Thursday, August 23, 2007

10 Most Magnificent Trees in the World

I thought the Circus Trees were pretty freakin' amazing! Who knew trees could be this interesting? Besides botanists, I mean.

10 Most Magnificent Trees in the World

Pickup and How I Met Your Mother

The audio is off, but you get the gist:

Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie!) isn't the lead, but he does steal -every- scene he's in:

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dancing Nadir

Me: Thanks for the dance, Jenna.

Jenna: Thank you, sir.


Me: Did you just call me sir?!

Jenna: [mortified] My parents make me call everybody sir!

Me: [to no one in particular] She just called me, "sir."

Hey! What're you kicking me for? You want me to ask? All right, I'll ask! Ma'am, where do the high school girls hang out in this town?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Cutting It Short For Reals

Social Patterns (Jenny)
Really unstructured. Jenny solicits requests, and none of us are really ready with stuff we need to work on. Not a great class.

Stomp Stomp
I can't begin to explain how little fun I'm having learning this routine. Not partnered, incorporating lots of shine patterns I can't do well (Well, it' s really the Apple Jacks that I've never learned to do well).

We eat at Pat and Oscar's again. Same yummy salad with chicken added.


Played around with my MacBook, Photo Booth, and iPhoto for some self-portraits.


I remembered that finishing a Century Ride was a resolution I wrote back when I first started blogging. I haven't really re-visited these resolutions since then, so now might be a good time.

  • continue to live healthy
    Full Credit!
    I've lost a mind-blowing 40 lbs since New Year's Day, am eating right and staying extremely active. I've had to tighten up the waistline a couple of times. Blood work has all been great: no more diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, etc.
  • live my life with more thought about spirituality
    Partial Credit
    I could make Meeting more consistently, but I've been very introspective about my spirituality, exploring the topic with various groups in and out of Quaker circles. That's been very rewarding.
  • compete in a sprint triathlon
    No Credit
    I think this resolution is out the window. I injured myself running for a very short period of time, and I don't want to risk losing the things I love doing right now (dancing, cycling) over something I've never enjoyed doing (running). I also haven't been swimming enough. Or much. OK, I've swum very rarely. Need to do more. Off days, perhaps?
  • complete a "Century" ride (100 miles)
    Full Credit (08/18/2007)!
    Cool Breeze Century, Ventura to Santa Barbara and back: My First Century Was A Cool Breeze! Even have the bumper sticker to prove it.
  • take more pictures each week
    Partial Credit (tiny amounts)
    I have taken more pictures, but it's really tailed off. Reminder to do that more often.
  • update this blog with consistency
    Full Credit (grudging)
    OK, so some of my posts go on and on about Swing Dancing, and I'm the only one who cares. So what?!
  • increase my social circle
    Full Credit
    This has happened since I've picked up more activities, but it's been something I've consciously worked on. More socializing with certain Friends outside of Meeting. Socializing with dance friends outside of dancing. Socializing with cyclists I'm meeting though L&E's Lower Cadence group.
  • contribute positively to the communities I belong to
    Partial Credit
    I'm helping out where I can with Quaker First Day School. Trying to organize post-class dinners with dancing friends, along with Lindy Groove trips. Only just ramping-up the socializing with Lower Cadence.
  • take a vacation that requires an overnight stay
    Partial Credit
    Overnight stay for the Cool Breeze Century only partially counts.
  • take positive steps towards finishing my degree
    Full Credit
    I totally killed my math class. Still need to follow up with Caltech adviser on best way to continue with degree there.
  • write 5 minutes of stand-up comedy
    No Credit
    Did very minor work on this and abandoned. Too much time in front a computer in my own head, which is what I do for work. Trying to make my hobbies different from my work. Can't say I'm really interested in pursuing this.

What were the things I should have put on the list but neglected?

  • Go On Casual Dates
    Partial Credit
    At the beginning of the year, dating was so far off my radar that I'm not surprised I didn't include it. OK, so I've casually dated. But going on dates with one person isn't the same as dating a variety of people and personality types to see what I do and don't like. I've done the former, but not the latter. I'm finding myself a bit gun-shy at potentially ruining the social dynamics of the groups I'm in. I don't think anyone's really thinking of me romantically in my swing or cycling groups, but if I did date someone from those groups, what would happen to the friendships if it didn't work out? That might be OK for a casual thing, but not for an intense one. Hmmm... the potential ending of an intense relationship is keeping me from thinking about casual dating? That doesn't seem right.
    Let's make this a quantifiable goal: I'd like to go on at least 5 dates (one a month including August) before the year ends. Repeat dates with the same gal doesn't count.
  • Be More Organized
    No Credit

    I let my apartment get messy and stay messy. Bad. Quantify this? Maintain a clean apartment for four weeks in a row.
  • Cycle
    Get to an average of 100 miles per week of cycling. Work on getting a 70+ mile in once a month or so. D.H.'s 75 mile ride? The Falcon's San Gabriel River Trail ride?

Cool Breeze Century Even More Quotes

Em: Everyone in the Lower Cadence group did awesome!

Me: Yeah, we did! But I want to suggest a new name: Soft Core Cycling.

Em: That sounds kind of porn-y.

Me: That's what makes it so awesome!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Cool Breeze Century More Quotes

Danielle: Hey, if you're feeling good and want to take off, don't worry about me.

Me: OK. And if you're feeling strong and you find yourself off ahead of me, for God's sake slow down and wait. I don't want to ride this thing alone!

Danielle: There's a hard Team Velocity ride that's was around 30 miles with the same amount of climbing as today's ride. I thought that was a lot harder than today. Today was good, but not super hard.

Me: Can't... catch... breath... to... talk...

Danielle: Don't take that the wrong way, I just meant...

Me: Listen, unless you have something more to say about how good my ass looks, I don't want to hear it!

I might have cut and pasted that last one to make it funnier.

Cool Breeze Century Part "The Other"

Well, blogging from my mobile phone (was I unclear that yesterday's entry was done from bed in the dark on my Treo?) during the ride went completely out the window. I just didn't have time, or was too tired.

The Motel 6 group I was with got to start line a bit late, and started at about 6:43am instead of the 6:30am time we were shooting for. Danielle and I were trying to ride with Grace and Diana, but missed out on that. By 13 minutes. Oh well. We kept seeing them coming out of the rest stops as were were entering them. There was a 500 foot climb right after the first rest stop, and an awesome 800 foot climb right out of the second stop (around the 30 mile mark).

The big bummer was that I didn't hydrate properly at the beginning of the ride or during lunch time, and I had some hard-core cramping going into the second to last rest stop. Well, around a mile from it. I'd felt it coming on and had drained my water, but it didn't help. My quadriceps went into complete lock-up contractions. I almost fell off the bike. Not sure how I avoided that, or how I unclipped. Every time I'd move, the cramps would get worse, so I just had to sit and wait that it would go away. Really scary. Danielle and I were way ahead of the group we had started with. She was really awesome to hang with me instead of taking off. I drank most of the fluids that Danielle had left. Eventually my quads unclenched, and I eased the next mile into the rest stop. We must had been there for an hour, me eating bananas and drinking copious amounts of water. A ton of water. I downed a bunch of my electrolyte drinks too. I thought I was over-packing them at the beginning of the day. Wrong!

I was still cramping as we left the rest stop. Takes a while to absorb fluid, I guess. A bit of a cramp again 500 meters out, so we pulled into a parking lot. So frustrating. Saw Lem and Courtney go by. Waited a few more minutes, and I said, "Fuck this, I'm feeling better, lets go!" I guess I'd absorbed enough water at that point, as the cramping eased off. We caught Lem and Courtney 20 minutes later, and rode with them the rest of the way.

At the last rest stop, there were popsicles! They were hyped up by everyone who talked about Cool Breeze, but they were just ok. Just remembered that I hadn't talked about the rest stops. Tons of porta-potties, with Purell dispensers in them, and foot-pump sinks. They had tons of food from Costco: bananas, cantalope, trail mix, bagels, muffins, peanut-butter, jelly, bread, water (tons of water), Country Time lemondade, and on and on. Courtney complained about the sameness, but I welcomed it.

Funny sign at the last rest stop that Courtney and Danielle had fun at:

The ride distance was 102 miles, so we stopped to take a picture at the 100 mile point:

(Lem, Courtney, Danielle, Me)

Costco dinner after the ride hit the spot. Drive back with Danielle was awesome. Drives are better with someone to be chatty with.

Cool Breeze Century Best Quote

Danielle: In a totally platonic way, your ass looks awesome on those riding shorts. I'm sorry, was that weird?

Me: No, not at all. Thanks.


Me: You can massage it later on, if you want. In a totally platonic way, I mean.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Cool Breeze Century Pt. 1

I'm in Ventura for the Cool Breeze Century (100 mile ride). 4am & I can't fall back asleep. Darn nerves. I'll try to update at the start & each rest stop.

Danielle, Carrie, Courtney, Tony, Brenda, and I ditched the hellacious first hotel we were booked at in favor of the Motel 6. Great pasta at Ferraro's. Sharing a room with 3 girls. Which sould be more exciting than the reality.


2+ hours 'til the start of the ride. 1 'til everyone else wakes up...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Catching Up

Another old Caltech friend was in town today, staying with The Falcon. I got myself up to Pasadena, and we had a great dinner at Saladang Song, one of my favorite places to eat in Pasadena (along with the original restaurant right next door, Saladang).

After spending many years on the East coast, AsifK made a job move to the greater Phoenix area. I'm glad he and The Falcon had stayed in touch, as my contact info for him was sadly out of date. We all caught up with each other's careers and families, and shockingly didn't feel the need to speak of Caltech that much. Wow.

Went back to The Falcon's place, where we were joined by Hightop. More catching up ensued. Interesting to hear about Hightop's research about energy balances.

Friends are friends for a reason, and it turns out the reasons we got along during college are still true now. Sense of humor, life sensibilities, etc. It was a great time, and I hope we stay in better touch in the future.

Cutting It Short

Was eating dinner with friends in Pasadena, so missed classes and social dancing at Atomic. Actually, I meant to go home from Pasadena, but actually found myself at Atomic at midnight for some dancing. It was the first set of classes I'd missed in a quite a long time.

AB Team
Jerry runs things today, and we do Swing Rueda, which is a circular called swing dance. Really interesting. Jerry once explained that it was inspired by Salsa Rueda.

Swing 1 Team
We work more on the Boogie Woogie routine, which is a strain on Liz and I as a couple due to all the traveling swing-outs. Totally wrung out afterwards.

Lunch with the group finds me totally grubbing on Spicy Thai. Flat noodle, chicken, medium spice, not bad. But not Saladang like last night. I have a ride with Ginger in the late afternoon, so I boogie. No, I don't boogie, but I do leave. Too tired to boogie.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Awkward Part 4

Continuing to feel Awkward.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Tuesday lunch with my absent gal-friend was pushed to Wednesday. Lunch was a little surreal. On one hand, it was easy to fall into old patterns of friendship and conversation. On the other, there was this seven to nine months of non-contact which basically went un-addressed. At one point, she referenced a contentious relationship in her own life and said something along the lines of "It's amazing how people can do something to hurt someone without acknowledging it and apologizing." I'd managed to keep a light, friendly attitude about the meeting until that point, but I almost gasped at the critique of someone else which could just as easily have applied to her. She talked about wanting to get together more often like we used to. I agreed that it would be nice, but internally, I questioned whether it would be such a great idea.

After a week or so of reflection I really felt like I couldn't continue having any kind of regular contact with her without discussing the disappearing act first. We were both busy in the intervening week, so finally I laid it out in an email (sad that it came down to that). She responded fairly positively, stating that she'd felt bad about disappearing, pointing to a busy schedule which turned into guilty feelings. At a certain point, the guilt of being absent was harder to deal making not contacting me the easy choice. For months, I suppose. Is that it? That's sad. Nothing else? Really? Well, I did say that there wasn't much that she could say that would fix everything.

We agreed to talk more in person. I wondered whether I would actually hear back from her at that point.

She invited me to work-out, which I wanted to do despite being saddle-sore. I bailed on training today with the Zurn, but judged the pool to be a good thing, especially the prospect of some jacuzzi-time for the legs.

We got coffee after, and after some casual chit-chat, I asked if we were ever going to talk about "that."
"The email thing?
It was painfully awkward, but she said the same things over again in person. Absent because of busyness, then absent over guiltiness. Sad. I resisted the urge to fill long silences, but she didn't have much more to say about it than that. I tried to re-visit the time-line as I remembered and had written about it, especially how not hearing back after the email in January made me feel that I was off the friend list. She didn't quite apologize directly, but expressed how badly she felt, and that she heard and understood my feelings.

I guess the key isn't what she says, but how she acts from now on. Thanks to everyone who I made sit through this story in real life.

July 2007 Dance Wrap-up

Sunday Series Classes
I'm so tired after class that I have to totally rely on Mark's recollection of things.

Swing 1
No one else seems to have shown up for Swing 1, so I decide to fill in as a lead for the AB class. Jenny pulls me aside and we work on some things together. After doing a bit of me-led social dancing, Jenny comments that I should be "playing around with rhythms a bit more." As in, throwing in footwork variations. Kick-ball-change-ball-change-step or just a kick-ball-change instead of 1-2-3-&-4. Kick-switch instead of 7-8.

Jenny says my Apache feels solid, which I'm extremely pleased about. I don't know if I'm throwing the arm, or handing it off, though.

Balboa: We practice the crazy Saturday night swing-out special a couple times: come-around with outside turn, into an Apache spike-out. We also work on the pure Apache spike-out, where the lead spends a basic putting the arm behind the follow's back to get a head start on the Apache.

Locked whip with inside and outside turns.

Club Night
Amantha, Crystal, Michelle, and Charles are there. Michelle, Amantha and I work on Jeep Jockey Jump. Charles doesn't seem that interested. I totally bonk. Probably due to spin the day before plus bad nutrition (eat that oatmeal!). I leave after about an hour.

No one else shows up, so it doesn't happen. Michelle and I join the AB Balboa class.

Double Turns
We do 6 and 8 count double tuck turns.

Footwork variations again. Michelle and Charles's first(?) exposure to the odds/evens idea of footwork variations. Cool again. Remember: scuff-step, kick-step, kick-ball-change (on 5-6 of a swing-out!).

No Team Practice because of Camp Hollywood. I meet up with the team at Dinah's. Hurting a bit from a spill during the afternoon bike ride with The Falcon, but good food. I have the Spanish Omelet again, and finish it myself. Not the home fries, though I have about half. Wow, I'm looking for those carbs!

Charles, Jenny, and Amantha sit in a booth instead of the big table with the team. Is that because they were on time? Everyone's all dressed up, which gives me the barest feelings of being under-dressed. Pearl Harbor theme, and I'm not in sailor gear, navy dress blues, or even a Hawaiian shirt, just my khaki cargo shorts and lime green polo. I put it out of my mind. I have a repressed clothes-horse in me but I don't want to spend money on major fashion that I can't wear that often or that will be too big for me if I drop more weight.

I miss the team competitions as I'm shopping for Aris Allen dance shoes from The Dance Store. I end up getting a pair of the faux sneakers in white/black and the ubiquitous white cap-toe. They're actually pretty light-weight in feel and construction quality. Jerry tells me I should get another pair of cap-toes so I have a beater pair and a dress pair. If they had more than one pair of wide-widths in my size, I would have. As it is, buying and wearing the white cap-toe is key to dancing that night, as the floors are slooooow.

I meet up with Ori, the only person I've ever met because I blog, and we hang out a bit, dancing near each other. He took the intermediate track and sounds like he loved it. We've been trading emails about dancing, and it was cool to meet up with him and see him actually dance. Funny that he has a solid Lindy now but when we started exchanging emails his main concern was triple-stepping. What progress we beginners can make! See and dance with Krysia (she's in her awesome green dress). She dances with Ori, but I don't talk to her about it. Amantha dances with him and does give me feedback to pass along. I venture onto the main floor one time, but it's sooo crowded I head back over to the side, where it's nice and open. The Jitterbug contest is really interesting, but I wonder about the wisdom of incorporating aerials which look like they're barely being pulled off. On the other hand, one couple was doing aerials where the guy was intentionally making it look like the follow was really heavy, which was awesome, in retrospect.

As I leave, I realize there's a groove/westie room across the hall. Damn!!!! It's 2am and I'm leaving! On the way home, my eyes start to droop, so I pull off and crash out in the car for a couple hours. Get home safe, young man.

Because OC Swing is teaching Tandem Charleston, I signed up for the it and the intermediate class as well. We'll see if I can sustain the effort for the whole rest of the day. I spent all of my time in the time between classes social dancing. In fact, I actually had women racing to ask me, a big ego boost. Most of the other good leads are still at Camp Hollywood.

Tandem Charleston (OC Swing)
This is the slow, methodical way I wish I had learned Tandem Charleston: at the speed of an absolute beginner. I could have skipped the guys footwork, but I get it into my head to spend the time working on follow footwork and arm swings for Charleston, so it's not a waste of time. Shesha and Nikki teach the footwork as going straight back, not guys going out to the side. Fair enough. We learn the Chase entry into Tandem, nice and slow. All review for me. Next week is more of the same. I wish this class had come around a few months ago.

Intermediate (OC Swing)
Move of the week:
Fake swing-out from open, switching hands, leading a turn, turning inside, clap, connect hup!

Rock-step-cross, rock-step-cross
Swing-out stepping under the connection on 3-&-4, swinging the follow out behind our backs, following to closed.
Swing-out with inside turn (?), following to closed.

Harlem Swing
Jenny's still at Camp Hollywood, so Jerry teaches. He switches some of the choreography on the California Routine. After the "hit on 5" he has us hold on 7-8. 4 counts of crazy knees, 2 counts of Tango step.

Jerry breaks from the California Routine and we do some Tandem Charleston stuff. Very cool, namely a double follow turn into cross-kicks. The cross-kicks technique he teaches is very helpful too: My connection is too much in my forearm, not enough in my shoulder. My second kick with each leg needs work to be more of a kick and less of a knee swing that gets me around. I need to keep my eye on the connection. A variation is to not connect and come around kick-step, kick-step, kick-step to another cross-kick. Very cool. Just the kind of basic variation that I needed to add to my dance vocabulary. I need to work on that cross-kick technique a lot. Especially the arm extension which requires keeping my eye on the connection.

Danie is lots of fun to dance with, but interestingly, her connection is a lot softer than Michelle's during the California Routine section, which makes it hard to keep small.

Big John's Special
We get through to the push-out to circle, and really nail that down. It takes up most of the practice. The circle wasn't as hard as I thought, as some of the over-rotation is during the swing-out immediately after.

The Atomic Routine We start in from the beginning, but then focus in on the tap section. Very helpful to have a different take on teaching it. Jerry breaks things down a bit more. Jenny assumed we had things and did repetitions. Jerry focuses a bit more on slow technique, waiting to build speed later. Very helpful.

Michelle, Charles, and I eat dinner at Pat & Oscar's afterwards. Good conversations. Tasty food (Santa Fe Chipotle, which I believe I had with SL after Knotts). No protein, but not bad.

Swing 1 (Jerry)
No real recollection of what we did in this class.
Swing 2 Walkthroughs (Jerry)
Interesting content here. We do a couple walk-through variations.

Walk-through with free spin:
Leads stay connected and facing sideways during first triple, then flick for counter-clockwise turn on the second.

Walk-through with hand-changing lead turn

Something where we ended in no-looky handshake position.

All variations could be done on the end of a swing-out with inside turn, so we did.

Saddle Sore

Back on Monday's spin class, Grace told me the group was riding on Sunday. Texted LB to get the details.

Me: I heard you guys are doing a ride on Sunday. Mind if I tag along?
LB: Sure, here's where we're starting, 8:45am....
Me: Awesome! See you then. Flat? Climbing? Distance?
LB: Hills, flats - 56 miles
Me: [...]

At that point, I was offended. I mean, if you don't want me to come on a ride, just tell me so. Don't make up crazy distance numbers calculated to keep me away! But he was serious. 55 miles. I've been slacking, but the groups built up from the 30 mile ride I tagged along on back on Memorial Day.


I felt a lot of trepidation, but showed up for the ride. I packed my Camelback, but found out we had a rest stop at a member's house to fuel up at the 20 mile mark, so I didn't bring it.

Still can't believe I did this.

Grace didn't feel the need to challenge any of us. Diana led on at least one hill I couldn't keep up with her on. But I thought I was in contention the whole time. An odd thing happened on the Jamboree climb; We had paused for a water break at the bottom of the climb, then LB suggested I lead on Jamboree. I felt a lot more comfortable with someone else setting the pace, but I was willing to do the work for a while. LB reminded me to turn at Canyon View, and I set the pace. I started out on the initial flat at about 14 mph, keeping it sedate. As the incline started, I kept changing into easier gears but stayed in the saddle. I kept hearing Grace or Diana pulling up with me, but I'd just keep it constant and without panicking. I crested Jamboree, and turned to ask Diana or whoever it was where the turn was, and realized I was completely alone. I assume Grace and Diana both decided to stay and encourage the other riders. Again, I'm not stronger than either of them.

I led the last climb of the day as well, up Cerro Villa. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. LB and Carrie talked about bailing on the climb and stopped about a third of the way up. I decided to see whether it was do-able, but at the top of that hill, the turn was onto Summitridge, another climb! I rode back down to the group to report and we cut the ride short. The others were itching to end it, since we were over the estimated time (probably because of the climbing). Total ride time was 4h 19min. I stopped my timer during the water break at 21 miles. The heat of the day had me drinking a lot more from that point on, and I ran out of water right before the Cerro Villa climb. With so much climbing in the back half of the ride, that break felt like it was after the first third of the ride, nowhere near half way.

Grace talked me into signing up for the Cool Breeze Century ride. The Metric Century is clearly within reach, but Grace thinks I should do the 100 miles. Hmmm...


Sunday, August 5, 2007

I'm A Terrible Human Being

Me: You've totally got to hook me up with Xandra! I thought you were my friend!

L: Dude, Xandra's gay.

Me: Yeah, I know. I was just wondering if you'd tell me.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Spin Crash


Went to spin class about 20 minutes before the start. All the spots were taken. Yikes. I waited around for no-shows, and talked to MikeMan on the Versa-climber. I haven't seen him since his sis was in town back around January. There were enough no shows that I got a spot. The instructor, Courtney, leads a 6:30 S.E.T. class, so the 7:30 spin class usually starts at 7:40. Which gives me time to set up.

I guess this is the Monday night class that Grace, Diana, et al take. But no Lem. Where is that guy? Super-intense class, and I'm so competitive, stand-up running, etc. Lost my Garmin heart-rate monitor strap, so no recording.

Ran to the store afterwards to make sure I had some protein powder. Need to make sure I'm getting enough protein in to get over the soreness. Weird to worry about something like that.


Lifted with the Zurn, then hung out, waiting for the spin class. Got on the bike in Liz's class, then found out I hadn't brought it. Brought what? Brought the energy. Here's the graph of my heart-rate (new strap came in the mail):

Couldn't even get above 150 bpm, crashed about 20 minutes in, tried to get up five minutes later, then realized I hadn't brought it. Just survived for the rest of the class. Well, you can see I tried to ramp up a bit at 45 minutes in, but pretty weak, 144 bpm. It was literally all I could do. I think I was doing stand-up, medium-low resistance, and medium-low cadence. Compare to a good class.

Note to self: plan ahead and eat oatmeal before Wednesday workouts. Well, it might have just been the residual of the long weekend (including climbing with the Falcon on Saturday) plus spin on Monday. Nah, nutrition had to have been a big part of it. In fact, the same thing happened to me during dancing last Thursday.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Did You Say Chainsaw?

Friends No More

Me: "We're climbing this ride?"
GF: "Yeah, rolling hills."
Me: "Ok, great."
GF: "You sure you can hold that pace?"
Me: "Yeah, I should be ok..."

30 minutes of straight climbing later....

Bastard! :-)

We staged out of the Rose Bowl, rode into the hills, and halfway out, GF blew his tube AND tire. I rode back and picked him up. We went straight to eat lunch with Hightop, who wasn't able to make the ride.

Here's the route: