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Friday, September 25, 2009

once upon a time is on my side of the moon dance with you make loving fun in the sun

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ran about 10 miles last night. It was the latest at night that i've ever run.

The day before this run I was spending time with an in-law who was visiting from Guatemala. We were playing with my iPhone, trying to see where he lived using the Google Earth application. After a few minutes of squeezing and spinning and poking and prodding the globe, I began to think about things from a broader perspective.

Thought about how the earth, for the most part, spins in a constant motion day after day. Not only that, but the gravitational pull of the sun pulls the earth around it, year after year. I thought about how small I am in this entire scheme; while I might get anxious about things like being unemployed for three months or having to run ten miles on a broken ankle, the earth keeps spinning round and round without a care in the world. It has this constant pace and rhythm outside of everything in my life.

As I began my evening run the next day the sun was beginning to set. It was a glorious moment barely explicable with words, and it reminded me of the consistency and rhythm of the earth, how it turns and spins with it's own constant rhythm. I live here, i'm dependent on the earth and am a part of the earth, and so I decided to reach for the same rhythm as the earth. To somehow remind myself, mile after mile, that I too was capable of this tireless rhythm and consistency.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Stockholm Pride Project

Taking a break during an all-night coding marathon, I analyzed my Twitter feed to find out "How Hetero" I was according to the Stockholm Pride Project.

The test was very easy, I just plugged my twitter handle into a form and, blahdow, I'm 66% Hetero. I used words like "karaoke", "crotch", and "montrose beach" in my tweets, and that influenced my score apparently.

Follow me on twitter here.


Friday, June 26, 2009

My Thoughts on Michael Jackson's Death

I thought about quoting my facebook/twitter stream for reactions on the Michael Jackson death, but I'm sure you've already read plenty of your own, as it's hard to find anyone who hasn't updated with thoughts on his death. I was shocked and saddened for a few long minutes, he was a great talent who did contribute many things to pop culture. As a child I loved his songs and idolized his performances. But as an adult I began to see a different side of MJ. I learned that he was also a widely-reported prescription drug abuser whose closest relationships were apparently with a chimpanzee and a succession of young boys.

As a former child welfare worker I've seen first-hand the nastiness that adults can inflict on children. Since then i've never been able to look at Michael Jackson in the same glittery, legendary, light of fame and celebrity that seems to imbue all this recent fb and twitter output of one-sided panegyrics. I'm frustrated to continuously read updates that seem to completely ignore the more complicated aspects of MJ's life. For example, in 1994 he paid a family of a young boy $20 million so that they would keep quiet on allegations of child abuse. Yet again in 2005 he was acquitted of further charges of child abuse. The repeated allegations always made me question his motives and interest in children.

Death is sad, but it's also sad to ignore the life lessons that death leaves us. MJ had a prescription drug problem, and he probably would have lived longer and contributed even more to his incomparable musical legacy if he fought harder for a life of sobriety and wellness. He also exposed millions to the uncomfortable idea of child molestation, and made us wonder if even the most well-loved and respected members of our lives were capable of endangering our children.

Open your eyes, Intanet. While we may not have had to deal with the same pressures and relentless expectations of life-long stardom, and while we may not have had to gone to such extremes as MJ to find comfort or companionship in what must have been a very lonely world, we still have our own problems, and we still have to continue fighting the good fight in order to survive. Use MJ's death to remind yourself and your children of the slippery slope of using drugs, legal or illicit. For anyone who is dealing with suspicions or accusations of child abuse, remember that while MJ was well-loved and respected by everyone, so are most child abusers, as 90% of child abuse perpetrators are trusted friends and members of the family. Let's let MJ rest in peace, but let's not allow his sweet jams or unmistakable iconography tune out an important reminder of the everyday risks and dangers that you, I, and, most importantly, our children have to face everyday.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dreams and bulldogs

There's this quote in this movie. I googled and googled it but I've resolved that I won't remember which movie anytime soon. A man says something like, "I've had the most interesting dream last night," and then his friend responds, "Dreams are always interesting to the party concerned."

I keep dreaming that i've returned to working at the job that I had 3.5 months ago. There was some trivial database error that was corrected, and suddenly i'm back to being gainfully employed. The vicious irony of these dreams is that not only am I loving the job (as I once did) but I am also highly welcomed upon my return and greatly appreciated for my efforts (which I never was, but who is, right?).

What sucks is when I have to wake up. When I do, I return to my unemployed reality, to my shattered ego state, and I spend a significant chunk of the morning trying to salvage the remainder of my sense of worth and pride. In my dreams I had somewhere to be every morning, some goal to achieve, there was a group of professionals that counted on me and I on them. I'm wary to think about how much my current reality contrasts with this scenario.

A dream is just a dream and it's really only interesting to the party involved, but what's with this vicious taunting recurring slideshow? Why am I being forced to be teased night after night like this?

Thankfully we have an English bulldog to lift my spirits. As I ate the breakfast my wife made me this morning, she regaled me with tales of our ceaseless source of amusement, Chomsky. Like most bulldogs, he has an aversion to any sort of prolonged activity. So oftentimes when we go to let the dogs back in after playing in the yard, we'll find him splayed out on all fours in the middle of our deck, motionless except for the panting and wagging of his tongue. This morning was one of those times.

He looks like a miniature bear rug laying in the sun, like he has suddenly lost all motor cortex functioning and is totally OK with that. There's really no care in the world for him and life seems to be mostly about finding the sweetest spot to lay out on the ground spread-eagle. All is simple and straightforward for our baby buddha. He probably doesn't dream or ruminate or have any regrets. No serotonin imbalances or family history of mental illness. The tiny, tiny brain buried somewhere in that fat cranium of his probably doesn't afford much more than a sense of smell, thirst, hunger, and the occasional boner. I guess sometimes in life that's all you really need.

On a related note, here's a link from about five discoveries made while dreaming.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Halfway There

Yesterday I ran my longest distance since since shattering my foot and ankle in several places five years ago.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

100 Miles of Running

Today I logged my 100th mile of running since I started using the Nike+ system to log my miles ran. I started using it around the beginning of this year, when I had a 12'44" minute per mile pace.

Since then I've managed to break under ten minutes. My next goal is to get my pace below 9 minutes per mile, with an (impossible!) longer term goal of running under an 8 minute mile for the Chicago marathon.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Drunkest Nation

A map showing the drunkest nations of the world. Greenland and Nigeria seem the most surprising to me.

From The Atlantic.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What You Need to Know About the Pork Flu

Today I planned to run 6 miles after a second round of interviewing for an internship position at the national headquarters of a highly regarded educational/non-for profit organization. The internship involved some research and web-related stuff, and there was also a need for English-Spanish translation. Let's just say that the pounding I received during this interview made running six miles seem like a walk in the park.

It's not like I wasn't looking forward to this internship opportunity, either.

The mission of the organization, which is to help espouse the educational success of students across the nation, seemed worthwhile to me. Also, it helped that the office was right next to the lake and my gym, and this would've been so convenient for my marathon training.

During my first interview the staff seemed nice, and the office well-run. Everyone I met was cordial and seemed like great people with which to work. I was very delighted and grateful to be asked to come back for a second interview a week later.

The second round of interviewing involved a test of Spanish proficiency. I figured, well, I double majored in the topic, so this should be do-able. Of course, I neglected to emphasize to myself that my Spanish studies ended five years ago, and that I might have had to realign my proficiency in order to meet the level needed for the internship. This became painfully, unsurprisingly clear during the middle of the test in the office.

There I was sitting at a laptop in a conference room taking an online Spanish proficiency test while a staff member, herself a native Spanish speaker, sat next to me, watching my every click. She was silent and polite, probably trying to mask her amazement at the depth and breadth of my displayed stupidity.

Once I finished and submitted the online test, my results were returned as "elemental." Now you might think elemental means the same in English as it does in Spanish. For myself, at least, I tried to - silently spinning the results in my favor. "Maybe this means that I have a great natural, elemental understanding of the language." But no, as it turns out, "elemental" proficiency in Spanish means something along the lines of "you have the proficiency of a caveman*"

After the online test came the written translation test, which was to be written out on paper. "Here," the staff member said to me, "you'll probably want to use a pencil, not pen." She handed me the test, which was to translate a two-page, single-spaced article from English to Spanish. It was titled, "What You Need to Know about the Swine Flu."

The SWINE FLU. FROM ENGLISH TO SPANISH. I tried not to panic - I just interacted with this webapp in El Mundo about the swine flu, so I was hoping for some leftover Spanish osmosis. There was none, and about a minute into the translation the staff member informed me of a ten minute time limit.

"HAMTHRAX" I wanted to write. What You Need to Know About El Hamthrax. I took a stab at translating the article from what I knew, quickly sewing together the first Spanish fragments that came to mind. What I wrote for the title will haunt me for the rest of my life....

"What You Need To Know About the Influenza de Puerco"

Influenza de puerco translates to "flu of pork." I must have written that ten or twelve times, "flu of pork" this, "pork flu" that. The symptoms of pork flu, you ask me in Spanish? Oh I don't know! Something about a cough! And there's this thing that hurts... (I forgot the word for throat in Spanish) ... this thing underneath your chin and inside your neck. I almost wanted to write it in Spanglish, like, "cuando se duele el throat, asi..." and draw little cartoon hands making a choking motion.

Speaking of choking, as soon as the hiring manager walked into the room for the follow-up some time after the test, I knew it was a no-go. She was so nice about it, way too nice. I told her that I completely understood. I was the jerk who should've mentioned that he had Caveman Spanish before wasting her and everyone else's time.

Back down the elevator and on my way back to the car, I swallowed a few lumps in that thing underneath my chin and inside my neck. Geared up in the car and hit the ground running roundabout Navy Pier. About four miles into my run, my right foot kind of started to go numb. Good, I thought. Enough pounding and no more feeling. No feeling = no pain. Give me a few more failed job opportunities and i'll be impervious to the worst of rejections.

Somewhere near the fourth mile Wilco's I Got You (At the End of the Century) came on the ipod and I thought of my wife. There was sand on the pier near Oak Street beach. I got you, I sang to her, and that's all I need.

I got you and I still believe
That you are all I will ever need.

*No offense to cavemen