"Oh Pun!" says...uh, me.

[This space reserved for something creative. It may be awhile.]

January 23, 2007


29:43! In just my third run of the year, I broke the 30-minute barrier for the 5K and established my personal best time for an outdoor run.

I'm harboring no illusions that this means I'm fast. I honestly am quite surprised that I was able to do it, but I started my run tonight aiming for the sub-30. I made a number of poor eating choices this weekend and yesterday, and this morning I weighed in at 239.5 pounds, eliminating the progress I had made (just three pounds, but still...) since the beginning of last week. As a result, I decided to take out my frustrations with this evening's run. Now that I know what I'm capable of, I am confident that I'll be breaking the barrier during a race this spring.

On an unrelated note, it would have been fantastic had Bush begun his speech tonight by saying "please hold all applause until the end".

January 18, 2007

All In The Numbers - Running Edition

240. 90. 12 1/2. 310. 100. 5. 13. 34:44. 30:00. 97.

$240 - The price I paid at Target for my new Garmin Forerunner 205, a "GPS-enabled trainer for runners". Probably a bit fancier than I need, it can upload running history to a computer program, and download some running programs from the Garmin website. Excellent gadget, if not a bit frustrating as it takes an inordinate amount of time to locate a strong enough satellite signal to begin my run. I may have to cut down a few of the tall trees bordering the front sidewalk.

$90 - The price I paid at Track Shack for my new Asic Gel running shoes. They are made for those who over-pronate. That would be me. Extremely comfortable; I wish all of my shoes felt as good.

12 1/2 - The size of the Asic Gel shoes. Do all running shoes have a smaller size scale? My dress shoes are size 11 1/2, other sneakers are 12. This makes me feel more virile. Size does matter.

310 - My goal for total miles run during 2007. Why not 300? Good segue...

100 - The number of practice 5K (3.1 miles) runs I'll need to complete during the year to reach my miles goal. That breaks down to about two such runs per week. Certainly not unrealistic, if I stay with it all year.

5 - How many 5K races I plan to compete in this year. Right now it looks like the IOA Corporate 5K (for which I was team captain for my firm last year - 26 participants(!)) in April will be the first.

13 - The number of pounds I want to lose by my trip to Las Vegas with friends from work. This will be the second annual such trip, and I don't want to weigh more than 225 pounds, unless of course I put on muscle mass.

34:44 - My 5K practice run time last night, the first night I've run this year. My average cost per run is now $330.

30:00 - The 5K time I plan to beat by the end of this year, in an actual race. I've done it, but on a treadmill only. My best time in an actual race is about 30:30.

97 - Days left until Vegas, Baby! This has created a convenient 100-day plan for me to improve my physical condition (with two days of procrastination built in).

January 17, 2007


I'm definitely a list maker. At work I have a number of handwritten lists, with tasks to be performed (sometimes prioritized, even). I keep a list of books I've read since 1994. I create schedules of things to get done at home, although to be fair a number of those have been created by my wife. When I was in college, a few of my friends and I would come up with a topic in class and then each have fifteen minutes to develop a Top 10 List, with David Letterman as our muse. My yearly goals are an important list for me.

Not surprisingly, I enjoy reading a good list as much as anyone. That's why I was very happy to be directed to the 2006 List of Lists published by a site called Fimoculous. It's a veritable all-you-can-eat buffet of the best and worst of the year in many different categories, with links to where each list was developed. Top Politically Incorrect Words? It's there. Have a favorite Top Reality Whore? Check if they've made the cut. What about something a bit more obscure, like the Top Eight Paleontology Stories? Your appetite will be sated. Unfortunately, they're up to just #36 on Asshole of the Year (Kevin Federline), but check back in just over a month to see who made #2.

Obviously, the List of Lists also contains the more common (and relevant) categories such as books (50 lists), DVDs (8), film (81), games (14) and music (228!). It would be easy to get diverted from your day for hours at a time at this site. That's not necessarily a bad thing.

January 15, 2007

Travel Books

While the collection of travel books I've read in large part begins and ends with the works of Bill Bryson, the genre is interesting to me. I enjoy reading about places which I'd love to visit, or may never visit. I recently stumbled upon this list of what a site called World Hum has chosen as the best thirty travel books of all-time. I was pleased to see Bryson's In a Sunburned Country, describing his travels to Australia, on the list as well as Peter Hessler's River Town, which chronicled his stint as an English teacher in the city of Fuling, China, where my daughter was born. The fact that those two are rated so highly make me want to read more of the books on the list. #1 is Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger. I've heard of neither the book nor the author, but now I'm curious.

Have you read any of the books listed?

January 06, 2007


I haven't had too many bad days in my life, but today was certainly one of the worst. I had to put my dog to sleep today. Mattingly came into our lives more than 11 years ago; the secretary at an old job found him walking down the street, flea-bitten and dirty, but in good spirits. An animal lover, she opened her car door and he happily jumped inside. Whether lost or purposely let free, he obviously had not been neglected or abused, but somehow he was without an owner. An ad was placed in the paper and a few fliers posted, but no one called to claim him. She asked me to consider taking him in. I had never had a dog and was hesitant, but figured I'd agree for a week and see how it went. I wanted to name him after my favorite Yankee, and luckily his name sounded regal enough for my wife to agree.

The first night we kept him in our bathroom, with newspapers laid out for him to use when he had to go. We were woken up in the morning by his scratching on the bathroom door. When we opened the door he ran out and to the patio door, where he scratched again. Surprisingly, he had not gone to the bathroom during the night; instead, he went when we took him outside. I can count on one hand the times he had an accident in the house during the past 11 years; that is, up until the past six weeks.

We adopted a puppy about six months ago, and we thought she was potty trained but we were finding stains on our carpets almost daily. Of course, we blamed her. We started to notice that Mattingly was drinking a lot more water, and was losing weight rapidly. My wife guessed that he had developed diabetes, and her diagnosis turned out to be correct. The accidents were his. The diabetes had dehydrated him severely, forcing him to drink much higher quantities of water, and making him unable to hold it in for as long as he had in the past.

We took him first to his regular vet, and then to a specialist, where we learned that he had become a very high maintenance dog. Twice-daily insulin shots became the requirement, along with a change in diet and the prospect of biweekly blood sugar testwork. His quality of life had deteriorated very rapidly; he stopped playing with the kids and did little but sleep during the day. He ate less and less and drank more and more, as the insulin failed to help, even as the dosage was increased. We had some difficult discussions, and made the tough decision this week, so that he could die peacefully before he really started to suffer.

I took him to the vet this afternoon, and sat in the office with my sunglasses on, trying to keep from crying, as I am trying now. He looked so tired, and I felt both like I was doing the right thing, and like his executioner. As the nurse called me in to the room, and the vet came in, I said my final goodbyes and told him how great of a dog he had been for us. One final kiss, and I had to leave.

We'll never have a dog like him again. After the children were born, he never got the attention he deserved, but he was always friendly, well-behaved, and grateful. I've never been a person who attributes a slew of human qualities to animals, but he was a fantastic pet (and even wrote the last handful of our family Christmas letters *grin*) and was the first animal I actually can say that I loved.

I'll miss him. Rest in peace, Mattingly.

January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Every year I compose a list of goals to achieve during the upcoming year. Some, like reading 25 books, or wipe from front to back, are ever-present. Others are also always there in some form or another (eat better, exercise regularly, don't get fired). This is the first year in awhile that I've set a goal to set my goals for the year. I'm aiming for January 15th. 'Stop procrastinating' likely will be near the top of the list.

May you each achieve all of your goals, stated and unstated, this year and have an awesome time doing so.

December 28, 2006

Fantasy Football Winnings

I spent my winnings today on a new pair of running shoes (Asics) and a Garmin Forerunner (GPS, monitors pace, speed and time). These two items, along with this post, hopefully will get me remotivated to start running again. The last serious run I had was back in April in a corporate 5K, and before that it may have been my half marathon back in December of 2004. It's difficult for me to believe that I actually was able to run up to 14 miles in a row just two years ago. It's highly doubtful that I'd be able to run five miles straight right now, as I have gotten very out of shape. I'm not a huge person for resolutions, but I need to get back into good physical condition.

This is the second time I've spent fantasy football winnings on sports equipment. Three years ago I won a league and bought a weight bench and set of free weights. They are still looking great, sitting in my bedroom. They get dusted every two weeks. Who knows? I may even start using them again.

December 27, 2006


How does a team choke like that, in a huge game at home? Against a rush defense that has been horrible over the past eight weeks, how can you not score from the one yard line, given three attempts? How can your defensive line allow a journeyman quarterback so much time to complete throws to guys on third and long that for some reason are not even covered? How can you gift wrap the NFC East title for a team without its star, after fighting so hard to get to the top of the division?


What a lousy Christmas gift.

Grats to the Eagles, however. They showed up ready to win.

On a somewhat related note, I won my fantasy football league this season, which was a very nice Christmas present ($360). Thanks to the two owners drafting ahead of me this season who went with Shaun Alexander and Larry Johnson. I would have made the playoffs even without Tomlinson, however, because some of my later round picks really turned out to be good ones (Phillip Rivers, Maurice Drew-Jones, Marion Barber, the Ravens' defense). I won my last 11 games, something I don't think I've done in any arena since playing one-on-one basketball against my childhood friend Steve (who in all fairness is a foot shorter than me).

December 12, 2006

An unused blog

This is the main reason I was hesitant to start a blog - I wouldn't be motivated to write something regularly, and what I did post would be much less interesting and of lower quality than others'. Recently, however, I decided that I would just post. No one really reads this anyway, so why should it matter whether it's any good? With that amazing build-up, here's the reason I am posting today:

I was pulled over by an undercover policeman on Friday on my way to work for "improper use of horn". Warning, no ticket. I'm obviously a serious criminal who deserves incarceration, however, as the last time I was pulled over (approximately four years ago) it was for windows that were tinted too darkly. How, I ask you, is it possible for me to maintain my unbelievably cool image in a 1997 Honda Accord without darkly tinted windows?

September 12, 2006

A Site I Found

You've got to check out LibraryThing. The link will take you to my library, but you can add your own, and it's free. It seems to be an interesting way to catalog your books, and use the site to find other users with similar collections. I spent about 20 minutes adding various books, but got tired after the first 100+. I plan to add all of my books to the site at some point. That is, when I'm not busy. So, look for that to be completed at some point in 2008.

August 05, 2006

Magic Street

I just finished Magic Street by Orson Scott Card. His science-fiction classic Ender's Game is easily one of my top five novels of that genre, and I was interested in reading something completely different by him. Completely different it was. Magic Street is the story of Oberon, Puck and Titania as faeries, interfering with the mortal world as an infant black child named Mack Street is created, who can feel others' deepest wishes in his dreams. The story takes place over his childhood, and when he lets his dreams reach completion, the person's wish comes true, but in a horrible way (for example, a girl who wishes that she could swim all of the time, getting transported to the inside of her parents' waterbed).

I'm finding it difficult to accurately describe this novel, or even if I liked it all that much. I've read fantasy novels, and science fiction novels, but not anything like this before: set in modern times, with modern culture, and magical faeries fighting over the mortals. It strikes somewhat new ground in that the hero of the book is African-American. It would not be a stretch to claim that the novel has three heroes, all of whom are African-American. Card's acknowledgement in the back of the novel was as interesting to read as the story itself, as he explains how he came to write this novel while being white himself.

Were there any lessons to be learned regarding race issues in this novel? I don't think so, or they were hidden well, or I just glossed over them trying to get into the story. I really couldn't get into the story, unfortunately. It wasn't difficult to finish, but it's not one I'm likely to recommend that strongly to others.

I think it's time for something non-fiction.

July 18, 2006

My Reading List

In 1994 I set a goal to read 1,000 books in 40 years. This excludes children's books or instruction manuals or travel guides or Penthouse Forum letter collections, which quite truthfully was an omission that will hurt my chances of success.

Since that time I've maintained a list, first on paper and then transferred to Excel, of all of the books I have read. By the end of this year I should be at 325 books to stay on pace; I'm currently at 293. I'll have to kick it into a higher gear at some point to catch up, but I'm scheduling some time in my mid-50s to do so. I'm a big believer in setting goals; this one gives me the most leeway and time to procrastinate of all of them.

I don't spend discretionary income on many things, leaving that task predominantly to my wife and children. However, I'm a sucker for books. My home office is lined with six bookshelves, and the shelves are slowly running out of space. My book collection will never rival that of my good friend Steve, whose house does not have an inner wall in any room aside from the bathroom or kitchen devoid of bookshelves. The point is, though, that I love purchasing books. I'd much rather own a book than borrow one or check one out of the library. There's a part of me that wants possession in the event I decide to re-read a particular book, or so I can have them available for my children to read as they grow older. Plus, I just like the way they look piled up on my shelves.

My book purchasing frequency outpaces my book reading frequency, however, so many of the volumes on my shelves have yet to be read. I just purchased another book today, which is one of at least 20 that I have to decide between as to which I am going to read next. Currently I'm about halfway through Tom Drury's The End of Vandalism, which is thoroughly enjoyable but which I'm progressing through slowly given that I seem to only have the hour between 10:30 and 11:30 p.m. available for free time these days, and instead I'm spending much of that time goofing around on the internet (posting on this blog, for one thing).

One problem I have is that I tend to get as interested in thinking about the next book I'm going to read as I do about the book I'm currently reading. It has to be some sort of illness, but it feels immensely pleasurable to read the last page of a book and immediately begin running through the list of contenders for Next Book (I actually think of it like that, in bold and capitalized). The difficulty currently for me is that I have so many books that are vying for the title of Next Book. That's why I've decided to list the viable contestants in this post, as a sort of guide for me in the hopes it may help me prioritize my reading list. It doesn't help me to realize that with a substantial list, at my reading pace that basically ties me up for the better part of a year. And yet I know without hesitation that I will be purchasing more books before year's end. No one ever knows what to get me for a gift, and I don't know either, so I always ask for a gift certificate to Amazon or B&N or Borders.

So, knowing that this list is in no sort of priority order (having listed them based on the order in which I notice them on the shelves), and that many will be replaced by others to be named later, and that some may never be read for that matter, and that I need to wrap this sentence up before drowning in commas, here is my current list of books I'm anxious to "get to reading":

1. A Confederacy of Dunces - Toole
2. Parasite Rex - Zimmer
3. Hare Brain Tortoise Mind - Claxton
4. J R - Gaddis
5. Magic Street - Card
6. I Am Charlotte Simmons - Wolfe
7. The Firm of the Future - Dunn and Baker
8. Encouraging the Heart - Kouzes and Posner
9. Managing the Professional Service Firm - Maister
10. Clients for Life - Sheth and Sobel
11. Uncoventional Success - A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment - Swensen
12. The Agressive Conservative Investor - Whitman and Shubik
13. Rule #1 - Town
14. The Mind of Bill James - Gray
15. Baseball Between the Numbers - Baseball Prospectus
16. New Shanghai - Yatsko
17. A People's History of the United States - Zinn
18. Revolutionary Wealth - Toffler and Toffler
19. Fast Food Nation - Schlosser
20. The Wisdom of Crowds - Surowiecki
21. Empires of the Word - Ostler
22. Coincidences, Chaos, and All That Math Jazz - Burger and Starbird
23. The Pig That Wants To Be Eaten - Baggini
24. NY Public Library's Books of the Century - Diefendorf
25. Boards That Deliver - Charan
26. China: The Balance Sheet - Center for Strategic and International Studies
27. Freedom Just Around the Corner - Mcdougall
28. Magician - Feist

Well, shit.

That's more than a year's worth of books right there. And it doesn't count all of the other books I haven't yet read that are on my shelves. Or Guns, Germs and Steel which I have 100 pages yet to read (and have had to read for about six weeks). Or the books on my Amazon wishlist. Or the few periodicals I subscribe to. Or the newspaper. Or current reading for my profession. Or. Or. Or. I should be a miner, extracting all this or.

Any suggestions on what to read next? What to ignore? If not, I'll just pick a Next Book that suits my mood at the time. One thing I sure as hell ain't reading: this post for typos.

July 14, 2006

Why Did I Create A Blog?

1. I have a lot on my mind and need a creative outlet.
2. My brother has a blog.
3. My father doesn't have one.
4. I love the written word...particularly when it's mine.
5. It's too difficult to use an ellipsis in speech.
6. I don't spend nearly enough time wasting away hours on the computer.
7. Just one more excuse to ignore the family.
8. The world is crying out for a hard-hitting liberal blog.
9. The world is yelping for a tough-as-nails, take no prisoners conservative blog.
10. I don't like message boards because people actually read what I write there.
11. I like posting links to unusual or funny sites that I think others might enjoy.
12. That's actually bullshit. I like posting links to unusual or funny sites that I think I might enjoy and likely will forget to bookmark.
13. I want a G-rated blog that my kids will enjoy reading.
14. Guess they're not reading #12.
15. I like making lists.
16. I'm vain.
17. Who doesn't appreciate puns?
18. I have something to write that no one has ever read before.
19. Not like I'm going to share it with you, though.
20. So that it finally can be said that creating a blog has officially jumped the shark.
21. I'm an attention-whore, who doesn't charge for services provided.
22. Why not?
23. Does it really matter when I love you so?
24. So my Mom has no excuse to say I don't talk with her often enough. Shhhh, as far as she knows, this is just for her...er, I mean you! Hi, Mom!
25. I'm out to prove that accountant /= boring...but reading a blog posted by one definitely is.
26. God, I love a well-placed ellipsis.
27. This is not...one.
28. A blog is more productive than viewing internet pornography. It's also the cause of many less virii.
29. I enjoy making lists, even of sometimes unrelated items.
30. Pretzels with cheese dip.
31. I just lost my train of thought. Mmmm, cheese dip.
32. Okay, so where were we? Oh yeah.
33. I want to win an internet award for world's best blog.
34. I mean, another one.
35. So I can give shout outs and mad props to my homies.
36. I can type 'homies' in two consecutive sentences and no one can do a thing about it because I control this blog!
37. I can't get banned from this place, unless I want to.
38. To post my innermost thoughts and feelings, because I really value what complete strangers on the internet have to say about them.
39. This reason for sale - inquire within.
40. This is a good place for me to post things happening in my life that my family can read about. Therefore, I shall save on phone bills, as well as being repetitive.
41. Joe DiMaggio hit in 56 consecutive games and deserves my praise.
42. I want to discover the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.
43. So I can look busy at work.
44. Sometimes I have a good thought and go to write it down but then I realize that I don't have a sharp pencil or the pen I've been using is out of ink and I am about to forget what I was thinking about and please thought, don't leave me because it really was worthwhile and how in the hell could I have typed all of this on a single Post-It Note, anyway?
45. I want to post something in my life that ends up attributed to George Carlin, who will of course deny it on his website, at first, until he realizes the sheer brilliance of what I posted, at which time he will greedily claim it as his own and sue me for plagiarism.
46. I, of course, will wish to settle. I know some good lawyers at the OTBL boards.
47. I can make reference to things like 'OTBL' that many readers won't understand, and that makes me feel superior.
48. Isn't that all anyone really deserves? Superiority is highly under-rated.
49. I was going to think of 100 reasons but I'm running out of good ideas. That was evident around reason #17.
50. So that you would read it, and hopefully smile, laugh or think, at least once.

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