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Lone Appétit!

As circumstances in my life have evolved, I have had the opportunity to dine alone several times recently.  If you have never experienced this wonderful situation, I highly recommend you give it a try.

There are several advantages to dining alone.

You almost always get a table.  Party of one–come on down!  Often, it is in a remote corner of the establishment where you will feel comfortable with your dining experience knowing no one else can see you.  This is often called Loser’s Corner in the restaurant business.  But for those of us that like privacy when we eat, you can’t beat the ambiance.  We are winners!

They should have put a TV on this wall!

They should have put a TV on this wall!

Sometimes, though, you might have to sit outside.  perhaps in the alley.

Table4One

And if things are really tight, you might end up here.  On the bright side, if you need extra napkins, the roll is right there.

ToiletDining

Another advantage is that the meal goes faster.  It takes the chef less time to prepare one meal.  He has fewer burgers to flip so the food arrives quickly.  Also, there is no annoying dinner conversation to slow one down.  It’s hard to talk and chew at the same time, and quite frankly, if you do that, then that’s probably another reason why you are dining alone right now anyway.  You can still carry on those remarkably entertaining conversations in your head, without spewing croutons across the table.

You don’t have to worry about that awkward moment when the waitress asks if this will be separate checks, or if she doesn’t ask, sets the bill down between you and your dinner date leaving the two of you to glance between the check, each other, and pretty much any other point in the restaurant which would be less uncomfortable.

The bill is lower since you’re only paying for one.  The tip is lower as well.  Have I convinced you this is the way to go, yet?

But it’s not all fun and games.  It can still be awkward if you order the lobster.  Especially if you are at Burger King–have it your way apparently does not include surf and turf.  And if your order the most expensive meal, will you get lucky tonight?  Your hand starts to tremble in anticipation.  You drop your lobster in the butter.  There’s a lot of pressure there if you order the lobster.  If your wrist is sore, or you have a headache, you might want to stick with the salad.

But if you are prepared and dine modestly, the evening can be delightful.  Prepare some jokes in your head to entertain yourself.  Other patrons in the restaurant will be envious of you laughing to yourself and making them wish they were dining with you.  At the cool table!  Don’t be rude and ignore yourself while texting on the phone.  After all, if you had someone to text, you wouldn’t be sitting there alone anyway.

And if your restaurant has televisions, you have the choice of seats around the table to have the view of whatever TV you want!

Lone Appétit!

The Whoville Marathon

Scrolling down Facebook, I came across an add for compression socks for runners.

SeussRunners

I see this, and immediately, my mind isn’t thinking running socks, it’s thinking Dr. Seuss.

WhoVille

Every Who down in Whoville liked Running a lot, but the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville – did not. The Grinch hated Running – the whole Running season. Now, please don’t ask why; no one quite knows the reason. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were laced tight. Or it could be his shorts chafed and didn’t fit him quite right. But I think that the most likely reason of all… may have been that his Asics were two sizes too small. But, whatever the reason, his shorts or his shoes, he stood there on Race Day hating the Whos. 

I certainly don’t hate running, but why on God’s earth  would I wear something that looks like it was designed by Dr. Seuss or trendy in Munchkin Land?

I fully understand visibility, particularly if you run in the dark.  But seriously?  These things are visible from space!  They hurt your eyes!  I’m an eye doctor.  I should know.  And drivers might be laughing so hard they still run you over like the Wicked Witch of the East.

You have no running power here.  Be gone!  Before someone runs a car over you too!

I tried the whole clown shoe thing–you know what I’m talking about–those shoes that try to use every color in a Crayola set of 64 and were probably designed by the owner’s 3-year-old daughter in preschool.  The experiment failed primarily because they weren’t comfortable.  But the gaudy color thing is just not me.  It is actually getting harder and harder to find shoes that only have one or two colors, and don’t glow in the dark as if they were manufactured in Chernobyl.

In running, function and comfort should trump everything.  But do we have to sacrifice good taste?

Do we want our sport to end up like this?

AlCzervik

Nice thing about these clothes? I can play 18 holes and then jog 13 miles without changing!

Summer Runnin’

Had me a blast.

Summer Runnin’

Happened so fast.

I recently read a blog entry that discussed some of the downsides of running in summer weather, among which were complaints like it’s hot and humid, you have to wear less clothes (not sure why this is an issue,) chafing (which would be reduced if you wore less clothes,) salt encrusted selfies, and mosquitoes.

Of all the things on their list, I have to agree with the mosquitoes.  especially bugs in the mouth.

As someone who has run in -9 degree F weather in Pennsylvania and the 120 degree dry heat of Phoenix, I have experienced quite a spectrum of seasonal running and temperatures.  Without a doubt, I would pick 120 degrees in Phoenix over sub zero temps in Pennsylvania–any day.  No questions.  End of discussion.  And no mosquitoes at 120 degrees.  Maybe a gecko.  Or a scorpion.   And they won’t end up in your mouth unless you collapse from dehydration or heat stroke.

But if I had to pick one thing that bothers me the most about warmer weather running, it has to be the spider webs.

spiderweb

Run into my parlor said the spider to the guy !

There is a trail that I traverse along the course of my run.  As the temperatures rise, so do the number of spider webs crossing the rather narrow path.

I have visions of being caught like extras in Stephen King’s The Mist, or ending up like Frodo in a spidery cocoon.

frodoweb

I was just out for a run with Samwise and Smeagol . . .

You can’t always see the wispy strands, but you can feel them on your legs and face.  I end up running this trail most summer mornings with one hand held up in front of my face as though I am trying to elude the Phantom of the Opera’s punjab lasso.

At least I don’t need a machete.  Yet.

Pints for Pets

Yesterday I went to a fundraising event called Pints for Pets with one of our surgical scrub techs and her husband.  The basic concept is that you buy a ticket to get in.  Proceeds go to the Central PA Humane Society.  Once you get into the event, craft brewers from various breweries offer samples of their beers for free.  Well, not free, since you had to pay to get in, but there is no additional charge.  They give you a little beer glass and you can sample as many and as often as you like.

Pints for Pets?  I don't think that's how this works.  I don't think that's how any of this works!

Pints for Pets? I don’t think that’s how this works. I don’t think that’s how any of this works!

I get beer.  Homeless pets get money.  Win-win situation.

The event was held at the Blair County Ball Park (home of the Altoona Curve baseball team.)  In order to get in, you have to show ID.  At 50, it’s not often I get carded anymore.  They actually swiped my license through some machine just as if it was a credit card.  I am now on the grid.  By the time I’m drunk, I’ll probably have my own drone or satellite.

So in we go to sample the beers!

We head to a table featuring beers from the Pittsburgh Brewing Company.  They had an IC Light Mango which looked interesting.  I’m not a dark, bitter beer type person.  I like ales and IPAs.  Give me a good apricot wheat and I am happy.  I like Blue Moon (with an orange!)  I like Samuel Adams Summer Ale.

The mango was good.  I was off to a good start.  It was a little sweet, but I would prefer that to bitter.

There was a beer made with grapefruit which was a little sour to my liking.

There was a chocolate stout, which in theory sounds good–it has chocolate!–but trust me on this one, it’s no Godiva Liquor or Hershey’s syrup if you know what I mean.  It actually had a mild coffee flavor–I love coffee!—but I couldn’t see myself drinking a whole case of this stuff.  My little four ounce glass was more than enough.

There was a strawberry craft beer.  It tasted like a strawberry pastry–my friend’s analysis, not mine but I concur.  It wasn’t necessarily bad, but of all the fruits they add to beer–lemon, lime, blueberry, apricot, raspberry, mango, etc–strawberry is one that just doesn’t seem to add something good to the beer.  That’s my opinion.  Taste it if you want to.  You’ll dump the rest.  Trust me.

Likewise, there was a banana flavored beer.  Whoever thought that would be a good idea should be shot.  Or made to drink it.  Either way, they are in for some pain.

I tried a wonderful pineapple infused lager.  It was like Hawaii in a glass.

But then we came to the coup de grâce:  Sweet Baby Jesus beer.   Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter.  OMG.  Chocolate and peanut butter were created to be together.  They are two of my favorite food groups.  And when you put them together, it is Heaven!  The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup may be the most perfect food ever created.

Unfortunately, in a porter . . . words cannot begin to describe this.  Tar comes to mind.  Is tar bitter? The peanut butter flavor is totally lost in there, eclipsed by a bitter porter or an overzealous chocolate bar.  But maybe that is how this concoction got it’s name.  After you manage to swallow a mouthful, all you can say is, Sweet baby Jesus, give me something else!

But there were a lot of good craft beers.  Dogfish Head.  Apricot, or as they call it, Aprihop!  Hop.  Hop.  Hop.

Leinenkugel makes a grapefruit shandy!  With a name like Leinenkugel’s it has to be good.  And shandy makes it sound like you are already drunk!  Maybe I am.  It’s hard to keep track of how many mouthfuls we’ve had.

There were a lot of beers.  And such a tiny little glass.

Ooh look.  There’s another beer.  Some brewery.  Somewhere.

That one was is bad.  Don’t try that one.

Oooh.  That one isn’t too bad.  I can’t remember what it is or where it came from, but I know where it went.

By the end of the afternoon–three hours–they all start to taste the same, except for the bad ones which taste even worse.

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
A tale of some beers first class,
That started in this baseball park,
With just a tiny glass.

The doc was a mighty drinking man,
The scrub tech brave and sure.
Five passengers set out that day
For a three hour tour, a three hour tour.

The craft beers started getting sour,
The bitter beers were tossed,
If not for the courage of the fearless crew
The good beers would be lost, the good beers would be lost.

The glass was filled on the deck of this uncharted baseball field
With an eye doctor
A scrub tech too,
The millionaire and his wife,
The movie star
The professor and Mary Ann,
Here on Pints for Pets Isle.

Franco and I

Eye doctors in picture may appear shorter than they actually are!

Eye doctors in picture may appear shorter than they actually are!

Wasn’t That Special?

Today, I participated in the Beaver Stadium Run sponsored by the Paterno family, with proceeds benefiting Special Olympics of Pennsylvania.  I was able to raise $1,450 to benefit Special Olympians.  Last year they raised over $400,000 but I do not know the total for this year.  As a result of my fundraising efforts, I was invited to a reception with Sue Paterno, Jay Paterno, Franco Harris, and Pat Chambers, who is Penn State’s basketball coach.  I know!  I didn’t even know we had a basketball team!  James Franklin wasn’t at the reception but he and his family were there for the race.

I'm in there somewhere!

I’m in there somewhere!  Maybe.  It’s last year’s photo.  I was there.

Anyway, after the Blue-White Game, a free football scrimmage that marks the end of Spring practice,  and the private reception they had accommodations at a hotel in State College for runners that wanted to stay overnight before the race.  I only live about 40-45 minutes away depending on how many cops are alongside the road, but the reception ran till 8:30, and the race was the following morning at 11:00.  I could save gas by not driving back and forth.  It seemed like a win-win situation for me and the environment to stay in the hotel.

Until one o’clock in the morning.

That’s when the smoke alarm in my room started to chirp every minute or so.  After listening to this for a few minutes, and quietly hoping it would just STOP, I got up and removed the battery.  Hey!  It’s not like I’m in an airplane bathroom here.  And it’s not because I wanted to smoke.  I just wanted to sleep!  I have a race to run the next day!

Finally, I called the front desk.  They came relatively quickly, although my room is physically as far away from the front desk as you can get.  They gave me a map to help me find where to park.  I had to stop and ask directions.  I was afraid I might need a passport, but fortunately, I did not cross any foreign borders on the way to my room.

They replaced the battery and . . . . silence.  They apologized profusely, and excused themselves.  I turned out the lights and tried to return to my racing dreams of crossing the finish line first to be congratulated by the entire Penn State cheerleading team . . . but I digress.

Within two minutes, the chirping resumes.  WTF?!

I again call to the front desk, but there is no answer.  I guess the two who made the Lewis and Clark journey to my room haven’t returned yet with Sacajawea.  So I listened to the bird chirping and wondered if it was a finch or a blue jay?  After finally contacting the front desk duo again, I waited for their arrival and let them in.

They played with the battery some more.  He thinks perhaps he put it in wrong.  (That’s what she said.)  She just seemed distressed or perhaps she knew the entire hotel was at risk because there was no one at the front desk right now.  She suggested cutting the electric wires to the unit–which makes you wonder why it needs any battery after all except as a backup for power outages and this seems like something that could wait until say, 10:00 the next day.  He asked her if she wanted to electrocute him.  She does not answer (but smiles.)  I was sensing some tension between these two.  Or I might just be TIRED!  He pushed a button to test the unit.  Long, loud chirp.  Okay, I am fully awake now!

Finally, the chirping stops and the two apologetically removed themselves from my room again.

Sleep at last!

I have set my phone alarm to go off at 8am.  I’m only 10 minutes from the race location, but I’m pretty sure I am gong to need to eat something, but I can’t run right after I eat something, so I figure three hours is a good compromise.

Unfortunately, the previous occupant of this fine hotel (“we’ve had no fire in 117,497 days!”) room set the alarm for 6 am.  And it dutifully awoke me at 6 am.

I should have just gone back home!

Humor aside, I don’t think it affected my performance.  Maybe the two beers I drank at the reception did.  Or the two creme filled donuts I had on Friday.  Or the double quarter-pounder with cheese and fries before the Blue White Game.

Whatever,  I did not win.  There were no cheerleaders.  It was only a dream.

But I did place 64th out of 1900 runners, and fifth in my age group (old farts.)  I beat my time from last year (22:43:82) with a new personal record of 20:59:01!

But I have to admit I was humbled a bit.  As we lined up before the race, they attempted to group people by how fast they run.  I moved to a point just ahead of the sign that read 7:00 to 8:00 pace (my official pace was 7:00!)  NAILED IT!  I stood near a young woman (and quite frankly, they all look young to me anymore except for my cataract patients.)  I find it helpful to have something to focus on while running.  She was wearing very short, very skin tight gray shorts, and a tank top.  She was very focused.  She would be the rabbit to my greyhound.

However, as the race started, she was more like a turbo charged super ninja rabbit on steroids, and was out of my sight before we reached the one mile mark.  I never saw her again.  I ate her dust.

Worse yet, the person in my age group that beat me out for third place and a possible medal (by 12 SECONDS) blew by me about 3/4 of a mile before the stadium.  I know this because my first thought when he went by me was, “that guy is old.”  He was.  Gray hair (not tight gray shorts) and everything.  He had on a gray T-shirt with words on the back.  “Ask your doctor if getting off your ass is right for you.”

This is what losers see.

This is what losers see.

The shirt distracted me.  Not the same way the gray pants did.  I had to think about this–it had words and humor and everything.  The shorts only had a Nike Swoosh.  (And that’s what they did.  Swoosh!)  Meanwhile, he’s sprinting ahead of me like I’m standing still.  I’m doing 8.57 miles per hour in a 7 mile per hour zone!  He only beat me by twelve seconds, but I never recovered from that shirt.

It had to be that shirt!

Although it might have been the smoke alarm keeping me up all night.

Or the donuts and beer.

Whatever.

Safe Running

My loyal readers know that I am a runner.  And over the years, I have had issues with my toes, which apparently were not well designed to run, at least not the way I run.  (Think awkward albatross trying to take flight but failing.)

Anyway, my podiatrist suggested I try a product called gel toe caps (toe condoms is what she actually called them).

toecondom

I have been having some toe nail issues recently–the little piggy that stayed home in particular had to be cut down below the nail bed to allow some blood and fluid to be released.  So I agreed to road test these–literally.  The girl in the picture seems happy with the condoms.

With a clinical trial of ONE experience, I have to admit, and I don’t ordinarily care for condoms, but I kind of like running with the condom.

RunningFeet

I ran six miles today in 50 minutes.  There was a little discomfort in the toe, but quite frankly, it was not comfortable before the run.  And it certainly was not worse.  I have been taping with Coban tape previously, but I think I like the toe condom better.

I highly recommend practicing safe running!

 

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