Running man

2013/11/28 at 08:27

As a kid, I wasn’t very intentionally athletic; I didn’t take part in sports leagues (mostly because I lived in the middle of nowhere) and my interest in school athletics died out after middle school when it got competitive. In high school, I fulfilled my PE credits with marching band.

Despite my lack of interest in physical fitness, when I was 16 or 17 I started jogging, and I’ve been at it since pretty regularly since. The other day, I decided to total up the number of miles I’ve probably run in my life. I’m currently running 12-20 miles per week, but there were periods–especially when the kids were young and we lived in a colder climate–where I ran a lot less. So, I figure 10 miles per week or 500 miles per year is a safe average. At that rate, I’ve run around 16,500 miles in 33 years. Again, let’s round that down to a nice 15K miles for good measure. I find that amazing!

Tie-dye party

2013/07/13 at 14:27

A couple of months ago, a very creative friend of ours hosted a tie-dye party. It’s actually quite an involved process. You have to soak the shirts for 15 minutes in advance, then tie and dye them, and then 24 hours later, you have to rinse them thoroughly, apply a fixative and then wash them with a fixative detergent.

She purchased the dyes and other chemicals (about $160 worth, I think she said) and then invited several families over to do the tie-dying in her front yard. The following evening, I spent several hours rinsing our clothing on the deck and washing them. We had a lot of fun, and I made the shirt below, as well as a couple of T-shirts. I’m afraid my attention to detail wasn’t very good, but every time I wear this shirt, I get compliments, so I guess I did well enough.

Stan's fetching swimming attire

Do you know anyone who…?

2013/05/02 at 10:56

Recently, Charlie Pierce got thinking about how well Americans of one group know others outside their group. He got a polling organization to ask a set of “Do you know anyone who…?” questions, and here are the results:

Results: The percentage of Americans who don’t know anyone who…

  • Died in Iraq or Afghanistan: 87%
  • Is part of a married gay couple: 76%
  • Was a victim of gun violence: 73%
  • Has HIV/AIDS or died of AIDS: 72%
  • Is an illegal immigrant: 71%
  • Is a millionaire: 63%
  • Is in jail: 62%
  • Committed suicide: 59%
  • Had an abortion: 49%
  • Lost his/her job in the financial crisis: 46%
  • Doesn’t have health care: 31%
  • Has been arrested: 26%
  • Owns a gun: 22%
  • Served in the military: 17%

In reading through the list, I realized I do, in fact, know people who meet almost all of these criteria.

Here are my responses:

  • Died in Iraq or Afghanistan: No
  • Is part of a married gay couple: Yes
  • Was a victim of gun violence: Yes
  • Has HIV/AIDS or died of AIDS: Yes
  • Is an illegal immigrant: Yes
  • Is a millionaire: Yes
  • Is in jail: Yes
  • Committed suicide: attempted, yes, succeeded, not that I can think of.
  • Had an abortion: Yes
  • Lost his/her job in the financial crisis: Depends on how you define ‘financial crisis’
  • Doesn’t have health care: Yes
  • Has been arrested: Yes
  • Owns a gun: Yes
  • Served in the military: Yes

So, I apparently have a much broader experience than the average American. I would like to think that it makes me more accepting, but I don’t want to flatter myself. I’m not sure what else to take from this survey and my answers except to try to keep in mind that many of the people around me do not have such broad experience with their fellow residents of the US.

The love of a dog

2012/12/04 at 09:49

Profound thoughts:

It was my birthday yesterday, and I had to lay down Mister President, my dog of ten years, to rest forever.

. . .

Mister President came to me at the height of my selfishness, during a time of my life when, fundamentally, I was interested only in myself, despite all the relationships I’d had up until that point. And when he came to me, he taught me how to care for someone else, to devote myself to someone else, to really love someone else — unreservedly and unconditionally .

. . .

In this way, he saved me. Without him, I don’t know if I would have been ready to fall in love with Laura when I met her, and more importantly, I don’t know if I would have known how to sustain that love. And without Mister President, I don’t know if I would have been equipped to care for and truly love our wonderful daughter.

In and of themselves, those are two enormous gifts that he gave me. This is what dogs do, I guess. You think you’re doing all the giving. But they give you more than you know in return.

On Death

2012/12/04 at 08:31

We have dealt with the deaths of several people close to us in the last few years. This comment on MetaFilter really speaks to me:

 This is what helplessness feels like. Nobody is good at watching someone they love pass away. In the face of fear and sadness and anger and denial, when your brain is spending most of its processing power yelling and then crying and then yelling again “No! Noooooo! No!” for days or weeks on end, you don’t always do the best things. You don’t do the things you’d imagined you would do. You don’t do the things you will wish you had done, when you spend the ensuing years reliving those final hours with your mom or your dad or your spouse. You feel like a drowning person, flailing about for something to hold onto, but there’s nothing to hold. You try all the coping methods that have worked in the past: tell a funny joke, give them something to be proud of, distract yourself, even lie and say it’s all going to be ok, but it all seems crass, and none of it stops the dying.

But that’s ok. It’s horrible and terrifying and you do everything wrong, and still somehow there is beauty in your very failure. You are being forced to face up to something huge, and your inability to handle it is part of what makes you human, part of the price you pay for loving deeply. There is a profound honesty in this fumbling, an admission that the loss of this person is leaving you directionless.

My hero

2010/04/07 at 21:12

Yesterday’s Fresh Air* featured an interview with Richard Phillips, the merchant marine captain whose ship was intercepted by Somali pirates. Capt. Phillips was taken hostage by the pirates and was freed after several days when US Navy sharpshooters killed the pirates.
I love Capt. Phillips’ no-nonsense description of the affair, especially this part (emphasis added):

DAVIES: How did you react emotionally to the experience in those first few days?
Capt. PHILLIPS: I did have problems. The first two nights, I would find myself waking up at five o’clock in the morning and just be crying my eyes out, bawling – something a New England sea captain doesn’t do too much. It was sort of strange to me. So I would, you know, throw some water in my face, and I was just going, what are you a wimp? I’m alive. What do you got to be complaining about? I was able to talk to -actually, one of the SEALs insisted I talk to a psychologist, and I did. And he really broke it down into chemicals that are excreted by your various glands and what happens, and he would ask me questions about things I had.
And the only problem I had was I would wake up, at that time – it happened twice to me, the first two nights I was off the life raft. After talking to him after the second morning, he gave me – he asked me, what did I do? And I said, well, I told you, just what I said. I’d throw water on my face. I’d go take a shower. I’d say what are you a wimp? What’s your problem? And he said, well, don’t do that. Don’t fight it. Let it flow. Let it flow as long as it goes. And so I followed his advice and I let it flow. I just sat there in my bed and I probably cried, bawled like a little kid for, I’m going to say two minutes. And then it ran its course, I dried up. Then I threw water on my face, I took a shower and started my day with my coffee, and I never had a problem after that.

That’s hard core.
* Dave Davies was filling in for Terri Gross, so I was able to listen without scratching my ears off. Did I mention that I love Fresh Air but hate Terri Gross’ interview style?

My 15 minutes of fame–or an hour weekly

2009/12/16 at 09:51

Earlier this week, I received a call from a producer at Voice America (internet) talk radio network. She wanted to know if I’d be interested in hosting my own weekly radio show.
I had never heard of Voice America and I was surprised at the offer. My first question: why me? She gave me a suspiciously non-specific answer, something like “Our hosts are people who are published or who are leaders in their fields.” Second question: so, what field do you think I lead? Her answer: software design. Okaaaaaaay.
I asked her a few more questions and ascertained that the offer does not come with remuneration. Since I’m already very busy, and because the whole conversation set off my scam warning bells, I declined.
After the call, I did a little Googling, and it appears that Voice America is indeed on the level, but I’m still perplexed at how the producer found me and why she thinks I might have something interesting enough to say that I’d draw a weekly audience–without her apparently having a firm idea of the topic that I would base my show on. I’m still scratching my head at the whole thing.
Do you have any knowledge of Voice America? Do you know anyone else who has been approached about hosting a show?

Church celebration

2009/10/09 at 14:16

Our church has recently been undergoing some significant renovation and repair work. During this work, a time capsule was discovered; it was placed when the sanctuary building was build 100 years ago.
A couple of weeks ago we celebrated the 100th anniversary of its sanctuary building. As part of the celebration, we placed a new time capsule behind the cornerstone. Here is some local news coverage from the event:

A study in contrasts

2009/09/13 at 09:09

A few days ago, I posted a Facebook update about http://www.rescuemarriage.org/ (it’s not available as I’m writing this; probably got too much traffic and the web host suspended the account). It’s a clever satire site pointing out the hypocrisy of people who supported California’s Proposition 8.
The reactions on Facebook are testimony to how different my life is now from the way I grew up. The two people who liked this post whose names are not blurred out in the image below are current liberal friends who clearly got the satire of the site. The third person who liked the post is someone I knew in high school. She regularly posts updates about rabidly conservative politics, so I’m 99.999% sure that she would not agree with the site if she had actually visited it. And the one person who says she has the same tacky painting of Jesus in her house is also someone I knew in high school. Ugh.
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Observations of a Sheriff’s Patrolman

2009/08/24 at 11:02

My dad’s cousin is a sheriff’s deputy in a fairly rural Kansas county. He emails out his weekly report to some family members. They’re usually a good read, both for the kinds of things he encounters and for his dry humor. Highlights from this week’s report:

Deputies were called to a disturbance. When they arrived, the woman causing the disturbance ran out the back door and hid. The Deputies observed a dog standing outside the door to a camper wagging its tail. They opened the camper and found the intoxicated woman inside. She went to jail and later was found to have a warrant issued by another county. She may have to sober up in custody.
I received another call of a cow on highway [redacted] at mile post 58. I did not find anything. I talked to a stock raiser who told me that he thought it was one of his heifers. The heifer must have had a police scanner because it crawled back through the fence when I was dispatched.
I picked up a prisoner from another agency. She was wanted on a check warrant. She was 78 years old. She had a pace maker, and previously knee and hip replacement, as well as a stroke and a heart attack. It appears that a relative may have been passing her checks. She was transported home by a Deputy after court. Her son was in jail in another county, and her daughter did not have a car. The lady has problems we cannot solve.