Thursday, November 16, 2017

Tom v Old Lady - NaBloPoMo Day 16

The facts are, it's pretty impossible to win the lottery to get into the NYC Marathon if you live in NYC. Or anywhere else that is not exotic, at least in the eyes of race officials.

The workaround is to do a "9+1." Meaning if you join the New York Road Runners club and, within one calendar year, run nine of their races and volunteer at one more, you auto-qualify for the marathon the following year.

Tom decided he wants to run the marathon next year, so he signed on for the 9+1 plan.

Last Saturday was Tom's "+1". He volunteered to help out at a pretty massive 5k in the park. This 5k is kind of a tradition. It happens the day before the marathon, so finishers cross the same finish line as the marathoners and run through the stands and all the hoopla set up for the marathon. Except they only have to run 5k instead of 26 miles so by all accounts this is a very clever maneuver.

Tom got down to the race area at some ungodly hour. They gave him a fluorescent green reflective vest and a hat. Turns out, most of the volunteers did not get a vest. They just got the hat. So Tom was a very special volunteer. At least by all appearances. Someone told him to stand by the finish and make sure the area stayed clear of spectators, etc.

Then the cops came by and closed the barricades around the finish line. Tom was now barricaded onto the race course. Which made him look even more special and official. A security guard asked him a question about what should go where. Tom shrugged and answered the question. More people started asking questions. Tom answered the questions. Tom starts feeling the power of his vest.

At the very end of the race, an old lady moseys up with her walker and says she wants to cross the race course. Right at the finish line. Tom hooks his thumbs in his vest and says she has two options. She can wait until the ambulance goes by, meaning the race is over because the ambulance is behind all the runners. Or, she can go around the back of the finish line and cross that way, which wouldn't be far out of the old lady's way. He also points to the ambulance. It's coming around the corner and would be by in five minutes, tops.

The old lady is pissed. She always crosses the park right here, she does not want to go around and she wants to cross immediately.

Tom says it isn't safe to cross immediately, but if she waits four minutes....

The old lady gives Tom the what for. She is ten shades of not happy. She tells him where he can stick his safety concerns. She tells him she always walks out into the middle of traffic.

By that time the ambulance goes by. Tom strips off his fluorescent green reflective vest and it's Tom. Out.

He has no idea what the old lady did, but he thinks she went out on the race course and wobbled across the finish line. He says he suspects that was her sneaky plan all along.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Poop on the Sidewalk - Hours of Fun -Poo NaBloPoMo Day 15

Photo of poop I texted out to the family

I knew exactly what would happen as soon as I took this photo. Poop is subject matter certain people find mesmerizing. Everyone in my family, you see, fancies themselves an amateur scatologist.

Moments after I hit send, my sister-in-law is on the scene: "Fox or a large cat."
Pop steps up: "3:1 - Fox, Raccoon."
Mom elbows in: "It’s not pointy enough to be fox poop."

Dad, with the rebuttal: "But it’s divided and rounded. Could easily be fox poop."
Mom comes back: "Coyote poop is a pretty good size."

PS: In case you didn't know, the scatologists have a theme song. Here's my pop with a rendition:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Godspeed, sticky fingers - NaBloPoMo Day 14

photo credit:

Someone ripped off our credit card and had a fun day in Manhattan.

First, they picked up a terrific new pair of expensive sneakers. No sense slumming around in crappy treads when you have big plans the afternoon.

After that, it was off to Shake Shack for lunch. While enjoying a $50 mound of burgers and fries, it apparently seemed like a great idea to book an AirBnB out of town and hook the fambo up with some Amtrak tickets.

Godspeed, sticky fingers.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The time i was (briefly) ahead of Shalane Flanagan - NaBloPoMo Day 13

I was running on the Hudson River path. Turning in respectable sub-10s, jamming with my tunes, feeling pretty good. It was 2012,  right after they canceled the New York Marathon in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Suddenly, I felt a whoosh. Two ladies blew past my ass like I was standing still. And not only that, they were chatting, in normal voices, while they did so. I know one of them was Kara Goucher and I think the other one was Shalane Flanagan. I guess the two were out for a little jog. They had some time on their hands, being in town with no marathon and all.


My only point is that I ahead of Shalane Flanagan.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Thor in FiDi with Stacie and Andy - NaBloPoMo Day 12

On Friday, the temperature plummeted. And the movie theater was the whole way down by Battery Park, almost on the water. Meaning one cold-ass trek overland after we got out of the subway. During the frigid journey, I overcame potential frostbite with mittens, a scarf, my winter jacket and NSFW language.

Despite arctic conditions, it was pretty cool
to walk by One World Trade all lit up

I didn't bother to ask why Stacie and Andy wanted to see Thor all the way down in the hinterlands of Manhattan. It's not exactly like that sassy savage Chris Hemsworth cannot be found on the big screen in midtown.  I figured Stacie and Andy had a reason.

And sure enough, it was a good reason.

You should have seen these theater seats. Totally plush. They had buttons for varied reclining and a lot of square footage. Plus a tray with a cup holder. If this place ever needs a new business model, they could rent out for naps.

Plus the lobby of this joint looked like this:

Very fancy lobby in the theater which is
actually somehow connected to the Conrad Hotel.

I walked out feeling all first-world first-class, but then my reverie crumbled because I remembered the outdoor thermometer problem. It was not at all fancy to dash around a darkened frozen FiDi tundra. But, Andy with the save.

He knows how to get the whole way from the West Side Highway all the way to the subway stop indoors. I didn't even put my coat on it was so pleasant. We went through the Brookfield Mall and the Wintergarden and then into this passageway into the future:

....which put us into the Oculus, a powerful selfie-magnet, even at midnight. After a brief stop by a weird tubby looking contraption hawking some kind of glasses-related product I did not understand because clearly I'm not the right target market generation, we continued our journey.


In no time, we made it into the new Fulton Street Subway station. It would have been better if we'd all worn our sleekest white neoprene space outfits.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

My Listeria Summer, courtesy of Amrita Health Foods - NaBloPoMo Day 11

Apple, Cinnamon and Listeria Bar
from Amrita
Erin suggested I actually accomplish something useful with this NaBloPoMo timesuck. She pointed out that I could write a blog post documenting my queasy summer as a public service announcement:

For like two solid months, I had this flu that wouldn't quit. It was a real bitch of a flu featuring electrifyingly terrible headaches, dizziness, nausea, and super stiff muscles.

The worst part was, just when I'd start to shake it, there'd be a relapse. Over and over again.  Finally I went to the doctor. He said I did not have the flu. He said it looked to him like a food-borne illness. He scribbled me a prescription for antibiotics.

Maybe a week later, I get this email from Amazon:

Greetings from
We have learned of a potential safety issue that may impact product(s) you purchased through
HIGH PROTEIN Variety Pack - Pack of 12 bars by Amrita

I click through on the link:

Amrita Health Foods Voluntarily Recalls Protein Bars For Possible Health Risk

Amrita Health Foods is recalling … Amrita Bars because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections ... Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

No confirmed illnesses have been reported to public health authorities to date.

Seriously? I'd been eating these damn infected bars all summer, which is why I endlessly felt like shit. I kept re-poisoning myself every single time I got the munchies for a convenient protein snack.

Things about this whole listeria episode that really rubbed my bacteria-soaked brain cells the wrong way

  1. The email advisory came from Amazon (god bless 'em), not Amrita. And it came five days after Amrita notified the FDA of the problem. In that five days, I ate at least one Amrita bar, needlessly endangering my health.

    If I had not purchased these bars from Amazon, I might still be sick as a dog. But it would merely be a twelve-pack of "only" short-term side effects, clearly nothing much to worry about except if you're some kind of whiner who thinks high fevers, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea are a bit of a concern.

    (Fifty big points for Amazon in this whole transaction.)

  2. I get emails all the blessed time from Amazon vendors desperately begging me to rate and review their products or offering tips or trying to get me to sign up for some mailing list or another.

    Random little purveyors of essential oils, shoe inserts and super balls can manage to figure out how to use their Amazon dashboard to communicate with their customers but Amrita doesn't bother when their products are contaminated with Listeria?

  3. The last line in the FDA notice -- "No confirmed illnesses have been reported" --  really got me. So I set about to file a report. First, I called the Amrita phone number listed on the notice. No answer after multiple attempts.

  4. So then I went on the Amrita website and filled out their "contact us" form, explaining that I had a 'confirmed illness' complete with a doctor's note and everything.

    No reply. Seriously. No. Reply.


    This Amrita company didn't even bother to send an email with a so-super-sorry grovel and a coupon or some kind of pluck-your-heartstrings attempt to get me to not write blog posts like this one.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Counting Problems - NaBloPoMo Day 10

We walk into the restaurant-- Kristina, Alex, Petrina and me. Probably, it's at least 10pm.

The hostess asks, "How many?"
I reply, "Three."

We get to the table and the hostess has three menus.

Four of us sit down.

The hostess looks confused. Like maybe our party picked up a stray on the way across the dining room. She says, "I thought there were three of you?"

I say, "Oh right. I took a visual headcount and so I forgot to count myself."

The hostess has the grace not to roll her eyes. She goes and gets another menu.