Typing Away

I’ve been meaning to update here for about a week and a half, but something seems to always be getting in the way. So by the time I finally sit down and start typing, well, it all seems like old news. The “it’s a small small world” post-running brunch from last Saturday, or the former-AIDS-Marathon-staffers BBQ on Sunday just don’t seem to have the same punch in committing them to… well, I almost wrote “paper” but of course that’s not what it is at all. But you get the idea.

Strangely I have actually been writing this past week or so. I’ve been trying to get the fiction-writing part of my brain to de-rust and start moving forward again. Not too much just yet, but it’s been a start; a touch over 5000 words for an old club that I originally belonged to back in the early ’90s. So even though the short (very short) stories are only being seen by them (and what a good group of people they are, I might add), it’s a start. It actually feels funny to move that part of the imagination again after so many years of disuse, with the time being spent writing critical reviews and essays. (To say nothing of stuff for work.)

Oh, and the other reason for not writing much is that my home has been going through its regular cycle of clean-to-cluttered-to-clean. Right now it’s in a downswing and when that happens, it’s hard to sit down and do relaxing things because the place is a disaster. Unfortunately the downswing usually happens when things are crazy crazy crazy. The other half of my two-person department at work has been out of the country for a week and a half (plus a week last month) and he still has another week to go. I’ll be happy when he’s back and I have even a tiny bit more free time at home so that I can really deal with the disaster zone that is my home.

(Alas, it’s not this weekend that things get to be taken care of though. Fortunately it’s for a happy reason, heading out of town Saturday and Sunday to see two friends get married. It’ll be really nice.)

I won’t lie and say, “I’m going to update more now!” but I will say, “I will try to update more.” That’s all I can hope for on some sort of level.

P.S. Saturn Apartments is so far just as good as I thought it would be.

My Kind of Book

I was just reading a press-release about Viz launching their upcoming SIGIKKI website, which is going to serialize all sorts of comics from Japan. The pre-launch series running right now, Children of the Sea, is fairly fantastic, with strange things going on with the ocean and teenagers. The official launch for SIGIKKI rolls out over the next two weeks.

Of all the new series that will show up at the site, it’s this one that starts showing up on July 23rd that I’m really excited about.

Saturn Apartments By Hisae Iwaoka

A touching, character-rich vision of an intriguing new world.

Far in the future, humankind has evacuated the Earth in order to preserve it. Humans now reside in a gigantic structure that forms a ring around the Earth, thirty-five kilometers up in the sky. The society of the ring is highly stratified: the higher the floor, the greater the status. Mitsu, the lowly son of a window washer, has just graduated junior high. When his father disappears and is assumed dead, Mitsu must take on his father’s occupation. As he struggles with the transition to working life, Mitsu’s job treats him to an outsider’s view into the various living-room dioramas of the Saturn Apartments.

To me it’s got everything—an interesting setting, and what sounds like a combination of a mystery (the vanishing father), drama (having to inherit something unwanted), and sociological examination (the observing of other people’s lives). It sounds like there’s an almost infinite number of potential stories to be told here. Hopefully it’s as good as it sounds!

(Any books in particular that you’re dying to read based on the description alone?)

14.06 Triathlon

I’d wanted to give triathlons a try for a while now, but it never seemed to line up. My plan had been to tackle one this spring (and train over the winter), but missing the Philadelphia Marathon and picking a replacement in the spring meant that triathlons got pushed off to one side. Still, I’ve been going to lap swimming for a few months now, and I hit spinning class often enough that when Tri It Now’s 14.06 triathlon came around, I decided… why not? It’s just under the distance for a full sprint triathlon; the numbers for this were chosen because it’s exactly 1/10th the length of an Ironman Triathlon. (14.06 miles instead of 140.6 seems so much more reasonable.) Julie also signed up, and off we went!

#210 [365portraits: 193]When we signed up, you had to give them your approximate time for the swim portion of the race. I’d put down a ridiculously slow number, and then revised it earlier this week to a 9:45. Since the swim portion was in a pool, we would be arranged by our times there, with a new swimmer entering the pool every five seconds, and placed me at #210. It wasn’t until I was sitting on the edge of the pool (with 10 seconds to go) that I started feeling nervous. Fortunately, by that point it’s too late now. Just like a roller coaster, I got the nudge and that was it, I was in the pool. I did good until the third length of the pool, at which point I swam into a lane divider (oops) and then sucked down a lot of water. Fortunately, I didn’t drown, just flailed around for a couple of seconds and coughed. But then I was back off, and as the swim progressed I passed about a dozen people, which felt really good. (And got passed by two, one during my “try not to drown” moment.) When I pulled myself out of the pool, I looked at my watch and it was just at 8:52. Well, no wonder I was passing people!

From there I walked out to the bikes (others were running once they were outside, but I still had a bit of water in my lungs and was trying to get rid of it) and got ready as fast as I could. I’m sure the official splits will be different because the timing mat was outside and not at the edge of the pool, but by my watch between getting out of the pool and onto the bike and riding, it took 4 minutes and 45 seconds. Something to work on for the future! I know I was moving a little slow until I saw #211 (who had passed me during the choking fit) leave and suddenly I was like, “I need to get going!” And then, the biking. My weakest portion.

I knew going into this what I’d have to work on; being more confident on the bike. Our bike course was three loops, and each loop had four u-turns. And with each u-turn, I had to slooooow down and go through it carefully. Once I was back in a straight-away (or just a 90-degree turn) I was fine, but those u-turns killed me every time. I got passed a bunch in the first loop, which didn’t surprise me because those who were stronger in biking versus swimming could use this opportunity to clobber me. By the second loop, though, the number of people passing me dropped a lot, and in the third loop I even started passing some other people. (To be fair, probably people who weren’t on their third loop. But still, it felt good.)

My second transition was much faster, just 57 seconds, but then again all I had to do at that point was get my bike back to its stand, take off my helmet, and start running. But oh, what an experience that was. I now understand why everyone has said that your legs feel funny when switching from biking to running. Oof! Not a good start, especially since the sun was pretty strong at that point and there was almost no shade on the course. I ended up taking two short walk breaks (about 15 seconds each) and at the time I was annoyed at myself. But I was beat, and I felt like I was crawling. Imagine my surprise when I finished and discovered I’d run the 2.62 miles in just 21:58. A good pace for me (8:23min/mile) considering I’d just swum and ran. I thought I was moving much slower than that.

I also saw Julie a couple of times on the course; we waited together until it was time for our numbers to start, and I saw her on her first bike loop when I was just starting my second. Once I was done, I got to cheer her on in the transition area as well as early on in the run, so that was a lot of fun.

Will I do another one? Absolutely! But more biking is definitely required before I do so. And more practice bricks. As an introduction, it went pretty well.

Busy x 1000

Didn’t I make some sort of (very silly) pronouncement that July was going to be less busy? Oh, foolish Greg.

On the bright side, though, some things are starting to line up. My swim class is going really well—we had three 25yd sprints at the end of Monday’s session and I even won all three, which was a nice little ego boost. Even better, arriving in the mail today were my very own prescription swimming goggles! Let evildoers beware!

 AquaGreg [365portraits: 190]

Oh wait, that has nothing to do with evildoers. But it’s been a week for exercise equipment since I also have a new bicycle, which I loooooooove. It’s a hybrid, a 2009 Trek 7.3 FX. I figure it’ll be good for both biking around Arlington as well as for exercise purposes. And even better, I could (in theory) take the bus in with the bike and ride the 8-9 mile route home, which isn’t as bad in warm weather as running.

New Bike [365portraits: 186]

My friend Felicity’s in town this week for a convention, and it was great to go out to dinner with her and Charlie on Tuesday night. I often only see her once a year, so having her in town is a lot of fun; we’re going to do something or another on Sunday to be determined.

Tonight is deinstallation at Artomatic; it’ll be sad taking my stuff down, but I was also there a lot less this year because I was so busy with everything else. Then I’ve got to get cracking on several writing projects all due in the new few weeks. Eek. Hopefully once those are done, though, I can have a little bit of chill in my life… Maybe…

2nd Edition Geek

I went to a morning spinning class today instead of my regular evening one; my evening instructor is on vacation and I also made plans for tonight. But anyway, the morning instructor was wearing an Ithaca College shirt as she pedalled away at the front of the class.

Only, the way she had her arms, it covered up the first and last letters of each word. So I spent the entire class looking up, seeing “THAC” and wondering why she had a t-shirt talking about THAC0. Boy, that’s a term I haven’t needed to know since, oh, 1995… apparently no matter how hard you try, you cannot remove your geekhood.

(I also suspect half of the people reading this will have no idea what the hell I’m talking about.)