Category Archives: Home & Family

Family & Home related items.

Something is Wrong with This…

In August, I ordered my son’s books for school. His school uses an online bookstore and he wanted digital versions where possible so he didn’t have to carry around a heavy bag. So, I ordered what I could digitally and the rest on paper. After about the first week of school was over, he came to me and said that his history teacher said that he really needed the current textbook (he had been using a loaner of last year’s version). I told him that I’d ordered it and thought the teacher would have the online license code to grant him access because I had gotten an email to that effect. Turns out, that was for his science book.

So, I checked the online bookstore (Follett) and found the order was incomplete and that one item was backordered and would ship when available. You guessed it, the license code for his history book from Pearson. I wrote to Follett and said that I’d never heard of license codes being back ordered. It takes a second to generate a new code and email it to someone. They gave me a polite brush-off reply that, indeed, codes can be backordered and they would ship when available.

Last week I got an email that his license codes had shipped. Via FedEx. And would arrive late the following week. Again, I boggled that license codes had to be shipped.

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Then they arrived yesterday. They came in a ridiculously large, flat package. Inside where two sets of codes (for two years of access). I felt like redirecting the package to the school just to complete the absurdity of the whole thing but texted him the code for the first year instead.

In 2014 unlock codes for digital books have to be mailed in a package via conventional shipping. The mind boggles.

Runnus Interruptus

I finished week 3 officially going ahead of where I left off on the first go-round. And then the next day, my knee was in a lot of pain. I had to take stairs always going up with my right leg and doing a funny hobble going down so I wouldn’t bend my left knee. That lasted for a few days and then finally eased off. But it still twinges and I decided to halt the running program again. I have my annual physical today so I took a week off to rest the knee and then see what my doctor says about it. I have the sneaking suspicion that the best course of action is to go back to using the elliptical and/or walking and leave off the running until a later date when my knee is stronger and/or I have lost more weight.

So, that’s where things stand. Not run. Just stand.

And now we’re back…

I am now where I was when the kidney stone took me out of commission on my C25K project: Week 3, Day 2. Barring anything major, I’ll finally move ahead tomorrow with Day 3. Then onwards to week 4 and beyond.

Some things are getting easier but I still find the 3 minute long slogs to be, well, slogs. I need to return to going to the gym. I haven’t been since I started this journey back in August and I should be doing weights on my off days. Hey! Today is an off day! Guess what I should go to later on?

Running: Interlude

And then I got a kidney stone.

Now, usually, these things only cause me intense pain for about 24 hours and that’s it. I suffer, I deal, I move on. This one has lasted six days (and counting). So, I didn’t run for a week. Instead, I suffered and I did tech week and ran sound for the kids’ show at Swamp Meadow. This morning, the plan was to go to the Emergency Room to once and for all deal with this. At least get super hydrated via IV to help push this thing along. Except I had no pain all night. No pain this morning.

And it was a gorgeous morning. So, what the hell. I decided to go for a run/walk instead. I figured I would get some exercise, assess where I was physically so when I resume C25K, I knew where to actually start from, and maybe force the stone to move (through the impact of running) and get some pain going so I could go to the ER and not feel silly.

So, I went out. I tried a job after a few minutes of walking to warm up and found that it came quite naturally. So for the rest of my 30 minute excursion, up and down hills (I decided to stay in the ‘hood rather than go to the bike path) I alternated walking and jogging. I even got to run nice and fast down a steep hill (that was FUN!) towards the end.

The result? I feel great. I can see where I am a little stiff after a week of not moving much and I think my plan will be to do Day 3 of Week 2 on Saturday and then restart Week 3 on Monday/Tuesday and take it from there.

Assuming, of course, that the stone is really done with me. I had no pain during or after the run so if it is still there, even my running didn’t jostle it loose. Or it has already moved down past the point where it causes pain (it hurts when it is wedged in the upper pathway between the kidney and the bladder — the pain is from when it is being forced to move, scraping against the walls of the pipes — once it moves close to the bladder, the pipes are wider and it tends to finish the trip to the outside in a few days without causing any discomfort).

That said, it may start hurting later today for its own nefarious reasons. In which case, I’ll deal. But if I really am done with it, I have a plan and I feel pretty good right now.

Running: Days 7 & 8

If I’d written this up after Day 7, it would have sounded like I’d had a major breakthrough. Clouds parting, sunlight streaming out after a storm, a dove would fly by and drop an olive branch on my head and such. But I am writing this after Day 8 and it is raining, the olive branch was just a birch twig, and the bird was caught by a particularly mean and feral cat.

This is week 3 of C25K. In week 3 we go from repetitions of 90 seconds of jogging/walking to two sets of the following:

  • 90 seconds jogging
  • 90 seconds walking
  • 3 minutes jogging
  • 3 minutes walking

I’ve been dreading the 3 minute thing since mid-last week when 90 seconds was killing me. But on Tuesday, I went for my run at 6:30PM. This was a change as I had done the previous six days early in the morning. I don’t remember now why I couldn’t run in the morning (hey, it was 3 days ago. I can’t be expected to remember stuff that far back, can I?) but the evening was perfect. It was cool, breezy, and the bike path was bustling (but not so bustling as to induce OCD-induced rage at people who cannot figure out the rules of the road.

Aside: Dear Cranston, RI Bike Path users: Bike on the right. Walk on the left. Thank you.

And after I completed my first of two 3 minute jobs, I felt great. It was during the 3 minute walk after the job that I went through a group of about 7 teenagers (or so). I was cranking Paul Young (“I’m gonna tear, your playhouse down, pretty soon…”) One of them clearly said something to me so I popped my awesome Sennheiser/Adidas In-Ear ear phones (with the awesome hook over my ears to keep the damn things from falling out the way Apple’s always do) out of my ear and said, “What?” He repeated, “Do you have a cigarette?” I smiled and said, “Nope, sorry.” Popped my earphone back in and kept going, laughing to myself that it would never occur to me to ask a runner for a cigarette, only partly because I don’t smoke.

The second 3 minute job that day was tough, but for the final minute, or so, I decided to push myself and went from a jog to a steady lope. I wanted to actually run for a bit. And I did it. A full minute, more even. It felt incredible and life was good.

[Insert spacing here for dramatic pause.]

Yesterday was not the same experience. Now, before I wind you all up and have you think this story ends with my having a crippling injury, I will go ahead and tell you (in Peter Falk’s voice), that I do not get eaten by the eels at this time. Nor do I have anything really bad happen to me.

I went out in the early evening again. It wasn’t my plan but I was such a zombie in the morning yesterday that all I could was get my recommended daily allowance of brains and survive my hellish commute downstairs to my home office (this is what comes from watching Sherlock with Jack until late at night). Unlike Tuesday, it was hotter and much more humid. Thunderstorms were wandering around (yes, I checked the doppler and none were nearby, sheesh) so the air was heavy with potential weather. 

Maybe I didn’t fuel up properly (though for my morning runs, it’s usually just a Luna Bar and a cup of coffee) and maybe it was just the humidity, but this run was a complete slog. When I was 70 seconds into the first 90 second jog, I wanted to die. My knees were (finally) bothering me, my backs of my calves were on fire, and I felt like I couldn’t get my feet landing the way I wanted to (too far back, too far forward) I began to seriously question if I could handle the rest of the run.

In the end, I did handle it. I took each jog iteration one at a time. I did try for a longer/faster lope in the sound round of 3 minutes but I just didn’t have it in me. But I did survive the run yesterday. Sheer will power? Plain old stubbornness? Who knows. But I did it. 

My walk home (uphill from the bike path) was painful and I had drunk all of my water in the wake of that final 3 minute jog, but I made it home alive.

I have no clue what tomorrow will be like. And it will be weird because we have a packed-solid day starting with an early drive to Western MA for a wedding followed by an early return (missing the end of the reception) to attend my wife’s aunt’s 95th birthday party. I figure I will get up and out for a run as early as I can stand it so I still have time to cool down and then shower. I have learned that showering immediately after the run is a mistake as I am often still sweating after I get out of the shower and just have to go shower again.

So, Week 3 is 2/3 done and I am not even going to look at what week 4 brings (I lied. I did look. I’m just choosing not to contemplate it now) and am just focused on tomorrow’s run and surviving it.

Running: Day 6

I may survive week 3. I say this cautiously because it was still a slog today. But on the final iteration of six, I was able to go more than a minute running at the strongest pace of the day, a nice steady lope. This gives me hope. My calves were on fire and my right shin made vague threats, but all in all, it was a good run.

I find that my runs are a lot more difficult when I have to go solo. Jack got his hair colored yesterday and cannot get it wet until Sunday. So between the threat of rain and the sweat from running, he had to sit this one out. Hopefully next week he’ll be able to do all three (for the first time!) so I  have someone to keep me motivated and moving.

Anyway, I survived week 2 and am feeling really good! Bring on week 3! (After a two day break, please…)

Running Day 5: The Runninging

No, I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean either.

I’m still recovering from this morning’s run. I went solo because Jack’s foot fell off in the night, or something. He’s in pain so I left him home to wallow in misery. Another glorious day except a bit warmer and less breeze so all the insects in the world were after me. Tuesday was a wonderful respite from the hordes of gnats and other gnasties who kept after me. At least I didn’t aspirate any of them today.

I am looking ahead to next week and how long I will have to run. Right now, my jogs are 90 seconds in length. I have no earthly idea how I will be able to do longer. But I am comforted by the fact that I said the same thing about 90 seconds last week when I was only doing 30. Right? I said that, right? Please tell me I said that…

I love running on the bike path. Everyone is so friendly. We all nod and wave to each other. Jack points out that we also grunt. This is true. Lots of grunting. It’s very paleolithic.

And today, no one was riding or walking on the wrong side. I don’t get that. There are signs every few hundred feet in one form or another that tell walkers and runners to be on the left and bikes on the right. Then again, I constantly see people walking around the ‘hood on the wrong side of the street. Drives me crazy. Must be my own particular brand of OCD. Whatevs. The point is, you walk/run facing traffic and you bike with traffic. What do rollerbladers do? Who cares. They’re right bastards. (I’m sorry. I don’t know why I said that. Except that I tried to rollerblade once with my friend Sarah and it was humiliating and awful so I have decided that they are all right bastards. Hey, look at that, I do know why I said it.)

Anyway, I gather that somehow, some way I will be able to handle week 3. I am also pretty sure that 99% of that depends on my surviving week 2 so let me focus on that first. One more day… one more day…

Running: Day 4

Day 4: Oh boy…

Today, the iterations changed to 90 seconds of running and 2 minutes of walking. That extra 30 seconds of running in each iteration (thankfully six instead of eight this time) scared me. I had always been at the “Oh Man, 3 more seconds, I can do it… oh man oh man…” point last week. Now we were adding another 30 seconds to each round? Well, I survived it. And since Jack couldn’t find his earbuds, I ran without my headset and we talked as we ran. Or, rather, he talked. I made vague grunting noises from time to time. (“Grunt once for yes…”) On our final walk, we both pant-grunted Viva la Vida by Coldplay. We had gotten to that state of silly.

All in all, I survived it and I am starting to realize that I am getting stronger and I am able to push farther through this. It’s a wonderful feeling. It helped immensely that the weather was absolutely glorious this morning. It was a joy to be outside in it and to be chatting with Jack as we went along. I’m looking forward to Thursday’s run!

Running: Day 3

I had to skip Friday. It was raining and while I fully expect to not care later in this process, I didn’t want to run in the rain as a beginner. So I went Saturday instead. This was my first solo run as well as Jack had had a friend over and I decided to let them sleep in. The weather was glorious and everything felt great. Nothing was hurting (at first) and I had good energy. I worked hard to make sure I was landing mid-foot and not doing a heel-to-toe thing. It felt natural so I suspect that was what I was doing previously (a friend had suggested it may have been why I had pain with my hip flexors on Wednesday’s run).

After the half-way point, I began to get the burning in the back of my calves again but it was not anything I couldn’t handle. The final iteration of running was pretty hard work but I pulled it out and felt great. So far, so good.

I was supposed to run today (Monday) but since we went to Six Flags with Crew 66 yesterday and I had a nearly 14K step day (and a good chunk of it in wet shoes/socks thanks to a water ride) I decided to give myself a buy and will start week 2 on Tuesday morning instead. 

Running: Day 1 & 2

Genesis of an Idea

I’ve been going to the gym solidly for a year now, alternating doing the weight machine circuit and 30+ minutes on the elliptical machine. I routinely do about 4 miles on the elliptical and have gone from barely being able to catch my breath to powering through some good interval training.

Last fall, my son took up Cross Country at school and I remembered how much I loved running in the woods as a kid and how fun it would be to do again. And I’ve gotten terribly bored with the elliptical. Aside from discovering new music (via the excellent-for-workouts Songza app) there’s little to do. I’ve tried reading but I bounce too much and audio books aren’t conducive to power sprints.

Then I read an excellent article in The Magazine, titled “Second Wind” by Chris Higgins, which introduced me to the Couch to 5K (C25K) Program. The very same day, The Oatmeal published “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons I Run Long Distance” and something clicked in my brain and I decided that I wanted to give running a try.

I have avoided it for a long time now because I am overweight. I’m much better than I was, but I still have a ways to go. And my knees hurt and make scary crackling noises when I go up stairs. I figured my body was in no shape for any kind of impact exercise. But I noticed that on the C25K program, the author indicated that he weighed the same thing I weigh when he started the program, was a few years older than me, and was a smoker (I’m not) and I figured that I had no real excuses. If my knees couldn’t handle it, I’d stop or at least see my doctor about alternatives rather than not trying at all. Maybe they hurt because I baby them too much.

So, on Friday, I went to Rhode Runner and they watched me walk and jog on their indoor track and picked out a few different running shoes to try on. The first ones I tried on, a pair of Brooks, felt wonderful. Nice and light, good cushioning for the impact, good arch support (I’m a flat foot), and a wide, flat base to compensate for my ankles turning inwards as I walk (so that’s why I always twist my ankles!) I also grabbed some good running socks and some neat water bottles that strap to your hand and planned to start Monday morning. I figured I’d make Jack go with me so he could train for his fall Cross Country season and because, quite honestly, I doubt I could do this without him with me.


Monday July 22, 2013: I Begin Running

It took us a long time to get out of the house but we finally made it out. The first day’s plan is a 5 minute brisk walk, then 60 seconds of jogging alternating with 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes and then a final 5 minute walk. We live just off the Cranston Bike Path so that was the obvious place to do this. It’s nice and flat and pretty empty early in the morning.

I walk all the time (less than I used to as I have mostly replaced my long walks with the elliptical, but still) so that part was just fine. My new sneakers felt wonderful (I’d spent all weekend breaking them in). Then the jogging part began.

The first two or three 60 second sessions went just fine. And then it began to hurt. I figured it would be my knees first off but they were fine. Where it got me was the backs of my calves. Holy cats they burned! Clearly, I need to do more stretching before I go!

My the seventh of eight jogging interval was hell. I was tired, starting to get out of breath, and my calves were on fire. (My knees and feet felt great, go figure!) and I seriously questioned whether I could handle doing the eighth. But I pushed through and survived it.

The walk home was up hill but that was nothing after what I had accomplished and I felt amazing. Day 1 was a success.


Wednesday July 24, 2013: Oh. My. God.

Tuesday was a day of pain. My legs hurt. Especially the backs of my calves and the fronts of my thighs. My knees, amazingly enough, were just fine. I kept hoping that when I woke up Wednesday morning, they’d be fine.

They weren’t. They were better, but they still hurt. Going down to the basement bathroom to weigh in was an exercise in OUCH and my next stop after the scale was the medicine cabinet to down three Ibuprofen.

The initial walk was just fine, no surprises there. When I began the first jogging interval, I started right where I left off: pain, pain, and more pain. This time, it was less my calves and more the very tops of my thighs where they connect to my torso (hips maybe? I’m fuzzy on the anatomy). I have never experienced pain there before and it was a new and nasty experience.

I soldiered on despite the pain and kept on moving. Each interval was worse and by the fifth I was pretty certain I was not going to be able to finish today’s workout.

Then the gnats came and my walks became less about recovery and more about swatting them away. I must have looked like a mad man!

But I pushed on. And my son started looking at me like he was worried I was going to die or something but I pushed on. My iPhone helpfully provided some good motivation with Aerosmith’s Walk this Way and New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle and I did it. I got through the workout. I got home and stretched everything out and drank more water.

Now we’ll have to wait and see how Friday goes… I’m understandably nervous. I have a very hard time believing that I will be capable of running a 5K in just 8 weeks…