Monday, April 30, 2012


I don't think I ever explained my penchant for one word blog post titles.

The inclination stems from one of my favorite songs which is of course about my dream girl.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


As the Yogger, Geronimo and I drove back from the Leona Divide 50, we discussed this topic in detail.  Geronimo shared how at Barkleys, the term is RTC for "Refused to Continue" rather than the more standard "Did Not Finish".  Having a DNF next to my name is the ultimate shame to me, because it is a concrete and permanent declaration of official failure.

Left to Right:  Yogger, Me, everyone who passed me.

It is not my purpose in this post to put into words how I feel about this, my first ever DNF in 14 years of racing.  I might do that later, or I might not.  I'll sum it up with a few quick facts.  I didn't care much about this race, it was a training day with the yogger to get him ready for States and his 8:10 finish (better than any of my bests) proves he is on track.  I also wasn't prepared for yesterday and I knew this and still opted in anyway so perhaps I got what I really wanted out of the day, a wake up call, a big serving of humble pie.  Regardless, I think the necessary response is that it's time to chill on yoga and start running a lot more if I want to survive memorial day weekend and if I want to be able to pace Jeff at States and Rod at Vermont.

If I'm not going to get into how I feel about it, what is the purpose of this post?  The answer is that I intend to do some M&M (morbidity and mortality) about what went wrong.  Not at the psychological level, but at the physical level.  My ego, my confidence, and my drive might all be confused, as much from yesterday as from my escalating passion for yoga and my lack of personal running goals.  However, since I didn't go into yesterday intending to accomplish anything, the fact that I failed to reach the finish line is indicative of a far more basic failure than my own psychological weakness

I'm going to gloss over the obvious cause for stopping, that my left hip locked up with an injury pain that feels exactly like it did last weekend when I paced some of the #SMCOL ultra team members.  I don't know if that injury came from "peeing dog" pose on Friday morning or if I stepped into a hole on that first leg with Sarah in the dark on the dirt section and triggered something.  I'm sure it has a lot to do with not running much in the past 2 months and not running any reasonable distances this year.  I'm also confident that this particular injury will heal completely in a short timeframe so it's not really worth thinking about.  I made it to the turnaround without noticing it, so it's come a long way in the past week even though it's screaming right now.

What I really want to discuss, the purpose for this post, is how yoga and running appear to interact in my body.  Because I don't really have anything to add to the DNF discussion other than more self loathing and my blog already has plenty of that.  But I don't think there are many people with 14 years of competitive racing background who are as passionate about yoga as I have become.  There are definitely many who are strong in one and dabble in the other.  I'm certainly not strong in my practice yet, but my intentions are there and my desire as well.  I also don't think there are many bodies like mine (bulkier) who are heavily interested in both of these two pursuits, although in the ultra running subset there seems to be more variety in body types than at the pointy end of road running.  So, I think my unique addition to the discussion should center around how yoga and running, specifically ultrarunning for this post, complement and counteract each other.

I'd like to start with the good first so I can end on a sour note since that's sort of my style :)  My upper body feels great today. I have no back pain, no neck pain, no arm pain.  This is not simply the lack of any minor injury, but I'm talking a complete lack of soreness as well, from the waist up I feel as good as any other day.  I find this fascinating because I haven't run with a pack for months and typically when I don't run, my lower back is the first to complain even without a pack.  I attribute this to the benefits of spine and core strengthening on the mat and the upper body work in sculpt and boot camp classes.  I honestly believe that the 2-3 minutes of focused work, done once or twice a day, has improved my upper body stability during 8 hour trail runs.  That's interesting to me because the yogic benefits seem to be strength and power oriented, whereas the trail ultrarunning needs are endurance based.

Let me get to the punch line though.  Long before my hip locked up and my body shut down, before I stopped sweating and started getting the chills, before I found myself walking gingerly downhill and being passed by the last runners at the back of the pack, my body was giving me clear signs that it wasn't happy.  Signs I haven't seen before, and signs which have me a little confused even now.  Specifically, my hip flexors were shot by the turnaround, which would have been about mile 29.  My glutes were also complaining quite loudly.  Both are muscles that are heavily used in the style of yoga I've been practicing, especially the sculpt classes I like so much.  So, the obvious question is, if my spine and core strength from yoga has somehow benefited my running compared to my pre-yoga body, why then did my hip flexors and glutes fail so early, effectively putting my running back to a level that is below where I was three years ago when it comes to 50 mile trail runs?  I see three potential answers:

1. I've been working hard (and making gains) with glute and hip flexor strength and power in yoga and therefore I started the race off with fatigued/broken down muscles which eventually became the weakest link.

2. The work I've been doing on the mat, which has seen visually demonstrable progress, is somehow changing the underlying composition of my hip flexors and glutes, perhaps replacing slow twitch with fast twitch fibers?  I don't know anything about anatomy, so this suggestion seems like it may very well be a huge crock of s based on a sample size of 1, but I do wonder why I can lift my knees so much closer to my armpits now but I can barely run 20 miles before I start to have trouble picking my feet off the ground.

3. This one seems the most far fetched, but perhaps it is simply not possible to compare hip flexors and spine/core.  Perhaps the spine/core use even in an 8 hour trail run is still more strength/power oriented than endurance oriented?  And the hip flexors, because they are so small, maybe they just atrophy faster than other muscles.  Maybe the experiences yesterday were 100% predictable in any body and my specific body and the yoga I've been doing have nothing to do with that.

I'd like to understand this better because I don't want to give up yoga or running.  I'd like to figure out how to weave both of them into the fabric of my life.  Perhaps I need to indulge in running during the summer and yoga in the winter and perform a relay-style handoff over a month or two in the fall and again in the spring?  Perhaps if I just did 2-3 runs a week instead of 0-1 I'd be fine.  That will be the short term focus and we'll see if I can re-discover some basic competency somehow.  As far as today goes, I feel a world away from the body I had last year and multiple universes away from my 2010 body.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


As a INTJ, I find it difficult to ignore direct questions.  KS sent another round my way today and since I'm writing responses, I figured I might as well throw them up for me to re-read at a later date.

1. How do you like to eat eggs? Scrambled? Poached? Omlettes?

All of the above.  I love the incredible, edible egg.  Boiled is the least messy, though I do love scrambled and I definitely heart me some egg white omelette action.  Mom used to have a 3 egg poacher, this beat up old aluminum pan for water then three little trays with metal tabs to hold them.  The trickiest part was not burning your fingers or getting the potholder all messy, then you had to use a knife to get the egg out unless you put just the right amount of PAM on first.  I remember learning how to use it and making my own egg mcmuffins.  I don't care much for eggs benedict though, the sauce is just too rich.  And that fried egg on top of the monk's stone pot, I find it heavenly.

2. Have you ever been attracted to a man or has one ever been attracted to you?

Well this is actually two questions, now isn't it?  I'd say there are components of attraction with men, but perhaps admiration or inspiration are better words to sum up the sentiment.  Looking at Tabu's body and what it can do (and I am not stretching the truth at all when I say his eka pada has one leg pointing straight at the sky) is extremely inspiring, but from the "I wish I could do that" perspective and not the "I wish I could do that" perspective.  Experiencing Shane's peace and calm each week offers moments were I truly admire his ability to appreciate the fundamental aspect of living and breathing, but that is completely non-sexual even though it can be enlightening and sensual.  Then there is the yogger, a man with a brain that scares me with it's power, particularly when it comes to memory and word games.  So, yes, there are many men I admire in all sorts of ways.  But have I ever wanted to make out with a man?  No.

3. Do you prefer watching the sun rise or the sun set?

Camping at Makapu'u with Byro
I have this incredible memory of sunrise at the campground next to Makapu'u beach, it was intense, but maybe I was just stoked to spend a night camping with Byro and whoever else was there (Nicole?  Tara?).  Kailua (the town I grew up in) gets some amazing sunrises but as a kid I rarely woke up early enough to see them.  Waikiki and Honolulu get the incredible sunsets as does Encinitas and particularly Vulcan street.  I love them all.  I love the promise of a new day and the warmth that a sunrise foreshadows.  I love the peace and closure of wrapping up the day as the sun dips below the horizon.  That's like me asking who do you love more, your son or your daughter?  You love them both, perhaps in different ways, but certainly without inequality.  The same is true for me when it comes to this question.

Sunset at Waikiki
4. Do you take vitamins?

No, nor any supplements.  I don't put salt on my food.  I don't put sugar in my coffee.  I stopped putting honey on my acai.  I'm a zero frills type.  I noticed this tonight while I made dinner (salmon, brown rice, broccoli) and then looked at Patrick Sweeney's dinner photo he posted on facebook.

Patrick's dinner (he's vegetarian)
5. Do you have any allergies?

None that I know of = NKDA or NKA but I think the former is preferred?

6. What makes you squirm?

When someone compliments me.  I don't know how to respond.  I don't know how to accept a compliment.  I remember in yoga TT, Dan being told "you look so young" which isn't even that awesome of a compliment to a guy and he handled it so gracefully with a "wow, thank you" and then kept moving on.  That same day perhaps less than an hour before, Julia complimented me and I ignored it because it made me feel uncomfortable.  I need more practice with this.  I'd prefer if everyone just insulted me, it'd be so much easier.

7. When was the last time you laughed so hard your stomach hurt?

Tuesday morning at Gordy's with Shelley after boot camp.

8. Do you like lights on or off in the bedroom when you are with someone?

Off.  I close my eyes in adho mukha svanasana and chaturanga.  And tadasana and padahastasana.  Shoot, I have my eyes closed for a lot of my practice.  It's how I indulge my senses.  By shutting off the visual cortex, my sensations increase in intensity.  I think this might be strange?

9. Do you ever have work functions? If yes, do you go?

Fairly infrequently and I try my absolute best to blow them off.  It's just not fun to spend even more time with work people.  Although I've had a couple of jobs where the friends I made through work were personal friends as well.  It happens.  But usually that takes years to develop.  Software developers are generally fairly introverted.

10. Do you like holidays?

I like every day that doesn't require going into an office to do work :)  So, yes!

11. Am I someone you know that makes you uncomfortable as you mentioned in your posting?

No, KS, you do not make me uncomfortable.  At least not until you drag me to mysore and put me in ardha matsyendrasana and force the bind.  Then I will most definitely be uncomfortable.

12. Do you sing in the shower? In the car?

Yes and yes but not too often.  I also sang a few lines in Tabu's class today.  I was overcome with the moment, as I typically am, and I lost touch with the reality of 70 sweaty bodies surrounding me.  I'm not sure anyone noticed as we were all having our own personal pity parties.  I strongly dislike my own voice, so I only sing when the music is loud.  Since the amp in my car needs to be repaired/replaced before I can crank the tunes without distortion, I don't sing in the car that much these days.  And the last time I sang in the shower I inhaled some soap while I was washing my face and wound up coughing most of the day.  So I've sort of backed off on that too.

13. If you could go on vacation, where would you go and what would you do?

2440 Ferdinand Avenue.  I'd swim at Ala Moana.  I'd run on the HURT course and around Kapiolani Park.  I might even ride the 112 loop if I had enough time to indulge.  Then I'd go to the new CPY studio at Kahala Mall and walk to Whole Foods after and pass out on the family room floor at 8pm.  It never gets old.  Never.  Ever.  Not even close.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Alyssa posted this with credits to Colleen

I think I enjoyed it mostly because I feel like I've been through that and felt all those things, so the blend of truth and humor is well received.

What is different about being 37?  A number of things.  I've actually sort of been mulling all of this over lately.

First, let me describe another recent exchange which amused me.  I was mopping up my sweat inside the yoga studio and listening to the cleaner talk to the other cleaner about boys.  Now, let me explain the context here.  I sweat a lot more than others.  Perhaps this is genetic, or perhaps I am just extra sucky at yoga, but for whatever reason, a kiddie-pool sized moat typically forms around my mat after class.  So, I first remove my soaked towel and place it in a plastic bag, then I dry off my mat and walk out of the room, stack all of this mess up in the corner outside where it can drain off into the grass somehow.  I change into dry clothes and throw my wet stuff in that same plastic bag with the other sweat soaked towels.  Then I go back into the studio to attack that kiddie pool.  I don't have to do this last step, and I don't do it every time, but as I've gotten to be better friends with all of the instructors and cleaners, I feel a certain obligation to deal with my mess because it's by far the biggest wet spot in the room and I'm no longer an anonymous offender.

Now, the cleaners at the various studios I go to are working on trade, they get free yoga for X hours of cleaning (I don't know the exact deal, but that's the basic story.)  So, they aren't professional cleaners.  They are all young fitness enthusiasts, educated, intelligent, and taking advantage of the barter system.  Often the last cleaner for the night will take the last class and then just clean everything up afterward.  I forget if this particular woman was in the class I took or not, but she started mopping up when I went back in to grab a towel and at least try to get the bulk of my sweat off the floor so she wouldn't slip and fall and hurt herself.  Meanwhile she is talking to the second cleaner about boys, about how relationships are hard, about how the guy she's not really dating but sort of seeing for the last 2-3 years doesn't have it together but if he did she could see herself marrying him quickly.  General stuff like that, your typical story of a mid-20's relationship where it's serious but not that serious, where you are playing with your own money instead of house money and you're cautious and hesitant to go all-in but yet you contemplate that possibility with optimism.  Looking ahead 10 years from 25 to 35 you see your prime, the marrow of your young adulthood and you are far more concerned with not wasting any bit of that marrow than you are with making any permanent decisions.

I asked her how old she was and while that is a rude question, for some reason I expected a concrete answer.  I was told 20's, and I assume possibly 22 or 23 ish based on the subtleties.  I chuckled to myself, though I witheld any sort of lecture because who am I to give advice on relationships or youth or aging?

I know that seems like a non story, but the point I just failed to convey is that the big difference between my mid 20's and my mid 30's is how my confidence has changed.

The confidence I had in my mid 20's was based upon my successes and experiences.  By my mid 20's, I had figured out a few things I was halfway decent at and a few things I enjoy.  Compared to being 15 or 18, 25 seemed like an entirely different order of magnitude of confidence in myself, I knew "who" I am and I knew "what" I bring to the world.

What changed in my mid 30's?  I think it is actually the erosion of some of that confidence.  Perhaps it was false confidence, perhaps I was so bold and brazen that I thought I was stronger or more capable than I actually am?  Or perhaps the natural destructive forces of life set in and by 35 I had worn myself down from the sharpness of 25?

By our mid 30's, many of us have experienced a loss or catastrophe, a death in the family, a beatdown of significance.  Maybe we've lost a lot of money on a bad investment, maybe our heart was broken in a way that feels permanent.  Maybe we went through rehab for drugs, maybe a fire burned down our house, maybe we wind up in a foreign country traveling, or maybe we simply buy our first house and realize how damn expensive it is to try to scrape a living together these days and how confusing those instructions in one-side-spanish, one-side-english can be when trying to replace a toilet valve.

Whatever the reason, while I've never thought of myself as overconfident, I've noticed lately an increase in my humility.  I've stopped using words like "never" and "always" and I've backed off on "should".  I've begun to accept that the world is not entirely how I perceive it, that people do not act how I might expect or want them to act.  I've started to embrace all of the different personalities in my life, especially the oddball ones which make no sense or perhaps even make me uncomfortable.

When I was 24, I wanted to stretch high, reach for lofty goals, take risks, experience the full magnitude of the intensity of living.  Now that I'm 37, I'm partially broken, partially bitter, partially humble, partially confused, and completely amazed every day with how much life there is worth paying attention to beneath the surface of everyday living.

Monday, April 23, 2012


I was thinking to myself today and wondering why it is that I don't take the free candy.

I don't really have an answer to that.  Most would.  I'm not like most.

It's not that I dislike like candy.  It's just that it seems so sugary sweet and usually I'd really rather taste my own blood, sweat and tears.

A recent exchange I found amusing:

Me:  "Bong hits are the solution?"
FTBH:  "Yes!  You are finally getting it.  Bong hits, yoga, nutritious yummy food and sex with someone you are in love with.  Sprinkle in some international travel and laughter."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hood to Coast

With Ragnar Socal this weekend, my thoughts for the week have turned to the Hood to Coast relay.  I inherited a team from Tyler Abbott in 2009.  I started running with this team in 2005 and haven't missed a year since.  David Volk actually introduced me to the team, just as he introduced me to Team Challenge last year, somehow that guy is always ahead of me when it comes to finding cool stuff to do.  Tyler works for Santini foods so for years the team was known as the Santini Extra Virgins as the submasters division requires that every runner be 30 years or older.  I believe we have a streak of 20+ division titles and we've consistently been in the top 10 for all of the years in recent memory.

Tyler's spreadsheets, pre-2009:

The Extra Virgins:
Popeye & Olive Oils:

Tyler's (and Katy's and Mark's) Photo links:

I converted to google docs once I took the wheel in 2009:
2009 Data 
2010 Data
2011 Data

I could write a book about all of the experiences I've had at this race.  And maybe I'll do that tomorrow.  But for now, I'm going to let photos tell the story.


Tyler rocking the tank top.
These guys typically go for a shakeout run the morning after


Glen, 2nd from the left, has a few top 10 finishes at WS


Brian Scott and Molly Kline in the foreground.

My first year without Tyler

And our last year with 2 teams meeting up before the start


With Ken Bauer, Charisa's dad, as sacrificial lamb

Mike Davies has a few sub 2:30 marathons in the books

I was a little fired up for this

So I started out hard and hung on for dear life
I love downhill running

The pacific ocean in Oregon isn't quite as warm as so-cal

I miss the skinny days

Mt. Hood is beautiful, even in the summer

It's actually hard to run fast 3 times in a row


Bert gets the baton

Our first female submasters teammate, Lana, held her own

The shoulder toucher caught in the act

Boys don't get any cuter than Bert

Carroll takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

Mike Davies rockin' the long hair 
I know this looks like Tom Petty

But it's really Gerard aka G-man
The Yogger looking cool
Lana looking even cooler
Walsh is older than dirt and runs faster than most of us

My idol

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


KS asked me a number of questions relating to happiness.  As I developed my answers, the words all seemed like they belonged here rather than in a private response.  Perhaps for no other reason than for me to observe how my answers to these questions may change over the course of my lifetime.

Let me start by saying I think I fall outside of the bell curve on most of these answers.  I'm not like everyone else.  I don't know how that happened.  But I know that is where I am.  I know I am who I am, and I can either ignore reality or accept my differences.  I choose the later.

Also let me mention that I fell asleep writing this, so it doesn't seem very coherent.  It's not my best post.  But, it's another angle towards my thoughts so I'm leaving it un-altered.

What makes you happy?
Pain.  Specifically physical pain.  Physical pain washes away my thoughts and leaves my body and mind clean and pure in a way that nothing else can.  Fatigue slows me down and lets me chill.  The problem is that this becomes an addiction, and just like a pot-head I feel unsatisfied without ever-increasing doses of endorphins.  I recognize this and I accept it.  I work around the problem by bouncing between yoga and running, ensuring I'm never actually able to be good at either which guarantees that I feel healthy levels of suffering in both at all times.  I used to use triathlon for this purpose, and I will admit that attempting to train for 3 sports at once is a great way to ensure you never feel like you are fit enough.

Or what kind of things bring you happiness?
I like toys.  Specifically electronics, computers, stereos, and all things geeky.  "Stuff", however, lost some of its luster a couple of years ago.  At some point I switched from caring about my car to not caring.  At some point I lost interest in all my beautiful bicycles and switched my focus to two sports where gear is inconsequential.  I do have a number of items on my to do list with the house and the car and when it comes to stuff, it's all aimed at maximum utility.  Take my streaming media player + tv in the master bathroom, it's a great way to listen to pandora in the shower which is pretty cool and adds to my overall happiness.  Sure it took hours to run the network cable and mount all the hardware, but now I get to enjoy it every day.  I find that cool.

Little things?
I really like my man cave.  It's a space under my stairs where I can sleep and where the majority of my electronics are located.  Someday when I have money to burn I will make it the altitude chamber for sleeping at 10,000 feet.  It's pretty little.

But on a more normal note, I love cookies and chocolate.  And coffee as of 2 years ago.

Things people do for you?
I generally feel tremendous guilt whenever anyone does something nice for me.  I would prefer to feel neglected than to feel guilt.  But there are a few select situations where I've allowed friends to do things for me that have made me very happy.  A good example of this is the Phish concert in LA I went to last month.  I was able to enjoy a fantastic evening because of one specific person who made it all happen.  I am tremendously grateful for that.

Or things you do for people?
I really like being asked to help someone who rarely asks for help.  I think there is no greater feeling than a discriminating person seeking your expertise.  I have tremendous difficulty asking for help, so I admire greatly those who are able to do so.  At the same time, nothing annoys me more than someone constantly asking for help with things they are entirely capable of doing.  I have a few of those situations at work and I don't handle them well.

Things you do?
Sweating always makes me happy.  Even a lousy workout.

Do certain people make you happy?
Absolutely.  There are people in my life who brighten up the room when they walk in.  There are people who mesmerize me because I just can't understand them.  And there are people who I feel completely comfortable around.  Most of the people in my life fall into these categories.

Or bring you happiness?
Some people are just full of wonderful and spread natural, genuine, pure love around every day.  Most people are a bit of a combo of all of their emotions, and run the spectrum.

What things in your past have helped you feel happy?
Finishing school for good.  I've started enjoying learning more and more, but I need to feel productive more than I need to feel like I'm learning and growing.

Are there things you want that you think you could find happiness in?
I'd like to share my life with someone, I know I would find happiness in that because I've felt that way before.

Are you a happy person?
Probably not.  I assume some of my friends would say flat out no.  But I find joy in all sorts of places.  I just don't give a voice to all of the good.  Some would say that's a massive character flaw.  I would say that I choose what to internalize and what to express.

Do you want to be?
I'm pretty happy with who I am today, but I'm happy to keep learning, growing, and changing, especially to be more compatible with and understanding of the rest of the world.

I want to add a few more tidbits on pain.  I don't think I am any different than anyone else in terms of how I process pain.  I don't have a particularly high pain threshold.  I fear pain just like we all do.  I dread it.  I anticipate it and I cringe knowing what is about to come and then it comes and I wimper like a little girl.  I frequently quit in my mind before my body reaches failure.  I fall short time and time again.  When I say that pain makes me happy, I am really saying that the attention and focus I am forced to give to myself during a painful situation is what clears my head.  The pain itself, well, it hurts.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Shelley, Me, Deb.
I met Shelley on my first night of yoga teacher training.  I am not sure what brought us together, perhaps it was simply circumstance or perhaps it was predetermined fate.  It wasn't until after we became pals that I learned she likes running, dogs, and muscle failure about as much as I do.  I think I just instantly felt safe around her, perhaps because she is happily married, or perhaps because I felt like our similar occupations and passion for suffering put us in the same state of mind most days.  Much later I found out that her birthday is one day after mine, further cementing our bond as fellow Scorpios.  Since then we've shared quite a few workouts, far too many text messages, and an endless supply of laughs.  Supporting each other through the challenges life throws at both of us, we've reached a pleasant stage of relating where we can both be ourselves, we can talk about all sorts of things, and none of it is weird or remotely boring.

Last weekend I decided a good way to end my 3 or 4 week stretch of not running would be a trail marathon with the yogger.  As I could have predicted, but didn't actually bother thinking about, I had a solid meltdown at 21 and had to walk it in over the majority of the last 10k, through some freezing rain.  I found my way back to the car, 22oz of water and almost 5 hours after leaving it, only to find the yogger legitimately worried after doing the math and assuming I had been eaten by a cougar.  The yogger's baby mama showed some massive patience with that one, ooops, sorry we got back so late.  But that was Saturday.  Sunday, I felt that I deserved another round of yogger beatdown, so I met up with him and Dr. Evil for a half marathon recovery yog.  Normal people do normal things at this point in the weekend, but not being normal I had no such plans.  I promptly grabbed for my phone and started the relentless banter that lead to me picking up Shelley for back to back yoga classes to round out the afternoon. Because a true friend is one who plays up to your stupid decisions rather than asking you to chill out.
Me (11/7), Shelley (11/8), Jamie (11/7)
A funny story about Shelley is the basis for the nickname I gave her during teacher training:  Super Seated Shelley.  This nickname was not earned from sitting around, it was earned from repeated goofs calling just about every pose in the series "chair pose".  "Inhale, chair" she would typically say, raising her hands to indicate tadasana.  Some days, Natarajasana would be named chair, other days it was tree. Somehow, Shelley seemed immune from any name mixups that didn't involve chair, it was as if that word was her go-to word when she wasn't sure what was going on.  I was so tempted to whittle her a doll sized mini chair to commemorate all of this but never found the time to be so obnoxious.  I also thought about drawing a superhero comic with a cape, of a wonder-woman type seated in a rocking chair with arms lifted high and pinkies rotated in.  Inhale, chair, exhale, chair, wherever you are, just go into chair and hold it there for 5 breaths!

Last weekend was great, absolute vintage Dave and Shelley silliness, but I suppose one of the most memorable days of our friendship was the morning we held a special class for our boot camp instructors on the Sunday we had off between our two weeks of voluntary misery.  Not only did we go shopping for "youth miss" referee costumes, and not only did we keep the 6am pre-dawn schedule going, but we uncorked a level of idiocy into that morning which brought the six of us who shared the experience closer together.

Sometimes friendship is as much about those singular, undefinable, completely unplanned moments as it is about the more obvious support and encouragement tearjerker ones.  Sometimes friendship blossoms by encouraging each other's silly side.  Sometimes being a great friend means celebrating and even egging on all of those odd quirks that make each one of us unique.

Shelley, you have earned your space in my heart and I deeply appreciate all of the warmth you bring into my world.

Friday, April 13, 2012


I don't have any photos of Rico, but he's been the biggest reason why my house isn't more broken than it used to be.  He's done a lot of work here, logged countless hours, and completed a number of monster projects.

Tonight, I came home to something that blew me away.  I'd like to take an ounce of credit for this beauty, but I can't.  It grew from a concept of mine which wound up playing out differently than I expected.  Originally it was a piece for the garage, next to the dog wash station, where I now have 5 trash/recycling bins to mimic the setup found at the local whole foods.  What Rico created was simply too nice to keep in the garage so midway through we repurposed it as a linen cabinet for the upstairs hallway.  I had ripped out the old cabinets before Rico redid the floor and had never figured out a plan for new ones.  So it all seemed to make sense despite the semi convoluted evolution of thought.

I've found that Rico's best work comes from giving him the freedom to explore his own creativity.  I know life isn't about stuff, but I also know that when things tell a story, when they carry someone's love and passion, that significance permeates throughout our daily life and reverberates into our happiness.

Thank you, Rico.  I am forever in your debt for the care you have given to this place.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


This post is about what has become my favorite hour of the week, Wednesday at 7pm.  I drive a half hour in the opposite direction after work to spend this hour in a stinky, sweaty, crowded room in the middle of an ugly strip mall next to some of the seediest sections of San Diego.  I, the perpetually late guy, show up early because even though the class is scheduled to start at 7:15, it fills up by 7:00 and if I want my fix, I must be there early.  I share this special moment with a capacity crowd of like minded individuals.  Together, we exchange more sweat than words.  The body to my left is overgrown by ripped skeletal muscle, he looks like he would have no trouble pulling a semi truck out of the mud.  The body to my right screams out sinew and balance, as if she could walk a tightrope carrying a martini without a hint of wobble.  Inside this room, magic happens.

For quite some time, I have wanted to put into words how Tabu's class affects me, but I have found myself unable to do so.  The biggest reason that these words are so difficult to put together is only beginning to become clear to me.  I finally started to understand today, after I took a different sculpt class and I was actually able to remember it, how completely erased my mind feels after Tabu.  What is it that makes his class so special?  Let me start by ruling things out.

Tabu has what seems like an infinite bag of evil tricks at his disposal.  Each week feels like an entirely different car crash than the prior week because of how he mixes it all together.  Sure, there are the signature pieces that make it a legit Tabu class, signatures that the regulars know well and that the first timers may find surprising.  It's not a real Tabu show until he expresses disgust or contempt for at least one member of the room and you sure hope it isn't your turn this week.  Then there is the predictable countdown from 50 or sometimes even 100, and no I'm not kidding that each number is accounted for.  I'm especially not kidding about how he starts the count over if at least half of the room isn't shouting the numbers out loud enough to hear over the music.  Then there are the missing parts, no gentle integration, no ego pampering, no guarantees that the work is ever done before savasana.  These things, they are talking points and they are the fun flairs that add to the uniqueness, but in and of themselves, they are just the bling, not the meaty essence.

Diving a bit deeper, I see a man who is magnificent in physical form.  I see a man who looks at me and can instantly see every weaknesses and insecurity floating through my thoughts.  His eyes, they survey the entire room and everyone in it, even when you think you are properly hidden behind the moving masses.  His voice commands attention with every single word.  The simple phrase "breath in" when spoken from his mouth offers no alternative course of action.  Even if there were space for it, you take only one pair of weights with you to your mat for the Tabu show because you know he's never going to tell you to pick up the light ones.  The most intense part of class for me is actually not the moment when my HR spikes past 180 and I can't see past my nose and my breath becomes rhino-like.  The most intense part of class is when I look over and see Tabu demo 3 leg downward dog that looks more like standing splits and my mind shatters into pieces realizing how great the chasm is between what he can do and what I can do.  Strength in words, strength in body, and strength in mind, Tabu has every ounce of that.

None of that is why I like this hour so much.  It's all cool fluff, garnish if you will, but it's not the true essence that brings me back each week.  Eventually, as I get to know the man, he will become less exciting, more familiar.  Eventually, I will have seen most of the tricks in the bag and the patterns will become more predictable.  It's really not about being different or louder or fiercer than I find so appealing, though he is all of that.  I've never been one to reject conformity and I think I am actually fairly adept at embracing the repetitive and mundane sides of life.

What makes Tabu's class special is how he simultaneously embraces and rejects the concept of failure.

I can't handle Tabu's class.  Every week, it breaks me.  Every week I reach my failure point, again and again and again.  I'm not sure if Tabu himself would survive his own class, it would be Tabu against Tabu and neither would back down, so it sounds like an equation with no solution.  He will tell you that you should listen to your body and take a break if you need to, but at the same time he will tell you that you can do more, you can do another set, you can try harder, and his mere presence implores you to realize that there is no try, there is only do.  He will tell you that you are strong and he will lift you up on his back, as he wills you forward, as he demands that you give more than you thought you ever could.  Tabu does not tolerate failure, and yet his entire class is structured in a way to force you to reach failure.

Once this realization sets in, the nervousness of walking up those steps fades into acceptance.  At first I wanted so desperately to make it through an entire class without breaking down.  I set that as my goal, thinking that if I put in enough work, one day I might finish every set.  As the weeks ticked by, I modified my thinking.  There will never be a Tabu class that I can handle.  I would never want that anyway.  There is only one constant about this class, I will break and I will be forced to make a decision, actually 10 or maybe even 20 times during that hour.  That question, the one that burns in my head, the one I ask myself every week when I collapse into the sweat soaked towel on top of my mat, "how many seconds until you get up, Dave?"

Monday, April 9, 2012


Easter was always an extremely important day for my mother, mostly for the religious meaning behind all of it.  As children we would get cleaned up, dressed up, and head off to church on Easter Sunday.  I found some of the meaning lost behind the formality of it all, but I think I recognized subconsciously that something important to my mother was something I ought to step in line for.

One Easter tradition I did enjoy as a child was coloring eggs.  I suppose partly because I enjoy eating eggs, and partly because my limited creativity skills are just about right for dying easter eggs since I would always end up consuming my work before I realized how lame it was.

I hadn't seen Cody for a while, so I made plans to spend Sunday afternoon celebrating his birthday from a few weeks prior and coloring easter eggs.  On my way to pick him up, I bought a few egg coloring kits and found myself surprised at how cheap they were.  I actually hunted around for more expensive kits based on the assumption that the ones I found were probably going to be disappointing.  In actuality, they most certainly were, the colors seemed to take forever to dye the eggs, although who knows, maybe the eggs were genetically engineered to have tougher shells since I didn't buy organic, pastured eggs.  Even with vinegar added the dyes just seemed incapable of coloring anything except the grout lines of the countertop when spilled.  Why anyone thinks tile is a good choice for a countertop is beyond me.

So, enter the mind of an 11 year old boy.  I think Cody had more fun mixing colors together to make various shades of brown, asking me for more versions of purple (his favorite color) and blowing the yolks out of the eggs after poking holes in them so that he might make "smoke bombs".  He used his hands to scramble the resulting yolk mix, rendering it unfit for consumption (no biggie, although I did originally intend to cook them and serve to him) and he seemed to eschew the wire egg holders, instead using his fingers which then turned various colors.  He also repeatedly shook his dye-soaked hands out on the ground, flicking dye all over the floor tile/grout instead of using paper towels I placed in front of him.  All very normal for a child, but he kept me on my toes with the tasks of boiling eggs, cleaning counters and floors, opening the dye packs, filling the cups with water and vinegar, and giving him basic advice.

Which leads me into my insight for the day.  I think Cody is a beautiful child, full of hope and possibility. But I see his life as an uphill battle because of the circumstances dictated by his parents, circumstances which are the unfortunate result of an adult population who pushes the ideals of a family below the importance of individual happiness.

I'll explain that in more detail.  But first let me rephrase.  I think Cody has a rougher road than he would with two parents actively taking care of him.  And I'm not saying anything about the quality of parental care because I honestly think the kid would benefit from 2 lousy parents more than one awesome parent.  My personal opinion, when it comes to parents, is that 1 + 1 is a whole lot more than 2.  This is off very limited once-every-two-weeks observations of a single child, so there is no science at all here, just gut feel.  I got a glimpse of some of this during the ski trip when Brad was available to step up and help guide and lead, it made such a huge difference.

Now, let's rewind to just before I picked Cody up.  I was in his apartment, talking to Patty, and she mentioned he has started eating salads now.  I won't take all the credit for this, not having discussed it with Cody at all, but I do think that the meals we have shared which generally consist of salads for me and pizza for him, may be something he is picking up on.  There is a definite follow-the-leader and lead-by-example factor with kids at this age, they look up to adults even if they aren't able to express that in words.  I remember being the same way, a lot with my dad and my mom, and even with various other older kids and adults who demonstrated new ways of thinking and doing to me.  So, if my influence is somehow contributing to Cody's eating habits drifting in a positive direction, that's a nice little reward for my efforts that I can tuck away in my pocket and feel good about.

But, back to the eggs.  I spent most of the time with Cody preparing the eggs and colors and then cleaning up.  I spent precious little time actually interacting with him.  In retrospect, I should have bought everything and had the eggs boiled and colors tested and ready before I picked him up, but I selfishly went to Tim Miller's ashtanga class instead of doing my homework.  The more obvious solution, the one that would solve this problem indefinitely, is the addition of a 2nd parental figure.  Part of me wishes BBBS would allow 2 adults to 1 child interactions for this very reason.

With two parents actively involved in easter egg coloring with a child, one can manage the egg prep, color prep, cleanup, drying station, and basically all of the logistics.  The other parent is then free to provide creative input to the child, instruct and assist them with blowing out the yolk for the eggs, suggesting creative ideas on color choices and patterns, half and half, stripes, spirals, etc.  My limited observation is that children just don't self-teach out of pure curiosity very well because their perspective is often more limited than we realize as adults.  It's sort of like how everyone thought the world was flat until Columbus took a risk to prove otherwise.  Without a parent suggesting "hey, want to try it this way" the child is likely going to fall back into the known realm of making a big mess and not really understanding the experience, effectively the behavior patterns of a much younger version of the same child, well within the comfort zone.  Now I'm not saying an 11 y/o needs to be an adult, but I am saying that if he or she wants to grow up by taking progressive steps, the influence of the actively involved adult is one of the most important pieces in that process.  

I remember doing all sorts of things with masking tape, flowers and pantyhose with rubber bands, etc to make all sorts of crazy looking eggs when I was a kid.  And I know I stopped doing that in high school, so I don't think I was much older than Cody when I reached peak egg dying intensity.  I am sure I took it more seriously than most kids, as some sort of challenge that deserved my full attention and effort, and I'm not saying every moment has to be a silly indulgence into excessiveness.  But I am saying that I needed inspiration and initial instruction before I knew what was possible.  Once I was given that creative input, once I saw an older kid or parent coloring their egg with more skill than my own, I was then inspired to try new techniques.  

I suppose I am also saying that I find the basic tasks of parenting, the logistical ones, to absorb so much of my time that the advanced tasks of parenting, the ones that matter the most, seem to be neglected.  I suppose I give myself a failing grade on the encounter for that reason.  Or maybe other parents just clean up while their kids are napping and prep before they wake up somehow, other parents give up their workouts and personal time for the sake of the child.

I'm not intending to rip on single parents here, but it makes me sad to think of how many kids don't have access to both of their parents at the same time.  I know what it was like to have 2 actively involved parents at all times I think it was pretty damn awesome.  I always had someone available to answer my questions, show me how to do something, or inspire me to think in different ways.  I know I don't want to be a single dad, and yet I don't have any idea how to insure against that possibility because no union of consenting adults can come with terms which would eliminate the bailout option.

I find it all so fascinating, these things I took for granted about being a kid were actually privileges that many other kids did not have.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Magic Carpet

There are two different places I think of when these two words bubble up into my thoughts.  The first is the section of the Western States trail between Devil's Thumb and Deadwood Cemetery.  That section is coated with pine needles and is a gentle descent when running towards Swinging Bridge.  After Deadwood it gets steeper and muddier, but up high it's a unique experience, which is why Kona Mike calls it the magic carpet ride.  It might be one of very few effortless sections of the course.

The other magic carpet in my thoughts is the one in Shane's living room.  Underneath this magic carpet are numerous yoga mats, which add up to provide a level of cushioning similar to a gym floor.  This surface allows the evening congregation, and there's always a group gathered in this room in the evening, to perform various stretches, balances, and lifts.  Last night I managed my first ever successful transition from adho mukha into bakasana.  I also watched Summer demonstrate standing splits to full natarajasana and saw Luke's funky assist for inverted wild thing.

Both magic carpets are playtime for adults.  Both are places where I feel a unique and special energy every time I arrive.  Both are spaces which exist both in the physical world and as virtual manifestations in my mind.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I attempted kurmasana for what I think is the first time today.  I've started the prep for it once or twice in the past, but never attempted a full effort until today.  The pose looks nothing like a tortoise in my body.  Nothing at all.  While I was in "full" (and let's use that word very lightly) expression, Shane mentioned to me that the chin should be resting on the mat.  I couldn't help but laugh.

After savasana, I started thinking back to Saturday.  And laughing some more.  I took it on the chin on Saturday.  As an unpaid volunteer, I woke up at 2am and returned home after 8pm, logging 18 hours of activity for a race that turns a large profit.  I have no regrets about spending one day of each year doing this, but again, I find it amusing irony sometimes.

I managed to keep my cool and enjoy myself, but I did notice my patience wearing thin on two occasions.  The first happened when the predictable condescending words were spoken to my by oceanside pd when I did not have volunteers placed at every driveway 2 hours before the lead cyclist was scheduled to arrive.  I don't object to the reminder, shoot, we all should be grateful for others when they keep us on task.  But the manner in which the information is conveyed does matter, and it doesn't help anyone out when someone approaches a problem with a sour attitude and finger pointing.

The second occasion was actually a series of occasions at one of the run aid stations where I was apparently the scapegoat for missing and broken equipment and supplies.  I got a few "you guys are really messing up this year" and I again laughed to myself.  Nobody cares that I'm just some schmo off the street who gives up a day of his time for free to make the race slightly better.  I suppose because I've been given and proudly wear my orange "Course Guy" t-shirt, most people think I'm on the company dime.  I'm actually fairly cashflow negative on this race after spending 5 years paying entry fees and another 7 driving my truck all over the course, not even counting what my time is worth.  Meanwhile the police are paid for their time and the run course captains are securing funding for the groups they have working their station.

I suppose that internal laugh is what makes it all seem OK.  Life can be absurd sometimes.  Taking it on the chin is just another aspect of everyday silliness.  I used to feel an urge to react, to put someone in their place when I felt they were not aware of how they were acting within the context of everything.  After further review, this is no longer a concern of mine, at least not for other adults.  Now I just sort of grin and take it on the chin, and try to enjoy the satisfaction of humility.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


I'm going to blog this out in hopes that it brings me some stress relief.

I have my mortgage for the Vista house set up through BofA online bill pay.  This ensures I don't have to think about it, it's a great convenience, an example of a great value added service.  I love BofA online bill pay and I use it for all of my bills except the few which are variable amount and don't issue e-bills, which I think is limited to the water/sewer bill for both properties.  Property taxes are paid in November and February.  I have an escrow account for that which basically spreads out the property tax and homeowners insurance over 12 months and ensures those bills are paid on time.  It's been working nicely since 2005, and once BofA bought Countrywide, I can see all my balances online which is really nice.

So, the trouble started with the last property tax payment.  When it was made, my account was re-assessed and the escrow payment increased by about $100.  I am told this is to cover an increase in property taxes (not sure how that makes sense b/c property values have not increased, but it's not like I have any control over that anyway) and also for some sort of slush buffer that is $60/month which sounded like a total BS way for them to make a few pennies in interest off all of their customers.  The BofA agent said she can manipulate this amount for me if necessary, but whatever, the whole point of an escrow account is to have a slush fund for this stuff so I don't object to a reasonable amount of overestimation.

My mortgage is a 30 year fixed.

The problem occurred when the new payment amount exceeded my recurring payment plan amount.  Apparently when that happens, the loan servicing department rejects the payment and sends it back to the originator.  BofA online bill pay deducts the amount of the payment from the account it came from on the day it was received by the recipient.  So, we are now over a month past due and the money is still effectively lost in some system somewhere, inaccessible to me, and similarly inaccessible to the loan servicing department, simply because the escrow payment increased (with no notice given to me, not even an email) even though the payment amount greatly exceeded the mortgage payment principal and interest and even though the next property tax payment is November.

I noticed this only because I went to my property address to collect the rent check from the tenants and saw the mailed notices.  They were sent to the property address even though every other address on record at BofA is my current residence.  There's a cool blog about this somewhere, about how data is replicated all over various systems, but it's an even greater red flag when you consider that one company, BofA, and one account, mine, has multiple addresses in multiple disparate systems.  The illusion of integration that is given by the fairly nice and very usable BofA web system hides the myriad of inconsistencies and data silos which run the process of checking, saving, and loan servicing departments.  I know how complicated that all is, having worked for a lender for a few years and having worked with information systems for 16 years now.

But it gets better.  The website prompts me, upon logging in, which I apparently haven't done since the 15th when the payment became past due even though it was processed on the 5th and apparently rejected sometime after that.  The problem could have been identified on the 15th, but it wasn't because my mailing address was the property address which I only check once a month when I pick up my tenant's rent check.  Anyway, the website prompts me to pay the past due amount and the current month's amount but as I go through the clicks for this I realize I don't actually have the funds to pay 2 more mortgage payments of an increased value because the payment from 3/5 is still sitting out in some system somewhere, a system owned by BofA, but one which operates in terms of weeks, accepting paper checks and issuing paper checks when the incoming paper checks are rejected.  So I have to cancel my double-payment after I make it.  Then I schedule a single payment, but apparently I did that after midnight EST so it's still in "processing" until tomorrow and doesn't even show up on the loan servicing system's radar, while the canceled double payment does.  Who knows, they may only receive one payment per day so it's possible that my single payment winds up getting lost in the void as well.

It's all just laughable really.  One of premier companies has the same issues that everyone else does.  Data resides in multiple disparate systems which don't integrate seamlessly with each other because they were all designed by different people, and many of them were built years ago.  Data (and money) flow between systems takes far too long.  And we, as customers, pretty much have no way to help fix some of the problems that occur even when they weren't caused by a mistake on our part.

The giant wheel of the American economy just keeps grinding away at a steady pace.  Put a finger in one of the cogs and it will surely get severed.  Acceptance is the only way to deal with it.  Meanwhile, the American dream of home ownership has been decaying at a rapid pace since the housing bust.  This particular property may be worth less than the mortgage, so there is no way to refinance it, even though 30% of the original purchase price has been paid at this point.  A loan modification might be an option if I were willing to intentionally miss a few payments and deal with a credit hit.  Interest rates are about 1.5 points lower than when I bought, which would more than cover the differential caused by this increase in escrow account payment.  But more important than any of this, because of the state of the economy and corporate greed, no person is assigned the responsibility of looking over the systems, to identify problems which could be easily resolved with a phone call, so the cogs keep turning and everything deteriorates.

I guess my point is that the role of the system developer/designer is sadly under-appreciated because we all seem to accept the absurdities of modern living.  It would take years and millions if not billions to rebuild the systems BofA uses, and the efficiencies gained would be visible only in problem situations such as this one.  As a database guy, I know how easy it is to deactivate one record and reactivate a different one, but transferring money can't be done this way, it must have accountability, traceability, and a clean audit trail.  The reality of James Cameron's Terminator exists today, only without the drama and glamour.  We have become slaves to the machines which run our world and it will take a tremendous effort to turn that around, an effort by developers who are typically treated as costs instead of opportunities for future stability, efficiency and growth.

* I changed glamor to glamour b/c it just didn't look right and after reading this.