Wednesday, June 30, 2010

you need a hat.

when i was a kid, the phrase "you need a hat" was a thing we used to say when we meant "i am now going to put something that is not a hat on your head."

the more un-hatly the thing was, the funnier (we thought) it was.

this little habit developed into kind of a predilection for hats in general, but since nearly nobody knows about this childhood game, nearly nobody knows how much hats make me giggle.

so sunday afternoon there was this charming "ladies' hat and garden party" and i whipped up a little thing out of a paper bag to wear.

it's actually a little more than one paper bag; the ribbon is made of part of an additional bag, but i think (if i may toot my own horn) it's a smashing little number.

feel free to contact me if you have any occasions for which you need grocery-bag millinery.

awesome. i think that's the first time i've had opportunity to use the word "millinery" without having to go out of my way to do it.

i am now very, very happy.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

this week and last week


tonight's numbers are in and i am STILL on my awesome hot streak. i now have nineteen consecutive last place finishes in this trail running series, which is an all-time record, AND tonight's run was a full two minutes better than the last time we ran this course.

i'm still a sucky runner, but i don't think i can put this any better than what those ladies said to me at the bottom of the last hill: remember that the rest of america is sitting at home with their hand on their remotes.

last week after the run we're standing in the parking lot talking and this kid, this beautiful and perfect kid comes around the corner into the lot and the way he sits the bike is so graceful and stylish and skillful even though he's maybe only ten or twelve years old and in one hand he's holding a cup of coffee and he dismounts and takes off his helmet, all without spilling the coffee and he looks like one of those guys in the collegiate cyclocross races.

my friends and i are talking, but we're also watching this kid and finally i just turn and call out to him "do the other kids at your school know how cool you are?" and he's kind of taken by surprise and my friends and i all have a few comments for this kid about how we don't know how he goes over on the playground, but the way he rides the bike and carries the coffee and tears it off with some style makes him ready to be cool with the big boys.

then we notice this kid's father coming up behind the conversation and the guy is grinning so wide his face will maybe break, he's so proud.

and the kid says to us "is the race over? who won?"
"i don't know who won", i say. "i come in last every week."
"cool" he says, smiling.

and his father tells us the kid dragged him out for an evening's mountain biking but he didn't do too bad for an old guy. "he keeps falling", the kid says.
"if you're not falling, you're not learning." i tell him.
"cool. i'll have to fall a lot more then." he says, and he smiles again.

this kid has a beautiful smile. and you can see in his eyes when he talks to you that he's thinking back there. he's smart. and ten or twelve years from now he is going to break hearts everywhere he goes.

and his dad will still be proud.

Monday, June 28, 2010

can you guys keep a secret?

i'm working on a fun little project involving stereograms.

here's one i made this week:

i have trouble seeing the darn things, so it's hard to proofread them. i'm actually using software i bought to make these, but here's a little online flash toy you can play with.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

this time i earned it.

so it's race day at about four-thirty in the afternoon and i get an email from my little friend cr asking me to promise not to get hurt, so i send her an email containing this text

tonight the course will be wet, but i'll run my tires a little soft. (grippy)

i have ridden this course and practiced it. it rides beautifully and is super fun, like dancing. i can ride it all without footing down on a good day, and there are no technical elements that scare me. it is the safest of the courses, the fastest, and my favorite.

my shifters are all working smoothly and are adjusted well for this course.

i have no choice about riding slower next week, since that course has been described as "climb-y".

while i can't promise not to hurt myself, i CAN promise not to tell you about it, and since you only see me clothed (and nearly always long sleeves), you'll never know the difference.

besides, a few bruises and scratches are what happen when you ride tough. if you're going really fast and taking a few chances you often graze a tree or something. no serious harm, but nobody goes super fast by not taking any chances.

the key is not to take STUPID chances. a fast ride is worth a few bruises. it is NOT worth broken bones, and part of riding smart is knowing the difference.

and i even go so far as to make what i think is a snappy little graph:

and i'm joking about it with my friends and i go warm up and i come to the start and they're talking about the trail conditions (slippery; it has rained all day) and there are some women on my start talking about a rooty section of trail right above the oven and i tell them the best way to go through is to pick a good line, close your eyes, and go fast.

i have had a lot of experience with those roots over the years. i know what i'm talking about.

so i go out of the start all fast and everything and i'm leading the pack which is a sucky place for me to be because i never know how to pace myself and one guy goes ahead of me, so i get on his tail and there's another guy coming up behind me and i want him to pass now or else wait until after those roots because i have BUSINESS to tend to and i'm thinking about what cr said and the next thing i know i am thinking "cr is gonna be mad about this" and then i have no memory about what happens next except that i'm lying facedown on the ground telling racers behind me to jump over me and keep racing.

one guy stops to very gingerly unclip my right foot and remove my bike from on top of me, and i assure him that i can still feel my fingers and toes and i'm all right.

but i can't move.

it's not a surprise, exactly. usually when i get hit hard i just pass out, or i get this weird temporary paralysis that i can only explain as my body's way of telling me to sit right there for a few moments while it takes stock of the situation. i have hit the ground sufficiently hard to have peed myself.

i explain to the guy that it's going to be a few minutes before i can move at all, and therefore a few minutes before i will know if i'm hurt and that other riders will be along soon, so he should go.

and he does.

and i'm lying there thinking: "(proper name) will be coming along soon. i'd better get up if i want to stay ahead of her."

and i still can't move the left side of my body, but i at least drag myself off the trail. apparently i have flown headlong over my handlebars, managing to keep my arms and legs and head free of the crash, which means i have landed at a pretty good speed with my full weight (and i'm heavy) on my belly.

and then suddenly i get up and get on my bike. i don't remember it, but the next memory i have is me coming around the next corner and barreling down the straightaway at the oven and i'm passing a woman at a pretty good clip and i'm thinking: "all right. this is gonna be AWESOME. i'll go super fast and i'll make up my lost time!"

and then at the corner where it's not downhill anymore i simply don't have the strength to carry my speed through. i can't breathe so well. and i don't have any power in my legs. and i think: "well, i got the wind knocked out of me. i'll take it easy going up this and then i'll be AWESOME."

so the course turns right and goes over the top of ridge run (not down it) and across and down little ridge run, which is fun and twisty and fast and one of my favorite parts of the course but i can't control my steering because my arms are shaking too much and i overshoot EVERY corner and have to foot down and every time i foot down it hurts so much i think i'm going to puke and i'm thinking: "well, this would be the post-fall adrenaline rush. i'll just get down this and onto the woods road and i'll calm down and then i'll be AWESOME."

so the shaking stops mostly and i turn off of the woods road onto the next singletrack but i still haven't got the strength to control properly the front end of my bike and i'm thinking: "well, apparently you need you abs for a lot of these things. i'll just stay loose and try to compensate with other muscles and i'll be AWESOME."

and by some miracle i make the next turn and i make it over the rock wall just fine but i'm out on that fabulous singletrack that rides so nice and i can't steer well enough to go fast, and i'm not going fast enough to carry momentum, and by now the truth sets in: THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE AWESOME.

i can barely turn granny gears and when i get off to walk, i can barely do that, but by this time i have passed up every opportunity to cut the course and come in DNF. i am now pretty far out from the end and the only way out is out so i grimly readjust my goals from "awesome" to "finish" and do my best with it.

so i come up the chute and lay in the grass, trying to find a position that doesn't hurt really, really bad because now the post-crash adrenaline (which i could have used to come in instead of finishing) has worn off and the pain is starting to set in pretty bad and i'm trying not only to position myself so that it's less painful, but so that if i vomit, i'm facing downhill.

because at this point i'm not certain i don't have internal injuries.

i'm pretty sure i haven't torn or broken anything skeletal, and that my organs are more or less un-ruptured, but i know that it's possible to bruise something so that a slow bleed is a bit of a problem later on.

so we wait a few minutes, and discuss our options and we're pretty sure after a little examination that i've only badly bruised all my abs, which is gonna hurt a lot, but that barring a sudden increase of sharp pains or a discharge of inappropriate color, i'm probably just fine.

so my friends take my shirt off for me. i had managed to wear one of my old shirts as part of my stroll down memory lane and it's a shirt that's hard to get off under good conditions and they put a clean shirt on me and racked my bike for me and drove me home.

it is not good when you some home stinking of urine and dressed in someone else's clothes.

so i had a hot shower and managed to fix myself some dinner and i put on some compression shorts which i pulled up high over my belly for a little more support and put on a tight shirt and it's painful but i'm getting along ok if i remember to lie down for a little while every so often.

choir practice tonight is going to suck.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

about that picture...

the thing about bruises is that we get them. we race mountain bikes. we get used to them, but they're super fun to show off.

the problem for me is that i have that ultra-white blue-tinged pearlescent skin and there is NO chance i can use a flash to photograph it. so it's natural light for me, and that means taking the picture in my front room, at the window, facing the street.

that's where the light is.

and on top of that all of you who have ever tried to get a really good picture of your own butt know this: it's on the back side of you and you can't easily get the shot in focus because the camera controls are JUST out of easy reach and nevermind being able to look at the little monitor, even if you have one of those cameras that has one on both sides.

so there i am, gyrating about, trying to aim and shoot, catch the light, and GET THE BRUISE IN FOCUS, pants around my ankles, really hoping the neighbors don't decide that THIS would be an excellent time to come stand in the driveway and look around.

for the record, i now have dozens of pictures of my own butt, in various states of frame and focus and i STILL had to crop one in order to show enough butt that you get to see the size of the bruise, but not so much that you''ll need therapy.

one of my friends said it would have been funny to see that whole process. another friend ventured the opinion that anyone present would have been handed the camera and told "here. take a picture of my butt for me", so the comic value would have been lost.

in the end i think we decided that a smart person present to have seen that spectacle would have made a video and posted it on youtube.

Monday, June 21, 2010

if you don't want to see my butt, don't look over here!

among my mountain biking friends, this is what we shout when we are about to remove our pants. it is the polite warning for those who may wish to avert their eyes.

since this post contains a photo of my butt, you may wish to avert your eyes.

last wednesday i had a little spill on the racecourse. it was a stupid fall; i wasn't even moving at the time. i had gotten off my bike and didn't ride a little technical passsage and i was just standing still for a moment when -bam!- fall down, go boom.

i got a little bruisie on my butt. today is monday, and this is what it looks like today.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

word cloud

i found this really cool web you called wordle and i have used it to make a graphic representation of my blog posts.

if i get ambitious, i'll update it from time to time and catalog the results.

Friday, June 18, 2010

what's with the change?

all right.

if you've been following along for long enough, you know that ever since i started this blog i have doggedly held on to the original layout and formatting that i started with, kind of like a badge of pride.

it says: "i have been keeping this blog since this layout was spiffy state-of-the-art", or at least that's what i thought i wanted it to say, and then i realized that i just didn't like the layout all that much anyway, and it's been a lot of trouble to keep and try to customize it instead of using the cool new templates that blogger always wants you to use when they bring out the new ones.

so ok, ok. i went with the new look and i think i've decided that i'll update the color scheme at least according to the seasons, which is kind of what i do on my website anyway. sort of.

over there i keep the photo albums updated and update the podcast when i have new music, but the general theme stays the same. what changes most regularly is the front page, where the photo changes according to what the view from my desk looks like.

yes, that really is the view from my desk. i crop it a little so you don't see the neighbor's garage, but i'm really only looking at the mountain anyway, unless my neighbors are doing something interesting in their garage.

either way, i'm happy.

what's really going on over here is that martin has picked a very ambitious piece for the church choir and i spend time practicing that, but it's not so much that the music is difficult but that it stretches my range and endurance, so i have to practice more in general.

i'm still working on new music, although not finishing any, so i don't have much to show you, and i meant to post the pictures and stuff from the bead project (now that i can tell you it was about beads)

but i got caught up in a little web design project for this artist friend of mine and although before i got sick i was starting to get very good with the rudimentary HTML they had back then, things have moved along pretty quickly without me and of course what i need to do is modify iWeb templates (have you TRIED to modify iWeb templates?) and i started to do internet searches about how to do that but most of the answers you get to that question is that it just can't be done but i found this ONE genius woman who not only knows it can be done, but will tell you HOW.

but her directions (view full article) break down a little near the end:

All of these sections are now handled by some simple HTML and CSS that’s embedded within the XML. If you know a little of both of those, you should be able to make your way around that stuff.

ok, before i got sick i had a pretty good grasp of HTML, but XML? all i know about it is that it's related to HTML, and i  understand the progress, but i'm nothing like caught up and CSS? i don't even know what that stands for, so i had a little reading to do.

and unfortunately most of what's written out there is either aimed at people who already have advanced skills, or it is aimed at people who have no skills, and some of what's out there is just plain wrong.

and then as the website is looking pretty good, i decide that it has to have its own favicon, so i had to learn to do that, which is a whole other kettle of fish.

i'd been kind of meaning to make me a favicon for my own sites, but it seemed too complicated, but as long as i was learning, i made one.

isn't it cute?

i have one for the artist friend, too, but i'm still figuring out how to place it properly in iWeb pages and it's really easy to bork ALL of your pages when you start messing with apple's templates.

so. it's time for noon prayer and then lunch and maybe some grocery shoping and a bike ride; grocery shopping for sure and maybe a bike ride. 

i hope i have the energy for a bike ride. the season is four weeks old and i pretty much suck. getting your conditioning back takes a LOT longer than losing it.

i'll talk to you later.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

unsolicited advice

i read a lot of blogs.

a lot.

i do it because i'm interested in what people have to say. and today a woman whose blog i'm following expressed despair that according to her analytics, her readership has fallen off. this is, i guess, a crisis to her, because i think she has dreams of being a famous blogger or something, and she asks what she can do to increase her readership.

so maybe this isn't entirely unsolicited advice.

well, from where i'm sitting, i am wildly interested in ordinary people who have something to say. i am interested in your dog's agility trials, the blooming date of your daylilies, your recent cruise to alaska, the music on your ipod, your latest drawings, your rollerderby practice, your adjustment to changes in your relationship, your weekend at your lake house, and your backpacking trip across asia.

i am interested in your garden, what you had for lunch, your photos, your first triathlon, your move to san francisco, your volunteer work, your day job, and your cat.

i am interested (i'm talking about you, train wreck lady) in the way you manage to self-sabotage your entire life and self-destruct so completely, write about it so clearly, and yet seem to have no idea at all that you are making a series of very bad choices and i'm not sure you realize that a blog is a public outlet, at least if you don't check the little box to make it private.

i am even interested to see the latest in paper products from that woman whose blog is about selling paper products. she is a vendor of such items, she loves such items, and as such her blog is interesting because her ideas about it are original, and her purpose is clear.

i am NOT interested in the latest repetition of every internet meme, i do not care about what darling web promotion you are whoring about this week, and i am not in the least bit fooled when you ask questions (what do YOU think/do/love?) that are not really designed to open a conversation, but to elicit comments or -worse- give an appearance of caring what people think in order to suck in a readership.

many of us have read the same little treatises on increasing blog traffic and multi-level marketing. the difference between all of us here in group a and all of you over there in group b is that while we may read these things and even subscribe to a newsletter or two, it is only to see how you, the other half live and to explain to us why we see you endlessly re-blogging the same nonsense that wasn't all fresh and hot the first time it hit and sometimes i only think you loooooove this week's tripe because you think you're going to make a fraction of a penny on each of your gajillions of click-throughs.

if you are reading this, you probably have a blog of your own somewhere. if you're giving me an authentic slice of life whether you do it for free or whether you make a living at it, i will not only read you over when i see your new post pop up in subscription, but i will actually click over to your site because i like to see your formatting!

if you bother to give me real content, i may even read the comments left by other people and join in a conversation! if you are interesting enough, i will even follow links!

so, lady-who-can't-understand-why-her-readership-has-dropped-off, consider this: you used to write more about regular stuff. you used to write more about your life and your projects, even if it meant you didn't write every day.

then you started writing about things that can be marketed through adsense and about blogging itself and sometimes you just re-blog some other lame thing that somebody else already blogged, and you started posting two and sometimes three times a day, but saying less.

do you see where i'm going?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

still catching up.

well, i'm feeling kind of scattered, so don't expect this to have much in the way of organization.

ok, so i just saw the results from last night's run and i didn't need to see them to know that i am still on my awesome streak: i hold the all-time record in this race series for most consecutive last-place finishes. the hard thing about holding a record like that is that it only means something if you go out there every week and do your best NOT to come in last.

it's about never giving up. it's a badge of honor.

and tonight we'll go out and race the same course, only on bikes.

you know what?

i go a lot faster on wednesdays if i don't run on tuesday. go figure.

but it's an attendance thing. among my family and friends it is well-known that if you wish for me to attend your funeral or your wedding, you will not hold it on a wednesday evening during the summer.

aside from that, i'm still workin' on the old projects and some new ones, clearing my desk bit by bit.

if you'd like to see the photos from my may roadtrip or my memorial day weekend, you can find those here and here. some of them are very pretty.

right now i'm working on a website for an artist friend of mine. it's not yet available for your view, but rest assured that when i get it done, i'll give you links for it so you can go look at her work.

and even though NOW i can tell you about that project i wasn't telling you about before, it's kind of moved to the back burner and will have to wait for a slow day.

i still haven't even begun to assemble the leaf out project, and at this rate it will probably be autumn before i do that. it's all fine and dandy if you decide to take several hundred photos of the exact same scene just to show the change in light and the progress of the leaves, but i think it seems like a cooler project while you're planning it and when you've got it finished, and when you're faced with figuring out how to compile and edit the photos, maybe not so much.

and i'm working on some new music for piano, but i'm too scattered (does it show?) to really develop it thematically which maybe isn't such a disaster since the original concept is kind of a set of miniatures anyway and i have to practice a clarinet sonata i'd hoped to be ready to play soon and i need to rehearse some things for upcoming performances...

...and instead i'm blogging about it.

so i hope you won't mind if i just leave it be without making any deep observations and just get back to work, ok?

Saturday, June 05, 2010

thirteen- may

all right, so bit by bit i'm catching up.

i still haven't told you about that project i wasn't telling you about (soon), and i haven't put together the leaf out project, but at least i have the may thirteen project done.

if you came in late, i take a picture every thirteen hours, no matter what i'm doing, no matter where i am. yes, i do set an alarm, and yes, i do get up in the night to take those pictures.

in answer to karen, yes, that is my music. i'm a composer, and it doesn't make sense to wrestle dubious permissions when i have that resource. if you want your own recordings of my music, you can subscribe to my podcast.

anyway, here's the month of may:

Thursday, June 03, 2010


well, no, i haven't written all week.

it's not that i have nothing to say, but i was away for the weekend and if you REALLY wanted to follow me there you coud have used the handy "find flask on the road" page, which i stopped updating monday when i came home.

right now i'm finishing up the laundry, processing the pictures, and in general catching up.

there are a lot of pictures to process, because while i wasn't paying attention all of may slipped by and i have to clock all those photos and then edit the video, plus i have to put together the photo albums from the trips, and do something with all the leaf out photos and log the geocaches and there's music to practice and music to write and there was a little art project and a thing about unpacking and in general gearing up for race season at which i'm going to suck, but the only way out is through.


more as i have it for you; i'll keep you posted.


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