Wandering Through Thursday – Throwback, MiMM, Thoughts and Tasty Tunes!

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Wow … holy ‘what happened to Wednesday’, Batman!?! Actually I know EXACTLY what happened … and it is a good thing. Aside from craziness at work, three areas I have talked about addressing – dawdling before my run, doing bodyweight exercises, and no computer in bed – have all been going well, and that immediately cuts into the time I would use for blogging.

So Wednesday’s post had already been changed around (hopefully all these changes means next week will be smoother), but I never finished it and ran out of time, so today I have a whole bunch of stuff crammed together – so let’s get to it!

Throwback Thursday

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This isn’t too old – just last year. We brought Danny to East Stroudburg University for the American Music Abroad program, and before they headed to Europe they had a few days of intense rehearsals. That left Lisa, Chris and I to do things for a few days. One thing we wanted to to was hit NYC for the day … and while the weather was pretty miseable, we had a blast.

Going to a music store if you are a non-musician is boring at best, but for musicians Guitar Center is a blast! The Boston store is better than the one in NYC, but they are both loads of fun. Since I play guitar, bass and keyboards and have a digital music studio … I could lose myself for the day if I wasn’t painfully aware of how awful it is for Lisa. But apparently I lost myself enough while noodling on a cool semi-hollow jazz guitar that Lisa grabbed this picture of me. Chris was in his element working the CDJ-2000! If only he had a spare $10k it would have been his!

New York City is one of the places we are considering for vacation this summer, because we have never all gone together, and there are colleges both kids want to visit – which is a key element to our vacation plans. I’m sure we’ll find a bit of Guitar Center time in there as well!

Hurray for Spring!

I was so thrilled Tuesday morning when I woke up before my alarm and was ready to head out on my run. It was made better because the temperature hadn’t dropped close to zero as was predicted, and was 19F with light winds when I started out. That was still cold, but rather than worrying so much about being warm enough, I could just toss on a pretty standard outfit and go!

Wednesday was an odd one because the thermometer read 39, but it was windy … and the wind was quite chilly, making it feel more like 25. Still … 25F is pretty nice running weather! The issue is always getting too warm when the wind is blocked and then chilled when the wind kicks up.

And for the first day of spring? Again it was 39, but the wind was much warmer, and it was just a glorious day for running!

Oh, and how I talked about ‘working my plan’? By Thursday most weeks I would have about 26 miles done (not counting Sunday) … this week? 35 miles Monday – Thursday! And still home by 6AM every day! Sorry I’m not sorry that has messed up my blogging and writing for other sites!

Marvelous in My Monday Wednesday

On Monday I whined talked about dealing with the winter blahs … but what that really meant for me was how to get the weather out of the way so I could enjoy my run. Apparently expecting -2F and getting +20F was JUST the thing! So suddenly things went from ‘blah’ to … marvelous!

MiMM

And as I thought about it, another draft-in-progress got kicked to next week, as I decided a hybrid of sorts was in order – my normal ‘thinking out loud’ along with a ‘marvelous in my Monday’. I loved Arman’s take this week, and want to link up for MiMM with … so here goes:

Danny Tux

Marvelous is – a picture of my older son in his tux at a fitting, seeing how much he has grown into a young man and how great he looks.

Chris Mens Wearhouse

Marvelous is – a selfie from my younger son from the same location, just hanging out being him.
Marvelous is – practicing ballroom dancing with Lisa, not being very good, but laughing and banging into each other and other things and getting the dogs all riled up.

Marvelous is – my running. I am not the fastest or best by any stretch. I am me … and that is good enough.

Marvelous is – reading. I had really wanted a minimum of a book a month, but haven’t finished ANY yet; with my Lenten commitment to keeping the computer away, I have been SO much better, and am nearly finished with ‘Night Watch’. Will I re-read the full series before the new one? Who knows … but at least I have a good start!

Marvelous is – my ability to get up tomorrow and run. I never take it for granted. I am not yet old, but certainly not young … and I know too many people who cannot do it.

Marvelous is – Food. In every sense. I talk about my disordered dealings with food, and it is a constant challenge for me. I am happy with how I am balancing fueling and control … I am not gorging myself, nor am I denying myself or restricting. Balance.

Marvelous is – my marriage. For whatever reason, yesterday we each had people at work remarking positively on our relationship, which always feels good – after so many years we don’t need external validation … but hearing that those feelings shine outside of ourselves is pretty cool.

Marvelous is – my wife, who makes me proud and happy and giddy all the time.

Marvelous is – our dogs, who are so full of love and joy and spirit.

Marvelous is – our 13-year old ‘cancer kitty’ Leo, who we decided not to have treated two years ago … and he is still happily tormenting the neighbrhood!

Marvelous is – Dolly, the 9 or 10 year old cat we have been ‘cat sitting’ for three years …

Marvelous is – music; I wish there was more time for me to work on playing and writing music … but what time I DO get fills my heart with joy.

Marvelous is – reading all of the awesome race summaries from last weekend. There were great reads from Cori, Hollie, Lisa and Lauren among others. Each has loads of interesting insights and details. It is a reminder that no two races are the same … which is true even when it is the same race.

A few other things (since this is a Wednesday):
The Post-Google Post-Buzzfeed World
We all see the headlines like ‘5 Power Mega Super Marathon Tips You MUST DO NOW’ … and of course the article tells you ‘hydrate, build mileage, fuel, practice race pace, and taper’. Um, yeah thanks.

The reality is that bloggers live in a world where Google’s page rank dominates search traffic and makes people use SEO as a guiding light of life. The result is that more and more blogs look like Buzzfeed (or Upworthy) with a bunch of over-blown titles that claim the universe.

Depending on who is reading this, there might be one or two recent articles that come to mind. I am not singling anyone out – because it is much more of a cumulative problem!

I was cleaning out my various feeds – Feedly, email subscriptions, Bloglovin and WordPress – and I have a HUGE number of feeds in differemnt areas. I track stuff from running, health, music, technology, video games, gadgets, deals, statistics, science, humor and offbeat stuff, and so on. And guess what – ALL of those areas are moving to the SEO-centric view.

The problem when you are confronted with dozens of titles with ‘Must Read’ or ‘Ultimate’ or ‘Essential’ or whatever other hyperbolic terms you can imagine? They stop being eye-catching and become annoying. And when I start to feel like I am being ‘gamed’, I bristle. I had friends at blogs in the past who I have stopped following and commenting … and when they asked why I would say ‘when you stop with 300 iPhone link-bait posts during the pre-announcement cycle I will come back’.

Fortunately there were very few of my running/health blogs falling into that category … and those that are, I am willing to cut some slack for a bit …

The Power of Optimized Mediocrity

I love this article called “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Mediocre People”, on accepting that most of us are not the whiz-kid billionaire types, but still want to do well and make a good life.

As far as I can tell, Larry Page has never failed. He went straight from graduate school to billions. Ditto for Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and a few others. But again, by definition, most of us are pretty mediocre. We can strive for greatness but we will never hit it. So it means we will often fail. Not always fail. But often.

I often read there motivational images about ‘being anything you want’. That is a nice aspiration, but the reality is you should focus on figuring out who you are and becoming the best version of that!

Totally NOT Marvelous Race Reports

As much as I love reading a great race report, there was also some tough news out of this weekend.

At the Shamrock, 16-year old Cameron Gallagher collapsed seconds after finishing and never regained a heart beat. It is a sad and tragic story …

But according to Runner’s World not the only one. In the UK at the Brooks Fleet Pre-London Half Marathon, an unidentified 40+ year old man collapsed and died near the end of the race.

And at the NYC half-marathon, a runner collapsed but was resuscitated quickly.

It is a sad reminder of the risks associated with any physical exertion – and that a half marathon is not a trivial challenge.

Still not sure about the ‘student athlete’

Because we are plunging into ‘March Madness’, it is time once again to remind ourselves that these kids are supposedly ‘students’. Of course, most are SINO (students in name only), having been recruited based on non-scholastic skills, put into ‘academic’ programs designed around the athletic department, and so on. Realistically, these kids are pro athletes, in the business of playing a sport for a school rather than a city.

I think my biggest problem is the distinction between ‘pros in college’ and ‘student athletes’. When I was at RPI the hockey team won the national championship and was a major powerhouse. The school also gave scholarships for other sports, but it was different. The hockey players had their own housing, whereas my first roommate was on the basketball team. Hockey players were almost all in the same academic program, basketball players were accepted into the school and THEN given scholarships.
Of course even hockey players were not all the same – there were some ‘pucks’ as we called them who had little academic skill to offer, others who might not have made it in without hockey, and still others who were both smart AND good players.

Lauren at WillRunForBoston talked about it recently, about how “In college, running wasn’t a hobby. I was on scholarship at a Division I team and I had to give cross country and track 110%.”

But I also draw a distinction between a more ‘pure’ athletic pursuit like track, and the ‘road to pro’ sports such as football and basketball. Think about it – I remember that Larry Bird went to Indiana State and Magic Johnson went to Michigan State … and those schools use that information to get more money for everything they do.

How You Game vs. How You Work

While my constant chatter on video games gives some a case of MEGO, there is a lot that can be learned about people by how they play games. This study just came up again, and talks about different types of video games and how the players approach work and other problems.

I was going to talk about this for Friday, but it really isn’t worth it … I am an engineer and statistician, whose life every day includes planning experiments, analyzing results, and so on. It is not surprising that strategic games or number-heavy role-playing games are most interesting to me, as well as story-centric action games.

And for this totally random brain-dump I’m linking up with Amanda once again. I have really enjoyed doing this, if you can’t tell …

Thinking-Out-Loud

This week’s JAM is Jack DeJohnette ‘Special Edition’ box set

This isn’t really new, but is one of those things that I never gave proper attention when it came out a couple of years ago – it is a remastered box set and I own two of the albums already. But rather than immerse myself, I just listened to the new versions of what I already owned and then moved on.

Last week I had the song ‘Third World Anthem’ in my head, so I pulled out my CD of ‘Irresistable Forces’, from the 1987 incarnation of Jack Dejohnette’s Special Edition. The CD is out of print, so when I left it in my car but wanted to hear it in the house I realized I hadn’t imported it into iTunes … and that the version from ‘Album Album’ WAS on my iTunes. So suddenly I was listening to this amazing four album set …

Here is the press info:

Special Edition – a band with revolving membership and an incredible cast of soloists including David Murray, Arthur Blythe and Chico Freeman – was one of the most sophisticated vehicles for Jack DeJohnette’s all-around talents. This set brings together the albums Special Edition (ECM 1152), Tin Can Alley (ECM 1189), Inflation Blues (ECM 1244) and Album Album (ECM 1280), underscoring the excitement of invention and possibility one can hear in this era of DeJohnette’s career. The recordings reveal him as an artist in touch with tradition even as he sought the cutting edge of the day, paying homage to his jazz heroes yet experimenting with new sounds. There are echoes of old New Orleans grooves and Swing-era big bands in this collection, as well as material crafted with the techniques of ’80s pop singles; there are ambitious suite-like compositions, and there is spontaneously lowdown rhythm & blues.
Recorded 1979-1984 and remastered from original tapes for ECM’s Old & New Masters series.

Across the four albums we hear the following musicians:

Jack DeJohnette on drums, piano, organ, congas, timpani, melodica, vocals; David Murray on tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Arthur Blythe on alto saxophone; Chico Freeman on soprano and tenor saxophones, flute, bass clarinet; John Purcell on alto and baritone saxophones, flutes, alto clarinet; Rufus Reid on bass, electric bass; Peter Warren on double bass, cello; Baikida Carroll on trumpet.

What I love about ‘Special Edition’ is that it is a free jazz group working in a highly composed environment and led by one of the great drummers of jazz. DeJohnette played with Miles Davis on Bitches Brew and On The Corner amongst others – he could play straight jazz, fusion, funk and free.

The rest of the group is like a who’s who of the late-70s free jazz movement, so if you look up any of them on AllMusic and look at their output you will find some real gems. Rufus Read is responsible for one of the ‘must have’ books for bass players (The Evolving Bassist) … and all of that knowledge just spills out on these recordings.

Ultimately ‘Album Album’ remains my favorite recording from this collection, but that is largely because of ‘Third World Anthem’. Check it out below!

The albums are available on ECM Records for 19.90 Euros (converted)and Amazon for $28.49.

Here is a live recording of the 1988 band playing Third World Anthem:

So … what is running through YOUR mind this Thursday?

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15 thoughts on “Wandering Through Thursday – Throwback, MiMM, Thoughts and Tasty Tunes!

  1. Your list of marvelous things really made me smile and I LOVE the pictures of your boys! They both seem to have the most awesome personalities. 🙂
    And that is quite a warm front you guys are getting up there!

    I was so devastated to hear about that girl at Shamrock and now the other news too. (I hadn’t heard about either of the half marathon runners.) I recently made an upcoming appointment just for a check up with a general doctor to make sure everything is in correct working order if I’m going to be out doing this.

    (Thank you for the shout out BTW. I checked out the other recaps you posted too and just found myself a few new awesome blogs!)

    • I think I find awesome blogs every day from either comments or links in posts … and all I can say is STOP people, you’re burying me! 🙂

      My boys definitely are a couple of characters, and as you might guess from the pictures … totally different.

      When I ran Wineglass last year it was record heat for upstate NY in early October … and I saw two people taken away in ambulances and had a policeman stop me looking for another collapsed runner and the medical tent was overflowing. Scary stuff …

  2. “when I start to feel like I am being ‘gamed’, I bristle”

    This line connects with me. When I can see the way a company, website, coworker, whoever try to game me, I’m instantly repelled from whatever it is. For the SEO stuff, I get that playing to Google’s algorithm will drive you more traffic and if your business model is built on traffic, then there you go, but I’m not clicking!

    • So true – I understand that people want to have their site self-sustaining, and maybe even earn a few $$ … but when it becomes difficult to tell if a post is being done because they care or because they think it will generate more hits, someone needs to tell them. But because the culture is non-confrontational with these blogs, no one will!

  3. Really enjoyed reading your list of marvelous things. I especially like this one – Marvelous is – my running. I am not the fastest or best by any stretch. I am me … and that is good enough. I wish everyone could come to that realization, but it’s tough.

    • Thanks Megan – as the saying goes, running is the same if you are fast or slow. It was something that came up again for my Saturday post … and I think it is something that leads too many people to injury.

  4. I love what you said about your ability to run being marvelous. I feel like exercise has become a burden for so many people, and they have to ‘force’ themselves to get through it without really enjoying it. It used to be the same way for me until I lost my health and was forced to take a break from all sorts of physical activity. It’s sad that we never realize how beautiful something is until we’ve lost it, and I truly believe that being able to see how blessed we are, even with the smallest things, is one of the keys to being happy. Also… love your devotion to, and appreciation of, your family — even the fur baby members 🙂

    • Thanks Amanda – that is such an important point! Given that two people in my house (wife and older son) will never really be able to recreationally run due to joint issues (and arthritis and other issues for my wife), I NEVER take it for granted … I guess I am lucky that it has never in 25 years been a burden for me.

      As for fur babies … well, I just will never get people who can just discard animals when they have kids. These are living loving creatures you have made a part of your family …

  5. Pingback: Five Things Friday – Vacation Ideas for 2014 and More! | Running Around the Bend

  6. I am a little behind on reading blogs this week but thanks for the shout out! I’m also glad the weather is starting to warm up (although there is talk of more snow on Tuesday…) but hopefully you are done with the single digit runs?!
    And its always marvelous to be able to run! Never something that should be taken for granted:)

    • You’re only a little behind? Then you’re WAY ahead of me! 🙂 I think last Monday will be the final single digit run … this week was the first week without a sub-zero morning! Yay! Sure we might get some snow early next week as well, but then it hits the 50s so I am not worried!

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