The truth about the world

The truth about the world, he said, is that anything is possible. Had you not seen it all from birth and thereby bled it of its strangeness it would appear to you for what it is, a hat trick in a medicine show, a fevered dream, a trance bepopulate with chimeras having neither analogue nor precedent, an itinerant carnival, a migratory tentshow whose ultimate destination after many a pitch in many a mudded field is unspeakable and calamitous beyond reckoning. 

Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy

Book review: Dracula by Bram Stoker

This is a classic that I should have read before now. It took me a while, both to actually start reading the book and to finish it once I had begun, and it was well worth it.

The book’s premise should be familiar to almost everyone. Count Dracula is a vampire. He terrorizes people. The people try to kill him. Van Helsing is involved. Vampires don’t like the light. Or garlic. Or crosses. They can’t get inside a home unless invited.

You get the picture.

I probably put off reading the book for so long because I’m irrationally wary of stilted, “old” language. The book didn’t deliver on that front, and was actually quite easy and enjoyable to read. One of my favorite passages:

The tomb in the daytime, and when wreathed with fresh flowers, had looked grim and gruesome enough, but now, some days afterwards, when the flowers hung lank and dead, their whites turning to rust and their greens to browns, when the spider and the beetle had resumed their accustomed dominance, when the time-discolored stone and dust-encrusted mortar and rusty, dank iron, and tarnished brass, and clouded silver-plating gave back the feeble glimmer of a candle, the effect was more miserable and sordid than could have been imagined. It conveyed irresistibly the idea that life, animal life, was not the only thing that could pass away.

I think the most enjoyment I found in the book came from all the wonderful vampire lore that ended up in more modern books. I love knowing that Stoker was breaking new ground with his ideas. And we’ve been using them ever since.

Dracula ranks 4 out of 5 stars. You can buy Dracula on Amazon if you want to support my reading habits.

Alternatives to iA Writer 3

I was once a daily user of iA Writer. They just released the latest version of their app, iA Writer 3. I tried it out and the experience is gorgeous. 

I still won’t end up using the text editor because it doesn’t support exporting to WordPress or Evernote. I’m using the Byword App instead. It’s great, but I prefer the aesthetics of iA Writer. 

So tell me: What are my alternatives if I want these features/characteristics:

  • Export to WordPress and Evernote
  • Markdown
  • Minimalistic 

Let me know if the comments if you have any suggestions!

Movie review: Meru directed by Jimmy Chin & Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

Meru

I am not afraid of heights. I’ve always had a hard time understanding what skeeves people out about being up high, or seeing things from a tall perspective. Sometimes I take my ability to deal with heights to the next level and think about what it would be like to be a mountain climber. Meru proved to me that I probably don’t have what it takes.

The film follows Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk as they attempt to be the first to reach the Shark’s Fin peak of Meru, a 21,850-foot mountain in the Gharwal Himalayas of India. It’s not the tallest mountain in the world by a long shot, but the Shark Fin is one of the most difficult peaks to summit.

The first part of the film covers their first attempt in 2008. A storm kept them off the top of the mountain, and they decided to go back again years later. A series of accidents before the second attempt even started almost derailed the entire thing. I don’t want to give away too many details to ruin the story so I’ll just say that it’s amazing they even made a second attempt after what happened.

The most wonderful part of the movie was its discussion of death and the risks these climbers take. They are out there in some of the harshest and most unforgiving places in the world — day in and day out. And they love it. There was no shying away from reality during the interview scenes of the documentary: They knew death was always just above the next handhold and they embraced it.

It takes a special kind of person to climb mountains, so I think I’ll just continue to enjoy from afar. The stunning imagery and bravery on display vie for a spot in the place I keep my favorites, but in the end I think the terrible and wondrous hubris of the human race wins out.

Meru rates 8 out of 10 stars. You can see it in theaters now. If you don’t share a love of heights with me you might have to suffer through sweaty palms throughout (I’ve heard that’s a thing that happens to you other types). It will be well worth it.

Other movies I saw this week

Running from 9/7/15 to 9/13/15

I ran to two extremes this week. During the work week I felt slow, with leaden legs dragging me down. This weekend I decided to combine two days of running into one. The decision was partly to address my fatigued legs, and partly because of a hankering for a truly long run.

I ran for 4 hours today and it was glorious. The weather did me a favor and gave me a starting temperature in the 60s and and ending temperature in the low 80s. You can’t ask for much better than that in early September in Austin. I followed up the run with a proper ice bath consisting of about 40 pounds of ice and some cold water. It was painful at first but my legs feel great now. We’ll see if it helps stave off the DOMS any more than a “typical” ice bath, where I’m just using what’s in our freezer.

Here’s what my week of running looked like:

  • Monday: No run and 8,301 steps total.
  • Tuesday: 32-minute run after work in the neighborhood. I ran too fast but couldn’t seem to keep my pace down.
  • Wednesday: 34-minute run on Town Lake after work. I ran a bit too fast again and it felt rough the entire time.
  • Thursday: 31-minute run on Town Lake in the rain after work. The rain was great.
  • Friday: No run and 5,034 steps total.
  • Saturday: No run and 6,004 steps total.
  • Sunday: 240-minute run on Town Lake. I felt like I could have run another couple of hours, but that might have just been my desire talking instead of reality.
  • Total active time of 337 minutes with an average heart rate of 143.5 beats per minute. Total steps this week: ~97,000