Above All, There Is Love. Sweet Goldmund Love.

The book that launched the Book of the Month (self) Challenge.

Softcover front.
Softcover front.

Bought the book at Barnes and Nobles at the beginning of October 2013 on a whim. Literally left the house and drove to the nearest B&N to purchase a book. Any book. Bored was I. With nothing particular in mind I browsed the fiction shelves until Herman Hesse. Decided on a Herman Hesse book having read Siddhartha several years before. Steppenwolf? No. With a certain unknown familiarity Narcissus and Goldmund appeared. The old school art on the softcover. The stout width and thick depth of the book and makes you eager to hold in your hands.

Weird, but the pages of the book have an odor maybe even parfum-like. Something to wonder about.

Softcover.

Check. Prefer over hardcover ’cause I can’t use my hands to bend the hardcovers to my will nor twist and turn them. Definitely softcover.

Love, Senses, Art, Nature, Death.

All the things in the natural world covered. Largely and expose on that it may mean to be alive and interact with the world, start and adventure, and live as you wish.

Love quote:

And still more, I’d like to die with you. Drink me to the dregs, beloved, melt me, kill me!

Death quote:

Blood spilled from his chest and neck; from his mouth life ran out in delirious, weakening sighs.

Discovery and Life Choices.

The story is entirely about self-discovery and choices made to that end and the very end. Those choices compared to the steady and constant progress of your nearest friend. Your friend has his life path already determined. While you drift in whatever direction your soul curves to.

Goldmund wanders the earth and consumes it with all its experiences and vices and dangers in medievil times. Narcissus the barometer to which Goldmund compares his life oversees the very cloister where he and Goldmund studied in youth. Mirror opposites in life.

Fin.

It is worth a re-read? Yes. Re-read it and also reassess what is important to you.

Is It Cotton Candy Ice Cream? No, Its Cocaine!

Front view of Ben & Jerry's Cotton Candy ice cream pint.
Front view of Ben & Jerry’s Cotton Candy ice cream pint.

Shit tastes like a magic circus fair cocaine. Portion control or prepare to overdose. Damn right its exclusive AND limited!

Open lid aerial view of Ben & Jerry's ice cream pint.
Open lid aerial view of pint.

There’s a history of cocaine + ice cream so much so that ice cream might be more addictive.

MOCA Jacksonville and That’s All

Five hours north of South Florida is a mud puddle called Jacksonville. An decent one. I’m being harsh. Deep appreciation of well maintained highways sets between the very edges of Indian River county upwards to Jacksonville. Makes you kinda proud. Tall trees along both sides north and south bound lanes. Roads free of junk and clear lane demarcations. Simple functional rest stations. And this being Florida the drive is largely a straight line with the occasional curve and mole hill.

I suck for posting this two months late. It’ll happen again. It’s habitual.

Getting around Jacksonville was super convenient. Slightly exaggerating there is one traffic light every two miles. At least this was the experience shuttling from Southside to Orange Park. Here’s an overly generalized observation: Orange Park is working class perhaps a little slummy while Southside is new construction, shoppes, manicured.

Taking in the northern coast beach and MOCA where my only humble goals of this trip.

Soft white powered sand characterizes the beach. The sand is as hard as a flat surface; hard enough that many early birds ride their bicycles on the beach. So don’t expect to sand castles and getting buried in sand. That is clearly out of the question. Plus there is nearly a football field sized distance between the edge of civilization and the ocean. This open space is the beach. The sunrise was nice and plenty of tourists and locals woke early to be rejuvenated and inspired by it.

 

Beach sunrise
Sunrise at Jacksonville beach on an August Saturday.
Beach sunrise
Sunrise at Jacksonville beach on an August Saturday.
Beach sunrise
Sunrise at Jacksonville beach on an August Saturday.
Beach sunrise
Sunrise at Jacksonville beach on an August Saturday.

Downtown Jacksonville was a let down. Maybe ’cause it was Saturday and downtowns in small mud cities usually empty on weekends. Regardless, downtown seemed a little blighted. Next to MOCA Jacksonville on the same block same attached building is the public library. Across a public center with circular fountain sans green space. Its relatively small. First impression driving on the street separating museum from the public center was the commotion at the library so much so that I initially thought the library was the museum. ‘An active art crowd. Great!’ I thought. It wasn’t the museum. Homeless locals hang out at the library and public center. Well, yeah.

Three of the five floors are exhibition space. The boutique cafe inside was closed. The front desk was very nice. She explained everything and genuinely welcomed me. Head down doing something as I entered she raised with a smile.

Admission sticker on chest and MOCA Jacksonville floor plan in hand she eagerly tells me of her favorite piece since I asked for suggestions. Climbing the stairs to second floor offers nice view of the a Heather Cox Winter 2013 Project in large open exhibition atrium.

 

Heather Cox MOCA Jacksonville
Heather Cox, Project Atrium at MOCA Jacksonville
Heather Cox MOCA Jacksonville
Heather Cox, Project Atrium at MOCA Jacksonville
Heather Cox MOCA Jacksonville
Heather Cox, Project Atrium at MOCA Jacksonville
Heather Cox MOCA Jackonville
Heather Cox, Project Atrium at MOCA Jacksonville

Quiet and lonely. Aside from security there was just one other museum patron. Eyes glance down, Mona Lisa frown. While I really enjoy art and museums I can’t say that I can intelligently critique art. My observations are of level of effort and thought the artist takes in creating their art. An appreciation and interest in their time and effort and skill. Hardly do I search for the concept or attempt to calculate their inspiration. In the permanent collection of MOCA Jacksonville are a series of Richard Anuszkiewicz paintings on second floor display. This was the highlight of the visit. That and the cute refreshing girl in the gift shop. Do Google, Wikipedia, and YouTube Richard Anuszkiewicz and then you too can name drop Op art.

Let’s talk about something important. The girl at the gift shop. I would. I didn’t. She gave me a tip of the Black Sheep restaurant in the Riverside neighborhood a few minutes from downtown. Its a trendy artsy areas. I’d live there. Did a drive by and it was packed. Didn’t eat there. With Black Sheep in the review view mirror the red narrow front door of a psycologist’s made me stop and take a picture. Look at my picture.

Modern building architecture in Riverside Jacksonville neighborhood
Building in Riverside neighborhood near downtown Jacksonville.

Definitely Minimal, Certianly Expensive: A Personal Experience with the New Balance HI-REZ

Published a couple years ago, Born to Run, described secretive Indians living in hard to find desert wilderness with the super human capacity to run very long distances. Most amazing of all is their feat of extended distances absent modern running shoes and the luxury of dri-fit sweat wicking first world clothing. Don’t even try to imagine running without sunglasses, bubble gum shoes or a matching outfit. You want to look cute right? Running is the fashion show of sports you know. Anyhow, the spirit of the book was that after all their endurance and less than ideal equipment these Indians don’t suffer from the ailments plaguing millions of runners in their right minds or any other ailment. The strong advocacy was for minimalist running. These respected Indians’ notion of footwear is a thin leather soles and leather laces to wrap around ankles.

Nearly five years later this book led me to minimalist running through the New Balance HI-REZ. Free shipping, a one week wait, and $120USD later, I try these shoes on and prepare for running bliss. Feeling closer with the road I expected. Extremely light to the I-didn’t-know-I-was-wearing-shoes weight of 4 oz per shoe. So flexible that I folded FOLDED these shoes an stuffed them into my pockets. The feeling was incredible and New Balance might as well advertise wings. But that’s another company named after Greek mythology.

Towards the end of the first 5k that warm mid-July night my sore calves reminded me of the warning label on these shoes. The warning label effectively cautioned using these shoes slowly in small increments. Yeah, I disregarded the advise and ran as normal. Having run for the past 10 plus years I always considered myself a minimalist runner even before I had a name for it. Cross country teammates said I ran like a bitch which really meant I ran pretty which really really meant I had good form. And I still do though I don’t hear “ho bitch” much. What a shame. The last mile or so was just a preview of what to expect. Calves were sore and they let know it like hungry infant twins.

During that night run through the neighborhood sidewalks I unintentionally scared a fellow runner. Sure I caught up to him from behind and he did not see or sense me. Maybe I should have announced myself and asked for his permission to pass. Really scared he was. Sorry bro but it’s the shoes. Or maybe that I was running solely on the soles of my feet and my calves were taking the hit for the team. Well, I did hold my breath on purpose as I approached to deepen the effect of a fictional silent night runner. Showboat a bit when you have the chance.

The soreness continued after the run and into the next day. Soreness as the only connector between these two days. Taking a different running style I slowed pace and changed my running gait the next day. Small choppy steps instead of long strides. Forefoot strikes instead of tippy toe running. The second night’s run was good and for the next three weeks I continued the same running style. One month into the HI-REZ experiment the infant twins have recovered and generally my feet felt stronger. So I extended my running gait and began to feel normal again. Back to my normal running gait.

The shoes however show obvious wear. Those chicklet-sized “pixels” that resemble pads on a cat’s feet were wearing out quickly. This after only maybe 50 miles. Another 50 miles and these shoes will probably reach their end of life though maybe I might be able to have them around in good enough condition for house shoes. The $120USD HI-REZ are certainly for bourgeois runner, but they are so very worth it. Relatively, this is one of those affordable luxuries. Buy the Porsche just once and it could change your running outlook. Or stay content and sheltered with the Camry and never know of such an experience.

What exactly have I just paid for? I typically always say this out loud after splurging a bit and usually rationalize it as the intellectual cost of the design. Total materials alone won’t get you to $120USD and neither will the technology behind the placement of the pods on the soles. New Balance, in some hype videos, allude to all the work needed to design and create the pods so they don’t fall off. That’s pretty much BS after having purchased the shoes. Sure New Balance tries to demonstrate value but its difficult to justify it after actually owning the shoes.

Perhaps it is the privilege of having access to a wonderfully designed shoe. What else could there be aside from design? Without design and the corporate guts to produce this type of shoe there is nothing. And nothing is exactly what you end up with. Nothing in materials. Nothing in design and by this I mean minimal. And 100 miles in literally nothing is left of the shoes. It’s something of a transcendence after realizing that for many years you thought you needed cushioning or stability to enjoy the innate instinct to run. It was all a lie. Now that makes sense. I’ve found truth.

City Parks as Alternatives to the Starbucks Regiment

Not proofread.

So I usually head to Starbucks when I just want to leave the house and be someplace else that isn’t as formal or quiet as a library but comfortable enough to spend a couple hours. Barnes & Nobles comes a close second. The city park might displace Starbucks as the go to place to relax and read.

The inspiration comes from New York’s Central Park during summer. The imagery is often of the young spread on beach towels like cream cheese on bagels, snacking on food stored in their baskets, wearing obligatory sunglasses, and sometimes shirtless. Oh and tossing around a Frisbee. Huh, I didn’t know that. Frisbee is a trademarked name. Thanks to the spell checker. Flying disk is the generic name. Anyway it never struck my why the park hadn’t entered my mental list of possible alternatives or replacements for my frequent purposes at Starbucks.

On an impulse this past Saturday morning I head to the city park with light supplies: magazine, headphones in zip lock bag, umbrella, bottled water, sunglasses, and folding chair. Check out my city park minimalist equipment here. Except for the large crowd in shelters at the parks entrance, the rear of the park was surprising free of people and cars. A little disappointed but I surely had my pick of parking and area.

City Park Supplies for a Morning of Reading
Supplies for a morning of reading as a getaway from the local Starbucks.

The sole car in the row of spots and one hundred meters to the closest human. No less than one minute since I begin my enjoyment rain drops land on the magazine in dozens. Not a problem since the shelter a few paces away is empty. Actually much more comfortable though I do feel a bit awkward sitting in the chair with my feet resting on the wooden table’s bench. The rain continues and heavier this time. Wind joins the action and I feel great. Relaxed and comfortable the reading is just that more enjoyable. Wind cooled by the heavy rain creates an incredible breeze. Like an ice cube melting in front of a fan. Bottled water is nice, but I was getting the munchies and didn’t bring anything for wanting to keep this adventure light.

The no remorse list of pros and cons.

Pros

  1. Quiet. No explanation needed.
  2. Secluded. Might be scary if alone and female.
  3. Fresh Air. No coffee aroma.
  4. Cheap entrance. At $1.50 cheaper than a frappuccino.
  5. Bring Your Own Food. Need to plan ahead a little.
  6. Play Frisbee. Can’t do this at Starbucks plus you can take a break from whatever you aren’t doing.
  7. Rain. Lovely ambiance.

Cons

  1. Not Air Conditioned. May sweat. Humid too.
  2. Insects and other crawlies. The uncomfortable feeling of creatures.
  3. Bathroom. Hmm. Yeah.
  4. Sunrise to Sundown Only. Good only on days off and weekends.
  5. Rain. Possibility of being soaked.
  6. Bring Your Own Food. You’re stuck should you forget plus bring the wrong thing and you’ll experience the bathroom.
  7. Electricity. Plan ahead item.

Hour and a half into my park adventure restlessness sets. Switch to music though that just accelerated my restlessness. In end the park experiment was a success and now is top of mind for next weekend.

Miami Marlins Triumph and Lose to Pirates

Pecked “Marlins Stadium” into Google Maps. Huh? When did Florida Marlins change nationality and become Miami Marlins? Remember the open roof and well used and renamed Sun Life Stadium where the Marlins used to play? Why am I asking you questions? Many degrees less commercialization and inversely many degrees more baseball. An inverse relationship. Hello Hip Hop meet Commercialization and begin making Hip Hop Babies Deserve Hip Hop T-Shirts together. Good to see you Yoga, I’d like to introduce you to my associate Commercialization for you both to contort yourselves into all manner of perversion. Oi!

I-95 and exist 3a en route to the airport then exit on 12 ave. If it weren’t for the visibly very homeless at the exist I’d feel uncomfortable. Homeless on every freeway exit. Cross the bridge and stay on your right otherwise the line of cars will prevent you from turning right to reach the parking garages squared at corners of Marlins Park. Look up after turning on 7 ave and the white retractable dome looms over the homes of inner city working poor. Homes and apartment buildings of past decades unchanged and unmaintained by their many owners. Umm, yeah, don’t follow those directions.

Let’s find a restaurant on 12th Ave. Peck away on the Yelp app. Its an unkempt neighborhood that 12 ave. Though I’ve never driven through it before or maybe because I’m not accustomed to the urban-ness of downtown Miami; it still seemed quite run down. Reached Dixie Highway finally and found nothing interesting. Probably drove like a total tourist – phone in right hand, steering wheel in right while alternating between glances of phone and anything on left and right sides of street. Dashes of people gathered at corner restaurants with names and facades unknown. Very much an insider or locals things. Naturally. Hungrier by the traffic light we dash as fast as the speed limit allows back to the stadium resigned to pay a premium for soup kitchen food.

Twenty dollar parking sounds expensive until you realize the amazingness upon entering the gates of this concrete palace. Imagine this modern marvel of engineering. Floors, ceilings, walls, everything of of concrete. The parking garage is entertainment own its own merits. Parking spots are very narrow and surely a nightmare for any car owner that doesn’t appreciate dents. If perhaps not your style strangers are willing to help. Shamefully, exploring was limited to the walk to the elevators. Must return. Even the Apple store inspired attendees with mobile cash registers were something of treat. Marlins Park is sure to create a new class of well trained work force from the local community to meet the technological demands of the future in retail and/or parking garages.

Show my paper and up the escalators. Ladies beware of the escalators! Do not fashion yourself a return to the eighties and wear way too short and tight shorts unless you fully expect to display the bottom half of your derriere for the gentleman pretending not to observe your escalator hazard.

Wow. This is an amazing! Entering the stadium on the escalators behind home plate the stadium spread before you in manicured green. Like a widescreen movie the floor and ceiling on level 2 frame your vision. Almost an hour before the game’s start and plenty of time to walk the entire stadium at least once. The seating seems appropriate and enjoyable from any angle. Pirates had begun their batting practice. Baseball is too slow and boring they say. Baseball is like good comedy. Good comedians talk around a joke for a good two to three minutes. It’s enough time to talk to your friend and laugh. Baseball is the same way. There is enough time to talk to your friend and strangers before the next pitch usually.

Marlins Park 360 view from the 306 section.
Marlins Park 360 view from the 306 section.

Ten dollar tickets in section 306 thanks to the Boy Scouts. Struck with guilt of my own childhood I donated $5 dollars to the Boy Scouts outside a local Publix for long rectangular coupon card. There in small print is the Miami Marlins “boyscouts” coupon code for ten dollar seats, where available. A rainy workweek ended only to begin a rainy weekend. Upon arrival the entire 306 section was completely empty. Row A seat 24 and row b seat 24 were mine. One for my bum and the other for my legs. Baseball if paid full attention is a awfully long game to the average spectator. On the third base line, section 306 or the Vista section is well above any other section in the stadium and facing the full glass side of the stadium facing east and onlooking the Miami skyline. The seat and view isn’t as awful as one would expect in cheapo seats. Checkout the view from the 306 section of Marlins Park.

Ehh. The architects of Marlins Park foresaw the future before Google Glass. There is just simply no escaping the advertisements and from the vista of our seats we have a full view. Along all sides of the stadium are spaces for promotions, sales, and offers. No opportunity is wasted. Likely the most distasteful display of advertising and promotion are the in-stadium commercials. These live commercials broadcast onto the jumbo-trons hock t-shirts, tickets, and food and are all ailed by cartoonishly chipper “dancers” on springs possessing a bobblehead quality. Vomit…

Nothing carries emotion and brings together a stadium like Take Me Out to the Ball Game, the baseball anthem. A stadium standing many with arms on shoulders swaying and singing the anthem that brings smiles to the losing team. Shame it was only sung once.

Whatever. Not one home run. Booooo! You stink!

Home already. Leaving the stadium was freakishly smooth. Police at traffic lights waving forward traffic. That all changed as traffic headed for the one lane onramp to I-95, I think. Most cars seemed to heading north to Fort Lauderdale.

Miami Marlins lost 7 to 4. The “boyscouts” coupon code is valid until Sept.