Friday, March 26, 2010

My Confession

Last night, we hit a big snag in selling our home. I thought that we were going to lose everything. I thought that we wouldn't be able to sell our house and we wouldn't be able to buy our new home. We have a mortgage payment coming up, I thought I would now have to make that payment. I had a huge panic attack. I freaked out and I went into a deep depression. Instead of going to God and loving my husband, I pushed him away, even though he was hurting also and I didn't pray, I panicked. In the morning hours, I cried many tears, knelt and prayed.
When things don't go according to plan, I panic. I push my loved ones away. I don't want to be loved by them, I want things to be made right first and then I will love. When I pray to God, I am hopeful that he will listen to my prayer and the similar payers that follow in case he didn't hear the first one. I hope that he will answer them in the way that I asked. But, sometimes he does say no. Sometimes it is a yes, but I just don't fully trust that his way of doing things is the best way, so I try to help.
I need to learn to fully 100% trust in God and his plans and let him take care of everything.
I need to learn that my family needs my love all the time, even when I don't feel like giving them it.
This song represents where I want to be with my relationship with God. Trusting and loving fully even during the silence, pain and sorrow.

I Believe In Love lyrics

How long will my prayers seem unanswered?
Is there still faith in me to reach the end?
I'm feeling doubt I'm losing faith
But giving up would cost me everything
So I'll stand in the pain and silence
And I'll speak to the dark night

I believe in the sun even when it's not shining
I believe in love even when I don't feel it
And I believe in God even when He is silent
And I, I believe

Though I can't see my stories ending
That doesn't mean the dark night has no end
It's only here that I find faith
And learn to trust the one who writes my days
So I'll stand in the pain and silence
And I'll speak to the dark night

I believe in the sun even when it's not shining
I believe in love even when I don't feel it
And I believe in God even when He is silent
And I, I believe
No dark can consume Light
No death greater than this life
We are not forgotten
Hope is found when we say
Even when He is silent

I believe in the sun even when it's not shining
I believe in love even when I don't feel it
And I believe in God even when He is silent
And I, I believe.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Daughter

This is a letter that I wrote and read to Brianna, my stepdaughter at my marriage to Brett.
I recently just found this letter, have been looking for it.
I think a relationship with a stepchild is very special and I cherish my relationship with her. I pray daily that we will always remain close and that absolutely nothing will ever come between us. It is important to me.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Unhealthy Dog Food

I heard somewhere once, "if you love your dog, then never give them something you are not willing to try" Sounds like good advice.
We are on our 3rd, different kind of dog food. The first was this organic food from Costco, not made by and we had no problems with it. Until they decided out of the blue to not sell it anymore. We then tried the Kirkland's Chicken and rice food. We did gradually changed him over to it. But this gave Boogie running poop, so then we tried Iams. He got a horrible rash and has lost his fur on his sides. I did some research into Iams and discovered that I am not alone, Iams is to blame for a lot of dogs skin problems and in fact is rated at 0 out of a 5.
I was surprised to discover this as I normally have a lot of confidence in the products that Costco sells. Especially since it was the higher end in the pricing scale.
So now I have stopped giving him Iams cold turkey, am trying the Kirkland brand Lamb and rice. I am giving it to him gradually, but am also giving him homemade food for now. He is one lucky dog.
I am hoping that his rash and hair loss improves, if not I will have to take him into the vet and be charged over $100 for something that doesn't need to cost that much. The good news is that I really haven't seen him biting at himself. So, hopefully the new food is helping already.
Oh and I really am not going to try his food, just can't bring myself to do that. I tried to get the kids to, but they won't either. Oh well.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Texas Chili Contest

Funny. If you can read this whole story without laughing then there's no hope for you. I was crying by the end. Note: Please take time to read this slowly. If you pay attention to the first two judges, the reaction of the third judge is eve! n better. For those of you who have lived in Texas , you know how true this is. They actually have a Chili Cook-off about the time Halloween comes around. It takes up a major portion of a parking lot at the San Antonio City Park . Judge #3 was an inexperienced Chili taster named Frank, who was visiting from Springfield , IL .

Frank: "Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge's table asking for directions to the Coors Light truck, when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili wouldn't be all that spicy and, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted".

Here are the scorecard notes from the event:


Judge # 1 -- A ! little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick.

Judge # 2 -- Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.

Judge # 3 (Frank) -- Holy shit, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put the flames out. I hope that's the worst one. These Texans are crazy.


Judge # 1 -- Smoky, with a hint of pork. Slight jalapeno tang.

Judge # 2 -- Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.

Judge # 3 -- Keep this out of the reach of children. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.


Judge # 1 -- Excellent firehouse chili. Great kick.

Judge # 2 -- A bit salty, good use of peppers.

Judge # 3 -- Call the EPA . I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now. Get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back, now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I'm getting shit-faced from all of the beer.


Judge # 1 -- Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.

Judge # 2 -- Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.

Judge # 3 -- I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? Sally, the beer ma! id, was standing behind me with fresh refills. That
300-LB woman is starting to look HOT...just like this nuclear waste I'm eating! Is chili an aphrodisiac?


Judge # 1 -- Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.

Judge # 2 -- Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.

Judge # 3 -- My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher. I wonder if I'm burning my lips off. It really pisses me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. ! Screw those rednecks.


Judge # 1 -- Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spices and peppers.

Judge # 2 -- The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Superb.

Judge # 3 -- My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames. I shit on myself when I farted and I'm worried it will eat through the chair. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that Sally. Can't feel my lips anymore. I need to wipe my ass with a snow cone.


Judge # 1 -- A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.

Judge # 2 -- Ho hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. **I should ! take note that I am worried about Judge # 3. He appears to be in a bit of distress as he is cursing uncontrollably.

Judge # 3 -- You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn't feel a thing. I've lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava to match my shirt. At least during the autopsy, they'll know what killed me. I've decided to stop breathing it's too painful. Screw it; I'm not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I'll just suck it in through the
4-inch hole in my stomach.


Judge # 1 -- The perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili. Not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.

Judge # 2 -- This final entry is a good, balanced chili. Neither mil! d nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge #3 farted, passed out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he's going to make it. poor feller, wonder how he'd have reacted to really hot chili?

Judge # 3 - No Report

“Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”

Picture is of Kayla in a race. (purple sweater) It was raining very hard, cold and she had a nasty cold. She was only 3 and still ran in it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dr. Seuss Tree

This is our Dr. Seuss tree. I call it that because of the way it leans from side to side and it is so thin. You should see it blowing in the wind, never did fall over, like I thought it would, through the strong wind storms throughout the years. I love this tree. It's one tough tree.
The top photo was taken during a fierce Winter storm and the bottom is a recent photo.

Eat your veggies, Kayla!

One of many repeated attempts to get Kayla to eat her vegetables.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cheapy Cheapy

One of the things that I love the most about my husband is that he is so cheap, although I think I am worse. He made this ping pong table cause he didn't want to pay for a new one. Although it isn't painted in this picture, he has since gone and painted it to look like a real ping pong table.
We could also talk about the $25.00 gas dryer he bought off of craigslist, or the $75 new front loading washing machine or the $300 brand new furnace, or the deck, overhead, fence, painted house, that we got for free. Even the $800 price tag on our new laminate flooring, cheap, cheap!
I could go on, but you get it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Flower Photography

I love taking photos of flowers. They always turn out pretty. The first 3 were taken at the Annual Tulip Festival in Woodburn and the last 2 were taken from my house.I have a lot of my flower photos framed.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Annual Sunriver Trip

Naomi swimming at the Sunriver Pool
Crawling are way through a mile long cave that got smaller and smaller till the end. This last year, I took all my nieces and nephews to the end, using my runners head lamp.
Self in green, Brett, Julie, my kids and my niece and nephew
Brianna and I at the Trail Molten Land.
Photo of my girls
Silly brother Steve, always a laugh
Me in my lifeguard looking swimsuit and Naomi
Running of the horses. A every night event, fun to watch. When they let them loose for the evening.

My family has been going to Sunriver every summer since I was a little girl. I have only missed a few trips. As we are all older and have our own families, we still go every year and either have two houses next to each other or share a large home. This year we are sharing a large home. I have so many pictures, but here are just a few. We absolutely love going.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My First Race

I must had been 4 years old when I ran my first race. It was at the Elks Lodge. I remember standing in line for the race to begin. I was just supposed to simply run to my mom. My sister was in the race, I can't remember if my brother was. But I remember being so upset when my big sister passed me. I just stopped in the middle of the race and didn't go any further. I wanted the prize and thought I wasn't going to get anything because my sister passed me.
Well I did finish, thanks to my mom getting me to keep running with bribery and I did get something. I still have my prized possession today and keep it in my bedroom.
My turtle.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Talent vs work: What determines sporting success?

When I was 17 years old, my favorite activity was biking 30 miles. I went from my parents home in Milwaukie, Or to the Washington border. It was such a thrill for me. I'd sit and stare at the river for awhile, then ride home. When I decided to start training for my first marathon, every distance that was further than the last was a huge thrill. I loved every minute of it. Such a challenge.

Below is an article I recently read about a debate, are people born champions or does it take hard work or both?

My father was a runner. He could run a mile in 5 minutes in his day. I however am a different type of runner and I have worked very hard to become the runner that I am now.

Interesting article, makes you think~

Nature vs nurture

Talent vs work: What determines sporting success?

Of the many debatable issues in sport (or in life, for that matter), few are as "unanswerable" as the issue of nature vs. nurture, the notion that people are born champions or made into champions through hours (and years) of hard work. This debate applies to just about anything - your salary, your ability to play a musical instrument, to paint, to play sport. We'll concern ourselves with sport, and that makes the debate a little more complex than it might be for other activities, as we'll see.

Further reading required

I recently did a couple of posts on the Matthew effect, and the logical extension of this debate is the debate about work vs natural ability, born vs bred. That was in fact suggested by a few of you in your comments, thank you very much! And so given the fact that it's topical and relevant, I thought that I'd do a short post today, introducing some preliminary thoughts. I have to do a great deal of reading before I commit to a more detailed, complete discussion about the matter, but this post contains some initial thoughts, with the promise to return to the subject later this year, once I've brushed up on some of the research and opinion.

There are a couple of good books on the subject. The initial discussion of the Matthew effect was stimulated by my reading of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and he devotes a section of the book to this discussion. It's called 10,000 hours, after the notion that this is the minimum amount of time it takes to become world class at anything. It's certainly well worth a read, but came across less than convincingly in the book - intuitively, perhaps as a result of scientific thinking, any dogmatic statement like "it takes 10,000 hours" will be met with scepticism.

Another good book, recommended by Simon (thank you!), is Talent is overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, which is next on my shopping list. Geoff Colvin wrote this article for Fortune magazine, which is something of an introduction to the idea, some preliminary reading, perhaps!

A question of perspective

Your position in the debate depends very much on your point of view and your own experiences. I suspect that every single one of you reading this can relate a story that supports either one of the positions. Perhaps you are yourself an example of someone who felt they did not possess the natural "talent" to excel at sport, but through hard work and training, managed to rise to the level of those who were more talented? (think Michael Jordan here). Or, you are the gifted athlete who has found that with minimal training, you can outperform most of your peers in a range of different activities?

I have to still do a great deal of reading on this subject - I'd be speaking out of turn if I laid all my thoughts down at this stage, with evidence. However, I will say upfront that I believe that both camps are right, within the context of their own arguments and experiences. That is, talent is crucial - some of us are naturally more gifted than others for sport. But talent is a low-resolution microscope, in that it's only good for separating people out into broad categories, on a global scale. Once you look a little more closely at a more homogenous group (that is, you match for ability), then the difference becomes work. The mistake made by both camps is that they tend to over-commit to their position, and discard the (in my opinion) likely possibility that talent and work affect performance differently depending on the group being evaluated. Because it's so context specific, one cannot be dogmatic and too sure of any position - if success was formulaic, then someone would be selling it by now!

I'll never forget a story related to me by Prof Tim Noakes after a trip to Kenya, where he attended the Nairobi marathon. A woman in one of the rural villages was constantly being disturbed by her noisy chickens early in the morning. She rushes outside one morning to see what is causing the commotion, and discovers that the chickens are being frightened by a group of runners out for their morning training run. Upon asking what they are doing running around the neighbourhood at 6am, she learns that they are training for the Nairobi Marathon in three months' time, where they can win money. Jump ahead three months, and SHE is the new marathon champion, having taken up running as a result of the dual inspiration provided by those runners and her noisy chickens! When three months of training can take a previously inactive person to the top of the tree, then you have a strong argument for natural talent.

However, in order to continue to improve and reach the very highest level (international marathons, in this case), she would have to do a great deal more training. That's because talent takes one only so far - without it, you have no chance. But to reach the higher levels, training and work become non-negotiable. The philosophical question, of course, is whether certain people LACK that natural ability to at least reach a given level of performance at sport. I believe the answer to be yes - you'd have a very hard time convincing me that every single person is capable of running a 2:10 marathon, even given enough training. So we have a hybrid of a talent and work model - one is insufficient when looking at the global picture. However, zoom in on a given level, and hard work becomes the separator.

Sports performance - a little more complex than just work

So now we focus specifically on sporting ability. And even here, not all sports are created equal. In the Fortune article, Colvin points to Tiger Woods as an example of hard work, from the age of 18 months, allied to a desire to constantly improve, as the force behind Woods' success. Perhaps golf lends itself to this.

I'm not as sure about running and cycling. Is it as simple as hard work equals winning? Can we conclude that Haile Gebrselassie is the record holder because he has trained harder than anyone else? Or did he train harder because he possessed some cluster of characteristics that set him off in that direction? In sport, the decision to train is rarely made without some assurance that the training will deliver a result and reward - that means that a natural predisposition to a sport is often the first requirement on the path to hard work, so the two are in fact inter-related.

Having said this, hard work is undoubtedly important, and in a sport like running (or any endurance sport, which we're obviously biased towards here at The Science of Sport) there is no substitute for training. But many athletes would not cope with even half the volume or intensity of training done by a Gebrselassie or Sammy Wanjiru. And even if they did rack up 200km weeks, running a 2:04 marathon would be beyond them, for reasons that are at this stage still unknown.

You've all heard of slow-twitch fibres, lung capacity, the genetic determinant of VO2max. These "limiting" factors are often put forward as reasons why some athletes simply cannot cut it. Conversely, whenever a great athlete comes along, we seek explanations in these numbers - "he has a VO2max of 85 ml/kg/min, his lung capacity is 5.8L and he only produces 3mM lactate at 80% of PPO" is a common argument for why a cyclist or runner is dominant.

This is the other extreme - the notion that great athletes are born, not made through training. As I've pointed out, it's likely to be just as incorrect. The fact of the matter is, if I gave you a list of elite cyclists or runners and their VO2max values, you would be unable to rank them in order of performance using that VO2max. Sometimes, the best cyclist doesn't have the highest VO2max, the best efficiency, the most slow-twitch fibres and the largest lungs.

The situation might be even more drastic for sprinting events - speed is without doubt the result of genetically determined factors meeting training effects. If you took a random sample of children from West Africa and another from a western European country, I have no doubt that on average, the West Africans will be faster in a sprint race. That's natural ability, physiologically determined, though the exact genes and physiological characteristics that go into this performance remain inconclusively known.

That's as much a reflection on the fact that sports science hasn't fully worked out what determines performance, and that performance is the result of a cluster of physiological, psychological and environmental traits that are currently too complex for us to analyse. Hard work and training is one of them, and when one looks at the very top level of performers, the difference made by hard work becomes the tiny difference between victory and defeat. But to tell people that they can achieve anything, regardless of their genes, seems to me to be misleading, when it is applied to sports like running and cycling.

However, I'm open to change, and plan to read up and find out much more - perhaps next time I post on this topic, later in the year, I'll be singing a different tune!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My dryer

We got a gas dryer off of craiglist a few years ago. It only cost $25.00. I have loved it ever since. It has only needed one repair and the total cost was $15.00. Each of our kids fit inside of it as seen. The man that is buying our house asked for the washer and dryer and of course I said no. Way too many memories with it. And it only cost $25.00!

Unique Sand Castles

Discovered on a visit to Cannon Beach, Ore during the summer of 2009.