Look up look down run all around

No, those aren’t dance instructions.

I noticed something today as I was out for my long run. OK, it was 5k, long for me, maybe short for you. Perspective.

Anyway, I noticed that if I keep my head up, looking into the distance, I run at a steady pace and my form seems to settle in to a comfortable stride.

If, however, I look down at my feet — which is really my normal way when I walk, looking at my feet. It’s how I’ve always walked. Looking down. — If I do that while running, my pace becomes erratic, my stride becomes less comfortable. It’s like I become hunched over, and I’m falling forward. Sometimes, my pace increases and soon I’m running beyond my cardiovascular capacity, gasping like a fish out of water. Not a lungfish, mind you, they can breathe out of water.

Wouldn’t it be neat to be able to breathe underwater and in the air?

Sorry. I just got back from running and the endorphins are playing havoc with my thoughts.

Anyway, now I have to do my best to keep my head up, look down the road, and concentrate on my stride as I run.

But then, isn’t that how we should go through life? Head up and looking down the road?

Looking down gets you nowhere and you won’t see any upcoming obstacles.

Keep running, my friends. Heads up.

running friend

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Friday Randomizer

A Friday Haiku

Many are broken

Some have cracks, some deeper pain

But they all need love.

Weigh-In Friday

It’s now official, I weigh 198.9 pounds according to my scale. According to it’s biometrics, I’ve lost 0.8% fat since my last weigh-in and gained 0.r% skeletal muscle.

I will not celebrate with cake.

I can do this.

Running

Since end of July, I changed my running schedule. It was somewhat haphazard, but close to three times a week.

Now I still run three days a week, but I run five times. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I run twice. Once in mid-morning and again in mid-afternoon, averaging a total of five miles between those two runs.

The morning one is usually longer, about 5k, while the afternoon run is a fast two miles. And these are outdoor runs, not treadmill runs. Sunday, I set a person best running two miles in 18:43, the first mile in 8:36.

I’m thinking this twice a day run thing, plus limiting my intake to a tuna pouch in a tortilla shell, or sometimes a Starkist chicken pouch (“CHICKEN!” Candace Cameran Bure cracks me up), and two apples between breakfast and dinner has boosted my fat burning metabolism.

I’m also able to fit into pants I haven’t worn since I was in college without looking like a stuffed sausage.

I started this adventure several years ago (ok, more like a score ago) with a bulging 38 pants waist size (although I refused to buy more than one pair, prefering to pretend I fit in all my size 36 pants.

Now I’m down to 34, and at least one pair of 34s are getting very loose on me. I can even fit into a 33 waist.

Which makes me wonder. Below 34, pants are measured incrementally 33, 32, 31, 30, and so on. But once you hit 34, pants sizes jump every even number. 34, 36, 38, 40, 42… Why is that? Do they figure once you reach those sizes, you’re going to continue to expand, so they think it’s easier on the wallet buy new pants every other size?

Adventures in ADHD

I’m sure you’re all dying to know what my latest interest is, right? Well, Ha! You missed it and now I’m between interests, so stay tuned.

It was classic muscle cars. Luckily, we can’t afford a real classic muscle car, like a 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1, or a 1968 Pontiac Firebird 400, or a 1971 AMC Javelin, but I did buy the Hot Wheel/Johnny Lightning versions.

And I’ve been watching Mekum Auto Auctions and drooling, but I can tell my interest has peaked (versus piqued), and is beginning to wane.

Writing

Yeah, OK. *red faced with embarrassment* I haven’t put pen to paper in a while. Sorry. I know. I’ve let everyone down, myself included.

If it’s any consolation, I am still querying my finished urban fantasy.

I’m also mulling over a new character. I want to write about a female protagonist, so ideas are percolating, and I have written a few scenes. Mostly throwaway, because from my perspective, I’m worried they come across as if she were a man who likes wearing frilly things.

I might need a lot of beta readers to help me get her more feminine. Stay tuned.

Outro

I hope everyone has a great weekend. For those in the east facing Hurricane Florence, stay safe.

I leave you with a song for the weekend. Considering how broken I am, the song is apropos.

Keep on keepin’ on. Resist.

-30-

Goodbye Fleet Feet

My wife and I were out and about Saturday when she noticed Fleet Feet, the running store in Brookfield, Wisconsin had a closeout sale going on.

After much arm-twisting, we walked in. They had several benches and shelves lined with shoe boxes discounted fairly significantly.

I looked through the selection in my size. They had Brooks Ghost, another Brooks I can’t recall the name, one pair of Hoka One One, which didn’t appeal to me like the Clifton did. Then the brands I usually just ignore, Mizuno, Underarmour, New Balance, and a few that didn’t even register.

I finally chose a pair of Altra Torin 2.5, which are much more neutral than my previous shoes, but I’ve always been intrigued by their wide toebox design, which reminded me of the old 1970s Earth Shoes, which also, if I recall, had a zero drop heel.

Then I went to talk my wife into a pair of shoes. She tried on one pair, which she liked, but wasn’t as keen on the Altra as I was. Then I saw a plain white box with simple blue lettering that said, “Karhu, the Finnish Sportsbear.”

I’d never heard of them, but if it’s Finnish, it’s got to be good, so I had her try them on. She really liked them.

At checkout, I asked about Karhu, and they said it’s a Finnish running shoe sold exclusively by Fleet Feet. I expressed my dismay that they didn’t have any in my size. (I had looked.)

They were nice enough to search and found a pair of Fluid 5 in size 12, about half a size larger than I normally take. I tried them on and they fit pretty well. So I got them as well.

The Karhu (left) and the Altra (right).

I asked why Fleet Feet was closing and they said not all Fleet Feet, just this location (unless I continued to buy more shoes) — the only location convenient to us. Their other stores will remain open.

Which is good, because how else will I get my Karhu fix?

I didn’t push them on the why, but I know exactly why. Fleet Feet is a full-service running shoe store. They give you personal attention, measure your feet, have you run on a treadmill to see your running mechanics, then they bring out several different styles of shoes they think will work best for you.

Because of this, their prices are closer to the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. In other words, you can find the same shoes cheaper at other shoe retailers or online.

So people (read: assholes) will go into Fleet Feet, take advantage of all their services, find a shoe that suits them to a T, then they say, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and they sneak off and purchase the shoes elsewhere for less.

In other words, people are more than happy to use their services, but would rather not pay for them. It’s a sad commentary.

Anywho.

I’ve run in each pair once now, so I can’t really given an opinion on them, other than to say both are much more minimalist than my Hoka One One Clifton 3 were (now retired and given to my son).

Maybe I’ll give a long term review on each sometime in the future.

Karhu Fluid 5:

Altra Torin 2.5:

Run. Buy new shoes. Run some more.

-30-

Q-Up

I’m mostly an indoor runner. Particularly when the temperatures are hovering near zero degrees Fahrenheit and the roads are snow and ice covered. I’d rather not risk a sprained ankle, or worse, and setting my running progress back more than I already have with bronchitis.

I run on my treadmill. It’s decent enough, though several years old now. It has a max speed of 12 mph with a 15% incline. I have yet to train to the point where I reach either one of those. I have sprinted for 15 or 30 seconds at 10 mph, but usually stick with 8 mph as my sprint speed.

My home theater is in front of the treadmill, so I can watch cable while I run, except to be honest, watching television while running gets rather boring. I much prefer music. I very much prefer my own music on vinyl, which means playing a record on my turntable.

The problem with that is, if I run for any decent time over 15 or 20 minutes, the record ends. It’s a manual turntable. In other words, I have to lift the tonearm off the record before it starts doing that “shh-shk! ssh-shk! ssh-shk!”

It’s a sound that terrifies most vinyl music aficionados under ordinary circumstances because it means the needle is grinding away in the end groove, which isn’t good for said needle. So we all have a minor adrenaline panic episode as we try to reach the tonearm before it starts doing that.

Now magnify that adrenaline panic episode with having exhausted myself running on the treadmill. I’m jumping off, trying not to break my neck as I do so. I rush over to the turntable, and attempt to lift the tonearm off the record with hands shaking from the strenuous exercise, trying to make my fingers steady enough to lift the needle without going, “zzzzzzzit!” across the record and scratching it.

I’m only successful once in a while, therefore, to protect my valuable vinyl library, I had abandoned playing them while running. Which brings us back to watching TV and getting bored.

No more.

I found a product called The Q UP. It’s a small, plastic device you set-up on your turntable which lifts your tonearm automatically when the record ends.

2018-01-17 20.58.58

It came in a small, cardboard box. I pulled it out and followed the directions (which are only online, but I had read and watched the instructions earlier).

I cleaned an area on the plinth where I planned to place The Q UP. Then, with the turntable off, I placed the tonearm on the record at the point I wanted The Q UP to lift it.

I placed The Q Up next to the tonearm with the “trigger” just touching the tonearm and then I used their little 3M cardboard rectangle to mark the spot.

2018-01-17 21.08.25

I peeled off the 3M tape on the bottom of The Q UP, and set it at the spot marked by the little rectangle.

Now, it came time to test it.

It worked exactly as designed. I’m very pleased with The Q UP and would recommend it to anyone with a manual turntable who doesn’t like experience that adrenaline panic episode every time an album ends.

And now, I can run on my treadmill, listen to my vinyl, and not have to kill myself, or my albums, trying to get to the record when the last song ends.

Life is good.

-30-

Will power needed

It’s been a ghastly holiday season from a gastrological point of view.

I stopped weighing myself in early November and that was probably my big mistake.

Probably, because I indulged excessively in holiday cookies. As well as appetizers at the family get-togethers.

I will admit that I did not overindulge when it came to meals themselves. I’ve never been one to gorge myself on Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cranberry relish. Never.

Unlike many peopme, my plate has always had plenty of white space on it. I merely take a small sampling of each dish. And I very rarely eat dessert.

I have never understood the purpose of holiday overeating. As a child, I watched relatives stuff themselves until they couldn’t any more, then they’d sit around and complain how full they are. “I can’t believe I ate so much.”

So why did you do it? No one forced you. There is no expected famine. Gluttony makes no sense.

I remember one sister-in-law, who shall remain nameless, brought a bottle of Pepto-Bismol to one Thanksgiving. My wife and I would visit one of our mom’s for a few hours, then we’d go to the other mom’s place for the evening.

This SIL did the same, going to her mother’s after finishing here.

After the Thanksgiving meal, she pulled out the bottle of Pepto and said, “I don’t know how you do it. Eating one huge meal then going to the other side of the family to eat another huge meal.”

We just stared at her. “We don’t eat a second meal when we leave here. We just have drinks and appetizers.”

I mean, seriously, it’s bad enough to gorge yourself at one meal but two in the same day?

But stuffing myself isn’t how I got myself in trouble. It was a cookie craving. We didn’t bake any this year (no spritz cookies! Sad face.), but we did pick up cookies from the suoermarket, including cookies freshly baked by some local bakeries.

And I ate those mindlessly, not counting or caring.

And I paid for it. I didn’t weigh myself — I was afraid of what the scale would say — but the visible evidence was there. My stomach was mocking me in the mirror. “You thought I was gone, didn’t you? Think again, because I’m baa-aack!”

I resolved, without making any resolutions, to get serious about exercise and eating right.

And I started the year off well. I ran the 1st, the 2nd, the 3rd. Unfortunately, my streak was to end there.

I was laid low by a cold. I didn’t run on the 4th because of chest congestion. Friday the 5th was worse. And I laid around that entire weekend, consuming nothing but liquids: coffee, teas, and soups.

Monday, the 8th, I felt no better and stayed home from work. Ditto Tuesday. Wednesday, I felt so bad I went to urgent care.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. The last time I took more than two consecutive sick days off was when I had shoulder surgery. Taking off sick from work just isn’t something I do.

Prognosis? Bronchitis and a left ear infection. They gave me antibiotics. Bit the thing that shocked me was stepping on the scale. Theirs read 218 pounds! That can’t be right! I’ve been on a liquid diet, for Cripe’s sake!

I weighed myself when I got home. My scale, which I’m still not sure how accurate it is, read 207.7 pounds. Better than their scale (why do they weigh younwith your shoes on?). Not as bad, but not good either.

Thursday I stayed home, but Friday the 12th I went in. My boss sent me home after half a day because I sounded so bad.

I had a three day weekend, thanks to MLK Jr Day, and when Tuesday, yesterday, rolled around, I made it to work. I went in even though I still wasn’t 100% (and still aren’t. I still have a cough, sore throat, and sniffles).

When I got home, I forced myself to run. It was a slow pace, just 5 mph, for about 1.25 miles. But it was better than nothing.

At that point, I had gone 13 days without any exercise.

I have to get back into a regular exercise routine. I have to get back into running shape and start lifting weights again.

I’ve let myself slide too far and I have to shore things up.

But dammit! It’s Girl Scout cookie time!

-30-

Typical Random Friday Stuff

A Friday Haiku

I ran this morning

First morning run since July

Damned dog wanted out

(Damned is just one syllable, right?)

Don’t let failure define you

Face it, we all have setbacks. Just when we think we have this fitness thing figured out — we understand to lose weight we must expend more calories than we take in, we’ve made our exercise routine a daily habit, we’re reaching our goals — something happens and we find ourselves finding reasons why we can’t exercise today and a day becomes a week and that ice cream looks damned tasty and suddenly we’re 7 pounds heavier. (Wasn’t that sentence cringe-worthy?)

Well, my friends, there is no point in beating yourself up over it. Acknowledge it happened and get back on that horse that threw you and pick up where you left off.

(Speaking of horses, I’ve only actually ever been on a real horse once or twice in my life, not including pony rides as a kid. Do they even still have pony rides and are today’s kids as excited as our generation was to ride one or are they too busy SnapChatting?)

Anyway, I fell off that horse, um, the metaphorical one, not a real one, and my running schedule had become erratic of late.

Once it was an every day morning ritual in June, but as the days grew shorter and the mornings became darker, I stopped the morning runs and told myself I’d run after work. That worked for a short time, but other areas of life started intruding and my runs became less frequent and the pounds I was so proud of losing found their way back.

Now I could just mope around and eat another pound and a half bag of Mrs. Fisher’s potato chips (did you hear they will have to reformulate the recipe because of the ban on partially hydrogenated oils? Nooooooo!) or I could get back on that horse (the metaphorical one, of course. After all, it’s been 40 years since I rode that real one and it’s probably long dead by now) and pick up where I left off.

Thus, I ran this morning. As the Friday haiku says, first morning run since July. Granted, I didn’t get up on my own. I had sone unwanted help from a little dog who needed to go outside, yet despite that I still did it. I could have just as easily let him out and returned to bed, but instead I carried my gear down, changed, and jumped on the treadmill.

It’s a start. And that’s all we can do — start and hope it becomes a habit again.

Accept each setback as just another challenge to be overcome. Failure is a bully and it feeds on your disappointment. Don’t let failure win; kick it’s ass and then laugh in its face.

Congratulations

I forgot to congratulate my niece, who ran her first half-marathon, the Minnesota Monster Dash Half Marathon on October 28th. I didn’t even know she was a runner!

Way to go, Erin!

Weigh-In Friday

My results here are all screwed up. I haven’t officially recorded my weight since it started rising. And I was so proud I had finally dropped below 200.

As I hinted at above, I had gained a bit, but this week I lost. I’m down 4 pounds from the peak weight a few weeks ago.

I’ll start posting real numbers once I drop below 200 again. Until then, let’s just pretend this never happened. OK?

Cold weather detailing

Now that the temperatures are dropping, I haven’t been detailing my cars every day or so like I was in the summer.

Each morning, or evening, I took some detail spray and a microfiber cloth to each car until it was clean and shiney, free of all the everyday dust and gunk that accumulates on them as they sit outside all day exposed to the elements.

My wife’s Jetta always came home with these long, thin brown nodules (around 1-1/2 centimeters in length and about 1 or 2 millimeters wide) that I’d have to loosen gently with my thumb nail before the detail spray could clean the area. She said they were from the trees around her parking lot and can’t be avoided. (Maybe in the dark of night some time I’ll go cut them all down.)

At least the cold weather has eliminated the problem of tree sap, but it brings another: How to keep the paint shining when it’s too cold to use detail spray? Or even handwash?

This is my first winter since I’ve become detailing knowledgable and I seriously don’t know.

I did put in some Klasse High Gloss Sealant Glaze to help protect the finish, but that doesn’t solve the desire to have the cars shine.

Do I bite the bullet and run the cars through a machine wash once a week? Or do I live with road salt and slush spray until it becomes warm enough to handwash again?

We ran the Jetta through a car wash last week. I didn’t realize until we were in line with no turning back that it used brushes. Oy. I still cringe thinking about it and the paint swirls it might have introduced.

How do you keep your cars shining in winter?

That’s all folks!

And that wraps up another Friday blog. For the sake of my own blood pressure, I avoided politics. Not that there isn’t anything to say, I mean, that ignorant orange turd provides plenty of fodder for commentary; as well as the House GOP passing a tax bill that lines the pockets of giant corporations and millionaires, including the orange turd himself, at the expense of the poor and middle class; not to mention that Alabama voters are going to show the entire world just how fucked up their priorities are by voting in a child molester just because they don’t want a liberal; and of course, after years of warning the public about how bad the XL Pipeline would be, fighting to prevent it from being built, the damned thing proved us right by causing a 210,000 gallon spill in South Dakota!

But all that shit would require dozens of column inches to properly castigate and instead I think I’d rather wish everyone a pleasant weekend.

We’re expecting some snow, but with luck, not enough to prevent me from putting up my outside Christmas decorations.

And so, I’ll leave you with a song to get the weekend started. Not a Christmas song, Hell no, it’s too freaking early for that. Just a fun, enjoy the weekend kind of song.

Stay warm. Eat right. Exercise. And don’t forget to punch a Nazi.

-30-

Must we review this week?

NOTE: For some reason WordPress posted a duplicate of this blog post. One filled with typos. I deleted it. Unfortunately, that was the one that had the most likes.

It’s Friday and you know what that means. Right. A haiku.

A Friday Haiku

It’s been a long week

Trump displayed more ignorance

We all need a drink

Running pride

My oldest son has recently begun running regularly on the treadmill. As a running father, I was pleased to see it. I never made him run. Haven’t had any discussions about running. He just one day started.

I asked him once how far or fast he would run and he gave me a shrug that he didn’t know. Not that it matters, I was just being nosey.

I did notice he was running in an old pair of Asics I had given him years ago and had been his regular street shoes. So, I sacrificed my newer pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17 that I alternated running with my Hoka One One Clifton 3.

After all, a good pair of running shoes is essential to staying injury-free.

Maybe I’ll bring my Runner’s Worlds home from work and see if he wants to read them.

Weigh-In Friday

I didn’t.

Well, not officially. I didn’t use my phone app to record it, but I did sneak a peak. I’m down 1.2 pounds.

I need to eat oatmeal fir breakfast more often. I had it on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Yesterday and today I made a bacon, egg, and cheese English muffin sandwich.

And maybe salads for lunch next week.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

As part of a team-building exercise, we took a Myers-Briggs personality assessment. I received my results and, not surprisingly, I’m a INTP.

First, they have things split up into four groupings. Extraversion/Introversion, Sensing/Intuition, Thinking/Feeling, and Judging/Perceiving. To various degrees, we all fall into one or the other of those pairings within those four.

As an INTP, my preferences are Introversion, Intuition, Thinking, and Perceiving. My snapshot reads “INTPs are rational, curious, theoretical, and abstract, prefering to organize ideas rather than situations or people. They enjoy working alone with ample autonomy for their own ideas and methods.”

Pretty much. I’ve always been introverted and curious.

A couple things that I found interesting. It said, “Thinking is yiur favorite process, the one you use most frequently. It is used in the inner world.” That’s very true. And it’s probably why I write.

The other interesting thing was, “If you are stressed, you may Become opinionated and unwilling to change your point of view.” I do, especially arguing with someone on-line. “Have unexpected and uncontrolled emotional outbursts.” I thought that was because of my ADHD? “Be hypersensitive to suspected slights.” Yes, I’ve not spoken to people for months. “Take criticism very personally.” Which is why story rejections put me into a fetal position for weeks.

In a couple weeks, we meet as a team with the Interpreter to go over our results. Should be interesting.

But if I’m being honest, I’m not sure how accurate something like this is. I mean, sure, it’s much more believable than astrology or numerology, and probably more accurate than an Internet meme, like, “Which Star Trek Captain are you?” But compared to a real assessment by a real psychologist? I don’t know.

Another Haiku

Nero fiddled, Rome burned

Marie said, “Let them eat cake.”

Trump golfs and tweets hate

About Upon Reflection

When I began this blog many years ago, I wanted it to be a fun place, where I’d think (see Myers-Biggs above) and reflect upon the day’s events, society, writing, entertainment, and other things that interested me.

In college back in the 80s and early 90s, I wrote a weekly opinin column for the smaller conservative newspaper and it was called, “Upon Reflection.” Why the conservative paper? Because the larger, campus-sponsored one, the UWM Post (yes, we had to fund ourselves) had so large a writing staff they couldn’t guarantee anything you wrote would make the paper.

Whereas the UWM Times was just starting out and you could pretty much pick your own assignment. For a long time, I covered the UWM Police beat. Then I moved into production, laying out the entire paper.

I had approached the founding editor early on about doing an opinion column, like Mike Royko, or locally, like Joel McNally at the daily Milwaukee Journal or Art Kumbulek at the more liberal independent Sheperd Express (sadly, they’ve since corrected the spelling). Well, the UWM Times board at the time didn’t think I was conservative enough (oddly enough, when I contacted the Sheperd Express to work for them, they said I was too conservative). I wasn’t interested in politics then so I wasn’t really liberal or conservative.

It wasn’t until they all graduated that I used my tenure (ok, I threatened to not do the layout any more and since I was the only one who understood Ventura Publisher, they capitulated) to get my own column.

I wrote an extreme caricature of an angry conservative, at first. For example, my very first column was about instituting a death penalty for people who won’t get off welfare. My tone pleased the founding board and my column became very popular, but it also generated a lot of hate. I was even challenged to a duel once, except he didn’t leave his name or a contact number. That would have been fun.

Eventually, it evolved a moderate slant where I’d sarcastically slam both sides of an issue. Playing both sides against the middle was more interesting.

I’m sorry, I forgot my point. Anyway, I didn’t want this blog to become a political rant, liberal or conservative, and until last year, I had succeeded.

But then America’s toilet backed-up and out came a slimy orange turd and we didn’t have a plunger big enough to clear the vile obstruction of hate, ignorance, and bigotry that resulted.

And with a racist asshole in the White House spewing an average of three lies per day, I have no choice but to write about politics. The only way to fight cockroaches is to keep the light shining on them.

And lucky you, I’ve run out of time for an orange turd update. I wanted to talk about his ignoring Puerto Rico, how he set a new record for the number of lies told in one week, 40 (and he averages 3 lies per day since January 20th), the GOP tax plan to gut funding to Medicare and Medicaid, as well as some other vile shit our current Congress has committed.

Sorry.

We’ve almost reached the weekend

Have a great weekend, or as good a one you can. I leave you with two songs to get the weekend started.

This first one is gypsy punk! How can you not love that?

And the second song, I’ve rewritten some alternative lyrics for the chorus for you to enjoy. It takes a bit of work to match the song’s timing, but in no time you’ll be singing it loudly for all to hear.

Wish we could turn back time

To the good dope days

When we had a Prez

Who cared and was intelligent

-30-