There’s probably nothing actually wrong with you

In retrospect, these ads have always been around for a long time. But over the past year, I guess I've been exposed to a lot more broadcast advertising than I have in a long time. Working from home until 3 a.m., I usually leave the TV on as background noise. And I've been listening to sports talk radio in the background while I go about my day, though I think I'll be going back to Public Radio Remix.

If you just dropped in from outer space and learned from some of the ads I've started noticing, you'd find that we humans by rule:

• Have awful teeth
• Can't sleep
• Do most of their dating on the phone
• Have lots of extra skin around their necks
• Smell awful
• Have too much body hair

OK, I get that I might someday need a new car, and might benefit from learning what is on the current television station at what time. I can even live with ads trying to sell me mediocre beer, crappy snacks and sandwiches they can't even make look good on camera, because at some point I'm probably going to want to eat and have a beer. I can't fault someone for trying to get my business.

But no wonder we're so fucking unhappy. Look at all the shit the TV says is wrong with us!

If you're truly unhappy, turn off the television, turn off the radio, and look in the mirror. Talk to your reflection, find out what's really wrong.

It may be you hate your job. It may be you're in your relationship for the wrong reason. It may be you have the wrong people around you. It may be you don't eat well, don't get enough exercise, and in general don't get enough dopamine (read: happy neurons) rushing through your system.

Whiter teeth, laser hair removal and new deodorant are not going to help you.

If you're unhappy, you probably have some changes to make, but you're not going to get happy from these made up problems. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with you. Just turn off the TV and get on with your life.

Oh, also, read this.

Happy birthday to me

As of today, I've concluded my thirty-seventh year on the planet.

I thought hard about doing one of those lessons I've learned ebooks, but I recently read Stuart Firestein's Ignorance: How it drives science, and I realize that it's not the wisdom I've garnered over the years that's important, it's the wisdom I don't yet have.

For as much as I've been learning about the world around us – Einstein, Feynman, Darwin and Plato have all been on my reading list this year – my thirty-eighth year is going to be even more about exploration.

In addition to the wedding, I count at least four things in the pipeline I'm not ready to talk about yet, all of which I'm hoping will culminate before I reach my next birthday.

For today, though, I'll have a nap or two, probably hit the gym at some point, and enjoy dinner out. Tomorrow, after all, is another day.

A season with Early Morning Farm’s CSA

An early season share. Bok choy, strawberries, lettuce, hakurei turnips and a bunch more.

An early season share. Bok choy, strawberries, lettuce, hakurei turnips and a bunch more.

Last night I stopped by my local drop point and picked up our final three-quarter bushel box of vegetables from Early Morning Farm (EMF). A farm share is an investment, but this definitely turned out worth it.

If you're not familiar with farm shares, here's the deal. You sign up for the season, and you pay for however long the farm thinks they'll have veggies, in this case, 23 weeks. EMF had two size options coming into the season, and there was a full-season share (June to November) or an academic season share (beginning in August).

For us, getting a larger share (I eat a lot, though this would definitely have fed a family of five with normal, and we have lots of root veggies and squash left) for the full season wound up costing about $27 a week (compare that to your weekly grocery bill if all your fruits and veggies are organic). You do, of course, take some risk. Once you've bought into the system, you've bought into the system, and if there's a flood or drought, you're not getting much in the way of veggies.

Daikon radish

Daikon radish vs. arm

We got a lot of new-to-us veggies we'd never tried before. My favorites were hakurei turnips and sunchokes. Both are crispy when eaten raw, and sunchokes get really sweet when cooked.

We got several different kinds of kale during the season, along with other greens like mizuna, dandelion and mustard greens, napa cabbage, and they managed to have tomatoes a lot longer than some other farms, since their high tunnels managed to hold off the blight that hit this year.

In addition to getting to try new-to-me foods and stretch a bit with recipes, the farm itself was exactly the right fit for someone like me. Their Facebook page was alive right from planting season – they post a photo a day during the week from planting right on through to harvest – they post recipes on their blog, and they're always in touch by email to let us know what we can expect in the box, which gives you meal planners out there the opportunity to schedule your ideas out a few days.

As for pickup, they deliver to a location about a half mile from me. There are lots of drop points, and what day you get your veggies depends on what area you live in. They also invited members to an open house (we didn't make the trip; turns out they're a hike on a night when I was working).

Definitely something I'd recommend you try.

#100plus100plus1: The wrap-up

I've just wrapped up my (own) #100plus100plus1 fitness challenge. There were several purposes here, but mainly they were getting stronger, kick-starting my stalled weight loss, and sticking to a routine. Most goals are arbitrary anyway, so I set these for October: each day, do 100 pushups and 100 situps, and run a mile.

Here's the round-up:

Weight lost: 6.0 pounds
Pushups done: 3,100, plus a few dozen here and there
Situps done: 3,100, and not a single one more
Distance run: 51.07 miles
Time spent running: 8.32 hours
Other exercises: Mostly recovery; some very light lat pull-downs (typically in the 70-pound range, where I would normally be in the 120-pound range), kettle bell swings, that sort of thing.


What I expected: I love pushups, mostly because you can just drop and do them anywhere; it really doesn't even matter what you're wearing for clothes because the range of motion isn't anything different from what you need standing up in most cases. I expected by the end of the month I'd be rattling out sets of 50 or more.

The reality: Every day turned out to be too much of a good thing. I definitely got stronger (you can see my second two-minute for max pushups yielded more than my first), but the fatigue was so bad in the last week that I had to do sets of 10 and 15 for a couple of days. At the end, I was still able to do sets of 35, but with a day's rest thrown in every 10 days or so, I probably would have made some actual advances. We'll see as my workouts progress.


What I expected: I hate situps. I expected to continue to hate them. Mostly I know that in real life you'd never isolate your abs like you do with situps, but supposedly it's a basic exercise, so I should be able to do them.

The reality: Yep, still hate them. But I went from struggling to do 10 to 15 of them at a time to not really struggling until I was doing 25 and 30. I was actually worried early on that I wasn't going to be able to handle the situps when my back was closer to that bad injured sore than to that well-worked muscle sore, but I never quite let it get that bad.


What I expected: Big suckage. I play sprint sports like tennis, racquetball and softball. I pretty much never have to run more than 120 feet at a time, and what's that take, six or eight seconds? I did try a compressed couch to 5K program over the summer and was able to run 2.25 miles and it was all painful, even with the intervals. So I expected that I'd run about 1.02 miles every day except maybe a run to failure on the last day for perhaps 33 miles on the month.

The reality: I'm fatigued at the end of the month, but I wound up running a smidge over 51 miles, with the only two-steps-past-a-mile day on the last day, and that was about a minute faster than I was running at the beginning of the month. I did 5K distance twice, and I actually enjoyed it most days. Some days I didn't even get into it until I was two-thirds of a mile in – which I guess is dangerous because it means a lot of bargaining at the beginning, instead of striving at the end, but it made a mile a much less daunting distance.

The rest

Would you do it again? I would do a run streak again. Holy endorphins, Batman, and let's be honest, my pre-workout includes a dopamine modulator, so I'm just a happy guy after a while. But one weight-bearing (even body weight) exercise every day is too much. I will definitely balance my workouts better as I move forward, even if I include something like pushups three or four times a week.

Were you happy with the weight loss? Yeah. I ate like crap most of the month, so the fact that I could still lose almost a pound and a half a week means that if I make up my mind to eat better, the weight will just fall off. I've lost 18 pounds since early July of this year; I'm hoping another 20 will get me to a good show-offy body composition for the wedding next July, and even if I slow down to 4 pounds a month, that gives me plenty of time; the trick is to continue to lose fat and not muscle, which is what happens to a lot of people when they lose weight quickly.

Your turn

I know some of you tried it with me much of the month (one person dropped out so he could run a marathon and this would have derailed him; totally a reasonable excuse), and some of you were thinking about it. Stop thinking. Just get off the couch and give it a try.