This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Silver Linings and Delusions

The past week has been an OK week, with regards to keeping active. The week of the "snowpocalypse", which was the week before last, I didn't do jack crap. Not a single workout.

The Sunday after the snow, I got ready to go on my run. The hardest part is just getting started but if I try not to think about it and just robotically put my running clothes on, then I'm almost there.

As I waited for my iPhone to charge, I heard the familiar sound that I had received a text message. I checked and it was my buddy Nancy, asking me if I was planning to run. How serendipitous. Whilst I didn't think I would make good company, seeing that I had not ran in a week's time, she decided I would do just fine.

We did an unbelievable six miles at Shelley Lake. And it went by fairly quickly. The pace was still a bit quick for my comfort but it was doable with a partner. I drove home feeling like a queen.

The rest of the week went well: I played my first wallyball (freeplay) game in nearly a year. Most of my friends know that *that* game is my favorite. I've missed it and, feeling out of the game, I found I fell right back into the groove. The following day was recreational volleyball and, again, another day of fun and a good workout.

I got both my runs in - Tuesday with my other friend Melisa (one "S") and Thursday was a solo run before the volleyball game.

Today I was scheduled for a 5K today (thank you Melissa - I'm using her training plan) . Since I am apparently suffering from race fright, I did this one on my own.

Murder Path
I decided I would walk to Lake Lynn and just start the race pace there. I took the murder path and a picture of it. What you can't see, although the picnic table is a close sign, civilization in the name of apartments are on either side of the trees. Of course, they can be seen in the winter. I am always prepared to scream bloody murder so that someone in those apartments will hear me. Whether they actually come and save me is a different story.

Once I got to the lake, I stretched a bit and was on my way. I tried not to start out too fast, thinking about how I can tend to do that in a race...but I did want to have a quicker pace than my normal 11+ minute miles that I do on the long runs.

As I ran their first mile, I was thinking: wow, I should slow down. I must be doing close to 10 mn/miles, or even sub. Once I got to the one mile mark, my RunKeeper app said I was doing 10:56. WHAT? That shit HURTS. I'm breathing fast, my thighs hurt. How can it be just a hair under 11 mn/miles?

Well, that must be because I went slow in the beginning. I've picked up the pace now...the second mile will definitely drop. Mile two: 10:54 mn/mile. OK. This is ridiculous. I was really booking then. WOW. I'm glad I didn't REALLY run a 5K. I was expecting to do 10 mn/miles today.

I know I quickened my pace even more when I felt like I was getting close to my 3.1. I'm thinking: geez - if I'm tired this quickly, how the hell am I going to manage 10 MORE of these miles?

I end with a 10:45 average pace overall. And I was beat. Sweatin' all over the place. I just started walking to cool down and get my heart rate down. Once I found a good spot, I stretched the shit out of my thighs, calves, feet, and hips. That felt good. But I was half a mile away from that was going to be a long walk back.

My overall miles - temp 41:
First: 10:57
Second: 10:47
Third: 10:34

So, at least negative splits. Last week, I ran six miles at 10:54 average, with two walk breaks...but today felt HARD.

Fortunately, I changed my estimated finish time for the race from 1:50 (what the fuck was I thinking?) to 2:15. I told Melisa that I was pretty sure she was signed up for the same 1:50 pace. She didn't believe me until she re-read her emails. Ironically, her original estimated time WAS 2:15...and as she said, she changed it to be like $Bill and I.

My playlist, including the walk to and from the park:
Teeth - Cage the Elephant
Absinthe with Faust - Cradle of Filth
Addicted to Love - Alex & Sierra
Afterlife - Arcade Fire
All I Want for Christmas Is You - Alex & Sierra  *need to remove this one
All You Do Is Talk - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC)
Am I Only - BRMC
Angel with the Scabbed Wings - Marilyn Manson (MM)
Antichrist Superstar - MM
Awful Sound (of Eurydice) - Arcade Fire
Bad Girls - M.I.A.
Beat the Devil's Tattoo - BRMC
The Beautiful People - MM
Berlin - BRMC
Best Song Ever - Alex & Sierra
Bitin' the Bullet - Grouplove
Black Magic - Magic Wands
Black Mud - The Black Keys
Black Skinhead vs. Elephant - Kanye-Tame Impala mash-up

Oh one funny thing: I bought new running pants yesterday. There's a tag that says: hidden key pocket. I couldn't find it. I even had Tim look for it before I ran. No can find. It's that hidden. I finally saw it after I took them britches off.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King

As part of two book challenges in my goodreads book club, the Stephen King and Big Book challenge, this became my first of the Stephen King challenge of the year.

Before I start on my take of the book - no offense to my face-to-face book club - I love it. But this goodreads book club is stellar. How I was picked, I don't know (well, it has to do with my goodreads activity, which is pretty active) but it has opened up a whole new world in virtual book clubs. I tried to start one - and am still trying - but, yeah, no where is it close to what this book club can - and does - do.

It's a book club for women who love to read. The group spans across Canada and the US. There are a great number of book reads going on in one month that you can choose to participate in or not, and then the discussions are there to join in, or not. Also, there are other discussions about TV shows, introduce yourself, "Did you know" - which is along the lines of 'Did you know this unusual thing about me', anything at all, not related to books. And someone will always join in the discussion. It's a great, positive, immediate bond in friendship among a very large group (I have no idea how many there are in the group...hundreds?) of women. It is the epitome of an online community that is what Facebook can be without the flamers.

Within this variety of activities are several challenges that you can sign up for anytime. I signed up for the "Across the Map" challenge as soon as I joined ( invitation only...which is why it's a small but large but small and active-participatory group), which is reading a book set in every state, province of Canada, and other countries that we end up reading.  I have 11 unique places; the Moral Instruments series took place in only one real place and well, Stephen King doesn't venture much out of Maine, so I may not get too far into my map challenge.

And now the Stephen King challenge - read 'all' of Stephen King's books. Well, we'll see but since I'm a fan, I'll be reading as many as I can...and re-reading quite a few more. And the Big Book challenge is reading books over 450 pages...not a problem with the SK challenge.

All of these are logged right on the site for all to see and admire. It's an introvert's, social network lover, book obsessor's dream.

So, to the book...with spoilers to come.

I saw the movie several years ago. And while I only remember vague bits of it, I remember being surprised and moved by the movie.

If you're a King fan, you'll love it. But if you're a King fan, you could hate it. If you're expectation is pure horror, similar to his other wonderful, odd works, well, you'll be sadly disappointed. If you, on the other hand, enjoy King's descriptive take into the minds of his characters, then you'll enjoy it.  It's a story. Plain and simple. Well. As plain and simple as the mind of Stephen King can be, which is, in my fandom opinion, is pretty cool.

The novel reminded me of Pulp Fiction: there are five sections that are separate stories BUT have a connection to each other. They also span several years: the first, 1960; second 1966; third 1983; and the fourth and fifth both take place in 1999. They start and stop with the same main characters.

Those main characters being Bobby Garfield and Carol Gerber. We meet them in 1960, as 11 year olds in the small town of Harwich, Connecticut. Bobby's mom is a bitter, strict woman who rents out her third floor 'apartment' to the mysterious Ted (played by Anthony Hopkins in the movie, who is all I saw in this character whilst reading).

Ted and Bobby develop a special friendship, including, the ability to read each other's minds. Ted hires Bobby to look for signs around the town, that the Low men in Yellow Coats are coming for him (Ted). These signs include: hopscotch drawings that include stars and moon next to them, or lost pet posters that have "call Iroquois", kite tails hanging from telephone lines, or the downtown clock ringing at odd hours. This was Bobby's job because these would be the sign that the Low Men in Yellow Coats were close to getting to Ted.

During this summer and the lookout for the signs, Carol and Bobby go through their own developing fondness for each other, as well as an act of violence against Carol that shows amazing heroism on Bobby's part. It's all a bizarre story but it gets worked out and in the end, Ted gets captured by the Low Men in Yellow Coats and Bobby and his mom move out of Harwich and Carol and Bobby eventually lose touch with one another.

In 1966, we meet Pete Riley at the University of Maine. He and several others live in Chamberlain Hall, where many were riding on a variety of scholarships and loans. All were in school and not in Vietnam. Flunking out meant almost a definite send off to the war, so keep them grades up and you'll be A-OK.

But no. What we have in this chapter are a bunch of boys who get addicted to the game of Hearts and, instead of studying, doing homework, or even going to class, end up playing Hearts constantly. Many start flunking out. And Pete and many of his pals are on the verge of flunking. And knowing the consequences, they still don't stop; can't stop.

Carol Gerber, from 1960, is Pete's girlfriend. We see them become the adults they become: Carol becomes an anti-war protestor; Pete manages to pull up his britches and get out of the Hearts addiction and get back to his education.

1983 we meet Blind Willie. This one was an odd one. Willie is a war veteran who comes into work dressed in a suit and tie. He greets folks pretty steely. Gets to his office, locks the door, crawls up into floor above, undresses, then dresses into another uniform, leaves _that_ office, greets folks very warmly, ends up in another building, goes into its bathroom, undresses in there, and puts on another outfit, and comes out as Blind Willie...where he panhandles for the rest of the day. And apparently, makes a lot of thousands. As he does all of this, he recounts his days, especially THE day at the 'ville, where Ronnie Malenfant (who was a Hearts addict that flunked out of the University of Maine in 1960) and John-Sully (a BFF to Bobby Garfield and Carol Gerber, and eventually, a beau to Carol Gerber in high school) served with him.

In 1999, John-Sully goes to Blind Willie Shearman's funeral. There we learn the details of the tragedy of the 'ville in Vietnam. After a tragic shoot down by the viet cong of U.S. helicopters, and a few comrades also being killed, Ronnie Malenfant and others went crazy. So crazy that they went into one of the villages ('ville) and started killing the locals. John-Sully is haunted by one: the mamas an that Malenfant stuck a bayonet in. She has been following John-Sully for years and eventually, faded back but after Blind Willie's funeral, she is now sitting beside him in his car, on his way back home (there's the creepy King stuff). Then some real whacky stuff happens. And then, John-Sully dies.

The last part we finally get to see Bobby Garfield again. No one knows what's happened to him since he moved from Harwich. In fact, since Carol became an active anti-war protestor, she hasn't been seen either. The last known whereabouts is that she died in a house fire...a protest action gone wrong.

Bobby has come to John-Sully's funeral. He has a gift from Ted. Ted - who should be about 100-and-something years old. And with the Low Men in the Yellow Coats. But Ted is special. And not of this world. Bobby goes to the ball field where Carol consoled him, where the tragedy struck Carol, where John-Sully and he played baseball. And who joins him? Carol. But she's no longer known as Carol. Carol 'died' in the house fire. She has a new life. And it ends with them sitting together on the bench.

Whew. I summarized the entire book. I had to do that because, one day, I'll want to remember what the book was about and, well, I guess I did my wikipedia version.

I loved it. I want to see the movie again. I don't remember any part of the last four sections being in the book, so I think the movie is based on 1960. Don't tell me. Let me be re-surprised.

Monday, February 03, 2014

This Guy...

I made it small on purpose.

First: you can't really see him.

Second: it's his backside, so he's even more unrecognizable. I guess he might recognize himself. But to anyone else, he's just any other tall slender dark gray haired man with high waters.

Or is he a short guy, with black hair? Still in high waters.

Or an average height guy with brown hair? Can't get rid of them high waters though.

Regardless, I'm keeping him vague to protect the guilty.

My regular readers and friends will know that I am a recovering road rager. I'm doing pretty well with it, thanks for asking. I could say it's not easy, with the state of driving around me but it really has been OK. Not easy peasy but I am at peace with the dickhead drivers of the world.

I've also mentioned that my path to work includes a very pretty, meandering 'path' that drops from an easy 35 mph to a very slow 25 mph. It goes for a long drive of 25 mph. The state decided that, because there are houses along this pretty road, wild animals (because it's near forestry and parks), bicyclists, joggers, walkers, etc., that 25 would be the ideal speed for cars.

However, most drivers in said cars do not agree that 25 mph is a great speed limit and therefore, choose to go whatever speed suits them. I have seen my fellow work mates post FB posts about getting pulled over doing 45+ mph on these roads. Ewww. I'd hate to have that ticket.

People who live around these roads have put up signs asking, demanding, that cars slow down. My very own workplace security division often sends out reminders to the entire company about the speed limit in that very area, because THEY receive complaints from the 'hood and local police officials about how much speeding is done, mostly, by people from my company. How very embarrassing.

And I have, on numerous occasions, been a victim of people tailgating me because I am one of few law-abiding citizens who WILL do 25 mphs on that road. Early on, my blood pressure would quicken and I would want to tap my breaks, wave my hands at them, whatever...but eventually, I would just flip my rearview mirror into night view, so as not to see them so close to me.

And then even later, I found my Zen and can allow them to tail me without doing either of the above. I can simply ignore, without contempt, and carry on my merry way. This has saved more than one asshole from a ticket when we happen to come upon a cop, targeting speeders on that road. And you know what? No "thank yous" have ever been given to me for the gift I gave them.

But I had a black SUV RIGHT ON MY BUMPER. At first, I was too busy jamming to my favorite band, Marilyn Manson, to really notice. But when I could only see mostly grill (I now drive a little Ford Focus), I thought: hmmm...this car is a little too close.

I gave it the benefit of the doubt. SOMETIMES, these cars are trying to adjust to the speed and quickly slow down and back off. This one does not. So, to me, that means, it is making a point that it is angry with my speed and is showing me by riding on my butt. elevated blood pressure. Instead, I dramatically get into the music: drumming, thumping my hands, shaking/nodding my head to the beat, so as to show that I could care less that it is on my ass.

It backs off eventually. I see a few cars behind it too. My driving 25, or anyone else, usually causes a chain of cars because, NO ONE seems to want to drive the speed limit. NOTE: there are other ways to get to my work, that is not out of the way, to avoid THIS route. So really, there is no excuse to drive this route if you DO NOT want to do the speed limit and enjoy the scenery AND keep folks not in cars safe.

When I pull into the campus that I work at, I don't see it. must not work here.

Nope. It ended up in my blind spot and quickly rounded me. When I say quickly, it was quite 'exaggerated'. It had to turn back into my lane since the left lane was closed due to construction...this was a dramatic move. I caught up to it and, what do you know, we are going in the same direction.

I decide: I'm going to follow it. I need to know who this fucker is. Man? Woman? I'm going to park right next to it. I know most folks at my work, being that I've worked there for 17 years...and the direction it was going in was where I worked for those 17 years.

Each turn it made was just...that same exaggerated move. Like it knew I was behind it. Good. It's feeling the pressure *of me* and it's trying to show off.

Imagine my surprise when it pulls into the parking deck that I usually park at...I follow...and it parks. I can't park right next to it...but I can park one car away. Then...I wait. It does not come out of the car. For awhile.

It's about 9:15 and I know I can wait this fucker out. I don't have a meeting until 10. It will NOT be able to sit in it's care until 9:55. Why should it? It's got to work. I've got a mission.

I stare at it's window. If it looks my way, it will know I'm waiting. So I decide to look at my phone to throw it off.

Finally, it comes out. It's a he. I get out. And I have no clue who this dude is. Never seen him in my life. He's smacking gum like a cow chews cud.

He walks but I then wonder if he knows what my deal is. I have all the confidence, cockiness and bitchiness all in me to just stare this guy down, whether he senses it or not.

We are going to the same building. I notice a side glance. Yup. He knows why I'm behind him. And I loved clicking my boots loudly, slowly, like from some thriller stalker movie, following behind him. I know how it feels to be followed and...'ogled' from behind. It's a very uncomfortable feeling.

When we get to the door, I see him struggle with: should I open it for her or not? In that split second indecision, he managed to stumble the door opening action and smacked it into his face. Oh sweet buddha. I was so happy. My job was done.

I never said one word. Didn't even look him in the eye.

So, I don't know if that counts as road rage. I was very calm. My blood pressure was fine, until the door smacked him in the face, then it escalated with elation.