Only one face necessary

I blame the shoddy drugstore batteries someone sent me for expiring just as the photo-moment arrived (or I arrived at the photo-moment): Barack Obama’s three-quarter profile on a sheet cake at the big refectory. It’s another quiet night here at the secret city; dusk has settled over us while folks are still getting into position in Washington.

On the fitness front, another strong day today. I wanted to take it easy but coming up the one hill on my way to the back of the airfield, I felt so strong. And besides, I have to be strong for Obama! Strong for America! Today is no day to slack off, no way no how. Yes we can!

The wind was all over the place in some confusing fashion, and as I did the other day, I guessed wrong so that when I thought I would be turning into the back stretch and heading with the wind, I was actually pushing into a headwind. Is it possible that there could be one certain direction for the wind to blow from so that it feels as if it’s in my face the whole way? If this is so, how (and why) did the Yugoslavs who built the secret city calculate it so that the roads are lined up with that prevailing direction? Were they masochists or something?

Fickle wind, I have my eye on you. I saw how toward the end of my ride, the smoke off the burn pit was blowing west, although I could feel the wind coming out of the northeast again. You try to fool me into giving up, but I am strong today for Obama and have no patience with your silly breezy games! I hit the wide open stretch just west of the big perpendicular taxiway, all the while humming the howling riff from “Hatari” to myself, and getting myself ready for the sharp turn onto the back stretch with the unfavorable wind in my face. What a pleasure to make that turn (after looking both ways for traffic), to feel the push of the sticky tires, warm from friction, against the asphalt as I whip around 135 degrees without losing speed. (Of course, I feel as if the wind is fully ready to turn itself 136 degrees to frustrate me.)

I pulled around the first lap in less than 22 minutes, and did the second one in 22:05, so both laps were over 19 mph, the second day in a row that I’ve accomplished this. I am convinced that by writing about it (most vividly here) I have made it easier for myself to master this skill.

In the running event, today was also a good day. On my predawn jog, I reached the 370-mile milestone that gets me a metaphorical pat on the back from those mysterious secret-city authorities. I have run at least 5.6 miles nine days in a row. I confess, the pegs feel kind of tired, like they were made out of chocolate that has slowly started to melt. I have been just barely shuffling along for the last couple mornings, it feels like, although I suspect that a big part of that is running on the roadside verge in the dark and my anxiety at the likelihood of twisting my ankle. I have three more of those 5.6-mile runs to go before I get to the 100-mile goal I set for January, which shouldn’t be that hard in the 11 days left in the month. We’ve been enjoying pretty good weather lately so I want to take full advantage of it; I dread another cold snap or another rainy day.

(Today’s picture is not the Obama cake, but Freedom Lake, at the east end of the secret city, nestled in the canyon wall. Yes, we drink the water.)

Just like Craig Pond

On the bike today, out for my afternoon ride, I hopped off the curb into the road and all of a sudden, everything was calm, like a smooth and tranquil lake of asphalt. It was like that moment diving into Craig Pond first thing in the morning, when the lake is so still and the water is chilly but it just swallows you up into it, so softly.

(No pictures of Craig Pond handy, unfortunately, so here’s one from Oregon instead.)

The ride went OK. I attempted to psyche myself up beforehand by listening to Tune-Yards’ “Sunlight,”, but it was another song, Stereolab’s “Metronomic Underground” that proved to be the key to victory.

As you can tell, it’s pretty hypnotic, and just humming to myself, “Crazy, sturdy, a torpedo” helped me keep up that steady energy needed for the long back stretch with the wind, past the dump. Of course, first I had to figure out what song it actually was, which is kind of difficult, since my Stereolab sampler is on a single CD that I used to play whenever I would drive around the secret city in the truck.

But it worked! I finished lap no. 2 in 22:48, or 18.4 mph. I was pretty much toast afterward, however, and rode home kind of slowly, still in a daze from hearing the song in my head over and over again.

Tune-Yards, “Sunlight”

This song has pretty much everything tossed in, as if it was some kind
of whirling food processor of a pop-song. There’s a rock-solid drum
beat, the girl’s vocal, the bass drops in at just the right time to
make the grove swing. Then the chorus pops out, like the girl from the
cake in “Some Like It Hot,”
“I could be the sunlight in your eyes/couldn’t I?”
The singer (Merrill Garbus, a proud Vermont product, evidently) must
have listened to lots of Brigitte Fontaine while making this record.
MG has exactly the same balance between threat and vulnerability as
BF, but sings more lightly .
Is that a car alarm sound in the background of the second chorus, and
a symphonic string section coming in around the bridge, or what? Plus
the disco-like breaks here and there, where the whole song is reduced
to a single note, a single instrument, a single pulse or beat. But you
don’t need to wait for those moments to come up, at any moment, like
some kind of hologram, each individual instrument or drum contains its
own solitary, perfected nature; I could spend hours just listening to
the decay of the hi-hat.
Obtain your own copy here.