Category Archives: Current news

A better idea for Veteran’s Day

Amidst the backlash, bombast and brouhaha that’s brewing in this country and the NFL regarding standing versus kneeling during the national anthem,  there is yet one more topic of discussion: the idea of a viewer afootvallnd attendance boycott over the upcoming Veteran’s Day weekend. The boycott organizers urge fans not to attend, watch, listen or stream games, not to purchase gear or interact with the National Football League in any way on Sunday, November 12. The boycott page has attracted some interest from a few thousand people and a lot of Likes. Then again, anything that screams “I’m a patriot!” (the American revolutionary kind, as opposed to the New England football team mascot) is going to get attention.

Is this the right kind of reaction? Is kneeling for the national anthem the right kind of reaction? Does either one accomplish a real purpose? In the sense that we can and we do have the opportunity to express our beliefs freely here, there is a purpose. In the sense that we continue all the conversations when our president prefers it to be only one-sided, shutting out any dissent or alternative discourse, the is a purpose. At some point, when attention to this situation wanes and other news relegates it to background noise, we’ll stop giving it so much press and cease caring about it more than nuclear proliferation, starvation, mass shootings and the multiple natural disasters of the last few weeks.

But here’s a better idea. Ask a veteran what they think about this. If you don’t know one, go to your local VA hospital, nursing home, halfway house or senior center. Plenty of vets in these places. Plenty of televisions, too. Offer to sit with a vet on November 12, and listen to their stories and sorrows. Maybe those old soldiers and sailors, those Marines and pilots and gunners can teach you something.  Bring some snacks and a little patience. These folks are slowed by time but worthy of yours. And they just may decide that the whole boycott idea is hooey, because they earned respect and honor without anyone standing up for them before now.

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Filed under Aging, Current news, football, Holiday, National Football League, television, Veteran's Day

It’s True: I Read Playboy for the Articles

imagesHugh Hefner, the publisher of Playboy, died at age 91 on Sept. 27. Loved, reviled, admired, despised, seen as an icon of sexual liberation and a pornography promoter, few people stood in middle ground when discussing him, his empire and his life.

My dad was one of those millions who bought Playboy for something other than the words, and then hid the magazine, figuring the kids would never find it.

He was wrong. And not very good about his hiding places. I found his stash and actually did read them. The naked ladies didn’t mean much. I did not, and do not, look like them, and never associated with anyone who did. I don’t recall feeling personally slighted by the photos. I just never made any real connection to them.

What mattered were the words: the poetry, fiction, short stories and essays by the influential and still unknown. Renown writers I later studied in high school wrote for the magazine: Joseph Heller, John Updike, Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut, Truman Capote, Hunter S. Thompson and Gabriel Garcia Marquez contributed to Playboy. Women’s writing appeared as well: Ursula Le Guin, Joyce Carol Oates and Germaine Greer. And there was The Interview, where the famous, the illustrious and the controversial agreed to a let-it-all-hang-out-sit-down: Jimmy Carter, Donald Trump, Miles Davis, Bette Davis, Stanley Kubrick, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Siskel and Ebert…the Interviews comprise a time capsule of  history as no other print publication ever captured.

If I write well today, it’s because I was influenced by those early readings, and I am grateful for them. I don’t know how the history of the sexual revolution will handle Hugh Hefner, whether he will be embraced or excluded, but this is one writer happy to acknowledge his daring, at least as far as the written word is concerned.

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Filed under Careers, Current news, death, freelancing

Palm Fronds, The Poodle Tree and Banana Bread

We survived Irma. And did pretty well, thank you.

Aside from landscape damage and some fence sections down, the house is fine. The cats were listless and annoyed, likely due to temperatures inside the housimagese getting close to 90° during the 72 hours we were without power. All they wanted to do was eat and sleep, which is pretty much all they do during any normal day.

I made a bazillion trips from backyard to the driveway, dragging tree branches from the one shade-providing tree we had. Let’s just say that in canine terms, it was a big, shaggy dog before the storm. Now it looks like a poodle with a very bad haircut. About half the tree is gone (The Husband did the best surgery he could) and instead of throwing shade, it’s just throwing crumpled leaves.

One palm tree out front snapped in half, and about 10 palm fronds bent, pointy end towards the earth. The Husband expertly removed those, too.  It looks better out there, but my  Sunday afternoon shady car washing spot is history.

When the power returned, I used the bananas I bought pre-storm to make a good banana bread, and shared it with the ladies at my salon. I figured everyone could use a little sweetness at this point. And frankly, there’s nothing like turning the oven up to 350° and baking a loaf of comfort to remind you how nice it is that you can shut off the oven in an hour and the house will still be nice and cool.

Hurricane Irma was ugly in a different way than Hurricane Harvey. It’s made places ugly, unstable and downright unlivable by force of wind and some flooding, rather than wind plus the sheer magnitude of  rain. In both cases, people lost homes, cars, businesses, pets, power and boats. But most have yet to lose their sense of humor and determination to fix up, clean up, restore and revitalize what’s theirs and what belongs to their neighbors and community. Our own house is still a very, very, very fine house, to quote the Crosby, Stills and Nash song.  Keep donating to the hurricane relief efforts of your choice, and help make everyone’s house a very, very, very fine house once more.

 

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Filed under charity, Current news, donation, Hurricane Irma

College is funny and confuses me

Two of my nieces are now in college, one as a fcollege booksreshman and one a sophomore. And I am confused.

College campuses today are nothing like my college campus forty-something years ago.

Case in point: my brother texts me that he bought his daughter a block of 50 meals to get her started this year. I had no clue what he meant. I assumed he either:

  1. Went to the grocery store, spent a lot of money and borrowed a semi to haul the food to her new apartment,

or

2.  Ordered from an online meal delivery service, and six FedEx trucks would show up with a forest’s worth of boxes containing artfully packaged ingredients and instruction cards with pretty pictures showing what the final dish is supposed to look like.

Turned out to be neither of these options. He ordered meals on the university’s dining program and put them on her account, so she could grab quick and healthy food between classes without going to her off-campus apartment.

I never had that choice. You lived on campus, you ate on campus (and the food was pretty good). You lived off campus, you were on your own. There were no food courts, coffee shops or pick-and-choose meal plans. The closest we came to choice was the line of vending machines in the Student Union. A walk downtown meant fast food, diner fare and the bars, but the legal drinking age was 21 and you’d gain that “Freshman 15” in a month if you frequented the local restaurants (I do still have a soft spot for sticky buns and Wuv’s onion rings, however).

College kids have ID cards now. The cards are a form of campus credit, used to pay for books, meals, laundry, printing and the like, which is a fine idea. Sadly, the cards identify students, as opposed to angry and violent strangers lurking on campus. I never had that worry back in the day.

Political correctness is a bigger issue today than it used to be. I like the idea of fairness, equality and the need for every voice to be heard. But forty years ago, when a controversial speaker was coming to campus, you did not go to listen if their message was not your message. Or you protested peacefully. There were no threats, violence, beatings or people killed for their personal conduct.

I hope the girls have a great year. I hope they learn a lot and advance in their chosen professions (pre-law and actuarial science). But even more, I hope they enjoy meeting new people, value commitment to a kind and generous world, and never become complacent.

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Filed under Children, Current news, family

Entering the (dev)ice age

I recently took stock of the things that keep my human bits going day after day. It’s not an attractive list.

Multiple prescription meds, including the one recently added for chronic dry eye syndrome (not caused by swimming, but probably not helped by it, either). The OTCs, including pills for major muscle pain; the balms, salves, ointments, creams and patches for assorted aches; the earplugs (so I can sleep), the elbow brace (keeps my right arm straight to prevent nighttime cramps), saline nasal solution (periodic allergy relief), mouth guard (for TMJ), the toe separator (bunion that needs removal some day)…

keds

For the days when this was all we needed for play.

Some of the issues are age-related: the body breaks down and does not recover like it used to. Some are stress-related, some are inherited. As I gaze at the medicine cabinet, with more first aid products than my local pharmacy, I sometimes wonder how I still get up and function. It does not surprise me that people give in to pain, relying on prescription painkillers, booze and the indulgence of others to relieve their suffering. I used to watch a show on the A&E network called Intervention, where family and friends of an addict would lead them into a meeting and tell the addict they were loved and cherished, but admission into a treatment facility was something they had to do, or everyone in the room was forsaking them. I was fascinated with how people got to the point of addiction and living at their lowest point in the first place, particularly when many addicts seem to start out with a normal life. Both the state and county I reside in are in the midst of an opioid epidemic, where people overdose and die every day. Most of these dead are young people, whose lives were unremarkable until things took one bad turn. Pain started,  pain moved into unbearable territory, drugs came next and the war they would never win began.

 

I am happy every day for my average life, with average challenges. I’ll take this any day, along with average aches and pains, over dealing with worse. Meanwhile, I noticed these new compression running socks online the other day and I was wondering…

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A job update: I am starting part-time work next week, with a very nice property management company. Nice people, good hours, and interesting work. Looking forward to trying something new!

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Filed under athletic competition, blogging, Current news, Cycling, drugs, Exercise, mental health, opioid

Olympics done, my racing begins

After a two-month break from competition (but not from training), it’s time to plan, pay and play once again.

I have a new calendar and it is getting full already. At this point, I have one free weekend in September, October and November. December has one competition (the state Senior Games), to be followed by minor surgery and two weeks off. I ramp it back up and prep for an event I said I’d never do again (a half-marathon) in March.

Some would say I have lost my mind. I question whether I ever had any sanity to work with in the first place. Regardless, I am having fun at this, even when the body is tired and the brain cannot keep up with work, workouts and stuff at home. And I don’t have kids. I have no idea how people who have kids do it all. They are brave and heroic souls.

It’s been fun and inspiring to watch the Rio Olympics. I’ve learned new stroke techniques during the swim competition, and picked up a pointer or two on transitions during the triathlon. And let’s be honest: at age 41, few really thought Meb Keflezighi was going to medal in the men’s marathon event. It was an amazing achievement that he qualified to be there, and while his 33rd place finish was not memorable, he turned a slip at the end into some Jack Palance-worthy pushups.

So much about the Olympics was good – there were moments of athletic greatness and  sportsmanship, along with compassionate acts and contributions for residents of Rio’s favelas for whom the Games held no benefit, other than to spotlight their plight. And then you have Ryan Lochte and his little band of ugly American aquatic brothers, with their party-hard attitude coupled with the ability to lie badly about it afterwards. A trio that deserves a podium of their own – gold, silver and bronze in the douchebag competition.

With these games over (and the even more powerful Paralympics yet to come), it’s time to dig down, rest up, eat well and train steady. It’s time to go out and play. inspire

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Filed under athletic competition, Current news, Cycling, Exercise, Rio Olympics 2016, Running, Swimming, travel, triathlon gear, Triathlons

A nation at half-staff

flag

Once again, our nation is in mourning.

We hardly had time to digest the idea of dozens killed in the Orlando nightclub shooting, and now this. Five dead in Dallas. Police officers all, but human beings with spouses, friends, children and lives. Killed by snipers who did not know them and did not care who they were outside those uniforms. To their killers, they were nothing more than symbols and targets; representative of an idea so hated and reviled that to end their lives was worth the snipers possibly losing theirs.

Are you asking yourself where we went wrong as a society at this point? Or just moving on from the headlines and twenty-four hour news cycle, certain that something else will supplant this story, as it always does?

The uniformed professions – police, fire and paramedic – are not only noble and proud, they are necessary. Who are you going to call to save your burning house, catch the thief who stole your car or aid a loved one in a car accident if not any of them? Are you going to learn all those skills, and practice them enough to not only become good at them, but conquer your fear of walking into a burning building, chasing an armed suspect or crawling under a gasoline-drenched wreck?

I get that people are angry, frustrated and looking for justice after a number of recent police-involved shootings and deaths of unarmed civilians. Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, Philandro Castile, Corey Jones, Freddie Gray and Eric Garner are some of the more famous names. In 2015, over 100 blacks were killed in police incidents. That’s 100 too many if none were justified use of force. If 100 whites were killed the same way, the outrage would bring more than just protests. It would change laws.

But trying to even the score by dealing death from tall buildings and dark corners does nothing to change history. It only perpetuates the us-versus-them acrimony over a gulf so wide that soon, no bridge can ever be built to bring both sides together. Change has to start now and with the youngest and most impressionable: the children. You can teach trust as easily as mistrust. Outreach has to come from both sides: police officers have to make the split-second decision to defend themselves and others, but also have to see their role inside the community as one of peace and leadership, not just continually on the defensive role.

There will be another Dallas; there’s no question that crazy attracts more crazy and they try to outdo each other. But there is something more ominous in this kind of crazy: the fact that people feel left out, angry and unwilling to wait for solutions. And with that disenfranchisement, you often find those willing to deal in desperate measures.

 

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Filed under Current news, death, Murder, Police brutality, Police shootings, thought