Cyberpunk 
Although not technically cyberpunk, even though it does meet many of the criteria, Stephen King's novel Cell has given me interest in the that genre. The campus library doesn't have any books by Neal Stephenson, a "god" as one of the characters (a kid) in Cell says, so I checked out Holy Fire by Bruce Sterling. If I like it, I may continue on with cyberpunk. Being somewhat of a technophobe, I may like (or may not, lol) some of this stuff. I've read a good bit of classics over the years and now I it looks like my reading may shift gears a little.

My technophobia is necessarily not a fear of technology (I would not characterize myself as a Luddite) but rather a fear of what people, average people and people in power, including, governments, will do with it and the inevitable overdependence people develop. And, yes, I know, I myself am guilty - I like the Internet, computers, electricity and running water to my home, automobiles, etc. That being said, I don't own a GPS device (a cell phone is close and can track you but not like GPS although many have that feature available now) because it's all too creepy and completely unnecessary; at least for most average people. Maps and a basic knowledge of the US highway system are good enough and, well they used to be at least, idiot-proof. Ok, I'm going off on a tangent too much here. This topic best served for another day.

By the way, Cell is the first Stephen King novel I've read. It's an easy read and does pretty well in the horror category.

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Sidelined 
...but not entirely. A bout of bursitis has sprung up below my left kneecap. It's not painful to walk or bike nor to even run but it is painful to kneel. But, when I do run, it jiggles a little and both irritates me and irritates my knee a little. Listening to and feeling your knee "flap" is difficult to overcome when running. I've still been biking and did an 18-miler last week and biked to school two days too and fit another 12-miler in there for about 53 miles on the bike for the week. Maybe I should take it easy a bit but that's difficult to do. I hope to start running again soon as I have some longer races in mind in September and October.

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Zapped - Again 
For the second time in three years, a lightning strike near (as very damn close), my house took out my home telephone, cable modem, and a router. I wasn't home but one neighbor said it appeared to hit in the field behind my house and another neighbor said he saw a bluish light as it struck. The strike occurred Saturday and they came today to fix the phone and replace the modem.

This time, it also took out a laptop PC and the PCI slots on the motherboard of my main PC along with the NIC. Good cards no longer work in any PCI slot so now I have to to use the onboard LAN. Of course, everything, save the router, was plugged into a Belkin surge protector, which still works. The router shared an outlet with my PC speakers, which still work too. Lightning is funny and I don't mean ha-ha funny.

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4-Miler 
On this D-Day plus 23741, I did the Freedom to Liberty run in 44:45. The time was slightly better than the four miles I ran last weekend which was in 45:36. As is the case when I run, The first 1-2 miles are the hardest. After about mile 2.5 or so I finally get into a groove and stick it out. I am still toying with trying to do a two-person relay 1/2 M or maybe even be a relay leg of full M in September. I am feeling more confident as I run more organized runs. Nothing else is on the docket yet; perhaps I'll see if there is a 5K coming up and I might be looking at doing another 4-miler in July.

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33:40 - give or take 
...is about what I ran the 5K I ran this Memorial Day morning. I didn't look at my watch when I stopped but I stopped it about 10 seconds after I got out of the chute. I hit mile 1 at 10:06, mile 2 around 21:00, and then it got a little rough but I made it and ran the whole time. I even passed a few people, and about 75% of the runners passed me. I was pleased with the time, which works out to be about a 5.5 mph pace and a 10:52 mile average - nice improvements over my first 5K. With my second in the bag, I have a 4 miler on June 6 and then, possibly, looking at doing a 1/2 m------- in Pittsburgh in October - as tag-team with my wife. Right now, 6.55 miles looms impossible for me but if I keep up running over the summer (tough to do when the bike is so tempting), maybe, just maybe, I can do it.

Running a 5K on Memorial Day gives one time to remember and reflect, which I made sure to do. Memorial Day seems to have lost some meaning which is why I agree with this editorial. I think a fixed date is more of a sign of respect than a flexible date that is meant to give us a three-day weekend.

I don't know what men and women who have died in combat would want us to do on this day. I think that many of them would like us to like our lives as we do and be thankful for what we have. So it's ok to picnic and enjoy time with friends and family, as long we do not forget them and be grateful for what we have. Often, I think more of the families of the fallen; the void in their lives, the hardship; the grief. I made sure to take time to reflect on that as well.

Update - the official results have been posted online and they have me at 33:28.55. Looks like for my next 5K I will have to strive for breaking 33:00.

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Bike 


I finally took a picture of my bike. Our camera was broken and we finally got a new one. So, pictured is my bike at about 200 miles; not bad for six weeks. Likely I'll put on more as the weather warms and I am less busy. I am toying with the idea of biking in the Bike-a-Thon Philadelphia in July. I would need to put road tires on it to do that though. If I do enter it, I would like to try the 54 mile option. The 21.3 would be easy and require no extra preparation but the 54 would. I would like to do a smaller one 20-30 mile first as prep so maybe one day in a month or so I'll be able to get away for a few hours and try a 25 miler on my own: pack a snack, basic tools, cellphone, and vamoosh!

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Bike to Work Week 
This week is Bike to Work Week and May happens to be National Bike Month. So, I did it today; I biked to work. Since I just had to administer a final exam, I loaded up my backpack with the basics I needed. The commute was a mere 11.5 miles round trip which is easy, but the roads, the roads - belong to the cars. Some parts were wide enough with a shoulder and some the shoulder was pockmarked with holes and craters and eroded blacktop. I took the back way but one stretch, closest to the college, was the busiest with traffic and there was little leeway on the sides. I prefer the bike paths, for sure, but the bike path doesn't lead directly to the college. But, I did enjoy the ride - any excuse for me to get on the bike.

I plan on doing this once a week during summer - late May to early July. Good for the body. Use less gasoline; I figure about half gallon's worth, which could save me as much as $2 a week. Good to do my part for a greener earth (I do much more than bike, BTW). More people should bike to work if distance permits and, if for nothing else, to take better care of their bodies.

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More of the Runs 
Locally we've seen quite a bit of global raining of late and it looks like we'll be stuck in this pattern at least through this weekend. As a result, I haven't had the bike out much; did a 10 miler on Sunday through some very light sprinkles but that's been it since early last week. I haven't been idle, though. I've been able to sneak in some runs and I'm now at the point that a 2.5 or 3 mile clip is easy to do. I'm getting faster, too. I am hitting the 1/2 mile mark regularly in just over 5:20 now, down from around 6:00, and I think I hit my peak pace between mile 2 and 3. I don't have a 1 mile marker tagged in my neighborhood yet, just a 1/2 at a certain stop sign one way and a certain house another, and I measure my runs by time: 22-25 min. is a 2-miler, 27-30 is a 2.5 and 34+ is 3+. I am also running another 5K on Memorial Day and then a 4-miler in early June. I hope to finish the latter in under 46:00. I am not ready for the "M" word yet nor even the 1/2 "M"; way out of my league now; although If I continue to progress, maybe someday I'll be able to consider it but not now. Right now, running is fun and easy and a heck of a lot more exercise than most Americans get.

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Fuji Nevada 3.0 
Well, I finally bought my new bike. I opted for the Fuji Nevada 3.0. I rode a few bikes and had narrowed my choices down to two: the Giant Rincon or the Fuji Nevada. Fuji is not as known for mountain bikes as Giant or Trek or Cannondale but I liked it a little more than the Giant when comparing how they felt when I rode them. I ordered the bike last Tuesday and picked it up on Friday. Friday was a rainy day and I didn't think I'd get a ride in but the rain broke by mid-afternoon so I was able to get it out for about six miles. I would have ridden it before I took it home but the rain prevented me from doing so. If so, I would have had the guy tighten up the front brakes. They are a little loose for my liking. I tried to tighten them myself but I ended up with a rub when I did. The bike has disc brakes and about six places you can stick an allan wrench into so I finally got the rub gone but I am back to square one. I will take it back soon to have that adjusted. My guess is that he left them loose on purpose. I haven't hit it enough to give a thorough evaluation yet but today is looking good - 60F and no wind like yesterday.

update (11pm 04/05) - I did 17 miles on the bike today. Mostly paved bike path but some gravel and some dirt and mud too. In gears 3-7 and 3-8 the chain rubs a little in the front. Getting into 3rd requires holding the shift lever a little longer but it's not anything major. Other than that, everything went fine. I didn't bottom out the fork but it looks like I maxed out around 1.25 inches or so judging by where the dust ring begins. I like it. My legs are sore. When I do a 30 or 40 miler this summer remind me not to do a 5K the day before.

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35:16.50 
That's what I ran the 5K in this morning. That's slightly better than a 12 minute mile and good for about a 5.2 mph average. I hit the first mile at 11:46. The race wasn't too hard but the weather was brutal - low 40's but WINDY; felt more like February than April. But, I did it.

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Ready for the 5K 
I am ready for my first official 5K this coming Saturday. I have run about four unofficial 5K's over the past month - two on the treadmill and at least two 3+ mile routes through the neighborhood. My plan this week is: did the gym yesterday (2.5 on the treadmill and some lifting), bike today (about 7 mi), rest Wed., gym Thursday (light - 1.5-2, then lift), rest Friday with a dinner of enriched pasta. Saturday, I plan on a banana and maybe a fiber bar for breakfast around 7:30-8 and the race is slated for around 9.

Weather looks favorable - low of 40 Friday night so that means probably high 40's to 50 or so at race time, no rain in the forecast either.

So, I am definitely ready. My goal is to complete it in under 37:00.

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New Bike - Soon 
I look to upgrade from my $125 Sears bike that I bought in 1996. It has served me well and I will keep it as a backup. I test-rode a Trek 3900 the other day and it was nice and I may buy one. Other models I am considering are the Cannondale F9, Gary Fisher Tarpon, and Giant Boulder (an odd-sounding name for a bike). I am also scouting for used bikes on Craigslist and Ebay but will likely buy something new. Some general research has unveiled that Trek and Gary Fisher (Trek owns Gary Fisher) bikes are likely made in China by Giant, a Taiwanese company, and Giant makes most of their bikes in Taiwan and China. So, I may end up just going with Giant. I would like to ride one or two before I commit but I haven't ruled out Gary Fisher or Trek entirely. I also want to test-ride the F9 too, a lower-priced Cannondale which means it's contracted out and probably made in the same plant as the Treks and Fishers. I will likely have my new bike in a few weeks, just in time for this early-spring-but-still-frigid weather to break. I look forward to prime biking season and can't wait to get my new toy and go out and play.

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