March 30, 2011

Christina Catzoela Is an Awesome Attorney

I had the privilege of meeting her in law school and becoming close friends with her when we worked together.

When she was a junior associate, she tried to help the customer of one of her law firm's clients.

She was rewarded with praise in a letter written by the customer.

Unfortunately, because the remainder of the letter was full of complaints, and it was posted to a complaints board, her name is now associated with a search result link whose title gives the opposite impression. If you read the letter, you will see that despite the author's negative opinions of the remainder of the treatment they received, they had nothing but good things to say about Ms. Catzoela.

This post serves two purposes: (1) to attempt to inject some additional explanation and positive mojo into Ms. Catzoela's Google juice. (2) to observe the effect, if any, a single blog post by me can have on a fairly low-volume search term in Google's results.

Update: Cool! Google apparently just slurps blogger posts straight into the index. Instant gratification!

March 27, 2011

Lake Sammamish Half

Vegetable udon soup may be my new pre-race meal, and the leftovers with extra sauteed udon were even better than the original (the mushroom flavor soaked into the broth and the added fat made it much more delicious). Healthy, hearty, but light.

A good night's sleep and an easy wake-up made me feel like this was going to be a good race.

I conned E into driving me to the start, which was awesome, since the course is one-way and the last bus was much too early for my taste.

We walked down to the Starbucks in our building, caffeinated, and we were off. Only problem was, Google maps decided to give us directions to the finish, not the start. Apparently, "Lake Sammamish" will give you directions to the Marymoor park, not Lake Sammamish State Park. They are both on the lake, but Google decided it knew best without informing me and by the time we figured it out, we were a 20 minute drive from the start (and we needed gas).

By the time we arrived, the centipede of runners was snaking away from the start and I had to run against them to try to get my chip activated. I finally turned the corner to see the start archway deflating.

Oh, well. I turned around, now the last person in the centipede and tried to make the best of it. My initial miles were on pace for my hoped for goal of breaking 2 hours. Unfortunately, around mile 6, I bonked and just couldn't keep that pace anymore. So, I did the best I could and completed 12.49 (I lost a bit of distance in the beginning madness) at the fastest pace I've in run a race in 2 years.

All in all, it was a great day. The weather held perfectly cool without raining. I pushed myself physically and found that yes, I am regaining my former fitness level, but, I still have a ways to go.

Vegetable Udon Soup

3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp ginger, chopped
Olive Oil
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
3-4 carrots, chopped into rounds
bunch of chives, chopped
1 small head of radicchio, chopped
2 blocks of frozen udon
Somen soup base
chili paste

Night 1: Sautée ginger and garlic in olive oil on high until garlic starts to brown. Add carrots and stir. Add 2-4 cups broth, some somen base and water and bring to a boil. Add mushrooms and radicchio and simmer for 10 minutes. Add chives and 1 block of frozen udon, simmer for a few minutes until the udon is cooked through. Taste broth and add somen base if not flavorful enough. Serve with chili sauce as a garnish.

Night 2: heat leftovers in the microwave and sauté udon in olive oil and a tsp of somen soup base. Add sautéed noodles to re-heated broth and enjoy!

March 26, 2011

Can I have a Back-Up Camp?

When I informed her that I'd found a lego-mania camp for her summer visit, my almost not but thankfully still child-niece, sweet juvenile meaning-giving love of my live, asked me innocently, "Can we have a back-up camp?"

Perhaps this had something to do with last summer, when I sold the idea of lego-mania camp in May, only to call and find out that they all were booked, and then I booked her for gymnastics and rock-climbing camp (which was run by a former college gymnast colleague of mine and she appreciated and attacked with appropriate vigor).

If we are honest, her request may also be attached to my sale of "space camp" the year prior, only to learn it was no longer a local option at Moffett Field despite the signs on the road when you exited the 101, but rather, the camp was only in Alabama.

Regardless, the phone call, when you say, "I've got 8/1 (August 1) marked off for you to come and stay with us for lego camp," and she says, "Uhhh... ummm... if that doesn't work, can I have a back-up camp to go to pottery camp? And, I think I may have schoool..."

And I realize -- Oh shit: Last year. Your dad was paralyzed and you were dealing with it. You, a child, learned to think about things that are out of your control. We didn't get around to putting you in the lego camp we promised. You ended up in rock climbing camp and gymnastics camp. That would have been my heaven, by you are taller and less bendy, and more social and creative. You, adorably polite, never let us know, but you probably wished it were lego camp every day (which had been fully booked by the time we managed to schedule it... not this year, captain lego-mania!)

In short, NO. You may not have a back-up camp. Lego-mania is booked for you, my dear. And we are excited to have you as our guest. (Also, we'll go to color me mine with friends, so if anyone is interested, let us know.).

March 20, 2011


Thanks to the commitment of Z and our joint registration many months ago, I completed my first half marathon in 9 months (and my 20th ever) today. It was even more important because it was the first half I *ran* since November 2009 as my last completed effort was a 3-hour run-walk to support a friend in her first (and post-pregnancy) half marathon.

Apparently, Z sent our weather down to the Los Angelese Marathon where hundreds were checked for hypothermia (and Ethiopians won both categories. Yay for underdogs!). The hypothermia concern is interesting to me, since the LA Marathon was merely 60F and rain, while we, up in the Seattle area literally cheered on command at the start to celebrate the first clear day of spring weather of sun and 45F and the only concern you might have heard was whether hands were too cold. I guess acclimatization is a much stronger force than I realized. Certainly, I have become much better at running in the cold since moving here. At least once or twice a week, I head out without hesitation between guaranteed rain in search of good weather that even if it holds would have been enough to keep me home in California.

So, here I am, in Washington, training for my first marathon in 2 years, 10 months, and I'm almost a year and half after running my last half. I gleefully finished today's half 5 minutes slower than my last real effort. Not so much slower that I felt bad, but enough to encourage me to work harder.

Overall, it was a perfect re-entry to racing. Doing it with a friend who flew up for a multi-day visit and who used to live here? Awesome. She directed us to delicious restaurants, asian bakeries, grocery stores (yay Uwajimaya), and cute neighborhoods we should check out. Also, magically, she brought fairytale weather for her visit so that we could enjoy a perfect day today for the Mercer Island Half. After an early Saturday night, we woke to sunshine and clear skies, which was important since the views of the lake and the snow-capped mountains behind the Seattle skyline were necessary to distract us from the hilly course.

Note: Just because a course is along a shoreline does not mean it is without hills. Particularly on an island (where obviously something is pushing it out of the water!). On the other hand, my ignorance of the elevation changes made today an awesome hilly training run for next weekend's small and supposedly flat along-the-lake race, where I'm hoping to test my fitness.

As for that marathon -- I'm registered and it's 10 weeks out. Wow. That's soon. Wish me luck!

March 19, 2011

Bump on a Log

When we were being lazy or not moving fast enough, my dad used to say, "Don't just sit there like a bump on a log."

This saying annoyed the hell out of me when I was a kid.

So, Imagine my surprise to find that it's slipped out of my mouth a few times this week.

I used to think this saying was corny. For some reason it reminded me of the farm where my dad grew up. Perhaps because I'd heard my grandfather (papa) say it as well, and he lived on the farm until he died. I think I used to think it was provincial. Unsophisticated.

This week, when I've used it, I've been thoroughly amused. The first time, I thought, "Woah brain, way to dig deep back in time!" The second time, I smiled and thought, "Yeah, actually, he does physically resemble a bump on a log on that couch." And, the third time, last night, I mentally pictured a woodpile full of oak rounds, many of them with individual bumps and smiled at the appropriateness of the simile.

And, of course, every time I say it, I feel close to my father and his extended family.

So, if I start sounding more and more like a country bumpkin hick seed from the sticks, you can recall that it all started with a bump on a log.

March 8, 2011

Fast and Focused

2011 is flying by.

There's never enough time to do everything, but the temporary move has helped me change my priorities.

I'm nowhere near on-track for my 30 book challenge -- I haven't even finished the first book I started this year! I do love reading, but it's just not as important as many of the items that get my time lately.

I told myself that 2011 would be the year I finally got back into running shape and I seem to be committed (at the expense of books, clearly). I'm more or less in sync with my running goals, especially if you count last weekend's downhill skiing at elevation as acceptable cross-training instead of weekend long runs. I guess I'll find out when I head out for a 12 mile Saturday run with Z (who's flying up to join me for for my first half marathon this year!) followed by a 10 mile Sunday run through the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Work is busy for both E and me. Since we both work for ourselves, this is a good thing. We never have trouble making time for work a priority. On the other hand, it's hard to leave work at work when you work from the kitchen table of a rented apartment in a city away from your home.

By moving, we've eliminated the casual daily social interruptions, like business lunches or evenings/weekends outings with friends. Instead, our social life is much more dense but only in bursts. When I'm in California, I jam pack my schedule full of visits with clients, friends, and family as well as events -- but it's a limited time and I can only see those who have time to see me when I'm available.

In Washington, I'm basically free of social obligations except for time dedicated to people who made the effort to travel to see me and a few scattered friends who, because they live in WA, are not a daily part of my life. Over time, of course, if we were to stay here for longer, this would change. No doubt we'd develop a new social fabric in WA and slowly drift away from the California network. But, since we are so busy and we are only here temporarily, it's very easy to just focus on ourselves.

Between our travels and visits from family and friends (which clearly have been made a priority by everyone involved), we're living simply -- walking everywhere we can, eating healthy, enjoying lazy weekends without any obligations, basically, just enjoying being married to one another and building our businesses without too much external social interaction. It's interesting how easy it is to do this here, whereas at home it would probably feel unbalanced since it would be at the expense of all of the normal things we are used to doing.

Despite the WA social break (or perhaps because of it), this year is shaping up to be quite intense on both the social and the travel front. We already did South America and Whistler, and it doesn't look like we're going to slow down very much for the rest of the year.

Between almost weekly flights back to the Bay Area by me for the next 3 months, visits from family and friends, 3 weddings to attend (and all of the associated events for the two that involve family-like friends), training for and running a memorial day marathon in Idaho followed by a road trip through Yellowstone and a drive back to California, the incoming niece and nephew we are expecting (within 1 month of each other!) and visits to meet them, a half business/half pleasure 3 week trip to Europe, the annual week-long visit from my oldest neice to attend summer camp, and, holiday travel for Thanksgiving and Christmas, it looks like our entire year is spoken for.

Oh, also, back in California, we need to get a new roof, fumigate the house, and we keep going back and forth about the kitchen remodel.

Off to run!