work and play

I haven’t exercised in something like six days.  Saturday, Sunday and Monday I was legitimately sick and exercise wasn’t really possible.  Tuesday I was still not feeling awesome, so it was very reasonable to skip that day.  Wednesday I definitely could have worked out, and I’m basically back to 100%, or at least 95%, today.  But I didn’t do anything.  To put this in perspective, I often work out twice a day – a run in the morning and then lifting or stretching in the evening.  (I’m not sure if stretching counts as “working out” but since it’s a valuable contributor to my health and fitness, I count it.  Especially since I despise stretching.)

It is amazing how much extra time I have on my hands when I don’t, say, go for a 12 mile run in the morning, as I often did when I was marathon training.  These days, I don’t go that far, but it hasn’t been unusual for me to run 9 miles or so.  Not only does running 9 miles take 90 minutes+, it is also exhausting.  After running nine miles, I need more sleep at night, and if I’m sitting on the couch, I don’t feel like doing much other than resting.  I have felt filled with boundless energy the last few days.  And I have so much time!  I’ve been cross stitching and watching TV, two things I normally don’t do much of.

I haven’t done much crafting in ages.  Really, as an adult, there just isn’t time to have more than one serious hobby.  I think this is true whether you’re working or a SAHM.  Either way, you can probably pick one thing to invest in other than work / childcare and family . . . and that’s it.  Maybe that equation changes when kids are older.  I imagine it does . . . if you resist the urge to use the extra time to work more, which I fully intend.  Anyway, it’s been really nice cross stitching.  Through the years, I generally have some kind of artistic hobby going, if you count music, and I really enjoy it all.  Knitting, quilting, hand sewing, cross stitching, origami, playing the piano.  I’ve missed all that.  The fact is, though, I can’t really do those things and run 40 miles a week.  I have neither the time nor the energy.  I planned to cut back on running this summer anyway, but I planned to bike more, and maybe do some swimming and do a second sprint triathlon.  That will take up any time I save by running less.

I keep telling myself I can sew and knit and quilt when I’m old, whereas I may not be able to run.  This is all true to some degree.  But age brings arthritis and bad vision, both of which are a big problem for fine work.  Furthermore, exercise will continue to be important to my physical and mental health.  The solution, clearly, is to retire and give up on this annoying work nonsense.  Once S goes to school, I’d have tons of time if I wasn’t working!  Kidding.  Kind of.

art of the day

As a work from home aerospace engineer, I think maybe I should have a copy of this one on my wall.

I’m also thinking of printing this one out as well.  It often feels appropriate.

the reign of terror

Here in Seattle, the Covid reign of terror continues.  The girls’ school theoretically lifted their mask mandate a few weeks ago but with a caveat – if anyone in the class tests positive, everyone has to wear a mask for ten days.  If anyone who has contact with multiple classes tests positive (like a teacher or aide), the entire school has to wear a mask for ten days.  What this boils down to is that the girls have had like three days of mask free school.  It just makes me so furious I want to break things.  Effectively, the school still has a mask mandate.

They are also still requiring PCR tests to return to school after illness (of any kind) which means a mandatory two to three day stay home if you keep your kid out for a cold.  Furthermore, they continue insane levels of surveillance testing – anywhere between one and three tests a week, depending on I don’t know what.  Isla will take at least five Covid tests this week alone since she was at home sick and had to take a couple extra tests.  (In addition to the PCR to return, an immediate lateral flow is required so they know whether to impose masks on everyone else at school.)  Isla has taken well over a hundred Covid tests.  Are we approaching two hundred for her?  I don’t know.  What a waste of resources!  My Dad has taken less than five, all but one mandatory before medical procedures / surgeries.  What kind of madness is it to test healthy low risk kids dozens or hundreds of times for a disease that poses little or no risk to them while high risk elderly adults almost never test?

Remember L’s field trip to Mt. Rainier that I had to get the extra PCR for (despite the daily rapid testing planned)?  Well, that was canceled because someone at the Mt. Rainier Ins.titute apparently got Covid.  I don’t know if the school canceled it or the institute did.  Either way, L didn’t get to go.

Meanwhile, outside of school, half the kids, including the ones we choose to hang out with, don’t wear masks and socialize freely and do sports and dance and have sleepovers and pass illnesses back and forth at will.  Everyone in our family has the same cold I’m sure that L’s best friend’s family are also struck down with.  (Ironically it originated with one of the little siblings; I’m pretty sure B has a crush on the boy from that family in her class.)  The Covid theater at school just becomes increasingly absurd.

And yes, I blame the Democrats for encouraging this nonsense.  Much as the overturning of Roe v Wade infuriates, alarms and honestly even frightens me, the Democrats nonsense is affecting our family negatively every single day.  To avoid Covid lunacy, we’ve changed so many aspects of our daily lives – changed the pool we go to (so I could get in the pool and be in the same lane as my non-swimming daughter), pulled L from the ballet school she was attending (to avoid virtual classes), applied to different schools (didn’t get in sadly), childcare decisions and on and on.  (Childcare here for the under 5s is completely and wildly unreliable due to covid closures.  I have a friend – a nurse! – who went to weekend part-time work because it became too difficult to manage canceling shifts due to daycare Covid closures.  Our governor also put out guidance advising eliminating all drop-in childcare – since you can’t have cohorts, and thus have different groups of kids mixing, which makes backup childcare even harder.)

summer riding

I cannot believe this baby formula shortage situation.  I looked on Amazon, and you basically cannot buy Similac powdered baby formula.  You can buy the premade stuff.  But, for example, with Saoirse, we had to make formula with extra calories, which was a different mix than the standard premade.  I remember being stressed during the early Covid days when Saoirse was still taking some formula, so I stocked up with a 3 month supply, which I later gave away.  Not having formula is an absolute crisis.  It should be the number one priority for Biden and co.  What can matter more than having adequate food available for newborns and infants?

I’ve had brutal allergies over the last year, maybe two.  Honestly, I can’t remember when it started.  It’s just a continuous cycle of sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, etc.  It’s interesting because I’ve had very few colds during the same period, thanks to all the Covid precautions.  I’m not sure which is worse, honestly.

In any case, the my kids’ colds finally caught up with me.  So now, I have allergies and a cold.  They both get tested for The Virus three times a week for school, so probably just a cold, but ug.  I was really hoping to get a good bike ride in this weekend.  It’s supposed to rain both days, and I just can’t see riding 25 miles in the rain with a cold.  I got Zwift set up last weekend, and I’m moderately happy with it.  I got a direct drive trainer, and I’m not sure I have it adjusted quite right, and I feel like my gears are kind of noisy.  It’s hard to explain.  In any case, I got a good workout in Thursday with a ten mile ride.  Perhaps I’ll do an indoor ride this weekend if I’m not feeling well and call it good.

I have some cycling goals for the summer, but since we’re heading to Smith Mountain Lake for August where I won’t have a bike and I want to focus on spending time with family, my goals have a deadline of the end of July.  We’re having really lousy weather this year, which is making it harder to get out and ride.

I did get a ride in last weekend – 18.5 miles, 820 feet of elevation gain.  It’s a good start.

ski fomo

I’ve been having major FOMO over skiing lately.  Washington got a bunch of snow in April, and so local ski resorts have been extending their closing dates.  The ski resort I usually go to, Crystal Mountain, for example, is going to be open until Memorial Day on Fridays and weekends.  However, I had my goal 10K race 3 weeks ago, our vacation to Oregon, another goal race this weekend, my first day of work Monday, and my daughters’ First Communion next weekend along with a visit from their godmother, a friend of mine from grad school.  All in all, there hasn’t been time for skiing.  That hasn’t stopped me from *watching* skiing on Peacock.  I subscribed to Peacock for the Olympics.  After being wildly disappointed with my subscription for the summer Olympics (which I canceled immediately afterwards), I’ve been really impressed since the winter Olympics.  Apparently NBC responded to criticism.  My $5 / month subscription gives me access to all of the World Cup skiing from ’21-’22 . . . and lots of other stuff, including, for example, most major professional cycling races.  It’s great.  I’ve been enjoying it so much, I don’t think we’ve turned on Netflix in ages.

Crystal hasn’t opened *all* their lifts.  They’ve opened most of them but left closed the lift that serves the most advanced green runs as well as the easier blue runs I’d been working on.  They recently added a new 3D trail map along with descriptions of the runs.  The interface is rather user-hostile, but hopefully they’ll improve it.  In any case, I think the trail descriptions are super useful!  When you’re moving up from greens to blues, or I’m guessing blues to blacks, you kind of want to know what you’re getting yourself into.

The first blue run I did at Crystal is called Downhill.  It is pretty easy except for one very steep section.  At least, I think it’s steep.  It’s wide, no trees, and everyone says it’s the first “easy” blue you should do.  I don’t find it easy, however.  Description:

This wide trail offers excellent terrain for carving on a groomer. The upper half of the run is a great place for beginners wanting to try out a blue. Avoid the steep section towards the bottom known as The Burn by taking the cat track to the right under the Forest Queen Chair. For those wanting a little more challenge, look for softer snow along the edges of The Burn. This steep section can become scraped down to firm snow and sometimes ice later in the day. Below, the terrain mellows again for what is locally known as the Afterburn before returning to the bottom of the chair. This run is best in the morning when the snow is freshly groomed. Starting below the top of the Forest Queen Chair, this trail is easy to find. Flanked by tall trees and a steep slope on the left, this picturesque trail rolls through varied terrain, making for a fun and fast run.

OK, so at least they acknowledge that there is a steep section.  And yes, calling it “the burn” is apt.  After getting comfortable-ish on Downhill, I finally ventured onto another blue run.  An employee told me all the blue runs off this particular lift were pretty easy, so I tried Rolling Knolls.  I’d describe it as comparable in difficulty to Downhill, maybe a little more tricky in some ways because it’s narrower and if you don’t avoid the fall line, it is steep.  But you can avoid the steepest route down, so it’s not bad.

This challenging blue starts as a sidehill traverse from the Downhill run. Once you can see the steep dropoff, you are committed to the trail, so take caution. For skiers and riders wanting to avoid going all the way to the bottom of the ski area to transition to the Mountain Top side of Crystal, Rolling Knolls offers a fun, steep and sometimes powdery shortcut. The run drops sharply twice, making a slight right turn to end at the bottom of Rainier Express. The best snow can be found on the far right side of the lower drop, where the terrain is much steeper. This run is steep enough that it requires a winch for grooming. Stay in the groomed section for less challenge. The trees on either side of the run offer fun glades. The glade on the right side is often quite deep and steep. Watch for avalanches and tree wells.

Watch for avalanches?  Really?  OK.

In any case, since my favorite lift is closed, I’d need to ski either “Little Shot” or “Green Valley” if I were to go skiing again.  (We do seem to have one free weekend between now and the end of May.)

Little Shot:

A long cat track, Little Shot is the easiest route on Rainier Express. Start at the top of Green Valley Express, taking the Back Traverse to Powder Pass. From here, ski/ride down the first face of Lucky Shot. At the top of the second face, find the cat track on skier’s left. Follow this until it ends under the chair below the bottom of the third face of Lucky Shot. Either veer left here and take Upper Arwines or stay under the Rainier Express to the bottom.

This sounds very manageable to me, though I have very little experience with cat tracks.  I feel like I’m pretty comfortable with steeps at this point, but I am not comfortable with narrow runs.  I have basically done no narrow runs whatsoever.  I guess there’s only one way to rectify that!  The other option is Green Valley:

A long, snaking groomer with some steeper sections, this main run on Green Valley Express is also known as Greenback. Green Valley begins at the top of Green Valley Chair. Look for the groomed swath on the skier’s left of the vast Green Valley Bowl. There are many routes here, but this is the most obvious and popular. As far as blue runs go, this is a challenging one. It is steepest at the top. The second headwall is shallower than the first and the third headwall, if it can even be called that, is shallower still.

I feel like I should be able to handle this, but I’d hate to realize I was wrong at the top with no other way down the mountain.  If only I wasn’t such a wimp!

twitter thoughts

I look at Twitter occasionally.  I never go to twitter.com to start, but sometimes I’ll read a news article and there will be a tweet.  Because of the privacy settings, I have to go to Twitter to see said tweet.  I probably do this less than once a week – maybe once or twice a month.  However, I decided to stop by twitter.com and see what all the fuss was about.  I started scrolling through and reading tweets and I found myself getting pissed off.  Everyone is very loudly and often offensively expressing their opinions, which I often don’t agree with.  These obnoxious tweets are interspersed with “interesting” posts about this or that arcane thing that I find not interesting in any way.  Wow.  Yuck.  I vowed not to visit Twitter again any time soon.

With that said, lots of other people visit Twitter.  It’s kind of alarming that the Twitter addicts have such an outsized influence on life and politics.  What kind of personality traits lead someone to spend a lot of time on Twitter?  And do we really want people with those personality traits (eg Musk) affecting our lives?  In any case, needless to say, I fully agree with Musk that censoring major newspapers – Covid origins, laptop story, etc. – is utterly unacceptable.  Let’s consider Covid “misinformation.”  Who gets to decide what is misinformation?  The CDC?  I personally think the CDC is probably about as good as it gets in terms of government organizations in terms of health advice.  With that said, it’s an arm of the government, and letting the government decide what is “misinformation” is seriously sketchy.

In Russia, media organizations that aren’t in line with Putin are suppressed and put out of business directly.  Things aren’t that bad in the US.  But if major newspapers, like the New York Post, cannot share their articles on Twitter because a government organization of any kind deems them “misinformation,” that is a serious problem.  Here in the brave state of Washington, our governor wanted to make it a crime to claim that an election was “rigged.”  Sounds great, right?  That would prevent all that nonsense in 2020 when Trump’s cronies claimed the election was unfair, right?  OK.  But what about when the election actually *is* rigged?  And anyone who points that out is thrown in jail?  Luckily, the legislators in WA declined to pass the bill.  For me, it’s just not possible to have a neutral arbiter that decides what’s truth and what’s misinformation.  You have to let people make up their own minds.  Otherwise, you’re no better than Putin.

If I were in charge, I’d only allow people to post on social media under their own names.  If you compare the comments section on the Seattle Times or really any newspaper other than the NYT and the Wall Street Journal, Seattle Times and the like are filled with insults, vulgarity and poor behavior.  The Wall Street Journal makes people post under their real names, and the comments section is a different animal, with relatively civil discourse.  (The NYT also has polite discourse but they review all comments before posting, something which most newspapers and forums cannot afford.)  I’d like to see ALL online communities require people to post under their real names.  How to verify real names?  A credit card would be a pretty good option, or government ID for those who lack credit cards.

Groups are a problem.  I’d really like to stop “groups” from posting as a group without a name.  You could still allow groups, like say a newspaper, to post, but require under the group header to be the name of an actual person affiliated with that group.  So, if the New York Post, or a local road race, wants to post, fine, but there had to be an actual human putting their name out there.  In other words, no anonymous posting, ever.