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May 22, 2008

Mystery Machine

It’s been a crazy week, so I just have a couple of brief hits before heading into the weekend …

· The Underwater 50 quest continues with each passing swim workout, although the rate of progress has become maddeningly slow. I can fairly consistently go across the pool, push off the wall, and come back as far as the 6th out of 8 bottom lane lines. On one occasion, I made it to the 7th lane line, which I calculate at roughly 42 or 43 yards, but I haven’t been able to repeat that since it happened 3 weeks ago.

I’ve started to think of it this way: once I’ve gone 40 yards underwater, making it through those last 10 yards to reach 50 are like climbing through the death zone at the top of Mount Everest, where all of my body systems begin to self-destruct because there isn’t any oxygen to maintain them. I’m already incredibly fatigued just to reach that point, whereupon my survival instincts start screaming for me to return to where I can get some air (in this case, above the surface), while my inner drive wants to keep pressing ahead toward the goal, even if it risks my overall well-being.

Maybe that’s not the most optimistic analogy for me to have in mind about this task, but there you go. I’m determined to make it happen someday, though – I’ve come too close to turn away from the objective now. I’m like a mountaineer with summit fever - which probably isn’t the best analogy either. In fact, this is starting to get depressing. Let’s move on …

· Almost every day when I leave my swim workouts from the community college pool, I see a very distinctive van parked somewhere on the street. It’s quite visually arresting, and sometimes I find myself staring at it for 30 seconds or so before moving on. One day, it was parked directly across the street from me, and I spent several minutes staring at it.

It’s not that the van is particularly attractive, or that the design on the side is remarkably artistic. Rather, the graphic has me absolutely baffled – because for the life of me, I can’t figure out what the heck it says.


I’ve mentioned before that I grew up in Los Angeles; I’ve seen my share of graffiti, and I used to be pretty skilled at interpreting it (as well, occasionally, as drawing it – but that’s another story). But clearly I’ve lost my touch – because for as long as I’ve stared at this design, I’m not any closer to deciphering it than I was 6 months ago.

I’ve already decided to ask the owner of the van if I ever encounter him coming or going, but I’ve been unsuccessful in that regard for almost a month. That’s why I’m posting the picture here along with an appeal for help. Click the photo to enlarge it, and if you have any credible guess as to what the heck it says, please let me know.

I’d like to tell you how much time I’ve dwelt on this stupid question, but I have loved ones who read this blog, and they’re already worried enough about my sanity. I’m sure they’d thank you in advance for your cooperation, as I do as well.

23 comments:

craig 5/22/08, 11:37 PM  

Looks to me like it says "mean." But I have absolutely no credentials to be deciphering graffiti

Anne 5/23/08, 5:50 AM  

I was thinking the same thing: mean or meani. Have you consulted with Scooby Doo yet? He might be able to solve the mystery (and mourn the fall of education in California).

miki 5/23/08, 8:17 AM  

I'd have to agree with both comments above.

Deene 5/23/08, 8:18 AM  

hmm, rienen?

or walk like egyption art.

Backofpack 5/23/08, 8:54 AM  

Looks like MEAN to me too - it kind of jumps out at me. Why would you put that on the side of a van? I think Anne is on target, you've got to find and ask Scooby Doo.

angie's pink fuzzy 5/23/08, 9:14 AM  

ok, maybe i'm reading too much into it, but i definitely see at least one s in there...misshapen?

David Ray 5/23/08, 10:12 AM  

Underwater swimming reminds me of the Drownproofing class I took at GaTech back in the day. The final test was two lengths of the pool underwater. An "A" was earned by completing the two laps . . .

or passing out. I didn't get an A.

And I'm clueless where the van is concerned.

21stCenturyMom 5/23/08, 5:32 PM  

I think it isn't so much what it says as what it implies by virtue of the suggested letters and the shapes. It says "Men with TailPipe" to me.

Rainmaker 5/24/08, 10:05 AM  

Can't help ya with the van - but can say I'm impressed with the UW swimming. I'll continue to be impressed - unless you drown attempting to get back to the same side. Cause that wouldn't be too stylish.

Annette 5/24/08, 12:02 PM  

I'm cracking up reading everyone else's thoughts. :) I think I'd be like you, staring and staring. My first thought was that it said Mystery or Misery. However, the longer I look, the more I doubt it. Maybe it's upside down and backwards. :) Or perhaps you have to purchase whatever dude is selling from his van to be able to decipher the message.

If you find the answer, you must share it with us!

Annette 5/24/08, 12:02 PM  

I'm cracking up reading everyone else's thoughts. :) I think I'd be like you, staring and staring. My first thought was that it said Mystery or Misery. However, the longer I look, the more I doubt it. Maybe it's upside down and backwards. :) Or perhaps you have to purchase whatever dude is selling from his van to be able to decipher the message.

If you find the answer, you must share it with us!

triguyjt 5/24/08, 4:56 PM  

If you flip the image..and stare long enough...it says.."paul is dead".

you are getting so tantalizingly close on the underwater quest

IM Able 5/24/08, 7:41 PM  

FISHING.

I think it says FISHING.

Which would be cool, considering the 50 quest.

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) 5/24/08, 9:55 PM  

Ugh, Donald, I don't think it's supposed to say anything. Kind of like early REM lyrics were indecipherable probably partially on purpose.

Whatever you do, use the rope, and DON'T try to cross the river underwater holding your breath at States!

Rahn 5/25/08, 5:42 AM  

It says migndt. Now, if I were young, hip and cool, I'd know what that says. But alas, I am many years past that stage.

A friend and I went swimming once, and he could dive and hold is breath for a minute or more. When I asked him how he did it, he just said something like "the lungs have the capacity to hold that much air, so if you stay down that long, you'll have it. You just need to get past the panic point of thinking your going to die."

Hmmmm...not sure if that's helpful. As I think about it, that may be been the last time I went swimming, 6 years ago.

Lisa - Slow & Steady 5/25/08, 3:30 PM  

I see MEAD or MEnD or MEADI or MEnDI

Makes no sense.

Steve Stenzel 5/25/08, 5:22 PM  

I think it says MEAT. When I squint, it looks like it says HOT DOGS. When I sneeze, it looks like it says DANDELIONS.

Sunshine Girl 5/26/08, 5:05 PM  

I'm thinking...ROCK AND ROLL!!! How about "METAL" as in, Heavy Metal???

Leslie in Banff

David 5/26/08, 6:24 PM  

It's a Mean Machine.

Downhillnut 5/26/08, 7:34 PM  

Try it with 3-D glasses.

The VAN, not the swimming...

Claire 5/27/08, 5:54 PM  

Maybe it's a bit late for this now, but I sent a link to a friend who spends like all his free time photographing graffiti. His response:

'Yes, my wayward friend, it says "mean".'

Dave 5/27/08, 11:54 PM  

Hey, did you ever think about doing the UW quest on a 50 meter pool? Would that be easier or harder? One less push off, but you wouldn't lose momentum. Or maybe you could consider that cheating. Either way, the whole idea is just impressive.

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