Back to thinking mornings suck

As you might remember if you regularly follow my blog, I started running in the morning back in June. I actually was getting up earlier than my normal waking time, by about 45 minutes, so up at 5am, to go for a run.

And considering I have never been a morning person, I was pretty proud of myself for accomplishing that.

Well, guess what? That experiment has failed. “How?” you ask? “By the sun,” I reply.

Yes, the sun. In the longer days of June and July, I’d get up and there was enough predawn light in the bedroom that I could dress without turning on the light and waking my wife. Also, the predawn light acted as a motivator. “Oh, look, Sol is up already. The least I can do is get up as well.”

In other words, dawn was mere minutes away. The sky was turning pretty shades of red, orange, and purple. It was often beautiful.

I did not, however, get up when it was raining.

Why? Because it was dark and gloomy out. I believe I’ve mentioned I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Most people only suffer SAD during the long, overcast days of winter, when there isn’t enough sun.

For me, however, even just one cloudy day can set off my SAD. I’m very sensitive to a lack of sunlight, moreso than most.

Which will explain why as the days grow shorter and the sun rises later, I’ve been struggling the last few weeks to get up.

My alarm goes off, I get up to turn it off, and the darkness beckons me to reset the alarm for 45 minutes later and I get back I to bed. I don’t hit snooze, I actually change the time the alarm goes off.

As it’s gotten darker these last few days in the morning, I’ve just left my alarm set for 5:45 am.

And it will only become an insurmountable obstacle once November 5th gets here and we have to set our clocks back an hour.

Getting up at 4:45 am every morning during the winter will be difficult enough. No way could I set the time for 4 am to get up to run.

I loathe going back to Standard Time.

So, I’m sorry to disappoint all the morning runners, but I’ve returned to evening runs. It was fun while it lasted.

Ok, that’s a lie. Morning running was never fun. I was like an automaton set to autopilot. I ran at one slow, steady speed. Every part of me exceot my legs were still asleep.

I never increased my pace, except for a half-hearted sprint for the last block (60 to 100 yards?). And Inwas only able to increase my distance feom the 1 mile a day in June to about 1.75 miles.

I do not have any gumption in the morning. My brain is asleep, which means my motivation center is as well. I do not have the will needed to say, “Go faster!” even if it’s just to the next tree or to say “Keep going!” once I’ve reached my usual end point.

However, I can do that in the evening. I can force myself to go faster, to run farther.

So my experiment in morning running is over. It was a fail. I never improved as a runner and just barely maintained where I was.

In other words, mornings still suck and I’m glad to be rid of them.

Update rant on US Cellular

We’re still waiting for our rebate for having switched from Verizon to US Cellular. I had to go back to the brick and mortar store to air my displeasure. The rep was understanding, looked everything up, and said he could take care of it, that the previous rep had indeed screwed up. With luck, something I’m lacking, everything is straightened out.

Now we just have to continue to wait even longer for our promised debate and while we waited, I was holding off paying my bill hoping the rebate would come in.

It was due 8 days ago.

This morning, US Cellular cut off our service for lack of payment.

Let me say that again.

I was 8 days late and they cut off my service!

Before someone says, “You didn’t pay your bill and they shut you off and you’re surorised?” consider Verizon never cut off our service. Ever. And there were times where I was several weeks late. In fact, Verizon would accept a “promise to pay” future-dated payment, which sometimes put our lateness as far out as almost a month.

Still, they never shut us off.

In fact, no cellphone company we’ve been with has cut us off after only one week. Not Sprint. Not Cingular. Not AT&T (I think AT&T’s threshold was 15 days).

So I made a payment, with money I don’t have yet, hoping it takes until Friday to reach my bank so I don’t get an insufficient funds penalty.

To add insult to injury, US Cellular added a $25 per line activation fee to turn our service back on, which will appear on our next bill! (I thought their commercials claim they don’t have activation fees?)

I sure hope our rebate comes in before then.

I’m really regretting having made this switch to US Cellular. I’ll give them a few more months bedore I start shopping again.

Cellphone companies suck!

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Friday Rants

This Friday, I’m all ranty, and it all has to do with buyer’s remorse. But first:

A Friday Haiku

I cannot help it

Another weekend is here

That makes me happy

Rant 1 – Cellphone Buyouts

I’ve come to the conclusion that the biggest scam you could fall for is the “we’ll pay you up to $650 per line to leave your current cellphone company!”

We fell for it when we switched from Verizon to US Cellular.

The first problem you encounter is, you have to pay off your previous carrier first. In our case, that meant having to come up with over $1,200, which we didn’t really have.

Second, you need to prove you paid off the previous carrier, which means an itemized bill showing paid in full. It took me over six weeks before I finally could get our final Verizon bill. After several phone frustrating ohone calls, I eventually had to go to a corporate store to get it because I was locked out of my Verizon account almost immmediately.

Third, our new carrier has a waiting period, which no one mentioned. What are they waiting for? Who knows? But because we’re out that $1,200, we haven’t paid our US Cellular bill yet either.

Fourth, you have to turn in your old phones! No one told us that. We sold our phones so we’d have some spending money (for silly things, like food) while we waited for our rebate, because againz we’re in the hole $1,200. So now we’ve learned that because we didn’t turn in our phones, our possible rebate will be halved.

Fifth, we trusted the store reps to know what they were doing, but they didn’t. They didn’t tell us about turning in our phones, which we would have done on the spot if told, but additionally, the rep didn’t submit our claim properly. Only one phone, mine, was submitted and it looks like US Cellular, once that unspecified waiting period is over, is planning on giving me back a measly $40.

When all is said and done, the entire process cost us just under $2,000 and they think they’re going to call it square by giving me $40? Fuck you.

Rant 2 – Zagg screen protectors

The US Cellular rep talked us into buying Zagg Invisible Shield screen protectors for all our phones. (Well, mine is some other company, but same difference.) Each cost $50.

These aren’t the soft, flexible plastic screen protectors, these are some stiff product made from a hard glass-like substance.

My son managed to crack his the next day. My wife dropped her phone and the shield just popped off. Let me say that again: it just popped off! And mine has a crack in it as well.

They do come with free replacement warranties, but now I’m reading a ton of complaints about these Zagg shields.

So now I’m wondering if I should just take the $200 hit and chalk it up to experience because having to replace a poorly designed product every few weeks seems like an exercise in futility.

Don’t buy these hard glass protective shields. Find yourself the cheaper, flexible ones or go without one. Aren’t these new smartphones supposed to be made of near-indestructable Gorilla glass anyway?

Rant 3 – Fire and fury

The latest news is about a mentally unstable bully threatening to throw nukes around and a North Korean dictator who seems to know exactly which buttons to push.

TheRump has escalated tensions between the USA and North Korea by announcing we would respond to any missile attack with a fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen. (Either he’s never heard of Hiroshima and Nagasaki or he’s trying to outdo those events. Considering how ignorant he is about everything, I’d go with the former.)

When the entire world balked at his words, that he was not helping things and his rhetoric was inflamatory, TheRump replied, his fire and fury comments weren’t tough enough! That our military is “locked and loaded” and if North Korea “does something in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody’s seen before, what will happen to North Korea.”

In other words, TheRump can’t fucking wait to push The Button. He thinks this is a game. We’re all stuck in the middle of a standoff between two small-minded schoolyard bullies trying to see who has the bigger dick.

Nobody wins a nuclear battle. Russia and China, South Korea, Japan, they’ll all suffer from radiation fallout. And who isn’t concerned that dropping nukes on North Korea won’t cause a chain reaction? Russia will retaliate. China will retaliate. Missiles will fall like rain and the world will burn because we elected a moron.

You know, I warned you this would happen if the orange turd was elected. I wrote this the day before the election, and it looks like it could come true.

I’d ask if the trumpettes were having buyer’s remorse yet, but I get the feeling ya’ll are pumping your fists and whooping it up, believing you finally got a manly president who won’t take shit from all them pesky feriners.

Funny thing is, our Founding Fathers envisioned the Electoral College would protect us from electing an egomaniacal psychopath. Won’t they be surprised when we all turn up in Heaven with radiation burns.

“Well? How’s our great experiment in democracy doing?” Benjamin Franklin will ask.

“Sit down, Ben, have we got a story to tell you.”

Weekend

Didn’t want to leave you all depressed about our future, so here are The Dictators singing “Weekend.”

Have a good one.

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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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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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