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 …

Jun 21

I’d like to draw a bit of attention to my pisiform

I mentioned that I’d made some new cufflinks, and I did. Here’s the proof you’ve been waiting for.

You were waiting for this, right?

Anyway, cut the fabric, adorn the cufflink face, attach a bit of chain and add the little toggle button thing on the back. After that, take a few pictures for you, dear reader, and then wait to wear them.

And make more in the meantime. It’s t-shirt season, of course. But eventually I’ll have to go into the respectable wardrobe closet and I’ll get to try my hand at accentuating colors.

And I have some really nice material waiting for the next batch. I’ll get pocket squares and cufflinks from them. And then I’ll probably be ready for an intervention.

It’s impressive how quickly things can accumulate if you don’t pay close attention.

Like this, this got out of hand in a hurry. I thought we should talk about the book. My lovely bride co-edited a book that was published recently and we should try a little, you know, publicity. And so I recorded some of her talking about it and I can put it in some places. I decided it’d be a good idea to put it in a tweet and then tag all of the co-authors and their outlets and that was basically my entire afternoon, trying to track those people down.

A copy of the book has been sitting on our coffee table and there’s a little something for everybody there. Someone even wrote about the NCAA and mascots, after all. All of these scholars who have devoted their time to researching this organization and they have a lot to say. (There are problems. Some you’d imagine, and others that probably you haven’t yet considered.) It’s a bold and important book. And it is available to you at …

So order your copy today!

I went out for a run this evening.

I’ve been having a conversation with a friend about how evening runs can be almost meditative — and I am not a person that finds my harmonic zen in running — and so I decided to honor the idea. (Lately I’ve been doing my shuffling in the morning, where the only virtue seems to be that ‘At least that’s out of the way.’) Only, this evening, I had to do it in-between rain showers.

Some people think running in the rain is great. I am not sure why they tell me that. But it’s like anything else. If you’re passionate about it, you have to tell everyone and they have to know it’s the best thing in the world! Just try it! You’ll see! Except running in the rain is not the best thing in the world. Sorry.

So I walked out of the neighborhood and up the small little hill and dodged a few raindrops that arrived earlier than scheduled and then ran back through the neighborhood. And, before I knew it, I had two more humble little miles under my shoes.

This, of course, is nothing. I took a long break from running, as is my routine, and I’ve been slowly easing into it. Because that’s what you do now. You enjoy every ache and pain, aware that this wasn’t there two years ago, or maybe even last time. I figure I’ll try a few more runs at that distance and pace, and then a few more runs at that distance with more pace. And then I’ll marvel at how the slower pace and the faster pace really aren’t that far apart anymore. Because I’m slower now! Never to be fast again! But still moving! And after that, I’ll really start to add some miles in. Just when summer decides to really impress us.

Maybe this approach, I hope, will delay the next inevitable break from running.

It’s funny, I always see someone else riding a bike and think “Wow, look at him go!” or “What a great bike she has!” And I find myself just the tiniest bit jealous that they’re going for a ride and I’m not on my bike just then. But I never see a person running and go “Wow! I wish I had my jogging shoes on right now!”

I thought that again this evening while a guy rode past me during my run. I think he had an e-bike. I was on a bit of a downhill flat section, and feeling OK, but still a bit jealous.

Bet he wasn’t thinking, “Oh, this is fine, but I’d much rather be shuffling around on foot like that guy!”

Just wait until he sees my personalized, bespoke wrist accessories.

May 21

One more little Wonder Woman thing …

“Wonder Woman (2017) has been one of the most lucrative entries in the recent superhero film canon. With a female lead and director, it has also proven a rich text for feminist analysis. Here, the film’s engagement with questions of gender, aesthetic judgment and disability is explored through the lens of feminist geopolitics, and connected to the alignment between immorality and disfigurement in Hollywood more broadly. It is suggested that aesthetic value is used in the film as a key organizing principle for spatial and geopolitical claims. Through this analysis, the paper suggests the potential for further studies of disability, including disfigurement, in popular geopolitics.”

I’m just saying there’s a whole bunch of Wonder Woman scholarship, some of it is quite interesting.

No one that worked in pulp and ink in the 1930s and 1940s figured that work would have this kind of longevity, or inspire such devotion. How could think that? They didn’t have time to consider it. There was always the next issue to produce.

I wonder if you had some of those old authors still around, what would be the reaction to the ever-expanding things being written about their work? There’s a wide range of possibility, from ‘That was exactly the point,’ to ‘I hadn’t thought of that at all.’

And you’d know whether they meant it or not if the minor villain in the next issue was some hastily cobbled together BookWerm, or the hero or heroine just had to make a tough choice and the frazzled, frumpy, harried professor just couldn’t be saved …

Comic book writers and illustrators being among that ink-by-the-barrel class, after all.

I saw this at the end of my run this morning. If it is out-of-focus it is because I was still trying to catch my breath.

Three Zoom meetings this morning. Three all in a row. The third one sprung up in the middle of the second one. One of those sorts of days.

Later there was an impromptu hallway meeting about an earlier meeting.

Make sure they get their money’s worth on meetings, I always say.

Right after that I ran into a woman who was in the office probably for the first time since last spring. She’s due to retire soon. I asked her if she was counting the days. And what day was her last day and all of that.

Tuesday. Her last day is next Tuesday.

She’s getting the three-day weekend out of the deal, and that’s brilliant.

I asked her what she’s going to do, and what she’s going to do first. On Wednesday, she said, she won’t be doing much. But on Thursday she is babysitting the grandchildren. So her kid will let her have one whole day off before she starts her new role as a doting and omni-present grandmother.

This, I think, is why she lined this up to take the three-day weekend.

Anyway, she’s a delightful lady and always wears a great big warm smile and I’m both jealous of her Wednesday plans and sad to see she’ll be leaving. There should be a send-off, you’d think. But these days being these days, perhaps not. Perhaps that’s the way she wanted it.

Either way, terrific use of the Memorial Day weekend on her part.

I stopped to pick up some plywood this evening. It has gotten terribly expensive at the waste pile at the condo construction site near the house.

Not sure what I’ll do with these off cuts, but they’ll find some use. And that’s part of what my weekend will be, sifting through and organizing a bit of the lumber in the garage. I did this just a few weeks ago and I’ve no idea where anything is. Couldn’t draw you a mental map if you made me. “The wood? Oh, it’s over there. An extra piece, behind the good stuff … ”

So maybe I’ll return things to their previous level of disorder.

And though I am already making such ambitious Monday plans I assure you we will be in the office and also here tomorrow with … something.

May 21

It must be the shoes — but probably not

I went for a run this evening. Just a short little mile and I am trying to decide if I’m mostly out of shape or if the shoes have already died. I’ve just calculated the mileage in them and … it’s definitely me.

I was hoping it was the shoes.

Anyway, at the top of this little run there’s a pine tree. I think it’s the closest one around.

By this point I have a complicated relationship with pines. You don’t see them much here, compared to their ubiquity at home. It’s a reminder. But just this month when I was visited family I was surrounded by them again and it was … underwhelming. And then there’s all the pine lumber in the garage that I have waiting on me.

Who knew a softwood could be so hard to figure?

Stuff I’ve put on some Twitter accounts I’m running at work. It’s just Twitter, but the content is interesting.

Before my run I sat on the deck. After my run I did that some more. And then after dinner I started working on a little project this evening. I’ll show you some of the finished work in the next days. It will be quite fashion forward. So many projects, so little time to complete them all.