Last weekend was the annual Battle for Bolts at the Planet Granite Belmont location. It’s a 12 hour overnight climbing competition. I was unable to attend the Belmont one last year, but I did do the Portland one. This was my first Belmont B4B, and I entered it with great anticipation.
12 hours of climbing
You get bonuses for climbing at least 1 climb every hour
Climbs are rated by level.
You must climb the whole route form bottom to top without breaks for the points.
You may only do a roped route 10 times throughout the night.
You can do bouldering problems 20 times.
You can only do each climb at most 2 times in a row to allow for more people to get the wall.
About my experience this year
This year I was part of team D-AR-E To Be Great! with Linda. Our set goal at the beginning was still to be there at the end. Basically, not get Evan to kick us out of the space. For those of you who don’t know, Evan is the gym manager at Belmont and my cohost on my podcast South Beta Podcast and as manager of the gym there was some serious concern if we would survive the full night together.
Last year I had spent the day before the event driving up to Portland. This year, I spent the night before at a corporate party, and the day before watching a roommate compete in a ballroom dance competition. The point is, I don’t have a good track record of starting these events well rested.
I was not rested for this event and it showed. I was able to climb the first couple of hours, but did much of the time talking to try and pace myself and annoy Evan and his staff. I have taken some real time off from climbing in the past couple of months to focus on family, rest, recovery and travel. This meant that my hands were not ready for 12 hours of climbing and within about 2 hours of climbing I was really feeling it. By the morning, I was down to doing about 1 climb an hour to try and preserve my hands and make it through the night.
Last year, there were 14 people in Portland at B4B. This year there were nearly 60 people at the Belmont gym. This was awesome, but because of the bigger crowd I didn’t feel as connected to the group. Last year, at Portland, the entertainment throughout the night was less involved in actual climbing. We had a milk crate stacking event, a dance off, and a donut eating without hands competition. This year we had a table climbing competition an obstacle course traverse. Both of these were very tied to the climbing and thus for those of us who are not high level climbers it was harder to be competitive in the events.
Other than that, I only have one other gripe. There was supposed to be headlamp climbing, but because people forgot to bring their headlamps it was cancelled. As someone who went out the day before to buy a headlamp so I would be prepared, this was a little frustrating.
At the end of the competition, while they are finishing up scores, they do a bunch of raffles. Many prizes are given away. This year I won a carabiner, which was a consolation prize, but I was stoked. This is a prize I will actually use and thing that I actually wanted.
Conclusion and Lessons
This year was a ton of fun! I’m very glad I spent the majority of my weekend on this event. Yes, the day after is spent sleeping and recovering so it really is most of the weekend. The Belmont staff was great, and put up with my shenanigans and didn’t kick me out, and I’m grateful for this.
For next year I want to focus on the following:
Make sure I get as much sleep as humanly possible the night before.
Relax and meditate before getting to the event, it is hard do it there, there is a lot of noise and not much quiet.
Condition my hands before the event. Trying to climb 12 hours without really attempting to climb for more than a couple of hours in the weeks leading up to it is a bad idea.
Pro tip: (learned from Linda) bring a clipboard for your score sheets. Bring healthier snacks. They provide some really good snacks, but not as much healthy options.
Pro tip: (learned from Linda) Bring a Jumar for belaying. It helps take stress off the hands.
Bring warm socks to wear between climbs. It really helps to keep your feet healthy.
Our team finished with 2930 points, in the Advanced division. Linda did the lion share of the point scoring, scoring more than 3 times as much as I did. Still, she only did about 20 more climbs than me. Still, very proud of our work and can’t wait until next year and this super special competition.
This is from a very old project notebook. Two project notebooks ago, actually (for scale, I finish one of these every couple of years). I’m often reticent about sharing my thoughts. I don’t think they are important. Who cares what I’m thinking? I barely care what I’m thinking. I write it down and take notes so I can look back at it, but I almost never do.
What this note says is that it is not for us to determine what is really the story. We share what is going on and slowly a story evolves. The story can’t show up without the seed content. Maybe our lives are interesting? Maybe we have more to share of interest than we know.
I’m not a video guy. I don’t shoot much video. Yes, I see the world going in that direction and I believe that someday I will shoot and edit video, but today I don’t. Today, I have my words and my camera. I will use them to share where I am.
Here’s what’s on the docket for today:
Tomorrow is my bosses birthday. He is a great man, very hard to read, and very reserved. I’ve known him for about 3 years at this point and in that time frame he has started drinking coffee and beer as well as buying a bike and trying a bunch of new sports. For his birthday, I’ve decided to get him a boot she full of Sol, his favorite beer.
Acro On Friday
I haven’t been to Friday Acro in forever. I’m hoping to make it today. My body has started to get overly tight. I need to work on getting it lose again. Hoping to work on flexibility and strength and stability in the acro, even if it is beginner.
Hack Day Planning
We are doing a hack day next week at the office and I’m responsible for planning it. I’m close to having everything figured out but I need to get decorations and trophies tied up. I’m sort of thinking about printing out some desk signs to get people knowing about what is upcoming. I’m still thinking about my hack day project.
There are so many photo projects on my plate that I feel more than a little overwhelmed. I haven’t touched my family pictures form Thanksgiving. I have a bunch of acro pictures from the summer to process. I have instagrams to get together. I have some unsplash photos I want to put together.
There is another blog post coming, on Battle For The Bolts, be ready!
This weekend is a catch up weekend. Hoping to chill out a bit and catch up on all the pieces that are top of mind.
The world is full of exceptional people. These people do things in a way the rest of us think are a little crazy. Some of them are crazy in business, like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Some are crazy in science like Einstien or Feynman. Some are crazy athletes like Sean White or Tony Hawk. Alex Honnold is one of those “crazy” people, and he is crazy about his Free Solo climbing.
I climb, but I wouldn’t call myself a climber. Still, I know enough to appreciate what Honnold did here as incredible. I don’t however think of Honnold as insane. He’s accomplishments are audacious, and unbelievable, and in my mind crazy awesome, but he himself does not appear overly crazy to me. In his ted talk he explains how he got the point where he was comfortable attempting the El Cap climb.
Along with epic photography, this movie tells the story of Honnold and how he got the point he was at when he decided to climb Freeride Free Solo. His family dynamic, his relationships, his training and his life. Alex has a very quirky sense of humor, which I find very funny.
This movie is inspirational and well done. Seeing someone go for their exceptional goal has inspired me to rededicate myself to my personal goals. No, I don’t have a crazy free solo goal, and I do have some climbing goals, more of my goals are associated with acro, photography, and sharing more insights here.
While quite awesome, the movie left me with one question: it mentions Freerider as the obvious choice for Honnold’s Free Solo route. I’m naive and just don’t know why it’s the obvious route. Is it because of the name? Is it because it is the easiest route up El Cap? As someone with just enough climbing knowledge, I wish the movie had answered that question.
I wish Honnold the best, and personally hope he sticks to more roped climbs in the future, but I also hope he follows his heart. Can’t wait to see what Jimmy Chin and company shoot next!
Today is hack day at work. In honor of that I’ve started listening to a shared playlist on Apple Music containing the original soundtrack from the 1995 film Hackers. This movie changed my life. I remember when I first saw it. I was in my best friend’s house, I was 11 or so. We were in an upstairs room because that was where the TV was. I don’t think I got to see the whole thing, but the little I did see captured me.
My best friend was a super athlete and I was super not.
Hackers was a movie about a bunch of intellectual kids using their intellect for good. This made me believe there was more to this world than just being a good athlete. It made me believe that we all provide value. That I could provide value with my mind.
I don’t know if I would have ended up in this career path in other ways, but Hackers was definitely a motivating factor for choosing engineering in college.
The movie keeps up. I usually watch it at least once a year (which means I’ve probably seen it more than 20 times) and I always enjoy. What I had forgotten about was the soundtrack. Today I put it on while I was coding and it was really great. I forgot about Prodigy and some of the other bands on the album.
If you remember the movie, maybe you should consider picking up the album and re-listening as well!
Several years ago I was on a photography expedition with my best friend Aaron and his photography partner, Willie, shooting waterfalls up in the Columbia River Gorge area when I realized that I was wearing head to toe Patagonia. My interest in Patagonia up to that point was mostly about the quality of the product and guarantee.
When we got talking about my Aaron said “You really are a Patagonia Fan Boy. You should buy the domain”. We brainstormed about what the domain would have and somehow we landed on the idea of visiting all the Patagonia stores. We started small, aiming for all the stores in the US.
Fast forward to now. I’ve visited 28 stores, there are 32 total. Each time I stop in and collect a sticker and talk to the staff and see what is different about each store. Patagonia is unique in the fact that they really try to work with existing buildings and work within the space instead of completely redefining the space to their brand. This means that each Patagonia store is unique and different. Visiting them all actually has some value.
I have four more. Two of them on are on Oahu and the last two are in Ventura. The plan has been to visit the stores in Ventura last. One of the stores in Ventura is the original first store of the company.
The whole problem came when I realized that I was going to be in Southern California for about 2.5 weeks in September but didn’t really have time get to Hawaii. At one point I was planning to fly out for a weekend for a super short trip to visit the two stores in Hawaii. I started talking to friends about this aggressive plan and many of them met me with skepticism. Everyone felt it was a really quick and somewhat pointless to go to Hawaii for such a short period of time. The thing was, when I stopped to think about it, I agreed with them.
The other stores I was able to visit by either traveling with friends or stopping by as I drove across the country. They were, essentially, not too far out of the way.
The other part is that visiting Oahu is on my list. I want to visit the Island, I want to surf or sail there. I want to experience that culture and while I could travel there just to see the stores.
This lead me to me to re-evalute the goal. Did I want to postpone my visit to the Ventura stores until after I made it to Hawaii? That didn’t feel right. Did I want to post-pone my visit to Hawaii and just finish the contiguous 48 stores? This really felt right for several reasons. Aside from the fact that is is a more attainable, this is still store 29 and 30. I’m going to make the Tin Shed my 30th store. There is enough significance there for me.
The point of this is not just to talk about my goal. Yes, I’m proud of this, but it is for me. It is something interesting to talk about, but that isn’t why I’m doing it. The goal is mine, and I have the ability to change it whenever I want.
More than all of this, sometimes we get it stuck in our head to complete audacious goals. I hope I learn something here: it’s okay to redefine your goals.
When I take my photo in front of the Tin Shed, I’ll be proud.
I’ve spent the summer pretty close to my family. This is pretty unusual for me because most of the time I’m 3000 miles away from my family on the other coast for work. One of the benefits of hanging with my family is sometimes my father talks me into going to Synagogue with him. It’s the oldest synagogue building in the use, Torro, and the entire service is in Hebrew. I don’t speak Hebrew and what little I learned as a kid has left me. So I read the English translations in the book and think about what they are talking about.
Somehow this past weekend, I got to thinking about the community in and all the intricacies of that group in the building with me. I started to think about my family and somehow to got to thinking about how which of my grandparents would be living in year (A.C.E., but going back to year zero of the Hebrew religion). Going through my current family, We’ve had four generations between 1900 to 2000. If we assume this math going backwards with generations, we have 20 *100 years = 2000 years. If we have 4 generations per 100 years, that means we have 20 * 4 = 80 generations since year zero.
The next step to this fun math is to realize that each generation adds another layer of parents.
Notice the trend? Powers of 2. As a software engineer, powers of two are my specialty. If you keep going back to 2 to the power of 80 you end up with a gigantic number: 1.2089 * 10^24. I feel like my math must be wrong, but if I’m doing this right, I’m related to more than the current population of the planet over the past 2000 years.
Have you ever had the thought: “part of me feels …” ?
Turns out there is whole part of modern psychology focused on understanding humans a collection of parts. It’s called IFS, short for Internal Family Systems, and was first described by Richard Schwartz in the early 1990s. The general idea being that our internal mind can be represented a bunch of different personalities inside our head, each trying to protect or do some job for us as humans. At the core, there is a concept of Self, or the governing body of your person. When one is in control of the self one can understand what each of the parts wants and make informed decisions about actions.
There is much more to IFS, including the formation of parts from traumatic events, but I’m not a psychologist, and I’m not trained in any way with IFS except to view myself as a combination of parts. There are categories of parts that are designed for different purposes.
I was first introduced to this concept of IFS while reading “The Body Keeps The Score” by Bessle Van Der Kolk. I’ve been practicing talking to my parts for over a year now, and while they are still often not in balance, I definitely am more aware of their existence in my daily interactions. This has helped me calm down or see why I’m getting too involved in a small piece of nuance.
The reason I’m writing about this is because I’ve had several conversations this week that really bring this to the front of my brain. I’ve talked to some people about defining my personal values and the conversation was so akin to IFS, I couldn’t ignore it. I had a conversation with a dear friends sister who is a psychologist who has attended an Van Der Kolk conference. I’ve also been keenly aware of my own parts playing out in my daily activities.
Self deprecating humor is a double edged sword. On one side, being able to laugh at yourself is somewhat healthy. We are comical animals who make all sorts of weird sounds and have crazy individual tendencies, if you think you don’t, you are either lying to yourself or crazy (see Merlin Mann’s tweet on priorities)
On the other hand, we sometimes use this humor to cover up areas of insecurity. Using self deprecating humor this way can re-enforce the belief that we are broken or defective. This isn’t healthy.
I’m really fond of saying “I’m deceptively fast for how fat I am” in acro. While this isn’t a lie, it’s not a nice thing to say about myself. Firstly, I’m not overly fit, but I definitely feel fatter than other people perceive me. Secondly, people don’t need to know that I’m deceptively anything, they just need to know I have them while spotting. By continually saying I’m fat in this context I feel fatter. Not healthy!
I have a long history with self depreciating humor. My family is a teasing family, we tease each other. It’s a form of showing love, but it isn’t healthy for me. I got into the habit of hearing areas of my life where I was weird or not as good as the rest of the family. This lead me to believe that some of the teasing a jesting that I experienced was true.
I also had a rough bus in middle school where I was constantly made fun of (even to the point where I started riding my bike to school in fifth grade by myself). I got into the habit of starting conversations with the kids on the bus by insulting myself to get it out of the way. I had heard the teasing from my family and I felt like the kids on the bus lacked creativity. I used my intellectual strength to come up with witty insults for myself that the other kids hadn’t thought of.
This behavior has evolved over the years into the self deprecating humor I use continually in my life. Several of my friends have brought this up this week as I talked them about my life or about this article I was writing. All of them wanted me to stop being so self deprecating, some of them didn’t even want me to waste any time writing this post and thinking about this negative subject.
If you google the topic, you will find a mixed bag of results. A lot of the results are based off this one study that finds that have a sense of self deprecating humor is helpful for online dating, and being happy. After a bunch of reflection, I feel there is healthy self deprecation and unhealthy. Healthy: making fun of yourself in a way that pokes fun at the human experience in a healthy headspace where you aren’t looking for any reaction other than humor. Then there is unhealthy self deprecation: using yourself as an object of humor to reinforce your insecurities and hopefully have those around you be more aware of them.
I definitely do most of my self deprecation in the latter form. I’m looking for sympathy or emotional companionship and instead of asking for it. I make a joke hoping for someone to step in and defend the part of me that is wounded underneath.
In response to writing this I’m going to try do three things differently. One, I’m going to try to find humor outside of myself or other people. I don’t want to insult others, because I don’t like it when others insult me. I won’t be perfect but I will try. Two, when I do use this type of humor (which will hopefully be rare), I’m really going to do it from a genuine, detached space, and focus on the humor not the response I get from other people. Three, I’m going to continue to focus on the positive pathways in my brain (this one’s for you, GGU).
It’s taken me a fair amount of time to do this transition. I’ve been switching from LunarPages to DreamHost for a while now. LunarPages just stopped being up to date with all the technologies I needed in order to host all the projects I wanted, but I was (sort of still am) worried about moving from host to another. My primary email is associated with this domain (zacharyc.com). Also, I had a lot of secret hidden files and tools placed around the old website that I had been collecting pretty much since college (when I first started using lunar pages). Yes, that was over 13 years ago.
Lets define the type of technologist I am: I enjoy solving technical problems, but time is limited and there are too many problems for me to be an expert in all of them. I don’t want to be an email expert, but I do want email. I don’t want to be a server administrator but I do want my servers to be secure. So I pay other technologists to worry about those problems so I can worry about the ones I need to worry about. If I spent the time it would take to be an expert in those, I wouldn’t have the time to do all the other things that I want to do.
Looks like DreamHost is doing a pretty good job at meeting my needs. The move was stupid easy. When hosting a new domain on DreamHost, there is a checkbox for them to host Google Suite. All you have to do is check that box, and point the name servers to dream host and the magic works. I keep sending test emails to make sure they are still going through, but so far so good.
Also of note, I’m using a new theme here. I found it when I created a temp backup of my WordPress site on WordPress.com. The theme is called Independent Publisher 2. It’s not easily accessible from the themes download but it is public at GitHub: https://github.com/Automattic/themes/tree/master/independent-publisher-2 and it is working great on installation here. Had to do a couple of tweaks to get it where I wanted to be. I dropped the side bar on the main pages, and moved search to the footer. Other than that, pretty smooth.