Sunday, December 27, 2009

Another Christmas Finnism

Playing "Christmas Carols ABCs." (This is a car game we play where you name something - in this case, Christmas Carols - that start with each letter of the alphabet.)

A: "A"
E: "Angles We Have Heard on High."
A: "B"
Me: "Baby, It's Cold Outside."
A: "C"
F: "Cram It All In There."

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Finnism

"I believe in Santa Clause 100 percent. The reindeer - eh - only about 50 percent."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Now, Back to Our Regular Programming

After taking a detour for a few posts to figure out my life for the next year I am returning to my standard format of discussing things that are really only of interest to me. Somehow I have managed to suck in some of you and you are all kind enough to feign interest and validate my existence.

Before I move completely on from "my life 2010" I ask you to go to the comments section of my previous post and read the anonymous comment "someone" left for me. "Someone" is not very good at hiding their identity and I appreciate that "somebody" took the time and effort to give me a big vote of confidence. "Someone" was under-appreciated in this respect. "Someone else" (me, for the easily confused) is a big dope.

OK - on to the other stuff.

The Holidays Can Suck My Balls

(These balls, not other balls.)

Ugh! I am so over the holidays! They really bring out the absolute worst in people - impatience, ignorance and insensitivity. Today alone I was almost run over twice in two separate parking lots as people raced to get a parking spot. Then, as I was waiting at the grocery store, I overheard a woman, after explaining that she was a ticket agent for Delta Airlines, say, "I know, I have to check in all those stressed out, terrible people." Nice attitude. Maybe if your company wasn't staffed by an inordinately high percentage of insensitive morons and led by a larger group of misfits who, when presented with a problem, can only come up with another fee to charge customers until we will have to pay for every sheet of toilet paper we use, those "terrible people" wouldn't be quite so stressed out. (But I digress.)

Earlier this week as I was again at the grocery store (I spend a lot of time at the grocery store) I see one of the "fabulous" mom's from the kids' school walking across the parking with her groceries being toted behind her by the bag boy (it's a free service to everyone - yes, it's fancy) walk right up to her gigantic EarthFucker 3000 (thanks RR) parked in -- the handicapped spot closest to the entrance. She had no sticker on her license plate and no tag on her mirror and is certainly more than capable of walking the same distance as other "folks." I just hate that.

I have had enough of shopping and I haven't even begun to wrap. Then there are all the people who are going to show up and all the activities we have to do with the kids. I was just settling into a nice routine and now it's all going to be disrupted so I can participate in some over commercialized event that is totally at odds with the true inspiration for "the season."

I just want these next couple of weeks to be over so we can do away with the completely unnecessary stress of shooting for perfection in every way. Doesn't anyone subscribe to my theory of marginal effectiveness? Here's hoping your holidays are marginal.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

2010 Is Going To Be "Interesting"

In my experience "interesting" is never a good thing. And so may go 2010, but it's only one year, right?

First off, I need to thank everyone who commented on my last post. Your encouragement, suggestions and feedback was very much appreciated.

I had a great talk with my sister over coffee today. She had some career planning questions for me which, surprisingly, I was apparently very helpful with. I know, right? "Those who can't do, teach." She also helped me clarify my plan for the year. I am going to make an effort to work the plan I outlined below. I have an idea for my first story, I just have to track the guy down, but I should be able to do that in January. So I am thinking that if I can find a unique event or person every couple of months and then write the story and market it, I will be happy with that.

This leaves me a lot of extra time which I will fill either looking for another job or actually working. What will I be doing? Well at this time I am thinking I would like to find a job working at a running store, bike store or someplace like REI. It might be Starbucks for all I know. I just need to get out of my house. Another opportunity might present itself as an architect friend of mine, recently laid off, and I are going to get together after the first of the year and see if we might want to put a little residential practice together. It's an interesting opportunity as we would be able to keep the overhead super low and we collaborate very well together. We'll see.

So maybe you, my 10's of readers (that might be a little presumptuous,) can make some suggestions of races or events that might be interesting/entertaining. I would like to find some in the Minnesota or Chicago area in the first quarter of 2010 as it will be easier to get to these. When the first few stories are successful (think positive, right?) I will then look at other areas of the country. First I need to make it through the holidays. I really find the whole thing rather tedious and stressful. Just a couple more weeks, I think I can make it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

If you could do anything you want and couldn't fail...

what would you do?

What kind of a stupid question is that? I hate that question! I hate it more now, because I am posing it to myself in an effort to get the work life moving again.

Then there is this quote: "There's no scarcity of opportunity to make a living at what you love. There's only a scarcity of resolve to make it happen."

So I have been given this unique opportunity to create what I want to do with my life. Being laid off in a really crappy economy does that for you. 2010 is right around the corner and I would like to have a plan laid out for the year. But I am finding ways to hold myself back. A lot of it has to do with fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of disappointing "people", fear of disappointing myself, fear of failure, fear of succeeding. Some of it has to do with heavily ingrained beliefs of what "work" is. Work is something you do in an office, with a boss and a big salary and benefits. Oh, and work isn't necessarily fun. I need to really make a paradigm shift in my thinking (how was that for my use of corporate jargon?)

I also feel like I need to have all the details figured out before I make that first step. The reality of the situation is that if I have all the details worked out, the fun and most interesting parts go out the window. And what if someone thinks this whole idea is dumb? Truth is that someone out there will always think an idea is dumb, like every other idea out there.

In a nutshell here is my idea. I want to travel to endurance events around the country and write feature articles about the people around them. Some I might participate in, some I might just spectate at, but at each I would embed myself with some group of weirdos (basically I am thinking of you, my faithful and misguided reader) and report on the hijinks that ensue. Or don't. Sometimes when nothing happens that can be entertaining, too. You know, in an uncomfortable kind way.

I am not talking about marathons or triathlons, although I am not completely excluding them either. I am talking about events that you might read about in Obscure Sports Quarterly or you might see on ESPN 8: The Ocho (or late at night on Versus.) Events like Muddy Buddy (there is one in Minneapolis in 2010,) Hood to Coast, Ragnar, HURT 100, 24 hours of whatever - see, the lack of detail is what makes it kind of fun. (Suggestions are welcome.)

My premise is that the most colorful and entertaining kinds of lunatics tend to participate and/or follow these ridiculous events. And who doesn't like reading about lunatics. I know I do.

If nothing else I will get some great blog fodder, meet some fun, funny (potentially disturbed and scary) people. And get out of the house once in awhile for the next year.

Even as I write this I am thinking of all sorts of potential hurdles, potholes, dead ends, arguments against, etc. But here's the thing, it would be better than what I am doing now, right?

The Torment that is My Mind

Yesterday I wrote a post about what I want to do with 2010. After much trepidation I posted it. It was up for maybe a couple of hours and then in a fit of panic I pulled it. I still have it. I just can't figure out what to do with it. It basically outlines what I want to do for fun and profit in 2010. It goes out on a huge limb for me. It's not like I want to suddenly become a doctor or astronaut or a male stripper. I have the necessary skills. It's just out of my ordinary.

Now that I have written and posted this I will be getting encouragement from people, except D who will ridicule me, to post the original, but now everyone's expectations are heightened and that makes me nervous. (See what I mean by the title - my brain is tormenting me.) Or I won't get encouragement from anyone and then what? Or I will get encouragement but you won't really mean it and then what?

Now I just sound like a crazy person. Or more like a crazy person. Or maybe none of this comes as any surprise to anyone - that I am crazy. Enough! In the words of Homer Simpson, "Shut up brain or I'll poke you with a Q-tip."

What to do? What to do?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Return of RMB, Unfortunate or Brilliant Marketing, Necrotized Digit

This morning we woke up to at least 5" of blowing and drifting snow and single digit temps with below zero windchills. Needless to say, I was not running this morning as I had snowblowing and shoveling to do so the wife and kids could get out of the house. I decided to postpone the run until daylight so I could avoid being killed by a snowplow.

I finally got my run in at 3:30. A and I had gotten all the Christmas shopping done in one go and I was "malled" out. I bundled up, talked to the moms at the bus stop and took off before the monsters got off the bus. The snow had stopped, but it was still windy and cold and the blowing snow was stinging my eyes. It was even more chilly when that wind blew across the lake. Over all the run went well. I was dressed right, no cold feet (never really a problem anyway) and no slipping or falling.

When I got home I was feeling pre-tty happy with myself and how I had dressed. No bare skin, no frostbite. Then I got in the shower. Mmmm, it felt good until I turned around and it hit my ass and it was then I realized that RMB had returned. What is RMB you ask? RMB is when my ass gets cold and red and apparently numb. What does RMB stand for you ask? This:

Red Monkey Butt

This is not a new phenomenon for me. I wrote about it last year as well. Strangely, on almost the same date. This must be the time of year when my ass freezes for the first time.

While A and I were shopping at Targ├ęt Boutique in St. Louis Park, MN we were walking down an aisle and I saw this poster:

You will notice that the woman has two cups of cocoa/hot chocolate with a ton of marshmallows. I said to A, "Does that look like she might be a plus-size model?" A pointed.

So apparently Target has decided to perpetuate the stereotype of plus-sized people as chronic over-eaters. Nicely done.

Yesterday, A came home from work and I greeted her with my middle finger:

She freaked out. "OH MY GOD! What happened!? Are you OK?" I responded, "I don't know. It started to get cold and then it turned black and now it's starting to smell a little. Wanna smell it?" A says, "It looks necrotic." That's what I was looking for. It looks like my finger's dead.

Now normally I would milk the sympathy and concern for all it's worth (I don't get much sympathy or concern around the house,) but I am not that big of a jerk. (I am a considerably smaller jerk.) The dog got a hold of a fountain pen and proceeded to chew it to bits on his dog bed. When I went to scoop it up there was a puddle of black ink under it and I jammed my finger into it, thus staining it this lovely black color. Now, it just looks like I have a really dirty middle finger. It was fun while it lasted.

Finally, for some reason F decided he needed to shine a little more light on his dinner tonight. I overheard the following conversation between A and F.

A: "What's with the head lamp at the dinner table?"
F: "So I don't miss a crumb."

You will notice the wonderful dinner of scrambled eggs and bacon I have prepared for my family. Hey, I'm a provider.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Does My Wife Know?

My wife and I had my birthday dinner last Saturday night and I explained how I was working with a coach named Amy Kloner so she knew; a) that I was planning ahead and would be able to give her advance notice of long run and/or bike days and b) she would recognize Amy's name on my phone and emails and not ask me, "Who is this 'Amy Kloner' person and why is she calling and emailing you and making you cry!?"

I also explained that she was in Atlanta, GA so she wouldn't have to worry about her showing up on our doorstep unannounced and dragging my wining ass for an 18 mile run.

She was surprisingly accepting of my new relationship. (I did leave out the earlier 'transgression' on Facebook. I didn't want to ruin my birthday dinner being punished again for that one. You know how chicks stick together.)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Questions, questions

So many questions. So who is my coach? Well, that is kind of a funny story. It has an interesting parallel to how I met my wife.

See, I met my wife at the Mall of America - you know, the largest indoor mall in the US.
It was summer and school was out. I had been out of college and was returning from being a ski bum in Vail, Colorado for a season. We met when we were working at Eddie Bauer. This was before the mall opened. I had worked at an Eddie Bauer previously and was part of the management team that was opening this new flagship store. (That all sounds real important with high amounts of responsibility, but it really just meant that I got to carry some keys and count the money at the end of the night.) I really liked Eddie Bauer back then. They carried all sorts of gadgets and Swiss Army knives and stuff. Anyway, we had to fold tons of clothes and anyone who has worked at a major retail store like the Gap or Limited or Eddie Bauer knows there is a very specific way to fold each type of clothing. My future wife was busy folding - or more accurately refolding - a table of polos because someone else did a really shitty job. I went over to see how she was doing, you know, on a personal level, not really checking her work. We had the following conversation:
Me: "Hi, how're you doing?"
FW (Future wife): "Fine."
Me: "So, where do you go to school?"
FW: "I've graduated."
Me: "Oh, so where are you going to college?"
FW: "I graduated from college."
Me: "Oh, I see. Well, I better go see how they are doing on the jean wall."
Yes, it was that horribly awkward. And yes, I was/am that big of a dork. She thought I was that big of a dork. Months later we ended up grabbing something to eat after work because we had a store meeting and didn't have time to run back to our respective homes. We talked and started to like each other and now we are married with two kids, a dog and no exit strategy.

So what does this have to do with my new coach? Well, a few weeks ago I friended "a gal" who I recognized and had many common friends and had funny comments on people's posts. After she accepted my invite I caught the following post from her:

"felt like the treadmill was shaking this morning. The girl next to me confirmed that hers was just fine. So it's all in my head (literally!). Mission aborted!"

In my infinite quest to be witty, I posted a comment saying something to the effect:
"could it be that you have gained a couple of pounds?"
I almost started a Facebook Incident. I immediately got a response from this "gal" indicating that my comment was exactly the reason that she is leery of accepting friend requests from people she doesn't know. In my infinite quest to be liked by all I proceeded to apologize, grovel, apologize more, delete my offending comment and generally reassess the decisions I had made in my life and how I had gotten to this point and would I make it another day on Facebook.

After enough groveling and I think perhaps some intervention by other FB friends on my behalf vouching for my horrible upbringing and my struggle with being a complete moron, we came to a friendly understanding - I wouldn't do that again.

Then this "mysterious gal you are all dying to know the identity of and probably already know by now and if you are D have gotten bored and moved on" mentioned she was leading a spinning class and I said she should webcast it and she laughed - ha, ha - then she mentioned about a week later she was leading another spin class and I said again she should webcast it so I could do it at home and then she asked if I had any restraining orders (I get that a lot - no she didn't ask that and I don't get that a lot and I don't have any.) No, she asked if was looking for a coach - it was kind of like when I met my wife and we went to get something to eat (see how I tied this all together like a Gordian Knot) - and we started talking and - FUCK IT! I am boring MYSELF now.

My coach is Amy Kloner! Now, get off my back!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Decisions and Goals

Now that I am 41 I have decided to make some decisions. That totally makes it sound like up to this point in my life I haven't made any decisions. While it may seem to many like that is true - I have realized I have no idea where I am going with this whole train of thought. So anyway. Decisions made, right.

I have decided to buy a big boy tri bike. Next year I will be riding a Cannondale Slice - I found a deal on a special build of their top end hi-mod carbon frame with some not quite as high end components. I opted for the kick ass frame with components I can upgrade as I need or want to. Payment is made, we are locked in.

I have also found a new coach. I had a different "coach" for a short while, but the program was kind of cookie cutter and I was having a difficult time staying motivated and staying with it. This new coach is totally going to kick my ass - at my request. Especially on the bike. We are getting started right away. I am running a 5K tomorrow so we can assess my fitness and get my heart rates dialed in and everything. Again, payment made, locked in.

Now, 2010 is going to be a huge year. It will culminate with IronMan Wisconsin (IronMoo or IMoo) in September, but between now and then I have a lot of work and some races to do. Without getting into specific races, as that schedule will require more thought, here are my initial goals. I will revise these periodically throughout the year as "things change" but, this is what I think right now.
  • Half-marathon - sub 1:30 - there should be a few opportunities to make a run at this. I ran a 1:33 in spring 2009 without training specifically for that kind of speed, so I am pretty sure I can do this.
  • Marathon - 3:20 or faster - this may not be on the schedule this year. With only a spring marathon and possibly no desire to train that hard at that time, we may just let this one go until 2011. (Or I could just run a 3:20 or faster in the Ironman marathon, use it as a two-fer. I am SO kidding about that - I just want to finish with clean shorts.)
  • Sprint Tri - the definition and distance varies too much for a goal. This will probably depend on the actual race.
  • Olympic Distance Tri - sub 2:15 - this is based on 2009's Lifetime Fitness Tri at which I took the world's longest pee break. Followed after the finish by the worst GI issues I have had to date. I think this goal is probably a little light and with a good nutrition plan should be able to smoke it.
  • HIM Distance Tri - 4:45 - 5:00 - This goal also might be a little light as I bonked on the run and still came in at 5:02, but with better training and nutrition I should be able to smoke it.
All these goals depend on level of fitness and where I am in my training schedule. I will probably be doing some races that I have never done before, because of timing, cost and location so that might affect results. As you can probably tell, I am already excited to get moving. Patience, self. Patience.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

First Day of 41

Since we all had so much fun looking back at year 40. Here are some of the goals I have for year 41.
  • Get out of bed every morning (maybe not looking forward to this, but it's a goal)
  • Stay married
  • Keep the kids alive and unmaimed (you know, relatively speaking)
  • Train for an Ironman (this is directly related to item two and three on the list)
  • Finish an Ironman
  • Bustin' well under 5:00 for a HIM
  • Two weeks in Italy (this is also directly related to item two and three on the list)
  • Make sure the dog still has three legs
  • Get another article published (Penthouse Forum is not an option, Ian)
  • Another marathon, maybe a BQ
  • More blogging (or less, maybe I should put that to a vote)
  • Less Facebook/Twitter (highly doubtful)
  • More coffee
  • More bacon
  • Less big, hairy gut
  • Improve my personality so that it isn't so off-putting and churlish (highly doubtful and up yours for agreeing with me)
  • Fewer skirts, more pants
  • Not die from stupidity (I've made it this far, but stupidity has a cumulative effect)
I chose these because they are mostly in my control. Finding a job, winning the lottery, stop losing my hair - kind of out of my control at this time.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Last Day of 40

Tomorrow is my birthday. Again. I think today is a good time review what I did in my 40th year of being. In no particular order:
  • Got a dog
  • Volunteered at an Ironman
  • Signed up for an Ironman
  • Stayed married
  • Ran two more marathons
  • Raced three more triathlons and actually got 3rd in AG in one
  • Went to Milan
  • Got an article published
  • Joined Facebook
  • Joined Twitter
  • Wasted endless amounts of time on Facebook & Twitter
  • Wrote a whole bunch of blog posts
  • Kept my kids alive
  • Started the year with the best Christmas mind f*ck ever on my kids
  • Started cooking more
  • Taught at the University of Minnesota - decided one semester was enough
  • Drank copious amounts of coffee
  • Ate more than the recommended daily allowance of bacon
  • Got out of bed every morning
I guess it was an OK year.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Art and Caring

The Friday after Thanksgiving we went to the Walker Art Center with the kids. They had some cool exhibitions that I thought the kids could understand and enjoy and that I really wanted to see. For those of you not familiar, the Walker is the more modern and contemporary of the major art museums in Minneapolis. It has this great sculpture garden that is fun to run around in.

Here is some of the stuff we saw in the sculpture garden.

(A is trying to explain something, I am trying to imagine myself somewhere.)

My family. And me.

(There has been a lot of sex had in that spoon - just so you know. Not ever by me you sickos.)

They also have a small conservatory with a big Frank Gehry glass fish. I also liked the hibiscus.

Walking back to the car E comes running up to me asking for money. I turn back to her and say in my typically irritated tone of voice, "What do you need money for, now?" She lowered her head and in her soft voice said, "There is a sleeping bag back there tucked under the bushes. Mom says that it belongs to a homeless person and I want to leave him a surprise to make him feel better."

For a kid who is constantly bugging for a mobile phone, an iPod touch and Ugg boots I was surprised she would take the chance to ask me - Mr. No! - for money after all the hell I give her. She knew this was important though. I realized I constantly underestimate my kids' abilities to be compassionate and empathetic. I also realized that I underestimate A and my abilities to raise wonderful, caring kids. At this point in our lives we seem to be doing a pretty good job. (I hope that doesn't sound self-congratulatory, it certainly wasn't meant to.)

I gave her the $23 dollars I had in my pocket and she went running back to the bushes. "Just make sure there's no one in that sleeping bag before you put your hand in there!" Hey, I'm overly cautious as well. What can I say?