Friday, March 31, 2006

The Record Set Straight

Al Bangorhard has been making fun of my martini preference. Let's be clear. My comments regarding martinis were not about my tastes. They were about terminology.

The ONLY martini to order is as follows.

BARTENDER: What can I get you?
CONSUMER: Sapphire martini. Up. With a twist. Very dry.

Thank you.

-The Management

In Hopeless Pursuit of The Skinny Chick

About a half mile into my 9 mile run on Thursday, the skinniest chick in the world ran past me and headed off down the trail. She then settled into a pace that kept her about 500 feet in front of me for a few miles. She certainly was aerodynamic. Normally, a woman running somewhere ahead of me is at least interesting in an appealing sorta way. But the Skinniest Chick in the World was more like a car wreck that I couldn't stop looking at. I have never seen a body without any shape before. One straight line from top to bottom. Weird. Of course, she eventually picked up the pace and disappeared into the forest. I think she was some sort of wood gnome or something...Turns out I don't like super skinny chicks. Put that on the list.

Anyway, the 9 went well. I don't have splits, but I did manage 9:40 overall, including a slow warm up mile and a slow cool down mile.

After engaging in a little retail therapy at REI (turns out Body Glide is a very important ingredient to my training regimen, Mrs. GVB was starting to notice the rapid consumption of the KY Jelly...) I joined Cap'n Ron for some tendon abuse at the climbing gym, where young people were "learning" to take lead falls.

After a powerless night onboard the boat (something is FUBAR with the AC power system, damn it) I am in the midst of a rest day, catching up on The Daily Show and half-heartedly prepping my spring classes, which are supposed to start on Monday. I'm hoping for a freakish spring snow day...

I found this picture today. Anyone recognize these idiots?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Actual Training?

Did my 3 mile easy day this morning. I can't run as slow as I am supposed to. 11 minutes feels like walking. But it was a nice, relaxing, foggy morning here. Followed up with a long stretching session. Turns out you're supposed to stretch. Who knew?

Slated for a long day tomorrow. 9 miles. Haven't scoped out a route yet.

This whole training schedule thing is odd. I'm not used to doing what people tell me to do.

In other news, rumor is that RPD has gone off the deep end and is studying biometrics, doing yoga, and drinking green tea. Rumors as yet unconfirmed.

In further other news, I have had my Saturday hijacked for a date with Mrs. GVB to see a Broadway show at the Paramount. And it ain't Avenue Q...Oh well.

In possible later news, the headsails are going back down to the boat tomorrow. Could actual sailing be far behind?

Today's Statistically Improbable Parenting Phrase: Son, you have to have a diaper on if you want to wear your Tinkerbell dress.

It's still technically possible that he's straight, but not probable.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Same Old New Kicks

I love buying new shoes. And I love replacing old shoes with new versions of the same ones. I recently replaced my FiveTen Guide Tennies with a new pair of FiveTen Guide Tennies. I searched up and down this here Internet looking for a new pair of Sperry Figawi sailing shoes to no avail (the assholes replaced their best shoe with some lame tennis shoe looking thing)

So on Monday, at the New Balance store, all I wanted was to get the same shoes, in the same size, that I have recently managed to blow out. The old ones just don't have the support anymore, and the cushioning is, well, not cushiony.

And you know what? I know what size my feet are. I know what fits me. I know what I want.

GVB walks to the display, grabs the 766 off the shelf. SALESMAN in red shirt is lingering near the socks.

GVB: Can you grab me this in a 10?
SALESMAN: Let me measure you up and see what size you need.
GVB: No. Just grab the 10.

SALESMAN returns with three boxes. GVB glares.

SALESMAN: I brought the 9.5, 10, and 10.5
GVB: I need the 10.
SALESMAN: Let's try them on.
GVB: The 10. Yes.

GVB laces up the 10s and stands, checking to make sure the last is the same, etc.

SALESMAN: Let's check your toes here (leans over to push on the toe of the shoes.)
GVB: They're fine.
SALESMAN: You might need a 10.5. You should have more room than that.
GVB: No. This is just right.
SALESMAN: You're supposed to have more room in the toes.
GVB: No. Any bigger and I'll be sliding all over the place. This is perfect.
SALESMAN: Whatever you say.


You're damn right whatever I say. I know my feet. I know what I like. And I know that 100 bucks is a lot of money to spend on shoes. And I know that next week I will be spending twice that on cycling shoes...damn. Donations to my PayPal account, please.

On Tuesday, He Will Rest

Monday, March 27, 2006

Go Early and Go Fast

When my son decided to wake me at 6:00 a.m. I had a few choices...locking him in he closet is apparently against the law, so instead I handed him off to his mother (already awake, of course) and laced up the shoes.

I needed to do a fast day today, so I did my usual 3 mile loop in the neighborhood as hard as I could go (give or take. it WAS early).

3 miles in 23:43. Not bad for an old man.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Over My Head (Again)

I have a nice tendency for getting into things I can't handle. Take Mrs. GVB for example...Or the time my friend let me drive his Audi TT.

Hi, this car can do things I've only seen in movies. Same goes for Mrs. GVB. Sadly, I have this constant feeling that there are capabilities there I am not able to take advantage of. The car or the wife? (This is where everyone who has met Mrs. GVB says, Yup. She's WAY too much for you.) Thanks.

Which brings me to this new bike of mine. I set out today to start breaking her in and to (god forbid) get a little workout in. There is a nice 25 mile loop from Casa GVB out east across the valley, south to the Snohomish delta, and back up to the house. A few small hills, but mostly flat or small grades.

Out of the driveway and down the hill toward I-5. I'm using my Garmin Forerunner to help check the calibration of the computer on the bike. Calibration is fine, apparently, since they both quickly climbed to 26 mph and beyond.

This damn thing is fast. Faster than I can ride, that's for sure.

And it's geared to climb straight uphill. I abandoned my planned route to try a steep 1 mile hill just to see how it went. It's still work, obviously, but she just spins right up there.

Coming down the other side scared the piss out of me. 33 mph without trying. I don't think I've ever squeezed ANYTHING between my legs that hard before.

All of this in the first 6 miles.

By the time I made the last turn toward home, I had settled down a little bit and was getting more comfortable with things. She's a little aggressive (like Mrs. GVB, actually) but once I learned to anticipate that, it wasn't as scary. At first just switching hand positions from the brake hoods down to the bars was sketchy (going the other way was worse, actually), but I mostly got over that.

An online review of this bike I read mentioned something about "not wanting to let go of the bars". Now I get it. The search for new cycling shoes and a new saddle will commence soon.

She's a lot to grow into. Weather permitting I'll trade bike and run days this week, with the new goal of running the SeaFair half marathon on July 9th (with a couple of smaller races in between such as the SunRun and Beat the Bridge).

Tomorrow morning I'll do a fast 5 mile in the shoes. Tuesday looks like the gym. Other than that...Cap'n? What's the plan? Don't you have a race to train for?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Husky vs. Husky (Reprise)

For the second time in the Sweet 16, the left coast Huskies of Washington met the right coast Huskies of Connecticut. And for the second time, it was an epic game. I can't help being a homer for the UW Dawgs. But even people who didn't care about the game beyond their lame office brackets agree: this was a hell of a basketball game. DVB and I staked out a Mexican cafe in Old Town San Diego with some obscenely large HD televisions for the action, and after suffering through the street fight that was the BC-Villanova game, proceeded to make it clear to everyone in the bar that we were from UW. Near the end of the game, when it looked sure we would win, people were sending us congratulations drinks. When it went to overtime people started sending us consolation drinks. Even our hot lesbian waitress took the time to say she was sorry for our loss. Sweet girl. And like most women in this town, not at all hot. Sheesh.

And take note, Adam Morrison and JJ Redick. Brandon Roy, a senior playing his last college game, didn't start blubbering and whimpering on the floor. He didn't, as Morrison did, start bawling before the game was even over (Gonzaga still had a chance to win when Morrison decided to show his true colors). Take note "Coach K" and Mark Few, even though UW probably got jobbed by the refs in the waning moments of the game (and on a very questionable 4th foul call on Roy), Lorenzo Romar (who should be the perennial favorite for coach of the year) didn't say one word about the game being unfair officiated.

Hell, even the two VB brothers, UW alums, hopelessly purple, felt good at the end. It was one of the most exciting ball games you could ever hope to watch.

Headed home to Seattle from San Diego. Back on the training this evening with a short 3 miler in the neighborhoods around Casa GVB. Monday I'm switching over to the bike,

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Greater of Two Evils

I get a charge out of watching punks like Adam Morrison weep on national television. We had a great evening of watching basketball in a cheezy chain restaurant near the hotel. As much as it hurt me to root for UCLA, I can't stand Gonzaga. You are the Bulldogs, bitches, not the "Zags". And Adam Morrison's white trash act bores me almost as much as JJ Redick's hetero act. Dude, we get it. You're "not gay".

So when Gonzaga completely collapsed and shat themselves on national television, and UCLA acted like they were in a knife fight, it made my day. Earlier, of course, Duke choked in marvelous fashion themselves, losing to LSU in a spectacular collapse of their own.

Before basketball I managed a 7.5 mile run at something over 10 minutes a mile. Nice and relaxed from here to Sea World and back. I saw no whales. But I did see six hippies doing yoga in the dirt next to the sewage outfall that is the San Diego River. Nice.

On a conference related note, it turns out that “Ethnic Constructs of Civil Conflict” doesn’t interest me much. Who knew?

I have decided that the Stone Brewery here in San Diego makes a decent ale. They go on the list, ok Al?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

San Diego Day 2

Academics piss me off. It's a good thing I ain't one of them. Last night, after an iffy dinner and a decent local pale ale or three, DVB and I met some of his "colleagues" at a terrible hotel bar. Middle-Age Academic Woman #1 immediately launches into what sounds like it might be a flashback from her dissertation defense. It's not that I don't find deconstructionism of international conflict theory and domestic construction of terrorist threats interesting, it's that I don't want to fucking hear about it over my scotch.

It got fun when I kindly pointed out to MAAW#1 that she really wasn't accurately applying deconstructionist theory at all, but rather was taking a postmodernist approach. Her last defense against me was to ask me what my "field" was. Everyone here wants to know your field. "Writing and literature," I say. "I specialize in deconstructionist literary theory." Now shut up and drink your 7 dollar bottle of merlot.

MAAW#2, meanwhile, is arguing with DVB about the cultural symbolism in sports. She is quickly embarrassed by the extent to which both DVB and I have studied this phenomenon. "What's your field?" she asks me. Nice.

This morning I went to listen to a friend deliver a paper on Creating Intelligence Theory, which I didn't understand at all.

Then I did a nice easy 5 mile run with lots of hills. Somewhere around a 9:30 pace. Yesterday RPD says to me: listen to your feet.

Here's what my feet are saying: "Hey, dickhead, we can deal with the flats and the uphills, but if you keep pounding down this hill we're going to revolt and start cramping up on you and we won't fit in the climbing shoes next weekend."

I hear ya.

After an hour or so of reading Sarah Vowell's "Assassination Vacation" (brilliantly funny, by the way) it's time to start gearing up for some sort of evening out with the academics. There aren't enough martinis in the world...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Brotherly Love

I'm in San Diego Again (Still?)!!??

So it happens that on my spring break I find myself at a conference in San Diego with DVB, my older, less attractive, totally more academic brother. DVB lives on an island in the Pacific, and flies 14 hours to be on the west coast.

I fly less than 3 from Seattle. We meet at baggage claim. Timing, baby.

I see DVB twice a year or so. This is his gig (everyone here knows him and all the female grad students seem to want him. On occasion that see my name and confuse me for him and turn their bad haircut/bad sandal affections on me. I manage to get some free drinks this way.

DVB and I did some obligatory beer drinking and pool playing in a hotel “bar” that looks more like a fairly nice fraternity basement than a bar.

On Tuesday I strapped on the New Balance and decided to see what the old body could do. We are marooned out near a mall called “Fashion Valley” (I couldn’t make this up) but there is a nice path and some side roads I can link together…

Not a bad one:

6 miles at just under a 9 minute pace. Heel feels good, and unlike Al B, no fluids building up behind my face.

Going to try a faster 5 tomorrow and a day of hills on Thursday.

On another more pathetic note: my iPod was lost somewhere between Seattle and Fashion Valley. Luckily, there is an Apple Store in the mall next door. I’ve always really wanted the Nano anyway.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


I wish I needed to say more about this:

Read the Article


Bicycle Bob's Bargain Basement Blowout

I broke into my daughter's piggy bank this weekend and finally replaced my very old, very tired, very heavy mountain bike turned commuting bike, turned over-accessorized piece of shit. Mrs. GVB kicked in some funds and called it a birthday gift. I earned the rest pimping Al B Hard out on the streets of Suffolk County.

MWM seeks 54" road bike for long rides in the country and occasional ill-advised long, over committing race. Carbon fiber ok.

I had a nice Scattante all picked out, but upon arrival at the adoption agency I found that they had been spoken for by more caring young men who happened to make the sale before me. To make it worse, the very bike I wanted was sitting there with a "HOLD" sign on it. Damn you middle-class Seattle urbanites! At least I got to ride it before it went home to Wallingford on the back of an Audi A4.

Ah, but there are other bikes here. This is a bike shop, afterall.

"We have some of the old Fujis," my new best friend says to me, after my third failed attempt at getting him to take the HOLD sign off my bike.

"Fuji? Since when do you carry Fuji here?" Apparently my eyes brightened and I became slightly erect, because Mr. New Best Friend walked me over to a different rack.

Here's where it gets fun.

You can have the 2004 version (only one left, get it while you can!) for X dollars, which happens to be exactly what Mrs. GVB was going to allow me to spend.

It's a really nasty red color and has three year old components that are pretty good. The wheel set blows.

Mrs. GVB glowers from over near the helmets. Just because she approved the spending limit, doesn't mean she's happy with the purchase itself.

Or, you can have the 2005 version for X + 200 dollars. Better components but we really only have it in 52". Size matters.

"What about this one? It's a 54."

"Oh," Mr. New Best Friend says. "That's the 2006. Just got it in."

"There's no price on it," thinking perhaps it's free today.

"I'll go check." Poor fella has to work now.

He returns with bad news and worse math skills.

"It's X + 400."

Firmly out of Mrs. GVB's acceptable recreational purchase limit.

"Yeah, but isn't it on sale this weekend like everything else?"

"I'll go check." My cuteness is wearing off with Mr. New Best Friend.

"It's on sale. 20% off."

"And what about this $300 rebate from Fuji?" I ask, looking at the sign hanging from the handlebars.

"Oh yeah. That too."

Well, let's ride this bitch.

She's a little more aggressive than I was looking for in geometry, but since I didn't really know what I was looking for in geometry, you should ignore that last statement. Really, she's a middle of the road design, but with some nice long-ride features like carbon stays and fork. The saddle has to go, but that can wait.

When said and done, Mr. New Best Friend charges me X - 200 for my new bike.

And no, Cap'n Ron, I don't want to do the STP this year.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Labor Struggles. And a New Bike.

Strippers win right to meal breaks, OT

SYDNEY, Australia — Australian strippers have won the right to take time off after taking their clothes off.

The country's Industrial Relations Commission on Friday approved new workplace rules for members of the strippers' union, the Striptease Artists Australia.

"We've got rights to have public holiday pay now, which we've never had in our career before," said a union spokeswoman called Mystical Melody. "We've got rosters and set hours. We can't work more than 10 hours a shift."

The award also entitles unionized strippers to overtime, rest periods, meal breaks and maternity leave, she added.

When I think about exploited workers, I think aboutn Australian strippers...

In other news, the shopping period for my new road bike is winding down, with a decision to be made over the weekend. Soon I will be cursing my decision as I struggle through the hills around Casa GVB...Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Crimpin’ Ain’t Easy

After a marathon of grading student essays (average score 81%, I’m getting soft in SO MANY ways) I met Cap’n Ron at the gym for some tendon abuse and general silliness.

There are several new routes up, most of them HARD V1 and V2 stuff, and a couple of completely ridiculous V0 routes that are anything but V0.

(Hey, G, what the fuck is V0, V1, V2? Click here.)

With fresh arms I went straight for two routes that had been taunting me last time out, one a long roof climb with one long move near the top that I couldn’t quite do, and one traversing, crimpy route that I had a hard damn time even starting.

Both were much easier this time around, and the roof climb went down in one shot. I’m still missing one of the moves on the traversing route, but I’ll get ‘er on Sunday.

In other news, Cap’n Ron works too damn much.

In other other news, one of the girls from the Junior Climbing Team at the gym sent a nice overhanging V2 in her high heels. Bitch.

Next up, crying over my already destroyed NCAA bracket. I should not be allowed to gamble.

Meanwhile, While You Are Watching Basketball

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military said on Thursday it launched its biggest air offensive in Iraq since the 2003 invasion to root out insurgents near a town where recent violence raised fears of civil war.

A military statement said the operation involving more than 50 aircraft and 1,500 Iraqi and U.S. troops as well as 200 tactical vehicles targeted suspected insurgents operating near the town of Samarra, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad.

The statement said "Operation Swarmer" was launched on Thursday morning and is "expected to continue for several days as a thorough search of the objective area is conducted."

This should go well...You think CBS is torn as to which event to cover, the UW v. Utah state game or Operation Desperation?

I'm going climbing...

I'm A Helpless Homer

...As for the Huskies, their strength is in their ability to produce points, as Washington led the Pac-10 with a whopping 82.4 ppg. The team connected on 47.5 percent of its attempts from the floor, and also shot well from the line, making 74.8 percent from the charity stripe. The Huskies also did an excellent job on the glass, outrebounding their opponent by 7.1 rpg, which includes a 4.1 margin on the offensive boards. Brandon Roy was obviously the heart and soul for the Huskies all season, as the Pac-10 Player of the Year led Washington with 19.9 ppg, while shooting 51.1 percent from the floor. Roy is the team's leading scorer, but he does so much more on the court, as the guard/forward is averaging 5.7 rpg to go along with 40 steals and team-highs in assists (124) and blocks (24). Roy also finished the season, shooting 39.5 percent from long range and 81.4 percent from the foul line. The only other two players contributing double figures are Jamaal Williams and Bobby Jones. Williams finished the season posting 13.4 ppg, while Jones scored 10.5 ppg.

Every season a 12-seeded team tops a fifth-seeded squad, but you will not find that upset in this matchup. Sure the Huskies are not the same Washington team from a year ago, but do not expect Roy to let his Huskies fall in the opening round.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Feet, I've Missed You

It's no mystery that I am secretly sabotaging Al B's efforts to get into running shape since I pounded my poor left foot into the Southern California desert. Every mile he logs pisses me off because I sit here with a race to train for and my size 32 Gap khakis digging into my gut.

So today I laced up the New Balance extra tight, fired up the iPod Shuffle (don't pretend like Van Halen isn't still cool as hell. You know they are) and set out for a short, easy run on the Rez.

I left the watch at home and just went. I don't care how fast it was. It was 3 miles in the rain and I loved it.

Foot feels good. I am hoping to get some road time every few days for the next week.

Good lord. Might I be ready for Sun Run after all? Shit.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Whiskey Before Beer

It's almost St Patrick's Day. Which I despise in the same way I hate Mardi Gras in cities outside of Rio...But the NYT made me happy with this article about whiskey.

I don't care if you drink or don't. But please, please, please if you do, do it well.

There is NO excuse for drinking bad whiskey.

Have a nice week.

It's finals time here. Joy.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Faster than Slower Boats

Race day in Everett today, which usually means either freezing cold, gusty south winds, and rain, OR freezing cold, sunny, and dead calm. It started out as the latter…

Krumm had already washed down the decks of the Lion when I arrived. Very thoughtful. Except the spray froze to the dock. 9:45 a.m. MAN DOWN. This is bad news, especially since I was bringing the ballast for the day. Happily, no one (me) went in the drink, and the drink was saved. Unhappily, I brilliantly slipped on the same ice when I stepped off the boat to go for a coffee...

We were short of crew today. Cap’n Ron was busy “working” (last seen on a boat in the marina with a computer or something…doesn’t seem like much of a job to me). Kevin is apparently sick. That leaves David “The Loose Cannon” Miller, Skipper Krumm, and me.

15 minutes before the start there wasn’t a lick of wind and I am pretty sure none of us really thought we would see anything but the red and white striped, Dr. Suess “Postpone” flag.

Krumm took this opportunity right before the start to work on the engine. Seemed reasonable to me.

But a northwesterly filled in nicely and we actually got to race.

Long story short: we raced well and managed to finish first in class. Not bad for three idiots.

Cap’n Ron arrived just in time to help us drain the liquid ballast tank, of course.

Note: Ballast on the Lion dangerously low as of 3/12/06. For safety reasons this must be replenished before the next race.

Winter Series is over. The brave crew of Dent de Lion came out 2nd in class.

Next up, Mid Distance (20 mile courses) and then Round Whidbey.

The Cannon is apparently opting out of Round Whidbey for libido reasons. I seriously hope to have nothing more to say about that one…

Friday, March 10, 2006

If You Lived Here You'd Be Home Now

Depending on where you measured and who you asked, we had somewhere between 30 and 60 straight days of rain this winter.

Seattle has somewhere between the 1st and 5th worst traffic in the country.

We are notoriously inept in public policy and decision-making at every level.

Our public schools are terrible.

The median house price in the Puget Sound area is creeping into the $300,000 range.

In the dead of winter we get about 6 total hours of daylight.

Al Bangorhard is right. Seattle sucks.

But, there are damn few places in the world where you can have a Thursday afternoon like this:

1. Classes are over for the term, so after some morning meetings I swing by a Japanese joint to grab a Bento box for the 20 minute drive to the marina.

2. Cap’n Ron is about Allegro when I arrive, and we have decided to take her out for a spin on the bay. It’s 50 degrees or so and blowing 15 from the SW.

3. We sail for a few hours in a strong breeze out to Mukilteo, down toward Hat Island, and back up to the marina with the wind freshening to almost 20 knots. We are the only ones on the water except for a couple of tugs pulling barges around. Even the USS Abraham Lincoln (of “Mission Accomplished” fame) is away from her dock out on some sort of killing spree.

4. By the time we reach the dock, most people are just getting ready to leave work and sit in some of the worst traffic in the country.

5. We put Allegro away in her slip, and I head over to my boat to change clothes.

6. By 6:00 we are at the climbing gym working on some new boulder problems and chatting with some other aging alpinists.

7. By 8:30 we are at the Woodfire Bar enjoying a local IPA and watching Oregon (literally) beat up the Huskies in the Pac 10 basketball tournament. (This turns out to be the only negative part of the day. I hate the Ducks. Who ever thought that was a good nickname for a school?)

8. I even get to watch Cap’n Ron trip over himself as we walked back to the docks at the end of the night. He claims the sidewalk moved. I think otherwise.

9. I settle in onboard with the heat up high and Sarah Vowell’s newest book as the wind blows outside.

Sure. Seattle sucks. But what a day. In a few weeks we will have enough daylight to hit the mountains after work and get some real alpine rock in. I don’t think I’m moving for a while.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Pulling on Plastic

I was at the climbing gym the other night, upside down over a big black crash pad, climbing not vertically but horizontally, when I had the clarity of thought to realize, "This is utter bullshit. Nowhere in the world does climbing like this exist."

I'm dense, so these things take a while to occur to me.

It's not that I thought the gym would mimick Smith Rocks or anything, but this isn't even close to climbing. And these kids who come here every damn night (and bring their rather hot moms...thanks kids!) are in for some serious fear when they make their first trip to Squamish and realize that The Chief doesn't have handholds marked with red duct tape. Or heaven forbid they go somewhere like Joshua Tree, where there aren't even any holds.

Or bolts.

Across the way a guy with gear that looks like it was lifted from Buckley's van in 1982 is leading a climb that is loosely rated 5.9. There is a quickdraw ever 7 inches and a big bomber hold right at every one. I'm rooting for him to fall, and he doesn't disappoint me.

But this isn't a fall. He swings cleanly away from the roof and dangles three feet below his last clip. Poor fella. When he hollers down to his belayer about how scary the fall was, I laught out loud.

No. A scary fall is when you come off 20 feet above your last piece, and as you fall you remember that the piece was a tiny nut jammed in a little pocket. A scary fall is when you slip on a traverse and notice that the last piece is 15 feet behind you. A scary fall is a long alpine fall when you rip out the last two pieces you have set and end up below the belay ledge.

Let's look around again. No one is climbing on rope anymore. Everyone in the gym is bouldering. Two moves. Fall. One lunge. Fall. Three moves. Fall. Finish the route, jump to the padded floor. I see a problem here...

Scene: Leavenworth, Washington. Snow Creek Wall, 6th pitch of Outer Space (5.9+)

Climber: "Dude, this is hard."

Belayer: "I gotcha dude!"

Climber: "Where are all the bolts?"

Belayer: "I dunno, dude. Those guys ahead of us had all sorts of gear and stuff."

Climber: "Got me?"


End Scene

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Some Clarity

Can we settle something here?

Just putting a drink in a martini glass does not make it a martini.

Chocolate and vodka? Not a martini. Peach Schnapps and gin? Not a martini.

A martini is top shelf gin and dry vermouth, shaken and served with a citrus twist. Vodka if you must. Olives if you're hungry (but truly you need both olives and onions).

Oh, and...

A Perfect Martini is not a "great" martini. A perfect martini is neither wet nor dry: it uses equal parts sweet and dry vermouth

Wait! One more thing:

A dry martini still has vermouth in it. Otherwise you're just shaking gin over ice.

Ok? Don't pretend like it doesn't matter.

Don't make me come in there.

It Ain’t the Pain

I think I have a fairly high tolerance for pain. Certain types of pain, anyway. I don’t cringe at most medical procedures, and I don’t normally need the pain killers doctors prescribe (this is not to say that I don’t accept the prescription).

So I started wondering why I so despise getting hurt. Injuries depress me and send me into a funk. Last summer I broke two toes in an epic child-rearing accident (read: I was chasing the kids around the house playing “Monster!” and smashed my foot on the kitchen table). It hurt like hell, but by the time I had my bones reset the pain was totally manageable.

And when I hear the tales of my friend Al Bangorhard running and training for a marathon, I get depressed because I have a lame foot and can barely walk straight.

Remembering back to last summer, what bothered me wasn’t even that I was hurt or that I couldn’t run (when I smashed the toes, I was running 8:20 miles or so on a five-mile course and had a good time in the Beat the Bridge 8k). It was that I was so close to being complete. A couple of little toes. That was it. Now, a broken leg is one thing, but one would think a toe or two wouldn’t be a big deal. It was.

And now this heel…no swelling, no visible bruising, no broken bones. Just enough pain to keep me from using it correctly. Grrrrr.

Happily, I can climb close to my limit again, and there is hope of some being able to run again soon. The funk is lifting, even if it is still raining around here with a flooding vigor and no signs of a dry spell.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The 100 Mark

I sold the 100th copy of my book today. Who are these people? Since the extent of my advertising has been to tell my wife that the book was finished, I have to wonder how so many others have stumbled upon this...

Or maybe someone with a thing for poems with the word "pussy" in them bought 90 copies to keep next to the bed?

Anyway, thanks anonymous purchasers. I can now sit back and wait for my 16 dollar royalty check.

Like Falling Off a Rock

Cap'n Ron and I held our semi-regular "Theory of Gravity Tests" in the California desert recently. We think we have solid evidence of gravity's existence, but since it is merely a theory and cannot be directly observed, we are also open to the possibility that I fell 25 feet to the earth because of Intelligent Design.

We had 5 days planned in Joshua Tree, with as much climbing as we could stand and some decent beer consumption on the schedule.

Being a complete asshole, I fell on the first climb off the deck. On lead. And it was a grounder. Left foot? Totally hosed. Twisted knee, strained calf muscle, and FUBAR heel. (Your hero later learns that ligaments are torn and muscles bruised. Three weeks after the fact, he walks fairly normally in the right shoes).

The rock is called TrashCan Rock, and despite its name, it has some nice 60-80 foot crack and face climbs on its western face.

We choose a series of moderate cracks for our first couple of climbs, and figure to set a top rope on some of the harder face routes here. There is literally no one else here (rare at any time in J Tree) so we feel pretty smug about our choice to stay here and get some easy leads under out belts before hitting the bigger routes.

So we gear up and get ready to climb a nice corner crack that looks promising. It angles left and rises up to a nice looking face above it. I grab the rack, tie in, and start up the climb.

The first three moves are great. Positive holds and nice solid rock. As I start up, I remember how rough and sharp the rock in J Tree can be. The crystals embedded in the rock provide nice grip, but they cut the crap out of your hands (and any other part of you that comes in contact with it. Last time I was here I took a fall on an angled slab and sliced my hip open nicely).

I make enough moves to get up to the spot I had eyed for my first piece of protection and take a chock from my rack and wedge it into the crack. The piece just doesn’t quite fit and doesn’t feel right, and there is about 10 feet of hard climbing above it before the next solid stance, so I choose another piece and set it.

After some unnerving fumbling, I place a new nut. It locks in just like it is supposed to, and I make two rather awkward moves up to another stance in the crack.

Looking at the crack above me, I know exactly the piece I need to place. I get a solid stance and reach down to grab the piece I need.

And my feet come off.

Ground Fall! Great Job!

Change of plans.

5 days in Joshua Tree with as much beer as I could drink to wash down my pain killers.

Still, being smashed on prescription meds in the desert beats working, which is what I was supposed to be doing at the time. (This is what Distance Learning is for!).

All said, we did manage to get some climbing in. I couldn't walk much, but with the rock shoes on I could climb, so we went for some mid-grade "sport" routes*. Cap'n Ron had a nice lead on a sketchy two-bolt face climb to get over the "I just watched someone deck" jitters. I led the same route later on, and I eventually managed a short traditional lead on our last day. Not all was lost.

To summarize: Trip planned 6 months ago. Training in the gym for 5 months. 24 hours to get to the rock. First climb: ground fall.

*In J Tree, a sport route is anything with a bolt on it. Most 60 foot routes have at least one. Can you say, scary?

Because I Have Time for This...

Since there aren't enough things distracting me from my life, I need a blog where I can write about all of the things diustracting me from my family, my job, my actual writing, the work around the house, my various addictions and obsessions. Oh, and TiVo. Thank god for little box...

Shit, if AlBangorhard can do it, so can I.

I'm not training for a marathon. I'm not training for K2. I'm not (despite Cap'n Ron's suggestions) riding the Seattle to Portland race. I'm not going to crew on the TransPac or the VicMaui. Nope. But I'm running, climbing, riding, and sailing with some healthy doses of reading and drinking mixed in for good measure.

In loving tribute to our departed friend Al Keholic,