"It's easier to just do the work than to try to figure out how to get out of it." - Scott Roop via Rowing Magazine "The...

"It's easier to just do the work than to try to figure out how to get out of it." - Scott Roop via Rowing Magazine

"The normal food of man is vegetable." - Charles Darwin

"A man's health can be judged by which he takes two at a time—pills or stairs." - Joan Welsh via The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick by Gene Stone

"How much suffering will you tolerate for your food?" - Frank Reese via Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
"We can't stop our eating from radiating influence even if we want to."- Jonathan Safran Foer

"Eat as though you were a poor person." - Coach Joe Vigil via Born to Run by Christopher McDougal

"You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant." - Harlan Ellison

"Imagine the Earth devoid of human life, inhabited only by plants and animals. Would it still have a past and a future? Could we still speak of time in any meaningful way? The question, 'What time is it?' or 'What's the date today?' — if anybody were there to ask it — would be quite meaningless. The oak tree or the eagle would be bemused by such a question. 'What time?' they would ask. 'Well, of course, it's now. The time is now. What else is there?'" - Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now

I've been reading and reading and reading and reading and reading. I discovered library ebooks and in about 5 minutes added almost 40 bo...

I've been reading and reading and reading and reading and reading. I discovered library ebooks and in about 5 minutes added almost 40 books to my reading list. It's perfect for my life: I can check out and return books from Connecticut, which means I can borrow books even when I'm away from home for longer than the loan period.

It makes library books available to me when I want them most.

The books I've read so far (in the last 5 weeks or so):
Born to Run
The Ultramarathon Man (actually read the paperback copy)
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
The Zero-Waste Lifestyle (didn't finish this one)
Brain Rules
The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick
This I Believe: Life Lessons
What's Gotten Into Us?
The Power of Now
Eating Animals
Gone Tomorrow (a Jack Reacher novel, as an audiobook)
Worth Dying For (another Reacher audiobook)

Up next:
Starting Seeds
The Edible Front Yard
Foraged Flavor
Super Brain
whatever else is available on my reading list

I'd pretty much recommend all of them; the specific ones I'd recommend would probably depend on who you are. But the books I'd buy for myself include "Born to Run" and "What's Gotten Into Us?"—both worth reading more than once, I think, and the latter includes a lot of really useful reference information.

Although we may not agree about whether or not things are happening, I think we can all agree: - if the climate were  changing, it would be...

Although we may not agree about whether or not things are happening, I think we can all agree:
- if the climate were changing, it would be really bad
- if we were using, ingesting and accumulating toxic chemicals, it would be really bad
- if we were harming our health and our planet, it would be really bad

Ultimately, I think I'd rather not take that risk. The more I educate myself, the more I begin to understand how my choices impact the world around me. I've already made the choice to be vegan, for reasons very well explained in Jonathan Safran Foer's book Eating Animals:
I will only consume animal products
when more suffering is caused by abstaining than
the animal suffers from providing.

For example, I wear wool socks. I cannot think of a situation more rife with suffering that factory farmed chickens. However, I believe that frostbitten toes would cause me more suffering than removing wool from sheep, not to mention the environmental consequences of using synthetic alternatives—which also cause suffering.

Which brings me to my next concern: chemicals. There are plenty of great chemicals—table salt is a chemical, as are baking soda and vinegar. But there are also plenty of harmful chemicals, like chlorine and BPA. For most of my life, I have trusted that the government regulations were doing the research and making the right choices for my health.

It's becoming clear that's not the case. The responsibility is on the consumer.

Think about that: when you go buy toilet bowl cleaner—do you know what all of the chemicals in it do? Since a lot of cleaning products don't even list the chemicals in them, I find that highly unlikely. But, ultimately, you are responsible for ensuring that the cleaning, painting and beauty products you use are safe. Nobody is watching your back (or your lungs, or your skin, or your blood).

I don't know if the phthalates in laundry soap cause cancer, but if they did, it would be really bad. I don't know if the plastic beads in that pomegranate scented body wash make it to the ocean and enter the food chain via fish, but if they did, it would be really bad. 
What I do know is that castille soap doesn't destroy our oceans or our health. What I do know is that baking soda and vinegar make great household cleaners, and I don't have to worry about them making it into my food supply—they're already there.

My generation, for all the shit we get from mainstream media, has been given a huge burden.

Responsible products cost more money in stores. 

In the store, a factory farmed egg costs about 10 cents. Some of that goes to chicken care, some to workers and corporations. But you know where it doesn't go? To fixing waterway pollution, or disease research to combat antibiotic resistance. Previous generations have pushed those costs to us.

Now, we must pay not only for our own responsible products, but for the lack of responsibility of previous generations. That is a huge commitment, both in time and money. And being willing to make that commitment take understanding, education, compassion and a willingness to change.

I am certainly not the first person to make that commitment, as anybody who has walked into a Whole Foods can tell you. In fact, most of my life, I've mocked the people who paid twice as much for brown toilet paper as I paid for white. But, to borrow a quote from Foer,
"Ultimately, the controversy around PETA [or any environmentalist] may have less to do with the organization than with those of us who stand in judgement of it—that is, with the unpleasant realization that 'those PETA people' have stood up for the values that we have been too cowardly or forgetful to defend ourselves." 

A week ago, I arrived back in Connecticut (via Stewart airport in Newburgh, NY—the smallest airport I've ever flown to) to start prepara...

A week ago, I arrived back in Connecticut (via Stewart airport in Newburgh, NY—the smallest airport I've ever flown to) to start preparations for World Championship trials in early August.

The U.S. sends three lightweight women's boats to the World Championships every year—a single, a double and a quad. 

The double, the only Olympic boat class, has a slightly different selection procedure. The double raced at the second National Selection Regatta of the year, and the winner, two of my teammates from the California Rowing Club, earns the right to represent the U.S. at one of the World Cup races (different from the World Championships).

This year, the lightweight double won silver at the third of three World Cups, held just a week ago. In doing so, they earned an automatic berth to the World Championships. (Had they not placed in the top 4, there would have been a trial race for the double as well as the quad and single.)

From August 4th-7th, the remaining two lightweight women's boats will be decided, along with a host of other boat classes—from the heavy men's single to the lightweight men's eight.

In preparation for trials, I am back out in Connecticut training with a group of lightweights, trying to put together a blazing fast quad.

The view from the front door.
We are living just uphill from the boathouse. Follow the path through the trees for another 150m and you arrive at the dock, and 12000m of uninterrupted water. (I've heard you can go farther than that, but haven't yet felt the need.)

The view from my bedroom.

Top bunk.
We are sharing the space with some of the juniors who will be racing at the Junior World Championships, as well as a few of the senior heavy men who train with Guenter (the coach behind GMS Rowing).

Things are a little bit crowded. And yes, those are rowing machines in the living room. It's the only air-conditioned building on site; we set them up to do lactate testing to get accurate results.

Internet access is limited the western wall of the house (the wall closest to the office, located about 35m down the hill), which means I've been doing a lot of reading.

In addition to training, I also used our afternoon off yesterday to head into the New Milford farmer's market, and visit the local library and an organic cafe. I picked up a tomato, cucumber, lettuce, beets and carrots, and made a Mediterranean pasta and fresh bread to go with my summery salad. Yum! Overall, the farmer's market was pretty uninspiring. My tomato wasn't very good, and the majority of the produce was zucchini—which our neighbor gave us for free just last week. (Did I mention it's also growing in the garden?)

The library definitely needed more comfortable seating, but I was pleased with the number of people just there to read. I've been devouring books (more on that to come) recently. And the cafe was a lovely retreat—there was just enough seating, it was brightly lit and nobody rushed me to leave. I enjoyed a nice pot of green tea and fresh, organic summer fruit while finishing yet another book.

Although the prices here seem awfully high for just about everything, New Milford is quite a charming little town—everything you need and nothing you don't. Without a car, it could get really boring really quickly, but I'm enjoy the pace of life at the moment. It's very conducive to productive training.

I've been back in California for the last week. Dan had the 4th and 5th off of work, so we enjoyed a long weekend together before I head...

I've been back in California for the last week. Dan had the 4th and 5th off of work, so we enjoyed a long weekend together before I head back to CT this coming weekend. It is a short visit home, so we made sure to pack it with lots of fun summer activities.

(In CT, the mosquitoes are so prevalent I try to stay inside all the time. Otherwise it looks like I've contracted chicken pox.)

Over the long weekend, we probably biked 50 miles. BART (the local transit system and our primary mode of transportation) was on strike through Friday afternoon, but we weren't going to let that stop us!  On Thursday, we biked across Oakland and through Emeryville to the north side of Berkeley. We enjoyed a coffee at Peet's, perused the Crate and Barrel outlet and Sur la Table, and picked 3 liters of wild blackberries.

Friday, we made our way back to our old neighborhood to visit the Friday market. There, we scored two huge bags of organic broccoli for a dollar each, plus $1/lb stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, etc) and $1/lb organic tomatoes. Grapes were also starting to pop up, and we got a big bag of them.
(An old photo. More shorts and t-shirts this time of year.)
The afternoon stop at our local grocery store scored us a huge bag of squishy grapes (~5lbs) and squishy pears (~4lbs) for 99 cents each. We processed and froze these for future smoothie making. Yum!

The broccoli met its doom on the grill that evening, along with some tasty tofu skewers and corn, straight from the garden.

Saturday, after a morning personal record on the erg, we struck out closer to home, popping over to Alameda for a celebratory coffee date at Julie's Coffee and Tea Garden. We enjoyed a long walk around the island and finally replaced Dan's bike pedals!! (They were a bit spiky before and epic shin destroyers.)

Sunday, we wrapped up the weekend with a trip into San Francisco. Dan took the ferry into work last week because of the BART strike and really enjoyed the ride. It's a bit more expensive than BART, but we though we'd take it into the city as a treat. The wind was a great way to cool off and it was super easy to bring our bikes in with us.

The America's Cup is going on right now in San Francisco, so we walked over to the public viewing area. Most of the activities had already wrapped up for the day, but it was fun to see some footage of the boats in action. It looked like an absolute blast.

For dinner, we enjoyed fresh Acme baguette and other tasties from the ferry building's many vendors. We finished up our day with a bike ride up to Fisherman's Wharf, back to the ballpark and then onto BART and home.

Looking forward to enjoying time with family and friends, and getting ahead on the garden work prior to my departure. It looks like I might miss most of the productive season in the garden, from cucumbers to green beans to tomatoes to corn. I'm hoping for a warm September and October to help extend the growing season past the end of racing season.
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