Monthly Archives: April 2009

This Old Body

If you actually read this drivel, and I know a couple of you have, you’ll remember me whining several times about my aches and pains. I guess everyone who trains for athletic events runs into some injuries from time to time, but it seems like I’ve run into more than my share. You can attribute my fragility (is that a word?) to being undertrained in the first place, doing more than I’m capable of doing, or any one of many other good reasons. But I really think a lot of it has to do with the way I’m built.

I have a lot to thank my parents and grandparents for, but athleticism isn’t one of those things. I can’t remember anyone on my Mother’s or Father’s sides of the family being athletic at all. Part of it was the era that many of them grew up in. Part of it was that women didn’t participate much in athletics for many reasons. But even if they weren’t involved in athletics, they would have passed on those natural instincts. Those things that make good athletes great are usually size, body composition and great hand/eye coordination. I have size but not height where I need it, and my body composition puts things in the wrong places. Plus, I have very little coordination of any kind (want to see me dance?).

I’ve always liked sports and have been active in many different things, but I’ve never really been what you would call “good” in any of them. I actually wrote a series of chapters in a book I call “I Am Not The Greatest”, a takeoff on Muhammad Ali’s claim “I Am The Greatest” throughout his boxing career. I chronicled my forays into many different sports from childhood on up through now. If I ever get over the fear of criticism, or I get arrogant enough to think that anyone would be interested, I may let a person other than me read it (it’s password protected).

Last fall it was plantar fasciitis. Recently it’s been my hip. When I run more than three or four miles, my left hip starts to hurt. I’ve laid the blame on old age and being overweight, and I’m sure that has a lot to do with it. After a crappy run on Wednesday, Jean and I rode the bikes on Thursday. It was a really nice day and the wind wasn’t blowing that hard (until we got out there), so we rode the time trial loop. From our condo it’s about 23 miles, so it wasn’t all that far for a third ride of the season.

I was fine on the way to Middleville, but as I got as far away from home as the ride would take me, my left hip started to hurt. It hasn’t done that on the bike…only when I run…until now. I got to squirming on the bike seat and just couldn’t get comfortable. I think I kinked my body to make it as comfortable as possible and that’s what strained my back (shades of Jean at the Hawaii Ironman). It’s muscular (back spasms) so it isn’t serious, but it’s really sore. I can’t get comfortable sitting, standing or laying down. If that wasn’t bad enough, I’ve fought with PVCs (premature ventricular contractions) for several years and they aren’t a serious problem, but they do cause me to tire easily. That, and turning into the wind that the weather channel said would be 5 mph but was actually 10-15 mph, and it made for a long ride back.

I think I’ve figured out that my brain, my muscles, my bones and my joints are all working against me. I think they’re sitting around drinking coffee, decaf of course, trying to decide what to torment me with next. Since I don’t have any natural ability, but I go out and do all these things anyway, they try to figure out what will make me stop and sit in a rocking chair like I should. A few years back they ganged up and made me take a couple of dives off the bike. After the third, and most serious mishap, they figured out that I wasn’t going to quit until I croaked, and that wouldn’t be in their best interest, so they gave up.

This past couple of years they’ve decided that the only way it will work is to keep throwing things at me, one right after the other, until I can’t take it any more. My only saving grace is that I have someone on the inside of the group as a spy. As much as my brain wants me to stop, it realizes that if I do, and I do sit in a rocking chair the rest of my life sampling homebrew, I will gain way too much weight and things will get worse. So “Brain-Jack” goes along with the other parts until I’m almost ready to throw in the towel, then eases up, thinking that, by doing that, I will get out of my long distance training and into a more sane lifestyle. Maybe I will, but I’m still signed up for The Muncie Endurathon Half Ironman, so I can’t back off yet.

Once my body realizes that I’ll walk that race if I have to, it may ease up the injuries to let me get through the race with a modicum of dignity…or not.

Just (Laying on A Tennis Ball To Loosen Up The Muscles) Jack


I went to the office and did our taxes yesterday. This has to be latest I’ve ever done them. For some reason I just couldn’t get fired up about taxes this year. Maybe, when you get older, you have lower levels of taxtosterone, so you just don’t get cranked up like you used to. At any rate, I wasn’t looking forward to it and I got a real surprise. Most would say surprised in a good way. As for me, I don’t like surprises, so I’m in a slight funk.

Without bragging or complaining, I’ve woked hard through the years, made more money than average, and paid a lot more taxes than average too. I knew that there had been some changes on how capital gains and dividends are taxed, and did expect some benefit. What I got astounded me. Again, without going into a lot of detail, much of my income is from capital gains. None of it was taxed at the federal level. My state taxes are higher than my federal taxes this year.

So how could I possibly be “surprised in a bad way”? I’ll tell you why (you knew I would). I believe we live in a great country. I grew up learning that if you work hard, you will make a good living. And if you make a good living, you have to pay taxes to help pay for all the benefits of being a United States citizen. We all grumble that we don’t get paid quite as much as we’re worth. And we grumble that we pay too much in taxes. But, deep down, we’re thankful we’re speaking English (or something that resembles English) and not Chinese, or Russian, or German or ________ (if I haven’t offended you yet with the ethnic slams, fill in the blank with your country of origin). It gives us the pride of living in a country where the fortunate will help the unfortunate, the wealthy will help the poor, and those who have bounty will feed the hungry who have nothing (I sound like a TV evangelist…send money, send money).

So if I believe all that I’ve just said, and I do, I should be concerned that I and others in my same circumstance aren’t shouldering our share of the load. I do understand that the decision to lower taxes on capital gains was done to stimulate investment in our capital markets, and I won’t second guess the economists as to motive. But in fairness, why should I pay less in taxes than a young couple with two children who make the same amount as we do? And not just a little less…a lot less. It’s just not right!

After having said all that, don’t expect me to send a few thousand in “voluntary taxes” to make things right so I can sleep at night. But I am sure I’ll send more money to charities this year. Probably not to political action committees and probably not to the “build the casino now” campaign.

I’ve had new carpet put in the hallways, master bedroom and stairs at the cottage. I’ve been trying to come up with some wallpaper for the end wall in the master bedroom that used to be red. But I can’t come up with anything that doesn’t look cheesy (even cheesier than red). So I think I’ll have Jean and Stacy Anderson help me pick out a color and I’ll paint it, again. I’m thinking about giving them my credit card and sending them to Grand Rapids to buy things to help decorate. The thing that holds me back is that it has an $18,000 credit line. Knowing the two of them, they may max it out and there goes the tax savings. The hungry and homeless are out…the shoppers are in.

Just (Earning Pluses To Offset Past And Future Minuses) Jack