Monday, March 3, 2014
Actually, because I haven't posted in forever, I've read a whole bunch of stuff.
-To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The most read book in the high schools in America and somehow I had never read the book until now. I took a lot of English classes in high school and college - I'm not sure how I missed reading this classic, I can't explain it. Payton was reading it for his English Lit class, so I figured I'd grab a copy from the library myself. It was, of course, an amazing read. The fact that it's Harper Lee's only published work is just shocking. Nothing like hitting it out of the park on your only at-bat of your life. Just a great book. And for being a book written in 1960 and based on the 1930's, it's so fast and modern. Impressive in every way.
-Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
The 2014 winner of the Michael L. Printz Honor for excellence in YA literature. This one is a tough read at times. Eleanor does not have an easy life, and author Rainbow Rowell exposes that all too clearly. Definitely reminded me at times of a John Green story, which is a huge compliment, coming from me. It has taken some criticism as being racist with its portrayal of Park and his family. Maybe - I'm not the best person to judge that. Overall, I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone. A great love story.
-The Fame Thief by Timothy Hallinan
Hallinan has been around a while, but I've never read anything from him. I enjoyed this one, although it didn't leave a huge impression on me. Maybe because I was reading another, similar book at the same time...
-The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (or, you know, J.K. Rowling)
Yeah, this was my read at home book (big, heavy hardback) while The Fame Thief was my take in the backpack to work book (small, light). Of course, shortly after this book started getting some positive press, the author Galbraith was outed as Harry Potter author Rowling. This is a straight-up Private Eye Mystery novel, with no pretense of being anything else. I'm only about halfway through, but it's convinced me that Rowling has plenty of talent outside of the YA category. This is a pretty good read.
-Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
Another YA novel - the story of a teenage girl whose father commits suicide. There were parts of this novel that I thought were very well done and parts that I thought were a bit weak. I wasn't crazy about the wrap-up, but there you go.
-Let It Snow by John Green
Actually, there are three short stories in this anthology, but I only checked it out to read the one by John Green. The three stories actually have interconnected threads running through them, so I ended up reading them all. Yes, the one by John Green was the best, but that's just me. He definitely has a way with young people trying to find their way through life and love. Nice, lighthearted fun.
-Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
I admit, I'm a sucker for a great premise. Something that makes you stop and think "what would I do there?" And Zevin comes up with a great hook here. High-schooler Naomi hits her head in a fall and acquires a case of amnesia. Suddenly, she wondering why she had the friends she had and liked the things she liked. Should she be doing everything differently? Then, just when she is coming around to the "new" her, the memories return. Which Naomi will she be? Convoluted? Sure. Contrived? Yeah. But wow, what a great "What if?" Zevin does a nice job here.
That's it for now. Back soon. Maybe even with a running report????
Friday, January 31, 2014
Well, this snuck right up on me. On Monday, Feb 3rd, right at 8:00am, they'll open up the registration for the super-famous Beaver Freezer Triathlon, put on by the awesome OSU Tri Team.
As you should know by now, this baby is way popular and sells out pretty much instantaneously every single year. I think last year, maybe, it was open until the afternoon on the day registration opened, but there have been years where it sells out in a couple hours.
So if you want to race the Freezer, get in front of your computer with your credit card in hand on Monday morning!
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Yes, I appear to be going through a bit of a YA phase at the moment. It happens. Story of a Girl was a National Book Award Finalist in 2007. Sherman Alexie won the award that year with The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, so that's some good company to be in.
And as a dad with a quickly maturing 11 year old daughter, I don't mind getting some solid insights into the world of teenage girls. Let me tell you, as a male with only a brother to observe as I grew up, girls were, are, and may always be, quite the mystery to me.
Monday, January 27, 2014
Yes, it's been quite a while, but a new issue of RaceCenter NW has just hit the newsstands...and Jamba Juice outlets. If you're into reading things online while sitting on your rumpus room, then head right over here for the online version of the mag.
It's the big 2014 race calendar issue, so this is the one you want to make sure to grab. My article in this issue is titled "What's Your Race: Choosing the Perfect Race for You."
Sounds good. Real good.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
Hate List is a YA novel by Jennifer Brown with some acclaim, on a very, very tough subject. I'm already halfway through it actually. Pretty good so far. Reminds me a bit of Thirteen Reasons Why, which I thought was a powerful, horrible read, for obvious reasons.
And I'm Done Update:
Good read. Tough read. I hate that guns are such a prevalent thing in our culture, but there's no escaping it at the moment. And while a multiple shooting in a high school might seem like an overly provocative subject for a YA book, it's sadly becoming less and less bizarre and noteworthy. Anyway, Hate List can be pretty painful at times, but does a good job looking at the big questions. We all have bad thoughts about ourselves, and others, at times. Even terrible thoughts once in a while. What happens if those thoughts come true? Do we hold any responsibility? Should we?
There's no easy way to write about bullying, suicide, school shootings and murder. And I would never suggest any kind of outside or self-censorship on these kinds of topics. Still...still, I'm troubled by publicity of these kinds of actions. It's been shown that the number of suicides, in particular, can rise when another suicide is publicized - something called the Werther effect. And of course, there have been plenty of considerations to the publicity given to mass murderers. There's no easy answer. In the end, I think these things need to be discussed - it's out there, it's happening - and there's probably no place better to discuss it than in a novel, where you can actually get some nuance and insight.
Thursday, January 16, 2014
The sad truth is I sometimes pick out books to read by size. No, really.
It's like this. I don't read at home all that much. I read while I'm walking to the bus (yes, I read while I'm walking, it's not that hard), I read when I'm on the bus, I read when I'm on the stationary bike at Dixon, and that's about it really. I'm a pretty fast reader and that gives me about an hour or so per day - that's enough.
Now the issue. All of those places I read are not great places to read a 500 page hard cover book. They're just not. Plus, they're all either on the way to work, at work, or on the way home, which means at some point the book will end up in by backpack. I do not like 20 lb hard cover books in my backpack.
All of this blather leads me to Joyland by Stephen King. Yes, it's a paperback. I was actually pretty excited to read Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, but it is, in fact, a 20 lb hard cover book that I don't want to lug around daily.
As an aside, I checked Doctor Sleep out from the library a couple months ago, but couldn't finish it before it was seriously overdue (you know, the whole "can't lug it to work" thing), then I received a copy of it for Christmas, so I do have it and will read it soon. But probably at home.
So there you have it.
And I'm Done Update:
Classic Stephen King. Although much less horror and supernatural happenings than usual, which makes sense as its a Hard Case Crime novel. Some good carny atmosphere and an authentic small-time amusement park feeling here, which I know well from hitting a few low rent parks in my day. Nothing extremely memorable, but a fun, quick read.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Yes, the cynical R's that you know and love is back with a new post.
So a couple days ago, as I purchased a spanking new pair of Mizuno Wave Riders, I pondered the fact that they kept getting lighter and lighter with every new iteration. For years, the general group-think has been that lighter shoes are better. Less weight to carry around with every step means less energy expended, faster times, fewer injuries, etc. Makes sense as far as it goes. And of course, with the minimalist running trend (can I just call it a "fad"?) making people insane about lighter and lighter shoes with no drop and little support, that idea that a light shoe is a good shoe has been amplified to 11. Never mind that studies about such things are few and far between and vague on conclusions.
To see why the big running shoe companies, such as Nike, Asics, Mizuno, etc, LOVE the minimalist movement and pander to minimalist thinking, let's estimate some numbers:
-First, all of these numbers were found with about 5 seconds of Google searching, so don't take them as gospel.
-Nike sells around 120 million shoes a year, with almost 90% of them running shoes. I'll be tight with the number and say Nike sells 100 million pairs of running shoes a year. Personally, I think they're trying to make them all lighter, but we'll say of those 100 million, Nike is actively trying to make 80% of their running shoes lighter on a regular basis. So that's 80 million pairs of shoes a year, just with Nike.
Now let's look at the weight of an average running shoe. We're going to look at the Mizuno Wave Rider because that's what I wear and I have all the weight numbers.
-Wave Rider 15 / 11.1 oz / $ 115
-Wave Rider 16 / 10 oz / $115
-Wave Rider 17 / 8.6 oz / $115
Now let's really half-ass this experiment and mix the Nike and Mizuno numbers up. If we assume Nike is making their shoes lighter much like Mizuno, and they are, then over three years, we've dropped the equivalent of 240 million oz. or about 15 million pounds.
Think about that. They're using 15 million pounds less of material. Every year. And that's only Nike. The other shoe companies are using far less material as well.
Yet the cost of the shoes never goes down.
And as someone who worked in purchasing for a manufacturing company, believe me when I say the material costs are a huge driver to the bottom line.
The sad thing is losing a pound of weight off your body would make a much bigger difference than losing an ounce of your running shoes, but we still love to focus on the shoes.
Obviously, I'm no scientist and I have no idea how good all these numbers are, but here's what I think: when you're shopping for your next pair of running shoes, keep in mind that not every change a shoe manufacturer makes is to improve the performance of your shoes. Be a smart shopper out there.
Even if minimalist shoes are fading back away, don't expect the big shoe manufacturers to give up on the "less is more theory." It makes them money.
Monday, January 13, 2014
Or not. Please choose "not."
Here's a short article from Sports Illustrated.
And here is the actual X-Rated Run site. Lord help us.
I will never complain about "normal" mud/obstacle runs again.
What I'm Reading Now - Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Yes, we've talked before about my penchant for reading, and loving, Young Adult novels. So it's not too much of a surprise that my latest read is a highly regarded YA novel with the wordy title "Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe," by Benjamin Alire Saenz. Like every other section of the library, the YA section has a few good books, a bunch of mediocre books and a few really horrid books that make you wonder how they ever were published to begin with. Knowing that, I try not to grab too many from the shelf without researching them a bit on the interwebs. When it comes to YA, even more so than adult books, the award-winners and top-reviewed books are almost always well written, fun and memorable. I find the top reviewed adult books to be more hit or miss on the fun and memorable scale.
Not to mention, the Wikipedia entry for ADDSU taught me a new word: Bidungsroman! Can't wait to use that one in everyday conversation.
And I'm Done Update:
This is a wonderful story of a budding relationship between two teen boys in 1987 El Paso. Saenz is unlike most YA storytellers, in that he paces the tale in a calm voice and lets his characters take center stage. Saenz watches them grow slowly throughout the story, never rushing it. While there is action, the driving force behind ADDSU is the main character Ari's struggles to understand the world around him. And then to understand the world inside him. There were more than a couple times when Ari's confusion with the world and his coping strategy of retreating into his own noisy thoughts reminded me of a teen boy I knew back in the 80's.
It's a powerful story. Nicely told.
Friday, January 3, 2014
First, let's take a quick look back at where we ended 2012. I ended 2012 with exactly 1500 miles on the roads (and treadmills). That was after a 1000 mile effort in 2011. Since I finished 2012 with a bad ankle injury, I figured I'd probably be able to hit around 2000 miles in 2013. Didn't happen...
However! I did improve...slightly. The running mileage for 2013 was 1519.45 miles. Hey, we're improving! But here's the sad part. From January through August in 2013, I ran 1243.40 miles, an average of 155.425 miles per month. If I would have kept on that pace, I would have hit around 1850 miles for the year. Unfortunately, I had a bad rib injury on October 20th and the rest of the year was basically a wash. I'm just now starting to feel like myself again...only I'm about 15 pounds heavier than I was in the summer.
So let's move forward. For 2014, I have no big marathon plans, but I'm looking to set PR's in the Half and the 10k, so let's get on it.
First race up: the Corvallis Half Marathon in April.