Friday, July 31, 2015

When Calibration Goes Bad….

Calibration_ for fine tuned scoring. Yesterday, we had to take a calibration set at the job.   In short form:  it is a test to keep your “scoring range” calibrated to the standard that you had after qualifying several months ago.   Basically it is to keep you fresh and confident to score the papers.   By now, they are a routine thing and it is fairly simple to get over 75% with your eyes closed.   The challenge now should be to get 100% on one so you have bragging rights over lunch! I think I have this....this time.

However….sometimes you have a bad day.  Like I did….yesterday.

Now.  To be fair,  I had high expectations for myself because I have been acing the last several sets of both training AND calibrations with about an 85% average. 100% is my ONLY standard   I had my eye set on that 100% mark  ( something I have achieved before during the first part of this project) because everyone else has been landing a perfect score lately.   I thought my time was due..

Our room leader must have thought that this was a simple test this time.  ( possibly because SHE scored 100% on it)  and decided to share her confidence with others as they picked up the test for the morning…..and here is the problem for me.

You know that guy who is fine when no one bothers or says anything to him?   However, when you give him the least bit of encouragement….he implodes?????well….That was me!  Call it test Anxiety..IMPLOSION!

It was a nightmare!  I second guessed every score I put on the test!  I’m not sure what lever was pulled in my brain, but the red lights and alarms were either shut off OR they were so loud that I began to panic! 

So…basically I scored ….Hmmm…let’s say, WELL below the average for myself.  And “slightly” below the minimum “passing” score.  

I wonder hat happens when I do this? Now I’m no newbie to failure.   If you read this blog often enough, you will note many hilarious moments where things did not go my way.  It is my method of Therapy after all….to laugh about the bad things and try to learn from then….AFTER I have calmed down for several hours.

It is difficult to express the feeling, because:   you are not “fired” when you bomb one of these things.   Nope!   They simply put you in a corner with a big white hat and ask that you “review” you anchor papers for a while to get back on track.   It’s fitting really,  I mean…..that is what calibration is all about.  Me Reviewing my Anchor Papers After reading thousands of essays, you tend to “drift” and you have to get back in line….like a precision tool or a sharp knife. 

The problem for me is that I felt as if I was a sharp knife that had been dropped in the garbage disposal while it was on!  Like I was back in Basic Training and failed the Grenade Test! Grenade!   Opps!   I survived, but was a little shell shocked. 

As mentioned before…I seem to enjoy Failure.    For pretty much only one reason….I get to “learn” something new.   What was the lesson?   Well:  Keep a stiff upper lip!  As the Brits say.  You see…I’m a table leader.   I’m “Supposed” to be the “leader” of my motley crew of scorers, so they can ask me advice and questions about toughstiff upper lip papers.   I’m their fearless leader,  Rock SOLID in my scoring!   Dependable, Reliable. 

 Don't Worry,  I BOMBED it before! But…..that is not really my brand of leadership.   I happen to know that even the most SUPERMAN of leaders is still human.   They are just better at “faking’ it in front of  their subordinates.   And I actually don’t mind showing off my flaws from time to time.   No one is perfect.   And it doesn’t take much to be better than me….so I try to keep things “real”. 

So,  There it is.  I lead by example and prove that the “worst case scenario” does not kill you…..physically anyway.  Whenever my table has a “less than desirable calibration”,  I can reassure them that they’ll be fine and just review….”Heck I bombed one before!”   I can imagine that if anyone from the project is reading this, they will probably be horrified that I’m actually “in charge” of anything.  But for the sake of Comedy and entertainment,  I write so I can find the humor in the tragic…..and I can “learn”  something……I guess. BBQ Chicken

Other than that,  the project is wrapping up…probably next week sometime and today they brought in Pizza and Cupcakes.   I was fond of the chicken BBQ and three Cheese Pizza.  Tomorrow is our 15 mile Training run in Prep for the Twin Cities Marathon.   Cheryl wants to get up early so we can harness the cooler air….and hopefully be done early enough to get fresh donuts from Dunkin’Donuts.    I cant wait!   Hope Everyone is having a great weekend so far.  Enjoy my little skit and hopefully you will at least have had a chuckle. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hummingbirds Galore!

Darting around the yardIt started with two males and one female. ( I think)  From below They drove off any “intruder” from the feeders and only allowed each other to take a sip from time to time.   But now….things are slightly more chaotic.


The feeders have been buzzing and “sharing” the flowers with up to three other birds.   They dart and fly around like a swarm of bees.

Finally I get him to stand still!



For the past several days now, I have been angling out on this side of the window trying to capture one or more of them up close.   I snap lots of burry pics…My favorite!  I call it: "landing gear!"



But every now and then, I get one that is blog worthy.

I can’t help that I find Hummers fascinating.   I guess the little kid never dies in some of us. 



Another one comes in


I would love to get one to land on my hand. I finally capture the wing instead of a blur I actually held a hummingbird ( a live one, that is.) once.   It was trapped in my parents kitchen and I caught and released it.   they are very small!    I have held moths that seemed larger! 




An extreme close up...too bad it is through the dirty windowJust thought I would post the pics time for dust off! before I turn in for the night.   Hope everyone is having a great weeks so far.   Enjoy!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Runner’s Excitement!

Meb leads the pack.   The Purple shirts are close behind!The Aftermath of the BIX 7 is still fresh on our minds and, even with the heat,  we both had a pretty good time.   We failed to find a newspaper to add to the memorabilia, but that is ok.   The Pack of 4 Purples!It was supposed to be similar to the Duluth paper with Cheryl's name and placement listed on page three….or something like that.   However, they do not ship the Quad-City Times to Iowa City.Meb still leading past the turn around.  

The picture DID have better pictures of the Elites, along with Meb.   I guess if you are riding on the back of a motorcycle 6 feet away, you have a better chance of focusing on the celebrities than I did.  Cheryl and I are still rather giddy that we were able to meet him. It is difficult to get an accurate read on people you only come into contact with for a few moments; but he seemed like a pretty gracious guy signing books and shirts for people.The Female Winner.  I think....

The day is Monday, but it seems like it is already Tuesday because we had to work yesterday afternoon.  And even thought I’m kind of tired, I thought I should blog today because of one major thing…we received our passports today! The US governments says we can LEAVE!

Passports!We sent these things back in June and finally have the finished booklet  approved and in our position.  Cheryl is very excited!   Mostly because this proves that we can achieve things we previously thought were impossible; but also because Cheryl has her eyes set on the Tokyo Marathon! Tokyo! YEAH

Actually the Tokyo Marathon is only one small part of the larger World Marathon Majors!  Marathons in several countries including Japan, Berlin, London, and the Big Three in the U.S.  ( Boston, Chicago, New York).  The Order will depend on the financial stability, luck with the lottery systems, and Cheryl’s eventual Marathon finishing times. Who cares the year?  As long as we can GO!  The Boston qualify time is 3 hours 45 minutes.   A Boston Qualifying Time  will guarantee her entry into the Chicago Marathon ( no lottery required) if she can pull it off.  

And all of those  overseas marathons  require a passport….Which  we now have…..One small piece of the larger puzzleworld-marathon-majors-cidade

So Hurray!  And I might have to cut this post short and catch up on some sleep.  I heard that quality sleep can help with your alertness and overall health.   In my current state… sounds like the simplest way I can maintain a healthy lifestyle.        

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Bix 7 Complete!

Must start at the Yellow Zone   What a day!   We have been awake since 4 A.M. this morning so we could find a parking spot and buy donuts and coffee before the race.  Parking was not as difficult as I had thought, although I was worried a little when the ramp from yesterday was blocked off.


This is where Cheryl has to say,"adios!"

With an hour to spare, Cheryl and I headed to the “Yellow Section”  that matched her bib tag….Simple enough.  All the directions warn you to arrive earlyNote the two "bouncers" to keep the "spec-tatters"  like me outside and make sure you enter your color zone at the proper entrance.   I was forced to bid Cheryl farewell at this point, since there were no spectators allowed. 

Ah,  the perfect spectator location So as Cheryl found her place in the start line,  I headed up the road to find a good vantage point to see if I could get any pics of the Elites and possibly Cheryl as she came out of the gate.   In typical fashion,  my “AWESOME” vantage point was quickly taken over by oblivious and (unknowingly rude) spectators.  The kind who dart in front of you as if you are not even there.  Ah well….what are you going to do?   I guess I’m  used to it by now. 

Ah,  ANOTHER spectator location...minus the rude people.... The temperature was hot and humid.   The announcers were warning folks to take it easy and be safe.  Last year they had 4 planes....What happened to the other two? They urged the participant to expect a 30-50 second addition to their “per-mile pace.”   I was not worried about Cheryl as we both agreed that this run was simply a celebrity watch and basically a freebee, since it is practically in our back yard.  Cheryl knows she does not have the same performance in the heat as she does in the cooler weather. 

Nothing says America like a biker gang! Nonetheless, the race seemed to take forever to start.   I guess they were waiting for the planes to line up with the songs and the cannon start.  Just a side note….stick to the national anthem…. PLEEEASE!  Not everyone loves country music….no matter how “patriotic” guns and pick-ups might seem.   Just sayin’.  The Wrong Music can KILL THE MOOD!

After the Planes, “Vietnam Vets” on Motorcycles, and  Lee Greenwood serenade….all that was missing was a HUGE HAMBURGER and a full sized pickup truck to kick off this run!   YEEEHAAAWWW!

Meb heads out to lead the pack. Finally!  The Music stops and gun goes off! The Elites tore out front since there was money on the line.   The Top  10 runners win cash prizes. ( I believe)  I was able to get some good shots of Meb as he ran by.   (Notice the 4 guys in Purple  in the back behind the lead pack….you will see them again. )   Meb took the lead around mile two I believe….and held it for several miles before being overtaken near the end.   Leading the “pack” is tough because I guess you have to plow through your own air instead of drafting behind someone.Note the 4 guys in Purple behind the pack.  

The next wave of people ( the ones with the orange tags on their bibs) came thought.   I was a little suspicious as to their placement….they did not look like “serious athletes” from my vantage point.  From what Cheryl witnessed, that was the case.   I’m not sure who or what they put on their entrance forms, but my guess is that “average pace” was exaggerated a bit.  The Orange group.....not elite, but suposedly not slow either. Cheryl was placed in the “yellow” zone and she ended up passing many of the “orange” folks.  They only reason I am complaining is because I was trying to find Cheryl in that cluster of human torsos…and that is never an easy task…since Cheryl is so short and dinky and cute…..but I digress.

  First sighting of Cheryl....can you see her?I ended up snapping random pictures of people as they passed by…hoping I would “accidentally” capture a fragment of Cheryl as she washed by in the tide.  AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT!!!!can you see her now?

I must have shot about 30 pictures of nameless faces….but, with a little help from Cheryl’s memory,  I was able to find her amidst the marching brigade of runners.  Can you see her?    Here is a close up:

 Jane Mansfield?  Or Marilyn Monroe There were also some other spectacles to enjoy as the people flowed by.   There was a  group of Marilyn Monroe/ Jane Mansfield look alike; 


The Three Elvis's; Elvis trio!


And the Dancing Human Vertebrae!  ( Put on by the School of Chiropractic) The dancing vertebrae  



Purple Elites sprint for the finish! The Elites finally returned charging down the Brady Street hill like sprinters.   ( Note the group of purple guys…again) Meb drops to 8th   Two were from Kenya and Two from Ethiopia.   I’m not sure which one was the winner, but it was a mad dash to the finish.   Meb Keflezighi eventually dropped back to 8th ( still in the top ten)  I’m sure the heat was a factor, just like it was for Cheryl.Cheryl on the way to the finish!

I found Cheryl at the train bridge coming in for the finish.   Once again, I was not allowed to join her at the after race party.   I guess there was a treasure trove of snacks.  It didn’t really matter to me since we were planning on Ice cream after the race anyway.She waves!   Only 1/8th of a mile to go.  

So, there you have it.   I guess the heat affected quite a few people this year compared to previous years.   Judging from the participants, and from stories I overheard, I can imagine why.  View from the skyway.   Several “groups” entered the race at the last minute with little or no training.   I’m not sure how much “partying” they had to do to think running 7 miles in the heat and humidity sounded good.  And perhaps I’m profiling too much…but you did not see ME out there running this morning….And there is a reason for that. I wish I had found this place ealier!

The results for the race are not up quite yet.  Cheryl is obsessing by her computer waiting for them to update the final tally. Cheryl looks forward to Icecream!   Her time is similar to her training runs but she wants to compare her results with everyone else's today.   The Heat has a way of leveling the playing field…even if you do NOT manage a personal best.   Everything is relative. 


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