Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Long Beach Hill Repeats

Heat index of 98 degrees. Not a cloud to be found. And yet Jon takes it upon himself to train, outside, after a long day slaying digital dragons. And not just normal training. Oh, no. Something brand new: hill repeats! Which (as it sounds) means attacking a specific set of hills. Over and over.

Forty minutes of that. Nearly 12 miles. Chain popped up. A dog thought about gnawing. And rivulets of sweat flowing freely.

Good training. Along with Eddie, Dr. Jim, Nikki James, and David Sullivan. Hoping to continue through to Augusta. 14 weeks. Practically right around the corner.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

NOLA Visit

Ran this morning. With Luke. Before work. Learning experience there. Terribly hot. Think my system has developed an intolerance for Gu. At least while running. Sat in my stomach like a gnarly little brick. Had to throttle back. And only did 5 miles. Instead of six. Good workout though.

Drove into NOLA, after. Work-related. Check out some potential hardware. Backup to disk. Instead of to tape. Vendor ran a touch late. His client ran later. Met in the bottom of the French Quarter. Obscure sammich shop. Sample of cane-sugar beer. Spinach and artichoke dip. Super delicious pobody. Some kind of slow-cooked pork with garlic and jalapenos all-but-melted into it.

Interesting product. Not sure if we'll take the leap. Or not. Trying to align the moon & stars.

Sweltering on the way in. Mid-90s. Deluge on the way out. High 70s. Three hours of road time. Then office hours.Oh, the lonely life of a wayward geek.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sickness & Health

In three years, only one ailment keeps resurfacing. Sinus infection. 

From the pool. Or lake. Doesn't matter. (Though the lake seems worse.) Pretty simple symptoms: face full of cement. Sometimes burning sensation in the face. Voice turns froggy. And then the sneezing. Fortunately that's the usual extent of it.

Some prescription Claritin and real Sudafed (ie: pseudo ephedrine) knock it out in two days. But, of course, prescriptions run out. And then it is time to dance with Med Analysis, to get more.

Some odd news during today's visit. Should be good. But didn't sit well. Seems Your Humble Narrator has lost more weight. Below 180lbs. First time since the mid-90s. Wasn't actively trying. 185 seemed right. Now that's history. Gotta find a balance point sometime soon. Have either train less or eat more. So that's a no brainer. 

And training is only going to get harder. As Augusta approaches. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Mood getting better. Except when things piss me off. Two examples: 1) The Crossfit folks using the entire six lanes of the lap pool for their crossfitting. Which means there are no open lanes for Jon to do his laps. 2) One of the locals at the office came to tell me about his woes. Twice. We logged in as him. Couldn't duplicate the problem. I showed him, right there in front of him, what to do and how it works. He went back to his office, and called me. Went to another guy's office, and called me. Then emailed me, after-hours. Twice. Finally, he figures out what he was doing wrong the entire time, and everything works like it is supposed to. Which I could claim to possess some magical powers that resolved his woes, but his wounds were all self inflicted.

Since I couldn't swim, I ran tonight. Nearly 10P and I'm dashing through the neighborhood. No socks. Reflectors, from Father's Day, catching headlights. Better than the last couple of runs. But not back up to full speed, yet. Felt good.

I like improvements.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Woolmarket Ride

Post-work ride from the Woolmarket Community Center. The 11 Mile Loop. Trying to chase down Eddie Holmes. Glued to him for six miles. Then fell off.

Have to keep tackling those hills. Get in better shape for Augusta. It won't be flat. And there's nearly sixty miles of them. Thankfully, Your Humble Narrator has plenty of time to work on it.

Feeling better, now. The sweat and physicality and focus cleared some of the cobwebs. Some. Maybe I needed a few days off. To collect my thoughts. Come to grips with my concerns. Fears. I dunno. But I smiled on the ride home. And sang. And felt good. First time in a while. Hope it lasts.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lots Of Meh

Up with the kiddos. Get Liam to Golf Camp. Work from home to keep an eye on Meg. Lunch time dash to retrieve Liam and food. Then more working from home. Until 5P. And a crushing wave of tiredness descends upon Your Humble Narrator. 

Lots of Meh behind my eyes. About training. About working. About everything in between. Another attack of, "Why do I bother?" With a side order of doubt. And concern for future plans. Race in just over 100 days. Cindy graduates in just over six months. Liam starts driving in just over a year. Meg breaks into her teens in less than two. Holding it all together, one day at a time.

Ended the night craving something hardy for dinner. Manly. Something to sooth my inner carnivore. Thought a Philly cheesesteak would suffice. Favorite place ended up closed. Over to Plan B: Irish Coast Pub. Taunting me with its cider on tap. But I resisted. For whatever stupid reason I've conjured to tell myself not to drink any more. Stuck with a corned beef sammich. White cheese. Bacon. SPICY mustard. Side of eggplant fries. Super double delicious. It sufficed. And then some. 

Needed that little taste of private peace.Maybe it will last long enough.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day 2013

Father's Day 2013. Slept until eight. Some cool, homemade cards waiting for me. And clever nighttime running gear. Good day to be a father. Proud of what I helped create. But still didn't feel perky for most of the morning. General lack of energy. Lack of motivation. One of those, "Why am I doing this?" kind of days.

Didn't go to the lake. Too far. Too much time. Didn't feel like biking. Such oppressive heat. And Luke wasn't riding. Hit the pool, instead. Bored silly. Wanted 2400 meters. Ran low on time. Stopped at 1600. Just not feeling it.

Dinner at Robert's. Father-in-law. With Darren's family. Brother-in-law. Good to see everyone. Good prayer about appreciating the efforts of fathers. Great food. (I ate three burgers!) Cindy made a delicious pineapple rollup. And fun for Liam & Tolar afterwards, sniping cans with Robert's scoped pellet gun.

Should be happier. Not. Can't put my finger on it.Yet. Probably just a mood. Will see.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

May Rewind 2013

Bit late getting this one into place. (June has been busy already.) May was somewhat dull. Training a bit down. But first Olympic of the year. Kids wrapping up school. Cindy wrapping up another semester. Lions. Tigers. And bears. Oh my.

  • Swim: 9 miles
  • Bike: 90 miles
  • Run: 15 miles
  • Strength Training: 6 hours
  • Calories burned: 15710
  • Friday, June 14, 2013

    Friday Night

    Waiting until nearly 10p to run. Beat the heat. First time without socks. (Don't ask why I think these little changes make me faster somehow.) 7K to start. Wary of blisters. One of my best solo runs in ages! The dark computer gods smiling down upon me. Cold shower after. Barely feel its bite. Chocolate milk with dark chocolate covered almonds to recover. And an episode of Madmen. With the dog snoring by my feet. A miniature grizzly bear growling in her sleep. That's Friday for Humble Narrator.

    Thursday, June 13, 2013

    If I Slept

    If I slept, it wasn't long. Four hours? Tops. Or maybe I was just dreaming that I was awake. Tossing. Turning. Trying to get comfortable. Looking for a cold spot on the sweltering sheets. The uncomfortable pillows. Whatever happened, I feel hungover. Tired. Achy. Brain hurts. Eyes hurt. And a big fist behind my eyes eager to punch its way free.

    I never really know if I slept or I'm sleeping now.

    Wednesday, June 12, 2013

    Fitness & Food

    After thirteen hours on Monday and eleven hours on Monday, I get to wrestle with one hundred large worth of new servers. Unbox. Stack. Rack. Power. Network. Load 'em up. Almost a dozen of them. Some weighing 75lbs each.

    Post work is dedicated to fitness. Start with strength training. (New weights this week!) And end with 1500 meters in the pool. Just thirty laps in the fading sunlight. Nothing challenging. But terribly boring. Need some tunes to do the longer distances. Otherwise my brain goes numb around thirty laps and there's little benefit in staying after that.

    Once I get home: time to cook. Tonight's adventure is Jon's Spin Greek. Homemade coleslaw, with Italian Vinaigrette instead of mayo. Lamb sliders, hand formed with sauteed garlic & onions in the mix. I put them on some flat bread then topped them with Greek yogurt. And finally, the appetizer (which didn't we didn't get to sample until the main dish was ready:) baked spinach & feta with sun dried tomatoes on a quartered piece of flatbread.

    Thought it turned out nicely. The lamb (which cooks down like crazy!) was a touch over-done and under-flavored. Should have hand-made some bread for them. But the coleslaw was a huge hit with Cindy. And the appetizer was OH YEAH! good. 

    For a professional nerd, Your Humble Narrator does a fairly good job in the kitchen. Maybe he missed his calling? Or maybe his self-image is a bit skewed...

    Tuesday, June 11, 2013

    Thanks Summer Camp

    My poor girl. Second year in a row she has come back with some manner of pox upon her. Thanks summer camp!

    Fortunately for me, Meg is turning into an amazingly considerate and talented little lass. We brought her drawing supplies to the pediatrician and she drew some of her manga characters while we waited. Sitting on the exam table, knees pulled up under her, transferring these marvelous creations from her mind to the page. Author & illustrator, she says. Author & illustrator, I hope!

    The doctor shows up, eventually. Diagnosis? Ear and sinus infection. Steroids to bump her metabolism. Should be better soon. And in the meanwhile, Your Humble Narrator works from home. Tending the childrens. And dreaming big dreams for them.

    Monday, June 10, 2013


    Some days, work is endless. Voracious. Could have stayed sixteen hours without reaching the bottom of my private rabbit hole. Ninety grand in new systems  to install. A dozen old servers to decommission and remove. Power to redistribute. Networking to untangle. Planning for applications. And migrations. And upgrades. (sigh)

    In the middle of that digital whirlwind, a drive flies offline. Recovery from that flop. Vendors constantly nipping and crying like hungry little bluejays. "How's your cloud?" asks the Prez as he passes. Tickets flooding the queue. Two hour meetings. Conference calls. Surprise visits from lost Las Vegas VPs. The cell phone bleeping. Instant messenger chirping. Emails. Emails. Emails.

    Kids home from school. Meg fighting a cold. Cindy's battle to finish her degree. I need to plan dinner for Wednesday. I need to take Meg to the doctor. I need to print up study guides. I need to finish the taxes. I need to worry about the air conditioner. I need to find ways to cut my spending. I need to be more helpful. I need to stop being selfish. And I need to ignore the ever present call of training.

    It is all endless.

    But at least I'm never bored.

    Sunday, June 09, 2013


    Am I stupid? Brave? Both? Not even good at this stuff.But I signed up for my first official 70.3 Ironman, in Augusta. September 29th. 111 days to go. Fifteen weeks. Swim? Got it. Bike? I'll get it. Run? Oh boy...

    Longest event, yet. Maybe seven hours. I'll get there. One way or another.

    Meanwhile. Trained at Robinwood. Between storm clouds. Nearly a mile swim. Felt good on the third lap. Twenty eight mile bike with Luke. Good there, too.

    Off to a good start?

    Maybe I'm daring? I like to think I am. Daring.

    Saturday, June 08, 2013

    The Wheel Of Time Turns

    Another summer arrives.
    Another year passes.
    Another task delegated to a kid.
    Cindy studies.
    Meg recovers from some stomach woes. And a rash.
    Didn't run this morning. Too lazy. Too far. Too much money.
    Didn't run this evening. Too much rain. 
    There's always tomorrow.
    And the Wheel of Time turns.

    Friday, June 07, 2013

    You Have No Privacy. Why Are You Surprised?

    In January of 1999, Scott McNealy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems infamously said, "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it." He was talking about Intel's decision not to include tracking information inside of their Pentium III chips. More than a decade ago, McNealy already knew.

    A year later, in mid-2000, EarthLink was forced to incorporate the National Security Administration's Carnivore system, giving the government access to every piece of email going through EarthLink's network. That was before 9/11. Before the USA PATRIOT ACT. And even back then, the American government was quietly

    Flash forward to January of 2006. Given exponentially more power, the case of  Hepting vs AT&T revealed that the NSA was no longer monitoring just email, but every bit of data going through AT&T's network, including texts and phone calls.

    Which brings us to the present. 2013. And we learn that not only does AT&T continue to freely share everything with the NSA, but so does Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobilethe major credit card companies, and many (if not all) of the major Internet companies such as Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Facebook.

    And why, pray tell, do they do this? Quite simple: because there is a "war on terror." And we have to be vigilant in our pursuit of those beard, invisible, cave-born, religious ninjas who hate our freedom and way of life. Or so the story goes.

    If you don't like it, then you either have something to hide, or you're on their side. Or so the story goes.

    And if you want to keep your freedom, your way of life, and live The American Dream, you have to sacrifice your privacy in order to do so. Or so the story goes.

    You have no privacy. You haven't for more than a decade. Why are you surprised?

    Thursday, June 06, 2013

    So What Next For Bello Noch

    It isn't every day that you look to discover a helicopter hovering outside your office window. Let alone one dangling a zoot suit wearing clown with a red, foot high mohawk. Upside down. Only his toes keeping him from falling hundreds of feet. To certain death.

    But that is how Bello Nock heralded the beginning of a new month-long show at Beau Rivage.

    How boring was the rest of this guy's day? One minute he is spitting in the face of gravity and dangling his nuts from beneath a gas-powered whirligig and the next he is eating beans & corn bread in the bowels of a casino.

    So what next for Bello Noch? Jump over a pool of electrified sharks while riding blindfolded on a burning unicycle? Juggle sticks of lit dynamite? Strip naked, drench himself in honey and Pop Rocks then run into a cave full of starving, methed-up Kodiak Grizzly bears?

    And the best part? The man gets PAID to do these things. Always hoping he lives to collect his check. One near-death experience at a time.

    Wednesday, June 05, 2013

    Reasonable Doubts?

    I imagine other triathletes are more sure of themselves than I am. 

    I have very little faith in myself. Or my abilities. I never think I am enough. That I've done as well as I could. That I trained enough. That I ate right. That my heart is in the right place. Hell, I even question if I should be even TRYING to do the things I try to do. 

    Are those reasonable doubts? If they are or they aren't, they haunt me. 


    Tuesday, June 04, 2013

    Went Atomic

    Thirteen hours yesterday. Eleven hours today. Cleared off old backups. Created new ones. Staged the latest Microsoft patches. In the office by six in the morning. Then a printing upgrade. And the reboots. What happens next? Of course things went atomic. But thankfully (as if it were a consolation prize) only the Citrix environment burst in flames. Several hundred folks completely offline. Others unable to open our primary customer-management applications. Spent the better part of two hours on the phone with Citrix support. Still unable to identify the problem. Maybe some additional patches would help. Maybe pull off the new patches, one at a time. Hours of work, with no guarantee of success any time soon.

    Fortunately for Your Humble Narrator, he made snapshots of all the servers involved. Powered down the affected systems. Snapped back. Powered up. Voila. Everything restored to its former glory. More than a dozen hours of work erased with a couple of mouse clicks. Alas. Easy come, easy go.

    The users were able to connect. The applications fired up. Sunlight through the storm clouds. And I nearly puked when it  all drew to a close. The severity of the outage finally biting into my old bones. Damage I'd wrought. Three hours multiplied by several hundred folks. Add up the cost of their loss of productivity and it likely amounts to more than my annual income. Not a cross I bear lightly.

    Shortly thereafter, the Prez calls. His cell to mine. Wants to hear directly what I'd done. Was nice about it, of course. Gave him the exact times and efforts. Promised to make it right next time. And off we go, each to our own adventures. Not fun being on his radar. I crept away. As quickly and quietly as possible. No chest thumping or braggadocio from This Old Nerd. Lived to fight another day. Hopefully less atomic next time.

    Monday, June 03, 2013

    Paleo Potatoes

    Tried a new recipe tonight: Turkey & Spinach Stuffed Sweet Potatoes. (Stole it from Juli @ PaleOMG.) Pretty spur of the moment idea. Cindy asked me to pick up some groceries so she could make a salad. I offered to cook, instead. How could she refuse such a generous offer from Her Beloved? (HA!) Best of all, they turned out spectacularly delicious. Very surprised how well I did it. Though I did include an optional non-Paleo item: crumbled blue cheese. Cindy loved it. Actually thanked me multiple times. Ate the whole thing, down to the skin. And we have enough for tomorrow.

    Started off with some bacon fat. Didn't actually have it on hand. So we cooked down a couple of strips (for breakfast tomorrow) and used the remains to saute down a yellow onion and two fresh cloves of garlic. Cooked those down until they were translucent. Great aroma and a hint of things to come.

    While the potatoes were still baking, added a pound of ground turkey to the frying pan (Cindy's Grandmother's, she reminded me) and chopped it up with a wooden spoon. Added some spices. A couple of table spoons of Sriracha. Keep chopping and mixing. Keep it covered to retain the flavors and tenderness.

    Once the turkey and spices were mostly cooked through, I added an entire bag
    of spinach to the top. Couldn't even see anything other than veggies, at first. Fortunately the greens cook down enormously. And by the time the potatoes were done, the stuffing was complete and (if I do say so myself) beautiful.

    Pulled put the sweet potatoes. Sliced them in half. Took a fork to the innards. Added a tablespoon of grass-fed butter. And made mashed sweet potatoes. Topped off with a big ladle of the stuffing. Put some blue cheese in the middle, and voila, dinner for two.

    Really proud of the dish. Eager for leftovers tomorrow. Will definitely make it again!

    Sunday, June 02, 2013

    Heatwave Classic 2013

    The morning of the race turned out far nicer than my night of sleep. Slightly windy, but slightly over-cast. Sparing us from the full glare of the Mississippi sun. And another pleasant surprise: several additional folks from my neck of the woods had appeared! Leonard, Alice, and Ed. Add Eddie, Crystal, and Your Humble Narrator for a total of six Gulf Coast competitors (that I know of) at the event. All of us in high spirits and ready for adventure.

    Triathlons start well before the race actually begins. We each setup our own transition station. Few rules. Lots of rituals. All manner of personal touches. Have to admit some pride in the thoroughness and effectiveness of my own setup. Try to keep it minimal. Brainless as possible. The less thinking required, the less time wasted. Still have one additional change to make (stop wearing socks!) but otherwise not sure it could get any tighter. Finish my setup, then start stretching, planning, and psyching up for the real adventures. Again, to each their own.

    The swim started for me at 7:12:25. Entered a shallow cove. Maybe 25 meters set back from the main body of the reservoir. Decided to aquajog as far as possible. Get warmed up with a little run. And hit the water with some speed. Like to think it worked, but then the waves arrived.

    Aside from my fellow triathletes, I doubt many people grasp the sheer terror of "swimming" in rough, open water. You cannot see the bottom. You cannot touch the bottom. You don't get to stop and get out whenever you're tired. At some point, ancient, lizard parts of your brain wake up and start screaming: TURN BACK!  or QUIT IT! The lizard's voice is a constant, sharp spear into your breathing and technique and personal confidence. Swimming laps in the pool doesn't wake the lizard. Floating in "the river" doesn't wake the lizard. Wading up to your waste "at the beach" doesn't wake the lizard. You have to get into dark, deep water, without anyone to help you. Only then will you hear its voice.

    So I spent the first third or half of the race completely abandoning my form and having a verbal shouting match with my own lizard. Lots and lots of the following:
    Jon: It's cool. Breathe.
    Jon: You're okay. Stay on target.
    Jon: Stay on target.
    Lizard: YOU SUCK!
    Jon: Find your form. Find your rhythm.
    Lizard: QUIT! QUIT! QUIT!
    Rinse and repeat.

    While we were swimming INTO the waves, I just moved my arms any way possible. Probably looked terrible. Hideously inefficient. After the first turn, I found some form, found some rhythm. But getting broadsided by waves wasn't pleasant on my ear or belly and I fought to stay on target. Last turn, with the waves pushing us, I finally calmed down, started swimming with confidence and started passing people. (Except for the girl who kicked me in the face.) Total swim time: 16:54. One of the best times on the team. And everyone hated it as much as I did.

    Transition #1 (swim -> bike) went well. Except for the tissue in the toes of my new shoes. Forgot to remove that ahead of time. Dripping with lake water and laughing out loud at my own stupidity must have looked spectacular. Even with that delay, I left in 1:34!

    The bike wasn't as flat or as windy as Memphis In May. In total, not much more than a dozen folks passed me. But one of them was Crystal! Considering she was 25 positions ahead of me, I thought I was going to chase her down on the bike. But she passed me, and then settled into a pace that I matched for 20 out of 24 miles. The ride back to the transition was INTO the wind, and one (or two) hills completely clobbered me. I lost her on a climb and couldn't catch up. Then rested a bit on the cruise to transition. Total bike time: 1:16:31. Average of 19.2MPH.

    Transition #2 went very well. A good, rolling dismount. Helmet off. Visor on. Bike shoes off. Runing shoes on. Boom! Left in 53.9!

    The run started well. Mostly shaded. Still a little over-cast. Water stations every mile. My first two miles felt good. Heading into the third, the worm turned. Either I was over-hydrated, over-heated, or my pre-race fueling was bad. Some kind of huge, angry brick formed in my stomach. I started having these odd little burps and by mile four, felt as if I might get sick if I pushed any harder. My legs felt okay. My breathing was okay. I wasn't too hot (unlike Memphis.) But I had to walk most of the last two miles. Completely killing my performance. Total run time: 1:13:40. My worst Olympic run to date. :(

    Overall? I was happy with my swim and most of the bike. Proud of my transitions. But baffled by my run. Have to figure out the fuel situation and determine why I'm not able to sustain the same pace after half of the run. If I had hit the times I wanted on the run, I would have finished around 2:31:XX and been THRILLED with my performance. A nine min pace is well within my abilities. Almost twelve minutes is pitiful.

    So, back to the drawing board. And planning for future races. Not sure what is next. But it will be an adventure. Always is.

    Saturday, June 01, 2013

    Smoke House BBQ - Florence, MS

    Three hours after racing. Facing a three hour drive. Road-side diner just south of Jackson, MS: Smoke House BBQ. Parking lot full. Next to a gas station. Burning cartoon pig on the side. And a plaster recreation of the Ten Commandment looming ominously outside the front door. Greeting hungry BBQ fanatics with their somehow-appropriate slogan: It ain't no sin to get sauce on your chin. How could I pass THAT up?

    Clearly a local haunt.Homestyle decor. Fake plants. Ceiling fans slowly turning in the rising Mississippi heat. One late middle-aged woman working the "counter." Another dashing back and forth in the kitchen. And Ms Nancy, the well-past-middle-aged server. All of them quite pleasant and quite southern. Wide smiles. Hint of a drawl. Nodding while they talk. And incredibly happy to help or make you feel at home. The restaurant itself more than half full. Mostly families with kids younger than mine. Across from me, a group of indeterminate aged local men. Bigger than me. Probably younger than me. And very hungry. They order seconds after sitting and it wouldn't be a surprise if Ms Nancy knew their preferences by heart.

    I ordered the brisket  plate. Mixed review there. The meat was okay. Nice smokey flavor. Nice sized serving. Tender. But I prefer my sauce ON the meat. Smokehouse BBQ prefers self-service. Three different sauces featured at the table. Smokey. Hot. And "Sumpin" sauce. I liked smokey. Couldn't decipher the original of "Sumpin." The sides were disappointing. "Texas Toast," was (as best I could tell) toasted white bread. The greens were completely unseasoned. And the mac n cheese (which I ordered after Ms Nancy said it was home made) was straight out of a Sam's box. Barely tasting of cheese. Over-cooked to boot.

    For a road trip, it was good eating. If I wasn't enormously picky, it was good eating. Great service, though. And that goes a long way these days.