Jul 21

More phone photos to round out the week

A few raindrops on a maple leaf. I always joke — it’s more of a complaint than anything, you’ll see — that maples are nature’s first quitters. But the end of June is pushing it, even for leaves that just can’t go on anymore.

Probably it was the wind or the cicadas, which are all but gone now, but even still, that’s a disheartening sight to see before the neighborhood kids have narrowly avoided explosive amputation of their fingers on the Fourth.

I went for a run this evening and it was bad. Just my foot, calves, back And shoulder troubled me over two-and-a-half miles. Why do you ask?

When my back tightened up I decided to just lay down in the grass for a minute. It was a good idea, and it helped! The only problem was, where I was, in an empty little lot across from a park, there was no reason for passing motorists to see a guy laying in the grass.

So when a car came by I stuck my phone up in the air and took pictures. A signal, everything is fine and this is only slightly weird.

I had to take more than one picture like that before I could my back to cooperate, is my point. But, hey, that happens. The next outing will be better, because that happens too!

Just you wait and see.

Jul 21

Here are some phone photos

Here’s a little video clip I took the other day. We’d just come back from our trip, a long, long redeye flight, taken a nap and then went for a bike ride. And if you ever have the opportunity to fly, overnight, two-thirds of the way across the nation and then go for a bike ride, don’t.

The nap helped, don’t get me wrong. But it didn’t help that much.

Anyway, this was the plan. Torture ourselves on a plane and then chase each other on a hard ride.

This was one of those rides where I knew the route beforehand, and I knew where I wanted to shoot this little video, because of this curve and this sign.

Do you know how hard it is to chase someone down and how difficult it is to get into, and stay in, the right spot for a precise moment? I found this to be very difficult that day.

Anyway, I’m just cleaning some stuff off of my phone here. Last weekend, my Chick-fil-A cup was making faces at me.

The path nearest our house isn’t quite as nice as running just off the Pacific coast, but at least it had rained just before I went out for this little jog.

It was my first run in new sneakers. The blue Kinvaras have been promoted to walking-around shoes, while the old black walking-around Kinvaras have been demoted to shoes which are … just in the way. (The left heel on the black sneakers had just sort of … collapsed.) Meanwhile, I was approaching the end of the running lifespan of the blue ones, so it was time all the way around.

And these new shoes are fancy looking.

Saucony redesigns their shoes all of the time, which befuddles real runners and mystifies me, too. Not all change is good. Somewhere around Saucony 5 they just turned these things into really shoes, rather than something people wanted to run in. But now, the Kinvara 12s feel like the running shoes of old.

I wish I felt like the runner of old. Mostly I just feel … like I have new shoes.

You thought I was going to say old, didn’t you?

Jun 21

You thought we forgot the most popular weekly feature?

We never forget the weekly feature. We just move it around from time-to-time. Lot of pictures yesterday, needed some for today, and that’s how that works. The most popular weekly feature serves more needs than one. But your needs here are the most important.

So let’s get to the weekly check-in with the cats!

Phoebe’s fish play is also very important.

Throw your paws up in the air, and hold them there, ‘cos you just don’t care.

That’s how she gets off a seat after a nap. She stretches out and stays like that for a few minutes, and then she’ll push off with her back legs and twist and spin her way to the floor.

Meantime, Poseidon is spending a little quality time in the tunnel. It is currently one of the hip places to be.

Sometimes he gives us a good pose.

There are new cones on the conifer up the street. I saw it on my evening run.

Maybe I should chart their progress. It’s not like I’m running too fast through there. I’ve been told to run slower; I say you can’t be much slower. If my perambulation was any slower the flowers could stop and smell me. The sap from that cone would drip on me. The needles might catch me, and I might not make it back inside for the next series of cat photos next week.

Best not to slow down, then. Wouldn’t want to jeopardize our most popular weekly feature.

Jun 21

Just look at that print, would you?

I set out for a quick run. Well, a slow run. We’ve been having this conversation about the proper way to re-build your runs. I, like that great American Ricky Bobby, want to go fast.

Fast, of course, is a relative term.

My lovely bride has been arguing that you must re-build slowly. Something about lesser intensity building cardio to naturally run faster at that same ‘easy’ pace.

Here’s the thing, if I ran any slower I’d be walking. Runners divide all of this into zones, and my idea of Zone 3 is different than theirs. And their vision of Zone 3 would mean, by extension, that my version of Zone 1 would be mostly stationary.

Whereas I figure if I just run as fast as I can, relatively speaking of course, then I can slowly build the distance at which I can run that speed.

But you can also hurt yourself that way, and that doesn’t seem like a good plan.

So as to not rock this particular boat, and because she is correct, I decided to have a slow run.

Slow being, not relative, but just … slow.

And so it was that I left the house and walked to a place where I knew, given the running route I had in mind, would take me back to the house in a neat and tidy two miles.

Except that just before I started the slow run it began sprinkling. And after about a half of a mile it began to really, really rain. Now, I’ve got my phone in my hand and the house is just right over there. I am no longer interested in running slowly, because this is a real rain shower, but even still, if I continued on my pre-planned route I’d probably ruin my phone because it would take a few minutes more and, also, the house is just right through there. So I cut the run off and wound up at the front door after a mile.

And my shoes and socks were wet. The Yankee brought me a towel. I stopped my app on my phone and there’s no real point to this story, other than to say, that even if I am trying to run in such a way as to avoid the rain, I am still pretty slow, and unsuccessful at avoiding the rain at any speed. Of which I have none.

After I dried off and showered and dried off again, we had dinner. And then I worked on making a few more pocket squares. The cutting part was done. The hemming part was the last step. The biggest part of that involves keeping a cat out of the action.

Anyway, at the end of it all, I have seven new pocket squares to add to the overlarge collection.

Sure, you could buy them — and I have six or seven that I purchased or that were given to me as gifts. You could even get them in bulk from some online store at better prices than a brick-and-mortar operation. But this year I’ve made quite a few. It isn’t difficult, creating that bit of splashy color for the breast pocket. And, as one discovers when being crafty, making something in volume is an easy trap into which one can fall.

I have eight more to make and that’s it. I’ll be out of the pocket square making business. As it is I’ll have to create a spreadsheet to track and chart their use so I don’t neglect, say, that bright green one.

It probably should be neglected, but if you buy cloth in a batch like that, you’re going to have an extra color or two you can practice on.

I might need a warehouse to go along with that spreadsheet, too.

But the print is lovely, isn’t it? Look for it in a pocket of mine this fall.

Jun 21

Oh so colorful

As of today I can be out of the heady cufflink manufacturing game. I’ve been making my own, you see. And I had some great fabric and the bits to put all the cufflinks together. But, now, the task is complete. Just when I got into a good rhythm of producing the things I’ve run out of supplies. And happily so. Once you’ve created an efficient technique and found the material you want to highlight and cut and trimmed all the fabric and assembled the things … then you count them. And you find … a lot of cufflinks.

At least I’ll have colorful wrists. And go a long, long time before repeating any.

Here’s the last batch, then.

I counted them all, so I could note it here. But now maybe it’s enough to say it’s a lot. Making things — most any kind of widgets, really — on your own is inexpensive and brings about a certain satisfaction. And those widgets pile up in a hurry.

Which brings us to the next project, pocket squares. I have so many, of them already, but I’m going to make more.

It’s something to do.

This evening we went for a run. Also something to do. It was in the upper 70s and 90 percent humidity and I just jogged out two easy miles, but that was enough to make it look like I’d been playing in a sprinkler in the back yard.

I use two recording apps for this. I don’t know why. One says I gained 70 feet of total elevation on my two-lap neighborhood route. It always overestimates, if you ask me. (And you just did, in your head, ask me. I know.)

And the other app says I gained 21 feet of elevation. So a disparity between the two, and a not small one, within the context of a short run. This is the fun part. That second app breaks it down by miles. It says I gained zero feet on the second mile. But it recorded an elevation loss of three feet on the first mile. So where did I gain the 21 feet? Or the 24 feet, as the case may be?

We’re worried about our phones tracking us. We should be wondering about what’s tracking us correctly. (And also why we have willingly allowed such things into our lives, sure.)

The Olympic trials are underway, which means the Olympics aren’t far away — should things continue as planned at Tokyo, at any rate. All of this means we are watching people do things near and at their peak human physical capability. And some of the names we know. There was a swimmer in the pool tonight who was my lovely bride’s student last semester. Pretty neat stuff.

He finished seventh in his heat tonight. I don’t know if he’ll ultimately make the team, but he is, as you might expect, very fast.

One thing about the Olympics is that the proper speed of the racing events doesn’t really translate in the camera shots. You really have to be at the venues, and the closer the better, to really appreciate how these gifted athletes go.

Years ago I was in a pool with an Olympic swimmer. This guy was in the lane next to mine during an open lap swim and without writing sonnets about it it gets difficult to express the power and grace they have. It was a pleasure to watch from up close. He did it with the ease and the certainty in which you might open a kitchen drawer. And that was the moment I realized we overuse the phrase “swim like a fish.” That guy did, most of us don’t.

It called to mind a conversation I had with 12-time national champion swimming and diving coach David Marsh. He said “You have to admire anyone who spends hundreds of hours in the pool just to shave off a couple thousandths of a second off of their best time.” And he was right, go figure. (Marsh has also coached 49 Olympians. The man knows stuff.) I think about that comment a lot. You’re gifted, and you work at it. That’s what it is. That’s the historical formula.

And it makes me want to go for another run now …