I blame David

Running is, hands down, supposed to be one of the single best exercise for the whole body. In my experience it’s a slow death. But, having said that I endeavor to run, and it endeavors to kill me.

I don’t understand why, but I have never been much good at running. In the animal world I would not be a running type of animal. If there was an animal that knew how to operate a TV remove and order pizza, yeah, that would be me. But it annoyed me when I’d see people who looked like they should be in one of those motorized 3 wheels scooters and yet there they were pounding along the park just rubbing it in. My puzzlement at being such a sucky runner was answered when a couple of things came together and I believe I found the answer.

I saw a work-mate who was wearing the strangest, coolest, geekiest things on his feet. I know, right?

Short story, they’re called Five Fingers and they’re made by Vibram. He told me how he’d come across them and they were based on the mechianics of the human foot. Instead of locking the toes together and restricting the foot from flexing over objects, this allowed the foot to work the way it was intended. While I was enthralled, I was also skeptical. Then I came across this article and soon found others.
They all said the same thing. Running shoes are not the way we’re built to run. I had to know for myself. After a lot of reading, watching videos, and talking to others I got a pair.

I was so excited when they arrived and couldn’t wait to try them out. By the way, getting them on takes practice. The big day came and I saddled… uh… Five Fingered up. Though you can get socks made for them, many people say they don’t need them. I can’t begin to tell you how odd it felt with them on, but odd in a very cool kind of way.

Once at the park I turned my nose up at the paved bike path and let my feet run on the wild side, i.e, grass. The first mile was over in no time and I realized that instead of running heel-toe, I was landing more towards the ball of my foot. The fatigue I always feel in my thighs wasn’t there. I was using more of my calves and glutes than my thighs. By the second mile I was smiling and even laughed because although I was starting to breath harder it wasn’t the kind of gasping as deaths door I normally experience. I was experiencing running in a way I’d never known. It was almost, almost mind you, effortless.
But, as I neared the third mile I was becoming aware that something wasn’t right. I could feel the beginnings of friction on the outside edges of the balls of my feet. In true fashion I ignored it. In true fashion it got worse.

What I didn’t know, and what makes no sense AT ALL is that Vibram made these with a tiny seam right where I was feeling it. I decided to push through it. After all, how bad could it really be? Oh, about this bad. I’m pretty head strong but even I have limits and I couldn’t push past the pain anymore. I stopped and pulled them off. It was a painful lesson and I had another mile and a half of hobbling back to my car to dwell on it.
But there’s a giant difference between a set-back and defeat. I knew what I needed to do, besides heal, and that was to pick up a tried and trusted friend. This stuff saved my poor feet on many a hike and I knew it would do the same now.

It was a while before my feet were fully operational and a while longer before I felt like running again. In fact it was a long darn time.

You know how it’s so much easier to catch up on last weeks episode of 24, talk to a friend on the phone, play a video game, anything but run? Yeah, I’m the same way. But you know what happened? My friend, David, fell in love. Oh crap! Next thing you know he’s eating healthy. Mark and I are chowing down on some fine American processed food and David’s sending pictures of a plate of rabbit food he calls a snack. On top of that he’s telling me how he’s running. I was almost able to ignore it until… he tells me he’s lost six pounds. Double crap!!

Now I have to run. I can’t sit around while he gets all healthy and struts around while I feel like a bloated sack of protoplasm. So, today I bit the bullet. After work I came home, put some moleskin on my feet, donned my Five Fingers, and headed out to the park.
The plan was to run around the park, which looked like about a quarter mile from the road. If I started to find another sore spot I didn’t want to be far from the car. As it turned out there was a whole lot more park than I realized. I used the GPS tracking app on my iPhone and took off. The blue line is the actual path I ran as I was monitored from satellites orbiting the Earth. Honestly, does the coolness factor never end? As you can see I cut a corners because, lets face it, I was fricken tired!

I did over two miles which I wasn’t expecting to do, but you know what?  hehe, that’s right, no blisters. The Moleskin saved my feet.  Now if only they made Moleskin for my calf muscles. And once again my thighs are untouched by the running.

Oh sure, I’ll be hobbling tomorrow, but in my twisted logic I’ll be hobbling for all the right reasons. No blisters. Not sore thighs. And I get to give David the ‘ha ha I’m running too’ smug smile.

Thanks for stopping by and reading about my latest exploits. Think about hitting that ‘subscribe’ button so you’ll be the first to know when another adventure awaits your perusal.


The amazing iPad! … uh, not really

Unless you live under a rock, and the rock doesn’t have WiFi, you’ve heard that Apple has revealed the iPad. While I’m a Apple guy and think the way they do presentations is very good neither was enough to ‘wow’ me over the iPad. Underwhelming would be a good word to use.
It’s a giant iTouch, and that’s about it. I was thinking about some witty, tongue in cheek remarks I could make about it, but to me, the iPad is pointless to be almost inert.

For a couple of weeks select restaurants in Los Angeles are taking part in Dine L.A. It’s a promotion where trendy, expensive restaurants offer three course meals at reduced rates.
I don’t eat out much, other than fast food (a bad habit, I know), and avoid going into Los Angeles when I can help it at all costs.
Lets face it. It’s crowded, it’s expensive, and traffic is brutal. Did I mention that you’d have better luck uncovering the last resting place of the Holy Grail than finding a place to park your car.
All that having been said, the food was reeeeeeeally good. If you can take everything else in stride then the food is well worth the hurdles.

If you haven’t treated yourself to dining out recently, think about it. It’s worth it.

I’m an Apple fan, but…

It started with hushed whispers. Those grew into rumors. That sparked open speculation which built up a lot of people taking note until just a few days ago the big news in the Apple world is that they’re coming out with a tablet. Now everyone is buzzing about what it’ll do, what features, and so on.

Maybe I’m one of the few, I don’t know, but I’m trying to understand what the big deal is.

The iSlate (rumored product name) sounds, more or less, like a big, flat, iPhone. So far as I’ve read the dominate features of it are reading email and online news. I’ll toss ebooks in there too. But, so what? Anyone with a computer, laptop, netbook, iPhone can read emails and news (and ebooks).

What I’ve always liked about Macs is that they’re FAR more stable than Windows, almost never crash, rarely break down, and fill a niche. I’m scratching my head trying to figure out what niche the iSlate fills.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a avid gadget, gizmo, tech fan with the caveat they have a real purpose.  Though I may be premature in my thoughts about the iSlate, the rumors are pouring in daily if not hourly, in it’s current ‘rumored’ form it just seems redundant.

Gadgets & widgets & apps, oh my!

It was Christmas, nineteen sixty ‘cough mumble mumble’ and I was eight years old. I was in kid heaven as I ripped the wrapping paper off a box containing a Major Matt Mason space station. Not only did I not know what was waiting for me in the next box I was about to unwrap, but how it would spark a change in me for the rest of my life. I know, dramatic, right?

The next gift I opened held the first official gadget. The Major Matt Mason Space Crawler.
While it was a simple toy in most respects this thing could climb over anything, including my pet Doberman… if he didn’t keep running off. Not only was it all terrain but it had a winch.  My mind reeled with the possibilities. I had a medieval castle with battlements, knights… it was awesome! Now I had an armored machine of arcane design that could storm the castle walls and use the winch to pull down the drawbridge. I could travel back in time and wrangle dinosaurs, and more.

From that day to this I’ve been somewhat obsessed with gadgets. Not just any gadgets, or pointless things, but the ones that are truly clever and useful. About the time I was in high school gadgets took on another dimension from mechanisms to circuit boards as the first digital watches came to being. Granted, the first digital watches didn’t qualify, to me, at a real gadget, but they were the seeds of future things.

As many of you know, including everyone that would even listen to me, I’m a very happy owner of the iPhone. No, don’t go. I promise I won’t launch into the Homer Simpson type lustful drooling that comes over me whenever I start talking about it.
The iPhone represented the first ‘Smart Phone’ that really lived up to the name. It’s flexibility in uses is amazing when you consider that earlier phones made calls, had a calendar, and got emails and texts. That’s it.
Of course what makes the iPhone so wondrous is the programs you can run on it. We know them as Apps. It’s with no small pride that I can say I did not rush out and download every app I could lay hands on. Oh no, not on my magical little device. But there were apps to be had and I got them.

The thing about apps is how handy they can be and some are really clever and useful. In fact they’re like virtual gadgets. But, I wonder if this evolution of smart devices and apps is threatening the gadget.

I’m encouraged that those clever bastards at Victorianox have not thrown in the towel.

There’s also a small, but thriving, community having a love affair with the Arduino. The things people come up with that are built around this run from the painfully pointless to jaw dropping crazy cool.

And for those of you who would rather create your gadgets to walk, talk, and make you coffee in the morning, you can’t go wrong with Legos Mindstorms. It’s come a loooong way from when I was doing this stuff, and frankly, this thing rocks!

I’m all for apps, but lets keep gadgets alive and well.

Of Coelacanths and Swiss knives

Lost! No, not the weird TV show. My Victorinox pocket knife. Last month I discovered it was lost.

I’m a sentimental guy and this pocket knife had been with me for years and all over the world. So, losing it was no small thing. You may have noticed how depressed I looked, black armband of mourning, that sort thing.

The very day Karen left for home I found it. Was it a sign telling me that she’d return? Was it just ‘chance’? As for me, I blame the Car Key Gnomes.

Mark and I swung by The Big Easy. A very retro, almost Bogie like, cigar shop/club. Aside from needing better ventilation, I like the place. I think next time we’ll sit closer to the door.

Later it was pizza and Bastards. The inglorious kind. I like Brad Pitts character, but there wasn’t enough of him in the movie. There were different story lines with different tempos and switching back and forth lost the momentum for me.

It wasn’t as gory as everyone had told me it would be, but then again, I’ve seen enough zombie movies that I may not have as delicate nature as some. Which reminds me. I’ve added another link on the sidebar for those of you to explore.

After this I could pilot the space shuttle

A while back I splurged and got a

Nikon D80. This was a big departure from the Canon I had which did just about everything for me. I was looking for a camera

that would force me to be a more knowledgeable photographer and just maybe take better pictures.

When it came to becoming more knowledgeable I was thinking about taking photographs. What I didn’t anticipate was how much I’d have to learn about the

tool I’d be using.

So, learning about the D80 has been an on going experience. Every now and then I’ll take out the camera and read the tomb of instructions, or look up some of the features it can do.

Nope, this isn’t a control panel for NASA. It’s the display on the top of the camera

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the viewfinder

Now the thing is, this is one heck of an awesome camera. It can do a lot and do it very well. My skills hardly challenge what this camera is able to do. Makes me wonder why it needs me to push the shutter.

Still, tonight I read up on the custom menu, AE lock, the aperture preview, and quite a bit about all the little buttons and dials.

The interesting thing is that the front and back dials do a multitude of different functions depending on what button you’re pressing at the time.

Does this mean I’m ready to go out and conquer the photographic world? Maybe. I just have to remember what I was reading about two hours ago.

This is what happens when I get it right.

When something pays for itself the cost doesn’t hurt as much

There’s a funny thing about buyers remorse, that even after you’ve bought something months later it can still come up. What I’ve discovered, though, is that my iPhone is very capable of answering the challenge.

I recently started riding with Mark around the park/golf course. Something that I like about traveling is knowing where I’ve been, and a couple of weeks ago I discovered something that makes keeping track of that more fun and interesting.

It’s called MotionX GPS, and it’s an app that runs on the iPhone. With it you can track where you go, your speed, time, distance, and more. Everything you’d need to know is explained on their web site, but I can tell you that some of the coolest features are that you can record, save, and upload your tracks to Google Earth.

As I continue to ride I’ll be able to match my times and see my speed improve. The same things goes for running…. when ever I start that again.

I opened my track on Google Earth with no problem and it showed my path in blue. It’s a bit hard to see it in some places. There’s a gap where there’s no line only because I’d forgotten to start it up when I first started my ride.

I couldn’t do it on the bike, but it’s also got a feature to take picutres using the phones camera and geomap the photo into the track. Really amazing.

More to come but I’m heading out to breakfast. Hmmmm… maybe I’ll track that too.