December 24, 2008

I had a good run today...

I went running today.
It was a good run.

I didn't run too fast and tire myself out quickly. I didn't run too slowly and get bored and frustrated.

It was a little brisk out so I had a few layers on. But I love running in cold weather.
There was a slight breeze out that was blowing through my hair and it made me feel as if I were running quicker.

I didn't wear a heart rate monitor. I didn't wear my watch. I didn't care how long I was gone, how hard, how far or how much.

I sang songs in my head. I smiled and laughed and loved my life.

I had a good run today.
For the first three blocks.

Then my calf cramped up again.
And I limped back home.
Fuck.

December 10, 2008

The Top 7 Reasons Why This Is My Favorite Photo Of Catherine



1. The very serious, concentrated look on their faces that says "I'm wearing my cowboy get-up and if y'all have a problem with it we can walk outside and settle this like thirteen year old girls dressed up as cowboys"

2. The bandannas tied around both their necks, with the knots perfectly placed just off-center, to the left. No way they didn't plan that one together.

3. Nobody else in the auditorium is dressed up, which makes me think that two people thought the costume party was on the wrong day.

4. The fact that the hat is too big for one of them and too small for the other. Couldn't they just switch hats?

5. The sheriff's badge on the vest. Ya gotta love the attention to detail.

6. The crazy guy mugging for the camera in the back left of the photo who, no doubt, grew up to be a serial killer.

7. Three words: Blazing Saddles extras

November 26, 2008

MFC

My friend Chris is an extremely good swimmer. Which is why everything seemed a little bit surreal last April.

My friend Chris and I did Ironman Arizona in April. It was his first. I'm a decent swimmer, I finish my Ironman swims in a bit over an hour but Chris, he's nearly 10 minutes faster than me. Definitely a sub-one hour guy. Which made it all the more interesting that I came out of the water before he did in April.

Then we realized he may never come out of the water at all. That's when "interesting" turned to frightening.


My friend Chris used to be a water polo player. He doesn't get phased when there's a lot of kicking and hitting and jostling for position. That's pretty much just another day in the water for him. Chris is also an avid scuba diver. He feels comfortable moving around in the open water and seems to have a deep appreciation for the immensity and power of the ocean. Chris also swims with a masters program every week. He swims in the fast lane - he's one of those guys.

Nobody expected Chris to get vertigo on the Ironman swim. Nobody expected him to lose the ability to tell which way was up and which way down. Nobody expected that he would push himself deeper into the water as he struggled to get a breath of air. Nobody expected him to get scared - to think he was going to die.

Nobody expected it. Fortunately, the life guards were prepared for it.

They pulled him out of the water. Literally, grabbed the back of his wetsuit and pulled him out. He couldn't lift his own face out of the water, fortunately they did it for him. He threw up. They told him his day was over, but they were empty words. He already knew it was done. Your first Ironman is done before it begins. It could bring a grown man to tears.

Ironman is a 140.6 mile journey. In April, my friend Chris barely made it 1 mile. He was brought to the medical tent and threw up. He was sent back to his hotel and threw up. He lay in his hotel bed all day, sick, dizzy, nauseous, vomitting. Racing your first Ironman is a celebration of all the months of hard training. My friend Chris wasn't celebrating. He was hanging his head in a plastic garbage can as he lay in a dark, dreary hotel room in utter misery. It was his first Ironman and he wasn't even there to experience it.

He was embarrassed. I can understand that. He felt like he let everybody down. I can understand that too. The next morning he got out of bed and signed up for Ironman Arizona again.

That's the type of guy my friend Chris is.

He left Arizona with no medals, with no finishers t-shirt, with no feeling of pride. He went through weeks of medical testing. X-Rays, MRIs, CAT scans. They found nothing. His dizzyness subsided. He was still weary in the water, but that didn't stop Chris. He kept swimming and the confidence came back. He biked harder, ran more. He bounced back. He amazed me. Cat said it best. Chris is the courageous one who taught me a couple of things about picking up the pieces and not letting circumstances rob you of the journey.

My friend Chris' journey began again this past week at Ironman Arizona. Same place, same course, new day. He didn't want us to come and watch him. He didn't want to let us down. But it would take a village to stop us. That's what inspiration does, it drives you forward, it doesn't leave you sitting at home wondering if you should get up and go.

People knew about his abbreviated journey in April. They knew his trepidation with the water. So when he emerged from the swim in 59 minutes, an entire triathlon community breathed a mutual sigh of relief and shed a communal tear of joy. The smile on my friend Chris' face as he ran to the change tent was all we needed. I did it! he screamed as he ran by.

He powered through the bike course with awe-inspiring grace and he conquered the run with seeming ease. Everytime he passed us he was smiling. Even when he was hurting, he was smiling. And when he came down the finish chute, when he was screaming and laughing, when he heard his name booming from the loudspeakers, when the crowd was hollering in joy, the frightening hearbreak of April faded away.

And as he stood there on the finishers side of a long Ironman day, he looked at his wife with the wide eyes of happiness and the glow of a million candles. I did it, he said with an ear-reaching smile. I did it.

My friend Chris is an Ironman.



November 17, 2008

The Smell of Cats

Here's what I learned today. You know how humans have five different types of taste? Wait a minute, you didn't know that? Oh, good Lord. Now we've got to go even further back. Ok, let's do this one quickly. Human taste occurs on the tongue. There are five - and only five - basic types of human taste: Sweet, Salty, Sour, Bitter and Umami (which is basically savory, or meaty).


Everything you eat is simply a combination of those five tastes. Get it? Good. Now let's move on to smell, because this is the part that I learned today.

In the same way that humans have different types of tastes, we also have different receptors for smell. But whereas there are five types of tastes, there are 1000 genes for smell. Yes, one thousand. And it's not like there is any crossover; every single one of those 1,000 olfactory receptors are triggered by a separate and unique odor. That means we can sense, literally, millions upon millions of different smells. It's almost baffling, ain't it.

Keep in mind, we're just talking about humans. Apparently cats have a sense of smell that is fourteen times better than us mere homonids. Which may explain my girlfriend.

As many of you know, my girlfriends name is Cat. As you may also remember, Cat has a cat. His name is Fraidy. He's a fraidy cat. He's also a cute little pistol, but maybe not the brightest crayon on the porch. I'm not sure if he's hard of hearing or just did too much blow as a kitty, but when you call his name he lifts up his head and looks the other way. Fortunately, his intelligence has nothing to do with my girlfriend.

What does have to do with my girlfriend is their amazing sense of smell. And I really think it's all because her name is Cat.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that just because you have an animal name all of the sudden you resemble the animal. If you suddenly started calling me Fido, I don't think I'd begin to take a crap on the neighbors lawn. But you know how pets sometimes start to resemble their owners? Well, I think things are going all Freaky Friday on us here at the home front.

Fraidy and Catherine have become surprisingly similar in so many ways. First of all, they both lick their lips the same way after they finish eating and I'm still not sure who started it and who's just copying. They both also show those big, round innocent looking eyes after secretly snacking on something yummy (and not sharing it with me). They both jump in fear at any randomly loud sound and they both sit and look blankly into space in the same exact manner. As if none of that is enough, they both have also developed a bafflingly intense sense of smell.

Both of these Cats can smell a microscopic piece of anchovy fillet from five miles away, with a blindfold on and one nostril tied behind their backs.

Its uncanny.

Were you with somebody who was smoking today? Cat (the human one) might ask me randomly one day.

No, I'd probably reply. But yesterday I was in a building where somebody had once smoked a cigarette and now my shirt is in a gym bag in the trunk of my car five blocks away.

I knew I smelled something, she'd say and turn back to whatever she was typing on Facebook.

Because of this smelling trait, I am somewhat convinced that Catherine has, in fact, become a cat. And this is starting to make my life a little bit difficult. Or, at the very least, a little paranoid. Take today for instance.

We just finished dinner and I was in the final touches of cleaning up. Catherine was in the other room on the couch when she yelled over, "do you smell something funky?"

Let's keep in mind that my sense of smell is practically non-existent. If there were a giggling gaggle of funky having a party on my upper lip, I probably wouldn't even smell it. Naturally, my answer was "No, honey, I don't smell anything funky."

At least that was the answer I said out loud. What happened in my brain is something entirely different. As soon as she said "Do you smell something funky?" I started thinking about how my car went into the shop today for some annoyingly ridiculous reason, forcing me to work from home. And when I work from home I put my computer on the dining room table and set myself down, just a few short steps from the refrigerator. Lord knows, I don't want to have to walk too far when the dreadful desires of emotional eating begin to rear their ugly head.

So I remembered how at some point this afternoon I became hungry (again) and decided to eat some food which got me pretty thirsty so I decided to open a can of root beer, which tasted so good that I didn't even have time to walk out of the kitchen before I was chugging it straight from the can. All the while I wasn't really paying attention to where I was going because I was enjoying that can of root beer so much, but had I actually paid attention I would've noticed a certain Fraidy cat sitting in front of me wondering if my trip to the kitchen meant he would get some kibbles, and had I actually paid attention I would've been able to avoid walking into said cat and maybe, just maybe, I would've been able to stop myself from jerking forward and sending the remaining root beer in the can sailing through the air and splattering all over the carpet.

The new carpet. The one that Catherine just got installed 2 months ago.

I'm not sure if the words "oh shit" that came out of my mouth actually preceeded or followed the thought in my brain that said "you're in deep deep trouble, bucko." But I suppose it really didn't matter.

I grabbed a paper towel and tried to clean the root beer off the carpet but that didn't seem to do anything more than leave a bunch of shredded paper towel on the carpet. So I looked under the sink because that's where people keep cleaning products, right? Lysol, dishwashing soap, tile cleaner... a-HA! Simple Green! Isn't that the stuff that cleans everything?

I looked at the label, "Simple Green cleans everything" it said. Perfecto! I figured root beer on a carpet can be included under the "everything" label. So I read the instructions some more and saw that I had to put some Simple Green in a basin and dilute it with water. A basin? Where the fuck am I supposed to find a basin? So I did what any normal American male would do, I grabbed a cereal bowl, put some water in it, sprayed a little Simple Green and cleaned up the carpet. Voila, it was done.

Thats about the time that I looked at the bowl - the cereal bowl - and suddenly could smell the amonia. Amonia. In a cereal bowl. I'm no scientist, but I'm guessing that you don't really want amonia in your cereal. Remember that voice in my head that said "you're in deep trouble, bucko"? Well it suddenly got a lot louder.

I emptied the bowl into the sink and started scrubbing with all my might, hoping to dear jesus and all his cousins that I could clean the amonia from the bowl and get rid of the smell before my Cat sends me to the doghouse. You see, we saw this show on the Biography channel last night about how this woman killed her two husbands and claimed it was a mistake. I surely don't want Catherine to be thinking I'm doing her in by trying to poison her Post Toasties with Simple Green.

I must keep scrubbing, I told myself. Finally, after five minutes, my fingers were wrinkly and I figured we were all safe. I put the bowl in the drying rack and proceeded on with my day.

And all was going nice and fine until that point after dinner when I heard her say "Do you smell something funky?"

The car, the root beer, the Simple Green - it all went through my head. I'm not trying to kill you!, I wanted to scream. I wanted to confess - to tell all. I didn't mean to do it! I didn't mean to spill root beer on the carpet! I used Simple Green! I was only trying to help. It was just Simple Green!

...and these are the thoughts that run through your brain when you live with the smell of cats.

November 14, 2008

Our Liberal Left Wing Date

I haven't been exercising much lately. Let's not kid ourselves, I haven't been exercising at all. Though you think that doesn't affect you, you're wrong. Because now that I don't have any enthralling sports related anecdotes, I'm going to talk about other things. Like the politics of humanity. In fact, let's talk about some of the items on the agenda in the most recent election out here in California. There are three things in particular I want to discuss.

First, the national vote: there was a black man that was running for President of the United States. Lots of Californians voted for him. He won. You probably heard about that one already.

Secondly, Proposition 2: There was a vote to require that chickens, veal and other assorted "dinner animals" live in cage free environments, at least part of the time. I suppose the thought here is that they should get some good healthy exercise before we chop off their heads and vacuum seal them in styrofoam. California residents, ever the animal loving tree huggers, voted that one in too.

Thirdly, Proposition 8: Gays were allowed to get married in California. Proposition 8 was presented to repeal that. That one went through as well - no marrying for the Gays.

So here's what it all comes down to... Californians appreciation level, broken down by type, goes something like this:

1. Blacks
2. Chickens
3. Gays

Needless to say, if you look at the residents of California, it's pretty safe to say that the blacks and the chickens are pretty ecstatic, but the gays, not so much. There have been a lot of rallies and protests and the sort out here, hoping that with enough noise maybe the state government will figure out a way to get their homophobic heads out of their heterosexual asses.

Last week Catherine and I decided to go to one of these rallies. Mostly because we think it's absurd that, in todays day and age, people who love each other aren't allowed to be married.

We met up with three friends (two of whom are homosexual and had adopted a child a few years back and seem to have a better relationship than most heterosexuals I know), and went over to where the protest was starting.

Word of warning: parking is very difficult at protests. If you're thinking of going to one, get there early.

I'm not going to bore you with the details of this particular protest. Suffice to say, if you've ever been to a protest before, you know how boring they already are. Basically what you do is stand around and wonder what you should do. Periodically this will get broken up with such group chants as:

Bullhorn carrier: What do we want?

Crowd: Freedom!

Bullhorn: When do we want it?

Crowd: Now!

And that repeats about a hundred times before everybody has had enough and goes back to their previous conversation about where they should go for dinner or how much of a douchebag Eddie is on Top Design. After awhile, you just start people watching and hoping something catches your fancy. One thing I've learned, the protesting gays sure are witty. These are the top 3 signs I saw at the rally:

Chickens - 1
Gays - 0

- - - -

We need you now, Oprah!

- - - -

Cage-free gays.

- - - -

So after standing around for about an hour, feeling like we really wanted to do more but not really knowing what that should be, the crowd started marching west. That seemed to be our cue, so we started marching east. Enough rallying for us. All that passive protesting made us hungry.

We looked around for places to eat and decided to choose the Vegetarian Vegan Restaurant, which is an odd choice for us since we really like to eat things that had parents. Then again, we're already having a liberal left wing evening, we might as well go full turkey. Or, rather, full tofu.

The meal, as it turned out, was amazing. More importantly, Catherine and I had fun and felt like we were actually standing up for something right. Yes, we weren't the ones behind the bullhorn, we weren't leading the crowd in the march, we weren't running around with witty signs, but we showed up - and that's half the battle.

November 07, 2008

The Four Pillars of Hatred

If there’s one thing we learned from the most recent election, it’s that black people are more highly regarded than gays. This is somewhat of a relief, because as I toil through the night trying to prioritize the amount of racism, sexism, homophobia and religious persecution I disgorge onto the world, I want to make sure my disparaging remarks remain in line with the “industry norm.”

After all, what would humanity be without these four pillars of hatred. Ever since man learned to speak, we’ve learned to hate. Since we invented fire, we’ve been able to burn people at the stake. And we’ve managed to nurture and grow our hatred since then.

Some might think that, what with terrorism and infidels and guns and bullets and the Internet, we’ve streamlined the whole hatred industry. But you’re wrong. You see, back in the old days, hatred was simple. It was easy. Now it’s just completely fragmented and it is practically impossible for any given person to figure out if they should hate the Jews more than the blacks, or the gays more than the Christians, or women more than the Mexicans. It’s just too damn confusing. We need a hate cheat sheet or something.

Before things like the Internet, it took a village to create a good solid hating presence. You all had to make plans and agree on strategy. Everybody knew the goals, everybody knew who was supposed to be stoned. These days, people just start a blog and all of the sudden they think they’ve built a community of hate. You’ve got a racist here, a sexist there. There’s no continuity. It seems people have been lulled into a sense of persecution complacency and it’s killing the hatred industry.

It’s a huge misconception of all the people out there building websites or posting blogs that they’re the kings of hatred just because they’re talking about Jew this or gay that or blacks and bitches and ho’s and blah blah blah. They think that people will follow them just because they know how to type and all of the sudden everybody will adhere to their beliefs, as if they even knew which form of hatred is supposed to be the most important in today’s society. It’s all horse-pocky. To make a real hateful presence, you to have the power of the masses. And, trust me, getting the power of the masses these days ain’t as easy as it used to be.

Press isn’t enough. The last really good publicity campaign for hatred was with Jesus Christ. I mean, seriously, who the heck was that PR person? I want to hire them. All it took was one crucifixion of one guy and suddenly religious persecution evolved into the most important pillar of hatred for a good couple of centuries. Now THAT’S a good PR campaign.

Then again, Jesus has nothing on the Aztecs. When talking about persecution, we can’t forget about the Aztecs. They were like the Bill Gates of hatred. They were killing women, gays and members of other races long before persecution was even en vogue. They defined what hatred really is. They set the bar of hate so high, that in the 600 years following them not a single entity has even come close.

Today’s haters should revere the Aztecs. I mean, come on folks, they went on a spree where they killed over 84,000 people in 4 days! FOUR DAYS! I know what you’re thinking, “84,000 people, that’s it?”

Well pay attention, would you. They didn’t do their killing last week. It was all done 600 years ago. That means it was old skool. No gas chambers, no electric shock, no kool aid, guns or cyanide, no biological or chemical weaponry - just good ole fashioned sticks and stones. You try killing 84,000 people in four days with a bunch of stones and let’s see how long it takes for your arms to get tired. For goodness sakes, the Aztecs are the veritable poster children for discrimination. You think Hitler made a mark on this world? P-tewie.. Hitler only wishes he could’ve been a better hater.

Don’t get me wrong here, Hitler is definitely in the top 10 of the Who’s Who of Hatred. He did quite a number on the religious persecution front, but one can’t help but question whether it was more influential than what the early Americans did to promote racism. That whole slavery trade thing really made a mark. If you’re really going to make a point about hatred, what better way than to import goods from another country just so you can hate them. That’s a real commitment to hate. Hitler was just cleaning house, Americans on the other hand, were cleaning somebody else’s house.

There’s been a lot of fallout from that whole slavery shtick. Racism has flourished in the United States. And though we’ve seemed to make steps to batter down that single pillar of hatred, all you’ve got to do is look at our prison population, median incomes, and white collar employee profiles to figure out that racism ain’t going nowhere. It’s one thing that America can be proud of, we sure know how to build and perpetuate a racist society.

As far as religious persecution, other countries do a much better job than the US. And sexism? When it comes to degrading women, the US has a lot to learn before we can be considered the top of the hatred heap. But with racism, we definitely excel.

I never really knew where we stood with gays in terms of the global hatred spectrum, though I had a pretty good idea that we didn’t have nearly as much hate for the gays as some other countries. You know, like the countries that kill gays right there on the spot. I haven’t read the bill of rights lately, but I’m pretty sure that killing gays right on the spot is still somewhat frowned upon here in the US.

So, anyway, as I tried to figure out what the order of preference for hatred was in today’s US society, here’s what I came up with:

1. Racism
2. Homophobia
3a. Sexism (tie)
3b. Religious persecution (tie)

That was on November 4th.

Then I woke up on November 5th and realized I got it all wrong. First of all, I’m not sure if you heard the news yet, but a black man has been voted in as the President of the United States. A black man!!

That means racism isn’t the number one pillar of hatred in the US anymore. It might even be number four. I was shocked. I thought I’d never see the day. I had chills of excitement. I couldn’t drag myself away from the TV or the Internet. I wanted more information. I realized that we are in the midst of history. History is happening right this very second. Dramatic, life-altering, enthralling history that can only be defined with the two words that drove Obama’s campaign: Hope and Change.

We hope that racism will disappear, and this may help with that change.

I was in awe, cycling through hope and swimming through a sea of change, when all of the sudden I came across some other news. The residents of Arizona, Florida and California all decisively agreed to ban the rights for gays to get married.

HUH!?!?

OK, Arizona I can understand. That’s John McCain country and I wouldn’t exactly call him a gay-lover. Though he was supported by Dick Cheney who has a gay daughter. Then again, good ole Dick probably doesn’t love his daughter anyway. I’ll give you Arizona.

Florida I can almost understand, but not really. Few things say “gay” more than Miami Beach and possibly Palm Beach. But Florida has already stood out in elections as the dysfunctional child – so they probably had no clue what they were talking about when they voted to limit gays rights to marriage.

But California?! If there’s a gay state in the entire US of A, it’s California. San Francisco is like the gay capital of the world. Palm Springs is the gay Florida. Los Angeles? There would be no entertainment business without the gays. There are few states as liberal as California. It’s amazing the state color isn’t a rainbow. Tell me, how in God’s name could California vote AGAINST giving gays the right to get married?!

Would somebody tell me what we’re scared of?

In fact, how could any person in their right mind vote against allowing two people who love each other to confirm that love for the rest of their lives in the most treasured and timely tradition of marriage. There are so many heterosexuals out there beating their wives, abusing their children and giving humanity a bad name – but we can’t let two people who love each other get married?

We shouldn’t stop gays from getting married, we should stop heterosexual assholes from getting married! Somebody show me where to vote for THAT bill!

I’m flabbergasted. I just don’t get it. On the same day we have elevated one people to levels many thought we would never see in our lifetime, we have used our heels to ground another people into the gutter.

But I guess the American people have spoken. And, according to the most recent election, blacks are now allowed to be part of society but as for gays, well, maybe next year.

November 01, 2008

Hope: A Letter

Dear senator President Obama,

I’m scared.

I grew up during the Cold War and was in fear during those times as well. But that was different. Back then, I was scared our leaders would be so stupid as to bite off their nose to spite their face or, rather, that they would annihilate the world to spite a different economic ideology. I breathed a sigh of relief when the Cold War ended, knowing that there may very well be a tomorrow when, for so many years, our tomorrows were being held hostage.

I want to breathe that sigh of relief now, but when I try to exhale it seems that every today brings more devastating news than yesterday. With the economy collapsing, a senseless war continuing, unprecedented deficits and financial fears, a lack of intelligent leadership and a foreign policy that resembles the kindergarten bully who simply doesn’t realize that nobody likes him anymore, we are in a state of panic and turmoil. I have no reaction but to gasp in fear.

And then along comes you.

In the past year you have brought hope to a nation that has been desperate to grasp on to a new reality. You have inspired those whose will has lain dormant. You have motivated millions to listen, to care, to act. In a time that breeds isolation you have united. In an era of darkness, you have shed a glimmer of light. You are hope.

And that is why I am scared.

For hope is a fleeting feeling. Like the cool, comfort of sand in your cradling hands, it soon sifts away if not given substance and form. I fear that our hope, that hope which is built on the infrastructure of our dreams and the framework of your promises, will collapse in a shambles if not supported quickly and effectively.

To prolong hope, one requires change and progress. For decades, we have been made promises by Washington. Great promises, inspiring promises – but promises that have, nonetheless, fallen flat and unfulfilled. We have become numb to the political rhetoric that defines a presidential campaign, knowing full well that the words are empty, that no change will come. We are angered by the bipartisan game of chess, where winning has become more important than improvement and advancement. We are disillusioned with Washington.

I am investing my future in you. In hope. In hope that my life will continue to get better. In hope that you will continue to inspire. In hope that you will create change. In hope that you will be the President that will not let us down; that you will not have us sitting around our dinner tables years hence reminiscing about the time when we once had hope.

I believe, Senator Obama. I believe in the power of the American people and I believe in you. I believe we can change. I believe we are headed down a new road where prosperity, stability, sincerity and worldliness once again define our being. I believe that hope can transform to progress. But I’m scared it won’t.

Getting elected is not the finish line, it is the starting gun.

Please, don’t let us down.


Your hope-filled supporter,

J.
athlete, entrepreneur, human

October 28, 2008

Our Little Friend

I remember the moment he came inside our place. It was about two weeks ago, I was out on the patio grilling dinner and left the screen door open for just a few seconds while I flipped the burgers.


I distinctively remember seeing him go through the door. I didn't think much about it at the time. After finishing my burger flipping, I closed the cover of the grill, turned around and walked inside.

Then I shut the screen door.

You know when you watch those shows about prison, or even some movie like Dead Man Walking or Shawshank Redemption, inevitably, somewhere in the beginning there is a big metal gate that slams shut. As you hear the slam and the locks jam into place you realize that there is no turning back; we're all stuck in here together. That was kind of what it was like when I shut the screen door. I didn't hear the big rolling sound of a metal gate and there were no locks jamming into place, just the sizzling of a couple burgers and the zipping of an old screen door on it's frame, but still, by closing that door I created our own little prison.

Me, Catherine and the fly.

Had I just kept the screen door open for a few more seconds, one of two things would've happened. Either the fly would've flown inside, looked around, realized there was nothing around that struck his fancy, then promptly flown back outside and went home to spend a nice Sunday evening with his wife and larvae. OR, the fly would've gone inside, tired from a tough day of buzzing, and gone to sleep on the couch. All his little insectial friends, feeling a bit jealous of their buddy's new habitat, would've all flown in and joined him and had themselves a fly mitzvah right here in our home.

On the one hand you could say I did the right thing closing the door. But I don't think so. When it comes right down to it, I don't think he would've stayed. Unfortunately, even testing the theory is not a possibility here at Cat's place. You see, we're not allowed to keep the doors open for more than 10 seconds for fear that the cat (the four-legged pet, not the two-legged girlfriend) would get out and run away and never come back to the safety and sanctity of being able to get a free plate of milk whenever he rubs against my leg and looks up at me with those big green cute eyes and utters a small little "meeeoow."

But back to the fly...

At first the fly didn't bother me. I barely noticed him. Sure every once in awhile I'd be sitting and reading on the couch when a sudden "zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz" would zip by my right ear as if I were suddenly transported to some jungle environment. And maybe when I'm brushing my teeth at night I'd see a little black dot zigging and zagging in the bathroom light. But it's not like the little feller was stalking me. Dare I say, but it was almost comforting having somebody else around.

After a couple of days, though, it seemed he got a little lonely and started trying to hang out with me and Catherine a bit more. I'd be laying in bed late at night, the bedside light shining upon the book I was reading, when all of the sudden I'd see the fly buzzing around my bedside. As if he wanted to just climb in and cuddle up to us. Suddenly a family of three had turned into a family of four. Unfortunately, we didn't want to adopt.

I did some research to see if the Safe Haven Law also applied to insects. No such luck.

A few days later, sensing that the fly wasn't going anywhere, that he had indeed become part of the family, I decided to give him a name. I dubbed him Hector. More precisely: Hect-orr. He's latino, you have to roll the R's at the end.

We soon realized that Hect-orr was what you would call "a problem child." Every once in a while I'd be in another room minding my own beeswax when I'd suddenly hear Catherine scream in frustration "HECT-ORR!!! GO AWAY!!"

I'd shake my head in frustration as father's do when their sons are going through puberty and have gotten to be a royal pain in the ass.

Sometimes we'd be sitting on the couch watching TV, me and Catherine, when Hect-orr would just constantly fly in front of our faces, demanding attention. HECT-ORR!!! I'd scream while trying to swat a spanking at him. WE'RE TRYING TO WATCH TV!

But Hect-orr didn't seem to listen. I think he has childhood ADD, or whatever you call it.

After much debate, Catherine and I decided we needed to get rid of him. Adoption was one scenario, but we thought it better if we just let him go off into the wild and fend for himself. We opened doors and tried to encourage him to leave (while simultaneously keeping the cat inside, which is another story in itself). But apparently Hect-orr didn't want to go. We tried catching him in our hands or with a pair of chopsticks like they did in Karate Kid, but the little bugger was too fast - or we were too slow, I'm not sure.

Then one evening, as I was cleaning up from dinner, I opened the trash can and threw away some food remains. As I closed the lid of the trash can again, I distinctively heard some buzzing getting muffled inside. Is that Hect-orr? I thought to myself. Is he hiding in the trash can? I knew right then that I could simply take the trash bag outside and he'd be gone and this phase in our lives would be all done with. It was so simple. But, alas, I am not a simple man. What if that wasn't Hect-orr? I wondered. What if it was someone else? Maybe I'll just give it a little peak.

So I raised the roof of the trash bin ever so slightly, at which point Hect-orr yelled out a big SURPRISE! and flew away. Of course.

I told Catherine. Of course, she said.

Two days later, I got home from work and could see it in Catherine's eyes, Hect-orr was in one of his moods. I can't stand him anymore, she said to me in frustration. You need to do something. You need to get rid of him.

Then she proceeded to tell me a story of how she was cleaning up and noticed him stuck between the glass door and the screen door.

Really? I brightened up realizing this could solve everything. Then did you open the screen door and close the glass door so he would have no choice but to go outside?!

No, I got all flustered, Catherine said. I didn't know what to do, I couldn't think straight. So I didn't do anything.

And just as she said that, Hect-orr buzzed through the room. I wanted to smack him.

* * * *

I'm laying here on Tuesday morning suddenly realizing that I haven't seen Hect-orr in a few days. Maybe he sensed our dissatisfaction with his attitude. Maybe he realized that we were going to get rid of him. Maybe he ran away from home. I'm wondering if I should call the police, put out an APB or something. Missing child, looks like fly.

But no. There's a point in every child's life when he needs to fly out on his own and live his own life.

Adieu, Hect-orr. Vaya con Dios.


October 21, 2008

The Pink Shade Of Conspiracy

First things first, let's lay down the facts:

Number 1: I trust Catherine with my life as well as everything else of similar importance
Number 2: Though she has her own brand of crazy, it's no worse than yours
Number 3: I have no real reason to believe she's consciously part of a conspiracy


Understanding all that, there's something funny going on and I haven't quite been able to put my finger on it. It appears to be some sort of hidden secret society. And, as we all have seen in Ocean's 11, 12 and 13, hidden secret societies quickly lead to conspiracies.

I'm not sure if this is a conspiracy yet, but it sure is starting to smell like one. The only information I've really been able to gather is that it involves blogging and triathlon. I know, it's a funny premise for a conspiracy, but trust me, those communists back there in the Cold War did many things much more peculiar than that, and we know how conspiratorial they were.

This secret triathlon/blogging society, which appears to meet constantly, all day every day, also appears to be discussing many things of grave import. I know this, because Catherine has changed. Here's what I've managed to observe...

Catherine used to be a rather normal person. Meaning, she'd come home and check her personal email once, then yet again right before bed. Maybe she'd even slip in a quick blog read or two somewhere in there. She'd talk to me about being on my blackberry all the time (I'm in a bberry recovery group) or being on my computer way too much (I'm in a laptop recovery group too. It's a disease. I was born this way.)

Then, just recently, I began to notice that Catherine was spending more and more time on her computer. It happened slowly, but it grew. Most of the time she'd be sitting there in silence, no sound coming from her but the occasional pitter-patter of her fingers typing on a keyboard. Perhaps it was an attempt to keep the happenings a secret from me - the modern version of leaving nuclear codes in a paper bag in the forest.

Then one night, not too long ago, it began to change.

Catherine was sitting there silently watching her computer screen, as had become de rigueur (which is not the proper usage of that term, but it sounds good), when, all of the sudden, she burst out laughing. I don't mean a chuckle, I mean a crazy loud hearty laugh where dribble starts coming out of the corner of your mouth. She fluttered about on the keyboard for another 15 seconds...waited.... and then burst into even more laughter. Tear-inducing gut-hurting laughter.

This went on for many minutes, the typing followed by the laughing. I like hearing Catherine laugh, it makes me happy inside. And this was the type of voluminous laughing that at first is infectious. Naturally, I smiled and chuckled too, though I had no clue what I was laughing about.

But you know that point when somebody is so immersed in their own personal laugh attack that it turns from infectious to just plain creepy? You know when all of the sudden the people that were laughing with you are suddenly looking at you like, for instance, you're part of some conspiracy? That's what happened here.

The more she laughed, the more uncomfortable I became.

It was when she almost fell off her swiss ball (which she uses as a chair instead of a chair) that I knew things were getting out of hand.

What's so funny? I asked.

BA-HA-HA-HA, she replied.

I smiled, uncomfortably.

She tried to speak. BA-HA-HA-HA... I.... BA-HA-HA... Ivan.....BA-HA-HA... BJ.... BA-HA-HA-HA. Clearly the talking wasn't really working for her. She just laughed and pointed to her computer screen as if that were supposed to mean something to me. Which, by the way, it didn't.

It soon came to my attention that Catherine had joined this group that is apparently known as the "Tri Blogger Women" or "Tri Chick Bloggers" or "Girl Bloggers Tri" or "Women Who Tri Blogging" or something that has to do with females, triathlon and blogging.

Interesting, I thought. Particularly because, 1. Catherine doesn't have a blog and 2. What do a bunch of bloggers need a group for? I mean, doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of blogging?

But I didn't say anything. I just listened. With a bunch of female bloggers all yammering back and forth, I'm smart enough to realize that the best thing I can do is shut my yapper before I get into a big ditch of trouble with no shovel big enough to dig myself out. (Of course, you can't really dig yourself OUT of a hole, but that's kind of my point.)

The group, as I came to learn, is a closed group, only available by invitation. Which made me even more suspicious. Apparently it was "opened up" to everybody for a few days, though I suspect it was about as "opened up" as those certain Bible Belt country clubs are "opened up" to blacks, gays, Jews and people who wear brown dress socks with topsiders. Either way, it didn't stay "opened up" for long, because apparently it got closed up again before I could figure out what the heck was going on.

A couple of days later I was sitting on the couch calmly reading my book. Catherine sat silently in front of her computer checking her email. Or at least that's what I thought she was doing. Suddenly, out of nowhere, she started laughing again. I looked over at her, she looked back at me, turned away and typed furiously into the computer again. No doubt she was typing something like "I think he might be on to us." Regardless, in the next few minutes she burst out laughing again, said something about peeing in the pool, waited, then laughed hysterically some more. I tried not to look concerned.

As I said, I'm happy to see Catherine smiling and laughing so much, it warms my heart. But, honestly, there's a wee piece inside of me that is a little concerned. Maybe concerned isn't the right word. Scared. That's better. I'm scared because I don't know what's being talked about. I'm scared because I don't WANT to know what's being talked about. I'm scared because I got a message today that her "group of people" decided that it's my job, as boyfriend, to massage her back and cook her dinner and I'm not sure what the consequences are if I don't. I'm scared because there's nothing more threatening to a guy than a bunch of women talking freely all day without proper male supervision. How did this group get approved by the male population anyway?

In the meantime, beware. I don't know about you, but I'll be sleeping with one eye open.

I'll let you know if I find out more information. Now I've gotta go, my girlfriend is hungry and needs a massage.

October 17, 2008

Don't Mess With Me



Editor's Note: I did not stumble upon this myself, I saw the poster on Catherine's desk at work. Catherine was my inspiration for this post. Then again, Catherine is always my inspiration.

October 15, 2008

Hypothetical Question

How come cash registers in 99 cent stores don't just have a big 9 on them?


October 04, 2008

Interesting Fact To Note

The men's restroom in the Denver airport is a certified tornado shelter.

I call dibs on the third urinal.

October 02, 2008

How To Improve Your Swimming And Look Like A Moron In The Process

So you want to be a triathlete, huh? What's that? You say you want to improve your swimming?

Well, let me tell you...you've come to the right place. Yessirree Bobble-dee-boo, this right here is the epicenter of How To Improve Your Swimming-iness.

Be forewarned, though, becoming an accomplished swimmer is not an easy task. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. It takes early mornings and cold pools. And, all too often, it takes a fair heaping of public humiliation.

Are you ready to be humiliated for the better good of your triathlon performance? Yes, you say? Well that's the answer we're looking for, soldier. So step right up and let me give you a couple of workout tips. Or, rather, a couple of activities you can start looking forward to.

In fact, let me share with you a few of the things that Catherine and I have done in a pool over the years to improve our swimming.... Don't laugh too hard - it might happen to you.

+ Swim a normal workout, then halfway through, get out of the pool, put on a t-shirt, get back in the pool and finish your workout fully clothed. It's kind of like a Saturday Night Live skit, but instead it's your life.

+ Swim 500 yards easy. Oh wait, after every 25 yards, stop and do a push-up on the pool gutter before continuing. Don't hit your head on the diving board, it hurts.

+ Swim 50 repeats with your legs crossed (trust me on this one, it's the closest you'll feel to being a sea monkey)

+ Do your swim workout with a wetsuit on (remember, we're talking about the pool here)

+ Swim with your running shoes on (again... pool. As if swimming with your running shoes on in the ocean is any better.)

+ 50 meter sprints. But after every 50, instead of resting, pull yourself out of the pool, do ten push-ups on the deck, get back in the pool, sprint another 50 and keep repeating until your arms give out or you throw-up and they have to close the pool. Whichever comes first.

+ Vertical kicking. Don't drown, it defeats the purpose. Though I'm not quite sure I know what the purpose is.

+ Attach a parachute to your waist, swim. Again, don't drown. Just in case, though, you might want to notice the next of kin before your workout.

Alright, now go get 'em. Good luck.

By the way, we are not held liable for any injuries, death or dismemberment received as a result of our training techniques.

September 30, 2008

You Learn Something New...

Assuming that I do, in fact, learn something new every day, I think we can check today off the list....

A Man's Guide to Communicating With Women
Chapter IV: Arguments

A woman has the last word in any argument.

Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

September 29, 2008

How To Be A Triathlete

For all you playas out there, here you go...

Ironman Life's 8 Tips On How To Be A Triathlete And Impress Your Friends Without Actually Doing An Ounce Of Exercise

1. Shave your legs. Chicks dig it.

2. Lycra. Buy it.

3. Get into the pool before 6:00 am at least once. Brag about it forever.

4. Re-mortgage your house - buy a bike. Mention words like "campy" and "downtube"

5. Go to the running store, buy the most expensive shoes available. Refer to their "superior technology"

6. Buy Triathlete Magazine. Leave it on your coffee table. When people ask about it, start your response with "Oh that? It's nothing..."

7. Choose a race. In every conversation, figure out how to talk about the intense training you're doing for it (don't worry, no need to actually do the race.)

8. End the last conversation of every day with "I've got to get to sleep. Early training day tomorrow."

September 22, 2008

All The Best Intentions

Honestly, I really want to write more. I'd love to write everyday. I used to write everyday. I loved it.

I like posting on my blog. It's fun in some sort of exhibitionistically voyeuristic type of way. It's just that things are really really busy with work. Really. Honestly.

It's not that I don't WANT to post. Want has nothing to do with it. I have all the best intentions of writing something new. Something funny. Something insightful. Something.

Anything.

It'll come. Thanks for your patience.

September 15, 2008

A Couple-A Things I Want To Share

I have two things to share with you....

First, after years of research, I have finally discovered the epicenter of wacko. It's at the Coffee Bean in Brentwood, California. This is the single location in the entire world from which all wackos emanate. More info on that later.

Secondly, Catherine and I raced the Malibu Triathlon yesterday as a relay team (with our friend Chris). As you may have heard, Malibu brings in quite the participant list, including Matthew McConaughy (or however the hell he spells his name), J-Lo, Anna Kournikova, Andy Baldwin and a whole host of others. More info on that later too.

Thirdly, (yes, I know I only said two things, but you should know me enough by now to have figured out there'd be more), somebody smashed into my car while I was sleeping. I wasn't sleeping in the car. I was in bed, the car was in the street. The car is now in the autobody shop with $3,000 worth of damage.

September 08, 2008

It's Her Conscience

[Please note, the names in this post have been changed to protect the guilty, for some silly reason.]

You're not gonna believe this one. Actually, maybe you'll believe it, but I don't. And since I'm the one writing this blog, I'm allowed to assume that you feel exactly like I do.

A few months ago I got a random email from one of my loyal friendly blog readers about one of my race reports from years gone by. Said reader, who shall remain Anonymous, informed me that he was reading another bloggers race report and it seemed familiar. So he came back to one of my race reports and realized that this other blogger copied some of my first Ironman experiences and used it to describe her first Ironman experience.

In the writing world, we call that Plagiarism. In the blogging world, we call that What The Fuck?!

It seemed odd when Anonymous told me about it. So I went to read it myself, all the while giving this other blogger the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it was a misunderstanding, I thought. Maybe there were some similar experiences. Maybe my words even inspired her. But as I began to read through her race report, it seemed way too close to be coincidence. And as I got further into her so-called writing, all those maybes flew out the window and landed in a big pile of manure. This definitely was NOT coincidence.

First of all, it wasn't like the other blogger (who we'll call Julie) took a few words here and there. She took paragraphs. Entire paragraphs. Multiple paragraphs. Taken word for word from my Ironman race report to describe her Ironman experience. Big sections taken directly from my writing where the only things that were changed were self-descriptive details (age, name, home state, etc.)

Weird, huh? Well, it gets worse.

I did my first Ironman in 2006. Julie was writing about an Ironman experience in 2007 - yet still somehow she experienced the same exact weather that I did. Sure, maybe. But even weirder, I had raced Ironman Lake Placid, she did Ironman Louisville. Do you understand what I'm saying here? She used my description of the Lake Placid course to describe an ENTIRELY different one. I mean, everything was different about our experiences - different time of year, different state, different course, different everything... including different people. I am me and she is not. But apparently the same words work for both. Apparently, there are the same hills, the same wind, the same climbs, the same me, the same everything.

I was flabbergasted at the race report. I showed it to Catherine. Catherine read it and was shocked. She said she forgot it wasn't my race report. She said that she practically expected to get to the part where Julie kissed her at the end of the race.

Can you believe it? I couldn't either.

So I confronted Julie about her report. After all, I am a writer. I am forever working on a book. There is a good chance that my Ironman race report may show up in a novel. Lord knows, I don't want to get into a lawsuit about plagiarizing my own experience. Besides, plagiarism is a crime. At least in my eyes. So, as I said, I confronted her.

Julie was shocked. As if she didn't realize that her race report was a blatant rip-off of mine. As if she had no clue.

Crazy? Yeah, but get this...

Julie said that the year she did the Ironman was hectic. "My uncle was dying with bone cancer," she told me. "And so I was attending to him.. and my friend Beth helped by posting the race report. It was really tough... because not only did my uncle spend time in the hospice, but my best friend was dying from cancer... So I wasn't exactly attentive over what was getting put up as I was very distraught."

She wasn't attentive, she was distraught. She didn't have a lot of time to do blogging. For most of us that means we don't post any blogs, right? For Julie, it's different. She came up with a solution - an "editor / coblogger." A friend of Julie's wrote for Julie on Julie's blog as if she actually were Julie.

I repeat, she had her friend write her blog about her life because she was too busy living her life.

Which part of this makes sense to anybody?

Julie remained shocked. "I do not take plagiarism lightly," she told me. "Particularly from another athlete such as yourself, whom I respect and admire!" And plagiarize, apparently.

Let me contact her and ask her about this, Julie said. And she proceeded to send a note to her friend, the "co-blogger". We're calling her Beth. I was copied on the email where Julie asked Beth if she plagiarized my blog for the race report. It was a pretty straight-forward letter that clearly discussed plagiarism and clearly had me copied on it. Naturally, Beth copied me on her response. Here's what she said:

* * * *

"hi darling [editor's note: that's Julie she's calling darling, not me. just for the record],

excuse me for my tardiness in response we had a full weekend with mother and a party almost every single night not sure if you remember but also was peter's 40th birthday on saturday.

i remember when i was helping you post everything i researched and got information from a few other ironman race write ups to tell me what to say because i didn't really know what to talk about. sorry just didn't understand much about athletics you know me i like shopping much more my scene!

hope this didn't cause any trouble i am sorry if it did.

i'm back on thursday via heathrow shall we do coffee?"

* * * *

First of all, did I just end up as a side story in "The Devil Wears Prada?"

Oh, there are so many ways I can make fun of that letter, but I shan't in any of them at this point in time. I'll just focus on the part where Beth doesn't seem to feel like she did anything wrong.

Then again, let's even hold off on the not feeling like you're doing anything wrong part. Let's talk about the idea where you race your first Ironman. It's an awe-inspiring experience. An emotional and physical rollercoaster. A draining celebration of months of pain, sacrifice, focus and determination. Your first Ironman is a personal experience. It's a journey of self-discovery; a travel through your inner-being.

Julie went through all of that.
And then she had somebody else write about it.

And not just any old somebody, but somebody who is not an athlete, somebody who does not understand Ironman, somebody who did not even seem to talk to Julie much about the experience in the first place.

And then Julie knowingly posted it on her site as if it were real! How could she not know and approve of this being posted as her experience?!

Explain to me, in which part of this is Julie the victim?

"It looks like she had no idea what she was talking about," Julie followed up with me. "[I guess Beth] just "borrowed" inspiration from google. In retrospect, it did seem [weird that] she wrote so well about Ironman having no experience in triathlon."

To lie, to plagiarize - as if that's not deceitful enough. But I haven't even mentioned the comments yet.

Last I looked, there were 79 comments attached to her race report. Seventy nine. "That's incredibly written" they said. "What an amazing experience" they uttered. "That's the best race report I ever read" they proclaimed.

I got sick.

I wondered how Julie can let this happen and still feel good about herself. I wondered who else she had been plagiarizing from.

I told her to remove the post immediately (she did). I suggested that she contact every single blogger that she's plagiarized from and let them know. I suggested she apologize. I recommended that she write a post on her site letting her readers know that she's been deceiving them and stealing from others. I didn't try to force her to do this. It's her conscience, she's got to live with it. I just want my writing off her blog.

For four weeks I watched. Nothing changed. Periodically I'd get emails from her saying things like, "of course I will publish something on my blog about the report being plagiarized from you" and "I'm working on telling people, but it's so hard to put together."

And then, just as suddenly, my friend Anonymous returned and pointed me to another blog by another journalist, who is far removed from triathlon or sports. She had written a very personal, autobiographical essay about her childhood. It had already been published in a magazine and posted on her blog. Julie copied it and made believe it was her own. It's like if I took Barack Obama's autobiography, put my name and photo on it and claimed it as my own. The Audacity of Ironman.

There were 47 comments attached to that post. Among them were: "You are a beautiful woman and this post is amazing." And "you have an amazing way with words. I felt like I was reading a beautiful novel."

Shortly thereafter, Julie took her blog down. She informed me that she was getting abused by bloggers. That people were calling her a liar and a plagiarizer and she couldn't stand it anymore. I'm leaving the blog world, she said.

Good.

We're better off without you stealing from us.

September 04, 2008

The Bike Chop

I'm annoyed.

My road bike is a Kestrel. The bike loves me, I love it. (Well, most of the time we love each other - just not always during Ironman training). The last time I rode my road bike was on April 13, 2008. That was at Ironman Arizona.

The day before Ironman, I noticed that Kestrel had a booth at the race expo. Over the past year the paint on my bike has been beginning to fade and so I went up to the fine Kestrel folks and asked them if they'd be able to fix it.

Probably, they said. But unfortunately we don't deal directly with our customers. When you get home, they continued, bring the bike to your local bike shop and have them send it back to us. We'll check it out for you.

No problem.

I race. I get home. I bring the bike to my bike shop and they send it off to Kestrel with a "it'll be back in about three weeks".

Two and a half months later I get a call informing me that Kestrel won't do anything with my current frame. Send the bike back, I say. Enough already.

One month later the bike is back at my bike shop waiting for me to pick it up. I go pick it up. It cost me $200.

Two hundred dollars?! I say somewhat flabbergasted. Actually, completely flabbergasted.

Shipping, labor.

Labor?

Yes, we had to disassemble your bike and then reassemble it.

So it cost me two hundred dollars to get told that I'm shit out of luck?

Yep.

OK. Here's my credit card.

I pay for the bike, feeling a bit perturbed. I bring my bike outside. As I'm loading it into the car, I notice a gauge in the fork. A gauge. Not a scratch. Not a nick. Not a dent.

Gauge.

I bring the bike back into the bike shop. Look at this, I say to the bike shop attendee (who, actually, is really nice and a friend of mine).

Uh-oh, he says. Let me see if it's safe to ride, he says.

He knows it's not my fault. He takes the bike away. He comes back 5 minutes later. Should be safe, he says.

How do we know it's safe? I ask.

Well, the only way to really know is to send it back to Kestrel.

You mean to pay another $150 to send it back?

Yep.

I didn't have to roll my eyes or scream or throw a tantrum to get my feelings across. I effectively relayed tantrum without having to jump and potentially pull a hamstring.

So what do we do now? I ask. Clearly this isn't my fault.

Let me make some calls, he responds. I'll get back to you this week.

Two weeks later I'm on the phone with him. I've got bad news, he says. It's not our fault. And Kestrel says it's not their fault.

Well clearly it's not my fault! I complain.

Yes, true.

There's silence.

So...? Now what? I ask.

So now here I am, having already paid $200 to have my bike destroyed. Not feeling like it's safe enough to ride and having to pay another $150 to get that determined. The bike store isn't willing to take responsibility. Kestrel isn't willing to take responsibility. And though every single person and company involved in this entire ridiculous transaction knows, without an ounce of doubt, that I am definitely not responsible for any of it, I'm still the one that appears to be getting screwed.

So, as I said before, I'm really annoyed.

August 26, 2008

The Cellphone Rings

I've been doing a little sociological study on cell phone usage and think I've finally got it all figured out. Here's what I've come up with....

Young kids & teens
Mostly text message until their fingers are blistered. If the phone rings at all, it's usually some Justin Timberlake-type ringtone that is only loud enough to get their friends to say, "i am so totally in love with that song" everytime somebody calls. The ring, however, rarely gets past the first few bars before they answer the phone and start the conversation with something like, "oh. my. god. i totally like can't believe you just called me right now. like totally freaky."

20 somethings
The phones are usually kept in their pockets, so it takes a couple seconds to get out before they can answer. Their cellphone rings are usually some sort of ringtone they've downloaded that is directly related to their quote-unquote lifestyle - or however that is defined in musical terms. Hip hop, emo, goth - each of them has a ringtone that defines them to the core of their being. They do a bit of text messaging but not nearly as much as their younger siblings. They make fun of their younger siblings and their silly ringtones, even though they were just like them 5 years ago.

30 somethings
There's no time for ringtones, they'd rather have the phone vibrate anyway. That way they can keep it on during meetings without missing a single call. Unfortunately, they're always picking up the phone in the middle of conversations and looking at it, despite the fact that nobody heard any ringing. It tends to get a bit confusing for those trying to hold a conversation with them. It's like the cellphone version of Turrets Syndrome.

40 somethings
Would love to have a ringtone from the 70s or 80s. Something like The Love Boat theme or Shaft. They really can't understand why anybody would not want the Shaft theme as a ringtone. However, they're too busy, they don't have the time to find the ringtone and even if they did have they time, they wouldn't know where to get it anyway. So they're content to just stick with the coolest sounding ringtone that came with the phone when they first bought it. They're just discovering text messaging and almost understand how it makes life easier. Their phones are usually hidden in purses or briefcases so the ring volume is set on loud. How else do you expect to hear the phone in the purse? Unfortunately, it takes a little bit too long to find the phone when it's ringing and they often miss the calls for not picking up on time.

50 somethings
They've heard about text messaging but don't understand the fuss. They're not real sure what a ringtone is and really couldn't care less. Ringtones are for kids. Why would anyone need a different sound for a phone ringing anyway? Back when I was growing up, you got a phone, it rang, you answered it, end of story. None of this really matters though because most of the time they forget to turn their cellphones on in the first place.

60 somethings
They're not real sure how to turn the phone off. The ringer volume is set to megaphone-loud, though to them it seems quite normal (just like Pete Townsend felt like the volume at The Who concerts was fairly normal. Now he's stuck with Tinkerbell living in his head.) They never quite realized that there is a mute feature for rings, so rather than turning the ringer off, they just keep it ringing, extremely loudly, in public places until the person finally hangs up or they get stoned to death by the other people in the movie theater.

70 somethings
They don't have a cell phone and don't want one. They don't know what a ringtone is, never heard of a text message and, honestly, don't understand what all the fuss is about and don't really care. They're not so much for new fangled contraptions anyway. They still don't quite understand how to use the answering machine their grandchildren got them for Christmas.

August 23, 2008

9 Ways The Olympics Could Be More Fun

1. Have the synchronized divers each hold a set of torches. On fire. Just like in Acapulco.

2. Show Michael Phelps' mom after every American medal performance, regardless of the sport or athlete. We clearly didn't see her enough.

3. Two words: strip volleyball

4. Make the Sack Race and the Three Legged Race official Track & Field events

5. Allow competitors to punch any rival who is showboating (coughUsainBoltcough)

6. Have the fencers use the big heavy swords like in Pirates of the Caribbean. And, oh, make them talk like Jack Sparrow too.

7. Javelin catchers.

8. Make archery more old school. Forget the targets. Man with apple on head. William Tell style, yo.

9. Forget the 16 year old minimum age for gymnastics. Imagine a couple of 7 year olds on the balance beam? How cute is that?!

10. Instead of just playing the gold medal winners' national anthem, give 'em a microphone and
make it karaoke.

11. Biathlon, triathlon, pentathlon, decathlon... hows about the Quintathlon. Participants compete in every single Olympic event. Let's see who wins that one.

August 20, 2008

My Long Lost Life

I don't WANT the Olympics to end. I NEED the Olympics to end. I can't keep it up, I'm going crazy.

Catherine just got home and found me sitting on the couch, the TV on and the computer in front of me. Olympic diving was on TV, Taekwondo streaming on the Internet. I might as well have had a needle coming out of my arm.

What are you doing? she said.

I'm waiting for BMX to start, I replied somewhat matter of factly, as if she couldn't figure that one out.

You're watching diving on the TV and Taekwondo on the computer at the same time? And you say you're just waiting for BMX to start? You need help.

She's right, this has gotten ridiculous.
I need a recovery program.

Can we just give everybody gold medals and call it a day? I need my life back.

August 19, 2008

The Olympic Spirited Away

You know what I love about triathlon in the Olympics? It's that the winners are ecstatic to have won. They are all jumping for joy, screaming and yelling and victorious. And I'm not even talking about the gold medal winners - it goes without saying that the first place finishers are beyond ecstatic. What I'm talking about are the silver and bronze medal winners in triathlon. When they cross that finish line, they're smiling and joyful and overwhelmed as if they have yet to realize that others finished ahead of them.

It seems to me that there's an honest feeling in triathlon that medaling in the Olympics is the ultimate honor in the sport. I remember, back when I was a kid, how that feeling permeated every sport of the Olympic games. How anybody who finished in the top 3 was deliriously happy. After all, they are Olympic medalists and that's something to be damn proud of.

I loved watching Olympic swimming and am in awe of Michael Phelps and his amazing accomplishments. Yet I can't remember seeing an Olympic swimming race this year when the silver and bronze medalists were screaming and smiling in accomplishment. Instead, it always seemed that two-thirds of the medalists looked as if they just got news that their parents died (with the possible exception of Dara Torres who, the class act that she is, was both honestly ecstatic and slightly disappointed at not getting the gold, in the .01 second margin.)

Same with gymnastics, table tennis, archery and a variety of other sports. The jumping for joy seems to only be reserved for the highest spot on the podium.

(Yes, there are exceptions. I'm not making a sweeping generalization of every single winner. But I am talking about most of them.)

What happened? Where did we go wrong? At what point in our existence did being the 2nd or 3rd best at a something become a losing proposition? There are approximately 6.7 billion people in this world. Billion, with a B. If I could be the top 3 in anything - anything whatsoever - I can pretty much guarantee you that I'd be jumping with joy for the rest of my life. Literally, I'd be jumping up and down until my legs gave out.

But alas, most of us are lucky if we're amongst the 1 million best people in anything. And many of us are even ecstatic to be there! Understanding that there are less than 1 million people racing triathlon in this world, I'm happy to say that I'm better at triathlon than ~99.985% of the human population. And goshdarnnit, if that's not something to be proud of, then what is?

So let's get back to the overwhelming joy expressed by the top finishers in the Olympic triathlons. In fact, it doesn't even seem to be limited to the top three. Some of the fourth, fifth and sixth place finishers were as overwhelmed as if they just won the race themselves. Did anybody see Unger screaming his way to a 6th place finish?! And what about the dude high-fiving himself to a last place victory in the men's triathlon with a smile on his face that rivaled the winners?!

Maybe it's because triathlon is such a young sport in the Olympic eye that the participants are still just excited to be on the international stage. With only a few years under our belts, we still hold in awe the power of an Olympic medal. Or maybe it's this hidden camaraderie I talk about so often that is inherent in triathlon. How personal accomplishment isn't so much calculated by the time it took you to finish, but by the effort you put in along the way. And pride isn't a measure of how high you stand in relation to others, but how much you willingly embrace the person that looks back at you in the mirror.

Whatever it is, I'm happy to be a part of it. And I can only hope that this Olympic spirit somehow creeps back into the rest of the sports so that us everyday Joe's can continue to remain in awe of the world's best. So that when we cross our local finish lines, we have role models that have taught us to smile and scream and be proud of our accomplishments, no matter what the clock says.

August 15, 2008

12 Random Thoughts About The Olympics

1. Who died and made Jim Lampley the anchor? Let's get the SportsCenter folks to run the show. Now THAT would be fun.

2. Since when did beach volleyball warrant more prime time coverage than other, more interesting sports. Like, say, fencing.

3. Speaking of fencing, I'm saddened to realize that Olympic duels look nothing like the fights in The Princess Bride.

4. Beach volleyball in the rain? Huh?!

5. If they allowed rowers to splash competitors in other boats, it'd be a lot more interesting to watch.

6. Live synchronized diving for 1 hour? Really?

7. I still don't understand how they choreographed that part of the opening ceremony when all the "dancers" had the boxes over their heads. Amazing. Truly amazing.

8. It seems that every 4 years each Olympic host tries to outdo the last with their opening ceremonies. My advice to London is, instead of trying to outdo China, go the opposite direction. All you need is a guy in a loin cloth carrying a stick of fire.

9. Why does Michael Phelps have to wear his bathing suit so low? Pull up the pants swimboy.

10. At what point do we realize that Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Roger Federer and Serena Williams do not constitute the spirit of the Olympics? Hows about we all agree that if you're making more than $10 million per year, stay at home. We'll watch you at your own championships.

11. How great is that Coca-Cola commercial with Carl Lewis and the retarded kids crying?! I mean, really.

12. Speaking of commercials, the award goes to Visa. Gold star.

August 12, 2008

Freedom Fries Anybody?

What's with the French? How come they hate us so much - what did we ever do to them? I mean, besides naming greasy, deep fried potatoes after them (which doesn't seem nice). Though didn't we make up for that with the French Toast? Doesn't the yummy-ness of French Toast cancel out the greasy-ness (though no less yummy) of the French Fries?

We eat baguettes, we nibble on croissants, we French kiss and drink French wine behind French doors wearing chapeaus in our chateaus. And still, what do we get? Nothing but an upturned nose and a cchhat-ptewie in our general direction. They say things like, "you durgty Amerr-ee-cahns can kees my ahss" and that's just plain mean. The French Canadians aren't even half as mean.

On another note, in case you've been hiding under a rock and haven't seen the greatest swim event ever in the history of everything, click here. I still don't get how he won. It doesn't make sense.

Who ever thought there was a swim race that you'd want to watch over and over. Go figure.





* Please note: the views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the author, if that's at all possible.

August 08, 2008

Celebrities In The Draft

I used to have these celebrity sighting comments on the bottom of the blog but somewhere along the line I forgot to care. Somewhere along the line I think you forgot to care too. Anyhoo, I was just going through my draft blog posts and found this unposted gem in there. Since I couldn't bring myself to actually erase it (I don't like throwing stuff away), I figured I'd post it and you can do with it what you will. So here you go, a blast from the blog past.... Celebrity Sightings....


*************
Who: Tom Hanks and his wife whats-her-name

Where: TCBY

What He Was Doing: Getting yogurt with his wife and friends. And from the looks of Tom, I'd say he's over-recovered from his role in "Castaway". Maybe there've been a few too many TCBY runs when they've been all out of the non-fat flavors. Then again, now that he's a big powerful movie executive and not a lowly actor, who the hell cares what he looks like. On the down side, I suppose this means I'll never see a Bosom Buddies full length movie.

***********

Who: Jon Favreau, writer, director and star of one of the best movies of all time, Swingers. He's also been in a bunch of other films that make you say things like "hey, isn't that the guy from Swingers?"

Where: Starbucks

What He Was Doing: Drinking something too expensive and playing with his newborn child. Actually, it looks like the child may be a month or two old. Which I suppose is as close to newborn as you'll get at Starbucks.

August 07, 2008

I'm Back

We just got back yesterday from our Vermont - Maine - Boston birthday extravaganza. It was a blast. Relaxing, athletic, fun... all sorts of adjectives rolled into a tree-lined, lake-filled land o' beauty.

This past Saturday (Cat's bday) we ran the Beach to Beacon 10k. I'm going to tell you about that one in a sec. While you're waiting, you might want to go sign up for next year's race because it's definitely one of the better 10ks out there.

August 02, 2008

Happy Birthday Catherine!

You haven't heard from me in awhile, because Catherine and I are on vacation in Vermont and Maine. (BTW, it's her birthday today in case you, you know, wanted to say something to her)

July 24, 2008

The Last Thing I Saw

The first thing I saw was a man doing a flip in the air. Then again, maybe the first thing I saw was the black SUV, it's hard to recall. It is also possible that the first thing I saw was the bike. It happened so quickly, some of it is a blur. I was also about three or four cars back, so I couldn't see everything. But the sequence of events can only work in one way, so I suppose that has affected my memory - logic always trumps perception.

The cyclist was coming south at a fairly good clip. The SUV was going north on the other side of the road at about 25 miles per hour when he took a quick left. Cyclist hits SUV, flies into the air, does flip. His head bounces on the ground. Literally, it bounced. I saw it. It hit the ground, bounced and smacked into the ground again.

I cringed. The SUV was still moving and I cringed and hoped that he didn't run over the cyclist. I was three or four cars back and couldn't quite see. I prayed. Sometimes you can say very long, thoughtful prayers in a millisecond. I could tell that the cyclist was on the ground and that the SUV was still moving and all I could do was cringe and pray and hope he didn't get run over.

He didn't.

I immediately grabbed my phone and held down the 9 button. "Would you like to pre-program this key?" the phone prompted me. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! I yelled to Verizon. NO, I DO NOT WANT TO PRE-PROGRAM THE KEY. THE KEY IS ALREADY SUPPOSED TO BE PRE-PROGRAMMED!! Since when is the goddam 9 key NOT already pre-programmed to dial 911?!

I swore at Verizon. I stumbled with the phone. I was shaking.

My fingers felt like tree trunks, the number pad mere pinholes. I somehow pushed the numbers, 9-1-1. I gave them all of the information about the cyclist lying in the road, the SUV parked on the side. I pulled over, got out of my car and rushed across the street.

People had already come by, they were standing around him staring. Don't move, they said. Did anybody call 911, they asked. I did, I said. They're on their way.

I'm a doctor, a guy said as he knelt on the ground. Move away, everybody please move away.

What's your name? he asked as he scanned the body for broken bones.

Christopher, he replied.

Can you feel this? he asked as he squeezed fingers on his right hand, his left

Yes. Yes.

How about this? as he squeezed his left foot, his right.

Yes.

OK. Don't move. Don't get up.

The paramedics arrived, the police arrived. They talked to the witnesses, they examined the victim. The victim. He was a cyclist, now he's a victim.

They asked about the car, they looked at the SUV. They asked questions about the traffic lights, the speed, the incident. The man that was driving stood next to me, silent. He was 65, middle eastern, scared. He opened his phone and began to text. Probably his wife. He's going to be late for dinner.

Who is the driver, the police asked. I pointed my finger. Him.

He was scared. It was a mistake.

* * *

Mandeville wasn't a mistake.

Mandeville happened three weeks ago. The mass of cyclists were on top of the 5 mile climb. They were coming down when a friend fell over, broke a collar bone. The two friends waited while the rest of the crew continued. They called for help. The ambulance came and began to take care of the fallen one. The two friends bid farewell and began to ride down the hill.

Halfway down a car came up behind them. Honking. The cyclists moved to the side of the road in single file. The car came up next to them, he was yelling. They stayed single file on the side of the road. The driver pulled in front of them.

And then he slammed on his brakes.

The driver of the car, traveling just a few feet in front of the cyclists, purposely slammed on his brakes.

The first cyclist jammed his bike, clipped the car and was thrown onto the ground. Banged up, broken arm. The second cyclist hit the rear bumper of the car, flew off his bike and went through the rear window. Not INTO the rear window... THROUGH it. His body was destroyed. His nose was practically ripped off. He'd get 90 stitches on his face alone.

The man got out of the car and continued to yell. I'M A DOCTOR! He added amidst his rage. But he's not the type of doctor that is compassionate and caring, because he wasn't. And he's not the type of doctor that helps people when they're hurt, because he didn't. He just yelled. And nearly killed two cyclists.

The second cyclist pulled his battered body off the ground and lay his body on top of the car. We can't let this man get away, he thought. I must keep him here at all costs until help comes.

Help came. It was another cyclist - and the ambulance from higher up the hill that had been helping their friend with the broken collarbone. The ambulance stopped and took care of the cyclists. The ambulance called the cops.

The driver was arrested. Road rage. A felony, up to 7 years in prison. And he's a doctor. Hopefully he'll lose his license.

The pictures are horrendous. The story is everywhere.

Los Angeles cyclists are hit by cars every week. Cyclists die every year. It's not getting better, it's getting worse. People are angrier, more stressed, they don't pay attention, they don't care. People are on their phones, their blackberries, they're reading books while they drive. People read books while they're driving.

I want to help, but I don't know what to do.

I feel it's not a matter of if I'll get hit by a car, but a matter of when. In the past two years I've been hit by one car and run off the road by two others. But it could get worse. I'm still alive. Next time could be worse.

I'm nervous when I ride, scared when Catherine leaves. I fear my friends will fall victim.

We want to be cyclists, not victims.

July 22, 2008

Post Apologies

I need to apologize to everybody. I haven't posted a gosh darn thing in awhile. It's not for lack of caring. I've had oh so many things to say but, honestly, work has been so incredibly crazy busy. To top it off, Catherine and I were just in New York City for a bunch of days where we went to our friends wedding. And now I'm trying to get a magazine article done. As if that's not enough, Catherine and I are headed out east again next week to celebrate her big birthday.

Excuses excuses.

I'm going to try to say a little something or other before we leave, but no promises.

Thanks for your understanding.
It's why I like you so much.

July 11, 2008

Running In Place

Remember when you were in fourth grade PE class and you had to run in place? You know, jogging without going anywhere. In hindsight, it seems fairly ridiculous. I can't imagine it's the type of activity that would teach kids any type of valuable lesson besides, say, learning how to skip PE class.

It seems to me that forcing a group of highly impressionable children to run in place may just be some sort of displaced analogical representation of a sad and lonely gym teacher who feels like he's going nowhere in life. Making kids run in place is his way of forcing the rest of the world to suffer the failure that his mother thinks he is. If he'd only gotten married and applied himself a little better, maybe he wouldn't be such an embarrassment to the family and maybe, just maybe, he could've grown up to be the successful, well-respected man that his brother Frances turned out to be.

This line of thought began last night when Catherine came home from work and told me that she needed to do leg strengthening exercises. She changed into her very sexy tights and jog bra (as women tend to do in such situations), came back into the living room, put on some random Madonna album (as women also tend to do in these situations) and began to read her workout instructions.

Suddenly she looked at me with somewhat of a blank star on her face. I'm supposed to start with a five minute warm-up on a spinning bike, she said. I don't have a spinning bike.

And, with nary another word spoke, she began to jog. In place. Going nowhere.

She tried her darndest not to look at me while I tried my hardest not to laugh. All I could do was stare in amazement. I hadn't seen anybody jog in place in decades. Probably since Coach Reznicki's PE class. (Rez-o was a douchebag).

I stared in disblief. The smirk turning to a grin turning to a smile turning to...

Catherine glanced over at me with one of those looks that says "What's your problem, chump?! You never see somebody jog in place before?!". And then she quickly looked away.

I really tried my hardest not to laugh, but, c'mon people, she's jogging in place! Finally, like a balloon that expanded beyond it's limit, Catherine burst out in hysterics.

I can't believe I'm jogging in place!! she spat out. You have to promise not to tell anybody about this!

You've got to be kidding, I replied. You're jogging in place!! Hell, I'm telling EVERYBODY!

But, alas, apparently jogging in place doesn't have the same cache when you're an adult as it did when you were a kid (assuming it had any cache as a kid). Within about two minutes, Catherine's jogging in place turned into endless laps between the living room and dining room. Keeping in mind, that the distance between the two extends about 10 feet. Yet somewhere amidst all of this nonsense, it got me thinking about my life.

As I've grown older, I've learned to despise running in place. I thrive on forward movement. I want to continue to grow, to move, to learn. If there's one thing that is guaranteed to chew me apart from the inside, it's the concept of standing still. Granted, I can lay on the couch and read just as well as the next guy. Put me in front of a TV and I'll stay potatoed there ad infinitum. But, believe it or not, part of that is about learning and growing.

The reason I love watching the Olympic Trials and the Tour de France and the Bass Master Classic and any other sport I can put my remote on, is because it ignites the fire of inspiration within me. Believe it or not, sitting on my ass and watching a couple of guys play billiards actually drives me forward. It helps me to be the best, most inspired person I can be in whatever I am doing.

And isn't this a reason for life - to be the person you want to be?

If nothing else, the purpose of life is about experiencing life. It's about capturing emotion and memories; about exploring and teaching and keeping the world spinning around. Life is about learning how to grow a tree from a seedling, so the next generation can grow a forest from the tree. It's about moving forward. It's not about getting to the finish line as much as moving away from the starting line. In life, there is no running in place.

And I suppose within that is how we take triathlon as the great analogy of life. Working hard, challenging ourselves, learning, growing, achieving. It's not about the time at the end, but the time we had getting to the end.

Let's keep moving forward.

July 08, 2008

The 7 Worst Sounds in Triathlon

1. POWWW!!!-SSsssssssss: The deafening sound of a blown tire the moment you step into the water

2. Five words uttered when you're at mile10 of the run, when 100 degree temperature is considered "cooling off", when the very last drop of moisture in your body has just evaporated, when you finally reach the aid station that appears like an oasis in the Sahara, that's when you hear it: We're all out of water

3. The screeching of car tires right behind your bike

4. Ambulance sirens

5. "WATCH OUT!!" screamed by the douchebag riding his bike right behind you

6. "Shaark!" yelled while you're swimming. Even if you're in a pool and they're clearly joking, it's still not funny.

7. Four words: "No more toilet paper"

July 02, 2008

The Art Of Stuffing A Kielbasa

Every week, the LA Tri Club puts on a Wednesday morning ocean swim that has become quite the festive fete. Though it starts at the early hour of 6:30am - on a school-day nonetheless - it consistently attracts about 50 to 100 people. If you close your eyes and force yourself to throw up, it almost feels like the start of a triathlon, which is kinda good, because that's the whole purpose.

The swim is a "speed circuit," which may not be the best name for the activity. Perhaps it's better simply named a "swim circuit" - or maybe just a "don't drown circuit". Either way, this so-called circuit pretty much entails everybody starting en masse and running from the sand into the ocean, then swimming 250 meters out to a little buoy, rounding the buoy and swimming the 250 meters back to shore, running out of the water, across about 50 meters of frustratingly deep sand, then back into the water to repeat the whole thing again as many times as you please, or until your toes get stung by a stingray, whichever comes first.

This past Wednesday was the first time I attended this particular swim, despite the fact that I've heard all the hoo-haa about it for years. Catherine and I got there at about 6:15 and pulled into the parking lot with the rest of our early morning brethren. The parking lot was full. Doors were ajar, trunks were open, goggles were defogging, bodies were lubing, flip flops were flopping and everybody was getting themselves prepared in their own special ways. I looked around at the masses in their own worlds with their own processes and you know what I discovered? I discovered that there are many different ways to squeeze into a wetsuit. It almost seems like an art.

So I decided to do a little research on this whole thing. What I've found is a wealth of information about putting on a wetsuit and in just a short time I've become the world's foremost expert on wetsuit putting-on-ing. Just because I like you, I'm going to share all of my knowledge with you right here, right now. Don't you feel lucky? I thought so.

Basically, the art of putting on a wetsuit can all be boiled down to five different techniques: The Fold, The Frog, The Jump, The Leap and The Tush. Let me explain...

The Fold
The Fold is perhaps the most popular technique for putting on a wetsuit. Some of you folks may also know this as The Fingernail, The Pull or The Shimmy method. Whatever you like to call it, it's pretty simple and is the technique usually taught to new-comers.

The Fold begins with two feet in the wetsuit (having feet firmly back inside flip flops is optional, though recommended). In the early stage, the suit rests just above the knees. If required, the user can stand up and waddle to the other side of the car with the hopes of not falling down, in the same manner as one might do the moments before the start of a burlap sack race.

With wetsuit bunched on quads, the user reaches down and proceeds to pull and yank the bottom of the suit leg, massaging the suit up the leg until the mid-leg bunching has been maximized and you can create none more bunching.

For those wishing to be certified in The Fold method, one essentially utilizes a wetsuit rolfing technique to manipulate the suit (this is a trick question in the certification test - just a heads up.) When maximum bunching has been achieved, user then pulls the suit above the hips and continues the folding technique on the legs and arms until the tightest fit possible has been achieved.

The Fold technique is a favorite of Type A personalities. The problem with this is that, because they are Type A personalities, there is always more Folding and pulling that can be done.


The Frog
Though The Fold is most effective for the common body types, The Frog is apparently a very effective assembly system for those people with wetsuits that need a little extra lift in the crotchal region. The process entails getting the suit almost halfway on, where the legs and hips are fully covered with only the upper body remaining (a Fold technique may or may not be used in the early stages of this process). To an outside observer, it may seem like the user is but a couple of arms and a zip away from being done and ready to waddle to the water. But, alas, there is one more step to be had.

Prior to even beginning the upper body maneuvering, you will find The Frog-ger suddenly bending the legs and squatting very low to the ground, as if they just had sudden flashbacks to their last time in a Chinese Port-A-Pooper. And just when you think they're going to fall right onto the ground - kablaaam! - they straighten their legs and grab their crotch in one fell swoop without their feet ever leaving the ground.

The overall purpose of The Frog technique is to lift up the crotch area of the wetsuit for a tighter, more snug fit. But The Frog maneuver is not easy. It requires a level of leg-hand-crotch coordination that is not common to multi-sport athletes. If done properly, it is a thing of beauty. But for The Frog neophyte, well.... let's just say there are certain triathletes who will no longer be able to make babies. If you are interested in learning the proper, USAT-sanctioned Frog technique, please feel free to contact Catherine. She is a certified Frog instructor.


The Jump
Certain people unfamiliar with wetsuit placement have confused The Frog and The Jump, assuming they are different parts of the same maneuver. They're not. Don't listen to those people.

The Jump is a very controversial method of putting on a wetsuit. Certain pundits have claimed that The Jump is not actually a technique but rather a "flair". One often cited study reports that "...[The] Jump, though widely accepted as a viable method for getting into a wetsuit, has been proven to have less than 3.86% effectiveness in decreasing Hogan's Air Displacement..." (In case you don't know, Hogan's Air Displacement is the amount of air - in cubic millimeters - that exists at any given time between one's wetsuit and one's skin. It was named after a Captain Hogan that was a prisoner of war in Germany and escaped by swimming 300 miles to England with nothing more than a Hefty trashbag and a package of rubber bands to keep himself warm. Hogan's Heroes was loosely based on him, though after the Glad bag lawsuit, the story line was changed and Captain Hogan died a poor, lonely man with nothing to his name but a lifetime supply of trashbags.)

The study continues, "...we can safely surmise that The Jump is nothing more than a self-serving technique that aids only in battles of ego and self-confidence. "

Arguments aside, I must believe that people find true value in executing The Jump. The technique is rather rudimentary and occurs in distinct sections of the wetsuit assembly process. Specifically, once the legs have been fully inserted into the suit and such suit has been firmly raised up around the hip region, the user slightly bends the legs (though not as deep as with The Frog) and, with hands grasping the edge of the suit, bounds off the ground while yanking the suit higher up the hips. The Jump can be executed between one and three times during any single wetsuit dressing. To qualify as a true Jump, one's feet may not leave the ground by more than 6 inches.

Flip flops are optional with The Jump; it is recommended that the user be aware of their terrain and use proper judgement accordingly. The Jump may also be combined with The Frog (though please only attempt this with sufficient experience and support).


The Leap
Unlike The Jump, there really isn't a lot of controversy about The Leap. Most everybody is in agreement that this method adds absolutely no actual value towards putting on a wetsuit. The Leap is just like The Jump, with the one exception being that the user bounds well over 6 inches from the ground. Leapers oftentimes jump for heights in excess of 1 foot. The Leap is usually only done one time in any single wetsuit dressing and is most often followed by the rolling of eyes from all nearby witnesses. You'll know you have just missed witnessing a Leap attempt when you hear bystanders muttering under their breath such words as "douchebag" and "blowhard".


The Tush
The Tush is a rare and dying technique, and perhaps one of the most difficult of all methods to put on a wetsuit. It is believed that The Tush was originated by surfers in Costa Rica, back before Costa Rica was a safe place for whitey. Somewhere in the 80s, The Tush became quite popular amongst the surfing community and even edged over into scuba diving for a few years in the early 90s. By the mid-90s, triathletes began to fiddle with The Tush method but it never really caught on.

The Tush technique entails performing the entire first two phases of wetsuit placement while sitting down on the ground (or, originally, on a surfboard). Though some articles have claimed that sitting on the trunk or bumper of a car still qualifies as The Tush method, the true connoisseur would disagree.

Putting on a wetsuit with The Tush technique is extremely difficult. Though getting the feet into the wetsuit is not overly challenging, moving the suit over the upper legs and onto the tush is a feat only reserved for the most experienced. Unfortunately, once you get your feet into your wetsuit, you're really at the point of no return with The Tush for standing up with a wetsuit around your ankles is a nearly impossible task.

I don't recommend you try The Tush without proper support and instruction. I've seen people try and, frankly, it gets ugly.


* * *

As far as I have been able to tell, those are all of the modern day wetsuit assembly techniques that are currently recognized by the KSAA (Kielbasa Stuffing Association of America, the national governing body for putting on a wetsuit). If you've heard of anything else, let me know.

I hope this has been helpful.