Monday, November 02, 2009
While I was trying to write my first sonnet, a second one rudely interrupted and insisted on coming out first. So here they are, in order of their birth (but reverse order of conception).
These sonnet rules do cause the mind to rage
Time ticks away, the deadline doth approach
Though inspiration shines upon the page
The lines resist all efforts to be coached
into neat rhythms tied up with a bow
encased in fourteen lines measured in fives
There must be well kept tricks that I don't know
which give eternity to poet's lives
That Shakespeare makes a student's life pure hell
Examples lofty in their faultless prime
Just three more lines before the sounding bell
At least I'll fin'lly turn one in on time!
In time and hist'rys dimming light shall fade
This poem and (a hopef'lly) passing grade
My restless youth was full of lonely years.
Love's sweet caress was ever far from shore.
Watched friends aglow but hid my bitter tears,
that fell atop a barren desert floor.
Through modern web I cast my spid'ry eye,
you lured through the promise of like minds.
At rink's edge did I see you standing by,*
and rolled into your arms through fate's designs.
Like parted souls rejoined we made our vow,
through sickness, health, in happy and in sad,
Long wait forgotten in the here and now,
your presence wipes away all but the glad.
Though in the law, we be not legal wives,
Your best friend I remain, for all our lives.
*Yes, we met online and then at roller skating rink
Friday, October 23, 2009
If you’re a Fat Cyclist reader, I’m sure you’re probably used to bigger and better prizes. So sorry I don’t have a bike or a fabulous trip to give away. But---fighting cancer is about everyone doing what they can. I’ve got this toy sitting around I don’t need, doing my part to kick cancer in the nuts is more useful than making a few bucks off Ebay.
So, even though I’ve just broken every good rule of blogging by posting to my ghost-town of a blog, on a Friday afternoon, I’m hoping you’ll help make sure my day isn’t a total bust, by going over to my page and dropping a fiver or three or four and telling your friends. Those of you who knew my mom, who we lost to Cancer in 2007, know I come by this procrastination honestly. She was late to her own funeral you know. (I made sure of it—consistency is important).
This contest will last until Midnight PST on Monday Oct 26th. Tuesday, I’ll announce the winner. For the price of a crappy Starbucks latte, you could have yourself a cool new toy. Regardless, you’ll be fighting cancer—and that’s always a good way to spend the day.
For mom. Miss you.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Going to school during the summer had many nasty side effects, one of which was that I didn’t ride my mountain bike on one single trail for the entire summer. The closest I got was doing a few short track races at PIR, which, being 10 minutes by bike from home is pretty convenient. Still, last summer, I did both Mountain Bike Oregon Weekends and even managed to run off to Bend with my girlfriend. I couldn’t stomach the idea that my poor steed wouldn’t touch a trail in 09.
Luckily when I sent out a desperate call for a last minute riding buddy, Zan replied. She shuffled a few meetings around and suddenly we had a whole Friday to search out and ride that sweetest of mountain biker drugs—singletrack.
I perused my stack of little-used guide books and we narrowed the choices to either Post Canyon in Hoodriver, or Hagg Lake, just an hour west of Portland. Since we were looking for something a little more cross country, than freeride oriented, we chose Hagg Lake, and to say we weren’t disappointed would be an understatement.
As Zan was loading my bike onto her car rack, I heard her yelling out the name of a mutual friend who was just riding up to my neighbor’s house to go on a road ride with them. When we mentioned our chosen destination, her look was not very approving. “Is the trail bad,” we asked, concerned.
“No, it was just a little buggy.”
Since fall was well underway, we figured that wouldn’t be a problem.
We parked near the dam and entered the trail having no idea what we would find. The weather was as perfect as we could ask for—a picturesque fall day with full sun and a light breeze. The trail started out mellow, winding gently through a tunnel of trees. For about 90 seconds I found myself thinking, “This is nice…I could even bring Jess out here*.” Then things got interesting.
The trail started to dish out surprises—going from smooth and flowy in one second to sudden turns revealing small, but lung/leg-busting little hills that would leave you walking if you weren’t geared down and ready for them. I become more alert and more excited. My smile got bigger. Dragonflies darted in and out of my path but there wasn’t a mosquito to be found.
About 15 minutes in, we made a hard right turn into a sharpe, longish off-camber incline with enough exposure to make me rethink my attempt to ride it. It was one of the many sections we encountered that I thought might be rideable on a second pass. But such is the fun of exploring a new trail. You don’t know what’s coming so you just have to stay focused and try to react without letting your brain get in the way. When we started, I felt like I didn’t even remember how to ride over bumps, but after a little while, I started to loosen up.
The biggest surprise of the day was finding out pretty quickly that I’m a more advanced MTB rider than Zan. Zan is an Ironman and a regular racer with our team and could easily hand me my ass on the road, without even breathing heavy (which is good since she has asthma). In fact the one road ride that Jess and I took with Zan a couple of summers ago, she was recovering from a bad cold and her lungs were still pretty weak, which was the only reason we managed any semblance of keeping up.
Mountain biking seems to require just the kinds of sudden hard efforts that asthma probably doesn’t like—and hills are more challenging because you’re also navigating obstacles. We quickly fell into a routine, with me riding in front so I could keep my rhythm going and just stopping every few minutes to wait. It gave me a chance to enjoy the scenery and stop and smell—well if not the roses, then the trees.
The nice thing about riding around a lake, is that you don’t have to do a lot of way finding. For the most part when we encountered forks in the trail, we just kept turning right. We did take a few wrong turns, which ended us either at a cliff overlooking the water or in one case, a disc golf course ‘hole.’ We just counted it all as part of the adventure.
It’s a good thing there weren’t many bugs because they might have ended up in my teeth. The smiling was pretty constant and I kept suppressing the urge to shout for no reason—and sometimes I didn’t bother. I felt like Hiro after he teleported to NY for the first time.
Zan and I couldn’t figure out why no one had ever mentioned how extremely awesome the Hagg Lake trail is. Even Danielle hadn’t said anything that morning. Maybe the bugs were so bad, she had blocked out the good memories.
There seemed to be a bit of everything to be had. As we worked our way around, skinny tunnels through trees gave way to wider bits of double track along open fields, which turned into literal singe-track—divets through high grasses just big enough for our fat tires.
About two thirds of the way around, we got going after a photo stop and I got into a particularly good groove. The trail was throwing some challenging hills, but I went into the zone and powered up them. Then there would be the descent and some flowing curves. I was killing it, and I could hear Zan right behind me, which kept me motivated to go faster.
Finally the trail opened up again and I pulled to one side of a double track section, and a guy I didn’t know whooshed past, yelling “Wow, you’re in really good shape!” as he went by.
Oh crap! All that time I thought it was Zan! “I thought you were my friend!” I yelled as he pedaled away. It wasn’t long before the real Zan came pedaling up. She had heard him coming in pretty hot and pulled over right away. It’s kind of hard to look over your shoulder on the trail. It’s a good way to run into a tree. No harm done and we continued on our way.
All too soon, we could see the dam and the road going over it that meant our perfect trail was near it’s end. A short pavement stint took as back to the parking lot where we sat on a picnic bench and ate snacks. Zan introduced me to something called Primal Strips that look and taste like jerky but are vegan. You can pick gluten free or ones made without soy. They were pretty tasty and I couldn’t wait to try them out on Jess.
Two fishermen wandered over looking every inch the part except for one guy with an incongruous Livestrong bracelet. He inquired whether we had ridden around the lake, the distance and how long it took. “That’s longer than I need to ride,” was his conclusion. He saw us struggling to open up our Primal strips and kindly offered up his friend’s pocket knife, which he promised hadn’t been used on any fish. Since the knife was about 2 inches long, I figured he was telling the truth.
He was inspired to tell us about his son, who did a triathlon nearby and how he talked his girlfriend—who had never run before in her life—into doing a half-ironman. “It was a big race—they had real Ironmen from Hawaii and everything.”
Zan was quiet, and by the greatest effort of will, I refrained from bragging for her about her Ironman status. She had just showed me her new tattoo of her Ironman Canada number before we started the ride. But Zan’s not one for showing off, so I kept my mouth shut.
“Did she break up with him?” I asked the fisherman, about the girlfriend. Jess wasn’t happy with me for taking her on a 65 mile ride of all hills in the coast range. I could just imagine the reaction of someone who had never run trying to do a triathlon with little no training.
He laughed. “Well, things were tense for a while and I don’t think there was a lot of lovin’ going on.” He didn’t quite have an accent, but he drawled in a way particular to people who’s lives are slower-paced than city dwellers.
We we quiet then, going back to our respective enjoyment of what would turn out to be one of the last gorgeous days of fall.
On the drive back, we hit the inevitable traffic snarl on Hwy 26, and Zan had the brilliant idea of getting of at Sylvan and taking Skyline to Germantown Rd and over the St John’s bridge. It’s a road she’s ridden dozens of times, but had never driven. After we’d passed a few cyclist on the narrow road with more than it’s share of blind corners, she wondered aloud how they ever survived riding up there!
Of course we hit another parking lot on the road as we got to the bottom of Germantown, but it didn’t take too long to inch our way onto the bridge entrance. Zan pulled over to let a tailgating guy in an 80’s red Prelude pass by before he smashed up the bikes on the rear rack.
The whole day made me simultaneously glad I’d managed at least one MTB ride and kicking myself for not somehow squeezing in more of them over the summer. I’ll be holding onto the memory of smooth flowing trail under a bright blue sky to see me through a long winter of gray.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
...because knowing is half the battle.
1. OK, I'm getting to work. See me study web site design. Now where was that tutorial I was going to check out? Hmm, I will search for it.
3. (30 min later...) wow, this site is full of great stuff. So helpful and interesting. I think I'll check out the examples of good design next.
4. (Clicks on example page). Wow, this guy not only has a good site, he is hysterical and totally twisted. Better sign up for the RSS feed so I can read more later.
6. Fatty: "Be sure to take a look at my sister’s blog post today. In one day, she’s went from $0 to $755 for her LiveStrong Challenge." I hate cancer. (Click).
7. Wow, that's so cool. Maybe I should sign up for a Livestrong ride and raise some money...
8. What was I doing?
And so on...
The problem with working 'on the web' is you have to be on the web to do it. Must work on Save vs OHLOOKBRIGHTSHINYINTERNETOBJECT!
Friday, April 17, 2009
In marketing parlance, I'm what's known as a laggard. I don't rush out to buy the next big thing as soon as it hits the market. Especially when it comes to technology. It's a given that it's going to be over priced (known as market skimming) and full of bugs. So I wait, sometimes years, and let the dust settle. Back when I was still a PC owner, I went straight from Windows98 to XP if that gives you any idea.
When Apple came out with Intel Macs, I went into interview mode and talked to everyone I saw in coffee shops. The honeymoon lasted about five weeks, and then the bugs started to crawl out into the open. I waited about a year, and then I caught the tail end of the caboose and upgraded, mostly so I could have my Mac and eat Windows too. In fact, I'm typing this in Windows right now.
For the past two years, I've managed to maintain a comfortable indifference to the iPhone. I wasn't a hater (except of AT&T), but I wasn't pining for it either. In fact, I've been remarkably anti smart phone since they came into wide spread use. I never succumbed to the lure of the 'Crackberry' because I never felt the lure. As a jobless student, and before that a typical paycheck to paycheck American, I couldn't really justify it. Plus, I didn't like the idea of having so much stuff in one place.
I like my phone to work as a phone thankyouverymuch, a fact I confirmed after a brief stint with Verizon's TV phone, which may have let me watch ER, but couldn't allow me to understand someone on the other end of the phone line. If my phone gets lost or damaged, I still have my camera and my iPod because they're separate devices, which do what they do quite well. As technologies get smaller, creators get more and more mashup fever, which I don't think is necessarily a good thing.
But, a few weeks ago, Jess noted that my contract expire date is coming up in a few months and started casually mentioning the iPhone. As the weeks went by, the hints become more like hammers: "If you had an iPhone, you wouldn't need to print those directions." I promised her that I would add 'research iPhone' to my growing spring break to-do list.
Financially, I was surprised to find that the monthly cost wouldn't be much more than we're paying now--thanks to Jess's discount through work and our paltry need of minutes (aren't phones really just for texting now?). We both started asking everyone we saw with iPhones how they liked them. The answers were mostly the same: people are by and large completely pwned by their new best friends.
"Do you like your iPhone?" I asked a classmate last week.
"Yes and no."
"What's the no part?" I asked.
"I'm addicted to it."
Other answers are variations on the theme.
"Does it drop calls?"
"Yes. But I LOVE it."
People admit to being antisocial. They no longer need books in waiting rooms. They hate AT&T but they can't live without the iPhone.
Finally, on a sunny day when we were riding bikes around town, we went to the Apple store and kicked the tires a bit, sent each other text messages, made calls and pestered the sales person with questions. What I heard about the upcoming software upgrade made me feel better. The whole 'not sending pictures with text messages' thing seems so very basic, and it's finally going to be fixed. Not having that feature was one of the main things that helped me keep my ' yeah, I don't really need that' cool.
The next night, Jess found a movie of the March presentation from Apple about the new 3.0 features and we sat up watching way past our bed time, riveted by all the new possibilities and Apps. A geek from Harvard with strong music foo demonstrated his Leaf Trombone app, playing a duet of Phantom of the Opera with his colleague by blowing into the microphone and sliding their fingers up and down the screen.
About the only thing they didn't show was a hologram of Princess Leia, begging Obi-Wan to help her. Maybe next year, and you know the light saber app won't be far behind.
So now I've gone from my carefully cultivated calm indifference, to gotta-have-it-now impatience. As of this writing, I have 88 days left on my Verizon contract. Jess is already free and clear, and threatening to phone divorce me, so she won't have to wait.
I actually looked at the Verizon web site to see what the penalty would be for breaking my contract--and then reminded myself that I really should wait for the new version of the phone to come out. It's not really early adoption if it's the third version of the phone, right?
Since the test drive, I've reconciled the fact that I'm about to sell my soul to the devil for at least two years. We've heard rumors that Apple might one day escape from the clutches of AT&T, but we're not willing to wait. I'll miss my nice clear calls (the few that I made anyway) on Verizon, but I'll console myself by viewing bike routes for camping trips with GPS maps and playing bluetooth connected backgammon with strangers on the train.
Oh, Jess and I said we'd look into comparable smart phones of the fruitier variety, but we never did. The writing is on the wall, and I decided that if I'm going to drink the Kool-Aid, I'm not going to complain about the after taste.
When the time comes, I'll sound a hearty little "Baaaaaaaaah!" as I sign on the dotted line, and then we'll go home and hang photos on our walls using the iPhone to make sure they're level--cause there's an App for that.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
As the date of this bicycle race, cosponsored by my team Sorella Forte, got closer, I started grumbling more. What was I thinking, agreeing to spend my last weekend of an already too-short spring break--and I use the word 'break' loosely-- standing around the side of the road in The Dalles, OR?
But it was too late to back out. At the least, I figured I'd get far enough east to get a little sun. So, after spending most of the day Friday putting the last touches on our newly painted office, I packed (I used the word 'packed' loosely) up too much and not enough stuff and headed east. I took my Cross Check, figuring that any riding I might have a chance to do would be more commute style than recreational road riding. My poor roadie definitely needs some love though.
I left after 7:00pm, late enough to miss rush hour traffic. My energy was good and so was my iPod mix and the drive out was not bad, as drives go, until I got into town and mis-read the directions. I turned left off the exit, which took me straight into Washington. Not good. I turned around and stopped at the gas station to get directions, turning off a song that might get me shot before getting out of the car. The guy in the gas station was very nice and gave me a free map. A few more missed turns in the dark and I finally arrived at my host house, home of Tara, her daughter Leanna and their incredibly cute dog, Milo. Milo unfortunately stays in an outdoor kennel all the time or I would have been happy to sleep with him.
The back door was open with a welcoming note to come in and make ourselves at home. Leanna was the only one home, sharing her mom's room for the weekend and allowing one of us volunteers to take over her (very pink) room. Jen's bag was already stashed in there, so I took the 'designated teen room' with a much more sleep-compatible color palatte.
I took the sign at it's word and settled in the living room to catch the end of Dollhouse. Tara came home shortly after that though so we ended up chatting instead. I could tell instantly that she was very sweet (she was letting a bunch of strangers invade her home after all) and very involved in the community. She told me about her work with Haven, a shelter for domestic violence victims. I got a tour of the kitchen and she'd bought all kinds of muffins, fruit trays, juice and coffee for us.
Jen came home a bit later and we had a chance to talk some too. The best part of the weekend was definitely spending time and actually having conversations with my team mates. Since I don't race and don't show up to the group rides (thanks in part to the school black hole I'm in for at least another two years), I rarely get to see them, and have a terrible time remembering names when I do. Jen is doing some really interesting work with her consulting firm so we geeked out about web stuff for a while. Then she wisely went to bed, while I unwisely stayed up way too late reading Ghost Trails.
In the morning I reported to the defunct Petersburg school and checked in with Shari. She sent me to join Deb and Maureen at the turn off to the parking lot at the school and direct folks to the start line, two miles further up the road. I drove back down and parked next to Deb, but they warned that the property owner might be a little crotchety about having more than one car there. So I took the opportunity to go back to the school and ride my bike the half mile back to our spot. Whoo hoo, I used my bike, yay!
There we proceeded to talk and shiver in the sunny, but 35 degree morning air. Even with the cold, time flew by until they both left for a nature break and ended up going on errands for Shari for an hour. And me with no book to read. And despite packing everything under the sun, I had left my mittens at home, which I was sorely regretting. So I did jumping jacks in between directing riders on high end, funny looking time trial bikes to turn left to get to the start. It was funny when I told them it was two miles up the road and some of them reacted with a look that clearly said, that far? To which I replied, "You're a racer, you can make it!"
Eventually my companions returned and we resumed gossiping about everything from the common tax bracket of most racers (those bikes are pricey, and the crashes inevitable), to the sexual orientation of the racing community at large (overwhelmingly straight among men, in fact the three of us couldn't think of one gay male racer). This confounded Mo's sheltered coworker, who assumed that any sport with that much spandex must be crawling with homos.
The temperature eventually rose to more pleasant levels and a coffee fairy came by with Starbucks *and* condiments.
The time trial was over at 11am, at which point we were released from duty for a few hours, until the afternoon criterium. As I drove back toward Tara's, I crested a hill and was literally stunned by the majestic view of a snowy Mt Hood, framed by a cloudless blue sky.
We met up at Tara's, where Maureen would be taking over the pink room that night. Then we went into town for some lunch. When we asked locals about food places, the choices read like a who's who of fast food joints: McDonalds, Subway, Carl's Jr, Burgerville...and Taco Del Mar. Deb decided on TDM. It was actually the nicest location I'd been to and they had free wifi. Who says you can't get modern conveniences in small towns?
When we showed up downtown later, we were put on corner marshal duty for the criterium. Our job was to keep people from crossing the street in front of the racers. It's amazing how easy it is to control a crowd when there's no actual crowd. It was a pretty chill assignment and of course, the racing provided great entertainment. And did I mention the sun was out? My corner mate Connie, a resident of The Dalles, even traded corners with me so I could shelter behind a building and out of the ever present wind.
Towards the end of the women's 1/2/3 race, my team mate Sage came over to visit. As a mountain bike racer, Sage was out of her element, but had decided to dip her toe just once in the road racing pool. I left her to guard my post for a few minutes while I found the loo and when I came back, all hell had broken loose. There was a nasty crash as the women came out of the turn on the last corner of the race. I heard talk of broken ribs, femurs, concussions. I was kind of glad I didn't see the crash. I think those things are much more bearable to watch on TV. In the end, four riders went away in three ambulances and the men's race was shortened by fifteen minutes because of the delay.
The men's pro race went off without any mishaps and all the exciting race tactics you'd expect from a pro race. It's amazing how they make the beginning riders look like they're out for a sunday stroll. There's an audible whoosh when they go by. It's pretty cool.
When the racing was over, we worked well into the evening breaking down all the equipment, including the scafolding over the finish line. The weekend definitely made me appreciate all the work that goes into pulling off a successful bike race. The owner of the pizza shop came out when we were nearly finished and offered the nectar of the gods--FREE BEER! Everyone become very excited except for me of course. I managed to get a free juice instead and we all hung out and talked of bikes and racing and sun, sweet sweet vitamin-D-giving sun, till the owner brought out a mop and kicked us out.
When I got 'home' Lorraine, a new team member, also joined us at the house. Lorraine is in nursing school and I have plenty of experience listening to nurses bitch about work, so I listened while she told me about some evil biddy who's making her clinical training extra challenging. I could tell from the way she handled the situation that she has zero tolerance for B.S. and she's going to be a fantastic nurse.
My phone service said 'extended' from the moment I arrived in town, so instead of calling Jess each night, we used Google voice chat, which worked quite well. Her laptop doesn't have video but hearing her voice was better than texting. I once again stayed up too late with Jill's Ghosts, and then slept poorly on top of it, thanks to a second TDM burrito brought around for free to the course marshalls. Yeah, burrito for lunch and dinner with no Beano wasn't really a great plan.
The next morning it was off to the Gorge Discovery Center for the start of the final stage of the race. This was a road race on a 28 mile loop course featuring several evil climbs. When you turn onto a road that's named Seven Mile Hill Rd, there really can't be any good in store. The cat 4 women only had to do one loop, but everyone else did 2-3 turns around the course. My station was at the turn off to Seven Mile Hill Rd, and my job was just to make sure the racers turned onto the right road on the three way fork.
The races went off three at a time with about 10 minutes in between. On the first lap, the peloton was still all together with the lead car in front, so I really wasn't necessary, but I waved the blue pom pom Shari had given me and said encouraging things to all the racers. It was a gorgeous day, sunny, just shy of warm and not too much wind, at least for the Gorge. Once the cat 4 women came by, I had about an hour before the next wave. I drove back down the hill to hit the loo at the gas station and stock up on zoos zoos and wham whams as mom used to call them--junk food to everyone else. Then it was back to my station, where I read my book until Betty radio'd to look out for the next wave.
This time it was all strung out, as riders who had been popped off the back in the climb struggled through their own personal time trials. Sometimes they were lucky enough to find a small group to work with, but it was a good 30 minute spread between the first rider and the last. The cat 3 men who came through first were feeling good enough to joke around with me: "Hey, aren't you supposed to have our beer?"
"Its at the top of this hill," I promised.
Betty gave me a heads up when the DFL rider went through. Once I waved him on (but that road doesn't look as steep, he said wistfully of the alternate fork), I grabbed my bike again and decided to see a little of what the racers were dealing with.
There was an Ironclad racer stopped just after the turn, and he talked for a long time to someone in a support car. Then (reluctantly it seemed), he started pedaling again, just as I started up the hill. Although he'd been racing for hundreds of miles over the past three days and was obviously tired, I couldn't keep up with him even for a few minutes. The road curved gently enough that I kept him in tantalizing sight for a little while, giving me great fodder for imagining what a real race might be like. In a real race, I most surely would be spit out of the peloton in short order, and chasing to keep up with whoever I could, so it wasn't too far off the mark. I surmised that if I'd had my road bike, a big breakfast and a warm up, I maybe could have kept pace with him for a mile or so, before the road turn more sharply upward.
Once he dissappeared, I turned my attention toward the spectacular scenery. I was squarely in the middle of farm country, winding through rolling hills covered in trees still barren from winter, that looked like figures from Lord of the Rings--frozen in mid-stride by some evil force, just waiting to be set free. Rusted out trucks and farm equipment gave splashes of red to the greens and grays of the grass and rocks. And the road, at least what little of it I had time to ride in fifteen minutes, didn't seem that steep, even on my steel tank of a cross check. I decided I really need to return sometime with Jess and our road bikes and make a proper tour of it.
But time was running out and I had racers to shepherd. There was still time before the start of the final days races at noon so I went down to the start to see if I could figure out who was replacing me. I had let Shari know that I needed to leave at noon. On my last official day of spring break, I needed to get home to take care of a few things and get the car back to Jess in time for her scheduled massage.
I got on the race radio and was told that Alana would take over for me. But first I had to go give Lorraine a desperately needed potty break. She was only a half mile from the finish line, at the entrance to a golf club, closing the road when the peloton came barrelling into the last 500k of the race. I rode my bike down to her spot and she grabbed her bike from her van and took off towards the finish line and the porta-potties.
I only had to stop a few cars, but the old white guys coming out of the club weren't too keen on obeying my orders. Things that make you go hmm....as Arsenio would say. But they didn't run me over, and the racers got to sprint to the line in peace--or as much peace as you can have when your lungs are about to burst from your chest.
I cheered everyone who came by and was amused by the retort of one of the Ironclad riders who grumpily proclaimed, "This is the worst thing I've ever done!"
"But you finished!" I shouted to his quickly receding form.
When Lorraine came back, I went off to find Alana and found out she had gone back to the Sorella host house to pack up her stuff. All the racers, lead and follow cars were gathering for the start of the men's pro race and my corner marshall spot was empty. So I got back in the car and squeezed into the line behind the Landrover/Orbea support car as they rolled out. It was quite a sight to see the colorful sea of riders moving smoothly down the road. Although it felt slow as a driver, I realized were doing 20mph and the race was still neutralized while we got out of town. When we reached my corner, I pulled off to wait for the cat 3 men and pro women to come by. In the meantime, I hunted down Alana's phone number and we straightened out the hand off. I left once the last of the first wave came by, but Alana had about an hour before the men would come around again, so it all worked out.
As annoyed as I was before the start of the weekend, I had a really good time and was glad to get to know a few of my teammates better. Heck, I may even remember their names next time I see them. Hope springs eternal. The race seemed to go off without too many hitches, especially considering it was the inaugural event. And the town seemed to welcome the event too.
I hope to make it back out there sometime this summer and explore some of those open roads the proper way--on two wheels.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
A few weeks ago, I got a text message from Jess while she was at work:
"I have a new boyfriend!"
Turned out she'd been talking to another nurse that she sees during her rounds and on impulse, she asked for his number so they could get together outside of work.
When it comes to friends, Jess is all about quality, not quantity. While I seem to collect people like cat hairs on a sweater, Jess prefers a few close friends to a ever widening ripple of acquaintances. If chatting with this guy for a few minutes between hectic work tasks had prompted her to reach out, I was certain he must be pretty darn cool.
After much back and forth to work out a time for four busy adults with non-traditional schedules to get together, we found a night that worked for everyone and were invited us to have dinner with him and his wife at their home just a couple of miles away from us.
The day also happened to be my first day of school and my first day back on the 8:00am class schedule. I stayed up too late as usual, slept like hell, and wanted nothing more than to go back to bed for the entire day. Not really the best frame of mind to meet new people in, but I was determined to buck up. I met Jess at Ristretto Coffee near the hospital after work and we rode the mile or so to their house.
Casey and Chillidog met us on the front steps, one of them barking at us in challenge/greeting. They escorted us through the yard so we could stash our bikes in the back. I immediately noticed a small covered area full of vegetable starts and behind it, two nice sized raised garden beds. Inside, we met Brenda and Chillidog calmed down enough for proper petting to ensue.
Later we got a tour of the larger garden in the vacant lot across the street. Their neighbors bought the land, but were happy to share the space. A circle of shared plots were punctuated by a big area full of hay bales covering fifteen pounds of potato seeds. The women who own the land are working on using some of the rest of the space to build a play area for the neighborhood kids. On the front edge of their yard, C & B have build a rock bench as public space. The day after it went in, two of their neighbors--and old man and a young boy--met on the bench to chat--just like they hoped.
Over the next four hours we proceeded to have a date as nice as any first date I've ever had. I learned a long time ago that it doesn't matter if it's a new friend or a potential lover, the euphoric feeling of meeting someone new who you just click with is the same. I had never experienced that feeling as a couple before, but if anything, the feeling is twice or perhaps, four times the fun.
There's usually a moment that happens not too long after we meet a new couple where we figure out how we match up--sort of like if you were to be cast in the part of one of the roles, which would it be? Brenda told Casey that the lentil pie needed to be cut, so he jumped up to do it. "You don't have to do it right now," she amended. He sat back down, causing me to blurt out, "I'm him." Casey and I are also both glass-half full types who like to keep things in perspective in trying situations. On the other hand, Brenda and I bonded over the agony of watching our partners (Virgo and Libra) try to make decisions. At one point I remarked that we must have been separated at couple birth.
I don't think any of us wanted the evening to end, but both Jess and I had early schedules the next day. On the ride home, Jess and I were already thinking about what we should make when we have them over for dinner--which I hope happens sooner than later.
It's official--we have a new crush--and I'm pretty sure the feeling is mutual. Here's to new friends.
Monday, February 02, 2009
Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you.
(FB instructions: Go to "notes" under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)
1.When I was about 10, I took great delight in trying to scare my mom by hiding around corners, jumping out and yelling 'boo' when she walked by. Her room was at the top of the creakiest wooden stairs ever built, and she always heard me coming. Until one day, I spent 45 minutes climbing those stairs like Grasshopper on the rice paper and got her good. She said I probably scared a year off her life—which is somehow not as funny as it used to be. But it's still a great memory.
2.I have an obsessive personality. I've gone through periods of interest in Mt Everest, Xena Warrior Princess, Star Trek: TNG. Sometimes conventions were involved.
3.I've been bungee jumping three times and sky diving once. Both were fantastic and I would do it again. I would love to add hang gliding to the list.
4.When I was in college, I wrote a list of 23 qualities I wanted in a girlfriend. Jess has 22 of them.
5.I once serenaded a woman in front of two thousand people.
6.I am totally, seriously, dangerously addicted to The Dog Whisperer. It's on 3-5 times/day and I watch or tape most of them. I guess you could say I'm Cesar's bitch. If I were 20 and single, I would probably run away to LA to be his apprentice. Sadly, I have no dog of my own to practice all this new knowledge on. But when I do get a dog, it will be the most perfect puppy ever.
7.I'm pretty sure I've become lactose intolerant in my old age. But I'm still in deep denial about it.
8.Movies I have seen multiple times in the theatre: Bring It On (4.5), Fried Green Tomatoes (9), Truth or Dare (7), Terminator 2 (10), Titanic (4) (Shut up), Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2)
9.I hate smokers. I hated smokers before my mom died from smoking-related causes and now I REALLY REALLY REALLY hate smokers. If I walk by them, I have to squash the urge to say, “My mom died from that and I think you're stupid.” Both neighbors to either side of us smoke, and the ones on the left leave copious piles of butts all over their porch and front yard despite being told by the landlords before they moved in that the rental was non-smoking. I hate them.
10.I've always been much more focused on relationships and enjoying life than on work and careers. I guess that's why I have 192 Facebook friends (I only friend people I actually know), and only figured out 'what to be when I grow up' in the last two years.
11.During my junior year of high school, I was in a theatre group called Teens and Company. We co-wrote and performed educational theatre about 'teen issues' like drugs, sex, birth control, communication etc. We toured in various high school and middle schools and also filmed a TV version of our show that aired throughout Oregon. I was recognized out and about for it, for about six months afterwards.
12.I have developed a method of stalking that is so pleasant for the stalkee, that I can usually end up befriending them, or at least having a few fun interactions (see #5). I think that Lara could back me up on this one.
13.I make really really good omelets.
14.Church of Waffles, our infamous, formerly weekly and now monthly brunch, got started when I got dumped by the girl before Jess (note to self: send thank you note—close call!). I wanted something to do besides mope, so I hosted brunch almost every Sunday for the whole winter. Not long after, I found a fabulous girlfriend and wanted my Sundays back, so we've now gone to a once a month schedule.
15.I don't drink alcohol, never have really. A couple of wine coolers in college and then I got drunk for the first time in my twenties by accident when I ate a bunch of latkes made of rum-soaked apples. The first thing I did after my paranoid five block walk home was drunk-dial my mom. She found this very amusing. I've been drunk two other times (on purpose), both from Jimmy Mak's margarita's which were quite good. I made a complete idiot of myself both times. I can see why people like it and also, why I will probably only do it once or twice a year, if that.
16.The first DVD I rented after getting a DVD player was Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. It took me six hours to watch the movie plus all the features and extras that were included. Naturally, I thought that all DVD's had extras that thorough. It didn't take long to learn the disappointing truth.
17.My friends laughed at me in college because I started buying CD's before I had a CD player. But I felt it would be much more pathetic to have a CD player and no CD's. My birthday was coming up and mom didn't let me down. My first CD's were lots of Madonna and Boz Scaggs (Shut up!).
18.I had very long, very thick hair until I was 19. I was constantly told by family, friends and strangers, “Your hair is so pretty—don't ever cut it!” to the point where I got kind of a complex about it. Mom dropped me off in Eugene for my second year at the U of O and I finally got fed up, went to the nearest Supercuts and got it hacked off. Mom didn't believe I'd done it (this was pre-internet/phone pic days) until I opened the door of my dorm room and held up the phone as my dorm mates saw me for the first time and freaked out. I celebrated by putting bits if hair into envelopes with no note and mailing them off to lots of my relatives, causing a family wide kerfluffle.
19.I have what seems to be uncommonly good self esteem. I was baffled by the notion of peer pressure in high school (the Nancy Reagan years), not understanding why you would care what a bunch of random people thought of you, to the point of doing things you didn't want to do. I have no problem taking compliments or help from others.
20.I'm terrible at budgeting and other matters of money. I had absolutely no instruction about such matters from my parents. I'm trying to do better.
21.In spite of number 20, it's my goal to someday comfortably afford weekly professional massages.
22. This product changed my life. Seriously. If you're a woman, you should click that link and get one ASAP. If you're a man, you should click that link and send it to all the women you know. I dare you.
23.One of my goals is to become more focused and efficient. I often wish that I'd found one thing to focus on when I was younger, like music or dance, and become really good at it.
24.I would like to travel much more in the remaining years of my life. I have a goal to ride my bike across the country in the next ten years.
25.I have five bikes. But really, if you know me, you should know that by now. You can see them here.
26.One of my mottos is, 'If you don't ask, the answer is always no.' I put it into practice for my 34th birthday when I asked the lovely and talented Stephanie Schneiderman, if I could sit in for a song during her show at the Imbibe on my birthday. She said yes, even though I'm not a professional musician and she had never heard me sing. I had a big party at the restaurant and got to sing with a band, on stage in front of a huge crowd, my friends and my mom. It is by far the best birthday I've had so far.
27.Two years ago at an Ani Difranco concert, Ani forgot the words to one of her more obscure songs which just happens to be my favorite, and asked for help from the crowd. With some prodding from Jess, I climbed onstage at the Aladdin and sang most of the first verse (before my brain exploded and I forgot the rest of the verse). Another rock star moment FTW.
28. If I were to really do this for everyone who tagged me, I would have to come up with at least 300 random facts, which is why I feel perfectly justified in going over.
29. Our officially family (as in me, mom and Traci) cake is lemon with cream cheese frosting. Not from scratch, the box mix please. Thank you.
30. I finally learned to snowboard last year, at age 37, after wanting to learn for many years. If I had it to do over again, I would leave Jess at home.
31. One of my best summer memories is when Mom, Traci and I read the entire Spencer series by Robert B. Parker. We bickered over who's turn it was to go find missing items from our collection and who would get to read what next. We went to restaurants and read until our food came, pausing to share whatever passage we were giggling over. My only regret from that summer is not writing down all the recipes in the books.
32. I have greatly enjoyed reading everyone else's 25 things.
33. I think I am the second to last person in the Internet to finally do this thing so I won't be tagging anyone except Jess. Your turn honey!
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I'm not usually an advocate of skipping classes, but when Jess told me that Lindsay Mac was finally coming back to Portland--and then seconds later broke the bad news that it was happening on a Wed night, at the same time as my marketing class--I only hesitated for about 0.2 nanoseconds. Luckily it's early in the term, and my professor has this extremely helpful habit of posting her lecture notes.
It was kind of a weird show, happening during happy hour, before the regular open mic. But a little Lindsay is so much better than no Lindsay at all. I made a little card using a project from my photoshop class last term, and had it sent over to Copy Pilot to be printed. When I rushed into pick it up, I found one of my old Finkos coworkers with my print in hand. My card was spur of the moment and of course I couldn't help making a few requests. I rode my Cross Check faster than I have in a long time over to 9th and Alberta. I needn't have worried. When I walked in, the music side was still closed for sound check and the bar was practically empty.
Two women I suspected to be a couple had walked in just before me. I heard them get kicked out of the entertainment side of the bar so I stopped to dig out my card before going in. The guy doing sound check was just inside, but he didn't immediately notice me so I peeked around the corner to see Lindsay sitting at the bar working on the set list. I went over to greet her and she totally remembered me. Sort of. "Hey! It's Jess, right?"
Believe it or not, that made me happier than if she'd remembered my name. It's a common problem that when Jess is out and about without me, a lot of people don't always recognize her until she identifies herself as 'Kronda's girlfriend.' So I was thrilled to have things reversed (so to speak) for once and couldn't wait to text Jess about it.
Lindsay invited me to claim seats so I took a table close to the stage. While I was deciding, Mona, the percussionist for the band, started pressuring her to finish up the set list. Perfect. "Um, read my card, it might help," I said. She picked up and scanned the list. After that retreated to bar to scrounge for food.
I had felt, more than heard the couple who preceded me, have an unpleasant interaction with the bar tender, so I wasn't at all surprised when she turned out to be the rudest person ever. It wasn't just the condescending way she said, "bowl size" while rollling her eyes when I asked about the soup sizes, or the snotty tone she used when she informed me that, "you have to buy a drink if you want the happy hour price," Everything about her just shouted, I hate you and I have so many other things I could be doing right now. It was all I could not to ask if she gets any tips. She certainly didn't get one from me.
After I ordered, I went and made friends with the couple, who turned out to be Sally and Melinda. We started a little support group for victims of rude servers and made small talk while we waited.
In due time, Jess arrived with Lisa and Sally, who was very concerned about getting good seats, noticed they were letting folks in on the other side. So much for Rude Woman's assurances that she would announce when the doors opened. Sally and I scooted over to the line. I got in first, and saved a couple of extra seats for them.
T also showed up just then, so our gang was complete. Jess and LIsa both suffered through ordering food and then had to interact with her again to tell her we were switching sides. Thankfully that was the last unpleasantness of the evening. I saw Lindsay standing near the door and took Jess over to say hi. We officially met the band, Mona and Jason (also co-producer on Lindsay's latest CD), both doing double duty or more in the instruments department. Mona was, how shall I put it--really smokin' hot. She plays Cajón drum (otherwise known as a box), which just enhanced the effect. It was probably good that we were Lisa's ride, so we could make sure she got home to Spike OK. For that matter, it was probably good I had skipped class so I could make sure Jess got home to me OK...
Mona was fascinated by the fact that Portland holds some kind of record for number of strip clubs per capita, which was a running joke throughout the show. Afterwards I told her that coincidentally, we had just opened a strip club in our living room, but sadly, could not get her to come home with us.
Since time was tight, they played one long set and many songs from my request list made it in. Our seats were perfect and even the inevitable tall guy in front of us had immediately assured me that he would shift however he needed so that we could see. The sound was amazing and hearing Lindsay with a full (non-cello) band was extraordinary. The house (which was packed within minutes of opening) was completely mesmerized. Lindsay was charming, funny, and told just the right amount of stories while
torturing tuning her cello in ways that were never meant to happen. About halfway through the show, she proclaimed that she feels like she belongs in Portland. I don't think our attempts to convince her to move here are having much effect (she's from Boston), but hopefully she'll visit often.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
I'm faithful to my girlfriend and happily so, but when it comes to everything else, all bets are off. We were talking shopping in my marketing class last week and the teacher asked if I have a favorite bike shop. I said I had about ten. Yeah, when it comes to buying things, I'm kind of a ho. I admit it.
Which might explain why I have an ever growing team of body workers for every occasion. I've got acupuncturists, chiropractors, and the list of LMT's in my virtual rolodex reads like--well the little black book of someone really slutty. But each person has their own distinct style--it's like listening to great music that's all in the same genre, but the artists are distinct. My friend Colleen, whom I've known since grade school (grade school!) recently got her massage license. So when she encouraged me to sample the goods, how could I say no?
This morning I left early enough so I wouldn't have to rush and rode out to her office in St Johns. The building had an industrial feel that was immediately forgotten as I walked into her office. The low light, soft music, warm temperature and decorative fabrics hanging on the walls put me into a state of calm I hadn't felt in weeks. Yeah, this was a good idea.
We discussed my current issues and she asked me to stand against the wall while she looked at my posture. Her head tilted left and then right--and then she said something about my illium being out of wack. I had no idea what she was talking about, but the tone was familiar. It's the tone Carrie gets before she sticks acupuncture needles in my back--the one that says, 'man, we got a lot of work to do, better get started...'
I opted for a combination of deep tissue and Swedish massage so we could work on my problem areas, but I could also 'bliss out' as Colleen likes to say. So in the first half of the hour, I learned about points of origin, as she dug in to certain areas and held them until the muscles grudgingly released a bit. I also got a firm lecture to communicate if the pressure got too intense. Colleen is not of the 'no pain no gain' school of thinking, for which I was grateful. She asked about my stretching habits (non-existent since I quit yoga) and my water intake (sporadic). I felt like I'd come to class without doing my homework and resolved to do better.
After she smoothed my thighs into something more like muscles and less like tanned leather, she switched to Swedish style. Mere relaxation turned to bliss and I sunk lower into the heated table. I did *not* drool into the face cradle--but it was a near thing.
When all was said and done, I felt amazing--and stupid for once again letting so much time go by without a good massage. It feels like an indulgent treat, but really it's more like a physical/mental necessary reset. I need to find a way to integrate it more regularly into my life.
If you're feeling stressed out and need a little relief, I highly recommend dropping her a line: colleen [at] ruhanibodyworks [dot] com or contact me for her number.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I'd had a good first day of school. It was close to 9pm and I was on my way home, riding the Big Dummy, my favorite bike. The night felt warm at fifty degrees, especially considering the recent snowpacalypse, as everyone referred to the impressive snow storm that shut down the city over the holidays. For once it wasn't raining, and the wind was even calm.
I hadn't been thrilled about having to take night classes this term, but as I glided through the still air with hardly any cars in sight, I decided there might be a few perks to traveling home in the quieter hours.
I swept around a 270 degree loop that took me under the bridge I'd just crossed and headed north up Interstate. As I came into the industrial section, the peace of my ride was shattered as a nondescript dark sedan passed me and the driver yelled "HEY!" loudly through the open passenger window.
Several things happened at once: My brain shot a massive jolt of adrenaline through my entire body at roughly the speed of light. Even as I marveled at my body's survival instincts, my brain decided that neither fight nor flight was necessary, as the car kept on driving by. My bike wobbled briefly as I startled, but I recovered my line pretty quickly and stared in bewilderment. I knew what had happened, I just will never understand it. Some yahoo, definitely male, probably young, had decided it would be fun to play scare the biker.
All this went through my mind in the space of two pedal strokes and then I got really pissed. I hate stupid people and stupid mean people are the worst. Another two pedal stokes and the Universe decided to smile on me. The light turned red at Tillamook St, just 50 ft ahead.
I didn't hurry. I wanted to enjoy this. As I coasted to a stop, I reached down to the spot where my water bottle would have been. My disc brakes let out a customary squeak as I pulled up to the light and rested my left foot on the curb. The noise caused the driver to turn and look out of his still-open passenger window, so he got a good look as I reached down and lifted the 357 Magnum revolver out of the holster strapped to my down tube and pointed it carefully at his head.
"What is your problem?" I asked. My voice was light, conversational, but the look I gave him was probably very similar to the one my mom had when she pulled a knife on her ex boyfriend when I was nine. The gun was heavy, so I shifted my body sideways on the bike to face him more squarely and put my left hand up to steady it. I watched with satisfaction as his mischievous grin turned to an 'O' of surprise and whatever smart-ass remark he was about to utter died on his lips.
"Are you a dog?" I continued, keeping my voice light. I've been watching a lot of Dog Whisperer lately, do you watch that show? Lot of good dogs will get territorial in cars, did you know that? Perfectly calm till someone gets close to the window and then they just start barking their fool heads off. It can scare the heck out of somebody, especially if they didn't know the dog was in there."
He didn't say anything in response. There was just enough light from the MAX station lamps for me to see his knuckles whitening as they gripped the steering wheel.
The light turned green and I flicked my eyes down long enough to see his leg twitch.
"I wouldn't move if I were you." I said. His leg steadied on the brake. The street was deserted, no cars coming in either direction.
I resumed my train of thought. "I was thinking about it as I pulled up to the corner and the only way I could make sense of what you did back there is if you were a dog. Except now I pull up and you look pretty human to me. So now I'm thinking maybe you just think it's funny to scare bikers who are just minding their own business trying to get home after a long day of class."
"If you were a dog, Cesar--that's the Dog Whisperer--would probably say you just need a good pack leader with some calm, assertive energy. That's what he does, he just uses his pack leader mojo and in a few minutes those dogs settle right down. It's the darndest thing to watch. I never get tired of it."
But you're not a dog. You're obviously a dick who's mother never taught him the golden rule. What if I'd run off the road and hurt myself just now from being startled? Ah, but I guess you're not really the type to think of others are you? Well, here's something for you to think about and it involves you, so it should be easy for you. Ready?"
He was still as death and didn't say anything.
"I'm going to go home and post a description of your car and license plate on every bike forum I can find. And if I ever see any complaints about you--or someone with a car the same color as yours--I'm going to hunt you down and shoot you in the belly with this gun so you die slowly. Nod if you understand."
He nodded and a little spit slid down the left corner of his still-open mouth.
"Excellent!" I said. "Wow, that didn't take long at all. I think I beat Cesar's record. Maybe I should have my own show, what do you think?"
"Why don't you move along now and drive slowly and courteously to your destination."
It took a moment, but he slowly turned his head forward while still glancing nervously in my direction. He pressed gently on the gas pedal and moved forward through the light, which had cycled through to red and then green again while we chatted.
I watched him till he was past the next light and headed up the hill. I put the gun back in the holder and snapped it shut, then rubbed my right shoulder with my left hand for a moment. Man, that gun was heavy. But it came in handy on occasion.
I grabbed my water bottle off my seat tube and took a long swig before I started pedaling again. I took my time going up the hill and relished the peace of a quiet night ride home after a good first day of school.
Friday, January 02, 2009
It's been 33 days since my last post. I though once school was done, I'd come back to you and we'd you know, catch up and reminisce about the good times. (Whoa I spelled reminisce on the first try!).
But somehow things just keep coming up. First I just wanted to sleep for three days (didn't happen). Then there was a big storm and there seemed to always be something to do. Feed someone's cat, shove a pill, shovel some snow, try out the new studded bike tires in the snow, break out the cross country skis, stay up all night changing towels to control water leakage in the house--you know how it is.
Finally we had a couple of days to just relax but I just wasn't motivated to write. There was season three Dexter to finish, Netflix movies to watch, lemon cakes to make and eat, and my 'holiday letter' DVD which is still in progress. I'm having a great time going through all the footage from the past year. We had a pretty fun year, broken bones not withstanding. That stupid snowboarding trip continues to haunt us--if there's one thing I could take back about 2008, it would definitely be that. Oh the hindsight! I wonder how the year would have been different, had I just bought an extra pair of wrist guards. But I promised myself I wasn't going to dwell on that anymore.
But rest assured blog, that I think of you often, and even though I say this every year, I really think this is the year that I'll relate to you more consistently. It's all about learning to sum things up, but not so quickly that I just end up tweeting about everything. It's a delicate balance, but I'm taking the first step.
Speaking of brevity, I'm going to end there for now. Next time, we'll look back on my first term of school, and report on the first few days of the new year. The weekend is pretty packed with socializing though, so don't expect me back hear before Monday.
See you soon, blog.