Friday's Links February 4

In Washington, apart from trying to figure out the state’s upcoming budget deficit, legislators are discussing whether coffee should be the state’s official beverage. link

Starbucks is offering a guarantee for its Via instant coffee line. If you’re not satisfied, take it back to the store for a free 12oz bag of ground whole-bean coffee. link

Bad news for men who like coffee. Researchers at the University of Bristol (England) found that drinking coffee hurts men’s performance under stress. Women, on the other hand, performed better after drinking coffee. link

It looks like Lavazza is going to fight it out with Starbucks for the Indian coffee market. link

Andrew Stark, management professor at the University of Toronto, discusses some of the benefits and criticisms of the fair trade movement, in a book review of The Fair Trade Revolution. link

More competition for the China coffee market. True Coffee, a Thai company, plans to try its hand at the market by opening 15 cafés in Shanghai this year. link

Rose Tosti from Seattle weekly has a full-weekend round-up from the 2011 NW Regional Barista Championship. link

The engineering firm Bechtel is supporting the Washington State University College of Engineering and Architecture by donating a year-long supply of free coffee for the students’ study area.  link

On a related note, perhaps someone should supply the WSU basketball team with some coffee. link

Come on Cougs, you’re better than that.

Recapping the No-Bonk Week

Christmas has come and gone, and so has the no-bonk week. I would like to thank all of you who participated with me (there were many of you who did so in secret, right? ha ha) and let you know how it went. It was a valuable experiment and I learned a few things. Here is a quick recap and some thoughts:

  1. Every day (except for Christmas Day, when I slept in until 7:30), I was out the door by 6:10am, staying outside for at least half an hour, running and/or doing other exercises at a nearby park (you might not have known that playground equipment can take the place of a Universal gym). My first thought at 5:30am on the first morning was “What was I thinking? Why didn’t I say 8 or 9 instead?” The days were cold, dark and generally not very welcoming. Fortunately, it only rained on the first day (that rain was as invigorating as sticking your wet finger in a light socket, by the way). The rest of the days were just cold, and each time I ran past the Mount Scott Community Center, I would enviously look over at the people running on treadmills inside the warm, dry building.
  2. My stated goal of the project—to survive the alumni game—was accomplished. The alumni team (with 19 players) won the game by seven points without anyone getting injured (soreness doesn’t count), although we would have won by more had your writer not missed some easy lay-ups and a couple free throws. I am over that now (sort of). Let’s just say it’s a good thing we won, or I would have had to spend all of 2011 figuring out how to prepare for next year’s game.
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Join Me for a No-Bonk Week

The New York Times had an article this week that talked about the benefits of exercising before breakfast. According to a study published by researchers in Belgium, exercising in a “fasted state” causes the body to burn more fat than it would if a person ate breakfast before working out. In some circles (especially biking and triathlon circles), this type of exercise is called “bonk training”. The goal is to lose weight and to accustom the muscles to get energy from fats stored in the body instead of always relying on carbohydrates. The author of the Times article implies that it might be possible to counter the effects of a high-calorie holiday diet by doing this type of training. It’s an interesting idea, but I’m not sure I would recommend it. There seems to be a lot of dangers associated with it if you overdo it.

Why am I writing about this? I’m not really worried about overeating during the holidays. The real reason is that my brother talked me into playing in an alumni basketball game on December 27th and I need to get into better shape before the game. I exercise fairly regularly, but want to increase my training this week so that I won’t embarrass myself.

What I plan to do is to go running first thing every day this week. Anyone want to train with me at 6am? Not literally with me, although you are welcome to come to Woodstock at oh-dark-thirty every day if you want. We can motivate each other. I’m not planning to exercise without eating anything (no bonking), but I could use some accountability. I hate to get up early, and it will help if you join me.

Here are the rules. You can train wherever you are, and it has to be for at least 30 minutes. The exercise should have lots of  motion. Stretching for 30 minutes doesn’t count—30 minutes of Zumba in your living room does. Sweat is good. We start at 6am PST (if there’s someone who has to get to work and needs to exercise earlier, let me know and I’ll match your time). Sign up below in the comment section and let me know how it goes (post your results or email me at I’ll give you a recap of how it went next week. Let’s get after it!

Killer Music

What does an artist have to do to capture a listener’s attention? To give you an example of what captures my attention, I have embedded the video of The Killers singing “Spaceman” on Saturday Night Live in 2008 (it might take the video a while to load—sorry, it was about the only site I could find that had this performance).

I happened to be watching SNL that night, and it was the first time I paid attention to the Killers. Watching Brandon Flowers, the lead singer, I could not to take my eyes off of him. He was wrapped up in the moment. Watch his eyes as he sings. They are intense. You can tell that he’s giving himself to the music and the audience. He starts out a little slow and builds up to the chorus. Around the 1:00 mark, he is hitting his stride and the music has taken over his body. Flowers has great range, and he sweeps through the high tones with flair. I don’t know if the band would say this was one of their best performances, but it was enough to make me a fan.

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Hoops in Hell

The second day I was on campus, I didn’t have anything to do except for a Chinese placement test so I decided to go play basketball at the courts in the center of campus. Basketball is very popular here. There are 7 blacktop courts right at the heart of school, and in the evenings, most or all of the hoops have someone playing on them. My first day there, I sat and watched people play for about an hour. While I was there I met Cheech and Tang.
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