"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"

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?