Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sleep is Over-Rated

It's a three-coffee day. Which makes me wonder why we need to sleep at all. 

It's the 21st Century. By now, you'd think we'd have embedded nanobots, bio-electrically-charged stem cells, and sleep-in-a-can for those days when technology just doesn't cut it. 

I mean, seriously.  Why sleep?  Haven't we outgrown that shit yet?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Playing D&D with Kids: Managing Information Flow

My daughters surprised me while we were camping this past weekend by announcing that they want to play a lot of D&D while we're on vacation next week.  It's cool because I like D&D, but it definitely caught me off guard, and I've spent some time this week trying to catch up and get ready for our game. 

If you've never played with kids, it's an interesting experience. Definitely a switch for me because my regular (now defunct) game was a made up of a bunch of engineers and professional physicists. Yes, we had two physicists, and they were both awesome Players. But they were very different from my girls because, as a group, they were all very comfortable with the crunchy, math-based side of be game. And speaking personally, I'll admit that while I personally think of D&D primarily as a storytelling medium, there's a side of my personality that likes all the math and appreciates any venue that lets me use applied statistics on an ongoing basis. 

Kids, though...  They don't process information the way that adults do, especially engineers. In fact, even smart kids like mine can tend to get a little hung up in the details that D&D presents, and they can be overwhelmed by the sheer free-flowing nature of the game--caught in an ongoing loop of analysis paralysis by the very concept that, Hey!  I can do anything!

D&D's Fourth Edition was the worst for that because even at the basic levels it presented multiple options for doing even simple things like attacking with a sword. My girls and I have played a couple of the 4e-based board games, Wrath of Ashardalon and The Legend of Drizzt, and that kind of thing came up a lot. And while playing was still a good experience all around, invariably what happened was that the girls would get surrounded by monsters, look at me, and ask, "What should I do now?"  

"Anything you want," was not much of an answer. 

Fortunately, those board games provided Power Cards to kind of make answering that question a little easier. So if you were playing a Ranger, you might have a card for your bow attack and a couple more cards representing various sword-attacks you might make.  The girls got that. "Oh, I can do one of these things, right?"  And then Wizards of the Coast (WotC) added power cards like that to the base 4e game, and although I never tried to play the full version with my girls, I could at least see how it might have worked. Those Power Cards were a good idea. 

So. The good thing about D&D Next is that it's a little simpler than 4e, especially as a combat simulator. But the problem is that the Playtest has so far gone to some trouble to fit all of the information you need to run your character onto a single double-sided page, and that's fine if you're an engineer with experience playing the game, but it makes it a little harder if you're an 8- or 9-year-old girl. For kids, compact information like that isn't particularly easy to absorb.  Big blocks of text aren't fun the way cards are. 

So I decided to make some Power Cards. 

This is my daughter Hannah's character, Sneax the Halfling Rogue, and I thought for awhile before I decided the right way to present the information that would normally be shown on her Character Sheet. Ultimately, I went with three 5" x 8" notecards, one for character basics, one for combat options, and one for skills, feats, and other, non-combat stuff. 

So far, so good. We'll have to see how it goes when we field-test these in Maine. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

More Camping Pics

These are from Saturday night & Sunday morning. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Camping Pics

Sally and I brought the girls out camping tonight.  One night only, but it's still nice to get away. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Afternoon Ride

I wound up doing wind sprints between green lights tonight. Most of the lights in Manhattan now have Walk/Don't Walk timers, so if you're 50 yards out, and you see 8 seconds and counting, that means "Get out of the saddle and sprint!"  That happened, like, three times. But I made it every time; I don't have the kind of death-wish you have to have to just run ride lights in New York City.

So I'm a block away from the station, congratulating myself on riding hard without getting killed, when a panel-van turns right--almost straight into my rear wheel. No turn signal and obviously no situational awareness.

Turn signals, folks!  They are your friends.

And mirrors are nice, too. I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Shore 2 Pour

Today's Headlines

Today has been an exceptionally weird news day. So far we've seen:

- "Bicyclist hit by car and kidnapped"
- "Stallone to star again as Rocky in 'Creed'"
- "Amanda Bynes strips off pants to chase gas-soaked dog"

There's more, but that's all I can find in a quick, casual search. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

ComicCon Wrap Up: Looking at Marvel Through the Rearview

I didn’t go to ComicCon, and truth be told, I wasn’t overly tempted to try.  Still, after reading through some of the coverage, mostly on Newsrama, I find myself unreasonably excited about the upcoming slate of Marvel movies.
Is that normal?
This is terrific.  Not sure where Yondu fits in, but this piece here really rocks.
I’m most excited about the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie.  As a sci fi fan of a certain age, how could I not be?  If you’re like me, you saw Star Wars when you were five, and it changed your life.  Forever.  I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only who’s been waiting for damn-near thirty years to see something come out that’s just as cool.  
Guardians #1 during the DnA era.
Is the Guardians’ flick gonna finally be that thing?  I don’t know.  But I know that I loved the Abnett/Lanning run on Guardians, and if they manage to get half of the action, weirdness, and humor that that series had up onto the big screen, I feel good about saying that the movie itself will be a triumph of epic proportions.

The thing that surprises me about Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the size of the cast.  I mean, they’ve called the movie “Captain America”, but they could’ve just as easily called it “The Secret Avengers.”  They’ve got CapBuckyFalconBlack Widow, and Sharon Carter; that’s half the team from Ed Brubaker’s run on The Secret Avengers, which sounds ridiculous until you remember that Brubaker also wrote both The Death of Captain America and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, both of which look to be touchstones for the new film.  
Also on that team?  War Machine.  
Teaser poster for The Winter Soldier.
I know he’s not in the new film, but he could be.  If they were looking to tie all the films as closely together as possible.  And since we’re already talking about it, that team also includedNovaValkerie, and Moon Knight.  Nova, of course, is also sometimes a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Valkerie is an Asgardian, although I don’t know how often she actually shows up in the pages of Thor.  And I doubt they’re gonna do much with Moon Knight any time soon, but I suppose it’s possible that he’ll show up on TV in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  That’d be excellent, if only because it’s so amazingly improbable.  Anyway, I don’t think they’re looking to tie it up like that, and that’s probably for the best, but it’s interesting to see how they could.
By the way, my favorite thing about that particular run of Secret Avengers is by far and away the fact that the team itself is made up almost exclusively of street-level heroes fighting their way through a cosmic-level problem, mostly on the surface of the planet Mars.  It’s crazy stuff, and it’s excellent.  Truly excellent.
Last thought on The Winter Soldier: I hope there’s not too much sex in the movie.  I mean, I’m all for it, but my eight-year-old daughter Emma is a monster comic fan—and a specific fan of both Bucky-Cap and the Black Widow—and she’ll be crushed if we can’t take her to see Winter Soldier in theaters.
I’m less excited about Thor, probably because I’m less of a fan of Thor in the comics.  I don’t think I’ve ever purchased an issue of the Thor monthly comic—or its companion title,Journey into Mystery—but I’ll admit that the new trailers look pretty compelling.  But that’s about as much as I feel comfortable saying about it, though, because I’ve no idea what source material the new movie is based on, nor do I know anything about the underlying mythology, beyond the fact that the mythology itself isn’t particularly germane to what happens in the comics.
Well.  I will say that I’ve seen Beta Ray Bill with his arm around Sif on the cover of one of the recent issues of Journey into Mystery.  First off, that is way freaky.  And second, yeah, it’d be more than a little amazing to see Beta Ray Bill actually show up in a major motion picture.  I mean, who’d have ever thought of that?  He’s more likely to make a cameo in the Guardians of the Galaxy, but then…

I know that X-Men: Days of Future Past was the headline grabber at ComicCon, but I’m a lot more interested in seeing The Wolverine in the here and now.  That’s totally down to source material.  I know it’s a sacrilege to say it, but Days of Future Past didn’t really do much for me when I read it back in the day—nor did I particularly care for it when I read it again more recently—whereas I’ve always thought that the Wolverine-in-Japan thing was totally awesome.  The Kitty Pride and Wolverine six-issue miniseries came out when I was ten, and I remember that we all thought that it was the best thing ever.  
Frankly, I’m surprised and a little disappointed to see that Kitty isn’t in the new movie, although from the cast they’ve shown, it looks like the movie itself may well be a fairly faithful adaptation of the Frank Miller/Chris Claremont miniseries from the early 80s.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, although I don’t know if I can handle more than one rendition of, “I’m the best there is at what I do.”

A couple of things are bothering me about the new Amazing Spider-Man movie.  The first is that the movie itself is named after a book that was recently discontinued.  We’re past Amazing Spider-Man now, for better or worse, and into the age of the Superior Spider-Man.  All things considered, that’s part and parcel with everything else that’s going on with this iteration of the Spider-Man movie franchise.
The thing that kills me about it is that of all of the comics we’ve talked about, Amazing Spider-Man 2 has the best source material, easily.  It’s not even close.  I don’t know how well they’re gonna pull it off, but even today in 2013, The Death of Gwen Stacy continues to be both bone-jarringly exciting and heart-wrenching.  Not for nothing is that story probably the most iconic story in our modern comics culture.  I mean, yeah, the origin stories of Batman, Superman, and even Spider-Man are all more well-known amongst the mass populace, but when you talk about stories that change lives, that make people comics-fans-for-life, the origin stories aren’t the stories that do that.  The Death of Gwen Stacy is one of those stories that does, though, along with things like Days of Future Past or God Saves, Man Kills or even The Killing Joke*.
But if Amazing Spider-Man 2 has the best, most original source material—at the time, it was ground-breaking and even today, it’s shocking, and that’s when you know what’s coming—it feels the most like a retread.  I mean, the last movie went more-or-less exactly where the ones before it had gone, and the new one seems to be sliding closer without a hint of buzz.  And that’s a shame because the story is half of the modern Spider-Man mythos, half of what makes the world’s greatest superhero who and what he is.
My kids and I all really liked the movie version of Amazing Spider-Man, and I’m excited about seeing the next one.  But I’ll be honest and admit that I hope they do the thing right.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pitching a Dungeons & Dragons Movie

Last week I started thinking about writing a book about triathlon, and after briefly surveying the field to see what other tri-related resources are out there, I said that I might come back and talk about what my book might look like this week, were I to decide to write one.  For what it’s worth, I did sit down later in the week and briefly sketch out some potential takes on a book, and who knows?  Maybe if there’s interest, I’ll post some of that someday.
In the meantime, believe it or not, it’s actually the D&D-related content that drives the most hits to this blog.  So I spend a lot of time thinking about the fact that I ought to write more about D&D, but then when I sit down to write, that’s never what comes out of my keyboard.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Tri Training Diary: July 15 to July 21 (Race Week)

This last week was a strange, very swim-oriented week.  It was hotter than Hell, I wound up working a later-than-normal shift for part of the week, and the week ended with a race, albeit a short one.  But what’s really unusual is that I normally train on a four-week cycle--three Working Weeks followed by one Rest Week--but I broke the cycle this week because I didn’t feel like I’d put in enough work over the course of the last month to actually need a rest week.  

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hannah Sings Taylor Swift's "Invisible"

The kids went to Star Factory camp last week.  Five half-days, and they pick a song to sing in front of their assembled peers and parents.  My older daughter Hannah chose "Invisible" by Taylor Swift.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

I don't know that this year's Tour was "clean"...

... but I definitely think it was cleaner than it's been in a long time.  I say that because there are typically two really clear signs of doping, and we didn't really see either this year.

The first sign that a guy is doping is that he (or she) is on every single day, never has a bad day, and just looks super-human over the course of a three-week grand tour.  That is a physical impossibility for mere mortals, and it generally, normally, always indicates doping.  Lance Armstrong's heyday was a prime example of this kind of thing, and indeed, it was at least partly because Armstrong never, ever had a bad day at the Tour that so many folks were so suspicious.

The other big indicator of doping occurs when a guy (or girl) that no one's ever heard of comes out and just smashes everyone.  An example of that occurred during the Beijing Olympics, when 16-year-old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen came out of nowhere to destroy the field in the 400 Meter Individual Medley.  Ye's final 100 meters--the freestyle leg of the race--actually beat Ryan Lochte's, and let me just tell you, as a guy with more than almost two decades of competitive swimming under his belt, that is impossible.  It cannot be done.  There is just no way in Hell.  And the fact that no one had ever heard of Ye before makes it even worse.  Which is why everyone at the time accused her, and let me just tell you, the fact that she didn't test positive means nothing.  Armstrong never tested positive either, because he had a superb chemistry team behind him.

Anyway, this year's Tour de France saw everyone look mortal at one point or another, even the eventual race leader Chris Froome, and frankly, it made the race a lot more exciting.

What we learned, though, over the course of the last three weeks is that a cleaner race means younger riders performing better and finishing higher in the standings.  This, I think, is down solely to the recovery ability of youth, and it may well herald a sea-change in the way teams start preparing for the Tour.

Time will tell.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Agave Nectar and a Love Rekindled

Sally and I had some friends over to the house this past weekend, one of my classmates from the Academy along with his wife and daughter.  He brought over the remnants of a sampler case of Blue Moon specialty beers, and we had, well, a few of them.  I particularly liked the Agave Nectar Ale, but that may just be because there are so many vegan triathlon recipes that use agave nectar as a substitute for honey and/or sugar when you’re making homemade racing gels.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

It would be fun to be an actor...

It would be fun to be an actor, I think. But who on earth has "good availability" immediately?  And if you find someone who has it, isn't it a problem that no one else needs them right now?  I mean, good people aren't just walking around bored.  Are they?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tour de Cure: Thanks Again!

I'd like to say "Thank you" again to everyone who donated to my Tour de Cure campaign for the American Diabetes Organization this year.

I just got an email letting me know that I was a CHAMPION fundraiser from one of the event's directors, and she wants to meet for lunch to talk about how the ride went. That ought to be an interesting conversation. 

Bottom line, we raised more than $1000 for diabetes research, and that is awesome!  I also got to go on a long, hilly, and often confusing bike ride through northern NJ and southern NY. As it happens, that was excellent practice for my next race of the year, which was also a long, hilly event. 

Anyway, bravo!  You guys are excellent!

Mid-Week Update

It's been hot this week, and as a result, my group at work was asked to change our schedule a little in order to give the guys in the Control Room more comprehensive support.  I took the opportunity to volunteer to work an 11:30 am to 7:45 pm shift, mostly because it let me take a couple of days off from my regular 5:00 am grind. I have a race this Saturday, a pure swim--the Greenwich One-Mile Swim--so part of the appeal of changing my shift was that it gave me a chance to hit the pool in the mornings this week to prep for the race. 

Heading into the race, I've been keen to find a way to put in a little extra time in the pool in order to better "feel" the water, but it's been a little harder to manage that than you might think.  Ideally, I'd have swum twice or even three times last week, but that didn't happen, leaving me to both try to catch up on my yardage this week and set myself up for the race in terms of the way I'm "feeling" my stroke. 

Ultimately I decided to train hard yesterday and then do very little today, hoping to kind of split the difference between catching up and resting--if three days of rest is really considered resting, anyway. It would have been when I was a teenager, sure, but as a forty-year-old adult?  It's kind of an open question. 

Anyway, I got in the pool yesterday morning at about 7:00 am and warmed up slowly. I did 200 SKIPS, which gave me fully 1000 yards to wake up in the water and get myself moving. Then I did 8 x 200 freestyle @ 2:50, maybe 80% effort. As a main set, that wasn't too bad, and it had the virtue of being almost exactly the distance we'll be racing on Saturday. I wound up holding the first five under 2:30/100 (1:15/100 pace), but then I started getting tired and fell off the pace for reps six and seven. Number seven was so ugly that I decided to stop and rest for 2:00 in order to give myself time to get my shit back together, which was good because it let me close out the workout on an upbeat note. My last 200 was about 2:25, and that's not bad, all things considered.  Granted, I'm not the same swimmer I was when I was nineteen, but I feel good, and yesterday in particular, I felt ready to race. 

I got home, fed the kids, watched a little of yesterday's Stage, and then took the kids to this week's summer camp--Star Factory singing camp. Then it was time to catch the train into Manhattan. The train was fine, but the ride from the station into the office was hot, and the Park was full of tourists on bikes, which is not exactly the same as when it's full of regular NYC bike commuters and road riders. The regular folks tend to ride quickly and predictably, and if they run the occasional red light, at least you can almost always see it coming. Bike tourists, meanwhile, seem to know no rules and have very little in the way of situational awareness on the road. Honestly, they behave more like traffic cones than fellow riders, save that traffic cones don't suddenly change direction for no discernible reason. I survived, which is a victory, I suppose. 

Work was fine, but yesterday's commute home was legitimately terrifying. I left the office at about 7:45 pm, and while there weren't that many cars on the road, the ones there were drove with a kind of lead-footed oblivion that can make riders into street pizza. On top of that, the road was full of bikes, which is fine, but fully half of them were riding the wrong way in the bike lanes, which is terrifying when you consider how small the bike lanes are in the first place and the fact that the bike lanes are surrounded by cars, so it's not like you can just swerve carelessly out of the way of an errant wrong-way rider. 

Not fun. Again, I survived, but it felt like it was real work just dodging all the assholes out there. 


Today's morning swim wasn't quite as good as yesterday's, but I only swam an easy thousand yards, so it may well be that I just didn't give myself time to get all the way into it. Regardless, I'm ready to give my shoulders and lats a rest now in front of Saturday's race. Meanwhile, I've still got a day of wacky, off-hour bike commuting ahead of me, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't dreading it a little, especially the evening portion.  I guess the key is to take it slow and be both patient and alert. 

We'll see how it goes. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tri Training Basics: A Brief Historiography of Triathlon

I’ve been thinking for awhile about writing a book about the sport of triathlon.  I like to write, and I like triathlon, so from that standpoint, it seems like kind of a no-brainer.  Mitigating against it, though, is the reality that I’m not at all sure that the world needs another triathlon book.  Or website.  Or anything, really.  
Unfortunately, this is the kind of concern that they ingrain into your head at the U.S. Military Academy’s History Department.  You have to ask yourself where you can add something new to the established research of theory of a thing, and if you can’t immediately come up with an answer, you go through and catalogue the existing works in the field.  Said catalogue becomes a historiography, and once you’ve got that in place, hopefully you’ll have a better idea where your specific efforts ought to focus.
So.  Fact is, if you wanna learn to be a triathlete, there are a lot of really good resources that are already out there.  In this modern Internet era, finding information about the sport is as easy and going to Google.  Some of my favorite triathlon websites are:
  1. – A community forum-based site where folks talk triathlon and triathlon training.
  2. – A newsy site for those who want to follow the professional side of the sport, plus they have occasional, very professional training tips.
  3. TriFind.Com – For finding races in your state or local area.
  4. The Google+ Triathlon Community – Another community, forum-based site.  This is my favorite current site, and it’s full of really talented athletes.
  5. – I don’t read this site all that much, but they publish easy-to-read, easy-to-use training plans.
  6. – I used to write for Triathlon.About.Com.  I have no idea how much traffic the stuff that I wrote generates, but it’s mostly entry-level stuff.  Unfortunately, About.Com is strictly 90s-era Internet; it’s not by any means the easiest site to navigate.
  7. – Probably most famous as the place where you sign up for races, Active.Com also publishes quite a few articles on training and racing.
There are books, too.  I’ve probably read a half dozen, but the one I liked was the Triathlon Workout Planner by John Mora.  Mora is an accomplished athlete, but he doesn’t make the sport seem mysterious, and when he talks about his own training and his triumphs, he doesn’t make them seem unapproachable.  Instead, he kind of breaks down the reality of the sport in a way that emphasizes finding the right approach for each individual athlete, at whatever distance is appropriate.  That’s important because a lot of endurance athletes take a kind of “more is better” approach to their sport, and that’s fine up to a point, but it can become ridiculous after you get to a certain level of proficiency.  It’s awesome to be able to say that you’re an Ironman, but the reality is that training for an 11+ hour race is simply not appropriate for everyone, even folks with serious talent.  There are a lot of factors that come into plan when deciding what kind of race to target, and the Triathlon Workout Planner does a terrific job of getting into those, and many other, issues.
A lot of the ways I think about the sport of triathlon were formed by reading ideas in the Triathlon Workout Planner, and they’ve served me well.  Take that for what it’s worth.
So.  That is a (very) brief, by-no-means complete overview of the current literature on the sport of Triathlon.  It doesn’t exactly tell me where to start with my own book—or even if I ought to bother writing one—but it’s not a bad little resource if you’re looking to learn more about the sport.
Maybe next week, we’ll come back and do something like this again.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Triathlon Training Log: 7/8 - 7/4 (Week 3)

If I hadn’t gotten into the habit of putting these Training Logs up every week, I’d probably skip this week’s.  It’s been hot, I’ve got a sore right ankle and a pulled right calf, I missed two workouts, and I didn’t even commute on my bike as regularly as I would have liked last week.

Ugh.  This is not the way that successful triathletes train.

With that said, I feel like the workouts that I managed to put in were at least good, quality workouts, so maybe that makes them worthwhile.  I guess we’ll see.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

My New Cards

Finally here. Totally awesome!

You know you want one.  It's cool.  Just ask me for one when you see me.

I Made $10!

Yes!  That's it.  I did it!

We did it!!!

Yesterday, this blog finally, finally, FINALLY made it past the $10 mark in ad revenue.  Ten dollars is the minimum threshold Google requires your account to meet before they'll send you a check for your portion of your AdSense account's income, so...

Now they have to cut me a check!

Yes, no longer am I a mere servant to the man.  Now we're partners!

Seriously, when I signed up for Adsense, I really didn't give it a lot of thought.  I said, "Hey, I've got a blog; I might as well monetize it.  I mean, that's what they teach in B-School, right?"  Only, Google won't actually cut you in on whatever minuscule portion of revenue they earn on your blog until the blog itself earns enough money to be worth the effort, and it's not a bad rule, really, but it does leave you, the small-time blogger, in a position of utter exploitation.  It leaves you in a position where they're making money on your work, and they're not even cutting you in!

Well, I don't think I need to explain why that drove me bat-shit crazy.  So at that point, I realized that I was committed to this blogging thing, at least until I earned my $10.  'Cause I just can't be having somebody making money on my work, such as it is, without cutting me in.  That shit will not fly.  And now, finally, justice is served.  The universe is re-balanced, and my work, such as it is, is once again paying me--instead of somebody else.

Huzzah!  Today is a good day.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Friday on the Subway

I get downstairs just as the train doors close. Right in my face. I watch the train pull away and try to be philosophical because, hey, that shit happens.  What are you gonna do?  But it sucks because it's hot down in the station, and the sign says that the next train isn't for another four minutes, and there are already a lot of people standing around waiting on the platform. 

Why hadn't they caught the last train?  Well, this is the kind of mystery that the City offers you sometimes.  What it means for me in that moment is that the next train is gonna be CROWDED. 

The train comes, and yup, it's crowded. Dudes are pressed up to the glass like sea urchins, and when you look you can see hands scratching the windows like Kate Winslet in that scene in Titanic when she and Leo are gettin' it on in the back of that car.  Man, that scene is hot. And so's this car, but in a totally different, much less awesome way. 

The doors open, and like three people, max, squeeze out of the car, running a gauntlet of parked shopping baskets and street kids too insolent to notice that they're standing right in the way. But the door is right in front of me, so I can slither in past the people coming out, running that same gauntlet until I come to rest on the far side of the car near the opposite door. 

Dude!  What is that smell?

I look up, and my man is passed out right in front of me, big as life and twice as homeless, wearing the single dirtiest Hawaiian Shirt I have ever had the misfortune of seeing. 

Wow!  How did I not notice him when I came in?  And now we're stuck together because while the car was crowded before, now it's ridiculous. An entire family has followed me into this car, and that's fine except that now I feel like a clown in one of those circus cars where fifty guys get out of a Volkswagen Beetle. But hey, it's Friday afternoon, and I only have to get from 72nd to 125th. I can deal, right?

Amazingly, my man gets off at 110th. He stands up like he wasn't just passed out for the last God-only-knows how long and shambles out the door, taking a wheeled basket of pure horror out the door with him. He's bent over at the waist and neck--I hear that's a sign of heroin addiction, and it's a rumor that I happen to believe--but he's moving under his own power, and his gait, for all of its ponderous shuffling, is glorious. I've probably never seen anybody move who was this wasted, but my man is moving under his own power and of his own volition, and I've got to admit that it's impressive. Inevitable and thunderous as the tide. 

Anyway, my man gets out, and life gets better, even though the car's still hot, and for whatever reason, everyone in it takes that moment to push longwise from one end of the car to the other. There's nowhere to go in a crowded, moving subway car, but it's a migration, and I'm stuck in the middle of it. 

Where are they all going?  I'm telling you, these are the mysteries that animate the City. 


“If you know your enemies, and you know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles...”
--Sun Tzu, as translated by Wikiquote
A strange thing happened yesterday.  I got an email telling me that my Klout score had improved.  
This was interesting for two reasons.  The first, obviously, was the usual--who doesn’t want to have more Klout?  But the second was more intriguing; I’d thought I’d turned Klout off!  I’d blocked it on my Facebook account, and I’m not on Twitter...  I mean, I get that they track everyone whether the person wants them to or not, but still, shouldn’t my Klout score be something approaching zero?
Well, I’ll give these Klout people one thing: they know how to create a mystery.  As I was riding home yesterday on the train, the only thing I could think about was finding out what my new Klout score was.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I'm on Twitter

I give up!  I joined Twitter.  You can follow me @Dan_T_Head.

Have at it!  And let me know who I should be following.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Line of the Day

From my buddy at work:

As an engineer, you can't design a building and intentionally plan for it to fall apart and fail. But as a hedge fund manager you can do exactly that. And as long as you take out insurance ahead of time, you're a hero.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Comic Review: Guardians of the Galaxy #4

We're four issues into the new Brian Michael Bendis run on the Guardians of the Galaxy, and I still don't know what I think about it. The Bendis run seems designed to set up the movie next summer--it features the team that's gonna be in that movie, plus Iron Man, presumably to help draw more mainstream reader interest into a title that has traditionally occupied more of a niche-type market-space--but that doesn't mean that the new version of the book is better than the old ones. It merely means that it's being written to be more accessible to casual fans. Which is why Marvel gave the book to Bendis in the first place. He's their go-to guy on big projects these days.

tend to like Bendis's work, especially (oddly enough) his page layouts, but I like him more in smaller, one-on-one type books like Ultimate Spider-Man, Daredevil, or Moon Knight. His strengths--snappy dialogue and deep character development--tend to get lost in team books, even in the really good ones like New Avengers. And I LOVED New Avengers, but it was definitely the exception that proved the rule; all the Bendis ticks were there, he just made them work against type because he likes Luke Cage so much.  That's cool; I like Cage, too. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Triathlon Training Log: 7/1 - 7/7 (Week 2)

Man, I am exhausted.  This wasn't even some huge training week, but between the heat and having my folding bike in the shop, I got behind early and then had to try to catch up, and that's been a challenge.

Now I realize that what passes for heat in Connecticut is not actually hot by much of the rest of the country's standards.  But Connecticut is not really optimized for hot weather, and indeed, my house doesn't even have central AC.  So when I say that we've had 90- to 92-degree weather for the past couple of days, just keep in mind what that means.  Our house is a well-designed bungalow with lots and lots and lots of windows, and we live two miles from the beach and get plenty of refreshing breezes, even when it's hot.  But once it gets over 90, there's not much that we can do to stay cool except hide in the basement--where it's always nice, even on super-hot days--or hide in our rooms where we have the window AC units.  Granted, Stratford doesn't tend to see more than a dozen days above 90-degrees in an entire year, but those few days are never pleasant.

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Real Princess Rides Side-Saddle

The same toy store also had miniatures from the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. That said, I can't imagine the guy who'd give his kids a three-set of Nazi staff officers--and don't want to!

Of course, it's not a trip to the toy store without a new stuffie. 


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Business Cards

Sally wants to order some business cards from Vistaprint to support her kiddo-art teaching business, Art and the Artist.  It's $10 for 250 cards.

So naturally, Sally asked me if I wanted some, too.  Here's my first cut.
I'm not sure that they're quite ridiculous enough, but
believe it or not, I could actually use some cards like this.
When I meet people out at races or at barbecues or neighborhood functions or whatever, we inevitably start talking beer or triathlon or movies or whatever, and a lot of time, folks ask me how we can get in touch later.  I prefer not to use my actual work cards for that; work is work, life is life, and as far as I'm concerned, the further apart the two are, the better.  

Having something like this would be great for regular social functions.  "Y'know, yeah, here's my number and my email... Gimma a ring."  Having something like that would be really great.

Monday, July 1, 2013


I'm $.55 away from getting my first paycheck from Google for the ad revenue generated by this site.  That's one month's worth of revenue in a good month or two months if those months are crappy.  That may sound ridiculous--and it is--but sometimes you set a goal and don't let go. That's been me with this. if you think it sounds easy earning $10 with a blog, then I challenge you try it and see for yourself. Granted, this blog's not really about anything, and that hurts me a little, but still...

It ain't that easy!

Triathlon Training Log: 6/24 to 6/30 (Impromptu Rest Week)

This week was the week that I should have had last week.

I was super-fired-up coming off of my big race two weeks ago.  So instead of taking some time to back it down and, well, not so much recover physically as just reset mentally and emotionally after six months of consistent, consecutive physical training, I decided to just jump right back in.  I set new goals, set up a new training schedule, and basically rolled from one challenging thing straight into the next challenging thing without so much as a pause to catch my breath.