Watch a Video of Me Crossing the Finish Line at the 65 Roses Climb! (Race Recap)

December 4, 2018

It was a beautiful day for a race on Sunday, and in a beautiful setting…

the Rose Bowl! The legendary stadium is the venue for the 65 Roses Climb, a fundraiser benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. (It’s called the 65 Roses Climb because Read the rest of this entry »


I Think I’m Gonna Barf (Los Angeles CF Climb 2017 Race Recap)

December 4, 2017

On Thursday, I woke up feeling ill. Typical cold symptoms: sneezy, snotty, stuffed up. On Friday, I felt a little better. On Saturday, I felt a lot worse. On Sunday… I competed in a stair race.

This race has been on my calendar for a long time. It was the Los Angeles CF Climb, organized by and benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I felt achy, sniffly and exhausted as soon as I woke up on Sunday, but I didn’t Read the rest of this entry »


Adventures with ClassPass, Part III

August 15, 2014

I’ve been working out all over town thanks to ClassPass, which gives me access to fitness facilities all over the place without needing a membership to any of them. You can learn more about ClassPass in this post (or at their website). Wanna see what I’ve been up to? Read the rest of this entry »


Adventures with ClassPass, Part II: Workout in the Rose Bowl!

July 29, 2014

I love working out in fun, different, unique places. Whether it’s the same road that Charlie Chaplin walked 80 years ago or a pool that was built for the Olympics, finding new, interesting venues keeps things fresh for me. So when I read about a class that was held inside the Rose Bowl, I jumped at the chance.

david-selfie-rose-bowl

That’s me after class was over. The Rose Bowl looked a little different when Read the rest of this entry »


Adventures in Exercise with ClassPass: Part 1

June 19, 2014

I had been a roll for the two weeks leading up to my hip injury, and a company called ClassPass was a major reason why. ClassPass is based in New York, but recently expanded to Los Angeles, and it’s an awesome idea. By signing up with ClassPass, you get Read the rest of this entry »


My Most Awesome (and Historical) Hike Yet!

September 16, 2013

Lately, my nerd flag has been waving most prominently in my Cardio to Vegas posts, where I explore local geography and history as I make a virtual run from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. And while I’m due for a Cardio to Vegas update (I’ve amassed over 25 miles since my last update), I’m going to nerd out right now on something else entirely. It involves the hike I went on yesterday – a hike that was one of the best hikes I’ve ever been on, because I got to visit 100-year-old ruins on top of a mountain.

keep-it-up-david-selfie-echo-mountain

The trail starts in  Read the rest of this entry »


Haunted Forest Hike

May 3, 2012

Of course it started to rain the other day as I drove to go on a hike.

Of course it didn’t stop raining until well after I got back in my car following the hike.

And, of course, it was one of the best hikes I’ve ever taken.

I had no idea what to expect when I left home for the hike. My friend Natalie had been in town a few weeks prior, and a friend of hers had told her about an awesome hike, which Natalie didn’t have time to do before leaving. On her last day, Natalie handed me a post-it with directions:

Mt. Lowe. Exit 210 at Lake. Head north until Lake dead-ends.

So, the other day, I did exactly that. I didn’t look into what was at the end of Lake, or the difficulty of the hike – I just went. I ended up spending over two hours on the mountain, ascending and descending into some serious fog. It was gray everywhere, and it was absolutely stunning. The fog added a huge element of mystery and surprise – I literally had no idea what was around the next corner, or which direction I was heading.

After the hike, I settled in with my laptop, and did some research into where I had just been, and what I found was utterly fascinating. Just like that, my hike went from awesome to awesomer.

Here’s what I learned.

The trail begins at the gate to the Cobb Estate.

Charlie H. Cobb made his fortune from lumber, and in 1918, he and his wife built their dream house in the foothills above Altadena, CA. They lived there for slightly over 20 years, until Cobb died in 1939.

Cobb made news in 1935, when, at 83 years old and armed with just a garden hose, he saved his house and family from an encroaching forest fire in the middle of the night.

Cobb left the house (pictured at right in 1930) and land (all 107 acres of it) to a local Freemason group, and over the next 17 years, ownership changed hands multiple times, until the Marx Brothers bought the property in 1956 as an investment. By this time, the house had fallen into disrepair and was used as a hangout for local teens (police arrested nearly 200 people for petty crimes at the dilapidated mansion). The Marx Brothers demolished what was left of the house in 1959, leaving only the foundation behind, which I found on my hike:

Eventually, the Marx Brothers wanted to turn the land into a cemetery, an idea that was hated by the community. In 1971, after those plans fell through, the Marx Brothers decided to auction off the land to developers. That plan was foiled by a group of high school students, who, in just one week, raised a commotion in the media and caught the ear of a local wealthy art collector, who helped them buy the land at the auction. They turned the land over to the Forest Service, with the condition that it could never be built on. The story of the auction is riveting stuff – read a great article about it here.

So I have a group of high students to thank for my wonderful hike. Thank you. Without your hard work, I never would have spent the afternoon amongst scenery like this:

The trail went up a mountain, and I got higher, the fog got thicker.

There were all these wonderful moments when I would see the trail curve ahead of me, and there was nothing beyond but fog.

At one point I saw these structures looming ahead – it turned out they were power line towers (I’m not sure what these are called, are you?):

After a switchback or two, the trail went directly beneath one of the towers.

The entire experience was unlike any other I’ve had, mostly because of the weather. Rain is rare is Los Angeles, and even though I was soaked by the end of the hike, I loved every second. For the most part, I was alone on the mountain (in 2 hours, I came across maybe 8 other people), and the fog and the gray made everything seem… a little unsettling. A little eerie.

Turns out I’m not the only one that thinks that way. One of the other things I learned after my hike was that the Cobb Estate has another name: The Haunted Forest.

I couldn’t track down specific stories of spooky occurrences or unexplained activity, but apparently the Cobb Estate is a whole different place at night – a place where there are weird lights and sounds, and where people have claimed to have been ‘touched’ when no one’s there. Thankfully for all of us, the very-official-sounding Los Angeles Ghost Patrol investigated the Cobb Estate – you can read their write-up (and watch videos) here.

Lastly, I also learned that had I continued on that trail for a few miles longer, I would have come across some more ruins from another fascinating chapter in Altadena’s history. I’ll share those details at some other point – probably after I go back andfind those ruins on another hike. It gives me something to look forward to.

I kinda also wanna go back to the Cobb Estate at night. Who’s up for a nighttime hike in the Haunted Forest? Anyone wanna come with?

And did I mention that it was an tiring hike? I have no idea how far up the side of the mountain I went, but I was definitely feeling it in my quads later that day.

Keep it up, David!


Zara

February 18, 2012

I’ve really come to love clothes shopping over the past year or so. For most of my adult life, shopping was a mandatory but embarrassing experience: I was way too large for most retailers, so my shopping was done at two nearby big & tall stores, and that wardrobe was complimented by catalog purchases.

Things started changing when the pounds started coming off. Once I no longer needed to shop at big & tall stores (an epiphany I celebrate in this blog post), the whole mall opened up to me, and now I have fun checking out stores and seeing what fits me and what I like. I’ve learned a lot, and they’re still tons to figure out. I already know that I tend to have good luck at Macy’s (most of the time), and that my favorite type of Levi’s are their 514s (slim straight). I’m still on the hunt for a good basic t-shirt with a flattering cut, a heavier fabric, and a reasonable price tag. I’ve also discovered what doesn’t work for me, and that information is just as valuable: I know some brands and labels that run short or are too narrow for my shoulders. And there are stores I used to frequent, like Gap (which I wore a lot of in high school), that just don’t interest me anymore.

What’s most fun, however, is walking into a store that I know nothing about and checking it out for the first time. I did this last summer in Seattle with a store called AllSaints Spitelfield, and it was a complete bust, but still fun. The other day, I did it again, with a store called Zara.

The first time I heard about Zara was a few weeks ago, when I met up with my friends Paul and Court at the Getty Center (an outing which yielded kickass ‘before’ and ‘current’ pictures that you can check out here). I complimented Paul on his shirt, which came from Zara, which is one of Paul’s go-to stores. Then, about a week ago, I complimented Tavi (ugh, yes, this is yet another blog post that Tavi figures into) on a sweater he was wearing, and that, too, came from Zara. It was time to check out Zara.

Zara is a Spanish retailer that only has about 25 stores in the US (and about a 1/4 of them are in southern California), but they’re all over Europe – actually, they’re in over 70 countries on 6 continents. They’re huge. The other day, Tavi and I went to the one in Pasadena, which is housed in an festively festooned storefront on Colorado Boulevard:

The men’s section is large, clean, and well organized:

I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, so I wandered, and ended up pulling two large armloads of clothes to try on: pants, jeans, sweaters, t-shirts (maybe they’ll have the perfect basic T for me!). I picked up things at Tavi’s suggestion that I wouldn’t have chosen for myself. Generally, I liked the aesthetic: a nice mix between clean lines and fun details, with a lot of neutral colors and bold pops of color. I was reminded of the description Paul initially gave me of the store, which turned out to be pretty spot-on: H&M style at a Banana Republic price point. I also noticed, from the get-go, that a lot of their offerings were slouchy and lacking in structure, which is not a flattering look on my body, but I reserved judgment until the dressing room.

The dressing room was illuminating. I learned, really quickly, that Zara is not the store for me. The textiles were a little thin and the European sizing was a little different, resulting in tops that, much to my chagrin, proudly showcased every roll of fat on my body. It was laughable how unflattering these clothes were: they clung like saran wrap, and I felt and looked like a sausage. I fared a little better with the pants – there was a pair of jeans that looked good. They were size 38″ (the largest size Zara makes), although they were the tightest 38″ I’ve ever tried on. They cost $80, and I’m not gonna spent that much on anything that I don’t absolutely love, and these jeans didn’t quite fall into the “love” category.

I was fine with completely striking out at Zara. I was curious about the store, and now I have my answer. I’ve since done a little reading about Zara, and their business model is kinda fascinating. They do no advertising whatsoever, and focus on clothes that are already trendy and popular, as opposed to trying to establish trends of their own. They can design a knock-off and have it in stores in 2 weeks, and if that item doesn’t sell within a week or two, they’ll yank it from the shelves. As a result, they’ll sell 10,000 unique items during a year-long span, compared to 2,000-4,000 items for their competitors. They’ve resisted outsourcing more than other companies, and claim that 75% of their clothes are made in Europe (mostly Spain). I recommend the Zara page on Wikipedia for an interesting primer on fashion retailing.

Zara’s not for me. Big deal. I’m not in the market at the moment for any clothes anyway, except workout pants, which I should be able to find easily at a discount store or on the sale rack at a sporting goods store.

Do you have any ideas for retailers that I can investigate next?

Keep it up, David!


Success in Pasadena

February 4, 2012

I took a little 48-hour blogging break, but I’m back. I spent a lot of time preparing for my Whole Foods talk on Thursday night, tracing my way back through the past two years, and, to be honest, I was kinda tired of thinking and talking about myself. Now I’m ready to be my regular ol’ narcissistic self! And I know that’s why you keep visiting this blog – because I’m such a selfish, arrogant asshole. I’m glad to be back, bitches!

The Whole Foods event on Thursday night went off wonderfully. If you didn’t make it, you missed out! I had been preparing to give my speech in their regular event space – a clearing between the service deli counter and the wine section, and this turned out to be a special night. Thanks to some building renovations, Whole Foods Pasadena had a new classroom/conference room in the back, and my event was the first one that got to use it! How exciting to inaugurate a new space! It was great because I didn’t need to use a microphone, and I didn’t need to compete with the sounds of squeaky carts, register dings, and the other noises that a functioning supermarket provides.

That’s me and my poster at the front of the store. I’m looking off to the side, because I was talking to a customer who had just complimented me! I tried to persuade her to stick around for the presentation, but she couldn’t – I did, however, give her a card.

The room filled up. I think every available chair was taken. Heather had printed out a bunch of “Before” photos, so I had visual aids to refer to.  I was prepared – I had my notes, and used them as a guideline, but told my story naturally, and I felt more comfortable this time around than when I made my motivational speaking debut at Whole Foods Porter Ranch.

The speech lasted about 30 minutes, and then there was a lively question and answer period that lasted about 20 minutes or so. We raffled off a bag of Whole Foods items, and everyone went on their way. My aunt, uncle, and cousin were there, in the front row, and friends came from all over: Culver City, Calabasas, Hollywood, and Long Beach – and if you’re familiar with southern California geography, none of those places are exactly Pasadena-adjacent, so that meant a lot to me as well, especially since it involved terrible rush-hour traffic. Then, there were a couple blog readers that came out specifically to meet me in person (Hello Chauncy and Christina!), which really touched me, and a bunch of people who were new to me and my story, that I hope had a good time.

I left the evening feeling proud, and also feeling motivated. I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately, and talking about all the steps that I’ve taken since Day 1 reminded me that all the difficulties I’m facing now, about staying focused and goal-oriented, are all difficulties that I’ve faced before, and successfully. It’s important that I don’t dwell in a “but-what-have-I-done-lately” fog or forget about my accomplishments from the past. Because I’ve accomplished a lot. And I’m not done yet.

I also left the evening with some produce. I was at Whole Foods, after all! I just wanted a few things to bring me through the weekend:

Carrots, broccoli, red bell pepper, bananas, nectarines.

I also brought home something I’ve never seen or heard of before. Do you know what this is?

It’s called gobo root, and at this point, I know nothing more about it. That will change, though – I’ll figure out what it is, and how to use it, and I’ll share the end results right here in this blog!

Keep it up, David!


Gym Update and Poster

January 24, 2012
Something’s up with WordPress and the formatting of my paragraphs is all kinds of wonky, but I’m tired of messing with it. Please forgive the spacing problems and enjoy my post!
Let’s start with some gratitude. A big thanks to everyone that has reached out in the past couple days. The comments and messages I’ve gotten because of yesterday’s anniversary post put an enormous spring in my step, so thank you. Tons of you shared it, via Twitter and Facebook, with your friends, and I appreciate that, too – my blog hits yesterday were through the roof, making that spring in my step even more enormouser.
Then, there were all the people that weighed in on my gym dilemma – what a thoughtful and insightful bunch of comments those were! You all gave me a lot to consider and think about, and I’m still not 100% sure what I’m gonna do, but I do have more information to share. Here’s a speedy recap if you need one:
Spike has been forcing his wife Jessica to prostitute herself, and he’s been drugging her and convincing her that she’s the one that’s killed all those dead johns that she keeps waking up next to. Jessica finally gathers the strength to leave Spike and move back into her dad’s house, but soon thereafter, she realizes she’s pregnant with his child. A bitter Spike retaliates by kidnapping Jessica and burying her and their unborn child in the woods, where they both die from a lack of oxygen. Jessica’s sister, Kay, finds them a little too late, but thanks to a magical group prayer, their spirits return to their bodies and they come back to life.
Sorry – that was a recap of a Passions storyline from 2006-2007. Here’s what you really need to know:
A big, fancy new gym is opening nearby in a couple months, and they have a great deal if you sign up early. My membership at my current, no-frills gym is almost up, and there are pros and cons to both staying where I am and switching to the new gym.
You can read about all those pros and cons (and see my readers’ reactions) by reading my original post.
So here’s some new information: Yesterday I talked with the manager at my current gym. He confirmed that my membership expires on February 19th, and that I could renew for another year at my current rate ($199 for 12 months, paid upfront, which works out to $16.58 a month). I also inquired about a monthly rate, because I may want to extend my membership by a month or two until I see how things pan out at the new gym. Buying a month at my current gym would cost $35 (it’s more expensive, as gyms reward longer contracts with cheaper prices) but that’s actually a discounted price – I guess the manager likes me (which is fantastic, because I like him).
Later today, I’m going back to the new gym’s membership center and confirming a few things with them, and I’m taking my sister’s advice and reading the fine print about cancelling a membership.
At this point, I’m leaning towards trying out the new gym. Change is good. As far as money is concerned, the eventual increase in my monthly gym expenditures won’t be the end of the world, and any investment in my health is a good investment. Like many of you pointed out, I can always go back to my old gym, and I don’t see leaving my gym as a sign that I’m somehow a back-stabber or a traitor. More news to come.
Before I wrap this up, I wanted to share a fun graphic – it’s the poster that Whole Foods Pasadena created to promote my upcoming speaking engagement! Check this out:
Cool, huh? I love it. Am I gonna see you there? Are you going to bring all your friends? Gee, I hope so!
Keep it up, David!