Tuesday, July 29, 2008

CONFESSIONS OF A DOPER

“For 50 years bike racers have been taking stimulants. Obviously we can do without them in a race, but then we will pedal 15 miles an hour (instead of 25). Since we are constantly asked to go faster and to make even greater efforts, we are obliged to take stimulants” — Jacques Anquetil, five-time winner of the Tour de France

I confess. I'm a doper and have been for years. From the first time I tried it I was hooked. I can still remember the day. How much easier riding in the Sierra Nevada was when I used it. At nearly a mile high and in 40 to 60 mile an hour winds it made riding a breeze.

It's not EPO or any other steroid. Music is my stimulant of choice. I believe music is a drug that aids in performance (at least for me). I discovered how much it really affects my riding just the other day while riding my bike and waiting at a stop light to turn onto Queen K. One of my "go-fast" songs came on my mp3 player while I was stuck at the red light. As the song built in its pounding tempo, my body literally began to shake. "Come on light, change already," I kept repeating to myself. I thought I was going to explode from the inside; my legs wanted to crank on the pedals so badly it hurt.

The lights here in Kona can last forever. Like having too much caffeine, I was nearly shaking uncontrollably. It was getting so bad that I finally had to turn off my music or else I was going to run the light and probably get hit. I knew right then I was a doper and music was my drug. If I had it during a race I would get PRs every time.

I don't know if music affects everyone like it does me. It gets in my head and in my heart. I visualize a movie with the music as the soundtrack. I forget about my pain, my fear and my limits and just go. The harder I stomp on the pedals, the better I visualize my mental movie.

My heart races. The blood jets through my veins. My lungs are near bursting, but it doesn't matter. As long as I'm being fed my drug, I can take it. I'll throw any training day out the window and go full bore if the right song comes on and feeds my habit. I'm a cold, hard junkie. Then comes the guilt. Another chance for a great training day wasted. No intervals, no cadence training, no recovery ride, just mashing pedals in a music-induced utopia mile after mile. Sure, I make myself promises. "I'll do better next time," I tell myself. "I'll leave the music at home." Or, "I can control it. Really. I'll prove it to myself next time."

But let's face it, I'm a hardcore music junkie. They say admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery. And see, I'm already making progress. I road Thursday morning with Bree and didn't use music. Sure I had withdrawals. I had trouble finding gears, my cadence was all over the place, my feet kept falling out of the pedals (wait, that was one of our drills, I think. Pedaling with one leg. Or maybe not.) I even lost my voice, which was embarrassing. My body was in revolt. But it is progress. One ride at a time. Baby steps.

Word of warning 1: If you let music get into your very being, your soul, you too will become a music doper. If you let it grab you, take hold of your heart and become engulfed with the lyrics and beat, there's no turning back.

Word of warning 2: It's not safe to use music where there is traffic. So don't do it!!! Stay music free. Don't make the same mistakes I did. Live a long and healthy music-free training life. Not everyone can handle this powerful stimulant. You may end up doing something crazy like riding up hill really, really fast. Or singing outloud as you zoom down the road in an out of tune screech (well, maybe that's just me).

Is it cheating? I don't know. It probably is though. It boosts me into overdrive. It gets me into my "go fast" mentality. I'm so ashamed. I'm a doper.

But on the other hand, if you have no self-control (like me) or need a little boost in your performance, here is a song that sends me flying over whatever hill I'm having trouble with. I've climbed a thousand miles worth of hills to this song.

So, if you must, turn it on. Turn it up and start riding. ONE WAY BABY!!!! YEAH! FEED ME MAMA!!!


So, if you see me riding down the highway pumping my fist in the air making the No. 1 sign every so often, you'll know what song I'm listening to.

RAINY DAYS AND MONDAYS ALWAYS GET ME DOWN



"Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain."

OK, it's really Tuesday and I actually liked riding in the rain today. It was only raining for about a half-mile before I rode out of it but it was a nice relief from the heat and typical Kona conditions.

OK times two. These photos aren't from today, they were taken just before sunset Saturday when it was raining pretty hard downtown while the sun was still shining. The light was excellent — Golden hour.

Back to today, it was a good ride. Lots of wind, a little rain, good music and a day on the bike. Have a great day.

SOME RAINY DAY QUOTES
Rain! whose soft architectural hands have power to cut stones, and chisel to shapes of grandeur the very mountains. ~Henry Ward Beecher

Many a man curses the rain that falls upon his head, and knows not that it brings abundance to drive away the hunger. ~Saint Basil

Tell me how many beads there are
In a silver chain
Of evening rain,
Unravelled from the tumbling main...
~Thomas Lovell Beddoes

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. ~Langston Hughes

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

WANT A GOOD LAUGH?

Go to doodlebug's blog to see a way too funny photo of Rebecca, Karen and me taken a lifetime ago. Did I really have that much hair?

RING ... RING ... RING ...

Hi. This is Randy. I can't come to my blog right now. Please leave a message after the beep and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

TEAM WRIGHTHOUSE - THE SWIM

Today was the debut of Team Wrighthouse. We did our first triathlon team event. I did the swim, Karen did the bike and Rebecca did the swim. You can read about their adventures on their blogs (links at the bottom of this post and on the side rail)

OK, so my plan was to do the swim as fast as I could from the start for as long as I could go. A new concept for me, Mr. Pace-Yourself-So-You-Can-Finish). By the 4th buoy I was wondering about the sanity of that plan. My lats and triceps were screaming and I was sucking in about as much water as I was air on every breath.

But to backup for a moment: The swim course was two laps to the sixth buoy and back with a run up to the sea wall in between each lap. Today's race was a pretty small event, there were only 13 of us in the water which meant there wasn't going to really be a pack to gage my progress. And judging by who all was there I knew I was one of the slowest swimmers.

My start wasn't as good as I was hoping for. Team Mango always does a running beach start and although my knee is on the mend I didn't want to chance popping it out running into the water. So I walked/jogged into about knee-deep water then swam from there, which put me in last place at the start.

But I was determined to swim as hard as I could, so off I went. By the first buoy I was passing people. By the third I could see a small group of swimmers just in front of me. By the fourth I was hoping to make it to the next buoy without my arms falling off. And by the time I reached the sixth buoy on the first lap I was in survival mode. But there were a couple of swimmers right in front of me that I just had to try to catch.

All the way back I kept having negative thoughts about how I wasn't going to be able to swim another lap. About how tired I was, about how dumb it was to go that hard at the beginning. I began to slow down. All those negative thoughts were really getting to me.

video
(The video of the finish of lap 1 of the swim race.)
But my goal for the race was to not hold back at all. To try to go 100 percent at all times. My stroke had shortened because I was tired so I made my arms extend on the reach and forced them to extend on the push which made them really burn. There was one swimmer just ahead of me and I made it my goal on lap one to catch that swimmer before the beach run up. I think I caught the swimmer just before the beach. I was exhausted as you can see in the video. She passed me as we went around the cone marker by the sea wall shouting out a good-natured "Ha, I beat you." comment as she went by me. It's all for the fun, right?

My first lap time was 11 minutes and something. Slow for most swimmers, but hey, I've only been swimming for what, 9 months?

So back in the water my first goal was to over take her again which I think I did by the second buoy. I then spotted another swimmer about a buoy ahead of me and made it my next goal to catch him. My arms were like rubber. I was drinking so much water I think the water level dropped a few feet. My head was swimming (figuratively and literally - I was dizzy)

By the fifth buoy I was about 20 feet behind him but gaining slowly. I crossed over the rope so I could make the turn faster. (we had to make a counter-clockwise turn around the buoy, which meant we had to swim over the rope)

After I made the turn I saw that he had gained a little distance on me so I pushed a little more. I was surprised at my resolve to go so hard when my body was screaming to stop. By the fifth buoy I was gaining on him. Only 10 feet in front of me.

My arms were dead. I stretched out my stroke and slowed a bit. I started using my legs more trying to give any kind of relief to my upper body. I was on the verge of throwing up but I told myself "Do not slow down. Keep swimming even if you throw up!" A quote popped into my head that I thought I read once. Something about if you're not swimming in your own puke you're not swimming hard enough. It was a gross thought, but I was not going to slow down.

By the third buoy I was right behind him. I didn't want to draft him because I knew I would slow down and just hang on his feet. Two swimmers came at us head on about then. He pulled up to a stop and then went to the right around them. I had to put on the brakes as well and took an emergency turn to the left. He managed to gain a few feet on me.

By the last buoy I was just to the right of his feet. With every stroke I was gaining inches. Then I was by his knees, then by his waist. Finally, we were side by side.

Either he bumped me or I bumped him I'm not sure. We bumped again just before shore. In the video you can see him stand up and look at me. Hey, bumping is racing, right?

video
(In this video I'm the swimmer on the left as we come up to the finish of the swim race.)

He stopped in waist-deep water to run up. I kept swimming until my hand hit the sand. I knew he was going to out run me from the beach but I had made my goal to catch him. I was dead tired but happy. My overall time was 21 minutes, which meant my second lap was a minute faster than my first. Wow. That was a miracle. I walked/staggered up the beach to where Karen was waiting on her bike. Off she went. You can read about her great bike race on her blog here: Havin'fun in Hawaii.

You can read about Rebecca's awesome run on her blog at Rebecca's Page.

It was a great day and a we all had fun. It was fun watching Karen learn a couple of transition lessons and to see Rebecca push her way around the course. We did help Rebecca some, but that's OK, it was a family effort. And thanks to Karen for taking the time to take video of my swim just before her bike race.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A SWIMMIN' FOOL

Tomorrow is the Pea Mango Trashcan Triathlon and I am bound and determined to hit the swim as hard as I can. Normally I just settle into a pace that's not too hard, that I figure I can hold for the race and then swim the last 200 yards all out.

But tomorrow, I'm going out there to swim as hard as I can for as long as I can. That may only be the first 25 yards but at least it's a start ...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

MR. POTENTIAL IS BACK ON THE ROAD

"How I wish you could see the potential;
the potential of you and me;
It's like a book elegantly bound, but;
in a language that you can't read."

That is the first verse of my current favorite training song. It's just over 8 minutes long and the first 5 minutes are all instrumental with a beat that steadily speeds up. It's a great beat that causes you to increase your pace, especially on the bike, until you are cruising at break-neck speed. I love it.

YES! I'm back on Mr. Potential. That's what I call my bike because I always feel like I have unlimited potential when I ride it.
(PHOTO: Mr. Potential cocked and ready to fire. I still have my Honu number on my helmet, LOL)

IT'S JUST LIKE RIDING A BIKE
That old saying is true, I didn't forget how to ride ... It seems so long since I've been on the road that I thought I had forgotten how to ride a bike.


(PHOTO: I'm cruising along the new section of Queen K, which you can see in my sunglasses.)

I didn't go that far today, just to the airport and back, but my knee felt great. It hurt a little, but that's OK. No popping or grinding and it felt fine afterward.

I even got another cyclist in my sights while on the new stretch of Queen K just as my favorite training song came on. The sunshine,the new road, the music and finally being back on the road — me and Mr. Potential were both begging to kick it up a few notches. So off we went to catch our "competition" and feel the burn again. It was great.

There's just something about new asphalt, the sun and Mr. Potential ... I love it.

(PHOTO: A new portion of Queen K. all shiny black and new. Look at that nice wide shoulder.)

TEAM WRIGHTHOUSE
Karen, Rebecca and I have decided it might be fun to team up and do this weekend's triathlon. I'll swim, Karen will ride and Rebecca will wheelchair the run. What a team ... We may be last, but we'll still have fun.

Monday, July 14, 2008

ALMOST READY

The past two days my knee has made some real progress on healing. The bone is still really bruised (presumably where bone met bone during the marathon when the cartilage slipped), but it hasn't been grinding or popping. I did some aquajogging today at the pool and it was kind of sore afterwards, but then I came home, did some weight lifting and a little bit of time on the bike on the indoor trainer then did some stair steps and it is feeling pretty good. Almost as if I can run, which I'm tempted to try but I think I'll wait a few more days.

I may take the bike out on the road tomorrow and see how things go. If I can negotiate the hills OK without any knee problems then maybe it's time to tryout the tready.
There's a Team Mango tri this weekend I would really like to do but I don't want to push it. Maybe I can do the swim and bike and not the run. Or maybe Karen, Rebecca and I could do a relay — Team Wrighthouse!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

SWIMMING WITH KINGS

The King's Swim is a 1.2 mile out and back course that starts on the mauka (mountain or land) side of the pier and ends on the King Kamahameha hotel side of the pier which means you have to swim through a narrow, shallow channel just before the finish.

(This photo is the start of the race. Nobody wanted to be up front apparently, which is where I should have started. BE MORE CONFIDENT!!!)

Today I was the epitome of anti-confident. I meant to be confident, but I just had no confidence in my confidence (real or fake — sorry Bree). But fortunately, that only lasted a couple hundred yards. But by then the damage was done. I got in with a group of three other swimmers. One in front of me, and the other two just in front and on each side of me. That was fine for the first 200 or so yards but then they slowed way down when I wanted to speed up. I tried going between two of them but they moved closer together and blocked me. I moved to the other side and couldn't get around that swimmer either.

All three of them kept creeping off to the left as well (away from the pack) and taking us off course. Finally I had had enough. I stopped and let them swim on ahead then cut over to the right and aimed for the pack.
(Photo: Me passing the last buoy before the finish.)

For some strange reason though I kept veering off to the left all day. Normally I swim pretty straight — one of the few swimming things I can be proud of — so I was fighting that most of the day.

I was closing in on the pack (a true back of the packer, right?) as we approached the turn around boat. The turn was around the Body Glove catamaran boat and felt extremely slow.
video (This video is me just coming through the narrow channel and into the beach area to the finish. Look at those long, relaxed strokes. I was really feeling good through here. Why can't I have that stroke all the time? Maybe I should warm up for 1.2 miles every day.)

Heading back the sun was smack in my eyes on every breath. I could have breathed on the left side but I swim much slower when I do and I just feel way more comfortable breathing on my right. I never really found anyone to draft off of through the whole race and I didn't want to take the chance of getting boxed in again so I pretty much swam on my own.

With the sun in my eyes on every breath, I lost sight of the pack or either it broke up coming around the turn so I just tried to catch whoever was in front of me. Even with that goal I got passed by a couple of swimmers that I could see as I took breaths.

I kept sighting on what I thought was the finishing buoys but it turned out to be the wrong buoys and I ended up a little too far to the left and had to take a hard right to get into the channel.

I know you shouldn't compare times from different courses, but I beat my Honu (at Hapuna)half Ironman time by 3 minutes. It wasn't a great time for most swimmers but for me it's a good start. I now have a time on a course that has a permanent buoy I can occasionally check to see if I am making improvements.

I ended up sixth out of my age group and I also won a cool door prize — a 4 hour raft and snorkel cruise for two with Captain Zodiak.

Also, check out Karen and Rebecca's blogs. They FINALLY posted something new ...

Friday, July 11, 2008

PETTICOATS, SUBMARINES AND BICYCLES

Everything is funnier when you are training. Why is that?

I've been riding my indoor trainer for the past week as sort of some self-prescribed physical therapy for my knee. (Still trying to avoid having surgery on it.) So today while riding I was watching an old movie on TV. "Operation Petticoat." It's a World War 2 comedy about a submarine commander who finds himself stuck with an old and pink submarine, a con-man executive officer and a group of army nurses. It stars Cary Grant and Tony Curtis and was made in 1959.



I've seen this movie at least a dozen times (I love old war movies) and I don't think I've laughed as much as I have this time. I had to stop pedaling a few times cause I was laughing so much.

The funny thing is it's not that funny of a movie. It's just funny how funny things are when you are training. Funny, huh?

Monday, July 7, 2008

FAMILY TIME, THE TORCH OF GOD AND 40-SOMETHINGS RULE

FAMILY DAY
So I skipped out on the Hapuna Roughwater Swim. My truck was barely running on Saturday (I discovered on Sunday that a spark plug wire had fallen off) so Karen and I and Rebecca decided not to head up to Hapuna on Sunday for the swim. Instead we decided to go kayaking here in town. It's been nearly a year since we have been out on the kayaks. We planned on launching from the pier but there was a paddling competition going on so we went out to Keauhou.




That was a good decision. As soon as we got out of the harbor a huge pod of dolphins were cruising around. We just sat there and let them swim around us for about an hour. We got plenty of video, both above water and underwater for our family Christmas video that we do each year.

I'm disappointed that I missed the swim, but family time is better and we all took away some special memories of dolphins, the water and togetherness.

KALAMAKU
Rebecca is interested in paddling with the Mokuaikaua Church. Their Web site says, "Aloha, Mokuaikaua Church is sponsoring a new ministry to the disabled community here in Kona. Our goals are to help and serve our disabled participants by providing them with water activities like paddling canoe and swimming. Each participant will be supervised by some of the best watermen and women in Kona as well as professionals who deal with the disabled on a regular basis. Kalamaku is the Hawaiiian word meaning torch and it represents the Light of God’s love that Mokuaikaua desires to reflect in our community."

They meet once a month at Kailua Pier. We've ended up missing it for the past two months. In May we simply forgot and in June it was on the same day as the marathon. So we are determined to make it in July. Anyhow, while we were kayaking, we let Rebecca practice paddling. She did pretty good for her first time, but I'm glad they are going teach her the proper way. She seemed to have fun though.

40-SOMETHINGS RULE!
This is for all of us Not-so-over-the-hill age groupers. I found this on the wire at work today.

A look at a few of the major accomplishments over the past quarter-century by athletes who were past the age of 40:
— Dara Torres: At age 41, the swimmer wins two events at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, the 50- and 100-meter freestyles, setting an American record in the 50 free. She has opted not to compete in the 100 free at the Beijing Games.

— Eamonn Coghlan: In 1994, the 41-year-old Irish miler and former world champion at 5,000 meters becomes the first person over 40 to run a sub-4 minute mile. Coghlan clocks a 3:58.15 at a race in Cambridge, Mass.


(Pictured is Dara Torres, age 41.)

— George Foreman: In 1994, at age 45, the boxer regains part of the heavyweight title he lost to Muhammad Ali 20 years earlier, stopping Michael Moorer with a two-punch combination in the 10th round. Foreman captures the IBF and WBA championships to become the oldest champion in any weight class.

— Jack Nicklaus: In 1986, the golfing great wins his last major championship, the Masters, at age 46.

— Nolan Ryan: In 1990, at age 43, threw the sixth no-hitter of his career, blanking Oakland 5-0 while pitching for the Texas Rangers. The next season, at age 44, Ryan tossed his seventh no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays.

— Darrell Green: Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in February in his first year of eligibility, the Washington Redskins cornerback was 42 when he retired after the 2002 season. He had at least one interception in 19 consecutive seasons.

— Martina Navratilova: A month before her 50th birthday, in 2006, the tennis champion finished her career by winning her 59th Grand Slam title, teaming with Bob Bryan to take the mixed doubles championship at the U.S. Open.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

TOUR de FRANCE — A FAN'S PERSPECTIVE

"Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where's the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?
Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and turn and dream
of what I need

I need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night
He's gotta be strong
And he's gotta be fast
And he's gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the morning light
He's gotta be sure
And it's gotta be soon
And he's gotta be larger than life"


Last year's Tour de France was disappointing. A hero would emerge, then BAM! doping charges and he was out. A new hope would break away and BAM! doping. Vinokourov, BAM! gone. His team, Team Asanta, BAM! gone. Three riders and two teams gone for doping.


Lance Armstrong, Jan Ullrich, Miguel Indurain, Greg LeMond and Eddy Merckx. All are larger than life. They provided drama, excitement, controversy, and feats of superhuman performance. They made you stand up and cheer. They made you want to get out and ride. They were heroes. They are the stuff of legends.

As this year's tour begins, who will be the new heroes? It's easy to be skeptical. Is he doping or is he really that good? We don't want to be disappointed again. We want to cheer. We want to believe. We want to emulate. WE WANT A HERO.

Along the way of the 2,212-mile trek many heroes will emerge. New names will become familiar. A rider who has put in the work, who has been blessed with the talent and who rides from the heart will break away from the peloton and become our white knight on a fiery steed. Drug-free and pure talent.

In reality though, each of the 180 riders are all talented, excellent cyclists and deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt. No blood doping, no cheating, just racing.

So here's to the 21 stages of racing. Here's to our next hero. May it be close. May it be clean. Bring on the drama, the excitement. The sweat, the tears, the joy and heartbreak that is the Tour de France. My DVR is set, my bike's on the indoor trainer so I can ride along with the peloton and maybe even join in on the breakaway. Let's race! Allez!

Friday, July 4, 2008

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!!

What a great day! A swim in the ocean and celebrating America's independence day.

Sometimes you see something so often you stop looking at it and then one day you see it again for the first time. That's what happened this morning.

I look at my blog every day, but I don't really see it. Like that quote I have on the photo of Karen and me. I forgot how true that is. "The cure for anything is saltwater: Sweat, tears or the sea." I haven't been in the ocean for weeks and the sea brought me back.

Masters had a group ocean swim this morning. We swam to the King's Buoy and back. That's 1.2 miles round trip. That's the farthest I've swam since the half ironman May 31 and it felt great. My arms are beat. My lats, shoulders and a few other muscles are getting a bit sore and I love it. It means I'm back. I feel like I'm back. I feel fully recovered from the fiasco that was my marathon last Sunday.

"I feel good. na na na nana na, I knew that I would, now. na na na nana na. I feel good. So good. So good. I got you. HEY!" ah, sing it James Brown!


I forgot my watch so I don't know what my time was, but it felt a lot faster than my Honu time. My knee seems to be healing and I'm starting to get that urge to run again. However, I'm taking a couple of weeks off to make sure my knee is really healed up first.

Depression time over! Saltwater cure worked. A great way to start the day. Now, if I didn't have to work today it would be perfect.

Quote of the Day: "A married man should forget his mistakes. There's no use in two people remembering the same thing."

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY EVERYONE!!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

FLIP TURN — THE MUSICAL

BUT FIRST, THE ROAD TO RECOVERY
Hey! I'm beginning to feel normal again. I really believe I was so under prepared for the marathon, mostly mentally, that it is going to take me a while to fully recover. I'm going through post-marathon blues and have been pretty depressed. Worrying about my knee and that by running on it I may end up having to have surgery, I think that wore me down physically during the race.

So, back to feeling normal. I swam Wednesday. Not a long way, just 600 yards or so nonstop and then some 200s and 100s. That is the farthest I've swam since Honu. And now that my legs are starting to fire again, I can start putting in the swim yardage. I even aqua jogged a little (my knee didn't like that one). My quads are still pretty sore — stairs are my mortal enemy right now — my right foot is still feeling weird and then there's my right knee. It'll "click" once in a while when I take a step and occasionally grind, but I am praying it will get back to it's usual self soon and no surgery will be required just yet. I also did some much-needed yard work on Thursday.

I was hoping to do the Hapuna Rough Water swim this weekend, but I'll have to see how the rest of the week goes. Also Masters is swimming at the pier Friday morning instead of the usual laps at the pool so I'm looking forward to that. I love group swims. Hopefully I'll have enough energy to keep up.

AND NOW, THE MUSICAL
I've been working on my flip turns also. They are coming along slowly, but at least my feet are coming out of the water most of the time. Karen and I bought a digital camera that also works underwater. So I've been able to get some different angles of my swim and flip turns. I now have a whole list of form flaws to work on.

Anyhow, combining a new camera, a little bit of depression and way too much time on my hands, I made a quick video of my flip turn progress, or lack there of. I even threw in some music. The top video is from Saturday, the bottom video is from a few weeks ago. PRESS PLAY! and don't laugh (too hard).

video

video

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tag! I'm it

I didn't want to do this but since Karen did it I guess I will. So I guess, if anyone is left out there that hasn't done this (I'm always the last one) then Tag! you're it!

10 years ago I was:

40 pounds heavier and living on a farm in Oregon and working in the newsroom for a newspaper, raising five children, eight horses, a dozen or so chickens and turkeys, a few calves, 500 tomato plants, a dozen cats, four dogs, and way too many snakes (I hate snakes, eek!).

5 years ago I was:

Living in the desert in Silver Springs Nevada (the BEST place I have ever lived. The blue sky, sunshine, sand storms, history, wild horses, coyotes, cats, and rattle snakes), working in the newsroom at the Carson City Newspaper (the BEST job I have ever had), raising four children (one had moved out & was still living in Oregon). We also had five horses, four or five cats (before the coyotes got 'em all), three dogs and way too many snakes, except this time they were rattlers. Oh, and scorpions, too.

1 year ago:

I was 30 pounds heavier than I am now and I started biking again.

5 things on my to do list today:

Swim
Write a letter to Daniel
Eat lunch with Karen
Go to work
That's it. I don't have five things to do today ...

5 snacks I enjoy:

Chocolate
Ice cream (but not chocolate ice cream)
Peanut butter
reese's pieces or cups
Hot Tamales (which I used to hate, now, thanks to Karen, I can't quit eating them)

If I were a billionaire I would:

have $1,000,000,000 and wouldn't want to play "Who wants to be a (puny) millionaire?"

6 People I want to have lunch with tomorrow:

Willy Shakespeare (to ask him if he really wrote all those plays he's credited for writing and maybe find out once and for all which it is; to be or not to be?)

Vincent van Gogh (to ask him what he was thinking when he cut off his own ear. Stay away from lead paint, dude.)

All my favorite bloggers (if you're reading this then you are one of them)

Karen and all of our kids

Adam and Eve 

Charles Darwin (To find out how that whole theory of evolution thingy is working out)

OK. that's six groups of people pretty much.

5 places I have lived:

New Albany , Indiana
Sweet Home/Albany/Salem/Ashland/Dayton/Willamina & Medford, Oregon
Beaumont, Texas
Silver Springs & Carson City, Nevada
Honolulu/Kailua Kona, Hawaii

5 jobs I had:

Horse whisperer
Photojournalist
Graphic artist
Gas station attendant
Working in a rock quarry (Now that's the worst job someone can have)

HOW TO PAINT A MINION ON A ROCK

I've been pretty busy the past few weeks so I haven't had a chance to do much sketching. We've been taking the boys on "tre...