Friday, July 30, 2010

Pasta Salad with Black-Eyed Peas, Tomato, and Cucumber


This is okay, but possibly needs more work. It's refreshing, but I think it could be more vinegary or maybe spicy. I ate the leftovers with added salsa, which was good.

6 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
12 oz whole wheat short pasta
two tomatoes
one cucumber, peeled
one can blackeyed peas

Put some water on for the pasta.

Seed and dice the tomato and cucumber, sprinkle with salt, and let them drain a bit in the colander.

Measure vinegar into a large bowl. I don't put salt because the tomatoes and cucumbers are already salted. Drizzle the olive oil over the vinegar and whisk it in.

Cook the pasta according to package directions, about ten minutes or until al dente. Meanwhile add the tomatoes and cucumber to the vinaigrette. Rinse and drain the blackeyed peas, and toss them with the tomatoes and cucumber. When the pasta is done, drain and toss with everything else.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer Fitness Plan Review

WCR is off break, but I'm having an easy reentry week because I'm getting over a cold. And in a way, this cold is the crowning accomplishment of my summer break. In a good way!

I learned this summer that break is the best thing ever, and I hope to bring this lesson into the new season by being as hardcore about recovery as I am about working out, like Robert Mitchum demonstrating love and hate in The Night of the Hunter, except that workout and recovery don't fight each other, they join forces like the Wonder Twins. So, not like Night of the Hunter. But it's a great speech, anyway. And I like to keep it current for any hipsters who think they invented knuckle tattoos.

Though evidently, my idea of break is working out four times a week. But I only skated once a week, I haven't skated once a week since 2007! I did need to try skating less, just to see what would happen. If it didn't work out, I could go back to skating like a possessed person based on scientific experiment and not superstition. I knew, though, that science was already on the side of tapering and crosstraining, because science is sane like that.

I did actually rest, though! This break I really, finally, experienced Sunday as a day of rest. Even though I finished with Sunday rioters practice by the end of April, I didn't have Sundays free and clear for one reason or the other—training for Walk & Roll, then Walk & Roll, then Brew Ha Ha— until after the championship. It was a revelation, when it finally happened.

I didn't have any ungodly early practices or any ungodly faraway practices. That meant, in effect, no speed practices, that's how I ended up only skating once a week. It's nothing against speed practices, and in fact my initial instinct when I got wind of this break was to sign up for every speed practice in the tri-county area. A thing I've read is that willpower is an exhaustible resource. Shoalmate Shannanigan calls these self control hearts, as in a video game. You can get yourself out of bed Saturdays at 5:30 AM for weeks and weeks, and then you get tired, obviously, from not sleeping, but also from using up self control hearts to get yourself out of bed.

I had plenty of self control hearts to throw into crosstraining: plyometrics workouts, which were basically all my little twenty minute workouts strung together with some new stuff added from Jumping Into Plyometrics, on Wednesday evenings, and strength circuits, at Kru Strength + Fitness, on Saturday mornings, where I said howdy to my hamstrings.

Not as much as I did everything else, but I also ran a bit and the grand finish of my break turned out to be running the 5K Race Judicata last Thursday. Great Scott, last week. It seems like a lifetime ago. I had no idea when I signed up that it was going to be all lawyers. At the starting line, I overhead a dude say that anything less than thirty minutes for a 5K was "embarrassing." Well, I finished in 33:34. All my earlier runs were around thirty-seven or thirty-eight minutes, so I'm pretty pleased. I ran every step of this 5K, and actually sprinted the last 20 yards.

That was the grand finish, because the next day I got sick. So then I had a week of total rest, right at the end of my break. Now I'm rested and ready for the new season...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Buyer's Guide to Wrist Guards & Elbow and Knee Pads

If you already have wrist guards, elbow pads, and knee pads, check that wrist guards have a hard splint and that elbow and knee pads are well-padded with a hard shell. Soft pads without shells such as for volleyball, or lightly padded shells such as for inline skating, are not suitable protection for derby.

Basic Protection
Probably the least expensive acceptable option is the Razor brand set of wrists, elbows, and knees that you can get at mass market retail stores.

Better Protection
Both Pro-Tec and Triple Eight are better beginner options and still reasonably priced. Pro-Tec Street wrist guards and Triple Eight Hired Hands and Wrist Savers are good options for wrist guards; however, note that Triple Eight Anti-Gloves do not have hard splints, and are not acceptable protection for derby. Pro-Tec Park elbow and knee pads are slimmer than Pro-Tec Street elbow and knee pads, their heavier-duty option. The Triple Eight Park two-pack includes their EP-55 elbow pads and KP-22 knee pads, which are comparable to the Pro-Tec Street line.

You can find the sets of both Pro-Tec and Triple Eight via online retailers, and you can sometimes find the Triple Eight set at sporting goods stores. A note on sets, though: your arms and legs aren't necessarily the same sizes. Just saying. You can try on gear at skateboard shops and skating rinks, which carry these and other brands.

I wore Pro-Tec Street wrists, elbows, and knees through two seasons of Derby Lite and my first WCR home season. I mean, I went through three pairs of wrist guards and two pairs of knee pads; but that's normal for gear to last about a season. I think elbow pads last longer for me because I don't fall on my elbows much, and I wear socks as gaskets. I also wear Gladiator knee gaskets that together with the Pro-Tec knee pads provide pretty acceptable protection in my opinion.

Best Protection
Many girls continue to be happy with their Pro-Tec or Triple Eight wrist guards and elbow pads; as long as they fit well and don't slip, they should provide adequate protection. However, 187 Killer Elbows and Rector Proformer Wrist Guards and Fat Boy Elbow Pads are heavier-duty options.

What's really worth budgeting for is better knee protection. Recommended brands include 187 Pro Knees, TSG Force III Knee Pads, and Rector Fat Boy Knee Pads.

For the new season I am trying Rector Proformer Wrist Guards and Fat Boy Elbow and Knee Pads. I like the knee pads, they seem more padded yet aren't too bulky. I haven't fallen on them yet, though. I'm not sure that I like the elbow pads, which do seem bulky and there's a weird design issue with the bottom strap. The wrist guards are okay, they're padded which I suppose is more protective but seems a little overwrought to me.

I also have on deck a set of 187 Killer Elbows and Knees. 187 doesn't make Wrists. All I have to say about those right now is, those are some huge knee pads.

More detailed reviews of the pads I have owned TK.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


* eat pasta salad
* take pics of mouthguards and pads
* put away folded sheets
* process pics
* add tasks to Lotsa Helping Hands community

Monday, July 26, 2010


* eat pasta salad
* league meeting
* post-meeting snack at Earwax
* send emails
* take nyquil
* fall asleep two minutes into Night Stalker

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pasta Salad with Chickpeas, Cauliflower, and Hearts of Palm


This summer I'm making pasta salads with raw vegetables, which I just stumbled on, but I like them because, hello, less cooking, and also the raw vegetables stay better, and actually, taste even better after a few days in the fridge. The vinaigrette sort of cevichizes the vegetables so they don't taste raw, but they don't get soggy like cooked vegetables.

5 Tbsp orange juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp thyme
1/2 cup olive oil
12 oz whole wheat short pasta
a small head of cauliflower
one can hearts of palm
one can chickpeas

Put some water on for the pasta.

Measure orange juice into a large bowl. Add salt, pepper, and thyme. I don't actually measure them, but you use more salt than you might think because it has to flavor the whole salad. Drizzle the olive oil over the orange juice and whisk it in.

Cut up the cauliflower into very small florets and toss them in the vinaigrette. Cook the pasta according to package directions, about ten minutes or until al dente. Meanwhile drain and slice the hearts of palm, and rinse and drain the chickpeas, and toss them with the cauliflower. When the pasta is done, drain and toss with everything else.

Pasta Salad with Broccoli, Cherry Tomatoes, and Cannellini Beans
Same as above, substituting cannellini beans for chickpeas, broccoli for cauliflower, and cherry tomatoes for hearts of palm.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


* run Race Judicata
* cab home
* ice feet
* update facebook
* make sympathetic noises in sweetie man's direction
* also make him throat coat tea with honey
* wash dishes and clean kitchen
* floss and brush teeth & wash face
* watch Torchwood

* fall asleep
* wake up at 3:30 AM
* try to sleep
* give up and go lie on the chaise
* eating almonds and choc silk
* and watching more torchwood
* notice sun eventually
* go back to bed
* sleep

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Buyer's Guide to Mouthguards

A mouthguard protects not only your teeth, but also protects your head from concussion. It's a super important piece of protective equipment that also feels, well, like it slightly impedes your breathing during this extremely intense physical activity; so performance also is something to think about with regard to your mouthguard.

Stock mouthguards
Stock mouthguards that are worn without any additional customization aren't actually that easy to find anymore. Which is just as well, they're cheap but bad for a number of reasons. They fit poorly, so they aren't comfortable and provide poor protection. They actually have to be held in the mouth with your teeth. Which impedes breathing and speaking, and you do have to be able to both.


Boil and bite mouthguards
Common and reasonably priced at sporting goods stores, boil and bite mouthguards are worn after taking an impression of your teeth. A caveat is that off-the-shelf mouthguards are generally sized for men; so if you are having trouble with fit, you may do better with a kid's mouthguard. Shock Doctor makes a range of mouthguards that offer various levels of protection—with correspondingly higher levels of dental insurance—and various performance-enhancing features. Don't worry about mouthguards with lower teeth or double teeth protection; for derby, you want upper teeth protection. But if you have braces, they make mouthguards for that!

I wore the Shock Doctor Gel Max Mouthguard through rioters, and I thought it was fine. It had a tether, but I eventually cut it off to keep everything possible out of the way of my breathing.

20100727_customCustom mouthguards
At some point, you may be interested in a custom mouthguard made from molds taken of your mouth. Because the fit is better, they are more comfortable and less obstructive to breathing. They also offer better protection because the mouthguard is produced from a mold versus the mold being produced on the mouthguard itself, which can thin the plastic in the areas that need most to be protected. Gladiator Custom Mouthguards can be ordered online with an DIY impression system that you mold your own teeth with and mail back for your custom mouthguard, or you can get a custom mouthguard from your dentist who will professionally make the mold of your teeth.

When I was drafted, I got my own mouthguard from the heroic Doctor Harada who donated his services to make custom mouthguards for all home team skaters. It is the bomb. Once it goes in, you leave it in. You can talk and even drink with it in. And the one time I fell and bounced on my teeth, they were totally fine.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


* make pasta salad
* eat pasta salad
* put away folded laundry
* enter and pay bills
* order Amazon voucher
* draft nutrition article
* take Tylenol PM
* watch Torchwood

Monday, July 19, 2010


* wash dishes
* eat mac n cheese
* make grocery list
* change wheels
* MOD skate
* post-workout snack: almonds and choc silk
* watch Torchwood

* fall asleep
* wake up
* try to sleep
* take Tylenol PM
* read Beautiful Shadow
* finally, sleep

Friday, July 16, 2010

Basic Vinaigrette


It's awesome to have mastered vinaigrette. I bring this up because vinaigrette is the first thing I make for my pasta salads, which I will be talking about soon.

The proportions of a classic vinaigrette are one part vinegar to three parts oil, but I make mine with three parts vinegar to four parts oil. I worked this out years ago, when lowfat diets were in. Now I don't care about low fat, but I'm used to the taste. I guess it's on the sharp side. It's the most vinegar that oil can hold in an emulsion; so also if you use more acidic ingredients like citrus juices, you have to cut back the proportion a bit.

Different vinegars and different oils make different vinaigrettes. I use white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, cider vinegar, and rice vinegar, and also lemon, lime, and orange juice, and olive oil, and sometimes sesame oil.

3 Tbsp vinegar
1/4 cup oil

Measure the vinegar into a bowl. Add salt and pepper, and also any herbs or spices that you may want to use. Drizzle the olive oil over the vinegar and whisk it in. If it thickens to the consistency of beaten egg yolk, that's right. If not, you can add a teaspoon or so or mustard, or honey, or mustard and honey, to set it back up.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


* eat pasta salad
* lead plyos
* post-workout snack at Cleo's
* post signup for next week's plyos
* send accident report emails

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Buyer's Guide to Helmets

20100714_helmetLet's start with the difference between a bike helmet and a skate helmet. Bike helmets are lighter and focus more on the front of the head, and skate helmets are heavier and cover further down the back of the head. If you think about it, bicyclists tend not to fall backwards; but skaters do, sometimes.

That said, there are any number of good skate helmet brands including S-One, Triple Eight, Pro-Tec, and others that can be found at sporting goods stores, skateboard shops, skating rinks, and online; but it's not a bad idea to go into a shop and try helmets on: proper fit is your best insurance that your helmet will do its job.

Here are the guidelines from the WFTDA Safety Squad:

  • The helmet should fit snugly, not moving on the head.
  • The front edge of the helmet should be two finger widths above the eyebrows.
  • When you hold the straps on both sides, roll the helmet over the back of your head & check for gaps. The back of the helmet should not touch the nape of your neck.
  • With the chin strap fastened, your helmet should be snug & comfortable with light pressure. When you try to roll your helmet off your head, if the skin on your forehead moves, you have a good fit.
  • Front and back straps of the helmet should form a V just below the ear.
  • The chinstrap should be snug when you open your mouth (no more than 2 fingers should fit between the chin and chin strap when your mouth is closed).
  • Your helmet should not move around when you shake your head.
  • Do not wear a helmet tipped back on the head. Even if you can form the "Y" around the ears and eliminate slack, helmets worn on the back of the head are more likely to pop off and do not protect the forehead.
53cm - 54cm (20.9 inches - 21.3 inches) Small
55cm - 56cm (21.7 inches - 22.0 inches) Medium
57cm - 58cm (22.4 inches - 22.8 inches) Large
When measuring your size, wrap the measuring tape around your head just above your ears and no more than 2 fingers' width above your eyebrows.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


* fill out rioter survey
* send sweetie man out for Taco Burrito Express
* eat tacos
* watch Mad Men
* watch Torchwood

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Story Of My Life So Far

I've been toying with blogging about this: that I have everything I want. Or well, I'm on the path to everything I want & if you don't think that's virtually identical to having everything you want, you haven't been organizing this bowl of spaghetti for the past forty-odd years. Well, the spaghetti is organized now. Life is a bowl of very neat spaghetti, and it's just okay. On the one hand, it's great to be living your life. I mean, there's living and then there's your life. Your story, and what it's about. I work, I skate, and I sleep. I once wished I could write so hard that I would forget to water my plants like Annie Dillard, or maybe it was Annie Lamott. To do something singlemindedly to the neglect of everything else. And lo, I have arrived. I don't even have plants, unless you count what's growing on my shower curtain. I wish I was going to say next that I regret the condition of my shower curtain on the other hand, but that's not what it is. I mean, I'll wash it down the next time I'm in there. It's just that on the other hand living your life doesn't feel like enough, and feels a little empty. When your real life exceeds your dreams, you need to come up with more dreams. But what dreams, you can't distract yourself with just anything once you've disciplined yourself against distractions. You feel good about that, but it doesn't solve your problem. It just keeps you from creating worse problems, and your problem isn't that bad. You're content, but being content makes you a little discontented.

Which is how I've been for probably the past several months. Until.

Friday night, I'm checking my home email accounts. I hardly get email on my home accounts anymore, both of them are for people who don't know me as Poppy Spock. I have an email from my sister saying that her cancer is eating away her bone in a few small spots. Her experimental drug has significantly shrunk most of the problem spots she had, but these spots are resistant. So, radiation treatment. Knock knock, good news, bad news, who knows. By which I mean, that is just crap. It's crap for all the serious reasons that living with cancer is crap for the person who is actually living with cancer, who is not me, and it's also crap because I can't be bored with my life without cancer inviting itself in?

I have another email on my second home account, the one that I only get screenwriting spam on. It's from a guy I sent my screenplay to a year ago for feedback. He's going to read my screenplay, send me notes, and talk through them with me on the phone. Which he does the next day, which gets me excited about writing this screenplay again. In what copious free time?

Interesting times, again.

Friday, July 9, 2010


* eat stuffed poblano and rice
* get cargo shorts
* get ice cream
* watch last 90 minutes of Replicant
* knock knock (:/
* talk morosely to sweetie man

Thursday, July 8, 2010


* eat rice and tofu
* lead plyos
* post-workout snack at Earwax
* post next week's plyos signup
* fall asleep 10 minutes into Replicant

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Introduction to The Buyer's Guides to Gear

I will begin over the next few weeks with the minimum gear required to try out for the Windy City Rollers: helmet, mouth guard, wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads, and skates.

Keep in mind that "minimum" here does not mean the cheapest that's out there. Much of the cheapest gear is not suitable for derby, which demands high performance and heavy protection. If you don't know, skating is not exactly an inexpensive pastime; but understandably, you may not want to break the bank before you're sure that derby is for you. These guides present the lowest end options that offer good enough performance and protection to get you started, and then some better options that you'll be happy to shell out the dough for after you're hooked.

There's a lot of information to follow, and it's easy to get overwhelmed or obsessed. Try to keep your head, don't expect your gear to do everything for you, and definitely save yourself some gear to grow into. You're going to change and grow as a skater, and your gear needs will change. And grow, believe me. Also your gear wears out, we're actually required to replace your protective gear at least every season. So you're not getting gear for life, you're getting gear for now. After it's all been said, the best you can do is pick something, try it out, and take it from there...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


* eat pasta salad
* watch Whale Wars


* get detergent, et. al.
* do laundry
* enter bills
* make weekly plan
* clean out craft dresser
* surger rib pad
* pre-MOD skate dinner at Pick Me Up
* MOD skate
* watch Mad Men

Friday, July 2, 2010

Summer Food Plan

So then you know, I plan my food around my fitness plan:

complex carbs &
light protein

simple carbs
simple carbs &
light protein
complex carbs &
light protein
complex carbs &
heavy protein

Immediately before/after means within 45 minutes, before/after means within 1-3 hours, and between means more than 3 hours before or after workouts. Which nowadays are at pretty regular times, no more half-awake nibbling peanut butter and honey toast before Saturday morning speed practice or munching peanut butter and jelly sandwiches one-handed on the way to Tuesday evening speed practice. Which means that my already horrifyingly limited palette of foods has gotten even more limited, but also that I almost never have to do dishes.

Complex carbs and light protein before workout

Most of my workouts are in the evening, so this means dinner. Lately I've been having pasta salads for dinner. As in, I make a huge pasta salad at some point in the week and eat it all week out of takealong containers. And if I'm not eating pasta salad out of a plastic container, you can find me at Choppers or Taco Burrito Express. Or if it's happy hour, at Geisha Sushi eating $4 maki rolls.

Before Kru on Saturday morning, I usually have oatmeal with dates, walnuts, and silk because I haven't organized anything else.

Simple carbs immediately before workout

I'm still following what it says in Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life:

While the pre-exercise snack is not unimportant, its value should be minimal. What I mean by that is, try to ensure that the previous workout was properly recovered from and that the body is so well fueled on an ongoing basis that what is consumed immediately before the workout is not a major factor, fuel-wise.
The body's first choice for fuel during intense exercise is simple carbohydrate.... It's best to ensure the body is provided with enough simple carbohydrate to fuel activity so that complex carbohydrate is not relied upon. If the body has to resort to burning complex carbohydrate while exercising at a high intensity, it will have to use extra energy to convert the complex carbohydrate into simple carbohydrate.
Also, protein is not what you want to have your body burning as fuel. Protein is for building muscle, not fueling it. When protein is consumed in place of carbohydrate immediately before exercise, and therefore burned as fuel, it burns "dirty." meaning that toxins are created from its combustion. The production and elimination of toxins are a stress on the body and cause a stress response, ultimately leading to a decline in endurance.

That said, I pretty much stopped having pre-workout snacks. I don't feel like I need them. Pasta and juice for dinner or oatmeal and juice for breakfast sets me up beforehand, and then I drink OJ2O throughout. I still want to try coconut water, though.

Simple carbs and light protein immediately after workout

Also from Thrive:

To speed recovery, the body needs simple carbohydrate to enter the bloodstream—the quicker the better. This means that the post-exercise snack should contain very little fat (even the good kind) and no fiber since both slow the rate at which carbohydrate enters the bloodstream.... Up to one part of protein for every four parts of carbohydrate can be beneficial. This small amount of protein helps speed glycogen synthesis, the rate at which the muscles absorb the carbohydrate. However, a greater amount of protein, in excess of 4:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio, will slow recovery.

For this, I've been having a small glass of chocolate silk and a handful of almonds.

Complex carbs and light protein after workout

Unless I'm starving, I have my chocolate silk and go to bed. So then the meal after a weeknight workout is breakfast, which for summer is raisin bran with banana, sliced almonds, and silk.

Complex carbs and heavy protein between workouts

For lunch and afternoon snack I'm back to eating avocado toast and apple with peanut butter, neither of which is exactly heavy protein. Not real worried about that, I think I get enough protein. But if I were to have a big protein meal, it would be lunch or dinner on off workout nights. Is what I'm saying.

Truthfully, it's a little bit boring to eat like this; but it's easy, and you would be amazed how much time you can free up around food—

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Summer Fitness Plan

Break: Injury Resistance and Muscle Activation

So my summer fitness plan is basically my summer chart, and that pretty much tells you what I'm all about. There's my secret for how I find time to exercise: I gave up my other interests.

My summer is a summer break, too. WCR is on break through July. So it's been back to Monday Orbit derby skate and the rest is off-skates crosstraining. This is actually pretty similar to my home season schedule, plus now I bike everywhere. I could say that I suck at break, but it does actually feel like break to me. I haven't figured out why, yet.

Kru boot
MOD skate