When He Talks about Running

I finally finished reading Maruki Murakami’s running book, “What I talk about when I talk about Running”. It was my spring basketball book, then the summer swimming pool book. Fortunately I wrapped it up before the ski season.

Murakami is the most popular Japanese writer, as well as the most hopeful future Nobel Prize winner. This book is a memoir about his...running career. He has been a long distance runner for more than 25 years, almost as long as his writing career.

I do not enjoy running. But his book prompted me to try once--2.6 miles, about 1/3 of Murakami’s daily routine. I even dragged my sun-hating girl friend to run with me. By the way, it always puzzles me why most of the Asian girls believe that they are part of the Dracula family and they can’t be exposed to Ultraviolet. Anyway, the short running took us more than an hour. The pain on my overworked knees and ankles were unbearable. We stopped by Dairy Queen for ice cream at the half way, which I am sure of would not be part of Murakami’s routine either.

After I read the last part of this memoir, I understood why the running is not for me. He wrote: “Of course it was painful. But pain seems to be a precondition for this kind of sport. If pain weren't involved, who in the world would ever go to the trouble of taking part of in sports like the triathlon or the marathon? It's precisely because of the pain, we can get the feeling, though this process, of really being alive -- or at least a partial sense of it."

I can’t put myself in the situation where pain is assumed to be a part of it. So running can never be my sports. However, ironically, I still hurt myself too much doing things other than running. I probably secretly enjoy the pain, and the privilege to whine about it. Sometimes I struggled with my sense of existence. Well, once in my life I was stunned by a malfunctioned automatic door -- I thought I vanished. If you haven’t noticed, I need consistent reassurance of my existence. The pain would be a great reminder of not only being alive, but also being here. Although I do not particularly look for pain in my daily life, it still comes to me to fill the void from my insecurity.

In the end of the book, besides thanking Raymond Carver’s widow for granting the permission to use the idea of the book title “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love”, Murakami, or the publisher, put a note about the font that is used in the book. It’s very pleasant to read:

The text of this book was set in Electra, a typeface designed by W.A Dwiggins (1880-1956). It avoids the extreme contrasts between thick and thin elements that mark most modern faces, and it attempts to give a feeling of fluidity, power, and speed.
This is the first time I read about the font in the book, in the book.

I am very fussy about fonts. I can’t stand the randomness that people usually adapt to in terms of the font selection. I am a Calibri person. I try to use this font whenever I can, reports, spreadsheets, presentations, or emails. The funny thing is that there are occasions--more often recently, I would have to hide my identity in documents due to various reasons. Besides my especially poor grammar and spelling, the font would be another giveaway for people to trace my work back to me. In most of those cases, I would use Consolas instead. When I need to be extremely cautious, Arial is the font of choice. I can never put myself as low as Times New Roman though. Murakami said he wants to have this carved on his gravestone: “Writer (and Runner). At Least He Never Walked”. Maybe I would say “At Least He Never Used Times New Roman” on mine.

So I rushed back from the swimming pool, to look up what my particular font says about me. I would imagine Calibri is modern yet is fully engraved with history. It would reflect my attempts to be witty, humble, and logical. Anyway, here is what Wikipedia tells me:

Calibri is a humanist sans-serif typeface family under the Microsoft ClearType Font Collection. In Microsoft Office 2007, it replaced Times New Roman as the default typeface in Word and replaced Arial as the default in PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook.
So much for my pathetic effort to be unique.



中時觀念平台: <白忙一場的血襪生涯>

二○○四年十月十九日,波士頓紅襪隊的冠軍夢又在破碎的邊緣。在這個美國聯盟冠軍的七戰四勝系列戰裡,洋基勢如破竹先拿下三場勝利,紅襪好不容易追回來兩場,稍微帶來了一些希望。可是,這天的比賽回到了洋基球場,如果說惡夢有劇本,這該死的紐約,這該死的第六戰,先發的又是第一戰因為腳踝受傷被洋基打爆的席林(Curt Schilling),一九八六年紅襪國度的心碎,似乎已經冥冥註定要在十幾年後重現。







近年來越來越多醫學實驗,證明美式足球對選手可能造成永久性的腦部傷害。比賽當中球員互相撞擊的力量,跟被車撞到沒什麼兩樣,經年累月的結果,脆弱的大腦當然不禁折磨。最後,輕微的影響是感官或認知能力的衰退、或是失憶的症狀;嚴重情況包括阿茲罕默症、帕金森氏症,因而致命的案例也不少。 二○一五年由威爾.史密斯主演的電影「震盪效應」,片中他所飾演的法醫病理學家奧瑪魯,就是現實世界裡揭開美式足球黑幕的腦神經醫生。聯盟首先嚴重否認,不過證據快速累積,最後當然不得不低頭。 來自選手的集體訴訟案,目前已經進行到登記索賠階段。美式足球聯盟答應負擔生病後的醫療與保險,整體賠償金額可能高達三百億台幣,有望創下職業運動的另類紀錄。此外,聯盟已數次更新球場衝撞的規則,比賽中出現腦震盪徵兆的球員,再度上場前也需依照新規定,接受醫護人員評估。 就算如此,當選手們知道此項運動對身體造成嚴重傷害危險後,近兩三年有好幾位因此提前退休,或是拒絕高額薪水,決定另謀高就。這個月邁阿密海豚隊廿八歲邊鋒卡麥隆宣布高掛球鞋,「不值得冒這種風險。」他說。卡麥隆在過去四個球季裡,至少有四次嚴重腦震盪紀錄。 這一切改變是正面的,球員更懂得保護自己,從數據上能看出比賽時頭部衝撞的機會開始降低,腦震盪數字也顯著減少。更重要的是除職業選手外,各級學校聯盟都採用新標準,改善孩子們受傷情況。許多州甚至以立法方式,嚴格規定各種學生運動在腦震盪出現後,需要經醫生許可才能回到場上。 可是,去年總統大選,川普代表的保守勢力獲勝,情況卻又變了。 北卡州共和黨議員率先開砲,提出法案要讓家長有權許可自己小孩,在腦震盪後繼續比賽。法案裡把家長決定放在第一,排在醫生評估前面。對不少捍衛傳統價值的人來說,衝撞是比賽一部分,不能輕易改變。那些保護球員的措施讓「美式足球變得軟弱,跟美國一樣!」說這些話的不是別人,正是美國第四十五任總統川普。 選前在佛州的造勢晚會上,一位女性川粉突然昏倒,不過在接受現場醫療後恢復意識,回到會場繼續替川普加油,如此舉動馬上引起全場歡呼。川普在興奮之餘,不忘提醒現場支持者,美國已經被自由派搞得軟弱無力,「連她都可以回來,職業足球員被輕輕敲到頭卻不准上場?」後來選上總統的他譏諷地說。果不其然,選後黨內同志沒有放過挽救美式足球的契機,用新法案支持總統的理念。 正如川普首席策士班納所說,新政權將帶給美國全面而整體的改變:教育、環保、…