Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Random Updates and Thoughts

Dear Mark

I've been a pretty busy older brother. Rather than spending my times worrying about you, as big brothers are apt to do, I've been busy with work, family and just things in general. I can hardly believe that the first month of 2013 is almost in the books. I have some updates and usual randomness below. Most of it making fun at your expense, but like I said, "Older Brother." I hope things are well for you and that you three are weathering the winter storms. I have plans to come to Boston in March. In doing so I hope to avoid all that silly winter seasonal weather.

New Year's Resolutions
I'm happy to say that most of my resolutions are still going strong. Good work out schedule and picking up a bit more. Eating a tad bit more healthy during the week. Taking time to relax and enjoy has been the best. Nights at home with the family and finding different things to do with Jack has been great. It is the wet winter months so we've been playing a lot of board games. I had a great time last weekend playing Sequences and Blockus one wet afternoon while drinking some hot apple cider and listening to music. Truly enjoyable.

17 Years
Lavinia and I celebrated our anniversary. We've known each other since 1992 and have been married 17 years. That amount of time is longer than some people have been on this earth, which only accelerates my gray matter. Funny enough aging seems to bounce off Lavinia as she continues to be the face of youth and beauty I met back in a UW classroom in 1992. We had a nice dinner out while Jack had a sleep over with the Grandparents.

Judgment 
I mentioned the wet winter month that we are having. It has been cold by Seattle standards, which are of course laughed at by your east coast standards, but bite me. It's been cold. I have stood in silent judgement of some of my fellow Seattleites. It's cold enough that you see wool hats, scarves, north face coats and pants. All of it accompanying flip-flops and no socks. Take that in. Really get that picture in your head. Then envision me slapping that individual with their wet flip-flop.

Jack seems to be the typical kid that wants to wear shorts all the time. We had a teaching moment the other day. We were going to head out for a walk on a cold sunny afternoon. He began his protest to the oppression that was "pants" pleading that I just didn't understand his plight of freedom. I asked him to join me on the deck for a moment to discuss the matter. In seconds he was cold and asked to go inside. I informed him that he was dressed fine according to his own words and that we should finish the conversation. He quickly admitted that I was right, went in got on his pants and off on our walk we went. Score one for Dadna!

More to come. I've several letters started but I need time to make a point. I hope you all are well. Please write back soon so you Mother will be insured you still know the written language.

Love,
Jeff



Saturday, January 12, 2013

Come run with me


Dear Mark

I was thinking you should come along on a run with me. I've been putting in the miles again this New Year. I started it off with a 8.5 mile run on 1/1 and I've managed 18-20 miles a week since. Legs are feeling good. I even enjoy the cold weather to run in. I've even been out running with Rod which is a lot of fun. I have a group at work that I manage to get out with for a lunch time run around Lake Union 1-2x a week. 

I never would have thought after all the bicycling that I've done that I would be running more miles per week than riding. I giggle when people try to give me the winter weather as a reason to not ride when I use to commute 12 months a year. I think it comes down to time. Pre-Jack Lavinia and I had more time on our hands. Post-Jack, not so much. Not out of obligation or being stuck, not that at all. We both just want family time and enjoy that so much. I find when I have time to go for a 4 hour ride that I'd rather play Legos. 

When I run by myself I have tunes going. It's a pretty random shuffle mix. I've talked about it before. I think I'm only one on the planet that mixes Shakira (en espanol) with AC/DC and Lionel Richie with Living Colour, but I do. Most of the songs I listen to make me giggle and smile. When I ran the half marathon this past year with Rod we would take turns stating what song were listening to. He too has some random, but great, choices. 

I like running with my friends but I also enjoy a good solo run. What is missing most from the time not cycling is not my precious saddle sores as you would suspect but the time alone in my head to decompress and think. I always value that when I ride. It's like a mini mediation session rolled into an asthma fit. 

Here's the latest set of songs I listened to while running Lake Union. I thought you might understand some of the song choices. I suspect you'd have some rocking Gaelic fiddle music in your mix, followed by your secret stash of Goodness songs, mixed in with some Pearl Jam. I do wonder what Power Pop star/band you would have. You'll have to share that some time. 

Kim the Waitress - Sister Psychic
Starting out with this song was awesome. Always makes me think of Lavinia. I have this whole MTV video thing with her, me and Rod at the old Crocodile Cafe

Type - Living Colour
Always in the shuffle, a good driving song. The pace picks up a bit. 

Take Her Out Again - Alice In Chains
I actually liked the latest Alice record. It was nice to see Jerry Cantrell making music again. This song drives hard and sounds good. 

Cowboy Bebop Theme - Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts
I don't know if you have ever watched this Japanese Anime show. It's pretty good and the theme song is kicking. Check the link

Beautiful Day - U2
To me this song is about being hopeful and having optimism. nuff said. 

Beyond the Horizon - Screaming Trees
I'm a closet fan of these guys and this is one of my favorites from the earliest album. 

Scratch - 7 Year Bitch
If I was a baseball player this is the song I'd have the stadium operator play as I came to the plate. Awesome.

Cult of Personality - Living Colour
The only repeat band here this day, and while that shows iTunes shuffle is for crap, I was okay with it. 

All Along the Watchtower - Bt4
This version was on season 3 of Battlestar Galatica. I know it's sci-fi heresy but that was the season I gave up on BSG. The first 2 were really good, but the writers strike that year really hurt the show. Still this version of the song is hauntingly good. I never thought I'd own another version behind Jimi and Bob, but there you go. Thank Coverville too for playing it. 

There's Only One Way To Rock - Sammy Hagar
Indeed Sammy, indeed. I do find it funny that Sammy solo came up before any Van Halen. 

Espionage - Green Day
From the "Spy Who Shagged Me" soundtrack. This is all instrumental and a kicking beat to run to. 

Symphony of Destruction - Megadeath
I'm getting a bit tired of this isn the shuffle, but it rocks hard and the bass line drives. 

Space Age Love Song - Flock of Seagulls
This song is the reason for the post. As I'm finishing my 6 miles this song comes along. There isn't a song in the shuffle I like more. The reason is that it makes me think of Lavinia and how much I not only Love her but how amazing it is to remember falling in Love with her every day. I'd say it's our song but she's not a huge fan, we've never danced to it, but some how the lyrics just take me there. 

I think I must look like a simple grinning fool as I run. Other runners must wonder what I'm on. "What am I on? Good memories, what are you on?"

Still, on your left, 
Jeff 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fallen Hero


Dear Mark

We read a lot of comics for sure. We both love 'em and still read/collect today. The stories and the art are fantastic. I have enjoyed watching Jack's curiosity in comics grow too. Instead of a book a week ago before bedtime, we read a (age appropriate) Avengers comic. The stories of Spider-man are my favorite. Perhaps it's Uncle Ben's famous line of "with great power comes great responsibility" and Peter's unwavering hold to his moral code that resonates, or that he can shoot webs because that part is cool. It's likely his smart alec comments that we love actually now that I think about it. 

One thing that seems to come up in comic stories is that the hero has so much to battle through. They fall to defeat and are in despair. Often unsure if they have been chosen for greatness or set up to disappoint their loved ones. Of course Spider-man just makes with the quips, remembers Uncle Ben and then goes all spidey-punch on the bad guy and wins while at the same time losing because JJ paints him as a menace. 

Recently one of my heroes fell down. Fell down, hit the ground, skidded, got stampeded, hasn't gotten up, seems to have acquiesced to being beaten and frankly I was stunned. I'm talking not about a comic book hero, but Lance Armstrong. 

Lance Armstrong cheated. 
My cycling hero cheated. 
His cycling gains were all a result of cheating. 

That sucks. 

You know that I have been his fan for so long that you can probably guess how much his non-admission, that is an admission, along with volumes of evidence, eye witnesses and other compelling evidence, has struck me. Sure it's old news as of today, but frankly I have not really talked to you about it. 

Lance's rise after beating cancer and winning the TdF was epic. Hollywood could not have convinced us of that story in 1999. Yet, there he was on the podium in Paris. What followed was nothing short of astonishing. 7 straight TdF wins, stage wins that were epic, famous moments ("The Look") and the rise of American cycling. He looked to have the right training, the right approach to winning the TdF, to building the right team. He even pulled a Michael Jordan and came out of retirement and stood on the podium again in 3rd place. Just amazing. 

Then in 2012 it all fell apart. This person who I rooted for. Whose poster was up in my office for 10 years. Whose books I bought and read and took training inspiration from. I wore his jersey for pete's sake. I bleed USPS blue during those victories. I had his Livestrong bracelet on for 8 years. He didn't just fall down, he got smacked down. He's been accused before, but this time he just took the hits. There is a moment during Mt. Biking when you are about to crash, the forest is quiet, you see all around you and then WHAM! pain as you hit the trail. You learn to get back up. "The reason we fall down is so we can learn how to get back up." Lance hasn't gotten back up. 

I'm a little ashamed to admit that the news of his downfall put me in a funk for a bit because I was just in disbelief. I took down the poster in my office. Seemed right to do that. Seemed everyone who has ever seen me in bike tights (and lets face it, that's a lot of people) asked my opinion. "Jeff, can you believe it?" "Jeff, do you think it's all true?" "Jeff have you talked to Lance?" "Jeff are you racing the TdF again?" (some people don't get cycle racing). 

I wanted to share stories with Jack about him.
After being a Seattle Sports fan I wanted to be associated with a winner (too harsh?)
I was a fan of Lance, as much as cycling itself. 
More than that, I was a believer. 

Maybe that part sucks the most. I believed in him. I believed he could be clean. I believed that his journey through cancer made him some how above this. A person who stares at Death and says "see you on my terms later" and walks away from Death couldn't possible stoop that low could he? I defended him every year. I had reasons that made sense of why I didn't think he cheated. He has better training. He was more focused. He was smarter. He built a better team. Riding with one testicle must be the reason. In hindsight it looks like I was reaching. I must have sounded stupid. 

All of cycling cheated, some still do. It seems as if Lance was the only one cheating, but he wasn't. We need to remember that. In fact half of his teammates turned evidence on him. You look back at his 7 titles and there is only 2 individuals among all the podium finishers who have not been implicated in cheating. Sad. 

So what do you do when your hero falls down? When Spider-man was in despair he threw his suit away, only to remember his responsibility a few pages later. When things were down for Batman he remembered that the "mission was not over." When Hulk got upset… okay when Hulk gets upset he just hits things and there is no real lesson there, but I'm saying.. I get it. 

Lance is going to have an interview with Oprah soon. Some say he'll confess. Some say it won't be enough. Others say he'll be sued to an inch of his life. I don't care. He cheated,but it seems like he'll get a marketing chance to save his reputation. Although he was on Oprah once. He lied to her. Last person to do that she brought back on her show and made him apologize. Lance may get his butt handed to him along with his one remaining testicle. 

At the end of it all I know that Lance used drugs. In 1995 when he went through chemo and beat cancer, a cancer that by all accounts should have killed him, he used drugs. He was suppose to. In doing so he climbed the biggest podium in life. He beat Death. 

Looking back I wished the story stopped there. It would have been a better memory of him than the one I have today. 


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Mom still carries a Red Marker

Dear Mark

Do you remember growing up how we learned more about grammar and writing from our mother than any teacher we had? I'm not insulting our teachers but more just giving Mom the credit for what writing skills I do have. I mean I did put them to good use in getting my History degree in college. That was 100% writing. I'm finding in this day and age that the auto-correct and grammar checking devices we have now built in are starting to make me sloppy. I make mistakes, no don't laugh I do. It's true. I'll usually make at least 3 grammar mistakes before I have my second cup of coffee each day. (I just now had to go back and change "grammer" to "grammar" 4x, sigh)


As I write more to you I think the only true fan of our little blog effort is our Mom. Oh sure I get some analytic hits from Kansas (thanks Katie) and a few in Utah (I know you are reading Jeannie) and I'm still not sure who our fan in the former Soviet Union is but I trust he/she is enjoying the reads. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad Mom reads. It's just funny that she still is my best grammar checker. Here's evidence in a little email I received last night.

Dear Jeff,

I just found your new posts and read them all.  Loved it.  It has been a long time since the new deck was posted.  I especially loved the little fun things that popped in unbeknownst to you:

Wallmart greeter/hugged would be a good use of your special skillet
I can just imagine you with a skillet in hand beating back the customers.

I'm taking that attitude into 2013 and plan to do good thinks
Well, Lord knows thinking is the best way to get somewhere in this world.

Coach Chuck Know
Had he, we might have gone to the Super Bowl a long time ago.

Now if we could only get your brother to post something.

Love
Mom 
Well Mom, I love you too and I'm glad you got my back. If you were a superhero you'd be "THE HYPHEN!" Or maybe the "THE CORRECTOR!" and you would run around the city with your red marker of justice correcting wrongs and occasionally correcting copy for the local news rag. 

Mom's affect on our writing doesn't stop at the Red Marker. I mean how else do you explain our love for Scrabble. I mean is there anything better than the smell of the wood letter trays, the rattle of the letters in the bag and slapping down the an 8 letter word on a triple word score that would make an old lady mutter a curse under her breath (not you Mom, you don't curse, nor are you old, grin). I mean I just love the smell of Scrabble tiles in the morning, smells like... victory. Did you know Jason is actually afraid to play her in Scrabble. She is L-E-G-E-N-D (8 points). 


In fact her influence makes the following clips from one of my favorite sitcoms funny. I love grammar humor! 





Well, I need to wrap it up. I'll grab our game on Words with Friends and "give you the spelling thrashing of a lifetime you deserve Smithers!" 


Cheers (11 points) 


Jeff 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

SeaTurkeys

Dear Mark

Out in your area people just buy tickets in January because they expect the Patriots to make the playoffs. It's automatic and the people just take it for granted. You know who I'm talking about, the  women in their Tom Brady jerseys that they don't tell their husbands they sleep in and the men who are just glad to have some thing to cheer about after another pathetic Red Sox season of empty promise.  Out here on the West Coast your hometown team the Seattle Seahawks have made it to the playoffs. Who would have know it? The team was not a contender starting the season. Too many 'ifs' and what not. We had a rookie QB, untried defense full of promise, a running back who makes getting hit by a truck look like a viable option in comparison, and a pair of cornerbacks that on paper scared people. Well, it seems to all have come together. In a season that saw 5 rookie QBs start, our QB is the only one still playing.

Lavinia and I were married on Super Bowl weekend (17 years ago) and I really have not invested in a football season since then. I followed the team via the news and silently rooted when they went up against Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl, but I've never invested the time. This year for some reason our new quarterback got me interested again. Russel Wilson is a 3rd round pick from Wisconsin and the dude is quite impressive. Here's a good write up on him. I really like his leadership. He has what a lot of old school quarterbacks had and it is really helping the Team.



I like rooting for this guy, almost as much as I like rooting for Zorn, Largent, Kreig, Easley and Green. I remember getting excited when it was 3rd down and Dan Dornick was in the game. I liked knowing that Norm Johnson was not only gonna make the field goal but look tougher because he wore a real helmet unlike other kickers. I remember thinking that if Coach Knox suited up he'd probably kick a large amount of butt on the O-Line just by staring hard at the defensive back.

As this year has gone by I find myself wanting to watch the game. Of course I record and catch up because watching that many commercials is just silly. I think I'm getting excited for all the fans that have sat in the stands enduring some really awful teams in past 10 years.

I still can't say I like being in the NFC. It seems wrong. I still hate the Broncos, the Chiefs, the Raiders and the Chargers more than I hate the 49ers, Rams and Cardinals. I mean, who wouldn't right? Still the division rivalry is good and I almost dislike the Rams as much as the Raiders... almost. A perfect season would be one where the AFC West implodes on it own and they apologize for it.

I had not realized that this weekend's win in Washington D.C. was our first playoff road victory in 30 years. The last one was a win in Miami over the Dolphins in 1883. I remember watching that game. Coach Chuck Knox, Curt Warner and John L. Williams in the background. Never knowing which Dave Krieg was going to show up, the one that would pass for 5 TDs or fumble and give away 4. If I recall it right Steve Largent had not had a catch in the game until the very end. He caught a 30 yard on the sideline at the 3 yard line and we got the touchdown for the win next play. I remember sitting on pins and needles at home in the basement. 30 years is a long time to wait to get a monkey off your back.

Speaking of flashbacks, in the game the Redskins QB hurt his knee. He was already hurt and it just caught up with him. It was a flashback to another Redskin QB, Joe Theisman, who broke his leg in a MNF game years ago (like in the 80's). I remember ABC kept showing the break over and over and over again. It was painful. But when a guy is in on the ground that long you have to cover the air time right? Well they did the same with RGIII. And because I like consistency here are pictures of both.




To both I say OUCH!

I do hope RGIII recovers well. This rookie quarterback will have a great career. I've already forgiven him for kicking the Huskies butt last year in the bowl game against Baylor. He's classy for a young player and I wish him well.

Here's one of the best summaries of the game for me. Reading Tuesday Morning Quarterback on ESPN.com they say this about Russel Wilson:

Sweet Play of the Week: The host Redskins leading 14-13 with 10 minutes remaining, Seattle faced third-and-5 on the Washington 27. RG III was playing hurt, but so was the Bluish Men Group kicker. Marshawn Lynch took an inside handoff, then cut outside. Lynch and quarterback Russell Wilson saw a lane to the end zone -- and Wilson sprinted ahead of Lynch to get the final block, the touchdown and the winning points. Quarterback not only gets a big block, he outruns his own tailback. Sweet.

I guess I have enjoyed the season because it reminds me of us sitting with Dad watching the games as kids. The laughter and the drama of watching the game. Hearing Dad yell "get him you Turkeys!!" and Larry some how able to call for a fumble when we needed it (special power, special responsibility indeed), even Mom getting involved and cheering for that wholesome Steve Largent (do we know if she liked that he was a Christian Republican later? Check on that). Jack roots for them and calls the Seahawks his "hometeam" when we are watching.

Next week we have Atlanta in Atlanta. The Seahawks are playing well and hopefully they can muster another win, if for no other reason that I really enjoy seeing the 12th man flag fly on top of our Space Needle. And maybe because if we make the Super Bowl we can kick the crap out the Patriots again like we did earlier in the year.


Cheers,
Jeff

Friday, January 4, 2013

Holiday look back

Dear Mark

This year's holiday season went quite well. I was off from work 2 full weeks and spent a lot of time with Jack and Lavinia. This year's Santa photo was awesome. I think after purchasing them over the past few years the sticker shock was not as bad. I'll also say that when you see the photo below you can't help but buy it. Jack was super sweet and well behaved getting his photo taken.



Just wanted to really share the photo with you as this first week of 2013 wraps up.

Cheers
Jeff

Thursday, January 3, 2013

One day at time...

Dear Mark,

Following on yesterday's thought of giving 2013 a good effort, I think one key will be taking it easy. I don't mean being lazy, although there will be times for sure but more that I need to keep a good focus on some short term daily objectives. A small list of things to accomplish that can provide me with success.

It is kinda of funny. I don't think of myself as intense or even Type-A in any way. All the talent evaluations and skill assessments or career predictor tests are less likely to say "Will own successful start-up" and more apt to say "Wallmart greeter/hugged would be a good use of your special skillset." Yet over the years when I look at my accomplishments and goals they are big. Ride across the country on my bike, didn't even blink. MBA with zero undergrad studies in business? Seems doable. Getting a Panamanian Lady to not only marry me but live in Seattle, with its lack of sun? Well there I was just lucky, but still shows that I'm not intimidated to go for it.

I think to give 2013 the best shot I need to dial it back and get some wins in the bag. Not huge wins, but some wins. Yes, that's the plan.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Rear View Mirror

With luck that large thud you heard was the door hitting 2012 in the butt as it left the building. I've embraced my new friend, 2013, already and I'm looking forward to working with it in the year to come. I was so ready for a change that I began to need 2012 to be over. I can cite several reasons like work, health, the gray season that is Seattle's Fall, Winter, and Spring (with showings throughout Summer too just for giggles), but that discussion doesn't allow the point, I was ready for 2013.

I wanted to start fresh. Get ahead of the curve. Mix it up again. Some how I needed a new start line to do that. But why? Why did I need to pull out of the race in order to race again? I truly detested 2012 on many levels, none having to do wi anything Mayan, but was it really so bad I had to give up?

Looking back 2012 was full of fun and very memorable times
- Disneyland trip with Lavi and Jack was exceptional.
- half marathon with Rod and a sub 2 hour time was a great goal achievement.
- Really enjoying times with Family and friends.
- being able to visit Mark, Siobhan and Fiona 3x this year.
- great trip to Panama that was special in many ways for Lavi.
- Jack at age 4-5 has just been a ton of fun.
- the list goes on...

So was 2012 all that bad? I think not. I think my attitude needs to improve in some areas, and I'll work on that. Overall, it is all good. I'm taking that attitude into 2013 and plan to do good things.

Ready or not, here I come.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad