overcome your Obstacles

Overcome your Obstacles

 

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Potato sack race obstacle

Racers get a fun spray down from a young spectator!

Racers get a fun spray down from a young spectator!

Nathan Roarke was born yesterday, coming in at 9 lbs. 6.8 oz. and 22 in. long. My wife is a champion at natural childbirth! No drugs or anything. The labor went well, but it’s not called labor for nothin’.  It was work. But after 10 minutes and 4 pushes, he was out. ( I hear second children are faster that way.)Still, the entire labor was long and we were both up for more than 24 hours. Exhausted doesn’t begin to explain it. But we are very happy and thankful that both mother and baby are healthy and safe.

So you want to be snobby about something but aren’t sure how? I’ll tell you in these three easy steps.

1. Pick something to either swear off altogether, or get way into. This should be something the majority of the world doesn’t really spend too much time thinking about. For example: coffee, shaving, or shopping at Walmart.

2. Cultivate your knowledge and taste for what you choose. Ex. Know that the best coffee is made from Arabica beans and that cheap coffee is made with Robusta beans that have twice as much caffeine but are known for their poor taste, compared with Arabica beans. Or that shaving with a DE razor gives a much smoother and more comfortable shave that any of the modern five-bladed monstrosities.

3. Proclaim your opinions to others when they use the inferior product or activity. “Oh no thanks, I only drink locally roasted Arabica coffee.”  or ” I just can’t support a corporation that victimizes its employees and negatively affects the US trade imbalance so much.”

That’s it! Now you can be a snob too! The best part is, you can be snobby about almost anything. Yogurt, pens, books, farmer’s markets, diapers, sushi, mutual funds,  shampoo, etc…

This is my log book for every kayaking trip I’ve ever been on. I typed it up to have a digital copy. I hope that some fellow kayakers might find it useful as I do include river levels, descriptions of rapids, etc. However, this is my personal log, so if it seems like I’m a little self-absorbed with entries like: “I surfed Awesome today!” it’s because at the time, I was only writing it for myself. So, anyway, enjoy. And I hope someone else might use this to find as much fun on the rivers as I have. Just a note, most of these rivers are in Upstate NY. The Salmon river features prominently since it’s only 45 minutes away from Syracuse. cfs = cubic feet per second.

Dan’s Kayaking Log:

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I first got the itch when I went whitewater rafting on the Lehigh in ’99. I was like, “This is fun, but look how much more fun they’re having.” meaning my guides in the safety kayaks. (more…)

Climate change. Does it exist? Yes. Can we do something about it? Maybe. What the world needs now (besides love, as they say) is concerted action. We need to educate people on the true consequences of their actions, and what they can do to reduce their impact on the planet. For a few things you can do individually, check these out:

1) Live close to work & play. I know that for many people, they are settled in to where they are living. But the average American only lives in a house for seven years. So you still may be able to do this at some point in the future. Look at where you live now, and how far you commute. Can you live closer to where you work? Can you get a new job closer to where you live? When my wife and I were buying our first home, we took this into consideration. We decreased her commute time from 30 minutes to 20 minutes, and I was close enough to ride my bike to work most days.

2) Ride a bike. If you are physically able to ride a bike to do short errands, do it. Many car trips in the U.S. are for distance of less than a mile. Have to run down to the drugstore for something small? Take a bike. This alone will reduce your carbon footprint a great deal. Plus it may be quicker. What? you ask incredulously. Yes. My commute was 12 minutes by car and 7 minutes by bike…because of all the traffic. I can always go to the front of the line at a ed light, and speed by cars that are bumper to bumper.

3) Get an energy audit for your home. Many companies that deal in windows, insulation, or heating will offer these for free. A technician will come in and go around your house check for leaks. Not leaks from water in pipes, places where heat is leaking out. They seal off your front door with a big plastic gasket with a fan inside. This creates negative pressure in the house, so any place where heat would have been going out is now coming in. They use a thermal IMG_0251imaging camera to spot areas of cold. (white is hot, black is cold. You can see in the picture that the bottom panel of our back door is very cold, and cold air is seeping in underneath the door.) It was very cool to follow him around and see cold seeping in through the baseboards and around the door to the attic. Then I knew exactly where to seal with caulk or expanding foam. We also got our furnace replaced with a 95% efficient model and insulated all the exterior walls with blown-in cellulose insulation. This cut our utility bills in half! I wrote in more detail about that here.

There are so many other things you can do, so I will say that the biggest one is:

4) Read. Educate yourself on how you can live a better life for yourself, and the environment. You’re doing it right now! There are tons of simple things you can do. There are also things that many people believe will affect the climate a great deal, but actually don’t.

I focused on only one small part of the climate change issue, but there are myriad facets to this. I expect to read posts from other people doing Blog Action Day today about how coastal regions may be affected, our food supply, desertification, water shortages, international policy changes, new advancements in science, and much more. So just try and do your part, and we can make some change for the good of us all.

For more info, go here:

http://www.blogactionday.org/

298x232-dna_genetic_test-298x232_dna_genetic_testA new company, Pathway Genomics, is offering affordable genetic testing for only $250. Some competitors charge $400 or more, up to $1,000. All you do is spit in a test tube, and drop it in an envelope in the mail. You recieve a report detailing what major diseases you could be at risk for, which medications might affect you more, and even your genetic history as far back as 150,000 years. I’m only slightly sceptical about that last one. My grandmother traced our ancestry back to England in the 1500’s with paper research, but it would be cool to see if I was in fact, part aboriginal, or asian. If you go back that far though, how could you not be?

Of course some people might be scared by this new accessibility to people’s genes. I mean, look at the company’s name. Pathway Genomics? How about, secret government black project to make genetically superior super-soldiers with a well placed, genetically tailored trigger in the public water supply. I’m not paranoid, just a sci-fi author. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens.

You can read the Yahoo article by Glenn Chapman here.

healthcareI know that there are downsides to socialized medicine, (and please feel free to tell me what they are) but I want to write about the upsides, and maybe the sidesides.

From my uninsured, and non-expert opinion, I think that the U.S. having Universal Health Care is a good idea. The main reason is that we have 50,000,000 people who are uninsured right now. We live in the richest nation in the world, and yet 16% of our population can’t get the help they need when it comes to health problems. The United States pays the most for health care, more than any other country, yet on almost any scale you choose to measure, we rank last. Out of Australia, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the USA, we rank last on quality care, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives.

I started getting interested in this subject when I got Michael Moore’s “Sicko” out from the library. Now I know what you’re thinking.

“That is a load of democratic socialist propaganda!”

Maybe. So I also watched this Frontline report that also tackles the issue of Universal Health Care with a more dispassionate, intelligent approach. T.R.Reid (Washington Post reporter) goes around to the second and third wealthiest nations, among others, and investigates their health care systems. He evaluates each system on how much it costs to the public, the effects on the insurance and drug companies, the level of care, and most telling of all, how many people in that country go bankrupt every year from medical bills. ( None, as opposed to 700,000 in the U.S.) He tries to take the best of each program and apply it to the U.S. One of the interesting points was that not all countries have total government owned hospitals. Japan and Germany have privately owned doctors offices, hospitals, and insurance companies. Hmm, maybe we can do this in America after all.

When most people hear “Universal Health Care,” they automatically think, “Total Government Control! Big Brother! Waiting months to see a doctor!” The reality is much less alarming. In fact, we already have government run health care in America. Just look at the care we provide our Veterans. Putting the scandal a few years ago aside, the network of VA hospitals offers some of the best care in the country. Don’t believe me? read this excerpt about the VA.

The Annals of Internal Medicine in 2004, published a a study that compared Veteran’s health facilities with commercial managed care systems in their treatment of diabetes patients. In seven out of seven measures of quality, the VA provided better care. A RAND Corporation study published in the same journal concluded that VA outperforms all other sectors of American health care in 294 measures of quality.

One of the big complaints that people have with government run health care, is that people have to wait a long time to be helped. Really? Cause when I took my Mom to the Emergency Room at a local hospital in NY with a severe cut to her forearm at 10:00 p.m., we had to wait until 3:30 a.m. for her to be taken care of. And it was not a bustling downtown ER with gunshot victims. I find it hard to imagine that we would have to wait more than five hours to be seen somewhere in Europe.

From what I’ve read, seen, heard from friends, and (gasp) in fact experienced myself, medical care overseas is prompt, professional, and cheap. When I traveled to Ireland, I got in infection (sparing details) that made my ears feel like I was fifty feet underwater. We went to a small clinic in a seaside village where I was seen immediately. I was a foreigner, and yet they saw me right away, proscribed medicine, and only charged me seven pounds ($15). If the situation were reversed, I’m sure that the sick Irishman would have to pay at least $150 for the appointment, that is, if they agreed to treat him in the first place without the consent of an American insurance company.

I’m going to post this now, but will be adding to this article as I learn more.

Pure03Resveratrol3DI want to explore the different methods available for life extension technology. Now, this post could be a pages-long research paper, or I could do what most bloggers do and make up half-remembered facts from Wikipedia. I will strive to strike a balance between these two extremes and present information in short but accurate form. (more…)

That is the question.

I have been straightedge for 13 years. That is: No drugs, alcohol, or promiscuous sex. But now I am questioning my beliefs. Did I even have any?

I am Christian and so you may think, “Oh, well you don’t drink because of your religious beliefs, like many other christians I know.” But I would say no. Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine, so he obviously supports drinking alcohol. Now, don’t misunderstand me, the bible says not to over-indulge, but it also doesn’t say no wine at all.

I was also heavily involved with the Hardcore Music scene of the late 90’s in Syracuse which was predominantly straightedge and vegan. I subscribed to those values easily and have since seen many of my friends “lose their edge” and drink. I was never vegan though, I just love meat too much. Mmmm steak.

So why now? I was having dinner with my wife and she wanted some wine that my godmother had given us as a housewarming gift. She seemed to enjoy it and asked if I wanted any. I (of course) said no, but I thought it was odd of her to ask. She’s known me for years, and that is one fact about me that has not changed. I just don’t drink alcohol. We even have a funny story from when we were in Germany. We were visiting some of Opa’s friends and they asked if I would like some wine. I said, “Nien danke, Ich bin anti-alcohol.” They just couldn’t comprehend that someone wouldn’t drink since that is a big part of the culture over there. So the wife said, “OK, I’ll just pour a little bit then.” It’s like that scene in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” with that aunt who is astounded that the guy doesn’t eat meat. “OK, I make lamb instead!” But it got me to thinking, why not. I’m grown up. I’m not going to get plastered. Hmmmm.

So why do I not drink? Back in high school, I chose not to, to avoid binge drinking at parties and the casual sex that could result from said drinking. The Hardcore scene supported my choice and provided a strong sense of unity and belonging. “We are strong because we choose not to pollute our bodies and minds.” But part of me wonders that the real reason I don’t is that I have a semi-addictive personality and I’m scared I might turn out to be an alcoholic. Are you surprised? Have you seen me in one of my phases? Like the straight razors, or pirates, or martial arts, or…

I also think that, Well, I’ve been drug free all these years, it would be a shame to throw that away. Plus alcohol is just another thing for me to spend money on when we go out. Water is always cheaper than beer. (from the sips I had when I was 14, I remember not liking beer, or scotch, which is blasphemy from someone who identifies himself as Scottish)

Why do I WANT to drink? I suppose that I associate it with being grown up, having a glass of wine with supper. My cousin also brews his own beer and I always feel like I’m insulting him by not trying his creations, even though he knows that I don’t drink. There is also a huge amount of medical evidence that red wine is good for you, but on the other hand, I could just take Resveratrol supplements and get the same benifits. I also feel that I am somehow missing out on the pleasure of well made drinks. I certainly enjoy drinking a great many things. Coffee, tea, juice, fruit smoothies, etc. Conversly, there are so many styles of coffee and tea that I could be happy for years drinking the different varieties that just those two beverages have to offer.

So what should I do? I guess for now, I will continue in my sobriety until something changes. I don’t have a strong urge to drink and now that I started taking resveratrol, I don’t have anything to gain from the benefits of wine. One pill equals the amount of reveratrol in 200 glasses of wine, without the damage to your liver.

What do you think?

So here’s a quick update:

I had my first glass of wine at Easter dinner this year (2011.) (I bought the bottle for my wife for Valentines Day and kinda forgot she was pregnant so we had to wait to share a glass) It was ok, not great. I didn’t get drunk. I didn’t feel a magical bubble pop in my psyche. I didn’t feel my cells rejoice about their shot of resveratrol. A few weeks a ago I attended a wedding at a vineyard. I had 2 &1/2 glasses and may have felt a tiny buzz, but that may have been a headache from the sulphites. I also had a beer at a family BBQ and experienced the same “meh” feeling. I could not imagine myself drinking 5 or 6 of them in a row.

So that’s it. I do drink now, but I’ve still never been drunk and don’t really plan to be.

Why did I start now? Well, I’m 30 now so I guess I qualify as “grown up.” I feel like I should be able to have a glass of wine if I want to. An old friend and I were talking about this topic a few weeks after I had my first sip and he said, “Don’t let labels define you. You have enough of them that other people place on you as it is.” Being “straightedge” isn’t as vital to me now as it was. I’m not suddenly going to start doing black tar heroine or anything, but I feel like I shouldn’t feel bad about trying my cousin’s homemade ale, or sharing in a champagne toast at a wedding.

What do you think?

(bear with me…this is a venting post)

We went to go get my 1 year old son’s shots updated yesterday. (more…)

So this is our backyard, inner-city garden. From Grass to greens. First we watched where the sun hit our yard so we could pick the best spot. We decided that 10×10 was big enough. My wife is cutting the border while baby watches. Cutting the sod was tough work. Wear gloves to avoid blisters. Shake out the chunks so you preserve as much soil as you can. You also save the worms this way and keep them in the garden. Making the fence was the hardest part. Even deciding on a design. Because we have a crawling/ walking baby, we needed something stronger than just wire. So we got cedar rails for their natural weatherproof-ness so when the baby teethes on them, he doesn’t get a mouthful of paint or varnish. Coating the bottoms of the posts in roof pitch was nasty. We also have groundhogs around, so the rabbit fence is good for keeping him out too. We buried it 4 inches below grade for that reason. We started the cold weather veggies early and used a roe-cover for them so that when May rolled around, we already had salads ready to eat. Now we have : lettuce, chives, carrots, beets, radishes, basil, tomatoes, strawberries, bell peppers, cayenne peppers, peas, cucumbers, and spinach.

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banana-nut-cheeriosWhat’s the difference between real banana flavor and natural banana flavor?

Check it out here.

124_2470I have a complicated relationship with this particular rapid. I suppose I would be the beaten housewife who defends her drunk husband in this scenario. Nelson’s Falls is a class 4 multi drop waterfall on the Middle section of the Moose river right near Old Forge, NY in the Adirondacks. Every year I go up to Moosefest and tackle this beast again. It’s not the gnarliest feature I’ve gone down in a kayak before, but it gave me the worst beating.

The saga begins several years ago. (more…)

My wife loves to entertain but one of her rules about food is that you have to make it pretty. So I thought I would show some of her prettier (and tastier) displays.

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