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  1. Omnes Vloggia in Tres Partes Divisa Est!

    by , February 3rd, 2009 at 11:32 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Omnes Vlogia in Tres Partes Divisa Est

    Or, as Caesar himself might have described today’s practice:

    Veni to the pool, Vidi how hot and disgusting the water was, and Vici despite myself

    Part. 1. Bill

    This morning, I received a couple emails from my best swimming friend in the world, Mr. Bill White, father of Liam White, who at age 8 handles all my more complicated technology installations and software problems. Bill handles the easier snafus. Bill is also the father of Ciara, the cutest little girl in all the world. When I was going through a particularly stubborn bout of depression a while back, the application of Ciara to my head like a tablet of skin-leeching ketamine was as close as I could come to feeling like my old self.

    Bill White, best friend, and Ciara White, human antidepressant tablet

    Liam White, Boy Genius

    One of Bill’s emails described the removal of a kidney for transplantation purposes through a woman’s vagina. He suggested that I might consider having part of my liver removed through my anus and writing about this for Men’s Health magazine, my employer, for at least the myopically foreseeable future. I thought perhaps I should instead specialize in removing transplantable tissues through women’s vaginas, that I thought perhaps I would be better at this. Bill suggested that I could tell them I have a special surgical trochar that is particularly effective at such removal. I replied that I do indeed have such an instrument. And just as oilmen remove petroleum from deep in the earth by paradoxically pumping stuff in, so does my trochar work on this same pumping in to remove pay dirt out principle.

    But this is off the subject of today’s vlog. I just thought perhaps some of my readers might enjoy a bit of romantic whimsy, seeing as Valentine’s Day, aka, VD, is not that far in the future.

    Bill’s other email was, however, to prove the subject of today’s vlog. (Sorry for yet another momentary digression here, but I am using the word “vlog” of late interchangeably with the word “blog.” It is true there is not official video accompanying today’s post. However, I am hoping that I might be able to paint a video with my words that the reader can run through his or her own cranial VCR apparatus.

    Example: Imagine Jessica Alba laying herself upon my chaise longe and announcing, as she removes her backless hospital gown, “Okay, Dr. Thornton. I am ready to have my kidney extracted by this novel means of yours.” Now imagine a couple lovely nurse-fluffers bustling around me, unbuckling my belt, and so forth. I say: “Trochar! Stat!” And within a minute or two, the nurses have the instrument ready and glisteningly sterile for the procedure.

    "I'm ready for the procedure, Dr. Thornton!"

    Here is a link to Bill’s other email, i.e., the one actually relevant to today's vlog. It is a press release entitled:

    "New Study Reveals Swimming Can Cut Men's Risk of Dying in Half:
    Research shows swimming may be the prescription for longevity."

    The good news here is that guys like me, at least if you believe research conducted and supported by the National Swimming Pool Foundation, and there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t believe such research, anyhow, the good news is that guys like me don’t have to die young, and in fact, we will be around for a very, very long time hoping to shove our trochars in to remove young women’s kidneys whenever the need for donor tissue arises. (And the way we old coots drive our Cadillacs, god knows there will be plenty of need for donor tissues!)

    Part 2. Ronald Gainsford, Redux

    Last night’s practice was incredibly grueling. I managed to finish it, come home, get in bed, read this awful book about a woman serial killer, a book that I tell myself during daylight I am not going to finish, but when night time comes around and natural grogginess is turbocharged by the Sandman’s imminent visitation, and I am too doltish to think of anything besides impossible evil vs. improbable good, I find myself turning once again to the bosom of this woman serial killer.

    Where was I?

    Oh, so I get up, waste a lot of time, think I have made progress, check, realize that progress was an illusion, send a friend of sort a couple quotes from Marcus Aurelius, and call it a day.

    Mr. M. Aurelius of Rome

    Then I go to the Y for a restorative super slow Tai Chi swim to keep massive adhesions from cementing my few remaining muscle fibers into the deltoid equivalent of lock jaw.

    On the way, I stop at our mailbox and retrieve an oversized manila envelope from Ronald Gainsford, the fellow regular vlog readers will recall is a 79-year-old heart transplant recipient and incredibly accomplished swimmer who was one of the top 5 butterfroggers in the early 1950s, when “breaststroke” consisted of fly arms and breast kicks.

    When I got to the Y, Ronald was there, as always, swimming a practice. He told me he has been gradually upping his effort to get ready for Worlds when he turns 80. He said that the hard thing was that he works his ass off in the pool to get stronger, then he has to go home and take all this antirejection medicine that makes him physically weaker. If there exists a more admirable Sisyphus swimming on Planet Earth today, I have yet to meet him.

    When I got home, I scanned in Ronald’s letter and pre-Steeler game picture, complete with overhanging icicles. For what it’s worth, Ronald told me that he could not watch the last 10 minutes of the Superbowl because his heart could not take it. He kept his head down during the actual plays, and only watched them on replay.

    Here’s Ronald’s latest note. I think this is the best evidence of all that the research Bill sent me was, in fact, valid.

    Part 3. Dysthymia.

    I have been sinking ever so slightly of late into a pit of despair, not sure exactly why, but the collapse of the global economy in general, and my economy in specific, might play a slight role. On this note, I shall now quickly paste in the two quotes from stoical philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, that I sent earlier to my Facebook friend. If these provide you any solace or succor, I am glad to have done so.

    1. Time is a river, and a violent stream. For as soon as a thing is seen, it is carried away and another takes its place. And this will be carried away too.

    2. Never surpass the sense of your original impressions. Perhaps they tell you that a certain person speaks ill of you. That was their sole message; they did not go on to say that you have been harmed by him. Perhaps I see my child suffers illness; my eyes tell me so but do not tell me his life is in danger. Always keep to your original impressions; add no interpretation of your own and you remain safe. Or at the most add a recognition of the great world order by means of which all things come to pass.


    Special thanks to A) Mr. Onefish, whose kind comment about my vlog inspired me to postpone the female serial killer’s shenanigans for a little bit tonight and write this instead, and B) all you lovely young women out there in Swimmingville who have begun the not-easy but still-right decision to donate one of your kidneys to needy children, and to let me extract this kidney through your vagina, despite the fact that the procedure I will be trying has yet to receive FDA approval.
  2. Whipping a Cream Puff

    by , February 5th, 2009 at 07:30 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I am about to take a sabbatical from scrofulous topics to allow my soul to heal. Replacement swimming-related topics will soon include such time-tested crowd favorites as:

    • Depression, the serotonergic system, hippocampal neurogenesis, and swimming motivation
    • How to be a better fan of Jimby: 25 ways to witness my Vlog more perspicaciously and in so doing contribute to the Vloggist's mental (and eventually, one hopes, financial) well being
    • Actual resumption of movies featuring actual shots of water

    I anticipate that this might lose me a few viewers who have stumbled upon my Vlog from outside our parochial community, after, that is, having accidentally Googled "buboes, trochar, vaginal kidney removal, girls, girls, girls, Jim Thornton" or other such common search terms.

    To ease the transition from the low to the high minded, I will today attempt a middle-minded entry: one that features arguably the most universally loved and Internet stalked woman swimmer, after Leslie Livingston and the mystical Mermaid, in the USMS sorority.

    Lovely Leslie Livingston with ultrahigh cheekbone bestows an otherwise unwarranted moniker on Rich "SwimStud" Bell. Note: what exactly is that on Rich's neck?

    Mermaid, cropped, loveliness extant despite this

    I refer, of course, to:

    Kristina "S(he)-Male, the Cream Puff" Ulveling, Scandinavian swim goddess and Princeton graduate

    Fans of Cream Puff's swimming prowess may know that she works out with teenagers on a USS Swimming team, and that she is trying her best to post life time records despite being in the 35-39 year age group, and hence at least two decades past her prime as defined by the Clampett Family.

    Ellie May Clampett, 19, an marriageable old maid
    who, like Cream Puff, put the best face on her crone qualities.

    But enough preamble.

    Let us cut to the chase here, what say you?

    The Maguffin nutshelled: Within the last week or two, Cream Puff Ulveling posted a note on Facebook detailing her performance in a recent USS swim meet.

    It was stunningly good.

    There would be a long list of swimmers aged 15, 17, 13, and the like. Then, at the very top of the list, give or take a place of two, would be someone aged 37!

    That someone was our little Puff!

    So I sent her a quick Facebook note to show my admiration for her ability, despite being a withered ancient harridan, to beat the youngsters.

    But let me not tell you about our conversation. Let me show you it, complete with pictures.

    My comments in manly bold "Impact" font.

    Kristina's comments in purplish pink "Georgia" font.

    Kristina, you are one magnificent specimen, a human pug if ever there was one.

    I don't know which races you used the B70 for, and which you didn't, but the only ones I can beat you in are the 50, 100, and 200 freestyle. Everything else, you squash me. And if you were wearing the non B70 for these shorter freestyles, you might beat me in the "only marquee events that truly count" too!

    Well think you Jim. However, I protest! I looked up your times and feel that I take you in every event but the 100 FR. I didn't actually try in the 200. LOL Do I sense a gridge coming on?

    Note: I am not going to change any of Kristina's wording, for she is the Princeton grad, not I, think you very much. However, her reply here sent me to the record books to see if indeed she was close to me in any of the shorter freestyle events.

    First, I looked up me so far this year, then I looked up her (not listed, alas) so I had to go to last year's Top 10 listings. I shall paste in the findings:

    Jim as of Feb. 5, 2009, at 6:55 pm eastern time. One needs no eye wear or squinting to see that our Jimby is currently in 1st place.

    Cream Puff as of some moment in Ancient History. It's really hard to read, but in the 100, you will see (if you squint) that our Puff is in 7th place.

    Oops, in my overconfidence I accidentally omitted the word "can" take you. This is going downhill fast. . .

    [picture of me, Jim Thornton, originally posted in this very spot right here was deleted because I found out you can only have a total of 10 pictures in a blog post. The deleted photo just showed me in a hot tub, my lithe musculature golden from the sun, a kind of unconscious oozing of male sensuality reaching out to grab the reader by her neck and massage it till she goes limp with pleasure and relief from stress. Really, you aren't missing much.]

    Kristina, even if what you say is true, the supreme marquee event of all swimming time is--and I don't think even Grant Hackett and Janet Evans would dare disagree with this--the 100 freestyle.

    Why is it, do you think, that an aging male with a history of extensive psychiatric prescription use would be able to best a young, firm, hard-bodied dystaff vunderkind in swimming's marquee event?

    Yes, you are correct!

    It is because I have two adorable pugs, and you have only one--as cute as little Wanky is, (s)he's a solitary pug and thus unable to train your core the way Lefty and Biscuit train mine!

    P.S. Kristina, to try to get more viewers on my vlog, I am going to feature you. I hope you don't mind. I will let you know when it is up. --Your stalker.


    Final note: After posting this P.S., I did give Kristina 17 seconds to reply with any objections. When I didn't hear anything, I turned Facebook off and put today's Vlog together.

    To sum up:

    I am better than Cream Puff in the 100 Freestyle. And probably the 50 and 200, too. Na na na boo boo!

    I am a scrupulously fair-minded person, however, so I will allow the whipped Cream Puff to have the final word here. Since she didn't exactly say anything, I shall let a photo of her do the talking.

    And on this note, my sabbatical from the scrofulous begins in earnest...unless I receive dozens and dozens of protests to the contrary. Or at least one.
  3. Breast Buds and Dysthymic Pugs

    by , February 7th, 2009 at 05:58 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    As hinted yesterday, and fulfilled today, there is a new Thornton Twins film for your viewing pleasure today.

    So sweet is this visual confection, however, that I fear it might rot your teeth if you do not first consume something more meaningful and less pleasant to swallow.

    So, for your own good, I include the first ever preamble homework assignment for Vlog the Inhaler viewers. Note: I know you don't want to do this. I know you would rather be consuming intoxicants with your friends or children. I know you would even rather be tapering.

    But homework is for your own good.

    Here it is:

    1. This will be my 40th posted vlog, which puts me currently in 12th place for overall number of posted blog entries on USMS. The No. 1 spot is currently owned by my friend, Leslie Livingston, with 126 entries. As much as my fondness for Leslie knows no bounds, so does the necessity of "killing the Bhuddha" require that I either beat her in blogging, or blind and castrate my father and have sex with my mother. There are no other alternatives. I have made the excruciating decision to dispatch Bhuddha Leslie and leave be my parents' cremated remains.

    2. In terms of posted comments, I am doing slightly better in the competiton for supremacy. My vlog has currently received 279 comments, safely ahead of Greek Olympic God, Chris Stevenson's 223. However, the damnably affable and friendly and must be killed Bhuddha Leslie has 620 comments, which is frankly just discouraging to the competitive Jimby. It doesn't help much that my 270 comments/39 blogs equals a ratio of 6.9 comments per entry, whereas Bhudda Leslie's 620/126 equates to a relatively less spectacular 4.9 comments per blog. I suppose I could apply the Finnish formula here in an effort to make myself feel a bit better, but the thing that would really make me feel completely whole is to become an Internet Phenomenon.

    3. This is where your homework assignment comes in. Before watching the incredibly charming, Feel Good About Yourself Relative To Me, Early Oscar-Contending Short Film in both the Bible and Breast Bud categories, first:

    • go back to the beginning of my vlog and open each entry separately.
    • on the upper right hand corner, where you will see a little "rate this blog" thingy, click to open, then select "Excellent--Five Stars *****" and click again.
    • go to another computer in your house and/or workplace and/or public library and repeat this process.
    • at the end of the first vlog entry, where there is the option to leave a comment, please do so. You might want to get out a Thesaurus and concentrate on adjectives of a positive nature.
    • E-mail every person you know with this set of instructions and beg them to follow each one to a T. Note: in order to leave a comment, but not to rate my vlog as "Excellent--Five Stars *****", you must get a sign-on name and password--totally free!--and then post at least one or two quick comments in the actual forum discussion threads. This is so that Jim Matysek won't think you are spammers. Spammers! That's the last thing we want here!
    • Okay, you have completed your homework for Vlog the Inhaler Entry No. 1. Now, simply move on to Entry No. 2 and repeat the exact sequence outlined above. Yes, this does require another trip to your workplace and/or public library and/or separate part of your house. Yes it does require hauling out the Thesaurus again, though it might streamline things if you leave a Post-It note by some of your favorite positive adjectives. And yes, it does mean emailing everyone you know once again with your exhortations to follow the instructions again in exactly the same way. No one ever said homework was easy. The only thing one has always maintained is that homework is rewarding.
    • Next, move on to Entry No. 3. Pretty soon, as you get into the posting, rating, emailing, driving around town, exhorting, swing of things, it will actually become fun! Your friends scattered throughout the Internet ether might not agree, and in fact, they might even ask you to desist and when you refuse (thanks!) they might try changing their email address. Track them down! It's rewarding!
    • Once you get caught up with today's Entry No. 40, you should be able to do maintenance Vlog fan activities by rote and on a daily basis. Once inculcated, the homework habit does get easier, I assure you!
    • If there are any questions and/or snafus and/or divorces that result from too much time spent on the computer, do not hesitate to post comments about this. Suggestion: instead of one long comment, break it down into many, many short comments. ( I think this may actually be one of the ways Leslie The Bhuddha Who Must Be Met in the Road and Killed Fortress Livingston has amassed her huge advantage over me.)

    Thanks in advance for all your help!

    And now, your spirit filled with a sense of Calvinism and a hard job done hardly and well, it is time for your well-deserved reward.

    I give you a portrait of a wretch, and by so doing, the gift of feeling so much better about your own current circumstances relative to mine! Enjoy!

    [ame=""]YouTube - Breast Buds and Dysthymic Pugs[/ame]
  4. Ecclesiastes and Threats to Jimby

    by , February 8th, 2009 at 01:56 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Our Bible passage today comes from most of us atheists' third favorite part of the Good Book, that is, after Job and Leviticus. I refer, of course, to Ecclesiastes:

    There Is Nothing New Under The Sun

    (Ecclesiastes 1:9-14 NIV) What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. {10} Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. {11} There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow...14} I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

    This morning, while tidying up the flood of dross that somehow manages to accumulate in even the most austere of households, I had a sudden wild hair. (Sorry if the real expression here is "wild hare" or something else. I am not a good speller or accurate recounter of cliches, such as one foul sweep, or is it one fell swoop?)

    It's either this:

    Or this...

    Or maybe something else entirely...

    Regardless of how it's spelled, my whiled hayre sprouted or hopped up after I received an email from Australia, the gist of which is not all that important, so I will reprint it in tiny font below, the better for disregarding:

    Subject: A great online swimming resource

    Hi, I found your details while doing research on swimming websites and wanted to share some information that you and the visitors to your site might find useful.

    The resource is our “Teach Your Kid’s to Swim” website – The site provides a wealth of information for anyone wanting to know more about good swimming techniques and especially those of you with children interested in learning how to swim.

    We even have a YouTube Chanel - which you can subscribe to and be notified whenever a new video is released.

    If you think you, or anyone you know might be interested in our swimming information, we invite you to add a link to our page at: (We have provided sample HTML for your convenience below)*.

    Please let me know if you would like any further information or if there is anything further I can help with. If you do not wish to be contacted by me in the future please e-mail me to let me know.

    Steve Jones
    SiteMost Online Marketing
    uSwim Australia
    *We suggest the following link:
    Link Text: uSwim teaching your kids to swim
    Description: Online swimming lessons for your children
    Sample HTML: <a href=""> uSwim teaching your kids to swim </a> - Online swimming lessons for your children.

    This immediately raised the question: what imaginable kind of research might have lead Steve Jones of Australia to me?

    Epiphany: the Google! He must have tired of chasing skinny-dipping wallabies and old salties out of his swimming hole and Googled something along the lines of "utlimate swimming-related authorities in the United States" and found at the very top of his Google list, "Vlog the Inhaler."

    As indicated already, this Epiphany launched my wild hare to hipperty-hopperty out of its rabbit warren, or possibly my wild hair to painfully uncurl itself from its ingrown and inflamed recess. Either way, I was off to my own computer to ego surf "Vlog the Inhaler" myself to see how famous I am becoming in the ether!

    Be careful for the fame you wish for. This is, alas, what I found--the apparent rantings of a criminal maniac in full-blown terroristic threat mode: 767394656


    Upon further examination, I discovered that this possibly actionable promise of a beat-down was dated last December. Regular Vlog the Inhaler readers will note that my first post was in January, I am pretty sure.

    Thus, with great relief that this apparent madman was targeting ANOTHER Vlog the Inhaler, my anxiety quieted and swimming evangelism took over. I invited the chain-smoking recreant to stop his filthy habit and swim instead.

    I may be an atheist, but that doesn't stop me from being an evangelist for the One True Way, which I think we will all agree is swimming endless laps in an effort to shave a tenth of a second off our 50 yard freestyle times.

    The fact that there may be another, indeed a whole squadron of other, Vlog the Inhalers out there in the Internet world reconfirmed the sagacity of Ecclesiastes yet again. Just as I was bemoaning my inability to come up with anything completely original, I noticed one of the angry Mr. Shane Powers' linked blog "followers." The name of this linked blog: The Phuckery.

    Ecceliastical confirmation No. 2! There is no new Phuckery under the sun!

    At the risk of giving Leslie The Fortress Livingston even more hits, comments, and superior blog statistics, please check out a chain of comments initiated here when I, Jimby, happened to mention in a comment to Leslie that the word **** is automatically detected by special USMS Vice Police software on this site and converted into four harmless little asterisks. This software, I further pointed out, is as good at speling as I am, thus it fine to write fuc fuk fook and fucity fuk fuc fik!

    Final note for today:
    please do not allow the time you have spent tarrying on this post stop you from reading/watching yesterday's post if, indeed, you have not already done to at least a couple times already. In the race for the highest number of comments left on a swimming blog, Leslie seems to have appropriated my strategy of encouraging multiple short comments in lieu of one longish praisefest.


    Don't: Jim, I don't care how many Vlog the Inhalers are out there under the sun. You are the only one that matters to me! I love, love, love you!


    First comment:


    second comment:


    Third comment:


    Fourth comment:


    and so forth, adding considerably to my tally. Thanks!
  5. Jimbo Jumbo Gallyumbo

    by , February 9th, 2009 at 11:10 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Utterly exhausted.

    Actually worked today. Odd. A foreign experience of late.

    Blood drawn for testosterone and estrogen readings.

    The soy era has begun. Soy milk--2 giant glasses. Cliff Bar, hopefully salmonella-free, but it's possible the local supermarket decided to **** the recall.

    I like being able to use the word **** and not have to worry about it seeming bad. **** **** ****!

    I am semi-documenting my soy experiment and its effect on my swimming, but too tired to post the footage yet.

    What I will post tonight, however, is the practice I did that has left me vibrating with exhaustion and a sense that I am getting old.

    And the leading contender for the Vlog the Inhaler theme song, written and performed by the two wonderful little daughters of my swimming teammate, Mark H.

    I think that you will see their song about me has a lot in common with other songs like "It's a small world after all" and "The song that never ends."

    Catchy. Infectious. And once it gets into you head, you just want to sing it nonstop all day and all night for the rest of your life.

    Which, alas, you might also end up cutting short with a small arms round in the cranium.

    Even this, however, is not enough to stop the sound of the Vlog the Inhaler theme song.



    • 250 tai chi warm up on my own
    • 10 x 100 1:25 official warm up
    • 5 x 100 on 1:20 (1:12's -1:14s for me)
    • 1 x 500 at a better pace than above (6:12 --pathetique)
    • 5 x 100 on 1:15 (1:10s or 1:11s for me)
    • 1 x 500 at a better pace than above (yeah, right. I did a 6:22 and felt as ancient as a 56 year can feel)
    • 2 x 100 on 1:30
    • 1 x 200 fast (2:08, almost threw up; leg cramp the second 100 forcing the right angle ankle kick)
    • 6 x 50 on :40 (almost seized up)
    • 1 x 50 slow on my own to bring total up to 3600
    • steam bath
    • continued to drip sweat for a long long time after I got dressed. the pool water, by the way, was 85.

    And now for the Jimbo Jumbo Gallyumbo song. Note: absolutely no video production values tonight. In fact, after the girls give me the muuaaahhh kiss, or at least Marion does, Carrie is too old to do such things, you can shut it down. The last 30 seconds or so is just me fumbling with the camera trying to turn it off.

    [ame=""]YouTube - The official song of Vlog the Inhaler[/ame]
  6. You are an old-looking idiot

    by , February 10th, 2009 at 09:57 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    And by you, I mean me.

    The quality of my vlog is likely to go downhill for a little while as my limited powers of cognition are siphoned off in various ways.

    For one thing, I had blood drawn yesterday.

    For another thing, I am consuming a lot of soy protein, with its insidious ingredients, genistein and daidzen, compounds that beans use to kill fungi.

    These compounds also happen to resemble estrogen.


    For another thing, my new levels of phytoestrogens are causing me to take the vapors, as we ladies of Society refer to our time as women.

    Do not expect sense, transitions, a narrative line.

    This is a "hack" my swimming coach Bill's son, Liam, boy genius, figured out how to put on the Sewickley YMCA's computer.

    I like to go on to this before and after practice, check out my vlog statistics, and give my entries another couple "Excellent's--*****!":

    (Please don't forget to click "excellent" yourself--Liam deserves it!)

    Liam is a very good swimmer, but he is an even better hacker. He is 8. This still picture does not give you a complete sense of the devastation of his hack.

    You click anything on the screen, and these You Are An Idiot placards proliferate like wildfire, rendering the computer useless.

    Well, actually, not useless exactly. It becomes a very, very good electronic sooth sayer. You stare at the screen in growing fury. It tells you, hundreds, maybe thousands of times, that you are an idiot.

    Eventually, it sinks in.

    After practice last Friday, the team went out for pizza, and some of the parents brought their kids.

    Liam sat next to me, and he was so intrigued by hacking technology, that he spent much of the dinner drawing this:

    Not only is Liam very good at computer technology, but he is an excellent artist. I think that his crayon drawing of the You Are an Idiot computer screen comes closer to providing the actual experience than the photo above.

    Note 1. You can see that he has placed in his drawing various instructions for turning the mayhem off, but I am too much of an idiot to understand the encryption.

    Note 2. You can see that the pizza parlor's placemat has a map of Italy on the opposite side from the drawing. Also, I think there is a small spot where Liam dropped some Sierra Mist. Future anthropologists 14,000 years from now: Please have a field day, courtesy of one Mr. Liam White, 8, and his Boswell, one Mr. Jimby the scrivener, 56.

    Which brings us to Part 2.

    Liam's father, my best friend and swimming coach, emailed me this so that I would see if first thing upon awakening. He knows that I am a twin; that I have been on antidepressants longer than John; and that I am a caricature of John playing an old and bewildered man.

    You can actually find more out about this interesting subject by clicking here:

    (The gist: after 40, you can look younger by getting a little bit fat, which puffs out your skin, reducing the empty-baggy saggy cadaverousness that the emaciated old tend to develop; you can also avoid the sun (in your youth, alas, was the time to do it); not smoke; and--interestingly to those of us who believe that "without chemicals, life itself would be impossible"--avoid taking antidepressants, which cause the facial muscles to sag. This is probably the reason I look so much older than John. Otherwise, I should look younger. I live in a cloud forest, and I am fat. John lives in a solar zone, and he's thin.)

    Now, here is a picture of the Thornton twins:

    Oh, well. Who knows?

    Perhaps soy will prove a paradoxical salvation for the likes of me.

    I can't really call it an epiphany per se, because I think I have known this for a long time. But mark today, February 10, 2009, with my official public announcement of acknowledgement, for from this day on, I will no longer argue to the point:

    I am an old-looking idiot.

    But an old-looking idiot with a theme song written expressly for me by two adorable young looking geniuses. If you haven't listened to this already, and if you are feeling at all like an old-looking idiot yourself today, I refer you to the bottom of:

    Regardless of what your name is, be it Bobinator or Qbrain, Duckson or Kafka, just add the Gallyumbo part to your moniker and share in the rejuvenating powers of music!

    Updated February 10th, 2009 at 10:26 PM by jim thornton

  7. Good luck, Self Pity, Soy Jimby

    by , February 13th, 2009 at 09:13 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I was all set to post this yesterday when Comcast had an outage in our area, cutting off Internet, TV, and land line phones at our house. I will try again and hope it is not too late...




    Whip them Johnny Rebs down in 'Bama or wherever the hail Auburn is.


    I have decided to leave the Self Pity part out. Now, to the sickbed, in the poor house, with the vultures of the IRS gathering in a roost on my headboard, a hasty retreat I beat.

    Soy Jimby means, in Spanish, I am Jimby.

    Soy Jimby means, in English, the specimen I am slowly turning into now that I am consuming soy protein and its various constituent isoflavones in amounts that have been virtually impossible to ingest over the vast majority of human history.

    I suppose it is somewhat grammatically correct in Spanish to say, Soy Jimby y tambien soy Jimby, or "My name is Jimby and I am also this Jimby you see before you who is slowly being replaced, one molecule at a time, by soy."

    I do not think any Spanish-speaking person has ever said this. Nor do I think that it is likely one ever will.

    In any event, here is Silky mud in your eye. Forgive the misspelling in today's very short film's title. It should be "or" not "of."

    [ame=""]YouTube - Mud in Your Eye of How to Consume 25 g of[/ame]
  8. Auburn, Day 2

    by , February 16th, 2009 at 11:04 AM (The FAF AFAP Digest)
    Despite being totally sleep deprived, my body was still sufficiently rested, tapered, pampered, massaged etc. to swim fast. I feel like I really nailed the taper with significant time drops. Swam faster than I though I would. In fact, I should probably just retire from SCY now, as I doubt I'll ever swim faster. lol All time drops are "taper drops" because I've swum every event except the 100 IM in B70s. (I note this because Jimby thinks all my recent improvements are due to B70 use.)

    100 fly: 1:01.33

    Previous PB was 1:04.2 (swam that at Austin in a Pro and at the Sprint Classic in a B70). I swam this in heat 1 by myself. Had the same reaction as the 50 free. I just could not believe my time. I was hoping to go a 1:03. Shocked and super happy. My splits were 28.46/32.87. Rigor mortis set in, as usual, with about 10 yards to go. Mini-Fort says I just have to chop off one second to make sectionals. I tried to explain that this was a once in a lifetime taper kind of thing and I wasn't going to hop in and do this next month. Yeesh!

    50 back: 28.52

    Previous best was a 29.1 in September, and I was secretly hoping for a 28.9. Didn't have the best turn and was on the lane line for a bit of the second length. Still very very happy with the time.

    100 back: 1:02.84

    Previous best was 1:04.7 (did this in a Pro in Austin and in a B70 in September) and I was hoping for a high 1:03 or so. Did this as a split request in the 200 back. (The officials checked the rules and found the split request form.) I didn't have much time to recover after the 50 back. Maybe 35 minutes. I would really have preferred an hour or even 2 hours. That's the one disadvantage of tapering for a regional meet as opposed to Nats -- you just don't get the same amount of rest between events. This event hurt the most of all my races, probably because I was very very tired. Splits were 30.24/32.60. Forumite Karlene was kind enough to give me my splits and times right when I hopped (er, dragged myself) out of the pool.

    I consider this race a moral victory. I've been wanting to beat my 12 year old time of 1:04.0 for awhile. So now I'm faster than when I was 12. lol


    Taper Reflections/Thoughts:

    1. Did 6 PBs at this meet. I've done this before at a taper meet, but I think some of the PBs were just natural improvement, increased racing experience, or just not much experience in a given course. But I've never dropped this much time across every event before. I have to conclude that this means I really hit my taper right. The biggest change I made was in week 1 of the taper. I followed Chris' advice to keep yardage up (reduce only a bit), cut aerobic work and cut speed work. In prior tapers, I've increased speed work in week 1 and reduced yardage. I also got much more rest/sleep than usual during taper (took a lot of "morning naps"). This may have factored into the results as well.

    2. The Auburn pool was very fast. It was a double bulkhead pool. Didn't seem to bother me. I did have to peek to spot the wall in the 50 free though.

    3. I'm still struggling on my backstroke turns in yards. This meet, I took 3 strokes before flipping over instead of the 2 from my last meet. I guess it worked, but I felt like I had to take short strokes and was tentative on the turns. Also, I notice with my B70, I'm not getting as deep on my starts and turns and popping up sooner. Ande tells me I need to affirmatively try to go deeper and use the "suit surge." I'm definitely not doing that right now.

    3. The SCY season is in the books for me. I'm only going to swim a few events at Zones for fun. Hopefully, my times will hold up decently with those to be posted at Clovis. I'm just going to focus on SCM and LCM now, which I vastly prefer anyway. Whenever I swim backstroke in yards, I just think "another damn wall?!" Walls upset my rhythm and help tall people more than us shorter types.

    4. I have to say that I really enjoyed tapering at an unconventional time. I'm not a winter person and it gave me something to keep me occupied and focused on over these dreary months. Now, I'm really ready to turn back to some cross training and running outdoors. This is really not a bad way to go!

    5. Tapering is hard work. It requires a lot of commitment to getting enough rest, sleep, etc. I'm really looking forward to going back to not worrying about whether I feel tired or sore and doing whatever I want to do. I always feel like I've gotten a "get out of jail free" card when taper time is over.

    6. A couple people have asked me what I think accounts for the significant time drops I've had since Austin. In a nutshell, I think it's more intense training. I've generally been swimming 5x a week. When in the pool, I've done more aerobic work and more intense kick sets. And I've just done more weights/drylands, though I can still improve in this area. So, as I said recently on the SFF thread, "more is more" seems to have worked for me.

    7. Sandbagging seems to agree with me. I swam all my 100s completely by myself with no one to "race." Didn't seem to matter. In general, I prefer just swimming my own race. I don't think having someone right next to me makes all that much difference.

    8. 100 fly thoughts: One reason I was so surprised with my time is that I have not been training for the 100 fly. If you've read my blog, you'll know that I've mostly just been doing 25s with some 50s and fly in IMs thrown in. Last October, I tried to do longer fly sets to improve my endurance in the 100 fly, but suffered immediate shoulder pain. So I went back to 25s and 50s. Didn't seem to hurt me that much. Also, for the fin critics out there, I will note that I NEVER swim fly without fins. So pfffftttt. Works for me and keeps my shoulders healthy! I'm glad I've marched to my own drummer on this issue and not accepted conventional wisdom.

    Oh, and no matter how much Puff bugs me, I will never swim a 200 fly.

    Here are the complete results:

    Updated February 17th, 2009 at 12:12 PM by The Fortress

    Masters Swim Meets / Events
  9. One of the Laws of Thermodynamics

    by , February 16th, 2009 at 10:22 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I am not sure which one it is, but one of the Laws of Thermodynamics, if memory serves me even a little bit, says that energy runs downhill. Entropy is gaining on us all, relentlessly.

    Perhaps in the grander scheme, this could explain the past several months of swimming practice.

    I am wondering if anybody out there in vlog land might have less grand and more Jim-specific explanations for what is happening to me.

    I don't mean for this to sound woe-is-me-ish here, though I suppose that after playing the same instrument for so many years, it's not unreasonable to think that my words might seem to echo with at least a little bit of that atonal whiny soundtrack that has so frequently accompanied Jim utterances in the past.

    Still, I am hoping we can dissect me, and by extension, Everyman, to find out what is happening, if it is inevitable, or reversible, or slowable, or only likely to accelerate.

    Basically, the gist of my lament: my AT times are becoming noticeably worse.

    A few snapshots from my swimming practice log:

    Jan, 2003: 3 x 1500 on 20 min. in practice: times 19:20; 18:40; 18:28

    Jan, 2004: 4996 yards in 1 hour postal meet

    June, 2004: 46 x 100 on 1:20

    Sept, 2006: 4 x 100 sandwiched in between a bunch of 50s and 25s, the times for the 100s 57, 58, 57, 58.2

    Oct. 2006: 4 x 200 sandwiched in beween sets of 8 x 50 on :50, the times for the 200s 2:08, 2:08, 2:07, 2:07

    Jan. 2007: 2:08 for 200, 4:35 for 400; 7:08 for 600; 9:52 for 800

    Nov. 2007: 2:17, 2:16, 2:16, 2:11 for 4 x 200 separated by 300s

    Jan, 2008: 4825 hour swim

    Jan, 2009: 4700 hour swim

    Tonight's practice: 10 x 100 on 1:25; 8 x :50 on :40; 10 x 100 on 1:20, then I gave up and went to B lane like an abused dog, unable to complete the rest of A's practice (4 x 200 on 2:40; 4 x 100 on 1:15; 4 x 50 on :35.)

    I am just wearied out these days. It hasn't yet ruined my shorter swims, but I don't know. Swimming coach Bill thinks it's psychological, that I need some kind of placebo to get me thinking positively and trying harder again in practice. But I still find myself coming to the brink of vomiting--surely this must be some sort of index of effort, right?

    I do not want to think that I am slowing down.

    I do not want to think that I am nearing the Great Resting Reward.

    I do not want to think that the IRS will be able to feast on my remains without me so much able to raise a finger, a middle finger, to wag in their direction and say, No, Jimby prefers not to!

    "Not to what?" asks the IRS lady, her breathe reminiscent of Jimby's other female nemesis, that damnable nurse Ratchett.

    "I prefer not to! Not to anything you want! I prefer not to!"

    Wagging that finger savagely now.

    In any event, I do not want to think any of this figures in a slippage in my AT time.

    I am hoping my vlogging viewers might be able to come up with alternative scenarios to propose, to cast me a placebo, if you will, to rally me back!
  10. Spunky Po'Boy McPunkerton-Thornton

    by , February 17th, 2009 at 06:41 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    As some of you may know, and others are perhaps discovering for the first time, Vlog the Inhaler, like Sybill, is a person of multiple, and for the most part delightful and/or pathological, personalities.

    We have, for instance, Jim Thornton, AKA, James Thornton, AKA, James S. Thornton, and various other anglosaxonate aliases of this sort. Born a white male Episcopalian country clubman jr., MasterJimmy (as he was known by servants and bank tellers alike) grew up understanding that he was made in God's likeness: indeed, he and his twin brother John were, in their own eyes and the eyes of the surrounding community, as close to the spitting image of God as could be found anywhere in the firmament.

    Oh, I was also known widely as Golden Boy.

    More recently, we have Jamesuardo, the Hispanic form of the above, a little further from God's image, to be sure, a bit tanner than the clubman jr., but one of the few completely original surnames in the Internet universe, and thus one of the few people who can get email addresses and the like at popular sites without having to add an endless string of random numerals and letters. Taken, in fact, so taken that the first available facsimile is

    But To my knowledge, still robustly available!

    In even more recent times, following the adoption of atheism as my personal saviour and the epiphany that a white male Episcopalian country clubman jr. is, in point of fact, not the spitting image of God, but, if anything, the very antithesis thereof (not, mind you, that either God or Antigod now exist in the world of this defrocked former clubman who would no longer even want to be admitted to the Allegheny Country Club even if he could afford it and could find a single living soul to put him up for membership)--following all this, and inspired by the Nietzchian concept of resentiment (learned not from a primary source, but rather as such was explained to me by my still God-Like identical twin brother after John had taken a class in philosophy at UNC-Chapel Hill in the early 1970s), wherein the Germanic philosopher argued that what we want, but cannot get, is devalued, and its opposite held up as a virtue, thus explaining the "turn the other cheek" and "the meek shall inherit the earth" passive aggressiveness of the early Christian devotees, who wanted the power of their Roman bastard overlords, but had no chance whatsoever of securing this...

    Where was I?

    Oh, thus was berthed Jimby the Scrivener, who made up in utterly mild mannered ineffectual good naturedness what the former Clubman Jr. had claimed for himself in his "highest being in biological and theological evolution" birthright mentality.

    Jimby, nice, pleasant, not arrogant, not an in-your-face blackguard, but rather, at best, a gently teasing jokester whose most defiant of all positions was, as his famous scrivener inspirtation, Bartleby, taught him to say, "I prefer not to." And then make himself as deadweighty and immoveable as a stubborn toddler who does not want to be bodily removed from the toy store.

    Jimby has been a pretty good persona, all told. He lets me stalk the CreamPuffs of the world without inviting restraining orders. He lets me complain about my illnesses and IRS audits and the like without provoking a barrage of rotten vegetables hailing down upon his harmless head. But Jimby, in his submissiveness to his fate and general vulnerability to misery and giving up easily, etc. is not without his downsides.

    Jimby has his place, as does Jamesuardo and, to be honest about it, James S. Thornton, dethroned Clubman who, to be even more honest about it, would still like to play golf sometime before he dies, no matter how ugly and divot-marked the rough and fairways will inevitably become in his wake.

    But as the assortment of me's face the prospect of financial ruin and death, James S. sneering, Jamesuardo swearing, and Jimby maintaining he would prefer not to, it occurs to us that perhaps it is time for a new morph to emerge: one with the wherewithal to confront the challenges of the New Era.

    And on this note, I would like to introduce the latest neonatal form of me:

    Spunky Po'Boy McPunkerton-Thornton.

    I do not yet know that well my new aging lad who refuses to surrender but remains, cheerfully and indefatigably, a man's man and a lady's man, part rogue, part scoundrel, part rascal, part scamp, but 100 percent the kind of man that everyone, including himself, can't help but like. Beyond this, I am not sure what kind of guy Spunky Po'Boy is.

    Thanks to my kindly vlogging commentators, whose sagacious counsel has provided the impetus for this new me's birth. If you know of any attributes that you think Spunky has, swimming related or non, please feel free to let me know.

    Likable as he is, Spunky Po'Boy McPunkerton-Thornton is a work in progress. He needs guidance, perhaps more of this than Jimby, Jamesuardo, Master Jimmy, Golden Boy, and James S. Thornton, even working in concert, can provide.

    Perhaps some of you have met Spunky at some point in your lives, and maybe even have stories to recall of his rough courage in the face of adversity and difficult swimming practice sets. Feel free to make up anecdotes to share about me.

    I need to know how to be next.
  11. It's official: I've been colonized

    by , February 18th, 2009 at 08:58 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    On the 40th day of Jimby's continuous infirmity, his kindly swimming coach, Bill, took pity and made tonight's "stroke" practice reasonably doable.

    • 8 x 100 odds stroke, evens IM on 1:40
    • 12 x 25 fly with 3-5 SDKs on :30
    • 12 x 25 back "
    • 12 x 25 breast DPS
    • 12 x 25 free 1 breath per length
    • 3 x 100 IM on 2:00, last one fast
    • 6 x 50 free on :40
    • throw in the 100 easy I did on my own for pre-warm up, and it totalled 2700.

    The only hard part was the butterflies, which seemed like they were going to be easy after the first one, but quickly became grueling five yards into the second one.

    The horror and gasping struggle caught on camera by swimming and photographic legend, James Kegley, protegee of Doc Councilman, winner of innumerable Chesapeake Bay Swims, and husband of a former CIA operative

    The set that did make me feel I still had hope as a swimmer was the 12 x 25 freestyles.

    Almost everyone on our little team tonight ended up taking at least the allotted one breath and sometimes more than one.

    I announced that I was going to alternate no breath/one breath, proclaiming to my teammates that my body had been so thoroughly colonized and replaced, cell by cell, by anaerobic bacteria over the past month and a half that I no longer needed air at all.

    Mollie, Stacey, Annie, and perhaps to a lesser extent Jessie, that is to say, the comely young girls of the team, seemed to think this was the idle boasting of an ineffectual lech.

    James S. "Renfield" Thornton frightening girls in his spare time

    I actually thought perhaps this was a sound interpretation. But Spunky emerged, supplanting Renfield, and bragged to the comely tarts that the colonization is, indeed, so complete that I get lockjaw in every muscle of my body.

    Thinking, of course, that this was true except for the one bodily quadrant that could actually use a wee bit of firmness.

    Then the red thin line stood erect at the apex of the pace clock.

    I was off.

    No breaths the first 25.
    None the second.
    Or third.
    And so forth.
    300 yards without air.
    Well, I breathed a bit in between, i.e., on the wall, while awaiting the next send off.

    But nary a single lung suck taken in from toe push-off to fingertip wall touch.

    It helped that our kindly Bobinator had posted earlier somewhere, I think, on her own blog, the quote from Alexander Popov about not fighting the water, but rather trying to assume some of water's qualities, befriend it, flow with it.

    Actually, the exact quote was: " don't have to fight the water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move" Alexandr Popov

    Popov's friendship with water leads to an odd fusion

    And thus I imagined myself cruising up and down the pool like a human current, and the desire for air just faded away.

    I have at last become a 6' 1" anaerobic bacterium: dream state complete.
  12. Tatts I would get if I was a Tattist

    by , February 19th, 2009 at 07:31 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Perhaps you, like me, have been feeling a bit dour, or dower, today. Not terribly surprising--

    Perhaps you, like me, also live in a part of the country where the meteorological forces are similarly conspiring to dampen your joie de vivre, though I must say Pittsburgh might be hard to beat on this cold and gray front:

    (Note: I hear the Good Doctor Dickson saying that Salvation by Photons is an illusion; still, I must say that Death by Snowflake Burial is very real.)

    There is, of course, all manner of idiosyncratic misadventure, familial and/or employment social dysfunction, and other causes for grief we each, in our own circumstances, can ladle endlessly out of the tureen of life's bouillabaisse gone septic!

    Even the wicked, it's been suggested, get more than we deserve.

    Still, what is the point in stewing?

    One of the strategies very often suggested for extricating yourself from personal misery is to stop focusing upon yourself and instead do something nice for someone else. Call this selfishness via altruism.

    I am going to give it a whack and see if it helps.

    The other day, I happened across a potential new swimming friend of a swimming friend named Deborah Milan Brudvig, who only recently took up swimming. On the forums, her user name is SwimMuseDeb.

    Anyhow, I discovered that Deborah is, among other things, a cello teacher and an artist. In her Facebook info, it gave the site where some of her artwork is sold: SwimMuse

    Some of the stylized swimming designs really caught my eye--I think these are beautiful and capture the spirit of those who are able to flow like currents (see yesterday's vlog) in the Popovian waterworld.

    Here are a couple examples:

    Though I am not a tattoo kind of guy, plenty of my younger teammates are riddled with them--sharks, dolphins, carnations, etc. It occurred to me that if I were a tattoo kind of guy, I would definitely consider one of these slightly abstract designs.

    I contacted Deborah about this and told her I didn't know how she could possibly get any money for it, but perhaps anybody who wanted to use one of Deborah's designs could make a voluntary contribution, a la Freeware or Shareware programs that altruistic software designers bequeathe to us all.

    She said she wasn't a tattoo person either but would be happy for her work to reach a wider swimming audience.

    Anyhow, check it out. Anyone who draws swimmers by day and teaches cellists by afternoon has to be a good egg. Note: if you or someone you know does get a tattoo like any of these, please let Deborah and me know!

    Lordy, I am feeling better already.
  13. Cliffhangers

    by , February 21st, 2009 at 04:05 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    The endgames cometh.

    In the next month or so, the following questions may or may not be answered, each of which is vitally critical to Jimby's welfare:

    1. Will he lose what little net "worth" he has left to the IRS?
    2. Will he get over his cold?
    3. Will his estrogen levels rise in a clinically significant way, and will he then sell video access to his moobs on the Internet to a wealthy subset of very peculiar fetishists?
    4. Will he act on an impulse, increasingly boisterous within his serotonin-depleted brain, that urges him to substitute one stubborn vice for an old relinquished one?
    5. Will he lose his job?
    6. Will he get the go ahead to write about masters swimming and perchance get to attend Y Nationals in Ft. Lauderdale and try to talk the B70 Corporation into lending him a suit?
    7. Will he be forced to sell his ancestral stomping grounds and boyhood home for worthless pennies on the even more worthless dollar?
    8. Will he grow a spine or continue to lose bone density here until the metamorphosis into an invertebrate is done?
    9. Will he figure out how to get Windows Movie Maker to work again on his computer so he can do piss poor video edting, which would at least allow him to vlog again?
    10. Will his brother John ever download the most recent batch of lugubrious footage he sent him and turn it into something amusing?
    11. Will he spell cliffhanger with two f's, i.e., the conventional way, or with one f, in deference to the soy-filled energy bars that are helping him to grow a pair of hirsute titulars?
    12. Will readership of the vlog continue its downwards trend as his fellow Americans, bloated with their own grief, tire of reading about his?
    13. Will he swim tomorrow's 1650 at CMU despite his head already swimming within its suffocating skullcap?
    14. Will he appear on Court TV after doing something, or some many things, decidedly ill-advised?
    15. Will he ever again smile and swagger and speak without a palsied twitching of the voice box?
    16. Will he end up in the one place he has always dreaded most, the Snake Pit, being administered to by nurse R?
    17. Will he go to his grave waylaid still in the one dimensionality of the first person?
    18. Will he keep the card house standing?
    19. Will he enjoy the “largely unanticipated delight in the suffering of another which is cognized as trivial and/or appropriate”--or will he find this cold comfort at best?
    20. Will he hang or drown or go the way of most?
    21. Will he get a PR again?
    22. Will he have his way with a CreamPuff like vision?
    23. Will he gain or lose his will?

    Well, will he?

    Stay tuned. The endgames cometh in Season 2 of Vlog the Inhaler: the Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton!

    Updated April 16th, 2009 at 10:37 AM by jim thornton

  14. Who's Your Trinidaddian?

    by , February 23rd, 2009 at 10:07 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    We all swim for different reasons.

    Yesterday, at the 1650 meet at Carnegie Mellon, I saw my old teammate from Team Pitt, the lovely and brilliant Mee Ra Ram Zook Singh (the last name pronounced like an exotic bird call: Ram Sook Sing!)

    Here is a picture that shows Mee Ra's motivation for this meet:

    Mee Ra, I should point out, is a descendant of former citizens of the island nation of Trinidad. She came to Pittsburgh to study neurobiology at the University, and then decided to double major in this subject plus German literature, with perhaps a snifter of Slavic languages thrown in for good measure.

    She taught me how to say my now deceased father's favorite tennis expression:

    Er, der ein Grab für andere graben würde, muss in ihm selbst liegen *

    He who would dig a grave for another must lie in it himself

    * I have lost Mee Ra's original, and better, translation and will have to ask her again. The above is from Babelfish, but I add it just to give you a sense of how my father hated it when an opponent on the tennis court tried trickery.

    Mee Ra knows more about CRF and glutamate in rat brains than any dozen other people I have met in my life put together.

    No wonder that I have trademarked a phrase to be used in conjunction with wonderful Meera-like individuals:

    Who's your Trinidaddian!!!???

    Anyhow, Mee Ra brought her camera to the meet, and I will paste in a few snaps of me, followed by a few snaps of her as a reward for those who must scroll past me to get to her:

    Jimby models the 2009 T-shirt. He did not understand the design till someone explained it was the lap counter doohickey thing, double orange signifying the last length to go, staring back at you with not exactly sinister eyes.

    On the back of the T-shirt, the meet record holders are honored with their times and age groups. This is the only T-shirt in the history of Thorntondom with the name Jim Thornton on it whereby said T-shirt is actually likely to be worn by people not exclusively named Jim Thornton.

    Hope springs eternal. Last year, when Jimby swam the same event at CMU, his time would have made the TOP 10, but alas the meet was not sanctioned by USMS so his accomplishment evaporated into the ether. This year, his slower time is very, very unlikely to make the TOP 10, but it would have squeaked in last year, so he fills out the paperwork necessary to get credited for what is likely to be, at best, a TOP 17 placement.

    Lovely rat brain scientist "who's your Trinidaddian?" Slavic vodkaphile, Mee Ra, does an excellent impression of Latika from Slumdog Millionaire.

    Who's Your Trinidaddian, indeed????

    Mee Ra lookalike and Gunga Jimby wannabe before the Polish Vodka celebration begins.

    Final super exciting Vlog promotional note for those who have waded down this far!!!!

    To wit, Thornton Twins Productions is thinking of starting a regular MUST SEE TV feature available only here on Vlog the Inhaler Video:

    Sunday Night Movie Feature Extraordinaire

    It was scheduled to premiere last night, but then we realized that the Oscars were on, and we didn't want to draw too many viewers away from the Industry with whom we have the same intense Love Hate relationship as a dependent infant who is A) starving and B) lactose intolerant has with the teat of a voluptuary.

    So, the premier of A Tale of Two Jimby's is being postponed till tomorrow night.

    Set your clocks and calendars, please!

    Sunday Night Movie Feature Extraordinaire

    officially premiers this Tuesday, February 24th, sometime most likely in the evening.

    Updated September 21st, 2010 at 06:03 PM by jim thornton

  15. Tuesday Edition: Sunday Night Movie Feature Extraordinaire

    by , February 24th, 2009 at 04:24 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Whereas I have written, or perhaps overwritten, the introductory section of my forthcoming treatise on soy and the quiveringly buxom male body....

    Whereas my gray matter, no doubt fast losing its myelin sheathing and hence less gray than once said matter was, needs recharging for tomorrow's continuing efforts...

    Whereas the superb PBS science show NOVA is broadcasting an episode, entitled "Rat Attack!", which I have been looking forward to watching for weeks now...

    Whereas this is being followed by a presidential address on the state of the US economy, an address that is likely to serve as a fitting sequel, "Rat Attack 2!"....

    Whereas I am still coming to grips with the noxious sequellae of a tidbit my accountant told me about the likely reason for my audit, this being that in the waning moments of the previous Administration, the IRS was instructed, in essence, to forget going after hedge funds, because these were too complicated to understand, but instead concentrate their rapacious siphoning efforts on little people with schedule C's because it is virtually impossible not to extract easy money here....

    Whereas my invitation to CreamPuff to share an In-n-Out experience at the next meet we both attend [ame=""]How do you recover after a meet? - U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame] has me so addled with anticipation of a positive reply and anxiety-riddled over the prospect of a restraining order....

    Whereas I managed to swim last night's entire workout of 500 warm up, 10 x 100 on 1:25, 4 x 100 on 1:20, 5 x 200 on 2:40, 2 x 500 on 6:40, 2 x 100 on 1:15, and 1 x 100 cool down on 1:30 without missing any send offs...

    Whereas the sun is finally out and I can at last feel that A Tale of Two Jimbys is not 50 percent fraudulent...

    I herewith premier the first of the Thornton Twins Sunday Night Movie Feature Extraordinaire:

    A Tale of Two Jimbys

    A humble little filmic homage to one Mr. Charles Dickens, another scrivener (albeit infinitely more successful) who, like me, wrote for money and vlogged for love...

    [ame=""]YouTube - Hoop Dee Doo with jim Thornton[/ame]
  16. Jim de la Selva

    by , February 25th, 2009 at 10:51 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)

    A very short vlog tonight. Tired from practice:

    400 warm up
    10 x 100 on 1:40, evens IM
    6 x 50 fly :55
    6 x 50 back :55
    6 x 50 breast :55
    6 x 50 free :50, first one no breaths; 2-6 1 breath down, 2 breaths back
    1 x 200 alternating free and back easy
    1 x 200 IM hard (2:33 for me)
    1 x 100 cool down
    steam bath
    fried six Wallapa Bay oysters (those giant pacific kind) in vegetable oil and butter; ate them with bread, lemonade, and then some Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream with organic raspberries and extra creamy Redi Whip, followed by medications...

    Also tired from writing about a curious case of soy protein induced gynecomastia in a retired attack helicopter pilot.


    It occurred to me when I recently inventoried the Many Faces of Jim--Jimby, Master Jimmy, Golden Boy, Jamesuardo, Spunky Po'Boy McPunkerton, etc.--that I left out perhaps the most complimentary moniker I have ever been given.

    Here is a brief excerpt from a story I wrote 8 years ago for National Geographic Adventure magazine on the time I traveled to the Equadorian Amazon for training at La Escuela De Contrainsurgencia De La Selva--i.e., jungle soldiering to keep the F.A.R.C. over in nearby Columbia where the kidnapping bastards belong....


    At breakfast on my final morning at La Escuela, I sat with Lt. Colonel Bravo and Capitan Freddy in the Casino, a gigantic domed officers’ mess that resembles a modern church and was built as a largely unwanted gift to the military by petroleum interests. Bravo, who looks a little like a mustached Raul Julia, had just outlined our upcoming itinerary: a couple days on real patrol with BOES-60 troops near the Colombian border, and then off on our own for the trip to Huaorani land, deep in Yasuni National Park and far from any possibility of military protection.

    “The principle thing,” he told me in heavily accented, deadpan English, “is theese. Do you have insurance?”

    “Do not worry, Jim,” Freddy added quickly. “You are equal to Schwarzenegger now. Do you know theese TV show we have down here, Jim de la Selva? Eees about English man who lives in the jungle. I think you are now the real Jim de la Selva.”

    The complimentary moniker was just starting to take hold when my eyes happened to spy a photo in the morning newspaper, El Comercio. It showed an Indian police investigator holding three spears found at a murder scene in the Oriente. I asked Freddy to translate the accompanying article, the gist of which was this: members of the Tagaeri tribe, a renegade offshoot of the Huaoranis who have refused all contact with the “civilized” world, had just assassinated two Quichewa Indians who unknowingly wandered into Tagaeri territory. The first victim, a 60-year-old man, was lanced with thirteen spears, his wife was then killed with four spears inserted in such a way that she was found still standing in death. Their five-year-old grandson survived the attack by hiding in the vegetation. He told authorities that he witnessed “several naked people” kill his grandparents.

    This was by no means the first time Tagaeri have resorted to murder to defend their territory against encroachment by cowore, their term for outsiders. The tribe made international headlines in 1987 after assassinating Spanish missionary Alejandro Labaka and Colombian nun Ines Arango, lancing them both with a bevy of 13-foot, triangular-cut spears designed, like military bayonets, to inhibit clotting and promote fast blood loss. A one-time victim of Brookside Bible Summer Camp myself, I’m sure part of me might once have admired the Tagaeris spunk--that is, from the safety of the United States.

    “Where we’ll be going with Stalin after the patrol,” I asked Freddy, “is it close to Tagaeri territory?”

    “Si,” he said, nodding with confident nonchalance. “Eees cerca, muy cerca. But there is no problem, no is danger for you.”

    “Why not?” I asked, emboldened by his apparent confidence and figuring he knew something I didn’t.

    “Because,” he said, “you are Jim de la Selva.”
  17. Player-Coach Resurrection

    by , February 27th, 2009 at 05:29 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Thanks to his wife Colleen's good luck at winning an office lottery, where the grand prize is a weekend retreat at a local resort, our regular coach Bill is not going to be at practice tonight.

    This has left an opening for me to resume my erstwhile position as beloved Player-Coach of yesteryear's Sewickley YMCA Sea Dragons, Aging Division.

    Actually, Bill said he could leave a workout unless someone else wanted to write one, and before anybody else could object or emit a peep, I said, "Me! Me me me!"

    Unlike a "professional" or "paid" or "respected" coach of the sort that wins "USMS Coach of the Year" "honors" or avoids being "fragged" by his "swimmers" or "shivved" in the "showers," we Player Coaches have our own way of writing workouts.

    I shall write tonight's practice right now, and show you our technique while doing so.

    Really, it's not that hard.

    I quickly consult my voluminous library of swimming manuals, cross referenced according to energy systems and training volumes indexed according to different phases of the microcycle within the current macrocycle.

    Three to seven seconds later, I am thinking: Are you out of your mind?

    Practice starts in an hour, and just trying to remember the definitions of all this physiological gobbledegook--Krebs Cycles this, intensity coefficients that--is so far beyond my soylient green-fed brain as to be laughable.

    I laugh.

    I decide to rely on the thing that made me such an emininently forgettable coach in yesteryear: my intuitive feel for what we swimmers need. Well maybe not we swimmers, exactly.

    Consideration No. 1: Ask yourself, what do I feel like I need to accomplish in swimming tonight?

    It might be nice to wake up a little, but to do this in such a way as to not make it hard to fall asleep later tonight.

    It might also be nice to allow the stretched and cranky cartilaginous sinews in my right shoulder and left knee, respectively, settle down.

    We have a meet on Sunday, and I signed up for the 100 IM, 50 and 100 fly, and 25 something, breaststroke maybe? Anyhow, no point in swimming these things tonight. Gotta rest up the various micromuscles involved with the off strokes, as I like to call them: fly, back, and breast.

    I need, in other words, the taper equivalent of a farmer rotating his crops. We planted sorghum, cranberries, and alfalfa on Wednesday and Thursday. Tonight, it's time to go back to planting petunias, that is to say, freestyle.

    It is also Friday, and Friday is sprint night. 100s freestyle seem kind of long to sprint. They actually seem absurdly long. 25s might be good, but you really do have to sprint a 25. I mean it's hard to fool anyone doing a half-assed 25 freestyle and trying to pass it off as a sprint.

    The good player-coach, like the good Lt. fresh out of the military academy and shipped to Nam, needs to lead by example. Otherwise, the odds of getting fragged by the troops, or shivved by the swimmers behind you in your lane, go way up.

    Don't I know it!

    The last time I player-coached a sprint practice, it seemed like it would take forever for the stab wounds in my feet to heal.

    Okay, so 50s it is. Or, more grammatically, 50's it are. Or, even more grammatically, 50's they are.

    With this settled, we come to...

    Consideration No. 2: Do you want to reinvent the wheel?

    Of course not!

    And with this in mind, I locate and copy a favorite 50 workout written by another coach, who actually is all the things I am not: professional, paid, respected, and--to add just one more characteristic to the list of attributes thatTeam Pitt's great masters coach, Jen Michaels, has that I do not--competent.

    Since Pitt has 1.5 hour practices, and we in Sewy get only 1 hour, I include much shorter warm ups and cool downs and just use in tact her main set:

    10 x 50 on 1:00 easy
    1 min rest

    8 x 50 on 1:00 odds easy, evens 200 pace +2 *
    1 min rest
    8 x 50 on 1:00 odds easy, evens 200 pace +1
    1 min rest
    8 x 50 on 1:00 odds easy, evens 200 pace +0
    1 min rest
    8 x 50 on 1:00 odds easy, evens 200 pace -1
    1 min rest
    8 x 50 on 1:00 odds easy, evens 200 pace -2

    1 x 200 on 4:00 ez cool down

    * divide your best 200 time by 4 to get your average 50. Example: if you swim the 200 on 2:00, your race pace 50s are :30. Your fast ones should thus be :32, :31, :30, :29, :28.

    I will let you know how it goes. Sewickley swimmers, with a few exceptions, have demonstrated an antipathy for math that would make the average 7th grade Airhead Sorority seem geekish in comparison.

    I preminisce no shortage of mayhem, especially in C lane, where the new-to-swimming triathletes are, under the best of circumstances, concentrated in an arrogant frothful cauldron of rudeness and disorder, as if they sense that learning to throw elbows and climb over one another in a frenzy is actually a better use of training time for their chosen sport than swimming itself.

    Just kidding guys!

    Really, put those shivs awy!

    I shall keep you posted.
  18. The Live Comedic Swim Stylings of Jim

    by , March 3rd, 2009 at 09:02 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    For those so lacking in impulse control that you simply cannot wait, go ahead and click the play button.

    However, you might want to first read the explanatory comments below, which may well enhance your viewing experience in a way similar to taking a college course in Classical Music can make it possible to sit through a concert without immediately succumbing to narcolepsy.

    [ame=""]YouTube - High Noon at the New Castle Y[/ame]

    Okay, I am assuming that if you have reached this point in today's vlog, you have not yet clicked the start button. You have wisely chosen to extend your pleasure by postpoining it!

    In the process, you have opted to become educated in the nuances of the admittedly palsied footage you are about to see and hear. Good for you! I, for one, am proud of you. I don't know if I personally could have resisted pressing the start button already myself. But I admire people like you who can!

    Let us begin with the Dramatis Personnae and Narrative Overview of our little drama, and so forth.

    The film opens with the protagonist, Jim "Aging Golden Boy" Thornton, now known behind his back simply as Jim "Fool's Golden Boy" Thornton, pointing out several of the features of the New Castle YMCA swimming facility--its five lanes, the narrowness of same, the impotent gutters that seem, if anything, more designed to augment rather than dampen waves, etc.

    What the film does not, in fact, cannot show is how hot the water is. During warm up, or perhaps more accurately, hot up, I felt like a queasy chunk of semi-digested flotsam in the belly of a dyspeptic whale.

    But just as such flotsam, under the right conditions, can be vomited out of the leviathan, found by explorers, gathered up and sold to the finest perfumeries in France, and end up converted into Chanel No. 5 and spritzed on the slender necks and elbow crooks of the world's most enticing would Jim "Fool's Golden Boy" Thornton make something magical out of the ambergris of his being...

    After the set up, we cut to the Men's 200 Freestyle Relay in the 180-219 additive man years division. The Sewickley YMCA has fielded many a glorious team in this legendary race since the circa 1982 founding of the Allegheny Mountain YMCA Masters Swimming Association, or AMYMSA (pronounced "Amy Missa")

    A quick check of the all-time Top 10 relay results clearly bears this out:

    Men 200 free.relay Total Age: 180-219

    1 SEWY Andre Weisbrod Jim Thornton Bill White Kevin Robertson18104-05CLAR1:39.16

    SEWY Bill White Dale Sirinek Jim Thornton Preston Test18011-02GRBG1:39.21

    SEWY Ronald Jacobs Jim Thornton Dick Lynn Andre Weisbrod18309-00SEWY1:39.71

    SH Robert Casey Bob Jenner Bill Herzer Gary Matyko18604-97CU1:41.03

    5 SEWY Ronald Jacobs Andre Weisbrod Dale Sirinek Jim Thornton19904-03CLAR1:41.90

    SEWY Andre Weisbrod Jim Thornton Bill White Dale Sirinek19604-04CLAR1:42.54

    Note 1. With the exception of SH, or South Hills, which placed 4th all time and which I have highlited in pink, SEWY, or Sewickley, has all but one of the top 6 all time finishes in our league. It is of some curiosity to note that all of these have occurred since the arrival of one swimmer in particular, who returned to his boyhood home of Sewickley from St. Paul, MN in 1995, like a magnificent male salmon who, despite prodigious quantities of milt, dodged grizzlies and powered up cataracts via powerful flicks of his tail flukes, to arrive at last upstream where he started.

    Note 2. I have taken the liberty of highlighting this one milt-laden salmonid-like swimmer in Royal Blue.

    Note 3. The relay swimmers in the video appear in the following order:

    1. Lead off: Bill White, 38. Adjective: Magnificent. Our team's coach, a harsh but lovable task master who is on almost as many of the Top 10 Relays as the individual highlighted in Royal Blue
    2. Next: Dan Nadler, 58. Adjective: Avuncular. Our team's absolutely brilliant and generous eye doctor, the former YMCA Pennsylvania state champion in the 14-15 age group (yes, they did have this age group 43-44 years ago when Dan's peri-pubertal morph emerged victorious in the York YMCA pool waters) is also the uncle (hence avuncular) of Mollie Nadler, who makes a to-die-for cameo later in the video
    3. Next: Jim Thornton, 56. Adjective: Spiritualeaderish. Your's truly, about whom if you do not yet know something, you are not keeping up sufficiently with this vlog. Of particular importance filmically: I am wearing a red swimming cap borrowed at the last minute from the lovely Jamie Heil [ame=""]U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame] of the Cranberry YMCA masters team. She leant it to me after I realized I had forgoten to bring a cap with me to the blocks.
    4. Anchor: Mark Cox, 40. Adjective: Dimpled. A new recruit to the Sewickley Y, Mark has been compared to Clark Kent by the young women on our team--a serious fellow with his glasses on, but once these are removed, his movie star good looks and high wattage amiability reveal an underlying superhero quality. Bequeathed his three gorgeous little daughters with dimples, too.

    Together, the four of us are much more than our individual parts. Together, we are one lean, mean 192-year-old man you do not want to mess with.

    The old record to beat: 1:39.16

    Splits in the relay:

    Coach Bill 23.49

    Uncle Dannny 26.94

    Golden Boy 23.87

    Mark the Coxman: 23.53

    Total: 1:37.83

    Record: Smashed so far beyond all recognition that even the Pittsburgh CSI had trouble identifying it.


    The film then cuts to my next event, the 50 yard butterfly. Narration for this scene is provided by the lovely Mermaid [ame=""]U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame] whom some of you may have met at last year's USMS convention and/or Albatross Meet. If so, I am sure you remember her. A forrmer Miss Teen Age Pennsylvania, it is fair to say she cuts an unforgettable figure in the minds of men.

    To my side is Coach Bill, who also flanked me during the later 100 yard butterfly swim. Unfortunately, Mermaid, who assured me that she would film this event too, got caught up in other activities when the time for the latter money shot came. How quickly the young girls forget your narrator Jimby's attempts to preserve his glory for posterity! It is as if they want absolutely nothing to do whatsover with anything involving my posterior!

    Oh, well. It's okay. My disappointing time in the 50 fly--27.78--allows for an easy DIY simulation of my 100.

    Simply watch the 50 in its entirety, rewind back to its start, pause exactly 5.24 seconds, then watch the 50 again.

    My time for the 100 was 1:00.80, and if the above math is correct [(2 x 27.78} + 5.24 = 1.00.80], the above should allow you to relive the experience vicariously down the the nearest hundredth of a second. Just make sure to time your blinking so it doesn't look like I get to dive twice, which I am pretty sure is a rule violation.


    This meet experience, especially the 100 fly that didn't get filmed, does give me hope that with a little more butterfly practice, I have a prayer of breaking a minute again in the 100 before I die.

    Hell, if I can secure financing out of TARP funds to pay for a B70, there's a good chance I can break :50.

    For those of you who love a good story of adversity overcome and impossible dreams realized, stay tuned.

    For the rest of you, I will try to get Mollie to make another cameo.

  19. Alternative You's

    by , March 4th, 2009 at 10:40 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Did you ever wonder what else you could have been had you taken other paths in life, made different choices here and there, pursued other career avenues, taken more or less or different risks, found refuge in a different set of arms, become a runner instead of a swimmer, etc.?

    As an identical twin, I have the ability to glimpse answers to such wonderings via the miracle of nature that is human cloning.

    To be sure, researchers now know that a variety of transcription factors can turn various genes on and off in complex ways mediated by the environment, so that identical twins slowly become less alike over the decades. Still, we started off with identical DNA, and even though it is likely that we are not currently expressing exactly the same complement of genes, we do represent something of a living laboratory for the study of a single organism taking two different paths in life.

    Those who know John and me also know that it is John who has blundered onto the better road, the high road, if you will, while I have meandered along the potholed low road, stumble-bumbling my way along, havoc and disharmony in my wake, like a comet's polluted tail, or, less grandiosely, the flatulent clouds that follow a nervous steer down the chutes of the abattoir.

    In tonight's vlog, I present my twin brother John's recent film wherein he reimagines a myriad of even more alternative routes he himself (and by extension, me, his trollish clone!) might have taken had we been born at different points in the history of art.

    John, as I think I may have posted somewhere earlier in the vloggish memoir, was a swimmer at one point in his life, a member of the Junior Varsity at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where his greatest athetic achievement was not so much as a swimmer but as the inventor of the game John Ball.

    Mitch Kupchack was one of many members of the Tarheels bball team to play John Ball, which involved a hand ball, the elevator banks at Granville Towers which housed the basketball team, and horrified co-eds, before the game was permanently banned from campus.

    Still, John's swimming accomplishments are no small matter. He still holds Thornton family records in the 100 freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly.

    That's neither here nor there, I suppose, at this stage of our lives. As indicated earlier, John's charming new film highlights many other scenarios that, as fate would have it, are also neither here nor there but quite possible could have been both here and there had we been here or there...

    We (and by we, I mean he) herewith presents more Alternative Us's to give you fodder for rumination about your own Alternative You's, and in so doing, find a portion of contentment in your actual lot:

    [ame=""]YouTube - John Thornton Takes You on a Wild Art History Tour![/ame]
  20. Last Goblet 'o Soy

    by , March 5th, 2009 at 10:42 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Tomorrow, I get my estrogen checked.

    I think we all are saying a silent prayer that the results turn out as God and the United Soybean Association and CremePuff hope they will, and not as a growing cadre of researchers, the Israeli Health Ministry, and one fired FDA whistle blower fear they might.

    In tonight's short film, you might detect a hint of lugubriousness. This, I cannot in all honesty blame on the soybean or its phytoestrogenic fungicidal contents, genistein, daidzen, and equone. There are, as always, other reasons for this dearth of mirth.

    In any event, I shall sign off forthwith to present what could be my final address as a normal man.

    Soon enough we shall know if Jimby the She-Male will be vlogging in the near future, and if same Jimby the She-Male will be lobbying USMS hard for the rights to swim in the female divison, 55-59 year old age group, and in so doing cream CremePuff in a way that the 100 percent male morph of Jimby could only dream of doing in the darkness of his private night.

    [ame=""]YouTube - Video 14[/ame]
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