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February, 2021:

Answering the Phone Turned Into a Welfare Check from the Police

When my phone rings and I don’t recognize the number, I assume it’s most likely a spam call for a car warranty or someone wanting to buy my condo (which is not for sale). To entertain myself, I started answering the phone with:

House of Pain. How can we whip you?

Photo by phit2btyd from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I’ve been answering the call like this for over 20 years. It’s still funny, but a friend suggested I might want to change it up and answer my phone with:

It’s done. There’s blood everywhere.

I don’t remember which friend suggested this. I would give you credit if I did.

Making an Appointment to Cash in my Stimulus Card

Last month, like many people, I received a $600 stimulus payment from the government in the form of a debit card. I go to the public pool to swim multiple times a week, and I like to pay in cash, exact change, so I can get from the lobby to my lane swiftly. I regularly go to the bank to get $40 in singles. (There’s also a strip club down the block from my bank. I assume they think I’m a regular there.) When this debit card arrived, I decided I wanted all of it, in cash, in singles, so I wouldn’t have to worry about having exact change for the pool for two years.

I didn’t know if the bank had restrictions on how many of a certain bill you could take out at a time, based on the amount they kept on hand, so I called the bank. I went through their various menus trying to speak to a human, only to be told that they were all busy and to try again later. I tried again later – same result.

When calling didn’t work, I decided to make an appointment. That would give me the ability to tell them in advance why I was coming, so they could plan accordingly if need be. I didn’t want to show up and be told that I couldn’t get my entire $600 in singles. I made the appointment for Friday morning at 10 A.M.

Friday Morning – 9 A.M.

On Friday morning, I arrived at the office a little after 9 A.M. As I was setting up my laptop, my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number.

It’s done. There’s blood everywhere.

There was mostly silence on the other end. I think I could hear someone breathing. I figured it was a spam call, so I put my phone down on the desk without hanging up the call, and continued on with my morning. If they’re on a call with me, they can’t annoy someone else. I hung up the call a few minutes later when I wanted to use my phone for something else.

A little bit later, I ran the number that called me through the Google machine. It was my bank. Oopsie! I figured they were just calling to confirm my appointment.

Friday Morning – 10 A.M.

I arrived at my bank right at 10 A.M., rushing from the office to get there on time. This was the first time I had made an appointment with the bank and wasn’t sure what to expect. I was surprised that I had to wait for a bit before a bank associate was available to talk to me about why I was there. I mean, they knew I was coming.

The associate essentially said, “Oh, you’re the one who wanted the singles. You can get them from the teller.” I gave the teller my photo ID, swiped my government debit card, and walked out with $600 in singles. It was a straightforward process.

Friday Morning – 11 A.M.

After I left the bank, I went back to my office and was getting work done when my phone rang. This time it was from “Restricted.” I answered it:

Hello.

Yes, sometimes I answer my phone like a normal person. I couldn’t remember if one of my parents had a restricted number.

Photo by Tony Webster from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

It turns out it wasn’t a parental unit. It was a Phoenix Police Officer. They had been banging on the door of my condo doing a welfare check. I later learned they were so loud that my neighbor popped his head out and told them I was probably at work.

Apparently, the bank called the police to do a welfare check on me because of “something about blood.”

I explained to the officer how I answer the phone to unknown numbers and apologized that they were taken away from situations that warranted their attention to deal with me. I was very much alive and well in my office.

At 1938 East Osborn Road?

Ok, how did you know that?

We Googled you.

Here’s the weird part – the earlier number that called me was from the bank branch I went to less than an hour later. They saw me in the flesh, with no evidence of blood on me. They saw my ID. They had me on camera. There’s probably footage of me walking to and from, and in, my car, by myself.

Needless to say, I’ve gone back to “House of Pain. How can we whip you?”

Triathlon Training in the Winter

This photo is not of Phoenix, but it can get pretty cold here in the winter. Photo by NOAA Photo Library (Creative Commons License).

It’s 201 days until Ironman Mont Tremblant 2021, just over seven months until race day. There are very few valid excuses for not doing a workout, and “It’s cold” is not one of them. Suck it up, Buttercup. Triathlon training means training in the cold.

My triathlon coach, David Roher, has recommendations for when his athletes can switch from wearing shorts to tights. When I’m doing a long workout, I dress based on the temperature it’s expected to be at the end of the workout. Actually, I like feeling a bit cold when I start my workout. It helps me notice when my body warms up during the workout, and there is less risk of overheating.

Swimming in the Cold

I train at an outdoor pool. Thankfully, it’s heated. They say that the pool thermostat is set for 82 degrees. What’s not heated is the area outside the facility’s door where I wait for the place to open while standing in flip flops.

The most uncomfortable part of winter swimming is the few minutes after I’ve stripped off my sweats and I’m sitting on the edge on the pool putting on my swim cap and googles before getting into the water. That ground is cold against my butt.

A few weeks ago, the heater was on the fritz over the weekend, and when I arrived to swim on Monday morning, the water was only 72 degrees. That was chilly, but still nothing compared to how cold it’s likely going to be in Lake Tremblant on race. The race is expected to be “wetsuit legal” and “booties legal.”

Biking in the Cold

Cycling outside in the winter is when I notice the cold the most. When you ride, you generate your own wind, and then there is also a headwind for half my ride. I also prefer to ride at sunrise (the coldest part of the day), and get my workout done early in the day. The path where I ride has a lot of shadows, and so it takes a while for the ground and surrounding area to warm up.

Coach David’s recommendation is to wear tights if the temperature is below 50 degrees. I’ve been riding up to three hours at a time, and in the cold, that means cycling tights, a long-sleeve shirt, cycling gloves (with full fingers), and heavy socks. Unlike sneakers, the tops of cycling shoes are open. Before I switched to heavy socks, my toes got so cold on these early morning rides, sometimes I couldn’t feel them.  

Running in the Cold

Coach David’s recommendation is to wear shorts until the temperature drops below 40 degrees. I recently modified this rule to allow tights if the weather report says it feels like it’s below 40 degrees. (I live in the desert for a reason. I’m not a fan of being cold.)

Right now, my run workouts are less than five miles each, so even when it’s cold, I’m not outside for very long. It was a different story a few years ago when I was training for a marathon in January.

I have access to treadmills, but I don’t like running on them. It’s so boring. I call them they human hamster wheel. I much rather run outside, even when it’s cold, windy, or raining. The same is true when it’s hot and humid in the summer.