January 2009

I’m not familiar with the St. Petersburg Times at all; their politifact site seems pretty interesting though. Assuming they’ve fairly aggregated his promises and the results, it should be a good way to track how well the new administration delivers on its early promise.

Unfortunately, life has again imitated The Onion. The Bush presidency seems to have a very high concentration of events that imitate The Onion. I wonder what that says.

Since the half marathon I signed up for is in March, I’m forced to change my working definition of “the season”. My normal view is that, if it’s too cold to run in shorts, it’s too cold to run, and that temperature for me falls somewhere in the upper 30s depending on the wind. I haven’t been a slug or anything, but I haven’t had an honest long run since just after Thanksgiving. Though short runs have been enough to keep me on track so far, I need to start with some of the longer work or I won’t be ready to go 13.1 in 69 days.

So today, to really get into the groove, I visited the hill that makes me reconsider the wisdom of running every time I climb it. Temperature was 36 or 37, windchill was damn cold. Here’s today’s course:

It looks innocent enough, but hit the full screen button, turn on “show elevation” and look around mile 4. That hill pretty much always begins at approximately (end of long run – 3 miles) for me. If I’ve been working as hard as I ought to, that means I’m cooked by the time I hit (end of long run – 2 miles). I suspect that visiting this hill regularly over the next 9 weeks will serve as good preparation for how I expect to feel around mile 11 of the race.

Today’s run: 7.22 miles in 1:00:43. (8:24/mile). I seem to have improved 30 – 45s per mile for this distance versus what I was doing before I backed off the long runs. The evil mile took 8:43 even with a fierce head wind, and the two following that were 8:43 and 8:52. I’m extremely happy with this run. It’s just slightly off my 10k race pace from October.

For the past week, I’ve been working with a pound of Vita’s espresso blend, from Boccato Gelato on Wilson Blvd., across from Whole Foods near Revolution Cycles. My verdict is mixed. It’s the same stuff they serve in their shop, and I’ve never had a bad shot there. And the beans were certainly fresh. On my equipment, though, I find that it’s very tweaky. One shot will be fantastic and the next will be bitter. It seems to be “wet,” for lack of a better descriptor. It’s clumpy, and minor inconsistencies in grind, dose and distribution are punished severely. On the whole, it’s a fantastic blend when it works for me. It’s not in the same league as the Toscano or the Life Saver, though, because I’ve pulled a half dozen sinkers out of this bag. That’s simply not a concern with either of those once I calibrate the grinder. There were even a couple shots that were completely unsuitable for consumption in a latte. Still, the good shots were good enough that I’ll definitely try it again and post if my results improve.

9 Muslim passengers were kicked off an AirTran flight because of a suspicious remark that turned out not to be suspicious at all. While that’s almost understandable, maybe, with no further information, the rest of the story really flabbergasted me. They were kicked off for discussing what portion of the plane was safest in the event of a crash. I don’t know about others, but I’ve certainly had that same conversation on more than one airplane myself over the years. Though google doesn’t turn it up for me now, I remember a movie in the mid-90s where two characters discussed just that; ever since, it’s been a semi-common topic with the flying public. I guess if you’re brown and/or wear a head scarf, you’d best not be nervous about flying.

The purpose of your books is to instruct people on how to wire their homes. The books contain instructions that could lead to electrocution. FAIL. Given the amount of time it takes to publish a book, you’d think this sort of error would be caught, particularly when it’s so fundamental to the book’s purpose.