Saturday, March 31, 2007

Day 323 -- Jogger's Progress

Time10 days, 16 hrs, 19 min
2 days, 7 hrs, 25 min

Wow, what a month! This was the longest month ever! Last June, I ran 138.8 miles, and it took me 23 running days to do it. Of course, this is no surprise, since I'm building up mileage in preparation for the half marathon, and, eventually, the marathon. I should pass 150 this next month. There are five Sunday long runs, and three of them will be longer than I've ever run before.

The crummy weather continues. In addition to the wind, there was intermittent rain, which was heavy at times. But I made 8 miles in just over an hour and eight minutes, which is almost 8:30 per mile. Not bad, under the conditions. Tomorrow, I'll run much longer, but much slower.

Update: Hmm...I typed this up on Saturday, but somehow failed to post it. I'm posting it now, just for the record.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Poorly Motivated

I have a lot to do this weekend, but I don't feel very well motivated. I have grading, grading, and more grading. I have exams to write for both classes. I have to come up with a project for the leadership class for Tuesday. I have to complete an application for professional development funds. I have to prepare slides for a talk I'm giving at a meeting in April. And I've spent most of the evening playing computer games.

It doesn't help that I didn't run this morning. I've been taking Fridays off, just like my schedule says that I should. But that means that I don't get my endorphin fix, and I kind of sleepwalk through the whole day.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Day 322 -- Riverton

This is the bridge over the Republican River in Riverton. No indication of what what Democrats are supposed to do.

I ran an easy four miles today.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Day 321 -- Red Cloud, Nebraska

This is a little out of order. Red Cloud is east of Inavale, and I'm now slightly west. But it had a nice web page, and it is the childhood home of Willa Cather. (That's her house, below.) So why not stop in? Also, in the web page, they boast, "Unlike many towns whose borders are marred and compromised by fast food stores and service shops, the Red Cloud townscape remains neatly self-contained." Well, how can I pass that up?

I ran eight miles today. I had planned out a route that was pretty hilly, especially in the first half. So, as if to punish me for my hubris, Mother Nature arranged for a nice brisk wind to run into. So it was quite a workout. Even so, I managed to run a brisk (if not spectacular) pace, and I felt pretty good, after.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Call me "Senator Jogger"

I have been elected to Faculty Senate for next year. This is not the result of any mad ambition on my part. Faculty Senate, for those of you not in the academic world, is not exactly the center of power in the institution. Mostly they pass advisory resolutions that are ignored by the administration and the Board of Regents. But they do a few things that are important enough that the department felt that we should have a representative. Our current representative is going off, and, since we are the largest department in the college, it was more or less a matter of deciding whom we wanted and throwing our weight behind that person. And I'm the lucky guy.

I've attended a few Faculty Senate meetings, and they are pretty much like any committee meetings, only moreso. Lots of talking in circles. Lots of posturing. Lots of picking over tiny little points in unimportant items, followed by quickly passing the important stuff at the end because everyone is tired and wants to go home.

I'm so looking forward to it.

Day 320 -- Inavale, Nebraska

On June 10, 2004, a tornado ripped through south central Nebraska, damaging, among other things, this doghouse near Inavale. As you can see, I was lucky that I wasn't there, because it probably would have knocked me for a loop, too.

I ran an easy 4.6 miles today. I took a new route, one that I haven't run in a while, so it was fun to have a little variety.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Day 319 -- Welcome to Nebraska

Eleven miles today carried me into Nebraska. I had originally planned to run the length of Kansas, but after 38 days and more than 250 miles, I was only halfway. So I'm cutting up into Nebraska, which is itself a long state, but at least I'm starting halfway across it. And if I get bored, I can drop back down into Kansas. This "Welcome to Nebraska" sign comes from Stephen-KaranConn at

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Day 318 -- Lebanon, Kansas

Near Lebanon, Kansas, is the geographic center of the 48 contiguous states. Well, sort of. This center was determined in 1918, by the highly scientific process of taking a big cut-out of the U.S. and determining its balance point. A modern computation would use computers, and take into account the curvature of the earth, and wouldn't be terribly near to this spot, probably. But, hey, here's the monument.

I ran seven miles today, in dense fog. The fog was so bad (and I picked a route that wasn't particularly well-lit) that for quite a while, I couldn't see far enough ahead to know where I was going. I didn't know when I was going to top the hill, or when the next curve was coming. That is running at its purest: just keep putting one foot in front of the other. It was fun, if a bit scary.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Day 317 -- The Edge of Nowhere

Tomorrow, I should make it to Lebanon, but for right now, I'm still out in the wheat field. But, as you can see, I've gotten a bit further.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Travels with Charlie

We went out today and picked up some more stuff from the Hunters' house. Mrs. H is now out of state. She packed up as much as she could and drove away on Monday. There were still a few things left that she wanted. Mr. H is supposed to get out of jail on Friday, so we got that stuff out and put it in storage.

We also adopted a couple of her pets. We have a cat, named Callie, and a turtle, named Charlie. Theoretically, they are going back to Mrs. H someday, but we aren't sure when or how. So, for now, we have added to our menagerie.

Going out to the Hunters' was very depressing for me. It was hard to look at this house, half torn apart, and think about my friends, and how they came to this point. I don't really like it when my friends get divorced. It always feels like, "There but for the grace of God go I." I know, we're not like them. In particular, I'm not like Mr. H. Still, it's not easy.

Day 316 -- Middle of Nowhere

I'm now north of Downs, heading for Lebanon. (You'll see why when I get there.) I'm smack in the middle of a great big empty. It was a stretch to get out to Portis, yesterday. Now, having visited Downs and Portis, and not wanting to visit Lebanon early, I've got no place in particular to stop. So I picked up this generic picture of a Kansas wheat field at this web site.

I ran 5.3 miles today. It was a little rainy, so I went indoors. With no wind, no hills, and no heavy clothes, I was able to pick up the pace a bit. It felt pretty good. I was pretty tired when I was done, but I recovered pretty quickly.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Day 315 -- Portis, Kansas

Portis, Kansas, is the boyhood home of Melvin Millar. Who was Melvin Millar, you ask? Well, he was the assistant to Fritz Freling when Porky Pig was created. Millar's nickname was "Tubby", and he was "probably" the inspiration for Porky. In any case, the people of Portis seem to think so. They have erected a plaque in his honor in the town square. (All this from, where it's more or less an aside in a rant about obesity in America.)

I ran an easy four miles today. I was a little sore after Sunday's long run, but not too bad. This week is supposed to be a step-back week, with shorter, slower runs and only an 11 miler on Sunday.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Day 314 -- Downs, Kansas

I'm passing a little north of Downs, Kansas, the home of the Kansas Storytelling Festival. This year's festival is April 27 and 28th, but I don't think that I'll wait. It looks like a lot of fun. I love a real good storyteller.

I ran fifteen miles today, another new all-time long. I skipped yesterday entirely, because I couldn't get away, with Mrs. Jogger out of the house. So I was sort of hoping that today's run would seem easier than last week, when I was coming off a seven miler on Saturday. No such luck. It was pretty tiring. I made it, but I remember clearly thinking "I'm going to run 11 miles further than this? In one day? Not a chance!" But I'll do it. I just need to work my way up.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

More Trouble

A while back, I wrote about the Hunter family, which is experiencing a messy divorce. When we got home from vacation yesterday, there was a message from Mrs. Hunter. Mr. Hunter is still in jail, and Mrs. Hunter is packing up everything that she can get her hands on to take to her home state. Since Mr. H will not be allowed to leave this state under the terms of his arrest, she feels like she'll be safe. So, we have spent much of the weekend helping with that little project.

Mrs. Jogger has been doing the most. She went out last night and worked until late, slept on the sofa, and got up this morning to work some more. I went out for a couple of hours this afternoon, which was all the more I could farm the Little Joggers out to friends.

Under ideal conditions, moving is a pain. And these are far from ideal conditions. Basically nothing was planned in advance. The house was the kind of mess that one usually associates with four kids, or with a category five hurricane. We are leaving half the stuff, and the only person who knows which half, Mrs. Hunter, is an emotional wreck. The three dogs were kept in their kennels, where they announced, with great gusto, that they were not happy. Fortunately, there were a lot of volunteers, but it was still not much fun.

Mrs. Jogger just got home, after literally 24 hours over there, and she's planning to go back tomorrow. The only thing I'm grateful for is that this isn't our crisis. It's making a very stressful weekend for us, but it will be stressful for the Hunters for a good long while.

Friday, March 16, 2007


I'm planning to run the half marathon in Madison in May. The American Cancer Society has a Charity Runner program associated with the Madison Marathon, and I decided to participate. I set a reasonably modest goal of $20 per mile. Which means that I would only need 20 people to donate $1 per mile. That's $13.10. Care to sponsor me? If so, go to my American Cancer Society fundraising page.

Random Bullets of Vacation Moments

  • We ate lunch on Wednesday at HuHot Mongolian Barbecue. The idea is that they set out a bunch of raw ingredients--meat, noodles, veggies, and lots of different sauces--and you put them together. Then they cook them while you wait. It's a cool idea, but I'd have to go back quite a few times before I got the hang of what went well together. My first plate was pretty good, but my second one lacked oomph.

    What struck me was what a rotten job these chefs had. Basically, they walk around in circles around this big, round grill. Dump out some food, separate out the meat to make sure it gets cooked, stir and chop, scrape it onto a plate, clean that section of the grill, and repeat. And repeat. And repeat. At probably 400 degrees. While everyone is watching. I had some crappy jobs when I was younger--washing dishes can be as hot as anything--but at least we were hidden in the back, where we could joke and swear and make fun of the customers. These guys just walk around and around while everyone's watching.

  • It was interesting to be without the Little Joggers for a while. Every decision was much easier. Fewer opinions to get, and fewer logistics to plan. And much, much quieter. Mrs. Jogger said something about practicing for Empty Nesting. I thought about it, and realized that with the littlest Little Jogger in Kindergarten, it's about 12 years until he leaves the nest. Since the first Little Jogger is just 12 years old, we're about halfway through our parenting years. There's a sobering thought.

    Even more sobering is the realization that it's only six years before the girls graduate from high school, and presumably leave the house. The six years between when I was 12 and when I was 18 were an eternity. I have a feeling that the next six years will go by in a blink.

  • The wall clock in our hotel room hadn't been reset for Daylight Savings, so I took it down and reset it. On the wall, behind the clock, was a sign that said something like "Thank you for purchasing this lovely work of art. A fee of $75 will be added to your bill. If you don't wish to purchase this item, please leave it on the bed, and we will rehang it for you." I managed to rehang it myself, but then I checked, and yes, all the other decorations, if they weren't bolted to the wall, had similar notes. It's a sad commentary on our society to think that such a note is necessary. Do people really steal artwork from hotels often enough that hotels simply expect it? I don't know, maybe these notes are industry standard, and I just never knew it, because I never before took anything off the walls.

  • We ate too much, and spent too much money, but it was worth it.

Days 312 and 313 -- Cawker City

Cawker City, Kansas lays claim to the World's Largest Ball of Twine, which gives me an excuse to drop in on The World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things. Erika recognizes four "World's Largest Balls of Twine." This is the largest created by a community. There's a more-or-less equally sized ball of twine in Darwin, Minnesota, created by one man over 29 years. However, the one in Cawker City is still growing!

I ran 7.2 miles in Grandma Jogger's town on Wednesday, before we left for our minivacation. Then on Thursday I ran about 5.3 miles in the University City where we went. I had only meant to go about four, but I got lost. I took a shortcut.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Jogger Unplugged

Mrs. Jogger and I are going to slip away tomorrow and leave the Little Joggers with Grandma. Two whole days with no kids. Alone. In a nice hotel (with a hot tub). Going to nice restaurants, and perhaps a museum or two. Heaven. We may never come back.

Part of the deal is that I'm leaving the laptop here, at Grandma's house. Two whole days with no internet. StyleyGeek did it, and I can, too. I'm planning to run a couple of times, but I won't blog them until Friday night, or maybe Saturday.

Adieu, Blogosphere. See you in a couple of days.

RfP Wednesday -- It's Tuesday. So Sue Me.

Longtime readers will remember a feature called "Reading for Pleasure Wednesdays," initiated last summer by Dr. Crazy. I kept it up for a while (longer than Dr. Crazy!) but it petered out when the school year started. Now that it's spring break, I've had time not only to finish a book, but to actually sit down and recommend it.

The book in question is Straight Man, by Richard Russo. This is definitely recommended reading for the academic community. (I have a feeling that I heard about it on an academic blog -- perhaps Dean Dad?) It's definitely a book that will make you feel good about your current academic situation -- at least it's not as bad as the English Department at West Central Pennsylvania University.

Russo's hero, William Henry Devereaux, Jr., is a charmingly funny "loose cannon," temporarily chair of the most dysfunctional department of the least prestigious university in the system. When things look bad, he just can't resist the urge to make them a little worse. He is philosophical about his role in an academic dead end, although he longs for much more. He's a master of subtle put downs. He consoles a young colleague with the prediction that the young man will get tenure, and, before he's done, be head of the department. In an aside to the reader, he remarks that if the young man realizes he's been insulted, he shows no sign.

A jacket blurb from E. Annie Proulx suggests that Russo's characters are "as real as we are," but I take exception. Russo's characters are just slight exaggerations of real people. They feel familiar, even as you realize that no one you know is quite that nutty. They are, all of them, multi-dimensional. They feel like real people, not stock characters.

The plot develops nicely. The whole thing takes place in about five days, as a fiscal crisis overtakes the University, leading, as always, to dissention and intrigue. In the middle of it all, Hank Devereaux managages to create a stir by threatening, before a local news crew (in town to cover the routine ground breaking of a new building) to "kill a duck a day" until he gets a budget. In the course of things, he had to deal with a recall vote, his daughter's marital crisis, his father's imminent return, and his own medical misfortune. At the end, there are no real loose ends, but it doesn't feel like Russo has gone out of his way to wrap things up neatly.

On the whole, I enjoyed the book, and I'll be looking for more from this author.

technorati tag:

Day 311 -- Glen Elder

Glen Elder State Park seems like a nice place to visit. The web site boasts "nearly unlimited recreational opportunities", which seems to be a bit of hyperbole. But there's fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, even hunting. (I hope that the hiking and the hunting are kept separate!)

I ran a fairly easy 4.5 miles today. I was pretty stiff after Sunday's long run, but I loosened up after a couple of miles. It's beautiful weather, so it was a nice day for a run.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Day 310 -- Beloit

Being from southern Wisconsin, I'm reasonably familiar with Beloit, but this ain't it. Beloit, Kansas, has just 4100 people (Beloit, Wisconsin, has 36,000), but it's the county seat of Mitchell County.

I ran 14 miles today, the longest I've ever run. It was a beautiful day for it. I actually ran in shorts and, for the second half, a short-sleeved shirt. It was simply gorgeous. I ran almost 36 miles for the week, which is the longest of the year.

In Realityland(tm), we are in Grandma Jogger's town. We got up early this morning and drove here, instead of going to church. Pretty much as soon as we got here, I went out for a run. The first 8 or 10 miles felt pretty good. It was nice to stretch my legs after four hours in the car. The last bit was a struggle, but it was no worse than I expected.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Day 309 -- Asherville

On August 12, 1868, David Bogardus, Braxton Bell, and Elizabeth Bell were killed by Indians in what became known as the Bell-Bogardus Massacre. This took place near what is now Asherville, Kansas, where I virtually stand right now. There seems to be a historic sight, but I'm unable to find any pictures of it, which is unusual.

It's been a pleasant day, but it was still pretty cold this morning. We had had rain yesterday, and frost overnight, so the roads were a little slippery. I ditched my planned route and ran only on roads that were busy enough to melt the slick spots. Which meant that I had to put up with more traffic than I usually do on a Saturday at 5:30 am. But they mostly gave me a pretty wide berth, as you usually do for crazy people, and I didn't get run over. Some days, not getting run over is the big accomplishment of my run.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Spring Break -- And Not a Moment Too Soon

Spring break has sprung, and I, for one, am ready for it. I do have some things to do, of course. I still haven't graded the exam I gave Tuesday! I really should have it done, but I had two students with dead grandparents who didn't get to take the exam until today. (The one I'm pretty sure is real; his grandfather died before I had even announced the exam. The other, who knows?) Knowing I couldn't give the exam back today anyway, I lacked motivation to work hard to get it graded. And now I lack motivation to get it graded before, say, next Sunday night. But I really should. It would be good to not have it hanging over my head.

The Little Joggers have spring break, too, so we're all heading down to Grandma Jogger's for a visit, because the alternative is a whole week of family togetherness, which is a homicide waiting to happen. We're even planning to dump the Little Joggers on Grandma J and head off by ourselves for a couple of days, just to hear the sound of the silence. It should be terrific.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


We have some friends, whom I will call the Hunters. They aren't our closest friends in the world, but their kids are reasonably close to the ages of our kids, and we've done things together. We have taken their kids when they needed to do adult stuff, and they have returned the favor. Mrs. Jogger and Mrs. Hunter have hung out together and swapped war stories. We knew that the Hunters have had a rocky relationship lately, but we didn't know how bad it really is.

Mr. Hunter is in jail as I type. On Friday night, he threw a microwave oven across the room, in the general direction of his kids. Thank God no one was hurt, but Mrs. Hunter finally had enough, and she called the police. I guess this is not his first violent outburst.

Mrs. Hunter is now making plans to leave, but it's not that easy. Mr. Hunter has taken control of their finances, and almost everything is in his name. I guess lately, he's even been doing the shopping, so that she wouldn't have any money at all. He makes sure that her car only has so much gas, so that she can't go far without him.

She is afraid that she really needs to disappear. She is afraid of what might happen when he gets out of jail, which might be soon. Unfortunately, since he hasn't actually hurt anyone, yet, the powers that be won't be ready to lock him up and throw away the key.

All this is a sudden shock to Mrs. Jogger and I. We knew that they weren't exactly Ward and June, but we had no idea how bad things were. Now we're scrambling to figure out how we can help Mrs. Hunter and the kids. We, of course, have no experience with fleeing abusive husbands.

It's just scary, that's all. This isn't the movie of the week. This is our life, our friends.

I came home tonight and hugged everyone in my family, hard. We have our problems, but thank God we're not as bad off as that. I just hope everything works out for them.

Day 308 -- More Glasco

Having run just four miles today, I figure I'm still close enough to Glasco to post this picture of their gazebo. It not only looks lovely in the winter, but the Glasco Gazebo has a nice ring to it.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Happy Birthday, Little Jogger!

Today is the First Little Jogger's birthday. Mrs. Jogger and I were both up early today, and reflected on the memory that we were up early on this date 12 years ago. Frankly, our reason for getting up then was a lot better than our reason for getting up now.

The First Little Jogger is very bright, very cute, and very responsible. I blame her mother. Like any 12-year-old, she's going through a lot of personal growth. "Who am I? Who am I going to be? How do I fit in? What the hell is going on with my body?" It's tough to watch her go through it, because she takes it all so seriously. But there is nothing we can do to protect her from this particular experience. A certain amount of heartache is just going to happen in this world.

Ultimately, the First Little Jogger is a fairly happy child. She enjoys school, she has lots of friends, and she gets along pretty well with her parents and about 2/3 of her siblings. I'm pretty happy and proud to have her around.

Days 306 and 307 -- Glasco, Kansas

From the Glasco, Kansas, home page comes this photo of a soda fountain. The store is apparently called "Hodge Podge." The history page mentions that Glasco was "incorporated as a city of the third class April 14, 1886." I'm intrigued to know that it was a city of the third class. How is that defined? Is there a city of the fourth class?

I didn't blog yesterday because I gave another calculus exam in the evening. It went OK, although it went a bit long. But, hey, that's why I give evening exams. Anyway, I came right home and basically fell into bed without turning on the computer at all.

Yesterday I ran an easy four miles, and today I ran a hard seven. I ran a mile at a comfortable pace, then two miles pretty fast, then a mile slower, then two more miles fast, then one more mile slow. This was nice, because it broke up the seven miles into smaller chunks. But that fourth chunk was pretty tough. On Friday, I'm supposed to run seven again, and I'm planning to try to run the same average pace, but more evenly. Speed up my slows and slow down my fasts.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Day 305 -- Miltonvale, Kansas

From the Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection: A treeless Kansas panorama. Field of maize in north central Kansas near Miltonvale. Taken October 17, 1953. I came along just a little bit later.

Today was my long run, but it's a "step back" week, so I "only" ran 9.3 miles. It felt pretty good. I was just under 10 minutes a mile, which is good for a long run.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Snow Day!

The Little Joggers had a snow day today, their second in a row. The difference is that today, Mrs. Jogger went to work, and I stayed home. I had already cancelled Calculus, so that I could go to a presentation at 10:00. The presenter was coming down from Madison, and he got snowed out, so I had no Calculus class and nothing else to do. So I just cancelled my Modern Algebra class and told Mrs. J to go ahead and go to work. I've worked on the Calculus exam that I have to give next week, and almost finished grading the papers that I have for the weekend. Since there was no Modern Algebra, I have no algebra homework to grade. So, it looks like a fairly relaxing weekend.

Of course, the Little Joggers could put a crimp in that. They've been snow bound for two days now, and they are beginning to get on each other's nerves. Strike that. They began to get on each other's nerves yesterday. By now, they are about to come to blows. Oh, well. That's life with kids. Hopefully, the weather will clear up tomorrow, and they can at least play outside.

Day 303 -- Morganville

I guess it was inevitable that sooner or later, I would run into This fellow named Bruce Selyem has taken "more than 75,000 images from over 4,000 places in 34 states and provinces!" This one is in Morganville, Kansas, just north of where I am currently running.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Day 303 -- Clay Center

Clay Center, Kansas, is the county seat of Clay County. Above is the county courthouse. Below, you'll see the lovely sculpture "The Spirit of the Wild Things." Those are geese, not eagles, but it's hard to tell from this shot. Unfortunately, to see these pictures in the original, you'll have to reload the Clay Center main page. They don't seem to have a photo gallery, just rotating pictures on their front page.

I ran an easy 3 miles today. It was pretty hard to get myself going, but I knew that I would suffer all day if I didn't. In fact, I did feel pretty tired and harassed all day, but it would have been much worse without my morning shot of endorphins.