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Fool me once . . .  shame on you.

Fool me twice . . .  shame on me.

I ran my second marathon today in Pittsburgh.  If you have never been to Pittsburgh, let me sum it up for you in one word:  HILLS.

There’s a Hill District.  There are the North Hills.  There are the South Hills.  Here a hill, there a hill, everywhere a hill hill.

I know it’s not possible to start at one elevation and end at the same elevation without equal amounts of going up and going down.

But I went up hill a lot more today than I went down.  I broke the laws of physics.  I don’t know how.  But I did.

Why did I run a second marathon?

Runners

The origin of the modern marathon is rooted in ancient Greek history.

In a nod to Greek history, the first marathon commemorated the run of the soldier Pheidippides from a battlefield near the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C.

Apparently stupidity “ran” rampant even in 490 B.C.  (See what I did there?)  And history apparently repeats itself.  I ran a second marathon.  Shame on me.

What is often forgotten in that historic legend is this:

Pheidippides ran the approximately 25 miles to announce the defeat of the Persians to some anxious Athenians. Not quite in mid-season shape, he delivered the message “Niki!” (Victory!) then keeled over and died.

He DIED!  I obviously trained better than he did, as I have survived.  Barely.  I am walking with a limp.  I’ve been having some Achilles tendon problems (another Greek myth/legend!  Damn those Greeks!  Damn them all to Hades!)  And like any obsessed devoted runner I more or less ignored it.  Most days the discomfort went away after 1-2 miles.  I didn’t rest, ice, compress or elevate.  I ran through the pain.  I loosened it up!

It does not feel loosened up after 26.2 miles. What the Frick in Pittsburgh was I thinking?!

My heel is angry with me.  It is punishing me.  I would kick it if I could but it hurts too much to do that.

Notes from the race:

Despite the pain, I finished in 4:17:59.  Good for 52nd place in the 50-54 division.  For what it’s worth, I ran in the Asics Gel Nimbus 19 today.  I ran in the Brooks Ghost 9 in Philadelphia.  Think I preferred the Brooks, but the data may be complicated by my Achilles issue.

There was a threat of rain but it never rained.  With an average temperature of 55 degrees and no burning sun, it was actually a great day to run.

With the threat of rain, however, I thought the crowd turn out was a little less than in recent years.  I didn’t actually count them, but it seemed like there were fewer people cheering me on.  The energy level just seemed more subdued.  Maybe I was distracted by my pain.

No really memorable signs along the way.  May the Course be with you.  Liked that.  The “If Donald Trump can run so can you” signs were out in full force.  It was funny.  Give it a rest.  Maybe you should tweak it . . . “If Donald Trump can WIN, so can you!”  Also, the “This is the worst parade ever!” and “Did you think they said RUM?” signs are a little passe.  One lady who I kept passing for some reason on and off–one of us was time warping–had a shirt that read “Have you hugged your lawyer today?”  I have not.

I’m not saying I will never run another marathon, but I may need to be senile to do that.

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fullmoon

“We’re headed for that small space station.”

“That’s no space station . . . . that’s a full moon!”

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU!

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You would think that with those long legs I would win every race!

Shadow

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Picture it.

2018.  Applebee’s in the mall.

My girlfriend has forgotten her reading glasses.  This is nothing new.

But as I looked out across the mall from the restaurant window, I spied with my little eye a Hallmark store.  Surely they have reading glasses.  You can get them for a couple of bucks at the Dollar Store.  Most pharmacies.  Wal-Mart.  The list goes on.

We were still waiting for another couple so I opined, “I wonder if the Hallmark store would have reading glasses?”

The granddaughter of another couple dining with us assured me that they do.

I asked my girlfriend, “Do you want me to get you some glasses?  Or should I read you the menu?”

So I was off for glasses!

Quest

I entered the Hallmark Store.  I was slightly distracted by a display of Penn State paraphernalia, but I resisted the urge to buy something blue and white which is not used for reading and instead headed directly to the clerk behind the cash register.

“Do you sell reading glasses?”

She informed me they do not.  She was sorry.  (Didn’t look sorry if you ask me.) But apparently life sucks sometimes.

Now it just so happens that there is a Lens Crafters optical shop next door.  As an eye surgeon who owns his own optical dispensary, I had a vague anxiety about entering this establishment.  I feared a patient of mine would see me and then wonder why I was shopping for glasses at a competitor’s store.

But my alternative is to return to Applebee’s defeated and without the glasses.  I would not be defeated!

Len Crafters does not sell over-the-counter reading glasses.  Even our optical shop sells OTC cheater readers.

I exited the store dejected.  I tried to sort through my options, but I kept thinking of that Penn State stuff I saw in Hallmark.  I could drive home, which is closer than driving to my optical shop.  That just smelled of loser right there.

I looked up and saw Sears.  Could they?  Would they?

A clerk sent me to Sears Optical.  They don’t sell them either!

“Why not,” I asked incredulously.

“Because you can buy them at any pharmacy, or Target.”

Well that’s a fine how-do-you-do.  Let’s just leave the fate of the presbyopic world to the Targets and Wal-Marts.

As I turned away in defeat, a thought occurred to me.  Maybe a bookstore would have reading glasses.  “Is there a bookstore that might sell reading glasses?”

Her eyes lit up.  “Yes.  Barnes & Noble’s has them.”

Now gentle reader, I fully know you don’t know where I am–other than a Sears Optical which could be located in any mall anywhere.  So let me enlighten you.  This mall does not have a Barnes & Noble.  The mall across town closer to my office has a Barnes & Noble.

Trying desperately not to strangle this woman, I asked through clenched teeth, “Is there any bookstore in THIS mall?”

She thinks for a moment.  “There’s a Walden Books.  Here on the first floor.  But I don’t know if they are still in business.”

I am defeated.  Just for the record, the First National Bank besides Sears doesn’t sell reading glasses either.

I walk the walk of shame back towards Applebee’s with no glasses in hand when the granddaughter catches up with me.  Apparently they were all watching as I went from store to store.

“Why didn’t you buy them in Hallmark?” she asked me.

“The lady told me they don’t sell them.”

Apparently, granddaughter, being a teenager, KNOWS the mall.

We head back to the Hallmark store.  She shows me a basket in the back filled with reading glasses.  Cue the heavenly music.  The basket is virtually glowing.  I’m glowing.

I put the glasses down by the register and the woman who told me they didn’t sell them looked at me in astonishment and asked, “where did you get these?”

“Not from Sears optical.  Or the bank.  Back there.”  I point.  We all look.  “In a basket.”

She looked at them in disbelief.

But I’m on this.  “So since you don’t actually sell reading glasses, I suppose I can just take these without paying?”

She laughed.  Ka-ching!  Palmed those glasses into a bag more deftly than David Copperfield could make the Statue of Liberty disappear.

“That’ll be $24.95.”

“Are you kidding me?  We sell them for less.  You can get them in the Dollar Store for a buck or two.”

“Do you want these?”

I can’t believe I just paid a store almost $25 for something they don’t even sell.

But the Quest was a success!

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My track record with dining out at restaurants is not impressive.

I once tried to order a 99 cent Whopper at Wendy’s.  I had it in my mind–I saw the advertisement for 99 cent whoppers and had to have one–but apparently Wendy’s won’t let me have it my way.  I paid more than 99 cents for a burger that was NOT a whopper.

I ordered coconut shrimp and lobster at Outback–and ended up with an empty lobster tail.

I once paid $48 for a coke.  The drink–not the drug.

And there was a “fine dining” experience (you know, you go to a place where you can’t wear blue jeans and they require a tie) that involved bok choy, enoki mushrooms and consommé.  I still think they were making that shiitake up.

Today we were meeting my daughter at TGI Friday’s even though it is Sunday.  I’m sorry.  It throws me off balance as well.  It’s like going into Five Guys, and there are aren’t Five Guys behind the counter.  (I’m pretty sure one of them was a woman!)  But I digress.

She had given me a list of restaurant choices that she would be happy with and asked me to pick one.  I specifically picked Friday’s because they serve Kona Big Wave Golden Ale.

So when the waiter took our drink order, guess what I ordered?  Well he brought the other drinks out and said he had to get my Heaven in a glass from the bar.  Minutes later, he appears without my Golden Ale.  They are out of it.

I should have got up and left right then and there.  But I had already looked at the menu and saw a new Philly Steak Burger.  It comes with an egg roll on top!  I kid you not!  Someone asked themselves how you could make a burger even more unhealthy than it already is, and somebody came up with the idea of tacking on extra stuff outside the bun.  Brilliant!

SteakBurger

I want that!  So I ordered it.

THIS . . . is what I got.

MyBurger

Do you see an egg roll stapled to my bun?  Dude?  Where’s my egg roll?  Is this going to be like Outback all over again when the waiter argues that I already ate the lobster even though the tail shell was clearly empty!

He informs me they don’t have the egg rolls in stock.

I am so bummed I ended up drowning my sorrows in a half piece of Tennessee Whiskey Cake, because quite frankly, paying $8 for the full piece just seems like highway robbery.

After I got home, I was still stewing over not getting my Kona beer and then not getting the sandwich that was advertised.  It was then that I wondered if perhaps I paid for the sandwich with an egg roll but did not get the egg roll?  I also thought it might have been nice if the manager would have comped my dessert in lieu of payment for an egg roll that didn’t exist.

That’s when I discovered that CORY–our waiter, bless his little heart–had actually comped me my burger without telling me.  For the record, I did tip him well–I rounded up the 20% recommendation to make the number come out round, but that was based on the adjusted bill.  After all, it wasn’t his fault the bar was out of my beer and someone in purchasing forgot to order the egg rolls.

And now I feel worse.

I should have gone to Denny’s.

Oh wait,  That didn’t work out well for me either . . .

CoffeeCup

That’s my coffee . . .but that’s NOT my lipstick!

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So I was waiting in the waiting room (well, what else would you do in a waiting room?–it was done in the Waiting Room, by Colonel Mustard, with a Wrench . . .) and saw that the establishment was kind enough to offer coffee to their waiting patrons.

Alas,

Addwater

Where am I going to find water?

I turned around . . .

Aquarium

Voilà!

Alas . . .

fishinpot

The coffee looks a little weak.  I think Dory forgot something!

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Last Spring, I bought an old historic house.  This is realtor speak for “money pit.”  My house would make Tom Hanks and Shelley Long proud!  I have already blogged about my pond pool, but since then we have added a new roof–at one point all five skylights were leaking when it rained.  An old cast iron drain pipe from the upstairs bathroom needed to be replaced, but not before it leaked into the basement and created a mold problem.

Finally, winter came.  The pool is closed.  The roof is on.  The skylights no longer allow cascades of water to fall inside my house.  The pipe is fixed.  A closet and ceiling were torn to the bare bones to mediate mold.  I can now sit in front of my fire and enjoy the house I bought.

Until the master bath toilet backed up.

I tried a plunger.  That worked as well as duct tape on the skylights.

Was it just coincidence that the water was backing up when the temperatures had been in the single digits for a few days?

The master bath is huge and non-historic, having been redone back in the 1980’s.  It has two toilets–his and hers–three sinks, and a large walk-in shower and steam room.  (The steam generator does not work.  Imagine that!)

When you use any of the sinks, the water backs up in the toilet.  The shower is fine.  It has a separate drain pipe–the one we already replaced.

The plumber insisted it can’t be a frozen pipe.  Four inch pipes don’t freeze, and we have no other frozen pipes.  He thinks there is a blockage somewhere, but would need to come back later with other, presumably more expensive, equipment.

So with nothing else better to do, I decided to do some investigating.

Here is where the drain pipes come down into the basement.

Basement

The darker pipe is from the shower.   It’s cold in this room but not pipe freezing cold.

So where does that pipe go?

morepipe

Behind that cabinet?  How interesting!  There’s actually part of the cabinet cut out to access the pipe.

wallpipe

Is it going through the wall????  WTH!  The blue packing material isn’t really insulating very well.  There’s a draft here.

So I head outside into the frozen tundra to see what is going on.

The hole in the wall should come out somewhere underneath this brick patio.

Porch

So let’s take a peek . . .

Pipe

Holy Crap!  The drain pipe actually comes outside the house and then back into the basement!  No wonder it froze!  Who in the wide, wide world of sports would have thought it was a good idea to run indoor plumbing outside?  Maybe you can get away with that in Phoenix or Miami, but not here in central Pennsylvania!

And in further confirmation, once the temperature rose above freezing, the toilet and sinks worked normally again.

Did the previous owner never notice this?  I’m sure it must have been below freezing at some point in the last thirty years.

It has subsequently froze a second time.  I hope spring comes quickly!

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