Like Frank Sinatra's conspicuous absence of singing in the shower, or a busman's decision not to drive on holiday, or perhaps a harlot's avoidance of intimacy during rare leisure moments when the urge for vertical body postures must become overwhelming in its intensity--so has it been with this vlogger of late: the dictates of writing for a living have all but overwhelmed any time or inclination to indulge in tip-tap-tip-tapping of keystrokes for free.
Even though I much prefer the latter, having not yet developed the "learned helplessness" that so frequently accompanies human endeavor in the paid environment.
Sing this ditty, Frank! Contort your buttocks into this appealing lordosis configuration, harlot! Never again in the history of the world again utter the word Stetari, lackey!
And so forth.
I am sure everybody understands, with the possible exception of those who spend their days teaching 2nd graders how to draw finger turkeys, what I mean.
On the other hand, it has been recently pointed out to me, by a person whose perspicacity is beyond dispute, that I have, of late, been inclined to a certain churlish sulkiness.
Oh, how I wish not to be thusly inclined, not even for a moment!
As one distantly former girlfriend once called me in apparent affection: Oh, Jim! My horrid little flower!
Horrid, yes. Flower, true enough. Little, again, check! Especially if little is being directed at my generosity of spirit and not my guttage.
But do not flowers, even little horrid ones, give back to the world a cheerfulness and color that brings only smiles to onlookers and ravenous pollinators, dusty with lemon-colored crumbs?
In this spirit, that is to say, my flower side, and less my little horrid sulky side, I offer the following Thanksgiving greetings to my fellow swimmers the world over in the hopes you will find within this offering a smile, a cheerfulness, and a color--orange, as luck would have it--that might have otherwise gone unnoticed in this busy, busy time of Thanksgiving!
It is a drawing by my step great nephew Cameron.
I am not sure the Dramatis Personnae in his description of his drawing is super important, but to keep things straight:
I am Uncle Steppy.Aunt Lizie is the beloved little sister of me (Uncle Steppy) and my twin brother John (Steppy)Granny, AKA, Nancy, is the biological grandmother of Cameron and wife of my brother John (Steppy)Daddy is Cameron's father and Nancy's son Darrin by her first marriage
I am pretty sure that Cameron, after drawing the picture and getting John to scan it and email it to me, dictated verbatim his explanation for what is going on. I shall post this below the artwork.
Hi Uncle Steppy and Aunt Lizie. The one in the orange is Uncle Steppy. And he has a hole in his underwear. Everybody is sticking out his tongue at him. Granny (middle) pulled down Uncle Steppy's pants. Granny has a silly hat. Daddy has a rotten nose. The cloud and the sun is sticking their tongue out at Uncle Steppy. The clouds are wearing sunglasses because the sun is shining right at the clouds.
PS Happy Thanksgiving!
Final note: in the original version of Cameron's email, my beloved brother John dropped the "Uncle" after its first reference. I think he did this to spare my feelings, to make it seem as if it were him and not me whose pants had been dropped down, earning him ridicule from every corner of the firmament. But it is quite clear upon whom such ridicule belongs, so I have restored it to the accurate state.
On this note, it is back to my labors on the drawbacks to novel hypnotics, irresistible as they continue to prove to be to the sulky likes of me.
Had a nice long drive to Pittsburgh with only moments of sheer brain numbing traffic hell. Better than the usual Thanksgiving debacle getting out of metro DC. Then drove to Sewickley to swim with the Sewickley Masters, coached by speedster Bill White, with whom I shared a lane.
SCY w/Sewickley Masters:
50 EZ (rather than my usual 700)
12 x 50 swim @ :55, reverse IM order
(I drilled the fly; I can't do fly w/o a proper warm up.)
8 x 50 kick @ 1:00, IM order, no fins
8 x 50 @ 1:00, IM order
(I did the fly, back & free as double shooters w/fins; the others were doing 1/2 of each 25 SDK.)
8 x 50 @ 1:00, IM order
25 DPS + 25 SDK build to sprint
(I did the last 25 as a fast shooter)
4 x 100 @ 2:00
25 SDK, 50 choice EZ, 25 sprint (IM order)
4 x 100 @ 2:00
assigned: 75 choice, 25 sprint kick (IM order)
did: 25 shooter on back, 50 back, 25 shooter on back fast
This was a perfect workout for me after many hours in the car. I was still tired from yesterday's fast kicking, so it was a nice maintenance workout with some hypoxic work, IM work, and a few sprints. Because they only get an hour to practice, SM have a very structured warm up, which of course I'm not used to. I like my leisurely warm ups.
I was able to watch Jimby's SDK efforts from underwater. He has a very nice streamline, but no power coming from the core. There may be some hope. I had him to a few squats on deck, and he somewhat managed them without cantilevering his knees too far over his feet. Saturday I will show him the ropes a bit more.
We adjourned to the coed steam room and whirlpool -- very nice for a Y -- where we discussed myriad things. Among those repeatable were the upcoming suit ban. Jimby is still quite defiant about men not getting equal coverage as women under the FINA committee proposal. He also predicts that my next new event will be the 200 fly -- done all kicking. I told Bill that this was perfectly legal according to Wolfy (as long as you don't violate the 15 meter rule). He was suspicious, but to my knowledge it is legal to kick the entire way in a streamline position. Might be a fun experiment. Much less painful than forcing the poor shoulders to do all that work!
I plan to take tomorrow completely off. I will swim with the Sewickley Masters again on Friday and then with Jimby and BIll on Saturday. Even though this week will be a comparatively easy week without a gym visit, I'm still fairly tired. (Of course, it's only Wed.) I was fretting about possible overtraining and leg fatigue to Mr. Fort. He just scoffed since I have another 2+ weeks to rest. I guess he's likely right ...
My brother Johnny boy already posted this in the comments section of yesterday's blog, Happy Thanksgiving One and All, which regular readers will recall featured harlots in lordosis configurations and other things we can be happy about.
As an antidote to the occasional snifter of impropriety that our DNA has taken via the Jim morph, I present to you the utter wholesome and unadulterated joi de vivre life view of my twin, one of the nicest people to ever grace the planet earth.
I am still trying to find out if John wrote this song on Garage Band, but I am 99 percent sure he did, for it has all the hallmarks of a John Thornton song: stirring melody, Noel Cowardly lyrics exhilarating in their brevity and cleverness, and a middle 8 that makes one think of the Beatles at their best, all of this ladled over with the kind of charming cornpone quality that made Woodie Guthrie such a giant at Communist union organizing rallies.
At the risk of biasing your opinion of this film, I strongly urge you to gather your loved ones around the computer, which you have stuck for this occasion into your fireplace so as to symbolically turn the Internet into the very hearth of modernity, and play this instant classic of a Thanksgiving song for the gathered multitude of relatives, singing along as soon as you get a knack for the lyrics.
Then throw away your BMI scales and engorge happily.
We are humans.
This is what humans have for Thanksgiving!
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjuGHksgvvM"]YouTube- What Humans Have For Thanksgiving![/ame]
There is a school of thought in narrative tales that the easiest and arguably best way to present these is to start at the beginning and proceed, step by chronological step, to the end. Suspense in this standard form is built in a fairly straightforward manner: the reader, enraptured by event A, naturally begins to wonder, What oh what happens next? What is event B? Then C? And so forth?
Such stories often begin like this:
Once upon a time in Western Pennsylvania...
In the Pleistocene era, a patch of primordial ooze with the original signature genomic code of the Thornton family...
God so loved the world that he gave his only misbegotten son Jim to...
In more recent times, perhaps because of earth's burgeoning population of story tellers, each trying to differentiate himself or herself from the other person's self, a new model has emerged, still a bit less common, but alas itself fast slouching towards cliche.
In this model, pioneering narrators of the likes of Faulkner, Proust, Thornton, Joyce, Golgadkin, and so forth, purposely choose to begin their tales at the end, revealing the "denouement" or the "killer's identity" or the "money shot" or whatever else it might be that in earlier times would not be answered till the very last pages of the book or footage of film.
Suspense here stems not from the reader's curiosity about what will happen, for we already know the final outcome. Instead, suspense depends on a growing rhetorically manipulated curiosity on the reader's part about how and why this ending has come to be.
To reiterate: the author or auteur of such works, or in the case of a vlogger who combines the written word with the filmic art, the author-auteur, starts at the end, cuts back to the beginning, then leisurely fills in the intervening time.
It is this secondary model I have chosen to embrace.
Over this most Thanksgiving-worthy of Thanksgiving seasons, our Amish Mud hole-dappled region of the country was visited by none other than Leslie the Fortress Livingston, the single most beloved national champion that the USMS community has ever had the good fortune to grip to our collectively grateful bosom.
Leslie, as some of you might know, is a strong advocate of weight lifting and the whole shooting match of other painful exercises conducted on dry land, from Bosu Balling to virtually anything you can imagine doing on a rack.
During our precious several days with Leslie, she swam with our Sewickley SeaDragons, Geriatric Division, on Friday; then today, Saturday, after I had already done 68,000 lb. of Nautilus lifting (inspired by Leslie to give it a try), Leslie arrived fresh from her Seroquel-induced (off-label) beauty sleep at 2:05 p.m. sharp in the Y lobby, and the two of us proceeded back to the weight room. Here she showed me the elementary ropes of the non-machine strength training world.
During the course of this, and I will be presenting many of her 1000s of demonstrated exercises over the coming days, weeks, months, years, and seeming centuries (in fact, no need to read Leslie's blog anymore--this vlog here, much more so than her own, has now become the one-stop official site for all things visually and auditorially Leslie), we also conducted the 25 cent piece "Quarter Test."
By good fortune, Senor Haboush, the Spanish teacher at the local high school, was pumping iron at the Y, and he agreed to fire the quarter first at Leslie's buttocks and then at mine to see which set of glutei was firmer and therefore more bouncy to the quarter.
The first of today's films features this long-awaited and much ballyhooed Quarter Buttocks test. In some ways, one could argue the test is really the end of the whole narrative. For the results here proved so unexpected, so paradoxical even, that the reader will--I am sure of it!--be seduced into unbearable, dumbfounding curiosity.
Not about the "what happened?"--for it is indisputable that the quarter bounced much, much higher off my muscular buttocks than Leslie's firm but still somewhat squishy ones. Rather the dumbfounding stems from a seemingly unanswerable question: "How can this be?" After all, Leslie is obviously an amazing specimen of the weight lifting arts, and I am but a shlub.
How oh how? Why oh why?
I can't stand it! Help me see the reasons, Jim! I beg you!
In time, my friends. Answers shall come your way in time.
But first, the Quarters test...
This first short film will be followed, in turn, by today's inaugural set of exercises Leslie has taught me. (Sadly for her, once I master just these two, my buttocksial advantage is sure to swell even further.)
Please enjoy, especially now that the subtextual content is clear, and you don't need to think deeply or in an unguided way.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hp59AtsOeM0"]YouTube- The Quarter Buttocks Test[/ame]
Summary: Leslie loses convincingly to Jim in Quarters Buttocks Test and in a fit of pique refuses to continue with the moobs vs. boobs Coin Toss Test.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-TdHopNGuY"]YouTube- Getting Dry with Leslie Part 1: Shrug Dips and X Cross Squat[/ame]
Summary: Leslie teaches Jim how to do dips safely by shrugging girlishly, then takes him into an area he has never ventured before to teach him the X-cross squat, AKA, Hot Crossed Buns.
Updated November 29th, 2009 at 12:14 AM by jim thornton
Many people who know me well think I don't work.
This isn't entirely true.
The truth is that I rarely work.
However, when I do engage in these rare episodes of work, or perhaps work-like endeavor is more accurate, it is like doing an unbelievably difficult distance and sprint set for the mind that goes on, week after week, until the entirety of my soul is as empty and dessicated as the ears that feed the Children of the Corn.
Like all such exacting demands upon human performance, what I am expected to achieve, and what I can achieve, are often wildly disparate propositions.
But since my livelihood depends upon delivering what I am incapable of producing on my own, I have, in recent years, been forced to increasingly rely on PEDs to get the job done.
I am, for instance, now drinking my 14th cup of coffee of the day, and I must say, I am feeling a bit like an insect that has made the mistake of biting into a coffee bean 10,000 times his size. That is to say, I am feeling poisoned.
On top of this, I have the degrogification effects of one 100 mg tablet of Provigil, a drug FDA approved only for narcoleptics, shift workers, and those of us able to mimic the symptoms of these first two conditions well enough to convince our physicians to write us a prescription.
On top of my 14 cups of coffee, this Provigil tablet is working extremely well.
I have no doubt that tonight's swim practice, wherein the main set is 5 x 500 on 6:45 followed by 5 x 100 on 1:15, will barely dent my degree of alertness, unless, of course, my heart happens to explode, dispatching me forthwith to the Great Resting Reward, a dispatch which just might be the best unintended medicinal side effect of all time.
I kid. I am nothing but a raw ganglion these days, hoping for immortality!
Tonight, the raw ganglion shall return to its office/sleep chamber, which sleep hygienists have long suggested should not be combined, but sometimes one has no other option; watch the second half or final quarter of House depending on when I get back from practice; maybe have another training dinner exactly like last night's--i.e., three pork chops and a bowl of ice cream; then prepare for bed. I have Sonata, which has been deemed almost entirely ineffective; and two bottles of NyQuil, which personal experience has shown to be highly effective. I may find a little more of this and that to add to the soporific brew.
With these drowsy syrups of my own concoction, I shall -- with luck! -- slip into the sweet embrace of sister Morphine, perchance to dream of the squats Leslie has shown me and I have appendaged below, perchance to wake up again tomorrow morning, and brew some more coffee, and pop another Provigil, and begin once more the form of livelihood which will surely one day prove the death of me.
On this note, here are the right and wrong ways to do two more forms of squats:
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1Frkbya3zY"]YouTube- Overhead squatting and swing squatting with Leslie[/ame]
Slowly but surely, I hope to post all the exercises that Leslie tried to show me over Thanksgiving. As regular readers will recall, I got to the Y early, lifted 68,000 lb. as measured by the Fitlinxx computer system, and only then did Leslie arrive to put my shaking bulk through additional dryland paces.
Pathetic as the first of these were, things got even worse as each new exercise began requiring more and more skill, coordination, balance, and flexibility, none of which I have. Brute strength? Sure. But these other things? Even with practice, they may be beyond me.
In the attached video, Leslie looks sweet enough in her virgin white Nike attire, but she has a dark side. Think angry school marm with a ruler. She uses the ruler to measure her disobedient male students. When they fail to measure up, and we always do, she uses the ruler to beat us.
Here is Leslie in her dark school marm Nike outfit. She is saying, "Okay Jim, it's your turn now. You may need to break your hips, but you will do a split by the day's end, so help me god! Oh, stop snivelling! Why oh why must you make me hurt you?"
When she arrived at the Sewickley Y, she brought along a hand-scribbled document with the exercises she had decided to teach me. These ranged from the twisting medicine ball slam, to the superman banana.
Careful scrutiny of this primary document shows evidence that Leslie has been practicing all this weight training stuff seriously for years. I ask that you give particular scrutiny to her lower case i's. Note how there is nary a single heart-shaped dot above any of them.
I fear Leslie is slowly but surely lifting all the girl out of herself, but who am I to judge?
Here is the primary document:
I am hoping, by year's end, if I ever finish my new article on novel hypnotics and the mayhem they can cause, to post all Leslie's dry land lifting and related exercises in a well-labeled, one stop vlog. It has not escaped me that my vlog is not always the most pragmatically useful source of swimming-advice, that I more often than not have appropriated this space for purposes of jotting down and sharing with the wet world at large my seemingly always bubbling spring of [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weltschmerz"]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weltschmerz [/ame]
In this, I sometimes delude myself into believing I am doing my fellow swimmers a service of sorts. You know how our Christian brothers recommend praying for "those more miserable than ourselves"? I have, in my mind, put a palpable, if not punchable, face on such recipients of God's mercy.
In any event, I do hope to contribute the complete Leslie dryland inventory soon, which I suspect might prove more helpful to most viewers than the certain knowledge you are better off than at least one wretch!
For now, here are a few more bricks in the Sisyphusian wall.
I hope you enjoy it.
All my best,
J I M M I E
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMszfqhdPdA"]YouTube- 1-legged squats hip hinges dead lifts done right and wrong[/ame]
"Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow."
The meet deadline is about seven weeks away, and so far there are two entries. From past experience, one half of all entries will show up in the week before the meet. Since we make the best attempt to treat our swimmers to their benefit, we select a deadline as close to the meet as possible. Our deadline is determined by the deadline for tee shirt orders, which is Monday before our meet.
If we did not have tee shirts, I would set the deadline for two days before the meet. It takes one minute to push the computer button to seed the meet, and half a day to copy the meet program at Office Depot. I never understood why local meets have a deadline two weeks before the meet.
We send our tee shirt order in Monday before the meet. The shirts are ordered and delivered to the printers on Tuesday. The shirts are printed on Wednesday, and ready for pickup on Wednesday or Thursday. That leaves a day or two for unforeseen problems:
Washington has seen some snow at that time of year. Everything shuts down here and people freak out at the thought of snow (from someone who grew up in upstate New York) And, there is a possibility that we could get a real storm.The printer could make a big goof and need additional time to make the shirts right.
One year I sent in my entry to the local Albatross Open. I got a call from the meet director that went something like this:
MD: We received your meet entry today, but the entry deadline was yesterday.
ME: Sorry; it was mailed a day or two ago. Is it a problem?
MD: Yes, it was a day late. You need to deck enter and pay an extra fee at the meet.
ME: Did you do the seeding yet?
ME: So what is the problem? Why can't you enter me in the meet?
MD: Because your entry was received past the deadline.
ME: But if you haven't done anything yet with the entries, why is it a problem entering me in the meet?
MD: It isn't, but you are a day past the deadline, so I can't.
I did not attend the meet that year or the next. The MD returned my check. It was obvious that conforming to rules was more important than getting swimmers into the meet.
I vowed not to repeat this attitude in our meet. Of course there are a few entires that trickle in after the deadline. I just enter them, and hope that if there is a tee shirt order in a late entry, we have an extra shirt ordered. Sometimes, a few people will contact me to ask if it is too late to enter. I tell them no, but don't order a tee shirt and I get an entry received WITH payment before Friday when I do the seeding.
One year, I got a call from someone's mother pleading to let her son into the meet late. (CUBU swimmer, 18 y.o.) Sometimes I get overnight entries sent by Express Mail. Sometimes Santa (or the meet fairy) drops entries into my home mail box overnight (entries go to our team post office box.) I have also had entries personally delivered to my office during the day. In all, about five entires out of 150 arrive late. I can handle that.
I enter swimmers into the meet database the day their entries arrive. There is too much to do days before the meet without becoming a hermit monk frantically holding and then copying all entries into the database at once. We also need to keep a daily tab on the number of entires in our 500-free, since we limit the entires and update the count daily on our web site meet page.
BOOK OF WISDOM
Be real. Lose the attitude - it's easy to find one as the deadline approaches.
Updated December 6th, 2009 at 10:40 PM by Rnovitske
Now that my SCM season is done and Iíve had a few days to mull things over, Iíve decided that my three highest priorities for the next few months are to (1) do more sprinting in workouts, (2) re-establish some kind of aerobic cross-training routine, and (3) make it a priority to do weights consistently. Injuries had prevented me from doing much weight-bearing exercise or from rowing since early summer. I actually got the ok from my ortho and PT to resume these about 2 weeks ago, but I put off restarting them until after my taper. The trick now is to be disciplined enough to ramp things up gradually, so that I donít injure myself again.
I did lift weights through the fall until I tweaked my arm about 5 weeks ago, so itís just a matter of resuming that routine after the layoff. As for the more sprintingómy 50 times have slowed ever since I stopped playing water polo a few years ago. I donít know if Iím quite ready to take up that sport again, but I can work more of the anaerobic training that polo involves into my swim workouts. Sometimes I get discouraged that team workouts do not involve more real sprinting, but I should instead focus on getting what I need by swimming on my own and by tweaking the group workouts to create opportunities for speed.
With those thoughts in mind, today I went to gym and did arm and leg weights, rowed on the erg machine for 8 minutes, and did a thorough stretch. The rowing was a testólast time I tried it, it didnít hurt as I was doing it, but made my heel sore the next day (my injury was to the sheeting that attaches the Achilles tendon to the bone, and itís the range of motion involved in rowing that can irritate it). So I just did a bit today, and will evaluate how things feel tomorrow.
Then I just had time for a mini swim workout. Hereís what I did:
1000 warmup (400S/200K/200P/200S)
12 x 25 @ :30, odds easy FR, evens sprint FR
That was it! The swimming felt good after the weights.
Good luck to everyone headed off to a meet this weekend! I hope you all amaze and delight yourselves with your performances!
Today my swimsuits and I decamped to Northwest Florida for the holidays. I had easy flights and arrived before noon, and was able to get in a swim at the Panama City Beach Aquatic Center this afternoon. The pool was set up SCY; hereís the workout I did.
1000 warmup (400 swim, 200 Rev IM K, 200 Pull, 200 Rev IM Drill/swim by 25)
Then one of the other swimmers hailed meóit was my swimming pal Paul--I met him down here several years ago, and look forward to swimming with him whenever I visit. I felt lucky to have run into him on my first trip to the pool. I joined in with him and Joe and Jeff from Germany for the last bit of their workout, which was
150 Pull, desc. By 50s
4 x 75 Pull fast @ 1:30ish
Then they all left, and I had the entire pool to myself for the rest of my workout. It seemed like a good opportunity to do my turducken set, which I hesitate to inflict on anyone whoís not a happy IMer.
Turducken set: A turducken is a turkey that is stuffed with a duck, which in turn has been stuffed with a chicken. Iíve never tasted one, but I feel like Iíve been reading about them as a novelty food item for at least a decade. The latest article I saw about turducken was not about food at all, but about privacy law, and ever since I read it, the word has been rolling around in my head. So I decided I would assemble stroke turduckens by stuffing a 50 of one stroke into the middle of a 100 of another stroke, then sticking the whole thing into a 200 of yet another stroke. I did four rounds of these; on the first, turkey=fly, duck=back, and chicken=breast; the strokes rotate through the IM thereafter. The set looked like this:
4 x 350 @ :30-:40 rest interval
1st 350=100 FL/50 BK/50 BR/50 BK/100 FL
2nd 350=100 BK/50 BR/50 FR/50 BR/100 BK
3rd 350=100 BR/50 FR/50 FL/50 FR/100 BR
4th 350=100 FR/50 FL/50 BK/50 FL/100 FR
On each round I aimed to do the middle 50 at 200 IM pace; the 50 before it as build and the 50 after it as recovery, and the turkey 100s at the front and back at basic aerobic pace.
Kick set: 7 x 100 K @ 2:00
To continue with todayís theme, I made a 400IM/200IM/100IM turducken kick set and sliced it into manageable 100 yard portions. So my 7 100s were:
Then I did a quick 200 warmdown and hopped out.
This evening I went to my new (temporary) gym and did arm weights. Tomorrow I hope to get a swim in before driving up to my momís house in Alabama.
This afternoon, I went into our kitchen to check on the three quadrapedes: lefty, the male pug; biscuit the little female pug; and linus, the guinea pig who is convinced he, too, is a pug, albeit one who prefers vegetative matter to hard to described meat byproducts.
The twelve legs were all in the kitchen. Left and Biscuit had dog pillows upon which to lay about when the mood for rest strikes then. sometimes, in a rare expression of drive, Lefty will sit in one dog bed and grab the other dog bed in his mouth, and shake it brusquely, as it attempting to snap its spinal cord. these pillows have sheeps hair and do look, like pracice murder scenes, must give them that much.
The ambien dance has begun, theletters swimnging bosa nova style, swayingagainst one anotherscurvesand indetations and convexities invaginating conccavite, and with squintimng the imeprssion is fmoredd.
so cure, this camily of mistamtched creasedtusethat iasste markign onwaerds tlike armu ants ofrlleadrfdctter ant.sll i ccnanan;t aaseee what thsi all abot now. the whole jump;ing ni==hmjjjjiiveing stufss. teh ''
the huger is raising p a a bit..
so whatis next cucmbers and gargazono with ambine andn dskldsalllk;fjjjajjjjjthekvikiking shiops with speekrs fread o float what is gereek for swine snowt'
It's 12:33 p.m., and I am sitting around at my desk here in wintry Pittsburgh waiting for experts on lost person behaviour to call me back. I spell it with the British "u" because many of these fellows are Canadian, possibly because there are so many places to get lost in Canada. My hypothesis for why: the absence of nocturnal light pollution and similar whatnot to guide one to a mall or other safe haven of human civilization.
During this period of waiting, it occurred to me that a rare (of late) un-Ambienated vlog might be in order, if for no other reason than to test the ongoing functionality of whatever rational faculties I have left.
As my fellow devotees of novel hypnotics may know first hand, these drugs can have some heavy duty discombobulating and bamboozling effects. In my case, oftentimes the first things to go are those items to which I have only the weakest tether lines under the best, most rational of circumstances. Propriety, the hope not to offend others for the pure mean-spirited joy this can bring me, self-pity, and finally what in male dogs is sometimes described as "that little red thing"--all these tend to change drastically in me under the influence of zolpidem. The first two (propriety; kindness) run for the hills; the second two (self pity, ribaldry) burst out in ways that are hard to restrain. I have been de-friended on Facebook because of such boorishness and indecency.
In fact, the only things that reliably restrain self pity, libidinous inappropriateness, jabberwocky, and the like is the phenomenon dubbed by researchers at the Mayo Clinic as a new drug-aided variation on SRED, or sleep related eating disorder. This morning, I went down to the kitchen and found a bottle of Real Lemon lemonade, my favorite beverage, stowed not in the refrigerator where it belonged, but rather in the cupboard beside the cups and glasses.
I suppose it could have been worse.
Some of us so-called Ambien Zombies have been known to pour a glass of bleach in the night, the better to chase down the buttered cigarette sandwich we have made for ourselves as a snack.
I am digressing a bit here.
VIA, or vlogging under in the influence of ambien, has a good side and some bad sides.
On the good side, I have now--on at least two separate occasions--discovered vlogs that "I" have written but which I have almost no memory of having written. I can thus read such entries the way I imagine the non-Jim reading audience reads them: with total amusement and the utmost respect for the writer, perhaps even just a smidgen of jealousy for his evident genius! Oh, if only I could write like this "Jim" in his full reverie mode.
Actually, just joking about that. Reading these amnestically-penned vlogs, in truth, only gives me the chance to do what I really DO imagine my readers often do: Laugh AT me, not WITH me.
It's nice when a blowhard can laugh AT himself without totally feeling responsible for it. I suppose what I am really doing on such occasions is laughing at my reptilian brain in action. What a peculiar fellow this nutcase is...though I do admire his lack of self-censure.
The bad sides of Ambien have already been suggested. One additional example: I seem to have made an enemy of the brother of a female swimmer I occasionally correspond with on Facebook. It appears I will not be attending that family's Christmas party this or any other year in the foreseeable future.
The cure for all this, of course, is simple. Either stop taking Ambien, or take it and immediately go to sleep. The problem is that I have found that taking Ambien and fighting off sleep leaves me in the Tiger Woodsian Ambien haze. Though I have no floosy to enjoy myself with while thusly enfogged, I nevertheless enjoy the tranquility and relaxation and freedom from worry this mood bestows. I enjoy it so much, in fact, that I know it will be a while before I am able to wean myself from it.
Note: Ambien and its cousins are not benzodiazepines like Valium, though they target one of the brain's many subtypes of benzodiazepine receptors in the GABA system. Sleep researchers maintain there is no evidence that Ambien and the other Z-drugs are anxiolytic, or anxiety relieving. Thus it is entirely possible that my perception of calm is either a placebo response or idiosyncratic. That said, I will add one penultimate wrinkle here for those, like me, who include amongst your various hobbies an interest in amateur psychopharmacology.
Zolpidem, the generic name for Ambien, has been shown to trigger speech in a certain type of schizophrenic patient who is suffering mutism because of catatonia. It might have helped Al Pacino, for instance, at the end of Scarecrow.
Perhaps my reaction is simply some variation on a positive Zolpidem Test.
Now, final wrinkle: though I do believe that this drug is, in some regards, capable of reducing my control over my behavior somewhat, it is clear to me that my decision to keep taking the pill and vlogging and/or otherwise accosting the etherous internet world at large is something of which I am fully culpable. As an expert in the burgeoning field of sleep forensics told me, there is voluntary and involuntary intoxication.
Taking the pill exactly as directed and then going on a blue streak of mayhem is involuntary intoxication, especially the first time it happens.
But taking the pill the way I have been lately, knowing the likely consequences, and doing it anyway, qualifies as voluntary intoxication. In fact, one might argue my case is very voluntary intoxication.
Let me know if I go too far.
Note: this is NOT a cry for help.
Now, on another note, after last night's 4100 yards, I asked some of my swimming teammates if they might help me identify my elbow bone. We could not, for the life of us, decide whether the pointy bone is attached to the upper arm bone or one of the lower arm bones.
So I took a picture with my finger right on the painful jabby bone in the hopes that Drs. Dixon and Jaegermeister, and fellow sufferer Jim Matysek, might better zero in on a diagnosis.
PS what do you think about my peace symbol within a heart medallion?
Merry Humanist Christmas one and all.
I suspect today's vlog may not be exactly the "big present" you were hoping for.
In fact, it might not even qualify as much of a "stocking stuffer" for those of you whose minds are "right."
However, if somewhere out there in the greater community of swimmers there exists a single seasonally affected soul, and if this solitary seasonally affected soul have already watched ad nauseam Its a Wonderful Night and/or A Christmas Story and/or any of the other innumerably rerun TV shows that are on tonight and tomorrow night and every night for the foreseeable future, it is to you--fellow traveler in this veil of tears!--that I dedicate this brand new Yuletide triple feature.
The first film is a brief introduction by me to the second film, which is an overly long review of some of the current psychiatric literature on mood improvement.
You will note I have left out some of the strategies that have received attention of late, particularly data from the TC-5214 phase 2 trial, which indicated that targeting Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors may prove to be a beneficial augmentation treatment with promise for providing relief to millions of patients who do not respond well to first-line SSRI therapy.
Everyone is familiar with that research, so I have concentrated my droning lecture on other findings that are not only of scientific note but which will perhaps prove a little more actionable in the near term for patients like you and me.
The final, and without doubt best, of tonight's triple feature is yet another Christmas mood enhancing charmer by my twin brother John.
I think those of you who live in hot house climes like California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona may find this brisk little glimpse into the world of snow quite refreshing and soul cleansing.
Again, Merry Christmas one and all! And I will not be at all offended if you use my two filmic contributions as a form of sleep aid. I have been told that my haltingly monotonous lecture style may soon attract the attention of regulators at the FDA itself, so powerfully soporific is its influence of listeners.
Turn the lights down low, get under your comforter, click the first film, and....
You are getting very sleepy....
1. Introduction to Jim's Seasonal Mood Tips for Swimmers:
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eb8es8vh778"]YouTube- Introduction to Jim's Seasonal Mood Tips for Swimmers[/ame]
2. Jim's Seasonal Mood Tips for Swimmers:
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Kfa-R_yOS8"]YouTube- Video 17[/ame]
3. Jingle All the Way:
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoA3WUda6OU"]YouTube- Snow Day[/ame]
Our dear Leslie is thinking of changing her hair color for the 2010 swimming season. In an effort to help her decide which way to go, I asked my brother to put together a sampling of some of the more fetching colors worn by fashionable women this season.
Please vote for your favorite, and provide a rationale in the comments section below.
To make voting easier, simply indicate either:
Aquamarine/Scope MouthwashLady Carrot TopPapal Purple
Scott's Turf Builder
Note: to vote, please visit this thread by clicking here: [ame="http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?p=202158#post202158"]Leslie "The Fortress" Hair Color Poll - U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame]
I think the one thing we can all agree is that all of these colors would look great on our Leslie--she really can't go wrong with any of them.
Updated December 26th, 2009 at 07:08 PM by jim thornton
When I first got on Facebook, what we young people who text and so forth refer to as a "social networking site," I accidentally replaced what is known as my "wall" with an alternative known as the "advanced wall" or maybe the "super wall" or possibly the "fun wall" or the "amazing wall."
The one benefit of this advanced, super, fun, and/or amazing "wall" was that it allowed you to do cartoons, albeit ones that must be drawn with the mouse.
As regular viewers might note, I have trouble drawing recognizable features, such as, for instance, a squirrel or a gall bladder, under ideal conditions.
Drawing a squirrel or gall bladder with a mouse proved to be exceptionally challenging.
In any event, I did a series of nightly mouse drawn cartoons that required captions to make even a little wee tiny corpuscle of sense.
My beloved brother John collected these together, asked me to provide a capsule description of the cartoon itself and the circumstances under which I drew it, and then posted the entire collection on the web.
Eventually, I realized that none of my Facebook friends had an "advanced" "super" "fun" or "amazing" wall, and thus none of them ever got any of my messages. Nor did they ever respond to me in any way! It was almost as if they were giving me what the prison authorities gave Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky after his arrest for alleged subversion to Tsar Nicholas: i.e., the "silent treatment" where the guards even wore velvet-soled boots!
Utterly ignored for two years -- all the while me thinking it was only because I was pathetically unpopular!
It took quite a while, but finally I figured out how to restore my "wall" without adjectives--or as our British friend SwimStud might say, in his continental way--without sans adjectives.
I have not been able to do mouse drawn cartoons since.
If you would like to befriend me on Facebook, please do a search for James Scott Thornton--my full name, which narrows the possibilities down from 12,842,117 Jim Thorntons to merely 87,423 James Scott Thorntons.
I like to think of myself as The James Scott Thornton, but the use of the article will not refine your Facebook search for me.
Do not worry about befriending an "unpopular" person, whose "unpopularity" might somehow wipe off on you, tainting, staining, and causing to putrefy your own reputation.
I am actually quite the Facebook dandy, if I do say so myself, averaging at least one "notification" per month, and often two. Plus, if you look at the advertisements that adorn the right hand of my "profile," you will be pleased to note that an ever revolving assortment of women appear to be trying to find me, though I do not remember ever meeting these women. If I did, it must have been at a medical convention of incredibly beautiful 20 somethings seeking breast reduction surgery, for this appears to be their one common feature.
But I babble.
Here is the lost treasure trove of mouse drawn cartoons with explicatory subcaptions, rediscovered by me accidentally several minutes before I wrote this word here.
There are worse ways to spend the end of 2009 than to read and view my lost but found cartoon corpus of work. I am not sure exactly what these worse ways are, but I am certain they exist.
State-dependent memory is a phenomenon that at least partly explains why ones life, when viewed from the perspective of current happiness and triumph, seems to have been always thus; likewise, present suckiness seems to trigger recollections of nothing but former suckiness, thus lending the impression that it's all been a Full Catastrophe from the get-go.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHAqdZ2f5cM"]YouTube- Zorba - "the full catastrophe"[/ame]
No stranger, me, to state-dependent memory's bamboozling effects in both the up-and-down directions, as well as the full catastrophe's dual nature, for without said catastrophe, would there be any point whatsoever?
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VscVP_Gt_s&feature=related"]YouTube- Peggy Lee - ‚ôę Is That All There Is ‚ôę[/ame]
It is against this waffling backdrop (Life tastes great! Life's less filling! Tastes great! Less filling!) that I momentarily cast aside the feigned cheerfulness of recent vlogs to assess the Aughts.
My knee jerk analysis here is that the decade between Y2K's unfulfilled promise of global high tech disaster to 2009's unfulfilled swine flu monster plague, and all the pointless if passionate rancor in between, has been the most dispiriting decade in memory.
I'm not much of a reader of literature myself, but every once in a while, I will read something that strikes me as particularly insightful. The following quote, by Louis Ferdinand Celine, seems to my state-dependent-melancholic side to perfectly sum up the past ten years and the effect this has had on me and all my grubby personal aspirations, career and otherwise:
ďI didnít understand. I was being hornswoggled by everything and everybody, women, money, and ideas. I was a sucker, and I didnít like it. I still run into Musyne now and then, every two years or so she crosses my path, as people one has known well tend to. Two years is the time it takes to perceive at one glance, a glance as sure as instinct, the ugliness that can come over a face, even one that was delicious in its day.
ďFor a moment you hesitate, then you accept the face as it has become, with its repugnant cumulative disharmony. What can you do but acquiesce in this slow, painstaking caricature which two years have etched, but accept the passage of time, that portrait of ourselves. Then we can say that weíve really recognized each other (like some foreign banknote that one hesitates to accept at first sight), that we hadnít taken a wrong turn, that each on his own weíd traveled the right road, the inevitable road to decay, for another two years. Thatís all there is to it.Ē
But then I ask myself, is such a view of the past ten years really accurate? Or is what is actually hornswaggling me not so much money and ideas and all the other literal and metaphorical Musynes of the world, but rather my own sense of X--whatever X might be, character defect or unreasonable sense of entitlement or some other thing that cries out to be filled, or perhaps more accurately, plugged?
If forced to make a list of my personal ups and downs of the Aughts, the former would clearly outnumber the latter. In early 2000, for example, I got to go to the jungles of Ecuador and made it out without being speared by the Taigeri; in late 2009 I got to go blindfolded into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area and made it out without being disembowled by wolverines.
In between, I enjoyed innumerable other little adventures, and if the price for doing so was to have to write, then rewrite, about these experiences, only an utter ingrate would complain too much. I watched my beloved sons grow into young men, and made a number of wonderful friends--many of them among the incredibly likable ranks of USMS. Along these line, I managed, by fluke of the timing of national meets, to place 4th in the World in a couple FINA masters tabulations (twice in LCM and once in SCM).
Throughout the decade, I suspect I have worried more than perhaps the average fellow that something horrible might happen. But these worries, for the most part--no, for the entire part--have come to naught.
Into every life, some rain must fall--but realistically looking at things, there was no more rain falling in mine from 2000 to 2009 than in any preceding decade.
In fact, were my present (and transiently disconcerting, I admit!) circumstances just a wee bit rosier, I dare say it would be easy to sum up the past decade as the best decade in the history of the world.
Of course, you cannot always be making love to a young Ursula Andress while simultaneously eating a Baby Ruth candy bar and taking a phone call from the National Magazine Awards committee informing you of your lifetime achievement award--or similar set of circumstances that, for me, at least, tends to recallibrate my own state dependent memory in another direction entirely.
Still, there is no reason besides fear itself to imagine that the coming decade will be anything but a new grand adventure for us all, with worries as always but worries that invariably come to naught--a bit of endurance and ability to cope with a bit of pain, the hallmarks of swimmers, to be sure: best wishes for the teens, or whatever the next decade is likely to be called.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zetcb-ny0Fg"]YouTube- Celebration - Ronald Bell (Greatest Hits)[/ame]
Age/ Yearly Miles/ Weekly Average/ Best 100 SCY free / age rating / suit
46 / 221.11 / 4.25 / 53.68 ... 86.4 Speedo briefs
47 / 207.78 / 4.00 / 54.42 ... 85.6 Speedo briefs
48 / 264.34 / 5.08 / 52.09 ... 89.8 aquablade
49 / 374.77 / 7.21 / 52.46 ... 89.5 aquablade
50 / 411.77 / 7.92 / 53.02 ... 89.0 FS1
51 / 390.04 / 7.50 / 52.83 ... 89.7 FS1
52 / 363.90 / 7.00 / 52.87 ... 90.1 FS1
53 / 272.42 / 5.24 / 53.97 ... 88.7 FS1
54 / 373.28 / 7.18 / 52.69 ... 91.4 FS1
55 / 372.07 / 7.16 / 52.90 ... 91.6 FS1
56 / 406.70 / 7.82 / 52.86 ... 92.2 B-70
57 / 330.59 / 6.36 / 54.08 ... 90.7 B-70
Greek Olympian and man-god Chris Stevenson posted this age ranking calculator athttp://www.vaswim.org/cgi-bin/rcalc.cgi He includes an explanation for how it works and plenty of cautionary language about why not to take it too seriously, etc.
You can use Chris's brain child to age grade any of your different races in all three courses. But for the sake of this vlog, I decided to just pick the 100 SCY freestyle. If you are getting to the point where your times are starting to plateau a wee bit, you might find this age grading stuff to be a fresh source of motivation.
A couple different factors seem to clearly correlate with my personal swimming performance. The first one that jumps out is the introduction of the first speed suit, the Speedo Aquablade. My time dropped by a little over 2 seconds from the age of 47 to 48, and my age graded ratings jumped from the mid 80s to the cusp of 90--mainly because the norms were probably based on non-speed suit swimmers (thus giving me an artificial advantage once I started wearing one.)
With the FS1, my times also improved relative to my age, and I think part of this was the faster suit, but my training--inspired, I am sure, by times I hadn't done since my young youth--also escalated significantly. The first time I cracked the "90" rating barrier was at age 52 in a FS1. The next year, however, I dropped back to an 88.7 rating in the same suit. The difference seems, that year at least, to be explained by a significant drop in yearly mileage--from 364 to 272. Clearly, the suit matters greatly for me, but training apparently makes some difference, too.
My highest rating of all was a 92.2, achieved last spring at Colony Zones Championships. This was the first meet where I ever wore a B70. The year before, in a FS1, I swam only .04 slower. Was it the faster suit--or the increase in yearly mileage (from 372 to 406) that allowed me to swim a tiny bit faster at age 56 than I had at age 55?
Soon, it seems fairly certain, speed suits of any sort are going to be outlawed. It is hard to know for sure what effect this is likely to have on my swimming performance, but it would be nice to at least discount the psychological change.
So far, at age 57, I have swum the 100 at a couple of our local Y meets, and I've worn my B70 while doing so. It's been a bit disappointing for me because even with this advantage, my best 100 this fall/winter season has been a 54.08, albeit in less than ideal swimming conditions.
Until today's exercise in Big Picture assemblage of personal swimming statistics, I have been dreading to think how truly slow I will become once the suit is outlawed.
But let's say that I do end up adding roughly 2.5 seconds to my 100 post body suit ban. This is about what I subtracted in my 100 time from age 47 to 48 when the Aquablade was first introduced.
I would thus be swimming, say, a 56.5 for the 100 free, which seems to me truly awful. But when I plug this number into Chris's age rating calculator, it cranks out an 86.8. This is almost exactly what I was doing, age-graded wise, at 46, before the speed suits were even introduced.
So it would be just a return to historical norms.
Perhaps this past decade in swimming performance, not just for me but for all who have "benefited" from suit enhancement of their swimming times, will be viewed by future historians as just another bubble of our bubble-bursting era of excess!
And in the meantime, I shall set my sights on breaking 56.5 in jammers!
My talks with industry are going very well indeed.
1. Warm up:
1 x 25 broomstick twists
3 x through:
100 jump ropes
alternating hammers, 15 x 3 x 15, each arm
3 position arm extensions (15 reps each position)
10 minutes stretching
reverse lunges w/straight arm twist w/15 lb DB, 2 x 15 (this was from my "crazy core" link -- http://www.ab-core-and-stomach-exerc...-workouts.html)
straight leg raises in captain's chair (forgot ab slings), 2 x 25
squat swing w/25 lb plate, 2 x 15
russian twist on incline bench w/25 lb plate, 2 x 25
snatch windmill, 15 x 2 x 15
back extensions w/25 lb plate, 2 x 15
push ups, 2 x 25
internal & external rotators
3. Cross Fit WOD (Workout of the Day): "Swimming Tabata Death"
5 rounds of 5 exercises done tabata style (20 seconds @ 100% + 20 seconds rest). Rest until heart rate returns to normal between rounds. I stretched between rounds.
1. med ball slams
2. jump rope
4. lateral bench hops*
* I substituted these for push ups. That many fast push ups is contra-indicated for my shoulders.
** I did this on the seated rowing machine with the weight set at 60 pounds. It was like explosive lifting.
The original tabata protocol involves the following:
ē5 minutes of warm-up
ē8 intervals of 20 seconds all-out intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest
ē2 minutes cool-down
This would be very inadequate warm up for me. Though perhaps I should have done the WOD prior to my core work today ...
Commentary: As Geek would say, this WOD was a mother scratcher. Every exercise was hard, but the lateral bench hops were the worst. My legs were burning. Jump roping is an absolutely fantastic tabata exercise. You don't have to worry about form degradation the way you have to with other exercises. For exercise #1, I was getting about 25 slams per 20 seconds. For exercise #3, I was doing 23-24 crunches per 20 seconds. For exercise #4, I was getting in 30-35 hops on the first 3 rounds and then went down to about 25.
For today's PM swim, I stole one of Tall Paul's recent workouts. It was a good one too. I modified it to do main set #1 as kick instead of swim.
TP Main Set #1:
4 x through:
1 x 200 dolphin kick w/MF & board @ 3:15 descend
1 x 100 dolphin kick on back w/MF @ 2:00 ascend
I ended at 2:11 on the board kicks (#4 = pain) and started with :55 on the 100s (forgot Fortina).
TP Main Set #2:
6 x through:
1 x 100 back w/fins @ 2:00
1 x 50 evil w/fins @ 1:00
I ended at :55 on the 100 backs (dead legs and a cramp) and started at :33 on the 50 evils.
Mini Speed Set:
3 x (4 x 25 AFAP + 25 EZ)
AFAPs = free & fast doggy paddle drill
Nuthin to say except that I am absolutely dead and, as my daughter would say, "can't move my legs." I think I will slather them in Traumeel tonight and take some ibuprofen. Or liberally use my new Stick. http://www.performbetter.com/detail....tegoryID_E_201
Tomorrow is definitely a recovery day. Then, on Thursday, I'll do Geek's lactate set with Speedo. I miss all the sleep I was getting over the long holiday break. Quality sleep makes such a difference!
P.S. I am completely pissed off that licorice, my fav treat, is not gluten free.
Running Shoes Bad?
Updated January 5th, 2010 at 10:34 PM by The Fortress
I guess I should sit down and come up with some goals for the new year.
But before I do maybe a short recap of last year would be in order.
I was still able to swim a few personal bests though not as many as in previous years. These were as follows:
50 Fly - Tie with previous best.
200 Back - An event I just started competing in with my first race at this distance being in November 2008.
50 Free - Bettered my previous best for this distance by 0.60 sec.
200 Free - A race that I had never done in this course and only swam it once this past year. My time converts to nearly the same as what I had swam for a 200 SCY in 2006, the last time I swam this distance in a meet.
50 Back - Bettered my previous best for this distance by 0.57 sec.
Goals for 2010
I'm not going to set specific time goals for this year. If I swim a PB I'll be very pleased but am going into this year with no time expectations. What I do want to do is add a new event or 2.
So with that in mind, I'm going to focus on 2 new distances, the 200 Free and the 100 Fly.
I also want to do more open water swimming. With respect to that goal I began the New Year by swimming the Ft. Lauderdale Rough Water Swim on January 2nd. It was an ocean swim, my first ever and I finished 2nd in my age group (55-59) and was also 2nd of all men over 50.
So the new year is off to a good start, though I've yet to do a pool workout. I hope to get that in tonight.
Chicken O'C rides again!!!!
I was lucky enough to land a spot in the 2010 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (www.nycswim.org).
This year I'll be raising money for the American Macular Degeneration Foundation (www.macular.org), an organisation that raises awareness and supports research into the disease that took my grandfather's eyesight and, only a few months ago, a great deal of my mother's.
I won't start begging for donations until about April, but in the meantime my training has begun in earnest. Poor Earnest.
Not one to suffer alone, I plan to document my entire training process in painfully boring detail on this blog, including sudoku breaks, cups of coffee consumed, and visits to the loo.
Youtube provided my inspiration tonight, and I'd like to share the motivational interlude I found. This is how three nautical chappies see New York in just one day.
I hope I can also see New York in just one day on June 12th!!
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6v7QfCxuvLo"]YouTube- Gene Kelly Frank Sinatra - "New York, New York"[/ame]