Friday, April 30, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

'Fresh Ideas' Sold!

The nice editors at Every Day Fiction have decided to publish my story "Fresh Ideas" on their flash fiction website. (Stories under 1k words.) Luckily, 'Ideas' is fiction and so I will avoid needless mortification. 'Ideas' was part of my original Ten-in-Six. A workshop project about an odd man pretending to work at work, it was rejected 3x since September. After the last rejection, I made a small change to the ending that seemed to do the trick.

I'll post when the story is up. Now back to work. My antique computer has slowed to a crawl and will no longer transport me to Google search. I think I need to add more coal to the funnel in back.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Link to Race Time Weather Woes

Alas, the weather had the final word at Emil's most recent marathon.

Puss 'N Fruit

Tom Ruegger sent along this fascinating find from the now-defunct American Pie and Cat Association.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Blister!

It's been awhile, but I developed a blister from walking. Now I'll have to use Body Glide on my feet — an act of pure nostalgia.

I've decided to take the great long story I worked on last fall and expand it into a novel of about 200 pages. That means I'm only 130 pages shy. The theme is redemption through suffering, a bit lofty sounding for a story involving a forest monster running around eating people and livestock. But I've been invited by a publisher to submit the finished product which torpedoes my excuse that no one's interested. I'm plotting out the next two sections on 3x5 cards. In the past, tapping out a detailed outline fried my brain, as if I'd already written the book. Room must be left for the subconscious to plot various twists and turns. Hopefully, I'll add final changes around Halloween, a suitable time to submit a (hopefully) scary story.

There. Well. Ha! I've said it. Halloween. Inquire often. Ask me how the story's going. Hold me to it as you would hold a great round fellow to a diet.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cancer Skin Graft, Walking, Writing

Graft Dodger. Not really, but I liked the sound of it. My stitches stay for another week and I need to keep the nose moistened to facilitate healing. A year shall pass, said the dermatologist, before my old honker appears normal. (If it ever did.)

Walked 52 minutes this morning, speeding up at times to a brisk pace. My plan is to gradually acclimate to faster foot turn-over so my transition to running will be seamless. Walking for almost an hour 3x a week, I have to say the knee has held up well. Alas, my weight ballooned again so, with no swimming for three more weeks, I've got to eat less and get into the gym more. I feel like I've said the same thing over and over for the last 18 months.

Several potential writing projects, lean with promise, seem to have dwindled away, joining the ghosts of many others over the last decade. Perhaps there is a Project's Graveyard, similar to the Elephant's Graveyard only without big, round tombstones. One can only speculate.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Johnny Black Nose

Skin graft has turned blacker than a collie's snout, making it appear I feel asleep on a barbecue grill. Itches too. The divot behind my ear was leaking but appears to have stemmed. Tomorrow I get the stitches out. Yeah.

Walked early on Tuesday, logging 52 minutes at a moderate pace. Last week, I lost momentum with pitch meetings and surgery. For the next three weeks I'll focus on establishing consistent work-outs 3x a week. On week four, the focus will shift to walking faster. (I may incorporate a session at a local high school track.) The goal will be to eventually walk 3 miles in 39 minutes - 13 minutes a mile. Afterwards, I'll look into slowly running the distance. But everything depends on the knee. Any soreness or pain, and I stop.

And I can do all that regardless of nose color. Though I prefer it wasn't puppy black.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cheruiyots of Fire

Speaking of running, the 114th Boston Marathon wrapped up with Kenyan (really?) Robert Cheruiyot finishing in a course record 2 hours, 5 minutes, and 52 seconds. Americans Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezighi ran 4th and 5th. Woman's champ Teyba Erkesso edged a Russki dame to finish in 2:26:11. Top Yank Female was Paige Higgins, finishing in 13th place.

Congrats to all who trained, qualified and ran. Huzzah to you, I say.

UPDATE: Biggest cause of marathon injuries: Bad Gatorade? Cheerleader mayhem? CNN has the big surprise.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Price of Commitment

For over five years I studied t'ai chi. I learned the Yang Family long form, short form, fast set, push hands; attended t'ai chi camps and workshops; assisted the instructor, read books, bought videos, checked out websites and practiced persistently. But there came a time when I was faced with moving up or moving on. To move up would have required me to drive cross-town in rush hour traffic twice a week and study at the main guy's school. I would need to make a big financial commitment as well as up my practice time.

This decision came just as I began running again, mentally committing myself to finishing a marathon after years of false starts.

So I moved on, ran, and eventually joined Team in Training, completing 5 marathons. And while I still practice t'ai chi, I have decided the level I'm at is the last level I'll reach.

Which brings me back to running. Every setback is a time to examine commitment. Do you renew or fold? This cancer business on top of last year's knee operation, illness, learning to chi walk, tendinitis, anemia and all the hurdles I've faced since September 2008, including misdiagnoses from a hack doctor, have made 'fold' seem not only realistic, but the smart play.
  • Any outdoor exercise must now be tempered by the knowledge that I'm very skin cancer prone. So its cover-up exposed skin and train in the early morning or evening. (Or retire to the state of Washington.)
  • I'm pushing 60 and have sustained a fair amount of damage over the decades from a severe leg wound to broken bones to sprains and torn muscles.
  • Odds are that I'll never again equal where I was physically in 2008. That means I'll probably never qualify for Boston or run Heartbreak Hill.
  • Maybe the point of all these set-backs is not to press on, but to quit before something worse happens.
I'm caught in limbo, unable to sustain a training program that will get me running again and unable to move on. I wish I could let running go and take up cycling or Candyland. I'll be like Chuck Liddell, the Ice Man, who could've eased into training fighters after the Rampage Jackson beat-down, but returned to the octagon, losing four of his next five fights, one of them a knock-out. That's not a graceful exit.

But that's how I'll leave running. Painful as it is to keep starting over, I'm going to need another series or two of smack-downs to prove I'm finished. And I may not believe it even then.

'Cause if I'm not moving on, I'm moving up. Moving on up. Moving on up to the Eastside, to a de-luxe apartment in the sky. From now on, I'll run a dry cleaners.

Wait. Skip that part.

Run again soon, I'm believing.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

On the Nose with Basel Squamous

A shout-out to family and friends who checked in yesterday. All the prayers and little bits of encouragement helped in many ways as I look forward to getting the bandage off today and appearing only mildly deformed to the general public.

Between the wound draining and a big nose bandage, I slept poorly last night. Today, Ernesto drove me to the doctor's for yet another blood test, this one concerning anemia. I thanked my doc for catching the cancer. I'm like a medical windfall to him; every week, something new from tendinitis to anemia to cancer. Perhaps my story will make the New England Journal of Medicine as the Amazing Often-Sick California Man. (Then I can claim it as a publishing credit.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Take That Hook Out."

One of the many charming medical phrases I heard during outpatient surgery today. ("Blot" was another.) The cancer was more aggressive, deeper and wider than expected. They had to go in twice to cut everything out, then do a skin graft to cover the wound. Luckily, the cancer didn't migrate into the cartilage or I'd be Mr. Odd Nose. (Clever remarks notwithstanding.) Or worse. Anyway, my wife hung out while the doctors did their medical chores, then drove us home. Blood keeps draining into my mouth, making everything taste like I'm eating at the craft service table on Dawn of the Dead. But I'll take such minor discomforts. In the world of cancer, I skated big time.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cereal Killer

An ugly rumor swirling about the animation industry. As part of the First Lady's childhood obesity program, the government is considering banning food advertising from cartoon shows. No Happy Meals, Count Chocula, or Snickers. In an ailing industry, this would be a major kick in the private parts. Let's hope its just scuttlebutt. Cartoons wouldn't be the same with tofu ads.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tomorrow Bear



Dancing bear by day, crime-fighting scientist by night!
Thanks to takineko and Maz for the awesome artwork and color as I finish up the text and prepare to re-pitch this re-tooled idea. If I'd had any art this good the first time around we'd all be living large.

Black Water at Devil's Gate

The dam you see here is Devil's Gate Reservoir. Team in Training usually staffs an aid station atop the structure for longer runs up the Hahamonga Watershed, past Jet Propulsion Labs and up into the Angeles National Forest. This video shows the run-off power of January's storms, black with ash and dirt from the fire-swept areas. Running trails are off-camera but parallel to the flow. The last footage in Brookside Park is near the start point for many TNT runs. Fire and El Nino rains equal instant landscaping.

Via PhotoBoost

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Go Ask Alice in Wonderland

My wife and I saw Alice in Wonderland yesterday, keeping alive our streak of only seeing films that have "aged" a few months. Pleasant and entertaining. I remember little from the original Disney version and barely anything from the books. My only quibble would be Alice's closing "mad" idea of opening markets in China. As the film was set in the Victorian era, China was already colonized by Western powers. In fact, the country was on the brink of erupting in anti-foreigner violence known as The Boxer Rebellion. Perhaps the sequel can draw on proper history, as Alice enrages the Dowanger Empress with her pert forthrightness, causing boxer Chinese to attack the Hatter and lop him to bits in a frenzy of patriotic zeal.

Or maybe more cute stuff with Tweedle dum and Tweedle dee.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Biopsy Results

Biopsy results indicated skin cancer; something called basal squamous - which sounds like the name of a cheap carnival owner. Apparently, there is danger of metastasizing so I have an operation scheduled for Thursday, April 15. This will result in an even bigger bandage on my nose. But the doc seemed positive he could snip out all the bad cells which makes me positive. (If he sobbed and apologized over the phone, I'd feel different.)

This morning I did my walk starting in pre-dawn gloom. As I now have a 40% chance of reacquiring skin cancer, I must temper my interactions with the sun. Considering how I almost blew off meeting the dermatologist, I'm feeling rather grateful today.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

3 Again

Walked 3 miles on Tuesday, covering that distance for the first time in almost a year. Today I commenced to see how fast a 3-mile walk could be. Clearly there's limit, as mild soreness in my knee said 'Slower, you great oaf.' I'll make one day a week the fast 3-mile-walk test, gradually dialing up the pace. At some point early this summer, I might walk a 5k. Minus pain or soreness, I hope to run a little by the end of June. But I'm a long way from sending my knee doc a marathon finish line photo.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter!

Mass, then lunch today with my wife and mom-in-law, then away to assemble more animated show ideas to send out Tuesday. The producers clearly don't want Freakazoid or Pinky and the Brain or even Pepper Ann. But I will strive to build according to the ingredients I'm given.

(Photo: www.catholicbishops.ie/.../easter2007.jpg)

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Tidy Bowl

The Rose Bowl, that is. Sharing a patch of Arroyo Seco with a golf course, the perimeter of this fabled landmark is a work-out mecca for runners, cyclists, walkers, dog walkers, baby walkers, and people with time on their hands. Up to now, the exercising public has circled the Bowl's 3.1 mile perimeter in both directions with cars rolling past just to keep matters interesting. Disputes have arisen between omni-directionalists (cyclists who wish everyone to go one way and cyclists the other), and multi-directionalists (everyone else.) After years of meetings and collisions and harsh words and signs advising all to omni-directionalize, the City of Pasadena seems to have hit upon a best-of-all-worlds solution. The roadway is being widened to create a two-directional run/walk/stroll path separated by rubber cones from the cyclists who will share the road with the cars. This has the potential to tidy matters up, end conflicts, and give everyone their favorite direction to exercise in. By April's end, the new system should be in place and I'll report back on whether the city has added toll gates, which, I'm sure, everyone will agree is something to avoid.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday

A most solemn and reverent one to all who roll that way.

Sam provides a piece of Easter artwork.

Cracked explains why we should be thankful for nature fails.

Update: Acme cast mate Adam Carolla delivers wry rants right here.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Thursday

Down with some unfunny low-grade bug. My agent sent me material to read so I can pitch ideas to this animated show for a freelance episode. So that is an action fat with potential cheer.

Almost forgot:

Hahahahaha!! (Fill in the gag.) April Fool's!