Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sorting Stuff

So, my kids don't listen to me.

I know what you're thinking, you're thinking that I'm not alone in this world of billions, where a good share of those billions are parents gone inaudible by their endearing chitlins.  Wow.  That was a sentence.  How 'bout I rewrite it with concision?  Okay.  Nobody's kids listen to them.  Well at least almost nobody.  I've got a nephew that has done nothing but listen to his parents.  A smart one, he is.  Currently a junior (or senior?) in college studying physics with one career A minus and planning a PhD.

See friends?  If you too had listened to your parents all of those years, you'd also be a physicist.

Here's where I'm different than most of the billions.  My kids actually hear me, they just choose not to listen.  The Yahoos do not listen to me because they think I'm dumb.  Already.  I thought the parents-r-dumb-eyes didn't get installed until puberty.  What's up with that? I can present some grand, fun-filled or time-saving idea, one that I jazz up with my vast array of cheerleading skills, and they will look at me with snarled lip, as if to say, "You are so dumb mom.  That idea is dumb."

Spouse, on the other hand? They think him a genius.

The truth is, those Yahoos have absolutely no idea who they are dealing with.  I'm much smarter than Spouse, for I am a genius at manipulating events and/or words so as to appear genius.  Sometimes I break the Playstation, so that they can run to me for fixing, thereby proving some smarts.  And just yesterday, I hooked 'em with some reverse psychology.  I threw the hand-out-candy-bucket on the kitchen table, and told them it was dinner.  "There will be no dinner tonight, so dig into the candy."  I received an immediate retort over that one.  "What?!  But we don't want candy for dinner!"  Totally worked, for they ate real food for dinner.  Without complaining.


Would you care for one of my dumb ideas?  One that's been shot down time and time again?

For years, we've rolled home from trick-er-treating.  And each year, I get all giddy 'n stuff as I explain to them the joy of sorting the loot.  Did you sort your loot as a kid?  I sorted my loot each and every year.  I have tried, for somewhere around five years, to show my kids the joys of sorting the loot.  That loot-sort has been shot down each of those five years.  (Prolly an exaggeration, but I've got a story to tell here.)

Something happened last night.  Maybe it was because they'd been punished-by-clean-the-entire-house for their complete lack of wanting to do anything.  Who knows.  But last night, I put on my metaphorical pom-poms and said, "Hey!  Let's sort your loot!" and they replied with an affirmative.

I kind of double-took that action.  What the?!  The Yahoos said okay without cajoling and conning, prodding and pleading?  They soaked up to my somewhat new idea without seduction, sweet-talk or stroking?  They humored my genius without deception and decoy, beguile and excessive banter?

We dumped out the candy and began the sort while the Pound Hound looked on, salivating.


Yahoo #2 chose to sort by color:


Yahoo #1 chose to sort by type:


It was definitely a flag-ship day in my fleeting flurry as a parent.  One for the books.  However, I think I ruined the moment when I suggested we Bubble Sort.  They both prolly know that the Bubble Sort is a sluggishly supine method of sorts.  Perhaps I should have suggested the Comb Sort, Merge, or Divide and Conquer?  Or maybe, since the candy was already sorted, we should have used a Smoothsort?

So all that sort stuff?  Yet again, more proof that I can manipulate words so as to appear more genius.



Friday, October 29, 2010

44,999 of My Closest Friends

In exactly eight days, and with 44,999 of my will closest friends, I will embark on the chaos of the New York Marathon.


Just look at all those people!

Does anyone have any New York advice?  It's more than welcome.  Tebbie has already instructed me to wear my Red Sox hat.  And yes, I have a Red Sox hat.  Well.  It's actually a visor, but it was purchased in Boston, so that counts right?


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shutter Speed and Gravity

Good evening boys and girls!  How are we all doing today?  Good?  Good!  That's so very good to hear.  I'm suffering from a cement pour in the chest, a brick in the nasal passage, and a space heater lodged in the brain.  Thanks so much for asking.

Today, boys and girls, we are going to learn about shutter speed and gravity.  Are you ready?  Hold on to your hats!  For it will be an exciting one.  I've even got some photos to demonstrate.

First lets talk about shutter speed.  A shutter is a little tiny door in a camera.  Whenever a photo is taken the shutter opens and closes, so as to let in the desired amount of light.  The longer that little shutter door is open, the more light is let in.  Another side effect of the shutter speed, is the crispness or blurriness of the subject.  When the camera opens the shutter, it takes in and captures everything, even the movement.  If the subject is moving at all, or if the person operating the camera is moving, the subject will blur.  This blur, however, can be counter-attacked by using a very quick shutter speed.  Quick shutter speeds will freeze whatever is in the frame and create an image of it.  (That is, if there's enough light, but we won't get into that right now.)

Shutter speeds are measured in seconds and fractions of sections.  For example, if your shutter speed is set to 1s, then the little door on the camera will be open for one second -- a long time in the camera world -- and will capture all movement during that entire second.  If the shutter is set to 1/1000s, then the little door on the camera will be held open for only one, one-thousandth of a second.  Quick, yeah?  Not a lot of movement can make it through 1/1000.  You can imagine, then, what happens when you set the shutter speed for 1/4000.  You could freeze-frame Superman as he flies around the world to reverse the everlasting doom of Lex Luther!  You could also capture the thigh epidermis of a 38-year-old-marathon-running-female as the centripetal acceleration of her foot pounding the downhill pavement forces that thigh skin to fold over the nether region of her knee cap.


Lovely, yes?  Now.  Someone else took this photo, so how did I know the shutter speed was quick?  It's simple, really.  Just look at the crispness of my sagging 38-year-old skin!  The proof is in my puddin-esque pelt, dripping like moltenous metal on the cool, frozen by a quick shutter speed for all time and infinity to admire.  I also bought the photo, and since I bought the photo, I have its complete metadata: ISO 200, f/3.5, 1/4000s.  (Here's another hint, the open-small-numbered fstop was revealed by the blurry guy in the background, but fstop is for another day.)

To compare and contrast, let's look at the photographer's next photo.  It has the same 1/4000s shutter speed, but the absence of above thunderclap of the road, and the foot of that saggy-skinned 38-year-old lady, leaves the skin nice and supply attached to where it should be.  Hence our lesson about gravity.  Quick shutter speeds are a-okay, until gravity gets involved.


To sell more photos, the photographer could decrease the shutter speed so as not to freeze unwanted skin flappage.  However, if you the decrease the shutter speed on a moving subject, the result could be blurry.  That, and, you might let too much light in and blow the image (that's another topic for another day -- blowing your images, which sounds like a fortuitous arrangement, but it's not.)

Next up, take a look at the following photo, in the which there are two things to note.  First, it's a tad blurry.  Without knowing the metadata for this image, one could concluded rather quickly that the shutter speed was not a quick one.  Moving subject, plenty of light, must mean the photographer used a small-large-numbered fstop, and slow shutter.

Actual metadata:  ISO 640, f/18.0, 1/320s

The second noteworthy mentionable of this photo is the positioning of the photographer.  Because of gravity, and gravity's stubborning refusal to be anything but gravitous (phouey on physics!), it is never all that flattering for the photographer to be low and looking up at the subject.  (This picture isn't so bad, however, prolly because it's a bit blurry.)  When the photographer is low and looking up, whatever is closest (usually the thighs) will appear larger.  And if you don't have a double-chin, having a photo taken from below will grow you one.  (The wideness of the lens, and the zoom of that lens has a great deal to do with the bigness factor, but that's yet another topic for another day.)  If possible, the photographer should get a bit of height so as to look down on subject instead of up.  As can be seen in this finishing photo:


Notice that the mashup of gravity and foot are in full-force.  Also note that the shutter is somewhat quick at 1/500s, but the photographer being above the subject doesn't exemplify the sagging of said skin.

Okay.  Now that we've covered the shutter speed and gravity basics, let me introduce you to the perfect marathon photo, the new photo for the wall, the photo that propelled me into purchasing the above over-priced images. (I had to buy one for something like 45 bucks or all 15 images for 70.)  This photo was taken at at mile 24.5ish of the The George.  The photographer was placed above the road somehow.  I was going too fast (har har) to see just how.  As I stepped onto that painted marathon red carpet, I heard a whistle, and an "up here!"  

I looked up and cheesed it.  As big as I could.


P.S. If you want an excellent demonstration on shutter speed, check out the waterfall photo(s) on wiki's shutter speed entry.


Tuesday Tune, vol 61 - October's Departed

Today is the last Tuesday in October.  The last Tuesday means I give you (via Vera or Vera via me) a Tuesday Tunes post that celebrates those who departed in October.  Not this October, mind you  Some other October, from another year.

Oh!  And look!  Only two overdoses this month.  October must be a "dryer" month, yes?

32 Feet And 8 Little Tails - Gene Autry (lymphoma)
Take Me Home, Country Roads - John Denver (plane crash)
Private Idaho - The B-52's (RIP Ricky Wilson, AIDS)
One Way Out - The Allman Brothers Band (RIP Duane Allman, motorcycle accident)
One Good Man - Janis Joplin (heroin overdose)
Soul One - Blind Melon (RIP Shannon Hoon, cocaine overdose)
King of the Road - Roger Miller (cancer)
Green Onions - Booker T. and The MG's (RIP Al Jackson Jr, murdered during home invasion)
Good Times Roll - The Cars (Benjamin Orr, cancer)
No Matter What - Badfinger (RIP Mike Gibbins, died in sleep at age 56)
Call Me the Breeze - Lynyrd Skynyrd (RIP Ronnie Van Zant, plane crash)
Between The Bars - Elliott Smith (suicide by self-inflicted stab wound)
Sixteen Tons - Tennessee Ernie Ford (liver disease)
Piano Concert n.1 in E minor, op 11 - Chopin (tuberculosis)

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson


There are two things I refuse to read about.  Rape and rape.  You might think that rape and rape are one and the same, but I profess that they are not.  Rape is what happens from read it from the raper's point of view and rape is what happens when read it from the rapee's point of view.  Either way, I do not want to read about it. Call me a prude, if you must, but I prefer my sexual encounters consensual -- in both my real world and my fake reading world.

So this Dragon Girl book is sneaky.  It starts out with the promise of a good corporate crime.  I like a good corporate crime solver every now 'n again.  Then out of nowhere, the Dragon Girl gets raped.  So I skip over the details and keep going, because it appears as if this book is about corporate crime.  'Sides, it's written in a good page-turning, suspenseful convention, and I want to see how it all unravels.

It turns out that this book is not about solving a corporate crime.  Towards the end, it's revealed that the whole book is about a serial kidnapper-rapist-murderer. The last few pages get rather graphic as the gory details are disclosed.  Now, the details may not be all that gory to you, but I have an imagination on a liquid drip of amphetamines.  I read words and I see bright pictures quickly.  Simple as that.

I'm totally disappointed in myself for finishing this book.  The good news, however, is the second book in Stieg Larsson's novels is not about rape, but about young girls sold into prostitution.  Now isn't that delightfully uplifting?  I won't be reading that one.  Wish I could add an "either" declaration to that.

On a positive note, the novel is based in Sweden, with Swedish-named people and cities.  So each time a Swedish city was referenced, or Swedish name was dropped, I thought about that beloved Swedish Chef from the Muppets.  Get a load of the Chef making some Turtle Soup:

Mocking Jay

Mocking Jay
by Suzanne Collins


This Mocking Jay tale is the grand finale of Ms. Collinseses Hunger Games series.  I read The Hunger Games and thought it a good read.  Then I read Catching Fire, in the which I became bored by it's predictability, and hollered an ixnay on the finishing novel, the one that hadn't been released yet.  I wasn't about to buy myself a copy, or put myself on the thousand-person list at the library, so reading this Mocking Jay wasn't a high priority.  As luck would have it, the entire neighborhood, and half the state, bought themselves a copy of this Mocking Jay book.  And all of that neighborhood, and half of that state, finished the book within days of its release.  This means that half of my neighborhood, and half of the state, had an already-read copy of Mocking Jay just a-waiting for me to borrow.  I could have borrowed twelve.  Serious.

Anyway, I'm very glad I read this book.  I got a decent kick out of it.  I also enjoyed that there were some surprises, and that the ending wasn't one of those happily-ever-afters.

Thumbs up!

(By the way, it's catch-up-on-book-reports week, so stay tuned for at least one more.)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Haj

The Haj
by Leon Uris


I like historical fiction.  I'm not one for historical facts by themselves.  I like stories assigned to history, so if the historical facts have a good story, or if the history is written in a story-telling type fashion, then I like to read history.  Being as most history books are written in a this-happened-then-that-happened-meanwhile-something-else-happened-but-wow-look-at-this-map fashion, I didn't (and prolly still don't) appreciate history.  I was down-right disgusted by collegiate history, wherein I was stuffed into a class of 200, and forced to hear the monotonous drone of some history shmuck.  I'm sure there are some great history teachers out there.  I'm sure.  I just wasn't granted the pleasured opportunity of being the pupil of one.  The boringness of this-happened-then-that-happened-meanwhile-something-else-happened-but-wow-look-at-this-map is what led me to discover the bonus of historical fiction:  You learn some historical facts PLUS you get a story.  Win-freakin-win.

Now.  I've read some historical fiction in my days.  And I'm here to adjure, that no one, not a single historical fiction writer extraordinaire, at least in my miniature experience with historical fiction, writes the historical fiction better than Leon Uris.  I'll be reading more of 'ole Leon (rhymes with Klingon!)

Whenever I discover a book that screams wow! -- it's true, you open it and it screams wow! -- I immediately turn to the internet so as to research the author.  I'm intrigued by an author's background -- where they came from, the time-period of their existence, their education, and all of the ity-bity gee-whizeries that make them who they are.

This is Uris in his younger days.


Leon Uris was born in Baltimore, Maryland in August of 1924.  His father, a man named Wolf William Yerushalmi, was Jewish and born in Poland.  He spent a year in Palestine after World War I, then immigrated to the United States where he dropped his Yerushalmi last name and adopted Uris.  Wolf William Uris married an American named Anna and raised a chap named Leon.

Apparently Leon Uris was a writer from a very young age.  He wrote a full-fledged operetta at the age of six after his dog died.  According to Wikipedia, Leon Uris failed English three times, and never graduated from high school.  The attack on Pearl Harbor inspired Uris to subject himself to the war as a Marine and was stationed in the South Pacific as a radioman.  Somewhere along the way, he contacted malaria, and was forced to sit about recovering.  That's where he met a Marine sergeant by the name of Betty Beck.  They were married.  He would have two more wives, and five children.

After the war, Uris wrote war-related articles and whatnot for a newspaper.  Esquire magazine picked up one of those articles, and that was when he decided to be a writer.  (I suppose.  I'm taking some interpretive liberty on the decisions Leon made.)

In the 50s, Uris was contracted to spend a fair amount of time in Israel to learn about the culture and write about it.  That cultural observation became a novel called Exodus.  (The next of his books that I plan to read.)  From that point, Uris would devote many years in Israel and the surrounding regions researching the past and conflicts of that past.

So that's Leon (rhymes with Klingon!), now onto The Haj.  The Haj is the fictional story of a Palestinian Arab family from around 1920-1950, set amongst the historically accurate chaos of the Middle East during and after World Wars I and II.  This book brings light to the struggle of Arabs and Jews over what each referred to as their "Holy Land."  The Arabs have reserved that area as their land for thousands of years.  The Jews, on the other hand, struggling from the backlash of Hitler's apocalyptic fury, had no where else to go, so the Brits sent the Jews to Palestine. Traditionally, the two groups have hated each other.  My interpretation is that the Arabs were consumed by this ingrained hate for the Jews while the Jews only hate on the defense.  Traditionally, they'll continue to hate each other, because, like, duh, after thousands of hating years, that's what you are trained to do.

The main character in the book, a village Tabah nicknamed Haj -- because of his gallant pilgrimage to Mecca -- meets, befriends, and works side-by-side with the leader of the neighboring Jewish community.  This Jewish leader is named Gideon Asch.  The two form a friendship, one of trust and mutual respect.  The Haj's culture, however, will not let him entertain, much less follow through with, the notion of working with and befriending a Jew.

It's a tragic story, no doubt.  But one that exposes the background of each religious culture, in an effort to help us understand why it is they do what they do, and perhaps why they continue to do what they do.

I read/look at The Big Picture.  Do you read the Big Picture?  It's one of my favorites.  Throughout the last few months, they've dedicated a post a month to photos of the conflict in Afghanistan.  On one of those posts, someone left a comment.  I just spent like ten minutes trying to find which post the comment was on, but gave up.  Anyway, the comment was along the lines of:  The only solution is for the world to ban religion altogether.

I don't post comments on articles like this, because I'm not about to get involved in a pissing contest with strangers.  However, if I were to leave a comment, I'd say:

How do you expect the world to ban religion without a war?  The only solution is for the world to quit thinking there is a solution. 

No religion, some religion -- it makes no difference.  Most parts of the world (US included) are culturally locked into our differences.  And most will fight to make sure we stay different.

Just my two cents, anyway.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Hundred Thousand Dollar Day

Periodically, Spouse and I have these what-if type conversations where we dream big.  Last week we had one of those conversations.  It started with me.  "What if I was offered $450,000 a year to go back to work full-time."  

Spouse continued that dream with, "I'd stay home and take care of things."

I'll bet he would.  He'd stay home to cook, clean, launder, and lunch.  At least that might be what he'd call whatever it is he would do all day.  We all know he'd spend his hours in front of the computer, chatting with friends, updating his facebook status, and writing on his dumb blog.  Prolly eat bon-bons and watch soap operas too.  Of all the nerve!  I'm already mad at him.  Lazy bones Jones!

The next day I walked the boys to school.  I walk the boys to school most days.  Do they need me there for safety and whatnot?  Not exactly.  But I need to be there for me.  I need to be there to watch their antics, listen to their dialogue, and dodge their imaginary weapons.  I need to be there to observe their little legs and arms, their bright eyes and smiles.  Each day, those legs, arms, eyes and smiles get bigger.  And when they get bigger, they become not as cute.  And more annoying.  (Kidding.  It was getting sappy.  Had to dilute the sap with some sarcasm.)

Truth is, the days I get with the Yahoos are limited.  Before I know it they'll be gone 'n married to some two-bit hussy. (Kidding again.  Getting sappy again and had to dilute the sap with more sarcasm again.)  Lately, as I spend time doing much of nothing with my sweet boys, I note the importance of that nothingness, and cherish it fully.  That is, until one of them loses their shoes, and I start looking for a suitable two-bit hussy -- don't get me started on my issues with shoes.

After walking the Yahoos to school, I returned home to load up my biking gear.  Hillene was coming to get me for one of our rides in the which we spend lots of time going only a few miles.  It's mostly because I'm slow, but I'm going to blame it on the fact that we yak a lot.  A lot.  We call these rides, dates.  Usually, they have a date-dance name associated with it.  Like our last date ride was named Preference.  I even brought her a corsage.  I think Sadie Hawkins is up next.  After that?  Junior Freakin' Prom.  Can't wait!  I never made it to Junior Freakin' Prom.

Speaking of Hillene, did you know she makes me awesome by awesmosis?  It's true.  I tell people I mountain bike with Hillene, and they generally get all wild-eyed and submissive because the fact that I bike with Hillene makes me awesome.  Truth be told, she outdoes me on twelve different levels, and I cannot keep up.  This is the honest truth -- I ain't pulling a humble card on you all.  If I were awesome at this biking business, I'd most assuredly brag to you about it just like I brag about my itunes library. (Which is up four tunes today, thank you very much.  It also means I'm out almost five bucks, but oh well.)

Anyway, Hillene and I went up a Hollow called Hog, then down a Hollow called Canyon, up a trail called Clarks, then back down the Hollow called Hog.  It was a great time.  I mean, a really great time. As usual, we started some deep, planet-saving conversation, one that cannot be facilitated in the perpetual motion of bicycling and must be kindled face to face.  During one of our frequent yak-stops, I brought up the "what if I was offered $450,000 to go back to work full-time" scenario.  (Hillene and I play what-if too.) Hillene chimed in with a, "If you went back to work, we couldn't have these dates."

It's true.  Some of my days are worth at least $100,000 each.  That date with Hillene especially.





See?  I tole you I got her a corsage.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday Tune, vol 60 - Bugs

Do any of you wonder why I go to great lengths for this Tuesday Tune stuff?  Anyone?  Anyone?  It's simple, really.  If a collected library of songs happens to contain as many songs as mine, say 10,411 (as of today), then one must get creative about listening to stuff that hasn't been listened to in a while.  That's why I create playlists based on themes.  I listen to these playlists often.  Today's playlist was listened to twice already.

Am I bragging about my 10,411-tune library?  Heck yeah I'm bragging about my 10,411-tune library.  Vera's library is bigger though, by, like, 3000 songs.  I've learned that no matter how hard I try, I can never keep up with Vera and her library.

Anyway.  Today's Tuesday Tunes are about bugs.  I have these neighbors who live two houses up and on the same side.  They have this daughter, who I'll call The Caboose.  I call her the Caboose for two reasons.  First, she's The Caboose in their family, as in she's the baby, the last one at home.  I also call her The Caboose because her real name actually means "caboose."  I ain't lyin, that there is a fact.  (Caboose, also means "buggy," which is way cool.  And weird.  And funny.  You'll tune into why in a minute.)

The Caboose is a senior in high school, and is currently enrolled in some advanced placement course that requires she collect 75 bugs.  Seventy-five bugs!  I don't care who, or how old, or what advanced placement course you're in -- that's a lot of bugs!  A little over a week ago, The Caboose did broadcast rather loudly that she needed a little help collecting her 75 bugs -- said she'd appreciate anyone catching a bug or two and sending it her way.

I'm a neighborly kind of gal, and did proceed to acquiesce her request by keeping my bug-eyes open for any and all bugs.  I found exactly one Katy Did and exactly one Grasshopper.  I caught those bugs, put 'em in a container, and left them on The Caboose's porch.  Still alive, however.  I didn't have the heart to murder them.  The Caboose would have to do the killin' by placing them in the freezer.

The Caboose and family were away on vacay when I did deposit my scientific findings on their porch.  They returned a few days later and sent an e-mail to the hood asking which fine neighborhood individual left the bugs.  I responded almost immediately, because, like, duh, I take credit for all of my good deeds.  Bugs included.  And it's a good thing I did herald my ownership of this humanitarian enterprise because The Caboose showed up later with cookies.  Bug cookies.

Have I told you lately that I love my hood?  No?  Well, let me tell you.  I LOVE MY HOOD.



The Grasshopper Unit (Keep Movin') - Beastie Boys
Jump Around - House of Pain
Junebug - Robert Francis
Butterfly - Jason Mraz
Killing Me Softly - The Fugees
Catch Hell Blues - The White Stripes
Dying - Hole
Under Your Skin - Luscious Jackson
The Bug - Dire Straits
Katy Too - Johnny Cash
Bullet With Butterfly Wings - Smashing Pumpkins
The Beekeeper - Tori Amos
Catch Me If You Can - Outasight
It's Tricky - The Bloodhound Gang
Junebug - Len
Oh! You Pretty Things - David Bowie
Sweet The Sting - Tori Amos
Another One Bites The Dust - Queen
Going Going, Gone -  Posies
Bedbugs and Ballyhoo - Echo and the Bunnymen
The Fly - U2
Dog and Butterfly - Heart
Catch - The Cure
Legs - ZZ Top
Freeze-Frame - The J. Geils Band
Weird Science - Oingo Boingo

And from you guys...

Insects - Oingo Boingo
Butterfly - Weezer
Got You Where I Want You - The Flys
She Blinded Me With Science - Thomas Dolby
The Ugly Bug Ball - By not sure who...


Monday, October 18, 2010

Pete and Repeat

Today, the season is fall, which means the next season is winter.  Don't you love it when I tell you something you already know?  Just call me your friendly-neighborhood repeater.  Tune in next time when I repeat where babies come from.  Kidding.  Or not.

Fall is a crucial season for it's a season of preparation.  Our fore-fathers (and mothers, don't forget the mothers) spent most of their autumns repeating the joy of a labor-intensive summer by harvesting hay, preserving produce, and collecting a cache of their hard-earned crops.  Fall is the season for safeguarding.  It is the time our fore-fathers (and mothers, don't forget the mothers) governed their resources in an attempt to protect and steward their families from the harsh realities of winter.  Hoarding supplies and securing a shelter -- to trump whatever card Mr. Winter might deal -- wasn't a matter of comfort, it was necessary element of survival.  Our fore-fathers (and mothers, don't forget the mothers) repeated this routine, year after grueling year.

Being as we new-age fathers (and mothers, don't forget the mothers) no longer need burden ourselves with the petty processing of the harvest and preservation (thanks to Wal-Mart et al.), we must find other Herculean, life-saving tasks to fill that vast amount of free time we have in the fall.  My little family is no exception to this ritualistic repeating of fall fossorials.  We must supply, secure and steward our family from the harsh realities of winter.  We must plan, arrange, and govern our resources.

Nowadays, our winters are synonymous with recreating in a fashion whereby we attach ourselves to boards and slide down mountains.   Repeatedly.  Most people refer to this form of recreation as skiing (maybe you've heard of it?)  This winter ski tradition is in my family's 11th repeating season and my Herculean life-saving fall is spent preparing for it.

At first glance, you might think my little existence is a trite one, what with comparing the winter months of the early 1800s to our season of skiing.  However, that thing called Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) is a real situation, one that can be cured rather nicely by a season of sliding down a mountain with boards attached.  Repeatedly.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

10/10/10 Recap

On the Wednesday before 10/10/10, my dad and I were discussing our plans for the upcoming weekend.  I told him we had grand plans for all things ten on the date of 10/10/10.  He clapped his hands loudly -- which he does often and for all hundred years of my life -- then yelled "Eight, eight, eighty-eight!  I remember eight, eighty-eight! Do you remember eight, eight, eighty-eight?  They sent me home from work on eight, eight, eighty-eight for being obnoxious."  

And now you know where I get it.

How was your 10/10/10?  Eventful?  Fun?  Just another day?  This last October 10, 2010 was more than just an ordinary day for us for it was 10/10/10.  The grand poombah highlight of this 10/10/10 was a special package I received two days prior.  On this package, it said, "To be opened on Sunday (the 10th.")  Now.  I don't always do what I'm told.  Most of the time I do exactly the opposite of what I'm told.  I'm a royal pain that way.  Packages, however, are the exception to this.  Ever since the Unibomber, I always do what it says on packages.  It just seams safer that way.

And so at 10:10am on 10/10/10, I opened this package.  I wasn't going to brag about this package because I didn't want you all to get jealous.  I didn't want you all green with envy because you didn't get a package too.  But being as she posted it herself on her blog, I decided to holler it out to you masses.

Megan, or Sparks, of sent me ten items, each with a special note, handwritten in her unique and sparkly griffonage.  First came the card, wrapped all shiny-like in "ten"foil, then came a clock set to ten, ten Sharpies in ten different colors, Phase 10, ten-ounces of Grey Poupon (with Horseradish, addressed specifically to Madame Mustard), ten pumpkin lights on a string, 10 Things I Hate About You on DVD, Rachel Ray's Book of 10, a ten-ounce candle that smells of all things rabid, and a jar of SPF 10.  Last but not least, she sent a bag of Riesens, with an affectionately attached note titled: "10 Riesens I Like You."

One of Megan's documented likables was, "You like me for me."

'Tis true, Megan darling.  I like you for you.  And I thank you.



Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuesday Tunes, vol 59 - Crawl

On Sunday, the whole family (Spouse, me, Yahoos) were sitting in church waiting for the festivities to begin.  We're on-time-is-five-minutes-early kind of people, so we do a fair share of waiting.  This is where I feel a tangent coming on, a tangent wherein I tell you all about how being on time shows respect and priority.  If you want to show respect and priority, fer cryin' out loud, arrive five minutes early.  Or at least on time.  There's also that Beat-The-Filthy-Nelsons game we've had going on for somewhere around a year, so now when we're "on" and "in competition shape" we arrive more than five minutes early so as to beat those Filthy Nelsons.

Anyway, we had many visitors on this Sunday, last.  One group of visitors was an elderly woman who arrived pushing her sweet husband in a wheel chair.  Spouse admired their little situation then whispered to me, "Will you push me around in a wheel chair when I can't walk?"

Um, HULLO?!  "I've already done that, dear."  He replied with an, "Oh yeah."

Seems Spouse forgot about his four-to-six months in the chair.  Figured he'd need a reminder.  I say it's four-to-six months, because it was four months full-time, then two more months part-time.  We had to wean him off the chair, so to speak.


Somehow, someway, while skiing, the Spouse managed to end up with two crushed calcaneuses, or with a "bilateral calcaneus fracture" as the medical people refer to it. You prolly might want to call it a couple of crushed heel bones.  You might also be rolling your eye balls now, with, "Oh here she goes again.  She's always talking about that year that Spouse wrecked his feet."  Yes, I do talk about that year often.  It was a memorable year, one with a significant impact on how we do things around here, so naturally I feel the need to rattle my gums on-and-on about it.

Although Spouse spent four-to-six in the chair, he was somewhat lucky for he could crawl on his hands and knees.  This is quite handy (and knee-ey har har), you see, for a wheel chair does not fit in any of our bathrooms.  Wheel chairs also have a considerable amount of travel limitations.  When Spouse got himself into a situation that wasn't copacetic with Mr. Wheel Chair, he'd drop out of that chair onto hands and padded knees, then do precisely what he wanted.  He was so resourceful that way.

As a result we have some great crawling stories.  One afternoon, the four of us decided to go to a movie. So we packed the Yahoos, Spouse, and chair into the car and headed to the theater.  When we rolled into the room where the movie plays, I pushed him into the handicapped seating area, which happened to be too low for neck comfort.  Spouse said, "I don't want to sit here," then dropped onto hands 'n knees, and proceeded to crawl six rows up and over to the middle.  The theater was about half-full of movie-goers who were all staring at this poor guy crawl up the stairs and over.  No one knew how to react.  The theater went from the chomp-chomp-chomp of popcorn to a collective "gasp."   We share a good giggle over this often.


On another occasion, Vera was out of town and I was responsible for feeding her dog.  I was out running various errands one day and realized that I was about to miss the assigned feeding time.  So I phoned Spouse.  "Will you roll up and feed Zigggy for me?"  He said sure and rolled up.  Now days, or even back in the glory days, most people do not have wheel chair ramps.  This includes Vera.  Spouse rolled around to the back and crawled into the house.  While he was in there crawling around, attending to their beloved beastie, Vera's daughter (who doesn't live there) came in with a friend.  And what did Vera's daughter and friend see?  Some strange guy crawling around their house like a burglar.

And then there was Knopfler.  Before the accident, I had secured us some spectacular seats at a Mark Knopfler gig.  Our seats were row four, center, in a place called Abravanel Hall.  Abravanel Hall is fancy.  It's where the Utah Symphony lives.  Oh! Speaking of the Utah Symphony and Abravanel Hall, my sister is singing some Romeo and Juliet with them the first weekend in November.  (Um, yeah, that's a big deal, just in case you can't see the big in that deal.) Anyway, we were late to this Knopfler show, and most everyone was in their seats.  The usher asked us if we wanted to sit in the handicapped section, to which I replied a "hell no." I wasn't about to give up my coveted front 'n center with Mark because of a measly bunch of crushed bones.  So what do I demand that Spouse do?  Crawl.  All the way to the middle.  There were gasps at this one too.

My favorite crawl story, hands and knees down (har har), is that time I left Spouse home alone and came back to him mowing the lawn.  Oh and wouldn't you know?  I have video.

By the way, it's Tuesday so today's Tuesday Tunes are about hands, knees and crawling:

Hospital Bed Crawl - The Hush Sound
Hands Clean- Alanis Morissette
Don't Let Your Feet Touch Ground - Ash Koley
Down On My Knees - Bread
Join Hands - The Cult
Twist And Crawl - The English Beat
Two Hands - Jars Of Clay
I'm Gonna Crawl - Led Zeppelin
One Foot Boy - Mika
Wounded Knee - Primus
Hands - The Raconteurs
LowDown - Tom Waits


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy 10/10/10!

Today is a special day for it is 10/10/10. Now go on out and find some odd way to celebrate!  We're not sure what we're going to do yet.  Prolly introduce Bo Derek and her lovely braids to the Yahoos with that movie "10."

No quirky celebration is complete without a playlist, so without further ado, I submit to you, the Ten Playlist.

10 X 10 - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
My Only Swerving - El Ten Eleven
Ten Years Gone - Led Zeppelin
Tennessee Waltz - Les Paul and Mary Ford
Ten Men - Morcheeba
Force Ten - Rush
(That one is funny, make sure you listen to this one.  It's 10 seconds!)
Ten Miles Back - The Crystal Method
Tenderoni - Kele
One Day - Matisyahu featuring Nameless
This Month, Day 10 - Cansei de Ser Sexy
10 Dollar - M.I.A.
Shosholoza 2010 - Ternielle Nelson, Jason Harman, UJU, Louise Carver, Aya & Deep Level
Ten Thousand Words - The Avett Brothers
Ten Million Slaves - Otis Taylor
Frgt/10 - Linkin Park
Tenderness - General Public
Robots - Flight of the Conchords

*Pssst!  Notice the post time!


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Fast Eddie and Positive Enablers

Cross Country Coaches are like rock stars to me.  It should be a dead-giveaway because, like, duh, Cross Country Coach is a triple alliteration.  A tripleration.  One such Cross Country Coach with rock star status, is the one, the only, the outstanding, Ed Eyestone.*

Oh and would you lookey there?  Ed Eyestone?   That dude is a Cross Country Rock Star made in heaven.  Or at least came from heaven, but his parents naming him with a double E, made him such.  Mr. Eyestone's resume goes like this: 1988 and 1992 U.S. Olympic Team Marathon (2 FREAKING TIMES); 10 time All-American at BYU (10 FREAKING TIMES!); 4 time NCAA champion, cross country, 5000 meters and twice at 10,000 meters (4 FREAKING TIMES!); 6 time U.S. road racer of the year (6 FREAKING TIMES!); Columnist for Runner’s World magazine, 1999-current (at 12 issues a year, THAT'S 110 FREAKING TIMES!); Television Commentator for Distance events including NBC at 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing; Head Men’s Cross Country and Distance Coach at BYU, 2000-current (10 FREAKING YEARS!)

See, I told you he was a rock star.  The proof is in the resume.  But did you all know that Spouse ran Cross Country with the one, the only, the outstanding, Edward Eyestone?  It's true.  At the BYU.  More than once, Spouse has told me the story about that one time, when he went running with Ed Eyestone.  It goes something like this, "Did I ever tell you about the time I went running with Ed Eyestone?  Yeah, well, it only lasted a few miles."  Back then Spouse could run a four-minute mile on a track, so if my fast Spouse couldn't keep up with Eyestone, then well, that just proves he was (and still is) one Fast Eddie.

At The George this last weekend, Ed Eyestone was invited to be the event's main keynote speaker.  I told Spouse that we were going to go and see what Ed has to say.  Sometimes I get to tell Spouse what's about to happen, like this time.  Other times, not so, 'cause he has serious issues with being told what to do, we're the same that way.

The last couple of years, we've had the pleasure of meeting up with one of Spouse's College Cross Country Cronies (quadteration?) Any time these two are together, they turn into a couple of 17-year-old post-pubecents.  They giggle, talk like cartoon characters, and say things only 17-year-olds would think entertaining.  The Cronie has a famous dad (because he locks up famous people) and he also has one of the hottest wives on the planet.  Serious.  Hot Wife runs The George each year.  Note that the Cross Country alumni is not running The George, but the wives are.  As luck would have it, the Cronie was able to attend Ed Eyestone's keynote address with us.



I'm sure you're all dying to hear what Ed had to say, right?  Dying and biting yer nails in anticipation, over what the great running god of all things norse had to say.  To tabulate his remarks, he basically told us all to, "Run like a horse."  Hah!  That is easy to do if you happen to be Ed Eyestone!  Not so much if your name is the RabidRunner.

So why "Run like a horse?"  Mr. Eyestone says it's because horses run through pain and fatigue.  They will run until they fall over dead.  Eyestone even did that once -- he ran 'til he fell over.  As a freshman, Ed qualified for Nationals, which were held in the summer of a hot and saucy Austin, Texas.  During a 10k race -- one he calls exciting because of its 25 laps of "controlled fury" -- Eyestone ran so hard he passed out 600m from the finish, then woke up in an ice bath.  Mr. Ed knows how to run like a horse.

Ed told us all to run like horses -- but without the falling over part.

This Ed Eyestone person is quite a humble guy.  He doesn't have a and he doesn't appear to be building an empire of any kind (unlike me and my  He's just a talented, hard-working dude with an intense love of running.

Speaking of humility, Eyestone opened his speech by paying tribute to our athletic supporters.  He mentioned that all of us were here to run a race made possible by the people who support us.  He refers to those supporters as enablers -- positive enablers -- and counseled all of us to thank our positive enablers.

I have lots of positive enablers.  I have friends and family who phone with words of encouragement, hop over for kickin' it calf massages, gift balloons and songs, watch the Yahoos, console when things don't go quite as planned, and celebrate when they do.  I have lots of positive enablers.  And I thank you all.

The most positive of all my many enablers, is none other than my beloved Spouse.  He stays at home most mornings so that I can train, offers encouraging words, pitches in to help when the mileage is high, and tucks me in early at night to get that much needed rest.  He's also been known to do some subliminal stuff while I sleep, by coaching my various body parts with, "Your legs are number one.  Your lungs are number one.  Your feet are number one.  Your heart is number one."  Dearest, belovedest, smartest, most cherishest Spouse, I thank you.

Now without further ado, I must present you all with the latest addition of my many fotos with the famous:

That's me with the Handsomest, Fastest, and Tallest 
of all BYU's Cross Country alumni.

*Did you know there was such a thing as  Good grief where does wiki end.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Tuesday Tune, vol 58 - I Think We're Alone Now

I'm a lover of music. I think it's safe to say that I love all types of music. Historically, I've had the opinion that there isn't a song bad enough to keep out of my library, which might mean there's some pretty bad songs in my library.  For one reason or another, whether it be the tune's cheese factor, or it's attachment to memories, those bad songs are worth having.

Thanks to The Winder, I've found a song that I absolutely, unequivocally refuse to put in my library.  That song is I Think We're Alone Now - Tiffany.  That poor girl Tiffany.  I feel all sorts of bad for her, don't you?  I'm all for that 15 minutes of fame business, except I wouldn't want to do what Tiffany had to do to get my 15 minutes of fame.  I'd rather a video of me barfing go viral.  (That was way rude, wasn't it?  I'm still wishing I had that barf video -- I'm not comparing Tiffiny to barfing.)

So how did The Winder manage to bring this little tidbit of info to light?  Let me tell you!  For the last eleven years, since I've known The Winder, she has phoned me the night before each of my marathons.  And during each of those phone calls, she's managed to construct new lyrics along the lines of  "go Rabid run," to various songs that are popular, or not-so-popular.  At first I answered the phone.  But now I don't so as she can leave her song as a message.  That way I can listen to her fine creation for all time and infinity.

This year, it was the following lyrics to the tune of Tiffany's I Think We're Alone Now:

Rabid relax
That's my advice for you tomorrow.
And what else can I say?
Have fun while you are running.
Running just as fast as you can,
Pretending you are holding Spouse's hand.
Tryin' to beat your record,
Then you run so fast and run so fast
and finish at the li-ne
Then you say, I got my personal best,
It was lots of fun this time a-round.

I'm still not going to put this song in my library.  For the first time in the duration of the Tuesday Tune, you get a tune I don't own.  Or plan to own.  I also thought about giving you The Winder's version of this song, but couldn't because she uses my real name.  Smart thinkin' Winder.  If I had more time, I'd edit the sucker and share.  It's fantastic.


Monday, October 04, 2010

The George

Today I'm wallowing about in the hangover of my 15th marathon, the St. George Marathon.  I call it The George for short.  Although The St. George Marathon is long -- 26.2 miles to be precise -- I like to shorten it a bit by just calling it The George.  That 26.2-mile reference was for all you folks who aren't sure how long the St. George Marathon is.  Here's another hint:  All marathons are 26.2 miles long.  Unless of course you have a marathon with the word half in front of it -- a half marathon if you will -- then it should be exactly half of 26.2, which is 13.1.  Miles.

The George of 2010 was a fine race.  I'd like to give some extra special thanks to Mr. Sunshine, who made a fabulous showing of 95 degrees.  Except it wasn't 95 when I finished, it was a brisk and burly 88.  Irregardless of the heat, I loved it.  All 3 hours and 19 minutes.  (There were a few some-odd 28 seconds but who's counting that?)

On Thursday, we traveled to St. George, checked in, watched a movie and fell asleep.  The kids now think the "hide-a-bed" is the most novel and ingenious concepts to date.


We slept in and I went out for the Friday ritual of three miles.


We had breakfast and went to the expo.



At the expo, you first look up your bib number, then retrieve your assigned bib.  I'm including this photo of me checking in as "elite" because my performance this year (or lack thereof) may have kicked me out of the elite bucket.  Elite is way cool, because you get your own holding tank with your own porta-potties at the start.  This means no waiting in line to use the loo.



Then I started to tear up a bit 'cause it's pretty dang cool that I have a body that can do this kind of stuff. Repeatedly.

We returned home to swim and prepare dinner. The Olympic Hopedful joined us with a loaf of Czech bread. It looked quite gourmet and tasted gourmet too. (I call her the Olympic Hopedful because she qualified for the Olympic Trials in 2004, but didn't actually go to the Olympics. Hence the Hoped in Hopedful.)  We were also joined by the Yahoos' piano teacher extraordinaire and her fine husband.


We all slept. At 12:49am, someone sent me a pornographic text message -- one with a proposition. I showed it to Spouse, who wasn't wearing his specs, and he mumbled something about how nice it was that "someone wished you good luck!" No, dear. Rhymes with luck. Not luck. Totally creeped me out, however, and I couldn't go back to sleep. It was an unknown area code, so my mind began to race... Does someone know me and I don't know them? Are they going to stalk me? Will I have to change my number? My mind tends to race like mad the day before a race. A weird text message didn't help.

At 4:45, Spouse drove the Olympic Hopedful and I to the race. Notice I'm wearing the traditional coat. I always wear that coat. Even if it's 69 degrees outside, which is what it was that morning.  Also notice the traditional two thumbs up.


I started the race wearing arm-warmers and gloves. I was in complete denial over this one. I thought if I wear stuff that is needed when it's colder, maybe it will be colder. Hah!  Was I funny or what? The starting temperature was 57. Not a good sign.

I ran a good solid 17 miles with mega energy left in the tanks. At mile 17-ish, the course comes out of a place called Snow Canyon and right into the jaws of Mr. Sun. From then on, it was hold on for dear life and get as much water as possible.

While I raced, the boys waited. Their traditional spot is around a half-mile from the finish. Yahoo #2 broke is glasses while wrestling Yahoo #1.


I finished and was mauled by Tebbie.  I like being mauled by Tebbie.  She can maul me any time.  We had a popsicle and a photo.  Incidentally, Tebbie was my success story for the day for I gave her strict dietary instructions.  I told her to stay away from any carbs with fiber for two days prior to the race.  This kept Tebbie on the road and out of the porta-potties.  Yeah, Rabid!  Really, it's Yeah, Tebbie 'cause she smoked it!  Yeah Tebbie!


Meanwhile, back with the boys, they drew plans to build stuff.  On graph paper.  Trust Spouse to have graph paper on hand.


Not feeling so great, I ventured on to find the family in our designated meeting spot.  I laid there for a while, then stood up only to toss the contents of my gut -- four Powerbar gels, one Gatorade, and two popsicles -- into a garbage can, in front of thousands of people.  Spouse said he was going to video the tossing, but decided against it.  I wish he would have, 'cause then you'd all get to see it right here!


With an empty stomach, I was ready to party again.  Or at least stage some photo ops:  One with Spouse and Yahoos, one with Tina.  Tina and I plan to run the NY together in four weeks.  I've decided that a good upchuck should be part of my post-race party from now on.  I felt fantastic!



Was the day over then?  Heavens no!  We were just getting started.  We went back to our place of positioning.  Spouse took a nap (kid wrestling can be more difficult than marathon running, you know) while I fixed the Yahoo's glasses and made biscuits for the BBQ that evening.  We attended the BBQ with some very fun friends and some very fun kids.  I reminded our fun friends often that I "ran a marathon AND made biscuits" that day.

I'm something else, aren't I?  Yes-sir-eee.  A marathon and biscuits all in one day.



p.s. The biscuits were a cheddar, green onion, buttery, sour creamy concoction.  Perhaps they'll make it into a Rabid Cooking post.  Perhaps.  


Friday, October 01, 2010

Shmear Socks

I have a thing for socks.  I like socks that are loud and colorful.  I like socks that say "wow."  I like geometric shapes and stripes, stars and flowers, hearts and dots, skulls and tie-die.  I like socks that are long and to the knee or just above the ankle.  I have a things for socks.

It shouldn't come as a surprise, then, to know that I have a special pair of socks for each special occasion.  Christmas, New Years, Halloween, April Fools Day, Columbus Day, Flag Day -- I have socks for many special occasions.

One such occasion, worthy of its own pair of socks, is the Pap Shmear.  I call it the Shmear, because it sounds more like a I'm going for a bagel with my favorite spread as opposed to being the actual spread.

The Pap Shmear is a special occasion, yes?  Once a year, we women folk have the pleasure and opportunity to Spread for a Shmear.  Sometimes you get other stuff, but the Spread and the Shmear are the main event.  I have special Shmear Socks.  They come out once a year (or every 18 months, oops!)  When I wake on Shmear Day, instead of groaning that, "Oh no!  It's Shmear Day," I exclaim, "Oh yes!  It's Shmear Day.  I get to wear my Shmear Socks."

I'm beginning to think this Shmear Sock strategy is my greatest scheme to date, for it gives you and the doc something to talk about besides your what's-it.  

Maybe next year I'll find some socks with uteruses (prounounced ute-tres-es) on 'em.  Now that would be rad.

P.S.  This post brought to you by the Santa Clara Library.  I had 43 minutes left on my paid-for-internet-minutes and had time to kill.  I have 34 minutes left.  Maybe you'll get another post?  Or maybe I should proof-read this one.  I'll proof-read.