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Yesterday hotpantsgalore & I planted. Buying the veggie seedlings early & putting them in the grow tent was not a successful strategy - over half of them (both carrots, the cauliflower, one of the broccoli, cauliflower, pak choi, & spinach) died. We planted the two tomatoes, the two peppers, & the surviving broccoli in our raised bed. HPG bought a watermelon seedling & four strawberry seedlings, which also went in the box. HPG also bought a third tomato - a big Beefsteak. We planted it in a five-gallon container. I bought a "Pink Icing" blueberry bush, which also got planted in a container.

Last weekend (May 7th), HPG picked up the native plants I had pre-ordered from the Colorado Native Plant Society. She put them in the grow tent & they did great. We put them in the ground yesterday, in the planter box built along the western side of the house. Going left to right, I planted: Rocky Mountain Columbine, Small Erigeron, Monarda, Pearly Pussytoes, [some volunteer thingie with serrated dark green leaves], Golden Aster, [another volunteer, same as previous], Swampy Milkweed, [volunteer decorative grass], Desert 4 O'clock, & Western Yarrow.

Rocky Mountain Columbine Small Erigeron Monarda Pearly Pussytoes Golden Aster Swamp Milkweed Desert 4oClock Western Yarrow

Hopefully, the native plants won't require a lot of care or water. The western end of the house is only barely in range of the hose. Also, I think the plants I bought are a bunch of butterfly supporters.

Lawn notes: I hired a service to mow the lawn once a week. I think I'm paying $23/week, which totally seems worth it to me. Shadeaux has already learned to cower indoors on Wednesdays when the nasty loud machine comes around. The guy rakes all the clippings & puts them in my two compost bins. I have pretty much lost the war against the weeds in the lawn, so HPG bought some Roundup & did a bunch of "targeted strikes" on the dandelions & mallows. Shadeaux's dog door is locked closed & will be for at least 24 hours so she won't get another chance at being poisoned. Our dog walker will come get her for a couple of walks tomorrow during the work day.

Pond notes: I have now put 18 trapdoor snails in the pond for algae control. 12 of them only arrived yesterday, but so far they haven't made a dent in the underwater tropical jungle. Yesterday I also bought 4 tilapia fry - they are supposed to eat both algae & koi fry. One of them was instantly sucked into the pond's submersible pump & churned into chum, so that was money poorly spent. I can't see the other ones in the pond. Hopefully they haven't been chummed too.

Gardening notes: WTF, Colorado weather?

OK, we had an entire weekend of wet, nasty "wintry mix" - some sleet, some incompetent hail, some freezing rain, & some genuine snow that didn't manage to stick to the roads. In the larger sense, this is great because adding some more insurance to the snowpack both delays the onset of fire season & ensures healthy flows in the rivers all summer. But in the smaller sense - STOP FUCKING WITH MY PANSIES! Sheesh.

I hired a local contractor to aerate the lawn on Saturday (despite the conditions, he showed up). $30 for both the front & back lawns. Now the whole yard looks like it's covered in small-dog poops.

I think my compost pile had just enough warm weather to start cooking at some point this month. It has noticeably decreased in size & no snow/sleet/hail/whatevs accumulated on its lid this weekend (though it was accumulating on similar surfaces, like roofs).

Lots of garden projects for next Saturday.

Good Samaritan.

Today was messy.

For the second time in about two weeks, I was assailed with extremely horrible nausea, like food poisoning. I stopped for lunch on the way home around 1 PM & by 1:15 PM, I had to pull over & vomit violently all over the street in a lovely Denver neighborhood. After I had completely purged my stomach, I thought the worst was over, so I drove to a cell phone repair shop I had been heading to so I could make arrangements to have my phone repaired (New phone, broke the screen already. My life.). That took about 15 minutes, & as I was heading back to my truck, I got hit by another wave of nausea, much stronger. I was doubled over along the side of this shitty little strip mall near Mile High Stadium, retching uncontrollably, with tears & snot running down my face.

And this guy walks over to me from the nearby bus stop with two bottles of water. "Hey, are you OK?" I mumbled something. He cracked open one bottle of water & handed it to me, saying, "Little sips, remember to breathe." I sipped some water & promptly threw it back up. He patted my shoulder & said, "Let's wash your face off. I'll pour, you wash." He poured a very small stream of water onto my shaking hands & I feebly swiped at my face. "Wipe your nose, chica. There you go. Get your hair, there." After I was at least a little bit cleaner, he said, "Now - where are you going?"

I explained that my truck was parked right there & that I was going to try to drive home. He asked me if there was anyone there to take care of me & looked dubious when I said there wasn't (hotpantsgalore & weedweasel went skiing at Vail today). But he walked me back to my truck & said, "I hope you feel better soon." I thanked him, semi-conherently, & drove home. It was close - I threw up again in my front yard & then slept (passed out?) in the backyard for some amount of time. I have since eaten a little bit of soup & even that's not feeling so great. I also managed to shower. Right now, I'm sucking on crushed ice & cuddling with Shadeaux. Dog cuddles are helping as much as anything else.

There are good people in the world. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
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I'm a little concerned that I have had two MAJOR bouts of vomiting in two weeks. I have a couple of thoughts as to what might be causing it. My crew washed my truck today - inside & out - & the last time I got sick was the first day I had the truck, & I know they washed it before I got it. I wonder if something in their cleaning supplies is making me sick. Another possibility is the container of mixed nuts I bought & put in my office for snacking. I was munching on them this morning, & I think I've only broken into them one other day. But I'm not sure if that other day was the last time I got nauseated.

SQUID practice 12-2016.

This was a good workout - not that it was a lot of yardage, or that I was particularly fast. But I didn't really feel like doing it when I got in, & instead of jaking out of a lot of reps, I did the reps & really focused on making my stroke as efficient as possible. By the end of the workout, my freestyle felt really smooth & long. It was nice.

WARMUP = 500 yards

300 swim free (I did 50 free / 25 drill)
100 kick free
100 pull free

FIRST SET = 300 yards

6 x 50 1:00
odds: breathe every third stroke
evens: 25 finger drag drill / 25 catch-up drill

SECOND SET = 2,200 yards

8 x 150 free 2:30 middle 50 fast
200 kick middle 100 fast(ish)
8 x 25 free BREAKOUT! :40
8 x 75 free 1:20 middle 25 fast

WARMDOWN = 200 yards

Total workout = 3,200 yards in ~85 minutes.
I did 3,150 yards (I skipped a 50 in the 75s).
2016 cumulative distance = 31,075 yards (17.7 miles).

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SQUID practice 11-2016.

WARMUP = 400 yards

I did a mixture of free, free drill, & back.

FIRST SET = 400 yards

8 x 50 free 25 kick/25 drill ~1:10

MAIN SET = 2,350 yards

All 50s are free:
12 x 50 every 4th 50 hard 1:00
150 kick (I did back/breast by 25)
9 x 50 every 3rd 50 hard 1:05
150 stroke (I did back/breast by 25)
8 x 50 every 2nd 50 hard 1:10
150 choice (I did free)
6 x 50 from the blocks, all out

WARMDOWN = 100 yards easy

Total workout = 3,250 yards in ~70 minutes.
I did 3,200 yards (I skipped a 50 somewhere).
2016 cumulative distance = 27,925 yards (15.9 miles).

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SQUID practice 10-2016.

WARMUP = 1,100 yards

300 swim free 25 drill / 50 swim
6 x 50 free 25 drill / 25 swim 1:00
2 x 100 kick IM
4 x 75 free build

MAIN SET = 1,400 yards

2 times through:
2 x 75 IM (minus free) 1:40?
4 x 50 stroke IM order 1:10? 1:!5?
2 x 100 IM 2:00
4 x 25 stroke IM order :40
50 easy

WARMDOWN = about 175 yards

7 x 25 from center of pool, focus on turns,in order of turns in a 200 IM

Total workout = 2,675 yards in ~50 minutes (we had trouble getting the lane lines put in).
I did 2,625 yards.
2016 cumulative distance = 24,725 yards (14.0 miles).

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SQUID practice 9-2016.

WARMUP = 400 yards

200 mixture of free, free drill, & back
4 x 50 free 25 kick / 25 drill 1:00?

MAIN SET = 2,150 yards

3 x 300 free 70% (i.e., still warming up) 5:00
I should've done this on 5:30 - that would've been 1:40/100, with :30 rest.
3 x 50 kick easy
3 x 200 free 80% 3:30
2 x 50 kick
3 x 100 free 90% 2:00
2 x 50 kick
Coach cut us off after the 2nd 100.

SPRINT SET! = 200 yards
4 x 50 free 100% In on about :35-:38, 1:30

WARMDOWN = 100 yards easy

Total workout = 2,850 yards in ~70 minutes.
I did 2,400 yards. I skipped 3 50s - 2 in the 300s & 1 in the 200s. Then Coach cut off the last 300 yards of the main set. I had a hard time hitting a stride because I pushed too hard on the 300s. This would be a good
2016 cumulative distance = 22,100 yards (12.6 miles).

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SQUID practice 8-2016 (with a GREAT set).

WARMUP = 750 yards

300 free K/D/S by 25
4 x 50 kick IM order by 50
100 free drill - I did 25 royal wave / 25 closed-fist / 25 thigh brush / 25 piano brush
6 x 25 choice :35 - I did 2 x fly / back / breast
odds: build easy -> sprint
evens: diminish sprint -> easy

THE ONE AND ONLY SET = 2,600 yards

I am guessing at most of the intervals. This is a ladder set - we did the whole thing, then started right at the bottom & went back up. Yes, we did the last pair of 125s twice.

125 free 2:20
125 IM double up on your worst stroke 2:20 (down fly / up breast)
75 stroke 1:30 (down back / up breast)
75 free 1:10
175 free 3:00 (should've been more like a 3:15, needed more rest)
175 free 3:00
100 kick 2:00
100 kick 1:50
50 best stroke (down free / up back) 1:10
50 worst stroke (down fly / up breast) 1:10
125 free 2:20
125 IM double up on your best stroke 2:20 (down free / up back)

WARMDOWN = 200 yards

Total workout = 3,550 yards in ~80 minutes.
I did 3,200 yards. I skipped a 25 in each of the 125s in the middle of the set. And we didn't have time to do the last two 125s.
2016 cumulative distance = 19,700 yards (11.2 miles).

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SQUID practice 7-2016.

WARMUP = 700 yards

300 free 50 drill / 25 swim
2 x 100 flutter kick 25 stomach / 25 left side / 25 back / 25 right side
2 x 100 pull free (We didn't finish this. I think I did a 50 before we had to hold up.)

FIRST SET = 300 yards
4 x 75 free K/D/S by 25 :10 rest

SECOND SET = 1,350 yards
10 x 125 free middle 75 fast 2:20
100 easy free

We started doing the 125s on 2:00, which was damn near impossible. I would like to try that set on that interval again some time.

THIRD SET = 450 yards
6 x 75 25 free / 25 non-free fast / 25 free 1:30
I did 2 x IM order

WARMDOWN = 200 yards

Total workout = 3,000 yards in ~60 minutes.
I did all 2,800 yards (didn't get a chance to do the last 150 of warmup, skipped a 50 in the second set).
2016 cumulative distance = 16,500 yards (9.38 miles).

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23andMe.

My brother weedweasel got me a really cool Christmas present this year – a test kit from 23andMe, one of the DNA sequencing companies that will collect a sample of your saliva, then sequence your DNA. I got my results yesterday, & while I haven’t gone through all 62 of the reports in detail yet, there are already some fascinating things.

First off, an unsurprising result: I am 99.7% European. 23andMe broke it down further as 97.3% Northwestern European (60.4% British & Irish, 7.8% French & German, 3.7% Scandinavian, & 25.3% “broadly Northwestern European”), 1.5% “broadly Southern European”, and 0.9% “broadly European”. The remaining 0.3% is Native American, weakly supporting a long-held tradition in my mother’s family that we have one Native American ancestress (more on this later).

Second, my DNA appears to be four percent Neanderthal! This is a very high percentage, higher than 98% of 23andMe customers! I have 325 variants that are considered Neanderthal in origin (out of a possible 2,872). The highest number 23andMe has ever seen in one customer was 387! I have them from both parents (at 21 variant locations, both of my genes have the Neanderthal allele). The information on what these gene variants may mean to me was pretty limited in the 23andMe report, but strangely one of them is associated with LESS back hair (totally contrary to what I think of when I think of Neanderthals) and another, strangely, means I am less likely to sneeze after eating dark chocolate (??). Not that any Neanderthal ever would have encountered dark chocolate. Since so much of my ancestry is European and Europe is where Cro-Magnon humans and Neanderthals co-existed & interbred, it makes sense that I would have a relatively high genetic contribution from Neanderthal sources. Maybe that’s why I like the Paleo diet so much!

Other interesting discoveries:

  • I am part of the mitrochondrial/maternal haplogroup J1c2. I inherited this genetic marker from my mother, who inherited it from her mother, who inherited it from her mother, etc. This is a very interesting data point for me, because our family’s oral tradition states that my mother’s mother’s mother’s mother, Nancy Lee Burns, a Cherokee Indian. Since she is my matrilineal ancestress, I should carry her maternal haplogroup. But haplogroup J1c2 is associated with deep ancestry in Europe or the Mideast. Possibly Nancy Lee Burns had a non-Native mother and a Native father. This would allow for my 0.3% Native American ancestry to still be traced to her. As my great-great-grandmother, she likely contributed about 6.25% of my DNA (one-sixteenth). So if she was even half-Native American, I should have a much higher percentage of Native American DNA. Other thoughts on the J1c2 haplogroup: I’ve had trouble sussing out exactly what it’s supposed to tell me. But interestingly, King Richard III Plantagenet of England was a J1c2c (Wait, there’s an extra letter in there! What’s my J1c2 sub-type?). Perhaps I have some Norman ancestry on my mother’s side.
  • Lower caffeine tolerance. Two genes were identified by 23andMe as playing a role in a person’s sensitivity to caffeine. One is the CYP1A2 gene, which contains instructions for an enzyme that breaks down many substances, including caffeine. The T allele of the CYP1A2 gene is associated with higher reported rates of caffeine consumption. Perhaps this variant causes more of the CYP1A2 enzyme to be produced, thus clearing caffeine from the body more quickly? Anyway, I have the C allele, which is more common & is associated with typical levels of CYP1A2 enzyme production. 23andMe also tested for variants of the AHR gene, which contains instructions for a protein that helps turn on the production of the CYP1A2 enzyme. In this gene, the C allele may cause this protein to turn the CYP1A2 enzyme on more frequently, which would again clear caffeine from the body more quickly. And again, I have the T allele, associated with normal levels of the controlling protein. These two genes may partially explain why I was the Energy Creature in college, unable to come down off a caffeine buzz for hours at a time. Not enough CYP1A2 enzyme!
  • More fast-twitch muscle fibers. 23andMe tested for variants of the ACTN3 gene, which contains instructions for making alpha-actinin-3, a protein found in certain types of fast-twitch muscle fibers. People who make this protein tend to have a greater proportion of fast-twitch muscle than people who don't make the protein. I have the C allele, which is associated with typical levels of alpha-actinin-3 being produced. The T allele results in no function alpha-actinin-3 being produced and therefore fewer fast-twitch muscle fibers. This might explain why I’ve always been more competitive at sprints vs. long-distance swimming events. 100 IM for-evah!

Interesting omissions from the report:

  • 23andMe did test for genetic markers associated with the so-called finger length ratio. Generally, in women, the index finger is longer than the ring finger, while the reverse is true in men. However, lesbians are more likely than straight women to have longer ring fingers than index fingers. Developmental biologists discovered that digit length is influenced by levels of testosterone in the womb - but it's also partially controlled by some genes. 23andMe reported these genes, but didn't mention anything about the correlation to homosexuality.
  • The report included 36 reports on carrier status for genetic diseases. There were some big ones, including cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, & Tay-Sachs disease. But I was more struck by what they didn't report: media-famous genes like BRCA-1 & BRCA-2 (related to breast cancer), or any of the markers for Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease. Perhaps they are trying to avoid panicking their customers.

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