Required Reading: Green Metropolis

Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less Are the Keys to Sustainability, by David Owen, should be required reading for anyone working or providing input in the transportation, city planning and energy – specifically, sustainability – spaces.

After finishing the book earlier this year, I wrote the author the email below to express my appreciation. I’m including my email here because it serves as a nice nice introduction and summary of my key takeaways.

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Book Review: Outliers


One of the best parts of my new schedule is the Coffee-and-Reading Hour I carve out before work a few days every week.

On these days, I wake up at 4:45 a.m. and go to the gym for a swim from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m. After that I hustle to a nearby coffee shop at 7 a.m., which gives me a solid, uninterrupted hour with my book, before I head off for work at 8 a.m.

Aside from helping me avoid most of rush-hour traffic, this head start on the day gets my mind moving early. By the time I get to my desk I’m usually awake, inspired and ready to get stuff done.

Book selection plays an important role in creating this refreshing jumpstart. I try to keep the subject matter varied, thought-provoking, inspiring and ideally, not related to triathlon, social media or other stuff that consumes most of my waking hours.

It’s a built-in escape of sorts, and a great way I’ve found to incorporate regular creative breaks into my routine.

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Book Review: Walkable City

Walkable City

In the past decade I’ve studied in the Spanish beach town of Alicante; backpacked through Dublin, Aberdeen, London, Amsterdam and Prague; crashed on a couch for two months in Boulder; taught English in Koga, Japan – on the outskirts of Tokyo; freelanced in Santiago, Chile; and visited friends and family in San Diego, New York and San Francisco.

What’s the common denominator?

The void I feel every time I come back to Phoenix.

That sounds harsh, but don’t take it personally.

The Valley is my home and has many assets – my family and friends are here, I have a great job, the weather is nice, cost of living is pretty manageable, Spring Training and convenient outdoor recreation – but Phoenix still pales in comparison to the excitement I find in many of those other cities.

Often, I struggled to grasp why I felt such a void in Phoenix. I even felt guilty for always getting the travel bug, and not being able to find the excitement, culture and lifestyle I had enjoyed elsewhere.

Why should things be so different back home? Am I being lazy? Maybe the familiar setting is making too comfortable?

I worried that I was being unfair or jaded toward my hometown.

But then, I heard city planner Jeff Speck interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air, talking about his book “Walkable City” and, specifically, the four factors that make a city walkable: to be favored, a walk must be useful, safe, comfortable and interesting.

  • Useful: Most aspects of daily life are located nearby and organized in a way that walking serves them well.
  • Safe: Streets are designed so pedestrians are protected from being hit by automobiles.
    • (“pedestrian vs automobile” is a recurring and important theme; if you want to be dramatic, we can call it “man vs machine”)
  • Comfortable: Buildings and landscapes shape urban streets into well-defined, cozy outdoor living rooms, rather than wide-open spaces.
  • Interesting: Sidewalks are lined by unique buildings with friendly faces. Signs of humanity abound.

I bought the book and tore through it – taking notes, nodding my head and exclaiming “A ha!” (silently, to myself) at many points along the way.

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Tri for Les: “Triathlon swimming made easy”


Basketball was my thing growing up and despite being short, slow and unable to jump very high (slapping the backboard on lay-ups was pretty much my vertical peak) I learned a lot from my hooping days.

One of the phrases that stuck with me over the years is, “Work smarter, not harder.” My coach used to say it all the time and even though it sounds so simple, it’s much easier said than done.

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“Born To Run” book review and takeaways

While Born to Run will inspire most athletes, anybody can benefit from the story of the Tarahumara running tribe, and lessons imparted in this informative and entertaining read.

The storylines kept the book moving and easy to follow with a narrative that provided a smooth canvass for convincing research and historical analysis of seemingly every aspect of running.

Born to Run tells of author Christopher McDougall’s journey to develop as a runner paired with the story of the ultimate ultramarathon that pitted the world’s best ultra runners against the secretive Tarahumara tribesmen of Mexico’s treacherous Copper Canyons.

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