Sunday, May 28, 2006

Schilling reaches 200 and Boston fans are amazing

My wife and I attended the Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Devil Rays game at Fenway Park last night.

It turned out to be Curt Schilling's 200th victory.

Now I'm a Philadelphia Phillies fan having grown up near Philly during their heyday in the early 1980s, but even I was moved when the fans stood and cheered for 15 minutes after the game. They shouted "We want Curt!" until Schilling came back out of the locker room and doffed his cap to the crowd. Most sentimental baseball moment for me since Tug McGraw jumped straight into the air after the last out of the 1980 World Series.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Hillary Clinton is prejudiced

Hillary Clinton, the other liberal Senator from NY, recently said an entire generation thinks "work is a four letter word." Unfortunately for Hillary, the statistics just don't bear her "age-ist"
comments out as reported by Po Bronson of Time Magazine.

Can't Hillary see that welfare has been rising ever since her generation came of age? The public dole barely existed before the first baby boomers came of age during Lyndon Johnson's "Great Giveaway Society."

Also, it's a bad political move, Hil. These slackers for the most part hate George W. and anybody that kisses up to him (a certain Senator from Arizona anyone?), but now you've guaranteed this slacker generation will stay tuned into their Ipods and Xboxes and out of the voting booth.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Dixie Chicks alienate their base

In a move right out of George W.'s recent playbook, the Dixie Chicks have alienated their lastion bastion of base fans, liberal women, by knocking the TV show "the View."

Meanwhile Reba took a shot at them at the recent music awards.

More commentary here.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Dixie Chicks Jump a Bush or Shark?

Natalie Maines, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks recently revoked her apology (Yahoo! link) that she made three years ago after she insulted the president by saying she was embarrassed President George W. Bush was from Texas.

She, being a brave liberal, chose to make these comments in that right wing hotbed - the United Kingdom.

And over at Billboard they are writing about how their new singles aren't doing so hot on the country charts. Looks like their fans have revoked something also.

Also in the Yahoo! article is a quote about how the chicks are goin for the adult contemporary crowd. Hmmm, Yanni, John Tesch, Enya, Dixie Chicks. Which of these doesn't belong?

To borrow from Laura Ingraham, "Shut up and sing," Chick!

Challenge Photos

You want pictures? I got your pictures. I am the guy in the white top with the wraparound shades:

Disappear or you don't come out, Part 1
And Part 2
Up the freaking sand dune
Emerging from the first crawl
Sir, are you bleeding from your nipples?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Rudy Run Navy SEAL Challenge

You know, you'd think I would be smarter. When I signed up for the SEAL challenge, my thinking was, "they can't bring a bunch of civilians out there and expect them to do SEAL stuff." That, my friends, was a big mistake in judgement. What I should have been thinking was, "The SEALS aren't going to put their good name on an event and then host a little run through the park with a few push-ups and some logs to jump over." Today, I find out that we will be covering their personal 5-mile physical training course. Oh, there will be some push-ups. And lots and lots of logs of all sizes, too. But I soon discover those will be the easy part. Although I thought I knew what to expect, I had no clue. Photo links that follow are from last years race, for illustration purposes. I must say last year looks cold, and they don't look muddy and wet like we got, so I am thinking they didn't get the dousing we got.

I felt good this morning. I was up near the front, and had a clear, fast, easy start. Running strongly but comfortably, I was probably one the first 25 of the 900 entrants to reach the water hole at about the 3/4 mile mark.

It was maybe 10 feet across and 4 feet deep, filled with brown, muddy water. It looked like chocolate milk. The SEAL on the other side had a bullhorn, and was shouting "DISAPPEAR IN THAT WATER OR YOU DON'T COME OUT!" We plunged in fearlessly, one after the other without breaking stride, making sure to get our heads under the water on the way across. I emerged on the other side muddy, but still feeling pretty good about myself. That was fun!

Then I tried to lift my now soggy shoes, which felt like lead weights. "Uh oh," I thought. Now if we had hit a road or firm ground at that point, things would have been better for me. I might have recovered and regained my rhythm. But we didn't; instead, we headed for the soft sand. And things quickly got worse. Much worse.

Across the sand we zigzagged, my feet getting heavier and heavier all the way. I looked ahead and saw our destination: a 25 foot high sand dune, and a very steep dune at that. Scrambling up that thing required digging your way along with your hands and really took the starch out of me. Going down the other side, I stepped in a hole and tumbled down about 10 feet, head over heels. Somebody, I don't know if it was the SEAL on top of the dune or another runner, started yelling, "MAN DOWN! MAN DOWN!" With over 800 people coming along behind, I didn't want to be lying at the bottom of that hill. So I popped up and continued on my way, and somebody yelled "HE'S OKAY!"

Now I find myself on the beach facing the Chesapeake Bay. A SEAL stands out in the bay, in about waist-deep water. We head across the beach, out into the Bay, and around the SEAL. As we pass, he helpfully points out to us that, "Second place is the number one loser!" Second place? At this point we are still only a mile into this thing and I realize I will happy to simply finish in one piece.

Then it's back across the beach, looking ahead to see that we are headed back up that same damn dune. I struggle to the top, with a SEAL opining somewhat forcefully, "IT'S JUST A LITTLE HILL!" On top and exhausted, we encounter our first crawl challenge. Into the sand I drop and under the camo-netting, which is too low to allow you to use your knees. So along I go, probably for 50 feet or so, clawing through the soft sand and trying to push off with my feet. I eat sand pushed into my face by the guy in front of me the whole way. Surely, the guy behind me does the same. I struggle back to my feet, and continue on down the backside, but in the space of 5 minutes and maybe 1/2 mile, I have gone from "feeling good" to "a world of hurt."

We come out of the sand and onto a wooded trail. Now, finally, a few logs. At this point, I am so wiped out, all I want to do is jog easily and try to get my wind back. But it is not to be. We have to jump over some logs, and climb over others. And some of the logs (you can't tell which ones by looking at them) are mounted on axles, so they are unstable under foot. Now, not only am I exhausted, but I can't go on auto-pilot to recover. I have to concentrate.

After maybe a mile of this (it seemed like more), we emerge from the woods onto a large field. Here stand two SEALS, maybe 100 feet apart. The first is yelling "BEAR CRAWL! BEAR CRAWL! HANDS AND FEET!" the second is yelling "DON'T YOU DARE STAND UP UNTIL YOU GET TO ME!" I am now down all fours, hands and feet on the ground, butt and knees in the air, trying not to face-plant into the grass as I struggle forward. I make it to the end. Barely. Then back out onto the roads for another mile. I try to recover some, but my shoes are just too heavy. I look down and notice both knees are bleeding some, although not too badly. At this point I am reduced to laughing at my folly.

Back into the woods we go. I am so fatigued, I am having difficulty maintaining a straight line. As I brush past the growth on either side of the trail, it occurs to me that the possibility of catching poison ivy has now been added to this travesty. This trail features more unstable logs, climb-over rails, some muddy ground, and, as we emerge, a plastic temporary highway divider to cross. As I pull myself over it, I am so muddy, wet, and sweaty, that I almost slip off the top and go down on the pavement. Almost. Finally, I have caught a break in this thing; I have encountered an obstacle that didn't bite me. Whoopee.

Now I find myself back in a field where another "under the netting" type crawl is set up. I go through this so slowly, I surprise even myself, and I know how bad I feel. Then, some more woods and logs, another field, and another bear crawl, followed by a choice of either 2 pushups or 2 chin ups. I elect for pushups, and have to do three, because one of the first two wasn't good enough. Another fairly long trail run (I have to stop twice to catch my breathe at this point. But both times, I manage to get it restarted).

Finally, we emerge and the finish line is in sight. But we don't head right for it, as I fervently hope we will. No, instead we run past it, around another building, and stop for more pushups. Then it's across a 4'-6" high wood platform (which I barely am able to haul myself up on), through a ditch (did I mention the ditches? I forgot the freaking ditches! This is probably ditch number four, they are all pretty deep, with steep sides and muddy bottoms). I barely emerge, and run on towards the finish line.

As I shuffle toward the line, a SEAL shouts through his bullhorn, "C'MON, RUN, THIS IS A RACE NOT A TEAM BUILDING EXERCISE. SIR, ARE YOU BLEEDING FROM YOUR NIPPLES!?" Oh, no. Please God, not that. I look down, and sure enough, my shirt has chafed both nipples raw, and there are two red circles showing through the mud. The final indignity has been visited upon me. What will that finish line photo look like, I wonder. But after 42 long minutes, 38 of them in near-total misery, it is finally over.

I don't know if I will try the SEAL Challenge run next year, but if I do I will certainly approach it differently. And I won't wear that shirt again, either.

Update: At the start of the race, they announced that there were 900 entries. I don't know if that number is accurate, but tonight, I received the following official results. It seems only 360 of us made it to the finish:
Congratulations Kurt Flechtner on finishing the Rudy's SEAL Challenge Euro Cross Country on May 20, 2006. For your records, the weather that day was Sunny, 70 degrees F, 52% humidity, West wind 16 mph.

There were 25 finishers in the Male 45 to 49 age group and 360 finishers in the 8K division.

Your overall finish place was 112, your age group finish place was 7 and your gender finish place was 105. Your time 42:33.70 gave you a 8:33 pace per mile.
So I finished in 7th of 25 for my age group, 112 of 360 overall. Most of the runners were young Navy men, so I am now feeling a lot better about my performance. Maybe I will run it next year.

Update II: Here's where my time would have placed me in younger men's age groups:

40-44: 12th of 31
35-39: 15th of 41
30-34: 14th of 31
25-29: 23rd of 55
20-24: 24th of 46

Not bad, old man! Here's an interesting note: Brandon Secrest won the overall event in 31:48, but the next two finishers were women, Aurora Scott (16 years old) and Rachel Beckmann (22). So two women, one of them only 16, beat every man out there except one. Way to go, girls!

Friday, May 19, 2006

The following poem, written in caligraphy and framed, sits over my bed. I bought it for Suzy on Valentine's Day, three years ago. It means as much to me today as it did then.
are simply
my best time.

are my
sweetest laughter.

are my
most peaceful sleep ...
and still!
you find new ways
to love me.

you will have
my hand to hold.

always ...

mary anne radmacher
One of the reasons you cannot debate a leftist is that they do not (and perhaps cannot) meet your argument on the plane from which it arises. Instead, they attack that plane and try to drag you down to the level from which their minds operate. This is why they never address the content of your argument, but attack your motivations.

This is so pervasive that it is hardly worth commenting on: if you are against government enforced racial discrimination, you are a racist; if you are against the redefinition of marriage, you are a “homophobe”; if you are against the Kyoto protocols, you wish to destroy the earth; if you are in favor of tax cuts, you simply want to line the pockets of the wealthy; if you are in favor of the liberation of Iraq, it’s just for the oil; if you want to control your own retirement, you just want to give a boon to mutual fund companies; if you are against inefficient socialized medicine, it’s because you want poor children to be sick; if you want to control the borders, you hate Mexicans; etc. The list is endless.
- Clinical psychologist Robert Godwin, writing at One Cosmos

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called a proposal to make English the official language "racist" on the Senate floor yesterday.

"This amendment is racist. I think it's directed basically to people who speak Spanish," the Democrat said during the already tense debate over immigration reform.
- Nevada Democrat Harry Reid from the well of the United States Senate.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Unique Race this Weekend

I have been running the occasional 5K and 10K race, but I needed a real diversion for this weekend, and I thought the Rudy Run SEAL Challenge would be just what the doctor ordered. If the doctor were the Marquis de Sade:
Experience the ultimate SEAL training race on this 6.1 mile course around NAB, Little Creek. You will have to run, crawl, and climb over obstacles, do push-ups, navigate rough terrain and conduct individual rock portage. SEAL Instructors, including Rudy Boesch, Retired SEAL Master Chief, will be positioned at key waypoints along the course to encourage and direct participants.
I like the part where the SEAL Instructors "encourage and direct" the participants. That oughta be interesting. I should have some good stories for Sunday, if I am still capable of typing.

Note: NAB is "Naval Amphibious Base." NAB Little Creek, straddling the Norfolk-Virginia Beach line, is the home of the Navy's east coast based SEAL teams.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Caller ID v Cell Phone

James Taranto, in his Best of the Web Today column, has a post about the fear that people without landline phones will skew the polls.
The Associated Press reports on a problem with public-opinion surveys - the rapid growth in the number of Americans who have no landline phone, only a cell:

Survey research depends on contacting random samples of households with landline phones. [Pollsters] worry that if the trend continues they could miss a significant number of people and that could undermine their ability to accurately measure public opinion. There could be implications for politics, government policy, academia, business and journalism.
The problem, it seems is that they simply can't contact enough liberals:
Those who only have cell phones are significantly different in many ways--typically younger, less affluent, more likely to be single, and more liberal on many political issues--from those who can be reached by landline, an AP-AOL-Pew survey finds.
To which I respond, "get over yourselves." As a conservative member of the "Caller-ID" demographic, I am equally unreachable. Several times this year the word "Gallup" has appeared on my display, and I have each time refused to answer. Those of us that pay for Caller ID are probably older, more affluent, more likely to be married, and more conservative on many political issues. Where is the hand-wringing that we are under-represented in the polls?

Perhaps they need to do a little research into the likelihood of a Caller ID customer versus a Cell Phone-only user actually voting in an election before they get themselves all worked up about the people they are missing.

Monday, May 15, 2006

In response to a post about how our society does not properly acknowledge grief and loss, I made the following addition to a thread on the Young Widow Bulletin Board:
It is hard not to be self-centered when we are in the middle of so much pain. We cry, we fret about people that don't get it, we complain when people don't know how to talk to us and say the wrong thing (or nothing at all). It is all natural and expected, because it is all so personal.

I have come to the conclusion, however, that there is something unreasonable in expecting them to get it or know what to say or do. So I have set out on an education campaign with anyone that will listen.

I tell people at work that I couldn't come in yesterday because I didn't have the will to get out of bed until mid-afternoon. I tell them they have no idea how vast and total the loss is, and I then reassure them that I know this because before losing Suzy, I had no idea either. If someone asks me to a social event I am not well enough to attend, I politely say I am not ready yet, but beg them to please remember me in a couple weeks or months in case I am feeling better and can join them. I apologize if I am caught staring at the wall or the floor and then explain whatever it was I was thinking or feeling; then I tell them how frequently I think or feel such things. I have also been telling some of our stories and posts, some of the horrors and trials we so articulately relate on this board. I tell them how fast our numbers grow, and explain that we are probably only the tip of the iceberg, the people savvy enough to find each other on the internet.

Most people start out looking mighty uncomfortable hearing such things, but I can usually get them past that to a state of morbid curiosity. Everyone that has ever been married has asked themselves, "What would I do if my spouse died." We can start to make them see some answers to that question. They start to ask more questions about things that they don't understand, and become more comfortable as I make my best effort to give them an understandable answer. I always tell the truth. On the occasions I find enjoyment or humor in something, I will tell them that, as well. Other people seem to enjoy "widowbrain" stories just as much as we do.

There are always those that are not interested in hearing anything I have to say, because it reminds them of their own mortality and the fragility of life. I don't worry about these people, their denial will probably haunt them in the end. The people who do listen seem comforted that I am thoughtful about my situation and even a little relieved to have had a glimpse of what being widowed is like without having to go through it themselves, at least not yet.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Andrew Sullivan has a link to an article by Clive Davis (not the record mogul) about how boring rap is these days.

Although I'm not a huge rap fan I grew up during its rise and every once in awhile I think an album comes out that exceeds the normal drivel.

But it is definitely an ebb and flow situation. And I do agree that not much has come out since the Chronic in 1992 that has blown me away.

In my opinion, some of the better rap/hip hop albums over the years are:

1. Fear of a Black Planet Public Enemy - Defined the genre, probably the Sgt. Pepper's of rap
2. Paul's Boutique - The Beastie Boys-dropped their classic rock guitar riffs from their debut to find their unique sound
3. Raising Hell Run DMC - woke the world up with a smart collaboration with Aerosmith and a number of other catchy tunes
4. LL Cool J -- "Mama Said Knock You Out" - LL = SMOOTH
5. 3 Years 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life of-- Arrested Development - too bad they never made another album that came close to this gem
6. The Chronic Dr. Dre (Snoop Dogg's Debut) - I'm sorry, Eminem fans but every thing he's done is a rip-off of this
7. Nelly Country Grammar - people will pick on this choice but I think he brought something a little different to the world of rap

Waxing Philosophical Again

From the One Cosmos blog comes this :
The younger one is, the more one’s life represents pure potential, and therefore, it gives one a spurious sense of the infinite.

I still remember this feeling quite distinctly, and am sometimes nostalgic for it. I was a mediocre student at best, with no interest in school, so my future never looked particularly bright or promising in any conventional sense. And yet, the future was nevertheless unwritten.
After Suzy's death, I find myself with a newly-unwritten future. I don't know where to go from here, but I am aware that I am the author of my future. What do I do next? I already have a Master's degree, so college seems like a silly choice. I can move anywhere I choose, do anything I want. The internal pressure is staggering.

I have been thrown back to "pure potential" and the "spurious sense of the infinite." What does a 46-year-old man do with that?

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Hog

It occurs to me that I have yet to publish (is this publishing? who knows?) a picture of my newest toy. So here it is.

Baseball Tonight

And I am not talking about the ESPN program. I simply cannot go home tonight and face this empty house again.

Instead, after I leave work, I am going to walk over to Harbor Park and take in a Norfolk Tides baseball game. Nothing is better than sitting at the ballpark with a beer on a warm spring evening. Except maybe doing it on a hot summer evening.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Lost Day

Wednesday would have been our 10th wedding anniversary. I spent a good part of the day worrying about my friend Tanja, who has been going through a rough patch. By late last night I had talked to her, and she sounded much better, to my relief.

By this morning, my concern for Tanja and the passing of my anniversary had taken their toll. It ended up being "one of those days." I ended up in bed until 3:30 in the afternoon, lacking the will to do anything. I wasn't crying or distraught. I just didn't care. I didn't even call work to tell them I wouldn't be in. I just needed to drop off the earth for 24 hours.

Around five, I went for little 4 mile run, then cooked a hamburger. I am slowly coming out of it and will hopefully have a more productive day tomorrow. This shit really sneaks up on you.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Look, Don't Break my Routine, Okay?

And I mean that. I hate to turn this blog into a poor widow's cry-fest, but there are some things that need to be said.

I feel like I have attention deficit disorder. I cannot remember what I was doing before, and I am not sure what I should do next. Routine is the only way I can keep track of everything I need to do. If anything in my routine is broken, I am off on the wrong track.

Example: This morning, as I was preparing for work, the phone rang. Wrong number, but routine broken. I went back to my business and it was off to work. It wasn't until around 10 AM that I noticed that I had forgotten to put on my anti-perspirent. Ended up spending all day with my arms pinned to my sides. I still hope nobody noticed.

Yesterday, I arrived at work on my motorcycle and was busy taking off my helmet and gloves, when somebody walked up to compliment me on some piece of chrome or whatever. Again, routine broken. Left the keys in the motorcycle and it sat out there all day long waiting to be driven away by anyone that stumbled by it.

And don't even talk to me about going to the grocery store without my list, preferably type-written with a check box by each item and a pencil tied to the clipboard.

Six months ago, I could juggle dozens of complex tasks in my head and they all got done. Now, I need a PDA to brush my teeth.
The widow's world is so hard. Over the past months, I have become fast friends with a widow from Arizona. She is a lovely woman from the Netherlands, raising three girls alone in America after the death of her husband. Her story is compelling, and I am drawn to her.

Today, she took her best friend and fellow Dutch expatriot Kitty to the emergency room. My heart breaks for Tanja, and I pray for Kitty's health. They take care of each other's children, and they need each other. I would love to be there to help, but I really can't right now. I hope someday the three of us can toast Kitty's recovery.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

You know, I had just about convinced myself that nobody really reads this blog, with the exception of the few that wander in randomly. So I have been focusing on other things (read: a woman) for a couple weeks now, and hadn't been paying much attention to blogging. This morning, I received this email:

It's been a week since you wrote in your blog. How about a Harley story on how people perceive you on the road. Friend or foe. The persona of the hells angels in Portsmouth. I miss your prose.
So not only does someone read, they have missed me. Jeez, now the pressure's on to write something.

As far as how people perceive me on my motorcycle, people are generally friendly. To some extent, it is my impression of other drivers that has changed. Specifically, I had no idea how many people are driving around smoking weed.

And one other thing: before you wash your windshield, check your mirror for a biker. I may in fact need a shower, but I will take it for myself, thanks.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

I'm a Lost Addict

My name is Cousin Don, and I'm a Lostaholic.

I know like Alias and the X-files, it will fall apart and be a shell of its former self after a few Seasons.

Yet, I watch or TiVo it week after week, and I'm actually ticked off when they run one of their clips shows to catch people up and bring in new viewers.

The plots are preposterous, coincidences unbelievable, but I still watch.

I wonder if the Mayo clinic has a program for this.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

They Grow Up So Young

From Overheard in New York:
Mother: You know that she has learning disabilities, right? You know what it means when someone has a learning disability?

8-year-old girl: I should get myself a lawyer. No one ever tells me anything.

- 1 train from 86th
Priceless stuff.

Time to get a new dentist

My dentist is in a little trouble:
VIRGINIA BEACH - A 47-year-old man was arrested Friday and accused of sexually abusing two girls for more than seven years, police said. [...]

Lesinski was charged with indecent liberties and aggravated sexual battery.
That guy had his hands in my mouth. Ewwwww!

Update: I am sorry for the self-centered nature of that post. I am, of course, very saddened for these girls if the charges turn out to be true. Dr. Frank is a pretty charming and disarming sort of guy. I wouldn't have thought him to be capable of this. But then I only saw him for five minutes or so every six months.