Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Pause Button

I spent a major part of one day last week in a meeting where there was a good bit of blame tossing going on. In reality the problems that surrounded the design and construction of the building under discussion had many sources. The architects wanted to blame the contractors. The contractors claimed it was an architect driven problem. When that didn’t work out they turned on the owner and on and on it went. I was a neutral third party and could see the blame ball being batted back and forth even though the subject under discussion had resulted from the complexity of the issue and everyone in the room needed to be involved in the solution instead of arguing irresolvable questions of fault.

Some words were heated. Many of the words were poorly chosen and completely unproductive.

I have read in Taoist writings that in ancient times people so revered words on paper that they tried never to throw the paper away. When they could no longer write on a piece of paper, they would very carefully gather it up and burned it reverently, so that the words in the paper would be recycled into the great process of life. That was the great respect that the ancient Taoist had for words.

Before the ancient sages spoke they paused to carefully consider what they were about to say. During speaking they often paused again for more contemplation. For them, the words they spoke were sacred. Their words represented their depth of wisdom and knowledge. Their words and the thoughts expressed by the words were not to be devalued by gossip or thoughtlessness.

The writer of Toltec philosophy Don Miguel Ruiz teaches that we should use our speech in a similar method. He speaks against gossip and ‘black language’ cautioning us about the power of our words.

Reflecting on this past meeting I could not help but think about these things. Words used to hurt or blame, when they could have been used to problem solve instead. Words used in fear of the judgment of others; judgment that surely was being thrown around willfully.

Here is what I think I re-learned. I say re-learned because all of us inherently know these things in the beginning. Our fear of judgment by others springs us into the inappropriate use of the power of our words. Other things might do this as well; but the cause will always have fear at its base.

The logical conclusion might be that if we strive to drop our judgment, simultaneously learning to not fear the judgment of others, then perhaps we become able to once again elevate our words to their appropriate sacredness?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Dachsund with a "Glue-On"

Our dog Harrison has followed me around all weekend. I feel like a prisoner in a maximum security prison while Harrison plays the role of the prison guard.

It doesn’t seem that I can make a move without being observed. He is a canine version of George Orwell’s Big Brother.

My wife is in Saint Louis visiting our grandson. That has completely discombobulated Harrison and he clearly doesn’t know where she is and he’s freaked out.

He has decided he will express his concern for her whereabouts by sticking like glue to me and being certain that he knows where I am. He’s been to pee with me. He’s been to the pool with me. He’s been into the kitchen with me. He patiently sat at my feet while I made a sandwich.

I can't figure out how to ditch him. He's right under my feet every time I look down.

He lay by the edge of the pool while I sunned. He barked his Dachsund ass off at two squirrels, which appeared to shoot the finger at him; or at least the squirrel equivalent of the same. He barked at the neighbor’s dog. The neighbor’s dog in a fit of vast dog intelligence barked back with great passion. When I went inside he followed me, seeming to surrender in the war with the squirrels and neighbor dog.

When I went into the living room he followed. He wanted to sit in my lap.

No thanks.

He smells bad because he’s been lying in the sun. I smell bad too, but then I can take a shower and I’m too lazy to wash his ‘clinging to me’ furry dog butt.

I don’t think he cares if he stinks anyway.

Dear wife, please come home before I kill the guard…err…I mean your dog.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Die-Stamped

I watched from the on-deck circle as the new pitcher warmed up to face me. I swung two bats around in the warmup area showing off my muscled arms for the high school girls in the stands. I was a high school junior playing second base, 16 years old, with a love and talent for baseball. I was also a cock-sure peacock of a male, driving a 1964 Mustang, wearing Aqua Velva after shave just like Joe Namath, and strutting down the school halls like Joe would do it, enjoying 1968 to its fullest.

I scanned the crowd, trying my best to be nonchalant about the fans chanting my name and imploring me to bring home more runs with my bat. The fans consisted of the usual high school baseball crowd. They had nicknamed me ‘birdman’ because of my fleet feet and chants of ‘birdman – birdman - birdman’ filtered across my consciousness as I stared out at the pitcher warming up. There were more fans than usual spilling completely out of the stands, many standing two and three deep along the walkways.

She was sitting in the stands with a girl friend when I first saw her. Dark long hair parted down the middle in the popular 1968 style. She had dark brown eyes, and a multitude of freckles splashed across her face. Across the freckled face played a smile that was radiant, highlighted by a very slightly chipped front tooth that gave her a down to earth cuteness that seemed to comfortably marry itself with her remarkable beauty.

I attended a large high school and as astounding as it may seem I had never seen this girl. When I did finally discover her my eyes would not leave her. I stared at her the rest of the game. She would smile demurely but look away out of embarrassment. Years later she would confess that she secretly followed me from one of her classes to my next class that year hoping to be noticed. A cock-sure peacock of a male moves quickly when he sees something he wants. I had completely noticed her for about two solid hours of mouth open staring. She was a senior bound for college, 1-1/2 years older than me which can be a huge difference when an 18 year old girl is assessing a punk 16 year old boy. My friends told me I had no chance with such a gorgeous senior. She was wiser and more careful than me, but I had passion and confidence and on the first date I left her at her door with the promise that one day I would marry her. She smiled slightly, not quite sure what to make of me.

On a mid April Saturday in 1972 the girl with the gorgeous freckled face said “I Do” to the dark haired baseball playing peacock of a boy that was quickly becoming a man.

She has watched me grow up for the past 34 years. In fact she sometimes has made me grow up. We have survived ovarian cancer. We have survived my stupidity and selfishness. We have survived all the things that a couple is required to survive and maybe a little more.

We have adopted and raised two successful children and we have a grandson.

As we work our way into our fifties it feels as if we have ascended a mountain in many respects. Often it seemed the mountain trail was scaled in the darkness, her hand in mine, and perhaps there is more mountain trail to climb. But we will keep doing it the way we always have, her hand in mine.

The women in my lady’s family live long lives. I will reach the top of the mountain before her. But that magic in her face and the love that seems now die-stamped in her heart will stay with me wherever I go, and I will wait patiently for the source of my memories to come home to me.

Baseball has always played a pivotal role in my life. And now I sit here 34 years later thinking about that long ago baseball game in 1968. It was the day I found something I loved more than baseball, and the memory of that remarkable paradox remains as fresh in my mind as the day it happened.

I’m tempted to write something like ‘after 34 years it seems so far, so good’, but I know I should backspace through it and write instead “so far and so good.”

Below is the face I became enchanted with in 1968. She is 19 in the photo. Now really, can you fault me?

Consider me blessed; kinda like Forrest Gump.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Morning Dove

Sunday when I awoke the sunshine was streaming through the blinds of my bedroom window. It was making that distinctive striped pattern of sunlight and shadow that blinds make, its play of light and dark spread across the quilt that still covered me. I wasn’t working today so it was possible to actually be in bed as the sun made its appearance in my room. The window was slightly open for fresh air overnight and I could hear the swimming pool’s fountains splashing into the water outside. Near the window a morning dove emitted its soft ‘cooo’ sound. The air in the room was fresh, the sunlight warming and persistent.

If Walt Disney were alive to design a day, one full of zippity-doo-dahs and bluebirds on your shoulder, he would have given me this morning.

Most of our Sunday was spent at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. Although Fort Worth carries the nickname “Cowtown’ the museums of Fort Worth are world famous and the Kimbell Museum houses one of the world’s finest collections.

That in turn caused me to think about the creative potential in each of us. Some of us write blogs, others like my wife capture the world through photography. Some paint, some run and lift weights sculpting the physique, mother’s read creatively to their children, some make music, but everywhere you look, if you look carefully and with a discerning eye, you will see creativity at work in virtually all individuals around you.
All of us carry the potential to create. Many of your friends or family might claim otherwise, declaring “I can’t paint, draw or do anything creative”. But its not true.
God blessed us all with the power to create. The power to create love, art, food, friends, music, words, happiness and even sadness if that is what we want.
All of us are like the flower you have seen on the Discovery Channel, unfolding in time lapse video. We get a chance to show the world what beauty we can lend when each new day begins.

That is an important point in my mind, the idea that we lend our creativity to the world. In doing so we create beauty within the world. Many people in the arts want to be recognized for their contribution. That is only human and not in itself a negative thing, but it misses a larger point.
If we view our creativity in a different way, by understanding that what we have to give is being shared, even if we are not hoisted on to another’s shoulders to be celebrated, then we gain insight into the creative process life intends for us.

It is the wisest of persons that understands his or her contribution is being absorbed and appreciated by others even when the appreciation is not immediately known. I re-introduce you to the idea of a musician inspiring millions while unable to meet them all and learn that he or she has inspired them.
How many of us have discovered an incredible photograph, piece of art, music or literature and had it inspire our lives without a clue as to whom the creator might have been? Still, the creator exists, though they will never experience your praise or satisfaction.

It is enough to create. It is enough to lend and share yourself. Create and move forward, never looking around for applause. Often the applause will circle around and surprise you from the front. Sometimes it will be applause so distant that you never hear it all; and that is alright because the measure of your gift has been fully received.

I got out of bed and stood in the sunshine, observing it splatter across my chest in its distinctive pattern, enjoying its warmth. My wife walked through the room on the way to another room. She smiled at me. She was barefoot, wearing a bright blue Japanese silk robe. She was as pretty as the day I first saw her. Her slight and graceful robed image bounced around in my head happily and energetically even though she never said a word to me as she walked away into another part of the house. It remained long after she left.

She was creating art, and to her credit, I think she knew it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Embrace The Paradox

There have been many times that I wished I could go back in my life and try parts of it again. That thought is locked into a parallel thought that all of us have had, “If I knew then what I know now.” It would all be done differently for all of us I’m confident. It would make it all so much easier would it not?

Or would it?

If we had known then what we know now, then we would have known all of the future in front of us as well. We would know that those thrilling moments we once knew would pass and not be nearly as important as they seemed at the time. We would know which of our triumphs were meaningful and which ones hardly mattered. We might know the joy we felt in a relationship was only temporary. That level of knowledge would quite literally suck the joy out of our existence.

Similarly we wish sometimes that we knew what was in front of us. I say we wish this on ourselves simply because we so often fear what we do not know about our future. Will I be able to keep my job? Will I be able to afford a better house? What type life will my children have? Where is this relationship going? All of these thoughts are fears. It is our ever present fear of not knowing what lies in front of us.

If we knew would it be better? What if we knew the tragedies awaiting our children? Would it improve our life? What if we knew the joys awaiting our children? Would it not merely dampen the joy at their happy moment just because we already knew this would happen? If we knew what lay in front of us then we could fold up tent and just die because life would hold no more anticipation or wonder.

You see it is our very ignorance that keeps us sane and living each day. I think it is the creator’s plan, and by figuring this out and accepting our ignorance, even welcoming it, we grant ourselves permission to revel in each day, living it to our fullest capability.

In our rush to know all things, even the future, we reject this remarkable truth, accepting our ignorance of the future as something to fear. This phenomenon I refer to as ‘fearing our own fear.’

To accept our ignorance of tomorrow is to embrace the art of living each day at its intended peak. We only need to accept peacefully that our ignorance protects us and keeps us sane.

Embrace the paradox and hold it tight.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Monkeys Love Blogging

Rick's Satire Report News
St. Louis, Missouri

Maverick researcher Fred Jones has determined that monkeys can become quickly addicted to blogging. Jones initial research conducted at the St. Louis Zoo consisted of installing PC’s in the zoo’s chimpanzee exhibit area.

According to Jones the PC’s were equipped with special chimpanzee keyboards. The keyboards contained graphic symbols previously developed in prior research on monkey language. The keys included, for example, a monkey throwing his own waste to express a feeling of anger. Number keys utilized bananas, one banana meaning the number one and so forth. An embedded program in the PC’s then converted the symbols into English.

Each chimp was assigned a blog template and blogger name and given addresses of human bloggers.

According to Jones the majority of the chimps became glued to their monitors ignoring the environment surrounding them. Swinging from branch to branch was down by 73%. The previous occupation of sitting motionless while staring into the distance decreased by 81%. The younger monkeys chasing one another around the cage and from tire swing to tire swing while the elders watched went down markedly as the older chimps were no longer interested in watching the youngster’s games. Jones said the obvious ‘marker’ to blogging addiction came when mom chimpanzees quit picking whatever it is they pick from the little chimps heads.

The elder female chimp, ‘Franny’ became fond of posting about her husband “Grins’. Her posts regularly bashed Grins for his failures in communication and romance.

Her elder husband ‘Grins’ posts were often rants about the fact that the young chimps didn’t understand how hard life was in the ‘old-style’ zoos.

The young chimps blogged randomly and virtually unintelligibly about apparently nothing at all.

In all cases according to Jones the chimps appeared hopelessly addicted to blogging, sitting in front of the PC’s all day and into the night.

Human researchers that I interviewed say this research has important implications for assessing human blogging behavior but that one should not jump to conclusions. Joan Liberal, a Princeton researcher with the ‘Acceptable Behavior of Humans Enforcement League’ said “After all, these are monkeys we are talking about, not that there is anything wrong with monkeys of course.” She said the monkeys needed to be placed into a rehab group, hopefully funded under an affirmative action clause of Zoo legislation. She also expressed concern that the handicapped chimps did not have special handicapped accessibility keyboards. When informed that none of the champs were handicapped, Ms. Liberal said “Well, of course not, they did not properly provide for them.” She then broke into tears, made unintelligible comments about ‘bastard zoo-owning Republicans’, and then dismissed herself from additional questioning.

According to Jones the research has been hampered by the removal of the PC’s by zoo officials. They were removed when chimps from a Mexican zoo showed up unexpectedly in the cage one morning. Zoo officials did not know how the Mexican chimps had made their way to St. Louis but arrangements are being made to either deport them back to the Nuevo Laredo Zoo or make them St. Louis zoo citizens. Apparently the Mexican chimps were drawn to a better way of life in the St. Louis Zoo.

Meanwhile it was deemed detrimental to the Mexican chimps integration process since the existing PC resources were not plentiful enough to go around.

Regular zoo visitor Irene Smith said she missed the good old days when the monkeys threw their crap at unruly teenagers. "Maybe now that the PC's are gone they can get back to just being monkeys", she said.



Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Creative Yet Ugly

Once a year I give a guest lecture at my college alma mater to students of architecture. The subject matter can be wide ranging, but the students always want to talk 'design'.
During the Q&A after the talk a couple of years ago a student asked the very intriguing question..."Is it possible for a work of art to lack aesthetic yet be filled with creative thought at the same time." Perhaps a more clear way to ask this is "can a man-made element be very creative, and yet ugly."
I told him I certainly thought so and that the idea is solidly illustrated by practically every work involving Frank Gehry.
Understand that architect Frank Gehry is an icon and hero to most of these students. I believe he is very creative and that his architecture is manipulative and ugly. So it goes.

Recently a friend sent me a silly picture. I found some extra meaning in it because it also tells the truth about the possibility of 'creativity' being married to 'not so pretty'. (Marriage jokes are allowed in the comments area.)

The Professor's Grade:
Creativity: A+
Aesthetic Achievement: F-

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Noose Around Their Necks

Grant mentioned recently that he would like to see some of my police experiences written about in this space.
So much is remembered and could be discussed. Most of it is interesting to me, but also often scary or even grim for the casual reader.
In order to make such a recounting meaningful it is helpful (I think) to draw a parallel between a story and a cultural or social situation. In that way maybe the story has some thought value beyond “hey, here is a police story.”
The story below will attempt to draw a line between the story and the current illegal immigrant discussion, though the line may wave and weave along the way. In fact it may actually disappear, though I will focus on keeping it visible.

I was on patrol when the dispatcher radioed to me that she needed help back at the station. Her explanation was that an inmate in our municipal jail was trying to kill himself. Her job duty meant never going outside her control room and certainly never entering the jail block under any circumstance. However, one of our incarcerated was banging on his cell door and yelling at her to have someone stop this suicide attempt.
I drew the black bean on this one simply because I happened to be the senior statesman out on the streets at that moment.
I tried to calm her down and told her I would be back there to the jail in a jiffy. When I arrived she explained the situation and buzzed the cell block door open for me. Going into a cell block, particularly alone, can be dangerous and all weapons are removed and secured before entering. This is done so that any fighting or struggling does not result in having your weapon used against you. So, you go in with the playing field leveled between you and prisoner.
When I came to the cell in question I had dispatch buzz the door open. The doors were solid steel doors with a small window at around five foot high. I went inside.
The man in front of me was wearing a noose around his neck and had tears in his eyes. Contrary to what this image might present to you I honestly had to suppress a feeling to laugh. The prisoner had removed the plastic mattress edging in long strands. Imagine a bare mattress and the nylon chord that goes around the edges, holding the mattress covers together. That material was his hanging weapon.
He had tied this nylon chord around his neck and was jumping from the top of a double bunk attempting to end his life. On each attempt the chord would break under the load of his body. He would remove more chord and try again. He eventually ran out of ‘hanging material.’ The sight in front of me consisted of a man wearing a handmade noose of nylon chord insufficient to do the job. The chord extending from the noose portion stuck up above his head in a rigid vertical line, its failure clearly evident. In the odd way that things can strike us it was actually a little funny to me. Funny, I guess, because of the complete irrationality of the entire situation.
This man was in our jail waiting transfer to the county jail system because we had arrested him for passing bad checks at grocery stores. He would write rubber checks and get cash for them. He had been ‘handled’ many times before and this was a repeat felony, now of sufficient quantity to land him in the Texas prison system for a long stretch.
I could tell you the whole story of my conversation with him. I will not do that for fear of an extraordinarily long post. I worked my way toward understanding his desire for leaving earth.
What he told me was unsettling in its blindness and in its confusion. He told me that yes indeed he does write phony ID checks. He said the problem in his life was that the police continued to arrest him for doing this.
He told me I was responsible for his wanting to kill himself. He said he had a wife and four children and needed to feed them. He told me if we would just stop arresting him he could get ahead and would no longer need to break the law. If he passed enough bad checks and we just left him alone, then soon he would be able to get a regular job and become a good citizen. But, now we had arrested him enough times that he would not be able to take care of his family at all. Why, he asked, didn’t we understand this?
I tried to help him understand that writing bad checks was the same as stealing because when all was accounted for he had in fact actually stolen the money from another human. He reasoned that he was stealing the money from a grocery store not a human. For him this reasoning led to the belief that he had not harmed anyone at all.
His working philosophy appeared to be “Let me break the law so that I can become solvent enough to not need to break the law. I’m not really hurting anyone.”

This sounds familiar maybe? Waves of immigrants that are telling us ‘let me break the law until I become solvent enough to not break the law. And just as in the prisoner’s situation it is reckoned that there are no victims of the action. They believe it is the US government that is paying the way not individual American citizens via taxation.

Now I think there are multiple ways to run with this discussion and each of us can choose which way we want to go.

These are authentic human compassion issues to wrestle with; illegals hurting to provide for their families. There are U.S. citizen victims of this crime.

For the record my position is that the problem is not a U.S. problem at its genesis. If we look deep into the nucleus of the situation this is a Mexican government and cultural crisis. There is a long-standing problem of government and business corruption in Mexico. The U.S. difficulty with illegal immigration is merely a symptom of this corruption malignancy deeply embeddded in Mexico. Until the Mexican people are given the opportunities in Mexico that they find in the U.S. we will continue to wrestle with the ‘noose around their necks’.

Perhaps this protest energy might be better applied a little farther south? Yes, I know citizens of Mexico will die in protests in Mexico. Yes, I know it will not be easy to reform decades of power abuse and corruption. Still all journeys begin with the first step and I think the first steps become more necessary as the steps into America become more difficult, or at least more legal.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Consistency

I don’t know the reason, but consistency is on my mind today. Consistency matters to me. It is a trait I admire.

I think about my blogging friends Stacy and Patti that are consistent in the support of their husbands and their visits to my humble site. I think about Stormy who visits me every day just to see what silliness I have here. There is my blog friend Reach and his allegiance to country, duty and his unfailing support and positive attitude.

I think of my masters track friend Wayne Bennett who has taught me so much and shared his wealth of track knowledge consistently and willingly.

Grant visits here frequently and adds his considerable observation and interesting take on life in a consistent fashion.

I am particularly impressed with fellow blogger Robert Shapiro who labors in benevolence day after day with admirable focus to task, never complaining and always encouraging.

There is Jenn who shows consistency in her devotion to her daughter’s welfare and visits here regularly.

This is a wonderful and underestimated trait. The ability to be consistent in our devotion to duty and friends transforms us from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Yet we often de-value this trait. We think of spouses as boring or unoriginal despite their remarkable devotion and consistency. We complain about mothers or fathers despite their unfailing devotion and consistency. We wish our friends were more consistent despite any evidence that they have ever failed us.

Here is a ‘shout-out’ of positive feeling for all of you that consistently shine your multi-colored and consistent light my way.

My hat is off to your consistency.

It is a trait to be treasured and admired. Even cherished.

And I do.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Yep

I’ve got a feeling all you idjits have probably seen this before. I plucked it off the Photobucket.com deleted area so I just imagine lots of bloggers have had it up before. I don’t care cuz it made me laugh, and it was new to me. And I am all that matters after all.

I have a somewhat unorthodox view about clothes and nudity. I just don’t think clothes or lack of same matters a lot despite our society’s obvious fascination with the subject. All you girls can go naked around me any time you want. I don’t care. Really.

Unless you are under 4’-11” and weigh more than 200 lbs and you are the same person.

Anyway, this cartoon just makes me laugh. Out loud.

Have a great HN Thursday!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Brain Research Raises Questions

Rick Satire Report News
Dallas, Texas

New studies conducted in Dallas,Texas indicate that the onset of Alzheimer’s in men has a previously undiscovered and remarkable source. After extensive testing and surveying of principal life styles in male Alzheimer’s victims a causal factor has been isolated.

According to researchers the disease in men is likely produced by brain damage resulting from men having to answer successive multiple questions posed by women.

The idea that brain cells can actually be altered by a series of questions unbroken by direct statements was first postulated by a thrice divorced scientist in Texas. He noticed that his daughters had begun to end statements with the characteristic inflection of a question. For example the statement “Dad, I am going to the mall.” Had been repackaged as “Dad I am, like, going to the mall, you know?” This was confusing to the scientist in that he had no ready answer for what sounded like a question, but appeared upon additional examination to be a statement.

According to the research presented by the scientist, the breaking point appears to be 7 successive questions. After engaging the brain in answering 7 questions in a row the male brain cellular material undergoes a negative alteration. The researchers stress that the number of questions can exceed 7 or actual alteration of cells can occur prior to 7 depending on the emotional complexity of the question and the irritation level of the women asking the question. The researchers stressed that 7 straight questions represent the mean figure.

According to behavioral experts the new studies are loaded with cultural implications. Professor Cynthia Johnson of the Institute for Brain Function said that women can accelerate the onset of Alzheimer’s in their mate by simply asking successive questions, in excess of 7 in a row on a daily basis, as is already their custom. On the other hand, they can prevent this horrible disease by being careful to insert a statement between their normal patterns of multiple questions. She added that the study raises many, many questions that require answers.

Professor John Runoff at the Southern Strategic Command Center of the U.S. Air Force is currently trying to determine if the research will help explain why males traditionally run faster than females. Runoff postulates, in the absence of research, that it is possible that men are able to run faster in order to ‘outrun the persistent questioning’ of the female gender. In Runoff’s thinking this would represent an evolutionary refinement necessary in saving brain tissue. He added his research is being bogged down by the questions posed by Professor Johnson of the Institute for Brain Function.

Dr. Philip Hearmore of the American Academy for Hearing Research indicated that the new findings have repercussions for his work. According to Hearmore, the incidence of deafness among his male patients may be a faked impairment. “These men may be engaging in a defensive behavior designed to slow the death of their brains” he said.

Dr. Hearmore declined to answer additional questions.

Nancy Reagan, when contacted, asked why I was calling, and would it require any travel or social arrangements on her part. She also asked about fees and if her caregivers could also respond and if the phone call was on a cell phone or a land line. When informed it was a cell phone she asked which service provider I was using and if I was happy with their service. I began to feel confused and I confessed to her that I had forgotten why I called.

After proofreading this post my wife asked, "Why do you make this stuff up, aren't you afraid you will offend someone, or get them confused?"

That counts as three questions!

Gotta run! Maybe fast. See ya.
Sunday, May 07, 2006

Satin Halo and the Margaritas

A friend of mine took me to the horse races this past week. He’s a big racing fan and I have a less passionate interest. We sat behind two married couples.

The two men in front were rigorously analyzing the race forms, comparing the prior race data of the horses. They were looking at previous race times, furlong splits, recent training times, the weights of the jockeys and entering the data into a laptop one of the men had with him. When they were satisfied they decided ‘Appealing Air’ was the horse to place the money on in race 5. They marched off to the betting windows having completely researched the issue. I was impressed.

Meanwhile the two wives chatted happily about their grandchildren. When the horses came through for the pre-race walk-around, they turned their attention to the horses. Both of them were particularly partial to “Satin Halo’, a brilliantly colored black 3 year old. He was a grand animal. Sitting atop “Satin Halo” was a female jockey with baby blue silks trimmed in yellow and black checks.

The ladies declared her to be strikingly elegant in the baby blue and they were thoroughly won over by the combination of the blackness of the animal and the attire of the jockey.

Following the example of their men, the women also skee-daddled for the betting windows before the race. I was not impressed. I even laughed at them.

Satin Halo won the race in a breeze. It was no contest. Appealing Air limped home in fifth.

The men were disgruntled and frustrated. The ladies? They missed the race. They were inside buying a margarita in a lovely etched souvenir glass.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Good and Not Good

You know how every family has one or more members that are shall we say 'not so bright'? But we keep them around because they are family after all.
Ours is my cousin Taylor. Taylor phoned me after the last post because he isn't smart enough to figure out the comment thingy. He asked what did I mean by a 'milk cow hiney'. Well Taylor, just for you I have gone to the trouble to create an illustration. See below. If you are still confused do not call me again! Call your father or something, cuz I am very busy being an economically productive member of the family.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Somebody 'splain' it to me

From time to time poor ol Rick just needs to have some things explained to him. I'm hoping my girl readers can help me understand a particular cultural phenomena of the past 3-4 years. The guys will surely know what I am asking too, and if they know the answer, please chime in.

I keep seeing girls that have low cut jeans and thong underwear and when they sit down their underwear shows or their hiney crack shows. I'm not complaining about this. Girls showing hiney is all good by me so long as they are not milk cow hineys.

But here is what I notice. Most of the girls are tugging incessantly on their pants so that their underwear does not show. Tug, tug, tug, tug, looking around to see if anyone is looking.

I went to a baseball game last week and a young girl sat in front of me in the bleachers. When she sat down her pants rode down and her thong top was more than a little exposed. Yes, I noticed.

Then, she turned around and looked at me, tugged up her pants and gave ME a DIRTY LOOK!!!!

OK....table is set. Here is my question. If they want to show their underwear and hiney cracks why don't they just get into the spirit and do it. I promise most of us guys don't care a bit.

If they don't, well its obvious the clothes selection should be different.
But on behalf of all guys out here....if you are going to do this for God's sake just do it and don't be giving MEN a dirty 'what a pervert' look!

Can you help me with this? What gives?
Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Nuts To You

All of you know how I sometimes go off into some weird post about sunshine on my wings and such stuff. Believing that a world outside what we can see exists. If you have scoffed at this I say 'nuts to you'. And this pic supports my thought perfectly. On top is a store dealing in nuts, I guess. And on the bottom is a PSYCHIC. And its not Photoshop. This is in downtown Philly and it is as real as your car payment.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Ever heard the phrase 'bullshit is flying'? This is where it is coming from. From the flying bull in Philly!



Sunday we ate at a famous Philly Cheesesteak place called Pat's Steaks. Up rolled a long black limo. Out came TV cameras and reporters followed by the Philadelphia Eagles No.1 draft pick from the day before. Guess which one is him! He is a defensive tackle from Florida State. Hear that PQ?
Typical first round signing bonuses are around 6 million. That right, six million. He's 22 years old. Not bad for a kid.



This is inside Franklin Field on the day we ran.



This is the ouside of Franklin Field.



This is a part of the Univ of Pennsylvania campus adjacent to Franklin Field.



Here is my 4x100 team. The coach is third from the left. He set a new 100 meter World Record later in the day following the relay.
L to R:
Yours truly, Mark Hastings, Bill Collins, Charlie Allie



And finally, since I have masters track folks that read here I am showing them what the Penn gold medal looks like below. I find it a little peculiar. It appears to be Ben Franklin passing out laurel wreaths to 4 naked men. I'm the third guy in line. A little weird huh?



If you got this far you are truly my friend!
Monday, May 01, 2006

Rick's Home Pics of Philadelphia

As promised, some photos from Philadelphia, one of the oldest and most historic cities in America.

Independence Hall - The first U.S seat of government. The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution were deliberated and signed here.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Below is the room where the US Constitution was signed. You have probaly seen drawings of this room in history text books?



This is the City Hall.



Three guesses what this is! That's right PQ it's the Libery Bell! By the way, the bell is housed in an architectural masterpiece of a building.



Pic of me with a track groupie. No idea who she is but she insisted on a picture with me!



A runner behind me foolishly expends energy trying to catch up. (Me in front)

Sunshine On Our Wings

I’m composing this by hand as I ride American Airlines flight 1883 back to Dallas. I’m writing in a small notebook that I keep inside my running backpack. Inside the pages of the notebook are details of workouts; timed runs across various distances with specified rest periods of duration dependent on the intent of the workout.

The written information represents the details. A timed chronology of the planned preparation to run fast.

The flight tonight is only 2/3 full, a rarity these days. Outside the plane’s window the clouds that exist at 33,000 feet are being placed behind us at 550 miles per hour. It could be 30 miles per hour for all I am able to gauge by casual observation.

This marvel of transportation was also planned by reason and the calculation of numbers, just as the workouts have been planned. Before you think I am on task to discuss mechanical engineering let me assure I am headed another direction altogether.

As I told you in the comments section of the last post, my track team enjoyed the great feeling this weekend that comes with a first place finish at Penn Relays.

Success comes in many forms. How we define success is often the only true measure that can quantify its presence or absence in our individual lives.

More mystifying to me are the non-reasoned and unexpected signals that can precede our happiness and success. Numbers and reason are exceptional predictors of and foreshadowers of the truth in individual performance. But I have also known for a handful of years that non-reasoned forces can also foreshadow an event.

A case in point in my life came 3 years ago in the Denver Airport. I was catching a connecting flight to Boise, Idaho for the indoor national championships track meet.

As I passed under a skylight a warm beam of sunlight seared through the glass overhead, spreading across my chest and face in a veritable warm hug of good omen. It was powerful enough to make me smile and mentally record the circumstances. I performed at a personal best level in Boise that weekend.

Six months later I was in the Denver Airport once again catching a connecting flight, this time to Edmonton, Canada to compete in the World Masters Games. Without remembering the previous Denver incident I hurried down one of the moving walkways late for the flight to Edmonton. The same quick sun from above the skylight interrupted my thoughts with an identical penetrating warm bright light. This time I took it for a signal. I packed the memory and confidence of its reappearance in my pocket and hustled toward the airplane. Once again I established personal best times during the meet in Edmonton.

This past Thursday, as those of you that read here regularly know, I boarded a plane to Philadelphia concerned about performing my job with a relay team and wrestling with a bit of anxiety. We moved down the runway and eventually left the surface in that familiar high speed rush into the sky.

The nose of the plane was trained on its ascent, pushing passengers backward into their seats. I frowned and worried. Philadelphia and pressure awaited me on the other end of the flight. Ten minutes into the flight on a mid-afternoon over North Texas the pilot banked the wings on my side toward the sky as he maneuvered into his intended course.

I leaned left with the tilt and looked out the window at the plane’s uplifted wing. In the same quick instant it has taken each time, the wing caught the sun and flashed it into my eyes. I closed them at the blinding light. When I reopened them the sun was across my face and chest, the same warm omen. In another moment it was gone again. I smiled a very large smile. My mind became calm. My anxiety was ushered into the sunset.

This was the external signal I knew; an old friend paying another visit. It’s a friend as real as the numbers and reason inside this notebook. To me it is as real as the aerospace engineering of an airplane. It always comes when I am not searching for it or expecting it. And I have learned it means good things for me. And yes, there are times it does not come at all.

I don’t really understand it. Perhaps I never will.

Nevertheless I will continue to hope and trust for my non-reasoned truth to come again.

We all need a little sunshine on our wings, do we not?

Penn Relays at Franklin Field, Philadelphia - 2006

I'll post some other photos of Philadelphia and the trip this week. For now, I'm going to bed!