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Sunday, October 28, 2012

So Where Is She?

Two Races

Good Evening All!

Those of us on the Eastern Seaboard have now battened down our hatches for the second hurricane in two years.  However, as I write, there are no gale-force winds, driving rain, or gigantic hailstones.  Call it reverse Murphy's Law -- when you're Prepared to the teeth for something, it either does not happen or is revealed to be non-threatening.  It's when you're NOT prepared for it that it bites you in the haunches!  Either way, I've stocked up for a storm, and have been assured that the MTA subways have been shut down until further notice.  We await news of its reopening . . . .

Next week, we'll be treated to two races.  One is crucial for the athlete in all of us, and one is even more crucial to the future of our country.

A week from today, I will have completed my 7th NYC Marathon.  Unlike other years, when I've trained with a group in Central Park two nights a week and once every weekend, I've gone it alone.  I used the official 20-week NYRR training program and used it with the MapMyRun app on my phone.

While there may be those who think social media has gone too far, enabling us to track our very movements at any time, I respectfully disagreed.  Every time I've posted my training results, even when I thought I wasn't at my best, there was always somebody giving me a thumbs-up.  It's just a little blip on a screen, a rendering of someone's name, a small helping of bits and bytes, but it's a good thing to see.

Our sport thrives on encouragement and positive reinforcement.  It is through these constant reminders that mere novices are able to gain enough strength and speed to transform their bodies in ways not thought possible.  It is also through these constant reminders that those who may already have some experience in this sport can still rise to yet another level.  So to all my friends, family, acquaintances, confidantes, and otherwise important people, I'd like to thank you in advance for all the likes and comments.  You helped me raise my game this year, and I hope to convert that into a PR next week.

Aaaaand then there's that other race, which will end two days after the fun one.  Yes, the 2012 Presidential Election will finally be delivered to us, the voters, to elect our leaders as can only be done in a democratic republic such as ours.  It's not a day heralded by parades and fireworks, but it is the most important American holiday, second only to Thanksgiving.  In other parts of the world, even to this day, criticism is squashed, dissent is eliminated, and opposition results in death or torture.  Yet here in America, our forebears granted to us the right to select our leaders to govern as we see best, and to elect new leaders if those initially elected cannot succeed.  Or, on the other hand, where the applicable constitution or charter allows, we can re-elect those leaders who have succeeded.

This election will go down in history as one of the most high-conflict, polarizing, and downright ugly elections ever seen.  It pitted two opposite visions of America against each other, and exposed some damning weaknesses on both sides, leading many to lose confidence in the system I praised above.  And through the magic of social media, it has pitted these opposing visions of America against each other with fire and venom not seen since the 1860's (this is meant for dramatic effect, I'm sure there were other eras with more conflict, I just don't leave myself enough editing time to be sure).

But when the final ballot is tabulated, a winner is declared, and a loser concedes, I can only hope that we turn our thoughts to a united America.  I can only hope that those who support the winning candidate can limit their celebrations to one day following the election, and then a little bit more on Inauguration Day, and then turn their attention to the fulfillment of all campaign promises and/or logical and cogent explanations as to why they cannot be fulfilled, and what can be done instead.  I can also hope that those who support the losing candidate can graciously put their angry rhetoric to the side and focus on what can still be done to ensure that their interests can still be  represented with respect and civility towards our democratically-elected leader.

Shocking as it may seem, it's actually easier to run 26.2 miles than it is for us as Americans to set differences aside for the sake of our national interests.  Maybe we could learn from this election how sticking to party lines and engaging in groupthink prevents our nation from moving forward, and make more attempts to avoid this four years from now.

That's my peace, all.  My thoughts and prayers are for the continued safety of everyone who may be in Hurricane Sandy's path.  Stay safe!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Support Breast Cancer Research

Under Your Skin

Hey All -- Double Portion!

No matter what we do, there is always a chance that someone, or something, will get under our skin.  Get our goat, grind our gears, boil our blood . . . or just plain p--- us off!

(sorry all, this is a family blog)

We're only human, so unless we're campaigning for sainthood, we're at least going to feel this reaction emotionally, even if we don't actually express it.  So what's to be done about it, without exposing ourselves to homicide charges?

(A)  NEVER let your anger effect your judgment.  Expressing why you're getting ticked, even a little bit forcefully, is OK, but DON'T let that expression include (1) any kind of cursing; (2) name-calling or slams against the other person (especially not anything that could cost you your reputation); or (3) any sort of threats.  If you must call someone on their BS, call them out only on the specific issues, and don't hit "below the belt."  Chances are, these people are trying to goad you into all of the above, and they're experts in using them against you.

(B)  FIND the breach in your "skin," patch it back up, and heal it. We've all got weak spots, but you don't let them stay weak and vulnerable if you expect to function like a healthy and same adult.  If need be, find a trusted family member or friend to vent to about how it stings and hurts.  Or better yet, open a new page in your journal and let 'er rip.  Write down everything you hate or can't stand about what's happened, and LEAVE it all on that page.  If it's in there, and not bouncing around your cerebral cortex, you've advanced yourself many levels and gotten your "groove" back.  Then get to work on the chink in your armor that allowed a sling or arrow to penetrate, and seal it back the heck up.  Don't leave that area unguarded again if you can help it.

As I've previously posted, anger is only useful from a position of strength.  Unfortunately, many of us will still feel angry when we are not in a position of strength, and can't do anything about it.  The feelings will happen regardless, but we are the only ones who can keep them under control.  Let's not lose the one power we have in that situation.

Yeah, now I'm back up to date -- feel free to comment!

A Good Cause

Hey All -- I know, I know, I've been missing a little bit, but not to worry, The Man Has Returned!  :)

The proliferation of the color pink has become an annual event we expect every October.  And this has nothing to do with a certain relative's favorite color, but everything to do with a worthy cause.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  An especially dangerous cancer, this natural parasite can spread to the bones, causing fractures and spinal cord compression.  It causes the deaths of tens of thousands of women each year, and hundreds of thousands of new cases are diagnosed each year.

This morning, at Jones Beach on Long Island, a 5-mile walk was held to raise continuing awareness, and research funds, to battle and hopefully eradicate this deadly disease.  I was honored to be among everyone else there, and to support research to treat and combat this scourge.

The central purpose of this blog is self-fulfillment and self-acceptance.  However, sometimes it takes extra pride and self-respect to contribute your time or money to a cause that helps others, and may save lives.  Without taking away all that is needed to continue and improve our self-confidence, you'll find an extra boost in pride that can only come from giving to something a little bit bigger than you and me.

If any you have not already done so, I encourage you to donate to the American Cancer Society, or any other organization committed to battling this disease.  And diary this occasion next year to make it an annual event.  Chances are, you may be saving the life of someone close and dear to you, or maybe a friend or relative of someone close and dear to you.

You'll be glad you did.  Trust me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Form and The Fog

Hey All -- wasn't around Sunday night, I was busy doing other things.  However, as a very close friend of mine gently reminded me recently, sometimes it's good to shake things up a little.  :)

There are two groups of extremists who are doomed to failure.  The first group is of those who will only follow the letter of the law, only do as they're told, and refuse to think, reason, surmise, or even guess what is beyond that which is required.  The second group is of those who just let everything go, never show the slightest concern when urgency is needed, expect life to resolve itself without any contribution on their part, and simply, as another close friend of mine put it, "don't give a flyin' fig."

They both SUCK.  They both RUIN things.  And YOU must never be a member of either group!

Members of the first group inevitably find themselves in positions of authority, because they loooooooooooove telling other people what to do.  And sometime in the past, some foolio convinced these people that as long as they spoke in a loud, obnoxious voice and demanded that people do what they wanted, or else, then they'd get respect.  And since them, some even worse foolios proved that first foolio right!  

What's worse as that these types may have been annointed to high stations that cloak them with immunity and impunity, and grant them undeserved authority.  Accordingly, we must be cautious around these types, lest they wreak havoc upon us.  But that doesn't mean we should be afraid of them.  We're able to think beyond "the rules," to use "the rules" to our advantage, to read between the lines of those rules, to give the rules new meanings, and sometimes supersede these glorified camp counselors and maybe, just maybe, change the rules.  

All they can do is blindly follow the rules.  Nice life, jabroni.

And then there's the second group.  These ones just aimlessly tumble through life with no direction, no purpose, no ambition, no desire, and nothing to offer the world.  They are sublimely content with having their major decisions made by others, without a thought to what their lives mean.  While the rest of us responsible types must always be sure that our immediate needs are taken care of, and that every decision is made with a degree of thought, these foolios wander through life "dazed and confused," but always prevented from failing due to the undeserved intervention of those enablers who keep them in a perpetual state of being "saved by the bell."

All they can do is exist.  What's the point?

We all know people like this.  Chances are, we may have been like one of these two extremes, and then woke up and stopped.  But if there's any hope for a life that will be lived by the Four Pillars, in which you Exist, Matter, Belong, and Deserve, you'd better stay out of both camps as much as possible!

You must also Think and Focus.  That doesn't mean you obsess and become anal rententive.  It doesn't mean you freak out over the smallest issue and make everything a problem.  It means you become independent and free-thinking, and that you also don't allow your thoughts to be slowed by distractions or lethargy.

So don't just exist in a fog, and don't just spend your life doing as you're told.  You don't have the luxury.

And let those two extremes handle life their way -- ironically, the members of one camp almost always marry those in the other.  Go Figure!

Have a great night everyone!

Also as a side note, there's a close friend of mine organizing a Breast Cancer walk-a-thon for this weekend.  With that close friend's permission, I'd like to include her link on the blog.  I await that person's permission before doing so.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I Alone Decide

From my darkened and fortified sanctum, from my secret and covert lair,
I watch over all in the world that's mine, I survey my territory far and broad.

I sit high above in my high far tower, rotating and observing my domain below,
Observing all that moves, stretches and transforms, my agents are my faithful eyes and ears.

The data from below is infinite, if I were able I'd digest it every waking hour,
Authority reaching over all that I see, my fiefdom and empire, mine for the taking.

Loyalty and honor the sole requirements, to enter and stay, lest they should dissipate,
Dissent is accepted, in reasonable doses, lest it flame into rebellion, never tolerated.

Only those with respect are admitted here, no blowhards or loudmouths may benefit,
Criticism is only accepted if constructive, cross-examination is strongly discouraged.

Through struggle and strife was my land made free, liberated from the old regime,
Defend and protect it at all costs is a rule hard to translate to times of peace.

So even if my realm is clean and pure, who's there who can share it with me?
Lonely at the top is an understatement, this throne has room for more than one seat.

Who can match my commands and desires with the common sense that I've missed?
Who can soothe my my doubts and fears, and make me more human than ruler?

Queen Esther wisened up the emperor of Persia, Evita brought about a New Argentina,
Josephine charmed the Little General, and Dagny Taggart found who was John Galt.

Who, like them, can match me as an equal, and not be as a taskmaster or a maid?
Who can understand me on all levels, and who can I understand exactly the same?

Who can help me choose my words wisely, and not hastily, when they count the most?
Who can I speak to without fear and worry, but instead with trust and confidence?

The choice is mine, and I will choose wisely, no following or abdicating will come from me,
And even if the choice is mine alone to make, the choice to be alone is my last resort.