[code"> [/code"> Courtenay Brown: February 2007

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Guidelines for having a Completely Pointless Workout

(This is all hypothetical, of course.)

1. Be Grumpy.
2. Instead of taking public transportation to/from work, sit in traffic so you can pick up one of your too-many bikes from the Freewheel. Even though this is a bike that technically will not be used in competition until September or thereabouts.
3. Pay $17.50 to park the car downtown so you can then go pick up the bike after work.
4. Speaking of work: have too much work to do in too little time and get even more grumpy.
5. For lunch, eat a gross salad that's just a bunch of iceberg lettuce with a couple measly morsels of chicken, but it's free and pre-assembled.
6. Get home 15 minutes before your ideal get-out-the-door-and-on-the-bike time.
7. Use that 15 minutes to make a much-needed snack (see item #5).
8. Turn on computer to check weather to confirm that it is indeed still raining outside like it was doing 5 minutes ago when you ran inside from the car after holding your umbrella and purse and heavy bag with old bottom bracket and crankset, while simultaneously putting the front wheel on the bike and trying not to get grease and rain on your work clothes.
9. Utter expletives when the internet doesn't seem to be working.
10. Recall that you forgot to change the auto-billing for the internet to your new credit card number.
11. Recall that you can't pay your internet bill online when you can't even get online so you have to call stupid Comcast.
12. Notice that it is indeed still raining outside so you don't really need to look at weather.com but you still would like the option to do so before heading out into the doom and gloom.
13. Recall that it is possible to ride the (shock horror) trainer during inclement weather.
14. But the trainer is downstairs, outside, in the trunk of the car, which is a sign from above that you should brave the ice-cold Alaska-type rain and do your workout outside.
15. Look at the clock and realize it's now 15 minutes after ideal departure time.
16. Get dressed anyway.
17. Put hair in one braided ponytail instead of two to save time.
18. Finally leave.
19. Realize it's FREEZING and RAINING.
20. Start to do your intervals anyway.
21. Look at your wattage.
22. Get depressed.
23. Stop mid-set and call a friend and cry.
24. Get even colder whilst listening to pep talk.
25. Try to resume workout.
26. Look at your wattage again.
27. Remind yourself that you are not a quitter.
28. Tell your you-are-not-a-quitter self to shove it and grow a brain, then turn around and go home.
29. Bleh.

Hypothetical me will try again tomorrow.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Conversation with my Brother #1

So last week I get this phone call from my brother, Than, who lives in Hawaii. Poor thing.

Than: Hey sis whatup. Are you sitting down?

Me: Yeah why. What HAPPENED?! Are you O.K.?!

Than: Yeah I'm fine. Guess what? Guess where I am calling you from?

Me: Um, I don't know. California? OH MY GOD did you come VISIT?!

Than: -sigh- Um, no. I'm calling you from my new bluetooth-enabled car.

Me: OH MY GOD that is so COOL! You got a new car?! What kind?

Than: It's a 2007 Audi S4. Google it.

Me: OH MY GOD that is so COOL!

Than: Yeah it's pretty sick. You can stop saying oh-my-god-that-is-so-cool though.

Me: What color did you get? Does it have leather seats? Does it have a cool cd player and everything?

I will spare you the rest of the phone conversation, but in case you are curious it is steel grey (or I guess "gunmetal grey" is the proper term these days?), of COURSE it has leather seats Courtenay jeez, and yeah it has a sweet soundsystem. Duh, it's an S4.

Apparently Ms. old Honda Civic driver over here asked all the wrong questions, and in the process came off sounding like our Mom! You're supposed to ask about horsepower, acceleration, handling, and various vocab. words the likes of which I do not understand.

But I do appreciate that it's definitely a nice ride, and it's just one more excuse to get my bum out to Honolulu to visit! As if I need another excuse...

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Half Full

I almost posted a list of my mistakes this weekend.

I almost called this post "coulda shoulda woulda".

I thought about posting a play-by-play but the thought bored me, so if it bored me it might really bore everyone else right?

And I almost didn't blog at all.


But then I gave myself a good round of look-at-the-big-picture and felt inspired. The Velo Promo Merced Season Opener Big To-Do Weekend was actually pretty cool. I made the break at the Snelling Road Race. The winning break. For four of 5 laps. Whoa. Last year, I don't think I even finished a road race until sometime in May, and, um, I won't mention where in the field I actually finished (although "in" might be a generous choice of words...). So starting out the season with moderately strong legs and a couple of top ten finishes is a welcome confidence booster. Here is OV's synopsis, complete with a flattering photo.

AND, Devon won the men's race at Snelling!
AND, Taitt and I got to wear matching Team-Darth-Vader outfits two days in a row (no VAC kits yet)!
AND, I got two T-shirts!
AND, we went to In-and-Out after the crit today!
AND, I got to chat with Tracie and Holly and Emily and Amber and Colin and Pat and Thea!

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Final Quote from Camp

Smartt: Has anyone seen my pants? They were in a brown bag.

Sharon: I don't know. Did you check the lobby?

The house was indeed awesome, but not quite of Daddy Warbucks or Capt. Von Trapp proportions (both of which could justify calling the foyer a "lobby"!)... What I want to know is what Mike Smartt was doing misplacing his pants?

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Quotes from Camp #4

"O.K. girls, let's all take turns saying something positive!" - Martina, in response to gossiping (which of course is rarely initiated by yours truly, ever. I am just saying...)

"Taitt, you're looking at her boobs again." - our mechanic Mark Purnell, while trying to take a group shot of the team

"Lisa, I thought you said this ride was flat!" - Everyone. Multiple times!

Oh, and it hailed today. On us, on the Tour dudes, and then a few more times in the afternoon just for good measure!

Here's a token team photo, with just us continental girls, taken on the stairway of our house for the week:

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Podium Girls Pt. 2

Yesterday I referenced the, um, "podium girls" at the Tour of California.

They have not been so hot. Ahnold, followed by some un-photographed blonde chick (what does that indicate...), and today, we have this.

I am guessing we are looking at important Amgen folks and/or politicians?

At least the scenery has been beautiful!

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Update: Our Fat Old Guy Takes 7th

I will have to stop sh!t-talking Henk. He finished 7th today. Amongst a bunch of big-timey sprinters who aren't fat.

On to a new victim... stay tuned for updates on his identity.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Quotes from Camp #3

"And at Altoona, there was this terrible crime! Oh wait, I mean climb, this terrible climb, Blue Knob..." -Sharon

"So if you get upset at a race, don't show it, just come back to the car and decompose." -Lisa, emulating word choice of a "local racer friend"

"What I am trying to imagine is how you managed to woo him after all that." -Taitt, after hearing Martina tell her how-Roman-and-I-met story...

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Training Camp Quotes #2

Laura D: Well, I was coached by Bela Karolyi when I was a kid, so I can handle negative words directed at me.

Me: Wait, Bela Karolyi the gymnastics guy? THE gymnastics guy?

Laura D: That's the one!

Me: Whoa.

So my teammate could probably actually do all the flips and leaps that I secretly imagined myself doing when I took after-school gymnastics in 3rd grade. She could probably even do the splits! (I couldn't and still can't...)

Oh, in case if you are wondering, here is a you-get-the-idea photo of Camp that I just took before the rain. Actually, this is just the main house, taken by the guest house, but the pool house and the pool and the tennis court are not quite visible in the photo. Yep, we are living the life of the rich and famous this week!

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Training Camp Quotes #1

Lisa: O.K. girls, time to go grocery shopping! Here are my car keys, don't be gone too long.

Us: Um, you aren't coming with us?

Lisa: Nope! Buying food for the week will be your first team bonding experience!

Us: Um, what are we supposed to buy?

Lisa: Well, you know, salad stuff, lots of veggies, some chicken, and tofu, and brown rice. And get fruit for dessert!

Two Of Us, on our way to Safeway: Fruit?! I'm gettin' me some ice cream!!

Camp is going on all week so there'll be more...

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Who's the Fat Old Dude on Toyota United...

It's Henk Vogels, I know.

But man he looks TERRible!

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

For the Second Year in a Row...

I could be talking about Levi's repeat prologue performance.

But I'm not.

For the second year in a row I have come home from the Tour of California Prologue wishing I were a boy. Then maybe I would be able to ride a fancy TT machine with non-shrimp-sized shiny carbon deep-dish flat-bar etc. accessories, and maybe I would have crowds of kids and racer fans waiting outside my team bus hoping for an autograph and a glimpse of my 14 visibly rippling calf muscles, and maybe, just maybe, I could wear argyle legwarmers and still be taken seriously.

That stuff doesn't really happen if you're a girl, especially a short one.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Ignorance is Bliss

A platitude, yes, but it's one I believe is true.

For example, grocery shopping can be difficult and depressing when you are an athlete practiced at reading labels. Sooo many food items have forbidden ingredients... partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame... Now I even have to watch out for sucrose because of my teeth! So when I am in the grocery store I often wish I could go back to when all I thought was important was the fat gram and calorie count. Or better yet, to when I was a kid and anything edible was fine with me. Then maybe I wouldn't leave in empty-handed frustration so often.

Why am I talking about this? Well, today I decided to hang my winter-training equipped TIME on a bike scale.

Look closely at the dial on my 16.5-lb race-weight machine...

24 pounds!! Apparently I wasn't actually joking when I said my winter plan was to ride a 25 lb bike for hours and hours! I think I liked it better when I thought I was exaggerating, and I was lugging maybe 18 lbs up Mt. Diablo, Morgan Territory, etc. I know that water bottles add at least a pound each when full, the hard-core tires definitely add some weight, as do the power tap hub, the training wheels, and the flat kit... but sheesh! I can't wait for the Reynolds race wheels to get here!

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Friday, February 16, 2007

ToC Predictions

Here are my highly educated and scientifically researched thoughts:

Menzies will break off something big, kinda like JJ's multiple wins last year.

Levi will redeem himself.

And the Euros? I don't think they care so much about our little race - I bet they came to shop...

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Conversation about Doping

Me: I was reading this thing on Human Growth Hormone and how it makes your forehead big. Crazy!

Former Racer Dude: Yeah but that stuff works really well.

Me: Huh? For foreheads or for cycling?

FRD: Cycling. Trust me. It works really well.

Me: Are you, like, trying to say you know from your own personal experience or something?

FRD: I can neither confirm nor deny.

Me: Sounds like a yes. You gotta be kidding.


Warning: I am about to preach and moralize and give you flashbacks of the Reagans' war on drugs (thanks for the correction Tuffy!)...

For you non-cyclists, Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is a substance that some cyclists use to boost recovery. It's illegal, but it's hard to test for it, and apparently it's one of the easier performance-enhancing drugs to obtain.

Most things in life involve a tradeoff. In this case, the tradeoff seems poor at best. HGH doesn't guarantee a victory or even a pro contract. But it does guarantee interference with your body's natural processes and productions, the ramifications of which last long after you've retired from hill repeats in the pouring rain, endless trainer sessions, and your love-hate relationship with the foam roller. When you start taking HGH, your body stops making it on its own, and you've basically messed up your body's whole hormonal system. You can't take anything to put it back on track.

And to top it all off, you won't even sound cool when you tell girls about how you took HGH!

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Conversation with Mom #7

So this big ice storm hit the East Coast a few days ago. My mom lives in Maryland, on a property with about 14 acres, 8 cats, 6 horses, 2 dogs, and a bunch of big old trees. Since I am such a nice dutiful daughter, I called to check on her. And to see if she had any funny things to say, it's been a little while since Conversation with Mom #6.

Me: Hey Ma. What's up?

Sal: HI SWEETIE! There was an ICE storm! Half of Anne Arundel County has no power!

Me: I heard. That sucks. The weather is beautiful here, by the way. So what are you doing?

Sal: Getting ready to go check on the horses again but my cell phone keeps ringing so I haven't gone out there yet.

Me: Well if it's your cell phone why don't you take it with you?

Sal: Oh... I guess I could do that.

Me: -sigh- But the horses are doing O.K.?

Sal: Well, the ice weighs down the tree branches so a lot of the branches are breaking off and crashing to the ground and it scares the horses so they run around but the two with horseshoes have ice stuck in their feet because of the shoes so they can't really run so I am going to go pick the ice out and then I am going to try to pick up branches. It's going to take me WEEKS to clean up this place!!

Me: At least you'll have something to keep you busy?

Sal: (laughs) That's very true!

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Brief Foray into Cattiness!

I am a girl. So I can be catty every once in a while, right?

I have this friend-who-is-no-longer-my-friend**. I also have an apartment with too many bike things in it for me to always keep track. So, recently I realized that FWINLMF still had a rear wheel and a TIME carbon seatpost of mine from back when we were friends.

Several convolutedly emotional "how about I bring the stuff by" "no really I want to bring it over" text messages later, FWINLMF came to my building. I was greeted with an evil eye, not a small amount of grumbling, and a rear wheel.

But no seatpost.

Then Friday I got a package-notice in my mailbox. I drove to the post office yesterday. There, wrapped in three layers of packing tape, two cardboard boxes, one square foot of bubble wrap, and three (?!) pieces of paper with my address written on it, was my seatpost.


We live like five minutes from each other? I offered to come get it like six times?

I'd be ranting and raving about the phenomenal waste of time and resources involved in this whole transmission if I weren't too busy laughing and eye-rolling.

**FWINLMF doesn't have internet! So this post is solely for your amusement, lovely reader, as well as mine...

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Saturday, February 10, 2007


I have some rules for myself. Vestiges of four years in an all girls' boarding school, or perhaps of being brought up in a Navy family. Three generations of Naval officers, as a matter of fact. But my generation was exempt from keeping up the family tradition because my great grandfather Capt. Alvah B. Court said the Navy went to hell the day they let women into the Academy.

Anyway, back to my point. Rules. I think they are a good idea. Things like:
- no snacking on mixed nuts at work even if there is a nice plump pecan at the top of the nut canister
- on-line purchases can only be items that are not locally obtainable, to save resources
- be nice
- only purchase items at Ambiance that cost less than $50 each unless they are a. dresses, b. on sale, or c. the miraculous physical embodiment of an imaginary perfect clothing item that has been in my head for weeks, for example the super cute cropped red blazer with pink silk lining that I got in November.

That last one started out stricter (no "unless" section) but my discipline there is borderline nonexistent. Good thing they don't have an East Bay location, nor are they planning to open one any time soon. Yes, I asked.

My discipline on this rule is nonexistent too: no stressing out about Devon's race to the point of tears or lost sleep.

But I do. I always have, actually. I can't help it. So I am going to try a new rule, starting tomorrow: stressing out about Devon's race is permitted for a 3 hour continuous window of time only, commencing at the end of my race, not the beginning.

Wish me luck!

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Friday, February 09, 2007


I don't have much. Patience, that is. I am really trying to work on that, believe it or not.

I wish I had a handle on it like yesterday, then maybe I wouldn't feel so annoying sometimes.

Anyway I did a new painting. Usually I paint over the course of at least two days to allow for a little drying and to let myself look at my work with fresh eyes midway through the process, in case I see something wrong. But I really wanted to keep painting this one. So, I contorted my arms and paintbrush around my little bitty canvas and did the sides, normally reserved for Day 2.

Then I took a photo right away.

Then I posted it on my art blog even though the paint is still glistening and I might add a few strokes.

Then I emailed my mom to tell her.

Now I am posting a blog about it here. Just in case anyone wants to see it now.

Because LOOK, LOOK, I did a new PAINTING!!

Funnily enough, amidst all this painting and photographing and posting and emailing, I was on the phone with someone, soap-boxedly telling him about how things don't always get fixed in a day so you have to (you guessed it...) be patient.

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The Interview

Total Journalism.

If this is the product of grad school (see post below), sign me up.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Higher Education

My mom reads this blog (and she likes to accuse me of "excessive hyberbole especially in relation to YOUR MOTHER!").

She keeps telling me to go to journalism school.

I can't tell if:
a. she thinks I am a good writer
b. she thinks I am a horrible writer who needs help
or c. neither of the above, she is just taking a different approach to get me to insert meaning and purpose into my daily work life, she contends that my current occupation is a waste of my abilities and thus is not putting me on the path to fulfillment. You know, typical mom stuff that is usually spot-on but you don't have the energy to deal with it yet.

Anyway, it's a cool idea in the abstract, but I don't know about the reality. Journalism's not like engineering, you don't really need a higher degree to know how to write. And it's not like a PhD in Classics, which is purely academic and half the fun of being in school is that you're a scholar and you debate theses and concepts over long lunches. And school's expensive.

And, ultimately, I'd be afraid that I was using grad school in order to escape the real world. I'd be afraid that I was putting adulthood on the shelf for a couple of years, only to come back and find it dusty and a little out-of-date.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Man O' War vs. Sir Barton

For racers of every variety

Man O' War was a racehorse back in 1919 and 1920. He was an incredible athlete, even with 80 years of racehorses after him he is still called the Horse of the Century (some may contend that Secretariat earned that honor, but that is arguable for many reasons. For example, if you are looking at greatness as something that should also impact further generations of racehorses: after Secretariat's race career ended he was not very successful at stud, relative to Man O' War who sired many champions, including 1937 Triple Crown winner War Admiral). Growing up as a horse-crazy kid, I always loved Man O' War and one time when we were in Kentucky I made my mom take me to his grave at Churchill Downs, but anyway I am reminded of his story because I just read a very good biography of him.

So, the video... in 1920, Man O' War was pitted against the other most successful racehorse at the time, a colt named Sir Barton who was a year older. Because of this age difference, the two horses had never raced against each other in a regular race, so there were many who were eager to see a match-up and there was a lot of prize money to lure the owners. Apparently this was the first horse race that had videographers. There were 12 stationed around the track, which was Kenilworth Park up in Canada. This is a clip that I found on YouTube.

Here's an explanation of what you see: There was lots of betting - security was actually incredibly tight at the track to try to keep the race as fair and as separate from gambling-induced foul play as possible. I think it was the previous year that the whole White Sox team got caught for taking money to lose the World Series, so you can see that the environment around sports was a bit unsavory. Jockeys were often offered money to ride a bad race so that someone's bet could pay off greatly. The tight security worked, however, and the race was a fair one. Then the bit before the race: Man O' War's jockey has stripes on the arms of his silks, and Sir Barton's has stripes on the torso part of the silks. So when the horses are walking, you mostly see Sir Barton, who was a smaller horse. Then when it cuts to the race, you are seeing them in the last two turns, this is when Man O' War pulls away from Sir Barton like he was standing still. Then you see him crossing the finish line alone, his jockey already pulling him up because Sir Barton is far behind (the light makes it look like the jockey's arms are white but actually the silks are striped, it's just not a good picture). This was Man O' War's last race, because the hard track aggravated a mild injury in one of his legs and the risk of further damage was too great. As last year's Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro recently showed, once a horse breaks a leg bone, even a big strong racehorse, the horse often does not survive.

Interestingly, Sir Barton is widely considered to be a horse who was a doper. Not by his own choice of course. Back then, it was sadly common for trainers to run their horses on "hop" (mixtures of various amphetamines, including cocaine and heroin, whatever seemed to work for the horse) to get them excited and going. Sir Barton was a sullen horse who trained sluggishly but raced well. Man O' War was not run on hop - he was a very strong and temperamental horse naturally and his owners and trainer were staunchly against it.

But, looking at current-day athletes (e.g. cyclists!), isn't that what they always say?

OK I will stop rambling. Let me know if you want to know more about Man O' War or other horses, or if you want to borrow the book, which was very well researched and an interesting view into both racing and other aspects of life in the U.S. at that time.

P.S. Here is a photo of him winning the Stuyvesant Handicap early in his 3-year old year:

P.P.S. I forgot to mention that Sir Barton was the first ever Triple Crown winner - he won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes in 1919. Those three races weren't called the Triple Crown until years later, but he was the first horse to win all 3.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Rain Please

The weather folks are calling for days and days of rain.

I am actually hoping they are right. Rain will clear the air, maybe then we will be able to see the mountains and sky and stars again.... The pervasive haze has been depressing me, I can't shake the world-is-ending thoughts when I am suffocating in an ominous cloud of who knows what, the grey sky sitting on grey buildings built by fossil fuels wantonly using ores and resources.

GWB doesn't want to participate in global climate change initiatives for fear of hurting the U.S. economy?! Please. Dude needs new glasses, but I guess it will take more than that to cure his short-sightedness.

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Gangsta Life

7 p.m. this evening. I've just parked after a trip to the grocery store, I'm standing in the street getting ready to unload the car, and I'm on the phone with Devon:

Devon:...so yeah, I'm watching the Superbowl at Cliff's tomorrow.

: Sick! Call me when-
one... two... three... four... five... six cop cars?!
SSSSSSSix cop cars are driving past me right now!
WWWWhat the-

Sixth Cop, rolling down his window to talk to me
: Get in your car. Now.

: Oh shit. Devon? I have to call you back-

The procession of six comes to a stop about 50 feet past my building, on the next block. There is commotion and a noise - let's call it a gun shot for dramatic effect, but by this point I am so busy ducking and being scared that I don't remember for sure.

I fumble with my keys, get the car started, hightail it out of there, and drive around Piedmont and Broadway Ave.'s for 15 nervous minutes, leaving "DUDE, guess what just HAPPENED?!" voicemails all over the place.

But now everything seems to be back to its shady normalness.

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VO2 Max Test

Devon and I went up to Sacramento yesterday for some VO2 testing with Tim Streeper at 650 Fit. Our coach, Nathan Miller, was also there to get tested. Some numbers were good, some were OK, some were insane... Somehow, being a typical girl, I was wayyy more stressed about the scale and the body fat test than the actual VO2 test. The boys were the opposite of course, probably because their test numbers are the insane ones!

Numbers numbers numbers. So easy to have a number on which to fixate and obsess, so much harder to focus on a feeling and a mental state. But in the end a number is just a number, it doesn't hand you the victory or the teamwork or even the endorphins... But I won't lie, I like numbers.

Anyway, miracle of all miracles, I remembered to bring my camera!

Here are a few shots, I am realizing (amongst other things) how psyched I am to get our new ValueAct Capital Cycling Team kits! The yellow and green lycra has served me well, but it's looking tired:

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Chat with Sister #1

7:47 AM
me:...he put me on speaker phone
i HATE speaker phone
Sarah: me TOO
it's like
fuzz fuzz yofuzzwhatup crackle crackle

Speaking of my little sister, I found this photo of her from when she was 8 and knew everything (see that authoritarian stance? that's not a photographic accident!), as opposed to now when she is 19 and still knows everything but, as she puts it, has finally outgrown her 17-year awkward phase. I am the dork behind her in the reddish-pinkish shirt which is way too big. Seems to run in the family. We are making apple cider in my grandparents' orchard.

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