[code"> [/code"> Courtenay Brown: October 2006

Sunday, October 29, 2006

So Scary

Just wait till the end, you will see what I mean about scary...

Anyway, it's Halloween weekend. Halloween is historically my very favourite holiday, but for some reason this year I allowed life to distract me from preparing a good costume. Bummer. Next year I will be something for sure. I like to try to wear the least revealing outfit possible. Most chicks are skank-somethingorother for Halloween and it's kinda boring. Dudes either cross-dress or go as pimp-somethingorother. So the challenge is to be clever, NOT "sexy", if you ask me.

Enough preaching. The other night we carved our pumpkins, pictured below. Guess which one was mine and which was Devon's?

Today we went to lunch in Rockridge and apparently it is community trick-or-treat day for the kiddies. There were some great costumes, sadly I forgot my camera, but we saw all kinds of fruit and vegetable-clad toddlers, a few fairies, and my favourite: Curious George (who was about 3) and the man in yellow (Dad went all out, it was awesome). There were also some cute puppies dressed up. Rockridge can be so wholesome, I love it.

Last night we went to a party in the city. It was not exactly wholesome, but it was fun.

Kate was a Kangaroo, she made the costume herself!

Colin was the Sprocket guy from some TV show that I don't watch but everyone else probably does. SNL perhaps? He did the dance, it was so incredibly funny, I don't know why I didn't think of doing a video but I didn't, and his clothes were from the ladies' department at H&M (although the glasses were from the dollar store, hence the mismatched lenses):

Pat was a VERY believable Nerd:

Molly was a Space Vampire - I did not know there was such a thing but there is, and she looked great! Then she decided she hated her costume and started disassembling it... But at least she had a costume on. Anyway, the Space Vampire:

Jeff was the Bird Flu. I loved the costume, I don't know why I didn't take a photo, but I don't know him too well so I didn't want to intrude.

JD saw Halloween as the perfect occasion to loose his lesbian hairdo, which he has been sporting since Superweek or thereabouts, in favor of a new redneck mullet hairdo. Sue was understandably embarassed, she and I definitely commiserated and eye-rolled over our boys' costumes (you will see why I had reason to commiserate in a minute). I am sorry I didn't get a photo of Sue's costume, it was very clever and resourceful so I loved it! She was Static Cling and had some socks, underwear, and a glove attached to her shirt and skirt. It was very cute, a nice contrast to The Redneck. JD pulled off The Redneck look so well, and so naturally. Hmm...

Devon. The first thing I have to say is that it was not my idea. But actually it was pretty funny. Devon's Costume Part 1:


Devon was The Flasher. Kate was like "Go ahead Devon I will meet you guys at the party," the guys were like "haHA you want [obscenity] in your [obscenity], [obscenity]! BAM!", or something of the sort, and I was like "Kate, I am so sorry..."

Then we got to the party, where of course the flasher costume was a hit. And so was Devon's story of how he went to two sex stores in search of the perfect dildo, got hit on, etc. etc. etc. Then the drinking game started, something called flip-cup, which Devon siezed upon immediately with his characteristic competitiveness, volume, enthusiasm, and excessive celebration (think NFL touchdowns). I was lame. I siezed the opportunity to take a nap, actually it wasn't really a choice I just passed out after an hour or so of being there. I have been so tired lately, I couldn't help it. So I slept through the loudest parts of the party. Then Kate woke me up so we could go home.

By this point Devon was in rare form:

But, much like my unplanned nap, the crash back to earth came swiftly:

This morning, the hostesses said that Devon and JD were the life of the party! I am not surprised. I missed JD's best shenanigans due to my nap but that's OK, there is always next year. And next year I swear I will have a costume!

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Small Victories

I like to practice my cyclocross "skills" up in Redwood Park about once a week. There is basically one route that I am familiar with, once I tried to explore beyond it and got totally lost and found myself asking a dog-walker what the most bike-friendly route back to the road might be. She looked at me funny and then said "well that way goes down hill, but you have to remember to turn right at some point." So very helpful... ever since then I have stuck to the familiar, and tried to master its combination of roots, scary drop offs, steep little climbs, and one big curb.

And yesterday I finally rode the whole thing! I didn't have to get off the steep climb where I usually topple over sideways! I even passed two mountain biker guys and never saw them again! I was totally shocked. Somehow my practice is paying off I guess. Oh but I kind of lied - I had to unclip one foot to get over the big curb... but I am pretending that doesn't count.

I think the secret was that I listened to my iPod, consciously spaced out, and just kept pedalling. When I focus on the details, such as omg that ROOT looks HUGE and there is a ROCK next to it, I wind up hitting both and then screaming and stopping. After stopping, it is so hard to get momentum going again. I have noticed a recent parallel in my life outside of cycling, I have lapsed into focusing on minor details and making them into big deals, rather than recognizing and addressing a larger issue. Which means it's time to expand my world a little bit, to sit back with a varied soundtrack and actually see and move beyond a pair of shoes, a dirty dish, a parking ticket, and so on. But if I am going to start using my iPod for more than just cycling I am going to need some new songs...

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Candlestick Point Cyclocross

Yesterday was the second race of the Bay Area Super Prestige Cyclocross series. It was a hot and dusty day at Candlestick Point, next to Monster Park where the 49ers play - meaning there was TONS of glass in the parking lots from all of those hooligan tailgaters. I have been to one NFL football game and I highly prefer college football.

Anyway, the race... It went well. I finished second! I really wanted to win for my team, Freewheel Bike Shop, and Travis, and Devon, and everyone who was cheering for me. I think I could have won if I had not made a very poor and uninformed equipment choice that caused me to go practically backwards in the sandy areas. Lesson learned: next time the course has lots of sand, don't bring a bike, bring a bikini and a beach blanket! Excuses aside, it was a fun race and a good effort, plus my friends and former McGuire teammates Jen Day and Teri Gardiner were also racing!

Here we are after the race, I am the one with the really dumb smile and Jen and Teri are the ones who look like mentally capable adults:

Here I am at the start, making a concentrated/silly face:

Here is Jen during the race, look at that smile!

Here is my new favourite feeder, Aunt Diane (sorry Devon you have been replaced!!), without her feeds I think I would have just sat down in the sand pits and watched the race, rather than plowing through:

Here is Jen, who is still smiling?! She must love cyclocross!

Here I am on the podium, where I finally seem to have gotten it together. Cleaned up, changed shoes, remembered to take off my helmet and my sunglasses, remembered to put on arm warmers, and had the foresight to buy bib shorts (note the new Freewheel shorts! they are awesome. Definitely an improvement over my mismatched outfit from the first race). Finally on the road to feeling like a pro:

Here is our friend Brian, who Devon coaches, and who got 4th in the men's A race. Um yeah he totally looks like a pro... (hint he is the only one not in his kit!)

And finally, here is my poor little injured pinky finger, which I hurt during the race. The right one is all swollen, but the left one is fine. I don't get too many injuries (knock on wood) so this is very traumatic for me, sympathy and get well cards would be fantastic as I progress along the road to recovery.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Gimme some Muscle Milk

Actually I don't know what gym rats use to bulk up. Maybe it's creatine. In college I remember seeing a lot of the guys walking around sipping smoothies from the smoothie bar and occasionally picking up a weight. Gold's Gym in Oakland is a little more intense and definitely filled with characters. Devon and I have been going for a month. Yesterday I took my camera, because usually we look pretty funny doing our various excercises. I was hoping some of the regular gym scenesters would accidentally be in the backgrounds but it was not to be... And I am not as bold as Sarah B. is in truck stops, where she is able to take photos of the rednecks and other funny sights without getting beat up. Me, I am not so sneaky, nor so confident!

ALSO, I am not sure what is wrong with me, but yes I am indeed posting borderline unattractive photos of myself. Maybe it's because my brother Than made me feel guilty about the, um, constipation photos I posted of him last week... Speaking of my brother who, as I mentioned before, is single: did I mention that he lives in Honolulu and is a super smart engineer and he has a motorcycle and a surfboard that we gave him? Email me if you have a potential g.f. candidate! I have been feeding him pickup lines, really good ones such as "hey you're like the desert, but hotter..." but he doesn't find them very helpful so I am adopting a new tactic. Than don't be mad, this is fun remember?

I digress. Back to the Gym. Here are the photos.

Here I am warming up, no my arms are not really that ginormous it's just the blurriness, and yes Ginny and Jen I do remember all the erg rowing lessons you gave me during first year!

Here are Devon's calves. We spend a lot of time on the calf-raise machine. It is not our favourite.

Here I am doing squats and also not-so-silently cursing at Devon who said that I had to hold still for 10 seconds so the photo would turn out OK. I said ow *#%&@ and other nice things while he kindly took the photo.

Here is Devon on the machine that usually is just for ladies who stand facing the wall, lifting the padded bar with the outside of their thighs. I don't like this one that much since I have a weird right hip and some tendon in there pops every time I do this exercise with my right leg, but Devon likes it OK.

I skipped the photos from a lot of the machines since they didn't turn out too well. After all the machines we do core circuits, which I like OK but Devon HATES, so I had a hard time snapping a photo of his warp-speed-please-let-them-be-over-with crunches. Here I am doing an ab exercise that makes me look like I am doing snow angels or something:

And finally, this one is definitely our favourite... all done!

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Saturday, October 14, 2006


Having this scanner has brought up a lot of memories - I have gone through all the photos I have accumulatd over the years, and found some treasures that I haven't thought about in a while. Ah, nostalgia...

So, before I started college, I took a year off. I went to high school at a small all-girls' school, and I boarded there, so I was pretty aware that I had a poor concept of what the real world was like. So I took a year off. I went to England first for three months, and had a blast. Then I went to Australia. My mom gave me a camera for Christmas that year, which I put to good use for the first few months of my time in Australia while I was working in eucalyptus forests in Northern Victoria. The area and animals were gorgeous, and I had some time on my hands. I was helping a graduate student assess the affects of logging on protected temperate rain forests. It involved a lot of camping, tramping around, collecting data, fixing stuff, and sitting around waiting for I can't remember what (probably lunch time, since we both were voracious eaters). Also Brooke was a bad cook so I did most of the cooking for the two of us. I really wanted to see a snake since Australia has some pretty fierce snakes but Brooke was the only one to see any snakes, actually she saw quite a few and shrieked each time since she hated snakes.

Here is a photo I took from one of our research sites, looking up through the eucalyptus trees to the sky:

Here is my other favourite photo from the trip. Matt and Woody are riding across a field in the Blue Mountains in northern Victoria. You can see more of the mountains in the background, they are called the Blue Mountains because all the eucalyptus trees in the mountains emit vapours that make them look vibrantly blue from a distance. If you have ever seen the movie called The Man from Snowy River, it was filmed in this area (rather than in the Snowy Mountains, which is where the story is actually set - the Snowy Mountains are further north and considered by most to be less beautiful than the Blue Mountains). Anyway, the photo:

My mom came and visited me there for a while. It was fun, although I do remember being a typically bratty sulky ungrateful 18 year old for a little while. Sorry ma!

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Friday, October 13, 2006

More Old Photos...

This is unofficially named the My Little Brother Is Pooping His Pants While Ma Is Taking The Photo series. Nathaniel please don't come beat me up, this is funny and cute remember??

And in this one, we both might be...

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Some Photos

In the early days of my cycling career...

Me as a charming sweet little beach bunny:

Me with my dad and my new baby brother who I decided to poke in the mouth:

Sabine, the best kitty ever, who I got when she was 1 week old. She knew how to fetch and do somersaults:

I am still having too much fun with the scanner. I am remembering when I was little and dreaded the day I would be so boring as to set aside model horses and transformers in favor of adult christmas presents like blenders and tennis balls. I know it's not quite Christmas but the concept still applies - I have totally crossed over to the land of dork toys.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

New Art Blog!!

SO, I am kinda successfully working the new scanner! I have started a new Art Blog, which you can see here. And I have a new link to it in my links section.

Right now there are only a couple of things on there so check back later and you will probably see more...

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Actually my brother is probably the only one who really needs to worry about this purchase... I just bought this Canon scanner, which I will pick up today, and use to post my artwork and all the embarassingly incriminating and cute baby and little-kid photos I have of me and my brother! I can't wait.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Careening Towards Trees at High Speed

Today was my first cyclocross race of the season! I had a blast. The race was at Hellyer Park, the same place as the track races I blogged about a few weeks ago. For those of you who don't know, cyclocross is kind of a mix between a road criterium, a mountain bike race, and some cross-country running. The races are short, today we raced for 45 minutes, and very brutal, today my average heart rate was 190. Sorry for the number geekness but that's kinda high and last time I told my mom about an average heart rate that high she was like "sweetie! you could have had a heart attack!" But anyway, for some reason cyclocross is fun and addictive. I used to be pretty horrible at it, due to my former tendency to look at fast-approaching barriers, rocks, and sand pits with alarm, and rather than steering or pedalling or whatever I would just sit there and think "wow... that looks like it could hurt" but I am learning how to avoid them now! Last week's mountain biking helped. Anyway, on to the photos:

I actually got a pretty good start, which was nice because it was a decent-sized field. For cyclocross I am on the Freewheel Bike Shop team but I don't have Freewheel shorts so once again I am sporting the lovely, slimming yellow McGuire shorts... gotta do something about that before the next race:

Successful avoidance of a fast-approaching tree! And what made it even more fun is I was in second place at this point:

Successfully not tripping over barriers!

Here I am running up hill the lazy way, i.e. pushing not carrying the bike, but my bike is fairly heavy so I am NOT shouldering that thing cyclo-cross style until I shed some weight from it somehow, btw donations of nice light parts are welcome but sadly not tax-deductible:

Here I am right before the finish, in front of the other two girls but actually in 3rd place in the race after a few dropped chains, but the mishaps and mouths full of dirt are part of what makes cyclocross what it is (meaning: very fun in retrospect, but for about 44 of the 45 minutes I am out there it's more like "ok, this is fun right, i swear this is fun, oh look there is someone i know with a camera i better smile! ok ow, ow ow ow, bleh, ow, i said this was fun right?")

I have some post-race photos but I look dirty and red-faced and very thirsty, and you should know by now that I am not a fan of posting unattractive photos of myself... so if you want to see images like that, come out to some races! Here is the race calendar, I am doing all the Bay Area Super Prestige Series races because if you do all of them you get a Perfect Attendance prize! Plus, don't forget, cyclocross is fun.

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A Strange Altar

Last night we were driving through Richmond and saw this... Two cactuses (actually I think it's cacti but you get the idea) illuminated from below, standing against the front of this little house:

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Quilts of Gee's Bend

My mom is in town visiting and yesterday afternoon, she and I went to the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. Bonus: Tuesday is their free day! So if you have a Tuesday free, I recommend going.

Anyway, we saw a few exhibits, but the best by far was the Quilts of Gee's Bend. Gee's Bend is in Alabama, it's part of the Black Belt and thus had lots of cotton farming, lots of slaves, and then subsequently lots of very poor sharecroppers. The women did a lot of quilting with whatever scraps they could find, to keep their families warm and also eventually to generate some income (latter half of the 20th century). I am not really doing the best job in my synopsis, you really have to go see the exhibit, it is wonderful, and there is a cool video showing at the back of the exhibit. There are photos too, and of course lots of quilts. The part that stuck with me the most was in the video, when one of the older women said that back then (basically the 1980's and earlier, but she was talking about when she was a kid in the 30's and 40's) nobody had anything, but they were always happy. Now that people have everything, no one's happy.

Here is a website about the quilts and the area, and here is info on the de Young museum. I don't have any photos because they said No Photos in the Exhibit and, amazingly, I opted to follow the rules. Must have been my mom's influence.
One more thing: the exhibit is only in San Francisco until Dec. 31.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Off-Season means Off-Road

Or, in Devon's case, the off season sometimes means goofing off:

On Friday we hung out at Sharp Bicycle in Lafayette and Devon put on a little show for everyone, riding a Santa Cruz Super Light around the parking lot, doing wheelies and playing a game that can sort of be described as bike soccer, where he uses the wheel to hit an object (such as a rock or an empty calistoga bottle) into a goal (such as the space between someone's moving front and rear wheels, or into matt's lap, or into the bike shop).

Then the Lafayette Police came because someone from the 24-hour Kinko's next door called in about a bunch of "kids" making trouble at the bike shop. I, at 28, was the youngest one present, and everyone (except for me and Devon) was over 40. Just goes to show what happens when bike dorks start drinking. The cop laughed and left, and so did we since it was almost 11 and way past everyone's bed time...

Today we went to China Camp so I could practice riding my bike down singletrack rather than walking next to it or trying to throw it down the trail ahead of me. Here I am riding on singletrack! Funnily enough, when on my mountain bike I love climbing and dread going down hill (rocks and roots tend to jump out and bite me), whereas on the road the only reason I suffer through boring horrible climbs is so I can fly down hills. Anyway, the photo:

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