Day335 deep end

I plunged myself in the deep end of whatever this is. No I am not in a pool. Month of July was ugly. It was not depression. I don’t have a feeling of a giant weight being pressed down on me like before during January. Instead, I am just out of steps with life and the world. I feel I am really out of sync with everything I do.

I haven’t run much, maybe once or twice. Everyday I woke up and thought I am going to run today, but moment later, I decided to wait till evening and by evening, I would defer to morning. Really what is wrong with me.

It is not just running but everything. Nothing really accomplished. I still went to work, working from home that is. I went physically into the company twice. I thought change of environment would be good, but it made no difference. I might though going to go into the company more often. I think our business would ‘reopen’ in September, if not by October. Glad July was over.

I went camping once. It was glamping – glamorous camping. Yet it was almost a disaster. I forgot to bring the stove and fire. Also no ice box on a 100 degree weekend (38C). It was not a last minute thing, but my packing was last minute. And guess what, I found my fire lighter in my pack once the trip was over. What did I eat? I stopped by a chick fil A on the way there and ordered two chicken sandwiches. Was glad the food was not spoiled by the next day.

July was like that. I felt into one mishaps after another. Nothing really critical but it is just annoying. I feel really foolish. I don’t know what I am going through. Maybe it is cabin fever or whatever it is.

Thank for listening to my ranting.


Day334 enough goofing

After watching tons of videos I think I got this. At first I was surprised the fact some streamers quit their day job/schools so they could stream full time. It got me thinking if there is really that much money to be made in being a streamer / or video uploader?

The answer I found is yes and no. While the top few streamers are definitely made enough money to be comfortable for the rest of their life as an average person, it is no where near when compare the ‘main stream’ media in Hollywood or other sport celebrities are making in their field.

Streamers are still very poor compare to the tradition entertainment/media. Yet, this new media is definitely taking the world by storm and has turned everything up-side-down.

Now anyone can be a streamer. The barrier to entry is quite low. All you need is a computer (or phone), a video camera, and a mic.

I got to say though, 99% of the streamers act and talk the same way, given maybe the demographic is quite young (teens or early twenties). They are just copy cats. (As an aside, I love PewDiePie, how he sits on the floor and stream, being non-traditional or counter to the cult he started, though he is definitely still the leader).

It made me think back to when I was in middle/high school where I had to do fund raising for a club or for a trip. Streaming platform now actually doing this with the young crowd – raising money through them.

I have been watching videos on Facebook, Youtube, and Twitch. They all have some type of payment system for fan to give money! Twitch is even one step further to have a “goal” build in and is visible on their video. It gives a viewer a sense of participation. I got to give and I got to help out the streamer in reaching his/her goal.

My thought is the platform is using the streamers to farm for revenue! Yes the platform is making money from advertisment as well as a cut from the viewer’s donation!

It seems the big platforms finally have a way to to monetized social media in a very big way!

They got even the little guy to buy into their system. Those that have one or two viewers, and those that have thousand of viewers. And any who made it into the millions are gods! They all doing the same thing and accepted the platform as the fact of life, and that they have to give a cut, because they don’t have the bargain power!

Past couple weeks I have been just following the gods. I didn’t know much of them at first, but now Mr Beast, PewDiePie, Pokemane, Graham Stephan, etc. ya, I know them.

My experience is most of the time, I just can’t stand the randomness of their aimless chats or stunts. Watching them is like watching the Disney channel. I am way over of their target age group. I felt like almost a grandpa to them! Most are in their college/high schooler age, but they all talk like they are still in their early teens! For a long time I too live like a teenager and way into my adult life. In a sense I still miss those days of playing games and hanging out with friends doing stupid stuff. (DudePerfect videos, you get what I mean). I still love minecraft and many other video games.

I got to give it to them though. To be able to draw a crowd, no less a million plus people to their content is a big accomplishment and naturally there has to be a way to compensate for their time and effort. Most of these people are not one-off. They have talent to consistently entertain people (the mass) daily! Their videos go “viral” every single upload.

My favorite so far is a minecraft player, named TechnoBlade, who was considered to be the best pvp, player battling against player. Though now some say he is no longer the best, but he is still very very good.

I like all his videos because he is considered a dark horse and out of no where he comes and take the win. He is devious, at least that how he portraits himself to be. (Watch the Potato War). But I like how he is also “clean” in his speech – he said he does not curse so as to stay on the channel and not be banned, Because he wants his money! I think he is a good guy.

I just love the most is the way he thinks and it is borderline psycho…. Somehow I found that is so thrilling when I watch his videos. He is just bad (but in a very good way). I want to be just as bad as he is! A rebel! People just hates him and afraid of him. Yet he helds no personal grudge. He just likes to dominate in a game and he is so good at it. His videos are very long (full stream of 3-4 hours) – he does not edit much.

He sometimes go into telling random stories. He is very good at that. For example he went into a long way of telling that he lost his soap box one day during his college years, by telling us about lasagna and chocolate bars. Not sure how they were all related, or anything got to do with the video game he was playing. But it was very entertaining nonetheless, because you feel like it has something to do with what he was doing or about to tell you. In the end, it was just one big story that doesn’t got to do with anything. Some viewers blame him for being click bait. Because you would expect there would be some conclusion or significant why he is telling you, but none. It was all for entertainment to keep you on the stream as he played his video game.

So what this all about? Well there are entertaining stuffs out there even if it is just mindless chattering. Maybe something for everyone.

-Some are paid well enough that they quit their normal jobs.

-My observation (feeling) is that the big guy (corporations) is actually not giving these streamers enough of the advertising money they are getting.

-Hard to say…but it does open up a new market place. New jobs for the millenials / post-millenials. In a way I feel sorry for them.

-Society as a whole are now turning away from the traditional media (claiming they are fake), and turning to the new “social” media.

I’m more on the boomers side because I like my content to be coming from the mainstream media (the establishment) and not from the everyday joe. I get my news/entertainment from NPR and CNN, NYtimes, etc. The boring stuff, are the stuff I like!

What this mean to me? It never occurs to me a cultural shift is taking place and is accelerating.

I never have considered myself as part of this. But now evaluating that I am part of this new media age because I am a blogger!

My Worpress blog would not able to make much money or any actually. But I am out there too to gain “followers”, and “paid-subscribers” and “viewers”.

The idea of making money off of sharing the normal life experience seem to rub me the wrong way and maybe to you readers as well.

However, that is what some people are doing, and they are very good at this too. We just don’t realize it. I would too be going into all the streaming if I am good at it.

It makes me evaluate who I want to sponsor/support. I have been giving a few dollars here and there to various people I follow (like the hikers, Patreon people, freelance programmers, and gamers).

That now to me is the craziest thing because without realizing, I might be giving to people who really don’t need my support because they are definitely well to do (for example Mr Beast), though they all say they want your sponsorship!

I understand about fostering the things (art) you enjoy so that the artist could continue to produce their content.

I am not saying don’t support them, but realize that they maybe making tons of money off you and laughing all the way to the bank.

I have a lot to say about Mr Beast, because his videos are ones I enjoy a lot, but I will leave it maybe for a future post (hedonism, and insane money giving – not jealous here; just interesting observations).

I have just randomly chatted away like one of those videos I watched. Have a good night. Click bait.


Day333 content

I like special numbers. There is a thing my friend got me started. Like if you look at the time and the number repeats itself, such as 09:09 or 12:12, I would make a mental note – Hey this is special I should pause and remember it! Crazy right!? I have been doing it…for years…it is not like I am at 12:11 and wait for it to turn 12:12. It has to be unexpected. You would think it comes by every hour and every day, but usually such occurance is rarer than you think and that you only notice it comes only every once a while.

Another thing I do is if the month and date ended up repeating, e.g., Aug 8. This I do try to remember and wait for and I try to line up the time too Aug 8, at 8:08. I usually miss it too. I missed July 7 by a couple days.

Any way, I like to make a wish during that time. Call it Prayer or whatever. That is my special moment. You should do it too.

What all this random gibblish all about? I watched a lot of Youtube videos over the weekend. They are really all gibblish but they are also so attrative, that I can’t pull myself away. They draw eyeballs, at least mine!

I have been thinking too I need content for my blog. Not that drawing eye balls is my goal. For me, since day one I didn’t expect readers/followers but was so happy too when I got a few followers on my blog. There are a ton of bots or zombies but they are okay — nothing I can do. This is a public blog so…even if it is private I don’t think you can kick bots from following.

I feel blogging is like doing a youtube video, except maybe a lot easier. You have to put a lot of time and planning in a video even if it is just random gibblish.

So the concern of a youtuber is a blogger’s concern too. By thinking too hard on having content, it becomes like one of those youtube vids, zero content, but people still watch them.

I just wasted a post…Day 333 should have been a special blog post. Heehee, maybe this contentless post will draw in some eyeballs.


Day332 Youtube-1

I caught up on Youtube over the weekend. I have been living under a rock!

I didn’t know many of the Youtbe celebrities (US). In 2019 one of the biggest news was PewDiePie was being surpassed in ranking of the most subscribed Youtube channel by an Indian music channel and Mr Beast was doing a campaign to save him by asking people to subscribe! I didn’t know either of them at the time (I might have watched some Mr Beast Minecraft videos, but I didn’t pay so much attention at the Youtuber.

I saw the Super Bowl and saw Mr Beast’s stunt there but his message was totally over my head at the time. My relatives who were watching the Super Bowl with me was asking me what was that about!

I had my laugh this weekend watching many of their videos. Don’t even get me start on, which tries to emulate Youtube success.


Day331 Your Turn

I don’t usually share other people’s content. I just don’t promote other people’s sites or writing. It is just not me. Maybe because if I draw attention to other people, I will draw attention to myself. And my MO is not to draw attention to myself.

But I just came across a content I just want to share. I have been thinking of “how to remake my life”. Not sure why I want that to be in quote. I feel like and I know it when I started this blog is that this is my life project. I want to make a new version of me to chase after my dream, and this blog would hold me to that promise.

The video from Tim & Fin resonates so much. I watched their travel video to Vietnam and I was saying to myself, I want to to do that. Is it possible to get on a bike and travel across a foreign country without knowing the language or culture (I’m from Vietnam but to me it is foreign land).

So here it is. Of course it is on Youtube.

Watch it and tell me what you think.

I might not be as radical as them to quit my day job and travel around the world. However, it does draw to the fact what is more important in priority. Doing the things you like and have your work support what you do – even if it calls for quiting the normal 9-5 job.

They are really smart people.

Their other videos are great too. I haven’t watch much, because I just discover their channel.


Day330 clubs

One benefit of associating with a running club is you get a chance to run with them. And it is a place of exchanging ideas and learning of new races.

I started out running by myself a few years ago. While there is the internet, but a lot that I read or find out usually a bit different from actual.

In the beginning I was looking for races to run in Virginia. While races are out there, you just need to find them. A lot local races were not reviewed and their event dates usually known only to the “insiders”. There were a lot of surprises.

So I haphazardly signed up for races. Some were within my expectation and some were a bit different. I liked all my races though. At the beginning I did not even know what I like. I searched for DC races, and somehow I totally missed DC Rock n Roll but found the Potomac River Marathon. They were vastly different from each other. One was 30,000-40,000 runners the other was about 100. I did not know much. I did signed up for both. I was glad I did not have a strong preferences otherwise I would have missed out. For example, when I signed up for the Potomac Marathon, what I was looking for at the time was a big atmosphere race that a Rock-n-Roll gives, which the Potomac Marathon was not. However, now a day, I prefer low key, backyard informal race more like the Potomac Marathon.

In one of the events I signed up I got connected to an informal meetup running group. I have been running with them ever since.

Those were the early days of trial and error of meeting people and doing races. I am still doing it for most part.

Why I am writing all these, is it is easier to do things with a group. I have been running more and more and now dabbling into the ultra and trail running. I want to meet similar people and train together with them.

Over the weekend, I got a sense of how that feel like. It was a community of ultra runners. The people there were training together for their ultras.

We don’t have groups like that here in my area. Maybe they do exist but I have not bumped into them yet.

The race director there formed their group of trail running because they don’t have one. That was a big inspiration for me. I am not going to form one myself though.

But the energy and inspiration I got from them was blood pumping. What I meant was like my friend – he ran all night at the camp while he was there! Even at 3 AM in the morning, he was still running. That was to me inspiration and motivation.

I am looking for a small group of 10-20 people like that… locally if possible. PA or WV is not too far away either, so I don’t mind a bit of travel to meet up to do runs.

Future plans: from the past weekend, I learned of a few races from their group and I want to run those, such as, Eastern States, Black Forest, Hyner Ridge! They called them their triple crown. They are hard races!

You need serious support group to do those races. It always has been my plan to connect with people and recruit them to be my pacers/support.


Day329 running weekend

After three weeks of staying inside and being inactive, I went to Tyrone, PA and had a weekend of just to run. It was one of my first running camp ever. Unofficial running camp. The RD said most people only run for one day, but my friend and I stayed the whole weekend (I arrived on Saturday night).

I have been very low key after getting back from Atlanta. First was the self quarantine, but after that was done, I was just low in energy and motivation. I found excuses not to run every day either due to the heat, or not enough time, or rain. Can you believe we had thunderstorm every evening last week? And every day was 100 degree?

I went to Camp Anderson this Saturday and Sunday. It was a virtual run. They called it run your own race RYOR (like bring your own beverage). The race was organized by the Allegeny Running Club. This was their second year hosting. Unfortunately due to COVID the event has to be virtual.

We all picked a day to go there and run. Most would pick a weekend. I think there were 30 plus people signed up. With this past weekend being the last weekend of July, a lot more people showed up. We had a night of free camping too.

It was a tight knit community. My friend is from Morgantown, WV and he was there was there after work on Friday. He brought couple of his people up from West Virginia. He was posting on his facebook page about doing loops at 3 AM. I like running friends like that – just going and run in the middle of the night or at any hours. I was so excited. That is the crazed passion I have and Aaron was one of the first people I met who shares the same craziness like me.

Our race does not require us to start at a particular time. It was an endurance race. We could do a 3 hour, 6 hour or 12 hour run. It just required us to run the time in a single event. Majority chose to do the 12 hour. My friend did the 12. He started at 11 PM on Friday and ran to 11 AM the next day. He was the only one doing it in the middle of the night. The rest went to sleep. Night time running was hard and I found that out when I arrived on Saturday evening and had my own night time running.

I arrived late because I was dragging my foot the whole saturday morning. I finally got into my car by noon and it took about 4 hours to get to Pennsylvania but I ran into heavy traffic on my way out of town. I was falling asleep behind the wheel. After couple pit stops for coffee, I arrived at the camp. I started my run at 6 pm, planning to run till midnight.

Aaron was still there. He joined me on my first loop around the camp because I said I didn’t have the course map. He said, he would guide me for my first loop. That was amazing endurance for him haven’t been sleep for more than a day and has done 12 hour run the previous night and was still out there to do a loop with me. I am telling you it was not easy. The course was not easy either.

The course is over all was not the most difficult one I have done. It was about two miles long, which is not bad…shortest ultra course ever. The first mile is just running around the field. I know. When I first signed up, my thought was this is like in elementary school where we had to run around the field to do our mile. How can that be fun? Now years later, we consider that is enjoyable given there are 10-15 people cheering you each time you pass by.

The second mile is climbing a ridge. It is not the highest ridge I ever climbed. It is just couple hundred feet. The first few times, you can run it but as the night progressed, running became walking/crawling. The elevation wears your muscle out. I am all sore after two days of doing this.

By the 7th loop, I said to myself I don’t think I can do any more. The heat got to me. I was running much faster than I thought. I pushed on doing the 8th loop. When I reached the top of the climb I felt light headed. And after taking several steps, I felt naseated and I started throwing up. Everything came pouring out. That was the end of the night for me. I felt better actually now but I felt it was wise to call it a night. I only finished 4 hours.

I stayed for the night. The next morning I felt better. More people came. We started early. I tried again to run my 6 hours. I did it this second time with no problem. After four laps, I was basically crawling. My goal was only to do eight. I was much weaken because I did not eat the night before. I know too not having run for three weeks, my cardio strength has declined. I did pull 10 laps by the 6th hour and finished before the heat of the day kicked in. My last lap did not count because I came in after the 6th hour but I am happy nonetheless. It was hard with the heat and climb.

Mileage wise it was not a lot. 20 miles in 6 hours? Normally that is a time for a marathon or a 50k. I take the 20 mile this time.

I stayed for the rest of the day to watched people struggled their remaining 12 hours. The final field was only four people. One was struggling quite badly at the final two hours. The day was hot. I passed by a bank on my way home, the temperature showing there was 99 degree, and at that time it was past 6 pm. The temperature must be over 100 during the afternoon. I think one runner was suffering from heat exhausion (like I did the night before).

It was a wonderful weekend for me. Camping, running, meeting new people. I felt it was one amazing weekend.


Day328 some math

I spent a few days exploring various models hoping to get a sense of where this coronavirus is heading. Since I was planning a trip back to Atlanta, and I hear all this news about a surge of infection and I can see that myself, so I was trying to see if there is a maximum and how long will it last.

The short answer is no one knows. I think when I arrive in Atlanta it might be the peak of the crisis.

Things are not looking good in Atlanta. They are having 4000 infections a day in Georgia, and it is possible they might get to 10,000 like in Florida and Texas in next couple weeks. (Made me wonder on Georgia, Florida, Texas, or Arizona’s reopening stategy)

10,000 is high. I don’t think will ever get to 20,000. I finally understand the magnitude of the number. I was before thinking hey we have a million people in a city and 10x that in a state, 10,000 is just a fraction (1%, or 0.1%). Many people were saying the news are over hyping the severity of the pandemic.

I almost attempted to do my own forecast but I found many models were already available on the web. One was the SIR. (there is a website from someone making this very easy).

It divides the whole population into three groups, the Susceptible, the Infected and the Recovered.

An observation I had, was most models focus on the initial weeks of the spread where the infection point is small (like 1-1000). The time frame was usually the first 4-8 weeks.

I need a model where we are in the midst of the pandemic, where the infection is every where! And it is no long weeks, we are into months.

Another observation is most models (99%) expect to reach a steady state after a time, that is the infection would die out! This might be true with most outbreaks. Did they say there could be a second wave?

The total of infections/deaths curve when graphed would be an s curve (logistic curve). And the rate of infection would be a bell shape.

Seeing some S shape curves in a few states make me to believe too the pandemic was over.

Something I didn’t understand when I took the probability class in college when the professor kept talking about density function and I kept thinking what the heck it has to do with density.

Suddenly after couple decades, it connected. I was dividing the rate of infection by the population and graphing it. It came to me this is a density curve. I had an ureka moment. This stuff is related to probability. You can calculate the sum of the area under the curve to find the probability of an event (I used to hate words like that: Event, Random Variable, Function)

Summary/out take. I stopped my work. I am too lazy to pull data and do the math to carry it to the end. It takes too much time and effort. Playing around with different models I had some learning experience and it was useful. The practical aspect is I might be arriving in Atlanta at the peak of things this time around. Does this change my mind about taking my trip? Probably not.

Morality side: there was a sense of ‘righteous’ anger from people when they saw certain segment of the society blatantly ignoring social distancing by going to bars and beaches in the middle of a pandemic just for their pleasure, making the pandemic worse for everyone. I do too, so I have to balance out whether to travel or stay at home. (I heard this on NPR on Friday morning jul 24, also social shaming might not work so well).


Day327 MCM canceled

It is official. There won’t be a Marine Corps Marathon this year.

Not disappointed at all since this has been the pattern of last four months. Kind of expecting it because MCM is a big event and there is no way to host any race over 500 people people in this period much less the MCM usually draws over 30,000 just runners alone, not counting volunteers, law enforcement officers, street performers, vendors, and spectators. You are probably looking at a crowd twice to three times that size.

I still have couple more fixed (known) races, like the Richmond Marathon, Grayson highlands, Laurel Ultra, Highbridge Ultra. All those are really iffy now whether they will be held. All these have smaller crowd maybe 100-150 people except for the Richmond Marathon. Highbridge probably has even less (50 runners?) but Richmond likely is going be canceled (It has several thousand people).

Other than this I was kind of optimistic on Old Glory (November) and another ultra – something Lake. I have not signed up but waiting till the last possible minute so as not to be disappointed.

Just the other night, I was debating whether to run the JFK again, they accept 1200 runners! It is a big race, and I decided to sit it out this year. JFK is also very expensive ($300) and I didn’t want to sign up and get the email later saying it will not be taking place.

I have high hope for a Fat Ass run (Philadelphia). I didn’t get to do it last year due to my trip to Chile, so I will try not to miss it this year.


Day326 Musing

This is a bit of a musing. I might get censure by this.

How bad the COVID-19? I am not a scientist or what they call it an epidemiologist.

We know it is bad when stores were closed and we get sent home. It has been more than 4 months now for my area. 6 months since it was first arrived in the US.

We saw other countries dealing with it, first China, then Korea, Italy and Spain before it got to the US. At that time it was worrying, but we still went in with doing our thing. Ad a matter of fact, I went and ran a marathon in California, around the time the first outbreak started in the US. And of course we blew it. At first, it was one or two states. But then the virus spreads uncontained to the rest of the country. By March 7, I remember clearly because a few days before, we have our first case in the washington DC area, MD, DC, and Virginia. I was worry whether my ultra marathon would be canceled that Saturday. Our race director decided to go on with the race.

Following next few days as cases “skyrocketed”, many businesses started closing and we were in a “lockdown”. The politicians didn’t want to use the word lockdown because we do not want to be like Italy or China. We were urged to stay at home.

The next few months, things started to be better. Most of the cases were happening in New York. Most of other states were spared. We slowly reopened.l businesses.

I live in Northern Virginia, Washington, DC suburb. Life has for most part returned to a bit more normal, as we are in the phase 3 of the reopening. My company is still has the work-from-home policy.

Now we are seeing an uptick in the infection number. Many southern states are entering a hotzone, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, Texas, and many others.

Couple weeks ago, I traveled to Atlanta. There were concerned that I was heading into a hot zone, where cases were not as low as here where I am.

The uptick of cases bring to light the flashpoint – whether to close/revert the reopening decision, or keep going forward with the reopening.

Our nation is still as divisive as when we first entered this crisis. Many are in favor of reopening, such as having children back in the classroom. Many people – mostly politicians still arguing whether wearing masks is necessary. It is like a no-brainer for many people, yet there is a strong resistant in making this a mandatory in public places.

So here I am, I am planning a second trip to Atlanta. It seemed on my first trip there, I survived! The question is how scary/dangerous this COVID? What is statistics? What does it mean to me?

I get it that there are people who for “everyone stay put for 2-3 weeks, listen to the health official and we bend the curve”, However, it has not worked in the US. Why? Because people wouldn’t listen (including our top officials).

The question is how serious it is? Are people overeacting?

So I was trying to find some metrics to see what is safe/not safe. You would think there would be something like this available right? Some type of geiger counter like for radiation, but for COVID-19.

So unable to find any, I think New York is the most sensible state. Yes, they had a big problem before, but their ways work. They put out one for their travel restriction that anyone coming into New York is from a state that has more than 10 infections per 100000 people, should go into a 2 week quarantine.

By this standard, by now majority of the states (22), are on the quarantine list (I know, it is still under 25, not a majority yet).

Is this standard too strict? I was trying to determine should I travel to Atlanta at the end of August? Based on this alone, the answer is no. When I was in Atlanta at the begining of July, Georgia had 27 daily infections per 100000 people. Now it is over 40 and is continue climbing up. A few states Florida, Texas, Arizona are between at 40-50. How bad is it?

I was thinking where is the red line? What is the maximum possible? Is it 3 times that or 5 times that? I think I would probably be reluctant to travel if it is at 50-60 mark. 80-90? 150? Any state ever reaches 150? Will we have a real shut down if we get to 350? At what point where the system will become ‘critical’ or uncontaineable?

Those states having over 40 daily infections/100000 are in serious problem? They are saying it is not as bad as what New York was. Georgia doesn’t think so. The governor is sueing cities mayors over issuing mask mandate in the mist of this! This is on another level of insanity. Florida yesterday implemented curfew. Arkansas announced mask requirement (one of the states that was against having one).

All eyes are currently on the southern states Florida, Texas, Arizona, California, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Personal experience is when I was in Georgia, man, people there were not that worry anout having a mask on. I was seemed like an alien for going into a store with my mask. I was thinking, this is a hot zone, yet no one seems to be much concern about it.

Who to listen? Our president or the health officials? I love to listen when New York Governor laid it out. President is name calling. Is it the left trying to make the situation seem more dire than it is so that the President would lose his reelection?

This blog was going to go on further on the number crunching that I have been doing last two weeks, but this has gotten too long, I will do it maybe on another day.

P.S. I self-censored myself, so no number will be shown. I was going to delve into a lot of numbers. 🙂