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Random thoughts

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Route Setting

Until recently, Jean-Michel had refused to let me set at the gym. His excuse was that it would take a lot of time to teach me how to rig the ropes so that I can belay myself while setting. So I took it into my own hands and asked Tad to teach me.

A few weeks ago, I approached Jean-Michel again, and proposed that he let me and Marc set a couple of routes together. And he agreed! I was so excited.

Finally, last Saturday, Marc and I did our first route, a 5.10c/d that we called Merman (we decided to name all our routes after lines in movies or TV shows that we like). And then tonight, our last route (at least for May) was a 5.9, which I set almost by myself (with Marc giving a few pointers and suggestions, and belaying me). We called this one Wait for it....

I can't wait for the next few times I'm at the gym so that I can watch people run up these routes. I just feel this great sense of fulfillment. I don't know about setting routes regularly, but I'd love to set from time to time. It puts my creative juices at work, something I really need since everything else that I do seems to be so scientific, exact and calculated. Let the other side of my brain work!

Monday, May 29, 2006

SmashBox

A couple of weeks ago, I met this French photographer at Rockreation while I was putzing around the gym, bouldering and traversing. It turned out that he was a photographer at SmashBox Studios, and that he was currently working on a project that he said I might be able to help him with. It was a sport portfolio that he was building, and he wanted to include climbing as one of the featured sports.

So on Saturday, Marc and I had to forego much-needed beauty sleep to get to the studio by 9am. I had expected at least a partial climbing-wall setup but all there was was a high bar. They brought in a white cube for me to stand up on before doing the pose.

There were supposedly four poses to be done, but we only ended up doing three. Man, it was brutal, I've never felt this sore after climbing before. I had to hold a position a gazillion times, my left toe on the edge of the white cube, my right leg lifted up high in the back in a yoga-esque pose, my entire weight hanging on my right arm while I clutched desperately onto the high bar. My left hand was posed to be getting chalk from my chalkbag. It took over two hours to shoot that pose.

Then we moved onto the rappel shot, and while they were fixing the lights, the girl asked me if I wanted the ladder back to sit on while I waited. I was just on a harness hanging from the high bar, and I declined, saying it was perfectly fine to hang while the lights were taken care of. About thirty minutes later, I was getting teary-eyed and regretting my decision. Finally I had no choice but to ask for the ladder. That second shot took about an hour.

The last shot was a portrait, which I'm not particularly fond of. It was me with some climbing rope slung over my left shoulder, supposedly looking up at the route I just finished. Damn, if I finished a route that left me feeling the way I am now, I'd be damn proud too.

It was a great experience all in all though. Gone from my mind is the myth that studios are all fun and glamour. It's hard work, even for the one in the pictures. And I can now understand why tempers may run short sometimes. The experience was made pleasant enough though by the people I was working with, so it made everything worthwhile.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Easy Target

Since I started taking walks during my lunch hour, I've felt more adventurous and have walked farther and farther into areas I'm unfamiliar with. Well, during one of these walks, I stumbled upon a Target that was relatively close by. When I used to live in Glendale, Target was one of my number one places to shop at, but when we moved to Brentwood, there was no Target close enough that I could go there whenever I wanted.

So you can imagine my delight upon discovering the store close to work. Now 4 out of 5 times, I just make it a point to pop in during my walk and see what's new on their shelves. Of course if I make it a daily habit, it gets boring after awhile. So I switch between walking around Paseo or going to the post office or going to the bank or walking down to Old Town (which is a bit of a walk but really good exercise).

Monday, May 22, 2006

Weekend With the Girls

Daisy came down for a quick weekend visit, so Angela and I blocked out this past weekend to hang out with her. It was a good time to recharge (although not physically, since we stayed up till 5am talking) and reconnect with one another. Being so far apart from each other makes it hard to stay in touch sometimes because, at least in my case, I get so caught up in the day-to-day activities that I can't seem to find the time to make that quick phone call to say hello. I know it's a bad habit.

Saturday afternoon was spent shopping at Fashion Island. Then we stopped at Trader Joe's to stock up with food for the night, and had a quick dinner at the Spectrum. At the hotel, we set up camp, laid out the food and began what turned out to be an all-nighter: girlishness and serious talk. As I mentioned, we went to bed at 5am but I think we could have kept going if we had wanted to.

At ten the next morning, we struggled to get up in time to check out for the day. Then brunch and a quick stop at the strawberry farms by Angela's to buy and eat the sweetest strawberries I have ever tasted in my life. Yum! I couldn't buy too much because I didn't want them to sit and rot in the refrigerator, but I will probably have to ask Angela to bring some next week when they come up. It will make for a great dessert (coupled with the melting chocolate I bought at the same place) for the dinner/game night Marc and I have yet to set up.

We then took a quick trip to Target, which ended up being a long trip actually, since we ran late in getting Daisy to the airport to catch her flight back home. But all in all, it was a great weekend: I'm dog-tired from it, but I have a smile on my face.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sending Red and Feeling Blue

I've discovered the not-so-secret secret: traversing. How have I not known this sooner? I know, I know, I've been told time and again that traversing at the gym will help my climbing, but I suppose I've always seen it as pointless and boring - you're really not getting any height.

Man, was I wrong! After two back-and-forths, I was perspiring like crazy and refusing to let anyone hug me hello. This was after I had just sent a red (V4) problem with Tad's help, so I felt pretty proud of my accomplishment. Last Monday too (after a long traverse at the gym on Saturday), I sent the yellow 5.11A on the arch, and then immediately went and finished the wood that went all around it. I don't mean to be spouting out my climbing resume and seeming to brag about it - I'm just really happy, and it's that big of an accomplishment for me. I never thought I would be in a position to comfortably send these routes/problems before.

On the downside, exerting all that effort has taken its toll on me. I had been feeling a bit of a sore throat for the past couple of days, and now I can barely talk without feeling pain. Tit for tat. I've been popping pills like crazy though, so hopefully I'll be on the mend soon.

Friday, May 12, 2006

In Appreciation of Appreciation

I got the best surprise today.

There I was, pecking away at my keyboard, oblivious to the things going on around me. It's Friday, so there's a lot less people since they implement alternate day-offs here, and things were relatively quiet. Marianne suddenly hurried into my cube, looking a little serious, and said, "Cathy, can you come with me for a second? We were presenting the site, and they have some questions I can't answer."

My heart started thudding. I tried to remember if somebody had told me about a presentation, because of course the system would be breaking down every so often, since I was right smack in the middle of coding it! I followed close behind, asking questions, asking out loud whether I should stop coding first so they could finish the presentation. Marianne just waved my questions away with her hand and led me to the training room.

I looked at the wall and there was no slide presentation. I looked at the one computer in the room that had its screen turned on, and it was pointing to a different site. Confused, I took it all in - most everyone was there, the big boss, and all of my project teammates.

The boss spoke, "Why don't you sit down?"

I silently complied, waiting for the worst.

"We wanted to ask you how you can work so hard, work so fast, and get things done quickly."

I opened my mouth but nothing came out at first. "What?"

And then out came the sweet little card, and the huge gift basket (full of things that will probably eventually lead to my gaining 50 gazillion pounds). They simply wanted to show their appreciation and let me know how happy they were with my work. The boss' words were, "You truly are a valuable addition to this team." I wanted to explode with happiness.

I love surprises, even more so when they make me feel so appreciated and welcome. I can't remember ever being this giddy and happy (actually, that's maybe because I've never really had a surprise anything before). This really made my day. :)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Trail-Running with a Psycho

After lunch on Sunday, Marc and I decided to go back to Temescal Canyon for a workout. I wanted to finish the hike that we got a taste of last week. We started slow, since a good part of the beginning of the hike was a steep ascent, but we'd break into runs when the trail evened out enough for me to be able to run it.

We were passing a lot of people hiking on the trail, and we eventually caught up to this one guy wearing a beer-labelled t-shirt (Budweiser? Miller? Can't remember now...) carrying a camera. He turned to us and asked us if we knew where the waterfalls were. We both shrugged, and he turned away and continued walking in front of us.

Eventually, the trail evened out again, and we broke into a jog. Waterfall guy heard us coming up from behind, and he started jogging as well. Since we were maintaining a steady laidback pace, he gained a substantial lead on us. We kept on as is, and eventually came upon him walking again. When he saw us, he broke into a run again.

Marc and I exchanged a look, shrugged and jogged on. Waterfall guy kept with his routine - everytime we'd gain ground on him, he'd throw a look behind and then start running again. Towards the end, it took all my effort not to laugh. We put a little bit more speed in our run and he had to run faster to stay ahead of us. At one point, I was on his heels and he threw look at me and, seeing I was almost upon him, he took a huge gasp of air and flew into almost a sprint.

What the hell?!

The trail forked in a couple of places, and I would slow down to ask Marc where we should go. He'd slow down too, and wait to see where we were headed. The second Marc said, "Left", at the first junction, Waterfall guy muttered, "Left?" and then went flying by me, determined not to let us get ahead of him.

We ran by the waterfalls he had been asking people left and right about, at the beginning of the hike, and he never stopped to take pictures. We were at his heels by then, and I suppose he just lost his mind completely.

When we got to the first parking lot, we slowed to a walk to cool down from the run. Waterfall guy kept running. We called out softly, "We're not behind you now!"

Up till now, I can't seem to fathom what was going on in that guy's head. He lost his opportunity to take pictures of the waterfalls he was looking for -- all for what? I still don't get it.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Night In Old Town

Since Marc was in the area yesterday, we decided to forego our usual climbing schedule and hang out in Old Town Pasadena instead. There was a cute little Brazilian-Italian restaurant I remember eating at a couple of times when I still lived in Glendale, and I wanted to revisit it, to see if the food was still as good as I remember it. It was called Chiara then, but when we got there, we found out they had changed the name to Malagueta. But when I asked, I was told that they had the same cook, same menu, with a few additions. Aside from having Brazilian and Italian fare, they started offering Mediterranean food too. So there was hummus, falafel, etc., etc, beside the Brazilian appetizers in the menu.

I was very pleased to discover that the quality of the food hadn't changed either. Marc ordered the Brazilian garlic chicken with cilantro pesto sauce (which is his favorite) and I ordered the ossobucco, which was so tender that it broke into pieces when I put my fork through it. We skipped the sangria that came highly recommended, and instead walked down to Maison du Leonidas to get two cups of steaming rich hot chocolate and a few truffles (which I still have in my purse).

Being a couple of old farts, we went into all the home decor stores and oohed and aahed over all the furniture and kitchen accessories. Since Marc's move into his new place, we've been obsessed with decorating it and making it as nice as we possibly can. Now we have a new project that we are thinking of embarking on, and I'm ultra-excited since it will bring a lot more color (which I'm a fan of) to his place.

The lack of traffic coming back from Pasadena was a great ending to a great evening.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I Got The Woody!

No, not that kind of woody. I haven't crossed that line and gotten a sex change - God knows how wrong I would be as a man.

What I did do is finish the wood problem at the gym, the one that goes all the way across the roof, rendering the climber into a horizontal position for a good 3/4 of the climb. Yay! I've been working on that problem for the past couple of weeks, so it's definitely a great feeling to finally finish it in one go.

Of course, after I had done it, I climbed like s$%t because my arms were so pumped, and I could barely grab onto anything. But that's just one more goal to reach. For now, I'm just happy that I've achieved one of the old ones.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Me The Chef

What a fun, effort-filled weekend!

Finally, all those cookbooks I bought and the recipes I clipped from magazines are being put to good use. And I'm really pleased with how things turned out. I was able to cook a good baked cod dish, I made lemon bars that tasted a lot better than it looked (I think I cut them into bars too soon), and the best one of all was a chicken dish that I cooked on Sunday, that was so easy yet tasted so good.

Marc had gotten a bag of chocolate chip scone mix a few days ago, and we also cooked that to see what it tasted like. Safe to say, I think we're going to be getting that scone mix a lot from now on. Yum!

To burn off all those calories we ingested, Marc and I went for a run on Saturday afternoon. We went all the way to the beach and did some exercises at the outdoor gymnasium there. (Note to self: We should go there more. It's just a great vibe to be around all these gymnasts, and to give all the different exercise bars a try.)

On Sunday after mass, we went for a short hike (that I want to do all the way through) in Topanga Canyon. We put in about a mile before deciding to turn back since it was getting too dark. For sure though, we're going to be hiking that trail again, and all the other trails in that park. It's such a wonderful way to cap off the weekend and start a new week right. I definitely feel energized and in a great mood today.