artlung.

Racquetball / Confession / Marriage 2006 Feb 17

I played racquetball last night.

I am sore with a capital SORE.

Aleve is my friend.

The backstory is that Back in August I posted mentioning looking for a partner here in Simi.

And last week, that call was answered, dude.

I’ve gained weight, but I was able to make some good shots. Didn’t overtax my system, but I needed long breaks between games.

We’re playing again next week.

Rock. Rock. On.

I went to Confession yesterday for the first time in 19 years. It seems my marriages (not in the Catholic Church) put me in a state which is not viable for receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This bums me out, but the priest was very nice, and had good advice for me, so I’m going to look into those options. Leah was very nice to me afterward. She could see how shook up I was by it.

Organized religion comes with some challenges, yo. They have rules. I want to run away from those rules, but navigating them is something I want to do, since I feel so strongly that it’s the Catholic Church (present and past) that has been a catalyst for the change that has taken place inside me in the past week and a half.

In other news… did I mention I was sore? It feels kind of good though, I definitely worked muscles I have not worked in a long time.

A., who I played with (and lost 3 times to) is to be married in India. Traditional marriage. It is said that arranged marriages are:

…more successful than other marriages. They hold that the spouses in an arranged marriage begin without any expectations from each other, and that as the relationship matures, a greater understanding between the two develops, aided by their often similar socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. In contrast, they feel that persons who enter into a marriage for romantic reasons often begin with unreasonable expectations, with little room for improvement but a great chance of failure.

Something to think about. Although I think marriages succeed and fail all the time, be they romantic, arranged, economic, or whatever. The question is really what kind of effort — spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical — you’re willing to put into them. Are you willing to be a partner who is there when things get hard? Sickness, health? Richer, poorer? Because life can get pretty rough brother. It gets really rough.
I am bringing, moving, pushing my actions (which have been slack) to match my passion and love for Leah, and for our partnership.

College; Racquetball Grade 2004 Jan 22

So it is looking like I need about 30 units of Community College work (more or less) to get into UCSD. I talked with a super-nice Transfer Counselor and essentially it looks like 30 units or so will get me in there. My current academic state is sort of ambiguous. I have 90 or so units which contributed to my Associate of Science – but as these were from Virginia, they don’t necessarily transfer, or not, to the UC system. I also have some units from UCLA Extension, from whom I’ve now requested a transcript. Though there’s no guarantee that any of those will transfer. I also have a few additional, much older units from San Diego here, which may transfer (though those were from when I was a paltry 17 and 18 years old, and some are not so hot). Still, they may count for something. So now I’m collating all these things and will talk to a counselor at City or Mesa College about what I can make with all these ingredients. Best case scenario would be TAG or IGETC into UCSD in Spring 2005, but I’d have to have all 30 units in time – unlikely. Likely scenario is to matriculate in Fall of 2005 as a Junior. Likely majors for me include, in no particular order:

  • Cognitive Science/Computation B.S.
  • Cognitive Science/Human Computer Interaction B.S.
  • Biology with a Specialization in Bioinformatics B.S.
  • Computing and the Arts B.A.

The goal continues to be Masters degree in 5 years. It looks like I can be enrolled in 2005, plus 2 years is 2007 for my Bachelor’s, which gives me 2 more years for a Master’s if I’m to get it by 2009.

So, we’ll see.

Oh, and I got an “A” in Racquetball, 0.5 Credits, from last semester at City College. So I’m already a student there, really.

My Racquetball Grade 2004 Jan 07

Remind me to check my grade at Student Web Services Online. What’s up with the system not being online in the middle of the night?

Racquetball Class 2003 Dec 16

Is over. I may take it again sometime soon. I did well, and got good workouts. My ankle still hurts but has improved. Work is fine. Preparations continue apace for Christmastime. Found some older mouse droppings the other night. Bas smelled them, and with luck is primed to take action should he find the creators of said droppings. Though we’ve had no signs of mice for a while.

Still very busy now. I look forward to peace and quiet of vacation/holidaytime.

Election Day + Racquetball 2003 Oct 07

Work today. Also, I need to figure out when I’m going to vote — hey that was easy. I think I can vote before work. Other news: racquetball tonight. Also, the office is much cleaner now. Oh, and I added some Smorg items yesterday: my July 4th walk, further documented in the blog, also, a new item was added in photos, a neat prank at work that took place a few weeks ago.

I think the recall is a bad idea, but at the same time I have a sense that this is what democracy actually looks like. It’s bizarre, you have a million choices, and in this attention economy, all it actually takes to be a statesmen is to have a good Q Score. I have a sense that this is what an election in Italy must be like. Hundreds of entrants, and a few strong, bullying contenders.

My Prediction: Arnold will win, and he will be BAD for California. I’m voting “No” on the recall.

Racquetball Frequently Asked Questions 2002 Dec 21

This is cool — common questions about racquetball — with simply worded answers. Like How do I get more power from my backhand? and Can I let the ball hit the front wall TWICE before I hit it?.

About Racquetball 2002 Oct 30

It’s the poor craftsman that blames his tools (or racquet). I’m playing this afternoon.

Racquetball Update 2002 Feb 05

I’ve been making references to racquetball since September (just search for racquetball on artlung.com). And I’m still enjoying it. I started playing every weekend, and now am playing basically twice a week – with family and friends. It’s a fast, fun game. It’s precisely the right game given that you are unaware of the exercise aspect of the game while you are doing it. Moreover, there’s strategy required in the same way as a game like pool. You choose your shots in ways that will bank and bounce away from your opponent. And even better, it’s all in 3 dimensions, rather than pool’s flat plane. It’s also an excellent twitch game. Like Quake or Unreal, the action can be very fast as the ball careens through the court.

I’ve never been a thin person, which has roots in genetics and dietary habits. However, in my early 20’s I was actually sort of happy with my physical state. I was not unattractive to the opposite sex, and I could bound up several stairs in the hospital (where I used to work) to get to a code blue or deliver a blood sample quickly and without losing my breath.

Sometime in making the transition from being a Respiratory Terrorist to Web Designer, I stopped exercising altogether, save the occasional trip to the beach (when one was available). This turns out to be bad for your health, and I ballooned. This rightly worryied my parents. But worse than my shape, my tolerance for physical activity was lessened. I don’t give a care what I look like, save to my wife, but being incapable of going up stairs or on a hike is an ego blow of the highest order. The regular racquetball has addressed some of these issues, and I can actually feel an increased tolerance for long walks and stairs. And most clearly, my tolerance for lots of racquetball has increased! Heh.

I despise exercise for exercise’s sake. I have envy who can muster enthusiasm for going for a run — which seems utterly pointless activity to me. Running seems like a means, not an end in itself, and certainly not pleasurable. But some people are wired to enjoy, or are willing to force on themselves walking, running, treadmills, exercise bicycles.

Perhaps as I age I’ll appreciate “just taking a walk.” But for now, I’m going to stick to racquetball. When summer comes, I’ll add bodysurfing and snorkling back into the mix.

Racquetball Championships on ESPN in February 2002 Jan 25

Another steller morning playing racquetball… 2001 Dec 01

Another steller morning playing racquetball. I can definitely feel myself getting better. My patience with the game (knowing when to be aggressive and when to dial back and just volley) is greater. One thing I do know – killshots are satisfying, but not as much fun as a nice rally.

What else am I up to today? Well, I spent about 45 minutes using tweezers pulling bits of grass and brush out of my favorite green wool sweater. I made the mistake of wearing it when we went out to the Laguna Mountains to watch the meteor showers a few weeks ago. I got quite a bit of the woods caught in the wool and there was no simple way to get it out. I tried Jenny’s lintroller and that brush just laughed at me. Thus, the tweezers.

I can’t think of a single thing you have to use tweezers for that is a good thing. I remember when I used to work in the ER little kids would sometimes get cockroaches caught in their ear and they had to go in there and get it out, which is a tricky operation, because when you have a damn cockroach in your ear, you sure as heck don’t want to stay still.

What was I talking about? Oh yes, some things are difficult work, and can only be done with patience and special tools.

Court configuration of Racquetball, from the Official Rules from the USRA… 2001 Sep 29

Court configuration of Racquetball, from the Official Rules from the USRA. See also the Rules for Everyday Racquetball Play.

Played racquetball over the weekend… 2001 Sep 17

Played racquetball over the weekend. Man, am I ever out of shape. But it was fun. Need to get a new racquet though – mine is about 10 years old. The newer racquets seem to have grown in a decade. Presumably some change in the rules of racquetball, or something.

Anyone want to play some racquetball? I’m out of practice and (very) out of shape.

I’m like one of those greyhounds at the dog track. I need an electric rabbit I can chase as motivation. For intellectual things (reading, art, web development) I am self-driven. But for things physical I don’t care. Racquetball may serve as electric rabbit for me.

Terms 2006 Feb 22

Separation

Song of Solomon

Rick Driving

Counselor

Racquetball

Lent

Couch

Sunshine

ManKind

Tools

Wailed On

Walk Over

Honesty

Commitment

Contract

A Deal’s A Deal

Basketball Standard

Volvo

Shower

Orange Crush

Honesty (reprise)

Love

Class

Intention

Deadline

Integrity

Redemption Song 2006 Feb 18

It’s a brand new day.

I have riches untold.

I am blessed.

Leah’s is in San Diego now, visiting our friend Mickele.

I let my folks know what’s up with me, and Leah, and the Church. They’re more supportive than I ever would have thought. And yet I find myself unsurprised. I love them.

Tomorrow I’ll go down to San Diego and pick Leah up and we’ll go to the Family Reunion thing for my Pop’s side of the family. We’re looking forward to that.

Another morning, some more tears. Must be a brand new day.

What’s a good affirmation from my handy-dandy list o’ affirmations? Here’s a good one:

“I am a child of God and I deserve Peace, Prosperity, and Serenity”

And even a better one, to remind me that dedication to the truth rocks:

“The pain that I might feel by remembering can’t be any worse than the pain I feel by knowing and not remembering”

To top it off, I’m still sore from racquetball. I have a few days to recover before I play again.

Cold here. Rainy yesterday. Now? Bright blue skies and fluffy white clouds.

That cycle, rain yesterday, blue skies today, feels like a redemption cycle.

There is hope.

Minimal Brushy Angst, 1988 2005 Aug 26

Minimal Brushy Angst, 1988

I like this one a lot. So minimal. So few strokes, but it works as a whole. I like it.

Updates: we were given the great gift of a gym membership and last night we used it for the first time. Leah and Dev and Alex to a Tai Chi class, and I went to the pool and swam laps. Great stuff. I’m sore all over, which sounds like exactly the right thing. I’m very happy with that outcome. I have a lot of extra fat on me which impinges on my ability to do what I want to do.

Granted, I can lift stuff, and move stuff, and get around, and even walk a lot, but it’s hard on my body, my joints. If I were a car, I would be in need of a tune up. So I think that’s what this is.

I’m toying with making it a goal to swim laps every day. The place is open pretty late during the week, so we’ll see.

This morning is pretty, though it looks like it’ll be a hot day. We’ll see.

In other news, if you’re in Simi Valley and play racquetball, and are a middling player, give me a shout. Wanna partner?

In yet other news, I have failed to see both War of the Worlds and Fantastic Four in the theaters. We did see March of the Penguins, which was great, but it vexes me to not have seen WotW and FF on big screens.

In yet other other news, yes, the comments system for the site generates errors right now. It’ll take your comment, but it’s ugly. Rest assured, I’ll get your comment. If you resubmit, it’ll come in twice. Yes that stinks.

Okay, gotta get going. Leah’s off to work. I’ve done some email and blogging, and it’s time to begin the workday.

Requiem for Tuesday 2005 May 17

Today was an odd mix.

I awoke to an odd sound – it sounded like a knock at the door – and I was a bit _off_ all day since then. Work was fine — a mix of HTML, graphics, JavaScript, and even a bit of Flash. I had a PB&J for lunch. After work I got groceries — including wonderful items such as a jar of jalapeños, pinto beans, and soy milk. I also picked up some basketball inflation nipples. We have two basketballs and a football that need inflating. _Now in which of the boxes in the garage is the bicycle pump?_

I’m feeling a bit funky. I think I’m tired. There’s also a nagging feeling that I’m missing something. I think I need to get back to counseling. I wonder if I can find a good one. I’ve got good stuff going on two cylinders — but I think I need a tune up. The key thing is to take care of _me_. I’ve taken the time to take care of the house and the home and work things to the best of my ability — but I think I need to do more to figure out what my own short and long term goals are. Signing up for school and getting into the local Library (thanks Greg for the comment, by the way — I’m impressed by the library as well — I already have some things coming from the Camarillo Library!) is a big part of getting that done. We’ve been so busy what with the move and the seemingly endless process of unpacking boxes and creating a home — I need to remember to do those things that contribute to my own mental health. Some biggies that have been missing: exercise (swimming and racquetball in particular), working on my own projects, and reading.

This week I intend to take some photos in the house to share here publicly. With luck we’ll help you guys get a mental picture of our environment and whatnot.

It’s nearly time for bed. And hey, when was the last time I wrote…

_onward_?

“You look just like your dad!” 2005 Apr 29

So Wednesday night, while Leah, Dev and Tony were at music lessons, I was here with Ali and Ty. My idea was to go explore the stuff around here that the kids had not seen. The pond, the fields, the basketball court.

The kids, eagerly accepted this idea. This could even be fun!

Al and Ty are close in age — 12 and 14. The dynamic changes without their older and younger brothers. Kind of fun. They’re both playful and teenagery in a way that T (10) and D (16) are not.

Anyway, we had a blast exploring the catch-and-release fishing pond. Not that we fished or went in, but we walked along the bank. Both of them walked over a narrow set of rocks at the edge. This is a set of rocks that I would think it would take a Cirque du Soleil acrobat to walk across. Ty was the first across and went for it before even asking me if it would be okay. Water on both sides — algae-filled cold water — I know that *I* would not go across the darn thing. Ali started to go across, then was being goaded into it by Ty, so she didn’t go for it.

Then we went further in, in search of the loudly croaking frogs we heard. The frogs, intimidated by the sound of exploring teens (technically Ty is not a teenager, but he’s close), shut up and we did not see any frogs. I kicked myself a little for not bringing a flashlight, as it was getting duskier by the second.

Ty calls out to me “hey can I go get this softball I see” — when Ty asks permission that must mean it’s hard to do or possibly dangerous. My stepfatherly reply was “If you can get it without getting wet and not hurting yourself you can do it” — so he went for it. Meanwhile Ali retreated back to the rock line. I noticed this as I was trying to get further into the thick brush. So I retreated a bit as well, and what did I see but Al going across the rocks. Seems like she needed the _lack_ of an audience to go for it. Fascinating.

I’m reminded of the scene in _The Killing Fields_ where the Malkovich character is trying to develop a fake passport photo for Dith Pran so he won’t have to go into the now Khmer Rouge-controlled Cambodia. He knows a life is at stake and he’s trying to develop this film with some jury-rigged chemicals and another guy. After two mistakes where the image blows out he asks the other guy to just get out and to let him do it himself.

With three brothers, Alejandra I think feels that way sometimes.

Anyway, eventually Ty found the old softball, which Al wanted no part of whatsoever because “who knows what was on it — so GROSS.” We continued to walk. Both of them wanting to walk on whatever high, narrow ledge they could find – walls, fences, rocks, whatever. It’s really inspiring to see them want to use these amazing tools — their physicality — that they have. Makes me think, hey, I need to get in better shape to keep up with them!

Fast forward pass the slides, swings, basketball-with-a-found-softball, watching some grown men play their softball game quite well. Al, who plays softball, remarked that these paunchy guys were pretty good. Indeed they were, 30 and 40-something guys playing slow pitch softball. I’m gonna have to look into that. Though I don’t really care for baseball or softball. I’m definitely jonesing for some racquetball.

Any readers out there in Simi Valley and wh0 play Racquetball? Give me a note.

So eventually we’re rushing to get some drinks, as we’re tired and flushed from all this activity. We went up to the local Ralph’s — maybe a mile away total. Anyway, Al gets a Diet Dr. Pepper, Ty get a Sobe, and I got a Mountain Dew. We’re waiting in line and the guy ahead of us in line — a thin 40_50-something thin fellow with a well-trimmed beard — he turns around and sees us, breathing hard (yes, all of us were breathing hard, not just me, the paunchy 30-something guy!) and says to Ty “You look just like your dad!” — and Alex, Tyler and I all look at each other and give out the biggest giggle ever. We can’t stop giggling and looking at each other and the dude says “you guys are a group, right?” — and I do eventually correct him, gently offering that “Well, I’m a stepdad” — and the guy winces minutely and says “Well that’s cool isn’t it that you look like each other yeah?” — I admit that yes it is.

The fellow in front of us tried to enlist the woman in front of _him_ in line to corroborate that Ty and I favor each other. She was a bit hesitant, and makes off with her groceries before really committing to the idea.

It was a good night on Wednesday.

Scenes from Memorial Day Weekend 2004 May 31

Friday night, Leah’s kids arrived for the weekend. In good spirits, nearly done with their semester at school.

We went to Mr. Frostie in PB for ice cream. It was lovely.

On Saturday:
Teaching racquetball to two of L’s kids: they did okay for kids aged 13 and 11. My Aunt was stuck in L.A. the night before and was unable to attend. Rather perfect timing.

Attending Super-Size Me with Leah and Kids at Landmark’s Hillcrest. SSM ranks among the best documentaries I’ve seen in the modern era. Crumb, Hoop Dreams, Roger & Me, Rivers & Tides are some I count in that number. Super-Size me has the distinction of causing McDonald’s to actually remove some of their menu items. It’s an eye-opening movie. I love McDonald’s official response to the movie.

After that we ate at JBX — Jack in the Box’s “concept store” — I couldn’t eat after having seen SSM. I nibbled at the little tomatoes that came on Leah’s salad.

Shopping for some appropriate church-style shirts for the boys. Randomly saw a guy whose name I don’t know from my Statistics class. He was proud of his “A” – and I am satisfied with my “B.”

On Sunday:
Unsuccessful attempt to attend Sacrament meeting at a local LDS Stake Center.

Entirely wonderful and spiritually uplifting attendance at the Catholic Church around the block from us. Very impressive church. Energetic, community, and alive. We are sure to return there, but their only mass in English is 9am Sunday. Still, a winner.

Then: Great breakfast – eggs, potatoes, toast, and good humor. Everyone contributed.

La Jolla Shores: Maddening parking and traffic situation did not lessen a wonderful swim out to a 1/8th mile bouy and some tasty bodysurfing by yours truly. Also, walked perhaps half-a mile to take care of the parking situation. My walking practice these past years came in handy.

On Monday:
An abbreviated Kobey’s Swap Meet. No purchases made. What’s the deal with the San Diego Sports Arena allowing them to take up more land from the parking lot with a Chili’s, a gas station, and the already-there Krispy Kreme? Was it not painful enough to park for Sports Arena events already? The SA is famous (here in San Diego) for its hideous acoustics.

Memorial Day barbecue at my Aunt & Uncle’s in Santee. Ping pong, etc. Family is a blessing.

A long drive home for Leah &amp the kids. And an even longer drive for Leah to return.

Now, puttering around the house as I await Leah’s return. The Great Escape plays on TCM as I blog.