Category Archives: Running

Headphone Quest

I’m on a mission from God.

I need some good headphones or earbuds.

Years ago Sony made a really, REALLY good set that I just loved. This was before Bluetooth really worked well so they were corded, but that was fine. They had the BEST little hooks to go over my ears, they wouldn’t fall out or jiggle loose if I was running or exercising, they were comfortable, and they had great sound.

Of course, Sony stopped making them. No doubt just to spite me and piss me off. Well played, Sony…

I still have a pair, but they don’t work with my current iPhone since Apple in their utterly finite wisdom decided to get rid of the headphone jack on the iPhone 8.

Since I upgraded to the iPhone 8 a couple years ago it’s been one thing after the other, none of which is particularly satisfying.

The corded funky-shaped fancy ones that come with the iPhone give the best sound – but they don’t stay in very well.

I’ve got people at the office who sing the praises of the Apple Bluetooth ear buds, which are basically the same as the corded funky-shaped fancy ones but without the cord. They don’t stay in very well and then when they fall out they’re lost (and expensive to replace) because they’re not on a cord. Bounce, bounce, bounce, away they go, into traffic, into the gutter, into the bushes, into oblivion.

I researched ear buds for runners, corded and cordless, and got a pair of the best reviewed set.  The best thing about them is that they’re at least are connected together by a cord that hangs on the back of your neck. I’m not sure who reviewed them and said they were the best, but I have some strong disagreements on their assessment. They’re fine (mostly) if I’m sitting at my desk, but even walking around the house has them falling out.

So, falling out’s a problem! #1 on the hit parade when it comes to being useless. Screw that design!

I went on Amazon a couple of weeks ago and found a couple of different “cheap” (i.e., less than $30) corded “over the ear” ear bud sets. They stay on better than the ones without the “over the ear” plastic bits, but they’re nowhere near as good as the old, beloved Sonys. And while they stay on my ears, they’re not very good at staying IN my ears. They’re constantly creeping loose and wiggling out, so that while I can still hear the music, it’s tinny and a lot of outside sound gets in.

They’re better, but only because the bar wasn’t very stinking high.

Looking online it seems that possibly the best bet is to go to a full set of headphones rather than ear buds. I was sticking with ear buds because I want to run and exercise with them and I’m assuming that it’s awkward to do that with a full set of Beats (or whatever) on and that they would be heavy. But maybe that’s an assumption to be tested.

Of course, if I get a nice pair of wireless Beats (or whatever) and the sound is great and they’re lightweight for running and all of those wonderful things, then they probably cost $300 or more. And they may or may not be waterproof or water resistant, which is an issue since I tend to sweat when running long distances and sometimes do it in inclement weather.

Which, to be clear, at this point, I would pay if I could just solve the damn problem. I just don’t want to spend it and then find out that I simply have yet another set that are so-so at best and tend not to get used because they piss me off.

Any suggestions? Does anyone have anything that they’ve found wonderful for running and exercising that gives good sound but also is light and comfortable?

Alternately, if anyone sees that photo and says, “Oh, those are Sony XYZ87’s – I’ve got a whole box of them here we’re trying to get rid of, do you want four dozen pairs or five,” please let me know. I’ll worship at your feet.

As soon as I figure out how to plug the things into my iPhone 8. Or downgrade back to an iPhone 6.

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Filed under Music, Running

Thoughts On Running – January 3rd

As always, it is much, MUCH better to have run than to be going to run.

High school kids are idiots. Or maybe it’s stoners who are idiots. (Do they still call them “stoners?” How about “potheads?” I might be dating myself, but that ship has no doubt sailed so many times before it looks like a damn ferry.)

Coming past the Catholic high school with the football field lit up so you can see it from space. The baseball field is between the street and the football field. Between the baseball field and the sidewalk is a dark pool, the blinding lights blocked by the third base dugout. In that spot, hidden only by shadows but otherwise clearly visible to the street and sidewalk traffic, sit a half dozen kids, lighting up.

Do they really, REALLY think that no one sees them? That no one sees the glowing embers being passed from person to person, even though they’re trying to cup their hands around them? Do they really, REALLY think that no one can smell it? Hell, I smelled them all the way down turning the corner from Woodlake, two blocks away! Finally, if I can see and smell them, do they think that no one in the rectory house at their Catholic high school can smell them, FIFTY FREAKIN’ YARDS AWAY next to the first base dugout?

It was a mystery to me as I jogged past, but I decided not to call them out or wave at them as I went by. Mainly because the best explanation that I had for the data was that it wasn’t just high school kids, but the priests out there too.

2.69 miles in 40:34 is a decent 15:04 pace for a first outing in months and months and months.

I’m just now getting to the 24-hour mark where my thighs and ankles have recovered from the shock and have joined forces to make every act of cellular mitosis a little slice of hell. It will be better tomorrow, and vital that I get at least some running in again tomorrow or Friday, but for now, going down a flight of stairs in hard-soled dress shoes is on a par with waterboarding.

You have a lot of time to think about things while running, and I did. But I just realized that not once in that 40:34 did I think about national politics. If that’s not an incentive to lace up the shoes again on a regular basis, I don’t know what is.

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A Thousand Stories

Well, here we are at the end of 2017. In a year where it felt like my head was spinning 24/7, my year-end thoughts aren’t any more organized, but I would like to take the opportunity to throw out a semi-organized rant. With that in mind:

2017 – what a cluster fuck!

It’s not that there weren’t any good things at all. To me it seems that it’s the contrast between the highs and lows that was the killer. The highs were higher but fewer and further between. (The August total solar eclipse, “Hamilton,” seeing Depeche Mode at the Hollywood Bowl, to name a few.)

Meanwhile, the lows were just unrelenting and grim on several fronts. Both my day job and my volunteer job at the CAF had time and workload pressures all year that were like trying to stuff ten pounds of pickles into a five-pound pickle bag.

Over everything was the current US political and social crises. Looking back at the year in that light, the “good” news is that the economy hasn’t collapsed and we haven’t gotten involved in a nuclear war. But on both topics there’s a feeling of impending doom and the fear that the next word in the conversation is “yet!”

When that’s your standard for “good,” i.e., not having thirty or forty million people unemployed or not having three hundred or four hundred million people dead, it’s hard to feel giddy about the accomplishment.

Personally, one comment stood out and has stuck with me as I’ve been spinning and trying to juggle priorities with too little time, too little sleep, too little money, and too much stress. At one point this year, while trying to sort through priorities at work, my boss commented something to the effect of, “You probably have a thousand stories written, but none of them have a final chapter.

That stung – particularly because it hit so close to home. She was offering an honest, constructive criticism and I never thought that she meant it literally. (I don’t even know if she knows that I write or have written.) But in the broader sense she’s absolutely correct – at home, at work, and at the CAF I do have dozens and dozens of various ongoing tasks at any given point and it often takes forever to actually get them finished. Some never get finished, just dropped to the wayside, with the intent to get back to them “soon.”

So while I won’t be making any New Year’s resolutions (for all the reasons that make them artificial and useless and a waste of time) I will be trying to remember to be more focused and to always be more conscious of the “finish line” in any project.

For example, largely due to time pressure, there are a dozens of “loose threads” with articles I’ve written here. Have I shown any more of my series of travel pictures lately? A quick search shows that my New York pictures had parts #14 and #15 posted in April, part #16 posted in May, and part #17 posted in July. Since then…crickets.

What’s up with that?

Did I ever share the full stories and pictures and video from the eclipse in August? That would be a big, fat “no!”


I’ve written about running marathons and how I’ve found it to be about 33% physical and 66% mental. If you do the training, you know that you can run that far and you have a decent idea of what sort of time you can accomplish, along with a goal that you would like to push yourself to. Despite that, there will be a dozen times (or a hundred) along the course where your body just wants to quit. Your brain is being assaulted by stimuli and pain and it would be just a short jog along the path of least resistance to simply pull over and get on one of those buses that will take you back to the finish line.

But mentally, you have to have trained yourself to Keep. Going. Anyway.

You know that the finish line is out there and until you reach it, you Will. Not. Stop.

One of the things I found after starting to run was that I could use that same mental ability in other, non-physical aspects of life. Such as handling an overwhelming work load or an impossible deadline.

I’m not doing that now.

In both the physical (running) and the non-physical (getting a project done) worlds, it’s a pain in the ass, a full on horrible bitch of a time when you’re in it. You HATE it. But it is so incredibly satisfying when you hit that finish line, even more so if you’re able to meet or exceed your goals. So while you swear during the process that you will NEVER do this again, that sense of accomplishment will call you back. Especially if it’s something like work or something you’re passionate about. You’re going to be doing it (or have to be doing it) anyway, so why not set a goal, hit it, and get the self-satisfaction of the accomplishment?

I haven’t run in a while. I’ve lost that discipline, and it shows in several ways, most of which I’m not satisfied or happy with. I need to get it back.

Focus. Regain that “runner’s mentality.” Reach those finish lines.

Write those final chapters.

Even if that doesn’t help get rid of the festering cancers we have in Washington and their legions of vile sycophants that are now crawling out from under the rocks where they’ve been hiding, at least I’ll be in better shape to fight them, both mentally, physically, and financially.

Kick 2018’s ass!

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Filed under Paul, Politics, Running, Writing

The Marathon Runner’s Mindset

I’ve been thinking about this the last couple of days.

One of the things you learn running marathons is that it’s only about 1/3 physical. The rest is mental.

You are capable of doing amazing things and pushing yourself far beyond where you might normally think you can – if you train yourself to not stop.

“Never give up! Never surrender!” Yeah, that.

Do. Not. Stop.

This applies to other facets of life as well.

Implementation of this lesson is left as an exercise for the student.

In a possibly related note, I was signed up for the Angels Charity 5-K run in April today. I can walk 5K in my sleep – in about 45-50 minutes. A really good – not Kenyan or world class, but really good marathon runner can do a 5K as warmup in the 15-20 minute range. My time will be somewhere in between. Vegas odds are that it will be closer to 45-50 than it will be to 15-20.

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Slacker Redux!!

“Thus it came to pass that the heady days of travel, sightseeing, and exercise were confronted with the tidal wave (think of Tia Lioni’s final scene of ‘Deep Impact’) of sucky, cold, miserable reality. And there was much wailing, lamenting, and gnashing of teeth.”


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Filed under Paul, Running


Look at that pathetic performance on the 6th, 7th, and 8th! What the hell was I doing all day?!

Oh, yeah, I was chained to a series of desks trying to get enough done so I could go off to The Big Apple for eight days.

Without looking back at the panoramas for that week, can you guess which days I:

a) walked all over Central Park for hours, only to realize that I had still only seen maybe 20% of it?

b) walked all over Liberty Island, Ellis Island, the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and did the Bataan Death March through a huge chunk of Lower Manhattan?

c) started the day by walking the Brooklyn Bridge?

Sure. I knew you could.

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Filed under Health, Running, Travel

Run To Get Rid Of The Crazy?

Maybe this is why I should be running again. Although it seems that all of the really good one-liners are on women’s shirts only.

This, or a punching bag, would come in handy sometimes.

Listening to Pink Floyd tonight, that always helps my frustrated head, right? Okay, so maybe “The Wall” wasn’t the best choice for restoring one’s faith in humankind.

Tomorrow the sun rises again and the battle resumes.

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Random Photo For May 3rd

Last night I sat down to quickly pick, write, and post something. Thinking was contraindicated, and brevity was a real goal. Ninety minutes and 895 words later, it was obvious that those plans had gone a bit off the rails. Here’s what I wanted to do before I went off into la-la land.

Given my filing system for photos and given the way Chuck Wendig has us use random numbers to pick a subject for our Flash Fiction Challenges, for those days when I haven’t got a clue what to post about and need a “seed idea” to start with, why not combine random numbers with my filing system? Pick a number between 1999 and 2015. Pick a number between 1 and 12. Pick a number between 1 and 31 (or 30 or 28). Odds are better than 50/50 that there were photos taken that day. If necessary, re-pick that third number to get a date where pictures were taken. If necessary, pick a letter between “a” and whatever the last one used is to narrow down which directory to pick from.

Find a single photo from that directory for today’s topic.

See, isn’t that simple? There’s a neat little app that will do this now, so it works like this — 2012 + 3 + 16

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the day before I ran my first marathon. The LA Marathon Fair was filling a good chunk of the Dodger Stadium parking lot and we were there to pick up our bibs and swag.

Honda was at that time the big official automobile sponsor of the LA Marathon, and they had a minivan that had been detailed with the names of about 20,000 runners. Can you find my name?

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Filed under Los Angeles, Photography, Running

Juicy Chunks O’ Wisdom For Saturday, February 7th

‘Cause I ran a 5K today without benefit of any training, that’s why.

  • My 5K time was 44:03 officially. How “good” that might be is a matter of perspective. If I were in the kind of shape I would prefer to be in, that would completely suck. Under 30 minutes would be a good time. On the other hand, given the absolute zero training time, 44:03 and still breathing and not needing an ambulance is pretty good.
  • Every cell phone company is running ads where they show you a US map with their SuperDuper 5G+ coverage in a bright color, their 4G coverage areas in a slightly less vibrant shade, their 3G coverage area in a pale shade, and some grey areas out in Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, and about 99% of North Dakota. There’s some fine print there that I can never read, but I’m betting that part of it says something like, “Grey areas represent areas where you are up the creek without a paddle. Have a nice day.”
  • Where everyone else was in a 5K “race”, we were in a 5K “run.” (I ran with my LA Marathon training partner from 2012, who happened to live a couple blocks away and be neighbors with one of the organizers.) Early on, when everyone else was taking off into the distance and I was trying to get at least one lung to work, my goal for the day became obvious. There was a young woman who was running while pushing a stroller with twins and a seven or eight-year-old in tow. The only “racing” I wanted to do was beat her.
  • Sunday morning, grocery shopping, about 10:30. I’m passed by a frazzled looking guy who’s wearing a sweatshirt, red checkered pajama bottoms, and slippers. He’s carrying a jar of peanut butter, a bottle of vodka, a quart of orange juice, and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. No one bats an eye — this is Los Angeles after all. The only question I had was, “Chunky or smooth peanut butter?”
  • The mom with the twins in the jogging stroller? We totally kicked her ass, finished at least two minutes ahead of her! WIN!! (At this point, I’ll take them where I can get them.)
  • The Long-Suffering Wife notes that I missed a couple of things in my analysis of how we’re looking for a good place to retire in a few years. I guess I thought they were obvious “givens,” but we will need someplace with good, high-speed internet. She would also like to find a place which has a good deli, but would settle for a place that has decent bagels.
  • Old note found — “Having a cat asleep on your lap when the Raccoons Of An Unusual Size start romping around on the roof can be…unpleasant.” Yes, yes it could.
  • Someone else noted that the title “Where’s A Good Place To Retire To?” should be “Where’s A Good Place To Which To Retire?” Never finish a sentence with a preposition. Fine. Granted. By the way, have you heard the joke about the cowboy and the snooty, uppity Brit?
  • Overall for my age group (male, 55-59) I finished eleventh. And no, it wasn’t out of eleven! (You know that you were thinking it, weren’t you.) It was out of thirteen. Since I was expecting to finish fifteenth out of thirteen, again, WIN!!
  • On the 101 Freeway headed toward Ventura, where they often have a 5th lane on the far right that begins where an onramp dumps traffic onto the freeway and ends at the next exit where it is a mandatory exit lane. Traffic is reasonably heavy. A handful of cars are getting on the freeway, and the first three or four are having a difficult time getting into the through-traffic lanes. As the “exit only” ramp approaches, I see that the final car isn’t hanging back to find an open spot. It’s a classic, cherry red, convertible Mustang, probably a ’65 or ’66, top down, and the driver is making an extremely aggressive move to gun it and squeeze into an open spot several cars ahead, barely making it before the lane exits. I’m figuring that it’s some kid who’s got more testosterone than brains. Then I pull up next to it a couple miles later and see that it’s a woman, probably in her late 60’s or early 70’s, boufant hairdo like something straight out of an “Animal House” sorority, wrapped up in a thin, transparent scarf like my mom always wore. She’s grinning like she just stole the car. YOU GO, GIRL!!

Remember, “I may be old, overweight, and slow — but I’m ahead of you” (Gotta get me one of those running shirts!)

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Filed under Cats, Critters, Juicy Chunks, Paul, Running, Sports, Writing

Tin Foil Hats At The Ready!

Watch out today, at least in Los Angeles. I don’t know if it’s something in the air, something in the water, a change in the solar neutrino flux, or a variation in tachyons arriving from the galactic core, but it’s time to put on your tin foil hats!

I had a few errands to run this morning, no biggie. Post office. Bank. Restock the pet food larder. Maybe go pick up the new John Scalzi book and/or the new Richard Kadrey book and/or the new Brad Paisley album. No biggie.

It started at the post office. There were a few cars in line for the drive-through mail drop and something was making the line go slow. I finally saw that there was a booth set up on the sidewalk. A couple of people from the booth were trying to talk to the drivers as cars left the mailbox and waited to exit onto the street. When it was my turn, I saw that it was a fanatical group trying to rally support to impeach Obama.

While the opportunities for entertainment were clear, so were the opportunities to raise my blood pressure.

First off, I’m a huge fan of the First Amendment, even when it means that we have to give assholes and subhumans like the Westboro Baptist Church the right to picket funerals. I despise people like that with the fiery passion of a thousand suns, but I understand that if I want those rights for me and people who agree with me, I also have to allow those rights to people I detest.

Secondly, I try real hard to be tolerant and give everyone a chance, maybe two. (It’s my Catholic school education, I’m sure.) However, after that point, my tolerance level drops off pretty fast. People who insist on demonstrating repeatedly that they’re delusional, anti-social, ignorant, or psychotic are fools who no longer deserve to be suffered gladly. The screaming folks with the big posters of Obama made to look like Hitler? They might have at least one strike against them to start with.

This guy wanted to shove propaganda flyers into my face before I could get the window rolled up after dropping off my mail — I declined to accept. (Strike one.) This dude looking like a poster child for a white supremacy group screamed at me, asking if I knew we were all doomed if Obama wasn’t “stopped” — I ignored him. (Strike two.) He then asked if I had ever considered the “evidence” that Obama was a fascist, socialist, Nazi dictator…

In my defense, the street was full of cars in front of me and I couldn’t go anywhere anyway.

I asked him if he knew the difference between fascists, socialists, and Nazis, since they were all different and in many respects had opposing policies and viewpoints and hated each other.

He pointed at the Hitler mustache on the poster and told me that Obama was just like Hitler! I told him that I didn’t know that Hitler’s mustache made him evil, I had always thought that it was senseless slaughter of millions of innocent people.

He told me that when I looked in the mirror I would see that mustache on myself and know that I was a Nazi too. I told him when he looked in the mirror he would see a psychotic idiot in desperate need of some serious mental help.

He started listing the conspiracies all around us regarding AIDS and 9-11 and global warming and the United Nations, saying that if we ignored the danger we would all be locked up in gulags. I pointed out that if Obama was really a dictator, nut jobs like him wouldn’t be sitting on the sidewalk ranting. He and his friends would be dead and no one would ever find the bodies, so ipso facto, Obama wasn’t a dictator.

I may have been using intellectual arguments above his weight class.

Traffic was clearing and I started to move. As I did so, I saw the poster on the front side of the fold-up table they had. It was urging people to impeach that Nazi-socialist-communist-fascist-dictator Obama and join Lyndon LaRouche in saving the country. His obvious problems with reality made so much more sense now! I told my delusional friend that he needed to find a better cult to join next time. I suggested one with lots of sex and drugs might be more to his liking. He called me a Nazi again, we flipped each other off, and I left.

You don’t see that every day in the San Fernando Valley!

Nor do you normally see folks jogging in 95° heat while wearing full, black sweat suits, including full-length sweatpants and a hoodie pulled up over their head. Yes, you see folks jogging. Yes, you even see a few of them out jogging in 95° weather. But I’ve never seen anyone dressed like it’s 35° when it’s 95° and running at a good pace to boot. It looked like a good way to either wake up in intensive care needing multiple organ transplants or to simply wake up dead. Good luck, guys, you’re going to need it. Stay hydrated!

Then, for a more common bizarre circumstance for LA, there was apparently a huge accident on the freeway. The westbound freeway was gridlocked. Grid. Locked.

I didn’t know until I got within a block or so of the onramp. Then I could see that traffic wasn’t moving at all, dead stop, so I decided to stay off the freeway and get to the book store on surface streets. Unfortunately, the freeway backup apparently had been there for a while, had multiple lanes blocked, and the gridlock went back at least six or seven miles, so a few hundred thousand of my close, personal friends had decided to use that street as an alternate route.

No one was moving. Period.

But a significant number were driving like freakin’ idiots. (Big surprise, I know, right?) People cutting into shopping center parking lots, going 100 yards, then trying to cut back out into traffic in order to pass ten or twelve cars. People doing U-turns across the center divider islands into gridlocked traffic coming the other way. People ignoring the traffic control cops who were trying to keep some semblance of order at the bigger interchanges, and getting away with it because there was no way to stop and/or cite them.

After about fifteen minutes I made it a half mile and was able to turn away from it all onto a side street and escape. (Knowing the local topography intimately is a huge help in such circumstances — I recommend running to get to know all of the side streets on a first name basis.)

As I bailed on the book store errand and got back towards home, I went by the post office and saw our favorite neighborhood whackjobs still out there harassing postal patrons. I thought briefly of letting them know about the massive gridlock a couple miles away. Down there were thousands and thousands of helpless motorists who would have no opportunity at all to get away from their delusional diatribes. It would be like shooting ducks in a barrel!

The word “shooting” triggered the realization that many of those frustrated, pissed-off, short-tempered motorists might well be armed. As entertaining as it was to think of these deluded dimwits being shot at, I decided to leave well enough alone.

Instead I’m at home, making more tin foil hats and tin foil liners for my athletic supporter cups. It might be a long weekend in LA.

I think it’s the neutrinos.


Filed under Farce, Freakin' Idiots!, Los Angeles, Politics, Running