Monday, May 25, 2009

Today's workout

Spent Memorial Day listening to the rain and executing The Great Purge of 2009: I sorted through all my possessions and accumulated a massive pile of useless crap to be thrown away. It feels great to lighten the load! What doesn't feel so good are my shoulders -- even light housework has them singing. Fuck. Fuckity fuck fuck.

I'll do some stretching and balance work here pretty soon. Time 0:30.

Last week's workouts

I haven't been posting my workouts regularly because it's frustrating to report on so much unsuccessful activity.

Friday: Nothing much, just the daily stretching, balance, and quad exercises. Time 0:30.

Saturday: Went to the Wash Park rec center for a 75-minute beginning yoga class. A couple of friends had recommended these classes as being good quality for a good price: just $3 per class! There were maybe three dozen people in the class -- mostly middle-aged women -- and the energy in the room was very positive. The class was quite easy and I left thinking that I would try the intermediate class the next week, maybe even the power class. Then Sunday happened.

After yoga I went to the gym for lower body weights and core exercises. Time 3:00.

Sunday: Went to the gym for a 30-minute Pilates class, then a 60-minute yoga class. This was a mistake because in both classes we did a lot of work in plank, down dog, and other positions that required me to support my body weight with my arms, which strains my shoulders. By evening both shoulders were aching badly. The pain doesn't seem to be in the shoulder muscles, but in the joints themselves -- I think I may have strained both rotator cuffs.

In between classes I tried to use the elliptical but had to give up after 5 minutes because my knee was hurting. Grrr.

I think I can continue to do Pilates as long as I skip the positions that work the arms, but I'll have to scratch that yoga class entirely, which is a shame because I really liked it -- it was much more active and demanding than the Iyengar classes. The Iyengar classes present much less impact to my body, though, so I'll stick with those for now.

Time 1:45.

Hours this week: 9.75
Hours this year: 222.75
Miles skated this week: 0
Miles this year: Skates 596, Bike 815

Thursday, May 21, 2009

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is the sweet membership deal I just got from 24 Hour Fitness. When I joined 24 Hour in 2006, I paid $720 for a three-year membership, which was a good deal -- just $20 per month. Even better: at the end of the contract I could renew for a year for $99 -- less than $9 per month. I thought that was pretty cheap until I got a notice last week that if I paid for the renewal up front, I could pay just $49. For a year. That’s right; for $4 -- for less than the price of a venti skinny half-caf latte -- I get to use the gym for an entire month. Given the frequency with which I go to the gym, that’s about 25 cents per visit.

Today's workout

To the gym. My shoulders had been feeling okay after some rest, but during a set of lat pulldowns my left shoulder flared up and I had to scuttle the rest of my upper-body exercises, because they all work the shoulders to some extent. So I did the leg lifts and some stretches and balance work and called it a night.

So let's review: I can't skate, run, bike, or even use the elliptical because of my knee. And until my shoulder heals I won't be able to swim. So for cardio that leaves walking and maybe pool running if I want to spring for a flotation belt. Grrr! I'll say it again: getting old and fragile sucks.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is 5318008. Typing this into a calculator and turning it upside down never fails to fill me with adolescent glee.

Today's workout

90-minute yoga class. Highlight: hanging upside down on the rope wall.

My knee hurt today just walking around. Grrr.

Weighed in at 152 today, down 1 pound from last week.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is the relatively new practice of putting marathoners' names on their race numbers, so spectators can say, "Looking good, Dave!" instead of "Looking good, number 3422!" Why did it take us so long to think of this?

Today's workout

To the gym, where I used the elliptical machine for 30 easy minutes. My knee was hurting a little. That's not a good sign, when the elliptical machine hurts your knee.

Then an hour of Pilates. I felt very stinky -- I was wearing the same shirt I wore to run on Sunday, plus my feet stunk, and I had to fart (although, due to a massive application of willpower, I was able to hold it).

Monday, May 18, 2009

Today's workout

Just some core exercises on the ball. My quads hurt after yesterday's run so I'm skipping the quad isos today. Time 0:15.

Saturday's and Sunday's workouts

Saturday: Swam 1000 meters at the gym, then core exercises. Time 1:15.

Now I'm worried about my shoulders. Both of them hurt, especially the left one, which is not surprising given that heretofore my shoulders haven't seen any heavier action than the occasional act of self-abuse, and now they're getting two swimming workouts and two weightlifting workouts a week. I think I'll back off till they recover, then build up more slowly. Getting old and fragile sucks!

Sunday: Ran the anchor leg for a relay team at the Colorado Colfax Marathon: 7.6 miles in 70 minutes (9:15 pace) at 80% heart rate. I really didn't want to run because of my janky knee, but I didn't want to let the team down either, so I decided to take it easy and walk if I needed to. My knee felt stiff and painful after the first mile, but in the second half it loosened and I was even able to push the pace a little bit. Last year I ran this same race in 58 minutes, but this year I was just happy to finish without hurting myself.

My legs felt pretty hashed after the race -- I haven't run that far since... uh... well, since last year's Colorado Colfax Marathon relay -- so I took the rest of the day off.

Hours this week: 11.25
Hours this year: 213
Miles skated this week: 0
Miles this year: Skates 596, Bike 812

Friday, May 15, 2009

Today's workout

To the gym, where I swam 1200 meters in 34 minutes, then lifted weights. I'm feeling more comfortable in the water than I ever have before, although of course I'm still painfully slow. I swim a length using freestyle, then a length using backstroke to rest -- if I swim freestyle constantly I tire too fast and I start hyperventilating because I still haven't figured out the breathing. Time 2:45.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Today's workout

Walked to the park and ran an easy lap. I had wanted to do two laps, but my knee hurt so I quit early. Grrr.

Then I walked home and did a routine of core exercises on the balance ball. Time 1:15.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is the fact that Häagen-Dazs is not -- as I always assumed from its name -- a Scandinavian company. It was founded in the Bronx by Polish immigrants, who made up a Scandinavian-sounding nameW that they correctly thought would impress Americans who think that everything European is sophisticated and delicious.

Speaking of Häagen-Dazs, today The Awesome is also their new Five ice cream, which is made with just five ingredients and is quite tasty -- not as rich as their regular stuff, and it's not crammed full of cookie dough or chocolate fish, but it sings with a delicious simplicity.

Today's workout

A 90-minute yoga class. Would have been a great day to ride my bike. Grrr.

Also did my daily leg-strengthening exercise, and iced and massaged my knee.

Weighed in at 153, up 2 pounds from last week.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Yesterday's and today's workouts

Yesterday: Just my daily leg exercises and whatnot.

Today: Bike commute. Knee hurt, especially near the end of the ride home. I think I'll have to give up the bike for a while.

Then to the gym for an hour of Pilates.

Last week's workouts

Friday: Just some personal upheaving.

Saturday: Walked to Wash Park for an easy running loop, then walked home.

Sunday: To the gym for a 30-minute Pilates class. Then in the pool and swam 1100 meters (about 35 minutes). This was kind of a pain because the pool is tiny -- just three lanes -- and I had to share a lane with a very attractive lady. This might not seem like a bad thing, but at one point I was backstroking and accidentally put my hand on her thigh while she was swimming the opposite direction, which made me feel like a prevert. After the swim I lifted weights. Time 2:30.

Hours this week: 8.5
Hours this year: 201.75
Miles skated this week: 0
Miles this year: Skates 596, Bike 797

Thursday, May 7, 2009

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is becoming briefly obsessed with watching strings of highlight videos on YouTube of obscure sports, such as badminton (an absurdly entertaining game to watch), or team handball (shouldn't they shrink the size of that goal? Why bother having a goalie at all?), or, uh, inline speedskating.

Today's workout

I had to work late, so in the interest of catching up on sleep I decided to skip the gym and come straight home. Upon walking through the door, I immediately executed the Eighth Habit of Highly Effective People: staring at my Lexulous rack for 20 minutes until I found a bingo (TENACES for 67 points). I resolve to get to bed by 10:00, though.

I suppose I'll ride my bike to work in the morning -- I hope my knee doesn't hurt. Bike commuting is such an efficient way to get a workout that I hate to let it go.

Weighed in at 151 this morning, down 1 pound from last week.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is a lacrosse goalie making a save and then dashing the length of the field to score at the other end. The Awesome Plus is when the goalie makes this play not against some doormat, but in the NCAA tournament against lax powerhouse Syracuse. The Awesome Double Plus is when the goalie is Andrew Goldstein, a two-time All-American who is openly gay.

Today's workout

Walked to Wash Park, then ran an easy 2.5-mile loop and walked home. Then rode my bike to the yoga studio for a 90-minute class. This was my first level 1 class, and there were nine students -- six of which were guys. My knee felt fine for the run, but during the bike ride it felt weird and definitely ached afterward. I'm going to ice and massage it and skip the bike commute tomorrow. Grrr.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is putting away the winter gear, and the very real possibility that I might be able to sleep all night with the window open.

Today's workout

Bike commute... knee hurt a little, so I took it very easy. Then to the gym for an hour of Pilates.

Monday, May 4, 2009

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is playing bingos across triple-word scores. TECHNOS for 106, yo!

Today's workout

Day off, just some leg exercises.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is Supreme Court Justice David Souter, mostly for having the good sense to retire after George W. Bush left office -- why, Sandra Day O'Connor? Why??? -- but also for foregoing the debauched life of fast cars and easy sex that most retired jurists enjoy. Souter will retire to rural New Hampshire, to a house that could have been Ed Gein's summer home:



Happy retirement, Justice Souter!

Today's and yesterday's workout

Yesterday: To the gym for weights, stretching, core, and balance. I'm now doing bench presses with a lonely 2.5-pound weight on each side, which is somehow more embarrassing than an empty bar. Time 2:15.

Today: Potpourri day! 30-minute Pilates class. Then a 30-minute walk/run with April. Then a 30-minute swim (1000 meters), which went better than expected -- my freestyle is not nearly as bad as I thought (although it's still pretty bad). Then 15 minutes slow running on the treadmill, which I quit because my knee was feeling janky. Then I rode my bike a bit. Time 2:15.

On Wednesday I weighed in at 152, no change from last week.

Hours this week: 14.5
Hours this year: 193.25
Miles skated this week: 0
Miles this year: Skates 596, Bike 775

Friday, May 1, 2009

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is the Crunch Crisp, my new favorite candy bar. Remember those cheap candy bars that you used to get that had about 1,000 pink/vanilla/chocolate wafers in a huge plastic package? The Crunch Crisp is like that, but jacked full of steroids and blessed by Jesus. I ate all of the Crunch Crisp fun-size bars out of my boss' candy dish, so she bought me my own bag. Begone, foul temptress!

Today's workout

Bike commute, and that's it, except for some leg exercises which I'm doing every day to strengthen my quads, which should help my knee. That's good because my knee felt janky on my bike ride today -- grrrr...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is playing a game for Lexulous (read: fake Scrabble) against the daughter of the guy who used to manage your dad's sprout-growing business in Iowa. Witness the power of Facebook!

Today's workout

Went to the gym and did the FrameWorks strength & flexibility program. I got through all the exercises in 80 minutes this time, way down from 2 hours. Afterward I did some balance exercises and skipped rope for a few minutes -- the first time since my wrestling days at John Adams Middle School. Time 2:15.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Today's workout

Bike commute. That's all. Trying to get my ass to bed by 10:00.

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is the term “finding twine,” a sorely underused term -- just 262 hits on Google! -- for scoring a goal in a hockey game. I think Finding Twine will be the title of my ghostwritten autobiography, should I ever be an ex-pro hockey player.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome are finches. I was walking home from Wash Park last Saturday afternoon and stopped for several minutes to admire a pair of adorable black-and-white finches flitting from branch to branch, cheeping and cocking their heads this way and that. I watched, totally absorbed, as the smaller finch dropped to the side of the tree near a tiny knothole and disappeared inside, although I barely could have stuck my thumb in there. I briefly considered going to the pet store and buying a cage full of finches, until I remembered that it's cruel to keep birds in cages.

On a related note: do birds enjoy flying? Are they amazed that they can do it? Do they ever, while soaring above the treetops, think, "Holy shit! I'm flying!!!"

Today's and yesterday's workout

Yesterday: 1.5-hour yoga class. This was the last of the Basics classes, so the nice lady offered to let me buy 6 class coupons for the price of 5 if I paid that night. I had been debating whether or not to continue taking classes at this studio -- even if I go just once a week, it's more than $50 a month -- but the sales pitch worked and now I'm locked in for the next six weeks at least.

Today: Bike commute, then to the gym for an hour of Pilates. The thing about Pilates is that it's really easy... if you're doing it wrong. If you're doing it right, it's quite difficult, even excruciating at times. Tonight I concentrated on keeping my abs scooped and tight.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is this idea I have for a scene in a movie, where the main characters would visit some august institution -- think the U.S. Senate or the World Bank -- and all of the U.S. Senators and World Bankers would be buff guys in Speedos. This gag would achieve maximum hilarity if none of the characters mentioned it or even seemed to notice. In this movie's universe, it would be perfectly normal for an amendment to a transportation bill to be introduced by a musclebound man sporting a shaved and oiled chest and wearing a tiny bathing suit.

You might not agree that this would be comedy gold. But you have to admit that it would represent a quantum leap forward for fairness and equality in America. How often are buff guys in Speedos depicted positively in American films? They're always idiots and narcissists and douchebags who steal the hot girl from the nerdy protagonist. It's shameful that in the United States of America -- a nation that takes such pride in electing a black president, and has elected people of every race and religion, as well as atheists, gay people, and asshats -- a buff guy in a Speedo has never won election to any public office.

Today's workout

Rode my bike to the gym for a short stint on the elliptical and then a half-hour Pilates class. Then I rode home, walked to Wash Park and ran a slow 2.5 miles, then walked home. It was a beautiful sunny day and about 60 degrees, but I wore tights (which are actually long johns) the whole time to keep my knees and calves (sore from lifting yesterday) warm. My knees felt fine all day.

Hours this week: 13.75
Hours this year: 178.75
Miles skated this week: 0
Miles this year: Skates 596, Bike 701

Saturday, April 25, 2009

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is planting trees at Utah Park in Aurora with a pretty lady. Happy Arbor Day!

Today's and yesterday's workout

Yesterday: 22-mile bike commute. That's all.

Today: Went to the gym and did the full FrameWorks strength and stretching workout. Time 2:00. That time should come down as I learn the routine better. I've also been doing some isometric exercises to strengthen my quads, which I'm hoping will stabilize my bum knee.

Friday, April 24, 2009

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is April, who declined to lay up for herself treasures upon earth -- where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal -- and bought me a tube of face scrub that has solved my disgusting mustache dandruff problem. The face scrub contains an amazing active ingredient called "sand" that exfoliates the hell out of the dead skin under my mustache. Thanks to you, April, our long national nightmare is over.

(By the way, using face scrub -- instead of Lava soap, or 40-grit sandpaper -- to wash my face, and using the word "exfoliate" unironically, does not make me The Gay. The face scrub comes in a gunmetal-gray tube with a pine tree drawing on the front, so anybody can see that it's for manly men.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Today's workout

Day off. Went to a movie theater downtown to see the live This American Life show being simulcast from New York. I'm a big fan of This American Life, so it was neat to watch Ira Glass and his crew of zany-voiced spoken-word ninjas on stage, although probably not worth the $20 ticket.

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome are squirrels. They're the beauty pageant contestants of the rodent family.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Today's workout

Went to the gym for cardio, core, and the FrameWorks strength and stretching workout. I only got through half of the upper body exercises because I was checking the book a lot to make sure I was doing the lifts correctly. Time 2:00.

The FrameWorks guy recommends doing a single set of 12-15 reps with the lifts done v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y -- a four-count on the lift, a brief pause, then a four-count on the descent. The idea is develop strength across the entire range of motion, and to add emphasis to the negative lift, as compared to the way most people lift weights, which overemphasizes the bottom half of the lift up to the sticking point. This makes sense, but lifting so slowly (combined with my weak upper body) means that I have to use embarrassingly light weights. I could only do 10 reps on the bench press with a naked 45-pound bar, and for the lateral raises I had to use 5-pound dumbbells. I'm used to being the runt of the weight room, but tonight I found myself muttering, "There's not one of you steakheads who can run 50 miles or skate 24 hours" even more than usual.

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome are* these phone and fax numbers I got from an accounts payable clerk today:

(419) xxx -8756 and (419) xxx-7963

Can you figure out why? I'll put the answer in the comments.

EXPLANATORY NOTE FOR CANADIAN READERS: In the American English dialect, "The Awesome" is its own plural, like "moose" and "shitmoose."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Today's workout

Bike commute, then to the gym for an hour of Pilates, which was hard, because Pilates is hard -- I am constantly cursing myself for failing to scoop my abs. But it is oh so good for me.

Then I came home and polished off a dark chocolate Easter bunny -- for the antioxidants, of course; chocolate makes me want to vomit -- while watching a swimming instructional DVD. For the sake of balance and all-around fitness, I want to add swimming to my workout matrix/rubric/schema/conspiracy, but sadly, I'm a terrible swimmer: my freestyle stroke is an awful display of thrashing and gasping and craning my neck to make sure I don't run into the wall. I've looked into swimming lessons, but for adults the only option seems to be private lessons, which are too expensive.

Weighed in at 152 this morning, down 1 pound from last week.

WHAT I LIKE TODAY: Your daily dose of The Awesome

Today The Awesome is that the word “anal” has become perfectly acceptable to use in polite conversation -- as long as you hide it in the phrase “anal retentive,” much like concealing your dog’s worm pill in a bit of ground beef. People who would never refer to their penis or vulva in front of casual acquaintances, or even say “I have a carbuncle on my anus,” nevertheless feel perfectly comfortable saying, “I have to have my picture frames perfectly level. I’m so anal!” Sweet.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Today's workout

Bike commute. Then I rode to the yoga studio for a 90-minute class. Time 3:15.

Yoga is going pretty well. Even though the poses we're doing don't look terribly difficult, for me they are quite challenging. Typically we assume some position and then go through steps of aligning and lengthening our bodies, with each pose held longer than in other yoga classes I've taken. It's hard to believe that standing straight with my hands in the air can be so taxing!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Today's workout

Went for a half-hour run/walk for April, as we are preparing to run legs on a marathon relay team in four weeks. My knee felt a little janky, but didn't hurt much. Later I did 15 minutes of balance exercises -- which mostly means trying to stand on one foot with my eyes closed and my hands behind my back, with my other foot raised to knee level. I can usually hold this for 30 seconds at best before pitching to the side like a drunken stork. I'm surprised at how lousy my balance is given that my primary sport is skating, which would seem to require good balance.

Hours this week: 8?
Hours this year: 165
Miles skated this week: 0
Miles this year: Skates 596, Bike 624

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Another announcement

After a great deal of thought, I have decided to postpone my world record attempt until next summer.

Primarily I made this decision because I don't believe that my body (and especially my left knee) can tolerate the strain of training for the world record this summer. A lifetime of imbalanced training has left me with an imbalanced body -- strong in many areas, but too weak and inflexible in others. I'm afraid that pushing forward with this year's training schedule as planned will break one of these weak links, either forcing me into a lengthy recovery or compromising my performance on race day, as happened last year.

With this in mind, I plan to spend the rest of this year researching injury prevention and using this knowledge to build a strong, flexible, balanced, and resilient body that can handle the hundreds of hours -- and thousands of miles of skating -- that I'll need to log to break the world record. I'm also looking forward to attending another Eddy Matzger seminar and working on my form and technique, which is the weakest part of my skating.

Additionally, I've been considering some new ideas regarding the character of the world record attempt. Originally I had intended to make an unofficial, cheap-skate, plain-jane attempt that would consist of me skating laps at Denver's Washington Park one summer weekend (you can read about my reasons for wanting to do an informal attempt here). However, with time I have realized that this is a bad idea, for a number of reasons: the city denied my request for permission to skate overnight; the typical weekend Wash Park traffic of pedestrians, cyclists, dogs, and kids on tricycles hinders me considerably; and Wash Park has hills, as well as sprinklers that soak the course at night with reeking pond water.

So I'm now looking for a closed, flat course where I can set an official Guinness World Record. I'm also considering organizing an event with multiple skaters vying for the world record over the same 24 hours, and combining all of this with a charity fundraiser. All of this will require a lot of energy and time to plan, which is why I'm starting now. I will be posting details as the picture becomes clearer.

I'm a little disappointed to be postponing an event that I've been looking forward to for more than two years, but mostly I'm happy that with the extra time I will be able to organize an exciting event, and most of all that I'll be able to give the world record my best possible effort. I wish good fortune to Philippe Coussy with his own world record attempt this fall, and I look forward to hearing about his result. Godspeed, mon ami!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An announcement

So. I haven't posted What I Hate Today for a couple of days because I've decided to stop doing it. I have a lot of important stuff to post regarding the world record attempt, and I haven't gotten around to posting it because I've been obsessed with babbling, every day, about my disdain for sauerkraut, or guys who surreptitiously flex their abs while removing their shirts in the gym locker room, or the number 8.

More importantly, I'm quitting WIHT because the negativity of dwelling on what I dislike in life -- every day -- has started to weigh on my soul. I've even been carrying around a little notebook so that when I think of something I hate, I can write it down and post it as a WIHT item later. Which reminds me of something I read a while back: apparently multiple studies in the field of positive psychology have demonstrated that people who spend time every day writing down, and thinking about, the things they are thankful for in life, tend to grow happier over time. If that's true, what would happen to the happiness of a man who spent time every day writing down, and thinking about, the things he hates?

So I'm going to spend the rest of week posting new information about the world record attempt, and then I hope to get around to some other kind of daily non-WR-related posting, maybe What I Love Today or some such. It will be interesting to see if it's harder to make funnies while writing about The Awesome.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate getting tamarind paste out of my mesh strainer.

Friday, April 10, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Positive Friday!

Today I love Philippe Petit, the Frenchman who in 1974 sneaked into the just-constructed World Trade Center in New York City, strung a 450-pound wire between the Twin Towers, and spent 45 minutes walking more than 1,350 feet above the ground. During that time he completed at least six crossings, taunted the policemen waiting on each tower to arrest him, sat down and stared into the void, and even reclined on the wire and conversed with a seagull. Surely it was for this man that the French coined their word panache.

Philippe’s story is told in Man on Wire, a documentary that recounts, in film noir style, the details of his outrageous caper. The movie reveals Petit to be an utterly charming man, a red-haired imp bursting with joie de vivre and total confidence in his talent. As I watched him walk across the sky, I found myself identifying with his quest for the impossible, and with his desire to create something beautiful and fantastic. I will be thinking about M. Petit often as I pursue my own quest (a pursuit, coincidentally enough, in which my rival is a red-haired Frenchman named Philippe).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate Americans who refer to soccer -- while speaking to other Americans -- as "football," a pure affectation born from a desire to appear European and sophisticated. For bonus points, some of these people pretend that because they spent a few months studying abroad in London or Madrid, they have actually forgotten that Americans call the sport "soccer."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate my retardo phone. You see, I've learned the hard way that if you rub its little phoneclit (also known as the "on” key) for a few seconds, it will get very excited and have a little phonegasm (also known as “calling 911”). I don't do this on purpose, of course, but due to the complicated physics properties of my left pants pockets,* it happens every so often by accident. I know when it happens because I get a call back from the Denver Police Department, which I do not answer.

Right now you are saying, "Hey, why don't you lock your phone's keypad?" Ha ha, I am way ahead of you! I do lock the keypad, of course, but the phonegasm function works even when the keypad is locked. Which would seem to defeat the purpose of locking the keypad. But what does a Harvard dropout like me know?

*
Or occasionally when I'm enjoying some frottage on the C train.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate Harvard University,* which keeps sending me alumni fundraising letters and leaving voicemails asking for money. Hey, Harvard -- you are aware that I didn't graduate, right? Don't you think it would be a good idea to keep lists of such things? But, while we're on the topic, I'll offer you a deal: I send you a few lousy bucks to add to your bloated $28.8 billion endowment, and you send me a diploma. Whaddya say?



*EXPLANATORY NOTE FOR CANADIAN READERS: Harvard is America's McGill.

Today's workout

Played three games of racquetball with Rain, time 1:30. Knee felt a little janky but not too bad. My left groin was a little sore after yesterday's yoga class.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Today's workout

Went to my first Iyengar yoga class, 1.5 hours. I learned that Sanskrit is hard to understand, and that I must slouch a lot because it hurts to keep my back straight. This is the first of four basic classes, so it was pretty light. I'm looking forward to more classes.

Weighed in at 154 this morning, up 3 pounds from two weeks ago. No great surprise given the combination of gluttony and sloth I've been enjoying.

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate the flaking skin on my upper lip under my mustache, which would be pretty disgusting if it wasn’t rendered nearly invisible by my mustache. I didn’t have this problem before I grew facial hair -- why does having a mustache cause my skin to flake? I suppose I could use some kind of lotion or ointment, but to apply it I would have to shave my mustache, in which case my skin wouldn’t flake and the lotion or ointment would become unnecessary. Excuse me while I formulate this problem into a submission to Dermatology Koans Weekly Digest.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy (March Madness Edition!)

Today I hate free throws. In other sports, penalties and fouls create exciting situations: power plays in hockey, yardage gained or lost in football, penalty kicks in soccer. In basketball, however, a foul causes the action to stop completely for a very boring ritual involving nine talented athletes standing around while one guy, unopposed, shoots a couple of leisurely baskets. This happens two dozen times or so each game, and if the game is close at the end -- that is, if one team is ahead by less than 10 points -- it will happen every other possession, causing the last two minutes of game time to drag for 35 minutes in real time. Yawn.

Today's workout

Nothing. Going to a yoga class tomorrow, though.

Hours this week: 0
Hours this year: 151.5
Miles skated this week: 0
Miles this year: Skates 594, Bike 583

Saturday, April 4, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate lima beans. I guess. I don't think I've eaten a lima bean in 20 years, but as I remember they are quite disgusting.

Friday, April 3, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Positive Friday!

Today I love the Canadian flag. I love its elegant design: the national symbol rendered in red, on a white background, with red bars on either side. And that’s all. It’s spare without being too simple -- compare to the indistinguishable jumble of cross-on-a-background and nothing-but-stripes flags you see in Europe. The Canadian flag’s colors are basic and you can recognize it immediately. It’s a clean, square-jawed, common-sense kind of flag, which is my impression of the Canadian people themselves.

From a design standpoint (that is, nothing to do with politics or national pride) I like the Canadian flag better than the US flag. The Stars and Stripes is not a bad design, but for my taste it is a bit busy and overly freighted with symbolism -- 50 stars for the 50 states! Thirteen stripes for the 13 colonies! The red represents the blood spilled in the Revolution! Et cetera! Remember when you were a kid trying to draw the American flag, and you couldn’t get all the stripes the right width, or get all fifty stars in the blue field, let alone in the right pattern? But I bet Canadian kids can draw their flag, albeit with lopsided maple leaves.

In defense of Old Glory, I will say that it beats out the Mexican flag, which has nice colors, but I can’t stand the cluttery coat of arms in the middle.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate when I'm eating something fairly mild -- a Chipotle burrito, say, or a slice of spinach feta bread from Great Harvest Bread Co. -- when I bite directly onto a stray pepper seed or a speck of peppercorn, releasing a unexpected and unwelcome burst of bitter heat, causing my face to pucker like a kindergartner tasting his first lima bean.

Today's workout

Nothing really. Looked into swimming lessons.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Today's workout

Browsed the fitness books again after work, and picked up a tome named FrameWork, which -- despite the obnoxious CamelCased title -- seems to be just what I need: a comprehensive program of injury prevention for athletes through improving flexibility, core strength, diet, rest and recovery, etc. I'm looking forward to cracking it open tomorrow.

Also, at the urging of my yoga-ninja sister, I registered for a series of basics classes at a nearby Iyengar yoga center, to start on Monday.

I am enjoying my down time but I do need some physical activity -- the lack of stress relief has brought the usual headaches and tinnitus, plus I keep catching myself clenching my teeth. I hope I'm not grinding them in my sleep. I also have to force myself not to hunch over the steering wheel when I drive. Stress is weird.

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate this copy on a McDonald’s bag: “Every single egg we use throughout the year is individually inspected -- all 3 billion of them.”

McDonald’s, of course, wanted me to read this claim and imagine an eagle-eyed inspector in a sterile lab coat --I envision him wearing a monocle and speaking in a German accent -- exhaustively examining each egg and rejecting specimens that fail to meet McDonalds’s stringent standards. But how is anything like that possible? Even if an egg inspector can average 1 inspection per second (for 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, without going insane), McDonald’s would need more than 400 inspectors to meet the demand. My guess is that McDonald’s egg inspection process consists of bored employees trying not to fall asleep while crates of eggs on conveyor belts whoosh past.

And how do you inspect an egg, anyway? The part we eat is inside the shell, right? Maybe the inspectors look for broken eggs, and then inspect the contents. “Hey, this egg is perfect! Too bad we can’t use it, because the shell is broken.”

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate Starbucks pastries, which look sumptuous in the display case but, upon purchasing, turn out to be dull and tasteless, as though Starbucks carefully zapped each scone and croissant with a Deliciousness Cancellation Ray.

My greatest disappointment came a while back when I bought a chocolate old-fashioned doughnut and rammed it into my face with gluttonous intent, only to find it dry and bland. How do you fuck up an old-fashioned doughnut? Hy-Vee and King Soopers make delicious OFDs, full of greasy chewy crunchy sugary goodness, but the world's biggest coffee retailer can't manage the feat? Or figure out how to buy pastries from someone who can?

Today's workout

Went to a couple of bookstores to read about injury prevention, stretching, knee rehab, and such cheerful topics. Cracked a smile looking at The Russian Kettlebell Challenge: Xtreme Fitness for Hard Living Comrades by hirsute yet balding strongman Pavel Tsatsouline ("Master of Sports," which is apparently a real title in Russia). You owe it to yourself to look at the cover of his book.

Monday, March 30, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate when my employer starts blocking Facebook. Facebook, for chrissake... that's like blocking YouTube, or Hot Chicks with Douchebags, or PornHub! Tomorrow I'm sending an angry e-mail to the IS department demanding that employees be allowed to visit Facebook because... erm... because the productivity... uh... job satisfaction... maybe I better sleep on this.

Today's workout, also yesterday's, and the day before

Nothing. Yeesh, I feel lazy. Gotta get back at it. Tomorrow. Or the next day.

Hours this week: 3
Hours this year: 151.5
Miles skated this week: 0
Miles this year: Skates 594, Bike 583

Sunday, March 29, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy (March Madness Edition!)

Today I hate the term "Elite Eight," as used to name the round of the NCAA basketball tournament between the Sweet Sixteen and the Final Four. Am I the only person to notice that, even though "Elite" and "Eight" start with the same letter, they don't start with the same sound? The name smacks of desperation -- one imagines dull-witted journalists combing the "E" section of the dictionary to find a superlative to go with "Eight." Can't we just call the third round the Quarterfinals, or -- as The New York Times renders it -- the Round of Eight?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate the phrase "first off," as in "Billy asked me to the prom, and I said, 'first off, I don't date pedophiles."

I don't know why I dislike this phrase. Maybe because nobody ever says, "Second off," or "third off."

Friday, March 27, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Positive Friday!

Today I love that when a hockey player gets called for a penalty, it's not enough that he has to leave the ice for two minutes -- he actually has to sit alone in a little box, apart from the other players, without any comic books or crossword puzzles, and think about what he did.

Also, I love Albi the Racist Dragon. Har!

Today's workout

Nuttin', honey. Went to the Avs game and watched them lose to the Canucks. Boo.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate when I tell someone that I'm training for a 24-hour race, and they say, "Oh... so... is that... is it to raise money for charity?" No, I explain patiently, it's an athletic competition, not the Avon Walk. (Not that there's anything wrong with the Avon Walk. But what I'm doing is quite different.)

Now, as it happens, my world record attempt probably will raise money for charity, just like most races. The Boston Marathon, for example, raises money for several charities, including Habitat for Humanity and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. But if I said I was training for the Boston Marathon, nobody would ask if I was doing it as a fundraiser, would they?

Today's workout

Nothing. I got out of work at noon due to a snowstorm, and I've spent my afternoon in sweat pants and Mammoth jersey, puttering about doing household chores and watching movies ("Death of a President" is a surprisingly complex film). I've decided to spend this week resting (read: pouting and eating garbage) and next week it's back to the action, Jackson.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Today's workout

22-mile bike commute. The morning ride was fine, but on the ride home I had to gear down to avoid pain in my knee. The pain was very minor, but at that low power output I shouldn't have any pain at all. I had been planning to go the gym for a yoga class or a core workout, but my aching knee and the chilly weather put me in a bad mood, so I came home instead.

My knee is not badly injured. I barely notice it during my daily routine, and during most skating workouts it's more annoying than genuinely painful or debilitating. Sometimes I feel like a wuss for breaking training for something that seems so minor. But I've been an endurance athlete for most of my life, and I have to trust my instinct when it tells me that, in its current condition, my knee can't handle four more months of vigorous training, including long skates of up to 10 hours.

I hate being injured. I hate not knowing how much time my knee will need to heal, and how it will affect my world record attempt. I hate missing out on the sense of accomplishment and progress that regular workouts bring. My body has become accustomed to massive quantities of exercise, and without my fix of physical exertion, I get headaches and tinnitus from unrelieved stress. And when I'm feeling depressed and adrift, I eat junk food to make myself feel better, a tactic that works wonderfully for as long as 8 seconds.

I'm trying not to get too down about this, because in the universe of possible problems this is a small one to have. I'm thinking positively about solutions. I'm trying to learn a lesson about letting go of attachment to silly achievements. I'm trying.

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate that I was going to write a post about how much I hate the ads on Facebook,* and then today on Facebook there’s an ad for “This American Life Live,” which I totally want to see, so I clicked on the ad. Dammit.

*I don’t mind that there are ads on Facebook, as long as Facebook remains free. But I hate the particular ads on Facebook -- it’s one of the most popular sites on the internet, and the best advertisers they can get are cheesy dating sites and “get your stimulus check” scams? It’s like watching the ads on daytime cable TV. Pretty soon FB will be running ads for shady personal-injury law firms.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Today's workout

22-mile bike commute. Took it easy and my knee mostly felt okay, although my right quad felt a little sore after the morning ride. I tried the patellar strap for the evening ride and removed it before I went far -- it was uncomfortable and my knee hurt a little with it on.

Weighed in at 151 this morning, down 1 pound from two weeks ago, and no change from last week.

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy (Opposite Edition!)

Today I love Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace -- the first computer programmer. Did you know that the first computer programmer was a woman? Today is Ada Lovelace Day, when I and 1,620 other people have pledged to blog about the achievements of this brilliant scientist, or at least to link to her Wikipedia page. While you're there, why not also read about Marie Curie, Grace Hopper, and Barbara McClintock? Then, go make your daughter do some algebra problems.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Today's workout

What workout? Monday is my day off, except when it's not.

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate that all countries use the Roman alphabet, and sometimes even the English version of their countries’ names, on their national sports teams’ jerseys for the Olympics, or the World Cup, or other international competitions. I noticed this again last night while watching the USA-Japan game at the World Baseball Classic. How cool would it have been if the Japanese players had been wearing jerseys with their nation’s name spelled out in… oh, I don’t know… Japanese? Instead the jerseys said “Japan”* (although I noticed that the McDonald’s ad on the sides of their helmets was in Japanese).

How would we like it if America’s national teams played in jerseys that said “EEUU” or something unintelligible (to us) in Arabic or Korean lettering? The only national team I know of that ignores the Roman alphabet is Russia’s hockey team, which follows the tradition of the Soviet Union’s terrifying “CCCP” jerseys by rendering its nation’s name in Cyrillic calligraphy. Is it any coincidence that
the resulting jersey is super-sweet?

*Oddly enough, it seems that Japanese baseball teams, playing each other in Japanese baseball leagues, use English names and Roman lettering on their uniforms.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Today's and yesterday's workout, and also the day before

Friday and Saturday: I rested.

Today: Rode my bike to the gym for leg strength, core strength, balance, and stretching. Time 1:30.

I get occasional twinges in my left knee, but if I stay in low gears on the bike it feels fine.
I picked up a patellar ligament strap -- according to the reading I've done, this eliminates pain for some people. I wore it while riding my bike today but it's hard to tell if it's doing any good.

Unfortunately, it now feels like I've slightly strained a muscle in my right quad. I'm going to take this next week even easier then this week -- no leg strength, just easy bike commuting and stretching and balance exercises along with core exercises and maybe some yoga. I've been thinking a lot about what this all means for my record attempt and I'm hoping to post something about that in the next few days.

Hours this week: 5

Hours this year: 148.5
Miles skated this week: 6
Miles this year: Skates 594, Bike 536

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy (At Least It's Right Twice A Day Edition, Part the Fourth)

Today I hate this clock in front of a fly-fishing shop on 6th Avenue, which like its brothers has been sentenced by an apathetic owner to display the wrong time in perpetuity, in this case 6:01:30. So very cruel and sad.



This photo taken at 3:37. As far as you know.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate the green tea latte at Starbucks, which comes in an alarming bright green color and somehow tastes like fish. How is it possible to combine green tea and milk to produce a fishy flavor? I took two sips and dumped the stuff in disgust -- I could have sworn they blended a sardine into the thing.

Friday, March 20, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy (March Madness edition!)

Today I hate most scoring systems for March Madness pools, which usually work something like this: 10 points for first-round winners, 20 points for the second round, 30 points for the third round, etc. Why not divide out the 10 -- the greatest common divisor, yo -- and award 1 point, 2 points, 3 points, and so on?

Or maybe basketball itself should copy the pools and start counting 20 points for field goals, 10 points for free throws, and 30 points for long-range field goals. How thrilling it will be when Connecticut beats Gonzaga 770-680 in the title game, with Stanley Robinson scoring 350 points for the Huskies!

I think I’ll start a March Madness pool that scores 17.718 points in the first round, 35.436 points in the second round, 53.154 points in the third round… stop me when this becomes hilarious…

WIHT BONUS!
I’m learning to play Bridge, which suffers from the same problem: 30 points for tricks in Spades and Hearts, 20 points for tricks in Clubs and Diamonds, 40 points or 30 points for No Trump tricks, bonuses of 700 or 500 points… divide out the 10, dammit!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Today's workout

To the gym for leg strength, core strength, stretching, and balance. I've eliminated jumping exercises (they can aggravate the kind of knee pain I'm having) and added leg extensions where I lower the weight slowly (this develops the VMO quad muscle, which some people think can stabilize the knee). Time 1:30.

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate this copy on the back of the Altoids Smalls tin: “35% FEWER CALORIES THAN OUR REGULAR MINTS. CALORIE CONTENT HAS BEEN REDUCED FROM 0.8 TO 0.5 CALORIES PER 0.2g OF MINTS.”

This is too obvious to bother typing out, but anybody trying to lose weight by saving 0.3 calories per breath mint has a long row to hoe. A long and very stupid row.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate being injured. More tomorrow.

Today's workout

Skated a couple of slow laps at the park. The idea was to find out if I could skate slowly without my knee hurting. The answer is no.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate soccer jerseys that would be totally cool if they didn't have a huge corporate logo pasted smack in the middle of the chest. Check out this Arsenal jersey, for example: not only is Arsenal a sweet name for a team, but the cannon logo is very classy. Too bad it's relegated to a tiny crest over the left titty, its coolness overshadowed by the enormous "Fly Emirates" slogan that dominates the design.

Today's workout

22-mile bike commute. Did some reading on the interwebs about patellar tendonitis.

Monday, March 16, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate Trader Joe’s, for not existing in Colorado. Actually, I don’t believe that Trader Joe’s exists at all. It’s some sort of grocery store masturbation fantasy for coastal dwellers, combined with a bizarre plot to make those of us in flyover country feel like drooling troglodytes for shopping at Whole Foods, where a quart of spicy guac costs $22.50.

Today's and yesterday's workout

Yesterday: Skated 74.0 miles in 5:00:00 (14.8 mph), HR 74%, temp 60-65. The weather was perfect for skating, and the first 3 hours passed easily. But along the way my left knee stiffened and ached slightly, both quads felt tight just above my knees, and a spot in my right upper/inner thigh flared each time I planted my right foot. My heart rate started to climb as I tried to maintain 15 mph. Nothing hurt enough to cut the skate short, but with an hour to go I let up on the throttle to avoid getting hurt.

I’m going to take it easy and recover this week. I’m ahead of last year in terms of both distance and speed, and there’s no reason to risk an injury that could set me back weeks.

Numbers:
Calories: 1250 (250 cal/hr)
Fluid: 2600 ml (520 ml/hr), took 1 potty break
Weight: lost 1 pound, which is fine

Hours this week: 16.25

Hours this year: 143.5
Miles skated this week: 121
Miles this year: Skates 586, Bike 502

Today: What workout? Monday is my day off, except when it’s not.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate when I'm telling someone about a funny scene in a movie, or a funny skit from a sketch comedy show, or about something funny that I read the other day, and halfway through I can tell that I'm completely failing to communicate the hilarity of the funny that I witnessed, but I blunder ahead anyway. This always ends with an awkward pause and an exchange like this:

Friend: "Yeah... that sounds funny."

Me: "I guess you had to be there."

Why do I bother trying to explain other people's funnies? It's utterly futile.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate Jim Cramer. Not for the reasons everyone is talking about. But because he rolls up his sleeves like that.

Today's workout

Rode my bike to the gym for plyos and core strength. Then skated 16.9 miles in 1:07:02 (15.1 mph), HR 72%, temp 60.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Today's workout

22-mile bike commute. My legs felt kind of trashy so I took it easy.

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy (At Least It’s Right Twice A Day Edition, Part the Third)

Today I hate this clock in front of a yoga studio on South Broadway, which like its brothers has been sentenced by an apathetic owner to display the wrong time in perpetuity. So very sad. And what the hell is “Kawai Time”? There’s a piano company called Kawai, so maybe this building used to be a Kawai store? If so, how good can their pianos be if they can’t make their public clock tell the correct time, or even display the correct number of hands?


This photo taken at 6:38, as far as you know.


The north face of the clock can’t even be right twice a day!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy (SarahPAC edition!)

Today I get to hate Sarah Palin again, because SarahPAC sent me a money-grubbing email! Disappointingly, I only found two errors ("low taxes" is misspelled as "law taxes," and the email ends with "Sincerely" but is not followed by a name). But it feels so, so good to hate Sarah Palin again.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate when I bite my lip or tongue while I'm chewing. Good to know that I've owned this mouth for 35 years and still haven't figured out how to use it yet.

Today's workout

Chilly tonight, so I put on the K2 Rads and skated 24.75 miles in 1:49:46 (13.5 mph), HR 69%, temp 42-37. It was pretty much a friggin' chore -- the only good part was the huge orange moon rising over the park. I'm hotly anticipating the arrival of the permanent warm weather, but that's another 4-6 weeks away.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate driving the day after a snowfall, when the streets are wet and the trucks throw a dirty spray of melted snow onto my windshield, which steadily dries into an opaque crust of road filth. On a possibly related note, I also hate my crappy windshield wipers, my crappy wiper fluid sprayer that overshoots my windshield, and the fact that I'm too lazy to do anything about either problem.

Today's workout

Snow on the streets this morning, so no bike commute. Went to the gym for leg strength and core strength, time 1:45.

Monday, March 9, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate when I'm folding laundry or putting on a sweater while listening to my iPod, and the static electricity travels up the wire and shocks my ears. This just seems unfair somehow.

Today's workout

What workout? Monday is my day off, except when it's not.

I weighed in at 152 this morning, down 2 pounds from last week. Huzzah!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Today's workout

Skated 61.7 miles in 4:02:25 (15.3 mph), HR 73%, temp 57-65. A great skate on a great day for skating! My left knee was muttering a little bit but not actually hurting -- I'll continue to put ice on it. My neck and lower back have been hurting more than usual on these long skates as I have been getting lower for longer (at least I hope so). Another highly encouraging skate as I continue to build my endurance base.

Mon ami Philippe Coussy, c
hasseur de records mondiaux d'endurance à roller, today posted a long skate of 54.5 miles in 3:40:47 (14.8 mph), HR 72%. Bravo, Philippe!

Hours this week: 15.5
Hours this year: 127.25
Miles skated this week: 112
Miles this year: Skates 465, Bike 463

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate buying avocados. At the store they’re either bright green and hard as golf balls, or they’re black sacks of rotten mush. The unripe ones soften up in a day or two, but sometimes you want guacamole right now, doncha know?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Yesterday's and today's workouts

Yesterday: Day off! Had a delicious dinner at Table 6, which included almond-encrusted tater tots and cheesesteak sliders as appetizers, and a locally-made white wine called Infinite Monkey Theorem, which was quite good.

Today: It was a bit chilly, so I put on the Rad 100s and skated 18 miles in 1:17:25 (14.0 mph), HR 73%, temp 39. Then I rode my bike to the gym for leg strength and core strength. Time 3:15.

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate that the cheap saucepan I bought at Target had a sticker glued to the bottom:



The sticker actually came off more easily than it looks in the photo, but only with a few maddening minutes of careful peeling and fingernail-picking. What kind of dumbfuckery is this? Are saucepan manufacturers unaware that proper use of a saucepan involves heating from the bottom, and that an flammable object glued to said bottom might hinder the saucepan’s usefulness? Was there no other way to convey the vital information printed on the sticker?

Friday, March 6, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate businesses that don’t have voicemail. Isn’t this a known technology? I have voicemail at my house, for dog’s sake. Leaving a message with a receptionist makes me feel like I’ve time-warped back to 1955, with a secretary wearing cat’s-eye glasses and a beehive hairdo laboriously misspelling my name on a pink message slip with “WHILE YOU WERE OUT” printed at the top (and the “Not Important” box checked).

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Today's workout

22-mile bike commute. Then to the gym for leg strength and core strength. Time 3:00.

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate Boston terriers. They’re ill-tempered, ugly, bug-eyed, bullet-shaped little monsters.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate when people -- or, at any rate, their email applications -- delete previous emails when sending replies. I suppose they think they’re reducing clutter, but sometimes those previous emails contained important information, and anyhow there’s something oddly Stalinesque/Ministry-of-Truth-ish about erasing the past that way.

Today's workout

Skated 27 miles in 1:45:12 (15.4 mph), HR 70%, temp 66. My left knee felt a little odd but didn't hurt, which was a relief. I will continue to ice it though.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate horror movies that, instead of going to all the hard work of creating an atmosphere of genuine suspense and creepiness, rely on the lazy technique of showing something semi-scary and then jolting the viewer with a piercing shriek on the soundtrack. This happens in too many bad horror movies to name (and a few good ones, like The Ring) but it came to mind last night as I was watching a trailer for The Haunting in Connecticut, which looks like a garden-variety haunted house movie. Watch the trailer and ask yourself: is what you’re seeing actually scary, or just startling? Admittedly, Haunting does look like it has some creepy scenes -- they’re the ones that are still scary with the sound off. This is part of my general gripe that music and sound design get wielded like a sledgehammer in too many movies. The Blair Witch Project was one of the best horror movies I’ve ever seen, and it only used natural sound.

On a related note, why don’t the people in haunted house movies just move? If you moved into a house and found that the walls were leaking deadly gases, you would move, wouldn’t you? But when movie characters move into a house built on an ancient Indian burial ground and filled with malevolent spirits bent on dragging them into Hell… meh, let's stick it out, we don't want to lose our down payment, after all...

Today's workout

22-mile bike commute. Then to the gym for leg strength and core strength. Time 3:00.

I got an comment on my blog today from mon ami Philippe Coussy, winner of last year's 24-hour solo events at Le Mans and Montreal, and holder of the (unofficial) world record for 24 hours with drafting (~356 miles). He wished me luck with my world record attempt and said that, this September in France, he also will be making an attempt on the 24-hour time trial WR.

This is exciting news. Philippe is a very strong ultradistance skater and a worthy adversary in my quest to become the world's best 24-hour skater. I will be making my WR attempt in July or August, and now my goal has to be not only to break Mauro Guenci's record, but to put the record out of the reach of M. Coussy. I e-mailed Philippe to wish him luck, and I'm looking forward to following his training progress on his blog. What fantastic motivation for me!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Today's workout

What workout? Monday is my day off, except when it's not.

I'm a little worried about my left knee, specifically the tissue that connects the bottom of the kneecap to the lower leg bone (the patellar ligament). I strained that ligament during last year's 24-hour race in Montreal. It hurt during yesterday's long skate -- not very much, but enough to make me wonder if it will become a problem. It ached a little today so I've been applying ice and taking ibuprofen.

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate that there are no major sports teams -- that is: MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL -- nicknamed the Dragons. I can’t even think of a big-time college team called the Dragons. The only Dragons team I can think of is the San Francisco Dragons, a Major League Lacrosse franchise that folded last year. How is this possible? What mascot could be cooler than a serpentine, fire-spewing dragon? The jerseys would be The Awesome!

While I’m at it, why the shortage of sports teams named after mythical creatures of any species? I can think of these offhand: NY Giants, SF Giants, Tennessee Titans, LA Angels, NJ Devils, Washington Wizards… and that’s it. Did we really need for the NBA’s newest team to take the bo-ring name Bobcats, or for the transplanted Sonics to take the idiotic singular name Thunder, when there are names available like the Cyclops, the Centaurs, the Griffins, the Ghosts, the Phantoms, and the Monsters? Women’s teams could be the Medusas (really the Gorgons, I guess), the Furies, or the Sirens. C’mon, marketing departments of major league sports franchises -- how about some creativity?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate people who walk their dogs while riding their bikes. These people always look ridiculous -- they have to ride their bikes painfully slow, which is still usually too fast for the dogs, who have to pant and strain to keep up. Why not walk while walking your dog? It's egalitarian, it's fun for everyone, and there's less chance of suffering a case of road rash because your dog saw a squirrel.

For some reason this reminds me of something very sad I saw once at Wash Park: a tiny dog, maybe a Chihuahua, that had somehow lost both of its hind legs and had been fitted with a sort of harness on wheels. The poor little guy was churning his front legs like crazy, but the wheels didn't turn very well, and his tongue was hanging out as he exerted himself to make very slow progress. Meanwhile, his owner -- a chubby lady who probably spends a week in bed if she gets a hangnail -- was walking about 100 feet ahead of her dog, and kept hectoring him in an impatient tone: "Come on, Zippy! Catch up! C'mon, now!" Hey, let's lop off one of your legs and see how fast you get around.

For some reason this reminds me of a conversation I had the other day at a housewarming party, in which both Chihuahuas and dogfighting were mentioned separately. It occurred to me that Chihuahua dogfighting would be The Awesome. By which I mean that it would be a cruel and inhumane practice that any sensible and decent person should condemn. I'm just saying that if someone invited me to a Chihuahua dogfight, I would have to pause a moment before saying, "Obviously not."

BONUS WIHT! Today I also hate the word "Chihuahua," which I could not type correctly in this post.

Today's workout

Today I went for my first long skate of the season: 46 miles in 3:02:02 (15.2 mph), HR 72%, temp 55. Great weather today! I thought I would sail through this skate, and although it went quite well it was a little tougher than I expected. My body (especially my feet) has to reacquaint itself with the long miles, and I have to build up the mental endurance again -- even with an iPod full of podcasts I kept thinking, "Yeesh, am I done yet?" Still I am very happy to be skating this fast this early in the season.

Hours this week: 14.5
Hours this year: 111.75
Miles skated this week: 100
Miles this year: Skates 353, Bike 407

Saturday, February 28, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate when I introduce myself to someone and ask for their name, then don't listen to the answer. I have more to say on this but April and I have to catch the 9:15 showing of Waltz with Bashir.

Today's and yesterday's workout

Yesterday: No workout! Friday will be a day off in this training phase.

Today: Rode my bike to the gym for leg strength and core strength. Then I skated 20.25 miles in 1:20:22 (15.1 mph), HR 70%, temp 46. My legs were kind of toasted from the strength workout but still a good skate. Time 3:15.

Friday, February 27, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate when people stop by my cubicle to make disparaging remarks about my teacup. I drink a lot of tea, so my teacup gets pretty narsty-looking pretty fast. But I'm too lazy to clean it, and anyway who cares? That stuff is just tea residue -- it's not like it's herpes fungus* or something.



*Explanatory note for Canadian readers: This is an example of the American humor technique known as "making shit up." Herpes is not actually a fungus -- it is a tiny catfish native to the Amazon River that can lodge itself in the urethra of unsuspecting swimmers, locking itself in place with its spines. It can only be removed with surgery.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Today's workout

22-mile bike commute. Then to the gym for leg strength and core strength. A slow bike ride home as my legs were toasted. Time 3:00.

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate when I’m writing a post about how I hate my crappy Fujifilm FinePix J10 digital camera for suddenly refusing to autofocus on anything, and then it suddenly starts autofocusing just fine. Which is actually a good thing, but now I have to start a new post about how I hate something else. Unless I decide to go all meta with this post. Which I might.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Today's workout

Skated 28.1 miles in 1:49:13 (15.4 mph), HR 70%, temp 57-54. Holy efficiency, Batman! I've never skated that fast at a heart rate that low. The last lap I averaged 16.1 mph at 74%!

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy (TBTL Metablog Edition!)

Today I hate Too Beautiful To Live,* which has insinuated itself into my consciousness to such an extent that I can't help but think "Thumbs down!" when I ride past this doggie daycare on Montview Avenue.



*Explanatory note for Canadian readers: Too Beautiful to Live is a massively popular Seattle radio show/podcast that attracts a larger audience than the combined viewership of American Idol, Sesame Street, and Seinfeld reruns. Every night, over 500 million Americans tune in to hear host Luke Burbank read lists of prison nicknames, or to learn about producer Jen Andrews’ obsession with Michael Cera, or to find out if sound mixer Sean De Tore gained weight (Answer: Yes). All accompanied by silly audio clips from the Internet!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Today's workout

22-mile bike commute, then to the gym for leg strength and core exercises. Time 3:00. I've shifted my strength workouts to emphasize leg strength -- I used to do two core exercises for each leg exercise; now I've flipped that ratio.

I weighed in at 154 this morning, up 1 pound from last week. Grrr!

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate when I touch my tongue to both poles of a 9-volt battery,* like I’m about to do... eeearugghhh! God, that feels awful… uurrrmmmngg! If I never feel that sensation again it will be too soon... pfeh! Yekk! Vfvfvfff!

*Explanatory note for Canadian readers: A “9-volt battery” is an object that Americans use to decorate the insides of their smoke detectors. It is generally considered to have no practical use, although it was famously employed by American horror author H.P. Lovecraft, who used to think up the names of monsters (“Cthulhu!”) by touching 9-volt batteries to his tongue. (Discussion questions: Can we all agree that H.P. Lovecraft was a very strange-looking man? What’s going on with that wandering right eye? And how did he get cellulite on his chin?)

Monday, February 23, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate sportswriters who use singular verb forms to go with singular sports team nicknames, as in “Colorado Mammoth wins 15-9.” (I also hate singular sports team nicknames -- Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Edmonton Rush -- but I’ll save that for another day.) One could argue that this usage is grammatically correct, but it sounds stilted and unnatural because we’re accustomed to plural verb forms when we talk about teams doing something (“Broncos fail to make playoffs”). I say we stick with the plural form for its consistency and natural sound.

Today's workout

Yesterday: I went to bed early Saturday night but could not get to sleep, finally drifting around around 3:30 Sunday morning and notching 3 hours of sleep before the alarm sounded.

Stairclimbing race! This was the third time I’ve run the American Lung Association’s Run the Republic, a race to the top of the tallest building in Denver. I knew I couldn’t run double-steps all the way to the top, so I started off running single-steps and was quickly passed by a guy who was doing a weird Spider-Man thing: walking double-steps and hauling himself upward by grabbing the handrails on both sides of the stairway. At the 21st floor I switched to running double-steps, my HR shot to 97%, and I caught Spider-Man a few floors later.

At the 38th floor we were supposed to turn right and run down a short hallway to where the stairway continued. Confused by oxygen debt, I turned left instead… and ran into a wall, embarrassing myself in front of a pair of pompon-waving cheerleaders (I am reasonably sure this was not a hallucination). By this time my breaths were coming in great heaving gasps, my legs were turning into wood, and at the 50th floor I stumbled and reverted to single steps until the finish at the 53rd floor.

The result: 56 floors and 1,098 steps in 7:25 with avg. HR 93%, an improvement of 55 seconds over the same race last year! Official results have not been posted but it looked like I took 8th place out of ~1,800 climbers -- my best placement yet at this race. The only disappointment was that I faltered at the top: if I could have shaved 6 seconds I would have moved into 5th place. I sipped water during the entire climb and my throat only got a little scorched with some coughing, nothing a little Yogi Tea Throat Comfort can’t fix.

It was a beautiful day in Denver, so after a leisurely breakfast I went skating: 26.4 miles in 1:44:39 (15.1 mph), HR 70%, temp 61. Then to the gym for a short strength workout. Time 2:45. Sunday marked the end of my Preseason training phase -- now I enter a 10-week Base training phase.

Hours this week: 11.25
Hours this year: 97.25
Miles skated this week: 28
Miles this year: Skates 253, Bike 353

Today: What workout? Monday is my day off, except when it's not.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy (At Least It's Right Twice A Day Edition, Part the Second)

Today I hate another broken public clock -- this one on the 9News building off of Speer Boulevard stands frozen at 9:35 (click photo below for a larger version). How accurate can 9News' news coverage be when they can't get their clock to tell the correct time?


This photo taken at 12:37 pm. As far as you know.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate when I take a cookbook to the grocery store to buy ingredients for a recipe, and then I leave the cookbook at the store in the bottom of the basket. Which happened to me today. Which is why I'm bringing it up.

Today's workout

Nothing today... tapering for tomorrow morning's stairclimbing race.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Today's workout

Just my 22-mile bike commute. Took it easy as part of a mini-taper for Sunday's race. On the ride home I had a ridiculous tailwind, which was awesome but a little weird. It feels odd to ride fast with so little effort and without feeling any air resistance. It's like riding in a vacuum!

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate that I’ve become one of those people who is always cold. I haven’t always been this way -- just a few years ago I could wear short-sleeved shirts to work all winter, and until the temperature dropped below freezing I could run outside in nothing more than T-shirt and shorts. Today I wore a long-sleeved shirt to work with a T-shirt underneath, and I’ve had to add a sweater since I got here. And I can’t exercise in chilly temperatures without bundling up in an embarrassing costume of arm warmers, tights, gloves, and hat. Is this what happens when you get older? At this rate I’ll be living in Death Valley by the time I’m 50, and wearing a parka to sweep the sand off my porch.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Today's workout

22-mile bike commute. Then to the Marriott for the last stairclimbing workout before Sunday's race. 8 climbs of 20 flights each (2 walking, 2 running/bounding, 4 running). Felt good. I just wanted to get some stairclimbing in without scorching my throat. Time 2:15.

Today I reviewed my 2008 Montreal training log with an eye toward filling in the details of my 2009 world record training plan tomorrow. It was a little nostalgic, reliving all those long skates... and a little exciting thinking about the long skates to come this summer.

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate drivers who use excessive caution around bicycles. Of course, I prefer these drivers over the rude, inattentive drivers who endanger the lives of cyclists everywhere. But I don’t like drivers who wait at an intersection when I’m half a block away and could not block their path if I sprouted a jet pack.* Or drivers who pass ridiculously wide even when there’s plenty of room -- or, even worse, refuse to risk passing and creep behind me for an entire block. Some drivers wait at stop signs even when we’re traveling in parallel directions, and an accident would require that I hurl myself into their path. It might seem courteous to drive this way around bicycles. But really it’s annoying and it makes me feel guilty for holding up traffic.

*Explanatory note for Canadian readers: “Jet packs” are an American invention, originally developed in the 1960s for secret agents such as the American spy James Bond. However, with the end of the cold war in the 1990s, Americans realized a “peace dividend” as the U.S. government declassified jet pack technology and made it available to citizens. Today, nearly two in five Americans use jet packs for their daily transportation needs. (These consumer-grade jet packs have been “defanged,” of course, and unlike the military models are incapable of firing missiles, laying down oil slicks or smoke screens, or deploying grappling hooks.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Today's workout

To the crowded gym for leg strength, core strength, and cardio exercises. I've shifted my strength workouts to include more leg exercises, and toward higher weight/fewer reps. Time 2:30.

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate a label I found attached to a bag of Yogi Tea. Normally, these labels carry gentle, quasi-Zen messages suitable for pondering over a soothing cup of tea. Messages like, “Live with reverence for yourself and others,” and “Let things come to you” and “Love is where compassion prevails and kindness rules.”

But this label says, “Keep up.” Yes. Keep up. As in, “Keep up, slowpoke,” or, “What’s the matter with you? Keep up!” Kind of aggressive for Yogi Tea, don’t you think? Maybe the label writer was having a bad day.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Today's workout

22-mile bike commute. Then to the Marriott for stairclimbing. 8 climbs of 20 flights each (2 walking, 1 bounding, 3 running, 2 running/bounding), with a fast climb of 1:41, which is a little behind my best. The race is Sunday so I have one more stairclimbing workout to go. It will have to be easier because I'm coughing a little. Time 2:15.

Weighed in at 153 this morning, no change from last week.

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate The Onion Movie. The CNN/C-SPAN/Good Morning America parody videos on The Onion’s website are first-rate -- I love the one featuring a U.S. Representative reading into the congressional record an account of beating a homeless man to death for purposes of recreation -- so how did America’s Finest (Fake) News Source issue this bit of dreck?

The Onion Movie is a series of parody TV news items. This would have worked if the items had been funny, and if the filmmakers had stuck with it -- they could have had a morning show, a sports show, a financial segment, a disaster report, and so forth, plus commercials. But the jokes seemed like rejects from The Onion’s main publication, and the writers tacked on a dopey framing device about the anchorman that culminated in a painfully unfunny cameo by Steven Seagal. The whole thing seemed to have been outsourced to the lowest bidder in Sri Lanka.

Fair warning: The Onion Movie is not so bad it’s good. It’s just bad. Don’t watch it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Today's workout

What workout? Monday is my day off, except when it's not. So I'm making a chocolate-peanut butter cheesecake for a co-worker's birthday, and to exacerbate the free food problem we were discussing so recently.

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate when my left front tooth is suddenly chipped for no reason I can recall.

My right front tooth is also chipped. But I remember how that happened: I was at a bar on New Year’s Eve, drinking beer* out of a heavy glass mug, and I misjudged the distance between the mug and my face -- this was not my first beer of the evening -- and I smacked the mug into my tooth. I spat the tiny chip into my hand and considered putting it on ice, so maybe I could get it glued or welded back on or something. But that sounded like an awful lot of trouble, so I flicked the chip onto the floor and kept drinking.

The chipped place was sharp at first. Being a highly evolved lifeform endowed with intelligence and the ability to reason, I instinctively rubbed the spot with my tongue until I developed a sore (and then I kept rubbing it anyway, while saying “ow”). After a few years the spot has worn smooth. None of this has anything to do with my left front tooth, of course, but chipped-tooth stories never fail to fascinate.

*Explanatory note for Canadian readers: “Beer” is an alcoholic beverage, invented in America, and made out of fermented barley, hops, and unicorn semen. Going to places where people drink beer theoretically makes it easier to obtain casual sex, although I cannot confirm this from personal experience. Famous American beers include Foster’s, Heineken, and Molson Canadian.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Yesterday's and today's workouts

Yesterday: Snowshoe race! Drove to Frisco for a "5K" (I'm pretty sure the course was short at least half a mile -- I finished in 34:41 at HR 87%, temp 16) to benefit their local high school track team. The course was not as challenging or as picturesque as the previous snowshoe race, but it was fun and cold and I won my age group against a small field, for which I received a charming painted dinner plate as a trophy. I love small community races!



After the race I went to the gym for some easy cardio. Time 2:00.

Today: Skated 20.25 miles in 1:22:50 (14.7 mph), HR 70%, temp 47 and windy. Then to the gym for leg strength and core exercises. Time 3:30.

Hours this week: 13.75
Hours this year: 86
Miles skated this week: 22
Miles skated this year: 225

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy (Guest Blogger edition!)

This WIHT submitted by InspectorLuv, a certain someone whose ideas about Canadian plumbing technology are not necessarily shared by Lawrence Pelo, Race of Truth Global Enterprises, Inc., or any of its subsidiaries or employees.

Today I hate Lawrence’s kitchen faucet. In most cases, hot water flows from the left and cold from the right, which is true of Lawrence’s faucet.* However, for some inexplicable reason, the knobs to turn the faucet on are backwards. Hot water flows from the knob marked “c” and cold water flows from the knob marked “h”. When I first turned the faucet on, I thought maybe Lawrence had backwards plumbing (I have experienced that situation before), so I followed the lettered indicators, but couldn’t get the temperature right (I was fumbling to get warm water). Lawrence observed my frustration and mentioned that the knobs were erroneously lettered. WTF? Seriously, how difficult is it to get this correct? It's standardized! Okay, maybe the person installing the faucet in the 1960s didn’t speak English, but, over the years, you would think a supervisor or landlord or tenant would have pointed this out and corrected the problem. Not correcting this is pure pigritude**!


*For the Canadians, U.S. Americans have this system called “indoor plumbing”. So, instead of drawing up water from a well, water flows through “pipes” which come directly into our homes. In addition to cold water, we also get hot water. It’s pretty amazing.

**Pigritude is a word I adopted. Please consider adopting a word of your own and saving it from extinction: http://www.savethewords.org.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate the carrots in carrot cake. What are they doing in there? It appears to me that carrot cake is a delicious spice cake topped with nummy cream cheese frosting… and riddled with shredded carrots, which serve no purpose I can discern. Do they add flavor? Or sweetness? Or merely texture?

I’d wager the inventor of carrot cake had a pile of carrots going bad, and started dumping shredded carrots into everything -- pancakes, oatmeal, margaritas, whatever -- and somehow the carrot cake recipe stuck. Either that or the powerful, shadowy carrot-industrial complex is behind this somehow.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Today's workout

To the gym for leg strength, core strength, and cardio. Time 1:45.

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate the staggering quantities of free food available in my life. Just this week:

On Monday I was in meetings all day at work, so my company bought lunch -- not a big deal, really. But then the delivery guy gave me an extra -- and extra-large -- piece of carrot cake in addition to the dessert in my boxed lunch.

On Wednesday someone brought around homemade cookies. Then someone else brought me her half-eaten cookie because she thought I might want to finish it. She was wrong.

Yesterday I came to work to find a package of Hostess Donettes on my desk, left there after a co-worker suffered a fit of buyer’s remorse. You can see that I have gained a reputation as the office garbage disposal.

Today I came to work to find a cream cheese cupcake on my desk, left by an unknown benefactor -- or perhaps these treats are now generating spontaneously from the ether? And someone just stopped by my cube to mention that our boss had bought us all breakfast burritos.

The free food situation this week has been nothing out of the ordinary. This sort of thing happens all the time, and on top of all this there are the candy dishes around the office, the cookies left in common areas, and the birthday cakes. When I’m buying food for myself I eat a mostly healthful diet -- both for its own sake and to get lean for the world record attempt -- but it’s hard to stay on the wagon when people constantly thrust junk food in your face. I have started ignoring most of these free food offers, or throwing the food away when the donating party turns their back. Americans don’t like to throw food away, but why? We apparently have so many calories available to us that we can afford to give them away in mass quantities.

It’s no mystery to me why Americans are fat and getting fatter: our food culture has flipped the fuck out. I think that food culture has a lot more to do with our national weight problem than we like to think, and as evidence I offer this anecdote: I have a friend who struggled with his weight his entire life, until he served with the Peace Corps in a developing country. While he was there he became rail-thin, just like the people who surrounded him. Now, this developing nation is not a starving nation -- its citizens have plenty of food available to them and could eat themselves into obesity if they wanted to, but their food culture prevents this. My friend had lost 25 pounds, without trying, merely by immersing himself in a more sensible food culture. Since his return to the United States he has regained the weight and is struggling, much to his confusion, to lose it. “What am I doing wrong?” he keeps asking. It’s hard to buck your culture.


WIHT Update! I went to a meeting and there was a peanut butter cookie in the conference room, free for the taking. When I got back to my desk, a sandwich bag of Cheetos had spontaneously sprouted in my inbox.

WIHT Update 2! Free bagels and fruit in the lunchroom... why do I bother buying groceries? I could go freegan without having to root through dumpsters.

WIHT Update 3! The same co-worker who gave me the Hostess Donettes just gave me a leftover taco from his lunch.

WIHT Update 4! Today (Saturday) I went to a snowshoeing race in Frisco and won an apple pie as a door prize.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Today's workout

22-mile bike commute, and my coldest yet -- when I left the house it was 24 degrees.

Then to the Marriott for stairclimbing: 8 climbs of 20 flights each (2 walking, 3 running, 3 running/bounding). Time today 2:00.

I weighed my bike today. With all the usual accessories (fenders, rack, panniers, lock, bell, Iowa native sticker, etc.), but without any cargo, it came in at 42 pounds. Is that a lot? That seems like a lot.

WHAT I HATE TODAY: Your daily dose of negative energy

Today I hate when I go to the Mercury Cafe, an allegedly good restaurant, and the waitress reads the specials in a monotone and can’t pronounce all the words.

I also hate when my dining companion asks a simple question -- “What kinds of fruit and cheese come with the fruit and cheese plate?” -- and the waitress replies, “I don’t know, I’m kind of new here… do you want me to ask?” which implies that my dining companion’s question is unimportant and puts her in the bad-cop position of having to say, “Yes, go ask.” The correct answer is, “Let me check on that and I’ll be right back.”*

Furthermore, I hate when I order an elk steak sandwich and the waitress looks confused and says, “A what???” and then, after I repeat my order, says, “Ohhhh… I thought you said an oak steak sandwich.” If you work at a restaurant that serves elk, shouldn’t you be able to extrapolate from “oak steak sandwich” to “elk steak sandwich” from context alone?

Likewise, I hate when the waitress returns and asks, “Do you want cheese on your elk burger?” and has to be reminded that I ordered an elk steak sandwich, not a burger.

Additionally, I hate when the elk steak sandwich is lousy, just a square of meat plopped on a crumbly bun without enough roasted potatoes on the side. This, at least, was not the waitress’s fault.

Also, I hate when we go upstairs for swing dancing, and order two glasses of wine at the bar, and the bartender says, “We don’t keep the wine up here -- I have to go downstairs and get it.” And then we have to hang around the bar for several long minutes while the bartender chases our drinks down. Am I missing something here? Doesn’t the wine belong at the bar where it will be served?

Finally, I hate when this happens at a place that should be The Awesome. The Mercury Cafe has a unique and beautifully decorated space, with an attractive hipster staff festooned with tattoos and dreadlocks. It strives to serve organic, locally sourced food. It acts as a community center, hosting club gatherings -- a Go club was meeting there during our dinner -- and poetry readings, and dances with live music. But I’ve been there three times now, and twice the food has disappointed (and it proved merely decent the other time). A restaurant has nothing without good food and good service, regardless of any frills it offers.

*I should add that the restaurant was not busy and that the waitress had time to go to the kitchen to get information for a customer. I have worked as a waiter and I have sympathy for their plight, especially when the place is slammed. But not infinitely so.