YouTube tutorials and amateurs

I’m fascinated by YouTube tutorials, or at least the concept of them.

About 5 years ago my cousin bought a car that was stick-shift. Neither of his parents knew how to drive stick, so he taught himself through YouTube tutorials. And it worked! The worst part about driving stick is getting into first gear and making sure the car doesn’t die because otherwise you have to start all over again. I was very impressed, given that I didn’t really learn how to drive stick until last year.

I used to use YouTube as a college student to help me in my biology class and my husband used it for all of his calculus exams. I’ve done a couple of makeup tutorials and those have definitely made a difference, too.

What’s more, I read this inspiring story about a former NFL player, Jason Brown, who bought a farm and ALSO used YouTube tutorials (as well as advice from local farmers) to grow a substantial farm and donate the crops to local food shelters and other food organizations for the hungry.

I’m a complete amateur at snowboarding – I went for the first time 3 years ago a couple weeks after I got married and it was terrifying and I cried a lot but I did it and even liked it. My very generous in-laws got me a snowboard for Christmas the next year and I’ve only gone snowboarding a handful of times since then.

Last year I started looking at this YouTube channel Snowboard Pro Camp to get a better handle on how to do things, since you can only fall down a mountain so many times before you get a concussion. The tips have helped, although it’s harder to apply in reality.

I’ve watched videos from one channel titled “Charisma On Command” to learn how to better interact with people – I have a notorious RBF and a low, flat voice that can sound condescending if I’m not careful. And it’s actually worked for me – I could go on all day about all the things I’ve learned from YouTube.

The thing is, I’m just fascinated by YouTube tutorials and their power – they have far-reaching effects in the most positive way and I don’t think that anyone who ever created a YouTube video on how to grow cucumbers thought that their videos would inspire a football player to grow his own crops and donate them to feed the hungry.

Have you ever done a YouTube tutorial for anything? What is the best tutorial you have ever used?

Solo hiking to Donut Falls

A couple of weeks ago I hiked to Donut Falls. THERE WERE NO DONUTS. So disappointing.

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Not a single donut in sight

I’ve done solo hiking before, but it was always on trails I’ve already done. This one was completely new to me and honestly driving out there through the canyon was the most terrifying part of it – everyone and their dog had the exact same idea as me and people were dashing across the street and at one point I was convinced I was on a wild goose chase for this trail.

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This trail was surprisingly slick

But I found it! Because I’m not afraid to ask for directions from multiple sources at all times. I asked anyone – the directions at the trailhead were kind of vague so I asked some people where to go. And I figured that given that there were so many people hiking around me, this was probably the right trail. But then I took a left where everyone else took a right and I was hiking on a very slick trail all alone. I slipped so many times that I considered turning around, but I wanted to keep going. I eventually met up with some other hikers who were returning from the hike, who told me I was on the right way.

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It was a pretty easy hike for the most part. However, because of the slick snow that did exist, I ended up not making it all the way up to the best part of the falls. That was me not researching it enough, because even though I’d seen pictures like this:

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Image stolen from alltrails.com

All I was seeing was this:

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But apparently if I had kept going LEFT of the falls you see above, I would have seen a trail to go up and experience the falls in all their glory. But I saw a bunch of people sitting around taking pictures and I just thought, “oh, this must be it.”

So I climbed up those rocks in that picture and squatted in that tiny cave next to those tiny falls and took a couple of pictures and came back down and returned.

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I kept wondering if there was just another Donut Falls (you know, such a common name for waterfalls) and looked it up when I got back.

NOPE. JUST IGNORANT.

On the bright side, it means I’ll just have to go again.

SO YOU JUST HIKED THE WORST HIKE* IN THE WORLD

Congratulations! You survived. That was awful. You will never do this again.

Except you will.

The pain fades away. The sunburn peels and turns into a tan. The blisters turn into calluses. These are actually kinda cool, you think. Badass.

You notice how many people liked that photo you posted on Generic Social Media Site. A girl at work comments on your tan skin. Another coworker casually mentions to other people that you’re the “athletic type” and you’re not used to that label.

It feels good.

Your brain starts modifying the memories without you even realizing it. You’re retelling the story to friends and family, fondly reminiscing on the time you started sobbing hysterically because you couldn’t breathe and you needed your hiking partner to slow down, I’m begging you – you’re looking at the pictures and soon, you begin rationalizing, “That hike wasn’t that bad, I could probably do it again.”

Little do you know, that hike was the gateway drug.

You start casually researching other trails. Other hikes. You even start thinking of doing that hike AGAIN, maybe avenge yourself and do it better this time. Yeah, just do that hike again.

So you go again – and boy, wow, you were wrong, this hike still sucks.

It’s like with every mile there’s something new to make it worse – maybe the trail faded and all the trigger-happy cairn builders have built one too many misleading cairns. Or perhaps there’s a lot of loose rock on a steep hill and you’re remembering a little too vividly the friend of yours who broke his femur slipping on loose shale. Or you’ve encountered a boulder field – the trail has become more “scramble” than hike by this point and despite the fact that it looks to be a couple football fields long, it takes an hour to even navigate the damn thing.

Summiting, at this point, seems less desirable.

But your own fragile ego, your overwhelming pride – the part that wants to conquer this freaking mountain already and boast that once again, I DID THE THING – keeps you going. You start to experience nausea in the thinning air, but you keep going, step by step until you hit the top of the mountain.

Reaching the summit feels amazing because you’re finally done. They helicopter you off this thing, right?

No? You mean we WALK back?

The walk back is half-agony, half-I-need-the-thing-with-feathers. Sure, the trees are pretty, and yeah, that view was stunning, and OKAY, THAT MOOSE WAS COOL TOO, but oh geez this is awful I need this to end now.

Regrets. So, so many regrets.

It takes hours to get back – less than how many it took to get to the summit, but it feels like more because you were done with this hike by the time you made it to the top. But you make it back.

Such pain. Much blister. Very exhaust. Wow.

But now it’s been a week, and hey, who wants to go for a hike?

*Note: can also apply to marathons, or any activity that exerts you so far beyond your comfort zone you might as well have been catapulted into space

3 snags you hit when you start running

Pardon the pun, but beginning running always has a few hurdles to overcome. I think that figuring out how to breathe is one of the biggest, but here are a few others that might trip you up:

1. Not the bee’s knees – Ever notice how much you love and cherish your knees when they hurt? That’s what happens when you start running – they hurt.

If you have mediocre knees like I do, then you’ve probably experienced your share of knee pain. Here’s the good news: running is actually good for your knees. That news alone has kept me going.

The problem is that I’ve still had a lot of knee pain, although I’ve noticed that it’s diminished a lot over the past year. I think when you’re doing something new with your body, things start to hurt, like how much your thighs hate you when you do lunges.

This is what I recommend if you’re experiencing knee pain: keep running, but go slower. Try to avoid going downhill – although going uphill works my knees nicely.

2. Stomach issues – I’m sure you’re familiar with the phenomenon of “runner’s poop.” Oh, you’re not? Here’s a whole TREASURE TROVE OF ARTICLES ABOUT IT.

I usually get the urge to poop in the beginning of a run, usually after I’ve gone about a mile or so. When I’ve done longer distances, it comes and goes and that makes it more difficult. I usually keep running and see how I feel.

Sometimes the urge to poop goes away. Sometimes it doesn’t. If the urge gets bad, well – pray like crazy you’re out in the wilderness and not in a city. But if you’re in a city, hey, I’ve used Taco Bell on multiple occasions.

3. Cramps – Sometimes things just hurt for no explainable reason.

The worst part about training for my second marathon was all of the stomach pain I’d had. I’d been dealing with a lot of stress at the time (y’know, the stuff that I’d rather not explain but hope that you understand because we, as humans, are collectively stressed out) and my stomach was the victim of my turmoil. Running was rarely enjoyable, but I had promised my sister I’d run with her. And so I kept running, but it wasn’t easy.

Cramps, even more than shortness of breath, are what makes running so awful. I’m still figuring out how to deal with cramps. Usually it comes from telling myself, “Just run to that telephone pole and you can stop,” and when I’ve passed the pole, I tell myself, “Keep running until you hit the streetlight, then you’re good,” and I keep going.

But there are other times where the pain is just so awful that I have to stop. That’s okay. I’ve experienced some pretty terrible runs, but I’ve also had some incredible runs. The good ones are what keeps me going.

What are problems you deal with when running? I’d love to hear what you think.

Amateur book review: Wild

Given my ever-budding love for the outdoors, this book is like a rite of passage for outdoorsy women. Quick rundown: it’s a memoir by a woman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail four years after the death of her mother. She’d gone completely off the deep end, did drugs, cheated on her husband excessively, and got a divorce. This hike helped her come to terms with all of that. Here are the bad and good things about it:

The Bad

  • I struggled a lot with her life choices. She hurt people, and she hurt them bad. But that’s okay, because she was grieving! I’m sorry, but any kind of tragedy in your life doesn’t make it okay to be a self-centered, impulsive jerk. Someone has to pick up after you – I know this because I’ve seen it in my own life and I’ve seen it in other people’s lives. Death isn’t unique to most people, and everyone responds differently. This meme says it best:
    me too
  • I…I don’t feel like she really learned anything. I guess the lessons I wanted her to learn were different from the lessons she learned. This Goodreads review laid out all the flaws of the book in a hilarious way.

The Good

  • It was engaging. Maybe it’s my ability to listen to books at 2x on my phone, but I was absorbed from beginning to end. It was just plain interesting – I wanted to see what happened next and how she felt and how she’d respond. I think her writing corresponds to the kind of writing I do, and as a result I was just plain fascinated.
  • My favorite part was the part where she realized that hiking the PCT was nothing like she expected. This was more toward the middle of the book than at the end. She had expected a beautiful, cathartic amalgam in which she mulled over her mother’s death, her life choices, all with a gorgeous backdrop. She’d laugh, she’d cry, she’d watch sunsets in a contemplative manner, and she’d ultimately become one with the universe. Instead, she was forced to think only about her present situation: her aching feet, her obscenely heavy backpack (that she later nicknamed “monster”), her survival, whether or not she had enough water and food, etc. And that’s EXACTLY what I’ve experienced while backpacking long distances and hiking difficult mountains. People often talk about how good the outdoors are for mental health. Is it because it forces you to stop thinking about your problems and focus on, y’know, NOT DYING? Because that’s been my experience.

If you don’t read this book, you won’t miss much. I still enjoyed it, despite its flaws. It’s readable for sure, makes you want to embark on your own soul-searching journey, but please don’t be as thoughtless as her.

Sunday Stuffs, Vol. 1

Happy Sunday. I’ve always found my Sundays to be more lazy than Saturdays, so I’ve provided you with some reading on things that I liked this week, in Austin Kleon and Semi-Rad style. I’m also borrowing/stealing like an artist Semi-Rad’s tradition of using some random nature shot for these posts. I hope you like these links, and if there’s anything you’ve read that I haven’t yet, comment and let me know!

  1. Don’t be a flake.
  2. On popularity and likability. I think I vacillate between the two. It’s always hard to distinguish the difference.
  3. I really like this Semi-Rad blog. It’s everything I want my blog to be, and it’s just plain funny. Here’s how to help make the world feel less hopeless.
  4. Some gold from Austin Kleon: you are allowed to change your mind. I wish I had learned this a long time ago.
  5. And to finish off, here are 15 fun facts about my favorite romantic comedy, When Harry Met Sally. 

Have an awesome day.

It’s the most awkward time of the year

This time of year is about as awkward as walking down the street and seeing someone you know 200 feet away, but because you aren’t quite friends, you just look around until you’re 10 feet from them, smile at them and say “Hi!” and then walk away, hoping you never see them again. And then you run into them 5 minutes later. (This has happened to me while on my daily walks at work. Multiple times.)

The weather doesn’t know what it wants in life. It can’t commit. Sometimes it snows and you think, “Okay, winter’s here.” But then it warms up and melts and you’re thinking that you have at least another week of fall. But then the icy wind comes and you’re stuck inside but it looks okay outside and you’ve got mad cabin fever. It’s like the person you dated for a month, were “official” with for 3 days, and then they broke up with you in the most vague way possible that you thought you were still together for at least 2 more months. (This has also happened to me, as well as Ann from Parks and Rec.)

Which is why I have spent most of my day inside. Because the weather didn’t know what it wanted. Not because I forgot to make plans for the weekend. It’s the weather, not me. I’m the victim here.

In the meantime, please enjoy this beautiful picture of Utah scenery in its late fall glory, the lovely turd-brown that glazes everything.

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You stay classy, Utah