For the past 15 years or so, I have been using a Nike waffle fleece lined neoprene zip-up for cold weather running. It has been an awesome jacket. After a few thousand trips through the washing machine, it is starting to come apart at the seams. I have been creeping the Nike website like a fiend, looking for a new one since it first started to fall apart last Autumn. Continue reading
Category Archives: Review
Good Reads- “Barbarian Days, A Surfing Life” by William Finnegan
This book was actually a gift from B (sort of). B was the one who added it to the Amazon cart, but it was my turn to pay for the order, haha. Anyway, I’m glad she did because I loved reading this book. It had been a while since I read a book that I didn’t want to put down at the end of the night. This was definitely one of those. To enjoy this book, being a fan of surfing definitely helps. But even if surfing is not your cup of tea, Finnegan is such an incredible writer that it may not matter. The book is essentially an autobiography with an emphasis on the plentiful elements of surfing that comprise his life. The prose with which he uses to tell these stories is as artful as it is interesting. Finnegan’s tales of the ‘barbarian days’ evoke a strong sense of nostalgia for a bygone era of simpler times when the world seemed much larger and more mysterious. I highly recommend reading this book.
Good Reads: “Wayward” by Chris Burkhard
Once again I have to thank Fieldmag for turning me onto this gem. Prior to reading the Q & A Fieldmag posted, I had certainly heard of Burkhard and was semi-familiar with his work (I stopped reading surf mags before Burkhard really became a fixture in that world). But after reading the piece, I realized that he was a pretty interesting dude who probably had some cool stories to tell. A few pages into the book, I could already tell it was right up my alley. As a kid who loved photography and board sports, young me essentially dreamed of having Burkhard’s life. The stories that he tells from his early career left a little bit of FOMO pang in my gut. If you are remotely interested in photography and/or cold water surf, I highly recommend this book. The images alone are worth the flip. Plus, the hard cover makes it a very handsome addition to the coffee table.
Running Update – Loud Shoes Edition
About 15 years ago, a friend turned me onto Mizuno running shoes. They are light, relatively inexpensive, and had the support that I needed for my gait an pronation. They are great shoes. I generally love me some Japanese design. Function-wise, Mizuno was no exception. They have been my faithful go-to running shoe ever since then. For some reason, however, they just keep making them uglier and uglier. From a visual design perspective, the only distinction between my most recent pair of Mizunos and a pair of granny-style mall walkers is the fact that the colorway is not white on white. I know that running is not a fashion show, but I’m running the NY Marathon in a few weeks and I want to wear some good looking kicks for the race. I’m not exactly a young buck anymore, but hey man, I’m certainly not a senior citizen yet either. Until then I’m not trying to give off any grandpa vibes with my footwear. After imagining the horror of opening up the NY Times on Nov. 8th and seeing a photo of myself running down 5th Avenue sporting old-guy kicks, I went on a quest for a non-geriatric looking pair of running shoes to race in.
I had heard good things about the brand ON. I think that they are a pretty good looking shoe and decided to try a pair. They had a nice fit for my foot and seemed okay for running…. except for the fact that the sole design is super prone to rock collecting. Given that I have been running on trails or gravel roads 3-4 times per week, they just weren’t practical. When I wore the ONs, I was forced to stop every half mile or so to remove (some quite sizable) stones lodged in the out sole. They are probably fine for city running, but I’m not going to gamble on wearing them for a marathon without having worn them on at least a few long training runs.
Prevailing public opinion (especially of non-runners) seems to be that Nike is the obvious choice in running shoes. I have had a love/hate relationship with Nike runners since my first pair of Air Pegasus that I wore in high school track. There has always been something not quite right about the way they work on my feet. The past couple of years I have picked up a few pairs of Vapormax, but mostly just for looks. I have never actually run in them. They are not comfortable at all on my feet, even just walking around the city. Summer 2020 I picked up a pair of deeply discounted Nike trail runners that I actually think are great. So when I saw the new Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%, I thought I would give them a shot. The visual design is about as non-octogenarian as it gets. In fact, when I first took them out of the box, I was worried that they might be a little much. After my first run in them, I was hooked. They are insanely comfortable and light. I only wore them for three shortish runs before breaking them out on last week’s 20-miler. Didn’t even get a blister. They are honestly the most comfortable shoe that I have ever worn and they seem to give me a literal bounce in my step. All of that said, there are definitely some drawbacks. First: they are insanely expensive as far as running shoes go (roughly double the price of the Mizunos I was using). Another downside is that they appear to be wearing out much faster than the average running shoe. The front section of the out sole is super soft, almost tacky to the touch. This is awesome for gripping the road, but I’m already seeing significant wear after putting only 50ish miles on them. Based on these facts, I’m not sure that I will be able to justify these as a daily runner. I may have to reserve them for training/racing, only. For now, I will enjoy these kicks to the maximum (as well the fresh still-in-the-box pair that I will race in next month), even if it means my theoretical photo in the Times ends up looking like that middle aged guy who is desperately clinging to youth by wearing loud sneakers! 😉
Good Reads: ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’ by Bill Bryson
This is another recommendation from my old man. It is actually his copy (complete with hand-marked copy editing, haha). This was my first read by Bryson, and I quite enjoyed it. Brittany has read most of his catalogue, and got so excited when I picked this thing up, that she bought me 4 or 5 other of his books to read. Anyway, the premise of this gem is that Bryson was interested in science, but could never pay attention to the dry text that is so ubiquitous in science writing. So he set out to explain science in a way that is captivating (and even entertaining). In my opinion, he succeeded. It doesn’t hurt matters that he is a pretty funny writer. I definitely recommend this book to fellow nerds.
Good Reads: The Path Between the Seas
I can safely say that David McCullough is one of my favorite authors. McCullough is a guy who was initially recommended several years ago by my dad, who also loves nerdy books about history and engineering. The Path Between the Seas is a book that I have been working on since the summer. I honestly didn’t have much time to read for pleasure this summer because of the amount of renovation work that has consumed the majority of my free time. So, at 600+ pages this one took a few months for me to get through. Admittedly I also thought the book started out a bit slow. But once I got past the story of the failed French attempt to the part where John Stevens took over the canal project, I had trouble putting the book down. The dude was such a badass that in order to avoid freezing to death one night while scouting railroad lines in present day Montana, he spent the entire night pacing back in forth in sub-zero temps after his Native American guide had abandoned him. Afterward, he proceeded on without the guide and finished the job. They don’t make ’em like they used to.
Anyway, I found the engineering aspects of the Panama Canal fascinating. It is pretty incredible what they built with such crude (by present day standards) machinery. I would definitely recommend this one to any of my fellow history nerds.
Good Reads: Phil Knight’s ‘Shoe Dog’
I have been sitting on this one for a long time. “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight came recommended by several friends back when it was first released. I finally knocked it out on flight last summer, but am barely getting around to posting this eightish months later. As a person who enjoys college sports, running, history and sneakers, this book checked a lot of boxes for me. Before reading this book, I had only known bits and pieces of the Nike story. My knowledge was mostly based around Prefontaine and Bowerman, but I didn’t really know much about Knight. It is a great story, and Knight is a pretty good story teller. I highly recommend checking this one out.
Good Reads: Flea’s ‘Acid for the Children’
I was very exited when I saw that this book was dropping. I saw a review for it in the New York Times (but did not read the review, as not to spoil the book). I did, however, immediately pre-order it on Amazon. I was finally able to read it over Thanksgiving. “Acid for the Children” is a Memoir written by Flea, the bass player for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. After reading Anthony Kiedes’ book earlier this year I was curious to see how the writing style of the two band mates would compare. To avoid badmouthing Kiedes, I’ll just say that I enjoyed Flea’s book much more.
“Acid for the Children,” tells the story of Flea’s childhood, up through the time that the Red Hot Chili Peppers were formed. It starts with his early childhood in Australia, grade school in Rye New York, then adolescence and early adulthood in Los Angeles, CA. Flea breaks up the narrative with reflections upon his past from his current-day self. The story is incredible, but Flea’s prose alone is worth the read. I highly recommend this book.
Good Reads: ‘The Passion Paradox’
This is probably not a book that I would have chosen to read on my own. B reads a ton of these self mastery type of books because of their relevance to her line of work. She recommended it to me because one of the authors was a competitive runner. The crux of this book, “The Passion Paradox,” by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness, is unpacking what catchphrases like “finding your passion” and “living a balanced life” really mean. Further, the book uses historical real world examples of how applying such ideas in one’s life does not always yield the intended consequences (i.e. long term success, happiness, fulfillment, etc.). I normally find these types of books cheesy and only marginally (if at all) scientific. But I really did enjoy this read, and it caused me to scrutinize some personal traits with a new perspective after having digested the text. Worth checking out, in my opinion.
Good Reads: ‘Team of Rivals’
I have been reading this book on and off for a couple of years. I normally read on the go, and lugging a 700+ pager around with me is not something that I have really done since law school. I finally finished it a couple of weeks ago, and now I’m kind of sad that it’s over. “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin is an extremely well written (obviously, since she’s got a Pulitzer), chronological account of Lincoln’s life. The focus of the book is on Lincoln’s political career, but it is obvious that his professional demeanor was shaped by certain aspects of Lincoln’s humble upbringing, also covered in this text. Before reading this book, I didn’t know the full extent of Lincoln’s true genius (not in the hyperbole way that people have used to dumb down this word) and strength of character. It is unlikely that the US will ever see another person of Lincoln’s caliber occupying its highest office. I highly recommend this book.