Monday, November 17, 2014

Cold turkey... Err, chicken

   Dashing through the… Snow?! Yep, we had an early snow over the weekend. The Shibas and I love it! I also love this doge forecast which my friend David shared with me.
   It's dozens of degrees colder than normal this time of year, a good day to sleep on the couch, said the pets. I agree, as my legs are still recovering from yesterday's race.
   I did stand outside in the 21° weather (which I later found out felt like only 12°) to grill some chicken wings that I had a sudden craving for. Crazy? Yes... Crazy good!
   I used the homemade jalapeno hot sauce which I made from my other friend David's peppers. Quite possibly the best wings I've ever had! Certainly, the best ones I've ever made myself.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Shiba coat color genetics & more

   I was doing some Shiba Inu research tonight and found this great breeder blog with Punnett squares illustrating the genetics of color in Shibas, just like the images I used to study when I was 12 and worked for a collie breeder. And that led me to this excellent and informative illustrated site with a ton of genetic information for various colors, mutations, and breeds. And finally, I stumbled across this rescue site summarizing Shiba behavior (and as usual, stressing the challenges).

Longview 13.1 photos

    Check out these great photos of Saturday's race, courtesy of the KC Running Company. If you look closely on the left side, you'll see Rafael, me (in the radioactive orangish-pink shirt), and Herschel (one of our pacers, in the blue shirt with the 2:00 sign).
    We're rounding the first curve, and already Rafael has left me as only a blip of neon in the background. I had little hope of keeping up with the Spaniard; I ran a PR... but he ran an even faster PR!
   Here are a bunch of people coming up and then going down the biggest hill in the race. It doesn't look that steep... but looks can be deceiving.

   Rafa proves at mile 11 that he's got this, with a big smile on his face!
   While the Jens are hanging tough, just about 18 minutes behind him. This is our mile 11 shot, just as we're about to kick it into high gear.

    Here's Rafa, smiling even bigger at the finish! (Gun time is shown; his chip time was just under 1:40:59.)
    And here's proof that my smile was as big at the end as it was when I started, with a chip time of 1:59:04... that's 55 seconds faster than I was trying for, and about 4 minutes faster than my previous PR. Herschel told me at the start that we were going to "run it in TWO, TO-day!" and he nailed it. He and Ashley made sure I beat my goal.
   This is officially the heaviest metal I've earned... this thing is about a quarter inch thick. Serious hardware! And as you can guess, I wanted to run this race to get this baby. Awesome design!

Saturday, November 15, 2014


   Some of our merry crew in Times Square for our big Northpole Communicator event this weekend! Bring your kids to Crown Center 12/5-12/7 to experience talking to the Northpole elves! And for those of you in Cali, I'll be at the event at Hollywood & Highland 12/19-12/21.
   The Northpole movie premieres tonight at 7:00pm CST on the Hallmark Channel. It will also be on Netflix and other streaming services, and the DVD will be available wherever Hallmark products are sold (Hallmark Gold Crown stores, CVS, Walmart, Walgreens, Kohl's, JCPenney, etc.). The DVD at Walmart contains exclusive bonus content: Polariffic!, a 5-minute 3D-animated short that I directed/produced with my colleagues. 
   In case it isn't obvious, I'm a Hallmark employee. But I wouldn't be sharing this if I didn't believe we had created something truly special!

Third half marathon in the books!

    This morning was the inaugural Longview half marathon. I registered for it long ago, primarily because... their logo design is so nice and I wanted the shirt and the medal. Umm... yeah... that might just be an artist thing. Anyhoo, it is fortunate that I am a cold-weather-running-lover, because it was in the mid-20s and dropping during the race, with icy gusts of wind periodically, and pretty flurries at the end. 
   But, what a nice sunrise. *Almost* makes it worth getting out of a nice, warm, cozy bed at 5:45 am. Blecch!
   I wore my fleece headband, silk neck gaiter, neon pink long-sleeved shirt, tights, and knee-high compression socks. And I am noting this so that next time I run in these temps, I will add gloves and a light jacket, because I was not quite warm enough. Most of the run I was fine, but I had a lot of trouble warming up afterwards. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here are Rafael and I in the starting chute. Rafael's company sent him to KC from Rochester, NY for the week to work, and he extended his stay to Sunday so that he could run this with me. My favorite Spaniard!
   And here we are afterwards, all smiles since we both achieved PRs! I beat my goal pace of 2 hours by almost a full minute, and Rafael killed it with a time of 1:41! Here we are in our sexy mylar blankets and the pace sign we blew past, with our medals, by the finish line. YAYYY!
   The course was a lot of doubling back, which is not my preference; I like loops, so I don't have to repeat any ground. But, the doubling up means you can look for people you know, and I picked out Jen K and Delia B! It Jen was right with me the whole race, and Delia and Rafael were in perfect position for me to cheer her on... him ahead of me, her behind.
   I downloaded this pace chart to give me an idea of what I wanted to try for. But as I learned at packet pickup last night, I didn't need to keep track.
   KC Running Company arranged for pacers. I had never used a pacer before and didn't know how it worked. But I grabbed the 2 hour wristband and figured it was worth a try. I have to admit that I wondered if I could do it, since my current PR was 2:03, and I haven't been able to train hard, with a nasty bout of tendinitis affecting my arches and calves. Dr. Green gave me the okay to run, and has been administering laser treatments to stimulate cell growth, in addition to recommending two Aleve 2x/day and Biofreeze. He also had a great quote that stuck with me: "Those who don't train hard enough won't make it to the finish line. And those who train too hard won't make it to the start line." So I took all that very seriously, have only been running when I felt like it, and threw in a new pair of compression socks at packet pickup. And I think it all helped.
   I met our pacers, Herschel and Ashley, in the chute. Both were friendly, and both had personal PRs in the low 1:30s and lots of marathon (and even some Ironman) experience, so I knew I was in good hands. "Smart Pacing" meant that the pace is adjusted every mile based on the road conditions (incline/decline) and allows for walking through the aid stations every 2 miles to hydrate. Herschel explained that Ashley would run in the front of our pack, and would aim to finish the race about 30 seconds before the 2 hour mark. Herschel would run in the back, and aim to finish 10 seconds before 2 hours. So, as long as you were ahead of Herschel, you were guaranteed to finish at the goal time. 
   What this meant is that you met your 2-hour group right at the start, and ran with them the whole way—like your own, personal posse! A pack within the race. And there was also a race within the race, King of the Mountain:
   This was a mile-long uphill stretch that started at mile 2. There were timing mats at the base and the top, and special plaques were awarded to the top 15 men and women who ran it the fastest, regardless of their finish time. But, since charging this hill would pretty much blow our energy for the remaining 10.1 miles, our group took it easy. At least, we did until mile 10. I still had enough gas left in the tank to get more aggressive, so I took on that half-mile hill and kept pushing as we curved back downhill to 11. For mile 12, I ran ahead of Ashley, and for the remaining 1.1, I kicked it up to 8:35. My final time was 1:59:03.4, 409th place out of 1523 runners, and 33rd for my age group.
   It's funny how time seems to move in slow-motion after a big race. After lunch I came home to clean up, post a few photos, and do laundry. (And of course watch the premiere of Northpole!) My hips are a little sore as always, I'm a little sleepy, and my tummy isn't too happy, presumably from the Shot Blox (energy chews). But other than that, I'm all smiles!

Pie with a Side of Serendipity

   After the race, Rich and Lori got off duty and we met them at Providence for some incredibly delicious pizza (and I'm certain I'm not just saying that because I was race-hungry!) I mean, just see for yourself. And in case you can't see it, there's bacon on there.
   And when I went to the restroom I had a laugh: check out the name of the paper towel dispenser! Serendipity is funny. And I'm not just saying that because I saw that movie for the first time last night, which I did. 
   Long live John Cusack, long runs, and delicious pizza!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sunrise, sunset

   A few photos that I captured this week. These two sunrise photos were taken just a couple minutes apart. Isn't it amazing how quickly the colors change? These first three sunrises were taken looking out my front porch: 
   This one isn't quite as dramatic, but still pretty:
   This one is one of my most prized sunrise shots. And I have to thank my sister Lindsey for it, because I saw her post a photo. She is in the eastern time zone, so I had a little advance notice of what was to come. Mine still looks quite different from hers, of course, but both were gorgeous.
   And a couple different sunsets from vantage points around Crown Center:
   That glowing yellow tent is over the ice rink.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Kobe the Shiba

   Tami Got her foster dog, a handsome one year old black and tan boy with a red head, whom she named Kobe. Like most dogs who are released from puppy mills, he is quite shy and withdrawn. He will come around quickly I'm sure, but for now, Here are a couple of "current state" images. Tami sent me these two shots from day one:
   Curious and outgoing kitty Olivia better not get too accustomed to this dog as a shrinking violet…
   Then, after being neutered, he had to wear a cone briefly so he would leave his stitches alone. Hopefully toughest parts of his life are all behind him now. Best of luck to Tami and Kobe!

Kicking your Mac in the pants

   My Macbook is doing some strange things lately (fan running amok, video card creating artwork on my screen, going into sleep mode randomly while I'm working), and I found this great article on resetting the PRAM and the SMC. Posting it here so I can easily refer to it later, and if it helps you, too, then awesome! Apple has this to say about an SMC reset.

Mistaken identity

   Some Shiba owners just posted these on the Shibaholics forum. Everyone asks if my black & tan is a mini husky, and my red is often mistaken for a corgi or basenji (or fox, of course). And when I tell someone the breed name, the response is frequently, "Shibu ina?" LOL! I guess not everyone studies Japanese. ;)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Black & white photo challenge

   My friend and dive buddy, Jesse D, challenged me to a five-day black-and-white photo challenge. I decided to go new school and just use my iPhone for the job. Here's what I have come up with so far:
   This is my last dahlia of the season, which is now living inside my cozy little house, since we've already had a hard freeze:
   Day two: This images from the dive shop, since I spent much of the day they're teaching a discover scuba class today:
   And this is a bonus black & white challenge image for day two. I spotted this on the sidewalk; it islight cast by my Scott & Allyson's landscape lighting. The seam on the right side is between the edge of the sidewalk and the flower bed with mulch. Reminds me of my dahlia image, actually!
    Day three: A close-up of the bark of a persimmon tree in Britten and Rich's yard. I don't believe I've ever had fresh persimmon, and it certainly is an interesting taste. They sent me home with a few, so I'll have to figure out something fancy to make.

   And here is a photo of Rich and me on the trail and Landahl park. I realized during the run that the reason I liked the signs is that they look like the ones marking the ski slopes in Colorado. And snowboarding season is fast approaching!

   Day four was a little closer to home: a portrait of my sweet boy Taylor, sporting an autumn fascinator.
    Day five started out tough, but ended well. I took out my laptop to do some work on the bus. This screen came up, and refused to go away. Time to zap the PRAM!
   Fortunately, that's always have a way of making us feel better. Here is kismet declaring that it's time for bed:
    Shooting for black-and-white is a great challenge, one that I haven't tackled very often. It's amazing how much of a crutch color can be; when you try an image in black-and-white, there has to be a significant level of contrast to deliver an image with enough integrity. Like anything else, though, it will just take more practice, and the practice is highly enjoyable. In just five days time, I started looking at the world in a new way. I might just have to continue this challenge…