Thursday, October 24, 2013

war crimes! guns! domestic terrorism! yaaaay, gop!

actually, have a really bad day, sir...
they've gone from the war crimes party to the party of economic sabotage and domestic terrorism.

can't wait to see what the GOP comes up with next.

have you been paying attention? or rather, have you had the great misfortune of accidently overhearing the "news" recently? over the past couple weeks the far-out right wing of america's political spectrum (read: virulent america-haters):

  • staged a palace coup over (very) settled healthcare law
  • shut down the federal government at a cost of billions of dollars
  • threatened to wreck the global economy (again) if it didn't get its way on a lengthy list of pet issues and causes so foul and depraved and soul-killing that even the cast and crew of "real housewives of beverly hills" were disgusted.

the list of demands made by republican terrorists was audacious, if deplorable:

  • delay implementation of the affordable care act (obamacare ~ yes, ignorami, they're one and the same!)
  • fast-track authority to overhaul the tax code
  • construction of the keystone XL oil pipeline
  • willy nilly offshore oil and gas production
  • wide-open energy exploration (drill, baby, drill) on federal lands
  • roll-back of regulations on coal ash
  • increased military spending coupled with deeper cuts to domestic programs
considering that the GOP lost the last round of elections in a big way, they're in a position to demand nothing. democrats, on the other hand, are in a position to grant them the same. polls consistently show that americans want obamacare, oppose shutting down the government, and intensely dislike republicans.

even the arch-conservative wall street journal editorial page is fed up with GOP ignominy that took $24 billion out of the U.S. economy ~ $1.5 billion per day:

"This is the quality of thinking—or lack thereof—that has afflicted many GOP conservatives from the beginning of this budget showdown," the editorial read. "They picked a goal they couldn't achieve in trying to defund ObamaCare from one House of Congress, and then they picked a means they couldn't sustain politically by pursuing a long government shutdown and threatening to blow through the debt limit.

"The politics of that are little better than defaulting on debt. Republicans can best help their cause now by getting this over with and moving on to fight more intelligently another day."

trying to link today's "republicans" with "intelligent" is a shameful waste of time and energy. the party that once blathered on about jesus and family values so efficiently severed those links that even anonymous hacktivists stand in awe.

eventually, like a child who couldn't hold his breath any longer, the GOP caved on its hysterical demands. but they promised more of the same infantile behavior in early 2014, when the debt ceiling again must be raised.

remember when the GOP was the party of safe, boring, sober-minded fiscal responsibility? who knew that those days were actually the high point in the party's sad little history...

tropical contact high

you don’t need an excuse to run off to hawaii.

you just need an opportunity.

and if that opportunity includes a frenetic, euphoria-fueled 13-mile trail race while you’re there, the first bank of karma will be contacting you shortly ~ you’re way overdrawn.

the xterra gunstock trails half marathon (laie, oahu) is a tough, rambling trek through dusty, arid ranch land, steamy tropical jungle, and rutted back country livestock terrain. runners are reminded to yield to cattle and horses on the trail, and of the high probability they’ll need to high-step piles o’ poop along the way.

my friends, mike and rich, and i drove in darkness from waikiki to gunstock ranch, arriving just as light appeared over the water to the east. as shadows retreated across the hillsides, a few hundred runners milled about the parking lot and the starting area, putting on sunscreen, loosening up, shaking off whatever they did to themselves the night before.

just before race time, a scratchy rendition of the national anthem started up on the PA. all eyes turned to the lone rider in western gear, galloping in wide circles beyond the nearby fenceline, trailing an american flag. if a scene from an old-west rodeo seems non sequitur on a pacific island (and it does), somehow the moment was still poignant. the music faded, the horse reared up, and everyone cheered.

not long after, an actual starting gun went off, and runners surged onto the course. the first couple miles loop around exposed, hot, ranch-y terrain before heading into a welcome canopy of trees. early on, the hills were not terribly steep or long, but the heat and humidity significantly increased the degree of difficulty. aid stations throughout the course handed out water and gatorade by the buckets; gels were consumed by the fist-full.

by mile 5 or so the hills got more serious, narrow single track turned into rocky chutes, and high grass kept us from getting a clear look at where our feet were going. i didn’t see anyone roll an ankle or buckle a knee here, but if it didn’t happen many times over it’s because trail runners are just lucky that way. or something.

just when you started to think, “okay, this is not going to end well,” the trail spits you out onto a stretch of comparatively wide, semi-civilized asphalt. it’s here, if your legs are still sound, that you can get into a faster rhythm and make up time lost meditating on your proprioception.

soon, back into the trees, you’re slogging through mud, thanking whomever you thank at such times for the mist that’s miraculously falling and finding its way onto your face. you sail down a steep hill and into a shady tunnel of overhanging branches. underfoot is the softest bed of mulch-y stuff you’ve run on maybe ever, then you’re right back onto hardpan and pavement to the turnaround point.

back you go to the base of the steep hill you just descended, thinking, “don’t tell me i have to climb back up this #&%^* hill.”  turns out, you don’t ~ instead you take a hard right turn and…at this point my memory gets a little hazy. miles 9 and 10 wind their way back into the jungle and through the steep rocky stuff. in the midst of it, at about mile 11, i rolled my ankle far enough to expect a squshy-tearing sensation that involves much pain and a long rehab. it didn’t happen. for some reason, the ankle just rolled right back, and I chugged on, grateful.

my friend rich was not quite so fortunate, in that several minutes later he faceplanted at almost the same milepost. I didn’t see it happen, but he said something about the trail going up, then straight down, with rocks on the other side. his foot caught on one of those rocks and then the bridge of his nose impacted the ground. his knee and both elbows also were macerated, meaning he didn’t absorb the full force of the fall with his face. still, there was blood and an impressive layer of head-to-toe dirt. after a brief self-diagnostic, (“nothing broken, not puking, let’s go”) he got up and kept going. his non-serious injuries won him a nice parting gift at the finish line, so there’s that.

the rest of the race was uneventful, mishap-wise. it felt good to be submerged in the effort and the dirt and the heat and the place. and while i was pretty well spent the last couple miles, i remember thinking, “i really don’t want this to end.” because it was hawaii and running with good friends and the clock is always ticking and how many opportunities in a lifetime can there be for such things?

i didn’t want it to end, but i kept running…so it ended anyway.

afterward there was swimming and outdoor showers in the warm waters of sharks cove, then abundant mexican food and beer in haleiwa, north of laie. we celebrated the race and being together for the first time in a long time. and we appreciated the opportunity, because who knows if it’ll come again.

many thanks to the xterragunstock trails race team (natalie, angel, kevin and greg) who did a great job again this year. the course was just nasty enough, the volunteers were enthusiastic, and the new tech t-shirts will be a long-lasting reminder of an extraordinary event. mahalo.

time: 2:04
2nd (M, 50-54)

Friday, October 11, 2013

home again...

no, not this house.
i don't want to jinx anything...

...but it appears we have bought a house.

this is an ordinary first-world event, in that it happens every day thousands of times over.

spoiler alert: we would have loved a chance, in this context, to be ordinary.

it started with a humble goal: to move out of the house we've rented the past two years. it's too small, too ramshackle, and it lacks the water views the missus was craving.

improbably, and with little searching, we found such a house over in the hoity-toity part of our neighborhood. much bigger, with eye-boggling views of puget sound and the olympic mountains. 

we would still be renting, since i was a mere contractor at spaceneedl sprockets and mortgage lenders look askance at that form of currency ~ meaning we couldn't get a decent loan to buy. still, it'd be a pretty cool rental.

cut to: events go upside-down, in three easy steps

step one: give notice at the current rental house (which rents to someone else shortly thereafter).

step two: owners at the new rental suddenly realize they are acutely uncomfortable renting to people with dogs, and therefore cannot rent to us.

step three: t-minus three weeks from having to be out of the current place, we are left with nowhere to go.

cue turmoil, angst, panic.

cut to: events go right-side-up, in four easy steps

step one: within two days, and without warning, spaceneedl sprockets offers to turn me from a contractor into a full-time employee. mind you, this is unprompted and completely out of the blue. make of that what you will. but suddenly we can qualify for a proper mortgage.

step two: rush out to look at houses in our neighborhood, in a low-inventory sellers' market. we are stunned to find a couple of remarkably suitable options the very first morning. happy coincidence: these are houses we would've been very interested in even if we weren't in a huge, panicky hurry.

step three: make an offer and wait. realtor holds open house. wait. no one comes to open house. wait.

step four: owners decide to accept our full-price offer ~ but can't close for a month.

cue frenzied, frantic, move out of old rental into a short-term furnished townhome. 

events become a blur. blurriness not completely due to excess drinking. move-related fatigue, new logistics, and lack of sleep also may be a factor.

cut to: more waiting, no easy steps.

the loan approval seems to be done. we wait for that to go upside down.

the new, short-term routine is becoming more routine. we wait for that to go sideways.

the first transitional week is winding down. we wait for earth's poles to flip.

we don't want to jinx anything...
...but we seem to have bought a house.