Monday, April 30, 2007

Redbird Nation in mourning.

I was all set to watch the Cubs/Cardinals game yesterday. We'd gone to the grocery store early. I was in the kitchen making lunches for the wife and I, when it scrolled across the screen: "Game postponed due to tragic death of Cardinals' reliever Josh Hancock." Instantly I got a lump in my throat. I hadn't seen Hancock pitch that much. I can't say that I know much about him, but he's one of my guys. He's a Cardinal. Now he's gone. It took me back to 2002 when D.K. (Darryl Kile) died, he was beyond one of 'our guys.' I was in shock. The entire city was in mourning. Yesterday, and today it's much the same. The great thing about cardinal fans is the same reaction for a reliever who was just happy to make the big club as for the staff ace.
The post has a series of articles here

Friday, April 27, 2007

Updateness!! aka Pimp my self.

weight: I am down from 216 to 207 after practice. (I weigh after practice to minimize hydration effect)
Height: still pretty short.

Strength/power: Bench is up. I was doing 185+bands for singles, now doing 205+bands for doubles. Squats are improving (better groove, finally have enough flexibility to squat deep with my feet flat..ish on the floor) Hang snatches are still a little weak (115) need to work on dynamic hip flexibility so I can get under the weight. I can pull 135 from hips to eyes, just can't get under it. Over head tire tosses are sailing a minimum of 5 big steps per toss (up from 3). Most everything is better here (if still a little sub-standard).

Endurance: I am up to 5 sled drags the entire length of the hill per session. I feel fitter in the boat, I haven't done much erging, so I don't know the numbers here. I have eight weeks till regionals, and I am going to switch focus for this period, work more on dynamic strength, and getting race fit.

Overall, I'm lighter, stronger, and a bit fitter. I can see my first two segments of my abs before the belt of marshmallow takes over. I'm making progress and progress is good.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Doesn't everyone love mad libs:

Hey! That sure is blurry.. click the box to get a bigger version. Caution may contain dirty words.

What the deuce?

S.J. and I did a little blog swinging. We each took our own bent on our hypothetical (purely fictional) meeting. Did a blog entry and swapped. It's like Rashomon, only nobody died and, without the samurai and stuff. Good times were had by all.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Brought to you by the National Dairy Board..

Not surprising (For a multitude of reasons) This article indicates that protein uptake from drinking milk post-exercise is greater than from Soy. The science is a bit dubious and fairly typical of studies 'sponsored' by various food lobbies . In this instance individuals did a single workout (god knows what they did it just says "a series of exercises with one leg") and then drank either a milk or soy 'beverage' (God knows what, or how much). The amount of protein taken up by their muscles was "measured" (god knows how) I assume they did not use radioactive isotopes and tissue samples to measure the protein uptake. Color me skeptical. So we have this rather dubious methodology, and the conclusion:
"if extended out to 10 weeks the data suggest (but did not show) that gains in muscle mass would be twice as great with milk as with soy,"
While I'm not arguing for soy, it would be easier to get along if the methodologies and the "results" extrapolated from them made any sense at all.

Going off on a rant without reading the full study, is asking for a face full of egg. In this particular case they DID biopsy the vastus lateralis muscles of the subjects. The measurements done were fairly valid.

Many thanks to Mistress Krista for the lesson in research before you rant. I am going to leave this up here for a little while as a retraction, then.. I don't know. Cynicism is not a flattering quality, and I should have completed my research before being so caustic. I have fallen into the trap of the internet loud mouth.. and that's not a good feeling. I really am embarrassed by this. Sorry folks, but I guess I've inadvertently proven my point. Be critical, of researchers, of journalists, and of bloggers. You never know who's having a bad day, and who's not following through on their research.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Gym Jones

Mark Twight goes off as only he can.

In my review of 3oo I mentioned that there was too much body make-up used in parts of the movie. In light of the above rant let me clarify:
In movie making there are times when the lighting has to be set up in such a way that it will either leave the actor's faces covered by shadows, or will wash out the features of their bodies. In most movies this would not be a problem as no one cares if the small creases of their clothes are washed out. In 300 this was a bit trickier as the actors were bare chested. So movie people doing what they do, added make-up to their bodies to make the muscles stand out in those lighting conditions. In my opinion they were a bit heavy handed in those scenes. The scenes in question were the ones where there was heavy overhead lighting (the scenes in the meadows). There is no way in hell that the spartan physiques in 300 were "all make-up and cgi." Those guys busted ass to look that way, and to me it doesn't matter if they did it for 8 weeks, 8 months or 8 years. If I were Mark, I'd whip up a big batch of shut the hell up too.

What are you training for?

Yesterday I was in the park dragging tires, and generally minding my own business, and two different people asked me: "what are you training for?" Let's forget for a second that you shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition. What am I training for? Am I training for a 1200+ total? To win rowing races? Am I training for a bodyweight snatch? Am I training to break 6:35 for a 2k erg piece? Sort of, but not really. Those are goals I have along the way (in the next 18-24 months) , but those are not the reasons I'm training.
I am training because I feel like a work in progress. I train because I need to test body and resolve against my imagination. I am training to be faster and stronger at 32 than I was at 17. I am training because I have expectations for what I should be able to do and training hard is the only way to get there. I am training to be sure that the tests I impose upon myself are significant so that when I am tested by life, hopefully I will respond. I am training to feel like myself.
I'm training for life.
Not just the extension there of, that's buying a reserved ticket for a train that could come any second. I am training to feel alive and to be physically able to live how I want. That's "What I'm training for."

hopefully I don't sound too much like this
Thanks to Chico for the link.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Do the write thing.

Here is a link to a play written by Cho Seung-Hui for a creative writing class. It's terrible. Flat characters, fairly violent, very Oedipal, but is it worthy of all the "we should have seen it coming" hand wringing that is going on? Probably not. Most young men who write delve into some of the themes and characters that are in this play, as have a few writers of note. There is the fiendish usurper who kills the protagonist's father to marry his mother (Hamlet). There is the promising young man grown old, fat, and pathetic (Death of a Salesman) and if you read Wm. S. Borroughs (or listen to Shane MacGowan) the old pederast is not a new character. None of these things are new. Throw in some Tarantino and filter through the pen of an undergraduate kid, and you have the very poorly written one act play linked above.
One act plays by their nature (short and visual) lend themselves to either navel gazing, or violence. The only thing that shocked me about this one in particular was the poor quality. I think this is making headlines only because it is so rare that people actually put fictional writing out for people to see (outside of erotic Harry Potter fan fic and whatever else folks spew out into the internet)
Too many people fail to write. By that I mean create a truly original voice. Attempting to create a fleshed out whole from a part of yourself can be a vehicle for greater self knowledge. Putting people you know in situations in fictional writing can help you understand the complexity of your opinions and relationships to those people. Creating a new world can help you fill in your opinions of yourself and your place in this one. It is a great exercise no matter how poorly done. That in mind, we need to acknowledge that we all have dark places in our psyche, and exploring them fictionally is generally a healthy thing. Hopefully this won't cause people (young people particularly) to be discouraged from writing, and hopefully, eventually, doing it well.

Violent, poorly written, one act plays are neither the problem, nor really a symptom, violent actions are.

More on fantasy and reality HERE.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

FIRST OF ALL.. I peed my pants...

Direct quote from a 5 year old to my wife yesterday: (written out phonemically as best I can)
Mrs. Zero: How are you today (Kid)?
Kid: FIRST OF ALL.. (doing the frowny nodding thing)I peed my pants.
THENNNN my MOTHER (throws both arms win the air) schedules all these..
APPOINTMENTS..for me. (sigh)
I have foreign language at 4. I have Piano at 5. and did I mention Ipeedmypants?

I got nothing to add.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Don't call me whitey...

I am a child of the middle-south and/or the southern Midwest. I spent the better part of my early childhood in the "Inner City", and small town America. I lived in an apartment complex (with my mom) where I was literally the only white kid, and I knew kids (near my dad's house) who had never actually met a "black person." Race was never an issue for me as much as it was an issue I didn't get. I had family who if they felt they were in "sensitive company" would simply say "them people" and that's as polite as it got. "You know, that's how them people are." It always baffled me.

Black folks are no MORE different than white folks. When my mom remarried and moved out to the 'burbs I learned of a whole new class of white people that were more different and foreign from my rural family than our black neighbors had been. Poor is poor. Soul food and Country cookin' is the same soup in a different pot. I think that's why I was always quiet as a kid. Seeing all these different types of grow-ups all of the time. None of them really made sense to me. I always wanted to be around the adults. To listen to them talk, listen to their jokes, and complaints. It always seemed so important: jobs, mortgage rates, kids and family gossip. It wasn't much different then, and for a lot of the 'grown-ups' I know now, seemingly a world away, talk jobs and a mortgages. It's not much different here.

Since we've established that categorically there's not much difference, why insult someone racially? I've gone round and round with some of my relations about this. It doesn't make sense to impugn an entire class of people when you really want to insult one jackass individual. If someone does something stupid, and I call him a "blue-eyed devil" I let HIM off the hook. He can write me off as prejudiced. If I call him a jackass, then there is no PRE-judging. He has been weighed measured, and been found wanting. Which means either:
A) there is something off about my judgement
B) he really is a jackass.
Let's not muddy the waters with outside factors that don't matter into the argument.

This blog entry got me thinking about this stuff.


I have straight, (mostly) white teeth. I get compliments on them from time to time, but my teeth have a secret..
they suck.
I had braces for years. Braces lead to fillings, and a mispent youth lead to chips and cracks, and at least one tooth that was knocked loose and is now a little discolored. I had one dentist tell me about a year ago that I have the teeth of someone twice my age. I'm 32.. My teeth damn near qualify for social security. It's going to take $700 worth of time in the chair (after my insurance) to drill out my old fillings to keep them from splitting my teeth. You see the old school fillings like I have are good for 10 years.
I've had mind for 20.
As time goes by the the filling expands and chips and cracks the tooth. We've been saving trying to build a bit of a nest egg, and my stupid fucking teeth are burning through all of it.
It's depressing.
Happy tuesday!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Something's just not right.

I'm feeling a little off.
Not quite myself. We have a news feed in here and the details of the Virginia Tech shootings have been scrolling across it, and I'm not flustered. I am disappointed, but not sickened, not shocked. I am not appalled. There is something wrong. Shootings in schools (High schools, universities, Middle schools.. whatever) are officially too common. 31 people died today. There’s a war on. A war that started on my birthday (Thanks Dubya) now every year my birthday is commemorated with rousing protests. I don’t mean to wax bucolic or anything, but perhaps we ARE too many rats kept in too small a cage. In Peru and Costa Rica.. the Andes and the Rain forest, in the Ozarks and the Cascades I feel different. Relaxed. Here today, not so much. Maybe it’s not a function of the space, but the place. In places with more information (and bad news) surrounding me I feel out of sorts, in isolation, I feel pretty good.. who knows. All I know is that I shouldn’t feel this casual about 31 kids getting shot down in their classroom, but then why is that worse than kids that same age getting blown up in Iraq? Is it? Isn’t it? Does it matter? Shades of horrible is still horrible.

You put the bone in Zamboni.

Movie reviews:

300. A very cool movie. Great visuals. The Spartans kicked much buttocks. In a few spots they put a little too much body make-up on the guys. So everybody looked all playboy "airbrushed to perfection." There were a few plot lines that seemed a little forced but overall a very entertaining movie with a huge cool factor and a lot of testosterone. The big visuals really have to be seen on the big screen.

Blades of glory. Painfully funny. Jon Heder plays 'straight' for Will Ferrel and the balance works. Figure skating is already on the ragged edge of farce, so taking it well beyond that edge is fairly easy, and damn funny. Bonus points because fellow Truman State alumnae Jenna Fisher plays Jon Heder's love interest.

In other notes: According to the FDA candy is good for you, because it's better than eating glass.
Ok, so that may be hyperbole, but this makes me wonder, are they openly taking bribes from lobbyists or are they just stupid?

Hope you had a good weekend!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Double dippin'

I was looking at today, which I do from time to time, and I got swept up surfing through several 'weight-loss' articles. Whomever is writing for them is stuck in the 90's. It's all low fat, high carb. Replace the oil in your muffin recipe with applesauce kekeke aren't I cute NONSENSE. It doesn't work. Unless you're an endurance athlete, don't eat like one. If you're not currently in the middle of a 20 mile run, you shouldn't be eating a muffin for breakfast EVER. There is a place and a time for indulgence, and muffins are mighty tasty ones, but that ain't breakfast.

While I'm mid rant, Unless you’re and endurance athlete, don’t train like one either. Why oh why would you ever want to do 45 minutes of cardio when you can do 20 minutes of intervals? I had one of those huge "goddamn that makes more sense than pockets" moments the other day. I was reading an article by Mr. Alwyn Cosgrove on T-nation. He was talking about body fat. It boils down to this: If I lift weights hard and heavy, this challenges my muscles and causes little tears to my muscle tissue. My body, in all its wisdom, responds with more muscle tissue. Seems like a nice logical adaptive response. What a work of art is man... you get the idea. So if I hamster along at 60% heart rate and metabolize as much body fat as I can, what do you think the adaptive response is going to be? Logically the body is going to say "Gee, we seem to be using an awful lot of that stuff, perhaps I should keep more around." This is not to say that you shouldn't exercise, but that exercising at a higher intensity (above the hideously named "fat burning zone") not only burns more calories (due to EPOC) but won't lead your body to create as much adipose tissue. If that made any more sense, I'd have to make sweet sweet love to it. Is it 100% true, I have no idea. It does seem to follow the research, and my personal experience. I've never been as fat as I was when I was running 4-6 miles a day in Chicago, of course it didn't help I was eating here and here a couple times a week. So I’m rolling with it.

And if I ever find the person who writes the articles for MSN I’m going to punch her in the uterus, yup right between the ole bull horns.

Hey Slackass, where you been!

Sorry for the lack of blogness. It's been a little nutty at work, and I've been feeling like reheated dog poop, so instead of boring you with my feel-like-crappiness, I decided to keep it to myself.
But NOW, it's Friday the 13th! Which is really a secret holiday for the left handed. It's my favorite holiday, where we lefties go around playing secret tricks on your righty bitches for setting up the world in such a way that it literally kills us off about 6 years early. Ya'll think it's "bad luck."
In other news the tire dragging is coming along marvelously, but I get lots of funny looks from people who's "exercise" consists of throwing a ball for their dog for about 10 minutes. So who cares. AAAAAAAAANd since my lovely wife is on spring break this week "WOOOO SPRING BREAK!" She's going to pick me up from work and we're going to see 2 movies in a row. (300, and Blades of Glory)

Speaking of spring break.. I never went on a "typical" spring break. 3 of my 4 years in college I was so broke that I had to work as much as possible just to make rent over spring break, and the only year I didn't my rugby team went on tour through Texas and Oklahoma. We played 5 games in 7 days. We stayed with some guys who played for SMU who were smoking so much weed that you couldn't see in their apartment, and were up all night doing coke. Needless to say we kicked the crap out of them.

That's the problem with 'athletics' on American college campuses They're either unpaid professional athletes, who represent the university in name only, barely go to class and are generally a menace to their respective community, or you play a sport where you get no revenue, you have no facilities, and you have to scrape by just to find a place to stay for a road game. It's B.S. if it were up to me (and since this is my blog we're going to pretend that it is). There would be no college athletic scholarships. Student athletes would have to make grades, and would be subject to audit (ok Johnny I want to see that paper you wrote for Dr. Smith’s class. We're going to have a quiz on its subject matter) There would be a cap (and a minimum) on the amount of money that could be spent on each sport per year, and anyone caught cheating (one fudged scholarship, one kid not making grades and still playing or failing an audit, you spend $1 over the cap) would result in: 1) have a 10 year ban on NCAA competition for that ENTIRE SCHOOL and 2) Fine the equivalent of every dollar spent on that sport for 2 years (so expensive sports step out of line and the fine is much larger than if smaller sports do). Yes, the level of competition would drop, yes your favorite school would probably get flushed, but that's the price of true student-athletes. How many people's lives get ruined by coddled athletes on college campuses? Why is it the job of our institutes of higher learning to provide a minor league for the NBA, or NFL? There would be a backlash for 5 years, then things would normalize and the system would work. There would be a return to traditional collegiate and Olympic sports.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I failed, but I passed!

Well, then I'm happy but sad for you..

I'll show those bastards at the Emissions board, they can't keep a good man down. I had to kick one dude in the junk and I ended up biting another on the scull so hard I chipped a tooth, but with a little persuasion and some magic pixie dust the Ranger passes emissions! Yay! It was a bit of a wake-up call though.
Now that she's paid off, it's time to show the Ranger a little pick-up love.
All new Fluids and filters!
New Brakes!
New Windscreen, and maybe a little body work!
Candy Cane rims, and chocolate tires!
And.. I should get the deal fixed that caused me to fail the first time.
All that, and I'm coming down of a double Thai Coffee.
I gotta get to the gym before I pass out.


I have failed.. well my truck failed. I had the emissions tested just now and it failed. I need to get it fixed. Anybody know a good repair shop?

Monday, April 9, 2007

It doesn't have to be this hard.

Saturday the we went and bought the wife a new (different) car. She hated her old one, and it was about to be due for some expensive upkeep, so it was time. I'll spare you the long sordid tale, but I'll sum up with it took us 5 hours and we turned down no less than 6 offers. We heard them fleece a lady in the haggling cube next to us. The dealership didn't listen to what we were saying, they tried to misdirect, mislead, and bully us into paying more for the car. It was genuinely a terrible experience, AND all this was with us knowing the family that owns the dealership. I can't imagine what it's like for normal folks. It was horrible. I have been involved in the buying of 3 vehicles now. My parents bought a Saturn in '93. Great experience. No haggle, no hassle, and my folks paid cash. Doesn't get any easier than that.
In '02 with my aunt working for Ford, I got in on the X plan. It's an employee pricing deal. Also no haggle. It costs what it costs and that's it. Should have been a slam dunk. I knew what I wanted, and would settle for nothing less. I went to 3 dealerships who kept trying to wedge me into trucks I didn't want because it was what they had on the lot. Finally the folks at Sunset Ford took great care of me. I sat down, filled out a sheet and they ordered the truck I wanted. Six weeks later, it was mine, and 5+ years later I still drive that same truck. They were great. If I didn't live 3000 miles away, I'd buy my next vehicle from them.
Needless to say this final experience was horrible when compared to those, I was irritated at the sales folks for thinking I was dumb enough to fall for their tricks, and they were irritated at me because I'm not biting, and let's be honest after hour 3 I wasn't very nice. It was no fun, but finally I feel like we got a fair shake and they must have made some money or they wouldn't have done the deal. So the wife has her new Jeep, we pushed our financing out 2 years, but lowered our interest rate, and thus our payment and total cost (and let someone else replace the clutch) for a newer vehicle. I guess that’s worth 5 hours of my time, but there’s got to be a better way. How great would it be if you could buy a car like you buy a computer. Go to the website, pick the bits you want, and sign on the dotted line. Your financing comes back instantly you say yeah or nay, and the computer arrives via UPS. No haggling no problem. Dell makes money and Ford doesn’t, is that a coincidence? Yet car companies still do business like Bedouin traders. It makes no sense. Bah, they can all get stuffed.

Oh btw Happy Easter.

We had some friends over for French toast, and played some Bocce in the park. A good time was had by all.. almost not. We were playing when all these little kids rush out of the Sunday school on an Easter egg hunt. And one sprints towards where we are playing to grab the Jack (sometimes called Pallino it’s the target ball when you’re playing bocce) We’re all yelling “NO, NO, IT’S NOT AN EASTER EGG.” Perhaps bocce in a public park on Easter Sunday isn’t such a great idea.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Be nice..

All you have to do is follow three simple rules. One, never underestimate your opponent. Expect the unexpected. Two, take it outside. Never start anything inside the bar unless it's absolutely necessary. And three, be nice.

When I was a younger man, was dating a girl who is now long since my ex. I went to a family gathering with her for thanksgiving, and met both of her grandmothers.
Her dad's mom, Mimi, was a sweet rotund German woman. A holocaust survivor. She had run a successful business, and had sold bath towels to two presidents, and Elvis. She had her flaws, but mostly she was fun and totally enamorate of all kinds of small things. The colors and taste of food, a sunny day, clothes, whatever. "Schatse, zat is see prettiest dress on you!" "Look a the peppers, what a lovely yellow!" "You are a nice young man, you take care of my granddaughter." She was nice.
My ex's maternal grandmother, was tall, gaunt, and bitchy. That's all I remember of her. That's it. I don't remember what she said that was bitchy. Can't remember her name. Don't know what she did before retiring. Nothing.
It takes so little energy to be nice to people, but it makes such an impression. If you are mean, people forget YOU. They only remember the rotten things you did or said. If you are nice, people remember you, what you did, what you looked like. When we are all dead, people we were mean to (and we've all been mean to someone) will not remark at our passing at all. The people are nice to (hopefully you've been nice to someone) will morn and remember. As I get older, that means more to me.
It cannot be said that in my misspent youth, and a few times since, I haven't been otherwise. I have been an insufferable prick to at least an even score of people (and probably more), but "Ahm tryin' lawd, Ahm tryin'." While I firmly believe that there is someone in this world that thought, with good reason, that Gandhi (personally, not politically) was a raging asshole and somewhere else someone thought: "that Joe Stalin is such a nice man" those folks were probably few and far between, and it shows. I know that Gandhi made his own clothes, and marched to the sea to make salt. I know he was a huge believer in the power of non-violent protest, and I know what his wife looks like. I know he said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” I know Stalin had a bunch of people killed, aaaaand that's about it.
I don't think anyone should suffer at the hands of the cantankerous and mean, but smiling and being nice to everyone else doesn't cost anything, and people will remember.
So let's be nice, until it's time to not be nice.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Got balance?

This weekend, I was at a rowing regatta, but you knew that. I spent a lot of time, just walking around and people watching. I have noticed the more I learn about functional physiology the more I start dissecting athlete's physiques. Rowers as a rule don't fall into the scapular retraction pitfalls like most gym goers (read: those who only bench and do curls) mostly because their sport is one of pulling. So most of them are pretty well squared off at the shoulders, but I noticed this weekend a regatta is like a damn flat butt convention. Most have absolutely no gluteal development. Big quads and over developed hip flexors, and stringy hamstrings and no glutes. It's very apparent. They're really missing the boat (so to speak), there is so much speed to be gained from those muscles, not to mention the hip and back problems that come from these imbalances. So rowers, loosen up those quads and hips! Use a foam roller! Do some damn deadlifts! Be an athlete, your back will thank you!
The cure for what ails you:
10 reps 50-60% 1rm deadlift (if you're guessing, guess low. Focus on technique and activating your posterior chain)
250m all out on the erg.
This workout will activate your glutes while you're rowing, and should 'teach' you how to use those muscles for starts and sprints. So get your @ss in gear!

Don't just take my word for it...

Monday, April 2, 2007

When you wish upon a star..

Starting at the end and working back. We had an incredible hunter's moon last night. Damn near daylight bright. I got home around 1 am and am exhausted. The trip from San Diego to John Wayne airport to Seattle damn near undid me. I ended up, finally on the airplane exhausted, sun-dried sitting next to a large woman that smelled expressly of Mickey D's French fries. We'll call her 'Grandma.' She was attending to what would normally be a very cute little girl who was one row forward, and across the isle. The little girl was very insistent that 'Grandma' see every little thing she colored. I was sitting on the aisle, grandma was in the middle. So the little girl hops up, shoves some colored Little Mermaid/Nemo/fishy something in my face: "Gra-muh, LOOOOOK!" Grandma says "That’s nice. Now, you sit down Madison." Then Grandma apologizes profusely. The stewardess comes tromping over well after Madison is buckled in and tells Grandma, Madison and all of rows 6 and 7 "Madison needs to stay seated." Everyone nods in appropriate bobble headed fashion. This occurs about every 10 minutes. I suggested switching seats, but Grandma insisted that I stay put, and that Madison would be “out like a light any minute now.” Madison’s switch stayed on for almost the whole flight.

This was all the more annoying because I wasn't even supposed to be on this flight in the first place. It took me just over an hour to get from John Wayne airport to San Diego on a Thursday evening around 9 pm. I (rather stupidly) assumed that the return trip (Sunday afternoon) would take around the same amount of time. I gave myself just over 3 hours to make the drive. With traffic, weaving, driving like a crazy person, and running at a full sprint through the airport; I arrived at the gate in just enough time to see the plane pull away. There was traffic, serious, incredible, arbitrary traffic the whole way. There was no accident, no construction, simply too many people driving too slowly on not enough road. It was maddening.

I don't understand how people live happily in southern California. The whole weekend I was reading Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer. It's a great raunchy tale of a very smart, articulate, despicable person doing the dance of degradation in 1930s Paris. There is so much life in Miller and this book, and so much decay, it really contrasts Southern California very nicely.

Miller's book is about seeking an excess of the great things in life, and thus rendering them meaningless. Too much of a great meal, makes one fat, and sick. Too much sex makes one sore, raw, and numb (physically and emotionally). Too much spending without earning leaves one out on his ass and lousey.

In So-Cal (and most of America which started to imitate Southern California sometime in the 80s) nothing is real. And, nothing artificial can be great. You have the appearance of mass produced beauty, but it's all false, hollow and disgusting. I spent most of the weekend on the beach reading Miller, and watching tanned girls walk by sporting the silliest barely there clothing that accentuates bodies that are thin, frail, and fat all at the same time. I don't understand the girls I saw. They wore things that simply looked cheap and silly. Things that made them look at best like the female characters from a cheap 70's movie and at worst lumpy and sodden. They were flaunting skin without any desire. They aren’t sexy, because within sexy there is an implication that taking one of these women with big fake boobs and wide flat bottoms to bed would be fun. There is no fun to be had with someone so disdainful of anything enjoyable. They were about as appealing as the cheap pseudo-food being sold all around me. Empty calories with no complexity, no nutrients.

Thursday night we went to a great sushi place, the simply the best sushi I have ever had. I went with 2 of my co-workers, and we wolfed down piles of the stuff. Next to us were two of these creatures picking at 2 rolls between them. Not eating just talking and pushing food around, picking it apart. I have no respect for someone who doesn’t have passion and respect for great things. Great food is to be taken in, to be eaten in gulping mouthfuls. To be vanquished like an honorable enemy, not stabbed and picked at by carrion birds. Passion is not to be confused with gluttony. Gorging yourself with food to try and fill some void in your life is a bad thing, and a waste of good food. Food abused in that manner never really enjoyed. That sort of abuse is what the Tropic of Cancer is about. Passion turned sideways, corrupted by our weaknesses. Turned ugly and rotten. It becomes hollow and meaningless.. but what happens if you start with hollow and meaningless? I don’t know, but it seems to me that Southern California is peopled with folks trying to drink, drug, tan, dress, or simply pretend that beauty IS skin deep. Mission Beach is full of Surfers, and frat-boys who dress like them. People that think drinking is a hobby and that "Wooooo!" is an appropriate greeting for their friends.

Thursday afternoon I went to Disneyland. Where nothing is real. Where unfit people herd their soft whiney children from ride, to coke vendor, to ride, to McDonalds pausing to slather them with sunscreen every few minutes. Where the bathroom sinks have corporate sponsors. Where Mickey D's is everywhere. Where the rides are designed to hide how long the lines are, and the lines themselves are designed with changes of scenery, and contrasting flows of people, so that you feel like you're getting somewhere. All to distract you from the fact that you are waiting an hour for a 3 minute ride. It’s called ‘social engineering.’ It’s become very popular with corporations and governments these days. They dress up highways with kitschy sculptures, so that you have something to look at while you’re stuck in traffic for 3 hours (besides the beaches and people in the other cars). They pick colors that keep people happy, hungry, and moving. The area surrounding Disney is a village of corporate hotels, and chain food factories. Places that sell food by volume. It’s cheap and grotesque and brightly lit and colorful. To make matters worse, we tried to leave during the big daily parade at disneyland, and it's damn near impossible to get out. It was horrifying . Crappy music, ugly kids and big grotesque people dancing and lolling about. I about knocked Cinderella over making my escape.

In the middle of all of shiny plastic was the conference that was my main objective in Orange County. The conference that kicked off my weekend in the sun. It was filled to the gills with middle-managers wearing middling black suits, talking in a dozen languages about fiber optics. Men who looked like they’d been born in those suits. No passion, no laughter, no joy, just lasers and glass. It was cold and interesting, and boring all at the same time. I showed up in jeans, shook a lot of hands, asked some tough questions, cracked a few jokes that were never laughed at (maybe I’m just not funny) but I got the information I needed from these joyless automatons.

By the end I was so ready to leave, that it made my epic adventure to get on an airplane and get back to Seattle all the more frustrating. Not to say I didn't have fun. I made some good contacts at the conference, and got some information that will help me professionally. The new Indiana Jones ride is great, pirates of the Caribbean is ok (they messed with it a bit too much for me) and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a blast (and vastly underrated). I had some fantastic sushi. My wife was a total stud the three times she raced. I spent a lot of time looking at my fellow humans, and the more I looked the more I realized that I don't understand them, but that it’s ok. I am happy.

I am trying to ride the thin line. Indulge my passions enough to have lived a full life when it’s over, but not cheapen or abuse them. Bend them out of shape, turn them into something grotesque. I think I’ve found that balance for me, for now. These things ebb and flow. I am sure there are real people living somewhere in Southern California, but I didn’t see any of them in Anaheim, or Mission Beach.

I hope you had a good weekend.


I-hem All Right-tuh..

No need to worry 'bout me.
Back from So-Cal with a greater understanding of myself and my fellow man. Major blogness to come, but for now, I ain't got time for the jibber-jabber.
-Kenny Bloggins