Thursday, July 22, 2010

Jayne and the Cannibal

Not much time right now for fiction or blogging - all my brain is taken up with a series of large, high-stakes, complex grant applications for various important clients. Long days, some weekends, and needing to conserve my wrists for the job that pays my mortgage. And throughout this stressful period I've had some truly icky dreams (dismembered bodies in a parking garage), and some simply bizarre ones (magically proliferating smartphones, none of them my own).

But last night, I had I dream I wish I could preserve on video. I was at the Tour de France, watching a big mountain stage, just on the downhill side of the summit of a huge climb. The Tour is something that I can always have on in the background as I work, so soothing are the voices of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen. And of course I am completely obsessed with cycling. So it's not surprising I dreamed I was at the Tour.

Anyhow, some rider in my dream had a mechanical problem with his bike, and he tossed it aside like a used water bottle. I ran to snag it as a souvenir. Whoo hoo! It was an old Bianchi, vintage 1982 or so, steel frame, leather saddle, and classic celeste paint job. But, this being a dream, it was light as a feather and fit me perfectly. So far, so good.

I was walking the bike down the hill when I found I was walking next to the greatest cyclist ever to turn a pedal in anger - Eddy Merckx. Eddy appeared to be in his early 50s in this dream, though now he's 65. "You like my bike?" I asked. "It's pretty nice," Eddy answered, "But you should have an Eddy Merckx."

"Those bikes you supplied for Team Quick Step look super cool!" I told him. "If you have a spare one, I'll take it."

"I'll see what I can do," said the Cannibal.

The dream changed scenes. Eddy and I were lounging on couches in an apartment in a French town, watching Tour coverage on TV, chatting about cycling, completely relaxed, as though we had been friends for years.

Sometimes you have a dream so great you hate to wake up, but this dream was so unbelievably cool, so perfect, so delightful, that I woke up excited just to have had it.

Oh, and Eddy, if you're reading this, I'd gladly ride an Eddy Merckx, if you have one to spare.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Data Quest

I have a fairly well-developed geeky side; my close friends and relatives will attest to this. I enjoy a well-designed gadget, handy piece of software, or random piece of knowledge. I enjoy clever maps using Geographic Information Systems, baseball statistics, and good grammar. And my passion for my Droid has been documented. I once worked for a, and I have been to multiple Renaissance Faires. In costume. As a member of a guild.

So when I decided I needed a new heart-rate monitor, I did a little research. I was pleased to find that the Garmin wrist-mounted GPS units, the ones that also happen to tell you how fast your heart is beating, have really come down in price over the last few years. Score! A few clicks later, and my new Garmin Forerunner 305 was on its way. Whoo hoo!

However, when the thing arrived, I was in the middle of something or other with work, and it took me quite a few days to open the box. When I finally did, I was chagrined to learn that I would need to update either my Mac or my Windows operating systems in order to run the Garmin software. And in order to upgrade, I need more disk space. I may be a little geeky, but it doesn't mean I always have the latest hardware.

Still, I could use the heart rate monitor and watch, I just couldn't upload the data and make maps and graphs and charts out of it. So I strapped on the rather bulky wrist unit and the chest strap, went outside and powered on. I watched the satellites load and my heart rate show up on the little screen and then, as I started my warm-up walk, my pace. It was really quite cool, all that information. Unfortunately, it was kind of hard to tell what the data was without my reading glasses.

I had hoped that having the Garmin would inspire me to run, or at least jog-walk, more often, but so far not too much. Two nights ago I went out for 2 miles, though. As I had suspected, I was still slow. But at least now I know how slow I am, exactly, and what kind of heart rates I'm generating.

This morning I decided to get heart-rate savvy on the bike, and got all geared up. Went outside, turned on the wrist unit... damn, battery low. I waited for a while, but apparently "battery low" is a synonym for "not gonna work, sucka." Yeah, bitch, my battery is low too.

At least the Garmin doesn't tell me I'm obese every time I finish a workout, like my old Polar used to do when I would scroll through the workout data: HR average, calories burned, time, Body Mass Index (OBESE! OBESE! OBESE!), etc. So that's a plus.

One of these days my brother and I are going to clone both partitions of my hard drive onto an external drive, install a nice big 500GB drive into my MacBook, and update both my Mac and Windows OS. Then I really will be the Data Queen.

Stay tuned for charts and graphs.