Amazon’s Gold Box: …

Amazon’s Gold Box: I’m a big fan of Amazon’s Gold Box and think that it’s a brilliant solution for impulse buying. However, I just realized today that it may be working against them. Like most people I have a number of items on my wishlist that I intend to buy. For the past couple of days, I’ve been putting off completing an order, but have been checking the Gold Box for an item I really want so as to combine it with my order and save money on shipping. So, while Amazon wins by promoting impulse buying, they are losing because I am reluctant to complete an order until my Gold Box contains something I want. I wonder if anyone else has realized the psychology behind this.

Siberia or Bust: It’s official. I’m going to Siberia. Yes, the land of the gulag, frozen tundra and some of the most beautiful wilderness I will ever see in my lifetime. I will be leaving September 2, flying from New York to Moscow and then catching one of the domestic Russian airlines from Moscow to Krasnoyarsk in Southeastern Siberia. I fly back on September 15.

Why am I going? Earlier this year I was thinking about what kind of vacation I wanted to take and starting planning a trip to Las Vegas and another short one to Portland. And then I got an invitiation to visit Siberia via an acquaintence and I thought, “why not — I’m only young once.” I’ve spent the last three weeks getting my papers in order, which included renewing my U.S. Passport, getting a Russian tourist visa, and reading everything I can get my hands on about Siberia. I chose to travel somewhere where there are few tourists and very few of the comforts that typically cushion a Western tourist.

I am undecided whether I will try to blog from Russia while I am there. I plan to have Internet access but I may not use it much depending on how many other activities I have to do. The Stolby nature preserve is very nearby, and famous Lake Baikal is a short flight away. If I have the time and money, I may even fly up to Tuva and see the Tuvan throat singers. I am purposely not going to set myself a strict itinerary because I don’t want to feel like a tourist-sheep while there but want to experience it in a more natural setting. Krasnoyarsk is a large industrial city of about a million people, and I’m told the people are friendly and the nightlife is good.

I will definitely have a lot to write about. If circumstance allow I will keep a travelogue, otherwise I will write about my trip when I get back.

BusinessWeek: Smile When You Say That, Microsoft

MSNBC: Confessions of a scam artist.

Donations vs. Begging: Save Karyn. No, don’t save Karyn. I went to Karyn’s web site and saw no reason at all to give her money. She has no writings there, no weblog, just pure unadulterated panhandling. How pathetic. I hope her parents are ashamed.

Over the past few weeks I have dropped $2, $5 or $10 into the PayPal tip jars of sites that I really like (you know who you are), mostly as a reward for their hard work in keeping their sites updated, full of great writing and information, and also for being good people and friends. I will continue to do this because I think it’s important that talent (and knowledge sharing) be rewarded.

Last winter, an acquaintence (who shall go unnamed to protect his dignity) fell upon some very hard times. He quietly told a few friends that he was going to lose his house if he didn’t come up with a couple thousand dollars. Quietly and discreetly, about half a dozen friends, colleagues and acquaintences from around the country sent him checks of a varying amount (usually just a couple hundred dollars). We knew that we were truly helping a good man who was down on his luck and that he would do the same if our situations were reversed. Collectively, we saved him from bankruptcy and the loss of his house to the bank. I think the difference between this situation and Karyn’s plea is pretty clear.

Diet and Exercise: After several failed attempts at losing weight, I finally joined a gym about 6 weeks ago. I go for about 90 minutes, usually 5 days a week. My exercise regimen is usually 45-60 minutes on the treadmill (600-650 calories burnt) and 20-30 minutes of lifting weights, doing crunches, etc. I also changed my diet and have been careful to stay away from fat-laden foods, and have tried to eat more food that is high in protein. After six weeks of this regimen I have not lost any weight and my personal trainer is scratching his head. He thinks I have a thyroid problem, which is affecting my metabolism. Given all of my other health problems, this doesn’t surprise me. I’ll see what my doctor says next week. Here’s a breakdown of what my daily diet looks like:

Cam’s Daily Diet
Calories Carbs (g) Protein (g) Fat (g)
Blimpie Roast Beef Sub 400 47 37 7
Protein Bar 300 38 30 5
Crispix Cereal (2) 220 50 4 0
Skim Milk (2) 120 24 12 0
Chocolate Ovaltine (2) 160 36 2 0
Oriental Rice Snacks 330 75 6 0
Total: 1630 260 106 12
Ideal Numbers
Calories Carbs (g) Protein (g) Fat (g)
Low Day 1770 240 180 10
Med Day 2020 280 200 11
High Day 2305 320 220 12

The other issue I’ve realized after doing this chart is that I am nowhere near my recommended daily calorie intake. Even for a low-calorie day, I should be getting 1400-1700 calories and 180g of protein. I’m not terribly overweight but gained about 20 pounds last year after my doctor put me on a medication that made me hungry all the time. I currently weigh 230 pounds and my goal is to get down to 190-200 pounds (I have a medium-to-large body frame).

Carlos wrote in saying that I’m likely converting fat to muscle. I know this is true because my arms, especially, have gained a lot of muscle mass. My legs are also stronger, though they were treetrunk-like before I started running the treadmill. My biggest issue is the amount of body fat I have around my midsection, which has not changed. I know it will take another month or two of following my regimen before my body adjusts.

Derek writes: “Finally, another youngish adult who drinks Ovaltine! My wife has always chuckled at my habit, which started with my grandmother at about age 3, but I love the stuff.” I love it too. I currently go through about a jar of it a week. The store I buy it at noticed that I am buying it regularly, so they keep it well-stocked. I might just have them order me a case of the stuff. I’m going through about 2 boxes of Crispix a week. I love that stuff too; great for snacking or even a whole meal. The cashiers at KMart look at me funny when I go through their checkout with nothing but 8 boxes of Crispix.

A few people have written in to say I need to eat more fruits and vegetables, which have vitamins in them. This can be difficult, so I’ve been taking vitamin supplements for about a year, including iron pills, flax, zinc, and a Centrum multi-vitamin supplement.

Posted by Cameron Barrett at August 7, 2002 12:47 PM

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