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?!?

The Facebook ’10 Books That Stayed With You’ Meme Post

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This week I got ‘tagged’ on a ’10 Books That Stayed With You’ post, and wanted to quickly

“List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes, and don’t think too hard. They do not have to be the ‘right’ books or great words of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way.”

OK, before I start I admit to peeling four of the books from my ‘Ten Days You’ list of ‘Four Books’ … I mean, why not, it is only three months old, right? And then I found I had been tagged way back in the early days of the blog, and wrote about it here. Interesting that there are similarities and differences in the list.

So here we go!

1. ‘Cat’s Cradle’ by Kurt Vonnegut – this book I would call my all-time favorite. Like most Vonnegut works it is a fairy easy and quick read – deceptively so. I have read this book 20 or more times since around 1980, and I don’t think I have read it the same way twice: it is funny, bitter, sardonic, twisted, anti-government, anti-religion, pro-spirituality, pro-human, both pro- and anti-science, and so more. I cannot recommend it enough.

2. ‘Foundation Trilogy’ by Isaac Asimov – while like so many sci-fi series there is a ton that this trilogy gets wrong, so much that has been changed as technology advances … the human side of the stories and the thrilling chase and mystery aspects are all consistent with what could really happen. It is interesting to juxtapose some of the events of these books with some anti-science movements in our own country today.

3. ‘100 Years of Solitude’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Getting through this book the first time early in high school is something I still remember (not assigned, just pleasure reading my sophomore English teacher thought I would like) – the sweeping story of a town as it rises and falls, told through the history of a single family, if funny and sad and touching and engaging throughout. It really is an epic piece of modern literature, and I always love stepping back into that world.

4. ‘Star Wars Thrawn Trilogy’ by Timothy Zahn – It was either this or the ‘Jedi Academy’ trilogy by Kevin Anderson, but this is better written, has a better villain and of course introduces Mara Jade. Starting a few years after ‘Return of the Jedi’, it pits an Imperial Grand Admiral against the fledgling New Republic. Even without the Star Wars mythos these are enjoyable books.

5. ‘Night Watch’ by Sergei Lukyanenko – these books by Russian author Sergei Lukyanenko captures great character studies and tales of the human spirit in the context of magic and mystery, all set in post Cold War Moscow. The series has ups and downs, but having just re-read the first couple I was reminded of how well it mixes intriguing storytelling and quality writing.

6. ‘The Plague’ by Albert Camus – Danny is reading ‘The Stranger’ right now, another of my faves, but I love this one more! It is an amazing tale of the human spirit in the face of crushing despair, and a very hopeful and positive take on the essence of existential philosophy.

7. ‘Harry Potter’ series by JK Rowling – I have been flipping back through these recently, re-reading the series for the fourth or fifth time overall. And aside from the epilogue of the final book (that I always hated that) the series has held up well. Sure the books starting with Goblet of Fire could have used tighter editing, but overall they are a great series.

8. ‘Guerrillas’ by V. S. Naipaul – Naipaul was recommended to me by my 11th grade English teacher, Mr. McLellan who called him ‘the best living writer’. This book is not a happy, fun or easy read – yet it is incredibly compelling.

9. ‘Winesburg, Ohio’ by Sherwood Anderson – 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.

10. ‘Fahrenheit 451’ by Ray Bradbury – although technically dated, the heart of this book is the character study of the interface of people and information and freedom. And it remains interesting because of that – I love looking at the stuff he got wrong about the future, and yet there are things that seemed wrong that are becoming more true with time (The Family, for example).

Tag, You’re It! Either post your list here, on Facebook, or your own blog!

Sunday Runday, Paleo Guest Post #2, Weekly Recap and my ‘Four Books’

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Happy Sunday! This weekend has been gorgeous, and as Harold notes the great weather has spread throughout the northeast, which has made for excellent running conditions and also made doing ANYTHING outside much more fun! I hope you have been taking advantage of the great conditions – if the weather has been favorable for you!

Paleo Journey Part 2 at The Gluten Free Treadmill

On Friday Laura posted the first part of my ‘Paleo Journey’ guest post, which got some excellent comments.

Today completes the series, and hopefully provides some context around how Paleo relates to ‘eating in the real world’. Like so many other things, it is about finding what works for you and going with it! I think our diet will largely be ‘modified Paleo’ for the foreseeable future.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

My Running Summary

This was a bit of an odd week, as after my killer hills on Sunday I decided to take Monday off and really just let the remainder of the week go by feel. I had two mornings in a row where I slept in, but then ended up with evening runs. Of course, the temperature was about 70F and dry, so 5PM was very bearable. Let’s look at how I did:

Sunday: 12.5 miles of ‘hill repeats’ – exhausting and awesome all at once
Monday: Rest Day – end of the ‘RW streak’
Tuesday: 9.5 miles
Wednesday: 9 or so miles for National Running Day
Thursday: 8.75 miles after work (first Saucony Kinvara run)
Friday: 9.25 miles after work
Saturday 10.5 miles on the Catharine Valley Trail

I was surprised to total up my week and see I had done just over 59 miles. I was quite ready on Monday for this week to end up in the 40s, which would have been fine – but instead I kept the miles going … but did it on my terms. My schedule was favorable to get in a couple of evening runs as I noted – something that barely ever happens. Take it where you can get it.

I also really loved my trail run on Saturday. Sara had a guest post on trail running (from Jenny of Jenny’s Fitness). The Catharine Valley trail has an entry point just 10 minute drive from my house … no more excuses.

10 Day You Challenge

OK, so now I am up to Day 7, and the task is to name four books. Oh great – no pressure: just name four books that are meaningful and provide some context on who I am and what I think. Ugh – I have read and loved thousands of books through the years. High school I was loving Sartre and Camus and Dostoevsky and Heller … since then I have read pretty much everything from Zahn’s classic Star Wars EU trilogy to Naipaul and loads of YA stuff (sorry Slate, but I love Harry Potter and Divergent and Fault in Our Stars).

One of the last books I eliminated from the list was ‘Ulysses’ by James Joyce. That book is a double edged sword – noting it immediately sounds pretentious, but it is a book I really love. I’d read it in high school, but have great memories re-reading it while traveling for work on my first job and sitting in a small restaurant on a warm day soaking in sun and reading. Oh well, here is the list:

Day Four: Seven Wants

1. ‘Cat’s Cradle’ by Kurt Vonnegut – this book I would call my all-time favorite. Like most Vonnegut works it is a fairy easy and quick read – deceptively so. I have read this book 20 or more times since around 1980, and I don’t think I have read it the same way twice: it is funny, bitter, sardonic, twisted, anti-government, anti-religion, pro-spirituality, pro-human, both pro- and anti-science, and so more. I cannot recommend it enough.

2. ‘Foundation Trilogy’ by Isaac Asimov – while like so many sci-fi series there is a ton that this trilogy gets wrong, so much that has been changed as technology advances … the human side of the stories and the thrilling chase and mystery aspects are all consistent with what could really happen. It is interesting to juxtapose some of the events of these books with some anti-science movements in our own country today.

3. ‘100 Years of Solitude’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Getting through this book the first time early in high school is something I still remember (not assigned, just pleasure reading my sophomore English teacher thought I would like) – the sweeping story of a town as it rises and falls, told through the history of a single family, if funny and sad and touching and engaging throughout. It really is an epic piece of modern literature, and I always love stepping back into that world.

4. ‘Night Watch’ by Sergei Lukyanenko – these books by Russian author Sergei Lukyanenko captures great character studies and tales of the human spirit in the context of magic and mystery, all set in post Cold War Moscow. The series has ups and downs, but having just re-read the first couple I was reminded of how well it mixes intriguing storytelling and quality writing.

How was YOUR running week? How about your eating? And any books you’d like to share?

Award Post Part 2 – Even More Stuff (you didn’t care to know) About ME!

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OK, I am a total slacker … over the last month I have been nominated for SIX Liebster and other blog awards, and been meaning to do a post about it ever since the first one from Running Boston and Beyond. My initial problem was that I did one of these posts back in February, and felt like I was spent in terms of personal reveals … but now I am ready to give it a go – and these nominations each have plenty of interesting questions so you can learn even MORE stuff you didn’t care about!

Running Boston and Beyond

Let’s start with Kelli from Running Boston and Beyond (and yes, she did run Boston in 2014)! She is a 40-something wife and mom who loves running and her family and has a great blog – definitely check her out!

1.How did you choose your blog name?

I initially had a blog since ~2006 called ‘Cognitive Dissonance’ where I wrote about stuff I couldn’t post on any of the game review sites I wrote for … and had basically zero readers. So when I got serious about running went beyond what I could comfortably write about for Gear Diary, I needed a new outlet. I was getting older but not ‘over the hill’, and my new focus on ‘serious’ running was a different take on a familiar habit – so not really ‘turning the corner’ or ‘changing course’. So more “Running Around the Bend” … and I landed on WordPress rather than Blogger (where I also have an account) because that name was in use on Blogger.

2.What is your favorite thing to write about?

If you read my post ‘mostly the miles are boring’ you know that running isn’t my favorite topic; nor is cooking and eating – again, because I eat pretty much the same things for 12 or so meals every week (breakfasts and weekday lunches).

But if you read this blog even occasionally you know my favorite things in the world are my wife and kids … so writing about stuff we do together is my fave thing in the world.

3.Why did you start blogging?

I started doing ‘game reviews’ back on USENET in the 80s before the web, then started writing for early websites – again gaming opinions. Then as time went on I started writing editorials and other opinion-based stuff – and from there I found the limits and needed to express myself more. Like I said, at first I was basically writing for myself, and left it behind for a few years.

But last year, after ‘becoming a runner’, and having gone through a long running streak, and done it all mostly posting to Facebook with some stuff written for ‘official posts’, I again found the limits (or rather, they were pointed out to me). So I kicked back into my blog, started using that in my comments … and just over 7 months later here we are!

4.What kind of workout makes you feel the best after it is all over?

Running … is there another kind?

5.What is your favorite post workout recovery food?

Smoothies! Seriously – in the cold weather I like water and later some coffee, in the warmth it is water and then something cold like a smoothie. Or homemade peanut butter ‘fudge’ (melt a bit of butter, stir in peanut butter, add some confectionary sugar and chocolate syrup and stick it in the freezer!)

6.What motivates you?

Love.

Sounds odd, but love for my wife, for my kids, for my friends, and for myself is what motivates me.

7.What is your “A” race or biggest fitness goal for 2014?

I still want to run an Ultra … but aside from that just PR everything I do (no biggie, right?). But really – if I am still running 5+ miles 5+ days a week by the end of the year I will be incredibly happy.

8.What is your favorite motivational song?

Maybe it is because I saw it in theaters in 1976 when I was 10 … but Bill Conti’s ‘Rocky’ theme still gives me chills. I don’t use music for workouts, though.

9.What is your favorite “fun” thing to do besides run/train/work out?

Aside from stuff with my family (already mentioned), I would say music. I am still finishing setting up my old studio again and re-adapting my song files to the new configuration (which is simultaneously fun and annoying) … but eventually I will share stuff here.

10.If you could give your 16-year old self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Focus more on being happy, and stop caring what other people (including your family) thinks.

11.Are you going to pass on the torch and nominate 11 fellow bloggers?

Can I ignore this one? Seriously I am not going to for one main reason – I already skipped out on it last time because everyone else had already been nominated. Still true.

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The Gluten Free Treadmill

Next we move on to Laura from The Gluten Free Treadmill. Now I am going to embarass Laura by saying that she is absolutely one of the most wonderful people I’ve met since blogging and a truly treasured ‘internet friend’. She writes about powerful and important stuff and we share loads of common thoughts on things. I have loved seeing her site continue to gain traction and followers – well deserved!

1) What is your spirit animal and why?

I have always been the ‘bear’. Solid, strong, even-tempered and ready. I had a teddy bear from when I was in the hospital at 4, and later on Lisa gave me one for when I was traveling. Even though my size is no longer ‘bear-like’, I will always be the bear.

2) What is your happy place?

On the couch with Lisa, drinking coffee or wine. My ‘personal’ place would be out on a run.

3) What is your favorite ethnic cuisine?

Chinese food of all types, from junk at the mall food court to gourmet stuff in a big city to more exotic stuff to things we make at home. Love the flavor profiles and ingredients and pretty much everything about it.

4) What was your favorite food as a kid?

Steak, from an early age.

5) What is your favorite food today?

Hmmm … would have to choose between sweet potato and … yeah, steak.

6) What are you typically doing on a Wednesday at 11:30 AM?

Something related to work … specific to most of the last two months or so on my new project, either at my desk or in our development clean room … likely thinking about lunch!

7) Why do you blog?

Because I have felt the need to express myself in the digital world ever since that was a possibility. I have always found writing a cathartic outlet, yet never had an interest in pursuing it professionally (to the chagrin of my AP English teacher in high school) … so for me blogging was a natural. And more recently I have found less of a desire to do reviews and more desire to ‘do my own thing’.

8) What do you do when not blogging?

Well, my job at Corning keeps me busy about 50 hours per week, and I have a very busy life with Lisa and the boys and the dogs and the cats. Music, video games, house-related stuff and so on take up the rest.

9) What’s the biggest life lesson you’ve learned to date about nutrition/food/health?

Food is fuel. Get rid of the good / bad labels, the ‘meat is murder’ mentality, and just figure out what best fuels the life you want to lead … and stop judging yourself and others.

10) What is the biggest life lesson you’ve learned to date about something other than nutrition/food/health?

Honest, open communications is the key to everything – it is more important than talent, intelligence, or looks.

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Life Between the Miles

Then I was nominated by one of my more recent blog discoveries, Sara from Life Between the Miles. She is from Massachusetts, recently ran the Boston marathon, is married with a cute little boy, and writes a fun and honest blog I look forward to reading all the time.

1. If you could spend the day with one famous person, who would it be and why?

On the one hand, I would love to get the chance to talk to a whole variety of historical leaders, freedom pioneers, artists and musicians and ground-breaking scientists … but on the other hand I can never choose just one because what I would ultimately want is to understand the person behind the story. I place very little value on ‘fame’ or ‘wealth’ and even less on pure ‘celebrity’, so spending time with a person because they are ‘famous’ has no draw for me.

2. What is an attribute you admire in others?

Honesty. In crowded engineering fields, saying ‘I don’t know’ can be seen as weakness, so people will sometimes pretend to know things they don’t. In my personal life I’ve had many people say things for no reason that are clearly not true (why?). Yeah, for me it all starts with honesty.

3. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would be the 3 things you would take with you?

OK, I am assuming Lisa, Danny and Chris is cheating?

4. If money was no object, what would you choose as your career?

I would still be working, but would push the measurement science side harder. When I was younger I thought music store or studio, or book store, or teacher or something … but none of those really appeal to me enough to mitigate the downsides.

5. What is YOUR greatest achievement?

While professionally my direct contributions to the first 1GHz microprocessor technology, or significant work in the development of the technique of Scatterometry for sub-100nm semiconductor measurements are probably my ‘biggies’ … for me it is marrying Lisa, as even having our boys stems from that.

6. Why did you decide to start blogging? *answered in the first group*

7. What is your biggest pet peeve?

People who have no regard for others.

8.What is your favorite pizza toppings?

When I was young I used to get onion, pepper, hamburg and linguica … now I would say just cheese.

9. What is the theme song of your life?

Miles Davis Bitches’ Brew – within that 27 minutes there is everything I love about music; elements of classical, rock, funk, soul, free jazz, fusion and so on.

10. If you had $1,000 that you could spend on anything, what would you spend it on?

Funny thing that as such a techie I am also not very materialistic … so I don’t immediately think about some new gadget. Instead I think about paying off things like the one car payment or working down the mortgage so she the kids are done with college we will be more free to choose our path forward.

But since I should really choose stuff … I would get Lisa some Hoka One Ones to support her ankle and redo her Pandora bracelet so it fit better … and myself some running gear, and the rest for some clothes and shoes for the boys.

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She’s Going the Distance

Next the hilarious and sarcastic dude Cori from She’s Going the Distance (yes, like that Cake song). Both she and her fiance Cameron have great blogs I enjoy, and I look forward to reading about their wedding later this year (yes, I am a total sappy romantic type):

1. Do you have a night before or race day ritual that you HAVE to do?

Nothing on the creepy superstitious level, just make sure my crap is ready and try to get some sleep.

2. Do you love your job?

Yes I do … like the line in Real Genius ‘I love solving problems’. Today I helped a young engineer figure out a critical experimenal problem on her project, taught her some statistics and more details about some software. She was super happy and grateful … which makes it all worthwhile!

3. Why did you start blogging? *answered in the first group*

4. What is your favorite running shoe brand?

Right now I am loving Saucony – I’m on Virratas now, but I just saw Amazon clearanced the Kinvara 4s as they prep for the 5! Might have to grab a pair cheap!

5. Ice cream, popsicles or milkshakes?

#alltheicecream

6. Where’s the last place you traveled?

Glorious Troy, NY! The trip to RPI and my fraternity was worth enduring Troy, as I wrote about the other day!

7. Power song to run or train to?

Music for running?

8. Beach or Mountains?

Beach! We watched one of those ‘house hunter’ shows the other night just because it was all beach houses!

9. Are you afraid of heights?

Not at all – I seek out heights and rollar coasters.

10. Favorite show on tv currently?

I tend to ‘lose track’ of shows fairly easily, so for me it has to be something we all can enjoy. Right now we’re doing Grimm, Castle, Supernatural, Doctor Who, Sherlock and Hannibal. The BBC shows are less frequent, and the others we watch on Hulu more often than not due to schedules.

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Run Salt Sun
Next came Lauren from Run Salt Sun … or just #mamaSalt, who has gained quite a bit of success both as a speedy runner and a ‘mommy blogger’ – though she is not typical of that breed (thankfully). She has an adorable little girl, and a husband who loves her in spite of her running ‘problem’ 🙂

1) Who is your favorite Sesame Street character?

The Count! I was just 3 when Sesame Street launched on PBS (when there were all of a half dozen stations between UHF/VHF), so I mostly know Big Bird, Kermit, etc. But the Count was always a fave.

2) How do you feel about treadmills?

Aren’t those the things they make lab rats run on for experiments?

3) Are you good at math?

My job is as a statistician and metrology (measurement) engineer. Does that answer the question? Ask my family … I torment them with math,

4) What is your favorite brand of running shoe?
5) Coolest celebrity you’ve met?

For me the coolest thing was riding the elevator with jazz guitar legend John Scofield in the late 80s – I was going to see him play that night, so it was cool to chat in the elevator and he was awesome.

Also, at a wedding of one of Lisa’s friends we got to see Chet & Nat – two Boston news icons.

6) What is your dream job?

You know … I really have no idea. I am pretty happy where I am, no desire to move, and get to spend enough time with my family. Seeing so many people try small businesses has shown me that is NOT what I want … and really most of my hobbies I am happy with as hobbies.

7) What is your favorite kind of pie?

Lisa makes a killer apple pie (yes, despite being allergic) with a sugar cookie top-crust. Yeah, probably that.
8) How many brothers and sisters do you have?

I have one of each and I am the middle child (explains a lot, really). Both of my siblings are divorced at this point (within the last few years), and each has had significant heart issues. My brother lives in NJ and my sister in MA.

9) Why did you start blogging? *answered in the first group*

10) Do you take selfies at races?

Sometimes afterwards, but generally I have some part of my crew so they take pictures of me.

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And finally Abby from thesecretlifecoachofdc, who is a fun and energetic young blogger with a great philosophy that “all aspects of a healthy lifestyle (fitness, nutrition, social, mental, sleep, etc) are intertwined”. All about balance!

My Questions for My Nominees

1. What are your three favorite things to do in your down time?

– Spend time with my wife and boys.
– Go for a run.
– Make music

2. What is your life motto?

I had one ‘find excess within moderation’ that I liked a lot when I was younger … and while I haven’t ever really been a ‘live by a motto’ person, I still like it.

3. What is your dream job? *answered in the previous group*

4. If you described yourself as a color, what color would you be and why?

A bright vibrant blue … because it is my favorite color, shows energy with a certain coolness, and has higher photon energy than all of those ‘warmer’ colors!

5. If someone wrote a book about your life up until now, what would the title be?

“Why the heck are you contemplating buying this boring story about a happily married, well employed middle-aged family man with no addictions or tragic flaws?”

6. Who would you choose to play you in a movie?

Another weird one – and again no clue. Many people I might have chosen ages ago I feel have aged poorly (James Spader), or are too good looking (George Clooney) and would seem arrogant. I dunno – who would YOU think?

7. If you could be a professional athlete, what sport would you choose to be a pro at?

Running for sure – it used to be basketball but that has lost its allure to me, whereas I would be fine being a pro runner, traveling around meeting other runners, and getting to enjoy all of the incredible races.

8. Who do you look up to the most in life right now?

My wife – she has had to go through many things in her life, yet she approaches every day with bright eyes and an open and loving heart.

9. What is your favorite thing about blogging?

The people – definitely the people. Sure I like writing and reading stories and perspectives and all that – but ultimately it is the people BEHIND the blogs that I find intriguing.

10. What stores do you frequent the most (online or in-person)?

Online I am very much an Amazon person for … well, everything. In the real world I would love to say it was someplace more glamorous or gourmet … but it is Walmart. Because it is close, convenient, and cheap.

11. Favorite book right now?

Fave is always tough … but I am re-reading the Night Watch series by Sergei Lukyanenko. They are translated from Russian and a decent fantasy series. I started re-reading it because the English translation of the latest book is coming out later this year.

Though if I had to choose a singular favorite it would be ‘Cat’s Cradle’ by Kurt Vonnegut. It is a book that I read and re-read, and it always either shows me something different or strikes me differently.

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My Final Thoughts

As I finish this I realize how much more useless crap I could talk about – so I started a ‘random facts’ post that I will do some time in the future.

I mentioned that I wasn’t going to nominate anyone – since this cycle started a few months ago I have been reading about all of these different cool things about bloggers. Pretty much everyone has had at least one Liebster post, so I couldn’t find anyone to nominate!

But – if you are reading this and have not done a Liebster post, or you want to do another one … consider THIS your invitation. Here are the rules:
– Pick 10 questions from the ones above.
– Answer them.
– Link back to this post so I can see you’re post.
– Nominate someone if you want.

And that is it! Happy Thursday everyone … we’re getting close to the weekend!

Weekly Recap and Spill It Sunday – Book Edition

Long Run Saturday2

Yet another crazy week – I mentioned on Wednesday that I had taken two days off because I had been edged off the road intentionally by a pickup truck and what was level snow on top of the side of the road turned out to be a 3″ drainage area. My back was tight and a bit sore, and worst when I woke up. It has gotten better each day, and I didn’t even notice it yesterday when I got up for my long run.

Because of all the work for Christopher’s birthday and also my day-job work, I didn’t feel I took advantage of our all-too-short warm-up. So on Saturday I wanted to make sure I got in a long run – Lisa had to be into work in the afternoon, which gave us time to go through bills and upcoming stuff for the kids and so on.

I headed out without a clear idea of exactly how long I would go, but I knew I wanted to do my ‘double hill’ loop at least. That would be very challenging and at least 14 miles. As I came down the other side of the hill I made the choice to head around the airport loop. I passed a guy I know on Facebook running the other direction – he is just coming back from injury, and apparently not much after I saw him he was doing more walking than running. I reminded him to take it slow, but it is hard on a day like that!

This picture is from the large hill, and while it is hard to see, the water flowing down through the snow has formed white caps because of how it was rushing down! Several places it crossed the road and I ended up with soaked feet … not that I am complaining!

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Here is my weekly summary:

Sunday: 25F and snowy – 13.75 miles
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: (Unplanned) Rest
Wednesday: 18F – 7.5 miles
Thursday: 18F – 9.5 miles
Friday: 35F … 7.5 miles
Saturday 48F and very windy, did 20.5 miles

So that was my week – another 58.75 mile week that ended with the longest run I’d done since the Wineglass marathon! When I got home I was greeted with ‘wow, you went for a much longer run today!’

Sadly after this great warm-up we are rapidly plunging towards sub-zero temperatures again! Definitely not liking what I see on the long-term forecast! Oh well, as Little Bear sang, “we’ll weather the weather … whether we like it or not!”

Blog Love

A colleague I worked with for many years when I was at Shipley (which was later bought by Rohm and Haas, which was more recently bought by Dow) and she was at semiconductor equipment company Therma-Wave has a great blog where she details some great hikes she takes outside of the Bay Area. She is also a skilled photographer, and between the descriptions and pictures I really feel I am there – which has been great during this cold winter!

Check it out!

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And this week over at Arman’s site, the ‘Spill It Sunday’ is ‘Book Edition’ – more fun questions to answer!

1. Favourite novel of all time?

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

2. Favourite genre (e.g. Crime, Thriller, Biography, Fitness etc)

‘Literature’ – I know it is a bit non-descript, but my favorite authors include Dostoyevsky, Joyce, Faulkner, Sherwood Anderson, VS Naipaul, Camus, Sartre, and so on.

3. Favourite childhood novel/Favourite teen novel?

Encyclopedia Brown – I loved these detective stories, figuring out what was going on and then the reveals. It was fun passing them down to my kids!

4. Favourite Series?

Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov – while later entries as the series converged with the Robots in the 80s were weaker, the original trilogy from the 50s remains some of my favorite science fiction, moreso because it isn’t purely sci-fi, but rather character and human studies.

5. Which book would you hope future generations will continue to consider a classic?

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – for many reasons people try to ban this book or revise the language or remove it from classes. But it is an amazing piece of art, and captures a spirit of Americana in a way that few authors have ever managed.

6. Worst novel to be written?

I tend to stay away from stuff that is supposed to be bad, so I haven’t read the Twilight books, or 50 Shades of Grey, and so on. But I have read a few books in the Star Wars expanded universe that were truly awful. Those would be probably the worst I can recall reading all the way through.

So what about you? How was YOUR running this week? Did you take advantage of better weather (did you HAVE better weather)? And how about YOUR favorite books?

Hope everyone has a great week!

10 Books That Touched You

The joy of reading

The joy of reading

This morning on Facebook I saw a post from a friend which appears to be the latest ‘tag & share’ game. It is called ’10 Books That Touched You’, and it immediately captured my imagination as the list started writing itself in my head, and completed itself while I was out for my run.

Don’t tell anyone but one of my goals for 2014 (‘resolutions’ are recipes for failure) is to complete at least one new book a month and re-read a book every quarter. Anyway, here goes the list:

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. Albert Camus – The Plague – an amazing tale of the human spirit in the face of crushing despair, and a very hopeful and positive take on the essence of existential philosophy.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. V. S. Naipaul – Guerillas – Naipaul was recommended to me by my 11th grade English teacher, Mr. McLellan who called him ‘the best living writer’. This book is not a happy, fun or easy read – yet it is incredibly compelling.
7. Kurt Vonnegut – Slaughterhouse 5 – for me this remains the essential war book, which tells you a lot about my views on war, violence and guns.
8. Jean-Paul Sartre – Nausea – pretty much the flip-side of The Plague, I remember reading this on vacation on Cape Cod in high school. The prototype of the bleak, negative, solitary existential story.
9. 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.
10. As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner – Faulkner is an incredible master at constructing realistic portraits of the elements of his fictional south and those moving through it. The tale is dark and poignant, and the character voices and insights are just incredible.

Other choices would be Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and Ulysses by James Joyce. Catch-22 is another great WWII anti-hero story and is regularly hilarious, but it falls below Slaughterhouse 5 for me. And Joyce … well, I have only completely finished the book once in a deliberate front-to-back read, and read it in chunks other times … not enough to really qualify, although I adore it whenever I read it.

All of these books were initially read as physical books, but any reading in the past two decades was digital – so all of my most recent re-reads of these books was done on some sort of digital device. I have no particular love of physical books or magazines, and the minute I can keep my digital devices powered on during air travel is the end of physical media for me.

What about you? Do you have thoughts on these books, have favorites of your own? And what are your thoughts on digital versus physical books?

Oh, and I love the wild image of the huge book and cup of tea/coffee as you sit on the couch reading – it came from here.

‘Once a Runner’ for Kindle $1.99 ‘Deal of the Day’

Once a Runner

Today (11/14) only over at Amazon they are featuring ‘Once a Runner’ by John L. Parker Jr. This is one of those books I have heard about and has been on my Amazon Wish List for quite a while. Based on my backlog I have no idea when I will get to it, but at $1.99 if this is a book you’ve been thinking about now might be the time to jump.

From one of the customer reviews:

a) Competative runners: this is an increadible book, period. The best part about it is reading about a little tiny nuance in Quenton’s running life and saying to yourself, “I know exactly what he’s talking about, wow”, which will happen literally hundreds of times. Your hopefully already-substantial appreciation for the sport will likely increase tenfold with this book.

b) The casual runner, recreational, or other athlete: this is an excellent book and is very highly reccomended. You probably will not appreciate it to it’s fullest extent, but there are aspects of the story and how it is told that will be enjoyed by anyone with the capacity for excitement from sports or human physical endeavors.

c) The non-athlete: this book may not make sense to you. Not in the literary sense, but it may seem as though there is little direction in the story, and you might read it and then find yourself thinking that nothing interesting really happened, and you are not really to blame for this. There is still a good chance that you will find it enjoyable, but if you are looking for a piece of literature based on traditional merits (plot, character development, etc) there are likely better books out there for you to spend time on.

Some of the other reviews are less positive, citing that the non-running material often veers between boring and offensive.

Head to Amazon and check it out!

Hey Divergent Fans – Allegiant Is Out Today!

Allegiant-Veronica-Roth

I had heard good things about the YA book Divergent, and so when it came up on one of those Amazon $1.99 deals a few months back – I jumped. I tore through the book in 2 days on one of my last Kentucky trips and thoroughly enjoyed it.

At the same time Amazon had a deal on the second book Insurgent along with a pre-order deal on Allegiant … so I ended up with all three books for about $10 total.

Insurgent took me two weeks to read, because it didn’t keep me glued to my Kindle the way Divergent had. I found it was overall a good story but dragged at times and was fraught with pacing issues that disengaged me from the story. But at the ending there were several things that set up an intriguing finale.

Some draw the rather obvious comparisons to ‘Hunger Games’, which is definitely there – but without all of the angsty Twilight-esque romance triangle to bog it down. I am hoping that unlike Hunger Games – where MockingJay was a very weak book that felt terribly rushed – the finale of this series is actually worth reading. I’ll let you know soon enough!

I had just started Neal Stephenson’s ‘Snow Crash’ when Lisa was looking for a new book and so I dropped that to start ‘One Way Bridge’, a highly reviewed recent release. Well … now it looks like I’ll set THAT aside as well!

You can grab the ebook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or iTunes – it is $6.99 at all sites (compared to $11.75 for hardcover)