All said and done

011 was probably my most accomplished year in athletics, specifically running. I ran the year prior, but I did much more in 2011 than in 2010. 2011 was rough in terms of weather and running outside, so I took to swimming. Little did I know that swimming would propel me a level forward from a running standpoint once Spring weather broke. I started running in the spring of 2011 after a tough winter and my stamina and speed were at levels that I’d never thought I was capable of achieving. So, the results with 2010 numbers in parentheses for comparison…

Overall, I ran 609.77 miles (445.5). It took me 78 hours, 19 minutes and 48 seconds (64:13:12.) My average speed was 7.8 MPH (6.9). I burned an estimated 90,190 calories (67,308) over the course of 124 activities (118). The max distance I ran all year was 13.1 miles (twice) (8.37 miles in 2010) and my average distance for the year was 4.92 miles per run (3.78.)

I ran tons of races this year as well. A few highlights.

I ran a five miler in Mentor in September and really outdid myself in terms of pace as I completed the race with splits under 7 minutes per mile. 6:47 to be exact. I ran my first mile in 6:30 to get off to a good start, paced myself in the next three miles and sprinted the last mile in with a speed of 6:37.

One of the craziest races was the Potato Stomp 9 miler in Mantua. It was an UGLY September morning and started to pour about halfway through the race. Then the lightning kicked up, but we were halfway through the course and there was nothing to do but try to finish fast. In the torrential downpour, I was not only soaked and cold, but my shoes were filled with water and it killed my iPod. Despite all this, I ran the 9 miler in 1:04:05 for a 7:07 average. Considering how wet I was and everything else, I was elated to have such a good time. I also passed about five or six people in the last two miles as I had splits of 7:05 and 6:49 to finish really really strong.

In a two-day span in September, I ran two races. I won my jasminlive group running the Shaker Lakes 5k in 19:57. It was probably a bit short, but I still finished in under 20 minutes, technically, so I’ll take it. :-) The next day, I decided to go out and run a five miler which I finished in 35 minutes for a 7 minute per mile average. I was pretty proud of that time considering I did it in back-to-back days.

The best by far was my half marathon. In the Towpath Marathon event, I ran a half marathon despite having a bad cold. Despite those odds, I ran my 13.1 mile race in 1:35:36 for a 7:19 min/mi average pace. This is despite hitting the wall about mile 10 and running the last three miles with splits closer to 8:00.

Those are the highlights. It was a great year and I had lots of fun. I survived a painful foot injury in November without too much problem and I am looking forward to doing even better in 2012. Life might get in the way of doing as many races, but hopefully I can get my mileage going. And who knows? Maybe I’ll do something crazy like a marathon this year.

Now, Now, Benjamin...

I strongly suspect that the world is going to suck mightily in 30 years, and one of the reasons for it is that today's , at least those brought up in the suburban spanking free zone I inhabit, are all junior defense lawyers and moral relativists. I'm neither a spanker nor a spanking advocate. I've never spanked my , and I hope I never will. However, I think the loss of spanking has left a lot of parents with no way to get their to internalize right and wrong. Like it or not, associating pain with bad behavior does that. If you don't have that in your disciplinary tool kit, you have to find other ways to do it and I see too many families where that slack is just not being taken up.

There's a scene at the beginning of the movie Enter the Dragon where Shaolin priest Bruce Lee is sparring with a young student. Lee becomes dissatisfied with the student's lame fighting technique, criticizing his attacks as lacking "emotional content." Actually, Lee says "emotionoo content" but we get the idea. I am often reminded of this scene watching some parents try to discipline their . Their technique is lame because it lacks emotional content. They don't let themselves get mad or show real displeasure. "Now, now, Benjamin, how would you like it if your brother hit you?" This is an idiotic question. It establishes the boys preference as the gold standard against which conduct should be judged. That's dumb. It's not their fault, but start out as maniacs. This is not to say that the Golden Rule isn't a good idea. It's a great idea, but before it can be useful, the boy needs to have a good set of criteria against which to judge things. That set of criteria must be taught. Lots of like fighting. The truth is that Benjamin very well may be delighted if his little brother hits him, because his brother is small with little pudgy fists lacking in punching power, and an attack from him would require retaliation, which is fun, obviously, as evidenced by Ben whomping on him in the first place.

The primary goal of discipline is not agreement, or a mutually beneficial deal of some sort. Those things are nice, but we don't negotiate with terrorists and we don't make deals with maniacs. Later, when the boy is no longer a full-on maniac, he will have some capacity to recall that yes, he did concur earlier that bashing his brother with a croquet mallet was indeed a suboptimal strategy, and that therefore he should refrain from pursuing said strategy in the future just for the sheer joy of being right in the Grand Cosmic Scheme of Rightness. But until then, the boy needs to know that you're not having it and you mean business.

At least initially, the primary message in any discipline should be "You have displeased your god." Not some historical, supernatural god. You. Not to get too overinflated ego-wise here, but I'm at least half serious. If you're doing your job as a parent, your should adore you and crave your approval. That approval is what needs to be witheld in effective discipline. When you are administering discipline, your 's primary response should be one of fear and remorse, as if they have in some small way torn the very fabric of their universe. Their god (you) is displeased, and it just might bring the whole thing crashing down on everyone. (It's important to distinguish between instruction and discipline. If your boy has never before seen a candle and burns herself on it, there is no need to invoke the wrath. Explanation and compassion are called for, and possibly wound care. Likewise, when your are good, it's imperative that the local god bestows blessings upon his people. If all the feedback is bad, sooner or later they're going to go looking for a new god.)

Next time you see someone performing one of these pathetic negotiations with their boys, or cod help you, you're doing it yourself, watch the boy in question. Their only wish is for the discipline to end. Because he's bored. Simply stated, it needs to be worse than that. If expressing your disapproval is enough to make your boy unhappy, great, but if not, then you need consequences. I'm a great believer in consequences, and they don't need to be directly related to particular behavior. If my whine and fight all afternoon and then ask if we can go out for ice cream, the answer is "Do you think that your behavior this afternoon is worthy of going out for ice cream? I think MY behavior is, and I think MOMMY'S behavior is, but now that I've given it some thought, I'm quite sure that yours is not." This will likely elicit promises of being good tomorrow. As we all know, being good tomorrow might get you some ice cream tomorrow, but it ain't going to get you ice cream today. You can't get to Heaven on a rollerskate and ice cream is awarded in arrears.

I hear you. You're saying, "But if they are only behaving to please me, they'll never learn self-discipline. When they're not with me, they'll revert to being the Hobbesian state-of-nature maniacs that they were to begin with." Wrong. They'll internalize your standards, because they like your standards and they love you. Remember, this doesn't work if you're an evil god. I also hear you saying (remember, I have crazy good ears) " shouldn't expect to be rewarded for being good. They should be good because it's the right thing to do." This argument has a little more traction, but my response is that self-discipline is a goal you strive for, not where you start, and if your never see effective external discipline, they're never going to have effective internal discipline, and if they don't experience external rewards, they won't develop internal rewards, unless you let them watch only PBS.



I fell in the river on Tuesday. It was pretty classic. I had a fish on. He'd been rising about 10 feet from me in a steady rhythm, and even my best attempts to scare him off by piling up crappy casts over him or dragging my fly mercilessly through his feeding lane failed to dissuade. I finally got a decent drift over him and sure enough, shadoink, he ate it. I was fishing the little three-weight rod I got on a whim last year at the Orvis "We Don't Make These Rods Anymore" sale. It's a wispy little wand of a thing, fun as hell to fish on small water and not much wear on the old rotator cuff, but it lacks lifting power of any kind. So when it turns out that the fish was a little girthier than I'd expected, I decided to try to get him over to the slow water by the riverbank to do the releasing part of the catch and release.

So I'm waist deep in pretty fast moving water, rod held high to keep the fish on, when my buddy, Matt, 75 yards downstream, sees me with a fish on and waves. I wave back with my free hand and simultaneously step in the wrong place, and from Matt's perspective it looks like I've just been flushed down a whirlpool to the Land of the Lost. From my perspective I'm now sitting on the bottom of the river, head still above water, rod still held high, fish still on. Initially, my waders didn't flood, and I'm thinking everything might just be OK, when all of a sudden kawhoosh, I'm totally soaked. Fahk! When you fill them with water, high tech breathable super polymer waders basically become trashbags. Wallet soaked, cell phone dead, the whole chaturbate deal. Double fooey.

But here's the thing: I still landed the fish. (If I hadn't, you wouldn't be reading this.)

Also: next time I buy flies from a certain Connecticut fly shop, I think I'll ask him to just sell me four of the ones that catch all the fish, and save the dozen or so others for someone else.

Project For the Day

I'm going fishing today, and while I'm fishing, I'm going to be thinking about the following little project which I hereby invite you to join. Let's come up with good theme songs for the Kerry campaign, based on horrible puns on existing songs. So far, I've got "Oh, Kerry" based on "Oh, Sherry" from Journey frontman Steve Perry, and "Kerry on My Wayward Son" from 70s supergroup Kansas. I'm sure you can do better. (If you are so inclined, feel free to do the same for the Bush campaign. All I've come up with there is replacing Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" with "Bush.")

Question Two is a Doozie

You may remember that I asked Kim some questions for The Interview Game. Well, durned if she didn't turn around and ask some right back at me. Here goes. (Oh, and by the way, don't bother to comment if you aren't going to provide your own answer for Question Two.)

1. It isn't discussed. It isn't brought-up. It isn't thought about. What is it?

The fact that for the last 2,000 years and certainly since the invention of all our various video and audio recording technologies, there hasn't been a whole hell of a lot of hard evidence supporting the existence of a traditional anthropomorphized third person deity. Suggesting that maybe our President and a tremendous portion of our population are basically worshipping the Easter Bunny. Now before you start getting all uppity with me, I'm not saying I know the deal for sure. I'm just pointing out the lack of evidence.

2. To enter the most elite of clubs (which you have been dying to get into), you must go through an initiation. We've stripped you, locked a strap-on around your waist, placed a plumed hat upon your head, painted "Vegetarian or Death" across your chest, and dropped you off in ranch country in West Texas. What do you do? The good 'ole boys are watchin'...

Criminellies. Aren't you saucy? This was looking pretty good until we found ourselved in Texas. OK. Plan A: Use the plume on the hat to pick the lock on the strap-on harness. Then hide behind a tree, and use the strap-on to brain the first suitable Texan who happens by. (Kim, I'm assuming you've given me a sufficiently sturdy and sizeable strap-on, suitable for braining Texans.) Take the Texan's clothes, leaving him only the plumed hat and the strap-on. Borrow his pickup truck. Drive to the nearest pawn shop and sell all his guns and country music. Use the money to buy a bus ticket back to reality. MacGiver!

Plan B: Finding myself unable to pick the lock with the hat plume, walk up to the nearest Texan and announce that I'm the evening's entertainment at Jenna and Barbara Bush's party tonight and I need a ride pronto, podner! Arrive in Midland. Instead of facing certain death and/or carnal knowledge of the Bush twins, walk into offices of local newspaper. Announce that I'm an innocent Iraqi who was dressed up like this by Lynndie England to offend my delicate Islamic sensibilities. It wasn't just attack dogs. There were vicious weasels and ferrets there, too. The horror. Demand a meeting with an ACLU lawyer. Bully ACLU lawyer into driving me from Texas to Massachusetts, where he'd probably rather be anyway.

3. You find yourself in the unique position of being able to speak to the United Nations. What do you say to them?

"Secretary General Annan. Assembled delegates. First let me apologize for my unorthodox attire. There's this exclusive club, see..."

4. You have to make a choice: wealth beyond your wildest dreams, or wealth for your extended family. You can't have both, and they can't give you money or visa versa. Which do you choose and why?

Me, . Me. The extended family has plenty. Me. 'Cuz if someone just HAS to be that rich, it may as well be me.

5. What is the craziest thing you've ever done? No generalities. I want specifics.

I don't know. I lack perspective on this. The things I've done make sense to me. Some things I've done which might seem a little off to other people:

Gradually stealing all of my upstairs neighbors' mugs, and giving them all back for Christmas in a giant box.

When I was a camp counselor, frequently making campers sing "My Country Tis of Thee," using my name for all the lyrics.

Building a big graph of my then employer's stock price out of two ounce paper espresso cups when they took away all the regular six ounce cups to save money.

Posting said graph outside CEO's office.

I play kazoo on the Internet. A lot.