Friday, March 25, 2011

Marathon curse

Well, last year, I had several issues --

1) what to eat? (Didn't matter, definitely had digestive issues even
before the race)

2) Which shoes? I went with the older new balances, they were probably
a good choice.

3) Knee brace or not? I'd started having knee pain a week before the
marathon. I used it, it was a good choice, so much so that I was
half-tempted to keep using it even after my knee was fine.

This year, they've added logistical stress (the metro opens an hour
before the race starts -- not nearly enough time to get there and even
think of stretching or using a nasty ass runners' portapotty. And

1) What to wear? It's going to be cold, but every time I decide I'm
going with something, the forecast changes. I was planning on pants
and long sleeves since it was supposed to be 34, wind chill of 29. Now
it's supposed to be 39. Ugh. Shorts, I guess? I've done that before
(at least for a drizzly awful half)

2) Shoes? The stress fracture has me concerned, though even that
doesn't actually give me an answer, since it's split whether it's worn
out shoes that are worse or newer shoes (in this case, shoes that
haven't ever been worn off the treadmill). I'm going newer, there's
some rough terrain on this course.

3) What kind of pace can I handle? This I'll never know. Most
legitimate runners can tell their speed, they know their pace, what it
feels like. I run on treadmills all the time, I have no clue. I don't
know how fast I'm going, I don't know whether that corresponds to how
winded/tired I get (it usually doesn't, unless I'm trying for real
speed -- 5ks under about 19:40, 6 minute miles, etc.)

4) Can I go from crippled to marathon in three months? I damn well
better. Otherwise, tomorrow's going to be a long stroll in Anacostia,
because I know I can go 18 miles.

These things aren't rational, I know that. But it's a rare opportunity
to learn things about yourself. And it's a rare chance to really
prove things to myself. Let's just hope I prove myself right.

Sent from my mobile device

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Well, let's just say it's not a bestseller.

So I bought The Baseball Project's new album, vol. 2: High and Inside today on amazon mp3. I'd gotten their first album from the Bear Public Library and found it was pretty much ideally suited for me, with a couple songs that were among my favorites because they mixed good melodies with lyrics that were both witty and informed like, for instance, Harvey Haddix, which includes the name of every pitcher who's ever thrown a perfect game and included more than a dose of baseball trivia (like, for instance, mentioning the origins of Yo La Tengo, Denny McLain, and Minnie Minoso in a song.

So it's clearly aimed at me.

Perhaps with more laser-guided precision than I anticipated, though. I bought it on amazon mp3, and amazon was so helpful as to tell me "Customers who bought this music also bought:" and three of the seven things identified were things that I owned. Now, given that Peter Buck is in The Baseball Project, it would only make sense that it'd be R.E.M. albums, etc. Hell, Ben Gibbard and Craig Finn guest on the album, so obviously Death Cab for Cutie and The Hold Steady will be on the short list.


1) Old 97's: The Grand Theater, volume 1

Ok -- well, clearly the person who bought both these just bought everything that had a volume number on it. I expect that World Book Encyclopedia, volume "L" will be next.

2) Mumford and Sons - Dharohar Project

Ok, given that Mumford and Sons would be playing in my own personal Abu Ghraib prison, I think this "same word appears in both things" might be the key here. The word project appears in both. Alan Parsons, you're next.

3) The King is Dead - The Decemberists

Well, that is actually the last thing I bought from amazon mp3. Odd. The two will not be appearing on the same pandora radio station ever, but fair enough, they're both hyper-literate dork music.

4) The Old 97's - Mimeograph (EP)

Uh, really? So, of the 7 things listed, I own 3 and bought all of them from amazon mp3, and I doubt that two of them sold more than say, 500 copies.

5) Blessed - Lucinda Williams

Yeah, so in other words, no one has ever bought this before.

6) Going Out in Style - Dropkick Murphys

This one makes a modicum of sense, they're uber-Boston-y, I've read that this album is very Red Sox heavy.

7) Bella - Teddy Thompson

I don't know who this is.

How Terry Cashman didn't appear on this list is beyond me. But I suppose I bought "One Stop Along the Way (the Ballad of Johnny Bench)" from ITunes. So that must be why.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Stamford died this morning. I know it's for the best, but I miss my friend, even in his worst state. I just wish I had his ability to take an awful situation and find positives in it. He lived more than 15% of his life shut in our bathroom because he couldn't control his back half and use the litter box, but up until Sunday, if I went in, he would 1) make a spirited effort to escape and then 2) start purring as if there wasn't a happier cat in the world.

There was so much wrong with the whole process. I'm furious with the veterinarian's office, who failed to give us test results last week when they were supposed to, failed to respond to six phone calls and two emails trying to get them this week, and then when I just drove in person to confront them (and took Stamford with, knowing that at this point, it made no difference what the results were), they assured me someone had called Sarah's phone on Tuesday and left a message. That message? That there was a problem with the blood work and they needed to draw blood again. So despite the purpose of this test being to ensure there wasn't a non-FIP cause, something that could be eliminated (if not reversed), they allowed his condition to get exponentially worse so that even if they found he was just absolutely laden with parasites, I'd have had a hard time not going forward.

Not only did they not call with the "we screwed up" news, but then today, they took him away to sedate him and put in the catheter and it took so long that by the time he got back to us, we think he had already died from the sedative alone. We don't know for certain, but either way, it's just frustrating. They sent in a vet tech to tell us he was very riled up and that's why it was taking so long -- but he hasn't been riled up in days -- and if he were, I'm not sure how you'd tell, given that he had no use at all of the back half of his body and wasn't particularly strong with the front end anymore. Each night this week, I felt like there was at least a 50-50 chance he wouldn't live through the night -- and had reached the point that I sincerely hoped he wouldn't, so he could end his suffering without me having to be the one responsible for his death.

The other cats weren't upset with me when I got home -- I expected them to find the return of the empty carrier concerning, but they seemed more concerned for me. Now, I wonder if Stubbs expects to see his brother, as he's spent all day and night in the window looking out, but it may just be that the weather is nice.

I know this is going to be hard for me, I'm not particularly gifted at dealing with anything sad, but I think the saddest thing for me is that I don't know of anything that shows that we had Stamford. Now that I've cleaned the bathroom, it's like he never existed. There's nothing left of Stamford's short life but a Christmas stocking, a white towel that got put in his carrier after one of his vet visits (because he'd peed in the carrier on the way over there), and precious few pictures (the result of me being lazy and never having reason to know it'd be over so quick). I don't know why it matters, I certainly am not going to forget him, but it upsets me.

I now promise to move on to posting vapid shit in the near future to satisfy the whims of all 10 people who ever stumble across this.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's ending soon.

Stamford is going to die by no later than Friday. Just typing that kills me, but it's true -- my most fervent wish is that he'll die sometime in the next day or two so I won't have to play a part in it, but I know it will come to that. When we got back from New York (by way of Delaware, where we moved the last of my possessions from my apartment of five years into storage), he'd lost all remaining use of his back legs and couldn't even balance to stand up. This morning he was having trouble even propping his front end up.  He's fought for a long time, far longer than anyone thought he could, but it would require a miraculous and lengthy history of wanton malpractice to save him now (meaning that the vet would have to notice that they'd just missed something in test after test after test and he'd been completely curable with a shot or a pill all along).  Having called around to pet cemeteries, it doesn't seem I can bury him for under $3,000. (This only adds to the frustration we've experienced on the house search -- we put an offer in a week ago that was over asking price and didn't even get a call back to tell us it was rejected for another offer.)

So I'm not sure what to do. I don't believe in cremation. I think the idea is absolutely awful and I recoil at the thought, but I also have no place to bury him and even I can't justify spending $3,000 for such a place just because of my irrational fear of cremation (this should be noted by anyone ever making funeral arrangements for me -- although I respect that my first choice -- being placed in a glass tube like Lenin -- is probably out of the question for me, cremation ought not appear in your playbook). Part of me wonders if I could just go deep into Rock Creek Park and find someplace, but I have no doubt I'd manage to compound my current miseries by getting arrested for doing so.  So I'm out of ideas and can barely hold it together to get through the week anyway.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lists: Sporting Venues

The end of March can't come soon enough. March has been a month of missed opportunities and general frustrations.  Plus, the end of March means baseball, which is a major plus. I have tickets to the Opening Day game in Washington on March 31, then the next morning I'm flying to Chicago to go to Wrigley Field on Opening Day, and then Monday I'm flying back into BWI, which puts me in Baltimore in time for the Orioles' home opener on April 4. So, in all, three games in five days in three cities. Admittedly, I've done this before -- in 2008, I was at the first ever game at Nationals Park, then saw the Nationals playing in Philadelphia the next day and then went to the Orioles' second game the next day, but this crosses another stadium off the list in Wrigley Field.

I don't know whether I'll get to all 30, but it's definitely something I keep in mind when I make travel plans. I'm actually more alarmed at the number of non-MLB venues that I've made it to, considering that my level of interest is so emphatically lower. Hell, I've been to two MLS stadiums.  So here's the list, with the disclaimer that I only count a venue at which I've seen the home team playing a game (for instance, although I've attended concerts and Wizards games at the Verizon Center, I've not seen the Caps, so for NHL purposes, I've never been there). I'm organizing them in order of frequency of attendance.

Thus far:
Philadelphia - Citizens Bank Park (more than 40)
Washington - Nationals Ballpark (about 10?)
Cleveland - Progressive Field (5)
Kansas City - Kauffman Stadium (probably about 5)
Boston - Fenway Park (2)
Cincinnati - Great American Ballpark (2)
Colorado - Coors Field (1)*
New York Mets - Citi Field (1)
New York Yankees - Yankee Stadium (new) (1)
Pittsburgh - PNC Park (1)
Detroit - Comerica Park (1) (added 6/30)
Chicago - Wrigley Field (1) (added 4/1)
Toronto - Rogers Centre (1) (added 7/1)

Former MLB:
Cincinnati - Riverfront (12?)
Washington - RFK (1)

Philadelphia - PPL Park (2)
New York - Red Bull Stadium (1)
Washington - RFK Stadium (1) (added 6/11)

Philadelphia - Wells Fargo Center (probably about 10)
Washington - Verizon Center (2)
Denver - Pepsi Center (1)


Baltimore - M&T Bank Stadium (1)
Cincinnati - Paul Brown Stadium (1)

Philadelphia - Wells Fargo Center (at least 5, probably more)
Buffalo - HSBC Arena (1)
Colorado - Pepsi Center (1)
Columbus - Nationwide Arena (1)
Los Angeles - Staples Center (1)
Washington - Verizon Center (1) (added in April)

Chelsea - Stamford Bridge (1)
Fulham - Craven Cottage (1)

Coors Field gets asterisked because it was pouring rain and we only stayed for a couple of innings (the game was ultimately rained out after 6, it ought never have started, if I'm willing to leave a game because of weather, it's safe to say you are not experiencing conditions in which a sporting event should not be played).

Favorite sporting venue (venue itself): Fenway Park. It's the kind of stadium in which baseball should be played. Yes, there are obstructed views left and right, but it's intimate, it's ramshackle, and it's charming. It's the antithesis of Yankee Stadium, which is my least favorite sporting venue (and not by a small margin).
Favorite sporting venue (culinary): Progressive Field wins. The food is actually nothing special, Cleveland doesn't exactly have a local cuisine that begs for a prominent role at the ballpark. But they have two things no ballpark should be without -- brown mustard and quality local beers. And it just happens that Cleveland has Great Lakes Brewing Company beer in the center field batter's eye pavilion, which is my favorite. So long as you're there at midseason, everything is at its best (my experiences with the opening day cooking were underwhelming). (Rogers Centre wins some major points for their BBQ Chicken nachos and Alexander Keith's, though the absence of any other Canadian beers is disappointing).
Favorite sporting venue (gameday experience): I love PPL park. You can tailgate right outside the stadium, the food and the beer selections inside are astonishing, the only bad seats are those that are reserved for the Sons of Ben anyway, so you're safe with anything else.

I'm not sure what my next stop is as far as stadiums that I really want to see. I should make it to Madison Square Garden for a Knicks or Rangers game someday, but after Wrigley, Dodger Stadium is really the only other stadium I think of as a must-see. If I were an NFL fan, obviously Lambeau Field would top the list, but football stadiums lack any sort of significance, they're just functional.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Jimmer Fredette insists he has been suspended from BYU basketball team

PROVO - As reports circulated that Brandon Davies had been suspended from Brigham Young's basketball program for having premarital sex with his girlfriend, NCAA scoring leader and BYU guard Jimmer Fredette insisted that he, too, was facing any number of potential suspensions and would likely be kicked off BYU's team and stricken from its record books.

"I'm not proud of what I've done, but with my brother Brandon suspended for his disregard for the moral code, I would be a hypocrite if I continued to play for BYU," Fredette said, adding "I can't go into detail, but I have indulged in a great many suspendable offenses."

BYU's honor code requires that students must remain "chaste and virtuous."  When pressed for details on how he failed to live up to this honor code, Fredette hesitated.

"Obviously, I'm extremely embarrassed to let my teammates down and we all make mistakes, so I don't know if I should say anything. It was, I mean...they...they were all pretty hot.  You know how, uh, when you grab a woman's breast... it feels like... a bag of sand?" Fredette added.

Fredette was quick to add that he was embarrassed about his numerous offenses, but could hardly be blamed, because he'd fallen under the influence of a hard lifestyle.

"All the women, they were really hot.  But I can barely remember it, because I had drank so much.  I was drinking a case of O'Doul's like every night.  And I was, uh, mixing vodka in with my Caprisun.  Sometimes it's hard though, it's hard to get the straw in the pouch when you're so hammered," Fredette insisted.

Despite Fredette's insistence that he faces myriad disciplinary actions, BYU has not announced any suspensions for Fredette.  Indeed, BYU basketball coach Dave Rose denied that Fredette faced any suspension.

"Everybody who comes to BYU, every student if they're an athlete or not an athlete, they make a commitment when they come.  A lot of people try to judge if this is right or wrong, but it's a commitment they make. It's not about right or wrong. It's about commitment. Jimmer's shown that commitment.  He's a model player and a role model, I haven't even seen him look at a can of Coke in his four years here. And girls? Whee golly. Let's just say it's a good thing he's scoring a lot on the court," Rose said.

Rose expected no disciplinary action would be needed toward Fredette.

"And he calls himself Jimmer. He's got a real name, a name that's at least pubescent, and he calls himself Jimmer. Yeah, I think if the NCAA would allow it, he'd be able to play for BYU for another decade or more," Rose said.

KU forward reinstated after triple murder

In other college basketball news, University of Kansas forward Blake Cole was reinstated to the team after Coach Bill Self concluded that the triple murder to which Cole confessed Thursday did not violate KU's honor code for athletes.