Friday, March 31, 2006

Today I Ran A Long Way

It was with a mild headache that I first opened my eyes this morning. Surprisingly mild, actually, considering the hijinks I had been up to twelve hours prior. Under my current work schedule, Fridays are the first day of my weekend, and it's a good day to get out and run in peace. I visited the Kent Trails Thursday evening on the bike, measuring distances, and the lovely weather had lured out an after work crowd of runners, bikers and walkers enjoying the warm temperatures. While it was nice to see so many people out, I prefer the solitude of the weekday trails for my long runs. This morning I was a little sore from that ride, and a little hungover from last night's festivities, but I was looking forward to getting out there anyway.

I try to get out for a long run once a week, and lately I've been pretty good about it. Almost every Friday I get out and run farther than I ever have before. It's part of a training regimen which is building up to the Riverbank Run. They do create a nice sense of accomplishment and the trails are really a lovely place to run. During the week I like to take my bike out and measure the distances I run. Last week it was 9.2 miles. Today I wanted to top the 10 mile mark.

The weather was a mixed bag. When I finally got out of the house at 2 pm, it was 65 degrees, but every weatherman in town was saying that thunderstorms were on today's docket. I wasn't too worried, because I quite enjoy running in the rain, but I wasn't really in the mood for a total downpour.

I ran without my headphones. As it gets warmer, the tunes seem to be more of an intrusion. When it was cold out, music works to shut out the elements, but as it gets nicer I want to embrace those elements. It's also much easier to get lost in thought when there is no music to distract you. My music today was instead the rustling of wildlife in the brush and the sound of my own footfalls, which I try to make as quiet as possible. Only on a hill or at the end of my run did my breathing become audible. The few people I did see didn't hear me until I was right behind them.

I was happy as long as the rain held off. It felt imminent a few times, and there were some light drizzles, but the rain held off until long after my run was done. The wind, though, was intense. My goal was only to keep running, no matter how slowly, so I didn't fight the wind too much. I could feel the breeze pushing my headtop mop this way and that, and I imagine the sight of me running with my shaggy do hanging over my sunglasses might have been comical.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Madlib's Beat Konducta Vol 1-2 is a 5 star record. An unrefined collage of motifs more than a collection of compositions and a form I find surprisingly pleasing. At times a psychadelic trip and the closest I've heard anyone come to topping Endtroducing(:)). Lots of moments for the head(bob). Sorry Mr. Herren, you still my boy.

CACHÉ was at the UICA and it gets better in my mind the more time I spend thinking about it. See it with someone you like to talk to, because you will do a lot of talking afterwards. I want to see it again immediately. Before tonight I'd never seen an entire audience sit stunned and motionless for the entire duration of the credits.

Paying cover at a bar to hear a DJ I don't care about is something I try to avoid.

There was humorous media nonsense today over the GR mystery project.
First, from the GRPress:
The site between Market and Grandville avenues, south of U.S. 131, would include a satellite campus to develop new hip hop and urban music talent with a recording studio and a concert venue as a regional draw.
Then, from WOOD TV:
Development Corp: It's Not Interscope. This afternoon for the first time, Grand Rapids Development Corporation addressed media reports concerning the Mystery Development.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Bush, Blair, & Lionel Richie

Fukuyama's Awakening?

Thinker Francis Fukuyama's new book is noted with an article in the NYTimes. Neo no more, they say.
The White House decided to ignore any useful lessons the Clinton administration might have learned in Bosnia and Kosovo, on the grounds that whatever Bill Clinton did — for example, conduct a successful intervention — George W. Bush wanted to do the opposite. There was the diplomatic folly of announcing an intention to dominate the globe, and so forth — all of which leads Fukuyama, scratching his head, to propose a psychological explanation.

Good Time For

Recently downloaded includes albums from Stereolab, Isolee, and Lusine, plus a 4 song EP from Like A Tim. Lots of Ghostly stuff just posted. Hop on that. If you're not a subscriber and you want to sign up, you can go through me and I'll get 50 free downloads. You as a new member will get 50 free downloads regardless.

Friday, March 24, 2006

I don't understand this.

This blog is complete gibberish. Why does something like this exist? Each link I find leads to more gibberish. Yet it's interesting to read the selection of words. The way it reads, it ALMOST makes sense, but not quite. It reminds me of one particular episode of The Twilight Zone. Did a person or computer write this? What is this????

From "Sports Radio Jobs"

offering the it make I A whole water your Exactly up (V) win triton college radio the Jason you so get but ambi for of as forgot TRITON COLLEGE RADIO Dont again, Mr through in second then old Fairness? on with dictatorial Back so a more ://pokertracker in once river $9+$1 WOW Nazis should you appreciated!
I use a deluxe hit counter on this blog, and I can tell what pages people use to get here. That's how I found this. Apparently someone has come from this site to mine. It might be pure chance due to the way Blogger's "next blog" button works, but that doesn't explain why a blog like this exists. I'm intrigued.

Moo Shu, Merlot, Coltrane, Heirloom Poultry and Sean Paul

Friday Night, 9:08 pm. My roommate is out on a date. I sit at home with a very romantic jazz soundtrack over Chinese and merlot. By myself. Ladies, I'm available, and the Times says that I'm at the height of fashion.

I sat down to my Chinese, merlot, and jazz with the Atlantic as a substitute for an intelligent, beautiful, and concupiscent female companion. The Chinese and the merlot were not disappointing, if a bit pedestrian. But the jazz has been lovely, with artists like John Coltrane and Stan Getz among newer names I've never heard but am pleasantly surprised by.

I turned to a joy of an article in the Atlantic about heirloom poultry, a term I had never heard before. Heirloom poultry is apparently a movement in farming of raising birds more naturally. Zen and the art of poultry farming, perhaps. It's more humane, but maybe more importantly, this method also results in much better tasting meat. But, H5N1 is a looming threat to the anachronistic (and rarely profitable) practice.

Zingerman's in Ann Arbor is mentioned in this story, and I always love it when I see a reference to Zingerman's in the national media (last time it was on NPR. A Splendid Table. I don't have time to explain.).

More interestingly for me, though, was that the focus of the second half of the story was on Earthshine Farm in Durand, MI (between Lansing and Flint, if you trust the article). Interesting, because I think I could make a great TV story out of this. I'd love to tell you all about it, but you should read the article instead.

The Sean Paul part of the title refers to a Jamaican Dancehall star. I think Sean Paul is also the name of a clothing line launched by a rapper (Nope. That's Sean John.), which has caused me confusion. Regardless, I mention the guy because he was written up in a great NYTimes article. I'm not familiar with his music, but after I finish this I'm going right to iTunes(?). I have been listening to a lot of Jamaican music lately, and I'm excited to check out some of the artists mentioned in this article. Especially Jah Snowcone.

And I've just found The Velvet Hot Tub, the funniest celebrity photo blog ever.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Who's There? Phillip Glass.

Just heard an excellent segment on NPR's Day to Day featuring musician/producer David Was on minimalism. The occasion is a music festival called Minimalist Jukebox taking place in LA right now.

Stop the PSE law

Stop the PSE law
Originally uploaded by asobitsuchiya.
Something is going on in Japan. This is a protest against a proposed law which would purportedly ban vintage synthesizers. If you look near the bottom of this photo, you can see a protester holding his mixer in the air.

Stolen from: Music Thing

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Post Race Analysis

The Irish Jig 5K. It was a highly anticipated race by me and my fellow Foxtrotters. The Foxtrotters are my running coworkers and I, aligned for the first time today to devastate team competition in Division 2, the under 500 employee category. After weeks of intense mental and physical preparation, the race arrived this morning.

The weather was ideal - chilly, but sunny and calm - and quite a crowd had gathered in and near East Grand Rapids High by 8:30, a half hour before race time. After tracking down our defacto team manager, I obtained my race gear: number and safety pins, commemorative t-shirt, and most importantly, my timing chip, which would be tied into my shoelaces and record my time from start to finish. I decided to leave the ipod behind and get the full race experience.

I hear "10 minutes to race!" from a loudspeaker somewhere near the start line. I see my teammates for the last time before the race and do some warmups.

"5 minutes to race" One more easy wind sprint.

"2 minutes, runners!" I move to the front third of the two thousand bodies assembled behind the start line.

"1 minute!" I Look down, is my right shoe a little loose? Is my race chip tied securely enough? No time to check now. I hope for the best and prepare to start my watch.

I don't hear a clear "Start!", but I could see the front runners begin to move. I followed suit. The first quarter mile is a stampede. I'm at a quick pace to begin in this crowd. Near the curb, I'm forced off the road and to the sidewalk. I hear a scuffle and turn my head just in time to see a body go down in the middle of the asphalt. For the next 4 minutes, it's like navigating rush hour. Slow people are drifting back from the front, quick people are pushing up from the back. It's a mad dash.

Traffic doesn't really settle until nearly a mile in, but that's a guesstimate, since I never saw the first mile marker. It was 8:38 into the race when I looked down at my watch and realized that I must have passed it. I had managed to maintain the quick pace I started with, but it wasn't easy. Since I missed the marker, I didn't know for sure, but it felt like I was moving right along, and I wasn't alone. The front of the pack had disappeared shortly after the start, but I felt like I was among some good runners. My pacers were all types, but none too heavy. I was most evenly paced with a 5'7" Latina with an incredible physique. There were plenty of times I wanted to stop, or at least slow down, but I didn't want to drift back. I wanted to keep up. Did I start too fast? Could I sustain this pace?

I was working, but I felt mostly good. Quitting smoking two weeks ago paid dividends and I reached new aerobic heights and never struggled to catch my breath. A slight incline, and the blonde girl in front of me falls back. The streets of East GR are clean, and neighbors, especially neighbors with kids and dogs, have come out to watch. I wonder what those dogs must think, seeing all these people running up the street. Wouldn't that be kind of a mindf*ck for a dog? I thought of the Independence Day Fireworks I saw driving west on i-96 and the deer at the road's edge, staring at the sky. Keep running.

I see the 2 mile flag. It's huge! How'd I miss the first one? I pass it and look at my watch. Fourteen minutes? Could that be right? I realize how fast I'm moving, and it's faster than I had planned. No choice now but to keep it up.

It was then that I started to welcome the suffering, embracing it. I invited suffering in for dinner. I wanted to find out all about suffering and his friends, pain and misery. This is really a suffering contest, I think to myself. This point comes in every run. It's when suffering starts to taste good.

I look down again, 19 minutes and change. At my pace, the end must not be that far off. It's solace, at least.

A rift is slowly growing right in front of me. I'm not keeping up, but I'm not getting passed either. Just keep going!

There's the 3 mile mark. I'm under it in less than 21 minutes! This is a personal best pace and then some.

I look up and see that the road turns right up ahead. The finish must be close, but I need to see it before I'm comfortable really pouring on what little I have left. People are cheering for friends on the sidelines, but I hear the message: "Kick! Kick! Kick!!!"

I pick it up a few notches, turn the corner, and there's the finish, 75 feet away, a tapered chute like a bottleneck is swallowing runners in front of me. I give it what I can, but I can't muster much of a boost. I hold my shell open so that my number is clearly visible. I hear the high note struck by the computer reading the timing chips as they cross in front of me. I look down and see the clock as I cross the finish line: 22:09

I felt dizzy for a second as I tried to push through the finish traffic. I'm asked for my chip, and I almost fall over. I stop and breathe and bend down to untie it from my shoe. You can have it.

I grab a water, get my bearings, and move back to the finish to cheer my fellow Foxtrotters. I hadn't seen any teammates since before the race. After the last of us crossed the line, it was up the street for some Guinness. It was a day late, but sweeter from the age.

My final time by the chip was 21:49. Not bad, 'eh?

The Foxtrotters order their beers after the race.

Friday, March 17, 2006

I'm Eating Yogurt

For most of my life, I thought yogurt was pretty gross. I've tried to eat it before, but as a habit, it never really stuck. Then last week, after a night of drinking, I was raiding a friend's fridge and the yogurt in there looked really good. At the time, I really enjoyed it. I went shopping today and bought myself a bunch, and just finished my first cup. Yum!

One research study tracked a population of 162 very elderly people for five years. Those who ate yogurt and milk more than three times per week were 38% less likely to die compared to those who ate those foods less than once a week.

Google is ruining my life.

I'll never get hired again.
I googled my name..

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I'm not real interested in St. Patrick's Day excessiveness, as I feel it's basically an American desecration of the original idea. I mean, it's essentially a day to get drunk and pretend you're Irish, which revelers would tell you is redundant. I had never really devoted any thought to it, but tonight, suddenly I thought I was honestly offended.

Offended, because I'm pretty Irish. If you look closely in the picture, you'll see an Irish license plate which, before being tacked to my wall, was tacked to a vehicle owned by my uncle in Carlow. I think St. Patty's Day would be more fun if I wasn't Irish. For example, I think I would have much more fun being Jamaican for a day. I'd embrace all the Jamaican stereotypes and it would be a great excuse to listen to lots of great reggae and embrace rastafarianism for a full 24 hour period. I could wake up real early. First I'd do some rasta praying, and then I'd listen to Peter Tosh, or maybe some King Tubby, I could have a meal of Jerk Chicken and drink Red Stripe. It' would have to be in the summer and I could chill near some water. It would be a good day.

Anyway, I was getting all political and serious about it abstaining from St. Patty's Day this year. It's kinda been a theme with the quitting smoking and all the masochism of my fitness regimen. But as I was driving home from work, I started to think about a Guinness. So I bought a few, then as I was walking up to the house, I thought that it's uncharacteristic of an Irishman to be an oversensitive stick in the mud. The Irish in me (or something, anyway) was seeing the mostly harmless fun that St. Patty's Day is. Even if the Irish take a little ribbing, it's all in love. A truer Irishman than I would have a sense of humor, ferchrissakes!

So I raise this second Pint to you, dear reader:

May your glass be ever full
May the roof over your head be always strong,
And may you be in heaven Half an hour before the devil knows you're dead.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Learning John Fahey

I didn't know about John Fahey until very recently. He's a virtuoso guitarist in a country/folky/abstract vein. When I first heard him, I was bewitched. Somewhere someone wrote that John Fahey plays guitar like other people play the piano. I'm trying to learn to play a Fahey tune now, and it is, maddeningly so at times, reminiscent of piano practice.

Fahey's a picker. I love pickers. I love the sound that five fingertips can make over a sound hole. It's much more interesting than one strumming pick, and for my dollar, much more fun to learn. The piece I'm trying to learn is called Desperate Man Blues. It's in an unorthodox tuning, which means its the only thing I'm working on right now. I love it because it never seems to repeat itself. Of course, music is inherently repetitious, especially the kind of bluesy thing Fahey emulates here, but he lets not even one bar repeat exactly.

Trying to learn it is like starting and endless novel. I may work on it forever without finishing it. It's a puzzle of daunting proportions, and therefore more compelling. Like Everest. I'll learn it because it's there. But it's not a joyless exercise, not at all. Like any undertaking, it's about the journey, not the destination. Practice is the means AND the end. Its a fulfillment loop. Each phrase, each note is a joy to sound accurately, a joy as pure as any I have felt in music, and I'm still in the first 16 measures.

I work based off of an imperfect tab I found online. I'm slow, and after a few weeks I'm still just trying to get through the first few measures(it's hard, man!). In the beginning, I listened to Fahey's recording to get a feel for how to play it, but after 20 listens or so, I got a pretty good idea of how it's supposed to sound when I play it. I can't play it anywhere near as fast as Fahey does, and I still stutter along, but I'm slowly learning, which is exhilarating. So I'm trying to resist listening to Fahey's recording because doing so would be throwing a wet towel on my emerging sense of accomplishment.

So I practice, playing plenty of wrong notes, but each repetition brings refinement. If not perfect, practice makes better, and better is perfect.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Blog Starter Kit

Overnight blogger celebrity is virtually guaranteed with these topics! Choose one or more, and go to town on your own blog! You'll be on NPR in no time!

1. Can art, (especially new art) thrive in an atmosphere of total lawfulness? (A good anecdote for this post would be the New York City blackout of 1977; "Everybody was a DJ. Everybody stole turntables and stuff. Every electronic store imaginable got hit for stuff. Every record store. Everything. That sprung a whole new set of DJ's" - GrandMaster Caz.) Also, what about drug use?

2. Maybe you recently realized that you can't be for looser drug laws and stricter gun control laws without contradicting yourself.

3. has got a real hatred for trip hop, and deserves a proper flogging for their recent review of the new Coldcut album, even if it really isn't a spectacular record.

4. Perhaps you have recently attended a lovely Stereolab performance and would like to wax poetic about how great they are live and how it was really sad at the end when Laetitia was singing both her and Mary's vocal parts until she couldn't keep up anymore and let the tamborine take over and how you almost shed a tear. Maybe you took a few pictures.

5. The joy of finding a clean Slowdive CD for $4 and an irresistable Ted Nugent t-shirt for $7 at a weird downriver bar that you hope you never find yourself in again despite your neato acquisitions.

6. The fact that the guy at said bar was overheard saying, "Labatt's, now that's a beer!" without the slightest hint of sarcasm.

7. Lastly, even though you would be a little late to this party, you could have a laugh with The House of Cosbys which Bill Cosby apparently wants removed from the net. I still love you Bill!

These are just a few examples of possible subjects for your next blog post. Take the time to do some research, and don't forget to add your own sense of style and humor. Uniqueness is at a premium, but it doesn't trump quality. Now get out there and write, because there are too many people who are too lazy to do it for themselves.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

First Ride

Got the bike out for the first time today. Put on a new set of pedals, repaired a leaky innertube and set off. Half my ride was town traffic dodging bike courier style, and the other half was good tempo riding on the Kent Trails. A lovely day for a ride: a comfortable chill in the air, overcast skies, and the suspense of impending rain (which didn't hit until later).

New Herbert Alert

The folks at Pitchfork have very, very nice things to say about soon to be released music by Herbert, an artist with whom every discerning aesthete should be familar.
Herbert: "Something Isn't Right"
genre: house

Funny how you only need about 10 seconds to sniff out a Herbert production. Every sound the man uses is so refined that his tracks sound almost aristocratic when stood next to those of his peers. This one gets off the ground smoothly, with its chugging staccato micro-rhythm, jazz-lite guitar peels, and male/female vocals (courtesy Dave Okumu, Neil Thomas, and Dani Siciliano) all locked together in a watery groove. Then, like a poker player revealing his royal flush one card at a time, Herbert slowly brings out the setpieces: rolling superhero strings, robust horn stabs, plosive vocal do-do-do's. As the melody turns on this gorgeous lead-in ("I won't follow you/ Into the night"), things get dark and cloudy, and suddenly we've got broody big band tech-house by way of Gotham City. So many nooks and crannies, so many perfect little moments, all tucked into each other like little flaps in origami folds. Best song on a best album. [Mark Pytlik] (5 stars)

Now Playing: Bodily Functions

GR Mystery Project

Just wanted to drop this post for posterity's sake, as proof of my psychic prowess. All of Grand Rapids is in suspense right now over a secret project proposed just south of downtown on the river. The number 2 billion has been discussed as a dollar figure. Today the news is that key owners are selling their property (including music venue The Intersection) to make way for this thing that the mayor has been sworn to secrecy over. Even members of the city commission are in the dark, and at least one is getting noisy about that fact. It's all quite exciting, and the word is that whatever this thing is, it will be great for Grand Rapids.

Until I'm proven wrong, which should be sometime next week, I'm calling it "THE LIGHT RAIL PROJECT." I feel like the little boy I was that Christmas years ago, so excited because I was pretty sure that it was a Casio keyboard in that wrapped box. Christmas morning I unwrapped a nice chess board instead.

If it's light rail though, I'm super psychic. Check back for updates. If you're into the transit thing, check out for news on that and other issues.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Update: George W. Bush is a terrible president.

60% disapprove. . . Last week a slew of polls were released showing President Bush with a job approval rating somewhere between 34 and 40 percent and the opinion of Congress even worse with a 28 percent favorable rating. The Vice President's positive rating was down to 18 percent in the CBS poll, a number which the Washington Post discovered was topped (or is it bottomed?) only by Paris Hilton's 15% in a Gallup poll last summer. . . . U.S. Troops in Iraq: 72% Say End War in 2006 Almost 90% think war is retaliation for SaddamÂ’s role in 9/11. . .Associated Press report about videotape of a videoconference in which President Bush was told before Hurricane Katrina's landfall that the storm would be hugely catastrophic and that there was concern that New Orleans' levees might fail is a stunning piece of bad news for the White House. . .

Monday, March 06, 2006

On Crash, The Oscars, and Jack.

Since Brokeback was really better than Crash, I have invented a conspiracy theory which pleases me and makes the universe right again.

Jack lied. It's that simple. The envelope said one thing, he said another. It's the only possible explanation. Jack lied to us all.

I Heart PerplexCity

Mark at BoingBoing says it much better than I could, but I agree. I'm really having fun with PerplexCity. It's gonna be one of those things, I think, that you love in its infancy so much, you tell everyone you know, it blows up, and too many people are involved, and you'll grow resentful when it's not totally cool because your boss plays it, and you were down when it was brand new, man, and that's when it was really cool, and kids today just don't know how good it was. It was today. Read the BoingBoing post. This thing is amazing. I'm researching it on wikipedia entries constructed FOR this game, as in, involved in game play, I think. It's really crazy.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Random Bits

- The more I listen to the new Belle and Sebastian, the more I like it.
- I hate automatic checkouts at the grocery store.
- I'm looking for fellow hunters of the Receda Cube for collaboration.
- I'm living without a 3 year plan, but I'm trying to nail one down.
- Nicotine withdrawl is somehow linked to the phenomena called "restless leg syndrome," as well as insomnia.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Smoke Free

Let me begin by stating that I believe I will live to see 92 years of age. I don't know why 92, and not 93 or any other age. It's just a gut feeling thing. A vision, perhaps. This is one story about coming closer to realizing my destiny.

I'm not quitTING, I've just QUIT. I'm out. But I prefer to think of myself as "smoke free." It's much more positive.

It's been a long time coming, really. Many fits and starts. Lately I've gone on and off the gum, bought bulk lollipops, and generally ruminated about cutting back, and eventually quitting. It's been 14 years give or take. I've tried to be realistic about it, especially recently, after many failed attempts to quit. One must be honest with one's self.

I've lived the past 5 years as a runner/smoker, and not always in that order. I couldn't figure out if the combination was more or less healthy than smoking without the running. The health effects of running are obvious (good for you), and the same with smoking (bad for you), but what about both at the same time? As a smoker, I found myself thinking that I, or my lungs, anyway, MIGHT actually be better off WITHOUT the running. Let me explain.

If I smoked heavily (and I often did), the next time I got out for a run would invariably be a phlegm fest. Major lugies. I've gotten pretty good at timing my lugie spits to keep right in time with my breathing. I always try to wait until no one's around to see, because lugies, especially these lugies, from the deepest depths of my respiratory cavity, are like comets - the have tails. Often a hand is required to free the lugie tail from the face from which it came. I've gotten real used to it.

But those lugies have a purpose in the lungs of the smoker. They are protectors of valuable tissue. Lugies are the immune system at work. Without those lugies, my lungs are wide open targets for cigarette toxins. Which, though never were inhaled while actually running, inevitably followed behind, sometimes by as little as 20 minutes.

In the past weeks, I've been running more than ever, training for a 25K race in May. I haven't really tried to cut back on the smoking. The most I could say in that area is that at least the time I spend running (which can be hours on the weekends) are safe. The rest of the day is wide open to smoking. But as I ran more, I started to notice a funny feeling afterwards, in what felt like the back of my lungs. It was kind of an itchy feeling, an irritation. It was just worrisome enough to gnaw at me from time to time, but not worrisome enough to get me to change my behavior.

Meanwhile, I've really been having success with my training, getting in a long run each week, and in general feeling good about things until this week. I don't know what happened, but I just wasn't able to get myself out the door. The weather has been especially cold, and the only people I saw running were old dudes. It's always more inspiring to me to see people my age running, because I can identify. It wasn't that I wasn't thinking about it - I was, but I was so damn indecisive. Recently I spent 45 minutes trying to decide between the going to the bar or running. I changed more than twice. I finally chose the bar. Then yesterday, I had the day off, and I decided to go to the coffee shop. Between my door and the door of The Common Ground, I saw two young people running in the 25 degree afternoon. Inspiration, but I was only halfway there. It took this discussion between Miller and Gladwell to get me the rest of the way.

So I got home after dark and geared up. I stretched and warmed up with a light jog around the block. I had decided to go short but fast. I got a 5K later this month, and I need to pick up my race pace. It was cold, but it only takes seconds to warm up to a comfortable level. Within minutes I'm always sweating through my base layer. This time, I was pushing it. No slack. Race pace. Phlegmy as usual. Feeling good up the last hill, and kicked it up a notch to nearly sprint the home stretch, arriving back at the house with one of my fastest times ever.

I felt good as I cooled off with a nice easy walk around the block. It had been a good run. No knee pain, no real lapses of energy. There is usually still some loose phlegm to deal with on these walks. Last night, I thought I felt a chunk of something in my lugie. Strange, what's that? But it was gone in the dark. Got home, and felt another. I spit in the sink, and fished out the chunk with my finger. It was small, no bigger than a very small pebble, and it was beige in color. It was soft, and I smeared it on my fingertip. It couldn't be food, because I hadn't eaten in hours. It was not lung lugie; it had a more solid consistency Could this be what I think it is? I brought my fingertip close to my eye. There was a certain texture to the smeared chunk. It didn't spread like jelly, more like a deck of cards, in sheets.

"This is my freaking lung I'm looking at!" I thought.

It's said in a samurai code somewhere that a decision should be made within the space of seven breaths. I'm pretty sure it didn't take me any longer than that to decide that I was done.

But I'm not quitting, I've already quit. And besides, it's much easier to think of it as being "smoke free."