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Tuesday, May 31, 2005


No Carbs Today

I am entering the carb-depletion / carb-loading phase of training for the Goat Milk Marathon this Saturday. Today, I am to eat as few carbs as possible. That means a lot of cottage cheese, cheese, eggs, sausage, and bacon.

Then tomorrow, I begin loading carbs. The trick is to eat mostly carbs, not increase the amount of food eaten resulting in weight gain. For events that span more than 90 minutes, this method of fueling the body works well.

I only have two more runs left before the Marathon. Today, in the rain, I have a four miler, then three miles tomorrow.

Check my running log in the sidebar, I have run a total time of 4 days this year now, logging 767 miles. I am on pace for 1800 miles and a total time of about 9 days. I like statistics as do most runners. When I run, I am calculating my pace and other things in my head as I go. It keeps me occupied.

I must go, the rain doesn't seem to be letting up, so I guess I am getting wet this morning.

Have a happy last day of May

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, May 30, 2005


I'm Getting Along Swimmingly

Bear sitting in the truck

Hi everyone. I wanted to update ya'll about how I am adjusting to my new family. Today, Dad took me to the boat launch on 4th street. This was my first time and I was delighted. The ramps made it easy to run into the river and bring back the plastic chicken leg Dad was throwing.

Dad took some pictures of our trip. If you want to see them click this link with your paw finger:
Photos of Bear at the Boat Launch

After playing in the river, I got a good bath, then I took a long nap. I was really tired. Later in the evening, I got to eat some steak.

I really think I am going to like it here.

Until the next time


Saturday, May 28, 2005


Happy Birthday Mom

Esther's PhotoTake a moment and wish my mom a Happy 73rd Birthday. I was lucky when God was choosing mothers. Mine is funny, smart, and loving. She has always been there for me and supported me. With her steady hand, work ethic, and values, I had a wonderful example to follow into adulthood. Having said all that, she can have more fun than any two year old. Happy Birthday Mom!

Mom's Blog: Essentially Esther

Now, here are some photos of my mother:

Mom as little girl
Mom as a little girl

Young girl and age 13
Young girl and age 13

Mom age 36 in 1968
1968 she is 36

Mardi Gras in the early 90's
Celebrating Mardi Gras in the early 1990's

Retirement. They hated to see her go.

Boston 2005
April 2005 at the Boston Marathon

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, May 26, 2005


Summertime and the Living is Easy

One thing about kids is they provide opportunities to harken back to simpler times. I have been harkening back, but I think my son is having more fun than I ever did.

Just the other day for instance, he and Roy, his college roommate and long time friend, went fishing.

John with a catfish

The boys caught some fish. Here is John with a catfish.

Roy with the catch of the day

Roy holding up his 22" bass: the catch of the day.

Water snake

For a little excitement, a water snake swam by.

These two could be Tom and Huck. Enjoy it boys, a complicated demanding life awaits. Make it wait as long as you can.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, May 25, 2005


End of Season

Thank God they're over. I have been enslaved on Monday nights to watch 24, Tuesday nights to watch House, Thursday nights to watch the Apprentice, and Sunday nights to watch the Contender. Now that they are over, I have 4 extra hours a week to do whatever I want. Maybe I can catch up on the blogs I need to read and even leave comments.

I have really come to appreciate Tivo. I record the shows I like and watch them when I am ready to see them. This is great, because Barbara and I can come home, change, go to the gym, come home, fix supper, and then watch TV. We don't miss a thing.

With the new dog, birds and squirrels, and yard work, that 4 hours will come in mighty handy.

How about you, were you hooked on any TV show(s) this year?

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, May 23, 2005


Goat Milk and Slot Machines

Do I have your curiosity piqued? Choosing a title for my post is one of my favorite things about posting, but I don't always work real hard on it.

This weekend, Barbara and I went to Vicksburg. The Goat Milk Marathon is 30 minutes away from there at a little town in Mississippi called Utica. Barbara is from Vicksburg and her dad and sister still live there.

We stayed at the Rainbow Casino Hotel. Barb's dad and significant other, Miss Kay, frequent that establishment so much, they get all kinds of comps, including cheap hotel rooms. We are the recipients of their casino patronage.

We drove up on Saturday and met Barb's folks at Utica to drive the Goat Milk course. I was a bit intimidated as we drove, because there was one big mountain hill after another. The Boston Marathon course wore me down with what seemed like much smaller hills. Ulp. I knew I was in for a hard run in the morning. 20 miles on this course would be a good test for the real thing in two weeks.

After driving the course, we checked in at the hotel, and then met Barb's folks in the casino for a little slot machine action. Barbara was staked $10 by her dad at a penny machine. She lost it quickly, and being a good father, he threw more good money after bad. She lost another $10. Being a good father-in-law, he hooked me up with a $10, but the results were dramatically different. I parlayed that fen into $76, but lost down to $66 before cashing out. I redeemed Barbara and made a few bucks ($36) to the good. I think I am going to quit my job and be a full-time gambler; that is some easy money.

Sunday morning was beautiful. The temperature was headed to the low 90's, but it started out at 62. We got to the course by 7:00 am and I felt very good at the start. I ran slow knowing I had 20 miles to traverse. This is my last long run before the marathon. It is important this run be a good experiences or my mind will have to wrestles with doubt leading up to marathon day.

The scenery was beautiful. We were in the middle of nowhere. The whole time I ran we only saw three cars. On the other hand, we saw deer, a coyote, squirrels, birds, horses, cows, and of course, a few goats. One spot on the course was like running in a tunnel of trees. The road sloped down like a black ribbon into a dark green cave. The beauty and serenity of the course took my mind off of the hills. I began slow, 8:15 to 8:30 per mile, but picked up the pace. Many of the miles were run at 7:47. I felt so good, I ran an extra mile and ran it in 7:33. Two hills were long and hard. My tongue was dragging on those, but I recovered quickly. In the end, I ran 21 miles in 2:49:23. I know I could have run the whole marathon that day. So I am full of confidence and looking forward to the race June 4.

I suppose it is time to start a new week. Here's hoping yours is a good one.

Until the next time
John Strain


Saturday, May 21, 2005


Out of the Mouth of Pups

Hi blogfolks, my name is Bear. I wanted to introduce myself to my master's friends. He is reading the sports page in another room right now, but he said when he was through, we would go for a walk. I don't know why he goes into that small room to read. The funny thing is, he pulls his pants down too. It is strange, but I never understand Master's completely.

Bear settles in to a new home

As you can see, I am settling in just fine. I think I am going to like it here. So far, I have gotten lots of attention. They pet me, feed me, and play with me. They have been impressed with all I know, especially when I was able to help LJ with his algebra homework.

Bear visits Hobo Garden

They told me all about their last pet Hobo. Here I am posing in front of the garden they built for him. I can tell they loved him a lot, so I know they will love me too.

Well, I think I hear my master coming. It sounds like swirling water and something smells dead. I am going on my walk now.

Have a nice weekend blogfolks.

Until the next time


Friday, May 20, 2005


Working Like a Dog because of One

This week has been outside of my usual routine and I am looking forward to creating a new rut. Routine = comfort for me. A routine means a lot less thinking and decision-making. The dog is settling in well. It helps he is so well trained.

The plan is going to have Bear inside in the evening and overnight, but out in his kennel during the day until we can trust him in the house alone. Right now he is laying behind me. He is my shadow; everywhere I go he goes. He marked his territory twice in the house. Other than that, no problems. Last night when we went to bed, he jumped up on the bed a couple of times. He did not want to be on the floor alone I guess.

Two weeks from Saturday is the Goat Milk Marathon. This little challenge is going to be tough. This weekend, we are going to Vicksburg and I will run 20 miles on the Goat Milk course. I hear the hills are frequent and steep.

Have you ever stepped on a rock and bruised your heel? Man that hurts. I was going out to get the paper this morning and stepped on a sharp rock. That sucker still hurts.

It is already Friday, yippppeeeee. Have a nice weekend everyone.

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, May 19, 2005


Bear Comes Home

The face of BearI am tired and it is getting late so about all I am going to do for this post is put up a few photos of the pooch.

Here are links to some more Bear photos:

Sitting pretty

Dog Condo

Throw it, throw it!

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Dog Tired

It is 1:45 AM and I just finished assembling a dog kennel for Bear. I'm pooped. Tomorrow's 5:00 AM alarm will come early and then a 9 mile run. We are ready for the new dog. John and I will go get him today at 11:00 AM. We loved him right off and he is smart. If you say heel, he runs to your left side and sits. The next thing you do is throw a tennis ball, but Bear does not move until he gets the signal. He brings the ball back and when you say release, he puts it in your hand.

We watched him dive in the swimming pool and retrieve the ball and was treated to an all around good show.

I've got to go to bed, but I will keep you posted on our new family member.

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, May 17, 2005


It's a Sign

In 1991 when we moved into this house, we wanted a dog. In an effort to spare a pup from dog jail, we went to the local Humane Society and picked out a nice Cocker Spaniel mix puppy. I named him Joe. Get it, Joe Cocker. Anyway, John was 6 years old and all excited. We could not have the dog for a few days, because he had to get fixed and lord knows what else. The day before we were to pick up Joe, I received a call from the Humane Society informing me that Joe had died of distemper or something. All of the pups in his cage met the same fate.

A good thing about pets is, children learn the meaning of death. I just did not think John would have to learn the lesson so quickly. Well a short time later, we saw a sign at a vet's office about a free black puppy to a good home. We went inside and met Hobo the dog we would have for the next 13 years.

Now, present day, we were getting used to being dogless when the vet called us about another pup. He was a nice lab mix, 9 months old, and very sweet. We mulled the decision over and over. Some of you have given your two cents worth. Yesterday, I grew the balls to call Dr. Maher and tell him we wanted to see the little pup.

Dr. Maher got on the phone and said, I have this great dog for you. He is a full breed black lab and 2 years old. He has papers, good stock, good genes, and he is trained. The owners divorced and for some reason need to get rid of him.

I asked Dr. Maher, "What about the 9 month old medium sized dog?" The doctor told me he was given away already.

Is this some sort of sign, we settle on one dog, but get the second one? I talked to Barbara about the lab. She is beaten down now and has stopped protesting. Then I called the vet back to say we wanted to see the new dog.

"By the way," I asked, "what is his name?" "Bear," the doctor replied. Now that's what I call a sign. "Bear," was my mom's last husband Warren's nickname.

I called John and Barbara to share the news. They were both doing the Twilight Zone theme in their heads I am sure. Then I told Barbara, "Now try telling my mother we aren't getting the dog." History repeating itself with the dog bait and switch is one thing, but the dog's name as bear constitutes a real sign - or maybe I am just looking for an excuse to get another dog. Naaaaa.

We go meet Bear today at 6:00 PM.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, May 16, 2005


. . . and that's MOW money

I think the gods didn't want me to cut my grass this weekend. Saturday, I did not have to run, so I laid around some, drank coffee, and farted around on the computer. About the time I was going out to cut the grass, the clouds opened up and it rained like a cow pissing on a flat rock.

My new lawn mowerThen today, I had to run 18 miles. After that little chore, I went out to mow and I couldn't get the lawn mower started. I have had good luck with Lawn Boys until this mower. This mower is only about 3 years old and the deck is falling apart. I have had to make parts to keep it in service. I did some troubleshooting and discovered there was no spark. Now days, mowers don't have points and a condenser, they have some kind of circuit board. I was tired of dicking around with this piece of crap, so Barbara drove me to Lowes and I bought a brand new Troy Bilt.

Now the yard is freshly cut and all is well. With a whole cutting season ahead of me, I did not want to have to nurse the old mower along. I want to start it up and get busy cutting grass. The old mower is on the curb. I am laying 10 to 1 odds it is gone before the trash man comes Tuesday morning.

Nothing like a new lawn mower to give the testosterone level a kick in the butt.

Until the next time
John Strain


Saturday, May 14, 2005


Head and Heart

Ellen left a comment about our dog decision that pinpoints the heart of the dilemma. If we look for logical and practical reasons to get a dog we would probably say "no." Then if we allow our heart to make the decision, we would probably say "yes." Right now, our thoughts rule because we have not laid eyes on the furry critter. Once that happens, we are pretty certain our heart decision will overwhelm any carefully constructed logical argument.

On the thinking side, we know of the responsibility required to care for a dog. It costs money, it takes a toll on the house, and it requires extra planning when you are away. Regarding the heart, a puppy brings love, laughter, and companionship.

The decision really is: Do we go look at the dog in the first place? I know that to look is to accept.

Barbara is not the heavy, only the strongest proponent of the thinking side of the equation. I share her concerns, but feel if I can convince her it would make it easier for me to throw caution to the wind and get the dog.

Monday will be the decision, I suppose, so stay tuned.

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, May 12, 2005


Seeing a Man about a Dog

When we came home from work tonight, Barbara checked the phone messages. One message was from Cathy at the vet's office. "Mr. Strain, this is Cathy with Dr Maher's office. We want to talk to you about a dog." That was the extent of the message.

Barbara and I are getting used to no dog. It has its advantages. No hurrying home to let a dog out so he can uncross his legs, no messes on the floor, and no money spent on dog food, flea medicine, and shots.

On the other hand, you don't have a dog to love a pet. It has only been two months since Hobo died. I think it is too soon, but when someone calls out of the blue, I wonder if it is fate. Hmmmmmm. I know if I go look at the frigging dog, I will like it and want it, but if I don't check it out I am not giving fate a chance. Hmmmmmm.

Maybe I will give Cathy a call tomorrow and see what's up.

Stay tuned.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, May 11, 2005


My Town is Going Ape

Watch this news video about the Tulane Primate Center in Covington, Louisiana, where 53 monkeys recently escaped.

When the window opens, click the "play" button on the media player

Monkeys Escape From Research Center On Northshore

POSTED: 5:04 pm CDT May 10, 2005

NEW ORLEANS -- More than 50 monkeys escaped Tuesday from a research center on the Northshore.

All but five have been captured.

The animals, pigtail macaques, were being used for breeding at Tulane University's Primate Research Center at the southern edge of Covington.

A spokesman said the escape happened after a caretaker failed to properly secure a cage.

The spokesman said the animals are not dangerous and do not carry any disease, however, he urged people not to approach them.

Anyone who sees one of the macaques is asked to call the center at (985) 871-6512.
Lucky for the Primate Center I had a little time I could donate to the task of locating their monkeys. A couple of them work at my hospital. I think I found several others in our city and parish government offices. Another one was caught programming the traffic lights on Highway 190. At least that would explain the light synching.

I am afraid some other monkeys got on planes, trains, and automobiles and fanned out across the country. You may see them in your town soon. Maybe you already have seen one of them. If so, let me know, so I can tell the authorities at Tulane.

The funny thing is, the monkeys were used for breeding purposes. Why would they run?

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Mother's Day Extended

Kenyan baby rescued by dog
On Monday I heard about a dog in Kenya that rescued a baby it found in the forest. According to the story, the baby was 2 days old and abandoned. The dog found the baby and carried it across a busy street and through a barbed wire fence. Some children, hearing a baby's cry found the little girl being guarded by the dog along with her puppy. The little girl was taken to the hospital where her infected umbilical chord was treated. She is doing fine now, if being an orphan is doing fine.

Check out the story here

I want to believe this story. It is perfect. A simple dog does the noble thing the child's parents would not do. Sure, sure, all dogs are not noble. Pit bulls have eaten more children than other dogs have nurtured, but what a story for Mother's Day.
Mother dog that rescued baby

While animals are still in the wild so to speak, they are still in touch with what they are. Their instinct guides them. People, on the other hand, have constructed an artificial reality for themselves. We do not fall victim to the weather, night, or seasons. We have oranges in winter, ice on hot days, light in darkness, and nearly anything we want.

As a result, our values become more complicated. We begin to value that which is easy. The parents of this baby must have felt raising a child to be difficult. Maybe a baby did not fit into their plans.

Thank goodness when people act this way, the animal kingdom comes to the rescue. This little Kenyan girl was rescued by a dog with a strong mother instinct.

Who knows, maybe this little girl will grow up to run in the tradition of her countrymen. Maybe someday her chest will break the tape on Boylston Street in some future Boston Marathon. If she does, it won't be any thanks to some cold-hearted parents, but because of a simple dog doing what mother dogs do.

What the heck, Happy Mother's Day again

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, May 09, 2005


A Word to the Wise: Backup

I have been using computers since 1985. I have lost my share of data. One of the hardest things is having some tech guy say to you, "You didn't have a backup?" Not having a backup of your stuff is like driving without car insurance. You may save some money, but if you get into an accident, you are on the non-stop hassle train to hell.

Think about all of the stuff on your computer. In my case, I have more than 6K songs and 5K photos. If I had a crash and no backup, I would be sick. The music can be replaced, but it would take a lot of time and money to replace it. The photos cannot be replaced. Without a backup of my photos, a crash would be like my house burning down.

Here is what I do. In the past, I have kept extra copies of my music and pictures folders on other hard drives on my computer. More recently, I purchased a 250 GB external firewire hard drive. Now my data exsts on my computer and another device unplugged from the computer. To be really safe, I should have the data on some form of media off site. I am working on that.

They say a word to the wise is sufficient. Please backup your data so when your computer fails you, and it will, you can pull out your trusty backup and turn a disaster into a minor inconvenience.

Don't just take my word for it. Click here to listen to Steven Thrasher's paniced phone call to Canon technical support about his laptop. This is hilarious.

Don't forget to backup your blog and your blog template. In the new Mac OS X Tiger, the web browser Safari has a web archive feature. It saves a page complete with the jpegs. I copied my entire blog in about 10 minutes. There are several ways to skin a cat though and everyone's situation and options are different. Just do it.

Now get to work, it’s Monday

Until the next time
John Strain


Sunday, May 08, 2005


Here's to the Mom's

Mother wolf and pupHappy Mother's Day to all of you Mothers out there. I was blessed with a good mother. Not only did she give me a good start, she has been with me my entire life, encouraging me and providing support.

I told Barbara that for mother's day, she could cook anything she wanted. I would eat whatever. I thought she would be happy getting to pick what she cooked for a change. Hehehehehehe. Just a joke folks. We are going out to dinner today. I hope you are too.

Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, May 06, 2005


Powerful Moments

Life is punctuated with powerful moments. Some of the powerful moments in my life were:
Nature, seeing mountains for the first time and the ocean.
Hearing my son's first cry
Looking into Barbara's eyes on our wedding day
A doctor telling us our newborn son may die
Getting my first job and eventually a paycheck
My first kiss and I will stop there
When the Chiefs won the Super Bowl
When the Royals won the World Series
When I crossed the finish line in Boston
When the words, "I love you" were whispered in the dark
There have been many powerful moments in my life and if you think for a while, you could compile your own list of powerful moments.

These times have shaped us for better or worse. Not all of the powerful moments were good; some were painful and hard to bear.

We live for these moments. We work long and hard to create them. Sometimes they are more than we imagined and other times they fall short of our expectations.

We collect trinkets to remember these moments in the form of rings, diplomas, and medals. I am surrounded by these momentos as I sit here. I have several marathon medals hanging on a hook. Photos remind me of good times past.

Looking over my shoulder at these things is good if done in small doses. I smile and remember the joy of the challenge met or the obstacle overcome. The true prize is in my memory and my heart, but even these fade into obscurity. A life that stops collecting powerful moments is forced to mull the same ones over and over. The result is the old timer talking about the glory days.

The power is not in the trophy or the diploma. The power is in the "moment." There is no time better than that moment. Addictionologists tell us that the addict's best joy is right before he/she uses their substance of choice. The joy is in the anticipation. Reality rarely matches our mental image of that reality.

Think about the weekend, isn't Friday after work the best part? It is all ahead of us, and then the weekend unfolds without fanfare, pomp, or circumstance. What we felt on Friday was the best part; it was the anticipation.

What is the point? I am glad you asked the question. Powerful moments are what we live for. We talk about the past ones and long for future ones. Some happen on their own, but most require a few things from us. First, we must be able to dream. If you can imagine it, you can make it happen. Then we must work to make it happen. It will take time and it will be difficult, challenging, and costly. If it were not all of these things, the result would not be a powerful moment.

The active person will experience more of these times than the passive person. We must prime the pump, so to speak, with measured, steadfast, and consistent effort.

As long as you are living, why not live in such a way to create powerful moments?

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, May 05, 2005


Birds and Squirrels

Last weekend I borrowed a camera from a friend of mine to take some pictures of all the wildlife in our yard. The weather was bad Saturday and when I did take photos, the lighting was not the best. Still, after three rolls of film, I got a few keeper photos.

Here is a sample:
Squirrel eating corn

You can see the rest of the photos, by following this link:

More Bird and Squirrel Photos

The squirrels need to go running with me in the morning to address their mounting weight problem. They are nearing a size that may compromise their safety. As it is now, they have to help each other climb trees by giving a "leg up."

I need to assuage my guilt about not reading and commenting on my blog roll folks. It seems to happen every so often. I suppose it is a facet of blogging. I will be back in the swing of things before long. For the time being, I have been having a hard time getting a post out each day - but I am not complaining.

It is my bedtime.

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Time to Upgrade

I have had my Power Mac G4 733 since September 2001. What with software and operating system updates, it has been getting long in the tooth. Thankfully, one can purchase processor upgrades. Today, arriving from Other World Computing in Illinois, will be the new processor 1.4 complete with preinstalled fan and heat sink. It is supposed to be plug and play so we will see about that. To help the new processor which is twice as fast as the one I am now running, I have added to my RAM. I am moving up from 640 mb to 1GB. Then to top things off, I am upgrading the video card. Muahahahahaha.

Last night, I installed the new Mac OS 10.4 code named Tiger. Grrrrroowwlllll. It has some great new features. Some of you XP folks should check it out and see what you are missing. Get out of the 80's. Anyway, I also got the new iLife package which made improvements to iPhoto with photo editing built-in. ILife is 5 applications in one: iTunes, Garage Band, iPhoto, iMovie HD, and iDvd. Good stuff. One good thing about Macs is they keep making improvements in the hardware and software. My bank account can attest to this fact. I rationalize it by reminding myself it is cheaper than a crack habit.

I can't wait to see how fast things will work. My video rendering will certainly be helped and burning DVD's will take less time. I love to get under the hood of things and tinker. This evening will be fun. That is if the Wells Fargo Wagon comes in on time.

I wish I could order a new left hamstring and upgrade my leg.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, May 02, 2005


This and That

Welcome to May folks. The year is 1/3 gone. Soon school will be out and we will all be laying on a beach soaking up rays and listening to Beach Boys tunes. Or maybe we'll still be working like we are now.

ButtonsWe are dog sitting this week for our friends Brian and Faye. I am not used to little dogs. Buttons is getting up in age. He is blind in one eye and he has allergies that cause him to scratch a lot. It is strange to be able to pick him up or have him sitting next to you on the couch. Hobo was a big dog and the couch was not big enough for him.

Rubbed raw
I have a slight hamstring pull. I can still run, but I have to shorten my stride. I can't keep my left hamstring healthy. Anyway, because of the shorter stride I developed this rubbed spot on my upper left inside thigh. Ouch. I ran 13.1 miles today and the bottom of my running shorts caused the rub. It is amazing how the skin wears out with just a little friction. I used to have this problem with my nipples, but I started using band aids and the problem is resolved.

Boudreaux's Butt Paste
It is a good thing I found Boudreaux's Butt Paste. This was invented for diaper rash, but it has more uses. I use it on any skin irritation and it works great. Only one application of the magic butt paste will all but heal me by tomorrow morning.

Nikon with zoom, a borrowed toy
I like toys and gadgets. My friend Susan loaned me this Nikon camera with a 300 mm zoom lens and a 2x multiplier that makes the lens a 600 mm zoom. Size matters when it comes to zoom lenses. I shot a few rolls of film of my birds and squirrels. I'll post some pics if they turned out. I haven't used a film camera in a long time.

Well, happy Monday everyone. Enjoy the day.

Until the next time
John Strain