Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Here's an idea

Running will resume shortly.  Finals coming up, no time to think about anything other than stats…  more later.


But meanwhile, I’ve got a novel idea…

Rather than bitching and moaning about rising gas prices and coming up with the uber-ignorant idea of a “windfall tax” on a company that’s simply doing what a company should do, and doing it exceptionally well (unless you’re willing to offer a “shortfall refund” for when they fall on their faces), why not buy stock in an oil company or two?

It’s not ridiculously expensive—just a couple of tanks of gas, really.  Or you can take that big, fat bribe, er, rebate you’re getting from your Uncle and buy up some Exxon or Shell shares.  That way, every time you pump gas you can think to yourself “Hooray!  More money for those fat cat owners of the world’s most successful company among whom I am included in their number!!”  They pay dividends each quarter, so that’ll help offset some of the cost of gas, plus as the value goes up you can just sit back and count all that money you’re going to have rolling in.  Then maybe you’d have a clue about risk/return on investment and you wouldn’t be so excited when idiot politicians talk about penalizing good companies for doing well.


Oh, and sell your gas-guzzling road hog Suburban Assault Vehicle, morons.  If you have a problem with putting $100 in your tank every week, howabout stop putting $100 in your tank every week…  I don’t think I’ve put $100 in my tank all month, but then again, I wasn’t so short sighted to believe that gas was going to stay at historically low levels forever, home prices would always increase 20% each year, and the stock market would always return 15% every year.


Things aren’t so bad.  Sure, they’re not great, but it’s not like we didn’t make this bed with overspending, over extending credit, and underpreparing for when rain does, inevitably, fall.  America, while you’re lying in this bed you made, maybe think about changing some habits, working toward building wealth instead of pissing away everything you bring in, and making sensible use of resources.


But who am I kidding…  we’ll pull the sheets up over our head and wait for things to “get better”, then we’ll go back out to Sears and melt that plastic like there’s no tomorrow!!  Viva en esta momenta!!  Muerta manana!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Candid confession

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a confession to make.

I have a guilty pleasure. One that I’m sure many people, just like me and the same age as me share in common.

I’m making this confession so that they don’t feel they must suffer alone any longer.

Whenever “Ice Ice Baby” comes on the radio, I crank the volume and sing along.

I know, I know… I’ll never be fit to serve public office with that kind of stigma attached to my name. But I don’t care. The only way to healing is through accepting the fact that I am an iceaholic and I’m powerless against the ice. I just sit there and check out the hook while his dj revolves is. It’s just too cold, too cold.

I might even put it in my running mix. How sick is that?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sick, sick, sick...

Saw a story today about a pair of “people” who are on trial for killing a toddler.


Because the baby was wetting the bed, they wouldn’t let the kid drink anything…  for a week.

Yea, not just “no, it’s too close to bedtime, sweetie, you’ll wet the bed” but no liquid-period.  They rubbed hot sauce on the rims of glasses to discourage the child from drinking out of cups.


After a few hours with no water, the human body starts to notice its absence.  We’ve all had the no-water headache.  After a couple of days without water, the body starts to malfunction.  After several days without water, the body starts to seriously malfunction—sometimes irreparably.  A child—any person, really—will complain about being thirsty.  I know MY son will cry, and cry, and cry, and generally pitch a damn fit if he needs some food or water.  After a few minutes of him pitching a fit I’ll usually manage to calm him down and coax him into using his rudimentary words to vocalize what he wants in a somewhat more productive manner than an all out hissy fit.


So, what sort of fucked up malfunction allows a caregiver—parent or not—to let a kid go on for several days needing water?  What sort of fucked up monster will watch a child die of DEHYDRATION?!?  THIS ISN’T SUB SAHARA AFRICA!!!!  Fresh, clean water literally pours out of just about any opening on command.  We have fresh, clean water sitting in porcelain tubs for hours at a stretch just waiting to accept our fecal remains so we can toss it out.  Entire villages would—and do—kill for the amount of water we, as individuals, throw away on a daily basis.  It must take herculean willpower to look at a dying child, there in your own house, and think to yourself “no, I won’t dip my little finger in the toilet to sooth his need.”


It must take abso-fucking-lutely herculean willpower to just sit there and watch a child die when life giving resuscitation is not even an arm’s reach away.  Sure, if it’s on TV you can flip the channel.  But there, in your own house, right in front of you, where you can’t turn away or change the channel, is a dying child and to just watch and do nothing is nothing short of astonishingly malicious and cruel.


Dropping the jail on top of these two is not nearly enough punishment.  They should be exiled to some place where mothers pray that their children will be healthy enough to wet the bed and the only comfort the parents have is the knowledge that in death, there is no more pain.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Another mile down the road...

One more mile under my (not yet significantly shrinking) belt.

I still have high hopes for getting to mile 60 by the end of the weekend.  7 miles, 2 days, plus tonight.  That shouldn’t be too difficult.  Hell, I could knock it out in a single day if I were motivated.  I have a HUGE test this weekend, so maybe a few miles on actual pavement will serve as a good cool down after I kick the crap out of this test.


In other news the daily fish wrap has published my letter to the editor (Thanks for spotting it, Jon!).

There had been a load of letters in the past few weeks and months about people complaining about the dunderheaded bikers wandering about the roads.  I hadn’t seen any, however, noting that most of those riders are not, in fact, cyclists, but are rather MS150 tourists who ride for 2 or 3 months and then mothball the bike for the rest of the year.  It’s not unlike all those dunderheaded runners who wander about the roads in the 3 or 4 months leading up to the marathon, never to be seen again come the 3rd week of January.


Honestly, I’ve seen some of these idiots talking on their cell phones while riding—then getting mad at ME for telling them to pull over to talk on the phone because their wandering all over the road was endangering both themselves and others.  Freaking knuckleheads.


So, I chimed in with my own pair of pennies.


The original that I sent was a little longer:

Fellow Houston drivers, I share your frustration with the cyclists we’ve had clogging our streets recently.

I also assure you that my fellow cyclists share your frustration, too.

What you need to understand is that as soon as the winter frost thaws there is a sizeable segment of the population that goes into their garage, peels off the number assigned to them the previous April, reattaches the front wheels of their bikes that haven’t been operable since the previous spring, and once again imposes themselves upon the community at large in order to prepare for the MS150.

Don’t get me wrong, the MS150 is, in fact, THE premier cycling event in the State of Texas and is a genuine pleasure to ride.  14000 riders every year take to the streets for this magnificent event that serves a terrific cause.  And when I say is it’s a pleasure to ride, I mean it’s a pleasure to ride in spite of the several thousand riders who clearly only ride their bikes for the 2 or 3 months it takes them to train for the MS150.

So, please don’t assume that all cyclists you see between February and April are created equal.  For most of the year, most cyclists really do try and follow the rules of the road and we really do try and coexist with the cars flying by us with little or no regard to the tremendous amount of danger they represent to us.  However, for 2 or 3 months, there are several thousand people on bikes who are not exactly cyclists, and they frustrate us as much as they frustrate you when they come out of their winter hibernation and don’t signal their intent (no, pointing to the right is NOT the signal for a right turn), or fly through stop signs (yes, that sign applies to you, too), or talk on their cell phones while riding (!!??!!), or otherwise prove to everyone around them that they haven’t even looked at their bike since last spring.

The good news is that after this weekend their bikes will once again be dismantled and stored for their traditional summer/fall/winter naps and things will return to normal.  Just please be as aware of us on our 15-40lb bikes as we are of you in your 1500-4000lb cars.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Not much running this week

I haven’t put in many miles this week.  I still hope to “get out of February” soon, but I’ve had more important things to deal with.


It’s ironic that in times of great stress—I’ve got a statistics test this weekend—when running (or any strenuous physical activity) might be most helpful, the desire to run is at its lowest.  Sometimes stress takes away “try”.  Very ironic.


There is an even chance of running tonight.  Chances of passing 60 by the end of the day Sunday are very slim.

Monday, April 07, 2008

In memoriam

First off, mile 52 in the books. Done and done. I didn’t gain any ground this weekend, but I didn’t lose any ground, either. That’s no small feat for me.

But more to the point…

On March 22 I got a call from my mom: “There’s been an accident, Tommy was working and hurt himself and bled to death. They life-flighted him to Dallas but he didn’t make it.”

Not quite as surprising as a sudden punch in the face, but surprising all the same.

My family always knew him as “Tommy”. His name was “Thomas”, but he went by “Tom” for most of his adult life. He was my cousin—just about 6 years older than me—and ever since the first time I met him he was “Tommy”. He joined the navy reserves and was stationed in Spain for awhile, and when he returned Mom called and said “Tommy’s back home, but he’s ‘Tom’ now.” I’ll never forget that. He made the transition from “Tommy” to “Tom”, but I still only knew “Tommy”. That boyish good humor and general easy spirit and a way about him that was … just… well, it was just “Tommy”. There really is no better way to describe it.

I’ll miss my cousin. Not every day, mind you. My family has a habit of not getting together all the time and not necessarily maintaining contact on a regular basis. However, there’s never been any distance to the separation; no substance to the time apart. We could get back together after 3 or 4 years and it would be as if we were hanging out just last weekend.

But now there will be an emptiness. Tommy won’t be sitting there by the cooler at the lake waiting for us (and he always seemed to be by the cooler). Nope, those light and easy good times are going to be … well, no less light and no less easy, just less full. At least for awhile. Eventually life will fill in the gap Tommy left behind. Eventually.

But meanwhile there will still be this gap. This enduring emptiness. This profound un-Tommy-ness.

I have no doubt I’ll see him again. He’ll be waiting there, across the shore, next to the cooler. A quick “hey” and a wave. Then the handshake that turns into the hug (3 pats on the back, no more no less, but genuine all the same). “How was your trip?” “Just fine, it’s good to be home.” “You ain’t seen nothing yet, cuz!”

We’ll see you soon, Tommy. You may not be with us anymore, but you won't be with us any less. Nobody can take away what you've already given.

Here’s to you, cousin. Keep one cold for me.

Friday, April 04, 2008


One more mile in the books, that brings me to 50 miles on the year.  I should be closer to 100 miles, but I’ll be satisfied with 90 by the end of the month.  100 would be a nice round number.


And now I have a little bit of motivation…


A coworker of mine has been talking about dropping some weight.  In fact, she hasn’t shut up about it for 3 or 4 weeks, but also hasn’t done anything about it.  Allegedly she decided to get serious at the beginning of this month.


So I laid out the challenge to her:  I want to drop 10% of my weight, howabout we race?


It took me 2 days of egging her on for her to finally capitulate, but the game is so on.


The rules:  The contestants will drop 10% of body weight (22lbs for me, 14lbs for her) by any means necessary—preferably safe and legal means.

Primary Victory Condition:  dropping the weight by the deadline date which is May 1.

Secondary Victory Condition:  largest percentage of goal weight lost (x/22 versus x/14).

Both contestants acknowledge progress towards the goal has already begun (5/22 [23%] versus 4/14[29%]).


Primary victory prize:  $25.

Secondary victory prize:  $10.



Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Q1 recap

As best as I can tell I came out of the first quarter at about 50% of my scheduled miles.


Not as good as I hoped, but better than I expected.


So far April is going pretty well, too.  I’m 2 for 2 this month and hope to keep that going as well.  I may even get out on the road this weekend and put up some extra numbers.


I can say that after running 48 miles on the year I still haven’t fallen in love with the idea of running.  I still hate doing it.  The grinding and beating and excruciating effort—especially in the summer—that goes into running any significant distance is just something I can do without.  HOWEVER, the meditative quality of the rhythmic footfalls is a quite unexpected finding.  It’s something that I knew of but never took the time to really notice on the bike, but have been forced to take notice of while running (lest the overall suck of running come crashing down on my shoulders).  Also, a quick 10 minute jog on the elliptical is a pretty good way to get the old engine revving in the morning.  That revelation can, no doubt, be filed under the “duh” category.


I have class tonight, but I still might get a mile or two in before bed.  Who knows, I might just do something crazy like that.

Another one down

2 days, 2 miles.  So far April is a good month.

“OFFICIALLY”, I’m still in February.  February 17th, as near as I can figure.  If all goes well this month, I should be able to get pretty close to March 31 by the end of it all.

We’ll see.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The anatomy of an organic prank

There are pranks that just happen and they’re done.

Then there are those “organic” pranks that just take on a life of their own and if you don’t act fast, they grow and grow until you can’t stop them.


That’s what happened this morning.


I call my mom at 8am and say “Good morning…  twins”.

Nothing else.


First silence, then the realization that it’s April 1 and she knew better.  She is, after all, a middle school teacher and this isn’t her first rodeo, so to speak.


We chuckle, gab for a few seconds, then move along.  I text message my older brother in Colorado a 1 word message:  “twins”.


About an hour later, 9:00am Colorado time, I get a call from my brother.  “Did you watch Milwaukee last night?”  The Twins play in Milwaukee, for those of you who only watch good baseball teams.


Blah blah blah…  “Well, congratulations, you must be pretty excited.”

“I would be, were it not April fools’ day.”


“You bastard.  You know you’re going to have to call your sister-in-law and niece because they’re pretty excited.”  Then laughing har de har har…

“Really?  How do they know?”


“James called.”


Now I get to give some stunned silence.


“So, Mom must have called him—she knows it’s just a joke, by the way—and he either offered up an unsolicited assist or he thinks we’re having twins.  I guess I have another call to make.”

“Yea, I guess so.”

So, I call up the little brother and thank him for the assist, except he doesn’t know what I’m talking about.  I have to put that fire out, too.  Lots of laughs all around and he’s stuck at the airport.  Sucker.


Finally a call to the sister-in-law who I greet with a “happy April fools’ day” which immediately clarifies to her that she’s been had by a cruel, cruel prank.




Now, of course, one can’t help but wonder if this will all come back to bite me in the ass when we DO have to go to the doc.


Back in the saddle

One more in the books.  I think I’m back in the saddle, so to speak.