I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and I would do it again. However, I’ve never been a big supporter. She, like her husband, is a Third Way centrist who seems to think the path to Democratic party success is to make the party more conservative in an attempt to win over the mythical “swing” moderate voters.  It seemed to work for Bill Clinton (who had the added benefit of running twice in a three-way race) and as a result it brought us the lukewarm candidacies of Al Gore and John Kerry.  I thought this campaigning philosophy met its end with the ascendancy of Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy and its crowning achievement, the presidency of Barack Obama, who won not simply by winning over moderates (which he did) but primarily by energizing his core constituency, turning non-voters into new voters and turning casual voters into active supporters.  I wasn’t excited to see Hillary Clinton roll back to the old DLC model, and I voted Sanders in the primary. But make no mistake: once she got the nomination, and was up against the most unserious candidate the GOP had nominated in my lifetime, I was unwavering in my support for HRC.

Anyway, that’s all kind of beside the point. The real point here is that I saw a massive tweetstorm from Robert Sandy (@frodofied) laying out a full-throated defense of  Hillary Clinton and her campaign, and I wanted to save it in a more readable form. So here it is.

To be clear, I’m under no illusions about any possible/probable political future for @HillaryClinton. That future was stolen on 8 Nov 2016. But the reason I still tweet about her so often & tweet those cheesy #ImStillWithHER pic memes is because @HillaryClinton fucking won.

And given all of the bullshit we’ve put her through these past 25 years, you know for being evil, and trying give everyone health insurance, and other purely evil things like that, I think she deserves some fucking recognition. She stood on the same stage as Trump for us y’all.She kept it classy when literally NO ONE else did. She didn’t blow her top and strangle some dumbass journo at the word “e-mail” either. That last one must have been HARD people. I mean I would’ve ripped out @mitchellreports hair extensions for sure. But she didn’t. Not once.

She did her homework and handed it all in on time, including all of the extra credit, again, when no one else did. She had plans. Real ones. They weren’t magical pill plans and most of them weren’t sexy, but they were thorough and well-reasoned. And they were fucking paid for.

And despite what all of the naysayers want to claim now she ran a fucking beautiful campaign. Yeah, there were errors made, but, well, no. I won’t call them errors. That team had bullshit coming at them from all sides constantly and limited resources and time to combat it all. I believe that they made the best decisions they could w/ the information they had. Always. There was no reason to believe, for example, that James fucking Comey and the @FBI would literally break history and insert themselves into a Presidential election in a way that no one had ever done in the whole history of our history. Ever. There is no analogous historical precedent anywhere. Comey strode full bore into infamy and handed the Presidency to Trump. People will be pissing on that man’s gravestone for centuries. Supposing Trump hasn’t nuclear annihilated the world before then anyway.

My point, and I do have one, is that @HillaryClinton fucking rocks. She is bad-ass & brilliant.

I am proud of every single one of the many THOUSANDS of calls I made for her. I’m proud of every door I knocked and Trump voter I converted. I will always hold my head up high for all time as I proclaim to anyone who listen: “Don’t blame me I voted for Clinton. Hillary that is.” And I will always shake my head in disappointment and even chuckle about it now, every time some dumbass starts on blah blah corruption blah blah blah corporate whore. Yada yada yada. I am too old and too tired to even take it seriously now, cause this election aged me I tell you.

But mostly I will wait for history to step in and tell the story in the way no one today can or will or seems to even want to. The story that will be told will be presented with no small bit of wonder and a mountain of empathy and respect. It will be the story of a small Midwestern girl who wanted to be an astronaut even though they told she couldn’t be. A girl who happily punched boys in the nose for abusing bunnies. A girl who would grow in a first class once in a lifetime brain and beat all of the boys all of the time in everything. She would crazy ass things in her life like spend summers gutting salmon in Alaska and going undercover to expose racial bias in deep red Alabama schools. She was two kinds of First Lady & absolutely did not bake cookies while doing so. She was a lawyer, an advocate, a Senator, a mom, Secretary of State, and was the first woman in our nations tainted and storied history to be the Presidential nominee of a major national political party. That was only one of the more recent ‘firsts’ in a lifetime full of them. She worked harder than ALL of them, always. And she was always the smartest person in the room. And not only because she had to be. Yeah, I am in awe of @HillaryClinton. She is a titan.

But what those historians will focus on most, however, is that fact that it took nearly the whole of the world: a foreign government, a data theft ring helmed by a narcissistic white nationalist, an orange racist, pussy grabbing, idiotic monstrosity of an opponent, an entire political party with a huge assist from a bunch of brolicious dudes from her own side of the aisle, the media, sexism, emails, fake news, and an angry old white guy from Vermont to try and bring her down. All that and she still garnered 3 million votes than her adversary. She did it all while being told she every single day was no one liked her, that she was uninspiring, and that she was a deeply flawed candidate. Yeah, they said that shit. To her face. History will avenge her, however. Some will call her the First Woman to be elected President and they will not be wrong. It’s sad that she won’t get to do the great things I know she would have done. But like Obama before her, we really deserve her. Not even close.

So, yes. HILL YES, even.  I am still saying #ImStillWithHER and will be saying it regularly until we see the backsides of everyone of these fascists motherfuckers in this oncoming illegitimate administration. She deserves no less and neither, for the record, do they. Thank you @HillaryClinton. A million times and then a million more. I’m glad you found your smile again. #HRC4Ever

With FOX’s Gotham premiering next month, I’ve been thinking about prequels.  Specifically, has there ever been a prequel that was a good idea?

That’s not to say that a prequel can’t be entertaining.  Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a fair example, though its story is so disconnected from Raiders of the Lost Ark (the only real continuous element is Dr. Jones himself) that I’m not sure it should even be considered a prequel.  It’s just another installment in a series of independent adventures, where the order doesn’t really matter.

And in general, it seems that the best prequels are the ones that have the least connection to the original.  The Star Wars prequels are probably the most notorious example of a screenplay that is simply over-explaining things the audience didn’t need explained.  Every attempt to add background to a known character ended up making that character less intriguing.

One of Kurt Vonnegut’s marvelous basic principles of creative writing is “Start as close to the end as possible.”  Give the audience some credit: if you begin by showing a character in a situation, they’re able to make a pretty good guess how that character got there.  Don’t waste their time by telling more than you have to.

The inherent problem with prequels is that they, by definition, break that rule.  If the original was written well, it starts exactly where it needs to start. A prequel essentially adds chapters before the beginning, and now the story no longer starts where it should.

I suggest that the only way to make a good prequel is to tell a brand new story. Instead of explicitly telling a story that’s was already implicitly understood, explore parts of the background that weren’t in the original. In other words, don’t make it a prequel.

I’m cautiously looking forward to Gotham, bad reviews notwithstanding. But my enjoyment will hinge on how well the writers avoid connecting dots that the audience has already connected on our own.  Give us something new. Tell us something new about Jim Gordon that stands on its own, and that doesn’t cheapen the character we already know.

Now that I’m a C25K graduate, now that I’ve run my first 5K, what have I done? And where am I going?

The most immediate, specific lesson I learned this summer is “running doesn’t suck.”  I always knew it did. I was wrong.

More generally, I learned “you can do more than you think you can.”  And as I walked away from the race, feeling happy and not exhausted, I realized that could be shortened: “you can do more.

Throughout the program, my mind kept returning to this advice from the inestimable AB Chao:

The biggest tip I have [for beginners] is, start with Couch to 5K and DO NOT GIVE UP no matter what. It will hurt and suck and be hard and you will hate it, but one day, a couple months from now, you will realize that you can run 3 miles without stopping. Then, sign up for a race so you don’t lose momentum. After that, sign up for another race. You will feel great about yourself and sometimes, superior to others. These are good things. Also, your legs will be super hot.

It only hurt and sucked for a little while (when my knees were killing me) and I’ll leave the hotness question aside, but she’s definitely right, I feel great about myself. And there’s even an occasional, weird sense of superiority.  That’s okay, I don’t take it seriously.

So what am I going to do next?

I quit.

Read the rest of this entry »

Saturday morning was overcast and cool, but not cold — 50°F with a chance of showers.  I cooked oatmeal for everybody, made sure to drink some water, and made doubly sure to visit the bathroom. The morning felt leisurely and the boys were excited to head out as I put on my shorts and laced up the timing chip.  We walked the three blocks from home to the starting line, the boys holding mini-races the whole way.  I raced around with them; a three-year-old’s sprint is just about right for a warm-up walk.

Pace

When they called the runners to the opening corral, I tried to find a spot not too close to the front, but not too far back, settling next to a woman with her daughter in a jogging stroller.  I still wasn’t nervous (this was, after all, a no-pressure “fun run”) but when the starting gun fired, I began to wonder if I would be able to stay within myself.  This was my first time running with other people; I had to resist the temptation to let somebody else set the pace for me, whether too fast or too slow.

About a half-mile into the run, I found myself pacing with two other runners, a man in his early 70’s and a woman probably around my age.  She came up from behind and I let her pass, but I stayed within a couple yards for probably a mile. Then just before we left the park, I pulled ahead and didn’t see her again.

Persistence

After cresting the hill out of the park, I started to feel done. I considered walking the final mile.  I gave up on my goals. 28 minutes? Forget it. 30 minutes sounds good.  Even 35 is okay.  I’m doing this for me, nobody is going to grade me on my time.  But I kept running anyway.

Another quarter mile down the road, there was a water station, so without stopping I grabbed a cup, poured it in my mouth and tossed the empty into the can.  I didn’t feel it go down, but it must have helped.

Push

Down the street, two right turns, and up the hill for the home stretch.  Thanking volunteers as I went by, I looked over my shoulder and saw two men my senior, one of them the fellow I had been just ahead of in the park. I gave them an encouraging shout, then set my sights on the final push.

As the finish line approached, I saw my wife and sons cheering me on. I gave them a wave, crossed the timing mats, and turned a cartwheel. I’m pretty sure I didn’t endanger the older gentleman who finished 5 seconds behind me.

After grabbing some snacks for myself and the boys, my wife asked how I did. I confessed that I had no idea; there was a clock at the finish line, but I didn’t even look at it.  I didn’t wear a watch; I had chosen to leave my iPhone at home.  I told her my goal had been 28 minutes, and she said she was pretty sure I had done that.

Results?

A Run Through History, September 28, 2013 - 25:31.7

Competitive Timing has computer stations at the finish line where you can enter your number and print your unofficial time.  When I looked at mine, I said out loud, “No way.”

Chip time: 25:31.7

Victory dance.”

I didn’t actually do a dance. I am quite honestly at a loss to where that performance came from.  8:16 per mile? That’s like a week three pace.  This feels really, really good.

Lessons

  • Enjoy the crowd.  It wasn’t just the run that was fun, it was seeing other people (including people in costume), thanking volunteers, giving high fives to the 10K runners on their second lap.
  • Don’t worry about passing, or being passed.  At first, I was afraid to pass — what if I pass them, then slow down and they pass me later? But then the answer was clear: who cares.  Everybody’s race tells a different story. I’m writing only my own.
  • Don’t watch the clock. I didn’t bring one. It wouldn’t have changed anything anyway.
  • I can keep going.  Five kilometers didn’t exhaust me. I’m not ready to jump right into a 10K, but I can see now that I have more within me.

[Official results]

20130927-221354.jpg

On Monday, I logged my final run of the Couch-to-5K program.  I guess I’m a graduate!

Since I didn’t log my treadmill runs from last week, I was mildly chastened by the app: all the motivational messages had been replaced with “It’s been more than a week since your last workout. Stay with the program!” or something to that effect.  But once I finished the run — 3.32 miles at 9:02 per mile — the scolds reverted to their friendly cheerleading.

Now it’s time to prepare for the race! Unfortunately, the rest of the week hasn’t been what I intended for the lead-up to race day.  I was planning to do one more full 30-minute run on Wednesday, but starting on Tuesday two things got in the way: the weather (rainy) and my health (sniffling sneezing coughing aching stuffy head).  It looks like both will clear up by Saturday, but I’m feeling less prepared than I had hoped.

Oh well! My goals are still the same.  Some questions remain:

  • Run with music or not? I’m thinking not. This is my first event, I want my mind to be there in full. The only trouble is, it’ll be my first no-music run. Never a good idea to change things up on game day!
  • What to eat for breakfast, and when? Up to now all my runs have been early morning, before I eat. I’m planning on a bowl of oatmeal at 8:00, two hours before start time, but running after breakfast will be a different experience.
  • What to wear? I’ve been running in tank top and shorts, but the temperature took a major dive in the last two weeks.  I may have to cover up a little more.

I wasn’t nervous before I made that list.

Week 9, with its thirty-minute run intervals, should be a good predictor of race performance. I’ve run two of the three days, and the current indication relative to my goals: inconclusive.

Day 1 (Monday) was a good one, 3.39 miles at a pace of 8:51 per mile. That would put me across a 5K finish line in 27:26. Success!
Day 2 (Thursday) was slower, 3.25 miles at 9:14 per mile. Projected 5K finish: 28:38. Missed it by that much!

That was last week. This week, I’ve been out of town on business. I was kind of looking forward to running in Monroe, Louisiana, but as it turned out I couldn’t find an attractive place near my hotel. I could have done laps around the Pecanland Mall but it just wasn’t very appealing. So, I did 30 minutes on the hotel treadmill, Tuesday and Thursday. First time I’ve run on a treadmill.

Running on a treadmill is unbelievably boring.

I guess that’s why they mount televisions on them. I had my music player, but it just doesn’t compare to going through real terrain. The good part is that I was able to keep up a good pace the whole way through, 7 mph (which translates to 8:34/mile) according to the control panel.

Anyway, I’m not counting these indoor exercise periods against the C25K program — it just doesn’t feel right. (Though I don’t judge anybody who wants to do the entire program on a treadmill — if that’s what you like, or is all you have available, go for it!) I head back home tomorrow, so I’ll log day the final day of the program at the start of next week; perfect timing as I get ready for my first race the following Saturday.

Now that I’m in the last week of Couch-to-5K, I’m starting to think about what I want to accomplish in my first race, coming up in 3 weeks.  My target times, in order of ambition:

  • Baseline: finish. I’m really not worried about this, but my friends who run races tell me you always have to have this one. Basically, don’t get injured.
  • Disappointment threshold: 30 minutes. That’s 9:39 per mile. I haven’t had a run that slow since week four, when my knees were killing me.  But it still could easily happen; I’ll just feel let down if it does.
  • Reasonable expectation: 28 minutes or less. Simply, a 9-minute mile.  This seems to be the pace I’m settling into, so it’s not asking too much of myself at all.  If I were putting money on myself, this is where I’d put it.
  • Victory Dance: 27 minutes or less. That’s 8:41 per mile.  I’ve come close to that pace on shorter distances (most recently Week 7, day 1) and it seems attainable if I’m at my best, but it’s still a stretch.

Anything much faster than that is just out of the question.  I’m not aiming very high here — based on last year’s results, I hope to finish smack dab in the middle of the pack, even within my age group.  But this is my first race, ever; I have no idea what to expect of myself when the day arrives.  I don’t think I’m going to feel jitters or get overly excited, but I won’t really know until I’m there.

Oh, one more thing: I’d like to cross the finish line with a cartwheel. I need to start practicing my cartwheel.

After my accidental start on week 8 last Friday, I went into this week feeling pretty confident.  I figured I could improve on that nine-minute mile, extending my total distance so a 5K looks like a mere prelude.

The program sends a new message: don’t get ahead of yourself.

Monday: Where did the time go?

I took  a couple circuits around the park, feeling great, even thinking I was pushing my pace a little bit.  Yet when I got back home, the iThing pronounced: 9:32 per mile, 2.93 miles.

How did that happen? Where did my sweet little 5K go? Honestly, I’m still not sure.  It’s not like it’s a bad pace by my standards, so I wasn’t upset, but it was still not where I had hoped to be.  Better luck on Wednesday.

Wednesday: A new route

Previously, I had chosen between two tracks: turning left to go around the park, or right to go there-and-back on a straight course. But now that the run time is longer than it was a couple weeks ago, I realized I could try to fit in both.  So I went round the park, then continued on to the straightway until I hit a point where I could turn around and finish where I started.  It turned out to be a good choice, and I even timed my turnaround so that I crested Hundred Yard Hill right as Constance told me to cool down. I pumped my fist, walked home, and looked at my time.

3.04 miles, 9:12 per mile.  Okay, better than Monday, but still not quite where I thought I would be.  At this point, I’m thinking, be happy with the nine-minute mile. It’s your comfort zone.

Friday: Push it!

Resolution: run the same route as Wednesday, but improve on the time.  So I dug a little deeper, pushed a little harder, and even got a little further.  Yes, I improved my time, and finally got back below that cursed 9 minute mark (barely: 3.13 miles, 8:56 per mile). But the effort was tougher than any before.  I’m not convinced the gain was worth what I spent on it.

I’ve seen running advice here and there saying “To improve speed, increase distance.” For now, I think that sounds pretty good — next week, the final week of the program, will be three thirty minute runs, so I’ll plan to concentrate on sustaining a pace rather than trying to put the pedal to the metal.

Monday: Caboose

Because I only managed two days last week, today was the third 25-minute run, or Week 7 Day 3 by the program checklist. It went well; overall, these uninterrupted runs have felt uneventful, to the point that I can’t think of much to say about them here.

Wednesday: Pre-Empted

Family stuff came up again, so I skipped the run today.

Friday: The accidental 5K

So I figured, rather than split up week 8, I’ll just repeat W7D3 and start Week 8 next Monday. Besides, I was curious to see how the app handles a repeat.

The “halfway there” notification came a lot further along than i expected, so I figured I must be moving along pretty fast. I powered up the hundred-yard hill (counting my steps, and concluding that it’s more like 200 yards), and checked the time, surprised to see I still had 10 minutes to go.

You see where this is going, right?

Week 8, Day 1

Arriving home, I checked the finish screen. Total, counting warm-up and cool-down: 3.98 miles in 38 minutes.

Thirty-eight?

It turned out that I didn’t “repeat” after all. I tricked myself into an extra three minutes. And even better: the run was twenty-eight minutes at 9:00 per mile, for a total of 3.11 miles. I had tricked myself into running an honest-to-goodness 5 kilometers.

As it has in the past, the C25K program sends the message: you can do more than you think you can.