Thursday, June 29, 2006

Wanna fight terror?

I'd support invading Uganda.

When I'm President, we'll have a policy of invading to stop genocide. This is terrible.

Illegal? Ya don't say!

This just in: Bush's Guantanamo Bay behavior is illegal.

So it's not okay to lock up people because, ya know, you can? And you can't hold them without trial or evidence or anything and do so indefinitely? Gosh! How are you supposed to run a totalitarian religious stat..., er, I mean republi... no, democracy without the ability to throw whomever you like into military prison on a remote island at whim?

Violating the Geneva convention? So what? International treaties and codes of conduct are for pussies, unless you're Iran or Korea, in which case it's appalling that you would act contrary to the wishes of the international community.

Goddam activist judges. Issuing "opinions" and "decisions" on so-called "cases". It's no business of theirs what the president does. That's why we have separation of powers: To keep them out of the affairs of the executive branch. Duh. Go read a textbook.

And don't go feeling sorry for the prisoners. What's five years of your life? And Cuba's a place commies like to go for vacation, so at least the weather's good. Plus they're all clearly guilty. The US military found them in Afghanistan being Muslim and near guns. The US Military would never bend facts to suit its own ends.

This is only helping the terrorists. Just another example of the liberal media printing stories that suit their own agenda.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Oh thank God, I'm normal

At a birthday get together for my friend M, of vegan and kitten fame, (she's in the class behind me from Business school), I ran into her close friend and classmate P, whom I'd met a few times.

We were all seated outside under the propane heater at a swanky hotel bar in the Berekely hills, crowded around three small tables shoved together to accommodate the twenty of us. P ended up next to me, and we chatted away the evening.

Seems P is also somewhat recently divorced (a year or two prior to me, depending on how one chooses to count time). And it seems she is dating very much as I am: A few people at a time, deep fondness and friendship, but no crazy head over heels stuff. Love? Yes. Lust? Yes. In love? No. It was great to hear someone else, and particularly a woman, who's approaching the dating world as I am, because I've been feeling a bit like a freakshow when the women I'm dating melt down over the lack of exclusivity. Some handle it more gracefully than others, but it's been a challenge. Maybe I'm nutty? Maybe I'm a total weirdo for not feeling like monogamy is the greatest thing ever?

She's in her mid 40's, but looks mid 30's and is dating guys mid 30's. Says she's perfect for divorced guys that age, who don't want anything serious, because she's had her kids and just wants fun. No ticking clock issues. And she's old enough to be comfortable with her sexuality and her boundaries and needs to navigate the relationship well.

While I wish I could genuinely say that I don't care what the world thinks about what I want, I feel the disapproval. So it was reassuring to hear that other people out there are are walking the same path, having "friends" that are more than friends, but with relationships that defy facile categorization in less than three words. "No, he's not my boyfriend, but we have sex." Nice to hear that I'm not "damaged" for not seeking to fall into something serious, but, perhaps, actually sane for realizing I'd be nuts to even try. Nice to feel normal and understood.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hard Restart

Monday and this morning I'd had ambitions of getting up and going back to the boat house at the crack of dawn to start working out again.

It's not worked out. Getting up is hard. It's going to take some serious willpower to get back on my schedule of getting up early. I'm going to go to the boat house tonight after work. At least I'll get the work in. But it's hard to get back on track. I know the answer is just that I have to suck it up and get up early. I'm not going to fall asleep early until I get up early.

I hope to get up early tomorrow. We'll see if I make it. But by declaring my ambitions and intentions, it'll make not following thorugh that much more shameful, and ought to help me do it.

Monday, June 26, 2006

I have good friends

Had dinner tonight with my good friend from business school, L, who took me home from the hospital, among other things.

She's just lovely. She's deep and caring and fierce and good. She's honest and real. It's something I find I'm looking for in people in my life these days. Not that every moment needs to be a soulful exchange, but they have to have the capacity to have one. People who know what it is to be honest about fears and vulnerabilities and who know the other side will treat those things with supreme gentleness and understanding.

We drank margaritas, and then did a tequila sampler. And talked about everything going on in our lives openly and honestly. I'm glad she's in my life.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

A new hope

I can push again.

Well, mostly.

I did a route on the mountain bike through trails that I did with my brother about 10 days ago. At that time, I could effectively only push with my right leg, and had to keep my bike in ultra low gear to do anything. Even the slightest incline sent me to 3 MPH.

Not today.

Tonight I flew through the trail, able to press reasonably hard with both legs. I still feel leery about getting out of the saddle and blasting up a hill, but while sitting, I can really fire away. And fire I did.

On the flat pavement I could get near 20 MPH. Last week I was looking at 12 MPH. I really don't go above 20 MPH on the mountain bike on flats, even at full health.

Tomorrow I will hit the erg.

My adventure: Coming down out of the park on a fierce winding paved downhill, I misjudged a turn at about 30 MPH and ended up traveling on the gravel shoulder. Which meant even less control for saving the turn. I braked hard and my back tire locked and skidded. The bike threatened to slip out from under me, so I had to ease up on the brakes to regain control, but kept my speed. Ahead, the shoulder dropped steeply into what I could only guess was a ravine. I couldn't see where it went, just that the shoulder ended abruptly. I was headed right for it. As the front tire was a foot from dropping in, I did the only thing I could: Laid the bike down.

I came to sit with my legs over the edge, ass on gravel. The bike, which I still had by the handlebars, had barely come to rest on the overgrown grass three feet below the road level. I looked down to see a 10 foot length of aluminum drainage pipe protruding from under the roadway. Had I remained on the bike, I'd have ended up landing on drainage pipe in a steep ravine 10 feet below the level of the road. Doubt that would have ended well. Can you say 'search party'? More likely I'd have been eaten by the wild turkeys I saw 4 minutes prior. Carrion: The organic alternative to cremation.

I won't be bombing that descent any more. I like living.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Giving up

FISA world championships are just over two months away. I've not trained seriously for rowing since the earliest in May. And my left knee is terribly weak. I still lack full range of motion.

To think I can be ready to compete at that level in two months is unreasonable. If I were in perfect health and just needed to train, that would be one thing. But I can't pull hard yet. I can't even squat to tie my shoe.

So today I told my coach and captain to take me off the list of eligible folk for that race. I'll focus on being ready for head races in October, which means longer distances and lower intensity work, which is better for my recovery anyway.

I'm disappointed, but I accept it. Nothing I can do.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Why I am not furry

Amid my ongoing medical collapse, I've been made privy to my lab stats. Among the things they measured was the level of testosterone in my system.

Normal range: 400 to 1080 ng/dL

Mine: 424

Barely normal.

Which comes as a bit of a surprise, given certain aspects of my disposition. Many would have guessed much higher.

At least I'll never have to shave my back.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Is this what women think?

Ladies, please, don't listen to this crap.

I took a stroll through Borders at lunch because it's actually hot and I didn't want to melt in my shirt and tie. I found this on the paperback best seller table.

Given that I am, last time I checked, a man, yet I do not seek to marry a "bitch", I was intrigued. I decided to flip through the book, particularly to gain a sense of her perspective on how men really work.

She's right that we (or at least I) don't want someone who's a total doormat with no ideas, personality or interests of her own. She's right that beauty pageant chicks don't ring our bell. Yeah, we'd all do them. But we'd probably not get serious. Too artificial.

Where she goes terribly, horribly wrong is in the tactics she endorses and proposes. Be snarky. Act indifferent. Disguise your true feelings. Employ reward and punishment frameworks suitable for housebreaking dogs. Play on his insecurities.

And some of it just makes no damn sense. To wit:

"Not only this, bitches have more fun. My friend Angela had a date with a guy on a Friday and they went out for Chinese food. They tried several dishes and had plenty of leftovers, so Angela took home all the doggie bags. The following evening, she had A date with a different guy and decided to be the 'hostess with the mostest.' She reheated the Chinese leftovers, 'reorganized' a medley on a pretty plate, and served it to her guest of honor. The fortune cookie said: 'The catered din-din was a smashing success...'"

"Notice what Kara and Angela had in common: Neither one of them felt the need to overcompensate. This earned the man's respect..."

Serving me leftovers from your date with another guy earns my respect? I think I missed a few steps in there. Just seems really deceitful, not respectable. Are we supposed to respect the lack of effort she put into the date? Just sends the signal of "You're not important to me". Which, these days, would just get a "Fine. Later." from me.

Her premise is that men will chase. We will chase what we perceive to be "quality" and we gauge her quality by her level of indifference. Maybe this is true. I, however, am not chasing jack shit. She advises her female readership that chasing makes them look foolish. Chasing doesn't make fools of men?

I think what pisses me off is the misanthropic contempt for men her book displays. There's no love in it, just calculated man swindling. Husband wrangling. If I flipped the genders and wrote a "How to Nail Chicks by Being a Dick" book, I'd be pilloried. Can you imagine?

"Women won't do you until they feel like there's some emotional intimacy. They'll mistake a contrived private display of vulnerability for intimacy. Take her out some place where you could pretend to be uncomfortable. A restaurant with lots of forks, for example. Make it a dinner with some other people, so there's an audience, too, and the need for a 'public face'. Be quiet before the date. Right before you go in, whisper that places like that make you nervous. Then straighten yourself up, put on your 'public face' and ace the date like it's no big thing. She'll think she's on the inside, emotionally, that she has access to parts of you no one else does, and will let you bone her."

I should write that book.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Better than a burning bush

Pretty. Cool.

California Girls


An upscale grocery store. Spoiled soccer moms and affluent eccentrics are buying weekend necessities.

KENNETH and STEPHEN enter the checkout line and PLUNK their two, 2 liter water bottles on the rotating conveyor.

On the converyor in front of their water are the groceries of another customer: 5 bottles of "Vitamin Water" 10 bottles of "Nouriche" yogurt drink, 15 Ritter-Sport chocolate bars, 2 bags of Kettle chips and a 12-pack of Diet coke.

They are being purchased by CALIFORNIA GIRL, in lime green tank top, lime green flip flops and lime green visor and worn jeans. She is slender but something about her look is slovenly from either hard living, inattentiveness or both. She could be 28, she could be 35.

The STORE PA SYSTEM CRACKLES an announcement

Clean-up on aisle 9. Could (incomprehensible)... liter bottle...(incomprehensible)... Thank you.
CALIFORNIA GIRL looks around. She studies the checkout lane number. She turns to KENNETH behind her.
Did they say something about us?
KENNETH looks at her, puzzled. CALIFORNIA GIRL sees he doesn't understand her.
They said something about aisle 9...
(now understanding)
Oh, that's aisle 9. We're in check-out lane 9.
(as if her confusion at this was wholly legitimate)
These stores can be very confusing. I was in one where there were two aisles with the same number. Actually, it was more like each aisle had two numbers. One for each side. It was very hard to find anything when people told you what aisle to look in.
(unsure of what a polite response would be)
Yes. I suppose that could be confusing.
I think part of it is that I don't ascribe the same meanings to words that most people do.
That could make it very hard to relate to the rest of the world.
(feeling understood)
It does!
CALIFORNIA GIRL rummages through her purse and pulls an enormous fold of cash from her wallet. She sifts through it indiscretely several times, as if confused by the act of counting, or perhaps so that everyone in line sees that she carries nearly $400 in cash with her. She pays, and lingers at the end of the check out, arranging her items. KENNETH and STEPHEN pay for their water, and exit the store.
KENNETH and STEPHEN walk to their car.
Was she trying to pick me up?
I think so, but it was rather pathetic
She was loony
But you like them crazy

Monday, June 19, 2006

Oh, there you are

I found all the poor people. They're at six flags.

Went there Sunday with my brother to ride some rollercoasters. It had been ages since I'd been to any such establishment. I recognized immediately that I was, by many measures, out of my element, and by others, back to the element I grew up in/ with.

The attire was mostly sports jerseys for the men, complete with some chains, shorts that end just past the knees, and baseball hats with straight brims and nary a mark on them. The women were in the tightest stuff they owned, even if they were 80 pounds over weight.

I got to see several frighteningly obese folk, some of whom were on those "I've given up all physical activity save moving my arm to stuff food in my face" electric scooter things.

My brother, who's carrying more pounds than he wants to already, ordered me to kill him should he ever reach that state. I told him I'd just haul him off to the deep Alaskan wilderness and leave him and let nature take its course. He'd come back fit or not at all.

In line I noticed that I was, on average, a foot taller than everyone. Part of this was due to the presence of children. But it was also due to the ethnic makeup: Lots of Mexican and Asian folk.

Now before you get all angry at me for making sweeping generalizations, two things: 1) I make sweeping generalizations for a living. I've done consumer research for years. It's my job to take a few bits of information about someone and unravel what's most probably true about them. I've seen enough of how age, race, education, income, marital status, presence of children and geography come together to make predicting any from the others, and just about anything else possible. My prejudices are informed by numbers.

Thing 2) I grew up with this crowd. Transitioning from struggling working class to affluent professional class has been a bit of a challenge in my life. I don't fit with either crowd. My extended family is a bit harder to relate to, and some friends from grade school and high school are even tougher to relate to. I went to grade school and high school in Lawrence, MA. The mean and median incomes in that town are about 2/3 the national average. And check the ethnic makeup.

Very different from the 6-figure plus graduate degree crowd I rub elbows with on a daily basis. None of them are bad people, they just tend not to understand how the other crowd lives.

The rollercoasters were thrilling. Got a huge kick out of the pictures they take of you at the "Oh shit" moment. It's fair to say that my look was usually one of gleeful determination, with a trace of concern. My brother's was often a bit more "I made a very big mistake and I want off". Which we got a good laugh about. We had a good day just being brothers.

I learned Steve has a lot more street smarts than I do. Of course, I'm not hard to beat in that category.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Path Back

I made a lot of progress with the knee this week. I took some stairs two at a time, out of habit, with no adverse consequences. I can go down stairs without fear or wincing. My range of motion is nearing even with that of my other knee. I think the brace is a big help.

I went for a mostly level bike ride with my brother last night after work. There were stretches where I was only really pushing with my right leg, and I spent most of my uphill time in my lowest gear. I can't generate any force with the left leg yet. But it was good to move it.

My physical therapist noticed that I'm getting better, particlarly the range of motion. And she said it looked better, too. Every day, it gets perceptibly better. That I notice the progress helps me remain patient and gives me incentive to keep working.

I continue to hope to be able to row by the end of the month. We get beautiful days like this, and it kills me not to be outside.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Authentic California Experience

My youngest brother is spending a week out here in CA with me. He's got time before he starts his next job, so he's out here to enjoy some California living.

He's so far had real mexican food, gone mountain biking, eaten sushi. And this morning, he got to feel an earthquake. I heard the dishes shake, but didn't feel it. He did. Welcome to California. It's the big one in the south bay.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Oh joy

Just got word that my soon to be ex is filing court papers for spousal support.

It's laughable. I suppose I was right that she has all the urgency, and seems to be acting on it. But it's not that she wants things over, she also wants them her way.

And I feel bad that, once more, I'm responding to threats. She threatens court stuff, and I get the mediation process un-stuck. She could get it un-stuck, too, but I do it for her because she's threatening. I've tried to stop doing more than half the work, tried to stop being the one to put things on the right track. But I think I can choose to do that now in the interest of not having to do it any more.

So I called the mediator, who's done very little for me, really, and hasn't done more than remain a passive observer of our communication breakdown. I asked him to actually, ya know, mediate. Roll up his sleeves and get in there. Legal retainers give the client no financial leverage and gives the lawyer no incentive to do any work. Not doing that again, ever.

Stay tuned. I may have to go to court. Or maybe I'll give up, give in, and get this over with.


Given my prolonged inability to be physically active in the method of my choosing, I'm surprisingly sane. Work demands are ramping up, yet I'm shockingly mellow. And it seems to extend to all areas of my life.

Things with M, which had gone to being somewhat back on again, completed their natural cycle and moved to back off again. She's still not willing to be with me if I'm dating around. I'm not willing to date only her. We were grown ups in our discussion, but it was hard to walk away from it.

I feel bad, because she's pretty upset. But my bad feelings are for her, not me. I'm firmly questioning my ability to feel "in love" with anyone, as I currently recognize those early giddy obsessive thought patterns as the path to poor judgment and irrationality, and I squelch them. The good news is that no woman becomes the center of my happiness universe. I am never fooled by our common mate imprinting instinct of "falling in love" into chasing something. But I'm also not going to feel like any one person is everything to me.

It's been pointed out to me that my only model for how a long term relationship works is my marriage, and clearly it wasn't right. Maybe so, and maybe some day I'll see how it can be, but for now, I'm really not feeling it. I don't want a girlfriend. Girlfriends lead to commitments, commitments lead to obligations, obligations lead to unhappiness.

And I don't feel bad about it. I've never felt this uninterested in sex and relationships before. I have such little interest in meeting new people. I couldn't care less about getting any. Sex comes with relationship complexity and hurt feelings and demands and expectations of time. No thanks. Sex is too expensive. Kind of makes the case for prostitution: Add up the financial cost of the time, energy (having enough of a career to be considered) and actual money spent meeting (clothes, drinks, dating sites), dating (dinners, flowers, cell phone bills), and bedding a woman, and it's a lot less that the cost of a session with a high class call girl. From what I hear. But to be clear: It's not the hassle of sex that has me turned off. I just don't feel like it. I won't say no if it comes to me. But I have no energy for making it happen.

So part of my mellow right now has become mellow about the women. M is gone: Bummer, but oh well. D thinks I'm blowing her off, but it's just that I've been too busy and frankly too indifferent to chase after her. No biggie, we only went on 2 dates. K is back and I'm happy to see her, and fortunately, she's not one to freak if I don't act like a boyfriend. I don't really check on my Match account, haven't contacted anyone new in more than a month. I suppose this all could be related to my medical situation. Not feeling so sexy with the surgery and then the knee and other things.

I just want to get well and row.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Yesterday was my immediate boss's barbecue for the few folks who report to him. I totally forgot about it until today. Monday will be amusing.

I'm not a big fan of time spent with work folks outside of work. Especially on Saturdays.

Oh well.

State-preoccupied media

Dear non-athlete sportscasters (& John McCain),

I know you've got a tough job. You've been assigned to cover a sport you barely understand. So of course you've seized upon one of the few aspects which is familiar to you: Flags.

Yes, the teams come from different countries. Good job. And it's your job to find some dramatic angle to make the game more emotionally significant for the viewers. So tying the games to international political tensions seems an obvious move. It's also complete bullshit.

For the same reason the Olympics is a good thing, the World Cup is also a good thing: Athletes care only about the game. It's not that they set aside international differences, it's that they don't matter.

So leave the Iranian guys alone. They're not thinking "If I drop this corner just right, the world will accept my homeland's aspirations of acquiring atomic weapons". Nor are they thinking "I shall slide tackle this guy because the representative from his district has been particularly vocal in supporting the UN's meddling in our nuclear program".

Since those of you who are the worst offenders are non-athletes, I can understand why you don't get this. But please stop. It's silly.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Please, don't talk

Sitting in JFK terminal waiting for my flight. Stunning woman sits next to me. Tall, slender, long dark hair, trim tailored dark suit, hot high heels. Stunning. To get an idea, cross Denise Richards

with Laura SanGiacomo.

Stunning. Walking evidence that God is a man or an angry lesbian with a sick sense of humor.

I wondered if she was going to SF? I wondered if I could talk to her? But I have sushi breath. Where's my gum? I rummaged through my back pack. She answered her phone.

"Hulloaw? ….Oi ulreddy tewalked to huh tehdoi ind she sed she made sevin hundrid dewollahs…"

Ah yes, the Brooklyn accent that makes the listener dock the speaker's estimated IQ by 50 points. Kewawfee tewok with Linda Richmond.

It's NYC. I bet she was a model. Seen but not heard. Pity.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Seems I spoke too soon on my knee. The PT wasn't really allowed to go over it with me, so I didn't have complete info. The MD just called me. She translated the medical speak. I:

  • Bruised the end of my femur
  • Partially tore my MCL
  • Dislocated my knee cap
  • Bruised my quadricep

Essentially, I fucked up my knee and am being referred to an orthopedist. Good news is he's the guy who works with the SF Giants. So he'll get me, and he'll be good.

But I'm fucked up, and the idea that mere rehab will restore me to pulling hard in a few weeks is an illusion. And these are injuries that hang on. So I'll be sucking it up and having pain for a while.

Now I must ice my knee and do my exercises, because I'm determined to come back. I will come back.

And the answer is: Partially torn MCL

And while that means I don't need surgery, I fear it means the end of certain activities in my life. There's plenty of reason to expect I'll come back to rowing fine, and biking and probably running. But downhill skiing may be over, as may be agility sports like soccer, volleyball, etc. Anything requiring fast pivoting and turning. Not that I do those often, but I like them.

I don't know any of that for sure, but it's my fear. We'll do rehab and see what happens.

My physical therapy appointment on Monday went well. Most impotant for me, I learned a lot about my injury and what my body's doing, and that helped me. I know what I need to do to heal. So I feel better about it all. I must Ice and ibuprofen, then do range of motion exercises, and then do some strength/ movement stuff.

I've been shipped to NYC for work again. Got notice about noon yesterday that my presence was requested here today. Red eye last night. I slept very little. Feel groggy. Must make it through this afternoon, then I can crash. I don't sleep on planes well. No more red eyes for me.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Endorphin deprivation

It's happening. The prolonged lack of exercise is causing me to get blue. With the knee out of order, I'm pretty screwed. Hard to get the heart rate up without using the legs.

I suppose I can go to the boat house and life upper body and right leg. And I might be able to swim. Just hard to build those into my routine.

At least I know why I feel how I feel. Not much I can do about it yet. I hope that after tomorrow I'll have a path back to some kind of activity which will keep me from going crazy.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Fun riding coach

Thunderstorms delayed my flight from leaving NYC at it's scheduled 8:10 PM. We didn't board till about 9, didn't close the door till about 11, and didn't get in the air until 12:10 AM. Which meant touching down in Oakland at 3 AM Pacific. I was in bed at 4 am. On a rowing day, that would mean 1 hour of sleep. Yay!

It wasn't terrible. Jet Blue. TV. I was entertained. My iPod ran out of juice, which I had planned for. I had Sudoku puzzles. My only complaint: The guy next to me was definitely from some other part of the planet where the culture hadn't embraced the consumerism and unnatural extravagance that is deodorant. The dude had serious BO. Stuck on the plane for 9 hours next to BO boy. Good times.

I try to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he'd been traveling for a long time and needed a shower. But I don't think standard travel enables normal humans to cultivate that kind of long-range detectable funk. He'd get up to go to the bathroom, and it was very clear who was stinky. Damn.

Had the MRI, have images on CD. My untrained eye can see what's swollen and inflamed, but can' find anything that looks like a broken or torn MCL. I'm going to wait for a doctor's opinion before I rejoice. I did see something that bothered me... Once I know which images are the important ones that prove my situation, I'll put them up.

Must try to do some work now, on 4 hours sleep. Yippee!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

HNT: Bruisey bloated post-surgical me

I told you all about my amazing bruises after my sugery. Here they are in all their past glory. Note the fully purple bikini zone? That color extends south. I didn't photograph that, though. You'll just have to imagine.

Now, however, things are generally back to normal. I have just the tiniest hints of bruise in the bikini zone. The rest has faded.

I was still a bit bloated in these shots from the air they put in me for the appendectomy, too. Not that you'd notice, but I do.

Per the rules, the origin and explanation of HNT is here.