July 31, 2009

July 29, 2009

Quote of the day

Fly, fall, be prepared for it all.
You can't go wrong if you can just hang on.

- Iron Wil from the Get Your Geek On podcast.

July 28, 2009

Oy!

85 degrees in the house when I went to bed last night, 81 degrees when I woke up, 10 degrees cooler outside for my morning run.

The house was 90 degrees when I got home tonight. Miserable for me, but I can't imagine how the dog feels. The house is like a big car I left her in with only a few windows cracked. Is that happy panting or delirium?

Temps are supposed to tickle 100 tomorrow. I'll have to hose the pooch down before I go to work. I'll try the Linden water dish in the freezer trick too.

Tomorrow should be bring your pet to (air conditioned) work day.

July 26, 2009

The end of day

and still this emptiness persists
perhaps this is as good as it gets

when you've given up the drink
and those nasty cigarettes
now i leave the party early, at least with no regrets
i watch the sun as it comes up, i watch it as it sets

yeah, this is as good as it gets

Beautiful World -
Colin Hay
Beautiful World is a song that my friend Matt passed along, and it has become one of my signature songs. We were sitting on the sidewalk deck outside his apartment in Huntington Beach, and he asked me to guess who sang the song. It took me until a line or two into the next song to figure out that the singer was the former front man for Men at Work. The song and album will always remind me of the Lindens and spending time with them near the ocean.

Today was another hot one, and I decided to get out of the sweatbox that is my house. I could use a little sunset and lapping wave therapy as well. I headed down to the waterfront and found many others walking along the beach or sharing a ringside seat on one of the benches. We stared out into the ocean, lost in our own thoughts, as we watched another day come to a close.

I think I will try to rise early this week to get my running in and greet the sun as it rises. It will be my mission to drink in the beauty of the day, from start to finish.




taproot

It has been a hot summer already, and the temps will be in the 90's next week. We've set some sort of record for the lowest rainfall in the last two months. This, plus a combination of apathy and desire to save water, the lawn has turned a brittle yellow-brown color. It is starting to look like the plains of eastern Washington.

Yet somehow, other plants are thriving. Spotted throughout the yard, dandelions have made their return. And the planting area I cleared a couple months ago...

I did water the back lawn a few times, but this area was completely dependent on the scant rainfall. I had dug up the area and sifted through the soil to pick out any plant life I could find, and still the plants thrive. I know so very little about plants, but these don't seem like weeds. I think the shorter ones might be potato plants, but I have no idea what these tall ones are.

Whether desirable plant or annoying weed, it seems only those with deep roots survive the tough times.

July 22, 2009

Heat wave

85 degrees, or a couple pounds on the dog hair shedding scale.

On the road, into darkness

After three weeks away, I have put my running shoes back on. I haven't decided what the next event/training deadline will be, but I knew I needed to get moving again. I'm feeling lazy, fat, sloth-like. Apparently watching the Tour de France on tv doesn't qualify as training.

I'm planning on running three days a week for the foreseeable future, and have put some planned distances on the calendar. My run on Sunday was a shake out to see how I felt, and it went well enough. When I start up again after a break, it is always hard to imagine I ran 26 miles just a few weeks before.

I met a friend for drinks, dinner and discourse after work yesterday. We hadn't chatted in quite a while and the hours and stories flew by. I didn't make it home until sometime after 9:00, and I still had 3 miles to put in. Yesterday's run was the first one on the calendar, so I didn't want to skip it.

I didn't give myself time to think about it (talk myself out of it) and put my running gear on as soon as I walked in the door. The sun had set and I would be running in twilight and coming home in the dark. I put on my reflective Xinglet which lights up the night when hit by headlights. With the temperatures in the 80's and 90's recently, it made sense to run after sundown, though it was still a warm run.

Though our running group's name is "Team Drunken Promise", I had never gone for a run after having a few drinks. The morning after - yes, during - no. Not the best experience to be running in the heat with a few drinks in the belly. It would have been easy (smart) to cut it short, but I held on. Once something is on the calendar, I make every effort to make it happen. If I only had this sort of discipline in all the other areas of my life.

As I heard another runner say recently, "I'm now 3 miles closer to the finish line."

July 19, 2009

Clothes make the man?

"I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes" - Henry David Thoreau in Walden

I went clothes shopping yesterday. I was given a gift card and some cash for my birthday a month and a half ago, and they were still there unused. When my family asked what I'd like for my birthday, I said nothing, but that I could use some new clothes for the office. I have an OK amount of dress clothes, but very little in the way of 'business casual' clothing.

I rarely go clothes shopping. I can't remember the last time I went shopping for more than one specific piece of clothing, like a pair of jeans. Most of my nice clothes have been received as gifts from my wife or family. When trying things on, I just don't think things look all that good on me. This isn't false modesty, I just don't have a very good eye for fashion. Colors that I know should look good together, just seem off when I put them on.

I remember something my Dad said years ago. He had been at a work gathering and commented that some men can wear jeans and a t-shirt and look better than other men wearing suits. It isn't the clothes that make a man, but the man that makes the clothes.

Anyway, I ended up enjoying the afternoon, and came home with 5 shirts, a pair of pants and a belt. Having some seed cash made it much easier to start shopping, and I tried to be less self-critical of how things looked. Monday will feel a little like the first day of school showing off the new duds. And I am going to make those clothes work!

July 15, 2009

Quote of the day

Winning has nothing to do with racing. Most days don't have races anyway. Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism, and never, ever, ever giving up.

Amby Burfoot, The Runner's Guide to the Meaning of Life

July 14, 2009

STP 2009


The Seattle to Portland bike ride was held this past weekend. This year was a little different all the way round, and it may be the last time our biking group rides the STP.

It was my goal to do the ride in one day this year. We have done the 205 mile bike ride in two days for a number of years, but a one-day ride was a challenge that lurked on the horizon. The Rock n Roll Marathon was only two weeks ago, so I wasn't sure if I was sufficiently recovered. I have done more training this year than any other, so even though I wasn't feeling 100%, I decided to give it a shot.

We had a few people doing the ride in two days, so then it became a logistical problem. I had intended to ride to Portland, and then join the two-day riders on Sunday and ride the second day with them. I planned on getting a hotel and then taking the train to Longview the following morning.

As the event approached, our group of riders started shrinking. Then a few days before the ride, our planned support vehicle backed out. This meant that the two-day riders had no way to get to Longview, where they would be spending the night with my Mother-in-Law, Doris. Brian, one of our riders, volunteered to drive the support vehicle this year while Cherie and Dalton rode. He also offered to drive everyone to Portland to see me cross the finish line. Not only would this be a great boost for me, but it meant I could stay with the group in Longview.

Since I was attempting a one-day ride, the day started much too early. The start time was 4:45am, which meant a 3:00am wake up call. The riders stayed with me at the house so we could be a little closer to the start line. Unfortunately, work ran long for everyone, and after packing everything up and getting to the house, we didn't get to bed until midnight. You'd think that after so many years we'd know how important a good night's sleep is the night before an event. However money is tight for everyone and none of us could take the day off.

I rolled across the start line at about 4:50am. I was hoping to maintain a 17mph average while I was moving, and 15mph overall including stops. This would put me in Portland between 6:30 and 7:00 at night. Being a numbers geek, I had a little cheat sheet prepared that showed goal times at serveral of the stops. This way I could tell if I was on pace without staring at my average speed readout for 200 miles.

The day started out pretty well. I maintained a good pace in the morning, and actually built up a bit of a cushion by the halfway point in Centralia (aptly named). I reached Centralia at about 11:15am, and Brian met me with a Subway sandwich. A real lunch was a nice change from all the simple-carb bike food being handed out. I took a longer break, and after a porta-pottie stop and a trip through the sunscreen spraying station, I was back on the road at 11:45am.

As soon as started out again, the temperature seemed to rise about 10 degrees. It would reach the upper 80's which is perfect for lounging on the beach, but a bit too warm for we Northwest riders. The winds also kicked up some, so my pace slowed.

There is one 'muscle' that can't be trained without lots of time on the bike, and that is the one that meets the saddle. I had put in more miles than normal, so I thought I had sufficient saddle time, but I was sore from the first few miles. I think my seat has gone beyond its useful life (the bike seat that it). It has over 5,000 miles on it and it would quite literally end up biting me in the ass.

I struggled physically and mentally for the next 40 miles. The heat sapped my strength, it hurt to sit in the saddle, and the three hours sleep was catching up with me. Then at mile 140 my back started to spasm. I pressed on to the next pit stop in Lexington a few miles down the road. I grabbed some food and decided what I wanted to do.

I have pressed on through pain before and lived to tell the tale. I've had knee pain at mile 6 of a marathon and pressed on to finish, but you obviously don't want to risk lingering damage. Watching my brother put to ground with back pain for weeks was definitely on my mind. I certainly couldn't afford to be out of work for any length of time.

Because the rest of the riders were planning on meeting me in Portland and then driving me back to Longview, every minute I lost on the road meant less sleep for the already sleep deprived group. I also didn't want to show up at Doris' house only to say hello and go to sleep. I was only about 20 minutes behind schedule at this point, but I imagined I would be slowing further. I decided to call it a day.

It isn't easy for me to give up, and as I rode into Longview the voices in my head started arguing. How much does it really hurt? Your energy could come back. I could call Brian and tell him I'll just find a hotel in Portland. But I stuck with my decision to quit and rode into town to get some lunch. I spent some time sitting in the sun with some coffee while I waited for the rest of the riders to finish.

Cherie and Dalton could have had a much worse day. There is a 10 mile stretch behind Fort Lewis that usually is a struggle against headwinds. This year it was relatively calm, but it was much more dangerous this time around. A driver intentionally swerved into the bikers riding on the shoulder of the road. The car knocked off the rider in front of Dalton of her bike. Dalton ended up diving off his bike to get out of the way, and Cherie felt the car mirror swipe her jersey. One of the motorcycle support crew went after him, so hopefully they were able to get a license plate.

At the end of a long day, we enjoyed a wonderful pasta dinner at Judy's in Longview with Doris. We shared the horror stories of the day and Cherie mentioned this might be her last STP. At 10,000 riders, the ride has just become too big. It is a shame because it has become a nice yearly tradition. I still would like to conquer the one-day ride, so we'll see how we feel next year.

On Sunday I drove the group back to Winlock at the 120 mile mark. Brian was able to ride with the group for 20 miles before we swapped places in Longview. Brian was kind enough to let me ride the rest of the day so I ended up finishing the ride into Portland. It was about 20 degrees cooler, and rain came and went for most of the day.

After joining us for lunch, Brian drove into Portland. He then hopped on his bike to ride the route backwards. He met us with about 10 miles to go, so we were finally able to ride together as a group. Unfortunately for him, the skies opened up and it rained all the way to the finish. We did do some sprinting together, and he said he had a great time despite the rain.

With the rain, we didn't spend any time at the finish line festival. We dropped off the bikes, headed to Red Robin, and changed into dry clothes in the bathroom. After a well deserved drink and dinner, we drove the 3+ hours home. In years past, we have stayed overnight in Portland, but again everyone looked to save money this time around.

The STP was a bit of a rough ride this year. I may be back to tackle the one-day ride next year, but it might be time to move on to a different challenge. Feelings may change by next year, especially if we have some new riders join the group. It was the first big physical challenge I conquered, and it will always have a spot in my heart. I certainly want to encourage others to take on the challenge. Who knows, it might be my turn to support the next wave of riders.

July 13, 2009

Digital memory

The computer error I was getting was something like "Can not load locally stored profile". The error goes on to say that a temporary profile will be used, but that any settings or files will not be saved. When I went to the 'My Documents' file, it was empty. This is where the panicked question of backups come in. All my pictures, music, documents, work files, etc. were missing. I'm sure they're on the hard drive somewhere, but who knows what all has been corrupted at this point.

Some googling later, it looked like the solution was to create a new profile and then drag all the files over. After setting up the new profile, I went in search of the missing files. I found them, plugged in the external hard drive, and started dragging them over. It looks like April 30th is the last time I backed up some files. Not forever ago, but long enough that I wasn't sure what was new.

When I tried to copy over the pictures and music, I was denied access. After more messing around, I may have it figured out. In addition to all the personal files, some of the programs were missing as well. I have no idea why Windows is set up this way. It seems I would need to reinstall programs in each profile. I assume it doesn't take up twice as much space, but who knows. I would also need to set up Outlook all over again to access my calendar and e-mail. Once I was relatively sure my files were safe, I decided to step away for a while.

My laptop has been running more and more slowly, so I should probably just wipe it clean and start over. If this is what I decide to do, it would be a waste of time to set up this new profile temporarily. I also need to track down the installation discs for all the programs I use. Some of the programs were purchased online, so there are no discs. I'm not sure how easy it will be to download them without paying for them again. I don't want to go through this more than once if I can help it.

The main reason I have hesitated is that I'm sure I would miss backing up some files and they would be lost forever. Much like the boxes of memories I've moved from house to house, some of the stuff I haven't looked at in a long time, but if it was gone forever I'd be missing a part of my history, a part of me.

So, sorry if I haven't returned your e-mails. I've done a poor job of visiting the online sites to check my various accounts. I'd like to say it has been nice being disconnected from the electronic tether, but I know that the backlog is building hour by hour.

Tomorrow (hopefully) an STP recap.

July 6, 2009

AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

Turned on my laptop this evening, and it wouldn't boot up. When was the last time I backed things up?

July 5, 2009

On the bus

Friday July 3rd was observed as a holiday by many since July 4th landed on a Saturday this year. It was not observed by my workplace, but it was a holiday in Metro's eyes. Friday bus routes would be following a Sunday schedule. As my normal route is a weekday-only route, a Sunday route meant no route at all.

The alternative wasn't too far out of the way, but it unfortunately wasn't an express so we were stopping every other block. As there were plenty of working stiffs that didn't get the day off, it was standing room only.

It was interesting how different the riders were on this route. On my normal route, folks generally have their noses in a book, or are tuned in/out with iPods. Friday's route was a social gathering. People were talking about idle nothings and daily complaints. On the ride home, I gave up my seat for an older woman. She later tapped me on the arm and was excited to show me a picture of her and her son from 30 years ago.

Last week, we had a rider on my normal route that couldn't take the silence. She came on the bus saying she didn't have bus fare because her purse had just been stolen. She didn't seem too upset about it, like she didn't even believe her story. The bus driver let her on and she took one of the sideways facing seats at the front.

She tried in vain to sustain any idle chatter with the other riders. She then asked the why we were all so quiet. I mumbled something for the crowd that it was pretty early and we weren't all that awake. Then she asked "why did you all agree to be slaves"? Here we go...

She spent the rest of the trip spouting non sequiters, her train of thought lurching from subject to subject. When we were approaching the bus tunnel, and the merciful end of the trip, she asked "who wants to sing a song"? Having seen Planes, Trains and Automobiles a few times, I was expecting to hear a rousing rendition of the Flintstones theme. She decided on a solo performance of Joy to the World instead.

There was a story in the news about a missing person who had disappeared from a Washington State Ferry. At first it was feared that she had fallen overboard, but in speaking with family it was more likely that she walked away from her car. She apparently has bi-polar disorder and was likely off her meds. Her mother said she was harmless and was probably walking around Seattle somewhere.

Looking up the photo online, it turns out it was the same woman, Amy Story, who serenaded us on the bus. Fortunately she was found safe in Lake Forest Park a couple days later, claiming someone had stolen her car.

July 3, 2009

Doggy present

I've mentioned before what a great dog we have. Very well behaved, perpetually happy even when she is feeling poopy. And she's been feeling poopy lately. Literally.

We adopted her when she was about 5 years old, so there was no need for potty training. Even though she is often alone in the house all day, she has only had two accidents in six years, and then only when she was feeling sick. She doesn't have an ironclad stomach, though. She occasionally loses her dinner, usually after she chugs a bunch of water.

The first week of June, she had a string of three days where I came home to an accident. Again, she seemed her normal happy self, but something was obviously amiss. My best guess is that she ate the wrong plant in the backyard. We had spent much of the weekend outside, and she likes to graze. After a few days she was back to normal.

Then we had a reoccurance this week. Again, I think she got into a plant when we were over at a friend's house. For a few days I was worried what I'd wake up or come home to. She of course likes to use the white carpet the most. Fortunately, this too passed.

This is what I came home to today:

She occasionally will get into the trash, but she really outdid herself today. Not sure what was so tempting, but thankfully she didn't break open the teriyaki packet she dragged into the hallway.

As an interesting coincidence, I read this article in the Seattle Times this afternoon: Dogs' 'guilty' behavior may be owner's projection.
Many dog owners have had this experience: Arriving home, they discover their pooch looking sheepish, with its head down, ears pulled back, tail tucked between the legs, maybe slinking behind the sofa. They soon discover the reason: a favorite pair of shoes chewed to pieces, or perhaps a garbage can upended.

But is their canine companion acting guilty? Or is this an example of people projecting a human emotion onto their four-legged friend?

A new study concludes it is more likely the latter: The behavior people interpret as dog guilt is more likely just a reaction to subtle cues from their owners.
Seems the pooch read the article as well and decided to give me a case study. I am pretty sure she feels no guilt. I of course had some choice words when I came home to her little project. Her head and tail went down while I was venting, but as soon as I stopped she was bouncing around in anticipation of dinner. She was tossed outside instead while I cleaned up the mess.

In the picture above, it kind of looks like she is smiling as she looks over her handiwork. As soon as she was allowed back in, she was doing that chuffing pant that some dog experts interpret as a doggy 'laugh'. In some ways it is enviable to live so much in the present. Still, it would be nice if she felt a little bit of guilt on the rare occasion when she misbehaves.

July 2, 2009

Not so deep thoughts

Just remember...if the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.

...and thank you for your support

It is amazing the boost you get with someone in your corner cheering you on. A little time lapse...

This is a quarter mile from the finish when I heard my running friends cheering me on. Seconds earlier I was suffering.


This is about a minute later when I saw and heard my wife.


And this is just a few steps later when all I heard were the voices in my head.

I was so far gone I didn't even notice my friends had run across the parking lot to cheer me to the finish.

And of course there were hundreds of volunteers out on the course setting things up, stopping traffic, handing out fluids, and pointing us in the right direction. Folks who show up for no other reason but to help strangers achieve their goals.

Behind every successful man, there is not only a woman, but hundreds of people you never meet. Running can feel like a solo adventure, but I am well aware that I couldn't to it alone. It is not enough, but thank you.