Archive for January 2010

The Best Thing About Being A Straight White Christian Male

January 31, 2010

No matter how badly I fuck up my life, no one will expand the blame beyond me. I don’t stand for anyone else. What I do says nothing about anyone but me.

If you’re black, or an immigrant, or a Muslim, or an atheist, or a member of any other minority group? It’s just the opposite. Your problems become symptoms of something wrong with your whole community. No matter that you – an individual – committed the act. No matter that members of other groups have doubtless committed similar acts. Nope. Whatever the crime or embarrassment, it’ll become a launching pad for all  kinds of negative generalizations. Some of it will be sanctimonious, covered in “concerns” in the same way gossip is couched as a prayer request in Sunday School. Some of it will be blatantly hostile. But it’ll all be bullshit and it will all make the situation worse for the person who fucked up.

For instance, suppose you’re gay and you’re happily married. Well, you were until your partner ran off with a whore. If you were a straight white Christian male, all you’d have to deal with would be the anger, pain, humiliation, and sorrow of the loss. Because you’re gay, though, in addition to that you’ll have to worry about ending up in the news or on a blog or some other public forum which assholes will use to reinforce their biases: “See! The Gays don’t respect marriage at all!” Even if you’re lucky enough to avoid the news, you still have to deal with all the busybodies in your life who see your pain as an occasion for giving thanks to God, because they think it means you’re no longer gay. You become a symbol, not a person.

That, of course, is the root of the whole problem: Treating people as their class or group rather than individuals. Two people want to commit their lives to each other? Great, let them. The group to which they belong is irrelevant. One of those same two breaks her vow to God and tramples the emotions of her partner and everyone else who loves her? Don’t blame the innocent; let her be faithless by herself.


Almost At The Finish, And The Start

January 30, 2010

Just returned from a 12.5 mile run. Not that long, but it made me feel great. There’s two reasons for this.

One, it was the penultimate long training run for the marathon. Not technically; I still have three more long runs prior to the race. But the last two weeks are tapering runs of twelve and then eight miles. By then, I’ll have finished the serious training and be coasting towards the start of the race. That means next week is the last serious training week. It’ll be my highest mileage week and I’ll cap it with the BIG TRAINING RUN: Twenty two miles next Saturday, the peak of my training. Knowing I only have one more hard core week to go made today much more pleasant than if it was just another mid-routine run.

Two, I felt my training today. Probably my worst long run of the whole program came last November, the first time I did twelve miles. Don’t know why – I had nailed a ten miler the prior week and felt good that morning – but that run killed me. That’s the only one I have done thus far which left me limping for the final few miles. Today, in contrast, I started at an easy eight minute per mile pace and kept it with no issues until about mile eight when I increased my pace to about seven and a half per mile. Again, I had no issues maintaining that pace. Finishing strong always feels good (when you’re done); more so when you’ve finished weak at a similar distance.

In short, I only ran twelve miles, but I’m almost at the start of the marathon and I think I’m in good shape.

That’s One Way To Deal With Aggressive Drivers (Dogs, Too)

January 27, 2010

“Alexandria police: Cyclist had butcher knife-pool cue lance

Shockingly, the cops also found a crack pipe on the guy.

Be Interesting To See How Ten Years In A Federal Pen Changes His Politics

January 26, 2010

Here’s your dumbasses of the week:

A conservative activist who posed as a pimp to target the community-organizing group ACORN and the son of a federal prosecutor were among four men arrested and accused of trying to tamper with phones at Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office. . . .

An FBI criminal complaint charging the men was unsealed Tuesday. None of the defendants, each wearing red prison jumpsuits, commented at a court hearing held in the afternoon. All four were charged with entering federal property under false pretenses for the purpose of committing a felony, which could bring up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Of course, given that one of them is the son of the local US Attorney and that the leader of the gang is a conservative hero, I’m not expecting a vigorous prosecution.

Not that I would do anything differently if I was in the US Attorney’s spot. I’d be more than happy to dispense some special justice to keep my kid out of prison. I’d probably resign afterwards, as I’d be unfit for the position. Even if nothing illegal or corrupt occurred, I would still have applied justice unequally based on nothing but my personal feelings. But I’d still do it in a second.

Good Article On Louisiana’s Death Row Exonerations

January 25, 2010

From the Times over the weekend.

Eight men have been found innocent of the crimes that put them on Louisiana’s death row. All were exonerated before they were put to death and ultimately freed from prison.

Most often, those exonerations came after it was revealed that prosecutors withheld evidence that was favorable to the defendant, relied on the testimony of a jailhouse snitch or used faulty eyewitness identification to gain a conviction.

If you’re familiar with the issue, there’s nothing new in it. If you aren’t, you need to read it before ever again thinking or speaking about capital punishment.

The sad part is that nothing will ever change. There’s no incentive for any politician to advocate legal reforms. On the contrary, anyone who did would be digging their own political grave.

Not The G-Men, But The Next Best Thing

January 24, 2010

Geaux Saints.

Although, that was one of the most aggravating games I can recall watching. Turnovers, penalties, replays, dropped passes: It was sloppy. And how many times did the Saints fail to convert on third and short? But the good guys won, so it’s all o.k.

As for you-know-who, what a perfect ending. Especially considering how horrific it could have been. If Favre had returned from that second half ankle injury and led the Vikings to the Super Bowl? I wouldn’t have been able to follow sports at all for the next two weeks.

Which reminds me to commend Joe Buck and Troy Aikman for avoiding any Favre love during the game. Granted those two have all the energy and personality of a couple of corpses, but in this situation that helped. They made the essential points and that was it, noting that Favre was getting beat up, but never gushing about his “toughness” or “leadership” or “dedication” or whatever other star-struck adjectives you usually have to endure when watching him play. I also never heard any speculation about what he might do next year. In short, they treated him like any other player. Good job, gentlemen.

The best job, though, was  . . .

I Must Be Training Right

January 23, 2010

Supposedly when asked how to become a professional cyclist, Eddy Merckx answered “Ride lots.” I’ve never followed that advice on the bike, and I don’t while running, either. I’m sure if I spent more time on my two hobbies I’d be better at them, but the time I do spend lets me succeed at a level which pleases me and also prevents me from getting bored with either. Instead of miles and miles and miles and miles, I try to vary my time on the road, replacing distance with different intensities.

So for my marathon program – the goal of which is a 3:30 finish – I only run four days a week and have yet to exceed 40 miles in any week. I haven’t surveyed every person training for a 26.2 mile race, but I’d bet most of them are running more miles than I am. I’d also bet, though, that most recreational runners, people like myself, probably run the same way, just in different lengths, for five or six days a week. Instead of high miles at one pace, I have four different runs.

The first, on Tuesdays, is split into three parts. The first is an easy mile warm up. Then I move into the second: Four miles at a pace leaving me breathing hard and unable to speak, just about a maximum effort over the distance. Finally, an easy mile to cool down. I do the second run on Wednesdays, a semi-relaxed medium length run. Normally it’ll be six or seven miles at a conversational pace pushing the kids in the jogging stroller. The big weekday run comes on Thursdays. I’ll maintain a pace just below the one I had for the middle miles on Tuesday – about 20 seconds per mile slower – but do it for seven or eight miles. Finally, I do the long run on Saturday. The length has increased as my training has progressed. The weekly runs have, too, but this is the one that really grows, from six the first week to twenty today and peaking at twenty-two in two weeks.

As for the other days of the week, Monday and Friday are rest days while I try to ride my bike on Sundays. The bike ride can be anything from upwards of fifty with the group, or a solo mountain bike ride, or a tour around town towing the kids in the stroller. Because I want to relax while cross-training, I pick whatever seems like the most fun.

How do I know my plan works? I won’t until the big day. Until then, this article seems to back up my thinking. In addition, on my long Saturday runs, I have managed to keep my goal pace from start to finish. I ran today’s twenty, for example, at an 8:05 pace, for a total time of 2:41:31. Even better than the time, I did it consistently. I mapped out a five mile loop from my house, which I ran four times. Here’s my times for each the four laps, from the first to the last: 41:04/40:18/40:09/40:00. To put the same thing another way, my first three miles were 8:28/8:33/8:08. My last three were 7:55/7:44/7:48. Needless to say, I am thrilled that my final miles were my fastest miles.

Who knows what might happen on race day. But based on the results of my training, I ought to not only finish at my goal, but finish strong.

My Favorite Live Sports Memories

January 21, 2010

I saw in the news this morning that UTEP ended Memphis’s 64 game Conference USA winning streak. Why do I care? Because I was at the last game they had lost, in 2006, in Birmingham, against UAB, when Memphis was ranked number three in the country. Truly an awesome experience. No, UAB wasn’t big time, but they did make the NCAA tourney that year, and under Mike Anderson they played exciting ball. Nor is Bartow arena a classic of the game, but it was packed, and the crowd did get crazier and crazier as victory got closer. Just a great college sports experience.

That made me think of other great live sports experiences. So in no particular order . . .

Late September, 1990: The Mets are finishing a disappointing year, all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Still, tickets for the bleachers on what I think was a school night made for an exciting event. It even looked as if the Mets would win, until blowing a lead in the top of the ninth. Great, typical of the season, I though, fully expecting three quick outs in the bottom of the inning before the Cardinals would score to win in extras. As Lee Smith entered the game, my despair only grew. Impressive on television, the force with which he threw the ball was even more incredible live. Start of the inning, and up first is Darryl Strawberry. Power against power. Smith wound up and threw the heat. Strawberry did that front leg kick, extended his arms, and with the crack of the bat heard the entire stadium explode because there was no doubt where that ball was going. As he circled the bases we all celebrated with chants of “Daaaa-rryl, Daaaa-rryl.” The Straw was my absolute favorite player, which made the end of the 1990 season even worse, because everyone knew he would leave as a free agent after the year. He did. To the f’ing Dodgers. But not before giving me an all time memory.

Sometime in the spring of 2000, game six of the WPHL championship, the Shreveport Mudbugs lead the series 3-2. I really only remember two things about the game. One, we went with a decent size group, of which I think one other guy and myself were the only ones who cared about the game. Two, the ending. The game was in the Hirsch “coliseum.” Dirty, dark, small – a great place to watch a hockey game. Our seats were at an angle behind the net. Not great until it mattered. I think the score was 1-1 at the end of regulation. In OT, after a few minutes of tense back and forth action, one Mudbug – no idea who – had a clear shot and took it. He was directly across the ice from us. The only thing between was the net, meaning we had the best view in the house of the puck as it slipped past the goalie giving the Mudbugs the President’s Cup. Even the non-hockey fans went nuts. Sure it was minor league minor league hockey, but – as we sang along with Queen in the clichéd but genuine celebration – we were the champions.

Also the Mudbugs, in 2001. This one has nothing to do with the outcome. All I remember about that is the Mudbugs scored seven goals. They used to have placards that spelled “Frosty.” With each goal, one was turned over. Once you saw “Frosty,” everyone in attendance got a free frosty from Wendy’s. I remember getting one that night. Hence, I know they scored seven goals. Anyway, the reason this was a great memory is that one of my buddies worked for the team and thought it would be hilarious if he made sure I ended up on the ice for one of the goofy games they did between periods. Sure enough, Jenny and I competed in the sled race. Three couples took part in the race around the rink. One half sat in a saucer sled, the other half pulled. We kicked ass. But before we could claim our rightful prize, we were disqualified. Apparently it was against the rules to sling your sled into the legs of the other racers. What a rip.

I have plenty of other memories. (I’ve also won the dizzy bat race at a Captain’s game, for example.) Most of them involve either unimportant games, or insignificant events, or both. I suppose there’s some kind of lesson there. But I’m not the type to try to figure out what it is.

Running In The Rain

January 20, 2010

I don’t mind getting caught in the rain while running. Note there’s two key words in that sentence: “caught” and “running.”

I hate, hate, hate, hate being in the rain on my bike. Partly because I wear glasses, which means rain makes me blind. They don’t have windshield wipers, which means I have to remove them, and that leaves me unable to see more than five feet in front of me. The main reason I hate riding in the rain, though, is that it means I’ll have to dry and clean my bike when I make it home. That’s a pain in the ass, especially when you’re tired, wet, cold and just want to go inside and recover. “Running” in the rain, on the other hand, doesn’t have these issues. Running, I don’t wear glasses in any weather. I’m going too slow to need to see more than a few feet in front of me, and if I wear them all they do is slide down my nose. As for the end, the rain adds no extra work; I have to shower anyway.

The other key word is “caught.” If I see rain before going out to run, I will stay inside. If I’ve already started, though, I really don’t mind getting wet. Is there a reasonable explanation for this distinction? Probably not. But so it is.

Tonight, I was caught running in the rain. Based on what I just wrote, that should be no big deal, right? Well, tonight is Wednesday. That means I was running with the babies in the jogger.

Knowing rain was forecasted for this evening, I trimmed my usual route to about five miles, hoping to save time. Based on the radar forecast, we should have been fine. As we jogged through the neighborhood, it looked like plenty of other folks thought the same thing, as we say other runners and even one of Mac and Omi’s friends out riding his bike. Then, at about 1.5, I felt a few sprinkles. At that point we could have bailed, turning and making it home in about another mile. But it was only a few sprinkles. So we kept on, though I did decide to cut another corner, reducing the total for the run to four miles.

As we ran, the skies darkened and I began to hear thunder in the distance. Yet the rain quit and we had just under a mile to go. Positive we’d make it home dry, as we passed a house along Audubon, I heard a guy who had just pulled into his driveway say “I hope you’re almost home.” Thinking “mind your own business” I said, “Yeah, less than a mile.”

What a mile. Not three houses after the guy warned us, the rain began. Not a gentle beginning, either. Suddenly, immediately, like someone dumped a bucket of water on us, the downpour began. In about two seconds I was soaked to the skin. The stroller’s shades gave the babies some cover, but not much. They were getting pretty wet. They did not like it, either. From the moment the rain began until we pulled into the garage, they both screamed. Boy did that make me feel like a great Dad. Of course, it also made me run faster. Not sure what the time was for that final mile, but I’m sure I set a personal record for a jogging stroller mile.

Once at the house, we all stripped to our birthday suits before going inside. I mean, why add “clean up all the wet floors” to the evening’s adventures? Besides, they’re at the age where they think escaping prior to a bath and running through the house naked is the greatest fun ever. So they got a real kick out of stripping out of the wet clothes on the back deck. Moods lifted, we all went in and put on dry clothes and laughed about the whole adventure.

So Those Holy Hand Grenades Really Ain’t A Joke

January 20, 2010

Read this letter from a non-Christian soldier about his experience with the guns.