Yep. Tough week to scratch out time from work, believe it or not.

So tonight was 4 miles on the treadmill.

I so hate the treadmill.

But I hate being a slacker even more.

Ah, Amigos, Rest Assured I have not forgotten about you

Boys and girls, interesting times are afoot up here in Mystic. Spring is always a good time to be in New England, and an even better time to be a runner.

I had a whirlwind trip down to DC early last week, in which I got to catch up with my brother-in-law and his wonderful wife, and got to head up to the Sausage Factory (eg the Capitol, from the immortal quote which I’m too lazy to google, which goes along the lines of “It’s terrible to see what goes into both sausage and laws”). I managed to stay downtown, and got in a transcendent dawn run on the Mall, and tried as to be as loud as possible in the hotel hall, as it was full of whipper-snapper teens down for one of the many “see how government works” programs, which, near as I can tell, involves a lot of running between rooms and giggling at about midnight. But I had beer with the brother-in-law, and a good walk, and it really didn’t matter.

Saturday was Pinewood Derby, and it was outstanding. Jake’s (mostly) self-made car (I will dig up a picture, but all I did was rough out the shape with a table-saw and do a little light soldering) came in 5th out of 8, and that was without him doing anything to the wheels or axles. “But daddy, I want to paint it!” We also headed out to check out the YMCA camp over by Burlinggame State Park in Rhode Island. I’m sending the kids for pretty much as long as they want to go. The camp’s got all the cool “camp” stuff, like swimming and canoes and sports and lanyards and musty cabins, and none of that modern stuff like PowerPoint and DVDs. I’m sold.

The boys and I followed up a little time in the woods with a hike over at the Ninengret National Wildlife Refuge, and a trip up to URE outfitters to buy a fishing license. The hike rocked – it was brisk and windy, but there was no whining by the boys, and on the way back,

Jake said “Dad, can I run back to the car?”

“Sure”, I said, “just turn around and run back to us when you get there”.

Off he went. Nate and I continued to stroll, and Jake met up with us a little quicker than I’d expected. “Did you make it all the way back?”

“Yep. I did stop to read the sign for a while, though, so I didn’t run right back”. Man, fast, and honest, too.

I finished up Saturday with 5 miles. It was supposed to be 4 miles in preparation for a long run on Sunday, but I took a new route, took a different turn to do some exploring, and added another mile. I didn’t make the long run on Sunday, but I did a bunch of walking after church, so I think it’ll all come out in the wash.

Now it’s Monday, and I’m feeling rested, excited, and pretty fired up about being able to get back on track. I hit the gym with my officemate at lunch. Calisthenics and some time on the exercise bike are good for what ails you.

Literary List Meme

I got this meme from RandomDuck, who got it from Sprite. Rules are simple – Bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you’d like to read. My value add? Snide comments.

  1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown) – Wow, do I wish I had these two evenings back. Brown was clearly writing this with a screenplay in mind. Which explains why his dialog is terrible, characters are one dimensional, and most of the book consists of his re-hashing what are the important clues so a half-drunk producer could follow the story while a wanna-be starlet hung on each arm. But other than that, it was OK.
  2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen) Only after watching it on PBS can I admit I’m finally intrigued to read it.
  3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee) – This one gets a little bit confusing. I’ve read it, just like everyone who’s made it out of seventh grade since about 1970. But I read it as a 7th grader, and a little bit has changed. Well, except for still thinking farts are funny.
  4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell) – Even longer than the movie
  5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
  6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
  7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien) – You lose your geek card if you haven’t read these. Truth be told, I didn’t read these completely until after I was out of college. All the different characters kind of ran together for me. I’m all about books with just a couple of well developed characters – Tolkien was just a bit too in depth for my tastes. Now that I’ve read them, though, they’re completely worth reading.
  8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery) – no interest
  9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
  10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry) – First one I haven’t even heard of
  11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling) – I’m working through these with my oldest son. Cannot wait for evenings warm enough to sit out and read on the porch again.
  12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown) – Surprisingly gripping. I read it before I read the DaVinci code. It’s kind of like comparing early Tom Clancy (Red Storm Rising, Hunt for Red October) to the stuff he published after he realized he could print million-dollar-bills just by throwing out a couple hundred pages.
  13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling) – There’s some folks who would group Rowling in the same category as Dan Brown and Clancy (sequels for cash’s sake). I can’t. I also can’t read this book to the boy until he’s like 10 or 11.
  14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving) – #2 haven’t heard of.
  15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden) – Straight up no interest
  16. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Rowling) – I’m still disappointed that this wasn’t released as “The Philosopher’s Stone” here in the States. As if we’re too dumb to read legend.
  17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald) – #3 no clue.
  18. The Stand (Stephen King) – I read a lot of Stephen King in high school, as I was fascinated by the Gunslinger trilogy. With the exception of the Gunslinger books, the rest of it (this one included) left me cold.
  19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling) – Probably the last one I’d read to a kid younger than middle school.
  20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) – Sorry, just no interest
  21. The Hobbit (Tolkien) – I did make it through this one in high school, and again after I finished the LotR a couple of years ago. I prefer it to the LotR, likely due to it having a much easier plot to follow.
  22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) – Read it. Loved it. Won’t buy a copy of it.
  23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
  24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold) – No clue #4
  25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel) – Picked this up, and put it down rapidly when I realized it had nothing to do with math. No, seriously.
  26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) – Interestingly enough, the passage in here about the BabelFish is what got me to go back to church, and what squared evolution and religion with me as being able to co-exist. This has got to be one of my absolute, all-time, most favorite books.
  27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte) – Zero interest
  28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis) – I loved, LOVED the Chronicles as a kid. But I’ve got zero interest to go back and read them as an adult, because I’m petrified that I’d be disappointed. These are books I’ll give to the boys, but will probably stay away from myself.
  29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck) – I’ll leave this as a “like to” read, with only about a 25% chance of ever getting done. I think I’m scared from reading The Grapes of Wrath and not liking it.
  30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom) – less than zero interest.
  31. Dune (Frank Herbert) – What was that about Geek Cred? I think Sting in a speedo put me off of wanting to read this.
  32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks) – dunno – I think I’ve got a mental block against both Victorian and modern fiction.
  33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) – The only Ayn Rand I’ve read is the short one. I’ve picked up Atlas many, many times, but it makes my arms tired. This one is about a 50% probability of read in the next 5 years.
  34. 1984 (Orwell) – Interestingly enough, I finished this again last week. I know exactly now why They make us read it in middle school – that way, we think we grok totalitarianism, and never realize that it’s sneaking up on us as adults.
  35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley) – No clue #5
  36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett) – No clue #6
  37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay) – No clue #7
  38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb) – No interest
  39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant) – The wife did this one with her book club. I’m intrigued.
  40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho) – Interesting title. I’ll google it later.
  41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel) – After an awkward screening of this in Mrs. Round’s class sophomore year, I ran out and read it. And was promptly disappointed that high school girls apparently don’t understand sign language.
  42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini) – Heard this guy on Fresh Air. He sounds pretty interesting.
  43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella) – No interest, but mostly ’cause I’m nowhere near her demographic
  44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom) – no, no, no, no, no!
  45. Bible – I suppose it just means I’m getting old, but I find great comfort in Psalms and in the Gospels.
  46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy) – There are bits of Tolstoy I’m interested in reading, but this isn’t one of them.
  47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas) – Good sandwich
  48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt) – I may run screaming from the room….
  49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) – See above.
  50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb) – nope.
  51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver) – I’m tempted to flag this one, but won’t out of honesty.
  52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens) – I’ll throw in the obligatory “It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times … Stupid monkeys!” Ought to go back and re-read this. All I remember is that it went on long enough to make me root for the Russians.
  53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card) – Freakin’ amazing. I didn’t read this as a kid, but cannot for the life of me figure out why not. I would have been SO into this.
  54. Great Expectations (Dickens) – Actually, maybe it was this one I read. Or both – it just goes on and on and on and on and on…
  55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald) – Man, if I could pick one novel that I wish I’d written, this would be close to the top of the list. Navel-gazing supreme, lushes – F. Scott ought to be a prophet for Gen X, ‘cept not.
  56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence) – No clue #8
  57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling) – (Insert more lavish praise here)
  58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough) – I’m forever scarred by seeing this as a miniseries, so will likely never read it.
  59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood) – Anyone who rips off Chaucer is good for a possible read.
  60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger) – Time travel and women? What engineer wouldn’t want to read it.
  61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky) – I’ve read it, but can’t remember it. This is a novel I’d like to know.
  62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand) – I can’t figure out why the Young Conservatives didn’t kick me out for not having read this.
  63. War and Peace (Tolstoy) – I’ll include this, but only as a 25%-er.
  64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice) – I read this only because I KNEW it couldn’t be nearly so bad as the movie was.
  65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis) – No clue #9
  66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) – Highly recommended. I was surprised I liked it as much as I did.
  67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares) – Zero interest.
  68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller) – THis probably had as much influence on making me a cynic as anything.
  69. Les Miserables (Hugo) – Saw the Musical on Broadway. Hated it. Won’t be able to get past that enough to read the original.
  70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) – Ought to read this to the boys.
  71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding) – My wife bought it. I enjoyed it.
  72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez) – Ought to read it since I enjoyed 100 years.
  73. Shogun (James Clavell) – Want to read it, as I’m beginning to get obsessed with Asia.
  74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje) – This came up via a new acquaintance of mine this weekend. There was a bit from it where a Sihk is working for the British, but only until he’s got his own country. The guy spun it as an interesting take on globalization.
  75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) – This one falls under the “Not quite sure why I’m interested, but I am” file.
  76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay) – No clue #10 (I was hoping to keep that less than 10%, but it looks not to happen.
  77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith) – If only to help sort out hip-hop references. That, and to feed my obsession with NYC.
  78. The World According To Garp (John Irving) – No interest. I’ve seen the movie.
  79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence) – No clue #11.
  80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White) – Hated reading this to the boys, ’cause I kept getting all choked up.
  81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley) – No clue #12
  82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck) – Didn’t like it.
  83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier) – No interest
  84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind) – I’ll steer the boys towards it, but won’t pursue it myself.
  85. Emma (Jane Austen) – Let’s see how Pride and Prejudice goes first.
  86. Watership Down (Richard Adams) – Great, great book, and an even better post-psychedelic cartoon adaptation from the 70’s.
  87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) – Read it in college instead of doing calculus one night. Somehow wasn’t as liberating in the early ’90s following AIDs.
  88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields) – No clue #12.
  89. Blindness (Jose Saramago) – No clue #13
  90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer) – No clue #14
  91. The Skin of the Lion (Ondaatje) – Let’s see how the English Patient goes first.
  92. Lord of the Flies (Golding) – I think my childhood was way too guarded, ’cause I couldn’t identify with the kids at all. Not even poor Piggy.
  93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck) – I tried going back to re-read this on the theory that i missed something the first time around, back in High School. Got bored the second time around, too. Put it down, as I didn’t have to write an essay about it.
  94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd) – The secret? They’re insects. No interest.
  95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum) – I go back and forth on this. I’m kind of intrigued, only ’cause I haven’t read any Ludlum. But the novel dates from the mid-70’s, with lots of post-Vietnam angst.
  96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton) – No interest
  97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch) – Bad movie killed all interest.
  98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)- No clue #15
  99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield) – Absolutely zero interest. New ageness has passed me over.
  100. Ulysses (James Joyce) – Brilliant. I’ve tried to crib off of

So, there’s that. Books that I would add (All books that I’ve read):

  1. Moby Dick (Melville) – Even if you skip the technical bits about whaling, it’s a great read that’s been grossly misrepresented. NPR had a great bit on it today.
  2. Snow Crash (Stephenson) – Before he got long winded, he got inspired. I’m a huge fan of Neal Stephenson’s recent Baroque trilogy, but cannot recommend it based on sheer mass. Snow Crash I’m happy to thrust upon people because it’s visionary and an extremely easy read. Plus, it fits with my personal vision of the coming dystopia.
  3. True Names (Vinge) – I’ll try to limit the amount of sci-fi that I add, but this one is really, really short, and unbelievably prescient for having been written in the late 70’s.
  4. Still Life with Woodpecker (Robbins) – Gonzo fiction, but completely worth reading due to the discussions on “Choice” and neotony.
  5. Shakespeare in general; Henry V and Hamlet in particular – Henry V blew me away a couple of months ago. Great discussion here (and Lydon’s podcasting again.)
  6. Galloway’s Book on Running (Galloway) – Hey, this is a running blog. Even though it’s been around the block a couple of times, Galloway’s book still stands out for being Accessible and practical – written for people who want to run rather than runners.
  7. Trout (Prosek) – There is art afoot
  8. A River Runs Through It (Maclean) – Which, surprisingly, isn’t really about fishing. Worth the read if only for the sentence about “As a Scot and a Presbyterian, my father believed that man by nature was a mess and had fallen from an original state of grace.” and “My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things – trout as well as eternal salvation – come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.”
  9. The Iliad (Homer) – It’s amazing how universal humanity is, that an almost pre-historic work can still speak. I keep meaning to read the Odyssey, but can’t get around to it.
  10. The Prince (Machivelli) – Sometimes I wonder how anyone else can write another book on political science.
  11. The Art of War (Sun Tzu) – See the Iliad.

So that’s it. Heh – maybe this should count as my 100 things about me list. Mostly, though, I’m interested to see what other books folks would include.

Nike+ iPod Touch (iPhone) musings

While I was looking for info on if the iPod SDK (Software Developer’s Kit) was going to get me Nike+ on my shiny new Touch, I unearthed iPod Fitness Center, which has a pretty cool interface for pulling Nike+ data over the iPod touch.

My personal thought is that Apple’s not going to support Nike+ on the Touch. First, the entire Nike+ site is built in Flash, which isn’t supported on the iPhone/Touch. Second, Apple’s been pretty conservative in the iPods that they’ve openly endorsed running with – pretty much just the Nano. I think that this is a risk management thing for them. By using the smallest, ruggedest iPod with a display for their high impact activities, they’re minimizing their exposure to 1) consumer rage after an iPod gets dropped or broken during a workout; and 2) false repair claims for folks who are willing to say “Yeah, it was just sitting there and the display broke”.

I’d love to see Nike+ supported on the Touch/iPhone. The hardware’s phenomenal, and with built-in WiFi on the devices, there’s the possibility of posting workouts directly to Nike.

So, folks out there in Cupertino and Beaverton, if you need folks to beta test Nike+ for the Touch, I’ve got the hardware, I’m a relatively consistent runner, and I would give my left nut to get in on the deal.

Thanks for your time.

So, it turns out I AM still a runner

I actually made a long run this weekend, without having to beg, borrow and cheat to claim credit. Which isn’t to say that I had a successful week – I only got in one run, but I spent some quality time in the gym on the stationary bike, did a lot of walking at work, and generally managed only to put on a pound or so…

Yeah, that’s the sad truth. I’m averaging much closer to 175 than to 170. But, Runner’s World this month was all about weight loss, so, I think that the food journal is going to start again on Monday. Although today probably wouldn’t be an awful day to start.

Anyway, the run was exquisite. I finished up a bunch of errands (taught Sunday School, church, had a teacher’s meeting, did some troubleshooting and software education in support of next weekend’s pinewood derby, ran errands with the boys, etc) and headed out while Missy was fixing supper (she did her run – 8 miles, a short one while the boys and I were at the hardware store). I strapped on the sneakers, and headed down the hill towards Old Mystic.

I had in my head I was going to do the full-up Mystic River Loop, so I headed down the Stonington side of the river. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t feeling so terribly great as I headed under the IH-95 bridge, which is about the last point to bail and not have a farther run as an out-n-back than taking one of the bailout points after crossing the drawbridge. But, I figured I owed it to myself to press on, as it’s a few short weeks until I get to see the Doc’s kiddos, and race the OKC Half. If I don’t start sucking up some of this stuff, and running all regular and like, I’m gonna die trying to do 13.1.

So, I soldiered on, and as I passed the big Cemetary, suddenly, the legs felt great.

In truth, the run was exceptional – one of those where from time to time you get completely absorbed in your thoughts. I’ll be honest, I have absolutely no recollection of the stretch from IH-95 to the Seaport, or from the curve on River Road just after Bindloss until I was well north of IH-95. Not sure if it was just good tunes on the iPod, or if I was working through something from the office. Either way, it was nice to be lost in the reverie.

When I got to Bindloss, there’s usually a little bit of thought that I do trying to figure if I ought to head over the hill and cut the run short, of if I should gut it out, head up to Old Mystic, and add about 1.5 miles. Today, there was no thought – I was taking the road requiring more travel, and that probably made all the difference. Going back and looking at it in Nike+, I did the first 4 miles exceptionally consistently – solid 8:45s, and only slowed to 9:22s for the last three miles.

The last mile felt great. I tried to pick it up a bit, not that the record shows it. That section is all uphill, though, so maybe it wouldn’t show…

Anyway, I made it, without walking at all, and felt pretty darn good for the last 5 miles. My legs, when I make them work, seem to do pretty good.

Interesting tidbit – the average Nike+ run is 3.1 miles long. Which makes me feel really good. as I’ve averaged a little less than 4 miles per run.

Life looks to be returning to normal this week. I should be making the virtual rounds later. In the mean time, check out the Wilco concert over at NPR’s All Songs Considered.

Continue reading So, it turns out I AM still a runner

Voyeur 2.0

So, I’m pretty hesitant, overall, to kick folks while they’re down, but this is just so completely surreal and 21st century that I can’t pass it up.

My name is Rachel and my (now ex) boyfriend, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, just broke up with me via an announcement on Wikipedia. It was such a classy move that I was inspired to do something equally classy myself, so I’m selling a couple of items of clothing he left behind, here in my NYC apartment, on eBay. Jimbo was supposed to come visit me in a couple of weeks and pick up some of his stuff, but obviously that won’t be happening now. [From Jimbo Wales dumps lover on Wikipedia | The Register]

Ah, when Missy finally wises up and leaves me, I am completely sure I will be eating some similar crow.