Kathy and I saw Spirit of the Marathon last Thursday night. It was both inspirational and frightening. You spend a lot of time running to prepare yourself for running 26.2 miles. Madness! Give me my bike. I did 4 miles on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. At 8:00 this morning I ran 8 miles and the temperature was 8 degrees.
This is what I looked like when I finished. Any guesses as to why I didn't see any other runners out there? Bueller? Bueller?
America’s house is occupied by the renters from hell. Saying and doing anything to avoid being evicted; they slap on a coat of cheap paint, throw down some grass seed, rearrange the furniture, and swear they’ve made repairs. The front yard is choked with weeds; each one vying to make it’s influence felt, controlling its territory and taking precious resources from the trees, grass and flowers. Piles of waste are strewn about the back yard making it unsafe to play in. The house is infested with termites. Boring throughout the structure, they work steadily to weaken the essential framework. Left unchecked, it is only a matter of time before it collapses. Pit bulls roam freely about America’s house and yard. They are there for protection—from threats without and within. They answer only to the man of the house. The family lives in fear. Some try to befriend the pit bulls but they remain suspicious; always loyal to the man of the house. Within the house the shades are pulled, the curtains drawn, and the windows fogged. The fence around the house is high. Few know what goes on inside America’s house. The family inside says little and mostly just what they are told to say. The man of the house is a strict father. The man of the house claims to be moral and compassionate. He drives to the church next door every Sunday. Once there he shoulders his neighbors out of the way when they are in his path. He sits in the front pew and denounces behavior such as his own. Few realize how much his definition of morality and compassion differ so greatly from theirs. He is feared, not respected. He has few friends because he can only tolerate those who agree with him. He is quick to strike out at anyone who speaks ill of him. The gossips, currying favor, sing only his praises. The man of the house is happy to water the weeds in his front yard. He is unconcerned with the barren trees and sparse grass. Weeds are tough, hardy and able to spread on their own. On occasion he will have a flower planted as a pretense for brightening the blight. But it, too, is left to its own defenses; left to wither in the dry soil and hot sun. He thinks anything that must be cared for is wasteful and not deserving. He is not bothered by the stench in the back yard nor that few want to go there. And he has no qualms about adding to the waste. The man of the house is happy to leave the termites secretly to their work. He is unhappy with the house. It was not built with the design he thinks is correct. He looks forward to the inevitable collapse in which he will not only appear blameless, but heroic to the task of building a new house. He works diligently on his plans and ideas for America’s new house. A house he hopes to build soon—before anyone learns what’s really going on in America’s house.
A metaphor for our times I wrote 2-1/2 years ago. Several people have read it and given me their ideas of who the metaphors represent with surprising results.
Last month Kathy said she wanted to run another marathon. Since I am both in love and insane, I said I'd run it with her. She decided on the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon on June 1. It turns out you have to train for these sort of things so Kathy provided me with several training plans to choose from. After consulting my testosterone level, I chose one I thought would work for me. It's an 18-week training program that starts Jan 28th. But I need to start running ahead of time so I'm prepared to do the 25 miles a week in the beginning of the plan. This week I ran 4 miles on Monday, 4 on Wednesday, and 6 on Friday. I was supposed to run 6 today but my testosterone misled me so I did 4.5 instead. To top it off, Kathy looked at the plan I chose and said it was too easy. Slapped down! My Y chromosome is badly bruised.
In 1969, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) hijacked a plane that left Los Angeles for Damascus. In 1970, the Black Liberation Army allegedly planted a bomb in a San Francisco church full of mourners attending the funeral of a police officer who had been killed in the line of duty. The bomb detonated, but no one in the church suffered serious injuries. In 1972, the Red Army Faction bombed a US barracks in Frankfurt. In 1973, the Symbionese Liberation assassinated the superintendent of the Oakland schools. The following year they kidnapped Patricia Hearst. In 1974, the Japanese Red Army assaulted the French embassy in The Hague taking the ambassador and others hostage. In 1975, the same group attacked embassies in Malaysia and included the American consul among their 50-plus hostages. In the same year the PFLP assaulted a meeting of OPEC leaders in Vienna. In 1979, the Red Army Faction, using a land mine, nearly assassinated General Alexander Haig, Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, in Belgium. In 1981, the Red Brigades kidnapped American General James Dozier in Verona, Italy. There were countless attacks, murders, bombings and hijackings carried out by these groups and others. These organizations in particular shared a similar communist ideology. Their ideology attacked the sacred freedoms, liberties and rights that we emphatically claim—especially today—are so dear to us. Sound familiar? We need to examine something that deeply affects our society, our way of life, and the beacon of freedom known as America. Look back at how we fought terrorism 30-plus years ago and compare it with today. Back then we did not aggregate terrorists into a vague and monolithic threat. We did not redefine suspects as illegal enemy combatants. We did not detain them indefinitely and deny them habeas corpus. We did not devise “enhanced interrogation” techniques or redefine torture to suit our needs. We did not kidnap and deliver suspects to countries who used torture. We did not try suspects with secret evidence they could not view or challenge. We and our allies somehow managed to fight terrorists and prosecute them in courts of law. We did not declare an unending war. We did not invade any countries because of their alleged or real support of terrorism. President Bush says that the terrorists “are the face of evil” and want to impose their “dark vision.” Look who he is grouping together and you'll see that some are mortal enemies of the other. Not only would Iran never help the Taliban but Iran supported us when we attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan. Our administration links illegal immigrants, environmentalists and drugs to terrorism. It's as if there's nothing that doesn't have the specter of terrorism hanging over it. After all, we're told, they will stop at nothing because they hate our freedoms. Our concern should be with two areas of our administration's approach. First of all, years ago we understood each terrorist group and counteracted them as a individual entities. We knew who we were up against. We knew their goals, capabilities, and ideology and how they differed from each other. We cannot say that today. The “face of evil” terrorist label is liberally applied to many as if they're all one and the same. Combining the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Taliban is like saying the Ku Klux Klan and Black Liberation Army are one and the same because they each murdered innocent people. Yes they did, but is it logical to group them together? Secondly, the purpose of “face of evil” and “dark vision” labels is just to spread fear. Everywhere we look we see possible terrorists and we fear what could happen. Fear keeps us silent as our civil rights and liberties are whittled away. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—created in response to illegal surveillance of U.S citizens—ironically has been watered down over the last six years by new legislation, Executive Orders, and signing statements to protect the freedom, liberty and rights we hold so dear. We don't speak out about the kidnapping, torture, and the loss of habeas corpus because it is being done to fight against the evil that could happen. We desperately need to learn from our earlier success against terrorism. We also need to recognize that a free and open society entails risk. A fearful, suspicious society entails the same risk. It just ceases to be free and open.
In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins mentions that love for god is the same emotion of love we feel for each other. I'd like to expand on that thought. When you love someone like you're supposed to love god—I mean really, really, really love them more than anything—then you are willing to accept anything from them because your love for them is so great. You would rationalize nearly everything they did to fit within your feeling of love. Now if you loved a celebrity whom you've never met or seen and you went around to everyone and told them how much you loved that celebrity and how they should too, you'd be dismissed a crackpot. If you tried to tell others that the celebrity loved them, then they'd be convinced you were delusional. And if you pursued this celebrity—who wouldn't give you the time of day—and tried to express your undying devotion and faithfulness, you'd be considered a stalker. Something to think about.
Over the last three days I've been slogging along the trails at Holmberg Park. For some reason I was thinking that the Centennial Trail would be easier and that there wouldn't be as much snow. I parked at the ranger station at Nine Mile Dam and got the bike out. I started riding a bit and tried to shift to the middle chain ring when the gear shifter snapped right off. Bad omen.
Well, I only needed the low gears anyway so I headed south on a plowed roadway. Once I hit the trail proper, reality in the form of Mr T slapped me upside the head and said, "I pity the fool who tries to ride his ice bike on the trail!" So while there were some rideable parts...
...I was pushing the bike uphill a lot.
It was quiet and peaceful, like I had the place to myself even though I ran into a couple of hikers along the way. There were some bike tracks on the trail and it looked like a much stronger rider than me had come through. Props to him or her.
I was minding my own business putting some leftover ham on a plate when the fork slipped out of my hand. Our silverware is not like the thin, gumby-like utensils at the all-you-can-eat buffet. This is solid, hardy stuff useful for tunneling out of prison camps. The fork landed tines first in a vertical position right on my big toe. The stubby tines, with the mass of the fork behind them, managed to break the skin as well as make me feel like a hammer just hit. Good thing it wasn't a steak knife.