Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

In the next year, plant your feet firmly on what has gone before, and start now to go boldly in the direction of your dreams.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Triathlete's Offseason Christmas Dream

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a spouse.
The tri-bikes were hung in the man cave with care,
In hopes that warm temperatures soon would be there.

Compression socks nestled all snug on my legs,
While visions of carbon wheels danced in my head.
And mamma in her yoga fleece, and I in my heat wrap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When in the garage there arose such a clatter,
I gingerly rose, groaning "What is the matter?"
Away to the man cave I limped like a flash,
Tore open the door and so too my road rash.

The lamp on the carbon equipment did glow
For swim, bike and run it all stood in a row.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a strength coach, with kettle bell, stop watch and snear.

With a Serbian accent so deep and so thick ,
I knew in a moment it must be Coach Mik.
More rapid than eagles his orders they came,
And he taunted, and shouted, and called me mean names!

note: this is the real Coach Miki

"Jor back and jor arms, and jor core aa-r-r-r-r like children,
Jorr booty and stomach aa-r-r-r-r like pregnant women!
To the top of the bar! Pullups! Weight vest and all!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

Like tifosi that before the pro peleton fly,
When they meet with the Pyranees, mount to the sky.
So up to the chin bar, my courses I flew,
With the vest full of weight, and Mik's kettlebells too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard in the room
The clanging and thudding of each heavy tool.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Right straight at me, Coach Mikilous came with a bound.

He was dressed all in black, from his head to his foot,
From his shirt to his pants to his big combat boots.
The tools of his trade he had flung on his back,
And he looked like the Spetsnaz, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his smile was just scary!
His chuckle was frozen, his gaze made me wary!
His serious brow was all furrowed to show
That his plan was to see me PR, not go slow.

The stump of a pen he held tight in his teeth,
And training plans circled his head like a wreath.
He had a strong back, and a flat, washboard belly,
That's nothing resembling a bowlful of jelly!

He was wiry and lean, a right hardy old Serb,
And I gulped when I saw him, and knew that he heard!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had something to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Wrote down all the programs, then turned with a jerk.
And laughing once more at my weakness and woes,
And giving a nod, from the man cave he road!

We sprang to our bikes, as he blasted his whistle,
And away we both flew like a Serbian missle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he rode out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It Ain't Over . . .

Those of you who have been here awhile will recall back in April when a so-called law enforcement officer tried to bully me off the road. I stood my ground, complained to his superior, kept insisting on a proper response, received a back-dated ticket, got picked up in some papers and blogs, and beat the ticket in court.

But still, the officer is just as ignorant of the traffic laws and the rights of cyclists today as he was in April. Even more, he's suffered no adverse consequence, even to his pride, as a result of some abominable behavior. Anyone but a lawyer might have been too frightened of the system to do anything about it, and he'll doubtless keep on acting like an ass unless there is a price to be paid.

So, I have long intended to write the department and the officers involved another letter as a prelude to deciding whether to seek some type of sanction. But we had that whole "hurricane," natural disaster thingy, so I it seemed only sporting to let them deal with important stuff like that.

But now, just in time for the holidays, I got my final letter out. Set out on my law firm letterhead, it reads:

Constable Hill, Chief Deputy Constable Wood, and Deputy Constable Williams:

In the event you do not yet know, the District Attorney dismissed the traffic citation that Deputy Williams improperly backdated to April 19, as there was no legal basis for the citation nor for the manner in which Deputy Constable Williams acted on April 19.

On April 19, Deputy Williams executed an unsafe pass, intentionally tried to intimidate me with his vehicle, cut me off and then stopped in front of me, based upon his demand that I ride on the shoulder of FM149. Under Texas law, however, a cyclist is never required to ride on the shoulder, let alone the uneven two foot shoulder that exists on FM149. On the contrary, a cyclist is entitled to use the roadways, just like any other vehicle, unless some provision of the Transportation Code alters that right. Tex. Transp. Code § 551.101. Here there is no such provision.

The provision on which Deputy Constable Williams relied in his backdated citation requires cyclists to ride as near as practicable to the right edge of the roadway. Tex. Transp. Code. § 551.103(a). “Roadway,” however, is a defined term in the Transportation Code, and it does not include “the berm or shoulder.” Tex. Transp. Code § 541.302. Thus, cyclists are entitled to use the Roadway—the lane in which motorized vehicles travel. They may also use the shoulder, but are not required to do so.

The law also provides that a cyclist may take the lane when (as here) it is less than 14 feet wide, or it is not safe to share the lane with a car. Tex. Transp. Code § 551.103(a)(4). The lanes on FM149 are only 11 feet wide; thus, the law I was charged with violating does not even apply.
When a cyclist takes the lane as he or she is entitled to do, it is the responsibility of automobile traffic, including constables in pickup trucks, to wait for safe clearance to pass. Deputy Constable Williams clearly did not do so.

Even assuming I had violated the law, there is no set of facts that could have made Deputy Williams’ conduct on April 19 appropriate. He intentionally used his vehicle as a direct threat to my safety, and he fully intended and hoped that he would frighten me. That is not a traffic stop; that is a felony. His abusive and bullying attitude after I stood my ground is likewise not the type of conduct civilized societies tolerate. A bully with a badge is still only a bully. Indeed, a police officer in New York City has recently been indicted for assaulting a cyclist on the roadway.

This is your final opportunity to do the right thing. The Constable’s Office and Deputy Williams will apologize in writing, without equivocation and commit to enforcing the traffic laws as I have set them out. If so, I will excuse the whole affair. Absent that, I will pursue whatever remedies I feel are appropriate for Deputy Williams’ actions. You have 30 days.

Very Truly Yours,


Frankly, I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Need A Vacation

"Listen to your body."

That's what they always say. Of course, if we listened to our bodies, we would never run a lick, let alone race, because running and racing cannot be accomplished without ignoring discomfort. A certain amount of "mind over matter" is the cost of admission.

But yesterday, my body said, "enough with the running, already." Fatigue and aches that could be ignored suddenly turned into acute dysaesthesia of the distal tibialis anterior.

For all those readers who are not Iron Jane, M.D., the meaning, in plain English, roughly translates as follows:

The lower outside part of my shin hurt like a MoFo.

Suddenly, 18 miles in to a planned 20+ miler, the wheels came off: sharp pain associated with landing and toe-ing off. I walked, tried again, and again it happened. So, I walked it in.

It hurt all afternoon when I walked or flexed my foot, then without explanation it completely disappeared.

WTF? Anybody know an injury that hurts like a MoFo and then just evaporates? But for the "disappearing pain" it sounds like shin splints. But who gets shin splints after completing 4 marathons and two Ironmans? Honestly. Isn't that the injury you get as a beginner?

**Insert healthy dose of overinflated, fitter-than-thou ego here**

Could it be that I've run a bit too much on the horrible, hard, uneven surfaces of the marathon course?

Could it be that my program needed a bit more in the way of recovery for a "man my age?"

Could it be that I need some more padding and arch support for my freakishly high arches?

Could it be that when you switch from triathlon to marathon training, there's just SO MUCH MORE FREAKING RUNNING INVOLVED?

Could it be that I neglect my nutrition and recovery for simple running workouts in a way that I would never do while doing Ironman two-a-days?

Uhm. Yeah. Maybe.



Well, OK, yeah. Guilty.

But now, we are where we are. 33 days to the big dance and still more peak training to try to put hay in the barn. What to do?

Now that I feel ok, I am tempted to run ez this week and pick up where I left off next week. At the same time, if this is really an injury or a near injuyr, maybe a week of cross training is in order? I won't lose so much fitness that my goal is in doubt. Right?

And while I am obsessing in my self-absorbed little corner of hydrochondurbia, I should be just enjoying the life I still have. It is guaranteed beyond doubt that my mother will cite this article as precedent that I should not be running at all.

I hate reading stuff like that (or worse yet knowing people about whom such stuff is written). You can't help reading an article about a death at a marathon and without asking, "why?" And even as you ask it, you know there is no answer coming. Indeed, there are no words at all, and any attempt at an answer sounds cheap, sacharine, and empty. Why? I don't know. I can't know. But I do know this. Me and my mother--we both hurt when we get up out of bed in the morning, but mine's the good kind of hurt.

So. This week? I'll experiment with some ez running on controlled surfaces. If it hurts, time for cross-training. Beginning next week I try to get back on track with the program, substituting this week's harder distances for next week's easier ones. That said, no more running on uneven concrete. From here on in, it's crushed gravel Memorial Park, round and round like a gerble. No more marathon course for you.

Until . . . the day.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Running? Easy, right?

Sometimes you gotta take your victories where you find them.

And sometimes only three and a half minutes at a time.

I need a bit of recovery this week after a good, solid, marathon buildup. And, fortunately, I get a bit of recovery this week.

Only a bit.

Coach must seem to believe I can turn it up a notch from my last marathon effort, because today was scheduled to be 10 miles at an aerobic pace.

When I went out to do it, I could still feel last week in my legs, including Sunday's 21 mile long run. The thought of 10 miles more was more than my wee, canine brain could handle. It immediately started looking for the emergency exit or the ejection switch.

But, notwithstanding the aching in the tired chassis, I rambled through one mile and settled on a plan to keep me from bailing: the Ipod Fartleck workout--a/k/a the I-Fart.

OK, admittedly we need to work on the name.

The basic plan is you only have to run hard for one song--about 3 and a half minutes on average--and then you get to ez jog.

For one song.

Then you have to run hard again.

It's a devilishly clever workout, because by the time you're looking for a way out, you're into the last chorus of the song, and you can make yourself hold out a little longer.

And when it's time to go again, you have enough in the tank you can actually go.

So, instead of running 10 miles, I "I-Farted" one song at a time until 10 miles were done.

Because the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Now for a nap.

Friday, December 05, 2008

I Kick Jason Bourne's Ass

This just in: Trigreyhound Kicks Jason Bourne's Ass.

It's true.

I can't deny it.

And it's not just because I'm takin' my girl on a tropical ,20th anniversary vacation to make hot, sweet lovin' with my new marathon-running-weight-lifter body.

As if Matt Damon could survive that comparison . . .

Nope. I just happened to notice a little blurb in Runners' World where Matt Damon ran a 10K as part of losing weight he gained for a role.

Gained for a role? Yeah, right. Me too. I ate all those Kolaches to play the role of middle aged office worker.

And a 10K? Just a 10K? Phhht. PUH-LEEEEZE. You should hardly call it a race if you're done before the morning coffee break. What? You just run 6 miles? Cute.

And get this. He ran it in just a few seconds shy of one hour. Fifty Nine minutes and forty some-odd seconds.

Phhhht. Is that what they call running in Hollywood?

Three years ago, I ran a 48 minute 10K PR. This year, at 42 years old instead of 39 years old, my 800 meter track workouts are now 15 to 20 seconds faster than they were the year of my marathon PR. Are you trying to tell me that deskbound, 42 year old Greyhound could finish the race, go out for a coffee and a shower before Jason Bourne saw the finishing line?

Matt, just have your people call my people and I'll arrange some coaching sessions--for running or anything else in the "man department" that you might need help with.

**I probably kick J-Lo's Ass in triathlon, too, which is a notable Kadunkadunk to be kicking. I'm just sayin'. **


**I really needed that little boost because I have one more super long run before some recovery, and I'm feeling like Punky Brewster could mop the floor with me right about now.***

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Iron Turkeys--A Thanksgiving Tale


Thankful for another year of good health and plenty, 7000 Pilgrims met in Houston to trot---before consuming mass quantities of calories and watching obese men fight over an oblong ball on their high definition television sets.


Some of the Pilgrims were trotting for the first time ever--even though they had a sore knee and probably felt pressured by the Iron Patriarchy to suck it up buttercup and do it anyway because she had done all the training before taking her freak fall with the blown out flip flop.


But the Pilgrims also had support from friends and family.


And, like the first Thanksgiving, the Native Americans participated with their Anglo friends.


At first the Anglos were concerned that the Native Americans might be hostile.


But the Native Americans were friendly and helped the Pilgrims with their race gear and timing chips and such---before running a 37 minute 10K.

Yeah, those Indians are fast and used to run distance for the local U.


And Superpounce ran across the line with Mrs. Pilgrim just like it was an Ironman. Pilgrim ran all the way, all 5ks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Smelling History

I baked a pie with a pioneer tonight.

Sallie Taylor, later Sallie Dyer, was born in the Oklahoma Territory in 1900, seven years before the Oklahoma Territory and the Indian Territory became the State of Oklahoma. Her folks came to Oklahoma in a wagon, and they settled in the country of southern Oklahoma County. (A park in south Oklahoma City bears the family name to this day.)

Sallie was 66 when I was born, and married to one of 8 brothers in the Dyer family. She had a large, extended family around her and life was good. But you would not have seen that coming from her early life experiences. After her mother died during Sallie's childhood, she worked in the local box factory, even as a child. Sallie then eloped with Melvin Dyer, took the train to the State Fair and got married at the age of 15--married into a family where chopping cotton and choking dust in the Oklahoma sun was daily fare. Credit crisis? Hard times? Yeah. right.

The Dyers came to Moore, Oklahoma long before there was an Oklahoma. They spent their first winter in a wagon by a creek south of town and nearly froze or died of sickness. The wind whips over there from the interstate and the strip center today, across a small grave yard with tombstones bearing the Dyer name. Back then, the wind just whipped over from the panhandle, or from Canada.

Sallie didn't know how to cook or sew or any other skill required of an agricultural woman in 1915--her widower father was in no position to teach her. But she was taken in by the rough and tumble Dyer family with their 8 sons. It fell to Grandma Dyer to teach her how to cook, and it fell to the boys, all 8 of them, to tease her when things didn't go right. Sometimes, all it took was, "that ain't how ma done it," to start the tears flowing.

But Grandma Dyer was a good teacher. "That's all right. You'll do better next time."

And she did.

Among the things Grandma Dyer taught her was how to make an apple pie. Nothing fancy. Still, how could it not be good with such basic things as apples, sugar, cinnamon, and butter.

But if Grandma Dyer didn't teach you, how would you know that Jonathan apples make the best pies?

And how much sugar is enough for the filling? Just about that much right there.

And don't forget to put a smidge of flour in with the apples and sugar so the juice won't be too soupy. Now add some cinnamon.

How much? You'll know--if Grandma Dyer taught you.

And Grandma Dyer taught her that the top crust sticks down better if you wet the edges with water.

And you have to secretly dollop some butter on top of the apples before you put on the top.

Then, you use your fingers--just so--to crimp the pie crusts together.

But the real secret is the top crust. If you want it to be perfect, give it a light coating of milk just before you put it in the oven and sprinkle it with sugar and cinnamon.

That's the way Grandma Dyer did it.

I never knew her, but she taught Sallie. Sallie, my great grandmother, taught me. She also taught her daughter and her grand daughters. When Sallie's daughter became too infirm to cook, Sallie's son in law, my grandfather, even made pies this way.

And they smelled just the way my house does now. I remember it.

I remember them.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Is This Thing Still On?

Well, it's been a quiet week in Spring, Texas, my home town, out on the edge of the megalopolis. More like two weeks actually. A colleague, one of the few who knows that I blog, mentioned to me this morning that it had been two weeks since I blogged.

Let me explain.

No, let me sum up.

I've been working. Real work. All day. Getting ready for a court session that has now been successfully accomplished. It would seem that when everyone else is watching their economy go sideways, the vampire guild of litigation lawyers has reason to celebrate.

Secondly, I have lost a little of my blogging mojo. I'm running and training for a marathon, but no triathlon or Ironman happenings in my life right now. So, I'm feeling a bit uninspired. But since I'm a total comment ho', I want to write stuff that you want to read. This is where you come in.

I'll just ask you. What do you want to read? What do you want me to write about? What would you ask if we were sitting across the table on a Friday evening with a pitcher of Shiner Bock between us and no limit on the time we had to kill?

Sound off, and for goodness sake give me something to write about.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

[Don't] Be Sensible

Dad showing Superpounce how not to be sensible.

I'm a sensible person. To a fault. And I come from a long line of sensible people

Often times, that's good. We act like grownups. We're responsible. We live within our means. We are the ones carrying zero credit card balances in the worst credit crisis in history. We are the ones driving 10 year old cars on which we researched the safety rating and reviews in consumer reports. Convertibles need not apply.

But is there too much of a good thing? People like us were born old. We forgot how to play or played only carefully. We avoided some of the tragedies that befell our contemporaries in college, but we also never howled at the moon.

And somewhere along the line you wake up realizing that you didn't dream all night, or all day the day before. And you're a sensible taxpayer with a sensible job in a sensible suburb with a sensible sedan. No fault in that. But . . .

But what child lies on his or her back, looks up into the night sky, and dreams of being a dentist? Or an accountant? Or a lawyer? Not that there's anything wrong with that. But when do we give up being firemen or astronauts or race car drivers or ballerinas or princesses? And why do we have to? Because they're not sensible.

At one point in my life, I was a musician. I studied with the finest teachers, played with the finest conductors, gave concerts in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami. I had, at one time, dreamed of being in the Chicago Symphony, the orchestra my heroes. Then, I got sensible. The odds were against it. It was a long shot. The more likely outcome was working in a non-living-wage orchestra and getting locked out by a labor dispute and selling insurance instead. So, I got sensible, and went to law school, did well, got a good job . . . . all in the family tradition.

Not a family tradition of practicing law, but a tradition of sensibility, of dreams deferred. I am the offspring of a sensible girl from Oklahoma who, after soloing with the Oklahoma City Symphony in the 1950s, turned down the opportunity, offered by the guest conductor, to study at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Sensible girls did not do such things in the 1950s. They went to college, if at all, close to home, where they could find a husband and raise families. And she did. And it was good and sensible.

But was it great?

Sometimes, sensible people explode. They wake up in the suburbs and start dreaming again. Potentially those crazy dreams are destructive and you see sensible people "overcompensating" with expensive red convertibles or betraying the ones who depend upon them. Thankfully, not here. By God's grace alone, I'm still more sensible than that. I haven't exploded, and hope that I don't.

Other times, we simply shrug off the heavy load under which we were sagging. We find ourselves running in the dark, cool breeze before sunup while the sensible people are still asleep. While they sleep, we are dreaming of what might be, hours and minutes and seconds and distances, of limits and whether they are real. We think crazy thoughts about just how fast we might run for three hours, about swimming and biking and running all day. And this from lawyers and accountants and fully grown dentists "competing for the ultimate prize." Crazy. But sometimes good crazy.

Because life can't be caged. Because life needs a certain amount of craziness and creativity. It is conquest. It is adventure. Otherwise, it's not really life. It's just a couch. And it's beige.

I was thinking on these things Monday morning as I ran, and I thought about Superpounce, and I smiled. Her dolls and stuffed animals are turning up with new outfits that she designed and sewed herself. She made them on the sewing machine she just acquired, the one on which she is to begin sewing lessons on which she insisted (because neither I nor Mrs. Greyhound can sew). She is taking sewing lessons because she wants to be a fashion designer, and we told her she would have to learn how to sew. So she is. And a couple of weeks ago, at age 11, she was searching out colleges on the internet at which she could study fashion design. And she wants to take French. And she wants to go to Paris. And the colors in her world are alive.

It reminded me of these lines (from an old commercial, no less) that I heard on a fantastic fitness podcast:

Here’s to the crazy ones.

The misfits.
The rebels.
The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.

They invent. They imagine. They heal.
They explore. They create. They inspire.
They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.
How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written?

Superpounce dreams big. God forbid that I ever conciously or unconciously communicate to her that she ought to be sensible. I'd rather catch her in my arms after she flies too close to the sun.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different

"Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct."
Thomas Jefferson

I am prescient.

Yes, it's true. I can see the future.

I will not predict who will win today's contest. That's child's play. I will look far down the corridors of time and tell you what will happen years from now.

1. The deficit will be enormous.
2. The chosen candidate will fall short of the exorbitant promises made to court his constituents.
3. The chosen candidate will act to preserve his own personal power.
4. The people will eventually run the rascals out of town on a rail.
5. Oh, and we'll be militarily engaged in the middle east and will not have energy independence.

How can I be so certain? Because none of these things depend upon who wins the legislative or executive contests. It's life and human nature, and there are some things that just won't bend to politics. Reality.

But, the good thing about life is that it's stubborn. It goes on. And it will take whatever you want to fill it with. Or, it can just sit there empty and unused like a sports car in the garage. And it does not depend upon "leaders" or parties or permission. It just is. It depends on you. And often it's better to ask forgiveness than to beg permission.

So, don't be bummed if your guy loses. And don't get too intoxicated if your guy wins, only to suffer the hangover in two years when you find out he's "just like all the rest of them." Do your duty today by voting your conscience, and then


Give a little whistle, ride your bike, hug your kids or your dog or your spouse. Live big. Love recklessly. And giggle.

I'm Greyhound, and I approve this message.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Power Control

The hearts of Men are easily corrupted. And the Ring of Power has a will of its own.

But something happened then the Ring did not intend . . . It was picked up by the most unlikely creature imaginable . . . A Hobbit . . . Bilbo Baggins of the Shire.

For the time will soon come when Hobbits will shape the fortunes of all.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Disinfecting Sunlight for the Cynical Mind

Well, it's been a quiet week in Spring, Texas, my home town, out on the edge of the Megalopolis. The weather has been quite cool, by Texas standards. The 50 degree temps were cool enough to wear long sleeves for the first 10 minutes of my run this morning, although I did notice what must have been a native Texan in Capri length tights, long sleeves, running vest, gloves and ear warmers. My Minnesota friends would, no doubt, have been mystified by this weak constitution indicating an obvious defect in character.

The weather signals that The Day is quickly approaching. The Day is when we in this pluralistic collective will take part in our one common sacrament--casting our votes.

Well, except if you participate in early voting.

Which I do.

Because I don't like to wait in line.

Even for food.

Especially for food.

Especially if that food is a crap sandwich with a side of crap.

Which is all you get to vote for in this or any year.

I guess I better warn you now that if you are a Democrat, or if you are a Republican, and if you think your ideology or party is "The Answer" to the world's problems, you are not going to like this post. You might want to exit now.

**whistling to myself**

Still here?

OK. Here's the deal. I drove by my early polling station three times on two different days before finally concluding that the line out the door was never going to be any shorter--that I would have to stand in line with "the people" in order to cast my ballot. So, I finally did. I know this makes me a really bad person, especially given all those who have suffered persecution and imprisonment and even death for the right to vote. The least I could do is stand in a wee bit of a line, right?

Yeah, I know. And I did.

But I didn't like it much. And because of that, I'm a bad person.

But it gets worse. I'm not even convinced that democracy is intended to enable a society to make the "right" choices for what is best for it. Basically, you get to vote if you can fog a mirror, whether or not you've studied the issues and the candidates. Your vote counts the same if you're a PhD in public policy from Harvard or if you need adult supervision before you can work the voting machine. Knowing this, both the political parties try to buy votes of the uncommitted rabble in the middle by promising goodies that our grandchildren's grandchildren will never pay for, or by playing on fears calculated to get a vote, or at least to keep them from voting for "that guy," even if it means staying home.

This is what it's come to? We can do no better than the worst of the worst--classless and deceptive rhetorical technique that is unworthy of a mediocre, law school mock trial team? Lee Atwater and James Carville and Karl Rove alike would have all gotten their asses canned if they worked on my team. I see better advocacy from the least competent lawyers in town. Half as bad would get any of my associates fired and would permanently injure any good lawyer's credibility with the court. Yet, year after year, the same parties and the same candidates and the same consultants do the same things without being held accountable.

The genius of the our system is not that we make good choices with our collective wisdom, but that we transition power regularly enough through this Rube Goldberg, fear-mongering, pork-barrel, sausage making device that we keep either party from becoming a tyranny. We don't drive down the road so much as we keep weaving from ditch to ditch, two four year olds fighting over the steering column, most of the time moving forward.

So, yeah. I have been dark and poisoned in the mind for much of the last week as the cesspool of political jousting has been eaten up and spewed out the back end of the 24 hour news cycle.

Until tonight.

During my drive home, the "mellow" playlist on my Ipod started with James Taylor and soon I found myself singing with the John Denver songs that followed. Sweet, simple, naive even. But singing. Then the words--about children:

Though the cities start to crumble,
And the towers fall around us,
The sun is slowly fading, and it's colder than the sea,
It is written, "from the desert to the mountains they shall lead us."
By the hand and by the heart, they will comfort you and me.
In their innocence and trusting, they will teach us to be free.

For the children and the flowers are my sisters and my brothers.
Their laughter and their loveliness could clear a cloudy day.
And the song that I am singing, is a prayer to nonbelievers.
Come and stand beside us,
we can find a better way.

And I ate dinner at home. And it was better there.

And that's the news from Spring, Texas, where all the food is fast, all the schools are exemplary, and all the commutes are below average.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Don't They Have A Pill For This?

Well, it's been a quiet week in Spring, Texas, my home town, out on the edge of the megalopolis. Autumnal temperatures -- shivering dang near 50 degrees -- have descended upon the Gulf Coast, and that can only mean one thing:

Marathon training is proceeding in earnest.

I, myself, have been proceeding in earnest, and in so doing I am coming to the conclusion that endurance sport is anti-American. How could I possibly claim this? What am I? Some kind of communist? Some Euro-Kenyan wannabe? Well, let me explain.

No, let me sum up.

If you turn on the radio or the TV or open any magazine, you will be confronted with someone trying to convince you that you can have something for nothing--or at least something without effort:

  • You can have a sexy core and abs of steel if you buy this machine and work out just 20 minutes a day, three times a week.
  • You can be rid of the chronic disease that your lifestyle gave you if you just take this pill.
  • You can have babes-a-plenty if you use this mouthwash or body spray.
  • You can be rich without working.
  • You can be healthy and happy and blessed if you buy this preacher's book.
  • You don't have to change your life and quit eating yourself to death; you won't be obese any more if you take "small steps."

Endurance sport, however, is the opposite. For all the doping in sport, there is no "fast pill." You have to work hard. You have to hurt. Small steps won't do. If you want to run fast, you have to run fast. If you want to run far, you have to run far. If you want to race well, you have to race. There is no easy way. There is no victory on credit. You have to pay now. You get what you settle for, and you have to participate in your own rescue.

Dang, that'll never sell. That's not the American way. What about buy now and pay later? Yeah, let me know how that's working out for you.

**End of rant--I promise**

So, toting a history of wimpy racing, I've been trying to run fast, and far, and race this fall. Speed workouts with real runners like Scuba Steve and Coach T. Long runs without lollygagging. Training on the marathon course. Running the hills.

Today was the first in a series of warmup races--The Houston Half Marathon--three loops on a fairly brutal, rolling course. The computer simulators said that if I want to run a 3:40:00 marathon, I should do this half-marathon in 1:46:27, which to you and me, kids, is 8:07 pace. I used to do Yasso 800s at 8:00 pace. My previous best in a half was 1:56 -- although I was not going all out and it was not anything like a near death experience. My first half put me in bed for the whole day and probably was 2:30.

On paper, I ought to be able to run it, but they don't run the races on paper. They run them for real and the numbers don't lie:

Mile 1 8:32
Mile2 8:15
Mile 3 8:10
Mile 4 8:04
Mile 5 8:07
Mile 6 7:49
Mile 7 8:11
Mile 8 8:01
Mile 9 8:07
Mile 10 7:43
Mile 11 8:01
Mile 12 7:59
Mile 13 8:01
.23 (yes the course was long)

Total: 1:46:48
Avg. Pace: 8:04
Avg. HR: 155
Max Pace: 6:33
Max HR: 173

Of Course, Carrie was probably running her whole marathon today at that pace. I wanna be her when I grow up.

There may not be a pill for this, but there is a prescription. I did cheat only a little bit. I kind of had a pacer--except she kept running away from he while I thought I was going to puke. Coach T was kind enough to haul herself out of bed early this morning and join me for the third lap only. She was very mean to me, called me "old man" a lot, and nearly ripped my lungs out during mile 10. Thanks for that.

If I had managed to get through the water stops instead of wussing out, or if I had just puked and got on with it, the last miles would have been 7:50s. That's what Coach Garmin said I was running most of the time. I wish I could have run faster to make it work Coach T's time. It really was above and beyond the call to get up at 0500 after baby sitting well past midnight last night. I owe her.

So, imagine that. If you practice running fast, you learn how to run fast. So, supposdly I could run a 3:40 marathon on a course much flatter than half course I just ran. But that's not for another 80 days or so.

Hmmmmmmm. I wonder if I can hit 3:3?------

Especially without that pesky swimming and biking warmup.

Monday, October 20, 2008

You May Call Me, "Coach"

Mrs. Greyhound and I have been getting after it. Hot and sweaty, groaning, even little screams. She's even complaining that she's having trouble walking right. 'Cause that's how I roll.

I mean personal training of course. What did you think I was talking about? Perverts.

Mrs. Greyhound has been following a "Couch to 5K" running program with the goal that all of us will do a Turkey Trot around Thanksgiving time. I am so proud. This has me totally stoaked and I am so looking forward to running it with her, stride by stride. But in the true Greyhound spirit, she's been taking it up a level. On days when she doesn't have running to do, she's been walking and doing strength training.

She's had a routine developed by Maria Gratia, but frankly, Mrs. Greyhound (like me) isn't a big fan of strength training. It can be boring if you haven't got a trainer to work with, and Maria Gratia is far too busy and too far away to work with Mrs. Greyhound three times a week.

So Mrs. Greyhound asked me.

***Insert Evil Laughter Here****

After her last two walking sessions, I conducted (at her request) a 30 minute circuit of core and strength training with some dumbells, medicine balls, Swiss ball, and body weight exercises. I think she complains more with me than she does with Maria Gratia; but then, I probably take less guff than Maria Gratia.

But she won't call me, "coach," and there's probably no double entendre when Maria Gratia tells her to "go down" on her lunges.

We've done it twice.

Exercised that is.

The rest is none of your business, but I will say that I'm not upset that my wife is sleeping with her personal trainer.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Marathon Training Is Simple, Right?

(A depiction of Pheidippides, the first marathoner, announcing the Athenians' victory moments before his death. I wonder if I'd run faster in his race day attire. Perhaps we submit Greyhound's Race Day Kit to a vote.)

I once saw a shirt, on, that had the swim, bike and run symbols along with the Ironman distance of 140.6 underneath them. The caption then read:

Oh, you ran a marathon?
That's cute.

So, this marathon training thing shouldn't be that hard for a "multiple Ironman finisher" like me, right? After all, marathon training is simple, right? You don't have to figure out how to fit in all that biking and swimming, right? You just run, right?

Uhm, right. Sure, marathon training is simple, but simple (as in basic) does not mean simple (as in easy).

It's basic. You run.

It's not easy. You run a lot. Some of it quite hard.

Always with the freaking running.

This week, with all the freaking running, has been like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna git. Today, was tight calves and two miles required to get rolling. Yesterday was running in the humid sun, then the cold rain, and then in the humid sun again, all in 30 minutes. But those weren't the "key" sessions.

Saturday was an 18 mile long run right in the zone that felt great, notwithstanding the heat.

Tuesday was a hard track workout--Yasso 800s. This is where the rubber sole meets the road, and it has me wondering what my goal should be.

A reasonable goal for me would be to shave 10 or so minutes off my marathon PR, running somewhere between 3:40:00 and 3:45:00. This would mean running Yasso 800s at 3 minutes and 40 to 45 seconds, six of them this week, building to 10 before race day. So I warm up at the track, bemoaning the stinking heat and humidity, and take off for my first repeat. I ran it strong, but not crazy fast, and hit the lap button at 800 meters. **blip**

The numbers stared me in the face:


**Blink** **Blink**

OK, wait. There's no way I can run a marathon quicker than 3:30, let alone in 3:16. There must be something wrong. That is an abberation. I'll never hold that pace. You are not a sub-8-minute pace marathoner.

Time for repeat number two. Hit the lap button **blip**


OK, stop. You wussed out on that one. WTF? Why not run fast? If not you, who? If not now, when? Why are you such a mental midget? HTFU. Nothing bad is going to happen if you can't finish this track workout. You're only going to hurt. You're not going to die.

Time for repeat number three. Hit the lap button **blip**


That's more like it. Breathe, Kimosabe. Feel that burning in your lungs and sides, that tightness in your hamstrings? Feel that bile in your throat? That's weakness, sloth and slowness leaving the body.

Time for repeat number four. Hit the lap button **blip**


I think I'm going to thow up. I can't do two more like that surely. Shut up, pansy. You just have to do one rep at a time, a few meters at a time. Don't do the whole workout at once. Run one straight and one curve at a time. Hold form. Go hard and quit complaining.

Time for repeat number five. Hit the lap button **blip**


If I stop now, I've done most of the workout.
'I can make up for it later.
This is good enough.

There is no "good enough." There is either complete or incomplete. There is either success or failure. You need to quit succeeding by redifining the goals downward. Don't think. Just run. Turn off your brain. Just go.

Time for repeat number six. I hit the start button and took off, trying to just see the portion of the track just in front of me. As with the previous laps, my breathing became labored sooner and sooner into each succeeding repetition. Eventually, there was no rhythm between my breathing and my strides. Without any rhythm at all, I was just taking in the maximum amount oxygen I could possibly process, with spit and sweat slinging off of me like a horse that had been run too hard. I struggled to hold some assemblance of form and keep my feet flickling lightly off the surface of the track. On the back stretch of the last lap, the pain was everywhere---feet, hamstrings, shoulders--it even felt like something had my groin in a vise. My past neck injury was tight, my shoulder and right hand went numb. The last turn. Last 100 meters of the day.

Hit the lap button **blip**


There is nothing like a session on the track to make you wonder who you are. Am I a middle of the pack runner, or do I just have a middle of the pack runner living in my brain? A man my age can only qualify for Boston by posting a 3:20:00. That's impossible for me, right?

Is it? Really? Maybe impossible for this year, but . . . maybe?

And then, this. Somehow this is all related to me. I'm not sure just how. This . . . a "man my age." I remember very clearly when my father was "a man my age." It was yesterday. I went to sleep, and then I was the same age my dad was.

Then, yesterday, my father received his first prescription for Alzheimer's medication. He's not quite 70 years old, and he's not nearly to the point of suffering disabling dementia, but still. Alzheimer's medication. His father before him had dementia. My dad will probably have it. I see the signs. I have seen them for a decade. Will I wake up figuratively "tomorrow" and have the same problems?

If I lose my mental sharpness, who would I be and who would I become when for so long, I have defined myself by my brainpower. Literally, my childhood nicknames were "Dr. Spock" and more usually, simply "The Brain." And these were my friends who called me "The Brain." God only knows what the jocks called me. I now make my living, and quite a good one, simply by thinking better than my competition.

When that is who you are, who do you become when the brain no longer works right? More imporantly, when that is who you are, what do you really want to be right now? How do you spend the next 27 years if you think you might lose your mind? How do you spend today? What are you running away from? What are you running toward?

Hit the lap button **blip**

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Are You Trying To Make My Head Explode?

It is now less than 100 days to the running of the Houston Marathon--the next "A" race at which part of me wants to set a new marathon PR. That part of me is getting up, hitting the streets, completing the workouts, and seeing progress. That part of me ran 18 miles yesterday at an OK long run pace and finished strong on the rolling last miles of the marathon course.

But see, there's this other part of me that seems to think that it's OK to get a B+ on workout compliance, that it's acceptable to obtain a B+ on tightening up the dietary standards and shed that extra bit of gelatinous goo and get back into "fighting shape," that it's really nobody's business whether I log my workouts, or whether I am strictly hitting my splits, that "good enough" is good enough.

Good enough is NOT good enough, mister. This little rant is to the lazy person inside me:

I know I'm supposed to be Blogger Give-A-Crap, but you want to know the God's honest truth? I am what I eat, and I clearly went out and devoured a 9-minute-mile, dumpy, 42 year old lawyer--not an Iron Greyhound.

As of now, I'm in training. I am not just doing training, as I have been all along. I am "IN" TRAINING. I will eat real food, not processed, food-like substances, mostly plants, and not too much. No more Scotch. No more beer. Lunches to be taken to work. Healthy snacks. Workouts to be logged. Splits to be hit.

We are going south of 3:53:41--maybe way south. No more Mr. Nice Guy. Sweat the small stuff. It's time to get with it.


Monday, October 06, 2008

On Being 42

**READER ADVISORY--I appreciated all the birthday wishes today, but I thought this graph was funny and thought you might as well. But look out. I'm grumpy and whiny and I haven't a right to be. So read on at your own risk. ***

Because I am 42, my hands are hurting as I type this. My running knees and swimming shoulders are fine, but my hands have the same arthritis my mom has, and it's getting to be that time. My knuckles are swollen so that I can't get my wedding ring off (good) or on (bad). I type for a living, so hand pain is to be my lot in life.

Or maybe it was the online Scrabble. I'm not giving that up even if they amputate.

Because I am 42 (and have been doing endurance sports for several years), I can wear my wedding ring when my knuckles aren't too swollen. When I was 35, I couldn't wear it because my fingers were too fat. Now, my fingers are just right, when my knuckles aren't all out of control.

Because I am 42, my life is a bit like the wonderful shortbread cookie I had to top off my lunch today. I know it must have been delicious, because I've had the experience before. But I don't have any memory of eating it. Why don't I remember living it more? Wasn't it good? Didn't I think so at the time? Why didn't I notice the good things when they were happening?

Because I am 42, I notice the doddering, middle aged men in the central business district, with their halting steps, their tentative faces, their resigned-to-life-posture, their flabby bellies, and their man boobs. Statistically, several of them will have a heart attack before this time next year. Several of them will probably die, of that or something else. A couple of them look like they could take a fall. They take cholesterol drugs, blood pressure medication, antidepressants, insulin, and erectile dysfunction medications. They are basically my age. Some don't know that their lives are almost over, and they've spent them in offices, just like mine. This horrifies me.

Because I am 42, the first steps I take in the morning are bent over and painful, and the more in shape I get, the more crippled I seem to feel getting out of bed. Because I am not resigned-to-life, I feel this feeling every morning at 0400 on my way to working out.

Because I am 42, my inner George Clooney wants to be a "silver fox." I'm no six footer, but I'm reasonably trim, somewhat muscular, salt and pepper hair, with a certain "distinguished" look, so I've been told. But then my inner Heathcliff Huxtable reminds me that George is a fantasy, and Heathcliff is reality. I am no silver fox or wild predator. I am domesticated. Indeed, I'm not only domesticated, I'm a Golden Retriever with social anxiety disorder.

But I still crave wildness.

And because I am 42, part of me wishes I was 22, with my 22 year old girlfriend, enjoying a wild freedom that I imagine is the life of my younger friends.

Except I wish I had a 42 year old law partner's pay check, and not that of a recent music graduate. And I also remember that I was already old at 22, sort of Bob Dole without wrinkles. I was cranky and conservative and responsible beyond my years, never closed down the bar, always acted responsibly, always in bed on time, and never hung over for rehearsal.

And I kind of regret it. It seems too late now.

But because I am 42, I see danger in wildness. I have a daughter who's of an age that things are starting to appear in her room that have never appeared before. Cosmetics. Lip gloss. Articles of clothing ostensibly meant to lift or support objects that are not even there yet. And I'm afraid. I'm not ready for this yet. She was 4 yesterday, and I was 35. And I read the Chronicles of Narnia out loud. And I want that back.

But I can't have it.

But because I am 42, I am not sitting still or going quietly. I am going to PR in the marathon in January. And, in April, I am going to ride from Houston to Austin on my bike for the fourth year in a row. And I am going to PR my Ironman triathlon in November 2009. I am going to kick my own 35 year old ass, and stuff any regrets down the throat of Father Time.

Because I am 42, I have some idea how fast this next year can go. And I want to fill it. Who's with me?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Confessing Runner

There's a new post here on Confessing Runner.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Confessing Runner

For anyone interested, there is a new post here on Confessing Runner. Just in time for your long run.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


F-ING CENTERPOINT, as it shall evermore be called here, obviously knew better than to tangle with my poison pen---er, word processor, because only a few hours after my post yesterday, the power came on in our house, and we were the first in our neighborhood to receive it.

Shortly thereafter, Comcast noticed I was giving it the stink eye, and our internet and cable service sprang back to life.

Don't mess with the big dog.

Hopefully, I'm not given to unnecessary whining, but I don't think the criticism of F-ing Centerpoint is unwarranted. Although they had a big job to do, restoring power in the fourth largest city in the country, there is every indication that it could have and should have done it much better.

Crews from other parts of the country were shaking their heads at F-ing Centerpoint's disorganized approach and mocking F-ing Centerpoint's crappy infrastructure and grid design. F-ing Centerpoint left the impression that it did not know what it was doing simply by handing out contradictory information. Yesterday for example, their website had four different sets of figures concerning how many customers in our area were without power or when substantial restoration could be expected. All on one website. And just up the road, Entergy had 97% of its customers restored (including in the Woodlands, i.e., with TREES) many days earlier simply through the expedient of advance planning to have a much higher ratio of workers to restoration jobs. Some of those extra workers have now been released to F-ing Centerpoint.

Kind of makes you want to be independent of the grid. Solar panels and windmills anyone?

Anyway, there was much rejoicing last night. Mrs. Greyhound went to the grocery store and purchased the bare necessities--frozen pizza, popsicles, and four bottles of merlot.

Yeah, four. Don't judge.

We packed the generator to the garage, cranked down the ac, and it actually got so cold we had to pull up the blanket. Good times.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Signs of the Apocalypse--Survival in Suburbia

Well, it’s been a quiet week in Spring, Texas, my home town, out on the edge of the Megalopolis. The whether started out a warm and humid Indian Summer, and later there was delightful, dry and cool, fall weather. Oh, and in between there was a natural disaster that caused a billion dollars of damage and still has over a million people without electric power.

So, it was sort of like a judgment day sandwich. A nice warm piece of summer bread on top, a hearty piece of autumn bread on the bottom, all surrounding a heaping serving of nature’s wrath.

Mmmmmm. Tasty.

Now, 11 days on, with no air conditioning in sight, the daytime temperatures are in the upper 80s with humidity to match. Our little corner of suburbia has become some anthropologist’s bizarre Petri dish.

Looking around the cul de sacs, an acute researcher could observe what happens when the suburbs return to the “state of nature,” that time before organized governments or society where the noble savage emerged from the forest and made a social compact with his brethren not to kill and eat each other in exchange for cooperation for mutual survival and the propagation of the species. So, too, the researcher could notice how these pre-societal family progenitors engage in behavior calculated to demonstrate their social dominance or mating potential.

Mostly this has to do with horsepower, and actually one has a sneaking suspicion that these displays have more to do with “compensating.” Just think “Hummer driver.” Read on and you’ll start to get the picture.

You see, when a McMansion becomes a dark, un-air-conditioned box with no workable electronics, one must fill the entertainment gap and maintain one’s social status in some fashion. Thus, the circle on which we live went from the silence after the storm through a crescendo of internal combustion engines. Now, there is a steady hum as generators.

But in this suburban, American, Petri dish, it hardly suffices to have a mini-generator merely to run the refrigerator, providing only the necessity of food to go along with water and shelter. No, once the social compact has been entered, and we have refrained from attempting to destroy our neighbors, we must nevertheless compete with them. Thus, the corpulent, cubicle dwellers of Magnolia Way have become overnight experts on the engineering limitations and features of power generators.

At minimum, an American, suburban generator must be capable of running the refrigerator, some fans, a couple lamps, and most importantly, the flat screen television, whose glow must and will be seen from the street--a beacon to principle that life depends not only on food, shelter and water, but also on entertainment. The cry might well go up, “Give me Leno, HBO and late night Skin-e-max or give me death.”

But the perceptive sociological observer would note that merely having a few lights on inside the house is insufficient plumage for certain of the species to establish their place within the social hierarchy. Who knows what type of generating capacity is necessary to have one’s house awash and ablaze in light sufficient to hold a party and crank up the music in apparent ignorance of the fact that your neighbors all have their windows open. Or maybe they wanted everyone to hear their music, hmmm? And is this a bigger statement of social dominance than pulling an RV into your driveway and living in air conditioned comfort, albeit in fewer square feet than the party house?

Of course, I grew up Baptist, Calvinistic and Puritanical before fundamentalism was cool. And folks like us are conspicuous in our plainness and proud of our humility. We believe in conspicuous non-consumption. We drive 10 year old Toyotas, even if we could afford new Hummers. We save our money and pay off our credit cards. We have no mortgage crisis, because we bought less house than the bank want to lend us money for. We buy suits off the rack, and used race wheels.

OK, maybe race wheels is a bad example.

Add to this that I descend from stock whose Native American progenitor refused to enroll with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and refused to take handouts lest he become beholden to the government and less human as a consequence. (True story. I come by my conservative nature genetically). We moved one step ahead of civilization for decades on end, living on the frontier and making our own way. We are the self-reliant few who made the Monroe doctrine a reality--conquering the prairies, taming the west, pushing America’s manifest destiny from sea to shining sea.

Yeah, that was us, recent Euro-trash immigrants. You can thank me later.

People like this have no need of assistance, government or otherwise, nor of creature comforts unnecessary to subsistence and survival. We can live for weeks on end in the dark, create fire with flint and steel, boil water, consume non-perishable food, and jeer in quiet, self-satisfaction at the softness of our pasty, suburban neighbors while gripping our firearms in the darkened recesses of our homes.

But did I mention that Mrs. Greyhound and ‘Pounce arrived home on Monday? And did I mention that our weather gods have once again reminded us that this is Houston, and so one must always be coated with a salty layer of slime while drops of sweat trickle down your backbone and over your belly? And did I mention that Mrs. and ‘Pounce spent one (only one) sticky night with no fans and no ac on Monday? And did I mention that, low these 12 days after the storm, F-ING CENTERPOINT has not managed to get the power restored in a neighborhood with very few downed trees and NO OVERHEAD POWER LINES? And did I mention that one of Mrs. Greyhound’s friend had her power restored, and no longer has need of the gigantic, ultra-smoothe, Subaru generator that powered essentials in three houses in their neighborhood?

Twenty-four hours after Mrs. Greyhound’s return, we had a giant, Subaru generator humming on our back porch. To my Native American forefathers, this, undoubtedly, is a sign of the apocalypse.

Gosh that fan felt good last night.

Well, that's the News from Spring, Texas, where all the schools are exemplary, all the food is fast, and all the commutes are below average.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Go here for some photos of the aftermath of the hurricane.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Journalistic Drinking Game

I have pictures and video that I still intend to put up on the hurricane blog when I have both time and a broadband connection. Currently I have one or the other--a broad band connection at work and no time, or time in the dark at home, but no internet connection at all. And not to put too fine a point on it, but all the best things to do when the power is out require a partner. Mine isn't here.

OK, TMI. Back to the post.

In the interim, the local and national news has become tiresome. Nationally, we're apparently off the radar screen. If it bleeds it leads, but we're not bleeding or disfunctional like New Orleans. Our mayor is basically giving FEMA the forearm shiver, forcing it to get the heck out of the way so that folks who know what they're doing can get the trains running on time again. And most folks in Houston would be happy to take care of themselves, thank you very much, if the lights would just come on. So, don't mind us, NBC or CNN. Sure, we're the fourth largest city in the country and we go dark every night without civil disorder, and we're responsible for 25% of the country's refining capacity. But don't mind us. We're just fine.

Me in particular, I've got it really good compared to folks on the coast. I've got a job to go to, a house that's still in one piece, enough supplies to last weeks, enough money to take care of myself, and places that are open where I can purchase things with that money. Focusing a camera or a headline on "bleeding" lead stories of destruction provides none of the information we need. Most folks could mostly take care of themselves if the local news would actually provide information, born of actually asking questions like "who, what when, where, why, and how." Instead, all we get is sound bites, born of lazily attending news conferences and merely repeating what is said. Then, news radio breaks to interminably repetitious call in interviews with Joe Bob or Betty from Baytown who says the power is out, it rained really hard, and there's lines for gas.

REALLY? SERIOUSLY? I would have never known.

Beyond that, all we get is the same worn out phrases over and over. It's like some sick, college drinking game. You feel like you ought to take a shot of tequila or every time you hear the buzz words, which if I never hear them again, it will be too soon. We are well and truly tired of the following words and phrases, which through their repetition, have been denuded of any meaning:

1. Hunker--as in "hunker down." Where? How? With what equipement? For how long? Never really said. We just "hunkered."

2. PODs--as in "Points of Distribution." Giving it a TLA (three letter acronym) does not make the sites any less chaotic, nor any less necessary for those who put up a week's worth of their own supplies. The only reason they work is because local citizens took over volunteering to hand out materials to their neighbors, and local radio stations and officials knew where to put them. The real story is how neighbors are taking over, and this story is largely untold.

3. Devastated--Yeah. Barrier island. We get it. Break out your thesaurus or give specifics about streets, blocks, structures, stores--you know, like information people can use to plan their lives for the next several weeks and decide whether and how to rebuild.

4. Recovery--Again. We get it. Recovery has no meaning. What part? Where? What infrastructure? Who's doing it? What do they need?

5. "Round the clock"--blah blah blah. Yeah, Centerpoint is working "round the clock" to get the power outages restored. (See the outage map here and a map by zip codes here. According to the maps, 41-60% of the people in my zip code have power--but I saw no lights in my recon last night.) What are they doing? What's their plan? What infrastrucure specifically needs to be repaired and how? Your guess is as good as mine, because nobody has asked that question. But "round the clock" they go. Mining the internet or chat forums will get you some more details, but then you have a credibility concern about the information you're getting.

I'm sure I could think of others, but the situation really points out the utter failure of informational outlets, in government, in business, and in the media, to provide useful, raw data that people can use to make decisions about how to handle a crisis. There's a pulitzer out there for the man or woman who isn't too lazy to ask some interesting questions. But as of now, journalism is reduced to standing in front of an angry sea or a dramatic background of destruction and blubbering superlatives, as if it is "news" that hurricanes are windy and wash things away.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

All Clear

No damage apparent at my place from Hurricane Ike, and everyone in neighborhood is safe. But not enough power and bandwidth for a proper post. More later when lights and internet are back on line.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Confessing Runner

For those of you who are interested, there is a new post just up on the Confessing Runner blog.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hurricane Ike--I'm blogging this

During the day yesterday, the cone of death moved more in line with the Megalopolis where I live, so we're expecting hurricane conditions this weekend. The conventional wisdom is, "run from water, hide from wind." Depending upon how your crow flies, I'm 50 to 70 miles away from the coast, well clear of the storm surge. So, I'll be hiding, not running.

While I do, hide that is, I hope to throw out some pictures, video and narrative of what it's like in Spring, Texas during the storm--hopefully very regular and rapid updates when I'm not sleeping. So, check out and tell all your weather nerd friends.

Because You Asked

At your request, and because the customer is always right, here is the rough recipe for black beans and quinoa. I found it online, originally, but have modified it to suit me over time.

Dump about a tablespoon or two of olive oil in your wok or large saucepan for purposes of sauteing some an onion you chopped and at least a heaping tablespoon of chopped garlic. Saute until golden, a little brown and carmelized if that's how you roll, or less so if not.

Dump in 2 cups of chicken broth and 3/4 cup quinoa, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, salt and ground pepper to taste. Stir so it gets mixed well and does not stick. Medium heat until boiling, reduce heat, cover, simmer 20 minutes, checking and stirring periodically to make sure it's not getting too too dry or sticking to the pan and burning.

While it's cooking, set aside two drained cans of black beans and about a cup+ of frozen corn.

Add the black beans and corn to the quinoa mixture, continue simmering about 5 minutes until heated through.

Top off with some chopped cilantro (to taste) and maybe even garnish with some colby/jack cheese. It keeps in the fridge all week, and tastes even better after the spices have married overnight. I hold the cilantro and cheese in reserve until I pull it out and heat it up.

Mmmmmmmm. That's good eatin'.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New School/Old School

Well, it's been a quiet week in Spring, Texas, my hometown, out on the edge of the Megalopolis. The Megalopolis, along with nearly all the Gulf Coast, was again in the "cone of death" representing the potential path of a hurricane, this time Hurricane Ike. Old School residents of the Megalopolis have not yet become concerned. They simply watch the local news, and when the man standing in front of the green screen tells them to be concerned, they just blink because they've seen this all before. On this one, I kind of tend toward the New School, haunting the weather underground online and comparing computer models. Those models have been shifting with alarming regularity, but it looks like we'll escape the worst of it again.

So, New School on that, but I had an Old School workout last night. I went to the track where my marathon plan coach had prescribed, after a warmup, 5x1000 at T pace on one minute's rest to be followed by 6x200 at R pace on :45 rest to be followed by a cool down. While that sounds very technical, I was without a watch or a heart rate monitor. So, I went decidedly old school. Run hard, rest as little as you can get by with, then run hard again. I would not have made the fifth 1000 were it not for the presence of Coach T and her main squeeze Scuba Steve running with me. Old School guys don't like to give up (or puke up) in front of the kids.

And the recovery nutrition? Also Old School: Pizza and Beer.

And the swim this morning? Old School again. Outside, in the dark as soon as the pool opens. First in. Swim hard. Don't even think about quitting until you've got at least 2k in the bank. And none of these "jammers" or "square leg" swimsuits for old guys without waists. Old School. Little black Speedo baby.

OK, that was way TMI. But I've rediscovered a couple of abs and some ribs in the last week or so, so I was all wild and crazy.

But two nights ago I went New School in the dad department. While Superpounce is a pretty adventurous eater for a kid, we have not been able to get her to eat anything with beans in it, particularly black beans. Now, an Old School dad would just put out the food and say, "You'll eat it and you'll like it. Either that or you'll go hungry." Actually, an Old School dad would not have cooked the food, but would be inquiring about the whereabouts of his meat loaf and potatos while watching Walter Cronkite from his La-Z-Boy, alternately drinking a Miller High Life and snoring.

Ahhhhhh . . . . those were the days.

Oops, did I say that out loud? Sorry, I digress.

A New School dad, however, not only cooks food, he resorts to strategerie to get his offspring to eat the healthy options he puts on the table.

I know 'Pounce enjoys spicy foods like my Black Beans and Quinoa, and I know she likes to cook with me. So, I figured she would eat it if she was the one who "cooked it." I was right. I prepared all the ingredients before hand--measured the cumin and cayenne pepper, chopped the onions, chopped the garlic, put the black beans and corn aside, gathered two cups of chicken broth and 3/4 cup of Quinoa, measured a couple table spoons of olive oil into the wok and called the 'Pounce any time it was time to saute, stir, pour, combine or "cook."

She loved it, both the cooking and the eating. And when Mrs. Greyhound commented on how good it tasted, 'Pounce tapped her chest like an NBA player who just sank a three point shot and said:

"I know--I cooked it."

And that's the news from Spring, Texas, where all the schools are exemplary, all the food is fast, and all the commutes, are below average.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Confessing Runner

Just in time for your weekend long run, a new entry has been posted in the Confessing Runner blog. Go here if you're interested.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

'Cause That's How I Roll

**Note the Buck to Doe ratio in this group of triathletes**

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Trial Of The Century

Those of you keeping score at home will know what today is. Yes, it is September 3, the day in which I got my day in court on the fiasco where Officer McBreakfast Taco, aka Deputy Constable Williams of Montgomery County, Texas, tried to bully me off the road, and when I complained to his supervisor, saw fit to back date a ticket for failing to "git off the road."

Anyone of you who has seen me practice law would know that my anal retentive preparation knows no bounds. I have even been accused of filing a Motion For Summary Judgment from the bike course of Ironman Coeur d'Alene. This, of course is false, but totday, I was loaded for bear. I had my exhibits prepared. I had my copy of the Transportation Code. I had blown up pictures of the site of the road where he accosted me, and I had a blown up map showing the location of his house about a mile away from the spot of the violation.

I made short work of the violation, persuaded the prosecutor to dismiss the ticket altogether, and was done by 9:00. Because that's what kind of lawyer I am. I'm that good.

OK, it really did not have anything to do with my ability. It was only because I was a lawyer at all. Since I had on my best lawyer suit and bow tie, I got to take a seat in front of the bar instead of standing around the wall with the rest of the (alleged) criminals. Then, the bailiff (the one with the gun) instructed me to cut in line (because you're a lawyer) and check in with the clerk and tell her who my client was--er, me. Then, the prosecutor called on me and met with me first, because I'm a lawyer and had on my fancy suit. Meanwhile, the rest of the citizen taxpayers looked on with a degree of jealous loathing that made me glad they had all been wanded and run through a metal detector before coming into the courtroom.

I know. It totally sucks for the rest of the folks who also have jobs and schedules. But, membership has its privileges.

Anyway, it wasn't really lawyering skill that achieved the dismissal. The only "skill" involved was being an attorney with 14 years experience knowing that it costs nothing to be nice, even if you feel like being a hot head. I walked into the conference room with the prosecutor, smiled, shook her hand, introduced myself and my case.

She knew me immediately.

I had called the prosecutor a couple of weeks ago, and left a polite message, explaining my particular case, and encouraging her to look into it, as I intended to try it unless it was dismissed--something they almost never do. She did look into it. Because of the polite heads up, she knew my case from the hundreds in her file (only one involving a bicycle no doubt), said they had taken pictures of the road where I was cited, and proceeded to dismiss it because it was too narrow for the statute I "violated" to even apply. (A cyclist is entiteld to "take the lane" when it is less than 14 feet wide in Texas. This one had an 11 foot lane and an uneven 2 foot shoulder).

So, we talked a bit about local cycling clubs because she is interested getting more into cycling. I told her about the Woodlands Cycling Club and the fact that the head DA, her boss, is actually a member. After our friendly visit, I shook her hand as an honored colleague, and walked out of there at 8:57.

Then a nice lady tried to hire me in the parking lot. True story.

So, Greyhound 1, Deputy Constable Williams 0. But my point has not yet been made.

In all probability, Constable Williams never intended to show for trial anyway. And his boss, who was willing to whitewash his conduct and issue a citation for a roadway where the statute does not even apply, is still in office at the pleasure of the local voters. And neither of them knows anything more about the rights of cyclists now than they did before. So, is it over?

Nope. It is on.

Constable Williams and the Chief Deputy who had his back get another letter, and another chance to apologize. If they do, then we're all friends again.

If they do not, they will be thrown into the displinary system for bad law enforcement officers, and (still thinking on this one) perhaps a criminal complaint as well, because of the manner in which Constable Williams endangered me with his pickup truck. I'd be in jail if I had done it to him. Only fair that he should have to clear his name and have a criminal complaint on his record.

And one more thing. Every time a deputy constable gets a raise, it has to be posted on the agenda for the county administrative hearing. Those agendas are public record and are searchable online. Who knows who might show up to object and question the good officer next time Constable Williams' merit comes up for discussion?

This will go easier if he just says, "I was wrong. I'm sorry." What are the odds his pride allows him to do it?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Well, it's been a quiet week in Spring, Texas, my home, out on the edge of the Megalopolis. Summer has come to an end. Odd to think of it, because it will be in the 80s and 90s for many weeks yet here on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. And, as a consequence, we probably have not spent our last weekend watching the "cone of death" on the weather channel and wondering whether the Megalopolis will get up close and personal with named storms like, "Gustav" or "Hannah" or "Igor." Sadly, as much fun as we had this summer, summer died while we were watching TV and I was writing a brief.

Strange how things run down when you're not paying attention, how life gets on "while you're making other plans." For example, I took the picture up top probably 18 months ago, in the depths of winter, at the outdoor pool where I like to swim. The pool is a beautiful, 50 meter, saline pool where all the women are masters, all the men swim in the fast lane, and all the kids are on swim team. It's the best I have ever swum in, and I could use it any time I wanted because I have a full membership to the aquatic center.

But this picture has a certain loneliness to it, the few persons standing there on the side, bundled against the cold. Unseen in the picture are the swimmer kids tearing back and forth, made invisible by the long shutter speed that was necessary to get the shot in the dark. Ghost swimmers, they are. This morning I was swimming with ghosts again.

News has come out that the aquatic center is closing at the end of the year. It's too expensive to run, and the local school system has built its own facility. The highest and best use of the land is not to provide solitary lane space and aquatic meditation for middle aged triathletes. So, this morning, I was the only swimmer, in the darkness, occupying the far lane in an Olympic size pool. The surface of the water and the flags over the pool rippled with the outlying winds of Hurricane Gustav, and maybe with the memory of all swimmer kids and the millions of meters of swimming that they have swum there.

The diving well over there was the haunt of an Olympic gold medalist. Champions beyond number have swum in the pool. But now it is on life support, and I am the only one left. I've heard it said, "if these walls could talk." Where do the achievements go when they knock down the walls and the school records are removed? And what of us who have no written records, those who just go from being unable to swim to being unable to quit swimming.

I suppose it is carried in our muscle memory, maybe our DNA or blood. Maybe we carry it and infect those who come in contact with us, infect them with something good. Maybe we can create antibodies to laziness and average and 9 to 5. Maybe.

I hope so.