Saturday, December 17, 2011

Small Update: Trim

I was definitely due for one and my wife trimmed about an inch.  There's just not much density at the ends.  I'm convinced these regular trims will give me my best chance for increased length.

Braid waves:

Somewhat brushed out:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

December Update

Just marking where I am for December.  Thanksgiving eating took a toll but I'm trying to get back on track.  My cycling has been reduced to once or twice per week but I'm incorporating more running.

Nothing new on the hair front though I'm probably due for a trim soon:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Trip to Maryland

Three of the last four years Amanda and I have traveled to Maryland to see her family there during the Thanksgiving break.  I've always enjoyed these trips very much and this year's was the best yet.  I feel incredibly blessed to have been welcomed into her very loving family.

We traveled down on Wednesday after sleeping over at her Mom's and Step-dad's on Tuesday night.  We left at the ungodly hour of 6AM but it paid off by us beating most of the traffic and arriving in the early afternoon.

We had the traditional Thanksgiving feast on Thursday and then went to the Washington zoo on Friday.  The weather was unseasonably warm each day.  This was my third time going to this zoo and I was impressed again by the diversity and the fact that it's free to go!  Here we are about to enter:

Most of us agreed the best exhibit was of the great cats.  I've seen them before but had never hit it when the lion was really strutting his stuff!  He was very active and also very vocal.  His roars got everyone's attention!

He disappeared briefly...

but then soon reappeared...

I counted nine female lions in the den next to his.  Here are some of them:

and a tiger:

and red pandas:

After the zoo we went to this cool pizza place that featured tables resembling those for playing ping pong and there were five real ping pong tables in the back.  I got the clam pizza:

Amanda got one with spinach and other toppings:

I played some spirited games afterwards with various members of the family.  I hadn't played in a long time and it was a lot of fun!

On Saturday we went to see a movie and then took some photos at a nearby lake:

All the family gathered in the evening for another meal together and a (mostly) surprise baby shower for us!!  We were overwhelmed by the generous outpouring of love and gifts.  Thank you so much everyone!  There were several activities connected to the baby that were also fun such as bib making and trying to guess Amanda's current waist size.  Rajni won!

We also took a few more family photos there:

It was another 6AM leave time today but we beat the traffic successfully again.  We're tired but have many happy memories of Thanksgiving 2011.  We look forward to having our son join us in celebrating next year!

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Generic Hair Post

It's been a long time since I've had a purely haircentric post so we must remedy that!  I did a thorough detangling tonight then my wife brushed it through with a boar bristle brush to distribute the oil.  Must.Get.Back.To.Coconut.Oilings!!!

Started with the braided halftail:

Then it slowly unwound..

Classic length remains an ever-elusive goal but I still I have a glimmer of hope of its eventual realization.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weight Check-in November 2011

I've made a little more progress.  I got down to a low of 155.6 but that may have been influenced by consecutive days of hard cycling.  Today I weighed in at 160.0.  I base it also on how my clothes are fitting.  Size 32s are now hanging loose.

Here are today's progress photos:

I continue on with paleo eating with some degree of cheating.  I'm consuming local raw honey for its purported benefits in helping building immunity to allergens.  I'm also eating dark chocolate.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chant Festival

I’ve always had an interest in yoga, some for its physical benefits but even more for its calming, spiritual element.  Upon meeting Amanda, I was excited to learn of her expertise in yoga.  She taught me some basic poses and we went to some classes together.  Alas, my inflexible body never took to it that well but what has endured is our interest and participation in the chant practice attendant to yoga called kirtan.

We have attended several of these around the Boston area.  They were all enjoyable but some chant artists definitely resonated with me more than others.  These kirtans running between 1 to 2 hours in length would usually leave us feeling very relaxed and centered but imagine if we could attend a chant practice encompassing many artists over hours of time!  Such an opportunity presented itself this past Saturday. 

We traveled to Montpelier, Vermont to attend an event called the Vermantra.  It was to last from 11AM to midnight with a list of artists including Tom Lena, Nina Rao, John de Kadt, Bonnie Argo, Adam Bauer, Brenda McMorrow, Anjula Prasad, Jeremy and Lily, Devadas, Dave Russell, Sri Kirtan, Terrance Pompey, Shubalananda, Irene Solea, Terrance Pompey and Yogi Patrick. 

We got there around 1:30 and caught the ending of Dave Russell’s performance.  Before I even entered the large room where the chanting was taking place, I could hear it through the door and could feel my mental state already changing.  I was soon losing the stress from the 3+ hour drive and entering a realm of meditative calmness.

With one exception, we enjoyed all the artists as they took turns leading the day long kirtan.  I particularly was impressed with Nina Rao and the tandem of Jeremy and Lily.  Here the three of them led the chanting:

It's hard to describe the effect of these mantras vibrating through the air.  Their effect went far beyond the aural realm.  My whole body felt alive and involuntarily I moved in rhythm.  These three had the strongest effect on me and literally brought tears to my eyes.  I had never attended a kirtan that affected me this deeply.  I felt such a profound sense of joy and peace.  It felt like being transported to another realm free of the divisiveness that plagues society.  It was a glimpse into what humanity has the potential to experience if hatred and prejudice were cast aside.

As part of our package, we had arranged to be served meals there at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.  Reluctantly, we left just before Jeremy and Lily began their last chant.  The meal was pretty good and I'm proud to say that Amanda sampled the duck that was served:

It was then back to the kirtan.  An interesting looking man with long hair and a beard was leading things.

He produced the most energetic vibe of the whole event.  People spontaneously were getting up to dance and express themselves through movement.  We only caught his last performance unfortunately.

I just could not connect with the next artist.  The one after her was very good and specialized in slower chants that were particularly calming.  We saw all the artists except the last one when we finally headed for our beds on the campus.

This was the view looking to the back of the room where the chanting took place:

We drove around Montpelier a bit the next morning and enjoyed a nice breakfast at this restaurant featuring many types of crepes:

We then headed home content with amazing memories of an unforgettable event.

ETA: Check out this blog of the event complete with youtube videos of some of the chants, the best being Nina Rao's!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hair and Weight Loss Update

Before I update where I'm at with my hair, I'd like to chronicle my attempts at weight and fat loss here.  Due to poor diet and lack of exercise, my weight increased from about the time I was 31 until I was 38.  I was finally shocked to my senses one day in March 2010 while on the cliffwalk with my wife in Newport, RI.  It was an easy walk but I was winded and tired at the halfway point.  Here was my bloated 200 pound self:

I realized something had to be done.  I slowly began working on my diet and began incorporating at least some of the paleo eating plan.  I tried to start eliminating bread, pasta, cereal, rice, potatoes and sugar.  Instead I focused on eating quality meat, poultry, fish, nuts, vegetables and fruit.

My goal was to try to get back to the body I had when I was 25.  This picture has served as motivation to me:

I've had my ups and downs.  When I get injured and especially when I get sick, I find it very hard to stick to the diet and usually hit the ice cream hard.  But, overall, I've changed my pattern of eating enough that it now comes naturally for me to seek out paleo foods.  Of course, the other big part of it is exercise, particularly intense exercise.  I was doing a combination of running and cycling but have now gone over primarily to cycling.  I always fill my rides with plenty of intervals both by straight sprints and also all-out hill climbs.  Raising your heart rate far into the anaerobic range turbo charges one's metabolism and it stays high long after the exercise is over.  I was down to 162 last week but have gained a couple pounds back due to some ice cream binging.  My goal is to get down to 150.  I think if I can reach that level, my stomach will look close to what it did in that picture of me at 25.  I've definitely still got a roll of fat around my abdomen that has to go.  So, here I am with 14 pounds still needed to come off:

I feel so much better having shed this weight!  The great part of it is that I mostly don't feel like I'm depriving myself with this eating plan.  I don't have to go around hungry either.  The large amounts of protein are very filling.  Eating many vegetables and some fruit ensures my body receives a full spectrum of nutrition.

Turning to my hair, I have neglected the coconut oilings some.  I'm still using it some but need to get back to a better routine.  All my outdoor activity causes significant wear and tear.  I was dousing my braid in coconut oil before my rides which worked well to protect it.  At this point, I'm unsure whether I can continue to gain length that doesn't look ratty.  I had Amanda cut 1 1/4 inches off the length yesterday and it feels much more healthy for it.  Here was my hair today, first unbrushed:

and then brushed...

My last trim was on June 12, 2011 so I definitely gained some length over the summer considering that the pictures above were taken after the 1 1/4 inch trim.  I probably went a bit too long without a trim this time.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Peak Experience

My best day cycling was on July 19, 2003.  This was my journal entry from that day:

I had a most enjoyable day riding on Saturday. The weather was perfect, low humidity with a touch of coolness in the air.
I went on all virgin roads in New Hampshire. I did a loop starting on route 112 in Lincoln then 118, 25A, 10, 116 and back to 112. It is the Mousilaukee region so I knew there would be some climbing but I thought it would be mostly on my return on 116.

It turned out I started to climb almost immediately and when I got on 118 I hit a three mile stretch with a posted 8% grade. That sure got me warmed up quickly. I was glad to have a 27 tooth cog to go with my 39 in front. The overall climb was about 8 miles so I knew the downhill would be nice. The sign said 7% grade for the downhill. It was twisty with not the best pavement. I got up to 48 and then did some braking. Not knowing the road and the twists had me chicken out.
From there the ride was comparatively flat over 25A and route 10. The roads were very nice with almost no traffic with beautiful panoramic views.

As I was turning onto 116 from route 10, I noticed a road construction sign. Further on it said the road was closed 6 miles up! I didn't know what to do because I had already gone 50 miles at this point so backtracking, especially with the climbing, was not looking attractive. I stopped and asked a man if he thought I could make it through. He indicated I would have to get across a river as the bridge was out. I decided to go for it. After a lot of climbing on a what was now an almost completely deserted road because only a few local residents now used it, I came to the road closed sign. Sure enough, there was a ravine with a river at the bottom. I debated taking my shoes off because of the cleats but decided to go with shoes. Crossing the river was a bit tricky but I only got my shoes a little wet. I climbed up the other banking and proceeded.

After some descending I rejoined route 112 to find more road construction signs. Turns out the pavement had been taken up for 3 1/2 miles. Most cars slowed down when passing so it wasn't too bad, just slower. After the construction, I really started the climbing. It was relentless up to a lookout over the valley and Mount Mousilaukee. After a brief rest there, I prepared for the descent. I saw the grade sign coming up. When I got close enough to see the figure, my heart jumped - 12% grade! And a good road! And fairly straight! with almost no traffic. My bike quickly went through the 40s and before I knew it, past 50 - I kept accelerating topping out at 55 MPH! What a rush! My legs were tired and shaking a little bit which at this speed translated into making the bike shake some. I was grateful to have good wheels under me. I have attached a photo I took of my computer.

I had always had a goal to beat 50 but didn't hope to do 55 on this ride. I would love to hit 60 sometime. I was solo so I'm thinking if there were a couple other riders to slingshot with on this descent, we might have reached it.
Final stats: 71.38 miles in 4:11:51 for an average of 17.01. My average speed really takes a beating in the mountains.

and the requisite photo of my cycling computer:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ocean City Trip

Amanda's grandmother has a beautiful condo overlooking the beach in Ocean City, Maryland.  She graciously agreed to let us stay there for a week.  We hit a week of perfect weather.  There wasn't a drop of rain the whole time we were down there though we did hit some rain while traveling down.

This is the view looking off the front balcony in the early morning light:

In the evening we could see beautiful sunsets from the rear balcony looking westward:

We spent our first day largely enjoying the beach.  Ocean City is known for its delectable crab dinners so we went out that night to sample one.  It had been two years since I had had crab when I was last here:

I got the early bird special which featured all-you-can-eat crabs.  Eating crabs is a messy undertaking and you have to work for it as there's not a lot of meat in each crab but after a second tray was brought, I had more than my fill!

It's very pleasant on the beach close to sunset:

I protected my hair by applying lots of coconut oil everyday before going to the beach and swimming in the ocean.  It worked well and left my hair with lots of waves:

Mostly, I'd keep it in a braid for protection as well:

I brought my bike down and was able to go on three rides including a 52 miler to the Bay Bridge and back.  Mostly, days were spent on the beach right in front of the condo though we did venture down to the boardwalk area on one of the evenings.  This is how things looked at the extremity of it:

It felt like we were staying in a 5 star resort!  It was great to spend time with Amanda and her grandmother in such a beautiful setting and we look forward to visiting again next year.