How I Know I’ll Be Married A Long Time

It’s not secret that two things that really pull on my wife’s heart strings are puppy dogs and little, gray-haired old men. Then there’s puppy dogs who resemble little, gray haired old men (as in these). She can barely stand to look at them without running the risk of getting emotional.

However, it’s the fact that she can get teary eyed at the death of a digitally animated lizard on a science fiction television show that wins me over. I mean, who can’t love a woman who truly empathizes with a C.G. monster that is killed on television? That’s just one reason why I know we’ll be marred for a long time.

Update 12/1/2005 — Apparently, Angela isn’t the only one who felt a special connection to Nimrod. Thanks, Dooce.

Happy Thanksgiving

Angela and I have my mother visiting us for a week this Thanksgiving. The three of us went out to the University of Richmond for the annual Turkey Trot 10k this morning. What a great way to kick off the holiday. U of R is one of the most beautiful campuses in the country and, as we will all agree, also one of the hilliest. However, it was cool and sunny and we all had a great time. We also were able to run the hills in time that are even worth posting on the internet:

  • Jason – 56:28
  • Angela – 1:20:00
  • Brenda – 1:32:34

What’s more, we even all finished feeling great. We stopped off at Starbucks for some celebratory coffee and snacks. Now, we’re going to enjoy sitting around the house and hang out in the back yard some before starting some dinner preparations.

Angela's Thanksgiving Menu

Angela’s menu this evening consists of a free-range Turkey, green beans, beer rolls, potatoes au gratin, stuffing and pumpkin pie. Note, that is supposed to be a turkey, as interpreted by Angela.


We all went to see the Christmas lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond’s Northside. The lights were really well done and there was a lot of variety to them; more than you might expect from just Christmas lights. I took a lot of photos, but sadly I still have a lot to learn about nighttime photography. However, you can see some of the better ones in a new photo-set I’ve added on Flickr.

Incidently, if you aren’t already doing so, you should try using the recently added feature in Flickr for ordering prints of photos. I was even able to pick them up at the Target just down the street within an hour of placing the order (although I think you can also have them mailed). The price is great and the quality is really quite good, too. For 15¢, it’s almost as cheap as printing them yourself and might even be less hassle.

2005 Fall TiVo Season

Another Fall is coming, and with it a slew of new shows on our TiVo.

Another Fall is upon us, and with it a slew of new shows on our TiVo. Many of them are me-too copies of last years success stories. I sat down on the sofa one night a few weeks ago to create some new Season Passes in the TiVo. The obvious intention here was to record some shows that I thought might be worth watching this year. Now, I’ve actually been hunting-and-pecking on this post for about two months now (since September), which explains why it’s so long. However, I figured there’s no point in breaking it up now.

Science Fiction

Angela and I recently got the first season of ABC’s Lost on DVD (see also ABC’s site).. I had downloaded the first part of the pilot episode over bit torrent in the Spring to check out what all the buzz had been about1. I was really impressed. It is a very stripped down and elegant suspense drama. While there are no overt sci-fi or horror elements, you get the feeling that aliens from another world, dinosaurs, or zombies are about to pop up from behind a tree at any moment. I highly recommend this DVD set for your next 24 hour obsess-o-thon. So far, the second season is not disappointment, either. In the same vein of The X-Files, one of my all-time favorites, for every answer you get, at least two new questions are raised. Maddeningly addictive stuff. So far, this season has been just as mysterious and fascinating.

This brings me to the fact that sci-fi is seeing some resurgence on television this season, with three (count ’em, three!) alien invasion shows: Threshold on CBS, Surface on NBC, and the subtlety named Invasion on ABC. I’ve set the TiVo to record the first two on their first-run time slots. Invasion is up against Law & Order on Wednesday nights, which is a pretty dumb move in my opinion. Who puts a 120-pound teenager up to fight the 500-pound gorilla of network cop-shows, even if the genre is different? Well, at least they (CBS) have the good sense to re-broadcast the show on the following Saturday evening (or at least they were for a while, and Sci-Fi Channel is re-broadcasting Surface, which is very cool).

Anyway, I was looking most forward to Threshold, which centers on a super-secret government team which was put together following a protocol for the event of an alien invasion. The author of the protocol, Dr. Molly Caffrey (played by Carla Gugino), is the commander of the Red Team. Very early in the show, we learn that the aliens mean us harm and it is up to the Red Team to stop them, but if only they new how. I was excited about Surface, if for no other reason than it has an ensemble cast that included Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent), Brent Spiner (Star Trek TNG‘s Data), Charles S. Dutton (Roc and Alien 3), among others. All things being equal, an ensemble cast lends itself to much richer and more complex plot lines and an nearly endless supply of sub-plots. Further, those are some damn fine actors. Of course, that all then depends on the writers. So far, after watching four or five episodes of Threshold, I’m not so impressed with the writing. The techno-babble jargon feels like just that; just a bunch of words that neither the writers nor actors seem to comprehend the meaning of (which was always my problem with Star Trek2). Also, the whole plot-line seems to have a less gritty feel than I would prefer for this sort of show. One reason for perhaps all of this is the fact that Brannon Braga, producer of the past few Star Trek incarnations, is the Threshold‘s producer (although he’s recently announced no more Trek for him, for now). This might explain why it has some of the feel of Deep Space Nine or Voyager, which aren’t a couple of my favorite shows. Lastly, while a two-hour series premiere was great, since then I can’t help but feel like that was setting up the formula for the rest of the episodes: aliens are loose, tune in each week as the cast captures the next one. That sort of thing may work for Law & Order or a sitcom, but not on a drama. The plot has been developing somewhat, but nothing that is really making me come back each week. I’ll keep my hopes up and keep watching, but I think this show’s got a short lifespan.

So far, Invasion is my pick of the three. The show is the story of a small Florida town in the Everglades recovering from a recent hurricane, which brought with it some mysterious lights. A large portion of the town’s citizens begin to act slightly differently after the storm. Focusing on the lives of the extended family of two ex-spouses, the show is full of mystery revealed in increments just large enough to believe and just small enough to make you want more. The show has a cast of mostly as-yet-not-known actors. The only actor I was at all familiar with was William Fichtner, who plays the stone-faced Sheriff. The characters here seem to have so much depth and personality. This, along with incredible cinematography, gives the show has a much more appealing and realistic tone when held up to the light and compared to Threshold. Also, I enjoy the slowly unfolding plot line here, as opposed to the dumped-in-your-lap-and-clean-up style of Invasion. Each episode leaves me more interested than the last and dying to know what’s going on.

Over at the once drama powerhouse that is NBC, there’s Surface, which is a story about a series of individuals who have each, in different ways, come to realize that the world’s oceans are now host to remarkably large sea creatures. The show focuses on a marine biologist from Carolina (Dr. Laura Daughtery, played by Lake Bell), a good ‘ol boy from Louisiana (Rich Connelly, played by Jay Ferguson), and a teenage boy in South Carolina (Miles Bennett, played by Carter Jenkins). These characters, along with the rest of the cast are excellent in the show. While Bell seems a little uncomfortable with the scientist role, she handles the jargon better than most on Threshold. The CG effects for the creatures are sometimes a little goofy and I get the impression that these things are really just Falkor from The Neverending Story. However, the writing is good, the acting engrossing, and the score by W.G. Snuffy Walden, who wrote the theme to The West Wing, is some of the best music on any television show. I’m sure to tune in each week for this show.

Smallville is hands down the best Superman on film (with add due respect to the late Christopher Reeve, it wasn’t his fault, it was the directors’). Shows why television is a great medium for comic book style serialization. The new film is going to have a rough time convincing people that Tom Welling and the rest of the cast shouldn’t have been in it. Plus, as Angela keeps reminding me, this show has some really good looking people on it.

Back for one last season is my generation’s favorite TV-girl kicking butt on Charmed. (Yes, me and many of my friends discovered that we really did like girls by watching Allysa Milano on television.) This season, so far, has been one of the best yet. Angela got me hooked on this show and as much as I hate to admit it, I really do enjoy it. Of course, sometimes the girly-ness gets so bad that I just have to grit my teeth and hope that they’re wearing tight clothing. Yes, the estrogen flows strong with this one. Oh, in case you had ever wondered, Angela’s Flickr I.D. is a play on "the Charmed Ones."

Comedy

On the funny-front, I’ve set messieur TiVaux to record The Office, both the original on BBC America (re-runs) and NBC’s Americanized version. I was impressed that the American show captured the humor in the English show. A lot of that credit goes to Steve Carrel (The Daily Show). He’s made a career of playing the foolish ass that Ricky Gervais wrote and acted so well himself. If you haven’t given the NBC version of this show a chance yet (possibly because of the whole Coupling debacle, you’re missing out. I’m also recording NBC’s My Name Is Earl, mainly because I’ve been willing to give Jason Lee a chance at entertaining me. So far, the show has been one of the better half-hour sitcoms I’ve seen. The premise is fairly unique and the aforementioned Jason Lee has really found a great character. The supporting and guest cast also help to make the show very funny and interesting. I was concerned that the show was going to be overly formulaic, but so far, each week has given some variety and also furthered an overall plot line (you know, that thing that most half-hour comedies lack).

In the same vein as my Lost discovery last Spring, I also decided I’d check out Fox’s Arrested Development. Okay, it being Fox and having seen some commercials that the network put together, I had very low expectations. However, I gave it a chance because people who’s stuff I read online seemed to hold it in high regard and usually that many award nominations don’t go to completely worthless shows. Well, I only wish I’d started watching the show sooner as it is one of the best comedies I’ve ever seen. I typically find situation comedy somewhere between uncomfortable and annoying, but this show strikes some sort of perfect cosmic balance. I really fall for shows where the characters are just a notch over-the-top; just too much "character" to be for real but not so ridiculous that it seems forced and Development really hits it on the nose. I’ve actually mainly been catching up on this show via Netflix and it is like some sort of sick addiction. A new disc comes in the mail and I can’t do anything for the rest of the day other than watch the show and every last deleted scene.

Sadly, as I’ve mentioned, the fate of Arrested Development never looked very bright. Just like so many other great shows, it seems to have never been given much of a chance (think Firefly here). It seems as though Fox as nixed the show during it’s third season. I can only say this: if this show were to be put over the internet, in DVD format only, or film, anything; I’d buy it. It’s just that good.

Drama

Will the new season bring about a new administration on The West Wing, possibly Republican? The show is starting to show some age by reliving some of the former season’s plot lines (what, crisis in the middle east, Donna and Josh have trouble communicating, people are running for president?). Of course, isn’t that just like life: same news, just different faces? Sometimes the plotlines that echo the headlines feel a little shoe-horned into this show, especially since Aaron Sorkin quit writing on the show. However, I will continue to watch as long as they keep bringing on the incredible acting talent and writing that has made this show the powerhouse it is. This season, particularly the two presidential candidates played by Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda, have lived up to previous seasons. The live debate episode left Angela and I wondering why couldn’t real politicians act like fake politicians?

Law & Order is still around, of course. The show has a great cast, as always, and manages to produce some really great episodes playing on the latest scandals and tragedies. However, as my mom pointed out, it would be nice if they would actually let the females play the lead on more episodes. I mean, after so many years, they’ve got the room to experiment. However, the most formulaic show on television seems to just not want to play with what works. Of course, that may be why Invasion now gets recorded on Wednesday nights while Law & Order gets to wait until Spring re-runs.

There is no one left on the show of the original cast on ER, and I’m still interested. Okay, so that mostly has to do with my long time crush on Maura Tierney (big Talk Radio fan, here) as well as my fan-boy attraction to Parminder Nagra. The new talent and the writing is still consistently some of the best drama around and the show is willing to take risks and mix things up sometimes (but not enough, in my opinion). However, Angela takes some real offense at how pharmacists get portrayed on the show, and I can’t really say I blame her. It seems like there some as-yet untapped subplot lines to be found there, but no, they seem to just get ordered around by the doctors and nurses. If they can have social workers guest for episodes, then why not a pharmacist character? In all seriousness, the writers really should look into having a real character in the hospital pharmacy or possibly a pharm student doing some rounds on the show. If you write for E.R. and are interested, please contact Angela. Seriously.

Numb3rs makes me have hope for America that a drama about math could be so popular. The shows back for it’s second season with a slightly different cast but also with some more developed plot arcs which run from show to show. I wouldn’t mind if they even showed some faliability in the hero mathematician at this point. After all, we’ve all figured you can do anything with math, so let the guy screw up for once.

Reality Television (?)

Jamie and Adam of the Mythbusters seriously make me consider changing careers. I’d love to get to hang out with them, at the very least, anyway. I have a hard time stomaching most reality television, but this show gets it right. There’s enough of their personalities in the show for that "good television" aspect, but also enough science and wacky inventions to entertain your inner geek. I was really glad to see the "build team" also getting some billing on the shows title sequence, as well. They’re also great television personalities.

The Daily Show is pretty much the only reason I haven’t fled to Canada since last November. Now, Steven Colbert has his own show, The Colbert Report, which is equally entertaining. However, I still love Stewards disarming sense of humor. He really seems like the guy in college that we all wanted to be friends with. Colbert is sometimes a little bit too much like Bill O’Reilly; that is to say, a total jack-ass.

Angela also has gotten hooked on NBC’s The Biggest Loser. I have to say, given my total disgust with reality television, it actually does seem to be the best of the lot3. At least they promote health and personal responsibility.


  1. I downloaded the first part of the pilot of Lost several months back. I had read good things about the show and thought I’d give it a try. I didn’t want to see one of the episodes from the middle, knowing that the show built upon all the previous episodes. So, I got to downloading. Angela got into the show after a little bit and we decided we’d like to see some more, thus buying the DVD set of season one. I hope ABC understand that even though I broke the law, they and their advertisers are now making revenue they would have never gotten otherwise. []
  2. Okay, perhaps it’s unfair of me to single out Star Trek for this. However, they always seemed like the worst offender in all of science fiction. Have a problem with your warp drive? Well, just have the engineering staff build a quad-dimensional, time-shifting confabulation out of their communicators and some chewing gum. You’ll fix the flaky plot device with an equally goof-ball gimmick. The best science fiction doesn’t use techno-babble for plot lines. I mean how often interesting would a period film be if all they dealt with was technical []
  3. I also hear really good things about CBS’ The Amazing Race, but I’m really not that interesting in getting into the reality competition scene any deeper. These are gateway shows that lead to things like American Idol and The Real World. []

TiVo Nearly Has IPTV

TiVo Won't Transfer Downloaded Content

TiVo won’t transfer content that has been downloaded over the internet. Click image for full view.

Just recently, TiVo announced they would provide weekly download of product reviews by CNET. While not nearly like having C|Net back on the air again (I miss Richard Hart and Gena St. John talking tech on C|Net Central), it was pretty cool to be getting their content via my TiVo. TiVo has also announced a downloadable documentary about Hong Kong movie stuntment called Red Trousers (the film, not the stumtment). All this is very cool, and I’ve signed up to receive both. I actually watched the first C|Net review of portable digital music devices earlier today. It was breif, but no less so that most television reviews. The program was about twelve minutes, total, I think. Now, just to be clear, so everyone understands. Normal TiVo content is simply recorded over the cable to the television, just like a VCR would. This content, however, was downloaded over the internet straight to the TiVo, like you might download something to your PC or Mac.

Now, here comes the bad news. (P.S. – There’s always bad news with TiVo).

When firing up my TiVo Desktop to transfer some programs (over my new, secure HomePlug network connection), I found that I wasn’t able to transfer the C|Net content. I’m not saying I was even wanting to transfer that, but what about when they have some IPTV that I do want to save. If they’re not going to let me save a twelve minute long C|Net piece, something tells me there’s little chance I’ll be able to transfer and burn-to-DVD Red Trousers or any other full lenth film. What if, in the future, I can buy content via an online store to have downloaded to my TiVo? Oh, say, like an iTunes Video Store? Will they let me have that content to keep, or even for more than a week? TiVo, do the right thing here: let the consumers have the stuff. They’ll love you more for it.

What’s In A Name

I couldn’t ever use super_structure.com (or .org, .net, etc) because it wasn’t an allowed name.

About a year ago, I decided I’d put a new face on my crusty old web site and start blogging. You’ve heard the story about how I started on Blogger.com and then moved to hosting my own WordPress blog (okay, so Jason Johnson & Dreamhost do most of the heavy lifting as far as that goes). Well, back when I was signing up at Blogger, I needed a name for the site. It felt an awful lot like naming a band, for some strange reason. Some people just use their own name, others come up with stuff that I have no idea what it means. Other’s use some combination or play on their names, which I really like.

However, I wanted something that sort expressed my engineering side as well as the idea that this would still be a personal site. Somewhere, I decided on the term superstructure, which of course is the part of a building or bridge above the foundations. However, just the word seemed boring and not quite tech/geek enough. Somehow, in my mind, adding a bit of random punctuation was just enough of a twist to make it different. So the word super_structure was born. Lot’s of web pages, image files, and e-mail address have underscores instead of spaces to prevent that whole   or %20 thing. I thought that by separating the words, the word just had a different emphasis.

Later, I realized that while you can have an underscore character in the directory or file name, you can’t have one in the domain name. I couldn’t ever use super_structure.com (or .org, .net, etc) because it wasn’t an allowed name. So, I just stuck with jasoncoleman.net while continuing to use super_structure as the title.

There was critiquing, to put it nicely.

I finally decided to try and make a change today. You’ll notice that the underscore has been replaced by an en dash character (fully sanctioned for domain usage). I have also registered super-structure.org Yeah, I know, wouldn’t it be nice if they were both .net or .org, but just like dates to prom, the good ones are always taken when you get around to asking.

So, you’ll notice the universe, at least as in regard to this Jason Coleman, has now moved from super_structure to super-structure, and what’s more, you can now just type super-structure.org into your web browser to get here. The re-direct is on me.

Note: Unfortunately, as of writing this in the wee hours of Sunday morning, super-structure.org was still just being parked by GoDaddy. Hopefully, that will be corrected soon. It’s all good.

Blogging Hack

I have a Microsoft Office Keyboard and Wireless Explorer Mouse on my home desktop(s). I love the extra functionality of these devices due to the forward/back browser buttons (among other buttons). I’ve even bought a second Office keyboard for my office desktop because I found the copy/cut/paste and the application switch buttons to be so handy in data post-processing (I’ll spare you the gory details on that one…).

However, one of the really frustrating things about web-form blogging (as in my WordPress blog you’re reading now) is that I occasionally hit the back button on one of these devices by accident. This sends me back to the previous admin page, of course, and completely empties the web form in which I was typing my post. Hopefully, I’ve saved often, but usually even losing a paragraph is very annoying. Since I really don’t want to give up my fancy-pants keyboard and mouse, I’ve had to come up with a way to prevent this from happening.

Essentially, I open the Write Post link in a new FireFox browser tab, which then doesn’t have any page history of its own. I can then accidentally hit those back buttons to my heart’s content, knowing that I won’t loose anything. You can accomplish the same thing by making use of the Press It bookmarklet feature in WordPress, which essentially just opens up a Write dialog in a new browser window, but that’s not how I generally work while blogging. The new tab seems to be the most straightforward method for me.

Hope this helps some other fat-fingered blogger.

Running The Marathon

My mind, in a matter of seconds, retraced the route I had just been on. Sure enough, I had just run a marathon.

Last Saturday morning was the 2005 Richmond Marathon, which was the first marathon for both Angela (my wife) and myself. We couldn’t have possibly asked for a better day to run a marathon, or for that matter, better conditions in which to have prepared for the marathon over the past six months. We’ve been members of the Sportsbackers Marathon Training Team, which is an outstanding organization here in Richmond which has become one of the largest of its kind in the country. I thought, since I’ve spent so much of the past six months posting updates on the blog, I’d write a final recap of the event, including what I was thinking at the time and what I’ve learned in doing this.

Pre-Race

I had a good night’s sleep on Friday, save for the three times to get up to use the bathroom (I’ve never been so well hydrated in my life was already looking forward to drying out). I’d been told I’d be lucky if I slept at all, but any nervousness I was feeling wasn’t really keeping me up. I was forcing myself to only concentrate in getting to the start line in order to prevent the overwhelming thought of having to run for hours on end. I’d worry about the immediate step and just wait for the next one to come.

Angela at the pre-race get together - courtesy of Angela Robinson

Angela bundled up in the cold as we take some photographs of the training team groups (photo courtesy of Angela Robinson).

Angela and I left to meet with the training group before hand for some large group photos. She was able to locate her running buddy but I kept losing her all morning. The last time I saw her that morning was as we were finding the UPS trucks serving as bag checks to hand over everything we weren’t running with. I tried hunting around for my wife right up until the mass of runners began surging forward as I wanted to give her some last words of encouragement. It turns out she didn’t really need it, but I had the next four-and-a-half hours to feel bad about it.

The First Half

The course represents most every part of the city (save the East side) and is really very great scenery. Since I had lost my usual running partners (the ones who made the race, at least) while looking for Angela, I was on my own for most of the whole race. That was okay with me, since running has always been my "me time." I am usually perfectly content to just enjoy the views along the way. I ended up seeing a few familiar faces along the way, both runners and bystanders alike, which was good enough for me.

Mile 17 - Main Street (courtesy of Brightroom photography)

While running in a tank-top and high-steppers seemed like a good idea, it resulted in an uncomfortable run (photo courtesy of Brightroom Photography).

The temperature had warmed up so much in the sunshine that I ditched my jacket and gloves after only a mile or so, while still on Broad Street, just in front of the Science Museum. I had been wearing one of those throw-away Tyvek jackets and a pair of cheap cloth gloves which I wouldn’t feel bad about not returning home with. My race dress consisted of just a team singlet and high-cut shorts for the entire race. Since these are essentially what the elite runners wear, I felt good about wearing these. As it turns out, that was my biggest mistake of the race. Looking back over my training, I think that correcting for that was quite obvious. However, I had convinced myself that if that’s what the fast, elite runners wore then it must be beneficial.

My body chemistry is such that my sweat leaves behind an extraordinary amount of salt crystals. You remember that steamy Heart Shaped World video for Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game; the one where they rolled around in the beach sand? Well, I look just like that, once you’ve removed all the sexy and cool. That being the case, I had brought along a small stick of Body Glide to help ward off the skin friction. I stopped just past the half-way point, and even again at 18 miles, but to no good. Dragging a waxy stick across gritty, raw flesh just only makes the problem worse. Also, running and sweating only makes the problem worse, but that’s just what I had to do for another 13.1 miles. I figure wearing a pair of tight, spandex shorts and a t-shirt would have prevent most, if not all, of these problems. It was far too late to do anything about that now, though.


Running By The Crowds (courtesy of Brightroom Photography)

The crowds cheering for me and all the finishers near the end of the race felt incredibly great (photo courtesy of Brightroom Photography).

A simple little running hack I learned from other members of the training group who had been through the program before is that many runners in the "rest" of the pack write their names across their racing shirts. It is really hard to describe just how great it feels to have strangers in the sidelines cheering you on by name. There’s that small drip of adrenaline that comes from having your named called out that lifts your chin up and makes you run tall. Running through a large crowd with people standing rows deep on each side can shave miles off of the run already behind you. Of everything that I did just before the race, taking ten minutes and a Sharpie had the highest dividend. I can’t imagine really doing this on just a 10k, but I honestly don’t know how I’d finish a marathon without doing it. It really is that encouraging to have so many people out there cheering you on in the cold and treating you like the hero of the, if only for just a split second.

The Twenty

Angela runs along Riverside Drive (courtesy of Brightroom Photography)

Angela enjoys the views and the sunshine along Riverside Drive, just before reaching mile nine (photo courtesy of Brightroom Photography).

Somewhere around mile 15 (I think), I saw one of the coaches for the training group who worked with Angela’s group (her name is also Angela). She recognized me and told me she had talked to Angela just a short while ago and that she was looking great. That was a great boost. Just thinking about my wife’s smiling face when she’s around people always cheers me up. Of course, I’d soon find that thinking about my wife too much was going to bring up too many emotions.


Lee Bridge - Mile 15

I stopped just before running onto the Lee Bridge at about mile 15 to take a snapshot of the runners spread out ahead of me.

I carried my camera-phone with me to take a few snapshots of the race course along the way. I stopped at either end of the Lee Bridge and took some photos. I didn’t need the break too much at that point, but to see all those people running across that bridge was kind of an awesome sight. I don’t think my little camera quite captured the moment, but then again, there’s a lot of things that are hard to even describe about the race. I did realize, though, that I wasn’t there as a journalist but as a runner. Of course, there were other people snapping photos all along the way and I can understand why. This is a huge deal for most of us, and we want to remember it and share it with others. One thing that amazed me was the fact that so many people were talking on their cell phones during the race. While it’s easy to dismiss this as cell phone addiction, I can appreciate the idea of hearing from some distant family or friends to bring some encouragement during the course. My brother, Dave, even tried calling me but I didn’t hear the phone ring since it was buried down in my Camelbak.

I had essentially been walking at every water stop along the course, just long enough to get down a cup of water and then run on. Stopping for a potty break at mile ten had added some more time as well, but none of those had really been because I needed a break from the run. After about mile 16, though, I began needing walk about a block during the water stops, which were about every two miles. I kept telling myself to just run a little bit further; just to the next water stop and then take a break. Then, I had to fall back to taking a break every mile. This was becoming sort of a mental challenge now, and I needed to prevent myself from having to take any more breaks than necessary.

The Last 10K

I had reached the 20 mile split at just under 3:30 minutes, which was faster than I had run any of the three 20 milers during training. That was a great feeling that picked me up for just a bit. I had managed to maintain a fairly even pace for the first 20 to keep on track for finishing in my goal time of 4:30. However, I still had 6.2 miles to finish. While I had run further on my own, prior to this training a 10k was the longest race I had ever run. I knew I was going to finish, the only question was how many walking breaks. I would need for between here and then end.

One of the things I really hadn’t expect was the emotion component of the run. A friend had told me how he irrationally sobbed for nearly a mile while running past the 22 mile mark on his second marathon. I imagine when a person’s body starts reaching this level of exhaustion, it can be expected that their nerves start to become a little raw. It effects everyone differently, some people not all, I’m sure. I found myself suffering from a next-day soup of emotions any time I though about Angela. From having a overwhelming sense of pride in what she was doing, concern for her since she’d had some problems with shins and cramps earlier, as well as regret for not seeing her immediately before the start; it was all starting to wear on me. I was having to force myself to concentrate on other things, namely the task at hand, and not on her. However, making one force their wife out of their mind can be equally emotionally troubling. So much so, in fact, that my eyes began welling up several times uncontrollably. I did my best to refocus and in fact, running by several crowds helped to take my mind off of it long enough to calm down.

Other than the emotional troubles, there was also the fact that the flesh on my legs and and under my right arm was looking increasingly like raw meat. The cold, wet hand towels being passed out at mile 23 were like a soggy piece of heaven. I was able to clean off the Margarita rim like salt crust off of my forehead as well as try and wipe off the salt crystals in some of the more damaged areas causing trouble. Then, I ran out of sports drink in my Camelbak just before mile 24. Not too much of a problem, in reality, but there’s nothing like sucking on an empty water hose to fill you full of that "you’re done for now" feeling. I was drinking two cups of red sports drink at the mile 24 water stop to reassure myself when one of my coach friends from the training team came running up beside me. He asked if I was doing some sort of run/walk thing, which was no doubt a sincere question and he was simply checking in with me. My raw nerves took this as a accusation (of what, I don’t know) and I answered that yes I was walking the water stops to give my body some short breaks. However, it jolted me into the realization that with just over two miles to go, now was not the time to be walking. He also asked if I had had any muscle problems during the run. I had been extremely fortunate in the fact that I had not had any sort of muscle cramps for over four hours, but I was beginning to notice some in my calves. I took one last moment away from running on the Belvedere bridge over I-95 to stretch both legs and then ran the remainder of the race.

Crossing the finish line (courtesy of Brightroom Photography)

Crossing the finish line in just under 4:40. My final chip time was 4:36, just a few minutes more than my goal (photo courtesy of Brightroom Photography).

The last half-mile of the race (maybe more, actually) is all downhill into a funnel of cheering fans and blaring commentators. Hearing those people shouting and then the announcer call my name and number as I came up to the finish line was like having blinders taken off. Had I really just done all that? My mind, in a matter of seconds, retraced the route I had just been on. Sure enough, I had just run a marathon.

After The Race

Finish Line - Mile 26.2

Runner’s receive medals and are covered in foil blankets after crossing the finish line. They’re also handed a bottle of water and have their timing chips removed from their shoes before heading out of the corral.

Upon crossing the finish line, you’re given a foil blanket, a bottle of water, and a finisher’s medal. The medal is the sort of thing that normally would feel somewhat cheesy to me. I didn’t exactly come in for bronze, let alone first place. However, having some 20 year old kid put that chintzy piece of steel around my neck felt special. If a person can actually have a huge smile at the same time they’re cringing in pain, then that’s exactly what I was doing. The achievement pales in comparison to what so many people ran that day, including a winner with a new course record. However, the achievement was mine. I just needed one last reminder of that.

Just as I was leaving the chip removal corral, I saw the owner of one of the local running stores. This guy has treated my wife and I like crap every time we’ve gone in his shop (and most friends tell similar stories). I felt like telling him "You know, I just ran a f^@*ing 26.2 mile race, so next time I come in, why don’t you at least treat me like a customer, huh?" But why? I didn’t run it for him, or anyone one else. I did this to prove to myself I could do it. I had to know, and now I did know. I was capable of going further than I had ever before. I just walked on past him. He will probably never consider a guy like me an athlete. However, I don’t have shop at his place and frankly, I don’t consider myself an athlete, either. I’m just a guy who enjoys running and just learned his limits are way beyond where he ever thought they were.

I walked down to the UPS trucks which had held onto my bag for the past few hours. I found a small sidewalk edge near an alley to sit down and put on some pants and a long sleeve t-shirt. I put all my things away, but kept out the medal and my race number. I wanted people around to know that I belonged. More than that, I really wanted to enter the runner’s food tent for something solid and not sugary. Luckily, they had pizza and bagels. I sat down for a while eating my slice of pizza and drinking some more sports drink. After all the sugar I’d had all day, I really didn’t want anymore, but at least this was a different flavor. I found myself obsessing about brushing my teeth.

Angela smiling as she approaches the finish line! (courtesy of Brightroom Photography)

Angela is just beaming smiles as she runs towards the finish line. You did it, baby! (photo courtesy of Brightroom Photography)

After a while, I got up to walk back uphill to the finish line. There was no way I was going to miss Angela coming across that gate. I cheered for the runners who were still flowing down the hill. They had all been out struggling just as much as I had with the same course and and been enduring it for even longer. They deserved to have people cheering for them, too. After a while, I saw Angela running down the hill. Her coach had said she looked great, and she did. She looked so cool and collected; as if she’d just been out for a casual jog and not the six hour ordeal she’d just been through. Her running pal, Heather, was running along the far side line cheering her on and we both met Angela down outside the corral.

After having some time to collect myself earlier, I was much more stable emotionally than I had expected to be. Angela checked back in with the training team tent and found some food to eat. We walked back to the finish line to cheer on some of the last runners and then headed home. We’d both successfully run the race and had one another together again to congratulate ourselves. It was a long journey, which really lasted six months, not just six hours. The feeling of knowing a little more about what we carry inside of us is going to last a lot longer.

Intelligent Design of School Curricula

Since Pat Robertson has now damned the good voters of Dover, PA last week and the state of Kansas has turned back the clock there by about 80 years, I thought I might put forth my opinion on the concept of Intelligent Design. Personally, I am all for the the teaching of Intelligent Design in public schools: in philosophy class. In the end, the leap between the hard facts of science and the assumption that all the universe around us has been created by a higher being is one of faith. To diminish this by demoting faith to some classroom instruction does a disservice to those who believe in such things. While it may be a very remote analogy, let me ask this: my wife and love one another very much, and it is the reason we are married and together (arguably) for the purpose of reproduction (parents, don’t get your hopes too soon, I’m just making a point). However, it would be ridiculous to teach love in biology class. It is psychology.

And so it is with Intelligent Design. I, as a Christian, believe in a higher being and that He created the universe and all the things, both living and non living, in it. I also believe in science. These two have never felt like a conflict to me, as one requires facts and the other faith. Science is the pursuit of truth based on evidence with blind ignorance toward preconceived notions. Faith, on the other hand, is a belief of something that cannot be known. I do not believe in a God because of some proof laid about before me, but often times, in spite of all evidence that may actually contradict such a belief. That is what makes one’s faith special and unique: belief without knowing (that is, in fact, the very definition of religious faith).

Let’s applaud the people of Dover, PA (not curse them, Pat). They’ve decided that they’re religious beliefs (and their right not to believe if they so choose) and they’re children’s beliefs need not be ingrained in science class. Biology will continue to be based on the clearly defined theory of evolution and religion— religion will be held in its traditional high regard, as something that transcends the physical world we learned about in biology and physics.

Clueless in Tampa

Back in the late Spring of 2003, I was located in Tampa for two-and-a-half months for business. While there, I had a great deal of time to catch up on reading and, for what ever reason, decided to spend it on political science books. While picking up a couple of books at the local Barnes & Noble one evening, I was being checked out by a woman who looked to be in her mid forties and who appeared to be perfectly sane, at first:

"Hey, those seem like two great books! We don’t get too many people buying these down here. I’ve never heard of this one, but I like the title: The Emerging Democratic Majority."

"Yeah, I read a piece by one of the authors, in The Nation, I think, and I thought this book seemed interesting. It’s mostly wonky, statistical stuff, though."

"Well, we need something to turn this country around. That other book (The Conscience of a Liberal: Reclaiming the Compassionate Agenda) by Senator Wellstone is supposed to be great. We’ll sure miss him."

"Yeah, he was a great man."

"I just can’t stand this current Bush administration. I didn’t really like Clinton because he couldn’t keep it in his pants, but he’s a male and your all that way, so I just have to be understanding. But these people are just despicable."

silence

"My husband and I worked on the Nader campaign in 2000. We really helped to get a lot of people interested here in Tampa."

"You live in Florida and you worked to get people to vote for Ralph Nader?"

"Yes, I think he’s somebody who really could help America."

I promptly dove across the counter and strangled a person who, along with her husband, might have forever ruined my beloved country. Okay, that part’s not true at all. However, you can imagine the personal restraint on my part to resist such a compulsion.

"Hey, ______ (can’t remember names, don’t want to), are you going to talk that guy to death or check him out. He’s just standing there with a blank look waiting for you to hush and ring him up." says the lady at the next register, unwittingly noting my defense mechanism.

"Oh, of course. Sorry about that. It’s just nice to see someone who thinks the way I do."

"Uh-huh." (!?)

She proceeds to ring me up for my two books and I walk out, thinking how I finally met one of those wacky moonbats that Rush Limbaugh is always going on-and-on about and just astounded at the fact that she was sure she’d found some kindred spirit in me. I kept looking over my shoulder for the Kick Me sign that was surely taped on there.

Monarch of the Banana Stand

Well, no sooner did I get my first disc of Arrested Development from Netflix than Fox announced they planned to cancel the series

Arrested Development - Season One

Arrested Development: Season One on DVD or at Netflix.

Well, no sooner did I get my first disc of Arrested Development from Netflix than Fox announced they planned to cancel the series. I suppose it’s been hanging by a thin thread all along anyhow, but I feel a little disappointed after I figured out what so many people had already said: it is really a great show.

After watching the first six episodes, I can’t help but think of it as a sort of Americanized version of another one of my favorite series, the BBC’s Monarch of the Glen (which, in turn, seemed a bit like a Scottish Northern Exporsure). Monarch is the story of a unwilling second son who comes to save his boyhood home and family estate upon returning as a grown man. He comes to terms with his eccentric family, proves to be a savvy business man and community leader, and even finds love (in the character of Lexy, played by the remarkably hot Dawn Steele).

Arrested development is the somewhat similar story of unwilling second son who steps in to run the family business after Dad is taken away to jail and they lose everything. Jason Bateman plays a wonderful heavy named Michael Bluthe in a cast of completely absurd American aristocrats. It seems that even well-meaning Michael can’t save this family from their own ineptitude. Sure, some of the jokes are a little crude, but there’s something of a charming innocence about it that comes from the character’s complete cluelessness about just how bad their situation is. That, and the fact that Ron Howard (executive producer) narrates the show (Lil’ Oppie Cunningham can add instant innocence to anything).

I do find the show somewhat poorly edited, though. The jumps in plot lines seem really confusing, albeit forgivable since it’s the humor your in for, not intricate drama. Watching some of the deleted scenes really made me realize this, as in when I finally figured out why Michael actually wanted to find the records for the company jet in the first place. I guess the editors just assumed we really wouldn’t care, since it’s not as thought Michael was ever going to get them anyway. I just chalk it up to more of the show’s quirkiness.

Sadly, the show’s quirkiness and charm couldn’t save it from getting the ax at Fox. I suppose it is all about the ratings, but shows like Arrested Development, Firefly, and Monarch of the Glen all make me wish that studios would just create direct to DVD production of hastily canceled series.

Calling Mark Cuban… I see a business plan, here.

Update: Well, apparently LostRemote has some very interesting ideas, although they still might need some guy like Cuban to put up some cash (via The Long Tail).