Sunday, January 01, 2017

Gaps In The Deluge

The storms from last night continued through most of today. Sometimes the rain appeared to be going sideways as great gusts of wind caught it.

Escaped our confinement briefly to walk around the neighborhood with Cindy. (Was supposed to run. That didn't pan out!)

During another gap in the deluge, Glenda & Tolar stopped by mid-day. To wake The Edgy Teens and touch base. Happy New Years and tales about growing up in the balmy depths of South Mississippi.

And during a final lapse in the waves of rain, we went to see Star Wars: Nobody Bathes, Interesting flick. Bit predictable. Bit of a divergence from the norm. Better writing. Better acting. Stellar effects. Much enjoyment by everyone involved.

Afterwards, bit of the ol' Guitar Hero for my Edgy Teens. Apparently the position of the mouth is critical to their success. Meg did well. Liam played on a level so difficult that my brain couldn't process the action. And yet they both earned nearly perfect scores. Breath taking to watch these kids in action. "Blessed," is the phrase we use most often. And we continue to enjoy it while it lasts.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Peter Anderson Festival - 2016

Took Cindy to The Peter Anderson Art Festival, in Ocean Springs, this morning. From nearly zero steps on Tuesday to three miles of art festival on Sunday! Over 500 exhibitors. All manner of arts and crafts and tattoos and food and Daisy Dukes and a beautiful parade of slow eclectic Southerns strolling the streets of one of the most laid back towns on The Gulf Coast.

Saw art that reminded us of The Girl. Saw art that reminded us The Boy. Art that reminded us of our parents. Our friends. Shakespeare. Each other. Even... the dog!

Then lunch at Woody's. Bison for He. California Burger for She. Nearly 6800 steps, today. And all is right in the universe. For now.





Saturday, November 05, 2016

Stepping Up

First weekend of increased mobility in the wake of The Procedure. Have been increasing my volume of steps each day since ditching The Blue Crutches.

  • Wednesday: 1703 steps
  • Thursday: 2430 steps
  • Friday: 5740 steps
  • Saturday: 6383 steps
Very happy with the direct of my recovery. And overall progress. Very little pain. Most of my non-fitness activities have returned to their norms. And once the stitches are removed (on Wednesday) there should be an opportunity to introduce some mobility work and maybe some light training. In the meanwhile, it is just one day at a time.

Covered all the steps today by visiting the Long Beach Farmer's Market, then went to hang out with my parents for a while, and finally had lunch with RPG. Enjoyed catching up with everyone and getting out of the house for several hours. 

Wrapped up the day with a walk through the neighborhood, some MMA on television, and a marathon round of Clean Up Jon's Bookmarks (six years worth!) 

Great day! Looking forward to many more in the future.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Leaving Wells Fargo - Part II - Kids Accounts

The second stage of abandoning Wells Fargo. This time we're opening accounts for The Kids. Somewhat easier because they're young and don't actually have a legal say in the matter. Nor are they legally required to be involved. Slightly complicated by trying to get Navigator to match the exact same setup we' are currently using.  Nothing to difficult or unusual. Each kid has their own account. We're their owners. That sort of thing. But two kids means twice the work. 

How did it go? Good and Bad. 

Good: It was easy. The service person did all the complicate mumbo jumbo. Lots of clickity clackity on the keyboard mostly. Some scanning. Some online entries. We only had to sign on an electronic signature pad. About a dozen times. Per kid! Amount of actual effort required by us? Bring in ID for everyone, sign two dozen times. Done. 

Bad news: It took significantly longer than planned. About half an hour per account. So an hour all together. Based on my initial opening of the count, we budgeted thirty minutes, total. 

What should we have done differently? We should have dropped off copies of the kid's ID, gone to lunch, then come back when all the paperwork was done and spent <5min dance.="" div="" doing="" signature="" the="">

Next step? Setup direct deposits at work. The spice must flow! But we do not know if the funds will flip in two weeks, four weeks, or more. Have to check out the exact timing, then plan accordingly.

Verdict so far? Very easy!  Navigator is modern, quick, friendly, provide superior customer service, and they're all about maximizing value to its members, not maximizing profit for their shareholders at the expense of their customers.

Stay tuned for more. And if you want to help fix the problems with our economy, start looking for a Credit Union in your neck of the woods. We'll get it done, together!

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Won't Be Missed

Progress continues at a steady pace. Still fairly pain free. (Aside from the occasional pinch of stitches pulled too tight too quickly . . .) Haven't needed even the first bit of medicinal relief, even on the day of the procedure. Just a slight hint of blood appearing on the bandage after a day of walking on it. No crutches for the second day in a row. And my gait is improving!

So, with little fanfare but much respect, it is time to say goodbye to my friends: the blue crutches. You served me well and faithfully until the end.  Your aid was greatly appreciated. But you won't be missed.

And Your Humble Narrator shuffles of to his next slow milestone. But looking forward to future adventures and opportunities to excel.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

On My Feet

My journey to recovery continues, at full speed, and today brought several "Firsts:"

  • First day back to The Office since having surgery. It went well as everyone was supportive and eager to help when needed. Lunch took longer than usual. Breaks did, too. But one of my favorite projects came closer to fruition and we're starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. 
  • First shower in a week. Been taking an awkward bath, instead. The Wound was sealed inside a Ziplock Bag and my whole leg was propped up, high and dry, on the side of the tub. Not an ideal solution, but it kept things clean and healthy. 
  • First unaided steps! Spoke to the doctor today she said that some exploratory steps were permissible. As long as it didn't hurt (too much) and it did not cause any damage to the exposed portion of The Wound. So that happened. And the crutches have gone unused since we all came back home. 
Feels good to be fully upright and on my own legs again. Six days of half-hopping everywhere was definitely twisting up my back. Hopefully recovery continues at this pace,the wound keeps closing, and there are races and coaching and more in my future. For now, it is a victory just to be on my feet. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Chicks Dig Scars

The irony is not lost on me. The first 35+ years of my life were idly spent without any sincere form of fitness. While there was a definitely a good degree of happiness involved in many of those years, most of my 30s consisted of a slow spiral of deterioration mixed with a hybrid dose of depression plus personal disappointment.

Flat forward to today. And my mood apparently sours after just five days without some form of fitness. (Aided by the soreness of crutches rubbing against uncushioned ribs, the Good Leg cramping from beating the burden of the Bad Leg, and the constantly uncertainty of when any form of serious activity is even possible again.)

Yes, yes. A large glass of White Whine. Remember the good news:
Still have the foot. Clean bill of health. Road to recovery. This too shall pass.
Got it. Cheering up. As we speak. Much better now. Thanks!

Fortunately, the weekend hasn't been a total loss. Spent a great deal of time catching up on digital projects. Watched several entertaining movies based on Marvel graphic novels. Had plenty of time with the family. The house is the cleanest it has been in many moons. And almost the whole week of meals has been prep'ed. So whilst depression has been looming on the horizon, productivity has been rampant.

For the gluttons out there, a SMALL photo from today's "Airing of the Wound" has been attached. Not my intention to disturb anyone, but several folks have expressed interest. The main concern right now is keeping everything sealed and letting the minor gap in the middle of the excised area to close. Each day has shown an improvement.

The current thinking is: continue to keep everything immaculately clean, continue to avoid any weight-bearing activities by using the crutches, and hope the "boot" arrives soon. In the meanwhile, IronNerd is hopping around (poorly) resisting the urge to complain.

Skin graft? No. Physical therapy? Probably not. Scar? Probably so. But, to borrow from my old friend Evel Knievel: Bones heal, and chicks dig scars.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Wounded Or Not

Wounded or not, IronNerd's work is never done. Today's adventures included: hoisting a DHCP service to replacing those lost by a dying router, swapping a UPS that didn't need to be swapped, ordering a 220v outlet at the last possible hour, and scrounging for nearly a dozen network ports on switches that had no holes to fill. The project comes to fruition on Monday. If it goes well, there will be more of them along the same line. If it doesn't go well... ...let's agree that it will go well.

Rest this weekend. Visit The Parents. Prep meals for the coming week. Hopefully heal. And then back in the saddle on Monday. One way or another.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Liam At The Crossroads

Liam visited the Crossroads today. Rosedale, Mississippi. Where Robert Johnson sold his soul to The Devil. Exchanged it briefly for musical genius.

 Man sitting off to the side of the road on a log at the crossroads says, “You’re late, Robert Johnson.” Robert Johnson drops to his knees and says, “Maybe not.”

Whirlwind tour for Liam & The Blue Notes: Rosedale, Tunica, Memphis. Cotton fields. A juke joint. Grave sites. Historic grocery stores. Lonely back roads. All too present in the thick social airs of Mississippi. Some things never change. Not down here. Time doesn't touch us in certain places.

Liam's goup passed a sign commemorating the site where 14yr old Emmett Till's body was pulled from the river. The sign was riddled with bullet holes. And never repaired. Sadness and hate in a long embrace. 21st century and this is how we show our respect. How we come together as a culture and try to overcome stereotypes. Or do we just wear these scars a little too proudly? Some things never change. And we wonder why The Aliens won't talk to us?

But hopefully Liam and his generation can leave behind such petty differences. Learn from the mistakes of all our previous generations. Start new, productive conversations. And maybe he strike one up with a higher intelligence, one my generation was willing, or able, to meet.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Procedure Du Jour

Yes, yes. The Procedure Du Jour. But you must suffer through my telling of it!

 0530 - Up with with two women (My Bride & The Girl) who did not wish to be up at 0530 and dealing with the woes of Your Humble Narrator.

0600 - The Girl is deposited at Her Grandmother's House, where she ponders the universe from a 14yr old's perspective, and waits to be dropped off at High School while My Bride continue to drive the two of us to Memorial for The Procedure.

0700 - Admitted to Pre-Op Whereupon a scrub-festooned army of different nurses randomly visit for the next two hours. Your Humble Narrator figured it was to argue over who was to do the sponging, later. But it turned out to be formalities such as: Do you have any dentures or piercings? When is the last time you ate? (Which was asked at least five times!) Are you allergic to anything? (Just pain...) Who will make medical decisions for you in the event that you are not able to? And can I get you a blanket, or anything? (Since they are apparently required to keep the Surgical Unit at the precise temperature that begins to slow your heartbeat, without throwing you into full blown hypothermia!) Oh yeah, at some point, one of the Inquisitors came through and decided their lovely veins on my arm were not as lovely as the veins on the back of my hand and put the IV in there.

0900 - Wheeled into OR4. Slid me onto a separate, much colder bed, removed my glasses and placed an antiseptic-smelling mask over my face in one very ninja-like movement, and plunged me into darkness after only twice saying, "Smooth deep breaths." The rest was silence.

1000 - Or thereabouts - The high tides retreat and Your Humble Narrator's brain comes up for its own air. Felt decidedly hung over for the first few minutes as Arthur ("Call me Art") asks "How are you doing?" and takes my vital signs every 74 seconds. After the fifth rotation of questions and vitals, my eyes are able to stay open as the dizziness from the Anesthesia  Hangover has subsided and my answers likely become more coherent and less pseudo vulgar.For the next hour, the excitement continues to mount. First one of my neighbors goes into anaphylactic shock and  is hit with multiple unsuccessful syringes of epinephrine before they re-sedate her and wheel her off to the ICU.Then a new neighbor is brought in, after receiving "back surgery." As his brain wakes up, it decides that combat is called for. Immediate combat! His body responds by kicking off the sheets, to the shock and awe of his nurse (Bart (Yes, that was his name!)) And when The Combatant decides to start at the various lines and tubes cleverly plugged into him, my nurse ("Call me Art") leaps into action to support the embattled Nurse Bart. Being the most lucid patient on the unit certainly had its advantages and thankfully no additional aid was required for me. Because none was available. But the free entertainment helped pass the time.

1100 - Back to the Pre-Op, where My Bride awaited.......patiently. (*rimshot*) My doctor had already left instructions for future care. An impressively strong prescription was ordered. Additional wraps put in place as soon my first attempt at standing resulted in a trickle of blood being released from the initial wraps. The Mandatory Itchy & Flimsy Gown was removed, to replaced by Nerd Approved street clothes. And then the long Wheel Chair Ride of Shame back to our car.

1200 - Stopped to be measured for a "brace" that won't arrive for 7 - 10 days later.

1300 - Home again. Without a skin graft. And surprisingly NOT in any form of pain or discomfort. But quite hungry, having not eaten all day.

And that, My Friends, concludes The Procedure Du Jour. Further updates will be provided as they become available. Including unfiltered commentary about the lack of fitness which will follow...

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Last Supper

Stupid procedure tomorrow. 0630. Broad excision around Ye Ol Aberration on the left ankle. Should be a lot of fun. Including the anesthesia. Nothing quite like another human taking full responsibility for your breathing while another take a knife to you! There's always a risk of complications with THAT process, by itself. (Flashback to my Grandfather's botched anesthesia!)

So Cindy took me to The 27th Avenue Burger Bar, for a last supper. Just in case. Your Humble Narrator ordered The Woodsman, which is a venison burger topped with foie gras, caramelized onions, local salt-cured bacon strips, and a fried egg. Along with a side of Parmesan fries. My Bride partook of the Crabby Patty & Chips.

Washed it down with a couple of Not Your Father's Rootbeers. Discussed the Rap/Gospel fusion as well as random hookers that plagued me at the Roach Motel during my early months in Atlanta as well and the Legendary Ghost Pimp.Great food and a great time with The Beloved. If tomorrow is my last day, tonight was a good night for A Last Supper.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Before Bed

Whatever you do, DO NOT experiment with your Training Mask before you go to bed!!! There won't be much sleep involved! And stray thoughts will be bouncing off the inside of your skull like Ricochet Rabbit! Prescription for insomnia right there. Trust me. Here there be monsters. Definitely not one of my smarter moves and it won't be repeated in the future.

(But the mask is an interesting tool, if you use it correctly (and during the proper time!))

Monday, September 05, 2016

River Roux Training - Week 2

A poor training week by anyone's standards. Missed several workouts, flats during a ride, an unexpected request, missed mobility often, and briefly fought off a cold. But the highlights did include: an amazing ride and an interesting run.

Rested, completely, today. (Even had a great night's sleep!) Liam carpooled back to MSMS. Prep'ed my food for the week. And went to see Hell Or High Water with Cindy. (Great movie with an exceptional sound track.)

Hoping to get back on schedule, tomorrow. Swim, bike, mobility, and steps.  Or at least some combination of those. Who knows what tomorrow brings for Your Humble Narrator.



Sunday, August 28, 2016

Did well enough

Nothing like a little 47 mile bike ride to start your morning. Luke, Jack & Onnie, Jen & Chris, and IronNerd.

The usual route around Robinwood, then over to the Traditions course, up to 67, to Loraine Cowan, and back again.

You can imagine how it went: long, hot, sweaty, and ultimately boring. Worst of all, it only burned 1300 calories!

Happy with the outcome. Did well enough. Hopefully it continues to improve.

We shall see.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Teachers & Anniversaries

August 20th marks Parents' Day at The MS School of Math & Science. Wake up early, more meetings, more reassurances that our students are in good hands, and ample appreciation that we were willing to send our offspring "off to school" two years early. One kid has already gone home. A couple more are on the watch list. But Liam is doing well and he is settling into his new schedule with surprising ease. Hoping Meg sees the value, gets past her inherent fear of the unknown, and she could be the second McDougal to land here, in a couple of year.

After the formalities, we went from class to class and met each of Liam's teachers. Each one of them was amazing. It's pretty much a guided tour through college for Juniors & Seniors in High School. So many opportunities and challenges. Projects and expectations. Most (if not all?) of the instructors have post-graduate degrees. And many of them have their doctoral degrees. If things work out, Liam will have several high-value projects under his belt, lots of official research experience from internships at MSU, and a ton of college credits from two years of AP classes. We were excited about his possibilities before today, but we're even more excited now.

August 20th also marks an interesting anniversary: Jon Met Cindy in 1994. Eight thousand, thirty six days ago. Or, is slightly harder to believe terms: twenty two years. A hot August night. Her last one before nursing school. My first one after finishing Spring Semester at the University of South Alabama. We quoted Shakespeare and had too many drinks and a nearly vulgar amount of kissing. And more than two decades later: here we are: sitting the classroom of our oldest kid, thinking it may be the future for our youngest kid.

Whoddathunk?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Happy To Be Reunited

Four hours to Columbus. Side quest: install a new firewall and smart power at a certain local donut maker. (Double dark donuts, mmmmmm!) Main quest: Visit with Liam for the first time in three weeks!

The work went well, despite doing most of it while precariously balanced atop a step ladder, having to one-handedly cut through a dozen zip ties, and being bombarded by a Divatastic cacophony of mutated pseudo-English from angry, unseen employees. Couple of brief scares while the cable modem slowly awoke from its digital slumber. But otherwise, mission accomplished!

Afterwards, Cindy parked half away to Georgia and BOOM Liam surprised me by walking in alone! All lanky and relaxed, like his Old Man, rapidly approaching six feet tall, and (hopefully) happy to see me. 
Our first official meal together was at our favorite Columbus dive: Little Dooey! Spectacularly flavorfull. Surprisingly lowbrow. You order at the register and then they "holler it" to the kitchen. Twenty minutes of killing flies along the window sill later, the deliciousness arrives. Wraps and shrimp and pulled pork, oh my! Really scary how good it is versus the quality of the facility. But we're not going to ruin the secret by telling anyone, other than you.

Afterwards, we were tired from the drive. And Liam was tired from a tough week at school. Unpacked at the hotel, management rolled in a giant coffin-like bed, for Meg, and we proceeded to work from our digital addictions to sleep at our own pace. Happy to be reunited, for however long it will last.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Back To The River

This triathlon season hasn't gone as expected. An unexpected change of jobs, the closure of my primary training facility,  supporting Liam's transition to MSMS, and all the extra associated stress have severely degraded my training to the point where competing in the short term is just a waste of time and money. My biking is good but my run is poor and a swim session hasn't happened in weeks. So several races (Possum Town, Cultivation Nation, and Ryanman)  are no longer in my future, for 2016. 

The New Plan is to restart a 12 Week Training Program, and compete at River Roux on Saturday, November 12th. (Along with several running events  between then and now.) Resume my custom strength & conditioning. Resume my mobility. And resume my modified swimming drills.

So, it's back to The River for 2016. Stick along for the ride! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Big Pitch

Second visit to a big client today. Lots of new notes. Reports and admonitions. All the Sales and Partners and the CIO and IronNerd, together to present The Big Pitch. Selling ourselves and our vision for their digital future. Get them to come on board. In some form or another. They'd be a huge addition to our roster. With plenty of nummy technology to wade through. Lots and lots of it. One of our biggest assimilations to date. And another step towards achieving our goals as a small, local business.

Work. Work. Work. That's all you'd see of me recently. High end projects from a high energy guy. But something has to change, soon. This time last year, Your Humble Narrator was returning from a training camp in Chattanooga. Pretty much in top shape and ready to race. These days? See above! Work. Work. Work. And my shape is threatening to become: round.

At least we're done with The Big Pitch. Now on to other adventures.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

In Da Mouf

My disappearances are never planned. They grow from a seed of discontent and blossom into mighty growths of Sloth & Lethargy. One day gets past me. Then one week. Ad nausea. For a while, there was significant volumes of training consuming my cycles. Like 2-4 workouts per day!  But recently my absence has been due to a boringly mundane reason: work.  My day job. That Which Pays The Bills.

After a coworker left, the main bulk of complex projects (and a full time schedule!)  fell very unexpectedly onto my shoulders. We forecast that it would be 6 months before they could generate 40hrs per week of work for me. We didn't make it 6 weeks! These days, it is non-stop at the office. And many nights my thoughts are fixated on projects: what's next, what needs to be done, what's behind schedule, what's going where.

It has negatively affected my mood and personal productivity. My fuse is short. My energy is gone. My time is completely gone. And nothing feels good any more. It is like slowly chewing through a buffet moments after major oral surgery. Nothing but numbness and disinterest in anything other than uninterrupted silence for as long as possible.

Trying to get back on track, though. Resume proper training. Reschedule mobility and recovery. Get in my steps. Get back to serious training of myself and others. Just try to shrug off the negativity of my nerdly ways during the day. And refocus on improving the situation while planning for a better tomorrow. One day at a time.That's the plan, at least. But, as Mike Tyson warned us: Everybody has a plan until they get punched in da mouf!

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Humidity & Burnt Ends

Eldest Brother Kimmer ventured through the heat to get some PT for his new FrankenKnee. (Four weeks old, today!) Almost an hour on the recumbent bike for him. A mile in the pool for me, then a couple of miles on the recumbent. Both of us working on improving our form and waging the continual war against aging. Just over a decade (or was it a century?) ago, we would hit the gym together, in Atlanta. His stack of weights went anywhere from 200 - 400 pounds. My stack would rarely break 100 pounds. His pecs were bigger than my head. And on "leg day," he'd bring the whole gym to a screeching halt as we loaded more than 1400lbs onto the leg press sled and he'd do dozens of reps. Sometimes having me stand on top, when he wanted a real challenge. These days, he's a cancer survivor. slowly replacing bits and pieces of himself that have worn out, and working on the range of motion instead of his one rep max.

After the gym, we stopped by one of my favorite local joints: Murky Waters for an unrivaled dose of humidity & burnt ends & blues in the Deep South. We both ended up rocking a plate of 'ends. Mine showed up with fried okra. (When onion rings were ordered.) But they ended up being consumed along with multiple beers and anything else that landed on the bar in front of us.

Believe it or not, but we usually talk on a daily basis. Even though we're hundreds of miles apart. (The same with Uncle Ron, btw!) Thank you, Mister Internet. So on occasions like these, when we get together in person, we catch up quickly and rapidly get down to business: complaining about our age, the state of the union, and the ever-increasing-impossibility of actually retiring one day.  We relive some of the glory days. Compare notes on missing comrades. And eventually drag back to our kids and wives and the routine drag of our new normal.

We'll see what the rest of his trip holds. Hopefully more training and more nights on the town. Everything in moderation. And everything enjoyed while it lasts.


Monday, June 06, 2016

Monday Night Jams

Aside from the new-normal late start, the ad hoc band was in rare form, tonight. (As opposed to last Monday, which was canceled!) The first song was a crazy wild jam that originated in some odd guitar modulations from Diggs. Then they moved into some blues. And some old familiar tunes followed. All along the way, the spirit had clearly descended upon Liam and he was cranking out funktastic bass licks with brisk authority. The realization of what is happening never ceases to amaze me. The guitarists are mostly just strumming, but Liam doesn't have that luxury. He's not only constantly providing the rhythm,  improvising as he finds openings, often unexpectedly changing the tempo, and watching for subtle queues to end the song or extend the song, or lower his volume for somebody's solo. Anyone up there doing this would earn my respect. But it helps that he's my son. And the kid is just 16!

Six more weeks, though. Then he is off to Columbus. Will happen before we know it. Far before we're actually ready for it. So we're enjoying every performance, while they last.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

The Hall Mob Returns

Kim & Nenna came down for their annual pilgrimage to South Hell. Much more difficult this year, though. Complications include: three kids, two dogs, and one artificial joint. (Poor Nenna!) Last year, Kimmer was recovering from cancer. This year, he's brought a four week old, bionic knee! (He does nothing lightly.) He's doing very well, though. The scar is beginning to fade. He's barely using a cane to walk. And the pain diminishes on a regular basis.  Then, on top of their own challenges, just as they arrive, the first hurricane of the season enters the Gulf. (Though it will eventually take a very hard right turn and sputter out over central Florida.) Ominous foreshadowing?

We grab some lunch at the Cajun Crawfish Hut and meet the new addition to his family. It shocks all of us to consider that Liam (my oldest) could actually have a child Mark's age (Kim's youngest!) Making me eligible to be a grandfather? Once upon a time, Kimmer played Santa Claus for my children, at Christmas. These days, my kids could babysit his. Man oh man oh man, time flies quickly. Too damn quickly....

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Grandman 2016

The storms began around 1am. The sky cracked in half and debris crashed outside my too-thin window until seconds before my alarm rang at 4am. Right then and there, going home seemed like an infinitely more enjoyable option than racing. But quitting isn't in my blood. And too many people expected to see me at the finish line. Couldn't let them, or myself, down by not at least trying to race. So, protein shake, pack, and hit the still-dark road by 5am. And get to transition as the sun peeks above the horizon at 5:30am.

Thankfully there was no rain in store for us. Transition setup was uneventful. And a practice swim revealed that we could easily stand-up just past the half-way point of the course. While not particularly worried about drowning, it was soothing to know the water wasn't particularly deep.

Being #360 had some interesting consequences. Waiting to start the swim took forever. And any "warm-up" was gone by the time my turn came. The water felt just right. The crowd wasn't very thick, even near the turn. And there wasn't much wrestling this year. (As opposed to last year when it was almost a slobberknocker at times!) Swam up very close to shore. Hit the ground running. And finished with an average of 1:35/100. Unfortunately too many zig zags resulted in nearly 100 extra meters of swimming and my total swim time was 11:59. Well beyond my plans...

Hit the bike, conquered our favorite hill, and settled into aero for the duration. Starting in the middle of the line-up resulted in passing lots and lots of folks during the ride. A bit surprised at how many people had to be admonished for riding in the middle, or even the left side of the road. But passing folks helps me pass the time and strokes the agressive part of my Lizard Brain. So it was go go go for Your Humble Narrator.

To the best of my recollection, only two people came around me during the bike ride. Felt good about that. Slowed a bit during the last mile. Had trouble getting the Velcro undone on my shoes, which ruined my attempt at a quick dismount. But otherwise it went well and my moving average turned out to be 20.3MPH, which is a new personal record!

Then came the run. (sigh) Way way way off my pace. Couldn't settle into a comfortable position and kept stressing about my stomach. Maybe it was too much water. Maybe not enough water. Maybe it was the heat. Or the long uphill climb. But by the second mile, it was a struggle not to completely stop and the final water station did result in 30 seconds (or more) of walking to collect my breath. Run time: 33:42.

Total race time: 1:42:17. Last year was in the 1:38:XX. Swim was actually better than last year. Bike was better than last year. Run clobbered me. But it is what it is, not too terribly bad, and still early in the season. There's plenty of time to focus on the run.

Afterwards, stayed to watch several of my friends and team members finish. Very proud of all of them, but a big shoutout to my favorite Athena: Wendy! She struggles with the voices of her lizard telling her that she can't do it and she's not good enough to finish. She pushed through all that though and finished without puking, crying, or dying. So we'll mark that up as a victory and keep working towards a sub-2hr finish.

And then there is Mi Amigos Locos: Charlie & Alvi. Two big Clydesdales with families and full time jobs and additional struggles of their own. Alvi's knee was TOAST and Charlie's been too busy running a business instead of running on the road. But they also crossed the line without any ill effects. And we're all smiling because it is over with!

Hopefully the rest of the season goes a little better. Only one way to find out.


Friday, June 03, 2016

Grandman Pre-Race Party

Long day of work. Pack pack pack. Long drive to the Eastern Shore Motel. Traffic in the tunnel. Hot and humid the whole way. Pick up the race packet. #360 for Your Humble Narrator. Scope the course. Fight off the hunger long enough be one of the first people to the Pre-Race Party. Rotolo's. Pizza shop with lots of personality. Mimosa cider! Buffalo chicken wrap. Thirty minute wait to get our checks. End up getting back to the motel late. Discover my room is nearly adjacent to the heavily-trafficked highway. But the attendant won't allow me to change rooms. Joy. The bed is made of bricks. The pillows are thinner than most pot-holders. And the AC barely keeps the room cool, let alone cold. Prediction? Tonight will suck.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

CrossFit Coaching

My first OFFICIAL class, today. Mondays and Wednesdays will be on my schedule. 0600. (Ouch!) Four athletes this morning. Bergener Warmup. Squat Snatch. And lots of wallballs, box jumps, and power snatches. Nobody died, puked, or cried. A minor victory, in my book.

Trying to convey the importance of form and constancy. And the difference between strength training and metabolic conditioning. Make a difference in somebody's life. Even a small change to improve their abilities or perception of fitness.

Hoping to do much more. Give a seminar about fueling and recovery. Create a running program to prepare folks for the marathon we'll have along the beach in December. Endurance-related programs. Help folks manage their weight. And body composition. Just a matter of finding the time. And patience. But it all started today, with one small class, and my first foray into CrossFit coaching.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Start Of Hurricane Season

June 1st leaves a sour stomach taste in my mouth. From now until November, a constant background noise behind our thoughts: tick tick tick. We have to pretend the heat doesn't make us miserable. The sweat on everything. Mosquitoes and gnats and squirrels and road kill littering our lives. And all this is just a backdrop for what we're fearing the most: another hurricane entering the Gulf of Mexico, with its crosshairs on South Mississippi. Is this year? We all just have to wait and see...

On a good note, today Liam received The Call. His first paying music gig! One of the guys from the Monday night jam sessions needs a bassist. And Kidd Maestro goes up to bat in a couple of weeks. Every parent dreams that one day their children will do better than the parents did. And our kids are making our dreams a reality on a regular basis. At sixteen, my son is going to be paid to bring the thunder! How damn cool is that?? We're all proud of his progress and numerous accomplishments.

On an unexpected note, my Mo-In-Law had been fighting her way through an issue with her digestive track. Minutes from spinning down my day and heading to bed (since the alarm will ring @ 0500!) a message hits my phone. It's Cindy: Mom's going into surgery. Can you come be with me? Apparently there was a severe blockage and nothing could go past. And it was not going to get any better. So they made the decision to remove the problem, immediately. Which means Your Humble Narrator goes from thoughts of bed to dashing to the hospital in the span of a few minutes...

The surgery took about an hour. Closing up took about half an hour. Ten people (family, friends, doctors, pastors, children, and grand children!) waiting on the inevitable phone call. But it was all good news in the end. No cancer. Only a small section needed to be removed. Everything else still looks very healthy. And Cindy's Mom will be with us many many years to come.

And, my friends, was June 1st, 2016.... on to the rest of Hurricane Season!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

No More Nexus 7

After almost three years of loyal service, my Much Beloved Nexus 7 has given up the digital ghost. If repairs cannot be made, funeral services will be announced shortly.

An ideal replacement would be Google's Pixel C. But, given the price tag, that won't happen. It will likely get replaced by a refurbished model, for 15% of the cost of a Pixel C. And all the same functionality of the previous tablet.

Goodbye, old friend, you served me very well, and will be missed.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016

Did a Memorial Day "Murph"  workout with Jack G. Should have started early. The sun was in collusion with the humidity by the time we started.  Approaching 90 degrees, and a total heat index approaching 100. But Murph is an exercise in suffering. And that's what we did. 

Murph is a 1 mile run,  followed by 100 chin-ups,  200 push-ups, 300 air squats, and another 1 mile run. It was originally done to honor Michael Murphy, who was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 28th, 2005. Oddly enough, when the air squats started getting tough, my brain kept drifting to thoughts like, "Would Murph give up?" And that would give me additional strength. These days we do it in memory of all our brave service people. Past, present, and future. Thank you for your service and sacrifices.

For the curious: Your Humble Narrator finished the workout in  41:47. 37:59 for Jack. We didn't have weighted vests.  But we pushed hard. There was much sweating but little profanity. And hope we honored the efforts of our brothers and sisters and parents and friends in the military.

Sometime thereafter, Kidd Maestro packed his bass and we proceeded to the usual pub for the usual jam session. But, unsually, the scene was too slow and nobody(ie: Diggs!) wanted to setup for an empty house. 

So while the day was busy, the night was a flop. And ultimately concluded with this season's final episode of House of Cards, on Netflix. Such is the life of IronNerd these days....

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Race Rehearsal - Grandman

Roadtrip! Destination: Fairhope, AL. Everyone met up early for an ad hoc race rehearsal. Training for our next event: Grandman. The first time for almost everyone. So they wanted some experience with the course ahead of next week. Beautiful day for practice, too. Bright. Slight wind. No rain. Moderate humidity.  Of course that's before the sun finds us...

Started with a lovely Gulf swim. Your Humble Narrator jumps in first. Tests the waters. Slightly warm. Not too deep. Maybe a foot over my head. Then the rest of the overly-worried crew takes one last breath.. ...and jumps. Splashes everywhere and a cannonball, or two. We're all together, swimming across the waves, towards some orange buoy that never seems to get any closer. 

Things go well, until we negotiate the turn. Then one of the newbies (her first open water swim EVER!) rolls onto her back. And my ear goes sideways after too many too-sharp turns of my head. Vertigo threatens. Bile comes up in my throat. And we're both bobbing like ducks, trying not to panic and searching for the sandy bottom with our toes. Rest of the pack keeps swimming. Leaving us alone with out panting and fears of salty drowning. After staring at one spot (the girl's head!) for a minute, my ear calms down, the vertigo crawls back into its cave, and the bile subsides. But the new girl keeps struggling. She's moving furiously, but her hands are pounding the water, not pulling her forward. Like a wicked liquid hamster wheel. After she hears me yell to slow down, to reach, to calm down, and we get into shallow water, she calms down. But instead of 600 meters, as we waddle to shore, we have almost 1000 meters on our watches. Now the best experience for her first time, but she didn't die and my vertigo didn't ruin the rest of the day. So notch those up as minor victories. 

The bike went well, despite nearly getting lost and a couple of stretches of unforgiving headwind. Did  nearly 2/3rds of the ride at close to race pace. Then dropped back and worked with Wendy on her pacing and gearing. Did my best to motivate her and try to keep her focused. But when you're new to endurance events, your brain loves to trick you into slowing down, or even stopping. And that's always a difficult challenge to over come. Even with IronNerd on your wheel with reassuring words and rarely-clever advice...

Eventually we finished the bike portion of the show and did the laziest-ever transition to something vaguely resembling a run. By now, the sun was in full effect and we were all spent from practicing the hill that squats angrily at the beginning of the bike/run course. Jogged/walked a mile up and a mile back, still encouraging Wendy and looking forward to being done... 

Good times, but tiring. And hot. And humid! We were all ready to get home and cherish what was left of our weekend. Quick bite to eat at Two Sisters.  Then traffic on the bridge. And the trip home seems to last twice as long as it should. But such is the life of IronNerd. It never ends. And it is certainly never dull.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Trophy Life

Had this noble idea about getting CrossFitters to compete in a triathlon (via 3-person-relay) against other local boxes. You know, one group of athletes getting exposed to another, and each influencing the other. Set it up with Run-N-Tri. Made it an official category at Traditions. You know, lots of work.

Then, one at a time, Your Humble Narrator attempted to contact somewhere around thirty boxes. From Mobile, AL, to Slidell, LA, and everything in between. Surprisingly difficult to get in touch with some of the owners. A couple of phone numbers were disconnected. Others did not ever (EVER!) answer. Some folks did not bother to return messages. (EVER!) Left with about eighteen gyms that said they were interested and asked me to send them more information. Of those eighteen, exactly NONE responded to emails. However, three did decide to sign up for the race.

Ended up spending all day working on some unique trophies for the winners. Supposed to resemble the props used for box jumps at CrossFit. First attempt at making anything like that. Cindy contributed the lettering. (She's acrafty like that.) Good bit of fun. Learning experience. Bonding time. And we got it done together.

Hopefully the winners like it. Gonna do things MUCH different, next year. If there is a next year...

Thursday, April 07, 2016

What's Cooking

Two days of resumes and interviews and little (if any) training. It was dull. You don't need, or want, details. Too much stress. Mostly in the form of doubt and uncertainty. Not to mention the air conditioner, an ancient beast from the 20th century, is coughing its guts across the yard. The medical bills to revive it will not be pleasant.

Cooked to distract myself. Pork tenderloin. In my magnificent new (as of Christmas) pressure cooker. Rubbed it down with some spices and let the machine do its magic. Less than an hour later: perfection. Where has this thing been all my life? Seriously. Where?


Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Corks & Cleavage

Cindy's 49th birthday again. Bottle of wine. Couple of cards. Bag of her favorite chocolates. Could have gone a lot better for her. She should have received better presents. She should have stayed home from work. Gone for a spa day! She should not have needed to deal with my recent issues. But she accepted the situation for what it was and we'll make it up to her... down the road... somehow...

After work, she wanted to go somewhere quiet and try something new. We headed over to Corks & Cleaver, in downtown Gulfport.  We wanted to go on MY birthday, a couple of weeks ago, but that didn't happen. So we picked up some BBQ wings for the kids and went off, on our own.

Sat inside, out of the setting sun. Pleasantly rural/rustic decor . Comfortable seating. Good service. Cindy had an almost-glass of white wine. And some Mystery Romp for Your Humble Narrator. We wanted more but the price and the drink portions did not excite us. Couldn't agree on appetizers but some of them looked awesome. Uncertainty versus the price was the likely villain. Cindy had a smoked salmon BLT which she thoroughly enjoyed. My hamburger was very flavorful and cooked perfectly. Wanted a bit more, though. 1/3 of a pound didn't quite fill me. The fries were just average.  But the dessert (a dark chocolate and cheese cake invention) rocked!

Not sure if we'll go back there, or not. Corks & Cleaver was a nice treat. Maybe my belly is too big and my wallet too small.  But the end result didn't entirely satisfy us. We'll have to play a return trip by ear.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Driven Solo

Liam: Can I drive to the Quick Stop?
Me: Sure. Here are the keys.
Liam: Really?!?!?
Me: Yes. Just don't wreck. And take the back way.
Liam: Whoa...

And that is the first time he has ever driven solo.

Fortunately there were no wrecks. Except the one in my head during the long delay before he returned.

Thus it begins.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Tradition's Triathlon 2016 - Race Rehearsal

Several of my plans have gone somewhat sideways, this year. Adventures in employment a couple of weeks ago. Crippled by a sneeze three days ago. Very unlikely to hit a new personal record, next week, but at this point just being able to walk with a minimum of pain is glorious.

Today was the last official day of The Road to Tradition's 2016 and came in the form of a race rehearsal. Once last chance to check our theories and dial in the numerous variables.

Swim went fairly well. Definitely helped loosen up my back. Then the bike went VERY well. No pain or even soreness. None. The run was cut a bit short because the course has an off-road element and the trail was virtually a mud course after all the recent rain.

All in all, a good, productive rehearsal. Finishing won't be a problem. Just a matter of timing. May have to settle for new records at the NEXT ones...

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Interviews & Tamales

Cindy & Liam made the trek to Columbus, MS, last night. MMeg stayed home with me. In case my back didn't get any better. Rained on all of us, even though we were four hours apart. Their trip went smoothly, otherwise.

Liam had to schedule the visit to interview with The MS School of Math & Science. He made it past the application phase and was invited up for the next one. First, they had some essay for him to write, on the spot. He said he KILLED it. Then he had some standardized math and/or science tests to take. He said he KILLED it. Then he had to do an interview with staff and alumni. Cindy was on the phone with me as he walked out, and she said he was all smiles. So we took that to be a good sign. Overall, they had a great trip. And Liam feels he did very well. By my guestimate, he has a 90% chance to get accepted. Good grade, great ACT, lots of extracurricular activities, and a rockstar personality. Oh yeah, they're gonna want him there!

Meanwhile, my back decided to stop having muscle spasms and walking was possible today. Meg & Molly went with me to visit the Farmer's Market in Long Beach for groceries and then pick up some lunch. Molly met some friends. Meg had a quesadilla that somehow ended up across the front of her shirt. And Your Humble Narrator reveled in his freedom from the sofa by scarfing down some of the finest tamales on the Gulf Coast.

Good time for everyone involved. But now we have to wait a week to hear from MSMS... ...and learn of Liam's fate.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Just A Sneeze

This would be funnier if it were a joke. It isn't. And actually, it isn't funny.


The event which completely wrecked my back and has kept me on the sofa (thank God for Netflix!) the past two days was: just a sneeze. Pick up the keys, turn to take Liam to school, and a mundane... ACHOO! But nature didn't take its natural course and the muscles along the left side of my spine immediately locked up like a vice along with my ability to breath for several long seconds.

Oddly enough, things didn't initially seem disastrous. Driving didn't hurt. Even did mobility work on the foam roller and the Voodoo floss without any significant woe. But after getting home, making some calls, and doing some clicking clack, the spasms started. Freshly and brutal. Couldn't moved. Couldn't breathe. Jaw clenched during unstoppable moans. And they kept hitting me. While walking. While sitting. While doing anything other than reclining on the sofa. Watching Netflix.

On a good note, my binginity has been broken because it is apparently impossible to stop watching Daredevil (Season 2.)  And Archer (Season 6) has also kept me company these many pain-filled hours. Never binged before. Only took a pinched nerve to change that.

Fortunately the last spasm hit was at lunch time, today. None since. Plenty of residual aches. And my range of motion is still limited. But there is positive progress. Slow, but positive.

And that's my life for the past two days. Cindy and Liam headed to MSMS, for his interview, on their own. Left me to my wounded fate, with Meg in charge of getting medical attention in the event of a turn for the worst. Let's hope it doesn't come to that. Not over just a sneeze...

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Fifteen Trillion Little Insects

Structure and plans and goals maintain a semblance of order in the crowded room behind my eyes. Something to work towards. A means to measure my personal progress.

When just one thing goes sideways, there's a profound, subconscious impact. Having to reorganize my thoughts. My life. And the lives of everyone around me. The orderly world erupts in static and chaos. Like kicking an ant pile. Fifteen trillion little insects dashing and buzzing in different directions without any structure. or rhyme or reason. And that's just ONE plan crumbling to pieces. 

This week, three have fallen through. THREE! The first triathlon of the season was cancelled. (Again...) And then two separate CrossFit certification were cancelled, with no ETA. Training wasted. Plans scrapped. The world fills with static. The ant pile kicked. And kicked. And kicked again. Topped off with a bright orange mushroom cloud taking shape in the tight confines of my head. 

But, as always, this too shall pass. It is what it is. There will be other races. Other certs. Just have to put the pieces of the new puzzle together. Wherever those pieces may be...