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2004/09/29 Central Park - Half Marathon
π 2004-09-29 20:39 by Merlin in Exercising

Current Music: Awesome Trance Mix a guy gave me on a CD while waiting in line at a club
Current Mood: Worked out physically and mentally, but ok

So, I was curious to know how long the Central Park loop really was as I wasn't quite satisfied with the "about 6 miles answer" when doing mile/mn calculations. I found out that it's actually 6.3 miles, which significantly improved my last times (7:48 and 7:28mn/mile).
Those weren't too hard for me though, my body is geared for sub-hour intense and potentially sustained efforts, but not for anything much past that.
Now, the real challenge for me was doing two laps, which turns out to be really close to a half marathon (just a tiny bit short of the distance). Since Central Park had somehow somewhat motivated me to run (not sure why because I really wouldn't go running by myself otherwise), I made it fit into my schedule to go today around 17:30.
The first lap was not a bit deal. I was somewhat slower than my last two previous times since I was trying to keep a little energy for the second time around (hence 50mn18s or a 7:59s mile) and my second lap started ok until I reached about the 8th or 9th mile, and then my legs started showing signs of fatigue and it became increasingly harder to continue. The pain and general fatigue in my left calf and my right quad significantly slowed me down, to the point that instead of passing people throughout my lap, people started passing me left and right on the last 4th of my run (i.e. 2nd half of 2nd lap). I think the fact that was not going to come back to attempt this again anytime soon (if ever) was probably the only thing that made me finish the 2nd lap, but my end time was pretty poor: 8mn45/mile. It's kind of vexing to lose your muscle capacity when your body/heart/breathing still has a lot of stamina left, but such is life I guess.
However, since I got a better time on the first lap, I'm still ending up with a 8mn22/mile average for 12.6 miles, which considering that I'm not a runner/jogger is decent I guess (eh, I'm happy because I "beat" one of my coworkers' time on his half marathon, and he trained 6 months, while I had never run that distance before :)
But this all confirms that I would never last a marathon without serious training, and that even with good music in my mp3 player, jogging is incredibly boring for me, and I wouldn't stand doing that on a regular basis, not even counting the fact that you're not supposed to do anything silly like increasing your training distance by 6 mile chunks :)
(so it would probably take excruciatingly long for me to train to get there, and I just don't have the interest, sorry :)
The good news is that while my legs felt a little bit tired while I was climbing stairs double time in the subway, they didn't actually hurt, nor did I feel any serious lactic acid.
2004/09/27 Jog in Central Park - Take 2 (updated)
π 2004-09-27 20:21 by Merlin in Exercising

So, my legs were hurting a bit after my jog on friday, not having exercised for 10 days, and well, not really being a jogger :) and this might also have something to do with rollerblading all weekend while visiting manhattan, and doing a fairly good step class on sunday morning.
Anyway, by Monday, my legs well still a bit sore, but since Tuesday was going to have rain all day, I figured I'd give Central Park another try since I knew I could definitely get under the 8mn/mile mark.
Sure enough, this time I did the lap in 47mn08 (2mn01s faster), and brought the mile down to 7mn29s, which is already a bit better and brings me at the last level: level 22 from this page (whatever that really means anyway)).
The good news is that I actually felt ok after the run (ok, I did take two advils, which did go a long way to helping not hurting my knee). I almost felt good enough to go to the step class I had planned to attend at 19:30, but since my legs did feel a little sore in the subway stairs, and since there was a play I had been considering seeing, in a moment of clarity (or stupidity), I went to see the play instead of going to step (where I'm sure I would have done fine as my legs are feeling dandy as I write this).
The play was smack on time square, which was kind of fun, but it was a murder mystery, and required thought and remembering character names and so forth. Needless to say that with that I worked sunday night and today, half of it went way over my head. Oh well, I'll take step next time :)
Anyway, I now know that it'll be much harder for me to take another 2mn off the time I did today (i.e. I'd be happy if I shave another 30s next time), so since I'll probably only get one last time at a run in Central Park before I go home, I'm going to try two laps next time, or 12.6 miles, which will put it close to a half marathon. I know I can run that distance, but I have no idea how fast... I guess as long as I can keep it below 8mn30s/mile, it would be decent.
(I have however no idea whether I could run a real marathon without real training. My guess would be that I'd struggle a lot and risk blowing a knee or something. As for training, mmmh, I don't think I'd ever have the patience :)
2004/09/24 Jog in Central Park (updated)
π 2004-09-24 20:19 by Merlin in Exercising

Well, I haven't had much time to go exercising in the last week (had to work in the morning as soon as I got up, and had plans most nights), but today was a good day to do something about it after work was over, so I headed for Central Park for a jog. I was kind of curious how long it was and how long it'd take me to jog around it.
End result: 6.3 miles (I first thought it was 6.0), 49mn07, or 7mn48s mile average. Not stelar, but considering it was far from flat, and I'm not really a good jogger anyway, I guess that's good enough (I passed a bunch of people, and 6 passed me, 2 going a bit too quickly to last the 6 miles IMO, but who knows...)
While looking for how long the loop was, I found this page on running . According to the end of it, I'm already past level 21 out of 22. Woohoo, I just skipped more than 6 months of training :)
I was planning on doing a second lap, but I made the mistake not to take an advil beforehand, so my knees were starting to warm up and a second lap didn't sound like a great idea anymore. Instead, I walked back to the office down broadway. It was a nice walk and good to see 20 blocks of broadway at night. I even managed to catch critical mass (a bunch of bikers riding across manhattan once a month), followed by lots of cops on motorbikes and vans :) (ok, it was fun, but it doesn't beat critical tits at burning man :)
Eh, I even got lucky for a change, I was using my nice jersey since it had pockets in the back, one with a zipper, and put my cell phone and camera in there. That wasn't the brightest thing I did as they got covered with sweat pretty quickly. Luckily neither my cell phone or camera got damaged by the exposure....
Comments:
Ah, but the trick is to see whether you can repeat that performance three or four more times this week. ;-) *That's* when the training kicks in. :-) Lucky you getting to go running in Central Park. Grrr.

btw -- ziplock baggies are what you're after to protect your phone, money and such.
posted by goaliegirl : 26 September, 2004 12:23

I am planning on going again, but I did step instead this morning. I did feel it though, my legs just aren't used to jogging.
My plan wasn't just to do it again though, but to do better next time :) (i.e. 8mn/mile or under and/or two laps, or about 20km). We'll see if I actually manage that or not (and also find the time, but that's a different issue)
As for ziplocks, yes, I figured that out, and I'm taking some next time :)
posted by MM : 26 September, 2004 15:04

8 min/mi is quite respectable. :-) Weird that the page you cite has 7.5min/mi as the top speed. But I guess it's for total beginner runners.
posted by goaliegirl : 27 September, 2004 19:25

Turns out that I actually did right under 7:30/mile now that I've adjusted the real distance to 6.3miles, so the end numbers are actually a bit better :)
posted by MM : 29 September, 2004 21:11

2004/09/24 Tiësto @ Central Park
π 2004-09-24 08:02 by Merlin in Clubbing

When I learned that he was going to be there at the same time than me, by sheer luck, that was really great news.
It's hard to summarize how it went, but when I got there around 18:30 (having missed the first half hour due to the engineering meeting I attended before that), and it the mix was already going strong. After it got dark, they started the video projectors, and had some nice displays for them.
Tijs just went on mixing good tunes, including his own Traffic, Just Be (click next and previous for 2 other ones), and many others well known ones like ( 1 , 2 , ...).





I was in the second and then first row in front of the stage, so I had a fairly good view :) I also remembered I was carrying my jukebox mp3 player and that it had a recorder function, so for the hell of it, I figured I'd try to record the show. The biggest problem is not saturating because of the heavy bass, so I turned gain all the way off, and put the player in my pocket to further shield it from the heavy noise. The result is something that isn't of great quality (mono and not awesome sound), but it's still something you can listen to if you'd like ( 150MB download ).
When his performance was nearing its end, he handed out some posters of the show . My hand was there, but the 4 that were cms from my hand went around me, including two to a lady next to me (I guess she was cuter than me :) Things were crazy then already, but they got worse when he signed a few vinyls and threw them in the audience :)





I think one of the things I like about Tijs, is how it's obvious that he's having a great time and enjoying himself too (too many other DJs have a way too serious look on their face, which kind of detracts from the enjoyment part). You can get a glimpse at the event by looking at the pictures and videos with excerpts from some of his best songs.
Anyway, this was really an epic show in my opinion, and definitely the best performance I saw from him (or any other DJ for that matter), and he finished with his well known Adagio for Strings remix . So yes, I am very happy that I just so happened to be there :)

2004/09/22 Sasha, PVD, Alex Gold, and others @ Crobar
π 2004-09-22 00:00 by Merlin in Clubbing
Sasha's set, well, didn't really uplift me. He also seemed to be uneasy with the crowd...

Paul did an enjoyable set, but the surprise was Alex Gold right afterwards, who just played such good mixes that it prevented me from leaving for another hour (I only got home around 03:30-ish).

The pictures and videos from that evening are here

2004/09/14 Woohoo, burning man report and pictures posted
π 2004-09-14 11:36 by Merlin in Bm

Current Music: Armin van Buuren - A State Of Trance - Episode 163
Current Mood: Fair

Better late than never as they say. It's all here , click on 2004 for the latest stuff (and yes, there are other things to see than just critical tits :)
Comments:
Yeah let's not forget critical dicks, rotfl :-D
posted by ralfoide : 15 September, 2004 23:50

2004/09/11 Doc Wong's Driving Clinic
π 2004-09-11 00:00 by Merlin in Cars
I can't believe it had been so long since my last DocWong drive. I think that one week, I had just run out of excuses not to go :-))
We had a fair amount of cars, and all went well, except for a mostly stock 240SX, who thought he had to race me down Jamison, except that I had Toyo RA-1s and 4 piston calipers with racing brake pads. He ended up banging up his car by hitting the wall that actually stopped him from going downhill off the cliff. While his car was crippled by the time he finally got down (tss, this is not a race, drive within your own and your car's limits), he got lucky overall
I did find out however that something was out with my suspension/alignement/bushings, as my car felt unsettled in too many spots. I guess it's time to fix all that up (Tein 16 way adjustable shocks, Flying Miata Super Pro bushing, and a new wheel alignment and rebalance (ok, as always Jason knows better :-) )
The Toyota wagon-like front wheel drive driver gets muchos points for sticking really close to me despite a car that's not as capable

The picts are here

[picture]

2004/09/06 Burning Man Day 4: Sunday, Sunday, Sunday.... / Temple Burn
π 2004-09-06 06:46 by Merlin in Bm

Since the awesome music in the art car I was in changed for something questionable when they fixed their electricity/battery problems, so I got out and headed for the 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock clubs. There was some decent dancing music, which I listened to for a while, and eventually headed up back for my tent, being suitably pooped.
After a few hours of sleep, I headed out to check out the playa, the man's remains (still hot), and the temple of stars, which was being prepped for its burn that night. I happened to show up when its designer was giving a small speech about the temple and the ones he had built the previous years.
I then biked around, did the two inner rings from 2 to 6, chatted with the firemen and the medical care folks and was relieved to learn that there hadn't been any major accidents this year. Most people are tearing down their camps right now, so there isn't a whole lot more to see.
I'm at playa info now, leeching some power :) but apart from writing this and offloading my pictures to my hard drive, that's going to be about it: the satellite dish uplink has been taken down apparently.
Since I'm feeling rather tired right now (got woken up a bit early by music that made it through my ear plugs), I think right now is a jolly good time for a nap :)
(later)
After doing a quick tour of the other half of the ring, talking with the medical staff at 3 o'clock, and another quick nap before dinner, I headed out for the temple of stars, which was noticeably harder now that it was dark, and they had taken away base landmarks like the man. Bastards! :)
I thought I had been reasonably careful when leaving my bike. I knew that finding it after the burn would be hard due to another landmark being gone, the crowd, and hundreds of bikes that would be left behind, but after the burn, and despite having used my compass to get some markers and help to find my bike on the way back, it was actually quite hard to find it, especially after I realized that the crane I parked my bike next to, wasn't the only one, and that some of them had started moving. Argh...
Anyway, the burn itself was very similar to the temple of joy from two years ago (same kind of construction out of cut out wood), so once it caught fire, it went in flames instantly, sending lots of heat towards us, despite the considerable distance we were from the fire. The small problem, is that they had used 4 pillars made out of steel for the base of the wooden structure (and to make sure it wouldn't collapse under people's weight when it was open for visits). The steel melted a bit at the top, but the bottom stayed sturdy, and basically was still standing an entire hour later with everyone around the fire dying to go run towards it. The rangers had a really hard time keeping people back until the firemen finally resolved to tying a cable around what was left of the burning structure, and winching it down with a truck.
Once the remains were down, it was a bit like the previous night, with a sea of art cars surrounding you, you having even less of an idea where you were, and which direction was home (to be helpful, people had taken "souvenirs", in the form of street signs, which made navigation just that more difficult at night on top of that :)
Since many people had torn down their installations on sunday, there were not nearly as many places with music that night (not counting art cars), so after a quick tour, and enjoying random things on the playa, like a firework show, I went back to my camp to tear my stuff down and box it up. Unfortunately, after that, I figured that it'd be tempting fate to fall asleep somewhere, as the odds that I'd be up in time to go to the airport for my 07:00 departure, were not high.
So I did the next best (or worst) thing: I figured I'd just take my stuff and wait at the airport "gate", where some structure had been setup, and just fall asleep there, so that the pilot could kick me in the morning :)
Unfortunately, I didn't account for most of the airport having been torn down, and no such structure being left. I tried to fall sleep behind a small trailer, and I might have "slept" in stretches of 20mn, but when I started very weird, uncontrollable dreams, and when I got up with clear signs of hypothermia, I borrowed a bike, and headed back to the city for the closest fire I could find, so that I could warm myself up. I then hung out in center camp to finish typing this, posting it (wireless and satellite uplink came back up), and going back to the airport at the outer edges of the city. Hopefully the other folks will be on time so that I don't have to wait in the cold again...
Ok, it's 06:47, time to head out.
2004/09/05 Burning Man Day 3: cruising 6 o'clock to 2 o'clock / Man Burn
π 2004-09-05 01:50 by Merlin in Bm

I got a slightly later start to go visit the camps, so that's pretty much what I did straight until the sunset. I was barely able to finish the second half before sunset, but ended up making it, while being able to spend some time with a few camps. It was fun to visit kidsville, as well as the alternative energy camp (I spent quite a bit of time there chatting with one of their solar panel and battery specialists, as I've been curious about how technology has evolved and what's out there (I did consider putting solar panels on my roof at some point considering my energy consumption due to the computing equipment that I have running 24/7 at home).
Not counting the many camps that were offering drinks, snowcones, and so forth, I stopped at a camp where someone was giving an informal lecture about the creation of the universe, all the way to us. It's kind of funny to find those, just like the math class that a guy was giving last year.
Sometimes, I'd love to stay and chat with every cool camp, but that's just not possible, even if you count the way too many camps that didn't have any theme, or anything cool on display. Yet, I've been trying to do a better job to actually spend time talking with random people and enjoying what there was to see instead of trying to see it all (and doing a pretty good job at it, but that's not the point). I've felt like I probably missed some dimension of the experience by running around so much last years, so I tried to mellow out a little bit this time :)
When I was almost done with the last rows of streets (as I was carefully crossing them out my map :), I was thinking about taking care of dinner, and while it would have been easy to just drop by any camp, say hi, and get food, it just felt a little wrong (probably shouldn't, but never mind), I was biking at a good pace, and someone flagged me and said "dinner, come on here". Of course, turns out that many people have prepare way too much food and are more than happy to share with you, but it was still cool to be flagged down the street like that. I had a nice chat with a couple where the wife was italian and had recently immigrated here, while I had some food with them. That was very enjoyable.
Then, it was time to head back for the camp, put on some warmer clothes, refill my water supplies (having gone through 2 litres in 5 hours), and head up for the man to find a nice front row spot to sit down at, and take pictures without people's heads in front of me :) The front of the man was already had several rows of people sitting down 1H before the burn, so I headed for the back for the man, which incidently, looks just the same, but I just realized that wind is blowing my way, so this may not be an awfully smart decision afterall... Anyway, for now I'm sitting down, typing this up, waiting for the pre-burn ceremony to start.
The burn went fine. There wasn't that much wood to burn, and we were downwind from the man, so I got to see a lot of smoke hiding it somewhat, but there as a very nice fireworks show, and then the burn went as usual, with the craze of people rushing for the center and running around the fire as soon as the man fell
I walked around where the man used to be to check out the sea of art cars that had gathered around. This is the one time where everything and everyone is gathered in one place, and your biggest landmark, the man, is just gone. This part is just impossible to describe in words, you just have to experience it to get a decent idea: art carts, music, lights, and more than you can imagine.
I found one that was playing very nice trance, and luckily, it was still there when I had completed a wide lap around the man, trying to see everything. So, I hopped into that art car, and danced, chilled, and just enjoyed the music.
When I got a bit tired, I pulled out my laptop to write some of this, and because I need help, just checked for wireless, and sure enough got some, so connected to the internet and sent my last two blog entries :)
Ok, the music has changed to other stuff, I'm going to head out and look for other music after I send this :)
2004/09/03 Burning Man Day 1: Any landing you walk away from is a good landing :)
π 2004-09-03 20:02 by Merlin in Bm, Flying

So, I'm flying somewhere above 880 to 80 (north of Oakland) right now, and it's been a fun 30mn flying over the bay (Palo Alto airport up 101 through SF, before crossing the bay around the bay bridge). I was cool to have a low altitude view of all those landmarks.
The few seconds were the engine sputured because Javier, the pilot, was running his right fuel tank empty before switching to the left, was interesting :)
The departure was unfortunately way behind schedule: Javier was supposed to call me around 11:00 or so, on his refueling stop, and by 14:30, I still hadn't heard anything. I was afraid that he wasn't able to make the flight, or forgot/broke his cell phone, or something like that. I was starting to be afraid that we wouldn't meet, and he wouldn't be able to warn me (contact time was way overdue). Then, right when I had made alternate plans (drive to SJC, take Southwest to Reno, and hitchhike), I called him a few more times, and got through once, where only he could talk to me, and I couldn't respond (quite interesting for a cell phone, since usually it's the other way around). This was really the 11th hour as it was 14:55, we were in the car leaving for SJC, and trying to catch the last plane that would work for us (16:05).
He managed to talk long enough to say "meet you at palo alto 16:15", and he was indeed there, smack at that time. After a quick partial refuel, we headed out around 16:45, which hopefully will be in time for landing at BRC before dusk (considering it's not a real airport, and the runway sure isn't meant for night landings :)
The good news is that we're now a hell of a lot further after 1H, than we would have been by car (even with me driving :)
We landed soon after in a skypark apparently (runway smack in front of a bunch of houses, some of which have planes that taxi all the way there, cool...). It was more than time for a refueling (we were indeed running on fumes), and leave quickly to hopefully make it to burning man before dusk (that sure is a lot of excitement for a day :)
I would have sent this from that airport, but my phone only picked up a TDMA signal (which makes me happy for not having a GSM only phone, but unfortunately, internet connectivity is over GSM only, so no internet. Yes, life is tough, I know :)
Oh, now is when things are getting interesting. It's 19:08, sun hasn't set yet, but it's already much darker due to the sun setting behind the mountains, and somewhat bad weather ahead (not thunderstorms though). The plane is being thrown left and right due to turbulence, and this is really going to be an 11th hour landing (i.e. vs daylight), more excitement for today :)
19:32: the sun has set behind the mountains, and about 15 more miles to go. Mmmh, this is going to be real close....
19:53: smooth landing (well, no fun, you knew that since you're reading this page :). Seeing the ground was still mostly ok, the biggest challenge was being able to spot the runway from a distance on approach, and line up with it before reaching it. I think about 5 more minutes, and we'd have been completely screwed :)

The evening after that went ok. About an hour later (making it through the gate, walking to where my camp was supposed to be and finding it, I stumbled on Amy and Hans, my buddies (and feeling thankful that I did considering that even with a Playa address, it still felt like looking for a needle in a haystack (they were about to leave too, so the timing was good)). Another good surprise was that my tent was already setup for someone else who had needed it a few days, so I was unpacked, setup and out 30mn later.
I spent the next 4H, until a bit past 02:00, to check out all the main camps on esplanade, and play the "oh, look, shiny light over there" game (go between 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock, look for lights in no man's land, beyond the temple of stars, ride your bike to it, trying not to get sucked in the patches of accumulated dust/sand, and go enjoy the random art (from pretty to very technical, to both)
After going around the different "night clubs for the night", it was just damn cold and windy (coldest night this week), so I eventually called it a night and went to bed (thank god for ear plugs :)
Oh, yeah, in case you were wondering, this is being sent over a wireless 802.11b connection, relayed by a satellite uplink to the internet, all running on generators in the middle of the desert. Technology still impresses me sometimes ;) (ok, maybe it is a tad (ok, very) flaky sometimes, but let's not be too picky :)
2004/09/03 Burning Man Day 2: cruising 6 o'clock to 10 o'clock
π 2004-09-03 20:02 by Merlin in Bm

(pictures will come later, I'm taking way too many and don't have the time to sort them and post them as I go. Besides, with the spotty internet connectivity, it would be a challenge to upload anything significant anyway.
Oh, you can already find pictures from 2002 and 2003 by clicking on the relevant links on
this page )

So, for those not familiar with BM, it basically looks like concentric rings, where the upper piece is missing (from 300 degrees to 60 degrees, or 10 o'clock to 2 o'clock).
This year, god forbid, I've tried to be a little less gung-ho about visiting every street, looking at every camp, seeing every attraction (which is entirely impossible since both are a moving target, but never mind that). When on top of that, you add seeing as many art cars, modified bicycles as physically possible. It makes the "job" pretty hard.
I still biked most of the streets, except the two outmost rings, which are the longest to bike, while containing the least amount of interesting stuff to see.

First impressions:
  • I'm disappointed by the platform the man is standing on (or lack thereof to be precise). It looks like a geodesic dome (made out of empty triangles, like the mad max thunderdome), which might be nice, but does not allow climbing up it, and getting great pictures from the man, looking at everything else around me, like I did the last two years.
  • My second disappointment was they didn't even have the 4 lasers at 0, 90, 180, and 270 degrees pointing towards the man. Those looked great at night, and they are sorely missed. See these pictures for an example.
  • It's also missing the 4 pyramids the the lasers used to come from. Two years ago, those would be there, and have a beacon light that would pulsate and show you whether it was 90, 180, 270, or 0 degrees. It might not sound like much, but it was very convenient for finding your way back, especially after landmarks like the man and the temple of the year had burnt
  • I just didn't really like last year's temple of honor, and I much prefer this year's temple of stars, made out of cut out pieces of wood, like the Temple of Joy from 2002. Not only does it burn better, but I really like the way it looks
  • I'm under the impression that there are fewer people who built camps, but that may just be me. Anyway, while some of the ones I liked are gone now, they've been replaced by some other ones of course

The highlight of the day was of course critical tits :) but I also had a good time finding a few camps playing nice trance in the middle of the afternoon, and dancing there.
After heading back to my camp for dinner, and chatting with my camp-mates, I headed out the two extremes, where the big sound installations are located: 2 o'clock and 10 o'clock. Some lamer spread out the word that Paul Oakenfold was going to spin that night, without saying where, so I asked around a lot, but didn't get anywhere. We're pretty much all convinced now that this was a lame prank, but oh well. While going around, I didn't really find any music that was truly to my taste, but I got a good tour of all the night clubs. I was completely pooped around 04:00, so I went to bed without making it to the sunrise (but with the sunset pictures I got, I guess it doesn't matter that much. It's the same thing reversed, right? :)

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