"The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Headline News

Muddling through life in this day and age is, if nothing else, mindlessly interesting.

If it’s not Britney’s recent tirade and her subsequent 45 minute stint in rehab or Hollywood’s extravagant hypocrisy that fills our nation’s media outlets, it’s the ongoing debate as to when and where the latest celebrity victim of their own bad decisions will ultimately be laid to rest; all this along with a daily play by play rate of bodily decomposition.

(As of this writing, James Brown currently holds the lead over Anna Nicole Smith in the Not Yet in the Ground category however she’s leaving him in the dust (so to speak) when it comes to returning to dust.)

Add to this the following selected top stories:

218-pound 8-year-old subject of neglect case

Granted, a 218 pound 8 year old is pretty frightening but why are we so surprised? We live in a world where fast food has become as much a part of our culture as neglecting to vote. For years and years we’ve been encouraged to drive thru and have it our way. And far too often, our way involves, “two all beef patties, special sauce (Special? In what way), lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on a sesame seed bun."

And even though the major fast food chains have recently begun touting their “healthy choice” menus, isn’t it really just too Mc-little too Mc-late?

Mom admits coaching kids to fake retardation

Now here’s a nominee for Mother of the Year.

Rosie Costello admitted to collecting more than $280,000 in benefits from Social Security and state social service agencies by teaching her children to behave as if they were mentally retarded. She began this educational process when her daughter was but 4 years old.

Her now 26 year old son, a fast learner who apparently fooled Social Security officials by “picking at his face, slouching and appearing uncommunicative”, continued his ruse well into his mid-20’s but was ultimately found out when Social Security workers uncovered a video of him “ably contesting a traffic ticket.”

Sharp bunch, those Social Security officials.

There are I think, several interesting aspects to this story.

The most obvious is the amount of thought, effort and energy some will expend to acquire monetary gain through deception while not even considering devoting any portion of their abilities to earning their keep legitimately. In addition, it occurs to me if the scam was so convincingly portrayed so as to successfully bilk the government out of this much money, why did not red flags arise when he obtained a driver’s license? And finally, did they fool everyone; their families, teachers, neighbors and pets alike. (Dogs are difficult to fool you know)

The daughter is said to be still on the lam, or maybe lost, or confused, or suffering from amnesia. Pick one.

Fighting surgeons leave patient in the lurch

A routine appendix operation in a Belgrade hospital turned out to be anything but routine when two surgeons went fist city during the procedure.

It seems an aggressive ear pull by one of the doctors led to a retaliatory face slap from the other. This then escalated into a full fledged fight resulting in an assortment of bruises, a split lip, loose teeth, a fractured finger and a trip to the hospital administrator’s office where the words, “He started it!” echoed throughout the hallway.

Both sets of parents were summoned to the administrator’s office for a conference.

Although no reasons were cited for the altercation, it is rumored to have resulted from a disagreement over who has been using whose tongue depressors.

The heavily sedated patient remained none the wiser and his procedure was successfully completed by the attending assistant doctor who was by all accounts, way more mature.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Alpha

The 22nd Annual Blacksburg Classic 10 Miler

My first race of 2007

A hilly bugger indeed

Finishing time

1 hour 44 minutes 28 seconds

Faster than some and slower than most

First run in a week and now I'm toast.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ashes To Ashes, Dust To Dust

In my last post, I mentioned how cold it was Sunday morning.

What I did not mention was what I saw while on my run.

I sat out that morning intent on logging 10 miles and like most creatures of habit, embarked on a route I’ve run many times before. One leg of this particular course passes through a neighborhood of our city which is unlikely to appear on any Welcome to the Star City brochures or websites.

Like many cities of our demographic makeup, we have our good areas and our bad.

We have what I like to call Destiny Number 1; the well kept upwardly mobile, 2 car, 2.5 kids, single family dwelling, white picket fence, L.L. Bean Golden Retriever, flowers on the front porch neighborhoods.

And then we have our share of Destiny Number 2 areas which are often in various stages of disrepair and rife with crime, transients, drugs and wholesale violence.

If we work hard and obey the law, the theory is we increase our chances of living in the world of Destiny Number 1... but there’s no guarantee.

We also need a few lucky breaks along the way, particularly when we are young and seemingly bullet proof. Otherwise, the bad decisions we inevitably make can and often do set us on a spiraling course which before we know it, lands us right smack dab in the middle of Destiny Number 2.

I saw one of these unfortunate souls as I passed through this part of town early Sunday morning. He was face down in a vacant lot. The area was sealed off with the all too familiar yellow police tape and several officers milled about as they waited for the ambulance to transport him to the morgue.

I couldn’t know then what led to his demise and as I continued to run, I tried to force it from my mind. But the nagging question of “What happened,” continued to haunt me.

Over the course of the next two days, I followed the local media, looking and listening for any news of what might have happened, but there was none forthcoming.

After work on Ash Wednesday, I went to Mass and as I sat listening to the message of Memento homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris - Remember, man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return, I thought again of the dead man in the vacant lot.

What circumstances led him to his fate?

On Thursday I found out from a police officer that this man was a homeless transient and died of a heart attack.

Was he trying to make it to the Rescue Mission, the Samaritan Inn or one of the other shelters which house, feed and clothe those who are in need?

I don’t know.

I only know it was 12° that morning and likely colder through the night.

And this man died alone.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

To The Point

22 degrees + a 25mph wind = 12 degree effective temperature.

In other words; very, very cold.

A little under 9 miles.

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger." - Friedrich Nietzsche

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Dan's The Man

Apparently as I slept last night, my body somehow absorbed a leaden like substance. For when I awoke and set out on my run this morning, it was as if I was transporting 50 lbs of extra weight. My legs were heavy and instead of running, I plodded along and finally finished a measly 4 miles.

Hopefully I've gotten this out of my system because next Saturday is the Blacksburg Classic and I surely do not wish to be plodding along for 10 miles!

At any rate after my run (?), I headed down to Shrine Hill Park were our running club, the Star City Striders joined forces with the Greater Raleigh Court Civic League (GRCCL), the Pathfinders for Greenways, Roanoke Parks and Recreation and others in order to lend a helping hand to spread mulch and clear debris for the DAN WRIGHT GREENWAY TRAILHEAD.

Thanks to the GRCCL and the City of Roanoke, the trailhead will be formally named in Dan’s honor on March 3, 2007.

A long time Strider and runner, Dan's involvement with the local running community has been extensive. Over the years he has worked tirelessly for the good of the entire community. And because of the many battles he fought on behalf of the Roanoke Valley greenway project, this honor seems all the more fitting.

Having been diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig ’s disease, Dan now faces an even larger battle. But through it all, he continues to inspire with his ever present smile and his kind laughter.

Thanks for everything Dan.

“It is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles.” - Niccolo Machiavelli

Monday, February 12, 2007


A few posts ago, I spoke of my desire to join with Team In Training for my first marathon. In this post I alluded to my disappointment regarding the TNT Virginia Chapter’s decision to forgo the Marine Corp Marathon this year in favor of the 30th anniversary of the Chicago Marathon.

Don't get me wrong, I have no problems with Chicago.
My disappointment arose as a result of two reasons.

The first is that my son Ben is a former Marine (there are no Ex-Marines) and I’m damn proud of him. Running this marathon would be as much a tribute to him as it would be a personal accomplishment for me.

The second reason is that the MCM was my running partner's first marathon. Bill and I have spent many a pre-dawn morning logging miles together and our friendship has deepened as a result. To run the same marathon as he did as my first meant a lot to me.

However, as I stated in the aforementioned post, my real priority is supporting my brother-in-law Billy in his battle with lymphoma and therefore my involvement with Team In Training took precedence over the venue.

And so I sat my disappointment aside and focused on the Windy City.

That is until this afternoon when I received the following email:

From: Williams, Amber (VA-Richmond) [mailto:Amber.Williams@lls.org]
Sent: Monday, February 12, 2007 3:30 PM
To: Tim Lawhorn
Subject: RE: Question regarding 2007 events


I have great news for you. The Virginia Chapter WILL be participating in the Marine Corps Marathon this fall after all. We will be offering the Chicago Marathon as a Virtual Team In Training event and keeping MCM as one of our official marathons. I hope that you are still interested in participating with us! Please contact me if you would like information on upcoming information meetings near you!

Amber K. Williams
Campaign Manager, Team In Training
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
(800) 766-0797 or (804) 627-0400 x 10
Fax: (804) 627-0406

This is good, very good.

“Semper Fideilis” – Marine Corp Motto

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Waxing Nostalgic

This is what its like when you're at sea and God decides to kick it up a notch!

Awesome and oh so humbling.

The realization of how insignificant you really are in the grander scheme of things becomes crystal clear when riding out a storm at sea. At times it seemed like an eternity of constant, violent motion and generally would last for days. During these times, even those with established 'sea legs' weren't always able to avoid the periodic bashing into a bulkhead as a result of one or more rogue waves.

And when the storm finally ended, the utter calmness stood in such contrast as to be equally impressive.

All this reconnecting with old shipmates is producing a decided penchant for nostalgia.

I suppose its to be expected.

Four miles today and lots of memories.

(Thanks to shipmates Steve Church, John July and Larry Hardeman for the photos.)

"You have to go out, but you don't have to come back." - U.S. Coast Guard Credo

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Old Friends Are Never Forgotten

Even though the internet is full of a lot of undesirable things, it’s the good things which make it so incredibly awesome. Because of the net, I recently located and reconnected with an old service buddy of mine I haven’t been touch with for nearly 20 years.

Larry, aka Six Pack along with our friend Sid, were as thick as thieves when we served aboard the USCGC Midgett back in the mid 70’s. And even though Sid and I stayed in touch over the years, we lost touch with Six. We’re planning a ship’s reunion in October and so I made it my mission to find him. And with the help of Google, last Thursday I opened my email only to discover that I had succeeded.

Reconnecting with old friends is amazing. In many ways, the passage of time only serves to strengthen the bonds which were formed so many years ago. Old memories of our times together sailing the Alaskan seas came flooding back and brought us a lot laughter.

So here’s to you Six.

It’s good to have you back my friend.

“True friends are the ones who never leave your heart, even if they leave your life for awhile. Even after years apart, you pick up with them right where you left off.” - Anon

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A Good Weekend

In preparation of keeping my nearly 4 year old granddaughter this weekend, I set out on a 10 mile run this morning.

The skies were clear and brisk; 27 degrees and sunny; ideal conditions to get the blood pumping in preparation for two days of:

"Popeye, can we play hide and seek?"
"Popeye, can I ride my bike?"
"Popeye, will you read me a story?"
"Popeye, can we play with my baby dolls?"

To all of which (including the last one), I will answer "Yes sweetheart."

I don't believe there is anything quite like a grandchild.

It's as if God gives you a do over.

"Listen to the mustn'ts, child.
Listen to the don'ts.
Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts.
Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me.
Anything can happen, child. Anything can be." - Shel Silverstein