Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Auld Lang Syne

I mumbled the words "auld lang syne" for many celebrations of the New Year before taking time to check exactly what I was saying. Apparently, the phrase is old Scottish that translates to "old long since" or what might be phrased today "days long gone" or "the good old days". Well, something like that. On this, the last day of 2008, I am fond of the phrasing "old long since". It brings to mind a stream of thoughts that have been recurring since last week when Laura, our middle daughter, returned from the bath off the guest room at my mom's house and asked "Dad, how long have you been shaving with that razor?" She was referring to this;

It is a double edge razor that my dad gave me when I was 12 or 13. Yes, I needed to shave at an early age. So the answer to her question was "a little over 40 years." Well, the answer stung me a little and she and the others among the third generation present thought it was funny that someone would have a simple tool so long. As we discussed it a little, I added that I did not know how old it was when I got it, but it certainly was not new. It was a short and fun conversation.

But the conversation continues in my head. There was something deeper that I could not put together on short notice. Gradually, it has occurred to me this week. This little tool represents more than a quaint method to trim whiskers. It represents the different perspective that generations hold about the passing of time, our place in the universe, and other generations. What?!? All of that in a razor? Consider this; most of the readers of this post will be near the age of my children and have never used or thought about such a razor. Not only that, the notion of keeping one half a century seems beyond ridiculous to them. Disposable plastic and electric razors are all they have ever known. I understand how archaic it must seem. Really, I do. To prove that my generation has struggled with the same thought process, check out these pictures;

It is a razor blade sharpener. That's right, not only have razors not always been disposable, the blades were not always either. Guess what? Neither were plates, cups, or diapers. They were all washed and used again and again. And not that long ago none of those things were washed by placing them in a machine and turning a knob. You had to go outside to a pump for water and heat the water on a wood burning stove. You are thinking this went on in the days of George Washington but you would be surprised how recently some areas did not have electricity and indoor plumbing. So pardon me if I chuckle when youngsters who missed the "ice age" talk of 30 years ago and can't imagine the economic depression of 80 years ago, try to educate me on global warming and carbon offsets. I have had a soft life compared to my parents and they had it easy compared to their parents, etc. The current young generation has had it easier than all so far. To most of us that is a good thing. But microwaves and disposable diapers and razors and fast-food containers that make life so easy bring a price.

This little poem did not originate with my parents, but it states what they taught me by example;

Patch it up

Wear it out.

Make it do

Or do without.

It is a change we can believe in.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Signs, Signs, Everywhere....

Here are a few signs from beautiful downtown Wetumpka, Alabama that I thought were funny during this last week of 2008.

Now, what kind of wedding is it?

What? You are offering a REWARD for a bloodhound that can't find her way home? Maybe she ran away because you make her wear that pink harness.

And finally this; Note that spellcheck caught the mistake in spelling "changes" and that was "changed". But Lube and "Oir" change? $22:50 (is that a time or price) seems like a pretty good price for a lube and oil change, but if you can't spell "oil", should I trust you to be sure that little plug is snugly replace on the oil pan?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Photos-2008

Santa gets all the publicity, but in our family Mrs. Claus gives the best gifts and cooks a scrumptious Christmas dinner. The ham and turkey were perfect, as always.

The dressing was even more delicious than beautiful!

After lunch we opened presents and a good time was had by all. Becky was stylin'. Anthony, Helen's boyfriend even remembered the pets!

Sometimes the wrapping is more fun than the gifts. Here Rachel "repackages" Russ.

This photo is not clear, but this is the reaction you hope to see.

After eating and ripping through our gifts, we all took a walk to work off some calories. Note the absence of jackets.

Everybody waits while Roxy explores deer sign in the neighbor's yard!

If blogger was not so slow uploading photos, I would share more. I liked this one of a male cardinal in mom's backyard snacking in the Bradford Pear tree. Note the partially eaten berry over his head and the piece still in his beak. Obviously, there was no white Christmas here in the sunny south but a great time to be with family and enjoy life. All together now "And a Cardinal in a pear treeeee!"

Thank you, Santa!

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. Luke 17:15

This verse is from a short story in the gospel of Luke where Jesus happens upon 10 lepers who cry from a distance for mercy. He sends them to the priest and they are healed as they go. One turned back to say "thank you" and to praise God. Jesus asked "Where are the other nine?" I am afraid that 90% of the time I am in the 90% who forget to say "thank you".

I would like to do better.

So, thank you Santa. If you checked your list twice, I know you must have scratched some things out that I did this year. You must have overlooked LOTS of things I did not get around to doing this year.

Thank you, LaWanna. Your gift indicates that you are listening to my thoughts and dreams and the listening is the best gift you could give.

Thank you, Helen, Laura, Mark, Baron, Lindsay, Tata, Chris, Holly, and Skylar. Your willingness to participate in a new Christmas tradition of giving to others instead of exchanging gifts is encouraging and makes me a proud dad. Our gift will be a token amount compared to the great need of Cystic Fibrosis research, but every bit helps people like David live longer and enjoy Christmas with family.

Thank you, Keith. You are a great brother--in every sense of the word. Who else would drag me out for an early morning 5 mile run to work off the pralines? Thank you, Becky, Russ, and Grace for the great gifts that indicate you have been thinking about our family.

Thank you, Rachael for spending time with our crazy family and for preparing to become one of us THIS WEEK!

Thank you, Anthony for driving to Americus and back to Atlanta on Christmas day and tolerating our silliness in order to spend time with Helen. I hope we can spend some time together in a setting where we can get to know you better.

Thank you, mama! You are amazing! I wish I had inherited/learned more of your planning and list-making abilities. I do notice how efficient it makes you and although I am nearly grown, I still hope to learn to do better. Although you are the matriarch of our clan, you are the driving force of these gatherings. I know it takes lots of energy, money, and determination to prepare your great meals, provide such generous gifts, and cook the best candy in the world. Really, just the pralines are all you need to provide to have done a fair share. You serve as a great role model for me and the rest of the family by serving the way you do at an age where you deserve to sit back and be served. I feel guilty that you do so much, but you are too fast to be outdone. It is like being on a cruise ship--I set a dish down and when I turn back around it has been washed, placed in the dishwasher, and is being washed again.

And, of course, thank you, God. We are all healthy. We traveled safely. We all went back to jobs. We have people to love and who love us. Most of all, we can call you Father because you made it possible for us to have that relationship with you. Sometimes we thank Santa for gifts that come from you. Sometimes we thank each other for gifts that come from you. Much of the time we forget to say "thank you" at all. I am going to try to do better. It is a New Year's resolution. Again.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Put on the New Man

The following lines are quoted from Dr. George Sheehan's book, "Running and Being".

"The people who think they know say that given a second chance a man will make the same mess of his life he did the first time. Playwrights and novelists over the years have never given us hope that reliving our lives would have any different result the second time around. Our scientists and psychologists seem to agree. Even such disparate thinkers as Bucky Fuller and B.F. Skinner are together on this. ""We shouldn't try to change people," wrote Skinner. "We should change the world in which people live." It is a thought Fuller often expressed.

Some, of course, take an opposing view. The people who deal in Faith, Hope, and Charity seem to think that one day is as good as another for changing your personal history. Philosophers since recorded time have recommended it. From Pindar to Emerson they have told us to become the thing we are, to fulfill our design, to choose our own reality, our own way of being a person. What they didn't tell us was how to do it, or how difficult it would be. When Paul said to put on the New Man, he reminded us of the unlimited potential of man, but the lives we lead constantly remind us of the obvious limits to this potential.

Clearly the Good Life is not as accessible as the books say. And yet it is not from want of trying that we have failed. We start our new lives with almost as much frequency as Mark Twain gave up smoking (thousands of times) and with about the same success.

Can tomorrow be the first day of the rest of our life? And can that life be completely different from the mess it is today? The answer, of course, has to be yes, or all those great men wouldn't have said so. But how do you go about it?

The first thing to do, it seems to me, is to retrace your steps. To go back to that period of your life when you were operating as a successful human being (although you most likely weren't aware of it). To go back to those times when your soul, your self, was not what you possessed or your social standing or other people's opinion but a totality of body, mind, and spirit. And that totality interacted freely with your total environment.

Somewhere past childhood that integration of self and that response to the universe began to dissolve. We came more and more to associate who we were with what we owned, to judge ourselves by other people's opinions, to make our decisions by other people's rules, to live by other people's values. Coincidentally, or maybe not so coincidentally, our physical condition began to decline. We had reached the fork in the road. We took the well-traveled path.

One who took the path overgrown with weeds and rarely used was Henry David Thoreau. The world knows Thoreau as a man of intellect, a shrewd observer, a rebel against conventional values. What has not been emphasized was that he was an athlete, and a fine one. He was, of course, a great walker. This kept him in prime physical condition. "I inhabit my body, " he wrote, "with inexpressible satisfaction: both its weariness and its refreshments." It would not be too much to say that Thoreau's other activities derived their vitality from the vitality of his body. That the self that was Thoreau depended on being as physical as he could be. And that no life can be completely lived without being lived completely on a physical level.

If Thoreau was right, the way to find who we are is through our bodies. The way to relive our life is to go back to the physical self we were before we lost our way. That tuned-in self that could listen with the third ear, was aware of the fourth dimension, and had a sixth sense about the forces around it. That tuned-in self that was sensitive and intuitive, and perceived what is no longer evident to our degenerating bodies.

This may come as a surprise even to physical fitness leaders. Physical fitness programs have long been based on the desire to lead a long life, to forestall heart attacks, to feel better generally or to improve your figure. No one ever told us that the body determined our mental and spiritual energies. That with the new body we can put on the new person and build a new life, the life we were always designed to lead but lost with the body we enjoyed in our youth.

Now, common sense will tell you that you'll never see twenty-eight again, but the facts on fitness show that almost anyone can reach levels of vigor and strength and endurance equal to most of the twenty-eight-year-olds in this country. Given the good fortune to find an athletic activity that fits him, a man can recapture his youth and a second chance to listen to what his total self held important at that time.

If you think that life has passed you by, or even worse, that you are living someone else's life, you still can prove the expert's wrong. Tomorrow can be the first day of the rest of your life. All you have to do is to follow Thoreau. Inhabit your body with delight, with inexpressible satisfaction; both its weariness and its refreshments.

And you can do it if you'll just go back to that fork in the road."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dear Santa;

First, thank you for the piece of coal last year. It was not exactly what I was expecting, but really I should not have been surprised. My friends have explained that diamonds come from coal under pressure so I put mine under the mattress. After the first time LaWanna turned the mattress, I put it in a sandwich bag.

I just wanted to touch base with you before this Christmas. I have been pretty good this year. I was voted "Disgruntled Postal Employee of the Month" in March. I have responded cheerfully and in good taste to all the "Hot enough fer you?" and "Cold enough fer you?" "Kinda wet today, ain't it?". In my counseling work at Pre-Trial Diversion, I have kept a straight face while discussing the convicted felon's firmly held views on "justice". Those jobs helped me prepare for my first feeble efforts to serve as an elder of our congregation. During each passionate conversation about important issues like "If men didn't wear suits, it wouldn't be so cold in here" and "I don't like it when we sing during communion" I was able to refrain from shifting the conversation to trivial matters like the expanding acceptance in churches of homosexuality, divorce, and not paying your bills.

Also, I have tried to do better about my physical condition. I know I haven't really lost much weight since last year, but isn't losing a few pounds a lot better than I was doing when I was gaining some every year? Yes, I am behind on the brazen goal I set to loose 37 pounds by March 8, but I am trying. I have run in some bad weather and after dark. Of course, I still have a really hard time passing by cake and candy. Do I get extra credit for dragging lots of pounds through a triathlon, a mountain bike race, and an adventure race? Santa, you know better than most, those things are not easy for big boys. And I have noticed you don't usually miss the plate of cookies on Christmas eve.

I left this to last because I am afraid it is what will keep me from getting the toy I really want. About the way I have treated are going to have to give me partial credit for trying. That sweeping and doing chores around the house is just so......boring. I know I need to do more. Lot's more. But really, she almost never says anything about it. Doesn't that mean she is o.k. with it? Do you think my efforts to buy her off with dates and eating out is working? She seems to really like going to the movies and eating the 50-gallon size popcorn with the 3 liter Diet Coke. I am not hoping for an "A" or "B" here--just a passing grade. Next year will be better. I really mean it this time.

Anyway, if I don't get any toys it will not be too bad. All three of our children and spouses still spend time with us and don't even seem embarrassed for us to be around their friends. That is more than enough. And my mother-in-law seems to really like me. Maybe more than LaWanna does. And with all the economic slow-down, LaWanna and I still have great jobs. Next year I only have to work three months before retiring and having a guaranteed income for life. It will not be enough to live on, but a defined annuity is a great blessing and maybe worth the 37 years I traded for it.

Now that I think about, just forget the toys. You can bring me some more coal and I will have the family over for some burgers (after I repair the patio cover) and we will tell stories and laugh. Yep, that is what I want for Christmas....simple food, time with family, and laughs. Lots of laughs.



Saturday, December 06, 2008


....and I don't care.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fleeting Moment

I never really understood. I couldn't completely understand what Jesus meant when he said "they have eyes but can't see, ears but can't hear." Gradually, I have come to understand that it is me. There is so much that is beautiful and amazing that I fail to see every day. People are sending messages all the time that zoom past me. Slowly....ever so slowly....I am beginning to see and hear. As I cross the bridge over the Tallapoosa River each morning on my drive to work, I am amazed at the different views offered by the changing seasons, the time change, the weather changes and other influences. Some mornings I pass just as the Sun has risen enough to shine through the opening in the bend of the river and I think "I should stop and take a few pictures." But it is on a bridge. Traffic is dangerous. I need to get to work on time. Tuesday I pulled my camera out and took it from its case just before driving onto the bridge. It was a clear, cold day after a day of light rain. I expected there to be some fog rising from the river with sunshine filtering through. As I approached the bridge, I moved to the right lane and signaled a right turn. This probably concerned the truck behind me that I was going to turn off the bridge. There is just enough room to park right of the lane and about half way across, I turned on the flashers and stopped. After walking around to the front of the truck I took a few pictures of the river with fog rising just as the Sun rose over the trees. Total time=3 minutes. Late to work=1minute. Clarity and photo quality=mediocre. Value of the image captured to me=priceless.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hypocrites Annonymous

My name is Roxy Wishum and I am a hypocrite. I never meant to become a hypocrite, it just happened. It hurts to admit it, even now. You see, I like to portray myself as a sort of athlete. I even believed it myself for years. I want to believe it now. At times, I can look in the mirror and see a lean, athletic man full of energy and looking for the next adventure. The truth is I am fat. Sure, the rest of you already knew it. But I have denied it for years. Oh, I might give in to terms like "a little overweight" but "fat" seems such an ugly word. A fighting word--like short. Great day! It just hit me, I am short AND fat!

That is why I am here at Hypocrites Anonymous (HA). I don't want to be a hypocrite anymore. I don't want to be fat. I am tired of the "rollover" and the big shirts. I hope HA can help me become the athlete I was meant to be.

So, this is the first check-in of HA and there will be one each month until the goal is attained. That will probably be boring reading, but it is necessary for me to make myself accountable. At times I will post details of the HA regimen but for now here is the goal; 175 by March 8! That is my birthday and is about 4 months away meaning 32 pounds in 4 months or and average of 8 per month. Yes, it is a tough challenge and may be too much. But the toying with it and yo-yo loss and gain process has gone on too long. Check back on or around December 8 to see if I survived Thanksgiving and got on track. If I don't meet the goal the first month, the rest of them will REALLY be uphill.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What if?

It has been one week since we elected Barack Obama to be the next president of the United States of America. I highlighted "united" because I believe it stands for more than just the proper name for our country. We all know that we have not always been united as states. In some ways we are not now. However, since the election it has been refreshing to see the response from the loosing side. McCain came out Tuesday evening and gave a gracious speech conceding the election. I have not seen any racist groups making fools of themselves about the election of an African-American as president. I personally voted for the losing team because I thought they would do less damage to the economy and judicial system. But I have not protested the outcome. The majority chose Obama and Obama it shall be. I will support him as president, pray for him, and attempt to avoid saying harsh, negative things about him. I do not promise to agree with every decision and probably will not. I hope, however, that I will not talk about him in the hateful way so many now talk about President Bush. Mr. Obama has begun receiving briefings and probably has become aware of much information since being elected. The weight begins to build. Can you imagine how much the president knows that we do not? Can you imagine how difficult it must be to refrain from using that information to defend your actions when you are vilified in the media? President Bush has taken a lot.

Here is the "what if"? What if everybody who voted for McCain (pretty close to half the voters in the country) chose to act like the actors and homosexuals in California have since not getting their way? What if we blocked traffic in all the cities? What if we declared, as Melissa Ethridge has done, that we will not pay our taxes? If we can just declare ourselves tax-free, why not make ourselves exempt from all laws?

Barack Obama received nearly 100% of the black vote in the recent election. That, however, is less than 20% of the total population. Obama was not and could not be elected by black citizens. While he received less than half the white vote, it was close enough to half to ensure his victory. That means that many, many folks are able to see a perspective other than their own and vote for someone who is different from themselves. That quality exists in California as was proved by the presidential vote there. But the majority of the citizens, thankfully, still recognize that homosexuality is wrong behavior and not just a difference that one is born with.

So our message to the millionaire, homosexual, spoiled actors and musicians is this; SHUT-UP! GROW UP! And find something productive to do with your time and energy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Be Happy!

Do you agree or disagree with this thought? Does it seem too simple?

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who sought and found out how to serve."

-- Albert Schweitzer, Humanitarian

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wordless Wednesday--Still Waters

People I want to meet

The world is full of interesting people. I wish there was time for me to have a chat with each of them. I would particularly love to talk for a couple of hours with the lady in the following AP story;

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities in Arizona say a jogger attacked by a rabid fox ran a mile with the animal's jaws clamped on her arm and then drove herself to a hospital. The Yavapai County sheriff's office said the woman told deputies she was on a trail near Prescott on Monday when the fox attacked and bit her foot.
She said she grabbed the fox by the neck when it went for her leg but it bit her arm.
The woman wanted the animal tested for rabies so she ran a mile to her car with the fox still biting her arm, then pried it off and tossed it in her trunk and drove to the Prescott hospital.
The sheriff's office says the fox later bit an animal control officer. He and the woman are both receiving rabies vaccinations.

Now, there are many facts left out of this story that, in my humble opinion, MUST be reported; How far had the woman run BEFORE being attacked by a fox?
How old is this person?
How many times did the fox bite her while she RAN A MILE AND THEN OPENED HER TRUNK TO TOSS IT IN?
Who took the fox out of the trunk? (actually, I can probably guess that is the animal control officer that was bitten)
What is this woman's life story?
You know this is not the first difficult situation this lady has encountered. I mean, you have to possess some kind of determination to hang on to a rabid fox that has already bitten you leg and is latched onto your arm while you run a mile back to your car. I'll bet she has had some adventure before this day.
Bravo, brave runner, bravo!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It is about ideals!

Carry this image with you into the booth today. It is not about skin color. Let the issues be the issue.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I have a NEED, a need for SPEED!

Do you have a "bucket list"? You know, a list of things you hope to do before you kick the bucket. There are many things I hope to, and intend to, experience if God leaves me on Earth long enough. Gradually, I am checking them off. This weekend another major item was checked off the list. I drove a NASCAR race car 7 laps around the Talladega Superspeedway and reached speeds just over 170 mph. Thanks to the Dale Jarrett racing adventure organization and their excellent staff I was able to live out a long-time dream. I should also thank my good friend Joel who generously gave me a "ride along" adventure that allows you to ride 3 laps with a professional driver. I was able to pay a little more to convert that to a "driving experience" that offered 6 laps of driving an actual race car that had been used at the highest levels of stock car racing. Being friendly and displaying enthusiam netted me an additional free lap. Thanks, also, to my sweet wife, LaWanna who made the trip with a bad back to cheer me on and take some great pictures. She has been very understanding and supportive and I am lucky to be married to her. Here are a few pictures;

The above picture was taken just before the shoehorn and grease was brought out to force me into the car. The space allowed is TIGHT. The seat wraps around your rib cage and is very snug on a thick guy. The hans device was developed after Dale Earnhardt died in a crash that did not look that bad. This device fits around your neck and fastens to the helmet so that you can not move your head but an inch or so either direction. These devices prevent a broken neck in a violent crash. But all those other times when you are still driving, they are very confining. Then, of course, there is the five-point harness that is like a seatbelt on steroids. If you ever watch a NASCAR race, the prerace activites include a team member leaning way into the car helping fasten the driver in and check all the connections. Let me tell you, by the time they tighten the straps on this harness you feel VERY, VERY confined and restricted. How am I supposed to drive? Why didn't you just take a nail gun and nail me to the seat? I made them loosen mine a little--or at least they pretended to.

This picture was taken after I am nailed in and before the net is affixed over the window opening. Please note that my visor is up on the helmet. That little detail became important in a couple of laps when I was straining my short legs to keep the accelerator on the floor and climbing from 160 mph toward 170 mph as the g-forces caused the visor to begin to slowly slide down. Across my line of sight. And I felt like I really had my hands full keeping that track-eating monster off the wall. May I also mention that the skid marks going up the track to the wall do not instill much confidence. I pushed the visor up and the next time is slipped down, I pulled it all the way down. That is easy to resist because it is soooo hot in the car with a fire-proof suit on and with the heat coming from the engine. And this was a relatively cool day. It is amazing that professional drivers do this door-to-door and bumper-to-bumper for four or more hours.

This final picture is when I am coming out of the tri-oval and in front of the grandstands. The stands at Talladega will seat 143,000 fans and thousands more roam more than 200 acres of infield. The superspeedway is 2.66 miles around and the turns are banked 33 degrees. If you did not take any more math than I did, then those number probably do not impress you much. Let me assure you that you could not walk up the banking in the turns without putting your hands on the pavement and bear crawling. They stand 4 stories tall and running toward the turn at 165-170 mph is a thrill ride unlike anything at any theme park.

Here are some observations I will be thinking about the next few days;

1) Men and women are different. Yes, I know that is profound and you probably never thought of it before. Here is how that played out at Talladega; there were 7 or 8 women driving out of about 80 drivers. I talked to one after we both had driven. By the way, she was driving because she had bought two driving packages for her husband and son, then her son was deployed to Iraq so she was driving and was more excited about it than her husband. I mentioned the extremely restrictive nature and was about to describe how uncomfortable that made me when she said "Yes, I really liked that. It made me feel much safer." She described the closing in process as being like having someone's arms around her and helped her relax. To me is was intrusive and seemed to take away much of my control. We agreed that the control issues were male and female perspectives.

2) Instincts can be helpful or harmful. If your instincts are based on incomplete information or faulty reasoning, they can do you harm. As a kid, my dad taught me to drive. Part of that education was about cornering and dad taught me to let off the gas when approaching a curve and gradually increase speed on exit from the curve. The driving instructors told us to keep the accelerator on the floor going into the turns and maintain the high line. I have thought about it about 24 hours now and I can not think of any time in my life that I had to fight any harder to overcome what seemed natural to me than when I approached the turns in this race car. Until you experience it yourself, I can not find the words to fully describe the natural urge to let off the gas when roaring into a turn at 170 mph in a car that you are unfamiliar with while driving in a straight-jacket. I continued to strain to push the accelerator to the floor with my toes, but it took a tremendous force of will to overcome what seemed to be the logical, safe thing to do. That is why I reached 170 mph and some only got up to 150 mph.

3) Most people do not do what they want to do. Did you know that? Sure, some people will say "I would love to do that" just to make you feel good about your adventure. But many really, really want to experience driving a race car. Yet they don't. Ever. For decades. And it is not just driving a race car. Lots of other dreams die on the vine because people are afraid or unwilling to do what needs to be done to accomplish them.

This experience is not for everybody. I don't want to talk anybody into it. But there is an experience that you dream about. What stands in your way? I am very, very glad that I got to enjoy driving a race car really fast before I got too old to enjoy it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wisdom vs. Kindness

I ran across this quote in some reading early this morning and thought it was worth sharing. What do you think?

'Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.'

Theodore Isaac Rubin

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I got an e-mail from Plato today. Okay, okay it wasn't an e-mail. I was reading some of his quotes and thought this one was particularly appropriate to share one week and two days before the end (hopefully) of the most interesting presidential election of my life. Here is what Plato had to say a few years ago;

"Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber."

Yes, I know you have heard it before. I may post it again next Monday.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Robin Hood for President?

I know.

You are tired.

Tired of the endless commercials, the stream of goofy letters, postcards and door hangers.

Tired of pundits, politicos, and experts pleading, predicting, and promising.

I know. I have no credentials. I claim none. Well, actually I claim one. One thing my parents taught me and the circumstances of my life have reinforced. That one credential is that I have learned to think for myself. In fact, those who attempt to tell me what to think are soon as frustrated with me as I am with them. I resent the presentation of "conclusions" without the supporting facts. I resent the endless polls in the various media that offer no information about how the sampling was accomplished, how questions were formulated (or even what the questions are), and no discussion of the limiting factors present. One recent "national poll" was conducted by calling "randomly selected cell phone numbers" of 1000 people. This poll received national prominence even though no information was given about how the numbers were selected, where the numbers originated, how questions were worded, or many factors such as when the calls were placed. Sadly, there seemed to be few who bothered to even wonder about these factors. is what is bothering me at this point in this most unusual presidential election. It is the Robin Hood factor. You know what I mean. Often it is labeled as such. Sometimes it is described with many words. Other times phrases like "spreading the wealth" are used. Now, I am less an expert on Robin Hood than I am on politics. But I know that, like politics, different folks have WIDELY varying views of Robin Hood. The stories and ballads have been around at least 500 years and some say several hundred more than that. Some say he was a real person. Others say Robin was based somewhat on a real person. And some say it is purely myth. Likewise, what he did, what he stood for, and whether he was a commoner or of noble blood can be debated. Really, all this makes Robin Hood a sort of Rorschach ink blot test where we each see in him what we actually project ourselves.

That being said, what is your view of Robin Hood? A common thief? A defender of the true heir of the crown? A social reformer taking from overbearing royalty and giving back to the over-taxed?

The present danger, in my mind, is that many see in Barack Obama and a democratically controlled executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government the rising of Robin Hood to take from the evil corporate giants (especially the evil oil companies) and give to the poor. Some have argued to my face that since the church is not caring for the poor as we ought, it is our responsibility to support a government that does it in the place of the church. To these individuals the obvious party to accomplish this is the very one that most preaches separation of church and state. The irony is that most of the champions of this type of government intervention rarely show a tendency of personal financial sacrifice on behalf of the poor. Where the fairy tale begins to break down is the point at which the evil, rich entity that must ante up is me. How does this happen? Partly through direct taxation. Partly through punishing companies whose stock make up our 401k investments that we hoped would help us care for ourselves in old age. Partly through raiding Social Security funds to pay for other projects.
In my understanding, an ever-expanding, oppressively taxing government does not represent Robin Hood but rather is the Sheriff of Nottingham. The companies that provide goods, services, and jobs are not the oppressive regime, in my opinion, but rather the Robin Hood that properly distribute wealth to those who work for and rightly deserve it.

Don't misunderstand me, I think there is much greed and dishonesty in large corporations just as there is in one-man operations. I also quickly concede that both parties are disgusting in the way they protect incumbents and seek power for their own. I approve President Bush more than "national polls" reflect, but deeply regret the many times he has quickly thrown money at problems in quantities that are difficult for me to even visualize. Individuals, cities, states, and the federal government are going broke because of a false belief that an ever-shrinking middle class will always be there to finance any and every program that seems to promise some social benefit.

The address below will take you to a video by Fred Thompson that is a no-nonsense commentary on the difference in perspectives of the two parties represented by Obama and McCain. It is sobering, intelligent, and void of any sensational claims about either candidate. The video takes several minutes and should be watched when you can devote your attention to follow what is being said. It is a little deeper than the 60 second sound bites we have become accustomed to on the "evening news".

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

October Surprise!

There's something strange, in the neighborhood...

You can believe whatever you like about UFO's, but I have pictures!

The other side of this flying saucer has an Obama/Biden bumper sticker. Really. I wouldn't make something like that up. This election is bigger than we thought.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Short Hike

A weekend hike. That is what Derek planned. Oh, it was a tough hike; climbing to the peak of Mount Adams. Mount Adams, at 12,227 feet, is the second tallest peak in the state of Washington. Climbing to the peak and back requires fitness, stamina, and experience. Derek Mamoyac had all three. He carried little gear since he planned to be out of the wilderness before the weekend was over. When he failed to turn up for work on Monday, authorities were notified and soon a search began. As the week wore on and the weather truned worse with temps in the 20's and snow falling, the prospects of finding Derek alive dimmed with each passing day.

If you were a volunteer search and rescue worker, how many days would you take off work and continue to look for a man who left no itinerary? If you were in Derek's place, how long would you expect people to look for you? If you were in Derek's place, what would you be willing to do to stay alive?

You see, Derek had broken his ankle in a fall. He spent days crawling until his knees were too sore. Then he used a modified "sit and scoot" method to move up and down the mountain. Up the mountain? At one time he thought he saw tents higher up and made his way to the spot seeking help. When he arrived there, no tents-or help--were to be found. Before making that climb he ate the last of his granola bars. It was the wrapper from a granola bar that the tracking found and used to find Derek.

So what was Derek doing while folks were looking for him? Just sitting somewhere nursing his injured foot? Nope. To survive, he ate berries, mushrooms, centipedes, spiders and ants and drank creek water. On the last day, he resorted to drinking his own urine. How much longer would he have lasted? Nobody knows. But he survived 6 days in harsh weather and is in pretty good shape this weekend.

What do you think about Derek? Idiot? Superman? Here are the things I admire about Derek; 1) He is strong and fit
2) He is tough-minded and determined
3) He takes action even when it is very difficult
4) He remains calm in threatening circumstances
And some mistakes Derek made (in my opinion);
1) Tell someone your plans--in detail
2) Don't be so independent and self-assured that you don't discuss worst case scenarios
with family and friends
3) When exposure to elements can be fatal, carry what you need AND some "just in case" items

How does Derek feel about all this now? He says a career in search and rescue seems appropriate for him now. I would say he is probably right. Welcome home, Derek.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Shocking Turn of Events

This story is being reported on Associated Press today;

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii is dropping the only state universal child health care program in the country just seven months after it launched.
Gov. Linda Lingle's administration cited budget shortfalls and other available health care options for eliminating funding for the program. A state official said families were dropping private coverage so their children would be eligible for the subsidized plan.

What? State officials are surprised that people dropped private coverage that they paid for to enroll in public coverage they also paid for through taxes? So now, seven months into the program folks have NO health coverage? I wonder what would happen if you tried it on a national scale?

Fun with Politics

There are several post rumbling around in my mind about the current political races and some represent opinions I feel strongly about. However, I also realize that nobody really cares what I think about it--or at least do not care enough to add a coment. Sooo, I will revert to my natural self and enjoy making fun of those who take themselves so seriously

In case you have not seen the previews for next season's Dancing with the Stars, here is a picture of one expected team that may surprise you;

That's funny--I don't care what color state you are from!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Presidential Election 2008

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. " Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

Who should I vote for in November?

Does my vote really make a difference?

Which candidate/party is more Christian?

These are tough questions. Many think the answers are obvious. About 52% of those who think the answer is obvious believe it is the opposite of 48% who think the answer is obvious. This post is not intended to attack McCain or Obama--nor their running mates. It is also not intended to attack either party, although I think both parties and both presidential candidates have things they should be ashamed of. Actually, I guess if anyone is to have hurt feelings as a result of this post it will be the reader. Every reader and the writer. Because I believe we are the problem. Many of the arguments for or against each candidate are about issues the executive branch has little control over. There is a clear and ongoing shift of power to the legislative and judicial branches of government and the legislative branch holds increasing sway over who is added to the judicial branch. Is that a bad thing? The answer largely lies in the reasoning behind how we choose our representatives. Each district has an obvious incentive to choose the representative that will garner the most money for that district from the federal budget. There is not enough room here to address earmarking and other schemes to grab money for back home. Who is best at this game? Without naming names, those individuals who can stay in office longest and gain influence within a party are rewarded with appointments to committees that give them direct access to budgets or leverage to have others help them receive money for their districts. Meanwhile, the folks at home overlook ongoing deficits, scandals, and assorted goofiness as long as there is money for roads, bridges, museums, and jobs. It is a very selfish system and the most unwise selfishness is not portrayed by the politicians but rather by the voters.

So how do I answer the above questions?
First, let me say that I believe it DOES make a difference. Oh, my actual vote will probably not effect the outcome of the election. It is highly unlikely it would determine the winner even in Montgomery and that will almost certainly not have much effect on the national winner. But it matters because IF I vote, I have to think about (and hopefully have meaningful dialogue about) the candidates, the issues, the past, and the future. In my opinion, those discussions and that serious thought matter most of all. I am firmly convinced that is why we are even able to be in the position that a black (actually mixed race) man even has a chance to be elected by popular vote to be the president of the United States.

I think I will skip the discussion of the parties for now except to say that for nearly two decades the Republican party has SEEMED TO ME to be more aligned to my beliefs and ideologies than the Democratic party. There are lots of exceptions and some will probably feel the need to list them in comments. That is fine, I probably will agree. I am often disappointed by individuals in both parties.

So which guy?
If I were choosing a man to invite over for a cookout or to watch the game, it would be easy. Barack is charismatic. He is charming. He knows how to quickly determine the interests of others and is willing to talk about what is important to you. He would be lots of fun. I would be tired of the effort of talking to John in about 10 minutes. John McCain is far, far from the ideal I would like to vote for as president. But here is the thing; Barack Obama is intelligent, he is charismatic, his verbal skills make me more than a little jealous BUT even with all his ability and likability, he is still just wrong about many ideals and principles that are very, very important. He hasn't accomplished any of the things he is promising anywhere he has already been. The republicans are doing far, far too much taking from the producers and giving to the takers. And Barack Obama is going to grow that exponentially. Just today he so smoothly described taking up to $10,000 from your 401-k to cover current personal expenses. As he said it, it sounds so easy--so right--so inviting. Yet the principle behind that is the same as behind the bailouts and the "economic stimulus" ideas. That principle is "have what you want today and worry about paying for it....sometime later". Folks we are buying that idea and it is devastating to the economy and to our character. Where is the candidate that is saying "Let's do without some things today so we can be a little better off later--and our children will have a chance?"

Do you think this doesn't have real life meaning today? Check on conditions in Chicago and see what positive effects Obama is having where he has worked and represented. The problems are many, the corruption is rampant, but the most telling detail that fits this discussion is that the sales tax rate in Chicago is 10.25%. For local readers, our mayor is being attacked in TV ads as he runs for congress because we have the second highest tax rate in the country at 10%. Well, now you know where it is higher. Why is this a problem? Because for all the rhetoric about playing Robin Hood and taking from the rich and giving to the poor, the sales tax is the most regressive and most challenging for the poor. I say to Obama what I plan to say to Mayor Bright, if you can't fix it on a small scale at home don't ask me to send you to Washington to represent my interests.

Economics, social issues, Supreme court nominations, wars and negotiations--these are complex issues and I am a simple man. However, I am convinced that my battle is not against Obama nor McCain. It is against ideas and ideals that are presented and promoted by individuals but originated in an unseen world. Ideas and ideals that divide us. Ideals that lead us to think that the government should care for the hungry and homeless at the expense of my neighbor rather than each of us taking individual responsibility. Ideals that convince us to work less because moving to a higher tax bracket will cause us to net even less.

I can't imagine that after this life, the Creator of the universe will say to you or me "Well done, faithful servant, you did not visit me in jail or feed me when I was hungry or clothe me, but you voted for someone who forcibly took money from others to create an agency where I could be cared for."

So what do I expect? Barring any surprise developments in the next three weeks (and there will probably be some) the popular vote will likely be closer than the polls show. Still Obama will probably win the electoral vote by a comfortable margin. I am glad we are not in one of the swing states that will be watching THIRTY MINUTE campaign ads until the election. What will happen after the election? Of course, only God knows. But mostly for the average person. little will change for a while other that the conversations at the "water cooler". Again, in my opinion, those conversations are probably more important than which man is in the White House.

If you read this far, thanks. I will get back to silly posts soon.

Change is in the Air

When the winds of change blow hard enough, ANYTHING can become a deadly projectile.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Coosa River Challenge Pictures

The last challenge of our race last weekend was to swim to this lock, climb the steps, and jump into the river, then swim with the paddle back to the kayak. Above, I held my nose. Below, Matt held his life jacket. Hint--don't extend your arm.

This was at the beginning of the mountain bike section. I am still smiling at this point.

I don't know these ladies. Their picture and the guys below are here just to show that we were not the only ones swimming when we were supposed to be paddling. Yes, there are two people in each boat.

1. The approach looks good

2. Uh-oh, a little sideways. Don't put on the brakes!

3. I think we can still save it! Paddle hard, Matt, I've got the boat!

I will try to not post any more pictures of the adventure race, but these were all purchased from the professional photographers and I need to get my money's worth. You can help me get my money's worth if you click on the pictures to enlarge them. It really adds to the reality.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

No Country for Old Men

Allow me to share a few photos from Roxy's Big Adventure. On Saturday, October 4, my partner Matt Dickson and I set out for Wetumpka to compete in the Coosa River Challenge VI. There are actually a few crazy people who have done this SIX times. It was a first for Matt and me. We took it seriously by training for about 3 weeks. Three years would have been about right. I will not take time to list all the challenges but the main ones were a 4 mile trail run on a hilly, rocky woods trail followed by an 8 mile mountain bike ride over similar trails. Don't read quickly over the word "hilly". It makes a difference. Then we ran a little over a mile where we traversed a "boulder" field course. After that we drew a chip to determine which team member would rappel (Matt) and which would swim back upriver to where the boats were stored (Roxy). We both would have preferred switching roles but were not given an option. Then we paddled a two person sit-on-top kayak 7 miles to Wetumpka. Along the way we had challenges-I mean besides turning over at every set of rapids and bouncing off rocks like a pinball. FYI, rocks under water are not any softer than rocks out of water. You can get hurt doing this.

One challenge was to find "Dead Beaver Island" and beach the boat at the right spot. We climbed an embankment using a rope while carrying our paddles. The paddles went everywhere we went. We ran down a trail that led to the "mud pit" . This was a pit about 12 feet long with two 50 gallon plastic barrels side by side and about 4 feet down were two more. They were submerged except for about two inches in chocolate, muddy water. We had to swim through these barrels and exit the other side. Then we followed a trail that led down an embankment to a stream. It took a while to figure out where to go from here. We had to walk down the stream to where some markers indicated a trail going back over the island to our boats. More paddling, more spills, more rocks.
On river left is Corn Creek Park where the next challenge is. Look, there is LaWanna waving. Hey, LaWanna! Shoot, we turned over again. Now we are being carried by the current past where we are supposed to go. After righting the boat, climbing on and gathering paddles we had to circle a grassy island and paddle upstream to the landing. More rope climbing with a paddle in one hand. More running (really mostly walking now). This is called "Back to school island" by the wicked, wicked race director. As we ran around a winding woods trail we came to tables where we had to solve puzzles, spell words with cards, and draw on a magna-doodle. These things any first grader can do, begin to be a challenge after three hours of exhaustion. More running. We come out of the woods at the sheriff's shooting range where I shoot a small bow and arrow to determine how many division problems Matt has to solve. More running. Back in the boat. More paddling. Past the Hwy. 14 bridge. Past the Bibb Graves bridge. We paddle to the locks and beach the boat. Now it is time to swim against the current with the paddle to the steps of the lock. Climb the steps. This sounds simple. Try to picture that for over 5 hours now you have been running, peddling, paddling, and bouncing off rocks. Muscles are pulled, bruises are everywhere, and that big toe may be broken. Now you have had to swim against a strong current AGAIN, pushing a double blade paddle. And guess what? The steps are one foot high. Doesn't seem like much, I know. But go to your front porch and measure your steps. About half, huh? Hey, I stumped my toe on a three inch rock 5 hours ago! You think I can lift my feet one foot now? At this point, the paddle has become a walking cane. On top of the lock you look down on the river about 1000 feet below. O.K., it is only about 16 feet. But it seems like more. Toss your paddle and don't think about it--just jump. Resurface about 7 minutes later and swim back to the boat--paddle in hand. Board the boat paddle across the river, dismount and run a short distance to the Red Bull arch. That's it. Piece of cake. That is the story--at least the highlights. Here are a few pictures of the sequence;

Here we are at the MANDATORY 7:30 a.m. meeting where we were told the same things that we heard Friday night at 9 p.m. Note to race director; this is 2008, e-mail the rules and requirements or post them on the website. Receiving instructions should not become part of the endurance test. It was fairly cool when this meeting started. It was very warm when the race started.

But everybody waited and listened patiently and politely.

Because we all understood that this is a dangerous sport and should be taken very seriously.

Well, maybe some were less serious than others?

The bikes were transported to Swayback Bridge Trail head via U-Haul trucks. The participants were transported by school buses.
Once there, we had to find our bike. "I am sorry sir, that $4000 Felt bike is mine, yours is this $200 Wal-mart special."

I was told to "be careful" so here I am signaling a left turn into the transition area after finishing the 8 mile mountain bike leg. Actually, I was waving to one of my many fans.

This is the transition from the bike to the second run which took us to the "rock jungle"--a marked course over large boulders that was a sort of rock-climbing-at-a-jog. At the end of that we waded through part of the river and headed to the rappel. Matt drew the chip for rappelling and I had to swim back upriver to get our boat and paddles, then paddle back to pick him up. We both wanted it to go the other way on the draw, but you take what you get. The lady was not interested in "best of three".

We took the time to refill our hydration packs before hitting the river. This picture is probably too small to see the blood on my left leg from the bike crash. Just let me say men are much more polite competitors than women.

The hippies did well. And had more fun than anybody else.

Here we are approaching the sheriff's shooting range where I shot archery to determine how many division problems Matt had to solve. Thankfully, his math is better than my shooting. Yes, he really is that much taller than me. Yes, we had to carry our paddles everywhere. Yes, that makes it difficult to pull yourself up on a rope.
Later that same day;

Yes, we did finish thank you. Yes, it was still Saturday. Yes, it was still daylight. That is Matt's son Aiden next to the finish line. He announced that when he got home he was going to run a mile. No, he decided--he was going to run two miles. Matt told him he would have to get mom to run with him.

After the race, it was time to survey the damage.

Does this look right? I can't show all the injuries on the internet. This one occurred about 30 minutes into the race so the last 5 hours were after this "Coosa tatoo".

Here are two of my heroes; Donna Putnam and her daughter Leanne Armstrong (no relation to Lance). They made up team Put-Strong and had t-shirts with that team name. All the family that came to support and cheer for them had matching t-shirts. Although I teased them all day by calling them team "But-Strong", I am VERY proud of these two women for accomplishing what they did on this day. They set a goal nearly a year ago and worked hard to get to this Red Bull arch. Donna and Leanne placed themselves at the very back of the last wave to start the race and finished ahead of a couple of teams. They deserve a standing ovation.

This is another hero. I do not know them, although I see them eating in Wetumpka at times. I think it is a mother-daughter team. When they got to the last challenge-swimming to the locks and jumping off, the younger team member made it to the steps but mom just could not. She swam valiantly for minute after minute, at first seeming to swim in place as she battled the current and eventually sliding backward as she grew weak. I hurt for her so much as I watched her swim to the shore, fatigued and defeated. Her little girl shouted from the opposite shore "Go, mamma!" Mom walked up the shore to her original beginning point. She sat and rested a few minutes and tried it again. Again she battled the current. Don't give up we all were thinking. Somebody help her. The rescue boat had been called and was standing by. Come on guys, they are last--give her a lift to the steps. She could not do it. Her partner jumped and swam to the boat and paddled across the river with mom hanging on to the boat. It was all they could do to walk to the finish line. Bravo! I went to shake her hand. I am much more impressed by the courage of this lady than by the lean, young guy who finished in half the time. Actually, he is pretty impressive, too.
So it was over. But not really. The Coosa River Tatoos will be with us a while. I may not be able to do a sit-up for a few days. And besides my partner and my friends who raced and the 100 or so volunteers who made the race possible, there is one more person to thank. Her name is LaWanna and she is amazing. LaWanna got up early and put on her Roxy t-shirt. She was ready to leave at 6 a.m. and did not show any disappointment when I told her I was picking Matt up and he was riding with us. She took pictures which is why we have these to share. When the battery died on the digital she went to Wally world and bought a disposable. She made friends all along the route and wherever I arrived, people cheered for Roxy. Some I knew but many were people she had recruited to be my cheerleader. What other wife would do that? She was there until about 4:30 p.m. When I moaned and groaned, she never said "Why do you do this to yourself?" Do you know what she did? She massaged my back. And she is VERY good at massage. She has training and a portable table--give her a call. She may not do it for you but I can't tell you how thankful I am that she was that giving at the end of what was also a long day for her. Bravo. You are my hero also, humble servant. Bravo.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Oprah's Mom for Congress!

The following Associated Press story in indicative of the attitude many Americans seem to have adopted in the past few decades. I believe this attitude is why congress is debating a $700,000,000,000 bailout as you read this.

Winfrey's mom countersues store for its $156K bill
Tuesday, September 30, 2008 10:56 PM EDT The Associated Press

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Oprah Winfrey's mother says she shouldn't have to pay a nearly $156,000 debt to a high-end fashion store because store officials shouldn't have extended credit to her.
Valentina Inc. alleges that Vernita Lee of Milwaukee racked up $155,547 in purchases and interest as of July 1. The company sued, saying Lee fell behind in minimum monthly payments of $2,000.
Lee filed a counterclaim Friday contending that Valentina took advantage of her "lack of knowledge, ability, and-or capacity" when creating her credit account.
Court papers say Lee resolved a 2002 case with the company over a $175,000 bill. The resolution prohibited Valentina from extending further credit to her.
A message left for Valentina co-owner Tony Chirchirillo was not returned Tuesday.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Checking Account

Wow, I am really confused. All the news about the economy sure sounds bad but the proposed fixes sound even worse. Since I grew up on a red dirt road and never got a degree in macro- nor micro-economics, it is necessary to simplify the discussion for my understanding. I can't even picture how big a pile $700 Billion is. Isn't the largest bill printed these days the $100? If so, would the pile of money be as large as a living room? A house? A block? Montgomery? They are saying that it is not a bailout, but rather an investment. If that is so, do I get some kind of receipt? Do I own a couple of houses in Miami? Or 5% of 30 houses? Who is going to keep up with my return on investment? What if I decide not to invest in real estate or mortgages at this volatile time? Can I just withhold my taxes for a couple of years? What will the government do if I refuse to pay taxes? Put a lien on my house? So what? I am not going to be paying the mortgage anyway. Why should I struggle to make a mortgage AND pay taxes when the government is paying for much nicer houses than mine? In fact, I think I will just let the government buy my house as part of that $700 billion investment and pick out.....say a $800,000 house. Wouldn't my friends be more impressed if I were behind on a $800,000 mortgage than on a $36,000 mortgage?

This is not helping me understand at all. Can somebody explain why the CEO of a failed company that needs government help to remain solvent is given a multi-million dollar severance package? Is this the business world's version of paying farmers not to produce crops? Man, I wish I could bankrupt just one company and retire as a millionaire.

So what would happen if we looked at the government budget like you and I have to look at our checking account? You know, where you can only write checks for the amount you have in the account. What would happen if everybody actually had to pay for the items they purchased? What would happen if everybody knew that ahead of time--before signing for a mortgage beyond their means? On the other hand, what will happen if there is always a bailout and we know ahead of time that if we can't pay, that somebody else will?

And finally, how is it fair for me to have to pay more in taxes to service a debt created by elected officials in order to remove bad mortgages from the books of aggressive lenders? How is it fair that many live in much nicer houses and will be subsidized by my tax money when I have stayed in a modest house I could afford and get no help with my mortgage? How is that going to encourage financial wisdom and discipline in the future? Am I really the only one that is so confused?

Sunday, September 28, 2008


First, let me get the eating of crow out of the way. The "blackout" by the Georgia Bulldogs last night turned into a "knockout" by Alabama. So any hope of a perfect season is out of the way and I don't feel compelled to watch all the games now. I am still a Bulldog fan and will still use that to aggravate Auburn and Alabama fans--but not so much the Bama fans this year.

Second, I apologize for the dearth of posts recently. I am in that part of the ongoing cycle where I have comitted to more than I have time to do. One of those activities is the Coosa River Challenge. It is a multi-discipline race involving trail running, mountain biking, kayaking, rapelling, street running, dirt road running, and some "special challenges" we will not learn of until the day of the race. It is a 4 to 6 hour race, so it is not something to decide the day before that you would like to give a try . I will not list my current responsibilities that compete with "training time" but as the October 4th date draws near, the realization of insufficient training is becoming a very concrete reality. On top of that, as I stretched in preparation for running the Swayback trail Thursday after work, I injured my back. Yes, it is ironic (but not funny) that after mountain biking and crashing and running over hills and rocks and roots that my first injury would come while preparing to run. A trip to my doctor Friday (first day I have called in sick in about 10 years) netted some strong muscle relaxers. Maybe I can get in two more workouts before race day and be well enough to keep moving Saturday. It is also ironic that the trail is named for Swayback Bridge over a section of Lake Jordon that is designed to have a shape very much like my new posture. Turns out, having a swayback does not make you faster on Swayback Bridge Trail. Here is a picture of the famous bridge;

Third, I want to tie my feelings as a college football fan to my thoughts about the Coosa River Challenge. I mentioned my disappointment over Georgia's loss and I do feel a little sense of personal loss, which is silly. I don't have any real relationship with the Georgia football team other than being from that state originally. In fact, after living the first third of my life (so far) in Georgia, I have lived twice as long now in Alabama. When I came here at the tender (and naive) age of 18 people tried to force me to choose between Auburn and Alabama. It seemed that a prerequisite for living in the state was declaration to one team or the other. When I mentioned being from Georgia someone said "So you are a bulldog fan?" Been one ever since. That is about as deep as it goes. However, I have discovered that fans relate very strongly to their chosen teams. If the team is a winner, it indicates that the individual is a winner. Just for having a bumper sticker or window flag. When the team looses, it is devastating for some. I find myself falling into this trap at times. I have sat and watched 18-22 year old kids make mistakes and been frustrated because they did not try harder. I would no doubt be much harder on the kids if that was all I did--sit and watch. Thankfully, I have had opportunities (even as an old guy) to participate in sports competition that motivates me to get out and work my body as it was created for. That competition also forces me to be aware of how difficult it is to keep going at times--when your mouth and throat are parched--when the breathing can't catch up--when you are so hot you think you might throw up--when muscles ache--and when you ask yourself "What difference does all this effort make?" When announcers mention that a linebacker is playing injured, it is just words until I compete while injured. The quarterback has had the flu? He should just suck it up--until I try to run while sick. The more I do myself, the more I appreciate what those players do. And the more I want to be a participant, not just a spectator.

Here is the link if you are interested in the race. Come out and play! And here is the quote from Helen Keller that is on the website; "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."

LaWanna is going to serve as cheerleader and photographer so we should have some pictures in a week. Hopefully, there will be lots of smiles. Wanna said she plans to watch us come through the transition area twice and then go wait by the ambulance. People have different ideas of what a cheerleader does.