Happy Sam

When Mark and Wacker came over for the Sixers game they commented on how my blog makes me seem like depressed Sam. Well this post will hopefully change that.

Two things have occurred in the past few days that have put me in a very good/optimistic mood. First and foremost, today marks the fourth day straight without any noticeable back pain. While it was sort of progressing over the past few months, it was always there. I can honestly say that for four days in a row, I have not felt any pain in my back. I didn’t want to say anything after days one, two, or three because I wanted to be sure. Now this obviously makes me very happy because it seems like it’s been forever since this has happened. I’m going to go on a real run soon which actually makes me a little scared. What happens if I go on the run and it starts to hurt again? That is why I will not be attempting this run for another few days. If I can have an entire week where I don’t really feel anything, I’ll be confident enough to try a nice mile or two mile long jog, yes a jog. The thought of being able to run doesn’t even seem real at this point. For the past three months I just kept saying “I think it feels better” and putting a time-stamp on when I think I’ll return. I’d say “maybe another week or two” and then three weeks go by and I didn’t notice any significant difference. Finally the time has come where I’m actually saying a week and I mean it.

The other good news come from the dental area which is unusual. I have to get surgery to remove three extra teeth in my lower left jaw. Initially, the plan was to have this done really early in the summer so it wouldn’t ruin my running but that has since changed. We had to get a cat scan and all this junk and if we schedule the surgery it would probably end up being after Avalon (June 24th). That would suck because right as I get something going running-wise I’d have to take a week off and I’d be back at square one. That means I wouldn’t do any training until July which is a little concerning. Fortunately however, it’s looking like the surgery can be postponed till next year after I graduate and therefore I will not have to have any part of my training interrupted. This makes me happy.

The only bit of bad news is that I’m having serious throat problems right now. I’ve had what feels like sore throat for a week or so and it’s only getting worse. It’s not a usual sore throat though, there’s a different type of pain and if it’s not better by Monday I’m actually going to call the doctor to get it checked out. I planned on going to the bike race in Manayunk tomorrow to celebrate with Tom and his friends but if my throat feels this bad I don’t think I’m going to go. Hopefully things change quickly because I think the bike race would be really fun but who knows.

Declarative Statements

I was cruising the forums and came across something that I’ve always preached but had trouble putting into words. This poster did it perfectly.

You lost all credibility after that whole “Rupp won’t break 3:37” debacle. Like my old granddaddy used to say, “the less a man makes declarative statements, the less apt he is to look foolish in retrospect“.”

Don’t go through saying things will or will not happen when you do not know. For example, I strongly believe the Spurs will win the NBA championship but I’m not going to go around saying “The Spurs will win the NBA championship.”

Another and even better example. My good friend Mike (I don’t think he reads this unfortunately) said this to me via text message around a year ago. “… then I’m going to watch Donn win the steeple.” Donn is a teammate of his at Princeton who is very good at running and had a legit shot at winning the steeplechase last year at NCAA D1 nationals. Donn got 2nd at nationals which is obviously an incredible feat but Mike just looks like a jackass when he says “I’m going to watch Donn win” and then Donn doesn’t win (No disrespect to Donn either because I STRONGLY BELIEVE he will win steeple this year at D1 nationals as well as make the Olympic team in the steeple). If Mike had said, I think Donn’s got a real shot good shot at winning, that’s fine, but don’t go declaring that he WILL win.

The final two examples that I’ve stated multiple times in the past that pisses me off more than anything. People always say two things to me in particular, either “Oh I’ll beat you in ping-pong” or “Oh I’ll beat you in Super Smash Bros.”. I usually reply with “Well I guess we’ll have to play and find out.” And a very large majority of the time, I end up winning.

Barber Experience

I got a haircut today and it was exactly how I want every haircut for the rest of my life to go. I walked in and was seated immediately. The barber, Jerry, was an older guy, I’d guess around 50, who I’ve seen there before. I sat down and he pretty much knew what type of  person I was just by looking at me, a college kid who didn’t really know what to say in terms of getting a haircut and didn’t care that much either. He said “So I’m guessing you probably just want a normal haircut, off the ears with a little more on the top?” Bingo. There was no small talk which is what I prefer. This can be a problem though. Sometimes it’s awkward without small talk but me and this guy were on the same page. He was doing his thing and I was doing mine which was watching him do his. At the end of the cut he made a comment that I’ve never heard a barber make before. He said, “Do you normally get your eyebrows trimmed? They seem a little bit bushy to me.” I suppose I could have taken offense to this but I was honored that he would suggest that. I said “What do you think?” and he said “They seem a tiny bit bushy but it’s up to you though.” I said “Trim them. Thanks for looking out for me.” He replied “Us barbers, bushy eye brows is something we notice right when you walk in the door.” This comment made me happy. Thank the lord, I’m not the only one who notices someones eyebrows when they walk in the door. It was $16 for the cut and I gave him the whole $20 which he seemed very happy about. All in all it was a great experience because the cut itself looks great IMO (you be the judge (yes this was the best picture I could get)).

Since Jerry is the only person I’ve met who admits to judging peoples eyebrows I thought maybe I should become a barber. That got me thinking about how weird of a profession being a barber is. A female hairstylist is one thing, but Jerry was a completely normal guy who could have done whatever he wanted I’m sure and he chose to cut hair for a living. First off, I have no idea how you even get involved in becoming a barber. After doing some research, you have to go to barber school (over cosmetology school) which takes more or less a year. The average barber makes ~28 grand a year with the top guys make close to 50 grand. I’d imagine barbers aren’t really in it for the money. If you think about it though, being a barber would be pretty sweet. Once you’re good at cutting hair it would pretty much just become automatic. You get to hang out, listen to music, watch TV, and talk to friends/regulars all day. It’s probably a little late for me to be a barber now but if my son ever wanted to become a barber I could only hope he was as cool as Jerry and I couldn’t be more proud.

Board Games

This post is going to explain why games like Loaded Questions, Scattergories, and Catch Phrase are better than games like Apples to Apples and Imaginiff. Also, I  want to give a Scattergories example and explain why Gourlay shouldn’t get a point for an answer he gave.

When you play a game like Apples to Apples your creativity is entirely limited to the contents of the game. There are a set number of possible questions and a set number of possible answers. The ‘judge’ in Apples to Apples can decide what he deems right and wrong given a category but that’s about the only personal input that players can have. In games like this, there is no way to input a personal spin on the game. Certain words will never be used such as poop or cooter. It’s a one size fits all that puts a cap on how much fun the game is.

With a game like Loaded Questions, every round you are able to put a personal spin on the game. You can use anything you want and it ultimately makes the game infinitely funnier. You can use any words you want to describe the keyword in Catch Phrase. You can use any word in Scattergories (assuming it starts with the right letter) to answer one of the questions. In all of these games the words poop or cooter could be found which is why these games will always be better than other games.

Now, onto last night’s game. I get the impression that I veto answers more often than other people. In my opinion people are far too lenient in what they accept and what they don’t accept. Last night the category was Magazines and Gourlay’s answer was Dog. Dog? Are you kidding me? I insta-vetoed while everyone else was silent. After my veto a girl who I had never met until that night started arguing saying that it was a good answer. Gourlay’s argument was “I bet there’s a magazine out there called Dog or Dogs or something.” First off, I didn’t think there was. And second, he doesn’t even know if there is. If he said, “There’s a magazine called Dog that my family gets every week.” then it’s an okay answer but saying “There’s probably a magazine called Dogs” is not okay. He looked it up and there were a number of magazines with Dog in the title but not one just called Dogs. At this point, the girl was still arguing that Gourlay should get a point. I was baffled. I had never even met this girl but if I ever see her again I won’t be able to help thinking about this situation and how wrong I think she is.

Movie Time

Since I have a decent amount of free time on a weekly basis, I’m making a list of must-see movies for me to watch this summer. Yesterday I knocked one off the list, American History X.

Don’t read this if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know the ending. The only thing I knew about the movie in advance was that it dealt with racism and that Edward Norton had a giant swastika tattooed on his chest. I’ll say that I enjoyed the movie a lot. Initially I thought Norton was going to be really racist the whole but I really liked how they showed the whole process of him turning from extreme white supremacist to tolerant and accepting of other races. The whole idea of making a stand to change your life entirely is a good one. All because you’re very deep into something, like he and his brother were with the whole racist crowd, doesn’t mean you can’t ever escape. He made the decision to get his family out of there and get them to a better place. You could tell how much his brother looked up to him and was willing to follow him. He completely changed his view and wrote the whole paper about how he’s different now. Obviously this happens the night before he is killed which makes it so much worse to see him go. He finally got his head straight but it was too late. I personally think not enough movies these days end in tragedy. It’s unrealistic to think everything will always end up happily ever after. Obviously it’s probably less realistic that a black kid will shoot a white kid in the bathroom at a school but you get the point. I liked the movie a lot a am glad I spent two hours watching it.

My list of movies is not long enough to last the whole summer so please feel free to make recommendations. My list is as follows: Seven, Almost Famous, Big Fish, Little Miss Sunshine, The Departed, The Godfather, Inglorious Basterds, LOTR 2 and 3 (probably won’t watch those), and Reservoir Dogs. I’m sure I’m missing some but that’s at least a start.

The Black Keys

I’ve been getting really into The Black Keys lately. I have about 20 of their songs and they’re all pretty good. They have a very distinct sound, the only critique I have is that sometimes the songs sound too similar, but overall I really like them. I love the fact that it’s only two guys and they’re not your typical rock stars at all. The drummer looks like a complete goober but they completely pull it off. The obvious favorites are Tighten Up, Gold on the Ceiling, Lonely Boy, Howling For You, etc. They have a new song called Little Black Submarine which I’ve only listened to once. It’s slightly different from their normal stuff but they keep their style and I like the song. One song that I don’t think many people have heard which I really like is Things Ain’t Like They Used To Be. I also think they’re really really good live. I’ve watched a few live videos and I’m amazed at how much like the recording it sounds like. Here’s an example.

Baby Gurl (or boy)

An interesting yet not uncommon topic came up today in cubicle conversation. A man is having a baby with his wife and he was talking to my cube-mate about it. She hasn’t had a kid yet and she asked the question if he wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl. They both completely agreed that they would rather not know. I had never really thought about this since I haven’t been in that situation yet but it’s an interesting topic.

100 years ago you would have no choice, you found out on the day the kid was born. Maybe 100 years from now you’ll have no choice but to know 5 months before the kid is born. As of now, we have the choice to decide, do we want to know or not. After thinking about it for a bit I agree with my co-workers. I’d much rather not know. As they put it, “that’s one of the few great surprises left in life.” I’m sure some people out there would rather have a boy than a girl and vice versa but I have to assume that with an event as significant as having a kid, you just want the little thing to survive and be healthy, the gender is completely secondary (unless you’re in China). Why ruin the surprise? It will make the moment that much more memorable and there aren’t many bigger moments that having a child. I suppose if you know in advance you can buy cute clothes for it and only spend time thinking of one name instead of two but it’s just not worth it in my opinion.  But, that is just my opinion, anyone else?

What’s Up

As most have you have probably noticed, blog content is low lately. Most of you also read Tom’s blog and may have read what he wrote about the lack of blog material. For me personally, there’s three big forms of social media: Facebook, Twitter, and this blog. At this point I think it’s safe to say that Facebook is fading and its only real purpose is too stalk people’s pictures, see if someone is single, and perhaps wish someone a happy birthday. Other than that, Facebook doesn’t do much for me.

Twitter has stepped it’s game up in my life. A tweet is essentially a FB status update except the only people who read it are the people who want to read it. People follow you for the specific reason of seeing what you have to say, that’s it. It’s kind of like this blog, you visit with the intention of seeing what I have to say. If you think to yourself “I don’t care” after reading one of my posts, well then you’ll simply stop visiting. Twitter is the same thing, if you don’t want to see my tweets you’ll just unfollow me. Facebook is different. No one actually wants to see your status updates, they just want to see someone’s pictures and status updates are more the price you pay. Frequent status updates could potentially lead to a de-friending on FB. Tweets are pretty much just small and usually funny thoughts that come at you on a day-to-day basis. For example, when the guy at the urinal next to me farted really loud, that is worthy of a tweet.

That leaves this blog. This blog is for long drawn out thoughts or observations that I notice. While hilarious, I’m not going to write an entire blog about the guy who farted at the urinal, there’s nothing worth noting other than the fact that it happened and it was funny. I can’t write a whole post about that. Because of this, it is much more difficult to gather content for a blog. As Tom’s post stated, no one cares how our ping-pong series went or how cold my cubicle is or the fact that I went 40/50 in free throws the other day (had to slip that one in there). It’s just not blog worthy. I could write about how I drank last night with Mark, Wacker, Gourlay, and Jonny but we didn’t do anything that was worth noting. Nothing too eventful happens currently so I don’t have much material to work with. As Tom and I were saying, I don’t really like to force material out, I’d rather have it come to me instead of actively seeking things to write about. While I admit that having this blog has definitely changed my thought-process on a daily basis, I’m not going to blog about my boring life if it’s exactly that, boring.

I’ll see if I can’t come up with something to spice my life up a little bit. Right now I look forward to the Sixers games more than anything and it’s not even close. That’s not really a good thing. I can only imagine how life will be when the NBA is done for the year. In the meantime, bare with me as I’m sure this boring blog is doing little to stimulate everyone else’s rather boring life as well.

Here we go again

After a pain free .33 mile run a few days ago and watching The Real Maine last night I was riding a sort of unrealistic high. The past few days have been pretty good in terms of my back and I was very optimistic in terms of when I would return. I just went on a bike ride which I haven’t done for a while to get my heart rate up a little bit and it wasn’t fantastic. It’s safe to say that while I’m better than I ever have been since the injury, I’m not that close to running. I’m not upset or down necessarily I’m just coming back to earth. I’m going to keep doing my core and everything until I think I’m completely ready and I’m not going to rush the comeback at all. Rationally, the difference between starting May 22nd or June 22nd isn’t that big (although June 22nd to July 22nd kind of is).

It’s funny because the obsessive personality traits still show themselves even when I’m not running. When I am running I keep my whole log with workouts and races included to fully track progress. Example, the last real workout I did before I got hurt was 6×1000 on 11/29/2011 (the first workout of this indoor season) with the first 5 in ~3:05 and the last one in 2:57 with about 3 minutes rest. After that workout I looked back and saw that on 1/25/2011 I ran 6×1000 in ~3:10 for the first 5 and finishing in 2:56 all with about 3 minutes rest. So I concluded that I was running faster at the very beginning of my Junior indoor season than I was two months ahead in my Sophomore indoor season. As a runner I was very encouraged thinking I should be running ~15:37 (my indoor PR sophomore year) a full two months earlier in my junior year, maybe 15:30 when I got back from winter break. That’s great.

These obsessive traits can be reveal bad news too.
Let’s predict when I’ll be back running. Say June 16th. Two weeks later I’ll be back to ‘normal’ training, say July 1st. That’s 6 weeks behind last year. I get back to camp August 21. That’s 7.5 weeks of real training until I get back to camp. What type of workouts was I doing 7.5 weeks in? Was I even doing workouts 7.5 weeks in? My first workout last summer was July 13, 8 weeks after I started training. I won’t get a workout in over the summer. I’ll be in Del Val shape come the time we ran the Delaware meet last year? That’s not good. Let’s backtrack and say I get back to ‘normal’ training on June 16th….
Here we go again. You get the picture.

I’m still excited to get going and I really do believe that I WILL be able to run normal again but I’m just trying to be realistic with my expectations and I don’t want to rush back and do something I’ll regret.