Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Thanksgiving

1/24/2013

And yet again, up the stairs…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:54 pm

Here we go again. Heading downtown for another evening of torture in the Aon Center stairwell.

It was raining today, so I had to take my car to work. And when I parked at the Metro station to go downtown, I saw a caterer’s car with a vanity license plate that said “GOT FOIE” I thought we couldn’t have that in California any more…

On the way downtown, I read as a tactic to avoid thinking about the fact that I was going there to climb stairs. I got the National Geographic app for my iPhone, so I was reading an article there about the Kyrgyz people who live in a little-known corner of Afghanistan, high up in the mountains. It was interesting, but at the same time, it read like if Monty Python were doing a sketch about the worst place in the world to live.

Much of it is above 14,000 feet. The wind is furious; crops are impossible to grow. The temperature can drop below freezing 340 days a year. Many Kyrgyz have never seen a tree.

Sounds wretched. But it gets worse.

I met one couple… who had 11 children. “Every year,” said Abdul, “one would die.” They died as infants, as toddlers, as little kids.

Even bits of everyday life sound wretched.

The basic unit of Kyrgyz currency is a sheep. A cell phone costs one sheep. A yak costs about 10 sheep. A high quality horse is 50. The going rate for a bride is 100. The wealthiest families own the ultimate Kyrgyz status symbol — a camel, the two-humped kind, called a Bactrian, that appears perpetually foul tempered.

And then for a final bit of wretchedness:

Er Ali Bai is the owner of the only chicken in Kyrgyz country. The chicken, a hen, has one leg. The other was lost to frostbite.

So with that as preparation, climbing 50+ flights of stairs didn’t sound so bad any more. I got to the building and got ready to head up the stairs.

This time, I managed to stick to my split times up to the six-minute mark at the 39th floor. But by eight, I was a few seconds behind. Still, I made it to the top in 9:04, which is right in the range of the other times I’ve done this building recently, and it consistent with my times from practice last year. So I can’t complain. At least I don’t have to try and figure out how to make change when buying things with sheep.

After a brief rest, I headed up a second time. My goal for the second time was just to do it non-stop. I didn’t much care how fast I did it. I just wanted to make it up to the top. It was grim, but I made it in 11:37, which is not bad for a second time.

There was a nice sunset going on when I got to the top of the building. I tried to take pictures of it, but the iPhone camera didn’t do a good job of capturing the low light. I did some looking, and I found that there are special camera apps for taking pictures at night, so I got one to try out next time.

And thus ended another session of mortification in the stairwell.

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