Imperdibles and the Tienda de los Chinos

It sounds a little too, Anne Tyler/ Accidental Tourist, but International travels is more easily accomplished knowing a few key phrases.  Just being able to say thank you goes a long way.  In China, that is xiexie, in parts of Switzerland and France, merci and when coming across Romanians working in your hotels in England,  mulțumesc will evoke a smile.

20170204_125759SNOw and I landed in Spain this last weekend ahead of meetings and customer visits on Monday. Other than a pleasant conversation with the neighbor’s gardener a few months ago, I hadn’t fully interacted with another person in Spanish since the last time I visited Barcelona about 8 years ago. On this trip, I was able to engage with moderate effectiveness.

SNOw and I were picked up at the airport by a Blacklane and delivered to our hotel in Granollers, a small town, about 30 minutes outside of Barcelona.  We dropped our bags in our respective rooms and went to pick up bibs for La Mitja, the local race series.  SNOw was signed up for the 10K and I was in for the half-marathon.

We wandered the sleepy streets of Granollers and with help of the hotel map, Google and the very kind locals, found the way to Ruca Humbert where this small town’s version of an expo was held. Our swag bags consisted of two bags of uncooked pasta, some beverage in a box as well as a liter of household cleaner from the company sponsoring the race. I tried to communicate to the volunteers that I didn’t need any of these things (we were at the start of a ten-day journey) but they weren’t hearing any of it, so I took the heavy bag of goodies and figured I would sort it out later.

I picked up my bib and asked, well gestured curiously where the safety pins were to secure the bibs to our race shirts.  After a few gesticulations the volunteers told us there were no imperdibles.   I had never heard that word before.   I asked the lady to write it out for me as I knew I would not retain the word in my jet lagged state.   I asked her where I could buy imperdibles and she told me at the “tienda de los Chino”.  My mind was blown.  “Tienda de los Chinos?   The store of the Chinese?  Was this some type of human trafficking ring?  Why would there be a thing called the Tienda de los Chinos and why would they have imperdibles?  The conversation made no sense to me.  Eventually, I just asked here where the Tienda de los Chinos was and she told me there were three in the center of town.   I decided to move on from this kind and lovely lady at this point as I knew I had gotten all the information I was going to get.  As the race was the next morning, I knew we only had a few hours to find the imperdibles or we were going to have to find a creative way to keep our bibs on our persons during SNOw and my respective races.

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Statues at the Expo

We found out later in the week that the tienda de los Chinos is where you find anything miscellaneous or random and apparently if they don’t have it, they will have it the next day.   I also learned that anything the Chinos don’t have, the tienda de los Paki’s (Pakistanis) will.

On the main street of Grannollers, SNOw and I hit up a few stores  that looked like they might have imperdibles, but we kept being told that it would be muy dificil (very difficult) to find them.  Eventually, hunger overcame us and we stopped for lunch at one of the restaurants that didn’t shut down at 2pm for siesta.   After a very long lunch (as most meals are in Spain) I asked the lady behind the counter where I could find imperdibles.  She said, it would be difficil, but to try la tienda de los Chino.  It was good to get the same answer from a second source.  I asked directions and was taken outside and directed toward the tattoo shop way down the road and then two streets beyond.

20170204_145937About one block up the road, my eye caught a glimpse of two ladies sitting under an easy-up with a table of dried food products.  Maybe 4.5 seconds later, the back of my brain completed the translation of the sign which sat in front of them.  I gleefully ran back to them while SNOw looked on at me incredulously, with the exact same “WTF is he doing now ” look that my travel companions OFTEN (possibly always) express.  I asked the ladies if they were collecting food and they were, for refugees.  I gladly handed them by bag of pasta, box of drink and even the liter of cleaner, because refugees must need cleaning supplies, right?   The ladies were delighted and I was happy and that problem was done and dusted.

SNOw and I continued our journey up the road to find imperdibles.  At the end of the two blocks we weren’t sure which way to go, and I was about to go the wrong direction when I saw a lady walking her dog.   Por favor, donde esta la tienda de los chinos?   She pointed two shops up and I said gracias.

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Grannollers architecture

We walked into the store and just inside the door was a teen-age Chinese girl with blonde (OK, not blonde, really just yellow) hair.  I asked her for imperdibles and they were immediately behind her.  She was selling them for  70 euro cents and I was happy to pay quadruple.   I took the imperdibles to the front desk where the very Chinese mother of the teen was seated.   I paid for my imperdibles and the Chinese mother said, gracias.  On automatic pilot, standing in a tienda de los Chino in Spain, I looked at her smiled and responded with “xiexie”.   All four of us busted up laughing.

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Imperdibles
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Imperdibles and the Tienda de los Chinos

Race Recap – 2016 Carlsbad Marathon. Part I – The Race

Summary: Good event. There are long periods of mild uphill climb and the ocean view was worth the price of admission.

Key Information

Race Name The Tri-Cities Medical Center Carlsbad Marathon & Half
Location Carlsbad, California
Elevation Profile The first 9 miles are uphill at a 0.6% grade.
Race Type
Out and back.
Organization Excellent
Terrain Street
Water Stations Sufficient
Highlights Lots of miles along  the Pacific ocean
Other Events Half marathon
Good for Beginners? Yes

Introduction
There were  7 minutes of transition from having no awareness of the Carlsbad Marathon to receiving the email confirming my registration.

The summer prior to running the race, SugarMagnolia (Sugar for short) posted on social media that she had signed up for the 2016 Carlsbad Marathon. I was shocked because her first marathon ten plus years ago was a horrid experience and she swore off  the 26.2 mile distance (with actual swear words) .  I immediately went to the race website with the intention to calendar the day, so I could come down and support her along the route.  Next thing, I texting Sugar to ask if it would be OK to run alongside her for the race and then boom, there we were standing  out on the streets of Carlsbad at an unholy hour on a January morning.  For your reference, Sugar’s race recap is here.

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Elevation Profile

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Elevation Profile.  Grade of 0.6% through Mile 9.

The Course

The most important thing to know about this race is that that elevation profile looks much worse than it actually is.  Miles 6 to 9 are a mild climb, but the rest of the race is as straight forward as marathons go.

The temperature was about 45F at race start.  I started out some thermal Nike tights, a long sleeved running shirt, hat and gloves.   By the time I hit the ocean and the sun came up I knew I was over dressed.   I yanked up my sleeves, packed away the gloves and hat and was just a tad warm the rest of the day.   If I were to run this race again, I would do it in shorts and a light long-sleeve shirt and just be cold for the first hour.

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On the way to the Ocean

The race starts inland and then runs through Carlsbad down to the ocean then head south along Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). The ocean in the morning was absolutely beautiful.

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At mile 5, the marathoners make a turn up Palomar Airport Road and take on an up hill climb. The three miles leading up to mile 9 are at 1.6% grade.   It’s nothing daunting, but it’s not to be taken lightly either.

After the turn around near Camino Real, there is a short hill to climb, then it’s down hill most of the way back to PCH.   At that point, we joined the half marathoners who were chugging southbound along the coast.

There are some very gradual rolling hills along the coast. Nothing daunting.   The thing that I was not ready for was the half-marathon turn around which happened a ways before the turn around for the marathoners.   The race thinned out at that point, which made things a little more difficult for me mentally.   After the marathoner turn-around it was an 8 mile run back to the start, most of it back to the ocean.

This was a great race and probably one of the few I would repeat.  I would definitely want to run the half, just because it is such a fun and beautiful race.

My Experience

Part II to follow.

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Number 7 in the books!
Race Recap – 2016 Carlsbad Marathon. Part I – The Race

Prisoners Here of Our Own Device

When I was little, I remember my mom and I being fogged in at Heathrow Airport in London, waiting for a TWA flight to take us home to New York. I remember people straggled  everywhere about the airport.  At 3 or 4 years old, I was perplexed because there was no place to sit down, or sleep.  I don’t remember much else about that visit, other than my mom explaining we had to fly, “the long way home”.

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Their minds are Facebook twisted.  They got the Snapchat filters.  They got a lot virtual boys, they call friends.  How they sit in the courtyard, to top off charge. Some post to remember, some tweet to forget.

Those memories came rushing back to me on short a layover in Houston last year.  As I transitioned from one section of the airport to another, I found travelers sprawled out on the floors and leaning against the walls.  In this case, they weren’t stuck between hither and yon waiting for the weather to clear, they were seeking charges for their devices.   I wondered how many of these people are charging for immediate need vs compulsion.

Wherever you are headed this new year, stay safe.

Prisoners Here of Our Own Device

2016 In Summary: 12 Months, 12 Pictures

The premise is simple: Present 12 pictures to describe the highlights of the year. No using pictures from previous blog posts. It doesn’t have to be one picture per month, but try…. Go!

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January: Pacific Ocean ~6am During the Carlsbad Marathon
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February: At the finish line of the always brutal Mission Gorge Trail Race
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February : Predawn Run in Suzhou, China
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May: Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
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May: View of the Brooklyn Bridge from the One World Trade Center
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August: Giants at Philly’s.  When Steve tells a story, everyone listens.
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September: Introduction to Daphne in England.   She was not digging the noise her brothers were making.
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September: In front of my second favorite piece of art in Europe. Oslo Marathon just finished, catching a plane to Copenhagen for the race the next day.
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October: Whittier Spooktakular 5K in California.
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October: Partying with the Whittier College Class of ’86, those old fogies.
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November: Little guy was having none of this wedding thing.
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December: Christmas Eve with the Family
2016 In Summary: 12 Months, 12 Pictures

Putting Tango Down

They live their lives within the span of ours.  Their time with us is short, but it is not insignificant in duration or effect.   They rely on us solely for their well-being and we are entrusted with the care of their lives.

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Tango Keeps Vigil Over The Child

During the ride home from the animal shelter, our new puppy, Tango, pooped on my suede backpack.  We laughed at the ingratitude of this newly adopted member of our family. A dozen years later Tango developed an intestinal problem which left him spending much of his days and nights trying to poop the smallest dollops.  He wasted away to skin and bone until finally, we made the decision to put him down.

Friends would comment about how friendly and chill Tango was, in truth he was a booger-snot. Within the first few months, my wife was giving the Child a bath and Tango wanted attention.  My wife kicked him out of the bathroom and so he ate the couch.  He was jealous and a bit retaliatory that way.   Then there was the time that he wanted to go outside while we were all busy watching a live TV show.  So the dog squatted in front of the TV, looked at us and peed on the carpet.

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Dinner in Laguna 2015

Tango was also a trash digger. We would no sooner leave the house and he would start this routine of digging in every trash can in the house.  Once after we had all gotten in the car, I had to run back in the house, and as I opened the door, Tango walked in front of me and without missing a beat dropped the trashed paper plate he had in his mouth at my feet, like it was a gift for me.

Like everyone else in the house Tango was independent and able to hang out and do his own thing.  That being said, on my work-from-home days, he would always get up early and stay with me, upstairs on the couch while I worked at my desk.  The rest of the week, I IMG_4670didn’t really exist to him, unless of course I was feeding him, getting in the refrigerator or eating dinner.

Around October of 2014, we noticed that Tango was losing weight.  We took him to the vet, but there were no signs of any problems.  As time went by he wasted away to skin and bone.  He would eat everything in front of him,he wasn’t lethargic, we just couldn’t keep any weight on him.  Then as time progressed I noticed that there were fewer and fewer of his “jewels” to clean up in the back yard.

As his conditioned worsened, he would have false sense of needing to go to the bathroom. At first, he would need to go out at about 2am.  Either my wife or I IMG_2639would get up and let him out and then wait for him to come back in.  Later he would go out more and more frequently during the night.  Eventually, one of us would end up sleeping on the couch near the back door  so we could let him go out as he needed to. Near the end, he would need to go in and out four or five times a night.  My wife and I were trading off nights on dog duty.  It was difficult.

I came home from Europe on a Thursday last June, knowing that I would be putting my dog down at 10:30am on Saturday morning.  He couldn’t control his bowels anymore and was soiling everything he rested on.

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Mid-OC Marathon 2015

Thursday night we put him outside in the back yard to sleep.  He scratched at the door to come in a few times, but he we couldn’t bring him in.

On Friday night, Tango and I camped out in a tent in the back yard.  He had some accidents in the tent overnight, but we cleaned things up and went back to sleep.  That Saturday morning was painfully sad. I ran to the store and picked him up all his favorite foods and I made a stop at Del Taco and bought him a bacon and egg burrito for his last meal.

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Skin and bones

Being in the waiting room at the vets, with the other animals amplified the sadness.  Laura and I were both sad and Tango just seemed miserable and tired from lack of consistent sleep.  I just kept holding my dog in my arms,   I let Laura hold him a few times, but after the administration of the sedative I only set him down for his final injection. I picked him and held him in his final moments. I swaddled his lifeless body much like I swaddled by daughter when she was a newborn; It was the only thing I could do for him.  I held him and I kept holding him. Then here came a point where I just had to leave his swaddled lifeless body on the table and walk away.

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Saying Goodbye

The days after were filled with mixed emotions.  My sister was coming into town and we were celebrating my daughter’s high school graduation.   All the while there was something missing from my life.  There are routines one gets into when having a pet and no longer having those routines was gutting.  I continually questioned if I did the right thing.  I wanted God to somehow validate my decision.

A year later,  I still miss his him.  I miss the exact cadence of his nails click click clicking across the tile and how when he would make exactly seven barks in succession when someone came to the door.  I miss the way that he would come to the acknowledge my return from a long trip, but never more than for a few seconds.  I miss how at about 8:30pm at night, he would get up walk across the floor and go crawl into my daughter’s bed and just go to sleep.  I miss the eight and ten mile walks with him.

We’ve adopted a new puppy, he’s not a plug-and-play replacement, he’s a different soul, with different strengths and weaknesses; and we love him dearly.

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Baxter

 

 

 

Putting Tango Down

2015 In Summary: 12 Months, 12 Pictures

The premise is simple: Present 12 pictures to describe the highlights of the year. No using pictures from previous blog posts. It doesn’t have to be one picture per month, but try…. Go!

014January – 15Km run in Dubai.  It was in the high 70s.  At this point, I was quite dirty from the sand.  This was my first trip to the UAE.  It reminded me of Vegas.

006March – On a Tokyo Subway.  I had a few good days in Tokyo for work. I prefer to take the trains.  It’s much more interesting.

10509735_815254515176642_2156423780374123058_nApril – Road Trip to Vegas for a cheer competition.  A view from my rear view mirror.

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April – Touring Colleges in New York. Five campuses in 4 days.  Family pictures in Roscoe New York.

 

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May – Mile 16 of the OC Marathon. The family came to cheer me on.

 

 

001June – Tango’s his last moments.  He went to sleep in my arms.

IMG_8837June – The Child graduates High School.  My sister and brother-in-law came from England and we spent the rest of the month on the road.

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July –  During an 8 mile run. Picture taken 50 years to the minute after my birth.  Also, day 1 training for the Las Vegas Rock & Roll Marathon.

IMG_0405August – The Child leaves for school in New York.   She is studying nursing.

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October – Trail Run with United LA

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October – Temecula Half Marthon.   Did not realize there would be brutal hills for breakfast, but they were quite delicious.

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November – Chilling at the Bridge to Nowhere

2015 In Summary: 12 Months, 12 Pictures

A Case for the Burning of Books

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To the horror of my bibliophiles friends everywhere, I am going to make a modest, yet heretical proposal that we should start taking certain books out of circulation and toss them in any of 1) the fire, 2) the recycling bin or 3) the trash.

Some treat books as sacred objects and once we bring them into our homes, we feel we have an obligation to effectuate a joyous experience reading them.  This is all well and good if the book jives with our personal tastes, but what if it doesn’t?

If reading for pleasure but not actually deriving any pleasure was a waste of joy, a waste of life and a waste of opportunity why continue trying to read that book?

If you have ever found yourself with three or more books on the side of your bed, ask yourself why does that happen?  Odds are, you are not enjoying one or more of those books and have at some level moved on; except for that belief system about the sacred/social obligation keeps that book on the nightstand and keeps us trapped, feeling that we have to finish it.

We start rationalizing and saying things like,  “I’ll finish it later”, “maybe it will get better”, or  “Carol gave it to me, I have to finish it”.  Unless that book is owned by a library, pick it up off the floor and discard it as soon as you realize you aren’t advancing the reading of it.  Free yourself of the encumbrance and open yourself up some other book you might actually enjoy (this applies to personal relationships too, but that’s a blog  for another day).

Some of you will say, “oh, I can’t get rid of a book, I will put in the garage and donate it to the library or give it to some charity to sell”.  Don’t waste your time and energy, dispose of it immediately.   There is an abundance of books in circulation, never pass on a bad book! Donate or sell only good books you enjoyed. Consider it a form of literary natural selection.

The world won’t end.  You will only be create room for something better in your life at the cost of something you weren’t enjoying.

Happy New Year.

 

A Case for the Burning of Books