Barefoot Beach Bouldering

If you’ve never tried bouldering or rock climbing you really should and if you have but a long time ago then you should do it more often. I’m still more of a fruit tree climber however I must say that exhausting your hands and melting your forearms on a climbing wall is pretty awesome. I’ve only climbed up high with a harness a few times in my life because I’m not into get-wrecked-or-die-if you-fall heights and I don’t like putting my life in the hands of old climbing bolts. Particularly those on the beach and subject to the corrosive effects of sea mist. However I love bouldering over sand, water, or some other forgiving surface.

After many attempts today, and over the past few weeks whenever I visited that beach, I made it and now that I know how to do it and have developed a stronger grip it should be fairly easy next time. I climbed onto the stalactite in the center of this photo which is about 2 meters off the ground. I did a little jump and grab and then put my foot over my hands and used my heel to allow me to move my hands into a position that would eventually get me high enough onto the stalactite that I could get a foot on the bottom. After I made it I climbed around it once before jumping down with a smile on my face and blood on my hand (small scrape).



I started slacklining last year after seeing one for the first time however today was the first time I stretched my slackline across some water. Walking across it was a lot more difficult than I thought it’d be and I think that had a lot to do with how fast the muddy river below me was moving. If you swam as hard as you could you could still move forward but very slowly. I’m not sure I could have even made it 10 meters upstream. Luckily the stream was only about 12 meters wide so I was never too far from the shore.

You’re not supposed to look down when walking on a slackline but I couldn’t help noticing the water below rushing past me and I think it messed with my balance which is pretty good a meter or so above land. There was also the fear of falling but I wasn’t very high above the water so I think the main thing that made it so difficult was all the movement below me. I look forward to slacklining over some still and preferably clear water and seeing how that feels. In the meantime I need to practice looking forward and ignoring what’s below me.

If you aren’t familiar with slacklining know that it’s awesome and that you should buy a slackline along with a balance board today. I consider being able to walk across a slackline and being able to walk on your hands essential human skills. You don’t need to be able to do tricks on a slackline, I don’t, and you don’t need to be able to take a flight of stairs on your hands however if you aren’t a small child, really old, or physically handicapped you really should make it a goal to be able to walk across a slackline and take a few steps on your hands.

P.S. If you want to see just how important vision is to your balance try standing on one leg, shutting your eyes, and then counting down from 20 out loud and don’t forget to do both legs.


Running into Water

When arriving at a beach on a hot sunny day it’s tempting to go running into the water, many people even do a run into a dive. I strongly recommend you NOT do this without checking the water first because you never know what lurks just beneath its surface. Have fun at the beach but be careful not to wreck yourself on a rock. No I didn’t wreck myself on those rocks but I’m sure people have and more will in the future. Since they were way too big and embedded for me to move out of a swimming area frequented by tourists which assume it’s rock free I thought I’d issue a little safety announcement that applies to beaches everywhere in hopes it will save at least one person from kicking or diving into a rock. I also sent an email and these two pics to the local beach/park management because although I don’t think it’s necessary to alter natural surroundings in order to careless-tourist-proof everything I do think they should pull up those three rocks which are really in a bad spot.


Cliff Jumping

So you want to try jumping off a cliff or some other high place into water? I don’t recommend it unless you’ve confirmed the water depth while taking into account how it can vary with the tides, thoroughly checked for any underwater obstacles such as rocks, have a person nearby that is willing and able to assist you if necessary, and only if the jump height is less than 8 meters (26 feet) because anything higher than that is quite dangerous. In fact an uncontrolled fall from even that modest height could leave you unconscious and seriously injured. Many people who haven’t cliff jumped, including myself until fairly recently, do not understand the force at which you impact the water and how important it is to be in the proper vertical, arms in, legs together, toes pointed, eyes squeezed shut position for entry. Obviously a belly or back smacker is to be avoided but even a butt first landing could be devastating provided it’s from a good height.


Unilateral Neglect

As I was skating in an empty parking lot I saw two ladies playing badminton without a net. They were fairly close to each other and had a pretty intense volley going. When their volley finished I said “You gals are awesome… but your not because you’re only using your right arm, you should train both arms.”. They though it was funny and then went back to beating the shuttlecock back and forth with their right arms as they’ve probably done for decades and will continue to do for decades as their half-dead left arms just dangled at their side perhaps waiting for the evening when they’d probably be needed to hold a bag of ice or a heating pad over the right shoulder in order to treat the pain that often comes with a chronic repetitive strain injury.

Regardless of whether it’s badminton, footbag, sweeping floors, or wiping windows if you do it on a frequent basis you should use both sides. Left and right sides don’t have to be exactly equal in strength and coordination but you shouldn’t have one good side and one side that’s pretty much useless. Also if you are, have, or see a kid on one of those two wheel ripstiks stop them, tell them how awesome they are for being able to cruise around on it, and then tell them “Now put this foot in the front and that foot in the back.” haha. Not surprisingly I’ve never seen a kid who could do it and it’s disappointing that out of the dozen or so kids I’ve told this to over the years I’ve never seen one that was even willing to take up the challenge and work at it for more than a minute.

Market Math

It’s hard to believe how many adults can not add or subtract at even the most basic level because these are skills that most of us use every day, particularly if you sell fruit for a living. Moreover rather than put forth a tiny effort to improve basic math skills by not relying on a calculator for everything, and I mean everything, it seems most people prefer to reach for the calculator. I’m not talking about for double digit multiplication but for things like: something cost 60, I give you 100, how much should I get back. I encourage you to and to encourage others to use their brains and bodies more. Getting in the habit of doing basic math in your head is a good place to start. Just because someone has a calculator don’t expect them to do the math for you and instead see if your brain can beat their fingers to the result.

Knees, Shoes, and Going Barefoot

While there aren’t any health consequences with wearing a shirt past its prime there are health consequences to not repairing or replacing your footwear in a timely manner. So in your quest to continually reduce the burden you place on the biosphere by striving to reduce, reuse, repair, reuse, and recycle don’t wear the same shoes for too long without repairing or before replacing them and if you really want to extend the life of your footwear and thus reduce your ecological footprint, literally and metaphorically, consider going barefoot when practically possible.

When wearing footwear I recommend walking/running as if you were doing so barefoot, i.e, landing towards your toes with a larger surface of your foot rather than smashing down on the outside of your heel with every overextended stride. Shoes or no shoes be careful while walking/running on slanted roads as this could cause you to develop a poor gait and put extra stress on your knees. When you do walk/run on sloped roads try to balance it out. For instance, when safe, walk/run with the traffic there and walk/run against the traffic back.

Fossil fuels aren’t cheap and neither is the electricity generated by burning them so why not get a nice umbrella, which is extremely useful in rain or shine, and walk more. This is not only better for personal health but also for public and planetary health. When you do need to cover slightly longer distances consider a bike or a perhaps a skateboard.

Practical Fitness

As I roasted under the Southeast Asian sun this afternoon lugging two reusable bags of fruits and vegetables along with my loaded backpack and skateboard a thought occurred to me again and this time I have a platform to share it… rather than driving to a gym to use the lights, air-conditioning, and electric fan as you pedal on a stationary bike or run on an electric treadmill please consider biking or running to where you need to go.

Fitness is great but practical fitness is even better and this kind of fitness comes from doing things that need to be done and using your plant fueled body to do them, e.g., carrying groceries and taking the stairs. There’s nothing wrong with targeted workouts designed for specific purposes however we should do our best to make sure that most of our daily exercise is obtained by getting things done without the use of climate destabilizing fossil fuels.