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  1. Jim: The Classics Illustrated Version

    by , April 27th, 2010 at 03:36 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Okay, after this, I will take a break from swimming self-aggrandizement and move onto other areas of self-aggrandizement so vlog followers won't get sick of me.

    But I can't help myself.

    I must post footage of what proved to be the greatest meet experience of my life.

    Many many thanks to the munificent Chicken of the Sea, Amanda "HTFU" Hunt, who filmed all these races.

    Swim #1. 1000 yard freestyle (Friday night)


    Fortunately, this does not include the 1000.

    Even I would be hard pressed to watch me plodding back and forth for 11:22.39 Z

    Swim #2. 100 yard freestyle (Saturday morning)

    I was sort of out of it for this swim. I got up on the blocks late after some confusion about what heat I was in and was still semi-putting my goggles on when the starter, perhaps noting my discombobulation, had one of the only quick interludes of the whole meet between the "take your marks" and the "go."

    So, I did not have time to remind myself to keep my eyes open. You will see on the third length that I hit the lap lane. What you can't see is that the turns on the far end of the pool were all wobbly because of this slippy metal rim that the GMU pool has around its perimeter.

    When I finished the race, I looked up at the clock and thought I had done a 53.35, slower than two weeks earlier in our Amish mudhole. I was horribly disappointed and instantly groggy and bedraggled.

    A half hour later, when they posted the results, I saw that I had been looking at the wrong time on the board. I had actually swum a 52.43Z, which turns out to be my fastest ever electronically timed 100 as a masters swimmer. (I went a 52.09 hand-timed at CMU when I was 50.)

    This time beat my old zone's record of 52.90, but it was crushed by the great sprinter, Paul Trevisan in the next heat. Still, I had a new Zones record for about 1 minute!

    Anyhow, great joy for me here-- and a tincture of what might have been had I had time to remind myself to keep my eyes opened:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/saddlebagz69#p/a/u/2/7gcg2M8Y2m4


    Swim #3. 500 Freestyle (Saturday afternoon)

    I swam this race, like the 1000, not in my B70 but rather a FS1 I had purchased in the pre-B70 era but never worn before. My goal was to man up for this race and not coddle myself too much, vis a vis pain avoidance. But I also didn't want to suffer arm lockjaw half way through and require mechanical hoist water evacuation. Thus I attempted, as best I could, to adopt a metronomic death march kind of approach, with a bit of a sprint at the end if there was anything left.

    Note: I am putting these videos in order of how I swam the races, but you might want to save watching this one for last and take the precaution of cushioning the floor around you with throw pillows in case it causes you to nod off.

    My time--5:23.18Z--beat my old Zones record in this event.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/saddleba.../3/gfi1biu0uUs


    Swim #4. 200 Freestyle (Sunday morning)

    This was the high point of my swimming life--a new zones record (beating my time of 1:56.07 from last year.

    Event 32 Men 55-59 200 Yard Freestyle
    ================================================== ================
    ZONE: Z 1:56.07 4/26/2009 James Thornton, TPIT
    NATL: ! 1:50.85 5/14/2006 JIM MCCONICA
    Name Age Team Seed Finals
    ================================================== ================
    1 Thornton, James 57 TEAM PITTSBURGH 1:58.90 1:54.89Z
    26.55 55.39 (28.84)
    1:25.44 (30.05) 1:54.89 (29.45)

    'Nuff said.

    [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nj0dgN1-H90"]YouTube- Jim's 200 free[/nomedia]

    Immediate aftermath:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/saddleba.../7/HIkAZSslQBw

    Aftermath continued:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/saddleba.../6/wze2QdxAfoU

    Swim #5. 50 Freestyle (Sunday afternoon)

    Being as I had absolutely no chance to make the Top 10 in the 50--and doubt I could have made the Top 100 in this pure sprinter's event--I decided to end the meet on a note that might preminisce my FINA-legal future.

    And so it was for the first time since I was 47, and the Speedo Aquablade body suit had not yet been invented, that I actually raced something in a jammer.

    The suit was the new Speedo racing jammer, which had a peculiar feel. People who have raced in so-called paper suits told me its got a similar tactile sensation to this. I have a size 34 gut (if I am being generous to myself), so I wore a size 30 jammer.

    It got on easily, perhaps too easily.

    My initial concern with this suit was that it compresses and miniaturizes the one part of my body that needs not further miniaturization. Moreover, by compacting the flesh here, it only served--like a pasta extruder--to push more fat out where I suspected it might be flubbering and blubbering like a sail that has lost one of its lines in a gale.

    In other words, I did not think I would be swimming with the sleekness of an orca but more with the inelegance of a sumo.

    My best times this year previous to today were a 24.81 and a 24.50, both swum in Amish mudholes with my B70 kneeskin.

    I figured that if I could break 26.0 in the jammers, I would be doing okay.

    To give myself some additional boost, I first took some Jolt, the use of which is illustrated in the following, where I instructed Leslie in the proper application of the gum:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/saddleba.../1/bofYC-y2qn0

    Next, I did the pre-50 weigh in on the George Mason University cattle scale. Why they have this thing in the natatorium baffles me, but I used it anyhow.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/saddleba...13/oXxlukFno6A

    Finally, I moved to the blocks for the first of what would prove two starts in the 50:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/saddleba...14/JWJv2NVxuR0

    Then the second start and actual race:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/saddleba...15/v3t25IghfqU

    Followed by the aftermath:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/saddleba...16/u3BkgqwjeBw

    My time of 24.78 is the best jammer time I have done as a master. I don't know what the discrepancy between this and a B70 time would be. Last year, my 50 in the b70 was a 24.17, so if we compare these, it's a .61 second difference.

    However, I also swam the 100 and 200 slower last year, so it is possible I might have beaten my 24.17 this year had I done it in a B70. I doubt I would have beaten the time by anymore than roughly have the time I beat my 100 by (52.90-52.43=.47/2=.23). So saying I might have done a 24.17-.23 = 23.94 in the B70, that would suggest that switching to jammers cost me .84 seconds per 50.

    Not great, but I suspect learning to keep my eyes open could make up some of this, shaving off chest hair a little more, and losing the gut maybe a wee bit more.

    But such is fodder for future vlogs. This is the time to reap, not to sow!

    Updated April 28th, 2010 at 05:02 PM by jim thornton

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  2. Motivating Water Nymphs

    by , May 2nd, 2010 at 05:43 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Girls these days have it hard.

    They have become the Super Gender, excelling in everything from academics to sports to Godly favoritism.


    If you look at standard TV sitcoms, these Super Girls are often linked with Loser Guys.


    Cases-in-point:



    Ed and Heather




    Esmeralda and Quasimodo



    Michele and me


    Because
    today's girls are so ridiculously good at just about everything they do, and so absurdly better than our drone gender, it has become increasingly difficult for us (i,e,. the still primarily male mentor/coaching ranks) to find new ways to motivate these super girls in the pool.

    Trophies?

    The typical super girl has so many trophies that they have become old hat!

    Old hats?

    Alas, they have a surfeit of these too!

    On our team here in Sewickley, we are blessed with a super girl of the highest rank--a great swimmer who can also taxidermy road-killed raccoons via the so-called "brain method" (whereby the hide is cured in the fatty acid emollients of the critter's brain), turning said sad specimen into one of the most spectacular handbags you have ever seen in all your born days.

    Mistress Mollie is something of a globe hopper, too--wintering in the Islands hither, summering at the beach thither, returning to Sewickley only for short interludes between the shifting of the high social seasons of her different preferred locales.

    How might I manage to motivate such a girlish specimen to even greater heights of accomplishment?

    It seems, at first glance, an absolutely impossible dream!

    But I have found that the key is the right admixture of evoked emotions. These cannot be entirely sweet; these can't be entirely sour; these can't be entirely sensual appeals to appetites unspoken but obvious; nor can they be wholly the instigation of massive disgust and "is that all there is?" desperation.


    No. The psychological appeal must include all these things and more.

    Of course, every super girl is unique, and you must find a distinctive set of motivational tools to push her individualized set of buttons. (There are usually three of these.)

    In this video, I demonstrate how seemingly peculiar set of props--including a veterinary medical display item and a man who uncannily resembles it--conspired to get our team's super girl Mollie to respond way beyond my wildest dreams.

    Please feel free to borrow and adapt the protocol for use in motivating your own team's super girls.

    Oh, and one more thing: You're welcome!

    [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0x_CPWdx-Eg"]YouTube- Motivating Mollie[/nomedia]
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  3. Night Nurse Mollie: Night Strangler, Pt. 2

    by , May 11th, 2010 at 12:14 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    As perspicacious viewers of [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMpL5zIuN2M"]The Night Strangler Part 1. - YouTube[/nomedia] have perhaps managed to glean already, your narrator has been tentatively diagnosed by the sleep lab technician, Ashley, (who parenthetically concedes that she is not allowed to diagnose sleep disorders), that the odds are extremely high I suffer from sleep apnea.

    This is a common condition typically suffered by those with stentorian roar-like snoring, obesity, and over-sized necks.

    I don't do or have any of these things, and in fact, sport a neck that measures 15 inches when I am flexing it, which technically qualifies me for the diagnosis of "pencil-necked geek."

    Still, people like me are known to have apnea despite our lack of the traditional red flags. And it looks like I almost certainly am soon to be getting official word--after a certified sleep doctor has examined my polysomnographic results--that I am, indeed, a PP-NGWAOSA, AKA, "paradoxically pencil-necked geek with advanced obstructive sleep apnea."

    The good news, if this does prove to be the case, is that a lifetime of malaise, neuralgia, fatigue, excessive daytime fatigue, night sweats, high blood pressure, nervous temperament, morning hoarseness, vulnerability to sore throats, pronounced stupor, and hog-whimpering headaches upon awakening with or without the explanation of alcohol--all these symptoms and many, many more may not have been psychosomatic and/or the result of character defects which we all, myself robustly included in this unanimity of opinion, assumed was Jim in a Nutshell explained.

    In fact, rather than being a neurotic whiny little bitch of a boyish old baby, I might in fact be something of a hero, whose relative lack of complaint about his life's circumstances over the years (a minor word here, a sigh there, perhaps a faintly uttered phrase under the breath a la, Jesus, that hurts like a mother ****er!) can only be described in light of what we now know to be the true extent of my life torture as...astonishing bravery of the sort rarely seen in the human animal.

    All this, to be sure, awaits further medical evaluation and sanction, and I do not in any way mean to risk a torn shoulder labrum patting myself brusquely upon my own back even if I so surely deserve such a vigorous patting!

    In any event, for those rare individuals who still do not know what apnea does to the sleeping human hoping for a moment of repose, the truth is not pretty.

    Not pretty at all.

    Since my semi-diagnosis by a knowledgeable though uncertified lab tech, I have had trouble sleeping because of the Nightmare on Elm Street murder scenario I am certain awaits me every time I nod off.



    To protect myself from premature demise, I took the liberty of hiring a night nurse, young candy-striper Mollie, fresh from the nunnery, to keep watch over me as I slept, protecting me from the bogey man that lives inside me.

    Yikes! Asked to remove film. I did so!


    Oh, and there was one scene in the film that was so graphic and disturbing in its nature that the Ratings Board on Vimeo, YouTube, Mayo Clinic Medical Videos, RedTube, and all the other reputable user sites that I submitted it to forced me to remove it.

    As an added bonus, I am including that disturbing Out Take, as well. Click here...if you dare: [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8AW-9i8uns"]Night Strangler Pt. 2 Out Take Prolonged Overly Graphic Str - YouTube[/nomedia]

    Updated November 29th, 2011 at 05:02 PM by jim thornton

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  4. See Pap Sleep!

    by , May 18th, 2010 at 07:26 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    The next appointment at the sleep lab wasn't supposed to happen till June 13th, but I asked them to call me if somebody canceled, and somebody did. So I go back tonight at 8 p.m. for round two.

    A brief recap:

    1. Regular readers of this vlog may recall that from time to time I have complained, well, not complained exactly, more like objectively described without emotion my experience with what sleep doctors call EDS, or excessive daytime sleepiness.
    2. One of our many, many capital fellows in the USMS greater community, Dr. Tom Jaeger of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, wrote in to suggest I take the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (which can be found here: http://www.bami.us/Sleep/SleepScale.html
    3. On the following scale, I was somewhere between very and dangerously:


    • Score of 1-6: you're getting enough sleep
    • Score of 4-8: you tend to be sleepy during the day; this is the average score
    • Score of 9-15: you are very sleepy and should seek medical advice
    • Score of 16 or greater: you are dangerously sleepy and should seek medical advice



    Car crashes--and presumably Honda Metropolitan scooter crashes, as well--are said to be a risk in the untreated sleep apnea patient, especially when the apnea itself is happening at 85 mph.


    Tom at the time suggested going to a sleep lab to find out what was the likeliest culprit. Statistically speaking, sleep apnea is by far the most common cause in the population in general, and middle aged males in particular. However, some of the conventional red flags -- a thick neck, obesity, and very loud snoring -- were not on the Jim check list of attributes, and I tended to discount the likelihood I was an apnea sufferer.

    What I thought was much more likely were any or all of the following:


    1. a drug side effect, particularly my long use of antidepresants
    2. an occult virus -- a slow virus, in my vernacular -- or possibly a tsetse fly bite through which was vectored into my blood stream the trypanosome responsible for sleeping sickness.
    3. Or idiopathic hypersomnolence, AKA, grogginess for which there is no known physical, emotional, or existential cause.

    Time passed.

    The symptoms waxed.

    The symptoms waned.

    The symptoms returned like a Dunan yo-yo strapped forever to my **** you finger.

    Then a new symptom arose: ISH, or isolated systolic hypertension.

    My internal Dr. Gregory House had a field day with this new information. Could the Effexor XR be the cause of my ISH? What about the Provigil I had begun popping to counter my E.D.S.? Could I simply be overtraining? Might there be some sort of gluten allergy lurking in the background?

    But I am not a high-achieving white woman. Surely gluten allergy could be crossed off the list.

    Hovering in the background over all such speculations is the one disorder I Know for certain I do indeed suffer: hypochondriasis of the non-delusional variety.

    Or do I?

    Might there be an alternative, unified, and actual physical illness kind of explanation for why I suffer:


    • morning headaches and sore throats
    • night sweating
    • persistent daytime grogginess
    • neuralgia and myalgia
    • Provigil deficiency
    • and so forth?

    So I checked into the sleep lab and to my amazement was diagnosed with sleep apnea.

    Tonight, I go back in for a second night in the lab, this time to be fitted with a CPAP mask and a second round of testing to see if this reduces the number of apnea events (i.e., where I stop breathing).


    Do Robots Dream of Android Sheep? Naa! Naa!


    Part of me wonders if all of this is actually yet another elaborate scam from yet another scammeister of the Medical Industrial Complex, anxious not only to test and diagnose apnea at no little expense to the system, but to then ladle on with the need of expensive apparatus, the profits from which will line the pockets of yet more medical industrial golf club members hoping for dues money.



    I Googled "picture of a swindler," and this is what it came up with.

    Please keep your fingers crossed that only the best will come of this; that I will not be played yet again for a fool; that persistent daytime grogginess and its innumerable social and cognitive sequellae shall all but disappear from my life in coming weeks; and that a brand new, ebullient, vital, and sleep-restored oxygen hording Jimbo will very soon be taking over this vlog, and bring a new level of interest unfathomable at the present time!



    I Googled "picture of extreme excitement" and this is what the Internet thinks I might look like after CPAP treatment, though I have some doubts, I must admit. Some little, tiny, niggling doubts.
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  5. Thank Heaven for Little Girls

    by , May 25th, 2010 at 09:50 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    This just in! This just in! This just in!

    A new link to the Ciara Movie, Thank Heavens for Little Ciara's, may actually allow my vlog audience to see this rejuvenating mood-boosting video despite the copyright issues of the owners of the song I used.

    Try clicking this (and let me know if it works for you even if you aren't a facebook member.) Suggestion provided by one Mr. Bill Sherman of Kansas City, Missouri!

    Hats off, Mr. Sherman! Now please all of you try clicking here! http://www.facebook.com/#!/video/vid...v=397876503758




    (Note: if you aren't in the mood for a long romp through my ruminations on moppet daughters, please feel free to skip down to the bottom and look for the words: Click Ciara Movie Link Directly Below!

    If you are in a horrible mood, or even a borderline bad mood, or maybe even an okay mood, or perhaps in a good mood, or even one so ecstatic you can't
    believe it could get any better, regardless of how you are feeling right now, I do guarantee you that watching my movie on Ciara will put you into a better place than you are now.

    Of course, I would be happy if you choose to read my ruminations on moppet daughters, too. Nothing wrong with that!)


    My teammates Bill and Mark are both very lucky guys.

    They are indefatigable swimmers who never whine and, to my knowledge, have never been compared to "that teacher on South Park" the way I have.



    Is this really what I look like? or is it more just a personality type I share with Mr. Garrison?

    But Bill and Mark share something besides swimming god status, and this something is what makes them both beyond just lucky but blessed.

    I refer to their respective adorable little daughters.

    In Bill's case, the daughter is Ciara, who always cheers for her Papa at swimming meets;

    and in Mark's case, the daughters are Caroline (a second grader), Georgia (a Kindergartner), and Lila (not yet in school but Harvard class of 2028).

    When I was enduring a particularly rough patch of psychiatric woe a few years back,
    Ciara was arguably the best antidepressant I could find. I would simply lift her up and apply her like an analgesic tablet to my forehead, and the pain would disappear for a while.

    Remember that product that used to be advertised for headache relief?

    [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_SwD7RveNE"]YouTube- HEADON! Apply directly to the forehead![/nomedia]

    Watching the commercial for Head On actually caused headaches so intractable that all the homeopathic placebo evocation in the world could not remedy them!

    Ciara application, on the other hand, always worked!

    Recently,
    Ciara drew her father a picture, wandered downstairs and found him, then wordlessly pointed out how she wanted him to play with her.

    Here is her picture, which immediately became one of my favorite artworks of all time!!!! (The movie, Thank Heavens for Little
    Ciara's, which I shall post below, is my attempt to film a recreation of this art work's creation and first unveiling.)



    Bill playing with his daughter
    Ciara in the way that Ciara has instructed him to do.

    After seeing this picture, I thought Bill--alone among guys in the world--had the luckiest situation imaginable. He was the father of the artist/human analgesic tablet,
    Ciara, in whose adorable orbit he could forever bask and benefit! Who else could boast coming close to such a beatific life?

    It turns out that Mark actually has a similarly daughter-rich wonderland, too.

    Yesterday, Mark did not appear at our 7 x 500 swimming practice, presumably because he had just gotten back from Atlanta and was tired. Bill, who wrote the workout, didn't make it either. In fact, I am pretty sure I am the only person who actually swam all 7 of these 500s. But that's off topic.

    Anyhow, I went over to Mark's house after practice to congratulate him on his times and console him about his initial sense of failure in the 100 breaststroke.

    (You can read a great account of Mark's psychic metamorphosis from Ferklempt Meshugina to Mensch in Mark's own inaugural blog,
    You Never Forget Your First Time, here: http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=9805).

    The following pictures are what I found adorning Mark's front door. More unbelievably good artwork done by little daughters who love their daddy!



    What swimmer in all God's firmament would not want to come home from Nationals and be greeted by this?





    Note a few details here--the dolphin (a surrogate for father Mark?) on the starting blocks on the left, followed by the same dolphin with his Gold Medal standing sunlit on the podium once the race is done.

    Note, as well, the meet's "score" of Home O vs.
    Visitors 1,000,000 "because of my dad"; and finally, check out the order of finishers:


    1. Cox (Mark's last name) in the No. 1 spot.
    2. Some guy named "Rider" that none of us, including the artist, Caroline, know (she almost put Bill here, but then decided not to because he would beat her dad),
    3. and finally, in 3rd place, that is to say, last place, "Thornton.")

    Okay, enough. I realize this is in danger of becoming a Megila (n.).

    (A friend e-mailed me today and was bantering about in a bit of Yiddish, so I've been trying to improve my vocabulary here. If you need help with this, I recommend a quick perusal of
    http://www.infoplease.com/spot/yiddish1.html for some basics.)

    Okay, if you took my option to skip all of the megila so far, and desire only to watch the movie about
    Ciara, here that is.

    I defy anybody to watch this and not emerge happier than they were before the viewing, no matter how disappointing or gladdening a recent swimming meet may have proved!

    Click Ciara Movie Link Directly Below! (i.e., the words right under these!)


    http://www.facebook.com/#!/video/vid...v=397876503758

    Updated May 27th, 2010 at 12:35 AM by jim thornton (changing movie link to something I hope will work)

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  6. Grasshopper Blogging Advice

    by , June 8th, 2010 at 01:25 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Recently, a rookie USMS blogger turned to me with a look of admiration and perplexity on his young, 42-year-old face and asked me two earnest questions. I can’t remember the exact wording he used, but it was pretty close to this:

    1. Jim, you are such an amazing, preternaturally gifted vlogger, I feel sheepish to approach you directly with my Lilliputian’s inquiries. But I can’t help myself, so great is my need for answers. First of all, why can’t you write more vlogs—two-a-days, perhaps, but at the very minimum, something every day, if even just a haiku or villanelle? Honestly, I don’t mean to be so demanding here, so needy. But you haven’t posted a new vlog since May. Speaking for many, many, many of us in the greater USMS community, life without our daily dollop of Jimtastic Jimdiosyncractic life wisdom comes very close to being, well, unlivable. When oh when will you vlog once more?

    2. Secondly, as an aspiring blogger myself, who hopes to attract the occasional view and comment, whose own efforts here started out promisingly with 100 views for the inaugural posting, but which has been backsliding slowly but surely ever since (precisely the opposite, I must add, of your own vlogging course, which has continued to gain momentum over the years like Genghis Khan’s small rag tag hordes eventually coalescing into the world’s largest army ever!), I am hoping you might offer me some insights and advice into what makes a popular blog?

    Oh, grasshopper!

    Please, feel free to always come to me with your earnest entreaties and queries!

    Like the Robber Barons of yore, most of life’s astonishing success stories like me reach a point in our trajectories towards the heavens when it is no longer just about ME, ME, ME, ME, and a little more ME! Eventually, the likes of me feel compelled to give back something, to prepare the next generation to take our place when the palatial sarcophagus is erected and its precious cargo ready to sleep forever without a CPAP mask!

    I am slouching ever so quickly in the direction of said sarcophagus and bed of everlasting granite! Nothing exceptional about me in this regard! I shall put on my death shroud pajama bottoms one leg at time, I assure you!

    And so it is that while I still have apneic breath left in the ragged lungs, I shall answer your questions, thus, one by one.

    1. Though this particular vlog here breaks the recent drought of entries, there is a reason for the drought. As perspicacious readers will note, we last left the groggy Jim and his Zarathustrianly high Epworth Score poised on the brink of obstructive sleep apnea treatment. Like many of my infirmities, I have managed to coax my real-world editor into letting me write about this topic for eventual magazine publication. He has, however, asked me to refrain from blogging about the topic until said article is done and published. I am doing my best to honor his request. Alas, as a somewhat obsessive fellow by nature, my ongoing travails in the world of sleep-wake disturbances are all I can think about lately. Until your recently merciful inquiries, dear grasshopper, gave me new fodder to ruminate over and write about, I couldn’t think of anything to opine about, so fixated were my thoughts on nocturnal oxygen deprivation, hypoxic brain damage, non-restorative multiple anterograde amnestic arousals, and so forth.

    2. It’s hard to say what attracts views. Most people get very few. Leslie the Fortress Livingston, on the other hand, gets zillions. Some of my own entries, too, have attracted attention, though not all with the 7,500 plus hits of such classics at Lost Person Behaviour and Will Swim for Polish Vodka. It’s kind of a hit or miss thing.

    I think Leslie does well partly because she is a pulchritudinous chick that men want to be and women want to be with, or whatever that old chestnut is. In any event, I believe there are tons of women swimmers out there who read Leslie’s excellent blog to learn about her sometimes eccentric training techniques and remedies for orthopedic and gastrointestinal havoc. That these techniques and remedies are seldom burdened by actual science is no doubt a plus. We live in age where the anecdotal trumps the statistical and evidentiary, and Leslie gives us the former in an entirely unadulterated manner. She also has her coterie of male followers like Qbrain and SwimStud. If you examine a typical Leslie blog, it’s usually filled with specific advice on dryland exercises, underwater monofinic shooter regimens, gluten-free recipes, Family Circus-like balancing act info, passionate tech suit advocacy, taper strategies, and so on. Always, these are delivered in a friendly manner with a hint of feistiness—like Doritos with lime. She gets a ton of hits and an amazing number of comments with virtually every stroke of her iMac keyboard.






    But does such interesting and actionable advice account entirely for the dear girl’s popularity as the Queen of Blog? Personally, I think her true appeal transcends mere swimming. Say the phrase “social networking,” and Leslie defines both the “social” and the “networking” phases here. Leslie is constantly leaving comments for other bloggers and tending to her manifold online friendships with the expertise of a bonsai gardener. The reality is that Leslie is such a nice person, I think she’s become like the USMS de facto mom with whom and through whom everyone in the extended family diaspora communicates--the nexus point, if you will, of the masters swimming world at large.

    But what about me?

    My vlog, which I am no longer writing (no doubt to its detriment) quite so often under the influence of Ambien, takes another approach. Its connection to swimming is often tangential at best, though I do try to work in something here and there about swimming on occasion.

    Case-in-point: during last night’s T-30 swim, I managed 2360 yards compared to your own 2200, right? Though who, really, is counting here. If we have learned one thing in the modern era, it’s that awards are given for participation, not victory! Enough about swimming.

    I think the most popular of my vlog entries have been popular because I write—in perhaps an overly unashamed and unfiltered way—with precisely whatever weaselly human emotions I happen to be feeling at a particular time.

    For instance, if I had had your subject matter today—first time swimming long course in 20 years, and doing so at a ridiculously early hour and with a new group of diehard swimmers I’ve never met before--I might have thrown in some references to the tolls taken by circadian rhythm shifts (with referenced scientific studies to bolster the claim), explain how this no doubt impacted my swimming performance accordingly, but despite this, I still managed to climb from 4th in my lane at Pitt’s morning practice to 1st place, my progress measured not so much by the joy I felt in my own heart, but the chagrin and downright misery so evident on the maws of the deposed alpha males whose spirits I had crushed.

    Who knows, I might have even quoted Conan the Barbarian yet again in my vlog (I think I have referenced this quote every couple weeks since I began the vlog):


    To wit, when asked, “What is the meaning of life?”

    Conan the Barbarian answered:

    “To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.”
    In any event, to sum up how to get more readers for your blog:


    1. Be nice like Leslie
    2. Be weaselly like me


    Oh, and post more pictures.


    ---------------------------------------------

    Conan the Steroidian--Is his suit FINA legal? Can we wear knives?

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  7. Gu, Finger: My Two Gifts

    by , June 11th, 2010 at 05:16 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    The grasshopper blogging advice proffered in my previous entry got me to thinking about the nature of selfish altruism.

    For most of my life as a sentient being, i.e., starting around 7 or 8 when I began to speak in normal English instead of the idioglossia or "twin speech" that me and my brother John ("udder Man") Thornton used to use to communicate, anyhow, ever since then, I have understood the wisdom of the following chestnut:

    It is better to give than to receive.

    Of course, it also immediately struck the 7-year-old man-child philosopher within me that if this was, in fact, true, then the ultimate gift one might bestow upon another human being was to agree to serve as the receiver. This, by definition, allows the other to be the giver, or better person.

    Q.E.D.:

    If it is better to give than to receive, than it is even better still to receive than to give.

    Armed with this more sophisticated understanding of morality, an understanding that I concede many adult moral philosophers have trouble grasping, I began then, and have continued ever since, practicing selfish altruism, my motto being "take, take, take, and take some more!"

    Who knows how many people over the decades I have allowed to spiritually enrich themselves at my expense? Who knows how much largess I have accepted so that others might appear greater than me in the eyes of God?

    Which brings us back to Water Rat's recent hope that I might provide him with blogging advice. As those who read Grasshopper Vlogging Advice
    http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=10074 will surely remember, I dispensed no shortage of helpful counsel with no expectation of remuneration of any kind!

    Indeed, in the Zero Sum Game of USMS blogs, where there are only so many readers to go around, and any new blog that attracts readership to itself will surely siphon away hits from the old established staples--almost like rival religious sects trying to attract tithers--my very advice, it could be argued, would be helping Water Rat at my own expense!

    This was, in other words, a clear example of me practicing the simple-minded form of altruism--the giving not receiving kind as opposed to more complex (and morally superior) receiving so the other can be giving kind.

    Simple-minded to the point of being jejune though such generosity proved to be, it also--and I am almost embarrassed to admit this--felt good!

    In an attempt to recreate this good feeling, I would like in today's vlog to give back directly to the Greater USMS Swimming Community.

    Gift No. 1

    The first gift is endorsement
    of a product that has been a godsend to me personally. If you suffer, or know anybody who might suffer, from exercise-induced hypoglycemia, try GU five minutes before practice.

    It almost always prevents those horrific symptoms that can result from exercising with insufficient blood sugar: shakiness and trembling, weird blinking lights in the visual field reminiscent of a migraineur's aura, and feelings of ravenous starvation that come on in a twinkling.

    I originally popped a packet of GU gel before practice:



    The orange and mixed berry flavors proved the easiest for me to stomach.

    My Sewickley teammate Ben Mayhew later told me that GU had come out with a new product that was easier to take:



    These are surprisingly edible, I must say. If you have kids, and they occasionally eat fruit snacks, the GU Chomp is very close in flavor.

    Anyhow, if you do occasionally have this problem of exercise-induced hypoglycemia, get some GU of either sort and keep it with you at the pool. No need to thank me. It is, after all, better to give than receive.


    Gift No. 2

    Admittedly, the number of the exercise-induced hypoglycemic masters swimmers out there is probably not overwhelming, and of this number, those who don't already know about GU are no doubt fewer still. Thus Gift No. 1 might not affect a huge population (although the population that is affected will be affected quite positively, I believe.)

    I would like to give something else that all USMS swimmers, fitness swimmers, and swimming blog readers across the globe might benefit from.

    What could this gift be, though? What would benefit such a wide array of swimmer types, genders, and gift-receiving-preference subtypes?

    At first, I thought it might be impossible to find something that everyone would like.

    But then yesterday, at breakfast, I was reading an article about Galileo.



    Galileo while evidently still in possession of all his fingers

    The article was actually less about Galileo in his entirety than it was about Galileo and one of his fingers.

    Some background:

    Fans of the least famous of mortal sins, simony, or the sales of religious relics including the mummified body parts of Saints, will recalls that Luther was so at odds with this practice that it drove him to establish Lutheranism.

    I actually had occasion to see St. Andrew's finger in a small church in Italy when I was 11.

    Later that same summer, I saw another St. Andrew's finger in yet another small Italian church.

    By the end of the summer, I had seen so many fingers that I became convinced St. Andrew suffered from polydactyism.



    I assure you, I am no polydactyle myself! Just an ordinary man with 10 ordinary manual and 1 subordinary urological digits!

    But enough meandering and shilly shallying discourse here. The main point that I am trying to circle around to is that the newspaper article on Galileo said that his finger is now in the possession of somebody or some institution or some country or something--I did not read the whole article.

    I stopped as soon as I realized that giving your finger to posterity is something that I actually could do, myself.

    Could do, and, in point of fact, should do.



    Galileo's actual finger in display case.

    I wish I could say that the recent economic downturn has not affected my fortunes too greatly, that a half century of practicing the complex form of altruism had allowed me to save up enough to afford such a dazzling display case, with its golden accouterments and whatnot!

    Alas, I have fallen upon hard times financially and otherwise.

    I am not sure how much longer I have, but I would formally like to announce in today's vlog my intention to give USMS my finger upon my passing.

    If someone would like to organize a fund raiser to purchase a suitable display case where my gift could be housed, possibly in the new USMS offices in Saratoga, possibly in the museum portion of the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Ft. Lauderdale (maybe they could have my finger next to Duke Kahanamoku's surfboard?), I would happily provide no shortage of finger pictures to use in the campaign.



    Note the body suit on the Olympic great, Duke, AKA the Big Kahuna.

    On an entirely unrelated note, if for any reason USMS cannot accept my gift, I would happily give my finger instead to FINA.
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  8. On Philosophy and Amateur Brain Experimentation

    by , June 16th, 2010 at 01:27 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    The other day, my fellow depressive Bill and I were discussing the convolutions of my most recent sickness unto death. Perhaps discussion is the wrong word. For this portion of the conversation, I was Ille and Bill was Hic (or is it vice versa? I was the talker; he the listener.)

    Let us call this latest condition of mine X. Bill said nothing as I enumerated all the variables I could possibly think of that might be causing, or at least exacerbating, X. Let us call these variables M, F, L, R, C, and 997-aFL (s4) subtype Pi.

    {Note: at this point, bird-of-a-feather neurotics who have a faint sense of deja vu might want to re-read my October 20th, 2009 vlog entry, "Anatomy of a Nutty": http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=5966}

    During the current "discussion," Ille and Hic were sitting in the clouds at Woodland Swimming pool, a horsefly occasionally buzzing around preparing to deliver one of its disproportionately nasty bites.

    Oh, where have you gone, bags of Horse Urine we once draped around our pool to trap these fiends?

    In any event, against this background of humidity and the threat of a painful blood-sucking bite that could take place at any moment, Bill appeared to stay awake throughout my self-diagnostic analysis. When I moved on next to the treatment possibility ruminations phase, he just as patiently as before listened to the spectrum of potential remedies I had managed to conceive for myself, most of which will involve either a doctor's prescription pad, or a willful ignoring of the prescribed courses I have already been consigned to follow.

    When I had finally exhausted myself of all "man of action" self-delusion, all "rage rage against the dying of the light" impotent questing for a cure, Bill smiled in the bemused fashion of those who have traveled similar low roads and long ago made peace with the incorruption and ineradicability of their own weltshmerz!

    I sighed, all talk having leaked out of me, and Bill became Ille and I Hic, which is where we should have been, of course, all the while.

    He said, "Don't look left, don't look right. Just look straight ahead and move forward through the horror that is life for people like us. All else is distraction and a waste of time."

    At this precise moment, as it was dawning on me that I had never in my life met quite such a philosopher, the horsefly landed on Bill's lovely wife Colleen's head and its mandibles cracked open. Bill smacked the brutal bastard hard enough to stun them both.

    I found the fly on the concrete unkinking its little legs and stretching its gossamer wings, gathering its forces, as it were, to attack once more. Before it could do so, however, I was able to lift a plastic Adirondack pool chair and position its front left leg over the insect's body, and crush it to perdition.

    The fate of us all, eventually!

    Unblinkingly and without naps, cocking my head neither left nor right, allowing my orbs no swivel room either in any direction other than straight ahead, I resolved to take his advice as best I could.

    The gift of hopelessness for the neurotically hopeful is, alas, something we in the latter camp cannot enjoy continually. Instead, we take it out now and then and say to ourselves, "Ah what a fine, fine present this is! I should play with it more often."

    But then our essentially flawed natures overcome us once again, if not quite so deeply as before. And we begin to experiment with things from left and right fields, respectively--though not with as much soul-shattering confidence as once we were able to muster.

    And so it has been over the past several days that I have concocted strategies to test out variables M, F, L, R, C, and 997-aFL (s4) subtype Pi.

    The first of such tests is the slashing of a certain daily dosing of a certain nightly palliative, one famous for not brooking rejection gracefully.

    Yesterday, having turned my back on Substance P, I could hear the sound of electric bug zappers inside my brain everytime I moved my eyes too quickly. This bzzzzzz, perhaps ironically, was most pronounced when looking suddenly to the left or right--exactly as Ille had forewarned!

    Another odd quirk: an embarrassing load of sentimentality that proved very close to uncontrollable. Imagine that feeling non-sociopaths get at the end of tear-jerker movies like Home Alone or The Death of Little Nell or Ron Burgundy: Anchorman, where the eyes flood with tears even though you know you are being manipulated, and you pray the theater lights remain dark long enough to compose yourself so that your wife or girl friend or golden-hearted escort service referral does not think you are a pussy!

    It was thus for me with everything I encountered yesterday: weepiness triggered by junk mail, a perfectly ripe avacado, intimations of mortality, the death of horseflies.

    Today, the electric brain is quieter now, the ducts desiccated.

    Tampering with variable 997-aFL (s4) subtype Pi, alas, has done little to improve the sickness unto death; just as Bill predicted!

    I shall take his gift out of storage again, and look at it a little longer this time, before allowing myself to succumb to another sideways search for hope.

    Tinkering with variables M, F, L, R, and C, I'm sure, will prove no more helpful than experiments with 997-aFL (s4) subtype Pi. I doubt I will spend much time concerned with them, and I wish I could spend no time on them at all.

    But I can't. It's not my nature. For some, the beauty of hopelessness can take years to reveal itself.
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  9. Self Portrait as Flayed Man

    by , June 28th, 2010 at 05:57 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)

















    For those you of a religious bent who are interested in exploring more deeply the long entrenched history of anti-body hair sentiment by God himself, I highly recommend you check out my gentile twin brother's attempted midrash, or n., pl., Mid·rash·im (mĭd-rô'shĭm, mĭd'rä-shēm'), on the subject.

    A midrash is, of course, any of a group of Jewish commentaries on the Hebrew Scriptures compiled between A.D. 400 and 1200 and based on exegesis, parable, and haggadic legend.

    In John's midrash (pictorial excerpt to whet your appetite for more,), he ironically used the two of us as stand-ins for Esau and Jacob. I am not sure why, but he made me Esau even though 1) John is actually the firstborn, not Jim, and 2) my relatively much more common immersions into vats of chlorine have actually left me significatnly less hairy (and thus presumably more favored by God) than John, though I must say, if I were God, I would favor him, too, regardless of our relative states of hairiness.



    To find the complete midrash, with its surprising insights into antiquated Biblical nonsense still taken very seriously by those who have never actually read this part of the Bible, please check out this link: http://www.jrtart.com/bsd/smooth3.html
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  10. Fri Jul 9th 2010

    by , July 9th, 2010 at 07:22 PM (Ande's Swimming Blog)
    Fri Jul 9th 2010

    Shaved

    Subscribe to Ande's Swimming Blog

    scy
    chris Coached
    6:30 TO 8:30
    Austin UT Swim Center diving well
    swam with tyler jon & doug
    beside mike, todd & Marcio plus james fike
    Guest SAM PERRY was in DA house
    dove in around 7:00


    MAIN SET

    swam easy
    the guys were doing
    4 rounds of 3 x 300 followed by 4 x 25
    I did half the 300's & all the 25's
    felt fine

    did between 1500 & 200
    mostly easy some fast

    WENT to BREAKFAST at at Kerby Lane on the Drag with Sam Perry, Tyler, Todd & Doug Dude

    warmed up again for the 50 fr

    haven't really been training for 50's

    wore a B70 Nero TX

    thought I was in Heat 19
    then realized it was heat 10
    hopped up

    Went 25.96
    Hoped to go faster


    It's my fastest time this season in a jammer


    2010 MEETS:

    July 8 - 11, 2010
    Senior Circuit #4 Meet Info
    Austin, TX
    entered:

    Fri
    50 Freestyle

    Sat
    100 Butterfly
    50 backstroke

    Sun
    200 Individual Medley
    50 breastroke, &
    50 butterfly


    07/23/10 - 07/25/10
    2010 South Central Long Course
    Southlake, Texas
    Days till LCM ZONES
    Entered Zones yesterday & got my hotel
  11. Too cold to swim outdoors?!?

    Today I swam up at the Riverbank State Park pools. I started out in the indoor pool and did

    1000 lcm warmup

    6 x 100 FR/BK @ 2:00

    100 kick w/ fins
    4 x 50 (25 fast / 25 easy) w/ fins @ WWSMM
    100 dolphin dives w/ fins

    Then I went outside to the scy pool—it hadn’t been open when I first arrived, and when I had asked about it the lifeguard looked at me like I was crazy and told me it was COLD out there! For the record, it was in around 70 and a little breezy this morning! The pool water was probably about 82, so it was pretty perfect, especially once the sun cleared the indoor pool building's roof and shone on the pool. The only place that might have been anything like cold was the lifeguard chair, which is always shaded in the morning. I was glad when they opened it up, since warming down in the sunshine with views of the Hudson is one of the chief delights of swimming at Riverbank during the summer.

    Once outdoors, I just did some slow warmdown swimming and some sculling and balance drills. I got to share a lane with my swim buddy Kathleen, who is on an ow swimming tear this summer. I also got to see a few swim friends in the indoor pool that I hadn’t seen for a while, and wish one of my teammates good luck before he heads off to Germany to compete today. It was a very friendly and calm lap swim session. My legs were feeling a little sore and tight from the plyo yesterday, so the kicking felt especially good.
  12. Governors Island race report

    This morning I did the Governors Island swim. Governors Island is a small (172 acres) island in New York Harbor just a 5-minute ferry ride from the southern tip of Manhattan, and today’s race almost circumnavigated it (because of difficult tides/ferries coming and going/air vent for the Holland tunnel, we skip the northernmost tip of the island).



    Getting to the race start required checking in, getting a special 6:45 am ferry to the island, walking over to another dock on the island where we were to finish, checking our bags and getting chips, boarding another ferry, riding around the top of the island to the race start, jumping off the ferry, and lining up behind 2 buoys for an in-water start. There were 200+ folks in the race, so it took awhile for everyone to make it off the boat and to the race start, but there was beautiful scenery to look at while we waited. Finally everyone got into the water, they started us, and the race was on!

    During the first half of the race we swam down the western side of the island. There were great views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Last year this part of the race had some significant chop and waves, but this year the water was pretty calm, and there seemed to be a slight helping current. As we rounded the the southern tip of the island, we could see the Verrazano Bridge in the distance. Going up the Buttermilk Channel, the only challenge is to be sure to stay away from the 3 piers. On the right is the Brooklyn waterfront—very industrial, with warehouses and big gantry cranes, which is kind of neat. The finish is right before the Holland Tunnel air vent (that little protrusion to the northeast at the top of the island), and it is easy to miss—you actually have to turn left and swim underneath a gangway, before you can see the exit ladder. Last year I overswam it and had to turn back; this year I did a better job sighting and swam right to it.

    I was with or near a group of about 7-8 swimmers during the last portion of the race, and worked really hard the last 300 meters or so trying to pull away from them. I got ahead of all but one guy (who obviously had the same idea as me about sprinting to the ladder!) and finished the race as the second woman overall. That surprised me, since there were plenty of women in the field who are better distance pool swimmers than me, but open-water races can be unpredictable that way. (And just for the record, I’m thinking of myself as the women’s masters champ this year, since the first place woman was just 15!) Overall, this year's race probably had more favorable currents and conditions than last year's--my time was 42:04, compared with 48:06 in 2009. I'm guessing a maximum of 30 seconds of that difference came from swimming the race better.

    The highlight of the day was catching up with a number of my open water buddies whom I haven’t seen all summer. I would have stayed out on Governors Island longer and enjoyed the hammocks post-race, but thunderstorms were threatening. (I did get some hammock time yesterday, when I went out to scout out the race course and when the weather was gorgeous). Chaos was there and won his age group, and I was happy to get to chat with him a bit afterwards. He was on Sharpie duty during race check-in, and incorporated a smiley face into my race number which obviously brought me luck.

    One interesting thing that they did during this race was to have a number of “Swim Angels” wearing different colored caps who were designated as helpers/calmers-down for anyone having anxiety or distress in the water. They basically just hung out in the water and made sure people were comfortable and happy, gave directional/sighting advice, etc. I think this is an idea borrowed from triathlons. They also had some volunteers on land doing the same thing before the race.

    Tomorrow we head off to Lake Placid for a few days, and I’ll get to swim in one of my all-time favorite swimming spots, Mirror Lake.


  13. Sunk Redux: End of the Summer Open Water Swim

    by , August 10th, 2010 at 12:40 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    It's not the years in your life, but the life in your years that matter.

    --Anonymous, date unknown


    How quickly my once proudest boast, "There is not one ounce of fat on this boy!" has transformed into "There is not one ounce of boy in this fat!"

    --Jim Thornton, 1983

    *

    The summer continues to pass by in a humid blink. With each passing year, the acceleration of time's flow becomes that much more bamboozlingly rapid. For a FINA-58-year-old like me, no sooner have I had such thoughts than a natural worry comes to mind. To wit, how will I possibly have time to make my burial preparations, so quickly are the nanosecond-like years speeding by.

    But then I think: Oh, what an impractical worry you are torturing yourself with, Jim! Given the speed of time's passing, the friction alone will burn you to bits, a spontaneous combustion that all but eliminates the need for any additional mortuary science!

    And I find peace in this.

    It seems like only a half hour ago since the Range War! of inchoate animosities broke out on the forum, stoked by misunderstandings and turf battling nincompoopitude that very few, if any of us, understood. Not that it stopped very entertaining criss-crossing spurts of bile from ejaculating into every corner of the forumite community!

    It seems like only a second ago that I contributed two new slogans to the USMS greater community--one, of course, not mine at all, but rather a "found" gem, like Marcel DuChamps legendary "readymades," the most famous of which was arguably:



    Fountain by Marcel DuChamp

    USMS Forums:

    A cesspool full of combative weirdoes and irrelevant losers!

    Forum T-Shirt Slogan "Found"by Jim Thornton

    [ame="http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=17197"]Forum T-Shirt Logo Poll - U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame]


    USMS! Where Sad Old Men Go to Die

    Advertising campaign tag line ideated by Jim Thornton

    [ame="http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?p=222988#post222988"]What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members? - Page 2 - U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame]

    Perhaps such ideas are ahead of their time; in any event, they garnered little interest at the time of their posting, and I suspect they will garner little interest now. I include them here only so that 1,000 years from now, swimming cultural anthropologists might perhaps unearth from the rubble of today's ephemerata valuable clues as to how the sport evolved to what they are doing then from what we are doing now.

    I daresay such historians will look upon today's strokes with the same bemusement we now regard the doggie paddle!

    But enough speculation.

    Let me get to the point of today's entry: the official announcement of The Jim Thornton Annual Pre-Birthday Open Rough Water Shark and Snapper Blue 2-Mile Swim.

    Two quick modifications. I thought that last year was the first time I did this, but it turns out it was two years ago. Moreover, for the second event, I am planning to change it from a 2-mile swim to a 5K swim.

    Thus the new name--and the way I hope you will note the event on your desk calendar, Blackberry-like device, and other reminder technologies is:

    The Jim Thornton Bi-Annual (not to be confused with Semi-Annual, as I almost did) Pre-Birthday Open Rough Water Shark and Snapper Blue 5K Swim.

    Here are the particulars:


    1. The JTBA(ntbcwsaaiad)PBORWSaSB5KS (for short) will be held sometime during the week of August 23-29th, that is, after the Colony Zones LCM Championships are over at the U. Maryland.
    2. The venue for the swim is Ocean City, New Jersey, not too terribly far from my twin brother's house, in the Atlantic Ocean, with the finish line being the pier at 52nd Street, I am pretty sure, though it's possible the pier is on 53rd, 54th, 55th, or 56th Street. This detail will be worked out before the starter's signal blasts or tweets.
    3. Chances are fairly good that I will be tired from the LCM meet and probably won't want to hold my event on Monday, or even Tuesday, though these days cannot be ruled out. The actual day will be announced here on my blog at least 24 hours in advance of the actual race.
    4. The starting time for the event will be after 5 p.m., because you don't need to pay for a beach tag after 5.
    5. On the day of the race, I will ascertain whether the rip currents are yanking swimmers in a generally north to south direction, or reverse. I will then use my brother's car to drive 3.1 miles up or down the beach accordingly (we will be swimming with the current, not against it) to establish the starting point.
    6. This event is not sanctioned, not recognized, not safe, not protected by life guards, and possibly fatal for a variety of reasons foreseeable and unforeseeable.
    7. This event is not really an event. It is more of a communal coincidence. If you want to do a purely personal swimming challenge entirely of your own volition, and you want to coincidentally do this when I do it too, and perhaps even race against me, why then I cannot stop you! It is a free (and under normal circumstances a litigious) country, though there are absolutely no grounds whatsoever for litigation with my communally coincidental swimming thingy.
    8. The above notwithstanding, I will have indemnification papers and liability waivers for you to sign if, in fact, you act against my strongest recommendations TO NOT DO THIS UNSAFE ACTIVITY, which could involved run ins with sea life including, but not limited to, snapper blues, sharks, selkies, and crabs.
    9. My cell phone number is (412) 651-2100 and my email address is jamesthornton1@comcast.net. (If you haven't already, please befriend me on Facebook, too, at James Scott Thornton.) If you are going to be anywhere near Ocean City that week and want to swim, let me know and I will send you a text when I figure out the day.
    10. My twin brother John might be cajoled into filming the event.
    11. He does have a garage. Knowing John, I think he would consider a reasonable rent for anyone who wants to camp out in his garage the night before or after the race. I should add that my son Jack once said when he was 6 or 7, "Uncle John, you have a serious green head problem"--green heads being these biting flies that thrive on the salt marshes against which John's garage abuts. Again, there will be waiver and indemnity forms to sign for any potential garage campers.
    12. Finally, unlike most OW events where the most threatening form of life one is likely to collide with is the Brooklyn Whitefish (AKA Coney Island Whitefish), the real challenge of the JTBA(ntbcwsaaiad)PBORWSaSB5KS is not the swim itself, which should be relatively easy, especially if the current is strong, but rather dealing with the psychological creepiness of the venue. To wit, you have to go out a fair distance to reach water that is not being buffeted by breaking waves. The water, though extremely clean, is nevertheless murky; and in this murk, the shadows of monsters do occasionally appear to play about. Once, when I was swimming through the pier pilings, trying to avoid being dashed against the razor barnacles encrusting the wood, I saw something about 6 feet across float by right underneathe my body. It was a large ray of some sort. But by the time I realized it meant me no harm, there were a few involuntary palpitations triggered by proximity to such a murk-dwelling leviathan! I guarantee that anyone who signs up for the swim will have phantoms, real or imaginary, to deal with. They become all the more sinister, I must say, when one has swum so far off shore to avoid the crashing surf that land itself occasionally disappears totally from view when one sinks into a wave trough!
    13. But still, it's very fun, and the water is a wonderful cool temperature, the perfect antidote to this summer heat and global warming foreshadowing!
    14. Here is a vlog from yesteryear about the first official race, which I must say I won handily. I will also separately link the film my brother made of that special day, a film he named simply, Sunk!

    http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=791

    [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kso-cO0RrJU&feature=player_embedded"]YouTube- ‪Sunk‬‎[/nomedia]

    Updated August 10th, 2010 at 01:09 AM by jim thornton

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  14. Jimsley's Inferno, Day 1

    by , August 26th, 2010 at 12:05 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    On Friday, August 20th, 2010, your narrator mounted his Honda CRV and headed to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, destination destiny.

    After 4.5 hours, I was six miles away from my second home in Vienna, Va. One additional hour of rush hour traffic, I emerged from the Honda feeling a bit like a crucifixion victim allowed to come off the cross.

    Leslie greeted me warmly, then a blond bombshell walked by, and I wondered why extras from Mad Men were also staying at the home Leslie owns through marriage and toil, and I own through squatter's rights, not that this bothered me.

    (Brief aside: I am on hold with the Norton anti-virus company, and I can't do anything else but sit here and type, and I am going to make no effort whatsoever to restrain myself in the verbiage here. I am, in other words, going full 18th Century on my readers, that wonderful time of yore when readers had attention spans, and writers were paid by the word, the more the better. Ready yourself for a long, long, long and gloriously meandering read here, occasionally interrupted by the lady's voice on the telephone offering me other options for accessing Norton via online chat, email, etc.)

    Anyhow, the Blondie turned out to be Ali, Leslie's not yet 16-year-old daughter, the kind of a babe that probably statutorially entrapped Jack Nicholson's into the Cuckoo's Nest and his Ratchety punishment.



    So anyhow, I opted to stay in Leslie's son's room, who was sleeping over elsewhere, and when I went up to unload my stuff, Ali said, "I can't believe you are sleeping in my brother's bed."

    I asked her why. She said because it was unbelievably disgusting. "Do you know what bad things he does there?"

    I could not imagine.

    Before I could self-edit, I found myself singing the lyric from the True Blood theme song: I wanna do bad things with you.

    [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxINMuOgAu8"]YouTube- True Blood Opening Credits[/nomedia]

    Ali ogled me peculiarly.

    Rich arrived soon thereafter.

    Let me quickly say at the outset here, before the wall of words becomes too overwhelming and I begin to shed readers like head hairs (I am still waiting for the next available customer service representative, by the way, on hold now for 25 continuous minutes and counting) that Rich Swim Stud Bell is an absolutely capital chap, and if you ever, ever have the chance to meet him in the flesh, your life will have taken one giant step towards fulfilling completion.



    Rich SwimStud in a pensive mood.

    Rich and I started discussing how lucky we were to be staying at Leslie's house for Colonies Zones, then I happened to mention that I technically was part owner of the compound, and that to be fully accurate, he, Rich, was lucky to be staying at Jim and Leslie's house, and I explained the squatter's rights business.

    (Damn this Norton woman is annoying.)

    Anyhow, Rich said there was just a court case in Connecticut where someone was a guest in someone else's house for two weeks, and that when the owner tried to get the deadbeat schnorrer out ( [ame]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schnorrer[/ame] ), it turned out that if after 2 weeks tenancy, you are a legal resident and have to be legally evicted!

    I quickly made sure that Leslie knew I had been living in the Compound since SCY Colonies Zones championships the past April and had simply gone out for a bottle of milk and gotten lost, but that technically, I had been living there uninterruptedly for four months!

    By the way, at that meet, readers may recall that I did my lifetime best in the 200 yard freestyle, breaking 1:55 for the first and only time. On the "event rankings" and later the "preliminary Top 10" list, this was good enough to earn me a tentative 10th place in the Top 10.

    I am thrilled to announce this held:
    200 Freestyle SCY Men 55-59 (2010)
    # Name Age Club LMSC Time
    1 Michael T Mann 55 CMS Colorado 1:48.79
    2 Jack R Groselle 55 O*H* Lake Erie 1:49.76
    3 Phil L Dodson 57 IM Illinois 1:51.71
    3 Brad Horner 56 WMAC Wisconsin 1:51.71
    5 Paul G Karas 55 MICH Michigan 1:52.01
    6 Jim Mc Conica 59 VCM Southern Pacific 1:52.32
    7 Larry B Krauser 56 HMS Inland Northwest 1:54.03
    8 Larry W Wood 56 TXLA South Texas 1:54.48
    9 Donald B Gilchrist 56 NCMS North Carolina 1:54.73
    10 James Thornton 57 TPIT Allegheny 1:54.89

    (Norton hold time: 45 minutes and counting. Basically, what I am trying to do is this. I just renewed my subscription to the tune of about $48. Then, this morning, I learned I get a better version of Norton for free through Comcast. I want to get my money back. Boy, they do not like to talk to you when the moolah is being regurgitated!}

    So, time passed, Leslie cooked an absolutely delicious dinner for us, jokes were made, suit changes were discussed, bowels were nervously evacuated, hot flashes were experienced, reading glasses were misplaced, and the air conditioning setting was lowered to Arctic levels.

    I went up to the bed where bad things have been rumored to have been done...

    Lordy!

    ---------------------------------------

    Okay, it's roughly nine hours and 200 years later, and I have my computer now protected by a new free Norton suite complimentary with Comcast Business Class, and I have had my payment for renewing my old Norton antivirus rebated to my credit card.

    Let me make modern short shrift of what had earlier in the day looked to be a 678 page Gothic novel of swim meet remembrances.


    • I slept in Zak's bed with the air conditioning turned to 66 degrees, the arctic blast evidently blowing from an overhead duct directly upon my socks-less feet.
    • Leslie, Rich, and I ate breakfast, lollygagged, then drove to the meet at the U. Maryland.
    • Rich shaved my back in showers. It was an unbelievably kind gesture. I had hoped for Ali and a couple of her friends in bikinis to do this, possibly humming the True Blood "I wanna do bad things with you" theme song, but when the chips were down, it was Rich Counter-Homophobic-SwimStud nonpareil who actually did this for me. You, sir, are a capital chap in an era where capital--the rich uncle of cash--is the King of Kings.
    • During the first 10 feet of my warm up, my toes and arches began cramping. I told myself this would go away. Some1600 meters of warm up later, my distant appendages continued to do a St. Vitus' Dance of their own, no conscious input from me whatsoever.
    • Last year at Indy, the only event I made the Top 10 in was the 200 LCM free. It was my first event in this meet, too.
    • Put on the speed jammer and hoped for the best in my dolphin-like hairless slick. Dolphins, however, do not get dorsal fin cramps.
    • On the start, I felt my legs cramping, but they semi-calmed down. I knew with the FINA mandated suit change, I would be slower this year than last year, but I didn't want to wimp out. I took the first 50 out fairly briskly, did a flip turn, and...
    • felt my left toe barely graze the wall. I actually wondered if I had touched the pad hard enough to register my presence. I almost went back to touch the nearly missed wall again, but then realized I would just argue my case afterwards.
    • I began kicking in a frenzy, my little arms joining the frenzy in an effort to accelerate from a dead stop to some actual forward progress.
    • This was a mistake.
    • Both sets of piggies, their attendant arches, and the calf-bones-connected-to-the-ankle-bones all fired a coordinated spasming attack cramp. For the next 50, I swam in a panic, all arms, my feet at right angles to my shins, trying to work out the cramps and soldier on.
    • Nearing the 100 m. mark, I realized that I was getting exhausted from this exercise in frenzied but mysteriously slow swimming, and realized I had to slow down a little or I wouldn't be able to finish.
    • The third length, I tried to lengthen out my stroke as I continued to work out the foot cramps.
    • The final turn was good, but I pushed off gingerly, hoping not to fire up a fresh insurrection of angry muscles. Once safely off the wall, I began to speed up, and found myself hoping against hope that I might actually have salvaged a mediocre time out of this, my best-chance-by-far-historically-speaking for making the Top 10 at the advanced age of 58 (deep into the heart of an age group whose members move, with relentless inexorability, ever closer to frailty and death with each passing day.)
    • This false hope was not to be.
    • Last year's time and splits in a B70 kneeskin:

    Leg Cumulative Subtractive
    1 32.37 32.37
    2 1:07.06 34.69
    3 1:42.01 34.95
    4 2:14.73 32.72


    • This year's pathetic performance swum in a Speedo LSR loaner jammer, with shaved back and literally cold feet:

    Leg Cumulative Subtractive
    1 31.51 31.51
    2 1:10.03 38.52
    3 1:49.50 39.47
    4 2:25.80 36.30


    • I was utterly miserable. This was a much slower time than I had done earlier in the week, at the end of practice, from a push off!
    • As much as I am prone to making excuses, I rarely believe them. Leslie and Rich told me that my 200 was bad because of the missed turn and the cramps; I knew the real reason. My 200 was bad because I was a bad swimmer. I seriously considered quitting forever. The thought that I have been fooling myself for nearly a decade now, thinking I was a mediocre swimmer as opposed to a bad, bad, bad swimmer, a beneficiary, if you will, of a cheating suit technology that provides approximately 6 seconds of help per 100 meters...well, it was too much for me to bear.
    • Flash forward to the 50.
    • Last year's time, again in B70 body suit, was a 27.76. This year's time, in a jammer, was a 28.26--exactly one-half second slower.
    • This did improve my mood a bit, I do concede. Not only did I still do an okay for me 50 in the old fashioned swimming costume, but my differential between Leslie actually widened. Her time last year: 28.67, which means that I beat her then by .91 seconds. This year, Leslie's time was a 30.02, which means I beat her now by 1.76 seconds.
    • A new measuring stick instantly suggested itself: The Leslie Unit, subsequently renamed the Leslie Coefficient. Rather than measuring myself by the number of seconds it takes me to swim a particular race, I will look at the differential between Leslie and me back in the glory years when she had a closetful assortment pack of then FINA-legal body kayaks to choose from, and I had the legendary Neill Williams' hand-me-down B70 kneeskin to compete in. As long as I maintained that Leslie Coefficient differential, or beat it, then I could feel I was holding ground against the Reaper!
    • Later I would discover than my 50 also widened its lead over the legendary Eney Jones, whose best times of last year and this year, respectively, were 28.42 and 30.09. If anything, my Eney Coefficient is even more impressive than my Leslie Coefficient, despite the fact that those two (one a former professional athlete, might I add) continue to be allowed by FINA to swatch vast swaths of their feminine hairless musculature with body suit fabric.
    • Speaking of Eney, here she is in the moments before beating me by over 3 minutes in the 2-mile cable swim:






    Eney Jones, specimen extraordinaire, and Jim Thornton, ordinary specimen, prepare to swim




    Jim tries to trick Eney into racing the 2 miles under water, but evidently she only pretends to fall for the ploy.



    After her victory, Eney earns the right to manhandle my girlish moobs. This kind of thing is not about sex. It is about power.


    • Anyhow, as the golfers know, drive for show, putt for dough, and I think Eney and Leslie both know who among our little tripartite menage is the real putter now.
    • Which brings us to the final event of Day 1: the 1500 with automatic filing for free of the 800 split.
    • Regular readers of these forums will recall that distance is not necessarily my bag, baby. Not my bag at all. I never would have signed up for the 1500 if the 800 had been available. On the other hand, I had something of a grudge match going with Eney, who did not finish (that is to day, DNF'd) the 1500 in Puerto Rico. In order to win, not just the 1500 but the 800 as well, all I had to do was finish. As Amanda pointed out on Facebook, if I simply F'd, Eney would have lost in one fell swoop another two legs of the five-legged LCM freestyle chair. (I should note that her 2:17.53 in Puerto Rico was probably sufficient to hold up a table by itself, but who really wants a one-legged table?)
    • Jeff Strahota, aka Muppet, aka the meet director, was a bit cold to my idea of going out hard for the 800, then spending the next hour or two cooling down on the final 700. I was afraid that if I went out too fast on the 800, without leaving myself enough energy to finish in time to keep the meet on schedule, I might not be able to finish at all. I, like Eney, would thus have DNF'd. But in my competition with Eney, I really, really, really wanted to F.
    • I opted for a mixed strategy: try a bit out of my comfort zone on the 800, reevaluate, and either loaf or finish up strong in the 1500.
    • Leslie was counting for me.
    • On lap No. 19, her little underwater counter sign said 17. I couldn't believe I'd miscounted.
    • The rest of that agonizing swim, I chanted the word Snakebit over and over. I recounted and became convinced Leslie, not me, had miscounted. On my lap 25, which Leslie said was 23, I did an open turn and said I thought she had miscounted. I finished the race, and somebody started yelling I had two more to go.
    • Afterwards, I checked with the computer operator and it turned out...
    • I had been right all along, Leslie less so. So I did a horrible time on my 1600 m, and not a whole lot better on my 1500.
    • Alas, so bad are this year's times in my age group, that if I had finished a bit stronger in both, I might have squeaked in for a Top 10 in both the 800 and 1500, this despite the truly pathetic cool down speed of my snakebit day.
    • We returned to the Compound where I attempted to unkink my crushed little legs and arms and rekindle my energies like the squashed cockroach I was. Only one semi-decent swim of Day 1: the 50. And that, I told myself, was probably the real fluke.

    After my assorted failures, Leslie tries to coax me into once again believing in myself, but once one loses faith in a false deity like me, it is very hard for even us most gullible of sheep to rekindle it.


    • Without the magic cheating suit, guys like me, I figured, are as pathetic in reality as we once believed ourselves great in imagination.
    • Back home, I got Leslie to lend me some socks, which were pink, and kept my extremities warm all night in that bed where bad things are rumored to have taken place but in my case didn't, really, I can assure you of that! A few pages of The Girl Who Played with Fire, then the nasal pillows went in my nostrils, the CPAP was turned on, and out I went for the night, shivering.
    • I also borrowed a little red jacket that didn't fit me very well. I thought someone had snapped a picture of me in my borrowed pink socks and Leslie jacket, but this picture can't at the moment be found. In any event, this was the genesis of Jimsley, an amalgam of me with the trappings of Leslie. It is also spelled Jimslie, though my brother Johnny boy, who coined the neologism, originally just went with Jimsley.
    • Tomorrow, I thought as I drifted off with 8 cm of water pressure blowing up my nose, was another day...and another opportunity for races to get F'd by Jimsley, pink socks notwithstanding.
    • More on this soon. (Readers of Dante's Inferno, in whose ranks I admit I am not a member myself, can look forward to a change of fortunes on Day 2, in which our protagonistic Jimsley, like Euridyce or whoever the guy was in the Dante book, makes his way up from Hell and into the very thick of Purgatorio!)
    • Oh, for those wondering, the following is my bag, baby, thanks to the incredibly generous Amanda Chicken of the Sea Hunt. When you think about it, between Rich shaving my back, and Amanda giving me kangaroo scrotums (so that when people tell me to grow a pair, I will have a place to put the seeds and Miracle Grow fertilizer), anyhow, between the two of these wonderful Queen-fearing British Empirians, it really does make you think we American hicks should have remained under King George's rule. It was a mistake to try going it on our own. We just aren't civilized enough.

    Updated August 26th, 2010 at 09:34 AM by jim thornton

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  15. Jimslie's Invierno: Day 2, the Resurrection

    by , August 29th, 2010 at 06:15 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    On the previous episode of Jimslie's Inferno....

    Our protagonist swam a horrible 200 LCM freestyle at the U. Maryland pool partly because of leg cramps, a missed turn, the lack of a cheating full-body suit, but mainly due to being a bad, bad swimmer.

    He then partially redeemed himself on the 50, which was exactly 1/2 second slower in jammers than his 50 the previous year in a B70.

    But just as he thought he was escaping from Swim Meet Hell, a length miscount during the pathetic 1500/1600 dragged him back down into Patheticon Redux.

    Afterward, he slunk back to the Livingston-Thornton Compound to try to recover as best he could before the second and final day of humiliation...




    Deeply despondent about his performance during Day No. 1 at Colonies Zones LCM meet, Jimslie borrows clothing items from Leslie and tries to fight off the full-body chills that have been wracking his cramp-riddled physique. Perspicacious viewers will note the reflection of Leslie (holding the camera) and legendary distance swimmer, Michelle Kagy-Schwartz (nourishing her ample bosom out of what appears to be a dog food bowl.)




    Michelle post-bosom nourishment.

    ___________________________________________

    Hopefully, I have not lost anyone with the brief recap above, but if so, please simply revisit http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=11260 and join the 485 viewers so far who have tremendously enjoyed living my abject swimming meet misery in a vicarious way.

    But enough about the distant past. It is time now to move onwards towards recalling in detail the marginally less distant past.

    I retired early, hooked myself up to the CPAP machine, read some more of The Girl Who Played with Fire in a bed where bad things are done, nodded off, and dreamed of my new residence as a swimmer, that is to say:



    Picture courtesy of the magnificent Chicken of the Sea, a woman who I hope, like all women readers of my vlog, will not be offended by the pervasive male notion that there is no worse place for a male athlete to reside during a meet than the Platypusary; and no better place to reside in celebration of meet accomplishments afterwards than the same. Alas, for Jimslie, the timing of his residency here was precisely the opposite of optimal.



    As I slumbered, I am not sure what exactly the energetic Livingston girls were up to, though it is possible they were filming a television commercial for cold creme. Which one is the daughter? Which one is the mother? Who knows? They look like mono-zygotic twins, one of whom has had a gene mutation shortly after the first cellular replication of the zygote, a mutation leading to hair color the likes of which is rarely seen outside of Lucille Ball and/or Carrot Top.

    I got up, as is my new wont on CPAP, around 6:30 a.m., crept downstairs in my pink socks, read The Washington Post, and gave myself a pre-meet pep talk:

    You suck. You are a bad, slow, pathetic worm of a swimmer. You have been deluding yourself for years thanks to those ridiculous body suits you have been wearing. You are not a swimmer at all. You are not even much of a body kayaker, but without your body kayak, it is a wonder you can swim at all. I am surprised the lifeguards let you dive in without first mandating a deep water test.

    But on the plus side, with this meet you have a chance to set a new personal low water mark. You are swimming so slowly that only an utterly incompetent person would not be able to improve on your performance in the future. Of course, the odds are overwhelming that you are just such an utterly incompetent person.


    There's something about my daily affirmations that almost always perk me up. When Leslie, Rich, Michelle, and I headed back to The University of Maryland's world-famous
    MIDOL Extended Relief (R)
    Natatorium Complex
    , (call me old-fashioned, but I really this corporate purchasing of naming rights for athletic facilities has gone too far), I was determined to show the world what I was really made of--putrescent foul-smelling pustulent rot!

    At the meet, another familiar forumite had arrived to cheer on her fellow losers:



    Alison Simpson SwinShark Moore and I do an impression of narcoleptic lemurs on meth. We are two of the very few forumites who are 100 percent committed to President Obama and continue to send his re-election campaign as much money as we can possibly afford. Why? Because we both know we will be going on welfare soon.



    After the joke photos have been taken, Alison and I turn serious. We point out each other's respective swimming infirmities. In Alison's case, it is a recently removed Manitou from her right ankle, a "cyst" that had threatened to grow into a malevolent Indian Midget God; in my case, it is an enormously fatted gut filled with visceral fat, precisely the sort of victual favored by Manitous.

    After warm-up, I noted that my legs--though a bit less cramp-prone than the day before, thanks to A) the pink socks, and B) Leslie's kindly agreement to raise the air-conditioning setting up to 67 degrees as opposed to 66, my toes were nevertheless continuing to move under their own volition, that is, with no conscious input from me. This desultory shifting around, though normal enough in my restlessly flaccid manhood, is nevertheless not the norm in my toes and invariably presages problems with cramps.

    I thus initiated a series of stretching maneuvers and anointment of the piggies with hot water in the shower.



    Jimslie shows the other Jimslie how to stretch the pectoral muscles beneath freshly shaved moobs (male boobs). Note how the other Jimslie has absolutely no need to shave her own foobs thanks to the continuing legalization by FINA of enormous technical body suit covering of female flesh. Really, if FINA had any interest whatsoever in fairness, Leslie, Eney, Michelle, et al should be forced to wear male jammers and modesty pasties. Note: I may have to vlog in the future about my campaign to mandate FINA-approved pasties for female masters swimmers. If I forget to do this, please remind me.

    As I climbed the blocks for today's first event, the 400 m freestyle, I felt my thighs cramp slightly. I told myself the following:


    • Don't dive with gusto or the lifeguards are going to have to use the hook on you.
    • Swim the first 50 slightly out of your comfort zone; the next 100 easy; the next 50 slightly outside your comfort zone; the next 100 easy; then build the last 100.
    • If you suck, you will have established a new time you can beat in the future. If you don't suck...well, you are going to suck.

    Last year's time, in a B70 at Indy, was:

    Leg Cumulative Subtractive

    1 35.14 35.14
    2 1:15.38 40.24
    3 1:54.79 39.41
    4 2:34.19 39.40
    5 3:12.20 38.01
    6 3:49.58 37.38
    7 4:25.50 35.92
    8 4:58.31 32.81

    Imagine my delight, therefore, when I looked up at the scoreboard for this year's race and saw that I had beaten this (albeit slightly) in a pair of jammers! Woo, thank god, hoo!

    Leg Cumulative Subtractive
    1 34.84 34.84
    2 1:14.68 39.84
    3 1:54.11 39.43
    4 2:32.32 38.21
    5 3:10.71 38.39
    6 3:48.23 37.52
    7 4:24.40 36.17
    8 4:58.22 33.82

    Adding to my delight here was the fact that my second 200 split was only .1 slower than my actual 200, with a dive, the day before, adding more evidence that the cramps and missed turn, more than total suckiness of body and character, had accounted for yesterday's pitiable performance in my best event.

    And adding even more accelerants on my smoldering bonfire of joy and redemption: thanks to this year's relatively pedestrian swims in the 400 in my age group peers, today's 4:58.22 actually put me in third place nationally in the event rankings (though I understand another fellow, who swam worlds masters, is also ahead of me):

    1 Wood, Larry W56 4:53.58 TXLA USMS 2010 Summer National Championships

    2 Guadagni, Peter M55 4:57.40 WCM USMS 2010 Summer National Championships

    3 Thornton, James58 4:58.22 TPIT 2010 Colonies Zone LCM & 6th Annual Terrapin Cup

    If I'd known how close I was to glory, perhaps I would have swum a few more of the 8 lengths outside my comfort zone.

    At this point, I was a little confounded. My 50 was decent, 200 awful, 400 decent, and 800/1500-1600 awful. Part of the reason I came to this meet was to see what effect the FINA suit change was likely to have on my swimming performance. I haven't swum LCM enough to really have a great sense of what various times mean, and I figured this would be a good way to cushion myself against what I thought would be a severe blow of at least 2 seconds per 100 (and maybe more) of slowing down this coming SCY season.

    But to date, the data only told me that the suit changes makes a +6 sec. difference per 100 m in the 200; a +.5 sec. difference in the 50; and a -.01 difference in the 400.

    Perhaps my final event, the 100 M free, would yield more definitive data?

    Last year at Indy, once again, in full B70 knee skin regalia, I swam this distance in:

    Leg Cumulative Subtractive
    1 29.82 29.82
    2 1:00.87 31.05


    And the year before, in this exact same U. Maryland pool, while wearing a Speedo Pro (that was stolen at the meet), I did it in:

    Leg Cumulative Subtractive
    1 29.69 29.69
    2 1:01.63 31.94


    When I climbed the blocks this time, my toes were twitching violently, and my arches were in that pre-spasm phase. Again, I reminded myself not to dive off the blocks too hard for fear of triggering cramps, and not to go out too fast for fear of dying prematurely. I knew I would be going considerably slower in my jammer than in yesteryear's full body suits.

    The question was how much slower?

    My seed time was just under 1:05, and I wondered if--rather than sandbagging--I had inadvertently anti-sandbagged.

    Somehow, I managed to finish the distance without cramps, and when I looked up at the scoreboard, I once again found reason for pleasant surprise:

    Leg Cumulative Subtractive
    1 30.09 30.09
    2 1:01.84 31.75

    This time was only .97 slower than last year's effort in a B70, and .19 in a Speedo Pro. It also, I was delighted to discover, ended up beating all the women in the entire meet. Among others, I absolutely crushed top place female finisher, Fall Willeboordse,

    Women 40-44 100 Freestyle
    ================================================== =========================
    Pl Name Age Club Seed Time Final Time Points
    ================================================== =========================
    1 Willeboordse, Fall 44 AGUA 1:00.90 1:01.86 9.00
    28.83 1:01.86(33.03)

    Who knows how many more hundredths of a second I could have beaten Fall by if she had been wearing a jammer, too, and the pasties I will devote much of next year lobbying FINA to adopt, provided someone reminds me?

    But that is neither here nor there.

    Yet.

    For now, it was time to celebrate my emancipation from the Platypusary of swimming and into the Platypusary of life!


    To the victor goes the spoils. Not that I in any way think of Michelle as spoiled.

    So, what did this meet teach me? What life lessons can you, my readers, take from my own experience in travail overcome, adversity leap-frogged, glory obtained via alternative routes?

    Let me sum up for you:


    1. If you are having trouble achieving glory, lower your standards for defining glory. In my case, if you can A) beat Leslie, Eney, and Fall in any event whatsoever, and B) swim in jammers somewhere only one to six seconds slower than your best 100 times in a cheating suit, then you, sir, are a resounding success!
    2. Positive affirmations are not necessary and, in fact, counterproductive to success. The old chestnut about "you can only achieve what you believe you can achieve" is absolute rubbish and squanders necessary psychic energy trying to talk your mind into something it knows to be false. Better by far to simply redefine and cognitively restructure misery in positive terms. Just as insomniacs often find relief by trying to stay awake, so do swimmers swim better when they prepare themselves ahead of time to swim horribly!
    3. After a meet such as this one, filled as it was with corporal, mental, emotional, spiritual, and psychosexual challenges, make sure to keep your eye on the road when driving back. I rear-ended a very angry woman while wool-gathering briefly on an entrance ramp.
    4. Finally, sitting on a guy's lap while fully clothed will not lead to panky or , for that matter, hanky--just the sort of sustained happy memory in the mind of the aged man such as me that will keep us asking for ventilators a little bit longer than we should.

    Updated August 29th, 2010 at 06:39 PM by jim thornton

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  16. Homage to the Summer of 2010

    by , September 6th, 2010 at 08:46 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    As I sit here at my desk in the waning hours of Labor Day, my back in spasms from the weekend's sporting events (3 hours, 20 minutes of tennis on Saturday; the 2 x 5K swim on Sunday; and 3 hours, 45 minutes of tennis this morning), I think we all look forward to the imminent onrush of "sweater weather"-- three or four months from now -- with a certain bittersweet quality.

    Sure, it will be good to see the late Autumnal temperatures finally dip from the upper 90s to the lower 90s; but climatic clemency notwithstanding, the hazy lazy days of summer just can't be beat by the hazy lazy days of fall, winter, and/or spring in terms of sheer unadulterated lazy haziness.

    To help us all maintain a hold on memories of this summer, my twin brother made a trio of films that nicely sum up the zeitgeist of this magical season.

    John is a wonderful film-maker in the primitive "outsider" self-taught school; a Grandma Moses of an auteur with nothing but his street smarts, a pair of high-rise underwear for support, and a Canon VIXIA HF S200 Flash Memory High Definition Digital Video Camcorder to craft his art.



    My twin brother John looks very Howard Hughes as he models some of the high waisted underwear his wife Nancy purchased for him now that our mother is no longer around to do this important job for us.

    YouTube recently invited filmmakers from around the known universe to submit movie footage for a major feature-film project entitled Life in a Day:
    http://www.google.com/landing/youtube/lifeinaday/ which promises:

    If your video is included in the final film, you'll be credited as a co-director and may be one of 20 contributors selected to attend the film's world premiere at the 2011 Sun Dance Film Festival.

    Anyhow, Johnny boy just got word last week that his footage made the cut for the final 100 hours of stuff being reviewed for inclusion by the project's director. Joking aside, I am truly proud of my twin's accomplishments in the brave new world of ordinary citizen film making!

    Before posting his three summer films, all of which do, indeed, feature water, a little housekeeping digression.

    My wife and I are opening a small restaurant later this month and are trying to decide on which sign to go for. Can you let me know your opinions?

    I should note that the location of the restaurant is the Historic District of a now defunct millennial sect, the Harmonist Society. [ame]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmony_Society[/ame]



    Picture of the original Harmonist Church not too terribly far away from our restaurant.

    The Harmonist aesthetic was plain and no-nonsense, favoring blacks and whites and simplicity in architecture, etc. This tends to favor the black, white, and brick red version of the sign.

    However, the color version is nice, too, and many (if not most viewers) have expressed a preference for it.

    The two versions:



    The sparer version (juxtaposed against the brick color of the outside of the building.)




    The more colorful version. (With further thanks to my brother for his art skills!)

    Okay, at this point, let me present the three films. With the modern attention span being what it is, I know that many people don't particularly like to click on other people's YouTube movies, but I really am confident you will enjoy all three of these films, especially if you A) have ever been to the boardwalk in your life, B) have ever tried to surf, especially at age 5, and C) have ever been warned by your grandmother, as she clutched her rosary, that hurricanes like the one outside your door are deadly, but--god help you!--you found this much more exciting than scary.

    Stay tuned afterward for one final Bonus Film, one of the most blood-boilingly brilliant works of citizen journalism you are likely to see in your life!



    To view the feel-good-boardwalk-summer-2010 movie of the year, click here:
    [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOoi2LVvM3o"]YouTube- Kids: A Music Video[/nomedia]
    (Music by MGMT)





    To view 5-year-old surfing prodigy, click here: [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPKN8Dt0t8w"]YouTube- Five Year Old Surfer[/nomedia]
    Music by
    Django Reinhardt




    To view John's charming movie about Hurricane Earl and an Ocean City resident who also lived through the non-dud devastating hurricane of 1944, click here: [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYD0bCToN8k"]YouTube- Earl and Pat, Waiting for the Big One[/nomedia] Music by miscellaneous jazz players.


    Special Bonus Feature!!!

    Finally, if you have any smug, fat-cat, butt-plugged, and insufferably Republican jerk relatives, living the life of King Tut in their starter Mansions on the Hill while railing against welfare and donating money to the Koch brothers, this movie is sure to wipe that insufferable smirk off their coddled, coupon-clipping, detestable faces!

    To view "The Gentry Discount, Ten Years On," please click here: [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O16CKTd_2uM"]YouTube- The "Gentry Discount" 10 Years On[/nomedia]

    Happy Labor Day, fellow Workers of the World!


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  17. 2 x 5K, Back Spasms, Toe Timer Unwisely Ignored

    by , September 9th, 2010 at 12:54 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Preliminary ex post facto note: when I began this vlog yesterday, I had no idea how long it would quickly grow. I have decided to embrace this length and convert what others might perceive as longwindedness into the first ever novella-lengthed swimming-related vlog. Please do not be intimidated. Those who read this entire thing can legitimately lay claim to being part of literary history.

    Since the early morning of Sunday, Sept. 5, 2010, my friend, teammate, and doubles partner Bill White and I have been undefeated in any sport by land or sea.

    It may remain this way for the foreseeable future, not because we are unbeatable, but because I am currently unplayable.


    My lower back muscles are as hard and spasmotically cramped as Dupont's new Zodiaq® quartz surface.


    Here is a picture of the human spine:





    Unfortunately, doctors seem to have trouble imaging my spine, possibly because of the intense muscularity of my body:





    In today's vlog, I shall present a brief photo essay on how my back happened to come to its current state of punitive crankiness, followed by a request (as always) for the physicians among my readership to offer their best free advice for a speedy recovery.


    Chapter 1. Out of the Ruins


    The day before our massive, uninterrupted winning streak began, that is to say, on Saturday, September 4th, Bill and I played doubles against our long time rivals, Mark and John. Let me not be accused of mincing words here: we played pathetically.


    We lost, I am pretty sure, three sets in a row, then managed to climb our way up to a 8-8 tie in the fourth set, which we decided to settle via a tie breaker, which we then lost.


    The problem with losing four sets in a row is that no match of any callibration can be added to the "win column" of our ledger.


    The scoring system that has evolved in our tennis matches is this:


    Winner of the very first point of the day:
    Indicator Point Victory. (This may not seem like much, but there have been many a time when this was our only bragging rights whatsover.)

    Winner of the first set of the day:
    Jr. Miss Championship.(a very small but developing change appears inside the tennis shorts of the winners)

    Winner of the best of three sets: Women's Championships. (the change accelerates into something full-fledged, albeit in a pre-pregnancy and baby-delivery condition)

    Winner of the best of five sets: Men's Championships. (clitoris takes on a manly stature; can be painful, I will concede, undergoing this change, especially when the full wound closes completely.)

    Winner of the best of seven sets: Super Men's Championships (the new unit becomes undeniably, even frighteningly, robust --PLUS every cell within the victors develops an extra Y chromosome, common among men incarcerated in certain maximum security Scottish prisons.)

    Somehow, I don't think females keep score in quite such terms. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I think it is a male thing to start out with a tiny vagina and slowly but surely, through hard work and struggle and indefatigability, earn a penis. Again, I could very well be wrong, and I am definitely interested in hearing what any of my legion of female readers have to say about the effect of victory on their nether regions.

    So, digression over now, Bill and I found ourselves devoid of victory at any level of the hierarchy on Saturday. We, of course, both blamed each other for losing.

    I played just as poorly as I always do; Bill, who is usually so magnificent as to defy description, was just a wee bit less so. Hence, I still maintain it was his fault we lost.

    It doesn't matter. We were determined to turn things around.

    As we limped off the court around noon Saturday, my toe was throbbing (more on this soon). I should have listened to it. I didn't.

    Chapter 2: Distance Swimming in Sweater Weather



    At 6 a.m. on Sunday morning, it was 47 degrees in Pittsburgh.



    7:30 a.m. in Monroeville, Jim models his yellow Tyre Po'Boy Swim Parka (or towel as some know it), which he believes goes extremely well with his residual Bell's Palsy facial paralysis. This smiling rictus masks his determination to never lose anything again.



    Bill gets in the pool and readies himself to swim his portion of the 2 x 5K, an event where two people swim 100 LCMs relay style till each has swum 50 of them, for a total of 5,000 + 5,000 meters, or 10,000 meters. Note that Bill is concealing the top of his suit for fear that FINA observers will try to DQ our team.

    Our chief obstacle to victory in the 2 x 5K race is the tag team of Carl Goldman, a magnificent Pittsburgh area distance swimmer, and Peggy Gross, a former Olympic Trial-ian he has recruited as a ringer.



    This is Carl on the bottom and Peggy in the 4 o'clock position in the flowered swim suit.




    In an effort to level the playing field, vis a vis suit coverage, Bill puts on a top to compress his moobs.

    (The effort to bring about parity in mens and women's swimming is taking place in many ways out here in the grass roots hinterlands. As regular readers will recall, I have an ongoing project dedicated to finding precisely the right kind of paste with which to seal pasties to the Jim Thornton Jammers 'n Pasties Swim Suits for Wet Chicks (TM) project. This has, in fact, inspired readers across this great land of ours, where equal opportunity is a birthright, to take these matters into their own hands, often creating highly ingenious solutions. Here, for instance, is our friend, Mr. Bzaks1424's ecoconscious propotype for recycling swimming medals into pasties:

    You'd smile too if your nipples were covered in gold!

    Unwilling to belabor things here, let me simply make short shrift of the 2 x 5K race pictorially:



    Jim patiently awaits Bill's return during one of the many, many 100s we swam that day, in the process, lapping a fine local yeoman and an ex-Trial-ian ringer, who promised--but later renegged on this promise--that we could "deflower" her if we won. (She claimed what she had said is that she would give us her flowery swim suit to wear if we won. As if!) Given how fast Bill was swimming, Jim barely got an average of 1:21.48 to rest before he needed to swim his own 1:21.48 leg.



    Jim glances at the clock for the finishing time: 2 hours, 15 minutes, and 48 seconds. This averages out to 1:21.48 seconds for each of our 100 x 100 LCM swims.

    Carl et ringer finished minutes later.

    RESULT:
    Your time of 1:21.48 in long course meters
    converts to 1:10.32 in short course yards


    Converted to 100 SCY swims, which we will be swimming soon enough, it looks like Bill and I were going at an average pace of 1:10.32. Bill claims, but is probably just being generous, that I swam much faster than he did. I think he most likely swam faster than I did. We are as generous to one another in victory as we are cattily vicious in defeat. Perhaps it has something to do with the changes in the nether regions?






    Bill and Jim do their signature pregnancy bump following yet another victory in their storied career of winning many times and losing many more times. This photo, posted on Facebook by Pittsburgh area phenom Marla Sanchez, precipitated the following amusing exchange of comments:

    In this photo: James Scott Thornton (photos | remove tag), Bill White (photos)

    James Scott Thornton Thank god that black is slimming!

    Bill White That is not where I want slimming though....

    James Scott Thornton my doctor told me i HAD to slim down, down there, or I could actually injure women.

    Bill White apparently you are a fantastic patient!

    James Scott Thornton He gave me one of those carrot/cucumber peeling devices, and I have been steadily sheering off 1/8th " in diameter every night now for months. I am happy to announce that my unit is now no thicker than an enraged hog-nosed snake aroused from slumber on a sunny day. Soon, it will be safe to have sex again with women other than the Octomom.
    a few seconds ago

    *
    Gad Zooks!

    I have just been informed by the software manufacturer that I can only include 10 images per blog entry.

    My quest to write the first Novella-lengthed vlog in history is being thwarted!

    We will have to pick up tomorrow in the middle of Chapter 2.

    Sorry, dear readers, for this unconscionable interruption of the spell under which I cast you.

    Hackneyed as it may be, I have no choice but to employ the cliff-hanger gambit:

    • Will Jim deflower the ex-Trialian, and, if so, will his slenderized manhood imperil her health and/or comfort level?
    • Will he and Bill win in a land sport soon?
    • Will the novella ever end, or just go on and on and on as so many fervently pray?
    • And what about this toe timer he referenced?
    • Will we ever find out what that is all about?


    And so we must bid temporary adieu to the bloated athletes, Bill and Jim.

    Adieu but not so long suckers!

    We'll be back.
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  18. Thornton Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self-Coached Victor

    by , September 12th, 2010 at 01:21 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    We last left me one week ago today (at pretty close to exactly the same time of the day as I am right now penning these words), emerging victorious from the 2 x 5K swim in the chill air of Monroeville, PA.

    (If this municipality has a faintly familiar ring to you movie buffs in vlogland, it is almost assuredly due to the work of Pittsburgh film director, George Romaro, who staged the second of his Dead trilogy --Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead -- at the Monroeville Mall.



    Your humble narrator was actually a zombie Extra in this wonderful gem of a film, and moreover, I actually received some personal direction from Mr. Romaro himself, or as friends call him, Mr. Romaro, Sir! Specifically, he instructed me to "bump into that stop sign, find out what it's about." I could go on at very great length about my experiences in the film industry, but for now, I think it best to return to the topic at hand and save my critically acclaimed acting as a zombie for future discussion.)



    My film mentor, George Romaro, Pittsburgh-based auteur whose signature work, Night of the Living Dead, provoked an orgasm of contempt by Reader's Digest writer, O.K. Armstrong. If only I could come close to such execration by the nation's leading moral arbiters!

    Just to refresh your memory, Bill and I decisively won the 2 x 5k, humbling--oh, what a weak word this is for what we did to them!--castrating?--perhaps this is too much, particularly for the distaff member of the losing team--anyhow, somewhere in between humbling and castrating the competition in what would inaugurate a still uninterrupted string of victories in any and all sports with no end in sight.



    After winning, Jim signals the local press photographers where to shoot next. Contrary to a rumor that circulated widely in the immediate aftermath of this photo's publication, Jim is not indicating he needs Cialis.

    He does, but that's not really the point.




    Note the bandaged-by-duct-tape fourth digit of Jim's left foot. This conceals a truly hideous injury (really, so much more than a garden variety boo boo) that makes his and Bill's swimming victory all the more remarkable.

    If you could peel off the duct tape now--and I would recommend adopting some kind of mask to prevent yourself from being overwhelmed by the gasses of decomposition should you choose such an unwise maneuver--you would find a blister of the most advanced condition imaginable. I have wracked my mind for just the right way to describe this blister and have concluded that it is impossible to do it justice. The closest I have come is this:


    1. Accidentally hit a pregnant opossum with your car.
    2. Exit your car, make sure the mother opossum is dead and not just playing opossum (you may well have to run over it again to make sure), then scoop up one of the mewling fetal Easter-candy like pink creatures that have spilled out on the highway.
    3. Brush off any road detritus that has managed to gather on its inflamed skin. If grime is deeply ingrained, use a little turpentine or mineral spirits to thoroughly clean the area.
    4. Put on noise-canceling ear phones if the mewling becomes too disturbing.
    5. And finally--this is the important part--spank it gently but repeatedly till the thin skin begins to sweat blood.
    6. This is as close as I have managed to come to describing the flesh of my own blister after the callous had fallen off.

    You may recall from the previous posting that Bill and my chief adversaries in the world of tennis doubles are two fellows named Mark and John. Mark is a hulking Wall Streeter who stands just under 9' and has a wingspan of 14' and a vertical leap of nearly two inches. He is the only Republican in our foursome. He understands that his well-heeled bread is buttered by the same tax cuts that would so greatly benefit the infamous Koch brothers, those rapacious billionaires from Texas who have secretly funded the "grass roots" tea party movement.

    Mark is, in other words, not a true Koch Sucker, i.e., one of those redneck dupes tricked into voting against his self interest by the Plutocratic class. Mark is a Plutocrat Lite, and you have to admire him for it: pure, naked, unadulterated, fiscal Darwinistic greed!

    Just joking, Mark!

    John, on the other hand, is an Irish immigrant to our fair shores, a liberal Democratic enthusiast like myself, and the most frugal person (other than my twin brother, the pathological miser) that I know.

    John can afford to be frugal, in part, because he can fix anything. He is the only amateur tinkerer I have ever met who can, for example, take the screen off an iPod and fix whatever is wrong with its internal workings, put everything back together, and have it actually work as good as new.

    I mention all this partly to paint a picture of our doubles adversaries, and partly to explain how they operate. To wit, John--the frugal Irishman--told me about a great deal on tennis shoes: a brand new pair of Head shoes, on sale at TennisWarehouse, for only $39.99. They had one small flaw in the way the shoelaces are constructed, but other than that, these shoes--which once sold for nearly $100 a pair--were a great bargain, he assured me.

    Mark even offered to loan me money to buy a pair.



    Here is the bargain Head tennis shoe that has figured prominently in my undoing.



    Like a poor man's Travis McGee, a rangy, muscular Jim bids
    The Deep Blue Good-by to the JCC pool as he heads towards a rendezvous with destiny on the tennis courts the next day. His crouched and hunched over gait, meant at the time to simulate the pre-pouncing posture of a magnificent carnivorous jungle cat, prefigures a different kind of hunched over gait soon to come.

    On Labor Day Monday, September 6th, Jimbo and Billbo arose early at their respective abodes and scootered and Stealth-Dodged, respectively, their way to the Sewickley YMCA tennis courts.

    Bill was in fine shape; Jim thought he was too, the twinges of back pain experienced towards the end of the 2 x 5K having all but disappeared during the healing rest of the previous night.

    John, the affable Irishman, was not so lucky. He had some kind of wound on his tennis gripping hand, ostensibly caused by a drill bit but quite possibly caused by a stigmata. He gamely tried to warm up, but you could hear him mewling ever so slightly under his breath, like a fetal opossum when you have noise-canceling ear phones on. Since I live precisely six-tenths of a mile from the Sewickley YMCA tennis courts, and since I wanted to have no asterisks on today's avenging match, I offered to scooter home and get John a bandaid and some duct tape for his modest gouge wound, which I must say was no match whatsoever for the Geneva-Convention-Outlawed kind of blister I was suffering from on my left fourth toe digit.

    I raced home on the scooter, bounded the steps two at a time, dug through my medicine drawer where I keep band-aids, 17-year-old Flexerils, and the like, bounded down the stairs again, scootered full-throttle back to the courts, handed the stuff over to John. It was time to start this revenge beat-down!

    As he played around with the band aid, I leaned forward to search through my swim and tennis bolsa for some Gu.



    Note: the Bolsa--a reusable plastic Mexican shopping bag after which they named their Stock Market--is the absolutely perfect swimming tote bag for guys who are confident enough in their masculinity that they do not mind being mistaken for bag ladies.

    This is when it happened: a massive seizing up of my lower back muscles that drove me to my knees and caused moisture of some sort to leak from my eyes.

    It was horrible!

    Somehow, I managed to right myself and gingerly moved around the court, mewling involuntarily.

    Mew! Mew-mew-mew! ****! Mew!

    Over the next 3 hours and 45 minutes, we played the series of sequential matches outlined earlier. The results:


    1. Indicator point: Jim and Bill.
    2. Jr. Misses match: Jim and Bill.
    3. Women's Championship: Jim and Bill.
    4. Men's Championship: Jim and Bill.
    5. Supermen's Championship: Jim and Bill.


    Somewhere between 3 and 4 and 5, my toe began to throb. It was but one of many discomforts in a symphony of pain that included the throbbing spasms of my lower back and the hard-to-describe agonies that come from a vagina sealing itself off and sprouting first a normal then a frighteningly robust XYY, Scottish-prison-caliber penis in its evacuated wake.

    If there is one good thing about these Head tennis shoes, it's that the blisters they induce can serve as a de facto timing device to tell you when it's time to quit.

    But in the exuberance of such a victory, which leaves the victor with only rapacious hunger for more, more, more victory (not unlike a Koch brother and his mountain of gilt), I ignored my toe timer and played longer than I should have.




    A close-up of the blister. Note how earlier layers of skin have peeled away, been replaced by fetal opossum-like pinked tissues, which themselves have been peeled away, over and over again, in a process of such frequent multiple cell replication that one wonders if toe cancer might be triggered by all this sloughing and rebuilding, rebuilding and soughing?

    That afternoon, I could not walk.

    That night, I could not move in my beddy bye.

    The next morning, I could not feed the pugs.

    A friend of my brothers recommended surgery, which he said had helped his neck vertebrae. He sent me a picture to reassure me that the cosmetic results of modern surgery are remarkable.



    Joco Cohen's post surgical neck. My lower back, he assured me, could look every bit as handsome after the knife.

    Instead of therapeutic blood letting, I decided to take the advice of a kindly reader, SCYFreestyler, who in the previous vlog left me the following sagacious advice:

    "As an experienced back spasm patient, I've found the best remedy is activity. Rest provides me no benefit. Chiropractic or DO adjustments provide me no benefit. Prescription muscle relaxers provide me no benefit. Full disclosure, I'm not a physician. Hell, I didn't even stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night. Best of luck with your recovery."

    His advice was not entirely unfamiliar to me. In a Men's Health article of mine, which I must sheepishly admit was a finalist for the National Magazine Awards, I had examined the trend by sports medicine practitioners towards an "active recovery" mindset when treating sports injuries--one whereby yesteryear's namby pamby exhortations for lengthy bed rest and the like are now recognized as chief hindrances to recovery.

    You can learn more about the "rest is rust" philosophy by reading my entire article, The Indestructible Man, by clicking here: http://www.menshealth.com/men/fitnes...100000cfe793cd

    So anyhoo, Tuesday afternoon, I scootered down to the Y, took a Jacuzzi, swam 225 yards with open turns, took another Jacuzzi, went home and continued on the regimen of generic Naproxen and 17-year-old Flexeril that I started popping like Skittles the day before.

    On Wednesday, I forced myself to go to swimming practice and went last in B lane, doing all open turns but actually swimming the whole 2750 yards.

    On Friday, our normal practice was canceled because of Pirate Night at the pool, so I went to swim by myself before this started. By the time I managed to hobble over, I had only had 30 minutes to swim before the little mateys and assorted blackguards were using the diving board to walk the plank, their corpulent young bodies no doubt targeted like missiles at the lower backs of unsuspecting swimmers like me.

    I did 2100 yards continuously, using old-man-decrepitude flip turns the whole way. Not great, but on the road to recovery. I got out before any little blackguard could jump on me.

    This morning, I was able to reach down and get the pugs' dog food bowls off the ground and feed them.

    I am still a pathetic husk of my former uninterruptedly undefeated glory.

    But I have survived worse conditions than this in the past.



    After you've had the experience of being dead, you come to realize that blisters and a bad back don't have to hold you back. All I need do now is find somebody's mother to munch on, and I will be good as new.

    My back will be back!
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  19. No Mr. Bond. I expect you to DIEt.

    by , September 14th, 2010 at 04:59 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Last night, when Rafael Nadal won the US Open against Novak Djokovic, I had an overwhelming sense of deja vu.

    Not only had I seen this movie before, I had lived it.




    Lithely muscular Spanish tennis sensation, Jim Thornton, I mean Rafael Nadal, reminds me of exactly how I once looked during the Golden Boy phase of my life, which lasted from September, 1952 till late July, 2010. Throughout this period, I was frequently asked by admiring female fans, "Jim, could you please slow down just for a second to talk to us?"

    To which I invariably had to reply, "I would love to, girls! But I can't! I am just too magnificent in motion."


    Over the past number of days, maybe weeks, possibly months, however, things have ever so slightly changed.

    At first, it was extremely subtle: the merest hint of a zaftig quality filling out my musculature, a softening of definition that lent to my physique a Muhammad Ali-like quality (as opposed to the more musclebound body type of, say, Ken Norton,) This, I told myself at first, is not necessarily a bad thing.



    Muscle definition is not the same as muscle effectiveness. If anything, a tiny bit of leavening fat appears to be an advantage in many sports.

    But zaftig, alas, was not content with staying zaftig.

    About a month ago, I graduated to what in girls dress sizes was once called "chubby" and in boys coveralls "husky."

    From chubby-husky, the fat tide rolled me on onwards--like a sickeningly rich mound of sticky bun dough over a bed of grated pecans and granulated sugar--towards pudgy, then chunky, then corpulent, before really picking up momentum and steam rolling me into the ranks of the porcine, the blimpish, the abdominally abominable, and the "constantly mistaken for Fatty Arbuckle" realm.

    For weeks now, I have sensed if not completely conceded that the only thing Rafa and I currently have in common are our magnificently unbridled stallion-like Spanish passion and indominatability!

    For Rafa in his current body, such qualities are a magnet for girly action.

    For me in my current body, they are a virtual guarantee of restraining orders.

    Still, knowing you are fat, and accepting same, are two different matters.

    Just as I only accepted that I was bald in late 2009 (before then, I would have told you I was balding, not bald), so did full gut-level acknowledgment of my grotesque body weight problem require a bit more proof to sink in.



    Of all the recent epiphanies about my weight gain--the appearance of an old man gut cleavage line, for instance, and the tipping of the scale close to 190 lb. for the first time since my 'grossest fathood' 1976 weekend of engorgement and water drinking record attempt--the one thing that finally convinced me something was very, very wrong was the sudden appearance--just yesterday-- of double chins under my manatee-like moobs.

    In the wake of this epiphany, the idea of doing something to lose weight finally took hold in me, and I posted the concept on Facebook.

    James Scott Thornton Having recently noted that I have 1) old man gut cleavage, and 2) a double chin of sorts under both of my pecs (oh, who am I fooling? my breasts), I am about to begin work on DIEt: an Inhaler Attempts to Redefine Himself. This should generate some peepers.

    This, in turn, prompted a lively exchange from some of our frequent and beloved fellow forumites.

    A sample of their replies:

    Leslie Livingston can't wait for this!

    Paul Wolf Let me know how it goes

    Leslie Livingston Do you have a plan of attack?

    Kirsten Thompson Will be following this closely as I have breasts too

    James Scott Thornton I doubt yours have double chins where bacteria can hide and putrefy, making one wonder if something has died outside his house, and then later making one wonder if something has died inside the library, and then later making one wonder if something has died by the Jacuzzi at the YMCA, before at last one realizes that the stench of death he smells is not external but internal, portable, and ineradicable.

    This I doubt is the case with your breasts.

    I could be wrong though.

    Amanda Hunt nipples standing at attention with anticipation here.

    Please indulge one more Facebook-purloined, on-topic, digression, this one posted by none other than Eney Jones, a non-chubby swimming legend who can't beat me in the 50 or 100 despite her best attempts to do so.

    Yesterday, Eney posted a link to a TED talk (eye-opening, often paradigm-shifting speeches given by various experts on different scientific topics). This particular TED talk was on the dangers of announcing your intentions and goals before you achieve them--

    TED Talks: After hitting on a brilliant new life plan, our first instinct is to tell someone, but Derek Sivers says it's better to keep goals secret. He presents research stretching as far back as the 1920s to show why people who talk about their ambitions may be less likely to achieve them.


    For more on this, I refer you to http://www.ted.com/talks/derek_siver..._yourself.html

    Of course, experts on the other side of the equation have suggested that when it comes to things like exercise programs and weight loss regimens, it can be helpful to tell your friends what you plan to do so they can support your efforts and hold you accountable.

    Who knows which approach is more viable?

    At the risk of dooming myself to failure at the outset, I will nevertheless tell you readers exactly how I intend to recapture my Rafael Nadal-like Golden Boy magnificence.

    To wit, here is what I have achieved so far and what I intend to continue to do well at least until Thursday if necessary.

    Step 1. Acknowledge you have a problem.

    Check!


    Step 2. Lose weight by Method A. Now I know there are no shortage of strategies for losing weight, from forced vomiting to amputation of less important body appendages. I plan to start with Method A, which--I'll be frank, has not always worked that well on a general population level. Still, Method A is probably the simplest weight loss strategy that doesn't involve a finger or a knife. All one must do: Stop eating.

    Semi-check!
    I stopped eating this morning after breakfast, and I plan to continue to stop eating until I pass out, at which case, continued attempts to stop eating should become relatively easy until I am revived.

    Step 3. With luck, there will be no need for a Step 3, and I will be back to a healthy weight later this afternoon or by early evening. However, should Method A fail to provide the intended pound shedding necessary, or I fail to adhere to Method A long term enough, then I will without hesitation move on to Step 3. Look for and implement Method B. (I wish I had thought this out a little better in advance. The Steps and the Methods are off by one numeral-digit--Step 2, Method A; Step 3, Method B; Step 17, Method P, and so forth. Oh, well. Nobody ever said weight loss was easy.)

    Check to come only if needed. As already indicated, I hope we will not need to move to Step 3, Method B. I just walked--somewhat dizzily--to the scale for a late afternoon weigh-in. Since not eating anything post-breakfast, I have gained a mere 2 lb., indicating that the rate of fathood ascent appears to be slowing.

    I will keep you posted until I slip into a hypoglycemic coma (one reason many doctors do not recommend Method A for longer than several hours at a time).



    Updated September 14th, 2010 at 05:09 PM by jim thornton

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  20. Adapting Medieval Technology to Modern Weight Loss

    by , September 16th, 2010 at 06:23 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Note: this vlog contains imagery of a purely scientific nature that may be found unsettling and/or actionable by gynecologists, holy men, and women. Please do not read any further if you A) suspect you may fall into one of these categories, or B) are a lawyer. Thanks.

    --the Edito
    r
    *
    Fellow travelers hoping, like me, to find an exit from their own false Imprisonment on Candy Land Island know that your narrator/favorite fatty began my diet nearly 30 hours ago.



    Using Step 2, Method A as outlined here http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?bt=45649 , I managed to lose 4 and 1/2 lb. from breakfast to dinner by eating only a light lunch and then going to swim practice, swimming 5250 lackluster yards, and spending some time in the steam bath.

    At the time, I was confident my need for dieting would soon be over.

    Alas, though somewhat less plump than when I first started this ordeal, I am nevertheless still hideous in my surfeit of flesh.

    As promised, I am now moving on to Step 3, Method B.

    And what is this, you are asking yourselves?


    _______________________


    The concept seemed vaguely familiar
    to me, this locking up
    of a troublesome orifice
    in search of pleasure.


    _______________________


    To explain the thought process leading up to my discovery--or perhaps rediscovery is a better word--of Step 3. Method B, let me briefly re-trace yesterday's food odyssey as such was lived out by me.


    • Breakfast: cereal and 9 cups of coffee.
    • Lunch: nothing.
    • Late afternoon snack: several wafer thin slices of country ham whose salt and protein content I hoped would help banish hypoglycemic bonking and cramps during my subsequent swim practice (it did!)
    • Pre-swim ingestion: One package of orange flavored GU Chomps.
    • I then swam 3800 more lackluster yards, took the ceremonial post-practice steam bath with my teammates, including a novelty-stimulus female or two, and did my official post-practice weigh-out: 180.9, the least fat-engorged I have been in weeks!
    • I scootered home and did not feel any desire to eat again, that is, until shortly after 9 p.m. I made two turkey and fresh tomato sandwiches, and though one might hope this would have proved more than enough, it merely opened the sluice gates to endless snacking foodstuffs placed by me in my gullet over the next two hours.


    Watching a repeat of True Blood's season finale, with all the au jus spilling everywhere, did not help matters.



    Bottom line here: After almost an entire day of pang-free abstemiousness, all was lost over a two-hour orgy of make-up eating.

    I waddled up to my bed and went to sleep, sort of, so fat was I that breathing was labored despite my CPAP machine blowing 8 cm of water's worth of air pressure into each nostril!

    I felt like Tony Soprano, one of those thickly mucosa-ed breathers who gasps for air sound like a beached grampus whale.





    This morning, I surveyed the damage and looked for solutions.

    It occurred to me that only two hours of an otherwise splendid day of carefree, easy dieting had ruined everything!

    For 22 hours a day, I live the life of a righteous, thin man.

    But for two hours, I become a food slut of the most slatternly type.

    Might I not figure out some way to take special precautions today to guard myself against a repeat of this for just the two hours of night-time, TV-watching, exceptional vulnerability when my inner glutton comes out to play?

    Perhaps I might create some kind of contraption that might temporarily lock up my orifice so that it could not get into trouble during a period when my Iron Will was temporarily unavailable to me?

    The concept seemed vaguely familiar, this locking up of a troublesome orifice in search of pleasure.

    Of course!



    This form of chastity belt, known as a bellifortis, (Latin for "Strong in War" or "War Fortifications") has been designed to keep lips unavailable for stuffing.



    Throughout much of the day, my own lips--thin to the point of cruelty--are hardly troublesome at all! They remain tightly pinched, offering no opening for the camel's nose of gluttony (nor its cameltoe, for that matter) to gain entrance to my gullet.




    A comely medieval frau is helped by Well Meaning Patriarchs into a necessary garment during her time of ovulation, an interlude during which her virtue is most likely to abandon ship and embrace sluttery.




    How I know first hand the maiden's temptation! How I wish for similar respite from my own temporarily insane abandonment of virtue! Could I, by some technological adaptation, tinker with the bellifortis to keep my paper-cut thin wanton lips from stuffing during the hours of 9 p,m. to 11 p.m.?



    For hours and hours, I roamed the Internet, searching for modern approaches to yesteryear's Chastity Belt solutions, ones that I might adapt to create my own dieter's Step 3, Plan B proprietary device. Finally I found the answer I had for so many feverish and throbbing hours sought! Release was at hand!

    With my brother John's help, I designed and manufactured a prototype, which I am hoping to put into mass production for sale at K-Mart in the very near future.

    I am negotiating with Martha Stewart even as we speak for some kind of It's a Good Thing licensing arrangement.

    In the meantime, I plan to test it out and get back to my fellow swimmers with notes on my flight back to Golden Boy status. Wish me luck!

    In less than 4.5 hours, the witching hours will be upon us once more, and I plan to use my new device to completely bar any invagination of foodstuffs and beverages alike into buccal cavity from from 9 to 11 p.m.



    Note: I am confident to the point of bursting that the Jim Thornton Chastity Head Belt & Pie Hole Blocker (TM) will do what we all know needs to be done.


    Can a letter from a certain committee in Stockholm be far in my future?

    Stay tuned.
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