Thursday, August 31, 2006

300

This is post 300 to my blog. I can’t believe it. In less than a year, I have had that much to say? Wow. Well, to celebrate the milestone – and we all know how much I love to celebrate anything – I am going to provide links to a bunch of other things that are related to the number 300. Click around and have some fun!
  • The upcoming Warner Bros film 300, which is a ferocious retelling of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae in which King Leonidas and 300 Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes and his massive Persian army.
  • The Chrysler 300, which is a little fancy for my taste but still a sweet ride.
  • A German man has been dubbed Super Papa by the press after authorities discovered he had adopted 300 children worldwide, in an attempt to collect public funds. Dumbass.
  • 300 Mounted Men is a website honoring the Mounted Policemen of Calgary’s Cemeteries.
  • The name Old 300 is sometimes used to refer to the settlers who received land grants in Stephen F. Austin's first colony in Texas.
  • The 300.org is a select group of visionaries who are standing shoulder to shoulder as the first vanguard in the real war on aging. (Or so says their website and advertising materials.)
  • 300 Big Boys, a great episode of Futurama.
  • 300 Army troops returned to Iraq, in yet another action guaranteed to disrupt lives and screw with our military men and women.

Anything cool that I missed? Post a comment. And thank you, everyone, for reading the blog. And to answer my Mom’s question earlier, yes, I do plan to continue writing after I turn 40.

And finally, irony

We all remember President Bush's incorrect use of the word irony. Well, it seems that he has managed to finally define the word, if only by action.

Monday is Labor Day. For those who do not know the details, I give you this:

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
US Dept of Labor website


And to celebrate the occasion, our President has decided, with a recess appointment, to put a corporate lawyer in charge of protecting workers' rights. And not just any corporate lawyer. He has chosen Paul DeCamp, known mostly for his efforts against union workers.

To better illustrate this, let me use this analogy. Our President has decided to celebrate Hen House Day by appointing Mr. Fox to the position of Hen House Security Chief.

That, my friends, is irony.

I read about this at Think Progress. You can get to the original story at this link. And for more details, check out this link.

Movie Review – The Illusionist



'The Illusionist' stars Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti as two men pitted against each other in a battle of wits: Norton as mysterious stage magician Eisenheim, and Giamatti as Vienna's shrewd Chief Inspector Uhl, with Jessica Biel sharing the screen as the beautiful Sophie von Teschen. When word of Eisenheim's astounding illusions reaches the powerful and pragmatic Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell), the ruler attends one of the magician's shows in order to debunk Eisenheim during the performance. But when the Prince's intended, Sophie von Teschen, assists the magician onstage, Eisenheim and Sophie recognize each other from their childhoods and a dormant love affair is rekindled. As the clandestine romance continues, Uhl is charged by Leopold to intensify his efforts to expose Eisenheim, even while the magician gains a devoted and vocal public following. With Uhl doggedly searching for the reasons and the man behind the trickery, Eisenheim prepares to execute his greatest illusion yet.



Click here for the official movie site.

Click here to read a more detailed review from Roger Ebert.

And my own opinion? See this movie. It was a true rarity in the heat of summer – a smart, thoughtful, intelligent movie made for adults. The film is one of those that I will buy on DVD and watch when I want to lose myself in another world. And visually, Prague substitutes nicely for 1900’s Vienna. A fantastic cast, a well-paced script, and just enough special effects to entertain without compromising the simple story.

Date Night – Bikes, Ruby’s and a Movie

Last night was Date Night, so Ric and I were both anxious to get out of work. Fortunately, the whole server network decided to crash at 3:50pm, so that was our cue to leave the office. We went home, changed clothes, and were back out the door in less than 15 minutes. Our first stop was Adams Avenue, where we went to a couple of bike shops to check out road bikes. Ric is determined to get me a nice, new bike so I can start training for the AIDS Life/Cycle, so who am I to say no? My choices now are down to three:

$1000 Trek Greg Lemond from Trek


$1300 Specialized Allez from Adams Ave Cycle Shop


$1500 Giant OCR from Cal Coast Bicycles.


It’s a lot to pay for a bike, I know, but Ric doesn’t want me to get something cheap and end up hating every mile that I ride. Personally, I don’t know that I will appreciate the difference in the bikes, but everyone I talk to disagrees. The general advice I am getting is “buy the best bike you can afford, because the road is not the place to beat yourself up for saving a few bucks.”

After checking out the bikes, we were ready for dinner. We ate at Ruby’s, which is a retro 50’s place at the mall that offers pretty good burgers. Unlike Corvette Diner, which plays the 50’s card but adds bitchy waitresses, Ruby’s is a fun place with wait staff that actually smile. I like that. And since I have been so consistent with working out and eating healthy, I let myself indulge a bit with a bacon cheeseburger. Yum. I was strong enough to resist the chocolate shakes, but just barely.

After dinner, we wandered the mall a bit. It’s nice to have that time to ourselves, cell phones left in the car, and actually have time to talk. It’s amazing the number of things that we mean to say to each other throughout the week that somehow get missed or forgotten. I know I say this every week, but I am so happy to have date night. It’s the highlight of my week.

Before we knew it, it was time for the movie. We made a quick stop at the snack counter, to splurge a bit more. But what would a movie-going experience be without popcorn and licorice? At least we washed it all down with Diet Coke. Does that help?

After the movie, we stopped at 7-11 for a little ice cream. I am proud to say that I ate barely a quarter of the pint, which is quite an accomplishment. It used to be, I would devour the whole pint in a single sitting.

All and all, another fantastic date with my husband.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Command Performance

When I started writing this blog last October, I really meant for it to be a record for myself. I have tried all kinds of ways to keep a journal, but I always lose interest after a few weeks. A blog was my last attempt. What I found right away was how easy it is to maintain. The other thing I fell in love with is the ability to post photos and hyperlinks. The blog is a journal, diary, and scrapbook all in one. In other words, it is the perfect medium for me!

Soon after I started writing, I began to share specific entries with people. Maybe I posted pictures from an event and wanted to share them with the other people in the photos. Sometimes, a friend and I were discussing a particular item that I had already blogged about, and I forwarded them the link. For whatever reason, people began to read my blog. I’m flattered. I love that people take time out of their days to keep up with my life.

But with an audience comes obligation. My Mother tells me that the first thing she does every morning when she logs on to her computer is check my blog. (Actually, she says she checks my “bloggle,” but I have learned there is no correcting my Mom when she has a word stuck in her mind.) My friend in Atlanta, Andrea, leaves me voice mail that says, “I’m tired of reading old stuff. Update your blog!” And today, my co-worker Esther sent an instant message to Ric, telling him to make sure I posted something new to my blog, as she needed something fun to read at the front desk.

So it seems that I have a fan club…. of three people. That’s good enough for me. To them, and anyone else who is reading this, I promise to stay timely with my blog postings. I don’t have enough of an audience to alienate even one of you, so I will keep writing to make you happy.

Now, back to work, all of you…

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

John's ALC 5k

Let the shameless self-promotion begin. I have a lot of money to raise for my bike ride next June, so I am starting right away. Below is the information for my first fund-raiser... a 5k through Balboa Park. The gimmick? The more people donate, the less they have to do. And for only $25, they can skip the whole thing and sleep in. Clever, huh? (And for those who have already donated, thank you!)
_________________________________________________



John Hulsey, Rider #4548, will be riding the AIDS Life/Cycle in June 2007. He will ride his bicycle 585 miles in 7 days from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

John needs to raise $2,500 for the ride. You can help by joining him on his own fundraiser, John’s ALC 5k. All registered participants will receive a commemorative t-shirt and a complimentary gift bag!

Event information:
Saturday, Sept. 23rd, 2006, 8:00am
Balboa Park – 6th & Laurel
San Diego, CA

Suggested Donations:
$15.00 – Running
$18.00 – Walking
$21.00 – Biking
$23.00 – Watching
$25.00 – Sleeping in

Make checks out to: AIDS Life/Cycle and indicate Rider #4548 on the check


Contact information:
sandiegojohn@gmail.com
(619) 520-8351 cell
http://www.aidslifecycle.org/4548

Monday, August 28, 2006

Working Through Hard Days

This is from the Daily OM, and I thought it was worth passing on.

We all have days that seem endlessly difficult and hard. On these days, it is as if the odds are stacked against us and we just can't get a break as one challenging situation follows another. We may feel like we're standing in the ocean getting hit by wave after wave, never able to get a full breath. Sometimes it's necessary or worth it to stay in the fray and work our way through. Other times, the best idea is to go home and take the breath we need in order to carry on.

If the only choice is to get through it, a hard day can be a great teacher. It will eventually end and we can look back on it, taking pride in the stamina, courage, and ingenuity it took to hold our ground. We may also look back and see how we could have done things differently. This knowledge will be valuable when we face hard days in the future. Trust your gut as you're deciding whether to work through it, and know that sometimes a timely retreat is the best way to ensure a positive outcome. Getting space can remind us that external circumstances are not the whole picture. Once we catch our breath and re-center ourselves, we will be able to determine our next move. With a little perspective, we may even find the inner resources to change our attitude about what's happening. We may begin to see that what we saw as hardships are actually opportunities. As our attitude changes for the better, our actions and the circumstances will follow suit.

Sometimes all that's needed is a good night's sleep. No one is immune to having a hard day and these are usually the times we can learn the most. If we can find it in our hearts to examine the day, and maybe make one small change in perception, we can ease our pain and greet the next day that much wiser.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

La Jolla to Pacific Beach Run

This morning, AJ and I ventured out early to take part in Dougie’s 7th End of Summer Four Mile Run/Walk. The race was a benefit for the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism. It was a quick run, incredibly flat, from La Jolla down to Pacific Beach.

Here we are before the race...


I set two goals for myself. My realistic goal was to run 11-12 minutes miles. My stretch goal was to maintain 10 minute miles. I am proud to say I exceeded even my stretch goal. I finished with a time of 36:47, which means an average pace of 9:12. Yay for me!

It was great to run with AJ, too. Normally, I run these things by myself. It really is better with someone else. And he runs faster than I do, too, so he helped me keep my pace up. Thanks, buddy!

And, I also managed to knock off another of my 40 at Forty items. I wanted to finish a 5k in less than 30 minutes, and I did that today. My 3k time was 29:14. So, I need to remove that from my list and replace it with a different challenge!

And here we are after the race, with delicious refreshments!


And, a side note. My running buddy, Sandy, pictured above on the right, was introducing me and AJ to her friends. She started to introduce the man in the middle of the picture, and he cut her off, saying, "I know John. I was at his wedding." I didn't remember him at first, until he mentioned my friend, Julie. Of course. He came to the wedding as her guest. It was nice to see him again, but more than that, it was great to be in such a different environment and have someone recognize me from my wedding. Very cool, I think.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Today's results and photo

So I'm doing the right things - eating healthier, working out - and I am hoping to see results. I said I was not going to weigh myself this week, but I lied. I have weighed myself everyday, and I am not seeing the numbers go down like I hoped. Argh.

But, I refuse to get too mad about the scale. As long as my clothes keep fitting looser and looser, and I feel stronger and stronger at the gym, the scale doesn't matter.

And I took this picture of myself at the gym this morning. It isn't the best photo, and I took it with my cell phone, but I was happy with it. I think it makes me look fit. Not too bad for a picture taken at 5:45am, eh?

A Perfect Week.

Earlier I wrote about my hope for a focused week. Forget that. Somewhere along the way I changed from “focused” to “perfect” as my goal. And so far, so good. But what does perfect mean to me? For physical activity, it looks something like this:

Monday
AM - 20 minutes of cardio (running), weight lifting (19,875 total lbs), 20 minutes of cardio (cycling)
PM - 60 minutes of cardio (cycling)

Tuesday
AM - 60 minutes of cardio (running)
PM - 60 minutes of cardio (cycling)

Wednesday
AM - 10 minutes of cardio (running), weight lifting (20,550 total lbs)
PM - No workout. Date night.

Thursday
AM - 70 minutes of cardio (cross training – running, climbing, cycling, running)
PM - 60 minutes of cardio (cycling)

Friday
AM - 10 minutes of cardio (running), weight lifting (21,113 total lbs), 8 minutes of cardio (running)
PM - 60 minutes of cardio (cycling)

And for eating, it means no crap. And I have been great this week. I have been eating Hammer Gel before the morning workout, then a protein drink and/or protein bar once I get to the office and again for lunch. Then I have a good dinner – pork stir fry, lean carne asada, grilled chicken breast – with vegetables and lots of water.

This week, I have managed to avoid a lot of temptation. Sleeping in every morning was tempting, as was going home right after work and lounging on the couch. I also said no to candy dishes on every desk at the office, a delicious looking chocolate and banana cream pie at a birthday celebration, cheese turnovers that Ric made for himself (“It’s not my fault,” he says, “I’m hungry.”) even though he knows how much I love them, and stacks of yummy cookies that Grant made. But I have not given in. I may not be able to keep this sort of regimen up for long, but I can definitely get through the rest of this week.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Superdubya

Mad about George Bush and his "screw the Constitution" antics? Trying to express to everyone how frustrated and angry you are, but find that all of your explanations are too cerebral and complicated for your Red State Brethren to understand?

Here is the solution you have been waiting for. It's loud, offensive, and full of explicit lyrics. But if you are as outraged as I am, then you need to watch this video.

Date Night – San Diego Local Style

Last night was again Date Night, my favorite night of the week. Ric and I made it a point to get out of work on time, and we made a beeline for the one and only San Diego Chicken Pie Shop. The place is described as a cross between hospital food and your Mom’s kitchen, the Pie Shop is as much a walk down memory lane as it is a place to eat. A native of San Diego, Ric has so many memories of having lunch or dinner there with his family. It’s good, cheap food served by friendly, no-frills waitresses. That’s good enough for me.

After dinner, we headed home to change from work clothes into shorts and t-shirts. Then it was back to Balboa Park for a concert by the Marine Band San Diego. We thought we were going to be early, but we were surprised to see such a large number of people there for the show. We ended up parking in the far southeast lot and walking quickly to the Organ Pavilion just to make it to the show on time. First thing we noticed was that the average age of the attendees was somewhere near 60 years old. Not surprising, since we have so many military retirees here in town.

The band played a bit of everything, from marches to blues to the theme from Superman. They finished with the melody of Armed Forces themes, of course, and the crowd loved them. I thought they were incredible. (Of course, the fact that I have zero ability to play any musical instrument means I have huge respect for anyone that can.)

Another beautiful night, another great date with my husband. Did I mention how much I love having this time to ourselves? Creating Date Night is definitely one of the best things we have done for ourselves in a long, long time.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Run, run, run!

Today I set a new "John at the gym on the treadmill" record. I ran 6.25 miles in 60 minutes. That may not be a big milestone to anyone else, but who cares? They can write their own blogs. For me, a 10k in less than an hour IS a big deal. And I felt pretty good at the end of the run, so I know I still have more "oomph" to use. Yay for me!



So far, the perfect week is still working. I went to the gym twice yesterday, once today (and heading there again after work), and I have been carefully watching what I eat. I know I can do this - one perfect week - and posting updates here on the blog means I have other people watching and encouraging me, too. What can I say? Peer pressure really works!

Monday, August 21, 2006

A focused week

I have not been diligent this past week. Actually, that is too nice a way to put it. I have been pretty lazy over the last week. I did not work out Thursday, Friday, Saturday nor Sunday. Four days off is a pretty long time to not be at the gym. I did go diving Saturday, but that’s it. And I have been eating way too much junk food…. fried everything! I need to get my act together.

Today is Monday, and this is going to be a great week for me. I had a good workout this morning – ran 1 mile, lifted weights, ran another 1 mile, and cycled for 20 minutes. I will be back at the gym this afternoon for a second workout, all cardio this time. My eating is also back on track. I brought chicken and green beans from home and had that for lunch. And Ric and I stopped at Nutrimart across the street and stocked up on the healthy power bars and breakfast drinks.

So, I will be focused this week. I will not eat crappy food and I will not skip the gym. I will eat healthy and workout every day, and I know that I will feel back in control.

How I felt after four days away from the gym:


How I will feel by Saturday:


(P.S. I do not expect unrealistic body changes in one week. This is more about my mental image of myself, and how I felt last night after eating poorly and not working out.)

Friday, August 18, 2006

3rd Battalion, 5th Marines Memorial Ceremony

I am back from the Memorial Ceremony for the Dark Horse Marines, and I don't really know how to explain how I feel. Obviously, the mind, heart and soul are unbelievably complex things. How else could a person feel overwhelming pride, a broken heart, and hope for the future... all at the same time?

First, the logistics of the ceremony. We gathered at the base theater, one of the only facilities large enough to accomodate the standing-room only audience. Family members were seated front and center, and the unit Marines, their friends and loved ones filled the remaining rows. On stage, there was a low wall with a framed picture of each of the fallen Marines.

The Colors were marched in, followed by the Invocation from the Chaplain. Then, as the Marine Hymn played, three squads of Marines marched in. In order, they presented a rifle, helmet and dog tags, and boots at each of the photographs. The Battalion Commander spoke, followed by each of the Company Commanders.

Throughout the service, my attention was drawn to these displays. The image of their rifles, helmets and boots is riveting. It is simple yet powerful, a statement of all that the Marine was in his finest moments. Yes, each Marine was an individual, with a life and hopes and dreams. But in this moment, he is honored for his accomplishment - being a United States Marine.

Amazing Grace was played by a Marine Bagpiper, followed by the Final Roll Call. The Sgt Major calls out the names of three or four Marines, who each answer "Here." He then begins to call the fallen. ""Corporal Smith?" Silence. ""Corporal Ross Smith?" "Corporal Ross A. Smith?" The last time his name is called, the sound of a bell rings out. The Marine is accounted for, present at the Final Roll Call. Finally, the service closes with Taps.

I struggled to maintain my military bearing during the service, but I was hardly a stone. The tears flowed during Final Roll Call, as the Sgt Major's voice echoed throughout the hall. He called out for them, but they were not to answer. And each name, repeated, was a reminder of another life lost.

I was not alone in my grief. Ric was by my side, struggling as well to hold himself together. All around us, Marines sat at a position of attention, seemingly oblivious to the tears that streamed down their own faces.

I sit here now proud of each of the Marines from Dark Horse 3/5. They continue to serve with honor and courage. I am also proud to be part of the 200+ year legagy that is the United States Marine Corps.

I am heartbroken by the loss, though, of these Marines and all the other service men and women fallen in combat. They truly gave all, and I grieve for them, their families and friends.

Finally, I am full of hope for the future. That may seem odd, after the events of this morning. But it was the sight of a hall full of Marines that reminds me how good we all are. Regardless of politics or religion or other social battles, the Marines I saw today stand side-by-side to answer any call, any challenge or assignment. They are the best of us, and they give me hope.

A Dark Day for Dark Horse 3/5

This morning, Ric and I will join the Marines, families and friends of Third Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force. We will mourn the passing of eight Marines, who made the ultimate sacrifice.

  1. PFC Sean Cardelli
  2. LCpl Geofrey Cayer
  3. PFC Javier Chavez Jr.
  4. Cpl Jason Morrow
  5. PFC Rex Page
  6. SSgt Raymond J. Plouhar
  7. LCpl Benito Ramirez
  8. Cpl Ross Smith


These Marines are loved and missed by so many. They deserve to be recognized for their Honor, Courage, and Commitment. Godspeed to these heroes, and may today bring a small measure of comfort to their families in their time of grief.

AIDS Life/Cycle - And so it begins.

I received my login information this morning from the AIDS Life/Cycle organization, and I am off and running. I have three specific challenges.
  1. Raise at least $2,500 dollars
  2. Train to ride a bicycle for nearly 600 miles over seven days
  3. Convince anyone possible to ride with me.

Sounds easy, right? The first task is to raise the money. Until I have, I will be using every method possible to get the word out.

Right now, anyone reading this has the opportunity to be my FIRST donor. How cool is that? Yes, you can be the first friend/family member/random stranger to help me meet my fundraising goal. Just click here - http://www.aidslifecycle.org/4548 - and donate $2,500. (Well, maybe not the whole amount, but every single dollar is appreciated!)

I can do this with your help.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Guilty Pleasures

Confession time. Yes, I am a reality show fan. Not all of the shows, of course. But on any given Thursday, I am sitting in front of my TIVO watching Survivor. And on Sundays, I watch (and weep) during the sappiest moments of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Now, though, I am hooked on Rock Star: Supernova. Fifteen singers are competing to be the lead singer for a new rock band featuring Tommy Lee (Motley Crue), Jason Newsted (Metallica) and Gilby Clarke (Guns & Roses). And the best part? Unlike American Idol contestants, these singers all have experience performing and writing music. They are really talented, and it’s been fun to watch them week-to-week.

So, these are my favorite performances by those still in the competition. Any one of these is a great reason why they should win.

And these singers are already gone from the competition, but they had great performances, too.

I promise, this will be the only blog entry about this show. I mean, it is supposed to be about me, not some televised singing contest. But I did want to post these links here, so I have something to point to when friends ask, "what the hell are you doing watching that stupid show?"

Date Night - IMAX

Late night was date night, so Ric and I went to dinner and the movies. We started at Jimmy Carter's Cafe, and we had a great time. The food was delicious and the service was fantastic. And there is something to be said for mid-week dates. We get to avoid the weekend crowds and have a much better time.

We finished dinner earlier than expected, so we arrived at the Reuben H. Fleet Space Center ahead of schedule. We decided to catch the IMAX film starting at 6pm, which was Greece: Secrets of the Past. It was good, focusing on the cities of Ancient Greece lost to volcanic eruptions.




And then, the movie we have been waiting to see... Deep Sea! I have no idea how they manage to capture the footage they do in movies like this, but it is a must-see. It seems like the filmmakers made stops at every corner of the world. Of course, we are more than a little partial to the parts of the movie filmed right here at La Jolla Shores.





So another Wednesday, another date night. I have to congratulate Ric and I both on this idea. With everything else going on around us, it's easy to cancel plans with each other. But we both have become protective of our time together. It is our one opportunity each week to spend time with each other, and we don't waste it talking about work or any other problems. We just get to have fun... a date. And it's a good thing.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

BodyWorks and UrbanBody

And while I’m at it, I never have given a “shout out” to the two gyms where I work out.

Downtown, and near my office, is BodyWorks. They are conveniently close, have the best treadmills, and are my gym of choice during the day. I can stop by during lunch or right after work, and getting there is as easy as crossing the street. They also have a second floor window view and a great relationship with the Nutrimart downstairs.




Closer to home is UrbanBody. Located in North Park, they are my gym of choice for early morning workouts. Very gay friendly, they have top-of-the-line exercise bicycles, plenty of machines, and a full juice and smoothie bar. (And did I mention the hottest men work out here?)



There are differences between the two gyms. But more importantly are the things they have in common. First, they both offer classes to help anyone working out see more results. Second, they are both clean, safe, comfortable places to work out. Third, and most important, the people at both gyms are incredible. Not just “hello, pass card please” friendly. I mean, big smiles and encouraging words friendly. The employees at both places recognize me when I come in – by face, if not by name – and always offer a sincere greeting that makes me feel welcome. After experiencing the anonymity of big corporate gyms, I really appreciate feeling like I am a real member of a gym, not just a number.

So, if you are around San Diego and looking to start working out, you can’t go wrong with either gym.

Geez. Weights are heavy.

After nearly five months of elliptical trainers, bicycles, treadmills and 5k outdoor events, I am adding weight training to my physical fitness regimen. I hadn’t really planned to work out with weights/weight machines, assuming that my cardio activity would be enough to keep losing the pounds. But I am beginning to plateau, and it is time to shock my body again.

I found this summary at About.com, and it’s a far better explanation of the benefits than I could write. So shamelessly, I borrow from their website:

Weight Training 101
If you want to lose fat or change your body, one of the most important things you can do is lift weights. Diet and cardio are equally important, but when it comes to changing how your body looks, weight training wins hands down. If you've hesitated to start a strength training program, it may motivate you to know that lifting weights can:

  • Help raise your metabolism; Muscle burns more calories than fat, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you'll burn all day long
  • Strengthen bones
  • Make you stronger and increase muscular endurance
  • Help you avoid injuries
  • Increase your confidence and self-esteem
  • Improve coordination and balance

So, here we go again. Something new to keep me motivated. By adding this to my routine, it will give me more to do than just run, bike or climb. Hopefully, this will help me push through this weight and start burning off the calories again!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Night Dive at La Jolla Cove

Last night was definitely one for the record books. My buddy, Austin, called yesterday to talk me out of a trip to the gym and into a dive at La Jolla Cove. It took very little arm-twisting to convince me. We set out with one goal – see a Giant Sea Bass. What is that? Let me quote from Garry McCarthy’s website:

Once common off Southern California and its offshore islands, the grand size, mild taste and gentle nature of the Giant Sea Bass led to their being hunted to near extinction. Most divers in Southern California today have never seen one of these great fish, which can reach 7 1/2 feet long, weigh up to 600 pounds and live almost 100 years. Fully protected in California since 1982, Giant Sea Bass appear to be finally making a slow comeback.
We were in the water less than twenty minutes when we found the bass. There were three of them hanging out in the kelp, and they were incredible to see. They are truly giant, and seeing them up close like that was such a thrill.



Click here for a video. It is NOT US, but it was filmed by other divers yesterday morning. It shows the smaller sea bass out in the cove, along with some other creatures typical for that area. Enjoy! (And thanks to Volker Kilian for the cool footage.)

And the record books? With the relatively shallow depth of less than thirty feet, we were able to stay underwater for over an hour. Yes, folks, I have now made my longest dive yet at 70 minutes! (And we still had air left, but decided that we had been under long enough.)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The History of John, Part IV (the epic version)

Okay, okay, the previous post may be a bit too bare bones. But it is the only condensed version you will get. From here on out, I plan to ramble and elaborate and clarify and… well, you get the idea.

After a very dramatic exit from the Marine Corps in May 1989, the story of which will be the climactic end of "The History of John, Part III, I made the decision to settle in Hawaii. I was involved with a career sailor, and Hawaii seemed like as good a place as any. I worked first for a home improvement store, but got a job in Waikiki at Crazy Shirts. My job was pretty fun, hanging out at tourist central, selling t-shirts, and partying all the time in Waikiki. Not really a stepping stone to future success, but it was a great way to transition from the Marine Corps to the civilian world.

In January 1990, my partner had orders to San Diego. I transferred with my company to a mall store in Mission Valley. The store was pretty quiet and boring, so it was time to move on. I took a job working downtown at a title company. It was interesting enough, but I stayed less than a year. My partner decided to out himself at work as a gay man, so his Navy career came to an immediate halt. Fourteen years in the Armed Forces, and just like that it was over.

In September 1991, we moved to Mobile, Alabama. In many ways, it was coming home for me. The small town life was exactly what I needed, and I quickly settled in. I worked for an HMO, and I started back to school. (College would be a LONG road for me, but that story ends well.... just much later.)

For now, I was a recently out (and outed) gay man and former Marine. This was before "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and the battle over gays in the military was raging. As you can imagine, out gay Marines were not all that common in Mobile, so I was a bit of a novelty. When the first reporter came knocking, I had no idea how far the story would go. What started as a single quote in the local newspaper became a follow-up interview, which led to a featured segment on Alabama Public Television's "For The Record" program.

My most public episode was still to come. A reporter for the New York Daily News was back in Alabama for vacation and saw my segment on APT. We talked for hours, the end result of which was a two-day story with a half-dozen pictures of me. The article was good, and she presented my quotes within context. The headlines made me sound a bit more confrontational than I felt was accurate (MARINE TELLS GENERAL "YOU COULDN'T BE MORE WRONG!"), but the overall message was there.

By this point, my being so out and willing to talk to the media was creating far too much tension at home. My partner's whole family still lived in town, and it was a bit more than he or they could deal with. We broke up, and for the first time in my life I was on my own. Oh, I had obviously been single before, but this was my first experience living alone. And I have to say, I liked it.

So I am now single, enjoying the national spotlight, and fielding calls and interview requests from across the country. For me, it was a complete rush. I was enjoying the attention, and I really did feel that I was contributing to a greater cause.

I had moved on professionally, as well. I went to work for a contractor and soon became the general manager. The experience of running a small business was incredible, and I enjoyed the contrast after being a part of the huge company that was the Marine Corps.

It's 1993, and everything is ramping up. I am dating a therapist (no, not my own), working full time during the day, going to school full time in the evening, and becoming more and more involved in community activism. I am also volunteering as a Rape Crisis Counselor and with the Mobile AIDS Support Services. But my finest hour was still to come.

September 18, 1993, finds me in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. I am a guest speaker at the first ever gay civil rights march and rally in the state. We are bused to the starting point, and I am amazed at the number of police in the area. I find out later that there were "credible death threats" made, and the state responded with a massive law enforcement presence. We march through the streets of this quiet coast town, and the police have formed a line on either side of the route. There are so many of them that they can, literally, touch hand-to-hand to keep the protestors from attacking us. I flash back to the photos of the black marches in Alabama, and I feel overwhelmed at being part of this moment in history. Then I look to the side of the street and I see an older couple - 60's, maybe? - holding a sign that reads "All God's Children Deserve Love and Respect." And there it was. Just like that. One positive thing I could cling to. I marched the rest of the way with my head held high. Of course, it was a bit scary speaking to the crowd, especially when the last thing I hear from the sheriff on the podium next to me, as I approach the microphone, is a whispered "the snipers on the rooftops across the street are police, so don't be worried." Yikes.

I continue on this path for the next three years. I am involved in so many different things - still volunteering for Rape Crisis, fund raising for AIDS charities, providing clinic escort at the local women's clinic, and working with local and state organizations to make life better for gay men and women in Alabama. I was still in school, working, and writing a regular column for a community magazine in New Orleans. I look back now and wonder how I did it all, but at the time, it seemed like I had all the energy in the world.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before I burnt out. My relationship with the therapist ended badly, and most of it was my fault. I decided it was time to return to San Diego. In August 1996, I packed up a U-Haul and made my way back to the Golden State. I started writing for the Gay & Lesbian Times and working at AIDS Foundation San Diego. It was a nice transition from my life in Mobile, but it was time to focus less on the larger community and more on me. (Hmm... a theme I am sure to revisit!).

In December 1996, I met the love of my life, Ric. It would be May 1997 before we began seeing each other, but I knew right away that he was the one. I will save the story of us for another post, but it's enough to say that this was the start of the best part of my life.

In January 1997, I turned 30. I went to work for a local bank and managed to get back to school. I moved in with Ric in May, and a year later we bought the house we live in now. The bank sold soon after, and I accepted an offer from our software vendor to join their offices in Dallas, Texas. Ric and I packed up and off we went to the Lone Star State. (It was during this transition I was beginning my theatrical career, but that post will come later.)

My job with the software company ended when they sold out to an Atlanta company, but I went to work with IBM. The job sounded great - Customer Operations Manager, Customer Support, IBM North Americas. Unfortunately, it was a lot of hours and a lot of stress. I met some amazing people there, but my heart was just not in it. By December 2000, I was ready to come home to San Diego.

I went to work for an HMO as a customer support supervisor, then was promoted to Reporting Analyst. The work was easy, the offices were nice, and the downtown location was convenient. I was also able to get schoolwork done at the office from time to time, so all and all it was pretty great. But, it just wasn't enough for me. After nearly three years, I was out of there. From there, I went to work at an escrow and title company, LandAmerica, where I am still working today.

And last year, I finally achieved my lifelong goal of graduating from college. I received my Bachelor of Science Business Management degree, and I was the commencement speaker. The ceremony was held at the San Diego Convention Center, and the organizer asked me if I was nervous speaking before 10,000 people. I smiled and said, "I was in the Marine Corps. Nothing makes me nervous."

And so it comes full circle. I left the Marine Corps in a painful, public way. But for the next 18 years, I would draw upon my Marine Corps training to get me through other struggles and challenges. And at this point in my life, nearly 40 and having a great time, I am only grateful for my time as an active duty Marine. I have accomplished much since, but I know that being a Marine has made the difference in my life. I mean, after the Corps, nothing can stand in my way.

The History of John, Part IV

Because of the previously mentioned Marine appearing back in my life, I am now obligated to write a “Where Have I Been?” email. You know the one I mean… the long, rambling letter wherein I attempt to recap the last twenty years of my life. Well, since this blog is all about my journey to 40, it seems only fitting that I write it here as a blog entry.

And why the title? Because I have divided my life into four sections: childhood, adolescence, the Marine Corps, and my life since the Corps. In fact, I have decided that Part V begins with my 40th birthday. So, this is Part IV. At some point, I will go back and write the other three sections, but this is a start. And thanks, Tony, for giving me a good reason to write this!

For those of you reading my blog who like to skim, here is the condensed version of the last eighteen years:

When/Where/With/Work
1989-1990/Hawaii/Lane/Crazy Shirts
1990-1991/San Diego/Lane/Crazy Shirts
1991-1993/Mobile, AL/Lane/Complete Health (HMO)
1993–1996/Mobile, AL/Rusty/Patco, Inc.

1996–1997/San Diego/Mark/AIDS Foundation
1997–1999/San Diego/Ric/Bank of Commerce
1999–2000/Dallas/Ric/Sterling Commerce, IBM
2001–2003/San Diego/Ric/ASH (HMO)
2003–2006/San Diego/Ric/LandAmerica

The Rag Bag Gang



And here we are, the Marines from Radio Battalion. Extra points to the first person who can spot me in the crowd.

Around The Island In Eighty Minutes

A few days ago, I got an email from a long lost Marine Corps buddy. His name is Tony, and we were stationed together in Hawaii back in the late eighties. At a time when my life felt fairly crazy and out of control, he was a friend I could count on. Believe me when I tell you how very important that was to me.

I have kept a few photos of us, but my favorite souvenir is definitely a videotape we made with some other friends. (And no, it isn’t THAT kind of videotape.) On a beautiful Saturday morning, I convinced a dozen or so Marines that we did not have to sit around the barracks and mope all day. Instead, we could grab my video camera, hop into a couple of vehicles, and play tourist. Thus, the epic journey known as “Around the Island in 80 Minutes” began.

As the title suggests, we drove all around Oahu. We stopped whenever something caught our attention. We played in the ocean, shopped at Cackle Fresh Eggs, rolled around on the sandy beaches, toured the Dole Pineapple Plant, climbed a tree at Tripler Hospital, and ran around like wild banshees at the Pali Lookout. All and all, we just let ourselves be kids for a day, and it was one of the best times of my life.

Side note: in the story that is my life, everyone around me is defined by their connection to me. Some people play walk-on parts, others are featured in supporting roles, and still others are co-stars. I am sure it sounds vain, but I think we all do it to an extent. I am just the one guy honest enough to admit it.

Anyway, I was really having a tough time with life when we made this video. I needed time away from the base with friends to just laugh and enjoy myself. And man, did I have that kind of day! And I remember Tony specifically, because he played the part of my rescuer for the day. I didn’t realize that at the time, but watching the tape years later, it was clear that he was the “take care of John” guy. And it’s pretty cool to watch.

At one point, I have climbed high up into a tree. (Don’t ask. It made sense at the time.) As I am climbing down, Tony appears below me, catches me as I drop from the last branch, and carries me away. Later, when I am hanging from yet another precarious perch, he is there – again – to literally carry me away to safety. I know it sounds dramatic, but it really wasn’t. It was just a bunch of people being silly and having a laugh. And Tony’s role of “rescuer” was just a way of playing along with the day.

But there is always truth in fiction, meaning in humor. Looking back, I realize that I enjoyed being rescued, even if from my own harmless “danger,” because it made me feel like someone had my back. For just a moment, I felt like I was safe. Thank you, Tony, for giving me that.

And to everyone else that was there that day (Timmy!), I hope the day meant to you at least some of what it meant to me. Today, nearly twenty years later, it is one of my fondest memories. It’s also a great reminder to me to stay in the moment, enjoy all that you can when you can, and the tough stuff will often sort itself out.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Diggin' the new Vibe

Oh, 'tis a glorious day for the kid. As of last night, I am a proud owner of a new Pontiac Vibe. There are all kinds of cool things about the car, but I will let everyone discover them as they ride along with me.



Ooh. I LOVE this car.

Monday, August 7, 2006

My wonderful husband, Ric

Everyone knows Ric. So everyone already knows how wonderful he is. But sometimes, he does things that even catch me by surprise.

Saturday afternoon, I joined 48 other friends to watch Wicked. While we were there, enjoying the show, Ric was running around town like a madman. He stopped at Party City, Michael's, and San Diego Florist Supply. He bought poster board, paint, balloons, crepe paper, garden stakes, and assorted other craft supplies. He had to work fast, since he was picking my cousin up at the airport at 5pm. By the time we returned home from the theater, we walked in to find the dining room full of decorations. He had everything we could possibly use to welcome the boys home.

I know how wonderful my husband is. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful to have him in my life. But things like this - so surprising and unexpected - are reminders to me of what a fantastic person he is.

I love you, mister.

And more on the homecoming

Like everyone else there waiting on Marines, Ric and I were excited to see Jon and AJ come home. The past seven months have seemed so long, and we feel so blessed and fortunate that our friends are home safe.

Before the homecoming, Ric spent the afternoon making signs, streamers and other decorations. By the time the Marines began to make their way to where we were all waiting, we were shouting and cheering and waving our signs and streamers like crazy.


As we saw the boys walk up, all the emotion of the last seven months disappeared in a flood of relief. And it felt so good to wrap our arms around them and welcome them back with a hug.


Jon and AJ, we love you both so much. You make us all so proud.

More on the Homecoming

It's difficult to describe being part of the homecoming on Saturday. I believe there were more than 300 Marines that returned from Iraq that night, so the waiting area was full of family and friends. We all chatted and tried to pass the time, but every moment seemed like an eternity.

Then, a few at a time, the Marines entered into the barracks courtyard. Each time another Marine was spotted, the crowd erupted into cheers. And someone - most often his mother, wife or girlfriend - would dash from where she was standing and run to meet him. It was incredibly emotional, even when we didn't know the people involved. All that mattered was a young Marine had returned home from war and was back in the arms of those who loved him.



Later, after the cheers and hugs, the Marines still had to deal with the business of returning to base. They had to get key cards for their rooms and drag all of their gear up before they could leave.


Finally, late in the evening, the Marines were able to leave. They were all given a "96," which is a military term for 4 days off (4 x 24 hours = 96). For this unit, Third Battalion Fifth Marines, they do not have to return to the base until Thursday.

As for our two Marines, Jon and AJ... they are enjoying their liberty, too. Yesterday we all gathered at our house for a barbeque, and we did what Marines do when they are home from war - ate too much, drank too much, and laughed... a lot. It was our chance to say to both of them, Jon and AJ, that we are so proud of them and that we love them so much.

And for the rest of their time off? Jon is visiting with his girlfriend, Stacey, and his family, who all flew out from Austin, Texas to be with him. And AJ is visiting with his Mom and brother, who are visiting from Prague, and his family friends that all live here in San Diego.

Oohrah, Marines, and welcome home!

Homecoming

I don't know that I can describe how fantastic it was Saturday night to welcome home Jon and AJ from Iraq. It was an emotional rollercoaster - joy that they were coming home, agony that we had to wait for hours until they arrived, then pure elation as we finally were able to wrap our arms around them and celebrate their safe return.

And there are pictures. Lots and lots of pictures!

Here I am with my cousin, Stacey. Standing around and waiting for her boyfriend, Jon, was almost enough to drive her insane. (She is not really a patient person, you know?)


And she was not the only one anxiously awaiting his safe return. We had all come to welcome home Jon and his friend, AJ.


And then they walked up out of the darkness...


Saturday, August 5, 2006

And speaking of fitness...

I have hit a plateau of sorts. I still weigh somewhere around 189lbs. I am not too worried about it, because I know that chasing a particular weight or just working out to lose weight is not a good thing. If I continue to workout, stay physically active, and eat right, I will look and feel better. Period.

But, even though my clothes fit better and I feel good, I still like to see the numbers go down when I step on the scale. So, after four months of cardio-focused training, I am shaking things up a bit. Instead of running 6 ten minute miles, I am doing the iTrain treadmill workout which is interval training - sprints, hills, recovery times, etc. I also did my first class at the gym - BodyBlast with Rolan. It was a full body workout using floor exercises, hand weights, a barbell and an exercise ball. Man, what a workout! I had no idea we would do so many reps. I am still sore, and the workout was Thursday.

So, that's it for the fitness update. I am changing it up and hoping to jump-start my body again. And I can't believe I have stuck with this fitness thing for 4 months. It really has become a life change.

iTrain

As most of my friends can tell you, when I find something I like, I have to make sure everyone knows about it. (See the previous post about Wicked, for example.) Now, though, my attention is on a website called iTrain. The site offers mp3 downloads - for a subscription rate or a "per file" charge.

According to iTrain, with an MP3 player you can now download customized workouts with a personal trainer. The downloads are set to music and combines modern technology, entertainment, and health in a portable format. It doesn't matter what kind of workout you enjoy, iTrain seems to offer a program. There is iTread, iCycle, iClimb, iStrength, iSculpt Traditional and iSculpt Ballet, iStretch, iTeenTrain Hip Hop, iTeenTrain Kick Boxing.

The programs are 20-70 minutes, and they include several different songs, depending on the pace required, and continual coaching from the trainer. The iTread programs, for example, tell me when to adjust my speed and/or my incline, so I get a great workout with interval training.

Anything that helps me get to the gym and workout is a good thing. With these programs, I feel I am getting more out of each session. I am hooked.

Wicked? Again?

Yep. Again.

Because my plans changed, and I am not in Austin this weekend, I am able to go to see Wicked one more time. Yay for me! (And is seven times really too many times to see the same Broadway show?)



Nope. Not this show. It really does get better every time. Besides, it's fun to take 49 of my friends to the theater. Makes me feel Popular...

Thursday, August 3, 2006

My husband, the pirate

Yep... this is what keeps Ric busy at work all day. Looting, plundering and pillaging are only a few of the skills he brings to the workplace.

Pride 5k Photos

The race photographs from last Saturday's Front Runners 5k in Balboa Park are now posted. You can check out all the pictures, and order your favorites, from the race photographer’s website.

This was the crowd at the beginning of the race.


And a smiling Bridgette, early in the run.


And here is Bridgette a bit later, and I am "gently" encouraging her to run faster.


And here is Sonya, flying through the course.


And finally, me, feeling pretty good towards the end of the run.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

A huge weiner



Nothing else I can add to this. I think the "subject line" says it all.

Today's Tech Tip? Byte me.

First, the background. I work in an office with people who have varying degrees of technical competency. Some people move quickly and efficiently across applications, while others become catatonic if their computer monitor becomes unplugged. I presume it is like this in most non-tech offices. Some people are aces, some are dunces. As a courtesy, I began offering “tech tips” during our weekly staff meetings. Nothing too difficult, just simple things that would help people control their in-boxes, format documents and spreadsheets, etc. After presenting each tip, with hand-outs and other helpful information, I would remind people that they should come to me one-on-one if they had any further questions. Tech Tips are general help, but people might certainly have specific issues.

After a few weeks, though, I noticed that very few people ever came by my office with follow-up questions. In fact, I felt like I was wasting my time and everyone else’s with tips that no one is using. I made an announcement at the next staff meeting that the tips were on hold. It was my opinion that people were not using any of them, and that it might be better if people just came to me with a specific question as issues came up.

So I walk into a staff meeting this morning, and I hear from a co-worker that one of the people I have been helping one-on-one was overheard telling our boss that she didn’t know why I wasn’t presenting Tech Tips anymore, and that my unit was not busy at all and had plenty of time to do it.

WTF? It was all I could do to not walk down to the end of the table, during the meeting, and ever-so-professionally advise this person what she could do with her unsolicited and uninformed thoughts about my unit.

Why, oh why, am I not spending my weekends job-hunting on Hot Jobs or Monster?

Just be honest

I read this online, about the potential impact of Mel Gibson’s arrest and anti-Jewish tirade.
The first fallout from the arrest may have already come with Monday's announcement by ABC that it had canceled a planned miniseries about the Holocaust that it was developing with Gibson's Icon Productions."Given that it has been nearly two years and we have yet to see the first draft of a script, we have decided to no longer pursue this project with Icon," ABC said in a one-sentence statement.
Why does ABC have to lie? Oh yeah, what a coincidence, you just happened to decide now that you have waited long enough for the first draft of the script. Oh, please. Why can’t they just be honest and say, “in light of the comments made by Mr. Gibson, we have decided not to proceed with a Holocaust miniseries with him as the Producer”?

-sigh-

When family is in need

Sunday morning, Ric's brother called with bad news. Their father took a nasty fall Saturday evening. The details are bad, and I will omit them here. He was in ICU, and Ric decided to head up to see him. He and Grant took off Sunday and will be there for a few days, at least.

What else could he do? When family is in need, you respond. That's why Ric had to go. And why did Grant agree to go with him, just like that? Because sometimes, a good friend is closer than family.

The prognosis for his father is not good, but we will all continue to hope for the best.

America's Gayest City

Okay, so maybe that is not our town’s nickname. Maybe it’s actually America’s Finest City. But this past weekend, it was pretty damn gay. Yep, San Diego’s Gay Pride was in full effect this past weekend. The theme this year was “Equality: No Looking Back.”

The weekend's events began with the Frontrunners 5k Run. Since Bridgette and I were both out until very late Friday night, the 7:30am start time Saturday morning was pretty tough. Still, we went, we ran, and we had a great time. (Congrats, Bridgette, on your first 5k. And thanks, Chica, for running with us!)

After the 5k, we hurried home to shower, get dressed, and head back down to Hillcrest. The parade kicked off at 11:00, and we had a lot to do to be ready. We had to set up the rainbow sarongs over the top of the roof rack, set up the canvas gazebo next to the Jeep, and of course we had to get Ric's field kitchen set up. It was truly quite a sight to see Ric, wearing his Grill Sergeant apron, frying up homemade tortilla chips. And boy were we popular? I think Ric must have fed nearly 50 different people.

The parade itself was lots of fun. Click here on the link of the hot boys dancing to see one of the floats. Make sure you listen carefully, because Chica entertained herself with shouts of "whoo hoo, hot boys... yeah!"


And there were dancing girls, too!


After the parade, we headed back home once again to drop off all the gear. We made good time getting back to the festival, caught a shuttle from the old hospital, and were able to avoid the entire parking hassle. San Diego Pride really does have it together in planning a big party.

The festival was fun. Good food, sexy men, and lots of shopping with the vendors. I bought a t-shirt that reads, "Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes." A great thought.

Of course, the highlight of the day was watching the three drunk/stoned lesbians in the El Camino. While we were waiting for the shuttle bus to take us back to the car, the El Camino crashed into a cab. They pulled over to the curb and sat there like they were in some sort of trance. The details are way too much to recount here, but I will say that they were the most entertaining things about the whole day!