Run Yourself to Death

The NY Times recently did a great feature called How to Start Running — but for many people, How to Keep Running might be more useful.

I’ve been at it since the early 1990s, never once on a treadmill and almost always before sunrise. It’s not getting better, unless you consider covering shorter distances at a slower pace as somehow better.

I may be long past my peak, but that’s OK.

These days, my runs are tracked on a GPS watch, but back in the day, I scribbled notes in composition books, noting my route, distance and time. Here’s a page from nearly 20 years ago:

Wow, I was really something. Today? Shorter and slower.

Running as a metaphor for life is a well-worn shoe. It’s usually invoked to speak of endurance and perseverance. The value of hard work in achieving a goal. But the sad truth is that it’s also about decline and decay and giving way to age.

But so what? I hope I run on the day I die, even if it’s just for a short distance. Even the most miserable run makes any day better.

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Cat Food

In Your Face, Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg made news last week for his run through Tiananmen Square — both for exercising during a period oppressive pollution and the lousy optics of doing so where protesters were slaughtered in 1989. But something else caught my eye: the Facebook founder noted that he’s hit the 100 mile point for 2016.

This is all part of Zuckerberg’s Year of Running health campaign, which challenges participants to reach 365 miles by the end of 2016.Introducing the program, Zuckerberg said, “This is a lot of running, but it’s not a crazy amount.”

Wow! That’s pretty… underwhelming.

Now wait — my running is nothing to brag about, but if I’ve run more miles this year than a fit young man like 31-year-old Mark Zuckerberg, well, what the hell?

Ten years ago — in my 40s — I ran a marathon. Not a fast marathon, not a great marathon, but listen here Facebook boy, I ran 26 miles in one day. No, I can’t do that anymore, but if a fat old man like me (old enough to be your father, I might add) can go out and run three miles before dawn, you can do better than a mile.

So here’s a challenge: you want to motivate me to exercise, how about buying me fifty pairs of Saucony Triumph ISO 2 running shoes? At two pairs per year, that should pretty much last me until I’m too dead to walk around the block, much less run.

But seriously, just kidding: good job with your mile. Maybe we should get you a participation trophy, or something.

OK, that’s it for me. Gotta go see if my Facebook account has been deleted yet.

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Twitter 1891

Social media? It was around long before Twitter and Facebook. Granted it moved at a slower pace; columns like this in an 1891 issue of the Altamont Enterprise contained posts that are not so much different from what we see today:

fullersstation

A dozen or so local towns are covered in the “Vicinity Correspondence” section, and besides word of mouth, in its day this is how small bits of news were passed about. When you think about it, “This place is now without a shoemaker,” wouldn’t be a bad tweet.

Just like today, there were certainly people who thought all this information was useless. They’d probably shake their heads and say, “Christ! I don’t care whose farm Norman Miller is going to work on any more than I care what he ate for breakfast!” That may be, but I bet most people turned to page two and read that first. It’s interesting even 125 years later.

Ink Spot

When Metroland collapsed it left a void in the Capital Region media market. It felt odd being left without an arts weekly after all these years.

Thank goodness, the Spotlight has stepped up to fill the gap! Sure, you’ve all read the Spotlight, longtime purveyor’s of suburban news, and now they’ve jumped into the arts and culture weekly business.

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When I found this in Starbucks, it was certainly exciting. Just look at that edgy graphic on the front page! This obviously isn’t your grandma’s Spotlight!

Oh, wait — actually, it is.

Yeah. it’s pretty, pretty mild — and don’t go looking in the back for Savage Love or racy classified ads. A few things you will find advertised:

  • Dentists (two)
  • “Tools for Caregivers Day”
  • Chair lifts
  • Alzheimers’s memory screenings

The paper did contain a couple of decent local stories and serviceable arts listings — but certainly not with the scope that Metroland did them. On the down side, there were a couple of pages of provided content and press releases. Gotta fill that space.

The Spot is a fine thing to pick up for free and browse through while you drain your coffee, like the recently horse/cow confused 518 Life. But there’s something about that graphic that bugs me. It promises cool, but what we get is more comfy than edgy — and that might be puzzling to strangers who pick up it up expecting a peek into alt-Albany.

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Sidewalk Serenade

Thanks to Google Maps, I figured out that the downtown lot where I park for work is .39 miles to my office. And thanks to Albany, I really need to watch my step.

I’ve written about the wasteland that has been dubbed the city’s Parking Lot District — and like any true wasteland, there are hazards. Like the sidewalks on Green Street, which, to put it mildly, could use a little work. How bad could it be?

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sidewalk2

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In short, it’s so bad that people have to walk in the street.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan probably doesn’t care what some non-resident thinks of her sidewalks, but I’ll tell her anyway: they suck. You’ve got a lot of people who need them to get to work, and it’s disgraceful that they’re in this condition. And don’t tell me that the sidewalks are not the city’s responsibility, not when your damn parking meters are all over them.

OK, done ranting. Carry on and mind the sidewalks.

Ask a Stupid Question

On our local talk radio station this week, the host said he couldn’t fathom why people don’t join him and the millions of others who support Donald Trump. He asked, “Do they think we’re stupid?”

Yes, actually, you hit the nail on the head: we think you’re stupid. Any other questions?

And not merely stupid, but dangerous.

I’ve made fun of these local radio goofballs before, but it was just harmless fun. They’d rant and say dumb things, but it was just entertainment. That was before they pitched a madman to be our next president.

It’s easy to be dismissive of local talk radio when you hear the numbskulls who call in to agree with the host, but it’s those who don’t call who worry me. In this town, many influential people listen to this garbage and some of them even advertise on the station. Business is business.

If you need proof that ignorance sells, there you have it: talk radio and Donald Trump. In the oft misquoted words of H.L. Mencken:

“No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”