A Friday haiku

The week is over
It seemed so long and dreary
Let’s start the weekend!

June Mile-a-day challenge Day 23

I can’t believe I made it this far without waking up at least one morning and going, “Maybe I’ll sleep in and run later.” I’m actually proud of myself for getting this far.

Wednesday I added at 1° incline to the treadmill. The readout says that means I burned an addition 5 calories per run, if you believe in the accuracy of those things.

I did notice my cool down heartrate went up from 114 up to 124 after that first incline run. Today it was down to 119.

Something else I noticed which surprises me. I’m not feeling stiff or have any aches in my joints despite not taking any rest days.

Add in that I also walk an average of 20,000 steps each weekday, so my leg muscles, ankle, knee, and hip joints are always in use.

If you had asked me what would hapoen if I ran a mile a day for a month before I started this, I probably would have predicted some sort of overuse or stress injury. Shinsplints, for example, which had forced me to quit running almost 2t years ago.

But no, I feel pretty good. I’m contemplating keeping this up as a regular daily activity. Maybe I’ll even bump my distance up, gradually, and start July running 1-1/4 miles each day. That means I would have to get up 5 or 10 minutes earlier.

Hmm. We’ll have to think about that.

Music and running

When I first started treadmilling, I’d put on a record. A record. Yes. Some of us still call them that and for a very good reason: I still have a vinyl collection and a quality turntable — a classic, refurbished AR XA.

Anyway, when I was starting out, I could listen to one side of a vinyl record and my run would be over before the record was. Each side of a vinyl record usually has a pkaying time anywhere from 15 to 22 minutes.

Once my runs went longer, I switched to watching something on TV because otherwise you have to jump off the treadmill, lift the needle from the record, flip the record over, then tey to gently place the needle down despite shaking hands from an elevated heartrate. It just wasn’t worth it risking a scratch.

So television. I found coverage of Track and Field events were the best motivator, but unfortunately, they’re few and far between.

Since I’ve now been running just a mile each day, my treadmill time is less than 10 minutes, which means I can go back to enjoying one side of an album.

Yesterday, I put on Boston’s eponymous (I always wanted to use that word) first album and listened to side A. Today, I ran to Side B.

And I discovered something. Running to music makes the time seem to go by faster whereas watching an episode of television seems to make the run drag on and on.

I wonder why that is?

And commercials last forever!

Weigh-In Friday

I’ve managed to drop below the 200 pound wall again. I’m at 199.4 now. And my average fat went down -0.7% while my average muscle went up +0.5%.

Life’s Good = LG

We’ve been with US Cellular for almost two weeks now. So far, despite my problems with all my previous phones, my LG V20 is holding up nicely. By now, my other phones would have been starting to show signs of glitchyness trying all day to find a crappy Verizon Wireless signal here in my Faraday Cage we call a building.

But so far, the LG is working flawlessly. I always have a 4Glte signal (knock wood) and I can place phone calls from nearly anywhere inside the building. Even it’s battery lasts for most of the day. All my other phones needed to be recharged after just a few hours.

I’m not claiming the LG is the best smartphone out there, but on the US Cellular network in downtown Milwaukee, it is greater than any Verizon Wireless phone I’ve ever owned.

So glad I made that switch.

Gina update

I’ve been driving our 2013 Fiat 500 Lounge for about 2 months now. Usually, by this time with any newer car I’ve owned, the newness and novelty would have worn off. I’d become, if not jaded then bored with it.

Not this car. I’m still having a blast driving it around town. I actually look forward to driving to and from work.

I’ve read many a review on this little Fiat and the majority of them are, if not downright negative, at least less than praising. I can’t help but wonder if they’re talking about some other car. Or possibly, years of driving and reviewing dozens of cars has made those automotive journalists jaded or possibly they just don’t appreciate the fun someone can have driving a minicar; they only value cars that have peel-your-face-back acceleration along with a throaty growl.

I feel sorry for them. My Fiat still is bringing a smile to my face.

Welcome to the new dark ages

Anyone else beginning to feel triggered just seeing TheRump’s face or hearing his voice?

Anyone else feel that, “OK, things couldn’t possibly get any worse?” And then it does? How many more rights, how many more safety and environmental regulations can they dismantle?

How much more power can they give to the rich and corporations? How much further can they erode the middle class’s ability to make ends meet?

How many more lies will the American people swallow before they finally rise up and scream, “ENOUGH!”

Resist.! None of this is normal. We don’t have to accept it. The revolution must begin now

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

because this land was made for you and me, not the corporations, not the robber barons, not the elites, and definately not some ignorant, bigoted Orange Turd.

Woody Guthrie – This Land is Your Land

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Summer solstice

It’s June 21st, the summer solstice, also known as midsummer. 

As a child, June 21st meant summer vacation was well underway and there was still the rest of June, plus all of July and August before school started up again in September.

That was an eternity.

I have vivid memories of my childhood doing all these wonderful things with my friends, riding our bikes across town to play in the Menomonee River, going to the nearby park to play on the swings, teeter-totters, or play a game of hide-and-go-seek or sandot baseball, climb trees, or throw a frisbee. Going to summer camp or on family vacations to the Wisconsin Dells or down to visit relatives in Kansas. These events seemed to last forever, yet in reality, took place over a few short weeks during summer vacation.

Now, as an adult, I see June 21st as a signal that summer is in full swing. I regard Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer (compared to the meteorological start of summer). There are still three full months to come of decent warm weather, July, August, and September, in which to go to the beach, or enjoy one or more of the many festivals Milwaukee is known for. We just had Pride Fest, Polish Fest, and the Lakefront Festival of the Arts.

Yet to come is Summerfest, the world’s biggest musical festival, Germanfest, Italianfest, Mexicanfest, Africanfest, Wisconsin State Fair, Feast with the Beasts at the Milwaukee County Zoo, and Indian Summer, to name a few and not including every church festival that we have several of nearly every weekend throughout the summer.

Then, on the other hand, there’s the part of me that suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) and that part of me sees June 21st as the beginning of the end of the long days of Sun light. To quote Shakespeare from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “The true beginning of our end.”

Yesterday and today are the longest days of the year, giving off life sustaining and mood enhancing Vitamin D enriched Sun light.

After today, the days grown shorter, the lush greenery outside begins to fade, and before I know it, nature is hibernating again, the days are gloomy and cloud covered, and I’m in a funk struggling to keep alert and active.

But that’s months away. Let’s focus instead on how beautiful and alive the world is today, June 21st. The trees are spreading their branches, showing off their emerald glory. The sunshine is warm upon our upturned faces. The days are filled with the sounds of singing birds and the nights with chirping crickets.

It’s grilling season. Enjoy the smell of charcoal briquettes and the sound of sizzling meat as you enjoy a cold drink and celebrate the summer solstice.

It is midsummer, a major holiday in Finland, a time for family and friends. As the Finns say, “Go peaceful or go party.”

Today, is the best day of the year. All full of hope and beauty and life.

Get out and enjoy it.

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Freya’s Day

Welcome to another action-packed Friday blog! Let’s get started, shall we?

June Challenge Day 16

I’m still running a mile every day and still doing it in the morning. I know, right? Me, getting up early and running fifteen days in a row? Inconceivable!

I’m not sure what gains I’ve made. I do feel more erect when I walk, so it must be benefiting my core, which is good because I sit at a desk all day at work slouching.

And my legs feel more muscly, less flabby. And as I mentioned before, I feel more sure-footed carrying my elderly, 70-pound dalmatian upstairs at night.

Cardiovasularly, it’s hard to tell if I’m making strides (strides… Running… Ha!). If I push myself to a pace of over 6.7 mph, I tend to start gasping and I’m not sure if that’s helping or hurting my progress. 

I’ve always heard that you should be able to carry on a conversation. Well, that’s only going to happen if I jog at a slow pace, not run, and what’s the fun in that? Besides, I run solo; who am I going to talk to? The television?

Photographic Proof of Bigfoot?

I think I should have taken some semi-naked photos of myself before I started the June Challenge so I could compare and see if I’ve had any visible physical changes. I really regret not taking any “Before” pictures a year and a half ago so I could see how far I’ve come. (I imagine they would resemble a hairless version of the infamous Bigfoot picture.)

Oh. OK. Nevermind. Now that I see him, Bigfoot looks in better shape.

The photos would be helpful because now I look in the mirror and I don’t see much change, but considering I’ve dropped 30 pounds, there must be a change. Photographic evidence woukd have been nice to verify it.

The tape measure, after all, only shows minimal changes in size and that always depresses me. How is it possible that I’m now down to a 34 inch waist in my pants but the tape measure still shows it is 38 inches?!?

Weigh-In Friday

I’m down a pound from last week. I’m at 201.8. I’m still above my lowest weight of 198.6 from back on May 12th.

However, looking back, in the last month I’ve dropped -3.4% in average body fat and gained +2.3% muscle mass. 

So why can’t I lose the weight? Because I love junk food, that’s why. I love salty snacks, especially cheddar and sour cream potato chips. Don’t leave that bag near me or it is gone. Put a few in a bowl and I’ll be fine. Wait. It’s empty already. Just one more bowl.

And last night, I baked the Bigfoot-sized bag of frozen Jeno’s Pizza Rolls for dinner. Sorry, not sorry. Had a craving. Usually I’m good with portion control for dinner, but last night I went a little overboard stuffing those delicious little pizza-filled wonton-like things in my mouth. It was like the old Alka-Seltzer commercial:

https://youtu.be/VFKifpMtlNs

On Becoming an Auto Geek

I’ve never really been a car guy. By that, I mean, a guy who fusses around his cars, spending entire weekends in the garage massaging and oiling and pampering them.

Sure, I like cars. One day, I’d love to get a classic muscle car and attempt to restore it, except we haven’t the garage space for that and to me, a header is the thing at the top of a document.

The closest I came was my 1986 Dodge Daytona Turbo Z. I did change its oil. And I hand washed it. Applied polish. But to be honest, I never understood the process. 

Did you know that polishes and waxes are two totally different things? I didn’t. I learned washing from my dad, who also wasn’t a car guy. You got a bucket of hot, soapy water (dish soap, why spend money on car wash soap?). Then you’d dry it with old beach towels. Then lather on some Turtle Wax. Voila. Done.

And after the Daytona, I kind of lost interest in band washing, mostly for two reasons, 1) We were living in an apartment without access to an exterior hose, so automatic car washes became a habit, and 2) None of our cars really had a very impressive looking paint job.

And up until recently, my philosophy on car washes had devolved to, “If the rain can’t get it clean, it ain’t getting clean.”

That changed when I got the Fiat. Part of the reason I was attracted to it was the paint job, olive green metal flake that sparkles in the sun.

So I’ve been researching how to detail a car to preserve and protect that shine. I’ve spent hours on sites like Autogeek.net watching videos on car detailing.

Thursday, my order from Autogeek.net came. I can’t wait to take my new random orbital polisher and the detailing products to our Vibe and see if I can’t make her shine again. She’s got a bad case of neglected, oxidized paint. White? I thought she was supposed to be dirty dishwater grey?

Stay tuned.

Making Baseball Great Again

Did anyone watch the Congressional Baseball Game last night? It was very enjoyable, and not because the Democrats destroyed the Republicans 11 to 2. 

No, it was enjoyable because you could sense, despite the athletic competition they were in, that there was a sense of comraderie that probably hasn’t been evident in Congress for a long, long time. 

Sad that it took a shooting to make everyone realize that, despite our political beliefs, we’re all still human beings.

And who knows how long it will last.

The part of the game I found touching was (and I swear there was something in my eye), at the end when the Democrats received the trophy for winning, they called out the manager of the Republican’s team and gave it to him to put in the office of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana to keep until he recovered from his wounds.

That’s the spirit of cooperation and civility we should all be living every.single.day.

Currently Reading:

The Complete Guide to A Show Room Shine by Mike Phillips

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Free at last

My son cracked his cellphone screen. We paid insurance to Verizon for that sort of thing.

Turns out, Verizon farms the insurance out to someone else. Verizon used to send a new phone (ok, a refurbished one) out and you’d ship the broken one back.

Not any more. Now you have to go to this other vendor, and pay them a ransom, to get the phone fixed, or replaced. I don’t know what they do since I balked at how much I’d have to pay. What is the point of paying for insurance if it does you no good?

The point is, his broken screen, and my unsuccessful attempts to get Verizon to lower our bill, are just the straws that broke our back and why we left.

So we have a new carrier, and we all have new phones. I finally am free of that horrible piece of shit I owned, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. 

I’ve had nothing but loathing for that phone almost since day one. Ok, maybe after a few weeks. I’ve ranted enough about it here that I don’t need to repeat it.

My main bitch was its pisspoor reception. I admit, I work inside a Farraday Cage of a building. No phone I’ve owned since working here, had very good reception. I’ve gone through two Samsung Galaxies (the first gen and this S7), a Nokia Windows 8 phone, an iPhone, and a Motorolla Droid. 

All had bad reception in my building and in the mall, where there are several dead zones. 

But the S7 Edge was the worst of the bunch. Reception woes, even WiFi, continued to plague it even at my own home. I’d be next to my wife and her Samsung Galaxy S7 got great reception while mine wouldn’t get shit.

And this wasn’t just data reception, some days, maybe because of the weather (see radio wave propagation), I couldn’t send texts and phone calls would drop off.

The S7 Edge also sucked with bluetooth. It never ever did pair with my car and always had issues pairing with most other devices.

We had two options when my son’s phone broke. I could just get him a new phone with Verizon or we could all switch to a new carrier.

Since my reception problem at work seemed to effect every phone I owned, then the problem was either my building, in which case I was screwed no matter what I did, or it was my carrier and switching might help.

That was my impetus for switching to US Cellular. They claimed to have great coverage here.

So we switched. And I chose an LG V20. 

First cool thing is, they’ve done away with the trapezoid shaped mini USB cables that only fit one way to charge and eventually broke the connector from continual jamming the damned thing into the hole the wrong way. This new plug fits either way. My son chose the Samsung Galaxy S8 and it has the new plug as well. Good. That old plug sucked.

Second cool thing is, my V20 paired with my car’s Blue and Me! Whoohoo! Success! The car even recognized it as a V20. And this morning when i got in and started the car, it asked me if I wanted to upload my contact list! It knows me!

Third cool thing is I get 4G LTE signal in my building! Not 3G. Not 1x. Not no signal at all. Those were common with the S7 Edge. No. I get a real, honest to goodness signal.

And you know what else i found out? There are no dead zones in the mall!

All my phone woes were because Verizon Wireless sucked! Can you hear me now? Yes, goddammit! I finally can hear you now!

Honestly, I hate to judge something after only two days, but so far US Cellular and the LG V20 are amazeballs!
To steal a slogan: LG — Life’s Good.

(And if I irritated anyone with my split infinitives, it was on purpose.)

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Can you hear me now?

Cellphone carriers have you coming and going. Once one has you in its clutches, it takes more than a superhero to free you. It takes cash and a lot if it.

There once was a time, back in the good old days, when it was much easier to deal with cellphone companies, and leave them.

They sold you a two-year plan and gave you a phone. For free! If you wanted the top-of-the-line phone, then you’d pay a little up front, anywhere from a few dollars to $150 or so. Easy peasy. The phone was yours and you were theirs for two years.

Once the two year contract ended, you could either get a new FREE phone with another two year contract or you could bail for a carrier that had a better deal.

This kept carriers honest. They had to give out decent phones for FREE or give other incentives to lure in new customers and all was right with the world.

Then one of them got the idea that if they could sell the phones on the installment plan, they could keep customers locked in while making the customers think this was a better deal. “See? We dont have two year contracts any more, you can leave any time. Just pay off your phone.”

And that was the catch. Because the phones, which we once got for a mere $150, now cost in the neighborhood of $700 or $800 or more.

And if you have a family plan with four or more phones, guess what? That buyout can end up costing you quite a bit of cash out of pocket. Add up the remaining phone balances plus your final bill (which can be two months worth depending on when you leave), and you find you have to plunk down $1500 or so to leave them.

And that was their evil plan. Hold customers hostage.

Until smaller companies questioned, “How can we get customers away from the Big 3?” That’s when they came up with their buyout plans. “Come to us and we’ll buyout your contract!”

Which sounds great on paper, until you go and talk to them and find out they don’t pay you in cash, they pay you in credits. 

In other words, if you think you’ll borrow money earmarked for your mortgage payment that month to pay off your cellphone contract with the Evil Empire in the hope that your new friendly Rebel Alliance cellphone company was going to give you cash back to pay for your house, you’ve got another think coming.

Those Rebel Alliance credits are only good for buying Rebel Alliance stuff, like to pay for your new phones, thus reducing your monthly bill or to pay your bill off for several months, so you can be bill free for a while.

Neither of which are truly bad if you can afford the initial buyout of the Evil Empire. If you can’t, you’re shit out of luck.

However, if you do manage to scrap together the extortion fee to pay off the Evil Empire, then it is possible to move to a new, more affordable cellphone carrier.

Which is what we finally were able to do. After being held hostage by Verizon Wireless for over 10 years, having to pay $350 a month, we left them for US Cellular where we’re already saving over $100 a month, and once we get our buyout credits, that price will drop even more.

Can you hear me now?

Tomorrow’s blog will talk about how good it feels to be rid of my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

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TGIF

A few thoughts this TGIFriday…

Mile-a-Day Running Challenge

Day 9. If there are any changes or benefits happening to me, they are so subtle that I don’t notice them. Unless you count being stiffer than normal.

Although I have been finding that it seems like it is becoming easier to carry my 70-pound Dalmatian up the stairs to our bedroom at night. 

You see, he’s getting old, and already has one lame back leg, so he has trouble climbing stairs. And if I leave him downstairs, he just whines because he wants to be where my wife and I are.

Therefore, I carry the big galoot. The things we do for our pets. Amirite?

Speaking of Aerobics

I know. No one said anything about aerobics, but I needed a segue. 

I’m curious about the aerobic benefits of running just a mile a day. Last I heard, the advice was that to achieve good cardio fitness you needed 20 to 30 minutes of brisk aerobic activity a day at least 3 times a week. 

Maybe that has changed. I also remember for a while they said to exercise briskly at least 12 minutes to see any aerobic benefits. And more recently they were bandying about the idea that it was all cumulative. So if you ran 5 minutes in the morning, 7 minutes in the afternoon, then you’d only need to exercise 8 minutes in the evening to achieve your goal of 20 minutes total aerobic activity for the day. Sounds like horseshit to me spewed by lazy people.
I’m running a mile, briskly yes, but only for 9 minutes. Am I reaping any aerobic benefits or is it all anaerobic? Like, instead of working my heart and lungs, am I just working my butt? Which isn’t a bad thing if I get a nice butt out of it, I guess.

Ok, I just checked. The American Heart Association now recommends:

  • For Overall Cardiovascular Health — at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise 5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes OR at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity AND moderate- to high-intensity muscle strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits.
  • For Lowering Blood Pressure and Cholesterol — 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4 times per week.

Now you know. 

Weigh-in Friday

Now your think with running a mile every day I’d lost weight, right? Wrong. I gained again.

I’m up to  202.8 pounds, up 1.8 pounds from my last weigh-in. But I’m not down. Do you know why? Because it looks like my Average Fat percentage went down 3.4% while my Average Muscle Percentage went up 2.3%. 

In other words, while my weight may have increased, I still lost fat and gained muscle. And we all know muscle weighs more than fat, right?

Go me.

Zipper Ajar

Cars have warning pings if you have a door ajar or someone fails to fasten their seatbelt. My Fiat has a particularly annoying ping if someone fails to seatbelt up. 

It would be nice if pants had that feature as well. It would have alerted me twice this week.

Orange Turd rant/

This morning King Orange Turd tweeted, “…and WOW, Comey is such a leaker.” after James Comey, former FOB Director testified on the Hill. 

Really? We’re getting tweets that sound like a 5th Grader wrote them from the Leader of the most powerful nation on Earth? What next? Calling someone lame-o or rat fink? Maybe he’ll start saying things like, “so’s your old man!”

He is an embarrassment to not only the United States, but humanity, as well.

/endrant 

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June Challenge Day 7

Today is the seventh day of my June Mile-a-Day Running Challenge and you’ll be amazed at what I found out!

See? I can do clickbait with the best of ’em!

I’m surprised I made it this far. Usually I would have given up by now despite announcing publicly that I would do it. 

I’m particularly surprised because except for the first day, I’ve run all the days IN THE MORNING!

Yes, Friday was not a fluke. I’ve actually gotten up early, even on the weekend (hey, 7am is damned early on a weekend. My normal wakeup time is well after 9am). 

Am I becoming a morning person?

You tell me. This morning, after finishing my run and getting ready for the shower I noticed that I had my shirt on inside out and I was wearing a Brooks Adrenaline 17 on my left foot and a Hoka Clifton 3 on my right and I never even noticed.

Additionally, I have decided Friday was an aberration after all and not a trend. The getting to work and being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed was a one-time occurrence. The rest of the mornings I’ve struggled to stay awake for the first couple of hours at work, as well as falling asleep during the church service on Sunday.

To answer the question plainly, I am definately still not a morning person. 

Which isn’t to say I might not continue running in the morning, despite being in a near comatose state.

The pros of a morning run are:

  1. It gets done — I don’t have to worry about missing a run because of evening scheduling conflicts or because what I ate isn’t sitting right.
  2. I can fall quickly asleep at night and not suffer from insomnia or joint stiffness.

The cons of morning runs:

  1. I put on two different shoes. 
  2. If I want to run more than a mile, I would have to get up even earlier than I do now.

The pros of the evening run are, for one thing, it seems to drive away the stress of the day. I finish exhausted, but refreshed in a mental sort of way. Like a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I don’t get that from a morning run probably because I’m too groggy to be worried about any of the previous day’s stressors. 

I can also run longer in the evening. I don’t have to rush to get into the shower, make breakfast, and get ready for work. I can just run. 

And lastly, I seem to be able to push myself, motivate myself, easier in the evening. In the morning, so far, I seem lucky to make it through the mile at a decent pace without slowing down or even quiting, but I don’t have the motivation to really push myself. Evenings I am more motivated do intervals where I sprint for an extended period of time or to do faster long runs.

I’m debating if I should continue morning mike runs after the challenge, but also incorporate three more strenuous workouts in the evening per week.

I wonder if my body, at my age, can take that much running with little or no recovery time between runs?

Only one way to find out.

As far as any changes resulting from my mile-a-day challenge, I think it’s still too early to notice any trends. I’d like to say that my heart rate recovery after about two minutes into my cool down walk after the run has been improving, from about 124 to 118 or so, but I can’t. That’s because recovery heart rate wasn’t something I tracked prior to this challenge. My bad.

I also only weigh myself on Friday’s,  so I can’t report any changes there.

To be honest? I still feel the same and my mile time is still the same.

But I haven’t given up, so that’s a plus.

Run. Rest. Drink some coffee.

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