Thursday, December 22, 2005

Mail Pouch Thermometers

OK, I'm not going to go on a Norman Rockwell-ish nostalgia binge here, but I've had my eyes on one of these for years. I've got a bid on one at eBay right now, and I'm crossing my fingers.

I grew up about 10 miles away from the Bloch Bros. Tobacco Company (now out of business, though the name survives) in Wheeling, WV, and these thermometers (and an earlier version) were a fixture at country stores and gas stations throughout the region. Nowdays you'll be hard-pressed to find a country store, but that's another story...

I don't need a really good one, and I don't intend to preserve it either -- just hang it up on the back porch and watch it slowly fade and rust away. It wasn't meant to do anything else, after all.

Update: I got one! A bit battered but still very servicable, for about $50. It's hanging proudly on the back porch now -- I'll post a picture when I get a chance.

75th Anniversary company history (1954)
Great collection of Mail Pouch barn photos

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Running -- you're doing it all wrong?!

Take some time and read the posts on a site like and you'll be struck by the number of questions and posts asking about and expounding on running "methods." The two most popular of these, the Pose Method and Chi Running both claim to diminish injuries and allow you to run with less effort, all obtainable by buying their books and DVDs, or signing up with a coach. Read their websites and you're left with the impression that without their guidance, you're bound to waste energy and afflict injuries on yourself.

A little background on me -- I've been a runner since my mid 30s (46 years old now), have completed 8 marathons, and have recently begun competing in triathlons. I've never used either method in my training.

It's interesting to me that I never heard of either of these methods until I started checking out the triathlon scene. Many triathletes strike me as obsessed with training methods and gear -- understandable when you have three disciplines to prepare for and you want to get the maximum out of your training. Still, there's a recurring theme -- buy the Total Immersion method if you want to swim better; sign up with a cycling coach or buy expensive watt meters if you want to cycle better; and throw your tired old running ways out the window if you want to run better.

Now, an obsession with gear and coaching makes sense at a certain level, but all of these expensive methods and pieces of gear are being shilled towards beginner triathletes -- in many cases folks who are just trying to get off the couch and burn some pounds off. And what could be worse than trying to deconstruct one of the simplest of human activities -- running? Let's face it -- these people need simple advice: buy decent shoes, don't increase distance too rapidly, and do most of your running at a pace that allows you to hold a conversation while you run. Anything else is, at best, too much too worry about, and, at worst, just short of a scam.

Need advice on running form? Skip the methods and use this advice from Jeff Galloway -- CHIP (Chest high, HIPs forward) -- try it next time you go for a run.