Friday, August 31, 2007

Cool Music

We'll keep this post quick as it is 9:00 pm, the wife is out and I've got two ornery kids I need to put to sleep. Some father I am, eh? Anyway, I've got my hands on a ton of new music, some of which is pretty impressive. Here is a list of a few that get high recommendations:

Junior Senior "Hey Hey MY Yo Yo" -- Not sure how to even describe these dudes. IT's fun, lite hip hop in the spirit of the Beastie Boys, circa 1995. My supposition is that they started off as a goof, and one day realized they were pretty darn good.

Rilo Kiley "Under the Blacklight" -- I quote from The Week (which has decent record reviews and gave this one four stars) "a genre-busting disc that jumps from alt country to piano rock to disco and funk." I find this one gets more interesting with each successive listen.

Joan as Policeman "Real Life" Another female crooner in the spirit of Feist, St. Vincent et al. but this one makes for great EZ-airplane listening, and I think that the track "I Defy" is one of the best songs of the year.

Okkervil River The Stage Names" -- I guess alt country would come closest to describing these guys. if so, it's the first album I've ever liked. Real good and also seems to get bettter over time. Critics are calling this one one of the best albums of the year.

(Ps. I'll have you all know the kids are officially in bed now, though it does not appear as if sleep is on their short-term agenda).

MIA "Kala" -- The jury is still out on this British female rapper, but I am inclined to include it on this list as the cognescenti are absolutely in love with it. Upon first listen I found it irritating, but stay tuned for more.


I caved in and bought the Apple bluetooth earpiece earlier tonight. Expensive, as per usual with Apple, but it looks pretty cool. I'm on the phone a ton travelling to and from work, not to mention when I am on the road, so I don't have a hard time rationalizing the price (not that I've ever really struggled with rationalizing costs). Stay tuned for a review early next week.


Freaking Yankees. They weep the Red Sox and then get absolutely clobbered by the freaking Devil Rays. Par for the course with me and sports. And on that note, Michigan football kicks off tomorrow. Neil: we are still awating your analysis.

Have a great holiday weekend all.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


So, I have a confession to make: I am on steroids. If I happen to win next week's race yet fail the doping controls, be aware that you heard it here first, straight from the horses mouth. I took my first cycle earlier today (at the local Walgreens, with an assist from the local pharmacist) and though it was only three quick hits off the inhaler, I already feel significantly stronger and more powerful.

Ok, here's the real deal. I have an inflamed chest, the result of what was likely a persistent viral infection. So, the doc prescribed a few inhalers that contain mild steroids. Sadly for me, they will have zero effect on my performance. I celebrated this news by swimming about 2,000 meters.

Indian Summer has arrived in NorCal. As I think I've stated previously, the most remarkable thing about living here is without question the weather. If you are come from the East or Midwest, you have to throw out all pre-existing notions of seasona and weather patterns. As example(s):

-- driving to my office, which is about 12 miles from my office, I generally encounter three separate microclimates, with temperature differentials as much as 15-20 degrees. You can drive from Chicago to St. Louis and generally experience the same exact weather pattern.

-- the next town over from us is on average, a good 10-15 degrees warmer. Note that it is located no more than 5 miles from our home.

-- As Mark Twain famously stated, August is one of the coldest months of the year. Fortunately, we had a pretty good August with the exception for the last week, but it is generally cold, windy and foggy.

-- That said, I think we've formally entered our Indian Summer. It's the damndest thing: September and October are two of the nicest months of the year, and it often extends into November as well (as Dave can attest to, it was about 80 degrees and blue skies last Thansgiving). Anyway, the last two days have been the hottest of the year (but note: there is ZERO humidity) and fingers crossed, I think we are in for a very strong stretch of good weather.

-- The rainy season lasts from December through until about the end of April. However, once it stops, we will experience literally ZERO rain. No summer thunderstorms or anything of the like. Maybe ... maybe ... a little precipitation in the mornings, but that is about the extent of it. However, I've learned this isn't necessarily a good thing: it makes us vulnerable to drought (which is impending if we don't have a good rainy season this year) and wild fires.


Yankees sweep the Sox! Sweeter words could not possibly be uttered. I thoguht yesterday was the best possible game until today: Wang throws a no no through 7; Jeter goes 4-4; Chamberlain takes a cue from his mentor Clemens and goes headhunting (mark of a badass) and Cano goes yard twice.

Good times. I smell a fantastic September.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Despite my health issues of the past year, I feel like overall, I have led a very charmed life. If I were to do it all over again, I'd do it exactly the same. With one exception. Be prepared to laugh, but I really wish I had given the Navy SEALS a try out. I don't know exactly what it is, but I am borderline obsessed with the SEALS. I admire everything about them: their dedication, integrity, singular focus, conditioning, etc. I've read an enormous body of literature on the SEALS and while I am uncertain that I ever could have made it through BUDS camp (I *really* struggle in cold water, due in part to my low body fat) I would loved to have given it a shot. SEALS Hell Week makes Ironman look like a veritable walk in the park.

That all being said, I'm currently reading another book on the SEALS, one that is quickly moving up the best seller list. It's titled LONE SURVIVOR: THE EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF OPERATION REDWING AND THE LOST HEROES OF SEAL TEAM 10. I'm only halfway through it so I will reserve my full review until I am finished, but it's a fairly interesting read thus far. My only negative is that the author, Marcus Luttrell, is a tad too "rah rah" and a bit overly patriotic and the writing, while interesting, isn't terribly well edited. But again, it's an interesting story, and thus far comes recommended, particularly if like me, you are interested in military non-fiction.

In other news, Yankees won again tonight. Rocket gets the win over Beckett, A-Rod hits his 44th home run, Johnny Damon gets a big hit and Mo Rivera comes and closes it out with four consecutive wins. If you are a Yankees fan, it simply doesn't get better than that. Yanks are now only six back, but I predict the gap is too big to close this late in the season (though I hope I am wrong). What's really key is securing a wild card spot.

Let's go Yankees!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Post Number 100!

I just noted that this will be my 100th post. Wow -- to be honest, I started this blog on a bit of a whim and frankly, never thought I'd make it this far. I hope you are enjoying it thus far and please let me know if you have any suggestions/themes you'd like to see for the next 100 posts. I'm open to any and all suggestions. Ad it's my sincere hope that over time, I'll be writing less and less about cancer as pertains to myself, family and friends. I'm hoping that we all find ourselves cured and in good health.

In other news, I just got back from a 36 hour whirwind trip to Atlanta. Man, Atlanta in August is something else. I think it was about 128 degrees or so. And to make matters worse, our hotel had air conditioning issues. Combined, this did not make for a good night's sleep, to put it mildly.

If you think the Michael Vick story is big news nationally, you should see what's happening in Atlanta. Granted, yesterday was a big day with his guilty plea, but the coverage was literally non-stop on every channel (I know of what I write, too, as I was flipping through channels until around 2:00 am or so). It was pretty interesting to say the least. Without getting into a big, long diatribe on this story, which really doesn't need to be re-hashed, it's astonishing that a professional athlete could possibly demonstrate such an utter lack of judgement -- for a cruel and barbaric "sport" no less.

Watched the first three episodes of the second season of Weeds on the plane. I forgot how good that show is; I watched the first season when I was massively hypo, but it's without question up there as one of the better shows on TV. All of the characters are incredibly well developed.

Watched two other movies on the plane too: first ws the The Flying Scotsman, which was just awesome. Attention biking fans (Jeff, Dave, Payro et al.): this one is a must see. I can't believe that this one escaped me given the subject matter. Also saw Fracture with Ryan Gosling and Anthony Hopkins, which was a bit disappointing. I mean, how many different ways can Hopkins attempt to recreate his Hannibal Lecter character?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The New, New Thing

One of my guity pleasures is the New York Times Sunday edition. I can't think of a weekend gone by without my Sunday Times. It's a great way to unwind at the end of the weekend, and there's something to learn in virtually every section. This weekend's big read was the cover of the Magazine section, which features one of my all-time favorite authors, Michael Lewis. The subject is fairly complicated but in a nutshell, it basically covers the quant jock hedge funds guys (or in the case of this article, guy, singular) who are responsible for setting pricing structures for natural disasters. In inimitable Michael Lewis fashion, he takes a fairly esoteric subject and makes it a fascinating read. If you have access to the Sunday magazine, it is a worthwhile read. For those of you who are unfamilar with Lewis, he's the author of Liars Poker, The New, New Thing, Moneyball (my personal favorite) and the Blind Side (my favorite book of 2006). All of them come very highly recommended,


Got my last big training weekend in: four consecutive heavy days that featured eCycling on Thursday, a 45 minute trail run on Friday night, a 50 mile bike/three mile run yesterday and 11 mile run today on very tired legs. I finished by running the last 3 miles at 7:20-7:30 pace and am feeling ready to rock and roll.


Took the Little Man to the SF Giant's game today; he's turning into quite the baseball fan. For all of you who may have been watching, yes, that was indeed us on the big board. I think it might have been the thrill of his young life.


I am almost embarrassed to say this -- ok, I am fully embarrassed with this one -- but the wife dragged me to the Nanny Diaries on Sunday night. Gents, you might want to declare girl's night if the Mrs. tries to do the same to you. That's all I gotta say on that topic. Even Scarlet Johnanson couldn't make this one palatable.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Almost There

Today marks exactly one year ago from starting my diet/going hypo in anticipation of my first treatment. My, how much things can change in one year. Last year at this time I was struggling to walk around the block. Today, I ran my usual 4.5 mile trail run on the Miwok/Coyote Ridge. While this is normally a killer run which involves lots of walking, today I crushed it, which was real surprising especially as I still have this nasty chest cold. My eCycling classes are killing me, but starting to pay major divideds fitness wise. This is a heavy training weekend: 3 hour bike/1/2 hour run tomorrow and a 1.5 hour swim/1.5 hour run on Sunday. After that, I begin to taper. I'm looking forward to getting this race out of the way.

Shout out to my main man JT who took the Hot Pill today. Godspeed JT; you are almost at the finish line. Shout out too to the Best-Mother-In-Law, who starts radiation treatment next week. Too much damn cancer in this world.

I'm typing this while watching the movie Zodiac. Pretty good so far, but very long. Interesting perspective of 70's era San Francisco. Definitely worth renting. Any other rentals out there that anyone recommends? I'm travelling to Atlanta next week for work and need to burn some movies to help pass the travel time.

Anyone read Omnivores Dilemna by Michael Pollan? I noted that it comes out in paperback on Monday and am thinking about picking it up.

I've picked up a lot of interesting new music. Will do some music reviews later this weekend, if I have the energy to type.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Yesterday I wrote about Portfolio, which got me thinking about magazines. I'm a pretty voracious consumer of media, which I consider this an important part of my job. That said, I looked at my counter yesterday having recently returned from vacation, and was just stunned at how much space magazines occupy in our home. Then I got to thinking about our subscriptions. It's staggering. Here they are, in no particular order:

Ultra Runner
Men's Journal
Men's Vogue
Sports Illustrated
The Week
Sport's Illustrated for Kid's (for The Boy, obviously)

Then there is The Wife's contribution:

Travel and Leisure
Food and Wine
Entertainment Weekly
Vanity Fair

Pretty impressive, ewh? Can anyone out there top that subscription wise?

As noted, these are merely the magazines to which we subscribe: other stalwarts which I generally buy at the newstand include New Yorker (my newest favorite), GQ, National Geographic, Runners World, and Inside Triathlon. Then there's the technology publications I read for work but for the purposes of this posting, we'll leave them out for now.

If I had to narrow down to five, they'd be: Time or Newsweek, Outdoors, New Yorker, GQ and Ultra Runner.

How's that for diverse?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Back Home

Well, that was quite the cross country jaunt: one night in Brooklyn, one day in NJ, and two days in Lake George. It's always great to see family -- we don't see them nearly enough given where we live and the fact that virtually everyone short of my sister and brother-in-law lives in the New York metropolitan area, but I gotta say that going cross country for a four day trip isn't easy. Apologies to all my East Coast friends who I wasn't able to see: this was a last second trip and as noted, a quick in and outer. Not to mention, it seems as if whenever I go away for a short break, work beckons in a big way. Note to self: book an annual vacation out of the country, preferably in a developing nation that doesn't get GSM or 3G signals.
The Adirondack Mountains in NY is really a gem of an area. It's the nation's largest State park (not national, but State) and if you enjoy the outdoors, then it's an East Coast nirvana for Winter (cross country skiing, access to Vermont skiing just an hour away) and Summer (sailing, boating, trail running, hiking) activities. My favorite activity there, aside from open water swimming, is the hiking. It's very different from West Coast trails, in that Adirondack hikes are typically big, gnarly ascents up craggy mountain faces, featuring big vertical gains. West Coast trails are longer and a bit more meandering and while there's a fair amount of climbing here too, it's more gradual. Anyway, great trip overall and again, good to see the family and all the nieces and nephews.
In regards to previous posts, the Howard Solomon Race for Thyroid Cancer: which I am renaming the Howard Solomon, JT and CrazyMama Race for Thyroid Cancer (JT and CrazyMama: I intend to make my donation to ThyCa in all three of our respecitve names, if that's cool by you) can take place on your choice of September 8th or 9th. Biking counts too -- what the heck. There's no rules to this thing. The point is to get everyone out there doing something aerobic. Michael B has an awesome idea: please email a photo of you before, after or during your respective *event* and I will post on an accessible gallery.
For all you magazine readers out there: I sugges the new issue of Portfolio. It's an interesting magazine, well written, but I'm not sure what the target is quite yet or if has the "legs" it takes to succeed over the long haul. But the articles are definitely interesting and they have some top tier contributing writers.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Random Musings

One more reminder that we are t-minus 2.5 weeks to the Inaugural Howard Solomon Run for Thyroid Cancer. As a reminder: this is a "virtual" race that you can do from the comfort of your own home. The "groundrules" are simple: run as many miles as possible, and I will be making a single donation to ThyCa in our collective names based on the aggregate mileage. Pretty easy, right? Ok, one more time: please leave a roll call as to how many miles you intend to go. I am hoping for 500 in the collective.

Today was the Annual Swim to The Lake, as noted in my previous post. It's about a 1.2 mile swim from the dock to an Island in the middle of Lake George. Took about 35 minutes or so of swimming time, and once we landed on the Island we had a little breakfast, followed by a treasure hunt for the little man (he had to collect a white stone, pine comb, round rock, and an acorn). Afterwards, we kayaked back home. This is one of my favorite "events" of the Summer and is quickly becoming our own little annual event.

Watched Entourage last night; I thought it was a great episode: one of the two three of this season. Watched my new favorite show of the Summer, too: The Pickup Artist, which is on Monday's nights at 9:00 on VH1. It repeats several times per week and is highly recommended. Not quite on the same level as Rock Star Supernova, but awfully close.

Lastly, I saw SuperBad the other night. I thought it was going to be as funny, if not more so, than Knocked Up, but alas, it wasn't. I'd give it a solid 6 or 7 as it was fairly entertaining, but I expected it to be much funnier.

Monday, August 20, 2007

adirondacks, NY

Greetings from upstate New York. I decided last minute to fly in for a quick visit and to pick up the family. This is a very nice and highly underrated part of the world. My in laws have had a home here for years and I really have grown to love it here. This morning my father in law and I climbed Prospect Mountain which is one of my favorite hikes in the world. I will post some great pictures later in the week. Tomorrow we will dobour annual Swim To The Island in which I swim about 2 miles in to a neighboring island while my father in law and the Boy swim along side me. Once we arrive at thebisland we have breakfast and go for a hike. It is super cool. Pictures on this to follow too.

By the way this is my first posting done entirely on the iPhone. It is passeable but a pain in the ass. Please excuse any typos.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bolinas, CA

My real good buddy Wiley, one of my closest friends from college, is in town, and on a lark we decided to go tofor a walk in Muir Woods and then dinner in Bolinas. Take the time to check out this link.

I'm not quite certain why I haven't written about Bolinas before, but without a doubt, it is my favorite town in California and maybe in the continental US.

I'm not sure how to even describe Bolinas: it's completely off the beating track (it's literally almost off the grid), and a step back in time to the 60's. The locals are so protective/parochial they are known to take down all road signs that point to Bolinas. It's a cross between a seafaring town and a hippie ("counterculture") artist community. To get there, you pretty much need to know exactly where you are going.

We went to one of my favorite restaurants, Coastal Cafe, which has amazing locally produced organic food (Wiley asked the waitress her recommendation and she said, and I quote, "The salmon, definitely. The owner caught it this afternoon") and is completely lacking in pretense. A 32 year local (a "bon vivant" according to Wiley) sat at the table next to us and ended up giving a fascinating hour and half discourse on the town, covering nearly its entire history as well as an overview of local residents (ranging from acclaimed reggae artists to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to Oscar winning directors). Wiley and I both agreed that we could have listened to his tales for hours. Suffice to say, Bolinas is rich in history and certainly rich in charm. If you are ever in town, place it high on your to do list.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Napa Valley

In the winter of 06 I took an eCycling class that broke me down so completely that I got a cold that I simply couldn't shake. I eventually went to the doctor, who confirmed that I had bronchitis. While there, he noticed a lump in my neck. And the rest is history.

While I've told this story before, the only reason why I am bringing it up again is because I am currently taking an eCycling class, which has once again broken me down, and yet again I have a nasty ass cold that I can't shake. This time, however, for karmic reasons, I am not going to any doctor. Let the chips fall where they may.

But man, between these classes and Epic Training weekend with Jeff, have I gotten myself sick.

On to a different topic. Today was our office summer outing, which was a hoot. We rented this old, dilapidated, psychedelic 1965 party bus and toured some wineries in Napa, including Beringer (a client) who treated us to a special tour and lunch; Castellano de Amarosa, whoch is a gigantic castle which took 15 years to build and is a site to behold (though the wine was only fair), and another one in Sonoma whose name eludes me. I am not the biggest wine fanatic in the world (that honor would go to my good friend Rob) but I know enough to know what I like (mostly California Pinot's and Cabs) and it's always fun doing tastings at the different wineries. if you've never before been to Napa, it's worth the trip and it's only about an hour from our house if you are in the neighborhood.

Anyway, some random TV throughts and musings:

-- John From Cinci got cancelled. Gee, what a shocker. That show was virtually unwatchable. I

-- Tonight I watched The Hills. That show rules, but not quite as much as Laguna Beach. I"m not sure what
is better about The Hills; the characters, or the music. Both take cheesiness to new levels.

-- The Pickup Artist on VH1 has been getting rave reviews. I'm going to watch the first episode in about a half hour. I am especially excited about this as the characters come from one of my favorite books of the past few years: The Pickup Artist, by Neil Strauss. If you haven't read this and are looking for a fun, light, entertaining summer book, this is the one.

-- I am preparing for a long flight(s) and need something good to watch. Anyone watch season 2 of Weeds? if so, thoughts?

That's it for now. Gotta go take my millionth Airborne.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Coping with Cancer Article in Today's NY Times

I am not sure if I fully subscribe to the premise in the following article, which appears in the Science section of today's New York Times, but there are definitely elements that resonate. If you have a moment, this is certainly a worthwhile read.

Published: August 14, 2007
Can getting cancer make you happy? For Betty Rollin, survivor of two breast cancers, there’s no question about it. In her newest book, “Here’s the Bright Side,” Ms. Rollin recounts:

“I woke up one morning and realized I was happy. This struck me as weird. Not that I didn’t have all kinds of things to be happy about — love, work, good health, enough money, the usual happy-making stuff. The weird part is, I realized that the source of my happiness was, of all things, cancer — that cancer had everything to do with how good the good parts of my life were.”

Her realization is hardly unique. I have met and read about countless people who, having faced life-threatening illness, end up happier, better able to appreciate the good things and people in their lives, more willing to take the time to smell the roses.

As Ms. Rollin put it: “It turns out there is often — it seems very often — an astonishingly bright side within darkness. People more than survive bum raps: they often thrive on them; they wind up stronger, livelier, happier; they wake up to new insights and new people and do better with the people around them who are not new. In short, they often wind up ahead.”

This is not to suggest that battling cancer is pleasurable. Frustration, anger and grief are natural reactions. Cancer forces people to put their lives on hold. It can cause considerable physical and emotional pain and lasting disfigurement. It may even end in death.

But for many people who make it through, and even for some who do not, the experience gives them a new perspective on life and the people in it. It is as if their antennas become more finely tuned by having faced a mortal threat.

As a woman with incurable ovarian cancer recounted this spring in The New York Times: “I treat every day as an adventure, and I refuse to let anything make me sad, angry or worried. I live for the day, which is something I never did before. Believe it or not, I’m happier now than I was before I was diagnosed.”

Sometimes such changes happen to those who live through the cancer experiences of others. My mother died at age 49 of ovarian cancer, and I went off to college thinking that every moment was precious, to be used productively both for personal betterment and for what I could offer to the world. At 18 I wrote a speech on preparing one’s own epitaph — about being able to say that however long your life, you lived it fully and made it count for something meaningful.

Now, 48 years later, as people I know succumb to intractable illness or sudden death, I am even more attuned to the need to savor every moment and do whatever I can to make the world a better place and nurture relationships with friends and family.

Michael Feuerstein, a clinical psychologist and author with Patricia Findley of “The Cancer Survivor’s Guide,” was 52 when he was told he had an inoperable brain tumor and was given a year to live. But Dr. Feuerstein didn’t die — he survived extensive debilitating treatment and gained a new outlook.

He wrote: “I now realize that I am fortunate. Now, after the cancer, I find I can more easily put life in perspective. I re-evaluated my workload, opting to spend more time at home. I take more time for what matters to me most: my wife and my children and grandchild. I also allocate time to better understand cancer survivorship from a scientific point of view, so I can help others in my situation translate this work into useful answers to the question, ‘now what?’ I am optimistic about the future and excited to leave my unique mark on the world.”

‘A Second Life’

When it comes to leaving a mark on the world, Lance Armstrong takes first prize. After surviving treatment for testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain, Mr. Armstrong went on to win the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times.

“There are two Lance Armstrongs, precancer and post,” he recounted in his 2001 memoir, “It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back To Life.” “In a way, the old me did die, and I was given a second life.” He created a foundation to inspire and empower people affected by cancer, helping them live life on their own terms.

“Cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me,” he said. “I don’t know why I got the illness, but it did wonders for me, and I wouldn’t want to walk away from it.”

Likewise, Fran Lenzo wrote in the magazine Coping: “Breast cancer has given me a new life. Breast cancer was something I needed to experience to open my eyes to the joy of living. I now see more of the world than I was choosing to see before I had cancer. The things that once seemed so important, like keeping a clean home, are less important. My priorities now are to enjoy everything around me to the utmost. Breast cancer leaves me no time for personality conflicts, arguments, debates or controversy. Breast cancer has taught me to love in the purest sense.”

Finding Happiness

There’s no question that cancer, whether curable or ultimately fatal, changes lives. It forces some people to give up careers and may jeopardize their ability to earn a living. It leaves some people disabled and unable to pursue athletic or other ambitions requiring physical prowess. It leaves some people unable to bear or father children. Yet, time after time, even people who have lost so much find new and often better sources of fulfillment.

Recurring cancer and the extensive treatment it required forced Dr. Wendy Schlessel Harpham of Dallas to give up her beloved medical practice. So she turned her sights to writing, producing book after book that can help people with cancer achieve the best that medicine and life can offer them.

Dr. Harpham is a 16-year survivor of recurrent chronic lymphoma. In her latest book, “Happiness in a Storm: Facing Illness and Embracing Life as a Healthy Survivor,” she states: “Without a doubt, illness is bad, yet survivorship — from the time of diagnosis and for the balance of life — can include times of great joy among the hardships. You can find happiness. Chances are the opportunities for happiness are right in front of you.”

She suggests creating a “personal happiness list” to help you remember favorite pastimes and reintroduce former delights into your life. Or perhaps you might want to explore activities that in your precancer life, you thought you had no time for, like studying a foreign language, traveling for pleasure or spending more time with friends.

“You might need to explore different ways of seeing yourself and the world around you,” Dr. Harpham writes. “In doing so, you discover new types of happiness waiting to be tapped, such as the happiness of sharing invigorating ideas and nascent hopes with new friends, or the happiness of knowing love in a whole new way.

“Happiness in a storm,” she concludes, “is never about enjoying your illness but embracing your life within the limits of your illness, and figuring out how to feel happy whenever possible.”

Monday, August 13, 2007

Random Thoughts and Questions

For starters: if the event you are reading this my new friend JT, best of luck with your impending treatment. May it go quickly, effortlessly and most important -- successfully.

Epic training weekend indeed kicked my ass and left me with a nasty ass cold that has me all congested. I can't think too well and am utterly exhausted, so just a few top of mind random thoughts and questions.

-- anyone have any good books or music that they recommend? I am in need of both -- most especially a good book, preferably non-fiction.

-- on the topic of music, two albums I highly recommend: the new Apparat and Okkervil River. I am not sure how to describe either of them: if interested, look them both up at Pitchfork, by the way, is one of my top ten favorite websites.

-- on the same topic, another great site is This one covers hollywood/celebrity shenanigans and gossip in a snarky but humorous manner. I guarantee once you check this one out it will end up in your bookmarks

-- Patagonia summer sale is going on right now at both retail and online. Check it out on The bi-annual Patagonia sale rules and there is are some great values, but if you are interested check it out soon as the good stuff goes quickly.

-- I was in Silicon Valley all day today for business. If you are a hard core tech geek like me, there's no place in the world more exciting and interesting than Silicon Valley. You can almost feel the energy of the place. Though it's a bit of schlep from Marin (I was out my door at 6:30 am for a 9:30 meeting with a quick pit stop at my office) I enjoy every visit. I am going to dedicate a separate column on this topic at a later date.

-- For all you Michigan sports fans, my brother Neil has agreed to pen a column on his analysis and prediction for this year's Michigan football squad. Neil: you have a deadline of EOD Thursday and I'll post on Friday am.

-- Lastly, the demise of Team Discovery has left me really, really bummed out. I thought for sure that an 11th hour white knight such as HP or perhaps Thomas Weisel was going to step up to the plate but I guess the sport has truly become toxic. What a huge bummer: Alberto, Yaroslev, Levi, Georgie and the boys all need to find new teams. Most of the fun in viewing the tour is pulling for the team -- more so than individual riders -- and I don't know who I will adopt moving forward. I might have to give Jonathan Vaughter's Slipstream a closer look. Sad times indeed for the great sport of cycling but in the end, I genuinely believe that in order for it to prevail, it needs to go through a major rinse cycle.

Anyway, gotta go and take yet another Airborne.

More tomorrow.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Epic Training Weekend Part 2

Well, thus concludes Epic training weekend. Thankfully, too. Not that I didn't have a great time with Jeff -- I did -- but it kicked my ass, both literally and figuretively. I'm feeling a chest cold coming on and I'm too tired to get off the couch and up to bed. That said, I'm feeling ready to rock and roll come September 9th. An 11 hour training week will do wonders for your confidence.

Beyond that, not too much to report. The weather has been unseasonably warm for this time fo the year (mid 70's and blue skies; really unusual for August in SF) and it's been a good Summer. I'm officially missing the Wife and Kids and look foward to their return.

On a sports-related note, there is a pennant race taking shape and my Yankees have been absolutely killing it these past few weeks. The offense is coming together, the pitching staff has been putting together some solid performances and per usual, Mariano has been unhittable. The Yanks are only four back of the BoSox and things are going to get very interesting. I still think the Red Sox are the team to beat -- they are solid in every department and the Eric Gagne pickup was big -- but never write off the Yankees. I am just hoping for a wild card berth. Stay tuned for more; this should be interesting. I'm even more excited about this baseball season now that my son has officially become a fan.

On the subject of sports, Michigan football is around the corner, too, but I'll save my thoughts on this subject for a different post. In fact, I think I will have my brother Neil, arguably the biggest Michigan fan of all-time, pen a guest column.

You on that, Neil?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Epic Training Weekend - Day 2 Recap

Wowza. That was a tough one. In the world of triathlon, "brick" training workouts (bike, followed immediately by run) are regarded as a necessary evil, but in the 11 years that I've been in this sport, and with all the crazy training I have done over the years, today's double brick (bike run bike run) marks a first. And of course, wouldn't you know that on top of it, today also happened to be our hottest day of the summer. Summer in San Francisco is straight up bizarre relative to where I come from, (NYC and Chicago, where Summer's are hot and muggy) and is normally one of our three worst months of the year, average temperature wise. This season, however, has been unseasonably warm and it was upwards of 80 most of the day which didn't make for a lot of fun, especially while out on the run.

All of that said, overall, I felt really strong for most of the day (with the exception of the last mile of the run, in which I got bitten once again by a damn bee. This is my second weekend of getting bitten -- two weeks ago I got three bee bites on my chest while mountain biking). Without doubt, this is the best shape I have been in since moving to the Bay Area, and I am cautiously optimistic that I'm going to be good to go for the Big Kahauna, aka Howard Solomon Run for Thyroid Cancer, which is in less than one month.

Anyway, the highlight of the day wasn't even remotely the trainig, but rather getting to hang out with my good buddy Jeff. The nice thing about training this hard is you get to eat to your hearts content, which is exactly what we did, and we ended the evening with a superb 2000 Napa Cab. I am far from a oenephile, but I'm learning that there is nothing quite like a big bold Napa cabernet.

Tomorrow we're going to do a 2 mile masters swim, followed by hour trail run.

I suspect an afternoon nap is going to be in order at some point as well.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Day After The Day After

Thanks everyone, for the cascade of good wishes. My apologies for not getting back to many of you in a timely fashion: since my doctor's appointment on Wednesday I've been travelling non stop between San Diego (I love that City) and LA.

Now that the news has settled in a bit, I remain pretty upbeat, but I do have questions, the biggest being, how could two relatively renowned doctor's be so far apart in terms of their recommendations? The Wednesday appointment is the outcome I had been seeking, and my gut says this is the way to go, but in a certain sense, one of them is likely to be wrong. My father-in-law, who's a doctor himself, has a saying he uses frequently when asked medicine-related questions. He says, "who really knows?" when asked tough questions, and I always thought that might be him not knowing the answer, but now I realize he is 100 percent correct. The bottom line is doctor's examine the evidence, make suppositions based on the presented facts, and arrive at treatment based on this. The fact of the matter is, he's right -- at the end of the day, who really does know except for the Man upstairs?

Wow, that was existential.

One other thing as related to Cancer. Someone said to me the other day, "Congrats. You are cured!"

That's not how I am looking at things at all. Far from it. The way that I am perceiving this is that there's no present evidence of disease and as a result, we are going to take a wait and see approach. I am fully cognizant that I am one bad TG test away from being back to square one here (btw -- I get those results in a few short days). I'm an optimistic person in general, but the one thing I have learned about this is there's no monster more insidious than cancer, and it pays to keep an overall optimistic manner, tempered with a realistic dose of pragmatism (not sure if any of this makes sense, but please note I had a 18 hour days yesterday and my sleep addled brain isn't thinking very clearly).

The most ironic thing about all this health stuff is that I've never felt better. My training is going really well for the first time in years, and I am starting to feel really fit. And with that in mind, tonight officially kicks off Epic Training Weekend. Jeff arrives tonight and we'll kick things off with a pm swim, followed by our big day tomorrow: 20 mile bike followed by 4 mile run followed by 20 mile bike followed by 3 mile run. IF we are feeling good, we might throw in another 20 on the bike and 2 run. Sunday's workout is 1.5 hour masters swim followed by hour trail run.

How's that for Epic? Stay tuned for pictures.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Cancer Update: Really Good News

Wow. What a morning. I am not sure where to begin.

Earlier today I met with the leading endocrinologist at UCSF, who was recommended to me by my surgeon, Dr. Clark. It took me two months to get this appointment.

My intention was to a. get a second opinion as to whether he concurred with my next course of action (going hypo, 100 milicure treatment dose of radiation in December) and b. to get his thoughts on whether I should use Thyrogen, which is a quasi-experimental drug that's increasingly being used in lieu of going off thyroid medications.

We spent an hour together and he went through my entire history; everything from my initial diagnosis to my neck, to my thyroidectomy, treatement dose, hip scan, April 30 scan results, subsequent MRI, CT, PET and ultrasound results, etc.

As he looked at my records he kept saying "good, good" and "excellent." I told him to keep the "excellents" coming but that I was fine with "goods" as well. He laughed and responded that he wished most of his patients had results similiar to mine.

I could probably recap the entire conversation, but here is what it came down to:

-- results of my recent scans, most especially my neck ultrasound, compounded with my positive blood results (he was especially pleased that my TG was undetectable when I was hypo back in April; he said this was a *very* positive sign) lead him to conclude that there is no evidence of thyroid disease in my system

-- he's not overly concerned about my positive scan in April and thinks that the treatment dose of radiation might have had a latent affect

-- he does not think I need a treatment or scan dose in December based on the current lack of evidence of disease

-- instead, he recommends another neck ultrasound in December and regular bloodwork (I had another TSH/TG test today) and to regularly monitor things in this manner. If irregularities ultimately arise (TG rises, ultrasound shows a bad node), we'll deal with it appropriately

All in all: I could not have asked for better news. In fact, it far exceeded my expectations for this meeting. While I would not go so far as to say I am out of the woods, I am on Cloud Nine at the moment.

I cannot express how much dismayed I was of the prospect of a. going hypo again (which probably would not have been the case as he would have given me the thyrogen shots) b. having to clear the family out of the house again for another big treatment dose and c. having to wait six months after that for a clear bill of health.

And then, there's the not so small matter of ingesting another 100 milicures of highly potent radiation, which was a prospect I obviously did not relish.

So, there you have it. While I'm not ready to change the name of this blog quite yet, this is a big, big, big step in the right direction.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Old Man Speaks: Weekend Recap with the Grandkids

This past weekend was one of the rare occasions in which all five Solomon grandkids were together under one roof. In this instance, the roof was my parents house in New Jersey. I thought it would make good blog fodder, so asked my father to write a recap from his own, unique perspective.

Per usual, I haven't made any edits. All typos, non-sequiturs, dangling participles, and grammatical mistakes belong to the author. All part of his charm, however. So, without further ado, I bring you:

GUESS WHO CAME TO DINNER (and stayed for breakfast and lunch)

Came home after work thurs. to the sight of the flying west coast Solomon kids(Zevan and Summer). They were jumping from chair to sofa to whatever without touching the ground. They are each so light they really seemed to hang in the air;something like Air Jordan in white.They are huggers and clingers which is just what this grandpa needs.

Next day uncle Scott and I take off from work to provide the entertainment.Scott arrives with his 2 terrorists (Ben and Lila). When Ben and Zevan met it was instant happiness/bedlam.One is the architect and the other the engineer of mayhem but I cannot figure which is which.

The girls started out a little more tentative;Lila being a small volcano ready to erupt at the slightest provocation and Summer , who surely gets in her licks when deemed necessary

The pleasure dome in the hot weather was the pool.Both girls discovered the diving board (in this case jumping board) and found a new lifeThe boys were fish-like.

Scott really stepped up to the occasion.Bowling (ben took 1st. place) and a batting cage where Z displayed a very good swing. Remember, the bat is about as wide as he is and almost as heavy.Z is into baseball. He and I watched the Yankee game where each team scored 8 runs in one inning. The next am he found a rebroadcast but didn,t realize it so he shouts to me "they are doing it again"

Sleepovers abounded. Z slept anywhere he was invited. Summer tried our house but changed her mind and had April pick her up. She said our house was nice but aunt Jills was better. I had to agree.She did sleepover in Lila's house though.

Sat. brings grandkid #5; the irresistible Josie and uncle Neil and aunt Julie. Josie calls her father uncle Neilly because that's what the cousins call him.Now we are in full swing.Five Solomon kids in same pool. The water getting warmer .In some spots it feels like there are thermal springs. No matter, just don't swallow.

Cannot leave out grandma Ida. She cooked more different meals than the chefs at the U.N. brownies ,muffins ,blueberry pie. Oh my.

Sunday . a short ride to Adam and Jills where activities continue ;soccer,baseball (Ben takes a line drive to the cheek and gives out the old stand by response "I want my mommie") Summer is a pro on the monkey bars, she climbed back and forth like it was nothing.

Soon the party is over. Z and Summer head for the lake with the other grandparents, doc and Ann Silk who just arrived from Prague where they were checing out old Synagogues.


Monday, August 6, 2007

Great Movies

For some reason we were discussing movies at work today, which got me thinking of great movies that I could watch time and again. I will the first to admit that while I have an appreciation for "film" in the classic sense of the word, my personal tastes are somewhat lowbrow. My criteria is fairly simple: I like movies that make me laugh, and I like movies where lots of shit gets blown up. I've taken loads of abuse from friends on this, but what can I say -- I guess at the end of the day, I'm a relatively simple man.

Anyway, following is a list of 10 movies that I have seen at least 10 times -- and could probably watch another 10. Note they are in no particular order; they are all favorites.

1. Godfather I and II
2. Apocalypse Now
3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
4. Die Hard I
5. The Breakfast Club
6. Old School
7. Animal House
8. Wedding Crashers
9. Pulp Fiction
10. Casino

I'm sure I am missing some glaringly obvious ones (e.g. Zoolander, Pretty in Pink or pretty much anything by John Hughes. Hey, what can I say? I am a child of the 80's), but this is a good representation of some all-time classics and personal favorites.

Let's hear from you -- what would you add to the list if we had to add 10 more?

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Bachelor Status Update 2

Let me start by saying this: I miss the family very much. I wish they were here. Truly and sincerely.

That being said -- damn amdI enjoying my "alone time." It's been so long since I could do whatever the hell I want (one year to be precise; about the time they left for the same trip East last year) that I've nearly forgotten the things one could do when left to their own devices. My weekend activities consisted of:

--post-work swim, followed by a mellow meal at the conter of one of my favorite Italian restaurants followed by chilling at home with Howard (Stern) TV

-- the Marin Metric century (62 miles -- though my odometer said 65). Boy, was this some ride. We went from San Rafael up to Petaluma and back, through some of the most beautiful country roads one could imagine. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take any pictures except at the finish line, as I needed to reserve all my energy so that I could haul my sorry ass up the five monster climbs. That ride knocked the stuffing out of me -- I think there was in excess of 4,000 feet of climbing -- but I'd do it again tomorrow; it was that much fun. All you cyclists out there: mark this one on your calender for next year.

-- came home, took a nap. A long, deep REM nap.

-- woke up, went to my favorite seafood restaurant, had a tuna ahi japanese bowl, and then walked down to the local theater to see Bourne Ultimatum (sorry Jeff, couldn't wait). It was very entertaining in a brainless, summer movie kind of way.

-- came home, had a glass of wine and off to bed

-- woke up and drove to Novato for a 1.5 hour master's swim. This swim, which is held every Sunday am from 9-10:30 am, is one of my favorite things in the world.

-- came home, ate a burrito, and headed down to Nordstrom for their annual sale (what can I say? I am a guy who likes to shop).

-- came home, took another long, deep REM nap

-- woke up, was bored, went for a five mile run

As soon as I am done with this, I'll taker a few sections of the Sunday New York Time's to my favorite chinese restaurant, and eat about 40 dumplings, because I think I burned about 10,000 calories this weekend, literally.

So, all in all, not a bad weekend, eh?

If I could do this every weekend I'd be:

1. in the sickest shape ever
2. well rested
3. bored out of my freaking skull.

Well, two out of three ain't so bad.

Friday, August 3, 2007

My Morning

Imagine this: you've worked back-to-back 16 hours days on the heels of a badass 6:00 am cycling class right after returning from a four day whirlwind trip to Chicago-Sout Bend-Chicago. In a nutshell: you're tired. Real tired. And relishing a good night's sleep for the first time in literaly one week.

So, you open the windows to feel the cool NorCal breeze and go to sleep around 11:00, mindful of your 6:15 am wake up call. All is good. Until 4:36 am, when you are jolted out of bed by the high pitched chirp you can imagine, followed by a stentorian voice saying "Warning. Low battery. Warning. Low battery."

You look around and note that it could be any one of six freaking fire/carbon monoxide detectors - or, it just might be your fancy alarm system.

Or better yet, maybe it's just an anomoly. So, you do the normal guy thing and go back to sleep.

For another seven minutes, when you are once again rudely awoken by the same message. Only this time you swear it got a tad bit louder.

So, you call the alarm company. Looking at the clock : 4:52 am. The alarm company says "It's the spare battery in the outside crawl space. It needs to be replaced. But no worries. All you need to do is hit your alarm code, followed by XXX and it will disable the alarm for the next 12 hours."

Right on. 20 minutes of lost sleep. No harm, no foul.

Back to bed.

For seven minutes, until your next battery warning/wake up call. Now you are worried about waking up your house guests (of which there are six).

Time to deal with the crawl space.

Crawl space? You didn't known you even possesed one.

So, you do what you have to do and call the House Manager (Wife) who's in NYC at 7:45 am her time.

"Who died" she asks.

"Unfortunately, your alarm"" you retort.

You grab a half dying flashlight (catching the leit motif here?) and go outside in your raggedy ass shorts, no shirt and flip flops. It is 52 degrees and 5:12 am. You find the crawl space, peel the skin off your fingers trying tp pry it open and The House Manager directs you to the battery. In the dark, you fumble your brand new phone (no, not the iPhone) and it dissasembles itself on the ground. But alas, you find the battery pack, and you disconnect it.

All is good. Despite the fact that you are at level 12 on a 1-10 annoyance scale, you are feeling somewhat good about yourself. You fixed something. You are a man.

You go back to bed with a semi smile on your face. It's 5:24. You quickly fall back asleep.

For seven more minutes.

You are now facing a dire situation. You are looking at the fire alarm, which is literally in the crevice of your cathedral ceiling, 20 feet from the floor.

Desperate times require desperate measure. You go downstairs, grab a bar stool, delicately balance it on the Wife's nighttable, and navigate a move that would make the Wallenda's proud. You grab that fu*&*^((& alarm and tear its sorry ass out of the wall. You carefully make your way down your jerry rigged ladder, recognizing that one wrong move might very well cost you your life.

You look at the clock. It is 5:43.

You stare at the clock for seven minutes straigh without blinking.

The beautiful sound of nothingness.

Epic Training Weekend

Not too much to report on the bachelor front. Last two days along I have worked 27 hours so I think that pretty much speaks for itself.

I know it';s very last minute, but you are all officially invited to fly to SF next weekend and join Jeff S and myself for the first annual (hopefully, annual) Epic Training Weekend. Probably good to get this out of the way while the wife and kids are out of town.

The tentative schedule, which is subject to modification, is as follows (btw -- hope this works for you Jeff S!):

Friday: hour swim

Saturday: 50 mile bike followed by tbd run (hour maybe?)

Sunday: 1.5 hour masters swim in Novato followed by hour trail run

Non-training activities to include:

-- viewing of Bourne Ultimatum (which, by the way, is the James Bond of the new millenium. I loved the books when I was a kid and I love the movies just as much)
-- lunch at the famous Joe's Taco
-- tbd dinner
-- beers at the famous Sweetwater Cafe

I anticipate that we will also be tasting some of Napa Valley's finest. Come one, come all, even if you just want to join for part of the non-training related festivities.

Joking aside, for all of you interested, I am thinking about twice annual NorCal training weekends. Email me if you are interested. You are invited too, dad.

Seaking of my father, be on the lookout for installment three of his ongoing series on Monday, Tuesday latest. This one is going to be titled "Five Grandkids in a Three Bedroom House, Or: The Flying Solomon's."

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Bachelor Status Update 1

I am sure many of you are pining to hear my tales of bachlerhood debauchery, now that I have been solo for five days. Here's just a sampling of the insanity that's occurred in Marin County, CA the past few days:

-- I blogged three times
-- had a beer with dinner tonight
-- slept to 7:02 today (!)

And that, my friends, is about the extent of the excitement in my life. Don't think much will change over the next three weeks, either. That said, I do expect to get in some pretty serious training in anticipation of the big race, which is slowly creeping up. Highlight this weekend is the Marin Century Ride, which covers some of the most beautiful terrain in the area. I will try to take pictures for my Sunday Pictorial. I'm only doing the metric century -- 62 miles --though the climbing promises to be pretty nasty. I have a feeling this one is going to feel like a 100.

On a different note, one of my closest friends in the world came in tonight from Detroit with his family and it's great to have kids back in the house. He and I just watched the last episode of Entourage and agree that while it might not be the single funniest episode ever, it's definitely up there.

Great new album that I recommend strongly to you music fans: New Young Pony Club (titled "Fantastic Playground"). I hadn't previously heard of them but they are kind of techno meets 80's new wave, and it's one fo the better and more interesting albums I have heard of late. The new St. Vincent ("Marry Me"), which is getting accolades in the music press, it aso highly recommended.

I was emailing with my father yesterday and he was telling me what it was like to have four hyperactive grandkids in the house at one time. It was pretty funny so I told him to take notes this weekend (it will be the rare occasion when all five grandkids should be together in one room/house) and write a recap for Monday, so stay tuned. Should be pretty interesting.