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.