Ad astra per aspera

I have been blessed in life.  That is, I’ve not suffered.  Most of my complaining is about what my friends and I jokingly refer to as “first world problems.”  This is an elitist term in most every sense, but, there it is.  I don’t worry about where my next meal is coming from, nor whether my route to work is safe from roadside bombs, nor whether this very blog is under government scrutiny as to its content which could land me in prison.  Also, my life has been comparatively free from suffering/  Aside from the occasional death in the family or broken bone, I have lived a relatively pain free existence.  Still, one decade ago, my life changed in an immeasurable way.

Many of you readers will remember my friend, Melisa.  We met online in a chat room back in the nascent days of the internet (Thank you, Al Gore!) and we became good friends.  Best friends, even. I looked forward to chatting with her online, sending emails, talking on the phone, and sending actual letters (which people still did back then).  We talked about our lives, our futures, even weather patterns.  You see, in Kansas and Kentucky, our respective states, even weather can be an interesting topic.  As I write this, it’s sixty degrees in mid-December.  Anyway, before I met my wife, Melisa was the person with whom I shared everything that my life had to offer, and I believe she did the same.

Still, 10 years ago, all that came crashing down.  Melisa was murdered in her own home that morning and the world as I knew it changed.  Yes, some will recall that the world was already altered in a post 9/11 landscape, but somehow I stayed insulated from that.  But, the loss of my best friend was devastating to me.  It changed how I walked down the street; how I thought of other people.  Even now, every time I leave the house and I turn to lock the door, I think of her and how she died.  And even though we’d only seen each other in person twice in our whole life, I lost part of who I was when she was killed.  I know that her family and close (geographically) friends are even more overwhelmed by the loss because Melisa was a bright spot in the universe.  

Which leads me to the title of this post.  Ad astra per aspera is the state motto of Kansas and it translates “To the stars through difficulties.”  Melisa was an ardent defender of her state and, once, in my off-the-cuff manner through an attempt at a cheap laugh, I made light of her state being flat and boring.  She treated me to an extended discourse on how wrong I was and even sent me a travel guide for the great state of Kansas to show me the error of my ways.  I never made light of Kansas again…at least not for its geophysical qualities.  But, the one thing that stuck with me was the motto which I found intriguing.  I also like to believe that, for Melisa, the motto became true.  I believe she is among the stars, even though it came through difficulty: for her and for those she left behind.

I don’t know what lies beyond.  I don’t believe anyone does.  I hope that one day I get to see Melisa again, if only for one last chat.  If that doesn’t happen, I’ll have to be content with the memories that I do have of a shining example of how life should be lived.  I will miss you Melisa, today and always.

News roundup

As I sit here pondering this blog post, I realize that I don’t have much to say.  I also realize that whatever I write at this moment will be lackluster and mostly filler.  Then I realized, hey, that’s exactly what most of the national news is…filler.  Still, here’s the latest on what’s hit the wire lately.

TSA pat-downs: The reason there are pat-downs is because people refuse the body scan.  The reason there are body scans is because people continue to try and blow up planes.  The reason people continue to try and blow up planes is because…well, I don’t know, because they’re crazy maybe?!  The reason people are crazy is because they see a disparity between how they live and how Americans live, I guess.  Anyway, it seems that Pistole (what a name for the head of TSA) is determined that this is how things are gonna be.  And, let me just say this…can’t blame this one on President Obama.  This TSA bullshit is courtesy of the last guy.  So, all of you who were so excited about what a great job Dubya did after 9/11…please step through the metal detector and hope for the best.

Mining disasters:  Is it just me or do there seem to be a lot more mining disasters these days?  Or are they just getting more attention?  I’m guessing at this point that it’s somewhat like shark attacks.  Still, it does seem like that mines could be a lot safer.  It is an inherently dangerous job, but there are ways to be safe.  And, unfortunately, Kentucky seems to have a poor track record in that department.  Of course, they’ve solved some of this by not sending people down in the mountain.  They just blow the mountain apart using the equivalent of atomic bombs to get the coal.  And then they dump the rubble and other “overburden” into streams, killing wildlife and poisoning groundwater.  But, y’know, whatever helps the bottom line.

North Korea: Well, well, well…seems ol’ Kim Jong-Il has managed to build a mighty fine centrifuge facility amid multiple sanctions from all over the globe.  And, yet, the people in his country are starving.  Still, the point is, here’s a country with ACTUAL weapons of mass destruction capability and we continue to fight a war in a country where we also, apparently, hand big bags of cash, cartoon-style, to the president. Hmm…I’d say we have our priorities a bit out of whack.  Of course, this is not surprising when we’ve elected congressional leaders who get their energy policy directly from the book of Genesis.  I will say this for what I’m certain will not be the last time…CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL!  And, even if it’s not caused by humans, what is the downside to playing it safe?

See you in the funny papers!

 

Plausibility City

Thank you Intertubes for coming to the rescue of a blogger who has no immediate creativity.  I’ve got at least 3 ideas for blog posts which will take me through the weekend, so hopefully I’ll be able to come up with something on my own by then.

First up though, kylydia asked me to talk about my city.  I live in Louisville, KY and it may be the smallest big city you ever visit.  There’s a code that this city lives by and it’s part of what makes it difficult to fit in.  The first question people ask you is where you went to school.  They mean high school.  And, immediately upon your answer, they’ve made a judgement call…your high school enables them to discern education, socioeconomic status, and to a smaller degree whether they’ll like you or not.  If you didn’t go to high school in Louisville, they have to do a harder job of figuring these things out which may or may not be something they’re interested in.  This may seem sort of snarky, but it happens and people who live in this city know exactly what I’m talking about.

Now then…on to what makes Louisville great.

  • Dining out – we’re home to some of the best local restaurants.  A short list would include Ramsi’s, Hillbilly Tea, August Moon, Bluegrass Brewing Co. (this one’s mostly for the beer!), and Safier’s.  These are some of my favorites.  There is no shortage of restaurants and a fairly exhaustive list can be found at my friend, Robin Garr’s Louisville Hot Bytes.
  • Baseball – specifically bats.  Louisville is home to the Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum which has made bats for Major League Baseball for umpteen decades.  Legend has it that “Bud” Hillerich made the first bat for Pete “The Gladiator” Browning of the Louisville Eclipse back in 1884 and has made over 100 million bats since.  And, if you came for the bats, you might as well see them in use down at the other end of Main Street at Slugger Field, home of the Louisville Bats, Triple-A farm team of the Cincinnati Reds.
  • Arts – there is a plethora of artistic endeavor in this city and where to start is nearly as mind-numbing as the restaurant options.  From the Louisville Ballet to the Louisville Orchestra, from Actor’s Theatre to Kentucky Opera…and that’s just the major players.  On any given weekend (and most weekdays) you can find an arts organization to fit any desire on any stage.  And, while I’m plugging things, I might as well mention my friends with Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble.
  • Horses – no trip to Louisville would be complete without a trip to the jewel of the horse racing industry, Churchill Downs.  To see it in in it’s regal glory, check it out on locals day, the Kentucky Oaks, the First Friday in May.  The Derby is for the celebrity muckity mucks, but the Oaks is all the pageantry that this city can muster for the local citizenry.  But, if you’d rather take the low key approach, taken in a few races on a spring afternoon and just enjoy the scenery.
  • Radio – we have the best public radio stations in the nation.  That’s right, stations, plural.  There are three at Louisville Public Media.  Of particular note is WFPK, 91.9, which is radio at its finest.  WFPL, 89.3, is the best place to get the news, and when you need to zone out to classical, check out WUOL, 90.5.

And, honestly, that’s just the visitor’s bureau overview.  I’m going to think about the nuggets of this city that are only available to people who have spent, say, 35 years year at least.  And, when I come across things that you can’t live without, you’ll see them here.

See you in the funny papers!

NaBloPoMo saves the…blog?!

I’ll admit it, I haven’t been all that interested in blogging lately.  I’ve had other pursuits occupying my mind.  I’ve been reading a lot more, my job has certainly kept me busy, IvyCat is on the brink of walking and talking, and the blog has sort of taken a back seat to all of that.  It’s not that I don’t love you, honestly, it’s not.  It’s just that I needed a break.  Still, I feel guilty because I know you’re there.  I know you’re waiting for me to love you back, to fill you with details and emotions.  Unfortunately, I just don’t really have them at the moment.  So, I’ve turned to professionals for help.  The good people at NaBloPoMo are providing writing prompts to assist those of us who have lost the desire to blog, or maybe just those who’ve run out of good ideas.  I’d like to think of myself as the latter.

Today’s prompt is “What is your favorite poem? (And if you don’t have one, why?)”  I do have a favorite poem, I just didn’t realize it was a favorite poem until my wife read it to me the other day.  It’s called “Babyblues” by Barbara Kingsolver.  You don’t ordinarily Aside: or at least, I don’t think of Kingsolver as a poet.  Novelist; sure, but not really poet.  Maybe I’m missing out.   Anyway, this is the poem…retyped without permission, but I would hope that Ms. Kingsolver would excuse a fellow Kentuckian.  If not, I’ll delete the poem.  However, in the hopes that she’ll be okay with it, buy the book Another America at your favorite local bookstore.

Babyblues
for Lily on the verge

Look at me my
dark scarlet heart disguised in pink
I am Look! At! Me!
Oh I'm the pure blue force of Want
howling through thin walls
like a prairie wind.
I am so large and empty.
Why do the cheerios stick to the backs of my hands?
When I push the bear through the bars,
why is it gone?  I want that bear.
I want
Oh listen, the jingleshudder of ears getting up
the dog!  Oh comecomecomecomecomecomecomecome
gone.
I want that dog.
Oh keep your pastel colors.
Boredom is a purple need.  Hunger is vermilion.
I want my dark blue heaven milk mothermother
but the minute I fall into darkness she puts me down.
They do, they put you down.  The big ones
only want one thing: to leave you alone.
You have to stay awake, see.
The big ones are my shepherd and I shall want
with the pure blue force
of a howling wind I want
the dog the bear the milk I want
every cheerio that fell on the floor I want
the brightest colors
all pressed hard against my gums
I want
the world
and it will not fit
in my mouth. 

In other news, I’m back to running.  Just a mile a day, but it’s a start.  I’ve conquered the allergy/illness with the help of Dr. Compton and a cornucopia of pharmaceuticals and I felt well enough to begin training again.  Training for what?  Nothing at the moment, but you never know what sort of event will entice me.  Also, I learned today that I was accepted into the master’s program for applied geography, provisionally.  Why provisionally?!  Well, because I was a fuckup in undergrad and I didn’t have the grade point average to get in of my own merit.  So, now, I just have to show them how smartass I can be.  Looking forward to starting in the fall.  I believe that’s all the news that’s fit to print.  Don’t look for a new something every day, but I hope June will be a better blog posting month.

See you in the funny papers!

Happy New Year!

Wow…nearly 4 days in and I’m just now posting.  Some habits are hard to break and don’t even get me started on resolutions!  So, since I’m already behind, let me get you caught up.

  1. The holidays were great.  There was very little stress actually, but IvyCat managed to attract some sort of evil virus just before Christmas.  Then our little Typhoid Mary managed to spread it to everyone but me.  So, my two weeks of vacation have been spent sort of managing health care for both C. and IvyCat, which is no mean feat considering the following a) IvyCat is too young to really receive any treatment, not that there was any and b) since C. was still nursing, she wasn’t able to take any real medicine either.  Not to mention, I really despise snot.  So when your wife is running through tissues faster than you can open the box and your 8-month old Aside: Eight MONTHS?  I know, can you believe it?  It’s gone by so fast! has a nose that just drains the mucus like a faucet, well, you can imagine my excitement.  But, back to the holidays…they really were very stress-free and had they also been illness-free, they might have been very, very enjoyable.
  2. The big deal for the holidays is always the intrastate rivalry between the UofL Cardinals and the UK Wildcats.  Those of you who are not from here probably have your own rivalry, and I’m sure it’s intense and all…but here in Kentucky, we know how to do rivalry.  You’ve heard of the Hatfields and McCoys.  Well, there were 6 fouls in the first 45 seconds of this game and no one had even scored a point yet.  There are professional hockey players that would do well to steer clear of this annual event.  Now then, my beloved Cardinals were on the short end of the 71-62 score, but not before making the undefeated Cats look fairly tame in the second half…and surely if they’d shot better than 17 percent in the first half, the score might’ve been a little different.  I will say this though, this UK team, unfortunately, looks like another of Calipari’s Thug Life squads that have sprung up like toadstools after a bad rain in the wake of this particular coaches sweep through the Division I ranks.  There was quite a bit of “goon” action in the early going.  I’m not making excuses for our poor execution, there was certainly an ugliness to our play in the first half, but we failed to resort to violence…at least as far as I could tell.
  3. I’m currently in a training program to complete my very first full marathon.  That’s FULL as in all 26.2 miles.  That’s roughly…4,614.5 trips from my couch to my fridge…or more than 1.6 million quarters laid side by side, which would equal more than $100,000.  There are some who say I’m crazy for attempting such a thing…there are some who say I’m crazy for even dreaming up the attempt, but it’s a new goal to be conquered and I’m well on the way.  I’m going to do my best to keep you apprised of my goal with the following graphic:

    As you can see from the graph, my training is going fairly well and I’m looking forward to competing in the Nashville Country Music Marathon in April.  Oh, and if you should find yourself with an 8-month old who is having trouble sleeping through the night, and you find yourself tagged with a pesky sinus issue that doesn’t want to go away, AND you’re also training for  a marathon through all of this…whatever you do, DO NOT give blood and expect everything to go on smoothly.  You see that gap between 12/29 and 1/2…yeah, there should’ve been another green stripe there…oh, and that green stripe on 1/2, yeah, that should’ve been taller.  Hopefully, this coming week I will have recouped a bit of that pint I gave away and training will go a little bit better.

    Finally, there’s good news in the business and economics portion of my life.  I’ve accepted a new position at the university where I work.  I’ll hopefully be starting there in a couple of weeks, provided all the paperwork goes through.  I’d tell you all about it, but I have a rule about blogging about work which is: Don’t Blog About Work!  Sufficed to say, I’m looking forward to the new position.  It’s similar to my old position, but provides a new working atmosphere and a different program mission.  All in all, a fresh start to the new year!

    See you in the funny papers!

Oh, good, I haven’t missed it.

I have a fairly well documented dislike of the Christmas season.  For me, it has become an overblown collection of infectious songs, energy-sucking light displays, and colossal waste of human resources to ensure the happiness of a very few individuals.  However…and I know that you’ll want to keep reading because it will be beyond belief that I have penned these words…I believe that I may have found myself some of that old Christmas spirit that everyone keeps yammering on about.  For the last decade, and probably even before that, I found Christmas to be a chore, an unnecessary evil that needed to be dealt with simply to maintain social convention.  I participated, but I disliked practically every minute of it. This year will be an exception.

Now many of you will claim that it’s due to the birth of my daughter this year and while I must admit that she’s been the absolute joy of my life these seven months, she is not the reason for my shift in Christmas jollity.  Some will claim that even a blind squirrel finds an acorn on his very best day.  This may be true, but the law of averages demands that I would’ve had Christmas spirit well before now if that were the explanation. No, the truth is, the return of my Christmas spirit was due in no small part to a group of people I’ve never met before and who have very little idea of their impact on me.  Truth be told, many of them may be feeling the exact same way I do.  And, lo and behold, this very saving grace occurred to me during an evening at the theatre with the in-laws.

Last night, we ventured out to Actor’s Theatre of Louisville to see A Christmas Carol.  Truly, it has been many, many years since I’d seen this classic nugget.  I believe, even, the last time I saw it, Mickey Mouse was playing the part of Bob Cratchit.  I had lumped it in with a great many other holiday classics that the mere mention of make my eyes roll and my mouth groan and had avoided it like the plague.  Yes, Virginia, that includes such schmaltzy nuggets as Miracle on 34th Street, It’s A Wonderful Life, and even, A Charlie Brown Christmas.  Yep, I had become the Scrooge of all curmudgeons and was firmly planted in my dislike of Christmas.  But, last night, I became unstuck.  There were several moments during the play where I found myself wiping away a tear and truly enjoying Christmas; remembering why there are reasons to celebrate this season.

I have been blessed in this life with family and friends and I know that this is the true wealth, the true happiness.  And to that end, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas season and a joyful New Year that might bring you the same happiness that I’ve been given.  And, just to show you that I’m not above tacky and overly sappy…God Bless Us, Everyone!

See you in the funny papers!

O Come All Ye Faithful

When I started dating my wife, I acclimated to a tradition of her family by venturing out into the wilds of Indiana and selecting a fresh Christmas tree, cutting it down and dragging it home to decorate.  Previous to this, I had merely pulled out the dusty tree from a box in the closet and placed it in the corner, but now, here was a new exciting part of the holiday that felt exotic and exhilarating.  There is truly something invigorating about wandering in a field in the cold, crisp weather and breathing in that beautiful pine scent; the sharp odor of fresh cut wood.  I really enjoy the moments outdoors selecting our tree.

All of this is to say that yesterday, we went out again into the cold with our daughter and C.’s mom and dad and we chose our tree and it was, yet again, a serene experience to be in the company of family, participating in an old-fashioned tradition, and enjoying the beginnings of our holiday season.  Also, part of this tradition is the listening to Christmas music, particularly John Denver and the Muppets, but several other Christmas CDs as well, which leads me to my minor “conversion” moment this morning on the way to church. Notre Dame Cathedral

Now, one would think if I were already headed to church, I wouldn’t have needed a conversion moment.  And, I don’t want to alienate anyone who thinks I’ve jumped on the “crazy Christian” bandwagon, because that wouldn’t be an accurate account either.  Truth is, I attend church for a lot of reasons…one is that it’s a job, I get paid to sing.  Second, the community that is shared among the group of friends at our church is really second to none.  We, my wife and I, really enjoy the friendships we’ve made at church.  But, the main reason I attend church is that I don’t have all the answers and, honestly, there’s quite a bit of doubt.  I AM the “Thomas the Apostle” for my generation.  Still, there are clear and shining moments wherein the voice of God breaks through the cloud of mystery and doubt and floods my heart and mind.  This morning, I was going to change the cd in the stereo because we’d listened to it at least 3 or 4 times yesterday during various trips across the county, but I left it in because I wanted to hear Earl Scruggs play “Jingle Bells” on the banjo.  Well, a few songs later, Patty Loveless began her version of “O Come All Ye Faithful” and that is the moment that it made sense to me:

O Come, All Ye Faithful

It was an invitation; an invitation to be a part of a season, a tradition.  Sure, it specifies the faithful, but also the joyful and the triumphant.  I would venture to say that it was also an invitation to the doubtful, the disheartened and the downtrodden.  I felt a part of the faithful, not necessarily the believers, but those who have faith, however shaky it might be, that there is good and purpose in the world.  And, we’re invited to share in a community with other faithful.  I’d like to propose that the comma in that opening line is maybe premature.  Maybe, instead, it should read:

O Come All, Ye Faithful

So, during this season of Advent Aside: for those of you who didn’t go to church this morning, Advent is the season of preparation that precedes Christmas.  You won’t find it in the Hallmark card section as it goes largely unnoticed by the general populace. as we prepare for our Christmas traditions with fresh or dusty trees, fresh or dusty faiths, I’d like to believe that we’ve all been invited to attend, to celebrate in the joy of this season.

Finally, in keeping with Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 challenge, today’s “Best of” is workshop or conference.  I don’t attend many workshops or conferences.  My job is not such that it’s necessary, however, this year I did attend a marriage retreat that might fall into this category.  My wife and I, as part of the aforementioned church, journeyed down to the All Saints Conference Center in Leitchfield, KY for a short marriage retreat.  We truly enjoyed the retreat and were able to further solidify our marriage by recognizing that we share many of the same constructs for making our marriage work smoothly and joyfully with a minimum of distraction and discord.  It was a very nice weekend and I feel like it strengthened our marriage.  So, even though it’s the only one, I’d say it was the best one of 2009.

See you in the funny papers!

I don’t even know what to title this post.

I have a number of things to get through, so just sit down, hang on and stay as quiet as possible.  I realized when I was thinking about this post that my mind kept jumping back and forth between topics…plus, I found a story on NPR this morning which demanded my attention, so today you’re getting it all.  Plus, I know I haven’t been around much since Thanksgiving, so you’re probably starved for attention anyway.  So here goes:

Tiger Woods – I know, you’re probably tired of hearing about it, but I only rarely deign to dwell in the celebridiot world, so indulge me just this once.  I can think of only three reasons why you might cheat on your wife.  One is you’re lonely or bored.  This is the believable aspect of this story as it must be difficult to travel around the world, I assume without your family by your side Aside: although, surely they could afford the extra plane fare and so you search for companionship when you’re away from loved ones.  This is not an excuse and should not be tolerated, but it is a plausible explanation.  The second reason is you’re stupid.  This is not as plausible because Tiger has not shown himself to be anything but intelligent and dedicated, at least on the golf course, and his ability to maintain a top ranking worldwide as well as position himself as one of the top earners in endorsements doesn’t lend credence to the idea that he’s an idiot.  So, he’s not stupid, or at least not obviously so.  That leaves us with reason three which is egomania, and this is by far the most logical of the three reasons.  There is reason to believe that Tiger’s ego Aside: which arguably has only been enhanced by his status, his model wife, and his place as golf’s media darling has created a reality for him in which he believed himself to be infallible or incapable of being caught.  This is, at best, misguided and now that his world has been crumbling around him one would hope that his ego has been sufficiently damaged to show him that he’s not “bulletproof.”  If this is truly the case, you feel slightly bad for him, but not enough to make him the victim, or god-forbid, a martyr.  The real victim in this case is, of course, his wife and I can imagine that she’d want to take a golf club Aside: how ironic?! to his vehicle, or even his head.  Some will say, well, how could he cheat on such a hot woman.  That’s immaterial.  Cheating on your wife shouldn’t involve whether or not she’s hot by some bizarre fantasy standard…it should be based on whether or not you love her, and no one who cheats on their wife can say that they are in love with them.  It’s antithetical.  And that, Intertubes, is all I have to say on the Tiger Woods affair.

Cycling and Road Rage – Pursuant to this article on NPR, I thought I’d add my $0.02 that I’m certain I’ve shared before in this very space.  Cyclists are entitled to the rights and privileges afforded to other vehicles in those very same spaces.  As well, they are also bound by the laws and restrictions concerning those spaces.  There are any number of persons, both cyclists and drivers, who, on a regular basis, fail to heed those laws and restrictions and should be penalized as such.  They are dangerous, literally and figuratively, for those of us who are careful to abide by the law regardless of which mode of transportation we choose.  As a regular cyclist, I do worry about being the victim of road rage…and I have been targeted for verbal abuse on several occasions.  I also try to stay out of the way as much as is humanly possible so as not to be a hindrance to drivers because I know I’m not traveling as fast as they are.  As a driver, I try to consider the safety of both drivers and cyclists when I am driving and I also get frustrated at cyclists who flaunt the rules to achieve their own personal happiness.  This is trite and overused, but “Can’t we all just get along?”  For my part, I’ve noticed that there seems to be a small, but growing, acceptance of cyclists in this city.  Unfortunately, there are still many uneducated cyclists and drivers who contribute to the sad state of affairs as related in this story.   Also, shame on NPR for using an image with this article that plainly shows a cyclist riding improperly in traffic which is direct conflict with the number one cycling tip listed in the article.  At least the guy has a helmet on though.

Christmas – Christmas is coming and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.  There will be lights and music and family and traffic and myriad other things that will delight and annoy at alternating intervals.  My goal this season is to attempt a Zen-like approach and allow all of the noise and chaos to simply wash over me and, hopefully, emerge in the New Year without a holiday scratch.  We’ll see if that works.

New Goals – I had made previous mention of new goals and I had hoped to unveil those at the beginning of this month.   What’s that they say about the best laid plans…anyway, I’m now prepared to announce these goals.  The first of these goals is to run in the Country Music Marathon in Nashville in April.  That’s the full marathon folks…all 26.2 miles of it.  I’m not a country music fan, per se, but the marathon is relatively close in proximity to my home and it’s relatively flat which will be a good “first marathon” for me.  The second goal which will include the first one to some degree is that I’m going to attempt a new “virtual run” that will take me around the perimeter of Kentucky.  I’ve decided to dedicate two years to this attempt Aside: not the least of reasons is that my wife scoffed at the idea that I could complete it in one year and she’s usually right about this sort of thing. which will mean 50 miles per month for the next 2 years.  Round trip…1200 miles.  I will, of course, be showing you a map on a semi-regular basis (per my whims, of course) and in return, I’m hoping that you can donate a little money to a cause.  I’m hoping to use this “virtual run” to generate funds for a cause dear to my heart.  I would donate any money raised to either the “Pennies of Promise” campaign or to an activist organization that supports the banning of mountaintop removal, likely KFTC or something similar.  If you’re not moved by those ideas, feel free to suggest another possibility, or choose not to donate.  My theory is that if you pledge, say, a penny per mile, then if I do manage to go the distance, your total outlay would be $12.00 which is not a great deal of money over the course of two years.  I would hope that some of you with deeper pockets Aside: assuming there are those of you WITH deeper pockets who actually read this would be tempted to wager a bit more on my abilities and if I fall short of the goal…well, then you’ve saved a few bucks.  Either way, the goal starts on January 1 and hopefully I can put together a page for donation collection by then to make it easier for you to support me in this endeavor.  And, for those of you who simply can’t afford anything (which I completely understand) I am also accepting generous helpings of moral support and encouragement.

Finally, because if you’ve read this far down, you’ve really stuck with it for the long haul, I’d like to wish my beloved wife a wonderfully happy birthday.  I know that as we get older birthdays become a little less exciting and a little more annoying, but I always want hers to be special and I hope that she has a great day.  I love you C. and I hope your day is magnificent beyond measure.

See you in the funny papers!

NaBloPoMo 2009 – KAN

It is finished.  I completed my goal of running the mileage between Louisville, Kentucky and Pittsburg, Kansas in memory of my dear friend, Melisa Augustson.  If you’d like to read more about Melisa, the article about her death is available online here.  It’s been a long time, a broken ankle, and even a premature finish from last week…but it was definitely worth it.  I have a new goal in mind, but I may wait until December to let you in on it.  Actually, now that I think of it, I have two goals which will coincide with each other.  And, now that I have you salivating at the thought of what they might be…I’ll be leaving you to wonder to what new limits I can push myself.

Below is the final map for this goal.  It’s not really important what it looks like except to show you the distance is no small feat.  I hope you’ve enjoyed following me on this trek and I’m excited to begin anew on another one.

582 Miles - GOAL COMPLETE!

See you in the funny papers!

NaBloPoMo 2009 – SFG

NaBloPoMo2009Last night, I participated in a once in a lifetime event.  It’s not often that these sorts of things come around, I believe that’s why they’re called once in a lifetime.  Anyway, before I tell you what it was, I have to tell you how it came to be.

Every summer, my dad and I make a trip together to a couple of major league ballparks.  You may have read about this before on this blog.  The point of this event is for me to collect a hat from every major league ballpark…the ulterior motive is for my dad and I to spend some quality time together.  Nothing says quality time like a drive through Iowa.  Anyway, for the last few years this has been our tradition and I believe that we have both enjoyed it immensely.  Well, this summer, due to forces beyond our control Aside: Okay, not completely beyond our control.  I mean, I was involved in the baby making, but I’ll spare you the details we were unable to make our usual trip.  Now, my parents are some of the most generous, well-meaning individuals you will ever meet.  Never, and I do mean NEVER, have they let me or my sister down Aside: except that once when I locked myself out of my house and they weren’t home…but I digress and truly we have never wanted for anything in our lives.  That’s not to say we’re spoiled, but we received gifts well beyond their means at times and I hope we never forget that.  All of this brings me to the story of last night.Hank Aaron -- Living Legend

In lieu of a baseball stadium trip this summer, my parents saw fit to purchase for me a genuine Louisville Slugger, autographed by my favorite player of all time, Henry Aaron.  This was no small deal.  This official bat was one of a very small number created by the Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum and had both of his contract signatures on it, Henry Aaron and Hank Aaron, as well as a personal autograph by the man himself.  Well, surely this was more than enough to please me and I was astounded by the gift, not the least of which because I did not expect it.  However, it doesn’t end there.  Last night, my dad and I went down to the Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum and enjoyed a ceremony in which Mr. Aaron was given the “Living Legend” award.  This award was bestowed on him, not only because of his baseball prowess, but for the manner in which he persevered through intense racism in pursuit of one of baseball’s greatest records, and because of his work with the “Chasing the Dream” Foundation.  To stand in the room with the man as he lauded one of the batmakers, Danny, telling that he had done his job well brought tears to my eyes.  I was truly in awe of the man whom I’ve admired for many years.  But I was even more proud to be there with my father who may never have hit a major league home run, but stands tall in my eyes and heart.

I love you Dad.  And thank you very much to both you and mom for such a wonderful gift.  I truly will cherish it forever.

See you in the funny papers!