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  1. Teammate Profile Series No. 1: Ronald Gainsford

    by , January 20th, 2009 at 10:23 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)

    Whatever you do, dont ever let anybody put you in the trunk of a car.

    --J. Ronald Gainsford, 2006, over a pasta dinner in the Polish Hill section of Pittsburgh


    Todays vlog is the first in an occasional series of profiles of teammates Ive become friends with thanks to a shared interest in swimming. Ronald, now 79, was at one point the fourth fastest butterflier in the world. He missed out on the Olympics, alas, because two of the guys faster than him were also both US citizens, and the team only took two American representatives in the fly.

    Such factoids are probably the least interesting things about Ron, who grew up in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh back in the days when this was known more for thuggery than the University. At age 10, he and his friends offered to protect the cars of people who came to watch Pitt football games. Those sports fans who paid indeed got protection. Those who didnt got flat tires.

    A couple years ago, when I was swimming regularly at Trees Pool atop cardiac hill in Oakland, Ron would regularly remind me to be careful, claiming he knew personally at least three murderers within a block of the pool.

    One, who suffered some form of insanity, had bludgeoned his victim to death with a hammer. Because of this, Ron would always keep his hand in his gym bag as we walked through the streets to the pool. He showed me once what he kept in there, but I cant say what it was.

    I did, however, ask him how they could know what his hand was holding.

    Oh, he told me. They know, all right. Then he laughed the way guys do who dont ever let other guys put them in a trunk of a car.


    Id like Ronald even if his pearls of advice hadnt, at least theoretically, saved my life.

    About nine years ago, I wrote a story on Masters swimming for my former employer, Mens Journal magazine. Like most mens magazines today, this publication was so obsessed with their youthful demographics that a guy past 40 doesnt stand a chance of making it in as an athlete. I am pretty sure the following passage, which was my favorite part of that particular story, ended up on the editorial room floor.

    I will paste it in here because I think it will give you another idea of what Ronald has been through, and why hes such an admirable fellow, and why swimming seems to offer all of us some real hope for salvation:

    When it comes to inspirational tales of the heart, theres one man on our team who clearly trumps everybody: Ronald Gainsford, a 70-year-old retired Pittsburgh public school teacher. In 1953, Ron was rated fourth in the world in the 100 and 200 yard butterfly. He missed the Olympics only because, he says, "the three guys ahead of me were also from the U.S."

    I first met Ron over the lunch hour when I spied him swimming laps at the Y. You could tell immediately from his form that he was a great swimmer, so I tapped his shoulder in between laps to recruit him for our team. He stood in the shallow end and pointed to a huge scar running down the center of his chest. "Id love to," he told me, "but Im not supposed to compete. Ive had a heart transplant, and my doctors dont want me to go too fast."

    Ron told me hed suffered a minor heart attack at age 55, followed by a devastating one in his early 60s. His heart was too badly damaged to be helped by bypass surgery, so his doctors kept him alive via medications, knowing that his only ultimate hope was a transplant. For five years, he told me, hed lived "a nursing home quality of life"--unable to even walk the 25-yard length of a pool without stopping to rest.

    Just after turning 65, with his heart now pumping only one-sixth the normal blood volume, Ron finally received a donor heart from a 25-year-old guy killed when his pickup truck slid off an icy road. Though the surgery went well, Ron developed a staff infection that came close to killing him again. The day we met at the Y, Ron had just started swimming again and was trying to build up to 20 easy lengths a day.

    All of which helps explain my utter astonishment when, eight months later, I run into Ron here in Baltimore. Not only is he competing but hes swimming some of the fastest times in his age group.

    "Whats happened to you?" I ask him.

    "After I talked to you in Sewickley," he explains, grinning, "I just kept slowly, slowly building up my distance in all the strokes. I went from 400 yards a day to 1800 yards. I said to myself, Hey, youre getting pretty good at this, maybe too good for just recreational swimming.

    "So I went back to my cardiologist and told him I wanted to compete again. I underwent a full catheterization, and the results came back great. My doctor said, I dont see any reason why you cant compete if you really want to do this."

    The Baltimore meet, it turns out, is Ron's third since getting the thumbs up. In April, he medaled in several events at the highly competitive US indoor nationals. In July, he placed 4th in breaststroke, 6th in butterfly, and 10th in backstroke at worlds in Munich. Even as his times continue to drop, hes refuses to take full credit for the accomplishments. A day doesnt pass, he says, without him thanking the young guy whose heart beats inside him.

    "Whenever I talk about my races," he tells me minutes before the freestyle relay, "I always say we swam well."


    Im not sure how many septuagenarian swimmers visit my vlog, but if you know any guys who same in the early 1950s, and perhaps competed at or against the University of Pittsburgh in those days, I would truly appreciate you passing this vlog on to their attention.

    Ron is talking about possibly swimming at the Worlds Masters meet when he turns 80. He did swim at the world transplant games recently, and I think he would do really well at the regular games, as well.

    Ronald, a life-long bachelor, lives alone. He goes to the Sewickley YMCA pretty regularly. Ive tried to talk him into joining the computer world, what with email and Facebook and USMS forum discussions. But he wont go for it. If you have a spare moment and think of it, send him a postcard.

    Im sure it would make his day. And you will have a friend for life.

    J. Ronald Gainsford
    167 Carnation Avenue
    Pittsburgh , PA 15229-1001

    Updated January 21st, 2009 at 06:17 PM by jim thornton

  2. Iwannafly in Erlangen

    by , January 23rd, 2009 at 12:23 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Theme: It's a small world after all.

    When I swam last year with Team Pitt Masters in Pittsburgh, I got to know a number of incredibly nice swimmers from not only Western PA but all over the world. Two such fellows are Yiu Law and Bodo Reitz (no relation to Heather, I am pretty sure). Yiu, pronounced "You," is originally from the Far East; Bodo is from Germany.

    Here is a picture of the three of us after practice one winter night as we prepare to go out into the cold:

    Bodo recently moved back to Germany to work for Siemens, I am pretty sure, or some other company that uses extremely smart physicists for medical imaging technology type work. He told us where in Germany he was moving back to, but I don't spreken zee Deutsch all that well myself, and it didn't sound like Munich, Berlin, or Hamburger, so I was pretty sure I wouldn't know where it was even if I could remember it.

    Time moves forward.

    A couple days ago, I got wind through Leslie Livingston that our mutual friend TJ Morton--see picture below with TJ on the right and Aquageek on the left:

    --anyhow, I got wind that TJ, whom I'd met at Colony Zones SCY Championships in years past, was moving to Germany for 2-3 years starting next July.

    As sad as this is for us Americans, I figured the Germans would be very encouraged by TJ's immigration. I decided to email three swimming friends--Bodo, who I knew resides now somewhere in Germany, and Lydia & Craig Holley (alas, no pictures available) who used to work for military intelligence in Germany and swam there on a masters team for a number of years.

    Even as I tip-tapped out my email, I figured the chances were tiny either Bodo or Lydia or Craig would know of swimming possibilities in TJ's future town of Erlangen, which I personally had never heard of and figured it must be some Bavarian backwater where villagers with rakes and torches still hunt wild boars and fear vampires.

    Bracing myself for ridicule--"You know, Jim, Germany is a large country, how are we supposed to know masters swimming teams in--what did you call it? Erlangen!!!"--I nevertheless did what I figured was my duty: connect TJ with a replacement group of like-minded aquatic buddies in the pacified Fatherland.

    Here is what I wrote:


    Dear Bodo, Craig, Lydia, and TJ,

    A quick word of introduction:

    TJ Morton is a great guy I have become friends with at USMS swimming meets in the D.C. area. He is moving to Germany this summer and is trying to figure out the masters opportunities there.

    Bodo, Lydia, and Craig are all swimmers with ties to both the Pittsburgh area and Germany. Bodo just moved back to his native land; Lydia and Craig lived in Germany for many years before relocating here to Sewickley.

    I am not sure exactly where Erlangen is, but if you guys could drop TJ a line and let him know any advice you have for him swimming in Germany, we would both be very grateful.




    Within a couple hours, Bodo wrote us back:


    Hi TJ,

    this is Bodo writing, I just moved from Pittsburgh back to Germany early last year, actually I ended up just in the same area you are heading to - some 12 miles away from the 50 m indoor pool in Erlangen (although I usually go to the pool which is located 1.5 miles away from my apartment).

    So this should already demonstrate that there are plenty of opportunities to get into the water - within city limits of Erlangen there are at least two indoor facilities (open in winter) and several outdoor pools (open in summer) and most villages around have public pools as well. The Roethelheimbad (50 m indoor pool , open the whole year around plus an outdoor facility in the summer) is actually close to the Areva site.

    This is a link, to get a few pictures of the public pools in Erlangen:

    (sorry, only the navigation is available in english, the description itself is still in German)

    There are several swim teams in Erlangen, I don't know them, but I am sure that they have either a masters program or another program you like - I will check the next time I go to the pool (I happen to have training in Erlangen this week) for a list of teams, and whether they have their own web site.

    Feel free to email me any questions you might have about the area, I am happy to try to answer them.




    By the time I found Bodo's letter in my email box, TJ had already replied:


    Thank you Bodo. I am very excited about moving to Europe. As a matter of fact, the ONLY thing holding me here has been my masters swim team and the friends I have made at meets.

    As the time for us to move approaches, I will have more questions. I believe that we will visit in May for one or two weeks to find a place and to see the area. Most of the American AREVA employees that I know of, live in Nurnberg, but we would enjoy living in a small town in the countryside too.

    I look forward to meeting you.

    Mit freundlichen Gren,

    T.J. Morton

    Thanks, Bodo.

    TJ, Bodo is an incredibly nice guy. I had no idea that he had moved so close to where you are going, but now you will know a wonderful friend when you and your family are in Germany!

    Small world!

    The next day, Craig responded, too:


    Erlangen is just outside, (north), of most German cities it will have a swim club with a website and contact info. Masters swimming in Germany is everywhere, very well developed, and lots of fun. let me find their website with contact numbers and I'll get back to you.


    their website is,

    their masters group is run by
    Jrgen Thiel, they have contact info etc on the site.


    Thanks again for putting me in touch with Bodo and Craig. I will miss my swim team and meet friends, but I'm sure I'll make new ones. Plus, it's only 2-3 years.
    See ya' Jim,


    Time and again, it truly amazes and inspires me how our goofy sport of plodding back and forth in the water seems to unite and cement friendships in people who would otherwise have a nil probability of ever even seeing, let alone meeting each other.

    TJ, AKA, Iwannafly, please do stay in touch with all of us here on the forums and let us know about your new German swimming friends.



    I actually saw Craig's wife Lydia at the Y pool today. She hadn't seen the emails, but when I explained the situation, she told me she LOVED swimming masters in Germany. "They don't really get into the training so much as over here," she told me. "You might have scheduled practices two times a week. But they REALLY get into the meets. And the food they prepare afterwards is all home-cooked andwonderful."

    Lydia also said that the Germans are extremely fastidious about their suits. The moment they finish a race, they take off a wet suit and put on a dry one. The men, she says, change on the deck! They wrap a modesty towel around their waists, drop the wet suit, then shimmy the dry one up unseen.

    TJ, perhaps you might want to practice this maneuver at home before moving.
    Final notes:

    I was going to go onto Babelfish and translate this whole page into what would surely be unreadable German. But I see that, as always, I have gone on a bit long in my vlog today!!!

    Or as TJ might soon be saying this, Aber ich sehe, dass, als immer, ich auf eine Spitze lang in meinem vlog heute gegangen bin!!!

    So, I shall just end with a few more pix gleaned from the Erlangen masters web site. These evidently show a bracing summer meet in a land thus far untouched by global warming:

  3. Nausea vs. Hope

    by , January 23rd, 2009 at 05:41 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Very short vlog today, with only a tiny bit of swimming relevance.

    As perhaps the most sickly human being in Christendom, I find myself having to tighten my esophageal sphyncter by pure force of will to keep today's foodstuffs--one (1) cold leftover grilled pork chop; the remainder of a carton of cottage cheese; a frozen and semi-thawed Gatorade, red color; and a packet of GU--from making their egress from my stomach in the wrong direction.

    Will this keep me from going to swimming practice?

    No, one thousand million times no!

    I am made of sterner, albeit more nauseated, stuff.

    To bolster my resolve, I will take comfort from the new wind blowing across the fruited plains, which promise to minimize the ruination to come and help us overcome the ruination we have already been subjected too.

    I say, put the scalawags into the debtor's prisons, and let us debtors get to spend our incarcerations in the country club prisons where the CEOs used to go.

    Criss cross, guy! Criss cross!

    With any luck at all, I will be put into a California prison with a swimming pool, where I can represent the prison league in masters competitions with other incacerated but well-meaning debtors nationwide!

    On this note, my twin brother's latest filmic homage to our times: a real charmer featuring young Cameron, the same little vunderkind who appeared in the classic "Sunk" video posted a while ago.


  4. 1 hour postal swim

    by , January 24th, 2009 at 01:11 PM (Ande's Swimming Blog)
    Sat Jan 24th 2009

    did the postal hour swim in today's practice

    will blog todays practice at:
    short cut to Ande's Swimming Blog

    NEXT MEET: USA Swimming Austin Grand Prix Austin TX
    March 5 - 7, 2009
    40 days away
    Meet format: Short Course AM, Long Course PM
    Meet Events: Thursday, Friday, Saturday

    6:30 - 8:00
    Whitney coached
    SCY swim center main pool NO Blocks
    swam beside Larry Amy & Brandon

    wore blue seventy nero comp

    warmed up till 6:52

    we started the one hour swim at 6:55
    tried to stay long smooth and relaxed
    whitney counted
    started out easy didn't want to die
    hoped to keep up with larry
    in the first 1000 I had arm cramps then they went away, I wound up lapping Larry 3 times
    towards the end I felt like I was close to getting calf cramps but I didn't get a full on cramp

    whitney put a kick board in the water after each 1,000

    here's my 500 / 1000 / 1650 splits

    500 5:43.1

    1000 11:23.1 5:40.0

    1500 17:00.2 5:27.1

    1650 18:40.0

    2000 22:33.1 11:10.0 5:32.9

    2500 28:06.5 5:33.4

    3000 33:35.5 11:02.4 5:29.0

    3300 36:54.2 18:14.2

    3500 39:09.1 5:33.6

    4000 44:38.4 11:03.9 5:29.3

    4500 50:12.4 5:33.3

    4950 55:11.1 18:16.9

    5000 55:43.3 11:04.9 5:30.9

    5350 59:36.2

    which is much further than I thought I'd go

    easy 100

    Updated January 24th, 2009 at 01:25 PM by ande

    Swim Workouts , Masters Swim Meets / Events
  5. Rowdy Gaines, Ian Crocker, and Me: Chattings

    by , January 26th, 2009 at 12:35 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    In a very rare, in fact, unheard of double vlog posting in one day, I present to you breaking news from the cutting edge of swimming celebrity journalism!

    I, your humble gossip-mongering Masters swimming vlogger, feel I simply can't sit on this story. It is THAT timely and topical.

    Tonight, while wasting time on Facebook, I noted that two of my "friends" were on at the same time I was. These two friends were:

    Ambrose "Rowdy" Gaines

    And Ian "Guitar Neck Penis" Crocker

    What initially caught my eye and inspired me to talk to Ambrose was a product he was apparently hawking:

    Blu Frog Energy (Easy Cash Opportunity)

    Ambrose, AKA, Rowdy, is listed as one of the administers of a marketing site on Facebook set up to sell this stuff. I found this a bit, well, disgusting. So I began the chat and will reproduce it in its entirety for your vicarious reading pleasure:

    Ambrose 'Rowdy' Gaines

    hop on over to the new energy drink, "Blu Frog"! TLC's all new healthy energy drink! 9826. about an hour ago
    10:31pm James how much do you get paid for this?

    10:32pm Ambrose
    hey there, you are paid in commission for every case you sell
    there is a whole set of commission rates

    good luck

    oh i'm not apart of the selling at all. i'm just sharing the opportunity with other people

    okay. well, good luck to them then

    haha. alrighty then

    hahahaha. don't mean to be a hard ass here or a sumbitch. nothing wrong with money

    10:35pmAmbrose haha i gotchya brother...

    10:35pmJames is this the actual ambrose, or is it an ambrose impersonator? part of Ambrose Rowdy Gaines Amalgamated Enterprise LPC INC Holding Co.?

    10:36pmAmbrose i'll let you decide that

    10:36pmJames I think this is a wholely owned subsidiary of Ambrose Inc. Which is still closer to celebrity than I have gotten all day

    10:37pmAmbrose LOL hey i'll be right back

    The real Ambrose should be out with supermodels or practicing his annoucing diction



    Ian Crocker
    is bored out of his mind.7 minutes ago

    Is this the actual Ian Crocker who is bored out of his mind?
    Ian? Mr. Crocker?
    Mr. Ian "Bored out of his mind" Crocker?
    Say, there!
    Mr. Ian Crocker!
    Eee Eee!
    Is this Mr. Chokablock o' Crockadock Eee Crocker?
    Theory: Ian Crocker's people put out on Facebook that Ian Crocker is bored out his mind and within nanoseconds swimming groupies descend upon him and...
    Ian? Ian!
    This is your mother, young man!
    I am over at Jim Thornton's house and--no, it's none of your business what I am doing at Jim Thornton's house at this hour, Ian.
    Ian, you impertinent little...
    Go to your room!
    You come over here, and I will give you something to be bored about.



    10:44pmJames I just attempted a conversation with another, albeit somewhat less famous, swimming legend, Mr. Ian, Bored out of His Mind, Crocker. No progress was made.

    10:45pm James I see that the Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Ambrose "Rowdy" Gaines Incorporated Amalgamation Inc. Off Shore Licensing and Leasing Company is off helping other Facebook friends hop on over to Blu Frog Energy Drink Sales and Riches!

    Later, brother!


    Maybe I am being unfair. Okay, I acknowledge that it is possible I am being unfair. It is now 11:14, almost a full half hour since Ambrose promised to get right back to me.

    I will quickly check Facebook to see what Rowdy and Ambrose have to say. I am sure all is forgiven and forgotten, that we are best buddies again, and that they will probably be asking me for videos of my swimming strokes so that they can provide free pointers.

    Be right back!


    Please join me in boycotting Blu Frog Energy Drink. As for you Ian, I could have saved you, man. It was only boredom. You didn't have to die. If only you'd replied just once so I could have triangulated your location and notified 9 1 1.

    Rest in peace, Mr. Crocker. Where you're going now, I hear boredom is the least of the problems--and all they give you down there to slake your considerable thirst? You guessed it! Blu Frog Energy Drink, the choice of damned swimmers everywhere.

    Updated January 26th, 2009 at 12:47 AM by jim thornton

  6. World Semi-Naked Swimming News

    by , January 28th, 2009 at 05:33 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Why northern swimmers get better workouts than the hot house flower types from California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, and other meteorologically pampered regions of the earth.

  7. The FAF AFP Digest Advises Vlog the Inhaler

    by , January 31st, 2009 at 10:22 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)

    This is a picture of a fortress, the metaphor that the lovely Leslie Livingston has embraced as her USMS inner identity. How and why she chose such a metaphor is lost in the mists of time.

    Or I guess you could ask her.

    This is a picture of Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler (upon whom Dracula is allegedly based) that serves as the inspiration for the lovely Jim Thornton's USMS personna. That and Woodstock from the comic strip, Peanuts.

    Jim picked Vlad the Impaler as his self-image because it sounded like Vlog the Inhaler. Really, it doesn't make a lot of sense. Hopefully, this, too, will soon be lost in the mists of time.

    Jim picked Woodstock because in his inner mind's eye, he is an adorably cute little yellow bird who doesn't talk.

    Naturally, when Jim "Vlog Woodstock" Thornton needed counsel about his vlog, he sought out the advice of Leslie "Fortress" Livingston, whose blog "FAF AFP Digest" sets the standard for blogging excellence on these forums.

    Picture of Leslie (on left, with beard) and Jim (on right, in dress) undergoing therapy.

    Some of what was discussed can't be revealed here because of mandated reporting laws, Amber alerts, the 10 Commandments, and other aspects of Society's ********, man. But the advice that can be reproduced is this:

    "Jim, maybe if you put an occasional workout into your Vlog, you'd get more viewers and comments."

    Point taken, Mistress Fortress! May I have another, please!

    Here's what I swam today, which I should add is the capstone on a January totaling 36.73 miles:

    • 1 x 1000 broken into a 600 with open turns and a 400 with flip turns, the whole thing incredibly slow, but no less torturous for the slowness, as all the while "Up the Lazy River" played in an endless loop in my brain

    • 20 x 50 on 1:05, the interval chosen so that the exhausted brain would not actually have to count, but rather rely on the clock to more or less do this for him.

    • 1 x 10 minutes in the Sewickley YMCA steam bath

    • 1 x 8 minutes in the Sewickley YMCA men's shower room, shaving during my shower

    • 1 x 30 seconds in the pool again to stop sweating from the steam bath and shower

    • 1 reasonably average flight of stairs to the lobby

    And home again, home again, like a fat little pig!

    Tomorrow, we have a meet in Franklin, PA, 1 hour and 23 minutes from Sewickley. Those interested in the nice local league we Western Pennsylvanians swim in can view not only our meet schedule but Top 10 Times dating back to 1982. Simple click here and enjoy yourself:

    Finally, Leslie, I shall be monitoring the Vlog's activity in the wake of your excellent advice. Who knows? Perhaps one day, the student might even catch up with the teacher. And you know what must happen then, eh?

    [ame=""]Amazon Online Reader : If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him! The Pilgrimage of Psychotherapy Patients[/ame]
  8. Can Swimming Really Replace Running?

    by , February 1st, 2009 at 02:01 PM (Swimming, Life, and Other Stuff!)
    I am really not a swimmer. Don't get me wrong, for almost 3 years I have been swimming 4-6 times per week and working at it with an honest hard core effort. I like swim meets, and I love open water swimming races. I may try a 10K this summer (if I can find some buddies with the same intent). I highly suspect I can keep my 5K pace up in a 10K with maybe just a slight increase in yardage.
    I love the friendships I have developed within Team NASTI, and from swimming in general. Swimmers tend to like to get together and party alot. I think it is because they spend all that time with their heads in the water squelching the thoughts on their minds that need to be verbalized. Anyway.....swimming has been a positive influence on my meager social life!
    My question is: "why do I miss running so much?" When I was diagnosed with osteo-arthritis in my left knee I deceided "I am not going to whine, piss, and moan, I am going to be pro-active and simply start another joint friendly activity! It was kinda-like I ran the last time on Wednesday and started swimming on Thursday. I tried not to look back, and I did not talk about running to anyone!
    I didn't run a step for about a year and a half. I did start noticing that breast stroke no longer hurt my knee. I started running around some in my P.E. classes. Finally I started running with the kids again in my after-school "Coyote Running Club". It wasn't much but it was better than nothing.
    In the meantime several of the NASTI'S who compete in triathlons started running after Sunday morning practice. Two weeks ago I got tired of listening to them talk about their runs so.........I brought my running stuff and slipped into it after practice and showed up for the run. Now I know I am a skinny, 53 year old female(old!) but I have always felt like I have a pretty high fitness level. I was very disappointed when a couple of the runner men who didn't even do the swim workout that day(early to mid 40's) laughed and said "You're going to run?!"
    I am a usually quiet, sometimes introverted, and generally stable person but when someone laughs at me my evil, competitive, and physically aggressive side comes out. I was polite enough to keep my mouth shut, but believe me those guys were not gonna be running anywhere close to me. The running Bobinator was back in ACTION! Anyway it was fun to be back in the saddle again although the knee felt it for many days after. I didn't run with the group last week-end (swim meet) but today I had another glorious run! I know I'll never run another sub-three hour marathon (or marathon for that matter) but it makes me feel so happy to think I can go out and run 45 minutes or so if I really want to.
    TODAYS WORK-OUT: 800 yards easy stretch freestyle, Large Pyramid on 1 min per 50 int:50-100-150-200-250-250-200-150-100-50 all freestyle, 6X75 IM Roll on 1:30 interval, 5X100 on 1:45 int (I did all free cause that's the only stroke I can do on the 1:45) Then quick into the running clothes and out on the icy streets for a hard 45:00 run. I think we went about 6 miles but since I rarely run anymore I am not sure how well I estimate distances. Now I'm tired....I am going to go make chili for the Super Bowl then maybe take a nap!
    Till tomorrow brings another adventure I will sign off!

  9. Experimental Totally Swimming Related Vlog

    by , February 2nd, 2009 at 06:58 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Preliminary notes:

    I realize that some of our ranks like to make excuses for their swimming times, or perhaps to put this in more charitable terms, place some perspective on the factors that interfere with optimal performance.

    Some, well, me, are not like this. We are the Clint Eastwoodian, John Waynesque type swimmers, who never apologize, never explain, just let our swimming do our talking for us. Often "our action does our talking for us" in this sense involves a Gatling gun and a wide open plain strewn with bloody corpses in Speedos, being pecked by vultures.

    The excuse community, in the case of the recent YMCA meet I took part in, might well cite factors such as:

    • insufferable air inside the dank pool chamber, air which allegedly triggered dozens of asthma attacks in youngsters the day before
    • heat levels that are as close to an August day in Houston as you can find on a February day off I-80 in Western PA
    • an ongoing deterioration of global financial markets that contributes so much stress to those individuals subject to pathological worry that it would be hard for me, I mean them, to breathe successfully from a ventilator in an ICU oxygen chamber, let alone unaided in the Gitmo of that fetid, fetid YMCA!
    • the remains of a bubonic cold that, though abating, refuses to abate completely
    • a stretched out speed suit that is so cheap they can barely give them away when new, and this one is not even close to new
    • diving blocks that were so high off the water that nitrogen narcosis remains an ongoing concern during the breakout to the surface
    • lanes that measured approximately 18 inches in width. not lane lines, but the actual lanes themselves
    • the entire meet, which began with a 2025 yard warm up around 11, and finished not too terribly long after 2:30, with many of my, I mean the swimming person's, own events arranged 1-2-3 just like that!
    • etc.

    But I am not one to take refuge in even the most rational reasons for failure, and so I will leave all these above (and many, many other) excuses unremarked upon.

    Thus, without any adieu whatsover, or ado, or whatever the correct term is, without any of it, here are my results from yesterday's meet at the Franklin YMCA (not far from Clarion, PA, for those of you who know our neck of the woods):

    • 100 freestyle AGE GROUP: 55-591 JIM THORNTON 56 M SEWY 53.56

    • 50 freestyle AGE GROUP: 55-591 JIM THORNTON 56 M SEWY 24.63

    • 200 IM AGE GROUP: 55-591 JIM THORNTON 56 M SEWY 2:20.32 29.03 37.70 43.50 30.09

    • 25 butterfly AGE GROUP: 55-591 JIM THORNTON 56 M SEWY 13.28

    • 200 mixed freestyle relay AGE GROUP: 100-139 SEWY A 141 X SEWY 1:49.08 BILL WHITE 38M, MOLLIE NADLER 24F, BRANDI GEISENDORFER 23F, JIM THORNTON 56M23.44 27.94 32.69 25.01

    Now I must leave to do tonight's practice:

    • 10 x 100 on 1:25 warm up
    • 5 x 200 on 2:30 (get average time)
    • 4 x 200 on 3:00 (beat previous average)
    • 5 x 100 on 1:20 (get average)
    • 3 x 100 on 1:45 (beat average)
    • 1 x 50 on :45 easy

    total 3650

    Possibly more commentary to come. I shall closely monitor the success or failure of this totally excuse-less swimming vlog to see if such fodder is what my blog-hungry audience craves, and if so, provide more of it; or if not, then quietly allow the hardcore swimming stuff to atrophy away, vlogging more about the subtler aspects of aquatic Jimnitude, which may or may not include the erotic death fantasies few readers have a taste for.
  10. Omnes Vloggia in Tres Partes Divisa Est!

    by , February 4th, 2009 at 12:32 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Omnes Vlogia in Tres Partes Divisa Est

    Or, as Caesar himself might have described todays practice:

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

    Part. 1. Bill

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

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

    Liam White, Boy Genius

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The good news here is that guys like me, at least if you believe research conducted and supported by the National Swimming Pool Foundation, and there is absolutely no reason why you shouldnt believe such research, anyhow, the good news is that guys like me dont have to die young, and in fact, we will be around for a very, very long time hoping to shove our trochars in to remove young womens kidneys whenever the need for donor tissue arises. (And the way we old coots drive our Cadillacs, god knows there will be plenty of need for donor tissues!)

    Part 2. Ronald Gainsford, Redux

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

    Where was I?

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

    Mr. M. Aurelius of Rome

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

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

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

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

    Heres Ronalds latest note. I think this is the best evidence of all that the research Bill sent me was, in fact, valid.

    Part 3. Dysthymia.

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

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

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


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

    by , February 5th, 2009 at 08:30 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I am about to take a sabbatical from scrofulous topics to allow my soul to heal. Replacement swimming-related topics will soon include such time-tested crowd favorites as:

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

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

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

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

    Mermaid, cropped, loveliness extant despite this

    I refer, of course, to:

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

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

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

    But enough preamble.

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

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

    It was stunningly good.

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

    That someone was our little Puff!

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

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

    My comments in manly bold "Impact" font.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Yes, you are correct!

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

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


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

    To sum up:

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

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

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

    by , February 7th, 2009 at 06:58 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    As hinted yesterday, and fulfilled today, there is a new Thornton Twins film for your viewing pleasure today.

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

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

    But homework is for your own good.

    Here it is:

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

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

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

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

    Thanks in advance for all your help!

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

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

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

    by , February 8th, 2009 at 02:56 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Our Bible passage today comes from most of us atheists' third favorite part of the Good Book, that is, after Job and Leviticus. I refer, of course, to Ecclesiastes:

    There Is Nothing New Under The Sun

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

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

    It's either this:

    Or this...

    Or maybe something else entirely...

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

    Subject: A great online swimming resource

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


    First comment:


    second comment:


    Third comment:


    Fourth comment:


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

    by , February 10th, 2009 at 12:10 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Utterly exhausted.

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

    Blood drawn for testosterone and estrogen readings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

    For one thing, I had blood drawn yesterday.

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

    These compounds also happen to resemble estrogen.


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

    Do not expect sense, transitions, a narrative line.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Eventually, it sinks in.

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

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

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

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

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

    Which brings us to Part 2.

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

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

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

    Now, here is a picture of the Thornton twins:

    Oh, well. Who knows?

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

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

    I am an old-looking idiot.

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

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

    Updated February 10th, 2009 at 11:26 PM by jim thornton

  16. Good luck, Self Pity, Soy Jimby

    by , February 13th, 2009 at 10:13 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I was all set to post this yesterday when Comcast had an outage in our area, cutting off Internet, TV, and land line phones at our house. I will try again and hope it is not too late...




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


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

    Soy Jimby means, in Spanish, I am Jimby.

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

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

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

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

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

    by , February 16th, 2009 at 12:04 PM (The FAF AFAP Digest)
    Despite being totally sleep deprived, my body was still sufficiently rested, tapered, pampered, massaged etc. to swim fast. I feel like I really nailed the taper with significant time drops. Swam faster than I though I would. In fact, I should probably just retire from SCY now, as I doubt I'll ever swim faster. lol All time drops are "taper drops" because I've swum every event except the 100 IM in B70s. (I note this because Jimby thinks all my recent improvements are due to B70 use.)

    100 fly: 1:01.33

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

    50 back: 28.52

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

    100 back: 1:02.84

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

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


    Taper Reflections/Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Here are the complete results:

    Updated February 17th, 2009 at 01:12 PM by The Fortress

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

    by , February 16th, 2009 at 11:22 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I am not sure which one it is, but one of the Laws of Thermodynamics, if memory serves me even a little bit, says that energy runs downhill. Entropy is gaining on us all, relentlessly.

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

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

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

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

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

    A few snapshots from my swimming practice log:

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

    Jan, 2004: 4996 yards in 1 hour postal meet

    June, 2004: 46 x 100 on 1:20

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

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

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

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

    Jan, 2008: 4825 hour swim

    Jan, 2009: 4700 hour swim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Wagging that finger savagely now.

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

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

    by , February 17th, 2009 at 07:41 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    As some of you may know, and others are perhaps discovering for the first time, Vlog the Inhaler, like Sybill, is a person of multiple, and for the most part delightful and/or pathological, personalities.

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

    Oh, I was also known widely as Golden Boy.

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

    But To my knowledge, still robustly available!

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

    Where was I?

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Spunky Po'Boy McPunkerton-Thornton.

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

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

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

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

    I need to know how to be next.
  20. My first time getting up at the crack of dawn....

    Had a terrrible dream that I couldn't get to the to the wrong lost in a crazy mish mosh building with stairways and elevators full of people from my past...then bingo I popped up right at 6, the time I had planned. Still got there late and took my glasses with me so I could read the sheet. Whatddaya know I stepped on them going to get the kickboard. Oh well I needed a new pair anyway. Everybody like busy bees doing their routines and a quick chat with the coach.
    Pull 400 (75 free (5 breath) 25 stroke
    Kick 4 X 100
    Pull 300 (75 free (5th) 25 stroke
    Kick 4X75
    Pull 200 choice
    Kick 4 X 50
    Pull 25 stk 25 free (100)?
    Kick 4 X 25
    Interval timing on all with rest
    Checked the times on some of my strokes
    Back 50 48 sec
    IM 100 1:45
    Breast 50 not so good I can do better. I am wishy washy on my stroke. Old style ? new style...not clear what to do.
    I think I can do better than this under pressure plus as a dive. Getting ready for my Feb 28 event. I am going to do 1000 free, 50 free, 100 IM!

    Updated February 18th, 2009 at 11:50 AM by flippergirl (posted before finished out of know where? I hit something wrong both times by accident wil try to type more carefully)

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