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Monday Morning Satire: The Race Expo!

Race weekend is approaching and I am getting so psyched. When I started training on New Year’s Day, this seemed so far away. When all my friends said I was “crazy” and “neglectful of my responsibilities” and “annoyingly obsessed with running”, it was because they don’t know the excitement I feel as my race weekend approaches. When I realized that, I thought it might be fun to talk about one of the best parts of a race weekend, the expo. I’m not sure I can properly convey how awesome they are, but I’ll trust the marathon bumper stickers’ message, “You can do this.”

I guess the most important part of the expo is picking up your race packet. These packets include your running bib (that piece of paper with the number on it), your free race shirt, instructions for the day of the race (pay attention to parking!) and a bunch of coupons to all the area stores. But I don’t just go to the expo because they don’t let you get your race packet any other way.

All you have to do is pull into the parking lot and it’s already evident you’re not going to regret taking the time to visit the expo. There are SO many magnets, bumper stickers and vanity plates (“FastrNU” – we’ll see about that!). If you’re like me, you gain inspiration from these, especially the magnets. If I get a swelled head after setting a personal record (PR) for a half-marathon, somebody else’s 26.2 magnet reminds me I can always work a little harder. I assume marathoners think the same of ultra-marathoners, who probably have to look to the 140.6 magnets of the ironman triathletes for their inspiration.

Who do the ironman triathletes look to? I’ve always wanted to ask. It seems kind of sad to me, not really being able to go any farther in an organized race. I suppose they just keep trying to set PRs. Although, I did read one time about a 130-mile run through Death Valley, a lot of which is uphill. The neat thing about that race is there’s no way to duplicate the grueling conditions when you train. Until you’ve finished it, you have no way of knowing if you have enough to finish. Or even survive! But I bet if you do survive and finish, you come away thinking that was the best week of your life…once your toenails grow back, you can walk again and your kidney treatment is successful.

Until you’re ready for that kind of thrill, though, you’ll have to settle for things like your race’s expo. Whenever I walk in to one of these, I like to just stop and take in all the vendor booths. This is my chance to gain some perspective. By the time I walk into that expo, I’ve been training for sixteen weeks. Something like 240 miles and 25 hours of running. All that time, all I’m doing is turning inward to my thoughts, sorting out problems or issues and using the thoughtful time alone to try to put my life into better order. It’s almost meditative.

But do you know what I’m not doing? Spending any money. Sure I use plenty of gas driving to the trail I run on, but I’d probably use that gas driving to the gym if I didn’t run so I can’t really count that. And yes, training for my half-marathons usually causes me to go through a pair of shoes per year. But is the economy being kept afloat by my one pair of $100 shoes a year? Doubtful. So when I stand and take in all those vendor booths, I’m reminded of my chance to make up for lost time and be one of the economy’s givers and not one of its takers.

They make it easy to spend, too. Because when you walk in, the registration table where you pick up your packet is on the exact opposite side of the arena. The really good expos arrange the vendors so your path is serpentine like a line for a roller coaster at an amusement park. This makes sure you get to see the best of performance wear, energy bars, energy gum, energy drinks, equipment you just don’t see anywhere else (like $3,000 elliptical bikes!) and info on out-of-town races. My advice as you wind your way through is to take it in as best as you can. It’s important to remember the easiest way to be accepted as a serious runner isn’t just running. It’s looking the part.

Don’t just get caught up in what you can spend money on, either. Listen to the bands or any other performers there might be. One year, I went to an expo that brought in a controversial runner comedian. His “thing” was a series of jokes that point out the differences between eight minute milers and nine minute milers.

His best bit was the part when he ran across the stage, “Nine minute milers run like this!” He had the pained expression down and everything! I heard one guy go, “Did you see his supination? That is SO me!” After he was done with that, he improved his posture a little bit, looked a little more serious and went, “Eight minute milers run like this!”. For that short a distance, the speed seemed really similar but any good runner saw the difference. You could tell some people were offended by the posture and expression stereotypes, or at least laughing nervously, but I’ve been both an eight-minuter and a nine-minuter, so I felt comfortable laughing the whole time. Anyway, you’re not always going to be so lucky to get that kind of quality entertainment, but I’ve never seen performers who weren’t trying hard.

Once I’ve made my way through to the registration table and picked up my packet, I like to people watch on the way back out. Society could really learn from running and its diverse mix of white people from all walks of life! You have everybody from struggling college kids whose parents are barely paying half their tuition all the way up to corporate execs looking for things to do besides go home after their 70-hour work weeks. It’s like every story is an inspiration!

Well, those are just some of the things I love about a good race expo. It just may be the most fun you’ll have that weekend when you’re not running. Well, besides carb loading at dinner on the way home!

April 7, 2014 Posted by | observational humor | Comments Off

Tuesday Hatred of death

I hate death. Reports on it are mostly about other people. In that respect it doesn’t differ too much from life. Anyway, death is a real nuisance.You may want it but as far as you know only others actually get it. And in them getting it, it will be you who needs to deal with it. Do you go to the funeral? Or do you break your break from the church rituals by attending the mass the evening before?

If you do attend either the funeral or the mass you will have to face the situation which dwarfs all other situations in awkwardness: to hug or not to hug.You hug and cause offense because the one you hugged was just dressed for the occasion because it is her or his profession to attend such occasions. You don’t hug and cause a family vendetta because you confirm your aloofness, even in the situation of all situations that doesn’t allow you to express any personal characteristic whatsoever. Let alone aloofness.

So I don’t attend and find a pretext to stay away unless the stakes are too high. I am safe when the stakes are high enough as it will be fully acceptable for my behavior to be erratic in that case. But when are stakes high enough to be too high to allow being absent? Continue reading

March 6, 2012 Posted by | observational humor, Tuesday Hatred | 6 Comments

Tuesday Hatred is Wholesome, like punching a punching bag

Sometimes I feel like hitting people. Sometimes people feel like hitting me.

There are for instance moments where people will confront me with talk about their unease about certain changes that affect ‘people’ adversely in a general way. At such moments I have been known to point out to that the adverse effects in question might well be of a more personal than of a more general nature. I may well have continued by stating that before such changes were enacted they had complaints about the lack of any changes and more specifically the lack of changes impacting ‘people’ in general (in this case, obviously, subtracting themselves from the over-all need for change).

I hate it when individuals resist something because they have personal issues with it but go on to express their dissent ‘for the general good’. Note that I don’t hate it when people have and voice personal issues. I just hate that they take their pars pro everybody’s toto. I hate it because it seems to me a fundamental lack of empathy to be unable to include in your reasoning that the thing that is bad for yourself might in fact be good for another.

I further hate that many who talk a lot about the general good are fundamentally unable to look past their very personal preferences being extrapolated to the whole world whether the whole world wants to have those preferences or not.

Maybe I just hate people that believe that they are doing the right thing ‘despite the world going down the drain’. If in fact the world is going down the drain (which I emphatically do not hold to be the case) it is precisely because so many people are un-self-critically certain that what they are doing is, obviously, the right thing.

I hate that whilst I wanted to be lighthearted and use practical examples I wound up being, again, very conceptual and  at the same time (yes, that’s the word that comes to mind:)  drab.

At least I didn’t wind up hitting anybody. Feel free to hit me. I won’t mind as long as it is in the form of Tuesday Hatred.

October 18, 2011 Posted by | observational humor, Tuesday Hatred | 6 Comments

Excellent bathroom graffiti

A quote from a public restroom: “I fucked your mom.”

Immediately below, in different handwriting: “Go home, dad — you’re drunk.”

May 9, 2010 Posted by | observational humor | 1 Comment

Mammoth and Mastodon: A follow-up

Dear readers, thank you for your strong response to Mammoth and Mastodon, the webcomic co-created by The Girlfriend and me. I just wanted to remind everyone that we will be posting new comics on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for the foreseeable future. If you want to keep up more easily, you could add the site to your RSS reader.

April 5, 2010 Posted by | observational humor | 8 Comments

A side project

The Girlfriend and I have been working on a webcomic for the past few weeks and now feel ready to make it public. Called Mammoth and Mastodon & Friends, it chronicles the adventures of Mammoth (based on me) and Mastodon (based on her) in Chicago. All the artwork is done by The Girlfriend, and the scripts are mostly based on our conversations. A special highlight is our extended parody of Watchmen, based on a brotherhood of TV neighbors.

If you like it, I encourage you to link to it and otherwise promote it by all appropriate means.

March 31, 2010 Posted by | observational humor | 24 Comments

An emerging pattern

Whenever I claim to be good at some everyday task, I immediately fail at it. A recent example occured while I was eating with The Girlfriend and my friend Mike — I poured a margarita for The Girlfriend from the pitcher and bragged that I managed to spare her any ice, and then immediately had a flood of ice when pouring Mike’s. Similarly, I came up with the idea that The Girlfriend’s dog obeys me more because he finds a man’s voice more authoritative, and he of course ignored me the rest of the day.

In other news, inspired by a scene in Mad Men, I’ve begun using a plunger to de-clog sinks as a first line of defense in place of Drano. At the risk of causing it not to work any longer, it’s been going great. I managed to get both my bathtub and my bathroom sink to drain quickly (they were very slow when I first moved in) and I de-clogged the garbage-disposal side of The Girlfriend’s kitchen sink after clogging it myself through over-zealous disposal of garbage.

The secret is that once you get a good seal, you need to plunge rapidly for kind of a long time: it’s not just one or two and you’re done. I find that the vigorous motion makes the whole thing more satisfying — it’s like you’re taking out your anger against the clog, and then you finally defeat it. When I de-clogged The Girlfriend’s sink, for instance, I shouted, “Vengeance is mine!”

In yet other news, I’ve made two major purchases since getting paid: a new pair of shoes and a full compliment of socks and underwear. The shoes in particular are very exciting. I’ve looked over them thoroughly and have confirmed that they don’t have a hole in the bottom, which will be a major improvement.

October 5, 2009 Posted by | observational humor | 17 Comments

In case you were wondering

For those who don’t have time to read political blogs, Yglesias is talking about virtually nothing but land-use policy and has lately adopted a really choppy and patronizing tone, Josh Marshall is obsessed with the fate of the newspaper industry, and Atrios wants there to be SUPERTRAINS. Meanwhile, Nate Silver is trying to get his predictive models for the 2010 Senate race just right and is sharing every detail of his thought process with us. On the right side of the aisle, Instapundit is pondering whether Obama will represent a third Bush term and continues to say a lot of things that I find to be really opaque.

Among literary and philosophical blogs, Ads Without Products is delighting in the fact that socialist sentiments are now possible to express in the public sphere. Wood S Lot has lately been doing a lot of posts that start with some kind of image, then alternate between images, poetry, links, and excerpts from various essays, mostly political. Infinite Thought remains the queen of both bizarre old-timey images and sarcasm. Owen Hatherley is writing a lot about architecture, Larval Subjects‘ posts are very long, and Voyou Desoeuvre‘s blog layout confuses me. Despite everything, Dominic Fox is not surprised.

December 8, 2008 Posted by | observational humor, politics | 4 Comments

I Smell a New York Rat

What the hell?! I woke up and wondered how markets around the world were finding some way to rebound. It looks like the Fed has figured out a way to get all $700B without congressional approval. Excerpted from the NYT here:

With money markets around the world seizing in fear, the Fed on Monday announced that it would provide an extra $150 billion through an emergency lending program for banks, and an additional $330 billion through so-called swap lines with foreign central banks to help money markets from Europe to Asia.

That was on top of the $230 billion the Fed borrowed last week so it could finance its previous efforts to prop up the American International Group and other institutions.

In other words, either the money is completely and totally funny money, or they just flat out stole it. Which one it turns out to be probably depends on the reaction of the people they lifted it from.

September 30, 2008 Posted by | Death Notice, observational humor | 2 Comments

The Only Option

Every American is now duty-bound to make constant jokes about the need to suspend their activities and deal with the financial crisis.

September 25, 2008 Posted by | observational humor, politics | 3 Comments

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