Monday, November 28, 2005

Day 5

I only got 5 hours of sleep last night. I was very tempted to blow off the workout today. At the last minute, I changed my mind. It actually went pretty well.

See more progress on: Complete the Concept2 Holiday Challenge 2005

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Day 4

Did another 10K on my Concept2 this evening – that’s 20% complete. Also, weightlifting in the afternoon! Last day of a glorious long weekend ...

See more progress on: Complete the Concept2 Holiday Challenge 2005

Book recommendation: Practical Ethics

I finished re-reading Peter Singer's "Practical Ethics". This is a must-read book for anyone who asks themselves "Why should I behave in a particular way?", "What is the right thing to do?". Singer's explorations of these questions are not based in religion at all; his approach is purely ethical.

But the book is called "Practical Ethics" and Singer does not speak in general terms only. He examines several hot topics that are still relevant today (the book was published in 1979): affirmative action, animal rights, abortion, euthanasia, and obligations of the affluent to reduce "absolute poverty."

Many thumbs up!


Saturday, November 26, 2005

Why I want to meet Peter Singer

I’ve read a couple of his books: "Practical Ethics" and "The President of Good and Evil: The Ethics of George W. Bush". "Practical Ethics" made a big impression on me as a teenager. I wrote Singer a letter, and he actually replied (wish I’d kept the reply!).

Judging from his books, Singer has an interesting mind, and I just think it would be fascinating to chat with him over the backyard fence once in a while. Ethics is a vital subject, yet it’s so hard to find people who are interested in discussing it – let alone people who are interested in acting on it.

Day 3

Did another 10K. It’s pretty difficult to keep going, I am so not used to it.

Also did weightlifting this afternoon, again. It's going to be hard to keep up the combination when I go back to work on Monday.

See more progress on: Complete the Concept2 Holiday Challenge 2005

Friday, November 25, 2005

Day 2

Did the second 10K this evening. I also did a weightlifting workout this afternoon!


If two people deliberately developed a plan to screw up their relationship, they couldn't do a better job than these two did without trying.

5x2 by François Ozon should probably be required viewing for couples intending to marry, sort of as a how-to course on what not to do. Personally, I wish I hadn't bothered watching this movie. I felt no empathy for these characters whatsoever; they were sulky, passive, and childish... and in an almost completely boring way.

Thumbs down!

See more progress on: learn french


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Day 1

Finished the first 10K today, post-holiday meal. Good start.

See more progress on: Complete the Concept2 Holiday Challenge 2005

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Concept2 Holiday Challenge

The plan is to row 200K (that’s kilometers) on my Concept2 between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’ve been doing this since 2003. This year it will be tough; I haven’t used the rower since June. My excuse is that the summer is for hiking. But now that the days have grown dark and grim, indoor rowing is the way to go.

I have a feeling my weightlifting schedule is going all to shit for the next month.

Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

"Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior" stars Tony Jaa, a martial artist from the Thai boondocks, out to recover his village's sacred relic. The movie is worth watching for the chase scene through a Bangkok market area alone, and there are lots of good fight sequences as well.

The irony is heavy what with all that violence going on for the sake of recovering... well, the head of a Buddha. But ok, let's not start picking nits on the plot, which is not what I watch a martial arts movie for anyway.

Thumbs up!


Monday, November 21, 2005

I meditated for 20 minutes yesterday evening, but I felt all twitchy all over, as if my body didn’t want to sit still. I suspect this was due to my hike earlier. It was hard to sit still for the full 20 minutes, and it was not very restful, but I did it.

See more progress on: meditate daily

Sunday, November 20, 2005

hiking today!



The weather guy said it would be "mild". I decided to get going in the afternoon, to give things a chance to really warm up. Unfortunately, when I went out, it was actually a bit nippy, I'd guess around 50 F, and also a bit windy, which didn't help.

It's mildly depressing hiking (or doing anything) at this time of the year because the sun stays so close to the horizon even at midday. Sort of feels like evening no matter what time it is. And no, it doesn't really feel like dawn at all - evening is the mood. Really best to hibernate till spring...

Still, it was a nice hike. Clear skies, and never a soul in sight, except for a few startled deer. Very quiet.

See more progress on: go hiking

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Skipped breakfast today!

This is the first year that I did this.

I'm planning to do this every year from now on.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

weightlifting at night

I left work late, at 8 pm, so I wound up lifting pretty late - at 10 pm. That's always a bit rough for me. I like to get to bed around 10. I can't hit the sack directly after lifting; I'm wide awake.

Tonight the soundtrack to my workout came from the Evanescence album "Fallen".

There is not a single track on this album which is not excellent. However, there are two quiet, pensive tracks which I usually skip through when working out. These are track 4 - "My Immortal" - and track 11 - "Whisper". These are great songs, just no good for lifting (fine for the cool down afterwards though).

I bought the album mainly for the track "Bring Me To Life", but after playing the CD through a few times I found it really ate into me. I couldn't stop playing the thing; I played it during almost every workout for about 4 months. I play it less, lately, but it remains one of my all-time favorite albums.


Skip a meal for Oxfam

Tomorrow's the day. Wonder if I’ll skip breakfast, lunch or dinner? Probably breakfast. It’s cheating a bit, but I’ll probably collapse at work if I don’t have lunch... It’ll be bad enough skipping breakfast.

See more progress on: Read one book a month

tags: ,


I'm reading the article "Inside the Mind of a Savant" in the current issue of Scientific American (December 2005 - not available online at the moment). It's a study of an individual savant, Kim Peek, who has especially curious talents. Among other things, he reads rapidly (about 10 seconds per page) and memorizes it all, and is somewhat unusual among savants in actually comprehending much of what he reads. Kim Peek was the inspiration for the main character in the movie Rain Main.

It's an interesting story, short, and worth reading. The illustration on p.  112, comparing a normal brain with Kim Peek's brain, is pretty cool.

If you pick up this issue, be sure to read the article "Sick of Poverty" by Robert Sapolsky, also a good read.

tags: savant, poverty

Monday, November 14, 2005

Peter Singer's "Practical Ethics"

I will very rarely re-read a book – there are so many books out there, too many for one lifetime.

So it’s a bit odd that I’m re-reading "Practical Ethics" by Peter Singer. It’s a book that I read many years ago. I’ve changed a lot since then, and I wanted to refresh my memory.

In the interests of frugality I checked the book out from the library… I’m now up to chapter 3.

tag: books

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code

I read Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code a while back, maybe six months or a year ago. So my memory of what Brown purports to be true is shaky at best.

In any case, I never assumed that any of the supposed "facts" described in the book were true, because, you know, it's a novel, despite certain claims made by the author. But the claims made me curious about just how much of the story was supported by documented evidence. And then a discussion at prompted me to look around for more info on the topic. I found just that in historian Bart D. Ehrman's "Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code".

Ehrman does a good job of dissecting Dan Brown's novel. I won't go into detail, but according to Ehrman, most of Brown's "historical" claims are pulled out of a hat. I like Ehrman's book because he approaches the discussion from the view of a historian and is fairly scientific about it.

The book is definitely worth the read - I wish I'd read it directly after reading The Da Vinci Code. I was afraid it would be horribly dry and boring, but I went through it pretty quickly. Ehrman goes into some details about various gospels that didn't make it into the official Bible. I already knew that these existed, but not in any detail. So it was quite funny to read about the "Infancy Gospel of Thomas" which makes Jesus look like a real terror as a boy, striking his playmates dead or aging them in an instant.

Then there's this description of Jesus' emergence from the tomb, taken from the Gospel of Peter, which reads like something straight out of a science fiction novel:

From the tomb there emerge three men; the heads of two of them reach up to the sky. They are supporting the third, whose head reaches up beyond the skies. Behind them emerges a cross. A voice then speaks from heaven: "Have you preached to those who are asleep?" The cross replies, "Yes"....

Yow, that's mind-blowing stuff!! This is interesting on its own, forget about The Da Vinci Code! So this book gets two thumbs up from me.

As a postscript, I have to note that some kind (??) person took the trouble of sticking a post-it note on p 183 with the message: "Suggestion from a previous reader: skip from the bottom of pg 181 to the bottom of pg 183. Context there will turn your stomach and is not necessary for comprehension of the import of this book" (followed by a smiley-face no less!). Despite the warning I went straight through that text, which described a slightly gory, apocryphal sex ritual which didn't phase me in the least; I guess I am jaded. (In contrast, the factual description of the events surrounding the discovery of the Nag Hammadi, on 36 ff, did sicken me just a little.)

See more progress on: Read one book a month

tag: books

Rockpile cave

Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.
Rockpile cave at mile 1.31 of the Reservoir Section of the Mattabesett trail.

Back in form

I went for a 4 hour hike today, completing the Reservoir section of the Mattabesett trail. My pace was better than usual, about 2.3 miles per hour.

This was a difficult hike. On this section of the Mattabesett trail, there are several fairly steep slopes that are a bit hard going up, but terrible going down - especially because they are now covered with deep piles of leaves. Further, this section seems to be frequented by dirt bikers, especially after mile 2. I didn't actually see any, but the peace of my hike was frequently disturbed by the growl and buzz of their engine noise. This was all topped off by an encounter with a group of people with "friendly" unleashed dogs that leaped up on me, slobbering all over my clothes. Thanks!

Despite all that, it was a great day, and a nice hike. I think now that I've completed the Reservoir section I won't be heading back there though! Not my cup of tea.

See more progress on: go hiking

Saturday, November 12, 2005

twice this week

I meditated for 20 minutes twice this week. At least I am making some progress towards this goal.

See more progress on: meditate daily

Friday, November 11, 2005

Who needs a workout?

I do! I've been a total slacker this week. I went hiking last Sunday and haven't done a damned thing since then. I am still feeling the effects of the flu that hit me last week - mainly fatigue.

Today I got back on the wagon and did 30 minutes of weight-lifting. Felt great. Whew, I really needed that!

What's my blog worth?

My blog is worth $0, and I am damn proud of it! ;-)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

New Goal: Learn to surf

I've added a 43things goal: I want to learn to surf. I've wanted to learn to surf for a very long time. One of those things that's so easy to put off. Doh! But now that it's an official goal, I will think about how to really get working on it.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


I’m just beginning to recover from the flu, so maybe it was stupid, but I had to go hiking today. The weather was awesome for this time of year – almost 70 F. Unfortunately I couldn’t hike for long. I got exhausted pretty quickly. I hope I can do more tomorrow.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Comme une Image

I am biased towards French movies; I like listening to the spoken French. Even without considering the language, Look at Me is worth watching. Directed by Agnès Jaoui, it examines the dysfunctional relationships in the life of an egotistical celebrity and his needy daughter, Lolita.

The acting is uniformly good and believable. The only part of the plot that is hard to swallow is Lolita's sudden transformation at the end. It's just a little too hopeful, given all the emotional baggage that she's been toting around for her entire life. Jean-Pierre Bacri is a solid actor and does an excellent job playing the insensitive father.

Thumbs up!


Movie review

I'm dreadfully ill this week with a case of the flu - it has lasted 7 days now. So I've spent quite a lot of time reading and watching movies. Here's another movie review.

Born into Brothels is a documentary about the children of sex workers in the red light district of Calcutta. I expected this movie to be pretty depressing, but the children are so childishly upbeat and playful, overall, that you don't get bogged down with feelings of despair. Definitely worth the watch. And while you're at it, check out the organization that was started to help these children: Kids with Cameras.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Movie review

Red Cockroaches directed by Miguel Coyula: Just because a movie is weird does not mean it is good. Yes, there are hints of David Lynch here. But I didn't follow any of the sci-fi elements, and the rest of the plot is sordid in a tired, rather than an intriguing, way. Two thumbs down.