Friday, June 29, 2007

Morning observations

I went out to run around part of the local high school cross country trail this morning, which loops around our local ski hill. It's wooded, hilly, quiet, and about a mile around. That makes it easy to adjust your distance in a flash, which is great for morning runs when my ability to initially get out there is less predictable.

As usual, it was totally great to be out in the woods running around. I kept looping a man who was walking his dog off leash. Each time I'd pass, we'd say hello and he'd call his dog so she wouldn't follow. The third time, I stopped to say hello and pat Kiki (the dog, not the man). I happened to stop on a fairly sharp incline, and that is when I learned that Kiki is a leaner. A 90 pound leaner, who rested all of her weight on my legs as I stood there and patted her thick fur. She was on the uphill side, meaning I had to use some strength to hold her (and me) upright.

Does that count as crosstraining?

At the top of the hill on the trail stands the Weston Observatory, which is usually closed off via a tall iron fence. The last few times I have been there, I've noticed a truck parked nearby, with contruction equipment. Nothing big, just ladders and some wood. This time around, I saw the truck during my first loop, and then saw the truck was gone when I got back.

And the gate was open.

Not wanting to miss what may be my only opportunity to see the inside of the obseratory, I walked through the gate, through the open door (which, like the gate, is generally locked), and started up the stairs.

What I learned is that it is exceedingly dark in there.

I didn't know when the truck was coming back, so I stopped midway and headed back down. The view from the base of the observatory is really nice, so I wonder how much better it gets if you climb up a 60 foot tall tower of NH granite. I bet it's pretty cool.

Mornings like that make Manchester an ok place to live.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Not a trick I taught her

Ramona the Cat's new gig is to hop up on to my side of the bed at 5am, walk towards my head, and meow a few times in her high pitched tinny (and sweet) voice. Just enough to wake me up. Then she plops down for a minute (maybe three) to make sure I am fully awake, before hopping down to the floor and continuing with her morning. Note that she does not repeat this process with P, who gets to sleep soundly while this is happening. Unless, like this morning, I am startled enough to accidentally swing my arm and hit her... Oops.

Can't really blame Ramona for her crepuscular nature, but it does make it harder to sleep in the bright days of summer.

Or maybe I should just start running a little earlier in the day...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

East coast kid, west coast soul

I went to a work-related dinner the other night, and got seated at the "wrong" table. There were some good peeps, but minus a colleague next to me and the guy next to him, all were defined by their job. They were literally shocked that I could enjoy the act of doing nothing. Nothing, of course, being something to me.

The other table verged on semi-inappropriate work conversation with questions along the line of who's on your hall pass list, marry/sleep with/toss off a cliff, etc. Juvenile, but certainly more entertaining than more growing-our-partnership-to-grow-our-business chat. I'd had enough of that already.

At one point, someone from the fun table came over to us to continue a "who would you be if you could be anyone" question that circulated around their table. My uncreative peeps were silent. I said I'd be Cyndi Lauper (and stand by that). Another woman finally piped in, and said she'd be Nancy Grace. Nancy. Grace.


They were largely from California, which was even more strange to me, as I tend to view the west coast as a mellower vibe. I figured all of the earthquakes remind you that the earth is always there, ready to take you out as needed. And knowing that makes you just a little more connected to the power of the earth. Nature always wins.

That's my hippie sentiment for the night.

Anyways, the point of this small story is that I have at times thought I am more of a west coast soul in terms of my preferred pace, but too connected to my east coast roots to ever leave.

Partially as a result of these thoughts, and partially as a result of so much good music coming from CA, I started making a mix on my Ipod. And I am looking for suggestions, knowing that the four of you that read this blog care about music.

Here is the playlist thus far, so you get a sense of what I'm going for:
Grey in L.A. - Loudon Wainwright
California - Rufus Wainwright
California Stars - Billy Bragg and Wilco
Big Sur - The Thrills
The Golden State - John Doe

Note that the Mamas and the Papas are not there. There's a time and a place for everything, and this mix is purposely absent of California Dreamin' and the like.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

This week's rundown

It's ironic - when there's a lot to say, it's hardest to find the time to get it all down.

Tonight it's just me in the house, as P is on call at the hospital. Me and the kitties. I got home on the later side, as I went running with a work friend in the evening. It was a good night for it - a fast but heavy storm had just passed (leaving behind the most striking rainbow I have seen in years), and the air was cool. I plotted out a 5-ish mile route, and off we went. It was a nice little loop, and I'm going to do it again on my own.

Having her there with me nudged me to go a little faster and a little farther than I would have on my own, and it was great to have that extra push. She'll soon start a more rigourous training plan for the NYC marathon, but for now she's still pretty lax about things.

Speaking of NYC, I was down there for a meeting earlier this week, and happily took the time to run in Central Park. The hotel was around 48th and 8th, so I headed up to Columbus Circle, into the park, up the west side, crossing at 72nd, then back down towards the hotel. I always get a little turned around upon exiting the park, but quickly found my way back on track.

I arrived at the park around 7am, and was amazed at how many people were already there. It might as well have been 11am on a Saturday. Why is it that the bikers get dressed in full peloton gear on a Tuesday morning? And why is it that I never see them outside the park? It's as if they live there, looping around and around, looking as if they are about to head to the Tour de France.

It was great to be back in NYC. From the moment I stepped off the train it felt like home. Mind you, I've never actually lived in Manhattan. But having grown up on Long Island (go ahead - call me Bridge and Tunnel - I can take it), I spent my share of hours tooling around. I was reminded, yet again, why we will never stay in Manchester, NH.

I considered going to a concert while I was in the city - the True Colors tour was at Radio City that night, and I thought it would be great to see the show in NYC. Particularly Cyndi Lauper, as she's a Queens girl. P and I had gone to see the show in Boston the weekend before, however, so I didn't really feel a great need to go again.

I give P full credit for getting me to go to that show. I thought it would be totally cheesy and I would loathe the crowd. Both of those things were essentially true (loathe might be a strong word, but largely uninteresting), but it didn't matter. I loved the whole thing.

Turns out it was a bit of a queer healing fest of sorts for me. You see, when I was a wee'un, before the whole Realization Thing, I saw Erasure and was totally horrified. Andy Bell was so... utterly gay. I couldn't connect the dots, but I got super uncomfortable. This time around, it all made sense. And let's face it, their music is pure early 90's pop. For which I am a sucker.

Vince Clarke has upgraded himself to a nice Mac laptop, and basically just stood there pressing a button when the next song was to start. Andy B. worked his ass off dancing around. Very impressive.

Debbie Harry still has got it going on. She played some new songs (per her recording contract, I'm sure), and they were quite good. And, hey, it's Debbie fucking Harry. Respect!

Rufus Wainwright played a mellow set, which was in stark contrast to the striped, sparkled, and brightly colored outfits he and his bandmates all wore.

And Cyndi Lauper. Oh, Cyndi. I have loved thee since I was 12. Went to your original True Colors tour, and still recall when you sat on the edge of the stage at Madison Square Garden and sang an a capella version of said song. In a crowd of 30,000 people, you had us all captivated. I still have the concert program, near my saved copies of Sassy magazine.

This time around she was just as good. Sound problems didn't stop her from having the show continue, although it did make for some good live-not-Memorex moments. She also came out into the crowd and stopped right in front of us; I felt 13 again.

At the end of July I'm going to see Squeeze, which will also remind me of the teenage years. It seems to be a summer of tours of my youth. Have I reached that age?

Friday, June 15, 2007

In celebration of the victory in MA

Big news yesterday in MA, with the defeat of a ban on a constitutional amendment that would have banned same sex marriage. Below was a speech that I found particularly relevant and moving. Worthy of sharing.

And I'd marry P all over again!

Speech delivered by Rabbi Dan Judson, Interfaith Rally and March, June 14, 2007

Good morning, I wanted to begin this morning by teaching everybody some Hebrew words. To say good morning in Hebrew you say boker, meaning "morning," and "tov," meaning good. And what you learn, when you learn Hebrew is that the response to boker tov, "good morning" is boker or. Now, if you were to walk down the streets of Jerusalem, no one would actually say boker or to you, but this is what you learn in formal Hebrew school. But I want to say it with you this morning. I am going to start this morning by saying boker tov, and if you can respond with boker or, because here is what boker or means, it means a "morning of light." And this morning is most certainly a morning of light. It is a morning full of light.

I became a part of the RCFM nine years ago, so it feels like I have been preaching and talking and arguing about marriage a long time. And it feels like there is nothing new to be said, it is the same conversation with people again and again. I just hear the questions, I can press the button in my mind that has the answer I have given countless times.

"Rabbi, Rabbi, what about the bible Rabbi, a man shall not love a man the way a man loves a woman, how can we have marriage Rabbi what about the bible?" Press button number 1 in my mind, bible. Right I always say to folks who ask me this, that's great that you think that verse in the bible is so important because the bible actually says nothing about lesbians, doesn't mention it all, so you must be okay with two women getting married, you're halfway there.

Listen I say to them, I love the bible, but I am not a fundamentalist, and if you don't stone your rebellious son, or do any work on Shabbat than you are not a fundamentalist either. So what part of the bible are you going to listen to -- the one oddly phrased verse in Leviticus or the countless times the prophets enjoin us to care for those who are marginalized, the countless times the bible tells us to love our neighbor, love the stranger?

Rabbi, Rabbi, but marriage is the foundation of society. It's always been one man and one woman. Button number 2, history of marriage. It's a great point I always tell the person, it's just that the history of marriage in my own Jewish culture was that the man acquired the wife like property. And then I ask the person who is talking to me if he would like for me to get his wife to discuss a return to traditional marriage values.

Rabbi, Rabbi, but it's just too dramatic a change, in America we are not ready for it. Can't they just settle for civil union or something like that? Button 3, civil union. Yes, we should have one category for straight people and one category for gay people, separate but almost equal works out so well in society. I was just thinking that we should have separate categories for Jewish and Christian marriage that would work well.

Rabbi, Rabbi, I get this one sometimes, usually at the end of an argument, Rabbi Rabbi, it's just the forces of political correctness, gay marriage is just being pushed by the Massachusetts gay liberal agenda. And to this I say absolutely, it is the gay liberal agenda.

Maybe you have heard of the Massachusetts gay liberal agenda, I call it justice.

Maybe you have heard of the gay agenda, I call it equality.

Maybe you have heard of the gay agenda, it is called not living in fear anymore.

Maybe you have heard of the gay agenda, it is called embracing family.

Maybe you have heard of the gay agenda, it is called the real promise of America that we can live in freedom.

Maybe you have heard of the gay agenda, it is called the voice of the prophet calling out let my people be who I have created them to be.

Maybe you have heard of the gay agenda, I call it grace and truth and love.

So like I was saying, I have been a part of the RCFM for 9 years. And I remember when we used to have rallies. I very clearly remember we had one on City Hall Plaza, maybe 6 or 7 years ago, and we had maybe 15 people there. And I remember that people had signs that were two interconnecting rings that said, "Freedom to Marry." And I remember people walking by and they had no idea who we were, what in the world we were talking about, and they asked ,"Huh? Freedom to marry who?"

Freedom to marry who?

Nobody needs to ask freedom to marry who? We have gone from being cold outside on the plaza to being inside, with the governor and the leaders of both houses walking by our rally not asking who we were or what we were about, but saying "I am with you."

Not that long ago, you remember just 5 or 6 years ago, nobody was really seriously talking about marriage being law, we were just hoping to fight off defense of marriage acts which cropped up every year in the legislature. Legal Marriage was a distant dream.

But here we are, dream no more, as the psalmist said, Even maasu habonim, hayta le-rosh pina - The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.

I have this vivid memory from like 6 years ago, there was a defense of marriage bill that we were going to testify on. And the clergy on the other side were called to testify immediately, it was like a delegate of the archbishop and an orthodox rabbi and Martin Luther King's niece or something, and they said hateful, noxious, facile things about gay folk, and we waited to be called and waited for hours and hours and hours to explain about love, about acceptance. I am not even sure we ever got to speak that day.

But here we are today, love has beaten hate. That is what is so amazing. Love has beaten homophobia. The people who traffic in ignorance and hate have lost. Do they really think that after reaching the promised land we will settle for going back into the wilderness? I hope this ends today, I am tired of having these conversations, it is so painfully obvious what is right. But even if it doesn't end today, the people of Massachusetts will vote the right way. We will never go back to the days of being outsiders, we will never go back to the days when our voices were not heard, we will never go back to the days when gays and lesbians were stigmatized.

Today is a day full of light. Regardless of the vote, today is a day when love vanquished hate.

Rabbi Daniel Judson is the rabbi at Temple Beth David of the South Shore.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


P went away today. Off to have some quality time with her dad. Sweet that they are going away together, and I am glad that she has a whole week off. Life as a medical resident doesn't allow for much downtime.

I am on my own until Saturday. Just me and the cats. Who, by the way, are getting along much better. No more hissing, they sniff each other, etc. Ramona is still skittish, and I think that will last for another few months. She's settling in, but periodically has to go through retraumatizing events like a trip to the vet...

They told us she has to lose about 3 pounds. We could have told you that. Having watched Ramona clean her stomach, it is evident. Here is her current method: first, lean back on to tail region such that back paws lift up into the air. Then, take left paw and lift the flesh towards the head. Last, lick the belly. It is very funny to watch, and methinks the habit will (sadly) disappear along with the extra weight...

Speaking of extra weight, I have had an uninspired week of running. I went yesterday morning only through sheer will. And, of course, it was beautiful and enjoyable. It's all inertia.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

When you're hot you're hot...

And when you're not...

Friday was one of those running days that you look back upon and think, "that was one of the bad ones." There are days you feel like a champ, and days that suck. Friday was closer to the suck end of the spectrum.

Here's a small sample of the things flashing through my head whilst running:
  1. I'm tired
  2. I miss Ichabod
  3. I hope the new cat and Abner get along eventually
  4. I can't wait to get home so we can officially release New Cat from the bathroom and let her explore the house
  5. I'm beat
  6. Why am I running? I'm beat.
  7. You set a mileage goal this month. This is the last little bittle of it.
  8. Technically you're already there, if you include the 4 miler sans Nano last week.
  9. I want it to be "official"
  10. What happens if I don't hit one of the goals I set on the Nike+ site? Is there negative feedback?
  11. Why do I care so much what a computer thinks of me?
  12. It's not the computer - it's you v. you, idiot. That's part of why you run.
  13. Maybe I won't run the whole loop
  14. Do I like to run on Friday afternoons?
  15. What a long week at work.
  16. Next week isn't going to be any better.
  17. I need to work on that presentation for Monday...
  18. Am I going really slow?
  19. What happened to my headphones? Why is the left earpiece blinking in and out?
  20. How annoying that the sound keeps flipping on and off on my left.
  21. I wonder what's causing that? [tests various arm positions]
  22. Maybe I should make "Holiday" [Green Day, not Madonna] my "power song"
  23. Screw you, left earpiece. These headphones are done.
  24. Maybe I should make "Holiday" [Madonna, not Green Day] my "power song"
  25. I'm tired.
  26. I do like running Friday afternoons. It's one of my favorite times of the week.
  27. You know, you don't have to run the whole loop if you are just going to be miserable.
  28. I hope the cats start to like each other...

And so on and so forth. No focus, no concentration. I turned around after 1.5 miles and came back home. Total distance: 3.2 miles.

PS - New Cat has a new name. Ramona. P wanted to name her Fannypack Shizzlestein (Fanny for short), but I couldn't really see myself talking about our cat Fanny. So now she's Ramona Fannypack Shizzlestein. Pictures soon to follow.

Friday, June 8, 2007

And baby makes four

We made the move. There's a new cat in town.

Yesterday, P and I went to the local animal shelter to meet a cat we've had our eye on for the past week or so. She's all black, has oversized ears on a tiny head, and is somewhere around 4, give or take. She looked sweet and goofy in the pictures, and that's what we need given our other, more skittish, kitten.

Going to an animal shelter makes one want to sell their house, buy land, and take all the animals home with you. Then you wonder how you will afford to buy any of them food, and you go back to the initial plan of just getting one.

We came, we saw, we brought her home. Her name is currently Emma, but that is still up for discussion. We are considering naming her oomlaut the cat (insert two dots over the "a" in cat). Ooma for short. I'm open for other ideas.

When they handed her over, they also gave us her records from the shelter. She's come a long way, baby. She arrived, abandoned, at four pounds, not wanting to eat. Clearly she got over that, as now she's a bit of a porker. We'll be working on that. I also think she wasn't so into the whole bathing thing while in the shelter, as we basically brushed a full cat off of her last night. And there's more where that came from... Just you wait - with some better food, more chance to exercise, and lots of patience, she'll be back to her old self.

Ooma, Emma, whatever her name will be, is getting used to the new digs. She spent last night and today in the upstairs bathroom, getting used to being in a quiet, non-cage space. When we first brought her home, she was definitely a bit freaked (having spent the last four months in the shelter, that's not a shocker). In that small area, she started to warm up and show her personality.

Abner is not so thrilled with the whole situation. There's been lots of hissing both ways, but neither of them seems, thankfully, to be a fighter. They just stare at each other from a distance. I sort of want to pick them up and rub them together so they just get it over with.

This weekend is semi-dedicated to breaking them down and building their relationship. They don't need to be as tight as the Abner/Icky show, but tolerance would be nice.

Tonight we are working on relationships, and watching episode after episode of "Sex in the City." It never gets old.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

We're (mini) streaking!

Been running very consistently over the last week or so. Nearly every day. For a moment I thought to myself, "perhaps I can become one of those streaker people." Like polyamory, it seems to be one of those things sounds kinda nice in theory, but would take a little too much effort on my part.

Last night I went to the gym for the first time in months, as the rain was coming down sideways. It reminded me of why I like to run outside so much more (remind me sometime to write about the differences between morning gym goers and evening gym goers). Still, I hopped on to the treadmill with the goal of running fast and brief.

Sometimes I need to get over myself and remember that two miles still means something, particularly if you work it.

Treadmills are a bit funky to judge by, but I was surprised at how good it felt to go fast. According to the chip in my shoes, I was running about a 9:20 mile. And, get this, I could have kept going. I ended up at around 2.5 miles, and then ended on a high note.

And, as Sir Crank wisely advises, I drank water into the night...