Archive for the 'General' Category

Barefoot Running

I read Born to Run around December of last year. Much like The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Pushed, Born to Run passed my sniff test of what human’s are meant to do naturally. We’re constantly trying to fix food by reducing whatever thing we think is bad at the moment and adding in whatever is good today. We try to “fix” childbirth when it was never broken in the first place. And we try to improve running by putting people into an unnatural position that actually weakens the bodies natural ability. It just makes sense to me.

Born to Run talks about the positive change in people’s running ability and attitude toward running as they made the transition to barefoot running. I regarded much of this as the typical fanfare that is included in any book about a topic. However, I completed my first real barefoot-style run last week. It was the culmination of about three months of “preparation” and was noticeably easier then the same run a month prior in a more traditional running style. It wasn’t until half way through the run that I consciously thought, “Wow, this is easier. Could it be because of the barefoot-style?”

I made a New Year’s commitment to run to work once per month as motivation to progress toward barefoot running. I don’t run much, but this was something I wanted to try. I started researching and watching videos about barefoot running (I like this one:; there’s enough instructional information on the topic around the Internet to keep you busy for a weekend. I began running very short distances on the treadmill in slippers. I ordered a pair of Vivobarefoot Dharma shoes and wore them to work every day (my work commute involves a one mile walk each way to a train station) to strengthen my feet. It was important to not heel strike even when walking in these shoes. This strengthened my calves and the top and bottom of my feet. I then ordered a pair of Vivobarefoot Evo shoes and did short runs on the treadmill and around the neighborhood. Never too much; building up gradually.

This all happened over the course of three months. My first run to work was in traditional running shoes. I incorporated some barefoot-style where I could in the run but not much, and it was much more difficult in the traditional shoes. My second run was again in traditional shoes. Same thing. I just wasn’t confident enough yet in the strength of my feet to withstand the long run barefoot-style. My last run in March was in the Evos. I finally felt comfortable enough to do the whole run barefoot-style. And I must say it was phenomenal. The whole run was easier, and I completed the run with my best time. I rode a high all day. It was really really good. I’m one step closer to being a believer.

For me, all of the research I did on barefoot running boiled down to a few principles that worked well for me and allowed my body to naturally pick up the style (or at least I think so; I haven’t had anyone verify that I’m doing it correctly). Those principles are:

  • Don’t heel strike. I let my body do what naturally occurred when I just focused on not heel striking.
  • Straighten up. Don’t lean forward.
  • Lift your feet up. Focus on lifting your feet off of the ground and not on pushing off of the ground. This along with straightening up naturally made my gait speed up.

And I guess a fourth one would be:

  • Go slow. Don’t rush your body. Your feet are likely not used to the stress you’ll be putting on them.

That’s it.

Beer Log

I’ve lately been thinking about the best way to keep track of the beers I drink. It wasn’t as much of a problem a couple of years ago because I drank the same dozen beers or so and didn’t have as much selection in Michigan. However, since coming to Colorado, I’m confronted with a daunting selection of beer. With dozens of options in just the IPA category, it gets tough to decide which to get and remember if I like them or not.

My plan was to get a few selections from a certain category of beer and just write down what I thought of each and which I like the best. Then I could compare the winners of each round with each other to get my favorites from each category. Then when I’m in the mood for a certain type of beer, I just get my favorite selections of that type. I think I’m going to do that still, but I’m going to use instead of just writing something down.

I don’t have a lot of confidence in my ability to follow through, but we’ll see!

Google Toolbar page cannot be displayed after startup on Dell

This post is as much for my reference as anything. On the last two Dell computers that I’ve unpacked (both running Vista), I get an Internet Explorer pop up window after startup. The title of the window is “Google Toolbar”. The contents just say: “page cannot be displayed” (or possibly “cannot display webpage”). There is no close button on the window — you can hit Alt-F4 to close the window, but the people I’m setting the computers up for don’t know that. So, they’re just stuck with a window on the screen that won’t go away, they can’t close and comes back after every startup.

Instructions to fix this can be found here and are listed below for your convenience:

1.      Launch the Registry Editor
2.      Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows
3.      Look for a key labeled ECenter.  It should have “C:\Dell\E-Center
\EULALauncher.exe” in the data field
4.      Delete this key
5.      Restart your computer

I also created a .reg file that will do this. You should be able to download the file and execute it to delete the appropriate registry value. I BARELY KNOW WHAT I’M DOING SO USE THIS FILE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Download the file here.

I hope this helps someone (and me in the future when I run into the problem again).

My Phone and Me

I <3 my Centro + EVDO + PocketTunes + AudioGateway + a Jabra BT8010 + QuickNews + a good selection of podcasts. It's like wireless streaming podcast heaven.

Obesity and Voting

I came here tonight to post cute pictures of my dog sleeping in awkward positions. As I scrolled down the page to get to the link to write the post, the 2008 obesity map from a post back in July came on the screen. Something about it caught my eye. I stared at the map as my brain slowly clicked the pieces together.

I’ve spent more of my energy reading about and paying attention to the 2008 election than any previous one. One part of that is watching the polls every day and looking at maps where shades of blue and red become lighter and darker. As I looked at the obesity map, it struck me that it doesn’t look too different than the current 2008 electoral map. Let’s take a look.

Here’s the obesity map:


And here’s the 2008 electoral map prediction from as of October 20, 2008:


Now, I know it’s not perfect, but there definitely is some correlation:

  • 90% of the ten most obese states are leaning Republican (MI, WV, AL, LA, AR, SC, TN, KY, OK)
  • 80% of the ten least obese states are leaning Democrat (CO, HI, CT, MA, VT, RI, DC, NJ)
  • 70% of the twenty most obese states are Republican, 20% Toss Up and 10% Democrat
  • 75% of the twenty least obese states are Democrat, 10% Toss Up and 15% Republican

I don’t purport to imply that the correlation means anything, but it’s fun to think about.

The leanest of them all!

Yah, that’s right. Colorado wins:

I say it’s because of all of the Ethiopian restaurants around here.

From here.

State Pride

I would venture that people think there’s something unique about their state that may not really be that unique. “We have THE WORST or THE MOST AGGRESSIVE drivers here.” Or the one I want to talk about today: “Our weather is THE MOST unpredictable — it’s sunny in the morning and snowing at night!”

I lived in Michigan for 28.75 of my 29 years. I thought the weather in Michigan was very odd. People blamed it on being surrounded by lakes. It would be 30 degrees and 80 degrees in the same day with sun, clouds, rain and snow at almost the same time. I thought that was a claim to fame for Michigan. When I traveled, I would exclaim, “You don’t know anything! Michigan weather is craAaAAzy!!” But I’m not so sure anymore.

Colorado weather is as unpredictable as Michigan’s. I’ve experienced it go from mild and sunny to freezing and snowing in an hour. It’s windy and cold when you get home and then sunny and sweaty hot when you go back out a few minutes later with a jacket on. Wednesday it was 83 degrees. Wednesday night it got down to the 30s and snowed by morning. The high on Thursday was 43 degrees.

It’s just as crazy as Michigan. I can’t imagine Colorado and Michigan are unique. Are there just a few areas that have unpredictable weather? Or do all states claim they do and think it’s unique to them?

Update: The “Michigan Left”! There’s another thing that I’m sure doesn’t happen in just Michigan. It’s where you have to turn right and then U-turn to make a left turn.

Peanut Butter

Have you ever had natural, unsalted peanut butter? If not, you should. The transition may be rough at first, but it’s worth it. It tastes like.. well.. peanuts. And that’s it. I don’t understand JIF peanut butter any more; it’s overly salted and smooth. It makes me feel like something good was ruined. I’m a peanut butter snob. When I get my Blendtec, I’m going to make my own.

Most Amazing Food

I just came up with the most amazing food. Here it is. I’m going to eat it now. Are you jealous?

Best Food Ever

My Organic Milk is Sad

I think that pouring locally produced organic milk into a bowl of Fruity Pebbles is a bit ironic. And possibly asinine. And that leads to …

You should read The Omnivore’s Dilemma. It’s a very eye-opening look at our industrialized food chain (although it needs an update to account for the recent biofuel craziness). Also, you should get it from your local public library. They are free and convenient (you can request books from across your state and have them delivered to the library down the street) and you don’t end up with piles of books all over your house/office/car.