Monday, April 30, 2007

Lyric Appreciation

There's a word in Spanish, I don't understand
But I heard it in a film one time
spoken by the leading man

He said it with devotion, he sounded so sincere
And the word he spoke in Spanish brought the female lead to tears

-- Elton John

(ed: this is total cheese but of the finest variety. We can only hope to write anything half as good as this.)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Times Have Changed

Wired magazine recently showed the state-of-the-art in sewing machines, quipping, "These smart models stomp all over that mechanical monster your Mom once used to cobble together your Chewbacca Halloween costume. They come with built-in touchscreen computers, programmable embroidery patterns, USB slots, and direct-to-PC compatibility."

I thought: Hmmmm.... One might think about picking one up for the house. I don't sew, but maybe a little something to do repairs on fine garments, or perhaps to start a quilting project over the winter.

Yes, one might think that, except for the fact that they are over 7 thousand dollars!

Stats Smackdown: 2006 vs 2007

Here's my weekly average for 2006:

Run: 6.4 miles
Bike: 10 miles
Swim: 1440 meters

And so far for 2007:

Run: 8.9 miles
Bike: 6.5 miles
Swim: 850 meters

It's early to measure the bike (no spin classes for me, thanks)... The swim is way off pace.

I think it will be hard to match 2006. I think '06 will be one of those years that I look back on and wonder how it happened. It was certainly legendary for being active and yet having a social life at the same time.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


" Today was a big day in Washington, DC, as it was Malaria Awareness Day in the nation's capital. All was going smoothly until a confused President Bush announced that he was sending 20,000 troops to 'Malaria' "

-- David Letterman

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Inspiration 2: Op-Eds

As you know, the Captaineers at CC HQ are working day and night to ensure that you, dear reader, are enjoying reading about things that pertain mostly to, well, me.

This is no easy task! The vast readership of the CC blog are voracious readers and brilliant critics. Keeping y'all entertained often requires "out of the blog" thinking.

And so here's another gem -- one you might see on these pixels soon. Op-ed pieces by guest hosts! That's right, our usual editorial staff is considering handing over the reins for a special op-ed piece or two. Successful candidates are likely those who do not have blogs and are too busy/faint of heart/etc to start one.

Stay tuned! We'll see how this goes... And to the candidates: you better bring the heat! Our standards are high at CC. It'll be like going onstage after the Rolling Stones.

Contact me if you are interested in writing a piece. No worries if you do have a blog. I will keep an open mind. Do have some ideas for your piece though.

It would be very wise indeed to have an idea about me.

Running in St Louis

I went to a St Louis Tri Club meeting tonight and saw a presentation by 2 young guys who have started Big River Running.

I still think that Fleet Feet is a great store and my main running hookup, but these guys at Big River are the real deal as well. Both guys have stellar running resumes from high school and college (Ben won his first marathon at Virginia Beach and finished 70th at Boston in 2:33).

Their goal is to create a spirit of the "running community in StL". I haven't been to the store yet but they say it's a cool place to come out and hang. Even though Matt ran a mile in under 4 minutes (which is crazy), they are, like, totally laidback dudes and kind towards newbies.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Wright Way to Comedy

I don't blog on live events often but Stephen Wright is on Comedy Central. He is the king, man.... He's a deadpan comic with wonderful one-liners. They may lose something but I have to write a few:

-- My nephew has HDADD. High-Definition Attention-Deficit Disorder. He hardly ever pays attention, but when he does, it's unbelievable.

-- I'm addicted to placebos. I would quit, but it wouldn't matter.

-- I'm scheduled to have an MRI tomorrow to see if I'm claustrophobic.

Inspiration HQ

Travel and fitness always give me ideas. In fact, there are so many ideas at CC HQ that once again, our Captaineers can't manage them all and we have to liquidate.

I have given this blog idea to 2 dear friends but they think that I'm mocking them. I do mock them regularly on other things, but not a blog idea!

Here's the background (hint: you should start writing this down):

Except for couples who have been married for 20+ years, each and every couple have issues about the sleeping arrangement. Too hot, too cold, blanket theft, diagnolizing bed annexation, you name it: there are a myriad number of issues that are hashed out each morning. Often, when with company, the couples delight in talking about the (platonic) escapades of the night before, amplifying the stories.

And if there is a pet involved... well, the fun factor goes through the roof.

The idea: a blog (or website) where couples post photos of their slumber through the night, and then get people to vote for Person A or Person B in terms of "who is in the right". This does require some technical expertise: a web-cam (infra-red?) in the bedroom, and there are privacy concerns, but those are implementation details.

The idea's the thing. And this one is a dandy.

I'm sorry to let it go open-source like this... I had high hopes for my friends, but alas....

Be free, my little idea, be free. Fare thee well, stay gold, and prosper.

Monday, April 23, 2007


If you wish to be thoughtful: run.

If you wish to be youthful: bike.

If you wish to be graceful: swim.

ps. Newly coined, a "maiku" is a brief poem that is like a "haiku" but doesn't really follow the form. But it's cool because it's mine (MY-koo).

pps. I am also coining "triku" which is a maiku about triathlons.

The Heights Are Alive with the Sound of Music

On Sunday I went to see a concert by 4 StL symphony orchestra musicians. The show was part of their ongoing community outreach program.

It was awesome! A pianist, violinist, viola-ist, and cellist (2 married couples, no less) played pieces by Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, and Mozart. After the music (which was exquisite), they entertained questions from the audience. Though it was a gorgeous day outside and the Cardinals were playing the Cubs on TV, I'd say about 175 people showed, including a lot of children, which was great to see.

Some thoughts:

-- There is no stereo on earth that can capture the sound of multiple string instruments playing together, live. You can just feel it in your bones, even when they just tune up.

-- Of all of the fates that could await a tree, there is none greater than being used as part of a fine musical instrument.

-- Sadly, public schools struggle for funding re: musical education. I hope at least that they could teach about the composers. Their lives were as fascinating (and at times, wild) as any rock star alive today. If you don't know about the lives of Liszt or Paganini, you should find out.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Nous bloggons

Blogspot has a "randomizer" that features random blogs. It's amazing what can come up there.

Here's a new one on a weight-loss attempt (or, a success story in its early phases ;-)

I don't know why but this one resonates with me because I was in a similar place circa 2000. I wasn't experiencing chest-pains but I could barely be on a treadmill for more than 20 minutes (at an inclined walk). This scared me bigtime because I was playing tennis like crazy back in 1998 and thought I was pretty fit. Wrong-o.

It has taken time, and it required an intense, legendary competition with my arch-rival, but I think I can say that I'm fit now. And it has been worth the blood and sweat....

Almost everyone I know wants to lose weight and/or get more into exercise. I'm always careful not to come off too much like the "fitness police" and offer too much advice: I'm just a regular joe who has different priorities than most people. I am tempted though to post more along these lines (i.e. how I made it to where I am now -- which really isn't that far).

Our Hero In Another Prickly Situation

On the ascent of Camelback Mountain on the outskirts of Phoenix. Like Squaw Peak, this gorgeous mountain is just minutes from Traci's childhood home and is visible from her backyard (!).

Our Hero Ponders the SouthWest

At the top of Squaw Peak on the outskirts of Phoenix. Traci and I climbed this baby on a gorgeous Sunday morning. The mountain is 10 minutes away from her childhood home.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Stop and Run Over the Roses

Our hero lifts Blackbird from the rack on the car. Before climbing aboard for the inaugural outing of 2007 at the Proving Grounds (aka Creve Coeur Lake), he goes through the usual checklist:

  • Helmet, gloves, sunglasses, suncreen: check.

  • Goal visualization: check. A recovery ride after the 1/2 marathon.

  • Strategy: check. Maintain moderate heart-rate, RPM, and speed.

Walking his bike to the trail, he begins to spot the traffic on the path, mechanically looking for openings, holes, passing lanes. With the cool calculation, he prepares to go hybrid and become a part of a semi-organic, man-machine velocitizer.

Then, with teeth gritted, he pauses. It's a nice day: 80 F and sunny. Everyone on the path is happy. New parents walk behind strollers. Children laugh and play; some are on bicycles for the first time. Dogs bark joyfully. An old crop-duster biplane lazily banks over the lake, the throaty drone of its engine bouncing off of the calm water. Kites fly in the distance.

Our hero's grimace morphs into a smile. It's the first bike ride of the season! A true sign of spring. A new start and a throwback to the salad days of youth. He takes his mental checklist, crumples it up, and tosses it aside. Let's ride!

ps. Moments later, our hero cruises along the path. Without hesitation, he lets go of the handlebars and throws his weight onto the aerobars, assuming the classic tri position. Unfortunately, his prefrontal cortex is not yet in shape, and he and Blackbird wobble dramatically, veering off the path onto the dirt and through some flora. They narrowly miss a park bench, and certain injury, before regaining balance and riding back onto the path. Passers-by find this manuveure to be rather humourous.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Happy Hour

Many years ago, I would fantasize about driving cool cars on a Friday night.

Then I fantasized about meeting members of The Divine Gender.

Then I fantasized about taking naps.

Now I fantasize about breaking my personal record for distance.

Alas, no records tonight, but I did run a 1/2 marathon in about 2:22 (my best time is 1:54 but c'mon now).

Here's the key to working out on a weeknight: when you get home, do not, under any circumstances, sit down. Just change and leave. At 4:30 pm today there was no way you would have told me that I was going to run long.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Art in Phoenix

We went to an art gallery in Phoenix, which was pretty cool...

Ostensibly, we went to see a performance by a friend of Traci's. As part of his music/composition PhD, he had written a piece to accompany a work of art. Predictably, his (along with many others') work was "challenging". We heard 2 hours of music by various string musicians and not a jig or reel to be found. Ha! I would have paid anyone $500 to break out into "The Devil Went Down To Georgia".
Also at the gallery: an exhibit on Rembrandt, including some pieces from the big museum in Amsterdam. I am becoming a "Rembrandt Groupie", following his work all over the world!

I didn't know much about Rembrandt until I read a great biography prior to going to Amsterdam. Far from the rarified, academic air of intelligentsia he was (a) an unscrupulous art dealer (b) a gifted artist who continually absorbed trends in order to stay in the $ and (c) a cad, marrying the babysitter after a breakup with his wife. Anyway, it was cool to see some of his stuff again, and it gave me a new appreciation for how complete the museums were in Amster.

Another part of the gallery was "Curves of Steel". No it wasn't about boob jobs gone awry: it was on concept cars from the 1930s. Here are some pics from the gallery's website. Some really neat cars; my Uncle Roland would have loved it, and _might_ have been even stymied to identify some of them (he's exceptional at auto trivia).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Top Brass Blogs

News from the tech world: a lot of CEOs write blogs to touch base with the masses, and to be hip.

Interestingly, it is turning corporate America on its head. Check out this article in Wired. It's terrific (which you already knew because I'm recommending it!)


Which illustrates an interesting aspect of the Internet age: Google is not a search engine. Google is a reputation-management system. And that's one of the most powerful reasons so many CEOs have become more transparent: Online, your rep is quantifiable, findable, and totally unavoidable. In other words, radical transparency is a double-edged sword, but once you know the new rules, you can use it to control your image in ways you never could before.

Various and Sundry Factoids

Factoid 1

I haven't swam in a month! Gah! I swear, if you just let up for a second....

Factoid 2

Readers may recall that, 2 weeks ago, I was approached by a man who needed gas money. I gave him $25 and haven't seen a lick of it. Fleeced.

Opinionoid 3

I sure hope NBC went through a major ethical review before showing the video/pics/etc of the Virginia Tech killer. I don't get any news at work but I'm hoping there is serious outrage that NBC did basically exactly what the monster wanted.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nash-ville Artistry

As mentioned, I saw my first NBA game in Phoenix. Once again, I was blown away by the joy of watching sport in person (versus TV). Because I didn't see a pro sport game until I was about 23, it still amazes me to this day that these are the same superstars we see on the tube. It is surreal, because the actual game looks much more like a vanilla high-school game than it looks like the glitz shown on TV.

It was cool to check out Steve Nash. I'm not a big basketball fan, but all Canadians know about Steve-o. He's won the MVP title twice in a row and might snag a 3rd. For a 6'3" Canadian, this is pretty crazy stuff.

I can see why he wins MVP awards. He has great fundamentals and is selfless. He can clearly dribble better than most and almost seems to prefer to pass (though he can shoot just fine). This is highly reminiscent of Wayne Gretzy's style in hockey. However, he doesn't control the game or have the same presence as #99. He certainly doesn't have the presence of Michael Jordan, or even Kobe Bryant, but he quietly gets the job done.

The other trait is speed. This guy can fly and is willing to use it. Several times the Lakers would score and Nash would come sprinting out of the zone to put on the press. I think this was common place in the past, but compared to his colleagues, Nash put on a clinic in terms of work ethic and cardio training. In this respect, he reminded me of Guy Lafleur, who also would come flying out of his own zone in hockey.

The upshot is that the guy can play.... very cool.

ps. (Note to self: I just realized that most of you are too young or too "non-Canadian" to even know who Guy Lafleur is. That's sad and will be rectified.)

Girls Nite Out at Maplewood Bicycle

hey ladies in StL, check this out!

Maplewood Bicycle is hosting a Girl's Night Out expo on Thursday, April 26th from 7-9pm. There will be food and wine from Monarch restaurant and wine bar as well as coffee and sweets from Wired Coffee. There will be discussions on personal coaching, yoga, masseuse tips, sports nutrition, running, and much more. To reserve a spot, call Mary Kay at (314) 781-9566.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Phoenix is My Kind of Town

I just flew in from Phoenix, and boy are my arms hot! But it's a dry heat....

I had a fantastic trip at Chez Traci's Folks. She and her fam were wonderful, generous hosts and gave me a great tour of the area. We also attended a highly weird wedding reception straight out of "My Big, Fat Goth Wedding".

Some highlights, which I hope to document soon:

-- I saw my first NBA game! The Phoenix Suns, featuring fellow Canuck and 2-time MVP Steve Nash, played at home. The seats were great. I felt like Jack Nicholson or Spike Lee. Oh, and the opponents were the LA Lakers with Kobe Bryant (can you say "kick ass" ?). Suns won.

-- We climbed 2 major summits in the Phoenix area: Squaw Peak and the famous Camelback Mountain. The ascents were about 1400 ft in elevation and 1.25 miles (about 45 minutes each way). A great workout that was really different for my body. I wasn't breathing _too_ heavily, but my legs were working hard, and I was definitely sweating by the end of it. There shall be pics, but for now, trust me when I say that the view was spectacular. Classic southwest: cactus, lizards, and desert, with the urban oasis of Phoenix in the valley.

-- We also toured some areas around PHX, including Scottsdale (very fancy, with world-class resorts and some seriously high-end homes) and Cave Creek (on the fringe of the hardcore desert). And some great food throughout the trip....

Stay tuned for pics....

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Enough is enough

Random thoughts on the latest media swarm (which has all of the random irrationality of a swarm of locusts):

-- Don Imus's comment was offensive but I'm amazed at the reaction. I don't know if he should lose his job, but people certainly have the right to demand that.

-- It is unfortunate that every sports commentator in the country now thinks s/he can comment on social justice and race relations. Almost all of them are outraged and rant incessantly about Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson as being hypocrites. Whatever.

-- Some commentators cry "double jeopardy" because Imus was suspended and then fired "without new evidence". Heaven, help us. He wasn't thrown in prison! You'd think this was Nelson Mandela or someone who actually suffered.

-- If even 10% of this energy was applied to the issue of domestic violence then we'd be getting somewhere.

The Tractor Pull

Here's my new favorite workout. It can be tailored for people of all levels:

-- start walking/running at a comfortable pace (e.g. where you can have a conversation)
-- up the speed by X mph at regular intervals
-- keep going until you can't anymore

If we were all to do this every day for 6 weeks, the gains would be amazing.

I don't normally quote numbers but tonight's workout started at 6 mph and bumped 0.2 mph every minute. I stopped after 9.6 mph.

I did this twice tonight. I only mention it because back in 2000 I probably would have topped out at 5.5 mph after starting at a walk. It doesn't take much to get fit, but it does take discipline.

ps. I also call this workout "Feeling the Bang" and "Boiling Frogs" (LOL).

Lyric Appreciation

You seem very well, things look peaceful
I'm not quite as well, I thought you should know
Did you forget about me, Mr. Duplicity?
I hate to bug you in the middle of dinner
It was a slap in the face how quickly I was replaced
Are you thinking of me when....

You Oughta Know -- Alanis Morrisette

To quote Melissa Etheridge re: the italicized line: "genius... genius!"

Wednesday Redux

The first day at the New Gig went relatively well... And the surgery went smoothly too.

I once read a quote that I haven't been able to find again. I think it was by Schopenhauer. I'm paraphrasing but:

My life has been a series of worries and fears about things which ultimately never came to pass.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


It's a big day on several fronts in the CC family.

After a couple of weeks of trepidation and preparation, I'm starting a new The New Gig, and, more importantly, some close family are having (non-emergency) surgery.

Send us your positive energy, eh?

ps. I will be going back on total lockdown with respect to email during the day, at least for the first while.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Friday Night's Alright For Fighting

Enrique has another bout!

Sadly, I will be out of town but if you want to see some real action on Friday, 4/13, then Fischer's in Belleville, IL is the place to be. Zee website ist here

This is another Muay Thai bout (kickboxing). I believe it will be Enrique's 2nd non-exhibition bout. That is to say, both participants will be bringing the heat....

Good luck, Enrique!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Making a Chore Less Taxing

St Louisans,

If you want a good, solid tax-preparer, check out Stephen Zenk at H&R Block on Olive near Mason. (Click here)

If you want, contact me and we can both get $15. If you like T-Dogg better, contact her and you'll both get $15.

But incentives aside, he's a kind man and a fine tax-prep. I had forgotten a coupon, and he kindly worked on my paperwork while I red-lined Herbie back to my apartment...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Volcanic Disruption

Due to some physical ailments, studying for work, great road-trips, etc, I haven't worked out in 12 days: not since the epic 15 miler.

It's killing me. I'm irritable as hell. I'm also highly stressed so I've been eating like a fiend. I've probably only gained 3-4 lbs but it feels like 50.

I have never experienced a "runner's high" but I do think that intense exercise is psychologically addictive: the after-glow is awesome, but the real hook is the joy of a new personal best. I was really hoping to break past 15 miles last week but it wasn't to be.

The good news is that I took my beloved Blackbird to the shop this week. I hadn't touched it in SIX months (how is Oct 1 thru Apr 1 six months long? i keep redoing the math). It was so nice to saddle up Herbie again (which I can do blindfolded) and lift that gossamer-light steed out of its stable.

I can't wait for it to get warm again and go for a ride. Out of the 3 sports, the biking is a high-maintenance prima donna. It's expensive and it's relatively hard to do (weather, schlepping stuff to the lake, etc) but it's by far the most fun. A bike brings out the kid in us every time.

No wonder Amsterdam is so peaceful...

ps. This entry is a rambler. The gist (vis-a-vis the title) was going to be the importance of continuity with respect to hobbies/passions. Kinda like "habit" only more powerful. More later...