#4 A good massage therapist is hard to find

February 20, 2012 § 3 Comments

In the past 20 years I have been to many massage therapists; I have found only one whom I would recommend and whom I have been going to for the past 2 years.  I re-realized this fact again after I was involuntarily cornered into a situation without alternatives.

After I quit at a regular  gym and went CrossFit, the gym continued charged two more months of membership fee.  After I called, it gave me two options (in fact, it’s only one): one is to come back to continue my membership; two is to come back for a massage.  Of course, I opted for a massage.  I have one sentence to describe my experience: I did not enjoy even one stroke from this therapist.  I felt more irritated than ever after 10 minutes into the session.  It lasted for 90 minutes and I had to pay an additional $20 to make up the difference between her fee and my two months membership fee.

I’m a physically and mentally active person and I enjoy a good massage as a stress reducer.  Massage therapy is expensive;  When I am willing to pay $70/hr, the least I expect is to feel more relaxed and refreshed than the condition when I come in.  But this is not often the case with the majority of the therapists, mainly because the deep tissue message they offer never deep enough for me, speaking from my 20 years experience in search of a good therapist.  Eventually I ruled out all female therapists – they are simply not physically strong enough to provide this type of service.  Luckily, 2 years ago I found Zac, a Thai Yoga Massage therapist .  I wish he would never change his career as long as I’m around (selfish wishful thinking on my part).  I realized how precious Zac was when I was getting my aforementioned 90 minutes session.

I do understand that deep tissue massages require enormous energy from the therapists.  I always feel slightly guilty deep down regardless the payments.  I believe long term massage therapy can cause permanent harm on the therapists.  It’s simply too physically consuming.  I myself am used to give massages to loves one and friends.  I absolutely understand how much it takes to provide a good massage.

Have you had good luck with finding a good massage therapist?  How do you feel about massage therapy? Is it inhuman to pay for this kind of pleasure?

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#3 Walk The Way of St. James in June

February 19, 2012 Comments Off on #3 Walk The Way of St. James in June

Inspired by Julien Smith, I’m going to Northern Spain in June to walk The Way of St. James.  However, because of my work schedule I can’t walk the whole French Way; I will start from Leon.  I’ll finished the rest of it some other time in the near future.

I already bought the tickets for the flights to and from Madrid with a 3 weeks interval.  The next question is:  What Should I take with me?

Have been doing some research on the topic; I want to be basically prepared.  Learned from past experience, one can never be fully prepared for a trip.  The best prepared trip always turned out to be the most unexpected: I’m thinking about my Peru adventure.  I thought I already knew everything I needed to know before I embarked on it.  The conclusion is that I didn’t have enough warm clothes for the Camp Out on the way to Machu Picchu, didn’t expect that local people would pickpocket my smart phone, and didn’t know I had to ride a horse for 3 hours each way as transportation.  I bought wool long underwear (one pair of bottom and two sets of tops) from SmartWool especially for this trip, and I literally shivered from the beginning to the end of the trip.

I know my priorities.  If I get everything else wrong, I should have a pair of good walking shoes.  I’m still unsure about how serious the shoes should be.  All leather, waterproof, like combat boots, or light hiking?  Julien Smith wore five fingers all the way for 35 days.  If Julien was able to finish the whole way in five fingers, I sure can wear Five-Stars for 3 weeks.  But people are all different in so many ways; I’d be better off to put myself on the safe side.  I’ll wear my already broken in Vasque.

I’ll pack as little as possible and I’m not going to worry about the rest.  As long as I don’t lose my wallet I won’t get stranded.

Any suggestions?

#2 What you talk about when you talk about Denver?

February 17, 2012 Comments Off on #2 What you talk about when you talk about Denver?

Went to Denver for a three-day weekend in February.  Snowed heavily a few days before but I’m not a skier.  The temp was around 10.  The surprising fact to me was Denverians were not used to driving in the snow.  Lots of locals who under normal circumstances would drive stopped driving.  They competed for cabs with travelers.  We would stand in the cold for an hour at a time waiting for a cab.

The first thing that impressed me is Denverians are easy to smile and easy to make eye contact.   This is definitely a sign of civilization!  That is what refined and good people do.  I dare assume they are more honest and optimistic people than those of most of the places I have been to.  Kudos to Denerians!
Food is such a vital, and annoying at times, topic when we are on the road because we have to hunt and gather for every meal.  Denver is not in shortage of any kind of food.  We tried Thai, French, Brazilian, and all American.  I enjoyed them all.  Particularly, I swallowed 3 servings of the thick crispy bacon at 20th St. Cafe; I loved the taste and fresh salad buffet at Fogo de Chao; and I enjoyed the French Onion Soup and Duck Confit Hash at Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar.
Regardless of the cold weather and the endlessly waiting of the cabs, I enjoyed Denver!

#1 Should I Buy A Semi-Professional Camera?

February 9, 2012 § 1 Comment

I have been trying to find excuses to buy a more expensive camera for a while (a few months).  In the past few years, I went through a couple of Canon point-and-shoot cameras (a couple of hundred dollars each), and then after I got my first Android cell phone and then the iPhone, I feel it’s more convenient to use a phone as the camera.  In addition, the quality of the pictures using a cell phone is about the same as a point-and-shoot camera.

However, whenever I look at the pictures I took with a cell phone on a big screen, the quality deteriorates.  Disappointing.  I started thinking to find a better camera.   I asked around friends and colleges try to get a basic idea in terms of quality and price.

Things came to focus when I met two semi-professional photographers during a cross-box CrossFit competition.  Both of them used Canon EOS 7D.  They couldn’t stop raving about this model.  Holly is the director of Public Relations of a Bio-Tech organization, and had seen and used professional cameras.  Keith is a tech writer and had had his experience with good cameras.  Their recommendations are quite creditable.

The next question is if I spend $2,000 on a camera, how often would I use it to make the investment worthwhile?

I took most of my pictures on my travels, occasionally elsewhere, such as  at home, on the way to work or off work, or on my walks.  Would I carry this camera on my oversea trips? I’m not a vacationer, I’m an adventurous traveler.  I have to pack light.  I like everything in my luggage to be light and small in size.  This Canon EOS 7D is either to my standard of pack-ability.

Straddling on the fence, I started looking around for a good deal anyway, just to see what’s available out there.  First I searched amazon.com and got a basic idea on the price of the camera body for Canon EOS 7D.  and then I came to a realization that I don’t know enough to select the accessories I need.  By picking on Holly’s brain, I learned that I would be better off to buy from an online camera specialty store – either the store can hand pick a kit for you based on your need or buy a readily available kit, which sounds like a very intelligent idea.  Holly recommended Ryther Camera, which was where she bought hers.

I conducted some independent research on online camera stores and concluded that GetItDigital has a better deal with an accessory kit pre-assembled.

Only two steps remain for me to get my hands on Canon EOS 7D:

1) select the accessory kit that is suitable for me, and

2) pay for it.

I’m still straddling on the fence but more toward the buying side.

Update: I bought Canon EOS 7D! from Ryther Camera.  I will do a separate post on my buying experience.

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