Friday, May 3, 2013

Is America Jogging in Oatmeal?

I had a business teacher in high school that used to say "never jog in oatmeal." What he was referring to was the idea that working hard, but not smart, wouldn't get you to achieve a desired goal or outcome of a given situation. Plenty of Americans, as we have heard this morning from the federal government's report on jobless claims as well as new hirings, are getting back to work.

But, is this really a signal that the Great Recession of our time, at least here in the United States, has come to an end?

The New York Times Economix blog article, "Keeping Up, Not Getting Ahead" argues that indeed, no, we are not getting ahead in terms of absolute percentages of working adult Americans with jobs.  The article concludes that although unemployment percentages continue to drop (now registering 7.5% as of April 2013) the real share of working Americans as an overall population percentage has stagnated at around 58-59% (see chart above).

In other words, although the unemployment statistic keeps dropping (improving), there is little change in the overall number of people actively employed on a percentage of the total United States working adult population.

Interestingly enough, this seems to have been lost on the headlines, which continue to herald the "economic progress" of the so called "Recovery" and point to figures like the falling unemployment metric as proof that the Great Recession has ended.  This metric does not capture the much higher rate of people who are actually unemployed, a figure approaching 17 million American adults, and also a figure that is often brought up to counter such claims of economic recovery.

However, the real crux of the issue here is not the number of unemployed folks at any given point in time, but the overall shift the country has experienced from a population of working adults to increasingly one of adults receiving federal, state, and other benefits (think permanent disability, etc.).

It remains to be seen what, if anything, will happen to change this trend. It certainly does not bode well for future generations of Americans if more than 4 of 10 working age adults are not a part of the American work force.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Fishing Season Opens

It looks like the folks at the WA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife will be opening access to Beehive Reservoir and the surrounding backcountry roads beginning this Friday April 26th. I'm excited to finally get out the rod and reel and get to some catch and release fun. Where do you like to fish?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Ski Season Ends

Well, the ski season at Mission Ridge has finally come to an end. I tried skiing last weekend in the spring slop, and had a miserable time until I finally hit a little stretch of powder near Windy Ridge access.

It's been a great season, and I am so glad I bought my season pass. Here's to hoping for another great season next year. I'm looking forward to skiing my first double black diamond next season too.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Guns & Buns

I've started working with a personal trainer at our local community fitness club, and it is quite an adjustment. My muscles are sore, but I can already, even after 3 weeks, feel an improvement in my muscles mass and fitness level.

For those unaware, I have embarked on a personal health and wellness plan that began last July 2012 and is ongoing. Here is a brief overview on how I have progressed thus far:

  • July 2012 - After reaching a body weight of 330 pounds, my health was starting to impact my ability to do the things in the outdoors that I loved. So, after getting a green light from my physician, I began the Weight Watchers 360 program.
  • September 2012 - After about 3 months, I lost 30 pounds total. I started feeling the urge to increase my activity level and fitness to begin to accelerate weight loss but also pick up significant muscle mass.
  • December 2012 - I purchased an accelerometer via the Weight Watchers program called "Active Link" that monitors my physical activity level. My weight was about 290 pounds at this point right before the New Year.
  • January 2013 - After the holidays, I chose to switch from my weekly weight watchers meetings to the online format, and replace my meetings with more workouts at my local gym. I enrolled in the club's third "Biggest Loser" program (based on the nationally syndicated TV show) and entered the program at about 289 pounds.
  • April 2013 - I have been involved with the Biggest Loser for 12 weeks now, doing all sorts of activities. I currently weight about 275 pounds but I have gained a significant amount of muscle mass. For example, in my strongest muscle group (legs) I can now leg press over 300 pounds of weight, or do 3 set reps at 280 pounds!
  • Looking ahead, I plan to continue to accelerate my health by working with a personal trainer and nutrituionist.
  • I am looking forward to climbing Mt. St. Helen's in June and possibly running in the Missoula 1/2 Marathon later this summer.

My ultimate goal weight is toned and muscular at about 165 pounds, a healthy BMI range. I also want to run a marathon and summit Mount Rainier within the next 12-18 months. Wish me luck!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Suzie Turns 25,000!

My car, affectionately called "Suzie the Subie" or just "Suzie", turned over its 25,000th mile last weekend on my trip to the San Jose, CA area from Wenatchee, WA and back again.  This wouldn't be too remarkable, except when you consider I have owned the car for exactly 12 months. That's right...I drive a bit more than the average American. I've read certain sources that indicate the average US adult drives between 7k-16k miles a year. Not bad when you consider some of the nasty road conditions that keep many folks close to home in the winter months. One of the reasons I like Suzie is that she pretty much goes anywhere, pavement or not, snow or not.

To date I have successfully driven the Subaru Outback (stock everything, no lift kit) over unimproved dirt mountain passes, through white out blizzard conditions in the Cascades, and high mileage voyages to the Western Rockies, as well as countless miles of open pavement on the highways and Interstates of the Pacific Northwest and California.

I've been to some great places with Suzie in the past year, a few of which include (in no particular order):
  • Missoula, MT (furthest eastern journey to date, approx. 400 miles east of home)
  • Cour d'Alene, ID
  • Spokane, WA
  • Kelowna, BC (furthest northern journey to date, approx. 300 miles north of home)
  • Portland, OR
  • Vancouver, BC
  • Pullman, WA
  • Whidbey Island, WA (furthest western journey to date, approx. 250 miles west of home)
  • Winthrop, WA
  • Yakima, WA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Bellingham, WA
  •  Bend, OR
  • San Jose, CA
  • Santa Cruz, CA (furthest southern journey to date, approx. 900 miles south of home)
I can't wait to take Suzie even further afield, with trips planned to Anchorage, Alaska and Houston, Texas in the mix in the next few years I'm sure her odometer will continue to climb rapidly.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Road Trippin' to San Francisco

Carrie and I are headed to San Francisco after work today via Hwy 97 and Interstate 5. We are going to attempt to drive straight through, so bring on the caffeine! We hope to reach San Francisco by about 8am tomorrow morning to see my brother for Easter weekend.

Carrie has never been to Alcatraz, so I think we will likely do that and a few other S.F. sights. If the weather cooperates we will also likely head down to Santa Cruz for a beach day. I doubt we will be swimming though, I think the temperatures are still in the 40s for the ocean at this time of year.

At any rate, I'll be back in North Central WA on Monday for work, so this will be a whirlwind trip. Thankfully I have the Outback ready with a fresh oil change and a full tank, so the drive should be nice.

If possible we may stop late for dinner in Bend, OR...a great place for those whom have never been. Great food, breweries, and all around good climate for outdoor sports make Bend very similar, albeit larger in population, to Wenatchee.

Cheers and have a safe, enjoyable Easter holiday.