Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lifestyles of the Quasi-Rich and Not-So-Famous

While I was home this past week, I had the pleasure of visiting my sister's gym with her. Oh. My. Gosh.

Here is my gym.

Here is Karen's gym.

If I lived in Tempe and had no job, I would spend all my time at her gym. There is a spa. A restaurant. Several lounges, including one in the super plush locker room (with marble. and showers with curtains.). An indoor pool. An outdoor pool for laps. An outdoor pool for relaxing. Water slides. A poolside cantina. A gym. Fitness classes. And on and on and on.

Seriously a whole day: morning workout, snack, haircut, lunch, lounge at the pool, afternoon workout, drink at the pool.

At $50 a month, I think that's actually quite a good deal. My gym isn't THAT much cheaper. Oh for a life of leisure!

On the Payroll

What do Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum have in common? (Well, I'm sure a lot of other things but...) They're all paid contributors to Fox News and they are all likely 2012 Republican Presidential candidates.

As Politico asks, how can the news outlet cover these candidates in an unbiased manner when they work for Fox News? And how can other news outlets cover the candidates if they have exclusive contracts only to appear on Fox News? Fox News says these politicians will have to end their contracts when they officially declare themselves. But why would you bother declaring yourself if you can get all sorts of great publicity on Fox News?

As Paul Krugman points out, Fox News has abandoned all "pretense of being nonpartisan."

Nobody who was paying attention has ever doubted that Fox is, in reality, a part of the Republican political machine; but the network — with its Orwellian slogan, “fair and balanced” — has always denied the obvious. Officially, it still does. But by hiring those G.O.P. candidates, while at the same time making million-dollar contributions to the Republican Governors Association and the rabidly anti-Obama United States Chamber of Commerce, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, which owns Fox, is signaling that it no longer feels the need to make any effort to keep up appearances.
I am not surprised, but nevertheless dismayed at how our political system continues to be purchased by corporations, and how the majority of the country is apparently okay with this! I am of course particularly embarrassed considering, as you may know, my company provides the polling services for Fox News. And yet we consider ourselves to be an objective research company. I think all these pretenses are continuing to slip away.

P.S. I just read an article that posting about politics and religion is one of the top ways to become unfriended on Facebook. So unfriend at will :)

Running in the Rain

Now that the triathlon is over, the Regatta is over, and my injury is over (crossing my fingers!), I finally have time to focus on my running. And I remembered that I enjoy it! I especially enjoy running in new locations. During my limited build-up this season, I have run a beautiful 6 miles in Tennessee Valley in the Marin Headlands (in the rain); 8 miles through Golden Gate Park including my favorite part around Stow Lake and Strawberry Hill; and 9 miles from my house to the Presidio, over the bridge, and into Sausalito (in the rain). I had to get to Sausalito for the Regatta, after all! I tend to get bored on my weekday runs, generally always around Lake Merritt, so it's nice to be able to run different places on the weekends.

(Tennessee Valley)

I also really enjoy running while traveling. In the last year that I can think of, my favorite runs have been a 10 miler along the gorgeous beach in Ventura; a 12 miler through the fabulous Balboa Park in San Diego after a massive rain; and early morning runs on the Mendocino Headlands and at Asilomar (Pacific Grove/Monterey). I went on a gorgeous run through a park by Nic's house in Baltimore, but unfortunately my injury was bothering me too much to enjoy it as much as I should have. I have also enjoyed runs in the Tucson foothills (and I still have a scar from an agave to prove it - it was night); along the Cherry Creek path in Denver; past empty fields owned by the City of Los Angeles in Bishop, California (think Chinatown); flatlands in Fresno, California; and of course familiar neighborhoods of Tempe and Mesa. I see things I would never see and explore places I would never go if I didn't get up early to run.

(Stream fording in Balboa Park)



And let's not forget my races! Avenue of the Giants was gorgeous through the redwood forest, and Rock N Roll San Diego was new scenery at least. I really enjoyed the Nike course here in San Francisco - it covers some of the most gorgeous scenery, and there's always something new to look at. (Also, I sadistically love hills.) In addition, the 12k on Angel Island last December (in pouring rain) was absolutely phenomenal, and the Across the Bay 12k this March was sunny and stellar, despite the fact I couldn't run.

So because I love scenery and running in new places, I am thinking about training for my first marathon to be Big Sur next May. Who's in?

I know it is challenging, but I kind of think I will love it. My goal before ramping up for that is to put in massive time strength training. I have pretty poor running form that hopefully can be cured with some serious core exercises. Boot camp here I come!

(These are all pictures taken with my phone during my runs!)

The 5th Annual Bay Area Leukemia Cup Regatta

Well, my latest season of training for an event is finally over. This past Sunday, after raising $3,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Matt and I competed in the 5th Annual Bay Area Leukemia Cup Regatta. And we couldn't have done it without your support - thank you so much!

I know how glamorous and bourgeoisie sailing sounds. I get it. You probably wondered why in the world you would want to donate to us so we could learn to sail. But let me tell you - for me it was a painful experience - nearly a sacrifice.

The weather on the Bay is generally freezing (think at least 3 layers of clothing plus a life jacket), and the winds are strong and shifty (think boats nearly tipping over and getting drenched with water). Although generally people learning to sail cover the Basic Keelboat class in 2 consecutive weekends, our 4 days of instruction were spread out over about 2 months, making it hard to remember what to do. And adding to that trouble, most of the instructors were prone to yelling a lot. I generally don't mind being yelled too much at if I understand what is going on and can correct it, but I absolutely hate being yelled at uselessly. Yelling at me over and over again to "head up" when I can't remember what that means does no good. Yelling at me without looking to see what I'm doing does no good. Sometimes it take a couple seconds for the boat to respond, and I was already doing what I was being yelled at to do. Upon more yelling, I would change my mind and do the opposite, which resulted in even more yelling, since that was definitely the wrong thing to do. So much yelling! So much not understanding what was going on.

The training for this event consisted of:
1 fun sail
1 knot tying clinic
4 days of classroom/sail training
1 2 hour race practice

Not nearly the amount of time you spend training for a running race. Granted, Matt and I did miss 1 other race practice and certification day because of my triathlon last weekend. However, because of the lack of training, I was just beginning to get it on the day of the race. After having been nominated helmsman (aka the driver) for some unknown reason, I finally learned how to keep my tell tales flying straight the day of the race. The race was at least 1.5 hours. As helmsman, you have to stare at the sails the entire time, basically without losing concentration (or you will be YELLED at). No looking at the scenery, no checking out the dolphins, no watching other boats. No sipping a frozen beverage in your bikini. Just watching the sail. And little pieces of string flying off them.

But the reward? 2nd place in our division of 6 boats. We were behind the leader by 2 minutes, and in front of the next two boats by about 30 seconds and 50 seconds, each. The end was pure luck - shifty winds that I could barely deal with while just trying to follow the instructions our skipper was yelling at me. The boat that had been in 2nd place faltered. But we had gone around the 1st mark dead last, so at least we made up some time. And I learned that at least two of the other instructors had been at the tiller for the start - unfair advantage!

In the end, after dreading going to the practices, I actually enjoyed race day. Somehow I managed to relax and just not stress about it. It certainly helped that we didn't finish last. Matt and I still plan to pursue our certification - in part to get some of our money's worth out of this program, in part because we promised some people we would take them sailing, and in part because maybe someday we will sail again. In the Caribbean, I hope.

You can check out pictures of the race here, although I haven't found any of our boat.