All posts by jason

Birthday Fun!

So, recently we were at our Safeway grocery store getting a birthday cake for Luke.  Going through the checkout lane, the cashier asked who the cake was for.  Luke quickly stepped up and report that it was his birthday and his sister’s birth day was last week.  The cashier’s eye lit up and she said, “ok, what are your names?”

“I’m Luke and this is my sister, Jillian.”

Cashier then casually picks up the phone and dials the extension for the intercom.  “Attention Safeway shoppers, can you please help us wish Luke and his sister Jillian a Happy Birthday?”

A small cheer went up from the folks in the immediate area.  The cashier turned back to us and smiled, “I have to have some fun while I’m stuck up here.” Then she handed each a candy cane.

A minute or two later, the intercom chimed in again.  “Happy Birthday Luke and Jilly from everyone in the deli department!”

These Safeway folks are the best.

A Lego Miracle

Somehow, I managed to pick a Lego set for Luke for Christmas that was already part of his massive collection. He was happy enough to rip into it and build it again, but I was able to talk him out of that and return it get a different set instead.

So, a few days after Christmas we headed to the local mall to visit the Lego store. We ended up getting to the mall about 9:30; turns out that after the big holiday, all the stores go back to their their normal 10 opening time.  Oops.  So, we wandered around for a while and then parked at table near the Lego store to wait out the final few minutes.

An older guy asked if he could share the table as we waited. I said, “sure.” As he sat down he flopped a big Lego manual down on the table. I said, “ha! we’re headed to the Lego store too.”

“Yeah, my grandson is upset because his set is missing a few pieces.” “Really? That rarely happens. But, that’s a big set, so pretty believeable.”

Soon enough, the store opened and we both wandered in. We left Luke’s return on the counter and went shopping for a different set. While Luke wandered off, I overheard the older guy and the Lego employee talking.

“Geez, sorry that you’re missing a piece! We don’t have all pieces for every set at each store, but we can help you get that piece from Lego corporate. Let’s take a look at what you’re missing, and see what we’ve got. Oh, yeah, that’s an oddball part.”

The Lego employee disappeared into the backroom and comes back with big ziplock bag full of random parts.

“Wow, would you look at that? The exact part you need, in the right color, was right on the top of the bag!”

I somehow resisted the urge to let out a cheer, and instead gave the older guy a quick thumbs up.

Luke managed to find another set he was interested and all was right again in everybody’s collective Lego worlds.

Today On The Run #18 Ultra Realistic Treadmill Courses

Recently, I was on vacation and forgot to bring my cold/wet weather running gear.  After running in sunny weather in 70s, 80s, and 90s for the last few months, mid 40s and rain wasn’t my jam, so I decided to head to the workout room at the hotel and pound out 10 on a treadmill.

I was pleasantly surprised to find an open treadmill.  Better yet was that is appeared to be an almost new machine.  I think it was one of these.  Gigantic HD touch screen and loads of entertainment options built right.  Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my workout headphones.

Oh well, let’s just stick to the video running courses.  A few minutes in and I was pretty impressed, the overall quality and variety is better than expected.  But as things went on, I noticed some problems:

  • The source material is shot a few different ways.  I’m guessing a steady cam on someone walking, some from a bike, and some with a drone.  With the latter, the illusion of actually being there kinda falls apart when the distance to the ground gets higher than eye level.
  • I can’t tell for sure, but I think that the video is supposed to be speed synced to the treadmill speed.  Most of the time, it appears to be close enough.  Sometimes, you’re cooking along in real life, but the action on screen is too slow. There’s one segment where you pass a biker who’s moving along at a pretty good clip; pretty sure he was doing better than 8.1 mph I was managing myself.
  • Some of the courses mess with your head.  Running trails with a steep drop off to one side, lots of blind twists and turns, or crazy stuff like rope bridges are convincing enough to make you lean to adjust your virtual balance.  I didn’t really have any issues, but it took a lot of concentration to convince my body that I wasn’t gonna drop off a cliff mid run.
  • In the too real department, there are some sections where you run through populated areas like city streets and beaches.  Just like in real life, people in the videos don’t yield space, or obliviously cross into your path.  There are even a few random yahoos that intentionally jump in front of you or try to high five you maliciously. I seriously wanted to punch something after those sections.

All in all, the videos did make the treadmill experience less annoying than just staring at the wall, so I guess I can’t complain too much.  But, after a few runs back in the outdoors, I’m thankful that I can run outside all year round.

Today On The Run #16 Peace, Love, and Respect

I don’t follow the professional running scene much, but congratulations to Desiree Linden, the first female American Boston Marathon winner since 1985!   The weather was completely bananas; I’m pretty sure I would have hung it up in the first few miles, myself. Des almost quit herself!

Runner’s World has a great write up on how her helping a fellow runner might have been the boost she needed to carry her through.  Amazing stuff.

Speaking from my vast experience of races (which consists of couple of dozen races in half a dozen years, resulting in two 3rd places in my age group. #sadtrombone) I can totally see how making connections during the race helps both sides.  At my earliest races, I got nothing but love and respect from everybody, probably when I needed it the most.

I always tried (and still try) to pay it back at other races and pretty much anytime I meet up with other runners.  Everybody who has the guts to show up at any race, 1 mile to Marathon, earned the right to be there and is no less deserving than anyone else there that day.