Monthly Archives: April 2007

Out Of Sync

Several of you have asked if I sent out an e-mail last Sunday and I answer that I didn’t. By now, you all know that I write for therapy. I enjoy writing the stories as much as at least a couple of you enjoy reading them. But I’m not a writer. Writers can get an assignment, take out a piece of paper (nowadays a computer) and write a story. I’ve never been very good at that. I write from inspiration, and if it’s not there, I don’t write.  

Last weekend I was in one of those blue funk moods. I know it will take time to sell these two places we have, and it will happen, but I hate being in limbo until something gives. So a realtor called and asked if she could show the place at Crooked Lake to some cash buyers. I set it up to be shown at 10 last Saturday morning. I know it’s an inconvenience to Barry and Rona who are living there, but Rona called back and said that would be fine. The realtor called the next day and said that they would have to reschedule to Monday. I was a little miffed, but I talked with Rona and she said fine but it would be best if it were three. I called the realtor and she said three would be fine. Rona called us Monday at 4:30 and they still hadn’t come and she wanted to get over to the house they are rebuilding to pick out counter top material. I felt like crap for the inconvenience to her and her family.

I’ve not been a great fan of the war, although I admire the men and women who are over there fighting. When I see the President and Congress posturing politically over the current funding bill, I assume the worst. I believe that it will be politics as usual. The Democrats will insist that it will be a showdown, and what I expect to happen is that, after a veto, a spending bill will be passed that has no teeth and the next two years will be like the last two years. Then there’s the State of Michigan and its current budget crisis. The same political posturing seems to be going on there and, ultimately, our kids will suffer from education cuts.

It’s not that I’ve been short on ammunition either. Last night, at our Friday “drop in”, the conversation started out G rated and quickly turned to a discussion of breast reduction surgery (men are lobbying to have that become illegal) and one of our school teachers talked about being asked by one of her eighth grade students why there are flavored condoms.

One of the guys this morning at coffee asked if I had been sending out e-mails the last few weeks. Since I changed my e-mail address, his have been bounced back since I’m not on his list. I told him and the others at the table that I’ve been working on setting up a website (with my son, Matt’s help) to post the e-mails each week. It’s under construction and not really ready for viewing, but I’ve been busy filling the archives with all the old e-mails. I’m back to January, 2004, and have entered a combination of e-mails, eulogies and a section I call ramblings. Currently in the ramblings is TriStory, the original story about how the Trilanders group was formed, Trilanders 2001 and Trilanders 2003 among a few other things.

I’m not setting it up to show off my writing, but rather to provide a place to read the e-mails if you haven’t received them. I get a few kicked back from spam blockers from time to time when I use words that are common in many of the spam e-mails you receive (if I tell you which ones, I’ll get this epistle blocked). Also, if you have dial up, some of the ones I send with pictures take forever to download so I have a section called stories with pictures. A few of you have been added to the rolls recently, and when I make a comment about “my buddy from the Y in Florida” you have no idea what I’m talking about. So I have a section called “Reader Favorites”, which for the time being are “Writer Favorites”. In all, I have 132 posts and, once I get them all in, I’ll let you know how to get on line. No fees. No Advertising. No pop-ups. Rated PG.

Speaking of pictures, along with the e-mail I sent on June 6, 2004 “Week 10 Back In The Groove”, I attached a picture of a half eaten doughnut twist. I’m sure you have deleted them all, but if anyone saved that one, could you e-mail it back to me?

Better go. I rode 47 miles today with Diane. My legs are tired so I’ll probably take Larry and Jon’s advice and stand in a tub of ice cold water for recovery. Either that or it’s nap time.

Just (Back Up And Running) Jack

Mystery Solved

I have become a huge test strip to determine if a pool contains chlorine or not. As I said in my last e-mail, Tuesday I went to the Hastings High School pool and swam. I had been told that they don’t use chlorine so I was confident that things would be different and I would find a place to swim until the lakes are warm, which may take a while with the weather we’ve been having.

I lasted until about 4 PM before the first welts started to appear. I swam one lap (50 meters) without my nose clip and that’s all it took. My nose stuffed completely and I thrashed around all night trying to breathe. Jean must have had just enough wine because she never heard me. I can tell you without question that the high school does use chlorine. I’ll spare you the gruesome pictures. I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to take pictures of a naked 60 year old man with a rash.

I’m down to three options. Swim in it anyway and endure the reactions…not a good choice…insanity may win out. Buy a $15,000 to $20,000 endless pool that  disinfects with baquacil…expensive and I don’t have a place to put it. Or offer to pay the difference in cost if one of the pools switches to something other than chlorine or bromine…probably won’t happen. I guess there is a fourth and that’s to quit swimming. That’s probably the one I’ll choose. I can still swim in the lakes when it gets warm enough and continue with a crappy swim time in the triathlons. With my recent hip problems that should complement my crappy run times nicely.

I’m showing the cottage today at 2 PM. I’m not getting my hopes up, but I did have two calls yesterday so people are out looking. This will be the best time of the year, but the next door neighbor just listed her place for significantly less. That kept me awake one night until 2 AM, worrying that no one would want to pay that much more, but I’m guessing it’s less for a reason and I know our place isn’t overpriced. If it doesn’t sell, it’s still a nice place…bigger than we need and more than I want to take care of, but nice.

I used to play golf a lot and belonged to Hastings Country Club for years. It sounds like a high prestige place but it’s still only a golf course. A great course in prime condition, but the membership’s down and there aren’t nearly the social activities that there were years ago. Buying the condo, we get a free membership for a year. I was telling Jean that with her maintaining the house on Green Street until it sells and me maintaining the cottage until it sells, riding bike with our group on Saturdays and running with the running group on Sundays, we probably won’t play enough to make it worthwhile.

We’ve never been big on decorative pillows or stuffed animals on the bed. Many people are and they really look nice, but we haven’t done that. If it was up to me, the bed would only be made in the morning if company was coming or we had just laundered the sheets. Friday night we stayed up until midnight watching a movie and talking with Becky.

I had a couple of glasses of wine and so did Jean. I got into bed and there were pillows all over the place. When Jean came in I said something like “What’s with all the pillows?” For some reason it set us both off and we started laughing. We laughed for a good five minutes and I had to sit up once just to catch my breath. We either had more wine than I thought or we were releasing stress from having the two places for sale with nothing happening.

The hip still continues to cause problems and I’ll soon do what I should have done long ago and see my doctor. I’ve been putting it off hoping the injury would heal and not wanting to get a cortisone shot, but that’s probably what it needs. I’ve never had a problem with shots. But since the bike wreck, I’ve been poked and prodded so many times that visiting my doctor, who is also a friend, stresses me out. I don’t know what happened but I would be physically shaking the many times I saw him during that first year. Add it to my long “weirdness list”.

Just (About To Cave In And Ask For Help) Jack

Journey Into The Unknown

Several people have told me that the pool at the High School doesn’t use chlorine. We’ve asked around and no one seems to know for sure what they use. I don’t need to resurrect the nasty pictures of my skin after the last time I swam in a pool with chlorine; many have asked that they be left off the e-mail list if I ever try to make them look at those again.

So today I went up to the High School pool and swam. Since I haven’t been in a pool in six months, I didn’t get carried away, but I swam for about 45 minutes. I didn’t do any speed work; just long, slow laps with a minute rest every 500 meters or so. We’ll see if they really do use chlorine or bromine ‘cuz I’ll start itching places other people don’t want to see me touch. If I do start itching, Jean may call Diane for a sleeping pill either for herself or me. I thrash around in bed enough without the constant scratching.

I get e-mails every week from Inside Triathlon among many, many others. It’s their on-line magazine and often has interesting articles. It started out HI JOHN (no one calls me John except telemarketers who don’t know I’m really Just Jack), and continues with the teaser line “And their off…”. You all know from my writing that I’m not a grammar geek with the run-on sentences and commas where there should be semicolons or nothing at all. But it drive me crazy that we’ve gotten so dependent on spell-check that we don’t think about what we’re writing.

Any fifth grader could tell you that “their” is a possessive pronoun that is either used alone or used to describe a noun. Their hats; their team; their unmentionables. Not only is it a possessive pronoun, it’s a personal pronoun and we all know personal pronouns don’t use apostrophes (theirs, not their’s). As Inside Triathlon is trying to use the word, it’s really a contraction of the two words “they” and “are”; a quick way of saying “And they are off…”.

There are two dangers in criticizing someone else’s grammar. First of all, since many of our friends are school teachers or former school teachers, I’m likely to get this e-mail back with all kinds of red marks and underlines with a big “D-” on the top and a note that reads “You know you could do better. I would like to meet with you and your parents and talk about your future in this class”. That ship has sailed many times in the past so don’t waste your time.

The second danger is that those of you who don’t see anything wrong with the Inside Triathlon usage will look at me as the class dork who really doesn’t know much, but points out the mistakes of others and ridicules them to make myself look good. As I said before, I’m not very good at grammar and I admit it. But I also don’t write for a globally distributed magazine. Any criticism of this e-mail should be directed to my website www.whoreallycares.nut .

For those of you who haven’t heard, the National Conference On Global Warming meeting that is scheduled to meet in Hastings on Wednesday has been canceled due to the blizzard forecast. It has been rescheduled to the same week as Ironman Wisconsin, trying to coincide with our one week of really hot summer weather.

Just (I Want To Ride My Bike Outside) Jack


The condo is on the golf course, as many of you know, so we see a lot of golfers getting an early start to their season. The weatherman, or is it weatherperson?, says that we will have cold weather by the end of the week with highs in the thirties. I’m assuming there won’t be many people on the links until the warm weather comes back. That’s when I get to show that I’m a mediocre golfer, which goes along with being a mediocre triathlete, a mediocre baseball player, and basically mediocre at all my athletic endeavors.

I’ve said this all before, and I’m really not just trying to put myself down unmercifully; it’s just a fact of life. Some people are born with athletic abilities and some aren’t and I’m one of the aren’ts. Whether it’s hand-eye coordination, speed, agility, flexibility, or a combination of those things, I was in the back of the line and the pickings were meager by the time they got to me. I’m not complaining either. Being mediocre means that you don’t often win, so you don’t have a lot of pressure. If, by some stroke of calamity, you do win, it’s a bonus.

It’s genetics and there isn’t much you can do about it. Neither of my parents were athletic, none of my grandparents were athletic, my brothers aren’t athletic except that Bob (aka Bobbie Butane) has good hand-eye coordination; don’t play pool or darts with him for money. But genetics gives other things and they count in making us who we are.

I’m a good test taker. Throughout the years there have been many of my friends who are smarter than me, but scored worse on tests. When I enlisted in the Air Force, they gave me a battery of tests to see where I should be placed. The recruiter called and told me I had scored as high as you can get on each of the four areas. One part was electrical and I know nothing about it. If you plug it in and it doesn’t work, change the bulb. If that doesn’t work, check the circuit breaker. If that doesn’t work, call an electrician. Another part was mechanical. When I was younger I could change my own oil and filter, change spark plugs, and that’s about it. If it quits working, take it to someone who knows what they’re doing.

When I graduated from Western Michigan University, I sat for the CPA exam a couple of weeks later and passed it the first time. Back in those days, the pass rate on the first try was around six percent. One of the guys I studied with at Western was very bright and always knew the answers when we studied together. The last time I knew he had taken the CPA exam four times and still hadn’t passed all the parts.

So, getting back to the athletics, I look at myself as a filler. The winners wouldn’t have as much glory if they were the only ones in the race. They need us mediocre athletes as fillers. Would you rather be first out of one, or first out of twenty? Well, I’m one of the nineteen fillers. I have had some really bad races, but I’m rarely last. In a field of twenty, I’m usually around tenth. But even if I were last, it wouldn’t matter; at least I’m out there. As one girls said when she finished the Iceman in 1999 after everyone had left, “At least I beat everyone who is home on the couch”. I’ve never forgotten that.

Throughout the years I’ve come to the conclusion that participating, for me, is social and the most important part. Yes, it’s great to win races, but swimming, running or biking with good friends is what I want to be doing. To me, the training rides and runs are more fun than the races. You can do your own thing and, when it’s all over, everyone is the same; a participant, not a winner or loser. At age 60 the joints don’t work as well and I’m getting slower; not faster. But I don’t care; I’m still in the game.

Just (I Do Wish This Hip Would Quit Hurting) Jack