Crater Lake Half Marathon: Race Report

OH HEY, BLOG, IT’S BEEN A WHILE.

I’m coming back from a long hiatus with a very happy report – this past weekend, I ran the Crater Lake Half Marathon down in Southern Oregon at Crater Lake National Park. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, let me go ahead and blow your minds:

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Yep. It is stunning. Completely breathtaking. This is an embarrassingly long race report for an amazing race, so I’ll get right to it:

Getting There:

Crater Lake is a good 5 hours south of where we currently live in Portland, so Dave and I decided to make a weekend trip out of it. I took that Friday off of work, and we set out around 9 am, grabbing some bagels from Bowery and loading up our collection of freshly made mix CDs. We passed through Eugene and University of Oregon, fueled up, and then headed down scenic Highway 58. We followed a lazily winding river for more of the drive, passing evergreens and bits of brush along the sides of the road. It’s been a dry summer in Oregon, and the fire hazard signs reflected that – Smokey the Bear appeared in the foliage every two miles, warning us that the fire danger for this area was “Orange – High”.

About 4 hours of driving and lot of CDs later, we finally turned into the North Entrance of Crater Lake National Park… and were immediately greeted with a sprawling dusty desert.

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See that peak the distance? What you’re looking at is just the edge of the caldera that holds the whole lake.

For those who don’t know the history of Crater Lake – I didn’t – and for those who are interested in history and volcanoes – I was – Crater Lake was created when the once 12,000 ft Mt. Mazama erupted in 5,677 BC. It continued with a series of small eruptions for the next approximately 200 years, before one massive explosion finally caused the entire mountain top to collapse in on itself and spread over a mile of ash, lava, and sediment in all directions around it. While old growth forests now surround most of the caldera, the Pumice Desert – that barren area in the north pictured above – still hasn’t completely recovered from the devastation after thousands of years.

Extremely impressed by our first glances, we got back in the car and kept driving another 10 minutes – straight uphill – before finally reaching the base of the caldera around 2 pm. This is what we saw:

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The water was completely clear, and the brightest blue I’ve ever seen. At just over 7,000 ft in elevation, the sky was pale and cloudless. It was complete nature porn – Dave, our outdoors aficionado, was on cloud nine.

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We drove a bit south on the Rim Drive, ending up at “The Watchman” overlook. Off to the side of the overlook was a short one mile trail up to what had once been a lookout post for fire rangers – the top of the lookout stood at over 8,000 feet, giving you a wide view of the lake and surrounding forest. So, of course, we had to climb it. Dave had been cracking jokes all afternoon about how “both the altitude and view took my breath away”, but that climb was the first time the altitude really hit us hard. We hike 5 miles together fairly routinely each weekend, but we were still huffing and puffing by the time we got to the top.

Watchman's Overlook

Admire my ponytail, hanging out on the side there.

After coming down from Watchman’s Tower, we continued our slow cruise around the rim, and finally made our way to the hotel, a bed and breakfast 45 minutes away in the town (and I use that term loosely) of Prospect.

I had tried to book us a hotel closer to the actual lake, but by the time I got around to making my bookings (in early June, a good two months before the event) every lodge close to the lake was full. I finally settled on a place called the Historic Prospect Hotel. It was a good 45 minutes from the lakeside proper, in a tiny town of 500 people, tops. We drove up the single street that makes up the town of Prospect, passing it’s 5 churches and single pizza shop, ready for a Redneck Wonderland. We were very pleasantly surprised.

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The Historic Prospect Hotel is adorable. Recently renovated, it was once a way-post for travelers coming up the Pacific Trail, hosting an impressive guest list. We stayed in the “Jack London” room, named after the famous author who once stayed there. Judging from the plaque on our neighbor’s door, Teddy Roosevelt had once stayed in the neighboring room. The room was full of Jack London books – “Call of the Wild”, “Grey Wind” – and had some very pink decor.

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I had brought my own tupperware container of Lazy Spaghetti a la Dave, fully prepared to carbo-load even if the hotel only offered gourmet salads and fruit platters. It was never opened – we had salad, garlic bread, and a big plate of lasagna that night, which Dave was kind enough to pick up the tab for. The hotel even offered to pack us a breakfast-to-go bag, as we had to leave at 5:30 am to make it to the starting line on time.

The morning of the race, three things became immediately apparent:

  1. That pink quilted bedspread, while goofy, made for a very cozy night.
  2. Crater Lake was going to be cold as hell, so I’d better pack a pullover.
  3. Our neighbors in the Teddy Roosevelt Room were total asholes.

#3 was the first to pop up, and pop up it did, at the very reasonable hour of 3:30 am, when someone next door decided that it was completely acceptable to slam their door each time they entered or exited the room. Slam it they did, with increasing gusto, until Dave and I both rolled over and yelled through the wall at them. Then they did it again ten minutes later anyway, because WHAT DO OTHER PEOPLE MATTER?

We had both slept as much as we were going to, so we got up, got dressed, and lumbered over to the common room to pick up our to-go breakfasts before heading over to the park. There we got our second surprise of the morning – Douchebags McGee has taken our breakfasts with them, leaving us only two yogurts. Fortunately, I had a contingency plan – English muffins and peanut butter in the car. Dave, never a peanut butter fan, got to eat both of our yogurts while swearing at everything and everyone.

We arrived at the starting line around 6:30 am, a good hour before the start of the race, and Dave took off toward the half marathon finish line before the roads closed at 7:00 am. I used the portajohns, stretched, chatted with a bunch of people, tried not to imagine how the high altitude – 7,600 ft compared to Portland’s relative sea level – would rip my lungs out of my chest and play bongos with them… and then we were off!

The Race:

I’ve publicly posted my race data here, but if you’re too lazy to click the link, here’s all you need to know in two charts:

The elevation change during the race was 1,532 ft. We started at 7,600 ft, went all the way down to just under 6,700 ft, and then climbed back up to 7,650 ft.  Oh, and that almost 1,000 ft climb? Happened during the last three miles of the race.

I actually felt surprisingly good for the majority of the race – I certainly trained harder and smarter for this race than I had for my first half marathon last year, going for longer runs more often and on a consistent basis. I ran strong during the first 7 miles, even chugging up the steep uphills, never once stopping to walk. The volunteers were great – I was allowed to fill my handheld bottle at each of the water stations, which were positioned roughly every twice miles for the thirsty runners. I had a full pack of strawberry ShotBlocs and a strawberry GU pack, and consumed all of it. I had some niggling pain in my right knee, ankle, and the underside of my foot at various points in the early miles, but straightened my stride, and they soon went away. An occasional side stitch came up my right side after water breaks, and a few long breaths in and out made it fade away. And really, when you have views like this, how can you not be motivated?

Then Mile 10 happened.

Midway through Mile 8 and 9, I could feel myself starting to get tired. The muscles in my legs had warmed and tightened to that point where running becomes less painful than walking, and I had to concentrate to keep my breathing steady. The altitude was starting to affect my breathing, and had made me thirsty as hell – I had gone through 3 handheld bottles’ worth of water at this point, hoping to fill up at the next water station. The winding course was also beginning to take it’s toll on my legs. The constant uphills and downhills were accompanied by a slowly twisting road, so my feet were rarely landing on a surface that wasn’t slightly uneven. A hot tightness was beginning to spread in my right ankle as a result.

But I was 2/3rd of the way through the race, and according to my Garmin, might actually PR if I managed to hold my current pace! This was not something I’d anticipated at all – I thought the course would chew me up and spit me back out, and here I was, in some pain but really doing okay! So when Mile 10 started on a nasty slow-climbing uphill, I took a short walk break, telling myself I’d start running again in 1 minute or when the hill crested, whichever came first.

The minute came first.

It took a conversation with a passing biker for me to realize what was coming – Joke’s on you, Keeley! There’s no downhill after this! The last three miles of the race were a slow uphill of 1,000 ft before leveling out at the finish line. The poor marathon runners had it even worse – they had to continue past the half marathon finish line and continue climbing to over 8,000 ft, and only then would they start heading back down. The biker and I started laughing – how much did it suck to be us right now? I slowed down for another walk break and she pedaled ahead of me.

I did end up running across the finish line at 2:30:53, according to the gun start – my Garmin watch feel asleep at Mile 11.67, much to my rage, and that time sounds like a good one to me. I finished in 97th place. Watermelon and water bottles and orange slices everywhere, oh my. Dave took me down the mountain for a victory burger and lemonade that tasted unbelievably good, and then took a very unflattering photo of me in the race t-shirt and medal:

Dat baggy shirt.

It was a really great experience overall, and if anyone’s looking to run a half marathon at altitude on a ridiculously painful course, I highly recommend it. I got a runner’s high from it that still hasn’t faded 4 days later. At the very least, check it out for some absolutely beautiful nature porn and the chance to take a auto-timed couples photo in front of some moutains:

(All photos on this race report are courtesy of Mr. David Rappoccio. You can check his stuff out here.)

Duathlon Diva

A few months ago, I posted a rough training plan for all of the races I wanted to run in the new year. Most of those races came from one racing organization, and most are ones that I’ve – quick, everyone act surprised – discarded. Which is fine: Sometimes it’s nice to list all of your options out and then narrow the field.

My revised racing schedule for the year looks a bit more like this:

Some of you might be wondering, “Why Keeley, what is that strange word in the middle of your bullet points? It looks almost like “triathlon”, but you’re too much of a giant pansy to ever do one of those!” How right you are, my dickish friends! That word you’re staring at, dumbfounded, is “duathlon”, and I had no idea it even existed until a few hours ago, when I opened a newsletter from my local running store and saw it hanging around in the middle of the page. Duathlons are “run-bike-run” or just “bike-run” events that is similar to more intense triathlons, but without the swimming. The one in particular that I’m looking at is 5k run – 12 mile bike – 5k run. I’ve found a good article on Runner’s World about training for a half marathon and a duathlon at the same time, and my friend Cathryn found a series of duathlon training plans that I plan to try and incorporate into my existing half marathon training. It’ll be excellent cross training, that’s for sure..

I’m actually pretty excited to try a race like this – triathlons have always been something that I wanted to do, but I’m not a very strong swimmer. I also just bought a new mountain bike earlier this month (more on that later), and while that isn’t exactly the perfect racing bike, it’s been feeling very light and aggressive under me every time I’ve sped through the city to work. The idea of running, then riding, then running again on jelly legs would be a unique challenge – certainly not one I’ve ever done before.

EDIT: I biked home from work today, and then decided to go for a run immediately after. Immediate long-term jelly legs. Looks like I might need a bit of practice. 😛

101 in 1001

My friend Shannon wrote a blog post some time ago, titled “101 in 1001”. The idea behind this has been shamelessly copy-pasted from his blog below (I encourage you to read Shannon’s list here: http://magsol.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/101-in-1001/ ).

The Challenge:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (i.e. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (i.e. represent some amount of work on your part).

Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past – frequently simple challenges such as New Year’s resolutions or a ‘Bucket List’. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organising and timing some tasks such as overseas trips, study semesters, or outdoor activities.

The thing that struck me about this idea is how much it encourages long-term planning, which is something that I haven’t historically been much good about doing, and something I’m making a concentrated effort to do. My New Years’ Resolutions have been fairly open-ended and specific for this year, and having a long task list that covers the span of a few years (and defines those tasks in a concrete, measurable way) is appealing. The list itself, I’m a little ashamed to say, isn’t actually full yet – I started writing it back on March 4th, and was having trouble thinking of a full 1001 things that I want to accomplish in three years. As of writing this, I’m now at 84 88 tasks. I’m hoping to adapt and keep adding notable things as I go.

So then! Below is my list of 101 tasks, to be completed before December 7, 2014. I’ll be 26 years old.

Blue = In Progress
Red = Temporarily Failed
Green = Completed

Fitness and Health:

1. Complete the Race for the Roses 5K on April 1st in under 30:00. (4/1/12 – finished in 30:40)
2. Complete the Crater Lake Half Marathon on August 11th, 2012 (registered)
3. Complete a half marathon in under 2:00:00.
4. Complete a full marathon in under 5:00:00.
5. Complete a 5k in under 25:00.
6. Run every day for at least two weeks [0/14]
7. Bike to work every day for at least two weeks [14/14] (March and April of 2012 – it was very wet)
8. Complete a one hour yoga routine every day for at least two weeks [0/14] During that time:
– Attend at least three free Prana yoga classes. [0/3]
– Attend at least one Shine Yoga classes. [0/1]
– Attend at least two $5 Wednesday Yoga NW classes. [0/2]
9. Complete a full weight training routine three times a week for four weeks. [0/4]
10. Be in bed by 9 pm and up at 5:30 am every weekday for two weeks. [0/10]
11. Do not use my computer after work every day for at least two weeks. (work emergencies are excepted) [0/14]
12. Experiment with four different types of foundation and eye shadow, to combat my oily skin. [0/4]
13. Have extremely toned abs, extremely toned arms and extremely toned calves at the same time. [0/2]
14. Invest in a good bike that could potentially do triathlons (also finance).
15. Complete a dualthon. (Blue Lake Duathlon June 9th) (I’ll be out of town for Blue Lake)
16. Complete a triathlon.
17. Learn to ice skate.

Creativity:

18. Play the keyboard for one hour every day for at least two weeks [0/14]
19. Learn four new songs on the keyboard, and perform them well in front of Dave/friends. [0/4]
20. Write 1,000 words every day for at least one month. [0/30]
21. Write one Facebook note a month for four months. [2/4]
22. Complete and submit for publication at least two short stories. (rough draft)
23. Complete a rough draft of O.E.N.M. (outline – fragmented sections)
24. Finish editing the first draft of O.E.N.M., and complete second draft. [0/2]
25. Send novel out to three friends and parents for critiques.
26. Publish O.E.N.M.
27. Begin and finish a Let’s Play.
28. Finish the animation and sound design for one short film. (boarded)
29. Finish the sound design and composition for one video game.
30. Buy either an eReader or an iPad.
31. Try six very different hairstyles, be they in color/cut/craft. Post photos for friends. [1/6]
32. Successfully complete NaNoWriMo and ScriptFrenzy.
33. Complete a 3 day novel: http://www.3daynovel.com/.

Career:

34. Attend GDC.
35. While at work, do not go on social networking/news aggregate sites every day for at least two weeks [0/14].
36. Join a mod team to do sound/programming for a game.
37. Learn FMOD and C++.
38. Redesign my website, resume and demo reel.
39. Do at least three independent projects for LogiStyle before September’s Whistler event. [1/3]
40. Finish the LogiStyle website, complete with new purchasing system. (4/16/12)
41. Finish the Beyond L3 video FAQ, Balaji’s speaker sizzle reel, and Tools videos. [1/3]
42. Use my iPhone effectively as a planner.
43. Create a semi-detailed 5 year plan for my continued education and career path, outside of this task list.
44. Apply to 3 graduate programs for the 2013 year.

Travel:

45. Visit Seattle, WA.
46. Visit Vancouver, BC.
47. Visit Yellowstone National Park.
48. Go to one new country that I have never been to.
49. Visit Mt. Hood and Mt. Saint Helen’s. [1/2]
50. Go backpacking twice [0/2]
51. Complete the Forest Park All Trails Challenge in 2012 – 80.97
52. Explore all of Southwest Portland with Dave by bike. (Mt. Tabor)
53. Explore all of the not-shitty parts of Northeast Portland with Dave by bike.
54. Go on one biking trip that requires driving to get there.
55. Visit Alex in Washington, DC
56. Visit Cathryn and Shannon in Pittsburgh
57. Visit Kansas. (4/5/12 – 4/9/12)
58. Visit one new city that I have never visited before (and is not included in the above list)

Finances:

59. Set up and maintain a retirement fund.
60. Invest in new stocks and mutual bonds; understand how and why each one works.
61. Do my own taxes. (4/1/12)
62. Plan a weekly food budget and meal plan, and stick to it for at least one month [2/30]
63. Pack my own lunch and make dinner every weekday for four weeks [0/20].
64. Start a Roth IRA (and talk to my dad about which IRA is best).
65. Plan a fund and budget to prepare for the possibility of going back to school. (grad school).
66. Take a business/stock market class, or otherwise invest time into understanding business.
67. Every day for two weeks, read Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, or another business journal and educate myself on current business and stock trends [0/14]
68. Invest in one thing outside my comfort zone that is still a practical and affordable decision (i.e., a good bike, a car, grad school)

Personal:

69. Try all of the beers each of the following breweries: Bridgeport, Deschutes, Rogue, Hair of the Dog, HOPworks, Lucky Lab, Widmer Bros. [3/7]
70. Read Asimov’s Foundation series.
71. Learn basic American Sign Language – enough to communicate.
72. Dress up for Halloween and attend a costume party.
73. Drink a green beer on Saint Patrick’s Day. March 17, 2012 with Alice and Dave at the Gypsy on 21st. It was a Coors – the beer at Lucky Lab was better. Didn’t care, victory.
74. Host a “Portland family” Thanksgiving with friends.
75. Get a tattoo.
76. Become good enough at pool that I can run a table at least once.
77. Attend ComicCon or DragonCon at least once.
78. Assemble a week’s worth of outfits, hairstyles, and creative makeup, and feel pretty each day [0/7]
79. Have another Lady Gaga driving or dancing jam session with Alice.
80. Attend a large market artist concert (Lady Gaga, etc).
81. Have a professional bra fitting.
82. Cook a multi-course meal from scratch, with appetizers, a main course, and a dessert.
83. Dress up to see a movie and get dinner.
84. Go to the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises.
85. Get a dog or cat. Probably a dog.
86. Beat Metroid Prime and the Mass Effect series.
87. Finish watching Battlestar Galactica. [3/4 seasons]
88.  Experiment with new food dishes every day for two weeks. [0/14]
89. Brew my own beer and be able to drink it without gagging.
90. Attend a Portland Winterhawks game with Dave. (3/25/12)

Rihanna Loves Survival Horror

So a quick sound post to fill my sound post quota – this blog is called “The Hear Canal”, after all, and it’s supposed to be about the study and production of sound.

It’s not uncommon for various sound effects to be traded around and reused in different productions, and if you listen, you’ll occasionally pick up on it. For the better part of last year, I followed a Let’s Play for a game called Deadly Premonition. For those of you unfamiliar with Let’s Play, it’s a recorded play-through by another person, usually with commentary, who plays the game so that you don’t have to. (If you have time, watch the whole Deadly Premonition LP in the archives. I recommend it.)

For those of you unfamiliar with Deadly Premonition, it’s a Japanese survival horror game for the Xbox, made by a game designer named Swery 65, who is extremely entertaining to follow on Twitter. The gameplay and technical sound design are atrocious, but the game has a serious clunky charm to it.  Here’s a quick excerpt for you – pay close attention to the strange discordant sound effect that accompanies the pause menu around 37 seconds in:

 

Got that sound? So skip ahead a few months to today – I was listening to Rihanna at work (yeah, judge away), and I noticed THIS sound effect right in the very opening of the video:

 

Only logical conclusion: Rihanna’s sound designer is an avid survival horror fan, and also a total rip-off artist. Calling you out, sound engineer. Calling you out.

SOPA and PIPA

So, if you use Google, Reddit, Slashdot, Wikipedia, the Cheezeburger sites, the Oatmeal, or even WordPress, you’ve probably picked up on a bill called SOPA. Or PIPA, for the Senate alternative. But what is SOPA, you might ask?

It’s an excellent question, and it’s been answered several times by people much wiser and more articulate than I am. So rather than rehash the basics over again, let me point you to a few excellent articles about the two bills and their implications:

SlashDot: What You Can Do About SOPA/PIPA

Electronic Frontier Foundation: SOPA

An Open Letter to the Chairman of the Judiciary, signed by such companies as Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and AOL

A fast breakdown of SOPA opposition points by Google

Forbes: What are SOPA and PIPA?

Video: Protect IP (PIPA) breaks the Internet

Take action against SOPA. Educate yourself with the above links, and then contact your Congressperson. Tell them that you vehemently oppose the passage of either SOPA or PIPA, and that you will stand by that opposition when it comes time to vote in the next election. Stop Internet censorship before it happens.

UPDATE: According to Politico, the blackout is causing lawmakers to pull support for the bill: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0112/71589.html

“You run like a girl” – 2012 Running Schedule

One of my new year’s resolutions this year was to keep up my running, and there’s no better running kick in the ass than an impending race. So, newly inspired and still feeling reasonably motivated (which I expect will last until mid-February, when I instead spend extra time in bed in the morning reading Google Currents), I’ve been scoping out races that I want to add to my running plan for 2012.

So far, my list of race potentials are as follows:

  • Adidas Shamrock Run – March 18, 2012. This 5k looks like a fun way to start the year. Optional 8k, which is a weird distance (4.56 miles, according to Google), but might also be a fun distance to try.
  • Hippie Chick Half/Quarter Marathon – May 12, 2012. A quarter marathon (6.55 miles, for those of you too lazy to do the math. You’re welcome.) would be a long run/race for half marathon training. Plus, you get sweet hippie swag, which needs to be accounted for.
  • Portland Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon – May 20, 2012. This was something I originally thought I might run with my mom – until my friend Cathryn kindly reminded me that a large group of runners got explosive diarrhea from the water served at the Las Vegas Half. Not being a fan of explosive diarrhea myself, this will probably be moved to the Pass List.
  • Helvetia Half and Widmer 10k – June 9th, 2012. This would be the 10k, not the half. Because hills.
  • Go Girl Trail Run – July 10, 2012. I think I’ve listed every Run With Paula event so far, but this one is on my short list. A 10k+ trail run through the area of Forest Park that Dave and I regularly hike through will be INTENSE. Because hills. Plus, this is a close but comfortable distance from my planned half marathon:
  • Crater Lake Half Marathon– August ??, 2012. This one’s a definite – I would kill to visit Crater Lake, and running this sexy sexy course is a bonus. Registration hasn’t yet opened for this event, and the website hasn’t even updated from the 2011 run, which I found strange.
    Until the guy at my local running store told me that the Rim Runs association is very hush-hush about this race – registration will open silently around mid-March, and will be limited to around 500 people for the half and the full combined. So I’ll have to keep checking the website and jump on this before the other 499 do.
  • Crawfish Crawl 5k – August 13, 2012. I thought this 5k looked nice, but wasn’t particularly interested in it, until I saw this line toward the bottom of the event information page:
    “The overall male and female winners will receive a free pair of Mizuno Shoes.”
    WHAT.
    So now it’s on the list, if for no other reason than a free pair of Mizunos that I’m unlikely to win would be just lovely.
  • Pints to Pasta 10k – September 9, 2012. This was the first race I ever ran in Portland last year, and I absolutely loved it and planned on doing it again. Unfortunately, the dates coincide with a business trip I’ll be taking to Vancouver. Oh well, no free beer and spaghetti for me this year.
  • Forest Park Half Marathon – October 9?, 2012. I love Forest Park. Love, love, love Forest Park. We hike in there pretty much every Saturday, I run on the trails. It is big and beautiful and so close to home. It’s also fucking hilly. The Go Girl Trail Run will take place in Forest Park, at a shorter distance, so we’ll see how that goes. If I can still breathe at the end of it, maybe I’ll tackle this guy.
  • Portland Half Marathon – October 7, 2012. Aw yiss.

Last year I ran the Portland Half Marathon in under 2 and a half hours, and was pretty delighted by the whole experience. I get e-newsletters from the Portland Marathon fairly regularly, and since the beginning of January, those friendly reminders have turned into a registration onslaught – “Half Marathon almost full, better sign up!” “Half Marathon price increasing on January 15th, better sign up!” “Half Marathon will murder your pets and family, better sign up!” Since that decision time is coming up soon, I may or may not pull the trigger on the Portland Half in time. But, there are a lot of other races to fill that void, and it might be nice to try one of them instead.

On that note – here’s a song I’ve been running to lately. Listen, laugh at my taste in music, and we’ll leave it at that:

A Paper Moon

Cut paper is my new, momentary obsession. I love the strange, ethereal dimensions that paper takes in a 3D world, and so looking at things like shadowbox art and stop motion paper stories just makes my toes curl with glee. A few good examples that I’ve found so far:

Shadows of the Damned

I’ve been exploring an new idea for a while now, one that involves creating cut paper pieces and animating them as a sort of shoebox diorama animation, where each “scene” of the story moves to a different, mostly stationary shoebox. The story itself is a bit long for an animation, and I myself am hardly an experienced animator, but it’s a fun side project to work on in the meantime.

Going hand in hand with the cut paper style is stop motion animation. While the video below is not in the cut paper style, it’s a little bit of great stop motion for you that has those same funky principles (as well as a pretty catchy song). This video was sent to me by my dad, of all people:

I love the craftsmanship that goes into animations and styles like this – the look and feel, the obvious effort. From a sound perspective, it allows your sound effects to become more cartoony or otherworldly, and gives you room for experimentation that realism doesn’t always allow. Just listen to the different effects in the two videos: they’re almost like a children’s television show. From a visual perspective, outside of being extremely cool looking, styles like this can allow for a wider range of expression within smaller parameters, especially on a tight budget. Kina Grannis is an independent artist, and while I don’t doubt she shelled out some hard cash for that video, I also bet it was much more affordable than Lady Gaga’s latest release was. And it fits the song so well.

One more for you to drool over while I go back to working, courtesy of my friend Alice:

My Look Forward into 2012

I’ve been seeing New Year’s Resolution and Reflection posts popping up across the Internet for sometime now. While January 7th may be a little late to be entering the resolution/reflection fray, it’s still better late than never, and after reading several rather good resolution posts, I think this is something that would be of some value for me.

I didn’t really set any specific resolutions for the past year, outside of running in the Portland Half Marathon – which I think I signed up for in late December of 2010, completely convinced that I would start training immediately and would continue a steady athletic increase in the 9 months before I actually had to run 13.1 miles. (I didn’t exactly, but that’s something to expand on below.) Part of me regrets not setting a written goal, because after reading several of the aforementioned posts, I’ve seen how handy those goals are when used as a barometer – a specific notch on your belt to measure where you came from, and where you hope that you’ll continue to go.

So this year, I’d like to make a few specific resolutions, and set them in writing – a written goal is much harder to skirt/dodge/forget/compromise on/swear off than one that’s only bouncing around in your head. Before doing that, though, let me rattle off a few notable events that I accomplished in 2011:

  • Put on my big girl pants and moved all the way across the country last January, from Cleveland, OH to Portland, OR.
  • Moved into my first big girl apartment in Portland, a studio on Glisan Street where I lived all by myself and could poop with the door open whenever I wanted to.
  • Got my second big girl job at LogiStyle, LLC, where I moved from an independent contractor to a full time employee.
  • Went on my first big girl business trip, to Williamsburg, VA. Coordinated an event for CEOs and Presidents there, and managed not to say anything too stupid or wet my pants in public.
  • Worked on my first film set outside of RIT, which was a learning experience, but also insanely fun.
  • Worked at my first radio job, at PAGATIM Productions, where I helped mix shows for about 7 months.
  • Saw my oldest friend, Steph, get married, and was the maid of honor at her wedding. Was a bridesmaid for my friend Mary, and an absentee guest for Jackie. Saw my first real garter toss and bridal party.
  • Started biking and hiking a lot in the surrounding areas – Forest Park, OHSU, and Council Crest.
  • Visited the Cayman Islands with my family.
  • Celebrated one year together with Mr. David Rappoccio. Ate Mother’s and drank lots of beer.
  • Became a beer snob – drank lots of beer all over the city with Dave. Bridgeport is my favorite brewery, and I guess I like IPAs now. Give me my hipster cred card.
  • Visited LA for the first time, where we visited our friends Rory and James, swam in the Pacific Ocean and hiked to the top of Griffith Park.
  • Moved into my first big girl co-habituated apartment with my boyfriend, Dave. That big girl apartment is still very harmonious, homey, and surprisingly clean. Can still poop with the door open whenever I want to.
  • Got into football – started watching the Giants play at the Cheerful Bullpen, which has now become our Sunday pastime and where we have achieved “regular” status.
  • Ran my first half marathon – the Portland Half Marathon, at a time of 2:23:57. Got two cute swag shirts and a medal, which makes me a champion automatically. Did not train nearly as hard as I should have for it, and quickly got my ass whooped for it.
  • Spent my first Thanksgiving away from family – Dave and I made our own turkey dinner and played Skyward Sword all day. I cooked squash bake, and the turkey we made in our gas oven wasn’t completely undercooked.
  • Kissed my first boy at midnight on New Year’s – also kissed my first boyfriend at midnight on New Year’s. May or may not be related.

When I look back on it in list format, it really was a great year – I had a lot of fairly big firsts, took a lot of very scary risks, and found my way out to 2012 still employed and not much worse for the wear. I already have a few big events coming up for 2012 – my second half-marathon (and possibly first full marathon), a LogiStyle cruise in February that was a reward for meeting a sales goal – and want to add even more to the list. So, now, here are a few set resolutions for myself going into 2012:

  • Write something everyday. Write something for a personal project at least three times a week. Don’t kick yourself if that writing is awful at first – the tool is rusty, and it’s going to take sometime to sharpen again. Deal with it, bitch, you let it rust in the first place.
  • Continue running at least three times a week, pushing it into four times a week. Remember, you run for pleasure – push yourself, but don’t get discouraged if you have a bad run, and don’t let it stop being fun.
  • Run the Crater Lake Half Marathon. Run the Forst Park OR Portland Half Marathon. Give yourself the time to choose which.
  • When you’re at work, focus on work. Take pride in your work, and take pride in your individual projects. Set deadlines for yourself and stick to those deadlines.
  • Adventure.
  • Speak your mind confidently and don’t worry about seeming strange or different or silly. It’s okay to be strange or different or silly, or all three. That makes an interesting person.
  • When people ask you to write them notes, you should probably not wait unti a month out to publish them.

Some of these are specific, others are general guidelines that I’d like to adhere to in the coming year. Some of them border on cliche, others straight up are cliche. But what I’d like to them to become is accurate – come this time in January 2013 (assuming we get that far), I want to be able to dig this list up and tell myself with all confidence that I fulfilled these goals, and hopefully move on to a higher level of personal growth.

He Also Gets Pedicures

Moi: “Hey, Dave?”

Dave: “Yeah?”

Moi: “Do you like Chris Cooley?”

Dave: “Well, he plays for the Redskins, so… no.”

Moi: “Do you want to hear something awesome about him that I just learned?”

Dave: “…No.”

Moi: “According to the new issue of Runner’s World, Chris Cooley runs to the Glee: Season One soundtrack.”

Dave: “…God damn it, Chris Cooley.”

Moi: “Quote: ‘It’s awesome. The first seasons has all these Journey songs.’ End quote.”

Mad respect, Chris Cooley. Mad respect.

Sound on The West Wing

I ride the streetcar to work almost every morning, usually far too early in the morning. The streetcar loops through the Alphabet District, where I live, down through the Peal District and into downtown Portland, where I work. There’s a lot of little shops along the way, but two in particular – a running clothes store and a Videorama – have been catching my eye for a while now. So, when Saturday rolled around, I dragged Dave on a shopping trip and ended up with new running tights and a rented copy of The West Wing: Season 3, which I am currently watching as I type this.

The first episode of Season 3 is called “Issac and Ishmael”, and it was written in the aftermath of the  September 11, 2001 attacks. Arabic politics aren’t really the subject this blog touches upon, interesting though they are, and I’d like to try and keep things on topic for as long as I can before the inevitable derail. So let’s instead talk about The West Wing and sound!

The West Wing is written by Aaron Sorkin, a man famous for his fast and witty dialogue. His dialogue is phenomenal, but as any woman who’s seen the Star Wars prequels knows, people sitting around and talking to each other does not good cinema make. So, in order to keep things dynamic, Sorkin and his directors make heavy use of a technique called “the walk and talk.”

The walk and talk, as described by Wikipedia, is “a distinctive storytelling-technique used in filmmaking and television production in which a number of characters have a conversation en route.” While a great technique to use in tandem with Sorkin’s witty dialogue, it can make a sound person’s life a living hell. While I can’t actually provide concrete details on The West Wing’s recording techniques – 15 minutes of Googling turned up almost nothing on the show’s production, which made me sigh into my cocoa – I can make a few educated guesses after listening to many, many episodes.

Let’s take this scene from “Issac and Ishmael”. It’s worth noting that this episode was shot and edited in about two weeks, and thus is less polished than regular season episodes:

My educated guess here: Normally, I’d say Josh and Donna both have lavalier mics on them – and in this case, Josh definitely does. Josh’s mic is probably hiding under his lapel –  you can hear his suit’s fabric rustle the lav’s cable when he moves, and his voice is slightly more muffled than Donna’s voice, particularly when he talks toward the whiteboard while writing his SAT question. Donna’s mic, I’m less sure about. Her sound is a bit clearer, and because she’s sitting down in a controlled environment,  an overhead boom would probably work fine. The children are the same – they don’t speak enough to warrant being hooked up, and they’re seated in a controlled environment. Boom the kiddies.

Now, in contrast, here’s a more polished and more chaotic scene from the next fourth season episode, “Game On”:

Now, there is a LOT more going on in this clip, but the sound is more polished. So let’s guess where the microphones are – in the beginning with Abby and President Bartlett, I think both Abby and the President are lavved up. The background noises of the audience clapping, phones ringing, and general “buzz” of people talking was almost definitely added in post-production, but the actual chaotic dialogue with the White House staffers as the President struggles to put on his new tie is probably live, boomed overhead as the operator walks behind the steadycam cameraman, or to the side of the group. During the actual debate, it would be cool if the mixers were using the actual microphones on the podium, but it’s hard to tell without getting a good look at them. Oh, and how about that loud ass slap, ladies and gentlemen? It’s like a cherry on top of the scene – I never thought I’d be breaking down the sound for a scene that features an ass slap, but I guess I am doing something with my life after all.

It says a lot about the audio technicians on a show when I can hear a surly soft-spoken Jew growl “Write me a speech that doesn’t make me think I’m sitting shiva” while a large marching band plays in the background. There’s a lot of technical prowess on this show, that makes the already meaty story even more impressive.

…Also, this has nothing to do with sound, but Margaret cracks my shit up.

"Do I need to explain the rules about making appointments again? Should I write them down?"