My neighbor Frederic Claussen passed away last week. He was 72 years old. A graduate of Nobles & Greenough, Harvard, and Boston University Law School, he was a flinty Yankee and the longest serving elected Republican in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, serving as Registrar of Deeds for Barnstable County for 39 years, only retiring from office last year.
He drove an ancient Buick, used to live in one of the oldest houses in the village, and loved animals. My daughter used to walk his collie Fancy for him while he was at work at the county complex in Barnstable Village. One day while I was working in my home office he came over with a copy of a story he had published about a lost dog he had adopted.
The grandson of US Congressman Charles Gifford (who was the author of the 20th Amendment to the US Constitution which changed the date of the presidential inauguration), Mr. Claussen lived near his grandfather’s house in the center of the village and will be forever thanked by generations of beachwalkers, shellfishermen and fishermen for granting a right of way to water by the town dock. His profile page on the State website lists his personal interests simply as “swimming and walking the beach.”
He was one of a breed of Massachusetts Republicans that used to personify Cape Cod politics through the 1970s. He was very good at his job – at least the voters thought so — and was helpful to me in 1980 when as a cub reporter I came to interview him about the role of county government on the Cape. My family and I will miss him, it’s sad to see a great presence in the neighborhood pass away.
Indoor exercise is tedious and without good tunes, it can be worse than boring and more like torture. Since 1994 I’ve been rowing on my Concept2 ergometer and trying to perfect the perfect “mix-tape.” The last 15 years have also seen me struggle to figure out how to listen to that perfect set of songs without a) horrifying people around me by playing them out loud, in the open and b) killing myself or my personal electronics.
At first I used a Sony portable CD player – one of those little round things – and set it next to the erg on a chair. I’d climb onto the rolling seat, put on the “sports” earphones, and then haul away for 30 minutes to an hour, the thin wire swaying back and forth with just enough slack not to pull the player off the chair and crash it to the floor. Too much slack and the rolling seat would roll over the cable, jam the wheels, bring me to an abrupt halt (not cool when one is pushing a 200 beat per minute heart rate) and trash the earphones.
Then I moved to a MiniDisc player and put it inside of a neoprene fanny pack/belt thing that made me look like an American tourist with black socks and madras shorts in the Bagatelle gardens. That was okay, but when I travelled I had to make sure I had the thing as no belt meant no tunes.
In 2002 or so I joined the iPod movement. I moved to an armband holster thing popular with joggers/runners. That was okay except it constricted the blood supply to my burgeoning biceps and I had to wind the cord around and around the iPod to avoid the aforementioned cord-meets-wheels-surprise.
Forget that little solution at home when I travelled, or lose it, and the iPod would get stuck inside of my rowing shorts – or “trou” as rowers refer to them – a tight lycra-spandex bike short sort of thing without the butt-pad. Rowing shorts are better than petri dishes for growing new biological weapons, and let’s just say you never want to borrow my iPod. Never.
A few weeks ago, while reading the Union Boat Club of Boston’s email listserv, I saw a fellow member recommend a solution called the iErg. This is a fabric cover that fits over the rolling seat of my Concept 2 erg, with a side pocket for the iPod. Brilliant. Ten minutes later I had PayPal-ed an order and within a week it arrived.
Perfect solution. I strongly recommend it. And I paid $25 for it, just so you know I am not blowing blogola/pay-per-post b.s.