About This Blog

As time permits, in-depth musings on myriad subjects will be posted. Abbreviated adages will be announced via Twitter.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Jack-ass 3: The County Convention

Let me begin by saying that it was not my car in the parking lot which sported the "W" sticker. I learned my lesson early in the first go-round, thank you very much.

For anyone who has ever wondered how one living in the good old U.S. of A. could become disillusioned with the idea of democracy and/or the election process, I invite them to look no further than their county party convention. However, "invite" might be the wrong word; "condemn," maybe. Or "suffer." Yes, suffer, for that is exactly what I did for a little under six hours yesterday morning and afternoon at the Guadalupe County Democratic Convention.

Way back on Texas Primary day, I made the somewhat foolish mistake of signing up to be an alternate to the convention. With but two days remaining until the convention, and no word from anyone about my required presence at the convention, I presumed I was "out of the woods" and made plans for Saturday, including a ride with SAW, as well as dinner and a hockey game with N---, S---, and K---. Come Thursday, though, I got a phone call. And an email. After a return phone call, where I was assured all would be wrapped up within four hours; I would be finished by 2 o'clock. It is with this assurance in mind that I set out Saturday morning to perform my civic duty. I should have known by the overflowing parking lot at the Lion's Hall down the road that this would not end well.

By 9:15, I was signed in as an alternate and seated in the hall, waiting for the show to get going. A cursory glance at the agenda revealed that my 2:00 PM time frame was off by an hour; if all went well, we'd be out around three o'clock. All was not going well, as semi-organized chaos ruled supreme in the lair of the Lion's. Microphone problems and other setup issues were resolved relatively quickly, and, at 10:03, the county chairperson began introductions and a series of hackneyed political rhetoric. Shortly after, the chair admitted he was stalling for time because roll call for delegates had not been remedied, so he introduced a few of the county candidates for local positions: one constable and one precinct chair. The former proved why an outline or some form of organization of thoughts for public speaking is a good thing by rambling on for better than ten minutes about his own history and a non-profit organization he's established in the county seat. All I really got out of why he would make a better constable was that he's established an NPO, is a veteran, and is younger than the current constable. Yes, younger. Well, shucks. No wonder there was such a dynamic turnout for the Democratic party this year: The presidential candidates on their side of the fence are younger than that of the Republican. Heck, I'm sure Clinton & Obama combined are younger than McCain. But, I digress.

The second candidate kept things mercifully short, acknowledging she did not have much to say, simply asking for votes; guess she was running unopposed. Surprise, surprise.

Two-and-a-half hours after arriving, it is determined that I am to be bumped up to a delegate. Why it took them two-and-a-half hours to determine this is beyond me, for none of the @#(%* delegates from my precinct bothered to show up; only alternates did. Because of this, three precincts wound up being combined in order to get some predetermined number of folks to vote for delegates. This took another hour, another thirty minutes to go outside and determine who would be delegate to the state convention, who would be alternate, and then develop & implement strategies to ensure the delegate guaranteed to vote for the candidate that our "side" wanted would win the precinct vote. Sounds a lot like cheating, and, in a way it was. I felt like such a whore for allowing myself to be used as such but I just wanted to get it over with. Ironic, that, the night before, N--- & I had watched Goya's Ghost, which used the backdrop of the latter days of the Spanish Inquisition (and subsequent days & effects of the French Revolution -- egads! will I ever be rid of that blasted subject?) to tell its story, part of which focused on what people will do to stop pain. And that was me: I just wanted the pain to stop and get on with it.

Precincts successfully divided over the candidate & delegate selection, we rejoined the rest of the delegates and began voting on resolutions to be put before the state convention. After a handful of resolutions (there were some twenty or thirty requiring voting), I excused myself and made for home. I'd had enough. Yeah, I'm pleased as punch to call America home, and the country has been good to me, but I just can't help but feel we, the citizens, have had the proverbial wool pulled over our collective eyes. Even at the local level, power rests in the hands of those who, literally, play the system and have the time to do so. Most are white men; even more are retired. And the masses remain mute for no better reason than to not want to rock the boat. Smile, nod, and pray that it'll all work out in the end.

Speaking of the end, this is the end of this one. Thanks for reading.//d

Friday, March 28, 2008

Is This Thing On?

After a week and a day, I am led to believe that the computer geniuses at AccuWeb have fixed my Blog problem, again. I say "again" because this wasn't the first time I encountered publishing errors, and, from the sound of it, I am not alone. A cursory perusal of the 'groups' section at Google gives one the impression there are some serious coding errors in Google's blogging software and its abilities to work with all servers. They don't seem too keen on fixing them, nor do they seem too willing to communicate directly with their end-users to. With practices like these, Google could very well be the next Microsoft.

Slam against the software giants complete, I am off to shower and then head to work. I've been a lot under the weather the past few days, and tomorrow's stint at the county Democratic convention may be just well-enough timed to give me some of the rest I require but am so hesitant to take. Oh, and I'm racing next Sunday, too. Check back the afternoon of the sixth to find out just how hysterical (or tragic) that will be. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

To Race or Not to Race?

I told myself I would not race in 2008. I broke that vow today by signing up for the Longhorn 70.3 that takes place in October. Right now, instead of cleaning my wreck of a house, I am debating whether or not to register for an Olympic-distance race that will be held up at TSR in early April. Yeah, as in a few weeks. Yup, it's primed for one of those "Gee, imagine if I would've trained" reminisces that seem so popular on this site.

Rather than act irrationally, for the Longhorn did rely upon much thought and was possible only because of some significant savings on a major purchase (shh...it's a secret!), I will wait on deciding upon the Spenco Olympic. Same goes for BSLT 70.3 (N--- wants to go view the course, for it is her goal to race it after finishing graduate school), and any other race for that matter. It would likely work to my advantage to wait, as I emailed off to SportKilt tonight touting the glories of the Hiking Kilt and a casual request for sponsorship. In any event, I'm going to need to pick up my training in order to have even a good showing on the Parkway. Fortunately, I'm feeling frisky after this morning's session with Y Knot; L--- rocks as a PT.

The clock on the computer reads 10:19 PM, which means it's likely closer to 10:30. I really need to go get my butt in gear on house cleaning. N--- is coming over tomorrow, and it'd be a shame to have her truck cleaner than my house.

Stay tuned to find out how the racing goes (or doesn't). As always, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Extreme DVD

My DVD player crapped out on me the other day, so I headed over to the local Sony outlet store and eyed a 400-disc changer for a hair over one C-note. My walkout price, including extended warranty was $149, a fraction of what I paid for my first DVD player. I get it home, get it loaded and am floored by the quality over my previous Denon player. Trouble is, the changer is friggin' huge. Plus, programming data for the ~150 DVDs that did not have pre-coded data looks to be a right pain in the rumpus. Do I really need a 400-disc changer? Do I really want to spend the rest of my spring break programming DVD data?

Hmm...as I type this, I think I have found my answer. It's back to Sony I go...

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Invisible Hill

Spring Break is finally here. Nine whole days without the pressures of school. The kids get to go to the coast (or wherever it is they actually do go) while the teachers get to...grade. This one gets to ride his bike, too.

The break started out nice enough. Friday night: Softball game, ride home (including seeing B--- -- haven't seen him in a coon's age!), quick trip to San Marcos to pick up a new DVD player. Saturday: 50-mile ride with SAW in the morning, followed by a lovely afternoon with N--- (she's feeling better now [thank you for your concern]), including a hike around Friederich Wildernessl Area. I am so looking forward to this trail running thing. Sunday: Rest & recovery day, including a workout at the gym, where my right leg reminded me it's still FUBAR'd and needs some attention. That'll come tomorrow & Wednesday.

Today found me out on my bike again, this time for a 68-mile round-trip jaunt out to the lake and back. The 'back' part was a real bear, too, as the wind was howling at gale-force velocity the entire trip. Going out wasn't so bad, as it was mostly to the rear (never a direct tailwind), but once I turned on to River Road in Sattler, the ride exploded in toughness. Yes, there was the aforementioned wind, but River Road is apparently undergoing some repairs and is extremely rough over about a two-mile stretch. Thank heavens I was on an aluminum bike to allow me to feel every bump, jump, and jaw-rattling piece of the road. True, I complain today, but I know I'll be grateful I did the ride a few months from now, when the rest of the roadies are only then riding into shape with their assorted challenges. Glad I can get (most of) mine out of the way now.

And, speaking of challenges, my right leg. It completely cramped up on me yesterday in the pool, making me thankful that I've a doctor's appointment scheduled for tomorrow morning, followed by an appointment with a PT on Wednesday (she called during my ride this morning -- thanks, L---!). Between the two of them, I'm hoping this thing can get taken care of, pronto. I'm tired of not firing at anything resembling 80%, let alone anything higher.

Which now leads me to question if I should completely dis racing this season, as planned. Yes, it's expensive as all get-out, but there is one I'd kind of like to do: Longhorn IM 70.3. I'd also like to do Buffalo Springs again, but I know that's just out of the budget, what with race fees, travel, and lodging. The former, however, is not until October, so I've some time to mull it over. Incidentally, I didn't race the Blue Norther'. R--- did and had a decent showing, too, finishing 29th OA & 4th in AG. Good show.

Now that I have overcome that is the unending, invisible hill that is the howling wind, I need to overcome the second one: the general lack of will to work on my school stuff. The snoozing cat in my lap is of little use in the department, so methinks I'll put some tea on for a start...see where it goes from there.

Enjoy your week, be it at work or on break. Thanks for reading.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Holla if Ya Hear Me!

Quick post to brag about the morning.

Rode the commuter to breakfast with the boys, which was a great spin workout on a horribly humid morning. Got home, slipped into the Mizunos and took off for a 3.53 out & back on Live Oak. Time: 25:50. Pace: 7:19. Thank you, Tupac.

Now I just need to see about getting my transition times down in readying myself for work. Check back Sunday to see if I decided to do the Blue Norther' Du and how that went, if I did. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

T-2 Days & Counting

Spring break is almost here. I can hear it. I can smell it. I can say that most every day has been planned, with work taking up a good chunk of it. Yeah, teachers get lots of time off every year.

I'd intended to check in sooner, after that horrible post this past Monday, but I didn't make it back in due to technical duties. Dude, R--- got a Dell...and I got it back up & running. A corrupt registry file, a quick reinstall of Windows, and a near eternity spent trying to hunt down drivers & shiznit for the the accursed laptop. Lucky for me, the original owner was able to be located and he still had the driver CD. Yes, life is good.

For me, anyway. N---'s been under the weather, so I got to play Nurse D tonight, picking up medicines & OJ so thick with pulp, one needed a spoon to get it out of the container. Sure hope that does the trick. Buying Benedryl & fruit juice is about the extent of my medical training.

Time to recharge my own batteries for a bit. Will post again once I'm back at max capacity. Thanks for reading.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Movie Night

I thought I had seen some of the worst films around, considering my past with RHPS. Tonight, however, it was proven to me that there is always something worse than the worst movie you've ever seen. Tonight, it was the 1963 "classic" The Raven.

Starring Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, and some other biggie of 1960s horror movie fame, this film was intended to be based upon the poem of the same name by Edgar Allan Poe. Apart from the title and a few stanzas, the film had precisely squat to do with the poem. The only bright side is that by suffering through it tonight, I have saved myself from the fateful mistake of waiting until class on Wednesday to watch it...three <expletive> times.

After The Raven, I popped in a 25-minute short of Poe's "The Tell Tale Heart" and felt melancholic enough to not need RHPS to cleanse my memory of The Raven. I ended the video orgy with Sir Ian McKellen's adaptation of Richard III, which was perfectly timed to Richard's great fall and the buttoning of the last button on my last shirt. How nice.

Lame post tonight, but I just wanted to share with you my miserable experience of The Raven. May you never have to suffer through anything so horrible. Ever. Actually, I guess it's too late for suffering through horrors to the eyes if you've made it this far, but, still, thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Miles and Miles of Texas

This past weekend was the inaugural Texas Independence Relay, a 207-mile relay off-the-charts ultra marathon. It tested every aspect of every athlete participating in it. Apparently, my mantra from the 2007 racing season continues: "Gee, imagined if I would have trained."

TIR was broken into forty legs, not including a prologue and epilogue. The pro & epilogues would be run by the team as a whole, while each of the forty legs would be run by individual members of the team. The team fortunate enough to have someone of my intensity, especially with regards to training (refer to aforementioned mantra to discover just how serious I am about training), was composed of eight employees of N---'s workplace (including N---), a trio of teenage cross country runners, and mois. Our team name was "San Antonio Soles," and, while not my personal preference for a team name, it apparently didn't hurt us, nor did my running each of my legs in a skirt.

Get Ready
The lead-up to TIR was typical of my racing the past year or so: Train at the absolute minimum due to either work or weather. To a certain degree, I think it was even below the minimum, as I seem to still be somewhat recovering from my post-White Rock injury (yeah, that one; it's been, what, nearly three months?). Funny thing about the whole knee bit is that running the 27.49 miles this past weekend seemed to have helped it. Weird, I know.

Somewhat of a training schedule was attempted, though, mostly focused around multiple 10ks on the Parkway. Unfortunately, the weather 'round these parts has been wackier than usual, so most of those planned 10ks were sidelined. Other than the final leg of the relay, it didn't seem to affect me much; my times were decent, considering how out of shape I was (and still am; where the @#%* is spring?), how far I had to run, and my absolute lack of adequate nutrition over the weekend. But I get ahead of myself.

Come race morning, N--- & I headed to the Institute to meet up with the rest of the team. I kind of didn't like that I had to drive the 30+ miles THE OTHER WAY before going to Gonzales, but the company made it worthwhile. The plan was to meet at 4:45, so N--- & I were there, ready to roll by 4:30. We didn't get under way until well after 5:00, making it look like we weren't going to make it to our registration time of 6:30...but, we did. With a superb striking of a gong (don't ask; I didn't) by N---, the Soles were on course, covering the 1.13 mile prologue in just over ten minutes. From there, it was into the van and off to Shiner to wait for our van to become active. Killing time in a doughnut shop, I graded some papers and took a little jog around the block to loosen up my legs; it was supposed to be eight hours before my first leg. Yeah, supposed to be.

Remember those cross country runners I mentioned? Thanks to their speedy leg work, as well as the concerted efforts of everyone else on the team, we were running nearly 90 minutes ahead of schedule. By the time S--- was spotted heading towards the red tent, I was stretched, hydrated, and ready to run, SportKilt and all. As S--- slapped the band on my wrist to start my leg, I glanced at the time: 2:42. This was going to be an awesome race.

Leg #1: Stage 11: Flatonia to Schulenberg

The 6.36 miles were completed in 50:06, averaging 7:52. While disappointed at not having hit closer to a 7:30 mile, I had to keep in mind several things: 1) It was hot; 2) I was unfamiliar with the terrain; 3) I'd been up without sleep since 3:30 in the morning; 4) I was hungry; 5) I still had three more legs to run before this was all said & done.

J--- ran after I did, so after his leg, we decided to head into Columbus for dinner. Most of the van went to Whataburger for burgers, but there was a Denny's next door, and a real, sit-down style meal was just too tempting. For the record, it would be nearly 1:00 the next afternoon, which made my French Toast Slam all the tastier, even in retrospect.

Leg #2: Stage 21: Eagle Lake - Chesterville
Darkness spread its cloak over the TIR in grand fashion. Stars sequined the cloak, bringing back childhood memories of stargazing and a feeling of heartache that, save a worldwide power failure, I would never see a sky like that near my home ever again. Sigh.

Digression aside, the evening legs would prove to be everyone's best, given the perfect running conditions. Granted, some stretches were somewhat scary, most of all, S---'s crossing of some river whose name escapes me. The promised police officers were either late or otherwise not there, making for what could have been a rather harrowing crossing, but the Department of Public Safety arrived shortly before S--- did at the bridge. True, the conditions were not idyllic, but S--- did make it across safely, as, apparently, did all other runners.

My leg would begin just after 9:30 that night, a 6.76-mile journey from the middle of nowhere to the edge of nowhere. However, I knew N--- was waiting for me, so I hurried myself as quickly as I would allow, given that I knew I had two legs remaining and that sleep would be a luxury we were likely to have to do without. Time for this leg clocked in at 52:09, averaging 7:40/mile. This was closer to my intended target pace. Too bad it would be the closest I would get.

Leg #3: Stage 31: Hershey Trail - Houston
"Bigfoot is scared of rhino noises."

Such was the advice of another team awating their runner in George Bush Park a little after four in the morning. Closer to the city, the stars had been drowned out by the glow of the gluttonous lights of H-town, making for an incredibly dark run. My headlamp, though, kept my path illuminated, including the "Bridge Out - 1 Mile" sign I spotted fifteen minutes into my run. Thankfully, the bridge was not really out, and I traversed the 6.79 miles without incident, save the loss of my reflective belt when I shed my long-sleeve shirt shortly after crossing the aforementioned bridge; the humidity was horrible.

Malnutrition was beginning to take its toll on me by this point. My stomach was in knots prior to the start of the stage, but mercifully subsided for most of the run. By the time I finished, I was famished, and my time reflected that the stage that remained to be run would be the most difficult of all. For stage 31, though, I managed a pathetic pace of 8:36/mile, racking up a stage time totaling 58:28. I suck but would suck more before we made it to San Jacinto.

Leg #4: Stage 38: South Houston - Deer Park
Daybreak brought no relief to my stomach. I was on the verge of hurling what remained of my Denny's feast from the evening before and the few bananas and Clif Bars I'd managed to ingest since when I spotted J--- making his way to me. He looked how I felt, and I knew I would look even worse at the conclusion of the next 6.45 miles. Just shy of an hour later, I would be proven correct. Sometimes, it wouldn't be so bad to be wrong, and I do wish this could have been one of those times.

There were some memorable spots to this leg, though. In addition to getting "Chick'd" (all-woman's team whose slogan on the back of the team shirts stated, "You just got CHICK'D") by a former Olympian, a support van helped me with navigation, hydration, and encouragement -- the latter provided in a Scottish accent, no less. Funny how the Scotsman was about the only one on-course not to comment on my attire (law enforcement seemed to like it; gang bangers cruising the hood Sunday morning didn't), but I, again, digress.

Stage 38 proved itself challenging for more than just the exhaustion, though. Myriad turns and obstacles (cars, brush, dogs, aforementioned gang bangers) made the course particularily difficult, but not insurmountable. Once I got my bearing on the directions and realized how close I was to the finish, I was able to pick up the pace some, but would prove to be trivial, for my finishing time for the 6.45-mile Sunday morning jaunt through the neighborhood clocked in at 56:26; 8:45/mile. Still, I didn't care, but for the .36-mile epilogue, my running for the Texas Independence Relay was over. Yee--haw.

What Doesn't Kilt You...

N--- brought the team home in style. Her form looked great, and the smile on her face, all the way to the finish, was a site for tired, sore eyes. Not to be outdone by her boyfriend in his kilt, N--- even wore a sport skirt as she brought us all home.

And so we finished. Total team time was 29:12:43 (8:36/mile) to cover the 207 miles and miles of Texas. Out of 63 teams in our division, we finished 19th. After crossing the finish, we received our finisher's medal (hefty things, too, although bailing wire, instead of the red zip ties, would have been a nicer touch), pizzas (warm food!), and beverages. Faces stuffed, we piled back in to the vans and headed home...well, to S---'s parents' home, first, for a much-needed shower. Gotta say, were it not for that post-race shower, the mid-race shower (and hour or so sleep) in the hotel rooms S--- scored for us using her rewards points, and the uber-comfy support van, the experience would have been drastically different. Thank you, S---, for everything.

Of course, thanks goes out to everyone on the team. The crew in van #2 totally rocked, for, apart from my snap when trying to navigate out of downtown H-town, not a harsh word was to be had amongst us all. Van #1 was just that, too, for, were it not for the cross country super stars, our pace would not have been as high as it was.

A poet once wrote that "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Thankfully, he didn't have to smell us or our vans, for we smelled anything but sweet. However, a team by any other name, or with any other people at the helm or on the run, would not have had the soul to survive the intensity of the 2008 Texas Independence Relay. That's not to say I'm definitely running it again next year (TIR's proximity to TAKS is a major detractor, plus, I'm still considering IMAZ for 2009), but were I to, I can think of no better teammates to have.

Long post, I know, but thanks for reading.