Category Archives: Current news

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

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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

Doing It When You Don’t Want To

IRoads I was not exactly raring to go this morning. It was cold and drizzly, and it’s Day 1 being laid off from a job. I’ve never been laid off from a job. Not in over forty years of working. It is an odd feeling, to say the least.

The pool is closed today, so my schedule said I was running instead. My brain sort of said my schedule really should not matter. My heart dictated differently. So I got up at my normal time, layered up and headed to the track for sprints and bleacher work. After all, my first 10K of the new year is a week and a half away.

I got to the track and ran my laps. The bleachers were wet and slick and not looking all that safe. But something propels me to get up there and run them anyway. I am pushed on, not so much by my lack of a place to go today (though I do have work to do and resumes to send out and interviews to set up) as I am by a book I am reading, Find A Way, the autobiography of marathon swimmer Diana Nyad. It was not until she was 64 years old and on her fifth try that she achieved her dream of the Cuba-to-Florida swim. That means there were four failures before that. Failures that took a toll on her family, her friends, her health and her finances. And that’s on top of a childhood filled with sexual and physical abuse at the hands of both her father and swimming coach. The loss of her brother to schizophrenia and her mother to Alzheimer’s. How does anyone climb out of a place so dark  and not only survive, but keep focused and training and moving forward until they achieve exactly what they know they can do?

She did, and compared to her, my dark place is a just little ditch. The book was a Hanukkah gift, but the timing of its arrival was perfect. I’ll be fine.

 

 

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January 7, 2016 · 1:51 am

I Hate To Say This About Caitlyn Jenner…

…but (s)he looks better in a dress than I ever did.

Really.

For most women, it’s a little black dress. For Caitlyn Jenner, it’s freedom.

I’m not proud of that statement. But I am happy for Jenner. Note that I am still using the dual pronoun, since 1) all the physical gender transformation surgery is not completed, and 2) the legal paperwork (birth certificate, Social Security and driver’s license) is not done. Jenner has adopted the feminine pronoun, so I have to respect that, too.

There’s a lot out there on this issue. Many just don’t understand why, at this stage of life, Jenner didn’t just buck up and accept life as a male. After all, he had the Olympic glory, the wives, the kids, the Wheaties box and other spokesman gigs, the reality show and made pretty decent money throughout. Why bother to do this now?

Others just plain hate Jenner for it, calling what (s)he’s doing the result of a sick and deranged mind, a case of body dysmorphic disorder, a cry for attention or a plot to get a new reality show.

But others, from his own children to other transgenders including Laverne Cox of Orange is the New Black, are speaking up on social media, not only applauding the transition, but going so public with it as to put it on the cover of Vanity Fair, in a pretty provocative outfit and pose.

I’m happy for Jenner, and on a somewhat different level, I understand the here and now of it. Jenner simply wants to look like the other girls. Jenner wants the woman inside to match on the outside. That’s not hard to figure out. (S)he’s known for years that something was not “right,” that the image presented to the world and the image in the private mirror did not match. But years ago, the timing wasn’t right to make the change. Athletics, marriages, young children and making a superstar’s living took priority. But with all that out of the way, and moving away from the chronic chaos that is the Kardashian clan, Jenner now has time for Jenner, and living the life that perhaps should have been all those years ago.

It is not sick, deranged or wrong to realize that who you really are and who you’ve been presenting to the world are at war with one another. Better to do whatever you can, whatever you have to in order to reconcile the two and live life to the best and fullest. Jenner is fortunate to have the love and support of family, friends and transgendered individuals, known and unknown, to get through this. The very public admission of what has been a balancing act of a life lived and the new found freedom of a life to come is the mark of a brave soul, gender notwithstanding.

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Filed under Current news, sex change, transgender

A salute to old warbirds

A B-24 is beautiful to look at, but a beast to walk through. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

A B-24 is beautiful to look at, but a beast to walk through. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

I did a 10K race and swam yesterday, and felt just fine. In fact, I took four minutes off my last 10K time.

Upon arriving home, The Husband thought it would be fun to visit some old WWII planes at a local airport; a B-17, a B-24 and a P-51 Mustang. The planes are part of The Collings Foundation, a traveling exhibit that goes to local airports, offering rides to the public (for very high, but totally worthwhile prices) and teaching war aviation history to generations who will never know what it was like to literally fly by less than the seat of your pants.

I agreed to go. I like planes and airports and most things aviation-related, though I admit to being less than a stellar air passenger. I don’t get airsick or panicked, but I don’t enjoy flying all that much. It’s more to do with having a control-freak nature. I need to take a lot of reading material with me to take my mind off the fact that my feet are not connected to the ground, and other than the dollhouse-sized restrooms, I have nowhere to go inside that long metal tube.

When we arrived at the airport and paid our entrance fee, our first task was climbing under and inside the B-24. I am not accustomed to ducking under anything, being quite short. But even I had to first crawl under and then inside. It’s cramped, dirty and smells like old engine oil upon older engine oil. Bare minimum, stripped down, hard metal green surfaces, lots of angles and black boxy little letters denoting equipment, storage and dangerous things. There are windows and gunner openings, but it’s still a claustrophobic space to conduct a war. You stoop and step slowly, trying to imagine navigating through the plane while it’s noisy, you’re hot or cold and under fire.

Then came the B-17 adventure.

This time, no crawling under, but up an aluminum ladder. First stop is stooped over in the cockpit, waiting for the people who entered ahead of us to go through. I knew this was not going to end well when I heard a woman’s nervous voice and what I thought were giggles, and her talking about being afraid of falling. What happened next was the sound of panic in the plane, a full-blown frenzy. “I CAN’T DO THIS! I CAN’T MOVE! I CAN’T GO FORWARD! DON’T PUSH ME! I’M AFRAID I’M GOING TO FALL! I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE!!!!!!” The woman ahead of us was mired in panic attack mode, unable to move forward or back. Dropping out of the center of the plane, paratrooper style, was not an option, thanks to the replica bombs in the way. So she left the way she came; backing out, whimpering all the way, with her husband yelling unhelpful things the entire time.

She was wearing green pants and pink sneakers. For some reason, I’ll always remember that. I’ll also remember to thank a service member more often. No matter what branch or which war, whether in miles of desert or a few feet of foxhole, military service is a thankless job.

 

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Filed under Current news

Planting something in a food desert

No fresh food for an entire town is something no one wants to imagine.

I’ve got some thoughts rambling through my head at the moment, so maybe some of you can help straighten them out.

One of our local towns, population about 2,000,  is about to become a food desert; that is, a town with no source of fresh food. The only grocery store is set to close shortly. There are other grocery stores outside the city limits, but for many people without cars, those are not within walking distance. And pubic transit here sucks.

I write about food, and I am particularly passionate about fresh and local food. Organic fresh and local food is good, but this town’s inhabitants have a median income that does not lend itself to buying the more expensive organic food, so fresh and as local as possible would be good. Unemployment is high and high-paying jobs almost nonexistent.

The town has other issues: crime, drug and gang violence. There are neighborhoods that are not safe at any hour.

The town has a primarily African-American population. What I love about this town is the number of small ethnic restaurants: Jamaican, Haitian, Mexican, Central American and Caribbean places that offer great food in less-than-glamorous surroundings, which of course means that the price of a meal is right.

There are large corporations doing business near this town, but they are either national companies and/or have around a long time and have a loyal and steady workforce, and that workforce makes enough money to have personal transportation. There’s no city money to pay an incentive for someone to come in here and open a grocery store. And with profit margins pretty thin (between one and one and a half percent), who would take the risk?

But what about everyone else? How do people who cannot access a grocery store eat? And do they have the right to expect such access?

They rely on friends and family for a ride, eat unhealthy and expensive fast food or from convenience stores, use food pantries, free school lunches, free senior meal deliveries and the occasional holiday handouts. It’s a tenuous way to live, especially if you are feeding your kids.

I’d like to get involved in feeding a community, not just for a day, but for a lot longer. Maybe forever. Never been in that line of work, though. How do I get started? How would you get started?

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Filed under budget, Children, Current news, food, hunger, poverty

Are You My Mom?

Katheryn Deprill is doing something many of us could not fathom.

She’s looking for the woman who gave birth to her, and then abandoned her. Not by putting her up for adoption, or taking her to a an obvious place like a hospital or fire station, but placing her in a fast-food restaurant restroom, and leaving her there.

Twenty-seven years ago, someone out there left a newborn baby girl in an Allentown, PA Burger King

I'm cute...but where did I come from?

I’m cute…but where did I come from?

bathroom. She was found, taken in by a foster family who later adopted her, grew up in a happy and safe home, got married and now has three children of her own.

She is using social media in the hopes of reconnecting with the woman who did not throw her away that day, but at least left her in a warm, public place in the hopes that she would be found. She was, and she’s not angry.

Whoever you are, your daughter wants to know who you are more than why you did it.

She wants to know if she has other siblings more than how you decided to choose that restaurant restroom to give her a shot at a new life.

She needs to know her medical history, for her own sake and that of her children, more than what was going through your mind the day you decided you could not be the mom she needed.

Whatever you have in terms of material possessions, your daughter wants to add to it with love, not take any of it away.

Personally, I’m not sure I’d be so forgiving. Deprill sounds excited and eager to find out where she came from, rather than how or why. So if you are Katheryn Deprill’s mom, let her know.

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Filed under Children, Current news, Relationships, social media