Scott Douglas’ Terse Bloviation

Archive for the 'Whining' Category

Running Shoe Names Are Out of Control

This is a repost of something I wrote on my soon-to-be-defunct Running Times blog in November. I had reason to revisit it recently and it’s all still all too true.

You know how when an acquaintance who’s a casual runner asks you what shoe to get, and you ask what they’re running in, and they say, “Nike Air” or “ASICS Gel,” you say, “What matters is the name after that” while, if you’re a horrible person like me, sighing to yourself about the person’s lack of running knowledge?

Well, no more. Having just worked on the shoe guide for our December issue, I officially decree that all runners are free from having to remember what they run in. Running shoe names have reached a tipping point of absurdity, where remembering them accurately could be construed as great training for warding off Alzheimer’s. I’m reminded of bands with names like When People Were Shorter and Lived Near the Water or movies with titles like “The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain.” Why erect unnecessary barriers simply to amuse yourself?

To wit, here are some of the shoes mentioned in our December review:

  • Karhu Stable Fulcrum Ride
  • ASICS GEL-DS Sky Speed 2
  • inov-8 X-Talon 190
  • New Balance MT10 Minimus Trail
  • Nike Zoom Vomero+ 6
  • Nike Free 5.0 V4
  • Pearl Izumi isoSeek IV WRX
  • Terra Plana Vivobarefoot Neo Trail
  • Saucony ProGrid Stabil CS 2

It’s not just the length of the name, but the improvised spelling and capitalization. (And believe me, we hear from shoe companies if we get it wrong.) It’s ASICS, not Asics; adidas, not Adidas; GEL, not Gel. The Saucony shoe above is Stabil, not Stable, and it’s ProGrid, not Pro Grid, while Pearl Izumi’s shoe gets a capital “S” in the middle of the word even though the first letter is lower case. The Nike Free 5.0? Oh, that’s V4 of the 5.0. Got it.

A lot of this started when companies started inserting the name of their proprietary cushioning system between the company name and shoe model; hence Nike Air BlahdeBlah, ASICS GEL Such and Such, etc. So you might think that the new wave of minimalist shoes might be more, well, minimal in their monikers. Some, admirably, are, like the Merrell Trail Glove. But what are we to make of the Terra Plana Vivobarefoot Neo Trail? Look, almost nobody even knows you exist. Don’t make getting the name of your shoe right more work than a hill session.

New Balance even has a page on its site to help decode their shoe names. Shouldn’t the existence of such a thing be a hint to take a step back and look at the world from a perspective other than internal documents?

I drive a Honda Fit. I bought it in 2008. If I were to buy one today, it would also be a Honda Fit, not a Honda Fit U.S. v. 3. Until running shoe names return to some semblance of reasonableness, I’m coming up with my own naming system. This afternoon, I’ll be doing an easy pre-race run in my white shoes.

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When I Am King You Will Be First Against the Wall

  • Leaf blowers
  • Snow blowers
  • Texting drivers
  • Shouters in restaurants
  • Knowingly deceptive political advertisers
  • Environmentalists with a ton of kids
  • Smokers who use the ground as an ashtray
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Poll: 100% of Me Thinks Political Polls Are Nonsense

A recent CNN poll reports that a majority of Americans think that money from the federal stimulus package has been wasted. Because, you know, everyone has a firm grasp of how the money was allocated and how it’s been spent. Just once it would be swell if pollsters asked follow-up questions like, “You’ve replied that the money is being wasted. Can you list three programs receiving this money and detail the ways in which the money has been wasted?”

Twenty-five years ago Neil Postman wrote this about the Iranian hostage crisis in Amusing Ourselves to Death:

Nonetheless, everyone had an opinion about this event, for in America everyone is entitled to an opinion, and it is certainly useful to have a few when a pollster shows up. But these are opinions of a quite different order from eighteenth- or nineteenth-century opinions. It is probably more accurate to call them emotions rather than opinions, which would account for the fact that they change from week to week, as the pollsters tell us.

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Little Hits o’ Pleasure

I’m in one of those stages with no big projects or adventures or cool trips to look forward to, so I need to remind myself to not forget quotidian items that reliably pierce the clouds. Ten off the top of my head:

  1. Solo trail runs.
  2. Trail runs with friends.
  3. First 83 cups of coffee in the morning.
  4. Dinner with Stacey.
  5. Harold Mabern at full force.
  6. For some reason, merino wool tops make me very happy.
  7. A good chai is nice.
  8. Interesting e-mail exchanges.
  9. Perusing Slate.
  10. At some point during the day, each of the pets does something that makes me smile.

Your list?

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The Band I Most Regret Missing Live

In 1990, my training partner went to see them–all the way from Australia–with my then-girlfriend, while I stayed home to rest for a meaningless Baltimore Road Runners Club cross country race the next morning. Idiot.

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Helpful Hints From Smelloise #2

Don’t bang car doors into the place on your shin where you have a bump from an ancient stress fracture, especially if you are about to drive an hour and use the shin muscles the whole way to work the gas pedal.

Also, the easiest way to peel ginger is with the side of a spoon.

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A Whine About a Morning-Long Whine

Come back, $4/gallon gas! All is forgiven! Someone has been running a leafblower for the last several hours now. Given the size of yards in my neighborhood, they could have raked the damn thing three times over by now. Thanks to tinnitus, I gots me enough going on in my ears as it is, so the moan of the leafblower is that much more irritating. If I’m lucky, the ladies a couple of houses down will soon start their daily chainsawing and drown out the yard worker.

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