I love silly things, and one of the sillier books I’ve read is Idiot Letters by Paul Rosa. I think it’s out of print, but it’s well worth the read if you can find it. Essentially, the author initiates conversations via postal mail (!) with corporate America, offering up fine, well-reasoned suggestions for their products and services. Needless to say, most of the suggestions are a little … bizarre … and aren’t things a company would really wanna do. As funny as his letters are, the bewilderment from those whose job it is to respond to the public is every bit as entertaining!
Recently, I had one of those moments.
I got a bit of spam from someone named Robert Powers representing a company named Ocoos. I like playing with the spam telemarketers that call the house, and I thought this was an opportunity to have a little fun along those lines. Here was Robert’s email:
Obviously, this website ain’t a business! With that in mind, and tongue in cheek, I set about to reply to the kind offer of help for my business website…
Hi Robert (Bob?) —
Did you even look at my website? You should. It’s pretty awesome, using the latest technology and plenty of industry-leading tools and secrets.
If you had, you’d realize pretty quickly it’s *not* a business. I mean… Canapeel? Really? Who would come up with a nonsense word for a business!!! (No offense!)
Nope, I have no customers, no referrals, and no advertising (mine or anyone else’s). Pretty plain jane website, lived like a hermit lives, including a stream o’ consciousness about life, the universe and everything. Sometimes, there’s even something useful there! (I try to minimize those flashes of brilliance in order to curb expectations, however.)
And most of all, not being a business means I have no real need for spammy-spam-spam-and-spam like this. (Did you notice the Python reference?) Whoever sold/rented you the mailing list that included my website fed you a load of bull-squirt, and you should try to get your money back! I mean, if it included my non-business-website-that-you-never-vetted-before-sending-out-an-email-blast, there are probably other non-business-websites-that-you-never-vetted-before-sending-out-an-email-blast included in the list that you paid for. Your kind offer to do… something… fell on deaf ears with me, and it probably did with many others on your rented/purchased list of contacts. I hate to see our economy impacted by peddlers of bad goods, and it looks like you just paid for a big one!!!
But, me being a good guy, and seeing you’re interested in doing the neighborly “business” to “business” thing for my benefit, I thought I should return the favor, and offer up my advice above, free of charge! Yep, I’m not gonna send you a bill for my awesome suggestion. I sure hope you recoup a load o’ dough from that list. Maybe you’ll donate a little bit of that to some deserving business — like a microbrew! — this weekend.
Have a great, and prosperous Thursday! (Or, if you’re across the international dateline in Ceylon or Burma, or some other far off land, Happy Friday! [And yes, I know, those should be Sri Lanka and Myanmar, but I’m an old fashioned kinda guy!])
(not a business)
P.S. Ocoos is a cool business name. How do you pronounce that? I kinda think it oughta sound like an owl… “ocoo”. (And you’d be lying if you told me you didn’t just hear an owl’s voice in your head!) Of course there’d have to be more than one owl in order for it to be “Ocoos”, hence the trailing “s”. I guess that’s a flock of owls. Or would that be a herd?
P.P.S. BTW, while Flock of Owls isn’t a band I’m aware of, I am a big fan of Flock of Seagulls. How much hairspray do you think Mike Score had to use to get his hair to stand up like that?
I fully thought this would land in some spambot’s lap, and I wouldn’t hear anything back. I was wrong! Apparently, the real Robert Powers responded with a simple answer:
Thank you for the kind suggestions
Of course, being a fine correspondent, I had to have the last word:
With Sunday came another opportunity to get out there, celebrate the close of the summer Olympics, and put some miles on my new shoes.
Wait… new kicks?
Yep, new Nike Vomeros. If you’ve read my trials and travails since late last year, I’ve been struggling with shoes. I wanted new shoes before the Route 66 half marathon in November, and that’s when I put my feet in a pair of Hoke One One Bondi 4 Wides. Very cushy feel, but I ended up with a black toe, and early this year, got blisters in Chattanooga.
Then I moved to a pair of New Balance. It’s the first time I’d tried that brand, and while they felt good, I consistently got a blister on the back of my right heel every time I ran.
So, I went back to what I knew, and got a slightly wide Nike Vomero, and I love ’em. They fit nicely, are comfy, and have the right kind of feel at the back of my foot. Woot!
The air temperature was fantastic when I got up — about 61°, rare for August in Da Lou — and I shoulda gone out then. However, I had to get my coffee, Crunch Berries and British soccer going. Becky also had a CGC trial in the morning, so I waited for them to get on the road before heading out.
Despite the later start, it was still only 67° when I headed out, and even without a cloud in the sky, it was the best morning for being out in more than a month. My feet were pretty fatigued from Saturday’s run and five hours on my feet at a Jeep show, so I took it easy, and just did a fast walk.
It was a glorious day, with just enough wind to take the edge off the sunlight. And again, I had a great outing, with only one obstacle…
This time, it was a german shepherd puppy. That little guy just came up to me like I was a long-lost friend, and laid on my foot while I petted him. Wonderful!
All in all, a good weekend, with two events done, two puppies played with, and some mileage building. And why am I building miles? Well, like a crazy person, I’ve signed up to go to Tulsa for the Route 66 half marathon again in November.
As has been my frequent routine this year, I started out the weekend with plans for two runs, one Saturday morning, and another on Sunday morning. Being that the temperatures were very comfy (about 75°, and not a ton of humidity), I figured I should get out and do it.
Unfortunately, I waited until late morning to get out. I did get out though, and that’s the important part. However, that meant the air temperature warmed-up through my outing, which is something I’m not a fan of.
As I’ve watched the Olympics over the last couple of weeks, I realized that each of those fast, fast runners had something that I don’t usually have that much of… sweat. So, on this morning, I set out to sweat. And sweat I did.
In fact, I had a pretty good run. The first part was cloudy, and once the sun broke, I began to sweat like an Olympian in the 26th mile of the marathon. I ran quite a bit of the course Saturday, with only one significant obstacle…
A cute golden retriever puppy.
You see, I have two hard rules for any event or outing. I thank every first responder that’s securing a route for me, and I pet every dog. It’s a great way to rest for a few seconds, and there’s something that’s just plain refreshing about getting a lick on the nose!
In our last episode, our heroic author had just completed the first two-thirds of his 10k virtual race, planning to complete the final two miles from home. We rejoin our tale…
I drove home from the Monarch Chesterfield Levee Trail, and landed in my favorite easy chair. I was thrilled to have pulled off my longest distance in a couple of months. After sitting and watching a little bit of the Olympics, I decided I couldn’t stand my own stench and needed to grab a shower.
When I got out, I checked Facebook, and saw that my next door neighbor Joe had two tickets to the Paul McCartney concert at Busch Stadium that night. I commented that if Becky were in town, I’d be all over that pair of tickets like… well, like the Beatles on vinyl.
Just minutes later, my phone rang.
Neighbor Joe told me that he’d bought the tickets a week or so ago, when Busch Stadium opened up some additional seating. Apparently, he’d thought to take a galpal, but at her ripe old age of thirty-something, the phrase “Paul who?” rained a little bit on his parade. But, having another music lover along who could appreciate this event rekindled his interest to go, and that he’d sell me one ticket, and drive us both to the show. I needed to be ready to go downtown in an hour.
I’ve been a fan of the Beatles as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I’d listen to my parents’ ginormous console radio, and hearing all kinds of tunes. That’s where I first heard The Beatles’ music. Fast forward a few years, and I was buying loads of Beatles and Wings albums, playing the grooves off the vinyl.
I kept hoping and hoping that they’d reengage, even if only for a brief while. I watched as SNL waved a big ol’ check on TV to have them join together on their stage. I heard the urban legend that on one fateful night, they were all there, except George, who didn’t know his way around NYC, and didn’t get to SNL in time.
And when Wings toured in 1976, I swore I’d get to one of the shows. I was 12, and just didn’t have the means or capability to get to Atlanta to see them. The closest I got was the Wings Over America album, which I listened to so many times that I knew every sound — music, lyric, audience — by heart.
But when John was assassinated in 1980, that dream died. (Although, Julian Lennon sounded a lot like his father, and could’ve filled in, I’d thought.) And then after George’s death, it really cemented the truth that the clock was ticking, and if I was to see any of them live, I needed to move.
In the early 80s, I saw a concert in Chattanooga that had The Producers as the warm-up band. The girl I was dating at the time and I waited around outside Memorial Auditorium before the doors opened, and ran to the front of the stage when we were allowed in. She and I were big ol’ Beatles fans, and during the show, we heard that lead-in note for “Hard Day’s Night,” and went nuts. I was pretty sure that was the closest I’d ever get to seeing anything by the Fab Four live on stage.
Macca has toured many times since those days, and it’s just never seemed to work out for me to go and see him live. It’d always been a dream of mine to see him perform, and I knew one of these days, he wouldn’t be touring, and I would’ve missed my chance.
When the tickets for this show went on sale many months ago, they were snapped up in no time — minutes! — and I thought that once again, I’d miss seeing Sir Paul live. Neighbor Joe solved that with his timely tickets, and in an hour’s time, I went from not knowing what I was going to do Saturday night to riding downtown to see Paul McCartney!
Being a native of Da Lou, Joe knows downtown, and knows where to park for events at Busch. He parked in a little out of the way lot near the Eat-Rite, and we hiked the short distance to the stadium. Standing outside the home of the Cards, we chit-chatted, and shared our joy of being there on Facebook. Quickly enough, the doors opened, we passed through security, and found our way down to the field.
Yes, down to the field!
Joe had somehow scored tickets that were in the 28th row from the stage, dead center, and the view of the stage was incredible. It was the first time I’d ever been on the field at Busch III, and I was struck with just how big this place was. We were sitting in basically short center field, oriented toward the batter’s eye, so you could see all the seats in the stadium, and it felt like you were the center of attention. Very cool view.
And there wasn’t gonna be a bad seat in the house. Towering video screens flanked the stage, plus a giant one behind the band, ensured everyone was gonna see a great show. This made for a big ol’ multimedia event, which added to the impact of the show for me.
Folks started to sidle in, beginning to really fill the place up. Next to us was a girl (Katie; 20-something) and her father (my age-ish) from Montana. They were in town for a trap shooting tourney, and just decided to come to the show. They were a hoot to chat with, and were every bit as excited to be there as we were.
Close to 8:15, Sir Paul took the stage… and the rest was a bit of a blur. This dude is 74 years old, and played for a solid two hours and forty minutes… and then came back for a twenty minute encore!
The 45,000+ folks in the crowd danced and sang along through the whole concert — me included. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m pretty reserved a lot of the time. Not here. I was singing along at the top of my lungs, dancing in place, and letting my internal hair down. It was really a wonderful night!
Some highlights… (BTW, it looks like the setlist will be found here soon.)
Remember my comment about The Producers? Well, Sir Paul opened his show with “Hard Day’s Night,” which set the night in a perfect kind of motion for me.
He sprinkled Beatles songs, Wings songs, Macca songs together — even one from the Quarrymen days! — and stirred them up masterfully. I can’t imagine another show you could go to that features fifty years of music woven together so well. And it seemed like he had a story to tell for almost everything he performed. So many bands just come out, play the music, and that’s that. This was like having a historian onstage, telling some choice nuggets about many of the songs, and then performing them for you. I loved that approach.
My favorite performances? So, so many come to mind, but easily “Live and Let Die” stands apart. I’m a big Bond fan — Sean Connery, that is! — and the only non-Connery Bond film I like is Live and Let Die. I’ve loved the title track since it came out around 1973. I dig the change in tempo here and there, and these fantastic crescendos in the track. For each one of those big crescendos, the stage erupted in fire and explosions, even leveraging the Cardinals fireworks that are used for winning games. From our vantage point, those fireworks came right over the top of the stage, creating this incredible shower of fire on stage and fire in the air. It was absolutely the highlight of the show for me. (The video below is from YouTube, and is someone’s view from the upper deck of this part of the performance Saturday night.)
Paul paid tribute to both John Lennon and George Harrison, both moving, and wonderful. And I saw something I’d never seen at a concert. For both “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be,” the crowd lit their cell phones up, the same way we used to do with lighters a long time ago. I looked around me from the stadium floor, and it was like being surrounded by fireflies. Utterly cool.
He performed “The Fool on the Hill” and “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” — neither of which I would’ve bet on ever seeing live, and certainly not by Macca himself. I loved the treatment for Mr. Kite — the video boards brought a psychedelic carnival atmosphere to that performance!
“Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five,” “Band on the Run,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Back in the U.S.S.R” … so many standout performances, and the crowd never relented (me included), singing along and dancing the night away.
There were a ton of cameras and booms… I’m really hopeful that this show was being recorded, and might be made available in the future. Big crowd, big venue… I could see it happening. And if Macca comes back to Da Lou, you can bet your buttons I’ll try to find a way to go.
So… we started this story yesterday with my needing only a couple of miles to finish the 10k I started Saturday morning. I was on my feet for five hours Saturday night (I don’t know why you get a seat for these things!), and between walking the short distance to/from the car and dancing, I added five more miles. Yeah, I danced for something like four miles. 🙂 And all that dancing was definitely much more enjoyable than running, but was so very much more exhausting!!!!
Saturday morning, the weather was glorious. Becky and Bailey got up about 4:15am to head toward Columbia for a barn hunt competition, so I was left to start my morning slowly, albeit very early. They got on the road, and I got my breakfast on, watching the opening matches of the new Barclay’s Premiere League season.
After dallying about for far too long, I started to get gussied up for a run. I noticed that my Garmin had an update waiting, so I let it apply, and headed out.
I’d decided to run on the Monarch Chesterfield Levee. This is the levee that, in theory, protects much of the Chesterfield Valley from the flood waters that area is prone to. It wasn’t lost on me that the Great Flood of 1993 would’ve had waters above my head as I stood atop that mound.
I pulled in, and the weather was perfect — cloudy and about 74°. I rolled out of the Jeep, stretched, and walked up the access path to the top of the levee. This was the first time I’d run atop the levee, and as expected, it was very flat as it wended along the banks of the water. I saw loads of wildlife — egrets, blue heron and turkey vultures who circled as though awaiting me to keel over.
I’d intended to run intervals, and set my Garmin to :15/:30 run/walk timing, and took off. As I motored along, I kept noticing my times were pretty awful. Now, everyone I’ve seen talk about intervals has said their times are faster when they run intervals. I sure wasn’t seeing it, so a little ways into my run, I turned that feature off, thinking it was slowing me down.
Well… remember the Garmin update? As part of the update, it had changed the default units on my watch from kilometers to miles, so all my pace numbers were based on the wrong unit, making it look like I was 60% slower than I should’ve been. When I saw the first kilometer alert pop up, indicating I’d travelled 0.62 “units”, it was obvious what had happened. Good ol’ updates. 🙂
The farther I got into the trail, the farther I wanted to take it. It was that whole “I’ll go to the next power pole” ideology, and eventually I found myself at Baxter Road. I caught my breath for a minute, looked at my Garmin, and I saw that I was lining up a 4-point-something-mile journey for today. Cool!
And then I noticed the heat.
I was looking at the area so much, I hadn’t noticed that the clouds were starting to clear, and temperature was rising. As I’ve mentioned many times, I melt in the heat, and this outing was looking to end on a very toasty, melty note, And as excited as I was to see what was around each new bend in the trail on the way out, I was hoping against hope that each bend on the way back would have my Jeep in sight!
I finally saw the Lil’ Red Rubicon, and made it back, melty, but successful — and saw that it was now 85°. And with that foundational run, I intended to go out later in the day and finish up this 10k event. Little did I know that my evening plans would be interrupted by something totally unexpected…
What interrupted our author’s evening running plans? Did he get his extra miles in? What would the beautiful state of Montana have to do with anything? Return tomorrow to hear how our intrepid hero finished his race…
For me, running and walking are therapeutic. I can clear my head, lower my angst, and get centered again. I had had a “difference of opinion” with our headstrong little Roxy, after which I knew I needed to get out of the house and “walk it off”. 🙂 I got my gear on, fired up my headphones, and immersed myself in music and strides.
Of course, I didn’t look at the temperature before I left. It was 95°.
I stuck to the neighborhood, much like I’ve done lately. It’s less hassle not having to drive to a trail, and there are plenty of little neighborhood nooks and crannies to travel along. On this night, I explored some of those nooks and crannies a couple of subdivisions over, and found the peace I needed.
By the time I got back to the house, though, I was melting. A summertime 95° in Da Lou is miserable. Not just hot, but typically humid, and Thursday lived up to that billing. Blecch! Done is done, though, and I was happy to get some miles in.
And given that this was a “puppy induced” run, I figured I’d finally get The Puppy Run completed from my “to do” box of virtual races.
I think that’s one of the great things about this sport. You can literally do it anywhere and anytime, with planning or not, and be as competitive (or not) as you wanna be. And when you just need to go let off some steam, you can do that too!
This was a first-time race for me, despite it being in my own backyard. I’d been wrestling with running it, largely because I believed it didn’t have medals at the end, and I like getting “paid” for my runs. 🙂
I signed up during this last week, and got up early this morning to make the short drive to the race course. After yesterday’s amazing run, I really was gunning for big things.
The weather was supposed to be amazing — rain and low 60s — and I was really looking forward to that. As Mother Nature does sometimes, she took a left turn, and I ended up with low 70s, no rain, and a crazy humid airmass with occasional fog. Blecch!
I got to the race course, and talked with the packet pickup folks. Last year, this race had about 300 entrants; this year, only about 100 for the 5k. I got kinda excited, thinking that maybe I could end of up with an age award. Three deep across each decade of ages… yeah, that would help push me higher in my age group, and maybe the math would favor me with a top-three age group placement.
I was about to find out that math today and a great run yesterday wouldn’t ensure a medal for me!
The race started on time, and I trudged along a trail in Bluebird Park that seemed to wind downhill forever. And much like the sidewalks yesterday, the trail was slick as snot. Where I shoulda carried some speed downhill, the slipperiness kept me reserved, taking careful steps as I climbed downward.
I’d never run this course before, and it was nice to see a part of my town that I’d never seen before. I passed through neighborhoods, with the occasional driveway of folks cheering us on. It was clear that I was losing the biggest part of the pack, and that I was well on my way to being dead last in the race. I don’t race to come out on top, I race to challenge me, so that was ok.
Lumbering through the neighborhoods, I’d occasionally catch a glimpse of the golf cart that was trailing the last runners in the race… and I wasn’t all that far ahead of them. With about a kilometer to go, I reentered Bluebird Park, and started climbing up all the hills I’d carefully descended at the beginning of the race.
I came up the last big hill, and turned left into the staging area for the race. Folks cheered as I came through the finisher’s arch, which was cool. Perhaps they were afraid that I was really ol’ St. Nick, and they wanted to stay on the good side of the Big Man. Regardless of the reason, I enjoyed a few seconds of cheering, and ambled over to the ice cold water bottles to start cooling down.
This was a fun little race, but much more hilly than I’d expected. And, I wish it’d had a finisher medal. But, it was close, early, and done, and there’s nothing wrong with that!
After a weekend of busted runs, I finally got out yesterday and put some miles behind me before a family shrimp boil. As you can see in the course info below, it was cool, and rainy.
And that was perfect.
I really started out to just walk. It was wet, and the sidewalks here get snotty slick in that kinda drizzle you get around the edges of a storm, so I figured I’d take it easy. But then something cool happened.
I started running.
It was one of those weird runs, where you look at a landmark down the road — a telephone pole, a driveway, a road sign — and you just run to that point. And every time I got to one of those landmarks, I’d spy the next one, and make a deal with myself on how I was gonna attack the next chunk of distance.
This was one of those rare runs where I’ve gotten in a wonderful rhythm that seemed like it would never end. In this case, though, it had to end, as I had that shrimp boil waiting for me. However, despite cutting it short, I knew that this was a foundational run for me, one where the mental benefit likely outweighed the physical one.
Much like the shootings in Paris last year, the shootings in Orlando hit me hard. Orlando is the city of my birth, and frankly, it was once again on home turf.
A day or so after the attack, I got wind of a race being held in Orlando to help raise funds to help folks in the area who were affected by this awful event. That was June 15th.
In just about 24 hours, all the “live event” spots — 1300 of them — were sold. Fortunately, they also had a virtual leg to this race, and I quickly signed up. So did about 2000 other people. I’ve never heard of an impromptu race going from concept to sell-out so quickly. It certainly props up my faith in humanity, and once again, makes me proud to count myself as a part of the running community.
Yesterday was hot here in Da Lou. Really hot. I know the map below says 90°, but what I saw was closer to 95° with a heat index close to 105°. Frankly, it was stupid to be out in that, but I knew I needed to get this one done, so out I went.
Pretty quickly, I knew the heat was on me, and I realized I was gonna finish, but it’d be ugly. On my way out of the neighborhood, I came across a neighbor who is a much better runner than me. He told me he only made it two miles before having to head for home. That didn’t bode well for me!
The route I’ve been enjoying lately has started to undergo some construction, so I played around with my route a bit. Yesterday probably wasn’t the best day to do that. And, by the time I’d gone a couple of kilometers, my dogs were barking, with the sense that I was growing a blister on the back of my right heel. This has been an ongoing problem over the last couple of weeks, and I haven’t yet been able to track down what’s causing it all of a sudden.
I slogged through my route, and worked through the pain, coming closer and closer to the end of my route. As I turned back into the neighborhood, that same neighbor was driving out of the neighborhood, and stopped to talk. I told him how far I’d gone, and was I pleased that I was able to keep my feet on the street longer than him.
As it ends up, I probably shouldn’t have done this run yesterday. The sun really affected me, sapping my energy for the rest of the day, and having some significant physical impact from all that heat. Normally, I feel great after a run, but yesterday wasn’t one of those days.
Still, I got it done, muscling through the discomfort and the sweaty St. Louis summer day. I’m proud that I have found the mental strength to learn how to pound through conditions like these — that’s not to be confused with the wisdom, however, to be smart about getting out there in the first place!!!!
This race is billed as “St. Louis’ Fastest 5K!” I get why… there’s a bunch of downhill grades as the race starts in Kirkwood, travels through Glenwood, and finishes in Webster Groves. And it was fast.
My splits in the first two kilometers were way under 10min/km, which is my yardstick for good, bad or ugly paces. As it ends up, three of my four splits were sub-10, the last one was ten on the nose, and the the split that included the water stop was just over ten. Really good race for me.
This course meanders roughly east, with the river lying many, many miles in the distance. But, with that gentle grade toward the river comes some gentle uphill chugs to earn those beautiful downhill gliding opportunities. The gentle hills are in the second half of the run, which is why my first two splits were so fast. There were definitely times where I had some fast sprints in the second half of the race, but the uphills slowed me down.
This race course runs through some nice, old neighborhoods, and there’s always folks outside, cheering us on. One couple was sitting in their driveway, enjoying their coffee, and I noticed their sprinkler was on, feeding their lawn. I shouted “Can I run through your sprinkler?” They cracked up, and said sure, and I proceeded to make aircraft wings out of my arms, and ran dead center across their lawn (and their neighbors). Folks in the race behind me were cheering, and I suspect I wouldn’t be the only person to take that little detour.
Another thing that was interesting was a couple that passed me about four kilometers into the race. The guy had a race-style bag on his back, with a loud stereo of some kind in it. There was this giant Caribbean sound emanating… and they were dancing and skipping! I was behind them most of the last kilometer, and they carried that groove to the end. I was blown away!!!
I got toward the finish line, and could see that the clock was about to cross fifty minutes. I knew I wasn’t near fifty, as it took me almost two minutes from the time race started until I crossed the finish line, but there’s still that crazy mental thing that happens with finish lines and timing. I looked up, and the clock was at 49:47. The announcer was cheering on folks to finish ahead of the clock crossing fifty, and I kicked in some kind of crazy afterburner. I ran faster than I think I’ve ever run, and crossed at about 49:58. 🙂
Once again, this was a fun race. Last year, the morning was full of electrical storms, and rain through the whole course. Today was cloudless and hot, more than ten degrees hotter than last year. Even with that dramatic difference in conditions (to the worse, for me), I was only 45 seconds slower than last year. I’ll take that. 🙂