Thursday, August 10, 2006

Music Makes Me Feel Old

One of the nice things about the iPod is that I get to drag around lots of music I haven't listened to in a long time and I get an opportunity to reacquaint myself with. I'm listening to U2's Rattle & Hum and it just brings me back to early high school. I forgot how good some of these songs are, man. And I forgot how much U2 meant to me back then. Goddamn those Irish boys were good!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Foot is Good

Ran 19 miles yesterday, a bit over 3 hours with a pee break and a visit with Audrey and Noah for water refills. I felt great for most of the run, although the uphill climb for miles 13-16 are pretty rough. I'm sore today and will probably be more sore tomorrow, but the foot didn't hurt yesterday. My knees were pretty cranky, but they are fine today.

In any case, I think it is safe to say I can do a marathon. It still remains to be seen whether I can do a 3:40, though.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

iPod Saga, Part Five

It is about time to wrap up the iPod story. Much email traffic, included automated messages from PayPal and I won't share them all here because it is mostly boring stuff. Mobile PC sent me a replacement iPod, which I didn't get until the last day of the dispute period. That sucker didn't work properly either. I would load up files and all, but it always seemed to hang. On our Mac and on Jon's laptop too. So, despite my desire to resolve this quickly, I had to continue the process and submit a claim for reimbursement. I sent the second iPod back and worked through PayPal, who ultimately refunded all the money back to me. And, while that was working itself out, we went out and bought a brand new video iPod. I can't say I'm happy about that, but we really need a way to take lots of music with us on trips. Noah has a lot of CDs, we have a large music library, and dragging the media with us just isn't an option any more. So, screw it...we gave Apple more of our hard-earned cash. Maybe this stupid thing will last longer than a year.

What did I learn? That you can't trust a damn thing on eBay. That PayPal definitely works. And that iPods are basically throwaway items as far as Apple is considered.

Is This It?

I'm "launching" a new series of posts on this blog called "Is This It?". "Is this it" is what a good friend of mine said to me one night when we were discussing where our lives have taken us and what our futures held. I've been thinking about this a great deal lately; the question of what we are here for or what we are supposed to do with ourselves or what we are trying to accomplish in a general sense. I'm not so concerned with the overall question of why we are here, at least not the spiritual stuff, but I am very interested in what the American Dream is and what we value these days. We say that we should all engage ourselves in the pursuit of happiness, but I just know too many people who seem to be pursuing things that aren't really making them happy. I've been there too and I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about this stuff lately.

What I'd like to do is present a fairly subjective description of someone's life, always a person I know, and pose some questions and see if anyone else has anything they want to say or add to the conversation. Being subjective, I may miss something about another person's situation that helps to make sense of things and you might be the person to point that out. So, with no more delay, let me start off with someone that .

I won't be using real names, of course...

We, the wife and son and I, visited with an old college friend (of my wife's)and her daughter recently. We would have seen her husband, but as is often the case, he had to work this past weekend. I have only seen him three times: at their wedding, at another person's wedding, and once at their apartment for dinner several years ago.

It is pretty clear that they are conservative in their politics and I assume there is a moderately strong religious component, but I can't really say much about it because the friend has basically said that she doesn't like to discuss politics with her friends. That may simply be a nicer way of saying that she doesn't like to discuss politics with her liberal friends because she would find our views detestable and it would permanently damage the friendship. Frankly, if my views on abortion or a living wage or the War in Iraq are enough to devalue a relationship with someone, then maybe there really wasn't much to the relationship.

In any case, the wife is an attorney who recently dropped off the partner track to work more moderately normal hours as general counsel for a large, amoral corporation. Maybe she has gone from 100 hours a week to 60 hours a week. The husband who seems to still work something like 100 hours and doesn't get home many nights until 10PM, works in creative management for a large ad agency. He works long hours to help produce television commercials for things like Mountain Dew and crappy, watered down beers. These long hours make it possible for them to do lots of things, I imagine, but mostly all I can see is that they always have a new and fancy luxury car and a beautiful house in New Jersey filled with nice stuff. Their kid has more toys than any child I've ever met, but they could be the result of gifts or something.

On paper, it is a great life. In photographs, it is a beautiful life. In conversation, it is a very interesting and admired life. But, in reality, is it a happy life? Does this family get to spend enough time together? Are they really enjoying what they do and are the long hours and sacrifice worth a large old house filled with fancy and expensive things? What is driving them?

Is it familial expectations that drive them to this? I have gotten a strong sense that this life they are creating is partly what they want because it is what they know and have come to expect from life. And, it is what their parents may expect of them to achieve. They also may travel in social circles that exist in an elitist arena in which this lifestyle is the the minimum level one must attain to continue to operate.

I know I couldn't do it. I can barely stand a job that needs more than 40 hours of my time at this point in my life. What would I get for an additional 20 hours of effort a week and would it make up for the time I'd lose with my family? In the decades to come, will it matter more that we've got lots of money or that we invested lots of time in our children's lives? Will it matter that I decided to spend my free time running instead of working on a graduate degree or doing additional work in the office?

Don't get me wrong - I like these people. And I'm not looking to judge anyone. I just wonder if they are really getting what they want...and I can't help but start to see in them what it is that I don't want for myself.

Another Marathon Training Update

Short this time. Left foot feels okay, although I sometimes sense something there still. I feel like I am sore all the time and it takes me a good few miles to warm up most days. I am somewhat concerned about the next two weeks. I've got 45 miles this week followed by 50 next week and I didn't recover as much as I had hoped last week, which is what I should have expected considering my "rest" was to run 37 miles. I need to get serious about getting enough sleep and I need to get my eating back on track or I am going to have a hell of a time the next month or so. Frankly, I don't know how I'm going to keep this up if I don't focus my efforts and prioritize a bit better. No more surfing the internet at night to read about cars or advanced physics and I've got to get extremely productive at work so I don't need to continue working after dinner every night.

I can do this. I signed up, I committed to this training, and I'm going to do a 3:40! I could tell you what I would be happy with, but I don't even want to consider anything less than a 3:40 yet. Heck, maybe I can even pull a 3:35. My pace runs have felt rough, but two out of the last three have been fast. Gotta get back to work now.