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By Adam Fouche
The Madison County Journal
November 3, 1999

Putting 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 time.
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 dehydrated.
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 County Journal.

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
November 3, 1999

Frankly Speaking
A modern-day adventure
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 task.
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 County Journal.

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