Friday, May 28, 2010

Johnsen (Daily Photo 5.27.10)

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I've run twice this week in Oak Grove Cemetery, a place I rediscovered is rather an ideal place for a run. Because it's an old cemetery built when there was much more empty space to waste on corpses and rock, half of the cemetery features pleasant winding paths and rolling hills that make running outside interesting. The other half is flatter with roads at right angles, making for nice straight-shot speedwork. We've been having hotter weather lately, and the cemetery paths are mostly shaded by trees. All around are interesting monuments to hold your attention, some going back to the 1700s. Other more ostentatious wastes of good money date to Fall River's heyday in the 1800s and early-to-mid-1900s, because this is where many of the city's captains of industry tried to outdo each other in the rock department. I'm not superstitious about monuments or the people buried under them, so I like to appreciate headstones as fascinating bits of design and culture without sentimentality.

Point being, what the fuck is going on regarding Johnsen over here? It's in an area featuring mostly older, stately, classic headstones, and here's this unshaped, jagged pink rock jutting out of the ground and being kind of shiny. I didn't approach the stone to discover the specifics of who Johnsen is (I wanted to keep running), but now I'm curious. Pink is a bold choice, is all I'm saying. I'll attempt to learn more about it as I run here more often.

The 48th Parallel (Daily Photo 5.26.10)

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Apparently new for 2010, Sam Adams is selling a new variety of beer called Latitude 48. According to the label, it's an IPA "brewed with a carefully selected blend of hops from top German, English and American growing regions, all located close to the 48th Latitude within the 'hop belt' of the Northern Hemisphere. The intense hop character is balanced by a slight sweetness and full body from the malt blend."

I found it in a summer-themed variety case that happened to find its way into my cart, and then my car trunk, eventually charming its way into my refrigerator.

I usually don't pay much attention to the things that concern the swish-and-spit drink-taster crowd -- words like "mouthfeel" and "overtones" and phrases like "earthy iron notes dissolve into a distinctly sticky sandalwood and biscuit backbone with an intricate yet timid weave of steamed peas and freshly laundered linen." I drink beer because I like beer. I can tell you if I like the flavor or not, and can articulate the odd taste note or two, but beyond that is a realm of understanding that I'm OK leaving unexplored. I'm too busy drinking the beer.

Latitude 48, however, doesn't fuck around. They're not kidding about the hops. It tastes like a mouthful of flowers and tea leaves and grass. I don't mean that negatively -- the flavor is actually quite nice. What I mean is, if you're accustomed to paying only peripheral attention to your beer, as I do, the flavor is going to punch you in the mouth. And it just used that hand to re-sod the lawn. Be prepared.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stanley in front of the obelisk of Jefferson Borden (Daily Photo 5.25.10)

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Stanley and Myrna and I went for a 3-mile run through Oak Grove Cemetery. We paused at the 1-mile mark to grab some water and found ourselves in front of a monument for Jefferson Borden. I managed a lousy shot of it below. You can't see it all here, obviously, but it must be about 20 or 25 feet high -- one of the taller grave markers in the cemetery. You can tell Jefferson Borden was a powerful man in Fall River once, because he had a massive cock erected on his grave. Now he's just a skeleton in a box with a granite boner. Hi ho.

Geese and goslings (Daily Photo 5.24.10)

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The goslings that live in the parking lot of my building are growing fuzzier by the day. I've been able to check up on them every day as I leave for the afternoon, but it's only a matter of time before the adult -- whatever this is, mom or dad -- tires of my attempts to photograph its children and assaults me. Its beak is likely riddled with bacteria and cause a nasty infection. Baby geese are cute, though.

Rovensky Park (Daily Photos 5.23.10)

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We've been lucky to have great spring/summer weather the past few days. Nik and I and the dogs took a swing down Bellevue Avenue in Newport, R.I., ending up in Rovensky Park. We checked to see if Nik likes butter.
It's a beautiful spot. About a year ago, we ended up finding an amazing geocache here stuck in a tree. It's still there. Not where Stanley is sniffing -- somewhere else.

We talked about how one day we'll take our kids on these kind of day trips, and how it will be there, along the tony tree-shaded brick-paved walkways of Newport in the shadows of the mansions, that I will teach my children to have the same contempt for the super-rich and disgust for ostentatious wealth that I have.

Apple slices (Daily Photo 5.22.10)

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We bought a food dehydrator in the hope that we can use it to dry and preserve fruit and vegetables that Nik can keep as snacks. The problem with dried fruit you buy in stores is, everything's contaminated with nuts. Apparently every factory in America processes peanuts or tree nuts at some point. I'm betting even the automobile plants.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Guacamole (Daily Photo 5.21.10)

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Today I turned the above into the below. Add salt, garlic, lemon juice, paprika, dash of cayenne. Just realizing now I forgot to add the cilantro. Be right back.

Three little words: lactate threshold intervals (Daily Photo 5.20.10)

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Nik and I ran 5 miles with two 1.5-mile lactate threshold intervals. Quick running lesson, in case you're not familiar: That means I run a mile at regular speed, then 1.5 miles at a speed that's about the speed I should be racing a half-marathon. Then a half-mile regular-speed jog, then another 1.5 miles at the fast speed. Then another half-mile at regular speed. Got all that?

Nine (Daily Photo 5.19.10)

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On May 19, 2001, Nik and I drove my Toyota from our small apartment in the South End of Fall River to a spot by the waterfront, she in a lavender dress and I wearing a suit, and in front of about 27 close family members we were married. The ceremony was officiated by a little old justice of the peace named Margaret. There was no professional photographer, and the DJ at the reception was a 6-CD changer featuring a mix of jazz I burned myself. This is our song.

Window (Daily Photo 5.18.10)

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Went for a run and had to leave Stanley behind, so he decided to give me a guilt trip out one of the front windows while I was leaving.

Stanley loves running -- his natural moving pace no matter if he's indoors or out is a high-speed, full-throttle, balls-out sprint (no mean feat if you're neutered). But Nik and I have cut down his exercise the last few days because he's looking thin. When we first adopted him, he was a skeleton covered with a soft liver-and-white pelt. His little docked tail was a sequence of sharp vertebrae bare of fur at the tip, and in the front of his chest on either side of his sternum were two hollows you could fit a fist into. We keep a close eye on his weight to make sure he stays fairly even, because he's so high-energy that he can't keep weight on. This week, we noticed his ribs stuck out just a little too much, so we cut down on his running and added a smidgen of cream cheese into his diet. Most dogs would like this. Most people would like this -- "No, you stay home and sit around gaining weight." Stanley, it makes upset.

Navel (Daily Photo 5.17.10)

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It's not really a navel.

Berkley Athletic Association 5K, 2nd in her age group (Daily Photo 5.16.10)

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Ran a 5K today with Nik and mom in Berkley. After running two half-marathons about a month apart, I was eager to step down to a shorter race. Read more about what happened to me here, on my Daily Mile log.

More importantly, mom walked/ran the race in about 47 minutes and was surprised at the end to be given a medal for coming in 2nd place in her age group. It's her first medal.

Stanley in beige and brown (Daily Photo 5.15.10)

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The rare North American Stanley in his natural habitat.

Friday, May 14, 2010

First look at the iPad (Daily Photo 5.14.10)

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I've been meaning to get my filthy little hobbit-sized hands on an iPad since they've been released, because any device with the potential to revitalize the publishing industry is something I'm interested in. Only now have I gotten a free minute to hit my local Apple Store to try one.

There are loads of intelligent and discerning iPad reviews out there, so I'll only share a few thoughts starting with my conclusion: Fucking brilliant, but I don't need one.

The interface is beautiful, elegant. After a few seconds I was all over the screen like a pro. I had been expecting to need to use exaggerated finger gestures to get it to do what I wanted, but a slight glancing touch does the job. I began to wonder why computers have been tethered to mice for so long instead of interacting with our fingers directly on the screen -- it's a much more direct-brain experience. You want to click something? You reach out and touch it, as opposed to moving the mouse cursor in relative space.

I don't have an iPhone or iPod Touch, so I have no experience with apps. The iPads Nik and I tried were loaded with some fantastic ones -- predictably for us, we spent most of our time looking at iBooks (excellent) and some art history app with loads of images pre-loaded (incredible). Pictured above is Nik playing with the art app, zooming in to check out cracks in the paint and brush-strokes. The images were, unfortunately, pretty low-res JPGs but they're good enough for light study, appreciation, and research. To be honest, there are very few high-res images of classic art available online anyway. It didn't come with the awesome "Alice in Wonderland" iBook, but we did see some other illustrated young adult books that look great.

I checked out an AP news app, found some story about Regis Philbin, got bored, and moved on. When I'm not in the office, don't fucking bother me with news.

It's a pretty fantastic device as is with room to improve. We still don't need one though. Both of us have MacBook Pros that we love that do exactly we need them to do. We wouldn't use the iBooks app because we use to read books lately. But we can see how a lot of other people could benefit from having a small, easy-to-use netbook-like device.

I'm of the opinion that most regular people are in the habit of buying too much computer. The average person today only needs a machine that gives them (1) email, (2) an Internet browser, (3) some light word processing, and (4) games. That's what you get in an iPad, and that's about it. What else does the average non-nerd consumer need? Space for music? Fuck it -- stream it online. Don't bother owning music anymore -- that's so 20th century. Hell, if you have (2), just fire up Google Docs and you've got (3). It doesn't support Flash, so a lot of (4) are out, but there are tons of other game apps to keep you busy.  What -- you're upset because if you want to put an app on there you have to buy it from Apple? Suck it up. That's how life works. When's the last time you could put an Xbox-exclusive game in your Wii?  When's the last time you put your money in Citibank and tried to withdraw it from Bank of America? When's the last time you went to McDonald's and demanded a KFC Snacker?

I don't think it's for everyone, and it's not perfect, but it's gorgeous and does what it does really well. If I happen to find $500 lying around in the gutter, I'll buy one to have as a toy. Or, if anyone out there would like to give me one for free out of sheer generosity, the email is blackfonzie at gmail dot com. No spammers, please.

Colored pencils (Daily Photo 5.13.10)

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Leah lives mainly atop Nik's drawing table, occasionally venturing as far as her cabinets of art supplies.

Bedhog (Daily Photo 5.12.10)

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Myrna goes to bed early with me, around 8 pm, and sleeps until about 7 or 8 in the morning. Her day involves eating and barking at UPS, FedEx, and Postal Service personnel punctuated by naps. Like a koala bear. True fact: koala bears sleep about 22 hours of the day. Try visiting one at the zoo and you're likely to find the goddam thing sleeping instead of entertaining you with its cuddliness.

I love lamp (Daily Photo 5.11.10)

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I love lamp!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Myrna and her devil ball (Daily Photo 5.10.10)

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It's obnoxious. The devil ball. It has an ear-splitting squeak and despite Myrna's best efforts to kill it, it's still alive. I brought Myrna outside so she could share this sound with the neighbors instead of keeping it indoors.

Geese (Daily Photo 5.9.10)

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Happy Mother's Day.

They live in the parking lot at work. Kind of a shitty habitat for geese, but what can you do? Times are tight all over.

Instant chemical weirdness (Daily Photo 5.8.10)

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Nik reminds me that once upon a time you needed chemicals to produce strange photo shit like this. This just took messing around with the settings on my digital camera (purposely blowing it out, shaking the camera around) and then twisting a few dials & knobs in iPhoto afterward to nix the color. Click click click. Literally one-handed. Instant "chemical" weirdness. Hi ho.

I sort of miss the actual chemicals. I've got film camera equipment in boxes around the house (I've got at least two or three manual camera bodies and some lenses knocking around) and no film or chemicals to play with. And no time or money, either. It takes a lot of effort to do, and a lot of will to risk chucking out roll after roll of expensive film and paper and chemicals -- which you can't even buy very easily anymore -- trying to make strange photo shit happen only because it sort of amuses me to see what it would look like if I go like this over here with this thing and like that over there with that thing. So I'm left pushing some buttons and seeing what happens if I go like this over here pushing this thing and like that clicking those things. That's life in 2010, I guess. Hi ho.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

If you can remember the '90s you weren't really there, man

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A while ago, someone I work with emailed me this photograph. Pictured are three young people standing on an urban street corner, arm in arm, body language comfortable, sporting the latest in late-March 1995 fashion and comporting themselves like a lot of late-teens/early-twenties kids on street corners who hang all over each other posing into cameras. The subject line of her email was, "Did you remember?"

My co-worker (let's call her N.) works in a different city, at a different newspaper, but we have very similar jobs in the same company. N. visited my office once, years ago. We talked for a few minutes as strangers but then were both struck by deja vu and stared at each other, trying to place the other somewhere in space/time. After some quick back-and-forth questioning we figured out we'd both gone to the same undergraduate school at the same time. We must have seen each other in the dorms or the cafeteria or at a party at some point, we decided. And here we were working for the same company in more or less the same position. Small world.

Back to the photograph she sent me. Here's what I know. The co-worker who sent this to me, N., is the young woman in the center. I recognized the well-groomed fellow at right as some guy who went to the same college we did, a guy I knew of but didn't really know -- a friend of a friend, let's call him J. The overpass in the background I recall very well from walking constantly in this area -- it's in Boston, around Commonwealth Avenue at Charlesgate West, facing east. I lived right near this spot for about a year.

The guy on the left is me. I am the guy on the left. The person in the flannel shirt giving the thumbs-up is myself.

But I have no memory of this photo and no memory of the day it was taken. I don't remember ever spending time with either of these people. I don't know where the four of us were going or what we would do when we got there -- I say four because there was obviously a photographer but I can't imagine who that person was.

In fact, digging through my memories of college, I still maintain that I did not know N. beyond spotting her as a familiar face in public areas, and J. was a friend of a friend. I must have traveled in a completely different social circle because I know almost nothing about these people. I know they're very nice people -- I just don't really know them. Even now, I couldn't tell you anything about them except their names.

Please note that I don't mind -- if I was friends with them and headed toward Kenmore Square somewhere to do something, that's OK. I just wish I could remember it.

But there I am with my arm around them, head inclined in, giving a thumbs-up, in a flannel shirt I had for years. I've seen myself in mirrors and pictures enough to recognize that unsmiling air of stupid ironic detachment as all mine.

Yet at the same time I don't recognize myself, because if I did I'd know exactly what I was doing there. That's some stranger who looks a lot like me at 18. He has my hair, my face, my sunglasses, my thumb, my flannel shirt, but that's some other guy. Handsome son of a bitch, but that's not me.

He brought his own T-shirt. I don't recall that T-shirt, and the photo is too blurry to make out what it is. It looks to me like "...ankanim..." but I don't know what that could be.

And why am I wearing headphones in this photo? Was I listening to music at the time we were walking around? I do that a lot. That must have been rude. I'm sorry to N. and J., the well-groomed guy, and whoever the photographer is. Whoever that guy is, he must have been a real fuck-wit.

This photo has bothered me for some time because I don't like the feeling of seeing a picture of myself and not recalling the incident of the photograph at all. It's like an out-of-body experience, or like finding out I have a double. I have problems enough with self-identity as it is -- people are always mistaking me for someone different, or seeing a person who looks exactly like me, or else remembering things about me that I don't. Or maybe I don't like knowing that my memory is strange. I can recall with perfect clarity being an infant, maybe 1 or 2 years old, sitting on the carpet of my dining room and sticking my right big toe into the opening of an empty 2-liter Sprite bottle.  But I don't remember this picture.

Or else the Sprite bottle memory is false too. It's possible -- why would I remember that? How did I get a bottle when I was 1 or 2? How did I put my own toe in the bottle? Why do I remember the bottle opening barely fitting my big toe, when my toe must have been much smaller? Was this a dream I had, or did this incident happen in some way that's nothing like what I recall so vividly, or did I inadvertently make it up entirely? I don't remember.

Which leads to the conclusion that you can't trust anything either you remember or you don't remember.

Which is why you should always take pictures.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Nik runs the first ever Fall River Solo Marathon (Daily Photo 5.7.10)

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Due to a horrible allergic reaction, Nik was unable to run the New Jersey Marathon this past weekend. So she took it upon herself this week to run 26.2 miles all on her own, all within Fall River. She woke up at 5 a.m., put on her Brooks ID program sponsorship gear, filled a water bottle, and left. She took the run in three stages, pausing back at home each time to refill her bottle and then head back out.

I'll have more to write about this a little later (I'm fighting a cold at the moment, so I'm not too coherent), and I'll even throw together a little video -- but suffice it to say she had a great time, finished strong, and put her marathon training to good use. I let her use my New Jersey half-marathon medal -- she deserved it and more.

Possibly a bird (Daily Photo 5.6.10)

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Corona (Daily Photo 5.5.10)

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My throat is starting to burn -- it's the coming of spring allergies.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Gramma (Daily Photo 5.4.10)

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Nik's Gramma was in a better mood than usual today. She told us today how she has great gaydar, and how she could tell a fellow who lived in her building was homosexual:

"His head swivels."

Monday, May 03, 2010

Weekend in New Jersey, Part 4 (Daily Photo 5.4.10)

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Myrna genuinely seems to enjoy wearing race medals — probably because we keep telling her how pretty she looks.

Weekend in New Jersey, Part 3 (Daily Photo 5.2.10)

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The day before the New Jersey Marathon, Nik had a peanut allergy attack. Her tongue and throat started to swell, so we took fairly drastic action: I stabbed her in the leg with a needle full of adrenaline. I've never done anything like that before, and I don't care to repeat the experience. We ended up at the emergency room and she wisely decided to sit out the marathon. She's feeling better now.

But we figured I should still run the half-marathon as planned. A 13.1-mile long story short, it was hot and I got tired. Read more about that here

Weekend in New Jersey, Part 2 (Daily Photo 5.1.10)

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The day before the races, Nik and I spent some time by the Jersey shore. She decided to spend the day before she was scheduled to run 26.2 miles running another 4 miles. I read a book.

Afterward, we went for a drive along the Jersey shore, finding quirky little towns across the bay from New York. We went for a walk in Sea Bright, where we saw this house. I'm assuming this is a house. It's a concrete rectangle set on posts. It's hooked up to electrical wires from the street and it's got a gas meter. I'm assuming someone lives there.

A good way to prepare for a road race is to get a foot massage. A good way to get a foot massage? Exfoliate with some sand and sea water.

Long Branch boardwalk pavilion (Daily Photo 4.30.10)

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I'm assuming you call something like this a "pavilion."

This is right by the Atlantic Ocean in Long Branch, N.J. Nik (leaning on the column) and I went there to run the New Jersey Marathon and half-marathon respectively. The boardwalk is really beautiful, overlooking a fine-sand beach.

Shortly after taking this picture, we saw a couple get married on the beach with a string section playing an orchestral version of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'." It was awesome.
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