Thursday, January 31, 2008

The request

I got a letter from my Mom, and she thinks that I should write something about all of the good parts of me and not just about my faults.

I called her in her hospital room last night where she is recovering from knee replacement surgery. She was groggy and sounded exhausted but wanted to know how we were all doing. She always steers the conversation toward everyone elses well being, and leaves no one out. Once I started talking about some things I think she may have dozed off for a minute, but the point is that she is one of the kindest people I have ever known. When she woke up, and we ended the conversation, it occured to me that talking to her always brings peace to my life.

I had kids and married very young (that was nearly the order of things) ; I was just begining down the road to adulthood and didn't know what my thoughts on life were yet. As a young parent I did the best I could, and I couldn't have loved my kids more. I see their struggles now and recognize them as mine, and I just wish I had known myself before becoming their Dad.

My wife is similar to my Mom in that everyone loves her and she is always thinking about how to help others. She is an animal whisperer of sorts; her connection to our animals ,and her understanding of what they need, like, or want has always amazed me. When we first met, we were walking and saw a penny lying on the ground heads up. She said that she would leave it for someone else because she had all the luck she needed. That is why I love her, for so many reasons.

I find many things funny, and can elaborate on them and make myself laugh. Often times I exaggerate things because it makes them funnier to me, especially when I realize that my perspective is flawed. I don't really think poorly of myself and I do appreciate the gifts that I have been given in life, but that's not funny to me so it won't be on the tip of my tonuge often.

All right Mom, I tried. You know my good points, and I appreciate that I am so similar to you in some really good ways. When I was a goofy and lost twenty year old, you watched me console Chris after his last highschool wrestling match, and afterward you pulled me aside and told me that I was a truly good person. That meant so much to me at that moment in my life.

I do know that I'm good.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Less like Hell

While riding in the carpool this morning I realized that I don't completely hate my job. At my last job I used to say that the bus we rode from the parking lot to the office was delivering me to the gates of Hell. That was actually true though. I remember many meetings when Beelzebub would tell us things like:

"We need to work smarter men, not harder."

"Ask your neighbors, most companies are stripping away their employee's pay, benefits, and retirement; You have it pretty damn good when you consider the prestige you earn just by working here."

"Yes, it's true that you work mid-night shift, have crappy off-days, and work outdoors in Portland Oregon's rain, but we have to watch our sick time."

So, back to paradise and the fact that work sucks less now. As I sit here, during our monthly meeting, and jot down a few thoughts, my manager, pseudo Beelzebub (PBZB), is bordering on the absurd. He speaks in very simple terms, and then follows them up with,
"Does that make sense?"
"No, none of this makes any sense at all," the dream me (DM) says.
"Yes sir," is what the real me(RM) says. I follow it up with, "May I have another?"

The meeting moves on to safety and injuries. Injuries are so measurable that this is a topic which is presented robustly: PBZB is in full blown managerial mode.

PBZB - "Does that make sense?"
DM - "No, the man fell off of a ladder, why do I have to wear safety glasses now while I surf the Internet?"
RM - "Yes sir, may I have yet another?"
PBZB - "It's just the best management practice."
DM - " But they hurt my head; my temples are sensitive."
RM - "zzzzzzzzzz...."

I'm in a meadow filled with wild flowers. They are like a living rainbow; raspberry red, lemon yellow, orange..."

PBZB - "...Does that make sense?"
RM - "No."
PBZB - "What?"
RM - "Yes sir, may I have another?"
PBZB - "See me after break."
RM - "DOH!"
DM - "Does that make sense?"

Se la vie. By the time I pass the dookie blender again all will be forgotten.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

What I saw

I ran for 1:26:00 today. It was a beautiful Georgia "winter" day. The sky had that clear, deep blue that is so inspiring, and I can feel that even tyring to describe it would diminish it. That's the blue that I want people to think of when they remember me, some years down the road when I am no more. If you could inspire that image in someones mind when they thought of you, that would be something.

I ran across a bridge and saw my shadow far below on the bank of a creek. As I glimpsed myself moving across the small ravine bottom, I wondered what made the shadow mine; not physically casting the shadow, but having it be uniquely me. Anyone could be running there, and I'm not sure I could pick my own shadow out of a line up. And then it hit me that there is nothing, it is simply a shadow crossing a creek. If you followed it and saw it rescue the turtle from the road, or move the persons newspaper out of the path of their sprinkler, then you start to understand what's inside it. But, on the surface it could be anyone.

I ran past a trailer park with a large dumpster at its front gate...okay, I laughed.

The church parking lots were all full. I was almost run over by a family leaving a church, and wanting to get through the intersection before I did apparently...they did. "And peace be with you" I called out, though it may have sounded a little more like "you rotten son of a bitch."

I learned that from my Dad. The funny thing is that I didn't know it until last summer. I have been working on a house and trying to meet deadlines for two years. While running into snag after snag, I uttered the phrase many times, "You rotten son of a bitch!," or "You dirty rotten son of a bitch!," or "You low down dirty rotten son of a bitch!" It was a labor of love.
My Dad came up last summer to help me finish the bathroom. We were hanging some Sheetrock when low and behold the screw missed the stud and gouged the Sheetrock, and he said "you rotten son of a bitch." I laughed pretty hard, he didn't seem to find the same humor in it. I guess I understand, I don't know how I'll react down the road when I hear my son or daughter say it, but I know it's coming.

Finally, as I approached an outdoor produce stand that is closed for the season, I saw my wife waiting patiently for me. She had a warm oatmeal raisin cookie for me, which became my favorite by default when the triple chocolate chip was ruled out by my genetically high cholesterol...stupid cholesterol. She had some cold drinks for me and her naturally soft presence. What a great day.

And the winner is?

Part of being American is knowing where things rank. The innate value of the ranking depends on the category, but the system design is universal; if you are number one, then you have out done all others in your category. Of course, since being number one is the only thing that earns any respect here in the land of the free, sub-categories had to be developed based on more stringent criteria, so more number ones could be named.

We honor the leading killer among: all Americans, different groups over or under a given age, among smokers and drinkers, depending on where you live and the likelihood that you'll be stabbed or bludgeoned, among different races, and different classes.

In some cases, the separations are obvious and valid; Black lung never really got a foothold on Martha's Vineyard. In other cases the criteria and the category are invalid; Children who are over weight at 16 are the most likely to be overweight as adults (there are so many things wrong with this one).

The categorizing starts at a young age, as we decide who is most likely to succeed among our peers in high school. Of course, we based this decision on what we knew about the world then. If we had known that he came from a family of smokers and was 10 times more likely to be a smoker himself, thereby increasing his risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as the tendency to stay up late and surf porn on the net, we would have voted for someone else.

When we watch the Olympics, we see an on-going tally in the corner of the screen titled "The Medal Count." All the athletes that have lived their lives with the Olympics as their ultimate goal are reduced to one of four categories: Gold, Silver, Bronze, and "did not place," which, of course, makes them a failure. However, if they fail spectacularly enough, they can still become the biggest failure.

I wonder where doing the best that you can ranks? I think the problem with that is that it's subjective. If you don't win, how do the rest of us know if you really tried your hardest. Plus, 9 out of 10 people prefer to watch a winner.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A disturbing trend

I noticed that a little vulgarity and some mild profanity has found it's way into my blog. At first I was a little embarrassed by this, and actually regretted some of the off color commentary. But then I decided to say the hell with it, and embrace it as what it is; part of who I am. I have just the thinnest vein of tackiness that runs through me, and that's OK.

So, we're in the carpool in the morning and our commute takes us right by a sewage plant. On mornings when the odor is particularly nasty, one guy feels compelled to comment on it. Apparently the facility operates by rotating a large blade around through the waste so it processes easier. On most mornings the comments are similar if not identical.

"They're churning up some dookie this morning fellas," or,

"It's a big blender, just mixin up a big ole dookie cocktail."

I find this funny mostly because dookie sounds funny, but also because it is so gross. What makes gross things humorous? Why are large, human-like genitalia that hang from a truck funny? The campfire scene in Blazing saddles? Austin Powers and his nutty coffee?
I think it's because we're all a little tacky. Most of us use it like sarcasm, where a little bit goes a long way, but others let it define them. Those of us who let it be who we are all the time are funny to everyone some of the time and to no one any more than that.

A guy I know is always finding the most bizarre and tacky information that is available on the Internet. Some of it is funny, like: the photos of Bigfoot on Mars, the 8 lb. hamburger eating contest, the "rarest disease", where one twin was enveloped by the other and still lives in his belly. But conversations rarely go beyond the playing of corn hole, which is actually a very popular game of tossing bags which are filled with corn, through a hole in a board. All it takes to play corn hole is corn filled bags, boards with holes in them, and a good supply of beer. The name corn hole is so tacky that it is a bit funny the first time you hear it, but the humor is then gone forever, and hearing about it all the time becomes a source of serious irritation. He actually carries a card showing that he belongs to the corn hole association of America.

So, I think that finding humor in some semi-tacky things is OK. I just don't want to wake up some day and realize that I have large testicles...hanging from my truck. You see how that works? Tacky, but there is a little fringe humor there too.

Tomorrows post will be of value, I promise.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Heart Matters

Since moving to Georgia my wife and I have seen many large trucks with decorative emblems and things that are plugged in where a trailer hitch would normally go. There are boat propellers, Dodge and Ford emblems, demons with red eyes that light up when the brakes are in use, and other creative designs. There are also trucks with large scrotum hanging from the hitch, and they are very life-like in appearance. It is funny and somewhat gross at the same time, but I just think, "oh those crazy rednecks." Unfortunately for those choosing this as their "prop," important people now have a couple of issues with their choice of decorations.

It seems that the issue has found its way into the national spotlight. The movers and shakers in Virginia's legislative body are saying no more. The proposed law, in a nutshell, would make it a misdemeanor to display human genitalia look-alikes on a motor vehicle. I'm torn between the two sides, because it takes cajones to be on either side of this one.

The real point here is now upon us; While on the American Heart Association web page, I signed up to be contacted whenever a letter needs to be sent to solicit the support of our legal representatives in the government. We need to get help to fund things like the research to prevent heart disease, which they say is the number one killer in our country. Surely an issue like heart disease is worthy of ongoing and unsolicited support. It's not like it needs to be re-addressed as a new issue every time congress meets. I saw a t-shirt that said "I'm not fat, I'm American." Enough said. Lets just fund the cause as if it were at least as important as look-a-like genitalia. But, you know what, the genitalia thing is a misdemeanor and therefore has a chance to raise revenue. Heart research is just an ongoing burden that provides no revenue.

How do you even decide to hang genitalia from your truck? Maybe they can hang them from the back of their hat instead. They will keep the flies away, like a cow swishing it's tail. Sometimes things that hang from hats have value. Consider the men in the outback of Australia with bits of cork dangling from their hats as they are out waltzing Matilda under the shade of a Koolaba tree. Of course there is always a tense moment when one of them realizes his pieces of cork are inferior in size. "Hey, your cork is bigger than mine," they might say...This is going no where good and I should just leave it alone.

So, visit your AHA website and pledge to write to congress, and, as always, leave the human look-a-like genitalia at home.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

In a tough spot

After a long run filled with internal struggles, I asked my wife, "How do you think you change your spots?"

She gave me the look that I've come to understand means, "Oh dear God, more of this?"
What she actually said, as patiently as 23 years of living with me allows, was "Why change your spots? There's nothing wrong with your spots." She's too kind, sometimes.

"My spots are killing me." I told her.

For the ease of both reading and writing this, we'll dispense with the conversational format and just assume that the rest is a mixture of what was said, what I thought was said, or what should have been said. Back to the story...

I have killer spots. I have hyena spots and Tasmanian devil spots, that make me tense, high-energy, and fidgety. I want to have some turtle spots, some sloth spots, and some owl spots (the wise ones and not the endangered ones). I'm not sure if they all have spots or not, but that couldn't be farther from the point; these are metaphorical spots I speak of.

Perhaps I could have some backup spots for special occasions, or just to get me out of a jam. I could slip into them at a moments notice and become calm, suave, intuitive, or whatever the situation called for; a set of loner spots really.

I could have used backup spots yesterday, when I misunderstood the purpose of the trip to the craft store. I marched in and asked for the aisle number of the items we needed, found the aisle and the items, and was ready to go. After sifting through the layers of disappointment that my wife had in me, I was enlightened. It turns out that my method keeps you from finding the things that you want, but don't know it yet...the only way to find those things is to explore each aisle.

I want to understand, but I'm missing some of the spots that make it possible.

Monday, January 21, 2008


"It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important." -Martin Luther King Jr.

It's hard to believe that this is a quote from only 40 years ago. How could we ever have needed a law to say that lynching was illegal for any reason, let alone simply because of skin tone? Is that just the way we are as humans? Without the law would it still be going on today? The depressing reality of the racial issues in the world can quickly lead to lost hope, and to asking the question, "Will it ever end?" But the message of Martin Luther King Jr. was one of hope, and the belief that one day things would be different.

-Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

-I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

-Life's most persistent and urgent question is, "What are you doing for others?"

I guess that if I were being honest, I would have to say that I am not typically doing anything to anyone, but I can't say that I am doing much for anyone either.

So, as I head out to run and contemplate the value of my life, I'll start out with this thought:

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." - Martin Luther King Jr.

Peace to all.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Heavy snow warning!!

Yesterday began with some very cold, light rain. By 10 AM it had changed to sleet, and many flights out of ATL were already cancelled. I turned on the news to find heavy snow warnings progressing from Mississippi to South Carolina throughout the day.

It did snow, and we did get an inch or so, which is a big deal here from what I gather, but it felt a little silly to see the community shut down over it. Just as the snow ended, and the sun broke through to begin the melting process, we got a call from our New Hampshire relatives. They had seen the snow warnings for our area and wondered how bad it was. They laughed at such a small amount of snow causing such panic, and also at the fact that I had moved away from Portland OR, and here to paradise to get away from foul weather.

I was happy to be the butt of a joke that gave someone joy; I've grown accustomed to being a butt of some sort. I actually have the ability to be many different butts to many people as needed; I'm sort of a butt chameleon you might say, but it probably won't come up in conversation so you may never get the chance. I've said it, and my wife has a few times, although when she says it it sounds more like "you can be such an ass." ...semantics really. The point is that I am flexible as well as ass savvy.

So, this morning the world is frozen. After a low in the mid 20's there is a nice sheet of ice everywhere. More laughter from the New Hampshire contingent, but ice, unlike snow, is the same everywhere so give the chameleon a kiss.

As soon as the sun melts the ice away, I'm going to enjoy a sunny run in paradise and its 40 plus degrees.

There remains only one thing left to say this morning, Go Patriots!

Run, always run.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I want to sleep like a baby

I'll never figure out how an eight pound cat can make as much noise as ours does. I have a sound machine that blocks out most of her nighttime antics, but she has learned both the limits of the machine, and which noises I will find worth investigating. Last night I was snatched from a fitful, semi-sleep-like state by a small army of elves in the living room. As I stumbled out of the bedroom, the noises died down. By the time I arrived on the scene, a jiggle ball jingled one last time as it came to a stop. The cat, Oreos, let out a sweet little meow and took a halfhearted swipe at the pile of balls with bells inside of them. I wasn't buying it and I'm sure she had been juggling them all before I showed up.

"These are daytime toys," I explained.

She sprang up and galloped into my bedroom. I waited for the door to slam and cursed my Fred Flintstonesque foolishness. Of course this didn't happen, and soon I heard the tell tale signs of the litter box ritual. As a new addition to the ritual, a shirt that I left on the bathroom floor was recruited to help hide the fault. Fortunately the smell washes out easily.

I turned to head back to bed just as Oreos wound her way between my legs and flopped onto her back for full belly exposure. I was awake, and it only seemed reasonable to her that petting was sure to follow.

"It's 1:30 in the morning," I explained.

She rolled and twisted her way to my foot and playfully grabbed it. I smiled as I bent to pick her up. No wonder I was lacking as a parent, I can't even draw lines with a cat that she can't figure out how to erase. Her purring and cuddling reminds me that with all my faults the one thing I do have is an abundance of Love. I turned back to the bed with Oreos in my arms, and there was the dog, Hershey, standing and wagging her tail.

"It's 1:35 in the morning Hershey," I explained.

She hopped out of her bed, which also happens to be my bed, and headed for the back door.

" !Oh mi dios!" I said.

Ten minutes later, after topping off the water bowl, explaining why it wasn't time for breakfast yet, and making sure that Oreos understood the distinction between day and night toys, I slipped back into my corner of the bed.

I was nearly asleep when I thought of my son and his current roommate saga. He worked for a year after high school and was just now going to college. His roommates may not be able to make rent, and since I had talked him out of working full time, and into going back to school, I wondered where I would fit in to the long as it finished "+ dad = success," I don't really care.

The cat purred, the dog snored, my wife enjoyed her usual deep slumber, and somewhere along the way I was able to find my restless sleep-like state.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I used to think that I was born in the wrong century. In my overly glamorized image of myself, I was meant to walk among the bear and deer, and to pull salmon from a cold clear stream with my bare hands. With a piece of parchment and a stick of charcoal I would have chronicled my time in the wild west, and complained of the lack of a good medium. Over a steaming cup of chicory, wrapped in some animal's dried skin to ward off the bitter cold, I would have basked in the peaceful "aloneness" of it all...

In my heart I know that I didn't belong in any time prior to the invention of forced-air gas heat. Also conspicuously absent from the old west was a decent pair of running shoes, ill fitting or otherwise. In light of these and so many other modern conveniences that I could not live without, I think that I simply live on the wrong continent. If I lived on the beach in Mexico, I could enjoy the spirit of the old west.

I could wade in the warm Caribbean waters among the pelicans and sand crabs, and eat beans with my bare hands. I would have the Internet to chronicle my time in paradise, and all of the same things I currently complain about could still occupy my time. I would bask in the sun and enjoy a sort of peaceful "aloneness" because I don't speak Spanish. I could politely ward off any intruders in my midst with a simple ",No se," or ",Yo soy gringo," In case it wasn't already obvious.

Of course, with my luck I would hear more like:

-Hola senor.
Hi, sorry, I'm a gringo and therefore I don't understand.
-?Por que necesitan adsense?
What? You said something about adsense right?
-?Que dice usted?
Wait, where are you going?
-!Oh mi dios! !Gringo!
Wait...come back.....Shano..please come back.

.Adios muchachos.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Weak shtick

From the far corner of the Internet, among the dust balls where no one ever goes, came an almost imperceptible "yap."

No, it was a tap, followed by another and yet another. The slow, rhythmic tapping called out silently "we rae here."...tap,tap,tap..."we are here."
"It's a good thing we're not on fire," it continued, "because no one knows we're here."

I just almost slapped myself.

I need a new shtick, my routines are tired. Yeah, yeah, we all know that your shoes don't fit, no one knows you're here, and you run past a mysterious rock in the dark. Oh yeah, and you have coffee hangups. Find some new material; I'm just saying.

What about politics? A political shtick that pokes fun at current issues and just may work, but I have some research to do.

I'll be back.

P.S. I have a site full of no ads, still.

P.P.S. I didn't even make it to "publish post," and I knew that I would not be back to discuss politics. It's just not me. I'll vote for whomever contacts me first and helps me get ads on my site. In the meantime, I'm off to run pig rock route 3.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Am I too bizarre?

If you cross that line, and no one appreciates your ramblings, have you gone too far? After all, who is this for? I would like to say it is only for me and forget everyone else, but I truly need someone to read my ramblings. Yes, okay, I did sign up to have ads placed on my blog. This not only implies that I would like an audience, but one that needs things. Unfortunately, they have yet to match my interests to any ads. Is this because the nonsense that fills my head doesn't link in any way to the commercial market, or just a statement that the lack of quality in my ramblings makes it a good business decision to avoid affiliation with me?

.no se.

Come back Shane.......Shane?
No?....Well, forget you. I'll learn how to shoot the damn rifle on my own. is a WINCHESTER rifle by the way. And, my NIKE shoes make it easy for me to run through the woods while covered in DEEP WOODS OFF to keep the mosquitoes away; nothing works better.

No?....Oh, whats the use.

Stick with what you know

My coffee had no flavor this morning; What a disappointing beginning to any day, let alone Monday. Now that I think about it, it had a flavor but not a pleasant one. I tried Kamodo Dragon beans for the first time today in an effort to broaden my horizons. Back to Sumatra I guess; trying new things never works out.

No wonder there are so many well known sayings that encourage us to stay with what we know, and still we venture out and randomly try new stuff. There are clearly reasons for bits of wisdom like:

- Tried and true
- The old standby
- Same ole, same ole
- My favorite jeans
- Don't test the depth of the water with both feet
- Don't try new things
- Nothing ventured, nothing lost
- Hair of the dog (it implies: same ole, same ole)
- Shane...come back!

A day that started so poorly never got any better until now. Alan Ladd was a man's man, he didn't even let his emotional struggle show as he turned his back on Joey, and left him calling after him pitifully. Of course it was Joey's mother that Shane was really distraught over leaving behind. If they hadn't invited Shane into their lives the ranch family wouldn't have known what they were missing. Shame on them for trying something new, range war or not, lines have to be drawn.

Back to Sumatra for me.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Too young to know

Over the course of the last year I have traveled quite a bit. Every week, as I waited for my flight back to Portland, I saw hundreds of soldiers in desert camouflage fatigues waiting to catch their flights to Iraq. Some of them seemed older and less anxious about what was ahead of them, some of them seemed like boys and were very uneasy. On some of the flights the flight attendants made announcements thanking these soldiers for their sacrifices, and everyone gave them a round of applause.

One afternoon I was riding the train out to B concourse with several soldiers. One had a cane and seemed to be going home due to his injuries, and two others were on their way over to Iraq. One of them was quiet and not making eye contact with anyone, the other seemed very innocent and young ,and was talking to anyone who would make eye contact with him. I listened to him answer a young girls questions and thought that he was very polite and decent to her.

As he spoke I noticed a patch that was attached to his sleeve with Velcro. I looked around and the other soldiers had the Velcro loop side on their uniforms but no patch. This young man was fidgety and polite, he had on thick black glasses, and on his sleeve a patch that said, in big block letters, O POS. The harsh reality that this patch represented was depressing to me, and, as the emotion welled up inside of me, I felt like giving him a hug. This could easily be my son talking to the young girl on the train. I suddenly realized that I don't know my sons blood type. I wondered if this young man's family knew his.

When my son was in high school his school paper ran an article about the gulf war and that it was a war for oil. At the time it seemed naive and inaccurate because I remembered the feelings that I had experienced as the planes disappeared into the world trade centers, and I knew that this war was about more than oil. All these years later, whatever it was about has long since ceased to be why we are still there.

My nephew was in Iraq for a year, and for the last couple months that he was over there I regularly had dreams that I was with him lying face down on a rooftop that was covered in broken glass, as gunfire erupted around us. I wonder if he wore the same patch on his sleeve.

As I sit here I realize that I don't even know my own blood type. I used to ; it was on my military I.D. It never occurred to me why it was there.

Peace and decency in the world.
It's only six words, how can it be too much to ask?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Say what?

If you have ever looked only at someones mouth while they spoke, and watched their teeth, lips, and tongue work together to form words, you had to ask "How is that even possible?" If you remove any piece from the mechanism, speech becomes incoherent. Add to this the need for vocal cords with air moving past them, and the mystery grows. At this point, you have to consider that you also need the ability to generate the thoughts and form the sentences which the noises create. So many parts of such a basic human function.

One small piece of being human, a non-essential piece really, is so complicated that the great minds of the world can only concede that it really doesn't seem possible.

If you add a beard and mustache around the mouth it becomes even more bizarre; I can't explain this phenomenon.

It's almost as if the teeth have a mind of their own and are running the whole show. Usually the teeth are slightly off center in the mouth. This can become a distraction as thoughts turn to Tom Cruise, who clearly has some teeth/mouth centering issues. None of this matters though, when you consider his artistically superior roles in movies like...okay, there's only one: "Vanilla Sky."
Usually his movies focus on that key shot of his smile for their success, movies like:
Top Gun
A few good men
Risky Business
Rumble fish (was he in that?)
Jerry Maguire (You had me at $8.75 for the ticket)
Pee Wee's Big Adventure (or was that Paul Reuben)

The smile must be given it's due, it has an important place in the history of Hollywood. However, the point was that it is only a distraction from the miracle of speech, and that the teeth seem to be in charge. I think this is only an illusion because they are hard and smooth. I believe the lips to be the mastermind behind the mystery.

As another side note, you may notice that as we age the lips seem less pliable. The whole upper lip starts moving as one piece instead of like a sign wave. Remember the Peanuts characters and the squiggly line their mouths could form; they were young.

Next time someone talks to you, do as I have suggested and see if you don't agree that it doesn't seem possible. It's worth acknowledging.

Good bye

Friday, January 11, 2008


This morning the world briefly stopped turning. It happened so abruptly that, much like an etch-a-sketch, we were all rearranged, and what we had known was erased.

I ended up in Ethiopia, where all true runners belong. I stopped by Haile Gebrselassie's house and we went for an easy 10 miler. He's getting older so I went easier than I felt like going. I congratulated him on his recent marathon world record; he said that he wished it had been me. That makes two of us. He never complains much, but today he mentioned that his new shoes were not working out too well; it seems that someone "tweaked" the design just a bit and, though the name was the same, the shoe was not.

I consoled him and slowly the conversation turned to music. We both like Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, but not Brittany Spears so much. We agreed that Christina Aguilerra is hot, and, after humming a few bars of "The Edmund fitzgerald", agreed that Gordon Lightfoot was awesome.

After the run we were on the way to Dairy Queen when the world suddenly stopped spinning again, and everything was rearranged as it had been before.

I was back in the rut I've come to call "God is punishing me for lots of stuff right now." I struggled through an "easy" 8 miler; those hills always seem so gradual in a car. I saw a runner disappearing into the distance ahead of me. With a few quick mathematical computations I decided that they were running roughly twice as fast as I was...maybe it was Haile.

I had to stop to retie my right shoe; it just never seems to fit right with this years version of my favorite shoe.

"With a load of iron ore 26,000 tons more than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty..." What a great song.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

My Daughter

Sometimes there are no words to describe something accurately. Sometimes the whole is so complex that there is no way to encompass it all with words. I am sitting here looking at the other item that is prominently displayed on my desk. It is a framed paragraph that my daughter wrote as a sophomore in high school. I am the subject of it, and it details why I am the person she admires most. The idea that I could be that to anyone is special, but being that to my daughter is moving beyond words. I am not sure I deserved that.

As parents we do the best we can, as our parents did, but we are usually not able to handle everything the way we wish we could. I guess that being able to look back and see the best parts of what was intended, and to understand that if we could have done better we would have, is the best we can hope for. Sometimes looking back is the only way to appreciate things for what they were in reality, and not what they felt like they were amidst the struggles of daily life.

A long slow breath of life and of living,
Agonizingly slow moments of pain and loss and love and hope,
Compressed into the blink of an eye.
Memories vivid and moving, aged to perfection;
A life better remembered.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008


As unlikely a spot to begin this as my cat's urinating is, that is where this begins. My cat is missing several of what you might call "key" cat components. She can slide off of your lap and land flat on her back on the floor while letting out a helpless little meow. After she uses her litter box she stands outside of the box and reaches for the air, the wall, or anything she thinks may somehow cover her urine. She then puts her nose back in the box to see how she did, and then reaches for more air. I wont even go into how she handles her other bodily function.

While marvelling at her litter box ritual, I moved farther back in my closet so I wouldn't further distract her. This is where I saw my life's collection of writing stacked up on a shelf. I began writing some 23 years ago and still have it all stored away. As I looked through it I came across writing from what my sister calls the dark years. Her dark years were different from mine but the idea is the same. I opened an envelope that said " Please do not open." After reading some of what I had written long ago (not that long ago really) I wished that I had listened, and, after re-closing it, marked it "please do not open, ever...seriously!"

It seems that the recurring theme throughout the years has been poetry. Some insightful and moving, some dreadful. Who's to say which this is...


Someday may never come, As yesterday promised anew.

Someday may have gone, Our tomorrows have become so few.

Someday left us hope, For what today left us to rue.

Someday is a lie, That everyday makes true.

Someday never held, What yesterday thought it may.

Someday disappears, Before tomorrow comes our way.

Someday leaves only hope, And today only dismay.

Someday's only truth, Is that someday is today.


Complete nonsense

Greetings from planet earth. I am currently pioneering new methods to see how high my cholesterol can actually go and still allow me to pump blood through my arteries. I am eating a steak, sandwiched between two large sausage patties as I write this.

I guess worrying about my cholesterol is wearing on me a bit. I actually eat mostly low-fat foods, and not much in the way of animal products. Unfortunately, I could eat dry oats and spring water and my cholesterol would still be too high. In a couple of weeks I will have it retested to see how the vitamins and oils and Crestor have helped.

I sometimes think that The Matrix had it right; hook me up to life support and make me think I'm living the life of my dreams. Unlike Neo, I would never try to escape to fight the system. I would just lay there in my drawer and believe that I was eating fettuccine Alfredo and running a 2 hour and 4 minute marathon, while the gluten paste was fed into me. Sometimes an illusion would be nice, but it would have to be tailored to fit my needs.

In my illusion there could be no:

1. Actors- They think we care what they think about the gulf war or God or who should be president.

2. Realtors- Simply because their presence means I'm moving, there is no moving in my world.

4. Racists - In my illusion we're all just what we think and feel; no appearances to worry about.

5. Shoe companies - Tweaking of my shoes is forbidden.

6. Electronics - No phones or ipods. Stereos are okay if they play "Tchaikovsky at tea time."

7. Blisters, heartburn or unpleasantness of any kind - No unpleasantness in my world.

And, with that, this silliness comes to a screeching halt. I need to administer my doses of fish and flax seed oils and then achieve a Zen like state of peacefulness through total body relaxation and humming.

Until our paths cross again.

Run, always run.

Monday, January 7, 2008


I was up earlier than usual this morning to take my wife to the airport before going to work. After dropping her off I was in a bit of a daze. I was coming off the high of seeing my son last week, combined with the thought of not seeing my wife for two weeks and also the fear that our dog would shred the house while she was alone all day. As I merged with the stream of cars inbound to Atlanta, it occurred to me that we were like ants returning to the nest. In mid ant nest analogy I came to a stop at a red light and prepared to turn right. Directly across from me, preparing to turn left was my carpool. As I looked across the intersection at them, I could visualize myself sitting in the back seat 20 years from now returning to the colony.

All at once I experienced several different things: depression, an epiphany, more depression, mild suffocation...can't breath...must change life...

Green light, and it's off to the hive. After parking I walked through the parking lot and noticed the same people I always see. There is the guy who always wears a short sleeve shirt no matter how cold it is, the guy who is so stern and square jawed that he looks like a rock-em sock-em robot, the guy who has the eternal smile and head nod for everyone, and the guy who sleeps in his car until 3 minutes before six.

We reach the turnstile and swipe our badges as we greet each other; "Good morning Sam," "Good Morning Joe." We enter the building and check our hopes and dreams at the door until the day ends and, if we remember, we pick them up on the way out. I'm sure that many of the people I see on the way in in the morning forgot to pick them up the day before; maybe the year before.

I feel less like an ant on the way home, I think it's because our destinations are all different. I drive into the garage and enter the house to find that nothing is shredded, the dog and cat are both happy to see me, and all of this is possible because of the time I put in as an ant.

It turns out that being an ant pays fairly well.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Please leave my shoes alone

I have four pairs of shoes in the rotation right now. I have long run shoes, two pairs of daily recovery run shoes and a pair of speed work shoes. I am no expert, and probably in need of only one pair for all types of runs, but my over indulgence helps keep the shoe industry alive…I just want to help.

I have five boxes of new shoes in the closet and two nearly worn out pairs of 5k-10mile race shoes. For a recreational runner this seems excessive, even for me. The trouble is that they just won’t leave my shoes alone, and finding a pair that is just right brings out the Goldie Locks in me; I have to get as many as I can (at a great price of course). When my current supplies are gone I have to face the task of finding a replacement again, and we all know that the right shoes, in good repair, are one of the best ways to prevent injury.

The shoe reviews in Running magazines help because they often say things like “If you liked so and so, then you should also like such and such.” That was not an actual quote so I’m not sure that the quotation marks were appropriate.

I tried a running store in Portland OR one time where the guy had us run across their parking lot so he could evaluate our strides. While my daughter’s stride received the evaluation that she was “very neutral and had a beautiful gait,” I received “hmmm,” and “hmmmmm.” Direct quotes all.

Another store, Fit Right Northwest, had me run on a treadmill barefoot while they filmed it. We evaluated my stride in slow motion and decided on the best type of shoe for me. I have since worn a neutral and fairly well cushioned shoe like the 2002 Pegasus, before they messed with it and produced the completely unsatisfactory 2007 Pegasus. I used to find deals online and buy four or five pairs, but they are not so easy to find these days since the shoe is so old. I do support my local running store with some of my purchases because we need them to be there to help out, but I also support Internet sales to keep the prices where they ought to be.

I think that the treadmill evaluation of my stride was the best because it gave me a definite idea of the type of shoe I needed. After that it pretty much takes trying them on to see what fits you the best. And be prepared to stock up if you find a deal on “your” shoe, because next year someone will “tweak” it and you’ll be on the hunt again.

Run, always run.

Tainted youth

My son has been visiting for several days, so my opportunities to write have been limited. The good news is that we seem to be passed the point of his wrestling driving a wedge between us. The bad news is that my picture of him wrestling in the state tournament keeps ending up cast aside on my desk instead of being prominently displayed as I like it to be. He also erased the history on my computer, so I have to actually find my regularly visited sites again. The lessons learned here: make more favorites in case my history disappears, always remember that the computer password is sacred and should never be given out in a moment of weakness, and maybe there is still a little lingering anger that was aroused by the picture of him that I keep in the center of my desk. Of course, there is always the chance that he was surfing a little porn and was only covering his tracks; this option makes the third lesson inaccurate.
Would I prefer to think that he is still upset with me or that he was surfing the porn...?
I hope he didn't register me on any adult sites.
I'm so relieved that we're passed the wrestling issue.

Seeing him again reminds me of how tough it can be to grow up when so many of life's lessons are about dealing with some form of loss. I hear his passion for things and realize that somewhere along the line we tend to lose much of that; so many of us end up with our heads down simply plodding ahead.

We have to keep a list of new goals, things that are difficult to achieve and some that may be unattainable, just to keep that passion alive. The best times lay ahead, they are just not simply about only us. As we grow and compromise, others are always part of our dreams just as we are part of theirs. The good times of youth were selfish and incomplete, but the purely good feelings we remember them with can be confusing.

So, I bid you adieu and leave this simple poem as an offering of little more than what it was intended to be, and perhaps a little less.

Yesterday so long ago
Its secrets linger far below
The shifting sands we've come to know
Rearranged in times relentless flow

The sweetness of a memory
Not tainted by reality
Young, then gone will always be
Much grander than the lives we lead

The love we lost before it grew
To know the tests that make love true
Lay still; forever measured to...
What chance the love that waits for you.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Pig Rock

As I ran past Pig Rock (PR) yesterday I found myself reflecting on the wisdom it had to offer.

PR sticks up out up out of a grass field in front of a church and looks like a large pig laying on it's right side. In the early morning darkness the rock is lit up on one side from the lights of the church. Pig Rock Church (PRC) is quiet at this hour; this has no relevance to anything and was added only to pad the artistic impression of this piece.

Pig rock is not a named landmark and the good folks in PRC may well be offended to know that this is the name I have given it. If I can figure out how to attach a photo to this, then the name will become permanent for all who read it. Unless you see things the way my wife does and then it becomes hippo rock, or , as my niece sees it, alligator rock.

When I first showed PR to my wife in the light of day, she immediately said that it looked like a hippo. When I run by it now, I alternately see a pig or a hippo.

When I asked my niece what she saw, she looked up, and kept looking at it as we drove past and then said it looked like an alligator. Running in the dark I had never seen the back side illuminated, and when I turned to look at it as we went by I surely saw the alligator too.

Saying Pig Rock and Pig Rock church makes me smile, so, as president of the run route naming committee, Pig Rock it is. There is no denying that if someone else had named it first, than there are possibilities that have probably not occurred to me yet that would seem appropriate.

The same thing seen through different eyes has a multitude of interpretations.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2008 Will be great

2008 Will Be Great

That is actually my wife's slogan for the New Year. The idea is that after the stress of the last couple of years, this one has to be better. It's like flipping a coin; each year has a 50/50 shot at being crappy, but the odds of crappiness go way down when you're trying for the third consecutive year.

I started the new year off with a handful of gel caps and crestor designed to lower my cholesterol. Chased down with a Vita-mixed fruit and cabbage concoction (designed to ward off cancer) were many representatives from the alphabet as well as oils of both: flax seed and salmon. Armed with my guide, "The new 8 - week cholesterol cure" by Robert E. Kowalski, I intend to eventually "achieve optimum cholesterol levels without prescription drugs."

I am also savoring a venti Sumatra from Starbucks, which is so enjoyable to me that it must be leaching the life from me in some way that I just don't understand yet. It sounds like whining, but if we examine the enjoyment/harm ratio of the good things in life we quickly see that enjoyment = bad. Lets just name a few of the good things that were once not understood to be harmful:

1. Triple chocolate cake with fudge frosting and French vanilla ice cream.

2. Tobacco (along with the opium poppy, the financial basis of world economics at one time)

3. Pre and post dinner drinks, when preceded by the late afternoon cocktails and followed by the night cap. (Of course if one can eliminate three of the four pieces, this cruel puzzle is rendered harmless)

4. Salt (it's preservation properties protect the food supplies of the world = BAD)

5. Fat (both eating and transporting excessive amounts)

6. Working long hours in a high stress environment while being grossly underpaid.

7. Taking your cell phone on vacation with you ( no matter how benign the commercial makes it seem)

8. French fries, French toast, French Vanilla(previously identified as bad), French roast coffee (but that's just a taste issue that I have), pretty much anything that starts with French.

9. Chitlins (I'm not sure what they are but I do know they are bad)

10. Celery (This is the feel good item of the list, the one thing that allows us to honestly commit to cutting back on)

I'm off to run pig rock route number 1. There is actually no such thing, but the charter for my running club requires me to set out designated routes and name them; I don't know why I ever raised the motion, seconded it and voted all in favor of "aye." I need to recount the votes and see if I actually elected myself president, I seem to be an ineffectual leader.