30 Days of Gratitude – Day #29, Chip(s) Off The Old Block

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Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am thankful for my two amazing boys.

Day #29 – Just like me … but is that GOOD?!

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When you have a child … well, several things happen. It changes your life in a whole lot of different ways.

For me it shifted priorities and made things very clear – before kids with both of us working long days, always on the go somewhere and so on … and after kids we were always on the go somewhere – but the focus changed, as it was suddenly school and sports and heading to museums and parks and parties. Personally it helped me draw clear boundaries between work and family, not that I didn’t ever work weekends, nights or travel – but it was a clear decision based on need rather than ‘well, Lisa is working so … whatever’.

I won’t go into their whole stories, as those are for them to tell … But I want to quickly talk about these two wonderful young men who make my life better every day.

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Pumpkin Picking back in Massachusetts

 

Danny

I have talked about how Danny’s birth was like a party, and for me the whole four day stay in the hospital was great. Discovering how sturdy he was, how incredible it was to snuggle him, and just everything about being a new dad was a revelation. Lisa had a C-section so we were there for four days, and the reality check was going home and having to do it all ourselves.

From the very start Danny was his own person, but also full of life and light and a quick and easy smile. He has my ease of blending into most any crowd, with the accompanying realization that not standing out means not standing out. Yet he has shone in many areas – from drama to music to youth court and as a young film maker, he has done some amazing things in areas very different than anything I ever did.

It is interesting looking around our house and back through time – early on he showed a great aptitude for art, and took summer art classes in Fitchburg where the teacher singled him out for potential and displayed some of his stuff even outside of the confines of the usual student display. But a couple of years with a pedantic and harsh art teacher in elementary school quenched his love of art – at least in terms of drawing, painting and sculpting. It is interesting seeing now how that love redirected itself into other areas … I guess the saying ‘when life closes a door, open a window’ is very applicable.

What has amazed me is how the high school years have produced a strong, secure, and mature young man (ok, yeah, with plenty of teenage boy in there as well!). He has a good group of friends, is a loyal person, quick with a joke but also a good listener, and is much better than I was at his age at dealing with his emotions (despite having that same penchant for squishing them down beneath his knees).

His style has also evolved from skater-dude and rap-fan to very stylish (I’d estimate he wears a jacket and tie at least twice a week) who has a deep appreciation for everything in the arts. He is applying to schools for film, looking at a Fine Arts study … but also loves acting, singing, and writing. His ability to craft a tale, write believable dialogue and his use of language is just incredible – and I hope it brings him much success and satisfaction.

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Honor Society!

 

Chris

I’ve also described Christopher’s birth many times … and it was traumatic for all involved. Lisa had great difficulty due to significant scarring from Danny, Chris was breach and nearly drown in the amniotic fluid, Lisa’s digestive system wouldn’t restart and she was in the hospital two weeks with the chief of surgery keeping a close eye, Chris had two bouts of apnea and turned blue in front of my face once, and spent time in the NICU (where the nurses loved having a huge baby, since he was more than TWICE as large as the next biggest baby in there!). There were lingering effects from that rough start we dealt with for a few years, but he always had the most amazing smile, the cutest fly-away blond hair … and one heck of a personality.

Whereas Danny blended in like me, Chris is more like Lisa and has a strong personality. That can be good … but it also has downsides. There were always a group around him … but also always one or two kids who were very strongly negative. And like too many of us, as a young kid he couldn’t get past those who disliked him to focus on the great friends he had.

His flair for drama was apparent from the earliest years, and he always shone in productions even from the earliest age, and was something he excelled at through middle school, though he has focused on working on the tech crew through high school rather than being on stage. The tech crew focus comes from another love – music technology.

I know this sounds like typical parental blind bragging, but I have seldom seen anyone with as strong a raw musical concept and vision as Chris. This isn’t necessarily instrumental focus – we could tell from his early years of piano that he wasn’t going to be a concert pianist, as after he surpassed what his first teacher could provide, he frustrated his second teacher who wanted pure classical interpretation while Chris wanted to rework the melodies and rhythmic pacing and flow. I love hearing his music, or his interpretation of music.

But music isn’t his only skill – from his earliest days he has had a love of cooking. Easy Bake oven, Harry Potter potions lab and so on … then on to making real food. Lisa and I have become really good cooks and bakers over the years – but Chris has a natural gift. Another talent that has appeared recently is photography. He took a couple of pictures out of our moving car to use for a cover for his EP, and converted them to black & white … and they were amazing. He has a great eye for shots, and helped Danny film his portfolio film.

As for where he goes next, who knows – he is in the middle of his toughest semester of school, taking dual AP classes, a college level (ACE) chemistry, calculus and creative writing. He is thinking about culinary arts school such as Johnson & Wales that will focus on the business aspects as well as culinary skills … and I know he would truly excel.

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Great dinner after all-state band at Charlies Café in Elmira (new discovery!)

 

The Future

I have talked about wanting to move back to Massachusetts in the future, but the reality is this: home is with Lisa, and in proximity to our boys. We have no real ties to any place or even region (aside from our current jobs and having a mortgage), so if that means moving south or west or whatever … we can do it. And will.

The decision to have or not have kids – or the reality of biology we thought we faced for a long time – is very personal and no one has the right to make that for you or to question your choices. For us, having kids when we thought we couldn’t was an amazing blessing … and while there are many times our boys drive us nuts – they are our babies, and a huge part of our lives. They are past the point of us really being the major force of influence, but we maintain a close relationship and try to be a postive guiding force.

Now we can just sit and hope that they get to show the world the reasons for the great joys we have experienced all of these years.

Do you feel tied to a place or region, or would you move around easily?

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And yes, this Thanksgiving they each got a sample of wine.

 

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 #4, Right Here, Right Now

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Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am thankful for being an American, born and raised and living in the northeast, and at this time in history.

Day #4 – Living in the Here and Now

We live in a world that is not perfect – and guess what? It never was, and never will be perfect.

It is easy to lament what I missed out on: the era of jazz as popular music, the dawn of computing, and on and on.

But I got to see and hear many of my musical heroes perform live, watch important moments in history such as Watergate and the Fall of Saigon live on TV as a kid, witness the incredible growth of technology – which everyone knows is totally my bag – and many more things.

If I wasn’t born when I was, I wouldn’t have met my wife and that uncertainty is just weird to contemplate – who might I have married? Would we have had kids? Would they be the amazing boys I am blessed with?

And technology has been huge in my life – from computers to games to mobile tech and more, I have always been on the cutting edge and loved it. I loved building computers in the early 90s, compiling Linux kernels in the mid-90s, always having the latest handheld gadget from the HP200LX through the Newton all the way up through a variety of iOS and Android stuff now.

I have seen a woman on the ballot for Vice President (sorry Geraldine, in ’84 I was a Republican), the demise of the Soviet Union and fall of the Berlin wall, a black President, a serious female presidential candidate, public acceptance of interracial marriage, legal and popular acceptance of gay marriage in most places, women and people of color getting more equal representation, and on and on.

There have been many great times and places in history, but none of them were my time. My time is now; my place is here.

How do you feel about where and when you were born?

Oh, and why not a music video for the 1991 Jesus Jones song noted in the title?

30 Days of Gratitude – Day #2, Layoff Bliss

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Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I take a different view. We all have challenges and hardships we encounter of various types and degrees. For me, getting laid off after 15 years at my last job just as the economy was tanking was very difficult … and rewarding.

Day #2 – Getting Laid off Was The Best Thing Ever

It was a moment that I remember vividly, Lisa coming home and me being there and her jokingly asking ‘what, did you lose your job’ and me saying ‘yes’ and her jaw dropping. But let me back up … I lost my job on the 3rd of October, the day after Danny turned 11, three days after the end of the third quarter. No one was surprised that more layoffs happened – this was the fourth straight quarter of by-department layoffs. First manufacturing, then engineering, then research, and finally quality and operations. I wasn’t even that surprised when I was pretty sure I was one of those being hit with the layoff … but that doesn’t make it easier when you have a mortgage and family and bills to consider.

But that same day I got a call from an old friend and former co-worker named Hemant, and he told me something that resonates with me still seven years later: although it is hard and shocking, you were not happy and will soon realize this was the best thing that could have happened. And he was right.

In 2004 when parent company Rohm & Haas fully took over and integrated all systems, all of the promises made when they bought out the Shipley family in 1992 went out the window. They instituted new structures and policies, and then executed a large layoff that was handled about as poorly and dehumanizing as I could possibly imagine. I never really forgave the company for that, and as I have discussed before I made a resolution in 2007 that one way or the other I wouldn’t enter 2008 at the company.

But we had also been looking at the possibility of moving towns in the Boston area, because what had started as a great school system in the early 90s when we moved there had consistently gone downhill ever since – and we knew we didn’t want the kids going to middle school there. We’d had our house appraised and were looking at selling – then suddenly we knew I would be working somewhere else and would likely have to move.

I have also talked about the job hunt and how lucky I was to have been cut before things got really bad for the economy, and also how if I had taken any of the other four offers made to me I would be in a different job now due to the other places eliminating divisions or going completely out of business.

But I chose Corning. And it has been the best move I could imagine. Lisa noted it within the first year – I am different, more happy than in years, and definitely more chatty. Suddenly I am outgoing and will talk to anyone, and that has only grown the last couple of years as I have grown as a runner. Now I see people out everywhere who see me running and I chat with them, and really in general lead my life much more integrated with everyone around me.

It is hard looking back and knowing that it took me so long to leave a job I knew I should have left long before, but I am glad I did eventually leave. And while I would love to move back to Massachusetts someday, it will be on my terms and I will carry this new outlook along with me. I still love reading about all of the great people I used to work with and how they and their spouses and kids are doing all over the country. It was an amazing 15 years that changed my life.

Is there a life moment that seemed negative that you now feel was fundamental to becoming who you are?

Six Things Saturday – Reasons to Go See a Doctor (even if you’re healthy)

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http://misszippy1.com/2014/10/runnings-role-healer.html

Hi again friends! Thanks for all of the great comments and kind remarks on my last posts!

My last post a few Sundays ago was pretty random and reaffirmed a few things for me:
– Almost no one watches the videos … or at least no one comments
– There are only so many random topics people can absorb in one post
– Titles really don’t matter.

Why do I mention that? Because:
– there were no comments about either video (ok, mamaSalt came in late to mention the Panda 🙂 )
– Most of the comments were about one or maybe two items
– My title was only marginally related to the post I actually published!

ANYWAY, here is one subject I meant to talk about but never got there – going to the doctor as a critical thing to do every year.

My annual physical was originally scheduled for late August, then they had to reschedule, then I forgot to do my blood work so I had to reschedule, and it finally happened in early October. Because of my hypothyroidism I make it a point to get to the doctor … and also because of my age, family history and so on.

Also, I included these pictures with this post for two reasons: because it is Halloween (duh) and because these are the people I want to be with for a long time. The picture below is a #TBT to Halloween 2004, a time when the boys were 8 and 6.5 and Lisa and I were just in our late 30s.

The top picture is from the National Honor Society induction this week, where our younger son was inducted and older son reaffirmed for membership. It was a great proud moment, and a reminder I want to be around for a long time to experience many more.

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1. Make Sure Everything is OK / Prevention

I mean, this seems obvious – but it is also the reason many people avoid going! I have heard many people say ‘I don’t want to go to the doctor – I am fine and every time I go they find something!’ By going to a doctor regularly you can get a better idea of how your health is at the moment, and by checking in you gain more perspective on how you feel when things are good (or not).

Also, do not underestimate the human ability to adapt – we get used to just about anything, and it is not until we feel better that we realize how bad we felt!

2. Learn Your Numbers

Our bodies are unique systems, so it isn’t surprising that we will have some tests where we run high and others where we are low. Some of these numbers mean something important by themself, others only in conjunction with different tests. More than ever it is critical to be informed and in control of our own health, and the first part of this is knowing how we function when ‘normal’.

3. Establish a Relationship with Your Doctor

When I walked into my doctor’s office … well, really, when she came in, she already knew my lab results, had seen me running pretty much everywhere in the last year, knew what to be looking for on my results and the things we needed to discuss for now and for the next year.

Why is that important? Because rather than trying to start from ground zero, we already have solid basis of understanding of my health, her approach, and how to interact. That way when we have to address an issue she will know how I normally handle things and can factor that into her approach.

4. Establish a Tracking History

Two years ago when I was still losing weight my potassium was on the low end of normal, but still in range. I can now admit that I was still restricting my intake (while running 50+ weeks … moron), but had I seen a new doctor or not had a history it wouldn’t have flagged anything – because it was still in the normal range. It was only through looking at my history that she noticed it was low – and since I love bananas and sweet potatoes and other sources of potassium, and had lost a ton of weight … she just gently told me a banana every morning would be a great thing.

The same is true for everything else – we spent a lot of time this year going through my numbers and how they showed the impact of my healthy eating on everything going on in my body. Between my thyroid issues and getting me into the cardiologist last year due to family history, she has carte blanche to order loads of bloodwork for me … and does.

5. Put Your Running/Eating in Context

It was a bit of a joke when I went to the cardiologist last year and they put me on the incline treadmill to get my heart rate up for the stress test – because my resting heart rate was around 50 and they couldn’t seem to get it much over 100. They laughed because I was the longest test either of them had ever seen because it took so long – which was directly attributable to my endurance running.

Same with my blood work and eating – by looking at all of my numbers in terms of cholesterol and other criteria, the doctor could tell that I was eating good stuff – and also getting enough of it, even if she still wanted to make sure I didn’t lose any more weight.

But by the same token if you were not eating well or overtraining or otherwise not taking proper care, and had convinced yourself that everything was fine … maybe a visit to the doctor could help you realize otherwise. I have said it before, but I believe that two of the big reasons for injuries with many run-bloggers are over-training and improper fueling.

6. More Thoughts on ‘Your Numbers’

I can’t reiterate enough the importance of knowing your numbers – it is easy to think that the pants don’t fit because they shrank, or that because your blood pressure and cholesterol were fine 10 years ago that you don’t need to stress over what you eat and so on … but it isn’t true. There are many things that happen over the course of our lives that change the biochemical systems inside our body – women have even more stuff going on with natural hormonal changes throughout their lives!

Our bodies evolve over time, often slowly enough that we can’t tell the difference easily – which makes it even more important to establish a relationship with a doctor and their office, get yourself checked out regularly, and know how your habits impact your health.

What are your thoughts on doctor visits and knowing your health numbers?

Oh, and because next Tuesday is mid-term elections, here is a tool WordPress provides to help with voting info:

Sunday Randoms – Go See a Doctor, Safety, Pandas and Other Fun Stuff

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OK, since I jumped back in, I figured I would just continue as long as it lasts … and as I mentioned I had a bunch of drafts going anyway. This is really like a ‘wandering mind’ or ‘thinking out loud’ post, but let’s just roll with it!

Sexual Violence – Must Read Stuff

I have put myself out there pretty strongly in favor of just treating everyone fairly and equally … which apparently makes me a ‘social justice advocate’ and ‘feminist’ and a lot of other terms that I whole-heartedly agree with … but which shouldn’t be needed. I mean, isn’t it all just basic human rights and decency?

Anyway, I am also a big support of Laura and her Run Across America 2015, which is seeking to promote “sexual violence awareness and prevention”. This week she wrote a post called “Sexual Violence”, which was pretty cool but honestly what I thought of as common sense stuff. She said:

As I start to talk more and more about next summer’s Run Across America, I’m realizing that there is some confusion that revolves around exactly what sexual violence is, let alone why it is important to raise awareness. Understanding what sexual violence is, what it looks like, and how it affects the victims is an important first step in this awareness campaign. As I talk about sexual violence over the next 10 months (and hopefully longer), I’d like to make sure we are all on the same page. This is the first step towards a national and global understanding of what it is and why it is so important that we all work together to raise awareness and work towards prevention.

But then the next day she wrote about “Perpetuating the silence?” where she noted that:

Yesterday, after I posted an informative post on what sexual violence is, I watched as my number of blog followers dropped.

And THAT is what surprised me! First off because the basic post is pretty simple and obvious stuff … but also because the whole issue of sexual violence is at the core of why Laura is running across the country and doing her PhD. I mean, how could you even read her blog and not know this? Anyway, check out her posts, they are good stuff.

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Fall Safety – Remember YOU Are Responsible

Last month we got the news of a woman in a Central Park crosswalk struck and killed by a racing cyclist. It is a tragic accident but only the latest reminder of how fleeting life can be – and that we must take responsibility for our own safety.

An article from earlier this year talked about how distracted driving is not just responsible for more crashes and fatalities, it is also responsible for more loss of life for runners, pedestrians and cyclists.

The image above is from one morning a week or so ago when it was super-foggy, like National Weather Service fog alert level foggy. I ran (of course), but with headlamp and reflective gear and was super safe … and had no issues. But the next morning it was clear … and I was nearly swiped by someone who wasn’t looking while backing out of the driveway – and to be clear, I was on the opposite side of the street, and ended up well on the grass as his rear wheels nearly went off the road!

But I was alert and present throughout – and could see the potential for danger, and took action in advance and throughout. I never assumed he would see me or behave safely. I assumed I had to stay clear, and as a result all that happened was I uttered a few remarks and he drove off looking at his phone and listening to music and oblivious to the person he nearly seriously injured.

So as the days get shorter and people adjust to their commute being in the dark, take extra time and responsibility to keep yourself safe. Because all I want to read about for all of you is how great your running and health and life is going …

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Words for Runners to Remember From the T-Rex Runner

Sometimes it hurts having your own words turned around on you, and other times it is the absolute best possible thing. This week Danielle wrote a post called ‘Negative Nancy, Be Gone!’ where she whines discusses how her pessimism has gotten out of hand lately and is worried it might impact her going into her marathon this weekend.

One comment threw her own words back into her face … and they are absolutely perfect:

I’ve never regretted a race I’ve entered – even the one marathon that I did not finish. Every race is a learning experience, whether it feels good or feels bad while you’re out there. Remember, running is a pretty incredible gift that we’ve been given, and it can be taken away at any second, as this week’s events have proven. Celebrate the luxury of running while you have it, and don’t get too bogged down in worrying about the outcome of the race. All you can do it get out there and do the best you can do that day. If your best is a lot of walking, but a finish, then it is what it is. You can do it!

These are things to remember regardless – doesn’t matter if it is for a race, running for fun, or whatever … our ability to go out for a run is a gift, and one we should cherish. It is something I talk about a lot, because I see it around me. For me, approaching 50 years old with the ability to just ‘go for a run’ is a very precious gift, and I take it seriously.

The Luckiest Cyclist EVER?!?

After hearing about the Central Park accident I also came across a video at Buzzfeed that shows a cyclist who should have died two or three times during a terrible course of events … yet ended up helping others instead. Just check out the video:

An Interesting Look at Two Types of Marriage Equality

I love the web comic xkcd, as it often talks about either very technical or very important issues in ways I find both hilarious and engaging. Last week he had one that looked at marriage equality, and used inter-racial marriage as a contrast. I have mentioned that growing up I knew that so-called ‘mixed marriages’ were still rare and somewhat taboo, and this comic puts that in perspective:

Once again xkcd nails the essence of a critical point.

To me this tells a pretty great story. And while I am (obviously) strongly in favor of marriage equality, I have to applaud those who are opposed on moral grounds, because UNLIKE when I was growing up, it is rare to hear about violence committed against gay married couples unlike the violence against mixed-race couples. So I guess that is progress?

Don’t Say No To Panda

And to finish up … there was a great video Jonah Berger (also on Twitter) shared with us at the JMP Discovery conference as part os his talk … and then the subject of Pandas came up with my boys and I searched it out to show them … now it is your turn:

More Tech Fun

There is always something new to talk about, isn’t there? Here is some new stuff I am playing with these last couple of weeks.

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This is the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4, a great Android tablet – and the Zagg Universal Bluetooth keyboard, which is just awesome and very portable. I always like having Android as well as iOS, and the Tab Pro has excellent performance and plenty of features … though I have hit the ‘phone vs. tablet’ wall a number of times already, which is frustrating after so many years.

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These two will have reviews coming soon – the Garmin vivoSmart and the Wellograph. Each is a fitness band that tracks steps and calories and distance, and reports to your phone via Bluetooth.

The Wellograph is amazingly stylish and has a sapphire crystal screen, and also has a multi-LED system for tracking your pulse in real-time. It allows for activities and a wide number of options. It stores up to four months of data, and the battery is supposed to last a week. And it costs ~$350.

The Garmin vivosmart is the next generation from the vivofit – not only does it track your steps and sync to your phone, it also acts as a smart-watch by reporting notifications (with vibration) from your phone by maintaining a low-power Bluetooth connection. It connects to an ANT+ heart-rate monitor for activity tracking (and real-time display). It costs $169 or $199 with a heart-rate monitor.

Each has pros and cons, and I will get into more detail in the coming weeks.

What great new stuff did YOU read or hear or do this week?

Run-Fessions, Blog-Fessions and Third Quarter Running Summary

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Happy Friday everyone! (OK, so let’s just agree to NOT discuss how many times I have changed the day in that greeting!?!)

Wait – WHO am I again?!?! Yeah, it has been more than three weeks since my last post. And it might be another three weeks unit my next … or three months … or forever! Who really knows. But I decided I wanted to check back in and share some quick thoughts … so let’s jump right into it!

Runfessions

Run-Fessions

I loved Harold’s Runfessions a couple of Fridays back, so naturally I stole the idea! It is only fair since he stole it himself, citing Michelle who in turn grabbed it from Marcia … whew! Anyway, here are some of MY run-fessions!

I love that top picture! – that was posted by the Wineglass Marathon on their Facebook Page in a post celebrating volunteers … but honestly all I saw was ME! We are a decent ways into the race as I can tell by how saturated my shorts are with sweat, but I am still running happy!

I love running – yeah, I know that is a theme I harp on, but Judith was writing recently about someone who pounded out miles and races and so on … and didn’t even LIKE running, I had to ask – WHY?!? Who the heck would do something they don’t like … find a new exercise!

It is REALLY hard figuring out how to dress for the weather – over the last few weeks we’ve had warm & humid and near-freezing and everything in between. I don’t like being cold, nor do I like feeling like I am overheating! I have done OK, with a couple of days where I wished I wore gloves or wish I had worn shorts instead.

I am not invincible – no, I have not been injured, but after running 8 days straight, including ~32 miles of speed & hills last weekend, I ran 9.75 miles on Monday in my Virratas … oh, boy are they DONE! I really felt it in my legs – nothing injury-like, just general fatigue that went away the next day with the Kinvaras.

Runners are gorgeous – this is non-gender-specific, but this year I saw more runners out and about than ever before, and I loved it. There is the son of a woman we chat with regularly when she is walking her dogs, who visits once or twice a year and is incredibly graceful and speedy (18-minute 5K range fast). There is a young woman who runs after dinner along the route that we drive taking the kids to marching band. There is the cyclist I see most mornings, the two women who moved from walking to running this year, and the various others I see on my weekend runs. They are all gorgeous … you are all gorgeous. WE … are all gorgeous.

Blog Confessiom

Blog-Fessions

While I am at it, how about blog-fessions? I would say that Michele made a blog-fession talking about how she wants to earn an income through blogging. Here are some of mine:

I am still reading ALL of your blogs! – Yes, I barely even comment anymore, but every day (or week, depending on the person) I look forward to reading what is going on with Harold and Suz and Ange and Em and Hollie and Amanda and Lisa and Sara and Sarah and Sara and Sarah (hmm, trend?) and Laura and Laura and Annie and Cori and Megan and Ann and Danielle and Rae and Nicole and Carmyy and Michele and Falyn and Sami and welcome back Olena and … several others in my feed! I don’t always even manage a ‘like’. But you are all awesome and I love what you are doing!

I have NO interest in making ANY money blogging – I don’t say this to counter Michele’s post above … in fact, I have been thinking about a post along the lines of ‘Are You Branding, Blogging or just blogging’. I differentiate them as follows: ‘Branding’ is what Danielle (T-Rex Runner) and Megan (Lyons Share Wellness) are doing, and Michele is doing with her three-prong attack of Paleo, runner, and Mom. Pretty strong brand material, really. Then there are Bloggers, people who have a focused approach and voice, and are trying to make enough money to support their blogs, getting ambassadorships, promoting products, doing giveaways, and so on.. Finally there are ‘bloggers’, people who have a blog and write. Like me. All are valid, but very different approaches. I think it is important to know what you WANT from your blog … I thought I might want to be a ‘Blogger’, but not really.

While I haven’t Published in 3 weeks, I have 7 new drafts – and that isn’t counting this one. I have also deleted several. Bottom line is that I haven’t come to any conclusions about what I am doing with this blog other than it is a lower priority than pretty much everything else in my life, from work and family and home and pets and running and music and so on. It isn’t like ideas dry up, or the process goes away … it is a matter of how I choose to spend time.

Some of the ‘blogging BS’ is more apparent – I feel like I can now see more stuff going on, things like humble-bragging, body-shaming, passive aggressive statements, run-snobbing, link-baiting, and YES, sadly this does occur in some of the blogs in my RSS and WordPress feeds on occasion. I suppose all of us do some of this – sometimes I assume it is pride at accomplishments. My tolerance for these sorts of things has definitely gone down considerably, and I have definitely not been reading as much as before. Let me be a bit more clear – over the last 2.5 years I lost 110lbs and took >33% off my pace – but that fat & slow person from 2012 is *ME*. If I spend time in my blog putting down my former self or speaking disparagingly about my speed or weight, I am putting down (a) me and (b) others who have and continue to struggle with these things. Enough said on THAT.

Not Blogging Has Propogated into More Offline Time – I have come to love my non-blogging time, but at the same time I don’t relax any more than before! I have been on a tech frenzy lately – Galaxy Note 3, Garmin vivoSmart, iPhone 6, Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4, Bluetooth keyboards, iPad synthesizer software (love iPhophet!), and so on. I was also away for business for a week. We’ve also had a lot going on between two birthdays, marching band madness, a newly licensed driver, and busy school year! I am looking forward to getting settled in and figuring out how to allocate some time, between music and writing (NaNoWriMo is beckoning!). My satisfaction with other stuff will dictate how/when/if I return to regular blogging.

Third Quarter Running Summary

So what were my goals? After the end of June I said “From now through the end of September, here is what I would like to do”:
– Keep my weekly volume between 50-60 miles (I honestly think 65-75 is too much and don’t want to do something stupid)
– Hit the track for some speed drills at least once or twice
– Sign up for at least one race this year … regardless of distance.

OK, well, here is the result:
– Not so much – my numerical average is 63 miles/week, but if you take out my ‘non-running vacation’ week the average jumps to 68.
– I basically did just that – I did the local high school track twice. Really, not great … but better than zero.
– OK, my last real chance is the Red Baron Half Marathon in November, let’s hope that happens!

Here are my thoughts on the last three months:

Running

Last time I said “I am running a solid volume and at a pace that feels pretty good to me.” I continue feeling that way – although I probably held my mileage too high this summer, I feel great and have had mostly great runs the whole 3rd quarter. I really didn’t attack anything, just worked to keep up my fitness and endurance, which worked great as I continue to be able to toss off ‘longer than half marathon’ runs regularly all summer.

Racing

Um, yeah. Nothing to report here. My feelings on the Wineglass Marathon were interesting – I decided back in January not to run, when it came to race weekend there is just so much activity here and I know so many people who ran and the weather was just absolutely perfect … I couldn’t help but feel a bit sentimental about not running.

Weight

During the summer the weight falls off me and I need to be extra careful about keeping fueled – and I have been really happy with how I have done. My goal since last year has been to follow my doctor’s orders, which were ‘do NOT lose any more weight’. Balanced with my own desire to not gain weight, I was worried about how it would work. It has been great – and easier than I thought.

Food & Eating

In a word – consistent and confident. My good eating is a habit, as is being careful on rest days. My intake remains great, dominated by fresh whole foods, balanced fruits and veggies and lean meats. I still have little desire for processed foods or packaged sweets. This is great, and I hope it keeps up that way!

Tracking/Tech

I am still loving the Garmin FR-15 and Magennal Echo for tracking runs, as well as the Polar Loop for fitness tracking. I switched to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 for much of August and September, and found that Android is a total crap platform for fitness. Sync-ing the Loop took ~5x as long on the Note as the iPhone 5, the Echo was wonky and lost connection, and none of the fitness apps were as robust.

I have since moved back to iOS with the iPhone 6, and things went back to perfection immediately. I recently got Garmin’s new vivoSmart, which is a fitness tracker and ‘smartwatch’ that syncs with your phone. It is really cool, but occasionally problematic – which I hope continues improving through updates.

Everything Else

I have been much happier with not blogging than I would have thought. I have felt balanced, and so long as that holds I will not go back to regular blogging. Part of that is everything else is just nuts – work is super-busy and I seem to have doubled my responsibilities and the number of people reporting to me, Lisa’s work schedule has been busy, the kids have a crazy schedule which has made OUR schedules even crazier, and so on.

Lisa and I have made sure to take plenty of ‘us’ time as always, most recently taking a date night to see ‘Gone Girl’. We’d both read the book, but over a year ago so we knew all the basics but some details were sketchy. It was good enough that it made us want to re-read it!

We each also try to get some ‘alone time’ with the boys, which is challenging with their crazy schedules … but we try.

Outlook for 2015

I know it is early yet, but here are my basic thoughts for next year:
– Run more than 2000 miles.
– Maintain my weight and healthy eating habits
– Work on pace improvement.
– Run at least one 5k, a 10k, a half and full marathon.

Will I manage it all? Probably not! I know work will be busy through the whole year, as will Lisa’s work, and we will have Danny going off to college and Chris heading into his senior year. Crazy, eh?

Second Quarter Running Summary

Once again I decided to take my weekly summaries and chart them up. Here they are:

3rd Quarter Miles

Overall I am very pleased with my second quarter. By the numbers:
– Total miles – 821 miles (713 miles Q1, 812 Q2)
– Average weekly miles – 63* (55 Q1, 62 Q2)
– Half-year total – 2346 miles (on track to break 3000 miles)
– Longest run – multiple 23+ mile runs
– Shortest run – 5.25 miles (my ‘oh no, my mojo’ run!)

I have kept up with ‘runs with purpose’ throughout the period, which were mostly brutal hills, but also some speed work. I have hit the track … but I wanted to get in much more speedwork than I did.

Again, considering my goals for the year included staying injury-free, breaking 2000 miles, and running a couple of races … I am doing well on the key item. Which is being injury-free. I have already broken 2000 miles … and well, as the song says two out of three ain’t bad.

Fourth Quarter Goals

From now through the end of the year, here is what I would like to do:
– Break 3000 miles total (as of right now I am already over 2400 … so this is very doable)
– ‘Keep on Keepin’ On’ with the running – last week I ended up with an on-off-on-off-on-off schedule for Monday – Saturday due to birthdays, and it worked great for me. No stress, just running.
– Keep up my ‘runs with purpose’ – especially as it gets cold!
– Sign up for at least one race this year … regardless of distance.

How was your third quarter of running? How is your weather and have you broken out warmer clothes yet? What plans do you have for the rest of the year?