Saturday, June 30, 2007


A splendid address a really splendid address

At Wednesday morning's workout, we paid homage to Gertrude Stein. Coach Chris asked us to "repeat, repeat and repeat" the following set three times through:
3 x 100 free descend
2 x 50 k ez
2 x 100 fast
1 x 50 k fast

The speedy intervals were as pleasing as the last paragraphs of a recent read. In the final scene of Fair Warning, Amy Dickerson, Butler's smart and stylish protagonist, studies the cityscape before her:
I felt a tender thing now for the Seine, for the trees and the lamps and the quai and the zinc roofs across the river and the cathedral burning down the way and the lights beyond. They were waiting for me. I'd walk alone through a Paris night to the Ritz and I'd collect myself along the way. I slipped my clothes back on and I took my first step, and as I did, I glanced toward Venus.

I understood now the look in her upturned face. She was alone in the world, but she was still rapturous in love. Even in the dim light I could see the twinkle in her eyes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Life on the front line of learning

Sharing the stage with former Senator Bill Bradley, Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, spoke at the opening general session of the American Library Association Annual Conference in Washington D.C. this weekend. In his highly charged speech, Gregorian touched on topics ranging from the history and future of libraries to democracy, knowledge, community and change.

Born in Tabriz, Iran, Gregorian documented much of his life in The Road to Home: My Life and Times. In Chapter 12: A Rendezvous with the New York Public Library
of the fascinating memoir, the legendary philanthropist Mrs. Brooke Astor discloses the secret to youthful longevity:
Be an optimist, be curious, read every night, don't meet the same people all the time (sooner or later they become lazy, boring, and repeat themselves), don't be a cynic, don't envy or be jealous (these sentiments are corrosive and they diminish you), spend some time in solitude in order to reflect, meet different people, young people, travel, and, if you are rich, adhere to the Gospel of "the Joy of Giving."

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Pretty in pink

This morning, we had IM repeats for appetizers followed by a distance pull set for the main course:
6 x 125 IM (with a rolling 50 stroke)
1-2: 50 fly
3-4: 50 back
5-6: 50 breast

400 pull
6 x 75 free pace
200 pull
4 x 75 free medium
100 pull
2 x 75 free fast
Our lane made every interval, and we were breathing hard by the finish. The coach's shout out from the deck ("Good. I know you're working hard when your backs are all pink") made us all smile.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Di momento de gracia

Our head coach asked us to imagine the following open water scenario: "You're swimming along at a steady pace when all of a sudden, the currents turn unpredictably against you. And you have to make adjustments and pick up your turnover."
Saturday and Sunday's main sets focused on swimming in variable waters and involved lots of pulling. Both days provided intense upper body workouts.

Here is Saturday's main set:
100 free moderate swim
1 x 50 pull fast
100 free moderate swim
3 x 50 pull fast
100 free moderate swim
5 x 50 pull fast
100 free moderate swim
7 x 50 pull fast
100 free moderate swim
9 x 50 pull fast
100 free moderate swim

From Sunday morning...repeat the following six times:
150 pull moderate
3 x 50 pull descend

My reading, this weekend, was purposely light. After finishing Betsy Carter's sweet novel about a young woman who leaves the Bronx to join a school of mermaids in Florida's Gulf Coast, I picked up Gracie, a teenage sports story. My favorite part of the book is when the teen and her father are studying film clips of Pelé, the former Brazilian football player.
"Keep watching," Dad said to me. On the screen, Pelé was tracking a much bigger opponent. The player knocked him down, but Pelé sprang back up, stole the ball and scored.
"Pelé wasn't tall or fast, but he had it up here," Dad said, tapping his forehead. "And he had it in here," he pointed to his heart. "He made the impossible possible." He turned his attention back to the screen. "Look how he absorbs that guy's energy and turns it on him!"
Dad got up and began to pace as he watched Pelé in action. "In every game there's one moment when one player can change everything. Di momento de gracia."
Dad rewound the film and gestured for me to come beside him so we could look at it together. This time he ran the scene of Pelé taking the ball from the larger player in slow motion. "Right there, when that guy hesitates...that's the moment, when everything sets up perfect and then pauses. Pelé feels it [and scores].

Monday, June 04, 2007



The characters in James Salter's Last Night stand like carefully rendered Hopper figures--lonely men and women desperately searching for an authentic life. A man is chided for being "oblivious to the wreckage" of his first marriage. A wife finds herself competing for her husband's attention. And in the story "Bangkok," when two former lovers revisit their past, one tries to dismiss the "phantom skip" of his heart. Written with such an economy of words, Salter's spare and startling stories read like urgent messages from the front.

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