Monday, May 21, 2012

Good and Bad

What makes a difference between one weekend to the next is what you remember.  Once a moment is gone you don't get it back except in the form of a memory. Often memories get clouded over time, as one weekend, one moment, blends into another. But every so often a weekend, a moment, comes by where the memory will be sharpened by how it is/was perceived by other people around you when the moment is happening. A memory, when sharpened correctly, is like a useful tool to be used when needed. A tool for laughs, a tool for learning, a tool for life that you lend to your friends over a couple of drinks. However if it is sharpened by the wrong hands, the memory will, poke, nick and slice the mind.

This past weekend was about making memories. It didn't start out that way. It just was. Sometime making a memory is unintentional. They just become.

Maxfield made his first appearance, ever, on the mound as a pitcher in a baseball game. Max was throwing as expected for his first outing, a little all over the place. But this division of little league has rules set up so kids can develop as pitchers and batters. These rules allow for kids to throw all over the place and encourage batters to look for and swing at good pitches. I, being one of his coaches, tried to take a step back and watch as his father. I took a couple of videos and cheered him on. Out of the corner of my eye I could see something was off. It was clear the coaches from the other team were unaware, uncomfortable and unprepared for this situation. I switched back to coach mode and explained the rules. At that point it was falling on deaf ears. I argued the merits of the rules again but to no avail.

Max's first outing as pitcher was cut short. He was denied a deserved strike-out and was shorted throwing to two more batters. Max looked defeated and slightly embarrassed. He was not taken out due to poor pitching, he was removed because the other coaches were unprepared. But Max's friends and team mates don't know that. I hope this memory, which should have been a good one fades in the minds of Max and his friends. Otherwise it is a good moment gone to a bad memory.

Wyatt and Ander are buddies in kindergarten and are on the same baseball team. Ander's dad recently purchased a camper and invited us over to check it out. After a quick camper tour Ander's dad offered me a beer. We sat at a table in the back yard shooting the breeze as Wyatt and Ander played on a tree swing. I took a step out of dad mode and enjoyed the conversation while the kids played. Out of the corner of my I could see Ander spinning Wyatt in the swing. He kept spinning and spinning. He seemed like he was having fun but something was off. I switched back to dad mode and started to voice my concern but it was too late. Wyatt was not prepared for the situation and said he did not feel well. We helped him out of the swing.

After a minute or two Wyatt behaved as expected and started throwing up. The tomatoes he ate for a snack sputtered out one by one, a little all over the place. Wyatt looked defeated and slightly embarrassed. I hope this memory, which not a pleasant situation, turns into sharpened tool for Wyatt and his friend Ander to use in the future. Wyatt will learn not to spin.  Ander can use it to to tell a funny story over a few drinks about how Wyatt threw-up in his back yard. A bad moment turns into a good memory.

Almost every night I ask my kids what were their favorite parts of the day. This gives me a chance to talk to them and learn from them. Sometimes their answer is one line. Other times the answers turn into discussions about the day.

Last night I asked the kids what was their favorite part of the weekened.

Maxfield took a few moments to think. He mentioned having a friend over on Saturday, going over a different friends house on Sunday and also that he participated in a run that morning. He did not mention baseball, which is good and possibly bad. I will wait to see how this memory forms.

Wyatt on the other hand, when I asked him his favorite part, without taking a breath said. "Barfing on Ander's yard."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


The whole thing started off innocent enough. Lauren, my lovely wife, in an effort to improve her running times and become more fit read a book call Brain Training For Runners. The book covers the mental aspects of training your body. Every few days Lauren would tell me about her discoveries in the book and how she implemented them into her work outs. I admit most were fascinating, but not enough for me to actually try. I believe somewhere in that book it mentioned that certain kind of foods increase the body's and brain's ability to function as an athlete.

This lead Lauren down a path of reading books about nutrition for athletes. Every so often she would tell me about certain foods she was trying. I started noticing a few different types of food containers in the pantry or fridge. Again fascinating discoveries about food that I never implemented into my routines.

Somewhere in the food book Lauren read about the book called the China Study and the documentary film Forks Over Knives which she of course got both from the library. Lauren discovered all kinds of great information in both sources. The overall message was one can reduce chronic illness and diseases and enhance their overall health by adopting a whole foods plant based diet and reducing the intake of processed foods. As Lauren started adopting these changes into our household I noticed Lauren was preparing our family meals a bit different. We were eating more salads, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. I, again, was noticing different types of food packages and containers in our pantry. Labels that read quinoa, tofu and soy were replacing certain staples of Lauren's cooking repertoire.

Lauren and I discussed our diets. Unlike the other discoveries I felt changing our diet was something in which I could participate. We both agreed that we were not eliminating all meat or processed foods but that we would be more conscientious of food labels. We would try to buy products that listed "true" ingredients with no artificial additives or fillers. All of the changes we were making were gradual.

The other night, after everyone was in bed, I had a hankering for snack. Earlier I spotted a few packages of hot dogs crammed in the freezer and I knew that one or two dogs would satisfy my craving. I noticed that the packaging was different than the usual hot dogs we buy and I thought that Lauren must have bought a "healthier" hot dog (if there is such a thing). I took a closer look at the label and did a double take.

This is what I saw.

I thought Lauren was taking the healthy eating true ingredients thing a bit too far.

I had three anus dogs that night. They were yummy.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Mom is #1

When we were younger, pre-teens, we were not allowed to curse. My parents rarely swore or used any type of bad language. I should say my dad rarely swore or used bad language. My mother, on the other hand, would use shit, damn, hell and bitch, but always in context and most likely due to one of us kids driving her crazy. She usually cursed towards the end of the day when her patience would be running out. Here are some examples.

Example 1
Kid: Mom? Michael stuck a quarter up his nose and we can’t get it out.
Mom: Shit.

Example 2
Kid: Mom? I think you left the spaghetti on the stove too long. It is bubbling all over the place.
Mom: Damn it.

Example 3:
Kid: Mom? I think we broke Bobby’s (my best friend and the kid across the street) collarbone.
Mom: Aw Hell. I will call Midge.

Example 4
Kid: Mom? Michael stuck his head in the radiator and he can’t get it out.
Mom: Son of a bitch. He will have to wait until his father gets home.

There was one swear word she would use if she was really, really mad and it was usually only uttered if someone spilled their milk at the dinner table. Spilling a drink at the dinner table was one of worst crimes we could commit. It drove my mother batty.

Kid: (Knocks over glass)
Mom: Jesusmaryandjospeh.

My parent’s rarely fought in front of us as well. Sure they would get mad at each other but most arguments, if there was an argument, happened behind closed doors, out of the earshot of the kids. As we all grew and entered our teenage years we could get away with a few four letter words as long as they were not directed towards another sibling. Any curses spoken to or about another sibling that was overheard by my mom resulted in our mouths being washed out with soap. Also, as we were all mostly in our teenage years my parents became a little more relaxed about their arguing in front of us.

I remember the first time I saw my mom directing a middle finger gesture to my dad. I was about 16 and I was shocked. I asked her why it was okay for her to flip the bird to my dad when if I did it I would get a bar of Irish Spring as a snack. My mom’s response was quick.

“I wasn’t giving him the finger. I was telling him I think he is Number One.”

Calling someone Number One is now sort of a term of endearment for me. If someone has a smart-ass comment with me, if someone is busting my stones, or if I am having a playful argument I usually call that person Number One.

If you live in the Philadelphia area the Camden River Sharks are hosting a Mother's appreciation night on Wednesday, May 16. As part of the game, mothers can receive free admission to the game by presenting their Mother’s Day Card at the Box Office the day of the game. The River Sharks are also sponsoring an essay contest go here for details.

If you need a gift for mom, check out this cool game. Mother the Game.The boardgame for anybody who's ever had one. Players must choose a type of Mother: Passive-Aggressive, Overbearing, Doting, or Best Friend, and then answer a variety of trivia, role playing, and other mother-related questions pertaining to the specific Mother they have chosen.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mother's. But remember my mom is #1.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Broadstreet Run

"Agent Meakim, your government needs you." Agent Spider barked.

Agent Spiderw was the head of F.A.R.T.E.R, Fast Action Response Team Emergency Runners. Spider was the top recruiter for the secret government agency.

"Are you up for this mission?" Spider barked again. "You're the only one that can do this."

Agent Meakim listened as Spider described the mission. On May 6th 2012 the Biological Underground Guerrilla Soldiers, or B.U.G.S. as they were known, were planning on releasing a silent but deadly toxin throughout the city of Philadelphia. They were going to use the annual Blue Cross Blue Shield Broad Street Run as cover. Agent Meakim would need to run 10 miles, from one end of Philadelphia to the other, carrying a secret Antidote for the biological weapon. Meakim would need to run in the middle of 40,000 other people exposing as many to the antidote as possible. However Meakim also needed to get the antidote to the end location in under an hour and 28 minutes to prevent the silent but deadly toxin for spreading. Meakim did not want to let the people down and agreed to the mission.

Meakim would need to train for a few months in order to make the time. January through April agent Meakim trained in the cold, the rain, early mornings, late at night to prepare for this test.

On the morning of May 6th Agent Meakim woke up at 2:30 AM with a severe stomach bug. She was up all night. There was no way she was going to be able to complete the mission. The people of Philly were doomed. Luckily Agent Meakim had a back-up plan. Under the guise of living a healthier lifestyle Agent Meakim talked her husband into training for the same race. She explained the situation, he would now have to be the secret F.A.R.T.ER., a task she thought he could surely handle. After all, he too had trained hard all winter to run this race. He even went as far as losing an extra 8 lbs to help improve his time. Bill had some doubts. Last year Bill ran the same race in 1:46:- ish but he was Agent Meakim's only hope.

Bill Meakim had to attend the race without his companion and inspiration, but he had a mission to complete. He was determined to be the best F.A.R.T.E.R. ever. Due to his wife being very ill and the fact that he could not find his good luck wristbands Bill got off to a late start. He arrived at the subway station 20 minutes after he originally planned. This filled him with anxiety, Bill always likes to be early. Distracted by inspecting his backpack for his post run change of clothes and his special running shoes, Bill mistakenly followed the crowd and jumped on the local stop subway instead of the express which put him another 20 minutes behind. By the time Bill got to the starting line he missed the buses that would take his gear to the finish line. Bill now had to run the 10 miles with an extra 8 to 10 pounds on his back.

Bill, wearing his green and grey Vibram running shoes, a brown school bag back pack, red shorts a grey shirt and without his lucky wristbands marched towards the starting line. The last time Bill ran 10 miles his time was over the hour twenty eight mark. He was alone with 40, 000 other people. Sweat was already trickling down his back as the anxiety engulfed him. The air horn sounded and Bill took off running.

Bill's time for the first mile was 7:39. He was doing great, except he knew he started off too strong. He ran mile two a little slower, coming in at 8:03 pace. By mile four Bill finally found a comfortable pace at 8:50 ish but would it be enough? He was getting slower. Bill knew he had to get the antidote to the end. He reached into his pocket for a handful of jelly beans. Lots of runners use jelly beans for the sugar and the pick up they provide. These beans were now provided the extra fuel for Bill Meakim F.A.R.T.E.R. Agent.

Mile 7 and 8 proved difficult for Bill. His legs felt weak. The back pack was causing irritation and pain. His mind started to wonder off the task at hand. He thought of his wife at home, affected by the bug. The bug, the B.U.G.S. The enemy had gotten to her. Bill threw another handful of beans into his mouth and he picked up his pace. He ran hard. He felt like he was breaking the wind. He knew he had to put the F in F.A.R.T.E.R.

The last two miles were a blur. Bill checked his watch as he crossed the finish. 1:27:58 He did it. He saved the city of Philadelphia.

Special agent Spider greeted Bill with a smile.

"You had me worried there back at mile 7." Spider said. His voice sounding as if someone had stepped on a duck. "Flat, you went. Flat."

"Well I did not want to let you or my wife down." Bill responded. "I still had some gas left in the end."

Special agent Spider awarded Bill a medal and asked him to stick around and celebrate.

Bill refused. He wanted to return to his wife as soon as possible. He saved some of the antidote for her.

Besides he did not want anyone to know that he was a F.A.R.T.E.R.

---I ran the Broad Street 10 Mile race. My official time was 1 hour, 27 minutes. 56 seconds, almost 20 minutes faster than I ran last year. Lauren, who trained for four months was too sick to run. I was happy and proud of my time but the accomplishment kind of sucks when there is no one there to celebrate with you.