The Madison County Journal
November 3, 1999
on the running shoes
Remember the movie scene when Rocky ran
down the street as a crowd jogged with him, cheering him on as
he prepared for the biggest fight of his life?
That's what I had in mind as I put on my maroon sweatsuit and
slipped on the white sweat bands. If I was going to be champ
of the world - not in boxing but in basketball - I had to pay
the price. Work on my jump shot, my passing skills, read about
the game. Get on the road and sweat it out.
I'd have a crowd behind me too. Just give a 10-year-old some
Unfortunately, I had a crowd a little too soon - two seventh
graders with an aim to put me in my place.
I passed their pickup basketball game and they tossed their ball
aside on the driveway, running at me wild-eyed and silent like
attacking dogs. Before I knew it, my back was on the grass and
my breath was gone. "Look over there," one laughed
hysterically, his knees on my stomach. "See the full moon?"
But he wasn't talking about the moon in the sky.
Mr. Nolan, the 6'9" school principal, paddled those two
after my mom told him what happened. And even I had to feel bad
for them. A paddling from Mr. Nolan was like a death sentence.
But that was the end of my running in the neighborhood. "Dang
if that will happen again," I thought.
Really, the incident proved a convenient excuse not to leave
my backyard. Running was no fun, but launching game-winning shots
over imaginary foes was. Needless to say, when I hit the court
against real opponents, my face was flushed red and I was out
of gas pretty fast.
In the years that followed, I walked a lot playing golf and stayed
in fair shape, but after high school that changed. I spent my
college years devouring late-night pizza and buffalo wings, asking
fast food clerks to "make that a biggie, please."
But it was after college that all that careless eating and lack
of exercise really caught up with me. The way I figure it, if
I continue my waist expansion of the past three years, I'll be
approximately 600 pounds by the time I'm 60.
That's scary, but so is the family history of heart problems.
My mom's brother had bypass surgery at 33.
So I've made halfhearted attempts to get in shape in recent years,
giving up on all of them within a week or two.
But now I'm determined to do it - to shed a few pounds and feel
better, to avoid getting winded every time I have to move quickly
up some steps or walk briskly out of the rain. I've invested
some money in my health - new running shoes, shorts, a membership
at a gym.
I met with a fitness trainer early last month and that was an
experience. She had a formula that determined my body fat percentage.
It wasn't pretty. When she told me the number, I thought of a
steak with a huge slab of fat attached to the good meat, a disappointed
customer sending the plate back to the kitchen.
"You'll need to drink a lot of water," the trainer
told me, saying that, according to her tests, I was basically
Well, sure, I thought. I am one of the "world's most profuse
sweaters," the title actually belonging to my dad, who can
sweat through the knot in his tie.
continued on page 5A
Anyway, the fitness exam did its job with me. The bad numbers
gave me even more motivation to work hard. So now, whenever work
allows, I hit one of the gym's nine treadmills in the evening.
I try not to look at the numbers on neighboring treadmills. It
seems there's always someone nearly doubling my speed, always
someone who seems destined for the Boston marathon.
And while I know I'll never have people running behind me, cheering
me on like Rocky, at least those two guys who ruined my run years
ago are nowhere around. Nobody's going to tackle me on a treadmill.
But those who know me realize that falling off that exercise
machine may be a different story.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison
The Madison County Journal
November 3, 1999
- Frankly Speaking
- A modern-day
The past few weeks have been an adventure for me. I bought a
new, state-of-the-art computer. Naturally, I had to learn how
to use it.
The difference between the new Intel-powered machine and my old
486 is astounding. Its capacity, operating system and computing
abilities far exceed the old machine.
Learning to use this machine is like starting over, and for an
aging, self-educated Georgia redneck like me, that is no easy
I had to learn a new word processor to be able to write these
articles. Then I had to master a new Internet browser and email
server so that I can send the articles for publication. In addition,
I had to find and learn the new computer's programs for maintaining
my web site.
Next, the spreadsheets had to be learned so that I can keep up
with what little money I make. Then I had to find the mailing
list and telephone pages and transfer those records from the
old machine. I had to learn to convert my text files from the
old word processor to the new one.
Once I got these basics under control, I started exploring the
new stuff. This machine has all the bells and whistles the salesman
said. It can find and play radio stations from all over the world
while I am working. It can produce full-color business cards,
brochures, letterheads and other printing needs. It can show
videos from multi-media programs or from the Internet. It can
load and display entire books at once and can store more information
than the so-called supercomputers of a few years ago.
I discovered just how up-to-date this machine is Sunday morning.
When I turned it on, a message on the monitor informed me that
the computer had reset its clock to Eastern Standard Time. That
caused a problem because I had reset it the night before. That
caused a two-hour change and I had to set it again. These new
computers are too smart for their, or our, own good!
The capacity of this new computer is especially astounding to
me when you consider that I was a teenager before I saw a television.
I still have an old wind-up record player that provided music
when I was a child. The growth of technology in my lifetime is
almost more than I can comprehend. I have an advantage over younger
people because I can appreciate the scope of modern technology.
Kids who grew up with all these new gadgets take them for granted.
Now I understand that many of you already have machines like
this one, and my discoveries are old hat to you. But for me,
it is a new adventure. As I master each program, I feel more
youthful, more confident and more useful.
These machines are becoming more and more powerful. But as long
as we continue to be their masters, they are good. It is when
they take over our lives that we have a problem.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison