Friday, December 05, 2014

Review of the Zombies Run! App for Android

I’ve always had a very active imagination; little movie scripts going off in my head while I’m doing, seemingly, mundane things.  Like... well... let’s just say that the world inside my head is a whole lot more interesting than the actual world.

I’m also a runner.  I’ve been running since 2008 in response to my doctor telling me that I had to do something to stave off death after taking a look at my family’s dismal health history and responding with, “They didn’t give you a lot to work with, did they.”  Coincidentally, my boss decided that it would be a great team building experience for all of us to run the Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay.  So, I started running, and have kept it up in various degrees for the last 6 years.

But with winter coming on, I was thinking and reading about ways to stay motivated and running through this winter because my miles always seem to drop when the temperature does, and so I was reading an article on my brand new Galaxy S4, (I know that the S5 is out… it’s a long story that requires the word “Amish” to properly tell) when I read about a running app called Zombies Run! for the iOS.  It was accompanied by this YouTube video.


After watching their film… I had to have this app!  They had to have it for Android right? Well after checking the Play Store, I found it: Zombies Run! 3 for Android.  It's a little spendy for an app, but way less than some of the video games I've purchased for my kids.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I tried it.  "Season 1, Episode 1, Jolly Alpha Five Niner."  It was a Saturday morning, and since I didn’t have an arm band for my phone, I put it in the front pocket of my running jacket.  This goofed up my actual running time shown in the app, but since I still wear my trusty Garmin 405, I was covered as far as stats and splits go.  The story was engaging, placing you (me) in the roll of “Runner 5,” a soldier(?) from a nearby military base on loan to a small settlement known as Abel Township in the midst of the Zombie Apocalypse, and as a member of Abel, you are assigned as one of 20 runners who do everything from rescue missions, supply foraging, or on occasion, you strap sound generators to your back in order to lure zombies (or “zoms” in the game) away from Abel.

But Zombies Run! is more than just a radio play that you listen to while running, it’s a game. It's the ultimate Virtual Reality game that requires no pod, goggles, or special equipment; it literally requires the app, a phone, some ear-buds, & your own imagination.  In order to play, you simply run while the app tells you where you are, what you’re doing, and what character you are playing (always Runner 5, the non-gender specific protagonist in the story).  Similar to games like Super Mario and such, you are able to pick up items by running over them: a tin of food, a box of ammo, cans of fuel, and also the strangely listed Sports Bras, underpants, and Kensaido Manifestos (I currently have 8 of these).  Obviously, these things are rarely physically lying in the street for you to pick up, but the game gives you an audio cue while you run to let you know what you’ve collected.  These items can then be used to build up your “Base” just like you would in “Farmville” or other Facebook type games.  This is a part of the game that I’m not really keen on… but I'm still building a base (I just need a few more things in order to upgrade my housing).

This is a screen shot from someone else's game,
I'm kind of an idiot when it comes to working my own phone
and couldn't figure out how to do a screen shot.

One of the other cool things about the way the app works is that it pulls in your play list from your Android music player, in my case, I told it to use my running play list.  Which, as I found just didn’t suit the situation for me, so I had to rebuild a playlist from scratch using Movie Soundtracks, and such so that I would have my own little zombie soundtrack.  It just didn’t work for me to have Sam, my fictional radio operator, tell me that there is a mob of 30 zoms on my tail just to have “Funky Town” pump into my ears a second later.  You know what I’m saying?

And so, my Zombie playlist tends to have quite a bit of the “Tron Legacy” soundtrack, along with some Imagine Dragons, Oingo Boingo, Metric, and “We Hate You, Please Die” by Crash and the Boys, stuff that makes it easy for me to imagine myself in a movie with my own soundtrack (This is where the game gets really fun for me).  While we're on the subject of playlists, the app does seem to have a problem.  I have 22 songs in my zombie play list right now, but the app seems to want to play only 9 of them... over and over and over again.  Sometimes it plays the same song twice in the same mission.  I'm not sure how to fix it, but I have a feeling that the shuffle setting in Zombies Run! is interfering with the shuffle setting in my Android Player.  More goofing around with my settings may still be required to fix it.

One aspect I really, really like about the app is the “Chases On” setting (or chase mode), that functions much like interval training.  What it does is in the middle of your music from time to time, you’ll hear “Zombies behind you at 100 meters.”  That’s your cue to pick up the pace by 20%.  What I found is that I really have to get moving, almost to my BQ pace of 7:30 per mile.

The first time this went off I was just rounding a park in my neighborhood, and I heard the warning.  So, I picked up my pace.  I figured that I was going fast enough, but then I heard “Warning, Zombies at 74 meters.”  I thought that there was no way they could be gaining, so I stepped it up a bit more.  “Warning, Zombies at 58 meters.”  Wow, I was sprinting at this point, but I poured on a bit more, and was finally able to evade the zombies, but I really had to move to do that.  Now, if they catch you, you don’t die, you just lose everything you have in your inventory.  But still.

The really cool thing about this is that I’ve been trying to cut my pace from the snail like pace of 11:20 to 10:00 and this app is helping me do it.  Last night, with chases on, I finally broke the 11:00 average pace mark for the first time since I was in marathon training almost 2 years ago.

Also a screen shot from someone else who obviously
does not have a playlist because my run logs
list what songs were playing after the voice transmissions.

There are a couple of issues that I hope they fix in future versions.  Firstly, when I first got the app, there were a couple of false starts while I was trying to figure out how to work the thing.  Those false starts registered as runs, and there is no way to delete them from the running log.

The other thing is this.  You can set the missions to go 30 minutes or an hour.  I usually run about 45 to 50 minutes and so I have the missions set for 30 minutes.  When the mission is finished, the app switches over to "Radio Mode" where two disk-jockey types do a kind of morning show broadcast out of Abel Township, while playing songs from your playlist.  I'm not a fan of this part of the app because it tends to take me out of the mood that has been building over the last half hour.  What I think that they should have done was made up a bunch of radio transmissions from other runners and operators so that you still have the feeling of being outside the fence and running for your life.

But really, those are my only complaints.

I guess I better do the legal... This review is my opinion and mine alone.  I was not paid in any way by Six to Start (the creators of the Zombies Run! app.).

Thank You

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Foul Weather Running

In 2013, I was training for the Ogden Marathon.  Since it occurs early in the spring, I was obligated to train all winter long.  I remember my first training run for that race.  It was only 3 miles, but it occurred in a driving snow storm, my shoes crunching in the fresh powdery snow.  I remember looking at my teammates, and thinking, “We’re a bunch of lunatics.” 

The training that season kind of proved that, indeed, we were lunatics.  There were mornings where the thermometer stood at 7 degrees F.  Snow and ice was a constant, and as the winter turned to spring, the hits just kept coming, with the chill wind and rain.  Then, as anyone who ran the Ogden Marathon in 2013 would know, the rain began with the sound of the starting gun, let off a bit toward the middle, just enough for you to get really cold, and then hit you again.

 
So I know running in foul weather.  Heck… I almost have a degree in it.
Late last Saturday morning, Right around noon, actually, when I headed out for my run, there was a bit of wind blowing, but I figured… I’ve had worse. That was, until I hit the street and realized that the wind was howling at 30-something miles per hour, with gusts at 40-something.  What was I thinking?

At one point, into my 3rd mile, I was running a street in my neighborhood that crests at a little over 5000 feet in elevation.  Just beyond the crest of that street is open farm land, thus, not a possibility of a wind break anywhere, and I was running toward that crest, uphill, face full into the wind, and I’m thinking… “This is stupid, this is stupid…” in fact I may have been whispering it on every exhale.  Heck, I could have been screaming, I’m not sure because the wind whistling past my ears was even drowning out the sound of my ear buds.
Now if you ever wonder whether or not there is a God in the universe, I can tell you with assurance that there is, and He has a sense of humor.

Why, you ask?

So, as I’m struggling up this hill, face into the wind, I sent out a prayer.  I did… I promise.  I prayed with every fiber of my being, “Father, why does there have to be gravity and wind?”  And to my surprise, I got an answer from Him,  in a still small voice, above the cacophony in my ears, that said, “Run Harder.”
I can tell you no lies, my friends.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Going to get Political for a Second

Our country is broken.

Members of congress couldn’t agree on the color of the sky if the lives of each and every American depended on it, the President couldn’t make a clear decision on the flavor of his morning yogurt if the polls were leaning away from dairy, and the votes of the people don’t count if they don’t agree with the opinions of some judge with an agenda.
If you are one of these voters who toe the party line and keep sending the same people back to Washington term after term after term, then all this mess is your fault.

I don’t know any other way to say it.
Albert Einstein wrote that Insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  If this is true, then, over half of the voting population of the United States is insane, because they keep sending the same people back to congress over and over again, expecting (maybe hoping, fingers crossed) that this time, maybe, things will be different, that congress will FINALLY put the needs of the people first, but then they are disappointed when nothing changes.

In a few weeks you will have the chance to change the result.  Fire congress!  Never vote for an incumbent again, ever!  Give the members of congress one shot at getting it right and then send them home. If you vote for incumbents, you are just contributing to the problem; you are being insane.  It’s time you realize that there is no difference between Republican and Democrats.  They both serve the interests of big business and those with deep pockets. They couldn’t care less about you, until November rolls around, of course, and they really need your vote.  For one month every other year, they are all ears about your concerns and problems, the other 23 months of their terms; you’re an annoying little buzz in their ears.
There, I’ve said my peace.  Now go vote.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Salt Lake Comic Con Recap

What!?!  Salt Lake City has a Comic Con?

Yes we do, and it is the fastest growing Comic Con in the nation.  In fact, if you look at percentages of attendance as compared to the population of the host cities, Salt Lake Comic Con (SLCC) is larger (in relation to population) than San Diego Comic-Con International.  But, I’m not sure that Salt Lake Comic Con can get much bigger because our state’s largest venue, the Salt Palace Convention Center, is just not big enough for the 120,000 attendees that we had this year.  The Salt Palace is going to have to grow, or a larger venue is going to have to be built if Salt Lake Comic Con is going to grow any larger.
My wife and I had kid of decided that we were not going to go this year, and would probably just go to FanX in the spring (if there was one) but then, something improbable happened, and I commented on a post from SLCC on Facebook, and ended up winning a Saturday only ticket.  So I had to use it, right?  We then purchased a Saturday pass for my wife and spent the day.

Saturday morning, we got up and took Trax (Salt Lake’s commuter rail line) to the Salt Palace.  We got there a little early and figured that we’d have to wait in line.  I had taken advantage of early check in, and so, had gotten our wrist bands on Tuesday, so thankfully we didn’t have to wait in that massive line.
 Whoh... Can you see the end... way out there?
 
But, there was another massive line to just get into the convention center.  When they started people going into the expo hall, I could see movement way up the line, and it took almost 20 minutes before that movement got to us, and we started advancing toward the entrance.  I’m not sure what happened at that point, but all of a sudden, the live broke, and everyone was advancing, without regard to lines or anything directly to the gate.  It was mass confusion.  But eventually, we were in and on our way through a very tight and very crowded artist’s alley.

I had a couple of goals in mind that I wanted to do, and they mostly had to do with meeting actors. 
Don’t judge.

I started by meeting Matt Frewer, he who was once Max Headroom.  I found Matt to be very friendly, and very talkative.  I told him that I was a huge fan of his work as Max Headroom, and he told me that there has been talk of rebooting (as it were) the Max Headroom series.  He signed a picture for me, and then we took a pic while my wife went on ahead to get in line for Alan Tudyk.
Hey Max Headroom is a real person... who knew?
After finishing up with Matt Frewer, I fought my way through the groups of fellow attendees, to Alan Tudyk’s line.  My wife had texted me that she was in the overflow line and told me how to find her, I did and found that she was standing with a girl I knew from one of the plays I had worked on.  Megan was in line to get a picture signed for a friend of hers who couldn’t make the con, but really wanted Alan Tudyk’s signature.  So we talked for a bit while we waited.

Alan Tudyk was so nice and personable.  We were a couple of people down from a family who had small kids, and Alan treated them to the voices of King Candy from Wreck it Ralph and the Duke from Frozen.  It was kind of a treat for me to hear him do that, and the kids were just ecstatic.
The only woman that my wife would let come between us.
Then, it was on to Erin Gray.  I’ve had a crush on her since Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.  I think that I was 12 or 13 years old at the time.  She was so fun to talk to so we just had to lay down a couple of extra bucks to have our picture taken as well.  She put her arm around me… *Insert Fan-Boy Noise Here*

Right next to Erin Gray was Charisma Carpenter (of Buffy and Angel fame).  So we stopped to see her because my wife is a huge fan.  She was also very nice and totally overwhelmed by the fandom of Salt Lake.  She could not believe the number of people that came out.  I’m thinking that she thought that SLCC would be a small con, and just could not believe what it turned out to be.
After grabbing some overpriced food for lunch, we set out to find Margaret Weis who co-authored the Dragon-Lance books back in the 80’s.  I still have my original books from back then and had Tracy Hickman sign them when we went to FanX.  I really wanted a complete set of signatures, and so when we found Margaret Weis I asked if she would sign as well.  I couldn’t get a read on her.  When I showed my books to Tracy Hickman, he was so excited to see that I had been packing these books around since Junior High.  He talked to me about them and was so pleasant.  Margaret Weis, not so much.  She just signed them and handed them back without a word.  When I tried to engage her in conversation, all I got was one word answers.  Maybe she was having a bad day.  Right next to Margaret Weis was Larry Elmore, the artist who did the cover design and several other illustrations for the Dragon-Lance series.  I purchased one of his prints and he signed it for me.  He was quiet, but very pleasant.

Wow, travel log.
We were down to our last $52.00 and were trying to decide what to do next.  Our kids wanted the signature from Cary Elwes who played the Dred Pirate Roberts in The Princes Bride.  He had a pretty long line, and they had closed it because he was going to be leaving for a panel.  We took the opportunity to go to Matt Frewer’s panel and spent a wonderful hour listening to him talk about his career as an actor.  I really hope that the Max Headroom reboot comes together.

As you Wish!
 
Then, after checking out a few of the venders, we went back to Cary Elwes’s line and spent a solid 2 hours there.  His setup was a little different.  All of the other celebs just had a table; he had constructed a little curtained off booth where he could meet you one-on-one.  He was nice enough, but was really focused on trying to get you to buy his book.  It would have been nice if he had just mentioned it once and then moved on… but he didn’t.
After that, we were beat, and so we sat and people watched for a while and then headed home.

Salt Lake Comic Con was so much fun, but there were way too many people.  I’m not sure what the answer is, but I fully intend to attend next year.  I’m really giving volunteering a thought.  I just think that would be a kick.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What I Saw this Morning


An unknown homeless couple sleeping on a canal culvert.
Cardboard as a mattress, and a shipping blanket as a cover.
They really put my struggles in perspective.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A bit of an Update

So, I haven’t done one of these in a while, so I figured I would.

I’m training for the Big Cottonwood Half right now with Team in Training.  I started out training for the full, but had to drop down because of some family issues in July that prevented me from getting out to run.  I fell behind in the training, and at my age it’s almost impossible to make up the miles without injuring myself.  That being said I still had a 63 mile month in July.  I am starting to get the first signs of shin splints, and that has me a bit concerned, but I think I can keep them from becoming full blown before the race.

In June, I finished my 6th Ragnar event.  (The Wasatch Back for the 4th time).  It wasn’t as fun as it’s been in past years.  I’m not sure what it was.  I know that I wasn’t properly trained for it (which probably accounts for much of the suck-factor).  I was runner 6 again, which consists of a long nasty 6 miler out of Avon Pass, followed by a really nasty 8 mile leg up into East Canyon.  Between these two legs I was able to catch about 30 minutes of sleep (awesome) and then kind of choke down part of a chicken caesar wrap at Snow Basin (not so good).  So when I started up East Canyon on my second leg, I was totally under fueled.  I started out strong, but about 3 miles in I began to feel light-headed and kind of disconnected.  At about the 5th mile, I caught up with my van, and told them what was happening.  I choked down a cliff bar, and some kind of fruit salad thing, and luckily didn’t barf it back up over the last 3 miles.  I did feel lots better after eating and did manage to avoid a major Bonk.
After I finished, we passed off to the other van, a few minutes late, but not too bad, and went off to catch some sleep.  In past years we’ve always camped at a junior high school in Coalville.  It’s warm, dry, sometimes quiet, and about half way to our next exchange at the fairgrounds in Oakley.  This year, everyone (except me) decided to go on to the fairgrounds to sleep.  Let me preface this by saying that the weather had been cool and wet, and so a nice dry school sounded better to me than a wet fairground… I’m just saying.  So we drove about an hour and a half to Oakley, and after seeing how wet the grass was, everyone (except me) decided just to sleep in the van.  I was so tired by this point that sleeping in the van was an idea entirely composed of suck, so, a little angry and fully frustrated, I grabbed my pillow, sleeping bag, and a tarp, and walked out to a secluded piece of grass.  Took off my shoes, crawled into my bag, and was fully asleep in a minute.  The next thing I remember was the morning sun.  I felt Awesome!!!  The rest of the van… not so much.  While I was stretched out, warm and comfy, they spent the night cramped, cold, and awake.  I guess that there are advantages to being a 6 time veteran of relay races, whereas the rest of the van was composed of 2 virgins, 1 who had done 2 relays and 2 who had done 1.  So… live and learn, and always listen to the veteran.  My one word of advice to anyone thinking of doing their first relay: make sure that you have a dark, quiet, comfortable place to sleep between your 2nd and third legs.  It will make a difference.  Trust me.  And... if you cant find dark and quiet... sleep mask & ear plugs.

Terrible picture, I know, but it kind of
gives you an idea of the ugliness thereof.
 
The other thing that bugged me about this year’s Ragnar was the ugly factor of the shirts.  Aqua marine with a blaze orange logo?  Are you kidding me?  Was there a sale?  The one thing that I love about Ragnar is that their shirts are almost always awesome.  Last year’s shirt is my favorite.  I wear it all the time, whether I'm running or not.  This year’s shirt might get warn… in the winter… under my running jacket and another shirt.  Yep, it’s that ugly.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

To Go, or Not to Go... that... is a good question.

I’ve been contemplating going back to school.  Years ago, twelve, to be exact, I graduated from University with a BA in English.  I’m happy that from time to time I get to use it at work, to proof read response letters, write copy for our company website, or to answer the odd grammar question.

“Hey Murph!  Is it, your an idiot, or you’re an idiot?”

But the day that one of our intern engineers walked into my office, closely examined the degree that hangs above my desk and asked, “Is that for real?” I decided that it was time that I used my degree for something other than wall d├ęcor.

So, from time to time, I have looked into going back to school for a Masters of Arts in Literature, but after talking to my alma mater, and realizing that I could not attend classes and still work normal office hours, without throwing my family into financial ruin, I kind of gave up.
Over the years, I would look at possible online programs, but have never found what I was looking for.  Most online programs are for MBA’s from schools with questionable accreditation, who’s real goal has more to do with sucking all the federal loan money they can out of you before tossing you out on the street with a worthless degree and a truckload of debt.

A couple of weeks ago, I actually found what I was looking for.  Mercy College and Southern New Hampshire University, both accredited universities who have been around since early in the 20th century, and who actually have campuses, both have online master’s degree programs in British and American Lit.
But now, I’m just not sure.  I mean, either school is going to cost my family about $20,000.  I have one daughter who will be going back to college in a year when she gets home from being a missionary; which, will coincide with my second daughter starting to college as well.

What to do?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Where to go now that Team in Training is gone.

I have so many things going on in my head right now, so forgive me if I get to rambling with no coherent thoughts.

I’m involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, primarily through Team in Training.  It’s a long story as to why, but I love the program, I love the people, I love meeting on Saturday Mornings to push and pull each other along on a grueling “long run” as part of marathon or half-marathon training.  I love the social aspects, I love the feeling that I’m using running for a greater good, I love that if I’m having problems, that I have a coach that I can go to and that we can work through the issues to keep me moving forward.
Yesterday, I was invited to take part in a conference call between volunteers (like myself) the Utah branch office and the national headquarters.  The subject was the “exciting” changes that are happening with Team in Training in Utah.  The “exciting” change is that we will no longer have a local team.  That we are going to a Flex Only model.  Now I’ve heard about the flex model of Team in Training.  Basically all the meetings are held online.  Coaches, mentors, tracking, the whole enchilada is all done through email, and conference calls.

That’s not good enough for me!  I love having a coach that can watch me run so that he can tell me why my right knee may be hurting.  I love standing in a circle of runners at 6 in the morning, talking about our training, our purpose, fundraising.  I even love the hands in “Go Team!” before we head out.
I hate, communicating via email, or text, (unless it’s with someone I’m trying to avoid.)

Also… I loved that I could do local races.  Events here around my house, where I could feasibly take care of all of the added expenses that are tacked onto your fundraising totals so that my friends and family were not paying for my event in some exotic place; So that all of their donations were going to fight cancer.
So… Team in Training is gone… for me at least.

It was funny (well not really), after the coordinators and managers finished telling us how “exciting” these changes were going to be, they opened it up to questions of comments from the volunteers who were on the call, and… nothing.  We had nothing to say.  It was crickets on the other end of each of our phone lines.  I’m sure that the rest of the volunteers were feeling the same way that I was; Like we just got dumped on.
Tonight I will run.  And since it’s raining right now, I will most likely run in the rain.  I will don one of my TnT training shirts, and my TnT visor, and I will run as best as I can in the wet streets, and think about where I go from here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Long Overdue Update


Holy Cow!  I knew that it had been a while since I posted to my blog, but February!?! 
I do have a great excuse though… want to hear it?  Too bad… I’m going to tell you anyway.

I’ve been writing a research paper on the literary origins of the Holy Grail.  (This is what English Majors do for fun when not in school.)  So I’ve been reading medieval texts by Chretien de Troyes, Robert de Boron, Wolfram von Eschenbach, and a very old group of Welsh texts collectively known as “The Mabinogian.”  Actually we’re really not sure how old some of the Mabinogian texts really are.  My intention is to publish it in our Baronial newsletter, “The Questing Quill” when I finally get it into the shape I want it to be in, and maybe trim it down a bit, since right now it’s really long.
So… forgive me if my blogging has suffered.


My daughter B is doing well on her mission.  Half way through, and having a blast, it would seem.
I’m back with Team in Training for another season and all is not going as well as last time.  The first time I did this, I had such tremendous support from friends, family, and total strangers and this year, not so much.  Oh well, what are you going to do?  I started out training for the Big Cottonwood Full Marathon, but after some training setbacks, I decided that I had better push back to the Half Marathon or risk injury trying to make up for lost miles.  Probably a wise decision, but it still kind of sucks.


I did Wasatch Back again this year, (4th Wasatch Back, and 6th Ragnar) and it was still fun, but kind of lacked the outrageous fun of past years.  Not sure what it was.  I’m not sure if a recap would be beneficial to me or anyone else.
When I finish Team in Training for this season, I’m thinking of joining up with Push to the Finish.  It sounds like such a worthwhile organization, and such a great way to use my love of running for another good cause.

Anyway, there you go… I am still alive, still running, still having fun.

Monday, February 24, 2014

ASL


Years ago, when I was at University, I was a Literature Major.  And since I was perusing an arts degree, I had to take 2 years of a foreign language.
Now, I am not one of those people who take readily to other languages.  I took 2 years of German in High School and it pretty much fell out of my head the day after finals.  So, needless to say, when I found out I had to take a foreign language on a University level, I pretty much freaked out.  So, while looking though the Class catalogue, I found American Sign Language (ASL) listed among the available languages, and so, after confirming that it would meet my language credit requirements, I signed up thinking that it would be an easy language to learn (I was wrong about the “Easy” part, by the way), and because I have a friend who had recently had a child who was deaf.

Anyway, fast forward to today.  I’ve lost quite a lot of my ASL skills because I never use it, but one of my daughters, Tay, decided to take it in High School in order to fulfill her language credit for her diploma.  She loves the language, and it’s given me the opportunity to refresh my knowledge of the language.
On Saturday, she cornered me and told me that I just “had” to watch this student video that they had watched in her sign class.  It was a music video for “The King of Anything” by Sara Bareilles in ASL as done by some college level ASL students.  So I watched it, and loved it!


 

So then, we began to see what else was out there.
This is Queen's classic, Bohemian rhapsody as done by some Students

 


Here's the thing with these videos.  I have a friend who is the child of a deaf mother.  She's very fluent in ASL and HATES when people are performing a song and who have a person sign the song, when there are no deaf people there to watch.  The beauty of the signing is not enough for her.  I love watching signed songs, because it adds such an expressive element to the song, that you just can't get from the pure music.  Here's an example.  I love Jazz.  There are several jazz standards that are sung in French.  I have no idea what is being said, but I love the sound of the words.  It's the same with signed music.

Here's one of my favorites that we found the other day.
It's not as professional as the other two I've shown, but this girl does such a good job in expressing the feeling of the song.



Now here's a couple that I just Loved





This one has such a good message





And this one is really just fun



I hope you've enjoyed these as much as I did.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

It's been a while... how about an update?

I’ve sat down to write something for this poor neglected bolg of mine several times, and have yet to get anything coherent put down on paper… as it were.

I’m back to running with a fair amount of consistency. Not long distances… yet… nor at great speed, but hitting the pavement is hitting the pavement… right? I have Ragnar Wasatch Back in June, and have volunteered to take the dreaded runner 6 position, which starts with a steep 6 mile downhill out of Avon Pass and then follows with an 8 mile steep uphill into East Canyon. So I have a lot of work to do to get ready for that.


Salt Lake's air quality has sucked as of late, which has made it difficult to put miles behind me.  But a snow storm blew in last night and cleared out a lot of the pollution.  So, guess who's running in the snow and fresh air tonight?  As much as I love this valley, the winter air quality is getting so bad... I just don't know what future I'll have here.  Most of the gunk in the air comes from cars... I take mass transit or walk almost everywhere I go, but so many people here will not give up there cars.  Don't know what to do...

Diet wise, I’ve decided that I’m limiting myself to one 12oz can of soda per day. I know that I should kick off the stuff all together, but I love it so very much! Since I was drinking more than 32oz per day all of last year, I figure that one can per day is a huge step forward.

Last Saturday, my wife and I went to the Salt Lake Seed Swap in South Salt Lake, and scored some great seeds for our garden this spring. There are still a few things we need to get, like corn, tomato plants, and maybe a melon or two, but we should have a really nice harvest this year.

We were able to also get a jar of raw, local honey. I used to buy it when I was in Southern California and ate it on my cereal every morning. I never had hay-fever the whole time I lived there. Then I came back to Utah (the Bee Hive State) and had the hardest time getting raw local honey. Ever since then I’ve had terrible hay-fever. So, with this new find, and my daily peanut butter and honey sandwich I hope to be hay-fever free again. Plus, I now know the beekeeper’s phone number and should be able to score more honey in the future.

We hear from BB every week. She’s doing well. She’s working in the Ozarks now and totally loves the redneck lifestyle. She lives in a trailer, in someone’s back yard, at the end of a dirt road. When I asked her if she had squirrel skins stretched on her walls… she didn’t dignify my question with an answer. It’s pretty cold there right now, but I’m sure that it will be gorgeous when spring hits.

I'll start posting more... I promise. ;)

Thursday, January 02, 2014

2013 Recap

I intended to do this on the 31st while I was sitting around the house with nothing to do but to clean up Christmas… but I ended up running 3.5 miles and then watch an entire season of Whale Wars with my Blog all but forgotten.  Then, on the 1st, (after waking up some time after 10am) I started with my new favorite stress reliever / core workout: hitting the heavy bag we got my son for Christmas.  He’s an orange belt at United Studios of Self-Defense and wanted to be able to practice when he wasn’t at the studio… but… it seems that I use the bag more than he does.  Oh well.

So on to the update:

2013 Miles:  If you remember, I originally started the year off with the goal of 1000 miles.  Yah… That happened.  It seems that when setting goals, I really need to remember that they need to be Attainable!  At my fitness level last January, 1000 miles was a total pipe dream.  So, around July I revised my yearly goal to a more attainable number of 500 miles.  I came in at +/- 490 miles for the year.  I say plus/minus because there were a couple of runs this year that I did naked (i.e. No Garmin).  So I may have made the 500, but I think that my guess of 490 is pretty darn close.

2014 Goal Miles:  OK… so I know that 500-ish miles is attainable for me, so I’m going to sweeten that number by 100 miles and go for 600 miles this year.  Totally doable.

2014 health goal: 12 fl oz of soda per day.  That’s it!  No more!  I don’t want to give up soda entirely (I did that once for an entire year and I didn’t like the person I had become) so one can per day is all I’m giving myself.

2013 NetFlix obsession:  Whale Wars was my favorite last year, but I was also introduced to Sherlock and that was TOTALLY my favorite.

2013 Best Movie:  This is going to sound weird… but here goes.  As much as I LOVED Hunger Games: Catching Fire, my favorite movie last year was Frozen.  It was just… Awesome!

2013 books:  Wow… why do I even include this category?  According to GoodReads I read a total of 53 books in 2013.  (What can I say?  I ride the bus to work, which gives me a full hour of uninterrupted read time).  Ok, I think that the best book I read this year was Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline.  I am freaking in love with this book!  Other good ones from last year include Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, A Walk Across America, by Peter Jenkins, Of Dice and Men, by David Ewalt, & A Tree Grows in Brooklin, by Betty Smith.  There were others (I’m sure) but those are the ones that stuck out in my mind.

2013 Playlist Additions:  This year I added several tunes by Deadmau5.  Hey, the guy spins a good tune that’s great for running.  I’ve also fallen in love with Client, OceanLab, Ladytron, and Imagine Dragons.  Oh, and Lindsey Sterling (I didn’t add her to my running playlist because she’s a little hard to run to, but I dearly love her music!)

 
2013 Biggest Change:  Having BB go on a mission for our church.  It’s strange having her so far away from home, but since my wife and I are both former missionaries ourselves, we know what it’s like for her to be out there in service to the Lord and to others.  It’s been a huge blessing for us and I can already see the growth and maturity that has happened within her.  Wednesday, she was transferred out of the little town she was working in and sent somewhere else.  We know that she was transferred, but we don’t know where, and won’t be able to find out until her email on Monday.  It’s driving me crazy, the not knowing!

Ok… I think that about sums it up for the past year.  I hope that your 2013 shaped up pretty well, and that 2014 is going to be a great one for you.

See you on the streets!
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