Friday, December 30, 2016

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Good Night

In less than an hour, NYC's 7th Avenue location of Carnegie Deli will close forever after 80 years in business.

I ate there the Springs of my freshman, sophomore, and junior years in college, as well as several times during my years in DC.

The go-to was matzah ball soup and some sort of gargantuan sandwich, followed by a piece of their Hershey's Fifth Avenue Chocolate Cheesecake.

That meal could kill you, but it would have been a good and tasty death.

I can only hope that the Deli's own end is just as delicious.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Paint Me Like One Of Your French Girls

Meet Sally.

Sally is at her leisure, to be sure.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Peek A BOO!

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Can You Tie 'Em In A Bow?

Life is hard when your ears drag on the ground.  Doesn't mean it's not cute though.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Wicked Witch Of The East LIVES!

I got another "inmate" early last week.  Boo is adorable, a love bug, and an unrepentant biter.  Think the bunnies from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

"Yes, I will bite your head off."
She actually sat on my lap and then decided to bite me on the face.  Why?  Because in her previous home she was terrorized by children and their grabby hands.

Over several days she started to act like the velociraptor from Jurassic Park: she systematically tested the fence for weaknesses.

On Monday I came home to this.

Can you see Boo in this picture?

Those are her legs sticking out from behind the futon.  She tried to escape while I wasn't home, jumped the fence, aimed wrong, and got stuck upside down between the futon and the wall.  All evidence points to her being stuck there for hours, like maybe 9 or 10.

I freaked.  Ask my parents.  I FUH-REAKED.

I had a dead rabbit in my guest room, of course I freaked!

Turns out though, Boo wasn't dead.

Cue more freaking.

She was injured so went back to the shelter for eval and treatment.  I got a text: "She's happy and eating".  Of course she's happy, she completed her escape!

Hairy Houdini post-magic trick
The shelter is convinced she is a superhero.  I'm convinced she's just planning her next prison break.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Crawl Before Ball

On Sunday I played my first hockey game.  Over the summer I slowly accumulated a full set of gear from free and cheap sources with the goal of playing for real somehow, somewhere.  With help from the director of the city's sports division, I got accepted as a sub in the local "organized no-check pick-up" league.  After nearly a year since my first lesson with the kids' class, blade finally met ice.  And then quickly, breezers, shoulder pads, helmet, and blood met ice.

I got my shit rocked - there is no other way to put it - three times.  The reality is that my spatial awareness and ability to stop on a dime are mutually exclusive right now.  Don't even ask about those combined with stick handling.  But the reality is also that my rink-mates' remain somewhat mutually exclusive as well.

The first time: I was coming across center ice looking right to watch for a breakout from a defensive play and so was someone else and we ran smack, stomach-to-stomach into each other - except I'm about 9 inches shorter.  All I saw was the crest on his jersey as I face planted into...honestly, his beer belly....and then, of course, nothing but lights.  His head snapped forward and between his visored helmet (no cage) and the top of my helmet, his nose got destroyed.  There was a fu manchu worth of blood.

The second time: I ran into the back of my teammate as he backed up suddenly.

And the third: I got boarded by another teammate who didn't see me there.

Somewhere my parents are reading this and my mother is hyperventilating.  But these are not malevolent guys.  They're just full-grown men with 30-60 pound advantages on me.  May the physics be never in my favor.

Maybe I should have prioritized equipment that I actually had to pay for.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Call Me Marla

It's Friday night and I'm attending a Cocaine Anonymous 12 Step meeting for a class assignment.

When I envisioned myself living out scenes from Fight Club, these were not the scenes I expected.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Friday, September 30, 2016

Music Dump: The F*ck Th!s Edition [NSFW]

It should evoke little surprise that a lot of my current playlists average out to F*ck This, F*ck That.  Just F*CK.

One of my best discoveries recently is the group Dorothy.  If I could run, I would run to them.  But I can't run and I'm still listening to them, which is a meaningful referendum in and of itself.

FYI: Links to videos all go to SFW Youtube videos, which are original content not allowed to be shared vis embed.

White Flag, by Joseph

I could surrender, but I'd
Just be pretending, no I'd
Rather be dead than live a lie
Burn the white flag

F*ck Apologies, by Jojo feat. Wiz Khalifa

And honestly I was just about to pick up the phone
And then I realized that I didn't do nothing wrong
So f*ck apologies
I would say I'm sorry if I really meant it


Sucker for Pain, by Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa & Imagine Dragons w/ Logic & Ty Dolla $ign feat. X Ambassadors

If Corporate America cooked up a song's artist list perfectly designed to target me, Sucker for Pain represents 60-75% of a dead center hit.  It's only missing Adele, Florence, Rihanna, and Sia...or you know, any females.

But Lil Wayne's verse is straight art.

I'm devoted to destruction
A full dosage of detrimental dysfunction
I'm dying slow but the devil tryna rush me
See I'm a fool for pain, I'm a dummy
Might cut my head off right after I slit my throat
Tongue kiss a shark, got jealous bitches up in the boat
Eating peanut butter and jelly fishes on toast
And if I get stung I get stoked, might choke
Like I chewed a chunk of charcoal
Naked in the North Pole
That's why my heart cold, full of sorrow, the lost soul
And only Lord knows when I'm coming to the crossroads
So I don't fear shit but tomorrow
And I'm a sucker for pain, it ain't nothing but pain
You just fuckin' complain, you ain't tough as you claim
Just stay up in your lane, just don't fuck with Lil Wayne
I'mma jump from a plane or stand in front of a train
Cause I'm a sucker for pain


Way Down We Go, by Kaleo

Oh Father tell me, we get what we deserve
Oh we get what we deserve
And way down we go

Rise Up, by Andra Day

You're broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry-go-round
And you can't find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains

I'll rise up
In spite of the ache
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousand times again

Raise Hell, by Dorothy

Young blood, run like a river
Young blood, never get chained
Young blood, heaven need a sinner
You can't raise hell with a saint
Young blood, came to start a riot
Don't care what your old man say
Young blood, heaven hate a sinner
But we gonna raise hell 

Church Bells, by Carrie Underwood

Jenny slipped something in his Tennessee whiskey
No law man was ever gonna find
And how he died is still a mystery
But he hit a woman for the very last time
She could hear those church bells ringing, ringing

Missile, by Dorothy

Vengeance is a cold thing, baby
I serve it on a bed of flames
Still think you're a hard one, baby?
We'll see when the missile rains

And an added, non-vengeance bonus:

My Church, by Maren Morris

Can I get a hallelujah
Can I get an amen
Feels like the Holy Ghost running through ya
When I play the highway FM
I find my soul revival
Singing every single verse
Yeah I guess that's my church

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Meat Sweats Or Bust

A year after I left Austin, I wrote a list of what I missed from my time living there.  It basically came down to TXLA, Food, and Mel.

This past weekend I was in Austin for a wedding - Mel's wedding - and as this was my first return since I left in June 2014, I manufactured a reunion tour.

My first afternoon I visited the Mother Ship.

Then I threw caution and pain to the wind, and ran on The Trail.  

I made a pilgrimage to Torchy's.

The next morning I dropped in on Longhorn Masters (TXLA), where a surprising number of people were excited to see me and it became clear that a surprising amount of my swim fitness is gone.  However, my pro-longed shoulder rehab does seem to have done a whole lot of good.

That night the rehearsal dinner was hosted at Franklin Barbecue.  

I swam again with Longhorn, ran again on the Trail, and tried to cool off in preparation for a sure-to-be-steamy, early evening outdoor wedding on South Congress.  The next morning I was on a plane back to Indiana before 6 am.

I always wonder what places I have already visited for the last time.  If this weekend is my last ever visit to Austin, I am content.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

To Be "Injured" Or To Be "Not Injured"

Over the last couple of weeks I have wondered when in my recovery process I would feel like I qualified to say "I am no longer injured."

Ostensibly this conversation is valid, and not an insignificant concern for athletes returning from long-term injury.

Realistically I was getting ahead of myself, although I didn't know it until this Monday.

I'm broken, mostly likely, to some degree, in the same place, for the 5th time since January 1.

Awesome. {/sarcasm}

My current/second doctor, a podiatrist, is tapping out.  My problem is "too sport".  He prescribed 3.5 months of conservative treatment, which I followed (exhibit A)(exhibit B), and he doesn't know why it didn't work.  With no better idea why it didn't work the previous three times (under a different doctor who was a sports med ...).  So I'm moving on up the treatment - and geographic - ladder, referred to Indianapolis-based doctors.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Thoroughbreds: Camels in Maralal

UPDATE: Bedan, he of the Men of Nyahururu, placed 7th in the 10k in Rio.  No lie, I was pulling hard for him to get a medal.

Now back to tales of Africa, collected over a year ago now and delivered in the rudest of inconsistent schedules.

So...I got on this bus to Maralal, which is the gateway to the desolate northwest Kenya beyond it.  Two buses travel the unpaved road per day, and are responsible for transporting nearly all the goods flowing north.  No wonder it looked like this outside and in.

That's a picture from above me, looking down.  Packages filled every gap up to my waist.  The box in the lower left hand corner with the man's hand on it is filled with chickens.  Yeah, chickens.  The lady whose lower face can be seen on the left, got into a fight over the package of chickens with the woman on my right, to whom the chickens belonged, because of the chicken dust we were all supposedly sucking down.  It's amazing that I don't understand a word of Kiswahili but I could pick up on the hand signals for "crazy chicken lady killing us all with her dangerous chicken dust".

This delightful view is what I saw for 5 hours, knowing full well the potholes were coming and being completely unable to do anything about them.

But occasionally I got see a Samburu man protecting his cattle, or hanging with his buddies.

This bus ride might deserve it's own post - all bus rides in Africa tend to deserve their own post - but in awesomeness is totally trumped by what I found in Maralal.

Annually in early August Maralal hosts a camel derby, the longest race of which is 40k.  It's more an attention thing than a money thing so no child jockeys like in the Middle East.   Here's a jockey with his mount.

Unfortunately the town books full well in advance, so I couldn't stay for the races.  Otherwise I would have been in the AMATEUR RACE!!!  For like US$20, they put you on a camel and let you race (20k, I think).  Bucket list, people.  Bucket. List.

So anyway, I ran way out of town at dawn to the Maralal Camel Club, to meet the camels.  The racing camels are really anti-hands, which isn't surprising since all hands do all day is hit them.  But if you put your face out...

KISSES!  And cuddling too.

After I finished making out with the camels, I ran back to town and got on a bus.  But not before they ran the camels through town on a training run, and I saw this Samburu woman.

Like Nyahururu, I wish I had stayed longer.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

My Privilege Is Showing

My skintone is "bandaid".

Friday, August 26, 2016

Nearly Legal Running Career

NOTE: Yes, I find it ironic that I am posting about this milestone as I transition out of a 7-month injury break from running.  However, I am deciding to focus more on the fact that twenty years in I still want to return to running and less that I had to take a break because running is deleterious.  {/NOTE}

Twenty years ago this month, August 1996, I became a runner.  I joined pre-season workouts for my high school cross country team and it all went downhill from there.

My dad will both hate and laugh at this story, but he either wasn't convinced this running thing would stick or he didn't really understand what this running thing meant.  My "running shoes" for that season were a white/blue, slightly higher-top, maybe-not-officially-work-shoe version of these, purchased from Famous Footwear (an upscale, WI version of PayLess).  My coach was flabbergasted and my shins were destroyed (so I've been acquainted with shin pain almost as many days as I've been a runner).  Let's not discuss my sports bra situation at the time.

I got real running shoes sometime over the winter, ran every day of the next summer's trip to England, and showed up my sophomore fall running my 4k races 5 minutes faster.  That was when everything really went downhill.

My sophomore winter I ran regularly with a member of the boys' team.  I still shudder at what we wore: cotton, almost to an item.  Cotton tube socks, ancient running tights that I inherited from my mother under !flannel! pajama pants (I have zero idea how I didn't start forest fires with my thighs), horrific sports bras, a cotton long sleeve under a cotton hoodie, with a fleece ear band.  Pretty much the only article of clothing that was similar to anything I wear running today was my thin gloves.  Marc and I would head out after school without a watch and just run, usually in the snow, returning 60? 90? mins later and about five pounds heavier in sweat and melted snow.  Those certainly were the ol' days.  No telling if they were good.

That was 1997 into 1998.  Running shoes were pretty much only available in white, blue, and occasionally red.  I didn't own my first technical material shirt until April 2002, which I didn't buy so much as pick up out of the gutter after it was discarded by another runner on the start line of a marathon.  This boon didn't save me though: I ran that marathon in soccer shorts and lost a lot of skin.  I received two technical shirts over the next two Christmases (2002 and 2003), and now I would only run in cotton if it was what I was wearing when I had zero warning to escape my burning house and/or zombies.

And here we are twenty years later.  I wear shoes made for running, which are mostly neon, and rotate 3 or 4 pairs of them at a time; wear supportive sports bras; and may have finally figured out how to avoid shin pain.  Next August I am going to take my running career out for a drink, but only one, because we will both be getting up early the next morning to run.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Long Con

With that gut (literally) check and 7,249 miles behind us, The Best of the West Tour: Summer 2016 came to an end.

Nebraska faded into Iowa, which faded into Wisconsin, where my dad was waiting for Mom and me on the overpass we took to exit the last highway of the trip.

But really it was the end of The Best of the West Tour entire, begun two years ago almost to the day:

August 1, 2014 to July 27, 2016

13,882 miles

14 (or 15 or 16 or 17, depending on how you count) National Parks

Highlights of this second part (highlights from the first part):

* Beartooth Pass
* the Grand Tetons at dawn
* Glacier National Park
* British Columbia
* Cape Alava hike

But really, how do you choose the best parts of a space so vast and ever-changing?  Perhaps the highlights are that I feel I accomplished something meaningful; spent quality time with my Mom; and know my own country (and geography) so much better than I did two years ago.

My interest in exploring as much of the world as I possibly can might be the longest con of all.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Check Your Morals At The Border

Eastern Colorado looks like the classic Windows desktop.

Computer Generated

Colorado Generated
Exactly as was a goal, we passed the split in Western Nebraska that decides if you are going to see the northern portion of the West or the southern portion of the West.

Denver?  Cheyenne?  Bueller?
It brought a soothing symmetrical closure to this summer and two summers ago.  However it's the rest of Nebraska, east of the split, that has been on my mind since.

One of the first "sights" east of the split is a cattle feedlot.  Hundreds of acres hosting thousands of cattle in trampled pens, not a blade of grass or piece of hay or spot of shade on the premises.  Front loaders moving piles of literal shit, all a stones throw from the interstate.  Do they live there?  Where are they headed?  What will it be like there?  Where did they come from?  What was it like there?  

How much longer do they have to live like that?

Honestly, I can't say this sight isn't something I haven't seen out my front door.  We raised cattle until I was six years old, although far fewer (like 50, not 5,000) on much more humane land, and I swear that one of my oldest memories is of a slaughter-house.  

Nor can I say that the morals of feedlots have ever kept me up at night.  I'm not vegetarian or vegan.  I don't prioritize free-range or grass-fed.  I could very well consume one of those very animals and never know it.

But at least these cattle were robust, in the chemically-induced, improperly-over-nourished prime of their short lives.  A hundred miles later we passed two chicken transport trucks.  Those are the images that I will never get out of my head.

Have you ever seen pictures of those liberated from Auschwitz?  It was the chicken equivalent of that.  I'm going to guess 5,000, squeezed - there is no other word for it - into two 18-wheel trucks stacked with cages shorter than a chicken is tall, that hold probably 5 chickens each, if they are tossed in and don't expect to want to move after they land.  Totally open to the air; all sides of the cages were just chicken wire.  

And the kicker?  They were all essentially denuded of feathers.  Chickens are territorial, and they fight, stripping each other of feathers.  Chickens raised in such small confines fight constantly (not to mention break their feathers on the encroaching bars) until 5,000 of them streak down the highway, shivering naked in the wind.  Plus, the nutrition to increase their size isn't balanced enough to grow feathers that could withstand that torture.  

It's like a woman with brittle nails, hair, and bones trapped in a gladiator pit.

I hope they were headed to a processing plant, because I want the answer to "how much longer do they have to live like that?" to have been as short as possible.

Again, I don't have much of a moral leg to stand on.  I haven't really cut down on my chicken consumption.  Although it gives me pause to realize that my local Buffalo Wild Wings probably serves those two entire trucks to Bloomington residents on a 60-cent wing night.  I don't think I'll ever look at a 12-wing basket the same way again.

That's six lives that I had done nothing for, while I have housed three of these noodles in the last 10 days to keep them from being euthanized at the currently overwhelmed shelter.

Frank the angry teenager

bunny butt

Maxine and Lavosier
The math isn't fair.  In fact, the math is downright cruel, no matter what you don't eat and what you try to save.  I realized it before, but I didn't realize it before.  Rather than pretty pictures, I took away from Nebraska a dented conscience, a bruised heart, and more evidence that humans are the worst animals on this planet.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Elk ≠ Moose

I have an appointment scheduled for Monday in Boulder.  Our route was going to deliver us there a day early, so we hunted for diversions between Port Angeles, WA, and Boulder.  However, it stands to reason that that terrain was chosen as the Oregon Trail because it presented no diversions.  The most notable stops would have been Flaming Gorge and Hells Canyon - so now we know just how influential Dante was amongst the pioneer set -  but they were too far off the road.

Instead we arrived more than a day early and spent it in Rocky Mountain National Park, again.

The route to Estes Park from Fort Collins goes up Big Thompson Canyon, a 25-mile climb really popular with triathletes.

Rocky Mountain National Park is usually mountains everywhere you look.  Today, Rocky Mountain was mountains and elk everywhere we looked.

This view below represents as close as we came to our route from Walden to Fort Collins the night before, maybe about three miles as the crow flies.  Ain't no roads out there, little tour bus.

All the elk were nice looking, but still not moose :(

And then you descend off the Front Range through Ward and there sits Boulder.

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