Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Will You Still Need Me? Will You Still Outrun Me?

There's a guy who lives down the hall (and a flight of stairs) from me who can run a 4:13 mile. I try to tell people how fast that is, but they don't get it. He's kind of a god to me for it. I mean, I used to stare up at really fast runners with sparkling little freshman eyes, thinking "I could never do that". Those guys look up at this guy and think the same thing. Guys like him made me believe that you needed to be born with a huge heart and killer lungs and calves of steel to be someone's hero. Turns out I was wrong, you just have to be totally, utterly indefatigable.

Looking through race results for a local 5k the other day, I saw something that caught my eye.

68 52:14 Bruce Kurtz 72 266th consecutive race

Last place, 52:14 for a 5k (about 16:50 miles). But the guy was apparently 72 and still running, which would be impressive if not overshadowed by the 266 consecutive part. On Tuesday, I had honor of actually meeting this guy, first grumbling about people taking his parking spot, then while warming up.

I jogged up to this old dude hobbling through the woods while I was warming up. Remembering the old results, I asked if he was that guy who'd run those hundreds of races. He replied proudly with a litany of consecutive races, here, elsewhere, running, biking, triathlons. There were races of ungodly distances (well, anything that involves swimming seems ungodly to me) that he'd been doing for longer than I'd been alive. He'd didn't really have to tell me though, you could see it in the way he talked and ran. He didn't really run, it was more of a hustling, hobbling walk. But he did it without shame. Despite the fact that I'd finish in a third of the time, I felt intimidated and humbled listening to his stories of 2-hour swim workouts (without stopping).

Here I was, 19, fit and healthy, yet hardly able to get myself motivated enough to run while this 72 year old man with an impressive list of health problems was still running 3 races a week, every week. I think I'll die still wishing I was him.

He knew his race pace (evidently the same as his warm-up pace) off the top of his head: "17 minute miles, I couldn't care less". I really care about times and trophies and arm candy that digs runners, but this guy couldn't care less. Perspective much? He said "I go by people and say 'I'm 72' and they go 'What?!'". What indeed. He didn't go by me, but as I jogged off all I could say was "what?!". That line went through my head every time I picked off another racer. "I'm 19 and I'm so alive. Say 'what?'."

I was about to ask how he did it when he told me. I don't know if he sensed my question before I asked it or was just eager for someone to listen. "My wife went through five hospitals and died in my arms". Want to know how you get tough? Cradle your dying wife. I bet that makes a 5k seem a little less painful. "I don't want to die like that. I'm 72, I have an enlarged prostate, I've had five biopsies; no's the active cells that keep me alive. You hear about people dying swimming, biking, running. I want that to be me". I was pretty much speechless-I'm still speechless. All I could do was shake my head and say "amen", as if I could understand. As we parted ways, I found myself hoping, for his sake, that he wouldn't make it back.

He said he didn't bike down near where I live anymore (an hour by car) because if anything happened, he'd have no one to call. Yeah. Next time you think you have a problem, think about that and say "What?!"

Monday, April 21, 2008

Jell-O On The Radio

Actually, that's not true. There's nothing on the radio because we've been invaded by EVIL KILLER RATTLESNAKES!!!

They started with the children (which was fine, and easy given their low dex values), but now they've moved on to communications and, presumably, cars. I'm sure it's just a matter of time before they evolve to eat the internet and spit H5N1. Then we'd be fucked. The worst part is that humanity's second greatest defender (I'm busy), Indiana Jones, is afraid of snakes. And very old.

Things don't look good...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Who Says This Isn't Like Real Life?

Here are some highlights from my fledgling RPG (think Dungeons and Dragons) campaign:

Vertigo: The protagonists were trying to defend an important religious figure inside a chapel. One of his would-be assassins was firing at him with a musket from a balcony across the room. One of players sprinted up a flight of stairs to attack him, and, upon reaching the sniper (who at this point had drawn a sword), tackled him off the balcony onto the stone floor below instead of using his own sword. I rolled to see what part of their bodies would take the fall; the player's character landed harmlessly (well, comparatively) on his chest while his opponent fell squarely on his head, rendering him unconscious (and probably paralyzed).

Biblical Study: One of the heroes, a prostitute, tried to use her finely honed skills to seduce or distract male NPCs (non-player characters) at every turn. Her would-be clients included a man who was, in fact, not in his room, a guard who turned out to be dead, and a man (eventually found outside his room) who fled upon seeing her.

Hazard Pay: This group of adventurers found themselves captured in an underground prison. They managed to escape after pretending to suffocate one of their companions, thereby starting one of the worst days for guards ever. The gaoler was gang tackled while trying to save the helpless PC and held in a leg-lock for about 10 minutes while another character threatened to cut his toes off. Another, moments after discovering that the man he thought was a fellow guard was, in truth, an escaped prisoner, was stabbed through the eye and killed instantly before he even had the chance to act. One of the guards protecting the exit was shot -at point blank- in the knee, then stabbed in the same place moments later. While on his knees, dizzy with pain, two of the heroes took advantage of him and simultaneously ran him through with brutal coup-de-graces. Meanwhile, his companion was gashed in the arm, more or less severing his bicep from the bone. In a heroic act, he attempted to punch his opponent (who happened to be an expert swordsman) and had his hand cut off in the process. He was left, delirious with pain and bleeding to death.

Did Anyone Pack a Compass?: This underground dungeon included a sizable map full of subtle clues as to who was in charge and what they were planning. There was a fellow prisoner who was supposed to introduce more clues in addition to an interesting moral dilemma. All of this went undiscovered by the players who bee-lined it to the exit, stopping by one storage room and the mess hall along the way. Critical plot details? Down the drain. Hours of prep? Down the drain. But I'm not bitter, even though everyone else I've ever played with will not rest until they've explored every room. So much for the Mario mentality...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Best And The Brightest

I'm convinced that Denmark must have the world's most bad-ass criminals. Here's one of them: Lenny the Arsonist.

Lenny is presumably a lifetime criminal and all-round heartless pyromaniac. As far as I can tell, he's the only criminal in CiTY and yet the government has amassed an army of law enforcement and fire-fighting officers. The CiTY police force currently has four officers, a helicopter (currently in the shop for repairs because it "inexplicably" lost pieces), an ATV, a huge mobile command center, some kind of extremely complex radar system, and a draw bridge. Oh, and don't forget the 5 firefighters, fire engine, and huge barge (plus another engine and 2 men from the next town over) to put out any fires Lenny might start. 11 to 1?! What the fuck?

Journey To Cloud Mountain

New resolution: I must from now on stay awake for my entire birthday. Anything less than 24 hours of conscientiousness seems like a crime. Here's why:

Balloons. Somehow, they never get old. There are presently enough balloons around my door to make the entire hallway smell like latex. My sympathies to Atreyu who (allegedly) had to blow them all up herself (photographic evidence suggests otherwise).

Chicks who dig geeks. Apparently google and sharpies are all it takes to create the illusion that slutty, attractive girls love geeks, dungeon masters, and cinnamon toast crunch. As my soon-to-be-wife (on account of her cleverness and aversion to clothing) noted, "I've been looking for love in Alderaan places".

I'd like to take a moment to think about that phrase. First off, it's a solid pun ("Alderaan", "all the wrong", ah ha ha ha, get it?). Second, it features a Star Wars reference, which means it can't lose. Here's the coup de grace; Alderaan is the wrong place to look for love because it blew up! But wait, there's more*! If you're Hon Solo, it is the right place! Oh my GOD**, there's so many layers of meaning! It's like an onion***!

Fuck the evil empire. I heard a story about someone with a rebel alliance tattoo. That's awesome. Potentially unrelated to the birthday thing, but still awesome.

Traveling in style. I got carried to a neighboring building, up two flights of stairs, and into a fairly crowded room, all to an impressive rendition of "Joy to the World". No one knows why, but it happened. My interpretation? I'm kind of a big deal.

Note to self (and all the kids out there): peer pressure is wrong. Peer pressure will make you gag on frosting. Not okay. Smoking though, try that. The world will always need people with lighters so keep it up.

*Princess Bride reference, check it.
**Coming next semester, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
***An onion reference.