Paper Jam

Readers of a certain age might remember during their youth catching a never ending supply of reruns of a 60s cartoon called the Jetsons. This was a story about a futuristic family that lived in a space-aged world complete with flying cars and robot housekeepers.250px-Jetsonslogo640x480 As a little boy in the early 70s watching this show, I envisioned a future where I could have some of the same 21st century innovations enjoyed by George, Jane his wife, daughter Judy and – we can’t forget – his boy Elroy! (Ain’t it funny how I can remember the lyrics to a cartoon I watched 40+ years ago, but I have to write a note to myself to pick up the dry cleaning after work Monday?) What made me think about this classic cartoon was the meticulous preparation one must undergo to perform that quinquennial ritual of getting one’s driver’s license renewed. You see in my state, and most likely yours, one must provide social security verification and – among other things – proof of residency in the form of printed utility bills, bank statements or similar documents. IMG_0346Editor’s note: Here at the Chronicles, we have a long-standing, vigorously enforced no bitch and moan policy. So please don’t view this post as my complaining. Truth be told, I zipped through the process this morning in under an hour. My issue is simply my surprise that in 2015, we are still so dependent on paper documents for identity verification. In fact, this is one of the few times I can think of that I have to dust off my decades old original social security card. I guess those old habits are hard to break. We may never arrive at time when we’re walking around with bar codes tattooed to our necks like that old Jessica Alba Sci-Fi drama from the early millennium, nor will we ever have RFID chips subcutaneously embedded. Of course given the recent spate of digital identity thefts and security breaches, maybe hanging on to our paper roots ain’t such a bad thing. I wonder if George Jetson had to print out his Spacely Sprockets pay stub or the title to his flying car to verify his identity at the motor vehicles office?

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Just one more thing

How many consecutive fitness related posts does one have to draft before one is considered a fitness blogger? I don’t think this post – my second fitness related post in as many weeks – will put me anywhere near that threshold.

I guess this isn’t entirely a new post, it’s more of an add on to the thoughts I shared last week. As I mentioned, I completed the 30 Runs in 30 Days Challenge.

Here’s where the additional thought kicks in (Ironically a thought that entered my noggin in this morning’s predawn hours during a run).

Because I still haven’t conquered those lazy sleep in and do nothing physical demons, I took a couple of days off after having run 30 straight days. This morning was my first real run since completing the Challenge early last week. Surprisingly, I completed a run that was a whisper away from the four mile mark without too many aches and pains. A couple of laps around the roundabout down the street (That’s a traffic circle to you non-southerners) would have gotten me there.

I promise. This is the last post on this topic (that is until the next Challenge)

I promise. This is the last post on this topic (that is until the next Challenge)

Apparently, my body was positively impacted more by the 30 consecutive days of activity than negatively impacted by the 3 or 4 days of laziness.

I have a buddy who is an avid golfer, and he once told me about a similar experience that occurred with him. He had just come off of a period where he played little to no golf, but when he returned to the course, he played better than ever. I said to him that it must have been good muscle memory.

He bristled at this notion.

He said, correctly, that our muscles don’t experience memories. What they do experience is conditioning. If you perform certain tasks or exercises over a period of time the muscles you use will become conditioned, so even if you stop for a brief period of time, the muscles maintain a certain level of conditioning.

Such was the case this morning.

Running (walking, shuffling and crawling) 30 straight days helped condition my muscles (legs, heart, lungs and whatever other muscles come to the dance during a run) enough that I was able to perform pretty much at the same level after a couple of days off.

This was a refreshing change from those periods where I’d run for a few days and stop. Then when I’d get back into it, I’d pay the price with aches and pains from my head down to my feet, and sadly I wasn’t hot, sticky sweet (Sorry, I felt compelled to shoehorn a Def Leppard reference in that paragraph).

Once again (and for the last time, because wringing out a third post gushing over completing the 30 Runs Challenge would simply be overkill), I’m really pleased with myself that I completed the Challenge, and even though I could take a day or two off and still make it around my neighborhood without medical assistance, I don’t intend to. I’ll see you out there tomorrow morning!

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Accountability

So often on social media, we’re invited to Like this, Pin that, Download this or Follow that. More often than not, I tend to ignore these invitations.

This was not the case with an invitation I received about a month and half or ago. I was invited to participate in the 30 Runs in 30 Days Challenge. This was a Facebook activity where participants were challenged to run, walk or bike at least two miles per day (Longer for bikers) daily for 30 days.

I finished – or shall I say met – the challenge earlier this week after completing a three-mile jaunt around my neighborhood.MLC Accountability_3-3-15-2

As I said, I – like most of you – receive invitations for various activities on the social media platform(s) of your choice, but unlike joining in the latest social media game or liking a celebrity’s fan page, this actually required some action on my part.

No, the hardest part of the challenge wasn’t knocking out two miles a day (Even though I’m not a daily high-impact cardio kind of guy – not since the days of my old Reebok Pumps, circulation-threatening bicycle shorts and STEP classes). It was being accountable for knocking out those two miles a day.

On a side note, these soon to be 51-year-old joints held up pretty nicely running, walking or a two-mile (sometimes more) hybrid of the two over the past month. Even though the challenge is over, I plan to keep this up. As a result, I dropped a couple of pounds and I’m noticing the old trousers are a pinch looser.

Sorry, I digress.

I didn’t know, nor did I have any personal relationship with any of the couple of hundred or so other participants in the challenge, still I felt a strong sense of responsibility not to let them down by failing to complete what I set out to do.

It’s so easy to say “I’m going to do (FILL IN THE BLANK),” but when you have people who will hold you accountable for completing a task, it becomes a real challenge, and when you complete that task, the satisfaction is much more meaningful.

Running Man

A rare selfie one morning at the top of my (least) favorite hill

I know a little something about accountability because I work in a very deadline-driven environment at the ol’ 9 to 5, and in all modesty, on the job, I’m pretty accountable, but in my non-work pursuits my discipline and resolve aren’t as strong (Which is why I still struggle with delivering consistent posts to these pages).

Hopefully completing this challenge will help turn that around.

To my fellow 30 Runs in 30 Days Challenge participants, congratulations, and thanks for keeping me in line these past 30 days!

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Worn out – The Sequel

It’s rare that we do follow-up reporting here at the Chronicles, but a recent occurrence related to an earlier story warrants additional coverage.

You’ll recall I shared the sad story of one of my favorite tie’s recent demise. Well, it appears the same fate has fallen upon another piece of cherished neckwear.

Interestingly, I bought this tie at the same Stern’s Department Store in Ocean Township, NJ, way back in the early 90s, and like its red and blue tie rack mate, this one has gone the way of all over worn apparel.

Goodbye old friend!

Goodbye old friend!

This is the last tie from that period that remains in active rotation. I have several more tucked away in a box in the basement. Also in that box are several pairs of suspenders that haven’t held up pants since Ross and Rachel were a couple.

The early 90s was an interesting time in the life of this writer. By this time, the carefree, irresponsible (and highly entertaining) 80s were long over. And I had yet to fully enter the white picket fence, bring home the bacon, stop drinking when you’re buzzed, contribute to a pension fund days of the mid to late 90s and beyond.

By the early 90s, John Sr. was gone and by mid-decade so too was mom.

It was the time when I cared about matching ties to suspenders, going for that Babyface curl (Despite that pesky male pattern baldness thing), kissing up to and not pissing off people who I thought (And so did they) were important.

It was also when I realized I was better at writing news releases than reporting on them, which subsequently led to staying at work really late. Not really working, mind you, just staying late to make an impression on those aforementioned important people (Who truly in retrospect really weren’t nearly as important as I or they thought they were).

The fact that my best memories of those early 90s are the ties I owned certainly says a lot 25 years later.

Those early 90s weren’t all bad. I met this really beautiful young lady in church (Cue lightning bolt) who shortly before the decade ended  became my wife. And yes, I gave up on the Babyface curl.

I made it through those days, and I’m happy to report that I’m a lot less worn out than my 25-year-old neck wear!

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I got you Pop!

This isn’t a product endorsement, but I love Dunkin Donuts coffee – ever since my first cups of the stuff consumed trying to be cool and grown as a youngster in high school (Looking back, coffee was the strongest beverage I consumed until I got to college).

Imagine my excitement as I drove down the road last week back to the 9 to 5 following an early morning business meeting (a meeting where the coffee tasted like a warmed over watered down cola beverage) when in the distance I saw a Dunkin Donuts location. I flung the Seoulmobile across two lanes of traffic like Speed Racer in pursuit of Racer X so I wouldn’t miss the driveway to this oasis of caffeinated bliss. free-donut

As I entered the shop, I saw a decal on the window indicating that this store provided AARP discounts – in this case, one free donut.

Bonus! My favorite coffee and a baked confection to dip – or shall I say dunk – in it.

Yeah, I know I got a lot of miles to travel before I can even remotely think about retirement, but that didn’t stop me from joining AARP shortly after hitting the big half-century mark last year.

With my trusty membership card in hand,  I sauntered (my usual confident stride that’s somewhere between Travolta in Saturday Night Fever and Barney the Dinosaur) up to the counter to place my order – a medium with cream and sugar (Yes, whole cream and white sugar – the devil’s products, I know, but we all have our weaknesses!). And as I went to raise my card to order my free donut, the young man behind the counter cut me off and said “I got you pop. What kind of donut do you want?

Courtesy You Tube

Courtesy You Tube

Pop? Even my kid doesn’t call me Pop (but with her genetically-tinged wry sense of humor, she’s likely to after she sees this post!)

Visions of Fred Sanford popped into my head, as I pictured Lamont in a Dunkin Donuts uniform taking my order.

More tickled than ticked off, I matched his smile with one of my own and ordered a toasted coconut.

I thought I had a few more years before I transitioned into being called Pop, but I guess that’s the chance one takes wielding an AARP card.

Well, I guess I’ll go unload the truck and see if Grady wants to come over for a glass or two of Ripple!

 

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Thoughts from a morning run

There’s a stray dog roaming the neighborhood. I got to keep my eyes out for him. Around 5:45 that white Camaro is going to be speeding by. I’d better keep my ears open. The municipality is screwing with the fire hydrants again so there’s likely to be a puddle of mud on that corner near the front of the subdivision.

Above are just a few of the thoughts that most mornings – pardon the pun – run around in my head as I’m running around my neighborhood.

This isn’t the case when I run on the treadmill. On the treadmill, I just stare at the wall on the opposite side of the basement. Don’t get me wrong, there is a thought process to treadmilling (My newly made up word of the day). You have to send some brainwaves down to your legs so they’ll keep pumping and so you won’t go flying off the back off the treadmill like fresh mulch shooting out of a chipper.

But when you run outdoors, it’s a multi-sensory experience.

You’re listening for cars rolling up behind you. You’re watching out for cracks in the pavement, puddles or anything else that could break your stride – or something more important if you tripped.

You’re thinking, not of an LED display in front of you, but the half mile you have remaining once you turn the corner by that nice house that they just can’t get to sell.

I enjoy working out in my make shift basement health spa, replete with my Denise Austin resistance bands and my vintage “The FIRM” VHS collection, but it’s an entirely different experience when I can get outdoors.

In my basement, the flush of the toilet two flights above washes out the greatest hits of the 80s queued up on my Pandora feed while I’m running up an incline. Outdoors, I hear Bill Conti’s horn section punctuating one of the greatest movie themes Gonna Fly Now as I channel my inner Balboa running up the Philly Art Museum stairs with these 50-year old hinges I call knees creaking their way up the one remaining hill – over by the clubhouse – that stands between me and a nice hearty bowl of oatmeal, flax seeds and blueberries with a splash of almond milk (That I wish was a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit).

Yeah, I was thinking a lot this morning. About 430 words worth that by now you’re probably tired of reading.

I’ll be out there again tomorrow. I doubt I’ll get another blog post out of my run. Maybe I’ll just be thinking about avoiding the mounds of poop left by that aforementioned stray dog.

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Fan Clubs

There was a time long before e-commerce when we relied on procuring goods through mail order shopping.

We wrote a check, completed a printed order form, put it in an envelope, affixed a stamp and dropped our order in the U.S. Mail.

No tracking number, no express delivery. We waited – often times six to eight weeks for delivery.

Long-time readers of these pages will recall my walk down memory lane regarding this topic several years ago.

One of the items I obtained via mail order shopping was my membership to the Daryl Hall and John Oates fan club.

Found this on eBay. Wish I still had mine!

Found this on eBay. Wish I still had mine!

Those of you of a certain age may have joined similar fan groups for your favorite artist.

I don’t remember if I received a membership card, certificate or some such club paraphernalia, but I do remember ordering t-shirts promoting whatever particular tour the guys may have been on that I may not have been able to attend.

Looking back, the one thing the fan club didn’t provide was interaction with my fellow Daryl and John (In my mind we’re on a first name basis) aficionados.

Fast forward 35-years to the present day. Mail order has been (Thankfully) replaced with online shopping, and if I want to order a t-shirt from the Hall and Oates fan club, it’ll get here in a couple of days.

And thanks to social media – specifically Facebook groups – I get ample opportunity to interact with my fellow Daryl and John fans.

In fact, I find I have more fun digitally chewing the fat with an intimate number of friends in my fan groups than the broader number of friends elsewhere in my social media universe.

Maybe it’s because most fan groups tend to shy away from the random topics of the day – the Patriot’s squishy balls (A term you won’t find used too often in these pages), high scores in Candy Crush and photos of people’s feet with exotic wish you were here vacation locales in the background.

Maybe the appeal has something to do with hanging out with people with whom you share a common interest.

I go back and forth in my resolve to spend less time on the internet (Bending your ear in these pages notwithstanding). Maybe my objective should be spending more quality time on the Web.

Now you’ll excuse me while I go shop for the latest tour t-shirt and see what’s happening on my favorite fan pages.

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Weather or Not

Fewer than vs. Less than

That vs. Which

More Than vs. Over

Home In vs. Hone In


Captioned above are just a few common words and phrases that tend to get misused. I’ve done it, you’ve done it. That kid who got straight As in school has likely done it as well.

I’m really not going all grammar guru on you, because in the grand scheme of things, using dessert (Last night’s apple pie) when you should have used desert (Sahara) ain’t that big of a deal.

That is unless, of course, your livelihood depends – in part – on using proper and something close to correct language.

My old school Webster’s is never too far away

My old school Webster’s is never too far away

Such was the case not to long ago (See, I just did it – I used the wrong to) when I received a blind sales pitch from an advertising firm. Advertising – ironically – a form of communication that generally relies on proper language and grammar.

It was your standard features and benefits sales pitch – a claim here, a reference client name drop there, with a metric or two tossed in for good measure. Nothing I haven’t penned myself (And I know two or three of you within the sound of my digital voice have as well).

Then I came to the ‘ask’…the  “…if you think we can help you…” money shot:


 

I’m not sure if your (company) could benefit from our publishing channel or weather we could make it work for your business. But if you think it could be an interesting solution for your organization, we could organize some time to quickly find out if it could work for your (company).


Did you catch it?

weather we could make it work for your business.

Did this little slip up effect (See, I did it again) this sales professional’s chances with me? Not really. I was already turned off by the poor targeting (Fancy Marketing term) that led to my receiving a sales pitch that should have gone to someone else in our organization.

I was more amused than put off by this linguistic faux pas. It could happen to any of us – really it could – using weather (the stuff outside) when you meant whether (a toss-up between two alternatives).

Which is why proofreading is such a useful tool.

Unfortunately, it’s a tool that sometimes goes unused in our hurry up and get it out the door so I can make my number society.

I only hope the next thyme this sales professional rights a pitch, they revue it to insure their are no embarrassing misuse of any words.

Well, I best rap this up so I can take my dog out for a walk before the son goes down and the whether turns bad.

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Bang Bang

My daughter and I went to lunch yesterday. While we waited for our meal, Bang Bang began to play on the restaurant sound system.

Bang Bang is a song (I bet you’d never think would be mentioned in these pages) by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj. Don’t ask me why, but I really enjoy this song (or as the cool kids say track). There aren’t many pop songs from this millennium that get my attention so for me to tap my foot along with a current hit is saying a lot.

Like any groupie I began to sing along…“Bang bang into the room (I know you want it)
Bang bang all over you (I’ll let you have it)” Bang-Bang

My characteristically loquacious offspring was immediately rendered speechless. You’d have thought I had jumped up and started twerking. She shushed me up and told me that a 50-year old man has no business singing – let alone even liking that song (Of course, I could argue these lyrics are a bit risque for an 11-year old, but that’s a story for another day).

It was then that I immediately flashed back to roughly 1981 when I was in a similar situation with John Sr.

We were at a hardware store picking up something for some project because as we discussed last week, we guys like to fix things. This was back in the day when there were still locally-owned merchants that played locally-owned radio stations in their establishments.

And then it happened, my father broke out in song, “…your kiss is on my list of the best things in life.” That’s right, John Sr. went there. This Sammy, Ella and Frank loving member of the greatest generation had the audacity to sing along to my music.

Hall, Oates and Dad!

Hall, Oates and Dad!

I was a few years older then than Zoe is now, but regardless, back in those days, we didn’t have the liberty to question our parents like my kid’s generation does, so I kept my embarrassment and disapproval to myself.

Never before and never again would I hope a Hall and Oates song would end so quickly.

I guess I should have been happy to see and hear my pop enjoying one of my favorite songs (Several years later, John Sr. and I would see Hall and Oates live. Maybe in a few years, Zoe can sign me out of the rest home and take me to a Jessie J, Arianna Grande, Nicki Minaj show).

I understand why Zoe is so proprietary about her music. She — like me 34-years earlier — has the things she likes, and many of these things are not intended to be shared with Mom and Dad.

Will I continue to enjoy (some of) her generation’s music and will this particular catchy song maintain its spot on my cardio playlist? Yes!

Just next time, when it plays, and we’re together, I will just quietly hum along!

Bang-Bang!

 

 

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