Coffee Stains and Other Cool Stuff


It’s been a good couple weeks.  Let me recap some of the cool highlights:

A week ago Friday, after having vented in this blog about how my work life feels like starring in Raiders of the Lost Ark, I walked into a meeting and heard music playing as I took my seat.  When I write these posts, I tend to forget that some of my readers are co-workers, so it took a moment for it to sink in that the music filling the room was the Indiana Jones theme.  I looked up and saw two of my colleagues grinning, one of them with her iPhone, the source of the music, on the table in front of her.  We made eye contact and laughter ensued.  They’ve been feeling the endless string of perils at work, too, and we all needed a good laugh to break the tension, like Indy shooting the flamboyant sword-wielding guy. It’s cool to have friends that are both supportive and smart-assy.

That Saturday, I spent a large portion of the day with my brother watching episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series.  Specifically, we watched special effects shots.  He had recently acquired the Blu-ray edition of the series, which includes both the digitally enhanced and  original 1960s effects.  We compared shots of Klingon battle cruisers, the planet-killer from “The Doomsday Machine” episode, and the coffee stains on Spock’s tunic in “The Trouble With Tribbles.”  That last one isn’t a special effect shot, but the stain – resulting from Leonard Nimoy’s lunch break coffee-spilling mishap – is only visible on Blu-ray and is worth seeing if you have the opportunity, and you’re a geek.  I realize this level of fan-boying may seem sad to the non-Trekkie, but I see it as art appreciation.  You can’t argue that Star Trek isn’t an important cultural artifact of Western civilization, and this year marks the 50th anniversary of the show’s premiere.  Studying the craftsmanship that went into producing the landmark show strikes me as a noble pursuit.  Well, if not noble, at least cool.

Later that night, I went to the Tacoma Dome to see Black Sabbath on their farewell tour.  I’m confident this will be the last time the original band members – sans drummer Bill Ward – will tour together.  I don’t expect the Sabs to follow the Rolling Stones approach of a “going-out-of business sale” every couple years, so I’m glad I got to see them one last time.  To commemorate the event, I bought a tour t-shirt.  The exorbitant Sabbath merchandise prices meant that that t-shirt is the one of the most expensive articles of clothing I own.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to pay for my ticket into the show, as I was chaperoning a neighbor’s son.  He didn’t really need a chaperone since he’s a senior in high school, but his parents felt more comfortable knowing he was with a responsible adult (stop laughing), so they bought my ticket.  He is an aspiring musician and burgeoning metal fan, and I was happy to hang out with him to watch the originators of metal say farewell.  It was a scrapbook-worthy night for both of us.  I encouraged him to start listening to Amon Amarth – purveyors of Viking Metal – so that we could go see them perform when the tour rolls into Seattle in May.  I told him I would get him into the mosh pit.  Don’t worry, mom and dad, he’ll be safe.  I broke my leg in a pit, so I’ve learned what not to do (i.e., stage diving is a bad idea).  It’ll be cool.

Earlier this weekend, I ran seventeen miles as part of the training plan for the marathon I will be running in May.  I intended to join my running teammates, but most of them were only planning to run fourteen miles.  That required me to start early and get three miles in before we teamed up.  It was a small price to pay for the chance to run with others and pass the time through conversation and communal breathing and striding (see my previous post for more more about that).  However, I ended up running my own pace, which put me a couple minutes behind the speedier members of the team and a few minutes ahead of the run/walkers.  While I was, arguably, running by myself, I still felt supported by my fellow runners. I also felt supported by Kate and Lori who set up a makeshift water stop five miles into the route, which was very cool.  I ran the last mile with Erica, who had dropped back from the front, and when we got to the end, we compared pace information with Jill, who had finished first.  She informed us that the route – according to her GPS watch – was only thirteen miles.  Since I was scheduled for seventeen, my rudimentary math skills made it clear I had one more mile to go.  I said my goodbyes and headed out for one last slow, painful mile before returning home to the bliss of my couch.  That’s the first time I’ve run seventeen miles in over ten years.  Pretty cool.  If I can just tack on another nine miles, I’ll have another marathon finisher’s medal for the collection.  Of course, nine more miles on top of seventeen means I’ve got work a bit more work to do.

Today, President’s Day, marks the end of the Holiday Eating Season.  I, of course, go by the extended calendar, in which holiday eating begins around Halloween, carries through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, the Super Bowl, and Valentine’s Day, and ends in honor of Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays.  To commemorate, I will spend the afternoon sipping wine and eating cheese acquired from a fromagerie recently opened by the teacher of the “French for Travelers” class who helped prepare my wife, mom, and I for the big trip to Europe a couple years ago; the trip about which I am trying to write my next book.  I am somewhere between beginning and finishing that book.  I wish I could be more specific. Like my marathon training, there’s a lot more work to be done.

Speaking of beginnings, tomorrow I’m starting a 90-day round of clean living.  The holiday eating season did serious damage to my body mass index, so I need to reset and get back into a better routine.  I’ve got 90 days until I run that marathon, so I’m planning to get into  the best shape possible.  Until I toe the line: no beer, more veggies, and minimal desserts.  And, yes, less cheese.  In place of my bad dietary habits, I’m going to substitute large doses of heavy metal and outbursts of writing about Europe, along with running, Star Trek, and friends.  There’s lots of cool stuff to enjoy along the way.

As we enter the holiday drought – with no Federal holidays until Memorial Day – I encourage you to appreciate the cool little things, like being teased by your well meaning co-workers, spending time with your brother, hanging out with a young music fan, going for a painfully long run with your friends, struggling to figure out a writing project, or noticing the coffee stains on Spock’s shirt.  Life is full of beginnings, endings, and struggles in between, so enjoy as much as you can along the way.


One thought on “Coffee Stains and Other Cool Stuff

  1. A lovely, almost rambling post, and as usual I enjoyed the writing. Yes, will the Europe vacation book ever get done? I need to get my butt in gear and do at least one book in my life. How hard could it be. Never mind, you make it sound kind of hard! I think my trouble is I just want it to be perfect, but no book is ever perfect, so I keep putting it off because it won’t be perfect. That and I have no idea what to write about.

    I consider myself rather the Star Trek geek, and I never knew that fact about Spock’s coffee stain. That’s good stuff ! You can bet I’ll be pulling up that episode soon.

    Thanks Todd!

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