Sunday, February 7, 2016

Books of 2016 - #3 "A Little Lumpen Novelita" by Roberto Bolaño

A Little Lumpen Novelita by Roberto Bolaño

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Short Version: Short novel about two orphaned siblings and a few other characters in Rome.

Ana got this book a few years back. Wanted to read some fiction so decided to check this one out. Really short read (maybe 110 pages), translated from Spanish. I like the writing style - tension increases a bit with each chapter.

The main character (written in first person) is an orphaned girl living with her brother in Rome. Two of the brother's 'friends' end up living with them, and some plotting and scheming ensue. I enjoyed the book and the author, but the book ended leaving me wanting more.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Books of 2016 - #2 "Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Short Version: National Book Award winner - a long-form letter from the author to his son, trying to explain what it means to be black in America.

Second book of the year, had been interested in reading this one. The author has a way with words, and I love the format - it's written as a letter to his teenage son. As I understand it, he was inspired to write it by so many of the recent killings of black youth and men by police - Oscar Grant, Michael Brown, the list goes on and on.

It's depressing that a book like this needs to be written. The theme throughout the book is how black bodies are always (and have always been) at risk, and often for trivial or arbitrary reasons. Coates uses this thread to teach his son about blackness and whiteness and how he'll need to protect himself as he moves through the world.

I really liked the section focusing on his time at Howard University, and the story of how he visited the mother of one of his slain classmates' mother is pretty heartbreaking. Definitely a recommended read - it's only about 150 pages so it's a quick one but one that will make you think.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Books of 2016 - #1 "My Year of Running Dangerously" by Tom Foreman

My sister has a neat resolution for this year to read a book a week. I'm not quite that fast or ambitious so I'm shooting for 25 for the year. I'll write a little blurb for each one I finish.

My Year of Running Dangerously by Tom Foreman

Rating: 2 of 5 stars

Short version: Upper-class white guy and former high school track star overcomes no adversity to complete optional recreational pursuits.

Got this book as a Christmas present so decided to tackle it first. Tom Foreman is a reporter, currently with CNN. This book is about rekindling his running hobby via his college-aged daughter's request for him to train for a marathon with her. He'd done them before in his youth and was running 16 minute 5Ks in HS. The book runs through the training and completion of the marathon, and Tom's procession into ultramarathons, culminating in a 50 miler.

Unfortunately, Tom goes into laborious and unneeded detail on his training and races. The race recap of the 50 miler took 3-4 chapters. We ultrarunners hate overly detailed race reports, especially if there are no heroics or broken bones.

It's not that Foreman can't write, it's that there's no meat in this material. Nothing to be overcome, no battles to be won. Just a guy, who has natural talent for running, picking the hobby back up and bonding with his daughter. He and his wife have minor squabbles over his excessive training which is probably the height of the book's drama. Rather than write a book, this material should have been shortened to a page and included with their Christmas cards to friends and families. There is nothing in here to entertain or enlighten the public.

If you're interested in more personal/interesting/impressive stories of ultramarathons, check out Running Through the Wall or Ultramarathon Man.

On to the next book!

-JC

Friday, January 15, 2016

40th Birthday Run

I turned 40 recently so decided to celebrate with a solo 40 mile run. I did it down at Harvey Bear Ranch Park in San Martin on the Martin Murphy Trail. I've done a number of races there (a 6 hour, 3 50Ks, a 50 miler, and a hundred miler), so I'm very, very familiar with that two mile loop. It's a good location for this kind of self supported run since you can setup a little aid station, there's cell signal, there are restrooms, and you're never more than a mile from your car in case something goes wrong.

In fact, here's my little aid station and the start line.


I decided to start early (7am) since I aimed to complete in about 8.5 hours or so. There's just a bit of a rise at the start of the loop (maybe .2 of a mile), so I planned to walk that section and run the rest of each loop. As it turns out, though I slowed down through the day, I was able to keep that walk/run plan for all 20 loops. 

Although it's a 2 mile asphalt loop, it's quite pretty. Here's a picture on loop 2 just as the sun was rising. 


Gear and Food

Gear and fuel were pretty straightforward. 

Gear:
  • Patagonia shorts
  • Long-sleeve Binghamton University tech shirt
  • Thin Sugoi gloves (first 10 laps or so)
  • Hoka Challenger ATR (old model)
  • Injinji socks
  • My old Brooks hat
  • Julbo sunglasses
  • Nathan bottle holder with old Gatorade bottle
Fuel:
  • Roughly 1.5 gallons of water
  • 1 20 oz bottle of Coke
  • Perhaps 10 Gu gels (Tastefully Nude flavor)
  • 1 banana
  • 2 PayDay candy bars
  • About 2/3 of a 5oz bag of Gummy Bears
  • 1 Lara Bar (Lemon Bar flavor)

Splits and Time

Total time was a little over 8:06, here are my splits.


Post-Race

Pretty sore the day after, but reasonably recovered in 2 days. Here's to being 40!





Thursday, March 6, 2014

Beetle!

It was the summer of 1996; I was 20 and getting ready to start my senior year at the College of Charleston. My parents had divorced recently, and I was staying with my dad for a bit in a townhouse in North Charleston as he readied to move to Dallas, TX for a new job. I was working as a delivery driver at Quincy's in Goose Creek, and one of my coworkers mentioned that his dog had a litter of puppies that he needed to get adopted out.

For whatever reason, I decided I'd get one. My family had dogs and cats just about all my life, but I had never been fully responsible for any of them. I knew nothing of crating/kenneling, house or obedience training, etc. You don't think about these things when you're 20.

I stopped by my coworker's house, and there was a tornado of fur in the backyard. The mama was some sort of ragged black lab mutt/mix, and she'd had about 6-7 puppies. They were just chasing her all around the backyard, nipping, biting, and playing the whole time. She looked pretty exhausted. All of the puppies, except one, were this kind of weird calico cat mix. Brownish/orange, black, and white, with a bit of curl to their fur. The exception was a little brown puppy that looked like a baby grizzly bear cub with green eyes and a bit of white on her chest.

I took this little one aside to check her out. She was as playful as the rest, except now I was the focus of her attacks instead of her mom. They had named her "Kahlua," and my coworker mentioned that they were thinking of keeping her. Not sure if this was a bit of salesmanship on his part, but I decided to take her home, and off we went.

Of course, the original name didn't stick long. I chose "Beetle" after noticing she liked to chase down insects in the house (it was a bachelor apartment and we had a few too many). Those first few weeks were pretty crazy - all I really remember is Beetle circling me constantly and biting my feet and heels - whether I was sitting, walking, etc. I don't recall buying collars, food, leashes, toys - but I'm assuming I did. Luckily, she was already pretty housetrained, so we didn't have too many issues there. Unfortunately, I did not train her to not bite the furniture, carpet, etc. and I ended up with a $1500 bill for carpet replacement when we moved out the next year.

Beetle spent her first few years in Charleston, shuttling around to the various places I would rent. She spent lots of time hanging out at my mom's (even more so when I started travelling for work). I met Ana in 1999 and she also spent some time babysitting her when I would be on the road. For a year or so (probably 2000), she lived pretty full time at my mom's while we were in a house that was tough to keep dogs in.

She was pretty much nonstop activity for the first 2-3 years. The only thing that briefly slowed her down was when she got hit by a car a couple of months before she turned 1. I remember the day - it was easter sunday (final round of the Masters), the first year Tiger Woods won (1997). My family called me at work to let me know what had happened (she ran out the front door and into the road). She was at the emergency vet, and ended up having some nerve damage and a busted shoulder, but nothing a few weeks on the couch wouldn't fix.

In 2001, the Chandela Clan packed up from SC for good and headed to Raleigh, NC. We lived in an awesome location there - nice little house in the woods right next to a couple of horse farms. Beetle loved it there - we'd take walks with our cat Lucas and she'd go hang out with the horses all the time. It's also where Beetle first got in the water - we had a pond in our back yard that she ventured into one time when Ana and I were taking a spin in the paddle boat.

We were in NC for about a year or so before Ana was accepted at the U of O and we headed west to Eugene. Ana and my good friend Dave flew with the cats, and I had the pleasure of making a cross-country trip with Beetle. It was a great experience - definitely recommend driving across the US if you haven't. We went pretty fast as I didn't want to have Beetle in the car longer than necessary, but we still had fun. This trip was also when we had the infamous "Boise Incident." I will spare you the details, but it involved canned dog food, stomach distress, and a Motel 6.

Beetle loved Oregon too, and enjoyed many fine walks and hikes. We would bring her with us all the time when we walked down to the neighborhood market, and Friendly Park was probably her favorite spot. We picked up old Shakey in Oregon, and he and Beetle were fast "friends". I think this is where Beetle saw her first (maybe only?) snow - she had lots of fun playing in it and chasing snowballs. She wasn't too old (about 7-8), but I noticed her getting up a little slowly off the floor sometimes. We took her in and she had some arthritis, and thus started her long relationship with NSAIDs and Glucosamine tablets. They definitely helped, and Beetle carried on like a young pup.

In 2006, Ana transferred down to UC Santa Cruz, and we packed up the crew and headed to sunny California, which was a world different than Eugene. We soon settled into a normal walking route around the neighborhood, and got to know all the local dogs and cats on the route. We'd take trips over to Houge Park in the neighborhood across the street where Beetle would play with the various dogs (a pair of small Yorkies were her favorite). We also took Beets on just about all of our occasional vacation trips out of town - Mendocino, Sausalito, Carmel, etc. Carmel and the beach there was definitely her favorite, and she found a little pool there that she loved to frolic around in. I also took her for a work trip in Montana, and we drove together down to Dallas, TX for my grandmother's funeral.

Alas, time catches up with us all and Beetle started having more frequent random ailments. Thyroid issues causing some weird fur, a pretty bad case of glaucoma in one eye, and some crazy thing called "Old Dog Vestibular Disorder" that would cause her to lose her balance. For years, her vets thought she had Cushing's disease, and she was finally diagnosed with it when she was probably 14 or so.

Toward the end, Beetle was in pretty bad shape - she needed to wear diapers the last 4-6 months or so, and was just about blind. I was keeping an eye on her pretty close, trying to keep her as comfortable as possible. I had a home vet come to visit to check her out, not intending to have her put down. But I realized during the visit it was time.

I was sorry that Ana couldn't be there (she was out of country researching), but I didn't want Beetle to suffer any longer. She was sleeping on the living room floor, and I quietly took off her harness and booties (she needed them for traction to get up off the hardwood floor). While she was still sleeping the Dr. shaved her front leg to get the shot ready. I said goodbye and gave her one last kiss on the head like I'd done so many times for so many years. She didn't notice a thing and was gone. I carried her down to the doctor's car and was without my dog and best friend for the first time in almost 16 years.

I couldn't really have asked for a better dog, or for Beetle to have had a better life. She got a chance to see a lot, and had lots of love. She lived to the ripe old age of 15, dying just a couple weeks shy of sweet 16. I love you girl! RIP Beetle - 7/13/1996 - 6/25/2012

Jason


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Not So Much of a Clan Anymore

Shakey
Mystery


Things are quiet these days. Our fuzzy critter clan has shrunken to two very sleepy kitties.  Last month we lost our lovely Beetle and gentle Larry. Larry had lung cancer and kept it hidden until the very end, and Beetle decided that she had grown too tired of keeping going after a long life of nearly 16-years. We miss them dearly and are a little sad these days without them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Goodbye Walnut

I'm very sad to have to write this post - our little buddy Walnut died late Sunday night.

He was neutered last week, and something must have happened as a result. We rushed him in to the emergency vet Sunday night when we noticed him walking unsteadily. Unfortunately, it was too late. Shortly after the tech took his vitals, he went into cardiopulmonary arrest(his heart stopped), and they were not able to revive him. The doctors are not sure what happened.

If you're a pet owner you know that it doesn't take long to get attached to a fuzzy critter. Though we only had Walnut for a few months (he was born in late April), he was a full-fledged Chandela Clan member, and we love him tons.

We miss you so much little guy, and will remember you always.