Do these boots make my brain look small?

If your boots are bigger than your dog, you look ridiculous.


Best. Dog. Ever.

For years I have told people that Schwartz is not a cute dog. No. He's HANDSOME. Quite handsome. Maybe even the most handsome dog ever. This kind of gushing over my furry son has resulted in rolling of eyes and snickers. But, now! Now! I have validation that he is THE MOST HANDSOME PET!

Thank you Columbus Monthly Magazine

Gorilla reunion

Even a soul-less ginger, monkey-hater like Rachel has to be able to appreciate this:

Damien Aspinall looks for the gorilla he raised and released in the wild.

All natural alphabet

This is my kind of geekery.

How Nature Inspired the Alphabet.

My name is Atalou and I am a NaBloPoMo Flunkie

I know! I'm a bad, bad blogger.

But, I do have a fun update.

Remember this guy?

Apparently, lots of people do.

Meet Quatchi

Quatchi is the coolest thing about the Olympics.

C'mon? A young sasquatch who loves hockey, photography and the color blue? There are no words for the awesomeness of Quatchi.

Go here and mouse over him.

Then, go here and demand that they make adult sized t-shirts. Preferably long-sleeved.

How ya like me now?

I'm not a big fan of sock monkeys. Unlike Rachel, it is not because I do not like monkeys en masse. Rather, I find the idea of a toy for a child made from an old stinky sock kind of gross. I won't lie. I also find them generally creepy with their blank stares and hooker-red lips. This commercial does little to make them more appealing for me.

Viva enim mortuorum in memoria vivorum est posita

Requiescat in pace, Jason.


Love you.

Divided sky

I need summer. This song? Always makes me think of summer.

I was standing, you were there

Talk about worlds colliding...

One of the things I have found interesting about Facebook is the way I can see all of my friends from various times and places in my life all together in one place. Just yesterday, three friends from very, very different points in my life who to my knowledge do not know one another came together before my eyes to show support for a particular cause. A gentleman I was friends with in high school, a former co-worker from my old "real job" days, and a local celebrity I have the pleasure of knowing all became fans of "Can this pickle get more fans than Nickelback?" Eerie, right?

Penny floor

More snow today. I snapped this shot outside of TigerTree, a little shop around the corner I love if only for the chicken machine they put outside during nicer weather.

When I looked up TigerTree to link to their site, I saw that they were undertaking a DIY penny floor. I can not tell you how much I love this.

I can tell the queen of diamonds by the way she shines

Although I am generally up for all kinds of silly things on the Internets, I'm not so sure I need to take my chances with ChatRoulette. But, you know, I say that sans cocktails.

I live for cornbread

This is Joe. With Tropical Joe. You can tell them apart because Joe is wearing a t-shirt I made him several years ago that reads: I LIVE FOR CORNBREAD.

Bottled moxie

One of my favorite things.

People on buses

My neighbor started this blog a few months ago. I strongly encourage you to contact him and beg him to update it more.

He's a banana

Thank you Daniel Tosh for getting this stuck in my head all day.

Don't let your buns get red...

...use Anti-Monkey Butt powder instead.

I happened upon this product at the local grocery.

Old ties

Years ago, I met this vibrant and energetic lady named Jamie. She was a friend of my friend Abby who suggested we meet at some point because she was sure we'd hit it off. And, one day over lunch we did. Jamie was smart, funny and seemingly up for all kinds of adventure. But, as things go, we saw each other once or twice after that initial meeting. She moved to Tacoma, I moved to Cincinnati and over time I lost touch with even the mutual friend who introduced us.

Fast forward more than 10 years and through the magic of Facebook I recently reconnected with my friend Abby, who is just as hilarious as ever. Then, I was reconnected with Jamie and she....she is on fire!

Great work, lady!

Oscar Caplan ring

So....I'm attempting NaBloPoMo.


Eh, one more time.

Ahem.....and, again....

I know, I's highly unlikely I will actually post every day this month. But, it is a short month. And, I did train for and run a half, maybe my self-discipline is on the upswing.


This month's topic is TIES. And, I have a story about my tie to Bill Clinton....sort of....if you accept a very loose tie.

I've been meaning to investigate the origins of my engagement ring for quite some time. The ring was purchased from Grandview Mercantile and came with an appraisal from a New Jersey-area appraiser. How it ended up in C-Bus is unknown.

Inside it is stamped with the name Oscar Caplan. Until just last week all that I knew was that Caplan was a jeweler in Baltimore, Maryland.

Now I know that Oscar's grandson is the author Thomas Caplan, who is also one of the founders of the PEN/Faulkner award for fiction, as well as close friend of Bill Clinton.

So, there's my tie.

You can read more about it here.

I can check THAT off my list

Dano called me into the living room tonight to watch a new episode of "Man vs. Wild". Oh, did you miss it? Let me tell you what happens....

Bear Grylls gives himself an enema

Oh, you read correctly. No need to rub your eyes.

Right there. On a raft. On my television. I watched a man insert a plastic tube into his rectum and fill his bowels with rancid water.

File as: Things I never thought I would see in my lifetime.

Cross reference with: Things I wish I did not see in my lifetime.

I did NOT get the memo

Exactly when did it become cool and trendy to be a redneck? I do not understand this phenomenon and hope it wanes soon.

Confessions of a Blue Jackets hockey fan

Previously, on Atalou we discussed my surprising development of a hockey addiction. Today, I have some guilty confessions about this matter.

As I noted earlier, one of my initial attractions to hockey was the satisfying sound of a stick hitting a puck. There are other ear tickling sounds, too. The sound of skates skidding on ice. The heavy thud of bodies on the glass. The announcer shouting, "GOOOOOOAL!!!!!!!!" or "Jackets on a POWWWWER PLAAAAAAAY!"

The Columbus Blue Jackets have three other unique sounds that make me embarrassingly happy:

1.) After each goal for the Jackets, they fire a cannon. It startles me to the bone every time even though I know it is coming. And, really, it is insanely silly. A cannon? Yes, a nearly 12-foot by 6-foot cannon.

2.) Right before the cannon they play AC/DC "For those about to rock. (We salute you)" In fact, the cannon fires right before "We salute you!" I mean, COME ON! AC/DC? I was born in a small town in Ohio in 1974. I can belt out "You shook me all night long" word for word and play the opening riff of Hell's Bells on guitar. FACT. Couple cock rock with a cannon? I'm all in.

3.) This might be my favorite. So, after three goals in a game, the crowd chants "Chili" because attendees can receive a free cup of chili from participating Wendy's the day after the game. This pleases me on a few different levels. To begin, the chant is more "Chill-Aye!" as opposed to the more standard pronunciation "Chill-ee!" which for inexplicable reasons provides me great mirth. There is something about hearing several thousand humans chanting about a soup that warms the cockles the way that....well...a warm cup of chili warms the soul on a frigid day. It also makes me happy that people cheer for such an absurd reward for someone else's labor.

Tings in the night

I've been back behind the wheel again for a few months. My life as a potter was put on hold during graduate school when time, money and creative energy were sapped dry. I missed many things about pottery during that period but I had forgot about one of my favorite: the tings of a newly fired pot.

Moving forward

I ran a half marathon today.

No. Really. I am saying that with a straight face. I ran 13.1 miles in the Nationwide Better Health Columbus Marathon. Ran the whole damn thing. A bit slower than I had planned and slower than I trained to do, but I did it. And, I can not pretend that I am not proud of myself.

I had initially planned on running the Columbus Distance Classic last May. However, late last autumn I ended up straining my soleus muscle which took me out of training and out of running for a solid 12 weeks. My injury last fall was due in part to overtraining. I was trying to increase speed and distance simultaneously ignoring the fact that I was still physiologically a novice runner.

My plan to avoid injury for this race was to join Marathoners in Training. I decided this would keep me on track for a gradual distance increase as well as provide me with motivation for the long group runs on the weekends. However, they did not hold a session for this race, so I was on my own. This was a scary prospect. I have very little self-discipline. Very little.

I managed pretty well. I spent 3 months staying in on Friday nights so I could do my long runs on Saturday mornings. The initial long runs of only 4 and 5 miles were actually the worst. This was largely due to me not getting out the door in time to avoid blazing sun and humidity. I had almost two weeks off mid-training while I was on vacation (minus the Loco Moose 5k in Concord, NH I coerced my husband into running on our anniversary) and returned in time to face "real" long runs. The first was supposed to be 7 miles, but I did 8.5 simply because I could. The next was 10 miles and it was almost easy. Both of these runs were actually almost enjoyable. But more importantly, I found the long runs gave me some previously unknown confidence in my ability.

You see, part of all of this half marathon business was a kind of personal confrontation with my body. All of my life, I have relied on my mental and emotional abilities. I can generally work out any problem and face any predicament with ease. I'm moderately intelligent, quick-witted, and relatively calm in temperament. But, physically strong and athletically inclined are words that have never been used to describe me. And, I have some hang ups.

The President's Physical Fitness tests in grade school gym permanently scarred me. I could do the flexibility tests and sit-ups just fine. Shuttle run? Forget it. Every year, I stood and looked at the stars next to the names of my classmates on the poster board hanging on the gymnasium wall. My name had no star. Needless to say, I was never picked first for any team. It does not help matters that I have absolutely zero competitive drive. I tried volleyball in junior high but quickly realized that I was not fit for team sports. First of all, there was running. Second, I simply did not care if we won or lost and I really didn't even enjoy playing the game. When our team lost the end of season tournament, I remember shedding tears just like the rest of my teammates. However, my tears were not for the loss of the match, but rather feelings of being an outcast.

And so, I have spent my adult life shunning organized sports and most athletic activities in general. Running, however, has become something of an unexpected thrill. I actually started crying the first time I ran more than 4 miles without stopping. It kind of came out of nowhere. My eyes just started welling up. I thought it was maybe just the runner's high I had heard about. But, it has happened a few times since. It doesn't necessarily hit me just because I hit a milestone like a faster 5k or a longer distance. In fact, most of the times it has happened has been on a standard kind of run but each time the same thought suddenly enters my head: "I'm a runner." This kind of pride does not happen when I see Ph.D. next to my name nor when I receive a thank you note from a former student who I had an impact on in some way. The latter things are nice, but for some reason, becoming a runner is some kind of personal achievement more fulfilling than I can explain.

I was actually feeling pretty confident about the race until Friday. I woke up with a slight tickle in my throat which I just chalked up as the remnants of a cold. But, by late afternoon my chest was burning and my lungs rattled with phlegm. Taking in a full breath was not easy. I started eating guaifenesin like mints. My chest was still tight on Saturday and I felt like I was at only 60% of myself. I started to worry that I simply would not be able to run. The months of training would be all for not. Nonetheless, I ate my pasta carbonara and drank my water and set out my running pants and shoes for the next morning. I decided around 10 p.m. to attempt sleep. At 11, I tried reading. At midnight, I tried watching TV. At 2:30 a.m., I went through the alphabet trying to come up with running related words: athlete, bib number, course map, d-chip, elevation, fartlek, garmin, Hal Higdon, etc. At 4 I realized I was not going to sleep.

I finally crawled out of bed at 5:45 to stretch and take in my planned pre-race breakfast of peanut butter toast and a banana. By this point, the lack of sleep and my nerves made swallowing nearly impossible. I choked down half of the banana and a few bites of the toast before I woke up Dano at 6:45 to take me downtown. I started to feel queasy and could not decide if it was nerves or the chest cold or both. At one point I told Dano I was going to puke. But, alas, I jumped out of the car and headed to face my fate.

Something shifted in me as soon as I started walking towards the crowd of people waiting to start. I still felt lousy, was exhausted, and unable to take in full breaths without coughing. But, suddenly I trusted that my body would perform. Maybe not to the same level that I had trained for, but I knew I could at least go the distance. My whole perspective lifted and I reminded myself how prepared I was. I had trained well. I could DO this. In fact, I WAS doing this. I turned on my iPod to deter any remaining remnants of doubt.

Did I mention it was 33 degrees? Being surrounded by 14,000+ people kept me moderately warm waiting for the race to start, but it was great to start moving. The first mile is largely a blur. I weaved through some slower runners and tried to find an open area to pace myself. I was really afraid of starting out too fast, especially since I knew I was tired, drained, and still fighting a cold. I finally settled into a comfortable pace and started paying attention to all that was going on around the back of the t-shirt on the woman in front of me that read, "This seemed like a good idea 16 weeks ago" and the man who buzzed by me with a cancer survivor hat. And the people! Oh! My! God! I knew that the Columbus community did a great job rallying around the marathon, but WOW! Even in the first few miles when I did not really need support I wanted to hug everyone flanking the streets for standing outside in upper 30 degree weather. There were way more people than I had imagined which struck me as hilarious when I remembered that when I first started running only two years ago I would only run on side streets where I thought there would be fewer people seeing me flounder about. But now, there I was running in the middle of the road with hundreds of eyes on me...and it didn't bother me one bit.

About half way through mile 5 I realized just how exhausted my body really was. My last few long runs had been relatively easy. In fact, they became easier after mile 5 when my muscles had loosened and I had found my rhythm. But, today my muscles seemed to be wholly inelastic. I passed the 6 mile marker and checked my iPod seeing that I was a bit slower than I had hoped but not as slow as I felt. Around this time I also developed a pain in the bottom of my left foot which stayed through the next few miles.

As we approached mile 7 the race volunteers passed out Clif Shots. I've never dappled with any of these energy supplements, but I grabbed one today as a precautionary measure. I decided to just take a small taste and if that went well, I'd try another. It wasn't until I opened the package that I realized I had the vanilla flavor. Ugh! I love vanilla...but it was the last flavor I thought would be appealing during a run. I was so wrong. I took a small slurp (Clif Shots are gel, so it isn't really a bite or a sip) and held it in my mouth. It was like a comforting latte. I kicked in some positive thinking at this point reminding myself that I had trained my body to deal with exhaustion and realizing I was beyond the half way point.

Mile 8 was definitely tough as the pain in my foot and my tight muscles were distracting, but I kept talking myself through it. Throughout mile 9 I kept reminding myself that as soon as I hit the 10 mile marker I would be heading into familiar territory. I had run the final leg of the course route during three of my long runs so I knew what to expect. And, sure enough, as soon as I passed that 10 mile marker I felt an excited rush. Mile 11 seemed to pop up immediately and I took the last pull off of the Clif Shot. Two more miles. This was it. Two. More. Miles. Two years ago, I was happy to be able to run two miles without stopping and today I only needed to run two more miles to finish a half marathon.

I realized I was actually passing people even though my hip flexors and iliotibial bands were straining as the last two miles of the course are largely uphill. I started thinking about the number of people who were happy for me, proud of me, and shining positive energy my way. And then it hit me: I am fucking finishing a half marathon!!!!! There is no other way to phrase it (sorry mom). It was that forceful of a acknowledgment. Me. By myself. For no monetary gain for completing, nor risk of consequence for not. I was really doing it. I was going to get a little star next to my name on my own little internal poster board. I started laughing out loud. Seriously.

After that, I honestly don't remember too much. The final quarter of a mile was downhill and flanked with people cheering. As soon as I was able to see the finish line it was my only focus. I gladly accepted a foil blanket and thanked the volunteer who gave me my medal and then headed out of the gates to meet Dano.

Looking back, it really was not that difficult. As with just about everything, it was just a matter of getting out there and doing it. If anything, for me, it was getting over the idea that for some reason I would not be able to do it. Or, that how fast I did it was not good enough. I learned a lot while training and even more while running my first half and now I look forward to the next. I guess that's what happens. I'm a runner.

Take me out to the ballgame...

I woke up this morning feeling pretty good. I went for an awesome 4 mile run and then grabbed my camera to head out to my friends' softball game. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and I managed to get most of the lights green on the way to the softball fields at Whetstone.

Just as I got to the game, this guy wanted me to take his picture.

Nobody knew who he was or where he came from, but he stood in front of me and pointed to my camera and then to himself and I got the hint. After snapping his photo, he took a peek at it on the viewfinder and wandered off apparently satisfied with my handiwork.

Then, things when downhill.

A fight broke out.

My friend's team lost.

And, THEN, I was clobbered in the back of the noggin by a softball. This resulted in a trip to ER, not being able to visit with friends, and an evening of discomfort and grouchiness.

I've had better Sundays.

Click "ignore"

This is hysterical. I kid you not. Stick with it. Around the 2 minute mark, you'll appreciate it.

The Facebook Song - Kate Miller-Heidke

And, while I am posting songs with profanity I may as well also link you to this hilarious but somewhat racy list of Five Cues Robert Plant is Ready to Have Sexual Intercourse With You.

Tales of a doting wife

As we know from the ever-wise and insightful Maggie, No One Cares What You Had For Lunch. But, let's take a look at my husband's lunch, shall we? Let's do, because I spent a silly amount of time creating the perfect roast beef sandwich on 12-grain wheat and fun fruit spears to offset the despicable Doritos he so loves.

As I toothpicked the berries and bananas I realized that I do not have nearly enough to do and my husband is quite spoiled.