Monday, October 31, 2016

Haiku 12 (A New Sub-genre)

To my knowledge, which is admittedly very limited on the subject, I just created a new sub-genre of haikus. Traditionally, haikus are about nature, particularly seasons and usually contain a season word that subtly reveals the time of year. They also contain a shift at the third verse, some sort of surprise or reveal. My early efforts with the Marcus haikus contain none of that. My later haikus, however, do. 

My new haiku is about metaphorical seasons, seasons of life. The lines begin


Think of the possibilities and challenges of summarizing your life, or someone else's, in seventeen syllables. Here is one of my new genre haikus.

Child plays long at war.
Boy hopes, votes for wars to end--
Man preaches God's peace.

10/24 - 10/30

It was a decent but not stellar week of training and cat loving. Monday I did not run but let my legs rest for Tuesday's Greenwood Center 5K. I went to the pool where the water was a cool 72 degrees and swam 2,100 meters. At home I did a shoulder workout, went back to work for my night class, then went home to love on cats.

Tuesday I finished second in the MDCC Greenwood Center 5K, swam 2,600 meters at Twin Rivers, and lifted weights. A good day it was.

Wednesday we closed the Center early for Homecoming so I went to the pool and knocked out 3,100 meters. Then I went to campus and again finished second in the 5K.

Thursday the Twin Rivers pool pumps were shut down. That means the water begins to stratify and already the top foot was warm but when I did flip turns, it hurt. Still, I swam 1,600 meters, shuffled 2.1 miles, and took a nap.

I intended to run and swim long Friday, but I did neither. I shuffled 4.66 miles, did some lower body weight lifting, and swam 2,300 meters. 

Saturday I chose not to run at all, but I lifted weights twice and did a short swim of 2,400 meters. I watched a lot of football and hung out with the cats.

For the week, I

swam 14,100 meters,
ran 13.98 miles,
lifted weights four times, and 
walked 6.75 miles.

For the year, I have swum
779,582 meters (484.5 miles), and 
run 936.05 miles.

The running is a little light due to some knee issues over the last few weeks. The swimming is my second all-time highest for a year behind the 873,842 of 2012. There is no way I can catch up with that, but still it already is a good swim year. From now on, it will become more and more difficult to get in swim distance. But we have not had so nice of an October in the past and I am trying my best take advantage of it. This week's weather forecast looks nice. Yeeha.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Haiku 11

Swimmers seek water
Sometimes they hate water's cold--
Soon they will return.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

MDCC 5K Moorhead

I didn't take a single picture. That surprises me because I took only a few at the Greenwood Center's 5K Tuesday and one of the students and I had a discussion on taking more photos next year. After doing our 5K, I traveled to campus Wednesday for the one there. Last year I did the two races on back-to-back days and performed well. I was unsure about this time around because my fitness level is a long way from what is was then.

For the campus run/walk, we had twelve participants which is the best turnout we have had there in several years. When Octaviouus didn't show (the one who beat me yesterday), I thought I might have a chance to win. But then those silly science teachers recruited a baseball player at the last minute and it was deja vu all over again.

Still, I had a good time and got a good workout. Not only that, but I performed pretty well finishing within eight seconds of my Tuesday's time despite mismanaging myself in the pacing department. I went out too quickly. The splits were

Mile one - 9:00
Mile two - 9:12
Mile three - 9:39

See the slowing? Tuesday my first mile was my slowest at 9:20. Although it hurt, I ran the other two faster than that. It seems I always do that over there. Still, I finished second out of six runners, did a little light jogging afterwards and some walking on top of that. Now I feel like I am on the road to running again because my knee feels fine despite running hard two days in a row. Maybe for the spring, I can get my pace back down where it was last year.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

MDCC G'wood Center 5K

Tuesday afternoon we did it again. We at the Greenwood Center of Mississippi Delta Community College held our Fall 5K as part of the 2016 Homecoming festivities. The turnout was, I think, twenty-nine people, a mixture of faculty, staff, and students, and one dog, a large lab that made some walkers a little uncomfortable. The day was warm (84 degrees F), the mood was high, and at 2:00 o'clock we counted down to "Go" and went.
Not everyone got into the frame.
First, we met at the Center at 1:30. Then we loaded into the school van and a few personal automobiles and headed for Wade Road, a paved path of the county that is rarely traveled but only half a mile from our campus. How can you have a totally rural area that close to town, you ask? On the north side of Greenwood lies the Tallahatchie River. Cross that river over the bridge Billy Joe McAlister jumped off (actually it was an earlier bridge but the same location) and you are instantly in cotton country with scarcely a house in sight. Greenwood is neat like that.

Taco, our driver, drove us over the course so everyone would know where to turn around on the out-and-back route. Then we lined up and without fanfare just did it. I didn't expect to win, and I wasn't surprised. Octavious Turner finished first with ease. Too bad we didn't get his time. My running has been on a down cycle lately, and I expected to run around a 10:00 minute per mile pace. Happily I did better than that. My splits were:

Mile one - 9:20,
Mile two - 9:07, and 
Mile three - 9:09 for a total of 27:41. 

This was almost a minute per mile slower than last year but better than I thought I could do this time around. It hurt, however, and the final mile was less than fun as my legs wanted to give way under me while my lungs burned like fire. I finished second with Katy Jones not far behind me, maybe a minute. Then I shuffled another easy mile after the race, back to Stephen Brunson, the last walker, and I walked in with him for another 1.24 miles of easy ambulating. All in all, a pretty good workout. But it didn't end there.
Finishing up with Stephen.
I went home, put on my jammer, and hit the Twin Rivers pool which had warmed from Monday's 72 to 72.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Believe it or not, the .5 makes a difference. The 72 we had Monday was putting me on the edge. I can swim it, but I slowly lose body heat at that temp. Nevertheless, I only swam 2,600 today in a straight effort. I wanted to get home and lift some weights and I did. This is the time of year I start working on strength which will pay big dividends next spring and summer in my training and the Chicot swim. I benched

20 X 100
12 X 115
10 X 121
6 X 131.5. 

That is not too much, but the build has begun. Now I rest, write, and try to get my mind right for tomorrow. We have a 5K on the main campus. I plan to go.

Haiku 10

Swimmers love water,
They pull and feel its glory,
Poems tell their tale.

Monday, October 24, 2016

10/17 - 10/23

Monday was another good weather day here in the Delta. I went to the pool an swam the amazingly warm 78 degree water for

20 X 50 @1:12
500 small paddles
20 X 50 @1:12
500 small paddles
10 X 50 @1:12
500 small paddles
total: 5,200 meters.

After work I shuffled 3.71 miles.

Tuesday the warm weather continued although John did not. I stroked

600 stiff (11:15)
400 easy
500 stiff (9:04)
400 easy
400 stiff (7:18)
400 easy
300 stiff (5:31)
400 easy
total: 5,000 meters.

I tried to run afterwards, but something was wrong. I quit after a dismal 1.81.

John showed up Wednesday and I did 3,500 straight and wasn't feeling it so I tapped out. I did not even attempt a shuffle. What's going on?

Thursday I was alone again and did 

8 X 100@1:57
total: 3,500 meters.

Friday all I did was some weightlifting and a little work in the yard. Mo and Jo are both out of town and I don't know when they are coming back.

Saturday I went to the pool and swam 3,600 straight. The water had dropped to 73 due to some pretty cool nights. I did some weightlifting and then got out of the truck and shuffled 3.74 miles up the big hill and over the gravel roads. I am out of shape. I am a slob. I am disgusting. 

For the week, I

swam 20,800 meters,
lifted weights twice, and
ran 8.21 and walked 3.95 miles.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Haiku 9

The swimmer strokes hard,
He loves water's cool embrace,
His place of refuge.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Enchanting Chicot

I slept on her shore and watched moon beams dance 
 on her surface like sun light plowing through a diamond.
Her deep waters harbor hordes of fish that swim
 under rows of endless piers.
She invites pleasure. 
Who can can refuse her beauty?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Rapper and Haiku 8

Haiku 8

We can't beat Marcus
His bad deeds are everywhere,
His power is evil.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Katessa Singing. Haiku 7

Katessa sings grace
I like her singing a lot
Marcus is a flea.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Haiku 3

Haiku 3

Marcus is a pest,
He feasts upon my soul's pain,
Make him go away.

Come on in. The Water Is Perfect

We have reached that short but magical season of perfect water. Exactly what perfect water is will always be a matter of interpretation just as beauty will always be in the eye of the beholder. But for me, perfection is what we have had in the Twin Rivers pool for two weeks past and almost certainly will have for the upcoming week also.

This year the weather has been a bit atypical but in a good way. September was warmer than August and October has been so warm that people are starting to complain about it. Not I, not me, not never. Despite the warmth, the water temps have slowly fallen in part due to the lengthening nights and in part due to a few cools evenings and early mornings. But warm afternoons and lots of sunshine has kept the numbers up and the pool open. Ms Debbie is still running the pumps and the pool is clean. It has never been this sanitized this late before. Last year at this same time, the pool was dry and my heart broken. Now when you ride by and glance out at the water, it is flat and perfectly still because I am killing it every day. 

If I had to pick one number, one dot on the temperature scale, that I call perfect, it is 74. The range I most like is 78 to 74. For me, that is the number I can still swim for hours in without over chilling and it still feels refreshing and cool. Two weeks ago we began to dip under 80 F and believe it or not, that ends swimming around here. John and I have been the sole survivors frequenting the pool. As the temps have crept downward, my enjoyment has eased upward. Last Thursday we hit 75. I like. Friday it was 74. I liked that even more.

Monday the 17th, the water was a balmy 78. The old man who works with a physical therapist showed up. But one toe touch and he headed back to the car on his walker. Oddly, John failed to show. A phone conversation later revealed that he feared the water was too cold.

So there you have it. In this society, in Greenwood, MS, I am a cold water swimmer for dipping in a pool only a little cooler than a warm bath. That's OK with me. It's MY pool now, and I love it.

Monday, October 17, 2016

10/10 - 10/16

Another week of training has come and gone and I am still not the world's best old man runner. But I had a week that has me pointed in the right direction. Monday I went to the pool alone. I forget where John was but the water was right. We are in that magical time that is always too short. I swam a straight 3,100 and then ran 3.65 after night class.

Tuesday I was again alone at the pool and the water had risen from 75 to 76. Imagine, water temps rising in October. Again I did a straight swim this time for 6,200 meters in 2:04:15. Then I did a 5.65 miles multi-paced effort on the road. 

John was back for Wednesday's swim. I did 

12 X 50 @ 1:12
12 X 50 @ 1:12
12 X 50 @ 1:12
6 X 50 @ 1:12
total: 4,600 meters.

My run was only 2.25 miles.

Thursday I was alone again for

14 X 50 @ 1:12
total: 4,400 meters.

Friday, I attended the Baptists' pastors breakfast at Carrollton Baptist as the guest of Brother Gary. I had planned to park at Dollar General and run Highway 17 after the meal, but I forgot a shirt so I went back home and ran out Money Road instead. I did 8.75 miles as

1- 5.0 slow
2- 2.31 @ 9:58
3- 1.44 slow

That afternoon, it rained and John bailed on me, but I had a glorious swim in the 74 degree Twin Rivers pool. I did

16 X 50 @1:12
total: 5,000 meters.

Saturday, Forrest and I did our Malmaison hike and I walked 3.07 miles and later in the day lifted weights (upper and lower) and walked another .59.

For the week, I

ran 20.3 miles
lifted weights one time
swam 23,300 meters, and 
walked 6.24 miles.

A pretty good week ti was.

Sunday, October 16, 2016


Right at this very moment, my English Composition I class is beginning their first HIIW session. In case you are not familiar, HIIW is an acronym for High Intensity Interval Writing. I said, in case you are not familiar, but I know you are not because to my knowledge I am the only teacher in the United States of America who does this. In short, I apply the principles of physical training to writing. As I do out on the road improving my running, I have my students do in class with pen and paper.

I think it works. 

I know it works with running and swimming because I have used the method with both sports to my benefit.

I think it works with writing also.

Today's session goes like this:

6:00 warm up
1:00 @zone 4
1:00 @zone 2
1:00 @zone 4
1:00 @zone 2
1:00 @zone 4
3:30 cool down

For the students who take the assignment seriously, they always finish with a funny look in their eyes. Once a student said, "I feel high." 

Good job.

The fact is, I am not afraid to try new things whether they work or not. If you keep experimenting, you will come up with something that works even if it is a total accident.

I know all the students don't do it as instructed. It is sort of like doing what the swim coach asks of you. Those 30 X 50 @ 85% don't sound too hard, but if you swim them all at 85%, you finish totally knackered for the day and faster for the next practice. The same holds for interval writing. The ones who do, reap a great training effect.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

In Search of Greenwood's Grave

Forrest, my son, and I took a hike Saturday at Malmaison. Last year, I was running that area on Fridays and one day I parked at the very place we parked. Only then I ran the gravel roads while today we hiked the Leflore Trail and tried to find Greenwood Leflore's grave. Before we left, Paul cooked us delicious breakfast of homemade biscuits, tomato gravy, and bacon. I ate a bunch and then we left Forrest's a little before 9:00 am.

Neither one of us had ever been on that trail so we had a spirit of adventure was high as we left the truck and started walking in the warm but not hot October air. The woods were surprisingly wet, drippy wet, having rained the day before. Not too far in, maybe a half mile, we crossed a wood foot-bridge over a dry creek and entered a side trail which was not well marked and had obviously not been maintained in years. There were signs the trees had grown around and almost covered up with their bark. In spots, kudzo had crept over the trail totally obscuring the way and being nigh near impassable in places. Steps going up and down steep hills were rotten and the hand rails were surprisingly shaky. 

After we crossed a second bridge, we encountered a cemetery the forest had reclaimed. The burial dates were from the 1890s to 1950. Some of the graves were in the bottom along the creek. We wondered around and found graves all over the place. Besides being in the bottom, they were on the ridges and we even found row after row of sunken spots where people had obviously been buried but no tombstones marked the spot. Slave graves? I know not, but from what I have read, Leflore owned over 400 Africans who worked his vast plantation.

We did not find Greenwood's burial spot.

We plan to go back and search some more.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Haiku 6

Haiku 6

Marcus is a jerk,
He works to be a nerd-jerk,
I hate his nerd-work.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fog Machine

When I was a child we called it the fog machine. The City of Greenwood periodically sent a truck down our street that spewed huge clouds of insecticide into the air that was so thick you could not see through it. Really. I'm not sure what they were spraying, but I have been told it was DDT. One advantage of living in the deep South is that we get to fight mosquitoes communally and individually eight months of every year. Or more.

I exaggerate not when I tell you that all the neighborhood kids came out to greet the fog machine and we all ran like roosters in the street behind the truck. I wonder where our parents were and why we were not spanked and locking into and interior room for such life-threatening behavior. We got the biggest thrill out of that adventure, but I'm sure our lungs did too. And if a car had come along and driven through the fog, we might have been squished like a toad frog. 

I suppose that one anecdote illustrates as well as anything how times have changed, how we really did live in a simpler more laid-back time. We stayed in the street. We roamed the town, we swam in the river and threw rocks at cars. We had dirt clod wars and shot each other with slingshots and BB guns. Fun times.

I bring all this up because I ran into the fog machine last night on my evening run. Three times. First, I was shuffling along Medallion Street and wondering what that smell was. I didn't notice the drone-like hum of the mosquito truck a couple of streets over until it made its way back to Medallion and turned right for me. I took a side street and picked up the pace in a desperate attempt to get away, but the driver, whomever he was, followed me, caught me, and covered me up with the latest mosquito dope.

My assumption is that the latest chemical the city uses to combat our bloodsuckers now is a bit less toxic to humans than the old stuff was. But still, it can't be good to breathe that stuff deeply into ones lungs. Once the city worker caught me, I slowed to a walk and then made the next turn to once more escape the machine and find fresh air.

I did it. I got away and began once more to shuffle along not afraid to breathe deeply. I made my way to Riverside Drive and then like a bad dream he came once more and likewise I walked to minimize the destruction of my health. I made it across Grand Blvd and started another shuffle and got a few streets into the eastern part of North Greenwood when he got me again. Was he trying to kill me?

Finally I found myself free and clean from him for the last time. But my run was done by then. I suppose if there is a lesson here it is that I should listen for the machine when I step out the front door and get as far away from it as possible.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Like a lot of folks, I complain a bit. Not a lot, just some. The chief topic of my gripe is language. Many years ago, certain groups launched a war within the USA on grammar. I didn't see it myself until I got to college as a non-traditional student as we are called now. But in the education field, we were told constantly not to teach grammar because, "Scientific research shows, . . . ." I am not anti-science, but I have learned to be suspicious when someone evokes "scientific research," especially if what they are arguing for flies in the face of common sense and what has worked for decades. I respond the same way I do when a used car salesman says he has a real deal just for me. Yeah, right. They are doing it again and this time it's with homework. "The research shows . . . ," I am reading over and over. Get rid of homework and kids get smarter. 

The dumbing down of America continues. 

But I digress. 

It's grammar I want to talk about.

The cows have come home. The grammar ones.

After a couple of decades of "grammar is bad," the English language has sunk to new lows, such lows as to cause me extreme angst almost every day of my life. I hear PhDs who massacre the language in embarrassing ways. No joke. College educated people no longer know the difference between the subjective case and the objective case and say things like "Send Brenda and I an email." English teachers themselves often do not know the difference anymore because I work with several who make the same mistakes repeatedly. It makes me want to throw up on the floor.

But I have an answer.

I can solve the problem.

Not only that, but I can retire America's huge national dept within one year IF.

Yes, it is a big IF, but hear me out.

Appoint me Language Czar of the United States of America, and give me unlimited power to fine and imprison individuals, corporations, and businesses for crimes against the English language.

Yes, I know you can't do it yourself but the President of the United States can, and you can help persuade him to do it. Write a letter to the White House, contact your congressman, call your senator. Begin a campaign to secure me this position, and watch me reshape America. We can be pure again, linguistically as pure as fresh driven snow.

My first act as LCOTUS, will be to inform Walmart that they are fined $100,000 per day per store retroactive ten days ago until they correct that horrendous sign that reads, Twenty Items or Less. Most likely it would take them several days to figure what's wrong with the sign, so I would collect a couple of billion right there. With those billions, I could pay my salary, my entire staff's and all our office expenses. The remaining funds could be split between retiring the national dept and creating a savings account that would eventually pay for undercover language police.

The initial language police would be uniformed officers who answer complaints against the language. One area of emphasis for my department will be the apostrophe. I can get the government billions on that one alone. With those untold billions, I will be able to put on the streets of America undercover language police who will patrol America and protect our children from linguistic predators. Imagine this. You and a friend are having lunch in a local cafe and are chatting about the weather (or anything else). "We don't need no more rain," your friend says and then in a flash, someone pulls a weapon, aims it at your buddy's head and screams, "Freeze! Language police!" He is then cuffed up, taken to jail, and fined heavily. He will remain incarcerated until he pays off the fine. Every last cent.

Does this sound like the America you want? Maybe you think all of this is a bit draconian, but think how seriously far we have already sunk. Read the King James version of the Bible and realize that we have steadily decayed in the beauty and power of our beloved tongue. She deserves protection, veneration, and exaltation not the abuse, unconcern, and scorn she is receiving. Many countries today have language academies who do exactly what I am proposing to do here. In lieu of a language academy, have me instead as the most powerful czar in the states. In a short two years, I can have us back on track to speaking more gooder and writing more better, and I promise financial prosperity to boot. What's not to like?

Monday, October 10, 2016

10/3 - 10/16

I think the running is coming back. So is the weight. I had a good food week, but somehow managed to pack on a few pounds. What else is new? Monday I hit the pool alone because John was out of pocket. He would be out all week until Friday and it showed in my totals. I just did not feel like working too hard. I swam and easy 2,000 then ran 3.6 miles.

Tuesday I did a little more but still too little swimming which is surprising because the water is perfect and it won't stay like this very long. I did not warm up but started with 100s @ 2:00. I did 30 of them and then cooled down with 300 wearing small paddles. After the swim I did a 5.43 multi-paced effort. I am a good one minute plus slower than my 5K pace before I became injured. That's life I guess.

Wednesday I did not swim. We had revival at Centerville from Wednesday through Friday so I was a little pressed for time. Jim Kelly preached and we had some really good services. I ran 2.04 easy miles and did some upper body weightlifting.

Thursday I only did a 2,100 straight swim and ran nothing. Friday, John was back and I once more did a straight swim this time for 5,400 meters. John was ready to go by then so we did and I ran a easy-paced 7.34 miles and did three sets of light squats afterwards.

Saturday we went to Kosciusko and French Camp with Gerald and Debbie. We had a nice time, I wore my Garmin, and recorded 2.35 miles of walking. Not a lot, but better than a poke in the eye. At Kosciusko we went to the flee market that we visited the last time we were there. Then at French Camp, they were holding their annual Harvest Festival. The weather was perfect, cool but shirt sleeve with a nice wind that kept things most pleasant.

For the week, I 

swam 12,800 meters,
ran 18.41 miles,
lifted weights two times, and
walked 4.88 miles.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Haiku 5

Haiku 5

Sam is a schlemiel,
Marcus causes him much pain,
Payback is a switch.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Parks Marathon and 9/26 - 10/2

I am once more trying to rebuild my running. Last year I had hoped to do a personal run I named the Parks Marathon. The plan was to run to several town parks and shuffle a mile on each one. I came up with nine parks. The run to and then the run at will put me close to the marathon distance. I can always tack on some extra mileage to finish out. Right now, however, I am simply not in form to do that. But maybe by the Christmas break at school, I can be fit enough to do this run that has been on my bucket list for over a year now.

Last week's training went like this:

Monday I went to the pool and swam

9 X 50 @ 1:12
150 easy
9 X 50 @ 1:12
150 easy
9 X 50 @ 1:12
150 easy
9 X 50 @ 1:12
150 easy
total: 3,600 meters

Tuesday was the first day this season that the kids did not swim. John and I got to stay a little longer and I did

5 X 400 @ 8:00
1 X 200 @ 4:00
800 small paddles
500 easy
1,000 easy
total: 6,100 meters. 

I also shuffled 4.05 miles so it was a pretty good training day.

Wednesday I swam

10 X 200 @ 4:20
10 @ 100 @ 2:30
total: 4,300

For some reason we did not swim Thursday. I think John wanted to rest. I ran 4.32 miles with some 5K race pace intervals thrown in. Right now 5K pace is a pedestrian 9:07 per mile. It will come back, however, if I can stay healthy.

Friday the water had dropped to about 75, pretty cool but not bad when moving. But standing around at the end of the pool was not very pleasant. I did

10 X 50 @ 1:12
200 easy
10 X 50 @ 1:12
200 easy
10 X 50 @ 1:12
200 easy
10 X 50 @ 1:12
200 easy
1,200 small paddles
total: 5,200 meters.

There was no swimming Saturday since CC wanted to hang out and there was a lot of SEC football on TV. I did get out for a 5.31 multi-paced run, and I lifted weights for the first time in several weeks.

For the week, I 

swam 19,200 meters
walked 2.85 and ran 13.68 miles, and 
lifted weights one time.

For the year, I am at 875 miles running and 708,582 meters swimming.