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Archive for February, 2010

here’s what I think…

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

…about the new WTC rules regarding prize money–given to you only if you finish within 8% of the winner’s time:

I sure could use $1,900 right now.

For good measure, I am also shaking my fists…

to the people who say I shouldn’t get paid for swimming a 1:18 anyway…

…and here are a couple of middle fingers…

…for the people who actually think I am content to be a bad swimmer and not doing anything about it.

Other than that, I am really quite pleased with my 5th place this weekend. It was intended to be a solid training day (that I was hoping to get paid for) to prepare for Ironman China. Mission accomplished, great training day, my first top 5 result in the pro field at an M-dot race and a reminder of what it’s like to do an Ironman in hot & humid conditions. Race report and race photos to come soon.

Thanks for all your support!

my very first press conference :D

Friday, February 26th, 2010

How to become an international triathlon superstar, step #5: Sit on the appropriate side of the table at the pre-race press conference.

yes, we are very important and famous.

yes, we are very important and famous.

So here we are in Langkawi, it’s the night before the race and what better way to relax than a pre-race blog?

Today for the first time, I got to sit behind the table at the press conference with my cool teammates Hiro & Beck, along with some of our competitors like the defending champs Belinda G and Luke McKenzie.  Here’s how it looks like from the other side of the table:

I tried not to be too obvious taking photos of them taking photos of me ;)

I tried not to be too obvious taking photos of them taking photos of me ;)

I even got asked the first two questions… about doing the Asian Ironman “double” since I am doing Ironman China in two weeks.  And then about my other job, doing prosthetics!  Very cool.

Like Hiro said about the heat: it’s hot here in Malaysia, but actually not as hot as it’s been at training camp in Thailand. White Tiger is feeling smooth, the Wongstar is feeling pretty solid herself!  Looking forward to a really smart, hard day of training-slash-racing.

right outside our host hotel

right outside our host hotel

It’s also really nice to have the teamTBB flag flying out here.  The Bike Boutique is the official bike course sponsor!

White Tiger and his buddy Black Panther

White Tiger and his buddy Black Panther

I’m rooming with Beck at the Langkawi Seaview Hotel, which is the host hotel. Super convenient and right on the run course. The expo, registration, pre-race meetings and press conference were all here. Beck has named her P4 Black Panther and she is buddies with my White Tiger.  :)

Best of all, the kitchen downstairs let me throw Camelbak #2 in their freezer tonight so that I can have iced coffee during the second half of the marathon!

Time for a sleep, you can track us online tomorrow on ironman.com. The race starts at 7:30am Malaysian time for us professionals (it actually goes from 7:45am until 12:45am for the age groupers). That’s 3:30pm on Friday, California time for my family at home.  See ya on the internet ;)

Superstar Shochu Sponsor: Haamonii Smooth!

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

How to become an international triathlon superstar, step #4: land your very own “post-race hydration” sponsor.


I’m proud to announce that I’ve joined forces with Haamonii Smooth Shochu this year and will help market their beverage around the world, wherever I am training and racing! Shochu is an ancient Japanese distilled spirit like vodka but with much fewer calories. (The Koreans call it soju.) Haamonii is a mere 35 calories per 2-ounce shot (versus 120 calories for vodka), all natural, and extremely smooth.

We realized this had huge marketing potential for athletes, and well, actually anybody who is weight conscious… perhaps 99% of the population, no? Because Haamonii is so smooth, it’s not supposed to cause hangovers or headaches, so you are able to enjoy some Haamonii at night and still get your training in the next morning! Another health benefit is that shochu has been shown to activate enzymes that help dissolve blood clots–similar to red wine.

cheers to Haamonii mojitos!

cheers to Haamonii mojitos!

Haamonii means “harmony” in Japanese, and the company mottos are to “share harmony” and “pour for others and not self.” I really like this message and find it very in line with my own beliefs–after all, the Wongstar stands for world peace, love, and harmony! I got a chance to taste a Haamonii cocktail myself before approaching founder James Key Lim about sponsorship. It was really tasty and super smooth–I couldn’t actually taste the alcohol in it like with vodka cocktails. Potentially dangerous in a very good way! Haamonii has actually won 7 medals in various taste competitions, including an international gold medal from the Beverage Testing Institute.

The press release is on the Haamonii website: Haamonii Shochu Sponsors First and Only Asian-American Female Professional Ironman Triathlete.

I’ll be taking some Haamonii on the road with me, beginning with this weekend’s race in Langkawi, Malaysia!  This season, I will always have some bottles of shochu on hand to “share harmony” with my friends and fellow competitors at post-race after parties.

bib #31 looking forward to post-race libations!

bib #31 looking forward to post-race libations!

Before I left home for training camp in Thailand, I was able to share Haamonii with friends (and test the no-hangover claim) at a good-bye party. Being a clever minx who likes terribly bad puns, it was called the “Tie Good-Bye”…obviously because I was being sent off to “Tie-Land”. We all had to wear ties. ahahahahahaha.  And no, I really did not have a hangover :D

corset by clothing sponsor D&G (via the sister), tie by Target lil boys section

corset by clothing sponsor D&G (via the sister), tie by Target lil boys' section

Haamonii Shochu–coming soon to a post-race party near you!

To try it yourself, check out the Haamonii website and click on “where to buy” to see where you can get your own in the meantime.  Enjoy and remember to pour for others!

Chinese New Year in Singapore

Friday, February 19th, 2010
Happy Year of the Tiger!!

Happy Year of the Tiger!!

For the first time in my life, I got to celebrate Chinese New Year in Asia. Sure it’s a big deal at home as a Chinese-American, but nothing like in Singapore. I remember as a kid we would wake up CNY morning and there would be the red banners with gold Chinese characters hung about the house…we ate big feasts with the family and got hung bao’s (the red envelopes with money inside) and special candy. The house got cleaned up really nice right before Chinese New Year, but never on the first day or first week, otherwise all your good luck gets washed/swept/vacuumed away.

Some parents pulled their kids out of school during Chinese New Year, but my brand of superstar parents would NEVER let us miss school for any reason. It was perfect attendance or bust–ok there was that one year we had the big earthquake in 1989; that was the ONLY time I remember ever missing school, but I digress.

But in America, Chinese New Year never seemed to be a bigger deal than Christmas. It was kind of like Christmas but with Chinese food. Ok, more Chinese food, since we have Chinese food at Christmas too.

So I got to be in Singapore during the CNY madness. Lots of decorations everywhere!  Me and Beck got some photos by the temple next to the Bike Boutique on our first day:

this is the tiger with money

this is the tiger with money

and this is the tiger with...food.  hehe!

and this is the tiger with...food. hehe!

Then I went off to the Philippines and came back for the first day of the Year of the Tiger. My favorite Singaporean couple, Li Ying and Bernard, took me out for a CNY breakfast…

if all the Chinese joints were closed, we were gonna have Indian food for breakfast...

if all the Chinese joints were closed, we were gonna have Indian food for breakfast...

but no, I insisted we must have Chinese for Chinese New Year!

but no, I insisted we must have Chinese for Chinese New Year!

They were actually worried that there would be no place open on the first day of CNY. And it was true…nearly all businesses shut down for the first five days of the new year! I was told that people get Monday through Wednesday off work!

see, they have to advertise they are actually open

see, they have to advertise they are actually open

You are supposed to wear new clothes on Chinese New Year, so I wore the only new thing I had…a dress from when we to the beach in Thailand.

try not to stare at the sexy forehead tanlines from my swim cap!

try not to stare at the sexy forehead tanlines from my swim cap!

It was actually nearly impossible to hail a taxi cab the whole time we were in Singapore…that’s how crazy busy it was due to the holiday. Beck was actually convinced we were going to miss our flight back to training camp because we couldn’t get a cab to the airport!

Anyway, one of my more recent CNY traditions has been to check out what the new year’s horoscope forecasts.  There are Chinese 12 zodiac animals based on your birth year and I’m a Rooster.  You can look up your own on websites like www.tarot.com and www.chinesezodiachoroscope.com. The funny part for me now is that when there are predictions about my “work” and “career” and “boss”–well, that would be about triathlon and the Coach!

Here are some predictions for a Rooster girl like me:

“Work could be a source of strain for you during the Chinese Year of the Tiger. You may be forced to adapt to new procedures and schedules that don’t suit you. Unfortunately, your boss won’t be responsive to your complaints. If you keep harping about the new routine, you could find yourself on the unemployment line. In this economy, it’s best to keep your head down and your mouth shut.”

Translation: no complaining to Coach about the workouts or new swim technique ;)

“Work will be more demanding than usual, forcing you to assume new duties that may feel distasteful. …If you play your cards right, you’ll get both a raise and a promotion by the end of 2010.”

Translation: even more demanding training….but also…more prize money???!!! :D

“Love can flourish for Roosters in the Chinese Year of the Tiger. However, you need to cultivate a little tact if a new relationship is going to get off the ground. Compromise is essential in the Year of the Tiger. If you learn to keep your mouth shut whenever a love interest annoys you, a strong alliance will ensue. You’ll even start to think of your partner’s quirks as charming, rather than irritating. It’s just a matter of diverting your thoughts whenever they become critical.”

Keep my mouth shut whenever a love interest annoys me? Sh*t, no wonder I’m still single.

Happy Chinese New Year to everyone in the world!  :)

The Wongstar Adventure…in a hot air balloon

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

How to become an international triathlon superstar, step #3: realize a childhood dream over 20 years in the making.

I try not to brag too much about being the luckiest girl in the world, but sometimes I can’t help it.  Last week I realized that I am, indeed, living the dream!  Growing up in the late 80′s, my favorite childhood movie of all time was The Chipmunk Adventure.  I watched our ratty VHS copy of it with my siblings and cousins so many times that we had all the words and song lyrics memorized.  A year ago I actually found it on DVD and was ecstatic.  :D

In the movie, Alvin, Simon, and Theodore race against the Chippettes (Brittany, Eleanor, and Jeannette), going around the world in hot air balloons and stopping at various countries along the way.  My sister was always Brittany, the oldest bossy one, and I was Eleanor, the short fat one with pigtails.  (I am no longer the short fat one in real life though, bwahaha.)  I didn’t even get to start going around the world until these last two years that I’ve been traveling with the team and last weekend I got to fulfill the hot air balloon part of the childhood dream.

Ok, so you thought I was in the Philippines to present at a medical conference.  Nah, I was really there for the hot air balloons.  ;)  The PARM conference was held in Clark and for the first time coincided with the 15th Annual International Hot Air Balloon Festival.  (The theme of the PARM conference was actually “Soaring Hot, Flying High!”)

Well, being a speaker at this conference entitled me to an all-expenses paid trip to Clark along with tickets to the hot air balloon festival AND a ride in a hot air balloon!  Inconceivable!  PARM had their very own hot air balloon.  I brought one of my best friends, my Pinay sister Ria who lucky enough lives right in Clark, to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience.  We got there super early before dawn, to watch the big balloons getting set up at sunrise.

hello giant turtle balloon! and flying beer in the background!

This giant balloon looked just like the giant smile on my face the whole morning:

This would be our balloon!

Gotta get the camera ready…

Ready for adventure!

UP, UP, AND AWAY!!!

Wheeeee we have left the ground!

Spewer of hot air:

The giant sunshine smile:

Our shadow from the view of the balloon basket:

Of course the whole time, I had one of the Chipmunk Adventure songs stuck in my head…thank you YouTube…

YouTube Preview Image

And of course, no Wongstar adventure is complete without chatting up some hot men in flight suits…

The Wongstar is a total sucker for men who can fly.  For example, superheroes.

Living the dream, yes indeed!

introducing the elusive White Tiger

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Hello, my name is White Tiger and I am FIERCE.

Well my Facebook and Twitter have been abuzz with my latest new sidekick, code name “White Tiger.”  When are we going to see real photos of this elusive White Tiger? everyone’s been asking.  Perhaps he doesn’t really exist!

Indeed it is true that according to Chinese mythology (aka Wikipedia), “Legend had it that when a tiger reached 500 years old, its tail would turn white. In this way, the white tiger became a kind of mythological creature.  It was said that the white tiger would only appear when the emperor ruled with absolute virtue, or if there was peace throughout the world…”

One of the Wongstar’s virtues?  World peace, of course. (Coincidentally, the answer to all beauty pangeant questions.)  The White Tiger is also a Chinese constellation that represents the west and the autumn season. And hey, I’m from the west and was born in the autumn!  How about that.  In Imperial China, the tiger was the personification of war, and one of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals.

As of last Sunday it is now the Year of the Tiger (Happy Chinese New Year!), so very fitting that I’ve named the new warrior sidekick “White Tiger.”  (He’s got red racing stripes.) Yes, it still amazes me that I get a new bike every year.  After 2 seasons riding and racing two models of the P2C, I got the best Valentine’s Day/Chinese New Year gift EVER…a sparkly white 2010 Cervelo P3!!!

I was quite happy with my 2006 P2C (code name “Blue Steel”) and also my short-lived 2009 P2C (code name “Khan the Warrior Horse”). My first two Cervelos took my Ironman bike splits down from a 6:12 down to a 5:35, then a 5:09, then a personal best 5:00.  That’s right.  I can honestly say “Riding a Cervelo took over an hour off my Ironman bike split.” Not too shabby, P2C’s!!

Apparently team management decided that I was now worthy of an upgrade!  Well I apologize for the technical difficulties; my blog has been so awesome that it sort of, er…broke…and haven’t been able to post pictures.  And it’s against my religion to write a blog without pictures.  I think I’ve finally figured out how to get around it.  In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to build up a little suspense, now does it??

So despite the fact that I got him on Valentine’s Day, Coach has warned me already not to get too attached to this guy and that I shouldn’t think about him “that way.”  White Tiger is “just a tool” for me to use to become a better athlete.  This was because Coach was there when Khan died his untimely death on the way to that starting line in France, and I cried (well wouldn’t you?) so now he doesn’t want me getting too attached.  I think this is really just Coach’s way of delivering subliminal dating advice:  don’t get too attached to any boys, they are all just tools. HAHAHAHAHAHA

So this is why White Tiger shall be referred to as my faithful sidekick, and not my true love.

Fine, Coach, fine.

Thank you Cervelo and the Bike Boutique!!!  Special thanks to the TBB mechanics who helped assemble White Tiger just in time for V-day & Chinese New Year!  We’ve already gone on a few rides… the verdict?  The Dynamic Duo (Wongstar + White Tiger) are screaming fast and super aerodynamic!  I’m forecasting that the Year of the Tiger will see even faster bike splits.  :D

Valentine’s Special: the conclusion of dating shenanigans (for now)

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

or “all I ever needed to know about dating I learned from the Wongstar’s blog.” …NOT! ;)

As promised, whatever happened to the dating shenanigans? Well surely that was a fun experiment, but now I’m back at training camp and focused on the only boyfriend that counts…to be introduced to you very shortly… :D

So in the span of 19 days in January, I went on 7 actual dates with the 4 eligible bachelors who passed my rather vigorous online screening process. They came in a variety of flavors (Chinese, Cuban, and two varieties of vanilla–one being ex-Mormon/ex-vegan). Heights ranged from 5’11″ to 6’3″–believe it or not, my favorite one was the shortest. See! I’m not such a height snob. Dates varied from a $130 basketball game (2 X $65 tickets which I found an insane amount for the guy to spend on a first date, not that I complained) to a touristy stroll on the Golden Gate Bridge ($2 in quarters for the parking meter).

Fascinatingly enough, my screening process was so successful that 3 of the 4 guys had all founded and ran their own companies (at the strapping young ages of 26, 31, and 32). Apparently I seem to attract guys who are also ambitious and pursuing their dreams. However, I did let one slip through the cracks…the 36yo currently unemployed former professional triathlete. (Big mistake. I should’ve known better.)

As an upcoming international triathlon superstar on the dating circuit, one contemplates various questions as she gets to know these bachelors…

  1. When do I tell him I’m a pro triathlete?
  2. How many showers does it take to wash off the chlorine stink after marinating in the pool for 3-4 hours earlier that day?
  3. When do I tell him I live with my parents?
  4. When do I tell him I’m leaving the country?
  5. When do I tell him I actually live overseas at least 6 months of the year? (last year was 7…)

Let’s start with question #1…when do I tell him what my actual job is? Well some of you wonder why that might be a problem, and indeed it used to be my favorite pick-up line at bars when I first got my pro card. Then I soon realized that as intriguing as it is to say “hey baby, I’m a pro triathlete,” it also tends to scare boys off. Somehow it sends this message:

Or as one of my guy friends has told me “You might as well cut their balls off.” Yes, I am one intimidating girl. Just like Kung Fu Panda, guys are afraid they might go blind from overexposure to pure awesomeness.

During the screening process, there was one candidate who wanted to initiate an online chat. Unfortunately I realized too late that my GoogleTalk had been set ages ago with my blog URL as its status. After some hello’s and mostly silence on his side, he finally eeps out, ”I’m reading your blog right now…”  ”…damn you are intense…”  ”…I need to spend some time reading this.” After having access to the wealth of information on me, he refused to tell me much about himself (oh! that’s fair), and so…no first date. Must suck getting your balls cut off.

For the boys I actually met in person, I tried a few tactics. A couple of them I told before we met in person. (and they still wanted to go out with me? Score!) On one first date, I tried not to mention the pro thing…but then I felt deceptive and there were some awkward silences that needed to be filled. The last one I just told right away when he asked me in person…”So, what do you do?”

In the end, I realized it didn’t matter because, dammit, I am just so damn Google-able that you don’t even need to know what my name is to find me on the internet. Great for marketing yourself as a pro triathlete, not so great when trying to stay relatively anonymous when meeting new boys to date. There was the one bachelor who I later learned had Googled me 2 weeks before we actually met. Before he even knew my name. Apparently if you search for “5’9″ triathlete pacifica california” and then hit “I’m Feeling Lucky”, you go straight to my profile on theWongstar.com. (Remember the dating sites have you list your height and current city.) Thank you Google Analytics…I’m still not sure if I should be creeped out or flattered.

I actually asked one of the guys I got to know if he had ever Googled me, obviously it’s a problem.  He said one of the sweetest things… ”No, why would I Google you? Then we would have nothing to talk about.” THANK YOU!! Yes, I realize I have quite the online presence, but I would prefer new boys not to have preconceived notions when they barely know me. Believe it or not, the Wongstar online persona is only a part of who I really am.

Question #2: How many showers? Well, that nice swim block in January had some overlap with this nice dating block. Indeed, it was always at least 2 showers and extra vigorous scrubbing to try to get the chlorine marinade off my skin on swim days/date nights. Girls should smell like flowers and peaches, not like nasty pool chemicals. Although I did have a guy friend (former college swimmer) tell me he kind of likes the swimming pool smell. Yeah well, too bad that’s probably more of the exception than the rule! :)

Question #3, living with the parents… Actually questions #3-4-5 didn’t seem to matter if it was obvious there would be no second date. In fact, I found it rather useful to mention when trying to escape a really bad date. For example, the unemployed ex-pro triathlete who made me buy my own hot chocolate, and then asked if I was ready to make out with him.  While we were still in Starbucks. Then asked how my libido was like when I was training so much. Then asked if I wanted to come up to his place to “watch a movie.” Good thing he knew I lived with the parentals, gosh look at the time, I had to get up *really* early to train. And at 45 minutes, that was the shortest date I’ve ever been on. There, done, BYE.

Otherwise, pro or not, there’s not too much shame being a 28yo Asian girl living with her parents in the San Francisco Bay Area. First of all, it’s super expensive living there. You save boatloads of money and it’s just smart (especially when you are only in the USA half the year). Secondly, in our culture it is completely acceptable to live at home until you get married. This is what I tell myself anyway. And if the guy understands the concept of making sacrifices in pursuit of “living the dream,” then that’s the kind of guy for me.

Only two made it past the first date. I learned that you can actually get a feel for a person through email before meeting them. Like the guy who kept mentioning kids and babies. (No first date.) Or if they’re kinda boring via email, they’re kinda boring in person. If they’re a bit too forward via email then you shouldn’t bother meeting them for a 45-minute non-date. Sometimes you meet people who are cute, and really nice, and you get along all right and try really hard to like them THAT WAY…but there’s just no chemistry. You can usually tell right away if you like them or not. If you’re not sure, well you probably don’t.

Then there was the one who actually made it to the third date. He was the only one that I told I was leaving, the others either found out via Google or didn’t really care. And then…I got on an airplane and left the country 24 hours later. C’est la vie. Dating is a little complicated with this pro triathlete lifestyle. (My FB relationship status should be permanently set on “it’s complicated”.) I try not to leave too many smashed-up broken hearts in my wake (including my own) but what’s a triathlon superstar to do? True love is out there for the Wongstar, and she holds out hope that she will find it someday. :)

(Hilarious comics are from Angry Little Girls by Lela Lee.  She also makes bags and shirts with the potty-mouthed little Asian girl.)

Happy Valentine’s Day, I hope you get some!!

Wongstar’s Tour de Southeast Asia

Thursday, February 11th, 2010
AKA where in the world is the Wongstar?
  • January 31: United States of America
  • February 1:  Hong Kong (airport) & Malaysia
  • February 2:  Thailand
  • February 10:  Singapore
  • February 11:  Philippines
  • February 13:  Singapore
  • February 14:  Thailand
Ok, I admit that other than the postcard with elephants (shortest blog EVER), I haven’t blogged much at all about training camp in Thailand.  The wifi was on the fritz and all this training blah blah blah excuses excuses, soon enough I was on another airplane to another country.

Me and Beck made a pit stop at the Bike Boutique headquarters in Singapore!

TBB Singapore!
TBB Singapore!
Home of all our favorite things…
  • Cervelo bikes!!!  (What I get another new one??!!)
cant wait for my new Cervelo :D

can't wait for my new Cervelo :D

  • Louis Garneau shoes & helmets!
like a kid in a candy store

like a kid in a candy store

  • ISM Adamo saddles!
the best thing in between my legs.

the best thing in between my legs.

  • Blue Seventy wetsuits & skinsuits!
to help even a Wongstar swim faster.

to help even a Wongstar swim faster.

  • Scody race kits and bike jerseys!
you too can look like a triathlon superstar ;)

you too can look like a triathlon superstar ;)

Here we are with the whole TBB Singapore crew:
Alex, our team manager, and the brilliant bike mechanics

Alex, our team manager, and the brilliant bike mechanics

oh boy, I can’t wait until we get our very own TBB at home in the USA!  Soon enough!!

I am actually in Clark, the Philippines right now as a guest speaker at the 20th Annual PARM conference–Philippine Academy of Rehabilitation Medicine.  My talk tomorrow is on “The Principles of Check Out and Alignment in Lower Extremity Prosthetics”.

Life isn’t always about swimming, biking, and running.  :)

Postcard from Thailand

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

stopover @ TBB KL!

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

On my way to Thailand, I had to overnight in Malaysia.  Kuala Lumpur, home of The Bike Boutique KL!

with Daniel & Emma of TBB KL

with Daniel & Emma of TBB KL

Our very own Emma graciously took me in, where I immediately got in a swim after 24 hrs of traveling.  I tried to ignore what time it was back home in San Francisco.  Then I got a tour of our TBB store!

oh hot pinkness!

oh hot pinkness!

I have been to the Singapore TBB and the kiosk in Subic.  But this one was the biggest yet!

2 stories of hot pinkness!

2 stories of hot pinkness!

It’s always very cool to check out the stores of our title sponsor.

hanging out with my virtual peeps until the real deal in Thailand

hanging out with my virtual peeps until the real deal in Thailand

Then back on the road to the next destination…

Didnt I just say everyones gearing up for Chinese New Year?

Didn't I just say everyone's gearing up for Chinese New Year?

My Chinese taxi driver told me that 26% of the Malaysian population is Chinese.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of the elevator buttons in Emma’s complex but there are no floors #4 and #14.  They’re called “3A” and “13A” because 4 is a very unlucky number in Chinese.  4 means death.  My brother’s birthday is actually the 4th day of the 4th month but he seems to be doing all right.  ;)

Apparently I also recruited another Wongstar fan during that cab ride.  Mr. Cab Driver wanted to know all my websites and wants to see me win Ironman China.  Ah yes, well so do I!  I told him he could “become a fan” on Facebook: www.facebook.com/WongstarFans.   :D

heres my entourage

here's my entourage

Well I’ve mastered traveling with just a bike box, carry-on, and small backpack.  Although I realized while unpacking yesterday that I packed 4 bikinis and 7 sports bras and forgot all my running shirts…  Then I checked the weather forecast and thought, maybe I don’t need shirts…?