Thursday, October 30, 2008

Living

Everyone has the experienced the moment or time in place where they really feel like they are living. Or at least I hope they have. For some, it might be the thrill of skydiving. Maybe it's the thrill of high stakes poker. For others it might be watching their favorite team. I had one such moment earlier tonight. There I was standing on the track, running 2000 and 1000 meter repeats and sucking wind beyond belief. I'm standing there in the pitch black, not another human being in site wondering what in the hell I was doing -- when it started pouring rain (editors note: first rain in about six months). I just started laughing -- and ran another few laps. I couldn't help but smile; I was completely and utterly miserable but at the same time, there's no place I rather would have been.

(That said, enjoying a glass of scotch and watching The Office, which is what I am doing right now, is a pretty darn close second.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Interesting Night

So I am sitting outside at the new most excellent (organic) pizza place that just opened in town with Coach Phil and the owner of the restaurant. Coach Phil is a renowned beer brewer and the resident expert on all things beer related, so we were sampling some local microbrews . In walks an elderly couple who knows the owner. The Old Man sits down to join us in sampling the beers and I notice he's wearing a sweat shirt that says "Rat Dog." I jokingly ask him if he's a fan of the band (thinking maybe it was a brand of clothing I was unfamiliar with) and he says to me, "You know Rat Dog? That's my son's band." Turns out his son is Bobby Weir of Grateful Dead fame. So he proceeds to regale us with really interesting stories about the Man himself. Probably not a big deal for most of you, but if you are a fan of the Dead, it was pretty cool. Only in California.....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Five Year Anniversary

I talk a bit about my own bout with cancer but as many of you know, The Wife is a cancer survivor too, and today marks the fifth anniversary of her surgery for cervical cancer. Congrats, Wife, on this milestone, who's one tough lady. This day five years ago was one of the roughest days of both our lives. Without question, her diagnosis was tougher on me than my own. One memory I will never forget from that day was my boy Billy Z walking into the waiting room at the hospital, completely unannounced, and sitting with me for the duration of her three hour surgery. It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. So, thanks for that Diamond, if you are out there. And please leave a shout out for The Wife in comments if you would; I think she'd appreciate that.

That's about it for tonight. I had a 13 hour day in San Diego (where the weather was 80 degrees and freaking perfect; per usual and am shelled. Think I might also be coming down with something from all this freaking marathon training. More tomorrow.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Top Sporting Events

On the heels of my somewhat popular post from last week concerning my favorite concerts of all time comes another "list" -- this one being favorite sporting events I've attended in my lifetime. In no particular order, the list is as follows:

-- World Series game number five, 1997: Yankees vs. Dodgers. otherwise knows as the "Willie Randolph" game. Yanks won in a comeback, the stadium went berserk and sitting in the stands was one wide eyed little Kid. This one pretty much solidified my lifelong love affair with the Yankees. Thanks for that, Old Man.

-- Rose Bowl, Michigan vs. Washington, 1986. Otherwise knows as the Steve Emtman game. The dude beat us almost singlehandledly. Probably sounds weird to be listing a Michigan loss as one of my favorite games, but at the end of the day it really didn't matter much: it was my first Rose Bowl, I was there with my closest buddies and come to think of it, it was my first trip to California. Note that this entire list could probably consist of Michigan games, but at the end of the day this the one that really stood out.

-- The Hambeltonian, 1983. What in the world is the Hambeltonian you ask? Well, think of it as the Kentucky Derby of harness racing. I was big into horse racing in high school (I will allow my father to elaborate) and this was the big race of the year. Part of what stoked me about this is that my parents thought I was at SAT class but instead I was at the racetrack, where I proceeded to win $200. That might be about the most dangerous thing I ever did, which pretty much explains my high school years in a nutshell. Only downside to this short tale is that after this race, horse racing became a bit of a, umm, consuming passion for a few years. But alas, that's a story for another day.

-- The first time I saw Michael Jordan play live. Not sure what game it was; I saw him play dozens of times during my Chicago tenure (I even saw him at my gym, playing pickup games). It wasn't until that game though that I realized I was witnessing the modern day equivalent of Babe Ruth, and that this was an experience I'd one day share with my grandkids. And oh yeah: he scored fifty points that game. That much I do remember.

-- Every one of the Little Boy's baseball games. I don't mean this in a corny way either; I can't tell you how much pleasure I get out if watching him play baseball. It has nothing to do with how well he does or doesn't play (and I must say that he's constantly improving and getting pretty darn good). It's his complete and utter love of the game. The best part is the look in his eye after he makes a great play; it trumps any feeling I get out of watching professional sports.

But enough about me -- let's hear from the peanut gallery on this one.

--

Weather

This is the best time to be in the Bay Area; it is our Indian Summer and the weather is far nicer than our "regular" summer. It's just perfect out and if nothing else, a bit too hot. Saturday's temperature hit 88, which made for a rather uncomfortable 18 miler run, but that's a story for another day (my nine mile run yesterday wasn't much better). However, according to the weather this morning, the rainy season is upon us. The rain usually starts around now and ends in, oh April or so. It's not quite a bad as it sounds but there are moments when it becomes a bit much. One of the things I have learned these past three years is that California is a very tempermental State. Not enough rain and you quickly get wildfires and drought. Too much rain and you get mudslides and flooding. The Santa Ana winds blow in and all of a sudden a small fire becomes massive. We didn't have any of these problems in New Jersey. All that being said, and at the risk of sounding like a complete Homer, I do think this is the coolest State (and place) in the continental United States (that I have experienced, anyway) and if I had to move, I'd be bummed (to say the least).

In other news, one more week of Fall Ball (the Boy's baseball league). I am the coach and it's been a lot of fun but time to say goodbye to baseball and move on to other pastures. The Boy is obsessed with baseball to the point where it's a bit much; he needs a break. Almost halloween, too, which is always a lot fo fun. I'll post pictures from later in the week.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Random Thoughts

-- Anyone watch that new Christian Slater show? If so, thoughts? I've heard it's pretty good. Not sure if I have the bandwidth for another show, but I can be sold.

-- My boy Scooter raised a most excellent point in his comment: Yellowman was definitely concert number five on my list of best show. I've seen Yellowman dozens of times, mostly with Todd and Scooter, and each has been unbelieveable in their own right. I emailed with Yellowman a few years back; turns out he is a major Panerai (watch) collector, as I am (qualifier: I love the brand. I would not categorize myself though as a major collector).

-- Next week's "list" -- the top five sporting events I've attended of all time Put your thinking caps on now; this one requires some thought.

-- Best reality show of all-time? For me, Survivor. For my son, The Amazing Race. For the Wife, the Bachelor. Anything egregiously missing? (egregious just doesn't fit into context when applied to reality TV, does it?).

-- Just downloaded the new Cure album today. To me, the quintessential 80's band but not sure how they hold up today. Stand by for a review.

-- On the topic, I also downloaded Johnny Cash, Live from Folsom Prison. Has there ever been a better opening in the history of recorded music than "Hello. I'm Johnny Cash."?

-- Ran on the track with the kid's tonight. Workout consisted of 1/2 mile warmup followed by 2 x 400 at 6:00 minute pace, 1 x 1000 at 6:45 and 1 x 2000 at 7:30. then the whole thing again. It's harder than it sounds. The best thing though about my track nights is being out there with my kids. They absolutely love it; they throw a baseball around by themselves; they yell "go daddy, go" every time I pass by, and ever fourth lap or so they join me for a slow jog around the track. We have a great time together, it's become a weekly ritual and I am sure this is a memory that will last a lifetime. And I have to say, they both show great potential as runners, most especially the girl. She ran a quarter mile with me tonight at 8:00 pace and she was running pretty effortlessly.

Anyway -- that's about it for tonight.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Favorite Concerts of All-Time

I went for a run tonight after a very long day, and was listening to The Clash, who have a new album out, The Clash Live from Shea Stadium. Hard to believe that the Shea Stadium show was more than 25 years ago -- especially as I was there. Which got me to thinking of my all-time favorite shows. Without a whole lot of thought, I'd list them as follows:

4. My first Grateful Dead show at RFK in 1985 or so. It wasn't that it was that spectacular of a Dead show; I went on to see another 20 plus shows, many of which had much better sets, but this one was, shall we say, enlightening. Love 'em or hate 'em, there was nothing like the experience of a Dead show. Nothing. Hard to believe that I live in the same town/county as most of the Dead. I've even seen Bobby Weir at our local pool.

3. U2 Live at Pier 84, circa 1980. This was right after the debut album, Boy, and there could not have been more than 2,000 people in attendance. It wasn't remotely sold out. In fact, at the time I was just as excited to see the opening band, The Alarm ("The Stand"). If I am not mistaken it was one of their first US shows and they were absolutely transcendent. There was no question they were going to be a major, major, arena-style band and even at a relatively young age, Bono was tremendously charismatic. This was a show for the ages.

2. The above Clash show, live from Shea. This was my first big arena show and the Clash were and remain today my favorite band of all-time. This was one of the best line-ups ever: David Johansen, followed by Black Uhuru, followed by the Clash and then The Who. In the pouring, driving rain. And while The Clash were beyond fantastic, The Who put on quite the show as well. I still get chills thinking of their rendition of "Love Reign O'er Me" in the rain. Epic.

1. The Smashing Pumpkin's Last Show in Chicago, circa 2004 (I think). Not sure if it was the fact that it was a much heralded show and yet I managed to somehow get a ticket though my good buddy. In the VIP section. Where I proceeded to befriend and hang out all night with actor Bill Zane. Who invited me to the after party. Where I hung with Bill Corgan until 3 in the morning (see why it's my favorite show of all-time?). But all that being said, the music carried the day. The Pumpkin's played all their classic, they played 'em loud and they were having a lot of fun. It wasn
't at all funeral, but rather a celebration of their work.

Anyway, there's more -- a lot more -- but those are four that really stand out. But enough about me -- what about y'all?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

One Cool Dude

When I was traveling last Wednesday on a most insufferable flight from Chicago to Albany (replete with three hour delay) I started reading my new issue of UltaRunning. The guy next to me turned and said "UltraRunning. Cool." When your seat mate says something to that effect, you're off and running. Turns out this guy was formerly both an ex ski pro and an ex mountain bike pro who currently lives in Park City, Utah. He regaled me literally for hours with stories of racing against Lance, Dave Wiens and other legends of cycling; he told me stories of getting lost after dark while mountain biking and having to sleep out in the wilderness; he told me stories of riding 240 freaking miles in a single 24 hour solo race. 240 miles on trails! That is incomprehensible!

Simply put, he was one gnarly dude.

He now has a dream job; he is director of sales for Rocky Mountain bikes. Coincidentally, I own a Rocky Mountain mountain bike, so we chatted about that for oh, about another two hours or so. He was travelling around the country visiting "accounts" (read: bike shops) and was showing his 09 line up ("showing" petty much consisting of taking clients out on epic rides on beautiful terrain).

Now, I love my job and all - I really do -- but man oh man, was I jealous when I got off the plane. There truly is something to be said about marrying your passion with your job and in this instance, I've never seen a better example.

I know what you might be thinking "Yeah, but does he really make any money?"

My answer: who freaking cares. To live in Park City, ride mountain bikes across killer terrain virtually every ay and then incorporate that into your work life? There's only one way to describe that.

Word.

Good on you, Cool Mountain Biking Dude from Park City ( I never did catch his name). Maybe in my next life........

Monday, October 20, 2008

Things I like

Couple of things I have been enjoying of late:

-- Born Standing Up, Steve Martin's autobiography. This was voted top ten book of the year by many reviewers, for very good reason. It's now out in paperwork and it's a very quick, very enjoyable read.

-- Wurdle; the greatest iPhone app ever. iPhone owners take heed of this one; a great value for $1.99, especially if you enjoy Scrabble-like word games.

-- The Tampa Bay Rays for reasons explained yesterday.

-- Tru Blood on HBO, which gets better with each episode. Best line, from last night's episode: "I'm not human, Sookie. I'm vampire."

-- The new AC/DC -- yeah, I said it, AC/DC --album which came out last week. Perfect for running.

-- DogFish Head 90 Second Imperial IPA. Good lord; if you are a beer fan, go find this one. Best beer I have ever had; better even than Racer 5.

-- Losing money at Reno and Vegas (not). If I see Nevada again any time in the next two years it will be too soon.

-- Michigan football (double not). I can't even talk about this one. Things are so bad in Wolverineland it's almost inexplicable. And yes Neil, I'm willing to give RichRod some time. As in, one more season. We can have one 3-6 season; not two.

-- The Flip Camera Phone. I'll save this for a separate review, which I will post this week but what a cool, cool product.

That's about as much as my Vegas-addled brain can muster for one night. Should be back to normal tomorrow.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Back

I am back from an extended week of travelling. As a result, this has been the longest period I have gone without blogging since I started this thing. .

What a whirlwind. Since last Tuesday I have been to the following airports: Oakland, Long Beach, LAX, San Francisco, Chicago, Albany, Baltimore, Los Vegas. I've literally cross crossed the country. HIghlights included a three day work retreat in Hunter Mountain, NY which was really great and a three days boys weekend that was .. well, let's just say it was a lot of fun. We'll leave it at that but suffice to say it is always great to hang out with my boys, and this was an epic crew.

So now I am back and I am so brain dead I'm amazed that I have been able to post even this much though if you will note, I have not used many multisyllable words. It's going to be at least until Wednesday until I am recovered from this.

Just minutes ago, since I started this post, the Tampa Bay Rays have knocked off the Red Sox; this is cause for major celebration in our household (a major Sox loss is almost as good as a Yankees win) so pardon me while I go dance with the Little Boy.

More later.

(Ps. Highlight of the week. Coming home early this evening and waiting outside San Francisco airport for the Wife to pick me up.
I call her and she says she's pulling into the airport --in Oakland).

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thanks

Thanks, everyone who can called, emailed, texted etc. with good wishes. Gestures such as that are appreciated more than you know.

I'm not even sure if good wishes are really in order. This may be something, it may not. I've decided to orient on the side of optimism and have pushed it to the back of my head; not much I can do about it anyway.

My office was closed today for Columbus Day; kind of a ridiculous holiday, but one that was perfectly timed. A three day weekend was frankly just what I needed.

I pretty much had a perfect day: woke up, did some work, hung out with my good buddy Brian, who started the remodel of our bathroom today (more on this later), then went to school and helped out with the Girl's art class, which was great fun. Afterwards I took the Wife to lunch, did some more work, went for a trail run, and then took the Girl for a long walk with Coach Phil's dog. I think the walk was the most fun, as my daughter is generally terrified of dogs but couldn't stop hugging and kissing Kylie.

Now that our Indian Summer is in full effect (it was 77 and PERFECT), it was the textbook definition of a great day; days like this really make me appreciate life.

Tomorrow is back to the real world: 7:30 flight to LA. Get back and then have a 6:15 am flight to New York (upstate, New York peeps -- not Manhattan) on Wednesday for two days of meetings and then straight from there to Vegas for my second bachelor party in two weeks.

If the cancer doesn't kill me, I think this week might.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Angel Island Fire

This is a test of my new Flip video camera; let's see if I can figure out how to upload video. This is a pretty big fire that's burning at Angel Island, just a few short miles from our house. The video probably doesn't do this justice, but it's lighting up the entire skyline. It would actually be quite beautiful if it wasn't what i think is a fairly destructive event.


video

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Not Exactly What I Expected

Well, the results of my scan are in and I have to confess they aren't exactly what I expected or hoped for.

First, a bit of background, which I will try to break down to laymen's terms. My quarterly scans are essentially two sets of tests. The first is a blood workup, focused on TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and TG (thyroid globulin). TG in particular is key; you hope that it tests as undetectable. This has been the case for my past three tests and I have come to accept it as rote. The second is a neck ultrasound, where they search for aberrent looking lymph nodes.

The good news is that my neck ultrasound was clean. So, I got that going for me. And that is important, without doubt. The problem, though, was with my blood work. They picked up "antibodies" which essentially render the TG test moot. This is my first experience with "antibodies" and I'm still getting my arms around exactly what it means, but basically, an antibody is something that identifies and attempts to fight foreign matter. According to my doctor, the presence of antibodies can be attributed to one of several things: it's an anomoly (false positive), there's an auto immune issue at play, or it's fighting emerging cancer cells. It's the latter that's obviously disconcerting and according to the Internet research I've conducted, the presence of antibodies seems pretty decent early indicator of a recurrence.

So, we're going to do another round of bloodwork in about a month and will decide where to go from there. Hopefully, they will have disappeared. So, I'd be lying if I didn't say I was a bit bummed but such is life.

The ironic thing is that I've never felt better and earlier today I completed an absolutely epic run - 9 mile hilly trail run at average of about 7:25 per mile - followed immediately by 10 x 1000 meters on the track at average of about 7:30 pace. This latest quasi-setback is providing even further motivation for me to really give it a good go at the Cal International marathon in December.


(PS. CrazyMama and Gail; hit me on comments or offline if you have any perspective on this matter)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Scan Day

Today was/is Yom Kippur, the most important holiday of the Jewish year. It's also a fast day, which is never a particularly good time. I had a mild grade headache but otherwise, not too bad. The wife and I went to temple together in the am (as well as last night) and this afternoon we took the kid's to the children's service. I have to say that our synogogue, Temple Emmanuel in San Francisco, is pretty impressive. Afterwards, we had a couple of friends over for dinner, which was great. Each day I feel like we become a bigger part of the fabric of this place.

Anyway, it was probably good timing for the holidays and a solid day of prayer, because tomorrow I have my quarterly ultrasound in the am, and get results of that and my blood work in the afternoon. I don't really write about cancer as pertains to me anymore, becuase fortunately, there's no real reason to, but I confess to being a tad bit apprehensive (not nervous -- apprehensive) prior to my tests. I feel great and am very optimistic and all, but I think any cancer patient would concur that there's always that nagging little voice that resides in the back of ones head, and that voice naturally becomes a tad bit louder during scan days.

Anyway, that's my maudlin message of the day/month/hopefully year. I am sure everything will turn out great and I will post results tomorrow.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Random Thoughts

A couple of predictions, apropos of absolutely nothing in particular:

-- While I hate the Red Sox with the passion of a million burning suns, they now enter round two of the playoffs as the prohibitive favorites and I predict they will win the World Series. Pains me just to write those words.

-- The media needs a good story, but I am calling it now: short of some sort of miracle on the part of the McCain campaign, this election is over. I suspect Obama will not just win, but will win in a route. I am calling 300 plus electroral votes. While I am a big Obama fan, given the state of the county and economy, I am not exactly sure why he would want this job, but since he appears destined to win it he better do one hell of a good job for all our sake.

-- Chris McCormack and Chrissie Wellington will repeat as 2008 Ironman World Championsthis coming Saturday in Kona. In related news, I predict that for the 11th consecutive year, I wil ger rejected by the Ironman lottery.

-- Michigan will finish 6-6 in football, which given the state of this team, will be deemed a success. We will lose key games to Penn State and MSU but in one of the biggest upsets of the season, we will defeat Ohio State. Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?

-- The situation with the economy will get much, much worse before it starts to get better (which won't occur until 2010). Once doesn't need to be Milton Friedman to make this prediction.

-- Warren Sapp will win Dancing with Stars? Why? Cause the Big Man can flat out dance.

-- The Cubs will disappoint in 2009? Why? Cause that's what the Cub's have been doing for more than a 100 years.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Reno, NV

I just got back from a two day bachelor party in Reno for my friend Blake. Being that it was a bachelor party, by definition, it was a lot of fun (I am finding that any and all activities that do not involve human beings under the age of eight are more fun than ever). We gambled (I got killed), ate, hung out, slept late (9:30!), ran (at least I did), gambled, checked out Reno and did I say gambled?

I cannot even describe Reno. Words simply fail me. I'm not sure I could ever recommend it but at the same time, it's something everyone should experience -- once. I am not even sure how or where to being: it's like the devil offspring of Vegas. Vegas is all glitz and glamour. Reno is all honky and tonk. It's like Atlantic City though transposed to a beautiful locale, and it is pretty darn redneck to put it mildly. We went walking from hotel to hotel yesterday and they were all the same: darn and dank. Another thing I noticed is that in Vegas, you get rollers and you get people who are in town looking to have fun. In Reno you get degenerate gamblers who carry with them a whiff of desperation. I was sitting in the sports book watching the Michigan game (about the smartest thing I did all weekend was NOT bet on Michigan, though I was very, very tempted) and you could tell that some of the people sitting near me were losing their shirts. It would have been entertaining in a weird sort of way, if it wasn't depressing.

Anyway, as stated, it was fun and something I'm glad to have experienced -- once. I will say that the road home up and over Lake Tahoe features some of the most spectacular scenery I have seen this side of Highway One up the coast to LA.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Go Cubs

Well, my Yankees are out, the Mets are out, The Twins are out so who's a guy to root for? Pretty easy: Go Cubs. As I was telling a colleague earlier today: It's impossible to have spent as much time in Chicago as I have (nine years to be precise) without developing some form of affinity for the Cub's. They truly are the most loveable losers, and I mean that in the most genuine manner possible. Both my kids were born in Chicago and the Little Boy remains true to the Cubs. In a sense, it's his last connection to the City and that is meaningful.

I was in Chicago foir five or six Bull's championships and those were good times That being said, I think it would absolutely pale in comparison to the Cub's. So, a long winded way of saying -- Go Cubbies. May this be your year. But you only get one.

__________________________________________

In other news, busy work week. Spectacularly busy week, actually, but it's mostly good, despite the market meltdown. Come Friday, I am headed to Reno for a bachelor party. Stay tuned for pictures and details.....