Look at me run! Look at me over-pronate!

me running

Taken at the Clear Mountain Ultimate 5K, run in 25:34 through the 80+ degree Memphis heat on June 23. The driver of the Clear Mountain truck had locked his keys in his cab, so there were no water stops, only one station offering wet paper towels. The smile on my face is there because I know that if I can make it just that last 100 feet, I can get something to drink, a couple of Krispy Kremes and maybe a smoked red sausage with yellow mustard. Carb replacement? More like a diabetic incident.
Trondheim: the city that stumbles seedily about in a distressed leather jacket and run-down black jeans while crooking its track-marked elbow around its hot Asian girlfriend. Yes, there may not yet be an evening but there is amazing Thai food up here at 63° North; we were so impressed by the existence of crisp, fresh vegetables that we've been to the Bangkok Palace twice in two nights. We've actually been off the boat, and surrounded by free wifi, for four nights, spending two in Bergen before coming up here; my apologies for not updating sooner. I must say that I've been a bit daunted in trying to sum up a two-week, eight-country cruise in a pithy and witty manner. Cruises obviate even the just barely half-potted bullshit sociopsychological observations I like to pass off as travelogue. By the time you've figured out how to jaywalk, you have to get back on the boat. You don't even get a chance to see a city by night -- well, that's not much of an issue here this time of year. I think there might have been something resembling dusk somewhere between Gdansk and Copenhagen.

I tried to avoid most of the ship-organized shore excursions -- I hate the idea of bringing my own crowd with me -- and the most special moments on the Baltic certainly came during those times we had escaped the throngs. Canoeing along the Royal Canal, alone but for the ducks and the trees of Djurgärden, in the middle of downtown Stockholm. Crossing through the Green Gate onto the sun-dappled Długi Targ before anyone before a few Polish commuters. I also tried to extend my stay in each country as often as possible through at least a meal. The chef on the boat was undistinguished anyway. I was happy to sample the local cuisine of several little nations, if the cuisine can be considered local when I demur from visiting any restaurant that isn't specifically garlic-themed.

I don't really expect to find much garlic, or Thai, or broadband internet when I arrive in Svalbard tomorrow, so after checking in before my flight out in the morning I probably won't be able to update with whatever half-baked fantasia of insight to which I might aspire.
I am not someone who likes to prepare for vacations well in advance. If I can get the dryer to chime fifteen minutes before I need to catch the cab, I'm happy. However, after sleeping for forty-five minutes on the red-eye back from San Francisco, then on the day before departure spending all day moving furniture and all night working on a strenuous gathering recounting, even the bestly mislaid plans gang aglay. I have managed to realize, since I left Cleveland, that I've also left my waterproof socks (needed in Svalbard), my Scopolamine patches (likewise) and the charger for my electric toothbrush. I also managed to lose track of two separate copies of Pride & Prejudice right between Jane's letters revealing Wickham's absconscion with Lydia. And that aforementioned dryer? Its thermostat broke last night and my soggy clothes were just spinning around. Luckily, I didn't particularly need any of them right away, and Simply Books at Cleveland Hopkins is well-stocked with Austen. And apparently people could brush their teeth before Sonicare entered the market; I believe they used valets. But the misapprehension that most reveals my fatigue must be the incident of the fruit.

As some in Tahoe may have surmised, I'm eating a lot of fresh fruit these days, and I can't now imagine getting on a long-haul flight without my own snacks. So I ran over to the grocery store while hoping for some divine laundry miracle and picked up three apples and a like number of oranges. I tucked my favorite water bottle into the grocery bag and carried it along with me when I went to hail the cab. Well, while in line for the security check, I realized that I didn't have that bag -- and I really, really like that water bottle (Dannon 1 liter; $1.49 when containing actual water). So I turned around, bucking the tide on a very security-conscious day, and rushed downstairs to the cabstand, figuring that my driver was waiting to make a pick-up there. I talked with the dispatcher, who allowed me to look over the line; he wasn't there. She suggested calling the company, and a driver made the same suggestion, but, really: produce.

So I head back through security, today a ten-minute process, and stalk out to my gate, which is all the way at the end of Concourse C. Adjacent to the gate is an outlet for Phoenix Coffee, one of our local Starbucks/Caribou competitors. I'm in desperate need for a hot choco/vanilla now, and, lo! not to mention behold!, they sold fruit for 99 cents apiece. I bought two apples, two oranges and a banana.

I no sooner set my purchases down at my gate when I hear a page, "Will the party leaving the bag of fruit in the Ace Taxi please collect his item at the information center?" Well, I weigh my options, but it was really nice of the driver to bring my fruit in, and it is my favorite water bottle, so I trek all the way down the concourse, asking the security guard if someone could bring me the fruit -- negative, sir -- and leaving the secure area to pick up my fruit. Then ten minutes back through security, fifteen to the end of the concourse, and they're boarding my plane.

And my eleven pieces of fruit won't fit comfortably under the seat in front of me.
I love fresh peaches, but I don't have any inkling of how to buy them; I've been told to wait until the ones in the store are mildly fragrant. In the middle of the past week, as I walked through my grocery store, I caught a wafting whiff of pleasant, springy odor. And there they were, a five pound gift box of peaches, just like the five pound gift boxes of clementine oranges I used to buy every December. Checking off the "mildly fragrant" criterion, and figuring that they couldn't be that out of season if they were selling five pounds gift boxes, I purchased one. Well, the problem with buying five pounds of fresh peaches is that you sit around waiting for them to ripen for three or four days, and then, once they're finally soft enough to yield to your incisors, you've got no more than a couple of days in which to eat them all. And so today I ate peaches in my oatmeal, ate peaches in my salad, peaches in the afternoon, peaches in the evening, peaches all night long. I think I've had nine or ten today. Huh. What's this I hear about a "gentle laxative effect"?
On my return flight from Memphis to Cleveland, my napkin was this:

napkin-003

I took it as an omen and I have booked my Tahoe trip, though I resisted even the strict authority of the napkin and bought tickets neither with USAir or into Reno. I fly into SFO late at night on the 21st (I'll head up to Tahoe the next day) and leave SFO late at night on the 26th. I have no idea where I am staying or how I am getting there, but I do plan to eat at Zachary's going both directions. What is the transportation/lodging situation these days? Leaving at such an unusual time, I'd probably be better off renting a car, but I'd rather not sleep in it.
I've mentioned before my recent forays into fitness. Part of these have been the development of a taste for salads at lunch. No longer do I wolf down microwave lasagna or run over to Wendy's; now I eat the nutritious way! And you can too -- just follow these simple steps:

Step 1:
salad02

Fill a bowl with a heaping helping of baby spinach, the world's healthiest food, unless you want to retain calcium or something.

Step 2: )
Thanks to all for their kind comments. I'm too exhausted for coherency; I got fewer than six hours of sleep last night, and I've had a very full day. I won't claim it was a bad day -- I tend to do very well with specific problems. I rode the stationary bike for an hour first thing in the morning, then went over to the optometrist, who prescribed some eyedrops and said to lay off the contacts until the redness is fully cleared up. I like my optometrist -- there was no charge for the drop-in, and I managed to get two sets of five dailies gratis. Of course the eyedrops would be much more dear. I was then going to proceed straight to the J, but climbing the steps in the mall tired me out enough I decided I would get some protein first. An unreasonably heavy, fatty and carby lunch later and I needed a catnap. I talked to my mother for a little while, and then went to drop off my prescription, buy a liter bottle of water and some naproxen sodium. Then I worked out at the J for a couple of hours -- this energized me long enough to get a half-caf Mint Condition from Caribou. The caffiene hit me the wrong way and by the time I met up with my father and we went down to the hospital, I was ready to drop.

We sat with my grandmother for an hour. Her pulse rate, pulsox, blood pressure are all still good. She seems less responsive tonight than last; last night she was opening her eyes seemingly in response to touch. Tonight her eyes were clamped shut the entire time we were there. It's tough for me to tell how much consciousness is behind her movements: only her left hand, which will grab a hold of yours if you put them together, seems to work volitionally. She keeps raising and lowering her left knee; my dad and I started timing it and it moved with a regular cycle of forty to fifty seconds. Her right side must be entirely paralyzed now -- she had been twitching her right leg last night, but not tonight, and her right arm's been motionless since the stroke. Yesterday, it seemed like she'd respond or try to respond to being touched or spoken to. Tonight, though, other than the hand there were not as many such signs on which to hang hopes of consciousness.

I keep slipping into euphemism. I was going to say "I hope she can achieve peace soon." But I'm a materialist; I mean that I hope she can achieve nothingness soon. My father and I are on the same page as to our belief that she'd prefer death to this. (Though, I don't know. No neurologist's been able to show me on the CAT scan that the stroke destroyed the center in the brain which prevents me from a callous disregard for her autonomy.) We think there's a living will somewhere. I've had some terrible thoughts such as the realization that Ohio's Attorney General is a Republican running for Governor, locked in a primary battle with our Secretary of State; they're competing to show which of them can be the most muscularly right-wing Fundamentalist Christian, so I'm hoping my uncle won't come in and countermand our no-heroic-measures stance or else I'm going to be the new Michael Schiavo.

I really need some sleep now.
I'm peeling the banana from both ends today. I've decided that this should be a new idiom, a complement to the frayed, frazzled lucubration of "burning the candle at both ends," a zesty, breakfasty metaphor for eagerly embracing the day. Not that I'm zesty or eagerly embrachial, just inspired by one of Steve Landsburg's Slate articles (pointed out by Fred Clark):
My friend Petal peels her bananas from the bottom. Well, it's the top, actually, since bananas grow upside down. Come to think of it, that's not quite right either—bananas grow the way they grow, which should be right-side up by definition, even if we think of them as upside down. So let me start over. Petal peels her bananas from the end without the stem.
Halfway through slicing my morning banana onto my oatmeal, I decided to try this. The lack of nature's own pull-tab is immediately apparent, but easily overcome through judicious application of the thumbnail. I am agnostic as to the purported relative ease of string-removal. The trial subject was the last of last week's bananas and so a little on the soft side. Further research will be required.
Weighed 152.5 pounds this morning -- and, surprisingly, during an idle moment in the afternoon as well -- which means I think that I'm officially below my weight when I quit smoking. I had my penultimate workout on the coolrunning.com plan -- 30 minutes -- so after I finish Sunday's thirty minute run I have nothing to look forward to but a lifetime of . . . thirty minute runs, every other day. Well, there are places I could go, were I ambitious, but I think I'm going to plateau at thirty minutes for a while until I get my distance up to the promised five kilometers. I followed the route of Monday's twenty-eight minute jaunt, and I think I managed to go so slowly tonight that I covered less ground tonight than then. Evening running is an interesting change in my routine; as a road runner, I usually measure my fitness during a run by noting the time when I stop saying to the cars which approach me "Please don't hit me," and start saying, "Hit me. Hit me, please." And tonight, leaving the house at 6:45 pm, with the sun lowering itself beyond the overcast, and thunderstorms on the western horizon, I started to wonder whether or not the black t-shirt and charcoal shorts had been the best choice. Of course, had I needed a large, glowing, reflectively pasty beacon, I could have just taken off the shirt. Thanks though to our insanely extenuated time zone, I was able to make it back with plenty of light and without offending neighborhood standards of decency.

I delayed running until this evening because this morning I had my first session with a personal trainer down at the JCC. Having heard horror stories, I had worried that I might find myself being pushed too strenuously, but I have to say that it went really well. I think I checked the right bit on the questionaire: "Are you self-motivated? Y/N." There was a bit at the end where I felt a little trembly -- I hadn't had any water during the introductory half-hour and I think I was paying for that.

And now all that effort will be undone: it's calzone time!

ETA: I'd like to note for future reference that slowly writing a disjointed, incoherent LJ post and searching through 2 years of a friend's archive for a post that ultimately turned out to be locked, while in the process of icing one's knees, results in joints too cold to be immediately ready for use in such strenuous activities as, say, standing up.
Adam Cadre:
When I was in college, there was an absolutely amazing pizza place in town called Zachary's. Calling it pizza is actually somewhat misleading, since the legendary stuffed pies at Zachary's have little to do with Neapolitan flatbread and nothing at all to do with the space-age polymers served up at Domino's. These are mind-blowing creations that, when I was actually enrolled, we saved for special occasions — birthdays, graduations. But here's the thing. After I graduated, I stuck around for an extra year, and I had a car and could eat anywhere I wanted, and it occurred to me... Zachary's is ten minutes away. For eight dollars I can get a stuffed pizza that will feed me magnificently for two days. Why shouldn't I go there all the time? When I mentioned to my friends that I'd started to go to Zachary's twice a week, they were horrified — doesn't that make it less special? one asked. Hell no! Delicious is delicious. I wouldn't want to eat there every day, but you'd better believe that if it weren't 3000 miles away I'd still be going twice a week. There was absolutely no extra value in only enjoying it rarely.
I remember one week in which I ate at V&T's six times . . .
I like to think that I'm up on my stereotyping, but having just, due to some positive reviews and a chance link, impulsively downloaded Sunday's Simpsons, I was quite surprised to hear Lisa insinuate that Ethiopian restaurants are notorious lesbian pick-up joints. You know, in all the times I've eaten in Ethiopian restaurants, I had never noticed.

I'm having quite a lot of fun with BitTorrent. It has had one unintended consequence, though: I've been so conscientious about seeding that I haven't turned off my laptop for three days. And this sucker gets hot. Last night, I ended up taking both the battery and the CD-ROM drive out and leaving the computer upside-down so it wouldn't burn out while running all night.

(Apparently, I am the sort of person who has no compunctions about violating Time Warner's copyrights, but feels painfully guilty if I do not get my share ratios up to 1.000.)

My BitTorrent binge was occasioned, by my intent to get caught up with Justice League, and I can for once claim that I've seen every episode factored into the arc of Sunday's "The Doomsday Sanction." Watching the watchmen? It seems the government has just finally cottoned on that Superman is a dick. (Via Avedon Carol. Several of these covers have been bouncing around the internet for a while, but isolated, individual, they lack a certain cumulative force. I could not stop laughing during the run of eight classic Batmans starting here, but my absolute favorite must be this.)
Let me take this opportunity to thank everyone for your warm birthday wishes. They were much appreciated. I, on the other hand, skipped the pleasantries and just tried to buy my own affection with a book run, getting Redmond O'Hanlon's Trawler, In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs by Christopher de Bellaigue, and Lawrence Block's new Matthew Scudder novel, All the Flowers Are Dying. I've read only the first chapter of the latter so far, but I liked this bit from page five:
"This is the best, this black pudding. There aren't many places you can get it. I suppose the old Irish neighborhoods, Woodside, Fordham Road, but who's got the time to chase out there?"

"Well, now that you're retired."

"Yeah, I can spend a day looking for black pudding."

"You wouldn't have to go that far," I said. "Any bodega can sell you all you want."

"You're kidding. Black pudding?"

"They call it morcilla, but it's the same thing."

"What is it, Puerto Rican? I bet it's spicier."

"Spicier than Irish cuisine? Gee, do you suppose that's possible? But it's pretty much the same thing. You can call it morcilla or black pudding, but either way you've got sausage made from pig's blood."

"Jesus!"

"What's the matter?"

"Do you fucking mind? I'm eating."

"You didn't know what it was?"

"Of course I know, but that doesn't mean I want to fucking dwell on it."
If you're not reading Fafblog, you're missing some of the most insightful commentary and perspicacious policy analysis on the internet. To wit:
Imagine you are a country who has been ruled by brutal dictators for centuries and invaded and occupied by a foreign power. You are tired and angry and hostile. You possibly still do not have good food or clean water or a job. What do you want? Ice cream.

Who does not love ice cream? No one that is who! Children and mullahs and Baathists of all ages all love the sweet creamy taste of a fresh ice cream cone! Now imagine that you are the angry tired hostile unemployed waterless foodless Iraqi - and Americans are giving you ice cream, for free! How do you complain, you do not you are so happy with delicious ice cream! Your emotional landscape changes from angry hostile killing to delicious. Ice cream delicious.

For just 37 billion dollars a year we could pay for one pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream a day for the 22 million men woman and children in Iraq. And if we buy in bulk it's even cheaper! We could be feeding them ice cream three meals a day! We could feed them ice cream at all state functions and constitutional drafting meetings! Our troops will no longer ride in humvees, they will ride in ice cream trucks. No one will launch grenades at the ice cream man!

"But Fafnir" you are saying "won't this make the Iraqis very fat." Maybe but remember the ancient proverb: a fat Iraqi insurgent is a happy Iraqi insurgent - especially a fat Iraqi insurgent filled with ice cream. "But how will you pay for all this ice cream Fafnir" you say. The ice cream will pay for itself. As the love grows we will be able to phase out the military operation and thus afford the ice cream, and once we have normal relations with Iraq our ice cream exports there will be incredible. My only hesitation is that the wrong powers will launch other wars to open more markets. There must be no blood for ice cream.
(Zoidberg icon in tribute to the Medium Lobster, I suppose.)
Comfort food is making me uncomfortable. I rationalized the economy of my P. F. Chang's trip with the idea that I could stretch out my order of Kung Pao Chicken and Spicy Eggplant over several meals, and then proceeded to eat the entire thing.

It is my understanding that there exist, along with comfort food, comfort magazines, so I bought a couple. I got the new WIRED, for reasons that may later become apparent, and, inspired by the example of [livejournal.com profile] hermionesviolin, the current Rolling Stone. This is the Rolling Stone which contains its list of the 500 "Greatest Albums Ever Made." Hmmm. It seems like just six years ago that they were prying my money from my fingers for their list of the 200 "Greatest Albums Ever Made." I'm not buying another issue until they come out with the 10,000 greatest. Take that, exponential progression!

Perhaps because I've had the earlier list as a subconscious influence since 1997, I own a higher percentage (54 out of 200, compared to 87 of 500) of what was then the "definitive library of the best albums ever made). My suspicion is that the earlier list was actually superior (and thus, my tastes are actually superior). It was chosen by a smaller panel with more of an eye towards history, and thus contains selections by Ruth Brown and LaVern Baker. On the other hand, the later list has a lot more jazz on it (a surprising amount of which I own -- not that I listen to it -- not that the panelists listen to it either). The earlier list also has the advantage of being arranged chronologically instead of in some supposed order of quality, which prevents us from being consumed with inanities such as "Hotel California is only number thirty-seven? Damn it, that's a top thirty-five album in my book!" It also provides the benefit of disguising the Beatles fetishization by slotting the copious amounts of their records into their proper slot -- the 1960s -- rather than into nearly half of the top ten.

Anyway, what follows is the list of the albums from the new list which I own. Most of these I have on CD, some I bought back when I was primarily a casette consumer and have not updated since I got my first CD player in 1990 (make of that what you will), and a couple I only have because I ripped my girlfriend's CDs onto my MP3 player. I have not included tapes I made of CDs my high school friends had, mostly as a discriminatory measure designed to keep Pink Floyd off the list. I was a bit confused with how to count some of the anthologies: for example, I do not actually own Sly & the Family Stone's Greatest Hits, but I own Anthology, which contains all of Greatest Hits plus tracks off of there's a riot goin' on and Fresh. However, I have not checked whether or not the anthologies of Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Howlin' Wolf and others correspond to what I have in any way.

87/500 )

I suppose one could compare the above to the full list, then cross-reference with my preferences stated both in my user info and my response to [livejournal.com profile] shadowkat67's meme and come up with a reasonable approximation of an Amazon Wish List. And with the holidays just around the corner. Of course, on any list of the 500 things I need most, 413 albums have to come pretty low.
I'm not doing [livejournal.com profile] aliera9916's vocabulary meme, because I'm feeling pressured somehow to be witty and playful and whatnot, and just repeating a lot of pizza jokes will become quickly tiresome; however, "2. The thing you push around the grocery store?" I call that "Grandma."

Creamsickle has a bite above his eye which needs to be treated with antibiotics, so I am not visiting my mother in Michigan this weekend; this affects the lot of you because the last time I went to Michigan, I was inspired to write my last LJ post of any substance. So don't expect any substance out of me in the near future. Or perhaps you should expect me to gain a great deal of substance after all: I'm investigating comfort foods at the moment. I picked up some English Clotted Cream on the way home from the vet's, and there may be a trip to P.F. Chang's in the offing. Mmmmm . . . pan-fried Peking Dumplings, Kung Pao Chicken, Spicy Eggplant. It's a notion.
Happy Independence Day to that small fraction of my small readership that celebrates it. I'm still not sure why the British don't take the day off to shoot off some fireworks and yell, "We're right rid of those bloody wankers!" (In my mind, all British people talk exactly like Spike in lackluster fanfic.) The Canadians could all go cook outdoors and raise a toast to not being in an even larger country.

Anyway, I'm not feeling particularly independent. While my immediate family (those providing approximately 50% of my genetic material) has decamped from Cleveland for various locales, the 25% crew seems to be breathing down my neck. My prodigal uncle is visiting my grandmother. I did not meet this uncle until my Grandfather's funeral, when I was twenty-five; we didn't really hit it off. Now, I don't really get along with very many among my extended family, but at least I know they're family. I figure that if you skip the first quarter-century of my life, I'm not obligated by "family" to sit around and pretend that you're not one of the most boring people ever. But all of this is really just an excuse to avoid my Grandmother's cooking. (You know, when you come right down to it, I'm just a little tiny ball of resentment and bitterness.)

So I'm considering escaping. Going for a long drive. Getting away from it all. Hey, Scroll! Doing anything for lunch tomorrow?

In the meantime, I'm going to celebrate this July 4th by catching X Men 2 at the local dollar theater (all shows before 6 Pm 50 cents!); reading some more Goblet of Fire; maybe, just maybe, seeing a firework or two; and finishing it all off with my annually planned but rarely executed viewing of 1776. I've got an hour before X Men.

Thank you

Jun. 19th, 2003 01:03 pm
I'd like to thank everyone who responded to Rah's posting about my grandmother's trip to the hospital. Rah offered to block comments on it, as I have mixed feelings about the whole personal revelation thing and might have been made uncomfortable by expressions of sympathy, but I demurred.

My grandmother is now out of the hospital and home doing fine. She had a bout of congestive heart failure, but nothing she's not used to at this point. She was treated and then she was streeted (I occasionally tune into ER) and she has promised to not go back in the next ten days. Not for her sake, but because this is Rah's vacation, and she didn't sign up for trips to the ICU -- or to the post office or storage facilities, either, but that's my mom's fault. She has signed on for dim sum, which we will be henceforth pursuing. (And I've promised her coffee -- not decent coffee, though, just coffee, so don't be surprised when she starts complaining about American coffee. This always brings out the jingoist in me: I'm surprised that we don't have more conversations along the lines of "I can't find a good cup of coffee over here." "Yeah, well, if it wasn't for that coffee, you'd be speaking German." "Japanese, more likely. Can we just go to Starbucks, already?") I love me some dim sum! Also, some Rah!

Meanwhile, on the board, I'd like to thank cjl, KdS, Earl Allison, Malandanza, BMF, shadowkat, and a cast of thousands for initiating a Golden Age of S7-bashing! If by any chance sophist drops by here, I'd just like to say that the question is not whether seasons one through six contained continuity errors; the question is whether season seven contained continuity.

New icon!

Jun. 5th, 2003 07:29 pm
In honor of the Bay Area meet (at which, to correct the popular misapprehension, I did not guzzle 16 sample beers, but merely tasted 4 -- plus a rather large glass that was mine alone . . . and a little bit of wine, because how often do you sit with a vintner?).

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April 2009

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