Story of my life (Part 1)

Frazz rocks

I love my wife and all, but this is how our conversations are going these days. Which, in and of itself, rocks, as I’m into my second year of staying under 175, the longest I’ve been this skinny (though still above the “normal” BMI – still have work to do, hence the “tuber”) since before I went to college and discovered beer (mmmmmm – beer). (It also doesn’t help that the Frazz homepage says that Jeff Mallett, who Jon says is a quality human being, swam the freakin’ Strait of Mackinac for charity.)

Before I get into my paean to late summer, an admin item – Missy’s running the Niantic Bay Half Marathon on Sunday as her last hurrah before Hartford. The boys and I will be there as soon as church lets out. Michelle will be there selling Bondi Bands, which are so cool I’m thinking about getting one to keep my ears warm in winter. Should be good – an early fall afternoon at the beach. Hopefully they’ve kept the chowder despite getting rid of the Marathon.

Now – Late summer.

Dianna nailed the beginning of fall this week. I broke out of my rut toady after work (at an undisclosed location) for a freakin’ great run. Freed of the normal time constraints by a loving and patient wife, I set out and, much like Mark, I embraced “Run, Billy, Run!” and ran, ran, ran, ran, ran. I took the iPod with me for Nike+, but didn’t plug in the headphones.

And, man.

There’s nothing like a fall run on an Indian Summer day. A little bit of warm and humidity had rolled in – should have great thunderstorms tonight. The sun was getting low on the horizon, and the light of the “golden hour” was amplified by the strong hints of color on the trees. Blissfully little traffic, and I surprised myself by finding some wonderful rail-trail.

So I ran.

I knocked out about 3.5 before I came to a big hill. Paused Nike+, and walked for a little bit. Kept walking, exploring the area, and wondering about those who’d been here before.

Rural New England is the absolute greatest. There’s a history here unlike much of the rest of the country. Business empires and factories built and forgotten. Roads and rails and whole communities slowly disappearing under blankets of rotting leaves, thick oaks and maple roots tearing up the hopes and dreams of a century ago.

I wandered past an abandoned reservoir, wondering who’d built it, and if they’d known that it’d be choked with lilies and marsh grass someday instead of providing power for their water wheels. Flushed a covey(?) of grouse, and got a flashback of the quickening of the pulse and sharpening of the senses that is the draw of hunting upland game. Came across a pond, crept up over a hill, and jumped a couple of dozen ducks. They’d carved paths between the lilies and duckweed, and made a ruckus as they flew off.

Ran another mile and a half, and walked for about an hour or so in addition. Nike+ gave me credit for 5 miles running, so I figure I did between 8 and 9 miles total with the walking. Just what the body needs.

This weekend, I’m going to plow through “Run less, run faster”, and actually chisel out a training schedule for OKC. 7 months to go. Which translates to 3 months (12 weeks) to drop 10 pounds (completely plausible, ‘cept for Thanksgiving and Christmas), and 16 weeks to go from an 8 mile long run to 26.2 again.

Man, I’m psyched.

Story of my life continues below the break.
Continue reading Story of my life (Part 1)

Amazon MP3 Music Store

So, it’s been a while since I’ve found something nearly so cool as iTunes. I used eMusic for a while, and was pretty satisfied with it. The caveat with eMusic being that you’ve got to like obscure stuff. Me, that was no problem – I picked up a ton of jazz and blues there, as well as bands I’d heard on the Oxford American Samplers* – My Morning Jacket and Alejandro Escovido spring to mind.

What got me off of eMusic was having to do my 30 or 40 downloads within any given 30 day period. Yeah, cry me a river, but seriously – it was hard. If they’d given like a 5 day warning – say, an email that said “You have 20 downloads set to expire next week”, I’d probably still be with them.

So, I’m pretty psyched to see Amazon’s new MP3 downloads. Here’s the pluses:

1. Pretty decent selection based on a couple of searches I’ve done. If you’re looking to download HUGE name bands, you might be out of luck, but they had Wilco, the Beastie Boys, Hendrix, great jazz selection (‘Trane, Monk, etc), and I finally picked up Dread Zeppelin’s classic Un-LED-ed.
2. Nifty software app to bring your downloads directly into iTunes. I installed it for OSX, and it works as advertised. Plus, you get a free song! when you install it. Dunno if “Energy” by the Apples in Stereo is going to last, but it’s a neat demo.
3. The site is fast if you’re on broadband. Samples of songs start almost immediately, and the web pages go quick. My subjective opinion is that it’s faster than the iTunes Music Store, but I’ve got nothing but gut to go on.

and lastly – 4. The songs are high quality (256 MBps) MP3 – meaning they’ll play on anything (assuming you’ve hacked your Ubuntu install to include the restricted stuff). WHile I’m thrilled with Apple at the moment, I’m all about portability. I unpacked a decade’s worth of .pst files once when I switched platforms, and I’m not going to go through that again. For the record, I am one of those communists who has been burning my iTunes buys to CD and re-importing them as MP3 (until I found DRM Dumpster which automates the process with a CD-RW).

So, I’ll give the site a thumbs up if you absolutely have to have a song right here, right now (not available, by the way). If not, I’m still a hearty endorser of CD’s – get the track and a high-quality backup all in one fell swoop.

* I haven’t been waiting by my mailbox so eagerly for anything other than the OA 2007 music issue since I was in High School and my girlfriend went away to summer camp for a month and promised to write. Well, at least until I hooked up with that other girl, and then felt guilty when the letters started rolling in. But it’s not like that with the OA, honest, I promise!

Dean Kamen can eat this guy

Wow – so I mock the Segway, and then suddenly, I’m provided with a personal transporter so unbelievably cool I’m tempted to call in sick for the next week and build one.

So, this guy and this guy have built, posted code and blueprints, and shown that it can be ridden without dying.

This I can see replacing the car – imagine thousands of folks in WWI helmets with long leather jackets and messenger bags slung over their shoulders ripping on the way to work.



Sunday Morning

Last week ended up being a wash for me. The trip I was on somehow sucked the life out of me. The class stinks, and I was more than a little bummed by the hotel, which looked to be in a promising running location, but had slightly more traffic and slightly taller hills than I’d anticipated. So, the running’s been miserable, and by miserable I mean mostly non-existant.

I had a great weekend at home – finished a home-improvement project I’ve been studiously putting off for a while, and had quality time with the boys. But, amazingly, I managed to blow off running.

Missy and I even had a little tussle about that. I’d mentioned that I was thinking about running on Sunday morning before church. I even went so far as to set an alarm and make sure my shoes were in the bag. But, ultimately, I woke up in the night to pee, turned off my alarm, and slept until the boys bounced on me. She was a bit cheesed, as she’d been planning on heading to the Y if I hadn’t run.

So, the takeaway is that I need to do what I say I’m going to do. Take a page from the wife, and stick to a plan.

7 months until OKC. 20 mile base is established. Now the training begins.

Landis is Guilty

If you’ve had your head under a rock this weekend, you may not have heard that Floyd Landis has been found guilty of doping at the 2006 Tour de France, and will be stripped of his title, and suspended for two years, retroactive to January, 2007, when he said he’d stop racing professionally while the case was sorted out.

Me? I’m not sure how I feel about the decision. Trust but Verify has both the decision documents themselves as well as summaries of the dissenting arbitrator. He’s much more interesting than the two that voted to support the test.

I’m of a split mind. There are enough inconsistencies that have surfaced about lab process to make me want to side with Floyd. Being a recovering Navy Nukeular Power Officer, procedure and documentation are near and dear to my heart, and especially when someone’s life is on the line, there is absolutely no excuse for having paperwork that is anything but perfect. I’ve seen guys kicked out of their career (one a 17 year veteran, 3 years to go to retirement) for falsifying records. The testing lab needs to be held to an amazingly high standard, ESPECIALLY if cycling is to be kept clean. Even the suspicion of impropriety on the part of the lab makes booting real dopers less of a right thing to do.

Plus, there’s motive on the part of the French lab. 8 straight American wins? And an amazing comeback on the part of Landis? Incroyable! Sacre Bleu! N’est pas possible…

On the other side, getting off on procedure is complete and total BS, and identifying problems with the lab is something that teams should have a vested interest in BEFORE the racing season starts. An example (possibly too effective) is the interface with doping authorities that the Baseball and Football players’ unions have in the US. The tests and conduct are a part of their labor negotiations. Shoot, the scientists’ and engineers’ union that represents me has a say in the drug testing that we have on our jobs. Cyclists should have the right to have a say in the process too.

But, that’s BEFORE a positive result comes back. After the test comes back – well, sometimes the best thing for everyone in the long run is to take a bullet. Is a clean sport worth a couple of ended careers? Even assuming Floyd’s guilty, isn’t it possible that a couple of folks who popped positive have really been innocent? That’s a tough call.

In any case, it’s in the history books now. Landis’ legal bills are staggering; I’m considering a donation to the Floyd Fairness Fund. I’m really still not sure if he’s a doper or not, but I do know that he’s been publicly outspoken against doping, and is a heck of a rider. He’s also a human being, and it’d suck to be fiscally ruined by a mistake. Plus, I’d kind of like him to appeal to keep the media scrutiny on the world’s anti-dope testing labs. They need to be cleansed of any suspicion that there could be a false positive.

Hobbit Day

Happy Hobbit Day! JRR Tolkien published The Hobbitt on 21 September, 1937. 70 years of bare feet, Smaug, and “Those who wander” not being lost.

And, it’s the last day with more daylight than darkness for a long, long six months.

F’n Windows

So, for whatever reason, the Windows installation I’ve been using in Parallels on my MacBook decided that it needed to be re-activated. Not only wouldn’t it do the direct phoning-home when I was starting it up, but it initially declined to give me the proper confirmation code to feed to the operator.

Eventually, she hooked me up, but it required approximately 30 minutes and exchanging two 56 digit numbers.

I am livid.

Freakin’ Awesome!

Man, there are some days when running’s a pain, and other days, like for me this Saturday, when it’s the absolute greatest thing in the world. Then today strikes, and I’m in the throes of a week that’s been greater than anything in a long time.

For what it’s worth, I’m astounded that I haven’t blogged about Saturday’s run, as it was phenomenal. Good things can happen when sneakers are strapped on, dear readers. Good things. I managed to eak out 20 miles last week, and it didn’t feel like a thing.

This week is off to a kind of inauspicious start – I’m busy, busy, and my schedule’s thrown off kilter. So, I’ve had a three day break after the great week last week. But I think I can salvage it. I have, interstingly enough, done pushups and crunches two of the three days, though.

Interestingly enough, though, I’m far more invested in Melissa’s 20 miler this weekend in preparation for Hartford than I am in anything else going on in my life. I’m completely pumped for her.