There are so many intelligent and articulate people covering the hard-hitting
issues in our country these days, that I felt it was my duty to cover the
rather inconsequential bullshit that tends to make up the vast majority of
our lives. Actually, I'll just be griping a lot which, if you weren't aware,
doubles as a synonym for complaining, and as a descriptor for
a sharp pain in the bowels.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Running Out of Ideas

There's a phrase "running out of your mind." In general it's come to mean when you run so well, so beyond any expectation, that the reality of it is difficult to grasp within the standard boundaries of the brain, which tends to operate on logic and limits. For me I always thought of it as those rare moments when I'd run and my body was moving independently of my mind. Mind you this doesn't happen often and perhaps it's not something every runner aspires to. I tend to think of this in race specific scenarios, meaning those races where I don't think at all for the majority of the race and just latch on, mindlessly to another runner, with hope the leader. I wait as long as possible to take action. This does happen on routine runs as well. I'm just moving, and don't have to give thought to anything as I almost can't feel my legs.

This is different from the runner's high. The runner's high I describe as an often elusive feeling of effortless perpetual motion — different than not even feeling my legs, it's a touchy and semantic training ground here. I can seemingly go forever and considerations of pace are ludicrous, just as they would be when running out of my mind. There are no limits, there is no beginning or end though you stop at an arbitrary and predefined point. I have never had the runner's high in a race, though I have run out of my mind as I said, and the distinction is likely drawn upon due to nerves. Running out of your mind, for me, is to tell yourself for the longest time that it's not a race, it's just running. Oh sure, at some point it becomes a race, but you seek to delay it.

Now I take back what I said about the runner's high in a race. It's been there. Once. In the scenario I expected to win and my opponent's attempts to be in the lead or anywhere near me were actions to which I took offense, which is a stupid and, unfortunately for me, natural occurrence. I want to be in the lead. We can be there together, but if I sense you upsetting the delicate balance, I want to get away, I want to be alone. This is what I think of as the loneliness of the long distance runner. For me I want to compete, I want to win, but it's just so that I am alone at the end of it all, until I am scared as that arbitrarily defined finish point approaches that I am truly alone, and scared as well that I am not.

But that race I spoke of was a time trial training run against three separate pairs of legs belonging to teammates. I ran away from the first and the second started when I approached. I ran away from the second and the third started when I approached. And as he took off at a speed I knew he couldn't sustain, the runner's high struck. I walked him down as the old racing phrase goes, and I was alone as I like it and I stopped, finally, where my coach was waiting, but I could have kept going.

Thoughts of this spawned from my run this morning, where I did something separate from all of this, I ran my mind out. A spike in the heat fatigued my body through dehydration, with salt depositing on my face in the wake of evaporated sweat the way it often did in the past when I felt 13-15 miles was the natural morning's activity after 13-15 drinks. This was called a weekend. And when it's through, the world appears brighter. Yes, my goddamn eyes seem to take in more light. I don't know why this happens exactly, but I do know that I like it. This is why you can believe a person when they say running is their drug.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Jer-see, Jer-do

There's a joke, a pun, some wordplay in there somewhere as I write this from nowhere, nowhere but the toilet that is. What better place? Speaking of what better place, what better place than Jersey, my home of homes, for its true that I lived there for the better (and worse) parts of 24 years. Any and all such trips to the motherland awaken within the beast a certain forlorn peering into the past, tinged with wonderment that the you that was then ever even existed. Certainly it shaped the you of now, but with how out of touch with the you of old you are, it seems strange.

Anyway, Jersey is as lush as ever. Along the Raritan towpath you wouldn't guess at the factories that surround Newark Airport, or the entities that constituted the cast of the once-relevant (and then, only in certain social circles) Jersey Shore. Alas, fitting that they've fallen victim to the almost unknowable past of my own Jersey, albeit theirs easier to access due to prodigious quantities of video, picture, and other digital content.

Jersey also brings, for me, the relaxed and easy humor of old friends. So, for whatever else, thanks for that Jersey. I'll see you again, not soon enough and too soon.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tuned In

I'm never actually at the cutting edge of newly released, or underground, or "hip" music (I'm classifying all of these as separate items though there is inevitable crossover). As I age, it's only getting worse. I do, however, know some songs. Now it's one thing when a new song bites on an older tune that maybe we're expected to only have a vague subconscious association with, but when new songs take their cues from other popular songs not even five years out, well perhaps it just speaks to the increasingly ephemeral nature of memory and lasting impressions. After all, we're bombarded with so much content, we simply can't remember as far back as we might have -- there's only room for so much.

What that introduction is getting at is quick observations on listening to a couple of new Fall Out Boy tracks. I'm more than happy to say I enjoyed a couple of their past songs, but generally they just don't do it for me. No big deal. However, in listening to "Just One Yesterday" I'd say it's rather impossible to hear the beginning of the song and not start singing "There's a fire, burning in my..." in your best Adele voice. As youtube comments show, I am neither the first nor the only person to observe this. As far as "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark", I couldn't help but hear Kanye West's "Power." It's not identical but it sure is close.

Something much more worth noting however is the switchover occurring at the CTA to the new Ventra system. This has been going on for quite sometime, and it's pretty obvious where the real gains are. Apparently the technology was getting outdated, but the old CTA VP of Tech just happened to work for Cubic, the company that got a $454 million contract to implement this new necessary technology? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. I mean, poor Cubic went through the trouble of creating this new technology, we couldn't just have them sink that development cost by not giving them a bloated contract, could we? The good news is they'll now cut a bunch of jobs to make up for budget shortfalls. And they'll increase the fare cost by 33% starting in 2014. I'm not an accountant, so care to tell me how the $454 million implementation works in conjunction with the apparent $10.3 million per year in losses the CTA's taking?

At the transit stops they've been giving out nifty pamphlets too, to explain how the Ventra system is better! Fewer cards to keep track of! Actually no, you only ever needed one. Whether it was the papery piece with the magnetic strip like the MTA or MBTA or the plastic Chicago Card Plus you could tap on the machine, that was it. So far I see frequent moments of the Ventra scanners going down. The more technologically advanced you make a thing, the more opportunities it has to have something go wrong. Everything Ventra'd, nothing gained.

As we said in my safety patrol days then, "Start walking."

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Future is the Second After You Read This

Though it was a little warm yesterday and a bit humid today, we're settling in on what is fall. The days are already notably shorter, though it's still a blessed eight weeks until the terrible shifting of the clocks. Wake in darkness or leave work in darkness?

But for now people are still riding their electric skateboards and wearing their cyclist's equivalent of a dashboard cam, which is just a camera on their head. In the case of the former, it was just one dude, and while the technology to have a motorized skateboard isn't new, I don't think I'd actually seen one before. If you were expecting that they guy looked and acted like a douche, you'd have been correct.

As for the cyclist with the headcam, this isn't that new either, but once again I'd never seen a person wearing one for general consumption. Also, rather than being attached to his helmet, he had it on his forehead. Nor did he appear to be a very competent cyclist, leading me to wonder just what kind of footage he'd capture on a typical ride. It might be time for me to wear one when I run to take note of cyclists being extreme assholes. This isn't anything unique to cyclists, assholes abound, but it's well-established that I have a gripe with cyclists.

It's a successive string of natural environmental enemies -- cars pose a danger to me too, especially the frequent stop sign rollers and cell phone involved Range Rover drivers (lots of drivers have pulled dumb shit, but there are a disproportionate number of Range Rovers and/or my brain recalls them with greater ease). But cars, pedestrians, and runners can universally agree on hating cyclists. It's a shame because as with any group they're not all bad. Some simple things worth remembering might be: if you want the road rights of cars, you're going to have to start observing traffic signals (things like stop signs and red lights), and moving into the blind spot of a bus or making a right turn across and in front of a bus is not really a good idea. And whatever I say, just remember that your helmet is your seatbelt.

I know what you're thinking, it's a good time for a snack.
Thanks for stopping by…you stay classy Planet Earth.