ninevirtues: (Default)
For Mother's Day, since hey, I now live in the same state as Mom, I arranged with Stepdad to visit her as a surprise. It's a long drive (six hours), so I sneakily arranged with him to arrive on Saturday night, spend the night, go out for breakfast Sunday morning, raid the storage locker, and drive home. Mom had, Stepdad assured me, no clue I was coming. He made reservations for brunch and warned the front gate of the complex I was coming.

I will now tell stories on Stepdad, who is a man of great accomplishment. He can command troops, run bureacracies, fly airplanes, deliver important speeches in a foreign language fluently, and face down cameras and reporters. (Get the picture? I listen to Stepdad. Someday I might learn something.)

Also, it's a sure bet that Mom will read this to him aloud, chortling occasionally.

In any case, I left Sunnyvale at 2:30 PM and rolled up to the complex front gate at 8:45, approximately as scheduled. The gate guard looked at me suspiciously when I said, "Don't tell them I'm coming-- it's a surprise!"

Uh oh. I tried again: "I'm ______, ________'s daughter. My stepdad knows I'm coming; he should have called you to warn you. It's a surprise for Mom."

That was better. "Oh! I LOVE your Mom! She's such a sweet lady."

Within minutes I had a parking pass and a map. Five minutes after that, I pulled in the driveway and there was Stepdad, lurking outside with a flashlight. (Timing!) "Hello! Come on in. Your Mom has not a clue that you are coming," he said.

Walk in the door and... "Hi Mom, Surprise! Happy Mother's Day!" Result: She looks... pleased to see me, but not stunned. In fact, Mom gives me a So-That's-What-Was-Up look. Huh?

Apparently Stepdad-of-great-ability had uncharacteristically decided to mow the lawn at 8:30 PM on Saturday night, making her wonder what he was up to. After doing so, he'd called the front gate, gleaning in whispers the information that I'd just been through there. (He was quiet, but apparently, sound travels well in their house.) After that, Mom knew something was up, but just didn't know.... what.

So... note to self... if you need an organization led, ask Stepdad. If you need to arrange a family surprise, though, bet on Mom.
ninevirtues: (Default)
Okay, have you ever had an experience that leaves you thinking, "This is just not funny, but maybe it will be funny LATER"?

I have, and it took several decades for it to be funny, and Mom will recognize the incident instantly, so here we go:

When we first had horses, my own horse (a somewhat skittish sweetheart) turned up lame or was otherwise not able to go to the annual 4-H county fair (the show you work toward all year in 4-H) with me. So I took my sister's horse... a much craftier and more hedonistic beast.

The first class of the weekend was showmanship: Lead the horse into the ring (walking beside the horse), line up, and one-by-one walk the horse out to the other end of the ring, square her up so she stands evenly on all four feet, quarter turn, square up, quarter turn, square up, jog back, turn around, square up. (The judge wants to know how well you show off your horse, basically.)

So it was my turn, and I led my sister's horse out, squared her up; quarter turn; squared her up; and she looked carefully at the nice freshly manicured dirt under her feet and.... decided it was a really good time to drop to her knees and roll in the dirt, then and there, in front of God, the entire 4-H community, the judges, and everyone I knew.

She made it halfway down, before I managed to tug her up, square her up again, and jog back into line with my previously show-quality-clean, now freshly be-dirtified beast. Naturally, I was mortified. Okay, and it's funny NOW, but it was traumatic enough that it took this long to get that way.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Better now

Feb. 2nd, 2008 12:56 pm
ninevirtues: (Default)
Last week's bottom line: Right now, I feel like I'm in front of my life, which is looking a lot like a giant temple-o-doom ball trying to mow me down. Okay, maybe it's not deliberately trying for me; I'm just in the way. (Splat!)

No, no. Clearly I would be much happier if I were behind the ball, guiding it where I want it to go. Making my workouts on time, budgeting carefully, and eating right? All part of the drive-the-doom-ball strategy.

Oh yeah, and I currently owe the republican party $15. Also, the price-per-infraction went up to $25 once my checking account was full enough that $5 was not an impediment. ;-)


ninevirtues: (Default)
I gave the final eulogy for my dad at his memorial service. I wasn't officially scheduled to speak, but they opened the floor for anyone who wanted to. I had hastily prepared remarks, and this is more-or-less what I said. I was happy with it. I guess grad school drilled into me the ability to speak in public.

"You all knew my dad as a short and sweet, no bull kinda guy. In his honor, I'll keep my remarks today short, and sweet. Although written," (holding up sketchy notes).

"Dad was a man's man, an outdoorsman, and he did so many things well. As a young man, he hustled pool, drove a stock truck, and worked as a cowboy. He used a soldering iron to make our Heathkit television, that we used for years."

That brought a ripple of laughter. I'm not especially sure why that was funny, but so be it.

"He could use a shotgun, and he kept us all fed with it. If you are what you eat, I am still-- to this day-- partly venison, duck, rabbit, and quail."

Another ripple of laughter. Dad was well known as a hunter.

"And dove," added my sister.
"And dove," I assented, then continued. "My dad grew fruit on his carefully tended fruit trees, and grew a garden every year. In fact, I think I'm still at least three percent turnip."

More laughter.

"But it was as a pilot and commander that Dad was best known. He flew in Korea; he flew in VietNam; he flew cargo planes all over the world; he flew for American; and he flew for the Civil Air Patrol. As he was best known, so let him be remembered-- as a pilot and soldier who served his country faithfully.

In closing, I'm going to tell you the origin of a phrase Dad used a lot. How many of you heard him say, "No charge"? (Aside: this was a phrase he really did use a lot, with a flourish, where the rest of us would say "you're welcome".)

Assent from the crowd.

"How many of you knew where it came from?"

Less assent.

Well, I'll tell you. Dad was flying over the Pacific, and he needed coordinates to... I don't know, London. (Aside: whoops... I definitely got that wrong.) He needed the coordinates and couldn't get them from the tower. He tried to raise the tower a few times, with no success, when an Aussie pilot came over the radio and relayed them for him.

"Thanks," said Dad.
"No charge, mate!" said the Aussie.
And that was that-- he used it ever since.
ninevirtues: (Default)
Okay, I have a stupid question.

We did the rockport walk test, which predicts your VO2 max. (Walk for one mile as fast as you can. Time how long it takes you. Get your heart rate immediately after you stop.)

Plug your numbers into the formula and obtain your VO2 max from that. Note that, for high-level athletes, the test is not difficult enough to predict VO2 max accurately.

The study buddy (a former semipro surfer, current core strength and balance enthusiast, sum total of aerobic activity-- riding bike 10min to class and 10min home and walking dog): Does the walk in 12 minutes. Comes out with a VO2 max between "excellent" and "olympic athlete".

Me (ride bike 60-90 minutes/day on weekdays, up to 4hrs/day on weekends, known to ride bike across Iowa for entertainment): Me, I score "high" which is below "excellent". That's actually an improvement; when I was in full-on serious triathlete mode, I scored "good".

The categories are: poor...fair....good....high...excellent...olympic athlete.

What? Why the heck is that???

As fallout.... Last year, I gave my study buddy my old red steel mountain bike. He rides it around. I am trying to interest him in MTB racing at Tsali in April. If my suspicions are correct, he'll show up on his old heavy steel bike, in sneakers and a T-shirt and toe clips, with minimal training and promptly dust everyone else in the beginner guy category.


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April 2016



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