Thanksgiving '07

Every Thanksgiving, I drive 20 miles up to San Francisco for an early dinner with my friends, Kathryn and Maurice, and their extended family, and then drive 60 miles down to my cousin's house in Los Gatos for a later dinner with my own family. Every year, I get lost on the way to my cousin's.

This year, I got to my friends' house in the afternoon, relaxed with a glass of champagne and made it a point to restrain myself from porking out when dinner was served. I brought a camera this year, which I normally don't do, but I'm not very good with it, particularly after drinking and I'm a lightweight. Soo... most of the snaps are unusable, and the best one of the bunch was me turning the camera around to capture myself and Maurice.

I currently have a housemate with whom I have a pretty good rapport, so I invited him to my cousin's. On the way down to Los Gatos, I stopped at home and picked him up. He was baking chocolate chip pecan cookies... yum! He packed his cookies while I downloaded a map of the area around my cousin's and then Steve took the wheel while I studied my maps.

As we got onto 101 I told him to look for 85 South. Except when 85 came up, we were yapping about something and missed it! So we took the next exit and looped back... except there is no 85 exit coming the other way. We wandered around Mountain View (I think) for awhile before stopping to ask for directions, found 85 and made the transition to 17 just fine.

As we sped down 17, Steve said "isn't that our exit?" and I said "uh, I don't think so," but of course it was. Another turnaround at the next exit and as we came off the proper exit, Steve was driving down the street and I said "ummm, I think I came this way last year - we need to go the other way!" By this time, he's not believing anything I say and stops to look at the map because we're close enough it shows the streets we're on, and is surprised to discover that I was actually right that time!

We walked in the door just as everyone was finishing dinner, right about the same time I'd walked in the year before. But I was there, it was warm and nothing more could go wrong! One of my cousins just had a baby this year and as I reached into my purse to grab my camera... I realized I'd forgotten my camera up at Kathryn and Maurice's!


Yes, I admit it...

... I read, and enjoyed, the "Little House" books when I was a kid. I read them all... two or three times!

I still remember how Jack, the brindle bulldog (must have been a Staffordshire/Pit Bull, because that's how he looked in her drawing), faithfully followed their wagon across the states and swift rivers to a whole new world, and I remember crying when I thought he was lost in the current of one of those streams... and crying again when he turned himself in his three little circles on his pillow for the last time.

I remember her enjoyment of the maple sugar candies she received on Christmas, and how white sugar was such a luxury. Funny how times change -- white sugar is relatively cheap now.

And I remember her perspectives on others, the family she stayed with as a young teacher that was so unlike her own -- frequent arguments and a much less rosy outlook, Nellie Olsen, the "scary" natives wearing skunk skins and how her mother thought the only good indian was a dead indian, but her father thought they just needed better lines of communication. Funny how things don't change. There are still people who don't trust those who are different than themselves and those who feel that ignorance leads to hate. Then there are those who foster that hate for their own gain... I don't remember Laura mentioning them in her books, but they must have existed, even back then.


Another Dog Story

I was in the kitchen making tea when Piglet ran in to see what I was doing. She weighs over 50 pounds (23 kg) now, but at 10 1/2 months of age, she's still technically a puppy. So Piglet sees me near the food and gets excited, because she thinks I'm going to give her a doggie treat. I bend down to greet her just as she begins to rear back to jump on me and pow-pow! I get a paw in each eye! Three nights earlier, she'd been crawling up onto Steve's bed to lie down next to him and punched him in the eye! I'm looking forward to the post-puppyhood calm... at least I hope there's a post-puppyhood calm!


Old School

This is me, c. 1987. I ran a race in Osaka, and the woman with me is Irina Kazakova, who was on the Leningrad Institute team. Irina and I kept in contact after this race until sometime in the early 1990's. She is a marathoner, who has since moved to France. She has her own marathon training site, http://www.runirina.com/. Wow, she looks good. Since I last saw her, she's won Lausanne, Vegas, Vienna and Cross of Mt Blanc, among other big races. I'm a schlub. I stopped running, gained weight and work in an office under flourescent lights all day.


Post Election Blues

The local election has closed, and everyone I hated won. Now I kind of wish I'd been more vocal about who I disliked before the election. Too late now, but I'm going to rant anyway...

I was bombarded with junk mail by the two City Counil incumbents up for re-election. Almost every day for two weeks, I received something from one or the other. A couple of times, I received joint mail from them! I was annoyed. I only got one message from the candidate I did support when she sent a single email message to people she knew (we're in the same neighborhood association). Plus, these two supported a lot of ugly, low-quality developments, most of which are within walking distance of my house. I live in the low-rent neighborhood -- they live up the hill, away from the eyesores they supported and proudly printed on their campaign junk mail. They're the kind of guys who encourage high densities in my neighborhood (but not theirs), to the point where the developments don't provide enough parking for the units built, and tell us the residents should use public transportation or ride bikes. But they don't support increased bus or train service (and forget extending BART down to the Peninsula), or planning for bike lanes to make it easier for people to use those options. I guess their mailings were effective, because I'm doomed to 3 more years of them.

Then there's the finance wiz who is now on the school board. His whole deal was that the district needs to tighten up. Yes, the district has had problems with financial mismanagement, but he has no educational experience. How can someone who knows nothing about education lead an educational body?

This has nothing to do with the election, but I'm ranting, so I figured I'd continue. My 77 year old father took his bicycle out for a ride last summer for the first time in years. He lives up on the hill in the good neighborhood and it's relatively quiet. However, San Mateo streets don't have much in the way of bike lanes, and since it's, for the most part, a quiet suburb, we don't have a lot of traffic patrols, particularly in the nicer residential areas. So of course, people drive fast. Cars were whizzing by my father, who was a little unsteady on his bike, and he got so scared of being hit, he turned around after a few blocks, headed straight home, and hasn't ridden his bike since then.

A few weeks after the bike incident, I received a brochure from Park & Rec. The subject? How San Mateo is a bicycle friendly city! There was a map of the few bike lanes and routes within the city limits. I know those streets, and most of the bike lanes are barely wide enough to be legal. And one of the bike routes is on a narrow, windy road, on which cars tend to speed. Only bike geeks could navigate with confidence on most of the roads shown on the map. I'm of the opinion it should only be called bike friendly if my 77 year old father (or my neighbor's 8 year old daughter) would feel comfortable biking on it.


I've Been Out

Four weeks ago, I received a request to do a "body alignment" lecture for a group of Japanese sports medicine students on November 3rd. I agreed, although not without some misgivings. First, I hate the topic. My specialty is biomechanics, and within that, kinematic and kinetic analysis. However, "core" strength is over-emphasized by all the fitness "experts" trying to capitalize on the core bandwagon. Second, I only had three and a half weeks to prep the lecture.

I sort of did the same lecture last year for the same group (different students), although I discussed mechanics specific to the overhand throw, common injuries and their prevention, and age-related progressions. But the coordinators really wanted the spinal alignment stuff, and besides, they gave the biomechanics lecture to a chiropractor. They should have given her the spinal alignment slot, because it would have made more sense for a chiropractor to do that and have a biomechanics person do the biomechanics stuff, but it was too late.

I spent all the spare time I had between my two jobs for the last 3 weeks modifying the lecture to fit in the alignment material without having to start from scratch. During this time, I didn't clean my house, do laundry, see friends, or reconcile my credit card receipts (if you wanted to steal my identity, last month would have been the perfect time). Last week, I slept a total of 22 hours in the 5 days leading up to the lecture.

My lecture was the first of the morning, 8am on Saturday. The coordinators arranged for a laptop and projector, and all I needed was a thumb drive or cd with my presentation... except on Friday night none of the thumb drives I had were working (I'm hard on my equipment) and my cd drive died! At 2am, my housemate wandered into my office to find me cursing and crying. He told me my notebook would work just fine with the projector and to go to bed.

4 hours later, my alarm went off. An hour after that, I woke up. I had 20 minutes to leave. I left in 30. I arrived on campus at 7:55, ran up to the building and into the scheduled room... and saw a group of shocked, non-Japanese people gaping at me! I excused myself and went back out into the hall. I just got a new phone and haven't had time to transfer numbers, and of course the coordinator's number was on my old phone. So I wandered up and down the hall until a woman asked me if I was Tracey. She was my translator, she couldn't find the room either, and her cell phone battery was dead! So we wandered around until the coordinator came -- the person responsible for booking that room accidentally overbooked it and we had to find an unused room! On the bright side, I found out I had more time than I thought, because it was an 8:30 start.

It wasn't the best lecture I've given, but it wasn't the worst, either. And, I also have to say the students were much more interested in the throwing and baseball portion than the core conditioning segment! All of their questions and comments had to do with shoulder injuries, and age-related issues in throwing (specifically baseball pitchers). At this point though, I'm just glad I have time to sleep now!