Tuesday, October 26, 2010

BOOK: Zero History By William Gibson

William Gibson has been one of my favorite authors for more than 30 years. The older we get, the more I dig his writings. His latest is "Zero History." In it the oddly aloof and stylish international instigator Bigend (a Belgian philanthropist and control freak) again hires his favorite former-musician (and the novel's central protagonist) Hollis Henry to investigate the anti-fashion memes of the Gabriel Hounds. And an odd near-modern adventure ensures.

Gibson's been writing near-modern fiction the last half decade or so and "Zero History" is a phenomenal follow up to "Pattern Recognition" and "Spook Country." It isn't really science fiction though it is drenched in technology. Most striking about all of it is Gibson's clean, crisp prose. His economy of word and minimalist, fast-paced narrative makes his works extremely hard to put down. And I usually tear through his books in only a couple of nights. "Zero History" was no exception.

Already looking forward to Gibson's next book. Maybe even catch him on his next tour.  If he writes another book and tours?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Keep Winning

Chased away a case of the Mondays with a good ride. About seventeen miles in forty five minutes. Had to approach a thousand calories worth of sweat and toil.

The usual conflict: Me against myself. I win by pushing just a bit further. A bit faster. A bit longer.

Won today. Plan to keep winning. For a long, long time.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Quite ungrumpy today. Swam again. 1600 meters, this time. One whole mile. Thirty two laps. Less than six months ago, I struggled with 100 meters. By the end of summer, I could do one thousand. Now I'm working my way toward 2500 meters. The distance of a half Ironman.

Went ahead an ordered some prescription goggles. Should help with my anxiety in open water. Right now, I can barely see the opposite end of the pool. And when I'm in open water, I can't see the shore from more than about 25 meters away. So I splurged on goggles calibrated to my bad vision.

Anyway, much better mood, now. Amazing what some exercise will do for you.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Bad day. Like a mouth full of broken glass. Washed down with a flaming shot of Bacardi 151. Did not workout. Did not eat well. Did nothing even remotely approaching fun, productive, or exciting. An emotionally empty day. So dry and soul numbing that I'm fairly certain I'm sterile just having survived it.

I don't like days like this. Or their associated nights. I don't want to waste another minute of my life in a waking state of sullen hibernation. Boredom does not become me. We're bitter foes. A whole world outside that door, and I'm tethered to a keyboard on a Saturday night.

I could go on. I won't. Such stark realizations  me grumpy. So I let the house sleep.This too shall pass.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Running Man

Been training on the track a bit more seriously. A bit. The serious part is my dislike of running. Just when I think my cardio is sufficient from biking and swimming, along comes real running. Treadmill work doesn't compare. Elliptical doesn't either. Real road work kicks my ass. Well, my feet mainly. And my joke of a cardio system.

Fortunately, for all my loathing, it is an exceptional workout. Profuse amounts of sweating. Muscle soreness. And a releasing sense of getting tired. Just hope I'm able to adapt. Make some gains. Condition this mortal coil to a point where 5K isn't so strenuous.

At least I have a new goal.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sarte wrote

"We are our choices." 

Sarte haunts me. But I get him. Now. Only took 30+ years. But I get him. 

It comes down to choices. We are each the product of our choices. Good and bad. If I'd married the first girl I loved, I wouldn't have the children I have now. If I'd never read and memorized Shakespeare, I wouldn't have the bride I have now. If I'd never been caught in corporate "downsizing," I wouldn't have been so willing to leave Atlanta to rejoin my family and friends on The Gulf Coast. What seemed soul rending becomes a blessing, over time. And what appeared golden fades. We make these choices so flippantly, not realizing the potential impacts later. But everything we are or will be is based on our choices. 

It is just a matter of making the right ones at the right time. 

Therein lies my rub.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Slept much better. Almost touched seven hours. Rare treat for this old geek. Such a difference.

Swam at the gym. 1400 meters. Twenty eight laps. Not graceful. Or  energetic. Wanted 1600 meters. But couldn't clear my head. All these fears of open water. Not seeing or touching the bottom. A fear of sinking. My heart coming up in my throat. Paralyzed. Dropping into the depths. Not the good fear, either. The bad stuff. Filling me with doubts.

Liam's picked up some classes at the gym. Parisi. Hoping it improves his abilities. Maybe he'll develop some physical skills at an early age. Unlike his old man. Cindy does cardio while waiting on him, On her own quest. Meg does ballet and jazz on Mondays. Cheerleading on Wednesday & Saturdays. All of us getting fit.Whoddah thunk?

If only I could sleep as well as them each night...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Should have known. When I need it the most, I'm denied sleep.

Started with the dog. At 11P, Meg sashays out of her room and says, "Look who I found!" Then proceeds to fire up the crying and complaining machine, until I let her go into our bed, and sleep next to her mother.

At midnight, I try to put Meg in her own room. Just as her head touches her own bed, she bolts wide awake. Then proceeds to fire up the crying and complaining machine. Cindy won't go in Meg's room, so once again Meg is back in our room.

I try to sleep on the sofa. But that damn dog. It starts SNORING. And by 1AM, I can't take it. Slip back into my room. Where Meg wakes up and starts fussing.

For most of the next five hours, I get kicked and punched seemingly every couple of minutes And after the fight, I have to get up and go to work, for an early downtime. Being so sleepless is like being hungover without the pleasure of drinking the night before.

And my insomniac's hangover lasts all day.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Six Miles

Skipped the gym today. Liam really wanted to go on a ride. Just the two of us. After the injuries from yesterday, I was thrilled he was so eager to hit the road again. So I came home, changed quickly, and rolled while there was still enough light.

We averaged about 12MPH, better than the 10MPH with his old bike. And road three big laps, for a total of six miles. No injuries. No close encounters or disagreements. Just hanging out and listening to the road hum beneath our wheels.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New Ride

I've been biking around the neighborhood lately. Usually just me and Liam. Sometimes Meg joins us. But mostly Liam and I making vast circles through multiple blocks. Three laps of two miles each. He's been doing a great job, but kept asking for a bigger bike. Something with gears like mine.

Mom found a new ride for him! It's a touch too big. Right now he can barely get his tiptoes on the ground while on it. But he'll grow. And he can ride it, once he gets started. Loves the gears and the obvious speed improvement. Doesn't like such tenuous starts. Part balancing act and part controlled fall.  There's not much complaining though. He realizes he's just getting started and will only improve from here.

He did straddle the center bar, once. That wasn't pretty. But he didn't let it defeat him. He stuck with it.

Meg had a spill of her own today, too. She straddled the center bar, too. Then wiped out on the side of the road. Cut her knee. Lots of tears. But she toughed it out and made it home by her own power.

Proud of both of them. And glad we can enjoy the time outside, together. Being active and happy. Enjoying it while it lasts.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fall Festival and more

Incredibly long day. Especially after a near sleepless night. But, it is what it is. I've learned to just accept the defeat and move along. Anything else is just a waste of time and effort. I'll have plenty of time to rest later.

Gulfport's Fall Festival, this morning. Meg's entire cheerleading team was on their own float. Cindy was tasked with being an official nurse at the First Aid station. So I managed the kids. Had Meg on site by 8A. They rolled out at 9A.

During the wait, Liam crafted some folk art out of random bits of debris. One minute we're hanging out on a curb. Next minute Liam's name is spelled out between us. I don't recall ever doing that as kid. And he cobbled it together so quickly and effortlessly. He was looking for some bugs, either alive or dead to add to the mix. A live bug would have been hilarious. But his debris graffiti was cool and funny. I wonder how long it lasted before the wind or some cruel stranger found it.

The parade ended at Milner Stadium. All kinds of activities for the kids there. Both of them had a great time at some bean bag throwing booth. When they were in line, the ten kids in front of Liam completely missed the targets with all three of their throws. They received some orange bracelet for their efforts. Liam missed his first two throws, then scores a double prize with the final one. Another five kids miss completely. Meg walks up and scores a double prize on her FIRST throw. Super proud of both of them and they both collected some cool prizes.  Then Meg had her face painted. Liam massaged some pig lungs. And they both fired up some remote controlled robots and had a mass melee. Liam's pincherbot wouldn't pinch. But Meg "p0wned some noobs" with her rampbot. Thought we might have to get some kits of our own and build McDougal-style combatants. Liam wanted a working pincher and Meg wanted something that could throw her enemies out of the ring.

A couple of hours at the gym followed. Back, biceps, and 1200 meters of swimming. Then Liam headed off to Bryce's house. Cindy, Meg, my Mom, and I had Mexican food in Long Beach.

And we all lived happily ever after.

Friday, October 15, 2010


It comes to this: Cindy & I spent our Friday night together digging an amazingly complicated splinter out of our daughter's wounded pointer finger. Started the pre-op in the dining room. Half an hour of feuding with The Red Headed Fireball produced no results. The final confrontation with the villainous fragment took place in Meg's room. Me and Baby Meg comforting her. While Cindy methodically re-open the trail the splinter took. Using an alcohol-cleansed needle. And lots of patience.A mighty battle, of course. Nurse Cindy emerged the victor. Two tiny pieces of broken wood, defeated. On a bed of gauze.

Afterward, Meg thanked us. Profusely. Apologized for the yelling and the tears. Made the adventure worth our effort.

Felt like she was apologizing for all of it. All the yelling. All the tears.

Our adventures with the kids are worth the effort. Even the painful digging.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Road Work

My first real bike ride today. Some real road work for a change!

All told, about twenty two miles for the round trip. From the Super Walmart, in Pass Christian, over the restored Pass bridge, into downtown Bay St Louis, and back again. On the return trip, coming off the bridge, I hit 29MPH. A record for me. Patrick (barely visible ahead of me in the picture) hit 35MPH. Of course he's an avid cyclist (President of the local bike club) and was rocking a tri bike.

A truly spectacular ride. No traffic. Perfect weather. And a good pace, for a beginner like me. Hoping to go again on Sunday. One thing is for sure, I need more water bottles!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Massage, Mistaken Cleats, and Miners. Oh my!

Swimming clobbers my neck. Feels like one of my vertebrae gets nudged off kilter. And the muscles in the surrounding area stage an organized revolt.Not so much painful as uncomfortable. Like knuckle you WANT to pop, but can't, even though you've tried for hours. Fortunately, I stumbled across a  massage therapist with some spare time. And a heated bamboo stick. Real bamboo. Really heated. And this girl beat my neck and shoulders with it like a carnival pony. Which I desperately needed. Okay, it was more like a rolling pin. But eventually the naughty vertebrae popped back into place. And I'm worlds away from where I was only hours ago.

Renewed, I hit the gym. Wanted to try the cleats from my street bike on one of the stationary bikes at the gym. Let us remember that I'm a keyboard jocket. Not an athlete. And not Lance Armstrong. So I wasn't aware that there different types of cleats. The ones on the bottoms of my shoes, which click into the pedals on my street bike, didn't work at the gym. All that hobbling around the room was for naughty. But I still had my normal shoes handy. And still had an amazing ride.

Brief confession. I was slightly offended every time somebody mentioned the "Miracle Of The Chilean Miners," today. Calling it a miracle is to spit in the face of the hundreds (thousands?) of rescuers and engineers who spent almost 70 straight days doing everything humanly possible to get those miners out of the ground. Instead of praising a divine spiritual creator, I think we should praise the human spirit that made it possible for those men to live and rejoin their friends, families, and loved ones. Chile should be proud of its efforts. To call it a miracle only diminishes it. Men and women made this possible. Those men and women deserve praises and the miners' thanks.

A billion people watched the rewards of their labors. For one day, we were all in agreement that something "good" happened by our own hands. We saw what we can do when we band together for a common cause.

If only we could agree more often...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Tested my triathlon "racesuit" today. A single piece, zipper-in-the-front, super tight outfit. Sleeveless. Mid-thigh length trunks. Neither easy to climb into nor notably comfortable. But the seat is slightly padded (for biking) and during an actual race, I wouldn't have to change anything during event transitions. In theory.

First time I swam in more than a week. I don't know if it was the recovery period, the suit, or the fact that the water was cold enough to liquefy helium, but I was carving through the water at a great pace.

Late night, though. The sun had nearly gone. And gnats were prowling. I only put in 800 meters. But they were good, strong laps. Might try some more in the morning, before work. Only hope they aren't so chilling.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Hrm. Five months blurred together like chalk on cement after an August rain. Mostly occupied by training, a side project, and a constant state of partial awareness.

The training has been going well. In the pool, I've worked to the point when I can swim a whole mile. I routinely bike 17 - 20 miles. But I'm still working on my form while running. It'll come though. The results? I'm down to 189lbs. (From a high of 217lbs.) The first time I've been below 190 in more than a decade. Sadly, the least I've weighed in my 30s. But my waistline is down from nearly a size 35 to a size 31 (or possibly less by now.)

The kids had a good summer. They're having a great school year. All A's, both of them. And they're both in Gifted Programs.

Cindy's trying to go back to school. Get her Nurse Practioner's degree. Could be finished by December, 2013.

We mark our lives with a series of small victories. But sometimes I lose sight of the path we're trying to take. But I think I've found it. Or something like it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

...and everything.

Interesting moment in time. 10/10/10. 10:10 AM.

It isn't a once-in-823-years event, though. Not sure where that sudden urban myth came from. But this October has the exact same days as 1982, 1993, and 1999. The next October with a repeat occurrence will be 2021.

However, 101010, in binary, represents the number 42. Therein lies the rub.