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Archive for September, 2010

End of week one.  Weighed in, down 2 lbs.  Morning at the gym – 5K (3.1 miles) 44:57.  Roughly 15 minutes per mile, but the first minute I walk (so the first mile is the slowest); finished mile two at 30 minutes and the last mile and one tenth for the difference.  Slightly faster for each mile…  Progress…  Slowly, slowly.
Drank 32 ounces of water during and immediately after the workout.  No call from the doctor, yet.  No heart palps today!!  Hopefully, it was all just a passing phase.
Oh, and another “no-sock” jog in the test shoes (Body Glove Triton Socks).  Slightly longer duration and distance – with no noticeable discomfort (toe-curling).  It looks like I will be able to finish the evaluation afterall.
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Last night Hil was watching Larry King interview Bob Woodward about his new book: “Obama’s Wars“.  Even though I don’t normally watch “puff-piece” quasi-journalistic interviews, I sat down, because I’ve read several of Woodward’s books.
The most interesting (damning) thing I heard during the hour was the claim that President Obama attended a meeting with his Secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs expecting to get several options for Afghanistan and was only given one.  The President stated having only one option was unacceptable and Secretary Gates replied (something to the effect): “Yeah, we owe you one there.”
The option provided – to increase troops – was ultimately adopted.
What I have to ask is – why was Gates not asked immediately for his resignation and the head of the Joint Chiefs given one week to formally (and personally) present at least two additional options?
Basically, we are talking about insubordination by the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs.
They knew what was requested and they appear to have chosen NOT to perform their duties.  There is nothing at all wrong with disagreeing with policy, but when you are in command and you honestly feel you cannot fulfill or comply with the orders you have been given, the only honorable course of action is for you tender your resignation.
In the United States of America, the elected government (the President) is the superior command authority of the military.  The Joint Chiefs willful attempt to corner the President in the decision making process of an active conflict is the grossest form of misconduct and they should be ashamed of themselves.
If this story is true, this book will be a future case study at the military academies (and at civilian universities) as to how senior officers can fail in their service to a democratic society.
Needless to say, it staggers me to think of this group of men who have “dedicated” their lives to the service of their country can so fundamentally misunderstand the nature and role of the military in the history of the United States.
I put this on a par with the insubordination shown Lincoln (by McClellan) during the Civil War and MacArthur’s actions towards Truman during the Korean Conflict.
My mind has drifted back to this topic several times today…
When I got home from work, I went into the bedroom to change and there was a bag on my pillow.  Inside was a present…  A book!
Bob Woodward’s “Obama’s War“, with a note from my Hil saying,
Dear Kev,
Thought you would like spending time reading this book.  So I got if for you.
Love Always,
Hil”
Small, frequent acts of personal thoughtfulness and kindness… towards me (and others).  That’s why I love her!
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Just because one can never have enough photos of your wife and yourself on the web, here’s another…
Sunset at Crater Lake - Hil & Me

Sunset at Crater Lake – Hil & Me

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Personal mortality…
Huh?
Slowly realizing you’re at the edge and looking over…
Last Friday, I started feeling a pain in my upper left chest.  It came and it went.  Now, I’ve been on heart meds for almost four years, so some of this you just take in stride.  I did my normal workout in the morning and was feeling ok – except for the twinges…
Saturday, I worked over time and was a little sore in the chest again.  It was a “used muscle” soreness, not a sharp pain soreness.  Anyway, late afternoon I also started getting solid palpitations.  My doc has told me in the past I’m “hyper-aware” and I don’t need to be concerned about palps unless they also come with other symptoms.  Well, there’s “aware” and there’s “My bloody heart is thumpin’ out the base of my throat!”  A couple of times, it was the latter.
But, otherwise, I feel pretty good.
Sunday morning, I can’t sleep so I get up to go for a slow jog.  I haven’t decided how long, just a slow one.  I’m going to let the jog tell me how long…  In the end, I’m out 2 hrs 20 min – about 8 miles.  I actually got up later than I wanted to and hoped to go a full 3 hrs, but the heat was starting to come up and I needed to get back to get ready for 12:00 Mass.
I mention the chest soreness and palps to Hil and she wants me to go the ER.  I really don’t think it’s that bad.  (In fact, later I’m blogging about trying to do 55 miles this week!).  My blood pressure cuff is saying everything is normal, so I agree if it’s still acting up at work I’ll go talk to the nurse or call the cardiologist.
Monday morning and the soreness is mostly gone, but it’s a bit tight when I try to inhale strongly.  I go for a 4 mile/hour at the gym.  I forgot my water bottle and I’m poring with sweat.  I don’t quite make the four miles per hour.  Every time I try to speed up, it feels like I’ve got a flak vest on weighing down my upper chest.  It doesn’t hurt, it’s just uncomfortable.
I have a cardiac chest strap on.  I don’t usually wear it, but today I decide to be a little “extra” safe.  I’m just slogging along and about every minute my pulse drops from 110-115 to 55.  Most of the times, it only sits there for 5 seconds or less, but one time it’s sitting there for over 30 seconds before jumping up to 110.
Shower and troop over to the desk.  I get up to go help someone and it feels like someone’s starting to cinch a belt around my chest and a set of strong palps starts.  The cinching and palps stop within seconds but I decide to go visit the nurse.  She advises me to call my cardiologist and then go to the ER if he can’t see me.  There’s a lengthy delay between phone tag, but there’s no cinching.  The palps come and go, but very few are STRONG.
The doctor’s office calls me back about 2:30 and the doctor wants me to come in for a stress test.  I agree to come in the next day (Tues) at noon.  The nurse cautions me to go to the ER if the symptoms worsen.
The symptoms continue for the rest of the day and into the following morning.  I call in sick as I want to be near the ER if I suddenly worsen.  It doesn’t happen and I go to the stress test.
There’s been a change in how they are done since last time I went for one.  This time, they get you to your target heart range (this is the treadmill part) and then shoot you up with a radioactive isotope.  You sit under a machine which looks like something out of StarTrek and they take pictures of your heart/chest – looking for blockages.
They send me home with a 2nd appointment for today (Wed) and off I trot to relax at home for the rest of the day.
Got up today and it’s off to work!  No soreness.  No palps.  I go to the gym and do a slow 2 miles on the treadmill.  No pain.  No nothing.  At noon, I’m back at the doctor’s office for another shot of isotopes and another 20 minutes of film.  Then it’s back to the house to see if the doctor calls.  The nurse says he’ll call with the results within a week unless there is an emergency condition.
How comforting…
How do you mend a broken heart?  I guess, for now, I wait to see if it is.
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So, in my last post – on 27 September, I said the third shoe review was DOA. Well, I had second thoughts after wearing the shoes with no socks. Sure there is that initial “slimey” polyester feeling, but once you get past that the shoes were very comfortable. To make a longer story shorter, I decided to give them another shot, but without socks. Lo and behold, they didn’t curl my toes (painfully) and I managed to do 2 miles (about 30 minutes) done in them this morning.
I would say they are not as comfortable as the Ahnu’s – without socks – but they are ok, so I’m going to try to finish the test period.
As promised, here’s photo of the Triton’s sole with wear after only 6 miles. I’ve included the photo of a new sole, so you can see the difference. Because the soles are such a soft rubber, I doubt they will hold up thru normal (full 125 miles) review.
My Triton's with the soles "wear marked" at 6 miles.

My Triton’s with the soles “wear marked” at 6 miles.

Body Glove Triton Water Sock - bottom view

Body Glove Triton Water Sock – bottom view

Two points to make: they are, in fact, comfortable; and, at 1/3rd the price of the Ahnu’s and 1/10th the price of the Vibram’s FiveFingers, they really don’t have to last as long!
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First a quick note on the total miles on the 2nd pair – 56 miles.  Not quite half-way to the 125 I was hoping to do on each pair.  As an aside, I wore the shoes for work and they were extremely comfortable for the whole day – so it’s just the running in them that blisters my feet.
Ok.  Now, on to the third shoe review.  This will be one of the quickest in history.  The shoe is the Triton Water Sock, manufactured by Body Glove.  The retail is $19.99, but I got them at what seems to be the regular price of $12.99.  I say it’s the regular price because I’ve never seen them not at the “sale” price.  They can be had at Big 5 Sporting Goods.
The thing about this pair of shoes (which makes the review brief) is they don’t fit.  I checked out a site reviewing the shoe and it says it fits exactly as sized.  GONG!!  I am a size 12, but I normally wear a size 13 in most shoes because my feet like the extra room.  I’ll even go up to a 14 if the shoe feels narrow.
I tried these on with no socks at Big5 and they fit perfectly.  And they do…  As long as I’m only walking or sitting.  In fact, they are quite comfortable.  The problem is that nagging issue that I purchased them as “near barefoot running shoes”.  For that, they a fairly worthless.  They have a rounded front which makes them seem “toe-comfy”.  In reality, as soon as I began jogging my toes pressed into the front of the shoe and began curling and cramping.  The shoes (at Big5) don’t come in a larger size so these are walkers from here on out.
It’s a shame, because they felt really good walking into the building from my car in the morning.
This morning I did 4.39 miles in 70 minutes.  Another slow jog of medium duration.  I don’t think I could have taken much more of a pounding on my curled toes, though.
The shoes did not wear well.  I haven’t got a photo of the bottom yet so I’ll have to add one or two to the review later.  The basic wear was conventionally POSE/Chi-running, but the loss of tread was quite surprising for ONLY a little over 4 miles.  I seriously doubt the shoes would have made it 100 miles.  That’s not to say I’m marking them down (too much) for the soft soles – they are also what make the shoes so flexible and comfortably foot fitting.  In fact, wearing them to walk in reminded me of moccasins I once owned as a small child.
Anyway, I’ll add the photo of the wear later and just use these for kicking around – NO jogging.
The next pair up (number 4) is Hang Ten and are called the Belmont.  Same deal as before, purchased at Big5 and retailed at $14.99.  These were NOT on sale and I haven’t seen them on sale.  Everything goes on sale at Big5 eventually, so I’m sure if you wait ’em out, you can probably get a pair for a ten-ner.
As a courtesy, I’ve included a link to the Hang Ten web site, but don’t bother clicking thru – it’s CRAP!  On second thought, click thru – it’s good for a pathetic chuckle.  Considering they’ve been around for years and have made some really great stuff in their day – it’s sad…  Hopefully, the Belmonts are a lot better than the web site (that’s setting a pretty low bar).
For the record, test pair number one – the Ahnu’s are still the best of the three tested (although pricey at $40) so far.
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Abort!  Abort!  Abort!
Seriously, the first time I test wore the Speedo “Men’s Seaside Water Shoe”, I got a blister on the top of my foot.  I wasn’t wearing socks, so I gave that a skip as down to my bad…
I’ve worn the shoes pretty consistently on short runs – 2 miles to 10K and they’ve been ok.  Today, I wore them on a long, slow run (my second such in them) – two hours plus, and for the second time (on a two-hour plus jog) my right foot has blistered underneath!  Maybe, I can blame the socks.  Maybe, but I just don’t feel like it.  The review is over for these puppies!
I’m only at 55-60 miles on them, but stick the fork in – it’s done.  I’m attaching a photo of the bottoms so anyone who cares can see the wear pattern.

Wear pattern on bottom of shoes.

Wear pattern on bottom of shoes.

As you can see, the wear is on the outside of each mid-sole, rolling through the center of the ball, and then over the toe of both shoes.  Fairly classic wear pattern for POSE/Chi running.  Given the wear at just 50-ish miles, I doubt they would have lasted 125 to 150 miles.  Still, they were only $20; half the price of the Ahnu’s.
Final recommendation: I don’t recommend them for “almost” barefoot running.  They are NOT close to almost barefoot.  They are very comfortable for wearing around the office – VERY breathable shoes.  They are also comfortable for moderate walks – the crepe feel is different enough from regular shoes that they give your feet a different experience.  They are “supposed” to be water shoes.  Given you MUST wear socks with them, and wet socks are not comfortable for long days of wear – I can’t recommend them for their stated purpose.  Finally, my first thought was the top draw string was a great idea.  In fact, it does little to hold the shoe on.  Mud or current would easily suck the shoe off.  What it does do is make the shoe “feel” more snug across the arch of your foot while still easy to put on. VFFs tend to be either too snug or too loose to put on.  This kind of draw string would make a reasonable addition.
By the way, today’s jog was in the morning, 2 Hrs 20 Min and about 8 miles.  Like I said – long and slow.  Depending on how my time goes this week, I’m going to try for another 55 mile week.  It’s six months since my birthday and that was the week I last went that far.  I will try to get a chunk of it done at the gym, but I will have to cut back on reading, blogging and hunch.com to get even close.  I’m hoping today’s blister doesn’t end my effort before it’s started.
The two best things about mourning runs are the sky brightening and the birds singing.  The worst thing is the progressive increase in heat.
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Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)  —  movie review
I must admit I’ve really been looking forward to the release of this sequel.  I’ve only seen the original (maybe) three times in full, but everyone has seen Mike do Gekko, “Greed is good!” a million times.
I took along my youngest (Sarah), unfortunately – for her.
Visually, the movie was appealing to me in a TRON/PowerPoint kind of way.  Using the NY skyline as a backdrop for stock market ups and downs, and the roads as ticker runs was good.
Greed and excessive wealth were on display – but both lacked emotional appeal.  The characters kept saying “It’s not about the money”, when clearly, it was all about the money.  There were long, slow pans of skinny, tanned, bejeweled ladies and fat, mostly older, white guys.  …And lots of stiffs in suits.
I did enjoy the “finding family” aspects of the film even though they were not particularly believable, but then it’s entertainment not real life!!  I’ve not followed Shia LaBeouf before (other than Transformers), but I now think he can act.
I think the movie will reach a certain crowd – those who saw and understood the first movie and those who have followed (and understand) the economic problems of the last decade.  Unfortunately, I don’t believe there are very many folks in either group.
I think the liberals will vilify Stone (again) for not explaining the problems government (Bush and Obama) had or at least offering any evidence there were viable options.  Nothing but the bailout or economic collapse are given as options – black and white (binary) in a world of nuance.  I think the conservatives (and Tea Baggers) will vilify Stone (again) because he presents a harsh look at the new corporate greed – which is offered as FAR worse than individual greed (but doesn’t explain why).
The film is a lot of investment banking and Wall Street bashing, pure and simple.  I don’t have a big problem with that, per se, they are big boys who can take it, and they did screw up (and are continuing to do so).  The shortfall of the movie is it was a missed opportunity to be a learning moment: it could have said more about what happened, why it happened, why it was allowed to happen, and what were some of the other options (for future reference).
Sarah’s review – if the chairs were more comfortable, she’d have fallen asleep after about 20 minutes.  (From the mouths of babes…)
My recommendation: if you are one of those two groups mentioned above, or if you love Oliver Stone (hate the government, hate the rich, hate the corporations), you’ll probably enjoy this film.  As a film buff, I’ll wait for the X-mas twin pack to come out and re-watch them both.  (Life is hard for film nerds!)
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I was reading Wired magazine last month and they were telling folks about a new website named: www.hunch.com
It’s kind of a combination of Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Google, and a bunch of other social networking sites all rolled into one.
I signed up early this week and I must admit it is the most addictive web site I’ve been on in quite some time.  It is a complete time waster – but it feels good doing it.
Basically, you answer 20 questions and the system builds a psychological profile of you.  As you answer more questions, it fills out your profile.  You can add likes and dislikes (movies, books, authors, foods, TV shows, politics, ethics) to just about any topic and it uses these favorites, like and dislikes to make suggestions to you and others based on the similarity of the others to you (based on their answers).  You can also make your own topics.
If you decide to give it a go, I’m on as kmabarrett (what a coincidence!), so please follow and fleck me.
I’m not sure I’ll keep it up as I’ve not used the site to provide me with any recommendations, yet – but it’s still early days.
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3 and 3

What are you doing about it?
A simple question, but also an indictment…
If you are upset about the state of our country – what are you doing about it?
My suggestion: Ask three elderly people you know, how they will get to the voting poll site in November and then offer to give them a lift there if they need it.  Then ask three young people you know between 18 and 25 years of age if they are registered to vote.  If not, offer to get them a registration form, help them complete it and mail it (or help them drop it off).
Most places cut off voter registration 30 days before the election, so you need to get started on the youth contacts NOW!
I’m not asking you to poll them to see if they agree with your views or not – for the young or the elderly.  All I AM asking is that you help make the system work.
Three people before October 2nd and three more before November 2nd…
If you are not part of the solution, you ARE part of the problem.  What are YOU doing about it?
VOTE 2nd November 2010 !!!
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I watched Rooster Cogburn with Hil this evening.  I’ve seen it before – many years ago – but had forgotten what a terrific little movie it was.  John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn were terrific together.  The dialogue was witty and they played off each other tremendously.  It was JW’s 2nd to last movie and he was already dying of cancer at the time.
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Well, back to work and back to the gym…
Got weighed in today for our annual “Biggest Loser” competition. The usual goal is to get folks to drop some pounds before the holiday meals start and then kick off a “maintain don’t gain” program through the New Year.
Starting at 305 lbs. I’m back up 13 lbs from my low of 292 lbs early in April of this year. Sounds like a lot, but I’m still down from my unofficial high of 337 lbs last year. “Officially” I started last years’ Biggest Loser at 329 lbs; so, I’m still down some 24 lbs. My “unofficial” weight was what I weighed two weeks before my official weigh-in.
The bottom line is I’ll need to get back to my long jogs again if I want to lose the weight.  Hil and I have been on the Fat Smash Diet for so long it’s no longer working.  Of course, that’s mostly because we’re not super-strict anymore.  We’re pretty close, but not “super”.
I had a short workout today.  I was struggling to get into it.  I raised a good sweat, but – in total – it was a so-so workout.  Two miles jogging and 15 minutes rowing, then 10 minutes of weightlifting.
We’re supposed to be getting a couple of new machines in the gym – a rower and some waist-twistey contraption where I gather you swing your butt from side to side.  I’ve not seen the latter, yet.  I’ve been told it’s just like on TV, but I guess I’ve not seen the infomercial.  It’s supposed to exercise the sides of your stomach.  We’ll see…
On a strictly political note: the provisions of the Health Care Reform started kicking in today.  I must admit to feeling disappointed with the whole thing.  It just hasn’t gone far enough to make a difference – and certainly not in the short term.  Still, I have to tell myself to keep the faith and remember Social Security, Medicare and Veterans Benefits all started out the same – too little – and they eventually got better.
I was watching the news today and saw the Republican’s “Pledge to America” dog and pony show.  The mantra “privatize, privatize, privatize” is so old now!  I can’t believe after the failure of the banks and stock markets that Republican’s still want to turn Social Security, Medicare and the VA over to private industry.  They “honestly” think the problem with the economy was (is) too much government regulation.
All of you folks who’ve lost your retirement funds because of economic collapse; all of you folks who’ve lost your jobs (and homes) because of outsourcing; all of you folks (almost 2,000) who’ve become ill from eating tainted eggs in the last few months because of lack of government health and food inspectors; all of you long-term (over one year) unemployed workers who can’t get jobs because you’re “too old” (over 40) and “too inflexible” (can’t live on minimum wage with no company health insurance, retirement or periodic re-skilling on the company’s dime); all of you young folks who don’t want the “burden” of carrying the older workers in our society (“you need to retire so we can move up the ladder”), who have to live at home (your college degree earns you an unpaid internship) because you have no work experience (but you’ve got $50 to $100K in college loan debt); all of you — tell me how you are going to vote come November???
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And finally (yeah, sure), here’s a bunch of me through the years – mostly graduations.
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Here’s a few photos of my oldest daughter – Rebecca. They’re from pre-school – Blackmoore Park Infant School, circa ’94/’95. Enjoy…
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Here’s a few photos of my son (James) at pre-school in Liverpool, circa ’94/’95. Enjoy…
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