Saturday, January 31, 2015

Day 1.31 Eternity

If one avoids the discipline of the present moment, that one has shown disrespect for eternity.

I said that this morning in spin class.

It was met with a few raised eyebrows, a harrumph, two poker faces and a quizzical look somewhat akin to what might be an animated response to someone trying to sell revolutionary round concepts to flat-land thinkers.
Run that past me again????

If you allow your desire to carry you away from pain and into a safer, more secure and pleasant status, real or otherwise, you have denied the existence of the importance of your part in history. It is not about escape. You can run and hide but time will find you.

You are avoiding the one thing that will impact your future, and immediate growth. Your very path, this amazing journey, requires you to come to grips with this reality.

If we suffer (somewhat) in class, climbing hills, adding cadence and extending the duration of each to evoke the adaptation of strength, then surely this is for a reason. I will offer that the BIG reason has nothing to do with enhanced cycling fitness and everything to do with indoor cycling being proxy for the epic trip that you call your life (and I call mine.)

This is a critical element that we must address. It is that important. It really matters.

Without moving from your current zone of comfort, you cannot grow. Our demographic (40+) faces the double-whammy of having to manage the crippling aging process as we introduce additional challenge in the form of work. And then more work. Hard work. High volume, high voltage, high energy work.

Otherwise one will ascend to the pointy part of this trip's course and suddenly head back down the hill with astonishingly speed. I speak from experience. I have been atop that hill, argued my case at the road-block and have had to adjust to the ignominy of the reverse descent. It is no fun. But it is real.

And one had better accept this fact sooner as compared to later. Because there is no later without this now. This. Now. Here.

That is how we gracefully traverse from the focus of this pedal rotation to the glory of the completed course. A hundred miles, one at a time. Ninety minutes, one at a time. A year's worth of success, one at a time. And a lifetime of awareness, one heart-beat at a time. That is why we say that the goal is the road. Not the destination.

Please dear friends stay present. Enjoy every ride, no matter the challenge, no matter the uncomfortable sensations that arise from effort. You will be rewarded.

You don't want to dis eternity.

Trust me on this one.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Day 1.30 Baby Steps

Pleased, relieved, anxious, elated, anticipatory.

Just a few additives that describe yesterday's first run since the pacer install back on October 11 of last year. It was my longest stretch on running inactivity since Ronald Reagan was in office. How's that for an extreme comparison?

Under more stable circumstances I would have simply headed across the street and onto my favorite park trail, a FLAT 1.5 mile loop, but as I no longer own property there, and have begrudgingly avoided its proximity in a rather silly display of retribution, I headed out the door from the new digs.

Instant hills. Right out of the gate. Hummmm my legs immediately complained, I kinda remember this sensation of hurt, the wild heart rate spike and the connecting ligament stress. My form was atrocious, wind labored, glutes weak. But my will was strong. Maybe not Ironman strong, but these things take time.

And I made it. One step at a time, two miles out and back. Fifteen minutes long.

Baby steps.

I have five months to ramp that into a 13.1 distance for the finish of the Pacific Crest Triathlon in Bend, OR on June 27.

On Wednesday that seemed like a million miles and and precious few days to traverse.

Today I see it as a natural progression of what we started with those first few baby steps. We're back!

And definitely in the right direction, pleased, relieved, anxious and with tremendous anticipation.

For the next set of baby steps.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Day 1.29 Ahoy

If you spent half as much time working as you do workout out, your deplorable financial state might work out better.

But then I wouldn't be following my bliss, and I thought that was the goal.

Well it is, kinda.

Kinda? It either is or it isn't, which is it?

We're talking about several levels of dynamics. You wanna be secure or do you wanna be captain of your own sloop sailing without a compass towards Nirvana Island? They say that if you follow your bliss the money will follow.

And my ship will come in?

The ship carries the gold.

And as I sit waiting at the dock, what should I be doing?

Whatever fills your sails.

Like working out?

Well, yeah OK.

The ship is overdue, maybe lost, maybe sunk, maybe now under the command of Somali pirates.

Or maybe it'll be here tomorrow.

Think I'll go for a ride. I'm not waiting around.

You could get a job.

Ahoy there.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Day 1.28 A Pill

I don't know what this means in literal terms.

I have zero insight as to what it could possibly represent to followers of Freud.

All I know is this: At approximately 0245 last night, in the midst of another of my now regular anxiety dreams, this phrase was crucial in keeping me from sudden catastrophe: SHOUT FROM BEHIND.

That is correct. In order to keep from REM disaster of the most permanent variety, I had to get out of bed, stand tall and yell.


So I did.

Upon execution of this subliminal command, I was left standing beside my futon wearing nothing but embarrassment.

Lucky that my neighbors are all visiting warm and exotic ports of call.

Maybe this twisted little morsel came as a result of my telling of the story earlier in the day, by request, of my doctors opinion of my mental state.

To be fair, I like my PCP, she is very talented and compassionate with a masters in bedside manner. But she is a doctor. And doctors will sometimes go to great lengths in the attempt to pacify by placebo. They like to prescribe.

She tried to convince me that I was depressed. The dialogue went something like:

You're depressed.
No I'm not.
Yes you are.
(louder) NO I'm not!
Look at all the bad stuff that has happened to you in the last year.
How can you NOT be depressed after all that?
Because I practice.
Practice what?
Being happy no matter what.
So despite all this physical, financial, romantic, employment and emotional trauma, you are able to stay happy?
Yes, most of the time.
Ah ha! So not all the time?
When are you not happy?
When I have weird anxiety dreams commanding me to do strange things.
I want you to take Zoloft.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Day 1.27 Eat Crow

Ten Reasons Why I Don't Eat Meat

1) Almost all commercial meat products are filled with chemicals, steroids, preservatives, hormones and other nasty shit.

2) The producers and manufacturers of meat products are not interested in your health, they are interested in your money.

3) I feel a sting kinship with all life. That means denizens of both the plant and animal kingdoms. Plants have but one 'reason' for being, animals many. Ask a service dog.

4) I cannot justify eating chicken when spinach will do. Eggs, on the other hand, provide protein without having mama hen make the ultimate sacrifice, thusly adding a layer (!) of job security as a nest egg (OK, I'll stop). Ocam's Razor speaks to this.

5) Have you ever seen a processing plant?

6) Torture is OK on humans, so therefor OK for animals too, apparently. The profit and power end must somehow justify the means. In every animal, man included, the body releases powerful hormones upon realization that the jig is about up. A fatal, or near fatal incident releases these chemicals into the bloodstream in a last-gasp effort for survival. YOU THEN CONSUME that tainted flesh.

7) When I was 17 a cheeseburger was 25 cents. I ate a lot of them. Over the years my metabolism has changed and I can no longer process the toxins sandwiched between plastic cheese and fortified patties.

8) Check on the amount of environmental damage done on a daily basis from methane, over grazing, and corn futures. We feed cows corn to sell steak to the wealthy* while the price for maize escalates towards impossible for the poor*. This makes perfect sense if you are a politician.

9) Have you checked the price of beef lately?

10) Look DEEP into the eyes of your pet. That is unconditional love. We have a responsibility to use or superior intellect* to steward the balance and harmony of the planet. We share that turf with our cousins in the animal kingdom. I wonder who really is the endangered species?

For me, it is not only about health, about economics, about fellowship, about stewardship, or about politics. It is about feeling my place in the world as sensitive, gentle and caring. I am a part of this miracle. If I am to respect its creator and myself as a part, I must respect all life. Not hunt it, kill it and eat it.

Or eat crow.

*Subject to interpretation or statistical spin.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Day 1.26 and the 11%

What do I have to say?

What is the value of what I say?

Does it make any difference?

Most of the time, a solid 90%, I feel the correct answers are nothing, not much and no.

Ahhh, but that 10%. THAT is worth all the preparation, all the practice, every bit of doubt and the entire fear-filled enchilada.

I think it is a fair ratio. After all, imagine what it would be like to have nirvana all the time. To feel like a million bucks every day. To experience love in a perfect 50/50 harmony of giving and getting. We need contrast.

As nice as this sounds, it isn't the way it is. Life is hard. It is struggle. It is painful. Worse yet, that is our very nature. We suffer, we age-up, we are prone to disease and decay. We are surrounded by violence, apathy, poverty, gross class divisions and political wars of power and pride.

How the heck do we stay centered, balanced, happy and loving in the midst of all this global strife?

I think (answering the opening questions) that one's experience, and in this case mine, is the very answer, assuming one is willing to share them. They might not be the most eloquent, the most poetic or the most colorful, but it they contribute something for consideration, another side of the same story (life on earth) or one's solution to the challenges of today, then…

…they have meaning and value. Maybe not to you. That is the chance every writer (blogger) assumes. The rule is KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. In this case the audience is me. I write to record the passage of my time here. What I have seen, heard, experienced. What I do. 90% of the time it is boring as hell, but I am never bored. I have a goal and this is a part of that bigger picture. Simply one day of many.

Does it make any difference?

Probably not.

But to me it is worth the effort. Today especially.

As I stumble my reckless way towards 11%.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Day 1.25 Teamwork

We worked hard today. I was most fortunate to have spent over two hours riding indoors, going nowhere not particularly fast, with my teammates. It was practice on many levels and I appreciated every one.

The physical. This is kind of a DUH, but represents one level none-the-less. Do something for over two hours, non-stop and watch how it taxes your system. Your heart, lungs, muscles, vascularity, ability to convert sugars and carbohydrates to energy. And my favorite (I keep saying trying to fully convince myself) the mental acuity to hold all that together in an efficient dance of grace under fire. Heck, Shiva might as well be our captain.

The mental. Mentioned above. One has to steady oneself to the long term, as the term passes one moment at a time. When the going gets rough, the term is sends.

The spiritual. We have said it before and I think it warrants another visit (in the form of a reminder) that one discovers one's soul when we powerfully combine the body and the brain. In our practice we assign indoor cycling as proxy. On the blackboard (this is old school) see: Mind + Body = Spirit.

The communal. We do this as a team because we don't have the discipline, dedication or desire to do it alone. There is high octane value in this. I will not give up because that degrades us all. I will not let the team down. I will suffer and be willing to endure almost anything (waterboarding and fingernail removal are exceptions) to put the team ahead of myself. Your ego is not your amigo (unless required at the finish line.)

The personal. As a result of this incredible team effort, I sit now and type a report trying to make sense of it. My soul is aglow even as my poor body gamely tries to recover. I am stronger as a result. I feel wonderful. There has been challenge met and accomplishment. I am joyously fatigued. I really want an IPA but there is much left to do.

We worked hard today. I am so proud of my team.

Yet we have just begun.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Day 1.24 Everything

Everything all the time.

One of my favorite lyrics. From Life in the Fast Lane by the Eagles.

Everything; Focus, power, skill, grace, speed, élan, joy. And the your ability to bind them together with the power of presence. Your acumen and degree of mental toughness. THAT is everything.

All the time: Maybe just when you feel lit it? Maybe when you have satisfied the prerequisites of training; rest, proper nutrition and adequate situational rehearsal? When you have the time? When you get that new (pick as many as apply) bike, kit, training plan, race entry, girlfriend. Or ALL the time?

Anything less sounds off-key and out of tune.

Somethings some of the time.

Total disrespect for eternity. No honor here. No effort = No deep inner satisfaction.

The interesting thing is that well over 90% of the general population doesn't get this. And I realize that there are priorities that supersede training and racing. Good health and fitness, even.

But YOU are not in that percentile. Are you?

YOU are in the top ten percent.

And you know what it is going to take to both stay there and move into the top five.


Everything all the time.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Day 1.23 The Path with Heart

It has been said that the journey of a thousand miles starts with the a single step.

I believe this to be true. We gotta start somewhere and there is no better time than now. In fact there no OTHER time than now.

So let's get going.

With whatever needs doing. Move towards it.

That thousand miles?

Works out to be 63,360,000 inches.

Further, as an inch is to a foot as a foot is to a mile and as a mile is to eternity, we can only start, and then continue. We have to begin at some point along that path.

That journey.

THIS journey.

Let us find tools to stay motivated, inspired and strong, because there will be opportunities for distraction, elements of fear and occasions of temptation. We will think that it isn't worth the effort and head for the fridge as we surf the web.

Keep moving on this journey along the path with heart. I want for me and I wish for you.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Day 1.22 Heaven and Hell

A Samurai warrior comes to a Zen master to ask a question.

Master I would like to know if Heaven and Hell really exist.

Laughing and mocking him, the Master (in present day jargon) says don't be ridiculous, you are fat, lazy, uneducated and uncouth. Therefore no teacher in the world would answer this important question for such an unprepared person, Samurai or civilian.

The Samurai was incensed and as the Mater walked away he drew his sword intent on decapitating the ignorant monk.

Just as his sword was about to cut the Master he suddenly turned and said to the warrior, 'That, sir, is hell'.

The Samurai stopped cold and realizing he had created his own hell through pride and anger, and seeing the profundity of the Masters words, fell at his feet in humble reverence.

The Master looked down upon him, lifted the Samurai's head gently and quietly said, 'And that, sir, is Heaven.'

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Day 1.21 Mate

I don't really know if there is an equivalent of manic-depression with the physical. If you had the misfortune to read yesterday's post , you learned that I was, a short distance from the literal perhaps, feeling as if on my death bed.

That was yesterday. After a dreary day of over-hydration, rest, comfort food and a solid 9 hours of sleep, I am happy to announce that I am back. Live from Seattle.

Our spin session this morning was just the jump start I needed. And now as I type to you and watch (and film) the splendid sunrise over the Emerald City, I feel like a new man.

Hence the reference to polar extremes in the opening sentence.

It is hard to imaging anything more dramatic. From the depression of sickness to the wonder of vitality. For me, If there once was a question on this binary example of how important good health truly is to the quality of our lives, the last 24 hours removed any lingering doubt.

I feel like I went to bed in Kansas and woke in OZ. (Those of you in Kansas please know that this is the second reference to your beautiful state today - as earlier in class I used the metaphor of constantly riding hills and then riding the flats in Kansas as an example of how intense efforts make everything else seem easy. I added the verbal fine print that there are, contrary to popular cycling belief, some outstanding bumps in the K-State topography.)

So I am happy to have had the experience. It was most humbling. I had a chance to witness the empirical sensation of being out of gas. On empty. Stalled, stuck and stranded, red lights flashing from every gauge. Down and almost out.

And now this glorious start to the day. What a turnaround. Miraculous. I thought thinking about travel, movement, energy might help, and it did.

I want to get back to Australia and just walk about. Sit on Bondi beach and play my didge. Mix it up with the locals. Swim with sharks. Advance the story.

Send good vibes back home.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Day 1.20 in Dog Years

Ya know when they say 'sick as a dog'?

That is my sorry arse today. Virus on top of the whole cardio enchilada. Bad mix.

Last night was the worst. Couldn't decide whether to go to ER, call the cardiology department, or self medicate. 

Chose the latter, with water, electrolytes, protein supplements and a pair of Advils along with the frustrating search for a comfortable horizontal sleeping posture. Nice try fido.

I think I was able to doze into a light sleep only to have it turn nightmarish with astonishing speed. For the sake of exposition, here is the outline: I am having a cardiac episode, myocardial infarction of catastrophic proportion. I realize in my dream (I think it was a dream) that I have been trained to respond by a series of precise movements, starting with holding my breath while laying on my  right side. As I exhale I roll over to the left and go into full relaxation mode. It is here that I realize that I have skipped a step in the sequence and unless I repeat perfectly and sequentially, from the top, with the clock running - almost out of time - it is officially the end of game. This futile exercise goes on until I force quit and check pulse, which of course I cannot find. I lay there wondering about the nature of time as my chest heaves and heart pounds.

So today I am in the dog house with a dry nose and runny eyes wondering how many dog years are left.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Day 1.19 Swoosh

As much as it hurts me to say, pains me to admit and fills my soul with impuissance, it is nevertheless true.

One of the greatest advertising campaigns of all time promotes a company I have had issues with for twenty years.

I do not run in their shoes.
I do not wear their gear.
I do not support their teams.

Have you guessed by now of whom I speak?

Of course you have.

But let's be sure to separate to two. One is the company and the other an advertising agency. The former hires the latter to promote their image, their products and their brands. How they do that is the genius behind the sales, in my most humble of assessments.

When Nike came out with the 'Just Do It' campaign, it was widely accepted as very good. It is more than very good - it is great. Dare I say phenomenal. How the slogan addresses every situation, sporting or otherwise, with its prolixity is nothing short of amazing. I mean, really, can you imagine a more altruistic campaign from somebody trying to sell running shoes? It answers every question first, then powerfully moves from emotion to inspiration with nary an overt pitch for sales. Pre might have even approved.

It is brilliant. Cunning. Didactic.

Just Do It. Beautiful.

Just Do It.

I think Dr. King and the Seahawks would agree.

PS: I LOVE seeing Huskies in the end zone!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Day 1.18 as an example

Each could go in multiple directions.

For the sake of exercise, practice and creative application, let's go through the drill. It is Sunday at 0600.

Yesterday we talked about four media forms of communication, the book, the film, the book on tape and music. Of course there are others, but those are the Fab Four. Here is an illustration of the possibilities inherent in each (done ten times faster than right now).

The book:

Sunday dawned in blustery blue, winds pushing gray clouds and icy waters from the South.

The film:

Inside. Dawn.
August wakes from a troubled sleep to the crashing sound of falling trees. He is shocked into the day with the realization that this is going to make an already tense situation borderline impossible.

The Book on Tape:

'Dear Lord', he gasped, fumbling for his glasses and flashlight, 'Goddam tree just fell on the roof', then with a pause second-guessing his initial reaction, 'Or was that a dream?'

The Song:

Winter winds across the sky
why ooh why ooh?
I need your love to calm this storm
to see us through this troubled morn.

I am shooting time-lapse video of all this from my patio.

Let you know how it renders.

Seize whatever the day brings (he said aloud heading towards the door).

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Day 1.17 A Good Story

Admitting it first, I am a sucker for a good story.

Secondly, I am a sucker for the myriad forms a good story takes.

I love a good book, a well-crafted ballad, a blockbuster video and an interesting spoken word audio CD.

To illustrate the depths of my story neurosis, currently I am smack dab in the middle of thee simultaneously.

The book is The Milagro Beanfield War.
The video is the first season of 24.
The audio CD is Far Side of the World.
Music is easy, we listened this morning for 90 minutes as we spun nowhere fast in an indoor cycling session.


All have strong central characters facing challenge and conflict. All get support from subordinates, teammates, families. All have drama enough to hold the attention of their audience with fascinating sub-plots. All are period pieces, detailing a place in history to provide a fertile backdrop for the adventure. All paint an slimy antagonist and draw a savory love angle. Money is always there too, lurking as motive. Sometimes it is Man versus Nature, but way more often Man versus Man. I especially appreciate Nature wearing a hard hat and bad guys wearing white Stetson's.

But above all this, with due respect to editors, technicians and producers, is this simple fact; That these are all wildly successful because they are:

Good stories, well told.

And that is where we start.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Day 1.16 She

You're going at it again?


Never a break?

Sure, rest one - use the others.

Explain, por favor.

We juggle the three in consistent rotation, mind, body, spirit. There are sub-categories to each, so a rotation keeps you fresh, strong and awake.

Going to need an example, if you would.

I will:

Spirit>Meditation>Singing>Dancing>Drum Circles>Prayer>Beach Walks>Communing with Nature>Love

Nice. But don't we do those naturally, as good habits and community service?

With practice, yes, but that takes time, and time literally means an opportunity to recover and grow, 360 degrees of balance, especially the body component.

So what have we today?

We have reading, writing and music appreciation. We have rowing, elliptical and core routine. And we have gratitude for this opportunity to share. We have that majestic bald eagle circling overhead at this very moment smiling down upon us, joining the dialogue.

She doesn't say much though.

She doesn't have to.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Day 1.15 (B)

12. Long distance cardio makes you good at long distance cardio. Conditioning work - short, fast, and brutally intense - makes you good at everything.

From the 100 laws of muscle by T Nation.

Shall we break this down some?

First off, I totally agree with the statement (as myth buster), what I have an issue with is how the author(s) attempt to get these two in the same ring and declare a winner. And the fact that their recipe (good at everything) precludes long distance cardio. So it won't get you good at everything.

In my line of work, long course triathlon, what we train for is exactly what the author(s) use as a negative to prove the positive of its opposite. I believe this is called a straw-man in debate. What we want, train for and wish to achieve come race day is being good, if not great, at cardio. Like 140.6 miles of good, if not great. THAT is the definition of good cardio and it will NOT come as a result of a regimen of exclusively short, fast and brutally intense efforts. True they help but the element of LSD cardio is a must if you hope to swim, bike or run anything over the sprint distance.

Fixing this for the author(s) requires a 12. B which would look something like this:
Unless long distance cardio is your goal, then a combination of the two is optimal.

That is why we vary our sessions to include intervals, steady state sub-thresholds, and Super 8s.

By their very definition it is the best of both worlds, combining both (all) to create the best possible end result: You getting faster, stronger, healthier and capable of handling the rigors commonly associated with long distance endurance events.

So please T Nation, gimme a (B) under the 12th rule of muscle.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Day 1.14 Bill

You don't have to write like Shakespeare, but the most outward quality of his thinking must be executed as if from one of his characters. It must be thinking like an acrobat. You don't have to know how to stand on your head, but all the movements of your body must convey the idea that you are able to turn somersaults whenever you wish to do so.

Please insert your own example here. Have you ever faked it until you made it?

If indeed all the world is a stage, then this priceless idea is paramount to our success as thespians. We all act. We all play a part we are familiar and comfortable with, a character that we know, revere and respect. We know what that means and of whom we speak.

The actor is you. Further, you can choose to play any part you wish. From Macbeth to Romeo, Richard III to Rosencrantz. The stage hand you to the lead you. Thou art that, in more appropriate verbiage.

This helps a lot when we rehearse. Practice is all about getting in quality reps. Delivering the same line until we have it (by George.) Played as the character might play it, or better, how the author initially envisioned it being played. One step removed from divine inspiration.

We seek not the mind of the character but the mind of the author that created him or her.

As coaches, we spin a Hamlet-like soliloquy, 'More important to know YOUR mind than mine.'  Know thyself.

That is the goal, you KNOWING that you can spin for 90 minutes uninterrupted by distraction, that you can maintain an all-out effort for twenty minutes, that you can TT and climb any mountain in any location. Thinking you are an advanced cyclist, putting those traits continuously on display, committing to the show, constantly seeking improvement to your riding skills is how we act our way to becoming the character we wish to portray once the curtain rises or the cannon sounds.

It's a great opening act. It takes courage and confidence.

Thankfully we can practice it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Day 1.13 Didge

A recurring theme plays in the recording studio of my mind. That hyper-subjective  limitless vault of internal storage. The theme has been playing on an endless loop for over six decades. To play it back real time would take us into the year 2075. With all due respect to Zager & Evans we need to trim the fat some. The same approach we take with just about everything these days. Condense, consolidate, cancel and cut.

Why then is it so difficult to accept change as inevitable?, I ponder again, this time with tablas, ukulele and didgeridoo softly adding the score.

Why so much heartache accepting the fact that:

I no longer own my home
I no longer control the (lower ranges) of the beating of my heart
I no longer have a security blanket for emergency needs
I can no longer compete at the levels I have been accustomed to for, well, forever?

But the interlude scherzo (modulating to a major key) is now one that sounds like a session joining Bartok and The Beatles.

The chorus is simple in its complexity, ancient in an embryonic spin, a timeless theme played more with pathos than bravado. Pianissimo. One might even call it operatic.

It is this:

Why can I not accept the happiness and inner peace that this day brings? Why must I match it to what was and become saddened in the comparison? Do I have so little faith in myself and that elusive Higher Power that the failures of the past divine similar in the future? What is it about the now that makes it so difficult to keep in its time signature?

The theme plays again. I hear the open, prepare for the solo and want for nothing other than its successful reciting.

With the option that it is my tune and I am its composer, conductor and play first fiddle from the first chair. I can change it anytime I wish and the orchestra will follow, Bela, John, Paul, George and Ringo all adding their spirit and virtuosity to my pithy and personal score.

The score of my life. The soundtrack of today. What it sounds like to be alive and aware of the here and to be now.

The theme matures.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Day 1.12 Tommy Jack

There are a couple of streaks in which I take great pleasure. I am not exactly sure where or when the importance of streaking (naked or not) became important, but it is. Most likely it was somewhere in the 60s when I was learning the ropes of life through the lens of sports. There were hitting streaks, losing streaks, back-to-backs and three-peats all representing the need for consistency of effective execution. Because in order to create a streak of any positive nature, you had to perform. You had to take your practice and schooling then put it into play. You had to win.

Winning of course being the subject of many a debate and misunderstanding.

Two of the more contemporary streaks in which I am most satisfied are:

I have not eaten meat since 1980. The last hamburger I demolished was at a super dive-in called Tommy's in LA. These burgers were so big, so good and so greasy that we would drive the 30 miles from our hood to Tommy's on a fairly regular basis.

The other one is this activity thing. Not for training (my Ironman streak was abruptly snapped in 2004) but the simple rite known as the work-out. Be it the bread and butter indoor cycling sessions, running, swimming, yoga, lifting or the recovery beach-comb, I have done something physical every day since, well, as long as I can remember. No one was keeping records (or score) way back then.
Also is the blog streak now into its second year of everyday posting. Not real flashy, with the only reward being the discipline involved with its continuance. Yet, somehow, magically, it endures. It has taken on some meaning, a daily ritual, with purpose and pleasure (most of the time).

As is the case with the above streaks, I seek ways and tools to improve, as witnessed yesterday with the blog on the use of the dictionary for spelling and syntax. Additionally, as we have discussed on many an occasion, I believe the mental component to be critical towards improvement. The more we focus our awareness - the better our chances of success. Of keeping a streak alive.

Last night as I was indulging in a Sunday night binge of the series 24, I had to hit the pause button because of a line that was delivered with amazing aplomb by Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland). I recall it to be something like this:

If we compromise ONCE, that gives us permission to compromise again, and then again, and after a while it becomes our habit, it becomes us. We compromise to suit our objectives, justified by personal gain, ego, power or any combination of understandable, yet wholly unsatisfactory, reasons. So you cannot compromise even ONCE.

After absorbing the obvious metaphor and wondering if all the times I have compromised in the past might keep me from starting a new streak, (the no-compromise streak), I decided that it is OK to judge YOUR past and make the necessary corrections towards improvement.

So the no-compromise streak has begun. It began this morning at 0430. Incredibly it is still alive.

And I hit the play button smiling. As maybe Jack would.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Day 1.11 Awesome

I see you have once again taken to keeping the dictionary out all the time.

I have.

Any particular reason?

Just in curious mode, and without Google at my fingertips, this gives me access to wisdom, or at least correctness. There are 59,000 words there and I probably know a tenth of them.

Curious mode, eh?

Yes. That time and place where inquiry and advancement intersect. The more you know the more you know you don't know anything at all.

I pretty much feel like that all the time.

Me too, so keeping the Webster's handy eliminates the bad habit of knowing only half a word's meaning, or none of it for that matter.

An interesting practice my friend.

Yeah, I am constantly amazed to find what I thought a word to mean, is actually not even close, sometimes even its opposite. And then there are the technical terms unique in a specific trade or practice. Then Latin, then slang, then…well you get the idea.

I do. Do you have a favorite, a recent example?

Sure, just this morning, for some reason, I wanted to learn a few synonyms of a commonly used word, so I looked it up.

The word?

Well, let's do this, I'll give you the synonyms and you tell me the word.

OK, I'll try, go.

Reverence, fear, wonder.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Day 1.10 Fly

I am sitting at my makeshift desk trying to get cozy with the new configuration. Used to be that I knew where everything necessary for creativity was hiding (in wait for discovery), but now, I use just the basics, with no WIFI, on a single tiered painted plank.

Which is fine. I will shortly begin the customization in order to cut the chance of using chaos as an excuse. After all there is production and there is - no production. And with the latter comes problems. Here anyway.

I have resorted to the interim practice of writing on the laptop and then scurrying down the road in search of a decent, free, signal for the upload. I will tell you this: That formula cuts a LOT of unnecessary surfing time. As Annie used to say, you go in, get dirty and get out. THAT is production. Annie was good at it.

She was also talented and fearless. A former front girl for one of Seattle's most dynamic R&B outfits of the 80s, she turned her focus from vocals to video with gusto and bravado. Her studio was her basement and she had all the tools necessary, for any project, immediately at her command.

Which brings us full circle (as we like it). I am sitting at my makeshift desk with a cheap boom box softly sending moldy oldies in my direction. I think I can make one more week with it as I tire easily of Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel and any tune that has the gall to even mention pina coladas. In the station's benefit there are fewer commercials than NPR, so I leave it on as background noise until I can no longer stand the schmaltz and run to spin the volume dial counterclockwise to full-off (thinking God I hate that song.)

I am sitting at my desk and thumb through the WHC (as mentioned the other day) in search of some non-audio inspiration because today the Bee-Gees simply are not cutting it.

And I find this:

Do you like life?

(Assuming you answered to the affirmative), then doesn't it make sense to do the things that might ensure you get more?

Production mode ensues. Fly.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Day 1.9 Follow that Arrow

Strength, balance, endurance, agility, and coordination. The basic goals of every work-out session. Pick one or compound them to maximize time efficiency.

I am heading to the gym right now to balance my headache with core strengthening. Hopefully this endurance session will aid my agility and coordination too!

That failing I am sure a sauna and hot shower will help.

Follow that arrow!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Day 1.8 Whole Earth

Can't help myself. I am moving boxes of photographs, relics of the past, hungrily dipping into each with similar gusto that fills a chip with guacamole. The few books I have retained (because nobody wanted them at the yard sale) hold a truer fascination as they are filled with page markers, some representing trophies of loves lost, others mementos from trivial and forgotten events. They are loaded very personal stuff, some cringe-worthy, some sigh-inducing. It is all (still) here.

I try my best, as I have for many years, to find the proper place to house one of my favorites, The Next Whole Earth Catalog, circa 1980. I love this work, its access to tools, its complexity and its detail. It is the quintessential big, fat book.

As you might expect I fan the yellowing pages. Out pops a ticket stub from the 1985 World Series. Then Mom's lasagna recipe, handwritten by the chef herself. Lastly is a postcard returned to me with a FPO address, the Department of Defense as proxy for Dear John. I think about the symbolism. I remember writing it to Julie wanting to prove to her that I was listening when she spoke of the joy of travel. There remains what appear to be tear drops stained on the card. I shake back to present day, pleased with the treasure.

Rejuvenated, I return to fanning pages, randomly landing on the Community section. I scan down the oversized pages until I spot this:-

By being the kind of person that other people want to be around. Competent, helpful, flexible, curious, generous and experienced in dealing with the world. If you have friends that make an effort to be an interesting person, money is irrelevant. You can have a great deal of freedom and respect during your life and security in your old age. However if you are a loner, rather selfish, with narrow interests in life, then making a lot of money may be your way to make it through.

From the Seven Laws of Money, by Michael Phillips

Solemnly I close the tome but leave it on the table. I have done this many times. I will return tomorrow, or later tonight and do another random fan.

To check in with the cosmic energy and collective wisdom of those that have gone before.

I think I owe them at least that.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Day 1.7 at the Depot

I walk through the local Home Depot carrying a strange sensation, one that I cannot quite pinpoint. I walk past the paint department where I have purchased many a gallon, some with names like snowy egg-shell taupe, sandy amber moon or opaque celestial fizz. This makes me smile as I remember some of the horrid combinations I have used with mixed results. Normally in my zeal to recycle, I would simply take whatever color was given to me, left over or negotiated for at a year sale and mix them until I liked the result, then slap in on the wall and repeat the process with whatever enamel gloss I had for the trim. It was always a sensual adventure walking through the cabin with its colorful personalities, some of which were in dire need of counseling. I once used three primary colors in one room that ended up looking like a kindergarten play room. Other than the aforementioned recycling motive, I always enjoyed the fact that nobody, NOBODY had an interior decorator with more bravado. Some said it was a shame he was blind, but that never mattered to me, so is Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and was Helen Keller.

I pass the tile aisle, the carpet space and the appliance rows, all bringing memories of purchases past, and I laugh remembering how great they all looked on display but never quite filling the bill once installed, laid or wired up.

I get to the lumber section and cringe at the inflated prices. Past the insulation stacked to the ceiling and hardware where we now pay for nails and screws individually. I chuckle thinking that they need to rename the vinyl coated sinkers to a more appropriate moniker, instead of a 16 penny, better a 16 buck.

I wonder for a moment how much I have spent here over the last 30 years. How many times I opened the monthly statement to find the total more than I make in a month. I think about the time it took to buy, haul, unload, measure, cut, sand, paint and assemble.

I am in the roofing section, a locale that I have spent many hours trying to figure the proper combination of underlayment, felt, tyvek, flashing, caulk, bear-shit (asphalt sealer that resembles its nickname), roll roofing, cedar shakes, aluminum and torch-down.

I grin and walk past the smiling check-out cashiers. This is weird I think, I am not pushing one of the carts loaded with expensive building materials and wondering if this might, at long last, fix the leak, stop the drafts or add function to the nightmare that comes from 30 years of adding rooms, wings, spaces, bathrooms, kitchens and media rooms without a grand scheme, a design, any formal plans and a rebellious disdain for convention. Code being something that is written and used with computing, not required by the country building department.

And it hits me.

I don't have to shudder when it rains, buy ten more one hundred dollar tarps or wonder if the black mold is causing my respiratory problems. No more.

I do not have to second guess my motives, color choices or how my bandit building will eventually be handed down, fall down or burn down.

I am not a home owner any more. I pay no property tax. I do not have to dedicate every weekend in the summer and every day in the winter to the fortification of my castle, albeit a tiny cabin in the woods.

I am walking out of Home Depot without making a purchase. I need nothing. There is nothing to add, nothing needing subtraction. That pesky roof and the bootleg septic is now the headache of the guy who cashed me out almost one year ago.

I am at once saddened by this realization and elated by its reality.

I am still trying to settle with my spirit, as I miss that cacophony of color and the warmth of the wood stove when cooking spaghetti in the darkness of winter. I miss the tree house and the funky kitchen. I never took the keys from ignition, nor locked the front door for three decades.

But I do not miss loading my truck with 2x4s and working in the rain.

It is an unmistakable emotion that I can only label as an incredible being of lightness.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Day 1.6.15 May You

Wasn't that long ago, a mere six days.

Seems like an eternity.

No doubt.

What did we miss?

A lot.

Where should we start in retrospect?

How about in those pesky resolutions?

Please, no.

Come on, face the mirror and grin.

OK, the one I like the most is probably the one most difficult to enact.

The one about losing weight and eating better?


What then pray tell.

It went, it goes, something like a toast, with a bunch of 'may yous'.

May you live long and prosper?

Kinda. Here goes, as I recall:

May you receive what you are looking for.
May you come to a place of peace within yourself.
May you find the tools necessary.
May you create meaning and grace on your journey.

Cheers mate. That is worth a review every six days. Nice.

Monday, January 5, 2015

1.5.15 No Reply

The master of the more is not always mater of the less, he thought.

Why, after all, is it sometimes easier to accomplish the radical than it is to maintain the conservative? Why do we go after the impossible with more enthusiasm than we tackle the mundane? Why is the easy part often the hardest?

I heard something this morning that sprung this thread to life. It was a song. A tune from the early sixties, an era by most accounts a glorious time for both music and mayhem.

The song is No Reply by the Fab Four. What makes it so interesting is its simplicity, as one of the dominant themes of that time was, as always, love. Or in this case the jealousy involved with seeing one's girl with another guy. What makes the song a classic is the chorus. As with several Beatles tunes this one gives us the minor verse en route to a monstrously rocking major key chorus, which we hear only once.


And that is plenty, as the listener takes this pop ode to joy with him or her into cellular memory to be sung time and time again in (pick all that apply) the shower, on the bus, in the yard, at the store, on cloud nine.

A jam band might play this theme out for an hour or so, but this original version, from Beatles 65, makes less all the more.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

1.4.15 Doppelhanger

Did you happen to take a look back in retrospect?

I did yesterday and was mildly amused.

With what, exactly?

I suppose it could be stated as the statistical equivalent of tossing out the high and the low to better estimate the mean.

So the real good stuff gets tossed into the trash along with the literal garbage?


Leaving what?

Some very mediocre reports, a few nicely constructed sentences and quite a few absolute butcherings of the language.

That's the median?

Sorry to say, yes. Average at best.

That is a comparatively harsh assessment.

As compared to water boarding and Ebola, perhaps, but not in the world of journaling, blogging and contemporary pop literature.

Well, yeah, but that is a rather provocative and professional pedestal, don't you think?

I do and please quit trying to squeeze an alliterative into every post.

OK, sorry. What is the next step, then? Should we just pull anchor and set sail?

No, I don't think so. A solid foundation has been built. There has been sincere effort and the expenditure of time. We sense blood, sweat and a few tears. It is honest and sensitive, all good.

What then?

Keep at it. Try to improve every day. Do more of the things that work and less of those that don't.

Is the doppelganger dues ex machina tactic one of the things that work?

Why are you asking me brother? How this ends is your call.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

1.3.15 To Race Again

I really want to race again. I am in no shape whatsoever to do so, but I think I need the self satisfaction of a successful event. The feeling of accomplishment so ephemeral and validating.

That would be a simple and achievable chore if we were talking about a 5K, but alas, we are not.

We are (I am) talking about an Ironman.

Precisely, that consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run. I have completed a dozen or so the last being in 2009.

Yes, a LOT has happened since that day, but I want the feeling back. I want it again. I want to feel the joy of seeing the shore, peeing on the bike and slugging out the run. I like the challenge and welcome the pain.

I was reminded of all this last night when my college football team of choice was getting their collective teeth kicked in. I thought about disappointment. I thought about loyalty. I considered valor and courage. I even flirted with the idea that none of this is truly important, so why attach unnecessary anguish to a game played by kids in college.

They lost a big game.

Not the end of the world by any measurement. But,

there are always lessons to be learned.

Discipline and focus. Mental toughness and tactics. How to breathe and how to fuel. The preparation necessary to put one in the best position possible for victory.

Too, define victory.

Is this the end?

Or motivation for a fresh beginning?

Sometimes it takes a kick in the teeth to get your smile back.

I really want to race again.

Here we go.

Friday, January 2, 2015

1.2.15 Dreams

Almost everything I read, see, hear or think these days contains some sort of metaphor. Lets start with the obvious, my dream last night.

I am walking down a meticulously maintained grassy path. It is some kind of recreation area lined on either side with very modern, sleek and inviting campers, RVs and trailers. Between every row there is a covered picnic area with tables offering delicious looking foods. Not snacks mind you, more of a Thanksgiving feast set-up and ready for consumption. As I walk down this picturesque scene I feel the grass underfoot and sunshine overhead. I grab a couple of deviled eggs and think to myself (how many layers of dreams are there?) how bucolic, peaceful, clean and perfect this is. Very surreal (this is a dream) like the scene in Big Fish. I get to the end of the row, open a door, grab a tuna sandwich (on wheat with the crust trimmed) and know that this is the end of the line. I remember (because I have been here before?) that outside this door is the rural countryside that is equally spectacular with rolling verdant hills, sporadic majestic oak trees and a smooth dirt road winding through it all. I remember there being a baseball field to the right in need of repair. As soon as I see the field I wake up with an image of a madrona limb on a rocky beach. Three letters form on my dry lips, wtf.

That is metaphor for what exactly?

I remember another dream from last night (I might have slept too long) where I am lost in a huge building trying to find my office. I walk and walk, inside and out, trying to remember where it is, passing several people that I recognize but who are not co-workers or even working for the same company. This goes on until I realize that my office no longer exists, and that I am on a futile and frustrating search for the comfort and security of the past. I wake with eyes wide open shocked by the impact of this dream-state reality.

I don't need an interpretation for this one. Even as I roll left and try to shake its unmistakable message, I blurt aloud, 'Good Lord.'

They say that awareness is the first step towards improvement. One must recognize the opportunity or need for change and growth. Perhaps it is addition by subtraction or maybe some multiplier of exponential potential, the square root of reality.

I do know this: The more active my dreams and the more frequent the metaphors, the better my chances of acting upon them.

In response, maybe I should more completely let go of the past and enjoy every sandwich.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


I walk this beach for the first time, amazed and awed. Orange, pink, crimson and vermilion masterfully dabbed on a pallet in need of no frame. Impressionistic as Seurat might appreciate, even Renoir. Yet there is something more. I feel the flow of wind and sea, waves relentless in their swell and sweep. I hear the cry of hungry gulls amid the deep hum of approaching aircraft. I watch all this and walk on the amber sand dodging scallops and the occasional oyster cage.

I am part of this. I am here. It is New Year's Eve at sunset. I made it through another calendar year and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to experience the passage of time. Immediately I recognize the irony in this. It was a trying and troubling twelve months. It started with pain and it ended with suffering. Yet, I stand here admiring the sunset. I consider the meaning of all this as I try to walk light, leaving no footprint.

The meaning of all this.

I haven't a clue. Self awareness? Experience? Growth? Service? The search for happiness?

There needs to be change, I need to take command of the situation and push forward with an intrepid sense of adventure. I know that particular synergy fills my soul with gladness and contentment. There needs to be flow, days on the wax and nights of wane. I must relax into the reality of eternity. My here and now needs belief, hope and trust to be of utility. This has to be central, beyond doubt, a commandment so firm and unshakable that a million dollars could not buy.

This has a chance to be special, this day, this hour, this minute. I will let the year unfold on its own. I simply want this second, this walk on this beach. I have been here before in one sense. The already seen sunset. Yet I am totally a different person than the last time. And that changes everything. The empty cup of wanderlust and appreciation waiting to be again re-filled. I see all this.

For the first time.