Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween needs Smarter Zombies

Kinda like this but less cute
Autumn is my favorite season and Halloween hands down is my favorite all time holiday.  As a kid I loved trick-or-treating and going to cheesy haunted houses.  as an adult, extended my enjoyment of the holiday because it was the one time of the year I actually did exceedingly well with the ladies at Halloween parties.  It's amazing what a disguise can do for you.

What use to be a holiday of witches, ghosts and vampires has become one of zombies.  So I'm calling it here:  The next big monster revamp in popular fiction will be the Zombie. 

"The zombies of 2012 seem no more advanced or complicated than the zombie of the late 1960s. Human dies, human transforms into zombie, zombie starts growling and snarling while shuffling along in search of human flesh on which to feed"  -- Richard Roeper.

Only it will be an intelligent Zombie. Remember, before the mutant zombies of the George A Romero era took over, the original Zombie was a dead person who was brought back to life through Voodoo.

"Think of the vampire, who started off as a bloodsucking night creature who roamed castles deep into the night, wearing his couture outfits and speaking in a formal tone as he searched for a neck to bite. That guy was kind of a stiff.

"But today’s vampire glistens in the sun, romances humans and even has his own government and society and sets of rules. Some of them are more sociable and accessible than many a human neighbor." -- Richard Roeper.

This concept will be the vessel for intelligent zombies. Instead of zombies who stumble around and utter no words other than arg and erg, the New Zombies will have memories and heightened emotions.  I wonder if it's possible to patent this idea?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Detroit Marathon: Dark Knight Rises

So it should be no surprise to anyone who knows me that I decided to run the full marathon instead of just the half after all. By my estimate, I completed about 85% of the training, which is about what I did my first couple of marathons over a decade ago, i figured I might as well get another marathon on my running bio after all. I seriously considered calling it at mile 12 but realized I'd have to wait another hour for Nightingale to finish her half and I'd only beat myself up second, third and 4th guessing my decision.

The bib# seemed like an omen that I would run the full marathon
 I actually ran as far as the 13 mile marker and then turned off my Garmin and started to walk back to the finish, thinking I would call it a day. But then I realized I had not one but two hours to work with and thought a slightly over 4 hour finish time was within reach. So I started again.

Essentially I covered 7 miles in the first hour, 6 miles in the second a little more than 5 in the third and then another 5 in the fourth.  It took the last 35 minutes to cover the remaining 3.2.  That includes stops to try and stretch my tight muscles.

I'm pleased to report that my knees, while a little tweaky at times, held out magnificently. During the last two weeks before the trip, I rested my knees by tapering much more than the standard marathon training program calls for.  While this saved my knees, it cost me endurance. 

It was my calf muscles and lack of endurance that got to me kinda like many of the other 21 marathons I've run. While I would have preferred a time closer to four hours, I can live with my 4:35 time.  This probably isn't my last marathon.  It probably is my last for a year or two. 

The course is rather pleasant, the trip through Canada is fun and Belle Island is amazing. Downtown Detroit has a lot of cool architecture, although sadly the inner city is a shell of its former self. Still, a very enjoyable course nonetheless.

When we were walking to the starting line, we passed the buses for the relay runners. It reminded me of New York Marathon because they bus you out at 4 or 5 in the morning since it's a point to point marathon.

I tried to stay with Nightingale's friend Ann, but she was having none of it.  She dropped back and was going too slow for me to keep up with, so I continued at a more comfortable 8:30- 9 mm pace.  On the Ambassador bridge to Canada, I noticed a loose mat that was probably placed to make the transition a little smoother.  About 20 seconds later we heard a crash and it appears a runner tripped on it, bringing two others down with him.  Don't know if they were half or full marathoners or a combination.  A lady running next to me exclaimed that she was almost part of that mess and was relieved because she was 5 months pregnant. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Post Marathon Depression

If I had run the marathon on Sunday I would probably be feeling down, like many of my running friends right about now.  It happens to virtually even marathoner especially if you have a goal beyond simply finishing the race.  You spend 16-18 weeks training and sacrificing for your sport and you get once chance come race day.  If it's not your day, it's a long time before the next do-over.

Surprisingly, I'm not sad that I didn't run on Sunday.  Any wistful longing for being part of a ritual I followed for more than a decade was eased when I watch several runners struggling just to make it to the finish line, their hopes of a PR or BQ dashed.  Any thoughts I had of still doing the full marathon in Detroit on the 21st are quickly dismissed thanks to my rickety knees.

I will admit I do wish I were one of the many friends who was able to post a new PR on Facebook or have their friends congratulation them in the comments.  I'm a little jealous of all the buzz that seems to be languished upon my friends who have recently discovered running and marathoning. 

In the days before FB, I would send out a post-marathon story to my friends in an email blast, and then later a link to post on one of my old blogs. Running marathons was one of the few successes I had in life and I wanted to share.

Most of my friends humored me or used it as an excuse to check in on how I was doing otherwise and share any news of their life.  Of course I had friends like Fitz who made me feel bad about my running hobby.

A couple months ago, someone posted this link to the Onion article on my Facebook wall. It stung because its true.

When someone asks how are you, most of the time its just to give themselves a second to catch their breath before they tell you how they are doing. 

Many of my friends got married 10 minutes after college graduation and started families. Every year I'd get the photocopies holiday newsletter which sounded pretty much like last year's newsletter. Soccer games, scouts. family vacations. I assumed that if I read through their newsletters someday they'd return the favor. Nope, I can't tell you how many emails I'd get from some friend saying oh I haven't read your newsletter yet.

I guess its hard to find time between children were "sleeping dry" at age three months and that Larry and Barbara got 18 miles to the gallon out of their camper on the way to Former Landfill Lake. I found these photocopied diaries impersonal and boring, and if their poodle was depressed following her hysterectomy, I really didn't care but at least I made the effort to acknowledge it

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Marathons and Technologies

Several of my friends registered for the Chicago Marathon and now for various reasons, cannot participate.  Some are injured, some are undertrained, some have physically relocated. 

The Chicago Marathon's official stance is that you cannot trade or transfer your bib and there is no deferral option.  The dubious reason given is for insurance purposes.  Apparently if something happens to you while you're running under someone else's name, you wouldn't be covered by the insurance policy and I suppose technically the waiver "you" signed wouldn't apply.

It's an unfortunate situation especially since the entry fee is about $150.   Which means people are gonna do it anyway.  The risk of getting caught is low and the desire to recover at least some of your money usually outweighs any moral dilemmas. 

The Powers-That-Be at the Chicago Marathon should really just accept it and come up with a system to transfer or defer your entry.  They could charge a modest fee and impose a limit such as must be done at least 30 days before the marathon and limited to 500 people.  I'm certain the technology exists since the New York Marathon use to let you defer and other races allow you to switch from one event to another. 

However, just like the Cubs will probably never have to worry about attendance, the Chicago Marathon will never have to appease the average runner as long as it keeps attracting the elite world record changers.

You wouldn't go to Podiatrist a when you need a Oncologist. Or Urologist when you really need a Neurosurgeon. Sure they all might have sat in the same anatomy course back in Med School, but their career paths and specialties are vastly different.

Very few in IT look this good
 It's like that in a lot of fields. There are different types of lawyers. Even different types of accountants.

Yet for some reason, people lump everyone in Information Technology under the same umbrella.  They think we are sitting around, holding hands and singing Kumbaya about the servers or something.

Here's the thing.  Some IT people write code.  Some IT people manage databases.  Some people create web sites.  Some IT people fix broken desktops and laptops.

Most start out in a lower level role and work their way up to something more lucrative, important and impressive. 

When I tell people that I work in IT, they immediately start telling me about their computer problems, which can all be diagnosed as you are using a piece of technology you do not fully understand, please find an 8 year old to explain it to you immediately.

My job itself is hard to explain even to other IT people.  Usually I can get away with saying I'm a SME (Subject Matter Expert) or Application Manager.  Basically I'm riding the coattails of the product I supported at the No-Name Software Company.  It has kept me employed through a couple of recessions.  Meanwhile, I also strive to learn new technologies so as not to get pigeon holed into one product that might someday become obsolete, like Lotus Notes.