1. Notes: 3 / 1 month ago  from designthenews

Newspaper extinction timelinehttp://futureexploration.net/future-of-media/ Future Exploration Network | Future of Media

USA - 2017
UAE - 2028
And people ask me why I moved halfway around the world to take this job…


    Newspaper extinction timeline
    Future Exploration Network | Future of Media

    USA - 2017

    UAE - 2028

    And people ask me why I moved halfway around the world to take this job…

  2. Notes: 3 / 3 months ago 

    Life update

    Several victories, both big and small, have happened this month.

    • New threads came back from my tailor - bough on sale, at that.
    • I was left in charge of my desk’s production while the usual guy was away for three weeks. I got to make the decisions for co-workers twice my age.
    • And I didn’t screw up once. In fact, that windmill page got a ton of compliments.
    • I ran across some breaking news after work, called it in, reported it, typed it up on my phone and got it in two minutes before deadline. It, and the regular reporter’s follow-up story, were the lead items for the paper’s website that night and the next day.
    • I got a progress update on a pair of made-to-order shoes from Meermin. So those will hopefully be coming along in a few weeks or so.


    • I’m three weeks into the Hundred Pushup Program, and it’s making more of a difference than I had expected. It’s simple, it doesn’t take a lot of time, and from my performance the other day it helps my swimming.
    • I got Lasik in April and the results are fully showing up now. My vision is almost perfect, and what little is lacking in the left can be adjusted in a few months’ time. I’d been wearing glasses and contacts since 4th grade, so it’s a wonderful change to wake up in the morning and be able to see my clock and my window.
    • I’d been keeping my eyes out for a deal like this for a while, and finally pounced on one: a Peugeot 307cc, rarely driven and meticulously taken care of (with the paperwork to prove it), priced for about 60% of what it was worth.


    • It’s my favorite color (and matches my eyes), it only has 55k miles, it drives like a dream, I paid cash for it…and the best part:


    • Owning a car means I can drive to almost all of my triathlon team’s workouts. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to swim with teammates instead of just uninterested lifeguards.
    • Remember my friend at work? The one whose relatives believe her love life is ruled by the stars? She had a rough few weeks and was looking like a zombie. I dug around for some information and found out from her best friend that she’s an absolute cookie fiend. So I baked these:


    • And you should have seen her face light up when I gave some to her. She went from overworked journo-drudge to six-year-old child in 0.8 seconds, and the smile she gave me still has me grinning like an idiot almost two weeks later.
    • It was something like this:

    • After more than a year of paperwork frustration and procrastination, I finally have a UAE credit card. Hello online ordering and air miles.
    • When I went to Dubai to test the car out, I traveled on the bus with a friend’s couchsurfer - a gorgeous German who had just spent a year working in Australia and thus had the most adorable accent. I think if I had spent more than a bus ride and lunch with her I’d have up and moved to Germany by now. Regardless, it was the perfect thing to get me over a breakup. (Never trust a Russian.)
    • I leave in less than 48 hours for a three-week vacation in Turkey. I’m staying with a friend from my college Arabic class for the first few days, and after that I’m free to do whatever I want. No plans, a freshly filled bank account and a single relationship status. Bring it on.
  3. Notes: 2 / 4 months ago 
    Time for a glimpse into my day job. This is one of the pages I designed for today’s issue of The National. Here was the conversation that went behind it:
"Hey Justin, do you need more stories for page 3?"
"Let me put this another way. Hey Justin, you’re not getting anything else for page 3."
Normally there are four to five stories on that page. I was left with a lot of white space to fill and didn’t have any photos or graphics assigned with the content.
This is what I came up with. It took a lot of help from the paper’s graphics department, but I really like the way this page turned out. I even tweaked some of the furniture’s translucency (in layman’s terms, made the top and bottom-right different colors) to match up with the turbine.
I like everything that happened with this page. I like dedicating the time and thought to make our reporter’s copy stand out. I like how it tells more of a story using scale and spacing than a picture of workers assembling a fan blade does. I like sketching out an idea and collaborating with people who have a lot more talent and experience than I do to make it come to life.
I guess I just really like my job right now.
(For those interested in the articles, you can read the main here and the Q&A here. For bonus kicks, check out the hilarious retail piece the reporter wrote while he was on the trip - to my college town, no less.)

    Time for a glimpse into my day job. This is one of the pages I designed for today’s issue of The National. Here was the conversation that went behind it:

    "Hey Justin, do you need more stories for page 3?"


    "Let me put this another way. Hey Justin, you’re not getting anything else for page 3."

    Normally there are four to five stories on that page. I was left with a lot of white space to fill and didn’t have any photos or graphics assigned with the content.

    This is what I came up with. It took a lot of help from the paper’s graphics department, but I really like the way this page turned out. I even tweaked some of the furniture’s translucency (in layman’s terms, made the top and bottom-right different colors) to match up with the turbine.

    I like everything that happened with this page. I like dedicating the time and thought to make our reporter’s copy stand out. I like how it tells more of a story using scale and spacing than a picture of workers assembling a fan blade does. I like sketching out an idea and collaborating with people who have a lot more talent and experience than I do to make it come to life.

    I guess I just really like my job right now.

    (For those interested in the articles, you can read the main here and the Q&A here. For bonus kicks, check out the hilarious retail piece the reporter wrote while he was on the trip - to my college town, no less.)

  4. Notes: 4 / 5 months ago  from chilloutro


    Koop- Let’s Elope

    I’ve had one remix by Koop bouncing around my iPod for five or six years now, but only last week did I bother to look them up.

    I’ve been listening to their albums on repeat since then, and I may or may not have gotten weird looks for waltzing around the produce section (in 5/4) while doing so.

  5. Notes: 7 / 6 months ago 

    I was talking to my Indian friend at work today. She’s 26, gorgeous and single, so of course she has relatives who pester her parents about marriage. 

    Apparently she has one uncle who calls constantly with new information on suitors. But here’s the fun part: he believes strongly in horoscope matching. Every time he finds someone new he’ll ask for her horoscope, then compare it with that of her potential soul mate. If it’s a match, the pressure’s on. If not, marrying her could potentially kill him.

    The trick is that she can choose which vaguely-written horoscope to send him, so she’s in control of her destiny in the best way possible

  6. Notes: 2 / 6 months ago 

    In case you wondered what it’s like living in the UAE’s big cities. These are shots from Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

    Hat tip to Frank Morgan.

  7. Notes: 4 / 8 months ago 

    Just bragging a little

    Everyone’s complaining about how they didn’t have anyone for Valentine’s Day, and I’m just sitting here basking in the memory of it:

    I woke up next to the beautiful Russian who had been staying with me for almost a week (and who will be moving to the city soon to take a job here), walked through a park with her to a car rental company, and then drove us to Tim Horton’s for breakfast.

    We then took off down the highway (only getting lost for a little while) to Al Ain, an oasis town about two hours away, and spent the day running around the zoo. I bonded with an emu, she hid behind me from a wrathful camel and we established that goats are the frat boys of the animal kingdom. We spent more time with our shoes off than on.

    After dinner, ice cream and watching peasants ice skate at the mall, we headed up a mountain to watch the sunset, and then found a deserted lookout at the top to watch the city lights spread out below us and hold each other tight.

    We hurried home, and while she packed for her flight in morning I lit the candles that had been hanging idle on my wall for a year. I sang softly in her ear as she drifted off to sleep.

    And now she’s back at her home, awaiting the paperwork that will give her an office in the skies, and I’m sitting here looking at the dress she left hanging on my wall and wondering what I did to deserve her.

  8. Notes: 2 / 9 months ago 

    Crazy random happenstance of the day

    Well, night.

    I was walking back from the bus stop, backpack full of of groceries and headphones full of Pentatonix. But when I was standing at a stoplight a pause came between songs and I overheard two people speaking Spanish next to me. That’s odd, because Spanish speakers are few and far between in Abu Dhabi

    So I take my headphones out, and they sound like they’re tourists. They switch over to American-accented English and start talking about how to find the mall I was just at, one of the city’s landmarks, and confirm my suspicions when they decide it was on the other side of the island. I realize they were part of a group of seven or eight and strike up a conversation with one of them - where are you from, what brings you to the city, etc.

    I’m so glad I did.

    It turns out they were grad students in town for a two-week residence as part of their program, and they were based in the same building my apartment’s in. The degree is for working professionals based around the world, my new friend tells me, and involves a residency in an international city like this and two at the base university. It’s called The Global Master of Arts program at the Fletcher School of Tufts University in Boston.

    The Fletcher school. My dream grad school. The one the head of my diplomacy certificate program at UCF graduated from. The one I plan on applying to once I got enough work experience and stamps in my passport. And some of the program’s movers and shakers are staying in the same building I live in.

    If this isn’t a kick in the pants from the universe, I’m not sure what is. Can you guess who’s networking like a mofo at breakfast sometime in the next few days?

  9. Notes: 1 / 9 months ago 
    Let’s see how many resolutions I can bust.

    Let’s see how many resolutions I can bust.

  10. Notes: 5 / 11 months ago 

    Thoughts from a racecation in Taiwan


    • This was the first adult vacation I’d ever taken on my own, and the first one in probably more than a decade that wasn’t just a trip to visit relatives.
    • Getting ready for a vacation on your own is both easy and nervewracking. You don’t have to worry about keeping anyone else happy on the trip and can be as flexible as you need to, but there’s nobody to make sure you remember everything.
    • CheapOAir and its affiliates are not to be trusted. They didn’t take my money, but they did refuse to book my tickets after waiting about a day.
    • Orbitz, Trip Advisor and Agoda, however, were all very helpful.
    • Not having a credit card I can use to pay for things online with is the most frustrating thing in the world. I ended up having to buy two prepaid Visa cards that can only be used for online shopping, and buying a pair of one-way tickets. This was surprisingly cheaper than the same route as a round trip, but much more time-consuming and confusing.
    • I’ve learned my lesson, though. My next trip will be booked using Matrix and a real-life travel agent. Bonus: no currency conversion fees.
    • True panic is realizing your bike won’t fit into your case with about 36 hours to go until your flight leaves. Of all the bolts to be stripped, it had to be the seat tube…
    • Thank heaven for generous teammates, though. I borrowed a soft case from a taller friend, and it was able to accommodate the bike’s extra height just fine. I’m now sold on the thing and plan on picking up one wherever I can easily find it.
    • Despite how sketchy I thought I looked taking a taxi to a poorly-lit, abandoned parking lot at midnight to pick up an oversized black suitcase, the taxi driver still enjoyed telling me about his travels. The highlight of them included being tricked into working as a security guard at a honey farm in Saudi Arabia for two years. He had to steal his passport back and run away to get out of the situation.
    • I didn’t pull an all-nighter, but I did sleep for exactly one hour the night before my flight left. Hooray for packing.
    • Mercifully, I didn’t forget any triathlon equipment. Well, I had to buy a new pair of goggles, but I still remembered them.
    • Mercilessly, though, I left my camera battery on my table. The only pictures I have from the trip were taken by others.
    • When I arrived at the airport the Universe must have decided I didn’t have enough Venezuelans in my life, because my friend Mary Ann happened to be on the same flight as me. We spent a good while talking in both the Abu Dhabi and Qatar airports.
    • Qatar has to be one of the most frustrating airports in the world. Boarding is accomplished by shuttles instead of ramps, which wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t take half an hour to drive out to the plane. I’ve had more comfortable bus rides at rush hour during Ramadan.
    • My sufferings were rewarded, however, when I found my seat. The middle row of the plane was four seats wide, and the only other person in my row was an intelligent, charming and downright beautiful Frenchwoman. She claimed to be almost 30, but I promise you she looked younger than me.
    • Said Frenchwoman, it turns out, is running her own import/export business while she splits her time between Thailand, Malaysia, France and Hong Kong. She was heading to HK for two days to set up a business license, after while she would be in Bangkok for about a month.
    • We spent a good while talking about the expat life, our families, different cultures, future plans etc. We have a lot in common: both of us are single, with all of our relatives living in our home countries, which we have no plans on going back to anytime soon. We both have solid plans for the next few years, but after that it’s all up in the air. We have common tastes in music, books, and…you get the picture. I fell a bit more in love with this woman every time she laughed, which was often, softly and so close I could feel her breath on my cheek.
    • We made plans to meet up during my layover in Bangkok. She was to email me sometime over the following week, and we were to stay in contact afterward. I hugged her goodbye at the airport, and I never heard from her again. C’est la vie.
    • Giving a box of chocolates to the cabin crew on your plane won’t get you an upgrade to business class, but it will earn you a smile every time a flight attendant walks by. And that’s almost as good.
    • Hong Kong’s airport is fantastic, and I really wish I could have explored the city. Maybe it’s just that Chunking Express made a good impression on me when I studied it in a world cinema class, but it seems to be a fascinating place. But spending three hours in its duty-free zone wasn’t too bad.
    • Some of the 20 Hong Kong dollar bills have lion-turtles on them. I may have kept one because it’s awesome.
    • Using sweetened condensed milk as an icing and dates as a flavoring for red tea are both strange concepts for me, but they tasted fantastic as a layover meal.
    • Both times I flew on China Airways flights I was seated to grandmothers who spoke no English but seemed to know everyone on the plane.
    • The public transportation network in Taipei kicks the crap out of every other city I’ve ever been to.
    • Which is a good thing, because the streets in Taipei are the scariest of any city I’ve ever been to. I thought Dubai was bad, but at least it has wide roads and lacks scooters.
    • The scooters. Oh God, the scooters. I never thought so many could exist in one place. There must have been three of them for every car on the road, and twenty parked on the sidewalk for every one on the road.
    • You know what else is surprisingly abundant? Facemasks. It’s not a sign of being a huge health hazard in the country; it’s just something people wear when they’re sick.
    • The decision to use Couchsurfing.com for the first part of my trip, three days in Taipei, was absolutely the correct one. Not only did I get to stay for free, but I had a fantastic host who showed me how the locals lived.
    • Good planning is having your host write out directions in Chinese for a taxi driver who can’t speak English. Sheer dumb luck is having her look outside for you just as you’re walking up to what you hope is her apartment about 45 minutes after you had planned to be there.
    • The streets of Taipei look just like they do in the movies - crowded, full of garish signage, people hustling everywhere, scooters zipping past them willy-nilly. It’s a refreshing break from the restrained facades of Abu Dhabi’s buildings and streets.
    • Rubber ducks. Rubber ducks everywhere.
    • There are so many open-air shops and restaurants. It’s quite shocking when you’re used to everything being sealed off in air conditioning.
    • My host’s walk-up apartment was merely a hallway with a series of bedrooms, with a laundry machine at one end. It definitely made me appreciate every place I’ve lived since my parents’ house.
    • Shower curtains are apparently a foreign concept in Taiwan. The bathroom’s just a wetroom with a drain under the shower head. Which is sort of like in the UAE, except the floor there actually slopes toward the drain so the bathroom doesn’t become a lagoon. What a wonderful concept.
    • There was a reason it didn’t have a kitchen - it didn’t need one. The apartment was a few minutes from Taiwan’s best feature: a night market. God, do we need those in the UAE.
    • The night market is a street closed to vehicular traffic, in which vendors open stalls with a smorgasbord of cheap food, drinks, clothes, gifts, electronics and anything else you could think of. You can walk, get something to munch on, walk some more, munch some more, and repeat.
    • My favorite sight in the night market was the groups of teenagers running around in costumes. Halloween isn’t a holiday in Taiwan, but apparently it’s still celebrated.
    • There’s a long list of exotic foods I tried on my Facebook if you want to look it up. I liked some of them, loved others and didn’t care for a few. But what was consistently good for the whole trip was the tea. It’s been almost a year since I lived somewhere where sweet tea was sold regularly, and here there were places selling dozens of flavors of it on every block. I probably drank more tea during that one week than I did the whole rest of the year.
    • If you want to blow a Taiwanese person’s mind as a foreigner, all you have to do is use chopsticks correctly. Every single person I dined with in the country was shocked that I knew how to use them.
    • image
    • There are times when you see a menu item called “Job tear milk tea.” You can either order some or spend the rest of your life wondering what it was.
    • It’s diluted, soggy oatmeal. Win some, lose some.
    • I’d forgotten who much better bacon tastes when you’re not paying through the nose for it.
    • Most people in Taipei don’t speak too much English, if at all, and very few restaurants have menus in English. If you find yourself in a situation without a translator, “I’ll have what he’s having” is the easiest thing to communicate, and has yet to let me down.
    • Thankfully, I only encountered that situation once, late at night after checking into my hotel in Kenting, the city my race was being held at. For the rest of the trip I was in the company of at least one person who could translate for me.
    • I didn’t plan it this was, but over the course of week I got to run around three cities in Taiwan with nine different adorable women, all between the ages of 19 and 22. There haven’t been many times in the past month when I was grateful that my ex-girlfriend dumped me, but oh man was this week one of them.
    • Some pictures for you:


      I unfortunately don’t have any pictures of the host I stayed with. The four girls at the top came from Couchsurfing and spent a day with me in Taipei. The two girls in blue for the third photo were volunteers I got to talking to at the race expo, and the third helped wrap my knee up when I finished. They came up to me later and asked to take a picture with me, and we eventually arranged to meet for lunch before I flew out from the airport in their hometown.

    • I have a friend from college who is an unabashed sinophile, especially when it comes to his romantic life. I told him this week that I now completely understand him: every single woman in this country is gorgeous, and even the 40-year-olds look like they’re 25.
    • There was actually one guy I was supposed to spend time with, but my host woke me up too late that day and things didn’t work out.
    • This trip also reminded me what it’s like to see knees and shoulders uncovered on the street. It’s crazy what you get used to while living in a Muslim country.
    • The people here are so polite, too. People form queues for the metro, everyone standing on an escalator moves to the right side to let walkers through, everyone smiles at each other…it’s almost like being in the southern U.S. again, except people aren’t fat.
    • It was also nice to spend time with people in the same stage of life as I am. I love my co-workers and Meetup group friends in Abu Dhabi, but they’ve made me forget what it’s like to be around others who are still discovering themselves and making mistakes.
    • This trip also taught me that I can function perfectly well without a cell phone, and with minimal use of Facebook communication. I bought international minutes for my dumbphone, but for some reason they didn’t work in Taiwan, so I was stuck with coordinating things through Facebook. And it worked almost flawlessly.
    • That said, I also realized I need to get a smartphone. Things like navigation and translation would have been so much easier if I had one with me, not to mention the camera issues.
    • Rain in the city makes me happy.
    • Slurpees in the city make me even happier.
    • 7/11 actually dominates Taian, where there are more of the stores per capita than anywhere else in the world. It’s a full-service convenience store: you can do your laundry, browse the internet while sitting in its cafe section and even pay for goods you order online (since few Taiwanese have credit cards). Plus, you know, Slurpees.
    • I have tried the Ritter Sport chocolate my German friends rave about, and I have seen the light. Or, rather, the extra-dark. And the almonds. And the raspberry.
    • Also available there: crispy mint-chocolate M&Ms. Why don’t those exist in the US or the UAE?
    • The Taiwanese have a more casual relationship with religion than we monotheists do. My host and I walked through a temple while people were gathered singing a hymn, and it was a mystifying experience. People would step around tourists posing for photos to leave offerings and say prayers to different gods on their lunch break.

    • image
    • We also went to see the sulfur hot springs in the northern part of the city, but they were closed when we got there. An old lady saw us standing there looking disappointed, though, and decided it was her new mission in life to teach us about the history of the springs and the town surrounding them. She marched us for about half a mile up the hill to the source, where you could see the steam rising from the water, all the while lecturing in Mandarin. I didn’t get a single word of what she said, but it was wonderful to see her so excited about the place where she lived.
    • image

    • We also went to see the Lin Family Mansion, a historic site that was the favorite place of one of my hosts (the taller one). Apparently it was the home to one of the richest noble families in the country two centuries ago, and it’s been preserved to show how life was before the city industrialized around it. It’s bordered by a main road and a sevenish-story apartment building, but it’s easy to get lost in the compound’s walls.
    • image
    • Apparently the Taiwanese of the late 18th Century were really, really small. There were places that just barely fit average-sized people:
    • image

    • And others that didn’t fit us at all:


    • That last one I had to sit in, as I would have hit my head when standing up. It was a special shaded area for the women to watch as the men talked business while walking up and down rocks. Because, you know, ladies don’t have the stones for hard-hitting negotiations.
    • My friends were surprised when I didn’t want to see Taipei 101. “But it’s one of the tallest buildings in the world!” “Well, I’ve seen taller…”
    • It was really nice of the race organizers to let you ship your bike case from the airport to the race resort, but they could have just told us bikes were allowed on the high-speed rail and saved us about two hours of confusion. But at least my butt looks good, right?
    • image
    • The night ended on a bench overlooking a lake, sharing a box of wontons and admiring the lights on the mountain. Taipei is a beautiful city.
    • The high-speed rail in Taiwan is fantastic. I spent the entire 90-minute trip listening to C2C and watching the mountains and grain fields whiz by. Most people’s vacation relaxation time involves laying by a pool or on a beach, but as someone who has both of those things at my home I found that train trip to be much more enjoyable.
    • No matter where you go in the world the chicken sandwich is universal. But apparently in Taiwan they use dark meat instead of white mean for their chicken patties. The Taiwanese have good taste.
    • Sometime during the bus ride from the rail station to the race site, Taiwan was hit by a magnitude-6.3 earthquake. I didn’t feel a thing.
    • After getting off the high-speed rail at Kaohsiung Airport (where I would eventually fly out from), I rode a bus down to the race town with a handful of other western expats working in China and Japan. Most of them are in this picture:


    • The Frenchman on the left made us all late for dinner at the expo because he was trying to get the number of the girl next to him. He eventually succeeded, but then she told him she had a boyfriend. Again, c’est la vie.
    • The race took place at the Yoho Bike Resort, a fancy hotel 20 minutes from the city of Kenting on the southwest edge of Taiwan that cost more than US$200 a night.
    • Hell with that. I stayed in a Spartan but well-reviewed hotel in the middle of the city and paid less than $120 for three nights combined. Plus, I had access to all the tea shops and street food I could find.
    • The woman at the front desk spoke very little English, so to communicate we resorted to typing back and forth into Google Translate on her computer. It worked surprisingly well.
    • There were six of us racers staying at the hotel, and we all coordinated trips with one taxi driver: Moo Soo Soo, or Uncle Moo. There was me, a trio of Filipino relay racers, a guy from Singapore and a Californian who makes his living scaring pigeons away from buildings.
    • The Singaporean spoke Mandarin and English fluently, thankfully, and was able to coordinate everything for us. He also saved my butt when I had lost an important allen key and needed to take my bike apart. God bless you, Jeremy.
    • On that note, sacrificing a Gillette razor cartridge to make a shim for an allen key will almost work, but not quite.
    • image
    • Jeremy is on the far right. Moo Soo Soo is next to him. I have no idea what the meaning of five was supposed to be. Neither did Moo Soo Soo.
    • All of the volunteers at the race were students at a language university, which was a masterstroke on the organizers’ part. The students get to practice their language skills with tourists from the world over, and the racers get people who speak their language. Plus, they were all really cute and bubbly. Even the male volunteers had a bounce in their step.
    • Upside of building your bike near the mechanic’s station at the race expo: you can borrow their tools and bike pump, and they can find extra screws for you.
    • Downside: you have to wear pants while doing so. Life is hard.
    • The buffet dinner at the race expo only had tiny little plates and cups available. This was almost a joke: if it’s your last meal before a half-iron triathlon, you’re going to eat like The Rock on his cheat day.
    • Highlight of that night: the last brownie had just been taken, and the overwhelmed catering crew was nowhere in sight to replace it from the stock of trays on a shelf behind it. I strode behind the table, grabbed the tray and brought it to the drooling masses. “Power to the people!”
    • For ten seconds, I was a legend.
    • What kind of resort has just one ATM that doesn’t accept cards from outside of Taiwan? This one, apparently.
    • On that note, currency conversion is the bane of my existence. No exchange counters would change dirhams to Taiwan dollars, so I had to eat the conversion rate and ATM fees from Mastercard. But where else was I going to buy a tri kit from the race and a new heart rate strap?
    • I accidentally wandered into the pros’ race briefing and decided to stay. It’s amazing how differently it was run compared to the age groupers’ one. We’re talking a casual business meeting compared to a political rally.
    • There was a typhoon off the coast during the race weekend, which made the seas look like this:
      image Swells got up to eight feet. You could tell who lived on a coast and who didn’t by the person’s apprehension about the swim.
    • The race organization ended up canceling the swim leg, which was probably a good thing. People not used to these conditions would have drowned. As it was, we did plenty of swimming during the race itself - it rained the entire morning.
    • We all stood shivering in the driving rain for a good 10 minutes during setup before someone realized she was holding a piece of neoprene designed to keep her warm in cold water. So the wetsuits did come in handy, even if we didn’t use them in the race.
    • image

    • The swim was replaced by a 6k run. Which started at the beginning of the run course and turned back after 3k.
    • The beginning of the run course is a fairly steep uphill climb. So much for conserving leg energy during the first event.
    • The bike course would have been excellent if the course had been dry and less windy, but in the typhoon conditions it was a disaster. People were flatting and falling left and right, and at least one pro was taken out by a crash.
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    • Bells do not work in the rain, so I actually had to yell at people to get them to move out of the way.
    • This race was the first time I had gearing other than a 39-25 on my bike. I had to dash around traffic to keep my legs rotating at a decent cadence on the uphills, which was terrifying when there ware cyclists and trucks flying down the hill in the other lane.
    • Rain in the city makes me happy, but rain on my race course makes me swear in all the languages I know.
    • The blisters. Oh God, the blisters.
    • The only time it wasn’t raining was when the sun came out to parch us. Once it was satisfied the racers were sufficiently dried out, it went away and left the rainclouds to their business. This cycle repeated for the entire day. Where the hell is the desert when you need it?
    • Apparently the Mandarin word for “Go! Go! Go!” is “Jai-o!”
    • Thanks to the sun, I now have a deep and narrow V of a sunburn on my chest. I’m like a hipster tomato.
    • image

    • The conditions for the race may have been miserable, but I still found a way to have fun. Every unsuspecting volunteer with their hand outstretched to guide traffic got a high-five.
    • Hell, every suspecting volunteer got one. And every spectator within reach. And a few confused dogs, too.
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    • A “Woohoo!” accompanying every high-five was mandatory.
    • I apparently got a reputation for high-fives with some of the other racers, because I got a lot of high-fives as they passed me on the run.
    • I had a decent first run and a great bike, but my legs fell apart on the second half of the final run. My first half had me on track to break the 5:30 mark. My second half gave me a total time of 6:21:30. Not my worst time, but by far not my best.
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    • If I’m going to finish an ironman in five months, I have a lot of running to do. I blame my poor run on the surprise duathlon and the two months I couldn’t train the run during an injury. I was able to do the grandma-style run this time, but there’s no room for forgiveness in a marathon after a full day of riding and swimming. Ass, prepare to kick yourself.
    • And by grandma-style, I mean plodding along at about 14 minutes per mile. For comparison, my target pace was a modest nine minutes per mile.
    • You know what’s really mean? Making the run leg pass by the finish line with 5km to go. You spend the next 20 minutes praying for the turnaround to finally appear, and when it does come it’s around a corner and out of site. Nothing will drive a man further to despair.
    • The worst part about the race: there was almost no solid food on the course, and none after it. There were massages, water, tea and beer, but that was it. I had to buy an expensive loaf of bread from the gift shop to stave off starvation.
    • But hey, there was free beer for those who drank:


    • The guy in the middle later showered in it.
    • After the last half-ironman I raced, my girlfriend at the time and her mother sat on either side of me and massaged my legs. This time, it was the three volunteers from the picture who did so. It made it worth listening to the sloppy sales pitch of the inventor of the cooling salve they were rubbing into my legs.
    • The cooling salve did nothing, by the way. But I wasn’t about to give up my comfy chair.
    • I didn’t walk to the 7/11 for the traditional post-race Slurpee and sugar cookie, but I did scarf down some bread and a chicken steak.
    • My body completely lost its ability to regulate its temperature after the race. I was shivering when we went back for the after-race dinner, which was thankfully organized better than the food during the race.
    • My lymph nodes also ballooned up for a few days, but that was the extent of my post-race sickness. I’ve had worse.
    • The next day I got to the bus pick-up site early and the bus was running late. I spent an hour sipping a bottle of iced tea under a shelter outside, reading and listening the early-morning rain.
    • There were only three people on the bus when I got on. I sat next to the other westerner in the back, who happened to be from Sydney. We spent about an hour chatting.
    • The Aussie told me his race had ended about 15km into his bike, when he got a flat. I was confused as to why he didn’t bother carrying flat repair, and he just shrugged and said by the time he got it fixed the race would have been lost for him.
    • All the athletes in the race have to wear orange bracelets with their number stamped on them. I realized at about that time that this guy’s number was 0001.
    • The dude’s 25 years old, owns his own bike fitting studio, has about 15 years left on his pro career and is almost done with his sports physiology degree. He’s going to have a monopoly on VO2 testing and other sport programs in the Sydney area.
    • It’s awesome to meet other twenty-somethings who have their stuff together.
    • He’s also doing Miami Man 70.3 next week, which is the other half-iron I’ve done, so I tried to give him some inside info on that. Not sure if I helped, but it was worth a try.
    • The trio of volunteer girls met me at the airport for lunch before I left the country for good. Two of them are studying Japanese, and one is studying English. They told me they want to be tour guides and translators - apparently there’s a good market for people who speak both Japanese and Mandarin.
    • I also learned that those who come from the aboriginal traditions in Taiwan don’t eat beef. It’s similar to the reasons Hindus don’t - their way of life came from the cow, so the cow became sacred. and from a practical standpoint, you don’t eat your source of income, tasty as it may be.
    • Bangkok’s airport is larger than what I had imagined the entire country to be. And the city is more modern than Taipei, both in its thinking and in its infrastructure.
    • On the train from the airport to the main city, I was seated next to an old gentleman from Belgium who had moved there seven years ago and gave me the low-down on where to visit.
    • Unfortunately the temples were closed by the time I got there (I was on the train at 7 p.m.) but I did get to see one from the outside. I need to go back and spend more time there, if only to see the insides of the things.
    • Maybe it was the headache I had for most of my time in the city or the stalls I visited, but I have to admit I liked the food better in Taipei than in Bangkok.
    • The atmosphere felt entirely different, though. It was younger and more energetic than anyplace I’d visited previously, including Orlando and Boston.
    • This may have just been because I wandered into the middle of a political protest while looking for a bathroom.
    • The red-light district is real. The “massage parlors” are real. The ping pong shows are real. The stalls offering porn DVDs and sex paraphernalia on the main streets are real. All the stories you’ve heard about the city are real.
    • I did not indulge, though. Honestly, I was so tired from the race and had such a bad headache that I probably couldn’t have even if I had wanted to. And you could tell the girls didn’t want to be there - most of them were probably human-trafficking victims.
    • I tried hard to find a massage parlor that just offered massages. I finally found one, but at that point it was too close to the time I had to head back to the airport.
    • There were some pretty cool open-air bard with good cover bands, though. One pair of guys from Arkansas I ran into on the metro said the music scene here is better than in most places in the States.
    • I slept for most of the flight home. Again, my box of chocolates earned me no special favors with the cabin crew, but they were very nice when they woke me up for the meal.
    • After a vacation full of running around new places and meeting new people, the only thing I wanted to do when I got home was curl up with my cats and sleep. Which I did. For an entire two days.
    • Next racecation should be for Ironman South Africa in late March/early April next year.
    • Bring it on.

Abu Dhabi. Ally. Apple juice. Arabic. Barefoot running lifestyle. Carbon fiber. Cheez-Its. Cycling. Dinosaur chicken nuggets. Editing. Fedoras. Fitness. Florida. Grammar. Green Tea. Half-Ironman. Ice cream. Journalism. Languages in general. Little things in life. Mensa. Music. Open-source software anything. Peanut Butter. Playing freely without fear of risky things. Pogonotropy. Puns. Rock Climbing. RSS feeds. Salesmanship. Salsa dancing. Sarcasm. Silicone. Skinny ties. Spanish. Sticklerism. Sunroofs. Titanium. Triathlons. Trombone. Vibram Five Fingers. Walking slowly. Warm weather. Wearing one's heart on one's sleeve.