Category Archives: Living

Life Edited Apartment

This is probably the best designed small apartment I’ve ever seen.

Via Huckberry.

GORUCK Tough: A Community’s Tough Love

Originally posted at Huffington Post

This is the fourth post in a three part series on GORUCK and the GORUCK Challenge. Read my first post on the GORUCK brand, GORUCK: The Most Passionate Brand Following in the World, my second post on the GORUCK Challenge, The GORUCK Challenge: Bringing People Together Under Really Big Logs, and my third post on my completion of a GORUCK Challenge, Becoming GORUCK Tough.

The motto of the GORUCK Challenge is “Under Promise, Over Deliver.” While they sell the event that as 8-10 hours and 15-20 miles, the Challenge is almost always longer or farther in practice. In this spirit, I’m writing a fourth piece to conclude my three-part series on GORUCK and the GORUCK Challenge.

When I completed the GORUCK Challenge Class 110 in Baltimore this past February, not only did I earn a “GORUCK Tough” patch, but I became a member of the GORUCK Tough (GRT) community. Comprising only of the people who have completed a Challenge, it is a 2,000 person (and growing) Facebook group.

Like most other Facebook groups, the GRT group is a place where people share funny videos, post news stories (usually about GRT members doing amazing things in other athletic endeavors), and talk tough to the Cadre who run each Challenge. None of these things make the community unique. Instead, it is a deep and rich culture of charitable giving which has emerged from the GORUCK Tough community and best speaks to the character of its members.

GORUCK was founded by Jason McCarthy, a former Special Forces operator. Charitable giving is baked into the experience of participating in a Challenge, as GORUCK takes $10 out of every Challenge registration and donates it to the Green Beret Foundation, a group which supports wound Special Forces operators. For larger capstone events, GORUCK requires participants to do their own fundraising drives to support the Green Beret Foundation, with benchmarks of $1500-2000 per participant.

With this grounding in charity, it’s not surprising that alumni continue to give as a group. What is surprising is the degree to which the community is always there to support members in need.

Justin Grimm’s daughter Charlotte was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in February of 2010, when she was only two years old. Charlotte started on what would be two and a half years of treatment, including chemotherapy cycles and steroid treatments. As Charlotte, Justin and their family were going through the ordeals of Charlotte’s treatment, Justin decided to participate in a GORUCK Challenge.

“I signed up for the GRC to physically push myself knowing that mentally I had pushed through far more [with Charlotte’s cancer] than the devious mind of Jason could conjure up,” Justin says. Justin completed Class 049, where his classmate decided to do the Challenge in honor of Charlotte’s fight against cancer. Recognizing that they had done something special, Justin began to engage GORUCK alumni to help raise funds to support the Childrens Cancer Research Fund (CCRF).

2012-05-22-BraveCharlotte.jpg

Morale patches are a common item in the GORUCK world and soon Justin had a patch designed to honor his daughter and support the CCRF. Justin describes it, “The Brave Charlotte Patch…represents a ladybug on a stage dancing from the clouds into the sunshine.” It both captures Charlotte’s indomitable spirit and would serve as a way for the GORUCK Community to support research to help cure leukemia. Donors were recognized with the Brave Charlotte patches and to date the GORUCK Tough community has raised over $10,000 for the CCRF.

In addition to fundraising through patch sales, members of the alumni community began to hold Mini-GORUCK Challenges in support of Brave Charlotte and the CCRF. There have been over fifteen of these events so far with more to come.

The GORUCK Tough community support goes beyond people who are a part of it. In March, Chief Warrant Officer Edward Cantrell, a decorated Green Beret, perished while trying to save his two daughters from their burning home. This tragedy hit the GORUCK Tough family hard – the Special Forces community is close-knit and Cantrell was known by a number of the GORUCK Cadre.

Dan, a Challenge Cadre and Green Beret, was touched by this outpouring. “When CW2 Cantrell passed away a couple months ago, I had people from all over the country in the GRT family emailing me asking for ways to support his family. Crossfit Lakeland Florida dedicated an entire workout and raised money that was donated to the widow of CW2 Cantrell. Patches are in production right now and all funds from the sale of those will go to the widow of CW2 Cantrell. I could go on and on but the GRT family always steps up when somebody is in need.”

Cadre Dan sees this as a normal response from the community. “I have never met a more dedicated group of people who are willing to help and support each other. The absolute beauty of it all is that most of the GRT family has never met each other, but when a GRT family member needs help, the outpouring of support is second to none. “

As a relatively new member of the GORUCK Tough community, I’ve found the willingness of its members to support each other and the causes we believe in to be rewarding in a way I never expected. The culture of giving is something we all strive to bring to our lives beyond the GRT group, but to see it emerge from a backpack company and their unique challenge is remarkable.

GORUCK staff talk about the Challenge as delivering their own kind of “good livin’” – with the implication that intense physical exertion and no small degree of suffering in silence leads us to a more fulfilling way of living our lives. But looking at the community that emerges from these Challenges and it’s clear that good livin’ doesn’t just come from personal, physical accomplishments, but how we build a better world through charitable giving.

Some stories have happy endings and as for Brave Charlotte Grimm, after fighting leukemia for over half her life, she had her final treatment on April 22nd of this year. Her father Justin says, “She is doing better every day. Her energy is coming back and that is a bit of an adjustment too since it’s been so long since she hasn’t felt like garbage. We are so grateful to all of our friend, family and GRTs for their support, thoughts and prayers.”

Make It Count

Oh wow, this is freaking awesome. What I would give for a big chunk of cash and no limitations to travel for 10 days…

That said, it’s almost hard to believe that these guys traveled as far as they did in 10 days. I mean, a significant portion of that must have been solely on airplanes and they shot a lot of different scenes in the video. Which is just to say that it’s a cool trip, but not necessarily how I would travel for 10 days.

Standing Desk

I always thought the idea of standing desks was pretty silly. It struck me as the sort of thing that people who have always worked in a chair and never worked on their feet would think as a good idea. I’ve had a number of jobs that required I stand for 8+ hours at a time and standing isn’t actually that easy to do for a long time. Or, to put it differently, it’s physical exertion, not a natural thing (hence why Donald Rumsfeld was wrong in equating his work at a standing desk to prisoners being forced to stand for extended periods of time).

When I started work as a hotel doorman, despite being in great physical shape, I didn’t have the leg strength to comfortably make it through a shift. Some old timers taught me to stand directly in front of the stone benches outside the hotel if I needed to get support. Staff wasn’t allowed to sit down, but even leaning against something below the knees helped make standing in the heat easier.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen a lot of political types like myself switch to standing desks. In most cases, it’s as part of an effort to lose weight. Recently there have been studies which show sitting all day, even if you’re regularly exercising, can still “slowly kill you.” Despite this, I didn’t embrace the standing desk concept until recently.

As I’ve started to work out regularly, I find myself in the delightful position of constantly being sore (in a good way). I tend to go to the gym over lunch (and eat lunch at my desk), so this means I would be sore, in my office chair. My office has a vacant standing desk, so I started to spend time using it when I’m sore. Over the course of the last 6-8 weeks, that’s shifted from spending an hour or so standing while I work, to about 6-7 hours a day.

I have no clue how much of a physical benefit it is providing me, but I know it’s more comfortable after a work out and keeps my body loose. If you haven’t tried it, I say give it a shot and slowly work up your ability to stand and work. If nothing else, you could be cool like me and use a standing desk.

Mud Dog Run & the GORUCK Radio Ruck

I’ll be doing the Mud Dog Run this weekend. It’s sponsored in part by Flying Dog Brewery. Here’s the description:

The Mud Dog Run is a fun, high intensity, obstacle course run around one of Frederick, Maryland’s most beautiful farms. Starting at Crumland Farms, the Mud Dog Run will encompass 5 Kilometers of very tough terrain. The course will contain obstacles such as, climbing walls, cargo nets, mud pits, and featuring Crumland Farms 2011 corn maze (do not get lost!). This race is not for the faint of heart. If you like a challenge and some food topped off with Flying Dog beer at the finish, then the Mud Dog Run is just your type of race.

I’ve recently started working out religiously. I’m trying to get in shape for my wedding this coming spring. I was in pretty phenomenal shape in college and have watched that slowly disappear as I’ve spent years sitting at a desk like a lazy slug. It’s not been a fun process and it feels great to start shedding the pounds through some challenging workouts.

While I’m trying to get in shape, I also am holding onto the goal that in the future (hopefully before, but if not, after the wedding) I will do a GORUCK Challenge, a hardcore physical challenge put on by GORUCK, builders of some completely bomber military-style backpacks. I have a long way to go get to the point where I can handle their event, which often stretches over more than 20 miles and 10 hours. I’ve never been interested in running a marathon, but the GORUCK Challenge strikes a chord in me. I want to be able to do this, to meet the challenge. I’m viewing the Mud Dog Run as a miniature trial in my training, though the specifics have little in common to the GORUCK Challenge other than both being rough and tumble outdoor physical events.

Though GORUCK is based in Montana, the GORUCK Challenge has an office in DC. I reached out to them and they were kind enough to lend me a Radio Ruck for me to use this weekend at the Mud Dog Run. Their packs are built to take a beating and I’m sure this one will have some fun in the mud in Maryland.

Stay tuned for an after-action report on both the Mud Dog Run and how the Radio Ruck serves me this weekend…

78 Square Foot Apartment

The design here is less remarkable until you get to the desk/closet space. And the space is made smaller by the fact that there’s no bathroom, but a shared one with other apartments in the building. But still, pretty impressive.

The Cube Project

Via Think Progress, this is a really cool design project – a 10 x 10 x 10 house cube. It’s really advanced, green built and visually quite nice. Sadly with only 2 meters of head height throughout the cube, I probably would not fit in it. I also worry a bit about the odor of a composting solid waste toilet.

I think the green efforts are really cool, but the reality is this is more of cramming things in vertically than, say, designing things that fold on top of themselves or reuse the same space for different functions. Almost all of this is statically positioned. Of course, as a concept, the point is that we can live in much less space, in homes built for less money with green materials and designed to use much lower amounts of energy.

David Simon vs Eric Holder

Shot:

I want to speak directly to [showrunners Ed] Burns and [David] Simon: Do another season of The Wire.

–Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking at a Justice Department anti-child-abuse forum attended by Wire actors Wendell “Bunk” Pierce, Sonja “Kima” Sohn, and Jim “Prez” True-Frost.
The Daily What.

Chaser:

“The Attorney-General’s kind remarks are noted and appreciated. I’ve spoken to Ed Burns and we are prepared to go to work on season six of The Wire if the Department of Justice is equally ready to reconsider and address its continuing prosecution of our misguided, destructive and dehumanising drug prohibition.”

–The Wire creator David Simon, in an e-mail to the Times of London responding to Attorney General Eric Holder demand for an additional season of the acclaimed HBO series.
The Daily What