Saturday, August 29, 2009

Will There Be Enough Water?

Well, Tropical Storm Danny is doing his thing today, which for us in the greater Boston area means rain and lots of it. I had originally planned to golf today with some folks from work, but that was rescheduled to tomorrow afternoon, when it should be nice out again. I needed to get a long run in today but didn't want to get drenched, so I opted to do the 13 miles on the treadmill at the Beverly Y. Not my favorite thing in the world, but it had to be done. I struggled through the first five miles, but got into a good groove after that. Just took the girls to the library to check out some new books; Hannah cranks through them so fast. Other than that, looks like we're just hanging at home the rest of the day.

Deb and I went to the Sox-Jays game last night, which unfortunately for me ended in a 6-5 Sox victory. It was drizzling on and off from the start. We stuck around until the beginning of the 7th. Both girls have been dealing with a stomach bug all week and we got a report from home that Hannah was having some more problems. We were meeting some friends at BeerWorks, so we headed over to do that and get home. Right after we got to the bar, the game went into a rain delay. And then we ended up hanging out longer than we planned, so we didn't get home until 12:45. We parked at the Copley Plaza garage and when we went to get our car, the police had already begun closing off streets in anticipation of all the dignitaries arriving today for Ted Kennedy's funeral.

The rest of the week was fairly busy. Wednesday night, I ran in the Lynn Woods Relay; it's a 10-mile race in which each member of the four-person teams runs the same 2.5-mile leg. Even though I was 24 seconds slower than last year, I ran my leg in 18:29, which ended up being the fastest time (by a few seconds) for the North Shore Striders. Whenever I'm the fastest, that doesn't bode well for a team.

I had a new running column this week in the Salem News, this time looking at the ways technology has helped us map our runs.

Played hockey Thursday night. The high school kids were back, so I played defense. We got smoked. Despite running the relay the previous night and 5.25 miles at lunch, I had pretty good jump and skated well (for me, anyway). I managed to pop in a nice one-timer (hockey term) and make some decent defensive plays. My Lynn skate starts up in a few weeks, so at least I'll be in somewhat good shape for it.

As I mentioned a few days ago, I'm preparing for a couple of fantasy football drafts. The first one is on Tuesday and is a 14-team league. I've got the number 2 pick and the guy with the top pick has already told the commish he's drafting Tom Brady (wonder if he'll change his mind after seeing Brady get banged up in last night's exhibition game). If he sticks with Brady, I'll take Adrian Peterson of the Vikings and then will have to wait until pick 28 for my next selection. I also have the second pick in my other league, but that's a smaller league so I won't have to wait as long between picks.

You're soaking in it:
  • It hasn't quite been at the same level as the Michael Jackson death coverage (which is still going on), but the Ted Kennedy death has been all over the news, especially in Boston. You'd be hard-pressed to find out about anything else with the wall-to-wall tributes and such. I was fortunate to get on a treadmill in front of a TV that had ESPN on instead of all the others, which had Kennedy funeral coverage. I was never a huge fan of the guy, but there's no denying he accomplished a lot of good things in the Senate (well, I guess there is if you're a conservative Kennedy-hater).
  • Speaking of MJ, the LA coroner just came out and ruled the death a homicide because Jackson was given an overdose of propofol, a powerful sedative. Man, this thing is gonna drag out until 2015.
  • Just in time for the start of hockey training camps, a new book looks at the general ineptitude of the jamokes running my favorite team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. No shockers here. Anyone who's even taken a cursory look at the team over the last 40 years knows about the culture of stupidity that's entrenched itself in the Leafs' ownership and management teams. Hey, 41 years since the last Cup win and counting, folks.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Where Strides the Behemoth




I'm in the midst of preparations for my upcoming fantasy football drafts, including a new league with friends from work. My team is called Rampaging Sasquatch and here's the awesome logo designed by the great Bobby Durling. Who can stop the beast?




Monday, August 24, 2009

Completely Conspicuous 91: Constructive Summer

Back with a new episode of the podcast as I discuss summer jobs. Click here to listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

Topics:

- Summer jobs on par with previous years

- Stockin' shelves at the Market Basket

- Part-timers vs. full-timers

- Night crew

- Workin', eatin' and rockin' all night

- Setting up swingsets

- A short-lived gig

- Career opportunities: a newspaper internship

- Convincing my editor to give me more work

- A pathway to a job after graduation

- Baseball needs a salary cap

- Pinhead of the Week

Music:

- Radiohead - These Are My Twisted Words

- Titus Andronicus - Titus Andronicus

- Great Northern - Houses

- Shudder to Think - Hit Liquor (live)

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The Radiohead song was released by the band for free download through its online store.

The Titus Andronicus song is on the album The Airing of Grievances on Beggars Group USA Records, where you can download the song.

The Shudder to Think song is on the album Live From Home on Team Love Records, where you can download the song.

The Great Northern song is on the EP Houses on Eenie Meenie Records. The song is courtesy of IODA Promonet:

Houses EPGreat Northern
"Houses" (mp3)
from "Houses EP"
(Eenie Meenie Records)

More On This Album


The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography here.

Completely Conspicuous is sponsored by Eastbay/Footlocker.com. Use the following promo codes to save money on top-name athletic gear and footwear: AFCOMP15 will get you 15% off any order at Eastbay.com; AFCOMP20 will get you 20% off any order of $75 or more at Eastbay.com; and AFCOMPFL will get you 15% off any order at Footlocker.com.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

My Reality

Back to the grind this week. It wasn't as bad as I expected. It helps that there wasn't a ton of work to do this week, which helped me ease back into things after a week off. And it also helped that the air conditioning was blasting away so I didn't have to deal with the 90-degree temps outside.

I was going to go for a 13-mile run this morning, but my legs are a little sore from the last few days so I'm going to run tomorrow instead. I had a couple of lunchtime 5-milers in Marblehead early in the week at the height of the heat wave, but they didn't seem so bad after running in Hilton Head. Then I played hockey Thursday night for the first time in six weeks. We had about half as many players as we did the last time I was there, so I had double the ice time. I felt pretty good and popped in a goal and an assist, but my timing was off; I should have had three or four goals. All the high school kids were gone, so it was mostly the older dudes. My legs were pretty sore from hockey yesterday, but then I ran the Derby Street Mile in Salem last night. I was worried that the tightness would slow me down, but my time was almost identical to last year's. I didn't start out as fast, but finished strong in an official time of 6:01; my actual time was 5:59. Not bad, though; 58th out of 269 runners. My friends Jon and Kerry both kicked butt; Jon was fifth overall with a 4:45 (wow!) and second in our age category (I was 17th) and Kerry won her age group with a 5:54. This year, they split the race up into competitive and family events; my buddy Rick ran the latter with his kids.

Next week, I'll be doing the Lynn Woods relay with the Striders, which is a 2.5-mile leg through some hilly terrain. Should be fun. Speaking of relays, Reach the Beach is less than a month away. I plan on doing some two-a-day runs to get my body used to that, since I'll be doing three legs in 24 hours. I imagine a lot of it's going to be adrenaline-driven, but I don't want to be unprepared, either.

Feel the burn:
  • I've gotta say I was shocked that the British government released the Lockerbie bomber this week because he's terminally ill. The 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killed 270 people, including 189 Americans. It's about as despicable an act as you can imagine. I have no sympathy for this guy; they should have let him die in prison.
  • Must be tough to be a Minnesota Vikings fan. The last bunch of years have been awful, and now they have to root for once-hated rival Brett Favre. Well, at least they have nice weather there.
  • I make fun of Pitchfork at times, but they have some cool stuff up there. This week, they unveiled this massive Decade in Music package featuring their top 500 tracks of the '00s. I need to dedicate several hours to sift through it. Unlike 10 years ago, it seems as though folks aren't as hyped for the end of this decade. Granted, there was all that Y2K hysteria going on then, but believe it or not, we've zipped through yet another decade fairly quickly. I'm going to start taking a look back at the decade in the podcast over the next few months in terms of music, movies, news, sports, etc.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Completely Conspicuous 90: Sleeping with the Enemy

The podcast's back with a conversation with Matt Siegel about what happens when a lifelong Red Sox fan marries a diehard Yankees fan. Click here to listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

Topics:

- Sox-Yanks rivalry brought them together

- Jay sneaks in gratuitous reference to Blue Jays winning '93 World Series

- Matt and Tricia had planned on opening a "rivalry" bar

- Things get tense when the teams play each other

- Tales of woe at Yankee Stadium

- Matt's a sore loser

- Tricia's a true sports fan

- Sticking with your hometown team, unlike our pal Tim Coyne

- A little NBA talk

- Talking Blue Jays

- Baseball needs a salary cap

- The wonderful world of podcasts

- Boston's shifting sports talk radio scene

- Sponsorship and podcasting

- Online shopping

- Juggling passwords and e-mail addresses

- Lamenting the fate of newspapers

- Social media rules

- Pinhead of the Week

Music:

- The Raveonettes - Suicide

- Deer Tick - Smith Hill

- Julian Plenti - Fun That We Have

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The Raveonettes song is on the forthcoming album In and Out of Control on Vice Records, where you can download the song.

The Deer Tick song is on the album Born on Flag Day on Partisan Records, where you can download the song.

The Julian Plenti song is on the album Julian Plenti is...Skyscraper on Matador Records, where you can download the song.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography here.

Completely Conspicuous is sponsored by Eastbay/Footlocker.com. Use the following promo codes to save money on top-name athletic gear and footwear: AFCOMP15 will get you 15% off any order at Eastbay.com; AFCOMP20 will get you 20% off any order of $75 or more at Eastbay.com; and AFCOMPFL will get you 15% off any order at Footlocker.com.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Crawl Home

Well, we're back in Beverly and as much fun as we had down in Hilton Head, it's good to be back. Not sure if I'll be saying that tomorrow at work, but that's okay. The drive back was definitely tougher than the drive down. Here's a quick summary of the week:

  • Lots of pool and beach time. Our resort had a nice little pool and the kids had a blast in it. We hit it almost every day we were there. We traveled 10 minutes across the island to the Monarch Resort to go to the beach. I was surprised that the waves weren't as strong as at Brigantine Beach near Atlantic City. Still, it was a nice beach and we had fun boogie boarding and just hanging out. We went yesterday and the lifeguards were keeping folks out of the water because an alligator was sighted. They had a guy come to try and catch it, but he didn't have any luck. We were allowed to swim further down the beach, but later they made everyone get out because a big storm was on the horizon.
  • Holy sweltering humidity. We took full advantage of the AC because it was super muggy down there, as you would expect. I went for a 9-mile run yesterday and felt like I was wading through soup. Tough stuff. Kudos to bro-in-law Matt, who did a 16-miler and looked none the worse for wear afterwards. He's training for a 50k trail run (approx. 31 miles) in October, so he's in good shape already.
  • Snuck in some golf. Matt and I played 18 at Planters Row, one of three Port Royal courses. It wasn't very busy because this was the last week before school starts down there. We weren't complaining. We were paired up with a couple of guys from Indy and got through our round in 4 hours. Matt hadn't played in three years and I hadn't played in six weeks, so neither of us was very sharp, but we had fun. We spotted several gators in the various water hazards, plus a family of raccoons running across the fairway on one hole. I had one interesting shot with my 6 iron when the club head snapped off and went half as far as the ball. Guess I'll finally have to buy a set of clubs; I've been using my dad's old set from 1990.
  • Field recording. I managed to find some time Thursday night to record a conversation with Matt for the podcast. We talked about how he has a Red Sox fan married a Yankees fan and all the friendly rivalry that ensued. I plan to put the show together tomorrow or Tuesday.
  • Endless driving. As I noted earlier, it was a tough ride home. Unlike our trip down South, we both struggled a bit with the whole staying awake thing. We left at 4:30 p.m. yesterday and hit some serious traffic as we were leaving HH because of an accident, but that was it. Deb drove until 10:30 and I took over near the NC line, driving us into Maryland. We switched again at 3 and Deb could only last about an hour before turning it back to me. And we kinda went back and forth the rest of the way, getting home at 11 a.m. Fueled by my first iced coffee ever, I drove the last stretch from past Hartford to Beverly. Crashed upstairs for several hours this afternoon. Tomorrow should be interesting.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chillout Tent

Just a quick note from Hilton Head. We're enjoying a fairly relaxing week here at the Marriott
SeaPines resort in Harbour Town. We got here Sunday after spending a night in Charleston. The drive down was pretty uneventful. Deb drove the first five hours, I took the midnight to 5 a.m. shift and didn't yawn once. Then we alternated the rest of the way. It took a total of 17 hours with about two hours of stops mixed in. We timed it right, not hitting any major traffic the whole way. Matt, Tricia and the boys got here an hour or so ahead of us. Deb's mom decided to drive down by herself and got to Charleston later. Matt and I got in a long run Sunday morning before we checked out an old plantation and then drove to HH.

As you can imagine, it's pretty damn hot down here. It's also beautiful. Great ocean views. We've spent a lot of time by the pool and hit the beach yesterday at the Monarch resort. Matt and I are planning to golf tomorrow. We're going to leave Saturday night so we get home Sunday afternoon. Hopefully I won't be too fried on Monday morning, but I'm not going to think about that now.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Highway Star

Well, we're getting ready to head off to Hilton Head in a few minutes. Hopefully, it'll be smooth sailing. Deb managed to get a nap in this afternoon, so she's going to take the first shift. Actually, we're doing the 16 hours to Charleston, so hopefully we get there by 11:30 tomorrow morning. Then we chill out there until late Sunday morning, when we finish the trip to HH.

Last night, I ran the Beverly Homecoming 5K in 22:06 (21:58 by my watch). I was hoping to do better, but my stomach had been bugging me the last few days. Still, I finished strong. The girls had fun running the kids' quarter-mile race, too. Looking forward to doing a long run in Charleston on Sunday morning; it's supposed to be really pretty there.

Don't think I'll have much opportunity to blog from HH because we don't have a laptop and Matt's is a work machine. But I will be posting Twitter updates from my phone, which you can read in the lower right corner of this page. Later!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

So Easy

Hola. Just cranking out a post before I settle in to watch some TV with the missus. Last night, I met up with Bobby D to catch the Eagles of Death Metal at the House of Blues. We had a few over at Boston BeerWorks before catching the end of opener Rival Schools' set. They played half-decent alt-rock, but the place came alive once the headliners hit the stage to the strains of Kool and the Gang's "Ladies Night." Frontman Jesse Hughes is quite the preener, but he backs it up. The band ripped through a 90-minute set of tunes from their first three albums, 98% of them uptempo blooze-rockers. Drummer Joey Castillo (of Queens of the Stone Age) sat in again for QOTSA frontman/EoDM studio drummer Josh Homme, who is no doubt preparing for his gig with Them Crooked Vultures, the side project he has with Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones of Led Zep that's playing Lollapalooza in Chicago this weekend and releasing an album in October (which should be terrific, given the personnel). Castillo was a beast on drums, pounding so hard that he broke several sticks. The show was just a lot of fun, and Bob and I enjoyed drinking Sam Summers and making fun of the guy nearby who was wearing a "Kaka" soccer jersey (in tribute to the Brazilian soccer star). We were shouting out "Ka-kaaaaaaawwwwww!!!!" throughout the last several songs while dancing around foolishly and the poor dude had no clue. Senor Breitling and I did the same thing at the Bloc Party show we saw a few years back, yelling out the name of opening band Mew repeatedly. Ah, good times.

So it turns out we're leaving for Hilton Head a little earlier than originally planned, at 7 or 8 p.m. Friday instead of midnight because Deb's mom got the day off from work. Which is cool because we'll get there a little earlier. And in mapping out the trip, we discovered that it's longer than we thought: it's supposedly 16 hours to Charleston and another hour or two after that to Hilton Head. Hey, what's two more hours in the car, right?

As I noted in the previous post, I hit my three-year anniversary of CompCon Monday night. Didn't even realize it until near the end of the show. A lot of podcasts come and go, so I'm glad I've been able to keep it going and keep in interesting (to me, at least). Another new development that I hinted at a few weeks back is that I've got some sponsorship deals through Mevio for the show. Still have to send back the paperwork on the first one, but it'll involve me doing minimal hype during each episode and mention promo codes for folks to hopefully buy some merch. At the very least, I hope to get a few bucks out of it. It certainly won't change what I do or how I do it, and the show will continue to be free for as long as I do it. More details as I get them, but the next show (coming around the 17th after we get back from HH) will be the first to feature a sponsor.

I had a fairly awful 5-mile run today due to the heat and some stomach issues, but I feel better now and hopefully will feel fine tomorrow night when I run the Beverly Homecoming 5K. I'm also hoping for the weather to cool down a little, because it's super-muggy right now.

I also need to crank out next week's running column tomorrow night, since I won't be around and won't have a regular computer to work on while I'm on vacation. I already know what I'm writing about, so it shouldn't take too long to get it done.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Completely Conspicuous 89: Doctor Doctor

I celebrate three years of podcasting CompCon with part 2 of my conversation with Dev Sarathy, this time discussing the pros and cons of the Canadian healthcare system. Click here to listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

Topics:

- In Canada, paying taxes = healthcare coverage

- Canadian taxes are extremely high

- Health insurance doesn't cover "natural health" services like chiropractic

- Quality of life vs. quantity of life

- Money isn't going into preventive healthcare/wellness

- Old man Kumar: No kids play outside anymore

- Dev's awesome impression of his dad

- Fat people are fatter nowadays

- Canadian delays: Three-month waiting period for MRIs

- Maybe a hybrid of the two systems would work

- Canadian system abused by trivial ER visits

- Dev would make more money in U.S. system

- Canadians aren't used to paying for health services

- Hard to roll out a national plan due to sheer size of U.S.

- Outsourcing is a serious problem

- Pinhead of the Week

Music:

- Lou Barlow - Gravitate

- Big Dipper - She's Fetching

- MSTRKRFT (feat. N.O.R.E.) - Bounce

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The Lou Barlow song is on the forthcoming album Goodnight Unknown. The Big Dipper song is on the box set Supercluster: The Big Dipper Anthology. Both albums are on Merge Records, where you can download the songs.

The MSTRKRFT song is on the album Bounce on Dim Mak Records. The song is courtesy of RCRDLBL, where you can download the MP3.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography here.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

European Oils

A truly uninspired day going on here. No rain, but it's been alternating between sunny and cloudy. We've been kinda lazing around the house, doing laundry, clearing shows off the TiVo and reading.

Things are coming together for the Hilton Head trip. We're planning to leave after Deb's mom gets home from work, around midnight Friday. We can't check into our condo until Sunday, so the plan is to drive the approximately 13 hours to Charleston, where we're staying at a hotel Saturday night. Matt, Tricia and the boys are meeting us there. We should get there in the afternoon, so we can relax and hang by the pool and then go out to dinner. Then we hit the road by 10 Sunday and it should only take us an hour or two to get to HH. I'm bringing the clubs so Matt and I can hit the links once or twice while we're there.

Friday was a weird one. I had planned to run at lunch, but it got really dark and started pouring so I ended up just waiting a day to run and doing some leg machines at the gym for the first time in about five years. I kept the weights low, so I wasn't too sore the next day. Around 5, this isolated storm system whipped through a stretch of Beverly and Danvers that included our neighborhood. The storm ripped trees out of the ground, knocking down power lines and causing plenty of destruction in a short period of time. We lost power and Route 1A was blocked off by emergency crews so I had to take the long way around to get home. We ended up losing power for seven hours. Deb, her mom and the girls had gone to run some errands, so I grilled up some hot dogs and sausages for dinner.

I had to leave around 8 to meet OJ at the Paradise to catch the Destroyer show. It was a light crowd due to the lack of college students and the general obscurity of Destroyer, which is a one-man production by Dan Bejar, who also plays with the New Pornographers. We had a beer at the Dise Lounge bar and then caught the last five songs or so from Iran, a band that is probably most notable for including Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio, but he was likely on tour with his main band. But these guys sounded good. We were hoping Bejar would bring a full band so we could hear the songs with full instrumentation, but he opted for the acoustic approach. Which was cool. He played about 70 minutes worth of songs from throughout his career, which has spanned 10 albums over the last 14 years. Very intimate show, with I'd say maybe 100 folks in attendance.

I hightailed it home and was pleased to see the streetlights on before I turned onto our street, and sure enough, the power was back. Yesterday morning, I went out for a run and had to turn around because my normal route was blocked off by work crews clearing the fallen trees and branches. There were tree service trucks all over town doing similar work. I got a 6-miler in before it got too hot. We then headed to Briggy's in Newtonville for the annual Webnoize BBQ. OJ, Amy and baby Chloe (who looks just like her dad, minus the beard) were there, as were Ric, Karen and Max, and Lee, Mary Helen and the boys. It was pretty damn hot, in the mid-80s, but Dave and Beth had a slip-and-slide and a kiddie pool set up, so the kids were able to stay cool. We were there until after 3 and then headed back to Beverly for a birthday party hosted by our friends the Ploszays. They rented a bouncy tent and there were a bunch of kids there, so the girls had a blast. We hung out there for several hours before finally heading home.

So after all that, we decided to keep it low-key today. Although Deb's already begun packing for the trip, so that when Friday rolls around, we'll be ready to go. As I noted previously, she's a good organizer.