Sunday, January 31, 2010

Skiing on slush in the rain

Yesterday morning I woke up early to do a ride with the cycling team that I will be riding for this year (Hagens Berman Cycling, to be pronounced in a thick German accent). After my alarm went off I sat up, looked out the window, saw that it was raining, and then rolled over and went back to bed. Such is my dedication to winter cycling training.

When I finally arose from my slumbers, I decided to try skiing in the pass in hopes that it would be snowing there instead of raining. I headed out to Cabin Creek, and was pleased to see that it was a wet snow falling. Unfortunately, the new snow seemed to have the consistency of glue, making for really snow skiing. The only upside was that I felt like a real hero on the downhills, since I didn't have to deploy the snow plow techniques I usually use to scrub off sped on some of the downhills. Eventually the snow turned to rain, which actually made for faster skiing, I guess skiing in slush is faster than skiing in packing snow.

I still ended up having a good long ski, completing 4 laps of the "bread and butter" loop (this name is borrowed from Markez, who uses it to describe his favourite loop up at Cypress). The bread and butter loop heads out and back on the "Road" trail, then does a full lap of the Viking/Berg course with the Mt. Ozbaldy loop thrown in for good measure. The lap is 12.3 km long, a map of it as plotted by my GPS is shown below:

It is really fun skiing, with a good mix of twists, turns, and climb. Here is an elevation profile of the loop, according to my Matlab processing of the elevation data from the GPS it was 1240 feet of elevation gain per loop.

So, my four loops put me at 49.2 km for the day which is a respectable total, and made even more so since the conditions were so slow and it ended up being just over 4 hours of skiing (in fast conditions it would have been closer to 3 hours). Anyways, any day out skiing is a great day no matter what the conditions, so I drove home with a smile on my face.

After I arrived home Roanne and I spent the late afternoon and evening working on a puzzle. At this point I think Roanne is really looking forward to being able to get out and be active after her treatment is over, she has been able to maintain a pretty normal life in terms of going to work every day, but has had to really scale back her physical activity since the chemotherapy makes her feel so tired. I think to celebrate the completion of her treatment, we will go to Italy and ride a Gran Fondo, but more on that later.

Finally, let's tally my weekly weigh-in average! I definitely had a good week, starting off really strong with some all-time records and then slowly creeping back up (as the effects of the canoli that Fras and Car fed me wore off). Yesterday I was 163.0 and this morning I was 163.2, so I definitely need to turn it back around for the coming week and hopefully hit 161 again. My weekly average was ... 162.5! Tremendous! The only downside is that it is going to be hard dropping down from that for the coming week, wish me luck!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Hard at work

You may have noticed that I haven't posted any home improvement updates to my blog lately. That isn't to say I haven't been hard at work on them, in fact, quite the opposite. On Tuesday I installed the door in our main floor bathroom (I won't post a photo of that until I have installed the trim, for full effect), and I thought I would dedicate this posting to the progress I have made in the three days since (including the work I hope to get done today).

Since we live in an old house, nothing is quite straight and this is especially true for the floors. They slope up to the outer wall near the back, and this meant that when I installed the door I had to have a gap under one of the side jambs to make the top jamb level. This in turn meant that I would need to fill that somehow before the door trim and baseboard trim went on, and that is what I have been working on for the past few days. Here are the day-by-day progress reports:

Wednesday: I managed to cut a few small blocks of wood to the right size for fitting in the gap.
Thursday: I purchased some wood glue and glued the blocks together.
Friday: Today if all goes well I hope to glue the "block module" in place under the door jamb.

Pictured at the left is the block module partially in place under the rogue side jamb. What a productive week! Some of Roanne's congratulatory comments seem to imply that I could be accomplishing more with my time, but I think she is just secretly jealous of my productivity. And just think, I might have been able to do even more if it hadn't been sunny all week and I didn't have to fit in a 3 hour roller ski session each day!

Weight: 162.8

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Band of Brothers

Last night I moved one step closer to fulfilling resolution #6 on my list of new years life resolutions, by finishing my second book of 2010: Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose. The book is a historical account of an American company of paratroopers, and follows them from their training to their first combat jump on D-day at Normandy, and throughout the rest of World War II. The book's strength is it's historical accuracy, it is pretty amazing reading some of the anecdotes knowing that they are all true. However, in my opinion this painstaking historical accuracy was also the book's weakness, since at times it seems to get bogged down in the specifics of exactly who did what at what time, etc. I can see why the author did it, since if I was a participant in these events I would want to see my name show up where it should, but at times it made for a less enjoyable read. One other complaint is that the author uses a lot of military acronyms and jargon which are completely unfamiliar to a civilian like myself. It would have been helpful if there was a military primer at the start explaining the difference between a battalion, a company, and a division, and also a glossary where all of the acronyms are defined. Those things being said, it was still an excellent read (and a quick one, good for my resolution!) and I would recommend it.

One other piece of news that is pertinent to a new years resolution: I actually have a job interview today! I had gotten so used to submitting resumes and never hearing anything back from anyone that I almost fell off my chair when I read an e-mail from someone telling me they might interview me. A few days ago I was scanning for job postings, and I noticed they had a list of recommended jobs associated for my account; Job #2 on the list of recommendations was a posting for a Warehouse Driver in Spokane, WA. This was a bit disheartening, since I had been under the assumption that a PhD in Electrical Engineering qualified me for a higher level job (no offense meant to any warehouse drivers reading this, I'm sure your training was equally intense). At least they asked for "PC Skills" in the posting, I'm pretty sure I picked those up somewhere along the line.

Anyways, the position I am interviewing for this morning (or at least meeting with someone from the company, I'm not sure if it is a full interview) sounds like a great job: the company does really interesting work, the location is perfect (right downtown), and they even have a climbing gym in their headquarters. I don't want to write too much about it since who knows what will happen, but it is at least a step in the right direction towards fulfilling resolution #5 on my list of new years life resolutions.

Weight: 162.4
Body Fat: 5.2%

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Race planning II

After unveiling the first part of my winter racing schedule last week with the announcement of my plans to participate in the Gatineau Loppet on Feb. 21, I think it is time to announce the next part of my racing program: on March 13 I will be racing in the Wasatch Powder Keg, a backcountry ski race in Salt Lake City. I will do the race with my friend Mike who I worked with at the University of Utah, also an avid skier/climber/cyclist. Those of you who have skied with me might be thinking: "What is this muppet doing entering a backcountry ski race, he can barely ski!". To that, I say "Touche". It is true that I am severely lacking in the downhill skiing skills department, but I am hoping that my uphill fitness and patented "survival skiing" downhill style will allow me to reach the finish line in one piece. The race is 14.4 km long, with 5 climbs totaling 5000 feet in elevation gain. At the very least it will be a great day out in the mountains, so I am really excited.

Other news (from the "Things that actually matter" department) is that Roanne had her 5th chemotherapy infusion this past Monday, and is doing really well. The first 4 injections were a mix of two drugs (Adriamycin and Cytoxan) that apparently have more side effects than the drug used for the last 4 injections (Taxol). So this past week was Roanne's first Taxol injection and so far she is feeling far better than she was after the A/C injections. That is to say she is now getting up at 5am to head into work, rather than the 6am rising time she has had in prior weeks. Roanne is pretty amazing/crazy, even while undergoing chemotherapy she clocks more hours of work than I ever will (in the event that I do at some point in the future have the misfortune of finding gainful employment). The only time off she has taken during this whole ordeal has been one day when she first heard the news, and every other Monday since chemotherapy started since the infusion and accompanying doctors appointments take the better part of the day.

Anyways, back to stuff that has no real-world significance: this morning I had another record setting weigh-in, Huzzah!

Weight: 161.4
Body Fat: 5.0%

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Musical Bumps

Sorry for the lack of postings lately! When I don't post it either means that I am busy not having fun (as was the case on Friday when I spent the day working on the bathroom) or busy having fun (as was the case over the weekend when I was up in Vancouver visiting Fras and Carla). Anyways, Friday morning I had a reasonable weigh-in at 163.8, and since I didn't weigh myself over the weekend (my excuse was that I was in Vancouver so it would have been too hard on an unfamiliar scale, in reality I had eaten so many cookies on Friday that I felt sick so I didn't want to face the numbers), so that makes my weekly average for the third week 164.4, meaning that I actually went UP from the second week. Oops! I'm going to have to do better than that to hit my New Years Resolution weight of 160.0!

Anyways, enough about how heavy I am, on to how I spent my weekend! All day Friday I worked on the bathroom, the result being that the sink and vanity is now installed and working (with some help from Roanne when she arrived home from work on Friday) On the left is a picture of our lovely Asian-themed washing station.

I headed up to Vancouver on Friday night, Roanne was staying in Seattle since her Mom was flying in for a visit. The drive went smoothly, and we went to bed soon after my arrival since we had big plans for the following day: a backcountry ski tour of the Musical Bumps up in Whistler!

The alarm went off at 5:30am, and we rolled out of bed and fired up the Bialetti espresso maker and ate some steel cut oats that we had soaked overnight in soy milk. Kyle arrived promptly at 6:20am, and Fras and I loaded up our gear into his Forerunner and we were off! Below is a shot of the early morning drive through downtown Vancouver, headed for the Lions Gate.

We arrived in Squamish just before 7:30am, and rendezvoused with Martin and John (a.k.a. Markezzy). We then continued on to Whistler, and after some routefinding hijinks we finally found the staging area for our backcountry adventure. Below is a shot of us getting our gear in order. After gearing up, Kyle and Markezzy drove the cars to the day lots and took a cab back, since there was no parking at the "trailhead".

With everything now in order, we donned our skins and headed up the trail, making good progress despite the icy conditions that made skinning up steep parts precarious. On the left is a shot of Fras heading up through the trees, it was a beautiful sunny day which made things very enjoyable!

After just under an hour of ascending, we emerged at the Gondola midstation, decided that aerobic activity was over-rated, and hopped on the lift. After riding a few lifts and sampling some of the icy groomers and crowded lift lines, we finally arrived at the taking off point for the start of the real skiing, the gateway to powderland! Below is a shot of Martin and Markezzy looking out over our kingdom.

I wasn't that familiar with the names of all the features so I might be off a bit, but I think that we started by skiing some nice gentle slopes down into flute bowl. Not super steep, but there wasn't so much powder that you couldn't make nice turns so it was still a lot of fun. Here is a shot of Martin at the bottom of our first descent, with Fras approaching in the background:

From here we put our skins back on and headed up Oboe Peak, then de-skinned and had another amazing run, this one being a little steeper with some tree skiing at the bottom. So awesome! Every time I go backcountry skiing it seems like I have having the best runs of my life, so awesome! We regrouped at the base, and rendezvoused with another group led by the fearless Stu "Bookie" Bookbinder. We then all headed up our next objective called Russet Ridge, which turned out to be the longest ascent of the day. We all followed in Markezzy's contrails as he rocketed up the ascent, then deskinned and headed down for the best run of the day. Here is a shot of Fras shredding a turn, Fras has only been on skis a handful of times (Martin lent him his old AT gear for the day) but he is already one of the most promising young skiers of 2010.

At the base we ate some food and regrouped, then started the ascent back up Oboe Peak. We reached the top of Oboe Peak in some amazing light, here is a shot of me after completing this ascent.
We had some amazing views looking south towards Black Tusk, here is a shot of the scenery. Black Tusk is noticeable is the little bump in the middle of the horizon (ascending Black Tusk is still on my to-do list!).

We had planned on skinning back up and into the in-bounds Whistler terrain, since that would make for the easiest way down. The other option was to drop into the valley that leads to Singing Pass, and ski out along that hiking trail, but from talking to Markezzy who had done it three times previously it sounded like a bit of an ordeal. However, Bookie caught up with us as we were de-skinning on Oboe Peak, and he convinced us to follow him on a descent that would take us into Singing Pass. We headed down one more sweet powder descent into the valley, along the way encountering a 5 foot cornice drop that the others fired with ease, and on which Fras and myself deployed the "Cornice Butt Drop" technique where you sit down and swing your skis over the edge, then sitting on the edge of the cornice slowly ooze off of it until your skis touch the slope beneath. Watch for it in the next extreme ski video you see. We also encountered a "booter" (jump) someone had built, Martin, Kyle, Markezzy, and Stu all launched off this while Fras and I skied beside it (equally awesome). Finally there was a small cliff that the others dropped and Fras and I again managed to avoid. Below is a shot of Martin sailing off the cliff.

We eventually made our way down into the valley, where we followed the seemingly never-ending trail/bobsled course back into the village. The bobsled course was punctuated by narrow log bridges that you could either try to ski across (with dire consequences if you went off the edge) or keep taking your skis off and walking across in your slippery ski boots. It was a real nightmare, if you ever are faced with an option of descending Singing Pass on skis (or a snowboard, that would have been even worse) you should avoid it at all costs. The only good thing, as Markezzy opined as we finished up, was that we are all now "Singing Pass Certified" and we never have to do it again. Sweet! We emerged at the Whistler Base area in the dark (as all good adventures should end), and sat down to enjoy a pint under the heat lamps.

What an awesome day! After experiencing backcountry ski rides, I can't believe that anyone would ever ski at a resort (other than to bum a lift up into the backcountry). On the ride back to Vancouver we were feeling pretty tired and sore from the full day, and Fras put in a request that our next day's activities not involve using our arms. He thought a little longer, and then put in a request for the activity to not involve using our legs either. I assented, knowing that he would come to his senses after a good night's sleep.

We woke up Sunday morning around 8am, fired up the Bialetti, and then picked a restful activity we could do for the day: nordic skiing! What a great idea, so easy on the arms and legs! So we headed up to Cypress, where they are currently in a state of panic with low snow conditions and the Olympics just around the corner. Looking across from the nordic center at the downhill runs was pretty wild, one set of runs was entirely brown and green with grass and dirt, and there where helicopters flying around with loads of snow to dump on the other set of runs where they had been making snow.

At the nordic area we were greeted by thin coverage and brown slush, as seen in the photo below.

It looked like some of the worst conditions I have ever skied in, definitely the highest dirt to snow ratio. But, we had come all the way there, and nordic skiing is so stinkin' fun that even if you are skiing in pure mud it is probably more fun than most other things, so we bought two passes it and it was off to the races! Luckily the snow was better at the higher elevations, here is a shot of me skiing in some slightly whiter snow.

In the upper loops we stopped for a while at the warming hut where Fras started a fire to warm us up. Luckily the poor snow meant that we didn't have to deal with any crowds in the hut (come to think of it, you never have to deal with crowds while nordic skiing since the misery sticks don't appeal to most people).

There was also some sort of children's event going on near Hollyburn Lodge, with little kids wearing race bibs and milling around. I dubbed this event the Sitzmark Loppet after one of the runs, but Fras didn't like that title so he renamed it the Spitzmark Locket, which has a nice ring to it also. After skiing for a couple of hours we headed back to Vancouver and finished the day with a bike ride to MEC and a trip to Granville Island to make a delicious dinner of grilled halibut and veg. What a great weekend!

Anyways, one last piece of info before I sign off: I am on fire with my weigh-ins this week! I think it must have been the delicious canoli that Fras and Carla fed me on Sunday night, yesterday morning I set a 2010 record with 162.8 lbs, and then this morning I smashed it again with 162.2! Bene!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I had a great day yesterday, somehow I frittered away the morning, then around 11am I headed out for my longest roller ski to date. I made it right to the end of the Burke-Gilman Trail and back for a 3 hour ski, which was really good. It also helped that it was so stinkin' nice out, sunny and really warm. I was pretty shattered when I got back from that, so I lazed around some more, watched the Versus coverage of the Tour Down Under, and then around 4 pm I finally switched into home improvement mode and started working on the bathroom. Unfortunately I had to break off around 5:30 pm to start making dinner, so not too much accomplished on that front.

The reason I had to start dinner preparations was that our favourite German (Matthias) was in town and was stopping by after he finished his work-related activities. I had lined up an ambitious menu that included seared scallops, sunchoke puree, steamed artichokes, and collared greens. I had never worked with artichokes before, they are really confusing, and collared greens were new to me also. This led to some frustration, but luckily Matthias the vegetable expert showed up partway through prep-time and took over the collared greens. Dinner ended up being really good, and it was great to hang out with Matze as well. On the left is an action shot from dinner; Roanne is in the foreground wearing her wizard cloak.

Lastly, I had a terrible weigh-in this morning, coming in at 165.6! I am supposed to be averaging 163 this week, what is going on!?! I think it might have had something to do with overdosing on chocolate milk and granola after my ski, under the pretense of it being a recovery drink. I'm all out of chocolate milk now, so maybe I will have better luck tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Race planning

This past week I laid plans for achieving #5 of my New Years sporting resolutions: I registered for the Gatineau Loppet, a 53 km nordic ski race held in Quebec. I don't think it is quite as large as the Birkie, but the website touts it as "Canada's #1 Cross Country Ski Event" so it should be good. An added bonus is that I am combining it with a trip back to Toronto to visit my family, who I missed over Christmas when Roanne and I had to cancel our trip home because of her chemo treatments. Another great thing about this event is that I will be doing it with Trev, it will be fun to race together. I have been doing some other race planning lately, which I will announce in a subsequent posting.

Weight: 164.0

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Yesterday was an amazing day here in Seattle, with the sun making its first appearance in a few weeks. I got out for a short roller ski in the morning, then spent the afternoon running some errands and installing the toilet in our downstairs bathroom. After a few hiccups with the supply line (it has an auto shut off feature that I was inadvertently activating by turning the water on too fast) it finally came together, and we now have a working toilet on our main floor! Roanne will be very happy about this as she is not fond of making the trek up the stairs when she is laid out on the couch with no energy after her chemo treatments (I gave a few piggy back rides to the upstairs bathroom to help out with this, but the last one ended with me almost dropping her in the toilet during the dismount so we haven't had many of those lately).

We met our friends Cam and Annie for dinner at Cafe Lago which was good, though I should have ordered lasagna instead of pizza. After dinner I went to the climbing gym for about an hour, though it ended up being late and I have now realized that despite my best intentions there is no point in me being at the climbing past 10pm since I have no energy and just feel like going to sleep on the crash pads. For the last week or so the outside of one elbow has been bothering me, it feels like some tendonitis but I was not sure if it was from climbing or skiing. Having now done both activities a few times I now think it is from climbing, so I will take a week off and be diligent about icing it so that I can get back after it next week.

Weight: 163.6

Monday, January 18, 2010


We have been doing some renovations on our new house in Seattle (new to us, not newly constructed), and after stalling out during the holidays I decided it was time to ramp up again. All the drywall is completed, so the next big step is to get the trim up. This is most urgent in the downstairs bathroom, since it will allow the toilet to be installed. The difficulty with installing the trim is finding a match for the existing trim, the house was built 106 years ago (in 1903) which means that replacement parts can be hard to come by. On Friday I went to a millwork place in Seattle to see what they had, they did not have a suitable replacement but could custom make some for us. There were two problems with this: first, there was a 2-3 week lead time, and second, it was pretty expensive with setup fees of a few hundred dollars and then about $13 per linear foot of baseboard trim.

In light of these drawbacks, I decided to head to home depot, buy a router (using the money saved by avoiding setup fees), and see what I could cobble together using their stock moulding. Here is a photo of the baseboard I was trying to match, it is unusual in that it is about 10 inches high:

Here is a shot of my trim fabrication station (located on our front porch due to rainy Seattle weather), we already had the miter saw but the router is a new addition:

At Home Depot I procured some 7 inch MDF boards and some door trim, at about $1.50 per linear foot:

Et, voila! With a little routing I was able to come up with a reasonable approximation to the existing trim for the cost of the router (which would have been put towards set up fees for the custom trim) and about 1/10th the cost per linear foot of the custom trim!

Hopefully this week I can get the toilet and sink installed (my progress is usually inversely correlated with how good the weather is, sunny days lead to more time spent skiing and riding my bike and very little time spent on home improvements), further updates as events warrant.

Weight: 164.6

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Summer lovin'

This winter I have spent a reasonable amount of time ruing the fact that I no longer live in Salt Lake City with world class skiing right on my doorstep. Every time I check the weather report for Snoqualmie Pass to find that it is raining (instead of snowing, as it should be), Roanne asks to check the weather in Salt Lake City and I refuse since I know it will only drive me further into depression.

However, this morning I was flipping through some photos from this summer and I found reason to cheer: the mountain biking here is stinkin' amazing!!! In August Trev came out for a visit to Vancouver, and Trev, Fras and I did a ride up in Whistler called Comfortably Numb, and oh man was it ever awesome! It was about 28 km in length, which doesn't seem that long, but it was pretty technical so it took a while to ride. However, for me it was just the perfect level of technical: lots of fun ladder bridges and steep rocky sections, but not much of the completely insane riding that can be found on many of the north shore trails. I definitely need to ride it again this summer, and keep it fresh in my mind here are a few photos from the outing. Here is one of me rocketing down one of the descents:

Here is one of Trev navigating a technical downhill section:

Here is one of me inspecting the riverbed:

Here is one of Fras gliding down some pristine singletrack:

And finally one of the three amigos with Mt. Garibaldi (maybe?) in the background:

What an awesome day! Hopefully Trev can make the trip out west again this summer and we can have some more adventures.

On the weight front, another good day this morning with the scales reading 163.4, which brings my weekly average to 164.1. This is 1.1 pounds less than the average of the previous week so the program seems to be working, verr nice!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


This morning while having breakfast I was checking some blogs for ski conditions in Snoqualmie Pass, and one of them happened to have a link to a ski video on youtube. I watched it, and afterward was super motivated to ski, and had an amazing time out at Cabin Creek, clocking in 48 km despite some wet, warm, and slow conditions. I think from now on I will watch a short ski video before every time I go skiing, it was really inspiring. Anyone else out there who skis should try it out also, and to make it easier for you I have linked to a short video below. I think it is also instructive to watch elite skiers to see what technique they use in different terrain, one big thing that I got from the video was that your turnover rate while doing offset should be really high, and your hands should be spread fairly wide when you plant your poles. Anyways, watch this video and then go skiing!

Weight: 164.4

Friday, January 15, 2010

Golden Beets

Yesterday was another rainy day here in Seattle, I had planned on getting out for a roller ski but it poured rain all day and I wasn't sufficiently motivated to ski in the rain. Instead I did some work planning out how much trim we will need to complete our recent home renovations, and took a bunch of debris that had been hanging around the yard to the dump.

I did fit in an hour long ride on my rollers in the evening, while watching the 2009 Giro d'Italia on DVD. The workout I did was called "Spin ups", where you slowly increase your cadence for a minute, then spend another minute holding it as high as you can without bouncing on your seat, then recover for 3 minutes and repeat. I was able to consistently hold it in the 130-135 rpm range, with bursts into the 135-140 rpm range. I would love to be able to keep it above 140 rpm, maybe if I keep working on it. Although, I'm not sure it is much of an advantage for me. During the last group ride I did, Jake and Chad complimented me on my fast cadence as they rode away from me on the climbs using their slower cadences but much higher power outputs. Darn these spider legs of mine! Oh well, if you're going to ride slow you might as well have a smooth and buttery pedal stroke.

Another double-edged compliment had come my way earlier in that same ride, when I had been letting some gaps open up between myself and the rider in front of me, and was forced to sprint out of the saddle to close them down. When I really try hard during out of the saddle sprints I tend to lean forward a lot to try and eke every possible watt out of my spider legs (as Phil Liggett would say "put your forehead on the stem and nail it back!"). After one of these episodes, Jen (another member of the group ride) asked me "Can you teach me how to do that?". At first I thought she was "having a go" at me, but when I realized she was sincere I tried to carefully explain that the technique was borne out of desperation rather than cognitive intent, and it was most definitely not a good thing that I was being forced into it at this early stage in the group ride.

Anyways, how did I get started on this discussion of my cycling inadequacies? Let's move on. Last night I cooked up another few items from our Produce Delivery, some roasted golden beets, onions, potatoes, and garlic (pictured at left). They were pretty good, even though I don't normally like beets much. Finally, another good weigh in this morning, equaling the 2010 record set earlier in the week.

Weight: 163.4
Body Fat: 5.8%

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Non Resident

For the last year or so I have been considering a career change from Electrical Engineering to Medicine, so last summer after leaving Salt Lake City to move to Seattle I wrote the MCATs and applied to the UW School of Medicine. I was pretty confident in my application since I had done well on the MCATs, I had taken most of the supplementary courses required that were not present from my engineering education, and I had done some other activities like volunteering. The UW Medical School has a strong preference for in-state applicants, non-residents are only considered if they come from a disadvantaged background (I grew up in Ontario without a mountain in sight, does that count?) or show a desire to live and work in rural areas (no thanks!).

I thought this wouldn't be a problem since we moved to Seattle in July which put me here one year in advance of when I would have started classes, which would classify me as a resident by the time classes started. However, it turns out that to be considered as a resident for application purposes, you need to have been here for 6 months prior to the application deadline. We moved here in time to meet that deadline, but I kept my job at the University of Utah until August 14, flying back during the week and staying with friends (Mike and Laura, who were amazing hosts). I found out a few weeks ago that my application for residence status had been turned down because of this, as it constituted a legal tie to Utah within the 6 month window.

This was a bummer as it meant my application was dead in the water before it could even be considered on grounds of academic merit and my other activities. There were still a few other avenues to pursue, so I appealed both to the Registrar's Office (to reverse the decision on my residency) and to the Medical School (to ignore the decision by the registrar's office on my residency). I found out this week that both of these appeals had been denied, so my final slim chance was to change my application to that of a non-resident and then show up for my interview in a cowboy hat and overalls as demonstration of my desire to live in a rural setting. However, I was not given the chance to try this approach, as I found out yesterday that my non-resident application was turned down without even a request to fill out a supplemental application.

So there you have it. It was a bit disappointing to get this news since I have done a lot in the past year towards putting in this application, but on the positive side I am still not 100% decided about whether I want to go through with this so it will give me another year to think about it.

Weight: 164.4

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

1 down, 11 to go.

Yesterday I took a step towards making good on #6 in the life category of my New Years Resolutions by finishing reading my first book of 2010. The book is called "The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care", written by T.R. Reid. I had heard a segment of a talk by the author on NPR and it sounded pretty interesting, so I decided to read the book. I read the book on Roanne's Kindle, which was a first for me. I would say that the book was moderately interesting, here are the main points:
  • The U.S. spends the most in the world on healthcare (16% of GDP) but does not have anywhere close to the best healthcare performance (measured in terms of mortality rates, life expectancy, and other statistics).
  • The reason that American healthcare is so expensive is it's for-profit insurance companies, they routinely spend 20% of their budget on non-healthcare expenditures (as compared with 2-5% in most other countries), and have high motivation to deny insurance to those that need it (sick people) since it will eat into their profits.
Weight: 164.2

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Produce delivery!

Roanne's chemo treatment went well yesterday, and when we arrived home we discovered our first weekly fruit and veg delivery. It came in a large tupperware, and the produce all looked fresh and in good shape. The most unusual thing were the Sunchokes, which we only learned about recently when we had them in a restaurant.

In keeping with my "Mostly veg" New Years resolution, I cooked up a vegetarian cous cous recipe that Roanne had found in People Magazine (that bastion of high culture). We complemented this with a salad made entirely from our produce bin, and Emily stopped by to enjoy the feast. After dinner I hit the climbing gym for a couple of hours which was fun, and then this morning I had my best weigh-in of 2010!

Weight: 163.4
Body Fat: 5.9%

Monday, January 11, 2010


Right now Roanne and I are at the Seattle Cancer Care alliance, where she is waiting to receiver her 4th (of 8) chemotherapy treatment. It is pretty exciting to already be at the halfway mark, and after this one the toxic cocktail changes to other drugs which apparently have fewer side effects. Here is a picture from the waiting room, with rainy Seattle in the background.

Yesterday afternoon I did a nordic ski up at Hyak which was pretty fun, though the snow conditions were not great. They have had a lot of freezing rain and it was pretty warm, so despite the grooming the track was a bit chunky. This coupled with a proliferation of snowshoers who love to walk right in the middle of the skate lane made for difficult conditions. I only skied 32 km, and my average speed was just 12.6 km/hr (as compared with 16.7 km/hr last week at Cabin Creek when I did 52 km). It did include a big climb though, from the elevation profile below you can see that the opening climb ascends 1800 feet in just 7 km.

On the weigh-in front things are looking pretty bleak, despite my best efforts I seem to be getting heavier. If this doesn't change in the next few days I will need to enact some drastic measures.

Weight: 165.8

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Weekly Average

Well, the first week of my resolutions have drawn to a close, and though I didn't write an update yesterday I weighed 165.6, and this morning I was 165.8. So, my weekly average can be calculated as 165.2, which is about what I expected since I assumed to be started at 165 and needing to lose 5 lbs. So now I had better get down to business, and drop at least a pound per week. I am in a head-to-head weight loss competition with my brother Fras, so hopefully he has been eating lots of chocolate cake.

Yesterday I had a great 2.5 hour roller ski along the Burke-Gilman, I was super tired by the end of it. It felt like the bearings in my skis had slowed down by the end, but this was more likely probably just due to be being tired. Today I will either go ski up at Hyak, or go to the climbing gym. Other exciting news is that we just signed up for weekly deliveries of organic produce through New Roots Organics. Each week they deliver a box of seasonal organic produce, from local sources when possible. I think it will be fun to be surprised each week and try out some fruit and veg that we might not otherwise have sampled. Take a look in your area and see if you have something similar, there seem to be a number of these services in different cities.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Too much Thai food!

Last night Roanne and I met Jen and Chris at the art museum and then went for dinner at Wild Ginger. It was really good, a little too good as the scale told me this morning!

Weight: 166.6

Thursday, January 7, 2010

That's why we're tougher than them boys

Yesterday I went skate skiing at Cabin Creek in Snoqualmie Pass. It was pretty icy due to freeze thaw cycles, which made the skiing much more difficult than on previous outings (and reminded me that I am still a pretty bad skier). I had planned on doing 50km to try and build fitness for some longer ski races that I plan on doing later in the year, but after a few km I found myself lamenting the bad conditions, considering going home early, and reminiscing of the perfect dry snow back in Salt Lake City. After a few minutes of this I suddenly thought of a quote from Steve Peat in the mountain bike movie Seasons: Peat is being interviewed in his home country of Great Britain during the winter, as he gets ready to head out on a muddy training ride in the pouring rain. The interviewer notes the terrible conditions, and asks him if he feels as a disadvantage to riders who do their winter training in places like Spain with more favourable conditions. Peatie just laughs, shrugs his shoulders, and says "No, because that's why we're a lot tougher than those boys!". So, inspired by Peatie, I sucked it up and clocked in my 51.7km (as measured by my GPS) which involved about 5 repeats of the trails (they didn't have all the trails groomed).

Weight: 164.6
Body Fat: 6.7%

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Vegetable Lasagna

Yesterday I baked a delicious roasted vegetable lasagna, as part of my new years resolution to eat less meat. It was really good, probably because it had equal parts cheese to vegetables. I also managed to squeeze in two physical activities, I went for a 1 hour roller ski in the late afternoon, then in the evening I rode my bike to Stone Gardens, climbed for an hour and half, and then rode back. After the climbing session I drank some chocolate milk which is an amazing recovery drink, I felt like a rocket on the bike ride home. I also had a good weigh-in this morning, back in the 164 range. I think I am going to head out for a nordic ski at Cabin Creek right now... ah, the joys of unemployment, maybe I should scratch life resolution #5!

Weight: 164.4
Body Fat: 6.0%

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Rainy and warm

This morning it is rainy and warm here in Seattle, I wish it would get colder so they would get some snow (or at least no rain) in the mountains! I keep hearing on the news that the rest of the country is in a cold snap, I wish we had the same! Hopefully the skiing stays reasonable. Last night I rode my rollers for an hour while watching my new 2009 Giro d'Italia video (thanks Rosie!), then did a core workout before going to bed. Today I am split between going to the climbing gym or doing a roller ski, I think the former will win out since it looks pretty miserable out there. A slight uptick on the weight front this morning, but I think it is small enough that it can be attributed to additive white gaussian noise (AWGN).

Weight: 165.4
Body fat: 6.2%

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010 New Years Resolutions

Welcome to my new blog! The subject matter of this blog will just be my life, so if you are not related to me then there is a good chance that you won't care about anything I write here (actually, I guess that might hold even if you are related to me!). Most of the posts will probably be about cycling, skiing, or climbing (depending on what time of year it is), but some posts about trivialities such as careers, home improvements, and our ten kids might also find their way in here. Anyways, I thought that a good way to start would be with a post about my new years resolutions (there are quite a few of them), so here we go. I have subdivided them into sport resolutions and life resolutions.

Sport Resolutions
  1. Redpoint a 5.13 sport climb. This is a long term goal of mine, so it will most likely happen in the fall. I have sent a few 5.12d's so if I can get into climbing shape then this will take a bunch of work but it shouldn't be that much of a stretch. My climb of choice would probably be Chronic, a classic 5.13b out at Little Si.
  2. Onsight a 5.11 trad climb. I would like to get better at trad climbing so that I can do some more classic multi-pitch routes.
  3. Upgrade my road racing license to Category 3. I really like road racing, but for some reason I am terrible at it. I would like to say it is because I am tall and have poor aerodynamics, but Tom "Boom Boom" Boonen is 6'4" and he doesn't seem to have problems winning races.
  4. Do the Leadville 100 mountain bike race. This is mostly dependent on gaining admission through the lottery system which seems like it might be difficult, especially with the publicity the race has received recently with Lance Armstrong's participation and the movie "Race Across the Sky".
  5. Do a 50km nordic ski race. My first race of this length was the American Birkebeiner last year, and while it doesn't look like I will be able to do that one again (we have tickets for the marathon nordic ski at the Winter Olympics, held on the same weekend as the Birkie) there are a couple of other options including the Gatineau Loppet in Quebec and the Ozbaldy held at our local ski area of Cabin Creek.
  6. Do the Spearhead Traverse ski tour in Whistler. This is a backcountry ski tour that I would like to do with my brother Fras, it is 35km long with about 5000 feet of climbing. Our plan would be to try and do it in one long day to avoid carrying camping gear.
Life Resolutions
  1. Weigh 160 lbs. This resolution is largely motivated by sporting considerations, performance in most of the things I do in my free time (which I have a lot of right now, see resolution #5 below) is improved by being lighter. Right now I am about 165 lbs, so I would like to lose 5 lbs and stay that way. I think 160 lbs is my ideal weight, but for reasons such as #2 below I am usually closer to 165 lbs.
  2. Only eat dessert on special occasions. I really like dessert, and I quite often get stuck in a pattern where I want to eat a lot of it every day. I think #1 above will be easier to achieve if I can discipline myself to only eat it occasionally. Special occasions can include birthday parties, dinner at a restaurant, and vacations.
  3. Shop at the local farmers market. This is something that I have always meant to do, but have never quite gotten around to. I think there are a lot of benefits to eating locally grown, organic produce, and farmers markets seem like a good way to do this. The only difficulty is that they are usually held smack in the middle of prime leisure time, from 10am-2pm on weekends. This makes it hard to get there if you want to spend the day at a bike race or skiing.
  4. Only eat meat once a week. Roanne and I just watched the movie Food Inc, and it reinforced a lot of things I had read previously about the damaging effects on the environment of raising meat. Most things I have read also indicate that eating less meat is better for your health, so this seems like an easy choice. I do like meat and don't want to stop eating it entirely (e.g. I still want turkey at Christmas), but I think a good way to start will be by eating meat no more than once per week.
  5. Get a job. I haven't had a job since I left my position at the University of Utah to move to Seattle, and while I have kept busy with working on renovating our new house and various leisure activities (climbing, skiing, and cycling), I feel like it is time for me to once again be a contributing member of society.
  6. Read one book per month. Normally I am pretty good about reading books, but during the last year we had a lot of things going on and for some reason I didn't get as much reading done as I would have liked.
So, those are all of my resolutions. This posting is as much for my own benefit as it will give me something to refer back to throughout the year and see how I am doing. Hopefully by the end of 2010 I will have fulfilled all of them, and throughout the year I can write updates on my progress. For the weight goal, I will post my morning weight here every time I write a post so that I can keep myself honest. We have a Tanita scale that also measures body fat, and even though I have read that they are not every accurate, I will post that figure as well and see how well it correlates with my weight. So, thanks for reading (if anyone got this far) and have a great 2010!

Weight: 164.2
Body Fat: 5.8%