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Occasional ramblings by an anesthesiologist/mother (and sometimes her husband).

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Today I recognize the passing of a relic from my past.

For Christmas, ES1's parents bought us a treadmill. I finally started using it regularly a few weeks ago. I needed a water bottle, so I grabbed my old trusty standby. Then gravity kicked in.

A short trip of 1 meter down, at an acceleration of 9.8 m/(s^2), means that, discounting air resistance, it took approximately half a second, with a terminal velocity of roughly 4 1/2 m/s or a little under 10 mph.

This was the result:

I was at first discouraged at how little it took to destroy it. It was then that I realized what this thing had been through.

I picked it up on a whim in 1993, at the Three Rivers Rowing Center in Pittsburgh. It was my first away race during my time rowing. It was the first of many. I got to thinking about what this bottle had been through.

This bottle has been from Toronto to Manassas. It's seen service in sub-zero temperatures as well as >90ยบ. It's been sloshed with ice water and blazing sun. From 1993 to 1997 it saw service 6 days a week. After that it was a bit more intermittent, but it still went through a lot.

I started rowing in 1992, in the summer between 7th & 8th grade. I rowed for the West Side Rowing Club club crew until high school. I spent all four years rowing for the Crusaders before going to college.

My first hellish year of college was spent at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. I tired of their crew very quickly. They didn't like me yelling at people to stop doing stupid and dangerous things -they found me "abrasive." I couldn't stand their cavalier attitude toward clear safety violations.

Case in point: One frigid morning, the coach's boat was frozen to the dock. The coach told the crew to go out and just run a few courses back and forth, but to stay within visual range. If they should happen to run into trouble in the cold water, there would be nothing that could be done to rescue them. If that pathetic excuse for a coach had tried half that crap at West Side, they would be trying to decide whether to simply fire her, or file charges for reckless endangerment. I'm still surprised that nobody was killed.

The Worcester area grated on me for many reasons. From the annoying regional habit of using "wicked" as an adverb, to what passed for "Buffalo Wings"*, to the fact that the social life of the university was monopolized by cliquey fraternities, I couldn't be rid of that area fast enough. I'm not saying the area has nothing to recommend itself. I'm only saying that the university did nothing to demonstrate it.

After returning to civilization, I spent a few semesters rowing for Canisius College. I couldn't do it for my entire college career. After spending most of my rowing career in teams that were competitive internationally, I couldn't focus on one struggling locally. It was, however, a fun crew. They were hard working, the coaches knew about training (as well as basic safety rules), and everybody got along.

I finally hung up my spandex in my junior year of college. I told myself that when I hit 27, the age at which one could row in the masters category, that I would return.

That happened last June 1st. I haven't returned yet. Part of me wants to go back. Another part of me, however, worries that I would simply be trying to recapture a time in my life that is gone.

The wall of my parents bedroom looked like this:

Right now, they're all sitting in a box. I haven't found room for them yet in my married life. That water bottle was the last relic from that time that I still used. I suppose it is fitting that it finally died. When we have more space, I will find some place to display my old medals. Right now, however, my life is about other things. It's about teaching. It's about honing my skills with a chef's knife instead of an oar. It's about the paint samples ES1 just handed me for the living room. It's about the kids we'll be having in a year and a half or so. And, yes, it's about waiting for the gorram Apple TV to finally come out. My past is my past. I may go back one day. That day, however, is a long way off.

*Point of fact: "Buffalo Wings" do not exist. If you are in Buffalo, they are not called "Buffalo Wings." They are either "wings," or, on formal occasions, "Chicken Wings." If you are outside of Buffalo, you don't know how to make them. Partial exceptions made for transplants, but even the stuff at Buffalo Wild Wings, while very tasty, aren't quite right.

Updated 8/16/07 to correct image links.

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