In with the new

For runners, what is our most exciting day?

OK, besides pizza day.

Right! Buying more equipment!

Today I struck gold, so to speak. I bought two pairs of new running shoes.

I went in not sure what I wanted, not even sure I was going to buy one pair, much less two. In fact, I went in just sort of thinking everyday walking shoes. But as I walked down the rows of running shoes, picking some up that grabbed my attention, flexing them in my hands to see how much give they had, and oohing and ahhing over the colors, I came upon a pair that this particular shoe store had never had before.

They had Hoka One One. (Someone told me that’s pronounced ohnay ohnay.)

Now to be honest, I’ve read about Hoka One One and they were never on my radar. Seems runners either love them or hate them. Plus, I was thinking more along the lines of another minimalist style pair of running shoes similar to the Puma Mobium I have that I like. Certainly not the exact opposite: a pair of maximal shoes. C’mon! They’re like 1970s disco platform shoes. It would be like being on stilts, or I’d look like Herman Munster! Who wants that?

But, for shits and giggles, I thought I’d try on a pair. I put them on, tied them tight, then jogged up and down the aisles.

Oh my! (You have to say that like George Takei to get the right effect.) They felt wonderful. I admit, I’m a heavy lander and these made it feel like I was running on a cloud. So I picked up a pair.

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Hoka One One Clifton 3

Another pair of shoes that attracted my attention were a pair of Adidas Alphabounce Engineered Mesh running shoes. I liked the feel of the sole, it seemed soft and giving, almost like the Hoka’s, so I tried them on as well. I did like them and was about to buy them when I saw the newer Brooks GTS Adrenaline 17. I’ve had my 16s for almost a year now and because they served me well, I thought, “What the heck? I’ll try these on.”

Well, one thing led to another as they say and I ended up liking them more than the Adidas, so I ended up purchasing the Hokas and the Brooks.

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Brooks GTS Adrenaline 17

So I came home with two new pairs of running shoes.

Maybe I’ll review them later after I’ve actually run in them a few times.

Run. Buy new shoes. Run some more.

-30-

A Cautionary Tale

I wrote the first 400 words of this six years ago, but never could figure out what to do with it. Until now. Its a short story of a dysfunctional future. Enjoy.

The rains came, sizzling as it passed through the still burning radioactive atmosphere, creating more steam and more fog to cover the planet.

Ort stood in the mouth of the cave listening to the rains. It reminded him of the sound meat makes it’s cooked over an open fire. He made a gesture and his young son appeared next to him. Ort pointed out into the distance.

“Look, Hokins, how the falling rocks carved a new world last night. That cliff on the edge of Blu Mountain is gone, battered into a ragged pile of rock.”

“Why do the falling rocks come, father?”

“They come from Troompah, the Bringer of Fire, son.”

“Is he mad at us?”

“Mad? No. Troompah is mad at the Prahgs. That’s why he throws rocks at them.”

Ort’s son nodded. He knew that Prahgs were evil creatures that lived in the earth, were one with the earth; they protected the trees, rivers, and animals. Prahgs often attacked his people, the Ahltryts, especially preying upon unwary children. At least those are the tales his mother always told him. “Stay out of the crater fields or the Prahgs will get you.” “Don’t stay out past dark or the Prahgs will get you.”

“Think he’d learn better aim.”

“You watch your mouth, boy, or the Prahgs will get you!”

The boy stood slightly behind his father and mouthed the expression along with his father. He was sick of the Prahgs, sick and tired that they prevented him from having any fun.

“What are my two boys doing?” It was Hokins’ mother, calling from the back of the cave.

“We’re just watching the rains, hon,” Ort answered.

“Well, don’t stray from the mouth of the cave. You know the rain brings out the Prahgs. If you aren’t careful they’ll get you.”

The boy mouthed the words then found himself on the ground, his ear stinging.

“Don’t you ever mock your mother, boy!” Ort was furious and stood shaking in anger above the prone child.

Hokins picked himself up, holding back the tears, and ran to the back of the cave. “I hate the Prahgs. And I hate you, too!”

He passed his mother, who turned to give Ort a stern look. “You didn’t have to hit him, you know.”

“I’m sorry, Jyn,” Ort said.

“Don’t apologize to me.”

Ort stared into the darkness that was the back of the cave. He could hear Hokins sobbing. He should apologize; the boy was just being a boy.

“He’ll get over it,” he said, finally.

“Ort, you know he’s reaching that age where he needs ‘The Talk.’”

“I don’t want to give him ‘The Talk.’” Ort sighed. “It makes me uncomfortable.”

“Ort, if you don’t tell him, he’ll learn it from his friends. Is that what you want?”

“That’s fine. That’s where I learned it.”

Jyn made a wry smile and shook her head. “Exactly my point on why he needs ‘The Talk.’”

“Why don’t you give it to him then?”

“Now, Ort. You know it’s always been like this. Fathers give ‘The Talk’ to their sons; mothers give it to their daughters. Now just go and get it over with.”

“Fine.” Ort looked like he had eaten a glow frog from down by the killing waters.

Slowly he strode to the back of the cave.

“Hokins? Can I talk to you?”

“It’s a free country.”

“That’s what I want to talk to you about.”

“What?”

“Our past, as it’s been handed down father to son for generations beyond knowing.”

“Is it about how we got the sacred words?”

“Yes. It’s about how the sacred words came to be.”

Father and son both glanced at the cave wall where a faded blue sign rested in a carved-out depression to hold it. The sign showed signs of age, and an attempt to destroy it at one time; it’s edges were blackened and ragged.

They both came to attention, arms raised in a palm down salute, and recited, “Troompah Maikee Aimrisa Grehaht Agaheen.”

Then Ort began his story.

“There was a time, ages agone, when there was but one people, united in thought and deed. Those people achieved great things, created a glorious, shining kingdom. And the people were happy.

“But gradually there came the grumblings. Some of the people weren’t happy. They wanted more. They felt not everything was fair for all. And they felt many of the old ways were wrong, even hurtful to many people, and this started the divide. The Prahgs wanted change, wanted new ways of doing things, of thinking about things, while the Ahltryts believed the old ways worked best, that the changes proposed by the Prahgs would destroy the very way of life that had made the kingdom great.

“As the Prahgs grew in strength and number, they began to instill their ideas and the Ahltryts watched as the kingdom changed, becoming unrecognizable to them.

“And soon there grew intolerance. And hatred. And the Kingdom grew divided. The Ahltryts believed the Prahgs were weak when it came to outsiders, allowing these others to enter the kingdom at will.

“Soon, hostilities between the two came to a head. The violence between the two grew and soon the uprising began as many gods of the Ahltryts fought for dominance, for the chance to lead their people back to greatness. But one stood above the others. He embodied all the primal energy of the people. Within him raged all the suppressed hatred and anger his followers had been forced to suppress for so long. His name was…”

“Troompah?” his son interrupted excitedly.

Ort nodded. “Yes. When the dust cleared, our great God Troompah was triumphant, ready to lead the way, but first he had to defeat the champion of the Prahgs.

“While the Ahltryts gods fought, so too did the Prahgs champions. Kings and a Queen fought for dominance, but whereas the Ahltryts stood united and powerful, no longer hiding, joined as one behind Troompah, the Prahgs were very much divided and unhappy with their choice. Many chose not to fight, and because of their inaction, Troompah and his followers were triumphant. For how can a mere queen stand before the angry wrath of a god?

“And the Ahltryts celebrated and now it was their turn to send the Prahgs into hiding.

“But Troompah wasn’t satisfied with just sending his enemies into exile. He wanted to also destroy the outsides. He taught us that the outsiders were to be fears and they wanted to destroy our way of life.  And he launched an attack against them. But our outsiders had power as well, and launched a counterattack. The skies and waters were on fire. And the Kingdom burned.

“And that is why we and the Prahgs live as enemies. They could have joined us, but Troompah taught us their ways are evil, they are sinful while we live in his glory.

“And that is why Troompah still punishes them with his blazing rocks that he hurls from the sky.

“One day, we’ll again live in the glory of the kingdom. Maybe you or your children will see the dawning of that bright new day.”

Ort wiped a tear from his eye. “The Talk” always left parents emotionally drained.

“OK, you two, dinner time.”

The pair rushed from the back of the cave. Mother was carving the great bald fire bird.

“Uh, uh, uh,” Jyn said, wagging a finger. “You know what day it is. Put on the dye.”

Father and son exchanged glances and shrugged.

“Oh, for the love of . . . You just gave him ‘The Talk!’ It’s the Day of the Ascendency when Troompah won the kingdom.”

“Oh.”

Gyn shook her head, but wore a smile. She watched the two dip their fingers into the dye and apply it to their faces in preparation of the feast.

When they finished, all three turned their now orange faces toward the cubbyhole. All three saluted and spoke the sacred words.

“Troompah Maikee Aimrisa Grehaht Agaheen.”

Before sitting down to the feast, they took a moment to silently reflect upon the sign in the cubbyhole.

The fading blue sign with white words, written in a language they could no longer read or understand, stared mutely back:

Trump: Make America Great Again.

-30-

Addicted to Puma

My very first pair of running shoes, and probably my first name pair of athletics shoes of any sort, was a pair of Pumas. Prior to that, I think I mostly had things like PF Flyers or Keds.

The Pumas were from way back in the day when the top maker of such shoes was Adidas. Puma, Reebok, Nike, New Balance, Converse, were also popular.

Anyway, I’m a sentimental type for my firsts. I’ve finally purchased the very first pair of audiophile loudspeakers I ever owned, the Polk Audio Monitor 7. And they still sound as magnificent as I remembered them. I still have fond memories of the first car I ever drove, the 1971 VW Superbeatle. And thus, my first pair of running shoes, Puma, also give me fond memories.

But Puma seemed to disappear from stores for many years. I tried looking for them, but most regular shoe stores or department stores didn’t carry them. For a while there, I thought they’d gone out of business. And I have never seen them in any specialty running shoe store I’ve been to.

Then I found a Puma store in Gurney Illinois. I didn’t purchase a pair because they seemed a little pricey and I didn’t feel like paying Illinois sales taxes. But this showed me that Puma either never went away or was making a comeback. So I kept looking.

Then I found a local store, Rogan’s, sells them. And I bought a pair. Then, like Lay’s potato chips, “you can’t eat just one,” I bought another pair. Then another. And another.

But none of them were running shoes. Not real running shoes. Sure, they looked like running shoes, but that’s all. They didn’t have any of the features top running shoes had. You couldn’t even pull out the insole. It was glued in.

Even the one pair that seemed like running shoes, and the one that received some fairly positive reviews, the Bioweb, was a poor running shoe compared to many others (and I reviewed it in my last blog).

So here’s a picture of my addiction:

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…so far.

These are all are “running shoes,” except only one of these shoes I would consider a real running shoe. That’s the one on the furthest right.The one on the left is a Puma Roma Rugged running shoe, that really seems more like a cross-training sneaker. The next is the Puma Cell Surin Engineered2. The next is the Puma Tazon, followed by the Bioweb.

I just acquired the Mobium Elite through Amazon. They are the Puma Mobium Elite V2 and I’ll put up a review of them in a few days after I’ve had a chance to run in them a few times.

The other shoes I use for walking and wearing to work. I like their looks and they are comfy as all get out.

It’s funny. I used to make fun of my wife’s collection of shoes. I never thought I’d become a shoeholic, but I guess I have.

-30-

Catastrophe avoided

Sunday night about 7 or 7:30 pm, we heard the back door shut. I thought it was our son who is always on the move, but no, he didn’t come running through the kitchen.

So it was chalked up as one of those things. The wind. The door hadn’t been shut properly and the piston finally pulled it shut 

It wasn’t until bedtime that I realized I hadn’t seen our female cat all night. Usually she’s crawling into my lap or chasing or being chased by one of our two male cats.

In fact, the last time we saw her she was in a standoff with our youngest cat.

So I wandered around the house shaking a treat container, being followed by the other two cats and our two dogs, who thought it was treat time.

But no sign of Moana Lisa, our white cat. 

Our son came up with that name. When we first got her, she had been abused and for the first week she just hid under our bed moaning loudly. It took several weeks before she stopped moaning any time someone would come near her. It took another six months before she stopped clawing and biting anyone who tried to pet her. And it was almost a year before she’d crawl up into your lap, but you still weren’t allowed to touch her. If you did, she’d moan, bite, and leave. She’s never been the most loving cat.

So we went to bed thinking she was just in a hissy mood because of the previous confrontation with our younger cat and she’d come out when she was ready. (We never connected the door to the possibility she had gotten out.)

In the morning, still no sign of her, but we all had to leave for work and school so we couldn’t look for her.

That evening, still no sign of her. OK. Maybe she wasn’t pouting somewhere in the house after all. Did she get out? That’s when we recalled the door closing the previous night.

But of all the cars, she’s been the least interested in trying to go outside. (We don’t let our cats outside, they’re pets, and I don’t understand people who do.)

We have a fenced-in yard. She’s not a climber, rarely uses the cat tower in the house, so if she got out, we reasoned, she would be in our yard and the dogs would have keyed on her. “Here she is! Cat! Here she is!” But no, they acted like there was no new scent in their territory. So where could she be?

We looked in the bushes and around the house just in case. No sign of her.

I decided to take the dog for a walk and maybe he’d catch her scent or something. Yeah, silly. Cobie isn’t a scent hound, he’s a dalmatian/lab mix. The only thing he can sniff out is food.

I went down the street and turned up our alley, hoping she’d have stayed nearby. I kept calling her name and thought I heard her answer, so I kept calling, but it turned out to be a stupid crow mocking me.

We passed a garage and saw something moving next to it. It was a white cat. How many of those are around? But this one was all dirty, with grease spots, and her hair was all disheveled. It didn’t look like her.

But I called her name anyway and she stopped, looked at me, and came running over, “You found me!”

But Cobie was all excited too, and Moana wouldn’t come near enoigh to let me grab her, so I had to take the dog home, then go back for her.

She was now under a car, but she came quickly when I called her. I picked her up and took her back home.

Once inside the house, she was so happy she rubbed herself against anyone who came near her, even the dogs.

But, as I said, she was covered in grease and dirt. I wasn’t sure how she’d take to a bath so I got a wet soapy washcloth and tried to rub her clean. That didn’t work very well.so I threw caution to the winds, and put a little water in the tub and put her in, fully expecting to be clawed to death. Instead she just sort of made “meh” sounds. She wasn’t happy, yet she wasn’t angry either. She tolerated it. 

So I shampoed her, then did my best to dry her.

And the rest of the night she kept snuggling with my wife or with me, purring loudly, as if to say, “There’s no place like home!”

Later that night she slept in her bed and never moved. She was still there in the morning. Her harrowing adventure in the noisy, scary outside must have wiped her out.

We still aren’t sure why she went outside. She’s never shown any interest. The only thing we can think of is she was sniffing by the back door and our youngest cat pushed her out.

You know how brothers are toward their sisters. Besides, he looked guilty. 

Then the door banged shut and must have scared her so she just ran until she realized she alone and lost.

I doubt she’ll do that again. For the moment, she seems like a changed cat. Before she tolerated us. Now, it seems, she really appreciates us.

Cobie thinks Moana smells much better after her bath. (He won’t admit he missed her.)

-30-

Taking it to the streets

For the last several months, I’ve limited my runs to the treadmill for several reasons.

First, I wanted to find my pace, a pace that I could run continuously for the mile, two miles, 5k, without turning into a floundering, gasping fish out of water.

Second, I also wasn’t quite sure how my joints, ankles, knees, and feet would take to running on cement. I started this somewhat overweight. I don’t think my body would have handled the 220 pound pounding on unforgiving concrete.

So I took the the treadmill, working on my running style, my pace, and my weight.

Last night, I decided to give the streets a shot and I set out running around my neighborhood. I didn’t have a mapped course, I just ran this way and that, along side streets and main streets, through the park, until I finally came home.

The one advantage I found to street running is that you can moderate your pace. Sure, you can do that on the treadmill, increasing or decreasing your speed in 0.1 mph increments, but I also noticed that sometimes, when using a preset program, the tread would increase or decrease, but the computer keeping track of things wouldn’t.  So although I’d change my pace from say 6 mph to 5.4 mph, and although the tread would physically slow down, the readout on the treadmill sometimes would stay at 6 mph.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, pace moderation. So if I did find myself gasping for breath, it was a simple matter of slowing down. When I caught my breath, I could speed up. I could also vary my running stride. Going for short, faster strides or long, slower strides. I could vary from heel strike to midfoot strike.

It was exhilarating to be outside for the first time in at least a decade. It was more interesting having the scenery change instead of staring at a wall or the TV.  It felt good to be able to run for a goodly amount of time. And I don’t think I could have done it straight up without treadmilling first.

I used the Runtastic app to keep track of my run. I ended up running 2.75 miles in 32:31 minutes at an average pace of 11:46 minutes per mile, an average speed of 5.1 mph and a maximum speed of 8.2 mph. It even said I made one of my miles in a little over 10 minutes, which I don’t think I’ve ever achieved on the treadmill.

The only problem? My headphones. The cord kept tangling up and yanking the earbuds out of my ears. The reason is I was holding the phone in my hand. I need one of two things to fix that. Either wireless bluetooth earbuds or an arm band that will hold the phone.

I was very pleased and look forward to my next outside run.

-30-

Obama and tRump have something in common

I grew up in the 1960s. The pastoral 60s. Until… everything exploded. Kennedy was assassinated. Civil unrest. Race riots. Martial law and curfews. Civil unrest. Civil disobedience. Martin Luther King Jr. Malcolm X. Black Panthers. Black Power. Red Power. Kent State. Sit-ins. It spilled into the 1970s. Women’s Liberation. Burning bras. Burning flags. Busing. Watergate.

And then things seemed to calm down. Laws were passed for equality. Affirmative Action. Laws against discrimination, in the workplace,  when buying housing. 

Sure, it wasn’t perfect. We still had a long way to go, but many of us thought the days of the Klu Klux Klan,  burning crosses, lynchings, separate drinking fountains for whites and blacks, moving to the back of the bus, all thatnignirance and hatred had died back in those turbulent times in the ’60s.

In fact, when Barrack Obama ran for, and was elected, President, many of us thought it was the pinnacle of race equality. “See? We’ve come so far, a black man can reach the highest office in the land!”

We thought we’d finally become that shining beacon of light on the hill.

Except that the shining beacon illuminated the dark rocks and caves and showed us the ugliness that was still there. It had just been hiding and seeing a black man in “their” house brought them crawling and mewling into the light, where they started to spew their hatred anew. Hatred we thought we had vanquished decades ago.

And then, from the bowels of Hell,  a new abomination rose to lead thise hate-filled minions against the forces of light.

tRump, slithered into the fray, giving his slimy minions new hope that their racism, bigotry, misogyny, homophobia could once again rule the hearts and minds of Man.

We thought this kind of vile behavior, these types of despicable thoughts had died out like the dinosaur, but Obama and tRump have shown us we were wrong.

For many of us, its a terrifying shock to find out that not only do the racist hateful bigots yet live,  they survive in greater numbers than we ever suspected. Like sleeper agents, they had remained in hiding until called, and now the United States faces it’s greatest challenge to its survival. (And yes, I admit it was partially our naive whiteness that blinded us into thinking we had become a color blind society — so for us, its an even greater shock.)

This coming election isn’t just about Hillary against tRump, no, it’s about the forces of good and light against the forces of evil, hatred, and intolerance for the very soul of our country.

If tRump wins, the United States will lose every progressive step forward it has made in over 100 years. Prejudice will become acceptable. Minorities will again be openly discrimated against. Workers will again be ruled by the iron fists of the robber barons.

We can’t let that happen. We must put aside all our differences and the bitter disappointment we might feel from this nomination process and stand together against the evil that threatens our land. To quote an oft used cliche: United we stand, divided we fall.

Vote against tRump. Vote. Against. tRump. Don’t sit home and not vote. Not voting is a vote FOR tRump. Don’t vote third party. The only message that sends is that you voted for tRump. 

This isn’t about you and your feelings. This is about conspiracies any longer. Forget all that came before. Thus is about our future,  the future of our children, the future of the United States.

Many times in the past you’ve heard people say, “This is the most important election in your lifetime.” This time, it’s true. This is the most important election in all our lifetimes.

tRump must be defeated. Republican, Democrat, Independent, Socialist, or whatever you are, you must vote against tRump. He isn’t good for any party.  He doesn’t adhere to any political philosophy. He represents only himself and he is filled with hate against everyone who isn’t like him.

We must unite and, even if it’s distasteful to many of you, vote for Hillary.

Only a vote for Hillary will defeat the evil that rises up to destroy our land with its fear and hatred.

Obama and tRump do have something in common, they’ve shown us that ignorance and fear and hatred and bigotry are still a threat to our great nation. They’ve opened our eyes to the danger.

We haven’t made the strides toward to enlightenment we thought we had. The ignorance was just hiding and now it’s in the open for all to see like a festering puss-filled ugly sore.

A vote for Hillary won’t heal that wound, but at least it will keep it from spreading. And maybe now that we all know it’s there, we can start treating it.

-30-

The death of Hostess Suzy Q’s

As an older human, there are many disappointments in life. Many of them are economic. For instance, take Cracker Jacks. Oh, sure, the candy coated popcorn with peanuts still tastes as good as I recall, but the prize inside is just shit now. We used to get real toys. Toys you could play with. Not just crappy stickers or body tattoos.

Or look at other candy bars. They’ve shrunk over the years, fooling us with the cardboard inserts. Coffee used to come in one pound bags, but gradually, as the price has risen, the size of the bags has gotten smaller until now it’s served in 11 or 12 ounce bags.

My latest disappointment? Hostess and it’s supposed return. “The sweetest comeback in history.”

Today, I found they’ve finally rereleased Suzy Q’s, which were my one and only Hostess weakness.

I saw them in the store today and I was very, very happy. And I immediately bought a box and brought them home.

But then I opened the box and took out one of the Suzy Q’s. I could tell right away, this was NOT the Suzy Q that I knew and loved. It was smaller. Nearly half has wide as it used to be. And they used to pack so much cream filling into a Suzy Q, that it would ooze out and smear against the wrapper.

These new ones hardly have any filling at all. Maybe a dab. Certainly not the thick spilling over the sides amount they used to give us. This was not even enough to reach the edges.

And the cake used to be very moist. Biting into a Suzy Q was an experience of epic proportions.

Now? It was like biting into a dried out, tasteless slab of blech.

This was my biggest disappointment in a life filled with disappointments.

Hostess has broken my heart and it can never be repaired.

2016-06-23 15.54.13

The new DISAPPOINTING crap version of the Suzy Q.

Fuck you, Hostess. You’re dead to me.

-30-