Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New year's celebration underway

Dev and Sue got to the rental house last night. They prepped the place; put away the groceries, walked the dogs, found out how all the light switches work. Keith and I drove up after work with all the ski gear. We got in right around 11 pm; I grabbed dinner about 6:30 so we got a late start getting on the road.

We got up late this morning (7:30 am). Motivation to get moving lacked. We walked the dogs. Checked the weather. Looked at snowshoe trails. Consulted the Mt Bachelor website for conditions and snow forecast. Discussed what we want to do.

Basically a nice relaxing start to our New Year's bash 08-09.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Good Surprises

Scott and Ann came to visit last night. Last minute. The called about 2 pm. Got in around 8 pm. We had pizza and beer and wine and scotch and dogwalks and Qwirkle and merriment. It was a great way to spend our last night in town before heading to Bend, Oregon for our annual New Year's bash.

Thanks for coming to visit guys! We had a good time!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Hiking pants aren't biking pants

Sometimes I learn things the hard way. Turns out that rain pants with a full length side zipper will leak at the zipper when the knee stays acutely bent for more than a few minutes.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sometimes 15 is better than 17

I hiked (i.e. rode the bus) over to Dishman pool yesterday so I could get some laps in. It's been a week since I could get to the pool. We've had crazy weather here this last week. Snow piled up. And piled up. And piled up some more. And then Christmas happened. And then I had to work Friday. And before you know it, a full week passes.

So I get back to the pool yesterday. I hopped in and started stroking away; straight into a set of 50 yard laps. I tick off 5 laps leading with my right arm and breathing every stroke. I'm not as efficient as last week, but I'm getting to the deep end and back without stopping. I switch off to breathing to my right side for the next 5 laps. My form is worse on my right side but my swimming feels more relaxed. I switch back to leading with my right arm for 4 more laps and start to get tired. I try for a few more laps on my other side (breathing to the right). I get down the lane and back once but I'm losing steam fast.

I hop out of the water and head for the showers. I figure 15 full laps is twice as many as I managed previously. I also figure that my form is getting sloppier as I get more tired so it's time to call it good for the day. So progress continues.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Winter storm 08 pictures

Here are some pics from the last three days.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Public interventions

I had a short but interesting bus ride home tonight. I'm not sure about my part in the night's festivities, but maybe laying it out will help me sort it.

Macforce sent us all home early tonight (4 pm) after we opened very late today (11 am). I didn't ride my bike because there's a foot of snow on the ground. I didn't drive, because there's a foot of snow on the ground and Dev would have been stranded at home. I didn't have Dev drive me to work because there's a foot of snow on the ground and she has better things to do than schlepp me an hour in to work on deeply snowed-in side roads. So I rode the bus to work. On the way out, Jamie offered to drive me part way. I accepted and saved myself the pain of waiting for the bus in high winds on top of the Hawthorne Bridge.

I walked 5 blocks to the bus stop. I got there just as a bus pulled in; lucky me. The bus was crowded front to back and only standing room left. I squeezed in. A young lady sat to my left and was talking with the women next to her about feeling ill. After about 10 minutes of being on the bus, she called for the trash can. A couple of passengers handed it back to her. She got sick into the trash can. Quickly and quietly. At the next big transition stop (a stop where about one third of the bus debarks and new passengers replace them completely), the young lady hands the trash can back to the bus driver and politely tells her what happens. I was moving toward the back of the bus to make room for the new passengers and heard the young lady talking to the bus driver.

I didn't get far towards the back of the bus though. People were boarding through the back door. The bus driver couldn't see through the crowd. She called for everyone to move toward the back so new passengers could get on. Somewhere around 7 or 8 folks boarded through the back door. Progress towards the back of the bus stalled. The driver called for us to move back again. Someone shouted that people were coming in through the back door. A couple of the people boarding turned around and got back off the bus. One young lady in a brown fake leather jacket and her shorter friend stayed on and made no move to go farther back on the bus.

The young lady who got sick a few moments earlier started squirming her way through the crowd. She was yelling at the people coming on through the back door. Shaming them for causing problems. I don't remember the words so much as the outraged tone of her voice. The rogue passenger in the brown coat said something to her friend and laughed. The young lady who got sick zeroed in on her and yelled some more about being inconsiderate. Two or three more pleasantries were exchanged and then the two girls started throwing punches. After one or two good swings each, they had locked a deathgrip on each other. The girl in the brown coat had a fist-full of the sick girl's hair and the stayed locked head to head and shoulder on shoulder over a couple of passengers.

The lady in the outer seat of the pair onto which the altercants had draped themselves looked very uncomfortable; maybe terrified. She had the blond narrow features I always associate with Poland or the former Eastern Bloc nations of Europe. She squeezed out from under the girls and excused herself. I think I imagined a Slavic accent. Passenger on the bus were getting unsettled. A couple yelled at the fighting girls to act like adults. Some were trying yell at the girls to be reasonable. A couple of passengers said something along the lines of "someone break up the fight" and didn't make a move to get involved. The women banged around a few times. Passengers in the aisle moved as far forward in the bus as they could, streaming past me, which left me on one side and a big dude on the other side containing the girls from bouncing around on more passengers.

A guy in a seat directly in front of the girls started trying to pull the brown jacketed girl's grip free from the other girls hair. One of the girls kept saying "let go of my hair." It was impossible to tell which combatant said it. I started helping the the gentleman pry open the fist holding the hair. The jacketed girl's friend was on the other side saying something vaguely resembling an effort for her friend to be reasonable. Finally we got the two girls apart. The flew back at each other. We accomplished a second separation. The girl in the brown jacket went to throw a punch and I grabbed her hand to stop her. She glared at me and said something to the effect of "You better let go of me!" I let go, not really knowing what else to do. I didn't want her to hit me. And I'm not real keen in getting into a fight with a woman, particularly not in such a public place.

After we got them separated a third time they yelled some more. The girl in the brown jacket and her friend got off the bus. The came back for a broken cell phone and a glove. Then they wandered into the crowd at the transit station. They knew the police had been called, but neither they nor anyone on the bus seemed to think the police would be there anytime soon. After I pointed out the girl to the bus driver, the bus pulled out. We had already been stopped too long and the incident was done.

The guy who had formed the blocker on the other side of the fight said thanks. Two women thanked me for doing something. One looked like she might work fro TriMet. I really didn't feel like I had done anything. I kept extra people from getting hurt. I helped contain the fight but I didn't really help to stop it. I didn't know how to stop it. I felt shaky the rest of the ride home. The dude in the glasses wished the young lady who got sick a better evening. I got off the bus four stops later, still shaky. I told the young lady who had gotten sick that for what it was worth, I appreciated the fact that she had said something about the people coming onto the bus the wrong way. And I told her that I hoped she had a much better evening.

My insides still felt woogy by the time I had tromped through the snow and walked in the door at home. I really don't like conflict. I don't like how my brain seizes and prevents me from thinking of alternative courses of action. And I hate the lack of certainty that I'm doing the right thing; I know that I had to do something, but I didn't know if it was the right thing.

So much for tonight's confessional.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Twenty minus three equal seven fifties?

Lets do the numbers:

Two inches of snow
One bus ride to Dishman Pool
Five laps leading with my right arm and breathing every other stroke
Five laps leading with my left arm and breathing every other stroke
Six laps *with no rest at the deep end* leading with my right arm
Ninety seconds of rest between laps
One lap *with no rest at the deep end* leading with my left arm
One really good day in David's swimming progression


This post from Crooks and Liars is unbelievable.

Here's the video in the post:

Still Snowing

Snowing off and all all week long here. I've literally never seen anything like it. Growing up in Texas involved 5 snow days in my 30 years there. I don't think I got a single snow day while I lived in California. And now a week of snow. It's unfortunate for my swimming this week. Only one day of swimming on Tuesday. Then I skipped Thursday night because I was so sore from the workout at the gym on Wednesday. Mistake. The city pools closed Friday for inclement weather. And now the pool closest to me is closed until the new year for their annual maintenance. [sigh]

I hope Dishman Pool opens today. Lap swim is not until 11 AM.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Off the cute-meter

Eating snow

Snow angel started

Snow angel finished

Another snow cone please!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sometimes 20 isn't 20 either

Twenty laps at the pool last night. I didn't link any fifties together. But I did get some good form and stroke work. At Dev's suggestion, I tried breathing every second stroke instead of every third stroke. So I took a breath every time I stroked with my right hand for instance, instead of alternating sides with my breathing like the classic race swimmer. I got two good things out this exercise.

The breathing-every-two exercise forced me to practice keeping the lead arm extended while breathing and timing the breath so that my lead arm could stay extended. The extended position helps me keep my length up for speed and maintaining a good body position for efficiency. I didn't manage to keep he lead arm out all the time. But I had my arm out way more often than I've managed in the last few months. I alternated arms for 5 or 6 laps and then settled on my better lead arm for the last 5 laps of the night. (My better "lead" arm is my right arm for those of you dying of curiosity.)

I also practiced better breathing technique. Since I got to breath with every stroke, I could breath more shallowly. Since I could breathe more shallowly, I could breathe more quickly. Since I could breathe more quickly, I could keep my "front" arm out front more easily and maintain my velocity better. I even managed to breathe in the little trough that forms from my head pushing through the water. That only happened a few times. I happened often enough for me to start remembering how it feels.

So all in all, I had a good night swimming. I felt efficient. I played with my body position and swim mechanics and I started getting some relaxed strokes going. Twenty *better* laps than the last time I beat water for a thousand yards.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

If only I could swim like this...

Ice is bad for bicycles

When it's on the ground, anyway. Twenty two degrees and no wind with a clear sky means the commute should'a been pleasant. I had enough clothes on that I was warm. My feet needed another pair of socks, but I can solve that tomorrow. I didn't suffer from cold or overheating from my exertions. The streets had been reasonably clear of snow and ice from yesterday. The patches I had been through hadn't affected my traction or balance too much. And then I hit the top of the floating section of the Esplanade. I tracked right just a little too early at the top of the rise and my rear tire slid out from under me. My right knee, my right hip and my pride all bruised in one go. [sigh]

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Coming along swimmingly

I made it to the pool two more times this last week. I got surprised by a swim meet at my normal swimming location (Columbia Pool) on wednesday. It's not like they had signs or the dates called out in their Fall Schedule or anything. So I rode my bike home and got directions for Dishman Pool and drove over there to get 45 minutes of swimming.

I didn't swim very efficiently. I couldn't find my rhythm or efficiency in my stroke. I beat the water for about 14 laps and then called it good. I ran the clock all the way out to closing time. I felt nowhere near as efficient as I had Monday night. Disheartening.

I headed back to Columbia Pool on Friday night. I like Friday nights at the pool. There's only an hour of open swimming but they have 6 open lanes so I generally don't have to share with anyone. I stroked out 15 laps at Columbia and while I never linked a full 50 yards together, I did have a mini breakthrough on my breathing. And I fiddled with some of my posture during the swim. It felt more productive than Wednesday night.

Hopefully I'll see some improvement in distance over the next couple of weeks.

Sometimes Winter Storms come true

Portland newscasters spent the last 48 hours reeling off continued warnings that we would have snow and sleet and ice. And it could get very dangerous on the roads. And shut the city down. And snow. And ice. And danger. It seems that the news here goes through this "winter is coming" drill at least 4 or 5 times a winter and nothing hits the city. The west hills get a dusting of snow. Or the winds blows hard but there's no freezing precipitation.

Well, they got it right this time. We got snow today. And winds and low temperatures. It's snowed off and on since early this morning. Dev and I saw a pickup facing three quarters the wrong way around noon today. The truck had its back wheels on the other lane of traffic. The passenger section rested gently (even comfortably) on the raised concrete median. The front wheel sat on our side of the road divider. The truck didn't seem very chewed up for all that.

We've spent most of the afternoon holed up at home since. We took Cowboy out to the park to play in the snow. Moxie and Boj started the expedition with us but soon turned around declaiming that "We'd never make it across the park and we were mad to try!" Cowboy disregarded their pessimism and create two snow angels for our amusement. We then hurried to join the deserting chihuahuas inside the house. Cowboy sat staring at the snow longingly since.

Monday, December 08, 2008

18 is also less than 20

But 3 is more than zero!

Eighteen 50 yard runs in the pool is what I managed tonight. Which is less than my ostensible 1000 meter per swim night goal. I did, however, get three 50 foot laps without needing to stop at the 25 meter mark. And they were my first laps of the night. I then reeled off 5 more laps where I made it about 40 meters before I completely wound out my wind.

And then Staff Sergeant Evan Smith walked into Columbia Pool.

He works out at Recreate with me and Dev and the crew. And he's in Air Force Reserves. In rescue, or something. Something that involves a lot of swimming and rescuing people. And he wanted someone to swim with outside his Air Force crew. So I stepped up. Evan joined me at the pool tonight after a few missed connections. He gave me some pointers based on what he could see. Then he swam the length of the pool underwater, underneath me to watch my form. So he's a big friggin' show-off to boot ( I kid, I kid!)

Between him and Dev, I'll have some killer form in the next few months!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

17 is less than 20

Back to swimming tonight. And it looks like tomorrow night, too. Good thing swimming is a low impact activity. I had a brief hiatus this month. I last hit the pool on November 18 (also a Tuesday). The Thanksgiving and a lot of madness hit. I got distracted and lazy. So I couldn't capitalize on my performance that night. I got up to 20 laps that night. My flow wasn't great. And my energy and enthusiasm hit a pretty low ebb. But I made 20 laps.

And then I stopped swimming for two weeks.

Good news is that my form is still not too bad. I felt like I swam pretty well. I had two or four lengths where I actually felt efficient and not too out of breath by the time I reached the end of the lane. Bad news is that I could not string any of these good lengths consecutively. [sigh] My left calf near the ankle decided to seize up in a pretty painful cramp, too on lap 17. So I finished the lap and called it good. I'll be back tomorrow night for more.