"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Thursday, December 29, 2005

fighting the wee beasties

I feared that I was for sure getting sick yesterday, and I don't think it was just an allergic reaction to going back to work after a 5-day weekend. Aching all over, upset tummy, scratchy throat, chills.... Celia has been taking "Airborne" for the past week feeling like she was coming down with something, and my littlest nephew up at the Westport house for the family Christmas rendezvous pretty much barfed his way through the holidays. (Actually the story is more rich and complex than that but I'll gloss over it on the side of protecting his dignity). I do not hold him nor his parents, nor Celia, responsible for anything that may now be trying to infect me; there have been plenty o' germs to go around and allegedly his G.I. complaints were a side effect of an ear infection and the candy-pink antibiotic liquid he had to take. I remember taking that stuff when I was little. Not too bad as far as medicine goes but it has that distinctive smell. Amoxycillin in pill form has the same smell.

So I started taking Airborne yesterday too, along with aspirin every 4 - 6 hours, and I'm hanging in there. Didn't feel great today but good enough to go to work again and keep forging ahead with the end of the year completion of forms and tying of loose ends. I was somewhat skeptical of Airborne, "DEVELOPED BY A SCHOOL TEACHER TIRED OF GETTING SICK IN THE CLASSROOM!" but watching / listening to the effervescent tablet dissolve is strangely soothing in itself. Meaning absolutely no disrespect to school teachers. We should never let ourselves be foolishly limited by whatever training and professional credentials we actually have. For all I know, that school teacher could have studied Chinese herbal medicine in addition to obtaining the teaching credential. Mostly I hope that the school teacher has seen some of the profits on all those attractively packaged fizzy tablets over the past year. The RiteAid on the corner keeps selling out of them.

Meanwhile the creeks are rising. Celia said that Sycamore Pool was over its banks yesterday and some of the park benches in Annie's Glen are surrounded by water. Fortunately either nature or some surprisingly farsighted and intelligent human design set it up so that, barring inland hurricane or tsunami, the creek near us floods into the park, not into the nearby condos and houses. I love it when good planning actually happens.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

one for the people

I know the readership of my blog cannot be characterized as vast, but I know it is of the highest quality and I don't want to lose y'all. Thanks for sticking through some of the dry spells.

I jogged about 30 minutes in the park this morning, out to the landmark known in our household as "The Bathroom Bridge" and back, not because it is hygenically unsound in any way but because there is actually a very clean and well lighted restroom there. I had packed my gym bag to head to the gym since it's been raining the last few days but decided I was leaving too late for a worthwhile gym experience, and the weather was cloudy but stable. I went outside wearing my fleece everything and decided it would be too warm so I stripped down to t-shirt and shorts. An older neighbor in the complex was out with her terrier in the parking lot. She was wearing a knit hat and scarf and winter coat. She looked at me with the greatest concern and said, "Where is your jacket?" as if I didn't have a jacket and she was going to go find me one on the spot. I said, "When I run, I get too hot" and she seemed to accept this response.

I'm glad I remembered that little interaction because later in the day I was stuck on the phone with a client who has no plausible defense to her eviction that I can find, trying to level with her and give her the realistic if not so cheerful options, and after awhile you'd think from listening to her that I was her soon to be ex-landlord, or worse. Sort of like trying to help a wasp fly out the window when it's determined that it wants to stay inside. Actually that's not a very good analogy since people generally do better inside than wasps, but hopefully you get the point.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

pool, cool, yule

Since Celia became employed her workouts have shifted to a time when, if I can get out of bed timely enough, I can actually go with her. The first week or so of this phenomenon I was not timely. However the good influence is taking root. We went to the gym this morning. Celia gets on a LifeCycle and pretty much stays there for 45 minutes; I have a sort of gym A.D.D. or perhaps a more positive characterization is that I am a beautiful, beautiful butterfly. I rode a LifeCycle for five minutes to warm up, then I sat in the spa for additional warm up, then I swam 450 yards in the pool. The spa phase was utterly necessary because man, it was freakin' cold outside. I am happy with the swim though, not having done any swimming since whenever I last mentioned it here, which I think was a long time ago. I think when the Tri training group starts again in the spring I should be in much better swimming form than I was a year ago. As a result I may feel more inclined to attend the group swimming workouts.

Because of the cold air there was plenty of steam rising from the pool this morning...when I did a lap of kicking on my back, it was like flying through clouds...except I was kicking, which sort of ruined the effect. How was Superman supposed to have generated his forward momentum, anyway? I never actually considered that before. If anyone knows of an explanation, however far-fetched, I would be comforted to hear it. My previously suspended disbelief needs a little prop.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

the radio

Woke up to "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" this morning. It's the 25th anniversary of the death of John Lennon which was one of my formative experiences. Well, maybe formative is too strong a word, but it had a big impact. The strange phenonmenon of grieving someone you never met and were possibily unlikely ever to meet, even briefly. It meant a lot to me that no one tried to talk me out of how sad I was about losing one of my beloved Beatles, and in such a horribly unfair way.

I have two unemployment benefit appeal hearings today, back to back, for the parents of 5 kids. They are Hmong and half of the reason they left their good paying jobs in Southern California was to fulfill cultural duties in Northern California. I've heard that UIB hearings aren't generally too tough but since I've never done one, it seems more natural to freak myself out with anxiety about it. I need to get to work a little early this a.m. to finish up some declarations, put nice tabs on my paperwork, and so forth. I guess one difficulty with my job is that I still travel back and forth a lot between feeling like I sort of know what I'm doing, and realizing my deep and abiding cluelessless. I wish we had some kind of manual on how to conduct a successful UIB appeal. I wish I had a few more sworn declarations and bits of evidence. On the other hand, each hearing is slotted for about half an hour which would suggest that this is not a class action lawsuit against WalMart.

Maybe it will be ok. I just want these folks to get their money. I think the reason they don't have it was basically a communication problem when they applied four months ago. I think they may be able to give the appearance of speaking and understanding English somewhat better than they actually do. We'll have an interpreter at the hearing.

So I'd better get to work then.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

the streets of sacramento...

....are flat & wide. I didn't keep very good track of what my individual time was in the relay today but I think I did a respectable job of holding up my end, especially since I had made no prior assurances express or implied. I had the thrill of crossing the finish line of a marathon under a timer that said 3:45-something. Several of the other women from Chico (on my team and other teams) mentioned they felt guilty breezing past the poor souls who were actually running the whole distance. I searched my conscience and found that I didn't feel guilty at all. Who blackmailed those people into running 26.2 miles? Who chased after them with a red-hot poker? Meaning no disrespect, and certainly no lack of empathy. However, barring accidents, running is a pastime in which you are a willing participant in any suffering you experience, and the suffering of 5.7 miles was so small compared to what I've experienced with 26.2 that it felt a little like happiness.

I wonder if I will ever decide to run another full marathon. I think I could be faster now if I trained consistently. But I've been having trouble remembering what is / was the point of running that distance. Just because some Greek did it and then died shortly afterwards. Oooh, how compelling! At least Philippides ran to get somewhere he actually needed to go.

Then there are Ultras, like the American River 50 miler, or the Western States 100. The idea of running that far has its charms, but I think it would entail more devotion to suffering than I currently have. Surely there are other compulsive behaviors disguised as heroic achievement that I could engage in with less stress to the knee joints.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

where's emily?

Most recently, truckin' along through the Sierras in a blizzard, if 20 mph and second gear for 3-4 hours can be called "truckin'." Celia noted that on the bright side, we fared a lot better than the Donner party. True. Slid around a little but stayed on the road. I learned how to attach and remove snow chains. I was taught growing up that snow chains are for people from California who don't know how to drive in the snow. It wasn't so much that I don't know how to drive in the snow (though I've had fewer opportunities since moving to CA), but that my vehicle apparently has the traction of a hockey puck. It's probably good to spend more time reviewing the weather in advance of a drive through the mountains after Thanksgiving.
We were returning from a holiday visit to our friends Wendy and Betsy in Flagstaff, AZ, where it was stunningly clear (though cold) during most of our visit.

It was an excellent visit even though I was way out of my league in the card games: they play a solitaire-like game called "Nerts" that reminds me a lot of "Flinch" except that playing Flinch with Grandma years ago I seem to remember winning now and then. Go figure. Walking in a big open park in Flagstaff we saw a tarantula. Unfortunately I didn't think to take a picture of it. Sometimes a thing will grab your attention in such a way that you don't step back and record it. I wasn't walking along thinking, what should I take a picture of? I was a little bit tempted to touch the tarantula, as I am always tempted to try to catch a (nonpoisonous) snake, frog, or lizard I encounter. The spider had such an interesting furry texture. At the same time, however, it was a very spidery spider and missing my cats was ultimately insufficient reason to try to befriend a wild tarantula. Wendy and Betsy have a dog and two cats so I shifted my affection for the animal kingdom to them instead.

Prior to the Thanksgiving trip I was invited to be on a relay team in the Sacramento International Marathon on Dec. 4. All the fun of participation but only a 5-mile run to the finish. Couldn't say no to that. I am trying to get the most out of the marathon experience by avoiding excess preparation. Hopefully I'll get at least one run in between now and the event so that I can remind myself that I know how.

Friday, November 11, 2005

revise this!

I'm trying to enjoy my paid holiday today with at least some mindfulness of why it's a holiday. I noticed that the president was giving a speech on the TVs at the gym (mercifully without sound) so I later looked up the text of his speech. Since he didn't write it anyway, why suffer through watching and listening to him deliver it?

The brief discourse on Muslim doctrine against taking human life was good, but it's always tricky to know how to apply those scriptural prohibitions on killing. Moses and Mohammed were perhaps a bit rushed in their taking of the dictation because God must have told them something more about the exceptions to the rule that you and I of the general populace don't really grasp. Otherwise, so many "men of prayer" who have weapons at their command would behave much differently.

The speech also reached brilliant new heights of logical fallacy with the comment that we weren't in Iraq on 9/11, therefore our being in Iraq now isn't a contributing factor to ongoing terrorism by Muslim extremists. I think he meant that those extremists will find any excuse to blow people up, it doesn't make any difference what Islamic nation(s) we occupy. Sort of like saying that the fire was already burning good 'n hot before we came by and tossed on another log or two, maybe some gasoline and a few old tires for good measure. I'm confused about how terrorism clearly thrived without us invading Iraq, yet now Iraq is THE front in our war on terrorism. I surely don't want to be irresponsible in my rewriting of history but I'm not sure which version of history I'm not supposed to revise. I think this is precisely the effect that was intended. Bravo, speechwriters.

I almost feel like it's less and less worth the effort to rant about this guy (the president, I mean). Slightly more than half of the polled citizenry now believe that he's full of shit. History is going through a big rewrite all over the place in the minds of the formerly duped. I learned in years of English classes that revision is good, but then I went to public school way before No Child Left Behind so I probably was allowed to spend too much time lazily entertaining ideas and reading subversive literature rather than drilling for standardized tests.

But, back to what I was going to say before I began to exercise my wonderful freedom to criticize. I have been reading stories of soldiers returned from Iraq. Even if, for the sake of argument, our leaders were honest with us and fighting there was actually something that would lead to less terrorism around the world, I don't understand how the people in charge worked out the math. We have a running death toll (at least of American soldiers) but it's much harder to pin down the numbers of wounded bodies and minds and families. I just want a leader with a little more empathy, who is capable of understanding suffering. We have such big brains, surely we could figure out a way to make the world safer and happier without wreaking devastation on so many men and women and families.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

got jobs?

Celia does. Two of 'em. They are each checking in at around 15 hrs / week, but hopefully they will provide added sustenance to C's mind and shine to future resumes even if her bank account isn't likely to grow fat. One of the jobs even required an art degree! Thank you to everyone to may have sent prayers and / or specific or general good intent in our direction. It's been a long year or so of job hunting.

I delivered my first Power Point presentation last night, on the subject of Nonprofit Incorporation. I had inserted some clip art on a couple slides, and then thought I made the picture transparent so the text would show through. Didn't quite translate that way after I'd already burned it to a CD and had to rush off to the meeting. I think my Power Point is haunted by something that mysteriously removes objects I know I've pasted in, and makes the transparent clip art solid. Either that or I'm doing something wrong.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

strength lies in nights of peaceful slumber

I dreamed that my last blog posting degenerated into random key strikes. Oh, it looks like that really happened. Well then. I realize not everyone might have been interested in joining me on that trip. However, I had a wonderfully refreshing night's sleep of sufficient length and consistency. Can't remember the last time I woke up feeling that rested. Hooray for drugs (in context and all that).

By way of brief explanation...the bit about crossing the snow field was a description of the Blogger page where I initially type these postings. It is a white rectangle and the typing fills it in from the top, like slowly approaching a wall made of little black words. Maybe I'll work on the piece and send it to Sanofi-Aventis in case they'd like to publish some Ambien art on their website (in exchange for valuable consideration, of course).

Ran the Almond Bowl 6-miler this morning in a satisfactory 0:51:00. Satisfactory considering I haven't run 6 miles in a long time. In the past when I have done 10Ks after purposely training for them, I don't think my times have been any faster than that. Maybe the correct interpretation of this phenomenon is that I'm generally stronger now at 33 than I was at 27 so I can run faster even if I'm feeling undertrained. Or maybe the tri-training has stuck with me even through the past few weeks of inconsistency.

Only nine more hours until bedtime. Suddenly it feels like a little Christmas that happens every day around 9:30 pm.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

training? what training?

Hmm, seems I'm signed up for a 6 mile run tomorrow. Can't remember the last time I ran 6 miles. I have this idea though that if I just take it easy I'll be able to finish eventually.

I did go to the gym once this week. Treadmills really mess with your head. All sense of speed and distance is altered. The good thing about the treadmill is I can bring my iPod. The TV screens above the treadmills play CNN and Fox "news," all dramatically improved with a soundtrack of ABBA.

Celia returned from NYC this week to great acclaim. She has started working at a local attorney's office (not mine) and has learned how to operate a dictaphone. I didn't know such devices were still in usage. Seems like the dictating end would be quite an acquired skill itself. This guy must really hate typing. A friend of Celia's sometimes records audio blogs which are really cool, but not anything like dictation because you have to put in all the punctuation and occasionally spell names or strange words. I have received feedback that my written blog voice is really different from my speaking voice. Probably because I write in whole paragraphs of multiple sentences. If I mumble on the screen or the page, you can go back and read what it was I tried to say. I'm not a really glib, off the cuff chatty kinda gal. Not at all like the PA at Immediate Care clinic last night where I dropped in for some help with my unwanted head bumps. I'll try not to go into great detail but if you're clinically curious, just google "sebaceous cyst" -- and welcome to my world. Fortunately they've been in places where only my hairdresser notices them. But after awhile they start really annoying me and I get kind of fixated on them, sort of like the heart beating in Poe's "Tell-Tale Heart." Anyway the PA was really friendly and not at all fluttered by someone walking in at 9:30 at night for help with head bumps. He chatted away all the while performing the excision about his previous career as a firefighter, and how the weird disturbing things always seemed to happen to him. He also, before the night was out, wrote me a prescription for Ambien. Having been sleeping rather less than well for awhile, decided to give them a try. Hesitant though I've been to jump on the pharmacy sleep choo choo. Might be all I write for now because I took an Ambien10 about 30 minutes ago and the words on the screen are forming 3D structures that turn and ambi-dance.

the post is a wall above a field of snow, a long field you've crossed with snowshoes and fluffy dogs

you get closer to the wall foteh opost you see it reisign up before you will you ge t voer tehe wall:

far away in teh stno veid ith swjoi biesjo wlsigei fhieoz;jf wigsokceijfoa;vm siefw giwoslkd gheivnsl

ok, this is the part where I should be actually falling asleep rather than experiencing the wakefull free-associative typing. Hard when they keep moving my letters.

Good night ladies, sweet ladies, good night.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

"She was fed up"

Good NY Times piece on Rosa Parks. Didn't find out until just now, having been at a 3-day Legal Services staff conference that was held at a place a bit off the beaten path. The timing is personally significant, however. On Monday, our keynote speaker was Eva Paterson from the Equal Justice Society, who talked about the need to speak openly about race in our country, get it back on the table, and not let the far right continue to advance its bullshit agenda that we're living in a "colorblind society" now and discrimination is a thing of the past. (Those are my words, not exactly Ms. Paterson's.) Sorry, if anyone from the Federalist Society or the Heritage Foundation happens to be reading this, but the data just doesn't bear out the colorblind theory. Probably because you made it up.

I have a little story about Rosa Parks. When I was at BYU in 1992 or thereabouts, she came to campus to address the students. Whoever was in charge of the event apparently really misjudged the kind of reception Ms. Parks would receive. They booked her into some little lecture hall. The building has faded from my memory but I think it was one of the newer buildings at the time. Students filled the lecture hall to its standing capacity, filled the halls and rooms surrounding the lecture hall, and overflowed to the outside of the building itself. The powers-that-were had to scramble around to set up TV screens so that more of the multitude eager to see Ms. Parks and hear her words could do so. I couldn't even get into one of the overflow classrooms.

Still can't help but wonder (as did many at the time), what the hell were the planners thinking? Am I wrong to wonder if somebody in some BYU admin office thought that some old black woman who rode a bus home from work 40+ years previously couldn't be much of a draw? That a group of predominantly white Mormon college students wouldn't care about or want to connect with the civil rights movement? What did it do for them? Do they even ride buses?

The glass half full version of the story is, of course, that despite any reason or lack thereof for poor choice of venue, so many of us showed up that the building wouldn't hold us. That means that it wasn't just the liberal BYU fringes coming out of the woodwork. Some Young Republicans must have been there too.

The parallel universe fantasy version of the story, as I would like to have seen it happen, is that Rosa Parks was booked for a devotional address in the Marriott Center during the special Tuesday time when no classes were held, and everyone was instructed to go and witness a living example of that great-things-accomplished-by-small-&-simple-means concept they may have read about in a book. The whole town of Provo and perhaps even bits of Springville, Orem and American Fork showed up as well, if only for the novelty of it, and re-runs of the devotional were played on KBYU Channel 11 so people all over Utah saw Rosa Parks at the pulpit for years afterwards.

It's been awhile since I thought about Rosa Parks. She was tired and fed up and did something unexpected, and the effects traveled in time and space all the way to Provo which is definitely in a galaxy far, far away.

Anyone else out there feeling a little tired and fed up? How's this for a statistic: for every $1 of direct spending in the federal budget, our government shells out $642 (yes, that's six HUNDRED forty two) in tax benefits. Now that's a healthy welfare program. I'm not saying all those tax breaks should go away; some of them are available to poorer people in the form of the Earned Income Tax Credit, some of them promote homeownership, etc. which is great and I hope to cash in on that eventually, but mostly our government operates as a mutual aid society for rich people. Speaking of whom, here's another statistic: the wealthiest 1% of US families hold about 33% of the nation's wealth. The next 9% owns another third, and the rest of us (90%) own a third. Of course when you think about how things are going up there on Walton Mountain these days, it's shocking that the top 1% has only a paltry third of all the wealth. Surely they can do better than that. Please, the Waltons need you to help them own the whole world! Call the IRS and your state franchise tax board and ask them if you can just pay your taxes to Wal-Mart this year: cut out the middlemen, have smaller government just like folks want. Whether you shop there or not, you basically owe your soul to the company store, so why not get real about it?

Friday, October 21, 2005

the "ammond" bowl

There is a local / regional pronunciation of the particular tree nut commonly referred to as the "All-mond" in which the "A" sounds like the "A" in Amtrak and the L is completely silent. Ammonds.

There is also a local footrace event on November 6. Haven't decided whether to go for the 6-mile gusto or stick with 3. Running has started feeling pretty good again. Ran in the park Tuesday and Thursday this week, and had quick visits to the gym on Monday and Wednesday. I have rediscovered the long lost "Joy of the Stairmaster, or How to Make 15 Minutes Seem Like an Hour". Actually, with some good tunes it's not too bad. I ran on a treadmill on Monday but that takes more concentration as to where ones feet happen to land (no, I didn't fall off, but I almost tripped when I kicked the plastic housing toward the front of the machine).

We're going to a wedding in the Bay Area tomorrow, and then Monday I'm off for an all-staff retreat (held in a convent in the Santa Cruz Mountains) for 3 days. Bringing guitar for the full Julie Andrews effect. On the day I get back, Celia is flying out to NYC for 6 days with her friend (and benefactor) Mary Patterson. She's making a list of all the places she'd like to visit and starting to pack her bag. I think maybe she's a little bit excited about the trip.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

energy shortage

Ok, I finished Claire's bike yesterday (at least I got to a place where all the parts appeared to be working, and I had to give it back to her). She may or may not be glad that she fell into the hands of up-and-coming bike nerds. Lesser friends might not have helped convince her that she needed a new(er) saddle and a rack for the back of her car. However, she now has a pretty cool bike and appears from this photo to be happy with it.

There was something magical about taking it down from the stand when everything was put back together; it had been a collection of parts for the past week and suddenly it turned into a bike with attitude. (I found the tassels on a bargain table at the UCD Bike Barn on Thursday, couldn't resist them.) I told Claire I had become a little attached to her bike but she says I can come visit it.

The next bike project is assisting Celia in changing out her flat handlebars to dropbars on her Bianchi touring / roadbike. This will involve installing new brakes and bar-end shifters and wrapping the handlebars with cork tape. Ce bought all the stuff from Rivendell (link forthcoming). The dropbars are more convenient for attaching handlebar bags and assorted touring doodads, and they give you more possible hand positions to avoid fatigue.

And speaking of fatigue, I am tired. I didn't exercise much at all last week, felt kind of overwhelmed at work (let's say 7.5 on a 1 - 10 overwhelm scale), and didn't sleep well for a few days. I think I need a new goal. I'd like to do more long bike rides and practice hill climbing, and I'd like to keep up the swimming. Being a bike mechanic is good for my mind but doesn't raise the heart rate much.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

sweet skills

One of my friends from law school recently bought a bike at the annual UC Davis Bike Barn auction. They gather up all the bikes left out in the rain, much like the cake of which Donna Summer sang, on the campus over the previous year, and then sell 'em cheap. My friend mentioned that she thought she'd need a new chain, and one of the shifters didn't work. I eagerly volunteered to work on it so we brought it home with us on Sunday. I began to realize that this particular bike might, also like the cake in the song that "took so long to bake," be a bigger project than I thought. However, I'm totally fixated with the project and enjoying it immensely, and I'm gaining valuable skills in case I need to get an extra part time job or the lawyer thing doesn't work out.

I noticed I have a work style that sometimes is problematic for both bike repair and lawyering. I have a hard time choosing what to do first and staying on it until it's done and I can move to the next thing. I get distracted by new tasks, especially if one or two of them reach a place where they're stuck, and end up with a lot of parts (or papers) spread everywhere. However, it makes the effort of eventually imposing order on the chaos feel very impressive and rewarding. I think it may also impede my forward progress a bit. Some of this is the result of people calling me with worse, more urgent problems than the one I was previously working on. I can't use that excuse with the bike though. I'm happy to report that at least I finished putting the headset back together with fresh grease yesterday and it's now smooth as the sweet green icing that flowed down on that cake left out in the rain. Everything else (and I mean everything) is a work in progress.

Maybe I'll try to go to work early and tidy up my desk in the morning if I can step away from the bike. I wish it wasn't so dark at night; I've had some trouble sleeping this week and it would be nice to be out there tinkering away. I need to go to the bike shop again tomorrow and purchase some extra ball bearings that seem to have snuck away in the process of working on the hubs.

[editorial note: at first I debated whether I should leave the Napoleon Dynamite reference in the title of this post when all of the other references are to Donna Summer but then I realized that since the movie, like the song, deals briefly with the subject of cake, it all made sense after all.]

Friday, October 07, 2005

winning friends & being popular

I agreed to make a comment at the planning commission meeting last night. I get nervous about doing things like that but I know it's supposed to be good for me; also I was the only one from our office who could go. When I observe the citizenry who stand up to give their $0.02 about whatever it is I feel silly for being scared; some people are innately more able to vocalize their ranting and not worried about being completely one-sided. Sometimes I wonder if I would be a better judge than lawyer. (Hey, why not shoot for the top...I hear the Supreme Court is having open auditions. Maybe I could get nominated on the basis of my singing voice. I guess you have to know the right people though, who thankfully I don't.) Maybe I'm a little averse to taking sides in a really vocal way, right from the start of an argument, because I don't like to be wrong.

So part of why this public comment was a good exercise for me is because it gave me the opportunity to say things that potentially angered a complete stranger and convinced him that Legal Services is out to make life difficult for innocent, taxpaying businessmen. I didn't engage in a personal attack, I just said Mr. So&So ought not be able to benefit from failing to comply with state mobilehome park closure / change of use laws. Having heard his rant for the hour previous (WHY they let him carry on that long, I don't know) I gathered he had a different take on the issue. Poor guy was planning eventually to get rid of the trailers and build apartments there, but before he could obey the laws, everybody just up and moved out of his park! Imagine that.

The story is a little more complicated, of course. I sat there thinking, ok, what if he really acted in good faith and was just in a tough spot, what with the state coming in and finding that most of the residents' trailers were out of compliance, and threatening to pull his operating permit? Then I thought, well, it's up to the commission to decide what to do with his story, and maybe there are other versions of the story they should hear, even if we don't know which version(s) are the Real story.
My story was that he wanted to change uses all along and that he paid people small varying sums of cash to leave the park (which is true) when he could just as easily have paid them small sums to bring more of their trailers into compliance. Since he said how he thought they were mostly good folks (who mostly spoke Spanish). He was SUPPOSED to give them a year's advanced notice and invite them to a public meeting where the city council would decide what kind of relocation benefits he was supposed to provided them. Instead, he just told them that the park was closing and they would need to look for a new place to live. Then he wonders why they all moved away?

The best and worst part of the meeting was that the Planning Commission was not very sympathetic with this guy, and stuck him dead-last on the agenda. He got up to the podium around 8:30 or so. At 10:00 they finally told him he'd said all he could say, several times over. Then I got to stand up. I was a little past my prime by that point in terms of being tired, starved, and annoyed, and I don't know if I was coherent. But at least I got on the record. I couldn't stick around long after my speech so I don't know what they finally decided (if anything). Didn't really want an opportunity to chat with the park owner either so I picked up my chicken legs and left. If I find out what happened, I'll let you know.

NOTE ON TRIATHLON RESULTS: the split times are out. I'll put in a new link to them ASAP, meanwhile if you follow the link in the last post you might be able to find them.

Monday, October 03, 2005

How it Went

The split times for the individual segments haven't been posted yet, but I achieved my goal of finishing in less than 2 hours and finished in the top half of the pack, around 133rd out of about 300.

Unfortunately the hoped-for photo documentation of my participation didn't happen. I should have left my camera with Celia and our friends Liza and Jen who came to watch rather than leaving it my truck. I have a photo I took of the Rancho Seco cooling towers on the way to the event, but that's not really an action shot. So I'll try to describe it:

Arrived about 45 minutes before the start and had to get signed in, get bib numbers and safety pins and so forth, find a spot to set up in the transition area (rows of bike racks and towels on the ground with bike and running shoes laid out). Was given a color-coded latex swimcap for my wave (swimmers took off in age groups 5 minutes apart). Donned my tri suit and had myself marked with my bib number and age (a guy with a black magic marker wrote the number on both shoulders, above both knees, and on the back of both hands, and wrote my age on the back of my left calf. On the right calf he drew a little smiley face just for symmetry and to spread cheer, I guess). Then I really felt like a triathlete.

About ten minutes before the start, I headed to the water to get adjusted. Some people had wetsuits and I think they must have been steam cooked by the time they finished the swim, because the water felt like it was at least 72 degrees. Buoys were set out in the lake to mark the swim course. They appeared to be far, far away both from the shore and from each other.

My wave was the second to take off. Turns out that it wasn't horribly crowded and no one kicked me in the head, but it was really hard to relax and swim freestyle. My goggles leaked continuously. The water was solid green when I looked down so I felt like I was making no progress. After about ten minutes the wave after mine caught up with and mostly passed me. The safety crew in their kayaks seemed to be following me and occasionally shouted words of encouragement. I don't think I looked like I was drowing or anything; they probably just tried to encourage anyone who appeared to be doing breaststroke for 3/4 of the swim and stopping to adjust her goggles every two minutes.

Much to my surprise, when I reached shallow water and began to run for the shore, only 22 minutes had passed. About the same amount of time it takes me to swim freestyle for half a mile, calmly, in a pool.

I guess it's no big surprise, but the swim is definitely my weak link and (other than the goggle problem) it's a mental training issue as much or more than a physical one.

Once I got on my bike I felt great and started catching up. I passed other riders throughout the bike leg and was only passed a couple times by some women who looked like they had a few of these events under their proverbial belts (and they were both 40-something, so they've had more time to train). The bike course was a series of rolling hills, just enough to be interesting but not too hard. I lost a bolt on my rear touring rack (should have taken it off before the race, but didn't) and the strut rattled like crazy against my chainstay the whole time but fortunately caused no problems other than self-consciousness. When I finished the bike leg, Celia, Liza and Jen were there cheering! As I told them yesterday, having the cheering section is better than a packet of caffeinated Gu for giving one's spirits a boost. Though having both is probably ideal.

The run felt pretty good too. My legs were tired but they've been through worse. Running course was out and back on a dirt road with a few more little rolling hills and some treacherous star thistle, but three miles didn't seem very far. I had enough juice to pick up the pace and finish in a sprint for the last 200 yards or so.

Then I was done, in an hour and fifty minutes! Except for the swim, I felt like it was more fun than it was difficult. I won't be ready to graduate to olympic distance triathlons until I'm more secure with the swimming thing.

One of the best parts of this event was the physical diversity of the women participating. All shapes and sizes. Seeing them hit home how completely wrong is society's / the media's concept of what a strong, healthy woman looks like. When you look in the mirror, it is so hard to get that kind of BS out of your head once it's in there, even if you are (as I fancy myself) an otherwise mostly rational person.

Anyway, the event inspired me to want to make feeling good the sole motivating factor for my exercise and nutrition. It's the only goal that seems really attainable. That is not to say that it wouldn't "feel good" to improve my time a bit in the next triathlon, or navigate the overland bike route. I foresee some occasions when "feeling good" might be less than pleasant. OK, maybe there will always be multiple motivating factors. I just don't want worrying about how I look to be one of them.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow

Starting to get a little nervous. I began assembling all the bits & pieces of gear last night. We're spending the night in Vacaville with our friends there. Need to find out how long it should take to drive from Vacaville to Galt...mapquest here we come.

In two weeks there is an organized bike ride from Oroville to Quincy. Quincy is a cute little town in the mountains. I am stupidly tempted by it. Stupidly, I say, because the first 35 miles or so are uphill, and then there are about 30 more. My uphill riding achievements to date are somewhat modest in comparison. I wonder how far I could actually get. Maybe to mile 15? 10? Do I hear 5?

Bringing camera to the Tri so stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

it's called "tapering," not sloth...really...

Swim yesterday felt good. Managed about 1100 yards in half an hour. Since the actual swim is only 800 yards, this was reassuring...though I know that trying to avoid getting kicked in the head by people in front of me might take some extra energy.

Did a whole lotta nothin' this morning. Got distracted looking at the maps on the adventurecycling.org website (stay tuned for live link) and didn't even have time to soak in the condo chlorine bath. Celia pointed out that the cycling maps are frequently updated and since I'm not going to be able to take 2 months off work any time in the next couple years, probably impractical to purchase the full transcontinental set at the moment. I held back and purchased only the Fallon NV to Cedar City UT, the Astoria OR to Crescent City CA, and the Eugene to Astoria. The epitome of thrift.

On the other hand, I love reading maps. It helps if the map is of a place I would like to travel through (or of possible new routes through a place I've already been) but map reading is pure escapist entertainment. You can pore over a good topo map for hours and still not really know anything about the place it is supposed to represent. You get there, and the wind is blowing, perhaps it's raining, and there are big rocks everywhere. The real hills are always much steeper than they look on the map. Mosquitos and people filling the park with their RVs, and deer hunters are generally absent from maps as well. The map allows you to take numerous idealized, imaginary versons of the trip. A long weekend and purchase of gasoline are not required.

At some point it becomes unsatisfying only to read the maps though. At some point I will have to ride Hwy 50 across Nevada; I fear it is inevitable. The seemingly innocuous map-reading obsession will lead to the less innocuous reality of waking up one morning halfway down the "Loneliest Road in America." Fortunately since I first talked about wanting to do this, Celia has been considerably worn down to the point that she almost thinks she wants to do it too. Still working on other potential victims--oh, I mean riding companions. Join us...you know you want to.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The good, the bad, & the cheesy

I had my first ever cholesterol test on Saturday. My dad and I were walking around in Fort Bragg, and they were offering the tests at Long's so we decided it would be a fun father-daughter activity. Consensus from both the person administering the tests, and from my uncle the M.D. who was also visiting at our house up there is that my total of 204 is a little high for someone of my age and activity level, but my HDL (the good fat) is also high at 53, so I am not currently at risk of heart disease. I think HDL must be like tiny wild salmon steaks that swim up and down through my blood stream eating up the tiny tater tots and french fries and quesadillas attempting to lodge therein. I'd better keep the salmon coming. (Note: this theory has not been scientifically verified.)

I have noticed that regardless of any perceived differences in political or religious belief or personal taste, my immediate and extended family is united in our love of cheese. I know of at least one cousin who is seriously allergic to milk, but no doubt he would really like cheese too if he had a choice. If any other relative reading this wants to speak up and assert that they are ambivalent about cheese, now is the time to do it; otherwise I think it's safe to say we all really like cheese. Maybe we don't all like the very same kinds of cheese, and maybe we like it in different quantities, but we all like it. Not sure what it means but it must mean something.

Didn't do any ocean swimming over the weekend but I rode my bike from Westport (at the 77.0 mile marker) to the 84.46 marker and back. This was farther up the hill than my previous attempt, though I'm not sure how far since I didn't write it down last time. 83-something I think it was. I felt slightly sick when I stopped at the turn-around point, but a little bonk now and then lets you know you've tested your limits. It didn't last more than a minute or two. That will be my last major bike ride before the event next Sunday.

Planning to do a trial run swim at the pool tomorrow morning (30 minutes continuously at an easy pace) just for the mental reassurance.

Friday, September 23, 2005

To train, to sleep; to climb

Last few mornings (say, 3) the force of gravity has been especially strong (though alternative theories exist. I still managed to get up Wednesday for an 850-yd swim workout, and Thursday I went for a mellow 30-minute jog in the park and did some extra stretching. As for today, Friday, I went with the extra hour of sleep option. Had some trouble falling asleep last night and I am driving to Westport (4 hrs or so) after work today, so the battle to justify staying in bed was easily won. Sometimes it's better to work with gravity rather than agin' it.

Bringing an assortment of workout accoutrements to Westport with me. Definitely want to ride my bike; maybe from Fort Bragg to Mendocino and back (18-20 miles)? or the usual, north from where Branscomb Rd meets Hwy 1 to as far up the hill as I can make it. In the first two attempts over this past summer, I had to stop with an apparently endless supply of hill still available. We've talked about sometime touring up the coast on our bikes and it's hard to imagine riding any of that particular hill with loaded panniers. Maybe we should ride north to south instead. It's the place where Hwy 1 turns inland toward Leggett. No doubt there are other hills en route between San Francisco and Crescent City of which I am still comfortably ignorant. Deep in my heart, though, I love hills. Having lived in flatter parts of California for the last several years it's fun to find a hill that's not a freeway overpass. Fortunatlely Chico's proximity to the mountains offers some good ups and downs. Plenty of hill rides I've not yet done.

I'm also bringing my swimming wetsuit. Not sure when / if I will be able to do an ocean swim this weekend; maybe Portuguese Beach in Mendocino would be good since it's calm, or Van Damme SP.

Better use the remaining time this morning to pack, so as not to keep the parents up too far past their bedtime waiting for me at the house tonight.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

the Monarchs rule

Our basic cable is too basic for ESPN2, so we had to go to "The Grad" to watch the WNBA championship game tonight. Sacramento pulled it off. I'm not a huge basketball fan, but I am a Sacramento Monarchs fan, especially since Utah lost the Starzz to somewhere more deserving, like Texas. I wanted to believe that Salt Lake City was sufficiently cosmopolitan and evolved to sustain a major pro women's sports team--considering that women have been able to vote in Utah since 1870--but as is often the case, two steps forward, three steps back. Just as well though; once I went to a Monarchs vs Starzz game with Celia and her brother Peter (both raised in Sacramento), and I accidentally cheered for the wrong team a few times. Was lucky not to have to walk home afterwards. The demise of the Starzz has possibly helped promote domestic tranquility.

Women have many more opportunities to participate and compete in athletic events these days. In some endurance events (such as ultramarathons) women are highly competitive with, and potentially superior to, their similarly-trained male counterparts. Nobody seems to talk about the fact that it's 2005 and the Tour de France is still all boys all the time, though. Not that I want to sign up for it, but some Katherine Switzer of the cycling world probably does. (If you've never heard of K Switzer click the link to learn about her and the 1967 Boston Marathon.) Since it's been so long since un vrai français actually won the Tour anyway, la gloire du pays doesn't stand to lose much from letting women enter.

As for my training update...fit in an 800-yd swim workout this morning that I found on the internet. Portions of it allegedly involved an object known as a "pull buoy." I believe this to be an object resembling an overgrown styrofoam peanut, which I have oft seen lying at the edge of the pool but never observed in use. Once I attempted to use it I realized that I may need some additional instructions. I tried holding it between my ankles one lap, and between my knees for another lap, so that I could practice with just arms. Both of these laps felt more like a burlap sack race than a swimming practice.

Less than two weeks before the Tri.

I lapsed this evening in my resolve against all things deep-fried. However, I find that if I drink coca-cola with the spicy fries there is less of a grease hangover. Feeling mostly fine.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Modified Tri

Okay, here's a picture that matches today's story. I rode my bike up to Horseshoe Lake and changed into my running shoes where the pavement stopped. The gate is closed to car traffic on Sundays so no vehicles and their dust clouds to deal with. Just happy people walking or jogging with their dogs and / or pushing kids in jogging strollers.

The lure of the hiking trail pulled me off of the dirt road after about 10 minutes. The trail follows Big Chico Creek and it's shaded pretty well with the riparian trees and brush. Also makes for a more challenging, exciting run. Plenty of rocks to navigate. On a narrow wooded trail the sense of motion is different, and you don't think so much about how far you're trying to go because where you're at takes so much concentration. We've hiked on that trail a few times and I've always meant to come back and run it. The trail run segment was pretty short today though, for a couple reasons. Didn't want to overdo my I.T. band on the uneven trail (lots of rocks, up & downhill places, etc supposedly aggravate the problem). The other reason was Bear Hole. Bear Hole is one of several fine swimming holes along the creek--fine if there aren't two dozen college kids parked there with coolers and portable stereos making a day of it. The picture here was taken near Bear Hole last June, when the water was really high, but that's what the area looks like. I got to the Bear Hole parking area and just had to look down at the creek. Then I had to climb down the basalt rocks, take off my shoes and jump in. The cold water was good for my I.T. band. A few minutes later I was back on the trail. Ran for a total of about 35 minutes. Knee didn't hurt a bit. Maybe trail running and creek soak is exactly what it needs. I'm also energized by the arrival of autumn. So glad to be living in a place where the change of seasons is a real, though gentle, phenomenon, as opposed to Raining or Not Raining. Weather has cooled at least 15 degrees in the last couple weeks and there is a perceptible change in the light.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

free food?

Celia made a friend at one of her temp jobs last April, who invited us to attend her wedding this evening at a ranch north of town. Though I had never met this person I decided I was game to tag along. The ceremony was fairly short and to the point, and the outdoor setting lovely (the ranch apparently having been remodeled from cattle business to outdoor wedding business some time back), and the guests were thoughtfully assigned to sit at tables with people they were most likely to know. We sat with some of Ce's other acquaintences from the temp job, a small accounting firm. I have been trying to understand my attraction to parties and events where I may or may not have particularly strong connections to very many people, since I don't consider myself especially outgoing or eager to make small talk.

I think it's mostly about food. I will make small talk for hors d'oeuvres. This wedding reception also involved a full buffet-style dinner in addition to the hors d'oeuvres, and the other thing everyone was buzzing about was the Chocolate Fountain. They had a table with a fountain of warm chocolate and various fruits, pastries, cookies, and marshmallows on sticks that one could stick into the chocolate waterfall. Sort of a Willy Wonka wedding attraction.

Oh--there was also a bride and groom getting married. I heard a little of their story and it was very sweet; they have known each other since they were kids and are now in their thirties. Though I just met them for the first time tonight I understand that the bride is a football fan and her new husband is not, which in some way might partly account for Celia getting invited to the wedding. The bride-to-be, meeting Celia at the accounting firm, was thrilled to learn that she will be able to come over to our apartment on Any Given Sunday / Monday night and watch football to her heart's content. As for me, I like football mostly because of the food. My attention span is pretty much linked to the supply of tater tots; I get fidgety when they're gone.

Last night I went to a law school alumni / 1L student shmoozy event in Sacramento. I remembered that when I went as a 1L (1st-year law student) the food was really good. No memory whatsoever of who I talked to four years ago, but I remember the chicken satay with peanut sauce. However, last night in between bites of miniature quiches and salmon mousse canapes I also gave away all of my Legal Services business cards to 1Ls who were on a mission to interrogate as many alums as they could about our jobs. I could not have forseen myself engaged in this activity five years ago. What a weird culture I have landed in. Fortunately legal aid lawyers have their own culture within (or not quite within) the rest of the attorney world. We are allowed to wear comfortable shoes and we sometimes go to work in jeans. My office is staffed entirely by women and in a year's time I have seen nary hose nor heels. This is the right place.

Post-return from Sacramento and pre-wedding I had just time to add air to the tires and go for a bike ride, some loops around the airport, about 50 minutes. Wanted to run after the ride but I'll have to leave the running for tomorrow. I swam yesterday, about 32 laps, but I used my fins part of the time so as to fit more laps into a shorter amout of time since I got to the pool LATE again.

I realize my posts are long and a number of people, though they love me, can't quite take it all in. Still trying to figure out what this blog is really for. Makes sense that if I really wanted people to read it all, fewer words and more pictures would be helpful. Lacking a picture that really goes with this posting I'll just stick one in from last Sunday morning when I stole Celia's sleeping bag after she left it, rather like a mountain-going hermit crab. It's a cheap tactic to boost readership but I'm not above it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Just watched this film via Netflix for the first time. Wondering how much if anything Thor and the gang left out of the story. Could it really have been that much fun to hang out on a balsa raft for 101 days? I wonder, could I possibly ever grow tired of sushi?

Celia recently purchased some maps from AdventureCycling.org that lay out mile-by-mile how one can ride one's bicycle from San Francisco, CA to Fallon, NV. Additional maps take you from Fallon to Cedar City and thereon across the continent. So happens we are also reading Twain's *Roughing It* and he mentions taking 56 hours to travel 300 miles by overland stagecoach. This is an average of about 6 mph, a fairly easy jogging pace (though it's easier to change horses than legs). I am thinking about the effect that speed and distance have on our experience of place. Seems like a whole lot of place gets skipped most of the time. With gas now over $3 / gal my motivation to bike has increased. Drove today because I had appointments in a town 30 miles south of Chico, but trying to leave the truck parked as much as possible. Imagining what it would be like if no cars were on the highways and cyclists had free reign to ride where they pleased. This is the sunny side of the oil apocalypse.

I had a short but productive swim this a.m. After 6-8 laps I started feeling less tired and stiff. Lost my lane to the water aerobics class around 8:30 a.m. and decided to call it good at 450 yds. I have a problem with doddling around in the morning and leaving not enough time for as long a workout as I thought I wanted. Times like that I can hear the voice of the head waitress at the restaurant in Strasbourg, pungent Gitane cigarette dangling from her lip, exclaiming "Depeche-toi Emilie, hein?" as if sweeping up all the butts on the terrace were something to which one should devote ones full mental faculties. It is a refrain I have heard often in my life from pretty much everyone I've ever lived with or worked for or been coached by.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I was hoping to go for a bike ride with Ce tonight but she called around 3:00 to report that she had roadrash on both hands and a knee from reading a sales receipt while walking across the street in near the bike shop, where she was buying new tubes to change a flat to get ready for our ride. Injuries not serious but sore enough not to want to ride. By the time I got home at 6:00, after acquiring ingredients for canned salmon casserole (it's remarkably like tuna casserole but without the mercury), I'd decided that two rest days wouldn't be so bad. I was hungry, and dissatisfied with the level of doctoring Celia had performed on her abrasions. Plus we are way behind on our Netflix turnover--we've had half an episode of SCTV Season 4 to watch since last week. (In addition to camping, we've been reading our library books aloud again and getting behind on our TV--I fear for our future as productive citizens.) And I'm still sore from climbing up and down hills with a backpack.

Back to the gym pool in the morning.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The antidote

We spent the last two nights next to two different lakes in Lassen National Volcanic Park. I'd tell you to pack up and head to Juniper Lake with your tent right now but I have a feeling that this weekend might have been the last hurrah of its short summer season. Well, maybe next year?

Juniper Lake is at the southeast end of the park, about 15 miles up a dirt road from the town of Chester. The campground is primitive but popular; shortly after we pulled in on Friday, a caravan of SUVs full of loud children and their loud parents rolled in. Even so, the place is beautiful and I'd go back at a moment's notice, rugrats or no. Right after we crawled into our tent Friday night, a thunderstorm cut loose and we spent the next half-hour, before falling asleep, singing Eurythmics songs. "Here comes the rain again, falling on my head like a memory...."

When we woke up in the morning the tent was covered with frozen raindrops but the sky was blue. Mt. Lassen to the northwest of us was brilliant white, covered in snow, but since we weren't planning to go there it didn't phase us too much. The lake water was noticeably warmer than the air, causing a layer of mist to form over the lake in the morning. It looked like any minute a boat with Anjelica Huston standing in the bow would part the mists à la Marion Zimmer Bradley. Knowing that the water wasn't ice cold, I wanted to swim in it, but I was cold standing on the shore with my coat, hat, and assorted layers of techie outdoor clothing. Hard to get up the nerve to change into one layer of swimsuit, but around 10:30 a.m. I finally did. The water was cold enough--out of breath in about 3 minutes and had to get out--but it was exhilirating.

The north shore of Juniper Lake was the trailhead to the smaller, somewhat obscure Jakey Lake that for some reason stood out when we were reading through our Lassen trail guidebook. We (or I) had misread the book and thought that it was a 6 mile hike to Jakey, but turned out to be only 2.8 miles each way, for which my stiff everything is now grateful. Especially considering that we cut our estimate of snacking requirements a little close and made it back to the truck today with one dried fig and a package of instant oatmeal remaining in the larder.

We had Jakey Lake all to ourselves, at least in terms of other humans. I found myself wondering what bear scat looks like and thinking it would be a good thing to know. We had our bear-proof food canister which is clear so that the bears can look in and see what they're missing. It was so completely quiet by the lake last night, no wind and hardly a bird chirping, that I had to remind myself the thumping sound I heard was my own heartbeat and not a bear approaching to ask us what the hell did we mean by this unopenable plastic jar of powdered eggs and ramen noodles? I have never been fearful of wildlife when camping, but here in California they have you thinking that bears will be lured to maul you in your tent just to steal your toothpaste. Bears do show up at the more frequented park camping areas, and people have historically been stupid in their interactions with them, but I reminded myself that we're approaching Fall / Winter and bears' tummies are already pretty much full. Our toothpaste will not drive them insane with hunger. We put it in the bearproof jar anyway.

Jakey Lake felt warm when I put my hand in the water. I have realized ones hand cannot really be trusted as a predictor of swimming comfort. However, after the initial breathtaking shock when I submerged, this water was warm enough to adjust to. We were camping on the shallow end; I was happy to paddle and float around in about 4 feet of water and didn't swim to the other side or try to have a 'workout.' The most daring thing I did was to float on my back and look at the sky. I say daring because it was scary to have no reference point: no swimming pool walls, no trees, no floor, no ceiling, almost no gravity. It feels like you're falling into the sky, or that the sky is coming down to meet you. I was amazed but I couldn't stay there very long.

I think I might be turning into a mountain lake instant nirvana junkie. Three to five minutes is all it takes and I climb out numb and grinning ear to ear. It has to be a real lake, not a fake lake "with bathtub rings" as my Environmental Law prof would say, though a swimming hole in a creek or small river works fine too. In many ways Jakey Lake wouldn't be considered an ideal place to swim. I noticed this morning that the only thing really thriving in the lake are those backswimmer bugs that look like they have two oars for legs. What I thought might be little fish jumping were probably extra-large sized bugs popping up for air. They left me alone for my five minutes of nirvana though, so in return I fished most of their babies out of the kettle before we boiled it for drinking water this morning. The chance to have a lake all to yourself and a friend for a day or so is nothing to sniff at. Celia elected not to swim but she did a great job with providing the photographic evidence. Yes, that silouette that looks like a head and shoulders is me. Lady of the Lake for about five minutes.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

zero tolerance for zero tolerance policies

Ms. Who, Ms. Which.... There was a third character in this trio from Madeleine L'Engle's *A Wrinkle in Time* -- Ms. Whatsit? I think that was her name. Someone please fill me in if this is wrong. I'm thinking of this because of a line (which I will now paraphrase inaccurately, no doubt, so feel free to correct me there, too) delivered by the mysterious Ms. Which in the book: The only way to handle something deadly serious is to treat it a little lightly.

I thought about that line riding my bike to work this morning. It is difficult, at any given moment, to look head-on at the state our country is in, and maybe a good item to keep in the emergency supply kit is a replacement sense of humor. When I arrived at work my boss was having a look at the morning paper and noted that our local City Council just enacted a "zero-tolerance" policy for disruptive behavior by members of the public at city council meetings. Apparently folks need to sit quietly with hands folded, speak calmly for their alloted two minutes, and sit down. Well, maybe that's not such a bad thing, but why did they have to use that nasty phrase? The word 'tolerance' itself is already suspect in my book, but adding a zero to it is like a small verbal atomic bomb. To tolerate something or someone is to suffer it / him / her to exist even though you judge it / him / her undesirable. "Zero-tolerance" is the absolute opposite of charity. It says, we will no longer even bother using our rational minds and feeling hearts, much too bothersome. We have neither ability nor willingness to find a creative solution to the present problem, so we will just shrug our shoulders and drop the zero tolerance bomb. I don't think this is what the City Council meant to do but they should mind their language.

On the other hand, zero tolerance can sometimes be undone when someone decides to use their brain again. A California State Assemblymember has proposed legislation that would allow people who have been convicted of a drug offense (short of manufacture or sale) to be un-banned from getting public assistance for their kids if they have gone through a treatment program. I don't know, seems inconsistent with the government's general policy of stomping on those who have fallen to the bottom of the economic heap. It's tough love.

Another way to handle something deadly serious is to go swimming. It's the only event of the three that takes all of my concentration. No time for composing blog postings in advance during the swim. I was at the pool this morning, feeling pretty good until lap 24 or so when I started to run out of steam. I did a couple of the remaining 8 laps breaststroke to regroup and catch my breath. I was trying to pay special attention to keeping my arms and legs moving while taking a breath--I realized that I stop kicking when I breathe. Also realized the purpose of the "catch-up drill" where you touch one hand on top of the other on each stroke: your arms are suppose to be in front of you as much as possible. Mine tend to get there sooner or later. So much to think about--it's 8:00 a.m.--do you know where your arms and legs are? Legs are sinking? Have to constantly remind myself to push my face downward so that my legs will come back to the surface. If my goggles get water in them I either have to stop and fix it or try to think about all of the above while trying not to think about the water in my eye. Have to talk myself into finishing all the laps I set out to do plus a few easy ones to cool down at the end. Do you think I could be overthinking it?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

SPECIAL GUEST POSTING: a letter to the prez

Dear Readers:

As a public service and also for the thrill of it, Emily's Training Blog has the honor of posting a copy of an email recently sent to none other than that Whited Sepulchre on Pennsylvania Ave. wherein festers the moldering mind and soul of America's top dude. My friend Leslie, a Louisiana native with whom I went to law school, a rising star of advocacy for all kinds of people disadvantaged by the effects of poverty and discrimination, gave me permission to post this message to our leader of some of her thoughts re: his job performance. May he take it to heart. Thanks, Leslie, for sharing this.

Email follows:


Dear Your Holy King,


George, I'm doing you a BIG favor today -- I'm here to take some of the heat off of you 'bout this New Orleans, Mississippi, Texas, South mess and all.

I know you really want the world to believe that the destruction of New Orleans by wind and water was unanticipated. Uh, Yeah. But, see, homes, if you go to school in New Orleans (aka Nola) (like I did), you learn when you're 5 years old that hurricanes cause damage and that Nola's levees are important. In kindegarten, Miss Margaret told me that when a big storm comes, the levees might break and we'd all be in big trouble if they did.

BIG TROUBLE. The words are echoing in my ears now. In 9th grade Civics class, Mr. Grady Spears told me that if I wanted to grow old in New Orleans and raise children there, it was my duty to help protect da levees and da wetlands.

Ok, so here's the part where I bail you out. I failed. I did not write 1 letter to you or anyone on the earth about the funding cuts to the army corps of engineers in Louisiana or the need to build a better levee system or having Louisiana national guard and troops (including my cousin) in Iraq during hurricane season or selling off the wetlands to private developers. And I knew.

If I had written, would you have listened? You didn't listen to Louisiana's legislature or governors -- and you're our damn neighbor!!!! Would/could my letter have impacted your unexercised mind? I guess now I'll always wonder.

I hope others take heed in my story. Get political about the things you care about. They all could be washed away in an instant -- especially by our current administration.

Also, Daddy G, your job is REALLY HARD. It's okay to quit. It's not that you couldn't do the job if you tried -- you're just too lazy, way too selfish, and not well-intentioned. I'd call you "EVIL" but it's not polite and I am still Southern. Clearly you don't want to be President, so don't.

I know you're a nice guy. I met you 17 years ago (1988) when I was campaigning for your POP against Dukakis. I was one of those teenage volunteers in the Superdome conference rooms painting signs of American flags and drawing Bushes with quayles in them. It's not that I was a Republican, I just wanted to do my part for the political process and thought I might meet movie stars. Plus, what else was there for teens to do in New Orleans in the summer?

New Orleans helped put your daddy in the White House then, 'member? My City provided the BIGGEST ROOF you could find (New Orleans Superdome) over your entire family and your friends, but that's all water under the bridge, I guess. Where's a roof when you need it, eh?

I hope you give something back.

Step down, most holy annointed one, and tell your administration to do the same.

Face it, bud, we were friends once, but you're tired and washed up now.

Take care,
Leslie Q. Davis

P.S. What's up with JR for Chief Justice???? Do you want to get voted off the island by your own Court? Do you not watch "Survivor"? Hellooooo -- Alliances, ahem. Are the other justices that unqualified? I mean, yes, they've made HUGE MISTAKES, but can't you give them an opportunity? Or better yet, I nominate Justice Cruz Reynoso. He has my vote, if you care. Thelton Henderson would be pretty cool, too -- or Connie Rice (she's Condoleeza's cousin so you'd still be keeping it in
the family, dig?) Just give Thurgood Marshall's seat back for once and for all, mon ami, before all we have left of Civil Rights is a Museum in Memphis.

What's next, your highness? the hottie nephew of yours who just graduated from University of Texas Law to fill O'Connor's seat??????


P.P.S. Tell Laura hi. She was so nice to me 17 years ago when we talked about how bright the future could be. Just sucks when smart women marry fools.

P.P.P.S. My friends who are busy relocating wanted me to thank you. This is the 1st vacation they've had in 3 years!!!!

If you need help, you know where to find me. You have for a long time. Hooray for the Patriot Act! Still, if that fails, I'll be teaching in Texas or Louisiana. My class and I will send you postcards to let you know how it's goin'.

"In the war on poverty, don't dodge the draft."

Monday, September 05, 2005

all I need to know I learned from onion (st)rings

We ate at Pyramid Brewing last night in Sacramento and it came to pass that there was something on the appetizer menu called "Onion Strings." Battered and deep-fried and seasoned innocent little strings of onion, with a side of "chipotle catsup." [Note: author can't remember what spelling was employed on the menu but 'ketchup' doesn't seem to match 'chipotle' as well.] I was determined to have these Onion Strings. I had fully recovered from the french fries I had eaten two or three nights before. Celia tried to call on the better angels of my nature by asking a rhetorical question, i.e. "why do you like to eat things that hurt you?" but I would not be moved. Onion strings / rings are practically a vegetable anyway; how much harm could they do? Besides, they would be a good warm-up for the meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

When the pile of onion strings arrived Celia noted that it was larger than my head, which though apparently proportional to the rest of my body, is still a good 23 1/4 inches in circumference at the widest point. I dove in, and yes, they were good for the first 10 or 20 bites or so. Celia ate some too and thought they were pretty good. But of course she was right, they turned on me even before we left the restaurant. I got off fairly easy with moderate nausea and a feeling of bloatedness, but I couldn't help but think, now Emily, is this the diet of an aspiring triathlete?

Later that night we were at Tower Books and I purchased a copy of TRIATHLETE magazine. I have long resisted purchasing triathlon-related magazines because, unlike Runner's World, they don't seem geared toward entry level people. The pictures in the magazines are of men and women in skimpy lycra outfits with nary an extra roll of skin on their bodies, riding $2000 - $4000 and up bicycles that would appear to be totally useless for any other purpose than a triathlon. The bike I'm going to be "racing" with is the same bike I ride to work and the grocery store, and it has a rack on the back for toting the groceries. I confess to having a fair amount of lycra in my wardrobe but let's just say I have adequate stored energy reserves in certain areas. However, closer inspection of the magazine revealed that there are some beginner-oriented articles (despite lack of photo evidence). And, I thought, if I really got into this sport, maybe some of the bony-looking freaks in the magazine would be my friends some day, and I shouldn't judge them too harshly. I envy their commitment to their training; there are other parts of my life that are too important to me to sacrifice in favor of being a great athlete, but I know I could still do better.

Taken together with the lesson of the onion strings, the magazine prompted me to reevaluate how serious I want to be about this endeavor, and perhaps how serious I want to be about my health in general. I'm going to be 33 years old tomorrow, maybe it's a good time to work on nourishing myself with a little more compassion and good sense. I'm not ready to swear off all things deep-fried but maybe I can handle a moratorium until the triathlon. Only four weeks away.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

We drove down to Capay to visit Celia's friends at their lovely ranch next to Cache Creek, and to meet their 11-week old Golden Retriever pup. Wouldn't you know it, both the ranch house and the guest bedroom in the cabin have wireless internet, and wouldn't you know it, I brought my laptop along for that very possibility.

Friday I swam in the Sycamore Pool for about 20 minutes. Did two full loops of the pool, once with fins on for the kick-building exercise, and then a couple fast, short lengths. I guess this weekend is the last hurrah of the pool for the season; after Labor Day the city lets it return to regularly scheduled creek level. Still might be enough water in it to swim in the deep end, but I think they want to let the fish have a turn. If I want other "open water" practices I'll have to hunt elsewhere.

Yesterday, Celia and I rode our bikes for 20 minutes up to Horseshoe Lake (unfortunately due to years of lead buckshot from the neighboring gun club it is NOT an open water swimming option), parked our bikes and jogged on the dirt road for about 20 minutes, then rode back. We took a detour through Oroville on our way south to the ranch to stop at Swim / Bike / Run, a little shop that opened a few months ago. The woman who owns it was pleasantly surprised to learn that we came to Oroville just to visit her shop. Celia bought a birthday present for me (that I picked out), a pair of lycra tri-shorts that have a pocket in the back. She speculated that tri-specific clothing is possibly a racket and I can't say I disagree, but we also agreed that having the clothes and other gewgaws of one's sport(s) increases one's motivation and excitement for participation. Celia has been tearing up the road with her running shoes lately. Actually it's the other way around--the soles of her old running shoes are almost worn through. She's hunting for a new pair that was not made by sweatshop labor in China. We've heard that such things exist, but I'm afraid she might be running barefoot before she can find them.

I confess I didn't look to see where my fancy tri-shorts were made. I wonder if the people sewing things like that day after day think, why the heck would people in the USA want to buy this? what is its purpose?

Later in the day we swam in the pool here at the ranch, and our hosts fed us a sumptuous dinner of grilled chicken & veggie kabobs, broiled tomatoes with white beans & rosemary, sliced melon.... It's a hard life but somebody's got to live it.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

what are all these poor people doing in our country?

Granted that I've only been around since 1972, but I can't remember the mainstream media ever having broadcast such images of such loss and poverty in the homeland before. Plenty of disaster and destruction, sure, but never as strong a statement about what it means to live without an economic safety net. What it really means to have no money to put gas in your car, or not to have a car at all. What it means to try to survive on a once-a-month aid check even under normal circumstances. I understand that there are differences of opinion about welfare and how it has been / should be reformed, but I can't help thinking that 37 million or so Americans have basically been given the finger by their government. Thinking back to junior high civics and assorted law school courses, I don't recall that giving Americans the finger was supposed to be a role of any of the three branches, though maybe I was dozing off during that particular lecture in ConLaw I.

There is a game called Jenga played with little wooden blocks. You stack all the blocks into a solid tower and then players take turns removing blocks one by one, carefully so the tower doesn't collapse because if it collapses on your turn, you lose. It gets exciting toward the end when you have a rickety, barely stable structure and you're looking for that last (hopefully) non-essential block to remove. Pretty easy at the beginning though. As long as your hand is fairly steady, you can pull out music and arts education from public schools, library funding, Section 8 housing assistance vouchers, Medicaid coverage, flood control.... Wait, what was I talking about?

Back to our regularly scheduled blog. Emily's Training this morning was brief but spirited. Rode my bike up to 5-Mile in the park which took about 15 minutes, then changed shoes and jogged for 10 minutes, then rode home. I was hopeful last night that the swimming wouldn't keep me awake, but I woke up at 2:30 and couldn't fall asleep for a couple hours. Maybe it was unrelated to swimming. My stomach was a little upset too. I just discovered a medical condition online called "Restless Legs Syndrome." Like a good Virgo of course I'm wondering if I possibly have it. "Do you have a creepy, crawly sensation in your legs at night when you attempt to sleep?" Well, quite often lying down my legs feel like they want to be running. Not so much crawly as jumpy. It's hard to sleep when your legs are trying to run off without you. I guess the chances that my jumpiness is a bonafide Syndrome are pretty slim though. Celia just said she thought she saw a commercial today for a drug to treat Restless Legs Syndrome. Come on! Ads for hayfever pills, ulcers and impotence are one thing, one can imagine a large population of suffering consumers, but sometimes one becomes suspicious about which came first, the drug or the diagnosis?

Maybe I could take up nighttime ultramarathon running like Dean Karnazes . Now there are some restless legs.

Swimming in Sycamore Pool in the morning! I'm going to try swimming around the perimeter this time instead of just up and back. I am a shark that must keep moving--restless fin syndrome?

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

saved by the slow food movement

I had a clever plan tonight to pick up dinner on the way home so that I could fulfill my Wednesday night dinner duty and still make it to that bike ride by 6:00. Got to the organic sandwich shop at about 5:40. A customer in line ahead of me was explaining the complicated raw juice mixture she wanted to order. I am terrible at estimating the amount of time realistically required to do most things. I can't accuse the shop of being unreasonably slow. 15 minutes to assemble my tofu mushroom burger and nachos while manifesting compassion for all beings is really speedy, when you think about it, but I had to cope with the disappointment of missing the group bike ride. Didn't feel like doing the whole ride solo again. I got home exactly at 6:00 and consoled myself with the fact that now I could at least eat my half of the tofu mushroom burger and nachos. Realized I was hungry to the point of grouchiness. Probably would have been dumb to do that ride on only a few gulps of dinner.

However, I am pleased to report that after dinner and being distracted by an episode of "Monster Garage" in which an all-women team of mechanics and welders were tearing apart a Camaro like so many wrench-wielding Bacchae, I managed to ride my bike to the gym where I swam for about 35 minutes. 40 laps total. When I got to the pool all the lanes had someone in them and I waited for a couple minutes to see if someone would leave. The person in the far left lane had a dark blue swim cap with a little American flag on it and looked like she knew what she was doing, totally smooth and relaxed. I finally asked her if I could share her lane and of course she said yes. For my first several laps I thought I was actually swimming better for having watched someone who knows what she is doing in the water, but the effect was sadly temporary. She could do about three lengths for every one of mine, and that was in her slow cooldown phase. A friend recently reminded me of a Maxine Kumin poem about a swimmer swimming to the cadence of "Abide with Me." If I ever get to the point where my brain can stop obsessing over its silly oxygen dependency that makes it think swimming is a cruel joke, and I find myself keeping stroke rhythm with music in my head, I really will have arrived.

Knowing that it's possible someone might read this provided a little extra motivation to get out there tonight, so thanks, whether you have an opinion about any of this or not. I've finally found a way to benefit from caring a little too much about what other people think. The old Emily might have just stayed home to find out what was on after Monster Garage, immobilized by self-pity for having missed the bike ride.

Another motivating factor is that I'm not up for a lot of channel surfing right now. Listened to NPR during the drive to Oakland and back yesterday and the radio is grim enough. Even some of my clients have been too wrapped up in watching the news to talk to me when I've called in the last few days. Would be hard to justify a whole lot of self-pity at the present time, what with having all my worldly possessions intact and my family members and friends mostly in bone-dry western states. Be sure to check back later, though, for updates on future pity parties.

Monday, August 29, 2005

do not read this while operating heavy machinery

Gee, and I was feeling so calm today. Went to bed around 10 but eventually started thinking about those clients again. They are in a bad situation and I'd love to be able to tell the whole story right here but I'm trying to stay on top of the whole professional ethics ballgame. Part of me wants to show up with my truck and help them move this week, and maybe there is nothing wrong with doing that, but one of my big challenges with this job is the emotional boundaries. They haven't asked me to help them move, but that caretaking impulse--sometimes, like the dark side of the force it is! The last thing I need is for word to leak out that that nice lady at legal aid has a pickup truck. Whatever you've heard--the rumors are not true. Don't believe everything you read on the internet.

Still, there might be a few other things I can do from the safety of my office while keeping my bouncing baby boundaries intact.

Heading to Oakland in the morning for a training on something or other. Tri-training is taking the day off tomorrow. I ran about 25 minutes this morning, shorter than planned due to the fact than when I woke up our water was shut off so I spent the first several minutes of intended running time looking for usable bathroom facilities in the park. Which led me, later in the day, to call the Parks Commission and complain. Seems the city's not getting its money's worth (if it's spending any) on porta-potty maintenance. I have now posted the Park Porta-Potty Crisis Hotline number next to our phone and plan to program it into my cellphone as well. If you have been shocked, disgusted, and disappointed in your hour of need in Bidwell Park, the number to call is (530) 896-7800.

RE: running, I'm still having my IT band problem despite the new running shoes. Weird sensation, not sharp pain like I've heard it described, but an uncomfortable tightness on the outside of my left knee. Though if I can remember right, it hurt pretty bad during the SF marathon in 1997. Doesn't tighten up until I stop running, which suggests an obvious solution! If I just keep running, I'll be fine, right? Good thing the run is at the end. Who cares about pain at the end of a race anyway. Nothing a bag of frozen peas and some ibuprofen can't fix right up. [note to shopping list: need more frozen peas]

Sunday, August 28, 2005

the waiver has been electronically signed

Just registered for the Luna Bar Women's Triathlon , October 2 at Rancho Seco Park. I wonder if we'll be able to see the nuclear power plant from the staging area?

Ce & I rode our bikes this morning, about 21+ miles out in the almond orchards northwest of town. I'd like to take back anything cheeky I said about clipless pedals. They make me feel mighty real. Definitely less like a penguin on solid ground. The acceleration! The power! Okay, no atoms have been split, but they do make a difference for someone who likes to go fast more than she might let on. Especially when you stand up on the bike. All that precious energy once lost in the upstroke is now MINE. Ha ha ha ha ha!

During the ride I had some second thoughts about going swimming afterwards...wouldn't it be nice to go home and eat tater tots instead? Relax and feel satisfied with the exercise performed? Maybe I got a second wind though. I headed to the gym and alternated 100 - 200 yd stints with some kicking drills. I didn't count how many laps altogether but I think I was in the water about 35 minutes. Then I was very tired. I got home and we walked downtown for lunch at Tres Hombres. Barely dragging my feet along, I couldn't help but think, this is the part where I'm supposed to be running? Fortunately the triathlon was not today. Food helped though.

Running in the morning, just so my hamstrings don't feel left out of all the fun. Have to say the sensation of trying to run after you get off the bike is not pleasant and since I haven't been going to the group tri-training sessions it's hard to convince myself I want to practice it. But tomorrow is clearly not the time. I biked adequately today. Maybe I'll have another go at the Fast 40 on Wednesday.

Last note for the night--I feel strangely calm and content considering that tomorrow is Monday. The idea of going back to work doesn't inspire dread. Normally Sunday night is haunted by vague work anxiety but I usually feel better on Monday morning after geting some sleep. Now I'm a step ahead. I'll probably even fall asleep fast tonight. See, I TOLD you that clipless pedals would completely change my life.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Re: penguins

We jumped on the March of the Penguins bandwagon (or toboggan?) today. Provided me with some perspective on my swimming. Here is a creature one doesn't look at and immediately think "endurance athlete." Almost seems like a mean joke that they have to walk a couple hundred miles a year.

I wonder if our ability to artificially adapt to our environment and move faster through it with technology is ultimately more trouble than it's worth. I can imagine Celia saying "well DUH" to that speculation. However, we are such frail little furless things. If penguins could develop snowmobile technology, they would probably be dumb not to use it given their circumstances. But if the penguins could improve their survival odds to the point that there came to be too many penguins....

The weird thing about humans is we create all this adaptive technology, a lot of it for our own amusement, like the bike shoes I bought yesterday so that I can use my clipless pedals again. Yet there are sections of the globe and even the neighborhood where people are obviously not deriving much benefit from all the technology. Some of us have palatial wood and stone houses with two car garages, some of us live in 40-year-old mobile homes with bad wiring, some of us camp by the river. Some of us are driven for whatever reason to test our utmost physical limits and some of us won't get off the sofa. Both extremes are puzzling to me. The penguins' biggest advantage over us is that they know exactly what they need to do at any given time, and they do it. Maybe some penguins have a better knack with penguin life skills than others, but none of them come with snowcat treads or a motor, or a heatlamp, or Goretex.

Another penguin - human analogy comes to mind. I hear Morgan Freeman's voice intoning "Penguins are at home in the sea." The underwater shots of them appear to confirm this statement. They are transformed--they are not flightless at all!
Well, my friends, you and I and Lance Armstrong and Sheryl Crow and the people camping by the creek are all, for the duration of our lives, basically penguins waddling over solid ground, no matter how clever and beautiful our adaptations. This world, lovely though it can be, is not our ideal environment. Our discomfort prompts all manner of bizarre human adaptations.

I had these thoughts partly because one of the things about the penguin movie that got to me was the sense of passing time. The idea of huddling with an egg on top of your feet for three months, the idea of walking 70 mile stretches with a stride that can't be more than a foot or two at the most, all the humans in the audience are thinking, Damn! How can they stand the monotony? Why do we have this compulsion to create arbitrary measurements for things that don't exist? What, exactly, is a minute? Why not just have sunrise and sunset and let it go at that?

I'm probably not going to be able to resolve these matters in this blog posting, especially since Ce was hoping we could read for awhile tonight. Today all our exercise was in the form of practical transportation, using our miraculously long legs to walk to the farmers' market, the bank, the bike shop, the Co-op, and eventually the penguin movie where we fed on popcorn and Pibb. (It's not Mr. Pibb any more, it's Pibb Xtra--a superlatively androgynous carbonated beverage. Marketing adaptations.) Planning tomorrow to swim and then go for a bike ride with Ce, wearing my new bike shoes clamped into the clipless pedals. They will no doubt completely change my life for the better.

Friday, August 26, 2005

The 5-minute rule

Read some triathlon training advice awhile back suggesting that when you don't feel like training, you tell yourself you're only going to go out for 5 minutes. Then by the time you've done something for 5 minutes, usually you feel like since you're already here, you might as well keep going.

This is a great idea unless 5 minutes is really all the time you have. The strategy would seem to defeat itself at that point. This morning, however, I had at least 20 minutes for my dip into the waters of Big Chico Creek. The combination of blog therapy and revised prayer / meditation helped and I fell asleep not long after my last post, but 6:30 was not doable this morning. I slept another hour and made it across the street to the pool by 7:50, swam about 4 lengths in 20 minutes, and climbed out feeling like I at least did something. Since lengths in the regular pool take me 30 - 35 seconds (25 yards), I'm guessing that Sycamore Pool is about 250 yards long? I'll have to try it again another time, since I felt slow and winded this morning. At least a third of the time I swam breaststroke.

On the other hand, all those little stops to turn around in the regular pool add up and it's tempting to pause an extra second or two at the wall to catch my breath, so maybe it all evens out. I don't know how to do flip turns and I am averse to being under water upside-down and backwards, unless I'm wearing a diving mask. Good thing I don't aspire to competing in a swimming pool.

Note on prior warning to cats: it was enforced against Kato at 5:00 a.m. I set out a water dish for him so he wouldn't be thirsty outside. At 7:30 when I got up, I opened the door and he immediately ran back in, meowing and muttering all the way. Maybe we'll adjust the penalty to being shut in the bathroom instead. I don't want it to be a mean punishment, I just want to get my #@$&*!@ sleep!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

now I lay me down to worry half the night

Last word on the bike ride--exercising at night keeps me fresh and wide awake at 4:00 a.m. Cats playing tag over the bed enhance the effect. I delivered a short lecture on this subject tonight with a warning that the first kitty who does a hit & run after midnight tonight will be going outside to play until morning. In space, no one can hear you scream, especially if the sliding glass door is shut.

I took today (Thursday) off from training since I finally got some quality R.E.M.s from 6:30 - 7:30 a.m. Didn't have a workout tonight. However due to an extra panic-stricken phone call from a client toward the end of the day at work, I can't keep my brain from rolling over and over like a wayward wheel. Trying to figure out why, apart from a normal experience of human sympathy and my limited functions as a lawyer, their problem (bad and real though it is) should be so embraced as if it were somehow my own. It's totally illogical--all I can do at this hour is produce excess gastric juices. I am all in favor of prayer but it hasn't worked well lately as either a sedative or an antacid. Maybe I've been making the wrong requests though. At this point it would be more honest of me to pray "Please make my brain shut up so I can sleep" than it is to pray "Please help ____ find a place to live before next Saturday" since I already asked the latter a couple times. Once in high school I was writing a paper late into the night before it was due and I suddenly got the hiccups. Went on for several minutes, totally distracting. I prayed, please make the hiccups stop since holding my breath, etc. etc. had not worked. They stopped immediately.

I was at a meeting at Creekside Cellars tonight (heard there might be some free cheese) and somebody in the course of conversation quoted Einstein as having said either everything is a miracle, or nothing is a miracle. I who have experienced miraculous delivery from hiccups.... My acidic thoughts, lying awake, are not unlike hiccups. No useful purpose. Get them behind me.


Turns out my ride was a little shorter, about 25 miles, therefore more like a fast 40k.

Also when I tried to put more pressure in the tire this morning, I got a pinch flat. More practice ahead.

Planning to swim in the Sycamore Pool in the morning. Friday morning is the only time I will immerse myself in said pool as it is drained and cleaned on Thursdays. Not so much floating detritus. It's good to have "open water" to swim in though. The possibility of giardia is an added thrill.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The soundtrack within

Perhaps others experience this: your brain picks a song to match whatever the pace of your run or bikeride. Sometimes when I want to maintain or increase my pace, I try to pick the song myself, but it takes some concentration to maintain it.

Tonight I attempted a group ride known as the "Fast 50" referring to kilometers (I think). Happens every Wednesday night in Chico and the departure point is across the street from my house. I went because my co-worker (who is training for her second triathlon) said she did it last week because her coach told her there was a slow contingent. She said she got dropped in the dust by this alleged "slow" group, so I thought, hey, why don't I ride too and we can be THE slow group. Sometime over the past week it seems her cycling vastly improved. Either that or the slow group didn't show up the first time she did the ride. So tonight, as the "slow" group which now included my co-worker, vanished into the distance about half an hour into the ride, I realized I am not really a real cyclist just yet.

The soundtrack happened like this: pumping away, determined to keep the slow group in sight if not catch them, my head was singing the Eurythmics. "Run run run run--to run away from you--is all that I could do--run run run..." Awhile down the road, when I could no longer see anyone ahead of me, I woke up and realized that my head had started singing Goodnight Irene. Much better. Much more comfortable. My brain is a sensible DJ. "Stop your ramblin', stop your gamblin', stop staying out late at night / Go home to your wife and family, sit down by the fireside bright."

That lasted until I got a flat tire about 5 miles away from home. I had changed a couple tires in the comfort of my living room with hours to devote to the project, but not yet on the road. Some real cyclists passed and asked if I was OK, and I said "yes, I have a tube." Which I did, and tire levers, and a mini pump. So in a record 25 minutes I in fact changed the tube and rode triumphantly (though in the dark) home. "We are the Champions, my friend...'cause we went on fighting to the end...we are the champions, we are the champions, no time for losers 'cause we are the champions...of the WORLD!"

Maybe some day soon I will be a really real cyclist.