Friday, September 29, 2006

Nice little disaster

Last night was a mess.

After a delightful dinner with K and my friend L, in which each finally got to meet the other, K and I went to the tail end of a birthday party for one of K's friends, Jen.

I'd met Jen and her crew before around Easter. She's funny. Her friends are funny.

K and I were both tired, being up well past our bed times, but wanted to spend some quality time with the birthday girl before leaving.

So we moved over to the table in the bar where she was holding court, and took the two empty seats in front of her. Bawdy stories were told. Many laughed.

She was clearly a little smashed. She continued to remind her guests that I "make great bread" which is true: I brought my spent grain bread that I make after brewing to the Easter dinner when we met. It was a hit. Though I think everyone got the point about my culinary talents the first time they heard it. Let alone the third. Or the eighth.

And then she got a little personal.

Jen: Ken Doll, K is such a great girl. She's so special. If you're not good to her... [dramatically snaps clamshell cell phone closed as if to indicate cutting something off]

The crowd is amused.

I tolerate it as drunken chick friend talk. Yes, you love your friend. Got it. You'll be mean to me. Fine.

And then she got too personal.

Jen: But Ken Doll, seriously. Get the fuck off of What are you doing on there? I don't want to see your face again when I do a search....

Now I may have misremembered the exact phrasing. But the public implication and accusation was that I'm still on Match cruising for girls and generally being a scoundrel.

People tend to prefer hearing about potential infidelity by surprise in public with strangers. Good times. And it's always fun to be confronted in public with what one thought was private behavior.

It was one of those time standing still moments, as my brain shifted from "she's going to say something funny" to "Holy shit, I can't believe she's saying this" to "If you were a guy, I'd have punched you out 5 sentences a go".

All I could muster in the moment was a very sternly voiced "Jen, you're drunk, and it's your birthday, so I'm going to let that go". It was accompanied by the look which said "If you were a guy, I'd have punched you out 5 sentences ago."

Meanwhile, there had been much scrambling. K had stood up and walked away without a word, and some of Jen's friends had disappeared about the same time, possibly to check on K, possibly to run for cover.

Having delivered my single sentence reply, I stood up and walked out, to try to find K. I couldn't find her, ducked into the men's room, called her cell phone let her know I was looking for her. After a glance back into the room where folks had been, seeing that K had made her way back there and that the girls were frantically surrounding her, I opted to walk out of the place and wait by the door outside.

Eventually K came out. She wasn't in good shape.

We spent the drive home and the next several hours at her place talking.

This "effective" girlfriend status was only a few weeks old. I still have misgivings about being anyone's "boyfriend" right now.

Yes, I'd been logging in and checking my match account still. Mostly to get the re-assurance that, yes, no one was writing me and, yes, none of the girls even looking at my profile were folks I'd want to date. It turned my stomach to think of another date with a chick who thinks that everything will be wonderful when she's married, or with a bitter dysfunctional harpie who hopes you're the one but would also like to take out her generalized aggression towards men upon you. No more girls. All done.

Eventually, K articulated what I've been feeling: I've no trouble choosing her. I just have a lot of issues about choosing the role of "boyfriend". Not part of my plan. I was supposed to be just playing the field and having fun now. Women sneak in and take all your fun and your stuff and deprive you of sex and make you clean the house and carry giant financial burdens like mortgages and children. They are scary. Being a boyfriend is bad.

And the actions of "taking myself off the market" are about choosing that boyfriend role. And while, I may have been moving in that direction, I wasn't there yet. Which was probably just fine with K

But clearly not fine with Jen.

Last night I was tempted to just pull the plug.

"Fuck it. Too much hassle, these women. I'll go home to Marin, and be a monk. And while it'll suck for K, Jen will really feel like shit when she learns her words triggered the break up. Teach her to fuck with me. I'll burn down my house if it's guaranteed to kill the wasp that stung me."

I realized I was exhausted, and that exhaustion was amplifying the drama. But I was seething and far from ready to relax into sleep. I hadn't expected to be blindsided and publicly shamed.

And then I wondered why Jen, who has a new boyfriend, is doing searches on Pot calling kettle black?

Criminy, I haven't e-mailed a match chick looking for a date since... May? The only ones I've had since then are women who got in touch with me, and the last of those was early July.

So now K's a bit unsettled, I'm pissed off and not looking forward to spending time around more of her friends this weekend. I'm tempted to get very passive aggressive. If I'm going to pay the penalty for the sin, I might as well actually commit it. If I'm going to suffer as a cad, I should enjoy the fruits of scoundrelhood.

But I'm not going to. I'm going to stay on the high road, try to act with integrity.

I pulled my profile. is useless.

The correct boyfriend response would be "I pulled my profile. I found the girl for me, and have no interest in others".

I'm not interested in building other relationships. But I remain interested in the validation of receiving women's interest and attention. Yeah, I'm a self esteem special. But thinking of myself as "off the market" freaks me out.

So for now, folks will have to be content with my being done with If they don't like the motives, that's tough.

And K's friends can stay the fuck out of our business.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

What I did last weekend

On Sunday, K & I went to the Folsom Street Fair, which is SF's outdoor leather community festival.

Let me assure you, K & I are not hardcore S&M folk. But we do appreciate the openness and acceptance in SF, and we're both pro-expression. And there's some pretty amazing people watching. It's kind of like the an S&M-themed Pride parade. So it's fun.

And it's fun to dress for the occasion. Not that I own a black leather jock strap. But I've got enough pieces that, when properly assembled, let me seem part of the crowd.

And what's there to see?

Well, lots of gay dudes in various attire, ranging from outfits ala Mr. Slave from South Park to fabulous female impersonation. It's a peculiar experience for me to be in a crowd that large yet be far from the most fit male physique. A full 40% of the male population in that crowd was fit to be in a pin-up calendar of some variety. I say "some variety" since there were beefy body-builder types (Like Arnold in his Conan days), slightly smaller, yet still statuesque and muscular men (like Terrell Owens), and then leaner muscled dudes (triathlete style bodies).

There was some outrageously bad drag. Some 50-something dude with a white dress with polkadots and a wig and the Mary Jane's to look like strawberry Shortcake. With stubble. And then some fabulous outfits ala the person in the black patent platform heels that made him (I'm not exaggerating) a full foot taller.

There were the two ripped black dudes in a cute little "sailor" outfit (mostly naked, plus hat, little blue kerchief tie and collar, white hot pants) and something I can only describe as a black leather jock strap with a silt in the front to advertise the enormity of his tool. On one hand, dude, put that away. On the other hand, dude, if I had one of those I'd show it off, too. He wasn't dispelling any stereo types.

Then there's the activities one may see. There's the usual public spanking. Then there's the unusual public spanking, which this year involved a woman suspended in full rope bondage upside down enduring some sensation play of some sort. There was quite a crowd, so it was hard to see the specifics.

Outside one of the packed bars, there was one dude (built like Terrell) lying prone on the sidewalk, licking the tall black boots of another dude, who had one boot on the licker's back. Boot worship. Hey, whatever floats your boat.

There was a lot of tongue in cheek humor. I thought this sign was funny.

And I found a new tank t-shirt. I'm sure there'd be a corporate lawsuit of some kind if folks discovered these. They came in several varieties. Some depicting the M&M's dudes as gay leather buddies, another with an orange peanut M&M chained to a bondage dungeon cross, another with a red M&M wearing a gimp mask.

I, of course, went with green. She's hot, as always.

K also stimulated the economy by dropping what was, to me, a breathtaking chunk of change on an extremely well made corset. The booth was staffed by cheerful sultry ladies wearing their wares, and helping cinch potential customers into the merchandise.

I was intrigued by K's articulation of enjoying how she felt wearing it. What many feminist types have used as a symbol of "male restriction of female sexuality" she experienced as focusing, celebrating and enhancing her feminine sexual power. My take: Yummy curves. Girl looked good. Behold:

I was addled to contemplate that my girl was wearing a corset and leather pants at the Folsom Street fair because she really wanted to. I'm a lucky guy.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

You know you're tired when

You're standing in a public restroom and realize you didn't pay much attention to the signage near the entrance that told you whether men should break right or break left.

So you panic, thinkng you could be in the women's room. Afterall, all the folks in your peripheral vision are a lot smaller than you.

And then you realize that you're standing in front of a urinal.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Fully Operational Battle Station

Last night I received the line-ups from my coach for Head of the Charles. And not only did I make the boat, I'm stroking (sitting furthest to the stern, setting rhythm, pace, strategy). Which is my ideal, on some levels, and not my ideal on others. It seems some of the best talent for this race has been syphoned off into our 4+ entry, and others who didn't make the 4+ seem uninterested in the 8+, which kind of miffs me. So it's great to be leading the crew, but I'd rather have more talent and be left rowing 2 seat. That said, I know the river and am perhaps best qualified to make judgements about pace and rate, given how the crew feels and how much we have to go.

Our first practice as a crew was this morning, and it went largely well. Strong winds from the south meant waves moving perfectly perpendicular to the boats. So in the first 15 minutes of practice, we all got soaked to the bone, and the boat took on about 6" of water throughout.

We rowed rather well. It was very stable, though with the water ballast, it's possible that it wasn't just talent. We do have a tendency to shorten up and to rush, which comes from some of the personnel in the boat who prefer to row that way. It's inefficient, and when I could get us to settle down a bit and stay long, we moved rather well.

Our goal will be to make the time standard for the automatic re-entry for next year, which means we must come within 5% of the winning time. Last year the winner of the 40+ 8+ was only 2 seconds slower than the winner of the club 8+. So we'll need to be fast.

To that end, I've continued my training on the erg, and last night cranked out an hour at 1:54.5 splits (15715m), which is probably a personal best. It's faster than any 60 min piece I have on my log card, and I can't recall going faster than that in the past. It's just not a PR number I've really tracked over the years, so we'll call it a PR.

My knee still isn't at 100%. My left quad is still smaller and weaker than my right, but it's clearly coming along such that I can put up some good numbers. I feel like the Death Star in episode 6: not fully built, but working up to task.

We'll have our first race on Oct 15. If we're going to make the time standard at the Charles, we'll need to win on the 15th.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Breaking radio silence

I've not written much about my career situation for a while, since I noticed a hit a few weeks back that came from my company. And it wasn't me. Nor was it anyone I knew might have known of the blog.

My biggest fear was that it was my boss. I just don't care for him to know any more about me than I let him know. So I kept it quiet.

I haven't noticed any other hits since then, though. It may be safe, it may not (maybe he's smart and surfing it from home?), but today, I don't care.

I know it's a bad idea, but I'm feeling very much like quitting with no new job in hand. I'd rather have no job than this job.

The next project they want me to work on will utilize about 2% of my brain power and require me to spend the three weeks I need to be training for the Head of the Charles in New York. While I'm finishing another project.

It's not going to happen. My return on doing anything more for my current firm is zero. And my priorities in life dictate that I tell my employer to fuck off, since they'd be setting my quality of life to zero by putting me in hotels and on airplanes and in New York and not rowing.

I wonder how fast I can find a new job? That's my new first priority.

Sadly, I may have to stay in touch with my anger and dissatisfaction with work to find the energy to make the career change. I don' t like to run my life on anger, but I have in the past and I can.

Friday, September 22, 2006


When the sun goes down on the playa, the temperature heads south, fast. One feels like the next minute in the heat will complete one's carcass's transformation to an actual piece of beef jerky, or a raisin. Then 15 minutes into sundown one thinks "Hey, it's cooled down enough that I can walk 10 feet without getting heat exhaustion". 90 minutes later, it's "Where are my pants and jacket?"

Because night time is temperate, it's the when the city is most alive. Music comes up at dusk, and plays till dawn. And because many people are out at night, much of the art is designed to be enjoyed by night, in the dark.

And what makes art fun at night? Fire. And lights.

One amazing piece was rather simple in its conception, yet beautiful and fun in its execution.

In the middle of the playa, were many poles in a circle around one central pole. From each perimeter pole to the central pole were strung wires with bulbs on them. The poles were arranged with regular degree spacing, and each pole had many strings, from top to bottom, also arranged at regular intervals. Each bulb had the capacity to generate many different colors.

The artist had created a 3-D co-ordinate system for displaying color and light. One could describe a bulb precisely through a few dimensions:

  • Pole (degrees)
  • Row (top to bottom)
  • Column (interior to exterior)
  • Color (which color the bulb displays)

The bulbs were then connected to a computer system which changed the bulbs according to various patterns to create many effects.

The piece became known as "The Ping Pong Balls" because of the bulbs. Title your work what you will, the community will name it for you.

One of my favorite display routines began with all the lights on the top row illuminated. Then, one by one, the light would "fall" down to the bottom row (rapidly lighting the corresponding light on the same column below it, and turning itself out, successively, until reaching the bottom row), where it would remain illuminated. Like leaves falling from a tree in autumn. It looked like the bulbs were falling off their strings. I think there was a normal probability distribution function in the algorithm, because at first, a few fell, but then many fell, until the last few fell. Probably assigns a random number in a probability density function to each bulb and uses that number to dictate the moment of falling.

I liked it because there was a simple, elegant, ordered mathematical structure out of which could emerge so many beautiful and fun patterns, all governed by some elegant math.

Still photos don't do it justice, because it wasn't about the static pattern of illumination, but the dynamic patterns that made it so fun to watch.

It was fun to listen to the crowd, pausing on their trek across the playa to ooooh and aaaah and sometimes giggle at the electric fireworks display.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I'm back

K earned more points towards girlfriend of the year last night when she picked me up from work with Thai food. She had ordered fried spring rolls on the hunch that my desperate mood was mostly fueled by hunger. I decimated the spring rolls before we got to her place. I fed her two of them. I ate six.

We had beers, we ate, and she packed to spend the night with me up in Marin.

At my place, wanting to get to bed, commando style I swiftly and precisely packed my travel bag for my trip, my change bag for the boathouse, my workout clothes for the morning, and went to bed.

I got up with the alarm at 5 to head to the boat house. K got up with me, and had a productive morning at my place.

I had been eagerly looking forward to rowing, since I've been training on land for so long. But 80% of my team hadn't done their 20 min test piece, and instead of going out on the water with those who had already tested, I elected to test again. I already had one good one on the card, so I could only improve.

And improve I did. I went from a 1:48.8 average 500m to a 1:47.9. I took almost a full second off the split. I added nearly 50 meters to my prior distance.

All the time on the erg paid off, especially the 3 x 20 min workouts, which got me very comfortable with the 20 min piece.

The good/ sad/ scary thing is, looking at my pacing, I can still go faster.

It's my second fastest time on my log card, and among my top 4-5 performances, lifetime. And my knee still isn't healed, so I think I can do better still.

But it's a very respectable number, and should put me well into the running for the Head of the Charles boat. I'll have to seat race on Saturday, I've been warned. I'm looking forward to seeing the scores so I can see who I'm competing with.

My record is 1:46.7 pace for 20 min. I aim to break that this year. Just 1.3 seconds on the split to shave. It can be done.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Not making this up

From the profile of some chick that looked at my profile:

I’m looking serious man for future marriage. I like cooking and children. I want to find man, kind, loving, romantic and calm. I want to say, that for me is the important things are the soul, honesty and trust.

It could be another Russian spammer (nice English!) but I don't think so.

Run awaaaaay....

Hostile workplace environment

I just finished interviewing a candidate for a position here.

She was cute. Very cute.

25-ish, redhead. Looked a bit like Debra Messing, only not that sickly skinny.

I had to remind myself that I needed to form an objective opinion about her capacity to execute the reponsibilities of the job.

And to stop smiling at her for no reason.

She was cute.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Weekend update

In a word: restorative.

K picked me up at the office where I had been working late Friday night. Went back to her place, ate the amazing roast pork loin and vegetables dinner she had made that night after her yoga class, shared a few beers, snuggled on the couch, looked at my Burning Man photos, and then ended up in bed.

Saturday morning, after some sweaty morning sex, she got up and made French toast, which was amazing, while I dashed though the shower. We ate. She showered. I crawled back in bed, and feel asleep. I woke up long enough to notice that she came in and joined me to nap. And then I woke up and it was the middle of the afternoon, K had dressed and done a few dozen things around her place, letting me sleep the whole time. She noted that she had tried to be quiet, made noise anyway, and that I didn't flinch. She knew I needed to sleep.

She knew I wanted to do another 20 min test piece on the erg on Saturday, so we headed off to Marin to get me to the boat house. But not before I dealt with a rat carcass her cat had delivered to her deck. I must earn my keep as the straight man. She came along to the boat house because she likes my company, likes to see me being athletic (sweat & muscles turn her on. Maybe not the sweat), and to do her own workout. She brought the yoga mat she keeps at my place, and did her practice behind me, out of my view, while I hammered away on the erg.

I improved on my pace from the last 20 min piece of Sept 5, down to 1:48.8/ 500m pace. Still far from my best, but just about where I was last year at this time. I snooped on some of my competition's log cards, and none had done their pieces yet. So I may do well to make the first draft of our 8+ for Head of the Charles.

Back to my place, afterwards, both of us feeling physically energized. She worked on her laptop on things she needed to do. And she kept me company. She sat on the toilet (not using it, just for a seat) while I cut my hair in the bathroom. She inspected, helped tidy up spots that I missed. She stayed there while I showered, and we chatted through the shower curtain about her project while she edited powerpoint.

Then it was my turn to cook, and I DJ'd MP3's off my desktop at home while she cranked out powerpoint slides and I cranked out dinner. Every time walked past her from the kitchen to skip a music track, I stole a kiss.

I cooked and cleaned (a little) and she worked. My dinner came out exactly as I intended. Well, the tomato rice could have been better. But the roasted chicken (I made it two different ways, same oven) and roasted sweet potatoes with sage and blue cheese were spot on.

Sunday morning, once our empty stomachs motivated us to get out of bed, we left my place in search of donuts, and then hit the Marin Farmer's market, which is full of hippy wonderfulness, and fruit. It was warm, and I swore that, once home, I was taking off my jeans immediately.

Arrived back at my place, which was cooler than the warming outdoors. K cornered me in the hall, and helped me out of my clothes which were "too hot" and we ended up in bed again, which lead to napping.

K had to head to the city to tend to more work matters, so I left with her to go to the boat house and do 3 x (20' on, 3' off). I went faster than I have since my injury, managing 1:55/ 500m for all of them, at very moderate heart rates (high 160's on average). Very successful.

And what do I think?

I'm not going to fight happiness. K is so many of the things I had been looking for. She wants to participate in my life. She doesn't merely tolerate my athletics, she supports and admires it. She doesn't just leave me there to erg on my own, she hangs out and has her own athletic stuff to do, too. She likes great food. She lusts after me, body and soul. She treats me with kindness and gentleness and adoration. She's a great laugh. She doesn't care to change me. Her sex drive may actually exceed mine. She's a brunette. She exposes me to new things, but gives me the time I need to adapt to them.

Both of us, as previously married people, can slip into "let's pretend we're married" mode and just have a comfortable at home weekend. It feels good.

So I'm not going to stress about who I'm not dating right now. Screw it. Right now, Things with K are working for me.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Why I'm a political independent

This is the kind of stuff that makes me like John McCain. Not quite enough to make me forgive and forget his shilling for Bush, but it's progress.

Mr McCain said: “We are not saying the CIA cannot carry out a programme. We are saying it cannot amend the Geneva conventions.”

He has argued that if the US began reinterpreting the rules, it could set a precedent for other less democratic countries to introduce their own interpretation. This, he said, would put US troops at risk.

Mr McCain, the Republican front-runner for the 2008 presidential nomination, is said to have told colleagues that he would rather sacrifice his chances of winning the White House than accept these measures

That's what he's supposed to do. The right thing, not the policitically advantageous thing. It's why Kerry lost. Take a stand. Good job.

On the pope's comments

Jeffrey Dahmer: The violent streak in your religious belief system is troubling. I don't think God would approve.

Charles Manson: You chopped up your lovers and ate them!

Jeffrey Dahmer: That doesn't mean you're not crazy, too.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

View from camp

We were across from the "Department of tethered aviation" which lent out kites. Dusk on Sunday, when folks are breaking camp.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

This is not my beautiful wife

I find myself stuck in very odd relationship circumstances.

In a sentence, I have effectively acquired a girlfriend. And I'm not sure how this happened.

K and I have been spending a lot of time together. Which we like. And she extends invitations to do things with her. Which I accept. And in so doing, despite our understanding that I'm not looking for anything exclusive, I am left lacking the time to see anyone else.

Not that I could, anyway. My policy of openness and honesty dictates I don't hide my relationships from people. girl: What are you doing this Saturday night?

Me: Seeing K. girl: Who's K?

Me: A close friend. girl: Just a friend?

Me: Friend and lover. girl: Asshole. girls don't want to date a guy who's seeing someone else. Particularly someone he's been seeing for nearly a year.

And the more I'm out and about with K, the more deeply she's integrated into my life, the more "taken" I seem, and the less likely I am to meet other people in offline circumstances. Friends aren't going to introduce me to their available friends. Those who enquire will hear "he's got a girlfriend".

I hadn't intended to end up here. I had sought to sample broadly before jumping into anything. And I'm afraid that I didn't really choose this relationship as much as it sort of happened to me.

I sense an impending freak out, in which I will declare my life a woman free zone, and focus on making the Head of the Charles boat, a job change, and some good beer.

Sadly, I know myself well enough now to know that I like women way too much to go without for more than a few weeks. Perhaps I'll have to get comfortable truly being alone.

Tough being a non-marriage minded boy who wants an occasional snuggle and a screw.

More progress

Did the hour of power last night and managed 15622m. A slight improvement over my previous best this season.

The knee feels more solid now, when pressing, though when I move to crank up the power, I can feel myself compensating with the right leg. Still, the numbers are pretty good. I still have cold symptoms, so I suppose it's fair to beleive I could go a little faster than that, when well.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Before the Daily Show can do it

From Reuters: "Bush to Bin Laden: America will find you."

Bin Laden to Bush: Just like you found the WMD's in Iraq? The ones with the locations you knew about?


Hit the Boat House last night originally intending 10 x (500m on , 2' off). It was hot. My car thermometer said it was 89. So I took the erg out of the boat house and onto the back porch, where the outside air was cooler and I was in shade.

And, not feeling like the sprint workout, I decided to put in a 10K. I just felt like I had a good one in me.

Since my last 10K on my log card had my heart rate readings for each 500m interval, I was able to get a sense of how I had responded, physically, to my pace from last time.

I chose to try to shave just a bit off my last performance, which was ambitious, given that I still had cold symptoms.

My heart rate was about 2-3 beats higher than it was at each point last time I did 10k, which was a bad sign. I knew the final phase would be painful.

And it was. My terminal heart rate was 196. I spent 8 minutes with my heart rate above 185. last time I only spent aboput 2 minutes with my HR over 185. So I was pushing it.

The good news is that I took another 7 seconds off my 10K best for this season, managing 37:40.1. Given that I was probably still suffering from cold symptoms, and that it was warm, I'll take it.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Burning Man things

This darling 8 (?) year old girl piloting this giant grunting art bicycle was too good to pass up.

I took this shot right before the AA camp invited us and every other passerby at the 3 o'clock plaza to do the hokey pokey.

It's good, from time to time, to stop and do the hokey pokey in public with 38 strangers.

A few of the hokey pokey solicitors had shirts that asked "What if the hokey pokey really is what it's all about?"

There's truth in there, somewhere.

Note the playa mud on the bike tires: Water trucks would mist down the "roads" forming temporary mud, which, if left alone, hardened into a solid instead of the powdery dust.

Note also the spire in the upper left. These "street lamps" are part of the city's infrastructure which is built before hand. Every dusk, volunteer lamplighters carry lanterns out to these spires and hang up the lights with long poles.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Pacman 3-D

This is the kind of absurdist hilarity that would go over well at Burning Man.

Definitely sick

Hit the boat house yesterday for 3 x 20', knowing that I was probably ill.

Last time I did the workout, I managed 1:56 splits for all of them. This time, it was clear that wasn't going to happen. It's a side benefit of being an athlete: Workouts are a great barometer of health. I struggled to make 1:56.3 for the first, then 1:58 and 1:58.5 for the next two. It's all good. Torched 1100 calories in an hour.

On Tuesday I sat down to do my first 20 min test piece in ages. I hoped for 1:50 average, and managed 1:49. So that's very encouraging.

My team has an entry in the Head of the Charles, in the age 40+ 8+. Coach's tentative lineups give me a good shot at that boat, but I need to put up some serious numbers. He wants a 20 min test piece in by the 19th of this month. If I can get down into the 1:47's, I'll be in good shape. I think he just wants a good quantitative excuse to boat me. I aim to give him one.

So in the short run, I'll train to make the boat. But in the longer run, I need to train to win the race. That means 3x 15', 10 x 500m, 10,000m training pieces and 20 min tests. Must lean on whatever aerobic foundation I have right now to build anaerobic capacity for the 20 min piece.

I feel a bit better today. I'm sure I'll be back to being fine by Tuesday or so.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Back from New York

with a head cold.

Felt it coming on during the plane ride, thought maybe it was just the dry air.

This morning I woke up stuffy, coughing, and witht hat general muscle fatigue that says "I have a virus".


I'm at work, but don't care to be. I've popped some dayquil.

I really wanted to work out today, too.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Baptism by Dust

The drive to Black Rock from Reno was powerful.

Crossing the Indian reservation, I saw a native crossing guard. Not a face I see in SF.

The landscape itself is a warning that humans have no business here. Nevada highway 447 runs through a valley between eroding mountain ridges, next to an extinct lake bed. It looks like Napa valley after nuclear holocaust. Same geographic structure. No life.

Well, some life. Scrubby brush plants that look barely alive.

We were in an organic caravan of fellow pilgrims. Only one reason so many folk with out of state plates and tons of shit in and on their cars are driving this route this week. At the time, I had mixed feelings about being among so many people. I wanted attendance to make me unique. By the end of the week, I'd feel differently.

I was thrilled to hit the playa. I had read the rules about driving slowly so as not to create a lot of dust. I was about to learn why these rules are in place.

Playa dust is legendary. I was told about packing things in plastic bags, that the dust gets everywhere, that it's caustic.

As we waited to get processed, a fellow rower noticed my plates and struck up a chat. He walked beside me while I drove. Turns out we went to the same undergrad school. He's thinking of rowing for my old club in Boston.

Waiting in the queue of other cars at the gate with my windows down, I noticed some dust entering the car. "Oh! Playa dust! Cool!"

My, it hadn't taken it long to get into the car and lightly adjust the hue of my car's dashboard. Playa dust is a very light brown, finer than baking powder. It's light, yet, upon contact with moisture, becomes sticky and slick. As a solid, it's a powder. As a liquid, it's mud.

(The Playa: dried lakebed, source of all dust. )

After some confusion about the correct process for getting my ticket, and after much waiting in line, I arrived at the gates. I received my initial instructions. About the gate I noticed several people in various forms of dress and undress, all with goggles and masks and hats.

As the greeter finished his spiel, the wind picked up. And the world became invisible.

(notice the dashboard color change from the prior picture)

So much dust in the air that it was like the thickest fog or heaviest snowstorm I had ever seen.

Protocol in such conditions is not to drive anywhere. The guy at the gate led me through and over to the side of the road to some cones to wait out the white out.

After a few minutes, I could see again, and, now that K had found me, led the way to our camp.

(notice the air is still dusty compared with photo #1)

Once there, conditions hadn't gotten much better. High winds kept whipping up dust, such that, to be outside, I had to wear my protective chem lab goggles over my cooler yet less effective goggles to really keep the dust out of my eyes. And even with the dust mask, I was breathing it.

We managed to find places for our cars, and to set up tents.

In just a few hours, the wind had died and the temperature had gone from the low 90's to the low 50's.

I noticed I didn't need my mask any more. Or the goggles.

As the week wore on, it turns out that we had arrived at the dustiest moment in the week. And spent much time with our car doors open and windows down during that time. The inside of my car is so filthy that I cannot drive it without looking like I rolled around on the ground for a half hour. And I like to wear darker colors, at least in the pants department. First thing to do on Saturday: Get the car washed.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Sad date

Looking at my files in my project folder, I noticed the most recent ones said 9-5-06.

"Is today September 5th?"

I look at my watch.

It is.

It would have been my 7 year wedding anniversary.

And now I feel like crap.

It was amazing

I'm back, and it was astounding. Phenomenal experience.

Slamming back into an in box full of nagging and griping e-mail makes this life I live in the default world that much more ludicrous. Yet it's all that much more tolerable, too. I feel like Neo, who's just figured out that the walls aren't real. There is no spoon.