Review: Carney’s Death on Diamond Mountain


Death on Diamond Mountain: A True Story of Obsession, Madness and the Path to Enlightenment
Scott Carney

An investigation into the life and death of Ian Thorson, a devotee of controversial Buddhist teacher Michael Roche. An examination of the interplay between mental illness and spiritual practice. A journalistic retelling of the way Buddhism (especially Tibetan Buddhism) has been translated in the west with an emphasis on the Roche’s extremely unorthodox teaching.

A compelling read from start to finish. In the hands of a lesser journalist, this could have been trashy, but Carney knows what he’s doing, and he treats Thorson’s life story, from New York City kid to thirty something Buddhist dying in the wilds of Arizona with compassion and journalistic rigor.

Like real life, there’s no real heroes here – everyone is deeply flawed and at least a little broken. If anyone is a villain, it’s Roche, who created a cult-like atmosphere around him which, arguably, lead to the extreme behavior of some of his followers, and Thorson’s death. But, of course, like real life, even this is complicated.

If Buddhism in America, cults, or new religious movements are you thing, this is worth a read.

Recommended for the Enthusiast.

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The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire: Lee Stubblefield

Love this story from Lee who’d be running for 37 years and 25,000 miles before he qualified!

Name

Lee Stubblefield

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

49

Height:

6-3

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

165

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Tulsa Marathon

Tell us a little about the race.

It was on a city park trail by the river in October, and was a double out-and-back loop. Sounded crazy at first but worked really well.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ?

37 years

Did you run in college or high school?

Yes

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?

25,000+

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?

2500

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

6

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was?

No, did 4 days on, 1 day off. every week did one interval workout, and one hard 5 or 6 mile run. everything else was long, including hills.

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?

No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?

Some light weights, nothing extreme, no real definition developing work.

Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?

Yes. by running interval 400s and 800s, my race pace of 7:17 felt pretty easy until the last few miles.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?

Respect the distance. pick a course that is reasonably easy. effort wise, halfway of a marathon is around mile 18.

 

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Review: French’s Faithful Place

Faithful Place

Tana French

The third book in French’s Dublin Murder Squad series and the best one so far. Follows the story of a detective who returns, after twenty years away, to his dysfunctional family and neighborhood to investigate the death of his high school sweetheart. Like all of French’s books, the plot is strong, but it’s the characters and dialogue that keep you at it. I figured out the killer about half way through the book, but I didn’t care. I wanted to find out what happened to these people. I try not to equate too closely the experience of the Irish with the experience of my own ethnic group – the Irish American – but the similarities here between these hard scrabble shanty Irish and my own family were eerie. The family at the center of this book is much like my own extended kin, full of love and resentment; humor and booze. They tell a good story, sing a sad song, and really struck a nerve with me.

If you’re a fan of crime fiction, I’m sure you’d enjoy it. If you’re a certain kind of Irish American, you’ll see reflections of your own family in these pages, and my guess is, devour it.

Recommended for the enthusiast.

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The BQ(Q) – T Lindsay

Name

T Lindsay

Sex:

Male

Age (at the time of first BQ):

37

Height:

5’5’     

Weight (at the time of first BQ):

163

At which marathon did you get your first BQ?

Grandma’s Marathon

Tell us a little about the race.

Beautiful, cool day, starting temp in the low 50s. Slightly downhill course.

How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ?

5

Did you run in college or high school?

No

What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?

6500

How many miles did you run in the year before your first BQ?

2100

Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

14

Did you follow a canned program? If so, which one? If not, can you give us an idea of what your training philosophy was?

Yes, Pfitzinger 18/55

Did you run with a running club or utilize a coach?

No

Did cross training play a role in your training? If so, how?

No

Did speed work play a role or specific workouts play a role in your training? If so, how?

Yes, I was still growing my weekly base mileage but the main focus of improvement during the 18-week buildup for me was speed – mostly in the form of lactate threshold runs, but also with track intervals, which Pfitzinger uses sparingly.

Any other thoughts you would like to share with those of working towards a BQ?

Base mileage volume and lactate threshold runs made the biggest difference for me.

 

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1000 Little Memories

1000 Little Memories from my life collected here:

  1. The Gamelan Player
  2. Here My Jimmy Breslin Story
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1000 Little Memories: The Gamelan Player

New series of very short posts recounting specific moments in my life.

I was living at Post St. in San Francisco, a punk house of some renown. We had tons of people staying their all the time. Bands, friends, and friends of friends from around the world. There was one kid, a traveler type, beard, dreadlocks, back pack, who told me he was part of a train hopping gamelan group which would convene in random cities, create their instruments out of discarded materials, and give free concerts.

Today such a thing would have a facebook group and an instagram hashtag. But this was the 90s, and if it existed at all, its now lost to history.

Chance encounters like these are one of the few things I miss about living in over crowded punk houses.

See all the little memories here.

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Review: Carney’s What Doesn’t Kill Us

What Doesn’t Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Enviromental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength.

Scott Carney

Ok, the title is awful. But this might still be worth your time.

An exploration of the philosophy of weirdo fitness guru of the moment Wim Hof as well as the latest science on breath holding, cold immersion, and other bodily stressors which are very much in vogue in the fitness community these days.

So, basically catnip for someone like me.

Carney is an investigative journalist who previously wrote an expose on the cult of personality surrounding Buddhist teacher Michael Roche, and he came to Hof with a heavy dose of skepticism. He left a convert, incorporating Hof’s breath exercises and cold exposure philosophy into his daily life (with measurable improvements in his health) and eventually accompanying Hof and a group who attempt to set the record for group speed assault of Kilimanjaro… shirtless.

If, like me, you’re fascinated with the outliers of the health and fitness world, it’s a great read. Hof is probably the most scientifically tested fitness guru of the modern age, and many of his ideas seem to be panning out. Science appears to be showing that his breath holding exercises and advocacy for exposure to cold work on a variety of auto-immune issues. Of course, as with all things fitness, its impossible to say whether these results are placebo effect or real. But who cares right? Either way, its changing people’s lives.

Still, despite the good work, Hof isn’t without his flaws of ego and hubris, which Carney points out. That Hof knows these things about himself is a bit of a consolation, but suffice to say, I won’t be putting myself in his hands anytime soon. All in all he’s an incredible guy and this is an interesting story for the fitness enthusiasts among you.

Recommended for the enthusiast.

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