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May 26, 2008

Weekend Update

A somewhat scattered collection of thoughts today - I'm having a hard time maintaining focus …

* First, in regards to the previous post, I’m leaning toward the hypothesis that the word written on the side of the Mystery Machine says “mean” - which also makes me reconsider my plan to approach the van’s owner to ask for sure. I’m guessing he might not be the most approachable guy in Salinas. But you know I’ll probably do it – because once my curiosity kicks in, there’s no turning back.

I also find it amusing that the first person to ring in with the consensus best answer to deciphering gangster-style graffiti happens to be a pastor. Blogging cracks me up sometimes.

* The National Spelling Bee will be televised this Friday, May 30th, with preliminary rounds in the morning on ESPN, and the final rounds in prime time on ABC. They made a couple of changes to the telecast this year that bear mentioning:

Most significantly, the day of the final rounds was moved from its traditional Thursday schedule to a Friday – which means we’re one step closer to something I’ve been recommending for years: a weekend showcase on par with Super Bowl Sunday or the Indy 500. Personally, I can’t wait until this happens – because it’s getting harder and harder to make up excuses to ditch work each year to watch the opening rounds.

Less importantly – but perhaps more interesting – is who ESPN has assigned as a “sideline reporter”. Remember last year, when I complained about how sports radio hosts Mike & Mike would clown around like jocks and make jokes at the kids expense? Well, this year, the network has taken a different approach.

Instead of Mike & Mike, ESPN and ABC will utilize Erin Andrews, whose drop-dead gorgeous looks have made her one of the hottest commodities – if you don’t believe me, just Google her - in broadcasting. For the record, Andrews knows her stuff – at least when it comes to sports – but I’m not sure what kind of a speller she is. But for one night, the spelling kids (well, the boys, anyway) will be the envy of nearly every collegiate and professional athlete in America – which is as unlikely a scenario as you could ever imagine at the Bee.

And, like we did last year, Momo and I have cast our fates with these awkward young phenoms, with a wager riding on whose contestant advances the furthest. Before you ask – yes, we’ve actually researched the competition, and yes, there’s a lot of pride on the line for us. As Momo said, we’re kindred souls that way.

Finally, some running-related items …

* I’m at the point now where I feel ready to take on Western States. The only problem is that the race is still almost five weeks away – which seems like too much time to just coast through the rest of my training. I need to keep the high mileage up for at least another 2 weeks, but I’m so fatigued lately that the prospect of doing so seems terribly daunting. What I need most of all is to stay focused and disciplined.

On that note: the new video - appropriately titled “Discipline” - from Nine Inch Nails is on the sidebar, and it’s, um … interesting. Kind of funny, very campy, and a little creepy at the end. Give it a click and see what you think.

* I didn’t go to the Western States training camp this weekend. I had every intention of going for at least one day, but another opportunity came up that I considered a much better offer. So instead of spending time on Devil’s Thumb and Michigan Bluff, I spent three days admiring this:

That would be Half Dome, at Yosemite National Park. My son’s 4th grade class took a field trip to the park last week, and I went along as a chaperone. I returned on Friday, and the prospect of getting right back in the car and driving 4 hours to Auburn seemed awfully unreasonable - not to mention, hard to justify to the rest of the family.

It was an incredible time to be at Yosemite: the weather was perfect, the crowds were below normal, and the waterfalls were raging with hurricane intensity. On our second day there, the entire class did a challenging 8-mile hike up the cliffs to the tops of Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall, and back down on the John Muir trail. On the other days, we hiked to Yosemite Fall, Bridalveil Fall, Mirror Lake, and through the giant sequoias of the Mariposa Grove.

So even though it meant skipping the WS training, I wouldn’t have missed the field trip for the world. I mean … how many times do experiences like this come along? For that matter, how many elementary schools take kids to Yosemite for 3 days? I’m certain that I’ve mentioned this before, but under the circumstances it bears repeating: sometimes, it’s very cool to grow up in California.

Truthfully, it's not such a bad place to be a parent, either.


David Ray 5/26/08, 8:14 PM  

Beautiful pics. Way to be the dad.

Backofpack 5/26/08, 9:05 PM  

Wow, that is some kind of cool field trip. I wouldn't have passed it up either.

Paul 5/26/08, 9:51 PM  

Nice to see you have your priorities straight! :) Cali is a sweet place. I always try to remind myself of that. It's too easy to forget about it and get caught up with crap.

craig 5/26/08, 9:55 PM  

My being first to guess probably has more to do with the fact that you tend to post late in the evening and I'm up even later.

The guy may not be mean. Maybe he just has a mean machine. Then again it's a van...

I hope you ask him. If he's not mean you'll get your answer and that will end speculation.

If he is mean then you'll probably have an interesting story to tell. And you tell them so well.

So it's a win/win situation...at least for your readers.

21stCenturyMom 5/26/08, 9:57 PM  

I always forget how splendorious (don't look for that word in the spelling bee) Yosemite is until I'm there and then it's so amazing I have to make up words to even begin to describe it. Great choice for how to spend the weekend and hopefully this will invigorate you to finish your training.

Speed Racer 5/27/08, 4:38 AM  

With all meaningful correspondence being through computers, and with the invention of spell check, isn't the spelling bee obsolete? Maybe that's just the bitter bad speller in me that never would have been able to work as an editor 10 years ago. You know, English is the only language where they have spelling bees, though. Maybe it's a sign that there's something seriously wrong with our orthography.

Yosemite: You lucky duck!

Makita 5/27/08, 6:44 AM  

Beautiful! I've never been to Yosemite... perhaps later this summer or later in the fall?

triguyjt 5/27/08, 7:36 AM  

Come on....you gotta ask him.
Now, your assuming he's a certain kinda person...but he's a meak, mild guy.
great pics from the trip with the kids... yes, you get the dad of the year award...hands down..and in the big picture..you will still have conquered ws100 but you would not have had the time with the kids..so, its a win--win.
Golic is one of my neighborhood homies so I always like when he does well and I like greenie, too...but a chance to check out e. andrews...duhh yeah!!!
find the longest word that spells sexy-gorgeous and I will gladly try to spell it...haha

mindy 5/27/08, 5:40 PM  

You know, the winner of the 1985 National Spelling Bee went to elementary school with me. He was quite a character. He went on to get a PhD from Berkeley - they should totally do a "where are they now" film of past winners... Re: Western States - two more weeks of high mileage - you've got the discipline and drive to do it! Harness that mental energy you use to get across the pool underwater and bank it for those long workouts. You're on the homestretch!

mindy 5/27/08, 6:00 PM  

Scratch that - he was the 1986 winner, not 1985. Either way, got our little town on the map and he got to go on the Johnny Carson show. Geez, I'm getting old...

Rainmaker 5/27/08, 8:19 PM  

Wow, those are some incredible pics. Especially the waterfall one - awesome. I think ya made the right call, like you said - you can train any weekend...but you only get so many weekends with the kids on field trips.

rick 5/27/08, 10:33 PM  

You made the right decision with the training camp thing. It was raining anyway and they even had hail, you don't need that.

Legs & Wings 5/27/08, 11:16 PM  

That van is a sweet ride...rally wheels and all. Those pics are sweeter still. What a beautiful place.

You crack me up dude.

miki 5/29/08, 4:31 PM  

If you're that fatigued, I would just say coast through the next 5 weeks. You should have built up your endurance by now anyways. Leaving yourself only 2 weeks to rest before WS might not be enough for you. That's the kind of stuff I've read over and over on training blogs/docs all over the place anyways. Good luck. :)

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