My brother, Brent, is the Climbing Ranger at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. He makes an appearance in the recent climbing film First Ascent. I bought a copy as soon as it was available and love it. It’s a fantastic piece of work. You’ll enjoy it even if you have no clue what rock climbing is all about.
The soundtrack is fantastic, too. I found myself re-watching one particular segment repeatedly just to hear the music, How It Ends by DeVotchKa. Christopher gave me a Barnes and Noble gift card for Christmas. I used it to buy the CD.
With a little curious web-surfing, I discovered that DeVotchKa provided much of the music for the film Little Miss Sunshine recently released on DVD. Jenny and I watched it last night and thoroughly enjoyed it.
So, because of a vertical rescue my brother lead a couple of years ago, I enjoyed the movie Little Miss Sunshine that I would never have given a second glance. He may have never heard of it, himself.
It was a quiet summer on the weblog, but a busy one in the real world.
Back at the beginning of June, I said Ironman is "a feat I may never attempt." But that didn't stop Jenny and I from registering for Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2006 the day after Ironman 2005. Since then, we've been planning and preparing. Swimming is new to both of us so we've been spending a lot of time at the YMCA in the pool. A couple of weeks ago, I did my first 1-mile, non-stop swim in the pool. I also bought the bike Joe rode in Ironman CDA. So, step-by-step, we're getting ready.
In July, Jenny did her first triathlon, the Valley Girl. Completing it was a huge accomplishment for Jenny. She's always had a fear of the water, so by doing an open water swim in competition she defeated one of her demons.
She followed that up with the Coeur d'Alene Triathlon doing the bike leg on a team (the Hugh Jass Racing Team). I competed there as well in the Duathlon placing 13th overall, 7th among masters, 2nd in my age division (there were 4 of us), and received a first place division medal. Go figure. (The 1st place winner in my division was also 1st among all masters. So, he took that award leaving me the division medal.)
In September, Jenny competed in the Palouse Sprint Distance Triathlon. That was an experience. Up at 3AM, on the road by 4. The swim was in an outdoor, heated pool, but the air temperature was in the low 40s. It started raining while Jenny was swimming and didn't stop until she was running. Like most challenges, it was a lot of fun when completed, but not necessarily while competing.
The next day was the 26th annual Spokane Autumn Century. Jenny passed, having just completed a triathlon. I watched the weather, closely. After last year's wet cold start, I decided I'd hold out for the Tour de Lacs if the forecast was for rain.
The weather forecast kept improving. The radar image looked good before I left the house. Joe met me at the start, and we began with the expectation of perhaps a bit of drizzle but no significant rain.
By the time we got to Deer Park, we'd been riding in a steady cold rain since just after the start. Neither Joe nor I had dressed for constant rain. Joe had arrived at the park a few minutes ahead of me and was shaking uncontrollably, perhaps hypothermic. I called Jenny and asked her to pick me up in Deer Park. It didn't take much to convince Joe a ride home was saner than continuing in such dangerous conditions. We holed up in a Laundromat until she arrived.
The following weekend, Jenny and I did the
15th Annual Tour de Lacs
Given my experience in the Autumn Century, we prepared ourselves for
rain. And we did get rain for the first 20 miles, or so. The weather
improved and we had a fantastic ride. We signed up for the
route, normally 122 miles, but with a detour due to construction and the
trip from the finish to our hotel, I logged 128 miles for the day.
Jenny took a short cut from Plummer to Harrison on the Trail of the
Coeur d'Alenes giving her a total of about 114 miles. A triathlon the
weekend before, 40 miles of running during the week, a couple of nights
swimming at the YMCA, and a 30 mile bike ride 2 days prior left her
feeling a bit spent by the time we got to Plummer. Can you say,
The Tour de Lacs is a two-day event. We did the long route, 73 miles, the second day and we both finished feeling strong. It was definitely a better experience for us than last year and we're looking forward to riding it again in 2006.
Sometime in the week after the Tour de Lacs, my bike computer began behaving oddly, then reset itself. I was disappointed. It had between 9500 and 9600 miles on it and I'd wanted to watch it roll over to zero (not having enough digits to display 10,000). The bike has about 14,000 miles on it now the battery in the computer having died twice before.
It must have been all the rain, because the old battery tested good when I went to purchase a new one.
The really big event for us, though, was our first marathon. Last Saturday, we ran the St. George Marathon in St. George, Utah. We can't boast great times—in fact, we finished near the tail end of the pack. But we finished!
I'd been suffering from IT Band Syndrome for the 3 months prior to the race. My training plan fell apart when I reached 13 miles on my long runs. To top it off, I came down with a nasty cold just days before the event. My plan was to run until I couldn't run, walk until I couldn't walk, and crawl if necessary to finish. At about 12.5 miles when I couldn't run any longer, I knew I was in for a long, hot, day. Jenny caught me at the 23 mile mark and we finished together.
We're both looking forward to another marathon where we can start without illness and injury and run the full distance. We'll get that opportunity at Ironman CDA 2006 if not before.
My boss lives in St. George, Utah. So, the day after the marathon, he had us out geocaching. I'm not sure hiking on the steep hillsides and rocky washes was the ideal recovery plan, but we enjoyed ourselves.
We drove to St. George and back logging 2200 miles on the old Honda Accord wagon. It now has 227,000 miles on the odometer. When we pulled off the freeway, just 3 miles from home, I noticed some steam escape from under the hood. We had a cracked radiator that we had replaced this week. Thankfully, it didn't happen 1,000 miles from home.
With a lot of driving time on the trip, I had time to consider just why I'd chosen to drive instead of fly. Separation anxiety. I couldn't stand to leave my bike home, so we drove the entire distance with our bikes on the roof rack all for a 25 minute bike ride the day after the marathon.
Yes, we could have flown with the bikes, but the last time I took my bike on a flight, the TSA completely unpacked it, confiscated my chain lube (hazardous material!), and repacked the bike without allowing me to assist. I didn't want to go through that process with two bikes. And what kind of rental car will accommodate two bikes and their travel cases?
I suppose I could see a therapist about the separation anxiety, but the 25 minute bike ride was likely better therapy and less expensive. ;-)
They say Ironman takes 7 months of intensive training. So, we've got a short off-season. By Thanksgiving, we'll begin our Ironman training in earnest. Until then, we're going to enjoy a bit of down-time and less rigorous activity. Maybe.
The Ironman USA Coeur d'Alene triathlon is tomorrow and Jenny will be there, not as a competitor, but as a volunteer. Her job? Applying sunscreen to the athletes as the transition from the swim to the bicycle.
Jenny runs Bloomsday
Jenny ran Bloomsday again this year. My good friend, Tim Maher, and I rode our bikes from the Spokane Valley across town to the top of Doomsday Hill to watch for her.
She topped the hill all smiles, looking great. She’d been suffering from a strained tendon below her right knee. The doctor told her she better not run Bloomsday this year. Jenny thinks doctors should provide remedies, not advice, so she didn’t take any.
Racking up miles on the road less travelled
We just returned from another trip to Colorado. Dad’s shop is loaded to the gills with tools, books, electronics equipment, surveying instruments, and tons (literally) of his possessions. Mom needs the space cleared so she can rent the shop out. That means separating items we want to haul back to Spokane, some to keep and some to dispose of on eBay, items for a local auction, and the rest to the landfill.
Dad passed away six months ago. It was our first trip back since his funeral. Mom was happy to see us and had plenty for us to do around her apartment: fixing blinds, hanging mirrors and pictures, and such. Truth be told, I think having our company and helping with the minor tasks were much more important to her than cleaning out the shop. So that job never got done. We barely made a dent in it. Which means another trip, soon.
I had a miserable cold that hit me as soon as we arrived in Grand Junction and stayed with me until the day we left. That dampened my enthusiasm for the shop cleaning project, otherwise I might have pushed harder to get the job done while we were there.
Still, it was a wonderful trip with a long list of highlights.
On the way, we spent a night with my best friend from high school, Vince Baiamonte, and his wife, Barbara, in Rexburg, Idaho. We had a great time catching up, sharing dinner and breakfast the next morning, and refreshing some nearly forgotten memories.
Bob Somrak took us out to dinner at Zack’s Barbecue in Hotchkiss. We had a good visit. Bob has added many new pictures to his website. When we got back to Grand Junction, I set up a link on Mom’s computer for her. She and Jenny spent an hour browsing the site and trying to decide on their favorite photos.
We stayed at the Bross Hotel in my home town of Paonia, Colorado one night. The historic Bross Hotel, built in 1906, has been restored as a Bed and Breakfast. It was a run down, low rent, eye sore when I was growing up in Paonia. Now it is a marvelous piece of living history. And breakfast was fantastic. Linda served, among other things, Baked French Toast. It had a flavor and texture that reminded me of a really good bread pudding and was topped with a pecan sauce like a sticky bun.
On the return trip, we spent a night with Russell and Sueli Durtschi. Russell and I worked together at Computerland of Orem for several years in the 1980s. We spent a summer mountain biking together, including a trip to the top of Mount Timpanogos! The Durtschis have some wonderful kids, Rafael and Melissa. Rafael was a first class gentleman. Melissa, 9, reminded me of April at that age—a perfect angel.
The following morning, Russell lead us on a bike ride he called The Tour of Opulence. He lives in Spanish Fork, so we started there and rode to Hobble Creek Canyon and back hugging the base of the mountains. Folks with more money than God have erected some truly amazing monuments to ego along that route.
The normal route home is simply east on I-70, north on I-15, and west on I-90—endless hours of interstate broken only by the relatively short stretch of non-interstate between Green River and Spanish Fork, Utah. We departed from the normal rout and took a road less travelled when we reached Dillon, Montana. It was richly rewarding. From Dillon, we backtracked a couple of miles and took 278 west, then north to Missoula on US 93. Along the way, we stopped for an hour at Bannock State Park and wandered through the old abandoned buildings, visualizing life over 130 years ago.
We stopped for a picnic lunch at the Big Hole National Battlefield—such a beautiful, quiet place. It is difficult to imagine the violence that occurred there and eerie to stand that historic ground.
In addition to the bighorn sheep, we saw elk, deer, antelope, coyotes and several large crane or stork like birds. The birds were in the fields along I-15 in northern Idaho. I’ll have to do some research to see if I can discover what they were. If you know, drop me a note.
It was a great trip, and I’m actually looking forward to the next one. It will only take a couple more to put Jenny’s white, 1997 Honda Accord Wagon with the two bikes on top over the 200,000 mile mark.
Deli and Pizza Express
Our lunch plan was to go to a deli we’ve been regulars at since we moved to Spokane. We were going to take sandwiches to the park and enjoy a nice Spring day. The Deli and Pizza Express has been a regular part of our summer routine for years.
Tom always greets us as we walk in and starts making my favorite sandwich without asking—he knows what I’ll order: a Deli Avocado with Turkey. It’s not on the menu. It’s nice to have a place like that where the people know you and you feel you’re among friends. How are the kids doing? Has Jenny gotten you to cut down that tree in the back yard, yet, or are you still winning that battle?
The deli was all locked up. The equipment, signs, and furnishings were gone. We were just in there a week or two ago. No indication from Tom that it was coming to an end. We’ll miss Tom and the deli.
Bob Somrak’s photos
Bob Somrak has started a website featuring his photography. Bob and my father graduated from the Colorado School of Mines together. Dad had gone back to school when I was in grade school and graduated when I was about 10 years old. After he graduated, we moved to Paonia, Colorado, Bob's home town.
Bob is partly responsible for my interest in mathematics and computers. He stopped by the house often during my junior high and high school years. He and Dad included me in some fascinating discussions that motivated me to learn more.
Dad was a very private person and chose his friends carefully. Bob was at the top of a short list of people Dad truly loved and considered close friends.
Enjoy Bob's pictures. He lives in some truly beautiful country I sorely miss.
I’ve been reading Gödel, Escher, Bach (GEB). It is a book I’ve owned for many years. At least once before, I made an attempt to read it. It is not, however, a quick, easy read. There’s a certain amount of determination required. After having GEB on my bedside reading table for many months, occasionally thumbing through it reading random sections and admiring the Escher drawings, I’ve begun a front-to-back read in earnest.
One of the many gems I’ve discovered so far is Hofstadter’s Law:
It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.
Anyone in software development is intimately familiar with Hofstadter’s Law whether they know it by that name or not.
Jonathan Lundquist and I coined our own version of Hofstadter’s Law in an even tighter loop than Hofstadter’s. In fact, it addresses why things take longer. Let’s call it Marc and Jon’s Law:
Everything is harder than it is.
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