Mmmmmm... delicious


Not five minutes after we left the field yesterday, my phone rang as Chookie was driving the three of us back home. I answered, and Fatty Fat Andy (Fisher, a necessary distinction in this story) asked if I could pick him up from the airport, his roommate having just bailed on picking him up in four hours or so. Kris and I had plans with Skinny Andy (Crews, see? you needed the distinction), but figured I could sneak away as needed after dinner to pick him up.

A nice advantage to living 15 minutes door to door to the airport: picking people up from it is No Big Deal.

A couple hours later, when Kris and I arrived at Skinny Andy's house, I commented to Skinny Boy that I would need to dash away around 8 to pick up Fatty, I hoped that would be okay. Skinny Boy agreed it would be fine, and hey, if we go to the Cheesecake Factory (my current favorite dessert restaurant, trumping Cold Stone Creamery as of late), we could be even closer to the airport.

So, after dinner, the three of us, along with Blue and Shadow, piled into Andy's car and off we went to the Factory. After arriving, and realizing there were no bar seats available, we decided to order to-go, including a fourth slice for Fatty Fat. We looked at all our 1500 calorie choices, and found this one:

Low Carb Cheesecake

Yes, people, you see that correctly. Low Carb Cheesecake.

The three of us looked at that cheesecake, burst out laughing, and immediately agreed that Fatty Fat would receive the Low Carb Cheesecake Made With Splenda. After all, who else would be a better candidate for such a tasty bite?

I went to the counter, and ordered a slice of the French Silk Chocolate cheesecake, a slice of the Vanilla Bean cheesecake, a slice of the Key Lime cheesecake, and a slice of the Low Carb Cheesecake Made With Splenda.

The guy on the other side of the counter paused at the last slice, looked up at me and stated, "You don't want that."

Startled, I could only respond wittily with "I don't?"

Quite the comeback, eh?

"No, you don't want that."

"Why not?"

"Low Carb? Cheesecake? They don't go together. You don't want that."

Skinny Boy piped up next to me, "But it's for a prank."

"A cruel one at that. You don't want the Low Carb," the guy behind the counter insisted.

Okay, okay, I relented, and ordered a slice of the White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle cheesecaske, my favorite after Pumpkin cheesecake.

As we were standing there waiting for our order, Kris piped up, "So, man, how far did you get with the Low Carb?" asking the guy who took our order.

He turned to us. "I haven't. I've never tried it."

"WHAT?!" Good lord, man, you haven't tried it but you won't let us order it? Dammit, man, "I'd like to order a slice."

He looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and rang one up for me.

The three of us waited for our order of five cheesecake slices, then wandered to the car to be greeted by two happy, cramped dogs, and managed to distribute our slices before Fatty Fat called, he had just landed, and would be walking to the pickup spot shortly. Off we went to pick him up.

After a round about the airport and a valiant attempt not to be shooed away from the curb while waiting for Fatty Fat, we found him. He piled into the car, and off we went back to Skinny Boy's house. Kris handed Fatty Fat his cheesecake, and we all waited with bated breath.

Two bites later, "MMMMMMMmmmmmmmMMMMMMMMmmmmmmMmm! Thanks guys! It's DEE-LISH-US!"

Unable to contain ourselves, the three of us burst into laughter.

Oh, sure, we eventually gave him the tasty raspberry slice, and, sure, we told him about what we had done.

And, maybe, just maybe, the second slice tasted better than the first.

But only in comparison.




Andy and Andy came over tonight. We talked about playing Settlers, but Skinny Andy wanted to play Diplomacy. S.Andy played Diplomacy a lot when he was in high school ("A LOT!"), and wanted to see how it played now that he was older. The game has a maximum of seven players, and is like Risk in that you conquer Europe during some giant "world" war, but is different than Risk in that you can make deals with other players, removing some of the luck of the dice from the game.

Diplomacy is played with a map of Europe, with each player controlling one or more countries, and little tiles representing armies and navies. At the beginning of each round, each player decides what a piece is going to do: stay put and defend the space it's on, move into a new space and attack any other piece that may be already occupying the space, or help another piece move to a new space which is what the navy pieces can do. In deciding these moves or non-moves, players can talk to each other. Before the discussion part of the round ends, each player writes down what he's going to do for that round, which is revealed nominally all at once to everyone.

Since I wanted chocolate souffle, I was unfortunately in the kitchen during the boys' reading of the rules. Given there are a large number of nuances in the game (one of the worst being, if you wrote it down, you can't change it), and I was absent for most of their revelations, I ended up breaking an unknown rule every round. I have to say for that reason alone, my frustration grew and grew and grew with the game (hey, you can't do that, now you're penalized; you can't do that either, go back; you can't do that either, you lose another piece; you can't do that, take it back).

We started out all of us just sitting there, trying to figure out what to do with our pieces. By the third round, we were talking a short bit, but none of us were really managing to do much with our countries and pieces. Well, except for Skinny Andy. He knew what he was doing, and was doing it well.

By the fourth round, we figured out that we could pass notes back and forth between each other. Suddenly, negotiation and, well, diplomacy were possible.

I have to say, that certain aspects of the game were entertaining. Fat Andy complaining about how everyone was attacking him, while he was leading the charge on attacking one of my two countries, was funny. That I came around from his back flanks to out manuveur him was equally funny. Skinny Andy I think would have crushed us, given enough time. Kris was, I think, overwhelmed to the point of being nearly ineffective, often forgetting to write down steps that he had agreed to during our diplomatic conversations.

We played for a couple hours, then decided to be done. I ended up both completely devastated, with Germany having only one piece, and victorious, with Turkey having the most number of pieces, the broadest number of spaces occupied, and, arguably, the best position for future conquest.

Given how much Skinny Andy loved the game as a kid, I'm willing to play again. I can't say without that motivation that I'd be willing.


Annie and the chickens


I'm innocent!

We went over to Andy's last night to drop off his bike pump from our WildFlower trip, a Rock Band set that Chris picked up from work as a freebie, and bring over dinner. Since Andy is heading off to Europe for a business trip tomorrow (his assistant staying at his house for an extended stay, with the dogs, of course), we wanted to say "Safe Travels!" before he dashed off. Bringing over dinner and leaving early were part of the help-Andy-streamline-his-evening plan.

I hadn't realized just how unexposed our dogs are to chickens, until standing in Andy's living room, one went flying by me, Annie in hot pursuit. I reached down for her as she passed, missed, and ended up having to layout for her to stop her from chasing the chicken.

Heh. Chase the chicken. They're really easier to catch than Gino was.

I ended up leashing Annie to the couch so that she could see the chickens the whole time and DO NOTHING ABOUT THEM.

Bella just stalked them. With that damn cone.

Andy showed off his Hall of Fame trophy from the UCSB Athletics program.


Wildflower 2009


So, having driven down last night to King City, Kris, Andy Crews, Marc Weinberger and I stumbled out of bed, ignoring their overwhelming desire for coffee ("Hey can we stop by that Starbucks?" "No, I don't think so."), went NORTH on 101, with directions in hand, instead south on 101, as we have mistakenly done the last two times we've participated this event. Three times a charm, and we were on our way.


And STILL arrived late.

The advantage of arriving late is that you're allowed to park in the parking lot closest to the starting line. The disadvantage of that lot is, of course, it's the farthest away from the exit when you want to leave. Fortunately, we didn't need to do that until the end of the day.

So, we arrived, parked and hustled our butts over to the registration tent.


We ran to relay table, with the three of them each going to a separate table, even though, well, only one of them was supposed to check in for all three of them. Kris won in the "check in race" and called the other two over for their numbers, bags and tags.


Bags, shirts, bike and gear in hand, the three received their numbers and walked Andy's bike into the sea of bikes ready for the transition in the bike area. The area would have held the largest number of bikes I'd ever seen in a single place, if I hadn't see the area full at previous Wildflowers.


After dropping off the bike, well, the waiting began. The relay was the last group to go, in the various waves of people who started the triathlon. The first group to go is college men, followed by college women. We were so late arriving that the first wave of college men had already left by the time we mosied to our waiting spot. We had scoped this spot out our first year here, and it's worked well for us. We sat and waited. Kris had made a crucial mistake the first year in not sitting during the two hours before the race even started for the team, much less the next two hours before he was ready to run - he was exhausted before he even started running.

So, we sat.


And waited.

And waited.

When I personally wasn't sitting waiting, I was in line waiting.


Surprise there.


Eventually, the older age group waves left the starting point, and the team in training waves started. There were a surprising number of team in training waves, maybe four, two earlier and two just before the relay waves, all with purple swimming caps.

For the record, everyone looks stupid in those swimming caps.


Eventually, an hour and a half passed, and Marc figured it was time to head down the ramp. I offered to gather Marc's extra stuff, and went down the ramp with him. I verified he had on the timing tag, which Kyle almost forgot the first year. I then made sure he made a beefcake pose, and wandered back up the hill.


Sorta. In reality, I wandered out low on the the peninsula so that I could take some better, closeup pictures of Marc.

To my surprise, Marc started in the middle of the pack. I was surprised because he hadn't done any pack starts before. This was his first long open water swim(but, thankfully not his first open water swim). I don't know, I just figure the jostling in the middle of the pack is a bad introduction to the whole open water swim.


And, apparently, I was right.

Kris and Andy, sitting at the top of the hill, had a better vantage point than I did, and noticed that about 30 seconds into the swim, Marc just stopped in the water and threw up his hands. He wasn't wearing a wetsuit, so it wasn't to take it off, as Robin had done last year. I missed the stop, so didn't realize something had happened.

Marc came out of the water at 39 minutes and, to his credit and word, he ran up the hill into the bike transition time. Despite the fact he had to run up the hill about 100 yards, around the corner, another 100 yards back down the bike area and around the corner to where Andy and Kris were waiting, and I had to merely negotiate around dozen RVs and run 50 yards outside the bike area, Marc nearly beat me over. I did manage to capture some on video, so I wasn't too upset, just surprised.


And annoyed, when Kris and Marc spent a good 10 minutes inside the bike area, going over what Marc had experienced. I had to yell at them to get them to come out and let me know what happened.

What happened was Marc was kicked in the face about 30 seconds into his swim, which was when he stopped. He took a few minutes to settle, before swimming again, taking about half the swim to recover fully. He didn't expect to finish under 40 minutes.


After Andy left the bike transition zone and we chatted, we then had another hour to wait for Andy to return. Andy had suggested we try Google Latitude to track his location on the racecourse, but decided against trying when we realized it would require cell phone coverage, which we couldn't guarantee.

What I find interesting about this time is how much the spectators and participants clear out. Before Kris leaves on his run, the first five, six, maybe 10 waves are done with the whole thing, not just the swimming and biking part. The crowds lessen and the event has more breathing room.

I like this part, except for very end, when I have to brave the crowds AGAIN for Kris' finish.

One of these years, I'm going to just write a number on my arms and go into the bike transition area, maybe holding a swim cap in my hand, a cap of any color, I don't care. I'm going to do this, because I'm annoyed that I miss so much that happens IN the bike area.

As Kris and Marc waited after about an hour and ten minutes and Kris' warmup, I had to wait outside the bike area, on the other side of a fence, about 25 yards from them. As is my current custom, I stood under whatever shade I could find, which happened to be under a Powerade flag that was just barely not vertical, and provided enough shade to keep my arms out of the sun if I stood just so.

Well, the spectators and participants start moving out of the area, right? That means the clean up starts, even though the race is far from over. The Powerade clean up crew decided that now as the time to move the flag / ad, JUST as Andy came into transition the timing chip to Kris.

For the THIRD year in a row, I MISSED THIS HANDOFF. I have no idea how I keep missing this damn handoff, and have to sprint to the top of the hill to take pictures of Kris on the far side, but I miss it EVERY TIME. Quite annoying.



Okay, third person in this three person relay has started his run. We three decide to wander, not really hustle, since we knew we had at least half an hour past when I was done taking pictures of his start, until Kris would come down the finish line. Andy and I figured if we could find a spot in the bleachers, we would sit there for a while.

Delighted, we did find a space to sit. Two rows, actually, were empty right in the middle of the bleachers. We couldn't believe our good luck.

That is, we couldn't believe our good luck until we realized why the seats were empty.

A woman just behind the seats and to the side was ringing a fucking cowbell.


It was loud.

It was annoying.

No, it was FUCKING annoying.

And it was causing me to go deaf.

We left.

Andy took one camera, I took another, and we wandered over to see if we could capture Kris in all his finishing glory.

The group finished in 4:46:22, which was a time of 2:46:22 if you clear the two hour wave delay.


After Kris had finished and managed to push through the annoying crowd that overwhelms the finisher, we found him standing along the side of the area, water in one hand, a finisher's towel in the other, and a finishers medal around his neck. Entertainingly, neither Marc nor Andy wanted the medal after Kris offered it to him. It's not like it's a gold medal or anything.

I had run into Jane a few moments earlier, pushing her two kids in a stroller. John was participating in the triathlon, and Jane was along for the ride. Or, as she put it, John's been to so many ultimate tournaments, this was the least I could do to support him.

We went off to get food and, for the boys, beers. I ate strawberries and the cooked cabbage I had brought, because, really, who doesn't love cooked cabbage?


When eating, I started people watching. I thought it very strange that a woman would sit down in the middle of a major walking throughfare, blocking foot traffic, then become annoyed when people had to step over her and around her. Had she sat anywhere away from Andy, she would have had no problem. Even though sometimes it's easy to complain, I have to say that it's often easier just to think about what you're doing and do something better.


Like the traffic rent-a-cops at the roads when we were leaving. Rather than letting two inflows of cars just zipper at a junction, they let cars from one side go for 5 minutes, then cars from the other side go for five minutes. Frustrated at their lack of efficiency, I suggested an alternative, to which they just became enraged at, how dare someone question their authority?

Yeah, well, just because you're waving traffic along, doesn't mean you know how to do it efficiently. Not that they had any motivation besides.

The drive back was uneventful, other than I nearly ran out of gas, stopping for a refill at the station near Andy's house. If Kris hadn't driven the car so efficiently on the way down, there is NO way we would have made it down and back in one tank. I have to wonder about my driving style now: it's costing me around $10 a week to drive so inefficiently compared to Kris.

Update: Marc was the bottom quarter of the open relay teams. Andy was the fasted in the open relay bikers. He finished in the 3% of all the bikers in the competition, including college and open. Kris didn't do as well as he wanted, but still shaved 2 minutes off last year's time. A successful triathlon. As Kris said, "Ah! I want to do it again!"

Settlers game night and eggs 18, 19, 20, 21




Heather arranged for a game night tonight. Andy came over early with six eggs, to bring our 30 eggs up to 36 eggs. Fortunately, we used up four of them immediately with our double crepe recipe, to feed the group who was heading over: Heather, Andy, Chookie, Doyle, me, maybe Shirley and maybe Kris after his geetar lesson.

We started the evening with tile rummy, when only Chookie, Andy, Heather and I were around. I think we spent more time explaining the tiles and the game than we actually spent playing. The game was close, with all of us having one tile until Andy had none.


Doyle showed up while we were playing tile rummy. Now, I'm very excited Doyle showed up. Last time we played, Kris beat Andy and I in all three games. I needed Doyle to show up and take Kris down a notch. That Doyle has won nine games in a row is of no consequence in my mind.

Our first game was much longer than I expected it to be. To my surprise, on the round before the end, I realized if I snagged the longest road (as Doyle says, "the false god") from Andy, and built a city, I could go from last place to 10 points and win. So I did.

Not only did Kris not win (since he wasn't playing, this was a given), but I did. WOW! Not bad for my fourth time playing. Though, I guess that's part of the charm of Catan: a lot of the game play is designed to level the playing field, so that even sucky-suck players can get lucky sometimes.


Eggs 11, 12, 13 and 14


Why yes, slaving away in the kitchen IS what I like to do on my Saturdays. Why do you ask?

What? What?

Why, yes, I did use another four of the thirty eggs.

Andy came over this evening. He was following my milkshake thoughts and was out wandering the world, searching for the perfect chocolate milkshake. He failed, but was willing to stop by and play Settlers with Kris and me.

I had started making brownies, which I don't believe influenced his decision, but did use up eggs 11, 12, 13 and 14. Since I found my favorite hot chocolate recipe in the chocolate cookbook we received at our wedding, I've been more willing to try the overly complicated recipes in the book, these brownies being the latest recipe.

Other than the fact I burnt the brownies, clearly because I was so engrossed in playing Settlers that I forgot to check on the brownies (with that cursed oven which can't keep a steady, calibrated temperature for anything - if nothing else will push me into rebuilding the kitchen, that oven will), the recipe was amazing, and the brownies were incredible. It's a recipe I'll make again.




Oh, and Andy and I need to play WAY more Settlers. Kris beat us three games to zero. Sigh.

Andy and Sprint 8


I am infinitely entertained that Andy's home page is my Sprint 8 page. I rank 6th at Google for the term 'sprint 8' if you remove duplicates, 8 if you don't. Not bad, considering the entry is just a blog post about my first time running a sprint 8 workout.

So that you know...

Sprint 8 is a workout of 8 30 second sprints, with a minute and a half recovery time between sprints. The whole workout is done, if you include warmups, in less than half an hour. The workout should be done three times a week.

The hypothesis (not fact, not theory) behind this workout is that the intense effort of the workout increases the natural levels of "stay-young" hormones in your body, with a minimum of effort. Personally, my "minimum" effort in a sprint 8 is still a lot of effort.

Lockwood hike and home


Kris and I managed to sleep most of the night through last night, with Kris' waking to the smell of Andy's coffee and my waking to the thud of an excited Blue landing on top of me, bringing the tent down in the process.

Nothing like using a sixty pound dog as wake up call.

That same dog makes a great escort in the middle of the night when there might be coyotes and other large animals roaming around, and you're not sure if it's safe to walk around the small building, across a small open space to the other side of the hilltop, in order to pee.

Andy thinks that Blue didn't actually sleep last night, that he maintained watch the whole night. I know that Annie wriggled her way out of the tent in order to sit watch for a while. She did, however, recognize the warmth of the tent, and wormed her way back into the tent, sitting on Kris' head in the process.

This morning, I was, unsurprisingly, the last person up, with Bella being the last of the seven of us actually getting up.

After breakfast, a meal that Bella thought meant, "We're going home!" but really meant, we're heading off for another hike. Having climbed to the top of the hill he'd been wanting to climb, and discovering another hill beyond it, he decided he wanted to climb THAT hill to see if there was another hill beyond it.

Interestingly enough, I think all of the dogs have decided that I am the source of all that is good. That is to say, food.

So, off we went on our hike, pretty much following the same trail that Kris and Andy (and Blue and Shadow and Annie and mostly Bella) took yesterday. The six of us (where the six of us were the seven of us minus Bella, who was, once again, on her own hike again) went out the back way, down the hill, up the next one, and along the ridge. Up and over a couple hills, to the top of one hill, to discover the next range of hills after that range.

For the way back, we decided not to go back the same way we came up, and opted instead to hike back "towards the water tower." We found a copse of pine trees, though how they survived, much less grew so big, on the top of the hill with little water, I have no idea.

Bella kept up with us, following her own path, sometimes being ahead of us, sometimes being behind us, but always walk walk walking at her own pace.

At one point, I stopped to squat, and Bella passed me, to catch up with Kris and Andy. Kris decided to wait for me, Andy decided to continue. At that point, we lost Andy. He went off either down toward a large ravine or down towards a dropoff of unknown height. We decided to try to the left, towards the large ravine.

After a few hundred meters, Kris was less confident about the direction we were going, so decided to turn around. Bella was in front of us when we made this decision, being the only dog with us. I hurried up to her, turned her around, and hustled her back the way we had come.

We had walked just far enough for Bella to disappear over the hill we were scrambling up when we heard Andy call out to us, why were we walking back the wrong way? Eh?

We called for Bella to come back, but, being on her own hike, she just kept going. We turned back back around, headed back to the ravine, scrambled up and around around the ravine, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Must to my pleasant surprise, Bella figured out our mistake, had turned around, and was coming back our way. She didn't seem too pleased about our mistake, deciding not to greet us when she caught up to use, and just walked right by.

Much like yesterday, according to Kris.

We wandered down to the bottom of Crews Hill, walked up Crews Road to the top of the hill, and gathered up our stuff. The dogs were sufficiently tired out to sleep all the way back home.

I'm happy to say when we made it home, I was able to stop by a Starbucks and buy a hot chocolate. A premium hot chocolate.

One I'd been talking about for the previous day, to Andy's consternation, I think.

Walk back


Lockwood evening


Without electricity or running water, we didn't stay up late. Kris and I put up our tent. Kris serenaded Andy and me with his electric guitar and portable amp (runs on 4 C-size batteries!). We all played cards. The dogs begged for food, but received none. Blue decided he was a lap-dog. Bella decided she could sleep in a tent, and we all went to bed. Early night around 8 or so and a good day.