Tuesday, April 9, 2013

School nicknames, from Hot Dogs to Penguins (Oh, and about my running)

This is a little off the beaten path from my last two posts about being healthy. You know, there's more to me than just that!

Anyway, I've always been kind of intrigued by school nicknames, whether at the high school or college level. When I went to Frankfort High School a couple years ago, I took a picture of the Hot Dog paintings at Case Arena, primarily for my wife, who loves her dachshund. I love the unique nicknames. A former best friend once bragged that his school was the only school in the nation to use the Argylls. I believe that. And one of my all-time favorites, because I'm a dog lover and because of their clever play on their town's name: A small town in Wayne County named Boston, when it still had a high school, was the Boston Terriers.

So what's my point? Well, it's this poster of all college teams in the nation, from Division I to Division III, categorized by their nickname. I bet I spent 30 minutes pouring over this, and here are some of the things I learned:

-- There are 43 colleges that go by Tigers (and that doesn't count "colorful Tigers" such as the Lincoln Blue Tigers), including two schools both named the Trinity Tigers.
-- There are 60 Eagles, plus 15 more that go by Golden Eagles.
-- There are three schools the poster lists under "Birds," but that category has 20 sub-categories, including Penguins (Youngstown State, and Dominican) and Ducks (Oregon and Stevens Tech)
-- When a school has a one-of-a-kind nickname, the poster creator has grouped them by certain subjects. There is a "Colors" section. Under "Blue" is Illinois College Blueboys, John Carroll Blue Streaks and Millikan Big Blue.
-- There are four unique schools listed under "People," but a whole bunch of sub-categories branching out from that, including Professions, Warriors, Lakers and Quakers.
-- If you didn't know the separation between Division I and Division III and heard that the Cardinals and Wolverines were playing in Monday night's championship game, the matchup could have featured any of 16 Cardinals (including Ball State, of course) and 4 Wolverines.
-- Indiana University is among 8 schools that use their state nickname as their own, along with the Sooners, the Tar Heels, the Buckeyes and more.

What's your favorite school nickname?

Side note: I ran 3 miles outside again today, and I sort of feel like I'm having an affair on the Y, and the road is my mistress. When I'm ready to extend beyond 3 miles, I could pretty easily run right by the Y, and how awkward would that be, running past without stopping to even scan my pass? I felt like I ran a little faster than last time, but the clock said I was on the same pace. Today's strong winds probably played with my mind a bit.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Exercise Lightbulb

I've never considered myself to be absolutely full of smarts, but recently I had an "Aha moment" while running.

Throughout my 45 years, I've had small stretches where I've tried to run. First competitively, in junior high (I brought home a second-place ribbon in a "B" race once), and then on several different occasions as an adult, when I tried to add some exercise to my life.

But in each of those adult efforts, there were two major problems for me:
     1) I had a very specific goal in front of me, like a scheduled event, and when I achieved that goal, the running stopped. Immediately. Several years ago, I worked pretty hard as part of a team sprint triathlon; I was doing the running leg. Felt pretty good about myself, and I ran the 5K without stopping. But when that Saturday was over, I didn't run again for over a year.
     2) I  hate treadmills. When I started this weight-loss challenge with Jess several weeks ago, I decided to make running part of my routine. But I would get on the treadmill at the Y and would immediately start staring at the screen in front of me that tells me how far I've run. First I would watch the tenths of a mile tick off, and then I would start thinking, "OK, just three more hundredths of a mile and then I've run another tenth!" It was all I could do to run a mile before my mind just couldn't take the distance-watching anymore. Finally, about a month ago, I got to where I could go 1.5 miles. But it was painful to my mind.

And then Ivy, the office marathoner who runs 7-8 miles on her days of rest, convinced me one sunny day to run outside. "You couldn't pay me to be on a treadmill on a day like this," she said. As I got home, I didn't pull in the drive. Instead, I drove away from the house and watched my odometer, taking note of spots 1 mile from the house and 1.5 miles from the house. Then I drove back home, changed my clothes and hit the road, music in my ears. I ran all the way to the 1.5-mile spot without really thinking about it, then turned around and ran home. And on the way back, the lightbulb went on.

This was SOOO much easier than a treadmill, because I wasn't obsessing over those tenths of a mile, and because I couldn't just press the stop button and step off. I was a mile, 1.5 miles, from home. I had to get back, so I might as well keep running. Oh sure, I had my phone with me and could have called Dawn. 'Honey, will you come get me? I'm tired." But that would have been more embarrassing than only running a mile on the treadmill. And anyway, she was enjoying dinner with some friends, so I didn't want to bother her.

So I kept running, finished the full 3 miles without stopping and walked in the house totally satisfied and proud.

And I did it again tonight. Next step: Mark off 2- and 2.5-mile spots away from home, so I can work up to 4- and 5-mile runs.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Where my parents failed me

I love my mom, and loved dad, too, before cancer took him from us. They raised me right, gave me a good church foundation, taught me to love Minnesota fishing vacations, kept me mostly happy and well-behaved.

But in recent weeks, I've learned one area where they failed me. And that's the proper method for eating a grapefruit. I've always halved them and then cut up all those little triangular pieces of the fruit, just like my dad ate them so frequently for breakfast. It's easy enough, and I enjoy drinking the juice out of the peel bowls at the end.

I have, however, officially declared that to be the WRONG way to eat a grapefruit. My new method takes a little more time, and is a little messier, but the reward at the end makes it totally worth it. This video I found online demonstrates it as well as I could, so check it out.

(mobile and tablet users, if you can't see the video player, try this link: Eat a grapefruit this way!)

Basically, you're undressing the flesh of the fruit. Take off the peel and the white pithy stuff, like how most people peel an orange, and then peel back the thin layer of skin off each section to expose the best part. The woman in the video uses her fingernails to peel back the skin; I usually keep a sharp knife by my side to slit the skin for a starting point.

When you're done, you have a pile of grapefruit that's ready to explode its juices in your mouth, without the obstacle of the skin and without leaving part of the fruit in the peel.

I'll never cut a grapefruit in half again. Now, my first post in this new blog mentioned that you won't often get me too opinionated, so just don't consider this opinion. It's a fact that this method is better than the other.

Best part: When you learn a new and exciting way to eat something healthy, it makes keeping bad foods out of your diet that much easier.