LMT N°3: On the world as it is

Some of you may have forgotten about this newsletter - I know I did. Insert well-meaning platitudes about meaning to do this more regularly; for now, I'll just try to write this one :)

LMT N°3: On the world as it is

Some of you may have forgotten about this newsletter - I know I did. Insert well-meaning platitudes about meaning to do this more regularly; for now, I'll just try to write this one :)

It was just about a month or so ago that Leslie and I were in Albion, CA for Valentine's weekend. Somehow, we found a getaway house (with a pretty well equipped kitchen!) for three days, and it had just amazing views. This was the view from the patio:

We spent some time relaxing and exploring Mendocino, which is a little treasure of northern California. The coastline is absolutely gorgeous. A picture is worth a thousand words, so here's a few photos that speak better than I can.

It was a lovely getaway indeed.

Speaking of beautiful California, I managed to do a trail run with a friend of mine a few weeks ago. It never ceases to amaze me how beautiful the area around me is; I think there just might be some kind of particularly (for me) restorative power in the redwoods around here.

And, fortunately enough, that weekend Leslie and I were able to get a climb in.

Of course, climbing is how Leslie and I met - at a climbing class in early 2017. This past year we have barely climbed at all for a variety of reasons, the latest of which was a shoulder injury on my part. Well, we finally got to climb again at Berkeley Ironworks and it felt really good - both to get out climbing, which I sorely miss, and to do it with the most beautiful woman in the world.

Leslie and I had also put in for the Mt. Whitney lottery. Mt. Whitney is the tallest 14'er in California, and you have a few options for climbing it. You can take the highly-technical Mountaineer's Route, or you can take the Whitney Trail. During the season that the trail is open and clear, you need a permit - but these are issued via a lottery system. You can do an overnighter or a single day trip; while the overnighter sounds like more fun (two days on a mountain instead of one!), you're twice as likely to get the single day permit. It's about twelve and a quarter miles each way, with over 6500 feet of elevation gain, averaging 550 feet of elevation gain per mile. In order to do the day trip, you basically have to leave around 2 AM to beat the weather systems later in the day. I knew I needed to train for this, but my new commute is about 1-2 hours each way, making training difficult. I found rucking, which is basically putting weight on your back and walking at a brisk pace. Even rucking to the bus stop, which is a half hour instead of a ten minute bike ride, would probably be helpful. My plan was to load my pack with a 30# steel plate, my work computer, and the same stuff I'd take with me to Whitney. Then Whitney would "just" be a matter of pulling out the plate and computer, and I'd be good to go.

Of course, the world had other plans.

We went into shelter-in-place on the 17th (has it been only two weeks?), which has changed a lot of things. For one, I can't work from anywhere but home; "WFH" often meant finding a coffee shop or somewhere outside before. Not anymore. My house is kind of a cave, so that's not great. I was adrift. I struggled. I struggled a lot. In fact, I think it's fair to say I didn't get anything useful done in the last two weeks. I had a really hard time getting my head in the game for a lot of reasons, but that's what it was. I knew this had to change, so I spent some time Friday figuring that out. I had to figure out who I wanted to be and how I wanted to be. I came up with a two-part plan. The first part is a daily schedule; the second part is a morning routine.

My schedule is

  • 0530: wake up, start morning routine
  • 0600: step off for whatever the morning workout is (more on this later)
  • 0830: start work, leaving me 2.5 hours to workout, shower, make breakfast.
  • 1230: lunch (two full Pomodoro cycles, more on this later)
  • 1630: end work (not quite two full Pomodoro cycles depending on how long lunch is)
  • 2000: electronics black-out / quarantine starts - no notifications or screens (except the Kindle)
  • 2130: in bed by now

This hasn't been battle-tested yet, and I'm not 100% sure about the Pomodoros, but I'm going to try it and see how it works out.

The morning routine is four steps:

  1. Get out of bed.
  2. Drink some water.
  3. Write down three things you're grateful for, big or small.
  4. Write down three things you're going to do. Get things done.

The original post had a fifth step, write down a training plan ("fortune favours the prepared") - but I'm on a fixed training plan. That 0600 step-off? Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I'm going to go for a run. At least two miles, but however long my feet take me for. Tuesday and Thursday are ruck days. At least four miles, no more than six, due to time constraints. Four miles takes about one hour. Six takes an hour and a half. During breaks in the day, I'll do "AMRAPs" (as many rounds as possible) of pushups, situps, squats, and flutter kicks. Why these? They're simple, they don't take much space, and they work out quite a bit.

The weekends, however, offer some slack. I'm still going to wake up and turn off electronics and go to sleep at the same time. But I don't have to "start work" right at 8:30; I can go longer if I want. The biggest problem is that people here aren't really making much effort to keep their distance; this is one of the reasons I'm starting so early. I did a six mile ruck starting at 6:30 last week, and it took longer because I kept having to step off and wait for people to pass because they couldn't be bothered to move. This being said, I'm planning on a long (hopefully twelve mile) ruck that'll kick off at 3 AM because doesn't that sound like fun? I think it does.

Pomodoros are another part of this plan. I've used them before to some success, so I'd like to revisit them and see if they help. The basic idea is based around iterations of 25 minutes of focused work followed by 5 minute breaks. You do four rounds of work, then you take a 20-30 minute break. The five minute breaks are when I'll fit in the AMRAPs, I think. The longer breaks, I'll take a walk around the block (1 mile for 15 minutes), then maybe have a snack.

Food has become another change for me, as I've been more deliberate about nutrition. Before, I'd eat healthy food but without really thinking about what I was eating when. Now, for example, my breakfast deliberately has carbs, protein, and fruit; my lunch is almost always just a salad to help avoid the afternoon crash. Snacks are veggies and protein. Dinner is usually light. There's some thought put into this: by the time I get to eat breakfast, I've already done main physical exertion for the day and the fuel (carbs) I have here will have to push me through most of the day. Well, carbs and coffee will have to push me through most of the day. I could talk more about this, but I got a meal plan (framework, really) from my work's health services thing. It's basically a guide that says "for breakfast, you should try for 1/2 protein, 2 carbs, 1 fruit, 1 fat," and so on for all three meals and a few snacks. Leslie gave me some tips to tweak it for me, and I've been sort of incorporating that as best as I can with everyone still panic buying.

That's basically the changes I'm making to get my head back in the game. We'll see how well it works. One thing that's helping (I think) the past couple of days is that I'm journaling more. I've been writing about four pages worth (in my 8x5.25" notebook) the past few days. It's a running journal - not a journal about running, mind you, but one that I write a sentence or paragraph down as I see fit throughout the day. Being home all day helps with that because it's pretty much always at arm's length. I've lapsed on the bullet journal, which I should pick back up; this is all just longform writing. A paragraph or more at a time, lots of times during the day. It adds up. It's cathartic. I just write, and no one's going to see it to judge me. Just like 750words. If you haven't, you should try it. Make sure it's a notebook and not on a phone or computer, and make sure you get a chance to do it with your electronics off so you don't get distracted by notifications. The people who make phones and technology want to steal all your attention - don't give it all to them. Take back some for yourself.

Walks are good for this, too. Leave your phone at home and go for a fifteen minute walk. You never know what you might find, especially once you start looking.

This week I found out we didn't make the lottery which is probably for the best, all things considered; I'm still going to keep working like I'm going so that I can take advantage of whatever opportunities pop up.

A while ago, and by a while I mean not even a year ago, I built my own microblog thing. I wanted something like Instagram, but without Instagram - no likes, no comments, "manual" interaction required. Something that I could separate posting to from reading - so I could post updates as I needed without getting sucked in. Well, I've been continuing to use it. The deal is that I send a text message to the number, and it posts whatever I send it as me. There's actually a few people using it now, and it's really nice that I don't have to think at all about how it works anymore (not entirely true - we're trying to rewrite it so we can add some features like voice memos and videos). Anyways, I send a lot of little updates and even more photos there.

I'm also going to be redoing my photography site (also named Le Monde Tourne); I'd lost it once before, and this will make it easier to back it up. I'll also start writing more about outdoor adventures for it, including reviewing the stuff I have, and stuff that I can't review because I never used it or stuff that I don't like I'll put up for sale somewhere.

Some beautiful music for you all; with the exception of Crooked Still who went on hiatus before I discovered them, I've seen all of them live (some of them several times) and loved every single show. I hope it brings you some small joy.

That's all I've got for now. If my track record keeps up, look for another email in 2022. Stay well!

  • K