In wishfully filling the gaps between idealism and reality.
As a followup to my bit of a teaser yesterday about that kid’s book I’ve been working on, I thought I would share a few of the draft pages and some of the background story. It goes something like this…
See, occasionally you get struck by a burst of creative energy. I won’t claim it’s some kind of mystical thing or cosmic force. It’s just that the neurons are aligned properly one morning, the caffeine level is just perfect, there are enough extra minutes in the day and the lack of stresses or brain-numbing creative inhibitors are allowing things to process a little more smoothly than usual.
These things gush out in waves.
You get a little idea, you sit down, and you write.
I was having a good day a couple years ago, and not much was going on: life was slow, time was plenty, and a little rhyming poem about a bee popped into my head. Silly, yes. But at the time, Claire was about four and we were reading a lot of kid-books and listening to a lot of kid music and watching a lot of kid television and… well.. you’re brain gets into a space and does things while you’re not paying attention.
Mostly we just ignore it, but occasionally you take the time to get it out on paper.
Thirty verses of a rhyming poem later, I had a cute little story about a Bee… named Baylee… with a very trivial little “ugly ducking” type problem.
At the time I’d abandoned some other more “grown up” comic-book efforts I’d been poking at, and was itching for an “artsy” project to hone my Inkscape chops: vector art and cartoon-esque images. Everything just fell into place.
So, as I’ve implied: the whole story is written (drafted out in completion in about an hour of focused effort), revised a couple times, kid-tested on a few kids over the course of the last couple years, and ready to illustrate. The illustrations are about half done: I’ve got 17 pages out of 32 in the hopper, some minor tweaking required, but basically ready to build into a digital book of some kind.
More work over the next month, to be sure… but the plan is to finish it. Soon. So, now you know.
This is a post from my “Just Three” Challenge, a 28-day photography project to capture a series of three-photo-story sequences — to tell a brief narrative using just three pictures taken that day. Each day from February 22nd through March 21st I’ll be posting a three-panel photo collection that makes use of one of the six styles of story-telling transition.
It’s still cold. And how does one spend a quiet Saturday morning on such a cold morning?
If you’re a six year old girl (who has coincidentally lost her television privileges because she was uncooperative while she was supposed to be practicing her piano) you pull out the story that you’ve been writing with your father, spread your crayons out on the blanket beside a fireplace and a lazy dog, and you get to work.
Day 8: Writing by the Fire on a Cold Morning
Camera: Canon 40D
Subject: Saturday Morning
Post-Processing: None. Just resized for the web.
Story: Claire and I have been (slowly) filling a notebook book with an elaborate story about a little girl and her robot dog who are rescuing a prince from a hoard of evil space monkeys. No, really. She dictates. I write. She illustrates. A couple pages here and a couple pages there… usually on quiet mornings with nothing else to do.
Technique: Sleuth. And a 50mm prime and some low-light compensation.
Evaluation: I wanted to get a better sense of the fireplace and the cold, but it might be a bit on the subtle side.
I’ve been lazy.
Yeah, I know. The New Year kicked in and I ran those silly races and… gah! Lazy. Not many pictures. Not many posts. Not much of anything.
I have my reasons. They are simultaneous awkward and personal. They are little more than excuses. (I admit that much.) And almost any of my readers should know by now that when I start waxing sentimental about my lack of ambition on this blog it means only one thing: I’ve got a project brewing.
A Four Weeks of Just Three Photos Kinda Challenge. Starting on February 22nd and for each of following twenty-eight days, a photo challenge. And not just a photo, either. A challenging photo challenge. A photo experiment. A photo adventure.
Unlike my enthralling push to “just-snap-something” each day, I thought I would spin a bit of story-telling into the mix. I mean, I may have given myself the year off from actual words-on-paper writing, but I can still make stories on a technicality… such as telling short tales through the medium of three-photo stories.
What’s that? Simply: A sequence of three images that tell a story. Three simple photos that are in themselves just pictures, but when strung together end-to-end, or stacked atop each other, they read like three panels of a comic strip or three frames of a movie or just a story-board.
And, of course, I’ll be posting them here. Stay tuned.
Last Sunday we took a family trip out to the Edmonton Corn Maze west of the city. The dog even came along, even though she wasn’t quite sure what to make of being “lost” in the corn (which is a lot more imposing when you’re only two feet tall, I imagine.) I took a gazillion photos and wrote a short little blog post that you should check out about the little afternoon adventure: that post has a fuller re-telling and links to the full gallery of our photos, too. I’ve been trying to write down and share more of these little stories lately because …well, you know those sayings about time passing too quick, and kids growing up so fast. Have you been lost in the corn this year?
I’ve been fascinated for a number of years about the idea of writing personal tall tales. It’s a tough thing to explain why this is and where exactly this fascination blossomed into a full-on obsession, but I can tell you that the seed was planted when I watched that movie “Big Fish” a number of years ago.
It was an OK movie. But what stuck in the cavernous gaps of my poor little brain about it was the notion of tall tales, and the idea of how they could wrap themselves around ordinary people.
A quick recap of the movie “Big Fish” for those who may have missed it or have foggier memories than little-ole-obsessed me: Enter present-day protagonist and son of the primary movie protagonist. He is dealing with the impending death of his father. The father (the aforementioned primary protagonist a’la a series of flashback narratives) is a guy who has spent his entire life being a larger-than-life character in a series of grandiose tall tales he has constructed, re-told, adapted, and stretched over the years from the folds of an otherwise modest life. This is a larger-than-life character the son (trapped in a literal and reality-based world-view) struggles to reconcile with the glimpses of the everyday ordinary man he thinks he knows. The dad nears the end, the stories are recapped and re-told one last time for the sake of catching up the audience, some of the reality is pried loose, and (spoiler alert) father and son have a moment of understanding just as the dad dies in a flight of metaphor and one last tale tale invented by his son.
Again, it was an OK movie. And again, the story was a nice tear-jerker-kinda plot. But what really has stuck with me the last number of years since I first saw it –and about the only reason I really remember the film, actually– was that it sparked this notion of the tall tale in my head… and I can’t really shake it loose.
But What the Heck is a Tall Tale?
Wikipedia sums it up nicely: A tall tale is a story with unbelievable elements, related as if it were true and factual. Some such stories are exaggerations of actual events, for example fish stories (‘the fish that got away’) such as, “that fish was so big, why I tell ya’, it nearly sank the boat when I pulled it in!” –Tall Tale, Wikipedia
Johnny Appleseed or Paul Bunyan are a couple of big character stories that I grew up with.
Most people are probably very familiar with the notion of tall tales as a kind of general storytelling or folklore: y’know Johnny Appleseed or Paul Bunyan are a couple of big character stories that I grew up with.
And many other people have probably blurred the edges of their own storytelling –relating adventures back to their family and friends– to create slightly bigger tales than reality would support. I’m sure we’ve all done just that, actually.
But I’ve been thinking –pondering for a long time, as I just noted– and the idea of purposely constructing these tales is quite interesting to me.
How Would That Work, Exactly?
A few years ago I penned a few random ideas as a kind of “Family Mythology” framing out a couple of vague stories that might form the seeds of some tall tales.
It’s not that life is boring, but rather that the lessons we’ve learned from life often loom in our memories larger than they really were. We exaggerate and self-aggrandize not because we are narcissistic but rather that we have ideas in our head that have come from spaces and events that don’t seem so important as to warrant those ideas. It’s not that they couldn’t have come from such things, but years and decades later in the telling real life lessons often warrant the reaction “you got THAT from THAT?”
as an experiment in storytelling combine a handful of my own real life lessons into tall tales
I was not trying to supplant that reality, but rather as an experiment in storytelling combine a handful of my own real life lessons into tall tales, stories with the grains of truth made to seem boulders: seconds or minutes of panic stretched into days and weeks of turmoil, oddball characters morphed into multidimensional archetypes, and small mistakes or misunderstandings ballooned into life-altering trials.
The result –I hoped– would be a collection of short stories that I could tell along the way. A collection of stories that capture the imagination, inspire a curiosity for the reality that’s layered within, and preserve a nugget of family history. Thus these were my…
Four First Attempts at Tall Tales
The Rats of the Berlin Zoo is the story of a three-day chase through the streets of Berlin pursued by the Rat Brothers, a gang who sought to drag me into the dark depths of the city for reasons I didn’t understand at the time. (A tall tale of facing fears.)
The Goollish of Oh-Street is the story of my year spent learning the language of an angry and disturbed creature living the caves beneath my apartment,a creature who only emerged from his lair at night to shout at the sky. (A tall tale of standing up to misconceptions.)
The Raindrops of Wellington is the story of a week spent stuck inside a broken elevator: nine very different people from very different places who’s only means of escape was to agree on the means of escape, something that we couldn’t quite figure out. (A tale of uniting for a cause.)
The Battle of the Sky is the story of my secret training and subsequent battle, when I fought back a hoard of mind-enslaved businessmen with naught but an electronic sword and the power of punnery. (A tale of going down with fight.)
Of course, these are just the seeds of the ideas. There is much more left to write and in their writings it is bound to be an effort of multi-revisionary-ever-more-exaggerated storytelling… but then that’s subject matter for another post. Stay tuned.
Everyone loves a good list, and after four previous rounds of my blogging extravaganza “week of lists” posts, I’ve pretty much confirmed the old (if slightly modified) adage: If you write them, they will come. Again, seven days, seven lists: and this time the topic honours my starting-this-week marathon training efforts for the summer of 2013, locked in step and stride on this, the week of lists number five, the Twenty-6-Point-Two Miles Edition.
Blogs are interesting when they tell stories. Photos help make stories interesting. And when you’re training for a marathon (or any race, event, or noteworthy goal for that matter) there are certain definitive moments that both tell the story and mark the adventure for what it’s worth. I think there are at least…
6 Photos That Could Sum Up Your Entire Training Season
We hate them when we take them, hesitate to share them, but they form the opening credits of every success story of physical fitness. While snapping a few pics of who you were before you hit the trails may seem a little bit too much like part of a late night advertisement for one of those ab-erobic-super-diet-pillz deals, you won’t regret it in a few months when you are trying to explain your transformation to other people. And, just to be clear, I’m not advocating some kind of skinny bias here: it’s just a fact that training for and running a big race WILL change you, so why not embrace your starting point?
Every training season is a balance. On the one hand there are klicks and klicks of lonely footsteps down snow-covered, wind-swept, or rain-drizzled trails. On the other hand, you’ll have awesome runs with new and intersting people. These could also be photographic moments that define a training season. The team photo, that gathering of sweat-soaked victory back at the shed, where someone spontaneously pulls out a camera or their iPhone and grabs a blurry shot of everyone improptu huddled together. Or, the (much harder to capture, mind you) photo of a lonely runner on the trails: if you are fortunate enough to trod on something like the wide variety of trails to which I have access, propping up your camera in auto-mode for a few timed-selfies is not only easy, but rarely will someone be around to gawk. If you are training in a more crowded or urban enviroment then hey… don’t be afraid to ask a friendly stranger to snap some pics of you on the run. It may seem silly at the time, but you’ll cherish those pics later.
Still life is a touchstone of artistic expression. Objects can evoke emotion and tell stories about a thousand words not quite seen and out of frame. The classic training photo is the “dirty” shoes pic. Or, if you prefer, the worn-shoes, the dangling shoes, the resting shoes, the feets-less shoes sitting on the porch between runs shoes. One nearly-constant between all runners (well, except for some of those hardcore barefoot folks) is the bits of plastic and leather we strap to our feet, and when we take them off between runs they yearn to tell tales of their travels.
Of course, one day the BIG day will roll around and not only will you be decked out in your best-worn and most comfortable race gear, but you’ll be at the peak of your fitness. There are two moments worth capturing on every race day (and luckily there is probably a photographer — or even an company — hired to help you grab those pics. As your running, strugging, enduring the long haul of footstep after footstep, you will undoubtably encounter someone crouched on the side of the course snapping photos of every runner, burning through digital memory with wanton abandon. Smile. Just smile. Strike your best pose. You can probably download that photo from somewhere later. Likewise, someone else will probably be crouched a few meters behind the finish line, snapping an even more frantic collection of every single runner to beep their RFID toe tag across that annoying rubber mat. Throw your arms in the air. Cheer. Smile. Your training story jsut had a happy ending. You may as well have the photo to prove it.
I’m always telling new parents to write down those odd little stories.
Stories? You know… like when your kid is in the bath and out of the blue she asks you, wry grin spread across her face, “Dad? Do you know what the S-word is?”
I’m not against curse words in our house. I don’t swear a lot and I often assume this is because either (a) I’m never really that angry that I find I need to express myself with “damns” and shouted “shits” and by calling people “assholes” anywhere but inside my own head but also (b) that I pride myself on having an above average vocabulary and knowing how to use it — it comes along with the pretentious writer-thing, I think — and I don’t find swearing necessarily precise as it could be. I mean, come on. Some people use “fuck” to mean as many things as the Smurfs used “smurf.”
Smurfing smurfers, smurf the smurfing smurf smurfs! Smurf?
But I digress. And I only mention this all for the simple reason that Claire is not apt to hear a lot of cursing in our house.
“Do I know what the S-word is?” I replied cautiously. “Do you?”
She didn’t say anything, but instead her expression did that light-switch-flip to a kind of sheepish, maybe-I-shouldn’t-have-brought-this-up kind of look.
I pressed. “Who was talking about the S-word?”
It was about here that she promptly tried to change the topic. She fished around in the bath water for a stray toy and a wash cloth and spent an unsuccessful minute trying to convince me to do one of my really-lame, not-exactly-magic tricks.
But I was curious. “Claire? Who was talking about the S-word? Someone at school?”
“She said we\’re not supposed to say that word.”
“My teacher.” She replied, reluctant. “She said we’re not supposed to say that word.”
“What word?” I nudged. “What is the S-word?”
Claire raised a hand to her mouth, cupping her palm over her lips as if it was some sort of secret, or as if she could catch the words as they were about to tumble out. Or maybe she figured if I didn’t see her say it then I wouldn’t be mad.
“What word, Claire?”
She hesitated for another brief second then bubbled out in a half-giggle, half-whisper: “Stupid.” She wouldn’t meet my gaze. “My teacher said we’re not supposed to say that word.”
I (literally) had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing, and nodded solemnly for a bit before I was able to reply with something about how she was right and that everyone needed to treat each other respectfully, blah, blah… all that dad-like stuff. The teacher was right. I guess. Calling people “stupid” is not exactly the ideal kindergarten-esque behaviour we’re looking for. I let out a did-that-just happen kind of sigh, and the bath went on.
“Dad?” She asked, a smile again spreading across her face when she realized that I’d finally finished my little impromptu speech.
“Do you know what the C-word is?”
Despite the mountains of rational evidence to the contrary there are still a lot of folks out there holding to the claim that come December 21, 2012 the ire of the universe will refocus upon the planet Earth and cast us all into an end-of-the-world scenario of some kind. If those folks are right then I’ve got only a few days left to get some hard-earned advice out to my readers before this blog goes offline… It’s time for another Week of Lists!
As the week wears on and as every list I’ve been writing in my Seven Days of Apocalypse Week of Lists gets published out to a soon to be extinct blog, I’ve read back. An in reading back, I’ve thought about some of the common themes that I’ve proffered to my readers. One of those major themes has been survival. Survival? Well, I mean to say that, simply, I’m assuming that you — dear reader — are going to be one of the handful of lucky ones to pull through and be able to make use of all this advice I’m putting online during the (potentially) last few days of modern civilization’s existence.
And that’s all well and good, right?
The problem is in helping you survive I’m creating a whole other problem for you. See, survival is a complex situation. In surviving you’ll need to become so more than a hopeful mooch upon whatever new order arises from the post-apocalyptic ashes of society. To really survive long term, you’ll need to become a contributing member, earning your keep, and making your way as a productive member of Society Two-point-oh. Whatever your skill-set, you’ll need to be creative in finding a niche that you can fill. You’ll need to make yourself useful, indispensable, and offer a service or product that can be bartered for food, shelter, or even to curry favour with any new post-chaos totalitarian leadership regime that springs into being during those interim years while humanity gets back on its feet.
And that’s not always going to be a pretty job.
As a writer I’ve considered what my own role might be and (at the risk of opening myself up to competition) I’ve got a few post-armageddon tasks that might get you started in your own new career:
1 :: Dictating Letters of Last Regret for the Mortally Wounded
This is a short-term job and one that you’ll need to jump on right as society is collapsing around you. Of course I’m not advocating being a kind of “post-annihilation ambulance chaser” but with ninety-eight percent of humanity not being as lucky as you in their survival and — well, let’s not beat around the bush here — getting caught up directly in that primary wave of destruction, there are still going to be a lot of folks who are on the fringes of that group. These folks will pull through, but — if modern television action sitcoms have taught us anything — they will struggle through an arduous few days of mortal peril before eventually succumbing to their wounds (or infections, etc.) Many of these same folks will be having epiphanies of self-realization, death-bed regrets, et cetera and will be looking for someone to write down letters to family, friends, or just for the sake of some vague notion of setting straight the historical record. While you shouldn’t get caught up in promising to deliver these — I recommend sub-contracting that part out to explorer-type personalities — you can probably score a few choice resources bartering your writing skills for this kind of task. Make sure to pro bono a few too, just so you don’t become a total jerk.
In the weeks and months following the End of the World, numerous groups of survivors will coalesce and start to compete for the now very limited resources. Whether you’ve allied with any of these gangs or not, your writing skills will very easily port over to a rudimentary set of diplomatic skills that will make you invaluable (and give you diplomatic immunity and protection while travelling between emerging settlements and camps of survivors.) Even gangs need to negotiate, and the familiar contract-come-treaty will be a familiar tool for survivors who have spent most their pre-apocalypse lives earning MBAs or law degrees, but who are now the thug-like leaders of one of the thousands of declared micro-nations vying for control over the crumbling remains of an abandoned Walmart or arduously defending the burnt husk of what used to be a 7-11 gas station. Penning treaties is easier than it sounds and creative wording will surely be appreciated.
3 :: Producing Propaganda for the Re-Emerging Quasi-Government
And as the strongest of these gangs eventually ignore the aforementioned treaties and ultimately subsume control of nearby gangs, the strongest of these groups will start to be more public about their assumption of a more broadly based dominance over the land. I would suggest that within a year to eighteen months following the disaster that crushed humanity, at least one of these gangs will have amassed enough support to declare themselves the “new order” and attempt to form a rudimentary government. This is where writers and creative folk like yourself, who’ve probably by now earned a solid reputation as a bit of a mooch (keeping yourself out of the direct line of fire with all your diplomatic work) can really start to rebuild favour: after all, most every successful government makes use of propaganda to manage their reputation and when you start mashing-up your writing skills with a liberal adaptation of those now-useless social media marketing skills you’d spent your last few years online proclaiming on your blog or Twitter feed… well, you can quickly pitch yourself as a “New Order Propaganda Specialist” or a “Public Opinion Adjustment Coordinator.”
Any modern student of history will tell you that the most successful totalitarian regimes always like to add their own flare on religion and belief. And if not, someone does it for them. In Society Two-point-oh, at some point, someone will start a cult that incorporates some aspects of (a) current belief systems and (b) the un-timely destruction of the whole world. Don’t be offended: it’s just that’s how these things work, and if you want to survive you’ll need to (at some level) play along else risk being burned a heretic. As a writer it is important to remember that every major religion is based around stories of world-changing events and the impact it had on those lucky enough to pull through and survive. Think about it: Humanity cast out of paradise, world-wide floods, cities being destroyed whilst others are turned to pillars of salt, towers crumbling to Earth in a holy wrath of destruction. These are all staples of the stories and lessons of modern belief, and are (at some level) based on some kind of disaster and how it was perceived (opinion on size, scale, and impact may vary) by the survivors of that disaster…. survivors who could write and record those stories. As a survivor yourself make sure to keep your eyes and ears open for “signs” or “revelations” or “insights” into next week’s apocalypse as these will be invaluable to any budding religious leaders in the years to come.
5 :: Authoring Tall Tales of the “Old Days” and Becoming a Travelling Minstrel
As the years wear on and you really start to amass a good collection of memories and elaborate and exaggerated tales of the “good old, long-lost days” of society, as your memory fades, and even as your recollection and imagination begin to blend into a cocktail of confused rambling and half-true stories of how things used to be, your skills as a writer and as a story-teller will serve you well. By this point the world will start to re-stabilize and travelling from settlement to settlement (while still risky and dangerous) will not be a sentence of certain doom. You may find yourself writing down these stories and reading them out, as though a kind of post-apocalyptic wandering minstrel, in exchange for a meal and a night of safe shelter from the still-wandering hoards of mutant beasts savaging the wilderness. Writing half-baked stories or fractionally-true histories for complete strangers: it’s kinda like blogging actually. Some things never really change.
This post is part of my (satirical) Seven Days of Apocalypse Week of Lists countdown to (almost certainly not) the end of the world. Share and enjoy.
Ah, June… Summer is at our doorstep, the days are (almost all of them) seeming to get a little bit longer, and for the second year in a row I am partaking in my daily blogging exercise, marginally focused along a theme I’ve simply called Those 30 posts in June. No planning. No writing stuff days ahead. Just this: each day a meanderingly vague prompt drives a meanderingly vague post… and today that post just happens to be:
June 19th // Something You Are Listening To
About a year ago I did a lightly detailed review of three podcasts that I routinely download and enjoy while I’m working. You can re-read that post if you want. Lots of people have discovered and read it since I wrote it — apparently — as it is currently sitting as the twenty-third all-time most popular article on this blog. But if your music tastes don’t lean towards the down-tempo electronica podcast genre, you might not like any of my selections. Strike that… I should say, you might not choose any of my selections. Liking them is a completely different question: you probably would enjoy them, actually.
Seeing as how that last post was so popular, and how the question of the day is “Something You Are Listening To” I thought I would revisit the podcast review and offer up something a little different: spoken word casts. Yeah, sometimes I listen to electronica, but other times I listen to stuff that’s a little more… let’s say, cerebral.
TWIT: this WEEK in TECH
A cross-section of internet and technology news by a mix of lively and provocative hosts.
From their website: “This WEEK in TECH (also known as TWiT) is the flagship show of the TWiT network. It was the network’s first show, and it focuses on technology news, often from the prior week, and reviews. It is an audio podcast presented in a round-table fashion. In addition to host Leo Laporte, who has appeared in nearly every episode, the show features a panel of usually two to five guests, which changes regularly.”
In the late nineties I discovered Leo Laporte doing low-budget technology call-in shows on Canadian television. We rarely missed, and so NOW to have one of my favourite technology hosts offering quality and regular content delivered free to my desk every week is amazing. Think of it like this: It’s The View but for geeks, with more interesting topics, and if some of the panelists were logged in over Skype. Ok, so it’s nothing like The View, but if you want to stay up to date on the twisting and turning world of tech, this is a solid addition to your playlist.
Under the Influence
A professional ad man takes listeners behind the scenes of modern influence-based advertising.
From their website: “As the marketing world shifts from a century of overt one-way messaging to a new world order of two-way dialogue, we leave the age of persuasion and enter the era of influence. The first 50 years of modern advertising was hard-sell. The next 50 years was persuasion through creativity and media tonnage. But advertising is no longer a loud one-way conversation. It’s a delicate dialogue now. The goal is no longer to triumph by weight, but to win by influence.”
You can debate the merits of public-funded radio until you turn blue in the face, but until you bring me a show from another broadcaster (& podcaster) that dissects the advertisements with such refined insight — rather than just blaring them to pay the bills — your debate will fall on (my) deaf ears. O’Reilly used to have a show called “The Age of Persuasion” that covered a very similar topic, but went back a few decades. In “Influence” we are treated to a weekly insightful view of the underbelly and undercurrents of modern-day marketting. If you think this sounds dry, think again: not only is our society powered by advertising, but the logic, pyschology, and tactics touch so many elements of business, design, relationships, and culture you’ll quickly forget you’re listening to the stories of pitchmen.
The Extra Mile Podcast
A user-content-driven collection of stories and updates from runners of all skills and all backgrounds.
From their website: “In this podcast we encourage runners, no matter what their ability, to get in touch and send us their audio updates to tell us about their training, their races, or even if they’ve just taken up running. Some runners choose to record themselves out on a run, whilst others like to record in the comfort of their own home.”
I mentioned in passing this podcast a few weeks ago when I was writing about some of the (epic?) running adventures I’d been on lately and pondering if they would be show-worthy here. The funny thing is that the more I run, the more I train, and the more I dig myself into a routine with this constant plodding, the more I realize there is so much philsophy and pyschology and story behind running and runners. Some of it is worth sharing. Some not. But I love hearing about those adventures, either way. And this podcast is a mighty collection.
Again… my two cents. Enjoy your own listening and let me know in the comments what you’ve been downloading.
I made note of an odd confluence in my numbers yesterday as I was inputting my data. Since starting this training I have logged exactly fifty runs. And the sum total for distance on all those runs is nearly-exactly two hundred kilometers… well, 200.2 KM to be precise. So, for those not mathematically challenged, its interesting to note that my run distance average is exactly 4.0 KM per run.
This, of course, was generously nudged up Sunday morning by that schmozz of a running adventure. Albeit, it should be noted that a quick headcount of those attending — those starting out from the store at eight-thirty yesterday morning — was certainly a community-record topping out at thirty-one runners. It might have had something to do with that.
I was informed we were doing a 9 KM run.
The thing is, with 31 runners, you get a big mix of goals and abilities. I’m getting faster and I’ve been running with some of the folks who have bolder aspirations of time and distance. One of the guys who I’ve been teaming up with lately has not only gone from being my counterpart penquin (when I first met him a couple years ago) to Speed Racer, but he has also gone from being roughly my physical build to dropping 45 pounds and improving his overall health by levels of awesomeness I cannot yet imagine. We have similar pace. And we’ve got that whole thing happening where we egg each other on, push each other a bit harder, and get that extra few steps out of the other. It’s the right type of running buddy to have.
We got ahead of our own group and ended up pacing the faster, Full Marathon folks. Then we missed a turn and followed them on THEIR Sunday distance. They were doing a thirteen kilometer jaunt, and fast. With hills. And summer decided to arrive about forty-five minutes into this little adventure.
Top this epic trial off with the fact one of the gals from our group had made the same — perhaps worse — poorly choosen assumption of her distance abilities as we did, and followed us on the full marathoners route. Running bud and I were looping back and forth to keep her connected with the group and then suddenly — her irrational exhausted mind surely to blame — she bailed on the run, opting for a shortcut: Without telling us!
So there we are, about ten klicks into this run, a bunch more to go, the sun beating down full on, and neither of us had a drop of water to our names anymore. We’re jogging in circles looking for this girl, hoping she didn’t collapse into the trees in the river valley, before finally getting a clue from a passing elderly couple out for a stroll that they thought they’d seen someone matching her description walking off down a side street.
Of course, by this point we’d lost the rest of our quasi-group, and were doing our best to figure out where we could head them off and meet up again, and we’re trucking along at a stupid-fast (for us) clip trying to zig and zag through the neighborhoods to find a slightly shorter route back.
We re-connected with the group at about the same time my watch hit 13.2 KM. I was starting to really feel it at this point. And we still were not quite in sight of the store. It was all I could muster to climb that last little rise up to the parking lot where I could justifiably walk it in. When I finally stopped the timer on my watch I’d clocked a painful 13.76 KM (unknowingly nudging my total just over the 200 KM mark, apparently) and proceeded to find a new friend in the water fountain at the store.
It also turns out it was my fastest paced run of that distance. Ever. So, yeah …the training continues.
Those following the “mega-goal” progress will note that 200 KM (on the included map) brings me from near my house, down the QE2 highway, nearly all the way to Olds, Alberta. There’s still time to give me some virtual destination ideas for after I reach Calgary. Comment below.
With Claire being a little sick during our vacation, we spent more time in the hotel for naps than I’d originally anticipated. This did mean I got some solid reading done, thanks to my Kindle and the lighted-case I picked up just prior to our trip.
For those not fans of hard science fiction, however, you may be disappointed to learn that after finishing off my first book — Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom — I switched solidly over to some Asimov and ploughed my way through some of the Foundation series.
Foundation is a rather interesting set of stories, particularly from a modern vantage, because they were written during and shortly after the Second World War. In the context of science fiction, this is positively primitive. In fact, the first of the Foundation stories is coming up on it’s publication’s seventieth anniversary in just a couple months. We’re talking pre-transistor era computers. We’re talking decades before Star Wars and Star Trek. We’re talking years before the Space Age — and possibly some of the inspiration for the Space Age.
They are absolute gems.
And the funny thing is, after reading them — and also reading the author’s preface in the editions I had — they are very much just stories of politics. In so much of modern sci-fi, it’s all about space battles and intergalactic heroes. But in Foundation, the stories are essentially influentially people sitting in rooms discussing important events and pulling the strings of political manipulation. The vast galactic decay upon which the stories are based are all background radiation, fairly much invisible behind the dialog-driven stories. Even the author admits this.
I’ve got much more to go though. And if I find myself in a real Asimov mood, there is plenty to choose from. Favourites?