Monday, October 26, 2009

Running: controlled falling

I recently got a pair of Vibram Five Fingers Sprints, shoes that are supposed to help me run faster and in a way that softens the impact on my knees. I got them mainly because they make my feet look like a gecko's:

Photo: Lewis & Clark College.

The New York Times discusses the value of barefoot running in this week's Sunday Magazine. The verdict is that any benefits are specious, which to me sounds like the same scientific reasoning that questions the value of things like losing weight through diet and exercise, breast feeding, and trees. I'll call it the science of inconvenience.

In fact, running (barefoot, since presumably shoes came after fire) probably developed out of our need (desire) to eat meat. Over time, instead of climbing up trees, Homo erectus acquired the endurance needed to outpace the scavengers, run down prey, and eventually keep up with the other big hunters (e.g. cheetahs: 65/mph). Like our ancient ancestors, I started on four legs but eventually learned to run on two towards tasty things.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Brand names

I'm not one to buy on the basis of brand names. Remember when Guess jeans were big? They were sixty bucks, even in kid's sizes, and so you saved up and finally got a pair and wore them on the first day of school only to learn that everyone else was wearing the same thing but had gotten them for half price at TJ Maxx. That's what buying for the brand is all about. It's just an expensive way to feel better about yourself, and it's always anticlimactic.

That said, there are a few brands I can't help but love.

Neal's Yard Dairy. The three types of cheddar I have tried so far are so good, I have eaten entire wedges of each in a sitting. And the Stilton makes me cry. Neal's Yard is sort of a "Best Of" cheese conglomerate--they buy the tastiest cheeses from small farms around the British Isles and sell them, thus keeping those dairies alive whilst delivering cheeses you might otherwise have to travel to find to your nearest Whole Foods. Do they give tours? Because I'm going to go there and write about it and give it the publicity it deserves.

Nau Clothing. Their stuff works like no other outdoor clothing and it's all recycled/recyclable. I put on a tank top and a thin windbreaker and headed out into the tundra that is Lake Tahoe and stayed toasty warm. I wore the same thing and climbed a mountain in what turned out to be 85 degree weather and didn't break a sweat. Nau clothing is made by magical fairies.

Talenti Gelato. The caramel cookie is the best store-bought frozen dessert I have ever had. I have some in my freezer right now, so I'm going to stop writing now and go stuff my face.