Sunday, December 31, 2006

I am not a stunt man ...

Now that I know what it is like to roll a car down a ravine I never have to experience that again.

I am not a stunt man.

I may do crazy stuff like parasail, marathon, martial arts, and the like, but I am not a stunt man.

It has been over 23 years since I was involved in an accident. Actually, I should clarify that. It has been over 23 years since I hit anything. Coincidentally, I have had my driver’s license for just over 23 years. I have been bumped into a few times, as in rear ended twice at the same intersection in two weeks in 1999. And, I was the middle car in a three car rear-ender on 99 in 1983 when I was 16, but I will swear until my dying day that I was hit and pushed (when you are 16 they assume you did it and give you the ticket pretty much no matter what). The rear-enders I was in ever really led to any serious bodily harm, so I have been very lucky. I have also always been a pretty careful driver, so that has to do with some of it.

Middle of last week I was driving down this windy road in Brier and saw a car up against a tree in some bushes. This is not the first accident I have seen the aftermath of on that road either. It is a windy, go slow and you’ll be okay, but you need to be careful anyway sort of road. I don’t always take that road, but it is the most convenient route to the park and ride.

So, Friday morning I take the windy road. I am in good shape on time to catch my bus. I had noticed the roads had a lot of frost. There wasn’t much traffic given the holidays. As I started down the road I came upon the site of the previously mentioned accident and noted that the area was sanded. Still, I slowed down. I came down to the bottom curve and slowed down to turn and everything was fine. However, as I came out of the turn I felt the vehicle give a little slide. It was too late immediately. The vehicle spun. I admit I was much more concerned about oncoming traffic in the first instant than anything else. Then I saw the hillside. I could not have been going more than 10-15 miles per hour, but with that patch of frost/ice it really didn’t matter, that was too fast. I saw the drop off and can picture the image, it was a long way down. I braced myself for the airbags. I remember my head hitting the roof and my neck cracking 5 times. I remember the jerking motion and the lurch to a stop.

I resisted getting a cell phone for several years. I am glad I have one now. I called for help. I called my folks. I called work. I was lucky.

But, I was more lucky for other reasons. It appears I traveled a good 35 feet. The van landed on its wheels. The van landed in a huge blackberry bush. The structural damages do not appear to be severe; I do need a new driver’s side mirror, and I will need to do some work on the roof. I walked away.

My dad got there. The police responded, although they drove past once not seeing me down the ravine (the responding officer said it just looked like a parked car on the side of the driveway). The wrecker winched out the van and it appeared it had a chance to still be drivable. Unfortunately, the oil pan was damaged and so the oil was leaking. The oil pan is a solvable problem. It appears I will be still driving the minivan when I get it back later in the week. The front end never hit anything so the airbag never deployed. No other fluids were leaking. The seatbelt held (the officer said he knew I had been wearing it since my left shoulder hurt). No wheels blew out. No axles seem to be broken. The kids weren’t in the car. Dasher was at my folks and not in the back. My father was able to come to the scene as it was close to my folks’ house and my father’s work. The vehicle was not additionally damaged by the winching. I missed the tree in front of me by maybe a foot or two. I landed upright. I did not hit any oncoming traffic. No one else got hurt.

(I went back to the scene the next afternoon to take pictures and show my mother where it happened. It was a farther drop than I remembered. I had hoped it would seem like less and not like more.)

I was able to unbuckle, open my own door, and walk away.

I have always said you have to shoot and kill a Toyota. Case closed.

While we were getting the police report written there were a number of people who almost joined me down the ravine. The officer set some flares and it slowed some people down, but they were still sliding while going slow. I got to watch them sand the road while they towed the van away.

6 degrees of Jefferson ...

I have spent some time on The Internets recently looking up old friends. I have found a few on Myspace and through Google and reunion websites; a few I have contacted, others I have not.

There are all sorts of theories on degrees of separation that I will not go into now. Suffice it to say it was very interesting the other night when I discovered that one of the girls I briefly dated while a sophomore in high school had not only dated a good friend of mine, but married him and they had a child together. I had no idea until we were joking around about some stuff. Since he had always referred to her as his son’s mom and never by name, and there aren’t any pictures of them together sitting out, and since I have never been around when there was a drop off or pick up, it just had never come up in conversation until he mentioned her by name. I mentioned I used to date a girl in that town by that name. He said her maiden name. I dropped my pen. There is no real way of me reasonably contacting her to see how things are going now, so she will have to remain in the found out about but did not contact column of the ledger.

Old friends and people that fall out of our lives never change. We remember them in time and space. Seeing them again can be bittersweet and disconcerting as they make such a rapid age change when they reappear.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Top Ten things I learned in 2006 ...

The Top Ten things I learned in 2006 ...

This list is in lieu of a Christmas / Holiday / New Year’s letter ... I thought about writing a lengthy diatribe about the trials and tribulations of my life this year, about going back to the pathetic politics of the teaching profession after leaving the petty politics of the corporate world, but decided not to for whatever reason ... I decided not to write about how it was a painful year to watch the World Cup and Apple Cup ... I certainly am not going to discuss how I found myself dancing so much that I decided to cut back because it didn't seem worth the drive sometimes ... and I am not going to mail it out with the cards I mailed out weeks ago ... I decided to utilize the blog and narrow the year down to a focus of ten important things and some predictions for 2k7 ... but the predictions seemed lame ...


2006 in a nutshell - The order is random ...

10 – The dynamic force of an eight player soccer team of seven year old girls could power the region and free us from oil dependence ...

9 – If you are single and decide not to date for a while, ALL of your friends will seem to take it upon themselves to try and “help” ...

8 – There is power in shredding ...

7 – The entire Puget Sound region can seem small and claustrophobic when you do not travel farther than Tacoma for two years ...

6 – Liverpool and the Sounders are better cup clubs than league clubs and that is okay ...

5 – Ozzfest is still worth attending ...

4 – Writing and publishing, even self-publishing in blog form, is worth doing because the only way to be a writer is to write ...

3 – It was a bad summer movie season ...

2 – You have to “man up” and just drive the minivan ...

1 – Bricks are breakable ...

Monday, December 18, 2006

College Bowl Bet 2K6 versus The Ron

College Bowl Bet 2K6 versus The Ron

For many years now, my brother and I have been betting on college football bowl games. In and of itself this is hardly noteworthy, but we have our own little betting system. See, we both love college bowl games, but we don’t always have someone to root for. And, since betting game by game is really pathetic when you don’t get to see a lot of the games played it made more sense one year to start doing what we do – which is to just bet on the whole slate for a single prize. We don’t make this prize something expensive, which I think makes it ultimately more satisfying. Some years it has been a coffee, biscotti, and newspaper, while other years it has been things like movie tickets. We have rules like since some years there are even number games we have a tie-breaker of a particular bowl being worth two. Ron never has to pick Notre Dame (a long story and not mine to tell). I never have to pick the Dawgs and always get the Cougs when they are in a bowl (this year the Cougs hosed themselves by dropping to 6-6 losing their last three so I didn’t have to worry). We pick fairly randomly. Last year he won, as he tends to more often than not, and I had to take him to the Lynnwood Hooters and treat for hot wings (which meant I had to go to the now closed bird watching establishment and order myself some too, I miss that place and I found out this summer it was closed the same day I found out the Sonics are moving to Oklahoma City – it is a push as to which made me more angry and sad).

The bowl season starts tomorrow. I suddenly find myself a TCU fan … (and soon I will be a Middle Tennessee and Western Michigan)

The Brick

The Brick

Back in the fifth grade over winter break my brother and some cousins and I were playing football in the back yard of our house. We were all in the middle school age of fifth through eighth grade and were boys, which meant that we were all hot heads. Well, I remember it was cold and we had been playing for a while when the ball went over the fence into one of our neighbors’ yards, as it was wont to do.

It wasn’t my turn to go and get it - I will swear that until the day I die. My brother refused to go and get it.

Well, you know how it is in any relationship, it isn’t really the little thing itself that two people are arguing about or fighting over? Other things have happened and things just build up until some petty little thing sets one or both people off. Well, that set me off. We started into it. I went after him. We went into the house. I went after him. I kept after him as we went down the hall past my room toward his when he stopped and turned and I let fly with a roundhouse. He ducked and I hit the wall. I apparently hit the wall dang hard. I can remember this really sharp pain.

I went down and stayed down.

Mom wasn’t home. But, she was coming home soon and it was clear that I wasn’t just in pain, I was really, really hurt. We were all more scared of getting in trouble for me getting hurt than we were about the injury itself. To this day my right thumb is offset, as when it was set in the cast the next day it was not set correctly. Never mind that having it injured in that way forced me to learn to do many things left handed, which has helped me throughout life.

On Saturday December 16 when I broke the brick at Seattle Tae Kwon Do during my Black Belt Exam I thought back on that incident as I willingly sent my right fist into the brick. See, I also fractured my right wrist twice as well, my freshman and junior seasons playing goalkeeper for Washington State.

My hand did not break this time ... the brick did though.

Yes, my right hand is bruised and a bit swollen.

When later that evening a lot of the parents asked me if it had hurt I simply decided to tell the truth.

Yes, it hurts when you break a brick with your fist. It is still a brick after all.

But, I would add, it was well worth it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Black Belt Exam Essay

As a part of my Tae Kwon Do Black Belt Exam I was required to write a five page essay on the following questions. The test is December 15 and 16 at Seattle Tae Kwon Do. I have decided to post my essay here.

What are my short and long-term goals in Tae Kwon Do? And, What are my Actions Steps toward achieving them?

By Jeffrey Lageson

My entire Black Belt experience was kind of an accident. My son Jacob had been talking about taking a martial art for some time when we found ourselves with a Richards’ Tae Kwon Do “Gold Card” that we won through a King’s Elementary School fundraising auction. It was originally really going to be just about him, but since I had the opportunity to try it out too, and he asked if it could be a father and son thing, it was the proverbial no-lose situation for me. I decided to give it a chance and take the first steps with him, even if I did not know what to expect.

I have always been in competitive athletics; playing soccer in college, running marathons and triathlons, and trying my hand at everything from football to wrestling while in school. I even spent several years on bowling teams. Somehow in there, martial arts had never found its way in. Opportunities to take Karate in college notwithstanding, it simply had not worked its way to the front burner, while fencing lessons and basic ballet had (Beginning Ballet is a single credit PE class at Washington State and since I was a goalkeeper for WSU it seemed like a good idea at the time; and the “A” I earned is a part of my permanent college transcripts and GPA).

I have to admit I was very wary of starting something like Tae Kwon Do for a couple of reasons. First, if I am into something I know that I will go into it until I have accomplished something. I am what they call goal-oriented. If not interested, I will dabble, set it aside, and consider it a lesson learned and a box checked off on the “to do list” of life.

After a couple of classes a funny thing happened, I felt better. My back felt better. My thumb was turning out to be able to handle the stress. I had needed surgery to have my left thumb screwed back together with titanium that is permanently in place less than two years earlier. I was looking forward to class, not just to have a father and son thing to do with Jacob, but also for me.

I am fortunate that Tae Kwon Do has had a duality for me; that of a father and son activity and something that is also personally satisfying and something I can take pride in for myself.
The whole experience has somehow managed to be a floating short and long-term goal. Each belt has proven to be a short-term goal with the big picture goal being the black belt that will be waiting for me to hammer fist through a stack of boards to grab on December 16. Suddenly, the long-term goal has become the short-term goal. But, I do not intend to stop right here and right now, even though I also do not know how far I can and will go in Tae Kwon Do. Part of it is physical. Even though I feel better, I have unfortunately broken, torn, and separated enough bones, joints, and muscles that at times it is a real struggle.

What I do know is that I will continue to take color belt tests in Thai Kickboxing as well. The opportunity to achieve a black belt in separate martial arts is very tempting to me on admittedly aesthetic grounds. The opportunity to promote in black belt into international and higher ranks strikes me as worthwhile as well. Many factors will go into the decisions I make. However, there is also plenty of time for me to make decisions, train and grow. Much like the marathon has become a way of life in how I take care of my diet and exercise throughout the year, Tae Kwon Do will be a part of what I do in various capacities as long as I am physically able to do it. I have added a heavy bag to my carport to give me a private training area and have purchased other equipment to assist me in private training.

The three years I have been training have been physically and personally challenging for me. Tae Kwon Do has provided much needed continuity in various transitions that have taken place.
When I had the surgery on my torn abdominal muscles in May of 2005, coming to class to stretch and work my hand techniques and forms got my strength and mobility back much faster than the surgeon had expected. I found myself back sparring again much sooner than I had hoped. The first time I felt contact to my midsection in sparring was a much need jolt and simultaneously a boost of confidence in my ability to get through the physical rigors of black belt preparation. Even if, in retrospect, eight days after surgery to return to class to do the aforementioned stretching was a bit quick, I knew I had the opportunity to use aspects of Tae Kwon Do in conjunction with other physical therapy to bounce back so long as I was careful. The surgeon was pleased with how I went about this as inactivity would have been far worse for me than almost anything else as it would create much more muscle atrophy and therefore a longer rehabilitation period. I tested for my Brown Belt on time as a result of focusing on forms.

The previous example is included here more to show the use of floating short and long-term goals in conjunction with the long-term black belt goal discussed earlier. It would have been easy for me to stop there and use the injury as an excuse to stop training and move on to something else, but having the short and long-term goals has proven to work for me. I cannot even begin to describe how banged up I feel at times. Yet, in fact I feel so much stronger than I did three years ago.

It was necessary for me to also find a way to keep Tae Kwon Do fun for me. At the time of my first classes my hair was much longer than it is now and I found it was falling in my face. It became necessary to take care of this problem in the short-term by wearing a bandana. I grabbed a white bandana to match the uniform and belt and went about wearing it. At the time of the first test I decided to purchase a yellow bandana and brought it along with me. By the time of the Orange Belt I had cut my hair, but decided to keep getting matching bandanas. It became expected that I would have and wear the matching colored bandanas. I have continued that “tradition” throughout the process and in Thai Kickboxing. I also procured a brand new black bandana that I have had pinned to the wall in my apartment for some time, which is not to be worn until after I have achieved the Black Belt. I look forward to unfolding it and wearing it for the first time on December 16.

After the first year of Tae Kwon Do training I set a personal record at the Seattle Marathon . I was a full twenty-eight minutes faster than I was six years earlier, which also means I had been six years younger. The upper body strength I gained from Tae Kwon Do assisted my posture and form as I ran through some of the more difficult parts of the course. My overall physical improvement also can be credited with how quickly I bounced back after the race.
The build up to the Black Belt Test has been more stressful for me than I would generally care to admit. I have tested for and passed all of the previous forms and questions so the review of material should not have provided me with as much work as I had expected. Of course, a case can simply be made that it has been a lot of work because there is so much to cover, but that is a bit beside the point to me. The point to me is that I have already been tested on this material so that it should be a review.

What it comes down to is that it is simply not enough to go through the motions. I do not want to simply get by or survive the test. I want to actually feel the energy of the form as I perform it at testing time. I want it to be something that I remember fondly, so I have had to set aside the stress of simply “finishing” in order to focus on the most important thing, which is “thriving”. The obstacle for me in forms testing is that I get claustrophobic with so many students so close that I have to be mentally tough enough to block out what my peripheral vision is picking up to maintain my own form.

I never expected to look in the mirror and see a Black Belt staring back at me. When I began this I have to admit I assumed that I would begin it with Jacob, but that I would end up watching him finish. I have had the opportunity to find things out about myself during this process. I have also been able to grow with my son. The value of the Black Belt is not in the object of the belt itself or the certificate. The value of this has been in showing my children the importance of goal-setting, follow through, commitment, and perseverance. I have to admit that it is personally satisfying to witness the reactions of my friends and family to the black belt.

In the end, my short-term goal is what was once the long-term goal, that of the black belt. The long-term goal is now incorporating what I have learned from this experience into other areas of my life. It was what is often referred to in the sciences as a “happy accident”. If only I could have more of those.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

You only really had one job, Sunil ...

You only really had one job, Sunil ...

There is this scene in the movie "A History of Violence" where William Hurt basically got the Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for how he handled his body language and facial expressions while delivering this line:

[after his men fail to kill Tom] Richie Cusack: "How do you #*(% that up?"

Sunil, the US Soccer community and many around the world are wondering that right now.

Bradley himself is not a bad choice per se. He's a solid coach with a winning track record and maybe it will work out like Lorenzo Romar has worked out for hoops at the UW. (He was the third or fourth choice after the UW was snubbed a couple times by big names fans really wanted, now he's everyone's favorite coach. Granted, I am a Coug, but it is a good example.) It is just not who we were looking for when the obvious choice was available. If it was Bradley as a possible interim then we should have played friendly matches in November with him.

Sunil, you really screwed up.Yes, we got what can be considered to be a good coach, but you really, really, really screwed this up. It really, was the only job you had when you became US Soccer chief.

There was this quote on Yahoo! from Sunil:

"It wasn't about control issues and sponsors. It wasn't about the number of Euros."

As my buddy Tim wrote to me via email, "OK, fool, then just what was the dispute about?"

I joked that I think it was that JK wanted to continue to live in California and Sunil wanted him to commute from Germany to try and recreate the magic ...

I would rather think it was something like that than to think US Soccer could be half as incompetent as this makes them appear to be.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Get over the BCS, it is staying ...

Get over it.

I have argued this ad nauseum for years with fellow friends who are college football fans. The BCS ain't going away any time soon.

Everybody knows it has flaws.

Every year there are cries from national media that it is "broken beyond repair" and that "this is the year we can finally do something about it". And, well, yes ... it is not a great system. But, no, ... there is nothing that can be done about it.

Would a playoff be cool? Probably. But, those who argue for such a thing continue to forget just how college sports is actually run and they also forget that for all of its coverage and hype, college football remains a conference sport. Very few games are played on what is truly a national scale in college football other than a handful of carefully chosen matchups.

Without the BCS, it would be Ohio State versus USC in the Rose Bowl. Michigan would be jumping around trying to get the Orange Bowl berth against what would be Oklahoma, or the Sugar Bowl berth against Florida, in order to avoid the Holiday Bowl.

The people in places of power cannot and will not be able to agree on anything to replace the BCS any time soon. Just think about how long it took to get from the previous bowl system to this one. There are so many competing interests at stake that abandoning a system that keeps everyone financially secure to create one game just is not going to be something that happens easily.

Get over the BCS, it is staying right where it is ....

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Pet Peeve

A Pet Peeve ...

Money spent is money gone.

Okay, so I am listening to the radio the other morning and BJ is whining about not getting much money on a trade in for a used IPod when going to buy a new one. Although I can sympathize with him in principle, it simply is just too bad.When a person buys a gadget or a toy or whatever, it is money spent and money gone. If by some stroke of luck there is a chance to recoup the money in some way later that is simply a bonus.

When a new version or a new gadget comes out there is no reason on earth for anyone to ever expect to get any money back when they get the new items for a couple of simple reasons. First, the new item makes their old item out of date. Second, the item is used and therefore worth a lot less than it would be to anyone else, no matter how well it has been taken care of. It is cool that there is a secondary market for many electronic gizmos, but to expect anything more than a fraction of what one paid is just not paying attention to reality. A used, previous model item is only ever going to be worth a fraction of what a new one will be. And, since the retailer needs to make something in the turnaround the amount paid for the used item will only be a fraction of secondary retail.

If a person buys something, uses it, and enjoys it, they got their value out of their item. Yes, the new item costs more money, but you didn't invest in it in the first place.

Several years ago I had to pack and move and eventually go through a lot of junk from relatives that held onto everything because it might be worth something. If they had just sold or gotten rid of things as they used them, that process would not have been nearly as cumbersome as it was.

Additionally, I dealt with something similar with this with autos when I was in insurance claims, which is a whole ‘nother can of worms. Used stuff just is not worth what the owner ever thinks it is.

I don't have a lot of money so I am very careful about buying gadgets and gizmos. I might be inclined to buy a used, previous model. But, I am not going to pay top dollar for it. So, stop your whining, if you enjoyed the gizmo, you got your money's worth.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

For Ryan ...

For Ryan ...

Okay, back when I first signed up for - and then did nothing with - this blog I was working swing and graveyard for a large insurance company. I enjoyed the company of my fellow night owl CSR's and the conversations we would have. One night while discussing the various rambling topics we would discuss somehow the subject of Canada breaking into more than one nation came up. I remarked that I believed that it was inevitable. Sorry to my Canadian friends, but I believe that the Quebec issue will simply one day cause Quebec to leave Canada and become a separate nation.

Recently, I read a news article on Ted Turner's former news organization's web site about the Prime Minister of Canada referring to Quebec in the following manner:

"Do Quebecers form a nation within a united Canada? The answer is yes," Harper on Wednesday told a cheering House of Commons to numerous standing ovations. "Do Quebecers form an independent nation? The answer is no -- and it will always be no."

(Excerpt from - - is a link to the article for attribution)

The issue of Quebec did not end with the failed secession vote a few years back. It is one of those things that seems to just keep inching forward. Despite English-speaking Canadians efforts to make Canada bilingual the notion of Quebec forming a separate nation just keeps edging closer. Bear in mind that only a few years ago (1995) Quebecers narrowly defeated (0.58% "No" to 49.42% "Yes") the secession measure. To vote for secession is a very drastic measure. How many of those who did not vote for secession then would give it another thought now? I cannot imagine that a sizable percentage of those who voted to remain in Canada did not vote for secession out of a love for Canada but for reasons that are negotiable.

It is simply a gut feeling, but I cannot see how a narrowly defeated measure should give comfort to Canadians wishing to keep Quebec as a part of a unified Canada.

In fact, given how many people were willing to actually vote to secede, I am shocked that a large part of Canada hasn't told Quebec to "Piss Off!"

I want to say that our discussion then centered over what the rest of Canada would then do. I think it would open up a whole can of worms leading to not only two nations, but possibly more splitting up with Ontario, the Western Provinces, or the Maritime region all considering forming separate smaller nations.

Time will tell.

Top Ten Songs of 2006 (at least I think so) ...

2006 Top Ten Lists ...

A Top Ten List of movies would be pretty easy, since that would just be the movies I went to that I liked.

A Top Ten List of CD’s would be hard, because I would need to listen to entire CD’s and I don’t get that many.

A Top Ten List of songs ... I can do. There are times when I miss working for music magazines, where I can indulge myself like this in print. In honor of the memory of my long-haired rock journalist days, I offer up this bit of self-indulgent fluff.

See, this year there were a number of releases from artists that I really like. But, I am sticking to songs that were released in 2006. Songs released in 2005 that I liked in 2006 don’t count for the purposes of this list. As a result, Disturbed and Paradise Lost don’t qualify. There are good songs on many releases this year from artists I like that don’t make this list for various reasons having to do with having been good overall CD’s without a standout song or that the songs just weren’t as good as older songs. It happens.

10 – “Come Clarity” – In Flames – (Come Clarity)

9 – “Ignition” – Trivium – (The Crusade)

8 – “Shine Down” – Godsmack – (Godsmack IV)

7 – “The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg” – Iron Maiden – (A Matter of Life and Death)

6 – “Goodbye” – Army of Anyone – (Army of Anyone)

5 – “Wicked, Ornry, Mean, and Nasty” – Knut Bell – (Wicked, Ornry, Mean, and Nasty)

4 – “I’m American” – Queensryche – (Operation: Mindcrime II)

3 – “4,500 Saturdays” – Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers – (North of Bakersfield)

2 – “Our Truth” – Lacuna Coil – (Karmacode)

1 – “Through Glass” – Stone Sour – (Come What(ever) May)

This list is pretty much my normal rock fan coming out, but there are a couple of numbers from Seattle artists I go swing dancing to an awful lot. The list excludes songs released in 2006 from U2, Aerosmith, The Swains, Jet, Killswitch Engage, Def Leppard, Johnny Cash, Black Label Society, Unearth, The Haunted, The Killers, Chris Cornell, Pearl Jam, Audioslave, Shadows Fall, Slayer, and Evanescence - among others - that if I expanded the list to a Top Twenty or a Top Forty would have made it.

Monday, November 27, 2006

God Bless Glucosamine!

“Bethany is 23 minutes ahead of you.”

I looked out the window a little after 6AM on Sunday, which is really something to stay up for and not something to get up for all things considered, and thought it was foggy ... nope ... it was snowing. In and of itself that is somewhat noteworthy for November in the Puget Sound region, but this was Seattle Marathon Sunday and I need to get up, get ready, get downtown, and run 26.2 miles in what looked to be completely unreasonable conditions. Not being one to panic much I turned on the TV and looked for the morning news weather report, and thanks to Team Coverage or something I get that it was not yet snowing in Seattle proper, just in the North and up in the pass ... okay then. I got my parking spot and headed to the EMP to begin. Now, there are thousands of people at this thing and not all of them are runners, so it can make it tough to find someone, anyone, let alone doing it in a timely manner. I found Bethany and Marie right a way, actually, they found me as I blindly walked by. Shortly thereafter, we were off and running.

Only a handful of miles in and there was Tim, high five, in his customary spot on the bridge. As I crossed the bridge a couple things occurred to me. First, that it was not looking like it was going to warm up. Second, Hey there’s Bethany and a few steps later a high five to Marie, too. I was feeling relatively comfortable with my pace when as I get back across the bridge to head to Seward Park I see Tim again. “Bethany is 23 minutes ahead of you.” He says.

What?! That is not motivating. Maybe if my hamstrings were 25 ...

So, I brush him off with a witty retort, “What?!” I say, and keep going.

One of the nice things about the Seattle Marathon course for us in the back of the bus is that we get to see the leaders twice; once on the bridge at the first double back, and a second time as they are heading back after already going around Seward Park. So, knowing that she/they are at least 23 minutes ahead and probably gaining given how brisk and fresh they looked on the bridge and there one of them was right on time just before I got to the park entrance.

“Hey, we going dancing tonight?” I scream.

“Yeah, baby!” I hear.

“See ya at nine!”

Unfortunately, due to the snow I was unable to get to the Hen that night, which sucked because there was a birthday party and people in from out of town. I would have been wobbly, but I would have at least been able to dance a bit. My toe even felt okay.

I did see Tim a couple more times. At the top of East Madison we had a short discussion about how he needed to get back to his place to pack and move and how I would have liked to help, but was kind of busy at the moment. Of course, he was there at the end. Thanks, bud.

There are some odd sights along the way. For instance, how does a golf ball end up on the I-90 express lanes? Kind of makes you want to drive with your windows rolled up if people are taking out there pitching wedge nearby. Around mile 23 there are usually donuts, but they were out. So, instead I grabbed a couple pretzels. Not the same, but at that point I was too tired to complain much.

In the end, I ended up running a fairly typical race, with the brutal downhill at the end down Republican Street being far worse than the hill going up East Madison between mile 20 and 21. For those who do not distance run, it seems to come to them as a surprise that the downhill at that point is actually harder, the quads are so fried it is like a jolt every step. I only recall two real lulls this year, as opposed to the normal three. The wet and cold conditions added a good twenty minutes to the race for me, so when I entered Memorial Stadium and crossed the line at exactly 5:34:01 I know it would have been earlier. So be it. I don’t race against the clock. The marathon is a lifestyle choice I have made. For the ninth year I have entered and finished and been healthy, I cannot ask for more. Now, I get my one week of guilt free eating I give myself every year.

Of course, I treated myself to a beignet in the Center House and then trudged back in the icy cold to my van for some warm clothes.

God Bless Glucosamine!


Seattle Marathon Official Times

1998 5:19:54
1999 4:59:53
2000 5:04:04
2001 5:38:04
2002 5:35:22
2003 5:22:00
2004 4:50:33
2005 6:04:42
2006 5:34:03

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Before there were blogs ...

I have had the good fortune of having had various forums in which to publish my little stories ... this is the sort of thing that I would blog now.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Funny Subbing Stories

Funny Subbing Stories

This year I walked away from the safe corporate job and all of the bells and whistles of things like health insurance, paid vacations, sick leave, job security, and good pay, to return to the teaching profession. I am a substitute teacher. It can be a job that has horrifically boring moments, days, and weeks. It can be a job that has horrible experiences. But, subbing also has some amazing moments.

This is what I tell classes. “I expect to be treated with the same measure of respect that you would treat any sub with.” Every so often one of the students will raise a hand and say something along the lines of the following, “Um, we don’t treat subs with respect,” or “Um, what?” It is true. I don’t expect anything when I sub. I could care less if the kids have a good or bad relationship with their teacher or if they have reputations, as long as for the hour or so that I am running things we all get along and get through, then I have done my job.

It is still odd to me that students would ask regularly to call me "Mr. L". Almost every class asks, but the one time I just said to call me it they looked at me funny. Clearly, it is a matter of context and needs to be "their idea".

I will send out emails to friends that might find the subbing experiences to be funny. The following is a rather large sampling of these emails.

The Crimson Slippers. There is an earlier blog entry about this already. The gist is that I forgot to put on shoes and went to school one day wearing my bright crimson Wazzu bedroom slippers with slacks.

Dodgeball. Remember dodgeball? Divide up the students and let them throw things at each other. The movie a few years ago was hilarious. Well, one day I was letting the kids play the game when a 5th grader came up to me on the side very, very upset. “He threw it hard!” He was practically in tears. I was curious so I called over the other student. After ascertaining the situation it came to me that basically the one upset student reached down for a ball and got pegged in the chest by the other, knocking him out of the game. It was clear the shot was not to the face and not intended to injure. The students were using soft foam balls. “It’s dodgeball!” I said to the one kid and ended up giving the boy who threw it a “good job!”

The simple act of following instructions. I hate repeating myself. I hate explaining simple things more than once. I had an elementary PE class set up in 4 rows, or squads, as they called them. The instructions were simple; the squad leader was to get up and pick up the items in the boxes in front of each row to begin playing a game. That was it. Everything was directly in front of them and all that needed to occur was to have 4 students stand and gather, the rest need only sit and wait. After giving this direction I walked over to the side to grab a clipboard. Upon turning back I realized at least 7 students were up and grabbing things, there were now 6 rows, and one row had not moved at all. I reset them. I raised my voice to point it out. I set them in motion. They got it wrong again. There are days when I want to give students back to their parents and say “start over.”

My black tee shirts and boots and close cropped hair can present a pretty strict image. However, I was not prepared for the morning that a high school girl asked me “Are you a bouncer?” as I stood stern faced and arms crossed in front of a math class. “When I need to be,” I said slowly. To this day I do not know if the girl thought I was joking or not.

Boot questions. I get a lot of questions about my cowboy boots. There are kids that call them “girly boots” or worse and there are ongoing running jokes about the boots at places I regularly sub. This happens in multiple schools. It is always a surprise to me how kids will pick up on one little thing and run with it. On occasion I will refer to them as my dancing boots, but that just creates a whole new serious of questions that aren’t worth the hassle some days.

At the taekwondo dojang I attend there are dozens of kids from various schools in the area, including the schools I sub at. So, it was inevitable that one day I would end up knowing a student from TKD. She looked horrified that I was in the front of the room so I kept it quiet. I didn’t want to embarrass her. She looked very relieved when I said nothing. The second time it happened, she was fine with it, but the first time was very hard for her.

There was this one kid that was living the rocker cliché. He obviously did not want to be there. He was angry at the world. It appeared he hated me, just on general principle. I noticed he was wearing a concert tee of the band Trivium. I liked Trivium at Ozzfest in 2K5. My brother and I have come to the conclusion that their recent record is the best Metallica album in along time. I also do not intentionally try and be cool for the kids, they can see right through it. But … I pointed out that the new Trivium record was going to be worth waiting for. He looked skeptical. He asked me a few questions … I think I am now his favorite teacher in the world, which in the grand scheme of things means …

Teaching 10 Step. For PE one day I brought in some music and decided to teach some dance. The girls mostly liked it, but many of the boys thought I was the devil. However, I also noticed a few of the boys slowly trying, strangely compelled by forces they don’t understand. You could see it on their faces that they couldn’t quite understand why it was important, but since the girls liked it they could not help themselves.

Collective puberty. I was monitoring lunch one day with some 8th graders when I noticed some ankle footsies. The girl had both of her feet wrapped around the ankle of a boy trying desperately to remain calm while also trying to do some math homework. The pencil was tapping like Thumper’s foot. I sent the girl to get something from the office and it was clear that the boy was openly relieved. I needed to cut the kid some slack, he had not been able to answer one problem during the several minutes she was around. Once these were little kids I knew in 3rd grade, now they are hormone driven energy beasts that all have hit puberty at the same time.

Busy work. I know that some teachers hate to leave too much for the sub because they are control freaks. That is fine. But, there are days where it is just babysitting and class monitoring and the kids know it. See my blog on “Predictable Patterns”, AKA the day I was so bored I did the packet of busywork with them. It has actually happened more than once.

This Summer I actually recognized a student at Ozzfest while sitting on the lawn in front of me. I have long maintained that as a sub I am almost invisible in a way. It is possible that a student would not recognize me later in the day in line for food. So, I don’t expect them to remember some guy. Even though I have a ridiculous memory I had to assume that he may not have recognized me were I to say anything, or he might have thought it a bit creepy, so I left it alone.

Most of the time kids are kids. It doesn’t matter if it is private, public, alternative, whatever, some things are always in play. Kids talk more than they should. They ignore instructions from a sub. But, I had a class so quiet I did a head count. As I sat in front of the room I could not hear anything. My hearing might suck, but good lord … it was kind of creepy how quiet that class was.

Some things never change. Kids sit in seats they are not supposed to. I mispronounce names and the kids all giggle. There are problems with roll. I am not left with an adequate lesson plan. It is amazing how there are days when no matter the generation it is clear that kids today are the same as we were, which is scary in an entirely different way.

I leave notes to teachers. All subs leave notes, but some days the notes are better than others. It is rare that I have to bring in the real teacher. Recently, it was students having to face me after screwing up and getting called out by their teacher, who was in the building so I was able to point them out and let him deal with it promptly. Those kids were silent. Another time I had to call in the teacher from inside the building to step into the class and deal with discipline. It was a rough group and they deserved it.

There are no bells at some schools. Although most do have bells, there is a bit of a difference from building to building. I will usually just tell student to wait for the bell, that sort of thing. At this one middle school without bells, I had to really watch the clock and the halls to know when to release them. “As soon as the bell doesn’t ring you can go,” is what I said. Kids don’t listen or react to obviously sarcastic comments like that enough.

There was a middle school science class making rockets out of plastic soda bottles. I actually got to say the line “Today, it is in fact rocket science.” It was funnier in person.

The student raised his hand. I had gone over the assignment but he was having problems with number one so I went over it for him in detail. He nodded, appeared to be listening and at the end of my five minute one on one answer he asked me the following, “But what’s the answer?” I cannot help everyone.

Teachers can develop a twisted sense of humor. There are signs or objects on teachers’ walls and desks and doors that are very dry or sarcastic in their humor. Subject matters include possible aggression against cheating or disruptive behavior. There was an urn on the desk one morning that was labeled as the “ashes are the remains of a student that cheated on a test”. A little test intimidation can go a long way.

I actually threw a crowbar over my shoulder and walked around with it one morning. I cannot explain why there was one in class, but it was kind of fun to carry around. Well, while I explained that they had to be quiet during and after a test one period a couple kids looked nervous while others disputed if it was a real crowbar. So, I dropped it on a desk and ... “Clang!!!” They shut up and were very good after that. I finally admitted it was a joke later.

It is hard not to pick up slang. I try not to. It sounds ridiculous coming from me. But, one day I said “solid” in such a way as the middle schoolers were saying it. I swear to never do that again.

Okay, so one morning my commute was a whole 4 minutes ... by foot ... to theelementary across the street. I had to be there at 8:15AM and left the house at 8:11AM and was on time. I went to the music and looked outside my room for the kids at 8:50AM. No one was there. 8:55AM rolls around for the first group to come in ... and no one is downstairs by the door ... Ilook down the hall, nothing ... go inside, double check my times ... lookoutside the door, nothing ... go back up to wait and a teacher walks in ... “Your class is waiting.” I look outside, nothing, go down the hall and aroundthe corner and these kids are standing in the cold waiting for me ... I hadno idea they were there or to look there ... and we are near the water ... it was cold and damp and windy that morning. Brrrrrrrrrr …

Okay, so I had to deal with an assembly and the moving of a class of 5th graders to and from an assembly. This is actually one of the worst things I have to deal with as a sub. I don’t know where to go. I had a high school class vanish once on the way and I would not have recognized any of them while I was figuring out where to go. Well, the fifth graders were singing in a choir for Veteran's Day and on the stage with the other 5th grade classes and me and the other teachers are just standing on the side while the music teacher and principal handle thing. There is a bee tormenting the group on stage and causing a heck of a disturbance. The principal is telling them to stand still when the bee attacks me. I am very allergic and use my dance moves to get rid of it because I cannot afford to be stung. The principle says I should stand still, but I have only ever been stung when standing still. He stands still, the bee lands on his neck and stings him ... in front of the school after telling everyone to stop squirming ... HA!

I can no longer tell how old these kids are sometimes. There are Teacher’s Aides and there are Teaching Assistants. One is a paid position for people often in their 20’s and just out of college while the other is a half credit for kids to work with teachers instead of taking and actual class or elective. One day this young woman walks in and offers to help with attendance etc … and I swear she is 23 and has good poise for her age. Turns out a few minutes later she is one of the students, an 8th grader that just turned 14 … I get very scared when things like that happen. It is exactly for reasons like this that I sit at the other end of the pool when the high schoolers are swimming in PE. A simple misunderstanding and suddenly a teacher can find himself on the evening news.

The Britney Factor. Kids dress up like celebrities in the styles the celebrities are wearing. It is normal. However, when I was trying to find a cable channel (some classes have cable, I don’t) for a history class to watch a program we passed a music video channel where a 17 year old Britney was shaking it. The boys wanted to stop. I pointed out to them that the girls in the class were the same age and I did not feel comfortable watching it because of that. The girls actually thanked me. That would have been creepy.

I am a soccer fan. And, as some classes have cable I have been able to watch some midweek midday soccer on the TV. Well … one day I realized that the TV was in the corner facing me and not the class so I left it on without the sound, it was about 20 minutes into class when the students noticed that the United States Men’s National Team was on in the corner. And yes, I have also had a class be quiet while watching the last 10 minutes of UEFA Champions League matches in the class right after lunch. And yes, I have been watching tapes of games at lunch and let the kids stay in for lunch and watch with me.

Some of these stories are funnier than others. Some of these stories are funnier in context. Some of them are more noteworthy than funny.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bumbershoot 2K2 got me a thinkin' ...

Bumbershoot 2K2 got me a thinkin’ ...

"I'm singing in the rain, just singing in the rain," is what I wanted to say. Instead, I was singing the chorus to an old favorite by Alice In Chains. The rain was starting to pour down on the crowd. We didn't care, or if we did care it was to like it and not to hate it. It was Labor Day 2002. Seattle Center. Memorial Stadium. Jerry Cantrell was performing a solo set, just months after the tragic death of Layne Staley.

I had to fight to get off work early, even though it was painfully slow, a holiday, and I was working voluntarily. By the time I was finally released to head to the show I had to fight holiday weekend traffic, find parking a ridiculous distance away, and work my way in to the stadium. Seeing Jerry play solo in and of itself was cool, his two solo records are actually quite good. He played some Alice in Chains songs with one of his band members singing some of Layne's portions. But, the crowd ended up singing a good portion of the Chains songs. It was cool, it was cathartic, and it made me feel very old ...

... after all, I could look behind me and see the EMP in the distance. The EMP is pretty cool, and there is a Northwest music wing in the museum which has some really cool stuff from that era.

It had been thirteen years since I had heard that song live the first time.

The signs promoting that December 1989 show were being plastered all over the Wazzu campus.

“Alice Who?” One would read.

“Alice in F*(#ing Chains, that’s who?” the next would say …

We got calls in the WSU Daily Evergreen newsroom from an older woman complaining about a large blonde woman putting up obscene signs on campus. That would be Jason. Well, Jason, and his friend, and me, and others all had very long hair … mistakes could easily be made. Jason was a fellow WSU Daily Evergreen writer and he and his friend were promoting, I think – their first real concert. A local Seattle band would be playing the CUB Ballroom. They were – as yet - unsigned but only a few days away from that changing.

The Cub had hosted Soundgarden and would later host the Foo Fighters (remember when people thought Nirvana’s drummer has a record, right, that’ll work ???) Chains would simply rock the house, playing mostly what would become Facelift, they would pack the place even, and I knew I had just stumbled onto something. A few months later Chains would open for an awful hair metal band named Vain at the Oz, I would write up a review of it, and it would start me off on a several year run of writing for music magazines.

Looking back, it is even more amazing to me what I got to witness in person. The first Chains record release party was at the Seattle Aquarium: we were hanging out in the dome listening to Facelift. A few moths later I was coaching a boys high school soccer team in Spokane and I recommended Facelift to them. The players had seen a video for Man in the Box and laughed at me for liking it. I didn’t really care. But, within weeks, they had changed their minds.

Sometimes I miss my rock journalist days, think Almost Famous on a more local scale (but during the Grunge Era in Seattle); you get to hang out, meet the guys, but there is always something implied in what they tell you and what they do around you ... no, I can't say I “knew” those guys, but the few I have bumped into over the years have seemed to recognize me.

Recently, I was talking to Jerry Battista outside the O&T one night talking old music before a Gold Spikes show. It came to my attention he was in the Allies ... The Allies? I loved those guys. I still have their tape and a song on a compilation from KYYX ... I felt like a geeky fan boy all of a sudden; of course I would help him carry in stuff at that point. Emma Peel was a truly cool song and one of my all time favorite guitar riffs, it was like finally getting to meet Tony Chursky at Seattle Sounders practice in 1994 ... only, I had been dancing to one of the other bands Jerry plays in named The Davanos on Sundays for a year and didn’t know it. The Allies played my high school so technically I have been dancing to bands he was in for 20 years now. I mentioned he should play Emma Peel. He said I would have to sing it, so that ended quickly, (although secretly I would love to if I could remember all of the words and drank heavily enough).

I never got to see Alice In Chains perform again live. With Layne’s health and drug problems they simply didn’t tour for that long. Combine it with my move back to Pullman in 1994, starting a family, and other issues I simply did not ever get another chance. Alice In Chains would fade away as a live act, creating a legacy that endures, but leaving behind too small a catalogue of music …

Around the same time as the Bumbershoot show in 2K2 I flipped through a coffee table book of photos by one of the guys who did a lot of photography of the Grunge Era bands. It is a great book. But, when your era is now considered retro, there is a wing in a museum dedicated to you, and people are publishing coffee table books from that time, your time is over.

I could go see the Alice In Chains reunion show coming up. But, even if I could get a ticket I don’t know if I could. I wish them luck, but for me that remains a long time ago and I think I will keep it there.

(The photos at the top of this post I took during the CUB Ballroom show in December 1989)

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Recent Election

It doesn't matter that the Democrats won this time. There simply needs to be significant steps taken on creating a national standard on ballots and polling practices. It needs to be the same everywhere, every time, in every election. The democratic process is too important to be left up to local rules and standards. It is time to create and require a national traceable standard for the process at all levels. This is not an issue of overstepping boundaries where the Feds are concerned; it is a vital national security and public policy stance that is necessary to promote public trust in the process and set a standard by which the rest of the world can follow. It is vital to the very essence of being an American that our elections be fair and open and without any sense of being anything other than above board.

It was embarrassing to see that some polling places in parts of the country didn't have working machines, that there is not always a paper trail, and that the public trusts the government so little to simply count "one for him, one for him" and get it right that there were groups there to monitor our elections like this was a banana republic. This is something that is painfully simple to do. Unfortunately, we hold Nicaragua to a higher standard than we do Ohio.

Given how many close elections there are the totals need to be perfect and trusted every time. Recounts should never be anything other than the exact same total that was counted the first time.

What will Bush Do?

Well ... he talked a good talk for a day, then decided to screw it and is pushing to get legislation through that will stand no chance in a few weeks. The true colors have shown again. The President of the United States simply does not have the temperament to govern and compromise, he only wants to rule ... get used to the sound of quacks from the West Wing ...

In 94 our previous president faced a similar hurdle and in 95 we learned that Clinton had the ability to govern from the middle. After all, governing is his job, and it is not selling out. Part of the job is that one doesn’t always get one's way. It is about doing what one needs to do. Bill was criticized for it, but I would argue it was his strength.

Bush made the same mistake in office that Clinton did of assuming he had a mandate … he doesn’t and never really did, tried to, and got slapped down for it ... and despite some initial words to the contrary ... he really doesn't get it. He and his admin by extension simply do not have the understanding that they are there to govern and solve problems, and are not just there to checklist an agenda.

For years Bush got a free pass from the so-called liberal media. When the media and liberals politically finally got a back bone to stand up to him, his administration and guys on the right like Hannity lashed out like McCarthy. Liberals who had the audacity to question George were traitors, cowards, evil, and had mental disorders.

In recent history, Democrats have only lacked the courage of their convictions, but not this time. It was a lot of angry voters on issues like Iraq and corruption, but it was also core ideals like economics and fairness that helped give an actual option for the voting public.

This is not the time for Democrats to jump in like they have a vendetta. They were not given this opportunity to govern to just turn it into a witch hunt. The public wants there to be a balance and that was not happening. Democrats need to remember that they are in control of Congress as much because people want there to be a balance as for some of the other reasons. What is really needed is a period of moving forward and not backward. So many of the corrupt ones have been kicked out of office already, let’s move on.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Apple Cup Memories ...

Before going to WSU I was much more of a pro football fan, even of the USFL, than a college football fan. Huskies, Cougars, or others didn’t really matter that much, but I did root for the local teams first. I even still root for the Dawgs against the Ducks. But, once I went to WSU to visit, that started to change … now, I have to break it to dance partners that the Seahawks losing is not nearly as important to me as the Coug game was on Saturday.

These are the noteworthy Apple Cups I have attended, mostly anyways …

1985 – I had never been colder at a sporting event until Luge at the 02 Olympics, but Bob and I made it there, it was such a cold front that cars were abandoned on I5, students were paid to flush toilets the night before to keep the pipes from freezing, and James went for two instead of the tie at the end with Chandler tossing the ball out of the endzone for a Coug win … Rypien vs. Chandler, both became Super Bowl QBs

1986 – Front row center in Pullman, Rosie started, the Cougs were bad, the Dawgs won

1988 – Dennis Erickson’s Aloha Bowl team won in an amazing game with a huge blocked punt late

1990 – The first year of the three year Husky Rose Bowl cycle was a demolition of the Cougs, but in reality it was Bledsoe vs. Brunell I, Gary and I stayed to the final play just on general principle

1992 – Bledsoe vs. Brunell II, a four TD 3rd quarter for the Cougs, Richard and I in the snow rooting for different teams, and the end of the James Era looming due to rampant booster problems

1993 – backup QBs do not win Apple Cups, the Dawgs on probation, and I sat in the rich snooty alumni section with UW alums who did not approve of my presence, but since I worked at the WAC I got the seat and decided to sit there anyway, high up is far away at Husky Stadium

1994 – on staff at Wazzu myself, it was a sluggish game that an amazing Cougar D won

1995 – Actually had to watch this on closed circuit TV in the theatre at the CUB since the Dawgs decided not to have this be one of their TV games … Leaf’s first start almost led to an amazing win, but just a great game to watch any way

1996 – OT, a 4th Q 3 TD comeback made it possible, but the end zone pass to win in OT was just a smidge too far …

1997 – had to watch on TV in Pullman, but got to see the Cougs qualify for a Rose Bowl, so I list it here

1998 – it is never a good sign when the two best QBs were each team’s backup, two bad teams played a bad game that the Dawgs eventually won … and I have not made an Apple Cup in Pullman since

1999 – I still do not know why Gesser did not play more when that was the only time the Cougs moved the ball at all, and Tim got a miracle ticket

2001 – a very good Cougar team played like they had never met each other before

2004 – again, not actually in person, but watched the first half at Jillian’s and the 2nd at Cowgirls Inc … an eventful day for other reasons, but the first win of back to back wins for the Cougs with Brink behind center

It Is About Religion

The War on Islam
As much as our current government does not want to say it, they are waging a war on Islam and not just terrorism. Islamic moderates continue to plead that they should not be lumped in with the terrorism suspects with a very valid argument, “Do not judge us by our extremes.” Unfortunately, everything in America these days is judged by extremes. The Republican Party and Conservatives are judged by their most corrupt or active adherents. The Democratic Party is referred to as having “San Francisco values” as to indicate that it is too liberal. (Just what are San Francisco values? It is a great town. Good people. Liberal yes, but Newt it is hardly un-American to be pro-choice, tolerant, and willing to question decisions the federal government makes.) However, Dubya has been so outspoken in his religion, and evangelicals are so clearly against anything that doesn’t see things their way, that the religious element of current US foreign policy cannot simply be ignored. Be honest Mr. President, it is Islam you are against.
But, instead of reaching out to the hundreds of millions of reasonable Muslims worldwide, showing them that America is what it claims to stand for, we have squandered this opportunity. The credibility is simply not there. People do not believe what you say sir, because they see what else you say, what you have done, and how we are willing to be friends with bad men that oppress Muslims in the name of Islam for expediency.
Well, since propaganda is so important. Here is a fictional plan to create fervor for an Islamic moderate that we can create.
Utilize rumor, internet, and tv/radio to create a phony personae. He is a charismatic figure that is preaching tolerance, unity between Islamic sects, and non-violence as a means of protest. Create a fake search for this man. Create rumors of appearances. Create him from scratch and wag the dog, like the movie did. It would create potential confusion amongst the insurgency that is war weary, giving them the hope of something / someone better. Hell, we could even make him a martyr with a fake death from a real bomb, striking a blow to the insurgency.
It is just a thought.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

This is true

My neighber decided to just get ahead of the game ...

... and put up her Christmas stuff on November 4th ...

... tree and all.

So last night when I was outside letting Dasher do her tinkle, she invited me and the kids over to see. She wasn't joking.

I don't have a joke here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Seattle Marathon Reflections

Seattle Marathon Reflections

There was always a part of me that wanted to try a marathon. I remember talking to one of the attorneys I worked for in 1990 when the Goodwill Games were in Seattle about his first marathon and it seemed to me right then that I would run a marathon at some point. Being fairly goal oriented, it was the perfect sort of cockamamie thing for me to decide to do. (This was about the time I decided to write my first novel too, which I managed to do first for different reasons.)

By the middle of 1993 I had built my confidence and endurance up to the point where short races, half marathons, a triathlon, and the success of those events had me convinced that I would run the 1993 Seattle Marathon. Well, August 8, 1993 would strike a huge blow to that goal when I managed to break my ankle on my first wedding anniversary (which, in retrospect, should have told me something).

A few years passed, I worked my ankle strength back up, and decided in the Spring of 1998 that I would run the 1998 Seattle Marathon. To make certain I would not back out and stay on task I went and entered said marathon right then and there and paid my fee. I began to focus on the goal, got in a half marathon in the fall and some other long training runs to work, etc … and went for it the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 1998.

The 1998 race was an eye opener. I knew it would be tough, and really it was exactly as hard as I thought it would be. It never occurred to me that I would have to learn the mental side of marathons. There are about three times during the race where I seriously consider stopping every year. For reasons having to do with fatigue, hydration, cramps, and just plain pain I always find myself seriously considering the wisdom of what I am doing. For eight years now I have faced these moments and succeeded in finishing.

There is a rush entering Memorial Stadium and seeing the finish line that is better than other races of shorter distances. I remember the first Bloomsday or Beat the Bridge race finishes and thinking about how cool that was at the time to run that far, but the Marathon is different. Lots of people run. Most that run will do community event runs like Seafair at some point. But, most do not run the marathon, even once. Marathon runners; competitive, pack, or slow, all share in the same accomplishment and there seems to be a fraternal feeling amongst them all.

There are times I could have finished the race a bit faster, but I have always felt it was important to stay healthy and be able to work. Some days I have had to go to work after the marathon. It takes several days to fully get my legs back. As this one guy once said as he struggled through the 19th mile, “I don’t care if fat chicks and old men pass me.” I must agree.

My buddy Tim has managed to be a good cheerleader for me, often times showing up at various points along the course to high five me. I have inherited my own cheering sections of people waiting for their friends and family by waiving my arms and garnering their cheers. I get to see the leaders during the cut backs on I90 and around Seward Park. My kids have been there at the finish line, even joining me for the final 50 yards one year. A triathlete coworker jumped on the course around Leschi one year to give me support. I look forward to the donut chunks when reaching 520. I endure long stretches alone. I do pick up the pace to follow attractive women (Y chromosomes being what they are). I will often grab two cups of water to carry to make certain I don’t dehydrate before the next station. I have never stopped and walked. I have chatted people up to keep them going and been chatted up by others seeking to do the same for me. It has been clear and dry and wet and soggy. I can’t seem to get out of the habit of the marathon.

1998 – slow, wet, soggy, cold, a slightly different course, and family waiting for me at the end

1999 – my PR for some time, as I was smarter and it was dryer

(sidebar - 1999 WTO reflection)

WTO protesters were lined up for several days before there were riots in 1999. In fact, the marathon was the day prior to the riots that year. From packet pickup through the early stages of the race, I got a first hand glimpse of what was to come as the packet pickup is at the Westin and so was Al Gore, meaning so were protesters. However, the people on the streets were smiling and friendly that weekend, even waiving at us as we ran that first mile and passed Westlake and the Westin. The next night was totally different, and I have always had the image of protesters holding signs, smiling, and waiving as my first thoughts about what transpired later. I have this image of a woman holding a sign, sipping coffee and eating a muffin, looking very happy to be there. When picking up my aunt from Sea-Tac a few days later I wondered if she was okay as I went up the viaduct and saw the smoke.

2000 – another cold wet race

2001 – gutted out a windy day

2002 – surgery recovery race #1 – had to start from scratch in July after being in a cast for thumb surgery, slow, but made it

2003 – raced knowing I had to work that night, that sucked

2004 – my current PR, first year of TKD training, a week after other events made this finish very important, and the kids joined me on the field to finish

2005 – surgery recovery #2 – my reverse PR, coming back from ab surgery with an injured left big toe

2006 – TBD - (But I do hear through the grapevine that a few friends are running it for the first time this year, which is cool)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Everett Jets - (Oxymoron series ongoing)

The Everett Jets

I have really never thought of myself as being entrepreneurial ...

... by that I mean I never thought much about starting a business or a franchise or anything like that (recent ideas such as Keeper Studios and Jefferson’s Brewery notwithstanding).

However ... in the early / mid 90s the USISL - now USL of various divisions - was expanding at a rapid rate. I thought to start a team in Everett. So, I wrote to the USISL and received a franchise package ... I started the basic work at writing up a business plan and tossed around a bunch of nickname ideas, settling on the Jets. I thought, here come the Everett Jets ... Of course at that stage I did not have the money (still don't) or any sort of understanding how to acquire capital (I have at least a clue now) ...

... but was beaten to the punch by the rise of the Everett Bigfoot. The Everett Bigfoot unfortunately only last 2 seasons and there isn't a team playing soccer at that level in Snohomish County. I think they were a smidge ahead of their time, but I still think a team that marketed to the naval base and played on the growing Everett Sports market could really find a niche in the PDL ....

Everett has changed over the last decade: with the population cracking the 100k threshold, an arena bringing in minor league hockey, arena football, and hoops ... but no one has brought back the PDL. Perhaps if Tacoma FC does well that might change ... I hope so.

Monday, October 30, 2006

My Space, Your Space, We All Space ...

Wasn't gonna ... kind of got goaded into it ...

It seemed like a long way off a long time ago ...

Tonight I get my ninth yellow stripe at my taekwondo dojang.

Throughout the color belt system and the deputy black belt sequence we are required to earn stripes to qualify for the next belt testing. At some levels it is 8 stripes, then it is 16 stripes, eventually it is 24 stripes ... but once we become deputy black belts it is 12 stripes to earn one yellow stripe and ten yellow stripes equals qualification for black belt testing. (I know this sounds as complicated as the old pounds and pence British monetary system, but it actually is quite simple in practice.)

So tonight, I go through poomse practice and get stripe number nine. Me and Ringo test in just over a month for our National Level Black Belts ... it seems like so long ago we started. He was in 1st grade, I was still married, my hair was long, I worked nights for Safeco, and I couldn't dance to save my life ...

... and now we are almost there ...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Even in Downtown Bellevue ...

Even in Downtown Bellevue …

I spent about six weeks this summer working in Bellevue, in a downtown office building. Bellevue is generally considered to be the conservative wing of the Puget Sound region, affluent and regarded as a bit snobby to its neighbors. So, it came as little surprise to me that in the lounge area of the building lobby there was a television and some recliners with the television stuck on Fox News.

For several days I would walk past the lounge on my way out to lunch and to and from the bus. It struck me as odd that rarely were there any people using the lounge area while Fox News was on. However, one day the channel was changed to the US Open, and a few days later to CNN Headline News, and suddenly there were people using the lounge area and watching television regular like. Bear in mind, this is a financial center type of building in Bellevue. I found this to be a bit out of place given the general perception of who would be working in Bellevue and what Fox News is supposed to represent.

I just can’t watch that channel. I have tried. It is on something called cable, which I do not have, so it has had to be at other times and in other places than at home. I cringe when I see any story that seems leading, regardless of the source. Fox is just not something I can stomach to watch. I would be embarrassed as a conservative.

But, Fox is “Fair and Balanced” ™, just ask them, they’ll tell you. So, it must be true. But, I just can’t seem to get an image out of my mind. I just picture their anchors all giggling off camera every time they have to say that line.

I don’t care if Sean Hannity is to the right, that is his job in a commentary program. He is a prick that equates anyone who is to the left of him with evil. No, a commentator being opinionated is not the point. It is the news coverage itself that is what makes me cringe about Fox News. They have not only catered to the Bush Administration, they have been its mouthpiece. They don’t even pretend any more to be fair and balanced. They hold their own viewers in such low esteem that don’t even pretend to be anything other than what they are. It is amazing just how much utter contempt those in political power on the right have towards their own voters. The right thinks its own voters are stupid. Fox News is laughing at them every day.

Dear new Sonics ownership group

Dear New Sonics Ownership Group

You are lying.

No one invests millions of dollars in anything without a plan.

No one invests millions of dollars in anything without an end game.

No one invests millions of dollars in a sports franchise in a different town and can reasonably expect people to believe that they do not want to bring that franchise to their town with the new building. It would be negligent of you to not have plans in place about the future of the franchise 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, and ten years from now given the money invested.

If you don't have a plan, you are all morons. I doubt you are all morons.

You may very well accept a new arena in this region if the financing that no one really expects comes through. It would make for a nice profit for you when you sell the team and purchase an expansion or other franchise to relocate. It would be a heck of a windfall for you that your Plan B worked out so well.

But no one here truly believes that an arena in this region is your Plan A.

Stop pretending.

Stop with the obviously rehearsed lines about market and a timeline.

You are lying.

And the more you lie the less likely this region is to help you.

Just say it.

“Build it or we leave.”

It’s easy.

You talk around it. You make very careful statements that basically say it and give you all the plausible deniability you will need later. Say what you mean and maybe that honesty and credibility would buy you some good will and support. All you can really expect now is a team that is going to find itself moving quickly off the radar in a town that has supported it for 40 years. The Sonics will leave town with a barely audible thud, the thud of the door smacking you on your lying butts as you leave.

This is not a U2 song ...

This is not a U2 song …


That would be next year … in 2K7 I turn 40, along with a number of friends … a few hit it first, then me in the middle, and a few others in the Fall … It doesn’t bother me, but it seems to be affecting others …

Here are some other numbers and what they mean / meant to me …

10 – I remember thinking how cool it was to be double digits old …

13 – Everyone made such a big deal about this one I actually remarked that being a teenager was just going to be too much pressure …

16 – I got my driver’s license within days of turning 16 …

18 – Bob took me to register to vote and to register for the draft …

19 – Legal in Idaho at the time and a freshman at Wazzu …

21 – Not that big a deal when I already had Idaho …

25 – Married.

30 – A dad.

35 – Old enough to run for President of the United States of America.

39 – People don’t believe that is your real age, but actually currently is …

40 – Next Summer …
50 – A long ways away, for now …

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Predictable Patterns

Predictable Patterns

Recently, I was subbing a math class. The teacher gave out a packet of work, which in common language is known as busy work. The classes were about as enthusiastic as one would imagine about the obvious spinning of their wheels, but did settle in to work. They must be afraid of not getting it done.

Well, I decided to do the assignment, I was bored enough. In fact, one class was so quiet I got up and did a quick head count to see if some of them had snuck out.

Anyways, I got stumped on a couple items under what was called “Predictable Patterns”. I got through the first 13 fairly quickly, but could not get 14 and 15. The patterns would list numbers and you had to determine what the next numbers in the sequences were. The every odd number one or the every three numbers one were easy. The each number goes up by the square of 1, 2, 3 etc … in order was trickier. I could not get the following two. The teacher did not leave a key and I have not been back to that school yet to ask her. That will happen soon.

1, 4, 9, 1, 6, 2, 5, 3, 6, 4, 9, 6, 4, ___, ___, ___, ___

And 1, 1, 4, 3, 9, 6, 16, 10, 25, 15, ___, ___, ___, ___

Any help would be greatly appreciated. And by help, I do mean the answers.

MLS Single Table (with relegation) ... yeah, right ...

MLS Single Table (With Relegation) Will Never Happen

The USL 1st Division (officially US Soccer’s 2nd Division Pro, which is not nearly as bad as England’s Division 1, now that their 1st Division is actually their 3rd Division, since the 1st Division become the Premier League and the 2nd Division, known as the 1st Division for 12-13 years after the formation of the Premier League, became known as the League Championship) has a single table. It still has a playoff and does not have relegation slash promotion, but doesn’t bother with divisions.
USL clubs like Rochester, Seattle, and Vancouver would likely be all in favor of promotion and relegation, mostly since they are on the outside looking in. However, it is simply inconceivable that MLS club owner-operators would go for the same thing. MLS’ “single entity” structure makes it impossible, but even so, with MLS clubs having a SSS (soccer specific stadium) focus, I simply cannot imagine them going for relegation given the $$$ difference in stadium construction and the effect it would have on franchise values. New owner-operators seem less likely to invest in something with relegation than the original guys that bought into “single entity” in the first place.

Currently, only 4 teams fail to make the playoffs, and that does have a huge impact on play. But, as the league expands the number of teams that don't qualify will grow as well (in theory) and that should take care of itself a bit.

Online fans and some journalists will continue their ongoing battle for single table with promotion and relegation, forgetting, or not caring if they do know it, that the suits are simply not listening. Relegation is not an agenda item and despite annual calls for it, it simply is not something discussed at the ownership level. It won’t happen, not because they keep voting it down, but because they don’t seriously consider it. At all.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Last night I wrote this short story. I started it around 8, give or take a few minutes and when I got up after reading it a few times it was 9:05 ... decided to leave it as close to how I wrote it as I could.

“Eventually” by Jeffrey Lageson (c) 2006

Eventually, he would read all of the books stacked up on his nightstand.
He was like that.
Stubborn, many would say.
Thorough, he would say.
He had managed to finish off stacks like this before. He would go on binges; reading for hours a day at the expense of other habits or needs. Sometimes reading at all sorts of odd times and in very peculiar places to be caught reading books.
The bus was one thing.
Reading on work breaks was another.
Flipping pages while alone was – on the whole – probably better than sitting in front of the television or computer surfing the net while having dinner.
But, people should not read in bars. It would scare off potential patrons and give the place a bad name. “There’s a fun place to hang out, that guy is reading in here.” Boring is death.
Now, a coffee shop, that would be okay, expected even, even if a bit cliché. Hell, it’s quieter in some coffee shops these days for those reading, writing, or studying than the library gets anymore. People will step outside to take cell calls at some coffee shops. Yet, there was a woman holding a conversation while on the computer in the library the other day on her cell phone. Librarians he grew up with – be they school or public libraries – would simply not have tolerated such nonsense in their libraries.
But, saying something like that smacked of saying an “In My Day” sort of statement where the first three words would be spoken loudly and enunciated slowly by a grumpy old man that simply disapproved of things full-time any more, regardless of whether things truly were better or not in his day.
Part of his problem was that he didn’t like not finishing a book. He might hate it, but he felt like he should finish it. It wasn’t really even a badge of honor or anything, it was simply his preference. So, eventually he would just slog his way through drivel and crap literature, hoping, often without any real glimmer or reason for said hope, to at least encounter a good line or scene or something to validate why the book was in print when other talented people did not get their work published at all. Ever.
He actually felt the same about movies; renting videos to see the first half hour or second half of a movie previously half watched. Often, he would choose not to start watching a television series someone would recommend to him, simply because he knew he would have to go back and see every single previous episode or he would simply explode.
These were the sorts of things that really and truly bothered him.
There were currently thirteen books on his dresser and two sitting on his pillow, all in various states of having been read – or not. Six of the books were gifts. Always nice to get a book as a gift. One he’d borrowed from his father. Six others he’d purchased. Two he had borrowed from communal shelves at work and thought he was likely to return them when he was done. But, since there were no due dates on a communal shelf and no one really expects those sorts of things back or really keeps track of the books on a shelf like that – they brought them in to get rid of them in the first place and didn’t feel like taking the trip to a used book store to sell them – he wasn’t certain he would ever bring them back at all, especially if he liked them.
He was like that, too.
Two of the books would be considered biography. Three of the books dealt with kids and their problems. One was a book about relationships that he was uncertain if it had been loaned to him or given as a gift. He sort of got the impression it could be either. He had gotten a burr up his butt one day and purchased a book on learning Latin, getting about as far into it as one would expect before setting it on the night stand five books down, just above two of the six books that would generally be thought of as non-fiction or historical types of books. Only two of the books were fiction and both of those were novels, not collections of short stories. Of those two novels, one he’d already read at the suggestion of a woman he knew and regarded well. She was right. It was a fantastic book he could recommend to others, always with the caveat of letting people know it starts slow, but is worth it if you stick with it. The other was a bestseller he had purchased, dirt cheap at a library sale, someone having donated it most likely. He figured that one he’d get to last, even though he wanted to read it if for no other reason than to find out what all the fuss was about.
Most of the books he had at least started, and various items were in use as bookmarks. A few books had their receipts in use. One book had his only photo of a woman he dated marking a chapter on relationship mistakes. Obviously that book was not one of the two novels or biographies.
In all, six of the books in the stack were already read, the book on Latin wasn’t really a sit down and read it book anyways, and four of the books he was well into. Reading multiple books at a time was not unusual. There was the western novel in the door of his vehicle with only a couple chapters left. Often, he’d have the work book, the commute book, the bedroom book, and the one he’d tuck in his vehicle to give himself something to do if needing to wait in his car for a period of time or if he was broke down or stranded. He knew he should finish the four he was well into, but hesitated and went and got some ice cream instead, sitting down to watch the rest of the DVD that was due the next day.
He hated leaving things partially read, but the DVD had a due date on it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

OXYMORON - Top Ten Lists

As a part of my Oxymoron research I compiled ridiculously detailed lists of matches I have attended using programs, ticket stubs, and other forms of research to get the facts pretty well right. My accounts and memories of these games may be off, but the dates, scores, and locations are correct.

Yes, I can remember all of this.

Sometimes that bugs me too.

Top Ten WINS (with a rooting interest - defined as more than just liking a team from another city like Lakers or Raiders fans that were born and raised in Seattle)

1) USA 2 Colombia 1 – 6/22/94 – Pasadena CA – Rose Bowl – 1994 World Cup First Round
- First win for US Men in World Cup play since the 1950 World Cup magical win over England, Andres Escobar’s own goal led to his murder days later, largest crowd for a sporting event I have ever been a part of in a stadium

2) USA 1 Costa Rica 0 – 9/7/97 – Portland OR – Civic Stadium – 1998 World Cup CONCACAF Qualifying Final Round
- days after the tragic death of my cousin Brian on I-5, this game served as a form of scream therapy, and when Tab Ramos scored it pretty well cemented the trip to France, and my brother got heat stroke

2) Seattle Sounders 1 Richmond Kickers 1 (5-4 PK) - 10/1/05 - Seattle WA – Qwest Field – USL Division 1 Championship
- had to miss the 96 final due to Pullman commitments, saw them lose in 77, finally saw the boys win the cup in front of me, and then I went dancing since I was being pestered with text messages from the start of the 2nd half through OT

4) FC Seattle Storm 5 San Jose Earthquakes 0 – 7/30/88 - Seattle WA – Memorial Stadium – Western Soccer Alliance Championship
- First time a team I had a genuine rooting interest in won the title in front of me. The rarity of championships was firmly etched in my psyche

5) USA 2 Canada 0 – 10/20/76 – Seattle WA – Kingdome – 1978 World Cup CONCACAF Qualifying
- the night I discovered what the World Cup is, that Canada is a different country, and that sometimes you have to root against your favorite player when he plays for the other team, also FIFA would not sanction a match on carpet these days

6) Seattle Sounders 1 San Jose Earthquakes 0 – 8/5/03 – Seattle WA – Husky Soccer Field – US Open Cup 4th Round
- SRO, a rocking crowd, San Jose tried to light a fire by bringing in Landon Donovan as a sub, but Sounder keeper Rich Cullen played the game of his life

7) Seattle Sounders 1 Cosmos 0 – 7/10/77 – Seattle WA – Kingdome – NASL Regular Season
- The mighty Cosmos of Pele and Beckenbauer were shut out on offense and beaten by one Jockey Scott shot, regular season games are rarely this festive in any sport

8) Tacoma Stars 5 Dallas Sidekicks 4 (OT) – 2/7/86 - Tacoma WA – Tacoma Dome – MISL Regular Season
- first game of the Steve Zungul era in Tacoma, which led to the Stars being a hot ticket for a couple of years (and the owner of one of the great collapses in sports history in 1987), but on this night, it was fun and the Stars won

9) USA 9 Panama 0 – 11/2/02 – Seattle WA – Safeco Field – CONCACAF Gold Cup First Round
- My only USA Women full fan cap, game served a double purpose as a World Cup Qualifier, but Mia Hamm did not play, still nursing a knee injury, but did jog a bit.

10) Seattle Sounders 2 Vancouver Whitecaps 0 – 8/10/77 – Vancouver BC – Empire Stadium – NASL Playoffs
- the first of two Northwest road trips in August of 1977, Chursky got hurt, the Sounders still won

11) FC Seattle Storm 10 Arizona Condors 0 – 6/2/90 – Seattle WA – Memorial Stadium – APSL Regular Season
- I had two choices that night, the M’s or my Storm ticket, I saw 10 goals, but I missed RJ’s no-no the same night

12) Tacoma Stars 11 New York Cosmos 4 – 2/16/85 – Tacoma WA – Tacoma Dome – MISL Regular Season
- what was left of the once mighty Cosmos was an awful indoor team in MISL that folded weeks later and did not finish the season

Hardest Ten Losses to Take

1) Seattle Sounders 1 Cosmos 2 – 8/28/77 – Portland OR – Civic Stadium – NASL Soccer Bowl
- Chursky’s gaff, Pele’s last real game, and a 10 year old boy who got too close to the sideline

2) USA 1 Czechoslovakia 5 – 6/10/90 – Florence IT – Stadio Communale – 1990 World Cup First Round
- the day after the first elections in Czechoslovakia was very emotional for the traveling fans, the American fan next to me seemed genuinely surprised that we weren’t favored, this was ugly early, and I still think they let us score, after the game an old man and I exchanged flags and I still have that flag

3) USA 0 Italy 1 – 6/14/90 – Rome IT – Stadio Olimpico – 1990 World Cup First Round
- Massimo and I were interviewed on live Portugese television, running around with our respective flags, and the book All Played Out has an account of this match I wish I’d have written myself

4) Seattle Sounders 3 San Jose Earthquakes 4 (2OT) – 7/17/02 - Seattle WA – Interbay Stadium – US Open Cup 4th Round
- a man held up a "need tickets" sign outside a sold out Sounders game at a small college field, we heckled Landon Donovan about Britney Spears rumors (he actually looked back at me while waiting to throw in a ball 6 or 7 feet away), and the Sounders lost in double OT

5) Seattle Sounders 1 Los Angeles Galaxy 5 – 8/27/03 – Seattle WA – Qwest Field – US Open Cup Quarterfinals
- over early when the ref hosed the Sounders Defense by awarding a PK in the first couple minutes, a great crowd was immediately taken out of this one and it was over early

6) USA 1 USSR 3 – 2/3/79 – Seattle WA – Kingdome – International Friendly
- we walked around a lot, but it was cool to see the Cold War in person

7) FC Seattle Storm 2 Canada 3 – 4/24/86 – Shoreline WA – Shoreline HS Stadium – International Friendly
- just two months prior to Mexico 86 Canada had to settle for matches like this to prepare, many of their players were still playing indoor, it is not hard to understand why they didn’t score in three matches in Mexico

8) Washington State 0 North Carolina 4 – 8/29/03 – Seattle WA – Husky Soccer Field – Husky Classic
- Even without two players missing for World Cup duty, UNC just rolled over a pretty good Cougar team

9) Seattle Sounders 1 Colorado Rapids 4 – 6/21/98 – Marysville WA – Marysville-Pilchuk HS Stadium – Club Friendly
- Father’s Day, the USA had just lost to Iran in France hours earlier, Paz gave Jacob his tee shirt after the game, and it was the first game I saw with an MLS team in person

10) USA 2 World All-Stars 11 – 12/12/99 – Tacoma WA – Tacoma Dome – Indoor Exhibition
- no Mia Hamm, a pretty good crowd, and an all-star team that went on a tear took the crowd right out of this victory tour indoor exhibition

Best Neutral Matches

1) UCLA 1 American University 0 (8OT) – 12/14/85 – Seattle WA – Kingdome – NCAA Division 1 Championship
- EIGHT OVERTIMES, the NCAA changed to PK’s moments after this ended, the American fans got stranded in Seattle because the flight left, even though the PA announcer made many announcements that they might want to go

2) Vancouver 86ers 5 Toronto Rockets 3 – 10/6/91 – Burnaby BC – Swangard Stadium – CSL Championship
- spent the day with my cousin Brian in BC, then saw a weird game with two early goals, tv timeouts that were booed, and a trophy for the home team

3) Manchester United 4 Glasgow Celtic 0 – 7/22/03 – Seattle WA – Qwest Field – Club Friendly
- Seattle’s finest had bikes, motorcycles, horses, cars, and cops on foot as a show of force in Pioneer Square, mostly this was just a great show by Man U and their stars, just weeks after Beckham was sold to Real Madrid

4) USSR 0 Argentina 2 – 6/13/90 – Naples IT – Stadio San Paulo – 1990 World Cup First Round
- I went to see the goalies, instead, the Soviet keeper was benched and the Argentine broke his leg a dozen minutes in, with a pudgy Maradona playing in his club’s stadium in Italy, it was like a home game for Argentina, but I did get to spend the day with the most beautiful woman at the train station, just ask my friend

5) Los Angeles Galaxy 2 San Jose Earthquakes 3 – 4/7/01 – Pasadena CA – Rose Bowl – MLS Regular Season
- Landon Donovan’s MLS debut, early goals by the home team, and great Mexican food for the gringo that braved the Spanish speaking line

6) DC United 1 Real Madrid 1 – 8/14/06 – Seattle WA – Qwest Field – Club Friendly
- DCU decided to make this a game and did so, the crowd finally got to see Beckham in Seattle, and the girl who walked him out to the field holding his hand looked like she was about to explode at any moment

7) Canada 1 China 0 – 10/2/03 – Portland OR – PGE Park – 2003 World Cup Quarterfinal
- very possibly the greatest game in terms of excitement I have ever seen, if ever a team played out of their minds and over their heads it was these Canadian women on this night, and Tim and I got to heckle real live Communists and Canadians

8) Metrostars 0 Dallas Burn 2 – 6/5/04 – East Rutherford NJ – Giants Stadium – MLS Regular Season
- neither team is still named what they were named on this night, and Dallas’ keeper finally acknowledged our heckling with a broad grin our way as the game ended

9) Minnesota Kicks 0 Toronto Metros 3 – 8/28/76 – Seattle WA – Kingdome – NASL Soccer Bowl
- my first ever cup final, and a doozy of a second half, but neither the hometown team nor the mighty Cosmos made it, that was the next year in Portland

10) Dallas Sidekicks 11 Indiana Twisters 4 – 8/16/96 – Dallas TX – Reunion Arena – CISL Regular Season
- I’ve been to Dallas twice and only saw the Burn in New Jersey, so I saw Tatu break the indoor goal scoring record instead that night

11) Portland Pilots 2 USF 0 – 10/30/04 – Portland OR – Merlo Field – West Coast Conference Regular Season
- finally got to go to Merlo Field, a great college stadium, worth the trip but Tim had to deliver pizza in Longview and missed it, which was sad

12) Sweden 2 Cameroon 2 – 6/19/94 – Pasadena CA – Rose Bowl – 1994 World Cup First Round - I got there 4 hours early because I was afraid of LA traffic and roasted alone in the sun at the Rose Bowl until the game finally started

13) UCLA 3 Portland Pilots 1 – 9/13/91 – Bellevue WA – Interlake HS Stadium – Husky Classic
- the two goalies in this 1991 college clash were Kasey Keller and Brad Friedel, other players included Cobi Jones, who I chatted with and seemed like a good guy, too many bees in the bleachers

*** I could have included the 1986 Gold Cup at the LA Coliseum with Roma, 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup matches at Qwest, the other half of the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup match at Safeco Field, 1984 NCAA Championship in the Kingdome I went to with the Peelers, the 1999 World Cup with Tim in Portland, or the other 2003 World Cup Quarterfinal with Germany showing why they were going to go on to win it … ***

Trivia about these lists

- Landon Donovan played in games on all 3 lists
- There are both men’s and women’s World Cup Qualifiers and Finals matches
- Seattle area stadiums include HS, College, and Pro facilities like Husky Field, Interbay, Kingdome, Qwest Field, Safeco Field, Tacoma Dome, Memorial, Marysville HS, and Shoreline HS
- games were played in the following states; WA, OR, CA, TX, NJ
- games were played in the following countries; USA, Canada, Italy
- Rose Bowl appears three times
- 6 of the 7 Cup Finals I have ever been to are listed
- Paul Caligiuri shows up in college, pro, and internationals
- Pele twice
- San Jose Earthquakes show up in different forms in different leagues
- indoor soccer is represented on all three lists
- Mia Hamm did not play in either USA Women match listed
- MLS teams appear on all three lists
- College games are both men’s and women’s
- OT occurs several times, but PK’s only occur once
- my brother was at matches starting in 1976
- Tim went to matches from 1997 forward
- there are photos or web accounts of many games
- Tony Chursky is a major figure, I finally got to meet him in 94 at a Sounders practice in the Tacoma Dome
- despite numerous women’s matches, no WUSA teams are represented
- club vs. country
- no Oceana teams, but I have seen an Australian men’s pro hoops team once
- I didn’t include many clubs and countries like Ghana, Hong Kong, Japan, Cardiff, Pumas, or Dundee United
- games include Pele, Maradona, Beckenbauer, and other greats
- US HOF players, future HOF members, and HOF snubs like Zungul
- Kingdome matches include college, pro, international, but not the indoor game I went to once
- the USSR appears twice