Saturday, February 28, 2009
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
*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
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
*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
I weighed in at 154 this morning, up 1 pound from last week. Grrr!
*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
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)
This photo taken at 12:37 pm. As far as you know.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
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.
*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
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
Weighed in at 153 this morning, no change from last week.
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 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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Word Crack seems fun and easy -- finding words in a batch of six Scrabble-like tiles -- but turns out to be evil and difficult. At the end of each game I find myself shouting, “How did I miss AIR? And CODE? It must have been a fluke! One more game, and this time I’m really going to pay attention and kick this game’s ass!” Repeat as necessary.
Finally, Word Crack ranks you against your friends who play it. Which means that a competitive word-lover like me has no choice but to keep playing and playing in a Sisyphean quest for the meaningless #1 slot. Right now I’m ranked #2 with a high score of 5576, stuck behind a certain someone at 7081. Intolerable!
WIHT Update! A few hours after posting this, I played Word Crack on my lunch break and popped an 8306 -- huzzah! Unfortunately I forgot to save the score and so you -- by which a mean a certain someone -- will have to take my word for it.
WIHT Update II! A certain someone just emailed me to boast of scoring 10,054 on Word Crack, busting me back to #2 even with my if-a-tree-falls-in-a-forest 8306. Curses -- foiled again!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Then to the Marriott for stairclimbing, which I haven't done in a few weeks due to an itchy throat and coughing. So I took it a little easy, finishing 9 climbs of 20 flights each (3 walking, 6 running).
Then I left the Marriott and realized that I had locked my keys in my car. Sigh. So I ran 25 minutes to my girlfriend's house, who kindly drove me to my house to get my spare car key, and then back to the Marriott. April, you are The Awesome. Total time 2:45.
Weighed in at 153 this morning, down 1 pound from last week.
Monday, February 9, 2009
I took this photo at 12:46. As far as you know.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
I made up a new -- new to me, anyway -- exercise with a machine called the Freemotion Cable Cross. I lowered the arms, hooked the handle onto one foot, then balanced on the other foot in the skating position while doing skating pushes against resistance with the other leg. This must have looked pretty silly to the other gym users, but to me it seems like a pretty great exercise as it specifically targets the skating muscles through the skating range of motion. I especially noticed a burn in my butt when I finished. Has anyone else tried this?
Hours this week: 15
Hours this year: 72.25
Miles skated this week: 44
Miles skated this year: 203
Also, when I write an appointment on the calendar, it reappears in ghostly fashion on the next page. I sure hope I don't go to Steph's birthday party again on the 28th!
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Friday, February 6, 2009
*I'm aware, by the way, that bagged, pre-chopped lettuce is available for purchase. I'm always tempted to buy this stuff and save myself the agony, but it's a lot more expensive, and I always think, "What kind of wuss am I that I can't chop my own lettuce?" Then I get home and think, "I am the kind of wuss who wishes he has bought the bagged lettuce."
Thursday, February 5, 2009
SarahPAC's logo depicts the Lower 48 with Alaska silhouetted inside of it. It's actually pretty sweet, and it's nice to see Alaska shown at its terrifying true size instead of getting shrink-wrapped in a little box off the coast of California. But... where's Hawaii? Now I know that Sarah Palin is the governor of Alaska, not Hawaii, and I know that Hawaii is a narsty blue state that spawned B-A-R-A-C-K-O-B-A-M-A. But simple fairness would seem to dictate that if Alaska gets a seat at the grown-up's table, Hawaii ought to get one as well.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
My throat has been tickling more the last few days and I've been coughing a bit. I'm thinking about skipping the stairclimbing race, which would suck because I think I could do well, but it's not worth the weeks-long hacking cough that seems to accompany this activity.
I weighed in at 154 this morning, no change from last week.
The NHL gets this right. The first person to receive the Stanley Cup is -- strange but true! -- a hockey* player, usually the captain of the winning team. Not until each player takes a individual lap around the ice with the Cup hoisted above his head do the suits get to touch it. Not coincidentally, the Stanley Cup trophy presentation is one of the most powerful in sports.
*Explanatory note for Canadian readers: “Hockey” is an American sport played by angry men who “skate” on frozen water atop metal blades attached to their feet while chasing after a hunk of rubber and sometimes punching each other. Some great American hockey players include Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Patrick Roy, and Gordie Howe.
Monday, February 2, 2009
I am six feet tall, and this cuff is six inches,* so these sweat pants were made for someone the size of an NBA forward! I wouldn’t mind wearing them with the cuffs, but they slip easily and I have to roll them up every few minutes. I guess I’ll have to safety-pin the cuffs in place or cut six inches off the bottom, which will make them look terrible, but then sweat pants look terrible anyway.
*Conversion to Canadian units: “Six feet” is 0.0000000000000001934 light years, and “six inches” is 0.00000000000000001612 light years.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
I love everything about the safety. I love the pope's-hat signal the refs make, I love that the humiliated team has to kick off to its tormentors, and that it has to do so using the emasculating free kick. When I become President of Football, my first act will be to make safeties worth 11 points.
* Answer: a kick returned 99 yards for a touchdown. Long kick returns should get bonus points awarded on some sort of logarithmic sliding scale.