The Sometimes Pleasure of Having a Snit

“Old Glory,” the flag of the United States of America

I’m not sure why it set me off, but on one run I twice saw the American flag being disrespected. I confess to posting on last year much of my same agitation over a display of this sort, but here I was (am?) in a location far away from home.

Realizing there is precious little I can do about this, I still felt compelled to do something. Knowing nothing about building ownership and/or management, or the companies (yes both of these were business sites) involved, I reached out to the local media with a letter to the editor. I was polite, and mentioned that as an out-of-town visitor, I was disheartened to see blatant disrespect for the flag being shown in public.

Wait a minute. What disrespect? Having flown the flag at home, I learned about the proper etiquette for displaying the flag, and since I didn’t have 24 hour lighting, I would raise and lower the flag each day, fly it at half staff when appropriate, and would replace it when it got worn. There are laws on the books (4 USC § 1, 36 USC §173-174) that specify how and when the flag should be treated, and even though these laws are mostly pro forma, I use them as my guidelines (as well as to stay legal, in case another busybody like me gets in a snit).

Applying a little research, I found the contact information for the companies I identified as the likely “perpetrators,” and sent them very polite emails. I mentioned I was an out-of-town traveler, and that the display of flags in serious disrepair was likely an oversight, but that I felt it sent a poor impression to travelers like me.

I did receive one reply, thanking me, and saying they would locate the building management and pass on my message. From the appearance of their web page, they seem to be socially conscientious, so their response was in line with that impression. I have not heard from the second.

So, I will likely never see the results of my very modest (but polite) snit. But I feel good about acting upon it rather than just shrug my shoulders, as apparently so many have.

Fall/Winter Sets In

It’s been almost a month since the Washington Nationals made this little boy happy! After the World Series, the reality that baseball was over for the 2019 season began to set in. I made sure to add a couple of t-shirts and sweatshirts and a cap to my collection to commemorate the event.

Official On-Field Celebration Cap

Since then, the colder, darker weather has begun settling in, and, like the leaves from the trees, browns, grays and subdued hues dominate. My running, which I resumed in July continues, and I average 12-13 miles per week, taking it 5 kilometers at a time.

I’ve also updated two of my other collections. I purchased a new SIG SAUER P365 handgun, after reading and watching the reports of this ground-breaking pistol from its early stages and rough spots, to being one of the most popular pistols in SIG’s catalog.

SIG P365 with Manual Safety

While not as aesthetically pleasing to me as the SIG P938, the size is quite similar, and its major feature is that it is capable of hold 10+1 rounds of 9mm ammunition in its micro-compact form. A new magazine design makes that happen. I also purchased a 12- and 15-round magazines for use at the pistol range. It feels very comfortable in my (small) hands, and I’m aiming to replace my P938 as my carry weapon.


I also added to my guitar collection. In my twisted way of thinking, I felt I was one Telecaster short, since I have five Stratocasters and only four Teles. One of those Strats is a G&L Tribue Legacy (G&L stands for George and Leo, the latter being Leo Fender, who, with his partners George Fullerton and Dale Hyatt, founded the company after Fender sold his original company), so after I spied a G&L Tele-style guitar called an ASAT, I fell in lust.

G&L Tribute Series ASAT Junior II

Besides the color (honestly, I’m not a “red guitar” guy, but two of my Strats are red!), I was taken by some of the specs: a pair of specially designed P90 pickups, and the 12-inch radius neck (the Brazilian Cherry looks an awful lot like Rosewood, which is currently on the CITES restriction list). Those two features made it read like a Gibson Les Paul, many of which boast those features. Indeed, plugging it in a playing it have already convinced me that P90s are pickups to be reckoned with. They’re awesome!

Incidentally, the name ASAT has a weird backstory. Yes, it’s all-capitals. Believe it or not, it’s a military acronym for “anti-satellite,” and not, as some people believe, “After Strat, After Tele.” The name was suggested by author Richard Smith after he read an article about the Air Force’s ASAT missile. Apparently Leo and Dale liked the image of a guitar shooting down things in space, and so the name “stuck.”

So now as the days continue to get shorter and the dark nights longer, I’ll have the opportunity to spend time at the range lighting things up, or at home, shaking things up!

Strike Three. Arghhhhh!!!

The God of the Universe apparently doesn’t want me to have a new mp3 player.

I rarely get upset about things, but this is one of those times when I’ve just about reached my limit.  

I’ve been around long enough to see technology replace technology.  Remember floppy disks? From 5-14″ to 3-1/2″ to CDs to DVDs and now to “cloud.”

As the late Paul Harvey used to say, “Not all that we call progress truly is.”

When I first started running a few decades ago, I liked to listen to music while outside, giving me some relief and distraction from the sometimes-boring miles I was putting down.  Believe it or not, I started with a Sony Walkman, a cassette player, strapped around my waist in a neoprene holder, earbud cable poking out of the back. When the cassette gave way to CD-ROM, I tried those, but the bouncing of the running movement made it impossible to track music smoothly. Then came mp3s.

Technically, mp3 is a shortened form of MPEG-3, the Motion Picture Experts Group standard (3) for coding digital audio (see: ). It has become the ubiquitous format for audio files. Pretty much everywhere (there are other formats, but they aren’t the subject of this post). A whole new industry took off, with pocket-sized devices designed to store and play audio files. “Mp3 players” they were called.

Fast-forward (you can read my previous post if you want more background on my experience). The state of mp3 players is nothing short of an unmitigated disaster, in my opinion.

I am about to return the third — yes, third — mp3 player I bought to replace an iPod that finally gave up the ghost. All three were manufactured by different vendors (although they’re Chinese, so maybe not). This last one, a SanDisk Clip Sport Plus, I thought was going to be the winner. Each device I’ve bought has cost a bit more. The SanDisk tipped the scales at $50. And I didn’t buy it through Amazon. 16GB of storage, Bluetooth, and FM radio. All of the features I wanted in a portable music player. And I’ve been quite satisfied with other SanDisk products I’ve bought!

For the third time, I waited for delivery, then removed it from its shipping container, plugged it in to charge it, and then plugged it into my computer.


Well, even though the box and SanDisk’s web site claim it’s compatible with macOS X 10.3 and higher, I’m always a bit skeptical. However, I have two Macs, and neither would see the device, I decided to take it to work and plug it into a Windows PC.

That’s when it all went south. No device recognized there, either. Sigh.

I’ve sent an email to SanDisk and to Adorama, where I purchased it. SanDisk says they will “get back to me,” and Adorama says they’ll contact me regarding a return. This is where Amazon shines — they’ll take an item back without question. Yes, it’s going back.

And this is really the last time I’m trying this. I have an iPhone, I have an Apple Watch, and I have several iPod Shuffles. Neither the watch nor the Shuffles will hold 16GB, but I’m just going to have to play “swap the files” when I want to update the music on them.

I’m so disappointed in the state of manufacturing these days. I think the time of carrying a portable music player are going the way of the Dodo.

The Acceptance Factor

I was recently diagnosed as Diabetic. I’m still processing that news. I guess at some point in everyone’s life, bad news about one’s health is inevitable. After all, no one lives forever.

My surprise came at the fact that I do not fit the profile of a Type-2 diabetic; I’m not overweight (5’10”, 147 lbs. a BMI of 21.1 – smack dab in the middle of “normal”), I don’t drink alcohol, sugary beverages, smoke, dine at fast-food restaurants, am relatively active, and feel great! But there it was: blood tests showed my hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c, also referred to simply as A1C) level at 13.

According to WebMD, a normal A1C reading is below 5.6. 5.7 to 6.4 suggests a pre-diabetes condition, and anything over is 100% diabetic. My test at 13 showed I had over twice the level of glycolated hemoglobin.

HbA1c Readings

So, in the face of immediate denial, I thought back on my behaviors over the past year. Sure, I don’t drink soda pop or eat greasy fast food, but I have been gorging on Starburst candies, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and lots of ice cream. Add pasta, rice and potato dishes more often than not, and there was certainly a recipe for disaster!

Starburst Candies
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. The “mini” size

A wake-up call, for sure! Here I am, a former marathon runner, getting old, sedentary and careless about my diet. My second thought, post-denial, is that diabetes is one condition that is managed by self-care. There are some, like Joel Fuhrman, MD, who believe that Type-2 diabetes is completely reversible! This is accomplished by adopting a new way of eating — a “nutritarian” approach, that focuses not on macronutrients (fat, protein, carbohydrates), but on food that are dense with nutrients, phytochemicals, vitamins, etc. He has a simple formula: H = N / C, where H is health, N is nutrients and C is calories. Focusing on macronutrients means counting calories. Focusing on micronutrients automatically reduces calorie intake and feeds (literally) the body what it needs.

There’s a lot of (often contradictory) information and advice online. While I’ve been researching, I’ve also started building a healthcare “team.” I now have a primary care physician, a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), an endocrinologist, and a dietician. In addition, I include my dentist, eyecare doctor and dermatologist. I will likely add a podiatrist to the list. But the “boss” of my health care is ME.

As in running, this battle will not be a sprint, but a marathon. I may experience setbacks, but I’m determined to lick this condition!

And Now, For Something New…

Yesterday was my last day working at the running store. Nearly seven years have passed since I first took the job — almost on a whim.

Well, not quite. I got divorced in 2010, and found myself with time on my hands. I volunteered to work a race packet pickup for the company in 2011, and soon found myself applying for part-time employment. I was hired, and over the years became a reliable, trusted and valuable employee. I was given a set of keys to the store, and a security code, that enabled me to open and close the store without supervision.

It was a lot of fun. I learned about running shoes and other facets of running and running gear. I met a lot of really nice people, and have had numerous customer compliments.

But times change. The company has had its ups and downs.  The Internet has affected many brick-and-mortar businesses, and the running store was no different.  Being locally owned, a “mom and pop store,” so to speak, the resources to compete against the giants are limited.  What they do have is a community mindset, trained running specialists, and a real desire to satisfy customers.  However, it’s a balancing act to keep costs low and grow or maintain a business.

Management has changed, and in my opinion, not for the better.  There is a lot of turnover, which is understandable when you consider all employees (except managers) are part-time.  It’s retail, so it’s mostly young people working for extra cash rather than people committed to the success of the business.  Store management is non-existent.  One man “manages” three stores, which in many ways means he isn’t managing any store.  Employees aren’t trained, and policies and procedures are being twisted store by store until no one knows how things are done.

I have no desire to be a manager, even though for the past couple of years I’ve felt like one.  So I decided to walk away.

Truthfully, I haven’t quit.  Part-time employees are asked to submit their availability for each upcoming month.  I have simply declared that I have no availability.  I have said that I can fill in if there is an emergency or special event, but I don’t want to be on a regular schedule.

So… what do I do about this site’s name and focus?  For now, I’m letting it stay.

Not “Tacticool”

It’s been a while since I posted anything here, so this is an attempt to make up for the lack.

First, at the end of December, I “officially” retired from running. The struggle I’ve had over the past several years with knee and hip issues finally led me to realize that I no longer had the wherewithal to put on the shoes and grind out 100 miles a month in pursuit of a thinner waistline and more ribbons and medals that I’m not even displaying anymore, anyway.  Not that I’ve stopped running (although the winter weather has halted things for now), but I’m not going to approach it with the same dedication I’ve had for the past 25 years.

Not content with being a couch potato, I’ve actually found a new interest that’s attracting a lot of my time:  Shooting.  More specifically, handgun target shooting.

Introduced to the sport by my son-in-law and daughter, who both own guns and shoot, and learning I have a five-star range halfway between home and work, the fit seems perfect!  Since my first foray at the range last November, I’ve taken a number of courses, purchased several handguns, and have applied for a concealed handgun permit (CHP).

Why this last? As odd as the answer may seem, it’s not to be a swaggering, gun-toting macho man.  The simple answer is that I want to be legal.  Here’s the oddity:  Virginia is an “open carry” state.  That means anyone, without needing a permit, is free to strap on a holster and carry a gun openly, except in certain prohibited areas (schools, government buildings, etc.).  However, if one’s open carry gun somehow becomes obstructed from view (say, by putting on a jacket and thus covering the gun), one is breaking the law without a required permit.  So, since I have to carry a gun between my home and the range, I decided a CCW (concealed carry weapon) permit would make me legal.

Owning guns is a responsibility second only to raising kids, in my opinion.  I’ve taken safety courses, and practice, practice, practice.  I take to heart the cardinal rules of guns:

  1. Every gun is always loaded. Never assume a gun is unloaded, or believe someone who says it is.  Never. Always clear a gun before you handle it.
  2. Keep your finger off the trigger. A gun will not discharge if the trigger isn’t pulled. So only place your finger on the trigger when you’re ready to pull it.  This is known colloquially as “keeping the booger hook off the bang switch.” 
  3. Never point a gun at something you don’t want to destroy/kill. Not in jest, not by accident, not even with an empty gun.
  4. Know your target and its environment. This means not only being sure of what you’re shooting at, but also being aware of what’s behind it and in front of it.
  5. Keep the mechanical safety engaged until you’re ready to shoot. Not every gun has a mechanical safety, but if it does, use it!

I’ll post more here shortly.  With some severe winter weather, I’ve found myself indoors a lot, so I pulled out my other “shooter” and have taken a number of photos I’ll share with you.

Logging Runs

This is part shout-out, part unsolicited recommendation and 100% rave.

Sometimes the little guys get it right. And when they do, they should be recognized for it. Eric Yee gets it right.

A little background: There are a plethora of web sites about running. Some of these are corporate sites, like Garmin‘s, which provide a means for users of Garmin GPS watches and devices to upload and store their collected data. Some sites are forums, some are training programs, and many are a mix of the above. The explosion of mobile apps has created a whole new generation of web sites focused on serving these apps. Many of these sites make their money by subscription, “gold” level memberships and the like.

A few years ago, I used a web site to track not only my running, but also my gym workouts and more. Unfortunately, the site’s creator stopped supporting it, and my $25 per year subscription was not giving me the value I sought.  I searched around a bit, and found a lot of sites.

The problem with many of the sites seemed to be the lack of focus; there seemed to be more bickering and personality conflicts than there was actual running information. As many runners may remember, 2008 saw a major upheaval among several of the top sites, as one acquired the other, and the fallout was extreme and a lot of bitter feelings were expressed.

Enter Eric Yee. Eric’s site is, and it’s been online for years. Maybe it’s flown under the radar (although the active membership seems to be quite large), or maybe I’m just bowing to the principle that when you’ve found something you’re looking for, you stop looking!

RunningAHEAD includes the ability to upload data from Garmin and other devices, create and save courses, list personal records, maintain an equipment log, produce reports on configurable parameters, create a training program, and a host of widgets, tools, and custom displays.  Add to this the ability to create user groups, join other groups, and participate in forums, and you have a soup-to-nuts solution for every runner.

Here’s an example of a live widget that posts my last five runs:

Running Log powered by RunningAHEAD

Oh by the way, did I mention it’s FREE? Well, there is a slight wrinkle: a free account includes some advertising, but it’s usually unobtrusive and pertinent.  One can (and I do) contribute to the site’s upkeep, and Eric will remove the advertising.  Nice.

I’ve been a happy user of for five years. After a run, the first thing I do is connect my Garmin Forerunner to my computer, open my browser to the site, upload my data and review my run. It’s become a regular part of my running routine. Thanks, Eric!

So What’s With The Shoe?

The shoe shown in the header image is the new Saucony Virrata.  Runner’s World gave it a Best Debut award when Saucony introduced it in early 2013.  Designed to be a “zero drop” shoe (no offset from heel to midfoot), the Virrata goes the minimalist shoes one better by retaining some foam beneath the foot.

Runner’s World claims their tests show it to actually have a 4mm drop, but I’ve run in the Kinvara (Saucony’s other minimalist trainer), which I absolutely loved, and it has a drop I don’t feel in the Kinvara.

In any event, at 6.7oz (men’s) this is a lightweight, minimalist running shoe that still provides a measure of cushioning.  Since I am blessed to work at a running store part time, I am able to purchase shoes at a discount.  The Virrata isn’t my daily runner, but it’s a sweet option when I’m choosing!