September 30, 2007

A Couple of new speed records

Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie Breaks Marathon World Record in Berlin

Gebrselassie broke the world record marathon time by 29 seconds at the Berlin Marathon. The record of 2:04:55 by Paul Tergat had stood for four years. Gebrselassie's new world record is 2:04:26.

My current goal is to run both the marathon and the half marathon under double the world record. The current world record time for a half marathon (also held by Gebrselassie) is 58:55. That would mean I need to beat 4:08:52 for the marathon and 1:57:50 for the half marathon.

Bike Hits 130.7 mph. On Snow

33 year old Austrian Markus Stoeckl has smashed the World Speed Record for series mountain bikes. Stoeckl, nicknamed "Hercules" because of his 6'4", 220 lbs. frame, broke the 8 year old record by 14 mph on a 2000 meter, 45 degree run in the Chilean Alps. Because of the extreme cold, Hercules had to hold his breath for the 40 second duration so his helmet didn't fog up.

September 28, 2007

Book Club

We started a book club earlier this year. There’s about ten or so of us that meet every two months. It has been really interesting so far. I’ve enjoyed discussing the books with everyone. It really fleshes things out to hear other people’s takes on the books. One of the goals of the group is to expose us to different authors that we might not have checked out on our own. Another goal for me is to read some of the classics that we all should have read so far.

We pick two books to read in the two month period. The ones we’ve read so far are:

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
An Inconvenient Truth
The Time Traveler’s Wife
To Kill a Mockingbird

and this month’s books:
The Traveler
The Glass Castle

The Traveler is more of a “boy” book. It will be interesting to hear the ladies take on it. It is a thriller, kind of a modern day 1984 with a little supernatural thrown in. The Glass Castle is a memoir of a woman who grew up with some crazy parents, living hand-to-mouth for most all her life. Tomorrow should be fun.

I Love Technology!

I was surfing other blogs, and I found out you can embed a slideshow into your blog. Here is the abbreviated set of Big Ride Glacier photos (still 66 photos). I also have decided to put a rotating photo on the blog. The current one is Brian cresting a hill on the Tour des Lacs.

The weather is turning, and soon too the leaves

On my run tonight, it was almost chilly enough to wish I had brought my vest or wore a long sleeve shirt. It is almost that time. On Wednesday’s run around Lake Sacajawea, some leaves were already falling, even though not many had changed color. The furnace kicked on for the first time in months, and now I open the shades to welcome the setting sun’s heat instead of sheltering the house from it. We’ll see if the new windows keep us warmer this fall and winter. Now I don’t need to worry about keeping the lawn green. The moss will take care of that.

The Neighborhood Market

Out for a quick run tonight. Really didn’t want to go, so I made it a short one. I also went unplugged, no gadgets.

On my way out of our street, one of my neighbors was washing her Jeep. She probably washes her car once a week. I wash my truck probably twice a year. She had her radio going and I recognized the song but couldn’t place it. A little way down the road I figured it out. Someone had remade a Kelly Clarkson song. I thought it odd that someone has remade a song only a year or two old. Yeah I just admitted that I know a Kelly Clarkson song.

Along my normal route there are several houses for sale. It seems more and more pop up each week, and they haven’t been moving at all. There is also a new development crammed into a lot and a half. As far as I can tell none of those have sold yet either. Another development is going to be built on the back lot of a church up the street. The land has been cleared for a while, but not much progress so far. I assume they are holding off until the market starts moving again.

Our housing market isn’t moving. Fortunately it isn’t crashing at this point, but nothing is really happening. Many houses are overpriced. Their listing agents are not being honest with them.

So many people are out of a job in the lending industry. One of our lender reps said last month that he had 40 accounts a couple months ago. He now has 20. That’s 20 companies that are gone, and who knows how many employees. And our market is better than most others.

Now that money isn’t being handed out to everyone, being an Integrated Agent means I can really help buyers where a normal agent can’t. It is also a buyer’s market for the first time in quite a while. But again, not many people are actively looking. Rates are great, there is a ton of inventory, but people are shying away. I may be looking at some other type of side work until things get moving again. It won’t be the first time I’ve worked two jobs.

September 27, 2007

Running Note – on the road

3.43 miles / 32:32 minutes / 9:29 mpm

I went for a run this evening around a local park in Longview. The gravel trail circles a man-made lake called Lake Sacajawea. It was a beautiful evening for a run, and the scenery was hard to beat. I haven’t been running much lately with life and biking getting in the way. I ran a hilly 10k last Saturday and did OK. Tonight’s run went well. My heart rate was actually a bit lower than normal, which is always a good thing. Must have been the serenity of the surroundings.

Beautiful Evening

This is a picture from the drive home after the bike ride. Nice way to finish the day.

September 26, 2007

HPC – Did Finish

I rode the High Pass Challenge this past Sunday. The bike ride started in Packwood and climbed up to the crater of Mount St. Helens. All total the ride was 114 miles with 7,500’ of climbing. Definitely a challenge for me and out of my comfort zone.

The ride was timed, starting at 7:00am and finishing at 5:00pm. Anyone finishing before 5:00 received a finishers T-shirt. As a bonus if you finished by 3:00, you received a gold medal. Before 4:00 meant a silver medal, and by 5:00 netted you a bronze medal. If you didn’t finish by 5:00 – Bupkus! Not even a shirt. In fact even the BBQ packed up by 5:30.

As Packwood is about three hours from home, I camped out near the start line. It was a bit chilly, but no rain. I was up by 5:30, broke camp, and drove the 8 miles to the start line. I actually passed some bikers on the way. They must have started around 6:00 (cheaters). I kind of expected a mass start of 500 bikers at 7:00, but people just kind of filtered out in small groups. I started about 7:05, and fortunately the first 17 miles or so were basically flat or downhill. Nice warm up for the muscles. A number of pacelines passed me, even though I was averaging about 18 to 20 mph.

The first sharp climb was around mile 17, and it was a doozy. Just a teaser for what was to come. After the first food stop at mile 26, the road went basically uphill for the next 27 miles, with just a couple downhill breaks. I am generally a pretty good climber, but I was getting passed by most everyone. I kept plugging away, keeping any water or food stops as brief as possible.

At about mile 42 we left the tree level and saw the devastation that still remains 27 years after the eruption. Lots of felled trees along the hillside. The scenery was pretty spectacular, but I didn’t stop for many photo ops since I was on a time crunch. I did stop at the viewpoint of Spirit Lake. What you see in the photo is a huge area of felled trees still floating on the lake.

The summit of the ride was at (aptly named) Windy Ridge. It was blowing, and it was very cold. Someone said it was 39 degrees, and I’m sure the wind took it under freezing. I was shaking. There was lots of food and water at the lunch station, and even a leftover STP wind jacket that they gave me to keep warm. I had made it to the top by 11:35, and left right at noon. Since the bulk of the way home was downhill, I was pretty confident I would finish in time. I started thinking of an actual time goal. I quickly figured that I would need to average 20 mph to get gold, so that was right out.

The summit was at mile 53 but there was still some climbing to get off the top of the mountain. At mile 64 though it was downhill for the next 16 miles. Oh it was glorious! The road twisted and turned through the forest, and I was cooking along at around 30mph. On the way down it became clear how much climbing we had done.

A quick water stop at mile 80 and I had 34 miles to go. I needed to average about 15 mph to net silver. Possible. I had forgotten the hills that were left. Pretty minor comparatively, but I was pretty smoked by then. By mile 90 I was thinking bronze was looking pretty good. The wonderful downhill at mile 92 got me back on track though. With an hour to go, I needed to average 15.5 mph to get silver. The conversations started between my brain and my body. Unfortunately the body was saying “no”, and the brain was saying “probably not”. I equate it to the last few miles of the marathon. You are just physically done, but my mind kept doing the calculations of what I needed to do to make the time goal. At least on a bike you can coast for a few seconds to get your breath back.

With four miles to go I only needed to average 12mph, so it looked like I was going to make it. When I turned into the parking lot and crossed the finish line, I was surprised to see my friend Cherie there waiting for me. She and Brian had driven all this way to see me finish. It was an awesome surprise. They are bikers too, and they can relate to the challenge of this ride. It was fun reliving the ride over dinner with them.

The ride is a real challenge to be sure. If it had rained at all, it would have been tough to finish on time as the descent would have been very tricky. I should have been in better shape, and definitely should have eaten more early on. I was very light headed by the time I reached the summit. The altitude probably didn’t help either. This was the first time Cascade put on this ride, and it was very well supported. The only thing I would change would be to have some food and a bathroom at the start line. Otherwise, very well done.

Happy Totals:
Distance: 114 miles
Climbing: 7,500 feet
Time: 8:50
Avg. Moving Speed 14.3 mph
Avg. Overall Speed 12.9 mph
Heart Rate 160/178

September 21, 2007


When I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 2006 (my first finish), I wanted to get some things to commemorate the event. I have a few pictures and I bought the DVD of the marathon with some shots of me. I had seen this bottle opener before I went, but didn’t buy it. When I returned, they were all sold out. I kept the link in my favorites in case they made them again. I have checked in every so often, but it never reappeared.

I sent an e-mail to the company asking if they planned to make the opener again for this year’s marathon. A day later I received this response: Hi Sean- Thanks for the inquiry and you must be the luckiest guy alive. I have ONE bottle opener left and we are not producing any more for the expo this year. When I called her to order it, she said they had just moved their offices last week and she found the opener had been sitting on her bookshelf gathering dust.

So, I now have the “People’s Opener”. Maybe not quite as cool as the “Popener”, but pretty cool nonetheless.

This wonderful life

This has obviously been a trying period for my wife and I, and our friends have rallied to our side. I never questioned how fortunate we are to have the friends and family we do, but the wife and I are still blown away with the support we have received. One of our friends put together a wonderful care package of food, magazines and other comforts for the wife while she spent time with her Dad. I was also invited over for dinner while the wife was out of town.

When we came back to town last night, another friend showed up with dinner all prepared and a bouquet of flowers. Apparently several of the ladies have set up a schedule of prepared dinners for us. What a wonderful gesture, and one we truly appreciate. There have been lots of supportive phone calls and e-mails as well. Still others have stopped by to take care of the house while we were away.

Thank you one and all. Your support and friendship has, and never will be taken for granted.

The stuff of life

We all accumulate so much “stuff” during our lives. Some of it is simply functional, some sentimental, some just plain stuff we haven’t tossed out.

I am a pack rat. I don’t like throwing anything away if there is a chance I or someone else will use it. Fred was probably similar in this, but he had far more time to accumulate stuff, and a larger variety of interests. He had been at various times a logger, carpenter, welder, mechanic, fisherman, hunter and more. I have been helping go through all his things, and he has tools of the trade for all of his interests. There are also lots of nails, bolts, screws, car parts and boat parts. Boxes and buckets of bolts that I’m sure he knew exactly what they belonged to, but leave me a loss. There are things like repair kits that weren’t even opened that I’m sure he picked up thinking might come in handy some day. I think his first reflex was always to build or fix something himself, and he picked up lots of tools along the way.

It is an interesting look through a person’s life. We can look through what people hold on to, but we may never know why. There are certain sentimental things that we hold on to that have great meaning to us, but that other’s will have no clue of their significance. Our method of filing things away probably only makes sense to us as well. Why on earth is this carburetor in with a drawer full of sockets, bolts and screwdrivers, and what vehicle does it go on? There may be no reason other than haste in this case. Fred had sold his home of 37 years in the last year, and had too little time to pack it all up. Much of his stuff was put in a storage area, and whatever organization existed was soon lost in the rush to get it all packed up.

I look at our own garage and I realize it is a mish-mash of stuff, mostly worthless to someone else. I have no idea what image someone would draw by going through it all (probably not too flattering). I am tempted to spend a week with the wife just going through all our stuff, explaining the meaningful things, and getting rid of all the rest.

September 18, 2007

An incomplete tribute to my father-in-law

Fred passed away last night. He went peacefully with family surrounding him. He went out on his own terms, the way he felt was right.

I didn’t know him all that well, but what I knew I respected. Fred lived 140 miles away and we didn’t have occasion to see each other all that often. He wasn’t a man to show up at the holiday table. My wife joked that he was comfortable in a group of two, with him being one of the two. It is my loss for not getting to know him better.

Fred was a salt-of-the-earth type of person. He did what had to be done to survive and provide for his family, taking or creating work where he could. He was good with his hands and was a skilled mechanic and carpenter. He built the house my wife grew up in. A friend of his was calling him just last week for help on a well pump. He was a smart man and would always be there to lend a hand to a friend.

I have a feeling my best chance of getting to know him would have been to work side by side building something. I know he could have taught me plenty, not just about building, but what it meant to him to be a man.

He was a strong man in body and in character. He lived his life doing what he felt was right. I will be hearing more stories about Fred in the coming days, many from friends who can’t believe that he is gone. I have a feeling he had more of an effect on people than he knew. He will be missed.

September 17, 2007


I saw this T-shirt shop a while back, and I really appreciate the sentiment on this one.

As I mentioned, I have a DNF in the 2002 Tour des Lacs bike ride. I also have a DNF on my first marathon attempt. I was originally training for the Vancouver Marathon in May of 2006. I started getting injuries a few months out, and it was clear I would not be ready. I postponed my attempt for a month and signed up for the North Olympic Discovery Marathon. I had missed quite a bit of my scheduled runs, so I still was not fully trained. My longest run was 14 miles and that ended with me walking in pain (birth of my IT band problems). Anyway, I was going to give it a shot. I didn't want to have another entry fee go to waste, and I didn't know what would happen unless I tried. I also had two friends running the half marathon.

It was a great day for a run - Clear but not too warm. I decided to take a walk break after each mile, hoping to keep the IT issue at bay. I had bought IT straps a couple of weeks earlier and they seemed to help, but for some reason I didn't wear them at the start. I put them on when I started to feel pain around mile 8. I hit the halfway mark at about 2:20, so I wasn't far off my target pace. By mile 14 though, both knees were really hurting and the walk breaks became longer and longer. I stumbled along to mile 18 before calling it quits. I called the wife and she came to pick me up. I probably could have walked it in, but the half marathoners had long since finished and were waiting, and walking wasn't really what I had planned on. I also had a few big biking events coming soon and I didn't want to do any more damage.

I had a quick breakdown in the car with the wife. Finishing was a bit suspect with my injuries, but I was still pretty disappointed. I pulled it together and met the half marathoners at the finish line and celebrated their success. It helped to be around friends and fellow runners. It also helped that I already had the next goal planned.

I have another bike event coming soon, and it is the first in a while where I'm not sure if I will get an official finish. There is a time limit so that adds to the pressure. My bib number is 499 and there are 500 participants. I hope that isn't an omen of my finishing position.

2007 Tour des Lacs

As I mentioned in my previous post, the Tour des Lacs was my first bike event and my first ride in the SAG wagon. This year three of us were riding the 64 mile route with another relatively new biker. He would be a good barometer to see if this ride was as difficult as I remembered. Another four friends were riding a different route, and we would meet them at the end.

We were up at 6:00am to get our butts and bikes out of the hotel. The ride has a pancake breakfast to get the riders full of carbs and caffeine. We hit the road at 7:10 and the first long hill was only 2 miles later. It was pretty steep and a tough way to start a ride. I had dressed lightly as I knew I'd be overheating on the way up this hill. The three of us made it one piece and continued onto the next hill.

About 10 or 15 miles in, there is a red barn to the side of the road. Five years ago one of our riders was checking out some cool ironwork on it when he veared off onto a soft shoulder and wiped out. I had just finished climbing another hill when I saw the barn. Just then I heard an odd sound from my front tire. I first thought my brakes were rubbing, but it was a rush of air from a blown tire. That barn is a curse! The tire had blown at the valve stem. I swapped out for another tube and we were rolling again.

Two miles later, the tire was flat again. As I started to take the wheel off, I noticed the valve wasn't completely closed. Hopefully this flat was just a stupid mistake on my part. I pumped the tire back up, but two miles later it was flat again. It turns out my replacement tube had already been patched, and the patch was leaking. Two ladies rode up from the opposite direction. They weren't part of the ride, and were just out on their own. They had passed by on one of my previous flats, and stopped to offer some help. They gave me another tube and wouldn't accept any money. Just pay it forward they said.

By the first water stop, my flat adventures and our slower pace meant we were the last bikers in. We were still on pace to finish in time, but it was a little close for comfort if we had any mechanical issues. We made our stop brief and hit the road again. One of our riders was having some knee trouble, so he opted to get in the SAG wagon for about 7 miles and would rejoin us at the next water stop. We were able to pick up the pace a bit, and we caught up with some bikers at the next stop.

This is where the route changed from five years ago. The last 18 miles goes along the Trail of Coeur d' Alenes, a converted railway. The trail is new and the path is very smooth. The first seven miles is a glorious downhill ride through the forest to the lake. It was a great reward after all that climbing. The trail continues along the lake and took us to the pier in Harrison. We actually arrived with an hour and a half to spare. The downhill and flat portion along the lake really helped.

The boat ride was beautiful, and we met our friends at the dock in Coeur d' Alene. They had enjoyed their ride as well, and we would all be together on the same route the next day to head back to Spokane.

Our route the first day was certainly challenging. I am a better biker than I was five years ago, but it was still a tough climb. I felt a bit better about my DNF. Fortunately it is my only biking DNF so far (I have one in a marathon). The event boasts five different routes the first day, and two choices the second day. There is something for everyone, and the elevation charts they hand out help to avoid any nasty surprises. The support of the volunteers is great, and the two pay-it-forward ladies reminds me of the type of community bikers should be.

Back to the beginning

I began biking just over five years ago. Well, biking regularly. A friend talked me into riding in the Tour des Lacs bike ride which goes from Spokane, WA to Coeur d' Alene, ID. She and her dad had done it the year before, and they talked me into going with them this time. Naturally I was on the deck with a drink in my hand. I believe this was the first of many drunken promises to come.

The ride we were signed up for was 84 miles. They had previously done the 40 miler, and were looking for more of a challenge. The ride was rated "Intermediate", so it didn't sound too bad. I dug my bike out and did a few rides along the Burke-Gilman trail. I think the farthest we went was about 30-35 miles. I reasoned that I could do 84 miles, it would just take me longer. There was also a 2 hour boat ride up lake Coeur d' Alene at the end of the ride. With beer. Powerful motivation.

This was my first biking event. My first athletic event of any sort. Running wouldn't start for at least another year. Unfortunately it was also my first "did not finish" (DNF).

It turned out that the route was pretty darn hilly. We started climbing after 2 miles, and it never seemed to end. By the first water stop at mile 30, I said to my friends that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to finish in time to catch the boat. By the second water stop at mile 47, I wasn't sure I was going to finish at all. I encouraged them to take off, but they stayed with me to suffer in company.

By mile 60 we were pushing our bikes up another hill. At the top was the SAG wagon. SAG stands for Support And Gear wagon. Most events have a SAG wagon that looks out for riders and helps with mechanical issues. They will also pick you up and get you to the next stop if you are hurting. It is your responsibility from there, but they get you off the side of the road. It was clear we weren't going to make it, so we hopped aboard. They were kind enough to not only take us to the next water stop, but on to the pier so we could catch the boat. There were actually lots of us packed into that RV.

The following year they started publishing a elevation chart of the route so you can see ahead of time how hilly it is. They also upgraded the route to "Advanced". The full RV may have had something to do with it.

First ride, first DNF. Not a great start, but I was hooked none the less. Maybe defeat made me more determined to conquer these goals. It certainly made more diligent about preparing. So I was back to the Tour des Lacs again this year. The route we rode this year was only 64 miles, but the first 47 miles were the same as the 84 mile route. I was curious to see if the route was as difficult as I remembered, or if it was just that difficult since it was my first real ride. My experience is continued in the next post.

September 13, 2007

Biggest dog in the world

A friend forwarded this e-mail to me. Nice doggy. Stay off the couch.

Hercules: The World's Biggest Dog: According to Guinness World Records Hercules was recently awarded the honorable distinction of Worlds Biggest Dog by Guinness World Records. Hercules is an English Mastiff and who has a 38 inch neck and weighs 282 pounds.

With "paws the size of softballs" (reports the Boston Herald), the three-year-old monster is far larger and heavier than his breed's standard 200lb. limit. Hercules owner Mr. Flynn says that Hercules weight is natural and not induced by a bizarre diet: "I fed him normal food and he just "grew"... and grew, and grew, and grew.

September 12, 2007

Need a fix man!

The wife and I had occasion to be at the hospital recently (everything is fine). While we were waiting for some test results, we heard a teen next door talking to the doctor. The doctor had prescribed some extra-strength Tylenol for whatever the injury/problem was. The kid says something like “When I was in here a couple of months ago with injury X, I was prescribed Percocet, and my pain level is similar now.” The doctor restated he was prescribing Tylenol. When the kid started to argue, the doctor got in his face and told him to get out. The kid tried to argue again, and the doctor started yelling for the kid to get out or he was calling security.

The doctor had escalated things pretty quickly, but I’m sure he was expecting it. I’m sure he has to put up with a lot of this crap, people coming in with phantom injuries just looking for drugs.

A bachelor for a bit

So the wife has been in and out of town for the last week or so. I was vaguely productive last week by making a DVD recapping our first 6 years together as an anniversary present. I have more respect for the work that goes into those “year-in-review” DVDs you make Sean. Part of what took so long was scanning old photos (damn pre-digital days), but part of it was the software I’m using. It kept resorting the photos after I had them in order. I’m sure there is an easier way with the program, but it is trial and error at this point.

It didn’t take long to revert to my bachelor ways. Dinner became whatever was in the fridge, and sometimes it was chips, dip, and a cocktail. I made some mac-and-cheese tonight. Now the box says there are three servings in the box, but that equates to one “bachelor serving”. I at least didn’t eat out of the pot.

What really makes it special is a spice my brother found a while back. It is called Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning. The tag line below the name is GREAT ON EVERYTHING. And it is. Especially on eggs. Now if there were only some eggs in the fridge…

September 11, 2007


I am sure everyone will always remember where they were when they learned of the disaster and saw the horrific images of 9/11/01. The wife and I were in the air between Dallas and Miami on our way to Jamaica for our honeymoon when it all began. We landed in Miami as scheduled, but did not leave the ground again.

As the time for our connecting flight passed, someone over the PA system said that all planes were grounded. Those originating in Miami should go home. Those connecting, sit tight. The televisions were on a loop playing the history of the Miami airport. People jumped on their cell phones trying to find out what was going on. The wife and I had left ours at home as our honeymoon was the ultimate time to unplug. We heard bits and pieces of one side of a conversation. When the news started filtering through, I assumed it had to be an exaggeration. It was all too similar to a Tom Clancy book I had read recently. When it became clear that something was gravely wrong, we bought phone cards and called our parents.

When I reached my Mom, she asked if I was already in Jamaica, then wondered why I was calling from Miami. I asked if she had turned on her TV yet and she hadn’t. OK, first of all we are safe and sound. Now turn on your TV, as the world has changed since last night. We called another friend who was nice enough to act as a telephone tree for us to pass news along to our friends.

We waited in the airport for four hours or so to get our luggage. The place was jammed with stranded passengers, but it was eerily calm. Everyone knew for once that their problems were insignificant. One couple was carrying around their wedding dress and tuxedo as they were on their way to Jamaica to be wed.

I called a hotel as soon as we went to baggage claim. It turned out to be the nastiest I have stayed in. It smelled of bleach to the level that it seemed they were engaged in germ warfare. We spent most of the evening in the bar getting our first glimpses of the images people had been witnessing. There was no denying it anymore, it was all too real.

We went back to the airport again the next day. Chaos had resumed after the quiet of the day before. I spoke to someone official and I could tell he was ready to snap. I said “I’m not here to yell and scream, I just want to know what is going on”. Tension released, he told me that flights were unlikely to resume for a couple of days. He was nice enough to give us a hotel voucher as I explained we didn’t wait around for one yesterday.

When I returned to tell the wife, I broke down. My first real decision as a new husband was to abandon our honeymoon. Silly, but that is how I felt. We went to the hotel which was a vast improvement and tried to figure out what to do. Calls to trains and bus lines revealed either full or cancelled schedules. I called a few car rental companies. The first one I reached was Nationwide, and they turned out to be the best. Each subsequent rental company seemed to be doing some serious price gouging.

The next morning we picked up the car and after stopping by AAA for a trip map, we started our journey from Miami to Seattle. We both wanted just to get home, and a honeymoon in Florida was much less attractive as a tropical storm was imminent. It hit in full force as we were driving across the panhandle. That ridiculously fast speed on your windshield wipers – not enough. 15 miles an hour just tracking the taillights of the car ahead.

Our course home took us across the southern US on Interstate highway 10. We drove about 10 hours a day, mostly listening to NPR. When I wasn’t driving I read the paper to learn more about what was going on. It wasn’t an all out sprint to get home, but we didn’t stop to look around either. We did plan an overnight stop in Tucson to see a friend who had been in the wedding a few days earlier, and it was great to see him.

Five days later and we were home. I wonder how different our experience was from others. We weren’t home with our family and friends, yet we weren’t forced to resume our normal lives like others had to. It left us with not much to do but think about the tragedy. The wife cheered when we saw the first airplane in flight just outside of Phoenix. We checked in with our folks every night or so. The joke was if we could drive across the country together, our marriage was going to be alright. The beach would have just made us soft.

We are fortunate to not have been personally touched by the events of 9/11. We had a couple of friends flying in and out of New York surrounding that day. That is where our thoughts went that morning and we were glad to hear they were alright.

We returned to Jamaica six months later. When we made it to our delayed honeymoon, I was the most depressed/out of sorts I have ever been. I’m not sure what all was weighing on me. 9/11 may have made me look at my life more closely. It may have been the jarring switch from the happiest week in my life to the worst for the country. Maybe it is the clearest manifestation of hatred I have ever seen. I’m not really sure. I haven’t put those feelings entirely behind me. This day remains a cold little corner of my heart.

Where did my childhood go?

I was driving over to a wedding shower recently. It was held at a house not far from where I grew up. I figured I’d swing by the old house and show my wife and friend where I grew up. I had heard the house was now an adult home. The garage had been converted to extra bedrooms, and the home was bumped out in back. I wanted to see how different things looked.

As we were driving there, we passed by my high school and grade school (they were across the street from each other). “So to our right is my high school and up ahead is…what the!? The grade school was gone! It looks like it happened pretty recently since it was a now just a dirt field and there were still some bulldozers there. Childhood home now an adult home, grade school a dirt field that will probably soon be a sub-division. I guess you really can’t go home.

September 10, 2007

Drinking, Politics, and Open Discussion

I was at a party a while back. I somehow fell into a discussion of politics. Not a terrible situation on the surface. However, unless you mostly agree at the outset, I have not found many enriching discussions. Drinking of course does not help for level-headed discourse. Neither does talking to a Libertarian about capitalism and taxation.

I assume it has always been this way, people separated in corners and coming out swinging, but it seems most things I see or read these days is just vitriol spewed from both sides. I wonder if it is always been so polarizing. Probably, but I hope not.

I try to keep as open of a mind as possible. Some beliefs are pretty engrained, and there isn’t a likelihood of changing my mind, but I am always fascinated to hear why people think the way they do. And there are certainly plenty of issues where my opinion is malleable. Discussing and debating issues is what our government is based on. “Always stay away from religion and politics” – I just don’t find that satisfying since those two issues seem to make up a big part of people’s psyche. Unfortunately they often live up to their powder keg reputations.

Brian Baird a Democratic Representative from Vancouver Washington recently said that even though he has opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, he has visited Iraq recently and thinks pulling out now would be an even graver mistake. When he spoke to constituents at home, he was ripped apart for “betraying” them. Republicans may say “even he’s on our side” or ridicule him for “flip-flopping” when he comes up for re-election. I think his statements shows hope. He hasn’t changed his feeling about the war, but in assessing the current situation, he feels it makes sense to continue our efforts. Opinions can evolve as situations evolve.

I appreciate that I live in a country that encourages freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the freedom to speak out against things you don’t believe in. The system is a bit broken, but it is the best there is. It could always be better, though, and that is up to us. I would love if the change started at the personal level.

Not so regular running note

5.0 miles / 48:00 minutes / 9:36 mpm

Out for a run this evening. Weather was pretty warm today, so I waited until later in the evening to head out. Glad I brought the sunglasses because the sun was really low in the sky. My field of vision was pretty limited heading west. I also forgot the IT straps I wear on every run. I went 5 miles tonight and so far no unusual pains. Fingers crossed.

I ran a slightly different route tonight. I wanted to check out a house that was recently listed. After checking it out I got back on a more normal loop, but in reverse. It is odd how different things look even just being on the other side of the road and heading in the opposite direction.

I missed a few workouts last week. Life has intervened, some biking events have interfered, and I have been a bit lazy. I am kind of stumbling toward a half marathon in October. I am not expecting a great performance. It is a pretty hilly route anyway, so I probably wasn’t going to break any records anyway. It is still going to be a fun event with some friends.

I am reminded of some coaching advice I read somewhere: “training plans should be made of clay so they can be molded if necessary, not written in stone so you can beat yourself up with it if you miss a workout.” Probably a good life plan as well.

September 9, 2007

Six Years Ago Today

was the best day of my life. The wife and I were married at an outdoor wedding at Lord Hill Farms. We were actually supposed to have the wedding indoors in a converted barn. In a twist of luck, the fire department did an inspection a couple of weeks before the wedding, and found that the barn did not have adequate fire sprinklers. All turned out for the best as it was a beautiful September afternoon. We both had wanted the wedding outdoors, but didn’t want to risk it with our Seattle weather. Another reason to thank your local fire department!

It was actually the end of the best week of my life. We had a great week with friends both local and from out of state. I am extremely fortunate to have a wonderful family and some very special friends. The wedding week felt like a reunion of sorts, and we both had a fantastic time. The wedding day seemed to fly by, and I am grateful we spread the festivities out over most of the preceding week.

I can’t believe it has been six years already. That day in September does seem distant, but the past six years are a bit of a blur. We were jarred awake by events a couple days later, so that little island of time is even more special.

Thank you my love for continuing to make me a very lucky man!

September 8, 2007

Window update

Well, the windows are in. The installers were great, and have been the only competent people I have dealt with in the last 4 months. They tore out the old windows and installed the six windows and sliding glass door in less than a day. We are happy with the new look for the home, and hope that the windows make a difference in our heating bills this winter.

Unfortunately one of the widows had a crack in it. It is pretty small, and it sounds like it happened in the factory. The installers said they would call in a report and get a replacement pane ordered. The windows were installed on August 9th. Now it was back to dealing with the inept office.

I waited until Monday to call in, both to make sure that the order was placed and to see if they would start taking some initiative now that I owed them money. Yeah right. So I called to check on the ordering and to talk about holding back some money until the repair was done. They shuttled me off to the “repair” woman. Several messages, then they said it would be two weeks.

I called in two weeks and left a message, no call back. I’ve been calling all this week, and it took them three days just to find my file. Now they say the glass “may” be in 9/19 or 9/26, over a month and a half after the order date. I of course expressed my displeasure and let them know that I expected a discount for putting up with their ineptitude. I told them the only saving grace is that they haven’t bothered to ask for any of the money I owe them.

There are times when I kinda wish I was still in construction. We really stood out above the rest, but I am finding out how easy that was.

Where the hell have you been?

I’ve been slacking a bit. I’ve been tied up in a project that has taken up the last couple of days. The project has had me in front of the computer all day, and I just haven’t had the desire to stare at a screen in the evenings. I was actually so deep into it, that I totally forgot to run yesterday. The wife is out of town, so my routine is a little thrown off.

Writing and running are such a process of habit - all too easy to fall out of. I've also found that it is a lot easier to get inspired when you are out and about. It is all about moving forward, both physically and mentally.

September 4, 2007

And for the anti-exercise lobby

There was an article published that stated that walking to the store causes more environmental damage than driving there. The theory is that by walking you burn more calories that if you drove. If you replace those extra calories burned by eating beef, more CO2 is released into the atmosphere. It is pretty sketchy math, and makes a lot of assumptions. The article here does a pretty good job of ripping it apart.

The real point of the article is that far too much energy is used in the production and transportation of beef and other food. The walking vs. driving was just a nice attention grabber.

Man, how forgetful would I be…I lost my train of thought

A recent study seems to indicate that exercise helps boost memory and cognitive speed. Testing has been done on both mice and humans. Tests show an increase in blood flow to the hippocampus, neurogenesis (creation of neurons), and improved scores in memory tests in the groups that exercise more. I hope the running and biking help stave off the dementia.

Check out the article. There is a nice surprise at the end which may help me out even more.

September 2, 2007

Sticking it to the Man on Labor Day Weekend

Some State lawmakers are considering legislation that would give workers grounds to sue their bosses for being jerks. New Jersey’s bill would give workers the right to sue for as much as $25,000 if their superior created “an abusive work environment”. California is also trying to revive a similar bill that died in committee in 2003. Of course there is no definition or guidance as to what an “abusive” environment might be.

Jerk bosses have been around since there were bosses. The legal system is already jammed with frivolous lawsuits, and this would only add to the number. There are obviously some ridiculous bosses out there, and plenty of horror stories, but I’m sure the majority of lawsuits would come from the “It's not my fault I spilled coffee on myself” crowd.

A Rare Peek at Bush’s Heart

That was the headline of a story on the front page of the Seattle Times this morning. I normally head straight to the sports section and save the front page world news for later. The headline caught me.

Robert Draper is coming out with a book on Tuesday that is the product of six roughly hour-long interviews with our President. The title of the book is “Dead Certain”. I will have to read the book. I am hoping to find some insight into what goes on inside our President’s head and heart. There has to be something behind a friend’s recent 8.5 out of 10 rating for his presidency. I hope there is something I’m just not seeing.