Monthly Archives: February 2010

Taft, Underground Railroad, snow

I am back – at least back writing – after a hiatus that included not eating well, not getting to the gym, not making 10,000 steps.

The good news is that many of those days were spent in Cincinnati with Tricia. We met on Friday. Saturday we went to the William Howard Taft National Historic Site. That is not one of the national parks that had been on my “must-do” list, but it is here and it is one more off the list. My passport stamp total is now 96. It will be interesting to see what is the stamp 100. I have been to more parks than those for which I have stamps having visited a number before I started using the passport. Some of the larger parks also have more than one stamp so the park count is not the same as the passport stamp count. Taft appears to have been an interesting dude. Besides being the only person to serve as President and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he was also the first President to throw out the opening pitch at a baseball game.

We returned to the Homewood Suites (it’s a really good place with nice folks so it gets a product placement) in Milford to watch Duke basketball. We followed that by going to see Avatar. Still processing that one. I have heard a great number of comparisons to the Pocahontas story. One parallel that occurred to me that I have not heard (which does not mean it has not been repeatedly made): as the clans gathered, I thought of the efforts of Tecumseh (Tecumtha) and Tenskwatawa to create a confederacy of the indigenous peoples in the early 1800s in what was then known as the Northwest Territory. An episode of the PBS series American Experience: We Shall Remain tells that story. I need to check it out.

Yesterday saw a trip to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. It is a haunting, wrenching, and painful experience. The human capacity for brutality and inhumanity – on an individual and corporate level is staggering. Even when one is aware of that capacity, it is staggering to see it revealed. At the same time, the stories told by the Center are affirming and inspiring. The human capacity to endure and persevere – the human capacity for courage and cooperation are even more impressive. What the people who were enslaved endured, touched me deeply. Processing this experience will continue for some time.

This morning we woke to damp streets – now two hours later those streets are snow-covered. Our decision to stay put and not try to get back to Cleveland and Louisville respectively makes sense. There is a fitness center here which I will soon visit.


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Keep on walking

Before he could be elected president, Nelson Mandela had to be freed. Or perhaps I should say, before he could be elected president, Nelson Mandela’s body had to be freed. His body may have been imprisoned, his spirit and his soul never were.

Twenty-nine years ago today, Nelson Mandela’s long walk involved physical steps from Victor-Verster Prison. That walk had begun years before when he committed himself to working for justice and peace. That walk continued through years spent in captivity. That walk continued outside of prison in leadership of his party and his country and all the people of South Africa. That walk continues in those who are inspired by his example of grace and nonviolence and forgiveness and vision and inclusion and who work for peace and justice in Soweto and Gaza and Manila and Louisville and Barranquilla and Yei and all around God’s world.

Thank you Nelson! May we – may I – keep on walking.

The photo was taken by one of my South African friends who returned to participate in the 1994 election.

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Sitting and sitting

Yesterday, Monday, February 8, began at 5:00 in the blessed AM. I was headed to Chicago for a meeting with the presbytery’s Peacemaking Committee and to speak at the presbytery meeting scheduled for today (February 9).
Recognizing the wee hour, I had done my packing and organizing in advance. When the alarm went off, I slid out of bed, gathered up the last couple items, smeared some cashew butter on toast and headed out the door to scrape a thin patina of ice from the car.
I made my way to the Louisville airport and boarded the plane. I arrived at Midway about 7:30 AM Chicago time. Jan Dykstra met me and took me to the presbytery office.
The meeting went well – good conversation, sometimes hard conversation, sometimes revealing, healing conversation. Somewhere in there, during the morning, first reports of a winter storm headed Chicago’s way were shared. The reports increased in frequency as the day went on, but we continued to meet. We enjoyed a good lunch ordered for us by staff person Bonnie Gilchrist.
About one o’clock, Bob Reynolds, presbytery executive, stopped by. We exchanged greetings – he and I had first met when he worked for the Synod of Lakes and Prairies and I was in Des Moines Presbytery.
Then he said he had some news that we needed to hear. And he announced that, because of the reported storm, the presbytery meeting for today had been postponed.
My first reaction was to say that someone could take me to the airport after the meeting and I could try to change my flight. The others present encouraged me to try and make the change at that moment. I took a little persuading, but then took their advice.
Of course, saying I would make a change proved far easier than doing so. I had made the reservation through the PC(USA)’s new travel agency, using their Web site. Southwest said that since the reservation had been made that way it could only be changed that way. I was using someone else’s computer so I did not have the URL.
That led me to look at one-way car rentals: about $200 before the taxes, fees, surcharges, etc. that add significant amounts to the cost.
I went to Southwest’s home page again. This time thinking it might be easiest simply to buy another ticket. It was. They had a $38 (before taxes, etc.) ticket which I bought and I got in the A boarding group. It went through St. Louis to get to Louisville, but it was a ticket.
I returned to the peacemakers and finished the meeting. Then two of them took me on a ride – an adventure really – an adventure described in a series of text messages to friends – to Midway airport. They were taking a route that was new to them – but we made it.
As I checked my bag, the counter attendant said, “It is good you changed your flight. We will be closed tomorrow.” Interesting I thought at the time. Not interesting enough for me to check today.
I toddled to my gate. Many flights were delayed – although I did not notice any being cancelled. My flight to St. Louis was posted as being on time.
Time came to board. The plane was there. The early evening sun actually peeked through the clouds. But we were told we could not leave since there were no pilots. We sat and sat. And after a while, one pilot entered the gateway. And after a while another pilot entered. And then we got on and – late, late enough that connections would be tight – the plane took off.
There were only a few passengers. I had a row to myself. We landed in St. Louis. Word came that we could operate cell phones. Mine buzzed to indicate a voicemail. It was Southwest telling me that the flight I was to have been on today had already been cancelled. Whatever came next, I had made the right choice.
Deplaning at about 7:30, we heard the news that the scheduled 7:45 flight to Louisville was delayed until 9:50. The plane was to come from Texas but it had not left.
I had some poor chili and a pretty dry and tasteless “Great American Bagel.” Then I went and sat and sat waiting for the plane.
The next announcement was that the plane would be delayed at least another hour. As we sat and sat, Southwest staff brought out soft drinks and snacks – never a good sign. About the time that I booted up my computer – paying for internet access because something, probably the weather, was messing with the AT&T network that supports my BlackBerry and air card, we were moved to a gate “nearer the security area.” Not sure what that meant, but it was the announcement
Finally, about 9:00 came the word – the plane had left and we should depart around 10:30. It was closer to 10:45 when we boarded.
About this time, I did some quick calculations – converting to Eastern Time, allowing time for Southwest to bring in our luggage and for me to drive to the Shire from the airport – I figured that I would need to sleep in this morning to be functional at all today.
I found a seat – the plane was completely full. And we sat and sat.
After a while, came the announcement that we were missing a flight attendant and could not talk off until she arrived. Then they announced that there were four folks coming in on other flights. We were to be the last Southwest plane out of St. Louis but there were a couple flights arriving at St. Louis.
The attendant got there. Our fellow travellers arrived. The plan taxied to the de-icing station and we sat and sat.
Takeoff ensued. We flew to Louisville – where it was snowing – and one runway was closed (so they told us) and the ground crew was working to clear the other runway. So we sat and sat as the plane circled high above the city.
But sitting and sitting, like all things, good or otherwise, eventually ends. We landed. By the time I made baggage claim, our luggage was there. I found my car – and headed to the Shire, arriving about 2:30 AM. An hour or so later I called it a night.
I woke today around noon and have been working at home ever since (until I did this posting).
No gym or focused exercise yesterday and I overate – but somehow between the sitting, I managed to take 8,093 steps.
There is snow in Louisville today – and it impacted many of my colleagues – but my decision to stay at home had been made well before morning.
See you along the Trail.

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Super Bowl Sunday 2010

The Saints just scored on a pick-six from Manning. It has been difficult to get into a game when the Steelers are not playing. But we had a really good time in New Orleans at Christmas, so I guess they would be my choice to win.

A friend has loaned me a netbook to try. Thinking that I might take it to Chicago, I have been playing with it. However, there is enough going on in the world that I need to be sure to have email access, so I am taking the laptop with the air card.

I also watched the Penguins play today – a Pittsburgh team playing on Super Bowl Sunday seems only fitting. But they lost. They started well, but Washington just outplayed them in the end. Such is life.

I was in New Orleans a couple of years back when the Saints won their first playoff game ever. I spent some time on Bourbon Street in the aftermath. It was great fun. Tonight should be even better!

Dances with Wolves is now on AMC. It is the 25th anniversary. Time has its way.

But time is flying in other ways and 5:00 comes early in the blessed AM. Off to Chicago tomorrow – as implied earlier.

Almost forgot – Bilbo and the dwarves are under siege in the mountain.

See you along the Trail.

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I’m back

Today saw some cleaning. Some tax work. Some computer reorganizing. Some work for which they pay me.

I got to the gym. Since it was a weekend, I walked for a full hour and then did some weights. The distance was 3.31 miles. The total steps for the day was 10,052. Eating was under better control as well.

Bilbo has “robbed” Smaug who has sealed off the side door. Bilbo and the dwarves are now in the mountain.

Did a couple of movies today while working – Shackleton with Kenneth Branagh; followed by Star Trek – the new one; and now a bit of the Bourne Identity.

Tomorrow – watch the Super Bowl.

We had a bit of snow. Not enough to be a problem. Just enough to be pretty.

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Another day off

Insert frowning face here. Friday, February 5 became another day off. And another day to eat too much – but at least what was eaten on both days was nuts and protein bars and cheese. I did add a couple of packs of peanut butter crackers.

So far today (February 6) has been a day to get back in the grove. Eating has gone well and a trip to the gym looms.

Steps for Friday – 3990.

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New shoes

2.38 miles.
10, 249 steps.

The dwarves have escaped from the wood elves. Placed in oaken wine barrels by Bilbo they floated down the river to Lake-town.

Ian McKellen in King Lear.

Bought new tennis shoes today. Did not notice the symbolism of the color until I took the pic. Go black and gold.

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What’s the deal?

February 2 report.

2.36 miles on the treadmill.

12,400 steps.

Bilbo and the dwarves have escaped the spiders (what’s the deal with Tolkien and spiders?). But the wood elves are out there.

Moving back into Clint Eastwood mode watched Blood Work last night.

Also checked out Little Shop of Horrors. Wilbur Force and Seymour.

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January 2010 Summary

Here we go, the first month’s stats:

January 6 (first weigh-in) – 290
February 1 – 275

Total Miles – 51.32
Average Miles – 1.66

Total Steps – 282,822
Average Steps – 9,161

Today (February 1) I got to the gym for 2.36 miles and have a total of 10,588 steps.

There you have it. The baseline.

At the gym, I listened to The Hobbit. Gandalf has taken his leave and Bilbo and the dwarves stand on the edge of Mirkwood.

Watched Public Enemies tonight. Somehow it did not click. Might have been doing too much work.
Now viewing “A Performance of Macbeth.” It has Ian McKellen and Judi Dench as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Hard to beat that combination.


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