HURRAH FOR SPRING!

In celebration of spring, I am posting my favorite UNCHAIN THE AWESOME videos, from one I just discovered today (“Grocery Groove”, below), to my favorite thing in the whole entire world, animal, vegetable, or mineral — the Bill Irwin video from Sesame Street at the bottom. See, his Charleston really was THAT amazing the whole time; it just took the friendly, supportive teamwork of the two other fellows to UNLOCK THE ROCK for all three of them! Okay, here goes:

(There’s more awesome Fred “Rerun” Berry dancing, from his earlier career as a Soul Train dancer, at 1:06 in this video that Dr. Zibbs linked to)

Honorable mention: the amazing Prisencolinensinainciusol, which was written to sound like what English sounds like to non-english speakers, and William Shatner’s unexpectedly affecting cover of Common People!

HURRAH FOR SPRING!

I Graduated from C25K This Weekend!

I’ve been doing the Couch to 5K beginning (and returning) runners’ plan since January, and yesterday, I finished it and ran a 5K race for the first time in, uh… oh, wow: twenty years!

c25k_app.pngC25K is pretty straightforward, though there’s a lot of stuff to keep track of. You start by jogging one minute, then walking ninety seconds, then repeating — then, in the next week, you jog a little bit more and walk a little bit less. In the past, this meant lots of time spent scrutinizing your stopwatch. But I’ve been using Felt Tip’s C25K iPhone app, which tracks all the details and just gives you “run now!” “okay, walk” messages through your headphones. In fact, the “RUN NOW WOOP WOOP WOOP” message is kind of startling, like an “all hands” general alarm, which is great for getting you to leap off the blocks when it’s time to start jogging again. You can run it on top of the Nike+ application on the iPhone, which IN TURN runs on top of your iPod, so you can chug along, listening to your music, just obey the “walk now” and “run now” commands, and when you’re done you get all kinds of telemetry about your runs uploaded to the Nike+ website.

Here’s the graph of all the runs I did for C25K, on the Nike+ site. Since C25K gradually replaces brisk walking with jogging, the mileage doesn’t go up steeply, or anything. But it’s nice to have such a big collection of green bars!

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Up until just a few days ago, all of those runs were on the second-floor gym track at the YMCA Youth Program Center on Chestnut street. Around, and around, and around the track! Indoor Track at the YMCA

Yesterday, I graduated with my first 5K run! I signed up for the St. Pat’s 5K race, held by the really excellent local Chester County Runners’ Store. Kevin Kelly, the co-owner of the store, was actually my cross-country coach in high school, and he puts together a whole bunch of clinics, group runs, workshops, and friendly, mellow runs like this one.

The run was held on the West Chester Downtown Loop, which is two mile-and-a-half-ish loops around town. It’s square, and flattish, and there are volunteers standing at each corner to stop traffic, even when the rain is slashing down sideways like it was yesterday. (“Seems like we’ll have a nice tailwind by the park”, wrote Coach Kevin in an email Saturday morning to let us know the race was still on.) I ran in a gore-tex jacket, and felt very hard-core running through a nor’-easter, but those folks stand in one place for the same duration, braving the weather just so we can have a nice, flat, untinterrupted jog.

Anyhow, I’m very happy to have completed ten weeks of C25K, and I’m looking forward to many runs in West Chester! Hurrah!

I Graduated from C25K This Weekend!

Cult of the Object: Wheatley Aluminum Fly Box

My grandfather, John Randolph (“Slim”) Young, was a hell of a fellow. He was an avid fly fisherman, and belonged to a fishing club in the Poconos called the Pohoqualine Fishing Association, which I’ve blogged about before. Here he is in 1979 with my aunt Becky, relaxing in the white clapboard fishing cottage called “totem home”:

Aunt Becky and Slim

Here he is, be-suspendered, on the lawn outside Totem Home, teaching my cousin Beth and I to cast. Ten… and two! Ten… and two!

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Here is my aunt Becky, looking incredibly fierce and dashing in her full fly-fishing fig, preparing to cast a dry fly upstream into McMichael’s creek. Or perhaps she’s waiting for a gaggle of Ralph Lauren photographers to arrive. Could they have been far away? I mean, come ON! Look at those hip waders! JUST LOOK AT THEM!

Aunt Becky in Hip Waders

Anyhow, the reason I posted these pictures from Flickr (you can click on them to see the set, including this picture of eight-year-old me looking just like Lydia), is because I remembered the existence of the chief, the most amazing, the BEST piece of gear in a hobby that’s almost entirely built around wonderful little bits of gear. This is the item that I would stand in the stream and play with, mesmerized. I’d take it out of my child-sized fishing vest, provided by my grandfather, and just MARVEL at it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the richard Wheatley Spring-Loaded, Multi-Compartment Window Dry Fly Box Number 1609:

Richard_Wheatley_Fly_boxes_1609.jpg

Each little window compartment has a spring behind it, and a little wire catch, so when you touch the catch, the window opens with a satisfying little “FWIP” noise. You can run a fingertp down a column of windows and “FW-W-WIP” open up three in a row. You can run TWO fingers down TWO columns and “FF-WW-IPP” open up two rows of windows. Since the box is stuffed with lots of colorful little flies, it’s the most AMAZINGLY SATISFYING THING EVER. I hadn’t thought about this box for years and years and years, and now that its existence popped into my head I REALLY REALLY want one again.

Given that JRY was an inveterate gearhead, I realized that this probably was not a cheap item. And it’s not – it’s two hundred damn dollars. And since I don’t fish anymore, I don’t even know what I’d put in there. BUT I STILL WANT IT!

Cult of the Object: Wheatley Aluminum Fly Box

Still Life With Dashing Uncle

Matt got his 1971 BSA Thunderbolt up and running yesterday, and stopped by at dinnertime. There’s a line in a Lord Peter Wimsey book where Peter produces a revolver, and immediately is upgraded in the eyes of his nephew from “genial uncle” to “Exalted Uncle”, and that’s what this picture reminds me of:

Still Life with Dashing Uncle

Matt is wearing an old-stock waxed-cotton Belstaff jacket, which I think may have been Bob’s, and of course the correct pudding-basin helmet with goggles.

Matt on His 1971 BSA Thunderbolt

The whole family comes by it honestly. Here’s a picture of Kate, Bob, and Matt after Bob won the AHRMA grand national championship of the sportsman 750 class in 1987!

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Still Life With Dashing Uncle

Ice Cream Sundae, Sundae, SUNDAE!!!

Every Lose It or Lose It user (here’s my profile; I’ve lost 26 pounds while on a LIOLI plan so far!) gets a daily reminder: “STEP AWAY FROM THE CHEESEBURGER!” we exhort our users. “DON’T CONCENTRATE ON THAT TWENTY POUNDS, just concentrate on the two pounds you need to lose for your next weigh-in!”

Users can get their reminders either through email or SMS. At least, they could until we discovered that Clickatell, had been accepting our SMS messages for delivery BUT NOT SENDING THEM since February 25th!

Without the SMS reminders, our users were in imminent danger of re-lard-i-fication! What might they do if Randy was not constantly nagging them to make good choices?

Randy heard about Twilio, a cloud-telephony service that lets your website actually call your users on the telephone and play MP3 files to them (that’s to start with; there’s a whole bunch of XML stuff you can do, too.)  What we needed was an option to replace SMS — and fast!

So during lunch we ran around the corner to the local AM radio station (WCHE 1520 in West Chester, PA), and asked them to let us record some voice reminders to send as outbound telephone calls through Twilio.  John (on the left) and Randy (on the right) are recording one of the message that YOU will hear on your phone when you sign up for a 10-, 20-, or 30-pound Lose It or Lose It plan!

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Here’s the message we were recording in the picture above. A LIOLI user has the option to get THIS, or one of a bunch of other random messages, as a call on their phone each day:

MAN, did we have a good time doing this. Especially with JT, the morning-host DJ and studio technician, to clean up our goofy recording and make us sound like we actually know what we are doing. Thanks, JT! We’ll be back to record more reminders! And thanks, Twilio, for making it so easy to solve our SMS emergency!

Voice reminders will appear as an option in LIOLI users’ preferences starting this weekend — as soon as Randy stops raging long enough to be able to see his monitor again!

Ice Cream Sundae, Sundae, SUNDAE!!!