Monday, August 1, 2011

"Seattlest Runs the San Francisco Marathon"

Originally published on Seattlest:

Imagine that you're standing on Embarcadero Street at dawn, looking out across San Francisco Bay to see the Bay Bridge lit up in all its glory, hearing Sufjan Stevens' "Chicago" in the background, and surrounded by near 25,000 other people who spent however many months training for what comes next: 26.2 miles of scenic, albeit physically demanding, running around and about San Francisco.

Well, this fat-kid-at-heart didn't just imagine it; I did it! This is my second marathon, after Vancouver, B.C. back in May--and it was a grueling endeavor, to say the least.

Runners had the option to run the full marathon, or the first or second half, which ended and started in beautiful Golden Gate Park. If you ever decide to partake in this rewarding experience, I suggest you run the first half (if not the whole), as that is where all the scenery worth seeing (Embarcadero, the Fisherman's Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Presidio, and part of Golden Gate Park) is to be found (as well as some glycogen depleting hills).

The second half consisted of several back-and-forths through Golden Gate Park before shooting you out to Haight Street, continuing down through the Mission and Potrero before heading back north to AT&T Field, and finishing right back where you started on Embarcadero. It was a snoozefest, which is why I decided to make the most of it around mile 24; spectators were handing out hot dogs and cans of Tecate. As I had already "hit the wall" twice--yes, twice! Around miles 15 and 22--I couldn't resist. My body was craving sustenance no matter what it was.

At mile 26, with the finish line square in my weary sight, I put on a smile, let the roar of the crowd fuel my final moments of the race, and snapped open that can of Tecate the instant my feet crossed that finish line. My final time was 4:03:41. It wasn't my best, but come on! It was hard!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

New York Senate's Marriage Equality Vote

Equality is being held hostage by Senate Republicans:
Several state senators and Senate staff members have said in recent days that the Republicans needed one more caucus meeting to decide whether to allow a vote on the marriage issue. Same-sex marriage is opposed by a large majority of the Republican caucus, but the caucus is torn over whether to allow a vote in the Senate, knowing it could pass with a combination of Democratic and Republican votes.
It remains unclear whether the marriage measure would pass or fail in a Senate vote. At present, there are 31 senators openly supporting the measure, one vote shy of the 32 needed to pass a bill. The supporters include 29 of the 30 Senate Democrats and 2 of the 32 Senate Republicans. Several other Republican senators have said they remain undecided.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Then (2003) & Now (2011)

Click photos to enlarge.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

2011 Vancouver, B.C. Marathon Why I Run

As most of you already know, I will be running in the Vancouver, B.C. Marathon on Sunday, May 1. I've been training for almost 11 weeks, and it's been quite the adventure. I never thought I would get to this point in my physical ability. I ran (permanent junior varsity) cross country during my junior and senior years of high school, and I think the best time I ever managed for a 5k was in the ballpark of just under 29 minutes. I'm now able to do a 5k around 22 and a half minutes. That's a running average around 7:20 per mile.

I've been trying to write this eloquent post about how I'm training for my first marathon, and all the hard work it's entailed, and blah, blah, blah. As you can see, it got me nowhere. I'm going to write from the heart and explain why I run.

I wanted to prove to myself, and anyone else who ever doubted any of my abilities, that I am capable of accomplishing so much. Need some perspective?

Here is me in the spring of 2004:

And here is me in the fall of 2010:

At the end of my sophomore year of high school I decided that I needed to make more friends. The ones that I kept over from eighth grade weren't enough. People have to grow, right? So, I decided to join our school's cross country running team, despite the fact that I didn't have an ounce of athletic ability/competitiveness inside my entire body. If I couldn't make any impact on our (completely irrelevant) team score--I still have no idea how they calculated that damn thing--then I was going to have fun and make our grueling practices easier to get through. As I recall, there was maybe one race in which I did not come in last place, or as we called it: DFL (Dead Fucking Last). I was just the fun, fat kid.

Fast forward to college. (See photo above). Enough said, and I'm sparing you four years worth of whiny bullshit. You're welcome. Fast forward to post-college. I started going to the gym around December 2007, and I started out by using the elliptical. How they call this a piece of exercise equipment is beyond me; I could use it non-stop for 24 hours and not break a sweat. Many months later I took the leap and started going to spin class on a regular basis. If you want to get in shape, GO TO SPIN CLASS! This is when I gradually dropped the majority of my excess weight. Fast forward some more. I decided that I wanted to give running a try again, seeing as how I was in a much better physical state to do so. Naturally, whenever one starts a new physical activity, especially running, it's going to hurt and be uncomfortable. I think that's why most people quit and never try again. You have to push through the pain, annoyance, discomfort, and stick with it!

That's what I did. I stuck with it. I started my mileage count small. Two miles here, three miles there. Then I gradually got more accustomed to it and I pushed myself further. I've gone from running three miles at a moderately slow pace to running 12 miles at a rather fast pace. Note: my training schedule has me running 16 miles this Sunday, and 20 miles two weeks later.

The week of Thanksgiving 2010 I wrestled with the thought of doing something serious with my new found passion: I decided that I wanted to run a marathon. Unfortunately, the Seattle Marathon was in a few days, and that was not an option. No one just throws themselves into a marathon. This shit is real. Trust me.

Well, Seattle 2010 wasn't an option, so I agreed on Seattle 2011. The downside is that I would have to wait an entire year before I could get the opportunity to run in the race. So, I did a little research and I found out that Vancouver, B.C.--a few hours drive from here--was having its marathon on May 1. And thus, I decided on making that my first marathon experience. I couldn't stop talking about it with everyone around me. I was too excited! However, I didn't want to be all talk and then somehow miss out on the opportunity; so I registered for the race immediately with the $130 that I did not have to spare at that moment. No refunds = there's no turning back. Well, I guess I could turn back, but I might as well throw all that money down the toilet.

And now we are caught up to the present moment. I'm in great shape--I'd still like to drop some more weight, but that's neither here nor there right now--and I have complete confidence that not only will I finish this race, but I will do so in under four hours. To be frank, my absolute goal is to finish under three and a half hours. As of right now, I am on track to do so. It's like a drug addict who needs his fix. I need to run long distances, and I need to do it often. I've become so enraptured by long distance running that I'm already planning my next two marathons: Seattle 2011 and San Francisco 2012.

Lastly, as I've made these enormous changes in my life over the course of several years, I've gone through noticeable phases; a new one will begin the moment after I cross that finish line on May 1, and I am preparing something to symbolize that moment. (Hint: the answer is in the colors.) Stay tuned.

New Viper Creek Club Music Video for "Soft Spots in the Dark"

I really liked their last video. They just released this video, which they filmed at locations around Capitol Hill: Sonic Boom Records and Victrola Coffee on 15th. Enjoy!

Wingnut on the Right Tries to Re-Write the U.S. Constitution

First we have U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-IA) making the bold assertion that the founding fathers "...worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States." And that's why it took 78 years from the time the Constitution was signed to the official abolition of slavery with the enactment of the 13th amendment.

Now we have Bryan Fischer, the "Director of Issues Analysis" for the American Family Association (AFA) stating
"Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam. Islam is entitled only to the religious liberty we extend to it out of courtesy. While there certainly ought to be a presumption of religious liberty for non-Christian religious traditions in America, the Founders were not writing a suicide pact when they wrote the First Amendment."
Interesting point. Except, I believe there's an easy rebuttal to that argument:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
That's the first amendment to the Constitution. The emphasis is referred to as the "establishment clause" and it's a pretty big fuckin' deal. But that doesn't matter, right? Of course not. Remember, if you're a Christian, you have a right to be one; if you're a Muslim, it's a tentative privilege, revocable at any time by people that hate and fear you (without significant reason).

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New Years Resolutions: The Twelve Month Model (Cont.)

2011 has been a great year thus far! Just to recap, I've been committing to New Years Resolution by the month. January was perfect oral hygiene month, which I executed with absolute perfection! February was no coffee or Grindr month. Again, I made it through the month without so much as having a single taste of coffee. Although, I did have some tea, which is neither here nor there. And finally, I must admit that I broke my resolution with regards to my ban on Grindr within the last four hours of the month. Still, I think it was an overall success.

March is my fiscal responsibility month, and it's been going pretty well. Granted, I did just shell out $9 for Eggs Benedict at Linda's, but it was a nice day, and I was hungry. Sue me. Basically, I'm just keeping track of everything on which I spend money, and limiting myself to mostly grocery store purchased items. I do allow myself some luxuries here and there, but not nearly as many as I was previously letting myself enjoy. I've since paid down more of my debt and made my paychecks last longer than a few days. This will surely need to continue for the rest of the year; March isn't the only "fiscally responsible" month of 2011. A little perseverance appears to go a long way.

As for April, I've decided that I need to work on being more engaging and outgoing. The time for excusing myself from socializing and meeting new people is over. You want to hang out? I'm there. You're having a party? I'm there. You want to go to The Cuff? I'm there. April will be your opportunity to push my ridiculously held limits and boundaries. You should take advantage of it...for both us!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

New Years Resolutions: The Twelve Month Model (Cont.)

Well, I successfully fulfilled my January resolution of maintaining a rigorous oral hygiene regiment. That is, I would brush, floss, scrape my tongue, and use mouthwash (at least) twice a day; typically it was when I woke up and before I went to bed. Lucky for me, my dentist appointment was scheduled right after the end of the month. I received very high marks for my tooth and gum care, and it's always a nice thing not to have one's gums swollen and inflamed after visiting the dentist.

So, January Resolution: Success!

Now, onward to my February Resolution: no coffee (or caffeine of any kind). Out of nowhere I developed an addiction to coffee, specifically (Vivace or Vita) tall non-fat lattes. I couldn't help it! This is Seattle, after all. Unfortunately, this ensured that my money disappeared more quickly (than usual). I might as well have just set up my direct deposit to go directly to either of those coffeehouses. Thus, I decided to curb the addiction and the costs thereof. I must have exceptional discipline (on some things) because I've hardly had any urges to go buy/drink coffee.

February is also my "No Grindr" month. This is a relatively easy challenge, as it was hardly serving any of its intended purposes anymore. I may have to bring it back for my San Francisco trip in May. No promises. As of right now it looks like March will be my "Fiscal Responsibility" month. I'll keep a strict budget and record every financial transaction to see where all of my money goes. This will include the $0.50 I may spend at the vending machine at work.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Currently Playing On Repeat

This song, despite it's lyrical content, makes me happy.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Water Fountains: The Silent Assailants

I'm no longer surprised when anyone in this country does something stupid and decides that the appropriate response is legal action. If you don't want attention for something that you did, such as falling into a water fountain in a mall because you were too preoccupied with texting someone on your phone, then I might recommend NOT going on national news to talk about the incident.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Years Resolutions: The Twelve Month Model

I believe it was in 2009 that a friend of mine decided that she was not going to have a single New Years resolution, but rather, she would have twelve: one for each month of the year. Although, her model was based on simply giving something up for the month and then (presumably) going back to indulging in whatever habit--sugar, coffee, etc.--she had given up. In my case, I'm going to attempt in creating good habits that that I can build onto throughout the year.

Technically, I started my January resolution in the middle of December, but I've been committing myself to maintaining exceptional oral hygiene. It used to be that I would only brush my teeth once a day, and typically only if I was planning on leaving my apartment. But now I force myself to brush my teeth, scrape my tongue, floss, and rinse with mouthwash every day when I wake up, and right before I go to bed. I haven't missed a single day; it's been a successful resolution month thus far. My dentist appointment in February is going to be the best visit ever! No bleeding gums for this guy!

I have yet to decide what my February resolution will be. Some possibilities include: giving up my use of Grindr, always keeping my apartment clean, or not eating any fast food, which should be a hard rule anyway.

Book Review: "The Instructions"

Where do I even begin with this one? Well, this was yet another book that built me up only to let me come crashing down; McSweeney's has disappointed me again.

One of the latest additions to Jewish literature, The Instructions by Adam Levin, is supposed to be an epic tale about a ten year old boy named Gurion Ben-Judah Maccabee who may (or may not) be the Messiah. Apparently everything he does is viewed as revolutionary by his peers, and the adults that run the school have to contend with the mischief that they cause. It's a story of love and redemption and blah blah blah. That's what most people want you to believe. Let me tell you what this book is really about:

A bunch of sane, albeit punk and troublesome, kids decide that they hate having to live by the rules that come with growing up and going to school, and thus, they decide to rebel in an overtly violent manner. They view their having to follow rules as oppression against all of the Israelites--no one is Jewish in the novel. These are the kind of kids that you would slap in the face after they mouth off to you because they think it's cool to rebel for its own sake.

In addition to the extremely flat and greatly exaggerated plot, the writing was nothing short of a constant rape of the English language. I shit you not, this is an actual sentence from the book:
"'Bet what would didn't,' Leevon didn't but seemed to."
Um...what? The only thing that kept me reading through to the end was the constant foreshadowing of something horrific happening. As I found out after 900 pages, the only thing that happens is that these punk kids attack innocent teachers and students at random during a school assembly with makeshift pennyguns: cut off the top of a water bottle, insert a balloon through it, put a coin in the balloon, pull it back, and fire.

McSweeneys, Levin, get over yourselves.

"Did You Read?"

It's eerie how similar this is to the conversations that I typically start with my friends. Also, I own that same red hoodie!

And Seven Months Later...

...I make my return! That's right. After I lost my free internet privileges I was forced to live in a cave without Internet access. That was back in June. But now I'm back! I have several things about which to write: books, films, music, my marathon training, political news, etc., but I'm going to need some time to get them all written out. Please bear with me, and stay tuned!