Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Even though I don't really do anything for Halloween (other than dress like a nerd, but I do that every day...), and I don't have kids who are celebrating, I still feel the need to wish one and all a very Happy Halloween.

I was talking with a co-worker today--back when I was growing up (OMG now I sound like An Old Man!!!), you always knew proper Halloween etiquette...don't go to a house if the front porch light is on; if it's on, knock and say "Trick or Treat!" when the person opens the door; and always always ALWAYS say "thank you" for whatever treat you get (I even had to say 'thank you' to Mrs S in my hometown even tho she gave me a stale popcorn ball and all the other kids got FULL SIZED Snickers bars but I'm NOT bitter about it to this very day...).

Today, it's all weird. First, we live in a decent neighborhood that's on the other side of the city from the "bad part of town" (OMG now I am an old man and a snob!), and we get a large influx of kids who come from the other side of town...just because the folks in my 'hood hand out good candy. WTH, kiddies, trick or treat in your own neighborhood! We've had a few years where we've turned the porch light out--but we get as many doorbell rings as we do in the years where we have it on! And to top it off--you open the door, the kids just stand there and stick their bags "trick or treat," no "thank you", nada zero zip zilch. Snowelf I hope you are raising your kids better than this! HA HA HA!

Anyway...we still hand out candy some years, although tonight we have plans to be away from home. The good part is that (knock on wood) we've never gotten egged, or TP'ed, or "tricked" in any way so far, even the years where the lights are out.

I hope everyone reading, and all their kiddies, have a safe, happy, and fun Halloween...

More later...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Porter Wagoner, RIP

The country music world lost a legend over the weekend with the passing of Porter Wagoner at the age of 80 (ABC News story here).

If you don't know much about me, you may not be aware that I've become a huge country music fan over the past 6 years or so...and please, friends, don't hold that against me! (C: I'm more of a fan of the newer stuff--Trace Adkins, Montgomery Gentry, Miranda Lambert, etc. Having said that, I also appreciate Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Bocephus, and Willie Nelson.

I'll admit to not being that familiar with Porter's music, but I'll cruise over to iTunes now (as I'm sure many are doing) to see what they have of his in their catalog. But what gets to me about his passing is that the "old greats" aren't getting any younger. We've already lost Johnny Cash and Waylon, Willie is in his 70s, and Hank Williams Jr. (a.k.a. "Bocephus" is approaching 60).

They truly do not make stars like these guys any more. It makes me wonder--will a Garth Brooks or Toby Keith still be going strong 30 years from now? Not to take anything away from them, it's just that I don't think they have the staying power of the classic artists.

I guess that's why these folks are the classics...

More later...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Go Red Sox!

OK, nothing like jumping on the BoSox bandwagon at the last possible minute, but here I go. It hit me today when I was out running...

  • The Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 1916.
  • The White Sox won a year later.
  • Boston won the World Series in 2004--a drought of 86 years.
  • The White Sox won a year later in 2005--a drought of 86 years.
So...I figure if the Red Sox win tonight, that virtually guarantees a White Sox World Series winner next year. Right? (C:

OK, so I know the chances of that happening, especially the way the White Sox played this year, are about zilch. Still--with the way the 2005 season felt, it'd be nice to experience that again.

More later...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Oh yeah, I *do* still run...

A "twofer" today...but I just felt like it, and there are no blogging rules, so there...

I haven't written much about running since completing the marathon. However, I'm still a runner and am enjoying it much more now that the training pressure is off.

I took the first week after the marathon off--I walked 2 miles on the treadmill 2 days, that was it. My legs, especially my quads, were sore until about Thursday of that week. The next week I got in about 10 miles, and this week (assuming all works out OK) I'll have a 15-mile week.

I want to get a good base going for the next few weeks of 15 miles/week, and by the beginning of the year get up to 20 miles per week on a consistent basis. I'm toying with the idea of a spring marathon (either St. Louis or the Country Music Marathon in Nashville). Both of these also offer half marathons, so I may stick with HMs until I start training for Chicago...AGAIN! June of next year. But we'll see how it goes.

More later...

55FFF - the story arc begins

I was out running yesterday, and the beginnings of my 55FFF story arc started coming to me. If it comes out like I'm planning, it's gonna be good--intrigue, espionage, flashbacks, some quality kills, and (who knows) maybe even a little romance. I'm sure the story will develop on its own as I write it, but it starts now...


Chapter 1 - A Damsel in Distress

“CRAP”, she shouted out loud to no one. Not only was her car upside down in a pond, filling rapidly with water—but her cigarettes and lighter were completely ruined. “What a fricken’ day,” she moaned.

Her first thought—escaping the car. Second, leaving the area without leaving a trace. Third…revenge—cold, hard, and violent.


Oh and by the way--I made an executive decision that the chapter title information doesn't "count" as part of my 55 words. So there!

Whaddaya think? I bet it's way better than anything robertb could blog... :-0

More later...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The 10 Funniest, music

For various reasons, the wife and I both kinda had crappy, stressful days...her more than me, but still. I worked at home and was all prepared to be The Good Husband and fix dinner (and no, it wasn't just some lame straight-out-of-the-freezer-into-the-microwave thing...), but when she got home she says "Let's go out for dinner." When that happens mid-week, that usually indicates A Bad Day (what's up with All The Extra Capitalization Today? Hm...).

Now, to the topic relating to the post title...we got to talking about funny stuff, trying to lift each other's moods. We decided on a draft list of the 10 funniest words in the English language. Now, I'm sure in the clear light of day and on a blog page this won't be anywhere near as funny as it was last night. Still...I just felt the need to share. With that, here's what we came up with:

  1. spaz
  2. whacky
  3. dookie (OK maybe not a real word but HEY it's MY LIST!)
  4. trousers
  5. mime
  6. cacophony (when I was a kid I thought this was spelled "cacaphony", which is funny for two reasons--first, "caca"--HELLO!!! Second, I thought the emphasis was on the first syllable which would make it pronounced "KAKK-a-fony", which is way funnier than "kah-KOFF-eny." Still...I like my pronunciation better)
  7. Antidisestablishmentarianism (the longest word I knew when I was a kid, and the longest word that isn't a chemical here for a Wikipedia definition)
  8. spew
  9. pocketbook (WTH...does anyone even use that word any more?)
  10. stewardess (see parenthetical expression on #9)
So...that's that. I hope you found at least some of these amusing. I know they made us laugh...

Oh yeah, and regarding music--so with the recommendations of my good pals Snowelf and robertb, I got the new Radiohead...uh, what do you call it nowadays--record? CD? Recording? Anyway, I got it. Like robertb, I didn't pay anything for it for now--I'll see whether it grows on me or not.

More later...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What did you listen to today?

Maybe there are people with a more broad range of musical tastes than me, but I don't know any of them personally. I listen to everything from country, to Hawaiian, to classical, to...well, everything except for R&B and hip-hop. A week or so ago I bought The Best of Motorhead, so now I'm even getting into speed/thrash metal. At least a little bit.

On the way to work this morning, I had an itch to hear some Peter Gabriel for some reason, so I put on his greatest hits album called Shaking The Tree. When I crank up the older or more obscure stuff like this, I always wonder if there's anyone else in the US--or anyone else in the world, for that matter--is listening to the same music at the same time I am. If I ever find out someone is, I'd like to buy that person a beer.

When I was younger, I used to categorize and make judgments about people based on the type of music they listened to. I don't use that as my sole criterion these days, but it still figures into my overall picture of a person.

So, with that...what did you listen to on the way to work/school/errands/vacation today?

More later...

Friday, October 19, 2007

55 Flash Fiction Friday

A quick one, and not one of my better efforts--but I'm sitting in an airport right now getting ready to board a plane home, and I'd rather post a 55FFF than not. So, here goes...


He was absolutely stunned. “I’m going to be a dad,” he thought to himself. At 55, he figured his prime was past—never thinking that his 32 year old wife wasn’t past hers. He knew their life had been turned upside down, but he was so amazingly happy just then that he couldn’t contain himself…


Who knows...this may end up being the beginning of my story arc...

More later...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Been a few days... I sit in my hotel room...I'm traveling this week for work meetings. I've had early starts and late finishes every day, which wreaks havoc on my blogging efforts. I'm looking forward to tomorrow for two reasons--first, I get to fly home (YAY!), and second, it's Flash Fiction Friday. I've got a couple FFF story ideas lolling around in my head--I'm also thinking of a multi-week serial or story arc, but I won't start on that right now.

Not much to write now, as not much is going on. I have a 5K race this weekend, so it'll be nice to get back to competitive running (OK, not like I'm going to win or's more about besting my previous times). I'm also betting a 5K will seem pretty short, given some of the long-distance runs I've put in over the past few months...

More later...

Friday, October 12, 2007

55 Flash Fiction Friday

I picked up this idea from my good blogosphere friend Snowelf, who in turn picked it up from Susie. The rules for 55 Flash Fiction Friday are here...basically, write a short story in exactly 55 words. I always liked creative writing in school, and I feel (like a lot of people) that I've got the Great American Novel locked somewhere in my head. So until I get the smarts and the courage to start writing something longer, here's my first 55FFF attempt:


“Paris is all I thought it would be,” he mused. Sitting in a small cafĂ© in the Latin Quarter, he savored the cool, crisp late September air.

He lifted the demitasse cup, both smelling and tasting the deep rich espresso.

“Magnifique!” he said out loud, which brought a very un-Parisian smile to the waiter’s face.


So...that's that. What do you think?

More later...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Where DOES the time go?

So I looked at my last post, turns out it was 3 days ago. Where the heck did those 3 days go? Actually, I know...meetings, dinners out with work people, work, a little sleep, and more of the same. It's been a very busy week--one of my peers has a managers' meeting that I'm sitting in on, and I'm prepping for some travel next week.

Lisa started her new job this week--YAY. She's working for a company that creates and wholesales high-end pet clothes. It's a ground-floor opportunity, the woman running the company is a good friend of hers, and she loves animals so she's very excited to be where she is.

I also decided today, kind of spur of the moment, to start another blog. I'm really interested in photography and have some middling level of skill. So is my more-or-less daily post of some of my favorite pictures. The good news is I've got about 1500 pictures in my archive at home, so that's over 4 years of posts (assuming I like them all, and assuming I don't ever take another picture ever...neither of which will happen).

I've made new connections with a couple running-related bloggers, and made offline connections with a couple other bloggers. So I'm finding this blogosphere we all inhabit is a pretty cool and friendly place. Hope you all enjoy it.

More later...

Monday, October 8, 2007

Bad Japanese sci-fi from the '60s/'70s

Yeah, like there was any kind of sci-fi coming out of Japan in the 60's and 70's that was good...

I was poking around the iTunes store today when, much to my surprise, I found out they are now selling all 26 episodes of "Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot." Anyone out there remember this show...anyone?

When I was growing up we spent at least 1 weekend a month at my grandparents' house outside St. Louis. On Saturday afternoons the local UHF station KPLR (Channel 11) ran episodes of Johnny Sokko, Ultraman (my other favorite!), and old movies--Abbot and Costello, The Bowery Boys, and Charlie Chan.

I bought 3 episodes of Johnny Sokko and started watching them. I've got to say...they're awful. Just horrible--really bad special effects, lame story lines, evil characters straight out of central casting, etc. However, they bring back a lot of good memories of a time when I loved every second of every episode, and couldn't wait to see the next one. It's weird how things that seemed so great as a kid seem so lame now, but they still bring enjoyment.

So I'm curious--what's your favorite show from younger days?

More later...

I shaved my head for this????

So Saturday I went to my barber shop, got all my hair cut off, then shaved it down to the scalp. I figured it'd make me more aerodynamic (HA!), that it might help me stay cool, and...well, I've always wanted to shave my head at least once in my life.

The race yesterday started off well. It was warm at the starting line, and (of course) crowded, but seemed like it'd be a good day. I was overcome with emotion a few times--at the singing of the National Anthem, crossing under Columbus street bridge, etc.

The first two miles were good, and I got to the water stop in decent condition--good pace, feeling OK, etc. Unfortunately things started to go downhill from there. At the second water stop (approx. mile 4), there was no water, no Gatorade, no nothing except for empty cups and a whole bunch of thirsty (and upset!) runners.

From there, the aid stations were spotty--some had nothing, some had only water, etc. We had to rely on the kindness of strangers--the schools, restaurants, businesses, and people who lived along the route. Some brought water, some brought ice, and some sprinkled us with water from their garden hoses.

At about 14 miles, race officials told us they were closing the course because of the heat, humidity, and the fact that they'd run out of supplies at the aid stations. Several hundred were taken to hospitals and, unfortunately, a policeman from Michigan died on the course (coverage from the Chicago Tribune is here). I ended up jumping on a cooling bus at about the 16.5 mile mark. Traffic was so bad that, after about 20 minutes, I got off the bus and walked back to Grant Park (probably another couple miles). According to the official timing, I finished the half in 3:07 and was on pace for a 6:15 finish. That's well off of what I'd originally targeted, but again with the heat, humidity, and lack of hydration I did as well as could be expected.

Calling the race off was the right thing to do, but I believe a lot of the fault rests with the organizers of the marathon. They knew very early last week that the temps would be high, which means runners need more hydration. The fact that the aid stations ran out of supplies is, to me, inexcusable.

Now, on the up side...

  • I was blown away by the number of people who came out. There were people on every block of the race--sometimes standing 4 deep. Their shouts, cheers, and encouragement for people they didn't even know was a great morale boost.
  • I had encounters with several angels on the course--from the 3 people who loaned me their cell phones so I could keep in contact with Lisa, to the fellow runners with words of encouragement, to those people who spent their own time and money to bring refreshment to the runners.
  • I ran far. Not a full marathon, mind you, but farther than I've ever run in any competitive race in my life. Farther than I ever thought possible a few years ago.
  • I survived. I am tired and sore, but that'll pass with time, Advil, and some water.
So, that was it for my first marathon. I'm disappointed it didn't turn out like I expected but I'm trying to look for the good in it, and learn what I can for future races--whether they're full or half marathons, or just 5Ks. For now, though, running takes a bit of a back seat. I'll take some time off to recover, then start back slowly. I think I've earned the break.

More later...

Saturday, October 6, 2007

13 hours until race time...

I just got back from the health and sports expo and packet pickup for the Chicago Marathon. I'm pumped, excited, nervous, and scared to death all at the same time. The forecast for tomorrow is upper 80's--WBBM-AM (the local news radio station) says that this will be the warmest Marathon weather in its 30 year history, and we're set to break the high temp record that's stood since 1947. Great, just great...

Of course, what would the night before a marathon be without carbo-loading? We went to Maggiano's Little Italy in Oakbrook for a pasta- and bread-laden lunch. It's one of my favorite Italian places, and I have the same thing (angel hair with pomodoro, and a side of meatballs) just about every time I go. It did not disappoint today.

I still have to upload my pix from Munich, including some from Oktoberfest. I've also got a couple pix from the expo today, I'll get those up soon (probably sometime tomorrow). And you can pretty much bank on a post-race report tomorrow.

To all my friends, family, and fellow bloggers who are sending prayers/wishes/good thoughts my way, thank you. Your support and encouragement has meant more than any of you will ever know. I know I'm making a big deal out of the marathon--and I'm sure I've bored everyone with all the stories and anecdotes I have about it. I can't really tell you why this is such a big deal to me--I know why it is, but I can't really explain. You'll just have to trust me that it's a Super Big Deal for me, and please bear with me through the obsession, the self-centeredness, and the endless repetition of boring stories. I promise it'll mostly go away in another day or two. At least until my next marathon, if there is one. (C:

More later...