Thursday, February 18, 2010

Greetings from Siberia

Being from the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, I always thought we had the best weather overall. In the summer, it gets hot but not as hot as some places in the country. And, in the winter, it gets cold and snowy but certainly not as cold and snowy in places like New England, that's for sure. Well, this winter has been just a little bit different than most.
As it has been explained to us by numerous weather people, massive amounts of cold air from Canada has made it's way South and the same time that massive amount of precipitation coming from the Gulf of Mexico is making it's way North. And, funny enough, it is meeting in the Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC area. Not once. Not twice. But three-four times. So, as the Winter Olympics in Vancouver have been crying they don't have enough snow, well, come and take it fellas because there is plenty more where that came from.
Philadelphia, on average, gets about 20 inches of snow per season. This year, Philadelphia, so far, got 70 inches of snow. So, if you live in the Sierra Nevadas you are probably asking what's the big deal? But, around here, well, we just aren't made for these conditions. Two Saturdays ago, we got hit hard with a storm. Which would have been ok if we weren't hit hard last Wednesday with another storm. Which would have been ok if it just melted!!!!! But, the temperatures haven't gone above freezing that much and it just lingers. (The picture above is my sideyard with a path. I had to create that path to get to my backyard. Else, I would have waded in snow knee-deep. For a 6'3" guy.)
Because of all the snow removal operations I have incurred and the craziness of my recent work schedule, running has almost been non-existent for me in the past few weeks, almost for most of the new year. I had great intentions coming in to 2010 but it faded away a bit. I have done some cross-training with racquetball and swimming but I know my cardio won't be there for the start of the Bucks 5k Spring Series, therefore, I will most likely delay the start of my season until April sometime.
And, on top of that, I may need to be a little choosier in the races I run this year. As most people, money is becoming a bit tight. For the past two years, I have averaged about 14 events per year. But, this year, I may have to re-think doing that many. It will be a hard pill to swallow but the money for the entry fees will be needed elsewhere this year. But, on the other hand, each event will have more meaning.
Around here, there are glimmers of spring coming. Reports that Phillies pitchers and catchers are reporting to Florida. Baseball = warm weather. Temps are starting to climb into the 40's (F) for day time highs. Nights, though still chilly, are not being measured by the wind chill factor. And, March is just around the corner.
In the meantime, just in case, I am teaching my dogs how to pull a sled. What does 'mush' mean anyway?
(Notes: If you have been following the winter Olympics on television or are a big fan of the Olympics in general, check out the blog Nicole's 2010 Games. Nicole is a blogger I regularly read and she happens to live in Vancouver. The blog is her take of the Olympics from a native's point of view. I've really enjoyed reading it over the past few weeks. )

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Hall of Famer

I often kid with people that I peaked, in my professional life, at 21. Since, then it's been downhill. Don't believe me? How many people do you know worked for a coach who would eventually win a NCAA Division 1 basketball title (Rick Pitino) and work with someone who was a few electoral votes shy of being President of the United States (John Kerry)? Well, you can add worked with someone who has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame to that list.

Earlier this month, Jon Miller was selected the recipient of the 2010 Ford C. Frick Award and will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer. (click here for the story). And, I worked with Jon when I was first out of college at a radio station called WITS.

At the time, Jon was the Boston Red Sox radio play-by-play announcer along with Ken Coleman. WITS was the flagship station for the Red Sox and even had their studios in the Fenway Park complex. I was the producer/board operator for the Boston Red Sox at the time. What was my job? I was the guy who played the commercials, jingles, top of the hour IDs, and sitting in the studio during the ballgame. It was a fun job, especially for a kid straight out of college.

In 1981, the unthinkable happened. Baseball went on strike. No one could believe baseball would ruin the summer for millions of people. There would be no sitting outside on a summer's night listening to a baseball game on the radio. The people in the Boston area were depressed. So, WITS came up with an idea to give the audience their baseball 'fix'.

While the strike went on, Jon Miller 'broadcasted' Red Sox Strat-o-Matic baseball games. So, Jon would play the simulated game first, write down the results inning-by-inning, and then go into the studio to record the 'game'. My job, in working with Jon, was to set up the studio for him to use and help where I could (like play the commericals). It was a wild and crazy idea but amusing to be part of it. Some people loved it, some hated it but Red Sox nation got it's 'fix' of baseball until the strike was over. Click here to hear Jon Miller describe those times in an NPR interview.

Of course, Jon has gone on to bigger and better things as he did play-by-play for the Baltimore Orioles, now with the San Francisco Giants, and ESPN's Sunday Night baseball game. I know Jon will never read this but congratulations, Jon. It is well deserved.

(Notes: This past weekend, the Philadelphia area got socked by a major snowstorm. Philadelphia got 28.5 inches. Bucks County (north of Philadelphia where I live) received about 18 inches or so. Well, tomorrow we are expecting another round of snow with the same amount predicted. If it happens, it will be the snowiest winter in the area's history. I guess the little groundhog was right when he saw his shadow. )

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Turn It Off

Winter, for me, is usually the time for maintaining (somewhat) my endurance. I don't have any particular races in mind but will try things as they come up. Long story short, I'm very boring in the winter as far as running stories or insights or whatever you want to call these blog entries. So, I turn to subjects that are not necessarily related to running but still on my mind nonetheless. Here goes...

I have my political views like everyone else. Don't necessarily like to talk about them mainly because I don't like political arguments. They get too heated for me, sometimes, and I doubt you will change anyone's mind in dealing in political debate. And, as a card-carrying member of AARP, the slogan we follow is, 'well, it was never like that before in my day...'.

Well, it probably was. I like reading about history, especially about early American history. If you think politicians are nasty today, read up on what Andrew Jackson had to endure in the presidential elections he was involved in. But, I digress.

But, it is hard not to notice the mood of the country and how politics is about making the other party look bad and not about finding ways to help the country. Sticking to your principles is the 'right' thing to do, compromising is a sign of weakness. Or, so it seems.

And, why has it come about like this? I could easily say it's the media. But, I don't believe that to be true, not for a minute. Those shows, strictly delivering news, are not the problem. Those channels that have to deliver 'stuff' 24 hours a day, 7 days a week are to blame. They need to have content. They need to have provacitive hosts/hostesses/topics/opinions to draw people in so their audience numbers can go up and they can charge more to advertisers. Nothing wrong with that. But, I think people can get lull into watching these shows, get mad about the topic, and wind up not thinking it through for themselves.

And, it doesn't matter if it's Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Keith Obermann or Rachel Maddow. They all do it. To get your attention. Not to make you think. But, for you to watch more. And, get angry about how 'stupid' the other side is. Well, no more for me.

The DNA of every American male is wired to flip channels in the course of a night. Jerry Seinfeld had a great line that males don't care what's on, they care what ELSE is on. So, I am guilty as anyone in flipping through the channels. And, stop and watch Glenn, Bill, Keith, Rachel, etc. to see what they have to say. And, get angry. Because I can't believe people don't see the wisdom of 'our' side.

But, I made a New Year's Resolution this year to myself. As I flip through the channels (see above, I'm not STOPPING that. That would be impossible. It's part of my genetic makeup) I will not watch News Opinion shows. Why? Because it's not news. Never was. Never will be. It's noise. Plain and simple. And, listening to noise can scare people. But, if you don't listen to the noise anymore, it won't scare you half as much. You can read the facts and form opinions for yourself. You don't need people yelling at you saying, 'I'm right and they are plain wrong.'

And, something else happens. Your blood pressure goes down. And, you feel better about yourself. And, you are not as stressed as before. And, you begin to see both sides of the argument. And, you can see a way forward for this country, this world if only people would be willing to compromise.

So, I'm turning them off. No more. I will not listen to their opinions because it is purely entertainment. They are there to provoke. They are there to fill dead air. They are there to make money. Pure and simple. Nothing wrong with that. But, they do not have a vested interest in making this country, this world a better place to live. And, they will not tell me how I should think. It's only been a month since I've made this committment to myself. And, already I feel much better for doing so.