Showing posts from November, 2013

Giving Thanks and Being Fabulous

I wouldn't say that I'm in the habit of giving thanks on this blog, but I do often try to acknowledge thanks where appropriate.  Last year, around Thanksgiving, I wrote a post on giving thanks and since then, I've written two other public thank you notes.  One was a letter to the editor and the  other was a dedication on this blog of people who have been so helpful in getting me to finish my first marathon.

Those who know me, know that I am generally a positive person with a very sunny disposition.  I am rarely in a bad mood and if I do find myself in a darker mood without an extremely good reason, I can pretty quickly transcend it.  But what does the sunny disposition have to do with being thankful?  The sunny disposition comes from being thankful on a very deep level.

Whenever people ask the obligatory question, "How are you?"  I often answer with a "Fantastic!" or "Fabulous!"  That isn't just the automatic response that we all have to t…

Other Publication: Sitting at the Grownups' Table: PW Talks with Ross Ballard II

Recent interview with Ross Ballard, a narrator, director and publisher of great audiobooks.As producer, director, sound engineer, and narrator, Ross Ballard II wears many hats for his small, independent audiobook publishing company, Audiobooks. His most recent production, Screaming with the Cannibals by Lee Maynard, came out this summer, and I had the opportunity to talk with Ballard about the company and his experiences as a small publisher in the booming audiobook industry.
How would you summarize what Audiobooks offers? We consider ourselves a boutique audiobook studio that can spot the diamonds in the rough, undiscovered books that the large Oprah Book Club type publishers won't touch. We give voice to works that would never see the light of diction if it weren't for us. I'm constantly amazed at how many really good authors with good books are going begging for attention from publishers that don't appear interested in discov…

Tales of Running: The Two Demons I Run With

Whenever I take up a run, be it a 3 mile trot down the street or a marathon, I always have to face down a demon.  I call it, the Doubt Demon.  Even though I have now run over 550 miles this year and seen great improvement over the last two years as well as found an absolute love of running, I still have to face down the Doubt Demon every time I get ready to run.

So who is the Doubt Demon?  The Doubt Demon has been with me for decades.  I couldn't say exactly when the Doubt Demon first appeared but it was likely born around my later elementary and middle school years.  It was here that the physical differences between my peers and me became most evident.  Besides being overweight, I was also a "late-bloomer".  Historically, I had a record of coming in dead last with every run at practice I've ever attended (or close thereto).  Thus, when it came to athletics, there was little self-confidence and a whole lot of doubt and it was here that the Doubt Demon was born.  (The …

Going the Distance with Vibrams

I started running about two years and four months ago.  As I've mentioned elsewhere, I was in a hate-hate relationship with running for the 30+ years prior to that.  But after seeing Vibrams around and brought up in several conversations in the months prior, I decided to get a pair, just to see how they fit and what benefits could be had from them, even just for walking around.

The Challenges
There are three challenges that come when you acquire your first pair of Vibrams.
Getting the damn things on!  The first month or so, it could easily take me 2-3 minutes to get them on.  Nowadays, I can get both pairs on in less than 30 seconds.  But my toes weren't as used to the feel and the need to spread out as they are now, so trying to get each toe into each slot proved a bit challenging.  Dealing with the looks, because you will get looks.  In fact, I think the social challenge for many is the biggest hurtle.  It feels quite challenging to walk around in Vibrams because they don't…

Trading Tools: Fitbits & Basis

I've talked about before how I'm a big fan of Fitbit.  I've had one now for about 2.5 years now and it's provided me with a wealth of information about my daily movement habits that have helped me stay in much better health than I probably would have otherwise.  Much of my journey through health the last few years has been a focus on environment and a better accounting of what I'm actually doing (as opposed to what I perceive I'm doing).  Fitbit's ability to graph out my motion over the day annd account for the steps I've taken day after day, week after week propels me to keep up my movement and allows me to recognize when I have not been as active when I should as well as celebrate or appreciate when I have been hit high levels of activity.

It's a great tool and I still highly recommend it for people starting the get a grip on their health and looking for some solid data to make better decisions--particularly if you take advantage of the calorie cou…

365 Books a Year Challenge: 27 Books in October

I'm in the final stretch of reading this year with just two months to go and 332 books read.  It seems safe to say I will make the 365 book mark and in all likelihood pass it.  This will put me at over 100+ books than last year.  Not a bad year in terms of reading I would say.  Clearly, this month I didn't make the 31 count to match the days, but since last month I hit 47 and October was incredibly busy, I'm ok with that. 

What I'm less ok with is that I didn't read any traditional books but graphic novels and audiobooks.  I am into some degree of at least 4 books that will make the list for November in all likelihood but I'm sure some people are snickering at my claims of "reading" 27 books despite they not being traditional "books".  Of course, interestingly, if I read every one of Shakespeare's writings, those also would not constitute "books"--they are plays and poetry collections.  

In terms of works that stuck out this mont…

Tales of Running: The *Gross* Body Edition

So I've talked about the many great and amazing things that running affords me:  achieving new goals, making new friends, feeling the power of my body to propel me into the future.  All of that's great!  Despite my bright-eyed and bushy-tailed approach to running, there are some more ugly aspects of running that people don't always talk about.  I'm the first to notice the positive physical impact of running on my body but like many, there is a hesitancy to discuss the less appealing elements of running.  But here we go!

I imagine many runners face this but particularly because I run in Vibrams that I see a lot of callouses on my feet.  This is actually really good for several reasons (internal foot cushion being better than external when it comes to running, at least for me).  But I will definitely never be a foot model.  In and of themselves, they're not particularly caustic, but one becomes mildly aware of them.

Again, it's something all runne…

Recent Blogpost on LETS Blog: The Digital Assignment

Here's a recent blog post I did for the NSCC LETS blog:

"When I look back even 5 years ago, I've seen a significant change in the ways in which faculty take assignments. I know faculty have been taking digital assignments as far back as the 1990s but it often seemed the exception whereas now it feels much more like the rule. We all remember the frantic whirlwind of getting an assignment to an instructor (often after waiting until the last minute to write it) by battling printers or lines at the printers, traffic, crowded hallways, etc just to get that paper in before the end of class, only to repeat this several times each semester.

While there are many benefits to taking online assignments (less chance of losing it, time stamps, environmentally friendly, less redundancy, etc), there are definitely some drawbacks and every person has their own method of doing it.  Below are some of the different methods of taking digital assignments that you may be using or co…

Seasons According to Vibram and Barefoot Runners

We're all familiar with the regular seasons here in New England but the seasons take on a different meaning for a runner. To the typical runner, the seasons run as such.

Spring Length: Two months if we're lucky, but usually two weeks in April or May, crammed in between wintry cold and humid heat.

Characteristics:  A perfect-medium temperature that suits many runners.  Great scenery of an awakening natural landscape, birds chirping, and all that good stuff.

Running Experience:  Often a season of empowerment for the runner after being trapped on Dante's Inferno (also know as "the treadmill") at the gym for months with the person to the left of you, humming and singing every third or fifth word from "Eye of the Tiger" and the person to the right of you, running at 2-3 mph faster than you and not even breaking a sweat.  You're out on the road gaining mileage and feeling the fresh air and thinking how wonderful the world is.

Summer Length: Usually several m…