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.

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
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!

Goals: An end and a beginning

I have never been what you might call a goal setter.  I distinctly remember a conversation with my parents, way back in the day when I was floundering around a collegiate career, wherein my father insisted that I needed to learn to set goals; that I must focus on something and complete it.  I’m not what you might have known as a “finisher.”  I quit playing baseball because I couldn’t hit (more than likely because I needed glasses, which we wouldn’t find out for another couple of years) and I quit taking ballet and tap lessons and I don’t really know the reason behind that particular setback.  I quit being a good student when it became more difficult and I actually had to work at it.  I quit piano lessons in the 10th grade because I felt like I wasn’t being taught what I wanted to learn and I quit taking organ lessons when the church hired a director because it didn’t feel necessary.  I quit college a couple or three times, but did finally manage to make it through.  I’m apparently very good at quitting.

Back at the start of the year, I blogged about a number of things, one of which was my goal to run my first marathon this year.  Then came SNOWMAGEDDON, the return of the SNOWPOCALYPSE.  It seemed as if every day that I was scheduled for a run, there was snow in the forecast, or it had just snowed, or snow was actually falling.  In addition to this climatological deterrence, the treadmill that I counted on for getting me through the cold and snowy days developed a couple of holes, a crease, and a small tear in the belt causing it to slip while I ran.  Having been on the crappy end of a couple of broken ankles, I thought it best to put it out to pasture.  And, as if all that were not enough, I seemed to maintain a constant sinus disturbance from mid-November straight on through ’til about 3 weeks ago.  All of these things led me to the exceedingly frustrating decision not to run on April 24 in the Nashville Country Music Marathon.   And, it hurt.  It really hurt to make that decision because I wanted it to work.  I wanted to cross that finish line and get my medal and say that I put in the time and effort necessary to run a marathon.  I wanted people to see me as someone who could finish; someone who could be counted on.  But, as has been the case many, many times before, I’ve settled for something less than I could accomplish with what seem like flimsy excuses.  It also did not help that the financial burden of attending this marathon was not something I expected either.  It was not a king’s ransom, but I could not have scraped the entry fee and hotel room out of the couch cushions.  Plus, what seems the worst part of this is that after having made the decision, my body just decided that it would take advantage.  I’ve run maybe 2 or 3 times since making the decision.  I eat constantly, and not things that are good for my body.  I had even given up soda during marathon training and now I drink them faster than I ever did before.  It’s as if my body knows I gave up and is determined to take full advantage making it that much harder for me.

Now, with all the free time that I have now that I’m not training for a marathon, I’ve decided to go back to school.  This shocks me just as much as it does you.  With the countless words that I’ve written about how agonizing it was to finish my bachelor’s degree in the first place, the thought of graduate school should make me faint dead away.  However, I find myself craving a new educational opportunity.  Maybe it’s the new job, or maybe it’s just a replacement goal, but I’m at the very least committing myself to finding out more.  Fortunately, with this goal, there is very little downside.  I’m in a position where I’m able to attend school for the price of textbooks.  It’s a master’s degree in a field that I’m very interested and excited about.  So, short of the “entry fee” (the GRE exam cost, which is half the price the marathon event would’ve cost), I can only go up from here.  Maybe, just maybe my father was on to something with this whole goal-setting notion.  We shall see.

See you in the funny papers!

It’s alive…It’s ALIVE!

I’m back bitchezzz!  That’s right…nothing new and improved about me though, still the same ol’…well, actually, that’s not true, but we’ll get to that in a minute.  First, thank you for not giving up on me.  I know that there are some of you who keep checking in just to see if I’ve written anything and I appreciate your patience.  I realize it’s been a while and there have been good reasons and no reasons.  The good news is that I’m back.  Now, on with the updates:

  • New job. Not gonna blog about it, just tellin’ ya.  Truth is though, it’s great.  I love it.  And as I have told many people, it’s exactly where I need to be right now.  It’s not my life’s goal, but it’s a wonderful situation and I’m very excited about it.
  • Illness. I think I’ve finally killed off/narrowed down/successfully hidden from the source of my illness that has plagued me since the dawn of time Aside: Okay, November, but still…damn, that’s a long time. I had awful sinus issues that would not go away.  They were more nuisance than painful, but I think I’ve finally relieved myself of the worst of it.
  • Marathon training. Well, the illness put a damper on training somewhat.  Up until this week, I had really been slacking, but not due to my usual laziness and procrastination.  The weather has certainly lived up to its wintry expectation and that, coupled with my aforementioned sinus problems made for days that were simply not good for training, physically or mentally.  However, I’m back with a vengeance and I’m looking to put up some big numbers in February.  As it was, I only put in 37.2 miles last month, which is not only my lowest monthly total since late summer, it is well off my pace of 50 miles per month to reach my two year goal of 1200 miles.  Still, I hope to recoup some of that this month.
  • Haiti. What a horribly disastrous event that was and though the public outcry seems to be dying down, we should be aware that it’s going to take decades to recover, if ever, from this event.  If there is any thread of your being that values human dignity, please give to your favorite relief organization that is supporting the efforts in Haiti.  I recommend the Red Cross, if for no other reason than I regularly donate blood and I know that it is a worthwhile organization with little or no corruption.  Haiti is one of, if not THE poorest nation on the planet and to have suffered from this devastating earthquake and the resulting catastrophic aftermath must be a national nightmare on a scale that I cannot even begin to imagine.  And, I’m not even going to dignify the outrageous lunacy of Pat Robertson with a diatribe on this one.
  • The Supreme Court. At first glance, I thought, oh great, what a bunch of idiots, they’ve ruined something else.  Then, I began to hear the arguments of free speech and I thought I’d better take a closer look before I casually set my mind against something.  Turns out, I was right to begin with.  This is not free speech.  If anything, it’s speech that is bought and paid for with corporate money and it squeezes out the actual free speech of the citizen.  And, while this is certainly an oversimplification, I’m sure it won’t be long until we see “President So-and-So, brought to you by ExxonMobil Corp.” or possibly Congresspersons with national brands emblazoned on their suits as product placement for viewing on C-SPAN.  I’d say I’m amazed that the court came to this decision, but nothing really amazes me anymore.
  • Healthcare. I’m not surprised it failed.  I’m saddened that it did, if only because this means it will take longer for people who really need health insurance to get it.  I’m not even really sure who to be mad at.  The Republicans, sure, that’s the easy target.  But, the Democrats weren’t making it easy to get behind with their constant alterations to woo votes.  It all seemed like typical politics which only disenfranchises the American voter.  Americans need health insurance, or we need a system where being sick or getting sick does not cause undue hardship.  I’m thankful to have wonderful health insurance and I simply can’t fathom how different my life would be if it were not for decent, affordable medical coverage.
  • Toyota. Have you guys been taking lessons from Ford and GM?  I love my Corolla and I consider Toyota to be one of the most reliable, safest, well-engineered cars on the road today.  Let’s just hope that this issue is a blip on the radar screen.  Still, I’m not saying that I’m blindly loyal to Toyota.  Does your company make a car that gets excellent gas mileage and has safety ratings with more stars than the Milky Way?  Let’s talk.  I need a form of transportation that gets me and my family from here to there safely without unnecessary trips to the pump.
  • Gays in the military. Is the military simply another in a long line of bastions of ignorance when it comes to the life of a homosexual?  It is my understanding that the military trains its personnel to march, shoot, crawl, stand at attention, and obey orders regardless of sex, or skin color, or religious affiliation.  Why shouldn’t they be able to instill that same training in homosexuals?  And why should it matter to anyone else?  This “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is merely a face-saving form of discrimination.  My grandchildren will never understand why we didn’t see this issue for the fallacy that it is.
  • Wrap up. John Edwards, creepy.  iPad, unnecessary.  Tiger Woods, shameful.  Tea Party, loony.  And, finally, am I just missing the boat on Lady Gaga?  I tried to listen to her music, but I don’t see the genius that everyone keeps going on about.  Of course, I never cared for My Morning Jacket either and look how big they became.

That should just about do it.  Got a problem with any of it, question me about it on my formspring page.  I’ll try my best not to make it such a long time in between postings again.  I know you miss me.  By the way, C. and IvyCat are doing great.

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!

Best of 2009 – Shop + much much more

According to Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009, today’s category is shop…online or offline.  Now, I don’t do much shopping, probably not as much as I should if you were to really take a hard look at it.  But it’s just not my thing.  I don’t prefer to shop.  Still, I do the occasional gift buying, particularly for my wife, but sometimes just for me.  To that end, I believe I have a couple of recommendations

  • Schulz’s Florist is the best florist in the city in my opinion.  I mean, it’s the only one I shop at and my wife is tremendously impressed with their arrangements.  Their online presence is currently undergoing renovation, but I’ve found that the best way to buy flowers is always to go pick them out yourself.  The staff is always helpful and friendly and I apparently go there enough that they remember who I am.
  • Swag’s Sport Shoes is where I do all my running shoe shopping.  They’re knowledgeable and friendly.  And, according to their website, I’m not the only one who thinks so…they’re one of the top 4 running stores in the country.  I just completed a purchase there last night Aside: Thank you D. for the gift certificate and pictures are soon to follow of the new adidas Supernovae that will carry me to my marathon goal.

Now then, since I last posted, I entered a new age bracket.  I turned 35 on Wednesday.  There was some fanfare, but as it was an extremely busy day, the excitement was mostly muted.  I did, however, have a very nice birthday.  To help celebrate that fact, I’m posting here a list of things that I had written down on my thirtieth birthday of things that it had taken me that long to learn.  The first 20 are the originals.  I’ve added a few more at the end to cover the last 5 years.For your edification:

20 things it has taken me 30 years to learn

  1. Pre-drill the damn holes.
  2. Don’t lie…ever!
  3. You may not be responsible for the whole earth, but you can be responsible for yourself.
  4. Fractions really are important.
  5. Write it down…twice if necessary.
  6. Your parents can teach you most everything you need to know, but you’re not going to listen anyway.
  7. Take pride in the way you look because many people judge you based on that very look.
  8. Swearing changes nothing…but it does relieve some pressure.
  9. The batting cage and the shower are the two best places to think.
  10. Credit is a vicious thing.
  11. Pick your team and stick with them.
  12. There is a lot of gray area in matters of religion, politics and ethics.
  13. Just because you can lift it by yourself doesn’t mean you should.
  14. Don’t take somebody’s word for it, explore your interests for yourself.
  15. Health and wealth both contribute to happiness, but you can be happy without one of them.
  16. Keep the protractor you buy in grade school.
  17. A good book always beats a good television program.
  18. Keep an umbrella in your car.
  19. Being mean doesn’t help you or the person you’re mean to.
  20. If you don’t want the world to know your secret, don’t tell anyone.
  21. A decent cup of coffee almost always has either chocolate or whipped cream.
  22. Just because you started the movie doesn’t mean you have to finish it, although if you paid for it, you might as well.
  23. There is no better relaxation than a well-timed nap.
  24. You can sleep anywhere with a decent pillow.

So there it is, my collective wisdom over the past 35 years.  I would say, for the most part, it has been a good three and a half decades and I can only hope that the next 35 will be as good.  This is also my last day of work for the year which is very exciting.  I’m looking forward to some time off to be spent with family and friends.  However, I do hope that this is not the last you’ve heard of the Conspiracy for the year.  Surely there will be more in coming days.  Stay tuned!

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 – COL

It’s been a Monday…but a very productive Monday.  I made some very good progress on a project that I hate.  I was able to make a flight change for an individual that gives him more time with family over the holidays and it only cost the change fee, which is really nice.  It’s been relatively quiet around the office today which has been very good.  I’m tired today, but I think it’s because IvyCat the munchkin has a cough which keeps her up at night…consequently keeping me up at night.  I feel bad for her, but I wish she had the wherewithal to just cough and then go back to sleep.  On the other hand, she really has taken to solid foods Aside: well, one solid food, sweet potatoes and, honestly, by the time she gets it, it’s not really all that solid anymore and I’m hoping that bodes well for future nights where she might learn to sleep more than 4 or 5 hours in a row.  Wouldn’t that be awesome?!

Christmas is coming, as is Thanksgiving.  I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving as we’ll be in Knoxville, TN for a couple of days visiting family.  My Christmas list has now been published…so I hope Santa is reading it wherever he might be.  If you’re interested, I can certainly provide you with a copy.  Let me know!

Hopefully there’ll be a running update tomorrow.  I really don’t know if I’ve met the goal yet.  Last week’s running was subpar and I think I need new shoes Aside: ON THE CHRISTMAS LIST! because my knees are not responding well to the beating they’re taking and I don’t think it’s the extra mileage.  That’s it for now.

See you in the funny papers!

NaBloPoMo 2009 – NYM

NaBloPoMo2009Today, I want to share a little duality that occurred to me.  The duality concerns my goal of running from Louisville, KY to Pittsburg, KS and today being the twentieth anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down.

November 9, 1989 as citizens around the world watched, hundreds, if not thousands, of newly unified Germans proceeded to destroy the wall that had kept East Germany behind the Iron Curtain for a quarter of a century.  The wall itself was 87 miles long and the “death strip,” as it came to be known, between the wall and a smaller inner border wall was 110 yards.  110 yards was all that separated East Germans from the freedom of a different world.  How far is that?  Well, Usain Bolt of Jamaica recently covered that rough distance in a world record time of 9.58 seconds.  The average person probably could’ve covered it at a full run in 30 seconds…and still (though the official numbers are debated) nearly 200 people died trying to cross the chasm.

My own goal of running to Pittsburg, KS in memory of my friend Melisa Augustson was a much further distance.  This weekend, I managed to eke out a little over the 570 miles necessary to complete the journey.  However, it turns out that I failed to map that distance before setting out and the actual mileage is closer to 582 miles.  So, while I achieved the “goal,” I haven’t actually achieved the distance.  As you can see from the map, sort of, I’m roughly 10 miles from Pittsburg which I hope to complete this week.

Missed it by THAT much!

A little disappointing, but only because of my mapping/math skills and not for my overall running.  I will achieve this goal and I’m looking forward to getting myself a shirt.  Which reminds me, there’s still time for you to vote on which shirt you like best. There was a grand total of ONE VOTE since I put up this poll.  Now is your chance to decide.  Pick the shirt you like best.

See you in the funny papers!

NaBloPoMo 2009 – DET

NaBloPoMo2009I have a calendar in my office with photographs of Kentucky taken by James Archambeault.  The photos are stunning and this is the third year I’ve gotten his calendar because each new month is a delight to experience.  This month’s photo is of a Revolutionary War period stone house in Scott County and it’s a beauty.  Blue sky, green grass, bare trees but with a hint of sunshine warming the stone walls of this old home.  Right about now, I’d give just about anything to be there, relaxing.

Unfortunately, I’m still at work.  It’s been a long week.  I base that information solely on the number of people today I’ve heard groan “Is it 5:00 yet?”  It’s been a long week and I’m definitely looking forward to the weekend.

In other news, I just compiled the numbers on my running goal.  Turns out I’m a mere three and a quarter miles from finishing up.  This has been a true labor of love and the treadmill has really helped out over the last week.  I don’t know at what point I’ll be finishing the goal this weekend, but it will definitely be this weekend.

See you in the funny papers!

P.S. Kylydia is on the right track with the coded clues in the post titles, but doesn’t have it narrowed down quite yet.  Everyone keep trying.


NaBloPoMo 2009 – TOR

NaBloPoMo2009This morning, I happened to be in a room where the Today Show was on.  Not on purpose mind you because the last thing I need in my morning is talking heads blathering on about nothing.  Anyway, so there I was and Matt Lauer was grilling a couple of lawyers about some lady named Quinn (I think) and her abduction by someone she may or may not have known and blah, blah, blah, yakkety, yakkety.  My first thought was, “Why am I sitting here?” and my second thought was “Is it really necessary, or proper even, to try a case on public television before the courts have even had a chance?”  I suppose that he wasn’t really trying the case, but the questions were along those lines and while the lawyers were doing much more than saying “No comment” it still seemed to be inappropriate, at least as far as this woman was concerned.

What really got me was that this woman’s apparent bipolar disorder was made public knowledge to the entire country…at least to those who were up at that particular hour…and how this definitely seemed to be an intrusion on private life.  Now, I don’t know the woman, don’t even remember her name, but I’m privy to her supposed medical conditions?  Is this news?  Maybe it was just my fault for being in the room with the TV on to begin with.  I really should know better.  That is why I stick to the radio in the morning, music only, no news other than the traffic report.

In other news, I have a running update for you:

Into the Home Stretch

Yes, your eyes do not deceive you.  I am roughly 15.5 miles from my goal.  I believe that I will be finished no later than next week, possibly even this weekend.  The new treadmill is working beautifully.  I put another 3 miles on last night after my little girl went to bed.  I’m looking forward to finishing this goal and moving on to a new goal which will definitely put my body to the test.

See you in the funny papers!