Jul 28

The big news

I just gave my two-weeks notice at the Sheriff’s Office.

When I come back from the Writer’s of the Future week in San Diego, I’ll be going to work for the Coroner’s Office.

Jul 26

Beer and mud

Actually, mud then beer. Last Sunday Jack and I decided to partake in an exercise in insanity known as the
Great Spillway Classic Trail Run

. This is the second largest trail run in the country, and the largest one that is on an actual trail. (The larger run is just through corn fields in Iowa.)

One of the warning on the race signup site is, “Do not wear new shoes!” This is probably because the race is known to be muddy.

Okay, it’s not just known to be muddy… they revel in the muddiness. They pray for rain, and encourage people to dive into puddles along the way. There’s actually a prize for the muddiest finisher.

Jack and I had no real desire to go for the “muddiest” prize; we were just wanting to run a nice fun interesting race and then drink the free beer and eat the free food at the end. It’s a 3 mile race–a distance we can both do easily. My youngest step-daughter, Ashley, had come along to watch Anna while we raced, and we told her that we’d probably finish at a nice slow sedate pace of 45 minutes, since surely we’d be a lot slower running through a difficult trail. Plus, there were close to 900 racers, which always slows things down as well.

Our lack of experience in trail runs betrayed us. The first mile of the course was nice and easy along the top of the levee. It was a typical race along there with runners nicely spaced out and room for people to run side by side, sometimes even four or five across. Then it went down into the swamp. And it became this insane single file chase. Yes, it was possible to pass people, but it wasn’t easy unless they’d stopped to walk and could step off of the trail. Which meant that Jack and I ended up running a lot faster than we’d really expected, simply to keep up with the pace of everyone else in our section of the race. (We are both very pokey runners, i.e. we typically run an 11 minute mile or so.) There really wasn’t as much mud as we’d been led to believe (which we later discovered was a major disappointment to the race administrators) however, the up and down and around and under and over of the trail was ridiculously tiring, added to the effort of maintaining a decent pace so that you could stay ahead of the runners breathing down your neck. About 2 miles in I remember thinking, “Okay… in theory this is cool.. but in practice this SUCKS!”

But we both finished, and our final time was 36 minutes for a 3 mile run, which meant that we’d really booked it through most of the trail section. And the next day we were both soooooooooooore!

Here’s a pic of us before the race:

before the race

Here’s a typical Anna expression.

Anna is not too pleased that her parents have run off

And here we are finishing up the race:
Me finishing

Jack finishing

Here’s the two of us after we’ve gone through the firehose-shower to clean off the mud:

And here I am recovering with Anna and a nice healthy hot dog.

And yes, even though it was insane and at times it sucked we will still most likely do it again next year. :)

Jul 20

Chad Vader: Dayshift manager

Darth Vader’s less-talented, less-charismatic younger brother is day shift manager of a grocery store.


VERY funny.

Jul 17

Anna goes on safari: the movie!

Anna on Safari

(After viewing this you will see why Jack usually buys an absolute buttload of the animal feed, since Anna tends to simply dump the feed out instead of rationing it out.)

Jul 17

Anna goes on safari

On Saturday we took Anna to Global Wildlife, a free-roaming wildlife preserve. It was seriously stinkin’ hot, but Anna just utterly adores going there, and is fine with the heat as long as we keep pouring water over her. Unfortunately I didn’t really have the option of soaking my shirt in water… okay, I probably did have the option, but I think the others in our safari train would have looked askance at me had I done so.

This place is really terrific for kids because they can get right up to the animals and feed them. The zoo has far more variety of wildlife, but except for the petting zoo, there’s not much interaction. Jack has taken her out there several times before, but this was my first time.

Anna and the reindeer

Anna feeds a camel

Anna and Daddy

Unfortunately, we went rather late in the day (but not late enough for it to be cooler) and so the animals were kinda already stuffed full of food from previous tours. We never could get the giraffes to come over to the train, though Jack tried valiantly.

Jack tries to use his hair to call the giraffe over

But, even when I was doing some serious wilting in the heat, Anna was still having a blast.

Anna and Mommy

The last segment of the safari is the cows and buffalo (actually they’re bison and not buffalo, but everyone calls them buffalo, including Anna, and if you ask Anna what she saw at Global Wildlife she will screech, “BUFFFFAAAAALLLOOOOOOOOOO!”) The cows all have incredibly long slimy tongues, and I tried to get Anna to touch one of the tongues, but she wanted no part of that.

Anna is far stronger than I am when it comes to avoiding the cow tongue

These cows have serious tongue-action!

Jul 15

Because, after all, I’ve always wanted to see up a mosquito’s posterior

Well, not always, but many months ago when one of my supervisors was telling us about the SEM (scanning electron microscope) that the lab was purchasing, he mentioned that it was strong enough to “see up a mosquito’s posterior.” (Not the word he used, but I’m trying to make this blog family-friendly!)

Therefore, when the time came for me to attend the training for using said way-cool electron microscope, I, of course, asked if we could look up a mosquito’s ass. To the instructor’s great credit, he didn’t bat an eyelash at the request.

So, once we finished up the basics of how to operate the scope [note: the basics take a few hours to learn. Actually getting proficient and good at operating the scope probably takes about a year of steady use.] we went scavenging for bugs. A windowsill yielded the following specimens up:

This is the eye of a small fly:

This is a closer eye of the same fly:

Then we moved on to a mosquito carcass. After we looked at it under the scope we realized that it was pretty dessicated (hence the sunken-in eyes) and kinda dirty.

This is a picture of the end of its proboscis, i.e. the part that sticks you. (All of the debris that you see is dust that it collected while being a corpse on the windowsill.)

And, finally, this is a view up a mosquito’s posterior: (Again, a ton of dirt and debris that was not noticeable until looked at under 1320 times magnification.)

Jul 10

Protected: Breaking a personal rule for a moment…

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Jul 7

I can’t do squat

I had grand intentions of going running yesterday morning, and even set my alarm clock for my usual 4:50am (which is how early I have to get up on the days I run in order to have enough time to run and then get ready for work and actually get there on time.) However, I missed the crucial step of turning the alarm ON and thus slept in until the positively decadent hour of 5:30 am. However, I think this was a sign that some Greater Being was looking out for me, because the workout last night turned somewhat brutal near the end, almost as if our kind and gentle coach was perhaps making up for the missed workout this week. Lots and lots of back exercises, then “light and fast” deadlifts–of which mine were neither light nor fast. Then we were going to go outside and do sled pulls, but it had been raining, and sled pulls (or truck pushes) are almost impossible on wet surface because you just can’t get any footing. So, instead we went into the aerobics room and did these horrific things called squat jumps across the room and back. Several times. We finally got chased out of the room by a karate class, so we went back over to the squat rack area and did in-place squat jumps, first with no weight, then with the 45lb bar on our backs–3 sets of 20. I think that’s the closest I’ve ever come to the Puke Point since I started training with Jesse. Ugh.

But I can’t argue with the results. I’m still steadily dropping pounds, and have finally broken through that darn 160 barrier that had been giving me fits for so long. Probably helps that I got good about my eating and overall diet again. And I’m running longer distances as well (4.7 miles on Tuesday!), and adding a few sets of intervals on the evenings that Jack puts Anna to bed. I have just a little over five weeks until San Diego! I’m also determined to get down below 148 by the next time I compete (end of September) so that I can be in a lower weight class.

I also discovered a way-cool website that helps you determine the mileage of a running course. You just drag your cursor over your course on the map and it tells you how far it is. Way easier than driving it, and it’s really convenient for planning out your running ahead of time.