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.