Monday, February 18, 2013

Laws of Simplicity

Last week I posted a video on Facebook of RISD President John Maeda speaking at a 'Stem to Steam' symposium. And while the idea's around 'Stem to Steam' are way cool I was reminded of how I discovered John Maeda in the first place and the impact of a book he wrote had on me.

It was a while ago now, I was working on a project before Andrew Mitchell & Co. and was Google searching for design concepts around human factors in color interpretation.  I was about to hire a designer to build a website but wanted to learn more about these things beforehand.

And this is when I discovered John Meada and his book The Laws of Simplicity, written while he was running the computer science dept. at MIT.  Two quotes popped up under a couple of my keyword search results that caught my attention straight away.  The quotes were these.

“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.” 
  “If you are going to have less things, they have to be great things.” 

This book has incredible insights around embedding simplicity into all areas of life, learning, working and living a whole life with wonderfully conceptualized and effective simplicity.  All of it is presented in such an orderly and simple way that it almost belies the challenges and complexities to overcome in order to have the simplicity of which he speaks.  

Not too long ago I was speaking with a local writer about his own work and he said something that I think closely relates to how tough it is to have a simplicity that works; a simplicity that improves your life, makes you more comfortable, effective and happier.  

As a writer this guy was of course talking about writing but his comment below reminded me of the core issue in achieving simplicity that improves your life.  It takes a great deal of thought and a lot of effort.
"I'm sorry I wrote such a long letter, 
I didn't have the time to write a short one"

Peace and roll strong.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

No Drama

I woke this morning a little sore and a tad tired.  Ive been doing a few things recommended by my sports therapist, Susan Feist, to aid my hip using a soft ball followed up with caster oil and a heating pad.  I think it's working but I was running late yesterday and didn't finish up until 12:15 am last night.

My hip stiffens up really quickly, so each morning is a process of gingerly movement and as I made my way into the kitchen for coffee I was gauging whether or not last nights treatment had any effect.  I have to say, I think it may be working, which is refreshing.  You know, when you're in physical pain it adds, magnifies any emotional stress, which I have had plenty of, especially if it's nagging chronic pain.
Reflecting w/ these guys recently / Biffy Clyro

But this morning was cool in that it was I'm not sweating a single fucking thing right now.  My perspective is in a totally manageable if not in a positive place again and its nice to have less physical pain be able it to enjoy it.  I have a few self imposed goals to slay but other than that there's no drama.

On a separate note, last week was cool with a lot going on.  Last Thursday I had a great evening at an art show opening at Albright Gallery ( in downtown Concord. The Pic's here below w/ my new friend, (who has become like a sister to me) Director/Owner, Bonnie Albright & Featured local artist John Lobosco.  His work is really interesting with emphasis around proportion, texture and color.  
Local Boston Artist John Lobosco with Bonnie Albright
Also with us were Pulitzer Prize-winning American biographer Doris Kearn Goodwin (recent adviser to Spielberg on the Lincoln movie) w/ Dick Goodwin (speech writer & adviser for JFK & LBJ).  I met Doris and Dick a couple of months ago at Serafina's here in town where they go regularly and I see them around frequently.  You've never met lovelier people than Doris and Dick.  Their kindness and perspective are trumped only by their humility.  After party was even better, no pics though, on purpose, but lets just say the Goodwin's have a pretty rad posse, as they should. 
Doris Kerns Goodwin & Dick Goodwin

The days around here are getting noticeably longer now and I'm looking forward to a bike riding in Santa Barbara, CA next month to train and race with my new team.  TIME-Velo Pasadena.

Peace and roll strong.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Damn! That's a cold ass honkie

Well the snow storm around here wasn't as bad as they were predicting but it was still pretty big.  I'm guessing we got 2 feet versus 3 feet of snow some of the forecasts were predicting.  But like I mentioned in my last post, preparing for this stuff is half the battle.  You have to make the best of it..make what you want of it, it's your choice; Make it a 3 day Stay-cation and have fun or make it a Siberian hell zone and freeze your ass off.  I have to say I made the best of it and had freaking great weekend.

I'll take those flannel zebra jammies, second-hand, I rock that motherf*kr
The built-in onesie with the socks on that motherf*kr

A few of my riding friends bolted outta the cold last week to train in Florida and Cal but I'm like.. (?).. not all 'that' concerned... because training indoors doesn't bother me at all... in fact, I've done it for forever and appreciate the fitness I can get indoors (for a short periods of time) in the winter.  I definitely get strong enough and it's not so disruptive to my job and my routines and such..

This weekend for instance, while I missed one key workout because a friend came over, I put in some really solid riding to where I feel dialed right in.  On Saturday I pushed what works out to be 395-400 watts x :20 min which puts me right where I need to be.  I didn't use a fan either which for me is way harder.  I use to be really good at regulating/managing rising body temp but these day I'm not as good.  My power tails off as my core thermal rises and I definitely start to overheat in the last 7-10 minutes.  A fan makes a huge difference for me, adding as much as 5-7% more power. 
Digging the car out yesterday.  It warmed up nicely to about 45.
Yesterday I got a call from a friend (Jerome Nadel) living in San Jose, CA.  Jerome recently moved there from Paris, France and is loving it.  The weather and the riding, he enjoys reminding me, are just killer awesome.   Knowing I was hunkered down in Boston he called from his car while driving to Napa for a race just to bust my balls and it was pretty funny.  He's like "hey man, are you racing today?"  I think the race he did was called the Cherry Pie Crit?  Not for nothing, but where else but Napa, CA would a bike race be named after a desert?  Perfect!

All kidding aside, Jerome finish 4th in the 45+ 1-2-3 which is damn good in the field of strong master guys racing there...especially because I know Jerome trains only about 1/4 of what most of the other guys do.  He travels for his job all the time and simply doesn't have the time.  He was on a plane to Nepal, India 5 hours after the race was over yesterday.  Pretty impressive dude.

Peace and roll strong.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

You bet your life.

The weather forecast this morning is calling for 3 feet of snow.  I think the guy said that in certain areas around here it'll be one of the largest storms of the last ten years.  Sweet!!  Just what a bike racer with a hip full of stainless steal screws wants to hear.  A cacophonic reminder that winter is far from over.  Dang, I was really hoping for clear roads this weekend for a couple Valhalla rides.

'this is not really happening. you bet your life it is...'

With all of this in mind I'm sitting here formulating a plan for the next 5 days, which if we're lucky is the least amount of time it'll be before we can ride outside again around here.  I'm not a native New England-er so news like this still feels like a stiff forearm to the back of my shoulder, as if to say 'Wake up dude your in Boston and it's with it'.

I guess it's times like this that remind me why god invented the great indoors. Which isn't the greatest thing in the world (indoors) but it's also far from the worst.  After 12 years up here I've learned how to deal with this stuff and the key to it is that you have to elevate and get grooved-in....somewhat surprisingly I've found that the best way to do this is to embrace 'comfort' and get yourself dialed into it.  Here's how you do it; 

First, you have to plan your trainer sessions in advance and make them great, which for me these days are short and sweet of about 1:30 hours.  Then go out and stock up on all your absolute' to die for' favorite foods.  Next thing is to line up all the movies you've been wanting to see and be sure to have a couple great books lying about too.  I also commit to get really productive (usually working from a cafe or home) catching up with work stuff, which is a big win.  After you have all this stuff lined up & in flow the last thing to do is call some friends and schedule a round up n yuck it up together...with all this you've got it and it ain't no big deal.  If you get lemons, make awesome lemonade.

Peace and roll strong.