Saturday, June 28, 2008

Local Warming

We never had A/C when I was a kid … neither in Connecticut, nor when we moved to New Jersey. We had an “open the front screen door, open the back screen door, open all the windows, and hope for the best” summer cooling policy. There was one window fan we brought South with us; along with its air circulation responsibilities, it also served as a “how far will you put you finger through the hole in the screen?” benchmark.

Put your stuff away, make your bed first thing in the morning, keep the dishes out of the sink, and clean the countertops, Mom said, and we’d have comfortable summer.

She added an important corollary: “A tidy house is a cool house”

Sure, that makes sense. Who needs a lot of clutter when you’re hanging out with your friends? We should keep everything [snacks, sodas and juices] available and within easy reach.

Then, Mom took it a step further, to explain the thermodynamics behind keeping a clean house.

“Heat” she explained, “Is reflective. It bounces off flat surfaces. This is okay, when you have one big flat surface, like at the beach, bang zoom, it comes down from the sun and bounces away. But, when you have GI Joes and Hot Wheels and model airplane parts and books and stuff all lying around, that is quite a collection of tiny flat surfaces, and the Heat can bing and bang around all day, warming up the whole house.”

Substitute the word “heat” for “radar” and it sounds like my Mom discovered the nugget behind Stealth technology, i.e., y’all should minimize reflective surfaces.

However, the drive to put things away, as tidily as possible; referencing and cross-referencing (on note cards or just committing to memory), must certainly been a factor to my OCD.

That’s partly sensible

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Age-Old Question

I was lamenting to D'Wife how lax my training for the Distance Run has been this summer. I've been doing the miles and checking the pacing, but I really am having a tough time motivating myself. I was talking to Doe today and he's in the same boat. Even though he's still ticked at himself for not pushing just a little bit harder and coming in under 1:30 at Broad Street, he's not really trying hard to break 9:00 miles in September.

"What do you care, anyway?" D'Wife asked me last night, "You're old. You started slowing down a long time ago. You'll never be fast again and Doe's going to kick your butt."

As laid in bed this morning, after being woken up by the old-fashioned rumble of a cropduster, flying low over my house at 5:40AM ["Hm, I'm about 20 minutes behind schedule" - grab pillow, roll over]. Those words came back to me ... along with the "Age-Old Question"

Are you running to something, or from something?

When I dream of running ...

[Yes, I have dreams about running; biking, swimming, cycling and surfing, too ... as well as forgetting my High School locker combination; being in a meeting I have no business attending; driving up a very high and very steep bridge only to come careening down the other side like a dive-bomber; and the always entertaining levitating office chair - which can fly and hover at a considerable altittude with no means of propulsion or safety equipment of any kind (just me, in a chair, floating over the city at 5,000 feet]

When I dream of running ... I'm usually running to something, in a race situation, sometimes a triathlon. There is the finish line and, of course, a beer. There are the ones where I can't find my shoes, though. I wonder what that's about?

Cycling, generally I'm riding from something [not always bad guys or police or mountain lions or flying monkeys, but often enough]. Swimming and surfing dreams, find me hanging out in the water, not really going anywhere, until the tsunami comes, then I paddle like hell!!!

On the way home from work today, I realized that I'm running to as much as I'm running from.

I'm running to:
The future

Conversely, I'm running from:
My past

On good days, I finish closer to the "to's" than the "from's"; on the days I'm on the "from" side, I just remind myself that there's always tomorrow.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

You're IT!!!

There were no playgrounds nearby in the neighborhood I lived in as a kid in Connecticut.

No ballfields within biking distance or basketball courts either. Our front yards were proportioned perfectly for Whiffleball – the batter would stand at the front steps, the pitcher would be where the sidewalks met. Once the hostas, pachysandras, rhododendrons and azaleas got stomped, though, the game had to move to a different house. Eventually, every home had a dirt patch on either side of their walkway from eager kids chasing bad pitches.

The gathering call, however was three simple words.

“Wanna ride bikes?”

Between games, instead of games; when swinging on swingsets or doodling with sidewalk chalk got too boring or predictable [or if someone was just getting crushed in that day’s Whiffleball], “Wanna ride bikes?” was the easy out. It was what we all really wanted to do all day anyway.

This was the early 70’s. The heyday of the Schwinn StingRay, the Schwinn Krates, the Columbia Choppers. Muscle bikes. Evel Knivel and dragsters.

We would race our bikes down the block with umbrellas hooked into our sissy bars, just to “pop the ‘chute” Yeah, more than one ended up tangled in the axle.

Eventually, our races and excursions would find us on the quiet side street – Linden Avenue. Wide enough for cross town traffic, but close enough to the main thoroughfare, that it was rarely used … by cars anyway.

It was the de facto street hockey rink and touch football stadium … and bike tag arena.

I’m not even sure how bike tag started in our street. This was 25 years before internet, so we only knew the people we knew – it’s not like we read about it on a blog and decided to do it.

Bear with me as I try so very hard to go back there.

[swirly remembering flashbackish effect]

I think we were playing tag – possibly freeze tag – and someone who was not a good runner jumped on a bike, to chase the other kids down. Then, one by one, the kids who were not “IT” hopped on their bikes to get away. At first we rode up and down the sidewalk and tagged each other on the shoulder or arm. The rule then modified so that the bike tires and wheels could be used as well, which moved the play area to Linden Ave. as we chased each other around, brushing tires to each other with a subtle hum. Boys being boys, and girls being tomboys, the game escalated to a small, pedal powered demolition derby. Bikes were skidded into each other, even ghost-ridden across the street, with devastating crashes, raucous cheers and hearty laughs.

When dusk had turned to night and the streetlights came on, we put our wheels away until the next afternoon, when repairs were made from the previous night’s destruction. Handlebars were straightened, wheels were realigned, seats were raised or lowered depending on the fashion that day.

Some time after dinner, the mayhem would resume.

For whatever reason, bike tag didn’t migrate south with my brothers and I when we moved from Connecticut to New Jersey. Maybe it was because the layout of our street was different, maybe because there were more girls than boys in the new neighborhood and the age range was more spread out, but it didn’t catch on.

Perhaps a small germ of the idea did make the trip, though.

As D’Kid and I were riding around a court in a nearby development a week or so ago, making lazy circles in the cul-de-sac, she asked me something.

“Hey, Dad. Do you want to play Bike Tag?”

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

School's Out

First, some generalizations:

Runners are inflexible, and not just their calves, quads or hamstrings.
Cyclists are tinkerers, playing and tweaking; just for the hell of it sometimes
Triathletes are always looking to save a few minutes, even a few seconds.
Surfers … well, they don’t really plan very well, they just go with the flow.

During the school year, my morning schedule was based on dropping D’Kid off at BeforeCare around 7:45

5:30 Wake up
Bathroom [brush teeth, etc.]
Run [4-miles or ½ hour depending on the day]
Wake-up D’kid
Breakfast for her
[D’Wife Showers]
Morning chat for me
D’Wife makes her own lunch; I shower
[D’Wife dresses and leaves at 7:10]
Iron clothes for D’Kid and I
Make lunches
7:45 Out the door

Now, with D’Wife taking her to camp, my schedule is geared to get me to work at 8:00 or earlier, so I can leave at 4:30 to pick D’Kid UP from Camp.

As a Runner, my first reaction was “No way. I’m getting up plenty early as it is. I can’t cut anything out of my schedule, and I won’t tolerate an earlier start”
The Cyclist recommended, “Well, there are some inefficiencies in your schedule. It could stand some tightening up.”
The Triathlete observed, “If you get your shower right after the girls leave, you could leave the door open and you wouldn’t have to wait for the mirror to unfog before you shave”
“Who cares, dude, as long as you get a run in and enjoy the sunrise,” advised the Surfer.

Schizophrenic? I’m bloody quadrophenic?

So now it’s:

5:15 Wake up
Bathroom [brush teeth, etc.]
Run [4-miles or ½ hour depending on the day]
D’Wife already has D’Kid up and eating breakfast when I get back in the house, so I make lunches and iron while she showers. D’Kid finishes breakfast, takes her morning meds [asthma] and gets herself dressed.
6:45 They leave for Camp [dropoff is at 7]
Shower and dress
7:15 Out the door

Where’s the morning chat?

Well, we just started this routine this week and my AM chat partner was on BizTrav, so we haven’t worked that part out just yet.

I see some time available before 7:15.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Ride In the Woods

Two roads diverged in a wood , and me being the knucklehead dork that I am, took BOTH ... and as luck would have it, they BOTH terminated in dead ends
so I came home, only making one stop along the way

The Good News: Only one tick!!!


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