I’ve been neglecting this blog

I’ve been neglecting this blog.

Even though I’ve always told myself and others that this is an informal blog, it has secretly been a promise to myself. I call it an informal blog because I don’t want to feel obligated to post regularly or pigeonhole myself into any style or topic. The process of writing is exhausting for me. I generally don’t do the breezy “quote and comment” style of blogging that the most prolific bloggers do. I write when I feel that I have something original to say, some kind of wisdom to impart. I’m not here to build an “audience”. I don’t want an audience because that suggests there are a number of people out there awaiting my guidance on certain matters. To have an audience broadens the scope of your expected commentary. If I had an audience, I would feel that I wasn’t fulfilling my duties if I weren’t commenting on every piece of knowledge of some importance that slid underneath my eyes. If I had an audience, it would be my job to make sure that they knew about those things. I am responsible for their education in certain matters. I don’t want that responsibility. That’s why this is an informal blog with a meaningless name and no stated objectives.

However, this blog is also a promise to myself. I knew that I needed a pile of hard-wrought prose and an accumulation of unremembered knowledge behind me. The time and effort I put into my writing here is something I will draw upon in the future. One of my favorite ditties regarding this truth is relayed by Stephen Pressfield in “The War of Art”.

Someone once asked Somerset Maugham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. “I write only when inspiration strikes,” he replied. “Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”

Most if not all successful writers will have a similar answer when asked a similar question. It’s akin to great athletes attributing their success to their limitless resolve to practice. Successful people in all industries will say similar things about hard work. Getting somewhere amounts to putting in the work. Why that work is important will vary from pursuit to pursuit, but it is important in all of them. I suppose you could say that anything worth doing is worth doing again and again.

I have been neglecting this blog because I had a new job from October 2015 to the middle of February 2016. In that time period, I posted four times even though I have a lot of material to draw from. I wrote 48 journals and read hundreds of pages of other people’s writing. I also had a number of blog-worthy entries written before I had a place to post them, as well as a number of post ideas. It would’ve been easy to touch up or reformat anything I’ve written previously. Why didn’t I write something?

I don’t have an answer to that question. I don’t really want one. My personal experiment to see how well I could withstand the destruction of my personal regimen was a disaster. My work schedule could have me start work anywhere from 11pm to 5am, any day of the week. It changed every week. Many of my work days were 12-14 hours (not including the 45-75 minute commute). Scheduling appointments, running errands, and seeing friends was logistically futile. The consequent apathy and hopelessness I felt resulted in the sloughing off of several good habits I had developed, and shirking some big picture responsibilities (like my coaching course). Even though I quit in the middle of February, it’s taken me until now to get back to a point where I feel confident in my life again. I’ve aligned with my purpose once more and I’ve gotten back to my old activities. If I learned anything from this, it’s that a good amount of regularity in your life provides an astonishingly important sense of stability.

I guess what I’m trying to say is…

I’m baaack.

I’ve been neglecting this blog

Getting some sun without getting burnt

I live in Colorado. I also have type two skin (barely, it’s very close to type one). That elevation really compounds the problem of having pale skin in such a sunny state. Sunlight is radiation, and so its intensity is squared as you get closer to the sun.
However, last summer, I was able to tan my torso. This is quite an accomplishment for me, since the story usually goes: shirtless, sunburn, peel, no tan, try again if you dare. There was no goldilocks sun exposure that would give me a little color without burning me.
At the end of summer 2015, I was walking outside shirtless for an hour and I wouldn’t get burned. If I went a bit over an hour, I’d be red for a couple days, but I didn’t burn. In fact, I don’t think I had a sunburn all year.
I’ll tell you what I think was key to my success.
1. A strong diet, low in n-6 but with seafood. For the purposes of creating and supporting skin that can interact with the sun in a healthy manner, I think your main focus should  be removing as much PUFA from your diet as possible. However, this comes with a caveat, since seafood has some amazing properties when it comes to the sun. You might be interested in supplementing with astaxanthin, as well. You want a strong, varied diet, because getting enough nutrients is important for the function of your skin. Remember that a strong diet will include gelatin/collagen/broth and organ meats. There are many accounts of people getting burnt less when they go on a paleo diet.
2. Introducing sun gradually. Most people recommend building up sun exposure in 15 minute increments. I completely agree with this, but I go one farther. The intensity of the sun grows throughout the season, so it’s important to start as early in the year as you can. I’ve been sunbathing on warm days since the middle of February. I do this when I go on walks in the morning (sun isn’t as harsh in the morning). This is an even more gentle way of building up sun exposure. If your body’s first big introduction to sun is at noon during May at Waterpalooza, you’ll be feeling the after effects of that decision for a week.
But wait, it’s really cold in February and even some of March. That’s true, and especially so since we’re talking about exposure before 11AM. That’s why I like to do it with a walk. In February, I left my house with sweatpants and hoody. By the time I got to my spot, I was warm from walking around. Then I took off my shirt and hoody and warmed myself with the sun’s radiation. Thanks to Colorado’s general lack of clouds, I can get quite warm laying in the sun in February. Sometimes walking home I wouldn’t even bother putting my hoody back on; my shirt kept me warm enough.
This year I got an earlier start, and I won’t have a long trip to Europe breaking up my summer like last year, so I’m curious to see how far I can push my tolerance this season. Plus, judging from the fact that my exposed forearms remain darker than my torso even in winter, it seems reasonable to assume that a certain level of the tan acquired in summer is cumulative over one’s life. The anecdotal experiences of people who work outside (myself included) support this. I’ve never heard of anyone getting burnt more or needing more sunblock as they add more seasons of work under their belt; it’s always less sunblock and less burns.
Getting some sun without getting burnt