Saturday, September 27, 2008

We Survived Getting Married in the Backyard

It really happened. We got married. And things actually worked very smoothly.

It took a lot of planning and key help from 2 friends Mark and Jan who agreed to be the wedding coordinators for the day and my sister who did the photography. And a lot of luck was involved. The weather was perfect, the only leaf blower on was way down the street (I had talked to my next door neighbors about the timing), the train that brought Terri's family over from Elk Grove was basically on time.

One unexpected thing that happened was that a cat snuck into the house because we had the back door open. Half way through the ceremony, Yoshi, the more nervous of my dogs, was in his crate and started barking furiously. Jan went in and he settled down. What I didn't realize was going on was there was some elaborate cat herding going on that involved a lot of closing and opening of doors. Thank you Jan.

We decided to have Trek our other dog be the ring bearer, and the risk was what was she going to do in that strange situation. She has an excellent recall, but I wasn't sure what to expect. She was perfect and brought the rings to us and then of course started to melt into the ground ("I want to stay with Mom") when I handed her back to Mark, but he picked her up and she was fine (she earned lots of treats for her trouble.)

After the ceremony, we then went to close by Ching Hua restaurant where we had preordered a whole bunch of appetizers and they could order whatever drink they wanted (sans coffee), which folks really liked since they didn't have to think about what to order and since they were appetizers if they didn't like one they could just wait for the next one.

Then we went back to the house for cake (a yummy dolled up chocolate mousse cake from local baker Boniere Bakery) and drinks.

It all worked and I didn't excessively cry during the ceremony and Terri and I were able to hold it together (Mike's advice of when in doubt slow down, really worked) and read our vows to each other outloud (and people loved the vows which was very touching to hear) and then repeat the traditional lines back that Mike (who was marrying us) said. I sometimes had to force myself to focus as I was marveling so much that it was all really happening.

Now to see what happens in the November election. With any luck we'll still be married, and will be planning some very large parties (since the ceremony was small). Oh and the cool thing about having the ceremony small was that you could treat them all very, very well.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

We really are Getting Married in the Backyard

In July, Terri suggested we get married in the backyard which set in motion much angsting and activity (documented here in painful detail). Well, the ceremony is tomorrow, and as I look at the yard I marvel at what our patch of dirt has become. It's a real backyard now. The dogs in particular love the grass (rolling in it and chewing on it) when they're not tearing it up by rough housing on it. (It's established now, but still relatively fragile as it hasn't had time to develop that Tall Fescue turf toughness yet so it's actually much more pleasant to walk around on right now.)

Plus we got a lot of flowers first as plants and today I got a whole bunch of cut ones to make flower arrangements. I've discovered that if you have any artistic eye, that flower arranging is really easy to do.

And our friends and family have been so supportive mostly emotionally, but also helping out with all sort of things (even though we're deliberately keeping it to a very small almost entirely just family ceremony - with a look to a large party come November after the election.)

Now I just have to keep my head together enough to get dressed and made up tomorrow and try to keep the dogs from going completely nuts with 8 other people in the house.




The Ex-Homecoming Queen's Has a Gun

OMG I love Julie Brown and her novelty songs especially [Everybody Run] The Homecoming Queens Has a Gun. She's on The Stephanie Miller Show this morning and it turns out she's rerecorded the song to be about Sarah Palin: The Ex-Homecoming Queen's Has a Gun (The Girl-VP has a Gun).

It is a scream. Unfortunately I can't find Julie Brown on iTunes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

GOP chooses Sarah Palin and insults all of us

I've been avoiding writing about Sarah Palin for 2 weeks now hoping it would all blow over, but it keeps getting worse, and Move On is encouraging us all to write letters to the editor. I'll just consider this my letter to the editor.

So much has been said about Palin that it's hard to be original. She keeps proving over and again that she is completely out of step with current knowledge. She still thinks Global Warming is not human caused. She still believes that Iraq had something to do with 9/11. She's anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-evolution and thinks it's fun to shoot animals purely for sport (I'm not bothering with references - I trust you can look it up).

She was chosen not because of any qualifications, but instead purely on idealogy and because she's a nice looking woman. Never mind that this royally insults every Hillary Clinton fan, but honestly Palin is who should be insulted. Instead she doesn't mind being used - if there's something in it for her. What does that make her? Radio commentator Randi Rhodes would call her a whore for that (this isn't a letter to the editor so I get to write that, but there are plenty of men who do that as well so there has to be a better (but equally judgemental term let's hope) way to say it.)

One thing that scares me about Palin is one that is just now being touched on. If someone in her administration disagrees with her, she immediately tries to fire them. That may sort of work in small government (though it backfired on her twice - one with trying to get the librarian to consider banning books and the other with Troopergate), but every private enterprise CEO who turns to politics (not that she's ever being a CEO by any stretch of any imagination) has to learn the lesson that you can't do that with elected officials, you have to learn to negociate and compromise - that's politics. This more than a lot of things really underscores how woefully unprepared she is for life in the big leagues.

Call me prejudiced, but I want my presidental candidate to be a brilliant law professor who also does social activism and who is a caring parent, not a power mad, gun toting hockey parent and PTA member who doesn't believe in evolution and plainly isn't that bright.

I just heard that Obama has shattered fundraising records for August. Yahoo! I do so want this to be a decisive, landslide victory.

A friend just sent me the link to Women Against Palin which has a great video of the various signs that were at a recent rally. My favorite is: This Insults Pitbulls.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

More Wedding Writing

There were two more portions of the wedding ceremony I needed to think about.
One is a special greeting that I wanted to be said by either Mike or I (haven't decided who yet).

Thank you all for coming today, both Terri and Ellen are deeply honored that you have chosen to join them in their marriage celebration. You are here in a ordinary backyard for a relatively uncomplicated wedding, but you are also taking an extraordinary part in history. This event simply could not have happened as recently as 3 1/2 months ago. They are grateful for your support and know that you will be with them regardless which way the legal and political winds blow. Thank you all very, very much.

The other is an optional reading. After going through several, briefly thought about writing something and decided that was too much work and far too presumptuous (it's more commonly a recognizable quote), I came across a great Diane Ackerman excerpt whose work I have admired before. It makes me smile. Though I did cut the quote off a line early as she talks about diatoms in the next line and I couldn't quite parse how small razor sharp little chips had to do with love and decided I didn't want me or anyone else in the audience pondering that.

from A History of Love by Diane Ackerman

“Love. What a small word we use for an idea so immense and powerful. It has altered the flow of history, calmed monsters, kindled works of art, cheered the forlorn, turned tough guys to mush, consoled the enslaved, driven strong women mad, glorified the humble, fueled national scandals, bankrupted robber barons, and made mincemeat of kings. How can love’s spaciousness be conveyed in the narrow confines of one syllable? Love is an ancient delirium, a desire older than civilization, with taproots spreading into deep and mysterious days."

Angsting about Vows

So yesterday we met with Mike, the person who is marrying us, to go over wedding details. The difficulty was that I wanted traditional vows and Terri wanted more original ones. I wanted traditional as I've spend more than 20 years being excluded from marriage and I want what I've been denied all these years.

Fortunately, Mike (a former priest who is now happily married) was terrific in reassuring us and laying out what the structure usually is while stressing how much flexibility there is. We finally decided with his help that we can do both. Have a non-traditional vow that we read to each other and then roll straight into the traditional vows. Sounds great but now I had to come up with something to say. Aaaaaa.

Fortunately Terri was nice about letting me stress all the while saying that it wasn't supposed to be a super stressful thing and that I could choose anything. I was flipping through various ideas and none seemed right. Then it finally occurred to me that if it didn't sound right then I already knew what I wanted to hear and I should just write it down.

Was that every a "Duh, of course silly" moment. Got a new window on the computer and started typing and had it in just a few minutes. A few more minutes of adding and rearranging and it was done. Maybe I am a writer (or just a good plagiarist).

I see the magic of your smile
and feel power of your gaze
I am awed by the brilliance of your mind
and charmed by your humor
and I know the love I feel for you is also
shared by you to me.

In this and in every setting
I give myself to you whole heartedly
With no regret or hesitation
To be a part of each others lives in marriage.

[traditional vows then follow]

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Betrayed by Appetite and Metabolism

I've often been about 10 more pounds heavier than I needed to be and I've just sort of put up with it, but like many folks in their 40's, if I don't watch out, that number starts to creep upward.

So I decided that I wanted to at least lose the 10 pounds, so I would have a better margin if I got injured and couldn't exercise.

You would think that for an active person with a good diet this would not be so hard to do, but as just about anyone who's tried can tell you, it's very difficult to convince your body that yes indeed I want to burn that fat off. My body is programmed to be a certain size and it thinks it is life threatening to lose that padding, and convincing it otherwise just isn't really working.

So after trying many different (not radical - I've not really overweight) tactics, I've resorted to simply getting used to being hungry and not snacking in between meals and often not eating breakfast at all. I no longer trust my body's inclination to eat (unless I'm really, really hungry). My appetite is dialed into when I was younger and had a higher metabolism, and even with regular exercise that metabolism and appetite have not meshed. It's very difficult and not really maintainable, but it is sort of working. I'm part of the way there. Though I notice that if I give in for just a little bit the pounds go back on (though they seem to come off easier now too.)

I'm hoping to be further along on this before the holidays undo everything and I have to start over.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Wombats ride

Sat was the monthly Wombats ride (Women's Mountain Bike and Tea Society). It's billed as a mellow ride, but it's not (too much climbing to be mellow) but Jacquie has yet to come up with another description.

This is a climb/ride that I've now done 4 times. I can now do the climb without walking but I use my lowest gears which are really really low. The advantage of this is that I get to stay on the bike longer. The disadvatage is that other bikes (my bike is brand new this year) usually don't have this gear ratio and so their riders if they are able to turn the pedals at all, by necessity, go faster than me. Sure enough, I was told by one rider that she was a slow climber. And sure enough she rode away from me like I was just standing there. Sigh.

Irksome as it was, I was genuinely grateful that I was able to climb up the hill on my bike without needing to walk. There was some question there as I had a heart rate monitor on and my pulse started to climb up into the anaerobic range of 165. When that happened I did have to pause and walk a few feet (10 maybe) but my body recovered nicely and I was able to get back on. I want to work up to being able to climb in 3rd gear or so as that's about where the other bikes stop anyway. Since it's ok a bike, unlike climbing, this is something I can likely work on in a gym.

I saw a buck on the way back and I just paused for a while while he and I communed for a while (ok he ate). Annie rode back to check on me and once I pointed out the buck she in fun said we should embellish it to we saw a mountain lion take down an 8 point buck. I laughed, but said that I rooted for the deer in those cases.

On the way back I opted to go down the road where I could break speed limits without having to worry about crashing into a hiker. (Those trails are very popular.)

Unfortunately it was stinkin' hot which I really didn't notice until I got back to the car. I was fine on the drive back but the rest of the day and night was completely wiped out, which only seems to happen when I'm strenuously exercising on a hot day. All I wanted to do was lay in bed. My brain felt slow and well cooked and I could not keep my head up very long. It's a strange feeling.

On the way back down I opti

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Setting Oneself Up To Fail

So I've been moping about this altitude thing since Sunday and it's taken me this long to realize that I had set myself up to fail (even though I actually did get up and back down the peak in mostly one rather miserable piece.)

It was a training hike and an experiment. I deliberately pushed my pace just to see what would happen, to find the limits, and I know from experience (which I had conveniently forgotten) that if I over-exert, I run out of oxygen and funny how everything stops working right then. This doesn't explain my difficulty on Shasta, but that may have been slightly incorrect training (or training that more included having to life my entire body weight.)

Being able to climb is fun and I tend to get carried away and go faster than I probably should. Part of the issue is that I tend to climb slower than others so I was enjoying being able to climb faster, and was trying to prove to myself that I could do it. (Sure, for a little while.)

It's tempting to redo the first part of the hike at a more moderate pace and see if I hit the wall at 7500'. My guess is that while I would probably slow down around that height, it wouldn't nearly be so dramatic. In particular, I should avoid forcing my muscles to work anaerobically (where they burn) while climbing as that may have been a factor.

Mostly I really need to stop persecuting myself about this. It's a challenge, not a character flaw - geez lighten up. I started to slip into the "Woe is me I never get to have things that are really important to me." Which is so not true.

This is all on hold till October as this Sat is a Wombats ride and the rest of the weekends in Sept should be spent prepping for our wedding.

Even though it may not help me much I am going to get an oximeter, as I love having hard data (like a heart rate monitor), and I judge myself less.

Advance Fee Scammer Reads an Autoreply

I've never seen such a thing before.

Bifriendly's (the bisexual social group that I run) email address was getting so much spam that I changed it and put an autoreply telling folks what the real address was (since spammers don't bother to read replies anyway.)

Well today the new address got its first email as a result of that auto-reply. It's from an Advance Fee Scammer. Ha!

But it gets better. The scam is about this wealthy xian convert who only has 4 months to live and wants to distribute her wealth to various religious groups and "she" located that email address from our website. Really? From a site dedicated to bisexuals and has no mention of any deity whatsoever? I think they did no such website visiting. But this person really did take the time to read an auto-reply and type in another email address and put [bifriendly] in the subject line as instructed. Wonder what they thought "bifriendly" meant?

I took the ill advised step of replying saying that I was amazed that an advance fee scammer bothered to read an auto-reply.

I need to send it on to (which I have done) Pity though - shame to shut such entertainment down, but these scammers can get dangerous and nasty in a hurry. I'll just have to blog about it instead. (No reply from the scammer yet.)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Ralston Peak

Where to start? Shall I chronnicle how I like/hate to torture myself or should I just write down what I set out to learn and learned instead. I'll go with the latter.

First of all the drive behind all of this is that I like to climb things. I like the physical challenge and I love the view that you don't see under any other circumstances. The bummer is that I've been having real challenges at altitude and I've been trying to figure out a way to deal with this. Also I have an awful lot in common with the kitty cat who climbs up the tree and doesn't know how to get down. Well sort of. I know how to get down I just find it a miserable, painful experience when on dirt (snow is better). If I could get a helicopter to pick me up I'd do it.

Sunday I climbed Ralston Peak (photo) which won the contest of 9000' mountains that are easy to get to (it's 9235') and semi-close to the Bay Area. The trailhead is located at Camp Sacramento on Highway 50, and took me just under 3 hours to drive there. It's a 4 mile hike in, though I wound up taking a use trail which shortened the distance, but was harder, so I went back the regular way.

I did this hike for fun and curiousity (never done it before) and to try to answer some questions about why I was having difficulty climbing. The trail starts at 6500' and climbs up to 8800' before turning off to climb the peak itself. The use trail peels off around 8200' and heads up. I started out at a very brisk climbing pace (around 2.6 mph) up a somewhat steep in places trail. I was doing great and was comfortably climbing at a pulse rate of 150-160. Then at some point in a steep section it climbed to the leg burning (anaerobic) rate of 165-170. I got through that and was ok but right around 7500' I hit a wall. Suddenly my muscles pretty much stopped working. Every step was a huge effort. What's weird was that I wasn't out of breath, and I wasn't sick. This was my experience on Shasta and it is nice to be able to replicate it fairly easily and inexpensively. This is what I came to wrestle with.

The one thing I wish I had was an oximeter to verify my theory. I've resisted getting one as well it's money and it's not like it would change my behavior and it's not really a training tool (though I may be able to turn it into one). I started to pressure breath where you take deeper breaths and forcefully exhale to get the old CO2 out of your lungs. Doing that helped and I was able to climb more but at a much more measured pace.

I came to a use trail and took it thinking it was the main trail but others thought it was and it wasn't until I was most of the way up that I could tell from my GPS that it wasn't as I was going straight up the south face and the main trail overshoots that face and goes up the less steep ridge. Now above 8000' and on a steeper non-maintained use trail, I am crawling, but had already decided that I wasn't going to stop as I'd just want to come back and, of course, I wanted to see the view from up top. Taking a break helped, but it was really frustrating watching some other hikers comfortably hike much faster. The other possibility was that it might be an endurance issue but at Shasta I'd had a night's sleep and was still slow so that doesn't seem likely.

I finally got to the top. The wind was howling and I own a huge debt of thanks to Patricia for introducing me to the Marmot Windshirt. With it I was comfortable up there and could even hang out and shoot a short video.

Then I had to hike down. The first part off the peak itself was surprisingly easy. What was hard was the long 3.5 mile slog down the steep climb with the big steps (gentle downhill is not a problem). I turned my ankle and fell and was worried about doing it again. I put on my spikes and that helped a lot and probably should have put them on much earlier. It was a struggle the whole way. Each step down took way more effort than it should have and I cried out of frustration at least once. My body was yelling at me: "why, oh why do you do this?" and I don't have a good answer for the downhill, especially downhill on dirt with big steps down (and I use trekking poles which makes it even possible.)

Good sense is telling me that I should limit most of my climbing to biking and skiing and snowshoeing (or at least hiking on snow - which is much nicer to fall on and I know how to stop "self arrest" if I fall on a snow slope), but this doesn't yet address the altitude problem. I'm nearly to the point of trying supplemental oxygen but that's not readily available.

Because I can't stop thinking about it, I ordered some more mountaineering books when I went there to order a different book. Silly but cheaper than getting hurt falling down a rocky slope.

Maybe I will get that oximeter or maybe I should just bring along that personal oxygen I already have.

But I'm not moving to Tahoe. I love it here and I'm closely identified with the ocean and large bodies of water.

If I do this again I'm just going to do up to where I slow down. That's only about 2 miles up so I would be relatively fresh coming down. Maybe after I get married - I'm still sore from this one - need time to forget and that hasn't happened yet.

Did some google research and found plenty of evidence that altitude can have a very significant effect on muscle fatigue. Here's one ref.

They and other talk about live high - train low. Unfortunately that's not going to happen with me. For someone to see a genuine adjustment to altitude (more red blood cell) they have to spend at least 20 days at altitude and more than a month is better.

Maybe I should check out supp. oxygen. [later] I did, and affordable oxygen really doesn't last that long, but I could use it occasionally. References are many and confusing and I have yet to sort them out.

I think I would like to work on this altitude issue more just so I can ski/snowshoe/snowclimb higher.

I think I'll head to Tioga Pass Rd in Yosemite while it's still open in October and try some short hikes above 8000' with out Diamox (in case that's a factor) and with an oximeter.