Mind Over Matter?

The Best Use of Running Shoes

Well we know where we’re going

But we don’t know where we’ve been

And we know what we’re knowing

But we can’t say what we’ve seen

-The Talking Heads

One of my in shape friends once told me that running a marathon can be done by anyone because it’s just “mind over matter.”  When I finally stopped laughing eleven days later, I dismissed his claim as being an outright fabrication and a complete misinterpretation of the phrase.  I have it on good authority that the creator of the saying was not applying it to physical activity of any kind, especially running. What he meant by “mind over matter,” was eating a seventh Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie when he should’ve stopped at six. 

Look, I’ve got nothing against running at all.  I don’t even have anything against runners, though I do find some of them to be quite scurrilous.  My wife is a non-scurrilous runner, as is my daughter. I have good friends who are non-scurrilous runners.  I share sidewalks with runners all the time as I walk – not run – and sometimes I even get out of their way as they barrel towards me, elbows flailing and mucous projectiles flying out of their mouths.  For the most part these runners aren’t being rude when they run by. It’s just that running can make people seem disingenuous and unnecessarily aggressive. I think it has to do with a combination of dangerously elevated heart rates and forward momentum. 

There is one runner in my neighborhood, an audacious little fellow, who refuses to share any publicly owned space.  He thinks that all paved areas the County ever constructed are his and his alone, and that he can do with them as he pleases.  I don’t get out of the way of that guy. In fact, I’m always up for a game of chicken when Captain Bonaparte comes running towards me.  Inevitably he cowers in fear as I stick out my chest and give him the respect-your-elders stare, even though I think he’s older than me.  

In my opinion, there seems to be no incentive to running a marathon besides being able to say that you ran a marathon.  That simply isn’t motivation enough for me to trek 26.2 miles.   

“But, once you get the runner’s high, you’ll feel like you can run forever,” said my over-exuberant running friend.  

“Yeah,” I responded.  “And when does that occur?”

“For me it’s around mile twelve.”

I shook my head in disbelief.  If I’m complaining about running through the equivalent of two small cities, does this guy really think running through the equivalent of one small city, simply to obtain some mythical runners high, is suddenly going to pique my interest?  Spoiler alert: It’s not.

This same well-meaning individual tried to entice me to run by saying that there is sometimes beer at the end of these runs.  Sometimes? I laughed. “There is always beer in my fridge,” I said, unimpressed, “and I don’t have to run a bazillion miles to get it.”

When I was 17 years old or so, with functional knees and a not-yet-completely-developed-brain, the idea of running a marathon was intriguing.  I could get out and commune with nature while also putting in some sweat equity, I thought.  It would be magnificent!  Yes, I said to myself.  I will become a marathon runner!  And if marathon’s were only 0.3 miles long, I would’ve become a marathon runner.

A decade or so ago, as I stood firmly in my early 30’s, I actually was a runner, and while I never got close to a marathon, it was oftentimes rewarding to have lived through the experience of running.

Now, I don’t even like driving 26.2 miles.  My friend was right though, running a marathon really is mind over matter and since I don’t mind never running one, it doesn’t matter.  I will eat that seventh Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie though.

Fired for Yawning?


Sometimes I can’t sleep.  It’s not as heinous as it sounds.  Lying awake in the dead of night is a perfect time to create drama out of the mundane events of the previous day.  Was I successfully able to hide my indifference at work, and if not, what can I do to be better at that in the future?  Did I actually put premium gas into my car this morning as the dealer suggested, and if not, what will regular gas do to my engine?  Are bed bugs nocturnal, and if so, could the threat they cause to the public’s health be negated if everyone just slept during the day?  Why am I itching so much? Continue reading “Fired for Yawning?”

Where Have All the CDs Gone?


Apparently, in the words of Peter, Paul, and Mary: “long time passing.”

Generation-X, I’m afraid our beloved CDs—the music medium of a once mighty generation—have finally been relegated to the dust bin of time.  Over in the remotest corner of Best Buy, near the lone laser disc player and flip phone, lies the white bin of sadness.  In it lie a hundred or so compact discs, non-alphabetized and disheveled, chaotic reminders of a simpler time.  We may as well be in there too. Continue reading “Where Have All the CDs Gone?”

Pillow Talk

Give it a rest

Let’s talk pillows.

George Bernard Shaw famously stated, “Youth is wasted on the young.” I’d like to buy Shaw a low-carb beer, or a kale salad, and personally express my gratitude for that ingenious quip of his. The great irony of his quote, of course, is that you cannot appreciate its truth until your youth has sufficiently been replaced by something far more heinous. Continue reading “Pillow Talk”

An Open Letter to the Year 2119: So, Yeah, Climate Change is Probably Real and We Should’ve Tried to Prevent it

Old birds
Bird 1 (Pointing to the Sea): And over there used to be Florida                                          


Dear 2119,

If our calculations were correct, your weather is terrible right now. Some of us thought it might be, despite the barrage of Climate Change denial tweets from a certain American President. And while some of us are filled with regret over the plight we’ve left you, the individuals in positions of power felt it was best to let you handle it. After all, we live in a time where prevention is frivolous, unnecessary, and far less profitable than treatment. Google “Measles outbreak of 2019,” if you don’t believe us. Continue reading “An Open Letter to the Year 2119: So, Yeah, Climate Change is Probably Real and We Should’ve Tried to Prevent it”

A Tourist’s Guide to the Annoying Cherry Blossom Trees on Washington, D.C.’s Tidal Basin


This year, peak bloom of the cherry blossom trees is expected to occur around April 3rd. Despite the alienation, frustration, and annoyance to D.C. residents, thousands of tourists will flood our Nation’s Capital to take in the natural beauty of these overrated pink and white blossoming trees. To discourage out-of-towner’s from coming, here are some facts you may not know about these dastardly trees.

The first cherry trees were gifted to Helen Taft, the First Lady of the United States, by the Mayor of Tokyo in 1910. Due to disease and insect infestation, President Howard Taft ordered that they be burned to the ground. The trees were said to be quite annoyed at making the long journey to America only to be ravaged by disease and eventually destroyed.

Japan, failing to leave well enough alone, sent additional cherry trees in 1912. These trees successfully took root, and some are still standing today, unlike Helen Taft, who died in 1943, while America was at war with Japan.

In 1915, the United States reciprocated by sending forty native Dogwood trees to Japan. Also, in 1915, people in America didn’t know what the word “reciprocation,” meant. Dogwood trees? Seriously?

Some of the cherry trees were mysteriously cut down after Japanese aggression during World War II. In order to hide the trees’ identity, officials began calling them “Oriental Cherries.” This inevitably led to a lawsuit filed by the trees, accusing the United States of defamation. Yoshino Trees v. Washington D.C. became a landmark case, in which the trees won the right to again be called Japanese Cherry Trees. The current Supreme Court is looking to overturn the ruling.

The Cherry Blossom festival, which had been held annually since 1934, was suspended from 1942 – 1946 because America didn’t really like Japan after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. But by 1947, nearly half a million people turned out when the festival returned. These individuals were probably not Japanese because Japan didn’t really like America after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Japan gave Lady Bird Johnson, also a First Lady, 3,800 more cherry blossom trees in 1965. Rumors swirled that President Lyndon B. Johnson was upset at the Japanese for displaying such a lack of creativity in the gift-giving department, and also because he hoped to receive a lifetime supply of Sapporo instead.

In the 1970’s, clones of the cherry blossom trees were created and sent back to Japan. The intention was to reciprocate Mayor Ozaki’s 1910 gift, because nothing says “thank you” like giving an inferior version of a gift to the people who are known for giving the superior version of the same gift.

In 1999, two beavers gnawed down four blooming trees, which led to an international manhunt. A week later, the beavers were caught in a hideout dam on the Potomac River. Both were taken into custody and are serving life sentences at the National Zoo.

Parking during peak bloom is extremely limited, so tourists are advised not to come.

Cherry blossom flower petals are edible. You can put them in tea or wrap them around sushi.  It’s illegal to pick cherry blossom pedals though, and since vegans don’t break the law, the edibility is beside the point.

Picnicking underneath cherry blossom trees is a Japanese tradition. Picnicking underneath the cherry blossom trees on the tidal basin is a fool’s errand, unless you enjoy getting trampled to death by thousands of distracted tourists who only look up.

Some cherry trees can live to be 100 years old, and in fact, there are some in Japan that are over 1,000 years old! Due to the poor western diet and sedentary lifestyle, however, most of the cherry trees on the tidal basin become morbidly obese and die of preventable causes at around 60 years of age.

Neither Japan nor D.C. can be considered the Cherry Blossom Capital of the World. That distinction belongs to Macon, Georgia, which is home to nearly 300,000 Yoshino cherry blossom trees. Tourists should probably go there instead.