27 February 2012

Why Stop?



I'm back out on the road again for a short hop to Austin.  This is round two of the training I did back in September.  Two days in a fancy hotel conference center, eating too much, training with a bunch of sales people.  Last time we did this, half of Texas was on fire.  The small town of Bastrop was in the middle of a major fire that took out several hundred of thousands acres.  The roads I normally take to Austin were closed because of the fires that were sweeping across the area.  The fires were eventually put out and we've finally turned the corner on our drought with all  this recent rains.  I drove up this afternoon through the Bastrop area and it is depressing.  The whole area was is southeast of Austin in the beginning of the hill country.  Lots of forests mainly pine trees.  There is one scout camp east of Bastrop (Lost Pines) that out troop has attended for several years.  I drove through the area this afternoon and it was eery, looking like a lunar landscape.  Bare trees for miles, nothing on the ground, burned out houses/building.  I know that fires can be good, burring out a lot of dead wood and overgrowth and it is something that is a part of the cycle of growth, but still it is somewhat sad to see the damage.  Most of these trees won't grow back  for decades. 

While on the road, I try to keep an eye out for interesting sites.  Texas has over 2,500 Texas roadside markers that feature historical events; famous and infamous Texans; origins of towns, churches, and organizations; battles, skirmishes, and gunfights; and settlers, pioneers, Indians, and outlaws. Many time we are driving somewhere in Texas and pass a historical  marker sign and we sometimes wonder, What Happened There?  With this book, we can actually read  up about the marker and what it records and relive the tragedies and triumphs of Lone Star history.  It is a neat book my parents gave each of us so that we know more of the local history.   




And we are a bit closer to picking a reception spot.  Sunday we went out to see three more country club set ups.  We found the perfect spot,  very close by,  inexpensive,  well run, (we liked the general manager), except it is already booked on the day they want.  Hopefully, the kids will make their selection in the next week.  After that, the real fun begins. 

25 February 2012

To Have and To Hold

Stephen and Rebecca are back in town this weekend to check out a few more potential places for their reception.  We toured 3 venues today ranging from a could local country clubs to two places wedding places.  One is a local venue that we have driven past for years, but have never seen the inside.  It is an older style home/building that was build specifically for weddings and receptions.  This is a turn-key, hands off, write one check kind of operation.  Depending upon the package, they take care of just about everything.  All you need to do is show up (in tuxes and wedding dress, if desired).  Interesting house full of antiques and elegant decorations.  Very elegant, very romantic.   





The second was a local country club.  Nice, clean, efficient.  Nice plantation style club house with large balconies and lots of room for guests/dancing.





The third was a specialty place that was built for one reason - weddings.  It is a huge enclosed building with three distinct areas for weddings/receptions of varying sizes.  Based upon a Mexican villa architectural style, each area can hold a different number of people.  Theoretically, they could stage 3 receptions at the same time, but that would be a massive undertaking.  The smallest venue is a wine cellar vault room, with a more cozy atmosphere.  The larger rooms can hold up to 250 people with a dance floor and tiered seating.  





All of these places made us realize the kind of business opportunities available for prospective newlyweds.  Of course, none are cheap to stage and that is before you factor in the bar bill.    

Spotted this "advice" in the restroom
 Plans are to tour two more prospective sites tomorrow.

22 February 2012

Nice Beads

Mardi Gras, Carnival, Fasching.  All one big drunk fest.  Free flowing liquor, drunken debauchery, lots of partying, some amount of nudity, plenty of wild and crazy antics.

Yesterday was Fat Tuesday.  Last day to party like it's 1999. 

I've been to Mardi Gras a couple of times back in my college days many, many, many years ago.  Well before digital cameras and the internet.  It is a spectacular site to behold.  The parades are really awesome, with lots of floats and partiers and beads.  I was a freshman on the drill team when we did a parade/competition in New Orleans/Mardi Gras in 1976.  Imagine a whole crew of 19 year old freshman students descending upon the Bourbon Street.  We thought we were bad ass.  It was one wild, drunken orgy.  Nothing like wandering the narrow streets of the French Quarter with about 100,000 other drunks while holding onto to your souvenir Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane glass.  The Hurricane is a trademark drink of Pat O’Brien that is one part dark rum, one part light rum, passion fruit syrup, and lime juice - a sweet flavored elixir with a high alcohol content.  Two or more of those drinks and will definitely push you into the party animal category.  After our competition and parade, we hit the streets on Friday night.  I dimly recall hitting several different bars, a few of which turned out to have very “interesting” entertainment.  We all learned/saw something new down in the French Quarter.  Many guys got quite “lubricated” on Bourbon Street (not I, of course).  Towards the end of the evening, my old roommate Mark was pretty plowed and we had to drag/carry him back to the troop ship.   In his stupor, he fell into me which caused me to drop one of my Hurricane Glasses I had “earned” from Pat O’Brien’s.  At that point, I was not a happy camper and was going to leave his drunk butt in the gutter, but I was convinced to assist him in back to the ship.  He was definitely dragging in the morning. 





Nowadays, with all the parties & parades, it is even more of a madhouse.  The parades are a wild sight to observe.  The parade floats are highly decorated by the various krewes and they throw off beads at the crowds as they pass by.  The fancier floats belong to the older, more established krewes and, of course, those beads are more valuable.  Of course, the trick to getting beads is you have to “earn” them.  They will throw you beads (usually there is a fight for the beads) but the really nice beads are reserved for special people who show their “enthusiasm”.  With the advent of cell phone cameras and instant uploads to the internet, I am sure there are lots of pictures of the festivities and partygoers enjoying themselves.  Remember, what happens at Mardi Gras, usually winds up in the net somewhere.    






Of course, my parents are over in Louisiana this week for their annual Mardi Gras rally (been doing that for many years).  They are not up to all the nighttime hoopla and revelry, but do attend several of the daytime parades.  They always come home with several bags of beads each year from the various parades.  I've wondered about mom who always manages to bring home some really nice/large beads...

19 February 2012

Technology

I am trying to keep up, but, I swear, sometimes I feel like like I am running in last place and falling behind.

Lord help me, but I am really enjoying the crap out of my new toy (iPhone) to the max.  I can just hear Meleah sitting there going "phffft, duh".  I have been one of those techno geeks who likes the new stuff, but didn't have the money or cojones to buy into the latest trend.  Oh, sure, everyone talks about the smart phones and how they can do so much, but I have been one of those old farts, clinging to my cheap, old school, slider phone that was good for a few things (calls, texting, a few basic pictures).  I mean, what more does a person really need?  

My son got his first iPhone several years back in California.  We were out on a trip to visit with him and on an early Friday morning, he wanted to camp out in line at the Apple store in San Jose California to get the latest version of iPhone.  Since I was an early riser, I agreed to take him to the mall, but we encountered a 6-8 hour wait.  I love my son, but at that point, I told him that I was not burning my vacation so he could wait in line for the latest technological wonder.  We actually when back the next day and waiting for an early opening so he could get the iPhone (2 I think).  Nice little piece of electronic wizardry, if not expensive.  The one nice part of the phone was when we drove up to Sonoma and he used his phone to locate several wineries for us to tour.


He eventually upgraded to the next version and has normally on the leading edge of the technological trend.  I finally broke down and got an iPhone for my bride last year, since she was texting more and needed to upgrade her system.  I, was the lone hold out, keeping with my old Motorola Razor slider phone.  I didn't need all that gadgetry or bells & whistles.  I just needed a phone to call people and occasionally take a picture or perhaps a simple text message.  I have a Blackberry Curve from work that permits me to remain in contact with everyone around the world.  I even used it extensively when in Belgium/London to let everyone know what I was doing 1/2 a world away.  Despite my resistance, I kept feeling the tug to get the latest whiz-bang gadget, even if I was the hold out.  I mean, really, even my dad has a new smart phone that he seeks my advice upon.  Last week, I finally succumbed to the temptation and coughed up the dough to get a new phone.  That is so not my style, typically a penny pinching tightwad.  I finally bought into the hoopla last week and got the latest trendy gadget.  But I will have to admit, it has been cool.  I've been reorganizing my phone book and adding pictures to everyone's listing.  I have been able to view everyone's blog sites while at work and even made comments in one of my many boring meeting.  I have take several stellar pictures and one video.  Tonight, however, was the epitome.  I took a few pictures of a water main leak at my in-laws house including a short video.  I was playing my music while walking the dogs tonight.  I fixed dinner tonight with the iPhone music playing in the background while texting my spouse at the same time.  Not too long ago, I had a CD player running in the background with a few CDs of Jesse Cooke or Sting playing.  I recall years back having to queue up you music, if you were looking for something inspirational.  I used to have a drawer full of CDs and cassette tapes to listen to music.  Now, everything fits on my iPod or iPhone and I can   queue up this new contraption to rotate through all my music while multitasking.  I have to admit that this little nugget is an interesting technological innovation.  
  
Water main break

My cup runneth over

video

18 February 2012

My minute of fame

Stand back, people.  One at a time.  No need to crowd in, everybody'll get an autograph.


It's pouring down here.  Been raining since late yesterday and there have been waves of thunderstorms rolling through the area (dogs are hiding in the closet). Lots of local flooding.  Funny how just a few months ago I was commenting on how bad our drought has been.  Lots of trees lost, cracked sidewalks, rivers dried up, lakes were turning into dust bowls.  At one point, we were ~27 inches behind for the year.  A lot of "doom & gloom" projections on how this was the start of a 10 year droughts.  Somewhere after Christmas, the skies opened up and it has been raining off and on throughout January and February.  We may have missed out on a cold winter (it ain't over yet) but we are definitely making up ground on the rainfall.  The local park where I let the dogs run has a 3 acre pond adjacent to it.  Towards the latter part of the year, it had pretty much turned into a swamp where there was grass growing in the middle of it.  Several old concrete culverts were left in the middle of the pond when it was dredged out many years ago and you normally don't see them when the water is up.  During the drought, all the culverts were exposed (8 or so) with several sitting on dry land.  After the latest round of storms, the pond is almost overflowing. 
Drought?  What drought?

Many lifetimes ago, back when I was in college and still had hair, I took a road trip to Colorado.  I joined the Texas A&M Ski club (yes, we had a ski club in the middle of Texas) for a week long trip to Winter Park, Colorado in early January '79.  We left campus early Saturday morning with the intent of driving straight through to Winter Park to arrive some time on Sunday.  Forecast was for cold/icy weather but we had hoped to skirt that and make it to Colorado.  Somewhere north of Waco, the roads started to ice over and driving got dicey.  Lots of wrecks, spin outs.  First time in my life I had ever seen anyone put chains on a bus.  We limped into Fort Worth late as a stop over and were told that they were not letting us leave until the storm had passed.  There was talk about cancelling the trip (not well received).  So, basically, you have a bus load of college students stuck in the downtown bus terminal on Saturday night looking for trouble.  Interesting to note what life's like downtown on Saturday night during an ice storm.  The bus company put us up in one of the downtown hotels and we ate dinner at the local greasy spoon.  You run into lots of interesting characters on the streets downtown at night.  Eventually, the storm passed, the roads were cleared and we were able to get back on the road by Sunday afternoon to hit the slopes.  While waiting word on what to do, we roamed the bus station looking for things to do.  Of course, this was in the dark days before smart phones, laptops, iPads, WIFi, nintendos, gameboys, PDAs.  We played a lot of card games, dominoes, read books, talked.  I had my own deck of cards and I had a few lame card tricks (aspiring magician) I would show, if I had an audience.  At one point during the whole adventure, we ran across a photographer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.  He was taking lots of "life pictures" of the ice storm and how it was affecting everyone (wrecks, frozen ponds, icicles) and he took a bunch of pictures of the group.  Didn't really pay him much attention as we were too busy trying to look cool.  Much to my surprise, in the morning when we went down to the greasy spoon for breakfast, my face was plastered on the Sunday edition of the Telegram.  I became the de facto celebrity for the group.  I even got an award for "Most Photogenic".  Of course, my "girlfriend/future bride" at the time (sitting to the right) was initially identified as just "a friend" (she wasn't happy with that description).    


Card shark


Always wanted to see my face on the front page 


I thought it was kinda cool until I talked with my parents.  You see, we didn't call to let them know were stuck in downtown Fort Worth (we had gotten in late in the evening).  Since we got back on the road Sunday, I figured it was a only a minor delay and no need to worry the parental units.  What I forgot to account for was that most of my relatives lived Fort Worth/Arlington area and take the Star-Telegram.  Needless to say, mom got a lot of calls on Sunday morning.    

12 February 2012

Tempus fugit

As the old saying goes:  Time flies

We are all on a clock.  Time to get up, time to go to work, time to go home, time to fix dinner, time to walk the dogs, time spend with the family, time to go to sleep, time to repeat.  Seems like a never ending cycle.  

This one's a visit to the past.  I always find my life story is much better looking in the rear view mirror.  Back in the 80's, we were young and full of energy.  We lived in Germany and traveled all over the country when I wasn't on duty.  Every weekend, we made it a point to get away from the post and explore the countryside.  Of course, on a 2nd  Lieutenant's pay, we didn't always travel in high style, so we drove a lot and explored the local towns/villages "on the economy" as we called it.  We had a great time and I wouldn't trade it for any nights in a first class villa on the Mediterranean (OK, maybe a few nights in a nice place on the Med).  One of the places we visited was Triberg, Germany.  You know, in the Schwartzwald (Black Forest)?  Home of some the tallest waterfall in Germany, the forest trails, the old Black Forest Museum, and, oh, yeah, the world's largest Cuckoo Clock.  There are lots of shops that sell hand crafted items, but their big claim to fame is clocks.    Back before there was the Internet and you had to look up things in the library, we got wind that this was a really excellent place to visit and explore for a family or young couple. Since we were only 1.5 hours north in Stuttgart, we spent a weekend down there exploring the ares.   According to the "Let's Go Europe" website:  Triberg is the most visited destination in the Black Forest and for good reason.  The town plays host to a line of souvenir, cuckoo clock, and craft stores several hundred meters long.  Cafes, bakeries, and restaurants all display signs offering "authentic" Black Forest cake to visitors.  Make sure you taste this exquisite chocolate cake while you are there--you won't be disappointed!  

We did Triberg on our own dime.  Lots of things to see/do.  Of course, if your are going to do Triberg, you absolutely must visit one of the tourist shops like Haus der 1000 Uhren (House of 1000 Clocks).  There are a plethora of shops in Triberg that sell clocks and we visited a number of them.  After multiple trips to Triberg with family, we came away from there with a Cuckoo Clock, an Anniversary Clock and a full blown Grandfather Clock.  The Grandfather clock was a planned purchase - it breaks down into three sections that would fit into our POS Dodge Omni so that we could carry it back to our apartment and reassemble.  This clock has made the trip from our apartment in Germany to our house in Dallas and finally landed here in Houston.  The Cuckoo Clock has long since been retired, the Anniversary Clock is spinning away atop our piano and the Grandfather clock is still chiming away in our foyer.  One of my minor chores every weekend is to wind the grandfather clock.  It' a wee bit reassuring to hear it go off every 1/4 hour.
FYI - if you get one, go for an 8 day clock.  The one day clock is a PITA to wind every day.

Not bad shape for a 25+ year old clock.  

11 February 2012

Blog dump

Nothing monumental tonight.  Cleaning up my hard drive, paying bills, playing with the dogs, playing catch up on everyone's blogs.  I was posting up a few old pictures/posters I have collected over the last few months that amused me or I found interesting.  I am doing some computer housekeeping while I am waiting for all my music to download (upload) to my new iPhone (yes, Mr Tightwad finally cracked open his wallet and got an iPhone 4S).  Now I have to relearn how to dial a stupid phone.  Let's not even talk about downloading apps or my music.  Here's my first iPhone picture:


Side by side comparison of a Saint Arnolds Elissa IPA and the new Bitter Belgium at the Flying Saucer across from the AT&T store

Of course, there always has to be some dog pictures thrown in.   

Boy, are my dogs tired


And, another reason why dogs are better than cats....  




And, finally, this one's for Abby.  I spotted this at a local brew house chain called BJ's Brewery.  Their seasonal Belgium beer.  I haven't had a chance to sample it, yet, but I am sure it is an excellent batch, if not a bit artsy with some real legs or character to it....



    





10 February 2012

Dog treats

Dogs have their own personalities.  Duh.  Anyone who has had a dog for more than a week has already figured that out.  


My two very needy Golden Retrievers have unique, distinctive personalities.  Grayson, the young one (4 years) is the wild one.  He is my outgoing dog - always looking to play with other dogs.  Always up for a walk, run, wrestle.  High energy with a low key attitude.  He can be clingy at times, but he is also a couch dog.  If there isn't any food involved or the possibility of a walk, he can be found camped out on the couch/chair or perched on look out with his head propped up on the windowsill.  


Napping in the sun

Camped out in his favorite ratty old chair
Claire, the senior (8+ years) is a true Velcro Golden.  She is pretty much by my side most of the time.  She is a low key, low energy dog with a spark of a wild side.  She loves walks and running in the park, but prefers to lay around the house right in the middle of everything (she's become the speed bump in the hallway).  She is an older dog that has had a few litters, so she's been around the block once or twice.  She will play with Grayson (she starts it), but not many other dogs.  Prefers people over other dogs.  


I'm taking Claire into the shop this morning.  Time for her annual exam, bordetella vaccine, heart worm testing.  Her old Vet moved to Colorado, so we going to meet the head Vet at the clinic (I hate changing doctors - you have to rehash your history all over).  Claire is a bit on the heavy side and I want to thin her down to avoid health issues.  She will eat pretty much anything you set in front of her while Grayson is a bit more picky.  She gets regular exercise and I have both dogs on the diet dog food and try to not give her treats, but with those brown eyes, it is hard to say no.  I will probably have her thyroid checked again to make sure there is not any medical concerns.
I luv you
We do give our dogs treats.  Not many, but a few.  Anything bacon flavored is pretty much inhaled.  They prefer the rawhide chews after their morning constitutional.  Both dogs are not really big on toys.  Terri's pictures showed Lucy Pie chowing down on a Kong, but mine have not really had any interest on those kinds of toys.  Shadow (my previous Golden) was big on toys.  I had all sorts of ropes, stuffed animals, pulling toys and he loved to play tug-of-war.  I had a knotted rope toy that he would latch onto and I would try to get it away from him.  I could pull hard and he would be locked on the other end growling the entire time.  I could even pick him up off the ground still latched onto the rope.  Neither one of the two new dogs have had a serious interest with those toys.  It is one of the downsides of getting an older rescue dog - you don't know how they grew up or how they socialized. With Shadow, we had him as a puppy so all his quirks, traits, tricks and bad habits were all our fault.  Grayson & Claire are older and don't play the same way.  Some dogs live for the ball (chase, retrieve, repeat), but not these two.  Still, they each have their own quirks/endearing qualities that makes them unique.  One thing that they have in common is, like all Goldens, they shed constantly.  I cannot count how many vacuum canisters we have emptied.

07 February 2012

Busier

than a one armed paper hanger with an itch.  


I am a creature of habit.  It could be my O/C personality or maybe I prefer a consistency.  Every morning,  it is pretty much the same routine.  Wake up at 0 dark  thirty, let the dogs out, fire up the coffee pot, crank up the computer, fetch the paper, let the dogs in, check my e-mails, read the online news, catch up on all my favorite blogs, check my work e-mail/schedule, answer a dozen inquiries, walk the dogs, give them their post walk chew bones, make lunch, shut down the computer, take a shower, let the dogs out one last time, jump in the car and head off to work.   


This morning, when I logged onto my work  account to check  e-mails and get a run on the day, I saw that I had meetings scheduled from 0800 until 1700 (5:00 pm).   I like to consider myself a tolerant kind of guy,  but crikey, 9 hours of meetings????  One of this is probably a meeting on trying to explain why we weren't getting our projects done.  


To quote Steve McCroskey: Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit drinking...

Best laid plans

I had all sorts of plans in store for Sunday.  Superbowl Sunday was going to cook up some sausage, set out some dip, crack open the Affligem Noel I got for Christmas, and settle back to watch the game.  But, I'm getting ahead of myself.


Spend the afternoon touring a few potential places for a wedding/reception.  First we went to our church to scope out the venue.  They have a smaller chapel specifically designed for weddings/funerals.  Very nice, intimate chapel that can hold up to 150 people, not including the balcony.  Rebecca and Stephen were trying to find a good place to tie the knot and this looks to be a good option for their needs.  There are certain limitations (no room/facilities for a reception, no alcohol, no rose petals, no rice/birdseed) but it has a certain allure.  Next we drove out to a local wedding place located out in the sticks.  This is an old plantation home that was converted to a bed & breakfast that was reconverted to a wedding place.  Beautiful plantation home with a huge porch and balcony, lots of hardwood floors and a very nice yard/gazebo that has been set up for weddings.  One of those turnkey places that will do everything from the ceremony to the send off.  The kids were looking to this place for their reception.  Would be a nice gig if they choose to hold it there.  I think they liked the church, but they want to still explore their options for possible reception sites.  This one did look nice.   


Old school home

Outdoor ceremony (probably not a good idea in August)

Reception hall

Even comes with wedding cats
Got back later and Stephen was making plans to return his tux and head back north to Austin before kickoff.  He had mentioned that his brake light on his car had come on Saturday, so I was going to look it over before he pulled out.  Way low on brake fluid, so I topped it off hoping that was the issue.  Silly Rabbit.  I started rooting around under the car looking for the root cause for the low fluid when I spotted his brake line was cracked/leaking.  I cannot begin to tell you the words that went through my head at that point.  I can do some small automotive repairs and brakes is one I have down pretty well (I've done the brakes on his car several times), but there's no way I am letting him drive back to Austin with a leaking brake line.  So I jump in the land barge and roar off to the auto parts store at 5:00 pm (kickoff was at 5:20 pm) in search of a new brake line.  Able to score one and back home to start the repair job.  1.5 hours later, greasy, covered in brake fluid, I have the line replace and I am bleeding the brakes.  I got the brakes fixed, but the brake light was still on despite my repairs.  I looked it over and could not find what was causing the warning lights, even though the car stops on a dime.  Since junior needed to get back to Austin, I gave him momma's car to drive (big old Detroit made Cadillac) until I could have his car checked out by my repair shop.  He wasn't happy about driving the big car but, since his options were limited, there wasn't much choice.  He found out there is a slight difference between a 4 cylinder 2.2 liter Toyota engine and a V32 Northstar Cadillac engine.  He made it back to Austin in record time and I got to catch the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl.  Wasn't the way I wanted to wind up my weekend, but life has a funny way of changing your plans.  BTW - the light problem was a simple stuck electrical switch on the master cylinder.  

05 February 2012

89 and holding

I forgot to mention that my mom celebrated her 89th birthday yesterday.   We went out to dinner with her and my dad and my older brother last night.  Hard to keep up with those two.  88+ years old and they're still traveling the highways and byways of America in their trailer.  They just got back from the valley for two weeks and will be off again in another 3 or 4.  If you want to see them, you almost have to make an appointment.  


89 years young and still kicking 
Geez.  We figure the only way we'll ever get them to slow down will be to take the wheels off their trailer.   

04 February 2012

Planning ahead

It's been a long week.  The weather has been sloppy of late.  We still don't see anything that remotely resembles winter.  Temps in the high 60s, low 70s and has been raining for a few days.  It is supposed to turn colder this weekend, but we haven't really had any winter down here at all this year.  Many of the trees have already started to bud out and the Bradford Pear a few blocks over is in full bloom.  It has exploded with color and looks like a Dogwood.  It's too early and I am afraid that winter is still waiting around the corner and we are due a hard cold snap that will really mess up the trees/plants.  Even my yard has started turning greener and is full of weeds.  If this keeps up, I will have to start my fertilizer schedule a month earlier than planned.   


Speaking of plans, Stephen's in town for the weekend.  He's in a wedding today for a high school friend and all of the ensuing prep activities.  They had a rehearsal dinner last night and the ceremony is planned for this afternoon.  It is great to get to spend time with him and FDIL, even if it is only for a short time.  The plans for their upcoming wedding are starting to coalesce.  Tomorrow we are planning to check out a few potential locations for the ceremony.  One is the chapel at our old church, the other is at a plantation that specializes in wedding packages.  Nothing is set in stone, yet, but the train is starting to move forward.  They are planning on an early August wedding and we hope to have a lock on the date shortly.  Since both families and friends are in this area, it will be a local event, not like nephew #1's wedding in Puerto Rico at a seaside resort or nephew #3's wedding in East Texas at a hunting lodge.  I think this one may be a bit more domesticated, but it depends upon what the happy couple wants to to do/see.  My brother and his wife have done three of these already so they are old hands at marrying off their sons.  With only one offspring, this is our first and only time down this path and it looks to be an interesting year ahead.  I will post progress updates as they occur.     

01 February 2012

Rundown

I feel a somewhat decadent.  All these years running have taken their toll on me.  I've been pounding the pavement/trails for over 35+ years and I sometimes can feel all those miles.    


I never ran in high school (slacker) and it wasn't until I joined the corps in college that I started to run with the outfit.  No real discipline to running, the objective was to wear you down.  The Army had us running in in formation in combat boots and fatigues.  I actually started running seriously when I was stationed in Fort Knox, Kentucky in the winter of 1980.  My roommate and I were trying to lose weight and get more exercise.  He did jump rope, I did running.  He would drive his 1979 Volkswagen Diesel Rabbit over to the post gym about 5 miles away, fire up the sauna, and start jumping rope for an hour.  I never was coordinated enough to do that for any extended period of time, so, I would lace up and run across post over to the gym.  By the time I got there, we had both worked up a sweat and we jumped into the sauna for 30 minutes.  We used to pride ourselves on maxing out the temperature and time sweating in out.  We'd get out after 30 minutes, jump into a cold shower and then back into the sauna for another 10.  During that short 4 months at Ft Knox, I dropped 20 lbs under this routine.  Of course, I made some of that back when we hit the Officer's Club on Thursday night for nickle beer night.


Ever since then, I was hooked on running.  I ran while we lived in Germany.  I preferred to do it solo, not with a group.  When I left the Army and came back stateside, I would run off and on during the week, but not religiously.  I started doing 5 & 10ks on the weekends, but, when my son came along, I gave up on those for a long while.  In my old job, they had a nice workout facility with showers, but I never was a treadmill kind of guy, so I ran the country roads around the plant.  I could get in a good 3-4 mile run for lunch and still make my afternoon meetings.  My new place has the same kind of work out center and I try to knock out a good 3-4 mile run several times a week, as time allows.  I figure it is better than sitting on my assets eating a big lunch every day.         


All this running has left me sore and stiff at times.  I am old enough to expect a little soreness.  I figure, if I ran more, I wouldn't be as sore.  Besides, that's what they made Advil for.  When I have done the last few marathons, I noticed that there are massages for runners afterwards.  I have always wanted to do one, but never had the time or nerve to sign up.  I felt this was a bit self indulgent.  I have always felt I should just cowboy up and take some more Advil and sit on my heating pad.  I won a free massage at the Health Expo, and, since I have been feeling a bit sore after the half marathon, I was considering a massage.  I finally decided to check out the local place near my house on Monday.  I have done several chair massages, but never a full body, lay on the table, get beat up by some person while listening to tantric music.  I was a total newbie and I had no concept on what to expect.   I wasn't sure what I needed to do, but being an engineer, I researched it to the max and did the cost/benefit analysis.  Despite my trepidation, it had a great massage.  Spent an hour on the table with a young lady named Ashley who worked me over like she was kneading a loaf of bread.  She stretched & kneaded & and massaged the muscles in my back and neck and legs and was able to work out a lot of my soreness/stiffness.  I was highly impressed with Ashley's skill and ability - she was very adept in finding the tight spots and relieving pressure points.  To me, this was a pure luxury.  Something you do when you are on a cruise or at a resort.  They do massages for runners/athletes to work out stiff muscles and prevent injury.  I was a bit sore afterwards, but it was a good kind of pain.  


They have a wellness program where you can get weekly/monthly massages for a nominal fee.  It is not something I would have considered before for myself, but I am seriously considering it now.  I am already making plans to book a massage after next year's half marathon (if I still run it).  The question comes to mind, have you ever done a massage?