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Monday, November 17, 2014

Christmas movies

(Sorry, I realize it isn't even Thanksgiving yet)

Yesterday, Lisa and I were talking about trying to watch as many of our favorite Christmas movies with the kids as possible - it is problematic these days, as the girls won't be in from school until close to Christmas.

These are the movies that come to mind:

The Santa Clause
A Charlie Brown Christmas (my favorite)
The Polar Express (Almost my favorite)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Of course, the Rankin/Bass films:

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
The Year Without a Santa Claus
Frosty the Snowman
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

People really like National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, but I never really saw the appeal.

Shoot (get it?), I almost forgot A Christmas Story  - "You'll shoot your eye out, kid"

Holiday Inn
It's a Wonderful Life (of course)

What are some of your favorites?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Why I'm angry with Tennessee women

This past Tuesday, 29.1% of registered Tennessee voters actually turned out to vote in the midterm elections:
( - the only state in the nation with a lower voter turnout was Texas (Steve Golden's fault).

On the ballot were 4 proposed amendments to Tennessee's Constitution.  The first proposed amendment was aimed squarely at the abortion issue.  Ultimately, after sifting through all the lies spread about the amendment, we see that the effect of passing this amendment removes the issue from the judiciary, and places it squarely in the hands of the legislature. People like State Senator Stacey Campfield.

Now, I have a very strong opinion of how the voting should have gone, but that's not the point of this post.

My point is that only 29.1% of the registered voters bothered to vote.  To my knowledge, the vote was split across gender lines, meaning I don't believe a higher or lower incidence of women turned out to vote than did men.

{This is directed at the women who didn't vote}

Every. Single. Eligible. Woman. Voter. Should. Have. Voted.

Shame on women who didn't vote!  Regardless of how you feel about that, or any other issue, shame on you for not voting.  By not voting about an issue that directly affects all women in the State of Tennessee, you have agreed that the legislature, of which 83% are men, will now make decisions about your body.

Shame on you for letting that happen.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Vote, Vote, Vote

Vote.  Think about it, and vote your conscience:

If you hate what that Kenyan, communist, Muslim, Ebola spreading, ISIS sympathizing, illegal alien loving, Mom-jeans wearing, evil dictator (did I miss anything? Oh, yeah, BENGHAZIIIIIII), President Obama and his ilk are doing, then vote against him/them.

If you hate what those Tea-bagging, do nothing, Fox News watching, obstructionist Neo-con, lyin' if they're breathing, Republicans are doing, then vote the other way.

But vote!

In Tennessee, if you are a woman, you have a vested interest in voting - Amendment 1 to the State Constitution directly affects you.  Pro or con, this amendment, if passed, moves the state authority regarding abortions, and certain rules and regulations out of the judiciary, and into the realm of the legislature.

It's been mischaracterized as giving women a say - but that is an out and out lie - and while you should vote your conscience, those spreading that lie should be ashamed of themselves.

People like Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey will be deciding this issue for you.
People like State Senator Stacey Campfield (, will be deciding this issue for you.

There is also a proposed amendment that would ban the legislature from enacting a state income tax - please think about this one before you automatically vote to pass it. Think about how the State is getting its money now - 'cause it is getting it.

I have opinions about all 4 of the amendments, and will be happy to tell you mine if you want (I guess you can figure out my vote on the two mentioned above).

Also, FYI:  It is my understanding that in order for your vote to count, you must vote in the gubernatorial race - don't waste your amendment vote, by not voting for governor.


(but think about it)
I think we are all born with the proclivity to be good or bad, honest or dishonest. Every day, I wake up and have to decide what kind of person I'm going to be.  I mean, I'm limited by my own imperfections, but I believe that God gave me the ability to discern right from wrong - it is putting that ability into practice and making good choices as a result of that ability, that can be a problem. I'm not even talking about religion here - there are some incredibly shitty {insert religious persuasion here}'s in the world, and some incredibly good atheists - and vice versa.

So, again, every morning I wake up and have to decide what kind of person I'm going to be - and let me tell you, I've failed spectacularly on occasion.

I do believe that you can train yourself to either go toward the light, or turn toward the darkness, so that the daily choice is not as pivotal as it could be.

That's what I'm trying to do.

Monday, September 29, 2014


In the summer of 1984, I was living in Athens, Greece. I lived in a fancy schmancy building on Vassileos Constantinou Avenue, a couple of hundred yards from the 1896 Olympic Stadium (my roommate, Scott and I snuck in a couple of times and ran the then cinder track. It was a lot like "Chariots of Fire" I imagine) - unfortunately, I lived in a dumpy basement apartment, barely larger than a broom closet. The point was though, that I got to explore Athens and the surrounding areas.

Back then I smoked (Salems - loved that menthol taste).  As a poor traveler, I couldn't afford Salems, instead I smoked a European knockoff brand called Reyno:

My morning routine would be to go to the little shop around the corner, buy a pack of Reynos, walk through the National Gardens to Syntagma Square for some breakfast, maybe try to steal some stationary from the Hotel Grand Bretagne (I was living on about $5 a day and needed to save my money for Reynos), and would explore Athens.  Sometimes we would go to Piraeus (a port city about 7 miles away), and would catch a boat to one of the islands in the Cyclades - Santorini was my favorite, spent a week sleeping on the beach that summer.

(it really is that beautiful)

or maybe Spetses, one of the Saronic Islands:

(also that beautiful)

It was a good time.


One afternoon, I was wandering around a street close to the Parthenon (modeled after the one in Nashville, I think), probably smoking a Reyno, and I came up to a guy in traditional Afghan clothing who was handing out flyers. I talked to him for a minute, and he told me that he was Mujahideen - asked me if I knew what that was. Well, I vaguely did. They were the group of Afghan freedom fighters that the U.S. was helping to arm in their fight to run the Russians out of their country. Guy was pretty friendly, and very appreciative of the help that the U.S., among others (including a fellow by the name of Osama Bin Laden, as it turned out) was giving them. Now, after the Russians left Afghanistan, the Mujahideen started fighting amongst themselves. Ultimately, a mulla named Mohammed Omar and his group came out on top.  You might have heard of them.  They are known as the Taliban.

Anyhow, now we are talking about arming "moderate Syrian rebels" in our fight against ISIS. I hope that somewhere in Washington, D.C., someone remembers that the enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Remote Area Medical

This weekend, a very worthy group called Remote Area Medical will be in Ooltewah setting up a free clinic (!about-us/c172w). Their mission statement is:

                                       "To prevent pain and alleviate suffering by providing free                                                     quality healthcare to those in need."

First, donate to them. They do good things.

Second, the United States has the richest economy in the world, with $17.5 trillion in purchasing power (

Third, look at this map:


The green areas represent countries with universal healthcare. Notice the western hemisphere.  Notice specifically the NOT green areas.  Yep, the United States, with the richest economy in the world, does not make affordable healthcare available to EVERYONE. Healthcare costs in the United States are such that an organization such as Remote Area Medical sees the need to provide free clinics inside the United States.

And THAT, my friends is something that embarrasses and disgusts me, and I hope it embarrasses and disgusts you as well, regardless of your politics.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Preconceived notions

Here's the deal: O.J. Simpson murdered Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Everyone knows it - he skated because he could afford the best lawyers. His actions after the trial showed how irrational he was, and again, everyone knows he did it. I mean, really!

Now, today, we hear of George Zimmerman threatening to kill a motorist:

another in a long line of incidents like that from him.  Objective people realize that he murdered Trayvon Martin, and just like O.J., his actions since then have borne out what kind of person he is.
I remember how disappointed I was the day that O. J. was acquitted, particularly at the black people I saw on TV cheering at his acquittal - again, come on, folks.  We know that O.J. did it.

I was likewise disappointed at all of the white folks coming out of the woodwork to defend Zimmerman, and do everything in their power to make Martin out to be the meanest, baddest…you know what…around.

We’ve seen it in the last month, as (mainly) white folks are working pretty hard to bring anything into the Michael Brown case that will confuse the actual event of him being shot six times by a police officer – including trying to make it look like Mr. Brown beat Officer Wilson and broke his eye socket by planting a fake picture of another man from 2006: 

Or posting a picture of someone who is NOT Michael Brown, but trying to pass it off as him:

This picture is of a man named Joda Cain, who is a murder suspect. This picture was posted by a POLICEMAN!

So, again, we let our preconceived racial notions affect what we believe – on both sides.

O.J. murdered his ex-wife and Ronald Goldman.  George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, and will wind up killing someone else, or will be killed by someone else, and it sure does seem like Michael Brown, unarmed and with his hands up according to witnesses (including construction workers with nothing to win, by the way), was executed by Officer Darren Wilson.

This is what I believe.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Some thoughts on Homosexuality and Christianity

I've thought a lot about the subject of homosexuality, and how it affects my beliefs as a Christian.

Years ago (probably close to 20 years ago), my thought was something along the lines of "It's wrong, but I won't condemn someone who is gay".

But the more I thought about the subject, and the more gay people I got to know, the more I became convinced that the proclivity to being homosexual is built in, as opposed to being learned behavior.

So then, how do I square this with my beliefs as a Christian?  I am a Christian, and I'm proud to be one.  I will say that lately my definition of what a Christian is, and what Christianity means, has been changing (evolving?  devolving?) - but that's a different topic for a different day.  

Here is my deal:  If we were created by God, as I believe we were (His method was evolution by the way, although it doesn't matter His method.  Could have been the Adam and Eve story, although to me that seems to limit God: Evolution is so much grander a way to do it in my view.  Anyhow, again, His method of Creation doesn't affect my Christianity), and if homosexuality is built in rather than learned, as I believe it is, then why would I have a problem with it?

I've heard people say "hate the sin, don't hate the sinner" - and I love those people, but I disagree with them that homosexuality is a sin.

Things that homosexuality is not:


Sure, homosexual people can be immoral, and can be promiscuous, just like heterosexual people and we can have a discussion about those subjects any time, but I don't believe there is anything immoral about homosexuality.  I guess that's the first time I've actually written that down as definitively as I just did (the equating of pedophilia with homosexuality is just ignorance, btw - 'nuff said about that).

I'm sure that many people who read this will disagree with me, and that's fine.  People can have differences of opinion, as far as I'm concerned. I just wanted to tell you mine.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Fifth Amendment question

Help me out here, folks - I'm not asking for anyone's partisan political opinion, so please, please, please don't give one - So, Lois Lerner, formerly of the IRS, has been found in contempt of Congress by the House of Representatives for invoking her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself by answering questions during their hearings.

I watched some of the Congressional hearings, and the bloviating Congressmen (of both parties) went after her with gusto.  Love to watch them posture, by the way.  It's great theater.

Here is a Wikipedia* explanation of the portion of the Fifth Amendment that deals with protection against self incrimination:

"The privilege against compelled self-incrimination is defined as "the constitutional right of a person to refuse to answer questions or otherwise give testimony against himself or herself. ... "[34]To "plead the Fifth" is to refuse to answer any question because "the implications of the question, in the setting in which it is asked" lead a claimant to possess a "reasonable cause to apprehend danger from a direct answer", believing that "a responsive answer to the question or an explanation of why it cannot be answered might be dangerous because injurious disclosure could result."

[Oh, by the way, I'm a CPA and I deal with the IRS all the time - there are a lot of good folks who work for them, but I also think that as an organization they have a lot of meanness inside (they need a good hug, is what I say)]

 I'm in no way defending what Ms. Lerner or the IRS may, or may not have done.  I'm talking about Congress apparently feeling that she should not be afforded Constitutional protection when it doesn't suit them.

Anyhow - here is my question:  Why is she being held in contempt of Congress? I mean, what is the legal justification for that charge?

I was at the Post Office the other day - you know, that place where you send messages that are written on pieces of paper, instead of sent electronically - and a guy was at the counter, talking about the whole situation.  He said "they ought to arrest her for taking the Fifth".

Do we now pick and choose when to follow the Constitution? Does our Constitution only apply to those we like?

*It's on the internet, AND on Wikipedia, so it must be correct, right?**
**That was snark, in case you didn't catch it.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Rich F Scott. I hardly knew ye.

An ode to RuFuS. A friend I never met.

I virtually "met" Rich Scott, aka RuFuS on an online forum populated by people who run marathons. Rich had the gift of being hilariously funny, while at the same time being completely incomprehensible. I mean, you never really knew what the hell he was talking about. On two separate occasions, he really offended me - that is, until I realized that I had totally misunderstood what he was saying. On both occasions, he privately messaged me, apologizing for offending me. Again, it wasn't until I went back and reread his comments that I figured out I had only been offended because I'd had no idea what he had said to me in the first place.

 In the past couple of years, he and I had "talked" via email several times, and a couple of times on the phone. The guy was a tender hearted, good person. He made sweet comments about my family, and he and I had made tentative plans to meet at some future time (he apparently had some business in Atlanta - he lived in Iowa). I was alternately excited and terrified at the thought of meeting him in person.

Last few months, RuFuS had spent some time in the hospital. I never really knew what was wrong with him. He downplayed whatever it was as a stomach bug, although he was in the hospital for (I think) about three weeks. He was finally released, but I only heard from him a few times after that. I did check in with him to see how he was doing, and he always gave me some BS answer. A few weeks ago, I messaged him, but didn't get a response. About a week later I had this odd need to find out if he was ok, and messaged another imaginary internet friend. Well, she hadn't heard from him either. The next morning, we found out that he had been found dead in his apartment, supposedly from natural causes. Rich was 40.

There was quite an outpouring of grief from the online running community I am a part of. Rich was well loved, and Rich was evidently a part of many peoples lives, both those he had met in person, as well as those he had only met online. I've read more than one story of how he touched peoples lives.

I've missed his profane and head scratching comments on more than one occasion since his passing on April 11. I think that Rich is a person I would have liked to have known better. I think that the world is a duller place without him.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Stockholm morning

Back a gazillion years ago, Lisa and I went to Scandinavia. We went because Volvo has this really cool program where you pick up your new car at the factory in Gothenburg, Sweden. Back then, Volvo would pay your airfare (now I think they pay a flat $2,000), pick you up at the airport, put you up in a hotel, then take you to the factory to sign ze papers, and get your new car. The point, from the Swedish side of things was (is) that you then drive your new Volvo around Sweden. I guess that's the point. I don't know. We just thought it would be a great way to pick up a car and have a vacation heavily subsidized. Oh, they then ship the car back to your home auto dealer for you to pick up a month or so later.

On that trip, we started in Stockholm, then took a train to Gothenburg where we picked up our shiny new 240, which we proceeded to drive for the next couple of weeks through Sweden and Denmark. We fell in love with those two countries in general, and with Copenhagen in particular.

My Friend, David Kleeman, is in Copenhagen right now, or was over the weekend. David travels extensively to the neatest places. We are collectively very jealous of his travels, and call him names regularly.  Looking at David's pictures on Facebook is why I'm writing this post.


We went back a few years later, and picked up a station wagon (with the turning radius of an oil tanker, by the way). We had both of our girls on this trip, and wound up driving it down through Germany (of course with a few days in Copenhagan, and a side trip to Billund, Denmark, the home of the original Legoland) hanging a right and dropping it off in Paris - never, ever, drive a new Volvo station wagon with manual transmission around the Arc de Triomphe during rush hour. Don't. It will send waves of terror up the back of the strongest individual.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. A few years ago, we went back to Scandinavia, this time to Norway with some friends (no car involved this time), and fell in love with Norway - guess what? We went back to Copenhagan on that trip as well. Want to see my pictures?


I've always gone to that part of the world in spring or summer, and the weather has always been spectacular.

Specifically though, on the last day of that very first trip, Lisa and I went for a 4 am walk in a park in Stockholm - it was sunny, as it is for about 18-20 hours a day at that latitude during the summer. The temperature was chilly and the air was crisp. The sun was shining, and it was beautiful. I've always remembered that morning, and always will.

So, here's the point of my story: this morning, on my walk to work, the air had that same crisp feel, and the sun was shining. It was a beautiful morning in Cleveland, Tennessee. It reminded me of that Stockholm morning.

Monday, March 24, 2014

High School

Recently, some of my high school classmates created a Facebook page dedicated to my high school class (good old class of '76).  It's been interesting to see the page, and to catch up on what many of them have been doing. It's also been interesting to see some of the folks on there who I never knew - even now there are a couple who I have absolutely no recollection of (not telling who they are, either). I guess in a class as large as ours, there are bound to be people you didn't know.  I don't remember exactly how many graduated from the Bradley Central High School class of 1976, but I'm guessing it is somewhere around 500.

One of the people in the class posted that she wished she had been more involved, and felt like a nobody.

I remember going to school at Bradley High. I had moved from England a couple of years earlier, still had a little bit of an English accent (and a lisp for goodness sakes!), and was in a high school full of people who'd gone to school with each other for most of their lives.  To make matters worse, when we had moved to the U.S., I'd skipped the 6th grade, going from the 5th to the 7th, so I was a full year younger than anyone else in my class (except Denise Massengail, didn't she also graduate at 16?).

Point being, for my entire high school career, I felt like an anomaly, never fitting in with any of my peer groups - sure, I had good friends (Doug, Jeff, Artie and Bryan), don't get me wrong, but I always felt like a fish out of water.  Couple that with standard teenage angst, and a couple of unrequited crushes (you girls know who you are), and I didn't really enjoy my high school years.

Even years later, at my 10 and 20 year reunions, as excited as I was to go, I still found the same groups of people hanging with the groups they had hung with back during school. I didn't enjoy those reunions, and didn't attend the last one we had.

It wasn't until today, when I read what my classmate posted, and the comments that everyone made after, that I realized that my feelings were not unique. As a matter of fact, I would bet that those feelings of insecurity are standard fare for high schoolers, always have been, and always will be.

Now - my teenage insecurities haven't affected my life. I'm fairly well adjusted (those of you who know me better not say a word), have been married for 28 years to a Cleveland High school graduate (Lisa Gobble), and have two beautiful daughters who thankfully look like their mom.

Life is good, and yes, it was me who threw the M-80 in the band hallway, and yes, it was me who streaked the R.O.T.C. banquet. Both years.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Runs with earbuds

That would be my Native American name if I weren't a lilly white Englander.

I used to poo poo listening to music when I ran (My friend Paul Stein, on the other hand, is a known and wanted earbud wearer and flouter of rules that would ban their use during a marathon) - except in the latter stages of a marathon, when, as usual, things wouldn't be going well.  In those instances, listening to music would take my mind off of my ineptitude and lack of proper training.

Back when I used to have running partners, I didn't listen to music - I would talk with them, Jerry and Steve in the AM, and Kevin when I would run in Chattanooga. When Lisa and I bike, we chat while riding, and obviously, I wouldn't listen to music then (although I neeeeed a Go-Pro camera.  I neeeeed one). Someone buy me one of these, please

A couple of years ago, I completely fell out of love with running, and now that I've rediscovered what I like about it, I've begun running again, but by myself. One of the things I've noticed is that I'm hopeless when trying to maintain a pace.  I've got no idea how fast I'm running (hint: not very) without a GPS - see below.

Now, I loooove gadgets.  If you know me, you know this to be true.

All of the above was to tell you about last nights "run".  I've got a new Garmin Forerunner (the 220, and I like it.  I even wear it as my daily watch {geek} ), so I had it set.  I also set the "MapMyRun" app on my Galaxy III to record and stream my route.

The final piece to all of this was the Google Play app on my phone, which enabled me to listen to a cheesy 70's playlist.  Here it is, by the way: Ian's Cheesy Playlist   (if you have Spotify, you can listen to it. If you want, you can follow me on Spotify and listen to all the same crap I listen to!!!)  Please understand that I didn't pick this playlist, so I'm not responsible for it. It's Googles fault.

Last night was a good "run".  (I'll remove the quotation marks when I feel like one of my runs can stand on its own.) I think it had to do with Lisa's vegetable soup.  I think it powered me. It was about 5 miles.  I'm starting to feel more comfortable running again, but I'm not there yet. The music helps. So does my Garmin. So does my smart phone. So does Google Play. Pity about the whole ability thing.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A healthcare thought

Here is the premise of the Affordable Care Act from my perspective: if all Americans have, and pay premiums to a health insurance plan (private companies, not socialized insurance, oh ye who have no idea what you are talking about), then premiums will drop. See if this math makes sense to you - the risk pool of a 4 person group (mine) is smaller than one that includes 300 million people.  When the risk is spread across that many people, many of whom are healthy and will not tax the system until later in their lives, then premiums will drop.

There are other facets:  Kids able to stay on their parents policies longer, people not being denied coverage because of preexisting conditions, and others.  I admit, the potential for affordable healthcare premiums is what attracts me.

It is a fact though, that young, healthy people are going to have to participate - in my opinion, the penalties for not participating, both on an individual level and on a corporate level are not nearly high enough.  Too many young people are not signing up because they don't need it right now - but they'll surely want coverage later on in life, when they inevitably start having medical problems.

Currently, in my small group, if I fart incorrectly my premiums skyrocket, because the risk is spread across such a small group of people.

Think of it as purchasing power.  Try to stop thinking of it as a plot by that evil Kenyan, Muslim, Socialist, Communist.  Stop letting people scare you.  Start voting for your self interest rather than against your self interest.

Please stop using the poor web design as yet another reason that Obamacare is bad. The website roll-out sucked.  That's a given.  That does not make the premise of affordable healthcare incorrect.


Oh, let me tell you a story about a national health program:  When I was 9, I was bedridden for a portion of every month - I had kidney problems that wound up necessitating the removal of my right kidney.  The doctors took me into Addenbrooke's Childrens Hospital in Cambridge, England (where I lived at the time) They removed my kidney, I stayed in the hospital for something like 10 days total.

Most importantly: I've been healthy for the last 45 years.

Second most importantly:  My parents didn't wind up with a bill of several hundred thousand dollars.

That was only one anecdote, but a real one nonetheless. Not some widely spread, vague scare headline. Instead, a real example of how national healthcare saved my life, and saved my parents financial health.

Monday, February 3, 2014

That one time I felt like a runner: "Looking good #1501"

In March of 2006, I ran the Knoxville half marathon ( I was in pretty good shape (for me), as I was coming off of the New York Marathon the previous November, and had continued running after.

It's important to know that I'm too slow to run 5k's and 10k's effectively, and I don't have enough endurance to run marathons effectively (I always run out of gas at about the 20 mile mark). The half marathon is my best distance. I think it is the most fun distance.

Good sprinters have a lot of fast twitch muscles; Good distance runners have a lot of slow twitch muscles. My nickname on a running website is "No Twitch Muscles". I think that appropriately paints the picture of my abilities.

So, the Knoxville half starts downtown, winds its way through the University of Tennessee campus, then later enters a fairly hilly neighborhood (Sequoyah Hills), before crossing a major street (Kingston Pike), and coming back to downtown via a rolling greenway.

I've always loved this half. It is my favorite of any half marathon I've ever done. Lots of sights to see, a beautiful neighborhood to run through, dogwoods in bloom, good crowd support.

Anyhow, I navigated the first 8 or so pretty hilly miles in good fashion, crossed Kingston Pike, and started back to downtown via the greenway.  And then?  A funny thing happened.  I started passing people.  Up and down the tiny rolling hills. I felt good, and I could feel myself getting stronger - this never happens!  I usually start to fade at about the 10 mile mark, 'cause, you know, I suck.  But not on this day.  It's no exaggeration to say that I passed about 75 people during a 4 mile stretch on the greenway.

The last 2 miles or so run through the Fort Sanders neighborhood, I usually just gut those out (they are sadistically hilly), and watch as people pass me by.  But not that Sunday.  That Sunday, I not only held my own, I continued to pass people.

About a half a mile from the finish (which, by the way happens on the 50 yard line of Neyland Stadium - granted, that was more impressive before Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley came to town), I thundered (in my mind) around a curve, and a volunteer said:

                                                 "Looking good #1501"

This is the first time that a volunteer has ever said that to me without the accompanying look of pity, driving home the absolute lie just spoken.  THIS GUY MEANT IT!

I rounded that curve, down a hill, then triumphantly entered the stadium - passing one more person as I entered.

                                                         Didn't I look good?

A big selling point of this race is that not only do you finish on the 50 yard line, but your finish is on the Jumbotron and your name is announced for all of your throngs of admirers to hear.

I finished in 2:05:xx, my best time ever - so far  (I realize that is not an impressive time - the world record is an astounding 58:23!!!, but for me?  Pretty damned good.)

On that day, I ran the best race I could, I ran a negative split (!), and I felt that rare euphoria that a runner feels when it is his or her day. Doesn't happen often, but runners reading this know exactly the feeling I'm trying to describe.

So, on that day, walking out of the stadium with my medal around my neck, watching other runners coming down the final hill into the stadium, I felt like a runner.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Some definitions and a thought or two

Merriam-Webster online's primary definition of Socialism is:  "a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies."

Since we don't like Socialism, that means we don't like Tennessee Valley Authority, right? Or the local utility companies?.

How about these guys:


Again, using Merriam-Webster's online dictionary, Capitalism is defined as: "a way of organizing an economy so that the things that are used to make and transport products (such as land, oil, factories, ships, etc.) are owned by individual people and companies rather than by the government."

I don't think that the list of organizations above would exist without the backing of local and federal governments. I think it is necessary to have government involvement sometimes.

Maybe, instead of calling people names, we should think about the meaning of those words?


As a business owner who has taken ALL of the risk, signed my name to ALL of the notes payable, and am on the hook for EVERYTHING that can go wrong in my business, I damned well expect to be paid significantly better than my employees.  But 380 times better? I think I might be able to share the wealth a little better than that.

About a month ago, I was talking about how we as taxpayers are actually subsidizing Walmart and other large corporations.  

Doesn't this mean then, that I am helping to pay Mike Duke's $23.15 million total compensation, regardless of whether or not I shop there? I think it does, and I don't think I really like that.

I don't find, in dealing with my clients, many companies who can't afford to lift their employees off of the minimum wage, ESPECIALLY adults. I think that requiring a minimum wage to be a living wage, AND to be tied to the rate of inflation, is good social policy.  Sometimes, having the government decide social policy is a good thing.  The mortgage interest deduction on your tax return is a government mandated social policy designed to promote home ownership.  Likewise, the charitable contribution deduction is a government mandated social policy designed to promote INDIVIDUAL charitable giving. I've yet to hear any complaints about those examples.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Them there Gays, wanting rights again!

The City of Chattanooga is wrestling with the decision of whether or not to offer domestic partner benefits to its employees. The City originally passed an ordinance approving those benefits, but a group called "Citizens for Government Accountability and Transparency" collected 7,000+ signatures on a petition, which forced the City Council to either repeal the ordinance or do nothing (which would send the ordinance to a vote in the August general election). The Council has decided to let the citizens of Chattanooga vote it up or down.

The underlying reason for this ordinance, although not explicitly stated, is to provide same-sex couples with the same benefits that heterosexual couples already enjoy.

As you might imagine, this has created a firestorm of opinion, often centering around biblical interpretations. It seems to me, in reading various comments following online articles and polls (yeah, I realize that I should NEVER read the comments, as that is often where the worst of us reside), that the majority (not all, but the majority) of the comments coming from the pro-bible side of the argument are against providing these benefits.  Some of the comments came across as downright mean and nasty ("dirty homos").

Disclosure:  I'm a Christian - I'm an Episcopalian (a Christian denomination that encourages me to use my God-given brain as a tool for discernment).

Lacking in many of the comments is a feeling of love for our brothers and sisters. There seems to be a pervasive sense of hatred out in the world today - maybe it is not a new phenomenon, but it is one that I've really noticed over the last several years.

I realize that there isn't consensus among Christians as to the rightness or wrongness of Homosexuality.  To me though, that is beside the point.  The point is the rightness or wrongness of providing equal rights to all Americans, as our Constitution requires (I guess I'd go with the "Equal Protection Clause" of the 14th Amendment, although I'm certainly not a lawyer!).

It's not an issue to be adjudicated according to religious beliefs - although that might be how it is decided, at least at this level. It is a civil issue, much the same way that same sex marriages should be civil issues. Churches should be free to perform or not perform same sex ceremonies according to the dictates of their rules, but should have no say in how governments that follow the Constitution act.

I was reading a blog post written by an Episcopal priest (written in 2007) that pretty much sums up how I feel as a Christian - as it relates to this subject - here is a link to the whole post:, but I'll excerpt this bit:

"Homosexuals in the Church - Episcopalians do not tend to believe in homosexuality as a moral or psychological disorder. We accept the well-researched findings of boring experts like the American Psychiatric Association, which sees homosexuality as a “normal variant of human sexuality.” An important question, then, is not the gender of your partner but rather the quality of your intimate relationship. Are you committed, monogamous, and nurturing? Most of us have come to know homosexuals who are involved in healthy, life-giving and sustaining partnerships. We see that there is no essential difference between gay and straight: we all long for love; we all fail to love perfectly; and as we deepen our spiritual journey, we seek to live in forgiveness and harmony with the Source of love. Episcopalians humbly follow Jesus as One who shows us how this is done, and for that reason our worship centers around Christ.

And yet, a handful of Christian leaders lead the charge that would deprive homosexuals of their civil and human rights. Many who call themselves Christians routinely link homosexuality with pedophilia and incest. If we did not know better, we would dismiss this position as sadly ignorant; but if this is ignorance, it appears to be of the willful variety, and it is dangerous."

I believe then that the voters in Chattanooga should vote this ordinance "up" so that this group of human beings is granted the same rights as other humans.