Sunday, December 31, 2006


Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

This week, I came to realize:

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Chlorine Queen

"You're not in the holiday spirit if you don't do a flipturn,"our head coach said smilingly. The turnout for this morning's Twelve Days of Christmas practice was formidable and the workout, fantastically varied. Included among the sets our true love asked for were:

For the final 1 x100 set, all of us (i.e. over 20 swimmers!) hopped into a single lane and whooped it up in a spirited, carnival-like celebration.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Are you nice?

I sped read through The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World With Kindness, a thoroughly inspiring and refreshing new book, while commuting to Yonkers for this Saturday's swim meet. Even Thaler and Koval's introduction made me smile:
Nice has an image problem. Nice gets no respect. To be labeled “nice” usually means the other person has little else positive to say about you. To be nice is to be considered Pollyanna and passive, wimpy, and Milquetoast. Let us be clear: Nice is not naive. Nice does not mean smiling blandly while others walk all over you. Nice does not mean being a doormat. In fact, we would argue that nice is the toughest four-letter word you’ll ever hear. It means moving forward with the clear-eyed confidence that comes from knowing that being very nice and placing other people’s needs on the same level as your own will get you everything you want.

Monday, December 04, 2006


Back to Basics

After spotting the full moon rise above Manhattan's canyons this morning, I should have been prepared for the unexpected. Coach Jim's practice was chock full of surprises. He started the workout with a set of sculling drills. The first in the series required us to lie on our backs in a feet-forward position and use only our hands to navigate the 25-meter pool.

He might has well have asked us (or rather, me) to paddle across the pool using a pair of plastic swizzle sticks. While the lane 2 and 3 swimmers were steadily cruising from point to point, I was going nowhere slapping and splashing water to and fro, fruitlessly attempting to make little whirlpools with my hands. Like the USS Intrepid, I felt stuck. In Baruch's equivalent of Dante's fifth circle of hell, I attempted to cross the Styx, barely inching my way to the backstroke flags.

David G. Thomas writes in the primer Swimming: Steps to Success,"Sculling is important because it is the first propulsive swimming movement you will learn. It is vital to those with very little buoyancy, because they would not be able be able to remain on the surface without it." Used by all swimmers at various times, he adds, sculling "greatly increases a swimmer's proficiency." After today's humbling exercise, I realize the need to focus on developing my basic skills if I truly want to make progress in this sport.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Hot and Heavy at the Holiday Party

Nearly 5,000 runners came out for the 5-mile race in Central Park this weekend. There were teams of spirited kids and folks donning elfin and reindeer costumes. Although I was feeling hot and heavy (Translation: overdressed and overweight) during the first three miles, once I hit Cat Hill, I was ceased by the holiday spirit and followed the conga line of runners trotting up the East Side.

This year's Independent and Small Press Book Fair gave me much food for thought. The PEN American-sponsored program on Literature of Color generated a rich dialogue about race, community, the publishing industry and writing. Panelist Monique Truong, author of The Book of Salt, shared a powerful anecdote involving a solicitation from The New York Times. (If you haven't had the pleasure of reading Truong's debut novel, you must. Poignant, witty and sumptuous, the book is a fictional memoir of a Vietnamese man serving as a cook for Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas).

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