Saturday, August 04, 2012

This gets unexpectedly philosophical. (Project 190, Day Twenty-Six)

I biked today.

When we were kids, one Sunday night, Breaking Away came on TV.  We all watched Breaking Away, that summer night, me and my brothers and our neighbor Paul and the kids down the street, Mike and Tom and probably other kids, too.

And then we set up bike races in our neighborhood, based on Breaking Away.  These were long bike races, too: the course was probably four miles long and had several large hills as well as a long race down the finish line.

We would do that for hours, it seems like, racing our bikes around and around this entire subdivision.

Now, I mostly bike on a recumbent bike while I read on my Kindle, and have televisions on. 

I'm not sad about it, or even nostalgic.  It's not like I'm looking back and saying those were the days and these are not, because really these are the days and I find it amazingly enjoyable to play Plants vs. Zombies while I exercise.

I think, when I think back to that biking and today's biking, that it's more that when I was that age I couldn't possibly imagine the world I would live in at this age, couldn't see myself someday going to a club and biking while playing video games and reading for a while, and then taking two little boys swimming and tossing them into the water and roughhousing with them and then walking home in the haze that precedes a summer thunderstorm, the kind of thunderstorm that has hot, heavy raindrops and doesn't clear the air so much as mix it up and lay it back down the same but different, still hot and still wet and still heavy but in a different order.

It's like they were two different people, connected by all the different people that were also me, but only by that, all of us together in a room sort of: the me that used to ride his 10-speed bike down Oxford Avenue as fast as he can hanging out, momentarily, with the me that is making sure that he remembers to grab some rocks for Mr Bunches and Mr F to throw into the river as we walk over the bridge home from the club where he was riding the exercise bike, and they're only there hanging out because they have in common the fact that they both know that guy who used to ride his bike out to Picnic Point during law school, and that guy is there because he's friends with the guy that once hopped on his bike to listen to the NBA Finals on his Walkman radio while he biked to his dad's house for dinner.

It's one of those summer days that has me thinking of things like this, and also thinking how I wish every day could be one of those summer days that has me thinking of things like this.

Today's exercise:  Biking, 50:00, level two.
Latest Weight: 252.
Today's song that I was listening to and really getting into before my iPod went dead because I'm always forgetting to charge it up:

Neighborhood #3, Arcade Fire.

Yeah, I know it's the one Arcade Fire song everybody knows.  I never pretended to be hip.  Well, once I did, but it went badly; I couldn't quite master the irony.

A few quick notes:

Liz:  I would measure my waist except yesterday I had to go buy two new pairs of dress pants, as the result of a weird zipper incident where my zipper just kept on going up, and I know that my waist is still a 42" (relaxed fit.)

Andrew: I mentioned I was going to read your short story The Tunnel and I did while I was biking and it was way too short.  It was phenomenal and I'll give it a better write-up when I can but to others reading this: Follow this link and read one of the most intriguing, excellent short short stories you'll ever lay eyes on.

And finally, Rusty: forget emails; you've got me beat with the hilarious story about your first day of fitness.  I made Sweetie read it and she laughed and later quoted it back to me out of context, and quoting something out of context is the greatest compliment you can get from Sweetie.

Superman and The Albino Squirrels vs. The Dentist...

Continuing the story of my recent vacation to Florida... read part one, "In Another Universe, I Am In Birmingham, Alabama, For Some Reason," by clicking here
or part two, "Why Would Anyone Want To Drive Through Illinois?" by clicking here
Or part three, "We Are READY TO GO. Well, almost", by clicking here.
Or part four, "Sometimes, a house" by clicking here.

TO RECAP: We were going to Florida to hang out with Sweetie's family for a week, and got waylaid by recalcitrant car lenders and three cases of strep throat.When we left off, we were nearing Beloit.

As I said, it's important to remember that Mr F and Mr Bunches had never been away from home for more than a day, before.  It's also important to remember that previously,  the longest car ride they'd ever taken was 3 hours, from Madison, Wisconsin, to Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

So four hours in, when we were still deep in the heart of Illinois, things began to get a little dicey, when Mr Bunches stopped playing iPad, stopped playing Kindle Fire, stopped playing telephone, and said, loudly:

"Go home?"

Sweetie and I looked at each other.

"Not yet," I said.  "We're going to a hotel and we'll go swimming," which was both a bribe and an amazingly cruel thing to say because while Mr Bunches loves swimming, he wasn't going to get to go swimming for another five hours and five hours to Mr Bunches is the same as five days which is the same as never and right now, simultaneously.

I don't know when most kids get a concept of time.  Heck, I don't know whether I, yet, have a concept of time that makes sense, in that things seem to move incredibly fast and amazingly slow in my life all at once.  It's August 4 as I write this, and I can't believe that the summer is more than 2/3 over, since it honestly seems to me like I was just getting ready for June and making my annual list of things that I wanted to do this summer, things like "Go to the beach" and "Take the boys to Natural Bridge State Park," which is a State Park where there is a Natural Bridge, and Sweetie and I went hiking there once and I remember it as a fun day even if I don't remember the Natural Bridge.

Also on my annual list of summer activities:  Pete's, which is explanation enough.  Pete's is this hamburger stand I read about a few years back in the local newspaper, a hamburger stand that has been around since 1910 or something in Prairie du Chien,Wisconsin.  Pete's is only open weekdays, I think, and it's a 3-hour drive away, which makes it seem like a bad idea to spend a day driving to it to get a burger, but the article made the burgers sound really good and anyway, food is entertainment now, so a daytrip to get a burger is not unthinkable, and certainly no worse than the time I proposed that Sweetie and I drive to St. Louis for our wedding anniversary because at the time that was the closest Sonic had a restaurant and I wanted to try eating there.

(Also on the annual list: a restaurant in Minnesota that serves only breakfast cereal.)

I was talking about Mr Bunches, though, and his sense of time, which consists of two times: right now, and right now-er, which is  to say that Mr Bunches needs everything to happen this moment, if not maybe a little bit faster.  Say we are eating dinner, Sweetie and I -- Mr Bunches and Mr F never join us, for a variety of reasons, although they do hover around-- and Mr Bunches says something like "Spider Park?" (which isn't what it sounds like, it's this), and I say "Sure, after dinner," because, remember, I am eating dinner, Mr Bunches will immediately go get his Crocs on and come back and say "C'mon, Dad," and if you try to say something like "Well, um, no, because, see, I've still got this half-a-hot dog to eat and I was hoping to change clothes out of my suit..." he will either tug on your arm to get you to shut up and go to Spider Park or he will tug on your heartstring by getting sad-eyed and giving you the impression that he's thinking "Oh, sure, you wanted me to learn to talk so I could communicate with you but now you don't care that I can say things and do things, so why bother?"

Which is why I've eaten a lot of meals as I got ready to go to the park, or the pool, or Target.

Anyway, in the car somewhere in Illinois, Mr Bunches decided he wanted to go home, and at first I tried to put him off by saying that we were going to a hotel to swim, but within an hour it became apparent that we were not doing that, as such, we were just driving through nowhere, which is what Central Illinois looks like: Generic America.

We didn't drive past the only parts of Illinois that anyone would want to drive past, on our way through the state.  The only parts of Illinois that anyone would want to drive past are:

1.  Chicago, so you can see the Sears Tower and discuss for a while what it's called now that it's not the Sears Tower, and you can ponder whether buying the Sears Tower and renaming it after your company is worth it if people are just going to always call it the Sears Tower.  (If I had money, I would buy the Sears Tower and rename it "Chet.")

2.  The Giant Superman of Metropolis, Illinois, which is a real thing I looked up and also mentioned, I believe, in Sufjan Stevens' song "Man Of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts" even if Sweetie doesn't believe me that he (Sufjan, not Superman) wrote an entire album about Illinois, and which is where we were headed, so we hadn't driven by it yet.

3.  The Albino Squirrels.  The Albino Squirrels of Illinois are a real thing, too, and I looked them up because when we were planning this trip and I had to choose where we were going to stay on the first night, I wanted to pick a spot that we could actually see a tourist-y thing at, and enjoy some "local color" in the sense of "buying souvenirs."  So I looked up things to see in Illinois and had to choose between Superman, the Albino Squirrels, and a giant metal dragon.

I nixed the metal dragon because once we took the boys to see a bunch of metal sculptures called "The Forevertron" outside of Sauk City, Wisconsin, by a guy who makes metal sculptures out of junk, and Mr Bunches got really frightened, which, in retrospect was only to be expected because the scuptures really are frightening.  They mostly look like they are metal recreations of the "Skeezix" from the old Uncle Wiggly game, except for the ones that look like they are giant metal cockroaches.  It's all really quite post-apocalyptic and frightening, just like Uncle Wiggly was, when I was a little kid.  I'm not sure, as I think of it, why I thought he might like it.

So we didn't see the Giant Metal Dragon, and I gave strong thought to the Albino Squirrels, which is apparently a colony of squirrels that lives in this city and they're all albinos; that seemed to me to be the kind of thing that's worth seeing, but then I came across "Giant Metal Statute of Superman" actually in a city called Metropolis and as you would guess, when it's Superman vs. The Albino Squirrels, Superman wins that.

We weren't near any of those things at this point.  Illinois takes up, by my estimate, 103% of the continental United States, and has only those three things worth seeing (four, if you count the dragon, and five if you count Robot Abraham Lincoln, which you might say does not exist and to you I say it darn well should) and five things can be pretty sparsely spread out when you consider the volume of Illinois (am I using that right) and so Mr Bunches got more and more despairing as the drive went on and on and began to doubt me more than ever that we were, in fact, going to a hotel, which he kind of understood as he's been to one, with a pool.

During this time, Mr F was not troubled at all.  Mr F was calmly watching identical mile after identical mile roll by, tapping his hangers and not minding anyone.  Mr F is pretty cool that way, 99% of the time.  99% of the time, Mr F is okay with whatever you are doing and keeps a steady attitude, kind of a detached, wary sense of humor where he might look as though he's happy but he's also not entirely sure whether you are taking him to the doctor or near an animal, since Mr F dislikes both of those things (but he dislikes animals worse than he dislikes doctors, as we learned at the Dane County Fair when Mr F cringed away from a tiny baby bunny in terror.)

(I never would have guessed that Mr F's fear/hatred of animals extends to baby bunnies, which are pretty much the antimatter of scary: you cannot be afraid of a tiny baby bunny.  If a tiny baby bunny got infected with ebola and kidnapped your entire family and held them hostage tied to a neutron bomb buried in the heart of Tokyo, and then bit you on the finger, too, you could not be afraid of it because first,  a tiny baby bunny would never do those things but also if it did it would still be kind of cute.)

As we whiled away the hours driving through Illinois, too, Sweetie and I were discussing the kinds of things married couples discuss on vacations when they finally get a chance to spend hour after hour together in a car, talking and relating to each other, namely: music, and which music we would listen to, in particular, alternating between my iPod with its new Regina Spektor album which I had bought specially for this trip, using the gift certificate I got for our anniversary two months earlier and which I'd saved just so that I could buy a new album for this trip and so consequently I felt we should listen to on the trip that I'd bought it for, and then on the other hand there was Sweetie's thoughts on that subject, which were


although to be fair, sometimes she didn't pay attention and I'd play it again.

We also debated, at length, for some portion of the trip so I might as well say it was on day one as we drove through Illinois, the proper pronunciation of Flo-Rida, the rapper.

The Boy said it was Flo-Reeda, and based his claim on actually knowing how the man's name was pronounced as The Boy is 20 and consequently knows about things that are taking place right now in our culture, provided that those things are not in any way important or meaningful.  The Boy is only about 10% sure who is running for President, and 5% sure which country that candidate wants to lead, and 1% sure what a President is or does, but The Boy is 100% sure how to pronounce the names of rappers, which is why sometimes I thank God I will almost certainly die before The Boy's generation has a chance to begin running things:

The Boy: Now that we are in power, there are some things we need to decide.

Other People In The Boy's Generation:  [after making sure to Save where they are on Call Of Duty VII: Roman Warfare, which will feature Roman Centurions with jetpacks and will by that time constitute the entirety of knowledge the human race has about Rome, which will turn out not to affect us at all]: Huh?

The Boy: I forgot what I was talking about.  Let's order pizza.

 EPILOGUE: The entire country is eaten by a Skeezix.

 Sweetie and I, on the other hand, said it was Flo-Right-A, basing our arguments on:

1.  The fact that flow is (I think) a rap term and Right-A kind of makes it sound like Flo-Rida is saying he's got Right Flows, which is probably a thing [Me]


2.  "It's a girl's name!" [Sweetie]

And that was how we killed three more hours until we got to the outskirts of a town around dinner time, the town being nowhere near where we were hoping to be by that time but we were hungry, and so we stopped for dinner at a local Burger King, because on this vacation I had decided I was going to branch out a bit and try new things -- and I almost never eat at Burger King, which makes it a new thing for me.

We got out of the car and began the process of unbuckling the boys and letting The Boy out from where he was entrapped between the two booster seats, and Mr Bunches lost it.

He refused to get out of the car, and kept saying "Go home.  Go home to my house," and when I lifted him out of the car and tried to get him to stand up, he crumpled to the ground, a little boy crying in a heap on the edge of a Burger King parking lot somewhere in Illinois, wanting desperately to go home.

Sweetie and I had talked about this and how the boys might handle it and we had agreed that if they got really, really upset about being away from home, we would take them home even if it meant leaving the vacation early, because the boys have been making great strides in all the areas where we want them to make great strides and we didn't want to set them back in their therapy by forcing them to go to Florida, especially since we weren't all that crazy about going to Florida, either, and so as I stood there in the parking lot, having sent Sweetie and The Boy and Mr F in ahead of us, I considered whether we should, in fact, just turn around and go home.

The thought had its appeal.  I had strep throat, and was tired.  We were already way behind schedule.  We didn't really want to go on vacation, not now, not this year, when we were finally getting some money saved up and getting ahead of our bills and could have used some breathing room and quiet time.  Orlando wasn't anywhere near the top of the list for places we wanted to go.

But I couldn't give up,  not just yet.  Superman awaited us.  The ocean awaited us. Other things awaited us, probably.

Plus, as much as I didn't want to upset the boys by making them go outside of their comfort zone, I also wanted to force the boys to go outside of their comfort zone, a little.  There's this tension with the boys, with Mr F and Mr Bunches, about how much to challenge them and how far to push them.  Should we make them do this?  How about that?  Is it okay to make them wait a day to get that toy they want, or should we reward them for being able to ask for it right now?

These are not easy questions.  For every success story there is a miserable failure.  Consider Mr F, who I have repeatedly forced to dress himself for as long as I have thought he was able to do so.  I will wait, every chance I get, for Mr F to put on his pants and shirt himself, even if it means taking three, four, five times as long as it would for me to just do it, and I was rewarded for that the other day when Mr F got out of his bath and while I cleaned up the tub he went into his room and got out his pajamas and put them on, a tiny huge victory that most parents would not notice but which nearly brought tears to my eyes.  We force Mr F to go swimming, and he decides one day to put his face in the water and swim himself forward, all on his own and if I could have put on a fireworks show to celebrate that, I would have.

On the other hand, when Mr F was three, we decided to implement on therapist's advice to get him to talk more.  When he wants something, we were told, make him ask for it using words. So we did, and we started with the thing that was then Mr F's favorite thing in the world: milk.

When he used to want milk, Mr F would tug us to the refrigerator and wave his hand at the milk, throwing our hands towards it so we would pour him a glass of milk.  When he was three and we wanted him to say "milk," we forced him to do that.

He would throw our hands at the milk.

"Say milk," we would tell him.

He would point to the milk.

"Say milk," we would tell him.

He would get out the milk and hand it to us.

"Say milk," we would tell him.

For a few days, he would actually say "milk," and we'd pour him a glass.

Then one day, he stopped drinking milk.


It has been three years since Mr F drank a glass of milk and if you offer him one right now, he won't take it.  Not only that: he might dump it out.

So we are wary about forcing them out of their comfort zone.  They might swim and put on pants.  They might stop drinking milk.  We don't know.

But in the parking lot of the Burger King in Illinois,  I decided we were not yet far enough out of the comfort zone to back down now, and so I hit on Plan B, which was to say to Mr Bunches:

"Do you want to take your Play-Doh Dentist in and play with it while we eat?"

"Yeah," he sniffled, and wiped his eyes, and I put him on my shoulders,dug out the Play-Doh Dentist toy he'd bought at Walmart the day before and we went inside, where The Boy and Sweetie and I ate burgers, Mr F ate french fries, and Mr Bunches created Play-Doh teeth to put into a plastic head so he could fill the Play-Doh cavities with Play-Doh fillings.

This is actually taken in a McDonald's.

The head also had a Play-Doh tongue.

The other day, I cooked dinner for Sweetie as a surprise while she was out.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Don't tell Sweetie about me and this shoe store.

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Famous Footwear for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

In the time it takes me to go for a run, I can go get myself a pair of running shoes, some work shoes, and some sandals for the summer.

That’s the message I got from Famous Footwear’s latest promotion, a back-to-school deal where they’re making the case that Famous Footwear has so many varieties of shoes, and is so easy to shop at, that you can get three pairs of shoes in just 20 minutes.

“Okay,” I say back to them hypothetically because I do not usually converse with corporations, “but speed isn’t the biggest deal for me. I’ve got tons of kids. I need to SAVE MONEY,” I go on.

“Well, sure,” Famous Footwear says, because it doesn’t mind that I usually give it the cold shoulder, “Try this on for size… get it?... right now if you shop in our stores we’ll give you 15% off – and 20% off if you sign up to become a “Rewards Member.”

“Hmmm…” I muse, because I like the idea of 20% off on shoes but I’m not sold on joining a group in case there are meetings or I have to bring a dish to pass. “What else you got?”

“Well,” says Famous Footwear, warming up to the task, “We also are selling the shoes Buy-One-Get-One, so each pair you buy gets you a free pair.”

“That seems…” I say slowly, not wanting to give up all the power in this conversation “… like an OK deal.” (PLAY HARD TO GET!)

“You’re playing hard to get,” says Famous Footwear, no dummy.  “Fine. I’ll sweeten the deal.  Here’s an offer you can’t refuse: If we don’t have the shoes you want in the store, we’ll get them for you through home delivery, or you can go to and order the shoes you want, and then pick them up at a store near you.”

“Is that all…” I begin but Famous Footwear interrupts.

“FREE OF CHARGE,” it finishes.  “And by joining the Rewards Program you’ll get a point for every dollar you spend and can earn up to $100 a year in certificates, plus other discounts.”

“Oh Famous Footwear,” I say, swooning.  “I’m sorry I ever doubted you.”

And then I grab its coupon, which you can get, too:

BOGO + 15% off Famous Footwear Coupon


Visit Sponsor's Site

Then, 5

 Delirious Love,

Neil Diamond

This is the song that came on my iPod as I pulled into the parking lot at my office this morning -- as I pulled in, inexplicably, about 30 minutes earlier than I usually am.  Somehow, I got ready for work today and left for work today at least 30 minutes earlier than I usually do and I didn't realize it until I was almost at the office, when I looked at the clock and it said "8:02," which is earlier than I usually am even in my car.

I thought, momentarily, about turning around and going back home and leaving at the regular time but I decided instead to turn up this song and park my car and walk in, all with the song blaring in my ears.

There is probably no day that cannot be made better by beginning it with the sun shining, the weekend coming, and this song playing loudly as you walk along.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

The picture is not for the faint of heart. (Project 190, Day Twenty-Five)

That picture, on the left, is what I looked at this morning as I cooled down from my run.  It's not a pretty sight, but it's better than it was 25 days ago.  (That's my shirt, by my knee, and my cool-down glass of milk by the edge of the carpet.)

One of these days, I will have to put a picture of the hills that mark the end of my run, whichever way I go.  But I don't take a camera with me when I run.

To give you an idea of how long they are, though, today, when I ran up the hill at the end, I started the song "(I Was Born A) Unicorn" by The Unicorns:

And it took me longer than that song to get to the top of the hill.

(But I did it.)

Today's workout: Running, outside, 20:24.
Latest weight: 252.
Bonus song that I began my run with and which put me in a great mood as I jogged atop a hill that showed me an entire valley filled with mist and the two cranes and the sun coming up behind me:

Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes, Paul Simon:

"Sometimes it last in exercise, sometimes it hurts, instead." (Project 190, Day Twenty-Four)


I'm not freaking out or anything.  Really, I'm not.

I get up this morning at 5:40 and I make my coffee and I put on my baseball hat and swim trunks and Packer shirt with Brett Favre's number on it and I drive down to the club and I walk in and kick off my Crocs and step on the scale and it says


And I didn't freak out at all.

But I also wasn't what you would call happy, and so when I went to the Big pool to swim and noticed that it was full and I had to go to the smaller pool I thought "So it's going to be that kind of day," and it was.  I got in the smaller pool, which I had to myself, and began swimming, and it was hard to swim today: my arms felt like lead, my legs felt like lead, I kept thinking I was swimming into a current, I got water up my nose... was probably psychological, feeling down because I'd gained a pound back, but I kept on pushing through, going for thirty laps today as my goal, and struggling through every inch of it.  Down and back and down and back.

I remembered that when the Olympic swimmers did their thing, they turned their heads with every stroke and I thought that might help, get more oxygen in me, but when I tried that I just got dizzy, so there is at least one thing that Olympians can do that I can't.

I finished the 30 laps, and a thought occurred to me.

I went back into the locker room, and weighed myself, post-swim.


So I was right, last time: I lost water weight while swimming, enough to tip the scale just above and below 251/252, so my real weight is 252, but even before I thought that, I wasn't freaking out, and here's why:

1.  Sweetie said to me the other day "Look at your muscles," and it was true: I have them.  They're not huge, but I have muscles, already.

2.  I can already feel the difference in my health.  Take blanket swings, which are something Mr F loves: I wrap him up in a blanket and spin him around like he's the hammer in the hammer toss, until I can't anymore and he spills out.  I haven't done those in a long time, much, and when I have it's been one or two of them, but last night Mr F wanted blanket swings and I did ten of them for him.

3.  I can wear shirts that I haven't felt good about wearing in a long time.  I have this Richmond Spiders team shirt I got from Sweetie because I like odd sports mascots, and it was a little tight for a long time but I tried it on the other day and it fit pretty well, so even if I am 252 -- even if I gained back a pound or never lost it -- I am feeling more fit and fitting more clothes.

So I wasn't freaking out, although I wasn't exactly happy about not being 251 because I know this is working, and tonight I proved it even more when I walked with Mr F and Mr Bunches to the small pool, a mile away, and on the way back, Mr Bunches got tired but didn't want to ride in the wagon, so I carried him and walked backwards pulling the wagon uphill a half mile.

I couldn't have done that 24 days ago.

Today's workout: Swimming, medium pool, 30 laps, 17:00.
Latest weight: 252.
Song that popped into my head the second I saw I was 252 pounds again and which I assume was mourning the loss of my lost pound:

Bonus photo of Mr Bunches in his Spongebo hat and inner tube:

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Sitting, fast (Project 190, Day Twenty-three)

The important thing, when you're biking outside, is to always keep pedaling.

And to have air in your tires. 

I went biking outside today, on the bike Sweetie gave me years ago for Christmas but which I haven't used in probably four years; it's been sitting in our garage that entire time, building up cobwebs and leaking air from the tires, unused, until I finally decided today that I was going to mix outdoor biking into Project 190.

I gave up outdoor, nonexercycle, biking, about four years ago because too much biking can be bad for the back and bad for the parts where bikers sit, and I had a bad back at the time -- the result of thinking I could cross a bunch of floating pads using a cargo net to hang from at a water park. (I couldn't.)

But today, I decided to bring it back, for a few reasons.

First, I wasn't able to get up and bike before work today; I had a hearing in Antigo, Wisconsin, which is about 3 hours, 20 minutes away, and the hearing was at 9:00 a.m., so I opted to not get up at 4:00 a.m. to work out prior to driving for 7 hours in a single day.

"I'll just work out when I get home," I said, forgetting that "work out when I get home" isn't something I really do; "work out when I get home" is code for "not working out at all but really just watching Workaholics and eating Kinda Healthy Snack Mix," because when I get home from work I haven't seen Mr F and Mr Bunches and Sweetie all day and I want to talk to them and spend time with them and so I put off working out until the boys are in bed and then I'm too tired (lazy) to go do it.

That was kind of what was happening today; I got home at 1:15 or so, early enough that I was able to go to pick up the boys from their all-day therapy at 2.  The plan was that I would take the boys with me to the club, where I would try to get Mr F to go to the playroom before swimming, and would work out, then take them swimming.

That hasn't worked the last three times we went to the club.  Mr F no longer wants to go to the playroom before swimming, and so the last three times we went, I took the boys swimming while Sweetie worked out, and then I worked out later.

So I had a backup plan: If the boys wouldn't go to the playroom, I'd take them swimming, and then come home, drop them off, and go back to work out.

Only (A) I knew that Mr F was never going to go to the playroom, and (B) when we picked them up from therapy (which we call "camp") Mr Bunches said:

"Baseball at Walmart?"

Referring to my promise to him that we would go this week and get him a baseball bat and glove and ball and that he could then take them to the baseball field where I would teach him to play baseball.  I'd promised that Sunday, but had to work late on Monday and Tuesday and so we hadn't gone.  Yet.

"Sure," I told him.

So the plan was then (1) Baseball at Walmart, (2) go to "Little Park" (all of the places we go have particular code names and "Little Park" was where the baseball field is.  It's not "Little," at all, but on the day we went there and named it, I thought Mr Bunches wanted to go to the park that is little, and so I said "You want to go to Little Park?" and he said "Uh-huh," but then directed me to the park that has the baseball field, which we now call Little Park."  (3) Play baseball, then play at Little Park, (4) go to the health club and hope they go into the playroom and if not, etc. etc.

I had at that point figured I was going to have to steel myself to go workout at 9 p.m. to make sure I didn't miss a day, but we had to go home to get money to go to Walmart (I didn't have my wallet) and so I was able to unload Mr Bunches and Mr F for a few minutes while they had a snack, and I saw my old bike sitting in the garage.

I hefted it up.

I thought "I bet it just needs air in the tires," and I made a decision to go biking right now, outdoors.  With Mr F's help, I loaded the bike into my car, found a gas station that had an air pump, realized that I didn't have a dollar in quarters to pay for the air pump (when did we start having to pay for air? This is America!) and then found a gas station that had free air...

...the gas station I once sued for not fixing my car right and so I felt a little guilty,  using their air...

...and got my tires pumped up and went riding.

The world threw one last hitch at me: before I left, leaving Sweetie in charge and promising to take the boys after my exercise, Mr F came up to me, sad-eyed, and tried to get me to not leave.

"I'll be back in an hour," I said, and he ran away, holding my watch, to cover his head so he wouldn't see me leave.

Thus fortified with guilt, I got the air in my tires and went riding around the nature trail of the Pheasant Branch Reserve - - the same trails I jog, outside. 

Biking outside is harder than fake biking the same way jogging outside is harder than running on a treadmill.  There's wind resistance, and there are hills and there's also the fact that I have become very timid as a biker: I used to be able to ride no-handed easily, a nice trick to help rest your back and avoid leaning over, but today the few times I tried it the bike wobbled and I lost my nerve.  Then, too, the hills and curves seemed steeper and sharper and dangerous-er than I remembered.

But I remembered to always pedal, even downhills.  As I said to The Boy once when we were biking: "If you're not pedaling, it's not exercise.  It's just sitting, fast.

And I made it around the entire loop of my jogging trail, plus up a big hill and down another trail, in 27 minutes, seeing only a few other people the entire time, because it was, after all, 3:00 p.m. on a weekday and not many people were able to not be at work and instead be bombing around a nature trail on their old bike.

Also: we did get the baseball, and the bat, and the gloves, and a hat for each of the boys (Mr Bunches got a Spongebob Pirate baseball hat.  Not the Pittsburgh Pirates: Spongebob with an eyepatch.  Mr F got an Avengers baseball hat.)  And we went and played baseball, and we built a sand castle, and we watched part of a Little League game, and we played chase on the slides, and we came home and now we're going to watch Up for a while before bed.

And Mr F's guilt trip?  When I got home from biking, he came up to me and I said to Sweetie "Did he miss me? Was he sad the whole time?"

"No," she said.  "He played."

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Plus, I did some fist-pumping. (Project 190, Day Twenty-One)

There was some mist in the lower marshy parts of the trail.  That was a sign.

There were two cranes walking through the field by the hill. That was a sign, too.

I got that feeling I get when Jesus reminds me that he's always there helping me.  That was definitely a sign.

As I jogged past the three ladies coming the other way, I wanted to tell them watch me run up this hill.

As I hit the bottom of the hill, I thought It's not important how fast you go; what is important is that you run this hill.

As I jogged past the 1/3 marker on the hill, I whispered to myself Come on you're going to do this.

As I hit the halfway point, I said outloud You got this.  You got this

As I hit the top of the hill I raised my arms in victory and said "YES!"


Today's workout: Running outside, 21 minutes.
Latest weight: 251.
Song that I listened to at the start and the end of the run and which hit the good part right as I needed it:

Sweet Talk Sweet Talk The New Pornographers.

Monday, July 30, 2012

And now for something I think you'll really enjoy.


I don't usually like to not talk about me, but I'm breaking that rule for a second to talk about frequent commenter/great author Andrew Leon.

Andrew, whose book The House On The Corner is sensational, has released a new short story, Shadow Spinner:

Tiberius thinks he's just a normal boy with an abnormal fear of shadows. Well, that's what he thinks until his mother tells him the truth about his father. But that's crazy talk, right? Maybe, his mother is more unhinged than he thought.

What's great about this is not just that it's by Andrew Leon and so you know it's worth reading, but also that Andrew has for some reason made it FREE.

Why?  I don't know.  Maybe he hates capitalism. Or is independently wealthy.  Or he's crazy. Or whatever: His story is FREE and you can therefore read a great short story on your e-reader all for FREE!

Here's the link for Shadow Spinner! So this literally could not be easier for you: Click the link, get a free story.  (You'll have to click one more time but you'd do it if it was for a cute picture of a kitten, wouldn't you? Well, this is the cute-kitten-picture of short stories by Andrew Leon.)

(No, I don't know what that means.)


As I get fitter, I get crankier. (Project 190, Day Twenty-One)

I hit my swimming goal today: Twenty minutes, solid, of swimming, so in just three weeks I went from not being able to swim for more than 13 minutes to now doing twenty minutes and I probably could have done a little more but I was pretty annoyed at (A) the world (B) Heavy Breathing Guy and (C) all the people who made me swim in the lap pool because the fact that I swam in the lap pool twice in a row now means that I pretty much have to do that all the time, based on the way my mind works.

I was only going to go 27 laps today, but at the end of lap 27, I looked up at the clock, quick, and I was on 19:40, and so I did the 28th lap, to push it above 20 minutes, because if you're not working out for 20 minutes, you're not really working out.  It takes 10 minutes for the body to realize that leftover pizza it stored over the weekend has to be shared, another 8 to find it (it's hidden behind the spleen) and then 2 minutes to distribute it evenly over the rest of the body.

I had to swim in the lap pool because the sport pool, which had always been my first choice, had something called "Deep Water" going on, and whatever it was, it looked a lot like that old game Red Light Green Light only played by old ladies carrying those little styrofoam barbells that the lifeguards never let us play with.

The outdoor pool had those same two old ladies as last time, just walking around, and it's a narrow enough pool that I didn't want to try to share it because I don't want to have to talk to people or interact with them in any way, ever, let alone at 6:00 a.m. on a morning when the coffeepot malfunctioned because the filter-thing wasn't in far enough, so the coffee overflowed and I had to clean it up and didn't get coffee AND IT WAS THE LAST OF MY COFFEE BECAUSE WE'RE OUT, so I went to the warm water pool where I saw the same two women who had been vigorously debating the weather last time, this time joined by some guy who also was just standing there.

Question: Who gets up before 6:00 a.m. to go stand in a pool?

But they were, they were just standing, not swimming, not moving, and they were spaced evenly so that it was impossible for me to create a lane to swim, and there were no lane markers.  Here is how they were set up:

That is a to-scale drawing of the warm water pool.  The lower left is the stairs where you enter.  The two people in the upper left are the women, and the lower right is the man, and I've captured exactly the impression they made.

They were talking, as I walked into the pool, about the "North Side," which is many Madisonian's idea of a "bad neighborhood," in that someone died there once.  Having lived in Milwaukee and Washington, D.C., I don't think the "North Side" is particularly a bad area, although it's a little rundown.

The guy (Lower Right) was saying how sometimes they will have a shooting

[Once, I thought as I was walking over to the stairs and overheard him.  Once there was a shooting]

and he said:

"You know what's really scary? When the detectives go to the funeral, you know, to see if the killer shows up."

I was getting in the water, then, and thought "Oh, so you've seen an episode of Law & Order."

Then the guy said: "That happened to us once," at which point I was in the water and I practically exploded because I was realizing that there was no lane to swim in because of how they were spaced out, and I had the choice of asking him to move over and let me swim, or leaving, and I knew if I was going to talk I was going to say "That NEVER happened to you you never had anybody murdered and had the detectives come to the funeral you are a 40-ish guy in wire-rimmed glasses who lives in Middleton and probably the most exciting thing that ever happened to you is that time you thought you saw a bobcat in the backyard and I've got to tell you, John, it was the neighbor's dog."

So I got out and went and swam in the lap pool.

Today's workout: Swimming, 28 laps, 20:20.
Latest weight: 251.
Song that might have helped me be in a better mood if I'd had time to listen to it before working out:

Love Today, Mika.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

It's the only logical explanation. (Project 190, Day TWENTY)

This morning, writing down my exercise on The Great List Of Exercises, I noticed that the date, according to The Great List, was 7/28.

But the date, according to everything else in the Universe, was 7/29.

So I said to Sweetie "What's the date today?" and agreeing with the Universe and Everything In It, she said "The 29th," causing me to think I missed a day of working out, that somewhere along the line an entire day had gone by and I hadn't exercised that day.

Which is not impossible, for me; it's entirely possible that I would have forgotten to work out for a day and not even known it.  I've forgotten worse, or better.  Whatever.

I realized, after some investigation, the apparent problem, which was that I had written down an exercise on 7/22, and then the next day blithely recorded the exercise that day as taking place on 7/22, also, and moved on from there, so I corrected that on the Great List, and then sat down to post this, and realized that my day count was off, as yesterday I said it was Day Eighteen when it was Day Nineteen and I'm not even going to go correct the record, now.  It's Day Twenty and that's it.

Note that I said apparent problem, because officially, I am telling people that I simply wrote the wrong date down and/or miscounted, but judging from the evidence this morning, here's what I can say with certainty:

Somehow, I experienced July 22nd twice and missed another day completely. 

I blame Higgs Bosons.

Today's workout:  Biking, 30 minutes, level two.
 Latest Weight:  251.
Song that I listened to while Biking and Watching Biking In The Olympics On TV and also playing a game on my Kindle Fire that Mr Bunches downloaded late Friday night since apparently he can figure out how to buy apps on my Kindle now, it's probably all part of that space/time warp that resulted in me missing a day:

Flight 180, Bishop Allen:



SUNDAYS SUNDAYS SUNDAYS is new; each week I'll feature, on all my blogs, the latest post from one of my blogs.

Today's is the latest from Lesbian Zombies Are Taking Over The World!, an ongoing sci-fi/erotic/serial/humor/something/something else/etc. story that follows Rachel, who was just a waitress in New York, kind of, until her Octopus told her to walk South.  There, she fell in love with Brigitte, got attacked by demons from Hell, kidnapped by tiny bubbles, and eventually found out that she might be not only the Queen of The Lesbian Zombies, but also the key to deciding who's going to win in the Battle of 73 Dimensions and open up Heaven.

Your typical story, in other words.  Here's the latest installment:

* * * * *

Part 22D: You know what this story needs? ANOTHER RACHEL.

Things like is Rachel okay and let's get the hell outta here and back to Valhalla go right out of my mind and I stare at the Mosaic, as do the Valkyries and Target A, who has this gray, pale look about him but I don't notice much because seriously, this Mosaic thing talked.

"Free me," it says now, and we all look at each other, Czaranya and me and the other Valkyrie, but Target A is just shaking and drooling and Rachel is lying there woozily.

"From... um... from what?" I ask, taking the lead.

There is a shimmer in the golden squares that make up the Mosaic and it sort of ripples and shudders a little.

"From this wall," it says.

I have been looking more closely at it and I've realized it's made up of little squares and that the squares are chips, like the kind that are put in people.  Not even like the kind that are put in people. They are the kind that are put in people, on Earth, to let them Share, which is sort of like telepathy but not, as I understand it.

"Who are you?" I ask the Mosaic.

"I'm Rachel," it says.

I look down at Rachel, and think another one?  That's kind of a natural thought, maybe, when you are one of perhaps thousands of clones of one woman, and your whole life has been geared towards proving you are the best of those thousands and then the one that you are the clone of shows up suddenly and not only do you not mind that she's there and you might just have become totally irrelevant but you also fall in love with her.

There's a lot of Rachel's, is my point.

"You are not," Czaranya says, and her frown tells me she's been trying to communicate with the thing telepathically but had to speak. Valkyries hate talking.  Czaranya points to the Rachel on the ground, the one I'm kneeling over.  "That is Rachel."

"I am Rachel," the Mosaic says.  Then a shimmery thing happens and it says "I am Sonja."  The shimmer, again, and "I am Darlene."  Shimmer: "Angela." Shimmer: "Doris."

Now I'm backing away a little as the shimmers get faster and the names get faster, each one said in a different voice, each one clearly a different person:  "LisaJenniferRebeccaAlisonBreeAshleyKellyGretchenAlyssaKaren" it is going on and then there is a flash of light from all of them and it says

"I am Rachel" and things seem to calm down.

For the moment.

"What are you?" I ask.

"I am Rachel," it says.

Target A suddenly wails "It's true! They were all trapped and it's true!" and he goes even more pale and makes a gurgle sound and lunges at the cabinet, trying to I think close it up but Czaranya elbows into him and he falls to the side, clutching at the cabinet door.  The cabinet itself starts to fall forward towards Czaranya and she pulls back but it falls down onto her, trapping her halfway underneath it.  It's nothing for her, I'm not worried about her because the cabinet is really light and the fact that it fell on Czaranya means that it didn't fall directly on Rachel, who was just starting to sit up.

Then a bunch of things happen.  Czaranya starts to lift the cabinet off of her, but Target A is trying to get at it, too, and there's a glow of light from underneath it as Czaranya lifts it up and as I start to try to see if Rachel is okay, she's rolling away from the cabinet and towards Czaranya.  Before I realize what's happened, Rachel has grabbed Czaranya's spear and has pulled it towards her, the spear crackling with the energy that's supposed to kill anyone who's not a Valkyrie but dares to touch it, and the energy is dancing all over Rachel's body and making this fierce acrid smoke.

"Rachel!" I yell.  "Let it go!"

But she doesn't, and she turns the spear head towards the Mosaic, touches it, and the energy leaps through the gridwork pattern and crackles around it and there is an explosion.  The cabinet is gone, and standing before us is an identical copy of Rachel, only instead of Rachel, or even me, she's basically this woman that looks like us, exactly, only she's made entirely of gold, and her skin is patterned in a tiny grid of golden squares, all over, making her look like a golden mirror ball that has been stretched into a beautiful woman's shape, and her eyes are dark and hollow, and her hair, somehow, is both golden and flowing and slinky and also made of tiny little squares, too.

"I am Rachel," she says again.

We're all just sort of staring there, and Rachel's still holding the spear, which is going nuts, there are blue and gold bolts of energy just arcing around the entire room, and Target A has to duck for it and crawl away, and the horse is backing out and Czaranya, I see, reaches for the spear but then Rachel-Mosaic raises her hands and says


and they are gone:



the spear,

and Czaranya, and the other Valkyrie who I didn't even know her name.

It's just me and Target A.

We stare at each other in the dim light of the workshop for a second, the stench of dead bodies and energy and fighting clouding our senses.

Then, the horse sticks his head in the door and says "I think you better see this."

Want to read more? Click here to go to the story online, at the beginning.

Or click HERE to go to Scribd and download the entire story for free!