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  1. Intimations of ISH Morbidity

    by , February 24th, 2010 at 11:48 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I ask-no! I beg!-- that the physicians in our ranks, the Dr. Tom Jaegermeisters, the Dr. Kurt Dicksons, the Dr. Laughing Gulls, the (fake) Dr. Jim Thorntons, take a few minutes to view this film with every iota of heightened attention they can muster.

    Rarely has a man of medicine, fake medicine, but medicine nonetheless, expressed in the film medium such "laughing in the face of death" terror at learning through K-Mart and the Internet that he suffers ISH.

    Please, really, leave comments if you know about, have, can recommend courses of action for, or just want to gloat about my likely case of ISH.

    Honestly, please, please, please tell me what to do.


    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIVlQkfZPdE"]YouTube- ISH: First He Weeps[/ame]
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  2. Raffish Badboy in Dishabille

    by , March 3rd, 2010 at 10:43 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Entry Word: raffish*
    Function: adjective
    Meaning: lacking in refinement or good taste <the dowager cringed at the thought of raffish
    peasants in rough boots tromping all over her Persian rugs



    Entry Word: badboy*
    Function: noun
    Meaning: A young man who has many characteristics of a naughty boy: he's independent and willful; he does what he wants when he wants; he doesn't follow trends, they follow him; he often looks scruffy, but hip; he's not looking for trouble, but there's a sense of danger about him. For these reasons and more, he's irresistible to women. He's a heartbreaker with five o'clock shadow.


    Last week, as the Winter Olympic Games were waning, my identical twin brother--the raffish badboy John Thornton, AKA, Rusty Scupperton, AKA, Jimmy Bougar, AKA, Libby Ellen Spooner, and countless other aliases--texted me.

    The gist of John's message was that he had found the perfect look for us, and that I would never guess what it was.


    I immediately texted him back with a "guess" that I was virtually certain was correct: "The Apollo Ohno soul patch?"




    Singletons often think twins have E.S.P., but in my case, it's simply remarkable perception and intuitive intelligence bordering on the uncanny. In our childhood, for instance, I was able to routinely ruin the TV show
    Mannix for anybody watching it with me because of my ability to identify the villain within a second of his initial appearance.



    But I am getting off the subject.


    Anyhow, John immediately texted me back with what I assumed would be congratulations for my perspicacity. Instead, he said that the Apollo Ohno soul patch was
    not the look he was pioneering for us, but that I was on the right track.

    This is when I knew, with 100 percent confidence this time, that John was growing a pencil-thin mustache.


    I also knew, with 100 percent confidence, that I was the identical twin brother of a fashion-sense spooky genius.

    The pencil thin mustache was absolutely the look that we Thornton twins were born to sport. Sometimes, it seems, the best ideas lie hidden for years right under one's nose.

    At this point in my "flowery, florid" commentary, let me intersperse a little "eye candy" pictorial for the ladies to keep interest from flagging:



    Despite his album title, I don't think Mr. Buffet has really captured the thinness that is necessary for this particular mustache. And why is he resting his arm on a nuclear reactor cooling tower?


    Sometimes a chick-magnetizing look must go out of style for several generations before it can be brought back to magnetize the great great granddaughters of the originally mesmerized chicks.


    This appears to be the case with the pencil thin mustache.




    I dare say that every American woman alive today had female ancestors who occasionally drifted off to sleep with the assistance of fantasies about Errol Flynn. Has his pencil thin time come again?




    As the years passed, the pencil thin mustache's popularity waned to the point where you needed either a British accent...




    or roles like Dr. Phibes to pull off the look.



    The inimitable John Waters is arguably the most famous modern day proponent of the look, and by his own admission, he is not trying to attract actual women.



    At the 2006 National Magazine Awards ceremony, John consoles me about my loss and shows me how to add a little panache to the monkey suit look by tilting my clip on bow-tie
    just so. Amazingly, it did not occur to me to ask him for pencil thin mustache advice because the thought that I would be sporting this look in less than four years had not yet entered my foolish little head!

    A few notes before presenting tonight's final eye candy images.

    1. At
    tonight's practice, our teammate Mark "Water Rat" Cox was swimming right behind me on a set of 4 x 200s on 3:00 descending. The reason Mark was behind me was he was doing I.M.'s and I was swimming freestyle. Anyhow, the aquatic staff had removed the backstroke flags on the far end of the pool, and Mark crashed into the wall, breaking his nose. So very sorry, Mark! But there is a silver lining here that would dramatically reduce the amount of shaving trauma to the nasal region, practically cutting this in half...

    2. To wit, I am very much hoping to cajole Mark along with all the men on our team, and as many of the women who would agree to a short purely reversible course of anabolic steroids, into joining me in the growth, trimming, and general bonzai-tree tending your own pencil thin mustaches in time for this year's regional AMYMSA championships at Clarion University. The Sewickley team, quite frankly, has always scared the bejesus out of the other teams in our Young Men's Christian Association league. Imagine the terror at seeing a dozen people of all genders sporting the same raffishly menacing badboy upper lip hair?

    3. Which brings me to a small poll here. Which name do you think would be better for the Sewickley Y masters team?

    The Pencil Thin Mustached Sewickley Sea Dragons

    or

    The Errol Fins



    Here is what my own mustache looks like so far. As you can see, it's a little unruly and unkempt at this stage, and I will probably need to be a lot more ruthless in trimming it in the future. But I thought that until my teammate Ben Mayhew makes good on his promise to buy me some mascara and/or Grecian Formula/Just for Men blackening dye, I thought I'd let my freak flag fly at little bit longer.

    Speaking of flags flying, after the last few practices, I have found myself exiting the Y in such a state of total exhaustion that were it not for the absolutely frigid air's infiltration, I would surely spend the rest of the night in unwitting and possibly criminal dishabille.*

    Entry Word: dishabille*
    Function: noun

    1. (Clothing & Fashion) the state of being partly or carelessly dressed
    2. (Clothing & Fashion) Archaic clothes worn in such a state [from French déshabillé undressed, from dés- dis-1habiller to dress; see habiliment]

    The pencil thin mustache, it appears, might just keep this raffish badboy déshabillé out of legal jeopardy.




    _______________________________________________

    * if you have read down to this point wondering what all the asterisks were for, congratulations! You have just successfully completed the first in an occasional series of Words Are Important vocabulary building exercises courtesy of Vlog the Inhaler Pedantry
    (TM)





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  3. Oscar Pickin' Time

    by , March 5th, 2010 at 12:07 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    People wonder sometimes why we have two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, two forks on our tongues, two adenoids, two lungs, two pituitary glands, two kidneys, two testicles, and in my case, too much time on my hands.

    The answer is fail-safe redundancy: if one ball fails, the other can do its designated job. Just ask Lance. Though you might want to avoid asking Cheryl Crow until she's less fragile.

    Tonight, after a long day's journey into the most spectacular day of time-wasting I have had in years, I took my ambien tablet and now just ain't no damn ****ing good at all, to tell the truth.

    But unlike 87 out of 88 humans, I have more than just a bunch of paired redundant backup organs, should one malfunction, get sick, or become temporarily incapacitated by drugs and self disgust.

    I have a back-up me, that is to say, the Good Twin, John, who is more than a back-up really, he is an idealized version of what I could have been if I had not been so overwhelmed with pettiness and (unusually) petty character flaws, chief amongst which are laziness, greed, spendthifty nature, inability to plan ahead, and the kind of easy distractibility you usually see in pre-school children force fed great goblets of liquid Ritalin by men in white with gloves passed their elbows.

    Please enjoy tonight's blog, Oscar Pickin' Time, a film conceived, produced, and starring the one person in the world who is as close to me as anyone could ever hope to come, though so much better than me that the gap between us can never be closed.

    Be alert to the later stages of the film, where a fully luxurious pencil thin makes its appearance. Historians, I daresay, some day will note that with this image, the flood gates will be lifted, spilling cascades wannabe swooshing raffish little men in every direction across the streets of America.

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnMm44IRpMA"]YouTube- Oscar Pickin' Showdown!!![/ame]

    Updated March 5th, 2010 at 12:12 AM by jim thornton

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  4. Hodge Podge of a Sick Boy

    by , March 14th, 2010 at 01:19 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I know why the caged slug leaks.

    Observant readers of this vlog over the past several years might have noted that I have the immune system of someone with a bad immune system.

    While most of you can count on your innate armies of internal lymphocytes and Natural Killer Cells, immunoglobulins and macrophages, I appear to have none of these things. Thus I must fight the good fight against contagion by hiring outside forces: the Hessian mercenaries of medicine.

    Chief among these is Colonel Nyquil, with whose assistance I woke on Saturday morning still alive at 10 ish, drove to the accountant, drove back, slept from 1 ish to 5 ish, rallied for about 4 hours, then slept from 9 ish to 10 ish this morning, though it wasn't as long as you might think because we lost an hour.

    Not long after awakening, I began to suckle:



    The current state of nasal blockage is so severe that the wind pipe and pie hole must serve double duty. I cannot swallow and breathe at the same time, thus to imbibe my medicine and victuals requires a never ending compromise between hypoxia and anorexia.

    Things got so bad a couple nights ago that I googled "home made ventilators to allow breathing during periods of intense sinus blockage" but got no hits.

    When I narrowed the search to "home made ventilators" I was able to find many Popular Mechanics-style gizmos that armchair inventors have rigged up in their garages. However, the combination of oxygen deprivation and Nyquil overdosing made the complicated directions beyond my capacities to follow.

    Thus I continue to suffer like a coelacanth mouth-breathing during a prolonged drought in the mudhole, my icthyological lips and mouth flaking in dessication!

    I cannot sustain thoughts, hence today's hodge podge of cognitive flotsam and jetsam from the past week of swimming, toil, news headlines, and reverie.

    1. Liam update. The lad has joined me in realizing the health benefits of nature. Here he is doing his homework and reviewing the scientific literature in the jungle.



    2. Swimming update: the effect of trying vs. the Glenn Battle Strategy for the 500.

    There are a variety of ways to swim the 500. If you want to get your best time, you need to train hard, get into peak shape, then swim the whole thing intelligently but essentially in pain--or as my teammate/coach Bill White (father of Liam) once told me when I said, "Bill, if I go fast the whole time, it's going to hurt"--"It's supposed to hurt."

    If, on the other hand, you want to avoid too much suffering and get a "good enough" time, our friend Glenn Battle suggests the following strategy.

    • 150 in the comfort zone*
    • 50 a bit faster
    • 150 in comfort zone
    • 50 a bit faster
    • 50 in the comfort zone
    • 50 as fast as possible


    {* Glenn added a further complication that the very first 50 should probably be just a wee bit faster than total comfort, otherwise you risk setting the comfort bar too low. This codicil is for advanced loafers since it is very easy to get screwed up on the count if you use it.)

    Here are two of my Amish Mudhole 500 meet results.

    The Hard Way

    AGE GROUP: 55-59
    1 JIM THORNTON 57 M SEWY 5:27.62

    28.95
    32.50
    33.56
    32.96
    34.78
    33.85
    33.79
    33.61
    34.03
    29.59

    The Glenn Battle Strategy Less Hard Way

    AGE GROUP: 55-59
    1 JIM THORNTON 57 M SEWY 5:32.85

    29.97
    33.83
    34.09
    33.03
    35.36
    35.22
    34.46
    32.73
    33.50
    30.66

    Make of this whatever you want.

    3. Roethlisberger update. If you have not yet done so, and you think there is a CHANCE IN HELL that Ben Roethlisberger is the innocent victim of a 20-year-old money-grubbing College of Georgia floosy, please read the entire civil complaint from last summer's inaugural scrape with the legal system. One of my teammates here is Sewickley has a company that does sports-food promotions. His biggest product success to date was "Flutie Flakes"--a breakfast cereal with Doug Flutie on the box. It sold something like 2 million boxes worth. One of my teammate's current products, manufactured before the recent sexual assault allegations, is called "Roethlisberger Jerky". He's stuck with quite a few bags of this stuff, which is proving difficult to unload on the public.

    I suggested reversing the two words on the packaging and selling it to Fraternities nationwide, along with a new companion product: Roethlisberger Rapist Mayonnaise--Tag line: Add a little squirt on your jerky (TM)

    Anyhow, here is the link. Note: just as I am not a "real" doctor with "real" prescribing privileges, I am also not a "real" lawyer, or a "real" district attorney with "real" prosecutorial powers in the "real" legal system. Hence, I have no choice but to try my cases in the court of public opinion. Ladies and gentleman of the non-impaneled jury, I ask that you now admit Exhibit A into evidence: http://www.post-gazette.com/download...hlisberger.pdf



    Little Devil Ben with Cop Buddy Entourage

    4. Health Insurance Reform Update. I am saving this for the end here because I know that many of my fellow swimmers disagree with me on the need for you all to dip into your wallets and contribute taxes that will help me get health insurance.

    It looks like this might happen. I do not in anyway mean to sing, Na na na na na naaa, for such would be hubris and surely jinx the final push for reform. Instead, let me just re-post something I wrote on another web site about the need for reform. This precipitated yet more advice from the well-heeled on what I need to do. I shall post this advice first, followed by my post that triggered the giving of such advice.

    Jim,

    I’ve been reading your “madder than hell and not going to take it anymore” posts here for some time, and it seems quite clear that you really don’t like living in the US. I strongly doubt that many will agree with you that we need to change to socialized form of government in order to rid the country of all of “all of the leeches who add nothing to the public weal save for angry ideology that the answer to laissez faire’s obvious failings is to laissez faire even harder till the “free market” fixes everything.”

    It also seems clear that the most angry person posting on these issues, is yourself. I realize that you’re in a real “pinch”. However, it is quite apparent that living in a socialized system is your desire, so with that thought in mind, think about moving to Canada. It is close, would be inexpensive relative to other socialized countries to which you may prefer moving and living, and I think would offer you a real possibility for happiness, or something close.

    Your gain would be clear. The gain to all of the “leeches who add nothing to the public weal save for angry ideology that the answer to laissez faire’s obvious failings…” who believe in a “Free market” is that you won’t need to throw and we won’t need to respond to the eloquent, articulate, slap-in-the-face insults those with whom you disagree, those of us who post on this blog along with you.


    And now my original post that precipitated the "go to psychiatrist then move to Canada" recommendations above:

    The decision to bundle college aid in with health care reform is strange, perhaps, but not in my opinion a bad thing. One could argue, with some rationality, that a college education not only significantly ups the odds of higher life time earnings, but with this, better health (as data shows again and again that those who can afford high quality medical care fare much better than those who can’t.)

    Here is a metaphor for a bunch of dysfunctional systems in the US today: the QWERTYUIOP keyboard. As I am sure you know, Alan, the arrangement of keys on the typewriter keyboard was originally designed to prevent typing speeds from getting too high, thus jamming the mechanics of early type writers.

    Today, with computers, there is no jamming risk whatsoever, and many arrangments of the alphabet have been shown to be much faster and easier to type with. Alas, the status quo is so entrenched (almost like our inches and feet and lb measurements which are clearly nonsensical compared to the metric system) that few, if any, people want to change. It becomes a vicious circle. Keyboard manufacturers won’t change things without a significant demand for the better product; without a better product widely available, kids learning to type use the current QWERTYUIOP configuration; the status quo continues with no relief in sight.

    Ditto with our current system of employment-based health insurance, begun as a way of circumventing price controls in the olden days, and around which a huge entrenched bureaucracy of vested interests has grown like strangler figs anxious to suck every unguarded penny from the doctor-patient transaction.

    Many hospitals today–their actual architecture–seem to follow this same inefficient pattern. They began as somewhat rational buildings, but grew with new wings and skyways and jury-rigged annexes to the point where you need a GPS to find your way from the lobby to the doctor’s office. I have seen gerbil tube extravanganzas laid out more rationally than this mess that evolves over time.

    The Congress has reached a similar point of spectacular ineptitude: many good people, I am sure, but penned in by archaic rules and party rules and the corruption of special interest money–all of which has lead to a virtual paralysis.

    I say why on earth should private banks be allowed to suck money out of student loan moneys, where the need to educate our people is clearly a public good? Ditto, I believe, for private insurers and all the other fatted-tics that have appended their rasper organs on the national health.

    To me, it’s always boiled down to a clear notion: throw out the QWERTYUIOP keyboards and non-metric system; raze hospital mazes that bewilder all visitors; take Occam’s razor to the Gordian Knot of congressional archania; make access to health care an American right, and cut costs and ration via a single payer system; get rid of all of the leeches who add nothing to the public weal save for angry ideology that the answer to laissez faire’s obvious failings is to laissez faire even harder till the “free market” fixes everything.

    One way or the other, those blood-engorged leech-ticks someday will explode.




    My dream of AHIP CEOs' fates: last moment before the squooshing!
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  5. Allegory for Eternal Swimming

    by , March 21st, 2010 at 01:40 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I realize that many of us here in the greater USMS swimming community enjoy swimming, swimming practices, open water swimming, swimming meets, swimming suits, swimming discussions, paraphernalia connected to the sport of swimming, and so forth, at least to a certain extent.

    I moreover sense that it could be construed as blasphemy to hint that lives spent in endless fixated pursuit of swimming-related activities might be, well, a tad unbalanced.

    We swimmers, like every other band of fervent human primates, can become very defensive about our passions.


    Thus, it is undoubtedly more politic to approach this subject indirectly.

    My twin brother John has just made a brilliant movie about obsessive swimming's dark side, a movie I believe could provoke even diehard evangelists for our sport to reexamine their notions.


    Because John did not want to offend swimmers by confronting them directly about their pathology, he has made a film allegory. He purposely chose a much, much less controversial subject--religious views of the after life--to stand in as a proxy for the pursuit of eternity in pools of water.


    But make no mistake.


    This is one of the most brilliant movies/savage indictments about life spent in perpetual pursuit of swimming that you will ever see.


    Normally, I do not rate movies for my vlog audience before they have a chance to view the film themselves. But this time I must make an exception.


    Five stars!
    Big ones, too. Not red dwarfs!

    This preview rating will not, I am confident, bias your own love of this film, if for no other reason than the fact that five stars are not nearly enough.
    __________________________________________


    Brief digression: As I was writing the above, a message from SKYPE just popped up on my screen, demanding an immediate shift if my attention:


    You don't have to change your life around just to get time to meet someone. There are over 7 million members on sexywebdating's online community. Hell in my state alone there are close to 200 THOUSAND active members meeting their perfect match 24 hours 7 days a week inside this tight knit match making heaven.

    There are hundreds of lonely women in your local area that want to be satisfied now. Don't let the chance pass you bye like a wink of the eye.

    Meet that special someone today. It costs you nothing to check it out. All you have to do is press this web link and you'll be chatting with someone in no time.

    http://www.sexyI AM INTENTIONALLY BREAKING THIS WICKED LINK HERE BY INSERTING THIS MESSAGE HERE--YOUR FRIEND, JIM webdating.com


    Lordy!


    Why must the world's succubi constantly be searching for new ways to extract freeze-dried seed from my dessicated loins?


    Do not they know you cannot successfully tap a dry well?


    Begone, harpies! Begone! Do not tempt the righteous man!


    'The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides with the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil (wo)men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and good will shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon those with great vengeance and with furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know that my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.'




    Thus spaketh Ezekiel, more or less

    As much hated as Tiger Woods, John Edwards, most Republican "family values" politicians, and their ilk have been, their abilities to suction more than their fair share of voracious harridans from polite society is perhaps a service that we newly minted righteous men shall all miss-- missed by us even more so than by the now unslated slatterns whose needs are being stymied by sex addiction clinics nationwide!
    **** your ear to the wind and you can hear their girlish keening! It as if Holy Water has been poured upon their Disease!



    From every nook and cranny the succubi loiter and lurk

    But enough about this. I have, you will be glad to know, just blocked my new Skype "friend"--sexy_dating--from all further attempts to contact me, and can now return to the righteous job at hand--saving my friends from swimming obsession's imbalances of the wetted soul:


    _____________________________________________


    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpBMccpe4wU"]YouTube- Why Heaven Can Wait: The Problem with Eternal Life[/ame]
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  6. Hate Jim, Love Leslie

    by , March 24th, 2010 at 03:17 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    USMS members in good standing in 2009, who also had the good fortune to receive the November/December edition of Swimmer magazine, may recall the following "Both Sides of the Lane Line" *** for tat column penned by Leslie "the Fortress" Livingston and Dr. Jim "Fake Doctor" Thornton, MD (f), Ph.D. in exercise physiology (f), M.A. in journalism (r), M.F.A.in fiction writing (r), B.S.in zoology (r), and all around great guy (r).

    Note: Please do not strain your eyes trying to read the attached .jpg image! I subjected the thing to Optical Character Recognition and will paste the entire text in below.

    Now, take a second to familiarize yourselves with yesteryear's arguments before proceeding to the NEARLY UNBELIEVABLE LEVEL OF UNDESERVED HATE MAIL ONE OF US JUST RECEIVED IN THE MOST RECENT ISSUE OF SWIMMER'S LETTERS TO THE EDITOR SECTION!



    As promised, here is the text of the above in a more readable format:

    Leslie Livingston, 48, is a lawyer and mother of three.


    She has numerous USMS and FINA Top 10 rankings and recently set a NR in the 50 back. She is a member Patriot Masters in Fairfax, Va.


    BY LESLIE


    I’m 48 and getting faster. Eschewing conventional wisdom that swimming faster requires more pool time, I've embarked on an intense strength-training regimen. This regimen has ed to increased propulsive force in the water and significant time drops. None of this is terribly surprising. Lifting creates explosive power, increases sprint speed and improves muscular endurance. It can also improve agility, stability and balance. Lifting, in effect, produces "free speed" — you apply the same swimming technique with stronger muscles, generating faster times. Free speed can't be achieved by swimming alone because swimming simply does not provide sufficient resistance
    .
    Weight lifting is perfect cross training for Masters swimmers. Performing several compound functional lifts for the upper and lower body two to three times per week will suffice. Studies confirm that lifting has an immediate impact for relatively untrained under trained athletes or those who have reached plateaus. These studies are much more probative for Masters swimmers than the short-lived Costill study of elite swimmers that Mr. Thornton is wont to cite.

    Unlike aerobic conditioning, strength does not desert us if work or life temporarily thwarts our quest for endorphins. And, unlike swimming alone, lifting combats the aging process by reversing or stymieing the body's natural loss of bone and muscle mass. This should improve flagging times or training slumps. In sum, all swimmers should exploit this powerful potential for improvement. As a former skeptic, I acknowledge that it's easy to avoid the weight room. But, if speed and health are your goal, why wait?


    Jim Thornton has 30 individual Top 10 times— "a dozen less than the lovely Leslie, but at least I can still beat my age in the 100 freestyle, and she can't."

    BY JIM

    I don't like weight lifting. Why pick up something when you don't have to, only to put it down again?

    Maybe I'd think differently if dumbbells actually improved swimming performance. Clearly, many muscle-headed Masters and Olympians alike long ago accepted this myth as gospel. Free weights, Nautilus machines, Pilates with Swiss balls, the whole shooting match of self-torture: The buff have snookered themselves into believing these are critical to speed in the water.

    I don't believe it because science doesn't support it, a conclusion reached by legendary exercise physiologist and Masters swimmer, David Costill, Ph.D., emeritus professor from Ball State University. "General weight lifting probably has no carry-over to swimming performance," Dr. Costill told me recently. "There's never been a study that supports a benefit, though there have been studies that show it doesn't help."

    Still skeptical? Check Medline for additional citations.

    As for diehard iron-pumpers who prefer anecdotal evidence to well-designed studies, let me conclude with anecdotal proof of my own.

    At LCM nationals in Indy last August, the charming speed demon/debater/ignoramus, Leslie Livingston, swam the 50M butterfly in a PR of 29.74. My own time: 29.55— two-tenths of a second faster, I think we can all agree, is a pretty decisive beat-down.

    Leslie will no doubt argue it's only because I'm 6' 1" and, well, male; whereas she is 5' 4" and all girl. Nonsense! I reply. No need to evoke sexism or heightism here. I triumphed for one simple reason: She lifts weights, and I don't.

    __________________________________________________ ___

    Alrighty then! Here now is the reaction to our respective views, reaction that just hit this month's sizzling edition of Swimmer. Again, no eye straining please! I will reprint the letters' text (with names left out) to show you how three things in our sport are now incontrovertible:

    1. Leslie good, Jim bad

    2. It is not just Tea Baggers who are easily hoodwinked and unable to understand even the slightest of ironic tones! It appears that more than a few of our swimming ranks suffer "wet brain" syndrome, as well.

    3. I do agree with the very final letter about who should be named Time Magazine's Athlete of the Year. I had to read the final paragraph several times to convince myself it was not just some glitch in the OCR software that came bundled with my Brother ALL-in-One printer-copier-fax-scanner-and-time-to-change-my-Depends-diaper-reminding Device!

    Thanks, whoever you are, for the vote of confidence!




    Weighing In

    Usually, I like SWIMMER and look forward to reading it. But, seriously Jim Thornton's article in "Both Sides of the Lane Line" was not only un-progressive, but 110 percent naive. I suggest running an article next month on Dara Torres's strength routine. Do you think Jim Thornton would want to pony up his un-weight-trained body and go up against Dara? Looking forward to something a little less antiquated in Both Sides of the Lane Line.

    __________________________________________________

    I found it ironic that your policy "SWIMMER will not accept submissions that include inappropriate language or constitute personal attacks" was listed in "Both Sides of the Lane Line," and "No Weigh," by Jim Thornton, in which he writes "At the LCM nationals in Indy last August, the charming speed demon/debater/ignoramus, Leslie Livingston ..." was an example of a (failure at being humorous?) personal attack (ignoramus) on Leslie Livingston. I enjoy your magazine.

    Keep the beautiful glossy covers, as I display them at work, to catch the eye of coworkers who pick it up. Thanks.


    __________________________________________________


    I enjoyed the "No Weigh" half of Both Sides of the Lane Line in your November-December issue by Jim Thornton, ostensibly rebutting Leslie Livingston's cogent arguments in favor of focused weight training for swimmers. Its tongue-in-cheek (fin-in-mouth?) flavor provided just the right amount of cleverly disguised but strong support for Leslie's argument, while purporting to argue the opposite - a wonderful Dickensian touch! I particularly liked his "I think we can all agree..." challenge that 0.2 seconds better in the 50M fly is a "decisive beat-down" for weight training. Imagine the scene: big strong man (6'1" male) and little bitty lady (5'4" and "all girl," in Thornton's words) on the starting blocks (you can guess who is stretching and preening). The gun goes off, it's over in a flash, and look! The big strong man only beats the little bitty lady by 0.2 seconds (0.7% of elapsed time)! I'm starting to up my weight training right now - well actually, right after Thanksgiving...


    __________________________________________________


    I was hoping to clarify a point made by Jim Thornton in his article "No Weigh!" The comment made about "general weight lifting probably has no carry over to swimming performance" is likely true to a point. General weight training typically involves a circuit of weight machines that in essence were designed for form, not function. A standard circuit workout will isolate a muscle group and make it bigger and/or stronger. These machines are not necessarily going to improve function because the motion of the exercise does not actually replicate any real life activity ... or in this case, swimming movement.

    More importantly, Mr. Thornton failed to mention that there was a second group involved in that particular study. The second group involved in the study performed only two exercises: pull-ups and dips using the weight-assisted dip and pull-up machine. These exercises more closely replicate actions used in the swimming movement.

    Here are the findings: "However, the weight-assisted dip and pull-up swimmers fared slightly better, compared to the traditional strength trainers. For one thing, they improved their 22.9 metre front crawl sprint time by .3 seconds, from 11.2 to 10.9 seconds, while the traditional people failed to improve."


    __________________________________________________



    Joe Nagi (Masters swimmer of English Channel success) once asked me if he should lift weights. He knew the answer when I asked him a few questions:

    "Can an old man (or woman) be in as good of shape as a young man?"

    "Yes," he said.

    "Can an old man have as good of technique?" "Yes," he said.

    "So what is the difference between an old man and a young man?"

    "Strength," he said.
    __________________________________________________

    Why not answer the question about weight training once and for all. Leslie trains with weights throughout the year. Jim only swims At the 2010 LCM Nationals, they go head to head in the 50M fly. Who knows, maybe Dr. Costill can add the results to his study.
    __________________________________________________

    People should do Medline or Pubmed (the free version) searches when they have questions about exercise or health. They will find there is scientific evidence that weight training improves swimming speed. In 2007, Girold and friends showed a positive effect of 12 weeks of weight training, swimming and running on swimming speed compared to controls who biked (to keep the dry land training time equal), swam and ran.

    In 1993, Tanaka, Costill and friends showed no positive effect on swimming speed compared to controls, but only had the swimmers lift for eight weeks. The evidence I've seen is mixed but implies that weight training needs to be done for longer than eight weeks if it is going to have a transferable effect. Anybody can find full citations and summaries of the articles referred to by going to ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ pubmed/ and searching on the author names I provide and the word "swimming."

    __________________________________________________


    Tiger vs. Val vs. Jim

    I was surprised to see that Tiger Woods was named TIME magazine's Athlete of the Decade. Wouldn't it be nice if one of our outstanding Masters swimmers was so named. I would choose Laura Val. She has set U.S. and world records for the last decade. Best of all she is a nice person, and is true to herself and family.

    Even better, what about making Jim Thornton Athlete of the Decade? He is not the nicest person in the world but a demonstrably less dedicated philander than Tiger, and he can beat Laura Val every once in a blue moon in certain events. Plus, like Tiger, he has the advantage of being male!


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  7. NCAA suit lessons

    by , March 29th, 2010 at 12:30 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Prelimary Note: I have decided to establish the Thornton Cup for accuracy in modeling post-cheating suit time changes. It is open to any and all swimmers or non-swimming math aficionados. For more on this exhilarating new competition, please see the thread: [ame="http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=16432"]http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=16432[/ame]




    I took most of the free style events and compared the top 3 performances in men this year (sans high tech racing suits) with last year (when suits were still legal.)

    I have not started more than a cursory inspection, but what strikes me is that the longer the race, the more the lack of speed suits hurt performance. There was only one case where someone who got a second place this year beat the person who got second place last year. All other top 3 performances were slower this year than last within their matched pairs.


    Here's the data. To make it easier to review, I am using red as a kind of skin tone of the heavily exercised swimmer, and since much of this ruddy skin tone is, indeed, revealed by jammers and skimpier suits, when you see red, think this year.


    Blue is the color of many of the high tech suits, certainly not all, but enough so that for heuristic purposes when you see numbers in blue, it means the race was done last year in a speed suit.


    Think of this as the rough data upon which new formulae can be calculated..


    50 2010/
    50 2009


    1 Schneider, Josh CINC 18.93P
    1 Adrian, Nathan California 18.71


    2 Adrian, Nathan CAL 19.02

    2 Feigen, James Texas 18.84


    3 Brown, Adam AUB 19.03
    3 Targett, Matt Auburn 18.87

    _______________________________________

    100 2010/
    100 2009


    1 Adrian, Nathan CAL 41.50

    1 Adrian, Nathan California 41.08


    2 Feigen, Jimmy TEX 41.91
    2 Feigen, James Texas
    41.3

    3 Louw, Gideon AUB 42.06

    3 Targett, Matt Auburn 41.64
    _______________________________________

    200 2010/
    200 2009

    1 Dwyer, Conor FLOR 1:32.31

    1 Fraser, Shaune Florida 1:31.70


    2 Fraser, Shaune FLOR 1:32.53

    2 Walters, Dave Texas 1:32.59


    3 Walters, Dave TEX 1:33.04
    3 Berens, Ricky Texas 1:32.74

    _______________________________________

    400 relay 2010/
    400 relay 2009

    1 California 'A' 2:48.78

    1 Auburn 2:46.67


    2 Texas 'A' 2:49.90

    2 Texas 2:47.02


    3 Stanford 'A' 2:51.27

    3 California 2:47.61


    _______________________________________


    500 2010/
    500 2009

    1 Dwyer, Conor FLOR 4:13.64P
    1 Basson, Jean Arizona 4:08.92


    2 Basson, Jean ARIZ 4:13.65P

    2 Klueh, Michael Texas 4:09.32


    3 Lefert, Clement USC 4:13.77
    3 McLean, Matt Virginia 4:10.41

    _______________________________________

    800 relay 2010/
    800 relay 2009

    1 TEX 6:12.77

    1 Texas 6:10.16


    2 FLOR 6:14.72

    2 Arizona 6:11.82


    3 ARIZ 6:18.33

    3 Stanford 6:16.71

    _______________________________________
    1650 2010/
    1650 2009

    1 La Tourette, Ch STAN
    14:42.87
    1 Prinsloo, Troy Georgia 14:30.91


    2 Grodzki, Martin UGA
    14:48.15
    2 La Tourette, Chad Stanford 14:33.55

    3 Wilcox, Jackson TEX
    14:49.47
    3 Spansail, Scott Washington 14:34.95

    Updated March 29th, 2010 at 12:11 PM by jim thornton (Adding notice of the Thornton Cup math challenge)

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  8. Swim Scandal True, Reports Sewickley Tattler

    by , April 1st, 2010 at 05:19 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    The Sewickley Tattler is a gossip tabloid serving the Quaker Valley School District communities of Sewickley, Sewickley Heights, Edgeworth, Glen Osborne, Aleppo, Leetsdale, and Leet Township.

    The Tattler has garnered a national reputation for sensationalized scoops, almost exclusively involving the mating, ovulatory, seed-spreading, shagging, lactation, pheromone-emitting, cosmetic surgical enhancing, STD-infecting, sperm count fluctuating, and assorted other reproduction-relating physiology and behaviors of the local citizenry, from Republican burghers, to ragamuffin high schoolers, to the odd Sewickley Sea Dragon masters swimmer who has mistaken B lane for a salmon spawning stream.

    On the exquisitely rare occasions when celebrities do visit our community, the librarians of the Village, in particular, are thrilled, because this temporarily pries them and their wanton slatternery off the cover.

    These celebrity visitors, on the other hand, really need to keep a close eye on their ovaries, testes, fallopian tubes, epidydimises and what have you, because they are virtually guaranteed of a first-class journalistic rogering by our local Fourth Estate.

    Thanks to the combination of rapacity and hair-trigger reporting, The Tattler has earned many kudos in its industry for being the first to break news stories, often weeks if not years before the competition does, if ever. Where The Tattler has not fared so well is in terms of accuracy in their reporting.

    Because of this, I am only going to paste in below this week’s cover. Do not worry! I am not concealing anything about what we here in the Heights have already shrugged off as Le Scandal Livingston (even as those unsophisticated bumpkins down in the flats continue to follow the scandal like the rutting soap opera fans they are.)

    The entirety of The Tattler's inside pages are devoted—as is the case with every issue--to lengthy retractions of previous cover stories that proved libelous, untrue, and hurtful.


    Certainly, I do not condone this sort of journalism myself. I do, however, subscribe to it.

    For those of you who know Leslie Livingston as an unimpeachable beacon of propriety in our swimming community, who know she is truly one of the most virtuous and hard-working swimmers, albeit one who used fins promiscuously (but that’s neither here nor there), I can only say: I agree!

    In my heart of hearts, I honestly doubt if any of the garbage in this week’s edition of The Tattler has more than a 15 percent shred of truth to it, if that. So please, if you do look at the cover—SEE COVER DIRECTLY BELOW!!!!—I only ask that you do your best to forget it immediately.

    It probably isn’t true. Really. It probably isn’t.





    Final note: I happened to see the Pregnancy Beat Reporter for the Sewickley Tattler slinking about this afternoon, and I grabbed him by his pencil neck and ask him what inspired his cover story. The pathetic little man reached into his tattered suit coat and handed me the following. I think he fancies himself a poet!

    Don’t they all, these shabby little men! Don’t they all!


    After last night’s swimming
    Practice did one fast mother
    Relax in languor and steep herself
    In clouds of Eucalyptus steam. Our lovely
    Leslie, flipper-footed

    Fortress! So fleet and fleeting her times and time here!
    Oh, how we and future generations beg for more of her!
    Oh, how we crave the Leslies still to come! A myriad of them--
    Leslie Jr.s, and juniors of those Jr.s! From such dreams of spawn is
    Spawned our dreams: that an impregnable fortress be impregnable yet.

    Updated April 6th, 2010 at 12:00 AM by jim thornton (to patronize the readers)

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  9. Zombie Grog: Radical Cure

    by , April 5th, 2010 at 05:14 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Easter Sunday, I woke up at 10 a.m., having gone to sleep the previous midnight. I fought my way out of the bag of profound grogginess that separates my sort of nights from my sort of days, grabbed a 100 mg Provigil tablet http://www.provigil.com/ , carefully negotiated the downstairs steps, set to brew my typical 8 cups of coffee (which actually translates into 3 nice sized mugs), fed the dogs, fed myself, read the paper, and waited for the caffeine-and-Provigil one-two kick to stir me to the 78 percent full consciousness which has become for me as close as I ever come these days to full consciousness.

    By 11 a.m., the kick showed no signs of arrival. I had been awake for exactly one hour. I made my way to the couch. I lay down. I fell back to sleep. I woke up at 1:30 p.m., so stuporously groggy I was not sure if I was a sentient beast at all.

    By 2:30, I was at my dear sister's house for an Easter feast of lamb and ham.

    By 5:00, I was not only profoundly groggy again but as fat as I have been in years. I felt like one of those humongous sluggish flies that somehow resurrect themselves each spring in the space between your regular window and the storm window.

    When one of these fatted springtime flies escapes inside your house, they buzz around in a sluggish, fat, droning, salute to all that is disgusting in the world today.

    You can swat them easily, but you have learned not to, because they are just flying, meandering daubs of revolting goo that you want absolutely no trace of on your livingroom walls, or kitchen table, or baby's crib, or wherever else such creatures choose to take a momentary rest where the swatting process becomes child's play.

    This is what I felt like, a revolting daub of goo that no one dares to swat and put out of our respective miseries, for fear of the permanent stain such mercy killing would leave.

    The major difference between me and such a fly is that the latter has enough energy to fly, at least now and then.

    I have only barely enough energy to alight on the baby's pristine crib, perhaps upon its little satin pillow, daring the angry parents to swat me while I take my next in an endless series of disgusting naps!

    Last night, I did what human flies of my sort often do when plagued by a symptom as intractable and life-ruining as my persistent grogginess: I Googled it.

    I shall not bore you with all the info I found on E.D.S., or excessive daytime sleepiness, but here is a brief excerpt of some of the stuff that seems to characterize my problem:

    Excessive Daytime Sleepiness. As with the sleepiness of other sleep disorders, the EDS of narcolepsy presents with an increased propensity to fall asleep, nod or doze easily in relaxed or sedentary situations, or a need to exert extra effort to avoid sleeping in these situations. Additionally, irresistible or overwhelming urges to sleep commonly occur from time to time during wakeful periods in the untreated patient with narcolepsy. These so-called "sleep attacks" are not instantaneous lapses into sleep, as is often thought by the general public, but represent the episodes of profound sleepiness experienced by those with marked sleep deprivation or other severe sleep disorders. Epworth Sleepiness Scale scores of ≥15 are common in untreated patients.[5,6] In addition to frank sleepiness, the excessive daytime sleepiness of narcolepsy, as in other sleep disorders, can cause related symptoms including poor memory, reduced concentration or attention, and irritability.

    and

    Sleep Paralysis. Sleep paralysis is the inability to move, lasting from a few seconds to minutes, during the transition from sleep to wakefulness or from wakefulness to sleep. Episodes of sleep paralysis may alarm patients, particularly those who experience the sensation of being unable to breathe. Although accessory respiratory muscles may not be active during these episodes, diaphragmatic activity continues and air exchange remains adequate.

    Readers of my vlog over the years will recall that I am no stranger to excessive daytime sleepiness, that I have posted my depressing Epworth Scores in the past, and have tried various measures to cure myself of the affliction.

    I am seriously thinking this time of going to a doctor, getting a sleep study done in some basement chamber someplace, then trying to figure out the intersection of the curves of my remaining lifespan and the most unsavory symptoms of progressive meth addiction. I am thinking that if I start off with a very, very low dose of meth, and be extremely cautious in how much I escalate it, it will be hard for anyone but a forensic pathologist to tell if my before and after pictures were caused by meth or just the natural rotting process of an old man.




    Okay. So anyhoo, last night I decided I can no longer live this way.

    Sleep walking through my sort of life has been nice at times, but for the most part, it's kind of a drag.

    I decided to try the following strategy:


    1. stop taking anything that can possibly make me sleepy. Ambien (actually, generic zolpidem, same difference) and Nyquil are two substances whose entire raison d'etre is the inducement of somnolence. I quit both last night cold turkey. The result: I slept fitfully from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m., then fell back asleep till 9 a.m.
    2. be a harsh taskmaster when it comes to surrendering to grogginess. if the urge to nod off or nap becomes overwhelming, i will slap myself as hard as I can until the urge passes. if the urge doesn't pass, I will continue the slapping. it is very difficult to fall asleep mid-vicious self-slap. try it.
    3. take provigil religiously and drink coffee the way college girls drink Evian (Naive spelled backwards.) So far today, I have had my standard 8 cups this morning, and another 5 just a few minutes ago. I am sleepy, but the combination of Provigal, 13 cups of coffee, and facial slaps has thus far kept me awake.
    4. if i am on the verge of cataplexy, force myself on a death march. Again, difficult to fall asleep when you are walking. Perhaps walk along boulevards where speeding cars and 18-wheelers piloted by truck drivers no doubt as sleepy as I am might add to the stimulation.
    5. Possibly pull an all nighter tonight. I think my body is used to being sleep-coddled. If I can stay up for, say, 48 hours straight, then slowly reintroduce sleep on a more reasonable basis, perhaps I can teach my babyish body it does not need to be wrapped up in its sleep nut quite so much of each day.
    6. generally speaking, sum up all of the above with the following, easier-to-remember-when-passing-out-from-grogginess motto: Be hard on your weak self. Unbelievably hard. Ruthlessly punish all natural desire to sleep.
    7. It is conceivable there is some occult reason for my sleepiness that might be better remedied by seeing a doctor who knows what he or she is doing. Leave open the option to consult with one of these if the self-punishment route proves--after a reasonable trial of several years--less than effective.
    8. Sleep apnea is one common, perhaps even the most common, cause of male E.D.S. I have thought about performing a tracheotomy on myself to see if bypassing the potential nocturnal collapse of my soft palate and layrngeal membranes might restores a certain vigor to my zombie/half-dead fly existence. Perhaps it would be best to have a doctor do this, too.
    9. I shall keep you posted. Oh, how I crave to nod off right now.
    10. Slap! Slap-slap! Slap-slap-slappity-slappity-slap-SLAP!




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  10. I am Jim's Broken Rib

    by , April 9th, 2010 at 02:36 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Our dear Bobinator has recently broken her ribs and has been sidelined temporarily from the pool, which is understandably driving her crazy.

    I have also been in this painful situation--three separate times, in fact, over the past 15 years. I wrote an article about rib problems during which I invited a friend-orthopedic surgeon out for dinner at a barbecue rib place so that he could show me on the slathered slab what I had done to my own fatty baby backs.

    This is that article.

    I hope, Bobinator, it helps you--and I hope it helps anybody else out there who currently has, or may eventually get, a cracked set of your own.



    “The convex surface represents the outside of the ribs,” explains my orthopedic surgeon, Gary Smith, MD. Wielding stainless steel cutlery with the skillfulness of an 18-year veteran sports medicine cutter, Gary dissects the underlying tissues including the exterior and interior intercostal muscles and a sheathe of fascia. He smears off some red matter to enhance the view, then bends forward and eats a bite of “baby back” soft tissue.

    “What’s this?” asks my wife, Debbie. She’s located an unusual anatomical feature in her own “St. Louis-style” slab--a floppy extension that dangles from the tip of one floating rib like a beige Gummi worm.


    “That must be the cartilaginous extension you mentioned, eh?” I volunteer, ever the eager suck-up student.


    “The lower several ribs aren’t attached to the breast plate,” he replies professorially. “The bone continues as cartilage that narrows down and eventually attaches to ligaments in the abdominal wall.”


    Despite the pain I am feeling from my own two currently fractured lower ribs, I cannot keep myself from “hurts so good” engorgement. The intersection of gluttony and gee-whiz science is proving irresistible to this nerdish gourmand.

    Gary’s wife, Karen, takes a swig of pilsner and says, “These ribs really put meat on your bones.”

    I acknowledge her excellent layman’s point, then ask Gary if regularly eating ribs might, in some small way, help me avoid future trauma to my own ribs. I stick a micro cassette in his face to record his reply.


    “Wait till I wipe this barbecue sauce off my face,” he says. Then: “Outside the protective layer of muscle is a cushioning layer of fat.”



    Four weeks ago, I could have used great gobs of such cushioning not to mention a Kevlar flack jacket. My accident occurred not as a result of bronco busting, ski jumping, or drag racing gone awry, but rather during the somewhat less publicized sport of water volleyball. With my reflexes slightly addled by hops and haze, I jumped high into the air for a spike. Alas, my body followed through the overhead motion, beaching me with considerable violence upon a length of barely-visible, underwater pipe supporting the net.


    If you’ve ever done something similar to yourself, you’ve probably experienced a comparably instantaneous epiphany: that sickening acknowledgment that you’ve really bollixed yourself up this time. For the next three weeks, I subjected my wounded ribs to a constant regimen of ice and ibuprofen. Breathing deeply was nearly impossible; rolling over in bed an agony. Sick of my whining, my swimming team friends all urged me to see a doctor--easy advice for the well-insured. Still, by breathing on the opposite side and modifying my free style slightly into a kind of aquatic limp, I was able to continue swimming practice.


    After a couple weeks, the pain was, if anything, getting worse. Even more disturbing was the fact that I could now feel something moving around, punctuated with occasional gristle grindings and pinprick stabbing pains that made one think of bone splinters. Perhaps it’s only hypochondria talking here, but I’ve never liked novel bodily sensations involving internal organs. I made an appointment. It was now three weeks after the misadventure.


    ________________________________


    “What about jousting?” I ask.

    “Jousting would be out.”


    ________________________________

    The first thing Gary did in examining me was gently squeeze my rib cage front and back, then side to side--both of which, the latter especially, provoked more than a little wincing.

    “Since your ribs are all connected,” he said, explaining his diagnostic technique, “if you compress the chest like this, it usually causes a fracture to hurt. It might not cause a muscle bruise alone to hurt.”


    Other telltale signs of a fracture include tenderness on the surface of the affected bone or bones; swelling at the fracture site; and a grating feeling “like something is moving around in there.” If I had come to see him within a few days of the episode, he says, he would have confirmed the diagnosis with an X-ray, but at this point three weeks after the fact, this would be a waste of money.


    He tells me the odds are extremely high I broke two ribs on the lower left side.

    I’m feeling like a miserly imbecile for not consulting him sooner, but he quickly relieves my self-recrimination by telling me he’d have recommended the same treatment that I did on my own.

    “Broken ribs,” he says, “can hurt a lot for several weeks, but then they just heal by themselves without any special treatment. They’re usually fine within six to eight weeks. Unlike a fracture in, say, your hand, it doesn’t matter if the bone lines up perfectly straight. With ribs, they’ll still function fine even if they heal a little crookedly.”


    Though a relatively common form of sports injury, Gary says he rarely sees rib patients in his practice--probably because many athletes have gotten the “there’s nothing you can do but wait it out” message. Rib cracks are, in other words, one of the few injuries where doctor avoidance is usually a safe bet.


    There are, however, important exceptions. If your rib has been so badly broken that the ends are displaced, a not uncommon consequence of car wrecks and other high speed collisions, the splintered bone tips can puncture the pleura lining the chest wall and lungs, breaking the vacuum seal that keeps your lungs inflated. This condition, called pneumothorax, requires surgical insertion of a chest tube to reestablish the surrounding vacuum so the lung can become re-inflated. Best bet: if you can’t breathe, see a doctor.


    An even more common threat occurs in patients who are suffering so much pain that they avoid coughing and breathing deeply--which significantly ups the risk of developing pneumonia. In yesteryear, broken ribs were often bound tightly with tape. “This made the person feel better,” Gary tells me, “but it further compromised breathing, so that’s fallen by the wayside.” For most people, over-the-counter anti-inflammatories are sufficient for pain management, but in severe cases, patients sometimes require narcotics like Percocet or Vicodin to breathe normally.


    In terms of preventing future rib injuries, Gary recommends stressing the bones via exercise and making sure to eat a diet that provides plenty of calcium to keep the bone tissue well-mineralized. Studies of osteoporosis patients, for instance, have shown they are particularly prone to cracking ribs. You can also provide yourself with some trauma insulation by beefing up the abdominal and chest muscles--a fact that helps professional boxers cope with body blows.

    Not that you should necessarily overdo it immediately following an injury. I ask Gary if it was a mistake for me to continue swimming 3,000 yard practices the day after I hurt myself.

    “The barometer is your pain,” he says. “It’s probably okay to keep up your conditioning in some way that doesn’t cause too much pain. You may have delayed your healing a little by overdoing it, but it’s not going to affect the ultimate outcome. And at this point, it’s fine for you to keep swimming.”


    Gary does, however, draw the line at any sports with a high risk of impact--football, rugby, mountain biking, and the like.

    “What about jousting?” I ask.


    “Jousting would be out.”



    Back at the rib joint a week later, I have a sudden medical insight.


    “Do you guys still use mustard plasters to treat pain or muscle spasms?” I ask Gary.


    He chuckles. “People today sometimes use lineaments and sports crèmes,” he says. “You don’t hear much about mustard plasters anymore, but I suppose there may have been some pharmacologic reason why they worked.” Endorphin release and whatnot.


    Glancing down at the remnants of my meal, I say, “So can you see any plausible scientific reason for slathering very spicy barbecue sauce on my own ribs? I mean, could that help?”


    The good doctor furrows his brow, nods, then replies, “I guess it would depend on how much your wife likes barbecue sauce.”
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  11. A Decade of Jim's Amish Mudhole Freestyle Results

    by , April 13th, 2010 at 06:15 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Younger middle-aged swimmers interested in seeing a possible glimpse of their swimming performance trajectories from the late 40s to late 50s might be able to glean some clues from my own changes over the years.

    I am by no means a top echelon swimmer, but I am not completely mediocre either, having placed in the Top 10 around 30 times or so in the last decade, and even making the FINA World's Masters Tabulations on several flukish occasions.

    I
    officially started swimming masters in 1984, at the age of 32, when I saw a sign for a team forming at the then brand-new St. Paul (MN) Skyway YMCA.

    I think we had maybe one or two meets in the next 11 years; competition was definitely not a high priority for me at that stage of life.

    My wife, two Minnesota-born youngsters, and I moved back to my boyhood stomping grounds of Sewickley, PA in 1995. The Sewickley YMCA Sea Dragons, which I had swum with as a youth, now boasted a masters team, and I joined this and eventually took over as coach.

    Again, I did not compete much until some of my fellow swimmers goaded me into going to some of the local AMYMSA meets (for Allegheny Mountain YMCA Masters Swimming Association.)

    Resuming meets at the now long-in-the-tooth age of 48 was a bit nerve wracking, but I slowly warmed up to it.

    Our league holds meets every two-three weeks from September through April. One of the many capital chaps involved in the AMYMSA administration has computerized all the Top 10 times going back to the league's inception in the early 1980s (if not before.)

    This fellow, Steve Love, is a nuclear engineer and very likable sort. He recently made it even easier for us to find our own times in various events for every one of the past ten seasons.

    For my fellow data-mining enthusiasts, a look at my own times here may be somewhat illuminating.

    A few preliminary notes:


    • These do not necessarily reflect each season's best performance by me since I often swam faster in USMS sponsored meets in great pools. Most of these swims below were done in what I affectionately refer to as Amish mudhole facilities because they are sprinkled around the hinterlands of Western PA farm land, are never more than 6 lanes and sometimes as few as 4 or 5, have a tendency to be on the hot side, and often have lane lines that are fully submerged at the point of wall attachment.



    • The past decade also reflects times done in the tech suit era, beginning with the Aquablade I got when I was 48 and ending this year with a somewhat distended B70 I just used at Clarion.



    • What this data does have going for it is a reasonable sense of year-to-year consistency. A few of the venues have changed, and the tech suits arguably improved a bit, but for the most part I was swimming these same races in the same set of Amish mudholes.



    • The major variables have been my own aging process (from 48 to 57) and fluctuations in how much training I was able to get in each year.



    • My major conclusions from looking at my apples-to-apples times over the past decade are that A) raw speed does seem to have diminished (ignore the 25s since these are hand-timed and dependent on the reflexes of your hand timer!) and B) there is some correlation between how many weekly miles you average in the pool and how fast you swim your events, though the shorter events appear to be more forgiving of slacking.



    • I also hope you will note that I am presenting my data not so much in the spirit of self aggrandizement as a science project with me as a Human Test Subject, i.e., a reasonably ordinary Swimmer Everyman, if you will--who has enjoyed training and competing with some consistency over the past decade and hope this might inspire my younger comrades to do so, as well.


    Well, enough preamble for now. Here is the data, and I truly and earnestly solicit any observations my readers might have regarding their interpretation of same.

    __________________________________________________

    JIM THORNTON 57 Average Miles Swum Per Week: 8.21 so far

    25Free SEWY 12/09 SEWY 11.23

    50Free SEWY 04/10 CLAR 24.50

    100Free SEWY 04/10 CLAR 53.14


    200Free SEWY 04/10 CLAR 1:58.59

    500Free SEWY 04/10 CLAR 5:24.12

    1000Free SEWY 04/10 CLAR 11:32.38

    1650Free SEWY 03/08 MAIL 19:34.18

    __________________________________________________

    JIM THORNTON 56 Average Miles Swum Per Week: 7.82

    25Free SEWY 09/08 BARL 10.78

    50Free SEWY 02/09 FRNK 24.63

    100Free SEWY 04/09 CLAR 53.39

    200Free SEWY 04/09 CLAR 1:59.28

    500Free SEWY 04/09 CLAR 5:28.42

    1000Free SEWY 04/09 CLAR 11:50.12

    1650Free SEWY 03/08 MAIL 19:54.24
    __________________________________________________

    JIM THORNTON 55 Average Miles Swum Per Week: 7.16

    25Free SEWY 12/07 BARL 11.37

    50Free SEWY 04/08 CLAR 24.78

    100Free SEWY 04/08 CLAR 52.97


    200Free SEWY 04/08 CLAR 1:58.03

    500Free SEWY 04/08 CLAR 5:24.57

    1000Free SEWY 04/08 CLAR 11:31.24

    1650Free SEWY 03/08 MAIL 19:47.91

    __________________________________________________

    JIM THORNTON 54 Average Miles Swum Per Week: 7.18

    The Lost year...JIM THORNTON 54, did not swim AMYMSA
    (for reasons to complicated to get into here)

    __________________________________________________

    JIM THORNTON 53 Average Miles Swum Per Week: 5.24

    25Free SEWY 10/05 GROV 11.56

    50Free SEWY 04/06 CLAR 25.04

    100Free SEWY 04/06 CLAR 53.97

    200Free SEWY 04/06 CLAR 1:57.07


    500Free SEWY 04/06 CLAR 5:25.87

    1000Free SEWY 04/06 CLAR 11:32.00

    1650 free did not swim

    __________________________________________________

    JIM THORNTON 52 Average Miles Swum Per Week: 7.00

    25Free SEWY 09/04 SEWY 10.84

    50Free SEWY 04/05 CLAR 24.92

    100Free SEWY 04/05 CLAR 54.09

    200Free SEWY 09/04 SEWY 1:58.33


    500Free SEWY 04/05 CLAR 5:24.30

    1000Free SEWY 04/05 CLAR 11:32.91

    1650Free SEWY 03/05 MAIL 20:41.65


    __________________________________________________

    JIM THORNTON 51 Average Miles Swum Per Week: 7.50

    50Free SEWY 11/03 ERIE 24.34

    100Free SEWY 01/04 AVY 52.87


    200Free SEWY 04/04 CLAR 1:57.32

    500Free SEWY 04/04 CLAR 5:20.77

    1000Free SEWY 04/04 CLAR 11:22.29

    1650Free SEWY 03/05 MAIL 18:59.22

    __________________________________________________

    JIM THORNTON 50 Average Miles Swum Per Week: 7.92

    25Free SEWY 01/03 MEAD 11.03

    50Free SEWY 10/02 BUTL 24.28

    100Free SEWY 04/03 CLAR 53.02


    200Free SEWY 01/03 MEAD 1:56.07


    500Free SEWY 04/03 CLAR 5:20.35

    1000Free SEWY 04/03 CLAR 11:15.86

    1650Free SEWY 03/03 MAIL 18:53.69

    __________________________________________________

    JIM THORNTON 49 Average Miles Swum Per Week: 7.21

    25Free SEWY 10/01 CUMB 11.01

    50Free SEWY 04/02 CLAR 24.25

    100Free SEWY 01/02 AVY 52.50


    200Free SEWY 12/01 GROV 1:57.88

    500Free SEWY 01/02 MDVL 5:26.07

    1000Free SEWY 04/02 CLAR 11:33.85

    1650Free SEWY 03/02 MAIL 19:27.75

    __________________________________________________

    JIM THORNTON 48 Average Miles Swum Per Week: 5.08

    25Free SEWY 01-01 MEAD 11.28

    50Free SEWY 02-01 CMU 23.84

    100Free SEWY 02-01 CMU 52.09


    200Free SEWY 04-01 CLAR 1:59.29

    500Free SEWY 02-01 CMU 5:44.15

    1650Free SEWY 02-01 MAIL 20:34.05


    __________________________________________________

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  12. Tampa bay recap

    Tampa Bay Marathon Swim Recap

    The day was perfect… sunny with periods of overcast; a welcome relief from the otherwise “tanning index” of >10. Water temperature; between 68 and 72 degrees, though I was hoping forecasts from earlier in the week would prove correct and the water would be closer to the mid 60’s.

    I slept well Friday night but woke up rather early for the 7AM start… around 3AM. I tried to get myself sorted out without waking Clare from her slumber, as I would need her to be awake enough to handle my (what turned out to be) 32 feedings.

    The Feed Program
    With the guidance of Steve Munatones, I constructed a fabulous telescoping feed stick with two (one black and one white) double swiveling cup holders. I searched far and wide to find some wide mouth stainless steel, flip top containers that would hold about 12 oz each and fit nicely into said b&w cup holders… but to no avail. I had to settle for Rubbermaid plastic substitutes. Though these containers have slightly raised graduations depicting volume, I marked them off with blue electrical tape at 4 oz and white electrical tape at 9 oz. Each container holds 20 oz so having them less than half-full keeps the weight at the bottom and reduces the chance of having them tip out. I am embarrassed to say that I left my glorious feed stick in the back of my Yaris at JFK International Airport and so Clare had to resort to the old string and caribiner standby to get the feeds to yours truly. For each feed (40 minutes from the starting bell and then every 20 minutes) Clare would toss me 2 bottles tethered together… one containing my nutritional concoction and the other containing good old H2O so that I could pick and choose whichever combination my body required at that moment.

    Race Day Nutrition
    While back in NY, I filled all my bottles with the various powdered mixes that the days efforts would require. They included:
    Pre-Race – 3 scoops of Hammer Nutrition Sustained Energy, 1 scoop of 1st Endurance Pre-Race, 4 1st Endurance Optigen Capsules, 3 1st Endurance Multi-Vitimin Tissue Rejuvenator capsules. This was mixed with 16 oz of water and consumed 2.5 hours before starting time. I drank another 12 oz of water 30 minutes to the start.

    Swim Mix and Schedule
    I did a long (30,000yds) pool swim in February, in part to experiment with caloric intake during a sustained effort. The results were mixed, but I did learn that having the option between high calorie and just plain water for each feed would give me the opportunity to fine tune things. I am happy to say that I successfully employed this during my TB swim:

    My feed consisted of about 285 calories/hour… this was achieved with 3 scoops of 1st Endurance lemon-lime EFS in 27 oz water broken into 20 minute servings of 1 scoop in 9oz water. At each feed, Clare would toss me two bottles; one containing “the mix” (marked with blue electrical tape) and the other containing water. For most of my feeds, I drank the mix only, but when elimination seemed to take more effort, I took some water as well. Two feeds (around 7 and 8 hours) I took water only.
    At hours 4, 6, and 8, I also took 1 Hammer Tissue Rejuvenator (but no NSAIDS). Three feeds were also supplemented with special treats… 2x rice pudding; mashed up and liquid to render it drinkable and 1x cinnamon brown sugar oatmeal given the same treatment. I also had 3 feeds where “the mix” was replaced by gels… 2x Hammer Gel Huckelberry and 1x 1st Endurance EFS vanilla.

    Post Swim
    2 scoops of 1st Endurance Optigen in 12 oz…. the most delicious thing I ever tasted in my whole life and 4 Hammer Tissue Rejuvenator capsules…
    and a Sierra Nevada draught Pale Ale.

    Equipment
    2 generous full-body applications of SPF 30 Banana Boat Sport.
    A slathering of my very own special “channel grease” mix (consisting of 3oz anhydrous lanolin, 3oz vasaline, and 1.5oz zinc oxide),
    liberally applied to any and all areas that might be subject to chaffing from the very abrasive nature of salt water including… groin, butt crack, arm pits, neck, shoulders and jaw line… every single hotel towel employed to remove the excess from my hands.
    Black Finis polyester brief… size 32.
    Blue 70 Vision goggles with amber lenses…. These fit perfectly and didn’t require a single adjustment the entire 10hr 49mn swim, though I must confess; I did trim my eyelashes to keep them from brushing against the lenses.
    Speedo earplugs.
    White silicon Total Immersion swim cap.
    ……. Nothing to add….. all performed well; zero wardrobe malfunctions.

    Oh yeah…. THE SWIM!
    I am not sure why this swim isn’t more enthusiastically attended.
    -It is well organized. Ron Collins and company put on a serious event in a casual environment. All this year’s solo male entrants have EC bookings for the 2010 season and consider TB to be a good measure of training (yes… I know there are many differences between TB and the EC)
    -The male and female course records are held by world class swimmers, Chris Derks and Penny Palfrey. I would think that this would attract lots of big guns to see how they might measure up.
    -Entry is easy… no lottery, no need to book years in advance.
    -Relays can a fun way to break into marathon swimming; not sure if you want to swim the whole 24 miles? Grab a relay partner or 2 and swim as much as you want. Last year I swam +/- 18 of the 24 miles (my relay partner, Patty was generous enough to grant me the lion’s share).
    -There are worse places to be than St. Pete in April. Most of the watering holes up north just aren’t warm enough to get more than a quick dip in… so get your “brine fix” here!

    I started the swim at a pace that I thought I could sustain for 10 hours… stroke rate in the mid 60’s, and by my third feed, the field was spreading out. I didn’t express any kind of “race plan” to Clare, and our communication was limited regarding the other swimmers. At about 5 hours, I looked forward, didn’t see any boats, inquired: where is everybody?.... you’re out in front. (cool) I never saw another boat until near the second bridge… I asked: Whose boat is that? Clare replied, “don’t worry about it, its a relay team”. The wind picked up and there was a pretty good chop now so I settled into a slower stroke rate of 60SPM… no reason to get sloppy now with just a couple of miles to go. As I walked up to the beach I was surprised to see Craig Lenning sitting there already… I wonder when he passed me? It would have been a welcome diversion to have someone to swim with after 7, 8, 9 hours alone out there. Perhaps we will have the opportunity during MIMS on June 12!

    10hrs 49 mins

    Updated April 19th, 2010 at 08:21 PM by chaos

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  13. Jim! The acclaimed new HBO series

    by , April 21st, 2010 at 10:12 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Tomorrow I leave for Colony Zones. I am hoping that when I return on Sunday night, or possibly Monday afternoon, that I will have excellent news awaiting me regarding a new acclaimed HBO miniseries based on my life.

    You may say I'm a dreamer....
    But I'm not the only one...


    -John Lennon


    Here is how this rapidly developing news began developing rapidly:

    Backpacker
    Magazine has been serializing little video clips from my time in the Wilderness last fall. In an effort to let my various acquaintances know about this, I sent out innumerable Facebook postings, and when these went largely ignored, decided to try a more direct approach, that is to say, a mass emailing.

    Here is what I wrote:

    ______________________________________________

    Dearest Munificent Swimming Friends of Jim,

    How I treasure each and every one of you!


    Great news!!! (Though I should say at the outset here you will not hurt my feelings if you delete this unread!)


    Part 2.
    of my Lost in the Wilderness video diary is ready for your viewing at the Backpacker magazine web site!

    In fact, you can also find
    The Trailer and Part 1.here at this web site also: http://www.backpacker.com/jim-thornt...inations/14087

    Part 3—the Finale
    --is going to be posted on April 26th. I can’t wait to see if I live or die!

    For those of you who like to read, I will also attach
    the .pdf of the actual story. Feel free, of course, to delete this unread if you have reached this point in today’s email and are having second thoughts and cold feet!

    {Note from Jim--if you want me to send you, too, a .pdf of the actual story, just send me your email address and I will!}

    My feelings are impervious to insult! You won’t hurt them by deleting any of this at any time!


    However, if you can leave a nice comment on the
    Backpacker web site, it might help secure my employment for future oddventures that – assuming they don’t kill, maim, or completely dement me – you might find future amusement in living vicariously through my sufferings.

    I am, for instance, trying to talk them into sending me to Death Valley this summer to hike around and see just how thirst quenching mirages are...


    Again, videos here:

    http://www.backpacker.com/jim-thornt...inations/14087

    (Comments are moderated so won’t appear immediately.)


    PS If you want to be removed from any of the very infrequent mailings of mine in the future, just send me a note to this effect. If, however, you want to add some of your friends, you can send me a note to that effect as well.


    No wonder I treasure each of you so!


    Jim Thornton

    Jim's USMS Masters Swimming Vlog:

    http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?u=26

    _____________________________________________

    This mass emailing, alas, provoked a...less than mass response.

    However, quantity is not the only measure of a response. There is also quality to consider.

    And one of the few respondents that actually did write me back was the lovely
    swimming star, Cheryl Kupan. You can look up Cheryl's astonishing masters swimming record here: http://www.usms.org/comp/meets/indre...wage=&highage=

    As remarkable as her swimming has been, what is even more intriguing to me is her life among the New York Glitterati.


    This is what Cheryl recently posted as her "status" on Facebook:


    Cheryl Kupan is wondering if she can find date/friend for the Entourage premiere...


    Naturally, I thought she meant the kind of thing we little people mean when we say things like this on Facebook--i.e., can anyone out there in Coraopolis, Leetsdale, Edgeworth, Emsworth, etc. with cable, HBO, and, preferably, a High Definition TV, invite me over to watch Vince, Drama, E, and Turtle when they resume their mildly amusing lives of leisure and privilege?



    (from left to right: Hodding Carter, Rahm Emmanuel, Mike Ross, Michael Schmidt, Jim Thornton)


    But it turns out that Cheryl is not like the little people. She means the actual, live, Entourage premier somewhere out in Los Angeles.


    She told me that she works for Time Warner, which owns HBO, which makes Entourage. And furthermore, I managed to wheedle out of her that "the HBO chicks" love her.


    Could I somehow finagle a
    Munchhausen by proxy syndrome pathological love spin-off sort of arrangement for me?

    Could I?

    _________________________________________

    Okay, so, with the above background in mind, and the premise set up, here is our subsequent correspondence.


    Cheryl, I hope you don't mind. And I
    really hope that the HBO chicks that love you/by-extension-us don't mind.
    _________________________________________
    Jim's inaugural gambit: sent out mass emailing, see above.
    _________________________________________
    Cheryl's reply:

    In a message dated 4/21/2010 1:48:42 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, jamesthornton1@comcast.net writes:
    Part 3—the Finale--is going to be posted on April 26th. I can’t wait to see if I live or die!

    Wow! Real life Drama! I have lots of catching up to do. I'm the reading type, so I'll take if for the train ride/snooze home.

    I too will wait in anticipation for April 26th to see your fate. Is there a "Will Jim Live or Die" pool that I can put a wager in?

    {note from Jim--Cheryl picked out this pretty-in-pink font color expressly for me. At least I am pretty sure she did.}


    _________________________________________
    Jim's reply:

    Insider tip: Bet on him not making it.

    Send your wager to me, and if I don’t make it out of Idaho, I will pay you your winnings within 24 hours!

    PS Consider floating The Jim Thornton Story/Experience to your friends at HBO. This has mini series written all over it!
    _________________________________________

    Cheryl's reply:

    Let me read through it first -- HBO does do quirky.
    Is this more like Hung, or Curb, or redneck Sopranos?
    I can't wait for my train ride home to start reading all about your adventures....

    {note from Jim: she has abandoned the pretty-in-pink font color to a business-like black. My heart skips a beat}

    _________________________________________
    Jim's measured reply:

    It’s a little like Hung meets Survivor Man only I am neither hung nor a survivor but rather loser freelance writer forced to go on these oddventurous trips to keep from losing his house. A few of the other ones I’ve done over the years:

    · Lay down with dead cows in the Chihuahuan desert in hopes of coaxing vultures into landing on me

    · Jetskiied to Siberia where I was held at gun point by Kalashnikov-toting Soviets

    · Set my own personal land speed record on the Bonneville Salt Flats in a 69 Mustang with a Lincoln Continental engine tweaked to burn Nitrous

    · Blowgun monkey hunted in the Ecuadorian Amazon

    · Almost got electrocuted testing out a shark-repelling device while swimming through a feeding frenzy of sharks

    · Scissored through a half-pipe at Breckenridge, twice, on a “snow bike” after breaking my ribs on the thing 20 minutes earlier

    I also have done the same kind of thing with countless unnecessary medical procedures—from virtual colonoscopies to anti-impotence “trans-urethral micro-suppository pellets” (not actually impotent, so in order to simulate this, I had my wife sing Ethel Merman songs in bed).

    I will attach a few pictures!

    Desperation breeds desperate measures—as enthralled viewers of HBO’s new acclaimed seriesJIM! will surely attest to!

    Joking aside, I have so many of these first person experiential stories I’ve written over the decades that we could do easily do 5 years worth of episodes in visually spectacular locales. Throw in some (fictitious) love interests, like the cruelly beautiful publicist for HBO who keeps threatening to cut my show, and a Dickensian assortment of Smallweed-like rapacious creditors, and I think we have the next American Masterpiece on our hands!



    _________________________________________

    Cheryl's reply:

    You had me at Hung, then lost me at not hung.


    _________________________________________

    Jim's reply: {note--I am not proud of this, but Hollywood is a cruel town. You do what you must to secure yourself a place on the casting couch.}

    What I meant was that I am not hung. I’m HUNG!!!!
    But I was afraid this would scare the Japanese side of your family tree.

    ______________________________________

    Cheryl's reply:
    OK!!!!
    But I was afraid this would scare the Japanese side of your family tree. --good memory.
    _______________________________________

    All right. As of now, the ball, or perhaps balls, for I have floated quite a few concepts here, are in Cheryl's lovely court/cougar cave.

    Who knows what the high-powered beautiful media mavens of Manhattan are thinking?


    If I had to venture a guess, she's on the horn with her stiletto-heeled HBO chick mafia, telling them even now about this sad sack rube who has blundered onto a pot of gold with his sad sack life.


    They may even be debating ways of negotiating a low-ball rock-bottom option for my life story.


    Let me take the angst out of the equation for you, Cheryl.


    You are correct. I am no "sophisticate" with even the most rudimentary understanding of "moral obligation bonds backed by collateralized Burger King Limited Partnership swap derivative shares amortized against the yen."


    These kinds of money things baffle and daze me.


    My life story is my gift to the world.


    I will let it go in a heartbeat for an option in the very, very low seven figures.

    ____________________________________
    Cheryl's reply to
    JIM! ?

    Apparently, she is still thinking it over.

    But when I get back from Colony Zones, I am confident everybody's gonna get well!
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  14. 57 years, 7 months, lifetime best!

    by , April 26th, 2010 at 05:31 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I have spent much of my life as a late bloomer subscribing to a basic philosophy:

    What is mediocre in youth becomes steadily less so provided you can hang onto it.


    In my very mediocre life of swimming, my best high school time in the 200 freestyle was a 1:56.00 via hand timing. The only time I got to swim it in college was even worse--1:57 something.


    When I resumed competing in masters, I have a video from our little Y championships where I did, at age 45 or 46, a 2:08.

    I did not make it into the 1:55's till age 49, when I did a 1:55.11 at Y Nationals in Ft. Lauderdale.

    At 50, my best time was a 1:55.48.


    At 51, a 1:55.42


    At 52, a 1:56.41.


    At 53, a 1:57.07.


    At 54, a 1:57.09.


    At 55, a 1:58.03


    The momentum of the Grim Reaper at this point seemed clear and inexorable.


    But then, with the help and inspiration of my friend and swimming coach nonpareil, Bill White, I began once again to train a bit harder, hoping to redeem myself in the new age group....

    At 56, a 1:56.07...a new Zones record at last year's Colonies Zone meet, and a time I was sure would be the high water mark for me for the rest of my life.


    But then, plagued by mysterious groin lesions and isolated systolic hypertension and excessive daytime sleepiness and massive financial misgivings and the influx of impossibly fast Super Hero swimmers like Jack Groselle and Michael Mann into a once geriatric age group that could actually field a pretty competitve Jr. College swimming team of semi-centenarian-pluses...


    I decided to try to overcome my personal decrepitudes and recapture, perchance even build upon, my 20-something swimming mediocrity...


    And thus it was, on Sunday morning, April 26, at approximately 10:15 a.m., I readied myself for my best event. I was a bit tired out already from the previous two days.


    On Friday, I had already swum my personal age group best in the 1000, in the process setting the new Zones record!


    Event 1 Men 55-59 1000 Yard Freestyle
    ================================================== ================
    ZONE: Z 11:23.72 4/20/1997 Drury Gallagher
    NATL: ! 10:07.36 5/14/2006 JIM MCCONICA
    Name Age Team Seed Finals
    ================================================== ================
    1 Thornton, James 57 TEAM PITTSBURGH 11:44.00 11:22.39Z
    29.39 1:03.28 (33.89)
    1:37.64 (34.36) 2:11.32 (33.68)
    2:46.34 (35.02) 3:21.41 (35.07)
    3:56.55 (35.14) 4:30.46 (33.91)
    5:05.95 (35.49) 5:41.17 (35.22)
    6:15.69 (34.52) 6:49.54 (33.85)
    7:24.64 (35.10) 7:59.90 (35.26)
    8:35.16 (35.26) 9:09.60 (34.44)
    9:44.21 (34.61) 10:18.27 (34.06)
    10:51.76 (33.49) 11:22.39 (30.63)


    On Saturday, I had set my personal age group bests in the 100 and 500 as well:


    Event 6 Men 55-59 100 Yard Freestyle
    ================================================== ================
    ZONE: Z 52.86 4/25/2009 James Thornton, TPIT
    NATL: ! 48.37 4/30/2000 RICHARD ABRAHAMS
    Name Age Team Seed Finals
    ================================================== ================
    1 Trevisan, Paul 58 COLONIALS 1776 51.10 50.24Z
    24.25 50.24 (25.99)
    2 Thornton, James 57 TEAM PITTSBURGH 53.35 52.43Z
    25.39 52.43 (27.04)

    (I broke my own zones record here, but lost it to the remarkable god-like swimming god, Paul Trevisan, in the next heat)



    Event 18 Men 55-59 500 Yard Freestyle
    ================================================== ================
    ZONE: Z 5:24.84 4/25/2009 James Thornton, TPIT
    NATL: ! 4:57.82 5/20/2007 JIM MCCONICA
    Name Age Team Seed Finals
    ================================================== ================
    1 Thornton, James 57 TEAM PITTSBURGH 5:32.00 5:23.18Z
    28.94 1:01.25 (32.31)
    1:34.60 (33.35) 2:07.93 (33.33)
    2:41.22 (33.29) 3:14.34 (33.12)
    3:47.97 (33.63) 4:20.96 (32.99)
    4:53.64 (32.68) 5:23.18 (29.54)

    (I broke my Zones record and fortunately Paul does not swim anything longer than the 100. So this one stood.)

    I am not particularly fast, nor do I boast particularly good endurance. But somewhere in the intersection of "somewhat fast" and "somewhat good endurance" is the perfect distance for me: the 200.

    And so it was I woke Sunday morning with an semi-digested full platter of Mephis-style dry ribs still in my digestive tract and feeling a bit nervous and crickity as is my wont.

    I would like to give a big thanks to Rich "SwimStud" Bell, who suggested a strategy for swimming the 200 about 10 minutes before my heat: he said to build the final 75. Regular readers of this vlog know that I generally try to really stretch and stay smooth on the 3rd 50, then blast out the final 50 sprint. But Rich convinced me to start building earlier.


    I would also like to thank Leslie "The Fortress" Livingston for keeping our house in fine shape during my absence, and for feeding me her proprietary Mystery Smoothy in the morning, with its various secret greens, coconutty water admixtures, whey and hemp protein, berries of various stripes, and a little of this and a little of that.


    And I also want to thank Chicken of the Sea, Amanda Hunt, who in her aboriginal HTFU Aussie wisdom finally managed to communicate to me another bit of advice that others have been suggesting for years: i.e., that you will swim faster in you keep your eyes open.


    In the 100, for instance, I was bemoaning my lousy time, having glanced at the scoreboard and seen somebody else's time--a 53:35, worse than what I had swum two weeks ago in the Amish mudhole.


    Amanda tried to console me by saying that I had actually swum 103 yards. (When the film has been processed, I will post my various swims, but the 100, in particular, was very erratic. There was a collission in which I appear like a salmon in rut with lane line.) Anyhow, her words sunk in, and even after I learned I had actually swum a 52.43, I realized I might have gone faster if I had limited the race to 100 yards.


    But enough preamble. I mounted the blocks chanting the words, "Eyes open, eyes open, eyes open."


    The race started.


    1:54.89 later it was over for me.


    It was the fastest 200 of my life.


    Possibly the shortest 200 of my life as well, as the footage will show: I swam right on the line the whole way.


    I also feel I split it perfectly for me--out in 55.39 and back in 59.50:

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

    Sorry for going on so long about this. I know that even my fellow swimmers tend to suffer eye-glazing when reading about the swimming performances of people outside their own age groups.

    But I never, ever thought I could do this.


    And I know this sounds like one massive bragging session (we all know the sound of two hands clapping, but who knows the sound of one hand clapping? Well, I do, actually. Since I usually clap it most loudly on my own back...)


    Anyhow, I offer this vlog to all my fellow masters swimmers, afflicted as we all are with some various species of infirmity and woe and calamity and weakness.


    It is possible, with the help of your friends like Bill and Leslie and Amanda and Rich and all the others we see at these meets and correspond with on these forums...


    It is possible to hold onto your youthful mediocrity much longer than you might imagine, and by so doing, wait it out and transcend it.
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  15. Jim: The Classics Illustrated Version

    by , April 27th, 2010 at 02:36 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Okay, after this, I will take a break from swimming self-aggrandizement and move onto other areas of self-aggrandizement so vlog followers won't get sick of me.

    But I can't help myself.

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

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

    Swim #1. 1000 yard freestyle (Friday night)


    Fortunately, this does not include the 1000.

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

    Swim #2. 100 yard freestyle (Saturday morning)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Swim #3. 500 Freestyle (Saturday afternoon)

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

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

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

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


    Swim #4. 200 Freestyle (Sunday morning)

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

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

    'Nuff said.

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

    Immediate aftermath:

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

    Aftermath continued:

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

    Swim #5. 50 Freestyle (Sunday afternoon)

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

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

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

    It got on easily, perhaps too easily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Then the second start and actual race:

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

    Followed by the aftermath:

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

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

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

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

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

    Updated April 28th, 2010 at 04:02 PM by jim thornton

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  16. Motivating Water Nymphs

    by , May 2nd, 2010 at 04:43 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Girls these days have it hard.

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


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


    Cases-in-point:



    Ed and Heather




    Esmeralda and Quasimodo



    Michele and me


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

    Trophies?

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

    Old hats?

    Alas, they have a surfeit of these too!

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

    by , May 10th, 2010 at 11:14 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    As perspicacious viewers of [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMpL5zIuN2M"]The Night Strangler Part 1. - YouTube[/nomedia] have perhaps managed to glean already, your narrator has been tentatively diagnosed by the sleep lab technician, Ashley, (who parenthetically concedes that she is not allowed to diagnose sleep disorders), that the odds are extremely high I suffer from sleep apnea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Not pretty at all.

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



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

    Yikes! Asked to remove film. I did so!


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

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

    Updated November 29th, 2011 at 04:02 PM by jim thornton

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  18. See Pap Sleep!

    by , May 18th, 2010 at 06:26 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    The next appointment at the sleep lab wasn't supposed to happen till June 13th, but I asked them to call me if somebody canceled, and somebody did. So I go back tonight at 8 p.m. for round two.

    A brief recap:

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


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



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


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

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


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

    Time passed.

    The symptoms waxed.

    The symptoms waned.

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

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

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

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

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

    Or do I?

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


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

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

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


    Do Robots Dream of Android Sheep? Naa! Naa!


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



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

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



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

    by , May 25th, 2010 at 08:50 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    This just in! This just in! This just in!

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

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

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




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

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

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


    My teammates Bill and Mark are both very lucky guys.

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



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

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

    I refer to their respective adorable little daughters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Ciara application, on the other hand, always worked!

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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





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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Updated May 26th, 2010 at 11:35 PM by jim thornton (changing movie link to something I hope will work)

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  20. Grasshopper Blogging Advice

    by , June 8th, 2010 at 12:25 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Recently, a rookie USMS blogger turned to me with a look of admiration and perplexity on his young, 42-year-old face and asked me two earnest questions. I can’t remember the exact wording he used, but it was pretty close to this:

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

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

    Oh, grasshopper!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






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

    But what about me?

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Conan the Barbarian answered:

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


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


    Oh, and post more pictures.


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

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