30 Days of Gratitude – Day #22, Getting Old Might Suck, But Who Really Wants to Be Young Forever?!

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Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am thankful for the years I have behind me.

Day #22 – Aging Is Not Always Bad

Our society puts a high premium on youth, but that is mostly in terms of appearance – we want our celebrities young and beautiful. But as noted by Chrissy, being (or even looking) young makes it hard to be taken seriously.

Recently we have seen several examples of people who either are trying to go back, or not move on, or something. These might be mid-life crises, people in college really wanting to still be in high school; wanting to be single and in their 20s again, and so on. The motivations for this vary, but they mostly seem to stem from fear or regret – maybe someone fears moving away from home or having kids or getting married, or they regret the path they took or choices they made.

But getting older isn’t all bad – and of course it really isn’t optional!

What I find interesting is the way some in our community are dealing with it. Amanda had a great post about when PRs are behind you, addressing the reality that eventually there will be nothing we can do to get faster.

Then Harold laid out the alternatives pretty clearly:

being dead

or

being old

Personally while I do wish I had discovered racing back when I started running, I have no desire to be in my 20s again … or even my 30s. I loved those years – my 20s were a journey of discovery as I went from fat to fit, assuming I’d be single forever to married. My 30s brought our two boys, home ownership, great accomplishments professionally, and amazing times with Lisa.

Our 40s have seen our boys become great young men, my layoff and move to Corning NY, and some of the best times of my marriage. The last few years have seen my running restart with vigor, taking my daily mileage from 2.5 to 7.5 miles, cutting 33% off my pace, and the first races of my life.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I know I will get older, as will everyone around me. I look forward to seeing where the boys and up and how Lisa and I can continue our grand adventure!

How do you feel about getting older?

How about some songs about getting old? There is a fun list on Slate, but I’ll just go with The Who … because of the delicious irony of 70+ year old geezers still trying to rock like they are in their 20s!

30 Days of Gratitude – Day #21, You Guys Are Awesome (Mustache Some Questions Post)

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Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am thankful for this incredible blog and social media community.

Day #21 – Sorry … NOT Sorry!

OK, when I got tagged not once but twice I thought ‘how am I going to do ANOTHER’ award post as a Gratitude post? Then I realized something – I don’t have to fake it!

Truth is, I would have totally left this blog and the community behind if it wasn’t for all of you great people – over the last couple of years since I started reading running & healthy living blogs and writing my own blog, I have learned SO much (um, tapering, fartleks, compression, I could go on forever!) – and thoroughly enjoyed ‘meeting’ so many great people. It is definitely something I am grateful for!

So when I got nominated by Harold and Nicky Nicole (sorry, couldn’t help myself!) to add my own post, naturally I could’t say no!

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4 names that people call me, other than my real name:
1. Dad
2. Mr. Anderson (normal)
3. Mr. Anderson (Matrix voice)
4. Mikey A (old nickname from high school & college, heard it a couple of times at reunion this spring!)

4 jobs I’ve had:
1. Newspaper delivery (Brockton Enterprise, Boston Herald, Boston Globe)
2. Retail associate (Bradlees, through high school & college)
3. Optical Engineer
4. Statistician

4 movies I’ve watched more than once (OK, since THAT list is in the thousands I’ll go with the ‘memorized’ concept):
1. Star Wars original trilogy (OK, three movies is cheating, but at least I narrowed it from all 6!)
2. Harry Potter movies (more cheating)
3. Real Genius, Airplane and Better Off Dead (yes, still more cheating)
4. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

4 books I’d recommend (I just did yet another book post, so these are recent books never on one of my lists … links are NOT affiliate, just Kindle links):
1. The Art of Racing in the Rain (2009) by Garth Stein
2. Burial Rites (2013) by Hannah Kent
3. Gone Girl (2012) by Gillian Flynn
4. Sweet Tooth (2012) by Ian McEwan (Lisa was *not* a huge fan of this one 🙂

4 places I have lived (yeah, not big on moving 🙂 ):
1. Stoughton, MA. (25 years)
2. Troy, NY (college years)
3. Acton, MA (4 years)
4. Townsend, MA (13 years)
5. Horseheads, NY (last 6.5 years)

4 places I have been (tough choices!):
1. Cape Cod (about a million times during my life!)
2. Disney World (by myself once, and a few times with the kids!)
3. Karlsruhe Germany (a couple of weeks on business but plenty of time to explore!)
4. Antigua (honeymoon – such great memories!)

4 places I’d rather be right now:
1. Boston area / Cape Cod
2. London
3. Somewhere in the Carribean
4. San Francisco

4 things I don’t eat (perhaps this illustrates part of my food problem!):
1. Clams due to a strong reaction (by extension I don’t touch mussels or oysters), not allergic, but will be on the couch all day
2. Um … I tend to avoid processed foods, fried foods, packaged sweets, ‘chemical soup’ etc. But those are ‘avoid’, not ‘don’t eat’.

4 of my favorite foods:
1. Ice cream
2. Fresh fruit
3. Sweet potato
4. Peanut butter

4 TV shows that I watch:
1. Twin Peaks (Old Fave / re-watching)
2. Doctor Who
3. Castle
4. Grimm

4 things I’m looking forward this year:
1. Maintaining running, fitness, weight
2. Danny graduating and starting college
3. Chris doing his college search
4. Whatever adventures Lisa and I have

4 things I’m always saying:
1. How are the college applications going?
2. Are you guys almost done with homework … we’re going to bed
3. Time to wake up!
4. True story!

Have you done one of these posts? If not … consider yourself nominated 🙂

30 Days of Gratitude – Day #20, Another Year of 3000+ Running Miles

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Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am thankful for the joy of all those boring miles I run!

Day #20 – As I have said – BORING!

One of my earliest blog posts from over a year ago was called “Mostly the Miles are Just Boring” (I did a ‘from the archives post here), where I talked about my thoughts about blogging:

Back when I started this blog I was conflicted – I was planning to talk about running and ‘healthy living’, but wasn’t planning a hardcore running or foodie blog. At the time the blogs I most enjoyed were ones written by runners with more to discuss than just running.

At this point I have stopped doing weekly summaries, occasionally do monthly summaries, and generally just keep track quarterly. I do like looking back over time and see how I have been feeling and what I have been doing in terms of runs and running. And of course I love getting comments and feedback and getting to read others’ insights.

Oh, and this:

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I mean, because hugs are always good, right? Even sweaty, gross, post-run hugs! 🙂

Most of all … I just love running. Not racing, ‘training’, talking about running … just getting out and running. Not running FOR something, TOWARDS something, or whatever … just running.

And this week I have once again passed 3000 miles for the year!

I really thought that last year with 3150 miles (2012 was just under 2000 in 9 months) would be my peak, but this year I managed to keep up my mileage all summer in spite of not doing ‘doubles’ and never running on a day Lisa and I were both off from work.

But this past week I was reading comments on a running forum, I was reading some posts that were criticizing some running bloggers … and in particular a theme emerged about miles – that they need to have a PURPOSE, work towards an OUTCOME. Basically three opinions were formed in the comments:
– You should be getting much faster
– You should be building endurance to run longer distances without crashing
– Or … WTF, knock that crap off running those useless miles!

I can see their point – assuming we each only have so many running miles in our legs, why not put them to specific use? And it was pretty clear that the people with very strong opinions were young (20s or maybe early 30s), race-centric and very competitive. So the idea of ‘junk miles’ is clearly unappealing to that crowd. In that ‘junk miles’ post I had the following thoughts:

There are also three REALLY good reasons to focus on maximizing your training efficiency in fewer miles : injury, burnout and frustration.

If you are injury prone, or recovering while training for a new event, every mile can make you more prone to getting injured. And if you are getting stuck in a rut of doing the same thing again and again, chances are you aren’t improving and might be getting burned out and lose interest in your training. None of this is good.

So my advice would be to ditch someone else’s definition of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ miles, figure out based on your own personal experience what YOUR balance of ‘quality vs. quantity’, and develop your own optimal training plan … regardless of how someone else would judge it.

And for me … even as we had three days with air temperatures in the ‘teens’ this week including a sub-zero wind chill day, and once I got myself properly bundled up – I was happy to get out and run my miles. Yes, I am still doing a minimum of 7.5 miles per day, generally 6 days per week, long runs on the weekends and so on. And I still love running – it is not work, not a chore … and that is part of the reason I never consider myself ‘training’, because that sounds hard! I’d rather spend my weekends on an 18 mile fun run with hill repeats than on TRAINING …

How do you feel about reading running-specific blogs? Do you feel miles must have a ‘purpose’?

Um, yeah … you’ve probably never heard THIS one before (based on the number of Run ### Run blogs, anyway … )

30 Days of Gratitude – Day #19, The Joy of an Epic (or not) Read

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Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am thankful for the great stories woven by men and women through history and my ability to enjoy them.

Day #19 – Reading is Fundamental

Watching my younger son carry an over-full book bag and having a few books in his hand – Catcher in the Rye, On the Road, and a couple of others – got me to thinking this morning how much our boys love reading, and how much Lisa and I love it as well. I don’t read nearly as much as I would like, or as I have at various points in my life.

But I do try to keep a book going at all times – and to remind myself that if I am ‘done’ it is OK to set it aside rather than force myself to finish, because what generally happens is non-reading stuff takes over.

Right now I am reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, and even a few pages in I am already engaged … it looks like it deserves the high praise!

So here are 5 books I love:
1. Kurt Vonnegut – Cat’s Cradle – my favorite Vonnegut book and one of my all-time faves. I have re-read this dozens of times and always discover something new.
2. Isaac Asimov – Foundation Trilogy – yes this is a cheat choosing all three books, but it is really essential reading for the sci-fi genre, but is much more than that.
3. Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451 – although technically dated, the heart of this book is the character study of the interface of people and information and freedom.
4. Gabriel Garcia Marquez – 100 Years of Solitude – this sprawling tale of many generations of the Buendia family captured my imagination as a teen and never left. I have re-read a few times and always love it.
5. Sherwood Anderson – Winesburg, Ohio – Anderson (no relation) transports you to a small town just after the turn of the century. While there is a central character, the stories are told through the loneliness and despair that permeates the people of the town and the town itself.

This is not a new topic for me, here are some of my earlier takes on books:
Spill It Sunday Book Edition
The Facebook ’10 Books That Stayed With You’ Meme Post
Sunday Runday, Paleo Guest Post #2, Weekly Recap and my ‘Four Books’
10 Books That Touched You

Do you love to read? Recommend me a (non-running) book?

And how can I pass up finishing this with Weird Al?!?

30 Days of Gratitude – Day #18, Being Recognized

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Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am reminded that we are never too old to appreciate having something nice said about us.

Day #18 – Aw shucks, thanks 🙂 !

OK, being honest here I got nominated for a Liebster award by Carmy last week, and thought about how I was going to integrate that into my Gratitude posts … and then on Friday I got a great recognition from the leadership of the project I am working on for some things I have done. This was great for multiple reasons – it is always great being recognized for hard work, I am enjoying what I am doing and feel like I am making a difference on a project that has the potential to make a REAL difference, and well … it gave me an excuse to do another Liebster post disguised as a Gratitude post! ha!

liebster

So first off, thanks to Carmy for this excuse nomination … and let’s go!

1. What is your current health related goal?

Maintain my weight (no more, no less) and state of fitness (best of my life) and keep up my running through this stupid winter we’re starting to feel!

2. What is your biggest irrational fear?

Getting stuck. I am sure this related to always being heavy and large (separate – I am not a small person even at my thinnest), but also because I have two occasions in my childhood that I always go back to. One time in the woods behind my grandmother’s house we were exploring rocks and there was one that had a decent sized entry but the exit was too narrow for me … I started to try but no way – fortunately I could back out easily enough. The other time a few friends and I were swimming and going through the ladder … and I got stuck. Fortunately I was tall and strong enough to get myself up and breathing and then out … but it scared the crap out of me.

3. Do you enjoy wrapping presents?

As a thing unto itself? No … but in the context of giving to others, especially the wife and boys, I totally get into it. When the kids were little wrapping didn’t matter. But now it does – so we will try to disguise what is actually in the package. It makes it loads of fun.

4. What’s your favorite cross training activity?

Biking – because it is something Lisa and I can do together. We did a couple this year, and my fave was our picnic 15 miler to Sperr Park.

5. If I came to visit you, what would we do?

Definitely go for a run through the area – maybe head to the Catharine Valley Trail for a scenic run. Depending on the weather we would hike one of the gorges, do a picnic up at the top … or if it is lousy we could hit the Corning Glass Museum then explore market street and end up at the Market Street Brewery (then Market Street Coffee and Tea after!).

6. You have 2 weeks off of work and 2 round trip plane tickets to ANYWHERE. Where would you go and who would you take?

I would take Lisa, and we would go to England, starting in London and working our way all around the UK.

7. What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you during a run or race?

During my first run of the Red Baron Half Marathon I was coming to the final water stop. The road had been recently repaved, so the water stop was just off the side, and there were rough edges … and I caught one and went tumbling forward and almost took out a woman handing out water and the whole water table! haha um, yeah, embarrassing. Couple of scrapes, but nothing compared to how silly I felt!

8. Tell me the 3 best days of your life. Or at least the first 3 that pop into your mind.

The birth of our first son is definitely one of those days – Lisa had a c-section, but the OR was like a party, and Danny was so healthy and everything was just amazing and awesome.

My beautiful picture

That day when Lisa and I got together with our mutual friend in Boston and Lisa was getting off from work at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, coming down the stairs with a huge smile and her hair braided back … it is a magical moment emblazoned in my memory even 25 years later.

Wedding1

The third one that comes to mind is ‘our wedding’ … but it is funny, and Lisa and I were talking about it this weekend. We each grew up as ‘pleasers’ and it was something we worked on for many years, so it was hard to ever feel like the time leading up to our wedding was ‘ours’ – her family was in a power struggle and for my family our wedding felt like a speed bump on their quest for a great vacation with friends. And when we were married we had to deal with the shenanigans her cousins played in our room (oh so funny), and as we visited both after-parties we felt like an after-thought and were happy the next morning to be gone on our honeymoon. But we had seemed to forget how to relax.

So for my third day it would be Wednesday of our honeymoon – we’d absorbed being married, adjusted to being in a resort with a few hundred other couples with the same anniversary, and made a decision to relax. That day we were away from the hustle and bustle, playing ‘lawn chess’ with the big pieces, taking time on the tennis courts, hitting the beach to read, relaxing sitting in front of our bungalow … perfection.

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Another memorable day that I would love to count as one of my ‘best’ was the birth of Christopher. But the c-section was very difficult due to extensive scarring – and ended up with Lisa in the horpital for two weeks, and having a recovery that took her 9 months to truly feel better. And Christopher decided to join the party by nearly drowning in the amniotic fluid and have a traumatic entry, then later on stopping breathing and turning blue in front of me and ending up in the NICU. Definitely a defining moment in our lives.

9. Okay, you HAVE to eat a fast food meal. What restaurant would you choose and what would you order?

Does Panera Bread count? No … ok.

Then I would choose Subway, and get the turkey footlong on the honey oat bread, loaded up with every veggie they offer and with honey mustard for dressing.

10. Have you ever met a celebrity?

I have, but I am not a ‘star struck’ person and think the whole ‘cult of celebrity’ thing is really bizarre. But one of my favorites was meeting guitarist John Scofield in the elevator of the Charles Hotel in Cambridge and just chatting for a few minutes. He had just released Electric Outlet and was just about to finish his time with Miles Davis, and I was just a college freshman and was totally into his music, and it was a great couple of genuine moments.

11. Share a picture of yourself in non workout clothes!

Unlike what seems like the majority of bloggers, I actually spend the majority of my time in non-running clothes! Here you go:

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12. If you could choose to have a ‘do-over’ and switch careers, what would you choose and why?

If I had known I would veer towards optical physics as I finished my degree and throughout my career, I think I would have chosen University of Rochester (at the time Kodak was SO huge and the university center on electro-optics was world-leading) … but then I wouldn’t have met Lisa and my boys and had all of my other life experiences.

I am never good at these ‘do over’ things …

13. If you won the Olympic Gold Medal – how do you think you would react?

Pure horror that so many talented athletes had died that they had to finally pick me to get the medal.

14. What do you want for Christmas?

Sadly what I need most is clothes. I love buying clothes but hate spending money on myself. So as we hit the fall I have enough work pants and short-sleeved shirts … But I just went through and disposed of about 75% of my long-sleeved shirts because they were all bought in Massachusetts (note: we’ve been more than 6.5 years). So that is where I am at.

Aside from that, surprise, surprise – running stuff. More specifically – running mittens, heated gloves and/or PLEASE something to keep my hands warm! haha

15. What skill do you lack?

There are MANY skills I lack … but I assume it is something that I would WANT?

Photography. I have never been a very good photographer, and although I have become much (much) better through the years, I still suck.

Still looking for more useless nonsense about me?

This is not my first post like this … I have done three before – here, here and here! Enjoy!

Nominations?

OK, so who can I put this one back onto? I looked at Carmy and those who nominated her and those who nominated them (yes, three levels back) and made sure (I hope) I wasn’t double-nominating anyone! I love all of these bloggers and can’t wait to read what they say.

Sara at LifeBetweenTheMiles
Ann at Ann’s Running Commentary
Harold at Harold’s Running Chronicles
Laura at Fit, Fresh and Funny
Cori from She’s Going the Distance
Fallon at Slacker Runner
Michele at Paleo Running Momma
Susie at TheSuzLyfe
Sammi at Peace, Love and Ice Cream
Carina at Carina’s Running Career
Rachel at Darlin’ Rae

And as a bonus …

Danielle at T-Rex Runner for two reasons (1) I always love reading her stuff and (2) she threatened my life the last time if I ever nominated her again.

And … a video!

And this year is my 30th high school reunion, which I can’t attend (7+ hour drive over Thanksgiving weekend? Um, no) and for some reason I have been remembering one of the first high school dances we had – in the cafeteria (much lower ceiling than a gym) and the theme was Celebration … and we heard THIS song a few times …

30 Days of Gratitude – Day #17, Force of Will

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Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am thankful for the willpower to make things happen.

Day #17 – I WILL Do This!

As a kid growing up, lots of things came pretty easy for me – all of my classes at school, picking up musical instruments, and even baseball was pretty natural for me as a young kid. While that seems like all ‘upside’, the reality is that when it comes easy – you don’t have to work as hard. As a result ‘study habits’ were something I had to learn later on in life.

One thing that also came pretty easily for me as I hit puberty and beyond was gaining weight. Always a big kid with a late-to-arrive ‘full belly’ signal, during junior high, high school and college the pounds just piled on. I knew I should do two basic things: eat less and exercise more (duh). But I didn’t … I always put weight loss lower on the priority scale.

So when I made a decision at the beginning of 1989 to really get my stuff together in terms of being healthy … I was scared. I didn’t tell anyone because I assumed I would fail. I didn’t think I could do it.

But then I discovered something – willpower and control. I didn’t realize they were there all the time. All of those times I pulled an all-nighter for college finishing a project, writing up an engineering lab report or whatever – those were willpower moments, times of self-control.

But instead of feeling good about how I applied my strength of will like never before and lost nearly 200lbs in 1989, I felt ashamed … felt bad because what I was saw was that weight loss came easily like other things and was something I should have done years before. Maybe I could have … maybe not – but the important thing was I did it.

Losing 110lbs in 2012 showed me something – first that I CAN do it, and second that it is NOT trivial. I was so much more self-aware this time, partially because it wasn’t the first time, partially because I was more mature, and partially because now I was also training for a marathon and ramping my mileage.

Funny thing about fueling for a marathon while also losing an extreme amount of weight? It is a HUGE challenge! Just losing weight is much easier (for me) – I could just leverage my control and do unhealthy food restriction and celebrate my hunger and watch the pounds drop off as I was running just a few miles daily.

But when I was running 50+ miles, working to cut my pace and do weekend long runs … I needed FUEL. That meant eating things I KNEW were calorie and protein and fat dense. And THAT was hard.

But I did it … and I have maintained it for 2.5 years now, with no intention of letting it go.

Point is – I sold myself short by thinking it was easy. It never was … it was really hard, and I have my strong will and self-control to thank.

Do things come easily to you or do you have to put your all into what you do?

Not gonna lie – ran this song through my head more than a few times when I was first losing weight back in ’89 …

30 Days of Gratitude – Day #16, I Could NOT Have Done That

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Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am thankful for the moment of realizing that my kids can do so much more than I ever could.

Day #16 – Now I am the Master!

Anyone with kids marvels watching them grow and make progress and hit milestones … and against all logic we are all filled with feelings of joy and awe as though our children were the first ever to roll over, crawl, walk, talk, use the potty, and so on.

It is painful watching them fail, difficult seeing them struggle, never enjoyable realizing their limitations of aptitude or interest, and agonizing seeing them in any type of pain.

While it is funny to laugh at Garrison Keillor and the notion that “all the children are above average”, the reality is that when we look at our kids in their first real school class (Kindergarten or first grade), for most skills there will be as many kids better than your child than there are those who are worse. Of course, reading Facebook or blogs (or web forums) you will get a very different impression.

By contrast there are few happier moments than seeing your child achieve something by themselves, seeing them interacting with others in a way that is truly their own, displaying their unique talents and passions in a way that shows them moving beyond simply following your lead and their school requirements and breaking into their own.

I found the picture below going through the drawer in my bedside table … and to be honest in spite of it being from March 1999 – it feels like it could be from yesterday. But at the same time that picture seems like eons ago – because while they will always be my babies, I now have two great young men with a lot to offer the world.

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Amanda posted some thoughts for her 49th birthday a couple of weeks ago, and amongst those was “Your kids can teach you more than you can teach them”. And I so totally agree with that – and not so much because they are more skilled at everything (though that is true in some areas), but that they are like us in many ways but are their own people, and because we watch them differently than we watch others, and because they cause us to be open to life in ways nothing else can.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been able to witness things from my kids that not only made me proud as a parent, but also reminded me of how talented they have become and how passionate they are in their areas of interest.

Chris worked as DJ at Macy’s last weekend. This is nothing new – he has done it several times in the past. And even though he couldn’t get paid this time and didn’t know if it would get credit for Honor Society service (it was a Salvation Army tree-lighting event), he did it anyway.

He is a pretty awesome DJ and it is always a blast watching him work. But at one point we were walking over and he was playing one of his own compositions – a cool techno electronica piece that is deep and complex. We were starting to ask him about his song choice when we realized there was someone there enjoying it – in fact, there was a gentleman who had asked Chris to play some of his own music and was totally enjoying it.

They had a great chat and it was wonderful to see Chris as a mature musician and artist discussing his art with someone he had never met before, digging into musical details and structures. Chris has always amazed me with how he looks at time and sound and textures of tonality, it was just great being able to step outside of our normal interactions and hear someone else reflect on what he does.

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These recent weeks have been rather busy and stressful between the end of marching band and state championships, normal school stress, and … Danny getting in his early decision NYU application. Because he is applying to the Tisch school to study film, he had to do a film as his portfolio.

Here is the title screen:

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The film had a depth and flow that was simply stunning. It was a mature work that was moving, the dialogue made sense in a real way, the observations and insights in a 9 minute film were deep and non-trivial and worth hearing, and the sense of emotion and connection were just stunning.

While I have done enough music that I can fully appreciate what Chris is doing even as his talent and working skills have outstripped mine, Danny is working in an area I have never really touched. I did some soundtrack work for friends ages ago, but I don’t see myself as much of a photographer, let alone a film maker. Chris helped with the cinematography, and it was really incredible seeing the artistic vision discussions between the two of them.

When our kids are young and they make some art or get an award or perform a recital, we are so proud of what they are doing – and I know many readers have kids in that age group where they are really just starting to come into their own, or just showing off the ability to be an independent person. It is really great, and are the early steps on their journey.

What I have seen recently is an evolution of that – it is the beginning of adulthood, where what they are doing is no longer associated with being our kids and being tied to schools, but instead is part of where they are going with the rest of their lives and how they will get there. And it was magical to behold.

Thoughts?

And if there is any more of a tear-jerker song as a father … I have no idea what it is …

30 Days of Gratitude – Day #15, The Skin I Am In

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Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am thankful for my body, with all of its flaws.

Day #15 – Accept Your Body is Part of Learning to Love Yourself

I will address my weight loss later in this series, but as many articles have noted (here, here and here just for a few) – losing a ton of weight is unlikely to end up with you looking like … well, frankly like the person you imagined was underneath all of that fat and skin. And frankly the skin is part of the problem. A while ago I shared a picture of me crossing the bridge in Corning about a half-mile before the marathon finish. Everyone loves the pic – but all *I* see is the loose skin on my thighs.

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This week at HuffPo there was a post about a guy who lost 160 pounds, and how he is feeling and dealing with all of the loose skin. It is a pretty amazing video because it shows him at his largest and also just how much loose and stretchy skin he has all over. Check out the post and the video at the bottom.

My ‘skin situation’ isn’t nearly as extreme as his, but it is something I deal with. I will never have the same body that I would have, had I never had to lose 200lbs in 1989 … and also lose 110lbs in 2012. Having that skin that will never quite fit right constantly has you asking yourself if you are getting fat again or if it is just the skin.

This time around, I have ‘gone the distance’ in terms of my fitness and health. I can look confidently and know I am in the best shape of my life, and that my body is really in great shape, and it ‘is what it is’. Starting from there, I had to accept that THIS is how I am and how I will be. And slowly I have accepted that, and learned to be happy with just how I am.

How do you work to be happy with ‘the skin you’re in’?

Here is the video:

30 Days of Gratitude – Day #14, The Tech-ification of Running

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Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am thankful for the ways that technology have improved the sport of running and in particular the ways they have helped me improve and be more efficient through the years.

Day #13 – Most Expensive Free Sport Ever

I was scanning my Buzzfeed RSS feed and came across this post, which reminded me that the first GPS satellite went into orbit in February 1989, the same month I started running and my weight loss journey.

That same GPS technology would come into play in 2012 when I went for my first GPS tracked run with my brother – which showed that my distance was much lower and pace much slower than I thought. Ugh – but it was also a wake-up call. I mean, *I* had a smartphone – time to use it! So began my quest for the marathon! 6 months, 1900 miles and nearly 100lbs later … I did it. Wearing a Garmin FR-10, my second GPS watch (Nike+ was first).

Now I mostly use Wahoo Fitness app for GPS run-tracking, and wear the Garmin vivoSmart on my wrist to track steps, sleep, and also keep synced with my phone (review coming soon). I also have the Garmin FR-15 that I love.

Technology has played a huge role for me in other ways … well, mostly clothing. When I started running, there were no affordable tech fabrics, no wicking, no ‘cold-gear’ re-radiating layers. Just piling on the clothes. I remember running in the winter meant a thermal layer, then a sweatshirt layer then a outerwear layer, with thick bulky gloves and hat and scarf … and I wouldn’t go out in sub-zero air temps or sub -10 wind chills. And I was only running a few miles. Oh … and the smells … that was the worst of it I think. You couldn’t wash the stink out of that stuff!

This week when it got down to the 20’s with some wind, I was wearing a thin top layer, mid-weight hat, light gloves, normal running socks, running tights and ‘runderwear’ for the wind (we’ve covered this) … and I was perfectly fine. And newer tech fabrics are quick to wash and hang dry and much more resistant to odor accumulation.

How do you feel about the influence of technology on running?

Technology! 80s! Rocky!

30 Days of Gratitude – Day #13, The Small Joys of Video Games

gratitude

Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am thankful for the little things that make me love video games.

Day #13 – Gamers Gonna Game, Game, Game

I have been playing computer games since before 99% of the people reading this were even born – to the point where when Nintendo launched the GameBoy in 1989 (yeah … 25 years ago!), I was enough of a gamer that my parents bought it for me to carry on airplanes on my frequent business trips.

The great thing about games is they are an interactive form of escapism, rather than the passive forms such as movies or TV. Like reading a book requires your mind to fill in the visual blanks, in games you control the action and cause the narrative to unfold.

My personal favorite games are in the RPG (role-playing game) and FPS (first-person shooter) genres, though I am pretty open to most things. Most recently I have been replaying a game called ‘Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast’ on the Mac, which is one of my favorites and gives you the great feeling of wielding a lightsaber and Force powers against the remnants of the Empire in the years following Return of the Jedi. I have also been playing two tablet ports of classic games – ‘Icewind Dale’, a combat-centric RPG on my Android tablet, and perhaps the greatest RPG ever ‘Baldur’s Gate 2’ on my iPad. Great deep complex stories and characters.

A good game needs many things working in its favor, most importantly quality gameplay and some type of ‘hook’ to keep you engaged. Games that engage you on multiple levels will be your favorites. But once you get all of that, you will find that games giving you ‘something extra’ will remain memorable for years. For me those things mostly come in two flavors: music and ‘unexpected extras’.

Unexpected Extras

Several years ago a CEO of a big game company said it was very hard to justify content that nearly ever player who made it to that point in the game wouldn’t experience. Voice acting is expensive, graphics assets are expensive, and so on. What this means in practice is that all of those little ‘Easter Eggs’ stopped showing up in games. No longer were there random dead-end paths, go-nowhere quests, fun things to overhear, and so on.

But there are still plenty of great moments in games, here are a couple:
– In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, if you have Mission Vao and Bastilla in your party on Tatooine, and are headed out towards the desert, Mission will start bugging Bastilla about using the Force to get at others, play small tricks and so on. Bastilla says that I Jedi would never stoop to such things, but Mission persists until Bastilla shuts her down and Mission lets go with a final snipe. Moments later Mission trips and falls, Bastilla says that she should be more careful and Mission is left saying ‘hey …’! Classic moment!
– In Baldur’s Gate 2, there is a staggering amount of incidental dialogue – between members of your party (similar to above, things change depending on who is with you and where), between random characters, and between your protagonist and creatures you meet throughout. You can also ‘romance’ members of your party, which often turn into huge and sprawling quests unto themselves!
– Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, you can switch on the radio in a number of places (and in some shops it is always on in the background). Aside from music, there is a talk show ‘The Deb of Night’ with call-ins, commercials and more!
– Throughout Jedi Knight II – especially wandering through the Cairn base or the Doomgiver ship, there are Stormtroopers having random conversations about experiences, weapon accuracy, and so on. As I have played this game dozens of times I have heard them all before, but it is fun to stop outside a door to listen before igniting the lightsaber and charging in!
– And finally, you know you are a hardcore gamer when you know this scene from Divine Divinity:

Existential skeletons? Who knew …

=Great Music

I love great music, and we know that movies can have great soundtracks … so why not games? Just as film has John Williams and Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman, gaming has composers such as Jeremy Soule (Neverwinter Nights, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, etc) and Alexander Brandon (Deus Ex) and Matt Uelman (Diablo II) and Inon Zur (Fallout 3) and Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy I – VII) and more.

I love all of those guys, but wanted to share my top game music choices … which I narrowed to only seven entries. 🙂

Divine Divinity – by composer Kirill Pokrofsky

Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines – from “The Last Round”, this is ‘Lecher Bitch’ by the Genitorturers –

Gothic 2 – by composer Kai Rosenkranz

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – by composer Jeremy Soule

Blade of Darkness – by composer Oscar Aurajo

Baldur’s Gate 2 – by composer Michael Hoenig

Arcanum – by composer Ben Hogue

How do you feel about video games?