Friday, February 6, 2009

Gyrating in Dirt

After I spent about 15 minutes trying to get my pimpin' new loaner mountain bike into my car ...

...without removing any wheels (it's got a funky fork, so it's best not to mess with it) (oh, and it did not go willingly, but Jen, it went carefully, I swear! Success!), I headed to China Camp.

I was late!!!

Michael More was eating pasta in his car when I arrived. Looked, but didn't see a microwave. Hm. Wonder if he'd cooked it on the engine block. He's a plumbing contractor. But today, he generously took a break to show me how to shred.

Well, I'm currently unemployed, but he was really nice to agree to help me out (he had to show me how the shifters worked, that's what he was dealing with) so I paid him in home-baked chocolate chip cookies:

Michael immediately informed me that one of the cookies was broken:

So. Lesson 1: How to build a bike trail on protected land.


First lesson was on gravel. He told me to take a tight turn. After I'd
gone in a circle for a while, he asked me what was going on for me while I was turning. I told him I was really nauseated. And that to effect the turn, I'd steered the handlebars while trying to relax.

He told me that was exactly what he'd wanted to hear. I beamed! Because that's wrong, said he.

You steer with your eyes. Your head is a gyroscope. It stays level, always up, scanning where you want to go. Smoothly. Your body, and your bike, will follow. Don't get fixated on the trail.

So it was Bayview, to Oakridge, to Shoreline.

He was so right. I'd heard it before ("look where you're going, not where you are"), but I think the gyroscope concept made it happen for me. And using him for target practice (he stood in the turn, telling me to look at him while he walked through it, as I rode through it just behind him). And trusting that it would work. I fought hard with the urge to preview my impending death as I turned toward the embankment, but the gyroscope prevailed, and I made every last switchback. Every one. Even the hairpin turn on a descent at the end.

I did have to try a couple switchbacks more than once to get them without unclipping my foot from the pedal, or stopping. But he waited until I'd executed each one successfully. And he cheered me on the whole way.

Besides switchbacks, we did a little drop-off thingy, and we practiced some downhill technique. (weight over the back wheel, look up, feet at nine and three, front brake only, emergency exit off the back!). But the double black diamond downhill comes later. Brown sugar brownies for that one.

The only time I shrieked was when we collided at the beginning of the ride. So we got that out of the way early.

Funny thing is, he chatted me up during the really terrifying skinny-rocky-6"-wide-trail-on-edge-of-a-cliff parts ("Do you watch British TV shows?"), and then afterwards, he'd say, "I didn't want to tell you this, but only three people have ever made it through that section alive [high five]." And then he'd make a point to stop at random easy parts and say things like, "it's very important that you look out for this twig."

Whatever his technique, it works. What a phenomenal teacher.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Money for Nothin'/Eggs for Free

The free Ikea Breakfast

Get 8 hours of sleep the night before and muster all strength.

Enter through the exit door (there will be soup kitchen-caliber lines at the front entrance, even on a weekday morning - consider the economy for chrissakes).

Deep breath. Push forward. Literally, if needed. Don't worry, it's Ikea. Brandish your free tape measure and mini pencil.

Don't take off your sunglasses (or put them on, if it's raining out). You'll come upon a large energy-efficient-flourescent-lightbulbly-lit area, filled beyond legal capacity, not only with brightly colored strewn-about chairs, and blindingly white tables, but also with aggressive primates. Focus on the primate in front of you, and guard your position in the Disneyland ride line that will take you to the free food.

Sweaty Line Cooks will hurl plates onto the counter. Be vigilant, these SLCs are about to get laid off, and there's no guardrail on the counter.

The Free Brekkie Challenge

This here is where you'll encounter your first major obstacle. It's after 10 am (Ikea opens at 10, hullo), and you haven't yet had your coffee, nor have you eaten. You're weak. You're stressed. You're humiliated to be eating alone at Ikea of all places, when all the other Ikea losers seem to have brought their unemployed buddies with them. And their 17 screaming kids. I think it's fair to say, without exaggeration, that you're under duress.

And SLCs will be yelling at the top of their lungs. At you. What about?

About what else you can get that isn't free.

A larger breakfast.
A cinnamon bun.

Ladies and gentlemen, that's why you brought your bright orange earplugs. The ones you might have worn to your Tuesday morning spin class, when every song had the work "fuck" in it, and the yoga teacher opened the door of the shared gym wall to ask the instructor to please turn down "America, Fuck Yeah" during shivasana. Take them out of each side pocket of your jeans (your "holsters") with each hand, make pistol discharge noises pointing first one, then the other, and stick them in your ears. You're now ready for the counter-attack.

The Counter-Attack

Every time one of the SLCs yells at you, yell back "WHÄT" even louder. Make sure there's an umlaut in your "WHÄT," for greater effect.

Since there's power in confusion, you might consider throwing out a random "PJÄTTERYD!!!" which is apparently an olive motif painting created by Peter Westrup (available in the self-serve section, dowstairs), but it's close to sounding like it could be a bowel disorder, which might shake them up long enough for you to make your escape.

The Coffee Challenge

The highest potential for great violence occurs here, so stop skimming and focus for just a second.

The coffee will be gone at 10:03, before you've made it through the food line. Just accept it as truth. Assume a strategic position near the creamer and wait. Look menacingly at the other coffee loving bastards and their idiot buddies, and know they don't stand a chance. You're from the east coast. Fight for position with the SLC bringing the coffee. Make sure she's the only one who gets through. You're gold, Jerry. Gold. Fill, cream, and run.


The Confession

I bought a cinnamon bun. It was only a dollar more.

A Viable Alternative

Anyway, you could do Trader Joe's instead. It's 3 blocks away, they open at 9, there's always coffee, and today there were banana waffles. The portions are tiny, but that's good for your waistline. And if you want to get fancy, you can time your arrival(s) at the demo counter to staff shift changes and whatnot, so no one really knows how many waffles and coffees you've had.

I was thinking about bringing my huge stainless steel Sigg thermos, filling up, and videotaping their reaction.

Hey, don't bite my moves.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Well, I'm hoping to do a marathon one day, but it sure as hell won't be the Nike.

Click ------> Nike.

Hey! Did you read about the Nike marathon yet?

Not that I could ever do one in even close to 3 hours, but still!
Punishing the underdog?! The trophies are supposed to mean something! What good is a stupid first place trophy to a finisher who finished second? Kinda like having a crappy shoe just for the swoosh on it. Take them back, you morons, and distribute them justly!


So...I've gotten cards (OK, "card"), visitors (Parents! Friends! Puppies!) (OK, "puppy"), home-made mac 'n cheese, all of which was so great and healing, and - bonus! - a paraffin wax spa hand treatment (I asked my fabulous physical therapist if I could get my hands dipped in the therapeutic wax dippy thing while I was there even though there's nothing wrong with my hands, and she was all "why not," and then my hands were silky smooth like butter), and my arm's getting better! And I got through my less-unbearably-silly-then-I-thought required spinning instructor training course, and I picked grapes in Healdsburg with a bunch of other people, to help out a friend with a winery! And my parents discovered a library down the street from my house, so I finally read T is for Trespass.

AND, my previous employer sent me a letter, saying they'd reconsidered the stoppage of benefits so soon after the layoff, so my health insurance is covered through the end of the year.

turns out I'm not the only one beside myself about the construction craziness that's been going on in my building since July: my upstairs neighbor contacted all of us in the building to form a coalition to end it. He's an architect and he just informed me that the landlord had refused his help! Power to the people!

And that's my report.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Halves and Holes

I did the San Jose Rock and Roll half-marathon today! Yay!

My time was super slow (2:10 ish); my goal while training was under 2 hours, but I've developed a heel spur, so I was really happy to finish. And lucky: my support team included a doctor, who diagnosed me, taped me, and brainstormed with me to come up with what ultimately worked: A strategically placed hole that we cut into the ineffective heel cup I'd bought, so that my weight didn't come down so hard on the bone spur. A bone spur doughnut! Effective combo with Judy's awesome (!!) taping job, it turned out, because I was able to run 13.1 miles, when I'd been unable to strike my heel against the ground without intense pain the night before.

Plus, a little help from Wendy, who cut my black toenail completely out of the same foot with a pair of clippers (ewww!). I've got some photos of that operation, but my camera was accidentally left with Wendy, so the visuals will have to wait. I know! I'm disappointed too!

So, I've been ordered to take 800 miligrams of ibuprofen for at least 3 days and stay off of it, and the timing's great because I'm having elbow surgery tomorrow morning (it's now or never - my health insurance coverage only lasts through October), and won't be allowed to work out for a week after that. And I'm sure I'll be taking some anti-inflammatories for the elbow. AND...I could ask for a cortisone shot in the heel while I'm out! But I doubt the hand surgeon would do it, and one invasive procedure at a time please! But maybe I'll mention it....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


So not the Year of Laura!

Laid off. One of over 100 positions eliminated.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My True Calling

My set list for this morning's spin class was nothing short of brilliant. I had to come up with music for the following:

10-minute warm-up
12 minutes medium endurance (approx 80-85% of HR max if you haven't had your lactate threshold test)
3-minute recovery
12 minutes medium endurance
3-minute recovery
5 x 30-second-all-out-sprints followed by 30-second recovery (OUCH!!!)
12 minutes medium endurance (what? no 3-minute recovery???)
3-minute cool-down

So I decided to make the first ME set all Tower of Power, all the time. Bring it back to Oaktown, baby. Then -

(and here's the brilliant part)

Then, for the first 3-minute recovery, I played this funkified version of the Sanford and Son theme song that had somehow ended up in my iTunes, not sure how, but I liked the transition, because it was still funk/horns and it happened to be the perfect length (3 minutes). And more to the point -

(and here's where I focus on the true brilliance without all the pre-brilliance build-up, or yapping, depending on how you look at it)

And more to the point, the next ME set, the one to which Sanford and Son was transitioning, was a set of Garbage. (The band "Garbage," that is. e.g. Stupid Girl. A great workout song, if you haven't already noticed).

Get it?!?!?!

Only one other person in my class did. Or maybe the rest of them were just preoccupied with the 5-minute sprint set to come, which was barfy indeed, especially the last 2 sprints. The sprint set was inspired by this past weekend's ride with Mel, who'd traded 30-second pulls with me until I thought I was going to die (in an intersection, too busy going into cardiac arrest to stop at a red light), and who then said what we'd just done would be great in a spin class.

This is all very timely (finding my true calling as a spin jockey, hullo?), because something HUGE is going down at work tomorrow, following a budget crisis meeting yesterday. All I know is that they're being very mysterious, and I have a meeting about who-knows-what with my supervisor at 11 am, which I was told I don't need to prepare for. I guess I'll find out then if I still have a job.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Demolition Derby

My kitchen looks like this:My bathroom now looks better than this, but there is only 8 inches of space between the new low-flow toilet and the fancy not-quite-functional-yet sink. It's been 2 weeks now without a functional bathroom sink.....or door....So anyway, as you can tell from the photo, that's not much space. You're touching the toilet bowl with your legs as you bend (theoretically, so far) to wash your face. Which would necessitate a shower, because that's just gross.

Fortunately, I wasn't home much this weekend, so not much time to dwell on my dwelling. Spent Saturday morning cycling 53-ish miles to Danville Peets
(where I just noticed an historical photo in the bathroom on this trip; apparently Peets is really old! I thought it was a fairly recent Starbucks offshoot!) and back with Mel on Saturday, including alternating 30-second sprint pulls to warm me up since the sun never came out. I came back and took a shower. Then, as I was heading out to crush grapes at Bobby's winery with some other grape-crushing civilians, I threw my towel over the curtain rod (the only place to hang things these days). I heard a loud pop, and experienced excruciating pain in my bad elbow, which I suddenly was unable to straighten too much without more excruciating pain. So I threw on an ice pack and gingerly drove my stick-shift over there all bent-elbowed, wondering whether I'd even be able to help much at the winery. When I got there, Bobby just had me pushing a button on the crusher dealio! And drinking wine! So it all worked out. And Mark gave me an elbow massage, which didn't solve the problem, but sure felt good.

And then, after Bobby treated us all to dinner at Fellini's, some of us headed to a party of a friend of one of the grape crushers. There was karaoke! Here I am doing a Janis impersonation. You can't see the open bottle of whiskey in this shot.
Lots of musician-types were there, it turns out. I found out later in the evening that I had just sung back-up (99 Red Balloons) for a professional operah singer. She was young, and not at all fat! But there wasn't much vibrato going on there, so she must have been holding back.

Then Sunday, I had to do a long run on a wine headache. I got out later than I'd hoped, and it was a flat run instead of Chabot as I'd planned. But I got 'er done, all 10 miles, just in the nick of time (I saw a really bloody/violent miniature dog fight en route - it was one of the owners who was actually the bloody one, a Paris-type in a bikini who'd tried to separate the 2 locked dog jaws). Quick shower, and then took off with Aaron, who'd invited me to see the Chihuly blown glass exhibit at the de Young. Amazing eye candy. You've never seen anything like this. You'd better hurry up and get there, because next weekend is this exhibit's last. Buy tickets ahead; it sells out.

The most interesting thing about Chihuly? Saw a photo of him in the lobby. He's got an eye patch. An eye patch!

"Who better to fashion himself a glass eye?" you might wonder. And yet.