Saturday, May 31, 2008

I'm Getting Married

and it's not quite sinking in yet at all.

I haven't even told my friends yet so consider this an inside scoop. The California Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriages should be allowed, and though we've hesitated before (we're both property owners and we feared it would complicate life too much being in that legal limbo of Registered Domestic Partners) it seems important now to stand up and be counted.

We haven't told people about it as come November it might be anulled by a constitutional amendment that is going to be on the ballot. Because for some reason we are still the ongoing political flavor of the month. However it appears to be getting less so. In this article in the SF Chronicle they talk about how younger generations who have grown up with friends who've identified as LGBT their whole lives don't see what the big deal is at all and overwhelmingly support same-gender marriage. The graph here really shows the dramatic change.

At first I was thinking that getting a constitution amendment might be difficult as I mistakenly thought it took 2/3 of the vote to pass. But it turns out that in Calif there is the idea of revising the constitution (which takes 2/3 vote) and amending it which if proposed as an initiative only takes a simple majority (ref.) (I need to write a separate blog entry on how I hate the initiative process - I'm not a professional lawmaker why am I being asked to be one?)

So we may get the fun of being married for a few months. Anyone wishing to take over as political football is welcome to do so. The cool thing is to see the writing on the wall. It's inevitable that same-sex marriage will be legalized in Calif over time as the voter attitude shifts, likely other blue states will eventually follow suit. After a considerably longer time the Federal laws should shift once people see that nothing horrible has happened. Wonder if I'll live to see it, given how dramatically things have changed I might well indeed.

In the meantime, I get to wear a really cool ring. :)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Rest Step - I can finally do it

It's taken me years but I finally get the Rest Step. I feel silly that it took me so long to get it but it involves immediately locking your knee and I've been conditioned for years to not lock my knees so it was a huge mental and physical block for me.

When you take a step you straighten and lock the leg that is getting the weight (what will become the trailing leg) and relax the leg that is brought forward for the next step. The thing I wasn't getting is that you straighten and lock the leg immediately. In this way, you can walk uphill at nearly normal speed.

I was hoping I could find a You Tube video on The [Mountaineering] Rest Step but there isn't one (and there needs to be one).

There are these refs:
From Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills,M1

And also:

I finally put it together while working out at the gym with a pack. It became clear even before I got to the stair climber machine but when I was walking up the real stairs of the gym. I hit a rhythm and was able to then work out on the stair climber for 45 minutes while carrying a 27.5 lb pack. It of course helped that NCAA Women's Fast Pitch Softball championships were on as I'm real familiar with fast pitch softball as I spent all of jr high and high school playing softball until I had to quit from a shoulder injury which I handled all wrong so it didn't heal for years. (As a result I became an excellent hitter.)

I walked out of the gym knowing that, for once, I was ready for Shasta. I should increase the weight and the speed but I pretty much have it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Songwriting and Music

Music is a passion of mine that unfortunately I'm not inheritly good at. I've spent years working on playing guitar and piano better and was passable, but never really that good. I pretty much stopped when I was dealing with Carpal Tunnel and realized that I essentially had to pick which activities mattered the most to me as my hands weren't going to be able to do everything. I chose work and art and sports and let playing music slide. But I continue to mentally work on musical concepts here and there - trying to recognize notes, harmonies and keys.

But it's taken me a long time to get to the point of admitting that I'm much more visual that auditory. Visualizing things is very easy for me, except I can't just look at written music and know how it's going to sound, and keeping time musically by manually counting is out is very difficult for me (though if I hear it I usually can figure it out). I took a basic music composition class and it was fascinating (and demoralizing) how easily playing music came to some folks.

But I have to remember that writing (at least expository writing) is very easy for me and probably a lot of those folks would struggle with that. Or they may not be as visual and able to imagine an object at several different orientations in space. We all have our talents.

But it doesn't stop me from being really jealous. I keep thinking that I could at least write lyrics, but my brain doesn't seem to work that way. When I write a song I'm more writing a story and the idea of stopping to write a chorus just doesn't jive at all. It's clearly a skill that I need to learn but once again it would be an uphill struggle for me. When I stop and imagine myself writing a particular song that I'm listening to, I realize that I would never have occurred to me to arrange the words that way. Maybe I'm just too linear though I don't think of myself that way. Hmmm.

I'm obviously making this far more difficult than it needs to be. Each time I have trouble, it's magnified into a moral failure. Oh please.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Waiting is not a Horrible Thing

Twice now I've seen commercials selling the idea that waiting is a worthless time waster (I can't find a good reference but I'm sure you've heard them), One in particular outright says "No one has ever gotten anything worthwhile by waiting" (paraphrase). Implying that waiting was bad (since they were selling the speed of their service).

It's odd that they can actually get away with disparaging waiting. Waiting is an excellent exercise in patience. A sort of zen-like opportunity to work on breathing and relaxation, reading, writing or thinking.

I find it also helps to realize that as long as you are taking up their space it's quite likely they will get to you. It's hard to ignore a human. Humans take up space and a business only has so much of it. Not dealing with you is actually costing them money, so they have an incentive to work with you.

Waiting is not so bad. Really.

Miserable in Paradise

When battling training daemons it's best not to be alone...

I never got home sick as a kid, but I sure do now and I'm just realizing that's a part of what it is that is plaguing my trying to do mountaineering and altitude adjustment while by myself.

Thur, Fri, Sat I was up at Mt Shasta's Horse Camp (run by the Sierra Club). I had multiple purposes in mind. The most important was to invest the time to adjust to the altitude to see if that made a difference in the AMS that I'm prone to get. The good new is that plus Diamox kept me from getting sick.

The bad news is that after 24 hours I was miserable missing Terri, Yoshi and Trek, plus I was dealing with feelings of being a failure (at mountaineering, but you know how these things get generalized in one's head - sigh.)

While there I wrote this somewhat pathetic missive:
Thur Arrived 5:30pm [it's a 1.25 snow hike up to Horse Camp from Bunny Flat]
Fri At Horse Camp acclimating.
Midday - I will leave at midnight [for a training climb - which I wussed out on and didn't leave till the morning]. The spring isn't running yet. Caretaker is concerned.
I never count on how depressed I get when I'm away from Terri & the dogs.
This is tricky as for me to aclimate takes extra time [at least 36 hours or so], but I so much want to leave now. This doesn't bode well for my mountaineering future.
On the Alaska trip [a week long class on an Alaskan glacier] which started on a Sunday, by Tuesday I wanted to go home despite being in one of the most beautiful places on Easth - the Ruth Glacier.
I love physical challenges but I need to find somethng that takes less time. I joke that I should take up something simple like riding centures [100 mile bike rides].

Wonder if something I'm taking is affecting me. I need to Google diamox serotonin [didn't find anything useful]
I went and helped work on the digging out of the spring and the: carry wood, chop water (sorry) exercise seemed to help. I must say it's nice not to be sick. I can eat all I like.
So I think my future is in shorter duration alpine skiing where I aspire to be an excellent black diamond skiier. (Right now, I'm ok with easy blues). I will go on the Shasta Mountain Guides trip that I have paid for - that will be in June, but I'm not going to do any more solo training trips that exceed a day. I'll just start bringing a pack to the gym and doing the stair climber and also work out on my elliptical here.

As far as actual training and carrying skills I still have some work to do. My rest step is still too slow to use all the time, and even when doing it my right hamstring tends to tire so I'll need to strengthen it more.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Predatory Lenders - They're Back

The Predatory Lenders are back in my mailbox. Different tactics, but just as deceptive.

This one is from "Insite Financial Corp." Who is a real estate broker (Ca lic #01522406)

It's offering me more than my original loan, but for a lower monthly payment, claiming to be a 30 year fixed. Today's interest rates are higher than my current loan so I know there's a huge catch in there somewhere.

Looking carefully at the language it says "30 year fixed loan with a payment at 3.25% amortized" odd that it doesn't say "interest rate," and in the next paragraph it says APR or 7.99% which is way over what my loan is and a major red flag.

Turning over the page in search of the fine print, and the "offer" goes from sounding friendly to a financial nightmare.
"New loan is a 30 year fixed with minimum payment option starting at 3.25% for the first year. Minimum payment is available for 120 months [10 years] with the following minimum payment schedule:

Year Amount
1 1074.34
2 1154.92
3 1241.54
4 1354.56
5 1434.76
6 1542.37
7 1658.05
8 1782.40
9 1916.08
10 2059.79

So in 10 years the payment doubles! And what year does it exceed what I'm paying now?
Year 4. Such ripoff artists. Especially since during the years where you're not paying much money, interest in accruing.

Oh and there could be a prepayment penalty in case you had the idea to use just the cheap part of the loan. Run away from these types of quagmire loans.