Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Crazy Christmas Kick!

Christmas letter block

December is right around the corner, and I'm sitting here in front of my computer with writer's block. My assignment from the boss lady is to "write the Christmas letter" tonight. Piece of cake, right? Just knock off a few paragraphs somewhat akin to my 5th grade teacher's assignment "what I did on summer vacation". Uh oh, now all I can think of is Cheech and Chong's "Sister Mary Elephant" (don't tell me you didn't listen to that when your parents weren't home--"Class...Class...SHUT UP!!! Thank you...").
Beth says it shouldn't be that hard, just look on our calendar, see what we did this year, and write about it. Let's see, what DID we do? Worked, rode bike, watched movies, read books, went out to dinner, went to church, hung out with friends, went to a few concerts. That's about it. Man, that's just about exactly what I did in 1979 when I was a senior. Not much changes, does it really? DOC'S ADVICE: don't wax nostolgic too long about the good old high school days, or you'll never get the stupid Christmas newsletter done.
Well, OK, a few things have changed since high school: my social life improved 1000% since I got married, I'm 1 for 2 against Greg LeMond now (he kicked my butt in a crit in 1977, but [30 years later] I beat him by 6 or 8 minutes this year at Chequamegon), I'm watching and reading different stuff (but not that different--Lord of the Rings is still #1 on the book list), I can afford better than the "golden arches supper club" for dinner, my friends now have much shorter hair than in the 70s (some have very little hair), and I now bring earplugs to concerts (I am an ear doctor, after all--it wouldn't be too good for you to come see me and ask me a question and have me go "huh?").
Huh. After sitting here for an hour, and then spending an hour trying to fix a paper jam in the printer (I ended up digging out an old dusty printer from the junk closet and going online to find a printer driver for it), I'm no closer to starting the dreaded yearly review. When Beth writes it, it becomes a showpiece of accuracy and completeness, cataloging virtually every activity longer than an hour in length that we participated in during the year. Then she prints it in a number 2 font size so it will all fit on a front and back sheet. Then we send it to our 600 closest friends, and every one of them calls us back to find out if it's done on microfilm or what. DOC'S ADVICE: as we age, our ability to read small print basically evaporates, so don't be embarassed, buy the LARGE PRINT EDITION if you need to.
I'm hoping she won't notice that I'm writing it in size 16 font with only 2 paragraphs per side. Side one: what we did during the week (any given week); side two: what we did on the weekend (again, any old weekend). Conspicuously absent from the newsletter (for the 3rd year in a row): our trip to China to adopt a baby girl. Seriously, next year's edition will be all about that, unless we're too busy actually raising her to write a newsletter at all...
Better go, or she'll figure out that I wasted my entire evening procrastinating. DOC'S ADVICE: don't mess with a woman bent on putting up the holiday finery, or she'll do like this Santa.

Diana Krall-Jingle Bells

For those of you who love Christmas music--me too! For those who don't, tant pis pour vous. Diana Krall is on my iPod A list with her Christmas album and also with her "From This Moment On" album. A new "best of" album has been recently released. Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Crazy Mountain Bike Downhill

Matt Williams sent this around a month ago, but I lost it, so I looked it up on YouTube. I'm an MTB newbie, so I've never seen anything like this. I love to bomb the Cheq descents, but this is more like taking your bike down the Drunken Frenchman, moguls included!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

U2 - One

Make a Difference

Reflecting on all I have to be thankful for has made me think about the havenots.

Social consciousness is definitely hip. The media outlets are constantly showing the next big starlet plugging PETA or preaching against global warming. Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely for animals and small carbon footprints. It's just hard for me to get excited about Britney's newest cause when I find out that she donates a whopping $500 per month to her favorite charity. That's out of an income of $737,000 PER MONTH. By my math, that's 0.067% of her income for charity. Underwhelming.

I don't really need celebrities to motivate me to lend a hand. Just look around at the needs in our communities, our country, and around the world, and you see lots of opportunities to pitch in. If I did need some motivation, I would look to U2's Bono. I've been a fan of U2 since 1982, when my friend Garth played an LP (that's right, a real vinyl record) of October or Boy or both, I don't remember. I watched Band Aid in 1985 when Bono jumped down like 20 feet to dance with a girl from the audience, and rocked to The Joshua Tree like everyone else in the world. I kind of lost track after Actung Baby when they went glam, but picked them back up with All That You Can't Leave Behind and HTDAAB.

Bono has always been a promoter, and his charitable work is no different. Check out his ONE Campaign--the campaign to make poverty history--and you will find photos and videos of all kinds of celebs wearing the ONE white wristband (above) or the T-shirt. Unlike most of the celebs pictured, though, Bono has spent countless hours volunteering, lobbying politicians, and speaking out against poverty. He spends so much time and effort at it that it has caused problems with the band at times.

Beth and I support a number of causes and missions locally and globally. I may mention one or two in the future if the topic comes up, but my main goal here is to get us thinking about how we can make a difference. One easy and cheap way is to start researching various causes and find out more about what they do, how they do it, and what effect their work has on the problem they are working against. IMHO, not every "problem" is of equal importance. No offense to PETA or Sierra Club, but eliminating death and disability due to poverty seems like a more pressing issue for our attention.

DOC'S ADVICE: check out, sign the petition currently being circulated, and maybe contact your Congressperson and Senators to encourage them to do something about poverty in our country and around the world. Or do something else to make a difference.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

What I'm Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving!

I usually try to be clever or at least a little ironic in this blog. Hopefully someone out there finds it mildly amusing enough to tune in every now and then to catch up on Doc's advice. Today I am going to be fairly straightforward, though I never know until I'm done typing just what is going to come out. Here's what I'm most thankful for, in no particular order:

1. My health. I'm not the strongest rider out there, but I'm doing pretty well for me, and at 46 years of age, I'm just happy to be able to line up and do the best I can. I started this racing thing 6 years ago strictly to motivate me to follow a training program during the long Minnesota winters. The rest is gravy.
2. My wife. Beth is, hands down, the best thing that ever happened to me. She is my perfect complement, my best friend, and the glue that keeps my life together. I really would be lost without her.
3. My profession. I am so lucky to have a job I love to do, day in and day out. It wasn't always that way of course. Grey's Anatomy, House, and Scrubs have it all wrong; med school, internship and residency aren't as glamorous or as exciting as they portray, just a long hard grind of too much reading, too little sleep, and too much stress. Private practice ENT surgery is much better suited to my abilities and stamina, and I am very thankful for my partners who share the load with me.
4. My family. I'm spending the week with my older brother and his family in Houston. My Mom is in a nursing home nearby; she'll be coming over for the afternoon. My younger brother is in Dallas with his wife and little boy, and my youngest brother is in the Seattle area with his 4 wonderful kids. On Beth's side, my in-laws and Beth's sister and her family are in the Cities, so we see them a fair amount. All of them are good company any time, but especially during the holidays.
5. My friends. If you are reading this, you are probably one of them. Thank you for your friendship. Cycling is not really the focus of what we do together, as far as I'm concerned. It's much more about people of like mind coming together to multiply the joy of participating. If in the process of racing I have offended you (and I probably have), forgive me. I'd rather fail miserably at racing if it let's me succeed in friendship with you.
6. The rest of my life. Prosperity, a great country (with all its faults), education, opportunity, a stable economy, personal safety, chances to influence and develop future leaders, a business that helps support the families of 50 employees, free time to pursue hobbies and friendships, freedom of speech and religion, a great city and neighborhood to live in, great neighbors, our dream house (10 years ago it mostly gave me nightmares during renovation), two funny dogs and a bunch of big fat goldfish, and the hope of hearing a little girl's laughter in the near future.
7. Jesus Christ. I'm not usually a preachy person, but most of you who know me reasonably well know that I'm fairly "religious". I would prefer the word "devout" even though the two words mean essentially the same thing, it's just that the word "religious" has developed a darker, more fanatic connotation. Anyway, I believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to Father God except through Him. Today especially I am thankful that He died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins and imperfections, and gave me the gift of salvation and the hope of eternal life with God. If you have accepted that gift, be thankful; if you haven't, you can if you want. 'Nuf said.
8. Whatever else I missed that I really ought to be thankful for. A grateful heart is the foundation for a healthy life, IMHO. DOC'S ADVICE: find something to be thankful for every day. It can't hurt, and it might save your life someday.

Tomorrow's blog: who knows?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

E! Houston style

Umm, if you were looking for Girls Gone Wild, sorry--this is a family-oriented blog. If you want that sort of thing, you'll have to find Skibby's blog (warning: tasteless).

Here in Houston, I don't have to leave the house to be entertained. I can't recommend yesterday's entertainment, er addiction, since I took a lot of heat over wasting most of the day on Rubik's cube. Here is a sampling of what else is on the docket:

First, there's X-box 360 (currently out of service), X-box, GameCube, and Nintendo 64. Most of these are way too advanced for me, since my nephews can smoke me in basically any game we play. Right now they are into Guitar Hero II and Rainbow 6 Vegas on X-box 360. I fancy myself a bit of a musician, since in real life I play a 5-string Carvin bass reasonably well, but I worry about trying Guitar Hero II since it involves holding down buttons with your left hand and clicking on the strum bar with your right hand. Extra points for using the whammie bar on longer notes.

Then there are the wiener dogs, Ringo and Cotton, who are thoroughly entertaining day and night. Movie night every night on the home theater (playing tonight: Spiderman 3), multiple computers, musical instruments, baseballs to throw, golf in the garage (a net) and in the back yard (usually whiffle, but occasionally the real thing just to break the monotony). My nephew Caulin has a large iTunes library, so we get a custom CD to listen to almost every day (yesterday was Earth, Wind, and Fire; today is classic rock anthems like Toto, Boston, Kansas, and Aerosmith).

For you Cirque du Soleil fans, we even get a taste of the diabolo from La Nouba, contortion from Kooza, and hand balancing on canes from Varekai. Don't believe me? Watch this:

That was my 11 year old nephew Kyle, who is a gymnast and budding Cirque performer. We took him to La Nouba at Disneyworld 3 years ago, and he was mesmerized by the Diabolo act. He bought the DVD and a diabolo (a sort of horizontally spinning top that can be thrown from a string held between two sticks), and by the end of our week at Disneyworld, he had memorized the act. Since then, he has been to 6 other Cirque shows, and has learned parts of 3 other acts. This particular video shows part of the hand balancing act from Varekai. DOC'S ADVICE: if you haven't seen Cirque (where have you been?), go! Or come to Houston and watch parts of it for free.

Since there's so much entertainment around, I haven't had much time to set up my secret training plan for the year, but I'm almost done. Sorry, if I told you any more, I'd have to erase your memory (remember that Haitian guy reaching for your face like he does in Heroes?).

Tomorrow: what I'm thankful for...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

How To Solve A Rubik's Cube Easily

Watch this to see just how "easy" it is to solve this diabolical puzzle. Argh!

I did it!

Doc finally conquered the feared Rubik's cube. It took me all morning. I even had a cheat sheet. It still took me all morning, and 2 cups of strong black joe. You probably think I'm an idiot since it took me all morning to solve it, or maybe you think I'm an idiot for spending an entire morning of my vacation trying to solve a $2 puzzle. Either way, it appears I'm an idiot.

Semantics alert: skip this boring stuff it you are not really into words. Idiot comes from Old French from Latin from Greek "idiotes" which is derived from "id" which means "one's own" or "private". Sigmund Freud used "id" to describe our inner spoiled brat. It evidently meant "layman" or "private citizen" who greek leaders apparently felt were ignorant. Turns out our modern leaders generally feel the same about modern voters.

The hints on wikihow read like an algebra textbook, so it took me a while to figure them out, and then I kept turning the back face clockwise when it was supposed to go counterclockwise, so I would finish a move and the cube would be randomly scrambled again. I got a little testy with Beth, so she headed out for a pedicure and told me to call her when I was in a better mood.

Anyway, my nephews have been waiting all morning for me to finish so we can actually go do something together, so I guess I'd better clean up and try to accomplish something useful today. Like shopping for more $2 puzzles to waste time on. It's 12:30 and I've had exactly 2 cups of coffee, so I'm not only testy, I'm starved. Time to call Beth and fake a better mood so I can meet her for lunch. DOC'S ADVICE: if you have an addictive personality like Doc's, whatever you do, don't pick up that old Rubik's cube collecting dust in your game closet.

Go here to watch a 3 year old solve it in 2 minutes. Then you, too, will feel like an idiot.

Go here to watch a guy solve it one-handed in 20 seconds.

I'm exhausted. Tonight is Spiderman 2.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The police - Every breath you take

I don't know why, but looking at Ian's picture made me think of Sting in the video of "Every Breath You Take" by The Police. It might be a subconcious fear of not having enough breath to go around on training rides. I doubt it's because I'm worried that any teammates will be watching me, since I'm more likely to be behind them than in front...

80 degrees and no bike!

Greetings from sunny/rainy/sunny/rainy Houston! Beth and I flew down (not on the P-51, unfortunately, but my brother and I are big fans) on Saturday to spend the week with my older brother Dave and his family. My Mom is in a nursing home down here as well, so I'm hanging out with the old folks most afternoons. The suspense is almost unbearable during bingo, which my Mom never misses. In fact, if I go there to visit while she's still playing, she waves me off so she doesn't lose focus when the competition really heats up. DOC'S ADVICE: leave your Mom alone when she plays bingo; some things are sacred.

It's been either 80 and sunny or 65 and rainy here. I've been running a little and lifting weights (also a little) with my brother, who is in pretty good shape for an old geezer (he turns 50 in March). Unfortunately, he is a golfer, not a bike racer, so their collection of bikes consists of 2 beat up BMX bikes and an antique pseudo-MTB previously owned by my 88 year old stepfather. I think it's a 1986 K-mart model, a true 10-speed hardtail (complete with kickstand). So my title is not technically true, but might as well be--I'm afraid to push the old K-mart special hard enough to actually break a sweat, so I just take joyrides with my 11 year old nephew to the video store.

Speaking of which, we scored the Spiderman triple feature DVD box set for $25! Purchased, not rented. My nephews and I plan a triple, so get out the popcorn and pull up a beanbag, cuz Toby, Kirsten, and Co. are the big draw tonight. I've seen 1 and 2 but not 3, so don't be writing some lame comment that gives it all away or I'll send the style police after you.

My brother just pulled up with my Mom in the truck, so it's time to find out just how well she cleaned up in bingo today. She's just settling down to watch I, Robot with Will Smith, so I think I'll join her.

BTW, the big news is that we have a new teammate: Ian Stanford, formerly of Abercrombie & Fitch, has decided to make the jump to the Green and Orange. Welcome, Ian! Glad to have another TT stud to make my legs scream on training rides. How does that old saw go: what doesn't kill you makes you stronger? DOC'S ADVICE: Doc better make sure his affairs are in order in case he doesn't get stronger...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Bruce Springsteen Born to Run 1980's

My most recent addition from iTunes is the Bruce Springsteen essential collection. This video is from back in the day when I was a big fan. Haven't seen much of the Boss lately, but Born to Run still has it for me. Only U2 (another huge fav!) could fill an arena with this kind of energy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Shouts and Secrets

Shouts to my homeys:
1. Doug-O has decided to make GrandStay his choice for all his bike racing needs. He will be wearing the Green and Orange on the road and CX (as usual) and now on the dirt as well. Even though anyone who knows me realizes that me and dirt just don't mix (dirt always wins, as evidenced by my Cheq crash and a broken rib), I have to say it was weird seeing Doug in red and white at Cheq. I almost didn't recognize him until he put the hammer down on the asphalt coming out of Haward (come to think of it, that was right before some guy went down in front of me--but that wasn't Doug's fault). I didn't so much recognize him as much as I recognized the usual searing pain in my legs whenever I race with him. DOC'S ADVICE: it's better to race with this guy than against him.
2. New cat 1s (fairly new, at least): Micah Moran, Matt Williams, Dan Casper (the friendly Ghost), BK "Big Kahuna" Koeneman, and (earlier this fall) Chia (Chachi) Kung. Chachi has relocated to Shanghi, China for the year, where he is already showing a clean pair of wheels to most of their racers (especially since it's so dang flat around there, eh sprinterboy?).
3. Casper the Ghost has locked up the CX 35+ CRY award in a runaway fashion. The Swanson brothers, Micah, Matt, and Charles Jacobs have all done the Green & Orange proud as well.

I'm currently getting killed with meetings and busy clinic and surgery schedules, so I'm getting basically no time on the bike or in the weight room. That will all change December 1 when my new training year officially starts. I don't think I'll do a 60K ride like Miguel Indurain always did on Dec 1, but I will start my program. I have seen some pretty good improvements the last two years: in 2005, my last with Loon State, I was a cat 4 mostly competing in Masters 4/5 events, and doing OK (I got 2nd overall in the tour of 10K in 2004). Since then, I've cat'd up to 3 in 2006 and to cat 2 this year after several good finishes, including 2nd overall in the St. Cloud Omnium for the Master 35+. I also finished 4th in the ROY standings in the same field. I was able to stay in the mix pretty well even when the 35+ers were mixed with the Pro 1,2s.

Anyway, I'm going to make a few secret modifications to the program I've done the past 2 years (I am a doctor, afterall), and see if I can come out of the chute next spring even stronger. The only glitch might be a welcome one: Beth and I are hoping to hear from the Chinese authorities as to when we will be adopting a little baby girl from China. If that happens I will definitely be interrupting my training for a while (yes, Fat Chad, I watched what happened to you). But even Painman has come back stronger than ever after a baby came into his life.

Speaking of meetings, I'm late for a board meeting, so I'll post this and fix it up later...

DOC'S ADVICE: Go Green and Orange!

Monday, November 12, 2007

How to Charge an iPod using electrolytes and an onion

Ever wonder what to do with that sticky, half-empty bottle of gatorade after a ride? Wonder no more!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Honey, look how much money we saved!

This is a supremely happy face. This is also a face that makes me supremely happy. This is the face of my best friend and life partner (going on 25 years!) participating in dim sum at Yank Sing near Market Street in San Francisco. Props to Red Lantern for recommending this unique culinary experience.

Semantics alert: boring stuff to follow. Skip to next section unless you give a rip.

Dim sum is Cantonese for "from the heart" or "to your heart's content." It is part of the traditional Chinese tea, Yum Cha (lit. "tea drinking") that descended from Silk Road teahouses that catered to weary travelers, and describes the process of ordering a la carte from waiters who offer one or several appetizer-sized servings of all kinds of delicacies. Every couple of minutes one of Yank Sing's many wait staff would appear at our table with a small plate of something delicious and offer it to us. Only a fool would turn this stuff down, so after a few minutes our table was piled high with pork dumplings, szechuan chicken, prawns with candied walnuts, shimp toast, wok-seared green beans with a spicy sauce, lettuce wraps, pot stickers, chicken satay with peanut sauce, mango pudding and traditional egg custard tart. Funny, though, there wasn't a grain of rice in sight anywhere...

Whew! I'm full just thinking about it all. We are definitely skipping supper tonight. Unfortunately, I'll have to skip quite a few suppers to make up for all the eating we've done this week. Jimmy, I'm going to need a couple of epic weekend rides to burn off these calories!
Oh, and the title refers to a little side trip we made to Loehmann's on Sutter and Kearny near Market Street. This is basically a high-end T.J. Maxx (I pray there are none in Minnesota). We were just going to pop in there and check it out, but 4 or 5 hours later, we had used up our last afternoon in S.F. Truth be told, I wasn't that put out, since I scored a couple of sweaters, 2 swizzy shirts, and a long scarf. Beth got a really nice purse (Longchamps, the same brand as the one she bought in Paris 2 years ago), jeans, sweaters, and a dress. It was raining outside, and a trip to bike shops or Alcatraz didn't hold the same magic it did a few days ago.
We added it all up, and, if you believe the "compare at" price on the tag, it appeared that we had saved lots of dough, but as far as I could tell, we spent a lot more than we saved. Feminine economics always eludes me. Oh well, Beth is mincing around with her new purse and a supremely happy face, so that's enough for me.

Friday, November 9, 2007

What I learned in school today

My racing Epicure friend, Red Lantern, has alerted me to a couple of S.F. errata from my post 2 days ago: it's Union Square, not Station, and Boulevard Restaurant has a view of the Bay Bridge, not the Golden Gate. I've made the corrections to the post already (forgive me if I'm a little fastidious, but I'm a surgeon after all--you'd want me to be like that). The Lantern has also given me some cool insider tips on places to go in S.F. I didn't know you used to live here, or I would have hit you up for a lot more info. I shoulda known by your urbane air, though, and with you hanging out in France for the summer and all...

I am attending a course called Otolaryngology Update put on by UCSF, and is it ever good! Honchos from all over have flown in here to update the rest of us on the newest research in the field of Ear, Nose, and Throat. Don't go getting glassy eyed on me--I'm not going to start lecturing you on the fine points of septorhinoplasty or radical neck dissection and the use of adjuvant chemoradiotherapy. I want to reassure all of you out there who secretly believe that doctors are really just quacks and all we do at meetings is drink coffee (or worse) and gossip about how bad you looked the last time we saw you in the office (or worse). DOC'S ADVICE: medical meetings are rather boring affairs with lots of powerpoint slide shows and polite applause.

Actually, this was one of the demos we saw entitled "karaoke CPR, or how to really enjoy your first code":

I'm sure I've restored your faith in the medical field by now.

Geek alert: San Fran is being taken over by MIB aliens who have snuck in here for the Oracle convention that starts on Sunday. I've never seen so many pocket protectors since I got my undergrad chemistry degree! 65,000 drunken maladroit software engineers are not a pretty sight, and what with streetcars whizzing by, I fear for their very lives. Good thing I learned karaoke CPR!

We just got back from Hana Zen, a really nice sushi place on Cyril Magnin street that my friend Don Carter treated us to. We basically had one of everything, and even though it was pretty much the first time Beth or I had been in a sushi place, we settled right in. Beth wasn't so sure she would enjoy everything, but she was brave. We started with Miso soup and saki, then warmed up with nigiri sushi of yellow tail, tuna, and shrimp, then went for the uramaki (dragon roll, rainbow roll, california roll, and the house special). By the end, Beth was soaking rainbow rolls in wasabi/soy sauce and slamming them down! We finished up with tempura bananas with coconut and vanilla ice cream.

Konichiwa, sushi! We'll be seeing more of you...but tomorrow it's dim sum at Yank Sing, care of Red Lantern again. Thanks, bro--maybe your engine's not the biggest, but you sure fuel it with the right stuff!

Medical lecture video

I'm at a medical meeting in San Fran, and this video was shown in one of the lectures I attended. I can't remember the point that the professor was trying to make because I was laughing too hard. Hope the guy's OK.

Oh yeah, now I remember--the lecture was on surgical options for facial fractures. DOC'S ADVICE: don't try this at home. Don't try this anywhere else, either. This guy will be using a bedpan for a couple of months, I would guess.

This morning at the meeting I ran into a number of old friends: Ashley Anderson, Carlton Lee, and Wayne Kirkham, all alumni of the University of Wisconsin ENT residency program that I attended, and Don Carter, a very good friend from Washington University School of Medicine. He was a WUMS '86 and I was a WUMS '87. He went into practice in Merced, CA, about 2 hours south of here. We spent lunch and break times catching up on everything.

BTW, just got back from dinner with Beth (and Don Carter) at Boulevard on the Embarcadero near the Bay bridge. WOW! That's all I can say. Doc is speechless. I had foie gras (I love the stuff, can't get enough of it regardless of what you think about force-feeding geese), incredible rack of lamb, and the most exquisite ice cream sandwiches made with French-style macaroons that melt in your mouth. DM, I have to concur. I have a new favorite restaurant in S.F. DOC'S ADVICE: listen to your attorney when he tells you something. You won't regret it.

We needed a very long walk along the piers, all the way from the bay bridge to Ghirardelli's on the north end. We walked pier 39 and saw all the sea lions and seals, and looked across the bay at Alcatraz. We're going to try to take a boat over on Saturday afternoon for a tour. We were too tired to walk back to the restaurant, so we took the streetcar up the hill and back to the hotel. Since I can't keep my eyes open enough to spell check this post, I'm out of here...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

San Fran, baby!

Beth and I just got into our hotel a few minutes ago, and are on our way to Scala's Bistro down the street for some swizzy (love that word, thanks Mean Dawg!) Italiano, then off to the S.F. Opera to hear Angela Gheorghiu sing the lead in Puccini's little known opera La Rondine. She is a fantastic (and beautiful) diva, one of the best in the world, and this opera has arguably my favorite aria of all: Il Sogno di Doretta (Doretta's dream), so it's going to be an Italian gustatory feast followed by an Italian auditory feast (sung by a Romanian).

Update: we had a great meal at Scala's, followed by an esquisite jewel of an opera anchored by Ms. Gheorghiu's jewel-like voice. Magda didn't just melt Ruggero's heart, but the entire audience's as well. Brava, Angela!

Tomorrow will be more mundane for me, since I'll be attending a conference at the Ritz (not bad, really) for the next 2 1/2 days. Beth will be free to shop til she drops at Union Square, about a block from our hotel. I do hope to get over to Box Dog Bikes on Saturday and hang out with the players over there. I also want to visit Freewheel bikes on Hayes if I get a chance on Saturday.

My corporate counsel, David Melloh, Esq., tells me that Boulevard is THE place to eat in S.F., with a great view of the Bay bridge, so I scored a table for 2 for tomorrow night. DM, the best I could do was 5:45 on a Thursday, and nothing available for the weekend--you must have told everyone west of the Mississippi about this restaurant. I checked out the website photos, and decided in advance that I'm going to have this one (or this one) for dessert.
It's basically 1am by my midwestern clock, so I'm beyond tired. G'night John Boy...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Old Stuff

It's not as if the entire world is clamoring for more of Doc's blog, but I dug up my old blog, Mon Avis, from last year's visit to Paris. It was agreeably entertaining to re-read our adventures in France. There's a lot of text and some swell pictures, and lots of rambling. If you fish around a little, you'll probably find something that stimulates the little grey cells.

If you like that sort of thing, well have at it. Who am I to judge you for having absolutely nothing going on in your life important enough to keep you from wasting a couple of hours on my ramblings? I'm a little embarassed for you, but then again, I wrote the stuff, so maybe I should be more embarassed for me.

The good thing is that I only blogged for 2 months in 2006, so the bottom of the barrel isn't that far away really.

Wasn't Bob Hope a Democrat?

Here's a funny from my wife's cousin, Katie. I don't know if she's a democrat or what. But she's funny, and so is this movie line.

D/C and SM2

I seem to have a new best friend, musically speaking. Everywhere I turn, Dashboard Confessional pops up. I loved the song "Vindicated" from Spiderman 2, and it turns out it's Chris Carrabba and D/C who recorded it. Who coulda known?

Here it is with scenes from SM2. What a great combo: Toby McGuire, Kirsten Dunst, and Alfred Molina (and D/C setting the mood). I haven't seen SM3 yet, so don't spoil it for me. I'm going to pull a triple feature and watch all 3 in one day. Maybe I'll try for a 6 hour trainer session at the same time, like my teammate Ghost does at the station...

BTW, there's another version of "Stolen" (I think it's an MTV edit) that has Carrabba in a duet with Juli lead singer Eva Briegel. Here it is, I think it's swizzy.

I think I just might wander over to iTunes and check out more of the D/C discography. Typical, they just played in St. Cloud like 2 weeks ago--SRO, I heard. Guess I'll never make it as a Scene Boy. We even made their blog...

Monday, November 5, 2007


Ok, here's a brief semantics rant: the word "kudos" (praise and honor received for an achievement) is always SINGULAR. It's a greek word that means "glory", and it's used the same way: "Linda Sone and Doug Swanson received much glory in Velonews today" (link below). I can't give many kudos, I can only give much of it.
"Props" on the other hand, is always PLURAL. "Props (respect or credit due to a person) to Linda and Doug for putting MN CX on the map." And they deserve it. It's cool to hang out with famous people! DOC'S ADVICE: Doc gives much kudos and many props to all you CXers out there extending your season. Doc is proud to display the fruit of your efforts on his blog. However, don't look for Doc at the mudholes this fall, he is staying home to do yard work and ride level one and watch movies for the winter.

I do have my classic XCs ready for the first snowfall. Jeffro says he's doing the Birkie this winter. Didn't you get beat up enough on that trail at Chequamegon? At least you have gears on your MTB! Think about it. DOC'S ADVICE: if it's hard on an MTB, it's harder on XCs. I don't even like the hills on the North Loop.


I'm not sure if this falls under the semantics category or not, but I ran across two new terms (for me) while reading this weekend: emo and scene kid. I was browsing the favorites on YouTube and found a Dashboard Confessional video of "Stolen" (sorry, can't embed this one) where the comments went back and forth on whether Chris Carrabba is "emo" or not. Which led me to investigate the whole concept of "emo". As far as I can tell, it's a descendent of punk where there's less screaming and more crying. It appears to be shortened from "emocore" or emotional hardcore punk music, a punk subgenre that started (OMG!!!) in my era, the 80's. My best sources were mostly WikiHow and Wikipedia. Apparently Chris was emo when he led the band Further Seems Forever, but now he's more mainstream with Dashboard Confessional, so maybe he's actually post-hardcore, which I guess means that he's been kicked out of the club.

One quote that made sense was this: "Punk provokes anger and action whereas EMO expresses vulnerability." Apparently, hair style is extremely important for these young people: one malpositioned lock, and you, too, are kicked out of the club. No wonder they're so emotional. I've had the exact same hair style for about 30 years now, and I'm just glad I still have almost all of it left to style at all. Most of my pals have one variant or another of male pattern baldness (aka cueball) style.

Anyway, it's a nice song and a sweet video, even if it didn't actually make me want to cry or get an emo 'do like this one:

A "scene kid" is apparently somehow related to an emo, although a scene kid would apparently rather die than be accused of being emo, so that investigation will either have to wait until someone posts an illuminating reply or I decide that I have to waste another hour of my life researching a social status that I have neither the desire nor the hipness to become. Emos (plural) and scene kids, feel free to enlighten us all. DOC'S ADVICE: I'm too old to be hip, so I'm going to do some yard work and watch a movie. It's just easier being a dinosaur.