Thursday, December 25, 2008

What The Kids' Got For Christmas

Smarty McSmartypants and his sister, Know-it-all McSmartypants knew they were getting a Wii for Christmas and even knew the box.  ("That is totally a Wii, that is the shape of a Wii box.  That is the first box we are going to open.  I know that is a Wii!  I know it!  I know it is!") Weren't they surprised when they opened this:

(Yes, that was a brick.)

I was bound and determined to make the little monsters suffer for at least a few minutes, but A took one look at F's devastated face and sent them to the basement where it was all set up and ready to play.  

My Finger Tips = Velcro

The dry air of winter and my obsessive hand-washing has turned my fingertips to this:

I moisturize repeatedly with the thickest goo I can find, focus on the tips - really work it in there, and I still can't get rid of the dry skin that seems to tug ever so irritatingly on any fabric with fine filaments - silk ties, running shirts, fleece jackets.  It is driving me nuts!

Wait, I have to go wash my hands and moisturize.  Gotta run.

Thank God That's Over II

Thank God Christmas and the season of gluttony is finally over.  No more presents and no more massive quantities of food.  Let me amend that, more presents and food at my mom's house tomorrow, but small in comparison to what has taken place since Thanksgiving and especially the last few days.  With the kids off of school I have been thrown a little off my schedule so I feel like I have not been getting in the workouts I need.  Next week they are still around but it will be much calmer as we will not be traveling and New Year's will be a relatively calm affair with friends.  I plan on getting on my bike/trainer and picking up the weights again.

I can not believe how much crap we have now acquired.  (Thank you to everyone for all the presents.  I am in no way suggesting that the thoughtful gift you gave is "crap," it is all the other presents that people gave us that are "crap".  Your gift is perfect!)  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE "crap" as much as the next person, but until it all finds a home, it feels cluttery and like we have a bunch of "crap".  

I am happy to say that I received the items below:

The flashlight is from E and the other items were stocking stuffers from A.  I gave A a nice, warm robe (we weren't supposed to give each other gifts, but I couldn't help myself) and I encouraged her to buy herself a North Face down parka in a girls size large which, by the way, costs half the price of the women's version.  It fits perfectly.  Sometimes, it pays to be petite.

At the in-law's house we had our traditional dinner Christmas meal complete with birthday cake for Jesus.

I ate so much that I had heartburn so bad it kept waking me up.  Ah, mission accomplished.  Now I can start working it all off.  Yippee!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Finnism

While watching Ni Hao, Kai-lan on Nickelodeon, A asked E if this was a Chinese Dora the Explorer.  F, who was playing on the computer, looks over his shoulder and says, "That's an idiotic show."

Monday, December 22, 2008

Too Much and Too Soon

Well, today is the first full day of winter (officially) and we have already had a handful of double-digit, sub-zero days with windchills in the negative multiples of ten.  I have lived in Minnesota my entire life and I honestly can't remember a year where it has been this cold and this snowy, this early.  These temps are normal for the end of January.  It makes me wary of a protracted winter in the deep freeze.  To make matters worse, I keep reading blogs of people who live in Hawaii.  Talk about self-torture.  Later on tonight or tomorrow morning I will, again, bundle up and shovel and blow the one-to-three inches of snow we are supposed to get while trying to keep my fingertips from turning blue (again) and my boogers from freezing. 

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cold, but not AS cold

Ran again this morning and this time it was in the "acceptable" range for the rest of my running group.  (Erika has a tummy bug, so didn't make it.)  Mary took pictures to document our frostiness, but the steam from her hot, sweaty hands kept obscuring the lens.  Here are the best three shots.  Mary told all of us to smile and we did - but we all had face masks on. Even after we pointed that out she still told us to smile and we all still did.  Running in bitter cold makes us dumb.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Easy Rider

A few posts back I was lamenting my lack of enthusiasm for my poor bike.  As indicated, we needed to see the counselor (also known as Helton, our favorite Brazilian at Penn Cycle.)  When he heard my plight he reminded me of something he told me on the day I bought my bike - "That saddle is shit!"  I wasn't expecting to buy a new saddle, but I imagined I would walk out of their spending money on something.  He gave me the pitch and since the only thing that was keeping me out of the saddle was my sore ass, I figured he might be onto something.  To make a boring story short - I have a new saddle and it makes a world of difference.  Now, if I could just get past the mind numbing boredom of riding on the trainer.

The solution

My new Christmas plan

I have a plan for Christmas that I have been developing over the last couple of years. We probably spend a couple of hundred dollars on each of the kids on a variety of toys. These toys are inevitably the "thing I have wanted all my life" and bring mere minutes of amusement before they are cast aside to be moved from one place to another by me or A until they finally end up at Goodwill or in the garbage.  

So here is what I am going to do.  I am going to give each kid two one-hundred dollar bills and a small box of matches.  Then I am going to have each of them invite over a bunch of their friends.  With their friends around them in a circle on the driveway, each of my children will get to hold a hundred dollar bill and light it with a match.  I figure there will be as much excited squealing and intense interest in this as there has been in any of the presents we have gotten for them.  It's all very neat and tidy and we won't have to mess around finding the perfect thing (which doesn't exist anyway) then carting it off to the land of mis-used toys (also known as Goodwill.)

It won't happen this year, but one year I will be satisfied.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Balaclava does not equal Baklava


One is good to eat (baklava).  The other you wear on your face (balaclava).  Actually, you could probably wear both on your face.  Mmmmm, baklava balaclava.


That was the temperature at 5:15 according to  According to the local news the temp was -11 with a -25 windchill.  Take your pick, it was still unbelievably cold. What to do?  What to do?  Well, I had been awake since 4:00 AM and had all my warm clothes laid out so - run.  And it was a great run.  I saw one other runner, two walkers and one guy walking his dog. My watch was buried under so many layers that I didn't even bother starting it.  This run wasn't about time or distance really, it was about getting out there in any weather and running.  (You know, the "what doesn't kill me makes me stronger" mentality.)  When I got home I realized how scary I must have looked - my facemask and hat were frost covered and I had ice on my eyebrows and eyelashes.  

I have to tell you that I dressed perfectly.  No cold spots and no overheating.  And my shoes with the screws in the soles - great.  (They do have a finite amount of grip and seemed to help little on skating-rink-smooth ice.)

For the record, this is what I wore - bottom to top.  (This is also meant as a reminder for the next time it's this cold and I can't remember what I had on.)
Asics Cumulus 10 with screws in the soles
Wrightsock crew sock
CW-X tights
Patagonia Capilene long underwear
Brooks wind boxer
Patagonia Integral pant
Patagonia Silk Weight Capilene t-shirt
The North Face Momentum 1/4 zip top
Patagonia Wind Shield jacket
Patagonia stretch shell jacket
Patagonia mid-weight glove liners (periwinkle)
Asics Winter Run mittens
Stretch balaclava
REI Power Stretch beanie

Looking at it this way that is a lot of clothes!  (And Patagonia has a lot of my money.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Why I run

Motivation has been a big issue lately.  Issue not in the sense that I don't have any or can't find it, issue in the sense that it has been on my mind a lot lately.  I have read some interesting blog posts and articles about motivation and more important than "motivation" is "passion" or "inspiration".  So, I have decided what that "inspiration" is for me.  I guess I could keep it to myself, but I feel like writing it down will help me connect and re-connect with it in the future.  I do it for the chicks.

That is totally untrue!  The reason I love to run (and swim and, somewhat, bike) is that I get to this point where I can't believe that I am doing what I am doing.  Confusing perhaps, but I get this flash that I am doing what I am doing under my own power and that the human body - particularly mine - baffles and amazes me.  I tell my legs or my arms to do this "thing" over and over again and don't stop until I tell you to or until we have reached a certain point - and they do it.  I hurt and they keep doing it.  I get bored and they keep doing it.  I get tired and they keep doing it.  I get scared and they keep doing it.  I get distracted and they keep doing it. And when I say "they" I really mean "me" (or to be grammatically correct in the above sentences, "I".)  

I came across a quote from a book I will be reading that resonated with me (thanks Simon):

“Members of the endurance subculture grow so close to the subject they lose sight of the vastness of their achievement. Without thought or even the barest of acknowledgement, they pass through mental and physical boundaries on a daily basis. Meanwhile, the public stands in awe.” – Mike Plant, author of Iron Will

I "awe" myself.  At times I just go and hammer and don't think twice, but then it will dawn on me that what I have done is pretty special.  And what the people I run with have done is pretty special.  Not the distance or the time or the effort, just the activity.  Not everyone wants to or, more importantly, can do what I do.  It is an ability that I take for granted, but every so often, it presents itself in such a way that I can do nothing but be thankful for it.  

I run for that reason - because it makes me thankful for, and in awe of, everything I have been given.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What the...?

Why is it that the worse the weather gets, the more I want to be out in it?  It is supposed to get down to six below zero tonight and stay cold for the next couple of days and all I find myself doing is trying to figure out what I need to wear to run in weather like this.  I am not supposed to run tomorrow, but now I want to because it's going to be so cold.  I may need a different hobby.

Then, I read an article and have see a couple of blog posts on "screwing your shoes".  We totally used to do this to our boots with the big lug soles when I was growing up in Brainerd.  I think I am going to take a shot and try it with an old pair of shoes (I have about eight pairs laying around here.)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Reliving Summer

It is even colder here now, so I am looking for more escapes.  I found a montage/recap video from the Summer Olympics that has been satisfying some of my need for warm memories.  Hopefully, it will help you a little bit, too.  

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Red Monkey Butt

This is how I felt after this morning's run.  My lower body was dressed about one layer too light and combined with 12 degrees and some wind, my ass froze.  Now would be a good time for the "Ass Hood."  Erika, get to work on that.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Damn You!

Why aren't you more inviting? I need to love you. It's not that you are uncomfortable, it's just that riding you in place is the absolutely most boring thing I have ever done. TV doesn't help (unless I just haven't found the right thing to watch.) I struggle to 30 minutes and then abandon all hope and leave you in your corner in the basement alone and lonely. Perhaps new trinkets (like a better seat) would help, but I doubt it. I would much rather run for two hours outside in the freezing cold than spend time with you. For that I am sorry and I will pay the price if I don't spend more time with you on a consistent basis. I think we need to go see the counselor and make sure we fit now that you have aero-bars. I will make an appointment for next week. Please be patient with me and know that I want to make this work, it is just really difficult. See you soon.


We have fallen into the depths of winter around here (-1 this morning = Brrrrr!)  In an effort to stay motivated and to provide motivation for others (you know who you are), I offer this video.  I have been watching it repeatedly because it: a) has a kickin' techno soundtrack, b) is a triathlon, c) takes place in warm, sunny Hawaii.  Enjoy and let me know if you need additional motivation and I will see what I can dig up.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Weight loss products - hmmmm

When I searched with the term "weight," this page popped up.  Is someone not so subtly implying that a toothbrush might also be a good weight loss product?

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Small talk at the dinner table tonight from F,  "So, Gramps, how's that heart of yours doing?" 

("Very well now that I have that pacemaker, but I still can't hear a damn thing you say.")

Friday, December 5, 2008

Suck It 40!

I just got back from renewing my drivers license and I passed the eye exam without wearing my glasses.  So, I no longer am required to wear glasses to drive.  Next thing you know I will be able to eat copious amounts of food without gaining weight, stay up all night and still function the next day, join Facebook and start playing video games all day*.  Since I have turned 40 it's like time is running backward.  

(*Don't worry, Honey, I am saying all those things facetiously.)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Da Na Na Na Na Na Na! You say it's your birthday!

Da Na Na Na Na Na Na! It's my birthday, too! Yeah!

On my birthday in history - 


Illinois became the 21st state in the United States.

Oberlin College in Ohio became the first coed institution of higher learning in the U.S.

In Cincinnati, Ohio, eleven fans are killed during a stampede for seats before a Who concert at Riverfront Coliseum.

Dr. Christiaan Barnard performs the first successful heart transplant in Cape Town, South Africa.

Deadly gas leaks from a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India , killing more than 2,000 people and injuring 200,000.


1948 - Ozzy Osbourne, English singer ("singer" in the loosest sense of the word.)

1955 - Warren Jeffs, American convicted polygamist (Poster-child for dirty old men.)

1960 - Daryl Hannah, American actress ("actress" in the loosest sense of the word.)

1965 - Katarina Witt, German figure skater ("Super hot Olympic skater" in the strictest sense of the word.)

1968 - Brendan Fraser, American actor ("actor" in the loosest sense of the word.)

Overall not the worst day to be born. A nice mix of positive events - Illinois begat Chicago, Co-ed colleges begat my wife, heart transplants begat life saving - and tragedies - The Who begat the end of "festival seating," Union Carbide begat mass killing. Unfortunately, others who share my birthday, with the exception of Katarina Witt, seem to be marginally talented hacks and/or total creeps. I hope that doesn't reflect on me.

One final thought:

Lines On Facing Forty

I have a bone to pick with Fate.
Come here and tell me, girlie,
Do you think my mind is maturing late,
Or simply rotted early?

-- Ogden Nash

Tuesday, December 2, 2008



"I would like to have 'The Force', it's like having Jesus in my heart."  (I think parochial school is confusing my child.)

Winter Night

This is not the greatest image but, last night the sky was simply amazing.  There was a crescent moon and Venus and Jupiter were super bright.  The above image was taken at about 5:50 PM, but it was most spectacular about a half hour earlier when the sun was going down and the sky was the most beautiful purply, blue/black (and I was driving to the U so I couldn't take a picture.)  (If I find a good picture from someone I will post it.)  Nature is pretty amazing.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Two days left

Today is December 1st, 2008.  I only have two days left of my thirties.  Wednesday I turn 40.  On one level it's not such a bad thing.  People who don't know me very well assume I am younger (maybe it's because I am so immature.)  I am in pretty good shape and I have most of my hair (although it has been thinning - and thanks A for reminding me about that.)  I have also been avoiding, up to this point, feeling particularly 40.  It does help that I started to enjoy running as much as I have so I have energy and have avoided injury.  But 40 isn't really that old is it?  

On another level I feel kind of sad.  It doesn't help that I am "celebrating" another decade and I am currently under-employed.  The hair on my head is thinning yet I am growing hair in areas I haven't before. (Nose and ear hair clipping is now a regular grooming regimen - sorry if that was TMI.) My kids are getting older, my mom retired and I like to watch the History Channel. Oh, well - there isn't anything I can do about it so I will just keep plowing ahead.