Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hump Day Fo Sho

Folkerinos, it's Hump Day here in Old Cootafornia. I think hump is the word of the day (or days) in several respects. Allow me to expand...

Hump Day

I think we all know that Wednesday is traditionally Hump Day. It's the middle of the work week (or school week for you Readerinos out there getting your edumacation on) and once you crest that hump, you're home free.

During the summer, Hump Day coincides with Free Concert and Cheap Race Day 'round these parts. First, the free concert series runs from July til the end of August. Each week they have a new band, typically local, and it's a good chance to get out, use your lawn chair, see some friends and listen to music. It's right on the lake, so boaters come out in droves as well to get their groove on.

I always enjoy listening to boaters complain about how long it takes to get off the water afterward. There's only one boat launch which I believe can accommodate two boats, assuming sober/capable Captains and dozens of boats trying to get out. What a shame it must be to have to sit out on the boat in the water on a warm summer night.

Hump Week

Believe it or not, it's mid July here and everywhere. It's funny how the winter is so long, yet the summer is so short. Maybe it's all a matter of perception or maybe it's that I live in New England and our winters last forEVER. Whatever the case, we have half of July left.

While I always feel like I've wasted the summer, this year I have an excuse: it rained all of June. Now that we're in the meat of the season, I've been taking full advantage. So far I've biked, run, camped, and kayaked (only once, boo). If I can get my ass in gear, I'll have some clothes out on the line tonight drying in the warm, dry summer air.

Humping It

I'll use this term in a number of ways here. First of all, I've been humping it to work on my bike every day since some time in May. Aside from a few thunderstorms and my current flat tire, it's been a very painless activity. Even the thunderstorms have been cooperative and held off until the ride home.

Not only have I been saving gas, but I haven't been making all of those little trips I used to make to "just pick up (fill in the blank)". Those trips not only fill my house with crap, but they also drain my wallet. Oh, and the morning ride through the dirt road I've dubbed "Coney Expressway" is fantastic. The sun shining on the mountains and tall grasses is fantastic. The coneys must still be babies at this point and they're everywhere on the road, darting in and out of the grass on the sides. They're so cute you just want to pinch their cheeks.

Busting My Hump

I haven't been riding my bike as much as I'd like, but when I have ridden I've busted my hump. Last night was a casual 28-miler turned high-intensity 40-miler. The ride itself was only 28 miles, but I wasn't going to drive to the meeting spot, and that added the 12 miles I needed to round it off to an even 40.

We started off innocently enough, but soon it became one challenge after another. If we weren't busting a hump up a hill or over rolling hills, we were pushing it on the flats.

Unlike the regular rides where we might cruise at 18 MPH on the flats, last night we were routinely busting out stretches in the mid 20s. For you non-cyclists, that might not seem like a lot but 24 MPH is 33% faster than 18, and your average John Q BikeTrailRider is humming along at a mediocre 8-10 MPH. For you nerdy non-cyclists, keep in mind that force required to overcome wind resistance (including drag) increases with the square of speed.

I'll point out here that to keep their own energy expenditure down, the guys pushing the pace were comfortably nestled in my draft. One guy even had the nerve to start singing while I was pulling him up a hill at a cool 20 MPH! Oh well, when I'm gracing the cover of Bicycling Magazine they'll be chasing me down for an autograph.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I *heart* LLBean

HO LEE CRAP! It's been a longylong time since I last hollered at you. My sincerest apologies, but I just didn't much feel like blogging. I was in a funk-rut but for the last couple of days I've been thinking "Hey, I need to blog this" so here I am, blogging "this".

LLBean, more like LLBomb

For those of you out there in Readerland who order stuff from LLBean, you may be familiar with the benefits of using their credit card. First of all, you get free shipping, free monogramming and every once in a while they send you gift cards and so on. Well, as of July 1st, their old card is no good and you have to get the new card, with the added benefit of free return shipping. Booyeah!

So first thing in the morning on July 1st I sat down at my trusty computerator and signed up for the new card. I was itching to make my first purchase on it, and had something that I not only wanted, but absolutely needed. This is an item I literally would not be able to continue living without. I practically had a prescription for it I need it so badly. "What is it?" you may ask. The answer, a bug screen tent for camping, so mosquitoes don't bite me while I'm eating.

Anywho, after days and days of waiting for my approved card to arrive in the mail I said "Fuck it, I'll just order it and hope for the best". I placed the order and sho-nuff did not receive free shipping. I hopped on my mobile telephony device and spoke with one of the nicest customer service people on the earth. They come from Maine, The Way Life Should Be, and I swear it's like calling your mom (your own mom, not like when you call someone else's mom, except of course you mom's mom). They know exactly what you're talking about, have access to your entire account and then start making suggestions like:

"Would it be okay if I just waived the shipping fee and credited your account?
"How about we refund your money for that, sir? And I'd like to send you a $10 coupon for your troubles."
"That bag your mom gave you in 3rd grade has a scuff on the bottom? That won't do. Don't bother sending it back we'll just put a replacement in today's mail for you. Which color would you prefer?"

You get my drift. The customer service mother has the power to solve all of your LLBean related problems right then and there. The woman I spoke with told me my order wasn't showing up yet but that she'd keep an eye out for it and credit me the shipping when she saw it. There was no need for me to stay on the line. I believed her and you know what? She came through.

You get off the phone and think "Damn, that woman was nice as hell", then feel guilty for cursing, or even thinking curse words.

LLBean's Shipping Policy

As if free shipping wasn't already the bee's knees, the shit is quick to boot. My order was processed yesterday at 4:49PM (Eastern Time, of course) and at 6:00AM this morning the thing was on the truck and out for delivery. Keep in mind that I don't live in Maine. Here's my theory...

You place an order and it's assigned to a customer service mom. She sets down her knitting, stokes the fire real quick, and has one of her order processing children take care of it right away if they want some of that pie she has cooling on the window sill. She watches out the window of her log cabin customer service cubicle and makes sure her order processing child does in fact put your order on the truck immediately. Her oldest son drives the UPS truck and he wants to be back for supper too, so he hurries my order off to the next UPS distribution center along with some of yesterday's blackberry pie to bribe the UPS guys there.

After supper (undoubtedly a stew of some sort), the children are rewarded with some of the fresh baked apple pie, topped with vanilla ice cream made in one of those ice cream making balls that they sell in their catalog. Customer service mom smiles in approval as all is well in her world.

In conclusion, I am thrilled with LLBean and the way they treat their customers. Camping this weekend is supposed to be rain-free, but if it isn't we'll have a nice tent to keep us dry while we eat hot dogs and play cards.

If all goes well, my blog hiatus will be over and I'll start posting regularly again. Of course, tomorrow I'll be camping so you may have to wait until Monday or Sunday night.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Monday, May 19, 2008

All Wrapped Up

This past weekend I set to work on a book I started reading last summer. I bought it to take on my trip to Japan, and have been slowly pecking away at it until this past weekend, when I attacked it full force. Tonight I just put the damn thing to bed.

The Stand

Last summer a friend recommended Stephen King's The Stand as an easy read for a vacation. I rushed right out and bought it in all of it's unabridged, re-released splendor. That splendor spanned more than 1100 thinner than air pages, that seemed to have negative thickness as I slowly plodded through the story.

I would spend hours at a time reading, taking on the experiences of the characters as if I were right there with them. I would celebrate their victories and share in their defeats, and when the afternoon was over - SHIT, that's as far as I got?!? 1/32"? Four hours for 1/32 of an inch!?!

Well, this past weekend I put a 300 page hurting on that book. Tonight I sat down with it hoping to make another dent in the paltry 200-ish pages I had left. As the hours rolled by I found myself unable to set the book down until I finally turned the last page. I wanted to read the little blip about the author but fuck that shit, I had enough. Plus it's not like Stephen King is some obscure author that I can learn about and then tell others.

Now, I'm creeped the hell out. At 11:45PM I went out to get my clothes from the clothes line when an ant stepped on a leaf and I almost crapped my pants. A little on edge? Methinks so.

And now I shall try to sleep.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

This Weekend in Review

The weather is getting nicer, the nature is getting greener (or otherwise more colorful) and the hours are still growing longer. What a time to be tapering for a race.

One Week Away

I gotta tell you I've never been this worked up for a race before, with the exception of The Josh, and I'm getting antsy. I had a nightmare the other night where we couldn't find the start of the race and when we did I had forgotten to wear a shirt. The first two miles of my dream-race were substantially slower than my goal pace, to the point that I'd never be able to make up the time. I woke up in a panic.

The hardest part about the couple of weeks leading up to this race is that I'm supposed to be tapering, meaning running fewer, easier miles. At this point there's nothing to gain by running hard so you're just maintaining and trying not to get hurt. After busting your hump for months it's awful to try and hold back. Just today when we finished 8 miles up and over a mountain, or at least some wicked steep trails, with a two to three mile ass-hauling at the end, I felt like I could have done it again. I had to use great restraint to get in the car and drive home. The last thing I want is to run my race a week early.

Out for a Spin

Yesterday I was scheduled for an easy 3-miler. The weather was perfect (despite the predictions) and I had just stopped to buy a new hat, some shorts and a shirt for the race when I got a call regarding a bike ride. Technically a bike ride is considered cross-training so I opted for that over the run. Plus my road bike was fresh back from surgery where she had a new crankset installed.

I made my purchases, passing up the race shorts with the 3/4" inseam (which I will be returning to buy after all) and was on my way. The ride went into the wind in both directions (figure that out) and we met a couple of interesting folks.

The first was a young woman out cruising the Berkshire countryside checking out roofs for her upcoming roofing project. We rode with her to a coffee shop slightly outside the range of our initial ride route, and headed back when she went to meet up with a friend.

On the way back, we ran into a guy who liked to ride fast. My counterpart doesn't have her summer biking legs on yet and we kept dropping her on the climbs. He didn't seem to care and just kept on pedaling. I should have let him go instead of leaving my friend behind, but I couldn't come up with a polite way to drop off. Don't worry, I felt plenty bad.

We stopped at another friend's house to admire his firewood pile (as instructed) which was not the 30' tower we were promised. I'd give it 15', but it was a letdown. I slithered through the post and rail fence to steal some logs while my partner in crime watched the horses (oh yeah, there were horses) to make sure they didn't come after me. For the record, animals larger than cats (and many the size of cats) scare me to death.

After leaving a note written in logs and placing a few on the lawn as a sign (and a close call with the big horse) we started to make our getaway when I noticed I had a flat. SHIT! We were going to get caught for sure. I had the tube replaced and tire almost back on the bike when the woman of the house showed up, busting us right there by the road. DAMN THAT FLAT! She was clueless to our intentions though, so I think we're fine.

Unbroke My Brakes

Remember how my folding bike showed up with a broken brake? Well yesterday the new set of brake calipers showed up. It's a good thing the guy on the phone asked me what color mine were, because he made sure to send me a different color. Either way, these are way better than the original ones, being made of metal and all.

Last night I installed the new brakes, tweaked the rear ones that had been squeaking, swapped my mountain bike seat onto the folding bike, oiled the chain and called it a night.

If you haven't ridden a bike much, you should know that big fat wide cushy saddles (what cyclists call seats) are the worst. They're fine for a couple of miles, but after that they tear you up. Being used to a skinny, hard saddle I found the fat saddle rubbing me the wrong way. The mountain bike saddle is an improvement, and I hope it does the trick.

Well, I guess I had more to say than I thought. I could go on, but I'm sure I've already lost a lot of you. Peace out, y'alls.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Lit Up from the Tit Up

Coot fans, I am sad to tell you that my trademark red hat is gone. I was riding to my Thursday Night Run last night and it blew off my bike rack. I should have known better than to not attach it better but it seemed so secure I didn't give it a second thought. When I arrived at the park it was no longer on the bike. I didn't just give up though...

The Quest for the Cap

The entire ride home from the park I kept my eyes peeled for my hat. The first few miles were on a quiet back road, so I was able to really give it a good look. But once I hit the main road it was a different story. Riding with traffic kept me on the other side of the road, so finding it was a bit of a stretch since it very easily could have blown off into the bushes on the side.

This afternoon I went back out and ran the section of my road where I felt it was most likely to have ended up, which was also the section where I couldn't give it a good look-see from the bike. I ran out and back along the same side and looked as best as I could, to no avail. I have to concede that the hat is gone forever.

Tomorrow I'm going to head over to the local Sporting Goods Chain Store to procure a new one and treat myself to some new shorts for next weekend's race.


What I didn't mention about today's run/quest for the hat, is that it was raining. I wore a vest that mostly shielded me from the rain, but it's not really waterproof so I still got wet.

With about 2 miles to go I started to get that familiar nagging in the breastal region. I probably covered one of those miles with my shirt held away from my chest, but it was futile and the damage had already been done.

If you couldn't tell from the photograph, my nipple chafed a little more than what I would consider to be trivial. I've never had it bleed through the shirt before, but I guess there's a first time for everything. The only remaining question: Why only one nipple?

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Bad with the Good

I started this post the other day, and I'm going to finish it up before starting in on today's post. All I did the other day was come up with headings, so I'll have to fill in all the text. Read on, bitches.

My New Bike Arrived...Broken

For those of you who have been waiting with bated breath, my new folding bike arrived the other day (Tuesday I believe). I rode home from work (on the mountain bike), opened the box, took out all of the parts and got to work assembling what wasn't already assembled, which wasn't much.

I took my time, made a few adjustments and was getting ready to ride when it felt like one of the brakes was dragging. I guess brakes wasn't on my list of adjustments, oops. I lifted the front wheel and the damn thing wouldn't spin at all.

That's when I noticed the part of the brake that holds the adjustment screw had broken clean off. I found the piece in the bottom of the box, but the screw was nowhere to be found. I got on the horn with the store right away, then waited all afternoon for them to call me back. When I eventually gave up and called them back, the guy had no idea I had called and offered to mail the replacement part out to me.

I don't know how you are, but when I get a new toy I want to play with the damn thing as soon as possible. I decided to yank the front brakes off my mountain bike and use those until the replacement showed up. Once the brake was disassembled I found a little trick to rig it up without needing the adjustment screw. It's safe, but unadjustable.

I rode it to work on Wednesday, and last night to the Thursday Night Run and so far it seems to go from point A to point B without too much trouble. I had some difficulties on some bigger hills, but nothing my powerful, sexy legs couldn't handle.

Work is Good...Except for One

Despite my Coot-like pseudonym, I am a very tolerant person and can usually find the good in most people. This person however, rubs me the wrong way in every aspect of his/her being.

Not unattractive? NO.
Good personality? NO.
Easy to talk to? NO.
Not bad smelling? NO.
Quiet? NO.
Not disgusting? NO.
Competent? NO.

Now, normally I wouldn't say those things about a fellow human being but in this case I think I can use one of my Get-Out-of-Hell-Free cards without any problem. GAH!

Beautiful Weather...While I'm at Work

All week we had the butterest weather. It was sunny, mid 70s, calm, and ice cream friendly. Then Thursday got here and the weather started to turn sour. Today (Friday) is cloudy, cool and rainy. Tomorrow and Sunday are supposed to be at least partly sunny but with temps in the 50s.

With years of anecdotal evidence I can say with certainty that my mood is directly tied to the weather. Being home all day in dreary weather bums me the hell out. Maybe I'll find my hat today (story to follow) and that'll cheer me up.

Commuting to Work is the Best

On the plus side of life, commuting to work on a bike is one of the best things I've started doing. I can almost hear your eyeballs out there rolling in their sockets, but it's true.

Some of you are probably thinking "Old Coot, you're an exercise nut and that's why you like riding your bike to work". That may be partially true, but what I really enjoy about it is the mini-workout (12 minutes is doable by anyone) in the fresh air, the ride through the little neighborhoods and the park instead of busy, trafficky roads, and the few minutes of peace and calm between rushing out the door and being at my desk.

The only thing I like about the commute better than riding my bike to work is riding it home from work.

Last week was National Ride Your Bike To Work Week, and I'm sure some of you might have missed your invitation. That doesn't mean you can't start this coming week. If anything, you're just a little late jumping on the bike bandwagon.

Lastly, if you consider the price of gas in your decision (which I didn't), a 5 mile ride to work (30 minutes vs probably 20 minutes driving) will save 10 miles a day. Using the official US mileage reimbursement rate of 50.5¢ per mile, that's about $5 a day, $25 a week, $100 a month and $500 for the summer! That bike doesn't look so expensive anymore, does it?

Even if you only ride in half the time you're still saving a bundle, helping the environment, improving your health and maybe finding an activity you truly enjoy.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

This Heading Intentionally Left Blank

I was on a tear, then off said tear, now I'm trying to climb back on. As any regular blogger knows, this shit is time consuming and from time to time we just fall away from it as life becomes more boring/interesting. However, the tear I was on for that brief period felt good so I'm going to try and keep posting.

iCan't iChat

A friend of mine tried to get a video chat going last night to help Christen the new iMac. We tried several times, then tried just audio chatting which could also be achieved using a phone or face-to-face, but that didn't work anyway. We were forced to chat by typing, the way our ancestors did before video chatting.

I did some research and it looks like the problem is that our routers may or may not be configured in such a way that they're willing to do business together. Simple stuff like text, no problem.

I think my iMac knows that if it can't transmit a streaming video of me in all of my handsome splendor then it's not going to even try. But damn, I had the lighting all figured out, my eyebrows straightened, the residual salt deposits (from running) wiped away and my shirt put back on with the correct side facing out. I was looking good, but apparently not good enough to send live video to another human being.

Nature's Monkey Wrench

As you don't know, I was planning on taking tomorrow off to test drive some bikes. I made that decision first thing Monday morning and have been looking forward to my day off all week. Then Mother Nature throws a monkey wrench in the works and sends rain our way. There's no sense in driving out to look at bikes I can't test ride, so now I have to work on Friday. Since in my mind Friday was a day off, it now feels like I have to work an extra day this week. She-att!

So Close

I have a policy that if three really bad things happen before I get to work, I'm turning around and going back home. Today, many, many things went wrong but the weather is shitty and there's no way I was going to blow a perfectly good mental health day (AKA vacation day) on cloudy, rainy, bullshit ass weather.

Then, as I unbuckled my seatbelt I noticed I forgot to wear a belt. Shirt and Tie Day becomes Look Like an Weenie Day when you don't wear a belt. Son-of-a-bitch!!!! That was yet another strike which almost got me to put the key back in the ignition and head for home, but again the weather sucks so I didn't.

Now I've been wearing my business fleece all day trying to cover up my lack of belt. My office is normally wicked cold so I wear my business fleece most days anyway, but now I don't have the option to take it off. God I hate the look of a shirt tucked in sans belt.


In case you're like me and didn't know that Sunday is Mother's Day, now you know. I stopped on my way to work and picked up a card. I've been killing myself trying to come up with the perfect gift for a mother who's in the process of getting rid of everything she owns so she can move to Florida, to no avail. I believe that perfect gift is simply the love of her son/favorite child.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Monday, May 05, 2008

Cinco de Mayo, Son!

Alright, I have a problem and I thought I had it under control, but I don't. It's not one of my regular problems, it's one that is fortunately secret to me, but today I'm going to fess up in the hopes that taking that first step will be enough to help me through it.

I Want to Be Dave Chappelle

I was watching some YouTube videos last night of some of Chappelle's skits and standup performances. Whenever I watch even one skit, I can't help but to start using his delivery with my own internal monologue. The hardest part is that my whiteness prevents me from saying half the stuff I think. Not that what I'm thinking is derogatory, but Dave often uses what I'll call the N-word, which is not Kosher for a white boy like me.

Shit, can I use the word "Kosher" if I'm not Jewish? To be safe I'll call that the K-word from here on out.

Sunday Long Run

Yesterday was a pivotal day for yours truly. I had my usual Sunday long run, but it was unusually long. Sure it was only a mile longer than the next longest run (excluding the one where I got lost as hell and did 5.5 extra miles), but what was beauteous about it is that I felt great and kicked the shit out of it.

I was tired of coming up with routes that nobody else would want to run, so this time I took my favorite 7.5 mile run and decided to just run it twice. That way if anyone only wanted to do half they could run one of them with me and I'd do the other by my own big self.

As luck would have it, four people showed up which made my day. The weather was less than ideal, but since the route could be summed up with a a single solitary word: My Happy Place, it didn't matter what Mother Nature served up I loved it.

We ran the first lap at slightly above what I would consider a "conversational pace", meaning I could have gone faster and still held my half of a conversation. After that lap a few people headed for home while three of us headed back out again. The other two were only going to do a few more miles then head back, leaving me to finish the route on my own. No biggie. What I wasn't planning on was that the other two would be picking up the pace. We were cruising along when they turned off to head back. Amazed that I had been able to maintain that pace I kept up the same effort level (which would have been the same pace if the road would not have been so hilly) for the next few miles.

As my watch beeped signaling the end of mile 15 I was still about half a mile from the car and just an eentsy bit above it, elevation-wise. I used my powerful imagination to put another runner on the road ahead of me, giving me someone to pick off in the final stretch to the imaginary finish line. Well, that person got more than a mouthful of my dust, the poor bastard.

Monday's Rest Day

After the longer Long Runs, my training plan gives me a rest day. They do point out that "rest" can mean "cross-train", so I took advantage of the warmer weather and went for what would be an ass-kicking 35 mile bike ride. For the most part it was very casual, at a very conversational pace. However, the route would take us across three town lines (and back) meaning there were 6 Town Line Sprints, which I swept.

Back at the meeting spot we shot the shit for a few minutes then I decided it was time to hightail it back home. The sun had already set and it was getting D-A-R-K. I still had a bit of a ride to get home, so I cranked out an ass-whooping of a 7 mile all-out effort. I wasn't wearing my heart rate monitor (HRM), but I'm sure the display would have read "One at a time, please" or "Lance, give Old Coot his HRM back".

Happy Birthday, Kittens

In a coincidence that I won't explain, my cats' birthdays are both today, Cinco de Mayo. Okay, I'll explain...

Who the hell ever knows their pets real birthdays? I never do. So I figured they were probably born at some time in the spring, and what spring day do people usually celebrate without exception but 5/5? When I picked that date I couldn't imagine a time when there wouldn't be a party for the cats to enjoy. As we all know, I don't party down like I used to so it's really just business as usual for my buds. I give them extra attention in the form of slaps, wall smashes and the kind of petting they can feel, where their eyelids end up higher than their eyeballs. In reality that's probably better for them than a bunch of drunks hooting, hollering, and running the blender until all hours.

Happy Birthday, boys.

P.S. K-word Dill Pickles. That shit is funny, son. Uhn!

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Saturday, May 03, 2008

It's In!!

Just wanted you folks to know that my new iMac has arrived, and it set up and ready to go. If you include the time I spent wrestling with the box and the tape on the keyboard connector it took 12:27 (that's 12 minutes and 27 seconds) to go from sealed box on the floor to fully functional. Killer!

Don't worry, I took pictures and I'll get them uploaded as soon as I figure all of that out. For now, I'm up and running and now I have to get up and go running. I'll holler at y'all later.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Closing In

I've got a few things on my schedule that have been slowing coming to a close. My training plan for the half marathon culminates in the race in 3 weeks. My long-lasting wait for my iMac ends today (fingers crossed). I've got another item on my mind that might give me something else to look forward to, but I'm still molling over it for a while.

The Training Plizan

This week my training was dealt a tough blow by my #2 priority, work. I had a deadline I was working to meet, which meant working long days all week. I know, I know, some people work long days all the time and don't bitch about it, but I don't so I'm going to bitch.

After long work days, I found myself squeezing my runs in late at night. I think Tuesday night speedwork ended around 11PM, and my tempo run on Wednesday may have been in the 10:30 timeframe. By the time Thursday came around I was just about finished with my hours for the week, including making up some of the time from last week, and once I was done with my work I left work with most of the day to spare.

What was most convenient about that was that my Thursday Night Run filled only half of my mileage requirements for the day per the plan, so I was able to get there early, run a few extra miles, then head out with the group.

By the time I hit the sack on Thursday night I was whipped. I slept, get this, until 11AM Friday morning. And it didn't end there. I spent the day Friday lounging, eating, feeding the fire (ahh, fireplaces) and reading. There was also a nap squeezed in there when reading got to be too strenuous. I did some late-night yoga to feel like I accomplished something, researched some stocks, and turned in for the night.

A very unproductive yet much needed recovery day.

Where the Hell is My iMac?

Yesterday morning(ish) I awoke ready to clear a spot for my new computer. I headed downstairs, fired up my laptop just to see the words "On FedEx truck for delivery" and stoke my excitement. What I found instead was that it was delayed another day. DAMN!

My hope which had been up, were down. I resigned to the couch for the day knowing there was no reason to get up. Today however, it's on the truck and en route to my house as I type. At any minute I might have to spring up, sign the electronic clipboard and set up the new machine. If I can remember, I'll time how long it takes to go from sitting on the floor in the box to up and running. Hmm, maybe I should start clearing off the desk.

Is Society Losing Me?

I have begun riding my bike to work on any day that doesn't call for rain. 'Round here, that may not include many days even once we get into the dog days of summer. Thursday when I got home from work (on my bike), I sat out on the porch reading Bicycling magazine and watching the traffic go by.

The articles in this month's issue seem to center around bike commuting and talked about which U.S. cities are the most bike-friendly, where in the world people bike the most, etc. I found myself drawn more and more into my dream place of being able to ride my bike in place of driving.

Since the Puritans who originally "built" the roads around here didn't consider traffic, bike-friendliness, pollution or the rising costs of gasoline 400 years into the future, our roads are far from ideal for bike commuting. However, with a little creativity one can find alternative, scenic routes to most places. As you know, I found a route to work that sidesteps the old GE Plastics warehouse and instead passes through a city park on a dirt road.

Then, between paragraphs I started watching the traffic, looking for a pattern. Mind you this is far from scientific, but here are my observations:

95% of vehicles contained only a driver.
Of the remaining 5%, three quarters contained a driver and one passenger while the remaining quarter contained a driver and 3 passengers (there were no driver + 2 passenger vehicles).
That means for every 100 vehicles there were about 107 people moving from Point A to Point B. I bet it's also safe to assume that Point A and Point B were less than 10 miles apart.

I didn't go so far as to categorize the types of vehicles and cross-correlate that data with the number of passengers, this was really just an observational exercise. What I did notice was that there were very few small vehicles and none of the largest contained more than a driver. The sole 4-person vehicle was an oldmanmobile with what I can assume was his wife and another elderly couple. They broke the mold, but were also survivors of The Great Depression.

So where the hell am I going with all of this? With a slight change to my commuting bicycle I could be prepared for longer distances (which still are not very long) and more inclement weather. Most of the days that I don't ride to work the weather is clear at the beginning and end of the day, but it rains during the day. I don't want that road spray to ruin my pants.

Enter my solution, stage left...

The New Dahon Vitesse D7HG

Besides the cool looks and foldability (which I'll explain why I like it in another post), this puppy has an internal hub. For those of you who don't know what that means, it's a rear hub (the very center of the wheel) with the gears inside, so instead of having the gears and derailleur exposed to the elements (and your pants), it's all packed neatly inside. Once folded, you have...

I'm not 100% sold on this idea yet, but it's foldability means I can throw it in the car on a moment's notice, pack it in a suitcase to bring on trips, and bring it into the office when the weather is especially blustery. If I can eliminate trips up to 10 miles I think this bad boy would pay for itself in less than a year. Plus I'd be able to ride my bike more, so it's a win-win.

And while I'm waiting for the FedEx guy to show up, I thought I might put my house numbers back up. The ones that came factory installed, or at least by a previous owner, came down during the winter. Apparently Scotch tape was never meant to be a permanent outdoor fastener. Anyway, now I've got my numbers prominently displayed beneath the porch light.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Monday, April 28, 2008

That Does It!!!

Despite the moniker Old Coot, I am actually not old and not a coot. My Libran fairness gives me a world of reason and understanding that often works to my disadvantage. Alas, even I have my limits...


Yesterday morning I was startled awake by the yelping howl of the neighbor's loud ass mothafucking barking dog (LAMFB dog) at the ripe hour of 7:30AM. As usual he would continue to yelp and howl all day, but the pièce de résistance came when a car broke down in the road next door to the LAMFB dog's house.

The driver of the broken down car spent the better part of 2.5 hours in the street trying to figure out what went wrong and then what to do about it. All the while the LAMFB dog yelped and howled without so much as a pee break. I was forced to endure a suffering that tested my patience and brought me to the edge of sanity. I wanted so badly to walk over and punt the freaking thing into the back yard, but I know he's such a piece of chicken shit that as soon as my foot touched the driveway he'd run away with his tail betwixt his legs.

Loud-ass-muthafucking-piece-of-chicken-shit-ass dog.

Today I shall put the finishing touches on a letter I've been writing to LAMFPCSA dog's owners. In it, I simply point out that their dog is a nuisance, that I have been more than tolerable for a long time, that the city code specifically prohibits people from allowing their dog to yelp and howl to the detriment of the neighborhood, and informs them of the consequences of failing to comply with the city's code. It is a fine piece of diplomacy if I do say so myself. There is a firm tone, but it is entirely non-threatening.

The next step will be to call in the authorities and let them handle it. The letter is basically a warning shot.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Friday, April 25, 2008

One Helluva Day

Cooterinos and Cooteristas, I had one hell of a day. I am absolutely pooped, and not from what you're probably guessing. It all started when I played hookey from work...

People Watching for Breakfast

I had breakfast this morning with a friend of mine and we sat out in the sun drinking our coffee and watching all the people. Not too shabby.

Holy Oke!

Sorry, that heading might be a hair lame. After breakfast meant a trip out to the Holyoke mall to check out iMacs at the Apple store. I've been eyeing the iMacs for some time now, partly because I'm somewhat of a sucker for cool looking electronics, but mostly because I am sick and tired of Windows-based computers and their penchant for suck-assery.

I originally thought I'd get a laptop again, but after marinating on it for a few days I felt that the iMac was more up my alley. It's small, as in not a big ass tower and CRT monitor, yet has more power and a bigger display than a laptop. The next question to answer was whether I needed the 20" or the 24" model. That was the real reason for going to the Apple store, to see the difference. It's a good thing I did, because the 24" jobber was way too big for what I need.

Trader Joe's is the Bomb

A drive all the way to Holyoke calls for a stop at Trader Joe's for some quality groceries. I loaded up a cooler with frozen goods, and a few more bags with the remainder of my sundries. I'll be eating like a king for weeks now. Well, a king who eats veggie burritos.

Then I Pulled the Trigger

When I got home I was absolutely whooped from spending the whole day out in the sun (minus the hour or so I was in the stores). I gathered up all of my energy, plus some Trader Joe's brownie bites, and ordered a refurbed iMac. It'll be here next week!

After the heavy day of spending I had to rassle up enough energy to run 7 miles. I had to do 10 yesterday, most of which was on trails, so my gams were beat. I'm glad I forced myself to get out there but I'm also happy to be back home.

The next question: smoothie or veggie burrito?

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


It was about 50 degrees this morning when I was riding my bike into work. I was wearing a wind breaker, but my ankles (I roll up my pants to avoid the grease tattoo) and hands were exposed and quite frosty. That's to be expected, since they're always the coldest. What I wasn't used to was my upper lip being so cold. There's nothing like a freshly shorn lip to really catch the breeze. Mustache, where are you?

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Goodbye to a Friend

Our friendship lasted only a few weeks but in that time I had really grown attached to my new friend. We spent all of our free time together, poking fun at each other, laughing, eating meals and enjoying the leftovers. Alas, the world was not ready for a relationship like ours and we have been forced to go our separate ways...

Who is this Friend?

This friend about whom I am writing is my Speed 'Stache. The ridicule at work turned from friendly laughter to outright vicious jabs. Jokes that could have been taken as just that, jokes, were followed with "but seriously, it has to go" leaving me to think that maybe people not only didn't like it, but were offended (or threatened) by it. Then there was the half hour "you'll never find a woman..." monologue this afternoon where I could only defend myself with "yeah, but no other facial hair configuration seems to be working either".

So friends, I have decided to bid the 'stache adieu and go back to the little boy clean shaven look. That is, until I go a few days without shaving and start back in on the Power 'Tee.

For those of you saddened by the loss, I'll leave you with this. The Speed 'Stache did not live up to his name. In fact, today was the nicest day of the year (or one of the nicest) and my track workout was pretty sorry. I dug deep looking for the power to push through the workout but the 'stache had his mind elsewhere and the pace slowed to a miserable glorified jog. Maybe he was already getting ready to leave, or maybe he was just not cut out for such a finely tuned athlete. Whatever the case, we won't be working or playing together anymore.

Not Leaving without a Photo Shoot

I set up my camera on my desk and fired off a few dozen shots, looking for one that would capture the 'stache's true essence. I found out that he was also a curious, caring, in-your-face kind of mustache that has simply been misunderstood.

Inquisitive Mustache

'Stache Tweak

In Yo Face! Mustache

And that's the end of that chapter (wiping hands).

Little Boy is Blue

The 'Stache Met His Maker

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I'm Getting There

A few weeks ago I told y'all out there in Readerland about the bike ride I'm doing in support of the local Multiple Sclerosis chapter. With my road running training, I haven't been able to ride yet (until this afternoon) but I am certain the ride will be a no-brainer. Things are underway...

I'm In!

I set a lofty fundraising goal for myself, above and beyond what they ask each participant to raise, and I hope to get there by the time the ride comes along. As of this morning I have met and exceeded the minimum fund raising amount, but am still a ways off from my ultimate goal of $1500.

They haven't worked out the "posting your progress on a separate website" widget yet, but if you're interested you can find my progress here. If you'd like to make a tax deductible donation to support me, you can do so right from my progress page, or by clicking right here.

As I said before, I wouldn't want anyone to contribute who doesn't want to, but I will be soliciting support until the ride just in case anyone is on the fence. And, with it being tax deductible just think that you'd not only be giving money to a good cause but you'd also not be giving money to Uncle Sam! Every little bit counts, so please consider contributing.

Since this didn't make the press yesterday, I'm cutting it short here. For the record, the bike ride was a lot harder than I expected but it was the first one of the season, it was after a 2+ hour run over a mountain (and back) and I was a little short on food yesterday.

I've made a pact with myself to ride my bike to work more often than I did last summer, which was admittedly very little. I started fresh today and it was a nice start to the morning. I still had to work out some logistics like bringing shoes to change into, remembering my badge and grabbing my lock on the way out but tomorrow should be smoother. The best part is the ride through Brattlebrook Park along the dirt road, with big wide fields on either side and mountains off in the distance. Not too shabby a way to start the day I'd say.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Tuesday Night - Pow Pow

Cooterinos, I'm hollering at you one more 'gain and let me tell you, things are looking up for The Coot. Grab a glass of milk and some cookies, plunk down in your favorite easy chair and let me spin you a yarn.

The Painting Project

It's been a long, nasty battle against the funkiness that was my spare bedroom. I've been looking at it in it's Kilz Primer White anti-splendor for so long that I didn't realize how bad it really was. What's funny is that this was the first room I touched a paintbrush to before I even closed on the house. Almost 6 years later I'm finally taking that God awful flat white(ish) room and making it into something I might enjoy looking at. And enjoy it I will.

As of tonight, I have the ceiling and walls painted, the trim scraped (it had some FUNK on it), nails from the old shoe molding pulled, holes - from where I nailed the window trim back up after replacing the windows - filled, and all of the trim primed with good oil based primer. Sherwin Williams makes some nice paint, but the shit doesn't come cheap.

Last night I got into a groove and got the trim all prepped, then started in on priming it. On the last bit I had, just one window from completion, I found I was getting sloppy. I stuck the brush in a plastic bag, covered the pail and called it a night. When I looked at the clock I realized I had been working on that room for damn near 4.5 hours. No wonder. Midnight is well past my weekday bedtime.

Tonight I finished up that last window (God bless you oil paint for not getting funky like latex), put all of the outlet covers and switch plates back on, cleaned up the primer/brush/pail and called it quits. I thought about getting into the last step - painting the trim with real paint - but decided by the time I was all cleaned up then set up for that it would be late again. It'll have to wait a few more days.

The Speed 'Stache

Tonight was Track Night, and I put the Speed 'Stache to work. I'm starting to think I can't blame donating blood anymore, but maybe the blame lies in staying up late last night and breathing paint fumes all evening. Wherever the fault should lie, I still wasn't able to run quite at the level I'd like.

This week was 4x1 Mile, meaning 4 intervals lasting 1 mile each with recovery in between. I tend to do 1/4 mile recovery because that's one lap on the track. Don't forget the warm up and cool down. Tonight ended up somewhere in the vicinity of 7.5 miles, about par for speed night.

As usual the first lap was my fastest, and as I settled into an appropriate pace I found myself fairly consistent. That was nice, but I was consistently slow.

Hmm, maybe it was the people who just had to walk 5 abreast on the track, almost forcing us off into the grass, or the gobs of other people who insisted on taking the inside lanes even though they're out there for fitness, not time. You can't get a good feel for consistency when you're constantly changing lanes. Yeah, that's my excuse. I wished there was an appropriate way to ask the people not to use the inside lanes if they're walking and talking, but it's a public track so I bit my tongue.

One of the good things I noticed tonight was that my severe long run the other day did not seem to have any ill effects on tonight. I was a bit sore at the beginning, but that faded away within a lap or two. In fact, once I got into the third interval I was in the zone.

Lastly, I usually end the final lap before my cooldown with an all out 100m kick to the finish line. Tonight I decided to take it a step further and start my kick at the 200m line. When I crossed the finish line I was huffing, puffing, and on the hairy edge of booting. If a mosquito had farted on me I would have lost my lunch, but I eventually got over it and the the post-run euphoria hit. I think 200m will be my new thing.

That's it, it's bed time. Sorry Ab, still no 'stache picture. Maybe when I finish painting the spare bedroom and take pictures of that I'll getcha something. Suffice it to say that it's killer.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Jesus, Mother of Joseph!

Yeah, I know it's supposed to be Jesus, Mary and Joseph but Jesus Mother of Joseph is funnier. Anyway, I' sitting here drinking my coffee trying to muster the energy to type and I gotta tell you, it's not easy. Allow me to egg-splain.

Hancock/Richmond 12 Miler

This morning I set out at the crack of 9:30 to meet up with some folks for the Sunday long run. When I arrived at the meeting spot it was very clear that those folks wouldn't be joining me. I waited the obligatory 10 minutes just in case, then headed out.

The route I picked started at the Hancock Shaker Village, headed west, then south through some back roads into Richmond. From there, many of the roads are dirt which this time of year feel like running on sponges. It's a nice treat to the joints to have such a soft surface and the dirt roads themselves tend to slow traffic, which is light anyway.

Oh, did I mention I had two sore knees, a snug calf and a shin threatening to splint (is that how one gets shin splints?). And my shoulders and sides were sore from painting. My plan was to head out, see if any of the above became an issue and turn back around if they were. If not, I'd push through for an easy 12 miles. Within a half mile or so everything smoothed out perfectly.

My first complaint is with the weather. Accweather still claims it'll be sunny and 50 today, but so far it's cloudy and 40. I expected to have it warm and clear up, but that never happened.

Aaaanyway, at just shy of 8 miles I was supposed to hang a left onto Dublin Rd. I'm not sure if my brain said "Hell no, it's uphill to the left. I'm going right." or what, but I went right. At this point I should be cruising in until the end on Dublin Rd. with only a slight zig zag on Sleepy Hollow Rd.

Part of the problem I would have from here on out is that they don't label both streets at intersections, so you have a 50/50 chance of finding out which street you're on and which one you're turning onto. Add in that they change names frequently and some streets don't exactly go straight through intersections and someone like me who's navigationally challed to begin with is doomed.

So there I was cruising down Dublin Rd. dreaming of the stack o' hotcakes I would soon be enjoying when I hit the end of Dublin Rd. Shit! I headed right, decided that was wrong and turned back the other way. Eventually I came upon a kindly woman who informed me that Dublin ended where we were, and that I should just head back to Rte 41 and take the non-scenic route back so I would be sure not to get lost. I agreed.

Following her directions I came across Dublin Rd again. Hmm, I pulled out my route notes and saw my error from before, turned the correct way onto Dublin and away I went. Now I'm home free, I thought to myself.

Wrong-o! I came upon another intersection and the road signs informed me that I was on Sleepy Hollow, NOT Dublin (and failed to tell me what I was crossing). Shit! Fuck it, I knew what was at the other end of Sleepy Hollow, so I went that way. Worst case I would have to stop at Bartlett's Orchard, eat a muffin and call someone for a ride.

Okay, so I was back on familiar grounds. I gambled and headed down a road named Summit Rd., which I had been on earlier in the morning, but at the other end. I knew that if I just stayed on this road I would be able to find my way back from there. Well, unless it was a different Summit Rd.

A few miles down the road I was back on Dublin (I needed a map to show me how that all worked) and heading towards the car. There were a few mirages that looked like the end of the road, but they were just there to test my willpower and inch me towards the edge of sanity. The last mile or so was up a huge hill, and at this point I was ready to be done. I was cursing like a drunken sailor at inanimate objects, saying things like "I hate that tree stump!" and "Who left that god damn shovel there?" It wasn't pretty.

As I approached the driveway I passed a sign reading "Hancock Shaker Village Parking 400 feet" and was ecstatic. I actually said "God bless you, 400 foot sign" as I passed it. As I turned into the driveway my GPS watch read 17.25 miles. If my math is correct, that's 5.25 miles further than I was supposed to go. Jeezum Crow!

The good part if there is one, is that aside from some belly grumblings at mile 14 (which I suppressed by telling my stomach that was only making things worse) I did pretty well until the last little bit. My form was good, pace was pretty much even, and my muscles held off the cramps and knots I could feel a-brewing. I tried an ice bath to help with recovery, but I was already so cold I couldn't stand it and only lasted about 15 seconds. I guess I won't be walking tomorrow.

Moral of the story, draw a map in addition to the route notes.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Please Consider Sponsoring Me

Coot fans, I'm not one to ask people for favors or solicit funds, but I think this is a worthwhile cause so I'm going to give it a go.

Multiple Sclerosis Bike and Hike the Berkshires

Later on this summer I'm going to be riding in the MS Bike and Hike the Berkshires 100 mile bike ride. They have a few different rides, but I thought the 100-miler would be the one for me.

For a while now I've been looking for a way to put my favorite activities to good use. Sometimes I help with Kid's Races, and I run a lot of charity races but this is something different. We're not talking about a $30 10K where half of the money goes to offset the cost of holding the races itself. My goal is to raise $1,500 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS). They ask each registrant to raise $250, but I am challenging myself to take it to another level.

If you're worried about where the funds go, the ride itself is paid for by the registered riders/hikers (meaning there's an entry fee separate from the donations). Every donated dollar goes to the NMSS to help pay for reseach, education and support of those who suffer with MS.

If you'd like to make a donation to help me reach my goal, and to help the NMSS reach their goals, you can do so here. Any amount you're comfortable with is appreciated. There's no pressure to donate, I'm just giving you Coot fans out there in Readerland the opportunity to contribute if you'd like.

Thanks for reading, and if you choose to make a donation thank you again.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

It's a Lazy Afternoon

Cooterinos, it's a lazy blah-zay afternoon here in Newe Englande. The weatherfolks said it would be warm, sunny and calm which means you can precisely rule out the possibility of it being any of those three. As it turns out it's cool, cloudy and windy. Check.

The Multi-Function Room is Underway

The last two weekends I successfully put off working on my spare bedroom slash yoga studio slash computer room but this past week I got down to business.

The ceiling took a few coats of sky blue, and is looking sharp. I've been to Sherwin Williams and found a few colors that I think will work well in there. I was originally thinking of a chocolate or cappuccino but then thought better of it. Yeah, they're neat colors but it would be really dark in there, so I'm going with something closer to an extra-light coffee. To the good folks at Sherwin Williams it's known as Camelback.

The new light fixture went up without too much fanfare. I gotta say, it looks a hell of a lot better than the two bulbs I used to have just hanging from wires. Prior to painting I had done most of the work and all that was left was to actually wire it up and tighten the screws. I'm still a little worried about the fact that there's 120V between the hot and return wires when the switch is off, but I have my theories (ground loop current). And really, I didn't make it any worse than it was so I'm not going to sweat it.

Mostly, my motivations right now are to get the room back to normal so I can start practicing yoga again and get the house back together. I have the contents of that room strewn all over the place, and if my house wasn't already a mess it's really a mess now.

After I finish blogging I'm gonna head out and pick up the paint. I even have a color picked out for the hallways; God bless ye, motivation!

Tender Foot

We all knew it could happen, but I thought for sure I was being careful enough not to get hurt. Well, at the moment I've got what feels like the beginning of a case of shin splints and some sort of foot ailment. My calf on that leg is tight as all get-out, so I think if I just put an effort into limbering it back up (see, I need my yoga back) I'll be back in business. I've got my weekly long run tomorrow so I'd like to be feeling good by then.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Speed 'Stache Results

Last night included a track workout at our friendly neighborhood highschool. There were tons of people there enjoying the first warm day of the season (it stayed in the 60s until somewhere in the middle of the night), including some mildly decent lookers who were probably jail bait.

Just Get to it Man!

You didn't come here to hear about the jail bait and old ladies in big ass sweaters wearing cheap knockoffs of French perfumes at the track. Ladies whose perfume was so strong that the 30MPH wind couldn't usher it away fast enough. In fact, I think I hacked up a chunk of perfume this morning.

Well, as I mentioned yesterday it was the maiden voyage (is there a masculine form of maiden?) for the Speed 'Stache in a real speed situation. I was doing 800m intervals (twice around) with one lap (400m) recovery in between. My plan had me doing 8 sets, which when you add a mile warmup and cooldown ends up being about 32 laps or ~8 miles. The speed 'stache would take care of the 800m intervals and I would have to do the recovery, warmup and cooldown laps. It seemed like a marriage made in heaven.

Well, I don't know if I was still feeling the effects of my blood letting last week or if I was dehydrated from only drinking coffee all day, or if my belly was unhappy with the peanut butter sandwich I ate right before running, or if maybe the Double-Ess just needed to blow out the pipes, as they say, but I was dogging it.

My first 400m was right on the money, but the second was way slower. The idea is to be consistent so the next set I took a little off the first lap in the hopes I would run the same pace the second. Nope, slow again. Finally I decided if I was going to be able to run the full workout I'd have to slow it down even more, which was way slower than I wanted to go. It worked though, and until I started getting full body cramps in the second-to-last set I was pretty consistent.

The steady 30MPH wind made it slow on one side, and there were some booties that were very distracting every few laps, but I managed to do 7 of the 8 prescribed sets. All in all, I can't say I was disappointed with my performance though. It was the first real track workout of the season and also the first day above 43 degrees since last fall. I actually felt like heat was a factor; how absurd is that?

Oh, but my kick (or the Speed 'Stache's kick) for the last 100m of the last interval clocked in around a 4 minute mile pace (for 100m, not a whole mile). WHAT! That shit is fast. This dude was sitting on the bleachers with his son and I'm sure all he heard was hoo, hoo, hee, hee, hee, hoo, hoo, hee, hee, hee as a handsomely mustachioed train flew by him, snapping his neck.


Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The First 48 Hours

I realize I sort of bombarded y'alls with postings on Sunday, so I'm going to take that as an opportunity to get myself motivated to blog some more. Mostly I want to update you on the Speed 'Stache.

Some Positive Feedback

As expected, there were a lot of chuckles, snickers and guffaws at my expense yesterday. Our young, non-male secretary seemed to be having the most fun with it and laughed right in my face at every opportunity. She's clearly attracted by it and is using laughter as a cover; being a married woman and all.

Another buddy of mine who goes by the pseudonym Easy-E found the picture of Cochese you see right here and doctored it up with my name (which is not shown for personal security reasons). I have made it my avatar for our work website as well as several other online profiles. Oh, my speed 'stache is bad ass.

Then, to seal the deal I walked out of a meeting this morning and one of the guys on the team looks over and says "That. Is. AWEsome. You're gonna keep it, right? That's not for April Fool's Day?" Oh, it's a keeper.

Tonight I have a track workout where I'll get to put this 'stache's speed to the test.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

One More Thing

The last few weeks I've been talking some smack at work in the realm of facial hair. For those of you who don't know me in the real world, I am follicly challenged about the face, head and ankles. If I undertake a new facial theme it takes serious dedication because any mistake takes months to undo. Well, the latest has been a real leap of faith...

Introducing the Speed 'Stache

All winter I have been sporting the A-Beard, and as the weather has been slowly showing signs of spring I've been preparing to return to the Power 'Tee. As you may recall, the Power 'Tee is just an ordinary goatee, but more powerful. What makes it so powerful? you may ask. The answer is simple: It just is.

This winter I read a little about a runner named Steve Prefontaine, watched a movie about his short but influential life (isn't that always the case?) and came to one simple conclusion: his mustache made him really fast.

All this time I've been streamlining my facial hair with the Power 'Tee, when instead of more Power what I've really needed was more Speed. So last night while I was shaving my head I took the trimmers to my face as well, and what's left is the Speed 'Stache.

"But Old Coot, aren't mustaches stupid looking?" you may ask. The answer: "Yes, they are." Your response: "Won't that mean you look stupid too?" My answer: "Yes, very much so. But I'll also be faster."

Other concerns people have had include:

Other person's concern: Dude, you're never gonna get any chicks with a stupid mustache.
My response: Which is different how?
Other person's concern: Mustaches get food and boogers caught in them.
My response: That is true. The A-Beard and Power 'Tee have the same issues, but I get by.
Other person's concern: Mustaches suck.
My response: You suck.

Of course, I don't take myself very seriously which allows me to do all sorts of Rick Dickulous (5 Brownie Points for the reference, Ab you're automatically disqualified) things and sporting a mustache is no different. The best part is that I get to laugh whole heartedly each and every time I pass a mirror, shiny car or greasy forehead. So let's see if I can rock the Speed 'Stache successfully for at least a month. And who knows, maybe I'll be recruited by a time-traveling 70's porn director or the writers of Reno 911 (is that still on?).

Until then friends, I'll just keep on keepin' on.

Oh yeah, once the folks at work get a gander at my performance enhancing mustachioed grill I'll post some pics. Until then, this puppy is only viewable in first person.

For more information about other sub-30 gentlemen sporting mustaches, please visit Glorius (sic) Mustache

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Procrastination at it's Finest

Let's see... Last weekend I was supposed to take my full three days and repaint (or paint for the first time) my spare bedroom/yoga studio/computer room. Well, I successfully managed to not do that. Fast forward to this weekend and I got so far as to take everything off the walls, patch any holes or spots that needed filling, cleaned the cobwebs and spider nests out of the corners, and rendered the room utterly useless. Now I'm rationalizing not working on it for another day.

Drive By

One day last week some dickless pieces of shit shot my house up with a paintball gun. Considering I keep to myself and pretty much keep my karma account in the black, I have to think these were some dumb ass kids with nothing better to do and not someone with a beef against me personally. Either way, I have to clean the shit up and it's annoying.

The dickless pieces of shit were clearly aiming for my windows because there are two straddling one window, one that hit the frame of a window and the fourth hit my storm door, mashing paintball shit all in the screen. Those fuckers better not let me catch them doing it again. I think I'll put some rocks on the front porch just in case.

January in March

Here we are at the end of March and we got a snowfall the other day to make it feel like January. I went xc skiing for what I think will be the last time this season and the conditions were as perfect as the guy at the ski place said they would be.

They hadn't groomed all of the trails, so we ventured off into the wooded trails sans guide. It wasn't long before we were completely lost and I was getting tired. We came out of the woods into a clearing and took a long, carefree, ride down the virgin tree-lined driveway. At the end of the driveway was a sign reading "End of Marked Trails". Damn, we had to go all the way back to the top and try another way.

Well, by the time we made it back to the Visitor's Center we had covered 7.2 miles of trails and I was dogged. My arms felt the worst from having to push up the hills and push to slow down the hills. I was wicked tired and could have eaten a horse.

The Group Run that Wasn't

After skiing I went home, had a light supper and passed the hell out. Hours later I awoke, realized I had never turned my phone back on after skiing (there's no service out there so it kills your battery) and there were several messages from people asking what the run was for the next day. Somehow I have become the Sunday Long Run leader, which is not my intent.

In case anyone else is interested I post my Sunday long runs on our group's running site, and while it is nice to have company, if nobody shows up that's fine too. Being out on back roads in the sunshine is a nice place to get lost in your own head and do some personal reflection. If people do show up, it's nice to have company to while away the miles. It's a win-win situation, really.

Last night I saw that people really wanted to know what my plan was, so I stopped what I was doing, planned out a route, posted it, texted the people who had called to let them know, then resumed my evening's chores.

A little background information: Planning a route is not just about having the right number of miles. We need a convenient place to meet, ample parking, a route on non-major roads, relatively small hills (since most people had run a race yesterday), scenery, familiarity, shelter from the wind and a convenient breakfast place in case we decide to grab something to eat afterwards. Dirt roads are nice, but not if they're gonna be icy or muddy so temperature and recent weather are both important too. It's no small task to put all of that together.

Then this morning all but two of the vast herd of runners decided to do something else. Well, it was their loss. Our route was great and personally I had a great time. The sun was shining, the traffic was non-existent and the conversation was just right.

As much as it may seem like I'm complaining, I'll continue to advertise the runs and if only two or three people show, so be it.

Just... Can't... Paint

All I have to do tonight is put one coat of paint on the ceiling in my spare bedroom. One coat, that's it. It's a rectangle too, so I don't have all sorts of wacky angles to deal with. But for some reason I just can't get motivated. GAH!

Maybe after dinner...

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Blood Letting

Since my last post, there hasn't been a whole lot going on but I'll fill ya in on what excitement there has been. Fasten your seatbelts, it's about to get rowdy-rowdy in heruh.

Set Back by a Pint

Monday evening I went in for my bi-monthly ritual blood-letting. They re-confirmed that I have not since 1977 been given money to live in Europe (for time adding up to 3 months) with anyone infected with Tuberculosis as a result of living in Africa, sharing needles for drugs not prescribed by a doctor while receiving a tattoo and/or body piercing.

The three people ahead of me in line were sent packing, so I started to worry. I could tell when I came in that they had low iron, but who am I to tell someone not to donate? As it turned out my iron was perfect, and if my lifestyle is only good for one thing, that one thing is giving my blood to others.

As usual, the nurses on staff were tired when I got there. Now don't get me wrong, they were professional, friendly, accurate and efficient. On paper this was the A-Team of blood-letters. But I could tell they were not in the mood for small talk after a full day of agreeing with people about the weather, how busy they were that day, how good those cookies smell (the Otis Spunkmeyer fresh made joints), how hard it must be to resist them, and so on. Nope, these ladies (yeah, they were all women) got to business without the chit-chat.

My one complaint is that they had the newbie "take me down", meaning get the test samples, crimp the tubes, remove the needle and so on. While she was a little shaky on the order of operations what I found the most unnerving was the way she wiggled the needle around during the whole process. I thought for sure it was going to bust out of my arm sideways spraying blood everywhere and leaving them no choice but to burn the building down and amputate my right arm on the spot. Fortunately I made it out alright, had my snacks and went about my business.

Oops, This is the Setback

Okay, so that wasn't the part about being set back. Last night I headed out to do my hill repeats (that means run up and down a hill 8-10 times) and the first thing I noticed was that I had NO OOMPH in my body. A side effect of donating blood is that it reduces the ability of the remaining blood to deliver oxygen. If you've ever run any distance, you probably understand the importance of oxygen.

So there I was running up the hill for the first time, about half the effort that I usually put forth and my legs just wouldn't respond. My breathing was LABORED and my heart rate was approaching 100%. It was a strange feeling to know in my head that I could go faster, but my legs would not do what my head was telling them to do. If I really pushed it just got worse until I felt like I would puke at the top of the hill.

Okay, I realize this post is about a week old and rotting in my Draft Box, so I'l end it here and start another for today.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Don't Get Your Hopes Up

Alright, I've been badgered from urry urrngle about blogging but that's not why I'm writing. I just watched a Woody Allen movie and I'm all tensed up and thought this would be a nice way to unwind.

Editor's Note: The Old Coot gets into some shit here, so if you don't like foul language or hearing the truth about stuff, please point your web browser elsewhere. The rest of you, come on in.

But For Real

A couple of weeks ago I started to get the feeling that I was losing creative control over my day-to-day life. You remember when Dave Chapelle turned down the $50M contract and fled to Africa? Well, it was a lot like that only it was free and I just stayed home.

I won't get into details, because to most people it would only come across as whining. And what does a swinging bachelor like me have to complain about anyway? I have nothing but free time, right? Right, that's the problem right there. Why shouldn't I do one more thing I don't want to do? It'll make someone else happy, and I have no real reason not to.

Yeah, well that culminated in a near breakdown. I was literally on the hairy edge, ready to snap at the next person who so much as asked me if I wanted free money. I was closing in on being late to my Thursday Night Run (which you know I love) and the guy I work for said "So you working this weekend?" (which you know I hate). I looked him right in the face and laughed at him, but he wasn't laughing. He suggested I speak to the manager about some sort of alternative compensation. You see, overtime has been squashed as part of a company-wide re-evaluation of our work-life balance, so now we have more crises and nobody wants to put in any extra effort. HEY, ASK THE SINGLE GUY! HE'S GOT NOTHING TO DO!

I told him I was in no way agreeing to ever work overtime, but I'd speak to the manager because it seemed important to him, like there was more to it than having me work a few extra days each week. I was right, there was an agenda and it wasn't necessarily for me to work any extra but rather to get the message to management that nobody wants to fucking work for free.

Then I missed my run and like the bitch I am I stayed later than everyone else (for free) and finished up something I knew would be negated by an arbitrary high-level decision first thing Monday morning.

Fast forward to Monday morning - my work was not only for naught, but I had to undo it.

Whoa, I guess I went into detail.

But That Was Weeks Ago

Yeah, so I've been spending a lot of greedy, selfish, introspective time with the most understanding person I know, no god damn body. I gotta tell ya, it's been great. I do whatever I damn well feel like doing, whenever I damn well feel like doing it, and if someone doesn't like it that's too bad. I don't accommodate!

I don't get into the eggstra juicy details on this here blogge for obvious reasons. I'm sure if we all took a step back there'd be something about ourselves we don't want published on the internet. What I will say is I have really been enjoying this break; man did I need it.

So What's New?

Well, I've started training for a half marathon in a couple of months. It's a three-month training plan that goes against every fiber in my running body. My fibers all say "Run as fast as you can, as long as you can, then criticize yourself and push harder tomorrow". But the guy who wrote this plan has me taking "easy" days - slow, slow, slow pace for short distances and only one speed work day a week.

The first few weeks were tough. Getting yourself psyched to run 4 miles (sorry, that's a short distance) in the 34 degree blowing rain is tough. If I'm going to run in the cold and wind and rain it better be for 10+ miles, dammit! But I'm sticking true to the plan and it's paying off handsomely.

The most notable feature of this new style is that I'm not sore anymore. I kind of forgot what it was like to not walk around in agony every day of my life. You get used to a certain amount of pain and just deal with it, but it turns out you can be a real runner and not have all of your muscles, tendons and joints ache every day of the week. Huh, who knew?

So You're Running Less? Then What?

Well, with all of my extra free time I've been practicing yoga. I'll wait while you laugh.

Yeah, so on top of all the other non-masculine things I do why play the y-card? Because I'm freaking selfish, remember? If you haven't tried yoga, and I don't mean take a class because some chick you like is going, but actually tried, you should. It just makes you feel good.

I actually get up early and spend some time with a few sequences that uplift me for the day. It's easy to keep going once you've started too, because at the end is not a big chocolate cake you're dying to eat but on the contrary, work.

And then after one of those weak 3-milers on my schedule I take an hour or so (no clocks, that's my rule) and go through some poses. After that a nice 9:00 PM supper, brush my teeth and hit the hay. All that leaves no time for blogging.

So there you have it home bizzles and home grizzles. I have a few unposted rants, but I think this one will make it through editing and publication.

P.S. Oh man, I finished up my taxes today and it feels great. I'm so lazy about that, but now that it's done I just have to sit back and wait for the cash to roll back in. Oh, and by finish I mean I still have to e-file but that's Monday after I print out all 283 forms for my records.

Now for bed, I have to run in the morning!

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wednesday Rant Day

For those of you who aren't lucky enough to live here in New England, let me tell you about the weather we've been having. February is after all, the most depressingly cold and wintry month of the year. Well, not this year. We had a string of two days below freezing this week, culminating in one of the finer snowfalls I've seen in a while. Of course, I was out running in said snow storm because that's why God gives them to us, just like thunderstorms.

That Soft White Blanket

Well, after my run last night (which was fantastic), I tried out some yoga moves on my new mat, bullshat on the computer for a little while, had some supper, and retired to bed. Throughout the night I could hear the sweet tinkle-tinkle of Snow Day-causing snow bombarding my bedroom windows.

This morning I awoke to an NPR money-grab and hoped they'd pause to at least tell us that the schools were closed. They did not. I'm not in school, but if they're closed I consider work closed for me. By the time I was up and moving, it was clear that at least my road was perfectly fine so I got dressed, had breakfast and headed out to shovel the driveway.

At some point during the morning, the sweet tinkle-tinkle of the snow turned into the not-so-sweet tinkle-tinkle of rain. By the time I got out to shovel it was raining pretty good, and the snow was far from light and fluffy. The end of the driveway where the plow puts it's mess was truly back-breaking.

As it turned out, the schools were closed today but there's no way I'm wasting my vacation to sit at home for a Rain Day.

Speaking of Running

Yesterday afternoon I received several pleas to plan a run. I weighed the various needs of the people pleading for a run, and posted the resulting activity on our group message board. The plan was simple: meet at a specific place at a specific time, and we'd determine the route based on how good everyone felt.

Well, I headed out 20 minutes early to run to the meeting spot. As I arrived at the predetermined location (3 minutes late, but 7 minutes before the standard 10-minute grace period ended) I saw one car and no lights on in the house. I rang the doorbell anyway, thinking maybe they were in there and just about to leave. The single set of footprints leading away from the house convinced me that the occupant had already left. Hmmm.

With 5 minutes to spare, I wrote the name of the road I'd be running on the windshield of the car and waited in the cold wintry snow. After the 10 minute grace period was up, I left and proceeded to do my own run at my own pace, lost in my own thoughts. I never did see anyone else, but I'm sure they were out there somewhere.

When I got home, there were two messages on my voicemail asking where I was. They didn't know how they could have missed me and claimed that they even went by my house (but I noticed they left no footprints), noting that it looked dark. Since the reason they "missed" me was that they didn't bother to wait (which was very obvious to me), I didn't feel it was all that important that I return the calls. Those calls would be followed by concerned "I just want to make sure you're home alright" calls, which went unanswered because I was busy with my yoga/IM bullshitting.

I wouldn't say I was pissed, because I can even imagine the conversation that led up to me getting left behind. They probably thought "oh, we'll just head towards his house and meet up where we meet up", not thinking that there were many different routes I could have taken and I could have been on foot or in the car. Hell, I could have been coming from the complete opposite direction if I had to run errands on my way. And as it turned out, I was perfectly content running by myself. I just would rather not have to make plans for everyone else only to have them not wait for me.


Well Cooterinos, I think tonight is going to be another bike roller night, followed by some yoga. It's either going to be rainy or icy out, with neither being preferred.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Friday, February 08, 2008

Training Isn't Just for Training's Sake

Cooterinos, every once in a while a person says to hisself "Why am I doing all of this? What am I preparing for?" I found myself saying those very things and decided to do something about it...

Ha Ha, Tricked You Into Reading About Running

I convinced four of my running compatriots to join me in this year's Boston's Run to Remember, a combination 5 mile and half marathon race. Since Boston is a long way to drive for a 5 mile race, we opted for the latter. So this May 25th we'll be racing our way through the streets of Boston in the hopes of setting that coveted Personal Best.

Before you ask how far of a Half Marathon it is, I'll save you the embarassment. A Marathon is 26.2 miles no matter where it's run. There are not longer ones or shorter ones, they're all the same length. If a race director wants to run a 28 mile race, he'll call it a 28-miler. From there, simple math tells us that a Half Marathon is 13.1 miles.

Now that I have a goal race in mind, I can begin the training process properly. I plan on using a time tested training plan partly for the motivation of it and partly because I've never properly trained before and I thought it would be a nice experiment.

So Whatcha Shootin' Fer?

I knew you'd want to know what my goal time is, so I'm offering a preliminary goal of sub 90 minutes. That equates to a 6:51 min/mile pace, a respectable yet achievable goal. As I work my way through the 12 week program I may adjust that some but for now we'll go with 90 minutes.

As a reference, I ran the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in Arizona last year in a time of 1:40 (100 minutes) with a leg injury. I think that with a proper plan, proper stretching (I've been getting into some yoga) and a good bank of karma I should be in pretty good shape by the end of May.

Not only will this kick off the summer race season early, but it'll give me a head start on some of the local competition which might not be inclined to train in the winter. Plus, with a major race out of the way early I can feel better about riding my bike more in the summer. Oh, this plan is pure genius.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

It's Easy Like Friday Morning

Well, I started writing this post back on Wednesday and it was all about how Wednesday is Hump Day, but when your workweek ends on Thursday Wednesday is really Over-The-Hump Day. Now that it's Friday and I'm sitting in the comfort of my own "study", sipping Lady Gray tea, listening to Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk I can truly appreciate the short work week.

Double-Meat's New Development

JD, AKA Jack Bland, AKA Double-Meat Downs has traded in his Player's Club card for the life-long promise of marraige. Go Double-Meat!

Back on the Trainer

Wednesday night I set to work changing parts over on my bike so that it would be more trainer friendly. As you may recall, I bought a set of Kreitler rollers last summer to enhance my bike training. Technically, rollers are not trainers but are a separate class of training paraphernalia known simply as rollers. Back to the bike. When riding on rollers, you are forced to ride almost perfectly straight with smooth motions and for God's sake, don't even blink too hard or you'll throw off your center of gravity with grave consequences. For safety reasons, I replaced my clipless pedals (that you, ironically, clip into) with "regular" pedals you'd likely find on any normal person's bike. In the event of a catastrophic eye twitch, the non clipless pedals allow you to bail easier, reducing the pain of being slammed to the floor beneath your bike.

With that task complete, I got all set up in the doorway and began pedaling for what would be about half an hour. I forgot to wear a headband, hat or anything to catch sweat and after 32:18 my eyes were burning with toxic face sweat, forcing me to stop.

The next step is to build little platforms to sit next to the rollers so that I can easily climb on an off the bike. Currently the bike sits about 4" off the floor, leaving no room to comfortably stand over the bike. A eunuch might not have any trouble, but even that might be a stretch. Also, I'd like to be able to ride somewhere besides a hallway, with a better view than a doorway. With the platforms I could set it up in front of a window and be able to enjoy the merriment of the squirrels whilst suffering away at a steady clip of 0 MPH.

That Loud A$$ Mothafu(k!n& Barking Dog

Have I ever mentioned the owner forsaken dog that barks at everything that passes his house? I have made that dog my sworn enemy, although I know the fault truly lies with the owners who leave him outside all day long, devoid of playmates or attention whatsoever. If I wanted a dog, I would kidnap him and show him that life doesn't have to be lived trapped on the porch and blacktop combo that is his prison. The poor guy.

Well, that's all I have for today. I have been feeling pretty lax about blogging and I think the problem is epidemic. The blogs I read on the regular have all remained updateless for the last few days. I blame the seasonal blahs.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Hey folks, this weekend was a real trifecta as far as quality goes. There were good things, there were bad things, and there were ugly things...

The Good

On Friday night my running group had a private Spinning class at a local gym. For the low, low price of $2 each we got to have our asses handed to us for an hour straight. For many of us, this was our maiden voyage into the world of Spinning classes, and it proved to be quite the exciting time.

At 6:00 we were all huddled at the entrance signing waivers. Most of us are not members of that gym (or any gym for that matter) but they allowed us to come in to take this class as a special favor to the woman who set it all up. The class started at 6:00, but the general rule for our group runs is that there's always a 10 minute buffer in case someone's running late. We assumed this was true for the Spinning class, which it was not. The class was supposed to START at 6:00, but we all got there at 6:00, had to check in, change, warm up, etc. Fortunately it was a laid back crowd, so nobody minded.

As far as Spinning classes go, I can't comment on the relative quality of it since it was my first time. I can say that it was a hard 60 minutes and I was amply tired afterwards. Not too tired to sit in the sauna for 20 minutes, but pretty tired.

After the class (and subsequent sauna visit), we headed next door to Spice for dinner. They have three different eating venues with very different menus and pricing schemes. We opted for Medium Spice, which was still rather steep but the food was good and we had a good time.

On Saturday I was scheduled to usher at The Colonial Theater for a Creole Jazz Serenaders show. I wasn't sure what to expect, but with Jazz in the name it was bound to be at least tolerable. With the exception of the freezing cold job I had (standing in the unheatedest corner of the building waiting to push a button) and the freezing cold seat I had (why was cold air blowing on me the whole time?), the show was great.

They played for about 2 hours, mixing in songs that highlighted the various influences in New Orleans' music. The musicians were tight and played extremely well together. I could have used some accordion or possibly a cow-bell, but they had an upright bass, and I love me some upright bass.

The Bad

After the Spinning class and following dinner, I went home and first-things-first, plunked my ass on the couch and petted the cats. Apparently while doing so, the weight of Vinny on my legs combined with having my feet up on the arm rest caused me to hyper-extend my right knee. Yes, I hyper-extended my knee while laying on a couch, petting a cat.

Saturday I went for a run, hoping I would just run it off after a few miles but that did not happen. It didn't get any worse, but it certainly didn't get any better. I had already planned on running the Superbowl spread in miles (12 pt spread = 12 miles) on Sunday morning, but I had to bag that because of the knee. I couldn't put on or take off socks, tie my shoes, lean over or anything without major discomfort.

Damn it! First the shin splints for a week, then the cold for a week, now a freaking hyper-extended knee from laying on the damn couch! The anti-running gods are laughing at me from on high.

What I can say though, is that the core workout from Bicycling magazine has been doing wonders in keeping me positive. It involves some stretching, which seemed to help the leg (how can you stretch out something that's injured due to over-stretching?). I'll probably ease into a run tonight to test the proverbial waters, and reassume my full-blown training regimen if all goes well.

The Ugly

The Patriots sucked ass last night. End of story. Congrats to the NY Football Giants, you deserved to win that game.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...
"Something inside of me just said 'Hey, wait a minute, I want to beat him.' and I just took off." -Pre