January 29, 2007

About to Die

"I'm going to die!!! Help me! I'm going to die!"

We heard this before we saw the person screaming these fateful words.

Those are dreaded words in the emergency room. You see, somehow, and I have never understood how and probably won't until I am the one making that proclamation, a person knows when they are about to die. Now I'm not talking about the "yea I have brain cancer and my doc says I have 3 months" I'm about to die but rather the "There's an elephant on my chest and I can't breathe" I'm about to die. They know...

So this guy, late 20's, staggers through the ER doors Saturday night holding his hand to his right neck. One look at the guy and you knew he was in some serious trouble.

He had the look of a battle-worn street soldier. Wife-beater, sagged hip-hop-inspired black jeans, black nylon do-rag, Timberland boots... And tats everywhere, including a couple of teardrops on his face.

But I didn't notice the tats, nor the clothes, until later. All I saw was blood.

He staggers in and flails himself across the triage desk. He is holding his right hand to his neck, trying ineffectively to keep the blood from pulsing out of his body.

Blood is everywhere. His clothes are saturated and dripping. Bloody boot-prints, blood squirting onto the floor and desk and our registration clerk...

The triage nurse called for help, and we got him on a stretcher and pushed him into a resuscitation room to save his life.

He was screaming when he walked in, but he's now just a whimper of a man as the nurses start to cut off his clothes. I do a quick inspection and note that he's been shot in the right neck, no apparent exit wound. His pulse is thready and his blood pressure is dangerously low.

I intubate him rapidly and then place a large-bore IV into a central vein to begin giving him blood. A tech holds pressure on the wound to control the massive hemorrhage. His blood pressure rises to safer levels...

The trauma surgeon arrives and takes him to the operating room. Total time in the ER - 13 minutes!

Almost 3 hours of surgery later, the man is alive and the damage is controlled. He'll be on the ventilator for several days until the swelling is no longer a threat to his airway. But he'll live...

In Birmingham the violent crimes have been increasing over the last several years. The homicide rate is trending up, reversing several years of decline. Noone knows why. I don't pretend to know why.

But I've seen way too many kids and young people and innocent people fall victim to this increasing violence. I've seen 12 and 14 year old girls riding in the backseat of a car get shot and killed while their mom pumped gas. I've seen a 2 year old kid get shot and killed while sleeping in her bed. Just recently I pronounced dead an 18 year old girl, 9 months pregnant, who was stabbed to death by her baby daddy's ex-girlfriend.

It's tragic. And there's no easy solution. Take away guns, but they don't disappear. Lock more people up, but there always are others to take their place.

Respect. Treating others as you would be treated. Realization that it's a big world, and you are such a minor player. Somehow the solutions have to lie somewhere in these concepts. But how? How do you get people to think before they act? To respect?

I don't have the answers... I wish I did.

I'm tired of hearing healthy young kids tell me they are about to die...

Tri Tag

I've been tagged by Robin! So, here goes...

1. Describe a memory from your first triathlon ever
I had swam my first lap ever probably 2 weeks before the Mt Lakes Sprint Tri. I was so naive about swimming and triathlon, I didn't know how scared I should have been about the 600 yard lake swim. Yikes!!! Luckily, about 400 of the 600 yards was shallow enough to walk/run, so I only had to swim, er doggy paddle, about 200 yards!

2. Describe a memory from your most recent triathlon
50 yards into the 1500 meter swim at the Music City Tri, my goggles started leaking water. I tried to adjust, over and over, with no luck. I was so frustrated, and I already was scared of the swim, and it made that 45 minutes in the lake the MOST miserable experience EVER!

3. What's the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you in a tri?
See # 2. 5th slowest swim, not just in my age group, but EVERYbody.

4. What's the most thrilling thing that's happened to you in a tri?
Ok, I think this is probably belaboring the point of how miserable that swim was, but... The most thrilling thing that's happened is FINALLY crawling out of the lake at Music City Tri last year (06).

5. What is something you discovered about yourself by doing triathlons?
I never knew that I could be so stoked about busting my ass and pushing my body to extremes of exertion for 15 hours each week to work toward a goal 6 months away. I think I have always been afraid of giving everything I can, and that leaves me with regrets that I don't want. Triathlon is teaching me about exposure and transparency. Those in the know tell me that every flaw will be readily apparent over 140.6...

6. What is The Big Goal that you're working towards?
Oh you know the answer to this one.... KONA!!!

So now I'm supposed to tag 6. Let's hear from TJ, Michelle, Momo, Tripp, E-speed, and the Bluebirdbiker...

January 25, 2007


"It is always the same: once you are liberated, you are forced to ask who you are."
Jean Baudrillard

"All the world's a stage,And all the men and women merely players.They have their exits and their entrances,And one man in his time plays many parts,His acts being seven ages." William Shakespeare

It's tough to find your identity in a world where constantly we are bombarded with images of the superhuman and unnatural. Barbie bodies and over-hyped hoopsters suggest that we must be perfect to be important.

MTV is in on it. Their show Cribs lets the 20 second celebrity brag to the hometown about their McMansions and borrowed Ferraris, but they never seem to show the environmentalist living in the self-harvested log home on solar energy and well water. Not sexy enough... I mean, if you can't play baseball in your bathroom is your house really anything to be proud of?

And this need to be over-the-top crazy sexy cool in a 50 Cent kind of way forces us, many of us, to try to identify ourselves by what we have and how people perceive us.

I played a non-scientific non-consented experiment on a couple of my nurses last night at work. I asked each of them to tell me how she identifies herself.

"I'm a 24 year old female, I live in Birmingham, I have blond hair and brown eyes... Uhm, I live in ____ Condos on Highland Avenue, I drive an Infinity. What else do you want to know?"

And, asked separately and without knowledge of her colleague's answer, "I am a 28 year old graduate of Southern Cal, I'm a nurse, I have dark brown hair and brown eyes, I drive a Mitsubushi Montero and I live with my boyfriend in Grey____."

Now admittedly, young 20 something single female nurses are not a representative sample of the population, but they're close enough.

Both of these girls, like so many people, define themselves by what they have and what they look like. That is what our culture has done to us.

And you know what, I think it sucks.

I fall into the same traps. I used to want a nosejob because my Great-granddad's Greek nose found its way to my face and that, along with 2 breaks, left me with a heck of a honker. My New Year's resolution for several years was to get it "fixed," but for some reason I never did.

Know what? I couldn't be happier that I didn't follow through. My nose is my nose, and I could care less now how curvaceous it is. Now it does bother me that I can only breathe through one nare, but that's a different topic altogether...

Now, in addition to identifying ourselves by how other perceive us, we also identity ourselves based on our current activities. I frequently am sucked into this one.

For example, I maintain a blog; therefore, I am a blogger. I train and compete in triathlons; therefore, I am a triathlete. It's my opinion that this is unfair, and here's my reasoning.

Now I've done a lot of things in my life, some of them (in my humble opinion) amazing and some embarrassing and hurtful. I once was heavily involved in Democratic party politics. I held the position of president of a regional party chapter, I went to national conventions and hobnobbed with supposed bigwigs, and I even got to speak to Congress at the US Capitol. But never would I want to be identified as a politician. Especially not now, many years removed from those activities. Now it would be very easy, especially back then, for someone to call me a politician. I probably called myself a politician.

But saying "He is a politician" suggests the same absolute and incontrovertible truth as saying "He is a male" or "He is the only son of Carolyn." It implies that it is a trait of a person, a characteristic of a person, an integral component of a person. It does not suggest that it is merely an activity in which the person participates.

And you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who currently would mistake me for a politician. So did that characteristic, that integral component to my character change? No. It was never there. Politics was merely a game I played for a few years.

And that's why I disagree with identifying yourself by the activity in which you are currently participating.

I've learned that there are only 2 ways in which I identify myself. I am a father, and I am a physician. I believe those are ingrained character traits, inseparable from the person I call me. So that's who I am.

I am a physician and father who writes, and paints and runs and cooks and (rarely these days) blows smoke rings at the coffee shop. But I'm not a writer, nor a painter nor a cook nor a smoker.

I'm just a dad, and a physician.

And that's my identity. Thanks for reading My Daily Spin.

January 24, 2007


It slithers snakelike into your soul at the first hint of invitation. It captures you when you are weak, as you watch the others cry and sweat and bleed and risk injury and sometimes death.

You don't know what immediately, but you know something is happening. You begin to look around, see how others do it, and you ask your body if you too can do it.

And then you start...

You talk to the warriors... You read about the elite troops... You wonder if someday you can be like them.

And you realize that it changes you. It takes control of you. It empowers and humbles you. It strengthens you. It sharpens and tempers you.

It forces you to neglect the less important, and sometimes the most important. It commands you to reexamine your life priorities, again and again and again.

And then one day, one day you awake and you realize, I am not it, but it is me.

And you live with it. And you thrive with it.

And it slithers snakelike into the soul of all with whom you share it.

January 22, 2007

Another Lesson Learned

Sometimes you have to take a step back and ask yourself, "what the ef did I do that for?"

I had one of those moments today shortly after I confirmed that my eardrum was ruptured.

You see, it started off as a little trip over to the indoor shooting range to play with bad boy toys for a couple of hours. Now I admit I am not a marksman by any stretch of the imagination. I used to own a rifle when I still lived with my parents as a young teenager, but it has been locked in their gun safe ever since my brooding phase 15 years ago. And I've never owned a handgun.

But my friend Jim recently bought a pistol, so we took it to the range for its inaugural firing. We rented a .40 caliber Springfield to compare to his .22 caliber, and we loaded up with about a 1000 rounds of ammo.

We played for a couple of hours, and all was well until we started to gather our stuff to leave. Another guy had started firing his .45 in the stall next to us, and I noticed that his gun was so much louder than either of the ones we had been firing.

I realized why his gun seemed so much louder when I exited the range and pulled out my earplugs, only to find that my left ear plug apparently had fallen out at some point. I couldn't hear a thing with that ear.

When I got to work this evening I had a colleague check my eardrum for me, and of course, it has a nice hole in it.

What the ef did I do that for?

Note to self: If you go shooting again, buy some decent ear protection first...

January 21, 2007

Another Rung

Two exceptionally cool and novel experiences for me today:

First, I couldn't wait to get to the pool. I know, this doesn't seem like a big deal. But you have no idea how much I have dreaded swimming. It's hard to do what you suck at over and over and over again. Today was different somehow though. I woke with water in my mind, visualizing my stroke, anxious to continue working to become a swimmer.

And when I got to the pool, I jumped in immediately. None of that sit on the side with my feet in for 5 minutes acting like I was adjusting my goggles when really I was trying desperately to keep from turning and running. Amazing!

I swam 750 yards straight. 750!!! I've never done that... I was supposed to have done it, but I never could. Today I left my watch in the locker, never looked at the pool timer, and just swam. And yea, it's almost cliche, but I felt like I could go further.

Know what? This is really going to happen!

January 18, 2007

The Bank Robber and Change

I want to tell you about a guy I met last night at work in the ER.

I was cruising through my 9 hour shift, seeing my patients, teaching my medical students and residents; there was nothing spectacular or TV-worthy. But there was this one patient who fascinated me, not so much for who he is, because I truly despised who he is, but more for the honesty with which he is who he is.

I forgot his name as soon as I walked out of his room - a protective device I learned years ago to allow me to separate someone's tragedy from my reality and keep me from dwelling endlessly about what ifs. He was probably 45 or 5o years old, with a smoke-dry cracked voice and the kind of wrinkles that come only from years of worry and regret. His hands were thick and yellow, callused by the hardness of poverty.

He had been released from the state prison just a few days ago. In Alabama, when you are released, you get a bus ticket to anywhere in the state, your prison possessions, and a date with your parole officer. He came to see me to get medicine to control his hypertension and diabetes. You see, Alabama doesn't care about your problems once you aren't their problem.

I sat down and talked with this guy for 15 or 20 minutes, much longer than I needed but not nearly as long as I wanted. He told me the case he just cleared was 2 years for a parole violation charge that resulted from his possessing stolen property. I asked him for what he had originally been paroled.

"Which time?"

Hmmm. "I suppose the last time." I knew I was captured at this point and would be spending way too much time with him. This kind of thing fascinates me.

"Bank robbery."

"Oh... Well, what about the other times?"

"Mostly bank robberies, couple of grand theft autos." Stack of pancakes with two strips of bacon on the side please... He continued, "You see, I could rob the 7-11 or the Food Giant, but why? I mean, If I get caught the time is the same, so why not go where the money is at? I rob banks. If I want a hood ornament off a car, I ain't just gonna take the hood ornament I'm gonna take the car. I'll get the same amount of time if I'm caught, so why waste my time on a hood ornament?"

Perception of the Criminal Mind 101.

We talked for a while longer, mostly him telling me his life story, in and out of prison. He had been a certified paralegal for 20 some odd years, a trade he learned at state expense during a stint for felony fraud for bad checks. He told me he was leaving tomorrow to drive to Mississippi to research an appeals case for a "client" still "falsely" imprisoned at Kilby Correctional (he told me this shortly after he told me he was banned by Alabama from ever having a driver's license because he had stolen so many cars...)

I wished him well, and hoped aloud that he would be able to make the money he needed through the legal work without resorting to more criminal activity.

"That won't happen," he declared. "I'm a robber. I rob. It don't matter if I got a job, it don't matter how much money I got. It's just in me. I gotta do it."

And that made me think more about this concept of change, about whether a person ever really changes at all. Think of a person, if you will, as an automobile with an endless tank of gas on roads with no redlights and no deadends. Now imagine that car continues down the road until it is nudged, either by another vehicle or by nature, onto a different path.

So the car is always the same, but the path changes. Now the occupants of the car come and go, but the basic chemistry and mechanics of the car never change.

We, I, have always felt like I can change. I can go out with a new group of friends and have a couple of beers and they think I should headline Comedy Hour. That must mean I have changed into a funny guy. Or I can run a marathon, and that will change me somehow.

I can do this or that, and it will change me. We hear it all the time on the telly. Oprah changes lives by giving away a new car or house or a makeover. Lives are forever changed by the wicked tornado that tore away their home. For just $29.99, you too can be a millionaire real estate investor and your life will never be the same.

But you know what, it's lies. All lies. You will be the same. I will be the same. We don't change, and we can't change. If I win the Mega Millions Friday night and pocket the $25 million, I'll be a helluva lot wealthier. But I'll still be a bit more passive than I should be, I'll still have the unreasonable need to brush my teeth even after the tiniest of sugar-free snacks, I'll still have a temper that sometimes flares at the most inopportune times, I'll still have trouble reconciling my faith with mainstream religion.

I will not change. I cannot change. I may be able to train my body to react in certain ways to certain stimuli. My paths, my journeys, may lead me through forests unimagined and tornadoes and ironman races and cancers and heart attacks and death and sorrow and loss of a child (God forbid...) and riches and power and who knows what else....

But I, I'll never change. Never...

And in a way, that is liberating. If I, if you, can live knowing that nothing will change you, you can live fearlessly. You can accept the journeys, the twists and turns and loopbacks of this roller coaster ride of life, and know that you will still be the same person when you exit the ride as when you started. It's just a ride.

Enjoy it, laugh at it, live it. Tell others... Find yourself... Know where you will be when the ride ends... Repeat until it's done...

At least, I suppose, I think its safe to say that I'll never be a bank robber.

Thanks for joining me on My Daily Spin.

January 17, 2007

My Declaration

I need to make a declaration.

But first, let me explain. I think way too much. As much as I try to shut down this locomotive, it still pushes forward endlessly, trouncing over obstacles, day and night, until finally it reaches some imagined endpoint and squeals metal on metal to a painful stop.

Except this locomotive of mine never seems to stop.

So I have to guide it, cajole it, patronize it. I feed it with new ideas, and I eventually make concrete the progress, or lack thereof, of its spinning in the form of action. Frequently the action lands here, allowing definiteness for me and transparency for you.

I've been thinking a lot about this race season, trying to separate dream from goal. It's harder than I imagined. I mean, hell, I can picture myself cruising past the Normanator in the lava fields, then galloping along for a 2:30 marathon to take the podium with my kids all cheering by my side. But we'll let that be next year's goal, this year's dream...

But I don't want to cut myself short either. I'd rather aim high and land short than aim low and hit the bullseye.

That being said, there's not a chance in hell that I won't reach my goal. It just ain't gonna happen...

Now, back to my declaration. My first race goal of the season: IM Wisconsin - sub 11:30. This one's going to burn!!

Thanks for reading My Daily Spin.

January 16, 2007

How do you decide to change?

There are times in your life when you happen upon something that makes you believe it will take you to a better, more fulfilling place. That something may present itself in the form of religion, or a new partner, or a new athletic endeavor, or countless other ways.

If you follow that path and journey down the unknown road to the potentially fulfilling place, you may find the answers to questions you never knew existed, or you may find yourself absolutely clueless.

But every time you stumble upon such a fork in the road, you have to ask yourself this basic question: Do I stay or do I go? Do you stay in your comfort zone or do you reach out and grasp at the unknown, with all of its potential promises and possible pitfalls?

There are three basic things you have to know before making the decision to plod into the unknown or stay the course.

First, you have to know what the worst that can happen by not trying this hot new thing. Will you die of your otherwise incurable breast cancer without trying the experimental drug? In addition to the potential physical consideration, the emotional toll of not trying can be devastating on the psyche. Can you live with yourself if you don't do it?

My dad used to tell me a story about an opportunity he had to go rafting on the Colorado river. A couple of his friends were going, and they had invited him along for the 5 day camping and whitewater trip. Well, he didn't exactly have the money at that time, although he told me later that he thought he probably could have pinched pennies and liquidated a couple of assets to ante up. He didn't, and he regretted until the day he died turning away from that opportunity.

The second thing you have to ask yourself is what are the potential benefits from trying the new road? Is this going to lead you somewhere that you might want to go? Or is the journey itself worth the risk, no matter the destination? I decided when I was a teenager that I wanted to complete a marathon. It took me more than 20 years after making that declaration to finally do it. For me, I followed that path because the destination was the goal, not the journey. But there are just as many examples of the means and not the ends being the path to fulfillment.

The final thing that you must consider when deciding whether to venture down a new path is whether you can handle failure. If you venture out, and it leads to a place you don't want to be, are you willing to backtrack? Can you pick up the pieces and move on? Or will you be stuck in the miserable job that looked so promising when you pursued it and be fearful of trying something different because, who knows, it might even be worse?

This brings up one of the strongest factors that anchors us to the status quo - fear. There are so many people, I among them, who are afraid of change.

One of my nurses in the ED has worked in our department for the last 5 or 6 years. She is a hard-working, compassionate nurse but absolutely hates her job. We've talked about this on several occasions, and I have tried to persuade her to try working in another part of the hospital, or even at another hospital. But she won't, because she is concerned that even though she is miserable now something different may be even worse. And so she is stuck.

There are examples of fear of change everywhere. I drink about 12 ounces of coffee each morning. It's something I've done fairly consistently for many years. Now I know that caffeine is an addiction and I am an addict. But I am afraid to stop it - I don't want to deal with caffeine-withdrawal headaches, I don't want to increase my morning fiber to take the place of that wonderful, moving, side-effect of coffee. I'll accept this fault because I'm afraid of changing. Is it a good thing? I don't think so, but I'm not always a good person.

So fear has to be overcome before deciding to journey on a new or unknown path. And the risks and benefits of taking the journey versus staying your course need to be considered.

Life constantly offers us diverging roads. Some we take, some we ignore. The roads we choose suggest who we are, and they determine who we will become. So choose carefully, but not too carefully, and always enjoy the moment.

Thanks for reading My Daily Spin.

January 15, 2007


Today is training rest day # 1.

I started off the season with a 10 day camp of sorts, actually just me busting my arse trying to whip myself back into the routine. I concluded yesterday with a 31 mile bike (1:24:30), a 2 mile dreadmill run on 9 % grade (18:12), and 1000 yard swim with a main set of a 500 TT (10:35).

Obviously my swim is my weakest point, so that is what I am spending more time on these days. Drills, drills drills (heh, kind of reminds me of Vince and Tommy and friends from back in the day - Girls, girls, girls...)... Then more drills. My swim coach doesn't want me to do any main set swims longer than 100 repeats, but I'm stubborn and it just seems like I need longer swims.

Plus, I've got this little goal I invented of a 30 minute mile by April 1, and of course I need to work on the longer yardage swims for that, right? So I think I will do mainly 100 repeats and drills, but at least once a week do a main set of a progressively longer TT. So maybe at the end of this week I will aim for 750 straight, then increase weekly or every other week by 250's. Baby steps(although they seem like huge leaping Neal Armstrong on the moon steps compared to my pitifully weak swim right now)...

In other TriJack tri news, it's all systems go for Ironman Switzerland, just over 5 months away. It's funny how things happen. Ya know, I did my first tri ever in the late summer of 2006. But I realized shortly thereafter that I had the capability of doing big things in tri - not saying podium finishes but the ability to race and compete and encourage. I wanted to do a full IM, but all of the North America IM races for 2007 were full already. So I paid a ridiculous price to buy a training package that included an IM WI race entry. Then I realized that there were international IM events with spots open, so I jumped on the IM Swiss opportunity. Now, instead of no IM's for 2007, I will compete in not only 1 but 2! Wicked, eh?

I'm also looking around for a new tri bike. I've sold my Cervelo One, because quite honestly the frame was too small for me (definitely poor fit is a downside to an ebay used bike purchase), and I am just riding my S Works Stumpjumper Pro Mt Bike for now. I've flirted with the idea of a Felt B2 or an Orbea Orca, both of which are kickass bikes. But I'm concerned that I will have more bike than talent and look silly riding a $4k bike while getting passed by guys on Mt bikes or something. So I'm looking in the sub $2k range, and right now leaning toward the Cervelo Dual. Any opinions?

One final note. I've noticed that many bloggers have dedicated training songs for the year. Well, I kinda thought that was silly until I recently heard Thousand Foot Krutch, Move. For the last week, every run and gym session my MP3 has been on repeat mode with this song. Yea, there is a message behind the lyrics, but whether you identify with the artist's intended message or not, it rocks just the same. If you can't get pumped with Move, you can't get pumped... Click on the Youtube link for the video, or on the Trijack audio tag for a listen... Enjoy!

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

January 12, 2007


I started the confrontation with honorable intentions, but by the end, there was nothing honorable about it.

I had just left the gym, and was driving the thirsty SUV (with its thirsty TriJack and the two youngest of the troupe) down a 30 mph almost-residential street. And believe it or not, I actually was a tad under the posted speed, which is something of a rare occurrence for my fully leaded right foot...

So I'm driving along, minding my own, and this half bald guy sucking on a Camel in his VW passes me over the double yellows. What the...

Now admittedly I am a passive person, and I'd rather say to myself "what an idiot" than say it to the idiot under almost all conditions. But today, for some reason, I took action.

The pedal hit the floor and I hit 60 to catch him within about a minute, then followed the balding sloth through the neighborhood shopping village. I tailed him close enough to make sure he knew I was there, and I tried to look the menacing part of the bald headed (yea, I know, but mine is by choice) goatee'd guy I am.

Except I probably looked more like I was in pain than menacing, but hey, like I said, this is a rare thing for me and I frankly don't get much menacing-look practice...

Anyway, he stopped at a red light (shocker he didn't run the damn thing...) and, taking advantage of an empty left turn lane, I pulled up beside him. And then it was on...

Now I already had decided I was going to take the controlled, guilt-evoking format as opposed to the more-natural-for-me 4 letter tirade. And so it started,

"You know, sir [I actually said sir, believe it or not...], not only was passing me back there illegal but it's the same kind of thing the guy did that hit my brother head-on last year and killed him." A blatant lie, but it sounded good at the time, and quite frankly I'm not above a random lie here or there to a random person to make a good point.

"Well why don't you get off your phone and drive?"

Interesting response, especially since I wasn't on my phone until after he had passed me and I was passing along his tag number to Mt Brook police in hopes they would come give him a whopper of a ticket for something (God knows they've given me plenty for my overweight foot...)

By then, the light had turned green and the cars in front of him already had driven off, leaving us there to obstruct traffic.

"Sir, your light is green so you can go now, and unlike your pass back there that actually would not be illegal."

"Up yours."

At this point, the part of me that wanted to be controlled and guilt-evoking was gone, and the 4-letter tirade me was back.

I let loose a couple of choice phrases, mostly with regards to his sexual relationship with himself, as we both started to drive forward, and then it was over. Luckily, Anna and Aidan both had their headphones on listening to a movie, so they were oblivious to the proceedings.

So, what started honorably ended with me lying and cussing him out. Oh well, heh, it still made me feel pretty damn good!

January 11, 2007


Sometimes no matter how independent you fancy yourself, you just have to bite the bullet and ask for help...

January 10, 2007

About Me

I'm starting to realize that it isn't about me.

There was a time, probably not too very long ago, when I honestly and unfailingly believed that I could affect anything and everything so as to produce my desired outcome. I was that confident, that foolish.

But anything out of control eventually crashes.

Like 7 years of way-too-young marriage that ends with private investigators and high speed car chases across the southeast...

Like my race car inching off the track in Canada Corner at Road America sending me spinning out of control at 140 mph toward an unforgiving concrete wall...

Like my unrestrained hubris...

I'm learning that no matter how much I micromanage, I have little control in most outcomes.

Yea, I can train for hours on end for months for a marathon, but I have no control when I hit 24 miles and weep like a new war widow... I can detail that Maserati daily for months, but if the battery is drained then I'll just keep on admiring her from afar...

The only thing I know for certain is one day, maybe today, maybe in a dozen or more years, I will die. Nothing else is guaranteed, and nothing I can do or say or want or feel will make anything or anyone happen. I can want it, but unless all the planets align and all the interested parties agree, wanting won't lead to having.

And that's hard to accept, but essential. If I can understand that I really have no control, then everything becomes much simpler. No worries... What will happen will happen. And that's all...

And this I now know - it isn't all about me...

January 9, 2007

a swim goal, and random musings...

It's finally training time! The mind-numbing creature called the off season, in which I had to be more dormant than I ever wanted due to my post marathon IT band issues, has finally ended. Whew!

I was supposed to have a grand kick off yesterday, but - I just couldn't wait... Remember that pre-Christmas feeling when you were a kid and are magnetically drawn to the closet where your Christmas presents are hidden? Well, that was me...

So I've been going full speed since Friday and I feel it in every muscle in my body. Oh I love that good pain feeling.

I met with swim coach Lisa yesterday (speaking of, man what an exhausting day. I got off the overnight shift at 0700, then home to gather my swim stuff and off to Atlanta (2 1/2 hour drive) to meet Lisa. She tortured me for 45 minutes, then I drove back to Birmingham and forced a 2 hour nap. I then had a 25 mile bike ride to accomplish before being back at work at 19:00. Awesome!).

Anyway, Lisa said about the funniest thing I've heard lately - "We probably only need about 2 more sessions before your stroke will be solid!" I laughed out loud... I think she was trying hard to make me feel better about panting like a dog after just a half hour of drilling... It didn't work!

I need a motivating goal for the swim. Yea, finishing the IM swim course works, but I need an intermediary. Something specific for which I can aim... I'm thinking 1 mile, 30 minutes, April 1.

Yea, I know, this is probably what a 12 year old girl can do after a 2 month layoff. But this would be infinitely faster than my 5th slowest time (overall, not in my age group) at the Music City Tri last fall. Never again will I be embarrassed like that...

There, it is said. On April 1st I will swim 1 mile in under 30 minutes. Man, that feels good to say...

So I'm going to wrap this up with some reactionary thoughts that exploded in me a few days back. It's funny how emotions play with us - toss, tumble, torture, titillate, and take us eventually to either a peak or a valley where we are left to find meaning of it all...

and now she's givin' me a little piece of her sickness...
it's 3 am and i can't sleep. you see, there's this girl...
it's always about a girl ain't it?
except this ain't just a girl, this is a
maserati ferragamo prada
with blow like ernest and
drive like cmc.

and this girl, who thinks she should be just any girl,
certainly not my girl -
circumstances are a bitch eh?
she reaches out just like i told her she anytime could
except the 1 time she did i was a supersizeme shit
i wasn't there - couldn't be -
logistically impossible,
the victim of digital fiasco.
i wanted to be but i just wasn't.
and now i am here and she's not -
she never really was -
and it is effing with me in a sleepless night kind of way.

January 7, 2007

The Lay of the Land

This is the first of what hopefully will be a lengthy series in which I tell you (or, in all honesty, tell myself when I read these posts again in some imagined way distant future...) what I'm reading.

The Lay of the Land is the 3rd of a trilogy by Richard Ford, although you don't need the 1st two to appreciate this one. It's a literary edifice that examines the life of Frank Bascombe in his middle years, and the transformation that occurs as he faces mortality and realizes that, no matter how hard he resists, the events of his past are inescapable and integral to his future.

If you found philosophical identity in Fight Club, or you appreciate the reflective, timeless genius of Kris Kristofferson, you will find The Lay of the Land an entertaining and though-provoking read.

January 5, 2007

New Year's Trip Report

Well, vacation is done, and well... I need a vacation from my vacation! Whew... Man, I love my kids and all, but 10 days and 1600 miles and sleeping in 5 different places in 5 different cities, 6 days of playing lifeguard at the pool or ocean, explaining to them why the men are sleeping on the benches with newspaper covering them in the French Quarter, and C-O-N-S-T-A-N-T questions about whether they are all my kids and how do I handle it - it all starts to wear on me after awhile...

It's funny, to me and my kids alike, how people react to a young guy (I still get the - you're my doctor? do you have your driver's license yet? - questions at least once each shift) alone with 4 young kids. Everywhere we go, which is a helluva lot of places, we are asked usually not once but many times if they all are mine and why are they so well behaved. It's funny to the kids that people constantly comment because this is all they know. It's just us, it's how we roll...

There was too much trip to give a narrative of it all, but I want to hit a few high (and low) points...

We started off in Mobile, caught up with family, and went to the USS Alabama where the kids and I boarded the battleship and played like World War II sailors for an hour or two.

Then, on the way to New Orleans, I wanted to stop at my dad's cemetery; but, I sadly admit that I couldn't remember where it was and well, I felt too damn ashamed that I had forgotten to call family for help... It had been at least 5 years, maybe more, since I visited. Definitely a low point, and something about which I still feel awful...

We visited Melissa, Bruce, and Wyatt-man in New Orleans, and they took us to the French Quarter to meander and visit the aquarium. Aquarium is amazing, especially considering it was ruined by Katrina. And speaking of K, wow... N.O. is back baby! Yea, there are still houses being rebuilt, and yea, the WalMart is still boarded (heh, is that really even a bad thing?), but as far as the N.O. I know and love, the party is there.

Funny story about lunch in the Quarter at Landry's. I ordered the shrimp creole, but the server insisted that it just plain sucked. He recommended the shrimp etouffee, and I agreed. It was tasty, I'll admit, until about half-way through when - CRUNCH... Hmm. That sounded like... GLASS! Glass being ground by my teeth... I stealth-like spit my oral contents into the napkin, and yep - it was a kernel-of-corn-sized piece of glass. Except that the crunching wasn't actually the glass being ground, it was my 1st molar, the pieces of which were right there in my napkin for me to inspect.
So, the moral of the story? Don't listen to the effing servers at Landry's...

From N.O., I went minus half a tooth with the kids on to Daytona Beach, where we funned and sunned for what seemed like forever. We all had a kick-a** time doing the GYGO triathlon, although I must admit that it felt more like a boring brick and less like a true race than I wanted it too. I was hoping to get the adrenaline surge, but it just didn't happen. Hats off to Kahuna and Wil for their efforts - what a great concept is the virtual tri!

We snuck by St Augustine, THE oldest city in the US (so this is how I learned it too, although I guess it probably more correctly is the oldest city built by European settlers) and drank from the Fountain of Youth. No, I don't have any fewer wrinkles... Yet.

We were walking away from some fort built by Spain in St Augustine when Anna said a couple of her increasingly common wow-how-does-a-3-year-old-know-to-say-that- sayings. The first one was "Daddy, is the reason that you know everything because you are the daddy?" and the second, "Daddy, how did God know how to make us?" This from the same girl who last spring awoke from a long road-trip nap and said "Daddy, are we in heaven yet?" All I can say is - wow...

Savannah yesterday and for awhile today, then finally home.

Home... An internet connection that works. Something other than pizza every other meal. My gym, my pool... My bed with its layer upon layer of down ...
Even my clutter...

Ah, home... There's nothing like it anywhere...

January 4, 2007

GYGO New Year's Day Race Video

Check out this video for exclusive footage of the Get Your Geek On New Year's Triathlon in Daytona Beach, Florida. The wind was tough on the beachside bike and run course, but the TriJack troupe competed admirably. They finished to the cheers of a couple of dozen curious onlookers and one proud dad.

January 2, 2007

Happy New Year!

Well, the internet connection at the condo in Daytona Beach is less reliable than a 1996 era dial-up. What did we do before the the web?

The GYGO Tri was awesome yesterday - video will be posted when we return to reality at the end of this week.

The kids all did their prescribed 50y/1m/0.5m, with the bike and run being on the beach. The thought it way cool to ride their bikes on the beach!

Happy New Year, and I've got tons of updates coming this weekend...