Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last Day.81

I haven't "celebrated" New Year's Eve since 1979 or so. Just another day. One more spectacular sunrise. Plus, I don't need a reason to get any more silly than I already am.

My uncle Fred once commented that I shouldn't drink because I was dull enough sober.

For reasons that should be glaringly apparent, I have never forgotten his astute observation.

For whatever reasons, the heart thing, the aging process, my tolerance to minor unpleasantness, I have had to closely monitor both the speed and volume of my consumption. Right now I am nursing a headache on the starboard side that runs from temple to toe. This quasi-agony despite the warfarin, amiodorone and two ibuprofen.

Oh well.

I must be getting soft.

I do, however, take great pleasure in the after-workout beer we have come to use as a reward for a spin-set in the PB. Nothing tastes finer upon completion of 45 minutes of precision studio cycling. True, it is very Pavlovian but we could do a lot worse, or a lot less, to balance casual input with effectual out.

So I will try to do something wholesome and constructive tonight. After all we have a spin class at 0845 tomorrow and I preached the value of a good start in this morning's class.

And with some additional sobering news, after a long and honest review, I have decided to continue this madness anther year. After all, over the course of the last 365 days we have successfully increased readership by over 200%. How could I ever pull the plug on that level of achievement? Who knows maybe in the coming 365 we could do what everybody else seems to be doing and ask for your financial support to keep us going. I did the math and if every reader pledged a mere $2,500 I could justify the immense time demands that this blog requires on a daily basis.

How's that for dull?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Day 358.80 Don

In our marketing meeting this afternoon we brilliantly deduced that what we need is maximum exposure at minimal cost.

Which is very much like saying all I want is to be happy, debt-free, safe and secure behind the wheel of a paid for, dependable, economical and stylish new car.

On almost every campaign I have ever been a part of, this was the case. The one exception being a flawlessly executed gorilla promo we did for Nike one year in Kona. Other than that, this is of course, what EVERYBODY wants.

What we do central to its success. We need a plan. From where do they come? Is there a bank somewhere we can take a promo-loan at five or so percent? Where do the big guys, the agencies, get their ideas? Aisle 29 at Home Depot?

You know where.

We sit (sometimes walk, cycle or swim) with the goal on the right side of the brain and the strategy, tactics and theme on the other.

With practice, with a confluence of confidence and with a little cosmic inspiration (remember the maximum exposure part) an idea, as campaign starts to emerge.

And then it gathers momentum as the myriad elements magically fall into place. Then all you need to add is the budget to make it happen. How easy is that? (Don Draper might say.)

I was reminded of this twice (so far) today. Once was the obvious think-tank with the client and the other something I heard long ago (also at this time of year) and read again this morning with coffee. In its broad reaching message, one applicable to both marketeers and athletes on the cusp on pulling the trigger on a game plan for the coming year, it goes something like this:

PLAN WITH AUDACITY AND
EXECUTE WITH VIGOR.

I really like that one.

Maximum exposure at minimal cost as proxy for audacity and fearless execution.

Are we ready?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Day 357.79 as a Musician

If you are a musician, you are familiar with the phrase.

Represents a repeat, that more practice is necessary to achieve improvement.

There is a paucity of flow, something in there, somewhere, needs the attention vital for the seamless transition that the author obviously had in mind when she penned the piece.

There is opportunity.

There is hope.

There is the yang of dedication and the yin of devotion required to move closer to (musical) enlightenment.

There is love. For we simply do not spend precious time on activities for which we have no passion.

If you are a musician you know how to focus and relax, for these states allow the tonal dynamic and vibratory clarity to emerge. You know about fast, but not too fast. You know that you shouldn't be sharp or flat, but natural (sorry.)

If you are a musician you know about magic. You know how to communicate. You know the accents, the subtle changes in pitch, time and feel. You know the true meaning of listening. You both hear and feel what your band mates are saying in response to your notes. You give of yourself to be led and you crave the crescendo. 

You know the absolute and frightening nirvana of the solo. You eventually learn that there is no place to hide. You know the route to Carnegie Hall.

You know that beginnings are just as important as endings. Your experience has provided a wisdom that allows the middle to play itself as present between past and future. You respect the now. You are truly here.

There are enough metaphors connecting music to athletics that for the sake of brevity I will end them here.

With one last phrase to conduct us from the rehearsal of 2014 to the recital of 2015. You know the phrase.

LET'S TAKE IT FROM THE TOP.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Day 356.78

One would think that after 78 days (the number to the right of decimal point) I would be somewhat adapted to the new cardio-regulator (pacemaker.) While the days seem to provide a sometimes heavenly and adequate response to physical demand, the nights are pure hell.

It might have something to do with staying up late last night to finish The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy, where protagonist Billy Parham, finally back from his third trip to Mexico, this time to bring the bones of his dead brother back to the US for a 'decent' burial, ends up on his knees, hat in hand, in the middle of the road in the pouring rain, weeping for his lack of understanding, or complete understanding, of life and death. Mostly death. He wants desperately to know more of this elusive secret.

That is what I tried to deal with last night, the first in my new abode. With chest pressure and inability to relax to the point of sleep, I rise from the never-world of half asleep and half not, I stand and consider that reality of the fact that I am closing in on death with every breath, coming to the here and now conclusion that this might just be that. Caught in the double-blind I fully accept the situation for what it is, or might be; When at deep rest my heart is incapable of regulating blood flow, causing abnormal periods of lack of oxygenated blood to brain. This causes a subliminal physiological reaction know as the nightmare. I mean seriously, what is it like to die in your sleep? Is that myth about dreaming of your death causing its waking reality true? Additionally, why (the heck) is this plaguing me so? Why just at night (mostly?)

I have no idea as to the accuracy of the above prognosis. I may be off my a mile. But I know my dream mode of operation. I have been paying close attention to them since my days as Carlos Castaneda's literary apprentice. I really don't know why this is so. I wish I did.

My spin is that even more attention must be paid to every waking moment, and then try (or try less) to relax into rejuvenation and restoration with the rise of every moon.

I may be apprehensive. I might be scared. I might be missing one critical element in all this. Dunno.

Today I will continue the move, more boxes migrating North and South on SR 305. I try to lesson the load of keepsakes. I have become better at this, deciding to give a lot away instead of hoarding. I don't need a tenth of what I have found. I did stumble upon some long lost and almost forgotten mementos in my addition by subtraction drill last night. I am treading lighter on this path. Every time I find a picture of an old friend, a lettre d' amour, a magazine article, a journal entry or artifact from the past tense, I smile and thank whomever for their part in my puny drama. A lot is leaving fast, but the past is generating present joy.

Still I wake at midnight with history at hand, heart trying to keep pace, heroically but in vain.

What is all this about?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Day 355.77


I suppose it is that time of year.

You know, the rite of the resolution.

When we select something important and give it half our attention and effort for about two weeks.

I am as guilty as anyone.

This is what my typical New Years resolution looks like:

"I will give my best effort to achieving my training and racing goals
." Or,

"I won't eat crap." Or,

"I will not drink before the sun has set." Or,

"I will not be an asshole more than twice a day." Or,

"I will get a real job." Or,

"I will read, paint, compose, write, edit, produce more." Or,

"I will put into my savings account 20% of every penny I make."

Does any of that sound familiar? You too?

Hey, at least this time last year, I put foot directly in mouth pledging to make a blog post every day! Remember that? I sure as heck do.

But let's take a quick look at why (almost) all of the above fail year after year.

TOO VAGUE.
NO ACCOUNTABILITY.
DIFFICULT TO TRACK PROGRESS AND IMPROVEMENT.
RIDICULOUSLY OUTRAGEOUS AND UNACHIEVABLE.

I think this year I will resolve to follow the advice I heard in spin class this morning. Went something like this: The way to know if you are doing your best is to synergize mind and body. Once accomplished, your soul, spirit and passion will tell you if this (whatever it is) is your best or a cheap imitation.

I want to do my best. My best everything. Start to finish, day in and day out.

How is that for a outrageously unachievable, undefinable and subjective, obscure and untraceable bit of muddied tripe?

Yeah, I like it too.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Day 354.76 as Student

I am always the student.

Always, no matter what, where or when.

Furthermore, there is an art to being a good student. We have trod this terrain time and time again. Dave Matthews might call it 'treading trodden trails.'  It is glaringly obvious what is coming next, is it not?  It is also unbelievably hard to master.

The art of paying attention. My high school baseball coach suggested to me as a sophomore that I could be an A student if I paid as much attention to history, Spanish and mechanical drawing as I did to hitting behind the runner, turning deuces and reciting the infield fly rule. At the time it was my deep understanding that none of those scholastic traits were necessary for the professional ball player.

I guess you know the result of that error in judgement.

All my buddies went on to successful and lucrative careers, one even went to the Hall of Fame. I went to work.

Today, some forty-five years later, I can not only see my failure, but practice every day to ensure it won't be repeated. At lest in the areas where I have some control.

Could it really be as easy as simply paying attention? I can hear the debate, 'no, there is more,' and there is, because paying attention is half the battle, the other being to act upon the information that your attention has gleaned.

So I practice being a good student. Both parts.

We used to say that the goal of the student is to become the teacher. Maybe the best teachers were once the best students. I continue to feel that the greater good calls for teachers creating more teachers.

With the best of them always the student.

Off to class then.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Day 353.75 What if?

Merry Christmas to all. Read this morning that the reason why this day is celebrated with so much gusto and respect is that so many of us want give love and get love. Pretty cool and I agree with all the regularity that my heart can muster.

Also on the 'what I heard or read' list is this zinger:

'How you do one thing is how you do everything.' Wowza. After a thorough review I take this to mean things other than talents, propensities or vocations. As an e.g. everyone knows that I play the guitar WAY better than I play the cello. That isn't the point, same way that those that I have had the honor to compete with know that I ride and run WAY better than I swim. No, what I believe the author to be saying is that effort, passion, dedication, awareness and discipline are just as necessary in making your bed each day as they are in penning an award winning novella.

This certainly holds true with our training. Train like you race is another adage that pops to mind. Practice makes perfect, er, perfect practice makes perfect, yet another cliched example. You have heard all this before, but maybe with a closer examination we can find ways to improve. I know I can.

With this in mind we head intrepidly into the last week of 2014. We will examine the past, stay present and look towards the future. There will be goals. There should be dreams. While I will stop just short of asking for the bucket list, we should set our seasonal sights on what we most want to accomplish in 2015. And commit to taking that magical path one day at a time.

Asking yet another question.

What if? What if I ride up that hill with more (wind) power?

What if we did all of the above; Giving as much love as we take, mindfully and perfectly practicing everything with focus and joy. What would happen? How would it change things? Is there a more noble and courageous challenge?

What if.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Day 352.74

Looks like we're aimed at finishing (the year) with gusto.

As should be.

It has been a rough couple of weeks, heart wise. Mysterious (?) chest pains are now stinging like angry wasps. Last night as I laid in a strange, comfortable and cozy, bed (I am house sitting) the combination of pressure, aches, sharp pings and the adjacent fear that accompanies, kept me awake most of the night. This has been rather regular occurrence for at least three weeks. Last week at checkup, the nurse was underwhelmed and nonplussed by this news. You have chest pains? You have gone through some serious stuff, three aversions, an ablation and the insertion of a pacemaker over the last year, what did you expect, silly boy, a miracle?

Well, kind of, yes. At least the cessation of pain and anguish. Wasn't the sum of all that activity and medical technology, plus the pharmaceuticals and passage of time supposed to, at least, allow the occasional rapid movement of eye? At the VERY least? Well, we'll tweak the pacer parameters and see if that helps any.

It has not.

But we mustn't tarry, as there is not a moment to lose. Pragmatically meaning that if that aforementioned strong finish (not the metaphorical one) is to be flawlessly executed, or even stumbled through, there will be no rest for the weary.

I must empty my storage unit, move the important stuff (?) to the new place, store the rest in the RV, move it into storage and set up shop in the little house. All by Dec. 31, now a not-so-distant seven days away.

As long as I keep after it we should be able to meet the deadline, and thus save me $125 in storage fees (all goals are not created equal.)

So here we go. I am off again down the highway of new adventure. I wish I would learn the lesson of light living as well as I have learned the lesson of light traveling.

Pack light. Always.

And finish strong.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Day 351.73 Smile!

With very few exceptions, everything I do…I could do better.

Since we are steamrolling up the hill to a new year, I think it a good exercise to consider (one step away from a resolution) where we could, and more importantly HOW we could, do some, if not all, of those things better. Let us snapshot.

How we do anything better is the matter of great debate, however there are commonalities requisite for whatever path of enlightenment we choose. You can pray for it, chant for it, meditate upon it. More materially you can buy it, rent it or lease it. I guess I could commute 'better' in a Tesla, but that is not my meaning.

I am much more interested in the prerequisites listed first. I pray every day by way of gratitude and attention. I chant every day by way of singing the song of my heart and I meditate every day on the 'meaning' of it all (or the lack thereof.)

When all this is rendered down it leaves two clear and precise elements necessary for 'betterment'.

1) Fine tune awareness. There isn't a single thing that cannot be improved by the dedicated focus of awareness. It has been suggested that energy flows where your awareness goes. Send it lazer-like towards everything that you beam into your life. Stay awake. Do more than look; See, feel and taste. This is a miraculous place simply awaiting your attention to transform. I WILL ADD AN ADDITIONAL MEASURE OF AWARENESS TO MY PERSONAL MIX OF EXPERIENCE.

2) Gratitude. I am the first one to admit that sometimes things are, shall we say, painful? There is a reason. We may not yet understand it, by there is, there always is, a bigger plan. Life isn't supposed to be fair. We are born by our nature to face suffering and eventual death. If you live long enough disease will surely come your way. There is no logical reason why someone who uses the body as much as I do should end up being betrayed by it. I WILL BE HUMBLE AND HAPPY THAT I AM HERE, NOW, TO EXPERIENCE ALL THIS, GOOD & BAD, PLEASURE & PAIN, SUNSHINE & RAIN.

I truly think that if I am able to up my game in these two areas, awareness and gratitude, everything else will subsequently and harmoniously fall into place. Or, a touch more banally, there is only one rule:

DON'T BE AN ASSHOLE. From there the rest is easy.

Say cheese!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Day 350.72 a Box of Rain

Just a minor inconvenience.

Drove to the 'office' this morning with a squishy right front. Not a lot of options if the Ranger wasn't  going to get me there. My fixie is also nursing a similar condition and besides I needed to get there a LOT faster than it would take me to ride in the dark without a headlight.

She started to pull to the right indicating that I was losing air at a rapid pace. But we were making progress and I vowed that until I saw actual sparks fly we would press onward. I sigh in relief as we pull into the usual spot next to the dumpster. Irony mixed with resignation.

She would need emergency road care.

This is, as you might have guessed, where the fun begins. I walk into the warmth of the club, check in, head into the locker room. Where I vow that I will not allow the thoughts of 'why' creep into consciousness at any time over the course of the next hour. It is, after all, one of the main tenants of our sessions; Focus on the now. Allowing my predicament to affect my workout would be very similar to having sex with Jane while thinking about Julie. 'Be the now' I pledge, starting down the hall and into the cycling studio.

I start the session with the first song, a deeply spiritual and beautiful ballad called Box of Rain, penned by Phil Lesh and preformed by the Grateful Dead from their seminal county-rock-folk album American Beauty.

I almost cry. I have so many good memories of this album. And although it is not a classic spin tune, I selected it as lead-off hitter last night because of the happiness tone it resonates with passion and honesty, two qualities very high on my values list.

Almost 50 minutes later I laugh out loud. The flat tire and its subsequent  grease under fingernail labor pops into the forefront of my mind. I almost made it the entire session and smile with the echoing words of Dan Millman who once said that anything less than the end of the world in simply a minor inconvenience.

"Such a long, long time to be gone, and a short time to be there."

NOTE: Somebody did a lot of homework for me yesterday combing the entire year to find the discrepancy in my Days vs actual. I appreciate this effort immensely. If you are interested in seeing EXACTLY where I have errored, please see yesterdays comments. Thanks anonymous!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Day 349.71 as portmanteau

With all due respect to linguists everywhere, I am fond of their term for "joining two distinctly different persons, places or things together to form a word containing the combined definition and meaning of each."

You will no doubt quickly see through the smoke and mirrors of this camera obscura to find the term known as a portmanteau.

With my favorite portmanteau being the one that your humble servant created while in the endorphin fueled state of anaerobic intoxication.

Having nothing to do with wine, my port is the most sober and staid synergy of the two elements crucial in the achievement of our health and fitness goals, as pursued by our indoor training.

The word is technitude.

One part technique and one part attitude.

We need to bring as much 'good and proper form' to our exercise as possible, this being the technique part of the word with equal parts attitude, a condition that should go without additional verbiage.

You put these two together and you are on to something. A legitimate portmanteau if ever there was one.

Like edutainment. Or like moving into a new space as farrago of karma and opportunity.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Day 348.70 on Data

I read this week that for many people success comes as one's ability to process and relay information. Mostly data. E.g., what do all these numbers signify and how can they be used to push an agenda (most of the time to result in the exchange of cabbage commodities?)

I think that is a good commentary. I juxtaposed its wisdom to what we do and came away with another concept altogether by simply substituting the results from money to power. We conduct a test to determine capability. It is all data. What we do with it becomes the challenge. So we relay the data to our energy production centers (big muscle groups) in precise and controllable amounts in order to bring about adaption. Data in and power out.

The antithesis is, of course, that not everybody sees this wonderful opportunity. A lot of folks read newspapers, blogs, reports, 'zines and anything else they can wrap their bifocals around. THEY DO NOTHING WITH THE ACCUMULATED DATA. Same with our athletes, they do the test (in one form or another) only to default to comfort zones when the real opportunity calls to leave that zone behind like a bad habit and move into a new, more powerful, efficient and sustainable one.

Zones are defined by even more data. Let us mine. We want to be in a percentile of the zone that offers the most reward for our training expenditure, as measured by time, space and money spent to accrue.

Interestingly, all this doesn't have to be rocket surgery, it is, comparatively, easy. Get some good, current data. DO THE TEST. Then commit to the process. Meaning some energetic movement every day, training in zones and adding its accompanying cohort in goal attainment, a solid diet with adequate rest, and…..

…..YOU HAVE IT. Good info in and productive data out.

Of course there are people that refuse both the test and the discipline necessary to adapt. There is plenty of data on that demographic, and as I am not interested in some one who is not interested in his or her own self, the equation, the physical one, is lost by apathy or distraction. More mining: One might be  be the most successful capitalist in the world, but if you cannot spend the fruits of that labor (or trust fund) in good health, you have yourself a nice definition of a false dichotomy.

Let's pay attention to the comings and goings of data. Let's use that information to our benefit. Let's accumulate solid and accurate intel and put it to use as our servant.

Or it might well become your master.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Day 347.69

Is there, should there be, a seasonal grace period, where we soften our rigid training and dieting regimen?

Short answer is yes. Because we social animals need the brotherhood and companionship (sometimes) neatly tied in a velvet crimson bow at this time of year.

We need to connect with family and friends. Nine times out of ten this involves food or drink of some sort. Last night we sat, ate pizza, hummus and a tin of delicious cookies, paired with several rounds of craft IPAs. It was fun, it was joyous and it nicely made an early segue from the fiery disaster that was 2014 to the hope of a better 2015. All meaning that the 5K of calories consumed could, with focus and intent, set the foundation for a 5K PR come the new year.

So please do not worry. Eat, drink and smoke MaryJane. Hoist a toast to the enemy. Thank them for giving you the opportunity to compete. Life is WAY to short to carry grudges, bottle anger and frustration and allow anything but goodness and positive energy to carry your days.

Interestingly, I am loading up on workouts, volunteering for as many classes as I can, this to help out those that have family commitments, but mainly to partake of my own medicinal advice. Because you have heard this before:

THE BEST WAY TO GET BACK IN SHAPE IS NOT TO GET OUT OF IT.

With the fait accompli adage that a little bit of something is better than a lot of nothing. If this has already happened, fear not. We can start tomorrow. Choose your enemies wisely. I guarantee that those empty (but fun) calories from fat are exponentially more difficult to lose now than they were twenty years ago.

But lose them we must.

Please push back, just say no and close the other cheek. Nobody needs three slices of pecan pie ala mode.

NOBODY.

Don't let this happen to you Merry Ladies and Gentlemen.

But if it does, may it be with smiles and hugs surrounded by those we love.

Then it's OK.

Until I see you in class where I will show no mercy and leave you willing to pay any price for cessation.

Hope you have enjoyed the grace period.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Day 348.68

Spent the day under surveillance at the medical center. We did some tests, tweaked the pacer and exchanged antidotes. I am amazed at the technology that goes into all this. Seriously. We tried no less than than three times to avert the A-Fib, once to ablate and then decided (I had a vote, but deferred) to slice and dice, add the pacer. We downloaded all the data from the last 45 days and it appear that the combination of electronic stimulation, regulating the rate, and the amiodorone/warafin combination has kept me in sinus rhythm with impressive consistency.

But wait, it gets better. After my narrative on the symptoms and the sorry saga of the last two weeks, the assistant MD suggested that we tweak the pacer. So she hooks me up with a sensor and changes the range on the lower end to 70BPM adding ten to the regulation. I say, 'what about sleep?'. She responds with the information that we can tweak that too, how about 50BPM between 2200 and 0500?

You can do that?

Done.

WOW.

After the visit it was time for the Thursday workout where I very attentively preformed a 2x20 set at 180 watts. HR was around 120 for both sets. It was hard but OK.

We had a low-key Christmas Party after featuring pizza, hummus, cookies and exotic beers.

After a drive home in the pouring rain, I sit pondering the reality that I am no longer in charge. It is all electronic. I have been programmed. Daily I consume medicine that keeps me from arrhythmia and stroke. I cannot go too low with heart rate. I am programmed to sleep between very precise hours. Everything is recorded.

I am not sure I like that. It is very big brother-ish.

But I suppose it is better than the alternative.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day 347.67, 242?

An elaborate metaphor it is. Irony, karma, cause and effect rolled into one life-sized ready-to-eat circumstance.

Finding an opportunity in last week's paper, I light out to spread the word on my availability. The conceit of a video resume in production, printed resumes updated and tailored to suit, schemes of future vagabonding underway, I realize the need to act. Do something today.

I see two options. One is to increase revenue. Hence the resume and video. Two is to cut overhead to the bone. Reduce, reuse and recycle, as they say. Which is like telling a starving man that he needs to diet.

None of this is going to happen without my willful intent of making it so. If it is to be - it is up to me. I must act in the direction of my goals.

Make more. Spend less. Or the best combination of that pair that I can colorfully assemble.

I get an e-mail from an old friend. She is in NY en route to Europe. She and her professorial husband are going to be traveling a lot next year, and would I be interested in acting as estate caretaker, including the 'little house' as quarters.

I see 'spend less' in glittering neon but more importantly I feel the beautiful energy that the little house brings to my soul upon every entry.

They are wonderful, generous, happy people. I like them a lot. They have been in my classes for over a decade.

I say it would be an honor to provide the service. I see the little house with its magnificent view of the water, surrounded by her harden, in the shadow of their exquisite, contemporarily rustic, Sunset magazine home.

I smile. I laugh. I give silent thanks.

Now, if the Museum calls to offer the marketing position, I'll go two-for-two today.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Day 346.66

Here we are. Victorious at the finish line.

Everybody likes lists. They are a quick read, concise and sometimes thought provoking. They can be silly as well. We listers take our chances and roll the dice. What is there to lose? I decided to do mine by month. Covering each up to this point.

Without additional ah, do-do, here are the twelve items I have gleaned from my day timer that represent each month's high (or low) lights.

JANUARY - Despite numerous tests and rests, I stayed consistent with spinning and running, posting a PW (personal worst) 5K time of 32:41.

FEBRUARY - Switched cardiology Docs and made the HUGE decision to sell the cabin.

MARCH - Was victim of locker room theft. What I once thought I had, was no more. The big yard sale went down.

APRIL - After thirty years, I voluntarily drove down the dirt lane with the cabin in rear-view mirror. Shot Austin, TX bike course.

MAY - Shot St. George, UT course. Made beer.

JUNE - Competed in the Blue Lake Triathlon, Atlantic City shoot.

JULY - Cardio aversion procedure (failed) Vineman triathlon shoot.

AUGUST - Obtained moto endorsement. Back to Lake Placid. Cardio ablation procedure (failed). Another cardio aversion (failed).

SEPTEMBER - Back to Madison ,WI. DC, Cambridge, Augusta shoots.

OCTOBER - Had the pacemaker installed (successful) and bought the RV to celebrate.

NOVEMBER -  Junior & George's B-Days and movie spin in PB.

DECEMBER - Well here we are. As I am fond of saying in response to questions of my health, "I'm still here."

I will additionally resolve to make the twelve in 2015 a touch less dramatic and a pinch more adventurous.

I there a better time and place to start?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Day 345.65 in the Bus

                               HAVE BUS - WILL TRAVEL

I own a 33 foot RV in Seattle outfitted for fun. I know it is warm and sunny in Mexico. If you have money for gas and food, like adventure and the Pacific Coast, we should talk, 'cause I am ready for some epic. 360.674.8128. Cheers!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Day 344.64 Albert

They say that records are made to be broken. I insist that some are not...

I wake at the usual time, take the three steps to the bathroom, empty bladder and return to the warmth, comfort and the three more hours that await. It is Sunday and I have no commitments until 0900.

I put another piece of the puzzle together, enough to, perhaps, crack the code. A broken record is stuck playing the same passage over and over in the headphones of my sleeping mind.

It came to mind during the last REMs of the night. Wasn't even a song, it was a couple of lyrics. Which of course started the fascinating mind game of name that tune. Amazingly enough, I was able to string together some more lyrics and almost had the chorus. I had the melody and the time signature, but the band and their song (was it a B side dog?) remained in copyright and out of my memory files.

Relaxing and chuckling to myself, I breathed deep into the morning's unspoiled calm.

I will sleep on it and all else failing, Google it in the marooning.

Which I did.

The lyric was "high school - my school."

The song was Albert Flasher.

The album was Share the Land (or Greatest Hits)

The band was the Guess Who.

It was 1971. Mike and I had just rented our first apartment. It was a tiny studio convenient to 405, which helped us both as I had a 50 mile commute to school and he a short haul to work. I think the rent was $175. Gas was .40. I found out quick that feeding oneself meant shopping, cooking and cleaning. The commute after practice left precious little time for homework and partying with my cheerleader GF. Homework lost. And then I lost my GF.

I felt horrible but still had to shop, cook, clean, commute, work, sleep.

I was a mess, learning a lot of life's important lessons in a woefully short period of time. My GPA sank as did my batting average. I got fired from my job, crashed the car.

One night I started to sob, knocked down by the enormity of the decisions I had made and their disastrous results. 

My friend, roommate and pit-buddy put an album on our makeshift (but very proficient) stereo. He lifted the arm of my Gerrard turntable and played this song, as a reminder, according to legend, that things, however bitter at present, have the potential to get better. Further, it is recorded that we are all in this together, and please never to forget that you have brothers and sisters that care.

I guess my subconscious was playing that theme again last night.

...like a broken record.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Day 343.63 WHY?

We talked this morning as we rode stationary bicycles indoors. I am the leader. I get to design the workouts, select the musical accompaniment and ensure that morale is maintained throughout the 90 minutes.

It isn't always that easy. Rarely, in fact. There are as many reasons as to why we do this as there are people who do it. There are, and here is the topical point I pounded today, also as many reasons why NOT.

We know a lot of whys. The weight control why. The health and fitness why. The social interaction why. The improvement why. The fun why. I could go on.

I ask for a review of the why, the reason(s) that we do this to such a degree of precision and execution. I call out the most basic situational negative known to all athletes. The why not.

The insidious Central Governor has the awesome responsibility of keeping you from harming yourself. She is a built-in 50 amp fuse. You cannot go past maximum, an oxymoron if ever there was. Worse, the CG constructs, creates and devises excuses to keep you from even doing the damage necessary to bring about cellular change and physical adaptation. The Rolodex of why nots.

This, I explain, gasping for air, is the face of the enemy. The why not bastard.

I ask over and over to embrace the why. To own your why. To improve the why when in the danger zone. Anybody can have a strong sense of why when the effort is contort zone or less. ANYBODY.

What separates us from the cheetah and barracuda is our ability to talk ourselves out of maximum effort. The why not.

Know your why I shout (over a Jimi jam). Practice its meaning in the the firefight of the moment. Trust your inner why, not your outer why not.

Do you hold your why, your meaning, in your head or in your soul? The combination of physical and mental training creates a glimpse at spirit.  The very soul of the matter, where meaning is clear. There awaits the most powerful force in the universe. Your why, your purpose and meaning, ready to act.

Know your why.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Day 342.62 Conflict

Conflict resolution.

I suppose, much like everything else, there are folks who are good at it and others who are not.

I am squarely in the latter camp.

I am quick to anger, quick to judge and even quicker to shoot from the hip. We have issues? See you at High Noon.

I understand that practice would help, and Lord knows I have been getting lots lately, and I may be improving slightly, but it never feels right.

Feels more like I have won a race by exploiting the rules, taking advantage of a situation for personal gain. I feel a smaller person results from the exchange instead of the growth opportunity so readily at hand.

Compromise, a win-win, fairness, justice, common sense, peace, wholesome but rare.

Somebody feels wronged, fights back, seeks mediation.

I suppose if the mediator is 100% objective it can work, but when was the last time you asked the opinion of a person meeting that criteria?

Seems resolution creates more conflict, a deeper more complex resentment for the other party.

Is this human nature, like that horrid slogan asking that we never forget 911?

I don't like being in the middle. I much prefer to make my own decisions and live with the consequences; Do this - get that. Eat well and exercise - be healthy. Think positive thoughts - become happy. Work hard - sleep well. Fly in formation - be one with others.

I am in the vise. The yin is pushing and the yang pulling. Unreasonable people acting like children deprived of candy. Counsel to one acts like counter intelligence, spy vs spy.

I will carry on as best I can. After all I was the one who volunteered to do the one thing everyone told me not to do.

I tried to help the innocent.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Day 341.61.2 Dear Santa

'Tis the Season….

Dear Seattle Times:
All I want for Christmas from you is to immediately stop running those insipid pop up ads. Please be advised that I will NEVER buy a product or service from the pimps that chose to slime on your site.

Dear Backers of the Keystone Pipeline:
Please just stop for one moment, empty your pockets of Big Oil bribes, and think about this. No wait, don't think about it at all, just go bathe in hot sweet crude.

Dear NRA backers:
Children should not be considered collateral damage. This has nothing to do with amendments, and all to do with morals, which obviously you are of short supply.

Dear Puget Sound Energy:
We know that the right thing to do is to put your butt ugly wires underground, because it would cost a fortune which you would find some clever way to pass it through to us, so please accept my gratitude for at least advancing renewable power.

Dear GM:
Ditto for non-polluting automobiles.

Dear Montesano:
You want to patent what again? Please, and I hate to put it so bluntly and vulgarly, but go fuck yourself.

Dear NFL:
This is slavery and cheap entertainment on demand. Your pathetic attempts to hide from your responsibilities regarding your slaves concussions has gone on long enough. Man up and face the music Massa.

Dear NCAA:
See above.

Dear Santa:
I am sorry once again to inform you that I have been a bad boy every day since my last note to you, which is dated 355 days ago. Some days I was badder than others. Some days frighteningly bad. I was naughty most of the time, with precious few moments of any type of niceness. So I won't hold out for anything other than what you brought me last year.

Another chance.

Your humble servant,

R

Day 341.61, an Idea

I had a great idea today. At least it took some form today because I think it really started last night as I laid, perplexed, wondering about the future.

The subconscious took it from there and I awoke with the outline of a plan lingering like a thick fog.

I am making coffee and the fog lifts enough for me to catch a glimpse.

Everything stops. I look, listen, smell the coffee, closed my eyes and see it.

Clear as crystal.

Putting practice into play I go scrambling for my paper and pen. Write it down!

I jot ten lines of notes in shorthand to ensure creative compliance, then start to add a few real-time bells and whistles.

I go back to the coffee and consider that all good ideas are separated from great ones by simply the act of putting them into action, or not.

One can have the best idea in the long history of ideas, but not act upon them, thereby negating their value, or, one can trust the cosmos, eliminate the incessant second-guessing and get to work.

Why is this such a difficult task? Fear of failure maybe. Low self-esteem, distraction, real life commitments? Do I want an excuse or a result?

I am sipping the coffee again and pondering the possibilities.

Somehow this coffee, the absolute cheapest I could find, tastes like the double espressos I used to sip in Italy on chilly December mornings.

I have created an emotion, a memory that serves my spirit. It is good and I am energized. This spills out into every movement and motion. I am literally dancing as I vacuum the floor and make the bed. Brushing my teeth in 4/4 time.

It is just an idea. It may not work.

But we are going to try.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Day 340.60

Seems as how I now have a few HOURS suddenly available (computer issues) thought I might get the daily blog post done.

What has changed since yesterday?

Lots.

Did things get better or worse?

Time will tell, with the a 50% chance.

Did I stay true to myself and place the higher good/bigger picture at the forefront of debate?

Yes (most of the time.)

Was there something I could have done with more grace?

Absolutely.

Did I learn (finally) that lesson?

I hope so.


The quick to answer with volume and vulgarity one?

Yes, that one.

Did I go to bed happy?

Somewhat.

Did I sleep well?

Almost.

Was early morning exercise today conducted with equal degrees of balance, élan, focus and intensity?

Without question.

Was it perfect?

No, doesn't have to be, it simply is.

Was there continual improvement?

Yes.

How is the pacer/meds issue trending (a question asked twice)?

Good. I am gaining strength and stamina with each passing day. The side effects of dizziness, fatigue, brainfog and syncope are receding like the tidal flow of Puget Sound.

Did you get the shopping done?

Yes. (see photo)

What is wrong with your computer?

Haven't a clue.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Day 339.59 ???

Again I write in the attempt to clarify. For myself. To me. I know that when I write it is for me, the intimate me, the subconscious me. I do this and hope that by sharing, we may both benefit. Even the dog.

I went all the way back to the first post of this year-long journal and was shocked to find how far I have strayed from the initial intent. What was envisioned to be a medium for the advancement of my writing craft, has evolved to a rambling recapitulation of the daily issues that comprise my current state of affairs, most of them puny and pathetic.

Take this thing with my heart (please) as an example. Really, who gives a fig? We all have, most assuredly you have, issues of our own. Every once in a while I preach to the choir about things that are important to me such as food, exercise, travel, music, literature and movies. That is also redundant. You have your own tastes, favorites, likes and dislikes. Who am I to try to influence your thinking?

As surely as I have failed I have accomplished one thing, I have done this every day for the entire year. There are four days missing in there somewhere but considering the air miles, trips to the ER and hospital stays, 99% isn't too bad. Before the end of the year I will go back and try to extrapolate those four days to verify this assumption. I could have had a hangover or some other self-induced trauma.

I am somewhat proud of this minor achievement. I might continue or I might not. I does take time.

Today the perplexment comes in the form of judgement. My question is this: When you feel the decision of persons close to you are for revenge and vengeance is there any way to protect the innocent? I can't seem to find a way to remain neutral while the metaphoric right plans a coup against the left. Is collateral damage OK in this modern world? What if there are children involved? Do I have a moral obligation to dig in, hold firm and fight?

Or do I let go and take the spineless route back to my cave and pretend that I am powerless?

Is there ever such a thing as a win/win? Does somebody always have to lose?

I fell a little better now that I have sorted all this onto a log.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Day 338.58 Fat Man


Good news all the way around today. After a couple of sleepless nights, creating weary days, I got in a good one last night. Highlighted by my last thirty minutes in deep REM where I opened Little Feat's Fat Man in the Bathtub seriously hammering on my flat bar and tire iron. Even Lowell smiled at the groove (PLEASE see link.) I woke feeling artistically satisfied and thoroughly refreshed.

Which led to the pre-dawn ritual of making coffee, packing my spin-kit du jour and heading South on Hwy 305. We executed a masterful and challenging spin set and then it was over to Junior's for another morning ritual the 'off to school hug.'

As I spent the bulk of yesterday afternoon reassembling my computer in order to get back to editing, I was amazed at how the combination of a fast processor, a robust library of HD footage and the creative zeal allowed a quick, and hopefully entertaining video assembly.

As I relayed to an old friend yesterday, the pacer, now a day away from its two month birthday, is doing a great job. Most of the time. When not working (is it IT or me?) I feel faint, dizzy and on the verge of syncope (sin-Ko-pea). I must accept that fact that we are now one. When they say that you cannot have one without the other (yin & yang) this truth is painfully obvious. Yet I resist, still referring to it as merely an inexpensive foreign object inserted in my chest by skilled medical technicians to regulate my heart rate. Whoa! Silly grasshopper.

Maybe if I stop thinking about death so much it would put me in a more positive state of mind and dial-up the creative imperative setting to maximum.

Is that too much to ask?

It is not.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Day 337.57 and Tom

Had the distinct pleasure this afternoon of listening to an old friend talk about his latest novel.

He was the first of two speakers creating a mixture of people wanting to hear one, the other, or both.

You could almost separate them by author. There was the crime novel sports group  (on the left) and then there was the travel, romance, tell-all group on the right. It was like a congressional hearing or a mixed marriage seating arrangement.

As the presentation segued into the obligatory Q & A, a lady sitting in the first row confessed to being there to see the second author, but something that the fist author had said (reading from his book) caught her interest.

She asked why he had chosen MS as the protagonist's affliction. This, she informed us, because she had it.

He replied, in an honest and intimate tone, that he was diagnosed with it some ten years prior and felt he knew its insidiousness well enough to speak of it.

To which he followed with this:

"Being diagnosed with MS was the best thing that could have happened to me." In the silence that followed he added, "because it taught me the value of each and every day."

Amen brother Tom, amen.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Day 336.56 is about starting


Stress kills. Faster than cancer, a texting teen or a copperhead. There is a story (I will try to find the specifics) about a group of Shamans who felled a pine tree. Not with an ax and not with an ox. They teemed up to created an around the clock shouting vigil. They sat and shouted at the tree truck for three days. On the fourth it went horizontal. Dead from the stress of emotional violence.

Metaphorically, does this sound eerily familiar?

We are so bombarded with stress on a daily basis that I sometimes wonder how everyone isn't addicted to Zoloft, Jose Curevo or Mary Jane (or all three.)

Making matters worse is our tendency to indulge in what has become known as 'comfort food'. Nothin' like a bag of Oreos and some escapist TV, right? Heck might as well toss in a gallon of Ben & Jerry's while the commercials run.

This must end folks. Assuming, of course that you consider your health important and have set a high standard for your athletic competitions. Or from the hedonistic perspective, if you simply want to get a second look from the opposite sex (or the same if that is your preference - I don't care.)

How do we overcome our propensity for sloth? Commitment. Make exercise (workouts or training) a habit. Let me provide an example. I have been getting out of bed at 0430 Monday and Wednesdays for the last ten years. It is habitual. I like it. I love the silence and calm of the pre-dawn mornings. We hit it hard, studio cycling, for an hour and I am reedy to face the rigors of the day immediately after my shower. All this before 0700. Habit. No questions, nothing to chance. No ifs, ands or maybes.

Make a commitment. How about tomorrow? Monday at the latest. Introduce immediate change into your existence. Make it meaningful. Make it count.

Set your alarm. Get up. Get moving towards the event. Suit up. Get started. And my favorite: KEEP GOING.

Once that becomes a big part of the new you, a new mantra just might pop into your consciousness. The one about quitting. Like when we're dead.

Graphic used by permission.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Day 335.56, Merry

The Holiday Season is upon us. Can't get too far from home without hearing 'one of those songs'. Oh well. Things could be worse.

We could be witnessing full-on riots as a result of all the racial tension brought about by police miss use of power.

We could be in a nuclear war with any number of different radial groups.

Gas could be $4/gal.

Global warming could have us all racing to the highest peak to avoid tsunamis, earthquakes and floods.

Health care could be unaffordable.

Social Security could go bankrupt.

A wicked virus could invade all computer life rendering us virtually impotent.

We could live under the rule of some hybrid-fascist monarchy.

And Oregon could win the Pac-12 Championship. Against the South Champion Arizona Wildcats, a team we crushed for 59 minutes and then allowed them a last second field-goal for the win

We finished strong against OSU and WSU and have some decent momentum heading into whatever minor bowl will invite us, most likely the Cactus Bowl in Tempe. And I am still excited to watch one more game from this group of Dawgs. It has been another roller-coaster of a year, we had our moments and managed to win more than we lost. Will we be better nest year?

I hope so. But then again I aspire for world peace and global harmony.

'Tis the Season.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Day 334.55, Play Ball

One of the things I like most about being on the road, as compared to simple travel (there is a HUGE difference) is the time dedicated to 'nothing'. The Italians call it dolce far ninete (the sweetness of doing nothing.)

When I am working, on assignment, the days can be maxed with logistics and pre-event intel. Many times I have had to scramble just to get in a meal en route back to the motel for some valuable shut-eye. Sometimes there is no meal, sometimes no motel.

Despite these realities of the road, I try whenever possible to do three things, usually on my last day:

1) See (video or photograph) one of the signature, non athletic, highlights of the town, city or locale.

2) Get in a run or hike,

3) Build in some time to write.

Many times the latter has suffered at the expense of the former. Because I can usually always write on the flight, although even that is getting squeezed along with leg room.

To illustrate, on one of my trips this year I had an hour before check-out. Bags already packed, I snatched a pen and note paper from my Days Inn (Best Ideas Under the Sun®) desk and jotted a few notes. Not even notes, more concepts. Maybe it was an outline, random thoughts or a to-do list, don't recall, but just now I went searching for an external hard drive and found this memo (to self?) in my carry-on bag. It has been in storage for a while.

In case you can't decipher the notes from the photo, here is the line-up for today's game:

Relaxation
Joy
Respect
Experience
Fun - wonder
Pride
Accomplishment
Devotion
Service

Let's play ball.  How I long for a road game.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Day 333.54 Pizza

Let's face it, most of us LOVE to eat. Even us vegetarians enjoy their favorites as often as possible. I am, however, a sweet freak. I love sugar in its myriad forms of disguise. Like pancakes. Like doughnuts. Like pies. OMG!

BUT.

If we want to finish an endurance event with any modicum of speed and/or prowess, one must visit the orthodontist on a regular basis to have the sweet tooth checked.

I have heard on many an occasion something like this: "I can eat whatever I want because I exercise every day."

Yes, you can, but you will sooner or later lose the war. There comes a time when metabolism and age overpower the benefits of exercise and absorb all excess into the bodega of the gut. You will enter the wheel and tire business; No wheels with overstock of spare tires.

As we age up we must get smarter about this. We must make solid nutrition choices and give the DQs and local bakeries a wide berth. Or that is exactly what we will end up with.

Therefore, to assist you in the Battle of the Bulge, I (freely) offer the following advice:

DO work out every day.
DO drink plenty of water.
DO eat as healthy as you can.
Adding more fruits and veggies in place of you know what.
Do NOT make a habit of dessert.
Do NOT make a habit of fast foods.
Do NOT live on burgers and beer.
Do NOT eat an entire pizza in one sitting (no matter how good.)
Do NOT forget about portion control.
Do NOT eat crap in a bag (chips, cookies, candy)

That is about it. The more you do one, the easier the other becomes. Work hard and eat well.

One last thing:

DO NOT GIVE UP.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Day 332.53, The Proust Questionnaire

I found an old copy of Vanity Fair magazine at the laundromat this morning and it contained the PQ (on Wynton Marsalis) so naturally I thought I would author my version. Please feel free to do unto others as you would do unto yourself.


The Proust Questionnaire: (Link is an interactive PQ if you have the time.)

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
    Being in love

What is your greatest fear?
    Disease

Which historical figure do you most relate with?
    JFK

Which living person to most admire?
    Dalai Llama

What is the trait that you most deplore in yourself?
    Judgement of others
   
 What is the trait you most deplore in others?
    Pretentiousness
   
What is your greatest extravagance?
    Triathlon

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
    Muscle mass (lack of) and gray hair

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
    Adventure and cannot name

What is your current state of mind?
    Concerned

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
    Education

What do your consider your greatest achievement?
    Traveling the world

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing what do your think it would be?
    Eagle

What is your most treasured possession?
    My heart

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
    Being physically unable to perform

Where would you like to live?
    Kauai

What do you most value in your friends?
    Understanding

Who are your favorite writers?
    C. McCarthy, Morakami, P. O'Brian, Kerouac, E. Abbey, Steinbeck

Who are your heroes in real life?
    Dalai Llama, Dan Millman, US Military

How would you like to die?
    No thanks, not today

What is your motto?
    Always Finish Strong

Monday, December 1, 2014

Day 331.52, making a difference


We talked a little about it this morning during our 60 minute ride in the Gilded Palace of Spin. A quote somebody sent, attributed to Tom Brokow, that went something like, "Making a buck is easy, making a difference is hard." I liked that one immediately and played it like a red poker chip in the attempt to get the rest of the players to ante up their power and commitment. It seemed to work. I sometimes gauge the success of the class afterwards in the locker room (Mens). This morning's comments were particularly encouraging. Which always makes me feel like I have made a difference, however small.

Because the bucks aren't what keeps me coming back!

Secondly today, before we head out to the PB for another session, this time the very tightly controlled and precise 2x20 set, is the little gem posted above.

Let's simply change 'the kind of parent'  to the type of athlete (and coach) towards the determination of one's success. Let's also take a look at those attributes listed as a direct reflection:

Coachable
Respectful
A great teammate
Mentally tough
Resilient
Tries their best

Do you want a kid, or an adult like this on your team?
Do you want a student like this in your class?
Do you want a coach that exhibits these same qualities?
Administrators?
Counselors?
Police?
Doctors?
Politicians?
Neighbors?
The guy wrapping your burrito at Taco Bell?

I do.

Let's make a difference gang. Now. Here.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Day 330.51, cold in Washington State

Man it was cold last night. I pre-heated the RV while watching the Huskies demolish the Coogs in the 107th Apple Cup (temps in the low teens) but that had little effect on the honeymoon suite. Tonight I plan on using the extension cord for the heater and placing the down bag atop the woolie. We'll see what happens.

Seems as it has been 50 days since the pacer install, I suppose I should blog an update. This is definitely not exciting news, nothing like Danny Shelton's flawless execution of a pre-snap barrel-roll and subsequent sack of the Coug QB, but as I have mentioned several times in the past, this represents a medical history log as well as the concise and cogent social commentary you have been following for the last 330 days.

Last week was painful. Nothing acute, just floating chest pains moving from left to right, with varying intensities all week. I wish I could say that A = B, be so far I am unable to pinpoint the cause and effect. We have tweaked the meds once again and I sent off a history of cardiac activity but evidently they can't pinpoint either.

So I try to stay hydrated, take in extra electrolytes  and protein, and eat well. Sleep has been compromised and my stress levels are up, but not enough (IMHO) to warrant the symptoms. Encouragingly, my heart rate for the week of indoor training has been very consistent and even. This could be the longest stretch in sinus rhythm since the initial incident almost four years ago. Most of the time I feel good, like right now after a two hour spin (and an Apple Cup W), but those chest pains are of a different nature. More hurt than the dull ache that has been a constant companion so long now it seems normal.

I could be adapting. Or not. I go in for a check up in two weeks, so we'll compare notes then and see of we can agree to a new tack. Maybe they'll tell me to drink more beer and get a girl friend. I am quite sure they would love to see me win the lottery.

I am so glad we are done with Thanksgiving and that Black Friday nonsense. Of course we now head into an even worse nightmare for an indigent anti-capitalist, the Christmas season. Let me be clear: I HATE Christmas carols. I make E. Scrooge look like an saint. God, the commercialism and hypocrisy! I can tolerate The Little Drummer Boy, but that is it. Gag me.

Sometimes I wish I was back on the farm, in the orchard, gleefully piloting my Massey-Ferguson down manicured rows of apples, pears and cherries. With the daily, and mostly pleasant routine of bringing down the mail from the road.

The only similarities between then and now, Eastern Washington and Western, is that it is very cold on the last day of November in each.

It didn't seem to bother the Dawgs last night so I will try my best to emulate their toughness. Woof!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Day 329.50. Them Apples

Seems as how I drove to the 'office' this morning in the snowy darkness, and drove home (after a trip the the new museum with Junior, Kathy and Michael) with the crackle under foot of frozen maple leaves and black ice, I recalled two sayings from my days in the 'real' winters of North Central Washington.

1) Don't heat the place, heat the space. The translation calls for the immediate warming of where you are, not where you've been or where your heading. Heat THAT space, not the entirety of your place.

2) Tribal Elder say: White man build big fire and sit far away. Indian build small fire and sit close. I am fairly confront that number two needs no translation.

These because it is going to get cold tonight. Right now it is 29. I have one small electric heater with the impossible assignment (glad I got that one out of the way yesterday), of heating the entire 33' of the RV. Which, as an aside, has nary a stitch of spun glass, rigid or even old newspaper as insulation. As I sit and type to you the aforementioned heater is a foot away from my left knee. And the right one is freezing.

Tonight out in Pullman is the 107th Apple Cup. It will get well into the teens in the Palouse. My intrepid Huskies are coming off their best two games of the season and playing well in all three phases. Still this game always scares the hell out of me. Rivalries are like that. Toss the records aside. Go for broke. Play lights out, hair on fire. For sixty minutes. That's all. Last game for the seniors at Wazzu, with one more (a bowl game) for the Dawgs.

As we say in Huskyville, GET THE DUB DAWGS!

Washington 38 Washington State 14.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Day 328.49, Jim

Remember the ballad "The Impossible Dream"?

I have attached the lyrics in case you need a friendly reminder of what our motivation is supposed to look like in written form. Please feel free to copy and print in case you need a cheat sheet to refer to on occasion.

Because I can all but guarantee (no insurance available for this) that at one moment or another today you will need a spoonful of reminder as to why we do what we do. In many cases this condition is chronic. I know it is here.

Those of you who have raced long-course triathlon know painfully well of what I speak. There is a point along the 140.6 miles of  this war disguised as sport that you question your - pick as many as apply -  sanity, capability, ability to withstand pain, religious belief and/or metaphysical mission.

The classic query we all must answer on our path, at whatever speed, to the glory of the finish line is, of course:

WHY AM I DOING THIS?

Sometimes there is a juicy adjective tossed between the why and the am for emphasis.

I feel this is because we have a need to test. We have a soul that longs for challenge. Our bodies love this (for about 56 miles.) The only thing holding us down, much like an anchor to ship, is that little voice that screams at us to quit.

That is the dream. This is the challenge and reward. That is the moment of truth. When one gains the ability to overrule the voice and press onward, persevere, complete the mission, when a little of the miraculous gets mixed with a whole lotta  magic.

For me this has always been the meaning. Getting to the point of exhaustion, to see what I can do, to witness who I have become. It is through this experience in sport that we become the best we can be outside of it. In real everyday life.

Because its not just in triathlon that we are tested, that is a one-day proxy for life itself.

No matter how hopeless, no matter how far.

(Warning: The cheese factor on the video is five star. But great)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Day 327.48, Thanks

Ranking highly atop the plethora of things for which I am grateful are the following:

My health. I know, I know, it isn't perfect, not what it once was, and has brought me to poverty's door, but for what I have I am thankful. It could always be worse.

My happiness. We have discussed this a lot. My goal has been, for quite a while now, to be happy no matter what. Yes, I have been tested on this of late. Test away Universe!

My friends. I love my friends so much that sometimes it hurts. My real friends, the ones the step up when I need a favor. Or even when I need one to share a beer with and listen to my woeful tale of disaster narrowly averted.

Laughter. I just can't visualize anything other. There is so much joy to be experienced. Every day I find something that makes me smile. And that smile is laughter's immediate predecessor.

The natural beauty of our surroundings. Sometimes it is just WOW. The sunsets, snow on the mountains, old growth forests, deer crossing the road, the sea and the sound. Being it only the end of November, I can say it now (but probably not in two months) that I love the rain.

My family. Mom died a long time ago, eighteen years. Over that time the rest of us, my two brothers, three sisters, Dad (celebrating number 82 today) and the ever increasing niece and nephew population, have stayed relatively healthy and relatively trouble free. Both the relatives (used as pun) have had their ups and downs, but we are still here. Always a good place to start.

My teammates. We get after it. This one shares a lot with the friends category but there are the same subtleties with quality of friends as with quality of teammates. It is the sporting equivalent. The 'I got your back' promise that is the walk, as compared to the talk. You, my dear teammates, make me better. It is my deepest and most sincere hope, that the reverse is true as well.

My passions. Where would we be without them? I take so much joy from doing what we do. A long time ago I decided to make my living doing what I wanted to do, putting passion ahead of money, success, privilege and worldly possessions. Never living where I didn't want to be and doing something I don't want to do. As a result almost everyone listed above has told at one time or another that my ship, one day, will come in.

My patience. I just wonder when that ship will drop anchor.

My faith. And that it won't drop atop my foot.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Day 326.47 (for .99)

I have the need for read.

The last few cold nights have been perfect for end of the day reading. A chance to wind down listening to the narrator in your head describe exotic places, testing plot twists, villains and the requisite hero(s). To me, there is nothing like a well-crafted story.

Two of my favorites just happened to have their works on-sale (20% for seniors!!) where I shop. Because you know that I haven't bought a new garment (non-sport specific) in about twenty years. I like my Levi's faded and my ties with gravy stains. I always take a quick look at books, movies and CDs after I have inventoried the clothing department.

The Two:

Cormac McCarthy. All the Pretty Horses, No Country for Old Men, Suttree and today's score, The Crossing. Which I think I have already read, but so what, I'll ride down that dusty trail again in the hopes of learning something about style from CM.

Patrick O'Brian. He of Master & Commander, HMS Surprise, Post Captain and today's prize, Desolation Island fame. This takes some adjusting as PO is not your ordinary historian/author. Filled with colloquialisms, slang, accurate nautical terminology and usually in two or three languages, it helps if you're are a scholar, retired Navy or history fanatic. Just for grins the other day, I decided I was going to read with pad and pen in hand, jotting down every word or phrase I didn't know, till I got to ten. Which took about five pages and ten minutes. Wow. Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr Steven Maturin are the best literary duo since Jekyll and Hyde. Caution: PO wrote some 27 volumes, so be prepared. You will get hooked!

Have a great Thanksgiving eve. Me and Jr will be watching a Harry Potter DVD I found for ninety-nine cents.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Day 325.46

This one has to be brief. I am bushwhacked. It as been a long, trying day. Sent off electronic data from the pacer this afternoon. The machine/process is trick. It (wirelessly) downloads data from the unit, saves it and then sends it via modem to the cardiology department.

Where they compare the data to whatever, whomever, or however they think has value. I hope they tell me that the weekend was a wild one, because even without the Husky victory over OSU, the pump was wild as a goose. If they confirm this, they will probably increase the dosage of the wicked drug I am currently taking as a anti-arrythmatic (if that is a word.) Yuk.

We shall see, The last time (first time) that we did this procedure the data matched up nicely with, WOW,  the blog data. Meaning every time I told you that we had a killer workout, a DGwo, or that I felt like shit, it was verified by the data. Like I told my nephew tonight, that is pretty slick. To which he simply smiled and shook his head. I wonder if he is thinking, 'yikes, my two Uncles had it, my Grandfather has it and his father had it, does that mean???????' I hope not.

Other than that so much is shaking that it feels like LA. Taking the G5 to the shop tomorrow for ER visit, the beautiful video I shot at the SeaGull century ride is the wrong frame rate, my sister is flying in from DC Thursday and we have no place to house her, my truck is making funny noises from the transmission area, I spent ONE HOUR on hold with the SS Admin today.....and we're out of beer.

Good news?

I'm still here (see photo.) We can build from that.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Day 324.45 Big

On paper it looks big, daunting even.

Not Ironman daunting, or 1099 long form big, or first date big, but big in relationship to last week big.

It is simply the workout schedule for the week, with Thanksgiving and Sunday's first-time event tossed in as spice.

The bigness has a trickle-down effect. Meaning that to properly execute this aggressive agenda, one must eat well, rest often and keep a focus on structure.

All of which got me to thinking about, well, what it is ALL about.

What is it all about?

After considering several angles from several perspectives, this noble concept was rendered to one notion.

Because we know that the victory doesn't always go to the fastest, the strongest, the one with most endurance or the one with better sponsorship.

Is it about money? No.
Is it about fame? No.
Is it about winning at all costs? No.
Is it about the challenge? No (but sometimes.)
Is it about improvement through practice? No (but not always.)
Is it about social interaction? No (mostly.)
Is it about teamwork? Not in triathlon.
Is it the search for beauty? No (but a great sunset always seems to help.)
Is it about good health and superior fitness? No (but close.)
Do we seek immortality? No.

So what?

What is it, or WHY is it that we do what we do? Work so hard, make so many sacrifices, suffer for our goals, spend boatloads of cash to better level the playfield?

That absolute is this:

We do all this to practice the esoteric art of experiencing the now.

Because we know that is where the magic hides. That is where we unite mind, body and spirit. That is where we refill the gas tanks of our souls. It is the miracle of mindfulness in the motion and movement of the moment. Satori.

Anything less is, to quote Pre, wasting the gift.

I am honored to have this ambitious schedule to allow me more practice this merry week.

It looks big on paper. It is HUGE in action.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Day 323.44

I started out thinking I might try a 'What we learned this week' piece. So I began.

Got as far as two. After that it went straight into a flow of consciousness diatribe on how I am feeling (not good), what the Republicans are saying they will soon think about maybe doing (none of it good) and the Huskies football team.

So I will re-title this 'Two things we learned this week'  leaving the rest to your fertile imaginations.

One: Life is short. Duh. This might be the absolute, unbeaten, untied, King of all Clichés. But it is true (as the case with most clichés.)

Contrasting my stabbing chest pains with my friends incurable cancer is like comparing the sardines I had for lunch with a two hundred pound bluefin tuna. In the end (sorry) it is all the same. We are all gonna go one fine day and it almost always seems to be before we have done the things we REALLY wanted to do. Solution to number one: Do them now.

Two: The deck is stacked against us. Who is us? The poor, the impoverished, the weak, the unemployed, the sick, the uninsured, the ninety-nine percent. Those of us who used to be called blue collar. The middle class. We had just enough education to get a job that paid a living wage. But no more. I am finding this out first hand in a humbling, embarrassing, humiliating way. Try this: Get sick, pile up medical bills, lose job, run up credit card debt, watch as unpaid bills go to collections resulting in bad credit, gas at $3/per, and a loaf of bread twice that. Then try to rent an apartment. Solution to number two: I'll tell you when I find it.

Th Huskies did knock the stuffing out of Oregon State last night, so that is something.

We can build from on that.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Day 322.43

A beautiful day. Crisp morning and sunny afternoon. On days such as this, I feel like going out for a long run. Love the way the chill factor tingles my nose.

On the other side, it will most likely rain tonight and most likely continue until March or so. It will get dark. It will be gloomy, It will be damp. There will be rust.

"But the heat came round and busted me for smiling on a cloudy day."

I made the commitment a LONG time ago to do two things:


1) Allow the weather to affect my happiness.
2) By happy no matter what.

Number two, as you are aware, is by far, the more difficult. One can camp inside in front of a roaring fire, sip tea and read Robbins, Robinson or Rice, just as easily as listening to Liszt, Lynyrd or Ludwig. Keeping a rosy outlook as the rain or sleet falls outside is easy. There are many who feel that this season is too short, in fact. So a touch of drizzle ain't gonna hurt. Keeps things green and alive.

Back to number two. Now we got some challenge. Do I really mean, NO MATTER WHAT?

Yes.

No matter what. This does not mean laughing, raucous, mindless merriment. It means keeping a joyful perspective, accepting the reality of the circumstance and helping others who have not yet mastered the act. And that means a lot. To everyone. (This year I have had tons of practice following my football team.)

There will come a reciprocal time when we need all that from our family and friends. Somebody to stand with us in a time of weakness or despair. Not to tell a joke but by simply using the power of our presence to let our mates know they are not alone at this troubling, testing time. To say, no, convince them, that things will be OK. As they will be. No matter what.

It might be one of the hardest acts we will ever perform. The final scene when the curtains starts to close.

You know what happens next?

Applause. Bravo. Bravissimo.

A beautiful day. Don't let it get away.

(Oh yeah, and that football team? 38-21 tonight.)