Sunday, September 30, 2012

Running is for the Birds

On my run yesterday, my interesting wildlife encounters were ornithological.

Around mile 3, I ran by a big hawk perched atop a utility pole. He wasn't especially interested in me, but he did seem to keep an eye on me as I ran right by the pole. There are several kinds of hawks here, and I'm not sure, but he may have been a red-tailed hawk. He looked something like this:


Around mile 13, I heard some odd squawking, looked up and saw 2 green birds flying into a stand of trees. Monk parakeets, they're called around here. They're from Argentina originally. People think they got up here as pets - and then got loose.


I wasn't sure how these 2 species got along, so I did some research.

As I suspected, hawks
are don't mind dining on something green that squawks.

Almost There

My GPS claims I ran 25.7 miles today. I think I'm now fully prepared to run a marathon.

I still haven't decided which one to do. When I say this to people it evinces strange reactions. I think most marathoners pick their race first, and then build their schedule around it. This is a must for a race like the Chicago Marathon, which sells out months in advance. But most marathons aren't like that.

And I want to run on a cool day. I've run a number of marathons on hot days, and - trust me - cool is better.

So that's my new scheduling rule -
wait for a forecast of cool.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Very Terrible Father, Revisited

Dream Theatre has remounted one of my favorite Menekseoglu plays: A Very Terrible Father.

I wrote about the earlier production here, and I somehow forgot to include a rhyme with my post, I think because the emotional experience of the play was so preoccupying my mind.

Jeremy Menekseoglu as Matthias, and Megan Merrill as Lilli.

It's a play about a dying man, Matthias, who is trying very hard to do something right with his life. You might think, from the "terrible father" of the title, that the play is about a man who has treated a child badly. That's not it. It's about a man who has had nothing to do with his child, but who has journeyed to America to see her, one last time, to deliver a message.

It turns out to be hard to deliver the message. But, in a terribly poignant, inspired scene, he does his best.

Megan Merrill is lovely as Lilli, who is something like a profane angel of redemption, the agent of change in Matthias's heart. Katharine Swan was utterly convincing as the still-heartbroken mother of Matthias's daughter. Alex Woodruff, as his daughter, captures the inarticulate angst of a young teen caught up in the deep waters of her parents' history.

Finally, Giau Truong plays Bill, the American stepfather, with creepy sincerity. I love this character, in some twisted way: a healthy-living enthusiast who seems oblivious of the fact that he is, underneath it all, a fear-ridden control freak.

To communicate what matters
in the face of grief that shatters
is no easy task.

But sometimes it's what life asks.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Summer goes stumbling
away with the breeze.

Autumn comes tumbling
like leaves from the trees.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Politico's Roger Simon wrote a column in which he claimed that Paul Ryan was referring to Mitt Romney as "Stench".

A lot of people - even a certain Nobel prize-winning economist-turned-pundit - took the claim to be true and pontificated about the story - and spread the story.

But, it wasn't true. Simon says it was intended as satire. Ann Althouse has an alternate explanation.
This was a deliberate attempt to pollute the public debate, to promote Simon's candidate. He would never fun with Obama like that. He kept his deniability, but he put it way down where no one would read. His writing doesn't merit the click to page 2.
Simon lobbed some stench
into his opponent's trench.

Another case of: "He who smelt it, dealt it."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Wanted: Poetic Ghost Writer

The Chicago Tribune Theater Critic wrote a piece about whether the Romney campaign could use a poet-in-residence.
Given the week that Mitt Romney just endured, it begs a question: Does the Republican nominee for President of the United States have current need of a poet?
He thinks that Romney,
instead of just harping on the economy,
needs to find a poet
to help him not blow it
with inelegant phrasing
that no one is praising.

Learning Words As Needed

We spent the weekend in Connecticut, guests at the home of my daughter's future parents-in-law. We hadn't met them before, but they were truly lovely people.

While we were there, I somehow brought up the topic of "what relationship are we to each other"? I'd been told that in other languages there was a word for it. So today my son came up with the Spanish word: consuegro, which translates as co-father-in-law.

Co-father-in-law turns out to be an English word,
albeit one I don't recall having ever heard.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


When you're running for reelection  It's dangerous to insist that we need a change of direction, Especially if we've been hearing That you're the one who's been doing the steering.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dreamy Stream

From our hiking, A view to my liking.

Friday, September 21, 2012

What Does Not Kill

Driving around LaGuardia
Makes a driver hardia.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

No Plans In That Direction

The U.S. was signing some agreement with Mexico, and the signing ceremony was not open to the press, and one reporter wanted to know why:
The journalist asked, “This isn’t some secret thing … to invade Canada or something like that?”
The U.S. said it wasn't anything like that.

We have no plans to go forth,
marching into the North.

We did try it once. It's the bicentennial of that war!
The Canadians repelled us so they celebrate it more.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lost Not Found

When leaving the train in a rush,
I clean forgot my umbrella.
I never cared for it much,
perhaps it's just as wella.

It was a free umbrella, emblazoned with a company logo. It was good for keeping the rain off. And it sprung open with surprising force when you pushed the little button. But it was annoyingly hard to close. Not so annoying that I would pay for a replacement, but annoying enough so that I don't miss it.

I never liked it quite.
But the price was right.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Perils of Talking Tough

Karen Lewis, the head of the local teachers' union, did a great job of whipping her people into a hopeful fury. Only, now that she has worked out a deal with the administration, some of that fury is turning on her:
Leaflets calling Lewis a "sellout" for concessions agreed to with CPS were distributed to union delegates at Sunday's meeting.
When you go in with strong demands,
but come back with less in hand,
you may lose a lot of fans.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Can You Dig It?

I came across this sentence in the Chicago Sun-Times, online:
She digged at Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his handpicked school board that includes hotel heiress Penny Pritzker.
My question is: is "digged" proper for some reason, rather than "dug"? "Digged" is listed as "archaic" at

The meaning, in context, lines up with the usage "get in a dig," meaning to make a hurtful or critical remark.

Of course, people occasionally do use 2 different forms of the past tense for a verb, depending on the meaning of the verb.

Most men would rather be hung than hanged.

Would you rather be digged or dug?
Or does the question merit a shrug?

Training Run Trivia

On yesterday's run, all 3 of our GPS devices kept telling us the mile markers were short. By the time we were done running the marked course of 20 miles, our GPS devices only had 19 miles and small change. At first, everyone else thought the markers were wrong, but I put my trust in the markers.

Why would GPS devices be wrong? Well, we were running in fairly dense woods, along curvy bicycle trails. The trees have a tendency to interfere somewhat with the GPS signals, so I figure the devices did not *always* know exactly where we were.

So, suppose you have run from point A to point B, on a non-straight path. Next suppose the device has lost track of where you were between A & B.

How does it imagine you got from A to B? I figure it draws a straight line, thus shortening the actual distance covered.

I believe my GPS
sometimes has to guess.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

20 Miler

Ran an organized run that was like a race, but not a race. You paid to get in. There were bathrooms and aid stations all along the way. There were pacers to help you maintain pace.

But... they didn't give you a time when you were done.
It was only meant as a marathon training run.

I actually looped back, after I was finished, revisited the Mile 19 marker, and ran back to the finish again, just so I could get 22 miles in. And, as a result, I got a second big welcome to the finish line.

Karen, our pacer, was wonderfully fun. In her 50s, she took up running about a year ago, and started winning her age group right away. You know, a natural - although she does have a coach.

Friday, September 14, 2012


The president's press secretary:
This is a fairly volatile situation, and it is in response not to U.S. policy, not to, obviously, the administration, not to the American people.
Of course it's about us and our policies. It's about us honoring freedom speech. It's about us legally protecting what they see as blasphemy. Remember that slogan about "they hate us for our freedom"? This is one of those freedoms they hate.

Our current executive branch would like to that video pulled off the web. They've exposed the true identity of the person who put it up. They've asked Google to pull it from YouTube. But Google/YouTube stood up to the executive branch:
We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions,” a YouTube spokeswoman said in a statement.
A community which enables the expression of different opinions?

To me it sounds great,
but that's what they hate.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Power to Destroy

I was in a discussion with an immigrant Muslim today. He was quite upset about the riotous assaults on our stations in the Middle East. He was puzzling how to stop them.

He sees that YouTube movie about Muhammad as part of the problem, and was trying to figure out an end-run around the first amendement, to stop that sort of film from being made.

He found inspiration in John Roberts' recent ruling on the healthcare law. The theory of the ruling was that we can't make people eat broccoli, but we can TAX them for not eating broccoli.

So he proposed taxing people who make inflammatory videos.

He was quickly told that his approach was no-go. But I was impressed by his logic.

If you can't quite give something the axe,
just slap it with a tax!

Spring Sprung

Diplomacy vaunted as smart
suddenly looks... not up to the part.

Play Ball!

I have a ten minute play that's going to be part of Morgan Park Academy's Fall Show.

It's a play about baseball, featuring a high school catcher and a pitcher. I'm told it was cast today, and the actors actually are, in real life, a high school catcher and a pitcher.

It's funny. I always say actors end up knowing things about the characters that the author didn't know. But these 2 guys will come to the first rehearsal with more detailed knowledge of catching and pitching than I have!

Since they wanted the roles, I guess I didn't get any serious details wrong.

While writing, to avoid looking the fool,
I did look up at least one rule.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Well, color me glad:
The Obama administration is disavowing a statement from its own Cairo embassy that seemed to apologize for anti-Muslim activity in the United States.
The government can't be apologizing every time someone insults someone else's religion.

I mean, Mormons have been taking it even harder than usual lately. Do we want the government to start apologizing to them for every magic underwear crack on Facebook?

Free speech is spendid,
even though your feelings may be offended.

Monday, September 10, 2012


I've been reading The DIM Hypothesis, Leonard Peikoff's new book. I'm enjoying it, but I feel unsure where he's going with it.

Well, in one sense I'm pretty sure where he's going with it, since the subtitle is: "Why the Lights of the West Are Going Out". But I'm not sure exactly how he's going to get there.

by the way
is an acronym.

But it works well with the "lights going out" theme, I have to say.

I was surprised today when the book took a turn into Western literary history since the 1700s. For a view from 30,000 feet, I thought it was a sensitive account.

I suppose my personal tendency is toward optimism.

I'd rather the lights stayed on.
I believe in dawn.

Sunday, September 09, 2012


I wish I understood craziness better. Perhaps I want to understand it because I wish I could help. Once in a while some acquaintance or other slips into a bout of madness, the kind of state where they can't be reasoned with. Once there, they often lash out darkly at friends, revealing what seem like huge long-simmering resentments.

Thomas Szasz, somewhere or other, said that it was important to learn to say "no" about small things, that otherwise you might end up holding onto all your small noes and saying one big NO that will actually prove calamitous.

In my youth, I was very impressed by Szasz's critique of the "mental illness model". I still think there is a lot of overrated science involved in the whole DSM approach to the categorization and diagnosis of mental disturbances.

I thought this was interesting from the Wikipedia article on Szasz:
Szasz argues that only mental illnesses are defined based on consensus and symptom clusters. It has been argued this is not the case. Critics claim physical illnesses such as Kawasaki syndrome (a disorder of the heart and blood vessels)[33] and Ménière's disease (a disorder of the inner ear)[34] are similarly defined.
We know so much more
than we did before,
but the detailed workings of the brain,
whether sensible or delirious,
mostly remain

Friday, September 07, 2012

Gratuitous Public Shaming

The organizer of  the Chicago Marathon has announced that he is banning Lance Armstrong from running in it.

Not that Lance actually applied to run in it:
“I have had no direct contact from Lance or anyone representing him,” Pinkowski said. “We had some indication from his charity (Livestrong) that Lance might have been interested in running.”
I do suspect Armstrong was guilty of using various substances he wasn't supposed to. I suspect that was true of most of the Tour de France crew.

But I don't know. Not for sure. And I get the sense the American "anti-doping board" isn't playing fair. So I am tempted to defy them, and organize my own marathon. It would be very small, mind you, but it would be 26.2 miles.

And even though he's banned
I'd extend Lance a hand.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Private Cities

Honduras is a total mess apparently, but they've inked a deal with developers to start up some "private cities", modeled - I'm guessing - on Hong Kong. Michael Strong, whom I've met, is involved.
The cities will have their own laws, governments, police forces and tax systems. They will have the power to sign international trade agreements and set their own policies on immigration.
My funds have run low,
which is a pity,
since I'd like a go
at running a city.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


I'm worried about the well-being of concern trolls.

A lot of people are onto their games,
and are calling them names.

Maybe if they just stopped concern-trolling for a while,
everyone would like them again... and they'd have a reason to smile.


I have deficit attention disorder.

Every time I pay attention to the deficit,
I get scared to death with it,
so I turn my mind instead
to topics less loaded with dread.

Maybe I should just say to heck with it!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012


Not as tasty as cotton candy:
Authorities say a 35-year-old man tried to swallow several counterfeit $50 bills after he was caught trying to use the bogus money at a New York amusement park.
One of the charges is tampering with evidence, although "tampering" hardly seems to do it justice.

It's harder for bills to be tested
after they've been digested.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Round and Round

Last night I had a strange dream - my mountain bike's front wheel was missing, but somehow I could still ride it - in a normal position.

I couldn't understand how it functioned. I remember puzzling over the question of whether the front brakes still worked. I looked, and the front caliper brakes were missing.

I biked uneasily, on a wheel that wasn't there.
Was this somehow inspired by Eastwood's empty chair?

Sunday, September 02, 2012

On the Beach

Dune flies launch surprise attack.
Soon I am their pre-lunch snack!

Saturday, September 01, 2012


When you are a doggy
you can go from being soggy
to shaken sort-of-dry
in just the blink of an eye.