Friday, December 31, 2010



The word is so new that my spell checker flags it.  I heard about it on the radio yesterday.  They're chemicals that upset your metabolism and tend to make you fat.  (The Wiki definition has a lot more big words in it--look it up.)  The first reference to the word I can find is Sept. 2009. 

Leave it to our society to come up with yet another scientific thing to study.  Carcinogens cause cancer.  Obesogens cause obesity.  Seems like we can't get away with anything lately. 

Well, I found the timing of such a report interesting--given that my kitchen is literally full of what I'd call obesogens--chocolate covered cherries, peanut brittle, cookies, .....

Time for some New Year's Exercizogens. (Yeah--spell checker got that one too.  Probably because I just made it up.)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Some of my favorite cookies!

Oatmeal Date Cookies

3 cups quick oatmeal
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup brown sugar   
1 cup shortening

Mix as for pastry - moisten with 1/3 cup water, 1 teaspoon soda stirred in, soft enough to roll..

Roll them out fairly thin and use a cookie cutter to cut circles.  (Or get more efficient and get a hexagonal cookie cutter)


Chopped dates,  a bit of sugar, mixed with a little water to soften.   Sometimes add a little lemon juice for a zippier flavor.   Heat it up on the stove.  Spread the filling into the cookies while they're still warm.  

These get even better in a day or so as they get softer.  If they last that long, that is.

Some of my favorite cookies

350 for 10 minutes

Monday, December 27, 2010

Coffee Interface?

The little box kept popping up--"New Device Found" along with it's little pop sound letting me know the computer is trying to configure something.  The only problem was that I hadn't plugged anything new into it.  "Unable to configure device"  it told me.  I hit cancel.  Again--same thing.  Cancel.  Unable.  Cancel.  
What's the deal here?
While rearranging things on my desk a few minutes earlier, I had accidentally dropped the end of my iPhone charger cable into my coffee cup.
Apparently, there's no app for that.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Life of a Race Director

From Thursday, 12 August
Dave Sheble and I have been playing phone tag for a day or so and finally hooked up this afternoon.  "How you doing Dave?"  I asked.  He laughed at me.  "You know EXACTLY how I'm doing!"

He was right.  Dave is a new race director of the new Fox Valley Marathon.  He's just over a month out from his first marathon.  And I DO know exactly how he's doing!  

He's in what I refer to the "constant motion" time of planning a race.  It's not necessarily a crazy time (Dave might disagree), but it is a time when you get up in the morning and pretty much keep going until you hit the sack about 18 hours later.  I find it REAL enjoyable.  It's about that time for me right now too.  LOTS of little projects to do, and most of them are fun.  Today was a "normal" day for me.  Boot Camp at 5:30 a.m.  Work on new maps for the Milford 30K I measured on Sunday.  Answer emails.  Order staff jackets.  Pick up kids marathon flyers and deliver them to staffer Pat Carey to distribute.  Pick up some paperwork from Gazelle.  Meet Dan Droski back at my place to loan him some coolers and stuff for his Fallsburg Marathon this weekend.  Meet withHighland Group to approve artwork for shirts, Pepsi truck backs, and Kids Marathon posters.  Work on a few things back at home for a couple hours, then go meet up with the No Surrender Running Club for a 4-mile run with some inner-city kids who are doing their first half-marathon right here at home on October 17th.  Relax and work on my newsletter that I really would like to have gotten out yesterday.  Then the lovely Francine walks in wearing (CUT TO COMMERCIAL)

We'll be at Gazelle Sports in Grand Rapids this Saturday from 10 - 1.  In-store registration discount, and lots of great merchandise to check out while you're there. 
The staff keeps copying me on stuff they're doing.  Lynne is working on getting all the volunteer groups into the mix.  George and Andy are working the Start/Finish "village" to make it even better than before.  Ann's looking for expo exhibitors & goody bag stuffers.  There's stuff going on ALL THE TIME!

Fox Valley--Now, back to Dave.  One of the cool things they're doing down there is doing a 20 mile race along with their full and half.  In fact, for those of you in the Illinois area, it's our official 20 mile training run for all of you.  Check 'em out!
Friday morning is coming.  Can't wait!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

200 And Counting

My 200th marathon was on the 24th of July  in Salt Lake City.  

Other than the heat, the altitude, the mountains, and the relentless quad-busting downhills, it was a pretty easy marathon.  (Insert that little smiley emoticon thing here.) 
What hit me as I started though, wasn't the toughness of the course.  It was the amazing journey that started at the high school track one day back in 1994, doing two miles with my Tater Kater and finding out that if I ran slowly, I could get through two miles without stopping.  It continued, through my first 10K, my first River Bank Run, and my first marathon in Chicago in October 1995.  
Running marathons has opened up the world for me.  It has taken me to every state, to every continent, to places that many people will never visit.  Marathons aren't just about running.  It's more than that.  It's the ability to set a goal, make a plan, and follow it through to completion.   
If you're training for your first marathon, you're on the way to an amazing life!  If you've done one already, you already know.  You can do ANYTHING!
20000 Miles! 

I was just updating my website at a little bit ago when I realized that sometime in June I went over 20,000 LIFETIME MILES!  WOW!  I know that some people do that in only a few years, but for a kid who grew up with asthma and didn't really start running until only about 17 years ago, I'm pretty geeked about that.  My big goal is to run the circumferenc of the earth, which is 24,902 miles.  About 3 more years I'll have that DONE! 
Don't forget to set some goals, make some plans, and SIGN UP FOR SOMETHING! 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My Short Career as a Professional Nude Model

An encore posting from 22 February 2006  Interesting day yesterday.  Went to renew my license plate and get the renewal date moved to my birthday rather than my (soon to be ex-) wife's birthday.  Decided to renew my drivers license while I was there too.  "Oh... we can't do that because your license is Arizona."  OK, in 2001 I got a speeding ticket there, but try to locate a cancelled check from 5 years ago.  Called Arizona and waited on hold for 35 minutes, only to find out I needed to call the county court where I got the ticket.  Only on hold for 10 minutes there.  Found out that it was cleared up long ago and they just needed to notify the state people.  Still, I have to send $10 to Arizona to fix the problem.  Pretty cheap.
So, a couple hours later I get a call--from an Arizona area code!  What now?  It was Michelle Donati from Rose & Allyn Public Relations.  She had also just sent me an e-mail, which I pulled up and read while we were talking.  Seems they're doing an ad campaign and wanted to use a picture from my website.  Yes, you guessed it--the picture of me naked at the South Pole!
Excerpt from Michelle's e-mail:
"Our intern, Haley, stumbled across your website late
last week and our boss is interested in using one of
your photographs for an upcoming company

We are willing to monetarily compensate/sponsor you
for permission to use this image.

We will show you the final ad before it goes to print
and will send you the published ad once complete.

We've looked for stock photos that convey the same
 but unfortunately, we didn't find any that
worked as well.

The clincher is...our boss is a procrastinator and our
ad is due tomorrow (Wednesday, February 22) we'd

need your permission by then. I can overnight you a
check or money order.

I assure you that this is real and that we're a legit
"Just what the hell kind of message are you trying to convey here?"  I asked her.  Seems they're targeting lobbyists or something, with the idea "There's no such thing as too much exposure." 
So, Michelle offers to pay me $250 to use my picture, and I send her the high-resolution copy I have on my computer.    You probably know I have a "Life List" in my computer.  Being a professional nude model wasn't on it.  But what the heck.
Really.  I don't make this stuff up.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My 200th Marathon?

Leave it to old friends to get you involved in stuff.  My Saturday morning started out with an 8 mile run.  I went short that morning, because at 12:30, I was off to the First Centennial Vytautas Aid Society Marathon.  Yes, the shirt said 26.2 on it.  It conveniently omitted, however, the unit of measurement.  Which was "blocks."  Now, the good news was there were four air-conditioned aid stations.  The bad news--you had to pay for your own aid.  The good news--it was beer.
The Vytautas Hall is one of the "West Side" halls in Grand Rapids.  Lithuanian Catholics for the most part.  We have quite a few halls on the West Side--several Polish halls (Kosciuszko Hall served as race HQ for the first GR Marthon back in 2004, incidentally)  One of my best friends, Mary Kamsickas, invited me to their "marathon."  "Having you there would help legitimize the event."  Maybe I'm flattered.  Maybe some people have an interesting definition of "legitimate." 
Barto Funeral Home ("See you at the End") provided sandwiches and water.  It was a good time.  Oh--and I won!  Mary was the women's winner.  And her brother John won the wheel chair division.  Not bad for a sunny July Saturday.  Hope I'm around for the Second Centenial in another 100 years.

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Stand Up" Comedy

Yeah, you know I like to drink a beer once in a while.  I met my son at HopCat the other day for lunch.  I like that place--decent beer, BIG selection, in-house brewery.

Sooner or later, you have to get rid of some of it.  At HopCat, they have some of the greatest wallpaper I've ever seen.  Pinup Girls!  I was standing there, doing my thing, as my eyes wandered over the very entertaining scenery all over the walls.

I suddenly regained my focus.  I'm not sure how long I had been done peeing by that time.  Couldn't have been more than a couple minutes.  I think.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


I went to the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit at the museum downtown the end of December.

Leonardo was one of the pivotal people in history.  He gave us art, design, many inventions that came out of his brain.  Knowledge way beyond his years. Things that may have take decades, even centuries to discover had he not done them.

In the history of the world, there are only a few people who could be considered great.  He was one.  Maybe a few Biblical guys.  Sir Isaac Newton.  Galileo.  Amundsen. Hillary. Columbus. Yeah, there were a bunch of important guys who brought us discoveries, changed life as we know it, industrialized countries, advanced science.

But what of the rest of us?  Billions of people, yet only hundreds of REALLY memorable ones.  The rest of us get to live out our days in relative anonymity, going from one place to the next, being the "cogs in the wheel," so to speak.  It bothers me a little bit.

Face it.  I'm never going to make an Olympic team.  Probably not be mentioned in a history book anywhere.  The world's population keeps getting bigger, and that means every day I become a smaller and smaller proportion of it.

So what to do? I can't have a big effect on the world.  I can, however, have an effect on my little corner of it. I can help people become healthier through training and exercise.  I can help educate my grandkids. I can inspire other people through my writing.  LOTS and LOTS of good things to accomplish.

It's a rough draft, but what I'm trying to get at here is that we ALL can do positive things to make the world better.  Helping someone who needs it.  Loving someone who needs it.  Counting our own blessings and sharing them with others.

I was constantly in awe, as I read of his life, played with machines he had designed, studied his drawings.  His life and his works inspire us centuries after his death.  If we all just live as if the things we're doing will be having effects on others long after we're gone, I'm pretty sure we'll make the world a better place.

Now, for 2010

Yeah, don't be fooled.  I just finished my 2009 in review thing a couple minutes ago.  I dated it Dec 31, but it's already Ground Hog Day.
The end of 2009, I had run 38 states plus DC on my second time around the US doing marathons.  I had visited the highest points in 37 states.  And I had a collection which includes at least one beer glass from a brewery in 35 different states.  This year is about working toward completing the collections.
I started the year with a trip.  Central Michigan University, my alma mater, was playing Troy in the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Alabama on 6 January.  It was the opportunity I was looking for to get out of the cold, collect a few glasses, and go to my first ever bowl game.
The cheapest flights I could find went into Pensacola, FL.  Nice, since I didn't have a Florida beer glass yet.  After landing, I headed straight for McGuire's Irish Pub and Brewery, where I enjoyed some decent beer, hung out with a few guys watching the Orange Bowl.
Off to Mobile the next morning.  I was hoping to collect a glass from a brewery there, which, unfortunately had closed only a week before.  Alabama is proving very elusive in my quest for a microbrewery there.  Oh well.  I went across the street to HopJacks, where they had lots of good stuff on tap.  I got the lowdown on the brewery across the street while enjoying lunch along with some Sweet Georgia Brown (Atlanta Brewing Co.) and some Andy Gator (Abita Brewing in Louisiana).  I stopped on the way out to visit with a few people wearing maroon and gold, one of whom turned out to be our quarterback's father.
The "getting out of the cold" thing wasn't working well.  I had fun anyway.  Seats high up, near the 50 yard line gave me a great view of the game.  I met Chris Turner and his son before the game outside the stadium, then ran into them again on the way to my seat.  Turns out we were right beside each other.  So we enjoyed the game in the near-freezing temperatures, watching a perfectly-scripted 44-41 double-overtime win by our favorite team!  Fire Up Chips!!

I got in the car and headed for Arkansas, alternating between driving and sleeping.  By 11:00 the next day, I pulled into Bosco's Brewery on President Clinton Avenue in Little Rock. Lunch with a "Bosco's Famous Flaming Stone Beer" was just what I needed before heading a little farther west.  By about 4 that afternoon, I reached the summit of Mount Magazine, elevation 2753, and the highest spot in Arkansas.  I headed south to El Dorado, hoping to pop in on my old friend Knox White.  No answer, and the house was dark, so I guess I missed him.  A night sleeping in a bed was quite comfortable for a change, watching the National Championship game and eating a pizza before going to sleep and preparing for the next leg of the trip.
Early Friday--turns out it's only a little over an hour or so to the high point of Louisiana.  I headed south, and by about 8:00 had made the arduous climb to the summit of Driskill Mountain, elevation 535 feet.  OK, maybe not so arduous, but what the heck.  At least you have to walk a mile to the high point.  In the snow.

Back in the car, to Jackson, Mississippi, for the Mississippi Blues Marathon.  As soon as I got to the expo, I ran into a couple of friends from the Costa Rica trip last September, Kenneth Williams and John Aikin (aka Big Foot).  Spent a bit of time talking with Bill Rodgers and Dane Rauschenberg at the book signing table.  Lots of friends were there, I found, since there was another opportunity to run a marathon in Mobile on Sunday, so a lot of 50-staters were doing doubles.  I figured I'd have enough by the end of Saturday, so I didn't sign up for Mobile.

The marathon was 18 degrees at the Start.  Nice course, some of the most polite course volunteers I've ever seen, with a few butt-kicking hills in the last few miles.  A half mile from the end I saw my first dead runner on the side of the road.  Chris Brown was running the last leg of the relay.  His team was already out to where he was, along with the EMTs who were working on him.  I paused for a minute, starting to get tears in my eyes, then realizing that I was powerless to help.  I went on.

After taking my stuff to my car, I went to walk through the lobby one more time, and ran into old friend, John Dietrich.  We went out to get some late lunch before going our separate ways.
During the past three days, at least three people had told me about Southern Pecan Beer from the Lazy Magnolia in Kiln, MS.  OK, I needed a glass from Mississippi, and I needed to head south anyway.  I drove to Kiln to the brewery.  Which, I found, isn't a pub.  It's a garage on Stennis Air Force Base.  So I drove back into Kiln and went to the Jourdan River Steamer bar and had a pint of Southern Pecan and some supper while watching my 4th football game of the extra-long weekend. Oh, and a pint of Rebel Ale as well.  (I had to get the Lazy Magnolia glass through the mail a week later, but I HAD been there.)

It was a leisurely drive back to Pensacola along the Gulf Coast, on a sunny morning that was even starting to warm up a little.  I made a cursory drive around Mobile but didn't happen to intersect the marathon course anywhere, so I just went on to Pensacola and back to McGuire's for lunch.

As I turned in my rental car, the Avis attendant looked up at me when I told her the mileage on my car.  "You've driven 1500 miles?"  "Yeah, that's about right."  A short flight and a long layover in Dallas had me watching yet another football game, which ended just a minute before they called us to board the flight.  So in the first week of the 2010, I had a great time.  Collected three beer glasses.  Climbed two state high points.  Ran my 3rd Mississippi marathon.  Watched my team win a bowl game.  Came home to find the lovely Francine.  Life is good.

and the adventure continues....