July 26, 2015

Summer Celebration -- The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Nice tomato harvest.  Not so nice phone-camera shadow...

So, Saturday, I cleared out the tomatoes from the garden and the haul wasn't bad (see above), but it wasn't *anything* like what I'm used to seeing this time of year.  I'd been blaming the crazy overcast May, June, and even minor rain in July, but finally, on this harvest, moving between the plants, even without sufficient weeding, I could tell that something was fundamentally wrong...

Uggghhh... Apparently, our automatic drip system timer died.  Who knows how long ago.  We tested it when we put the plants in, and a few times since, but we haven't really tried it much because it's been so loyally perfect.  Since 2008.  When we bought it.  And now?  It's silent.  The timer can click (which means, open the gates, water should flow) but nothing happens.  After a few minutes of trouble-shooting, I was hopeful that I'd missed something that E could find.  But no.  We came to the same conclusion.  This unit had a good 7 years.  And our garden has not been getting timed water for who knows how long - possibly 8 weeks.  (But don't worry, we still deliver cherry tomatoes to folks when it is important.)
Date night with E2 & P at the Grove.  More cleavage than I planned...
 A new timer has been ordered.  Plants that are dried beyond expectation have been watered.  And, for the second year in a row, we went to the Santa Cruz Shakespeare comedy that happened to be playing around my birthday. 
The beautiful SC Shakespeare redwood grove.  Last year for this venue.
Oh, Man.  This production was awesome.  Seriously.  If you think you don't like Shakespeare, as my Shakespeare professor at Cal said -- go to a good production of Much Ado About Nothing -- if you don't like it, you are right -- you just aren't a Shakespeare person.  But I dare you to try to be that person, it is so hilariously enjoyable.

You say birthday cake, I say deviled eggs with caviar.
Meanwhile, I have several friends who ran the San Francisco Marathon and the Big Basin 50K and I was proud of each of them.  Also, E2 and I went and cheered in person for Wharf to Wharf, which was interesting, in that we were somewhere between mile 1 and 2 and it was *very* crowded and folks were slowing down due to back-ups.  This race had previously been on my *to-do* list, but now, after seeing the crowds so long after the start, I'm not sure.  I may be happy to just cheer from the sidelines and deliver goodies to my neighbors.

One lunchtime harvest this week.  No complaints.
In other news, Summer is awesome.  The garden puts out great stuff.

In my complacency, my weekly mileage was a horrid 15.66 on my feet, including much walking.  For the folks who are wondering, yes, I do plan to do a 5K and a 10K in the fall.  I've been fitting in some random decent tempos and intervals, but really, I suck.  I did add 11 miles of biking and another couple of sets of calisthenics to the mix this week (including 20 minutes this AM -- 3X10 pushups, dips, abs, yoga, etc. -- it's gonna hurt tomorrow).

Essentially, I'm relaxed.   Happy.  About to go grab a new book and go to bed.  Ready for whatever next week brings!

July 22, 2015


E and I hosted some new friends for a dinner party tonight.

It's always fun and a little intimidating to host new people.  I got more dressed up than normal (which meant I was dressed down for most women in my situation, but still).  I spent time thinking about and preparing the meal.

In fact, I was quite proud of the menu, even if I did burn the bagel chips to the point of "throw-'em-in-the-compost" 

You might think that slicing and basting with olive and roasting bagel chips would be easy...
In my excitement to prep for dinner I forgot to set a timer.  By the time I smelled them, the bagel chips tasted like charcoal...

Thank goodness the rest of the meal was wonderful!

This! This is Summer!

Gazpacho (75% from the garden). Grilled okra (huge hit, first time we'd made it), shishitos (grilled, from the garden, huge hit) & eggplant (from the farmer's market, need to work on the marinade recipe). Sliced Cherry garden tomatoes (always a hit, plus we fed Guito as entertainment with one). Smoked salmon, caviar & capers (we're so Californian, we warned them at arrival and offered to grill sausage if they needed more animal protein, so I guess we aren't *that* stereotypically Californian). Goat gouda (double gold Californian gouda competition winner from our local farmer's market, always a huge hit), manchego (who doesn't like Manchego), & d'Affinois (if you like creamy cow cheese, this will keep you happy). Chateauneuf Du Pape (nice guest move!  We were very pleased and honored with what they brought.). Good olive oil, balsamic & fancy salt (all 3 of these are required at every meal in our house). Sliced baguettes (thank goodness I bought that baguette even though I didn't *need* it since I thought we'd still have the bagel chips...)

July 19, 2015

Thanks, Internet

A few years ago, while training for CIM, I realized I needed to find a local running buddy to train with and, thanks to some Internet stalking, I became running friends with Jen.  Through her blog and her IRL interactions with other local folks in the running community, I made several new running friends.

These running friends are awesome -- they arrange group runs, post-race food and fun, relays, and more.  I have literally never attended any event planned by folks in this group and not had a good time.  Unfortunately, two of them are in the process of saying goodbye to the area before they move far away.

I am very sad at the impending departures.  But, I remind myself that I wouldn't even have these friends if it wasn't for the Internet, so I'm trying to focus on gratitude, not disappointment.

I'm grateful the Internet introduced me to great people, *and* I'm grateful that one of them planned a trip to Alcatraz before she left.  The weather was perfect, and Jen, Jess, E, and I had a wonderful day.

Not a bad view!

Also, E and I attended the EFF 25th anniversary.  If you care about the intersection of privacy, human rights, and technology then you should be aware of the EFF.  Some refer to it as "the ACLU for the Internet" or "the ACLU for Technology."  Either way, they are a great organization, representing important legal causes, and I was honored to be part of the celebration.

One of the EFF Founders, John Perry Barlow, took the stage and spoke of how proud he was of the EFF, his "4th child." 

Yes, Grateful Dead fans, that John Perry Barlow

25 years!

I'm loosely affiliated with the EFF, professionally, but every time I attend an event (always due to an invitation via the Internet), I see folks in both the legal and technology communities that I respect, and also, I learn something new.  This event was no different.  

My weekly mileage total was 33.27, which is not bad at all, for the year.  Thanks to the time in SF, however, I spent much more of these miles walking than normal -- only 15 of the week's miles were actually running.  3 of the runs included quality segments, though -- 3.25 miles including 8 X 1 min hill repeats; 2.5 miles with E at 9:40 pace; and 8 miles this AM with MB, a friend from Seattle who was in town and emailed me (over the Internet) asking if I wanted to keep her company on her last "long" run before the San Francisco Marathon next week.

July 13, 2015


I *LOVE* Summer.  The childhood sense of freedom and fun and running and sun and swimming and reading without school to interrupt is a feeling I look forward to each year.

My own sense of Summer isn't tied to the calendar.  Rather, there are several markers I look for and when enough of them have occurred, the weekends feel like I'm on Summer Vacation.

The heat is a big one.  And we haven't had much of that so far this year.

But Saturday, thanks to Jen, I drove out to Richmond for a fun race in the heat.  I'd registered for the 10K, but when I hit the end of the first lap I needed a restroom break.  So, I dropped down to the 5K, finished early, and waited for Jess or Kate (who were doing the 6 hour endurance challenge) to come through so I could accompany them on their next loop.

This meant I got to see Jen finish the 10K.  She ran hard, and I thought she was 3rd woman overall, but I must have missed one, as she ended up 4th.  She did, however, take first in her age group.  Actually, my time wasn't official since I changed races, but according to my Garmin, I ended up 2nd in my age group in the 5K, which was pretty cool.  Plus I got to do the second loop of my non-standard 10K with Jess, and I was next to her when she yelled, "Hey Kate.  26.3 miles!"  Just another day, another marathon, for Jess and Kate.

Check out that age group medal!
Sunday AM, I ran 2 miles with E in more heat, and then did another mile cool down on my own.  Total mileage for the week: 20.92.  Woo hoo, over 20.  Now to start actually training for my fall 5K and 10K...

Back to Summer.  Other things that pique my Summer Sense?

Eating collections of random deliciousness outside and calling it dinner.

Why yes that is leftover veggie burrito, cheese, olive bread and tomatoes for dinner.

Late night sunsets.

View from our backyard.

 The Farmer's Market bounty.

And yes, it's not healthy, but it's true: that first sunburn of the year.  Thanks to the Dirty Dozen running event on Saturday, I have slightly tight skin and my body knows its Summer.

Happy Summer All!


July 6, 2015

Electronic Angels?

Almost immediately after posting my last blog post, my laptop went on strike.

Everything slowed down. 

Lots of spinning circles.

Emails took forever to send, often requiring me to reboot the machine and open only my email application in order to get them out of the drafts folder and into the sent folder.

The hard drive was spinning at 100% despite essentially nothing being accomplished or run according to the task manager.

I limped along in this frustrating state when I could and my phone when I couldn't until Thursday afternoon, at which point, I decided that the Universe was telling me that I actually *had* to observe the July 4th holiday. 

So, I set my out of office, sent some warnings to some folks who might otherwise expect that I would be responsive, and headed up to the mountains, where my cell coverage was so spotty that I couldn't really even check email on my phone.

I had 3 days of nothing but real world direct interactions with humans (other than some texting with my family).

I did the super-hilly-intense in the heat and humidity 3+ mile loop from the cabin every day.  I jumped in the lake.  I read 3 books.  I slept 10 hours a night.  It was glorious.

I was, of course, a bit concerned about returning to the real world.  I couldn't continue in this electronic dark after the holiday weekend, no matter how much I may wish to do so.

So, I ordered a new computer that arrived today.

Interestingly, while my old machine was still broken and slow last night, today it appears to have recovered. 

Perhaps the electronic gods just wanted to make sure I got a good vacation (and I did need to buy a new laptop, so that's not upsetting even if the old one isn't truly dead).

Weekly mileage: 15.42.  All in the heat, hills, and humidity.  Most of it super slow, some walking.

June 30, 2015

East Coast Road Trip

E & I had planned to spend the 4th of July holiday in Georgia (immediately after the GA fireworks law made fun legal!).

At the last minute, E was sent out to Boston for a work thing, and then we thought through the logistics of him flying home for just a couple of days and flying back out and it really didn't make any sense, *especially* because we had people like grandparents, uncles, friends, and a corporate office visit we could fit in between Boston and Atlanta.

So, here's what we did while working remotely and driving in the rented Chrysler 200 over the last week or so:

Apparently, on the east coast, there is this thing that happens where water falls from the sky.  Even in June.

This is a friendly perspective on the storms we encountered on approximately 30% of the driving.  We feared flooding.
Anyways, we had a great time catching up with folks in all locations on the map, in a few hiding from the rain, and in all working remotely from hotels and cars (full disclosure, I almost never drove, I was more of the asleep, working, or "entertaining" member of the driving party).

Despite close of quarter pressures, lots of work, time zone ridiculousness, and lack of sleep, we saw and experienced several things that were awesome on this trip, including:
The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile walking trail of bricks tracing several historic Boston landmarks.
The Freedom Trail -- Charlestown Bridge

Boston Harbor, from the pier at the end of the Freedom Trai.

Sunset, from the top of the Prudential Building, over the Charles River (Citgo sign!)

Richmond, VA -- This always to tyrants (the abuse of power).
We stopped for the best brunch I've had in years at The Magpie in Richmond.  Seriously.  Southern food meets French/Modern but in a location/decour that has very believable authentic older family member influences such as a stuffed magpie, and repurposed sewing machine treadle lamps.  Did I mention this was the best brunch I'd had in years?  Yeah, brunch.  In the south.  Biscuits (with Manchego, here).  They know how to do it.

Near RVA capitol, a monument to the group who filed the first lawsuit that eventually consolidated to Brown v. Board of Ed.

Note the cars -- this is a huge fireworks building.  Also, no smoking.
 A colleague in North Carolina noted, "South Carolina is perhaps the most lawless state in the Union."  I have no insight into whether this is true or not, but they do have quite a supply of fireworks for sale.

Happy E before buying fireworks to take to the lake.
 And there you have it.  Our week involved much driving and interaction with folks far from home.  It was great to see each and every one of 'em.  I'm thrilled to add DE and VA to my states tally.

In terms of workouts, this week is essentially a complete write-off.  I fit in 18.06 miles total (clearly not much walking) including several interval workouts: 1 min hills at home, some heat intervals in Sacramento, some incline intervals on treadmills, and finally, early this week a technical, hot, but gorgeous loop around this lake in NC:

Bond park lake. The south is a constant reminder that our drought in CA is real.  Nothing is this green where I live.
At one point on this loop, there was a "fitness course."  You know the gig.  Pushups.  Dips.  Hops.  Kicks.  Weird stuff.  Since I'm not truly training for anything I was actually free to opt in.  So I did.  My shoulders and biceps and triceps would like to have a word with me tomorrow.  But while I was torturing them, I got to watch a local kid do hill repeats with his coach timing.  HE WAS FAST.  I told him so on my way out, but I don't think he thought my opinion held any weight.  Regardless, I had such a fun time watching him and doing just one more dip, pushup, etc.  It's so fun to realize that you can do the functional equivalent of someone with youth on their side, simply by doing your best that hot, humid, hilly day.  And I did.  I'm hopeful it will pay dividends.  

And with that, I offer best wishes to all for a great 4th of July holiday.  I've got lots of work and travel and other obligations coming up, but I'm going to be balancing things (full body workouts on trails that aren't scheduled, work that means no sleep, too much celebration, etc.) against 10K training for some fall racing.  It feels good to have some speed goals in the works.

June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day

Summer squash, cukes, hot peppers & the first tomato -- not bad for first harvest.
I remember when my dad was dying (like literally, the last few days of his life, while he was in the hospital and we all hoped this wasn't the final stay), a few things happened that were so funny that everyone in the room laughed.  And we didn't just laugh a little bit.

That laughter in the face of impending death was full-on body-racking tear-jerking belly laughter.  Midway through one of these shared laughter-fits,  I remember being shocked that this was possible.  I was feeling some of the most intense joy and mirth that I'd ever felt.  Right there, in the middle of the worst pain and sadness I'd ever felt.

Today, I woke with a desire to call my brother.  I wanted to thank him for being such a wonderful father.  I'd just dropped his daughter off for camp yesterday and she'd been our guest last week, so I had firsthand knowledge of what a great job he's been doing.  But before I called, I logged into Facebook.  And, I was met with a wall of happy fathers and children.

So. Much. Exuberant. Celebration...   So wonderful.  But also: ouch.

Staring at the screen, I knew there were folks who agreed that fathers should be celebrated, and yet, if they were like me, then this day would also bring their own personal losses painfully in focus (and some wouldn't even have the benefit of brother-fathers or others they can call).

It struck me that this emotion was just like the almost absurd laughter the week my father died.  Humans are capable of such a crazy range of simultaneous emotion, and sometimes, the big feelings in one area open the doors to the big ones in another area.

I feel the most loss for Dad just at the same time that I'm so happy and joyous for all of those around me who are celebrating the dad-is-still-here-and-great things.

So, before I called brother, in hopes of comforting others in (or near) my boat, I selected a fun photo of Dad and posted it with a promise of virtual hugs for anyone who needed them.

In honor of my dad, I'm sending a big huge bear hug to anyone who could use a hug this father's day. {{HUGS}}
The response was impressive.  Many of my friends and Dad's friends and fans liked it -- they'd all been recipients of his hugs, which were the best.  But, also, acquaintances and friends with fathers/husband-fathers who have passed (some of whom I didn't know about), single mothers, and people with difficult relationships with their fathers liked it.  It was clear that even in my small FB circle, there is quite a bit of pain in the middle of the father's day celebration, and I felt honored that Dad had given me an opportunity to acknowledge it and offer big bear hugs.  Who doesn't want a bear hug to soothe their pain? 

What really gave me chills was the comment from the acquaintance on FB who asked if I knew who was in the Barney suit.  I did not.  It was a family friend, very close to Dad, a father, who'd passed just last year.  At times like these I just can't help but feel that Dad is still with me.  I had literally thousands of photos I could have selected to send my FB message of big bear hugs from Dad to those who need them, and yet, somehow, I chose this one, which obviously resonated with Barney's family.  I love it when I feel like Dad is obviously with me.  And today, I do.

In other news, Niece Week destroyed my workouts.  And it was totally worth it. 

Looks like she'll be taller next year.
Weekly mileage: 14.73, most of it walking with niece.  Instead of running, I did a full day of SF fun (Beach Chalet, California Academy of Sciences, Japanese Tea Garden) with Mom and Niece, plus some street soccer kick/pass time and walks with the Niece to lunches, dinners, pedicures, and Jurassic World at our local theatre.  I wouldn't trade the time with her for anything.  But I am excited about my upcoming commitment to quality and speed with more cross-training for the rest of the Summer.

June 14, 2015

Return to Seattle

View from our hotel.
5 years ago, I ran the Rock 'n Roll Seattle half marathon with a friend. This weekend, I returned for a rematch with the same friend. She ran a 45 minute PR! I paced her and was shocked to see the last few intervals all well below 10 min/mile, including one at 9:00/mile. She is fit! And I had a great day running in perfect weather in a gorgeous city celebrating her impressive improved fitness.  We agreed to return in another 5 years!

The week's total distance workouts were 28.1 miles.  I tapered a bit and focused on quality, doing 19% sub 10 min/mile, plus an unexpectedly insane 75 minute hot yoga workout on Thursday, followed by a Friday off to fly, the race on Saturday, and a Sunday full of easy walking to brunch.

I feel great.  Such a fun way to spend a weekend. 

Also, I love how Seattle always seduces me with its perfect weather (except for the winter months when I lived there with E in 2011).

This weekend, the weather was beyond perfect.  Highs of 70 on race day and 75 the other days.  Clear skies.  The mountain was out:

Mt. Ranier, From The Plane

For today's brunch, CC took me to West Seattle.  Did you know there was a beach in Seattle with volleyball and partying like a Californian coastal extravaganza?

 Yeah.  Me neither.

But there is.  And when the weather is nice you can view the space needle from afar, by the beach.
The Seattle Rock 'n Roll is a great race.  A bit crowded (my garmin claimed we finished in 13.5 and I believe it due to the dodging and turns), but the weather is great, the course is picturesque and the people are wonderful.  If I had to do it one more time, my only modification would be to show up to the start later.  They allocate 1-2 minutes per corral and we were in corral 20 or so.  There was no need for us to be there 30 minutes before the start.  Showing up at the start would have been more than fine.

June 7, 2015

Just Getting On Base

Lately, I am not swinging for the fences in any area of my life.  Instead, I'm all about doing the best I can to score some points and preserve my energy for the next at bat. 

I actually went out with girlfriends in a limo on Friday night, staying out past 1 AM enjoying champagne, a drive to sausilito, a delicious dinner, and dancing.   So that gets me mad social points despite essentially doing nothing else social this week other than BBQ and an impromptu brunch with friends who came to us.  Lesson learned? The best way to wait for someone's late flight is circling the airport in a limo while sipping champagne with friends. 
Our night out included a timeless San Francisco Institution
In addition to our monthly books, one of the members of book club suggested that we may want to do an online course on Science Fiction and Fantasy.  I love the idea of developing a stronger knowledge of this literary form, and I hadn't read most of the required reading, so I signed up.  I'm 2/3 through the first set assignment: The Lucy Crane Translation of Grimms' Household Tales.  If this week is any indication, the reading is likely to be several hundred pages a week.  Doable, but a bit more than I typically read (with my eyes) outside of work.  Thankfully, the writing assignments are 270-330 words each week, and we only have to peer-review 4 submissions each week, so that will not take much time.  The trick will be to figure out how to either (i) get the books each week and fit in more reading time at the gym; (ii) justify even more time at the computer reading the online versions; or (iii) cheat and go for audiobooks.  Unfortunately, despite it being the easiest solution, I'm guessing I won't find audiobooks to meet my goals here.

Side Note:  Ashenputtel (the German Cinderella) is a *much* darker story in the Grimms' version than the one you probably know.

In other news, the low-travel plan for June changed, and E's now traveling for 13 days in the next 4 weeks, while I'm traveling for 14.  Flights have been changed, more hotels booked, driving routes calculated and recalculated.  And, of course, I still need to book a rental car.  Not surprising.

More travel?  Yes, please.  I had to drop a race, and we'll have to host less BBQs, plus find a way to deal with the laundry and time zone madness, but overall, I'm excited for both of my trips.

Work has been *very* busy.  I took on several new clients and projects in May.  I've been paying for it with late nights, some weekend work, and insomnia.  I woke at 3:45 AM last Thursday and couldn't go back to sleep.  So, at 4 I plodded to the computer and worked uninterrupted for 3 hours.  The good: work stress levels dropped.  The bad: had to cancel the PM yoga studio session, I was too exhausted.

More work?  Hmmm... I guess I said yes.  And I guess the main thing I gave up was sleep.  Perhaps I can find a way not to do this one again.  

Japanese studies so far have been less than half of what I'd hoped to do.  My online progress report at japanesepod101.com informs me I've done 19 lessons for 16 hours 29 minutes of total study.  I've maybe done an additional 5 hours of time away from the computer.  Keeping this rate up is unlikely to make a huge difference.  But, like most of the stuff I make space for, it's better than nothing.  If I were to choose a big pie-in-the-sky goal with Japanese, it would be to know the kana before I depart for this trip.  If I can do that, I'll consider everything else a bonus. 

More Japanese?  Ideally, yes.  But if not, then at least I'd like to keep it at this level.  One change I could make is to swap out Japanese for audiobooks in my running and chores.  The problem is, language study is even *more* mentally demanding than audiobooks and will slow down both my running and chores.  Right now, I'm not willing to make this change, but perhaps the last month before we leave?

Work-out wise, I'm also just doing fine. I hit my target mileage (35.48) for the week, and did okay on the quality workouts (9% sub 10 min/mile including 6X1 min @ 8 min/mile and a decent 8 miler with the local running ladies today).  I made up a few tabata and then missed enough to be worse off than where I started last week (current status: 6 to make up).  And, as I noted above, the yoga studio session was cancelled due to lack of sleep.   But I just booked this week's session, so that optimism has to count for something right?

More workouts?  I'd love to, but at least for the next month or two, I think just aiming to keep it roughly where it's been is ambitious enough.  I'm looking forward to a visit to Seattle and the Rock 'n Roll half this weekend, where I'll be pacing a friend.  After that, I have no races on the calendar.  So perhaps I will be able to find a local goal race to work towards in July or August. 

The garden is limping along, but it really needs some attention, so hopefully I'll get to that this week as well.

And there you have it.  Lots of singles.  No home runs.  But I'm playing the game, and doing my best to enjoy it.

May 31, 2015

Pages So Far This Year

In hopes of avoiding a long end-of-year summary post, I've compiled some reviews of the physical books I've been reading so far this year  (I divide my books between audiobooks and physical books).  Major Themes: book club & sci-fi.

Vladimir Nabokov
Book club book. So many reviews have been written on this book.  So, I'll keep it to what I would have told myself if I could have beforehand:  If you *LOVE* language and speak/read French, the linguistic gymnastics in this book may be so enjoyable for you that you will be willing to put up with the odious plot.  I am a little embarrassed to admit that the literary-linguistic crack in this book outweighed the horrific story. (My negative opinion of the story's presentation did change a bit after Reading Lolita In Tehran.) 
By Men or By The Earth
Tyler Coulson
Ordered this book used (out of print) because the idea of a corporate lawyer quitting his job and walking across the country was too close to my fantasies for me to do anything else.  Other reviews commented that he never really *found* what he was searching for, which is true.  But I don't think that makes this book less enjoyable.  I probably liked it partially because I could relate to several of the legal world topics & devices he deployed.  However, I was also entertained and educated about through-hiking the US east-west (for reference, my friends currently doing the PCT found this idea completely abhorrent, and after reading this book, I agree with them).  This is a very honest story of a sometimes mundane adventure of a man and his dog.
Salmon Fishing on the Yemen
Paul Torday
Book club book. Very enjoyable comedy of errors reflecting banalities of government, politics, and every day life.  Light.  Easy.  Funny.  A classic tragi-comedy.
Mote in God's Eye
Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle (1974)
Cheating because I didn't read this one this year, but when I went back to my lists it wasn't on any of the years where it should have been.  Not sure when I read it, could have been 2014 or 2013, definitely after I read Ringworld in 2012.  E & I both enjoyed it and we ordered the rest in the series, so it has some momentum.
Gripping Hand
Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle (1993)
As noted, E and I enjoyed both MIGE and this one was well-received too.  The world and story migrated a bit in the intervening 19 years, and we both agreed that the characters in GH seemed to be more filled out than those in MIGE.
Jennifer Pournelle (Jerry's Daughter 2012)
Anthropologically, the strongest in the MIGE series.  All the races/peoples are so foreign that it's just great to read as a pure observer.  The story was coherent and fun, although it was clear that the writer was not the original author.
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Book Club Book. A mixture of English Literature exploration and the story of Iran from 1979 until the late 1990s as told by an American educated woman who taught literature.  The book focuses primarily on Lolita, Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, and Daisy Miller, but throws in references to other well known works as well.  For me, reading the sections written about books I'd recently read was very entertaining and thought-provoking.  Trying to make sense of the points she was making re: Daisy Miller (which I haven't read) was a bit more meta.  I want to read Daisy Miller now, and yet, my perspective on it is pre-configured.  I would only recommend considering reading this book if you haven't read (and think you may want to read) any of the 4 books mentioned above if you are the kind of person who does not mind seeing the movie before you read the book.  This book was hard work, and it was emotionally draining.  I couldn't help but empathize while reading about the day-to-day lives of women oppressed by a political regime that treats them as second class citizens, which meant I was feeling frustration, anger, futility and sadness throughout the read.  The metaphors built upon other literature were also very mentally difficult -- academically, in terms of "literature" this is probably one of the more difficult books I've ever read.  It did make me appreciate Lolita in a more holistic way than I did before I read it, so that was a positive outcome.  I'm very glad I read this one, but I'm also glad it was a book club book, as I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it as much without knowing there were others reading along to whom I could complain about the difficult stuff.
The Last Time They Met
Anita Shreve
I needed some lighter fare, and Ms. Shreve delivered.  A classic star-crossed lovers tale, told primarily in reverse chronological order, slowly unwinding the mysterious interactions from the final meeting of the lovers to the first.  Well done and very descriptive.  Lazy and slow.
Old Man's War
John Scalzi
A great tale in the Heinlein tradition.  Tight, fast, plot driven, clever, and fun.  Thought provoking.  Immediately upon finishing the book I asked E to order the rest of the series. 
The Martian
Andy Weir
Very, very, light Sci-Fi.  Feel good, fun, enjoyable, and a quick read.
Children of the Sky
Vernor Vinge
I have to give it Vernor Vinge.  The world he built for this book is beyond impressive.  The idea of sentient entities divided into packs vs. singletons vs. chaotic choirs is fun and fascinating.  The plot is good and clever, too.  If I had to do it again, I wouldn't wait so long since reading A Deepness In the Sky and A Fire Upon the Deep before reading this one.  I'd closed both of those out in 2012, and found that I needed to go back to my reviews & wikipedia to refresh and remind myself of the world in order to fully appreciate this one.
The Ghost Brigades
John Scalzi
Book 2 in the Old Man's War world.  If you liked the first, you'll probably like this one as well.
The Last Colony
John Scalzi
Book 3 in the Old Man's War world.  I want more. 
Zoe's Tale
John Scalzi
Book 4 in the Old Man's War world.  The story of Book 3, told contemporaneously with Book 3, but from the point of Zoe, the main characters' daughter.  Bordering on Young Adult in terms of tone and presentation.  

As I was reading this book, Scalzi announced his $3.4 M 10-year book deal.  The NYT Article indicated that E & I are typical Scalzi readers:

While Mr. Scalzi has never had a “No. 1 best seller,” he said, “he backlists like crazy.”

“One of the reactions of people reading a John Scalzi novel is that people go out and buy all the other Scalzi novels,” Mr. Nielsen Hayden said.  

Yup.  We're on that train and very much enjoying the ride, currently.

Gettin' It Done

Pleasanton Ridge -- Exposed climbing, but beautiful.
My clients have been *very* needy the last couple of weeks.  The Monday holiday crammed 5 days into 4 this week.  So, on several days, I worked, fit in short breaks for a workout and meals, and continued to work until 11:30 PM or later.  It's been a long time since I had to do that for several days in a week when I was otherwise at home and not overly scheduled (read -- the late nights of work were *despite* my best efforts, not due to my schedule being too tight or otherwise conflicting with work).

In workout news, I had a great week.  Possibly the best week in at least 8 months.

Mileage:  40.87.
Percentage sub 9:30:  9%.
Walking: less than 10% (unless you count the hiking on Saturday's long run, but I don't, uphill cardio counts by effort, not speed).
Yoga: 75 minutes in the studio on Friday (still sore)
Tabata:  7.  Only 4 more to make-up.

Saturday's day out at the Pleasanton Ridge Trail with a group of local running ladies was too much fun.  I can't believe how lucky I've been with the friendships I've made with local runners thanks to the Internet and social media -- it's definitely one of the best things that's happened to me in the last several years.  

It's not fair that 2 of these ladies are moving from the area and I just barely got to know them.

Most of the trail looked something like this (photos thanks to Cat)
The climb was much more difficult than I expected (this is one of the things that happens when you rely on super organized folks to do all the planning and you just show up -- after getting lost, of course).  So, rather than the planned 12 mile trail run, I watched the time and tried to settle for 9 miles of trail hiking and running where I could.  I left the group at around 4.5 miles to turn back solo because I was worried about getting back in time for my afternoon plans.  Ha ha.  The joke was on me.  I got lost on my way back.  After a few wrong turns, I finally found a single track steep "short cut" detour down an extra hill I'd climbed and back to the main trail.  Thankfully, the way back was primarily downhill, so even with the unexpected detour, I made it back with 9.59 miles total, realizing I could just wait for the 10 mile group and join for brunch.

Trail Run?  Trail Hike? Whatever. It was a great way to get in a good solid cardio workout while spending time with friends.
 On Sunday, I ignored my sore quads to join a different running friend for a mellow 7 miler.  We gabbed the whole way out and back, and afterwards, I felt the long-absent twinge of complete and utter end-of-a-high-mileage-healthy-week good leg and hip exhaustion.

Overall, I'm feeling very good about my slow ramp-up in fitness over the last several weeks.  I've got two upcoming events:

1. Pace a friend at the Seattle Rock 'n Roll half marathon on June 13.
2. The Corrigan Sports Sunnyvale 10-Miler on June 28.

I'm still looking for a few more Summer runs to use as motivation for training, so if you're local and you've got any suggestions, send 'em my way.

May 23, 2015


Vancouver is a breathtakingly beautiful city.

We spent a week there while E attended and spoke at a conference and I worked remotely.  My clients were mellow -- so, I could get out and about to enjoy the city at least a couple of hours each day.  In addition to last weekend's hike, I walked and jogged along the sea wall and through Stanley Park almost every day.

I caught the last day of the Cezanne exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Totem Pole in Stanley Park.

View of Downtown from Stanley Park.

Lions Gate bridge from Stanley Park.
Beaver Creek Lake in Stanley Park.
Baby Ducklings!

Seriously, Baby Ducklings.

Dorkiest hat competition in front of the lighthouse.
After watching the sea planes every day, we decided to take a tour on our last full day.  It was awesome.

Creative use of the GPS watch.

The conference center -- E spent a week trapped, but with amazing views.

Sulfur processing plant.

Lions Gate Bridge from the top.

Gorgeous Views North through the Howe Sound.

Vancouver from the South.
Aerial view of Stanley Park, Downtown, the Harbor, and the Burrard Inlet.
Update: Quick weekly workout summary to keep me honest -

1. total mileage 34.58, quite a bit walking (63%) due (i) getting lost; (ii) battling congestion and a cold that kept threatening to turn into something more serious; (iii) needing to recover from intervals by walking due to (ii); and (iv) choosing to hike with E over scheduled workouts.

2. Total tabatas 3/6  (now 4 behind, gonna need to double up a few more times)

3. Very little core/yoga other than tabatas, but did do some light stretching

4.  Today's long run just wasn't happening.  So I called it at an easy 2 miles, gardened, and did chores and pushed to tomorrow.  Another day.