Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Gear Review: Flashlights or Light & Bright

TBC asked me this question last night:
Oh, and I have been looking for a good LED flashlight. What should I be looking for in terms of brightness, how do I even know? I am looking for something for work to look into crawl spaces, attics and such. I am also wanting something for camping and general use
I felt it only responsible to answer with a full post on flashlights.

First I would like to express my love for headlamps. A previous gear review post lists my favorites and why. Since I also know what TBC does for a living I think that a good headlamp might be a wise investment as the hands-free aspect would benefit his crawling around. But the lights in my gear review are not strong enough for some of his work and if going with a head lamp I would recommend something with a strong battery pack and wattage, such the Princeton Tec Apex Pro with a 3 watt LED and 4 smaller LEDs.

Hands free does have its price though and for about half the money you can invest in decent torch style flashlights.

When discussing brightness there is so many ways to go. I did a small rant in the middle of a post last year on the subject of watt v. lumen v. arbitrary wording. The bottom line is that the brighter the output of light, the faster the batteries will drain. I have very impressive lights that drain $10 in batteries in 20 minutes. Its not a light I would use in an emergency situation or outdoors for camping.

The cheapest and what has been found to be very nice is a replacement LED bulb for the standard bulb 2AA mag-lite flashlights that almost every household has. Walmart sells the LED replacement kit for around $5 and and a bit more for a kit that has a tail switch for on/off. The LED is not blinding level but its a serviceable and cheap fix.

I work on the thought any light is better than no light when you need it and highly recommend the little LED key lights made by Photon or other quality manufacturers. Some of these put out impressive amounts of light for their size.

When moving into the $20 range and above for flashlights you begin working the cost to benefit analysis of size versus power output.

For everyday use and enjoyment, I follow the principle of size and then power. I am much more likely to carry something small and have what I need than something long and bulky that always sits at home.

I mentioned yesterday that I just purchased the Gerber Infinity Ultra. I bought this for my EDC (Everyday Carry). So far this light has been great in that when I needed a light in a hurry it was already on me. This is a service light which will throw a beam about 20 feet but lets be honest most of this work will be from a couple feet away looking for things that have fallen or to maneuver around objects in close proximity to me in a darkened area. The battery output on this 1 LED bulb is around ten hours till 50% brightness. I am sacrificing brightness for size and longevity. Also it takes on AA battery which can be replaced cheaply anywhere.

My favorite set of lights lately and I own just about one of each level is Inova. Inova has created a series of lights from micro to modest size that are beautifully crafted and exceptionally well built. The XO series is not one I have tried yet but based on word of mouth the word is good and at 4 or 5 watts of output is impressive. That is enough to blind some across the room or easily illuminate a wide outdoor area. These lights do not have a tremendous amount of 'spill' off the sides which means its a very focused and tight beam. What Inova did in their marketing was pretty slick. They started packaging their lights so you could turn them on and see how bright they are through an angled mirror. The middle of the round X5 is probably a 2 watt light or around 50 lumens.

The greatest recommendation for a light is one I would buy for someone as a gift. I would say the flashlight I have purchased the most for my friends the last few years is the Inova X5. I personally one two versions of this light in blue and white beams and constantly have to stop myself from buying more. For me they are perfect combination of fit, form and function.

Moving up the cost ladder is the SureFire and Fenix series lights. There is surely more but these are two I am interested in. I own a couple of SureFire lights and the 6P is truly a gentlemen's flashlight. It's spendy at around $60 but with the 125 lumen LED bulb I can completely illuminate the tops of 100 foot trees and hit cars and objects 200 feet away. As I said the burn rate on batteries is pretty high with this light so it is not so much an emergency light as it is something I take with me for formal affairs and get the OMG factor out of people.

I have never used Fenix lights but the reviews have been building and all have been favorable. I wouldn't mind trying one out but they do not seem to be widely sold in the outdoor stores and gun shops I frequent.

Lastly and its not sexy but I highly recommend it, Walmart and Target sell a large battery (6 volt) work lantern for around $6. At Walmart you can find them in the checkout aisles. These are awesome home lights especially if you need something for emergencies or doing some late walking around the neighborhood. They last several hours and for the price can be tossed when done. I have several around the house and in vehicles. If you do not have a true lantern, gas or battery operated, this is the light to have for camping and urban group use.

To get slightly specific I would be remiss I didn't mention another of my latest favorites. The firefly bottle lamp. This nifty little guy replaces the standard lid to a nalogene bottle with a very bright LED waterproof flashlight. For adding just a bit more weight to the bottle you now have a superb lantern that also holds your water. The light also dims so that you can adjust the light down when sharing a tent or all the way up for glowing up a larger area. I generally have one of these lights with me as well since I always carry water with me and I generally enjoy carrying it in my green nalogene bottle.

In summary, to answer TBC I would say, "For work and general purpose start with the Inova X5 and go up from there in price and brightness." I generally recommend everyone have a little microlight from Inova, Photon or Princeton Tec on their keychain or in their purse.

Monday, July 30, 2007

You can't figure that out?

One of my clubs was bitching that their printer for client files did not work. "Help us. Help us."

I tell my partner I'll go up there since I have some work to do there myself. I go up to the club and I am working on a really sensitive legal matter and time starts to slip away. I get a call at 4pm, "Hey you look at that printer yet, I'm getting calls."

"No. I'm here though, let me drop everything I'm doing to help them out." I respond sarcastically.

I call back at 4:02pm. "Yeah somebody tried to force the square USB head into the port and they broke the USB connection inside the printer. Unless someone has a LPT1 cable in their drawer, we need to buy that cable or buy a new printer."

Now that wasn't that big a deal but I wish someone had the huevo's to say, "Um yeah we broke the printer can someone fix it." It would have cost me or someone a good drive to and from this place if I wasn't coming here. Plus the clubs (maybe) misdirection and (obvious) lack of personal investigation has cost some people the ability to access a print out of their files.

I was telling a manager what the problem was and an employee said, "Oh you need a LPT pin connector." Well Duh! If you knew the term you could have diagnosed the problem.

Well at least I got to use my brand new Gerber Infinity Ultra flashlight I bought today at REI to shine into the port to figure all this out.

So lets use this posts comment area as a crap box for your most recent dose of idiocy from people around you.

Yawn..it sure is bright out there.

I woke up this morning feeling a bit sheepish regarding the weekend. Even being off formal training the last two months, (it feels longer), I still get out and do a little sum'em sum'em on the weekends.

This weekend was spent on the couch with Mo or playing in the backyard with Mo or taking it easy myself. Mistress spent most of the weekend sleeping, which you know what, good for her.

I feel good about this week and have planned a two mile run and one mile swim for today. Its baby steps back into consistent base training.

My one foray into society was Sunday when I went grocery shopping at WalMart. They had Halloween stuff up already in the crafts section. Its July. I really don't need to see Harvest this or that or little ghosts and witches already. I didn't even register it till writing this post but they had Christmas stocking projects hanging up too. I suppose I won't begrudge that because my mom hand stitches beautiful stockings and it takes her six months to get them done.

But c'mon do we need the foam Halloween stuff up already?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Ground Zero Part II

Mistress got back from the doc's with Mo. He has a double ear, double sinus and a throat infection. Add his ongoing colitis problem that affects his bum aaaaaand basically every orifice on the tyke is causing him a problem.

Training going to be on hiatus with the team this weekend.

I think I might pick up some cranberry juice when I get his scripts at the pharmacy. Cover that last base while were at it.

This is also the new Mo Avatar.

Rescue 911

I had to rearrange training due to the illness in the house and missed the usual OW swim with the guys Thursday. Jeff called me around 8pm and told me an amazing story with the sincere wish that I was there.

Apparently a father had clambered around the inside of the canyon till he was in the very rear of the slot by the back buoy we normally swim too in our circuit. The buoy is at the edge of the shadow and the water in the picture, right.

Jeff and Glen were swimming away from the buoy but Jeff kept looking over his shoulder because this man was maybe 50 feet up on the wall and look stuck. Jeff heard a yell and the man had fallen into the lake.

Jeff swam to the man whom had deep cuts in his knee and scalp while at least one of the kids, not a strong swimmer tried to assist. Glen went to waive down a sheriff truck or call 911 and then came back. The two of them eventually helped the rescue people get him in the boat, to the marina and he was medevac'd to a hospital.

Speaking with Glen last night, who promised a post on his site sometime today, he was grateful for being there to help the man but wished I had been there to at least help him, since he generally feels safer around me the desert because of my background in outdoor lore and my propensity for studying and preparing for survival situations.

I took that as a deep compliment. I get a ration of crap from people, (including Nytro) for having a pack with me but usually in that pack along with my daily gear is a compass, flash light, means to start a fire, a bandanna, plus more all in case there is some emergency. What I really want is a PLB which up at the lake where there is no phones or cell service for a 20 minute drive, could be faster than hunting down a first responder or park ranger.

Congratulations to Jeff and Glen for most probably helping an idiot save his life and I mean idiot only in that the situation was entirely preventable. Their quick thinking, swimming endurance to tread water for so long and help get him on the boat, will allow a family to merely count their blessings and not mourn a passing.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Some more musings....

1. Personal note: I'm trying to get the crank moving on my training. I think we can all imagine our training as a bike crank and when we are in a peak block of training or very consistent the crank is spinning at a high cadence with a good stroke, road speed is high and heart rate low. The converse is also true when you're just getting started from the stop, the front wheel is wobbling, your looking down and up a few times trying to clip in your shoe and eventually your peddling slowly and not very efficiently trying to pick up speed. I'm trying hard right now to get through that intersection and in a good spot.

2. Who do you feel more compassion for, Lindsey Lohan or Brittany Spears? I know most of you don't care but I have point here. Lohan just got out of rehab for the second time this year and she obviously lied about recovery and returned to coke and booze and she had friends that enabled her up till her arrest. All the pundits are mentioning this and saying, "Why didn't a friend do something?" Now with Spears there is obviously a problem with this mother and yet the pundits in this case are saying, "Well I hope for the best and hope she gets help." Hello! Why does someone have to wait for her to really have a bad incident like Lohan before people start pointing fingers. Someone needs to take her down a peg. Punch that chick in the head, wait, no we can't hit women; grab her and shake the sh*t out of her. (Little Chris Rock humor there). In all seriousness, no one is telling her she is a trainwreck. I'll tell you what, just a phone call to Child Protective Services alleging such behavior would begin an investigation on any other person yet all her foibles are on video and in pictures and nothing, nothing is happening to arrest her fall.

3. I have not really followed the Tour de France this year but the overwhelming fallout of more banned drug use has finally started to punch through to the mainstream media. What I have not heard anyone talk about is Floyd Landis. While he is still due his day in court, (please hurry up) all this latest stuff is surely starting to test my belief of his innocence in the matter. If he truly is "The Only One" who has been striped of his title and booted and he is innocent, then so much the better for the sport, but man it looking like a long shot to me.

4. Sheriff Joe Arapaio, the toughest sheriff in the country, started a hotline in Phoenix to turn in illegal aliens, sort of a silent witness program. But now a county supervisor wants to start another hotline where, I guess, illegals can call and turn in people they think have turned them in. For what reason I do not know.

5. Oh, I want to be the first to thank President Bush for only paying $2.77 a gallon. Because, you know, he sets all those prices himself. Yup. Calls all the gas stations himself. Heard he actually changes the numbers at some places in Crawford, Texas. I figure since he personally gets all the grief for prices going up, I might as well thank him when they go down.

Ah cheer up folks, its a pretty good day.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Random musings

I have read so many posts the last 24 hours trying to catch up with everyone that I can't write a post today without thinking I just read this. So here is some of my current musings.

1. Why is it that a 8 year old can't use his finger and thumb as a gun on the school playground without being suspended for a week for the 'zero-tolerance' the school has on weapons; but someone trying to clear airport security with wire coils wrapped around an electrical switch with batteries, three tubes and two blocks of hard cheese imitating plastic explosives in their carry on bag only gets detained for a few hours and released to fly?

2. How can the democratic presidential debate held this week, not have a single question asked by moderator or guest about immigration or border enforcement after it was just the biggest single issue of communication between the public and congress, shutting down the senate switchboard for several hours?

3. Michael Vick is a repulsive man. This week, the high paid NFL quarterback has been charged with among other things the killing of eight dogs using brutal methods while running a dog fighting club on his property. My problem is not with the troubled man, he is scum, but does the public really think this type of behavior from super aggressive athletes is all that surprising? The atmosphere of football, from the fans to the players, coaches and money is breed for people to be brutal. Its not easy or simple for players to shut this off once the season is over and their energy has no channel on the field. Thats like saying cops never become cynical. Thats like being surprised when boxers get in fights outside the ring. Thats like a soldier being in combat for six months then expected to decompress on R&R without having to seriously watch what they say or do for the first few days. Vick doesn't deserve a quarter of the conversation he is getting in the press.

4. I just read an article on Pam Anderson on her life in photos. Do you remembers when a big bust in Hollywood didn't include a DUI and a coke seizure at the same time?

5. One more on this presidential debate this week. How can the American public really get any substantive answers from candidates when theres 13 contenders and only 90 minutes? Just ask show of hands to questions? I don't understand when we are trying to find the best candidates that wants to separate from the pack they are asked if 'they are black enough, woman enough or will work for minimum wage if elected.' I'd kinda like to know their positions on things that matter.

6. If I have to hear another politician use the term 'Comprehensive Plan' again to get something done in government, I might throw up.

7. The NBA commissioner David Stern, said that the gambling referee fiasco is the worst situation that has happened to basketball in his forty years of involvement with the organization. Really? You mean when Ron Artest decided to jump into the stands and beat the hell out of rowdy spectator that wasn't worse? Or are you just forgetting the thoery that not long ago it was discovered that there may be more illegitimate bastard babies by NBA players than actual NBA players. Shawn Kemp, unwed, has seven kids by six woman. Just for example.

Well thats a lot to think about during my swim this afternoon.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ground Zero

Mistress and Mighty Mo now have my cold. This is what happens with family's, eh?

The monsoon season has finally arrived and the rain is a welcome distraction from the infernal heat. If nothing else its nice to see some clouds. Yes in the desert southwest we generally lack clouds, outdoor water and anything green not considered a weed or cactus.

On my run yesterday I thought about 'The Beginning'. It was my first workout in a week and as you all know we tend to think about starting over and new beginnings and journeys and all that when we get back or dare I say it Begin a new training cycle.

But "The Beginning' is rarely the Beginning of Anything (action) but the Beginning of Something (thought). Take Ironman, for example. Many of us have signed up for Ironmans, (you can insert your own big race if not), and you didn't get off the computer and then go do Ironman workouts; you probably did the same thing you had always been doing and then later realized you better get something more solid started.

We all decide to begin something like diets, workouts, better consistency, start doing something different but there is a pregnant pause between the thought and the action.

It is not always our fault. I was thinking this yesterday as I had missed the previous week to the cold after a week of vacation. That week of the cold was to be spent in base building. So yesterday was my Beginning (action) of base building, but now Mistress and Mo are sick and my Beginning of Anything has been returned to my Beginning of Something (thought).

The nice thing is that I have a community online and IRL that can keep me plugged in for beginnings like these that sputter instead roar.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Spreading Good News

Wanted to put a quick shout out to my swim coach and good friend Nick Goodman from Durapulse, his link is in my sidebar.

Nick took 29th at Ironman USA (aka lake Placid) on Sunday finishing in 10:04. I am almost positive that he accepted the slot to Kona, as that was his plan from the beginning.

He started the year paying and racing at the California 70.3 (formally Ralph's) winning a slot to a future IM race. He choose IMUSA as his chance to win a slot for Kona. When you have the ability to pay for a half and then slot an IM and then slot Kona you're having a pretty good year.

This will be Nicks second time to Kona. He had a sub-10 finish there the first time. I expect that with his maturity in the sport and a little bit of favor from the weather gods he could best that this year.

Sure it bright out there...

Re-reading this post...its kind of all over the place. Apology's.

I got a 90 minute bike ride in with the group Saturday morning. Surprising myself I averaged 18.5 mph and 90 cadence including all the stops and starts. Of course it did pretty much guarantee being wiped out the rest of the weekend.

Resting as much as possible with this cold was timed I suppose perfectly with Harry Potter coming out. I laid in bed or on the couch all day Saturday and part of Sunday reading it. I did acquiesce to Mistress and not stay up all night Saturday reading. She asked me to get eight hours sleep and thanks to cold medicine I was able to do that.

I am glad I read the book, the rumors I read on the net about the ending were all bogus. I was satisfied with the end of the book but there was at least 200 pages in the middle where there was almost no action taking place and it became very boring. There were some leaps made in the last few pages that make it impossible to piece everything together between Harry, Dumbeldore and Voldermort.

Reading the book I can't help but see each character from the movie on the page that did make it sweeter and sadder as characters where dispatched from the story line.

Today I feel better, much better but my lungs still feel tight and have a bit of a cough still. Tomorrow is a week and I am vacillating on scheduling a doctor appointment to get my lungs checked. Of course I vacillated over the same illness in April and it dashed my IMAZ race since it ended up being a viral infection in my lungs and throat.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A story I wish was true and maybe is.

Early release from a business meeting in his old hometown allowed this fellow to drive by the old neighborhood before he boarded a plane to see his wife and child thousands of miles away. Days seemed like years during conferences like this and a chance to remember a part of his youth seemed a good reminder that life existed for him before tedious jobs and adult responsibility.

The older man, but not too old, drove down the familiar street for the second time since he left this town twenty years ago; the first being just moments ago. Ducking his head low and looking out the passenger window of his rental car, he could drive slow and look up the hill at the cul-de-sac where he learned so much about life.

It was not his home that was up there, his childhood home is seen behind him through the rear window, in a cul-de-sac only one hundred yards away. But his friends and his youth was spent in this cul-de-sac he looked at that rolled up a small hill opening into the familiar circle of comfy homes.

Wanting to avoid questioning stares at a slow driver, the older man pulled over and stepped out into the chill. He had parked in front of a house he had been in many times before. A friend had once lived there, now long lost in the mists of growth and maturity.

On the corner he stood and looked up the gentle slope. The landscape was different and a house here and there a different color. The trees were taller. Of course they should be after compared to the thirty year old photograph in his mind. The things that mattered hadn’t changed though. The evening air was crisp and the burnt orange rays of light that the sun only put forth a few months each fall draped its waning colors along the roofs and tips of tall firs.

In his mind he recalled the sound of hitting a ball with an aluminum bat, the ubiquitous ‘tink’ ringing in his ears. He looked down half expecting to feel the vibration of his old bat in his hands. It didn’t matter then how hard he hit the ball, he couldn’t possibly hit a house at ten years old.

The older man lived in that moment in time. The light pole that was always safe in tag. The first tall tree he climbed and all the pitch he had on his hands and clothes afterwards, some sticking to his hair. At some point a mother would lean out a door and yell to one of us that our mom had called and it was time for dinner. It seems so foreign in the present, but when the older man was just a child he could range far and wide without supervision. The streets were safer then and neighbors freely exchanged phone numbers. The older man didn’t know any of his current neighbor’s phone numbers. But there was nothing these cul-de-sac kids could do without being relayed home within moments if needed.

Honesty at the dinner table came from the knowing that the phone tree underground worked faster than tired legs on a dirt bike. The older man remembered a special mom asking her child the usual broad questions, occasionally asking something specific, “Honey, have you seen the box of garbage bags?”

“No mommy.”

After dinner there was still enough light on days just like this for another hour of play. Carefully hiding the box of black garbage bags in his cotton coat, the child would pedal away, wondering how cleaver he had been.

It was unconscious of the older man, but not really that old, to walk back to his car and then just past it to a wide opening between two houses. Through this opening, now as in his youth, stood before him a vast forest which now he realized was just about two acre in size. He could not imagine how many times he trekked into these woods but he stayed with the memory of the garbage bags.

Over the course of many weeks trenches had been dug deep in the woods, winding here and there and varying in depth based on roots and soil composition. The sides of these trenches where braced with scrapes of wood and cardboard which were constantly being re-organized with the falling, jumping and tumbling of boys upon them. The garbage bags, it was decided, would be stretched over the trenches to keep the rain and drizzle away as it is far too common a forecast in a Pacific Northwest autumn.

The trenches were the secondary work of the large pit dug in the summer while looking for buried treasure and dinosaur bones. The pit was far too wide for mere garbage bags so axes and saws stolen from familiar garages brought down branches that were long enough to lie across.

It was impossible to wish but the older man, but not that old, looked up and into the boughs of a large tree. He was surprised to see a mish mash of wood still remained some twenty five feet in the air, the remnants of a long ago treehouse built by young hands. Two his own. Had this fort remained a fixture in the youth of this area for over a generation? Was the story of its creation passed down from child to child until it became an urban legend? Or is it now just an eye sore for those around? How sturdy was the structure after ten thousand nights standing vigil?

He made his way to the base of the still impressive tree. The tree had grown around the planks used to climb its sides as much as the nails still held them in place. Looking now it seemed silly to see a dozen nails doing the work of two. The over exuberance of youth. Climbing was simple and euphoric but the hole in the floor that was once made too big was now not big enough.

The older man, but really not that old now, lifted his head finally into a surprisingly small wood box that at one time was the bow of a boat, a space ship, and a hundred other things among them a couple of open windows to a bigger place in the world. He dare not fit into the fort but time and moisture created a hole at the base of one wall which faced into the west.

The same golden rays of the setting sun shown as clearly and brightly through that small hole as it did through the larger opening above. It must have been ordained that the older man was allowed to see one more sunset from this perch and for several minutes he stared not only into the beginning twilight but into the heyday of his Rockwellian youth.

When the wind became just a bit more chill and the sun had truly set did he realize he had held on to the moment just a bit too long. Like someone who stares into a room after the light has been turned off, wondering if the image was clearly burned in the mind. Climbing down he rested his left foot on the sturdy limb six feet from the ground. The connection of branch to tree was still worn smooth by the feet of those who could climb up no further or who steadied themselves for a breath taking jump to the mossy dirt below. He would not jump this day. He still had the ability and the courage but respected his memories. Some things belonged to childhood.

Walking back to his car, the older man, still young at heart, stopped at the sidewalk to let a small girl and her bigger dog, a husky, pass by; a sign that the neighborhood was still safe enough for that.

He looked to take his next step and stopped. Pressed into the sidewalk directly below his foot is a small handprint. Dropping to his knees he uses his hands to sweep away the light coating of dirt, his tears bringing sharp relief to the outline as well as any falling rain. Two small handprints emerge, one slightly larger than the other. Beneath is written CJ and Sean and the number 1980.

The older man, feeling much older at the moment, stares at the image before him. His hand had been there in the beginning of this place. Putting his older hand over his younger impression, it was not the size that mattered but the time between the rejoining. A long life lived well rubbed back into the concrete. He thought own son’s hand would not be much different than the one he touched now held forever in this pedestrian, man made rock.

One hand dials a cell phone, the other stuck to his younger self in the concrete below. Words not spoken in many years are rushed through sobs and sniffles. Some things time can not change, like the wearing of the wood up in the tree. Some things like the relationship between two brothers can be changed.

You can never go home they say, but when you’re young, you never want to. You want to stay out late with your friends and play games until you can’t see what’s happening in front of your face. Until it’s too cold or too dark or too scary. You stay outside as close as possible to eight o’clock because that means it really time to come home and eat ice cream before going to bed. Moms need time with their children too.

The older man is now forever young at heart and has another phone call to place. He dials his mother and confesses that he knows what happened to a box of missing garbage bags.

She already knew.

Dealing with it

Since my last post I have been almost exclusively holed up in my guest room dealing with sinus pain and a chest cold. Blech. But I understand now how great writers of the past were able to do their work. When you don't have the ability to watch tv or drive a car and your just at home with your thoughts in a room, stirring stories come to mind. I attempted to put a story to paper but it simply hurt to keep my eyes open. I hope I can recreate it over the weekend.

It is amazing the therapeutic benefits of a hot shower or hot compress across the face. I think I would have no discomfort had I simply been able to to spend the last three days in a steam room or some magically always hot shower.

It is advantageous that HP7 (the new Harry Potter book) comes out this weekend. I should have plenty of time to read. I am going to attempt some very easy cycling and running this weekend and the remainder of the time laying low and gathering my energy for next week.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A little bit of under weather

I am a bit frustrated. I feel that I have developed some kind of itchy throat, cough and empty head feeling. It picked up steam all day Tuesday. I did get in a 45 minute core workout. I am planning an Wednesday trainer ride, as my back is still not up to tackling hills. Two straight days of therapy on it already.

I see how this can seem like a negative post but I had a good Tuesday. I ate very well and sat in on a sermon from one of the top preachers in the country, Pastor Tommy Barnett. He is our company's personal pastor. He also started the LA Dream center and my company built a gym there for the community. Read the crime stats in that last link to see how servanthood works.

I finally fixed a tricky software issue with adobe acrobat all by myself when all concerned suggested going to a tech guy.

So even though I am not feeling 100% I feel that I have a choice every day to whine about it or wring all the life of it I can.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dodge, Duck and Dodge

The return of the Haboob. This was fairly big news last night here in the valley of the sun, but other than some grit in my teeth while sitting in my jacuzzi, all I saw was some high altitude electrical discharge. To bad.

Apparently some areas in the valley picked up some great rain but my area was cloudless. Funny how storms work. One part of town gets hammered, others nary a breeze.

A bad back has been putting a dent in my training. Its hard to run and sit on the bike. Hoping I can get past this soon. Its all due to vacation and the sitting in a car, walking around and then sleeping in strange beds.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Feels like hottest day of yr. Car reads 121. Burned my temple putting on sunglasses. 1st time ever using head band to steer. Ouch.

The Mad Scientist Laugh

The company I am a partner of and helped found, has taken over a competitors location. We had been waiting for this to happen for a few months and got the call over vacation that we took the keys. Expansion is a wonderful thing, one of my personal motto's is "Ever Forward" a take on George S. Patton's 'Go Forward statement'. (7th quote down).

The really great news about this is that Mistress really pushed to be transfered there and today she officially cut her commute in half. Even better is that in August Mo is transferring to a Montessori that is K-8 and is one mile away. My parents who watch Mo for a few hours each day are two miles away. Jeff, aka my training partner and our chiropractor, is one mile away. All of Mistress and Mo's doctors are within three miles. Now she is ground zero in our sons life which I am sure will make her a much happier person.

The club has a 25 yard pool and Mistress as you know loves to swim, so I am sure she will be picking up some tremendous yardage each week.

The great news for me and the reason for the mad scientist laugh is that once Mo starts up at the new school, I will be able to cycle to work a few days per week for 40 miles per round trip. Not only do I appreciate how this will help improve my cycling, but how I will do my small part to decrease traffic and pollution in the day. And if for some reason I have to bail on my commute home, my office partner only lives a couple minutes away and can take me home or Mistress is only ten miles away.

Good News my friends. In a couple of weeks training gets easier.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Vacation was a success

Overall we did really well with each other and now that we finally made it home we can marvel in our ability as intense individuals to come together as a family for such an long period of time.

For the entire six days we travel together Mighty Mo only had about 45 minutes total of fussy four year old behavior. He turned out to be a tremendously fun travel companion which has really allowed Mistress and I to contemplate more trips as a family.

We all ended up being really tired after Disneyland so we elected to forgo the San Diego zoo and play in the pool at the hotel and do some shopping at the mall. Oh yeah and we got to have dinner at Hooter. Yummy wings.

We still have two weeks to use the passes to other Sand Diego parks so we may take a quick overnight back there for the zoo or wildlife park.

As we were driving home, Mistress told me our next vacation should be something more active. I started to laugh because that is all I want my vacations to be and she quickly amended with, "Oh there has to be hotel rooms for sure."

Here are some shots from SeaWorld.

Mo in the stands for Cirque de Mer a water based Cirque de Soleil

Shamu flying high at his signature show. Perhaps because I was so tired from the trip but I was quite emotional for this show. Anheiser-Busch who owns SeaWorld was very patriotic to our soldiers and veterans during this show.

At Cirque de Mer, Mo wouldn't stop pulling us close and hugging us.
Turned out to make a good and quite rare full family photo.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

3 What?

Mo finally started to show some wear and tear today so we bagged on the San Diego Zoo. Its too bad but we had a good day eating a real breakfast, then driving to SD, then doing some shopping. Mistress bought some slinky sun dresses to celebrate losing over 70 pounds in the last year and I got to eat at Hooters with the family.

My only direction to Mistress planning this trip was I did not want to stay at dives. I stay at dives well enough on my own but I wanted her to have some nice rooms. Hell, I could sleep in a tent and be happy. This place in SD is rated 3 stars on some website but I am not impressed. Its more a motel room with a couch (suite) than nice hotel such as we stayed in up in Anaheim. As long as the sirens stay quite and no one screws with my sleep I will be just fine, a little edgy but fine.

All the money was obviously put into the entrance, lounging area and pool rather than the rooms. Across the street is a nice collection of stores selling weaves and stereo equipment.

We decided that in ditching the zoo we would have a fully recharged Mo for SeaWorld. We have a zoo in Phoenix, not a great one but we have one, so a full do seeing water is preferred.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Disneyland Day 2

Well another great day and really it was Mistress who stepped up big time. By the time we got to the park the Finding Nemo submarine ride was already a two hour wait. No thanks. So we went to Space Mountain which many consider the best ride in the park. Mo and I had a good time but Mistress, sitting alone in the back was crying her eyes out when we got done, goose bumps, sweat. A wreck. She was motherly enough to make sure Mo was good when we were done then with shaky legs went for sun and terra firma.

She dismissed the Matterhorn but Mo and I had a good time there and then we all went to watch the Jedi University skit when kids in the audience get to fight Darth Vader and Darth Maul. It was fun for Mo to watch and to my thankfulness he was not chosen to fight Vader. He and I fight with all types of swords at home and I was afraid he would either bull rush Vader or turn around and join the dark side since Lord Vader is his favorite character.

The second spot Mistress proved herself today was California Adventures. Mistress is terribly afraid of heights. In the National Park challenge area people walk around a rope bridge three stories over the ground. We did not really know this at the time. Mo and I each took her hand and we soothingly took her across the first bridge. Then she saw the second and cursed out loud in front of some kids. Then once across there was only three more bridges and she went across them all with Mo and I holding her hands the whole way.

There was a bouldering area for kids and Mo got to work his way across. I asked if I could do the harder route and went across that. I spent ten minutes trying to tie two routes together that staff said was impossible. I doubt it. They just haven't had the right person do it yet. The right shoes, a guy in good climbing shape and it will be done.
Mo Fu with lightsaber

Copping a squat at California Adbentures

2nd entry for Mo & Daddy annual photo

The Intrepid Age Grouper working a difficult route

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Be honest here.

Do you like Disneyland or not?

I used to think and maybe I still do that a lot of people have a beef with Walt Disney the person or his concept of Disneyland. I don't know why I have this feeling, maybe its because people have a globalization and capitalism problem with big companies like Starbucks and Ikea and Disneyland is the grand daddy for globalization of Americana all over the world and they are tops in their market for not just animation movies but quite successful in live action too.

So what is it...

Do you like or even love Disneyland because it speaks to your youth or was a bonding moment in your life or whatever the reason


Do you not like or not care for Disneyland and why.

Disneyland Day 1

Well it was a day of days that is for sure. Both Mistress and Mo had a wonderful time. Mistress expecting adult type rides of swoops and drops and adrenalized rushes was pleasantly surprised to find the rides well...childlike in enthusiasm.

First, I would like to comment on one of those insufferable comments I cringe hearing from people who rarely exercise, "I walked like 20 miles today." Well I wore my Polar HR foot pod today and we were on site for 7hrs. 12min. and we walked all over the park taking over a dozen rides. I walked 5.12 miles. I would say that is comparative to the average family in the park. So while my feet are certainly a bit tired from standing in line for several minutes at a time and walking around the park in general, I did not however walk '20 miles' or '10 miles' or any nonsensical distance like that.

It was hard to judge the likes and dislikes of a 4 year old boy. Pirates was fun, a bit dark. The haunted mansion elevator really freaked him out. He did really well at Star Tours when I really thought the motion would make him scared. He refused a couple of rides but thats fine. He really liked the Teacups and according to him, "Mo and daddy go much fas', Mommy!"

The B&W was in line at Peter Pans Flight the longest wait of the day (40 min.) for a 5 minute ride, but I felt it was a must ride for both of them. Mo and I since the week he was born and each year since have had a photo taken in one of those photo kiosks that draws the photo out and put it on the wall. Well the mall took it out this year. Now I decided that I would hang a photo of Mo and I doing something memorable and this is my first attempt this year. If a better photo comes up I will use that one.

It was a bit hot but we found seats for the parade and waited 15 minutes for it to start. The photo at right is him waiting those last few minutes. He really like the costumess and as luck would have it we sat right in front of where all the floats stop to do a song and dance number. Apparently they only do that just two spots and we just lucked out.

I would be remiss if I didn't get misty eyed at a couple of points today. Being able to share this day with my son and my wife was special. Each of them have done something so completely Americana in origin.

This final picture was taken on Main Street in one of the many shops. I looked for Disney DVD's to increase my personal collection and got skunked out. I thought that would have been a given.

Tonight we go out for dinner and tomorrow hit three or four more of the main attraction rides then chill out doing whatever we want.

Are we there yet?

Well Google maps certainly made our day interesting turning a 5.5 hour drive into 7.5 on top of the 2 hours spent at outlet malls, restaurants and gas stations. After 9 hours on the road and the last two completely turned around thanks to Cal-trans building a new interchange and my poor Mistress who could find where we were on a map but not how to go anywhere, I pulled over at a Starbucks leaned over my hood and plotted out my course using the techniques that made me such a tracking stud in the infantry. This skill was always to the consternation of other units and leaders who couldn't find their way on a golf course with a caddy and map.

We finally got settled in around 9:30pm and I have scouted out some possible runs in the morning but its already midnight and I have been averaging little sleep and rest the last two days. I am sure the first day at Disneyland will be a walk fest anyway so we will see how I feel about running at five or six o'clock in the morning.

I will say this for our first day of vacation. We all got along and Mo did freaking awesome as a travel companion. He had us laughing and talking the whole way. I think on every vacation there needs to be a word or phrase that makes everyone laugh, these are usually completely useless outside of the the fishing trip or hiking trip or outside the group dynamic. Well Mo has been watching the first live action Scooby Doo movie a lot and there is a scene where Scooby and Shaggy have a burp and fart contest. One of the retorts from Scooby is, "Your mother eats cat poop."

Well lets just say I can not stop my 4 year old from saying 'poop' a 100 times today but Mistress certainly does not want any mother in this family being maligned that way so it is now, "You eat cat poop." Feel free to try that with your spouse or child next time you're having a conversation and see where it goes.

As we headed into the Morongo Casino area, Mo looked at all the rocks and mountains and asked if there were dinosaurs that lived out there. Of course Mistress says no and about a minute later I look off the freeway and see a huge T-Rex. So I pull over and sure enough there is a dinosaur park with four story dinosaurs. The Brontosaurus has a decent dinosaur store in its belly and the owner was very cool. He asked if I was military due to my studly physique and high & tight haircut that is unchanged in two decades and we conversed about each others exploits for a few moments. He opened the T-Rex for us and waiving the fee allowed the three of us to climb all the way up into the mouth.

Mo was agog as he always wanted to be eaten by a T-Rex. Almost shaking he was so excited. I snapped lots of photos but here are the two best so far.

Mo finally in the mouth of a T-Rex.

Mo couldn't believe how tall these guys were.
They look so small on Land Before Time DVD's

As I ran Mo to the bathroom, Mistress went back to the store to buy the dinosaur shoes we got for him, (heres a link) and the owner totally comped us with all sorts of DVD's and dinosaur trinkets thanks to Mo's utter politeness and sincerity about loving dinosaurs and as a thank you to me for my time in service. I was very moved by his generosity.

Tomorrow, ahem...Today we storm the Disney Castles.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

T-minus 1 vacation

My bag is packed and ready to go. Yes that is singular. I am actually surprised at how much I am actually bringing with me for a 6 day trip to Disneyland, SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo. I have packed less clothes for trips three times as long.

It got me to thinking about when I go to Las Vegas for just a weekend. I take tons of clothes because it seems I have to change multiple times a day for different shows, restaurants, workouts, gambling (day/night), clubs.

Then thinking about my hiking and fishing trips. Barely anything clothes wise since I'll just wear the same stuff day after day plus or minus storm clothes and base layers.

These family vacations are the worst it seems so I took all the stuff on my bed and split it in half. Most of my lower body stuff has built in liners so only one pair of traveling britches. Trust me a wash in the hotel sink (or river at night), let them dry and you'll only need one pair. My travel shirts (2) are are the same thing, plus a couple of tees (can't go on any trip without a 'Finishers' shirt). 2 pairs of running shorts, 8 pairs of technical socks, 3 pairs of shoes(?).

Man how did that happen? One pair of runners dedicated for the parks. One pair of trail runners for breaking in and one pair for running or working out. Plus I am taking flip flops. I feel like such a priss. Crap I am even going to this huge outlet mall east of Palm Springs and will probably find another pair of runner there too. I am a shoe whore I suppose.

Mistress and Mo are splitting up my big bag, a 9,200 cubic inch, three foot long, duffel bag on wheels. It came in great in Florida, packing everything I needed for a week at Panama City Beach including race and training gear plus my swag from the expo plus all the touristy stuff and had room to spare. If they have enough room left in it I will just drop my stuff in there and be for the better.

I will admit that I am taking my Go-Lite Speed adventure racing pack for the parks. I have a feeling that I will be lugging a few pounds of Mighty Mo's gear and some extras for Mistress so I am going prepared. If I can downsize packs I am taking my trusty ironman drawstring pack, since according to Nytro messenger bags slung over one shoulder are a murse.

Wow know you know what I wear and how I roll. Don't you feel smarter now?

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Early morning wake up call

It not even really a early morning call. I have been up for training much earlier than 0440. But I'll tell you after Ironman last year, it really seemed pointless to get up earlier for training than I would for one of the biggest races of my life.

I understand now that its not the time that I get up its the quality, quantity and consistency of the training that is more important. I suppose now I am 'wise' enough to know I have to train my body to take naps during the day as much as I need to train it to develop a cadence of 85rpm on the bike for 112 miles.

I allow myself to buy into to quotes that work for some and not always for me. Its easy to quip, "That's to early" when able to train almost at will or have the will to train at night. Not so when my training patterns are different.

I am amazed at how IronJenny really does little training between her monthly half-ironmans, ironmans, marathons and whatever else she cooks up for herself during the season. She is truly a woman of endurance who has learned how to practice her body in the office season and enjoy her races. My partner Jeff is another of those types that performs exceedingly well with minimum training.

I can't do that. I need moderately long training hours each week, 10-18 hours consistently to even feel progress. I need long runs and long rides to build endurance. This off season allowed me to review, experiment and test what style of training works for me and it is much more journeyman than master. So its back to early morning training, at least a few days per week while the temperature is under 100 degrees. Perhaps back to two-a-days when I don't do LSD bricks.

I think perhaps I have also missed the sunrise. I have for most of my life been a morning riser and gained tremendous energy and power from being apart of natures awakening and in the last couple years have not been able or willing to do that. Watching the sun come up over the mountains in rays of misty golden hues, not yet the frightening heat but just the comfort of light that soothes mans soul after a period of darkness is a metaphor that can only be apt for those of us who enjoy the silence of a road we know that in just a few short hours will carry thousands of cars. Right now though, it just carries us and the sound of breath and our own thankfulness spoken wordlessly in the silent morning air. Mornings are opportunity's to realize we are alive.


Friday, July 6, 2007

Hey want to see my crap?

I was walking down the stairs with Mighty Mo this morning and he pointed at a collection of his school projects at the bottom of the stairs and says, "Hey daddy, do you want to see my crap?"

Wha Wha What?!?!

"My crap. Its right there."

"Mo, (cue Princess Bride)I do not think you know what that word means, do you mean crafts?"

"Noooo daddy. My. Craaaap."

I lean around the door frame and into the bedroom, "Honey, did you know Mo just asked me to look at his crap?"
A sleepy, "Hmmm, great," is all I get in response.

I turn to him as say, "Okay Mo show me."

He walks down the stairs and picks up a red circle with two long construction paper arms in the front and four small ones off the sides.

"Look Daddy. My crab."

"Mo I think daddy took a crab in his pants. Your too funny buddy."

"I know daddy, I know."

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Payroll, Wine and a new tattoo

Those are the things that have preoccupied my time today. Of course the payroll is for the employees not me, the wine is at the bar Mistress is going to tonight with her girlfriends so I am going home early to watch Mo and Jeff is the one getting the tattoo right now so this will be quick so I can get there for a few moments.

So where does this leave the intrepid age grouper? Running around for everyone else except myself and still no workout today. But its only early evening with plenty of time to do something tonight on the trainer or spin bike especially with Mistress out of the house after Mo goes down.

Vacation for me starts tomorrow afternoon but I am going to see about clearing out my old office and clearing myself out work by lunch. Then getting a decent and proper workout tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Birthday America!!

God I love this, our United States. Happy Birthday to the most generous country in the world. It and we have provided more food, more money and more aid to more countries than any other on this planet. We have sacrificed the lives of more of its citizens in the defense of freedom and protection of democratic values than any other nation that has ever existed.

We have provided shelter for the bereaved, the weak, the oppressed and the poor from all over the globe. We have stood up to tyranny on our own soil and our foundation of democracy has been duplicated by free thinking people seeking to uplift themselves from colonialism and despotism.

A toast to the greatest nation on God's green earth.

Happy Birthday America!!

God I love this, our United States. Happy Birthday to the most generous country in the world. It and we have provided more food, more money and more aid to more countries than any other on this planet. We have sacrificed the lives of more of its citizens in the defense of freedom and protection of democratic values than any other nation that has ever existed.

We have provided shelter for the bereaved, the weak, the oppressed and the poor from all over the globe. We have stood up to tyranny on our own soil and our foundation of democracy has been duplicated by free thinking people seeking to uplift themselves from colonialism and despotism.

A toast to the greatest nation on God's green earth.

Game On

Alright folks,
On Your Marks!
Get Set!

Hot damn it feels good to be back in the game. I will admit that my eight week "Off Season" has been a much needed break after 24 months of straight Ironman training. I slept in, I stayed up late. I ate well and often, mostly to my GI's distress. Yesterday I was fat, dumb and happy. Yesterday I was eating bon bons, drinking Schlitz and caressing my remote control.

Today I hunger. Today I crave. Today I yearn. I have a fever in me that burns. It heats my body with an internal flame that can only be doused in sweat and tension and motion. Its good to have it back.

I make no promises. I have no answers. In fact I have more questions now for my forth Ironman training cycle that I had for my first. I have questions about my past successes and my failures and you can be damn sure I will be seeking those answers.

I still have not committed to any more races this year and I am happy with that decision. Now my every thought and action will pull me extricably closer to Ironman Arizona 2008 and God willing a sustainable beyond. However its too early to be thinking about that race. I need to meet a series of short term goals to make the long term goal effortless.

Its begins today with Base Building, a fancy term for the Toughing Stage. 1 mile OW swim and 4 mile desert run.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Name your posion

Sat down for lunch with Jeff and John yesterday, my main training partners and the three of us started AZTRICLUB together. We discussed the next quarter of the team training schedule over Greek salads and I came face to face with my biggest training issue of the next season.

I am sure there is a quicker way to say this, but my brain won't wrap around the words. Essentially I think there are two camps of training. I am in the camp that prefers to do the same training routes over and over again, they can be boring over time but they keep me consistent but I can measure my progress. I don't mind mixing stuff up but I really like knowing that the bulk of my training is done on just a few select courses.

The other camp likes to mix it up every week, rarely doing the same course twice and rotating among several different courses over the course of the month.

I can be either person and have. Variety is good. Variety helps keep things fresh and incorporates new physical challenges. It just doesn't keep me very consistent and to be honest it doesn't keep me motivated.

I find comfort in consistency. I find comfort in doing the same thing over and over again.

Are you the type of person who prefers the same routes over and over, the type of person who likes to mix it up constantly or the type that does whatever the coach tells you to do regardless?

Monday, July 2, 2007

Long nights, late mornings

I knew going into this weekend that training would be light; my shoulder has been getting better but still having problems getting it over my head or putting too much weight on it. In fact I only got in an hour on the trainer.

I also had discussed with Mistress that I was going to go "Game On" at some point this week and wanted one last weekend of staying up late and sleeping in (till 8am) before I once again start getting up early for tri practice.

I have too much respect for quality training to pollute myself with bars, bad meals and late nights when I am in training mode so I am in bed early. I really like staying up on Friday's and Saturdays; there is usually some great B-movies or interesting historical documentary's. I also feel the effects I have on the whole family when I am around the house on a Saturday or Sunday morning as opposed to coming back just as they are going down for naps. Everyone is happier.

The next three days will be the hottest days of the year thus far, foretasted 114-117 degrees. No way I am going to any large gathering for the 4th of July at that temperature.

But I will definitely go for a short run today.