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Sat, Apr. 9th, 2011, 10:28 pm
Blowin' in the Wind

I really hate wind... a lot. I'd rather deal with rain, snow, sleet, scorching heat or anything besides wind. Wind completely ruins my day. It makes me cranky and I just want to stay home curled up in a little ball waiting for it to end. It's noisy and makes it hard for me to navigate and it makes my hair move. I hate it when my hair moves. It's the main reason I have short hair. There's less of it to flop around and annoy me. Don't even get me started on people touching my hair. Man, I hate that! AAAGH!!! Yeah, I have hair issues and I'm probably living in the wrong state considering OKC is one of the windiest places in the country. . Anyway, it's been hella-windy for at least 2 weeks straight. I'm sick of it and I'm starting to go a little nuts. Ok, nuttier. We're supposed to be getting 50mph gusts tomorrow. Bloody Hell! This is really interfering with my life. It completely sucks the fun out of bike riding and creates unsafe conditions on the river so that I can't row. We've had to cancel a couple of practices, including today and would have scratched another one if not for some awesomeness by the boathouse that I'll get to in a minute. To steal a word from one of my favorite Tweeters, Chad Ochocinco, I'm pisstified! I seriously need some relief from the wind.

Last Tuesday, we would have had to cancel rowing practice due to high winds but were saved by the most excellent people at the boathouse. Instead of scrapping practice, we got an hour to practice in the fancy new dynamic propulsion rowing tank at the new Devon Boathouse. This tank is the first of it's kind in the country and is new enough that until recently it was mainly being used only by the high performance athletes. Now they're letting regular schmoes in there, but it's rather pricey. So, I was shocked to show up at the boathouse and discover that the Vipers were getting to try it out.

Basically, this tank is a long shallow pool with a boat thingy mounted in the center. I don't really know what to call the boat thingy. It's not really a boat but it simulates one. I'm going with boat thingy until I learn if it has a technical term. It has 8 seats with seat slides and foot stretchers just like you'd find in a boat. You use oars in the tank and row just like in the water. It also has mirrors mounted by each seat so that each rower can watch themselves and see what they're doing wrong. Obviously, the mirrors are no help to me, but I can understand how that would be a very helpful training tool. Trust me. It is very frustrating to only have verbal descriptions of my mistakes to rely on. I'd love to see what I'm doing wrong. Rowing tanks are pretty common, but what makes this one different is that the boat thingy can move back and forth to give a more realistic feel. It is anchored by bungees or something and surges forward on every stroke just like being on a boat. It feels very close to rowing on the water. The biggest difference is that it doesn't lean left and right like a boat ( well, a poorly balanced boat which the Vipers frequently contend with). The water in the pool moves to simulate a boat's movement through water and the speed can be changed to match the experience level of the rowers. Basically, this tank is like one of those never ending pools but bigger and it has a boat thingy in it. I'm doubting the usefulness of this oh so technical description but the point is, it's high tech and really cool and I got to row in it. Woo!

After practice Tuesday, I hung around with Gary and Guyla for an event that the Masters rowers were doing. I'm planning to join the masters program soon so this was a chance for me to meet some of the rowers and coaches. Just so there's no confusion, masters is the rowing euphemism for old. You're either a junior or a master. Master does not mean good. I'll be starting with the novice masters to work on sculling and will progress from there. I'm excited and nervous about this. I'll be the only blind rower so I'm of course putting pressure on myself to not make blind people look bad. I know I can handle it. There's no reason I need to see to row and I'll do fine. I just don't want to screw up and have people think "oh yeah, blind people suck". This is all in my head of course and I'm being way too hard on myself. I do not represent all blind people and I can only represent myself. Still I don't personally want to look bad or have my shortcomings applied generally to all of my peeps. Everyone I have met at the boathouse is so accepting and supportive. I know I'm spazzing out about nothing. I'm sure I'll screw up, but I won't screw up more than anyone else who is learning to row. I've just always had this hang up about being judged by my blindness. It's weird and hard to explain and I know I really just need to get over myself. I'm working on it. At least I am aware of my irrational tendencies.

Anyway, back to this event...I I didn't exactly know what I was getting into, but it turned out to be a nifty tour of the Devon Boathouse. That place is slick. There's a huge weight room, tons of ergs and other workout equipment, an endless pool, a high altitude chamber and of course, the previously mentioned dynamic propulsion rowing tank. There are several kinds of ergs over there. There's one where the whole thing rocks side to side kind of like a poorly balanced boat. I assume it's supposed to help you learn balance. Gary wanted to see what would happen when I got on the crazy thing so I gave it a try. I wobbled quite a bit for the first minute or so but then I started to get it all under control. I figured it out pretty fast. I wasn't completely rock solid, but in less than 5 minutes, I was reasonably stable. I was somewhat surprised to pick it up so fast but for some reason, I have always had a somewhat freakish awareness of my center of gravity and have been able to do stuff like that. It was really interesting though. I was on that thing for less than 5 minutes but learned quite a bit about how my body position plays a role in balance. I could really feel my core getting a workout as well. I really need to get stronger there. At the end of the evening, I got to get in the tank again and the intermediate masters coach told me I did well so that was good for the confidence. I had a great time and really appreciate the time the Gary and Guyla took to do the tour with me.

OK, I'm done with rowing for now. In my last entry, I mentioned some weirdness at the Flogging Molly concert. The concert was at the Diamond Ballroom. This place has a craptastic parking lot that is so crater filled, that I'm pretty sure it's like walking on the moon but with more gravity of course. When we got there, there was a huge line of people waiting to get in. We started to make our way to the end of the line when a security guy called us over and took us to the front of the line because he saw my cane. Obviously, this was very nice of the dude, and I'm kind of a jerk to complain, but I always feel icky when people do that to me. Yeah, it's polite, but it also comes from the perception that the blind are somehow more fragile and less capable of waiting in a line than everyone else. I have no physical impairment that makes it more difficult for me to wait in a line than anyone else yet I frequently get ushered to the front of lines. It's just awkward. I hate lines so getting the blindy hook up is cool, but I feel awkward for accepting special treatment that I don't need. And I can't really argue with the guy and say "No, I'll wait in the line." He's just trying to be courteous and shrugging off his kindness like that would be rather rude in my opinion. It would just be ungrateful and unnecessarily bitchy. So instead, I just accept it and feel awkward.

Complicating things in this instance was the fact that I didn't have a ticket and the rest of my group did. I was supposed to meet my cousin outside and I was going to go in on the guest list due to some connections that her husband has at this venue. I actually would have been much happier to buy my ticket. I love Flogging Molly and will happily hand over my cash to them any chance I get, and it feels like stealing to get in free. But my cousin wanted to do this for me as a birthday present and a thank you for the kick ass baby shower I threw for her last summer, so I let her do it. Anyway, my cousin hadn't arrived yet when this thing with the security guard came up. I explained the situation to him and he said "well, you're on my guest list tonight". It was hilarious. Yeah, I was getting in free anyway, but it was still very nice of the guy. Again, I felt awkward, but it was still entertaining to get in free on the blindy hook up.

My other weird experience at the concert was an interaction with stupidity. During the concert, some drunk guy got up in my face and started waiving his hands in front of my eyes. Apparently, he wanted to assure himself that I really was blind. Of course, I had no idea what was going on. It was too loud and crowded for me to hear or feel him there. I had no clue anything was happening until my cousin bombarded him with a healthy dose of F bombs. She seriously ripped this guy. It was hilarious. He took off in a hurry with his tail between his legs. He tried to apologize and my cousin interrupted him and said "No! Just go!" I laughed my ass off when she told me what happened. People are so ignorant.

That's all I have for today. I'm trying to not freak out about the Red Sox. At least I have the Thunder in the playoffs to distract me from it for a little while. Hopefully the Sox will get it together but things aren't looking promising. The pitching really stinks. Thanks all for reading this crap. If I don't blow away in the next couple of days, I'll be back with more riveting tales. Toodles for now.