Monday, October 25, 2010

It's not like it was a rainforest, but...

The company I work for has made a science out of taking abandoned high tech buildings, refurbishing them, then moving in. I've so far worked in two different buildings that were reclaimed this way. They recently reclaimed the set of buildings near the one I am in. It took months for them to make it useable, and the results were great.

The one major problem were the sidewalks out front. If they were a road, they would require four-wheel-drive, and even that might not be enough. The problem was that the sidewalk was lined with sidewalk-unfriendly trees.

I wondered how they would fix those sidewalks, and now I know.

If I had thought to take a picture a couple of weeks ago from this spot, you would have seen another three or four trees along the street to the right.

The street had regularly planted trees like these. Unfortunately, they were very hard on the sidewalks. I took this picture guessing that these trees would be the next to go.

These tress are not exactly in front of the building, but their sidewalk is also showing some strain.

This morning all those trees in the above pictures were gone.

Yes, I'm a bit of a tree-hugger, so I really hated to see this happen. But I'm sure there was no other option, and I would bet new, sidewalk-friendly trees will be planted in their place.

It's still really sad though.

That's it - move along...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Oh, it was Rocky alright. (For me anyway...)

Today was the Brazen Racing Rocky Ridge event. It was promised to have stunning hills. It was promised to have great views. It was promised to have gentle weather.

It delivered on all those promises. But I nearly failed on my promise to finish every race I start - this was a tough Half Marathon (and the 10K and 5K were no slouches). It was easily the toughest race I've done, including the Full Marathons.

First, we start with a picture of my feet. Sorry. (As a warning for sensitive readers, there will be another picture towards the end, and it will be FAR more disgusting.) Last Thursday, Zombie Runner (the most interesting trail runner shop around) held a foot blister clinic. I tend to get blisters on longer events, or very hill-infested events where I try to do some running. Based on that, I picked up some Kinesio tape and put it on my feet on Friday night. I'll tell you later how it turned out ("great" for those with short attention spans or who are determined to not see the other foot picture).

Brazen had promised cool weather (the Bay Area had went through a heat wave earlier in the week, so this was great news). Diane is dressed for snow. She did the 10K, so I didn't see her again until I finished. (I had, in a wildly optimistic moment, mentioned that I would probably catch up with her since both of our races were to finish on the same trails. She is still laughing at me for that.)

This was at the first Half Marathon aid station. Later I heard how much of a stud the guy slinging the water was - there was a bit of confusion which meant that while all the aid station stuff had been delivered the previous day, nobody was there to set it up. So The Stud, who was volunteering as the course sweeper (the guy that goes over the course, removing the ribbons and signs and any left over bodies after the last runner has gone through - he does the race as a sort of housekeeper), took off once the Half started and managed to beat all but four runners to the aid station. Amazing.

There were many cows around the course. In this picture, careful readers will notice that there is a calf, standing behind its mother, nursing. Mother cow was not happy with me for taking this picture. She mooed loudly and I took off.

Shortly after the second aid station, there was this tree blocking the trail. It was challenging to fight your way through, but a nice break to the routine.

It was shortly after this, a little after the 7 mile marker, that I started to realize that I was not doing very well. I was very tired after covering only one of three significant hills. I struggled up the second hill, and by the time I was starting down it towards the third hill, I realized that I was not going to be able to finish. There are two common terms for what happened to me: bonking and hitting the wall. I don't really know the difference, but this was a feeling I had never had before.

The good thing was that soon, just after mile 9, there was a shortcut to get back to the start area, making it easy to call it a day there.

The only problem was that also at that point was the next aid station. And at that aid station was Coach Paul, the guy who for nearly two years has dragged me from a couch potato to someone that loves trail races. And I knew Paul would want me to finish.

That's him, standing at the gate, ready to drag me on. I rested a bit, took some salt tablets (I was pretty well hydrated, but hadn't been eating enough, especially not enough salty stuff). Paul, who is currently recovering from pneumonia and had been manning the 5K turnaround point, walked me to the top of this last hill.

Here is Paul, my daughter Danni (who was on the course taking pictures), and a little girl (to the left) that loves the idea that she will be able to whip this old guy up that hill.

It was hard and slow going up that hill, but with Paul's encouragement and patience, I made it to the last aid station. At this point, there were 2.5 miles left, mostly downhill. There was nothing for it but to finish. The aid station workers were fantastic, and were eager to see me make it to the finish line. (In part, no doubt, to not wanting to have to carry me down the hill.) And I was off.

I kept going, even managing to jog short bits as I started to smell the finish line, and then saw Danni. She had climbed up the hill to see how I was doing. She knew how close I had been to calling it quits, and wanted to make sure I was still on my feet.

This is the picture she took of me. As you can see, the "on my feet" answer was "just barely."

And I made it! Diane was at the finish line holding the newest member of the Brazen family, with Mrs. Brazen looking on.

Diane, by the way, managed to not only finish her 10K race strong, but to also get third place in her age group.

Danni with Marie, a Brazen regular (a Brazen Hussy?), posing with a pocket kleenex holder she made for Danni. I swear, these races are like one large family get together.

The three of us posing with the new Brazen Baby (who is only a couple of weeks old).

Sorry for this picture, but I just wanted to show how the Kinesio tape held up for the race. It was a great success - it was such a relief that, on top of everything else, foot blisters were not a problem. (Yes, there was a bit of dirt out on the trail.)

Here is the front of the shirt, the bib, and the medal. All awesome as usual.

And the back of the shirt - I love the elevation profiles. Those Brazen people are very clever.

That's about it. While this wasn't a particularly fun event for me, it was a success, due mostly to Coach Paul and the volunteers that dragged me back from the near-dead. And certainly most other runners had a great, if challenging, time.

That's it - move along...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Painted faces and squeaky wheels

It's been a busy week or so. In chronological order...

I started last Sunday by heading down to San Jose to cheer on a large group of Fitters participating in the Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon. It was a lot of fun, but this guy is pure genius. Granted, I would need a LOT more balloons to make me light enough to make a difference, but it would be worth a try.

Once I got home, the grandkids were hanging out, fresh from a party where they got their faces painted.

Darci loved hers.

Riley did too, but he managed to add some bonus "painting" in the form of chocolate cake (which may be why the shark's eye is so wide open).

We headed to the backyard where we came across this awesome spider. We have been seeing a lot of these large things around here - they make the best webs and may be helping control the neighborhood's squirrel population.

The grandkids wanted to trim something, so I gave each a pair of clippers and set them loose on the agapanthus, whose blooms long ago ceased being pretty. This kept them busy for a long time, and it's even possible the plants will survive this "trimming."

At some point during the week, this hamster showed up on the dining room table. Apparently Mrs Notthat volunteered to babysit the thing while its owner went on a vacation. The only annoying aspect of this was that its hamster wheel squeaked when Pokey ran on it, and she had a knack for doing this while others were trying to watch TV.

Friday night, The Boy opened the cage and removed the wheel. Unfortunately, when he closed the cage back up, he didn't secure the lid properly.

This is what we found Saturday morning - Pokey had managed to muscle the lid open enough to escape. Mrs Notthat and I were meeting others for a hike, so there was nothing we could do about it right away.

We headed to Sanborn Park outside of Saratoga, the site of a future Brazen event. While it's reasonably close, we had never been there. As we started out, we saw this deer laying down in the grass, looking like a dog guarding the front yard.

Joining us on the walk was Nna (in white, on the left), Uidualc (bent over, looking for a sandwich in his backpack), and Mrs Uidualc (who knows there is no sandwich).

And a rare picture of The Blog on the hike, with Uidualc still looking for the sandwich. It was a fine hike (although that park needs to take a class in Trail Marking 101 - there were many needlessly confusing intersections).

Once we got home, we searched for the hamster, but failed to find even a clue as to where she might be. We were just about ready to give up on ever finding this thing. And then this morning, while I was sitting in the kitchen reading the paper, a brown furry streak lumbered past me towards the laundry room. I was able to lock it in there and went to work designing an elaborate plan to catch her.

The elaborate plan mostly involved moving the washing machine out from the wall a bit. She squeaked at me "How rude!" in her little hamster voice, then climbed into the back of the washer, giggling at her cleverness. I ended up luring her out with a carrot, blocked her way back into the washer, and then grabbed her as she bolted for the kitchen. Pokey squeaked a lot of unprintable words at me as I carried her back to her enclosure, where she made a rude gesture then curled up and took a nap.

And for good measure, I oiled the wheel before I put it back in.

That's it - move along...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Baseball playoff guide

My dear friends at generously provided the following graphic:

It's odd and a bit ugly. (Why do two teams need to have both their city/state included with their team names? And it seems very odd that the Yankees are so small and undistinguished - they need to spend some time coming up with a nice logo.) But it allows me to provide guidance to those of you that have no idea who to root for in the upcoming games that start today.

Yankees vs. Twins: This one's easy, we need the Twins to win. They won't, but it would be nice.

Rangers vs. Rays: Not quite as easy, but I give the nod to the Rangers. My years growing up in Colorado predisposed me to hate all things Texas, but I'm mellowing a bit. Plus it would make Rick happy. Plus I generally have to pull for teams on the correct side of the Mississippi River. I do like that the Rays ended up in first in the AL East, relegating the Yankees to the Wild Card.

Braves vs. Giants: Duh. I hate the "tomahawk chop" and would like to see the Braves battered senseless by the Giants. It's not going to happen though - there will be a lot of 1-0 and 2-1 games. The Giants will prevail though.

Reds vs. Phillies: I've got to go with the Reds and Dusty.

My dream World Series would be Giants vs. Rangers. FOX hates me (I'm sure they want Yankees vs. Phillies again), but then I hate FOX - they are not broadcasting any games until the Giants play the Reds and no AL team is on broadcast TV until the World Series. Speaking for all who refuse to pay for cable or satellite TV, this is pathetic and MLB should be embarrassed. It relegates MLB to the same level as the NHL and NBA - a second tier sport.

In any case, today you will hear baseball coming from my office nearly all day.

And hopefully some cheering (and few bad words).

That's it - Play Ball!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Aehterod heads for the foothills

Aehterod (not her real name) has had enough, and is moving to Citrus Heights (motto "Home of the World's Highest Tossed Citrus").

If you don't know Aehterod, there is one bit of info that will make you nod your head in appreciation of her awesomeness: it's her fault we have Teddy the Wonder Dog. (A friend of hers took in a stray, that later turned out to be full of puppies, including our Teddy. Aehterod was very persuasive.)

Ydnas (also not her real name - just assume none of these are real names and it makes my job easier) threw a going away party for Aehterod. Granted, she threw it well after she had moved, but then the timing for this sort of thing can be tricky. I guess.

First, there were desserts. LOTS of desserts. And a bit of cheese and crackers.

Here is Ydnas beginning the festivities, with Aehterod silently plotting a way out of this thing. But Aehterod likes desserts too, so she hung around.

The next thing we knew, Yekcim, wearing a red (naturally) feather boa, jumped up on a table and started belting out the song "Saturday Night's Alright for Fightin'."

She was immediately joined by a number of other women (including a nervous Mrs Notthat, who wanted nothing to do with a fight, Saturday night or not) that jumped out and joined her.

Once calm was restored, it was time for the men to be jumping on tables, singing a sweet and moving version of "Surfin' Safari."

This was followed by La strolling down the isle, tenderly crooning "Born to Be Wild."

It took a few minutes for everyone to settle down after that.

The final event had Luap revealing a lot of little known facts about Aehterod:

• She was born in 1967 on the back of a dogsled during a running of the Iditarod. (She claims she does not recall how the sled finished.)

• She holds the Black Angus record for sending a steak back a stunning 15 times. (She wanted chicken, but loved tormenting the waiter.)

• For a short time she filled in as the linebackers coach for UC Davis. (After one memorable pep talk, three offensive players ended up with concussions at a single practice. The head coach decided she was too dangerous of an influence, and, VERY politely, thanked her for her time and suggested she go talk to the Raiders.)

It was a great evening with a large crowd of friends and family. Aehterod will be missed by all of us - she is a blast to hang around. Everyone has several "Aehterod" stories, and almost none of them involve anyone being arrested.

The one sad thing of the evening was as I was leaving, I noticed that a variety of people had scrawled things all over her stuffed puppy dog.

That was when I decided it was time to make a hasty retreat.

That's it - move along...

PS: I made up the bit about UC Davis. Cal Berkeley threatened to have their legal department sit in our cherry tree if I revealed it was them.