28 December 2014

i'm a pro.


so glad THAT's over.

i will readily admit to a bit of ambivalence over the xmas season. on the one hand, jesus is the reason and whatnot, but on the other hand, jesus is really not the reason at all. solstice and the commandeering thereof by the early christian church - those are the reasons. knowingly celebrating jesus's birth inaccurately could most tactfully be called disingenuous. solstice was here first and claiming preeminence for christmas casts it all in an inauthentic light. if one of your stated goals is getting other people to believe what you're saying, shouldn't you say things that are believable?

around these parts, the act of claiming the christian faith is brings with it a cart of baggage. there's a definition, a persona, a bagful of things assumed about christians, not the least of which is that christians exhibit the sort of intolerance ironically displayed by those assuming things about christians.

but that's fine. i am who i am and i know who i am, and i don't really care if other people don't know me. i don't have a problem with not being known, per se. what i have a problem with is just the one aspect where the assumption is that christians are intolerant of [fill in the blank]. where the assumption is that christians are judgey.

i am reluctant to say "merry christmas" because i am concerned declaring for #teamjesus will brand me as anti-gay, anti-biracial-marriage, anti-non-christian, anti-fun, anti-cake, anti-beer-on-sunday -- anti- whatever.

and i don't want to be anti- anything. i want to be pro-. i AM pro-. pro-love. pro-acceptance. pro-live-and-let-live. i mean, hell, i am enough of a mess to worry with. i've got no time to be fixing anyone else.

so, there you have it.

merry christmas.

and thank the good lord, it's over!

11 December 2014

sexual healing

yesterday i received two hours of sexual harassment training. i will provide herein some literal (but perhaps not verbatim) quotes from the actual instructor, and you can decide for yourself how effective the class may or may not have been.


"anyone want to hazard a guess at what a 'house party' is? anyone? anyone? c'mon. you know this. anyone? it's sex toys! haha!"

"i could write a book."

"17% of harassment is women harassing men. 16% is men harassing men. 63% is men harassing women, so it is really starting to even out, isn't it?"

"this one makes me sick to my stomach."

"you know what breaks my heart? molestation of teachers on children."

"he asked her to come to work without underwear. haha!"

"i'm not going to get into a lot of graphic details. haha!"

"they got slapped around - as well they should have! haha!"

"do i have a right to call larry names? i might, but he won't like it. haha!"

insert here: discussion of three-second rule. reference to seinfeld episode [ed note: looked it up, it's called "the shoes"]. use of word "cleavage". haha. positing that the three-second rule provides acceptable guidance for how long a man can look at a woman's body. description of teaching three-second rule to son's Sunday school class.

"criminal touching, for men, that's touching them in places that would be covered by a swim suit. for ladies, i like to say it's a 1934 swim suit. haha!"

in reference to photo of lady making angry face at phone: "she got a sext from mark [sic] weiner! haha!"

"patting each other on the butt is only acceptable in football, and shouldn't be even there."

"they may medicate. what does 'medicate' mean?"

after using attendee's name in an example: "i'm going all the way with this, bob. thanks for letting me, even though i asked for permission on the backside."

"i'm going to clean it up - 'loss of bedroom activities'. haha!"

"i have to cover bullying now because EEOC has put it in the regulations. i hate that it has come to this. this should all be common sense. this is not my favorite section to teach."

"i always thought epithet [pronounced, ep-eh-taff] was something on someone's gravestone. haha!"

"if you don't get my humor, you can throw something at me. haha!"


yes, all this was really said.

yes, the blog title is a shameless plug for views.

07 December 2014

the one where we visit a marathon website.

of the three injuries to my left ankle, this is the third. the first was a stress fracture that i thought was tendinitis. the second was tendinitis that i thought was a stress fracture. the third... well, i thought it was tendinitis, then i was convinced it was a stress fracture, and now i am back to tendinitis. the stunningly obvious way to solve the question is to get the thing x-rayed and see what is going on, but x-rays cost money, plus either way, the treatment is the same. rest. ice. NSAIDs. rinse. repeat. so i am resting and NSAIDs'ing. the only reason i am not icing it is that i cannot remember to do so. how lame is that? about as lame as an injured marathoner. haha?

marathoner. strange but true. i am a marathoner. i've run 14 now, and although it's not as many as the guy i met a couple weeks ago -- he was on his 1011th! -- it's nothing to sneeze at. the vast majority of people in the world do 0.

according to findmymarathon.com (and who could doubt them? ) -

There are 746 marathons scheduled in the United States and Canada in 2014. 680 of these are in the U.S. and 66 in Canada. In 2013, 721 were held, 677 in 2012, and 641 were held in 2011.

746-721-677-641. that's 105 more marathons in 2014 than in 2011. that's a growth rate of 16.4% over the four years. (did i do that math right??)

In 2012 the median number of finishers per marathon was 166 (166 in 2011). The 10 largest marathons accounted for 31% of the total number of marathon finishers in the U.S. and Canada in 2012.

How many people finish a marathon each year?

2009 - 493,161 finishers
2010 - 534,846 finishers
2011 - 554,258 finishers
2012 - 529,474 finishers
2013 - 583,564 finishers

october has the most marathons, with 116 in 2014. it's the only month in triple digits. the day in 2014 with the most marathons was sunday, 12 october 2014, when there were 26 marathons scheduled.

the median entry fee is $75. i am doing my part to bend that curve, as i'd consider $75 a bargain. i am more concerned about time and place than money, and that explains everything you need to know about my personal finances.

look at this little tidbit:

In 2013 50,304 people finished the New York City Marathon. Canada's largest marathon was the Ottawa Marathon with 4,803.

the NY marathon is the USA's largest, so this tells us more about the USA-canada dichotomy than it does about marathoning, but still - fascinating, amirite?

2013 marathons in order of number of finishers...

New York City Marathon -- 50,304
Chicago Marathon -- 38,883
Marine Corps Marathon -- 23,382
Los Angeles Marathon -- 23,006
Honolulu Marathon -- 22,089
Walt Disney World Marathon 20,734
Boston Marathon -- 17,580
Philadelphia Marathon -- 10,913
Twin Cities Marathon -- 8,856
Portland Marathon -- 6,958

here's a question: why do they repeat "Marathon" on every row? i mean, it's a website about marathons and the setup to the chart indicates that it is about marathons. are people going to think, suddenly, that the population of boston is 17,580? that 17,580 people in boston purchased eggs last week? i mean, durr.

The Newfoundland Provincial Marathon in St. Johns, NL is the farthest east and the Kauai Marathon in Poipu, HI is the farthest west. The Equinox Marathon in Fairbanks, AK is the northernmost and the Kona Marathon in Kailua-Kona, HI is the southernmost.

hawaii is the southernmost and westernmost state, so having marathons there at all is going to sort of favor their placement.

The coldest marathon in the United States is Willow Winter Solstice Marathon in Willow, AK with an average race day temperature of only 15F/-9C.

yikes. 15F?? i used findmymarathon.com's search tool to locate marathons in the USA with average temperatures between 45F and 55F. there are 254! so, i split the difference and chose 50F. there are 20 marathons whose average temp is 50F.

Bass Pro Shops Marathon -- Springfield MO -- November
Eisenhower Marathon -- Abilene KS -- April
Little Rock Marathon -- Little Rock AR -- March
Dawn of the Dunes Marathon Gary IN -- October
Wisconsin Marathon -- Kenosha WI -- May
Porcupine Mountains Trail Marathon Silver City MI -- September
Virginia Creeper Marathon Abingdon VA -- March
Pilot Mountain Pay Back Marathon Pilot Mountain NC -- February
Salt Lake City Marathon -- Salt Lake City UT -- April
Huntsville Marathon -- Huntsville UT -- September
Richmond Marathon -- Richmond VA -- November
Empire State Marathon -- Syracuse NY -- October
Hambletonian Marathon -- Goshen NY -- October
Lake Lowell Marathon -- Nampa ID -- April
Downtown River Run Marathon Reno NV -- April
Earth Rock Run Marathon -- North Andover MA -- April
Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon Susanville CA -- October
Maine Coast Marathon -- Biddeford ME -- May
Golden Gate Trail Run -- Rodeo Beach CA -- February
Blooms to Brews Marathon Woodland WA -- April

blooms to brews will be new in 2015, but of the existing ones, lake lowell had the least average number of finishers at 46. this website only lists certified marathons, and that's a pretty low count for a certified race. isn't it? maybe certification is meaningless.

let's say, for the sake of argument, that i could get to nampa, idaho, in april. what would i find? according to findmymarathon.com a loop of rolling hills. well. that's hellish. entry fee is below average at $69, and stunningly, they offer no pace groups! in 2012, they had 63 finishers, in 2013, 47, and in 2014, 44. hmm... fewer and fewer, smaller and smaller.

i searched findmymarathon.com for one of my personal favourites, the lansing marathon. the mean race day day temp is listed as 48F, which sounds great, but in my experience isn't realistic. the early reg is listed as $100, and in my experience, that is correct. damn expensive marathon and, in my experience, damn cheap medal.

according to the site, in 2012, lansing had 406 finishers. in 2013, 363, and in 2014, 246. i guess that explains a bit about why there won't be a 2015, but in my experience, there wasn't a perceivable course-crowding difference from 2013 to 2014. in my experience, part of the appeal of lansing is the elevation -- the elevation chart looks like a graph of a pancake.

The typical weather for race day, coupled with a mostly flat course with few turns, can be conducive for a PR or Boston Qualifier (BQ).

this, in my experience, is false.

05 December 2014


heard chris rock today on NPR, talking about his new movie, standup comedy, and how he defines success.

talking about stand-up, he said when standup comedians get really good, they are pressured, encouraged, cajoled to give up standup and start making movies or maybe a television show. it's like standup is only the means, a mere stepping stone.

I mean, I guess all comedians, that happens. I mean, standup's the only career like that, where once you get really big at it, people kind of encourage you not to do it. Some of our greatest standups don't do standup anymore. Steve Martin's one of the greatest standups to ever live — the guy doesn't do standup. Eddie Murphy, amazing — Michael Keaton, who's great in Birdman, was, like, a really great standup comedian. So many guys don't do it anymore.

one thing that seems true to me about standup is that it must be difficult. not the actual standing up and talking. that doesn't seem so hard. what seems hard is:
...the stress caused by the risk of bombing.
...the ego-smushing blow of actually bombing.
...developing the material.

standup requires fresh, relevant, funny, unique, original material. you'd have to be on your toes, developing and testing material constantly. nothing is tireder than yesterday's comedy. no one wants to hear the same joke twice. well, unless it's ron white doing "tater salad". that shit is just fun-nay every time.

there's no sampling in standup. original material only. generating all that original material must be difficult, and then... the audience will use it right up and ask for more. like working for hours to create a meal, only to have it eaten and gone in a few minutes. steve and michael and eddie and the others probably just got tired of all that work.

chris went on to say he tries to keep up with the standup, not let that part of himself go.

I try to stay with it, and I try to stay in contact with comedians, just keep comedians in my life, because comedians are their own species. If you get away from them, especially as a comedian, I think it's dangerous.

that's laudable, to stay in touch with the mindset of working to create original stuff. when he says it's "dangerous" to get away from comedians, i think he's talking about the good influence of comedians' work ethic.

he's also talking about the irreverence, the political incorrectness.

Hey, everything's funny — in the right context and done by the right person — everything.

the crucial point to "everything's funny" is the same point is most of life: context. contexto es todo. context is everything. a comedian has to be aware of his surroundings, his audience. if you assault people with words, and they laugh, that's comedy. if they don't laugh, it's no longer comedy: it's assault. funny is in the eye of the beholder.

it's like - and we've talked about this before here in this space - grass is not green per se, because color is not an innate feature. grass is green in the presence of the most common forms of light in our world, with sunlight being right up there, because greenness is a function of the biological composition of grass and the presence of the correct sort of light.

grass is not green at night. words are not comedy if no one is laughing.

but chris wants to stay around the irreverence even when no one is laughing, and i think that's a good thing, as important a thing as the work ethic. being able to appreciate the humour all around us keeps us sane. i don't want to take life or myself too seriously.

that's one component of how i'd define success.

chris says:

But most days I get to, like, spend really good time with my kids. That's what success is, to me.

i guess that's a pretty good definition of success, too.

28 November 2014

coveting january

gifting pain and social pressure.
puffy coat for cooling weather.
dull work parties with bright lights.
shorter days and longer nights.
chilly wind and frozen rain.
shivering knees and static cling.
one lost mitten, layered clothes.
itchy sweater, runny nose.
short of cash and long of doubt.
so much hurrying about.
waiting, pushing, smile and sigh.
as your life keeps ticking by.
cling to simple things and pure.
yet complications still endure.
keep your cup of christmas cheer.
i'll see you in the clean, new year.

12 November 2014

wish you were here.

the light grey sky is close, seems that if i reach straight up, i could brush my fingertips against its cool smoothness. in the high 30s, the temps are 10-12 degrees below my preference, but the wind is soft. i've forgone sunglasses in favour of allowing my overworked eyeballs the brisk refreshment of fresh air. they thank me by tearing up.

congratulating myself on having remembered both hat and mittens, i set off. three-quarters into the first mile of three, i ponder why tights are called such, as mine drift off my waist and puddle behind my knees. my as-yet-unacclimated sweat glands elect not to participate.

rounding the corner at the painfully new party pub (which has been specifically designed to look like an established party pub, bathed in false antiquing of the sort bottled and sold in hobby shops), i head up the hill.

the air gradually fills with the scent of roasting pumpkin and, traversing the sidewalk outside the brewery, i envision burly brewers tainting a pure golden ale with squashy spice.

further on, construction workers taking lunch in the refuge of their trucks watch me through rolled-up windows. it's like they're watching me on television, except that i am watching back. i negotiate a small obstacle course - a surveyor's tool on a tripod, an empty tripod, a tall orange cone.

topping the hill at mile 1.5, i tip down the alley to loop the block and make the return trip, revisiting each sight from the reverse, and from the other side of the road.

04 November 2014

when. i. run.

when i run i like to wear
golden ribbons in my hair.
run in circles. i don't care.
when. i. run.

when i run i like to sing
nonsense songs 'bout anything.
miles are longer than they seem.
when. i. run.

when i run i like to move
left foot, right foot. in the groove.
all my edges become smooth.
when. i. run.

30 October 2014

the point where two roads diverge

whilst web surfing the other day, i ran across the site of a vocational high school in ohio. i was sort of fascinated because i have been saying we need those around here. yesterday i was discussing this website with my father and sharing my thoughts on how we need this, too, and while i was talking it dawned on me why we don't have vocational high schools around here. it's because this area isn't historically industrial. it's agricultural. the vocational "school" was the farm and any kid who wasn't going on to college would work on the farm.

according to US News and World Report, in an article published in may of 2014, "There are roughly 90 career and technology schools and centers in Pennsylvania, at least 70 vocational high schools each in Ohio and Massachusetts, and similar numbers in other states."

i would bet you a socket wrench that none of those "other states" are below the mason-dixon line.

point 1: vocational training needs to be widespread, not only in northern states.

in the usa as a whole, vocational education is looked down upon - as if it's only fit for students who are financially or behaviourally challenged. that's markedly different from europe where vocational training is viewed as a valid and unremarkably acceptable route. a contributing factor there is that europeans have a history of inescapable class divisions, like -- middle class is middle class, we'll never be royals and whatnot. in the states, we are used to having every opportunity on the table. this makes us more judge-y about the opportunities.

in the usa, all doors are available, but as a general rule of the spacetime continuum, not all can be chosen. so, we look at who goes through which doors and how they flourish or not on the other side, and we compile this info into values we assign to the doors. these values put great weight into the very act of even choosing a door, and we use these values and the door-weight to judge the people who go through each different door. your choices in europe, a limited number of doors are available and they all go back to your family's meager thatched hut. seriously, though, taking germany as an example: kids in germany take a test in middle school and depending on how they score, they are sorted into their next level of education. i don't really know for sure, but i'd venture to guess that everyone's pretty much okay with this or in this day and age - if this system wasn't working for them in an overall life-is-good sort of way, they'd all up and leave germany.

although i am not advocating reducing opportunity, i do think we could stand to be a bit less judge-y. not everyone is cut out for college. it's not a better or lesser thing. it's just different.

point 2: vocational training is not only as beneficial as, it is in many cases more so than, college prep.

point 3: we DO test, after high school. ever heard of a little thing called the SAT? not all the kids who were forced through college prep make the cut. how do we presume they are better off for having found this out after high school rather than before?

point 4: i heard on npr yesterday on my way home that there's a manufacturing plant in south bend, indiana that has a dozen openings they can't fill because they can't find skilled machinists. their problem is only growing because the skilled labor workforce is aging and new skilled labor isn't coming along behind to fill the gap.

point 5: it's not just factories. the medical field needs skilled labor, and we could use more well-trained auto mechanics, carpenters, and audio-video techs.


so there you have it.

so i have made some points.

so what do you think?

20 October 2014

shameless coffee jackets

shameless nuns in long dark pews go shoeless.
through the night their meditations clueless.

wax in puddles on the floor.
candles burning for the poor.
no one claims them anymore.

restless men in coffee shops wear jackets.
through the day they ponder what the fact is.

milk in puddles on the floor.
pitchers leaking at the pour.
no one claims them anymore.

restless nuns in coffee pews wear jackets.
shameless men in long dark shops go factless.

waxy milk in puddles on the floor.
leaking candles burning for the poor.

i will claim them. mine. forevermore.

18 October 2014

sunny side up

apple and facebook started offering egg freezing to employees. that is to say, as part of the employee benefit package, female employees of apple and facebook can now choose one of the most radical forms of procrastination -- to have their eggs harvested, frozen, and stored for later use -- and the company will pay for it.

essentially, these tech giants have removed the need to muss up a perfectly good career with a child.

points to ponder...

does someone who can procrastinate in such an elemental way really make a good employee?

do these companies only offer egg freezing to female employees? what about employee spouses or partners?

egg growth, harvest, and freezing pushes $10,000 per session, and storage is in the $500 per year range. are these companies matching that dollar benefit to women who make other choices about family building, such as adoption or natural birth? what about the dreaded a-word...?

i learned about this new offering from apple and facebook (and how other companies offer the same) while listening to an interview on npr. the expert being interviewed seemed convinced young women won't want to take advantage of this benefit because the process of egg growth and harvesting itself is difficult and fraught with emotion.


i am sure the vast majority of current data on egg storage is based on women whose health differs significantly from these young, enthusiastic tech employees. why? because this process has not been opened to "normal" young women in quite this way. the process has been reserved for women who are facing loss of fertility through cancer treatment, or who are not tremendously fertile and therefore undergoing in vitro fertilization, or who are wealthy enough to make this choice.


opening up the possibility of affordable egg freezing is a bit of a sea-change in the world of fertility and family building choices. young, healthy women - who aren't under pressure from age, illness, or infertility - making a simple choice about delaying childbearing. what's emotionally fraught about that? seems this choice would actually relieve emotional pressure brought on by listening to one's biological clock tick-tick-tick.


during the npr story, they were debating whether apple and facebook were being more friendly towards female employees, or less. the "expert" seemed convinced that this benefit was 100% woman friendly. i 100% disagree. although the women in question may enjoy the benefit, the companies' motivation is decidedly not woman friendly. i mean, c'mon. this is a decision made by men who think women will be better employees if choices and complications are removed from their lives so that they can focus on work.


i find this to be a very big deal, wonder what you think, and look forward to seeing the long-range outcomes for society.

15 October 2014

maybe i just need to enroll in a physics class.

remember that research paper i was going to write? well, i found that there are several fine reference books on the very subject, which would be good if i wanted to summarize other people's research, but i sort of wanted to write something original... and since the original things have been written... well... i sort of lost my motivation.

not that i even know how to go about doing original research on the history of organized sports for elementary school girls. i read the ymca's "about us" web page, but they didn't exactly specify when they transitioned programs for girls from gray-y cheer squad to soccer. and... that was the extent of my research.

when i was in college, i did this stellar research paper on types of commercials shown during children's cartoons. i literally taped literally hours of cartoon shows, fast forwarded through the shows, and tabulated commercial subject matter. of course, i compiled some of the existing research and whatnot, but the core of the work were these tabulation charts and graphs -- all recorded and plotted and drawn by hand on quadrille paper, mind you. by hand because (in case you didn't pick up on this from the fact that i literally taped the television shows) this research took place back in the day, before literally everyone had a computer at their disposal.

measure. notate. compare. conclude. chart. report.

a reasonable person would sort of think i had enough work at work without making up work hobbies, but there's something rewarding about actual first-hand data collection.

09 October 2014


they used to call it vacation time and it worked like this:

salaried employees and hourly employees both get vacation time, and vacation time is used to take vacations.

if hourly employees need personal time to take care of personal business such as going to the doctor, or picking up their kids on an unexpected snowday, or whatnot, they either clock out and go without pay or they use vacation time. if salaried employees need personal time, they simply go - no clocking out, no need to use vacation time.

the tradeoff, of course, is that when hourly employees work overtime, they get paid for those hours, usually at a rate higher than their normal hourly rate (e.g.: "time and a half"). salaried employees don't get paid any extra for overtime, which means there essentially is no overtime when you are a salaried employee.

when you're hourly, the more you work, the more you get paid per hour. when you're salaried, the more you work, the less you get paid per hour.

i have never met a salaried employee who put in less than a 40-hour week, and i have also never met one who resented the arrangement. knowing that if they consistently put in 45, 50, 60 hours each week, they could occasionally leave early to see their kid's soccer game.

when i worked hourly, i put in all the hours i could, and i was fine with it. knowing that i could have that much effect on my paycheck was empowering.

so. that's how it used to operate.

now, where i work, we are all on PTO - paid time off. vacation? PTO. leaving early for a facial? PTO. doctor visit? PTO. mom sick? PTO. we are all in the same boat - hourly and salary alike. PTO for all!


hourly employees still get credit for overtime in the form of (generally higher than norm) payment for their time. salaried employees get no credit for overtime -- worked 60 hours last week and want to leave early this wednesday to go biking with friends? PTO.

ergo: the incentive for salaried employees to put in long hours is gone. don't even start with your "love the company" bullshit because no one (save entrepreneurs, who don't get paid at all) loves the company they work for that much. people want a little give & take - i do a little extra for you, you compensate me accordingly. people want to feel that their efforts are noticed and appreciated.

i'm on PTO tomorrow and monday. last tuesday when i went for a facial in mid-afternoon, i turned in a PTO card. but yesterday when i went for a longer-than-usual lunchtime run, i took my time with the run and the shower and the whatnot. they can have my obvious PTO. i will comply with the letter of the law. but if they won't give me what i think i deserve, i will take it.

here's a shamelessly ripped-off cartoon to illustrate my point.

07 October 2014

oy! gerroff me lawn!

sometime before the song was recorded in 1972, steven tyler wrote "dream on". mr tyler was born in 1948, so he would have been 24 years in '72, and younger than 24 when he wrote the song.

The past is gone... it went by like dusk to dawn.

paul mccartney's song "yesterday" was released in 1965. mr mcartney was born in 1942, so in 1965, he'd have been 23. the song bounced around a bit before its release, so one surmises he was younger than 23 when it was written.

Yesterday love was such an easy game to play. Now I need a place to hide away.

jackson browne, like mr tyler, was born in 1948, and he wrote the song "these days" in early 1965, when he'd have been 16.

These days I seem to think a lot about the things that I forgot to do, and all the times I had the chance to. Don't confront me with my failures -- I had not forgotten them.

barry gibb, born in 1946, along with his younger twin brothers robin and maurice (born in 1949) had written "i started a joke" in time to have it on an album in 1968, when he was 22 and they were 19.

I finally died, which started the whole world living.

the incredible thing about all this isn't purely the writing of songs. i mean, hell, taylor swift can churn out the songs, and she's, what, 12? 13? children write poetry and songs all the time. it's not that unusual.

what's unusual here is the depth of feeling, the empathy, the foresight expressed by teen boys and young men. i mean, there's the decline of civilization right there, in a nutshell: kids nowadays are about as deep as a mudpuddle on a sunny day.

even ms swift, who is undeniably prolific, only goes so far as to bad mouth her exes and deny her critics. i'm not saying standing up for oneself isn't worthy. of course it is. the thing is, though, why stop there? why not dig a bit deeper than the shallow grave in which society is attempting to bury your standing-up-ness alive?

i'll tell you why not - because it's a waste of time. there's nothing there.

back in the day, kids read books, talked to intergenerational families and neighbors, went to church.

no, i am not going to get started on church because there's a box of pandora worms if ever there was one. it's just that church is exemplary of a shared experience that encourages people to think outside themselves. school, also, used to encourage kids to see themselves as part of a whole, not as the entire self-contained whole. and, nothing says, "whole" like multiple generations of the family all under the same roof.

the problem is, we've gotten busy catering to the self-esteem of each individual child, telling each child how important they are, that we forgot to tell them that the other children matter, too.

05 October 2014

stars are just like us!

so we're watching jimmy fallon the other night and jennifer garner is on. she's bubbly and sweet and cute and funny and just seems 100% normal. she is, of course, not "normal"... being a television and movie star and the wife of academy award winner ben affleck.

but still.

she does this hilarious impression of ol' ben -- just like any wife would. well, any wife who is capable of being hilarious. she completely mocks him in a totally loving way. i know you know what i mean. if he had been there, he would have been laughing too.

she goes on to tell the story of when she, ben, and their kids had lice. lice! the shampooing, the piles of laundry, the hassle, the annoyance, the itching. she tells it all in a hilarious and very relatable way.

the best part is when she and jimmy are just cracking up over the story, and she turns to jimmy and goes, "stars are just like us!" HA! and A-HA!

i mean, she is a star. jimmy is a star. of course stars are like just like us when we are stars -- and that's the point. she owns her stardom. it's immensely appealing when people own who they are. i mean, humility and whatnot, sure, that's all good, but false humility is gross.

it's gross because it's false, it's self-denial. you're a star, we know you're a star, we know you know you're a star. what's the point in denying it? that sort of self-denial is usually designed to elicit praise. don't make me praise or reassure you - you're a star for godsakes.

jennifer owns her stardom - doesn't deny it - but at the same time, she's not saying her stardom put her above anyone. she is simply taking ownership of who she is. her claiming her stardom defuses its power to make her different than us.

AND, she IS "just like us", sitting there telling a story about having lice, of all things. actually, by telling a lice story, she's more "us" that most of us will even admit to. there are normal, everyday, non-stars who would never admit to having had lice or their children having had lice.

there's no duplicity. her words align with her actions. she claims her stardom while simultaneously demonstrating normalcy.

stars are just like us? hell, in this case at least, the world would be a better place if we were more like the star.

29 September 2014

almond cookies

almond cookies on amber plates.
auburn hair across her face.
autumn breeze. it's getting late.
and she wonders where you are. where you are.

pine trees green around the year.
paper airplanes. you are here.
pealing bells. you disappear.
and still she wears your sweater.

woodsmoke wafting in the wind.
she's wandering down that path again.
water cannot wash her skin.
you are here. you're gone again.

and still she wears your sweater.

22 September 2014


yank, yank, yank.

strong twisted roots resist yet
in the end they're out.


things that want to grow.
things that (we) want to grow.

and so we sit in judgement over plants.

"approbate the appropriate."
"opprobriate the odd."

dislodge sycamore saplings.
evict viney clover.
pick poke sallat.

and so we sit in judgement over plants.

cultivate sturdy nasturtiums.
grow profuse roses.
plant pretty pansies.

and so
we sit
in judgement

16 September 2014

building birdhouses

so i'm here at starbucks where the people come with their books and highlighters and spirals and whatnot. there's one guy here with a calculator and notebook and his computer open and his noise-cancelling headphones and he just randomly dropped a big pink eraser on the floor and grabbed it back up.

see, that's what i want. books and papers and a big pink eraser that i sort of absently knock to the floor when i reach across the books and the papers to pick up my highlighter, or reach for a sip of coffee, or change the music coming into my noise-cancelling headset.

okay, obvs, i could purchase those items. so it's not simply the having of them. no, that's not all. it's the having of them AND the using of them. but... durr, i could acquire those items and use them. i could get some paper and pencil to write stuff and then erase it and i could get a book in which i could highlight passages. but that's not the point, either, is it? no, it is decidedly not. it's not the having of them AND the using of them for their own sake. the point is to have them and use them for a sake other than the mere having and using.

what's the point of having a hammer if you're not going to drive nails and what's the point of driving nails if you're not going to build a birdhouse? there's got to be something more, something to give meaning to the tools. you've got to have a purpose. it's not about having a hammer and it's not about driving nails. it's about building a birdhouse.

books. paper. pencils. noise-cancelling headphones. a highlighter. a pocket calculator. a big pink eraser. of what purpose are these tools? these are the tools of learning. add index cards, and you have the tools of a good old fashioned research project. a "term paper" as it were.

i wonder if i am capable of this... i once was quite good at it. can i, am i still able, to write a term paper?

i guess the first step is to pick a topic.

Title IX Trickle-down:
How the Summer of '72 Changed Opportunities
for Elementary School Girls
to Play Organized Sports

what do you think?

i think i need to purchase some note cards!

14 September 2014

mason jars in the moonlight

mason jars in the moonlight...
porch swinging, it's a hot night.
you and me baby, we're all right,
all right.

katydids in the sycamore...
breeze knocking at the screen door.
you and me baby, we're forever more,
ever more.

twenty-five years is a real long time.
lot of cups of coffee, lot of clothes on the line,
lot of lay me down to sleep, lot of rise and shine.
twenty-five years is a real long time.

train whistle in the far hill...
katydids cede to the whippoorwill.
you and me baby, we're together still,
together still.

29 August 2014

skins of the snake

the other day i was jogging down through the college district. it's that time of year - lots of dewy-eyed freshmen and their directionally challenged parents wandering the district. it's like they've never walked on sidewalks before. i mean, i know they SEE me. they have to SEE me. why can't they just budge over a tidge and let me safely pass?

but i digress.

i was once a dewy-eyed college freshman, and one among my myriad regrets is not taking advantage of the inherent chance to reinvent myself that starting a new phase of life presents. i managed to shift my faux-punksterism into faux-countryism, but that's about it. i didn't change my name, my wardrobe, my thinking about myself. i completely missed the rebranding opportunity.

before that, i'd missed the same opportunity when i started a new school in 9th grade. and, before that, when i'd started a new school in 7th. and before that when i started a new school in 5th. in 1st grade, i did manage to brand myself "the smart kid" and THAT stuck like fucking glue.

i nearly missed the chance when i entered the working world, but i woke up a couple years in and dropped "ace" for "aceifer", which is my full and formal name. i mean, ace is fine and all here, but i wanted to be more grown up at work. i just came in one day and announced that everyone should call me "aceifer" from now on.

i haven't made any equally drastic changes, but i haven't completely stagnated. i've phased-out-phased-in new wardrobes -- managed over the years to trade pumps for keds, skirts for skorts. i like to buy clothes for work at the golf store now. and, like gradually changing my wardrobe, i've chipped away at my tries-too-hard attitude and acquired a doesn't-have-to-try confidence.

it wasn't until i was out of college altogether that i realised i'd missed a golden opportunity to reinvent myself freshman year, but now, looking back, i know that sudden reinvention isn't a real thing. the most i could have done would have been to have enacted a bunch of changes all at once, but those changes would have had to have been part of a plan.

reinvention isn't random. reinvention is a choice that we make when we're done with ourselves. the reason i realised after college that i'd missed the chance to reinvent is because after college, i was done with myself. when i was a freshman, when i had that chance, i wasn't done with being the person i was. i still had some things to do with that person.

so, now.

now i am who i am because i have reinvented myself along the way, discarding the selves i was done with like a snake shedding skins.

28 August 2014

picture pages!

this is called a rambutan. my boss got it from her mani-pedi girl when the fruit truck showed up during a mani-pedi session. rambutan is a tropical fruit. the hairy outside feels like eyelashes. seeing this for the first time, i felt sort of small... like... amazed at how little i know of the world and what's in it.

to eat the rambutan, you peel the hairy skin off to reveal the fruit. it's fairly easy to peel - you don't need a knife or anything - but it's still a lot of work for a tiny fruit.

this is the tiny rambutan fruit. it's nicer to look at than it is to eat. i mean, it's not bad to eat, just nothing special. it's sort of a lime-coconut-kiwi flavour with the texture of a peach. i can only assume the flavour is richer when it's fresh, because while i can see someone eating this for sustanance, i can't really see anyone getting all excited over it. but still, it's quite translucently beautiful.

this is apparently a sought-after collectible colander. back in the day when we first moved into this house, my bff gave me a cutting board, colander, and [something i can't remember] set for my new kitchen. i still use the colander and cutting board, and believe me, it's not but a few short years later... anyway, i tried to find this company on the internet, but ol' shamrock-neatway of minneapolis doesn't seem to exist anymore. i found a "shamrock" company and emailed them to see if they are the same company, but haven't heard back.

this is a curly grape vine. i think sometimes we forget that grapes grow on vines. i know it seems obvious, but still. i think we all think they come in plastic bags and that the grapes are stuck on sticks in a uniform way. i like to be reminded that food comes from plants and plants are random.

speaking of random... CARROT LEGS!

23 August 2014

progressive ablutions

the other night, i slept with my contacts in.

i didn't do it on purpose. i hadn't been out all night partying. it was just a normal night and i didn't mean to, but still... i tumbled into bed with my contacts in.

i mean, i guess i did because i woke up the next day with them in. it's possible someone put them on my eyes while i was sleeping, but occam's razor and whatnot -- most likely, i forgot to take them out.

i've worn glasses since i was 9 and contacts since i was 16. not to give to much away, but it's been a "while" since i was 16. in all those years, i have never had the kind of contacts you can sleep in. mine have always been the put-em-in-in-the-morning-take-em-out-at-night sort.

back in the day, you got one pair of contacts to last you an entire year. that was it - one pair. and to make matters worse, the cleaning system involved tiny little lens cases with tiny little cages that had tiny little latches. try operating that sort of machinery with uncorrected vision. now, try doing it with your one and only, yearly pair of contact lenses hanging in the balance. those tiny little latches just loved to catch the edge of a contact.

if you tore the lens, you had to go back to the eye doctor and get another. and, they weren't cheap. i can get 3 pair of lenses now for $13.95 from the online lens dispensary. back in the day, you couldn't get one pair for less than $100. now i generally have several pair just sitting around waiting their turn.

so, lenses are cheaper now and taking care of them is easier. no more tiny little cages with tiny little latches. now you just throw them into some multi-purpose solution and go on with your life.

and, that's what i do every night. i just throw them into some multi-purpose solution and go on with my life. i have the same prescription in both eyes so i don't even have to watch if i am putting the right lens in the side of the case with the R on it. easy peasy lemon squeezy.


if it's this easy, how did i leave them in?


this particular pair was DONE and i planned to throw them out. yes, this makes it even worse to have slept in them.

due to our having remodeled the house, my evening ablutions do not take place all in one room. it's like a 70s progressive dinner only it's ablutions. first, i remove my contacts and brush my teeth in one room, and then i go to a complete other room to pee, and then i go to another room to enter beddie-bye. in the room in which i remove my contacts and brush my teeth, there is no trash bin. because i planned to throw this particular pair in the trash, i sort of needed to be in a room with a trash bin when i took them out of my eyes. the room in which i pee has a trash bin, so i thought, i'll brush my teeth and then when i go pee, i will take my contacts out and throw them away while i am sitting there.

good plan, ace!

apparently, by the time i progressed from the first place to the second, i had completely forgotten the plan. maybe I should have written it down. 

13 August 2014

all the cool kids are sociopaths.

so. robin williams hung himself with a belt in the bedroom #cluegame and the community at large is "shocked and saddened".

huh. shocked? really?

i was more shocked that my tooth cracked today while i was eating crackers. CRACKERS, for godsakes. it's both shocking and the best pun of the day.

now. i will admit i'd have been shocked if ol' robin had hung himself from the sycamore in the front yard, but hell. c'mon people. suicide in its own right is simply not shocking. suicide of a comedian is not only not shocking, it's par for the course. it's a 3 out of 5. it's so not shocking, it's borderline expected.

but still we will head into the hand wringing and head shaking. "WHY WHY WHY." again, c'mon people. how can anyone be surprised anymore that manically cheerful people are covering up a soul whose terrain has been plowed with salt? i mean, really. tears of a clown and whatnot.

humour is a self-defense mechanism which keeps people at a distance from the safely guarded inner self because if anyone saw the inner self, they'd reject the person altogether.

sure, that's one theory.

personally, though, i use humour as a self-defense mechanism to keep people at a distance from the safely guarded inner self because if anyone saw the inner self, they'd adore me all the more and be consumed with an insatiable need to be near me.

and, i just can't have that.

but i digress.

robin williams hung himself with a belt in the bedroom #cluegame and the community at large is "shocked and saddened".

saddened, huh?

i find myself saddened at the darwin awards. you know those stupid people who pull coca-cola machines over on themselves and whatnot? i am sad for those poor stupid people who didn't see death coming. i am sad for the people driving down the interstate just in everyday mode, heading to work or a picnic or a funeral #ironic, who are killed by a semi driver who fell asleep. i am sad for the fisherman who falls in the water and drowns. i am sad for winnebago owners who go to sleep with the space heater on and wake up to find themselves dead of carbon monoxide poisoning.

not seeing death coming, that's sad. setting about to cause your own death isn't sad so much as selfish.

but, still. if you were someone who knew robin personally, you were married to him, you had worked with him, you met him frequently for a coffee and suchwise, well then i can see how you'd be sad to suddenly no longer have that. but the rest of us "knew" him through his movie roles, so our relationship with him is not diminished one iota. how can that be something that saddens anyone?

10 August 2014

it's only august...!

i heard the other day that to change your attitude -- and perhaps those of the folks around you -- you could, instead of saying: "it's august already?!", say: "it's only august...!" like, in the first case, you're all bummed over half the year being gone. in the second case, you're realising how much of the year is left. how much of your life has gone, how much of your life has left. how far your glass is empty, how far your glass is full.

so. it's only august...!

this summer i:
+ experienced a broken, then healed, wrist.
+ moved out of the house... then moved back into the house.
+ got a promotion. (there's no second part to that one.)

i have thought of many things i wished to tell you, but couldn't because
+ it's difficult to type with a broken wrist.
+ my computer was packed.
+ there was no good place to use my computer.
+ i forgot what i wanted to tell you before i even found the time to think about telling you.

many things could cause one to move out of ones house but the only one of those things which is true for me is that i moved out because the house was being remodeled. we had hardwood floors put in throughout the entire house and that's a process which when it's in process renders a house unlivable. we moved in with his mom for a while, and then we moved in with junior and mrs junior and baby junior. during the entire process i had that broken wrist i mentioned, and also ran a marathon, went on two business trips, suffered food poisoning (don't eat the clams in st louis!), spent two weeks at summercamp, and played myriad soccer games.

it's both as much a hassle as it sounds like, and not as much a hassle.

before we got started, we thought we'd be out of the house about two weeks. we ended up out for eight. so, i wore two weeks' worth of clothes for eight weeks, and it really brought home to me how few clothes i need. i mean, there were a some items i missed, would have worked into the rotation, without which i was forced to do laundry more often, but really, it comes down to: hell, girl, how many clothes you need?!? while unpacking the boxes to move back into the house, i was glad to see some of the things, but ended up giving more clothes away.

i missed having my computer. i missed watching 'once upon a time' and 'rizzoli and isles'.

we ate out a lot of meals, and let me tell you how it goes, eating out a lot. at first, it's fun. because eating out is generally something special, when i get to eat out, it's a treat. breakfast out is especially special. so, at first, eating out is swell and neat. but, pretty soon the novelty wears off and it's actually quite a pain. no one does MY breakfast: one hard boiled egg, greek yogurt with peaches, a wheat english muffin with cream cheese. very few places are open for breakfast at 6am. it turns into a chore. but then time passes, as is its wont, and in its passing, time rubs the hard corners off the experience, and eating out becomes easier and easier until it is the default, the way we live life, simply what we do. eating at home seems the difficult chore.

i missed having a banana or a glass of wine when i wanted it. i missed having a comfortable chair.

we decided to ditch nearly all our old furniture. i mean, we're this far in debt, right? might as well go ahead and get new stuff to put in our new-cabinet kitchen and new-floor den. we are still putting things together, and we don't have any kitchen chairs yet, but we do have a kitchen table with two leaves, and a bed and dresser and nightstand (with a nightlight which glows underneath!), and a glass-door cabinet for the television components, and a brown recliner, and a blue sofa on order. we have a new rug by the new dishwarsher and a new soap dispenser beside the new sink in the bathroom. lots and lots and lots of new.

there was a time in my life when i missed having hardwood floors to slide around on, in my sock-feet.

but i don't miss that anymore.


23 July 2014

six-letter words


25 June 2014

ambrosia is in the eye of the beholder.

a waif
so small
so naif
brown hair
in braids
brown eyes
up raised
one palm
up turned
one cent
hard earned
stale bread
day old
hard crust
and cold
"it's yours.
it's free."
"thank you,

22 June 2014

in the aluminum bog

when i was a younger man,
and plywood fish swam free,
we'd catch 'em and skin 'em all we want -
build a house in every tree.

you know trees are made of aluminum -
you know they get cold at night,
but nice little bit of plywood
keeps a body warmed just right.

plywood fish aplenty to build with,
sawed with teeth of diamond dogs,
sealed right up with potato glue -
that was life in th'aluminum bogs.

but life's so different today, son,
hardly anyone lives out here now,
'cept for you and me and your mother,
along our aluminum bough.

all the plywood fish went to houses.
all the diamond dogs went to saws.
glue taters won't grow in the dry land
that was once th'aluminum bog.

and that's why we're leaving now, son,
why we're climbing down outta this tree.
there's nothing left here for us --
for you, or your momma, or me.

19 June 2014

a merry funeral pyre

i put a blanket around my heart
it's thick
like your face
and sticky
like paste
and i put it on tight
it'll be there all night
the blanket around my heart

into the woods i go
they're dark
like your face
and sticky
like paste
and the branches are tight
i'll be there all night
into the woods i go

hedgehogs dance round the fire
the little one sings
what a sad joy she brings
flames lick low boughs
it's a forest fire now
hedgehogs dance round the fire

26 May 2014

in case you were wondering...

on 27 april, during a soccer game, my arm was broken.

i don't say, "i broke my arm." because, although my actions led to its being in harm's way, i didn't break my own arm, per se. i've heard enough 'you aren't supposed to play soccer with your hands' comments, so haha you can just skip those. i know i should have headed the ball instead of flinging my arm up to protect my face, but in my defense, i'm quite header-challenged. i'm just notoriously poor at it. pluswise, knowing now that that ball was delivered with bone-breaking power, i am glad i didn't try to head it because i probably would have ended up unconscious.

so, instead of successfully heading the ball, or the more likely, receiving a concussion, i sacrificed my arm to what's known in orthopaedic circles as the 'nightstick fracture' due to its proclivity for being acquired by rioters protecting their faces from the blows of a billy-club.

of course, i went immediately to the doctor... in a world where immediately means 2 road trips, 1 marathon, and 12 days later. in my defense, i could not imagine the bone was broken. it was slowly but surely healing - pain, swelling, bruises all subsiding. but, i just didn't think it was 'right' and i didn't want to be one of those people who never regains full range of motion because they never had the sense to have it checked out.

so i went and it was indeed fractured, but in a way you could barely see on the xray. i'd been lucky, really, that the bone hadn't been displaced and that healing had begun. the suited me up with a hard splint - as opposed to a cast - so that i could remove it as needed.

when i went back this week for a two-week checkup, the xray looked tons worse and the doc actually seemed a bit surprised. he asked if i'd hit it, which i had not. he said the displacement is well within tolerance, that he could see lots of new bone growth, and he wasn't concerned, but that i'll probably have a bump when it heals. i don't mind bumps, so i don't care about that, but i blame the splint for being malformed, so i'm probably gonna sue for malpractice.

haha! no, i'm not.

or... am i??

~~~this post brought to you by the one-handed typist.~~~

07 May 2014

the racketeer

a long solo car trip can be boring. to help make my latest more palatable, i decided to purchase a book on CD. i'm thinking having someone tell me a story while i drive will make the time just melt away.

the selection came down to a crime thriller by an unfamiliar author -- used CD, $6 -- a john grisham and maeve binchy -- both $14.99 -- and harry potter & the sorcerer's stone -- $50. okay, i cannot seriously contemplate a $50 option, so HP&SS is out. the crime thriller has some compelling back cover copy and a very compelling $6 pricetag, but i just can't pull the trigger on an author i don't know. so, we're down to grisham v binchy -- the former promising a bit of legal suspense and the latter a not-too-intense family saga. in the end, i selected grisham.

although mr grisham's pattern is predictable, i thought i'd get some of his patented sharp insight into the legal system, and a bit of suspense, all through the eyes of a sympathetic character. he's generally brilliant at revealing plausible connections between plot twists, settings, characters - where none would have seemed possible.

unfortunately, the only thing that came through was the predictability.

suspense = lacking

mr grisham doesn't deliver a mystery that we solve together with the main character. he metes out details that gradually shed light on what's not a mystery at all to the main character. he's not mystery. he's suspense.

whether it was the actual book or the abridgment for audio, 'the racketeer' didn't offer much suspense. the details were either highly predictable or completely deus-ex-machina.

character development = absent

the protagonist wasn't especially sympathetic -- probably because we never had a good grasp on his motive, or perhaps his motive was simply shallow greed. the plot was rote. the supporting cast was flat. nobody changed, grew, or learned. no hidden talents or traits came to light. noone's path diverged in a yellow wood.

insight = shallow

there were no intriguing insights into the legal system. sure, maybe it was the abridgment, but why leave out such juicy details? i usually feel like i've learned some legal trade secret from grisham. in this case, the legal system was mentioned myriad times, but the actual surface was barely scratched.

connections = tenuous

yes. okay. this could have been due to the abridgment. but the connections were so tenuous as to seem manufactured. grisham usually offers these "ah-ha!" moments where you can see how the pieces fit together in a way you'd never imagined they could. they fit, you believe they fit, and you understand how they fit. in this book, it was all punchline and no setup. the pat solution was simply handed over. fait accompli.

conclusion = painful

the conclusion of 'the racketeer' was a terrible combination of predictable and drawn out. there were many places where it would have been fine for the story to have ended -- and a couple where it would have been quite good. instead, the conclusion drew out and out... and out... and out... and in the end, all wrapped up nicely just as you'd have guessed.


without reading the book, i can't know how much to blame on a now-performing-by-rote grisham and how much is the fault of a sloppy abridger. all things considered, it was nice to have a storyteller along for the ride, and i will try it again, but may take a different route. perhaps i'll borrow an unabridged story from the library, or perhaps i'll sign up for audio.com.

What are your thoughts?

04 May 2014

all effort. no payoff.

well. that didn't go quite as i'd planned.

up at 5am, glass of water, cuppa joe, pb sandwich. all goes well #ifyouknowwhatimean. i settle on long sleeve shirt under team singlet with shorts. (this turned out to be a good choice.) we get there in plenty of time to park and use the restroom at the convention center. when we line up, it's slightly cool for shorts, but by the time we've gone a couple miles, i'm warming up and the sun is coming out. i am enjoying having the long sleeves pulled over my hands.

on top of it all this good, we lay down a few miles at even 10's.

all signs point to YES.

but then...

descartes is running the half, so we think we'll have 13 miles together. however, at mile 5 he needs a break, and i don't want to slow down, so this is it. splitsville at mile 5. i feel the beginnings of chest pressure, so i ask him after he finishes to get my inhaler and meet me somewhere with it. i am thinking that a puff will be nice anytime. not desperate, mind you, but nice.

off i go, on my own. (by "my own" i mean with the group descartes and i had been with.) the wind, which had been threatening all morning, picks up around mile 8, growing more and more insistent. by mile 11, i realise the puffer has become a necessity rather than an option, but i remain confident that descartes will find me at some point.

in case you don't know, this is how needing the puffer plays out: more effort translates to less payoff. like i said, we'd been laying down perfect 10's. i carry on with the 10's miles 5-11, and while these are challenging, they are not outrageous. 12 and 13... uh-oh. i am pretty much barely hanging on. #notgood at 13.1 (the half-full split), i am done. i mean, done like toast, not done like i quit the race. haha. be serious. i am halfway finished, right? what would be the point in quitting?? although i am no longer with descartes, i am fairly certain he'll find me with the puffer at or before 18. so, i turn the corner away from the finish and dig in.

and... start laying down 12's. and, 13's. and, other miles i don't even want to contemplate. by now, the wind is fully in play -- a couple times rounding corners, i literally feel my feet pushed out from under me. (no, i don't fall.) when going into the wind, i imagine i look like a cartoon character running, running, and watching my destination shrink away from me.

like i said: all effort, no payoff.

amazingly, miles are still melting away well enough. sure, i am partially delirious, but it's an interesting enough course through lots of different types of neighborhoods and the riverwalk and a park. the most disconcerting occurrence during this episode is the number of people who pass me, going not fast at all, only to disappear over the horizon. ugh.

mile 14, 15, 16... no descartes. 17, 18, 19... by now the pace is getting ridiculous, and still, no descartes. at mile 22, i using the part of my mind that is still awake to consider slowing to a walk when a teensy bit of my mind that - against all odds and despite oxygen debt is focused on something other than myself - tries to distract me with concerns about descartes and why he hasn't met me yet.

so, i ponder descartes's fate and resist walking, but somewhere in the 22, 23 zone i get a little wonky-legged and feel like my left calf is going to cramp, so i give in and walk a bit. from there on in, i give in and walk a bit then dig in and jog a bit. it's actually going okay, for what it is. i am thinking at least i can finish at a respectable jog.

i figure descartes is either fine or someone will pick him up to carry him home. not my worry. at the same time, if descartes wants to show up with the magic puffer that will be fine. even at mile 24, that will be fine. alas, no descartes.

around mile 25, i manage to pass two guys. feels a little cruel since clearly we are all struggling here, but damn, it's a race, #amirite?

between mile 25.5-26 poses a specific challenge - a bricked roadway. i'd been down it once (before the half split off) so i know it's tricky, but i feel like i've got it under control. i probably would have except -- i am thinking the turn to the finish is at (say) avenue "a", but it unfolds that the turn is one more block, avenue "b". i am so discouraged about going another block that i stop to walk. of all the walks i took, this is probably the most disappointing.

i overcome this disappointment by picking up the damn pace (back to, like, my currently stellar 15's or whatever i'm pulling) and i make it to the turn then around the turn then i see the finish banner THEN the freaking WIND literally BLOWS the bloody banner quite literally parallel to the damn road, effectively hiding the finish. typical of today's wind, which has taken my breath and my effort, now it has taken my solace.

i buckle down and put everything into the finish. i am rocking probably a 12 at least. woo. hoo.

suddenly, there are descartes* AND his queen AND beavis grenouille AND regina. beavis grenouille and regina start to run into the road to finish with me (or, before me, because at this point i cannot beat a 4 and 6 yr old) when descartes holds them back because there are some other finishers too close and those two might get in the way. too close?! what?? who knew? clearly, this is some sort of photo finish! and i win!

i mean, i win over those two other pitiful runners who can't even manage to beat pitiful me. probably those same two guys i passed a while back. no, it's not much... BUT I'LL TAKE IT! I AM NOT LAST! (actually, there are quite a few behind us.)

over the mat. stop the watch. down the chute. accept my medal. spot a folding chair. sit. notice the medal and OH MY GOD. this is the cheapest damn medal i have ever seen! last year's was solid, heavy, medal. this... i think it might be plastic. what the hell?! i paid $100 for this god forsaken race, and pluswise - i slaved for HOURS for this award, and IT'S PLASTIC??


all effort. no payoff.

*descartes had had rather a battle of it himself and although he finished long before i, he had not finished in time to meet me at any of the crossings near the start-finish. although i am certain, had he known i'd have delighted in seeing him at 25, he'd have taken himself and the puffer right on down there. in short, forgiven is he.

predawn jitters

6am. i got up at 5 because we're heading to the start at 7 and that's what i do -- get up 2 hrs before, get the engine running #ifyouknowwhatimean. i've had a glass of water and a cup of coffee and a peanut butter sandwich and i've caught up on words with friends and played thru my candy crush lives and at this point alls i really want to do is sit here and drink more coffee. firstly, it's freaking cold as hell in this house and the coffee's hot. but secondly and slightly more weighty... i don't want to face another 5hr marathon. i realise going into it with an attitude of failure doesn't bode well for success, but after so many failures, it's difficult to find my optimism. so i'm back to who cares and fck it and you burn the same calories either way but truth is i care. i care and i don't know why i keep breaking my heart like this.  

03 May 2014

how things look on this side of sunrise.

12 hours from now, i am set to begin my 13th marathon.

of all the ones i have run, this one is simultaneously the most real and least real. i faithfully followed the training plan for this one well -- with just the one injury very near the end. following the training so faithfully lent a gravity to the proceedings and i felt like i was investing in something real. but, at the same time, the training didn't go exactly as i'd have wished, so i felt like i was investing poorly.

a couple days ago, i felt ready, but then i made this long drive and i'm hundreds of miles from home (but, you know, hundreds closer to the event) and so i am hundreds away from all the places i trained and all the people who were with me during training and supported me through training. so it's like THIS is real now and THIS is not training because training was THERE. this new reality isn't about a marathon, so i can't really be running a marathon tomorrow. it doesn't seem real.

on top of this mounting surreality, i am having a wardrobe crisis. the temps tomorrow are forecast to be in the high forties, low fifties. last week when i was finalizing my wardrobe, the forecast was also for sunshine and calm winds. i'd planned to wear shorts and a short sleeve shirt with a team singlet over. as of today, the temps are holding but the skies are to be partly cloudy and the winds up to 15+mph. a partly cloudy and windy 50 degrees is much different than a sunny and calm 50. so, today, i got a pair of compression capris to wear tomorrow. but who gets something new for race day?? so now i am back to the shorts, but maybe throw in a long sleeved shirt - a bonus there being i can pull the sleeves over my hands as needed.

all this mulling and angst is of course just a cover up. my real concern is pace. i think i need to hold something close to a 10mins pace to meet my goal and that a 10mins pace will allow me space to stop for a sip of gatorade or a visit to a portapotty. so, fine, i want a 10mins pace. however, through all this training, i never have gotten a handle for the 10mins pace. i have gone faster and i have gone slower, but the only time i could do 10 was on a treadmill when the machine is doing the work.

so, i guess my mind doesn't want it to be real because my mind doesn't think it's going to work out well, and my mind is concerned that my heart will be broken, so my mind is protecting my heart.

that's all i know from this side of sunrise.

02 May 2014

road trippin'

8 hours is a long time to be driving. BUT YOU GOTTA DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO. day after tomorrow i am running a marathon #yikes and the marathon takes place 8 hours from my home so i drove 8 hours and here i am.

taking a solo road trip means i can control the radio. that's good. BUT, i can't shazam the songs because i'm driving. that's bad. it's also difficult to have a snack or open a drink or find my sunglasses or, you know, take a break and let someone else drive for a little while.

i saw a lot of cool things but i couldn't take pictures because of the whole DRIVING thing. like, there was this Wide Load that looked like a coffin for a giant vampire. and, at the nestle factory there is a huge bunny statue. those were both cool. there were a couple interesting things at the rest area... and yeah, i could have snapped those shots, but c'mon. the entire "document the trip" thing was mussed. i mean, pics of the rest area do not a documentary make.

anyway, i am here and i am on vacation and i will try to keep you filled in, but you know, i am easily distracted.

23 April 2014

running with rorschach.

having never been to kansas, i assumed it would live up to its legendary flatness, but i am here to bear witness to its not so much keeping with that program. at least in these parts, it's quite hilly. this morning's run involved a rise of 300ft over one half-mile stretch, and in case you don't know what sort of incline that is, i'll tell you that in scientific terms, it's known as a "doozy".

this was our third morning here and my first to run outside. our morning class schedule lands my morning run in darkness, so i'd opted for the treadmill, but this morning i thought, what the hell, i'll go out and have a look around.

turns out, i didn't know what i'd been missing.

our hotel is pushed to the back of a large parking lot which is shared with a shabby movie theatre (which carries a surprising a first-run lineup), a small strip of retail (tanning, nails, dry cleaner, 7-11), a mexican place, a "brewhouse", and an endoscopy clinic. beyond the borders of our lot, things are mostly residential with a couple churches, an eyecare clinic, a farm with numerous horses, and an assisted living center all jumbled in for good measure. the zoning laws in kansas are a mystery to me.

at any rate, point is: as far as i could tell, wide and well-lit sidewalks extend throughout the area for several miles in many directions.

that is what i'd been missing.

with lighting like that on the sidewalks, there was no reason to have been inside. plus, for a 5AM sidewalk, it was fairly well travelled. as i was going west, i passed a runner going east. proceeding up the ginormous hill i mentioned earlier, a wizened old wizard of a runner passed me. and -- there was even a guy out walking his dog. that's not bad for a 4 mile (2 out - 2 back) jog at 5AM on a weekday morning in suburban shawnee.

according to my weather channel app, 5AM tomorrow comprises 70% chance of thunderstorms and a 15mph wind. looks like i'll be duking it out with the other treadmillers for my time on the machine.

i do regret not going outside earlier in the week.

elevation profile from the hilly part of this morning's run
masquerading as a rorschach card.

21 April 2014

you can call me queen bee.*

although it'd be wrong to narrow the differences between myself and the late great john denver to just this one thing, it's true that whereas he laid claim to a sometime-in-the-future intention to be leaving on a jet plane and furthermore professed to not knowing when he'd be back again -- i already left (yesterday) and am quite aware that i'll be going back on thursday evening.

four coworkers and i are in shawnee, kansas, to be trained as admins for an enterprise content management system recently acquired by our company. shawnee, kansas, sort of sounds like the boondocks but in reality it's just 30 mins or so out of kansas city. it's more along the lines of a surrounding burg than a completely separate city.

sunday evening around half-five, i hit the freeway for what turned out to be an uneventful jaunt to the airport. thirty mins on the freeway, another five making the obligatory missed-the-economy-parking-entrance circuit of the airport, and a final ten surveying the economy lot like a hawk making lazy circles in the sky. when i'd located the perfect parking spot to entrust with the care of my dear sweet little car, i left her and boarded a shuttle on which i was the sole passenger from economy to terminal.

click here for shuttle ride vid.

it's not much to look at because i was attempting to be stealth, so... it's basically a vid of the seat cushion. BUT THAT'S NOT THE POINT! turn up the sound. that's the shuttlebus driver singing!

(you might have to download the vid and then play it. i don't have a streaming vid server #sosorry. also, that voice isn't me trying to compete with his lovely vocals - it's his dispatch radio.)

the old guy's proficiency at operating the shuttle bus like a professional entertainer -- complete with singing and with comically delivered shuttle stop announcements -- made me suspect he once hosted the train ride from grinder's switch to the el paso station. #opryland #goodtimes

traffic a the TSA checkpoint was light - about 20 or 30 of us in all, maneuvering through the various stiles and gates, removing our shoes as we went, taking out laptops for inspection. after my turn in the x-ray machine, the agents pulled me aside for a pat down... i had forgotten i had a chapstick in my pocket. the agent informed me: there's something in your right side pocket. i said, yeah - it's a chapstick. she was like, please remove it slowly. HAHA. what the hell, TSA. it's a damn chapstick. settle down.

i am a fan of getting to the airport early, and since TSA couldn't hold me for the chapstick #rolleyes, i had time to spare for a starbucks and a snack before meeting my coworkers at the gate. the passenger load was light, so when i took a window seat and a coworker took the aisle, we had the middle seat free and clear.

my favourite part of flying is take off. landing makes me a bit nervous, and the parts when we're way-away up in the air (although miraculous!) don't do much to impress. taking off reminds me of the skyride #oprylandredux with its gentle yet forceful push.

up-up-up and away!

we launch into the night sky, our steep trajectory quickly putting distance between us and the endless black velvet landscape, pocked orange by a million sodium vapor streetlamps, each thoughtfully positioned to drive back the night from its alloted portion of the teeming population which is now completely invisible to us. the plane dips heavily into a sharp left, coming about from a north-facing takeoff to head due west, heaving her awkward bulk about on the tip of a down-pointed wing... like a hippo performing ballet.

*kansas city ~> royals ~> lorde ~> queen bee

18 April 2014

and so it begins.

we've been working on a remodel since the day we met with our first contractor a couple years ago. mike, a 6'4" cajun who lacked punctuality and wasn't particularly forthcoming with specifics, made up for these shortcomings #tallshorthaha with sheer enthusiasm. he'd exude excitement like a puppy peeing all over the kitchen floor. #gross we'd met with him a few times and were ready to start placing materials orders, when mike announced that luke bryan (then, the recent winner of some sort of up-and-coming artist award) had hired mike to build luke's new house.

goodbye, first guy.

just before the door firmly struck his ass, he was kind enough to put us in touch with a builder at the company he was leaving for luke. hmm... say... wouldn't it be better to skip the contractor middle-man and get straight to the builder? #amirite we met with the builder, and there was a good feeling all around the table, an eagerness to get started on the project. we talked for an hour, maybe two, just hashing #smotheringcovering things out. he said he'd call in a few days, shook hands, and we watched him walk down the back steps. that was the last time we ever saw him.

goodbye, second guy.

i don't think it was anything sinister, but he definitely fell off the face of the earth. i mean, c'mon, how hard is it to return a phone call? after waiting a respectable amount of time, we started courting a new contractor, a guy named wayne that my old man knew from way back in the day. #theyreold

wayne is a horse guy. like, literally, a guy with horses. he had to be home before dark round 'em up or head 'em out or somesuch #yipeekaiyay and this restriction combined with his inability to be anywhere on time EVER really ate into our meetings. on top of this horsing around, he was terrible #understatement with the numbers. like, we met a few times, and he took notes, and then he presented us with a "budget" which comprised one huge lump sum. we were like, um... our sum isn't quite that lumpy and where are the line items. he was like, well, tell me some things you don't want to include and i'll subtract them. we were like, how the hell do we know what we want to subtract, when there're no line items. it went on like that for three or four meetings until i was like, no mas. he's supposed to be trying to win our business and he's pissing us off. #yikes

goodbye, third guy.

enter Gym Guy Brad. like a sorority girl at a bar, my old man shamelessly picked up Gym Guy Brad at the fitness facility and brought him home like a proud cat with a mouse. #mixedmetaphor fourth time's a charm, i guess, because Gym Guy Brad possesses the two traits i look for most in a contractor: charm and blue eyes. he's also detail-oriented, provides terrific line item budgets, is unfailingly on time, and is freaking #literally named BRAD. he shares just enough ideas to keep the momentum but, being the consummate professional, Gym Guy Brad steadfastly refuses to participate in deciding what color countertops we should choose or whether we are really best served by knocking down that wall. #coldwarref

hello, fourth guy.

the appliances we ordered are sitting in the garage, poised for installation. the cabinets should be done in a week or so. today we packed up the kitchen because a crew will arrive monday morning to demolish it, in all its #groovy harvest gold glory.

i'm eager for the new kitchen, but it's bittersweet. i grew up in this kitchen. every thing i can cook, i learned to cook on this stovetop. every muffin mix and cake mix and brownie mix i ever inexpertly mixed, met its end in this oven. but come monday #itllbealright - it's all going... even the kitchen sink. #sadface

13 April 2014

brown-eyed girl

the great lazy dome of the sky
is dripping diamonds,
and you hold out your hand
as if to catch them,
and you laugh,
and i laugh.

the desert is cold at midnight
in a way you would
never believe it could be
if you have only been in the desert
at noon.

i can see your face -
turned to the sky -
reflected in my spectacles
when you stand behind me,
and i stay very still
to look at you
without your knowing.

van morrison starts to sing
through the layer of car radio static,
"hey, where did we go -
days when the rain came?"
and you laugh again.

i see you turn your reflected face
to find mine -
your face filled with anticipation
of our shared reaction to the song.
"...with our hearts thumping."

and so i turn my face to meet yours.

12 April 2014

jimmy buffett meets occam's razor

jimmy buffett walked us through it.

although everyone claims that there's a woman to blame... it's nobody's fault... hell, it could be my fault... it's my own damn fault. at first, we want to blame someone else, and then we want it to be fate or luck, and then we begin to realise we may have played a part in it, until we finally run out of excuses and have to admit - it's my own damn fault.

don't act like you haven't been there.

after my last 20-mile run, i did several things wrong. first, i didn't stretch. like, at all. then, i played soccer the next day with little warmup and no cool down. finally, on the third day, when i was already feeling the effects of all this poor behaviour, i ran again and didn't stretch.

but above and beyond all this negligence, the most egregious action i took was on the fourth day, when i knew that something was wrong and did not have the sense to recognise what has happening.

here's the thing: my right leg is an inch shorter than my left. this means my entire portside lower body maneuvering mechanism -- hip, thigh, knee, shin, ankle, foot -- is highly susceptible to injury.

up until a few years ago, i was blithely unaware of this discrepancy, but as the therapist who helped me get back on my feet explained, it's like a house of cards. you can go for years with nary a smidgen of an issue, but then one day the house of cards falls down and boom, issues galore.

stress fracture. tendonitis. runner's knee. back pain. hip pain. foot pain.

if i want to run marathons with a skewed anatomy, then i have to pay attention to stretching, warm ups, cool downs, and core strength. so, it's bad that i was neglecting all that.

but what's worse is that when i started to have trouble, i didn't immediately say to myself - leg length discrepancy! i mean, did i seriously believe the pimento cheese had cursed me? or, to put it differently, did i seriously believe that some random act of the universe had struck me down at random? i mean... SERIOUSLY??

occam's razor, anyone?


so here i am, having lost a good couple of weeks of training because i did not recognise and address the problem immediately. the best thing would have been to have not neglected the good behaviours at all, but MY POINT HERE IS that even with neglecting that stuff, THE DAMAGE WAS STILL REPAIRABLE. i didn't have to wait all this time, moaning about always getting hurt during training.

hello? hello? anyone home? think, mcfly! think!

in conclusion: i am my own worst enemy and it's my own damn fault.

06 April 2014

i blame the pimento cheese.

it takes a really long time for me to trust my body during marathon training, to believe that i am not going to be injured, and that's odd because i generally trust so easily.


when i finally get to the point in a training cycle where i feel really strong, fit, and sure i'll weather well the remainder of my training, i will treat myself to something.

sometimes, it's new running gear. once, i bought a sweet handheld water bottle... for a half marathon i ended up walking. once, i got two new pair of trainers... and ended up with a stress fracture (more walking). once, i got a pair of shoes especially for running my dream marathon and that act of faith led directly to nearly insurmountable tendinitis and even more walking.

sometimes, the treat is food. okay, MOST of the time, it's food. i mean, i AM running dozens of miles every week, so what's one little bag of candy corn, one extra beer, one entire box of girl scout cookies going to mean in the overall calorie count?

one week ago today, i treated myself to a carton of pimento cheese at the grocery.

the next morning, i'd developed a terrible pain in my left hip, and i knew right then what was to blame: the damn pimento cheese.

there's a belief among the irish that if you get to the point in your contentment with life that you forget there's an angry god holding you like a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire, well... you're setting yourself up for a whuppin'. accepting that good things can come your way, or -- heaven forfend! -- thinking that you DESERVE them, only leads to misery and loss.

this is why the irish believe so much in luck. if you're lucky, well... you can't help THAT, right? you didn't ask for it. you didn't let your guard down. it just happened! it's just luck! there can be no retribution for luck! JUST DON'T GET USED TO IT. there's no excuse for being used to luck, and if you're not careful, you'll get an almighty smack upside your prideful little head.

humility is the key. play it down. it's not me, it's luck. it's not me, it's circumstance. it's not me, anyone could do it, with just a little hard work, which bygod i've put enough of into the pot and if anyone deserves anything it's ME but no... it's not me, it's just luck.

remember, though: there is no bad luck. there is only good luck. good things happen by chance. bad circumstances are DESERVED.

i googled "irish always think something bad will happen if something good happens" and got an article on depression from healthcentral.com, followed by an OCD and then another depression from the UK national health service.

in conclusion, irish karma is why the irish drink.

i blame the pimento cheese.


(feeling better today, thanks, but no more pimento cheese!)

04 April 2014


the other day i was listening to npr, and they were talking about this concept of naming three books that define you. obvs, the temptation is to pick something profound, puff yourself up, but the truth is that most of the profound tomes i've tackled have left me wondering what all the fuss is about. just because something is difficult to read, doesn't mean it's brilliant. just means it's f'ing hard to read. #coughcoughjamesjoycecoughcough

secret garden and a tree grows in brooklyn and to kill a mockingbird and lord of the flies changed my perspective on life, but i don't think books like that define me. they influenced me, sure, but i figure the books that define me are ones i have read multiple times. they choose me and i choose them, over and over again.


andrew henry's meadow by doris burn
andrew henry is a misunderstood middle child. he just wants to build things, but no one appreciates his inventive efforts. he escapes to a nearby meadow where he builds himself a fine house, which even had a landing pad for the dragonflies. not long after, he's followed by several other kids, each with their own hobby that's not appreciated by their family. alice shows up toting cages containing her precious birds, which her father the farmer doesn't want around. george brings boats and a paddle wheel that his mother says don't belong in the bathtub. and so it goes until there are several andrew-henry-crafted houses in the meadow, each as eccentric as its own. in the end, the parents find their kids, everyone dances happily and goes home, where they presumably understand each other a bit better. (andrew henry's parents give him some space in the basement to build his inventions.)

the pillars of the earth by ken follett
i've read this one three times, and now that i've reminded myself of it, i might just have to read it again. it's a historical novel based in medieval england, with a plot centered around the building of a cathedral in kingsbridge. follett uses the fictional setting to stage the introduction of construction and architectural advances that presumably took place in the middle ages. (i mean, i didn't look it all up.) these advances are brought into the cathedral building process by jack jackson, an outsider, a bit of an odd duck, who is driven by the desire to do things right. there's a conniving bishop, an uncaring lord of the manor, adventures abroad, love that's found and lost and found again. time passes, characters age and die, and in the end, the story is resolved. #thesequelsucks

harry potter and the sorcerer's stone
ah, harry. the other two books came to mind quickly, but i pondered and pondered over the third, until it hit me that i've read the entire harry potter series 4 or maybe 5 times. the characters and plot are pretty well known here.

so. how do these books define me?

like andrew henry and jack jackson and harry potter, i'm driven to do things right, and i'm not easily lonely.

it's fun to think about inventing things, building things, and about construction advances and when they might have come into use.

i believe in the power of love.

what about you? what are your #my3books?

28 March 2014

the one where it seems like i am talking about a game but really i am talking about life

this morning i got a record. see?

i play tetris a lot - like, every day. usually just one round, maybe two, of this one style of game: single, marathon, 20. that means i'm just playing against the machine, and i'm playing an ended (as opposed to endless) game, and the pieces will fall at the highest speed. in the ended game, you have to eliminate 200 rows.

every eliminated row counts for some points but there are only two ways to make big points: t-spins and tetrises. t-spins are when you turn a t-bar to make it fit into a t- or cross-shaped hole. you don't have to eliminate a row to get a t-spin, but it counts for more if you do. there are a variety of ways to set up a t-spin. a tetris is a 4-row elimination and there is only one way to get a tetris: build up four rows with an aligned opening that a long-bar will fit into.

when you're not used to the game, t-spins seem like chance encounters. for a t-bar to appear just when there is a t-hole?? that seems like mere luck. however, when you've been playing for a while, you start to see the opportunities. you've got that list of upcoming bars on the right side, so you can predict a few steps ahead. if you've got a t-bar coming, and an l-bar in hand, and the existing structure is primed for an l-bar to make a t-hole... well, easy-peasy. place the l-bar, spin the t-bar into the t-hole - wah-lah! t-spin.

TETRIS IS LIFE 1: when you are experienced, you see through luck and realise there are things you can do to set up your own success.

not every game is a record-setter. i mean, sure, at first you're making lots of progress and frequently setting records, but the margins narrow after a while and it's harder and harder to have a break out game. you have to play more games, the margins are tighter, and sometimes you'll have a superior game going, but it'll still fall short of the record.

TETRIS IS LIFE 2: the closer you get to greatness, the less margin you have for error.

with tetris, how the pieces drop is out of your control, so you have to get better at knowing what to do with each piece no matter what order they fall out of the sky. you can put one aside, in the hold box, but only one. sometimes the randomness is in your favor, sometimes it's not, but the more you know about the pieces, the better off you are. whereas a certain sequence of pieces would defeat an inexperienced player, someone who plays a lot doesn't get flustered because they've seen so many scenarios that they have a pocketful of optional moves.

TETRIS IS LIFE 3: you can't control what comes your way, but you can get good at controlling the things you can control, so the stuff you can't control won't defeat you.

when i mentioned the "20", that's the speed the pieces fall. at speed 1, the pieces inch-inch-inch down the screen. when you first get started, that's all you can handle. you have to have the time to assess the piece, visualize how it will fit in the existing structure, determine if it needs to go right or left or spin. at the lower speeds, after the piece hits, you still have a second or so to adjust it. at speed 20, the piece drops directly onto the existing structure. your only chance to adjust it at all is to practically already have it moving the split-instant it appears.

TETRIS IS LIFE 4: if you want to play at the top level, you have to be quick.

like i said, not every game is a record-setter. in fact, some games are real stinkers. maybe i'm having a bad day, maybe the pieces are falling in an impossible order, maybe the DS buttons are acting up because the battery needs to be recharged. whatever the case, not only is not every game a record-setter -- some games are not even finishable. when these blow-up disaster games start to materialise, your best bet is to draw down the pieces as fast as possible, end the game, and start over.

TETRIS IS LIFE 5: know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. sometimes all you can do is cut your losses and live to fight another day.


this concludes the one where it seems like i am talking about a game but really i am talking about life.

thoughts? don't keep 'em all bottled up. leave a comment!