Sunday, July 31, 2011

hype of the Week: double-header, part two

For part two of our double-header Hype, here are two extremes.

1. For your consideration, the 1984 Santa Clara Vanguard drum solo "Toccata". This was radical drum corps in the making, a drum feature where nothing was played louder than mezzo-forte and the keyboard instruments were the stars of the drumline. Nothing like this had ever been done in drum corps before -- a drum feature that made you listen by being quiet (and without amplification, I might add). It blew people away and changed drum corps forever.

2. In honor of the end of my summer short-track season and the beginning of preparations for my cyclocross season in the fall, here's the 1988 Canton Bluecoats playing a decidedly muscular version of their official corps song, "Autumn Leaves". There is so much going on in this video it will wreck your head. At 3:07, a soprano soloist takes a hit in the head from a badly tossed rifle -- and holds the note! Later, check out the madness as eight snares start playing, add players two by two and eventually become a snare line of twenty (doing the requisite drum-to-drum and backsticking visuals). Finally, just before the end of the number -- in a page taken from the 1984 Freelancers, who did it first -- the rifles and sabres drop their equipment, pick up horns and play on the closing chords. It's all totally overblown and yet totally tight; and if I'd been a judge at that DCI Finals show I would have tossed out the rule book and given the Bluecoats the highest General Effect scores in history.

It's been a good summer.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

race report: OBRA short-track championships

The course at Westview HS was flat, hard-packed, and fast. In short, a terrible course for singlespeeders.
Still, I'd signed up and Mielle had given me a ride so there I was on the starting line.
The sad part was that I was the only singlespeed woman in the entire field. No one else had signed up for the category.
At a State freaking championships.
Did they know something I didn't?

Teammate Erinne asked if she should race singlespeed with me -- I'd mentioned I had a few zip-ties with me (OBRA allows racers to choose a gear, then immobilize their derailleurs with zip-ties and race in the singlespeed category, a sensible rule for amateurs since not everyone owns a dedicated singlespeed bike).
I shrugged. "I dunno," I said. "You could, but wouldn't you rather beat women your age in a real race? Plus, your field's still pretty small and you're strong enough, you could make a podium anyway. I'd enjoy the company but it's your call."
Erinne opted to race her age group with derailleurs. (She later told me she was glad she did.)
We were off, and I learned quickly that flat courses are the bane of singlespeeders. Not super-technical, just flat and fast and, well, sort of roadie-like.

Just to be clear, parts of the course were actually fun to ride, especially the part that zig-zagged through the trees that ringed the soccer field (and which was put in the make the course "technical"), and the off-camber descent that everyone barreled down with glee. But the large back section of the course, what looked like a farmer's field just outside the fenced school grounds, was a mowed strip of bumpy, short grass with tons of hard-packed washboard -- and this was the worst part of the course for a singlespeeder. (Granted, lots of racers complained about this section, but at least they could shift when the going got rough.) Erinne passed me on the course and yelled, "I understand why everyone else is racing with shocks!" I laughed in spite of myself and we kept racing.

I was surprised at how strong my legs -- and my resolve -- were. My legs kept turning the cranks with strength and power, even as I gasped for breath on the hot, mostly un-shaded course. And there was never a doubt in my mind that I would finish. I just kept plowing along, breathing hard and telling myself "I can DO this". And I did. In forty minutes, I completed four laps of almost 1.5 miles each, on a course that absolutely sucked for singlespeeds. For my faith, and my efforts, I won the OBRA Champion's medal for Womens' Singlespeed. And unlike the mixed feelings I had about my third-place finish last year (when there were three women in the category and my bronze medal was a foregone conclusion if I only finished), today I pushed myself SO hard, and felt so strong, that when I finished, I felt like a real bike racer and felt like I'd earned my damned medal. No prize is ever so sweet for a bike racer, I think, than to feel like you've earned your race.

A big shout out to Erinne who, in spite of crashing into some thorns, still pulled out a second place finish in Masters' Under-35 category. (But of course. She's SO strong!) Whoot!

(Erinne and I basking in our little hardware haul)

obra state stxc championships 2011

Congrats also to Pal Mielle, who raced -- and won -- her age group, and then turned around and raced again in a Cat 1 field and dominated that, too. I suspect she will be invited to cat up soon if she doesn't just go ahead and ask to. (Winning two state titles is a nice way to celebrate your birthday weekend, yes?)

(Mielle and I share the top step of the little podium for fun)

obra state stxc championships 2011

Rest day tomorrow, then my final short-track race of the season at PIR on Monday evening. I may have precious little left in the tank after today's effort, but I don't care. I'll ride my brains out and have a grand time. If you're in town, come and join me. The fun starts at 6 pm and concludes with the "very short track" team relay race at around 8:15.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

hype of the week: double-header, part one

This week's Hype comes in two parts:

First, in preparation for the OBRA State Championship short-track race n Saturday, here's another "back-to-the-source" clip, this one from the amazing Brecker Brothers and their album Heavy Metal Be-Bop, which I bought when it came out in 1978 and I was a freshman in high school. I'd already been bitten hard by the funk bug with forays into the catalogs of Tower of Power and ConFunkShun. The Brecker Brothers brought a breezy brand of funk to the scene that was heavily jazz- and fusion-influenced. This cut, which opened the album, quickly became one of my favorites because of its amazing off-beat punches and the first bass line I'd ever heard functioning as a hook. I played Heavy Metal Be-Bop so many times that I wore out the eight-track tape (!!) and had to save up for another one.

I couldn't find a live concert version of this chart, so I went for decent sound. Enjoy the clips of NYC and concerts stills, or just put on the headphones and turn the volume up.

Part two of the double-header Hype will air on Sunday.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

default only sucks when you have your wages garnished.

So it looks like the United States (which part? The government? Big Biz? You and Me? My cats?) will default on an epic, multi-generational mountain of debt.

What this means remains unclear to me.

When an individual defaults -- on student loans, a credit card, or a mortgage -- it usually spells some kind of real trouble. Wages and income tax refunds can be garnished. Bankruptcy can be just around the corner. Your credit rating can jump off a cliff, which really sucks if you're looking for a job; employers now routinely turn down applications from people whose credit is sending up little dust clouds, Wyle E. Coyote-style, from the bottom of a ravine.

In short, your life ceases to be a party when you default on something. The larger the debt, the more suckitude you can expect to experience.

But what about The Government? What happens when a government defaults? Remember that a government is made up of mostly-elected officials who are supposed to have our interests in mind when they act, and you immediately understand that, even if the United States defaults, these elected officials won't lose their Social Security, health coverage or pensions. No matter what happens they are probably going to be in much better shape than you and me. In fact, unless they have a serious gambling problem, they are probably set for life.

This is, to my thinking, simply another facet of the aformentioned sucktiude.

But on the ground, if the government defaults and loses its precious Standard-and-Poor rating, will you and I suddenly find ourselves unemployed, destitute, hungry and homeless the next day?
Probably not.
For those with stable employment, the results won't be apparent for some time. But I suspect that we will all be required to adjust our standard of living downward, permanently, and perhaps a little sooner than anyone expects.

This could be an ideal time to begin voluntarily weaning ourselves off excessive use of home heating and air conditioing and those pesky, sub-two-mile trips by car, just so we can get used to it when we really need to do it.
It's also a good time for individuals to know how to do lots of different things pretty well.
As Robert Heinlein liked to say, "specialization is for insects".

I'm not fear-mongering here. I think the good life is still possible. I'm living something very close to it right now. I have a job, a place to live, a loving partner and good family and friends around me. I'm not rich (far from it), but I am blessed. A governmental default won't change most of that anytime soon, and it won't change any of what really matters, ever.
I just think we'll all need to readjust our definition of what constitutes the good life.
Think closer to home and to the ones you love. Family and friends are always an excellent place to begin this sort of thinking.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

short-track update: one week to go

Checking the OBRA results page for last night's race, I discovered that OBRA officials did not give credit for the first lap to anyone (presumably because it was a start lap). I was given credit for only two laps but I assure you I crossed the finish line three times. Really.

Series standings after seven out of eight races (showing top five spots only, as racers beyond that raced the category fewer than four times):

Place - Name/Team - Total points
1 - Susan Sherman/Showers Pass - 170
2 - Shawn Postera/ - 149
3 - Kristin Bott/Team Slow - 108
4 - Beth Hamon/Team Slow - 94
5 - Dani Dance/River City Bicycles - 75

Points are awarded for the top fifteen places (consider that most categories have more racers than that and Womens' Singlespeed is in only its second year as a separate category). The top 4 overall have raced nearly every week of the series (or, in my case, I've raced every week but DNF'd once). At the end of the series the lowest score of the eight will be tossed out and the remaining seven tallied for final overall placement. Based on the math, it looks like I have a chance to move up a spot from last year's placement, to fourth overall. If this happens I may throw a party. Or something.

This morning I felt surprisingly good. I slept better last night and woke up feeling more rested. My legs were tired on the commute to work but did not protest when I asked them to push up Sabin Hill just a little harder. There was no pain. It was an amazing sensation, to feel tired and stronger at the same time. I am enjoying these moments of notcing the positive changes in myself this year. I'd like to use them as a base for what might be possible with more focused preparation over the winter. (I guess that's another way of saying that, although I've recently scored a geard mountain bike, I'm not really ready to give up racing singlespeed just yet.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

race report: PIR short-track # 7

An early morning thunderstorm tamped down a lot of the pollen out at PIR. I was underslept, but decided I'd go and have fun no matter what. And I did.

The course this week was very technical, twisty-turny and decidedly BMX-y out on the moto track, with off-camber transitions that sent many Cat 3 riders crashing yet made me grin with delight. The whoops were run in reverse, meaning that if you didn't watch your speed you'd catch some air. Easily the happiest course I've ridden all series. I knocked out my three laps (I wasn't even close to being able to pull out a fourth this time, the course and the lead riders were all so fast!), and noted that I didn't need to stop for my inhaler once during the race. I also noticed that my legs felt uncommonly strong, which I could only chalk up to two days off the bike over the weekend (all other variables being equal). Major bonus: Sweetie came out to watch, wave the Team Slow sign, ring her cowbell and scream her lungs out. Past a certain point in my race, when the oxygen deprivation had kicked in, I could no longer really see her, but I heard her all over the course and it definitely made a difference. (I don't know what I'll do when cyclocross season starts and Sweetie stays home -- it's too cold and crowded a scene for her and our deal is she pretty much only comes to watch me race short-track -- I'll sure miss her voice out on the course when I'm bogged down in three feet of mud.)

In short, I had a really satisfying race and felt more like a real racer than I have all summer.

Our team representation was smaller tonight, with only three of us racing singlespeed or Cat 2 age group; several regular players were either working late, on vacation or getting over illness. Mielle (my pal from Team S & M and not entirely of this earth) nabbed second place in her age group and looks to be on track to podium in the series overall. I will not be shocked if she also makes podium at the OBRA [Oregon] State Championship short-track race next weekend. As we watched some of the final race, Kris (the race organizer) came over and chatted with us. He commented that showing up every week was how you earned points, and that it was possible to make podium if you raced consistently every single week of the series. He grinned right at me as he said it. Was this a hint? I preferred not to make anything of it. After six races I was in fourth overall, but I'm not sure where I'll end up. Kristin was gone this week and I got a DNF a couple of weeks ago. They toss the lowest result and tally up the other seven races, so in the end I suspect Kristin could still make the series podium (which would be really cool, considering she's been racing the double for most of the series).

Next up: OBRA Champs on Saturday. I've been advised that the course is pretty darned flat, and not really suited to singlespeed. Whatever. I'll go and race and have a good time. And I'll hope that more than three women show up for Womens' Singlespeed this year.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

on doing hard things

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

(a tip of the chapeau to DC for posting this quote there first.)

In June of 2005, on the advice of my doctor, I began keeping track of my mileage: daily, weekly, and monthly.

In 2006, I found out about C-KAP, a health-oriented Canadian organization that gives out awards for racking up the miles (or kilometers, as the case may be), and I joined, mostly to give myself a reward for racking up miles and to see how I compared with other people doing the same thing.

In 2007, I enrolled myself in a multi-day charity ride and spent seven months training for it. Along the way I discovered the sport of Randonneuring, and tossed off five metric centuries before riding the actual 210-mile, three day event. (I managed 141 miles before my knee gave out.)

In 2008, I completed three more metric centuries, or populaires as they're called in Rando-land; and discovered that, while I was capable of riding that distance, the recovery involved was agonizingly long. It would take me more than a week to recover from a 62-mile ride. Further, I was so slow that I rode these events entirely alone; on the one hand it was a test of my mental strength, but on the other hand it was just lonely. That's when I suspected that long-distance riding might not be for me. That fall, at a cyclocross race where I'd helped out in the pits, a friend dared me to try the sport the following year. He suggested I race short-track on my mountain bike first, to get the feel of racing off-road and build up some strength over the summer.

And so in 2009, I lined up for my first bicycle race. Clad in a t-shirt, army cut-offs and Vans, I willed my cobbled-together singlespeed mountain bike around the berms, through the rhythm section and across the finish line. I finished dead last, but I finished, and I found my new bicycling activity. I became a bicycle racer.

2011 marks my third season of bicycle racing and I continue to love it. Each season, I have added some element of growth and learning to the experience. This year, I added weight work in the winter and learned to embrace my weekly [push-]mowings of the lawn as an excellent upper-body workout. I added intervals to my commutes once or twice a week. Although I didn't really get any faster I did get stronger, even with the addition of an asthma diagnosis and a couple of different inhalers along the way.

Thinking about the above quote and my experiences over the last several years, I realize now that I am meant to do hard things and somehow thrive by them; and that part of the experience is learning to embrace the hardness of them, no matter the outcome.

Ten years ago, I went to graduate school. It didn't work out, but not for lack of my trying. It just didn't work out. There were too many hurdles for me to get over. I wasn't really equipped for the experience (spiritually, academically or financially) and the school was teetering on the edge of financial collapse (though I did not know that when I enrolled, and they tried hard to hide the fact). I came home with my tail between my legs, sorry and slightly embarrassed that I managed to complete only a semester of graduate school. I put my musical dreams on a shelf and went back to the work I knew how to do.

It's not that the last ten years have been a waste -- very far from it. In leaving grad school, I fell deeply and madly in love, got married, and helped care for my father in the last months of his life. And I put down some real roots in my community.
But I've arrived at a place where it's time for me to go back and look at the interruption, the high brick wall I ran into when I realized that grad school wasn't working out and I'd better stop before it got any more expensive. Maybe grad school wasn't the answer, or maybe that particular program wasn't the answer; but there was something to my dreams that demanded reexamination.

And so I have begun the process of sifting through my dreams and considering where they fit into my life now. It is clear to me that the last few years that I've spent doing hard things are serving me well in this process. In fact, they have shown me what kind of focus and self-discipline I'm capable of. Combined with the love and support of my Sweetie, my friends and family, I feel ready to examine new ideas and new opportunities and see where they might take me. This process begins with going back and looking at where I left off when I halted my graduate studies. I hope I'll get some useful information in the next few months, about myself and maybe a sense of what I'm here for.

It will be hard, at least sometimes. But there's something to be said for doing hard things, no matter the end result.

Friday, July 22, 2011

hype of the week: 1979 blue stars

Admission: I loved Chuck Mangione when I was a teenager.

It's true. Chuck played a mean flugelhorn and provided the pageantry arts (marching band and drum corps) with some great material to turn into field shows in the late 70's and early 80's. And before you argue and say that the material was sometimes misplaced in an arena that was still struggling against its military roots, check out this old-school offering from the Blue Stars at the 1979 DCI Championship Finals, "Children of Sanchez". Dig the super-clean drumming throughout! Also note that, in spite of lesser instruments (those earlier two-valved bugles were notorious for intonation troubles), the hornline puts out a great sound here, tight and pretty full-bodied. Those "cracks" at 1:09 are gun shots from a starter's pistol, to signal the minimum time limit and the end of official judging time for the field show. The execution judges will leave the field at this point. (You won't see that at a drum corps show today; they did away with the starters' pistol sometime in the 1980's.)

Hype Of The Week ends next Friday (7/29) with a double-header, because I will be racing at both the OBRA STXC Championships AND the final night of the PIR short-track series.
If you're local, you have three chances left to check out short-track racing in Portland: Monday evening 7/25 at PIR, Saturday morning at Westview HS in beaverton, and Monday evening August 1 at PIR. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

evidence: stxc 7-18-11

Evidence of my participation:

PIR short-track 7-18-11

(photo by Shane Young)

I had just come out of a hard turn into a very tough, off-camber climb. In four laps I managed to climb it twice without getting off and running it. Thankfully, Shane caught me actually riding the thing. SO tough.

Hype Time returns tomorrow! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

race report: PIR short-track # 6

The Ugly, The Bad and The Good:

1. The Ugly: My last lap hurt like a [expletive deleted]. I was in the wrong place on the course when they changed over from bell lap to final-checkered-flag lap and I had to do my final lap pretty much all by myself on the course, a humiliating feeling when you're the last one out there, everyone has finished at least a minute or two ahead of you, and the next bunch are waiting for you to get the hell off the course so they can start their race. My last lap really and truly sucked, and I pretty much dragged myself over the finish line.

2. The Bad: The course was made somewhat tacky and even muddy in spots by a light, steady rain that fell for about an hour before the kiddie races at 5:45. Parts of the moto course resembled a cyclocross course. Trying to find a line was ridiculous, especially for the Cat 3's and Juniors who raced first. By the time it was my turn, the sun had come back and dried sections of the course, and there were actually a few decent lines. Unfortunately, there were also some deep ruts in the mud that were treacherous to navigate -- and heaven help you if you lost momentum and stopped (which I did, once) because powering the pedals up again was impossibly hard. In fact, in spite of how relatively flat and fast the course was tonight, having to pick my lines through the muddy spots really sapped my energy.

3. The Good: I managed four laps. Yes, four. (Though the first lap was a start lap and they may not count it for anyone, I still crossed the finish line four times.) I did not need my inhaler at all out on the course, because the rain had tamped everything down; even the cottonwood tufts weren't as bad as last week. This was my hardest race yet and I felt I had to redeem myself in order to come back and keep racing at all. And I finished. Four Freaking Laps. That was enough to take away the sting of ending up last yet again. Having the loudest team and cheering section in OBRA certainly helped, and so did all the random spectators out on the course who recognized me and shouted encouragement along the way on every lap. Heintz and Julie came out to watch and it was great to see them there, even if I was too winded to respond to their cheers.

At the end of my race, I felt like I still enjoyed doing really hard things, and knew that I wanted to come back next week for more. It was definitely a good night.

Friday, July 15, 2011

hype of the week: 1978 bridgemen

In the 1970's, the Bayonne Bridgemen were the Philadelphia Phillies of drum corps: scruffy, cocky, with ponytails and facial hair and swagger. Their "banana coat" uniforms were decidedly UN-militaristic. In an era when color guards were still expected to march high-step and do little more than present the colors, the Bridgemen color guard was doing shoulder rolls and booby shakes like a salsa line at Carnival. They weren't always clean, but they were always entertaining.

For your viewing pleasure: "Spanish Dreams" from their 1978 DCI Finals show. I don't know what the guard designer was thinking (what IS the rifle line wearing? They look like blue space suits), but there are some great horn solos and good shot of drumline intensity at around 2:18. Enjoy, and see you at the races, where I promise to do better this time.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

team photo

All happy in our new kit, after the final races of the Mt. Tabor crit series:

(photo by Ben Salzberg)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

race report: PIR short-track # 5

Numbers at PIR were noticeably smaller last night. The weather was cool and a little muggy, with highs not even at 70 degrees by racetime. Rain clouds were gathering in the west and the breeze was almost too chilly for a bike race in the middle of July. And when I arrived at the venue, I immediately began to wheeze. The cottonwood tufts were in full bloom and blowing all over the course.

I took a short practice lap, and fifty feet into it I needed my inhaler. I took a huff and kept going, taking my turns at the sharp corners through the singletrack, clearing the log, and managing to power up most of the berms without getting off and walking. I was conscious of wanting to keep a little in the tank for the actual race, so I skipped large sections of the course and gave myself time to stretch and drink some water. I helped with the Kiddie Race (I screwed up by ending the big kids' race at the wrong pair of trees and kids complained the race was too short -- sorry, kids), distributed treats, gave Sweetie a kiss as she arrived to watch and then I did a few hot laps in the parking lot.

But the stress I'd been wrestling with for so many weeks finally blew its stack this past week, doing a real number on my body as well as my mind -- I'd been exhausted all weekend, physically and emotionally. The cottonwood salad I was eating and breathing with every turn of the cranks felt worse with every hot lap. I gave up on the hot laps early and went and hung out in the start area. With all of that going on, I knew that my heart wasn't really in the race. Just finishing would be a real challenge.

I lined up, engaged in some lighthearted banter with the other women, took a third huff from my inhaler, and then we were off. The course was really fast in some palces (especially in the singletrack) and slow in others (the entire motocross course had been groomed with bark dust for the benefit of the weekend motorcycle racers, and the bark dust made for some slippiness beneath my rear tire). Dust was flying everywhere, along with the cottonwood tufts. I could not breathe. I was still hanging with the rest of the field because they were bottlenecked in the trees, so I chose not to pull off for another huff. Finally making it onto the moto course, I managed to climb most of the berms this week (my legs felt much stronger than they did two weeks ago) and although I was slow as molasses I managed to find decent lines all over the course. The mid-field drop-down was back from last year, fun as ever, and my bike handled beautifully. In short, on a decent night this would have been one of the most fun courses ever for short-track season; and most of my friends agreed. Kristin raced the double again this week, and somehow managed to shout out encouragement even as she raced further and further ahead of me on the course. I grunted a few times in her direction but couldn't really offer anything coherent while eating spoonful after spoonful of dust.

My lungs were beginning to rebel. At the top of the last berm at the end of the midfield rhythm section I ran out of breath and gas, and had to run my bike up and pull off to the side to avoid getting run over by the singlespeed and masters' men breathing down my neck. Things began to suck quickly and steadily after that.

As I approached the last straightaway before a hard left turn towards the finish slope, a Cat II Masters' racer aggressively cut me off, yelling loudly as he passed, and that pretty much killed my momentum right there. I gasped, inhaled dust and cottonwood and could not breathe. To get up the steep finish slope I would have had to dismount my bike and run with it. But I could not breathe, and in my heart I suddenly didn't care about the race anymore. Remembering the advice I'd been given earlier in the week about taking care of myself and listening to my body, I pulled off the course ten feet short of the finish line, gasped at Candi to mark me as DNF, and pulled behind the officials' tent to take another huff of my inhaler. I stood there for a full minute, huffing and waiting for the Albuterol to work. Then, dismayed but surprisingly not emotionally shattered about it, I pulled my bike off the race course, went and sat down and called it a night.

Sweetie knew what I'd been working with and understood when I told her why I'd stopped. She'd been worried about my breathing and wheezing -- she'd felt the dryness and dust in her throat, too -- and was glad that the inhaler was working. I felt bad about DNF'g, especially with Sweetie there to watch me race, but knew that I had done the right thing by not continuing. And I reminded myself that DNF (Did Not Finish) is not nearly as sad an outcome as DNS (Did Not Start). As my pal Heintz reminded me, "Hey, you're out there doing it and I'm sitting here watching." He and Sweetie told me repeatedly that I was still a rockstar to them. Sweetie urged me to go out with my teammates for the post-race beer. I did, deciding to ride all the way to the Red Fox to make up for the lack of mileage in my race. It was slow going, and I needed my inhaler once along the way, but my legs still felt strong; apparently, it was only my lungs that didn't feel like playing. And my heart, a little bit.

More troubling for me and Kristin is the fact that the Womens' Singlespeed category has not grown this year. This week, only five women raced in the category, and there is concern that if we don't see some growth in the category the race organizer will take the category away in 2012 -- meaning that women racing on singlespeed bikes will have to do so in an age-graded category or an almost entirely male singlespeed category.

Going to the Red Fox afterwards helped immensely -- it was good, really good, to hang with my friends over a shared platter of fries and a glass of beer.

This week I am working on getting the stress under some control and listening to my body some more. I'm getting a referral for some accupunture later this week, which will hopefully help with both the stress and the asthma. And I'll come back next week and try to finish strong.

Monday, July 11, 2011

ride slower, taste and enjoy

Yesterday I led the third annual Tuv Ha'Aretz Bike Garden Tour.

spoke card, year three

It was a smaller group than in past years but we had a lovely ride. This year we focused on the role of gardening and food in community, so instead of visiting a series of home-based edible gardens we stopped at a couple of spectacular community gardens and had a tour and lunch at Columbia EcoVillage, an intentional cooperative community.

Although I'm not as big on gardens and gardening as Sweetie is -- Tuv is really her thing, she's on the steering committee and stuff -- I still had a good time checking out the gardens with everyone on what turned out to be a beautiful, nearly perfect summer morning.

columbia ecovillage

More photos here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

hype of the week: 1979 spirit of atlanta, "let it be me"

Hype time returns with a blast from an era When Amplification Was Not Required In Drum Corps.

Last year's Hype of the Week fans will remember another clip from Spirit, owners of The Loudest Horn Line On Earth from the late 1970's up through around 1990. This year, Sprit returns to the Hype lineup with one of the most memorable closers in DCI history, from the 1979 Finals. People actually left the stadium humming this tune!

There's some nice close-up footage of the rifle line (was 1979 their first year with a co-ed guard? Not sure), a few good shots of the timp line (this was before grounded percussion, back when we carried our timpani -- this is the SOLE reason Yours Truly is round-shouldered and sway-backed today), and some wide shots of the drill -- dig the full company front at around 2:16. (Park-It-And-Blow commences at around 2:51).

If you want something approximating the danger element of this hornline, it's probably best to plug in the headphones before you turn up the volume.
Enjoy, and I'll see you at the races.

Monday, July 4, 2011

rest and recovery

Tonight as I type this, too many of our neighbors in this block and the next are setting off illegal fireworks. They are ridiculously loud and they are terrifying one of our cats (the other seems almost unaffected by the noise, a phenomenon I can't explain). We are trying to be as comforting as we can.


We got home today from a few days camping in Central Oregon, part of my much-needed rest and recovery plan. Not only did I need a break from riding and racing, I also needed a serious break from the various and sundry woes of my modern life. So did Sweetie. So off we went to dip our feet the healing waters of the Metolius River.

We settled into our campsite and became acquainted with the flora...



...and the fauna...

(a Cascades frog, or so we think)


(some kind of baby caterpillar hatchling sac; these were hanging on bushes by the thousands in our campsite)


We found time to hike and swim, sing and make Shabbat, and to enjoy each other in a very quiet, green place of incredible beauty. And that was really what we needed more than anything.

(on the trail to Cabot Lake, hiking through a burn area from the B & B fire)

on the way to cabot lake

I'm not really ready to return to work tomorrow.
Our weekend was simple, sweet and beautiful, and too short.