Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sharing the wealth

Ever 'meet' people online and wonder if they are really what/who they say they are? Nah, me either. I pretty much go at the web like a kid at Chuck-E-Cheese: no limits, every thing is good, there are no liars.
Like you, I have had my fair share of phoney people online, businesses who want to sell me more crap (did you know that there is one for men AND women???) Seriously. Stair climber? I get it. It simulates stairs. Treadmill? Though I am still learning to love you, I get you. You simulates running outside. But the Shake Weight? It simulates, well.....something that already simulates something else. What gives?
But I digress. And now I need a cold shower. Wait. What? Nevermind. (Sorry, Mom!)
I really wanted to talk about some people who I have found to be genuine. The list here is not all conclusive, and please don't hate me if you think that you .....nevermind. no disclaimers. This is MY blog. if i want it to be all inclusive, or not, that's my, my, myyyy perogative.
Without (much) further ado, here is a short list of other bloggers/tweeps who have made a lasting, positive impact on my 2010. (In no particular order). (honestly).
  • Adam (@theboringrunner) theboringrunner.com. This guy cracks me up, allthewhile amazing me with his running. His wife just had a baby boy early in December. Check him out if you aren't already a fan!
  • Miz (@mizfitonline) mizfitonline.com. She spoke up when i was looking for a guide to run with in Las Vegas. She let me do a guest post on her web site, and we chat about our kids and other things quite a bit. Very, VERY inspirational lady. (if you don't know her already, chances are it is because you live under a rock). Or over seas....
  • Which brings me to jogblog (@jogblog, @janathon_). Cathy is a witty lady with a unique writing style. Her running stories can be enjoyed at http://www.jog-blog.co.uk/, and her veggie recipes can be...also enjoyed...at Planet Veggie. I've tried a soup from her, and it was even a hit with our 13 year old! (WIN!)
  • Sean (@audiofuel) from audiofuel.co.uk is great, too. He co-founded a company that produces music to run by, at certain beats per minute, to help you keep your pace. They have some interval workouts that really get my heart pumping and my legs churning! Cheers, Sean!
    this is Jamoosh, NOT Tricia. duh.
  • Jamoosh. Where would 2010 be without his Last Mile Lounge? I really appreciate how he makes the rounds and comments on my blog from time to time. Jamoosh also got us off the couch for a while and onto the floor with his hard CORE club. Loved it!
  • I was introduced to Tricia (@triciarunning) from http://www.enduranceisntonlyphysical.com/ when I (foolishly) signed up for Mel's 1000+ club. Tricia contacted me as my 'coach'. At the time, she was wearing a protective boot because she hurt her foot trying to keep up with Dash or some such. Later this year she ran a MARATHON in TX. Oh, and come to find out, when she lived in FL, she lived right down the road from my parents. (I've never been there, they tell me it's nice! -j. walsh-)
  • Ok, just a few more, i promise.
  • Ryan (@nomorebacon, http://www.nomorebacon.com/) and Josie (@yumyucky, http://www.yumyucky.com/) have helped to keep me laughing this fall, and even offered some tech tips that I have acutally used. Nice. They collectively have a site called FitBloggersGuide. Check it out, YO!
  • Katy (@kwidrick, http://www.katywidrick.com/) has great ideas about social media. She is the executive producer of a show called "Growing Bolder". Find it on your TV listings and set your DVR!
  • Rachel (@rachelgettingit, http://www.rachelwilkerson.com/). She has tossed out some topics this year that were fun to be a part of. One of them was Sorry I'm Not Sorry, and another was about "owning it". whoops. same link. surprise Two-Fer~!)
Ok. before this gets to sounding too much like just a name dropping post, I want to add that all of these people helped to keep me "accountable" this year, which is the whole point of my blog. There are more who I will thank, but I think I'll save those for an early post in 2011. (@neilzee, @runthruphoenix, SUAR, @MMNorthDallas, etc., etc., ad infinitum)

HOWEVER, the person who deserves the MOST CREDIT FOR ALL OF IT is my Lovely Wife, Tracey. I'd add her twitter thingy and her blog, but she doesn't have one yet. YET. Stay tuned, 2011, straaaange things are going to happen!

Thank you, all of you. ((hugs)) anahahahahahahhaa........

Thursday, December 23, 2010

That kinda day....

I was going through files on my computer at work, hoping to find something that would spark me for today's post. I found it, but it isn't mine. I honestly can't remember where I first saw it. Something tells me that it was from Jamoosh, but I wouldn't bet on it. I wrote a little introductory paragraph, then updated our Wellness Team's intranet site with it. Owing to the fact that I am a bit lazy today and don't really want to be here, I am just going to copy and past that entry into this blog. So now you have a little insight into my day.
It will get better, I know, as soon as I can be home with the family.
That kinda day.....

Wellness shouldn't be all "do this and not that". We will all find our groove. It is a journey, right? Every once in a while, though, it is nice to have some guideance to make sure that we are still on the path that we want to be on. To that end, I offer you some signs that your workout plan isn't going to be as effective as you hoped:

Signs You’re Not Giving 100% During Your Workout
•Clothes actually smell better after you’re finished
•You just logged a .5K run
•Personal trainer keeps using you as example of what not to do
•Favorite machine:  ElevatorMaster (ed. note: do they sell these at Sears?)
•You have to ask somebody which direction to walk on treadmill
•You’re using an inflatable kettlebell
•According to elliptical readout, you almost burned a calorie
•You spend 95% of your workout time “limbering up”
•You rest so long between sit-ups that a nurse walking by starts performing CPR on you
•You carry a water bottle packed with cherry pie filling
•You work out in penny loafers
•Gym nickname:  “Creampuff”
•You leave car running during your workout
•Favorite workout playlist on your iPod is nothing but lullabyes
•Your gluteus never seems to get any less maximus
•Heart rate monitor continuously flatlines (ed. note: asystole is a stable rhythm)
•Your “yoga” is just you sitting Indian-style and working a sudoku puzzle

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"you can't make a splash without a ripple"

first off, if you haven't decided to give up a cup of coffee and give the $$ to Operation Jack (see below), what are you waiting for? Please help! Thank you.

Alrighty then. I can't think of much brilliance today, but here's what i do got. (heh):
Quite often, your actions or inactions have an impact that reaches farther than your nose. What do I mean? Please allow me to 'pick on' our middle dude, Z, to help illustrate this point.
Tip: don't try this at home. Yesterday the little prankster decided to test the laws of gravity in his school's Art Room by chucking a clump of clay at the ceiling. Guess what? It stuck! (or didn't. i don't know the details, only that he got in trouble).
Subsequently I received a text message from Tracey while I was at work,
T: "Z got in trouble at school."
G: "is he ok?"
T: "he is fine. fooling around in art class."
G: "no surprise, really. he has trouble staying focused in that class. i can relate."
T: "he has detention tomorrow at 7am."
G: "......."
Needless to say I was not happy. What ever happened to after school detentions? Seriously. Times, how they are a-changin'. And for the record, the torture repremand I got at home for the trouble that i got into at school was MUCH more of a deterrant than the detention. Heck, the detention was an hour LESS that I'd have to spend in the small closet under the stairs trouble once I got home...
So i brought the bugger to school this morning, but we had to call the front office from the curb because the doors were locked. A nice admin lady came and let him in, out of the chilly air. Off i went to work, thinking about the 'ripple effect'.
Most of us don't live in a vaccum, so pretty much everything that we do on a daily basis has some sort of impact (positive or negative) on some one else's life. I don't think that I have to go into examples, but I will if you shoot me an email and let me know. At any rate, today I have been spending some time reflecting on what ripples i have caused over the past year. As a twitter buddy put it, "So do you take the bait, and make new years resolutions? I have in the past and they've never stuck. This year I just reflect." -@jpnagan-
Some of my ripples were not all that positive. For these, I apologize. This year was better than many in the past, so that's progress, but I still strive to do better. And that's all i'm gonna say about the negative ones.
On with the positive! I inspired many people who i work with to start eating better. Some of them have even started to exercise more. I'd like to think that I was motivational in getting Tracey to take up Zumba. My parents are both more active now than they have been in several years, and they look great and say that they feel great, too, both physically and mentally. I love it.
But I can't take credit for starting these ripples. well, maybe i can, but the ones that got ME going, in large part, started with the online communities to which I belong. Yes, dear reader, that is YOU. While the above picture of a ripple sums up what one looks like in a small body of water, alone, I think that this one more accurately depicts our situation(s):
Each instance of rippling impacts the one next to it, then the one next to that, then on and on. Each time an event occurs (in this case a rain-drop), a ripple is started. maybe that ripple leads to a devastating flood. perhaps it leads to just enough water in the trough to provide for the farm. perhaps it prompts people to run out and get an umbrella. Point is, the same sourse can produce many ripples that can impact many others. I prefer the ripple effect over the domino effect. once the impetus for the ripple is removed, all is calm, all is bright (see what i did there! NICE.....). remove the source from a row of dominoes, and the pieces are still left scattered about.

Are you mindful of the ripples you cause, and the ones that others cause that impact you? Reflect on it...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Operation Jack

I have tried 2 fund raisers since starting this blog. In the first one, the only $ i raised was from my pocket and my cousin's pocket. She was doing a fundraiser for the American Heart Assoc., so we agreed to give each other $. During the second one, Movember, I managed to raise only my money. This is ok, actually, since I am not very good at soliciting. I was 'ok' with the amount.
This time, though, is different. Forget the fact that this solicitation comes at the last minute. Forget that Christmas is 'right around the corner'. Forget that for the most part we've never actually met. Forget all that.
AND, here's the big one, forget that cuppa Double Mocha Cappuccino with Almond Milk and a twist of lemon (a la Serge).
Click here, instead, and give that same amount to help Operation Jack fight Autism. Here are some numbers:

  • It is estimated that between 1 in 80 and 1 in 240 with an average of 1 in 110 children in the United States have an ASD. (article here).
  • ASDs are reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, yet are on average 4 to 5 times more likely to occur in boys than in girls. (article here).
  • Dowload a fact sheet from the CDC here.
Enough numbers for you? I hope so, because my head is spinning already. Let's get together and help Operation Jack. I know that there are two families who read this blog that are impacted daily by sons with an ASD. I know that there is at least one reader who works with kids who have this diagnosis.
Isn't it worth skipping a "Lahge reglah" ('large regular' here in New England) just once and supporting this cause rather than your local coffee vendor?
Thank you very much for anything that you can do to help.
Oh, did i mention that for those of you who want a little extra bang for your buck(s), I'll be participating in a nation wide virtual 10K event to raise awareness for Operation Jack on 26 DEC 10. So, see? I'll be out in the cold, torturing myself. All you have to do is click on my links and spend like 3 bucks. Yep. We're trying to get at least one person in each state to participate, and I am stepping up for the Republic of Vermont!

Follow This Link to visit my personal web page and help me in my efforts to support Train 4 Autism.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

why bestbuy dot com is NOT the best buy

"caveat emptor". pretty much the only Latin that I remember from school. and that, my friends, is the topic of today's posting.
I am closing the barn door after the cows have gotten out, but i feel that this still needs to be said. Here is a very sad and horrible story that was relayed to me just now by my darling wife, Tracey. I'll do my best to convey her anger, but believe me, i won't even come close....

Earlier this month she ordered some gifts from bestbuy dot com since the items were not available in our local store. I'm sure that you, too, have done this. No big deal, right? Well, this case was different.
We get our mail delivered to a PO Box, since there is no home delivery in our neighborhood. This usually isn't a problem, except when we order something that is shipped UPS or FEDEX, since they won't deliver to one of these (foreshadowing):
Call me crazy, but they won't. Their shipping form won't allow it. So we have no choice but to put in the physical addy, which doesn't show up in any system. We have to force a different town and zone improvement plan (ZIP) code in order to have items delivered via UPS or such. Confused yet? Wait, it gets 'better'.
UPS is the carrier that best (not really) buy dot com uses. Fine. We've been down this road before. So Tracey filled out the form appropriately. But the package never came. Online tracking and email notification showed that it was shipped 8 DEC. Here we are on the 20th, and no package. NADA. Not even one that had gotten mis-delivered to the neighbour's house. So she called BB, and was told that UPS had handed the package off to the United States Postal Service (USPS). Having inside knowledge, we know that this sort of thing happens more often than the public knows. Are you starting to see how this is about to unravel?
So if USPS has the package, but can't deliver to our house (the physical address used by UPS doesn't really exist, @ least not in the minds of the USPS), what do you suppose happened to the package?

That's right. It was RETURNED TO BEST BUY ON THE 15TH. But no one told us. FIVE DAYS LATER we find out, only because Tracey called to check on it. So we have no items. The nice lady on the phone suggested that Tracey re-order the items. Ummmm....HELLLLLOOOO!!??? we'll just be in the same boat. duh.
Then Tracey got transfered (or something. she was talking so fast and was getting madder and madder that I was having a hard time keeping up!) to some other genius, and had to tell the story all over again. Mind you, this is all happening while Tracey is at work. Those of you with kids: Have you ever noticed that your offspring can be so calm, peaceful, and content until the second they see that thing behing held up to your head (no, not a gun. a PHONE)? Alright. now imagine this TIMES 6.
By now, I am sure that Tracey looked a bit like this lady, and things weren't going to get better any time soon. The brainiac said that she should just cancel the online order and go to the store. Duuuuh, the store doesn't have it, so that's why we did the dot com thing. "Oh", he says. "Well, i can't help you."
"how about i order it and have it sent to the store for pick up?" "nope. can't do that. perhaps you can have it sent to your house via UPS." "or", said Tracey, "perhaps i can order it sent to your proctologist and he can shove your idea up your ass. but wait, there isn't any room. it is occupied by your HEAD." i swear she said that. I DID NOT just make it up.
Ok, I did. I made it up. She probably said something more like, "please let me speak with someone higher up."
get this, the dufus claimed that he WAS the highest up, and that there wasn't anyone to talk to. what did my lovely wife say to that? here's the best part:
"I doubt that the CEO is answering calls in the customer service center, so there HAS TO BE someone higher than you. You have made a very unsatisfied customer today. I will be telling all of my friends and family NOT to shop at BB any more and I have a BLOG, and I'll be writing about this today. Feel good that you have made many, many people not want to shop at best buy dot com."
He then hung up on her.

So, I hope that you have had better experiences with this company. Beware, though, that UPS will often dump their packages at the post office. If your delivery has glitches like our neighbourhood does, 'caveat emptor', my friends!

Saturday, December 18, 2010


now before my cousin gets herself all in a tizzy, YES, i checked with the band to see that it was alright to use those letters in that order up there in the title. B'lieve you me, she's keen on watching out for those things. And she looooves her some NKOTB. Seriously.

But that isn't why i used them. I don't even think that she reads this blog. This past night (fri-sat) i worked the overnight shift back in the ICU. My patient was very stable, so I had some time on my hands and needed something to keep me awake. I created two new pages! i've been doing this blog for how long, and i just saw this as an option about a week ago. odd.

so yea, check out my pictures. none of them are as nice as Barefoot Neil Z's pictures, but hey.
thanks, and have a great Saturday. Zach's b-ball season starts today, so i'll go home and get a few hours of sleep before the season opener.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Surprise Central!

almost ever since I have been blogging/tweeting, my wife (remember her from here, here, and here?) has asked me several times....."why do you do it?" while there have been other times when she has used stronger language to express her opinion of the time i spend online ("what? $994.99 on the Visa bill? what is dubyadubyadubya dot getitupandrun dot com?!!!), she has become pretty tolerant of it.
to add to this, lately i have been getting lucky  had lots of luck winning contests online, too. It all started last spring with a prize from NCRunnerDude that was sponsored by AudioFuel. From that prize I have added some international pals online. We've exchanged interesting chats about grammar, beer, take-out (which the folks in England call "take-away"), and such. I joined Juneathon last year, and am very excited about next month's Janathon. Check it out. you should be excited, too!
More recently, however, I have won a CASE of Chobani yogurt and a set of AirDrive earphones. Both on my birthday weekend. Or at least close enough for me to count them as such. Hey, it is my blog. Get your own if you don't like my parameters.....what? oh, sorry.
Then, as if the running gag (not as in running, but as in running) Gods were smiling at me, THIS arrived in the mail 2 days ago:
Ummm...yea. I don't recall entering a contest where this was the prize, but HEY! as @jogblog said, "Free food is good!" I came in the door doing a little dance I like to call:
It is very similar to the Snoopy dance, but with a bit of White Guy with an Overbite added in for good measure. Got the visual? Good.
I started laughing when Tracey asked what it was this time. Our 17 year old (who just got early acceptance to UVM (WOOT!)) was in the room, too, and wondered what was going on. I kept dancing as she ran down the list of goodies. Some of the day care kids joined me in the dance, and it began to look like a scene from a NatGeo special where all of the natives are dancing around pre-sacrifice. Except that we were clothed. whew. Mike told me that I should run down to the store and buy a lottery ticket. But i didn't. Darn.
I did, though, sneak away to our bedroom and open the box. what could it be, what could it be? well, it was:
Strange, isn't it. ONE bar. yep. and I shook the package, too, just to make sure that I wasn't tossing out a hidden coupon for a case of free bars or something. Nope. Nada. WISIWIG. Odd. I brought it to work today to test out. Here it what it looks like up close....
Not at all what i expected. They kinda look like nature valley granola bars, or other similar bars. I guess i was expecting something that looked more like the original Clif bar. Dunno why. The TASTE, though, is FANTASTIC as compared to that other brand.
HOLY.GOODNESS!! They are lightweight, feel light on my tongue, but BIG on flavor! I can't really taste HONEY in them, but I taste more of a caramel or...no, wait! BUTTERSCOTCH!!!! even better than caramel, if you ask me.
See a whole bunch of interesting things about Clif Crunch Granola Bars here. Perhaps of note to some of you is this tid-bit from the FAQ page:

So there you have it. If i get some extra $$ in my stocking or what not, I will be buying a box of these to keep in my stash. Not my Stache, just my stash. Go grab some for the runner/active person on your holiday list. Who know's maybe you'll both get lucky! They'll Love you for it!

[FCC: the goodies suddenly showed up in my mailbox. while the bar was supplied for free, the opinion here is my own.]

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why I am now 75 and not 42

Every year Tracey and I (aka Mr. and Mrs. Claus) try to take a trip to a shopping center that isn't the one we always shop at in an effort to find new inspiration for Christmas gifts. After this year's adventure, I think that next year we might do this in JUNE rather than waiting until December. It might actually extend my life expectancy.
Some background: short version is that on 17DEC07 I rolled my pickup truck after I hit some black ice on the highway. I was going maybe 45 mph at the time. If that. Anyway, I was headed south. In these pictures, you can see the what's left of the front end of the truck. It is facing NORTH. I spun, hit a snowbank, then guard rails, and cartwheeled along them before coming to rest. For those of you with kids who have toy cars, try to work out the "how the heck did THAT happen" with one of them. yea, i dunno either. Ok, here are the pictures before we move on. Since then, I have been a bit wary on wintry roads. oh, i just remembered the old blog. you can see more pictures here.
in this photo you can see where the truck cartwheeled (note depressions in snowbank along guardrail)

i had to climb out of the driver side window.
On with the story. So yesterday we'd been on the road for a while, laughing it up about Tracey starting her own blog, things the kids were into, crazy stuff like that. Travel had been slowed to no more than 55 mph for the better part of the trip. As we got closer to our destination, the winds were really starting to pick up. The temp was changing, so we had a nice 'wintry mix' falling; rain, sleet, snow. simultaneously. for those of you in the areas of the world who don't get snow, the road looked like this (courtesy of google images):
almost exactly like this. but less visibility. so i'm driving along with a nice firm grip, trying to concentrate. my lovely wife was riding shotgun, and had just finished a cigarette. (WHOLE other topic. moving along now...) she went to flick it out the window, and out of the corner of my hyper-vigilant eye i see the butt blow back into the car, bounce off her shoulder, and fall between her and the door. in slow motion.
she laughs as if nothing happened. I said, "you gonna get that?" 
"nah, it'll be fine", she quips. 
I said, "BUT IT IS ON FIRE!"
Unphased, she said, "i've got it under control" and she unbuckles her seatbelt, and then OPENS THE DOOR so that she can lean out so she can reach down and get the butt.
Folks, i'm fairly creative, but I swear that I didn't make that up.
If i could have seen me, I am 95% certain that I would have looked like this guy:
remove glasses for that extra 5%

Then she calmly closed the door, rebuckled, and acted as if nothing happened.
When I go to Denny's today (not really) for my free birthday breakfast (I don't know if they actually do this. PLEASE don't send me hate mail if you try it. No, actually, try it and let me know what happened.) I am going to ask for the AARP discount. I think i deserve it.
Have a great Monday. remember, it is a brand new week!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Push thyself

(finally, a post about running.....)
when i run, i typically run by feel or by the clock. when i say 'by the clock', i don't mean that i race the clock, i mean that i look at the clock and say, "aw, crud. I only have 45 mins to run today", or some such non-sense.
I am typically able to get in 5k, which is nice, but sometimes it leaves me wanting more. i feel like i haven't really challenged myself. know what I mean?
last week i challenged myself to some 4x800 repeats. once on the track, and then again on the treadmill. I was challenged, but felt like i could have given more. why didn't I? the clock. my wife is great, i mean GREAT about giving me time to run. sometimes, though, i don't take full advantage of that gift. i need to work on that.
in an effort to change my ways a bit and use my time better, tonight i decided that i would run for an hour, as long as there was no one waiting to use the dreadmill.
and no one was waiting. i had the whole room to myself for almost 40 minutes. i tuned the TV in to the Aresnal Football (soccer, for us 'Mercans) match (game). I plugged in to AudioFuel's interval track. which one? well, that's where i got confused, too. I chose the 180max interval. (at right)
 I had intended to chose the Martin Yelling tracks, which have interval repeats.

so what did i do? did i just stop after the first track was done?
not today.
today i decided to push myself.
I had no curfew, and no one was waiting to use the equipment.
So i loaded the Dr. Yelling (whoops. didn't realize that he is a Dr.) and kept on running. The fastest pace is 180bpm. all intervals and rest periods (at 150bpm) last 3 minutes. see that stack of lines on the cover? yea. well, i've done this one solo in the past, and the second 180bpm interval came around 5k. Today, it came at 10k.
and it nearly kicked my butt. ok, it mostly did.i was dripping with sweat, my shirt was soaked completely through front and back. i was developing hot spots on my toes on my right foot. I cranked out the last interval at 8.5mph. none of my slower recovery intervals were at less than 6.5mph.
i pushed myself today, and it felt great.
what can you do today that will push yourself?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


!!!totally non running related PSA and call for support!!!!

Tomorrow, 8 DEC 2010, 2 NH soldiers that are part of the VT Army National Guard will be arriving at the LEB airport. They will be arriving on a private, chartered plane between 1240 and 1pm. The name of the airline is Air Compassion for Veterans. I am unsure if the flight will be arriving at the main terminal or at the private terminal.

Here is who they are: the two soldiers are both Medics. They are married, and live in southern New Hampshire. They had been deployed with the VT Guard until an IED exploded while he was on a mission. The IED left him with both legs amputated above the knee and some pretty severe traumatic brain injury. He has been at Walter Reed Medical Center in rehabilitation for several months, accompanied by his wife and other family members.

This week, the bulk of the soldiers that they served with overseas will be coming home to VT. Several service organizations and generous individuals have donated money and services so that these two soldiers could come home and welcome their fellow soldiers back.

I tell you this for one reason: please join me and a Color Guard from the local VFW and other Veterans Service Organizations at the airport tomorrow to welcome these soldiers home. It would be a tragic embarrassment if they were to get off that plane to be greeted only by windy snow drifts.

I hope to see you there. Be well, and God Bless.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Keep your Guard up!

when I was younger (i dare not say 'growing up'), my Dad was in the VT Army Nat'l Guard. whenever we were going some where and saw a convoy of military vehicles (not trucks, vehicles) or saw an aircraft in the sky, he would say, "Keep your Guard up!" Now I say it, too, but not always out loud. Folks around me might think i'm a bit of a lunatic. My Dad? we knew he was a bit off, so it didn't really matter. "I have a rep to protect....." (bonus points if you know the movie).
This past Saturday I was fortunate enough to play Santa for my sister's National Guard Christmas Party. Her troops and their spouses and kids were treated to a wonderful turkey or ham lunch complete with fresh pies, coffee, juice, all the trimmings. I remember parties like that when I was in the Guard, too. Great times to kick back and relax. As a kid, I always loved it. I got to be with my Dad and the other soldiers. So cool.
Tracey thought that it would be fun to bring Bryce along, too, so we coordinated me getting there before her so that Bryce wouldn't see me. when B asked why i wasn't going, I had to lie and say that I had a meeting at the hospital first, but that i would try to make it in time to see Santa.
Wellll......as you can see, not ALL kids were happy to see me..i mean HIM....Santa...
pull my finger. i mean, here, kid, have a puzzle and a truck.
I have played the big guy a few times. Mostly for my wife's day care. That's always a hoot. Never sure how to get there, wondering if my kid will recognize me, hoping that i don't lose my costume (almost did the first year. belt came right off. yea. good times. hey Mom's, Santa has a present for you! Booya! thankfully, my wife was quick to action and helped me keep my pants on...) One year (last year) i also played the jolly elf for an Easter Seals party. That was awesome. Seeing the kids light up when they saw me was special. (don't PANIC, i am NOT turning into a softie. i'll be back to myself by the end of this posting....whew.....)

click to see his face. sheer terror!
Even my nephew, who's just coming into his own, wanted nothing to do with Uncle Gene.

I could see Bryce eyeing me. It was pretty cute. He was shy at first, hiding behind his Mom, then he came out in front of her. She later said that at first he wanted her to go up with him, but then later said that, "I'll just go by myself, Mom. I got this." I wish that I had a beard cam or somthing like that. His face was precious. So is his butt.....
i couldn't look him in the eye, for fear he'd recognize me!
 playing Santa is a bittersweet time. i look forward to it every year, now, but know that at some time in the not so distant future i won't be able to hold the same magic that i do now. such is life.....

so let's get out there and enjoy the magic that we have TODAY. there are many, MANY tomorrow's, but only ONE today.
live it to the fullest. feel the magic in each day. share it when you can. hold it when you can't.

I hope your Monday was happy. Hey, it's a brand new week!!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Take the High Road

I suffer from the lack of skills needed to control my anger. Usually I try to suppress the things that irk me, and before I know it, simply seeing that someone left the toilet seat down blinked too many times turns me into some sort of jacka$$ and i unleash all of my fury that has been fermenting for the past X number of days at the nearest target. More often than not, it has been my family, and for this I am deeply sorry. I am taking positive strides these days, and things are (at least I think they are) getting better. No recent blow outs.
Occasionally, though, it can be perfect strangers who benefit from my fury. Now before you all go and call the local cops and such, I am not violent. But the words fly. Not so much like a sailor, but even if the volume is low, I get very.....direct. And cutting. I could probably make Mandela feel an inch tall. Ok, maybe not. But you get the picture, right?
Why am i telling you this? so that I can declare something here in "public". our middle guy, Z, is starting basketball again. After having spent 2 years on the school's "B" team, he finally made the "A" team, and we can't be happier for him. Going to the games and watching him play is a lot of fun. That kid gives 100% 95% of the time. Hey, he's in Middle School. I'm happy he gets out of bed before 8 on weekends. But I digress.
There is another kid who plays, and is a year behind Z in school. He gives his all most of the time, too. He isn't as skilled as Z, but he still gives it all he's got. Which is what counts, as far as I'm concerned. He made the "A" team, too. I don't think he should have, but it isn't my call. Here's why:
His father is a total A-hole. In all of the years that we have been watching this kid play, I have NEVER heard his father compliment him. N.E.V.E.R. poor kid has been out on the court crying b/c of this guy. The kid tries, and is never good enough for his father.
When I heard that the two kids were on the same team, my first thought was, "Great. Now I have to worry about not punching this guy in the head at each game." He really gets my blood boiling. But then I had a few moments of Zen, and came up with this strategy for dealing with said Jacka$$:
For every thing this kid does right, I am going to applaud it. When i see him giving his all, even if the effort didn't pan out, I'm gonna cheer for him. If his father scolds him, I'll find the positive in whatever he did and say it even louder.
I need to take the high road here, otherwise i'll get kicked out of the first game and won't be allowed back.
Are there times when your first instinct is to clobber someone but realized that you probably should take the high road instead?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Yasso 800's and Fast Food Review

a coupla days ago (was it Monday???) Jeff from www.jeffg-runningthroughphoenix.blogspot.com tweeted that he was going to do some Yasso 8's. I replied asking what the plan was, he sent it, i told him i'd join him. see? comeraderie! misery loves company! all that stuff....
thing is, HE's in Phoenix, and I am....not. I am in New England, right along the VT/NH border. Some say the NH weather is worse than the VT weather, but..well, there's a joke there, but i'll save that for some other day. At any rate, I couldn't get to the track on Monday (little dude has had a cough, so we went to the Pediatrician's office...) so i planned to go on Tuesday after work.
I got to the track around 3 because i played hookie and set up Christmas Decorations some time in the afternoon. Not a sole in sight. Wind at my back on the front stretch, in my face on the back stretch. Walked one lap as Teri tried to find out where she was. Jogged a lap, then started the sequence of 800 run, 400 jog, repeat x4 800's. I'd never done them before, and here are my lap results. The first one is skewed b/c i forgot to hit the lap button before i started. whoops.

800 #1 3:30, 1:46
800 #2 1:43, 1:52
800 #3 1:45, 1:52
800 #4 1:42, 1:53

this effort translated into a PR for 5k!!! (24:05) now, with this knowledge, if i had jogged the middle laps a bit faster...then the PR would have been even sweeter! good to keep in mind for a race....maybe integrate Yasso 800's during a race????

&&&&Fast Food Review&&&&
(more correct title: review of fast food)
recently it was annouced that Wendy's would be offering a NEW FRENCH FRY. yes, folks "Natural-Cut Fries with Sea Salt" with the tag line "Discover Real Fries". The fries are "Naturally-cut from whole russet potatoes" Stop right there. "Naturally-cut"? What the heck does THAT mean? As opposed to "Artificially-cut"? does naturally-cut use bamboo knives or flint arrow heads instead of Ginsu knives? Seriously. Take some grammar classes, Wendy. sheesh.
Ok. the product description page goes on to say that they are "cooked with the skin on, and served up hot and crispy with a sprinkle of sea salt for a taste as real as it gets". sounds reasonable, but the person who made my fries must have been ABSENT from Wendy-School (naturally) when they defined SPRINKLE.
The only difference the Sea Salt made on my fries was that I could SEE IT! Someone must have poked holes in Bubba's Sea Salt Shaker.
Here is what my Real Fries looked like, fresh (naturally) out of the bag:

Here is how Wendy's would like you to think they look fresh out of the bag:
Bah! Oh, right. Flavor review. Meh. Not bad, not great. I prefer sweet potato fries to regular fries, but if Dave Thomas (rip) and crew wanted to sprinkle OLD BAY on these instead of crusty sea salt, well.......

Disclaimer: No potatoes were hurt during the making of this post. Remember, french fries are made (naturally) from already dead potatoes. Also, any reference to persons real or imagined named "Bubba" was not intended to cause harm, defamation of character, or a desire to work in the fast food industry. Naturally.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

see that photo up there?

For a while I have thought that there was too much wasted space above the dinner. The books and all are nice, but it detracted from the subjects. I dropped it into MSPaint, and cropped it down to the above image.
Well.....for me, that just changed it ALL around. Why? No worries, I'll explain.
The Patriarch is my Mom's Dad, who we called Pop-pop, or just Pop. In my mind's eye he looked like Picasso. The kids above are (l to r) my cousin Sandy (my sr. by 3 months), my sister, Weeb...umm..errr...Lynette (younger than me in terms of the calendar, but much wiser), me (with my fly-away collars), and my cousin Shannon (Sandy's sister, younger than me by 3 years, i think...).
so what? well, it has been two days since i started this post. so? well, when the original picture was there, I paid more attention to the books and such, and less to the people.
Now, however, my attention is drawn to the word "accountability", Pop's facial expression, and my cousin Sandy's face and hand. The whole thing looks to me like Pop is trying to hold her accountable for something, and she is trying to deny culpability. well, if you knew the things that are going on in her life right now, you would understand that this is really funny, and if Pop were here, he WOULD be trying to hold her accountable, and she would be trying to deny culpability. Her sister, Shannon, down in the corner there, seems to be saying to the camera...are you flippin' KIDDING ME????? (which i think she says more often than not as things relate to Sandy. I know I do....)

so i give you this example to point out that often when we think we have seen all that there is to be seen, a simple change in perspective may open up that you hadn't noticed before. apply this to life, work, love, family, running, training plans, all that stuff........

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fun photo Friday

this actually happened on Thursday (yesterday), but I think that the photo was fun enough to wait for today to post it. It is, i think, my new favourite photo.
Hi, MOM!
We had been planning to run in a local turkey trot to support Zack's Place. We had participated in a World Record breaking event 2 years ago (longest continuous moving line of wheelchairs), and we really think that they do great work for our area.
Well, race day started off COLD. It was 18 when i woke up at 6. by the time we got out the door at 830 ish, it was only 22. Our initial plan was for Bryce and I to start running together, me pushing an empty stroller. After he got tired, he would hop in, we'd run until the last 100 meters, then he'd hop out and cross the line with me. We'd practiced our fists-pumping-in-the-air poses for the finish, and we were psyched!
yes, i know the bib is off center.
While we were hanging out in the gym before the race, B kept saying that he was cold. His eyes looked like death, and he was fairly quiet, which is not the norm for this 4 year old. Tracey suggested a new plan for the race: B and I would start together, then meet her a little way down the road. She'd take B and get in the truck to stay warm. They'd seek out a spot near the finish (ptp race, not a complete loop) and wait for me. When I got to them, B would jump back on the course, and we'd finish together. (I swear she's a genius!) So that's what we did. B and I hung back with the walkers so that we could be sure to be seen by T. That's when she snapped the picture above. 
As for the race itself, it was pretty good! The start was a complete MESS, and we were waiting around in sub-freezing temps for it to start. We started 15 minutes late, which translates into 25 minutes of standing there......
Since i started back with the walkers, i had to weave in and out of traffic for about a quarter mile after i dropped off B with T. no worries, it was kinda fun trying to spot open spaces up ahead. Once the road opened up, i just trotted along. I hadn't thought of this as a race, and wasn't planning on a PR. It was fun to look around and see other hats and get-ups. Next year I'd consider running it in a turkey costume. why not?
Here are the winners coming past T and B while they waited for Dad:
The first female was cruising! Me? Not so much. This was the first time that I had run on the road without music. I have no idea how people do this on a regular basis. The footfalls of other runners, their harsh breathing....all distracted me from my running. Good thing I am not headed for elite status anytime soon.
I'll leave you with some final pictures. We had a great time, B is still a bit under the weather, but the run definitely helped me get through the rest of Thanksgiving!
headed for the final stretch!
enjoying the endorphins!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Man the bilge pumps!

And BAM! just like that, the winter Holidays are upon us. Soon we'll be headed over the river and through the woods, sitting down at tables full of wonderful food, surrounded by friends and family who we may not have seen since last year's Holiday gatherings. Joy of Joys, the World comes together and like Bob Marley said, "Everything's gonna be alright."
Or will it?
If you don't want to read about a Derrick Downer, then leave this post now and run. Fast. Get in a good HIIT workout, then come back later in the week. Maybe i'll have posted something interesting by then.
This is the time of year when i sink into a dark place and struggle to come out. I don't like it there, I don't want to be there, but....there it is, and here I go. What is difficult for me to grasp is the WHY. I have a great family. we have a nice house. we have food, jobs, pets. wait. mebbe it's the pets. nah, just kidding. they're cool.
this year i have managed to stay 'afloat' longer than ususal. in the past, i have started sinking in the middle of october. this year, the leaks started just last week. so...WIN, i guess.
Here are some things that I have decided to try to incorporate this year in an effort to plug the leak, or better yet, find myself a better boat...
1) I will focus more on the children and less on the adult BS.
2) I will allow myself to make time for myself.
3) I will run more and enjoy it more (see #2).
4) I will reconnect with family members who i have lost touch with.
5) I will take up a new hobby that won't take me away from home.
I think 5 is a good start. Reminder, these are NOT resolutions, but rather changes in attitude, which should bring on changes in latitude, if only metaphorically.
Thank you for enduring this post. Tomorrow we will be back to our regularly scheduled shenanigans.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Great White North

when i was in high school, Bob and Doug McKenzie were the biggest thing to hit our area since the Redcoats decided to tax us without allowing us to represent ourselves. (Hello? Taxation without Representation? Beuller? Anyone?)
I dunno how many times i was kicked out of the library (just kidding, Mom!) (no, i'm not) for singing their crazy song (no beer bottles involved, Mom) (at least not in the library). At anyrate, I've been to Canada a few times, and have yet to run into either Bob or Doug.
Although i may have 'met' their cousin.
Enter Neil. aka Barefoot Neil Zee. He and i have so much in common that we have called each other "Brothahs from an International Mothah" (no disrespect intended, no animals were harmed in the typing of this post).
ANYWAY, all that family stuff aside, last week I had the idea of  posting some alternate uses for your Garmin. Remember? It got cast aside in favor of some pictures of me and Steve with our CHIMO staches. (thanks, Rachael, for that new vocabulary word. Like how i used it in a sentence already? Boo-ya!)  Well....imagine my surprise when I looked at Neil's blog this morning. Yep. Pretty UNBELIEVABLE!!! I mean, I HAVE THAT SAME HAT!! (not really). I won't spoil the whole surprise. Just go to his site and check out an alternate use for your Garmin. Mine is totally lame compared to his.
Take off, to the Great White North.
Take off, it's the Beauty way to go.
Take off.......


Friday, November 19, 2010

it is Friday again...

and you know what that means, boys and girls...oh wait. i mean LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. NOT boys and girls.
so i have a MO going. about a week or so ago, Rachael over at http://www.snarktart.com/ said on Twitter that I looked like a p e d o phi le because of it. rats, i can't find the tweet. anyway, i told T about it, and she cracked up and then AGREEEEED with her. then she told one of her friends, and SHE agreed, too. now her kids can't come to the house. just kidding abou that part. but her friend DOES agree...
what? hmmmmmm....not really showing the MO love.
then today i read Steve's blog where he shaved off his beard. here is one of the pictures and the caption (i kid you not. go check it out for realz. I'll wait......):
"Then I trimmed it down to "pedophile" length:"
 Whaaaaat? HEY!!! that looks like MINE!!!! this is SO not fair. Now, just because i took this picture (below) while i was sitting in my truck while it was parked behind a hotel yesterday, DON'T JUDGE ME. See??? there are WINDOWS in the truck. It isn't some broken down chevy van parked down by the river....and oh, never mind the rain coat hanging off the back of my seat.....move along now.....

like my darth vader tie? i knew you would.....
 so there, i hope you had a good laugh at me. BUT to let you know that I am not really nuts, here is another picture, or at least a screen shot, of some work that Teri (my Garmin) did for me this late summer. I wore her OUT! while i mowed the lawn:
no, actually you won't see it here. at least not NOW. why????


I paid my bill and everything. I swear. what the heck? anyway, tune in again some other time, after i feed blogger some chocolate, and i'll have some suggestions for alternate uses for your garmin. Yes, you can thank me now, if you'd like.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bio-feedback trial

who says HRM's are just for sports? not me! for those of you following along, today was the day that I had to give a presentation for the Vermont Council on Quality's Healthcare Reform Summit. My topic was EMR, or Electronic Medical Record. Blah blah blah, bits, bytes, ones, zeros, and a whole buncha security and privacy built in. In short, it is the wave of the future, and the company that I work for is waaaaaay ahead on this one. whew.
but that isn't the real reason for this post. blah blah healthcare. what you all came to my blog for today was to see if i actually survived. well, yes, i did. someday i might go into detail about why i was so on edge about the whole thing. suffice to say it had nothing to do with my speech, or her speech.
i wore my chest strap for my garmin, but didn't wear the wristband part. I just carried it and then placed it on the table near me. so? i dunno why i told you all that. really doesn't matter.
so she (let's just call her "steph" for now, ok?) spoke two people before me. I had arrived at the venue VERY early, because i really didn't know what the heck i was doing, and ended up killing some time going for a walk and then warming up in a Barnes and Noble. yay, books! i went back to the hotel around 10 since the agenda said that there was a break scheduled at 1015, and steph was to start at 1030. they of course were running behind, so i sat in a chair in the hall and waited. Here i am, waiting....look closely at the tie.....yep, that's Darth.
As I sat, i noticed movement to my right. what could it be? mouse? caterer asking me to sample some truffles? nope. it was steph, headed to the powder room. i looked her way but tried not to look like i was sizing her up, because i wasn't. she half-assed waved at me and said, "hi, Gene." I said, "hey, steph, how are you?" she said that she was good, and then disappeared. when she came out, she didn't even glance in my direction. win.
when the break finally happened, i took a spot in the back row and waited for her to speak. her presentation was average, nothing really to write home about, but no complaints, either. she did well crunching all of her info into the compressed time slot. she made good eye contact with almost everyone in the room, but never really looked in my specific corner of the room. win.
the next presenter(s) were ones that i really wanted to hear. their topic was about creating the 'gold standard' with an employee wellness program. we have one at our facility, but honestly it is on life support and in need of some intervention. their show was good, but i didn't really learn much. oh well. after they were done, steph and her 2 coworkers booked it out of there as if their car was being towed. just as well.
i introduced myself to the Dr. who was following me. nice guy, young, fit-looking. he noticed Teri. i said that it was my Garmin, and that i was wearing an HRM as part of a biofeedback experiment that i was doing. he loved the idea. i didn't explain to him WHY i was doing it. he asked what my rate was at the time, and i said that it was 86. He said, "that's pretty good for someone about to give a speech to a room full of strangers."
so here is the data.....what do you think? i think that i might wear it to sleep some night(s) to get a better sense of my perception of sleep time versus what my body actually does. i mean, otherwise, Teri just sits there on my cedar chest (not my hairy chest, my cedar chest. but i digress. often. here are the numbers:
not nearly as dramatic as i thought that it would be. this was a fun experiment!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

DM Intervals

Yesterday i wanted to run. badly. the weather wasn't cooperating, so of course it was the dreadmill. i am learning to embrace, to LOVE the dreadmill. to OWN it, to rock it, to be ONE with the Dreadmill.... sure.

I wanted to do intervals. I have an interval program from AudioFuel, specifically this one. I have done it on pavement, but never on my new BFF, the treadmill. Not to be discouraged, I hopped on the bad boy and cranked up the volume.
Aside: Do people try to talk to you when you are wearing headphones? WHY???
I must say that I was not disappointed. Not long into the workout i was sweating almost as much as a long-tailed cat at a rocking chair convention!
People around me were giving me strange looks. Might have been because I would be cruising along at 150bpm and then suddenly (to them, but to me I had a count down!) shoot up to 170 or 180bpm. Thumpa-thumpa-thumpa~ It might have had something to do with the discharge of CH4 coming from my a.. somewhere right behind me. I dunno.
Aside: WTF, BLOGGER??? I had a paragraph, then a picture, and then a plea for advice....AND YOU LOST MY WORK~~! Just another item to add to the growing list of reasons why i feel that i should either a)move to wordpress or b) get my own domain. How hard could either one be, right? Thing is, my top two domain name choices have been taken. Huh? really? yep.....

Ok, so when i got on the TM, I wore Teri. Remember Teri? We've run around a bit together over the past year or so. When I took her out of my gym bag (don't judge me!) she copped an attitude right away, "Ummm...this doesn't seem right to me. What are we doing here?" "What are you talking about?", I asked. She sat there silently, her little bar desperately trying to fill, until finally she just said, "Are you indoors?" I clicked on the "yes" option and wedged her red little body between the console and a washcloth so she wouldn't rattle and bother the other people present. She's been good to me so far, so i guess i can't complain.
Shhh....she has NO IDEA what is in store for next year. I wanted to know how my HR did during the sprints and recovery periods. See below, and you'll know, too:
Aside: Save now. Click it. Click it!
See that? My heart rate just kept going up and up. Never really gave myself time to fully 'recover' in between efforts. I ask you: Is that bad? Should I be getting closer to 130 (or lower??) before I ramp the speed back up? Seriously. I need some advice. I felt really good during the run, and at no time did i feel like i couldn't go on. I think I had the machine up to 8mph for the last sprint, which is where you see my HR maxed out.

In other news, Thursday (today?) is the big day. I have to give that presentation that I mentioned a few posts back. Yep. So i am certain that I'll have some stuff to write on Friday......
Thanks for stopping by. If you live where there is usually snow but there ISN'T snow yet, and you are jonesing for some....check out Neil's recent blog posts. Good humor, great photos (not ALL of snow).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Let's start..the Family Fooooood!"

ahh....remember the original Family Feud? With Richard Dawson? THAT show had it going on. How many hosts has it been through since then? Too many to count, that's for sure. Who wants to get a kiss from "Mr. Peterson", anyway?
Anyway, this post is about family FOOD, not feud. This week my wife decided to create a menu for the week to help streamline things at dinner time. One thing we have figured out that we don't like is the daily question, "what do you want for dinner?" Last night, it was home made pizza! Welcome to our kitchen:
Fresh home from Zumba, Tracey measures out the ingredients for the dough. I can't bake. You shoulda seen her measure out the flour. taptaptap, scrapescrapescrape. i would be like, scoop...hmmm...that's close enough. (notice i am not the one making the dough....)
Next it has to be needed. it is nice to be needed. errr..umm...KNeaded. that, too.this is actually the second dough. the first one is rising in the bowl on the stove. one for the kids, one for us.
Once the dough was set, it needed to sit for a while, so T jumped in the shower while Bryce, Zach and I watched some AFV. That's right, America's Funniest home Videos. Love watching that show with the boys. Makes me realize how 'normal' our kids are...

That's Zach in the background. He was wondering why Mom uses a 'target' to roll out the dough. Note the hair-net. I think that OSHA would approve. And yes, those are jammies. No, it isn't late at night, but why not get into comfortable clothes whenever you can, right? Right.
 here we are, adding toppings to the second pie. that little pile of read things are my sundried tomatoes and roasted red peppers. YUM! All this writing and posting  is making me hungry for more. Is 930 in the morning too early for left over home made pizza? I think not. I'll be right back...
Bryce couldn't wait to get his hands on his slice(s). Yummy, to be sure.

see my little slice of heaven over there on the right? YUM! it was fun to make, it was fun to watch the kids interact during the process, and, of course, it was fun to EAT!!!! Loving the family food time.....now where's Richard for that smooch??