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Of Interest

From Author’s Corner > Conrad’s Corner
1993 Zero Degree Windchill Factor Another Good Winter Run
It’s a cold winter day. The wind is swirling snow flurries past your window. You’ve
accepted the fact that you’ll be stuck inside all day sipping tea, watching
the fire—or to be less romantic, the inane TV—wishing you were someplace warm
in the Caribbean or the Florida Keys….
You need some exercise. You know it. It’s your day off…

For me and many of my sister and brother runners this could be a great opportunity for adventure: To take an invigorating winter run! Shivering villagers look at you, shocked that you are trotting along wearing just sweatshirt and sweatpants, plus a wool hat, while they stiffly shuffle along like robot snowmen and snowwomen in their bulky overcoats and sweaters, barely able to breathe between the cutting arctic gusts.

You’re chilly at first, possibly unsure yourself if you should have gamely clomped out the door to challenge the elements. Lots of people might think you are crazy, especially the un-athletic, the conquered-by-convention, driving their cars, amazed that you’re even ‘outside,’ subconsciously jealous that you might be having healthy fun, consciously thinking that you are nuts, that you’re going to freeze to death.

But you’ve done this before, or you’ve read this story in USA Today, and your confidence builds as you run a couple of miles, 10-20 minutes. The circulation to your skin, heart, lungs and brain has you feeling ever steadily warmer and warmer. Might you possibly be removing your gloves soon, or at least one of them?

You’ve played it smart, running through sheltered areas to start your journey, minimizing exposure to high breeze zones where icy north east gales whip off white capped water, penetrating through your clothes. You’ve Vaselined (or ‘vegelatumed’) your face, especially your nose; everything is covered. Down below you’ve got a third line of defense to save the family jewels from frostbite. You’re definitely prepared.

You’ve stretched well—but you might still get a cramp, or pull a muscle. So there’s a quarter in your pocket or wrapped up in your folded over top of a sock, just in case, to make an emergency phone call.

The run that inspired me to write this had me wearing a short sleeve marathon t-shirt under a Philadelphia Eagle sweatshirt, boxer shorts under heavy white sweatpants, plus the above mentioned Vaseline, hat, gloves, etc. No coat, no face masks. Temperature 30 degrees F., winds max 35 mph out of the northeast, wind chill factor-temperature 0 degrees F.

I had travelled a different route than I had ever taken before, passing out of town, on a two lane county road between the tall endless trees as I watched the houses go by …. I decided to run up toward the bay on one of the upcoming roads. Was the bay indeed there? I wondered. How far would I have to go?

I reflected back on my youthful days growing up in a beach town when summer prevented me and my friends from going down unknown roads. Dogs might be there, summer people were in every bungalow, it was private property… But in wintertime, no one was stirring about, the entire territory was empty! We could play where we wished, climb onto porches and roofs, jump into the sand or snow from scary heights…..

One game I loved we called ‘Arrows’. Two of us would go off, having to draw an arrow with chalk or crayon at every reasonable turn. A horde of ten or twenty would be trying to find us after allowing us five or ten minutes’ head start. One of us would make a false trail, to meet the other at a designated spot, perhaps on the second story porch of an abandoned beachfront hotel. We could observe the stalking cloud-breathing packs coming at us from blocks away, half getting lost on our phony trail. We’d have to run like bandits when they approached too close…

Like I was running now, spying the brown county park type sign. This would be safe, I told myself, and the prospect of a vicious dog snarling, teeth bared, barreling at me, would not be that likely. Though deer hunters might be hiding behind weaved weed and branch bunkers, waiting, watching…!…

There was a golf course ahead. It reminded me of the nine hole one on the west side of Kauai up in the mountains, as I ran through it feeling fine, getting looser and looser, ever slightly warmer and warmer. I began thinking how nice, how peaceful, this golf course was, right in the town where I lived. Maybe I wouldn’t wait until I was 70 to start playing golf.

I saw the clubhouse with four pick-up trucks parked around it. No one was on the course beside me, naturally. I kept my peripheral gaze wide, not wanting to get shot. What could those guys be doing? I wondered. Telling tales and drinking beer by the fire? Or were they perched somewhere with their shotguns?….I could imagine a bullet silently sizzling into me, not believing I’d been hit, it striking a vital organ…

I could vaguely see the bay through the leafless woods. A few trails dead ended before I finally found one that led me to marsh and then sandy shore.

Here the wind was moist, blowing its coldest, raising whitecaps across the gray green water bordered by beach that swept around back to what had to be the north end of town. More houses were concentrated there. Two rock jetties ran across the harbor, leaving perhaps one hundred yards for vessels to pass between them. Away far across the expanse of salty horizon towered a gigantic boat’s bow…

I could make it along the sand, I perceived. Then I wasn’t certain if I could. But I didn’t want to retread the route I’d just travelled. It‘d be more magical to keep going, take the new never seen way, rather than run back to give those imaginary(?) intoxicated hunters a second chance at me.

I’d just run and see what happened, my feet propelled me. Then I saw a point where tiny waves wrapped around its outermost shallowness. As a surfer I could picture possible rideable waves, yet knew it was a one in a million chance only—maybe during some kind of freak storm.

Unfortunately, I also perceived that around this sandy point was actually an inlet, with marsh water rushing out. And I couldn’t cross it with a mere jump, I gathered, as I ran along its bank. But I didn’t want to turn around.

The caribou of the Alaskan Arctic National Refuge came to me as I began realizing I would have to take my sneakers off to continue my journey. The water was perhaps 38 – 40 F. 165,000 caribou ran across such icy waters, I told myself, migrating hundreds of miles to produce their calves on the Arctic Refuge’s coastal plain—one of the last places in North America, or even the entire world, where such an intact virgin ecosystem exists.

I was a caribou today. My hooves, and hairy legs, would splash through the Arctic waters. I would understand what it was it like to be an animal unaffected by Man’s transgressions. George Bush and his oil industry cronies were my enemy. The U.S. Dept. of Energy didn’t care about me or the muskox, the grizzly or the snow goose that had lived here near-eternally. They needed that mere 200 days’ worth of oil for the lumpy grumpy traffic jam mopers and gas guzzlers, while I and my offspring, and future generations of caribou, might die, might thin out.

I took off my sneakers and socks, pulled my sweatpants above my knees—runners and swimmers and other athletes often have to do things like this, gaining inspiration from whatever can push them forward so they can disciplinedly accomplish their goals, move on to the next level…

I ran like that caribou I pretended I was, across the inlet, wetting my pants moderately. I kept running for a minute or two, until I could feel the first serious hints of frostbite pains. Then I quickly sat down on the weeds at their junction with the sand; dusted off, partially dried my feet with both of my gloves, put on my socks and sneakers as the gloves blew into the dunes, and began running again.

My feet rapidly warmed. My gloves were not too wet, nor were my pants too soaked to adversely affect. me. The latter were heavier, I noticed. But I was back in the groove, getting warmer all right, even with the treacherous breeze, looking at the houses on the cliffs, reaching the breakwaters, deciding to run through a vacant lot into a tiny street I’d never before stepped upon.

Several people nodded at me in a friendly manner as I ran through town.

By the time I reached home I was sweaty, relaxed, yet enthusiastically invigorated, full of the fresh air that had flushed out my lungs from the outside, assisted by the accelerated circulation through them caused by my efficient heartbeat and many many runs including today’s.

It was a cold winter afternoon, but I was satisfied, not restless, now. I felt like an unlimitable mountain climber or skier as I did my cool down stretches. Soon I would be in the shower, continuing to envision the new places and paths I had taken, life’s mystery growing, the freezing weather outside hardly restricting my vistas and dreams, the plight of the Arctic National Refuge’s caribou mine to fight those merchants of greed as I crossed and re-crossed that inlet barelegged in my optimistic mind again and again, that episode the heart I emotionally embraced of my nine mile, hour and a half run challenging winter’s bitter elements.

Copyright 1993 Conrad Miller M.D.

This could precede the previously posted article that included another winter run from this very winter of 2007-2008….

22 January 2008

Winter Running, Huckabee Funds Running Out, John Hanson

Welcome to 2008, Dear Readers, I hope this
is a healthy, revitalizing year for all of
you, as George Bush enters his final full year of
torturing us and the world…….Whatever the evolution [if I may use
such a word] of the current politics…

There are many seconds in a day, and many minutes.
You can’t worry about the way civilization wends its
way along the timescale that you live on your own
roads, behind whatever houses you pass as the sun is
coming up, feeling good about something, enjoying it,
breathing in the inspiration and the vigor that
strengthens you, body and soul.

Winter running, if I may focus on one very
invigorating activity, is very different, because, especially on
a cold day, the animals don’t expect you to
be out there, running out of nowhere into their space.
A few decades ago, I had the experience of running along and
this deer was coming across the field to my right, approaching an
intersection in our projected paths. Woods were behind
him [or ?her?] on his [?her?] right. Suddenly he [?she?]
saw me and scronked “ACK!” with a cracking sound, shocked at
me there, running on the road in the direction he [?she?] was

Today, it was the ice on the water in the bay, Shinnecock Bay.
Many people not being on the beach today, with the cold and the
freezing wind off the water, with early particles of ice forming on it.
It was interesting to watch the water in the channel under this stuff,
that did move, in the stiff breeze coming out of the southwest, into
the mini-channel. Rippling from the wind, and the push of the bay water.
And no one was there. Human. Just me and the ducks.

Last time this fella had set up some decoys, that I didn’t notice at first
were not real ducks. As I saw him pick up a few and carry them to his
big bag, then I caught on. But today it was way colder and the flock of decoys
I saw were true for-real ducks. They turned their heads. They
swam out and around away from the pack. No chunky rubber-wadered hunter
hiding amidst the weeds on the bonechilling beach.

Around the corner a couple of miles away, I came on one solo duck swimming out
and turning to continue a course along the shore, out about forty feet. He was
a bit concerned about me, but not very much. He didn’t fly away from me, not
on a day when the air was very heavy with frio, and the noise of the breeze
damped any sounds I made. A pair of swans suddenly appeared on me, just as I came
around a next curve, very close to shore. They too must have felt I was no threat,
that I was no bother to them. They did drift out a bit, but no panic was shown,
as I passed further on the beach, leaving them to slowly return back in toward
the rocky beach, by one of the piers that had no boat or anything man-related
attached to it.

When I reached the canal and ran along it, the sun had gone down, but it was still
quite light. The winter water was darker than summer water, even evening summer
water, as the blue and red and white lights of a canalside bar reflected on the water.
Quite cozy. Then back along the northshore beach from the canal. Different shells
present. Not the purple-edged thicker kine as on the southern facing beach I had
just been on, that Shinnecock Bay had thrown onto the sand. Maybe harboring what we
could eat as clams between its twin shelled existence.

The shells on the northside were thinner, whiter, not robust and colorful. Different species
in just a few miles of environment. How all of the world is. Each place
harboring/breeding some unique kinds of creatures, plant or animal. Only in that form
in that place. Maybe some different forms of the creatures around another peninsula…

Winter running. Feeling very strong. And blessed to be able to chug through this cold,
to see something those who sit in their heated living rooms miss, watching their tv, sipping
on their tea, ready for some nice hearty beefy stew.

More to come. Other things seen with other runs on the same route. On previous runs.

And goodbye to Bobby Fischer. A genius, who went over the deep end. Heard his
diatribe on 9/11. A lot of hate. For America. For Jews. For himself. Kidney
failure, they said, on ESPN. He looked pretty cool when he was 15, even when he beat
Spasky [?sp] over the two month span in Iceland, where they took him in when no one
else would at the end of his life. Looks like he lacked in love, and appreciation. Sad story.

And, I finally saw ‘The Illusionist’ in DVD form, wherefrom, after you watch the movie
straight through, you can then watch the entire same film in commentary. And it was a
doozy to figure out. The commentary helped, but even the director/screenplay writer
kept everything dual in meaning. Now I have to read the short story on which the
movie was based, to better figure it out. Norton and Biel were the beautiful pair of
fine actor and actress that captivated the screen. Castle in
which much of the film was shot very interesting and unique. Czech Republic one very
magical place. If you ever get a chance to see ‘Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders,’ see it
and remember I told you about it. Another Czech masterpiece.

As for the politics at the beginning of the primary season
our ex-Governor of Arkansas is not another Clinton. No,
Mr. Huckabee, who plays the bass [can’t be all bad], garnered
8 out of 10 of his voters in the Iowa caucus as ‘evangelicals,’
as reported by the NY Times. With 108,000 Republican caucusers turning out,
and Huckabee getting about 34% of the vote, that means
about 30,000 evangelicals voted for the ex-preacher and
ex-Governor. With 239,000 Democrats
turning out to vote, and Obama WINNING with 37.6 %
that might make you wonder. Can an Afro-American man
win the nomination after all? and can Obama then
win the overall election? How many pointblank racists
exist out there that would never vote for him? What percent
would be expected to vote for a guy like Huckabee?
‘Racists for Huckabee?’ Racists and Evangelicals? How
many could be one in the same? Is it time yet for
a black man to become President? Remember that John Hanson
was the third President of the Continental Congress, but was the first
to use the title ‘President of the United States in Congress Assembled,’
when dealing with foreign governments, diplomats, or treaties which could
have led us into our independence from the British colonialists
back in the 18th century. Some might consider him to have been our
first President, and there is a controversy about him being a
‘Moor’ or a black man.

Back in 1781, during his one year term, these things
occurred: Legislation was passed for the Bank of North America, the first central bank;
a Secretary of the United States was appointed to assist in correspondence and
record-keeping; General George Washington was granted broad powers to
negotiate prisoner exchanges with Britain; Washington immediately worked out a
trade of Gen. Cornwallis for Henry Laurens, the first president of the Continental
Congress; the United States Mint was established; as was the predecessor agency of
the State Department; the first national Thanksgiving holiday was proclaimed;
the position of Chairman of Congress was created, a predecessor of the vice-presidency;
a peace treaty with Britain was negotiated; a dispute between Connecticut and
Pennsylvania was settled, with Hanson acting as an equivalent of Chief Justice;
the first national census was called for. Quite an important collection of
accomplishments during Hanson’s one year in office. If you look on the back
of the $2 dollar bill today, you will see a black man depicted amidst the
other leaders. Is that Hanson? Was he really of Swedish background? History
is a muck to wade through and sweep the truth out of, especially when you have
to go back a couple of centuries….

Vote count in Iowa, for Obama would be 90,000 to 30,000 for Huckabee,
the Republican winner, via my calculations.

What can you extrapolate from this?
Numbers are not so big, not big enough to project for the
entire country. Plenty of evangelicals turning out in
Iowa, compared to Romney-ites – remember, Romney is the guy
who wants to double the size of Guantanamo Bay, so we can
torture more people and engender more hate for us, help
the Muslim world recruit more Al Qaedas, make the average
person hate us, the longer we let the torture go on. Every
day we let it occur, we are ruining our souls, and poisoning
our image [and reality] that the rest of the world has to
accept and perceive of us Americans. It is a national shame
and embarrassment, that we are torturing people, sending people to other
countries to suffer ‘extraordinary rendition’ – which means
torture/interrogation. And even moreso, when the next election
after the embarrassment of George Bush being our President, not
once, but re-elected for a second term, still has bobos who
dare to fervidly proclaim they want more torture. What happens when
this fellow’s son gets captured? With the Geneva conventions, detainees
are not supposed to be treated as criminals, but as prisoners of war,
to be treated humanely, as they are fellow human beings. Otherwise,
after any conflict, there will have been no quarter given, and will
combatants then hate each other incorrigibly because no mercy was given?
‘Do unto others as you would have do unto you.’ Haven’t these men
ever heard this phrase before? Where is their wisdom? Or don’t they
have any? And then Romney wins in Michigan. Well, his father had been
Governor of that state. George Romney was his name.

Footnote on Huckabee: they say his funds are running out somewhere
around South Carolina. Gotta get those corporations to love you and
support you, otherwise where would we be in this Wendy-ized, Burger King-ed,
Lockheed-Martin-weaponized world of today?

Enjoy the winter.
Love and Health to All Of YOU!
Conrad Miller M.D.

C Jan 22 2008 Conrad Miller MD

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