Saturday, March 28, 2009

earth hour 2009

it's Earth Hour 2009.

for those of you who don't know, Earth Hour is an event started by Sydney, Australia in 2007 and is growing into a global phenomenon. Earth Hour asks that on March 28 of every year, at 8:30pm local time, people switch off their lights for 1 hour. the purpose is to spread the message of action on climate change, and to raise awareness of the issue around the world.

for 2009, the ulterior hope is that it will alert world leaders about the global scale of concern regarding climate change, and pressure them to produce substantive, productive policy as they prepare for the U.N. Climate Change Conference scheduled for December 7-18 of this year in Copenhagen (reference: http://en.cop15.dk/).

when first observed in 2007, Earth Hour had approximately 2.2 million participants in and around the Sydney area. in 2008, it reached out to involve an estimated 50 million people drawn from the full international community, including 400 cities such as Rome, New York, and San Francisco. for 2009, the goal is to expand the effort in an exponential leap and enlist 1 billion people to support the message.

you can learn more from the organization's web page:
there's also a Youtube channel:
just to show you how big this event has become, there is a formal video speech made by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that i think is useful:

Earth Hour hasn't gotten much news attention in the U.S.--at least, it hasn't in the L.A. area (go figure...one of the most environmentally UN-friendly cities in America), but i managed to get notice of the 2009 event from BBC News. you can check out their article at:
i've also posted the full text of the article at the bottom of this post.

pursuant to the request at the end of the BBC article, i'll be spending the hour blogging.

and no, this doesn't have much to do with triathlon or endurance sports, but i figured this was post-worthy for the following reasons:
  1. there is an environmentally-sensitive movement in the triathlon/endurance sports community (one notable example is Christ Lieto's effort: http://thegreenathlete.typepad.com/--check it out, his effort is a much higher profile than mine);
  2. i think endurance sports, and endurance athletes, tend to be a little bit more socially conscious relative to the rest of society, and so want (and deserve) to be alerted to things to Earth Hour; and
  3. it's an important issue, and endurance sports (at least for me) is about engaging important issues, and learning just how it is that we are supposed to deal with them in ways that make life worth living...which is what i'm doing now.
pass the word on if you have the chance. let's help Earth Hour reach 1 billion people, and spread its message of awareness and call for action.

World cities begin big switch-off
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/in_depth/7969515.stm
Published: 2009/03/28 10:06:07 GMT

Millions of people worldwide are being urged to switch off lights for an hour, in what is described as the biggest climate change protest ever attempted.

The initiative, Earth Hour, was begun in Sydney two years ago by green campaigners keen to cut energy use.

Correspondents say the aim is to create a huge wave of public pressure to influence a meeting in Copenhagen later this year to seek a new climate treaty.

Critics describe the event as a symbolic and meaningless gesture.

The switch-off is expected to take place in more than 3,400 towns and cities across 88 countries, at 2030 in each local time zone.

Earth Hour was launched in 2007 as a solo event in Sydney, Australia, with more than two million people involved. Last year's event claimed the participation of 370 cities.

This time Sydney was one of the first places to switch off. The BBC's Nick Bryant described a city where skyscrapers were hard to make out against the night sky.

Locations taking part this time include Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, the Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing and the Egyptian Pyramids.

Fast-food giant MacDonald's has pledged to dim its "golden arches" at 500 locations, while celebrities such as actress Cate Blanchett and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have promised support.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon backed the initiative in a video posted this month on the event's YouTube channel.

"Earth Hour is a way for the citizens of the world to send a clear message," he said. "They want action on climate change."

People are invited to provide blogs and short video clips on how they spend their time.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

i did it again (ironman st. george)

well, i did it again.

actually, i did (several) it(s) again.

i did:
  1. signed up for another Ironman--the inaugural Ironman St. George, in Utah, to be held May 2010 (http://www.ironmanstgeorge.com/)
  2. signed up for another Ironman, without checking the course profile--it's a ball buster (check it out for yourself: http://www.ironmanstgeorge.com/course.php)
  3. signed up for another Ironman, simply because of peer pressure--all my buddies mysteriously decided that this race, of all races, was the race to do
i should issue a correction on the last one. most of it was me, and the fact that i just couldn't stand not having an Ironman to do. i guess it just gets under your skin. there are things that i get from Ironman that i don't get from anything else--at least, not anything that i've tried so far. life lessons, personal fulfillment, spiritual growth, call it whatever you want, nothing else is like Ironman. and i've come to realize that those things, and hence Ironman, is something that i need...i guess like so much of the ascetic traditions in the world's panoply of religions, spiritual development only comes through physical and mental ordeal.

i know i said that i was on hiatus for the foreseeable future because of the current economy and my current job situation, but the race is 13 months away and i figure things may change in that course of time. besides, a year seems to count as "foreseeable future," so in a way i suppose i'm still following what i said before.

i may live to regret this. not just because of the $550 non-refundable registration fee, but also because of the course.

the course is flat-out tough. right now, the bike course involves approximately 2,000 feet of climbing over a loop that you have to do twice. the run course isn't any easier, with around 500 feet of climbing on a loop that you also have to do twice. tough. tough. tough.

F my life.

WTF was i thinking!?!?

oh yeah, i wasn't.

lovely.

and with my luck, race day will feature 40-knot winds and torrential rain exceeding anything the locals have ever seen. and why? because i'm doing the race. you see, every Ironman i've done has had weather conditions beyond anything the locals have ever seen--every time, i've heard people say the same thing "freakish conditions, never seen anything like this, can't explain it."

well, i can explain it. it's me. me. and the big guy upstairs (or whatever upstairs) giving me a good dose of one-on-one conversation and personal attention for whatever random truths or lessons or insight or realization or enlightenment or masochism he (or it) has decided to give me.

well, i've got a year to prepare. let's hope i develop some athletic ability by that time.

and oh yeah:

F my life.

WTF was i thinking?

oh yeah, i wasn't.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

playlist: emo, past and present

i used to make fun of emo kids. i really did.

i always thought of them as over-sensitive, hyper-anxious, angst-ridden, slouching, shuffling, sniffling, sighing, moaning, mumbling, head-shaking, sneaker-wearing, hair-dying, makeup-obsessed, ratty-clothes-wearing crybabies. shoe-gazers. whiners. losers. with music to match.

i used to make fun of emo kids. i really did.

but then i became one.
well, okay, no, really, i didn't. i was too much into the punk/goth scene to ever really admit to doing that.

but...i have to say that somewhere along the way i realized that for all their sensitivity and anxiety and angst, the emo kids weren't really so bad after all. because i don't think they're really that far off the mark in terms of life and living.

you see, underneath the hair and makeup and clothes, emo at its core is--as defined by its name--about one thing: emotion. the lifestyle. the attitude. the music. and all of it is sustained by undercurrents composed of equal parts loneliness, confusion, fear, anguish, alienation, and longing, all strung together by a fragile sense of wonder and hope and the realization that it, and we, are lost to live in a world of psychotic brutality.

the natural inclination, at least as displayed by so many people, is to resign ourselves to our fate and surrender and join the world in its suppression of the human spirit.

but emo goes the other way. if nothing else, it clings even tighter to the things most fragile, and holds them close, to protect them, and remind ourselves that--sometime, everytime, all the time--life is not about brutality; life is about living, and living means all the good things great and glorious in this creation, from great to small from high to low from far to near...beginning with us.

and once i realized that, it dawned on me that emo was saying the same things every other artist before or now or ever after has always said: life. love. learn. loss. gain. wonder. truth. faith. hope. glory. all of it a work of art. all of it humanity.

so now, even as emo has ventured into the dreaded emo-pop, when i compile my playlists for my training days, and take my journeys of miles upon miles upon miles, i find myself pulling up emo songs.

because it's easy to lose yourself out there in the distance, and to resign yourself to fate, and to surrender to the brutality of the world. but every time you do, you end up losing whatever lessons you were meant to learn, because by surrendering you lose before you even start. you lose the race. you lose yourself. in essence, you become a loser.

with the emo songs, i'm reminded to hold on. to not resign. to not surrender. remember why it is that i am in the distance: to learn the lessons i was meant to learn, to discover what it is that i was meant to find. and that's myself; that's my humanity.

in essence, to become a winner.

to get you started, here's a sampling of emo, just for you:
and just to show you what i mean stating that emo is saying the same thing that every other artist has ever said, here's some music extending from the past all the way to now, all showing the same sentiments expressed with every bit as much feeling as all the ones above. it's just a confirmation that emotions are always all just really the same. no, none of it's emo in name...but it is in spirit, and maybe that's what really counts:
feel free to add to the list. doesn't matter which one. it's all the same.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

sort of sick

well, i guess i found a part of the reason for my insomnia, exhaustion, soreness, lethargy, irritability, moroseness, and overall general bad mood.

i've been sick.

oh yeah...that might certainly explain the past 2 weeks, during which time i'm sure i've managed to hurt other people's feelings, alienating most and essentially ignoring the rest. i'll have to extend some mea culpas and large apologies in the next few weeks (sorry guys, really).

i know, i know--how do i explain not having a clue?

well, my allergies have been acting up something fierce for the past month, giving all hellacious kinds of congestion, itchy eyes, headaches, wheezing, and coughing. which led me to believe that everything was just due to the pollen count.

but round about last Sunday i suddenly realized that i also had a fever.

oooooooooooooooh yeaaaaaaaaaaaah...little more than allergies now.

it's not that bad--not bad enough to be debilitating, but certainly bad enough to be annoying. and certainly enough to bring on the insomnia and make my life really really really not fun...and enough, i decided, to voluntarily shoot a self-inflicted hole in my training.

weighing the merits of resting (and thereby hopefully getting over this sickness, but at the price of a loss in fitness) versus training (and thereby extending the illness, and possible sinking me even deeper in fitness loss), i decided to heed to words of all the coaches i've ever had and just park things for awhile (the rule they always said: if no fever, play; if a fever, don't play--not just because exercise stresses the immune system beyond recovery, but also because you're really contagious...and that's just rude).

yeah, i know, this week of rest has made me a fat, pudgy, lumpy, snot-filled, sore-throat piece of lazy turd. believe me, i feel like it. but hopefully it'll nip this illness in the bud before it gets any worse, and before i take any more of a hit in fitness.

i'm feeling better already. at least now i'm not so ornery as i was a few days ago. and i actually got a full night's sleep last night.

i don't know what this was. it's certainly more than a cold, and i originally would have said the flu, except that i had a flu shot last November. it's possible that it was a flu strain, and my immune system was just taking it on. i know there's been another bug going around that's very similar, and people have been telling me it lasts for months (as in 2-3).

i certainly don't want it to be the latter. that's the last thing i need right now.

i hope to resume training this coming week. i've got some fitness to make-up. but hopefully it won't be too bad...hopefully.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

world naked bike ride day 2009

i've written about this in the past. and i thought it'd let it go, but...

it's that time of year again:
yes.

yes, indeed.

really?

really.

World Naked Bike Ride Day.

here's the official website:
oh, the horror.

the horror.

i wrote a couple of posts about World Naked Bike Ride Day about 2 years ago. you can check them out:
i tried to forget about it, but i've had a macabre fascination over it that i just can't let go of. it's kind of like watching the proverbial train wreck in slow motion: you know it's inevitable, you know it's awful, but...you. just. cannot. stop. watching.

even though you don't want to.

this year it appears the World Naked Bike Ride Day is actually on 2 days at 2 very different times of the year, with the Southern Hemisphere taking its bow (oops...sorry, just couldn't resist saying that, just too easy) this Saturday, March 14, and the Northern Hemisphere having its uppance (ouch...sorry, just couldn't say the first without saying the second) on Saturday, June 13.

i have to note that the cause--yes, there actually is one--is surprisingly sublime despite the inanity (or insanity, depending on your point of view...oh wait, i did it again, sorry, couldn't resist saying that one either...or maybe it was just a Freudian slip...oh phooey, i did it again...and again...and again) of the event. it's ostensibly meant to 1) assert the rights and safety of cyclists on the roads, and 2) encourage the use of bicycles as an alternative form of transport to alleviate the consumption of non-renewable sources of energy.

of course, having said that, i still have to say that i think the visual onslaught of this protest sort of overwhelms its message.

just a little (oh damn...i did it again. sorry. this is just too easy. you can't make this stuff up).

just watch out for the international news reports. the videos and articles that crop up every time this event is run are hilarious. if you want to get a gist, just check out this sample from last year (note: if you're squeamish, close your eyes):

Friday, March 06, 2009

insomnia

i've got insomnia.

again.

ugh.

i have these episodic bouts with insomnia that verge on periodic. not quite enough to be predictable, but just enough to keep me from ever getting comfortable.

i've had them as long as i could remember. as i kid, i just thought it was natural that sometimes you could not go to sleep, and that you would just lay in bed staring into the darkness. they started to get worse in high school, when instead of just 1 occasional night of sleep deprivation i started to go for 2 or 3 days at a stretch. once i got into my 20s, they started to go even longer, to the point that now they sometimes stretch for weeks.

it's not that i'm going completely without sleep. i'm getting some, but just not enough. maybe 2-3 hours a night. basically, just enough to give me a tantalizing taste of rest and relief while leaving me in a state of near exhaustion. i can describe it as akin to giving a thirsty man lost in the desert a few drops of water, and then leaving him to parch in the heat.

which wouldn't be a big deal, except that it brings with it all sorts of attendant problems: irritability, melancholy, loss of appetite, lack of motivation, difficulty paying attention or concentrating, and a near-constant state of lethargy that can verge on paralysis. sometimes i'll find myself just lying in bed, doing nothing other than staring out the window.

i think i know the reason why i have this problem.

in fact, i'm sure i know the reason why.

i think that all the problems and issues that i've experienced and accumulated in the course of human living are rising to give me payback. and as much as i have bypassed, suppressed, ignored, compartmentalized, analyzed, reified, and outright defied them, they have not really gone away. yeah sure, they've left my conscious, but they've left and gone to my subconscious. and once there, they've only grown. to the point that they've become restless.

and now they won't leave me alone.

training (sort of) helps, to the extent that my workouts over so many hours and so many miles of water and earth and sky give my subconscious its release, so that it is free to roam wherever it may want to go--usually, thankfully, at those times, it is away from me.

but training only goes so far. and when the workouts are over, and i've cooled down and cleaned up, i'm invariably left right back where i originally started: lying in bed, alone with my thoughts, somehow somewhere sometime long past midnight, staring once again into the darkness.

it's a personal hell. every night. pain and suffering and memories and pain and suffering and memories and pain and suffering and memories and more and more and more and more and more and more

heartache.

oh, yes, that.

*sigh*

i keep closing my eyes, waiting for sleep to come and send it all away.

but the thoughts they come and stay.

every night and every day.

i'm so tired.

i can only hope the thoughts get tired.

they usually do. i just have to outlast them. i've gotten better at that as i've gotten older. but it never gets easier. and some times are harder--much harder--than others. like now.

but that's okay.

it just means i have to endure.

i just have to live.

john mayer, dreaming with a broken heart
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LipClb6N8Dk

Monday, March 02, 2009

azure

it is a beautiful day, and you have decided to spend it outside.

you are drawn to look above. the day is aglow, translucent, shining. a glory of pure light.

with a sky as blue as the blue of creation's eye and as clear as the thought of forever in eternity's mind.

even as you are here, a creature of the earth, connected to the land, toiling upon its surface. a little more than just a hand-hold from heaven.

have you ever wondered what lies beyond the furthest reaches of the sky? have you ever wondered what lies beyond the deepest blue? what there is beyond the limits of your reality?

beyond your limited senses, and limited hands and limited feet, and limited arms and limited legs, and limited body and limited mind? beyond, in a universe that is most infinite?

you are limited in what you know, and what you know is not much. but wherever, however, whatever your limits may be, you do most assuredly at the very least know this:

you want to be more.

and that's why you now press on.

faster. stronger. harder. sharper. smarter. wiser. purer. truer. deeper. higher. farther. greater. more.

more than here, more than a creature of the earth, more than connected to the land, more than toiling upon the surface. a little more than just a hand-hold from heaven.

because you want to be

the forever in eternity's mind

the blue of creation's eye

the sky

azure.