I Voted

I voted. My wife voted. My friend Jack voted. I did not want to and that, based on my observations, does not put me in a unique position this election season. Shoot, based on the poor turnout in US elections, it hardly makes this year unique that so many are repulsed by politics. This year is special, though, and not in the good way. Yes, he is an addled buffoon; but she's despicably criminal in all her dealings. Yes, he's crass and (likely) committed sexual assault; but she covered up for Bill. We could go 'round this till we're sick with dizziness. We have terrible candidates. We have only ourselves to blame for it.

Voting is perhaps the least of the rights that we are granted, for all the high talk about how special it is. Quadrennially, we get the reminders of 'one man, one vote' and 'no taxation without representation'. Every election cycle, men and women stand before us and make us promises that they intend to break post-election, as Bill Clinton did promising a tax cut or Obama did with health insurance. And people vote for the liars.

In the midst of all this, we forget a basic truth that harkens back to the first days of the Republic. The Founders never intended a citizenry that voted to engorge itself at the expense of the country, nor a political class that enriched itself at the public trough and through special grants, such as the exemption from insider trading laws.

The Founders intended for a patriotic citizen to vote for the best of the country. In some cases, that is an abundantly easy thing to determine. This year? Good luck figuring it out. My determining factor was which candidate generated the most intuitional and press opposition. I voted--for gridlock. I want the kind of internecine warfare that has led to resignations of corrupt public officials. WikiLeaks brought sunlight to this election, albeit on only one side. I want more sunlight, on both sides.

I want the crooks gone, all of them.

And since we're on the subject, here's an old article of mine from 2012. I still want my purple thumb.

Old coot and the 3-Legged Dog

Report came into the Humane Society shelter, of a missing dog, named Ripley, a black 3-legged chihuahua, belonging to an elderly couple. Second report came in of FOUND chihuahua, by local animal welfare cop.

Call went out to Harold and Winnie, we might have found your dog.

Shelter followed protocol, no promises, please come down and ID your dog.

Everybody gathers, expecting a happy, happy ending.

Until Harold said, “It’s the wrong leg missing. That’s not my dog.” Sadness. Then shock, as Winnie whacked him on the shoulder, enough to rock him.

“You forgetful old coot, you’re dyslexic.”

Mark Cuban Misunderstands Patriotism

Mark Cuban may be part of the celebrity nouveau riche , but on CNN recently he decided to play the menial labor job of partisan hitman while wrapping himself in the flag of a patriot. Go listen to the piece and count the times that Cuban says, "if Donald took a short cut . . ." or " we just don't know . . ." In another interview, Cuban states, "After military service, the most patriotic thing you can do as a wealthy person is pay your taxes, because that keeps the roads paved, the military paid and kids going to school. He obviously doesn’t understand the concept.” I'll grant you, he has a point. Following laws is an act of a patriot. The thing is, we don't know if Trump paid taxes or not.Cuban admits such, in passing, before he launches into more of his diatribe.

There is no legal or moral responsibility to overpay one's taxes. I am quite sure that if we examined Mark Cuban's taxes, we would not find any over-payments and a simple internet search did not show an articles praising Cuban for voluntarily contributing monies above his tax obligations to the federal treasury.

Cuban, the Hypocrite

Cuban, if he ever runs for office, he's not going to release his returns. How do we know? He said so on his blog, in his own words:

"I have absolutely nothing to hide,  and if I ever run for President you will have to take my word for it and I hope every candidate for office says the exact same thing. Read my words: My taxes are none of your business.

Funny thing, that. Especially with a statement he made in the very same post:

So my suggestion to Donald Trump is to not be intimidated. Stand up for all of us and every future Presidential candidate and not provide your tax returns . You get audited every year like I do. If there is anything wrong it was the job of the IRS to find it, not the other candidates, the media or any of us.

Another aspect of patriotism, arguably higher on the list of 'most patriotic', what ever the hell that means, is not blatantly slandering a fellow citizen by innuendo and weasel words.

Still, the whole subject interests me. No, not Cuban's hypocrisy, but patriotism. It's a word and a concept that has fallen (or been hurled) into disrespect. That, to my mind, is dangerous, so for the foreseeable future, I am going to take a look at patriotism, what it is, what it isn't, and how to practice it. Expect to see new articles every Tuesday until I run out of ideas.

His Hat Said "Leave Me Alone"

Asked an old man in a "Leave Me Alone" hat if I could share his table at SeaTac.

"Sure," he said, "I'll behave."

So I did, and because I never let a sign - or hat - boss me around, asked if he was heading out or heading home.

Home, it turns out, which is Missoula, or rather, the hills just north of Missoula. Turns out he ferries vehicles part-time (he's retired now) from Eastern Montana out to Seattle, then catches flights back. One more round, and he was taking some time off and heading to Durango, CO.

I mentioned I'd run (I fibbed, I ran some) a marathon in Pagosa Springs, nearly next door as we count things in the West.

He asked if I had ever rode the narrow gauge train from Durango to Silverton. I hadn't. He had advice. Take the trip, it was worth the time, and sit in the last car. It was open and you might get a few cinders in the eyes but the views were spectacular. Then dinner up Bar D Chuckwagon and make sure to catch the show.

Mentioned that I had a young lady I coached years ago headed to Silverton.

"Yep," he agreed, "mostly college kids working the line."

His son is a firefighter down that way. When one of the big fires hit, and everyone pulled out, the folks that run the Bar D didn't. Fire department came in, the restaurant lost a single tree. Firefighters ate free for a bit, because that's how things work.

The man running the restaurant, according to the guy in the hat, was "gettin' old, gotta be pushing 90." Man in the hat had to be at least 75. "He's a stubborn one." Big grin.

He's probably not the only one, I thought.

Had to go catch my flight, so I said goodbye to the cool old dude.

Glad I ignored the hat.

Trail of Second Chances back from the editor

Christina MacDonald, my editor, returned Trail of Second Chances early. Yay! Now I get to go back and start fixing things. On track to publish next month, provided I keep my butt in gear and get the work done. And the beta readers are growing up. Instead of "I love it!", now I'm getting that plus particular areas that bugged them. And, interestingly, it's not the same things. Lots of great feedback from several young ladies today. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

There was a meet up in Moscow, Idaho for the District 9 championship. I'll be writing up an article on that later tonight or first think tomorrow before I head to work.

Book Update

Sold more books. I try not to check too often as it stresses me out. Not the selling part, that's okay. But I do hope that the readers who have purchased the stories like them, hopefully a lot.
Trail of Second Chances is due back from the editor soon and should be on schedule for distribution next month.
Next weekend will be busy - travelling to Moscow, ID and the University of Idaho track to watch the District 9 Championships. Write-ups will follow each evening.  Very excited to watch the newcomers at the meet as well as some athletes I've been cheering for since they were in junior high.

Odds, Ends, and Happy Easter

First, Happy Easter. For those that don't celebrate Easter, Happy Day. I'll be heading out to Kamiah to watch the junior high meet there on Tuesday. Report will follow. Not sure that I'll be able to put in times - I dig them out of Athletic.net but the JHS scores and results don't always seem to show up. Not sure why. Anyhow, we'll do what we can.

Also on Tuesday, I'll be putting up the cover for the latest book, Trail of Second Chances. Could I do that today? Sure, but it's Easter. And the County Fair. And a dozen other things. Tuesday is soon enough.

Saturday I'll be headed to the Mooberry Relays in Spokane. Looking forward to it. Mooberry is a little different and a lot of fun to watch. Probably miss a lot of the Asotin kids since a goodly number of them participate in FFA stuff for the fair. (The Asotin County Fair fair spans two weekends - don't ask be why 'cuz it doesn't make much sense to me either.)

I've put the designers to work on a logo for InlandXC.com. I'll put it up when it's done. Website is coming along - slowly, true, but progress nonetheless. A couple of people have asked how I expect to make money from the site. Funny enough that I laugh. If there were money in it, someone would have done it a while ago. It's part of my clever plot to reduce my taxes by losing money at something I love.

That's it. Got stuff to do and it's a beautiful day out there.

Enjoy it and run gently, friends, those that run.

Setting up a schedule

People like routine. They also like adventure, rainbows, and cute puppies. YeaaaaaawwwwAnd cats. People really seem to like cats. So here's a cute cat picture, courtesy of FunnyCatPix. I'm not sure I get the attraction but that might because I've cleaned up one too many hairballs. Plus, the last cat we had was named Bearacuda. She lived up to both parts of the name.

Moving on, routines.

Most people like to have a routine as they go through the day. Have a few events disrupt the routine and crankiness ensures. I'm no different. I like routines. I just don't have any. My schedule for work is dictated by the demands of the marketplace. As a Realtor friend once put it, being in business for yourself means setting your own schedule, so when the client asks to get together at 5AM, you can't say "Sorry, the office doesn't open until 9AM."

You say, "Sure, no problem." Because the client is the BOSS. He or she is paying you and, if you want a paycheck, you'll be there at 5AM.

All good until you want to do something on a personal level, like saying hello to the kids while they're awake. Or, in my case, prepping to run a marathon.

I just got done filling up the next two weeks with work. It's gone slightly crazy in the real estate market for whatever reason and I'm not going to complain.

What I am going to do is pare down my list of activities to those that are essential to getting what I want. Yep, my focus is on me. Yours should be on you - unless you have a saint in the family or are a child, odds are nobody else cares as much about you as you do.

So I spent time paring, trimming, and snipping at things.

And guess what? Getting the garden ready for spring didn't make the cut. I'll cheat on the vegetable garden and not start from seeds this year.

TV time? Gone except for basketball. Reading fills into the gap. Which I need because I just started two new books. Plus the three I'm already reading.

Reading blogs? No time, so uh-buh-bye.

The gym? I can fit it in by shifting appointments slightly and going in between inspections. Might be able to sub in a run instead if I don't have clients attending. Not an option if the client is attending; nobody needs to have an inspector that sweaty. Or potential odiferous.

Running? Change the day of the long run to Wednesday. Work longer on the weekend to make up the time. Speed work on Sunday so I don't overburden family with help crewing.

Writing? Early mornings, when I'm most productive (and when I wrote this.)

How long will the new routine last? Probably a month or two. The change in seasons will help by giving me warm weather and more daylight to work with. Since I'm already at record levels on the business side, I don't see room to ramp that up. I might have to increase prices and drive some clients to competitors (and cherry-pick the best.)

The key to my routine is simple. Be flexible and ready for change. My routine is to plan for change. Or, as the military maxim goes, no plan survives contact with the enemy. Or, as the General said, "Strategy is a system of expedients."

Build change into your routine, folks. It'll make it easier when everything heads sideways.

Homework can be fun

What follows is part of a homework assignment from a writing seminar I'm taking. This little piece was fun to write and my girls enjoyed it, too. So . . .I hope you enjoy it as well.

My bangs were way too long but I liked it that way. It hid my eyes.

I could feel my dad looking at me but it was mom who talked non-stop about what a great opportunity it was for Dad and how it would be sooo nice to move to a smaller town where we would have things to do as a family and I could find some friends and once we get there we’ll figure out what I need for graduation since it’s my senior year.

The words drift over me like little bubbles of I don’t care and pop.

I like San Diego. The weather’s perfect and there are plenty of places to go when everybody starts pushing, pushing, pushing, come on, let’s go to the movies or we should try out for, always followed by whatever the cool kids were doing.

I wasn’t a cool kid.

I’m just me, the odd kid that everyone shies away from. Except the other odd kids. We hang together but they wanted to be like the others, blend in.

“You need to eat something.”

My mom is worried I’m anorexic or something. I encourage the worry. I give the edge of the plate a push, move it maybe a half-inch away from me.

“Well, if you’re not going to eat, you can at least sit at the table properly!”

She was using that I can make you voice. I give her the No, you can’t shrug. It’s going to piss her off. Like sitting cross-legged in the chair, all scrunched up with my hair almost resting on the top of the table pisses her off.

It’s my talent.

My dad finally talks.

“I think you’re going to like Idaho.”

No, I’m not. It’s Idaho.  We live in San Diego. No contest.

“We’ll see,” he says like I answered him. He’s a little freaky like that.

I hear him slide back his chair and I tilt my head up just enough that I can see his hands. He picks up my plate with his.

“I’m going to go read news on the computer,” he says. “I’ll wrap her food and put it in the fridge.”

I know he’s talking to her but helllloooo, I’m right here. Don’t talk about me like I’m not here. But I don’t look up, don’t say anything. I’m in my perfect little bubble and I don’t let him into it. Or her.

Or anybody.

He stops on the way to the computer.

“We’re moving to Idaho. How you decide to deal with it is up to you.”

He sounds very reasonable, like he’s doing me a favor, letting me choose how to feel about it. He does this a lot. Mom is easier, she just yells. Sometimes I yell back. It’s cathartic.

And Mrs. Rose thinks I don’t pay attention in BritLit. Cathartic. I like that word.

He’s still standing there, watching me.

I don’t tell him but I decide.

Idaho’s gonna suck.



Is it a New Year?

Okay, it's time to layout a few goals for the New Year. I came into 2013 with three writing goals- first, to become a writer, then become a professional writer, and after that, a paid professional writer. I managed all three though I set a very low bar for the last item. I made enough that I could afford more than a single cup of coffee at Starbucks and counted that as a win. Along the way, I racked up nearly 200,000 words of writing between two books, a couple of short stories, and the blogging. The finished novel, Finishing Kick, is up for sale at all the major online places in print and electronic formats.

I also had a goal of shrinking the business by twenty percent. Missed that one badly and basically didn't downsize it at all.

I had no running goals. I couldn't run at the beginning of the year and this was possibly my most painful year since I was about seven. The meds the doc put me on for the gout triggered a non-stop 6 month attack with a brief respite when she pulled me off the pills for a month, worried about liver and kidney damage.

Turns out that neither was a problem and, when she put me back on the pills, the worst of the attacks had passed. By June, I could run a mile and a half and, by year end, ten. None fast but that's okay.

Now for this year's goals.

Writing, 200,000 new words, which is about 4,000 per week. That will give me at least two more novels or a passel of short stories. Blogging and Facebook don't count. Publish two more pieces of work and list them for sale. Start (hopefully finish) a novel in a new genre. Get one review from a notable in the running field for one of the books.  - good or bad.

Work. Still trying to downsize.

Running. A trail marathon with a friend. A trail run along the Snake River in Hells Canyon that I've wanted to do and not managed to schedule. And maybe, if everything goes well, a small ultra run. Mostly because I miss it. The Seven Devils call . . .


Reading a Novel is Good for your Brain

I'm suffering early from the post-holiday blahs - I should be writing but meh, not in the mood so I surfed the internet and came across an article in the Independent that cites a study that says reading a novel boosts brain function. The primary area of the brain affected is the left temporal cortex which, according to the article, controls language (makes sense) and is the primary area for processing motor sensory data. Scientists speculate that this area of the brain 'tricks' us into thinking that it's doing something it's not - the example they use is that reading about running can trigger the same neurological activity that actually running does.

The improved function lasted at least five days after completing the novel, too.

Now, the part they didn't mention is whether this is good or not. I'm presuming that it is - we learn through stories and placing ourselves squarely in the role of the protagonist (unless you want to be a serial killer or something in which case be Dexter or the antagonist) should be an advantage.

It might also give some hints on how to educate kids. I expect this to get buried by the mis-education establishment.

Anyway, I did manage to write about 500 words, not counting this blog post, so it's not a totally wasted day. I'm going to settle in with a good novel and improve my brain.

The glass of Shiraz? That's for my heart . . .

The Nag is Dead

Three times while reading a wide range of articles yesterday, I came across the word eponymous. It is a fine word - or was - but so overused as to become an annoyance. So non-fiction writers of ephemeral blog posts, may I ask a favor. Like the horse in the stall next door, eponymous is dead. Could you please stop flogging?