Sunday, July 31, 2011

July check-in.

45.5 miles for me. I wanted more, but July 2011 was the hottest month ever in DC history, so I just couldn't manage it.

What've y'all got?

Long Runs

As I've mentioned before, i'm working on increasing my mileage in attempts to be able to run a marathon next Spring. With that goal in mind, I laced up for my longest run in 15 years this morning. My GPS crapped out on me, but as far as I can tell from Google Maps, I ran ~8.8 miles, finishing in 1:15, just around my typical 8:30 minute mile pace. Can't say it was easy! I took two short walks and while I didn't have any chafing or blister issues, I did run short of energy towards the end (no breakfast or coffee so I didn't have to go to the bathroom, the bane of morning runs - guess I should start investing in those energy goos). I also, surprisingly, found that my shoulders got very sore. I've known that I should focus a bit on my upper arm strength so that my arms don't get tired on longer runs, but this is the first time that i've actually felt acute fatigue in my arms.

Over 12 hours later, I feel good, if a bit sore, but my legs still feel like they have no strength left in them. Building up muscular endurance for roughly 3x what I did today is going to be challenging!

Wakefield Humor,21031/

Friday, July 29, 2011

"Short" Runs

This morning I got out for a 3.3 mile run. In my mind, I thought of it as a short run, then I stood back and realized that it wasn't so long ago that a ~3 mile run was just about all I did. Just a few months ago, my new normal run length of 5-6 miles was considered extra-long distance. Not sure how I got here but I like it. The "short" distance was almost refreshing!

Joel, I know you're a monster distance runner; what's a short run in your book? What about you Eric? I know you also cross-train so I'm sure that affects your distance, no?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

book recommendations?

not that i'm reading much these days, given life's events....  but my queue has been flushed (apart from some stragglers i'm hesitant to get to) and i'm too tired to do the normal research i do in order to find new books to read.

most of the better books i've read of late have been recommendations from todd and joel anyway, so, what do you say guys?

Historically Good

I knew that the Red Sox lineup was amazing, but this fact is incredible:

Each of the top five hitters in the Red Sox lineup has an OPS over .865:
Jacoby Ellsbury .911
Dustin Pedroia .893
Adrian Gonzalez .973
Kevin Youkilis .890
David Ortiz .960
The rest of the American League combined has five.
Jose Bautista Blue Jays 1.138
Miguel Cabrera Tigers .986
Paul Konerko White Sox .935
Curtis Granderon Yankees .930
Jhonny Peralta Tigers .901

ellsbury's RBIs

jacoby ellsbury is having, by any angle, a phenomenal season.  now hitting .325, it seems he's really started to find power in his swing with 17 HRs (3 fewer than papi, the same as adrian gonzalez ((who needs a nickname))).

the thing that amazes me is 60 RBIs.  that's good for 4th on the team, but ellsbury is the LEAD OFF batter.  here are some other lead-off batter's RBI stats from the AL:  gardner from the yankees has 21 (jeter has 34), kinsler from the rangers has 41, izturis from the angels has 24, jackson from the tigers has 24, ichiro from the mariners has 26, pierre from the white sox has 26.  i don't know how this compares historically, but it seems pretty incredible to me.  i do know the most RBIs ever for a lead off batter is 100.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

(Not) Running on Treadmills

I've always been skeptical of treadmills. It seems to me they take away all the fun of running. (Certainly, I've never seen anyone who looks like they are having fun on a treadmill.)

That being said, they have their place. This week's heat has got me thinking that I may have to break down and resort to one if I want any exercise this weekend. As for winter, I've never been afraid to run in the cold, but then, I've never run outside in Boston in January, either. And of course, for those of us who are parents, a treadmill at home may help one to exercise and keep in running shape while fulfilling parental responsibilities.

Do you use treadmills? Do you find that a mile on a treadmill is "equivalent" exercise to running outside? (I've heard some people say that adding a 1% incline to a treadmill helps to make it more equivalent - true?) How long can you stay on a treadmill before you get bored out of your mind?

Friday, July 22, 2011

So. Hot.

I got up at 5:30 for my morning run. By the time I tossed back a cuppa coffee and laced up the shoes, it was almost 6:00. The thermometer read 80 degrees, and the huge hazy sun was already making the non-shady streets difficult to stand. When I returned home 45 minutes later, I figured out exactly why: in addition to the heat, the dew point was 73 and humidity was 80%. Yikes. Not optimal conditions, although i'm addicted enough to the run that i'll continue to wake up at ungodly hours to get them in. I'm not complaining about summer - I do remember how awful this winter was! - but I am looking forward to running during my lunch hour without it feeling like attempted suicide.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Awesomeness of the Bard

So I knew that Bard was pitching lights out recently. What I didn't know was just how good he's been:
[Bard has] allowed a grand total of seven runs in 47 innings, including a Red Sox-record 21 straight scoreless appearances dating all the way back to May 23. ...That stretch includes 22.2 scoreless innings, during which time opponents have batted just .108 with one extra-base hit against Bard and he’s lowered his ERA from 3.65 to 1.90.
That's pretty awesome, and more food for the "Bard will be the closer next year" assumption that most Sox observers preach. However, I found this article interesting in that it presents an interesting scenario in which the Sox would sign Papelbon to an extension. Money quote:
Brian MacPherson's... thinking: there are a lot of relief pitchers who will be available this winter, which could depress Papelbon’s asking price on the open market. At the same time, Papelbon has been really good this year, reminding the Sox of just what they’ve had and what they might miss.
I don't really buy it, mainly because I still think Paps will demand more money than his performance really dictates, but it does seem foolish to let go of a decent reliever knowing how hard it is to find good ones out there.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Advice for Writers

I loved this article about how best to encourage young writers that was summarized by TNC as "...not just good advice for making writers, it's good advice for parenting. Failure and boredom are underrated forces for good in this world."

(I'm assuming that posting about writing falls under the scope of the "reading" portion of this blog. If you disagree, just let me know.)

Red Sox, Running, Reading

I'm locked out of the Red Sox action again - believes that I am in the viewing zone for Baltimore games, even though no Baltimore games come in on my TV. Sigh.

I'm pretty amazed that we are first in the AL at this point. The rotation is in shambles, the bullpen isn't that much better, and though the lineup is the best in the big leagues, there are more than a couple players who aren't yet living up to expectations. I hope we work out the kinks in the coming months, because the NL is looking strong.

Not only have I not been watching baseball, I've not been running. Great weather this past weekend, but we had plans to go up to NYC, and there wasn't really time to work in a long run. I satisfied myself by watching runners in Central Park. Hundreds of them, running around the reservoir. It is amazing what a variety of forms and gaits people have, and how form doesn't correlate with speed, or age, or how much people spend on their running clothes.

Later, I went to down to Jackrabbit Sports, my favorite running store in New York. (Sad, to say, DC doesn't have a great running store.) Although I had no intention of buying anything, I tried on several pairs of shoes and ran in them on the treadmill, just for fun. Was this wrong of me? (Basically, it's the equivalent of browsing in a bookstore, and though I had some help from an employee, I expect they are paid by the hour?) Anyhow, I tried on the Brooks Launch, and liked it very much; it may be the next pair of shoes I buy, whenever the time comes. Incredibly light and comfortable and nicely padded, just what I am looking for in a distance shoe. I was also intrigued by the Adidas Adios. It was just a bit narrow, and just a bit too firm underfoot for me (it's more of a racing shoe) but the upper was oh-so light and comfortable.

I'm itching for a long run this weekend, but the weekend highs are supposed to be near 100s, and the early morning low temperatures are still supposed to be in the 80s, with plenty of humidity. My office has a gym in the building, and though I don't like treadmills at all, I'm tempted....

Also: plenty of reading on the train! Book reviews (yes, plural) coming soon.

It's Time

This is not a news flash, but J.D. Drew has lost it. He was the only starter not to have a hit last night, as evidenced here. I'm not sure what options the Sox have here - even though this is his last year, Drew's still making a LOT of money and is not attractive in a trade. Regardless, I don't think that Tito can continue to play him. Half the season is over and he continues to look completely lost at the plate. I'm not a huge McDonald fan, but at this point I think he has more upside than Drew. What are your thoughts? Personally, I'm just not sure I can bear to watch him strike out in the midst of another rally again - it's just too painfully predictabl to watch.

Island Running

I spent all of last week on Block Island enjoying a vacation. Since it was a vacation, I spent a good chunk of it relaxing and drinking too many beers, so I didn’t lace on the shoes as much as I should have. In fact, most of my runs were just quick .9 mile jaunts to and from the beach for sunset swims. However, I did get out for two nice runs that I’d like to share with you.

My first big run was an attempt at running the island trails. Since a surprisingly large portion of Block Island is conservation land – part of the reason why it’s so damned beautiful – there are a lot of walking/running paths called the "Greenway." Frank and I both found this running challenging: the middle of the island consists of rolling hills, so the running was up and down and side to side - like running through a skateboarding park. It felt isolated – and at times it was – but since BI is only 10 square miles, we were continually surprised the sight of a house or road through a narrow gap of foliage on the side of the trail. Overall, it was fun, and I’d do it again, except for my major complaint: these trails were NOT well marked. Frank had even sprung for the official trail map, but not even that prevented us from getting lost THREE times, and eventually we were forced to make our way over to the airport rather than on the southern part of the island as we had hoped. For that reason alone, I really can’t recommend this run.
But most people go to BI for the beach, and IMO outside of actually running on the beach (and Crescent Beach is the best beach running on the island, as long as you do it early or late in the day), your best bet is to run up and down Corn Neck Road. This road goes from Old Harbor – the only town on the island – all the way up to the island’s northern point. Not only do you start with the incredible view of Crescent Beach curving in and away from you, but you also get to see the “true” BI once you get away from the crowded part of the southern island. Small rolling hills – nothing like what’s in Ashland! – take you into farmland and mansion country, where bucolic scenes meet your every foot strike. Sounds cheesy but it isn’t: the entire journey is a feast for your eyes. After about 3 miles, you start to see the ocean on either side of you as the road curves around Sashem Pond and ends a half-mile before the dramatically isolated North Lighthouse. The beach run to the lighthouse and the peak of the island is a bit rocky but well worth the trip as you get to stand on a narrow spit of land and watch the rip tide. There and back was a mellow 8 mile loop, and I loved every minute of it. I hope to run it again sometime.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

my never final say on barefoot running

i had the opportunity to run barefoot (or nearly so, i was wearing socks) the other day...  and so i did.  not far, and not for long, but it was absolutely enlightening.

the short version:  i'm done (kind of) trying to ween myself from running shoes.

a little bit longer version:  the experience of actual (almost) barefoot running was really great.  for about 10 minutes.  the pressure on my knees, my ankles, hips, etc...  it wasn't there.  my stride felt so incredibly efficient and natural.  after 10 minutes, i had to stop due to blisters that formed on the formost part of my foot, directly in the center, behind the toes.

no brainer:  it takes a long time to build up the kind of callouses you need to run barefoot, and even then, there are things in the road you quite simply cannot build up enough protection against (i found a surprising number of sharp little cell phone parts strewn about, for one).  i live in a city and i don't see myself moving out of it anytime soon...  the fact that i need SOME protection is, well, a no brainer.

so why not minimalist trainers?  i've done a bit of running in minimal shoes (keen sandals, slip-on canvas "sneakers") and found the experience to be completely different than running barefoot.  a couple clear points 1.) i very clearly land mid-to-fore foot when running barefoot, 2.) the pads of the front of my feet seem to hit the ground just before my spread out toes, 3.) the instantanous sensation of the foot pad and then toes seems to clue my body in very naturally to what kind of pressure, how long to keep the foot down, etc...  4.) none of this happens naturally with any kind of shoes on (that i've tried).

so, for me, not matter what shoes i'm wearing, it's still not the same as barefoot running.

important too is the fact that each step is different, based on terrain, body position, level of effort required, etc...  we don't all run on completely flat surfaces 100% of the time.  what i found was a shocking amount of variety of "steps" that i did when running barefoot.  this, for me, cannot be replicated with shoes on; without all the sensory feedback.

i learned i cannot run without shoes and i learned that minimal shoes don't bring me near to what i'm hoping to achieve from running barefoot.

so last night i strapped my trainers on and ran, thinking, you know what, this is it...  enjoy your run, it is what it is.  i CAN say i learned a lot about foot PLACEMENT from running barefoot (i.e. to SIT a bit more on my run so that my knee and ankle are slightly bent when my foot hits the ground, to not allow my stride to go out in front of me, which makes me feel like i'm falling forward at first, but then really settles in naturally, to let my foot land where comfortable for the particular stride, not necessarily forcing my foot to land of the balls of my feet, etc) which i can actively apply to my running form in shoes.  and, so i'm told, if you don't something long enough, it starts to become easier.  isn't that what running is all about?

maybe in some part, but running for me really is about enjoying myself.  and despite the small form adjustments i made on last night's run, i really just ran for the fun of it, didn't worry so much about doing it this way or that way.

you can tell i'm not being very scientific about this...  i don't WANT to be.  i just want to do what works for me.  so, i do not own motion controlled shoes any more...  i am smarter and more educated in my form...  but all in all, i'm just out there doing it the way that works best for ME, the way that makes me happiest.

at least for now.

Monday, July 11, 2011


One of the great things about running for long stretches of time is seeing the double takes that people do. Last week, I casually mentioned to my wife that I was planning to run to Alexandria and back on Saturday. "That's nice," she said as she kept reading her magazine. Two seconds later, her head popped up. "What?? How far is that?"

Turns out that it's 21.1 miles roundtrip.

One of the less great things about running for long stretches of time is friction. For me, it leads to blisters (on my feet) and rashes (on my thighs.) Both of these are made worse by the heat. So, I decided to try out some remedies while running to Alexandria. Specifically, I chipped in for a pair of UnderArmour boxer briefs and a roll of duct tape.

In particular, I went for the UnderArmour O Series 9" boxer briefs. The marketing talks about how the fabric is comprised of Moisture Transport Systems and other technologies, but when it comes right down to it, these are Spandex. But after I got used to the fact that I was the only one on the trail running in Spandex, they did the job. Not even a speck of heat rash at the end of my run. No need to write a long review; suffice it to say that I love these.

The duct tape is a solution for blisters that I've read about in any number of articles and on any number of websites. Wrap it around the areas that are prone to lister and voila! No more friction. So they say. The only problem is, 6 miles into my run, I could feel that the duct tape had come loose and was scrunching into a painful ball. I had to find a bench, remove my shoe, remove my socks, remove the tape, replace my (wet and sticky) socks, replace my shoes, and get going again. Ugh.

So, I was 1 for 2 in my experimentation. I'll admit I stopped my watch when I took the tape off my feet, and also a couple of other times when I halted to buy additional drinks or to wait at a traffic light. But, when I was moving, I averaged a 10:43 mile. Not fast, but getting faster.

I was particularly happy with this time because the Mount Vernon Trail, which I had expected to be flat, involved a lot of ups and downs (it follows alongside the freeway, and the ups and down are overpasses over various offshoots). It also involved a lot of fast moving bikers, most of when were very polite, but a few who thought that the trail was not meant for runners. Otherwise, though, it was a great run. Along the way, I passed right next to the airport, with jet airplanes very low overhead; some historic neighborhoods; beautiful marsh; and lots of geese. Lots and lots of geese.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Reading on Vacation

Every summer, I take a summer vacation near a beach. Most times, it's Cape Cod, but this year I'm spending a week on Block Island. One of the things I love most about vacation is discovering new books by browsing the books that live in the cottage in which I'm staying. This year I found John Adams by David McCullough, and so am laying down on the porch with a frosty beer and reading about the American Revolution. It doesn't get much better than this.

What are your favorite summer/beach books? I have to say that normally I indulge my weakness for Tom Clancy-style novels when i'm near the beach, so this year is a bit of anomaly.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Running and Nature

I don’t live in a rural area. At least, not by my standards: in my mind, Ashland, MA is a typical suburbia in that it’s a place where they cut down trees and name the streets after them. (There are no actual Ash trees left in Ashland.) So it’s been suprising to me that I’ve seen so much wildlife on my last two runs. These include:
- Two young white-tail deer. Disturbed them munching on some bushes right next to a busy road (Rte. 30).
- Woodchuck. The size of the burrow that this guy ducked into was very impressive.
- ~Six turkeys. Looked like a momma and her young.
- Lots of rabbits, a few here, one or two there.
- A squirrel in its death throes after being hit by a car. Coming up upon this poor guy I thought that it was a piece of paper caught up in the breeze, but quickly realized my mistake. An ugly scene made worse because there was nothing I could do to put the poor thing out of its misery.
It's interesting to note that the deer, woodchuck and turkeys were perfectly happy doing their thing next to busy roads. it was only when I came by that they got spooked and bolted away. I figure that they've figured out that cars can't leave the road and so are okay being right next to the road, but people outside of cars are still unpredictable and so spark the flight mechanism.
Any good nature sightings on your recent runs?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

porn, vampires and serial killers

last week i completed The Serialist by David Gordon, yet another highly touted debut novel.  the book features henry bloch, a writer under every name but his own, who writes a column in a porn mag, vampire novels, sci-fi novels and urban, inner-city novels....  all under different pseudonyms.  his long-time girlfriend has left him and henceforth not only found some success in the writing world, but married a successful writer (whose novel smugly stares at him on feature at the local bookstore, as he digs his just-released vampire novel out and places in alongside on the feature display).  it's not far into this one that i became worried this would be another of those woe-is-me, struggling writer in new york novels.

but inasmuch as the book certain is partly that, the plot thickens when harry receives a fan letter from a prisoner who read his porn column.  this prisoner, a well known serial killer nearing his final days on death row, has an interesting proposition for harry, involving harry writing his memoir (harry's ticket to success?).

what follows is a story full of murder (3 straight books i've read dealing with murders of some variety...  i don't think i've read that many books where murder is a central theme in the past 10 years), sex, criminal investigations, braggery and insecurity...  a strange mix of a lot of the same stories you've heard before, but juxtaposed together in a way you haven't seen them before.

i don't think this book would pull in those who want pure crime fiction, nor do i think it's going to appeal to the sci-fi vampire crowd, nor will it grab the literary heads.  but it's got enough of each of these little plot lines that it'll grab a lot of people's attention, as it already has.

i'm not going out on any limbs for this book.  i enjoyed reading it, but there were moments i absolutely despised....  moments when gordon's too cool for school, indie-writer humor nauseated me
He wore plastic red eyeglass frames and a Gumby T-shirt and sat with a woman whom i recognized as important from somewhere. Maybe on Charlie Rose. "Thanks," the young writer began. "This story is from my book. It's called, 'The Alien Invasion of Scarsdale.'" There was a lot of overly enthusiastic laughter at this. Branborn laughed too. "I used to really dig these toys called Transformers. Does anybody here remember Transformers?" More whoops and howls. "Cool. Well this takes place in the summer of 1990, which, as you might remember, was the last year for the original Japanese line of Transformers." "Yes!" someone shouted, and Michael laughed again.  "All right. Cool. Ha. OK so anyway, here's the story." He took a sip of Brooklyn Beer from the bottle.
Gordon goes out of his way to set himself apart from the tragically trendy; and after reading the book, i can't help but feel it's his strong desire to be up on that pedestal that drives his scorn for it. There are so many occasions when Gordon is downright funny (for example, the way he uses his friends, his mother, or even himself in woman's clothing to fake photographs for the fake authors he is in his various writings), sad (his best friend is a high school girl whom he tutors, and he clearly isn't over his ex), dark (towards the end, the portrait he paints of the serial killer is pretty chilling) that i can forgive him for trying, at times, to kill me with corny clever-ness; he took on something hard to take on, and, while he didn't amaze me, the book rarely left my hands until it was done.

like his ideas or not, he writes well...  and maybe he sums up his book best when he writes:
What love poem, what manifesto, what high cry of art has ever done what the lowest, dumbest scratch of dirty words can do to a lonely soul late at night?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Book Review: In a Strange Room

Among other books this past weekend, I read In a Strange Room, by Damon Galgut.
As someone who enjoys traveling, and who also enjoys the idea of traveling, I found Galgut's work to be both brutally honest, and deeply disturbing.

Galgut's South African narrator (who may or may not be Galgut himself) recalls three different episodes of travel in his life, taking him through Europe, India and Africa. But while he is able to negotiate his way across countries' borders, he finds himself unable to engage meaningfully with others.

Parts of his travels unfold like psychological thrillers, a la Ian McEwan. However, where McEwan's writing is unfailingly beautiful, Galgut's is bleak. In tone, the writing reminded me of Camus's The Stranger, which also explores the theme of alienation. However, Damon's failure to connect with others is perhaps even more disquieting because he has tried (and failed) repeatedly.

I found this book impossible to put down, even though I can hardly say I enjoyed the experience of reading it.

Intentional Walks

The Red Sox came awfully close to blowing their 3-run lead last night. The chatter has largely centered on the exciting play at the plate - but that play would have been non-issue if Papelbon hadn't given up a two-run homer to Jose Bautista earlier in the inning.

Bautista is the only AL batter currently contending with Adrian Gonzalez for the title of MVP. he has a .331 batting average, and 28 home runs. He has the highest on base percentage in the AL (0.467) and the highest slugging percentage (0.687.) In those last two categories, noone else even comes close.

So why didn't Papelbon just walk him, and take his chances with the far less intimidating batters that make up the rest of the Blue Jays lineup?

Because, apparently, that's not what the Red Sox do. At this point in the season, the staff has intentionally walked a grand total of only 6 batters.

The MLB average is 21.

I'm all for self-confidence. I love to see fearless pitching. But I also love to see intelligent pitching. Philadelphia, which has by far the most successful pitching staff in the big leagues, has intentionally walked 21 batters. Atlanta, whose pitching staff is almost as good, has intentionally walked 35. Over in Oakland, where all five starting pitchers have ERAs below 3.33, they've intentionally walked 20.

These are teams that are pitching with their heads as well as their arms. We could learn a thing or two.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mike Cameron

I never had anything against Mike Cameron, but it's been clear for a long time that he wasn't just having a "slow start" and the Red Sox would be better off giving the playing time to someone younger.

In reading the stories about his departure, though, I was shocked to learn that his salary this year was 7.25 million. More than Adrian Gonzalez, more than Dustin Pedroia, more than Jon Lester. Only about half the salary of J.D. Drew or John Lackey, though.

Thinking About Literary Irony

Charlie Alderman has a fascinating piece up on HuffPo that analyzes Jonathan Franzen and what critic James Wood labels "hysterical realism." I've always disliked that term, more for the negative connotations that have become associated with it over the years than with the term itself. I also have not read enough Franzen to make an accurate judgement, but am very much looking forward to cracking open Freedom. Anyways, Alterman makes an interesting connection between Franzen and DFW:
...Franzen would need the help of a contemporary in tackling the Black Satirist legacy. While Franzen is the great dramatist of the age of conspicuous consumption and our country's ironic distance towards its effects, his close friend David Foster Wallace is the age's great theorist. In Wallace's non-fiction, [he] contends that, with Watergate as a watershed, post-industrial American youth cannot take politics or their parents' values seriously. They end up mocking everything, including earnestness in relationships, and devolve into self-absorption.
He goes on to make the point that Franzen is more establishment-defending than folks think, which I'm looking forward to finding out for myself when Freedom comes out in paperback.
Personally, i'm hesitant to make sweeping literary generalizations since I just don't read enough, but what Alderman writes makes sense to me. Have you read Franzen? What do you think about him?

(Cross Posted at Thought Ambience)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Home from the Hills

The wife and I went to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains to enjoy a few days of reading and relaxation. Along with my books, I also packed my running shoes, looking forward to some early morning runs through the bucolic farm landscapes.

The countryside was as inspiring as I had hoped, and the weather was several degrees cooler than in Washington. But--I had not counted on the hills. Every road and trail within reach was a series of steeply undulating waves. Given that I've not been doing any hill work, this didn't seem like the place to start. I decided to play it safe, and walked the steepest part of each hill, jogging the crests and valleys. It didn't make for a very fast time, but I won't be laid up for three weeks with a bum knee, either.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Quantifying Stolen Bases

Found these Sabermetric stats interesting:
Studying baseball over the course of multiple seasons has led us to believe that each extra base a runner adds, whether by stolen base or otherwise, creates on average 0.2 runs above what would have been scored otherwise. ... On the flip side, a player who is thrown out on the bases costs his team 0.5 runs below what would have been scored otherwise.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

I'm heading up to the hills for the weekend--hopefully to get some good reading done. I'll report back next week!