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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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?


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.