Saturday, December 27, 2008

On the way to Missouri

Actually, we're in Missouri now. Icy roads as we approached Chicago kept us from stopping to see Paul on the way through, so we just continued on to St. Louis last night.

Dinner at the Morgan Street Brewery. Before I got back to the table, Carly was already working on her first beer. Root beer, that is. Fisk, made here in St. Louis. Meanwhile, I settled for one of Morgan Street's Red Lagers. Nice.

After dinner we drove a few more miles and checked into a Drury Inn. When we got to the room, Carly went to the window. "We've got a great view! Steak and Shake, Bob Evans, Taco Bell..."

Christmas day was nice. Christmas eve with Francine's family--tons of kids, grand kids....

Christmas morning. Francine got me a great coffee maker that grinds the beans and then brews the coffee. It makes really great coffee. :-) At 8:00 we ran with the Grand Rapids Running Club, and then went to Marge's Donut Den. A great start to the day. When we got home I thought about a nap, but found the movie, The Bucket List, on On-Demand. I've been wanting to see it for a long time, and I wasn't disappointed. Go see it if you get a chance.

I cooked a small turkey and a gigantic squash and called Chris to invite him for supper. A nice, low-key holiday.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stuff from Misc Notes I Should Have Recorded Already (yet again)

22 November - Five years ago tomorrow I ran a marathon in my 50th state. It was my 87th marathon. It was a very special day that I shared with a very special woman.

Five years later--my whole life is different. Different house. Different wife. Different business. Better? Big time!


Marathons, Mountains, and Microbrews--where it all began:

Marathons--15 October, 1995 in Chicago

Mountains--1993 in Tasmania, I hiked up a mountain with Robert, Adrian Moll, and Steve Pullen near Hobart. Great day. More recently, probably inspired by Knox White while on a trip to Antarctica in 1997. About a year later I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Microbrews--Sometime around 1999, hanging out with Shawn Sweet at Founders Alehouse. Yes! There's more to life than Bud Lite!


Monday, December 22, 2008

Great weekend - but no running.

Snowbound! The weekend was a little longer than I had planned on--with all the snow Friday I spent quite a bit of time shoveling out. In fact, living on a street that's low-priority for the snow plows, I'm thinking it might be a long winter.

Friend Don showed up and helped push my car into some other tire tracks so that I could at least get back into my driveway. THANK YOU!!!

On dry roads, my tires would have been good for another 10000 or so. With the current conditions, it was time for some new tires. So after a few phone calls, I ended up at Belle Tire Friday afternoon for some new rubber. Much better!

Saturday morning--It was Santa Claus Girls delivery day. Over 13000 kids got presents Saturday as a result of their efforts. AMAZING. Our YMCA Service Club helps plan the routes and organize packages for them. We also help by directing traffic in the parking lot and by carrying packages to cars. Each delivery route has 14 stops, and we had around 350 routes! Very inspiring!!

I got home to find Francine shoveling. The road trucks had finally been down our street and piled about three feet of it into a wall in front of our driveway. I hate to think how many cubic feet of snow we had to move just to get our mailbox accessible again, as well as to get our cars in and out of the drive. After a bunch of shoveling, our neighbor DJ came over. "Can I help?" He went home and got his lawn tractor--with a blade on the back and a scoop on the front! WOW! It's amazing what you can do with the right equipment. THANKS!!

My girls came over Saturday afternoon. Ashley had to be in a wedding the next day--she's 7, and was the flower girl. Amber, 4, and Alexis, born Wednesday of Labor Day week, spent the night. Amber and Carly get along famously, so there was lots playing and dancing and singing going on. Lex is smiling all the time and sticking her tongue out, and has learned to burp without puking on me, which is a vast improvement since Thanksgiving weekend, when I went through quite a few shirts!

The big event was Sunday. My son-in-law Shawn along with the National Guard 125 Charlie Company returned from Iraq. We went to the ceremony at the Delta Plex to welcome them home. In spite of the nasty weather, extra plows were deployed at the airport and along the route to make sure our boys came home. Katie heads the Family Resource Group for the National Guard here, and so was key in planning the event. So I had lots of cause to be VERY PROUD of both of them.

We stopped and picked up a couple presents that Francine had ordered for her bosses, and then took Carly to the Mexican Telephone Company for lunch. (Taco Bell) Then came home and enjoyed a nice nap, snuggled on a sheepskin in front of the fireplace with the lovely Francine.

Not bad for a cold, wintry weekend in Michigan. Today, however--I'm buying a snowblower.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Interesting Quote

In light of the present financial crisis, it's interesting to read what Thomas Jefferson said in 1802 :

'I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.'

Friday, December 05, 2008

Car Companies

OK, I'm going to say something about the car company bailouts.

First, I'm disgusted with the car companies in general. Probably with most publicly traded companies, in fact. No one seems to look at the long term. If the Big 3 AND the unions had looked ahead, they may have realized that sooner or later we need to develop alternate fuel vehicles, concentrate on economy, and maybe not commit to continuing to pay people from current revenue streams long after they're retired and not contributing anything to the company any more.

Now, with so much debt that it can never be serviced, they're asking for $34 billion worth of LOANS (more debt) to get them out of the current situation. How exactly is that going to help in the long term? My opinion is that it won't. It'll just prolong the problems for a while.

We have some pretty good bankruptcy laws in this country that would allow GM to restructure, get rid of a lot of debt, etc. Would it hurt? Sure. The shareholders would lose all their money. But they've lost most of it already, so that's just going to finish it off.

Meanwhile, our governor is busy lobbying for the bailout. Of course she is. She's governor of a state that hosts the automotive industry. She keeps asking who would buy a car from a company that's in bankruptcy? Remember United Airlines? Who would fly on an airline that's going bankrupt? Silly question, right? United went through the process, the shareholders got wiped out, but the company is still in business and moving in good directions.

I expect the Congress will bail out the car companies. Oh well. I hope it works if they do.

Meanwhile, let me talk about something cool the car companies do. They all have agreed on how far apart to space the holes so that we can screw our license plates to them. Then all the states agreed to make license plates with holes the same corresponding distance. Pretty good, eh? The whole freakin' country agrees on something. How often does that happen?

Imagine a state like Wyoming deciding to make their license plates with holes a different distance apart. That could be an effective way to keep people from moving there.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Stuff from Misc Notes I Should Have Recorded Already

I went to Aunt Erna's funeral about a month ago. She's my mom's aunt, the wife of my Grandpa Lloyd's brother Lawrence. Last summer we went to her 90th birthday party.

Everyone had nice things to say about her, like at everyone's funeral. No one ever says bad things about the dead at their funerals. In her case, I doubt that there IS anything bad to say. She was one of the nicest people in the world. You can tell that if you meet any of her kids (my mom's first cousins) or grandkids. They're ALL nice.

The funeral was almost joyous. Her suffering was over. Whatever would happen to her next would be better. What a nice person.

I hope people will have nice things to say about me like that. I also hope it isn't for about 50 years or so.

(I really don't like the song, "How Great Thou Art." Might be because I've heard so many people slaughter it in my lifetime.)
Regarding the Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon, of which I'm the race director:
"If you aren't having the best marathon experience ever, we aren't doing something right."

I need to do a "viral video" that catches on all over the country because it's clever, funny, or just plain wierd.

Jacques Cousteau said this: When one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.

When I was at Ben Burk's place in Rapid City, I had a pint of Brown Cow Ale at the Firehouse Brewing Company. Then I had a pint of Firehouse Red.

Elections, Races, and other random thoughts

Granted, it's not until January 20th that President Obama takes office, but it still looks like he's moving in good directions. At least I hope so.

Of course, there's the usual racist BS going on. I hate that. Yeah, we elected a Black guy president. I think that's good. Not because he's Black. Because the American people took that out of their decision making process.

I know--some people say he's only half-Black. So what. He looks Black. That's cool. I like that we have a whole bunch of races in this country. It makes life more interesting. Richer. Me? I'm just a plain White guy. Mostly WASP. But then, one of my great-great grandmothers was an American Indian. Another one was Dutch. I think there were a few Germans in there somewhere.

I don't like the term "Native American" when it's used to refer to American Indians. I have to go back five generations before I can even find one ancestor who wasn't born in this country. I figure that makes me as "native" as anybody. I also don't especially like any Hyphenated-American designations. I'm not suggesting giving up our ancestors, but once we're Americans maybe we should keep our eyes on making the future better. (Call yourself whatever you want though.)

After travelling to about 30 countries, I'm always thankful for the richness that the world has to offer. Every country, every race, every sub-culture has something interesting to add to the mix. Even travelling to other parts of the U.S. we find a whole lot of differences. Driving through the "Bible Belt" a couple weeks ago, I cruised the radio stations and was able to find either religious music or country music. Rarely a rock and roll station to be found. The waitresses around there all call me "Honey" or "Sugar" even though they just met me. It's a friendly part of the country.

Coming home from a trip to all seven continents for marathons last year, I was connecting through an airport in Tokyo and for the first time in about a month I heard some Americans talking. It reminded me of how much I missed home. Good old American Black and White people, talking in accents I could understand. It was nice. Made me homesick.

I like that our government is moving in directions where people are no longer "tokens." It's getting so that people are chosen more for their abilities and merits and less because they belong to a particular race or gender.

Our country is getting better. I'm not blind to the faults we might still have, but comparing 2008 to the 1960s it's amazingly different. We're moving in good directions. Let's keep moving.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Marathons, Mountains, and Microbrews

Yes, you know those are my three "hobbies" by this time. So now, all I need is a marathon to make the month complete.

It would happen on November 23 in a park in the southwest corner of Nashville. The Flying Monkey Marathon! It was just a little affair--only a couple hundred runners allowed, and a race director who (believe it or not) may just be crazier than I am. I had to contact RD Trent Rosenbloom to get in, since registration had closed a long time before, but he welcomed me.

Also, I ran into old friends GW and Linda from Colorado--my former shipmates aboard the Ioffe in last year's first trip to Antarctica.

Race morning was COLD -- around 27 degrees. But a nice day and not too windy, so after the race started it was comfortable. The course--ALL HILLS for 26.2 miles. There's an 11.2 mile loop that we ran both forward and backward, with a little more thrown in along the way. Since I wasn't familiar with the area, I never really knew which direction we were going. It was only up and down.

Somewhere around 12 miles I caught up with a guy named Max, and we spent the rest of the race getting to know each other and solving the world's problems. Finally, with only two people still behind us, we finished around 6 hours 37 minutes.

Slow day. Yes. However, only 4 weeks earlier, I had my second knee surgery of the year. And, in spite of that, I kept my marathon-a-month streak alive at 69 months in a row. Now I'm working on getting back up to speed, strengthening my legs, and getting my marathon times back to around 4:30 before another six months goes by.

So there you go. Month of November held seven state high points, about 9 or 10 breweries, and a marathon. Not bad.

And next November? I'm thinking of going back and giving the Monkey another try.

and the adventure continues....

Route 66

The final leg of the journey would start the afternoon of November 18th as we headed south to Amarillo and then to Route 66.

After stopping in Tulsa for the night, we hit the road fairly early, with the intention to get back home before the day was done. LOTS OF DRIVING. We got off the freeway again as we approached Kansas, and went back onto the two-lane version of the old Route 66. There are only 13.2 miles of it, cutting across the southeast corner of the state, so I wanted to travel the whole thing.

It was also a scouting mission, of sorts. Perhaps at sometime we could do a marathon, starting in Missouri, following Route 66 through Kansas, turning around at the Oklahoma boarder and heading back for just-slightly-long marathon. I think it would work well.

Back to the freeway and across Missouri, and I was getting tired of travelling and determined to be home for the night. Our only stops were at an outlet store along the freeway near Lebanon, MO, and then in St. Louis, where we had lunch at the Morgan Street Brewery along with a pint of their seasonal Pumpkin Ale. The brewery is practically in the shadow of the St. Louis Arch, so I got to see that as well.

Around 8:00 Chicago time I dropped Mike off at his place in Skokie, and headed for home as fast as I could get away with. Well, actually I didn't quite get away with it, but the Indiana state cop let me off with a warning.

Did I say that the final high point was a couple days earlier? Well, probably the best high point of the whole trip was the welcome home I got from the lovely Francine. But, that's a whole 'nother story. :-)

and the adventure continues....