Conquer Your Fear

Apr 062012

A fourth grade girl screws up her courage to make her first ski jump:

The beginning is hard to watch, but the ending is awesome!

Just a few hours after I watched this video, I read this amazing news story about an 80-year-old woman, without any training in flying, landing a plane after her husband collapsed.

“She was remarkable on the radio,” Keith Kasbohm of the Door County Cherryland Airport said of Monday’s incident. “She kept her composure and sounded like she had been a pilot for years. She knew what to do when they told her ‘flaps down, increase the throttle, increase the trim.’ She was doing it well.”

Sadly, her husband died, but she saved her own life (and gave him every chance at life) by acting sensibly under such difficult circumstances.

Too many people, accustomed to indulging their emotions in ordinary life, collapse under the pressure of difficult circumstances. Unless saved by sheer luck or some rational person, they suffer failure, pain, loss, injury, and even death.

Life requires that a person govern his emotions by his reason in the ways advocated by Aristotle. If your emotions are not in harmony with your reason, then you’ve got to work on your moral psychology. Your life and happiness depends on it!

Two Freestyle Dressage Videos

Apr 042012

When my mom was visiting, we watched these two awesome freestyle dressage videos from the World Dressage Masters in 2012:

Steffen Peters and Ravel, First Place:

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro, Second Place:

If you’ve never trained horses, you can’t really appreciate just how difficult those movements are to perform well, as well as the years of grueling training required of both horse and rider to teach them. Still, I hope that you can enjoy two such spectacular performances!

Snow Stunts… and SnowCon Registration

Mar 082012

I might be crazy, but I’d love to try some terrain park stunts on a snowboard in a few years:

The snowmobilers doing flips just kills me. That’s plain nuts!

But wait… it’s already March?!? It feels like I’m just getting started with my winter sports! Alas, we’ve had pretty awful snow this year, and that plus starting snowboarding this year has definitely meant that I’ve not made much progress with my skiing.

Still, I’ve got some skiing and boarding left this season, including at SnowCon 2012! Remember, if you want to attend, you must register by Sunday, March 11th!

Inspiration, Courtesy of Mathilda

 Fun, Sports
Mar 062012

If you need some inspiration today, this video of 94 year old Mathilda dancing might be just what the doctor ordered:

The Snowboarding Crow

Feb 222012

This video is just plain amazing. The crow is using something like the lid of a jar to snowboard down a steep snowy roof:

(Via Paul B. on Facebook)

Snowboard Girl, Powered by Bacon

Jan 212012

Last week, I had a great four days of snowboarding in Beaver Creek, then one final day of skiing. Much to my delight, the third day offered six inches of glorious powder — and that much powder transforms snowboarding from “yay fun!” to “OMG OMG OMG THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER!”

My snowboarding skills are definitely improving with every day on the slopes. (These were days five through eight on a snowboard.) My turns are much better: I can do pretty flat s-curves down the milder slopes, and I can do turns on steeper slopes now too. I’m able to get off the lifts reliably, thank goodness. I’m only falling on occasion now too.

Interestingly, I’m pretty much ambidextrous on the snowboard. I’m goofy-footed, mostly because the inflamed nerve (morton’s neuroma) in the ball of my right foot is happier when strapped in full-time. However, I’m happy to go down the slope with left or right foot forward, and my turns are equally good (or bad) on either side. That flexibility is good: I can face whichever way makes the most sense given the terrain, not based on my own body’s preferences.

I snowboarded or skied for four to five hours every day. I was tired by that, but not wildly exhausted. (The only exception was the first day, but that involved waking up early and driving three hours to Beaver Creek, then snowboarding.) Also, I was sore after the first day or two in my quads, but that faded. That tells me that my 20 minute SuperSlow workouts once per week are keeping me in as good shape as CrossFit did.

By the time we went home, the only thing that hurt was the backs of my knees. I couldn’t figure out why… until I realized that the problem was likely my construction-style knee pads, because the main strap wrapped around the backs of my knees. I’ve ordered knew knee pads, so hopefully those will work without causing strain.

Finally, due to my still-super-strict elimination diet, I cooked all of our meals in the kitchen of the condo. We usually had bacon and grapefruit for breakfast. (Hence, the caption on on the picture!) Paul had coffee, and I had my cinnamon hot cocoa. I packed some meat (ham or leftovers), plus sweet potato for lunch. Then we had yummy dinners: slow-cooked pork ribs, roast chicken, pork roast, and so on. That worked really well: I kept strictly to my diet, and I enjoyed what we ate. Also, we probably saved a few hundred dollars, since eating out anywhere neat Beaver Creek is ridiculously expensive.

Overall, I’m really happy that I took up snowboarding this season. I’m enjoying the challenge of learning a new snow sport, particularly that difficult process of forcing myself by sheer will to overcome my fears. (I hope to write more about that later.) Mostly…


Now This Is Mountain Biking!

Dec 282011

Holy feat of balance, Batman! As said on Kottke, “Three guys ride on tiny paths next to steep rock faces and over narrow wooden bridges. I could only manage watching a minute of this…I almost threw up in fear.”

Learning to Snowboard at the Ripe Old Age of 37

Dec 172011

Last Sunday afternoon, Paul and I headed out to Breckenridge for a few days of much-needed vacation. I decided to try to learn to snowboard on this trip. (I’m a pretty good skier, but I’ve not yet skied this season.) I wanted the challenge of learning a new sport, and snowboarding seemed like a good fit for me. Plus, I suspect that snowboarding might be easier on my increasingly painful Morton’s neuroma. (That’s an inflamed nerve in the ball of my right foot, acquired by wearing bicycle clip shoes.) So with three full days to play in the snow, I decided to take the plunge into snowboarding!

The first two days were pretty darn miserable. I’m not exaggerating. On the first day, I took a full-day lesson to learn the basics, and that was essential. (We had one instructor, plus an instructor-in-training, for four people. That was awesome.) The class worked on the bunny hill of Peak 9 for most of the day, but our final run was on a green slope. While I improved over the course of the day, I struggled to learn how to shift my weight properly in order to steer. Still, the green run was good… including the bit of real hill toward the bottom.

The second day — my 37th birthday — was the worst. I still struggled to steer, even just on my heel edge, and often I was sucked into the edges of the run by seemingly insignificant fall lines. Also, I had serious troubles “skating,” i.e. moving with one foot detached. That’s tricky to learn, and because I switched from regular-footed to goofy-footed after the first day, I had to relearn it. (I’m pretty sure that I could go either way in my stance, but my bad foot is always strapped in with a goofy stance, and that puts far less stress on my neuroma. So goofy I am!) Alas, I had lots of skating to do on this day because I was stupid enough to return to Peak 9, with its long stretch of flat with that strong fall line to the right. (I’d never even notice that skiing!) That was a mistake. However, the absolute worst was the platter-pull lift on the bunny slope: it was not merely ridiculously difficult to skate on a snowboard while being dragged uphill, but also extremely tiring. I was always more winded at the top of the slope than I was at the bottom. After switching to the green run later in the day, I got better at controlling my direction and speed, but I’d not even been able to think about turns yet.

On the third day, I dreaded returning to the slopes. Every muscle in my body ached, and after my first two days, I didn’t see much hope for fun. However, I was determined not to permit all of my pain of the first two days go to waste by my giving up, so off to the slopes I went.

Happily, I had a blast! I went to Peak 8, and I stuck with an easy green run and an easy two-person lift. (I could only stay for three hours.) That was perfect. The hill posed enough of a challenge that I never got bored. I worked on my heed-side traversing, then my toe-side traversing, then my j-turns, then c-turns, then s-turns. If I tried to turn on a steeper portion of the hill, I’d crash in a most spectacular way, but I was able to do the turns pretty well on the flatter sections. Control over my speed and direction began to come naturally to me, meaning that I didn’t have to think through every body motion. Also, I was able to practice my skating to get on and off the lift. I even managed to skate off the lift perfectly a few times. (Really, that was a feat!) Oh, and it was awesome to have an inch of powder on the slopes that day too!

I’m now eager to return to the slopes to continue learning the basic skills of snowboarding. Obviously, I have much to learn yet, but I think I’ve gotten over the painfully frustrating portion of the learning curve.

I’ve never fallen much in skiing, even while learning. I fell over and over again in my three days of snowboarding, often suddenly and hard. However, I didn’t suffer any other aches or pains or bruises from that, apart from muscle soreness. (The only exception is a dark circular bruise, two inches wide, on the side of my thigh. I have no idea how I got that!) I stayed out of trouble because I wore a slew of protective equipment, including:

  • A helmet. I bonked my head slightly a few times, so I was very glad to have protected my beloved noggin. I plan to wear a helmet whenever I ski or snowboard from here on out.
  • Wrist guards. They weren’t just useful for when I’d catch an edge, but also for helping to prop myself up when attempting to stand up. My instructor cautioned against relying on them for too long: to prevent broken bones, you want to learn to break your forward falls with your shoulder, rather than your arms.
  • Knee pads. I used some knee pads that we’d bought at Home Depot years ago, strapping them on over my ski pants. They definitely cushioned me on some very hard forward falls. I’ll likely wear these heavy-duty knee pads for a few more outings, then look for some snowpants with built-in knee pads.
  • Butt pad. This was sheer brilliance on my part, even if the ideas were borrowed from others. I secured the perfect pad to my rear by taking an inch-thick “kneeling pad” for gardening, again from Home Depot, and securing it in the proper place with spandex shorts. (It worked best to put it on over my long underwear.) It was sheer brilliance, I tell you! It really worked: despite some bone-jarring falls, my butt was never sore. The set-up did require large ski pants, however.

My only equipment failure was my mittens. My usual skiing mittens, which are lovely and warm, weren’t large enough to fit over my wrist guards, and the wrist guards weren’t large enough to fit over my mittens. Doh! Since the wrist guards needed a layer of cushion underneath, I decided to wear my warmer-weather gloves. It wasn’t too cold for that, but wowee, they got soaked. As a skier, my hands just aren’t in the snow. As a snowboarder, my hands were digging into the snow every time I’d fall, sit down to rest, or get up — meaning about once every three minutes. That meant soaking wet gloves. I was too cheap to buy new gloves in Breckenridge, but I found an excellent pair of large waterproof gloves and a pair of large mittens at Costco in Denver.

Now I just need to buy myself a used snowboard and boots… and get back out on the slopes!

So what are the lessons here for learning a new sport? I’d say (1) don’t give up too soon, (2) pad yourself like crazy, and (3) keep working toward the fun!

The Ethics Of Giving Up Valuable Sports Memorabilia

Sep 132011

As part of Diana’s September 11th Rationally Selfish webcast (NoodleCast #96), she covered the following question:

Is it dumb to return a valuable home run baseball to the team? When NY Yankees star Derek Jeter hit a home run for his 3000th hit, the fan in the stands Christian Lopez who caught the ball returned it to the Yankees, even though he was legally entitled to keep it. Some experts estimate it could have been sold on eBay for up to $250,000.

The Yankees did give him some season tickets and team memorabilia but nowhere near as valuable. (In fact, he may have to pay thousands of dollars of taxes for those gifts he received from the Yankees.) Some people praised Mr. Lopez for doing the “right thing.” Other said he was foolish for giving up something valuable that could have, say, paid for his kids’ college or been used for other important life goals.

Was he moral or immoral for returning the baseball with no expectation of reward?

Here’s Diana’s discussion:

For the record, Dr. Leonard Peikoff answered a similar question on his own webcast on August 22nd, 2011.

Assuming the perspective of a rational ethical egoist, this is a very interesting question. (For the purpose of this discussion, I’ll assume there are no tax implications, just as Diana assumed in her webcast).

First of all, I want to state that I agree with Dr. Peikoff’s general principle that not all value is monetary.

Second, I also agree with the general Objectivist ethical principle that one should not sacrifice a higher value for a lower value.

So the question becomes: Did Mr. Lopez sacrifice a higher value for a lower value in giving the baseball back to the New York Yankees?

Another point I’d like to highlight is that on various discussion boards, Lopez was praised for doing the “right thing”, but this assessment presumes the conventional altruist code of morality. A typical example is this comment in the New York Times:

Of course he did the “right” thing. He acted selflessly; he didn’t do something expecting a quid pro quo. We can all learn and benefit from his example.

According this view, Lopez was moral because his action represented a deliberate sacrifice without benefit to himself.

Of course an ethical egoist would reject this view. But could an ethical egoist have a non-sacrificial reason for giving up the baseball, rather than selling it for $250,000 or keeping it for himself?

I think it’s theoretically possible, but I don’t know how likely it would be.

For instance, if Derek Jeter had been a long-time personal hero for a baseball fan and if the fan had drawn personal inspiration throughout his life from Jeter’s many accomplishments, I can see how a fan might wish to repay Jeter by giving him the gift of that historic baseball. Similarly, someone who was a die-hard Yankees fan might wish to become a permanent part of Yankees history and tradition by returning the baseball. In such cases, I can see how giving the baseball back to the Yankees might be a gain of a higher value for a lower value, rather than a sacrifice of a higher value for a lower value — if it was the result of a rationally constructed hierarchy of values.

And not knowing much about Mr. Lopez other than what’s available in public accounts, I can’t know his actual hierarchy of values or to what extent it’s based on reason.

However, it can also be entirely rational and moral for someone who had caught the baseball to decide to sell it. He might quite reasonably decide that this $250,000 would allow him to, say, start a new business, buy his beloved parents a new house, or guarantee his kids’ college education. I think many American baseball fans would make this choice, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

If someone decided that advancing his own life goals (or promoting the well-being of his loved ones) was more important to him than being part of Yankees history, he should feel proud of that decision and not accept it as any form of moral guilt.

I can also see a fan deciding to keep the baseball in his personal collection as a tangible reminder of a great achievement (which he could sell in the future if necessary due to financial hardship).

Now some egoists have defended Lopez’s decision on the grounds that returning the ball gave him great personal satisfaction. I think this merely begs the question. Whether his satisfaction was proper depends on whether his hierarchy of values was rational or not (something I do not and can not know). I just want to caution against relying on a subjective sense of “happiness” or “satisfaction” as a necessarily reliable indicator of a decision being morally correct.

Finally, it’s also possible for a baseball fan to offer to sell the baseball back to the Yankees at a discount — less than the full market value in the collectors’ market, but more than the value of some season tickets and memorabilia. Again, the proper intermediate amount would depend on the seller’s precise hierarchy of values.

For what it’s worth, when Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa were setting home run records in 1998, some of those baseballs also sold for many thousands of dollars in the collectors’ markets. I don’t recall much condemnation in the popular press of those sellers for cashing in on their good fortune. And I’m glad there wasn’t.

In sum:

1) Dr. Peikoff is correct that not all values can be reduced to money.

2) For an egoist, returning the baseball could be a sacrifice (in which case it would be wrong), or could be a rational non-sacrifice (in which case it would be proper). I personally think the second possibility is possible, but relatively unlikely for most people. (For what it’s worth, Diana and I diverge somewhat on this point — she regards it is much less likely than I do, closer to “nearly inconceivable”.)

3) We should reject the altruist code praising the return of the ball as “the right thing” because it was “selfless”.

Firefly from the 80′s

Jun 202011

Priceless! A new introduction for Firefly as a 80′s show:

And here, Simon has his own 80′s show:

It’s all in the music and the graphics!

Oh, and here’s an awesome video of Summer Glau training for the fight sequences in Serenty:

Home | Live Webcast | Archives | Blog | Question Queue | Connect | Support Us | About Us
Copyright 2012 Diana Hsieh | Email | Twitter | Facebook | Blog
Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha