Archive for January, 2010


Wise Beyond His Ears

Quick Moose update:

Wait, actually, quick Moose backstory: We made the decision a while back to send Moose for some intensive training, and evaluation for working dog skills. Moose is a great dog: he doesn’t chew, destroy or otherwise defile our house, he walks easily on a leash, loves to go for run,  but he’s over 100 pounds, and very opinionated, with one hell of a territorial instinct. And while I love the fact that he is fiercely protective of our home, I’d like it if we could invite people back over for dinner.

Living in the city as we do, we realized pretty quickly that the smart thing to do would be to work with professional dog trainers to make sure our very very VERY strong dog was also a very controlled, trained dog.

So! Yesterday Moose came home after being at doggie boot camp for four weeks. Which brings me back to our Moose Update:

Assessment of his working dog potential from the trainer:

“Most ‘normal’ German Shepherds you want to see about a 50/50 split between their prey drive and their defensive drive. This is a good ratio for competition dogs, where they show both qualities. Dogs that are used for specific police (or whatever) working functions tend to trend more in one direction; Search and Rescue dogs, for example, will exhibit a much stronger prey drive than defensive, which is what makes them good at hunting and finding.

What we’re saying is, Moose could have been a $35,000 personal protection dog.”

Yeah. Apparently, Moose is closer to 80/20 when it comes to defense/prey. Which, to be fair: we totally knew that, but we were kind of hoping it wasn’t that extreme. But, he took very well to training, and the Boss and I are similarly being trained on how to control him, and I’m very pleased with how well he responded – and, frankly, seems to enjoy – the training he got. Yes, I feel like a bad dog owner (and obnoxious yuppy) for having to send my dog away for training, but I’m glad that we were able to admit that we just didn’t have the skills necessary to deal with this level of instinctive dog nature.

Basically, this whole thing reminds me of my elementary school assessment: “Lots of potential, but needs more structure.” I’m glad we were able to get Moose (and us!) the structure needed to have a happy, liability free life. And we’re looking forward to having you back over for dinner.

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My work is somewhat related to Cyber Security in the DoD space (which is about as vague as I can make it beyond “I consult,”) and as such I spend a lot of time reading articles relating to the various ins and outs of network security, be it related to cloud computing, enterprise systems, Gov 2.0, or whatever. I also spend a lot of time arguing with myself (and my colleagues) about how much EASIER (and cheaper!) it would be if the government would get it together and just use one system already, God, vs. the fact that it is so, so much safer that they don’t.

So imagine my delight when I came across this article by Anil Dash, which discusses last week’s Twitter 90 minute outage, and why we should all NOT FREAK OUT about it; after all, isn’t the web suppose to decentralize communications to our benefit?

I mention this article because it is highly relevant to my job, however this entire post is motivated by the following quote:

The Internet was designed to have no central point of failure, allowing anyone to run his or her own communications channel. This was a system that could withstand a nuclear attack.

Am I the only one who reads this quote and thinks “Suck it, Cylons, we’re not falling for THAT again!” ?


Anyway, this brings me to my point: Battlestar Gallactica should clearly be required viewing for the new Cyber Security Czar.

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They Don’t Call It the “EasyMan”

They don’t call it the ‘EASYman” is what The Boss says to me every time I whine about how hard it is training for an Ironman. And, yes, he is factually correct, it is not in fact called the Easyman, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the world’s most annoying thing to hear while suffering through the 9th speed interval on your bike training, right?

Anyway, an Ironman update: I’m quite proud of myself today for making one of the smartest training decisions I’ve made, um, quite a long time: I made someone come with me.

On tap today was a 40 minute time trial run. Even though this is a shorter workout, I haaaaaaate doing runs like this. HATE. I don’t mind intervals with rests or long runs at a comfortable pace; I can get my mind around that, I can pace that, but I have no idea how to pace for a 40 minute all out effort, and as such it ends up being 20 minutes of awesome and 20 minutes of gasping and crawling. I mostly blame this on years of doing run/walk (run for 8 minutes, walk for 2 minutes, repeat until done), which is an excellent way to build endurance and increase running confidence, but not at all appropriate for all out efforts.

(sidenote: Run/walk was how I recovered my heart from sickness and into long distance efforts. The two minute walk break gave my heart a chance to slow it’s pace down and recover, thereby not overstressing the system. Or something like that.  All I know is, I went from being ‘allowed’ to run for twenty minutes to running a 50k – that is 31 miles – using run/walk. I am a huge fan. When in peak running shape, I was passing people running “for real” while I was using run/walk. I have little patience for people who dismiss it as being lame; it is in fact a tool to get in shape and run a long distance. Plus, if I’m passing you, you’ve lost your right to be dismissive, so there 😛  /sidenote)

ANYWAY. Today. 40 minutes, time trial. My definition of huge suck. SO, knowing that I was likely to start the run all gung ho and then finish with a less than honest effort, I appealed to the side of me that really means anything: shame and humiliation. Which is to say I asked someone to come with me on the run and keep me honest.  I emailed out to my running group email list (that sounds fancier than it is, which is really just a group of people I know who all try to plan a weekend run. Of the entire list, maybe only 40% will meet up on a given weekend, but it’s a good resource to have), told them my workout and my pace, and asked for help, and thankfully there was a brave soul who didn’t mind braving the 30 degree weather to come out and babysit me while I ran.

Oh, thank God. I so would have bailed on this. Sure enough, it got hard halfway through, and I was uncomfortable, and I didn’t want to keep going, and whine whine whine “It’s not the Easyman” whine whine, but I mean, what was I going to do? Stop? This person had come out to run with me to get my 40 minutes in, and that’s what we were going to do.  And we did.

Which just goes to show, again, for the millionth time, finishing an Ironman has about 30% to do with actually being physically fit, and 70% being smart enough to figure out how to actually do it.

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A Running City

I went for a truly terrible run this morning; I wasn’t feeling it before I left, however I am annoyingly optimistic about running’s ability to be enjoyable in it’s own right, regardless of how I feel at the outset. I was wrong: it never got better, and while I suppose I’m glad I went, I think I would have rather just ummm…not gone at all. (Sigh. That’s not true. It’s always better to go than not to go. BUT I MEAN, STILL. UGH.)

I am sure lack of sleep and poor nutrition are the culprits here, and while most people would take this as hint to mend their ways, I’m instead contemplating just giving up running (kidding) (mostly).

Luckily, however, DC is a really great city to run in, regardless of how crappy the run might be. At least I had some good sights to see while torturing myself. I think I will have a very hard time enjoying running through suburban landscape if and when we ever move out that way.

Starting Out Before the Sun...

Halfway Done - Finally Light Out!

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I think I’ve lost the upper hand in my book club.

Yes, ok, so: I have a book club. And I suppose that is a massively clichéd thing for me to have, except it’s so awesome and amazing I don’t care.

About two years ago Book Club started meeting once a month on a Sunday evening to drink wine and talk about a book. Sometimes we do a really good job being a functional book club, with the seven of us discussing a book at length and other times it’s more of a “I didn’t have time to read it but let me tell you what my husband/boyfriend/mother did that totally pissed me off and can I pour you some more wine” kind of group. We met through the DC Triathlon club, though over the years our individual interest in the actual doing of triathlon varies greatly and I’d say at this point our designation of  us being “a group of triathletes” is more of a  “Hey, remember when?” kind of thing. Since our inception four of us have gotten married, two have had children (with two more on the way), and we now meet at 6pm instead of 7 because, I mean, let’s face it: we just can’t stay up that late on a school night anymore.

Anyway, there’s a been a lot of history and laughter and there’s a strong connection between us best described between The Boss and I last night:

Me: “We’re crazy to think of moving away from our extended family”

Him: “Who’s that now?”

Me: “Book club, duh”

At the end of every meeting we suggest the next month’s book along with picking a date for the next meeting. Selection of book is highly informal; usually it’s someone going “I read this review of such and such book, might be worthwhile,” etc. So at one point last year, I suggested we read a book that my stepdaughter gave me, a book that she and her friends really liked, and I thought that we, as a group of women that are all either directly or indirectly involved in the raising of teenage girls, might be interested in talking about. This was an objective suggestion based our duty to understand the world these girls are living and how we can relate and participate in that world. Are you getting this? IT WAS FOR THE CHILDREN.

Also, it was about teenage vampire with totally awesome abs.

Y’all, ever since suggesting my book club read Twilight, I have officially not been allowed to suggest books for book club. Before a suggestion can even cross my lips I’m reminded quickly about “the vampire book,” usually with a slight eye roll and “Ahem” implied. It will likely be like this for the next two years, minimum, at which point I assume they might consider another one of my suggestions, but only after reminding me about the “Twilight Debacle of 2009.”

That’s fine. I can wait. It’s not like the Sookie Stackhouse books are going anywhere, right?

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Self Esteem: High

Remember when I said when you’re married to a pilot, every solution looks like an SR-22? Well, there are a few other things you should probably know about pilots, starting with their incredibly well preserved sense of self-worth:

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Unsolicited Advice

“We can all write about suffering
with our eyes closed. You should show people
more of yourself; show them your clandestine
passion for red meat”
– Louise Gluck, “Rainy Morning”

Several years ago, I used to scan through a blog written by one of the recappers of Television Without Pity. Pamie wrote semi consistently and had built up a following of devoted and loyal readers, and was generally count-on-able for a quick hit of wit, humor, and, at the very least, distraction.

And then she’s stopped writing much. She left a note at one point, saying:

To be honest, the things I’d want to write here, the stuff that makes me enjoy writing pamie.com falls under two categories:

1. Things I’m not allowed to write about here, or at the very least I’m smart enough now to know that I shouldn’t, and

2. Stuff I want to write about but I haven’t had the time to sit down in order to write it properly.

So this place ends up being roller derby announcements and videos I saw and books I’m reading and is kind of a sad, sad space. I’m sorry. I really am, because I care very much about pamie.com. Eleven years is a long time to have this site. I just have to figure out what I’m going to do with it next.

And, I mean: who I am to argue? Life moves on and our need to share with the unidentified masses the thoughts in our head moves up and down in the importance ranking; I get it. But there’s something highly irritating about swinging by someone’s site only to read something that basically says nothing. And while there’s nothing wrong with that – I mean, there’s no final exam at the end, I don’t have to read someone’s blog if I don’t like it (“You owe me better free content! And NOW!”), the internet is really only as big as the sites I choose to visit, etc,  but I’ve been thinking about the blogs I really enjoy reading, and why I keep going back, and it really boils down to that quote from Louise Gluck: I love to read about your clandestine passion for red meat. And I miss it – I miss you – when you stop sharing.

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Tweenage Attittude

This is my stepdaughter

Originally uploaded by LizScott

Ahhh, stepdaughter. With a single look you remind me of how cool I am not.

I love this picture. Every time I look at it I have two simultaneous responses:

1. I love this girl a ridiculous amount
2. I wouldn’t be a 12 year old girl again if someone paid me a million trillion dollars. Tween/Teenage girldom? Hell on wheels  ::shudder:::

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Quick Hits

I wish I could bring you a substantive post all about the world as I see it, but I’m so tired from my stupid insistence of working out at 5am it’s all I can do to stop from slumping to the floor and sucking my thumb. So on that note, I give you a few quick hits of mildly interesting tibits:

  • We have a new blogger in the family! The Boss has started blogging about his Ironman training. He promises a new blog title is coming, now that he’s done being annoyed with DC politics circa 2008.
  • I’ve been doing some really neat stuff at work, which I’d love to talk about but can’t, except to say that the stuff I was doing today was making me wish I’d finished my masters in Statistics, and when work can make that seem fun, you know you’re doing something right. (Extreme side note to the English majors that I used to teach in Intro Stat: SEE? I told you statistics was awesome!)
  • I’ve started my Ironman training “for real”, which is to say that I’m officially scared of the 112 mile bike ride that is coming my way. Not to mentioned the 2.4 mile swim and 26.2 mile run.
  • Related: that fear was apparently not strong enough to make me actually go do my swim workout yesterday.
  • Related related: It WAS strong enough to get me out of bed at 4:40AM to get my workout in before heading into the office. Y’all, there is just no way around it: if you get your workout in before the rest of the world/family wakes up, life is so much easier. Except for the part where you’re ready for bed by 2pm.

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The boss and I are celebrating the New Year in the best way I know how, which is to say we’re in our PJ’s mainlining season 1 and 2 of True Blood (At one point in my Twilight obsession, [Team Jacob, woo!] the Boss mentioned to me that if he was going to be forced to watch melodrama concerning vampires, he’d just as soon see some boobs while he’s at it, thus: True Blood. Ahem) and for whatever reason the low-rent website we’re streaming season 2 from will only let us watch in 72 minute increments. I don’t know, technology is my friend but I don’t ask too many questions, right?

Anyway, this enforced break is giving me a chance to sit down and reflect in some truly sad news: I received a note from a dear friend informing me that on the day before Christmas, she delivered her twin babies, a boy and a girl, stillborn at 20 weeks. I don’t have much to say about this, what with it not being my story to tell and all, except to reflect on sad life can be, how quickly my heart can break for someone, and how continually impressed I am with the human spirit’s ability to cope and heal.  If you are believer in good vibes or prayer or other energy that sends intentions through thought waves, please send some to my friend and her family; I know they have it within them to heal, but it never hurts to have additional help. We’re all doing this crazy life thing together, after all, no matter how alone we can often feel.

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