Saturday, August 26, 2017

Trump Will Resign

I try my best to make even my few random posts about things that are political to be somewhat connected to the world of sport.But when it comes to the embarrassment currently in our White House, I don't even care to make that effort.

A week ago, on twitter, I predicted in a week, Seb Gorka would be gone. I based that prediction on observation, a gut feeling, and conversations with people in the know (earlier in my life I was knee deep in interviews with various governmental agencies.  I'm hardly security-cleared but I am not ignorant to what is going on, either.) My followers, mostly joking but probably hopefully as I made similar predictions about Sean Spicer and Michael Flynn, asked me for another. Well, while I was waiting to send this to a website with a more political slant, I decided to put it here first.

Trump will resign. Soon.


Whether Mike Pence, Paul Ryan or anyone else in the line of succession is sitting in his chair depends mostly on the findings of Robert Mueller and his massive team of investigators.  But long before they hand down indictments and eons before criminal cases, the papier-mâché thin skin of Trump will force him to resign.

For seven decades, Trump has bullied, cajoled, or overspent most of his opponents.  He has never had any reason to do anything else as those who dealt with the fraudulent stain left behind by his cheeto-colored grip-and-pull-handshake were often simply happy to have him out of their lives once he did his damage. But the United States Government has much more time, patience, and money than the short-fingered thousandaire.  More importantly, finally, there are people standing up to Trump. And nothing could possibly upset him more (other than learning prima nocta wasn’t actually a thing when Ivanka and Jared got married.)

Arrogantly, ignorantly, and ultimately against his own best interest, Trump will leave the job he never really wanted in the first place.  And he will leave it soon. His inability to hide who he is following the tragic events of Charlottesville, his pardoning of Joe Arpaio, and in his TransGender military ban and not being able to address only farm-show crowds of red-hatted simpletons in Harrisburg, PA or other like venues, Trump’s truest colors finally made many of his more moderate supporters blanch. Bear in mind, this revolt is not because those in the GOP disagree with his stances. Rather, they have learned, begrudgingly, you must be more clandestine with your prejudices.

If you want to be racist and let your followers know you are without being obvious, you have to call black people by the moniker of “thugs.” If you want to stifle women’s reproductive rights, you have to pretend you care about a cluster of cells which you will immediately stop caring about the minute it exits the womb. However, Trump has never had to have a filter and even remotely pretending to have one lasted about five minutes as he stood in front of the ostentatious gold elevators of Trump Tower trying to talk about infrastructure but instead calling the alt-right “us.” (Or seeming to, at the very least. Does it really matter if he actually said it? He would deny it two seconds later anyway.) 


As such,  the dust-off-hands, blackjack-dealer-change-out moment is coming. Trump will continue to claim he won the popular vote. He will continue to talk about his huge Electoral College victory. But now he will say that the swamp is too deep for him to drain and he has had enough.  He will walk away thinking that doing so will stop the investigations against him or he will be pardoned even if they don’t.  Regardless, the man unsuited for the job he didn’t want, who was only hoping to create buzz for his brand, is being questioned about the most basic of decencies any human being should have, and he no longer wants anymore of it.

The countdown to resignation is on. Now whether the investigations into his treason will spark a snap election and a constitutional amendment in order to save our country from the undoubtedly deep connections to his own malfeasance is another thing. One article at a time.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

High School Memories Jostled from the Women's Steeplechase Finals at IAAF Worlds

I recently received as a birthday gift some old VHS tapes transferred to digital. One of the files was my senior year of High School district swimming meet.  Many who follow my running career are surprised to learn that I am a far better swimmer naturally than I am a runner. Even though I did not start swimming until 10th grade, I was fortunate enough to do very well.  Just recently my last record fell and it stung a little bit. But when I remember that the record I broke was 9 years old and we
revered those guys, here's hoping the youngsters thought nice things about me.

As I watched this district meet, I was reminded of two separate events: my 200 yard and 500 yard races. I wasn't much of a 200 guy as my coach was always popping me in and out of events to help the team. Swimming is very much a game of chess when teams are evenly matched. You see even though I was our school record holder in the 500, I was also the team's fastest sprinter.  However, we had some guys who weren't too far off from me in the sprints which allowed us to move me around a bit. This definitely put me in some unenviable positions as sprints and distances events are often swam back-to-back because people rarely do both. (To put this in perspective, it would be like expecting Usain Bolt to run the 100 meter dash and then also compete in the mile or 5k.) I often was taking on events without must rest.

Watching the Women's 3000 Steeplechase Finals at IAAF Worlds a few weeks ago was a rollercoaster for track fans. Their were wrong turns (on a track?!), collisions, and surprise endings. If you haven't check it out, please do here. If you don't want the ending spoiled, stop reading until you watch the video.

When Courtney Frerichs napped a second place finish, knocking over 14 seconds from her time, it was absolutely amazing. When you are at that level, to take that sort of time off your finish is almost unheard of. As she lay on the track, hugging Emma Coburn, the overall winner, she was obviously overtaken not only with joy but disbelief. It showed all over her face.

This face struck me. I had just seen this face elsewhere and it was of me on those videotapes I just had transferred. Going into that district championship, in my last dual meet I had been able to eke under two minutes for the 200 for the first time ever. 1:59:7 if I recall. It was a big boost mentally as I knew that it was likely to put me in the fastest heat at districts, even if I was dead last in that heat. I was. All the way in lane 6 I wasn't expecting much but I wanted to give it my all. Long story short, there was one false start (and an automatic DQ for one fella), I led the entire race for the first 100 and then hung onto a 3rd place overall, a State Qualifier and knocked 5 seconds off my time to swim a 1:54.88. To say my face looked like Courtney's would be an understatement.

A little while later I was lined up for the 500 yard free. This was my favorite event and I had worked hard to be seeded third. I went out like a shot (which was how I swam), held onto to the lead for 400 yards and finally succumbed to a superior swimmer. However, even though I lost the overall win, I did take second place, knocking 14 seconds off my time and broke the district record (which obviously didn't matter since I took second.) But again, I remember sitting there completely thunderstruck.  


Earlier in the meet, the timeclock on the side of the wall which distance swimmers would use to see how their pace was, shorted out. Since I was swimming out of my mind, I had no idea how well I was doing.  Everything hurt more than it ever had at the same time it felt wonderful.  When I finished, I had no clock to look at. I had to ask the timers standing by what my time was. When they told me, I stood there stunned.

As I watched this video of Courtney, obviously far superior in her sport than I in any of mine, it nonetheless allowed me to take myself back to that time. That is what I love so much about sports which involve just you and the clock. There is no teammate to rely on. There are no timeouts. There is nothing but you hoping against hope to beat every time you have ever run or swam. In my instance I had two of those just a few hours apart. Courtney had hers on a world stage. But they hit us both personally just about the same, I am sure.

Thanks for the memory jog, Courtney.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

When You Can't Run

In 2009 a car turned in front of me when I was cycling. One Grade III acromioclavicular joint separation later and barring running the Pikes Peak Marathon a few days later (a VERY questionable decision on my part) I didn't run for 18 days. But the non-running streak was 12 days.

In 2012, another cycling accident left me with multiple breaks in my shoulder, again putting me on the shelf. I was only out for 10 days before I gingerly began running again.

In 2013, a freak staph infection in my foot had me dangerously close to losing it altogether.  Somehow I was out for only 9 days.

In 2015, I tripped on a run, broke my hand and only took 3 days off. I've taken that long off before a half-marathon multiple times!

In 2016, one of the worst colds I have ever had in my life, with the flu and I think the Black Death hitting me at once, made me not leave my apartment for a week. I didn't run for 10 days.


Those are basically the only long term times I have taken off from running since I started keeping track in 2006. I don't do long streaks of running very often as I am a big advocate of rest, but I also don't take extended breaks either. Until a little over a week ago.

Sunday, close to midnight, I was heading home from my best friend's. Without going into too much detail (you can read more here on my Facebook page), I was accosted by two men.  The end product had me fighting for what could have been my life (I don't know what weapons they had, whether they wanted to steal my car, what drugs they may have been on, etc.,) and heading to the hospital with a broken hand, various cuts, and three fracture to my face around my eye.  As I (inexplicably) deal with the question of whether the police are going to charge these men with a crime, I sit here with three pins in my thumb, warnings about not even bending over lest I risk permanent vision impairment, and an overwhelming desire to escape it all for a bit by going for a run.

Which, obviously, I can't do. For the 9th day in a row, in what may be as many as a month or more, the way I handle stress, the way I deal with people not returning calls so I can go about my business, the way I try to figure out how to reschedule the race series I was directing over Labor Day which now has to be postponed, and the way I control everything around me, if even only for an hour, is not available to me.

This.

Sucks.

My perspective however is not with blinders, however. I know that I should be able to return to running someday soon. (Although, that is not guaranteed. My checkup on Monday will tell me more about the fractures in my face, why my teeth and jaw are numb, etc.) My friend, Dave Mackey, he who of great trail running chops who lost a leg after an accident while running, reached out to offer condolences. This gave me a touch of perspective even if I didn't really need it.  That said, when every fiber in you wants to run and you know the consequences if you do, it is a bit maddening.

I keep trying to think of other ways to keep my mind off of not running or my situation but am headed off at the pass each time. Every form of exercise which pops into my mind as an alternative is quickly brushed away for the same reasons I can't run.  I want to work on my next book but typing sucks. I have been asked to submit some new paintings for a gallery here in Austin but, well, that whole hand not working thing gets in the way. I dare not turn on the television because something Orange Delirious lets slip from that prolapsed anus he calls a mouth is bound to make me want to punch something, which, all together now: "You can't do because of your hand!"

There is no pithy way I can think of to end this post. I simply know that any of the 30 million or more people who call themselves runners in the U.S. alone can absolutely understand my frustration right now. I find it quite coincidental that as of right now the last run I did was one where, simply because I needed to blow off a little stress, I went for a quick three miler.  The words I attached to that run?

"It is so nice that I am fortunate enough to be able to change a bad mood around completely in just 24 minutes."

So true.

ADDENDUM: Two weeks after being attacked, and dealing with a detective who did more than just ask questions to move forward (at one point, yelling, and yes I mean yelling "Because your story is BULLSHIT!) it appears that by being calm, rational and not hurling falsehoods at the two delinquents who said "We are from the East Coast and not one of you Texas faggots. We will knock the white of of you" I am not being taken serious. Copious records have been taken and, as a former law school professor suggested I will "gather your medical bills, diary your aches, pains, sleepless nights, and you find the P. I. lawyer with the biggest ad on the back of a bus in Austin and call him or her!"

Apparently, not running over people and simply exiting your car when approached are enough for certain people to think that you are contributory negligent or at least semi deserving of facialand hand fractures.

Finally, on 5 pm on Friday before Labor Day, nearly 4 weeks after the "BULLSHIT!" call form above I get an email saying they need more medical records. When I finally obtain them this week, I am told it is strange as the police usually just get them themselves.  So now I have to make copies, take them to the police and see if even that is enough to press charges.  Mind you, I doubt I am getting a red cent out of these who supposedly homeless miscreants.  This is just so charges can be pressed criminally. Meanwhile, my medical bills mount.

All, again, because I didn't drive over them, as suggested by the detective.


I've lost tens of thousands of dollars from spineless companies and partners for standing up to Trump.  You think I am going to not pursue being assaulted by two men in the middle of the night? While the GoFundMe link isn't necessarily going to pay my medical bills, it is putting money in my pocket so I can pay bills. Please consider a contribution.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Will the NFL Finally Be The Answer to Climate Change Action?

While I live in Austin, I was fortunately spared the worst of Hurricane, and then Tropical Storm, Harvey.  (No one saw this coming. With a name so innocent who could have thought it would be so dangerous? *eyeroll out of my damn head*.) But being in the backyard of such a catastrophe assuredly had it in the mind of many residents here. 

As the storm finally gave Texas a bit of relief many thought this might finally be time to discuss climate change.  Of course, the GOP always has some indecipherable timeline in their head about what time is too close to a tragedy to discuss how to prevent it. Twenty children are viciously murdered in Sandy Hook and it is “too soon!” to discuss better gun control. A year’s worth of rainfall falls on Houston in a weekend and it is time to “focus on rescuing people!” not talk about how it could all be prevented.  But if history has told us anything, it is that these tragedies will fade from the forefront of most people’s minds. When the subject is brought up again at a time that is thought to have given the deferential amount of grieving period, the obvious response from the right will be why people are bringing up such an old story.  It is lose-lose for those wanting to use immediate undeniable occurrences to discuss what can be done to fix problems.  In other words, Harvey and its aftermath, by themselves, may not be enough to affect actual change.  Do you know what I realized it finally going to make this happen?

The NFL.

How the NFL will solve this crisis first came to mind after I finished a run in 104 degree Austin heat not too long ago. I plopped down in front of a box fan and poured ice cold water over me. While I tried to summon the energy to stand in the shower, I realized the NFL season was rapidly approaching. How could football season be right around the corner when it felt like I was standing on the surface of the sun.  Granted, this was Texas, but still.

I thought of those giant fans they use for the first full month of the season which shoot out cooling water onto the players on the bench. Then I thought of how when it really starts to snow, football fans say: "This is football weather!"  Why do they say that? Why isn’t hot weather considered football weather?

Because October, November, and December used to actually be freaking cold. The bulk of the football season used to be played in crisp, cool weather, often punctuated by snowfall and ice and wind and brrr. That is no longer the case. 

Long into the season, higher temperatures prevails.  The SuperBowl held in 2014 was played on February 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. People were worried about what temperatures would be like the day of the game as it would be the first “cold-weather” SuperBowl. Those worries were unfounded when a 49 degree starting temperature at kickoff only made it the 3rd coldest SuperBowl ever. (Granted, a big snowstorm hit the next day but that doesn’t negate a nearly 50 degree evening in New Jersey.  On Groundhog Day.)

The days are warmer, the nights are warmer, and the games are being played by faster, stronger men, pushing themselves more to the limit than ever before. The NFL rarely has men playing every down anymore, especially on defense, with the era of specialization upon us. Nutrition and hydration are no longer seen as things only the weak imbibe. So much more attention is being spent to getting the best out of the human body.  However, even with all of this, is only a matter of time before some player, in the heat of a September game, succumbs to the weather in a potentially fatal way. Then, finally, Congress may act. Why Congress? Wasn’t this about the NFL?

Think back to 2005 when Congress had hearings on steroids in baseball LONG after it was obvious that there was rampant use of steroids in baseball? N.B. I'm not saying they didn't have the right to do so (sports like MLB fall under "interstate commerce" according to Art I, Sec 8 of the Constitution) nor am I saying there isn't a legitimate interest. Congress is supposed to hold hearings about issues which concern the public. Let’s be honest, nothing worries the hardhat carrying John Q. Public more than sports and money. But sports have received extensive government assistance at the national, state and local levels. It's dishonest for baseball officials to claim that a steroid abuse scandal among players and league officials is "private business." The reality is that the sports industry has greatly benefited from exemptions to the anti-trust laws, subsidies for stadium construction and an assortment of federal tax breaks.

Baseball might be the national past time but right now football moves the needle. The NFL will bring $14 billion in revenue this year. That amount is more than the GDP of 36% of the countries on this planet. (Oh yeah, I really did my research on this one, folks!) When something begins to affect the bottom line of billionaire owners, and a death, especially to a franchise player would be just that, climate change will finally matter.  Of course, when I say “matter” I mean to their bottom line. They don’t care about the health and well-being of players.  If they did, hiding behind line of “inconclusive evidence” towards concussions and traumatic brain injuries would have never happened.  But the NFL  does care about making money.  And people dying on national television during a game because it is eleventy billion degrees in November will finally make somebody notice. By “somebody” I mean billionaires. By “billionaires”, I mean the people who control the elections by filling the coffers of our politicians. The NFL owners may finally be the answer to getting morons like Jim "Here's a Snowball in February so Climate Change isn't Real" Inhofe, to act to assure the rest of the world doesn't burst into flames or drown in a flood. Like the NFL, these politicians don’t care about people or “the earth.” 

What they care about is getting donors and staying elected.  How will that happen?

Just looking at presidential elections, NFL owners, not shockingly, lean to the right. In 2008, nine owners donated a total of $300,950 to the McCain campaign. Thirteen NFL owners donated a total of $412,600 to the Romney campaign in 2012. But here is where it gets interesting.

The biggest donating NFL owner, by far, was Texans owner Bob McNair. That’s HOUSTON Texans owner. You might have heard about a little thing that happened in Houston recently. Ole McNair has donated $3,560,700 over the four elections from 2008 to 2014. The bulk of that came in 2012 donations to Conservative PACs “Restore Our Future” ($2 million) and American Crossroads ($1 million). In other words, 99.06% of his donations when toward Republicans. None to Democrats.

As the NFL is overwhelmingly played outdoors, it is the one most affected by the climate. Bob McNair is worth 3.3 billion himself. Other owners, who have proven repeatedly to be able to hold entire city’s feet to the fire by promising to move to other locations, are also worth billions.  If their product, their bank accounts, and their ability to live ostentatious lifestyles are threatened by the changing climate, this might finally be smoking coalplant we have needed to save ourselves from the wrath of Mother Nature.

So, maybe this will be the hurricane which finally gets the NFL to make a change. When they survey the landscape and see one party is the one who believes the 99% of scientists on the matter and the other likes to listen to Alex Jones, they will go with the ones who support their best interests.  This isn’t the best way to get to where we need but when “500-year” events which happen on the regular, we will take what we can.

Are you ready for some football?