"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."

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Baby it's Cold Outside

On November 22nd I ran my first race (and longest distance) since having had disc surgery this past March.

The event was the Star City Half Marathon held here in Roanoke VA. And as it was the 23rd year this race has been run, Mother Nature decided to commemorate the occasion with a start time temperature of 23 degrees. How thoughtful.

Arriving early, I joined a multitude of runners holed up in a pre-race huddle inside the Rocwood Indoor Climbing Center and as I passed the time prior to the mass migration to the start line, I scanned the wicking clad crowd for my two running partners.

Joining me in this noble quest for frostbite was my brother-in-law Bryan and my nephew Jay; both of whom travelled about 3 hours to share in this delightful experience. Just goes to show what grown men will do in order to hang on to any remaining (perceived or otherwise) shred of their youth.

While Jay and I are veterans of several half marathons – including this one, this would be Bryan’s first. Having taken up running relatively recently, he ran his first race this past April – the UKrops 10k in Richmond VA and at my urging, stepped up to the plate and committed to this event while it was still quite warm here in the Old Dominion. (Just to clarify, this in no way should be considered an act of deception on my part as Bryan is well aware that late November is historically cooler than mid July.)

At any rate, before too long the three of us found one another and began to plot our race strategy. It went something like this:

“Damn it’s cold outside!”

“Yea, I can’t feel my toes.”

“What the heck were we thinking?”

Feeling this was an adequate amount of planning, we spent the next several minutes re-tying our shoes and regaling one another with tales of our past race experiences - Bryan had to keep repeating the same story - until the ensuing tsunami of running tights pulled us through the front door vortex with the 300+ other soon to be no longer warm bodies and deposited us squarely in the midst of old man winter.

After a brief (and way to brisk) stop at a port-a-john, we headed over the foot bridge and assembled at the designated location to await the firing of the official race gun, all the while bouncing up and down like a Discovery Channel Tutsi tribe in a failed attempt to keep from becoming human popsicles.

Following a spirited rendition of the national anthem, the gun finally fired causing everyone to cease bouncing and start running. And run we did, for just up ahead we exited the shade and emerged into the sunlight where it was easily 3 degrees warmer.

It should be noted at this point that both my brother-in-law and my nephew are several years younger than me and while there are many runners my age who are as fast as those several years younger, I am not one of them. In fact, I’m not faster than those younger, the same age or older. Even walkers sometimes finish ahead of me but I don’t care. I still get the t-shirt.

And so proceeding at our own pace, we soon split from one another in pursuit of our individual goals. Bryan’s was to complete his first half marathon. Jay’s was to shave a minute or two off his time and mine was to not puke.

I’m happy to report, we all succeeded.

(L-R: Bryan, me and Jay)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tagged

Mr. Mouse told me my blogging friend Anne in San Diego tagged me with the task of listing 6 things which make me happy.

Now normally I'm a pretty happy person but there have been times in my life (as with most people I suspect) when this hasn't been the case. Perhaps because of this, I've come to realize just how grateful I am to be happy. So here goes; 6 things (in no particular order) which make me happy.

1. Leilani - People always say there's something different about a grand child. They're right. To listen to her laugh, to get lost in her hugs, to hear her call me Popeye is an experience I'm unable to put into words.











2. RFWDG - Together we Lazy White People share an appreciation for fine food, wonderful wines and memories made. But most of all we share in the value and importance of our friendship.









3. Buccaneer Villa - Aptly dubbed by the London Star as "The coolest place to stay on the planet," this paradise on earth is the most relaxing place I've ever been. Iree Mon, Iree.









4. Thunderstorms - Ever since I was a child, I've loved thunderstorms. There is something about the raw power exhibited when God decides to kick it up a notch that is both awe inspiring and humbling.









5. My Siblings - Or more accurately, our relationship with one another, is an important source of happiness for me. There are four of us, 2 brothers and 2 sisters, and even though there are 25 years between me (the youngest) and my brother (the oldest), we all love one another, we all like one another and we all get along. This made our Mother very proud.









6. Beth - Happiness only touches on the emotion I feel because of her. When we married, we promised to walk the path of life together, not one in front of nor one behind the other. We promised to be each other's best friend; to be always kind; to not lose sight of what we found when we found one another. And even though there have been times when I stumbled blindly in darkness, she never faltered. She has always and will always be the reason "I see trees of green, red roses too. I see them bloom for me and you. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world."








I'm supposed to tag 6 others but aside from Anne, there are only 3 other bloggers I know, so here they are:

Amy in GA
Cheryl in AZ
and Zoe in VA

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Return Of Mr. Mouse

Thirty plus years ago, a small group of friends came to know an individual who's antics often placed us in difficult situations.

Last week, he showed up on my doorstep. I'm not sure how long he will stay nor what he will do but one thing is clear; he's not changed a bit.

Consequently, I suspect his visit will be at the very least, interesting and so I invite you to check in periodically for updates.



Sunday, November 02, 2008

A Star Is Born

Reilly raised $655.00 for the SPCA in the Howl O'Ween Walk and made it onto the Red Carpet in the process!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

How Much Is Enough

I believe in the capitalist system but this is disgusting:

A 2007 study of 137 large companies by data-tracker Equilar Inc found that 72% of the CEOs had severance agreements and 82% were promised exit packages if they lost their jobs following a corporate takeover or "change in control."

Stanley O'Neal, Merril Lynch:
Golden Parachute:
$160 million, including more than $129 million in stock and options.
Claim to Shame: O'Neal takes the fall for failing to adequately control the firm's credit and market risks, which resulted in a stunning $8 billion-plus write down in the third quarter.

Philip Purcell, Morgan Stanley:
Golden Parachute: $43.9 million plus $250,000 a year for life after being forced out.
Claim to Shame: He angered a group of shareholders who had already called for a break up of the firm by reorganizing management and promoting some executives who were seen as loyal to him.

Richard Grasso, New York Stock Exchange:

Golden Parachute: Took $140 million in deferred compensation.
Claim to Shame: The disclosure of which sparked a furor that led to his departure. The pay also provoked an investigation and lawsuits, which are still being worked out.

Douglas Ivester, Coca-Cola:
Golden Parachute: Took $120 million when he stepped down in 2000 in his mid-50s.
Claim to Shame: The departure was deemed a "retirement," but Ivester had presided over a period of stagnant growth, declining earnings and bad publicity.

Robert Nardelli, Home Depot:
Golden Parachute: $210 million.
Claim to Shame: He fixed up the home products retailer using techniques he learned as an executive at General Electric, but by 2006, he was starting to seriously irritate shareholders. The final straw was when he told the board to skip the annual shareholder meeting and prevented shareholders from speaking for more than a few minutes. He was ousted in January 2007.

Bruce Karatz, KB Homes:
Golden Parachute: Gets up to $175 million.
Claim to Shame: The former chief executive of the home building company resigned in November 2006 after an internal investigation into whether he and other executives backdated stock option grants.

Stephen Hilbert, Conseco:
Golden Parachute: Took an estimated $72 million.
Claim to Shame: Hilbert bought GreenTree Financial in 1998, just as the subprime lending business was about to go topsy turvy. The purchase left Conseco, an insurance company, with big write downs and ultimately contributed to its 2001 bankruptcy. The company has since reemerged from reorganization.

Michael Ovitz, Disney:
Golden Parachute: $140 million after less than two years on the job.
Claim to Shame: A former big-time Hollywood agent, Ovitz was recruited to Disney to work under Chairman Michael Eisner, but the two couldn't play nice. The pay was disputed in a Delaware court, which decided in 2005 that the board didn't violate its fiduciary duty in awarding that much severance.

Hank McKinnell, Pfizer:
Golden Parachute: $198 million, including $78 million in deferred compensation he built up in 35 years at the pharmaceutical company.
Claim to Shame: Pfizer shares sank 40% on his watch, which ended last year. The company had to cut billions in costs and fire thousands of employees and said it wouldn't see revenue growth until 2009.

Frank Newman, Bankers Trust:
Golden Parachute: $55 million.
Claim to Shame: A former deputy Treasury secretary, Newman was brought to Bankers Trust to restore confidence after the 1994 derivatives scandal. He made aggressive moves into technology banking and lending (buying boutique Alex. Brown & Sons in 1997). But that push, plus a big position in Russian government bonds put the bank on the brink. Newman left in 1999 after selling the company to Deutsche Bank.

Carly Fiorina, Hewlett Packard:
Golden Parachute: $45 million including a $21.4 million severance package.
Claim to Shame: Fiorina was dismissed as the CEO of Hewlett Packard in 2005 after a merger with Compaq floundered, stock prices plunged 50 percent and 20,000 people were laid off.

Alan H. Fishman, Washington Mutual:
Golden Parachute:
$18 million in bonuses
Claim to Shame: Was only employed for three weeks at the failed savings and loan.

Bob Nardelli, Home Depot:
Golden Parachute: $210 million
Claim to Shame: Pocketed a lavish severance package and left shareholders with a stock that languished even as sales have nearly doubled during his six-year tenure.

Richard S Fuld Jr, Lehman Brothers:
Golden Parachute: Unknown however he was paid approximately $350 million from 2000 to 2007.
Claim to Shame: Ignored a warning that the bank's 'liquidity can disappear quite fast' and dismissed suggestions that staff may not get their bonuses. Also, according to the Associated Press, internal company documents detailed a request to the compensation committee that three departing executives be given $20 million in "special payments." The request was made on September 11 - four days before the company went bankrupt.

One positive note:

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's outgoing CEOs Daniel Mudd and Richard Syron aren't going to receive the millions of dollars in severance that had previously been expected. The Federal Housing Finance Agency said it will block the severance payments which together had been estimated at up to $23 million.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lions & Tigers & Bears - Oh My

The following AP article recently caught my eye:

An ambulance official says a jogger has been taken to hospital after he was attacked by a kangaroo on the outskirts of Australia's second-largest city.

Metropolitan Ambulance Service spokeswoman Christine Paterson says the man, in his 50s, was attacked Monday as he apparently ran between a male and female kangaroo near his home at an outer suburb of Melbourne. She says the victim ran to a nearby house and telephoned for help while the kangaroo hopped away.

Paterson says he was taken by ambulance to a hospital in a stable condition with a gash on his head and minor claw scratches to his chest, arms and hands.

A Royal Melbourne Hospital spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment on the man's condition.

Ok lesson learned: Clearly one should never come between a Roo and his lady.

Encounters between runners and animals are not uncommon however for most of us; it’s limited to the occasional dog who decides to pace us. But as evidenced by the above article, more exotic meetings do sometimes take place. So in the interest of education and safety, I’d like to share a few tips I discovered while researching material for this piece. (I swear I didn’t make any of this stuff up.)

Bears

If you see a bear in the distance, respect the bear's need for space.

Remember a crowded bear is an unhappy bear.

It’s a good idea not to wear hair products if you anticipate a bear encounter.

Bears apparently detest mousse, gel and Brylcream.

Identify yourself as human by talking in low tones, with arms outstretched.

In your best Barry White voice say, “Hi Gentle Ben, it’s me Bobby. Give me a hug!”

If a bear actually attacks you should fight back aggressively as this will encourage the bear to "give up" and leave.

However it is deadly to do this with a grizzly so be sure and ask the bear for ID prior to employing this tactic.

Rattlesnakes

If you run into a rattlesnake on your path - stop! Enjoy the encounter - Do not attempt to "shoo" the snake away.

Rattlesnakes are known to be sensitive and may take such action personally.

Some common symptoms of a rattlesnake bite are: Fang marks, Pain, Nausea and Dizziness.

Did we mention death?

Lions

Do not approach a lion.

They aren’t interested in anything you have to say.

If confronted, stay calm and face the lion.

Try humming a few bars from The Lion King to build trust.

Do not run.

Like rattlesnakes, lions are also known to be overly sensitive.

Try to appear larger by raising your hands.

This may also serve to confuse the lion as he may think you wish to ask a question or need to use the restroom.

Avoid bending over.

I don’t even want to speculate as to the reason for this tip.

Remember, the animal kingdom was here first so it’s understandable they might feel a tad resentful at man’s usurping their environment. So when running the roads and the trails, be respectful, be careful and be prepared.

At least most of us don’t have to worry about kangaroos!

G’Day!

Too Good

Friday, September 12, 2008

Godspeed Morgan


My sister-in-law Chris received an email this morning from her husband Morgan.

He and his unit have arrived in Iraq.

Please keep him and all of our service personnel in your thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Kindergarden - Day 1

On Tuesday she began kindergarden.

She was a bit nervous.

I was a bit emotional.

Where has the time gone?


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Amazing

I remember this well - it occurred about a month before I shipped off to boot camp.

Two years later I was stationed in Manhattan and visited the World Trade Center. I could not then nor can I now comprehend how anyone could accomplish such a feat (much less desire to do so).

To say I don't do well with heights is an understatement but while there I went to the roof anyway. Doing so did nothing to alleviate my phobia but looking back, I'm glad I went.


Friday, August 08, 2008

Monday, August 04, 2008

Semper Paratus

August 4, 2008


218 Years of Service





Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Long Road Back

When I was released by my Doctor in mid April, I firmly believed I would be able to work my way back to distance running in a very short time.

I've come to realize I was overly optimistic.

So far my only double digit run has been a 10 miler which put me away for two days and reminded me that too much too soon is too bad.

So I've resigned myself to the fact that to rebuild, I must gradually increase my mileage, get enough rest, lay off those damnable Cheez-Its (low fat or not) and listen to my body while it whispers instead of when it screams.

On a positive note, my training log shows a steady increase since April so I'm still planning on the Star City Half Marathon come November.

Monthly Distances

August: 9.5 Mi 1:42:02
July: 59.8 Mi 10:32:34
June: 39.5 Mi 7:10:38
May: 26.3 Mi 5:01:27
April: 18.2 Mi 3:21:47
March: 0.0 Mi 0:00

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

Where Did The Years Go

July 18, 1982


Little blond curls, so soft and sweet
always waiting, at the door to greet.
With hugs and kisses, a playful grin
you stole my heart, again and again.

The years flew by, you grew too fast
before I knew it, time had passed.
No longer a child, longing to play
all but the memory, had gone away.

But no matter the time, pass as it may
I’ll always remember that special day.
When into my world, you chose to be
and in picking a Father, you picked me.

So celebrate my child, and never forget
I’m still your Dad, and I’m not done yet.
That little blond girl, with curls galore
resides in my heart forever more.


Happy Birthday Abbey!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I Came, I Saw, I-Pod

Got one of these for my birthday.

Good thing it comes with iPod for Dummies built in.

Some of what is in my Running playlist:

Gimme Shelter - Grand Funk Railroad
Ain't Too Proud To Beg - The Temptations
Glory Days - Bruce Springsteen
Struttin' My Stuff - Elvin Bishop
In The Mood - Glenn Miller
I Wanna Be Around - John Cale
Smooth - Santana
Babylon - David Gray
Deep Forest - Deep Forest

What's in your iPod?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day

Regardless of one's political viewpoint, please take time to honor those who sacrifice so much for all of us.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Ah, There's The Rub

Should one care to research my wife’s genetic origins, I’m convinced they would find she and Martha Stewart waded in similar gene pools. For while in my world there are only two shades of any color – light and dark – hers is one where there are no fewer than 134 different shades of what I would simply call … green.

This unique ability isn’t only limited to colors as her Stewart-esque similarity virtually blossoms in the kitchen. While I can open the refrigerator and stare blankly for an hour only to find the lone piece of suspect turkey I conveniently left in the container the previous time I attempted to feed myself something other than Cheez-its, she will extract from the same Kitchenaid appliance the ingredients with which she will produce a gourmet meal rivaling that of anything ever featured on the cover of Bon Appetit.

In addition, other manifestations of this talent appear as well. For example, by simply rearranging a few items within a room – such as a photo, a chair or a No. 2 pencil – she can completely transform the look and feel of the space; so much so that on more than one occasion I’ve gotten so confused, I had to Google my address to insure I was indeed home.

So it came as no surprise to me a couple of night’s ago when Beth and I were sitting on the deck enjoying the night’s cooler air and a bottle of wine, that she produced, seemingly from thin air, a fabric swatch-book the size of a Buick and began showing me approximately 429 different patterns, a couple of which she intends to use for the purpose of recovering two chairs.

It should be noted that at different times, both of these chairs have somehow become the property of either Reilly, the 80lb Golden Retriever or Mocha, a similar sized Chocolate Lab who was blessed with claws meant for a grizzly bear. Both are horribly spoiled and between the two of them, shed the equivalent of 40 metric tons of fur each and every day.

So needless to say, I have no problem with her chair restoration plans.

However, I have no ability to offer constructive opinions relative to the 429 different patterns firmly ensconced within the binder of the Buick sized book. Therefore, all I was capable of doing was to stare blankly as she thumbed through the swatches, speaking a language I didn’t understand. Recognizing I was fast slipping into an interior design induced coma, I tried my best to maintain the appearance of one fully engaged by occasionally nodding and grunting at what I felt were appropriate times.

Suddenly I was jolted from my stupor when I heard Beth utter the following phrase, “… and this one is rated at 30,000 double rubs …”

30,000 double rubs … what the hell is that?

Well for those like me – clueless in the ways of all things cloth – a double rub is a testing method whereby a fabric’s surface is rubbed back and forth repeatedly until it wears out. Now in reality, this process is done by a machine but I immediately began to ponder what a position as a manual double rubber might entail.

For instance:

What qualifications might be required for such a position?
Would one be paid hourly or by the number of rubs rubbed?
Would there be different styles of rubbing developed and employed?
Would there be a Professional Double Rubbers Association?
Would universities offer graduate programs – an MDR perhaps?

And after retiring from a 30 year career as a double rubber, would there be a federally funded benefit program to compensate for having double rubbed one’s hand down to a nub?

I will never look at fabric in the same way again.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

17 June



Happy Anniversary Beth


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Reflecting on The New Earth

I've had some time to reflect after finishing Eckhart Tolle's The New Earth Awakening to Your Life's Purpose. And in so doing, several things are very obvious to me.

1. I want to listen to the book again,
2. I certainly recommend it - but not as a 'light, vacation' read, and
3. I am woefully unqualified to accurately explain it's impact on me.

As I indicated in my previous post, I saw myself in much of what he spoke. And while it wasn't initially pleasant, the 'awakening' to this observation was powerful.

Below is a reader's question from Tolle's website along with his response. There are others as well but this particular one resonates with me:

Question:

Is there any way in which your spiritual teachings may be applied to everyday life? Can your teachings make us any happier today? How?

Answer:

At the core of the teachings lies the simple practice of living in the present moment. It is true, of course, that everybody already lives in the present moment, but unfortunately they haven’t noticed, and they pretend that past and future are more important than now. In reality, your entire life unfolds in the space of now. Nothing exists outside of the now. So I am talking about making the present moment conscious. That is also the quickest way beyond ego. Thinking about past and future keeps feeding the ego. Past and future have no existence except as thought forms in your mind, and when you become conscious of the present moment, all the old structures of your mind cease to operate. The mind is then no longer your master, but your servant. A new state of consciousness arises: Presence. Instead of denying the now – which is ultimately the ego’s denial of life – you accept it, acknowledge it, make it your friend instead of your enemy. When you live in alignment with the now, you embody peace, but you also embody power, the power of life itself. It goes deeper than happiness.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Game of Tag

Here are the rules as explained to me.

Copy the rules (or your version of them) and the set of questions onto your blog post, provide your own answers and then tag 5 new people - or in my case, 4. If tagged, you’ll find your name at the end of this post.

To be sure everyone tagged knows they’ve been invited to play, go to their blogs and leave them a comment notifying and referring them to your blog for details.

Lastly, according to my tagger Anne, once the chosen have answered the questions on their own blog, they should come back to yours to tell you.

Here are my responses.

1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago?

An exercise in self-preservation in the context that I only ran if I was being chased by someone or something clearly intent on and capable of doing me great bodily harm.

I only began to run by choice approximately 7 years ago. The impetus for doing so was my rapidly approaching 45th birthday. It was then I decided it was past time for me to accept the reality that the habits of my youth needed to put be put aside and replaced with those more befitting someone my age; i.e. get my lazy butt off the couch and make physical exercise a regular part of my existence because:

a. taking my health for granted was not only stupid but dangerous, and
b. continuing to lay about and eat as though I had the metabolism of a teenager would likely land me the starring role in a remake of the 1950’s Hollywood classic, The Blob.

So … my running 7 years ago might be best described as life changing.

2. What is your best and worst run/race experience?

My best running experience was completing the Marine Corp Marathon this past October. Not only was it the achievement of a personal goal (one I never would have considered a few years ago) but it was also significant because I did so with The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training program.

For the past 20 years TNT, the world’s largest endurance sports training program, has provided coaching and support for people to cross the finish line at marathons, half marathons, triathlons and 100-mile cycling events. As a result, over 360,000 participants have raised more than $850 million for lifesaving cancer research and to help blood cancer patients live longer, better lives. Being a TNT alumnus is something I’ll always remember with pride and gratitude.

My worst running experience was the ice bath afterwards … brrr!

3. Why do you run?

Partially because of the way it makes me feel, both physically and mentally; partially because I enjoy the camaraderie of the running community; partially because none of my co-workers can – or more accurately, will and partially because one can never have too many race T-shirts.

4. What is the best or worst piece of advice you’ve been given about running?

Best: Invest in Body Glide.
Worst: Cliff Shot Bloks taste great!

5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.

I was born an uncle.

Tag you’re it:

Amy in Georgia

The Bill in Virginia

Cheryl in Arizona (We miss you!)

Zoe the Hellerhound

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Now

I’m currently listening to a book on CD – not something I typically do. Ordinarily, I’m never in the car long enough for this to be a practical way for me to get lost in a story. And quite frankly, I find I prefer turning the pages of a good book to that of inserting the next CD.

Having said that however, recent changes in my job responsibilities has afforded me the benefit of a fair amount of windshield time and as a result, I am now experiencing a welcome change from the characteristically obsessive radio scanning I am so prone to.

This change in habitual behavior is proving to be quite interesting and ironically, particularly relevant to the book in question. For at the risk of oversimplification, this book is about forgoing one’s ego and awakening to the now.

The book is The New Earth - Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle.

Typically this would not be the genre I would normally pull off the shelf for myself and in fact, I began listening to this book not of my own desire but instead, because Beth asked me to. Having recently received it as a gift, she literally devoured it during a six hour trip to Georgia and its impact on her was obvious. So as I said, I began this book because she wanted me to.

The book is read by the author, thereby assuring any intended emphasis and inflection is not misapplied. As the first CD quietly began, I was immediately attracted by his accent – British enhanced German. By attracted, I mean interested; in both the tone quality as well as the applied sentence structure. In this context, I was reminded of one of our former priests, Father Andre Antao – a theological intellectual whose homily’s never failed to provoke sincere contemplation.

My interest now enhanced, I listened on until several minutes into the first CD, Tolle observed that not all were ready for the message of awakening. Those who were, would likely benefit from this book while those who were not, might consider it to be a waste of their time. I immediately wondered which of the two I might be and as his words continued, I found I was no longer listening because my wife wanted me to. Instead, I now wanted to.

I’m not yet finished with the book. I’m just beginning disk 4 of 6 and I do not know the impact it may or may not have on me. So far, I do find it interestingly telling in the sense I have “seen” myself in much of what he says – and what I’ve seen thus far isn’t always likeable. But then again, that which forces us to take an honest look in the mirror is likely to reveal those things which contradict the faƧade carried about in our day to day lives.

This I believe is an awakening.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bahama Mama

Want some sugar cane Popeye?

Look what I caught Popeye!

Let's go for a walk Popeye!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

You Are Missed

A valuable voice has been unfairly silenced.

Silenced by an unsolicited opinion.
Silenced by an ignorant hurtful comment.
Silenced by one who presumes to speak for all.
Silenced by one whom perhaps should themselves be silent.

A valuable voice has been unfairly silenced.

A voice which speaks honestly.
A voice which provokes thought.
A voice which entertains.
A voice which inspires.

A voice I miss and hope will soon return.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lazy White People

Yesterday I went for my first post-op run - a very S....L....O....W 3.30 miles.

The following song and video was a gift from the RFWDG guys to our lovely wives.

It commemorates a December 2004 trip to Treasure Beach Jamaica, the most peaceful place I've ever been.

Written, arranged, composed and performed by Calvin, Don, Ward and myself.

Enjoy.



Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Flattering Photos?

I had a photo shoot yesterday.

They were very expensive and frankly I think I got screwed.





Saturday, April 12, 2008

Button It Up

Next Wednesday morning, it’s back to the Doctor with new x-rays in tow. As it stands right now, I’m optimistic these photos will reveal the newly implanted metal in my upper spine to be securely in place and successfully promoting the desired fusion necessary to prevent me from becoming a white version of Gumby.

I’m equally optimistic he will free me from the wretched collar which has tormented me so these past six weeks and in so doing, bid me to go forth and once again don my Sauconys. In which case I will dutifully obey and gladly begin the arduous process of shedding the 15 plus pounds which have literally crept up on me during this unwelcome sedentary period.

It’s disappointingly interesting how quickly one gains weight when their activity level drops to nothing. It’s as if overnight I’ve gone from having to cinch my belt all the way to the last possible hole to having random buttons launch from my waist like deadly projectiles at 600 psi. Even my socks feel tight.

So as you might imagine, I’m more than ready to get back to an active lifestyle. But while I’m anxious to do so, I am also trying to remain mindful of the pitfalls of doing too much too soon. So as I begin to re-acclimate myself to physical activity, please take note of my mileage updates. And if you feel I’m too aggressive, feel free to verbally smack me.

In the meantime, be wary of rocket propelled buttons. They’ve been known to put an eye out.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Have A Special Day


Before I met you, I must confess
life as I knew it was one big mess.

The revolution was stalled, my cigars were wet
my uniforms tattered, my pants were split.

And try as I may, at every attempt
my beard never failed, to look so unkempt.

But now that’s all changed, I’m sharp as a tack
save for the metal, embedded in my back.

I’m no longer lost, and out of control
allowing life’s bumps to exact their toll.

Instead with you, my life is complete
any problems we face, together we’ll beat.

So on this day, as we celebrate
another year past, a memorable date.

Know that I love you, Te amo
no matter what happens, I’ll never go.

And in any language, I’m happy to say
¡Feliz CumpleaƱos!, Happy Birthday!

Fidel

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Twenty Seven


March 22, 1981

The second day of spring, not so long ago,
a new life marked, by a late season snow.
Into our home as if on cue,
quietly you came, to voices you knew.

A full head of hair and eyes bright blue,
you were our world, until there were two.
A family of four, through the childhood years,
sharing our lives, our joys and our tears.

From Big Wheels to bicycles, your first 22,
summers in camp, on horseback and canoe.
Learning God’s lessons by the great lake,
discovering its better, to give than to take.

Too quickly time passed as change took hold,
you spread your wings, and grew ever bold.
Thru times in your life, when shadows were cast,
forcing you to bend and grow up too fast.

In the blink of an eye, you became a young man,
serving our country in far away lands.
Then off to school, in pursuit of your goal,
easily moving, into your new role.

Now I look back at twenty-seven years,
the laughter, the sorrow, the hopes and the fears.
The times we were close and those far apart,
keeping you near, always in my heart.

I’m proud of you Ben, and all you have done,
I’m honored to call you, my only son.
I hope as time passes, the older you grow,
you’ll always remember, I love you so.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Update

My first post-op Doctor visit went well, as (for now) my head remains firmly attached with no signs of premature separation and my incision appears to be well on its way to full assimilation into the existing lines of my neck.

I have also been given the green light to return to work albeit with the caveat that I should pay close attention to my body, i.e. Don’t over do it. Since I sit at a desk throughout the day, I don’t anticipate any problems.

A return follow-up visit is scheduled in 4 weeks and if all remains well connected, I will be able to forgo the collar completely at that time. And while there may be a need for physical therapy, there is also a good possibility I may very well be able to once again don my running shoes. Among so many other things, I am very grateful for this. (I am considering the ING Georgia marathon in April 2009 for my second – any feedback on this venue is greatly appreciated.)

Given my apparent progress, I can only surmise my self-prescribed Guinness treatments must be working.

Last night, Beth and I went to a yoga class – our first. Aside from being able to pick a sari clad, turbaned Yogi-like person out of a line up, I am completely ignorant of both the philosophy and techniques of yoga however, I’m interested in learning.

The class focused on learning to breathe properly and wasn’t overly physical but I did feel (literally) as if I participated more than I should as the already stretched ligaments and tendons in my shoulders grew increasingly loud in their protestations as the night went on. However with the help of a muscle relaxer, I slept well and feel pretty good today.

Pharmaceuticals can be so helpful, don’t you think?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

It's Good For You



For strictly medicinal purposes, I made a classic Black & Tan ...





And when It was complete ...



I took my medicine like a good boy.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Confessions Of A Junkie

Many believe there is nothing wrong with taking an occasional jog.

"Just this once," they say. "I know my limits."

Well I was one of those people and like many others I started with the occasional 5k, all the while telling myself, "Hey, I'm not hurting anyone. Besides, I can quit whenever I want." Then before I knew it, I was running regardless of the weather.

Rain - no big deal, snow - so what, freezing temps - who cares.

You get the picture.

Then suddenly one day, the 5k fix wasn't enough. I needed more. So I ran a 10k. But soon, that too failed to quell the growing monkey which was now securely on my back and as its grip tightened, I did a 1/2 marathon.

My dresser drawers began to overflow with race t-shirts. I found myself hanging out with other users like myself. I was spending all my money at Fleet Feet. I would leave the house before dawn in order to hide my addiction from my family and friends. I was a full fledged junkie.

I finally hit bottom and knew I needed help when I ran my first marathon. Now I'm in rehab. And as you can tell from the photo, it’s extreme. It’s cold turkey for 3 months and then they tell me I’ll gradually wean myself away from the addiction.

I don’t know though. Right now, I still get the urge to get out there when I see some other poor soul pounding the pavement.

So be careful. This running is some powerful stuff. It will lure you in and then before you realize it’s happened, “I want to run” becomes “I have to run!”

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Update From Tim

After being awakened several times during the course of the night for the ritualistic taking of the vitals, I finally awoke for good around 7am when my surgeon, Dr. Harron dropped in to tell me I was free to go and to my utter satisfaction, I would not be required to wear the dreaded collar nearly as much as I did the previous time I blew a disc. It seems advances in technology allowed for the utilization of a metal implement which requires less stabilization than that of the cylinder which was embedded six years ago.

And so once the discharge process was complete, I climbed aboard for my obligatory wheelchair ride from the room to the car and headed home. On the way, Beth stopped by Java The Hut, a local coffee drive-thru shop owned by our friend Bob, so I could satisfy my need for a real cup of coffee. (I find hospital coffee - and food - to be surprisingly bad considering the environment is one where healing is paramount.)

And from there we went home where I was immediately set upon by the dogs who are genetically hard wired to lick obsessively in order to insure the lickee completely appreciates how badly they were missed. Judging from the puddles dripping from me, I'd say they were very happy for my return although I don't really know why as it is clear it is Beth, and not I who is the alpha dog in our pack.

At any rate, I'm home for 2-3 weeks best case, 4-6 worst and while here in my oxycodone state of euphoria, I hope to get a lot of writing done as I currently have one newsletter due NOW (I am the editor of our local running club's newsletter - The Star City Striders) and another due in April (RFWDG). Hopefully the narcotics will have a positive impact on my writing as well as the post-op discomfort.

Many thanks to all who posted, called and emailed well wishes, prayers and support. It means a great deal to me and I am sincerely grateful. Also to Dr. Harron and everyone else at Carilion's Roanoke Memorial Hospital who ensured my stay was both as comfortable and as short as possible, I thank you ... but I hope I don't have to see you again anytime soon.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Update From Beth

To all our friends and family,

Thank you for all your thoughts, well wishes, and prayers! When I left Tim a short while ago, he was sleeping blissfully in a drug induced state.

Tim may be a bit more sore this go round, as some tendons had to be stretched in order to reach the disk affected, but we hope the recovery with go as smoothly as it did 6 years ago. He still has to wear a collar for 6 weeks, no driving for 6 weeks, and absolutely no running for 3 months!

After the usual plethora of phone calls and emails, letting the dogs out, feeding them and myself, I am once again off to the hospital. Will keep you posted!

Thanks again, Beth

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Deja Vu

This Tuesday (4 March), nearly six years to the day from my last blown disc surgery, I will be going under the knife to repair a herniated disc in between the C6 and C7 vertebrate.

At this rate, I will officially become the bionic man in another 18 years.

All running is on hold for the next 3 months as the aforementioned disks fuse together.

All good karma and well wishes are much appreciated.

This will be removed:











This will be inserted:











Like this:











And this is the stylish collar I will sport for six weeks:


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Birthday

Popeye took the picture.

Meme made the cake.

Lei Lei stole the show!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Post Doc Visit

As expected, my visit to the doctor’s office resulted in x-rays, narcotics and an MRI appointment for tomorrow.

The x-rays show my previously acquired metal cylinder, securely embedded between vertebrae’s C5 and C6. There it continues to perform the function of the disc it replaced six years ago while secretly awaiting the most opportune time to set off all manner of alarms in a major metropolitan airport.

Meanwhile the one just below seems to be degenerating. I suspect this to be causing the numbness and pain radiating down and through my right arm.

For the most part, the prescribed drugs are unsuited for the work place as they tend to bring on bouts of narcolepsy and leave me incapable of maintaining lucid conversation. So while at work, I take mega doses of Naproxen – which for some reason I find difficult to pronounce - while employing shock therapy with the aid of a Tens unit.

A Tens unit or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is a pocket size, portable, battery-operated device that sends electrical impulses to certain parts of the body to block pain signals. The electrical currents produced are mild, but can prevent pain messages from being transmitted to the brain and may raise the level of endorphins (natural pain killers produced by the brain).

That is of course provided one doesn’t turn the device up too high. Doing so will instead cause pain messages to be fast forwarded to the brain in rapid succession while causing one’s body to contort in the fashion of a Cirque du Soleil acrobat.

On my days off however, I’ve been ingesting happy pills which leave me floating about in a semi-conscious state while Beth takes care of me; which she does well and which I certainly do not deserve.

She and I both know what possibly lies ahead and neither of us looks forward to it with any degree of enthusiasm. However if indeed another metal cylinder is destined to take up residence in my spine, I know the ensuing recovery will be significantly less of a pain in the neck (pun obviously intended) because the woman I love will be with me, making sure I’m back on my feet and logging my miles as soon as possible.

Beth has always been there for me even when I’ve not been there as I should for her.

For those times, I am filled with remorse.

For temporarily losing sight of what is most important, I am sincerely sorry.

For falling headlong into a darkening abyss, I am overwhelmed with regret.

And for the opportunity to set things right, I am eternally grateful.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Ouch

Millions of people suffer from pain in their necks or arms. A common cause of cervical pain is a rupture or herniation of one or more of the cervical discs. This happens when the annulus of the disc tears and the soft nucleus squeezes out. As a result, pressure is placed on the nerve root or the spinal cord and causes pain in the neck, shoulders, arms and sometimes the hands. Cervical disc herniations can occur as a result of aging, wear and tear, or sudden stress like from an accident.

An anterior cervical discetomy is the most common surgical procedure to treat damaged cervical discs. Its goal is to relieve pressure on the nerve roots or on the spinal cord by removing the ruptured disc. It is called anterior because the cervical spine is reached through a small incision in the front of the neck (anterior means front). During the surgery, the soft tissues of the neck are separated and the disc is removed. In many cases, it is replaced with a metal cylinder which is fluted so as to allow the bone to grow through and fuse.
Prior to six years ago this coming March, I knew none of this. However it was then I experienced this procedure first hand and at that time was told I had another disc which was potentially suspect and may or may not present a problem in the future.

Fast forward into the future, i.e. now.

The old familiar pain and numbness is back.

Ergo my limited number of miles logged of late.

Off to the Doc tomorrow where I anticipate a prescription for some excellent narcotic based sleep aids and an MRI appointment.

Will keep you posted.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Tidbits

As I sat and contemplated the fact that my job, while certainly necessary, often stands in the way of my true desires, I began to reflect on occupations in general. And as is often the case, this single thought soon morphed into another as my mind randomly leapt from one unrelated subject to the next.

The results follow:

Most people do not like their jobs. Instead they view their chosen occupation as little more than the means to an end, a necessary evil, the vehicle which provides the ability to periodically indulge in that which they do indeed love.

Those who do truly love their jobs are fortunate but few.

The inherent joy brought by a grandchild is by design, indescribable.

A puppy is the only creature alive that remains cute even after repeatedly pooping in the middle of the kitchen floor.

True friends are few and not to be taken for granted.

All people want a better life but many are unwilling to make the sacrifices and take the necessary risks to improve their circumstances.

The more I wear a tie, the more I’m convinced they should go the way of the 8-Track tape.

Parties are more fun when hosted by someone else.

Wearing the same running clothes for three consecutive days takes me to an entirely new level of grossness.

Hindsight is often cruel.

Crossword puzzles are a healthy addiction.

No matter how tired I am or how good the bed feels, getting up in the morning and going for a run seems to always be worth it.

Finding the perfect birthday card is proof that God exists.

As a rule, professional athletes are profoundly overrated and grossly overpaid.

People who willingly appear on programs such as the Jerry Springer Show, embarrass the entire human race.

Birthdays should always be remembered and acknowledged.

Few things in life top a well told story.

Golf is the quintessential exercise in personal growth.

Affordable Health Care is the biggest oxymoron of this century.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I Did Not Run Today - I Shoveled

The weather forecast for today called for sleet and freezing rain.





I believe they missed it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Seldom Is It Just Black Or White

“Self doubt can be an ally. This is because it serves as an indicator of aspiration. It reflects love, love of something we dream of doing, and desire, desire to do it. If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends) ‘Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?’ chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self confident. The real one is scared to death.”
– Steven Pressfield

I came across this quote some time ago and it appealed to me on several levels. Consequently I promptly tucked it away in my “I’ll use this someday” file. Well, today is the day. Having worked for the past twenty years in a profession in which an inflated sense of self confidence and ego are essentially considered to be pre-requisites to success, I had never before considered any merit to be associated with self doubt.

On the contrary, self doubt was (and is) viewed in my profession, as in many others, as an indication of weakness, incompetence and failure. Therefore, while on life’s stage it lay safely (?) buried beneath a thin veneer of false bravado.

And while in many ways, this technique seemed to serve me well, I now recognize this method of dealing with self confidence issues as one fraught with pitfalls and one I’ve employed throughout all aspects of my life. What I have come to see is that by dealing with these issues in this manner, I created an internal environment which would inevitably collapse.

And eventually, it did.

And when it did, it forced me to open my eyes and think about myself and my way of thinking in a different context.

It forced me to be honest with myself.

It forced me to change.

And as a result, among other things, I now view self confidence and self doubt as two sides of the same coin, constantly complementing one another and keeping one another in check. I now know how important it is to remain alert so that one never allows the other to get out of hand.

I now realize these two states of consciousness are not mutually exclusive, but are instead mutually beneficial.

In other words, each is important in order to maintain balance in life.

Beth may tell you I completely forget about this when we play backgammon as I tend to get a tad (well, more than a tad) cocky, but believe me, it’s never been clearer to me in my life.

I suppose I’ve always known life isn’t only black or white but somehow, somewhere, I forgot for awhile.

It’s good to have the gray back in my life.