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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Reviews: Movies

Here are some reviews of some things we've watched recently. They will be very short reviews. We've seen a lot of movies lately, despite the fact that in the nearly 2 years that we've been dating we've only averaged about 2 movie theater movies per year. We went this past weekend and before that we hadn't been since Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. But, I've recently discovered the beauty of Redbox and so we are catching up on our film watching at an alarming rate.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Ugh. This movie met my expectations. That is a bad thing, as I went into this movie anticipating The Phantom Menace. And that's what I got!! It's clear that George Lucas doesn't realize how horrible he is at writing. The problem, honestly, is the horrible implausibility of the whole thing. The whole thing. >> SPOILER << I could accept the aliens. I could accept maybe even the whole refrigerator thing. Swinging with monkeys? Going over waterfalls? There reached a point of implausibility where I actually felt insulted that I was expected to believe this, even in a fantasy sort of way. Insulting. And, frankly, Harrison Ford just doesn't do it for me anymore. Sorry girls.

I Am Legend
Fabulous. I loved this movie. Maybe I wouldn't have thought it was so good if I was a true watcher of horror/zombie flicks, but I'm not. I loved Will Smith as always and found it scary, disturbing and entertaining.

No Country For Old Men
This has Fight Club Syndrome... where I realize it's probably a good movie, but I just disliked it. Not good. Not enjoyable. Todd picked this one out, then fell asleep.

Spider-Man 3
Once again, not good. I think I just dislike super hero movies anymore (another reason not to see Iron Man). And, I've gotten really bored with fight scenes.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets
This is everything that Indiana Jones should have been. Not a smart movie, not completely plausible, but at least fairly entertaining and not just plain stupid. I'm not saying that this movie would win an award, but it kept my attention and Nicolas Cage is always fun to watch, even though he does look like a priest sometimes with the way he dresses.

There Will Be Blood
I feel like I've already posted about this. Fight Club syndrome again. I hated the ending. I sat through that whole, long, boring, dragging, miserable film in order to get to THAT?? Are you kidding me?

Charlie Wilson's War
I rented the film because the book is a little bit of a tough read for me, so I thought if I saw the film I'd be more interested in the book. It was a good movie, very enjoyable. We'll see how I feel about the book.

Guest reviewer: My mom >> SPOILER <<
Kim: So, we rented Juno. Have you seen it?
Mom: Yeah.
Kim: And?
Mom: It was ok, I guess. I don't like them glorifying teen pregnancy like that.
Kim: ok... I guess.
Mom: She gives it up for adoption.
Kim: Thanks for the spoiler, mom.

Anyway, I thought Juno was pretty good. Todd complained whilst we watched it, so I don't think he liked it.

Dan in Real Life
I really liked this one. Cute, funny, Steve Carrell at his best.

Walk Hard
HORRIBLE. I wasn't tired, I chose to fall asleep because the inside of my eyelids were more entertaining. Supposedly it got better at the end. There was nothing that could happen to make that movie better. Really, really bad.

The Good Girl
Um, it was ok. I had promised Todd that there would be hot sex scenes with Jennifer Anniston in them and that really didn't pan out. It was ok.

The Bourne (Fill in the blank)
I had never seen these 3 movies, and I watched them in quick succession, so they felt like the same movie. I liked them, had a good time watching them, etc. I always thought Matt Damon was kind of a Streisand, but I think he's rockin' the shit in this one!

Shrek the Third
Why did I bother to rent this? Just awful. I think we fast forwarded through parts of it.

Looking for Fitness Blogs

I've been reading a lot of blogs lately, as opposed to discussion forums, which is what I used to do in my downtime (Hoobas & Ya yas, those of you that still come and read, hi!!).  I've found some good ones that I like, which you can see on the right hand menu under "Blogroll."  The Consumerist, Cute Overload, Get Rich Slowly, and Serious Eats are all ones that I really love.  However, I'm looking for more fitness-related blogs.  Running, healthy food, nutrition, exercise, weight training.  Please hook me up if you know of good ones.

Oh, I've also started sharing favorite blog posts.  Be sure to check in on that page (also linked on the right menu) if you're interested... or start using Google Reader and you can get them linked right there!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Flowers, Continued

I didn't take more photos, but I did get more planting done.  I got the rest of the petunias in next to the mailbox.  I planted the four pots on the deck - hot pink geraniums, leftover vincas from the front, and verbenas (purple & pink).  I had extra petunias from the front and an extra pot just sitting in the shed, so I did another pot of just the petunias, which is on the deck as well.  We bought two new long rectangle pots, and in one is rosemary, chamomile, and sage.  The other is 2 little cherry tomato plants (I have no expectations of successfully keeping those alive), and I threw some old seeds in there from last year.  I guess that second pot is one that I don't expect to survive.  The seeds were thyme, basil and parsley, but they're old.  We had gone to Bowman's to get supplies and their herb selection was really crappy.  The chamomile is near death.  I know Weis has some basil, so I will likely buy that and put it in a little pot.  I learned online that coriander/cilantro only grows in cool weather, so maybe I will try that in the fall. 

I think everything looks nice and it feels good to have it done.  All that remains is to get a new patio set so that we can eat outside.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


First set of pots done. Planted in the front, where I tend to have issues getting water to the plants and therefore getting them to live past the 4th of July. This year we're trying vincas, vines & geraniums in the containers to see if they'll work. I also mixed some crystals into the soil that are supposed to keep it moist longer. We shall see how it goes.

Sad pots with weeds in them.

Hooray! Flowers!!

The pots conatined vines, vincas & geraniums.

Next to the mailbox, I planted petunias (I was short a few white ones and there are markers there to show where they'll go. I'll finish up tomorrow)

When we were finishing up outside, we noticed something in the sky...

A hot air balloon floated in...

It seemed like it was landing... How weird!

Indeed, it landed on the court behind the house.

Pretty sunsets in Carroll County...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Running & Workouts Update

Running is thus far going well.  I cut my miles somewhat after the half marathon, allowing myself to start small again.  No real reason for this physically, it's actually a strategy to mentally keep me in the game for the next 5 1/2 months because that's a long time to train for a 13 mile race that I am already trained for, technically.  It helps, too, to be a group leader.  I have the names of my group members and this weekend is our first run as our group (officially)! 

Last weekend, we did miracle miles (they are actually called "magic miles" but I've gotten into such a habit of calling them miracle miles now that I don't really want to stop).  Anyway, mine was 10:29.  Not really what I was looking for (10:00-10:15 was my goal), but certainly better than this time last year.  While the weather was good for the running on Saturday, I'd had some dehydration/sickness the night before and wasn't feeling quite 100% for the run.  Next time.

As far as cross-training goes, the Josh Hillis workouts are going well, too.  I finished up week 2 last night.  At first, I thought the workouts seemed easy and wondered about the weight I was using.  However, as I've gotten farther into the program, they've gotten harder, such that I can't move sometimes the next day.  The workouts are staying in the 25 minute or so range, so that is good, too.

Then, this weekend the pool opens!!  Hopefully the weather will be good enough for us to go spend some time there and get some laps in.  I'm ready for the weather to be more summer like.

I'm still considering buying a bike, but I think I may end up with a car instead (more on this later).  I guess it's no big deal and I can go bike-less for another year.  I've only been thinking about buying a bike for 4 years (I'm not kidding).

Tomorrow: HILLS!

Summer Showers

Originally posted earlier this week as a story for a rainy day, this story is back at the urging of Todd and at least one friend. It sounds like more rain is coming next week, so always remember that rain is not that bad :)

June, 2007
Little Cayman, Cayman Islands

"There's something sexy about the rain," she said as it came pouring down, "it feels like kisses on my skin." She spread her arms and spun around. In a summer island storm in a field of sugar cane, she taught me how and showed me why there's something sexy about the rain. --Kenny Chesney

They had done two dives in the morning, but after lunch they'd chosen to stay behind and skip the afternoon dive. It was only their second day on the island and it was a chance to relax. The beach was empty because almost everyone in the small resort had gone off on the dive. They claimed two hammocks and read their books and dozed. They had gotten Cuban beer from the clubhouse, feeling like they were being bad for drinking something not allowed in the States. Warm Caribbean breezes blew the palm trees above. They drank their beers and watched the seabirds and the occasional boat pass by.

As the breeze blew, rain clouds started rolling in. The wind picked up, but they still laughed and drank their beers and talked while a few drops of rain fell every now and then. Not a full rain, just a few drops. They were under cover, so the breeze and the droplets that hit them only cooled them off. He told her that if she took off her bathing suit top, it would please the gods and they'd make it stop raining. When the dive boat returned, he told the exiting divers about his theory.

Clearly, the gods wanted it to rain and soon it was a true summer shower. They gathered up their towels and books and beers and ran through the warm rain to the club house. After a few minutes of watching the rain falling into the pool, they reached for two more beers. It was time to run for it, and they ran across the resort to their own cabana.

Rain soaked, they made it into the shelter of the cabana, dropping their wet towels in the entryway. They kissed, and within an hour, the sun was shining again.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Still ON NOTICE: American Airlines

American will begin charging $15 for your first checked bag starting June 15.

We just booked Bonaire with Continental and not American.  That's a great example why.  This is the first time I've put something on notice twice.

Original On Notice.

Cars: This is what I'm trying to Avoid

Buying a car based on emotion of gas prices

But, as a side note and an update. I was really excited about the Yaris. And I hate to admit this because it sounds stupid... the car I saw on the road that I liked was, in fact, the Matrix. Not the Yaris. Dumb. So, the cost of a Toyota Matrix is approaching that of the Prius, which gets better gas mileage. So, I'm back to the Prius.

As much as I love the Element, I just can't do it on the gas mileage, and Honda is being tight-lipped about what the plans are for the Element in 2009. Some people seem to think it's getting discontinued, replaced with the Crossroad (which I don't like).

I really really really wish that the Honda CR-Z would be coming out as more than a concept. I'd snatch that puppy up in a heartbeat. Is that not the most fabulous looking hybrid you've ever seen?? THAT is what I'm talking about - good gas mileage in something fun to drive!! It would knock the Prius off its feet. However, it's not expected to hit production until 2009 or 2010, and even then only in Europe. Suck.

UPDATE: I did some math. If I were to buy a used Prius (and there are like 6 within 100 miles of my house for sale... not many people sell them), I would have a car payment of $275/month. This is based on the used car loan I could get from AAA and assumes that I could get about $8800 for my car (very high mileage on my car, sadly). Based on the miles I drive and current gas prices, I would save $130.33 in gas a month. So, I'd be spending $275 to save $130 each month. Hm.

So, back to keeping the CR-V. :) With my math, gas prices could reach $5 per gallon and I still wouldn't save money buying the Prius, since my car is paid off. Gas prices would need to be $7.81 for me to save money by buying a Prius.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wrong Addresses...

So, maybe some of you at some point saw my old "Wrong Address" blog where I posted things that had been sent to my email address accidentally. The problem is, my old address (which was my first initial + my last name @ was rather common. I am still using that email address here and there even though my last name is different. Whether something uses that email address or not depends on how lazy I am about changing my preferences at whatever website I'm visiting. Plus, lots of folks still have that email address as my primary and use it. Fine. It's not really a big deal, and I'm phasing it out little by little. I do expect to keep it for a while, though.

So, I get emails that are intended for other people with the same first initial and last name. A LOT. When it first started happening, I guess as far back as 2001 or 2002, I would politely respond to the sender saying "you have the wrong email.... blah blah." Guess what? Frequently the responses that I received where either (a) angry/mean ("I don't care, you can just delete if it bothers you", etc) or (b) apologetic ("ooops, sorry!") or else I was just ignored. No matter what, in 99.9% of the cases where I responded to the sender, they ignored me and continued sending me the emails. So... unless it looked REALLY important, I just ignored them. I'm still being invited to knitting club in Texas like once a month.

Then, there are the emails where people have bought something or signed up for a service and used my email address. I get their receipts. There isn't anyone to respond to in that case, unless I make a phone call (I hate making phone calls). Often, that isn't even an option. Once, I received someone's cruise itinerary. Yes, they purchased a cruise and gave them my email address. That one I was actually kind enough to sort out. Still, most of the time, I just ignore because it's either hard to get a hold of the person or I'm ignored or yelled at when I do.

I do scratch my head, though... HOW are these people REPEATEDLY using my email address? Are they doing it on purpose? It almost seems like they must be, because it happens so often (at its peak, about once a day, then it will stop for a month or two and start up again). Do they not want their receipts? If I wanted to, I"m certain I could find a way to impersonate them. Isn't that kind of stupid?

So, today I emailed one of the worst offenders. His name is Kevin and he lives in Minnesota. I've been getting his emails for a long time. I don't know how long since I moved to gmail in early 2006 and don't have records past that, I but I remember back at least as far as 2004 getting his emails. I had never been able to find a vaild email address for him, but finally found one today when I googled him. I emailed him and asked him to please not use my email address anymore, and that I had been receiving his emails for quite some time. I also apologized if I had the wrong guy.

He responded, and it was him sending me the emails. He said if it's such a hassle, I should get a new email address...


My email wasn't mean or angry... If I was doing the same thing to someone else, I would have apologized.

Oh well.

Btw, Kevin likes spices.

UPDATE, 9:45pm: Kevin and I talked a bit more and he was nicer and apologized for his rudeness. I explained my frustration. I told him I'd forward his misplaced mails. He told me that the mail I sent him (a receipt from was apparently his Father's Day present and his wife was the one who did it. I have a feeling she might be responsible for the spices, too. Anyway, he seemed to be an OK guy, if not a little goofy for not knowing his own email address.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Review: The Rapture of the Deep by Michael Zinsley

Taking a break from dive accident books... lol.

I enjoyed this book. It was a lot like The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific, although with a serious focus on diving, more like Diary of Dirtbag Divemaster (written by Southern Cross Club's Terry!). When comparing it to The Sex Lives of Cannibals, though, this one is not quite as funny but still is worth a read if you love either diving or the tropics. Mike Zinsley tells plenty of stories that show the good and the bad of diving. Sometimes, chapters explore the beauty and awesomeness of being a scuba diver. Other times, he talks about being a dive master and handling his customers and students (along with the crazy things they do!). This is a great book to take along to read on a dive vacation and I definitely recommend it.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Frederick Half Marathon 2008 - Photos

I posted another photo earlier, but here are my official race photos for people who just cannot see enough photos of me running...

Somewhere around Baker Park or Hood College (or both!!) It's funny because as I ran near Baker Park, I realized I hadn't been there since July 4, 1997 when I was there with the UMBC Gang. Dave and I got in a fight that day, which occupied my mind for a good 2 miles thinking about how I saw some definite signs of trouble even before I got married and should have thought that one through... Anyway, at least it gave me something to think about.

Also near Hood College

On the hill at mile 13

Approaching the finish line, still running strong!!!

At the finish

Yay! Another medal!

Awesome photo of Todd & Me

See more photos of this race...
Frederick Half Marathon 2008

Marine Corps Marathon 2007 - Photos

Yes, I realize that this was 7 months ago, but better late than never. I didn't take many photos on the course, so here are some of me running.

Kathy, Kristy and Me. Kathy actually saw the photographer. I remember this... we were in the middle of a conversation about something and Kathy suddenly smiled and waved and said "HI!!" Kristy and I were like, WTH?

I think this is at Hains Point. It would help if MarathonFoto labeled them for me.

Kristy & Me at the National Mall

Approaching the Finish

Iwo Jima

Todd & Me at Iwo Jima

See more photos from this race...
Marine Corps Marathon 2007

Friday, May 16, 2008

Technical Blog...

I know most of my "regular" readers could care less about the technical stuff, but there are A LOT of people that do care, apparently.  On some of the technical posts, I've been getting in the neighborhood of 40-50 hits a day.  Those posts have doubled my blog traffic and the visitors are coming from all over the world (India, Africa, Brazil, France... you name it).  It weirded me out.

So, I'm moving that traffic over to a new technical blog, where I'll have those posts.  If that sort of thing interests you, come on over.  I probably won't post all that often, but it will keep work and play separate.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Smart Cars

I've actually thought about buying a Smart Car. I saw them in France in 2002 and thought they were just the cutest things ever. The difference between the US and France, though, is that there is a SIGNIFICANT average car size difference between here and there. There also happens to be a lot more traffic flowing at high speeds here in the states. However, in my recent quest for cars I did consider at least test driving a Smart. There's a weird auto dealer near my house that seems to sell specialty cars like Purple Hummers, Corvettes, Lime Green Mustangs, etc, and they always have something weird sitting in their lot. Right now, they have a Smart Car.

So, this morning I saw on the CBS Early Show that Smart Cars are actually getting good crash test ratings. That was really surprising. You'd think a car that small would just crumple like aluminum foil. Still, I don't think it would fit with my lifestyle. Here on the east coast there are just too many crazy drivers, too many high speed highways with heavy traffic, and I don't do a lot of city driving. Still, it's a thought for a second car if I perhaps chose to get something less conservative on gas as my primary vehicle. They are certainly cheap enough.

As it is, I've increased my emergency fund, which reduced the amount I had put aside for a down payment on a car. And, I have invested another part of my down payment, leaving me with next to nothing for a down payment. So, it seems that I've accepted that I'll be driving the CR-V for at least another year or two. It's not like I don't have the money, it's just that now isn't the right time. Not really a big loss, as I am fine driving the CR-V. I do need to clean it though. Maybe this weekend.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Immunizations and Other Travel Precautions

After all of this Caribbean travel, we've decided to get immunized for our next trip. Just a reminder to folks that might be wanting to travel to the Caribbean, Central America, Africa, etc, to get your shots. This website will tell you what you need based on where you are going. For example, for Turks and Caicos and Bonaire, we need Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Tetanus-Diphtheria (and MMR, which I'd already gotten as a teenager). Dengue Fever is also a big issue - it has been breaking out all over the place and requires insect protection, not vaccination. Previously, we had been using the lightest of the Off! brands, but it turns out that we need a lot stronger insect protection. Our friends Ellen and Matt bring us near 100% DEET that they buy in Indonesia. Hooray for World Travelers. If you don't have DEET smuggled out of Indonesia, you should at least get the Deep Woods Off! and the strongest DEET you can find. We don't get Dengue Fever in the US, so people haven't heard of it, but it's a MAJOR issue. Even at home, though, you should be protecting yourself from West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease. I know someone with Lyme Disease and therefore it scares me more than cancer at this point.

From the CDC, Dengue Fever outbreaks in 2005... look at all of those dive locations!

We also tend to bring boatloads of Purell (can't dive with a cold!), Sudafed, Zicam, Cipro, Swim Ear. I never travel without Advil because I get migraines. If you are allergic to something, bring your epipen. Oh, and if you're a diver, get DAN.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Kenny Chesney and Mom's Day

So, yesterday was a big day. First off, it was the first official run for the 2008 Galloway Program (delayed a week because of the Frederick Marathon / Half Marathon). A good run, but cold and rainy. Do you remember how it was raining on Saturday morning? Yeah, I was out running in that. I've had 2 years of no rain for running and now that I'm obligated to show up because I'm a group leader, I'm sure we'll get nasty weather all summer.

Saturday was also the Kenny Chesney: Poets and Pirates Tour stop in Baltimore (at Raven's Stadium... I won't say its official name since that bank doesn't pay ME anything)! Now, we went to see Kenny this past August at Merriweather, but it was HORRIBLE. I don't blame Kenny (even though he booked the place), just Merriweather for being a horrible venue. At the time I'd wanted to put them on notice, but I never got around to writing it up. Merriweather oversold the lawn for the concert and when we arrived there were no seats on the lawn... no square of grass more than an inch wide. We were forced to sit in the alternate lawn, which may as well have been in the parking lot. We couldn't see the stage at all, and watched the concert from a big screen TV with crappy speakers. Also the suckage was the drunk people. Not that I am prude and never drink, but there is a difference between kicking back a beer or two to relax and being passed out on a blanket in a puddle of your own vomit. When 80% of the people in the lawn were somewhere between stumbling idiot drunk and passed out drunk, it sucked for us sober people. I didn't drink that day because it was like 95 degrees, I'd run ten miles in the morning, and I didn't want to end up with heat exhaustion.

Anyway.... the concert last night. MUCH better. The drunks were still there, but the ratio of drunk to sober was much more reasonable (I guess the sober people were smart and bought pavillion seats at Merriweather). We had great seats fairly close to the stage, and Brooks and Dunn opened. In fact, all of my photos are Brooks and Dunn, but once Kenny was out it was dark and I was just enjoying the music. This was my third time seeing Brooks & Dunn, and my fourth time seeing Kenny Chesney. Both Kix and Ronnie and Kenny put on a great show! My only serious complaint was the parking lot which we paid of ton of money for a pass for and took an hour and a half getting out of. No, we didn't end up tailgating because the weather was iffy and we had some chores to do at home. I also wish that Gary Allan had been on before B&D so that we could have seen him also (Leann Rhimes and Big & Rich played between).

Today was mom's day and there isn't much to say. My mom went to my sister's yesterday, so we were unable to join her, but we're having dinner with her either this week or next. Instead, I spent mom's day with Todd's parents. Always fun, and they brought pie...

So, happy mom's day!! Concert photos...

Ronnie Dunn on the big screen

Brooks and Dunn had a hot air balloon fly over the stadium

The balloon


He's been trying to lose weight. We removed the automatic feeder. The vet wants him to lose a pound to a pound and a half, but thus far, no luck. Now I see what he needs...

Friday, May 9, 2008

Help Me Name My Plant

Aren't they nice?

Both plants were gifts from co-workers. The closer one in the green pot is Seamus, aka "Seamus the Shamrock" and "Seamus the Wonder Plant." Seamus was a gift from a co-worker who moved to Pittsburgh and I had loved his shamrock plant so much that he gave it to me when he left. Seamus is referred to as "The Wonder Plant" because he lived in my apartment for the year that I lived there, and one day last summer I hadn't been to my apartment in a while (one week? two weeks? who knows) because I'd been at Todd's everyday. Poor Seamus hadn't gotten water, had dried up and died. His poor little leaves were all dried up, wilted and dead. I mean, he was DEAD. I've killed lots of plants, I know it when I see a dead one.

So, out of guilt, I filled a cup of water and poured it on the poor dead leaves and dirt, knowing it would do nothing. I didn't have the heart to throw him in the trash yet though. A few days later when I returned to my apartment, imagine my surprise when I saw Seamus alive and well, fresh new leafy sprouts and even a BLOOM. It was INSANE.

This is the same plant, and he's thriving in the new home of my office, although his leaves tend to grow in the direction of the emergency lights.

ANYWAY... the other plant. It's a rubber plant, also given to me by a co-worker for my birthday in 2004. I don't know how it has survived my poor treatment either. I know when I sat in the Portal Room at Previous Employer, other co-workers would water him for me (namely my former co-worker who loved jungle plants enough to decorate his cube like a jungle). The rubber plant even survived its time in the Low Rise (dungeon) with no windows. He never lived in my apartment, but he did live for many months in our kitchen after I started at Current Employer, because I was too lazy to bring him into the office. He didn't get watered enough there, but lived anyway (just lost a few leaves). Some of his leaves are brown because he sometimes was too close to the toaster oven and rubber plants seem to keep the same leaves forever (in fact, he only recently lost some leaves that had teeth marks in them from Miss Cleo). I finally brought him into work to be with Seamus about a month ago. He's actually doing quite well, and he's been re potted once and is a lot bigger than he was back in 2004. My understanding is that he will eventually grow to tree size - many feet tall...

So... name my rubber plant!! I need ideas!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Playing in the Pool

We had a good time in the pool last night. Since it's now been 6 months since we've dove and we've also had our equipment serviced in that span of time, Todd and I found it necessary to prepare for our next dive trip (Turks & Caicos!!!) by going to the pool to play and check everything out. It was a good time and everything checked out fine.

The activity that we decided to play with is a bailout. Basically, you take all of your equipment and throw it over your arms. Everything is broken down except your regulator is attached to your tank and you are breathing off of it. However, you're not wearing any of your equipment (no mask, no fins), and you have to sink to the bottom, put it together and put it on. Todd did this as part of his training (he was certified by a more hard core agency than I was), but I had never done it. I figured, what the heck, it was worth a try as long as I wasn't playing with it in open water.

So, I looped everything over my arms and jumped in. I admit, it's a panicky feeling being underwater with no mask on when that's what you're used to. I had to calm down and remember I was ok because there was air for me to breathe. I got my mask on (although I was still holding everything, which made it a PITA to clear my hair out of the mask.

The problem with the whole experiment was that when you do this in training, you have a weight belt. You put the weight belt on, and then you sink to the bottom and you can do everything fine. Well, I have a weight-integrated BC, which means that I have nothing to weigh me down. I would calm down and hug my BC and I would sink. However, I needed to let go of the BC to hook it up to the tank and then I would float back up again. I'm very buoyant, as I carry personal flotation devices on my chest at all times (this is NOT a lie, I can do fin pivots and all kinds of buoyancy skills, but I roll backward to the chest-up position each time I attempt to do the Indian style position that Todd's always doing).

So, the buoyancy was an issue. The next problem was that my tank strap on my BC is set very tight. I have a habit of setting my tank too loose and then it comes off during a dive, so I set it very tight so that this won't happen. This makes it hard to slip it over a tank, but that's not an issue above water. Well, it's an issue under water. I couldn't get the strap over my tank, and then I would float to the surface. I could have loosened the strap, but it was set perfectly for my usual diving and it just didn't seem worth it.

So there. I didn't quite do it. I finally surfaced and we retrieved my gear and I put it on above water. It was still a fun experiment, but I'm going to have to figure out what the best practice is for doing it with a weight-integrated BC. Maybe I will post on scubaboard. Or... I can see if I can get a hold of a rental BC and weight belt to try it with. As silly as it sounds, I hate to mess up how my equipment is set up for just this little experiment. Maybe I can try it with just a weight belt with no weight in my BC and see how that works. We shall see at my next time in the pool (unless I get brave and decide to try it on the sand in Turks & Caicos, but then I've got current and surge to deal with). Nevertheless, I will do it eventually... you never know when a dive boat will be overrun with pirates and I'll need to grab my gear and a tank and jump in the water with it. Those pirates won't get ME!!!

Trip Around the Sun

by Al Anderson (Jimmy Buffett / Martina McBride)

For Todd...

Here I’m singin’ happy birthday
Better think about the about the wish I make
This year gone by ain’t been a piece of cake
Everyday’s a revolution
Pull it together and it comes undone
Just one more candle and a trip around the sun

I’m just hangin’ on while this old world keeps spinning
And it’s good to know it’s out of my control
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from all this livin’
Is that it wouldn’t change a thing if I let go

No you never see it comin’
Always wind up wonderin’ where it went
Only time will tell if it was time well spent
It’s another revelation
Celebrating what I should have done
With these souvenirs of my trip around the sun

I’m just hangin’ on while this old world keeps spinning
And it’s good to know it’s out of my control
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from all this livin’
Is that it wouldn’t change a thing if I let go

Yes I’ll make a resolution
That I’ll never make another one
Just enjoy this ride on my trip around the sun
Just enjoy this ride

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Look Ahead At Races

Between now and the Baltimore Half Marathon, I've got 3 races: Race for Our Kids 10K on June 1, the Pikesville 5k in July and the Annapolis Ten Mile Run in August.  These are three tough, tough, races, and I've run all of them at least twice.  Because training for the half is so long (and frankly I'm already trained for a half marathon, clearly), I need focus.  So, the goal is to match my 2006 times for the Race for Our Kids and A-10.  I'm writing off Pikesville, as it is a hot, miserable 5k, and difficult to PR.  I've already set a 5k PR this year, so just showing up and doing better than my pathetic Pikesville 5k time from last year is good enough.

Race for Our Kids 10K
I swore up and down over and over last year that I was never running this race again.  I even remember telling Amanda, Kristy and Ellen in February that I wouldn't be doing Race for Our Kids.  But, I'm a group leader and I can't do what I planned, which was to skip Race for Our Kids and run the Survivor Harbor 7 the next weekend.  I'm already missing 5 weeks of running due to scuba commitments, I can't miss more just because I want to.  So, I'm running it.

The problem with this race is the elevation chart, which is just plain BRUTAL.  The first mile is a lot of downhill, so you get in the groove of going fast, then a gradual uphill grade until mile 5, where there are rolling hills.  Then, mile 6 is almost exclusively a huge uphill to the finish.  Blah.

So, I'm going to try and match my excellent 2006 time of 1:14, which is right at about a 12 minute pace.  I should be able to do that, but I think I need some hill speed work between now and then.  I want to try to do two short runs over the next 3 weeks at a 12 minute pace at home, which is hilly.  That's only 3 miles and not 6, but it will be interesting to see how I do, and will help me decide if I'm as fast as I was back then or not.

Annapolis Ten Mile Run
In 2006, I managed a 12:16 pace at this race, for a total time of 2:02.  I've often felt that this time must have been wrong and there was no way I did this race that fast. 

Annapolis, like Race for our Kids, is hilly.  Combine it with a late (in my opinion) start time, often 80+ degree weather at the start, and high humidity, and you get a challenge.  Up down up down, hill after hill, plus a big bridge.  I should be used to it and if I keep my hill training up, I should be able to match the 2:02, or maybe get my time under 2:00.  We shall see.  I have a lot longer to prepare for this one, so really this is my current target race.

I'm up for a challenge!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Frederick Half Marathon

The group at the start...
Top L to R: Ellen, Chris, Todd, Caryn, Doug
Bottom: Kristy, Natalie, Kim
(Thanks to Natalie for the photo)

Awesome race... After 2007 being such a horrible year, it is so nice to have some good things happening.

Saturday, we made our way to Frederick, finally getting to the Expo around 3pm. The expo was small, not nearly as exciting as others I've been to, but still ok, I guess. We headed out to our hotel and took a few minutes to relax before heading out to dinner at Il Porto with the group. We arranged to meet in the morning. Then, it was back to the hotel to relax some before going to bed. Oh, and we stopped at Giant and bought bananas :)

The alarm was to go off at 4:45, but it didn't matter because at 3:45 the prom night high schoolers that were next to us came back from prom, making as much noise as possible. We tried to sleep more, but it really didn't happen. So, we arose at 4:45 to get ready, meeting up with the group at 5:30 and heading to the fairgrounds. Start time was 6:30am.

First of all, the course was beautiful. Some was through downtown Frederick, some was through nice residential areas, around Hood College and at the end through cow pastures. The weather was beautiful - sunny and warm, breezy, but not overly so. Temperature was very nice. Excellent conditions, especially given that earlier in the week I thought it might be 50 degrees and rainy.

My plan was 12:30 minutes per mile, 1:1s. I was to stick with that 12:30 (or above, if necessary, since I didn't know the course) for the first 10 miles. At 10, I was to re-evaluate how I was feeling, potentially move to 2:1s and pick up the pace as much as possible. And after 10 miles, I could select any pace I wanted that I could maintain. My goal time was 2:45.

Well, I stuck to my plan perfectly. I had a couple faster miles, a couple slower miles, but in general I stayed right where I wanted to be. At 10, I attempted to speed up while staying at 1:1s, but that is where the hills picked up, so that made it difficult. I was pushing harder but keeping about a 12:40 pace. At mile marker 12, I was determined and switched to 2:1s. There was a big hill at the end, so that slowed me down some, but I still kept the 12:40 pace. Then, the run to the finish!

I ran my own race for once. I ran for a few minutes with Ellen, Caryn & Doug at the start, but then headed off. I ran with Ellen for a couple minutes before she passed me around mile 10, but in general I ran alone, stayed focused, and just in general ran a great race.

Kudos to Todd, who ran a sub-2-hour race, and he's also feeling excellent. :)

My final time was 2:44:30, right where I wanted it to be... Results

Friday, May 2, 2008

Private: I Can't Resist

New Private Blog Post

Email me or comment here for private blog access.

Taking Your Breath Away...

Todd sent me this article.

I run a half marathon the day after tomorrow.  I've only missed a few short runs (2, I think) this entire training period, one of which was this week.  I have done hill training, speed training, and I've run a maximum distance of 13 miles... twice.  I've trained in freezing weather, and hot hot hot weather.  I've trained on the treadmill, on the trail and on streets.

I am ready, hills or not.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Little Inspiration...

13 Year Old at the JFK 50 Miler
(I get choked up watching someone cross a finish line... lol)

From a Co-Worker's Cube Wall...

Haiku's are easy
Sometimes they do not make sense
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