Long running

August 22nd, 2018 by John Morris

For parts of my life, I ran long distances for exercise and sanity.  It started in high school when I joined our cross county team.  I was classically built for the event: a tad over 5’5″ and under 120 pounds.  I had all I needed except speed.  It matter little to our coaches since they already had their “horses” and just need filler for the meets.  My assignment was to not impede the other runners.

My usual finishing position went in the books as “also ran”.  My efforts did nothing to change the competitions’ outcomes.  “Also ran” is an even mix of non-recognition recognition and why did I bother.  Decades later, I found dignity in being an “also ran”.

To me “also ran” means someone who entered a competition with little chance to win awards but runs anyway.  The battles are with ourselves and our past efforts.   Getting an “also ran” tag meant we were there.  It says we tried.

In 1980, I ran a Philly half-marathon.  I finished one minute short of my goal of under two hours.  I was lifted enough by my accomplishment to not really care.

I read a follow up interview with the race’s winner, Rod Dixon.  He had finished almost one hour ahead of me.  To his credit, he hung around the finishing line after the awards ceremony and cheered for the many finishing their personal odysseys.  It was exciting to see a member of running royalty cheering home runners like me.  He was feeling the connection runners have.  So was I.

Months later and in a different setting, Dixon gave an interview and spoke about talking with an “also ran” about the four hours plus needed to complete his marathon.  He was truly impressed by the man and said, “You actually ran for over four hours!”

Did my “also ran” runner’s heart good to hear such praise.



Friends are everywhere we go.

August 12th, 2018 by John Morris

This year my nuclear family gathered together in Canada for a summer holiday.  This marked the first time I spent more than one day in the land of our northern neighbor.  Quebec City and Montreal were bookends of the complete adventure, but we spent time in a small and charming city called La Malbaie located on the Saint Charles River, population 8,271.

Our lodging was at a first class hostelry selected by daughter-in-law, Yuri Kim.  It had great rooms, pools, hot tubs and a three star restaurant.  Yuri should book vacations for a living.

What is there to do in this vacation haven?  I did something I like to do.  Travel to the heart of the business area and walk around.  I avoid other mainstay locations such as industrial, residential and shopping centers.  Give me rows of small locally owned businesses, and I can extract a good day.

Fearing the hilly terrain, I took a taxi to the epicenter of the town.  It was a nicely appointed church with a tall enough steeple visible from distances.

The library is my usual first stop on these mini-adventures.  This one had multiple displays about the region and more like a museum.  La Malbaie was a fishing village and a water harbor.  Too bad La Malbaie is French for the bad bay.  Ships routinely came in but often didn’t get back out.  Something about sand bars causing them to dry dock.

I hit the street armed with small goals (find a restaurant for tonight’s dinner and wander around).  I first walked around for about 45 minutes to get a feel for the area.  Then I hit the shops.  I’d spend five minutes just talking with the clerks and owners.  Then I’d make token purchases and move along.

After I toured the stores of interest in the greater La Malbaie area, I realized I had more than two hours before my planned return to the hotel.  I hatched a plot to stay in the village and have my family pick me up for dinner.  But what to do for this extra stay?

This is when I took a tangent from the main drag toward a side street.

I saw a welcomed sight.  A Grand Opening sign for “Bistro-Thé L’Échange.  A nifty looking tea oasis just when I want it to be there.  I first walked around inside this small shop mostly devoted to tea.  I decided to have that first really good tea of the day (genmacha).

Not content to just serve tea, this bistro-the has coffee, pastries, candies, beer and sandwiches.  I joked I didn’t need to leave this place.  Note: the pastries are made in-house.

I later ordered a sandwich and beer for my snack.  I settled in to talk with the young barista.  She was a pleasant and charming lady who took me early for an American.  Her English was better than good.  She told me many younger people are bilingual.  Older folks? Not so much.

We chatted about our lives and what we were both doing of interest.  I learned about her without ever learning her name.  She lived with her parents and a son named Bastian.  He played soccer and was doing well in school.  As I listened to her story, I realized how happy her life made her.  It radiated from her and lifted our spirits.

Time went by, and my ride arrived.  Bastian’s Mom told me were to go for dinner thus finishing my to-do list.  I left the tea shop with another fun day stored in my memory banks for future recaps.

This short story shows why I enjoy what my son, Adam and I call “following our noses.”  No plan on what to do or expect.  Just go out and let the karma flow.  Does it always work?  No, but it does often deliver life memories like my time with Bastian’s Mom at Bistro-Thé L’Échange in La Malbaie, Canada.



Clueless men in ads.

August 10th, 2018 by John Morris

Years ago, a wave of new commercials hit the TV world.  In them, the women were portrayed as more intelligent and capable than the helpless men.  I enjoyed these early commercials due mainly to the fact they were twists of the normal.

Fast forward to today, and we see a constant storm of these commercials.  So much so that I don’t remember the last ad I saw when the woman played the stooge.  The advertising world’s drones must believe the male of the species must play an incompetent fool to maximize their sales.

Hey advertising geniuses, it’s time to find new approaches for hawking goods.  Setting men up as incapable children insults men and women they think still need catering.



The old boy writing this blog wears many hats: Vietnam Veteran, husband & father, salesman and techno-dude. After my service with the Army Security Agency, I operated a sign company for nineteen years, The sign industry changed after CAD/CAM machines made the task easy enough for the non-talented. I sold my company and never looked back.

Life has granted me a life partner better than I deserve. My wife, Lyn is a transplanted Kansas gal. Her bliss is teaching kindergarten and first grade.

I am the most proud of my children. My son, Adam lives an international life teaching English and living in Sozhou, China. He is married to one of life's truly lovely women, Yuri Kim. My daughter, Beth grew up in a small town and found her way in life means working and living in major cities like Chicago and New York. She and her life partner, Julie Sterling married in LaJolla, California in 2010.

I like getting the newest gadgets, but also I like to use things until they are useless, i.e., my last personal car was an 88 Honda Prelude Si.

I wrote a Vietnam Veteran newsletter for nine years. During this journey, I learned I like to write. It is a harmless exercise that rewards honest effort while tolerating failure gracefully. I been away from it for too long. My son gave me the blog, and it was a lifeline back to writing.

My best advice is to show the world what you can do but to accept only your opinion of who and what you are.

Update: In August 2008, my job became one of the half-million jobs that went away that month. I took the following year getting the home ready for my official retirement.

In October 2009, I took a part-time job as a saleman at the vaulted Maxwell's Hardware.

On November 29, 2011, I reached my 66th birthday, and I officially started Social Security. I intend to stay with Maxwell's as long as I can contribute.