Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Web Stats Say What?

I usually don't pay much attention to the web stats on my site but recently they've shown a couple of anomalies that are fun to speculate about. One is dog related so I'll put that in the Training Blog, but the other one is amusing me while it's mystifying me. There was a bump in traffic on this blog this week. Really? What about? Absinthe? Google Earth Moutaineering? Sub-Prime Borrowers ? Oh no, nothing so relatively informative. It was on Xmas day of all things. The 'I'm mellowing on the "I hate the Holidays" routine' entry.

That's too funny, as it probably means that people were googling on "I hate the holidays" or they were googling on Kung Pao Kosher Comedy. I suspect it was the former. I'm having visions of someone storming over to the computer in frustration and entering that into google. I just tried it though and the page didn't come up in the first couple of pages. This is good news as I would dread all the "Aw F.. off" comments to an entry about hating the holidays less from people who really were looking for holiday hating fare.

I just tried a google on Kung pao Kosher Comedy as well and the page didn't show up in the first three pages. And I tried googling on nondogblog and only got results pointing back to myself, so I'm pretty befuddled.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Words that you don't know you know

I just heard from one of my cousins who I haven't heard from in a long time. It is great to hear from her as I've been wondering how she's doing. It will be great to reconnect.

What I found funny is that she now works for a non-profit called Altamaha River Keeper. Turns out the Altamaha is a river in Georgia. I was sure I'd never hear of Altamaha and was puzzling out how to say it - sounding it out and verbally trying to say it. al-ta-ma-ha as soon as I started trying to pronounce it, I started hearing whispers in the corner of my mind. Paying attention, I started hearing my grandmother talking telling me something. The sound came and went - the more I tried the harder it got - which I always find so strange. As soon as I stopped trying so hard I heard it: ottamaha ri-ver
They must be the same. I knew how to say it even though I had no clue I did.

What's weird is that I don't have any specific knowledge about that river. It was just a part of a story that my grandmother was telling about someone she knew. What was funny is that I though the word started with an O which is not a bad assumption as a lot of things there start with O. (Okefenokee Swamp and a lot of the other river names

What's also funny is the "l" in Alta disappeared, but the l in Atlanta remains - it's not ottanta.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The tough part about playing poker anonymously

is that it's anonymous. It's the good and the bad.

Yoshi's avatar is now recognized at the tables he frequents. The players can chat back and forth and we do so a fair bit, which could get awkward for a dog. Most of the regular players are also on MySpace and Yoshi was asked tonight if he was on MySpace. (Answer was: not really) And he was encouraged to sign up. Which of course would end the anonymity. Yoshi is perceived male which is very convenient as women do get harassed sometimes. In fact the person that was asking Yoshi about MySpace was someone that he defended from some stupid loser who likes to type weird insulting things to pictures (avatars).

Thing is, they already have this image of Yoshi in their head (whatever it is), and I'm not sure I want to impose reality on that image as it would really mess with their heads, and they might think I didn't trust them. Never mind it's just that I had to come up with a login and Yoshi's was available and it worked very well.

I don't owe these folks "the truth" but in a way I almost feel like I do. As far as I can tell the main people involved are being honest. It's a strange position to be in as I lead a very transparent life (heck, I'm a blogger for one thing), so even though it's not, it feels duplicitous. In a way I'm messing with my own head.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sub-Prime Borrowers - my solution

Sometimes (ok often) I wish I had a foundation like the Bill & Melinda Gates or John D & Katherine T. MacAuthor foundations where I had a lot of cash to help solve some of the world's problems.

I've been ranting here on and off about predatory lendors and what has now become known as the the sub-prime loan crisis. The problem is not that these are bad properties that people have gotten themselves into - it's bad loan terms. Now granted, they probably got talked into buying more house than they could afford, but many are working hard to try and keep their house (let's set aside the issue of speculators and just limit this to people who are trying to keep their primary residence).

I'd love it if I could set up a fund where the foundation buys the property for what they owe the bank (regardless of what it's worth) and then either rent back the property to them or setup some sort of lease to own arrangement. If the previous owners decide to walk away the foundation still has the property. Property values were inflated and are resetting to a more correct level, but we're still talking real estate and over a decade or two the properties will likely go up in value so it's not a completely losing proposition for the foundation, you just have to have the resources to weather out downturns.

I hope some foundation, or organization or some government program is doing something similar.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I'm mellowing on the "I Hate The Holidays" routine

For years (like about 9 of them) I was a enjoying hating the heavily Xian oriented holiday season. It's everywhere and it's easy to resent (just ask any Jew). But the emotional charge seems to have leaked out of it for me and that is very welcome indeed.

I think for me it was learning winter skills like skiing and snowshoeing so I had good reasons to anticipate the season, but other major factors are of course Terri and her emotionally healthy family, the dogs, and a learned deafness to commercials or at least a learned apathy towards them. I still hear them but don't feel the emotional tentacles that they extend. Also the only thing I do is ski more, socialize, go to parties, occasionally bake things, and try to make notice of Winter Solstice and wish the Sun a safe journey back to us in that Pagan-lite sort of way.

I haven't volunteered at Kung Pao Comedy for a couple of years and I miss it and hope to do so again. I owe the Jewish community (let's hear it for overly vague phrases) a lot for helping me through the tougher times of the more recent holidays. And for realizing that you don't have to be or act a certain way during this time. and that Chinese food tastes really good at this time. :)

We'll go to Terri's brother's today and I'll just try to enjoy watching the kids have fun. Oh and I'll train my dogs too.

I just got this spam dated Dec 25 7:27am. Subject: Summer is almost here, be ready!
Well at least it's after Winter Solstice. Barely.

Monday, December 24, 2007

I love telemark skiing but...

I went skiing at Sugarbowl yesterday and took my new telemark gear.

I love it - it feel so natural to have my heel loose. The boots that I had custom fitted to my feet are excellent. The skis that I converted are just fine. My only complaint is that the telemark cable binding technology is so, well, 1970's, and these are new bindings (see the pictures.)

They're not step in. They're not releasable. If you get buried up to your waist in an avalanche you are stuck until you or someone else digs you out.

These days there are releasable bindings but they're a bit heavy and awkward and they're not step in. Step in telemark bindings are being worked on but the one's out now would require buying new boot and telemark boots are really expensive so there's no way I'm going to replace my still new boots.

I just googled for step-in telemark bindings are there are quite a few matches like the one called the TeleBulldog in this link - not the picture - that's my binding):

There is a 2006 review of bindings here (including my G3's):

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Google Earth Mountaineering

I love Google Earth I'm just shocked that it's free and it just keeps improving. It used to be that the city views are great but the mountain views were relatively low resolution and you couldn't use the images to do actual planning of a trip. Now for trips to Mt Shasta and Mt Whitney you can take a complete virtual trip if you tilt the view so that you can see the elevation.

The only problem? It's a huge time black hole.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Absinthe - a dubious tradition

Let's hear it for Alameda. Respecter of history and tradition, and who finds the nation noticing it at really odd times. We now have the questionable honor of having the only legal Absinthe distiller in the country: St George Spirits.

Absinthe has the highly checkered reputation of causing hallucinations, violence, and urges to slice off one's body parts (all apparently untrue). Detailed here:

Today is the first day of sales and even though I don't (ok rarely) drink, I really have to try this, even though I know it's going to taste horrible, but I'm realizing the extent that I will go to to get a good story is a touch further that most folks I come across. Does this make me a writing slut or some equivalent? What's odd is that I'm not a journalist nor ever had much compunction to be one.

Back to Alameda assisting with the downfall of civilization...
NBC ran a story not too long ago showing lines of a couple hundred people:

Diane went but decided to leave after seeing how slow the line was going.

We're going at 5:30pm and it will be interesting to see how long the line is. Will report back...


The line wasn't as long, but there was still a line.

It most certainly was fun and I didn't even have to pay for it since it was clear that they were going to run out of $75 bottles before they got to us so they were handing out free samples.

That has to be the most unique, complex alcoholic beverage I've ever tasted. first you get hit with the 120 proof (60%) alcohol, then a whole series of different tastes come over you in waves. The oils in it coat your tongue but it doesn't cover up all the various herbs that are in it. The most curious sensation was that I could feel it cascading down my throat all the way down to my stomach while at the same time I had this uprising feeling of my brain being slowly pickled. And I only had 3 sips, but that was plenty.

While the anise was strong (you could smell it out in the parking lot.) it did not over power all the other ingredients which I was not expecting.

A very unusual, fun, and unique experience. Glad I did it.

Postscript: It's the next morning and I slept the whole night comfortably. This is unusual for me after I've had alcohol. Usually I have a less than fun time while the alcohol works it's way out of my system. I've been noticing that distilled alcohol doesn't really have this effect unless I have too much of it (which is not much in my case). Terri's thinking that it may be the fermentation that my body's sensitive to and distilled spirits are not fermented.

So the conclusion is obvious. I can have small amounts of alcohol, but it has to be really expensive. :)

Immigration - some thoughts

It amazes me what a hot button illegal immigration has become.

Compared to other issues it seems like such a non-issue to me, but I grew up in an environment where most of the orchard pickers (we had an orange grove) and house cleaners were likely undocumented. My family had the attitude that this is the land of oppertunity and why wouldn't they come? And I think that's the point. They are going to come. The human capacity to dream of a better life for their family is not something you can stop or fence out. Putting up more obstacles and increasing enforcement is only going to make them try harder (and at great risk to themselves).

So what is the solution (assuming there's a problem with paying someone below the minimum wage to pick your lettuce.)? Well let's back up and look at a larger picture. There is a huge economic gap in between Mexico and the US (we could include other Central and South American countries, but for simplicity let's just talk about Mexico.) As long as that dichotomy exists, people are going to come no matter what you do. They will find a way - bet on it. I think a real solution would be to improve Mexico's economy. Make life in Mexico more desirable so there isn't the giant incentive to brave El Norte.

Too expensive? Look what we're paying for border enforcement. What if we were to put our money into making Mexico a better, more humane, more hospitable place?

But why should we do such a thing? Well as you are no doubt aware we are 6% of the world's population and consume considerably more that that percentage. I think this is one way to give something back.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Freedom requires what??

I keep coming up with blog snippets and I keep thinking that they're not really long enough to make a blog entry. Then they become less relevant but they still bug me so I'm going to try to write about them even it they're short...

I just heard Mitt Romney (who a New England friend calls "Mittens" :) on the radio and he finally addressed (in his mind, the rest of us are baffled) the issue of his religion (Mormon). He said in this voice that is supposed to reflect profundity:

Freedom requires religion
Religion requires freedom

Say what? That's dead wrong on both counts.

Freedom requires religion. Er, how? Maybe for some, but it's not like a free person is required to have any mystical or faith-based beliefs.
Religion requires freedom. Well. Gee. I can think of the most repressed people in the world and many of them are/were quite religious. Jews (multiple instances of slavery, and genocide), African slaves brought to the US. a friend brought up Burmese Gov't and the Buddist Monks. those stuck in Guantanamo. Many of those have said that their religion is what got/gets them through their hellish life.

So what was he thinking? I'm sure by now he's come up with some clever (well he thinks clever) explanation, but I'm not sure I want to hear it.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sexuality is a Many Splintered Thing

I likely have written about this before (but maybe not here), but I find it a fascinating topic that comes up again and again in so many contexts (sorry for the mind in the gutter pun).

Just to put things in context, I'm bisexual and am attracted to both men and women, but it's women who sweep me off my feet and though I've dated both men and women, it's women who I get into long term relationships with (oh and I'm monogamous which may be a minority in the bi community but we're not sure as mong. bi's are a quiet bunch we're discovering.

As a result I think I am a little more comfortable with gray areas that my gay and lesbian bretheren. Though it doesn't stop me wanting to talk about them and probably why I've run BiFriendly for 15 years.

But enough about me, let's look at a gray area I've been watching for a while now.

To my surprise, I find I watch the completely contrived Reality TV show Survivor. This I find odd as Survivor is not my thing, The Amazing Race and its simplicity very much is. I start watching a Survivor season just because I want to see the scenery and the puzzles (I'd love to be a puzzle designer for them), but sure enough, I get sucked into watching the people and their interaction (or lack of it).

During this season, there is a woman named Denise who would totally read as gay in my world, but who is married and has a daughter. Now queer folk who get married to members of the opposite sex (MOTOS - really old, old term) are not uncommon and sometimes find themselves in heartbreaking situations later on it life, but Denise had the opportunity to have her husband visit the island and she genuinely looked content. When she was cuddling with him, she had the involuntary smile that many truly happy people have. She could be bi, but who knows. I'm sure the lesbian community is dead sure she's gay, but I think we should just get a bit more comfortable with the gray area.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Methodist is Jewish-Lite? Huh?

I was idly listening to Randy Rhodes on Air America and she made the passing comment (in a vastly different context) that "wasn't Methodist Jewish-Lite?" (paraphrased). This totally got my attention and I missed the rest of the on-air conversation while I called Terri to see if she could explain the connection. Neither of us could and we both got quite a bit of amusement out of it.

You see, even though I'm no longer a Christian, I was raised Methodist, and I briefly considered converting to Judiasm (I'll explain more below). If there was someone who would have understood the comment, I would have, and I was completely befuddled as I didn't see a connection at all beyond an attachment to doing rituals exactly the same way each time. I was very much waving my hand in the air: "Excuse me. I have a question." Or as Terri put it "If this is on a need to know basis, I NEED TO KNOW."

I think we'll be forever in the dark on that one. Randy Rhodes doesn't do email for her show and I don't think fast enough on my feet to call her. I even tried Google and got precisely no where. Ah well, it was funny in that hurt brain sort of way.

What I love about the Jewish community that I'm familiar with is the willingness to laugh about familial dysfunction. My family is Southern (I'm the only Californian) and I see plenty of parallels between dysfunctional middle class Southern families and dysfuntional middle class Jewish families. The obsession with appearing happy and successful, heavily matriarchal (and the matriarch doesn't like to be disappointed), some powerful people in the family assuming that you just know what they want without them having to spell it out, oh and you must fit in and not be different.

But I realized that though I'm plenty spiritual, I'm not religious in the traditional sense so converting to Judaism didn't seem to be right for me. When asked I just say that I'm more a Jewish-Identified Gentile.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bush: I don't care what the facts are

Yesterday the US Intelligence Estimate stated that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and hadn't done anything on it since (a reference from the IAEA is here:

President Bush responded by saying "My opinion hasn't changed." "I still don't trust them" (I heard it on the radio but I'm sure you could look it up - I'll pass myself.)

I believe the proper term for this is Mule-headed Dufus-brain, but that is insulting to mules.
I'm wondering if he was talking off script as I'm hoping he has a handler that is still around who would encourage him to say "We are encouraged to hear this news." And this is the administration that is facilitating peace talks between Israel and Pallestine? Some God help them please - they need it.

But all this is just redundant as left wing radio had a field day with it yesterday, but there is one observation by a caller that I'm hoping doesn't get missed and it's well worth repeating.

Bush said "We don't want them to have the knowledge to build a nuclear bomb."
But that knowledge is easily available. in fact I just googled for: nuclear bomb construction and got plenty of hits here:

The knowledge is not secret and as the caller very astutely pointed out: you can not bomb knowledge out of someone (unless you kill them all and the draconian (and highly illegal) odds of that are remote indeed - there are almost always survivors.)

A caller to the Stephanie Miller show said that her and her colleagues often talk about the fact that Bush fits the diagnostic criteria for a sociopath. While I haven't run down the specific details of this I most certainly believe it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lhermitte's Sign

I spoke at length to my neurologist about the odd sensation of my bending my head forward that I wrote about in this post. and feeling numbness go does my spine and the resulting spasticity in my legs and how that not being my head forward makes the spasticity almost entirely go away.

Apparently it has a name: Lhermitte's Sign named after a French guy who wrote about the phenomena. While it's nice that other people experience it (1/3 of people with MS feel it.) There's not a lot known about what causes it. Turns out my theory about the lesion in my neck causing it may not be that far off at all. My Dr. explained that the spine is very mobile and it could easily be running over the lesion when my head bends forward.


Oh and that 4th symptom that I occasionally deal with (but very rarely now) that I couldn't think of when I wrote the original post is: fatigue. I'll edit the post.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Better Way Down the Mountain

As I've written about before I've been struggling with finding a safe way to descend our scree stewn, ball bearing like fireroads that we have in the Bay Area. I was seriously considering carrying a scooter up and riding it down but that would likely get me in trouble on the No Bike trails. Kahtoola, who is a very innovative winter sports company and who has solved the problem of how to fit crampons on flexible shoes, has done it again and my hiking life is now so much easier.

The answer is the MICROSpikes which are a pair of small spikes that fit over your shoes and are made for walking on ice, dirt, and even concrete.

I went back to the Rose Peak area where I struggled so much to get down the hills that I had cheerfully bounded up. This is the very same hike where I injured my foot and it stayed swollen for a month and a half, due to some previously undiagnosed bone spurs in my right foot.

The steepest part of the climb is from the sign in sheet to the top of Rocky Ridge (basically the first part of the climb.) I got up there and had a great time doing so as I brought my heart rate monitor and noticed that I was able to climb at a faster heart rate that I was able to before.

Then I got to the top and put the spikes on the Keens I was wearing. What a miracle. They were perfect. I could walk down the hill like a normal person. I felt confident and moved at a steady rate. The only downside is that after a period of time your feet will become aware of the spike bases pushing into the sole, but it's tolerable for 30 minutes or so and probably much more tolerable with a stiffer sole than the Keens.

My hiking life is back now.

Muddy Spike

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Yoga Balance Poses

I was looking for a reference for some of the yoga standing/balance poses
that I've having trouble with in Body Flow. I love what I come across while searching.

This is an excellent demo of advanced Ashtanga yoga shot in India, though the person demoing is anglo:
I can only hope to be half as strong as he is. He can go from Downward Dog lift himself up by his arms only, guide his feet forward through his arms and wind up in a sitting position. I didn't do a good job of describing that so it's best just to watch the video.

This one is more for us ordinary mortals:

But back to balance poses.
This is close, but not the poses I saw in class:

This one is more like it and I like the quote that you have to maintain a sense of humor about balance poses (you sure do :),14343,1018291,00.html

The pdf that is on the page is excellent.

Friday, November 16, 2007

So You Don't "Have Time"?

My revenge for people having loud cell phone conversations around me is to write about them.

While this one was not nearly as good as a caller to Air America (or was it KFOG?) describing an overheard cell phone conversation about going to the bathroom while in the bathroom, it first set my teeth on edge and then amused me.

This is most likely because I've heard it before and I'm only now just realizing how silly it is.

This woman was standing in a parking lot beside her car (of course not in the car) narrating a conversation she had with someone else where she was saying very distinctly, measured, and loudly "Look. I. Don't. Have. Tiiiiii-me. [to deal with what ever it was]" which was apparently code for "I don't like your answer, do it my way instead." She repeated this a few times in the space of time that I walked across the parking lot. I was really hoping that she would still be there talking about her precious time when I got back but sadly she wasn't (bummer).

I just love it when a phrase just has to mean something else than what it actually means. She apparently doesn't have time, but she has plenty of time to complain about it to someone else while standing in the middle of a parking lot. I suppose I should be grateful that she's not driving or in the store, but still. I've seen that used to mean "I don't want to spend time dealing with you and your issues."

I think it struck a chord with me as my mother used to use this or was it a southern family member? It's funny what a habit complaining about not having enough time can be. My father complained about it recently and I looked right at him and said "You're retired, what do you mean you don't have time?" I don't remember his answer. I'm sure there was harumfing in it

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Container Ship Crash - Lost in Translation

The investigation is no where near over but it sounds like there was a serious translation mishap on the bridge of the Cosco Buscan (the ship) when a critical piece of equipment failed. According to this Chronicle article:

"The pilot had to go along with what the master indicated on the electronic chart display was the center of the span," Meadows said. "That turned out to be the tower instead."

When the radar failed, the pilot (experienced local SF bay pilot), switched to an electronic chart, and because he wasn't familiar with their system (apparently they're all different - not a surprise), he asked the Captain to point out where the center of the bridge span was on the radar so he could place it in the center of the display and in turn have the ship head in that direction. It's starting to sound like the Captain misunderstood and pointed directly at the tower instead. Oh ouch. This is why we have local pilots, but if the primary equipment fails then "Houston we have a problem."

I'm wondering if there should be a way to standardize the equipment on the container ships or insist that if the primary equipment fails that the ship has to stop (tough for a huge ship) and let tugs do the steering instead. But what do I know about large ships? I only know how to sail and the basic "rules of the [water] road" and I live here on the bay, so I'm just a bystander in all this.

But these lost in translation issues are bound to happen with international commerce coming to town in really large ships. It's a wonder it doesn't happen more often. So we need to plan for a faster way to deal with it or prevent it as it's a nasty surprise for a migrating sea bird. Sort of way outside their experience.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Amazing Race 12

I'm a huge fan of The Amazing Race, to the point I've been pestering Terri about auditioning, but she keeps firmly telling me no. (Stressing in airports is not her idea of a good time and things are very whirlwind. I keep saying: why not have a world sampler tour on CBS's dime?)

Anyway, the one thing that has been missing in all these episodes are two women who are partners and they fixed that this season with Kate and Pat: lesbian Episcopal Ministers who live in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (

They sadly only lasted two episodes as they weren't very fast, but they were truly a class act, folks just loved them (Example: and Kate in particular is really quoteable:
The Amazing Race is a love letter to the planet.
(paraphrase) We are religious people, but we also know that God doesn't care about The Amazing Race (or how we do in it.)

I was so thrilled to hear the second one as every time some wacko Xian racer invokes the name of God to help them in the race I'm yelling back "Hello? God doesn't give a flying fuck about your race or how you do in it." (I'm not a Xian, but I used to be and I've studied religion pretty seriously for a while in the past - need to blog about that sometime)
She also wasn't afraid to tell it like it is as when they missed the bus she said "We're screwed." Personally, I find that really refreshing. And you could see them whincing about how poorly Ron was treating his daughter. You could tell they really wanted to pull daughter Christina aside to check if she was ok (wonder if they did.)

Anyway, thanks Kate and Pat for representing queer clergy so well. Mission accomplished. And you both seemed to have enjoyed yourselves as well.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Sue Nott and Karen McNeil on Mt. Foraker - so what happened?

Unsolved mysteries bug me. Unsolved mysteries of what happened to two of the most accomplished female mountaineers in the world just drives me around the bend.

A year and a half ago, Sue Nott and Karen McNeil were attempting a climb of Mt Foraker's Infinite Spur route, Foraker is right near Denali in Alaska. Due to being located very North, the mountains in Alaska are formidable. Their position on the planet makes their effective altitude much higher that their actual elevation (need to find a good reference for that). Mt Foraker may only be 17,000', but it's one seriously tough mountain and the route that they were on is one of the most difficult. However Nott and McNeil are excellent mountaineers and excel at difficult climbs.

They never came back from Foraker, and while some evidence was found (a dropped backpack) they were never found and what actually happened to them is well, a mystery.

I've keep a Google Alert on "Sue Nott Foraker" ever since then hoping to hear more (how funny, this blog entry will show up there). Here's the latest which is an excellent recap of the Park Service's report:

There is some new speculation. The lost pack was probably dropped as there's no blood on it. They are convinced that they saw foot tracks much higher on the summit, but saw no such foot prints on the decent. Well informed conjecture is that they dropped the pack by accident at 11,500', aborted the climb, but instead of descending they decided to go up and then down a much easier route, but died in the attempt and are likely in a snow cave near the summit.

Ok that's more answers than I had before but I still want to go find them even if it was to leave them in peace. I wish ground penetrating radar was more portable. I'm sure the families would likely want their bodies to remain there as it's probably what Nott and Foraker would have chosen (that's pure speculation as I've met neither of them). But honestly what happened? Finding their bodies and what they left behind (especially any notes or photos) what they lacked and what they had plenty of, would answer a lot of questions.

But listen to me "talk." I may be in excellent shape but I've never climbed any real mountain in Alaska (though I have spent a week on the Ruth Glacier there in a mountaineering course. I also tend to get altitude sick easy though if I spend enough time at altitude I'm usually ok. Also as they inadvertently demonstrated, Foraker is a really dangerous mountain. I suppose you could go up an easier way but then you have to descend some of the Infinite Spur route and then where do you start looking? I'm sure the Forest Service has some idea, but I doubt they would support such a thing that someone who has never climbed an Alaska mountain would propose.

If I were serious about it I probably should talk to Eric Simmonson head of International Mountain Guides and author of Detectives on Everest who is trying to answer the same questions about what happened to Irvine and Mallory.

I think one way to show (and to see if) I was at all serious about such an endeavor is to go on one of IMGs Rainier Climbs and see how that goes. Eric would likely not be there, but would probably be within contact and they and I could see how well I do. They have a ton of Rainier Climbs scheduled and I was thinking of doing one of those after ski season any way.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hello? Water Boarding is Torture

I'm just amazed at the debate about whether Water Boarding is torture.
John McCain (a republican) certainly says it is and he was tortured by the Japanese during WWII (I heard it on the radio but I'm sure there are a ton of references on it.)

I've never been water boarded but I have had the experience of having an ocean wave go shooting up my nose, aspirating just a little of the water. The deep seated primal fear that that evokes is huge. Even though I was fine I had to get out of the water and onto ground for a little while just to reorient. Deliberated placing someone in that position and forcing them to stay there is patently cruel.

When I was in high school we took it as a point of American pride that we didn't torture, that we didn't start wars, that we were the good guys with principals. Ever since WWII that image and ideal has progressively eroded. Starting with Vietnam and Korea and now reaching appallingly new lows with Iraq, it's no wonder that the world hates us.

I can only hope that we can rebuild our tarnished image. When I travel, I don't lie and say I'm Canadian, but if someone asks if I'm an American I say "I'm from San Francisco" which says so much in 4 words about how I really despise what BushCo has done. I think, heck with impeachment, he and his cronies should be tried for war crimes and murder.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Dreaded SSSS

When I flew to Seattle, I didn't know that my license had expired. I was turned away at the security screening and told to go back to the ticket counter to get a "special" boarding pass. Given that I didn't know that you could actually fly with an expired license and no other government issued id I was happy enough to go get it. So I did and they gave me one and I looked at it and emblazoned on it was "SSSS" which I now know means Secondary Security Screening Selection. Oh this should be fun. It was fine. Not something I want to always take the time for, but in comparison to Heathrow or as I've heard Tel Aviv, it was quite painless.

They get a TSA employee of the same gender as you are, and carefully explain that they are going to do a "pat down" search. The employee carefully and lightly, in my experience, pats your arms, sides, hips, and down your legs, then switches over to your back. In the mean time, another employee goes through your carry on and swabs various places and places the swabs in a machine that is likely testing for explosives. As you might guess, they also swab your shoes.

The entire process, including going back to the ticket counter, took 15 minutes. My favorite part was when the TSA person says "you have been randomly selected." Um no, not in this case. coming back from Seattle, my experience was essentially identical.

I wasn't sure if they were going to be unhappy about my toothpaste being repackaged in a non - commercial container. No issue. No issue at all. Though I'm not sure I like taking the time before my airplane trips to prepare like I'm going on a camping trip, so in Seattle I bought toiletries to leave at my parents house.

Though I did renew my license when I returned.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Physical Improvements can Happen Overnight - sort of

Today I noticed that I was able to get into a lunge position and bend my knee comfortably to the ground (or just above). This wasn't the case yesterday or any day in weeks/months past. I think it was working on strength building via Body Pump weight training and indoor/outdoor cycling. So a physical change did happen for me overnight, but it was after some weeks of working on leg strength.

That said, it wasn't months as I've only been doing Body Pump for less than a couple of months, so with consistent, measured effort you can see positive changes in your strength relatively quickly.

Having my legs be stronger is going to make skiing a lot more fun this season.

I have a Body Pump class tonight. I'm going to try to increase the weight for my triceps up to 5 lb weights on the bar (one on each end) but I'll load a second barbell with 2.5 and 1.25s as a backup. Biceps I'll leave at 5. Squats I've been doing 5+1.25 and I may do 5+2.5 but I'm not sure. Back I think I'll leave at 5 as that's a recent increase. Warm up I'll use 2.5 +1.25.

Chevy Tahoe Hybrid - you must be kidding

When I watch TV I try to watch it over the internet because you only get 30 second commercial breaks instead of 5 minute ones. (This is on CBS). The only gotcha about it is that sometimes it doesn't work reliably and you have to start it over a few times to get it going. As a result, I would up seeing a Chevy Tahoe commercial 3 times and the 3rd time through I actually paid attention to it a little.

It starts of on a mountain bike taking in some beautiful woods, no sound of a vehicle anywhere. It goes on to imply how green you'll be in a Tahoe Hybrid which has 50% less emmisions. Then comes the fine print which, since I'm only about three feet from the screen, is easy to read: Based on EPA estimate of 21 mpg. Oh and that's only for the 2 wheel drive version.

21 mpg!! Please. That's not exactly stellar results. That's less that most gas burning cars, trucks and many SUVs that are on the market today (Toyota Highlander Hybrid gets 40 mpg). While I think we should encourage Chevrolet to be designing alternative fuel vehicles, I do think they should rein in their marketing dept until they really have something to say. otherwise they just look even more pathetic.

And, of course, this vehicle is vaporware anyway - due this fall. Funny I thought it already was fall.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

MS Symptoms - A Breakthrough

I don't remember if I've written about it in this blog or not (surely I must have), but I've had Multiple Sclerosis (MS - use google to find the links to Mayo Clinic and the MS Society) since Jan 2002, though there's MRI evidence that I've had it since 1995.

The hallmark of Relapsing-Remitting MS is that (as you might guess) the symptoms can come and go (or they can linger), and I've been lucky enough to respond well to medication so what symptoms I do have generally do not interfer with my life.

With a lot of medical things especially ones that require physical rehabilitation, the more motivated you are to improve, the better. I've had a whole raft of odd symptoms: vertigo, balance issues, slurred speech, sensitivity to heat, numbness in parts of my body, trouble thinking, couldn't see very well for a while and almost all of them I've recovered from.

Things I still have are:
- Depression (may not be an MS symptom but often accompanies it - treated very successfully with prozac.)
- Spascicity of my legs (a maddening one and the one I just had some insight into)
- Leg muscle weakness (I am a gym rat now and it's done a world of good and almost completely gone now)
- Fatigue - A classic MS symptom and I rarely experience it now except when I'm truly tired. MS fatigue is amazingly bone crushing and must be similar to what Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is like. It's almost impossible to explain how overwhelming it is. You can't just force yourself to wake up. While it was at it's worst, I did find that Modafinil (Provigil) worked very well on it. Ironically, I read about this drug in the SF Chronicle and I immediately asked my neurologist about it.

For years, I've been trying to figure out a way to address my legs just needed to move. My neurologist explains that it's not restless leg syndrome as restless leg is an inner psychological impulse to move. In my case there are a bunch of extra signals racing down the sciatic nerve. For a long time all I could do was spend a lot of time stretching which helps but doesn't address the cause. So I've been mentally tracing the nerve path in my head (I've been obsessing on this a while - can you tell?) trying to figure out the origin and if accupressure would help.
I've been trying various positions just to see if that would make a difference. Also I've been trying icing and also dressing warmer. All seemed to help some but no magic bullet.

After years I may have found a solution. I had mentally traced the nerve back to my spine and wasn't sure where to go from there. It finally occurred to me that if RSI wrist pain can originate in the shoulder, then might this originate in the spine further up. Going back to mental nerve tracing I started getting the impression that it was up just above in between my shoulder blades or even higher.

One weird MS symptom I had a long time ago was that when I bent my head forward I would get this numb feeling traveling down my spine. It turns out that I have a large MS lesion on my spine in my neck. I really haven't had those symptoms for a long time, but I started to pay close attention to how I was feeling when I bent my head forward. When I did that my legs instantly wanted to move. Oh really? I held my head level. The impuse died down. I'll have to talk with my neuro. more but it appears that even though the old lesion isn't active anymore, it may have left some scaring which is putting pressure on my spine when I'm in certain positions.

This is huge for me. I may be able to sit through a play or a movie without having to stand up and stretch - long airplane flights may not be so much torture. the spascicity is worse while trying to watch TV on the sofa which is certainly a time when I'm not sitting up straight. tonight I was able to watch CSI without having to stretch.

This is by no means over as there are times when I have to bend my head down, and it doesn't work all the time (like right now), but it's certainly way better that it has been.

I hardly dare to hope as the only way I could cope before was to take a whole bunch of potassium (which honestly does work well).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Parental Visit

I'm writing this assuming that my parents don't know that I work out my thoughts (read: whine) about them on this blog. If they discover it well then I'll look at it as an opportunity (at least I'm going to try to look at it that way.

Tonight I'm flying up to Seattle to visit for the weekend. It will be good to see them, but what's a parental visit without an agenda? My mission is easy to describe but will be nigh "impossible" (sorry) to achieve. (This message will self destruct in 5 seconds by the way.) Try to find out just why it is so hard for Dad to accept our help.

Now Dad and I have had this conversation before in various forms
- he says he's a fierce (I would say strident) individualist and has always had to do things himself.
- my response, that I've blogged about before, was, I think you've achieve plenty, why not let someone else do the work now.

The real thing that I need to find out about is what is he so terrified of? he's so resistant to change. He seems terrified that we're going to put him in his father's rest home. Never mind that his father's rest home may not really exist anymore and their are much better choices available these days. There are some really vibrant senior communities out there and we've showed him some.

This is delicate, but if I can get him by himself I may be able to find out. Is money an issue? On paper, it doesn't look like it but it would also require making the decision to draw down funds that they've saved. For Depression Era kids this is a horrible choice. Never mind that they have the money and that all of the children say go ahead and spend the money. It could very well be that they don't think they have it. University House is very nice and very expensive.

Anne encourages me to try to find out how they see the future. That will be another question that is terrifying for them. My father's health is ok, but iffy. My mother is physically fragile, but otherwise is in fine health. (Oh, she's going to try to kill me if she finds out I'm writing this publically - I could tell her to look on the bright side that I'm not David Sedaris, but she wouldn't get it.) This is actually quite a dilemma. My mother needs care and an attendant and my father doesn't want to hire one past a family friend who really doesn't want the job. If my mother falls she could be permanently hospitalized. With an attendant, my mother could live quite a fulfilling life. My father is no doubt aware of this yet still thinks he can take care of her. He doesn't seem to think hiring an attendant is a lot cheaper than the medical bills if she goes into a hospital never to come out.

Such grim topics.

Maybe I should take a different tack.
How do they want to live their lives? I have to be willing to hear this without putting my own agenda on it. If they truly want to sit in front of the TV for the rest of their lives, then that has to be ok with me. If they want something else then it's my job to help make that happen.

So it's:
- What do you need?
- What do you want that you're not getting now?
- How can I help make that happen?

Nice iPod,, Niiiice iPod, There, There.

I was listening to a Stephanie Miller radio show where they were talking about the iPod Nano that exploded in an Atlanta airport employees pocket. (Likely from a Lithium Ion Battery).

They then did this really fun skit of the iPod criticizing the guy's taste in music and while I found it really funny, I was a little uncomfortable as I was listening to it in my car via a podcast via a, you guessed it, iPod Nano.

I wish I could feed it a treat or something else to keep it happy. Given some of the awful audio books (many good, some really terrible) it's had to play, it's a wonder that my truck hasn't had an unexplainable meltdown.

Which of course brings up...
I'm leaving today to go to Seattle to visit my parents. It's only for a weekend so checking a bag makes no sense, so I'm trying to figure out what I can and can't take.

Now in all fairness the rules have gotten more sane since the last terrorist scare and can be found here:

Potientally explosive devices that I can take on board
- iPod
- Cell Phone (though it does have to be off)
- Electronic Game Console (don't have one)
- Laptop (not taking one anyway)

Completely benign things that I can't carry past security but that I'm welcome to buy on the other side of security (bloody capitalists.)
- water
- gatorade
- a toothpaste tube over 4 oz (try finding Tom's of Maine in a small size)
- hairspray (just try to find a tiny one - I'm sure there's on on the other side of the security gate)

I'm going to try to repackage the toothpaste in to a small REI container as other toothpastes give me a headache. The web site specifies that the container has to be under 3 oz. and they don't say it has to be commercial. I'll put a label on it that says 1 oz.
I'm giving up on the hairspray.

Potentially dangerous things that I can bring on
- safety razor
- huge Harry Potter book that could knock anyone out and likely stop a bullet

Nearly entirely safe items that you can't bring on
- nail clippers (not true any more)

And of course there's no shortage of potential weapons that are built into the aircraft itself (seat tray support anyone? You didn't hear it here.) But I'm not going there as I just want to read my book in peace.

Whine as I might this is all pretty ironic since TSA at Oakland is really nice. I even know one of the employees there as she used to be a neighbor. They have an impossible job of enforcing federal rules that often make no sense, and still manage to survive.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Out Danced by a Bird

There's a dog competition that I don't compete in called Freestyle which involves dancing with your dog. Maybe there should be a bird version though you'd have to tolerate being out danced by the bird. At least I sure would be:

Auto-Generated Web Sites can be Very Surreal

I'm sure you've seen such sites. They're sites that are usually based on a typo in the domain name or a mistaken assumption about it. There is a series of photos on them in a template and the words in every link are search terms. In other words, it's not a site at all, and I'm really not sure what the point of them is as there usually is no advertising on it either, Maybe a hostile web site or something. I should check closer when I'm on a Mac or Linux system. Actually, it's probably just to "park" the site in hopes that they can extort some money out of the company it should belong to (Wanna buy our domain name? It's only ...").

Anyway these sites since they are pretty much just keyword based and generated on the fly as far as I can tell, lead to some really weird keyword juxtapositioning. (Blogger claims that juxtapositioning is not a word. Well I think it should be.) These sites are dressed up to look like business sites so you're really not expecting pornography embedded in the text amongst these folks all dressed up in business drag. (Or maybe you are and I'm just being naive.)

I needed to order some more Redbarn treats for my dogs, so I being lazy just typed in into my browser, and that back of my brain said "you know that sort of sounds like a porn site." Well it wasn't a porn site, but it sure had links to some (no pictures fortunately) If you'd like to take a peek it's pretty funny, but just remember you have been warned about the colorful language on it.

For the record, Redbarn Premium Pet Products is at: and you can just bet that that other site irks them no end.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Mike Malloy Drinking Game

Terri is in the habit of listening to Air America radio (and the like) on our local radio station which used to be called the Quake and now goes by "Green 960." So I tend to absorb a lot via osmosis (ok it's more than that :). anyway before they switched the schedule all around, Mike Malloy was on in the evening, and over time I semi-consciously noted his penchant for using particular colorful phrases. Then I started paying closer attention and have over time come up with a drinking game (since I no longer drink so this is how I amuse myself I guess.)

Anyway Malloy's show got moved to later in the evening and I didn't think too much about it again but I'm up late and he's on so I should write this down as it still is taking up room in my head.

The Mike Malloy Drinking Game

- A goodly amount of beer (perhaps Mexican to go well with Tequila)
- Either bottled or in mugs or steins
- A shot glass with Tequila in it
- More Tequila
- Friends who want to fry some brain cells
- A radio within range of Mike Malloy's show or a computer on the internet

Sit down at a table that is not valuable and tune into the Mike Malloy show.
(I don't know why this big space is here - page down)

If Mike says this:
Do this:
Rat Bastard
Drink 2x
Flithy Rat Bastard
Drink 3x
God Damn
Drink 2x
Bush Crime Family
This is a toast
Stand up, glass in the air
"To Da Family!" Drink
Oh God
Oh My God
"Oh. My. God."
Shot of Tequila
Slam glass down on table
Sigh heavy sigh
then drown your sorrow in drink

I could go on, but by this time you're on the floor.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Wireless Networking Setup

Warning this is a geeky entry, so I can remember what I just did. Just skip if you don't ever do wireless networking.

Semi-Advanced Home Wireless Networking

At home we have a basic wired network and it's been bugging me that I haven't taken the time to learn wireless thoroughly. I did borrow a wireless router from a friend and just did a basic setup, but I've since gotten a wireless router from Freecycle of all places, and ordered a wireless network adapter from Amazon, and borrowed a laptop from work.

The atypical thing that I wanted to do was to have the wireless router connected to the main router instead of directly connected to the internet. The Linksys router I have I know well and am happy with its configuration. This one, while a good name is one that I just wanted to serve the wireless network and not have to worry about whether it was leaking information I didn't want it to onto the internet.

Router |

-- wired network with static IP addresses
(For the wireless router - use the "Internet" connection)
.. wireless DHCP network

(For the wireless router to the Laptop use wireless network)
(The LAN side of the wireless router is not used except temporarily.)

This all had to be done as an advanced setup.
The first mistake I made was to not give the "..." network a different set of IP numbers. Basically each "side" of a router needs a different network numbers.

Wireless setup is something of a chicken/egg problem as the defaults of the router do not play well with this sort of architecture.

First you have to connect it to a wired network to do the initial setup.
Hassle #1 was that this router and my current router both use the same default IP address, so I had to have a computer off the network connect to the wireless router to give it a different IP address.

- Plug in and turn on the router
- Set the laptop to use DHCP (Assign me an IP address)
- Connect the laptop to the router via the LAN ethernet connection (this is temporary until we can change some settings away from the defaults that don't allow us to use other ways to connect to it.)
- On the laptop, start a browser and type and with any luck the router interface will appear
- Give it the default name and password (you will change this later). the URL may change to some special routerlogin URL, but you don't have to remember it. (They do this to make it look easier, but I find it just makes it harder).
- If things don't work at this point you may need to reset the router to its default settings (especially if you got it used like I did. There's usually a recessed button that you have to hold down for a few seconds for that to happen.

Things to change
- Change the IP address network numbers of the router's Internet connection to match the wired network's. This is confusing as the inetnet side of the wireless router is really just the regular internal network. Make sure you tell it the gateway is the other router's internal IP.
- Turn on remote administration and restrict it to the wired network's IP. (This one runs on port 8080 but that's usually changable.)
- Change the administrator password

Wireless Settings
- Change the SSID to something different than the default
- I do leave SSID broadcast on initially for set up but if you like you can eventually turn it off but only after you're completely done.
- Important! Turn on encryption - at least WEP. (Yes WEP is breakable, but generally you just want to be a less tempting target than your neighbor.)
- Important! Use a long, non-obvious pass phrase. The longer it is (think a sentence with spaces) the better. For example since I named my network after my dog who thinks he's an under-employed watchdog, passphrases that I considered were "to protect and serve" and then I thought better of it and nearly chose "to overprotect and serve" (I eventually chose something else entirely.)
- Set up the wireless router's internal IP and its DHCP to be different than the wired networks. E.g. if the wired network uses 10.0.0.x then use 10.0.1.x or 10.1.1,x, and restrict the number of IPs to be served to just a few.
- Consider turning on logging

Logout of the router setup.

(There may be something else I'm forgetting here.)

First test the remote administration from the wired network.
- Move the ethernet connection to being between the Internet side of the wireless router and the LAN side of the regular router.
- Power cycle the router
- On the wired network see if you can reach the router by typing in a browser window http://wire.less.ip.address:8080
- If it doesn't work you'll have to backtrack by plugging in the laptop to the LAN side of the wireless router (disconnecting the wireless router from the main router)

- Connect the wireless network adaptor (disconnect any ethernet cable)
- Install any driver software that it came with
- Restart or power cycle the laptop
- Open the wireless utility program that the adaptor came with
- You should see your SSID listed (among others possibly)
- Tell it to connect and tell it that it's an encrypted connection and give it the pass phrase.
- With any luck it will connect.

- Check if the network settings of the laptop are still set to DHCP and see if the assigned IP address is in the range that you configured the wireless router to serve.

- If the network IP seems correct, then start up a browser and see if you can get to the internet. Make sure the browser doesn't have any proxy settings in place. It should be set to direct connection to the internet. If you're using proxies you likely don't need to be reading this anyway as you probably already know what you're doing.

If you can connect to the internet you're done. You might have a friend wander by with a different wireless laptop to see if he or she can connect. Hopefully they won't be able to.

The Disingenuous GOP

While I was at the auto mechanics, I watched CNN. I don't have cable at home so tend to get glued to cable TV when I'm out and about - I have cable internet and basic cable, and for a month they gave me "expanded" cable which included CNN, Animal Planet, The History Channel, Discovery Channel, and a bunch of other things. After a month, I begged then to take it away so I could leave the house and resume life. I decided to refrain from the slippery slip of getting TiVo as well so I could pretend to have a life. Anyway back to CNN...

Sure enough after announcing that Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize, they asked a conservative spokesperson (I don't have a ref - sorry) for a reaction and she gave the usual "We don't think [global warming] has been proven" the commentator said that most, if not all, scientists were in agreement that it exists. Then it became this "Well we don't think it's been proven that it's human caused" and the usual backpedaling a la: don't cross this line, ok don't cross this line.

This is all stuff we've seen before but only what I'm now noticing is that there is this tendancy of GOP to ask a bunch of questions (justified or not), wait a little bit and then innocently say something along the lines of: "Look there are still questions about X, so we don't think X is proven" That's disingenuous, a word whose full meaning I'm just really learning and they're helping me learn it all the better. Well sure there are questions, if you're the one making up the questions. Why not just come out and say? "We don't want to hear this so we're just going to make something up to discredit the messenger." They seem so uninterested in what the actual truth might be. they have their opinion and they're going to jam the data to fit their opinion. Everyone is guilty of doing this at some point in time. They just seem to excel at it.

The Hair Dye Debate

Ok, I should call it my hair dye debate. This is a self indulgent topic but what's a blog if not self indulgent? True to form in my family (well not my father) my hair is somewhat prematurely greying. I swore I would never dye it as honestly I like how it's growing in in this interesting salt and pepper way that I've admired in other women and is an effect that some women pay a lot of money for.

But there's something I didn't count on and I have very mixed feelings about it. The grey makes me look a little older than I am (I'm mid forties), and it's been interesting to how people respond to it. Because I'm very active I seem to become this odd icon to some folks. (Wow look what she can do.) And people who are older than me make comments about how aging is just no fun. That's true and I'm happy that they feel comfortable making such comments (this does not count friends - friends are welcome to say whatever they like - this is just people I encounter in passing.), but I feel like an impostor of sorts.

The reason that I feel like an imposter is that I'm likely not as old as they are, and since my MS symptoms are in remission, I feel the best I've felt in years.

So hence the hair dye debate. I'm just wondering it it's the color that they're responding to. I bought a color rinse some months back and it's just sat on the shelf. I did at least read the directions and it looked just enough of a hassle that I haven't done anything about it.

However I've noticed something else. Up until recently I was very heat sensitive, and have built up quite the collection of white shirts. I was noticing the other day that the white shirts often "bring out" the grey in my hair and if I instead wear a red shirt that more tends to pick up the red in my face and the red highlights in my hair, and it seems to have a much larger effect than hair color. I wonder if I wore a color that is near the color of the brown in my hair though I generally don't look good in brown.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Health Care

I know it's not very workable with our current goverment and economy, but I really think that we get into a lot of conflict of interests by having health care as a for profit business. I'm not talking about doctors and nurses and every one else who participates in the service of actually giving the care, but more the insurance companies and those other middle companies.

It's in the insurance company's best intest for the care provider to give the least costly amount of care, which is not necessarily in the patient's best interest at all. So we find ourselves in this constant tussle.

Shouldn't the higher responsibility be to take care of the population rather than allowing certain companies to make money off of it by standing in the middle?

It will be interesting to see what Ahnold comes up with as a compromise measure by requiring the insurance companies to put X% of their profits (or gross? - not sure yet) back towards patient care.

Draft Gore?

[I'm waiting for my truck's oil to be changed and they made the mistake of allowing me a computer with internet access.]

There's a growing campaign to pressure Al Gore into running for President and with his winning the Nobel Peace Prize (wow!) that pressure is likely to increase dramatically. I'm likely to concur, but honestly he's been doing an excellent job without the (er) distraction of being president.

If we can get him to be an advisory to who ever the president becomes (I'm hoping Clinton or Obama), that might work, but I hear rumors that Clinton and Gore just don't get along well (update from KCBS: they said they've put it behind them), but I think that's something they're just going to have to work through. We need Gore and his perspective in the next Democratic administration.

By the way if you've never seen An Inconvenient Truth I highly recommend it. It's a science lecture, not a policital speech. His scientific data is solid.

RPM Indoor Cycling - new choreography

I had earlier noted that the Les Mills RPM Indoor Cycling fitness class routine was great for interval training but not so good at training for seated climbing. I take it back now.

Every 3 months they change the music and the "choreography" and what they're working on, and it changed at the beginning of Oct. I'd been laying off of class because of my foot, but now that a agility friend who's a podiatrist told me that it was likely a Ganglion Cyst I'm not so concerned about it (though I will have it aspirated), so I've started back on class.

This is the second time I've done this routine in RPM and the first time I was pushing. Wow. There were two songs that focused on mostly seated climbing with the occasional stand in the pedals. While the class is not nearly long enough to truly train for extended seated climbing, it's great at letting you know which muscles you will be using (and is a great start in conditioning them.)

Bryce was subbing for Amelia tonight and I asked her if she was going to be also teaching her regularly scheduled BodyPump weightlifting class and she said yes and asked if I was coming. I said that I was hesitant to do so after an RPM class and she said it was hard, but implied it was doable. I asked if it was ok if I did half of it and she said that was fine.

So I did and surprised myself by lasting through all of the lifting part (about 2/3 of the class) and left at the stretching portion. BodyPump is an easier class for me since I was deliberately using a lighter weight and it's not very aerobic compared. If I have time doing both classes might be a good thing for me to do every so often. I've done the reverse of BodyPump and them RPM and that seemed harded but I hadn't done BodyPump before. The only downside is that I get home late and it takes me a while to unwind enough to sleep.

I was hoping to ride outside this weekend, but it's raining so that may not happen (along with Trek's agility class).

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Less Predatory Lending?

Far be it for my mailbox to have its finger on the pulse of national trends, but soon after I posted a lengthy analysis here and here (ok it was really a ranting diatribe) of a predatory lending offer I'd received, they all but disappeared and it's not like they're reading this blog. Clearly the bottom has dropped out of the market for taking advantage of people this way and the low life con artists have moved on to whatever the white collar equivalent of stealing copper vases from cemeteries is. (Seriously - how do they live with themselves?).

In recent weeks, I have received precisely one refi offer and it was completely legit. It quoted the public record of my house and who my lender is and the loan amount and then said if you're interested in refinancing this loan, please contact us. That's it. No promises of anything - no riches, no fortune, no fame - I felt gyped - what IS the world coming to? There wasn't even anything written on the back of the letter. I should have taken note of the company to see if their message ever changes.

And it might very well change back. Interest rates have dropped a little (I should have a reference but I don't and you've no doubt heard), but at the same time there is more interest in prosecuting Predatory Lendors. Apparently, the prosecution of these lendors has fallen through the cracks as former fed demi-god Alan Greenspan thought it was a State issue and the states were saying Gee that sounds an awful lot like a Federal issue. (I heard this in a Terry Gross Fresh Air interview). Sounds like a federal issue to me as it's too easy for these low lifes to cross state boundaries.

Even the spam trap that I manage at work doesn't have the usual refi offers. We're now back to Viagra, enlargment promises, meet the woman of your dreams, porn, Nigerian advance fee scams, and get rich quick schemes. I miss the variety in a way (not really).

Wonder what the next big con will be?

You Mean Turkey Could End the War? Really?

[This Blog's 100th post!]

Dems have been struggling to find a way to get us out of Iraq, and have been stymied as most of the solutions include cutting off the funding which might adversely impact those being shot at.

I do believe another opportunity has arisen. Let's let Turkey do it.


Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday that good relations with Turkey are vital because 70 percent of the air cargo intended for U.S. forces in Iraq and 30 percent of the fuel consumed by those forces fly through Turkey.
So Turkey by having a juvenile tantrum (don't you love how mature politics is?) over history correctly calling the slaughter of one million Armenians: Genocide, may just make it impossible for the U.S. Administration to continue this refereeing of a Iraqi civil war - one which the participants hate the referee. How's that for a back door solution? It probably will never work but one can always hope.

Ironically I must admit that the first time that I hear about this genocide beyond a textbook was in The Amazing Race when Mirna mentioned it after seeing the Holocast Memorial at Auschwitz.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


It rained here in the Bay Area and that usually means snow in the mountains.

Yep. Ya hoo. Check out the Sugarbowl web cams:
Certainly not skiable, but heck it's only Oct 10th! Can't wait.
I just got email saying that Whistler BC is already skiable. My, my, my.

I checked the Mount Shasta cams located at and at Sure enough, all I see is a cloud.

Guess I should sign up for that Telemark class that I want to take in Feb '08 from Alpine Skills international.

Les Mills workout classes: Auckland Invades and it's Glorious

As I've written before, my gym (Bladium) participates in the Les Mills group workout classes. This is not your mother's Jazzercise. The Les Mills company develops innovative ways to help people work out more effectively and have more fun doing it (maybe I should market for them, but they do just fine on their own. Checkout out the info page on the company - the video alone makes you want to jump in.)

The class I got Terri to was Body Pump which is a group weight workout class. It's not as over the top as the indoor cycling RPM class that I'm so hooked on, but it's more what she's looking for as a good general fitness class. I like the class as I really don't like making the time to lift weights and yet weightlifting is pretty critical to truly staying in shape (even if you're in great aerobic condition.) Doing the class helps as there's music, an instructor/trainer, and other motivated participants all of which make it work better for me.

I was thinking that it's so important for the elderly to do some resistance based workout that I wonder if they could make a specialized version for seniors. Terri pointed out that while Baby Boomers won't have a problem with such a concept, it will likely continue to be a hard sell to current elderly women as it's way outside their normal realm of experience. (Sweating and pushing weight around is so unladylike ya know?) But with Boomers aging that is destined to change and someone on KFOG (who was probably quoting someone else) said "60 is the new 40." And I continue to say "Age is attitude."

Back to the class. I talked for a little while to Bryce who was the instructor this time as I'm wondering if the weight workout in Body Pump would be enough to get in shape for skiing this winter. She said that Body Pump combined with RPM (which she remembers me from) should get one in fine shape for skiing. I'm not sure if mountaineering trainer Courtenay of Body Results would agree, but she could probably suggest some supplementary exercises if she thought that was necessary.

I find it pretty funny that a major contributer to many Americans fitness is from Auckland, NZ. We export McDonald's (I refuse to put a ref in for it :) and obesity and they export the Les Mills and fitness. I love the irony.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

BiFriendly: Are We Still Relevant? Should We Even Worry About It?

BiFriendly is a social group for bisexuals and their friends that's been around since 1987 and I've run it since 1992. During that time we've seen so much grow and change with the bi community and with the entire GLBT community and especially with the attitudes of the country towards queers.

Attendance at our events is highly varied. Our monthly coffeehouse gathering is at times only 3 people, but in the past has been more than 25 people (at which point it becomes unmanageable as no one can hear.) I've been noticing that over the past couple of years our numbers have remained consistently small and I've been trying to figure this out.

It used to be that folks were desperate to meet another bisexual face to face. To know that they weren't crazy and that such people, not only existed, but thrived. These days that doesn't seem to be quite the burning issue it once was (at least in the Bay Area which is admittedly a bubble) People still struggle but they have so many more resources available on the internet, and younger bi's especially don't seem to need us.

But the evidence still gives me pause. When I look at the statistics, the number one page accessed on my web site ( is BiFriendly's page, by about double. There's certainly some traffic to the dog's training blog and there's a little here (a scary concept I must admit), but clearly people out there are still looking for something. It's possible that they just go to the BiFriendly web page and then sign up for the bi chat and events list and that's it. But I always list the events on BABN's event list and I don't see many new folks from there (though plenty of regulars use it).

Anyway, last night we had our monthly meeting and there were 4 of us. We mostly talked about politics, and this "Are we still relevant issue?"

The reason for the "Should we even care?" subtitle is that we all enjoy each other's company and we will have a nice time regardless if someone else attends. And regulars always seem to appear and surprise us.

I've been experimenting with listing us in various places online. I tried Craigslist Event list, and David tried the Squidlist. Both yielded zip. Next month I think I'll do myspace and tribe. has been suggested as well. Jim also suggested a fee based service, but I think I want to exhaust the plethora of free listings first.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Re: Senator Larry Craig - Maybe We Should Take the High Road

First of all, Wombats wanting to check my blog entry on the 20th anniversary Wombats ride should page down to "Baby's First Wombats Ride."

So I've been thinking (sorry) While I and most queer-friendly folks have been enjoying watching Senator Larry Craig slowly roast himself over a pit of open homophobic hypocrisy, it doesn't quite feel right to let him be burned by a practice he would no doubt support if it wasn't him. I'm of course talking about entrapment. (I should put a reference in here but I'm too lazy to do so right now.)

Sen. Larry Craig entered a Minn. Airport restroom and started giving old school middle age closeted gay male pick up signals to a plain clothes cop. All Senator Craig did was make eye contact, tap his feet, and wiggle his fingers. What I'm unhappy about is the cop returned the signals, and then arrested Sen. Craig when he escalated the signaling. To me that's obvious entrapment as Sen Craig would not have escalated the signals if the cop had not signaled interest.

Sen Craig was arrested for Lewd Conduct. For wiggling fingers? Please. Yes, he's a creepy and hypocritical lowlife, but he did nothing wrong. Wouldn't it be ironic if we started to support him, instead of standing by watching GOP eat itself (it's doing that anyway). Besides if a bunch of Lefties stood up for him, wouldn't that not only completely gall him, but it might just kill any reelection chances he has (never mind he has no reelection chances).

For no other reason, let's take the high road as the most hateful thing about Sen. Craig is his hypocrisy and we don't want to fall into the same stinking cesspool.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Baby's First Wombats Ride

Even though I've been throughly occupied with Dog Sports for years now I've been missing my mountain biking excursions a lot. So, now begins a new adventure. (Oh and the dogs aren't going to let me even consider stopping doing dog sports even if I was tempted to. :)

On Saturday the 6th I attended the Wombats (Women's Mountain Bike and Tea Society) 20th Anniversary ride and potluck and I had a fabulous time meeting some really neat engaging folks (mostly women, but some men too).

It was held in Deer Park in Fairfax, which has some lovely, albeit busy, multiuse fireroads trails. On the ride, I learned how specific muscles are used differently in each form of exercise, in this case mountain bike climbing vs. indoor cycling (spinning or "RPM") class at the gym. In spin class, I excel, and get a great workout from it. On the mountain bike ride (and the previous ride I took) I found myself walking up the steeper hills. Fortunately, I knew from my Redwood Park ride when I wore a heart rate monitor, that pushing a bike uphill is excellent aerobic exercise and there's no shame in it (especially if you're pushing at a good clip.) What's interesting is that I am in great aerobic shape and I just need to get my leg endurance to keep up with me (this is true for skiing also.) I was never out of breath on the hills.

Another thing that will help is to just do a lot of one the road climbing (like Mt. Diablo and the like - maybe I'll just start with Snake Road as it has less traffic.) I really like the newer Fisher's lower gearing. When I was on the road and climbing I could gear it so low that I never needed to stop (in Mountaineering parlance this is the equivalent of the "Rest Step" - you're resting in between steps.) Off road you have to be more careful as the ground is uneven and you could fall over at 1 mph - which I've done on numerous occasions.

It also gave me some good ideas on how to use the spinning bike to help train for hill climbing. Mostly it has to do with increasing the resistance and sitting down (and staying there) and getting used to the constant drain on your legs - the classes are great at interval training and learning how to stand and stay up on the pedals, but not as good at the sitting down and toughing it out - though the new RPM routine appears to be intended to address that. And, as usual, I need to do more weight workout on my hamstrings

Jacquie also suggested going downhill with my pedals level. I said that I was more the type to keed shifting them around (according to the direction of the turn and she said that was fine as long as there was some weight on the upper pedal (there is but it's good to keep that in mind.)

Fun Jacquie challenges were:
  • - Can you ride through the narrow trail divider opening? In a bike like mine where I've added bar ends, you usually have to go super slow, grab the fence upright and turn the front wheel handlebars enough to clear it.
  • - Can you do a u-turn on a fireroad. Usually, though I'm still learning this bike critter so I'm not that smooth at it.
  • - Optional but very fun. Can you ride over a row of sawn tree stump sections that have been lined up in a row? This is where I got my requist silly injury with a good story (see previous entry for much too much into on that), as I did fall over the first time I tried it and skinned my knee (it's fine now) the next two tries where more successful but I stopped there as we were starting to fall behind the others.
  • - And the one I passed on. Can you, while riding, smell the small bit of interesting, aromatic plant that Jacquie has just picked (also while riding)?
I still need to get used to clipless pedals offroad (I'm find with them on road), so I did spend a fair bit of time not in the clips. I spent years using toe clips so this is really going to take some adjustment.

Heather was nice enough to sell me her Marin County Bike Coalition map of the area (she works there and can get another one.) The route we took was:
  • - Deer Park Rd (dirt)
  • - Shaver Grade (dirt)
  • - Oaks Rd (asphalt - passing Bon Tempe Lake)
  • - Lake Lagunitas (dirt - road around the Lake)
  • - and return the same way (I think)
I sold my bike computers when I sold my bikes to get this bike so I have no idea how far it was, but it wasn't terribly far, but it was a series of nice climbs. And as you might expect, "mellow" is a relative term. :)

Then there was a fabulous potluck afterward where we drank tea, and at yummy cheeses and decadent deserts. I discovered that Nancy is also a skiier and she says that several Wombats are too (some downhill, some cross country). I think a Wombats trip to Sugarbowl is in order once it really starts to snow and I'd be happy to help organize it.

Names I remember are:
Jacquie (of course)
Donna (who came later and regrettably I have no photos of her)

and some others whose names I'm spacing on and hope they will remind me of them.

I also took pictures and you can see them and also a video of Jacquie talking about appearing on a DVD discussing the fine art of cooking with "gleaned" ingredients AKA The Fine Art of Dumpster Diving. The web page is here:

Friday, October 05, 2007

Well, At Least I get a Good Story Out of It

In the past couple of days conversations about getting hurt in really dumb, unexciting ways have come up. Things like tripping on a stair and spraining an ankle or yanking on a heavy package and tearing a rotator cuff.

It occurred to me that I get hurt in the same silly ways, but I seem to be better at picking the setting and hence get a decent story out of it.

Things like (why don't the bullets show up in this format I wonder?):
  • - falling down embankments on a mountain bike (multiple times)
  • - doing the above and having to climb back up using poison oak vines with predictable results
  • - crashing on a mountain bike, passing out, coming to finding myself helmet in hand, walking the bike, in the middle of a conversation with two hikers I had passed a little while back. This was seriously disconcerting to me that I had no idea what I had said - who's running the show here anyway?
  • - continuing on, after convincing the above hikers that I was fit enough to drive, I cleaned up, and then got in the car to drive back home only to realize that I was starting to go into shock. I rolled down the windows, played and sang to the radio, but that just bought me time and this is before the days of cell phones, so I struggled to make it to a gas station where I was able to use a pay phone to call my partner at the time who came and got me and took me to the Urgent Care center. Turned out I had a concussion and a somewhat banged up knee.
  • - last week I took my new bike out and managed to do a nice 1 mph tumble down and embankment, had the bike fall on me, and opened up my chin which then proceeded to bleed for 6 hours More info here.
Ok so mountain biking is risky, so how about hiking and running?
  • - insects and other crawly things sometimes seem to have it out for me. Three separate times I've had a bee, yellowjacket, and I think spider land on me and instantly sting or bite me. 2 of those times, I was out on a hike, several miles out. with a swelling hand or arm, and wondering what was going to happen next. (Fortunately the most severe reaction was an infection and it was the one time I was near civilization.)
  • - on a run on Mt. Tam I was feeling great and was just following along on what I thought was the trail and took a wrong path and found myself part way up a ridge instead of on the fire road below. Turning around and retracing my steps would have been the prudent thing to do but oh no I decided that I could just parallel the fireroad and work my way back down to it. This went fine until I got almost back to the road and then slipped down a very short steep embankment. The net effect was that I burst out of the shrubbery rolling and crashed hard on the road, and opened up a really nice gash on my knee. Then I had to walk a mile back to the car and then I had to drive to where my cell phone would work. Got the ok to got to the Emergency Room and after contemplating the long wait times at other hospitals drove myself back home and went to Alameda Hospital who tries to see people within 30 minutes. In my case they saw me nearly immediately, and proceeded to pull out lots of flora out of my knee, and gave me lots of stitches.
  • - I seem to have this cat-like love of climbing up things and not being able to get down in a smooth way. Actually, that's not quite correct as I'm really good at downclimbing things that I've climbed. Where I get into trouble is steep, slick, gravely fireroads that we have here. I charge up them and then can't get down without slipping which is really annoying, irksome and not fun when I do slip (even with trekking poles). I'm still trying to figure this one out.
Then there's agility, which soon after I started seriously competing I was diagnosed with MS and was having balance issues then. I had many dramatic falls though fortunately nothing very serious. Now that I'm no longer having MS issues, hopefully I will have fewer agility misadventures. (Well one can always hope.)

And there were many horse and tree related falls when I was much younger. Believe it or not so far I've never broken a bone and hope to keep it that way.

And guess what I'm doing Saturday? Going on a mountain bike ride. :)

Actually it's my first "WOMBATS" ride (Women's Mountain Biking And Tea Society) and it's supposed to be a mellow ride. But we are talking about a group led by Jacquie Phelan who raced mountain bikes for years, so I'll have to see what that means.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fall Down Go Boom

Sort of. Took my new bike out for a ride and while I was getting ready a little voice (who is usually very wise and it's very risky to ignore it) suggested I wear tights instead of just my bike shorts. Glad I did.

I was riding in Redwood part up Dunn/Graham Trail where in a steep section, I fell over at 1mph and pitched headfirst into a lurking ditch - bike cleats a factor - proximal ditches too.) What was weird is that I had just seen CSI two days before and found myself similarly stuck under something (in my case a bike) having trouble getting out (though I did so eventually). I was glad for the tights as part of what I crashed on had thorns (berry I believe.)

I'm fine except for a cut under my chin that bled and bled all over my white shirt. Fortunately there was someone there to help me put something on the cut. So I was left pondering having to walk into the house with a shirt that looks like there's 1/2 a unit of blood on it on it. I had a towel in the truck so I put that over the bloody part and walked in and the first thing I said to Terri is "First of all I'm fine." She said "Well you look ok." Then I pulled the towel off the shirt. Her jaw dropped while mouthing OMG! To her credit she didn't panic. Oh and the bike is fine and I'm really glad that it's light. :) And it didn't even get a scratch (unlike me).

I was also wearing my heart rate monitor and I've discovered that pushing one's bike uphill is fabulous aerobic exercise and there's no shame in it.

Though I really should replace that helmet now.