Many people have been using social media to share something they are thankful for each day in November. I wasn’t quite that ambitious, but I certainly give thanks for many, many things. Many are a given – family, health, friends, job, etc. Those are too generic and easy, don’t you think? Here are some more specific, random, and weird things on my list, in no particular order:
- Brooks running shoes, particularly the Adrenaline GTS that helped with my knee problems.
- The moment on my birthday last month when I came home from a run and Brenden and Jonathan ran up to me to give me a hug and say “happy birthday”.
- Having parents who are willing to watch my kids so Jenny and I can have time to just be us.
- My talented and amusing coworkers who charge $8.00 for a pack of Zingers and use a well-lit flying pig and pink flamingo as Christmas decorations.
- The way my wife knows, understands, accepts, and appreciates me like no one else can.
- Living in a small neighborhood that gets very little traffic, has no HOA, and has good neighbors
- The fair-trade movement in coffee that strives to pay coffee growers a fair price for their product instead of exploiting them
- The ability to send text messages to my flights instead of trying to track them down on the radio
- McAlister’s sweet tea, tasty sandwiches, and 99c kids’ meals.
- Having a blog where I can be real and talk about whatever I want
- My various iGizmos that keep me connected to my data and people
- The awesomeness of sharks
- Sleeping in a warm bed in a cold room
- E-books. Seriously, give one a try if you haven’t already.
- Live sports. Have you ever really thought about how amazing it is that we can watch a game live from thousands of miles away, often in high def?
- Travel. Not too long ago, many people never ventured farther than 50 miles from their birthplace.
- Good health insurance from my generous employer.
- Lotion for my dry, cracked hands in the winter months.
What unusual things are you thankful for this week?
Inspired both by the US Olympic swimming trials and by my own desire to wring every drop of value from my new gym membership (I finally joined Jenny’s gym), I’ve started getting into swimming. Not the splash-around-with-the-kids kind, but the dive-in-and-haul-ass kind. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
- Fitness can be much more activity-specific than I realized. Swimming is a great way to learn that lesson really quickly. I’m in decent shape for running and cycling, but I was sucking wind after ONE LAP in the pool. Oy vey.
- Those Olympic swimmers are fast. Really, really fast. They make it look easy on TV, but when an average Joe like me tries to swim the same event, the differences become painfully obvious. I timed myself on a lap in the breaststroke, and the Olympians are literally going twice as fast.
- Indoor lap pools feel cold when you first get in, but after a lap, they feel fine because your out-of-shape body is already heating up.
- Swimsuits suck. Yes, I’ve already blogged about that, but it’s worth mentioning again this season. It is nice that my gym has water extractor machines that can spin most of the water out, but you still have a damp swimsuit to deal with once you’re done.
- The tight-fitting swim briefs generally (and inaccurately) known as Speedos make much more sense for fitness swimming than the baggy suits that American men are expected to wear. Why drag a parachute through the water when you’re trying to win a race? Yes, I do plan to get a Speedo. No, you won’t have to see me in it. I’ll save it for lap swimming at the gym. (You’re welcome.)
- If you want the lap pool (and the rest of the gym) to yourself, show up at 3:00am. This morning I saw two people in the entire cavernous building that didn’t work there.
- On a related note, 3:00am is also a great time to practice swim skills that are woefully subpar, such as my butterfly. When Michael Phelps does the butterfly, he looks like a locomotive plowing down a track. When I attempt it, no one knows what I look like since I have the pool to myself, but I feel like a three-legged cow that fell into a river. That stroke is pretty much impossible for me. Granted, I never learned the proper way to do it and could certainly improve, but my body just does not want to move in that way.
- My mom was adamant about swim lessons, and I’m glad she was. During the swim lessons of my youth, I learned four strokes: freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, and sidestroke. The instructors might have mentioned the butterfly, but they didn’t actually teach it, probably because a four-year-old doesn’t have the necessary strength. My favorite stroke is the sidestroke. Unfortunately, the swimming gurus of the world don’t consider it worthy for competition. It’s mainly used by beginning swimmers, lifeguards, and endurance swimmers.
- My swim breathing needs a lot of work. That’s the main reason I prefer the sidestroke: it keeps my face above water. I usually breaststroke with my head above water as well, but I know that’s inefficient. I usually end up choking when I freestyle with my head in the water or when I backstroke. And I just drown if I attempt to butterfly. If I ever wanted to get serious about swimming, some swim lessons would be in order.
- The typical lap pool length seems to be around 25 meters. The pools you see in Olympic competition are 50 meters. So an elite swimmer could go from one end of my gym’s pool to the other in about 15 seconds.
Look, I threw in a picture! It’s not my picture, but I liked it and stole it from the Interwebs.
Lots of thoughts today, but none big enough to put into its own post (for now). So here are some things to chew on:
- I am disappointed but not surprised by the victory for Amendment One in North Carolina, which enshrines a ban on gay marriage in the state constitution. However, I am hopeful that if the Supreme Court decides to rule on the issue of gay marriage within a year or two, laws like Amendment One and California’s Prop 8 will be ruled unconstitutional, effectively authorizing gay marriage throughout the country. If Obama is re-elected, I think he’ll fully support gay marriage in his second term. He can’t do it right now because it would cost him some crucial independent votes.
- During my run, I found a guy letting his dog take a dump in his neighbor’s yard. He walked off like nothing had happened. Nope, not today, jerk. When I got close, I asked if he had a bag. Looking embarrassed, he muttered something and turned back. I kept running, so I’m not sure whether he actually cleaned it up or not. I should have asked him where his house was so I could go take a dump in his yard.
- Dear clowns who call in bomb threats for flights (if any of them happen to follow AndyBox.com): all you’re doing is wasting everyone’s time and delaying flights. Real bombers probably don’t bother to call.
- I’m running about 20 miles a week now and plan to roughly maintain that level through the summer, although not setting any speed records due to the heat. I’m generally doing 6 miles on Monday, 4 on Wednesday, and 10-11 on Saturday. If I run-walk and hydrate enough, which is means a LOT of water for me because I sweat like a soaker hose, I can handle the heat OK even on a long run. I just got a new style of knee brace, a compression sleeve that covers my whole patella, and I’m liking it so far. I might get another one for my other knee. That way I can be symmetrical, and there will be joy.
- With the possibility of our first family trip to Disney World looming next year, I’ve started thinking about booking flights. I haven’t bought a real airline ticket in 15 years, so it’s a bit odd to think about flights like a normal customer rather than a nonrev. I’m most concerned about price and departure/arrival time and mostly unconcerned with the number of people onboard. It’s completely backwards! Also, it turns out that flying is pretty expensive. Fortunately, I should have enough Rapid Rewards points to get at least three of our tickets, maybe even all four.
- I am tired of hearing people mention factors like race and sexual orientation in casual conversation when those qualities have zero relevance to the story they’re telling. If it matters to your story that a person is black or gay or Mexican or mentally retarded or whatever, then by all means include it. Otherwise, he’s just “a guy”, not “a black guy”. When you toss in irrelevant information, you’re simply revealing your prejudice toward those people.
- One of my Facebook buddies is the community pastor at my church. I thought she seemed cool, so I friended her on Facebook. Our main connection is running. Until we raced together last month, I’d never held a real conversation with her in person. Our interaction had solely come through Facebook and an occasional “hi” at church. These are some of the strange types of relationships that social media makes possible.
- I write one check per month. It goes to my boys’ preschool. I pay everything else online or automatically via my credit card. Checks are not my friend. Unless, of course, someone wants to give one to me. Then they are great.
- Have I mentioned lately how glad I am not to be famous? No interviews, no paparrazzi, no public scandals, no pressure to please millions of diverse people. It’s also kinda nice not to be rich, either. Being a millionaire would change me somehow, and maybe not for the better. Plus I don’t have to worry about sycophants and thieves who want things from me.
OK, I’ll make you a deal. If I can come up with 10 more random facts about me, you have to post 10 random facts about yourself. Sound good? Great.
- I hate pickles. On occasion I forget to tell the person behind the counter at Chick-Fil-A that I hate pickles, and my chicken sandwich gets contaminated. Then I am sad.
- I judge businesses largely by their websites and their responsiveness to email. If a business is going to spend the time and money to build a website, it should be well-designed, professional-looking, and capable of telling me almost anything I want to know as a customer. If I email the business, I want a response within 1 business day that answers the specific questions I ask. These are big demands, but I’m very impressed when a business meets them. I emailed two bike shops this week, and both failed. One never responded at all. The other responded quickly but obviously didn’t read my email closely. I wrote back but haven’t heard from it since.
- I hate to sweat unless I’m working out. That’s largely because I’m paranoid about body odor for some reason. Please, Lord, let me never be THAT GUY.
- I once urinated in public. Next to a cop car. While on a ride-along with a cop. He was looking for bad guys, and I was about to explode, so I went for it.
- Despite my view that he’s taking way too much credit for our state’s comparative economic health, and largely because many people believe those claims, I predict that Rick Perry will win the White House next fall.
- After feeling convicted during a church retreat, I came home and destroyed my Nine Inch Nails CDs. A decade later I changed my mind and bought back my favorite NIN song (“Wish”) on iTunes.
- When I’m stressed or depressed, I tend to comfort myself with food, especially sweets. Fortunately, I was blessed with my mom’s metabolism and a life that isn’t terribly stressful most of the time.
- Something about the idea of rank appeals to me, especially in a military context. Maybe it’s the chance for a career progression and always having something to work toward. I enjoy studying the military ranking system and comparing it across the different branches, such as the equivalency of a Navy Captain to an Air Force Colonel. Yet I also find a rigid ranking system a bit risky. Being ranked higher than someone else doesn’t automatically make that person right, yet it gives him/her the ability to issue orders.
- I’m really, really glad I’m not a politician. So is my wife. And my mom.
- I wish I could have a Groundhog Day in which I could experiment with all sorts of different interpersonal scenarios and wild adventures, sorta like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. I would definitely do some stupid things like going streaking at a Ranger game or trying to eat the 72oz steak at the Big Texan in Amarillo, but I would also try having the same conversation in different ways to see what works best, how fast I could drive on the freeway without wrecking, and how it would feel to tell off a coworker who gets on my nerves. I would probably drink more milkshakes, too.