Friday, September 30, 2005

Back To Reality

My challenge for this week has been to get psyched up for both work and training.

Yes, I had to go back to work this week. Darn. We went back at noon on Wednesday, but only about half the staff made it in, so things were pretty peaceful. Neither of my assistants came in so I stayed busy with simple things-- taking plastic bags off computers, handing out and accepting forms and answering silly questions. The kinds of things my assistants usually handle. It was a nice change of pace.

Several of us also spent a good long while eating ice cream and gabbing about hurricanes. Hey, it beats working. Blue Bell's Banana Pudding ice cream ROCKS!

That was Wednesday.

Thursday and Friday were normal. Way too normal. We were totally back to such joys as the irritable boss who only half-explains things, lots of big complicated projects and not a simple thing in sight. Oh wait, I take that back. A simple request came through today-- a travel request form needed to be filled out. Normally one of my assistants would handle such a thing, but time was of the essence and I had both of them busy with a much more important project that I'm not allowed to do as a matter of university policy. So I figured what the heck, it's good to keep my lower-level skills up to date, and who doesn't like an easy task after weeks of endlessly convoluted ones? So I filled out the travel request form.

As far as workouts go, I'm afraid I've lost a little steam since deciding that my budget simply can't accomodate Iron Star this year or an Iron Man signup for next year. Or rather, I could do it, but not as comfortably as I would've liked, after giving to Katrina relief efforts and having to rebuild my own hurricane supply stash more quickly than I had planned. And at the rate things are going with storms, gas prices and Dan's kidney stones, I don't know how much of our usual fall bike series we'll be able to salvage either.

So I might do some of the marathon warmup series this fall, just to feel like I'm doing something. I swore off the 20K, 25K and 30K races several years ago because it seemed I was almost as jinxed on them as on the Houston Marathon. Only unlike the marathon, I actually was able to run the shorter races. It's just that I always would get injured. It's the weirdest thing. But I haven't run any of the races in the series since I got my Q-angle problem fixed, so maybe I'll give it another go, just for something to do. And if I don't hurt myself, I'll sign up for the marathon again and see if this time I actually make it to the starting line.

Recent Workouts
Monday: 45 minute elliptical
Tuesday: 45 minute bike, Spinervals 7.0 Uphill Grind
Wednesday: 2 mile morning run, 4 mile evening run
Thursday: 45 minute bike, Spinervals 5.0 Mental Toughness (1st half only)
Friday: Rest Day

Monday, September 26, 2005

Who is this strange creature? Posted by Picasa
Damn, I'm good looking! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Back to Normal... Sort of...

We were unable to find an open restaurant last night. Darn. But we had some parmesan and some red pepper pesto in the fridge, so we made up some pasta instead. I had a honeycrisp apple for dessert and Dan had some bread pudding with vanilla ice cream. Not bad for a couple of folks who had been led to expect to be eating camp food and Clif bars by Saturday night!

This morning I tried to do a long run, since I had missed my usual Saturday run. Man, was it hot out there today-- even by my standards! Not only was it hot, but the humidity felt like about 350% and there was no breeze at all. Total suckage.

Nevertheless, I gave it the old college try. I started out on the bayou trail, where I saw lots of bunnies in places they don't usually hang out after 7 am. I guess they felt a bit safer with fewer people and dogs on the trails. After I turned around at Sabine and headed west, I decided that instead of sticking to one of my usual routes I should do a bit of scouting. So my run turned into a reconnaisance mission as I checked for open stores and signs of life at area restaurants. Obviously I couldn't tell if places were opening for lunch (it was too early in the morning for that), but I checked out the places that open for breakfast, like some of the Westheimer coffee bars. I also kept an eye out for evidence that prep work might be going on inside, like patio furniture set out.

It was nice to see the town coming back to life. A lot of places were still closed, some shops still boarded up and a lot of gas stations still had pumps wrapped in plastic. But a few places already had gas again and the lines stretched around the block. I went inside the open grocery stores and found that there was fresh produce to be had, which made me happy. Tidbit's greens got kind of wilty in the coolers at Camp Tidbit, so I was anxious to get her some new lettuce, parsley and cilantro.

I finished my recon with a trip to Central Market, which was open! Yay! I refilled my water bottles and took my now-dripping self back toward River Oaks. I managed to find a few sprinklers to run through in the neighborhood, but unfortunately they were set pretty low and only cooled my knees and ankles a bit. By now I was really suffering, both from the heat and humidity as well as from tightness in my legs from all the running up and down stairs I had done this past week. Not to mention that I totally slacked on my stretching routine. You know, it's easy to get complacent and think those trigger point balls, foam rollers and stretching routines aren't really doing much, but just take a few days off, run up and down the stairs a lot and see you your next run feels! Ugh.

So I cut things short just shy of 11 miles, of which I walked about half a mile, so I only ran a little over 10.5 miles. Damn, I'm such a slug.

Maybe the Y will be open in the morning and I can go for a swim and do a little work in the weight room.

After I got home, Dan called our favorite Indian place and we were thrilled to find them open! We didn't get there until nearly 1:00 and there were only two tables available. But by the time we got our plates filled a booth had opened up, so we were very happy. I feel a little bad for the retail and restaurant people who had to go back to work today, but the few places that were open were going gangbusters and I know any waitstaff on duty today made a killing. Even tonight as we drove home from a walk at Memorial Park, we saw a pizzeria and a Mexican place on Washington Avenue with full parking lots. Lots of folks either lost power and had no edible food in their fridge or else they did what we did and ate most of their perishables ahead of the storm and after all the fuss just wanted to be dressed up a bit, out in public and being waited on.

We went to Central Market tonight after our walk because we were both craving watermelon. They were out, but we got some canteloupe and honeydew instead. Good enough. I think we both just wanted something fresh. It's funny, but the moment I realized I could no longer get fresh fruits and vegetables, I started craving them. I now have a salad, some melon, bananas, yellow squash and broccoli in the fridge. And Tid has some lettuce and parsley. We're set!

This has been an interesting experience for us. I hope we don't have to go through this again, but the longer we remain on the Gulf Coast, the more likely that this will happen again. It's been a good dry run. We both have a better sense of what we need, what we'll miss when the city shuts down, and how long we can wait before moving to our shelter. For the most part, I think our plans are solid. My long-term project is to continue to refine our hurricane plans based on what we learned this time.

The bottom line though, is that things are slowly returning to normal around here. And we don't have to return to work until noon Wednesday, so I can still enjoy a weekend of sorts.

All's well that ends well, right?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Everything In Its Place

Well, we got lucky. We never lost power. After a breakfast of hot oatmeal while watching the storm footage, we went back to Camp Tidbit to retrieve the last of the things we'd left there. Then we spent the afternoon putting things away, returning patio furniture to the balcony, taking things out of bags, etc.

What a lot of work!

On the one hand, it feels like overkill-- all the work we did bagging things up and moving our most irrreplacable items to safety. But then again, we did this on a day when we were told to expect a direct hit from a Category 4 hurricane. A storm of that magnitude would've taken off parts of our roof and broken some windows. Had Thursday's forecast been correct, being able to come home to find most of our stuff safe and dry would've been of tremendous psychological value. I remember reading about people coming back to their New Orleans homes after Katrina and finding their belongings damaged by water or covered in black mold. That wouldn't have happened at my place!

What a pain to have to undo all that, though!

I think if I see another large ziplock bag or black trash bag I'll have a nervous breakdown.

So now it's 5:00, we're hungry and we're going to see if we can find a restaurant open. There's plenty to eat here at home if we feel like cooking, but we're kinda in the mood to be waited on.

We deserve it.

More later.

Blustery Day

It's 7:15 am and we're having some sustained winds followed up with stronger gusts. You can hear the wind howling in some areas of the apartment, but here in the bedroom all I can hear is the wind in the trees. Thus far, this has been no worse than any storm with a lot of wind, except that this is much more sustained.

We still have power. Maybe we'll get lucky. There are a lot of downed gutters and branches though, and the lights have flickered from time to time, so we'll see.

I'm not terribly impressed so far, but I'm happy to remain unimpressed. I think the bigger danger may end up being from flooding. So far though, we've had very little rain. I'm going to be unhappy if it turns out I did battle with my first-floor neighbor's cat for nothing. That animal hates people and I would've happily left it there if I hadn't had good reason to be concerned about flooding.

I was too tired to stay up any longer and went to bed around 1:30. I slept pretty well and only just woke up a few minutes ago and figured I'd check the news and see how far along we are with this thing. It all looks good, as near as I can tell. Good enough that I might just go back to bed.

Now I understand why some people sleep through hurricanes. After all those preparations, by the time the damn thing actually arrives, you have no energy left!

Friday, September 23, 2005


Dan says explosions are just transformers blowing. Better than some of the things my imagination was coming up with. I've heard two so far, but we still have power. I'm gonna power down for now though, and hope I can get back online later.

Another Update

11:30 pm, still got lights, lots of wind but nothing we can't handle. Dan says he's heard the building creak a little, but I think that's to be expected. Unnerving, but sorta normal, I guess. As soon as the lights go out for good, I'm going to make a run down the first floor apartments, turn off all the breakers and grab my ice from my neighbor's freezer where I stored it.

The ice will help our fridge stay cool longer, so I don't want to grab it before I need it. And I don't want to shut off breakers now in case someone might actually be dumb enough to be trying to ride out the storm on the first floor that flooded so badly in some parts in 2001.

The say the worst of it will be in the next couple hours. Of course there's always the back side of the 'cane to consider and the potential for tornados, but I'll breathe easier once I know the eye has landed. Especially if we still have power.

Just heard something that sounded like a distant explosion. Very disconcerting. Gonna quit blogging for now.


It's 7:45 pm, candles, lanterns and flashlights are staged, so far, so good.

I wish they'd hurry and update the probabilities map, but on TV they're still saying a hit to the east around 2 am. They're saying we can expect 50-60 mph winds with gusts up to 75, or maybe even less if we're lucky. Doesn't sound too bad.

Bush Intercontinental Airport is reporting winds in the 50s, but I don't know if that's what we're having here. I only know we went for a little walk around the complex to take a few pictures of the sunset storm clouds and it was pretty blustery.

The lady on the news says we could lose power at any moment, as tree limbs come down. I'm hoping she's wrong, but I'll go ahead and post this now, just in case.

Breaking Camp

Okay, okay, I know it sounds a little crazy, but we decided around noon today to pack up and go back home. All indications are that the storm will hit to the east and we'll be on the "clean" side. We can expect winds up to 75 mph, but I think we'll be able to withstand that here at home. I guess we'll find out, won't we?

They also indicated this morning that this would be a major flooding event and they even listed my zip code as one where people should evacuate if they had flooding during Allison in 2001. My apartment building had some flooding, but certainly not to the third floor. Just a little on the first.

So, given that we had set up Camp Tidbit in a building where we really weren't supposed to be, in an area where we couldn't park the car up high to protect it from water, we decided we'd be more comfortable at home.

We decided to try to make it back in just one trip, so we left some things behind. Most of it I don't think we'll need, but I'm miffed to find that Dan left his laptop. Now, of course we can retrieve it later, but that's not the point. The point is that if we have a working land line but no power, I could've still posted to my blog and sent email if I had that laptop. But now I can't. So if you don't hear from me for awhile, that's why-- no power, no laptop.

Maybe someone else around here will let me use theirs.

Or if the roads are passable, I can always go back to Camp Tidbit and get it.

Then again, maybe we'll be okay and we won't be without power for long, if at all. A few weeks ago someone left a comment on one of the many Katrina blogs out there. They said that any old sailor knows that a hurricane always veers to the east before making landfall. If that's true, Rita may hit western Louisiana, in which case our lights just might stay on. That would be nice.

This afternoon was a pretty one-- sunny and not as unbearably hot as recently. Driving home we saw a lot of cyclists out, enjoying being able to ride the city streets without fear of being killed. Couples were out strolling, people were walking their dogs or letting them play at the parks, a few runners were on the bayou trails-- it was lovely and peaceful. It was like Houston had suddenly become a small friendly town. Everyone talked to each other, everyone smiled and waved. With so many people gone, I guess we recognized each other as fellow hardy souls.

It started clouding up around late afternoon-- high gray clouds in layers like a fancy torte. The breezes of early afternoon have turned gusty now as more and more clouds move in. I can hear the gusts passing through the trees on my property. I hope those trees don't come down.

I just checked the models and it looks like this thing is starting to turn toward the Texas-Louisiana border. Maybe that old salt was right. It's good news for us, bad for anyone in it's path. Bad for New Orleans, too. But at this point, how much more can happen to that poor city? Flooding again? Been there.

Well, I'm going to try to get a little nap before this thing starts getting serious.

Friday Morning at Camp Tidbit

I’m having a breakfast of bread pudding and watching the morning news. After last night’s confident talk about the storm passing to our east, the reporters this morning are being vague again. I haven’t yet logged on to check the models to see just why their tone has changed. Hopefully they’re just trying to add a little drama to their broadcast.

Last night I made us a big bowl of garlic and parmesan risotto in which I cooked a bit of beef jerky for meat. It came out pretty good, with leftovers for today. We had some boxed lemon tarts for dessert. I have some camp food, but I’m trying to hold off on that until and unless we really need it. For now I can use a microwave and toaster oven. There’s even a crock pot here, which I wish I had known when I was packing. I also wish I had known there were no coffee mugs, Styrofoam cups or silverware. Oh well. I’ve been able to scrounge those few items that we need.

In case you’re wondering how I managed to overlook some really obvious basics, some of it was the stupidity that sets in when you haven’t slept well in a few days and have spent hours putting things in ziplocks, cutting open trash bags and taping them to things and putting tape and cardboard over the windows. You just get dumb after awhile. We also spent much of yesterday arguing over choice of shelter. The second-choice had all the things we don’t have here, but was inferior for post-storm and had no good interior rooms, although it had lots of windowless hallways. And finally, we didn’t do our last supply run. The missing items were on Dan’s list, but we decided at the last minute to just try to find a safe place for the car here so we would have transportation after the storm. The original plan called for Dan to go home with the punch list and get a ride back with a friend.

Plans change.

Well, if I have to do this again I’ll make better plans for the plans to change.

The news this morning is all about the tragic bus fire in Dallas and the traffic and lack of gas on the highways. It’s just like we speculated last night—opening up the traffic through Houston is great, but once you’re on those two-lane country roads with gas stations few and far between, what then?

There’s a lady being interviewed on TV. She’s claiming that she and a lot of other people are at a gas station in some country town where they have gas but are preventing her and others from buying. Sounds fishy to me. Why wouldn’t a gas station want to sell gas? There’s even someone saying this station has armed guards sending people away! WTF? Urban Texans are wonderful, generous people but some of those rednecks in the little towns just leave me baffled.

We’ve heard lots of good stories though, of people helping each other, bringing water for overheated cars, taking gas to people without. It’s good to hear there’s some sense in the world. People are being urged to do whatever they can for the stranded people, up to and including offering them shelter. Wow.

Tidbit and Pixel have settled into their new digs. They were pretty confused at first and Pixel was downright unhappy. But by the time I woke up in the wee hours of the morning, Tid was going to town, bouncing around on the rug and investigating everything. Pix finally decided to forgive us for manhandling him into the pet carrier—he crept onto our air mattress with us, curled up and went to sleep.

Now we’re just waiting for the rain to begin. Once it starts raining, we can be pretty confident of not being discovered. I can post more, use lights at night (for as long as we have them) and go down hall to the restroom more often. I’m looking forward to that one!

So look for another post from Camp Tidbit once it starts raining.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Live From Camp Tidbit

Reporting here from Camp Tidbit!

We’re safely established at our first-choice shelter. So far, so good. We have TV, computer access (want to limit it, though, in case IP addresses are being monitored), lots of food, water, personal hygiene stuff, animals, books, air mattress… we’re in business!

Funny thing is that now it looks like Rita will hit to our east, putting us on the “clean” side and in a much better position than we thought we were last night. I’m half-tempted to suggest we go back home, but we’ve settled in and unpacked so unless we get caught and kicked out, we’re here for the duration.

The city was pretty empty on our trips over today. Downtown had a little bit of activity this morning on our first supply drop-off, but by our final trip with the pets at 4 pm, only vagrants and cops were downtown.

The freeways were bumper to bumper earlier today, but they’ve opened up the HOV and contra-flow to help people get out of the city. Of course this isn’t much help once you get beyond the contra-flow area and onto the 2-lane highways outside of town, but at least it gets people moving a bit and might help them reach their destinations before they run out of gas.

Or not. I talked to a cousin near Austin today and he said the gas stations were out of gas and the stores nearly empty. Austin and San Antonio are expecting heavy rain and tornados and I think Dallas expects possible flooding as well.

But at this point, unless the storm turns back toward us, we’re out of the woods.

At least as much as one can be in the path of a major hurricane.

Quick Update

Well, it's a fine mess I find myself in.

When I went to work on Wednesday, the best prediction for Rita's landfall was a fair bit south of here and as a Category 3. They closed the university at noon, but I was stuck there late because no one thought to bag the conference room equipment. Then I had to do my own and I had also brought some stuff from home to store in my nice sturdy office building and that required bagging, too.

I got home around 2 pm to find Rita was nearly a Category 5.

I started wrapping stuff in plastic, still not terribly worried because according to the best thinking of the moment, I wasn't in the projected path of a direct hit. But all that changed by nighfall and now I'm sitting in the bulls-eye of the biggest hurricane to ever threaten the Texas coast.

Oh, and did I mention that it had never been my intention to ride out anything bigger than a 3 in my apartment complex? I'm on the third floor and there will be roof and window damage. I'm petsitting on the first floor, but that apartment flooded during Allison in 2001. Yeah, I can swim, but... sheesh.

I can't evacuate. The traffic is moving at 4 mph in every safe direction and even though I topped off my tank yesterday I'll be out of gas before I hit the city limits. Too bad, because I have people who will take me in in every major city in this state. But there's no gas to be found on the roads out of town-- it was mostly used up earlier in the week by people fleeing parts further south where evacuation is mandatory. It's neither mandated nor requested for my area. I'm just not confident I'm in a Category 4 or 5 structure.


This area has never emptied out this far in advance of a hurricane! Stupid Katrina.

If Tidbit has any helicopter-owning fans out there, get in touch!

In the meantime, I have a few options I can explore. At least two of them would most likely keep me with some kind of internet capability until landfall and maybe even afterwards. At one possible shelter I might be able to get online. The other option is a guaranteed no-internet one, but it might actually be the safest one. So far Dan is resisting because it involves downtown, and glass will be a huge problem in our shiny, modern downtown. It wouldn't be a problem in the shelter I've suggested, but he's not seeing that for some reason.

And so today will be an interesting one. If you praying types would pray for an absence of hostile security guards at our shelters of choice today, I'd be much obliged.

I, Dan, Pixel and most of all Tidbit will be safe, so don't worry! I'll try to post again, but if you hear no more from me before landfall, consider me safe, high up in the enclosed stairwell of a very, very safe downtown parking garage.

Tidbit sends her love to all her fans... and wants to know what the heck all the duct tape is for?!?!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Our Weekend With The Stones

No, not those Stones, unfortunately.

I had three-- count 'em-- THREE bike ride options for this weekend and ended up not doing any of them.

So how did this happen?

Well, Dan came home from work on Friday complaining of blood in his urine. I quizzed him about symptoms and although we were concerned, nothing seemed life-threatening and there are some perfectly benign reasons for temporary blood in the urine. We figured that unless symptoms worsened he would probably be okay until the doctor's office opened on Monday. After all, it was after five o'clock and we had spent a fair sum for our Ravi Shankar tickets. He was experiencing no significant pain so we decided to simply monitor the situation.

We did, however, decide that the Gator Fest bike ride in Anahuac Saturday morning wasn't a good idea. Darn. It's a cool little ride-- not a lot of riders, good rest stops and a free ticket to the festival afterwards. Well, maybe next year.

So we went to the concert, and while we were waiting for things to get started, Dan suddenly reached around to his back and said something was hurting. "What's back here?" he asked.

"Your kidney," I said. "I bet you've got a stone."

We discussed this possibility a bit, but the pain passed and we enjoyed the concert and late night breakfast afterwards.

Saturday started out normally-- I did my long run, we went for Indian buffet, I took an afternoon nap. But toward evening Dan started having a lot of discomfort. His symptoms multiplied. By now though, it was Saturday night and I told him I was willing to take him to an emergency room if he thought something was life-threatening, but otherwise he was probably better off at home until morning. On a Saturday night, an emergency room would likely triage him last after the party night fare of car accidents, drug overdoses, etc. He could end up waiting for hours.

With Dan feeling so bad though, I thought it best to not go for either of my Sunday morning ride options. Dammit.

In the morning, with him still in a lot of pain, I took him to a minor emergency clinic I suddenly remembered. It's a neat concept, really-- it's basically an emergency room (run by one of our very best hospitals) for things that aren't immediately life-threatening, but that can't wait until normal doctor hours. I went there for an athsma attack once and was thrilled to find myself at the head of the triage line, which would've never happened in an ordinary emergency room.

At the clinic, Dan got to see a doctor within thirty minutes and was given a preliminary diagnosis of kidney stones. They wanted to run some tests so I left him there and took care of a few errands. When I came back, they had found two stones on the scan, one of which was still hanging out in his kidney, the other on its way down. They had also given him something for pain and rehydrated him a bit. One thing about kidney stones that I hadn't realized (but that I find very cool) is that in its effort to flush the stone, the body starts pulling water from anywhere in the body it can find it, leading to constipation, dry mouth and other symptoms if you're not aggressively taking in more fluids. Wow. The body is pretty amazing, isn't it? Drink your water, peeps!

So by the time we were through with all that, it was late in the afternoon, I was hungry and tired, and we decided that a nap was in order. Dan was feeling up for our usual Sunday walk later in the evening, and by the time we got home it was too late even for a ride on the trainer.

So no bike ride for me this Sunday.

I feel like such a slug.

But hey, my husband is feeling much better and sometimes you just have to put your own stuff on hold to help a person out.

Stay healthy!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Saturday Run

I had a pretty good run this morning, although the summer heat was back. For the past two weeks we've had overcast Saturday mornings with a hint of cool in the breeze, but today we were back to August temps and high humidity. Oh well. Not much more of this before we're properly into fall. And in another few months I'll be dealing with cold-temperature-induced athsma and wishing it were summer again, so there.

Nothing very interesting happened on this run, probably because I stuck to the most runner-friendly areas and didn't go seeking adventure anywhere more interesting. I did the bayou loop, then went up to Memorial Park and did a loop there, then returned to the bayou and did a reverse loop and home.

I saw no bunnies at all around the bayou today, which was disappointing, but I got a late start so maybe that's why. I also saw very few dogs at the dog park. Maybe those Alligator Habitat signs are scaring people away. I couldn't help noticing that the only dogs there were big ones, almost like the owners of small dogs are staying away. Alligator food.

I'm enjoying a lot of success with my new long-run drink. For you kids at home, here's how to make it:

  • 1 packet lemon-lime Amino Vital
  • 3 Endurolyte capsules
  • 1 packet raspberry Hammer Gel
  • 20 oz water

    I like to start with 8 oz water, add the Amino Vital, Endurolytes (break open the capsules and shake out the powder) and Hammer Gel, then add another 8 oz of water and shake really, really well. Then add the remaining 4 oz of water, shake again gently (which is all you can do when it's a 20 oz bottle with 20 oz of stuff in it) then pour the contents into fuel belt bottles.

    It tastes like pink lemonade and is oh so good!

    Recent Workouts
    Last Sunday: 2.5 hours bike, CTS Climbing video, Spinervals 5.0 Mental Toughness
    Monday: 30 minute core and upper body, 45 minute elliptical
    Tuesday: 35 minute run (ladder drill)
    Wednesday: 45 minute elliptical
    Thursday: 35 minute run
    Friday: Rest Day
    Saturday: 16 mile run
  • The Master

    Last night (Friday) Dan and I went downtown to see Ravi Shankar at the "Festival of India." I'm not entirely sure why they called it a festival since it was a performance of Indian music at the Society for Performing Arts, formerly Jones Hall. It was a concert, not a festival.

    But I digress.

    The first half of the concert was a group of musicians and singers from Ravi Shankar's ashram, all led by his daughter Anoushka. Anoushka is only twenty-four but already is a stunningly accomplished sitar player. Of course, she had the best for a teacher and got the right stuff in her DNA as well. Lucky girl. Watching her perform I couldn't help thinking that in another time or place her amazing talent would've gone unnoticed and undeveloped. What a shame that would've been to the musical world! This is why we must support efforts that promote opportunities for all, regardless of gender, race, religion or class. Think what we might be missing!

    We were told that after the intermission "The Master" would perform for us, and sure enough once we were back in our seats Ravi's students filed in and sat on the floor off to one side. Then the tamboura and personal tuner came on stage, then the tabla player (applause), then Anoushka (lots of applause), and then finally The Master himself, Ravi Shankar!

    Everyone on stage stood, pressed their hands together and bowed to him as he entered and the entire audience rose as well. Although I had sensed the vibe that we would all rise, I was still surprised that the entire audience did it.

    Ravi and Anoushka only played three pieces for us, but they were those long pieces, full of improvisation that seem to take up to six years before anyone figures out how to end it. I especially loved the way Ravi and his daughter traded the melody back and forth, getting into a little competetition as to who could do the fanciest improv work. Although they both demonstrated stunning dexterity and talent, Anoushka played with the bright and aggressive intensity of youth, while Ravi's complicated riffs had the mellower character of his eighty five years and his status as one who could showcase his skills without any sense that he had something to prove. The loving smiles they exchanged as they each took turns showing off their talents was almost as good as the music itself.

    After they had finished performing and stood up to receive our ovation, Anoushka turned to her father and bowed for his blessing. He placed a gentle hand on her head, but ended up giving her a hug instead.

    Some things are even more moving than a virtuoso musical performance.

    Friday, September 16, 2005

    Got her sari on... going to the Ravi Shankar concert! Posted by Picasa

    Saturday, September 10, 2005

    Just Another Week

    I had several important dealines to meet this week for fiscal year cleanup. Added to that were several projects that should've been simple but instead each of them had about half a dozen strange complications. Nice. Well, figuring out the complicated stuff is what they pay me for.

    Making matters worse, I haven't felt very good this week. On Wednesday I had a really nasty headache-- the kind that merely laughs at things like aspirin and ibuprofen. Nothing was touching this headache, and the fact that I had carpooled with Dan and couldn't go home only added to my overall stress levels as I tried to do budget cleanup while feeling like my head was trying to explode. Things tapered off by mid-afternoon, but in the meantime it sure wasn't pretty.

    I was glad to feel a little better by afternoon because I got a visit from a friend from New Orleans. Actually, I don't know Justin that well, but he's the brother of a very dear friend, which makes him practically family. His attitude about being unemployed and displaced from his home is really remarkable. I was reminded of that feeling one gets after a particularly long and difficult effort in endurance sport, where all the stuff in life that doesn't matter is stripped away and what you're left with is just the essentials and a beautiful clarity of thought that allows you to appreciate the few things in life that are actually important.

    Anyway, I think Justin is going to be fine. He has friends and family to stay with, he works in IT security (like who can't find work in that field these days?) and although his New Orleans apartment is basically in the middle of a lake, it seems to be intact. He might not be allowed back until November, which sucks, but it's so much better than it could've been. I mean, at least his stuff is there, even if he can't get to it.

    That was about the only interesting thing that happened this week. I spent Wednesday night and all of Thursday and Friday with some kind of minor digestive upset. It wasn't incapacitating, just annoying. I think it messed with my electrolyte levels or maybe I just wasn't drinking enough water because I had such bad cramps in my feet Wednesday night that I thought it wise to skip my Thursday morning swim. If you're getting foot cramps before you're even in the water, trying to swim is only begging for trouble.

    So after not feeling very good this week I wasn't surprised that this morning's run was kind of sluggish. My body tried to whine and complain for the first mile, but once it figured out that I wasn't falling for any of that, everything sort of worked out. I did part of my run at Memorial Park, to be certain that I would have plenty of water, food and restrooms in close proximity, given that I'd been feeling sub-par for a few days. The park was crowded, as it always is on a Saturday morning but I saw only one incident of clueless moms with strollers. Come on, ladies, if the trail has narrowed to the point where you can barely keep going side by side, can you not come to the obvious conclusion that you're blocking everyone else? Going single file until the trail widens again isn't going to kill you!

    We had intermittent showers for part of the day, which made for nice napping weather after Dan and I got back from having Indian buffet for lunch. Tonight I'm just writing a bit and getting caught up on the news. Not much going on, and similarly dull plans for tomorrow. I'm finally starting to feel a bit normal again after spending the better part of the week not sick enough for a doctor but not well enough to feel good. I'm not going to push my luck and try anything out of the ordinary.

    Recent Workouts
    Last Sunday: 2 hours bike (CTS Climing video and Spinervals 2.0 Time Trial Special)
    Monday: 5 mile walk
    Tuesday: 1000 meter swim, 1 mile run, 45 minute bike Spinervals 7.0 Uphill Grind
    Wednesday: 30 minute core and strength training, 45 minute elliptical
    Thursday: 30 minute bike (Cyclerobx video), 2 mile run
    Friday: rest day
    Saturday: 14 mile run

    Sunday, September 04, 2005

    Object Lessons

    It's been hard for me to care about my writing or triathlon stuff this past week. Ever since I realized the full enormity of what was about to happen to New Orleans and the rest of the Southern Gulf Coast, I've been focused on little else. I've missed some workouts, made some others, substituted for the missed workouts in whatever way I could when it was possible. This wasn't because I particularly care about training for anything any more (I'm putting all paid events on standby for now) but because I've needed the mental break and stress relief of physical activity.

    Already I think I could write a book about what I'm learning from watching this disaster play out. I'm still mentally processing things, with more insight likely to come after I volunteer this weekend at one of our shelters.

    But for now, here are a few things that have struck me about the events of this week.

    1. Witnessing History. Did any of us think we'd see a major U.S. city more or less wiped off the map, flooded beyond recognition, full of death, privation, looting and despair? Did any of us ever really expect to see such scenes in our lifetime? People starving in squalor in a famous sports arena, waiting in filth and desperation in a convention center and on freeway overpasses. An entire metropolitan area of 1.3 million people either fled, evacuated out afterwards or dead. All this in a week. All this in America. A major city, a cultural icon… gone. Survivors fanning out all across the American South. If they had made a movie about it, people would've happily bought their tickets, munched their popcorn while staring at the screen in fascination, but never really believed such a think could happen here.

    Take a minute and imagine your city (or the nearest large city, if you're in a small town) gone. Can you wrap your brain around it? It doesn't seem real, does it? Just a sick fantasy, a twisted mental exercise. But it did happen. It's real and it's serious.

    2. Economics. How much time has any of us spent researching or even just pondering the economic significance of our offshore oil facilities, the Port of New Orleans, the nearby ports that handle petroleum shipments and the entire traffic of goods up and down the Mississippi River? We didn't simply lose the birthplace of jazz and the home of the most raucous Mardis Gras party in North America, we took an economic hit whose effects will ripple through our economy for months, if not years.

    Will the places that have taken all the evacuees be able to hold up under the economic strain? That remains to be seen. Houston has grown by over 100,000 people in less than a week. Think about that for a minute. Can your city or town absorb that many people into its economy on such short notice? Can Houston's?

    At least 25,000 of the people now in Houston were poor even before Katrina struck. Of the other 75,000 or more, most were middle class but now their jobs are gone. Can we find work for that many people? Can we give food and aid to so many for the months it will take for them to get on their feet, either here, in their former home or in some other city? It remains to be seen. In the short term, it is staggering to witness the generosity of Houston and other areas that have absorbed New Orleans' metropolitan population of 1.3 million, as well as thousands of former residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We are indeed a rich nation that we can give so much, so quickly, with so little pain. But what will the long term hold for the people who lost everything and for the people who are trying to help them rebuild?

    3. Generosity. I have never seen such an outpouring of generosity among my fellow citizens. Everywhere I look people are giving time, money, food and clothing to the victims of this disaster. As early as Wednesday, we had two people in my building collecting for area shelters. By the end of the week you could donate at nearly every grocery store, school, office, pet supply store and professional sporting event. There were volunteer opportunities in almost every corner of the Houston metropolitan area. And if you couldn't donate your time, there were dropoff points for goods-- just pull up, unload and be on your way. By the weekend, lemonade stands had sprung up around the city as even the children tried to do their part to raise funds for the needy.

    People can say what they will about Texans in general and Houstonians in particular, but let no one ever say we aren't quick to open our hearts and wallets to those in need.

    4. Lessons Learned. This is the most important bit.

    Everyone lives in danger of some sort of natural or man-made disaster occurring in their area. When was the last time you looked around and asked yourself if you're prepared?

    If you had to evacuate, do you know where you would go, what you would take, how you would get there? And if for some reason your first plan wasn't feasible, do you have another plan?

    And what have you done to supply yourself, if sheltering in place is your best plan?

    FEMA says you need to have on hand at least 72 hours worth of food, water, medications and other essentials, because 72 hours is the earliest they can get to you after disaster strikes. Katrina has shown us that 72 hours may overly optimistic.

    If that doesn't give you some serious food for thought, you haven't been paying attention to the news this week.

    If money is tight, it can seem daunting to stock up on supplies to last a week or more. But it's not as hard as it seems. Just drop a few extra things in your shopping cart each week and you'll be surprised at how quickly your little stash builds. Buy batteries. Hand sanitizer. Baby wipes so you can take sponge baths. Toilet paper. Canned goods. Crackers. Clif Bars. Vitamins. Buy one of those pitchers that filters and purifies water. Then get online or go to a camping equipment store and buy water purification tablets. If you're in the south, buy mosquito netting and a battery-operated fan. If you're in the north, you may want a few extra blankets. Buy slowly and methodically and in a year you'll be pleasantly surprised at how prepared you are. Don't wait until disaster is immenent and the stores are empty!

    Never let anyone try to tell you you're some kind of survivalist kook just because you want to be able to care for yourself and your loved ones if something goes horribly wrong. Sometimes the very best thing you can do for victims of a crisis is not be among the needy. So buy an extra can of soup when you're at the store tomorrow. And when you go next week, buy another.

    Don't rely one anyone but yourself to save you and your loved ones.

    Remember New Orleans.

    Thursday, September 01, 2005

    Give generously to relief efforts! Posted by Picasa