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Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton

As soon as I acquire certain required technical skills, with luck by the year 2027, I hope to begin posting occasional video blog musings on the world of competitive swimming as it is being experienced by a specimen now aged 56 (and 75 in 2027).

For the foreseeable future, these vlogs are likely to be 2-D. But as soon as holographic film technology becomes available, subscribers will be able to watch me swim, put on difficult body suits with the help of ointments, swallow an increasingly multitudinous number of cardiovascular and psychiatric medications, and demonstrate the various other essential skills of the ripening male masters swimmer.

I will, if space and interest allows, also post vlogs about my fellow swimmers that I meet and stalk at various meets. An example of this can be found here, which I posted previously on the regular forum. It is about the magnificent Leslie Livingston and was made with the help of my twin brother John.


I invite you to enjoy!

  1. Swim of a Non-Stop Hour

    by , January 17th, 2009 at 02:22 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    A bubo (Greek boub˘n, "groin") (plural form= buboes) is a swelling of the lymph nodes, found in an infection such as bubonic plague


    By this time tomorrow, I will be finished with my 1-hour postal swim attempt, and hopefully also finished with a decent chunk of the follow-up YMCA meet at another pool one-half hour away.

    I'd hoped by now to be back to the 93 percent state of health that represents the highest I've managed to reach on the Jim Thornton Healthometer in the past several decades. Sadly--and I know this is getting tiresome for you, it is getting tiresome for me, too--the Grim One continues to flap his dark wings over my rooftop, looking for a perch upon which to gain purchase and thereupon rest and preen his filthy plumage in the hopes I will give up my ghost. Until then, I must take care to avoid his aerial defecation. Upon every unguarded spot of exposed flesh his droppings has thus far managed to hit, a new bubo sprouts.

    The total now is two. At least two that can be seen. On the plus side, both these buboes have flattened, lost their pustular, about-to-burst, cream pie characteristics, no longer itch or hurt, but only linger on my digit and abdomen respectively like daubs of paint of the sort once used to brand women's breasts with scarlet A's.

    What seems to be proliferating fast are invisible buboes. After a day of apparent relief from my sore throat, it has suddenly reappeared on the other side of my throat. Moreover, I can feel them colonizing their way down my esophagus.

    I swallow.
    There is the initial sore throat pain.
    A momentary lapse ensues.
    Then there is a secondary pain deeper in my gullet.
    Another lapse.
    Then a third detonation of discomfort almost at the duodenum!

    I shudder to think what will happen if this last barried is breached by the buboes' march. How quickly will then fall, and in what order, my cardiovascular, reproductive, nervous, and gall bladderous systems!

    But enough! We masters swimmers are nothing if not non-whiners! I signed up for the 1-hour postal meet and paid my $5 entry fee. I signed up for the YMCA meet and paid my $7 entry fee. I am determined to swim both. I will do so, if life itself remains within my heroic breast! And even if this should choose to evacuate me, the gasses of decomposition should clearly keep me afloat at least long enough to allow me to finish the 1-hour postal competition.

    At times like this, I find comfort in poesy. Here is a little something that came to me this morning as I pondered tomorrow's fate:

    The Swim of a Non-Stop Hour
    Thornton, Lord Jimby


    Half a pool, half a pool,
    Half a pool onward,
    All in Goldman's azure tank
    Crawled fifty-six-year-old Jimby.
    "Front quadrant, my weak arms!
    "Charge for the walls!" he said:
    Into the liquid Malaise
    Churned the sickly vlogger.


    "Forward, the ticking clock!"
    Downward, the creeping buboes
    Deep in esophageal recesses.
    Why? Not one doctor knew
    Their's not to make reply,
    Their's not to reason why,
    Their's but to let Jimby die:
    Into the liquid Malaise
    Churned the sickly vlogger.


    Faster ones to the right of him,
    Faster ones to the left of him,
    Splashing noises all around
    Splish'd and a'splash'd;
    Yelled at coaching jeers,
    Boldly he soldiered on,
    Into the buboed jaws of Death,
    Into the pustulant mouth of Hell
    Dead-man-floated the vlogger.


    Flash'd all their LSRs bare,
    Flash'd as they flip-turn'd in air,
    The others sabring the waters there,
    Charging like Hacketts all, while
    All the world wonder'd:
    Plunging through the chlorine haze
    Gasping through liquid and gaseous chokes;
    Part zonesman part clubman
    Part unwitting joke,
    Liquid malaise inside his head--
    Then Jimby swam forth and back, but
    Not quite for 5,000.


    Nyads to the right of him,
    Mermen to the left of him,
    Buboes sprouting
    inside his ulcerous gulletways;
    Goaded by his hero's heart,
    As body and soul fast fell apart,
    He who had once swum so well
    Dead floated from the jaws of Death
    Like spittle from the mouth of Hell,
    All that was left of him,
    Not even close to 4000.


    When can his glory fade?
    O the wild charge he made!
    All the world wondered.
    Honor the swim he tried,
    Honor sick Jimby's try,
    Perhaps, with luck, 2500.

    Copied from The Poems of Jimby Thornton,
    J. E. Tilton and Company, Boston, 1870
    very few if any rights reserved
  2. Of bell curves and buboes

    by , January 16th, 2009 at 12:22 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    The attentive vlogger pays attention to the needs of his audience. One way he does this is by analyzing viewing patterns and commentary statistics. When these are high, it is a rough indication that the audience is voting with its eyeballs and typing fingers. One cannot be sure if this indicates affection for the vlog--or execration for same (which, one must conjecture, accounts for Sean Hannity's surprisingly robust audience).

    The only thing that seems irrefutable is that high viewership and commentary suggests high interest--be this positive or negative.

    It seems to me from my analysis that the drama of my finger and abdominal buboes is coming to an end. Yesterday's depiction of a syphilitic facial lesion was, perhaps, too much. I preminisce a dropping of my readership numbers if I don't make a quick adjustment in the direction of wholesomeness.

    It might also help if this were somehow swimming-related, too. Thus, I am going to insert a photo of the Sewickley YMCA mixed medley relay team. You will note that we are wearing our matching new body suits:

    The swimmers are, from left to right, Daisy Ogden, Bill White, Mollie Nadler, and Jim Thornton.

    In our previous 17 competitions, we have been disqualified for swimming what the judge described as "doggie paddle." It is true that we are all quite familiar with doggie style, and practice this as a group at most workouts, however, we are hoping to complete a race legally sometime this year for consideration in both the USMS top 10 and FINA masters tabulations.

    Oh, ****! Who am I trying to kid. My attempts at wholesomeness are pathetic. They always degenerate into what young Mollie Nadler's eye doctor uncle, Dr. Dan Nadler, MD., once described as "inappropriate jocularity."

    If viewing continues its downwards trend, I will have to put together another assemblage of USMS swimmers set to a stirring song, a la Mungo Jerry's In the Summertime or perhaps the theme to Hawaii 5-0.

    Don't make me do this!

    Just subscribe to my vlog via the RSS feed option. You don't even have to read it or look at it. But I will be provided the illusion of readership!

    The sore throat, after minor improvement, has taken a turn for the worse. I have read that coxsackie viruses can attack the hearts of rodents forced to exercise on a hamster wheel while sick with colds.

    I am still going to swim the 1-hour postal swim on Sunday, even if this means Dead Man Floating my way to the finish line. I am going to swim in the follow up YMCA meet, possibly even a relay with my teammates in our puppy suits.

    Do you know the definition of hero?

    Mij Notnroht is one, albeit somewhat backwards way of putting it.

    I will keep you posted.

    For those of you who would like to be able to make videos of the quality of my brother John's, he has begun a series of lectures on the use of Photoshop. The swimming-related aspects of this are fairly minimal. But you might enjoy his film nonetheless.

  3. Relocated commentary

    by , January 15th, 2009 at 12:24 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Forgive what is almost certainly going to be perceived as--and rightly so--today's somewhat lazy vlogging effort.

    Yesterday's savage indictment of American healthcare prompted a goodly number of responses, including inquiries about familial cross-dressing tendencies, the notorious Pittsburgh "O", Carnegie Mellon University's old pool, and a new round of diagnosis regarding my finger buboe by none other than Dr. Tom Jaegermeister Jaegar, Mayo Clinic swimming vunderkind extraordinaire.

    I replied to all of these comments with a comment of my own, which ran on at some length. Only this morning, when the Nyquil and Sonata wore off, and the buboe continued to stare at me from its perch on my finger, did it occur to me that my comment was actually longer than most of my vlogs.

    A friend mentioned she was enjoying the comic hilarity of my corporal misery. I told her I didn't understand what she meant. There was an uncomfortable silence.

    Anyhow, I have taken the liberty of cutting yesterday's comment out of the comment section and pasting it in here as today's vlog.

    To encourage readership, let me just say at the outset that my teammates' consensus diagnosis--syphilitic spirochetes (see picture)--is almost certainly not correct. Neither is Hanson's Diseease.

    This picture is NOT me. At least not yet. The usurped commentary vlog to follow.

    Thanks one and all for your kind words and counsel.

    In terms of the cross dressing, that is more my brother John's world than mine. Granted, we both went through a period in our youth when we referred to each other as Susie and Sally. By age four, however, I thought we had both emerged from this. We called each other "Other Man" for a number of years, then this switched to "Brother," then "Bruddy"--an amalgam of "Brother & Buddy"--and it has been Bruddy ever since. Sometime in the last year or two, Bruddy John developed this character Libby Ellen Spooner. Perhaps Susie has been dormant within him for years.

    Maybe Sally is trying to escape from me in the form of a pustulant buboe?

    In any event, the O is still going strong--a rat-infested rat hole of ancient hotdog detritus and french fry oil from the Vietnam era, where the presence of pustulant buboes appears to be a job requirement for the cooking staff. My son loves the O. I am ambivalent.

    I didn't know that CMU had an old pool. The new one, designed by local septuagenarian masters swimmer nonpareil, Jimmy Goldman, a swimmimg pool architect, is one of the nicest 25 yard pools I have ever swum in.

    Tom, thanks for ruling out the herpetic "whiteout" (or whatever the proper term is) along with dyshidrosis, AKA pompholyx and vesicular hand and foot dermatitis. The possibility that I have instead something that sounds like hoof and mouth disease is sort of intriguing to my hypochondriacal sensibilities. Didn't Paul Newman in the movie Hud try to sell a bunch of cattle infected with this to restaurateurs before the health inspectors could order the herd culled?

    I went to practice tonight and swam very slowly. The buboe on my finger, though not so much the one on my abdomen, seemed to really disgust the young females on my team, especially the ones I attempted to cajole with exhortations such as, "Please kiss my finger and make it feel better."

    I overheard one of the spunkier lasses say that she had just had to swallow a little vomit that had reached the back of her throat.

    One very nice guy on our team is an eye doctor, and he looked at the lesions and said that they looked a little like MRSA but almost certainly weren't because they would have gotten much worse instead of a little better over the past 24 hours. He also said that viral infections tend not to produce lesions with pus.

    Every one of the team with the exception of the eye doctor and myself were for me taking a sterlized needle and popping this thing open. The eye doctor said that if it was on his finger, he would probably end up doing that himself, but he would try not to. I figured if an hour of swimming in a heavily chlorinated pool, followed by immersion in the Jacuzzi's hot roiling waters, did nothing to erode the carapace covering the buboe's creamy center, then my body was containing the vileness for a reason.

    We all agreed that liquid skin was not a good thing to try--what with this serving as a further impenetrable blockage for the bacterial escape.

    Anyhow, I have decided to adopt for the time being a policy of watchful waiting. If it evolves in the direction of leprosy, I will redouble my efforts to see an actual doctor of fingers as opposed to eyeballs. If it gets better, I will move on to other vlogging topics, because if there is one thing I have learned, it is that infirmity is neverending.

    And if it stays the same, which I suspect it will, like our economy, a festering staglationary nightmare of a finger buboe, then I will try to put the best face on my new reality as I can--and apply for a job at Pittsburgh's legendary O, or Original Hotdog Shop.
  4. A savage indictment of American healthcare

    by , January 14th, 2009 at 03:01 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I don't mean to sound "peevish" or "petulant" here, I don't want to throw a "hissy fit" or "spaz out" or "go off half-cocked", but as regular visitors to this vlog perhaps have picked up through careful scrutiny of my words and images, I have been feeling less than optimal since last Friday.

    Enough is enough.

    It is time to take a flamethrower to the American healthcare system for letting this discomfort linger so long .

    To briefly recap: It all began with a certain insidious je ne sais quoi change in the normal malaise/fatigue I have long accepted as the cost of being me in an animated state. I tried to shrug this change off as imaginary. But no sooner had I begun the pep talk we hypochondriacs give ourselves than my throat became irrefutably scratchy, and within hours, I found myself hard pressed to swallow the suddenly copious post nasal drip that arrived to torment me!

    To paraphrase Blake, Did He who made the Lamb make drip? To paraphrase Darwin: Nature, red in tooth and claw and throat.

    By Saturday, the malady had burgeoned into a full-fledged cold, though there was nothing "common" about my bout with it. I awoke yesterday with a prominent finger pustule that itched like mad, followed later in the day by a second prominent pustule, this one on my abdomen, that also itched like mad and resembled nothing short of a girlish breast bud with surrounding pinkened aureole.

    To the Google I beat a hasty retreat, only to find that such dermatological symptoms have no shortage of possible explanations. Thanks to online research and the contributions of doctor friends like our very own Kurt Dickson and Heather Rietz, an emergency specialist and a pathologist respectively, plus the husband of an infectious disease specialist in Sacramento who offered his opinion, plus various swimmers who have had their own strange skin eruptions, the following have all been proposed as likely candidates:

    These, of course, are just the most preliminary of "scratching the surface" possibilities; I am certain that an entire season of House episodes could be devoted to my finger, and the enraptured audience would still be faced with a cliff-hanger season finale, to be continued for years to come.

    Meanwhile, the clock continues to tick, tock, tick, tock. It is now Wednesday. The 1-hour postal meet starts on Sunday morning at the Carnegie Mellon University pool at 9 a.m. At another pool an hour away, our local YMCA masters meet begins at 11 a.m. for warm ups (though I think perhaps I will be able to skip this, given the hour swim), with the first events beginning promptly at noon.

    This morning, I called "my" doctor, that is to say, the one fellow I have gone to once in the last seven years. I got an answering machine. The message was complex, and it is possible that the herpetic whiteout has migrated to my ears, but before I knew it, there was a beep, and I was unsure what I was supposed to do, so I panicked and hung up.

    Next I tried a dermatologist, whose receptionist said, "Sounds like a virus. You probably need an antibiotic." When I told her that antibiotics don't work on viruses, I could feel her enmity over the phone line. She told me the doctor might be able to see me in February. I hung up.

    Next I tried my son's pediatrician, who was out doing hospice care and perhaps getting more supplies for the in-office Spa that she uses to supplement her medical income.

    I got an answering machine, left a message, got a call back from another receptionist, and have emailed her a picture of my finger. Interested viewers can see it here:

    (Note: if you want to print this out and post it on your refrigerator as an adjunct to any weight loss regimen, I would be honored to assist in your appetite loss!)

    In closing, I would very much like to thank the kindly Dr. Dickson, the equally kindly former patient Tom Patterson, and the beautiful Dr. Heather "where have you been putting that finger" Rietz for their free suggestions.

    As for the rest of our national disgrace of a healthcare system, I am taking up a collection to buy one of these:

    Updated February 10th, 2009 at 11:02 PM by jim thornton

  5. Soul MRSA or something worse?

    by , January 13th, 2009 at 06:30 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Despite lots of fluids and rest and HBO On Demand TV comedies to rally the jolly immune system warriors within, I appear to be descending ever deeper into the Poe-esque gloomworld wherein doth dwell all manner of microbes and wretchedness.

    As today's mercifully short Vlog will reveal, I have begun to disintegrate. The once tight skin that held my lithe musculature like a silk purse has begun to suppurate and pustulate in ways that preminisce, as they say, the worm in the salad days to come.

    Please, fellow swimmers with doctor degrees, especially those versed in skin lesions and sinus pain and scarecrows for the grim reaper, can you take a quick look then phone in a prescription for me at the Moon Township K-Mart, telephone number 412 262 1570?

    Brompton's cocktail, where art thou in this wretch's hour of need?

    or just click this:


    Updated January 20th, 2009 at 01:12 PM by jim thornton

  6. To swim sick or not to swim sick, that is the question

    by , January 12th, 2009 at 02:30 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    In the past, I have occasionally asked for stroke analysis.

    In this video, I ask for throat analysis.

    Thanks for viewing. And please forgive today's uncharacteristic brevity. For fans of prolixity, if this is a word, I hope to be back to full throat soon.

  7. Of sandpipers, sore throats,and stroke analysis

    by , January 11th, 2009 at 08:47 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    1. Sore throats.

    Throat sore today, so sore, in fact, that it was a chore swallowing the 8,000-10.000 Kcals that still managed to somehow wend their way through the inflamed Scylla and Charybdis of my gullet and enter my stomach.

    Next Sunday, I am signed up for the 1-hour postal swim in the morning, followed by a Y meet in the afternoon. I am hoping that my sore throat is better by then. I will probably attempt to go to my swimming practice tomorrow, but will almost certainly need to swim in lane B or lane C, and keep some Ricolaaaaaaa! lozenges at the end of the pool within easy reach.

    2. Stroke analysis
    I am in negotiations with Jim M., our extremely knowledgeable webmaster nonpareil, for creating a new "group vlog" where interested swimmers can post video of their strokes to be analyzed by any volunteers (Chris, Ande, Patrick, Fortressa, etc.?) who might offer tips. I could do this here in my own vlog, but I think a dedicated one-stop-group-vlog site, dedicated only to swimming stroke analysis, could be very useful. I will keep you posted on the progress here.

    Note: by "in negotiations" with Jim M., I mean simply that I have sent him a private message asking for advice in how to actually do a group vlog. I am waiting for him to answer, which I am sure he will do soon, given his work ethic and general levels of indefatigability.

    3. Sandpipers
    My brother has done another wonderful short video on a type of shore bird native to Cape May County, New Jersey, where he lives. It has a wee tiny bit of human swimming, but a lot of lovely ocean videography of waters where my new Open Water swim will be held every year from now on, a few days before or after our birthday on Sept. 24th. This is a great time of year for open water swimming in New Jersey. The crowds are largely absent, and the water is as warm as it gets all year.

    Please enjoy the sandpipers!

    And stay tuned for the group Stroke Analysis Video Group Blog

  8. The apogee of a dilettante

    by , January 9th, 2009 at 06:01 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Stardate 1-09-08.

    Your exhausted, wizened, and sore-throated vlogging correspondent, with the considerable help of his robust, young, handsome, identical twin, cross-dressing brother, present to you what may very well become the video anthem for every mediocre competitor who has the AUDACITY
    to stuff his stuff into an overly tight Speedo racing costume and aspire to the record books.

    I can take credit for only a small part of this wonderfully inspiring motion picture--i.e., the writing, starring, audio, and obligatory semi-nude cheesecake shots of me.

    My impossibly good-looking identical twin, whose allure is evident in both his male and female morphs, to the point where I would entertain having a three-way with him if it weren't so obviously wrong, anyhow, my brother John deserves much of the credit for this film.

    If Hoosiers could be remade without the basketball stuff, and set instead in a small town swimming hole, and furthermore if Gene Hackman could be placed squarely into this hole, well, I am pretty sure you know exactly where I am going!

    As someone--who knows whom?--has already posted on the RustyScupperton YouTube video channel, the host of this gem of a talkie:

    Absolutely wonderful! This film is not
    just about one man's tenuous claim
    on swimming glory; it is about
    Mediocre Everyman's striving
    for recognition in a world
    that says back to him,
    No! Not you! Not now! Not hardly!

    One final note: so compelling are the visual effects of this film that it is easy to get caught up in the visuals alone, ignoring completely the voice of the narrator. It is for this reason--plus a myriad more!--that
    Jim Thornton--Swimming's Glory demands not just to be watched and rewatched and rewatched again. No, it cries out for so much more!

    Word of wisdom to the would-be wise: if there be only one movie all year that you opt to watch 100 times, let this be it. You will not be disappointed.

    I, and by I I mean the film, am-is just that good!

    And on this note, I now invite you to enjoy as you have never enjoyed a swimming movie in your whole life.

  9. Swallow

    by , January 7th, 2009 at 12:02 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    There are many fluid media in our world today. Obviously, viewers of this vlog are most interested in the aquatic medium, which is at once natural and foreign to us. We spend the first 40 weeks or so floating about in a sea of our own urine, possibly sporting gills for a short while in the "ontology recapitulates phylogeny" process.

    Fascinating but possibly off the subject explanation:

    [Note to those who took Science for Dummies
    TM in college and somehow escaped learning this magical phrase. What it basically means is that our development in the womb, or ontogeny, repeats, or recapitulates, the evolution of ever more complex life forms, or phylogeny, of earth's animal life. We start off as one-celled organisms, progress into something a bit more like a sponge-like ball of cells, progress even further to the gilled salamander stage, etc. until we come out as humanoids 9 months later.

    If you ever want to make someone think you are either smart or pompous, you can't do better than to memorize "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" and use it at every possible opportunity.]

    Back to fluid media

    Only during this womb submersion in the amniotic brine are we totally at home as sea creatures. Once born, we become largely terrestrial life forms, dependent on air, unable to swim without lessons at the Y that once again recapitulate a certain phylogeny--starfish, guppies, eels, pikes, sharks, dolphins.

    Fascinating but possibly off the subject reverie:

    [More fodder for digression. How many of us did, in point of fact, learn to swim at a Y? I can remember like it was yesterday the half century ago when 6-year-old Jimby took his first breaststroke-like pull in the tiny basement Sewickley YMCA pool, achieved propulsion, and quickly taught my twin brother John how to swim! I don't know what was more satisfying? As the surgeons say, "See one, Do one, Teach one!" To this day, I credit teaching my brother how to swim as one of my signature life achievements.]

    Penultimate desperate attempt to justify today's video:

    We never regain our vestigial gills, alas; never again regain that amphibean-like blind cave frog nature, the blissful subconsious memories of which, I am convinced, are the chief cause for the return to the womb fantasies guys like me chronically suffer.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, I try to return to the womb every chance I get.

    Where was I?

    Wrapping things up quickly here, let me restate today's vlog's central theses:

    1. We are born from tiny seas of our own creation
    2. I taught my brother how to swim
    3. Air is also a fluid medium
    4. Swimmers like to flock together
    5. Please enjoy my twin brother's latest charming and short YouTube film, narrated by the irrepressible Cameron, who students of this vlog will recall pronounced me "Sunk" during my inaugural open water swimming event.
    6. Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.


    Updated January 7th, 2009 at 12:08 PM by jim thornton

  10. Part 3. Note--please read Parts 1 and 2 and 3 in order

    by , January 4th, 2009 at 09:04 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    (Note: If you are reading this without first going back in time and reading Part 1 and Part 2, I warn you that today's tripartite swimming video-less vlog dependent on emoticons will make even less sense than it should. --Jimby)

    Alas, the whole thing has left me with an exertional headache and some residual fatigue that keeps me from for joy, or, for that matter, even myself, and certainly not telling myself I am not , though the truth is, I probably could tell myself this, and not even the 's would find fault with my reasoning!

    Anyhow, I had hoped to cap off the night with some butterfly kicking drills, but it looks like that's not in the cards. And so I will probably just head off to before a quick visit to parts of the Internet to help me visualize said kicking drills.

    Your video-less vlogger, signing off. Check back here soon for more .
  11. Part 2. Visualizing My Temporarily Non-Video Swimming Vlog

    by , January 4th, 2009 at 09:00 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    (Sorry for making you read this backwards. --Jimby)

    In any event, I the previous record holder of the 100 I.M. from the #1 spot in our league , which was something of a pyrric victory, because it was --embarrassing for a humble guy like me to to admit--my own record.

    This was followed by a mediocre 50 fly, an okay 25 free --a staple of our league, since we aren't so as to think such a distance is beneath us!

    But then I swam the 400 I.M., setting a new record (not my own!) by 9 seconds, with a rather pathetic 5:11 in the 55-59 age group.

    If I were not a teetotaller, I would have to propose a to my personal best post-diarrhea/nausea/sore throat performance in a pool measuring 18" deep (in the shallow end; I literally scraped my knuckles during warm up!)
  12. Part 1. Visualizing My Temporarily Non-Video Swimming Vlog

    by , January 4th, 2009 at 08:57 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    (Note: Just found out while attempting to preview this that I can only use 10 emoticons at a time, so must divide today's vlog into three mini installments. Sorry for the bother. --Jimby)

    Okay, no footage today, no still photography, no cartoons, no hieroglyphics. I am trying to figure out the cheapest, most portable, best, and least easily stolen & destroyed camcorder to buy, and it is proving surprisingly difficult.

    So, today's vlog will be made up of words and emoticons.

    I swam a meet today after having awakened from uneasy dreams and drunken three mugs of . I should have eaten a because I tend to get foot cramps a lot, especially when the water is and I don't drink enough . I was how I would swim, because for the past four days I had been feeling , laid low by in my inner ear, that caused a certain nausea and need to to the bathroom fairly frequently, plus I had a sore throat. In fact when we arrived at the meet, i actually had to to the bathroom. But maybe this is more than you care to know.
  13. Don't think about the cold, think about the fun!

    by , January 3rd, 2009 at 01:01 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Q & A with Jim Thornton

    --by Jim Thornton

    Q. Hi, Jim. Would you like to say hello to our audience?

    A. Hello to you, Jim, along with our fellow masters swimmers, RSS feed subscribers, the CBS viewing audience, and my good friend Mr. Martin Scorcese.

    Q. So, your output lately has really been astonishing. I can't believe you are posting more, so soon! People sometimes ask me, Jim, do you have a life?

    A. Excellent question! I do have a life, but it has been on hiatus for quite a while now. At the risk of overloading you with vlog material, and perchance exhausting your appetite for all things Jim and Jim-like, as if such might be remotely possible!, I am nevertheless adding the latest swimming-related video made entirely by my DNA. That is to say, by John.

    Q. John? Refresh my memory here.

    A. Those who have been thrilled by "John is Real, Really" recently know that John, my identical twin brother, likes to make movies. Today's vlog is on a subject that many masters swimmers have either A) participated in personally, B) considered participating in but have heretofore postponed the actual impulse to the future, or C) find this quaint hibernal passtime an embarrassment for our great sport of swimming.

    Q. Surely, you're not bringing up those Palin girls again?

    A. Of course not! I refer, of course, to the Polar Bear swim concept, wherein a bunch of tubs o' lard like me and John partially denude ourselves and go into some incredibly frigid sources of moisture in the hopes of losing massive winter weight gain. Speaking from experience, you don't really lose any weight. But you do lose, massively, the appearance of weight from an area of the body that can easily be mistaken for midriff bulge tugged downwards by gravity.

    Q. Always, those Palin girls find their way back! Okay, Jim, one last question before watching John's excellent polar bear swim film. You mentioned several blogs ago that you were going to swim the 1650 in practice. How did that go?

    A. Hard! I ended up swimming an average pace of 1:14.41, give or take, for an overall 1650 time of 20:33. This was in full hair exposed mode, no body suit, no dive, and water temperature of 85 degrees.

    Q. Yikes! Did Bill lap you, as expected, four times?

    A. Actually, Bill almost evaded swimming it entirely, but I taunted him into it. He swam a 19:27 after I got out, and we calculated that he would have only lapped me once, though with a 5 second head start (had we been circle swimming) almost twice.

    Q. How's that make you feel?

    A. I am not sure yet. I am still checking various age-grading programs from programmers in the US, Finland, and the UK. When I find one that provides me some reason to celebrate, I will let you know, Jim.

    Q. I have heard that Latvian age-grading is particularly lenient for 56-year-olds like you, and harsh for 38-year-olds like Bill.

    A. I have "nyet" yet looked into it! But on this perfect segue, i.e., Ivan the Russian Bear slowly morphing into John the Identical Twin Polar Bear, the Thornton genes gives you today's vlog...


    Updated January 3rd, 2009 at 01:35 PM by jim thornton

  14. John is Real, Really

    by , January 2nd, 2009 at 10:04 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Thanks to the 353 (and counting) of you who viewed my last Vlog. The one criticism I received most consistently about this heartfelt homage to my fellow masters swimmers across this great pool-dappled country of ours was this:

    Great assemblage, Jim, but why so many shots of other people? Why not just concentrate only on yourself and people who look sort of like you personally?

    As one of the small handful of artists working in the rarefied medium of Masters Swimming Vlog Art, I could very easily have turned my back on such criticisms, shrugging the hues and cries of the "audience" as merely the jejune wimperings of the masses.

    But I am not like this!

    I appreciate my audience, though God knows that some of the members therein probably are so jejune they don't even know what jejune means!

    Forgive a moment of private chortling over a certain befuddled Aryan Nation friend in Arizona.

    Okay, composure regained.

    As regular readers of this vlog may eventually learn, I have a somewhat sickly nature, though I rarely mention it and never complain about it. I have been sidelined from the pool today due to a fear of explosive emissions of pretty much any stripe imaginable save the one most women who know me actually like to imagine. Thus no swimming to report on today, other, that is, than the swimming of my head. I can say without equivocation that it has Gone the Distance today!

    So what I propose to offer you today is a Vlog in the spirit of Partially Swimming Related Subject Matter, if by partial you accept the definition "not very much if at all." Instead, I am including an homage to my wonderful brother John. He is the mind behind the Leslie Livingston SCM butterfly Travesty of Travesty video, the Polar Bear Plunge (both scroffulous and musical versions), the epic Sunk, and pretty much anything you will see on this Vlog that is actually kind of good.

    John and I are identical twins, though people who have not met us in the same room often think I have made John up. Some who have met us, while acknowledging some familial resemblance, nevertheless don't think we are identical twins. However, according to the University of Minnesota Twin Study's David Lykken, Ph.D., we definitely are.

    One of is is the Good Twin; one the Evil Twin. Perhaps the hard turns my life has forced upon me accounts not only for the discrepancy in our character but in our looks.

    John no longer swims, but holds the family records for the 100 freestyle and backstroke, and probably butterfly, too. Neither of us can complete a 100 breaststroke in the alloted time frame, i.e., the length of the entire meet.

    If you are of a liberal persuasion, I strongly urge you to visit John's YouTube Channel, Rustyscupperton. If you are frothy-mouthed conservative, and for some reason you miss a swimming practice, you can still get your heart rate up to the target zone by similar visitations.

    It is all, as they say, good!

    And here is my homage to John, with a little of me in there too, satisfying the earlier request, which I shall briefly recap here again:

    Great assemblage, Jim, but why so many shots of other people? Why not just concentrate only on yourself and people who look sort of like you personally?

    Just as Trenton makes, and the world takes--so is it that You ask, and Jimby gives!

  15. Wet Beauty

    by , December 31st, 2008 at 09:38 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Here is a vlogging gift to my fellow swimmers, and an homage to 2008--a year the likes of which only our centenarian comrades have likely seen before.

    I tried to include pictures sent by the generous posting community on the forums, plus I shamelessly pilfered the photo albums of my swimming friends on Facebook. You may notice a disproportion of pictures of me and Dara Torres. I used the former for filler and the latter (which I took last January when I swam with and interviewed her for a story--pdf available on request!) as inspiration for all of us to keep striving regardless of our respective stages on the aging curve.

    Over the course of 2009, please feel free to email me swimming photos, which I will save and use to compile another assemblage. Email address:

    Better yet, consider joining Facebook, which now has tons of our swimming comrades amongst our ranks. It's free and simple. Befriend me at James Scott Thornton (Pittsburgh) and I will refer all our USMS swimmer friends as Facebook friends.

    Happy 2009! Thanks to all the contributors, including those who intended to contribute and those who didn't!

  16. Open Water Season A' Comin'

    by , December 29th, 2008 at 12:25 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    It has been a couple days since last I vlogged. Thanks to Jim Matysek's suggestions, I now know sort of how to make preview stills of my vlogs appear on the vlog site proper, and I suspect you will find this as exciting as I do, which is to say multiple exclamation points exciting!!!!!!!!

    For regular posters on the threads, I did one version of the photo calendar montage set to music, but was unable to upload this, and thus am redoing it. I can no longer call it a USMS calendar. The main reasons here are A) USMS is a registered trademark upon which the likes of me, like the rattlesnake on some currency, have been advised "not to tread", and B) it is no longer a calendar.

    Stay tuned for what it is, though I am not quite sure myself yet what this is.

    I also plan to post a new vlog soon that might up viewership slightly by adding a visually stimulating guest to the site. But the time for this has not yet come.

    These are just two of the many reasons to stay tuned!

    In the meantime, I do not want my 3 or 4 regular vlog viewers to forget who I am. Thus I am now presenting another film on open water swimming to whet your appetite for the cold wet season to come!

    A short explanatory preamble: last September, I traveled with my friends Jocelyn Smith (one of the comely scissorers in Captain's Plunge, the scroffulous version) and Jeremy Cornman (a former Sea Isle City lifeguard and extraordinarily talented amateur triathlete who I can nevertheless beat at distance swimming) to the Jersey Shore. We were supposed to do an open water event at Cape May, but we got there at midnight, and registration was a 6 a.m., and we decided to sleep instead of paying the $30 to freeze.

    The next day, I decided to create my own open water swimming event in Ocean City. It was the day before the 56th Birthday of me and my twin brother John. The event, which is now going to be held on an annual basis, is knows at the Pre-Birthday Open Rough Water Shark and Snapper Blue 2-Mile Swim.

    If you would like to pre-register for next year, send me $29.00 and I will have my lawyer draw up an ironclad waiver form for you to sign and notarize. This will include, but not be limited by, the truncation of assorted appendages and other body parts by razor sharp, recursive teeth.

    On this note, I present for your viewing pleasure: Sunk.

  17. Relaxation: My present to fellow swimmers

    by , December 24th, 2008 at 02:12 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Merry Christmas and assorted other secular, religious, and Druid holidays to one and all. I am hoping to get a better camera soon, so please do not give up too soon on my Vlog simply because of its piss poor production values and generally uninteresting subject matter to date!

    Improvement is possible!

    Who knows what the next year will bring?

    In any event, today's Vlog represents my Christmas present to my fellow swimmers. If you watch this, and I hope you do, I know it will be easy to dismiss the recommendation therein as the groggy advice of a narcoleptic well into his dotage.

    Resist this urge!

    Please, allot yourself 8 minutes at the end of your next practice to try out my recommendation, which blends the best of swimming, with the best of Karmic meditative Bhuddhism as such is understood by me, a fellow with no understanding of it.

    Then let me know if you do, indeed, find this to be as deeply relaxing as I and my follower have. (Note: one my New Year's Resolution is to up the number of follower to plural. My other New Year's Resolution is to not lose the follower I do have.)


    Updated December 27th, 2008 at 06:39 PM by matysekj (Embedded YouTube video directly)

  18. Food psychology and winter weight gain

    by , December 23rd, 2008 at 11:10 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    For those who don't want to read my blather, here's today's movie, which actually has some production values thanks to my wonderful son Jack, who produced this for the Men's Health video channel!


    Now, the blather:

    Yesterday's practice, it turns out, was different than I thought because I misread the date. We actually do the 1650 "race" on Friday. Yesterday, we did instead:

    10 x 100 on 1:25 warm up
    20 x 50 on :40
    10 x 50 on :35
    10 x 50 on :40
    6 x 50 on :35
    7 x 100 on 1:25 cool down
    steam bath

    This was not easy, in fact, I still feel like there is food tickling my epiglottis, trying to escape.

    Anyhoo, it got me to thinking that before Friday's 1650 in-practice race, it would really help if I could lose a smidgen of the winter weight gain that has crept up. Today is Tuesday 10:30 a.m.. Goal: 17 lb. weight loss by Friday 6:30 p.m.

    Tip: break this down into manageable units. To wit, if I can just lose .21 lb. per hour between now and then, I will achieve my goal.

    Today's vlog is a video I made for Men's Health with the considerable help of my son Jack. It was based on an article on Food Psychology I wrote a year or two back. If any of you would like to read the article itself, feel free to send me your email and I will dispatch a copy of this in .pdf form.

    My email address is

    Please also send me a jpg file of you in a swimming suit for my "calendar" project, which may end up being a movie instead.


    Here is that link again!

    Updated December 29th, 2008 at 11:49 AM by jim thornton

  19. Travesty of travesties: all is travesty

    by , December 22nd, 2008 at 11:57 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Today's vlog will be best understood by those who take a moment to read Leslie The Fortress Livingston's fascinating blog account of bureaucratic machiavellianism run amuk.

    I would have loved to hire Al Pacino to play me in today's film. Only Al could give the full apoplectic spittle-flying frenzy "You're out of order! You're out of order"/"I oughta take a flamethrower to this whole f-ingplace!"/"Say hello to my leedle fren!" style outrage that this situation deserves.

    Unfortunately, Al was working on another project, so I had to play Jim myself, which is never ideal.


    If, by the way, you have not yet seen Leslie's fourth-45-49-year-old-woman-in-world-history-to-crack-30.00-in-the-50-SCM-fly performance, you can see it by clicking the link atop my vlog.

    * * *

    On a more stereotypically swimming-oriented blog note, my good friend and swimming coach Bill White sent out tonight's practice, which consists of a warm up (6 x 100 on 1:20) followed by a 1650 RACE.

    I replied to him by email:

    Bill, correct my math if you see errors:

    You will average about a 1:10-1:20 pace, which means that your 50s will be 35-40 seconds each.

    Every time you lap me, it will mean I need to add an additional 35-40 seconds onto whatever time you end up doing.

    Thus if you lap me only four times, or every 412.5 yards, this would mean I will need to add between 2 minutes and 10 seconds to 2 minutes and 30 seconds to your final time.

    I am expecting you to break 20 minutes as if it were child's play. But let us just use the 20 minute mark for simplicity's sake. I should be able to finish in 22:10.00 to 22:30.00, correct?

    Using the Bill Time Distance calculator from yesteryear, this would leave me with an average 100 pace of between 1:20.61 and 1:21.82.

    If you, on the other hand, hold a 1:10 or 1:15 pace, you will swim it in 19:15 or 20:37.50 respectively.


    I will let you know how it goes.

    Updated December 29th, 2008 at 11:56 AM by jim thornton

  20. Aqua V cap sizing difficulties

    by , December 21st, 2008 at 12:53 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I am looking into getting a slightly better video system than the kind i have now, which, I must say, works well with Skype but not quite so well with YouTube. In any event, if you can endure a certain dyssynchrony of image and voice, which actually reflects the way I am feeling today with my splitting Nyquil hangover, I invite you to watch today's vlog.

    PS I once read that Mr. Rogers made his show purposely slowed down and laconic because he felt that kids in this hyper stressed world of ours never got a chance to just watch something soothing and langorously monotone and, well, . It is in this spirit that I present today's video.


    PS Word of the Day: laconic. I thought I knew what this word meant, but it turns out I was completely wrong. To wit:

    A "laconic phrase" is a very concise or terse statement, named after Laconia (a.k.a. Lacedaemon [Greek Λακεδαίμων]), a polis of ancient Greece (and region of modern Greece) surrounding the city of Sparta proper. In common usage, Sparta referred both to Lacedaemon and Sparta. ...

    I don't always "fact check" what I write, so please use this as a cautionary example of why you should never take what I recommend seriously without at leave three second opinions from actually knowledgable sources.

    Updated December 29th, 2008 at 11:59 AM by jim thornton

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