Saturday, September 05, 2015

It's Not You, it's Your Position

For the unclear - Kim Davis is not being punished for her religious beliefs. She's allowed to hold whatever beliefs she wants, whether it's in line with the law or not. The Office of the County Clerk of Rowan County is NOT allowed to act on those beliefs; its function is to perform the job tasked to it. If the person holding that position refuses to do his or her job, then the holder of the office is liable for any punishment that might come his or her way.

The County Clerk of Rowan County refused to follow a judicial order and the County Clerk of Rowan County is being held in contempt for refusing to follow the judicial order. Kim Davis and her supporters believe this is about her - the individual. They are wrong. This is about the position, which happens to be held by her.

If Kim Davis wants to get out of jail, then she can do one of two things. She can issue the marriage licenses the holder of the Office of the County Clerk is obliged to issue, or she can resign, and allow another person hold that office and be bound by the obligations attached thereto. She doesn't get to have both, and this is where she's stuck.

8 Mile(s)

Running the hills, even the small ones around our new house, is a different animal than the flat running I did back in Texas. 

I'm excited that I am back up to 8 mile runs after about 6 weeks of return to training, but that's still 5 miles short of a half marathon.  I'm going to try to kick my distance up another mile next week for my long run, but more importantly, I need to find a way to get a fourth run in during the week.  I don't know why I'm struggling with that, but I have a hunch it's because I'm no longer running in the morning before work.  The change in run time affects my motivation, as I'm less interested in getting out there after a long day at work.

Still, the views are nicer here than in my old neighborhood (I can see the Cascades and the Olympics from various points in my run), so that helps out a lot. 

Vancouver is coming up soon!  I'll try to get some pictures to share.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Running Along

As the one person who still reads this noticed, I completed two half marathons whilst still living in Texas.  Both were flat courses in that there were very few hills, which was helpful.  I finished Galveston in 2:02:14 and I finished the Woodlands in 1:58:50.

Then, upon relocation up to the PNW, I immediately took part in the Rock n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon, which was decidedly NOT a flat course.  I noticed the leg cramps were palpable.  I did finish the race, but it was SLOW.  I don't even know for sure what my finish time was, but it was somewhere around 2:41. 

After struggling with the Seattle half marathon, I did the only sensible thing, which was to sign up for another half marathon - this one being the Rock n' Roll Vancouver half marathon in October.  While not nearly as hilly as Seattle from what I've seen, it's definitely not flat like we had in Texas.  This means that I've had to get back to training (which I needed to do regardless, as I was falling out of shape). 

Running in this area is a bigger challenge than down in the Houston area, in part because there are not exactly any flat areas on which to run where we live.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, as training on hills uses a bit more energy and in theory should help me be more prepared for upcoming half marathons, but it does mean that my training has taken even more of a step back than it had by taking the better part of two months off (relocation, new job, new home, etc. meant less time for running, which in turn meant losing fitness).

Today I did my first eight mile run since moving up here.  I technically did 13.1 here, as I did complete the RNR Seattle half, but honestly, after 6.2 miles, I had to walk a lot (those hills were killer on my flatland-trained legs).  So, I'm getting back up there, and I'm confident I'll be good come October, and might even be able to challenge my PR, though, I'm mostly in it for the medals.

And, because this is what I do, I'm eyeballing a couple more half marathons, so that I can have 6 by the end of the year.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Time May Change Me

It's been several months now since I last posted.  Quite a bit has changed.  I have left Texas to return to the Pacific Northwest, near where I lived when I enlisted 20 years ago.  I've started work for a large corporation in the procurement department, and while I knew it was a different world than I'd been working in, I didn't necessarily appreciate just what a difference it was. 

I want to say I'm happy.  I really do.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Running along

I've not made many posts, recently, but I can say that, after my first half marathon, I chose, for some reason, to sign up for the Woodlands half marathon at the end of February. 

Actually, I do know the reason - my friend signed up, and I told him that if he were to sign up, then I would, as well. 

The weather was cold - 38 degrees at the outset.  Not my favorite temperature for starting.  It was a good run, though.  I found the 2 hour pace group and stuck right behind or even with them for the first 12 miles, even managing to chat with a few folks here and there. 

As we got back to where the corrals were placed, I heard one of the pacers state that we had about 6 minutes left to run, at which point, I started to increase my speed.  I can't say that I sprinted, as there's really no such thing as a sprint in my legs after 12 miles, but I definitely sped up.  I don't know how far ahead of the pace group I was, but I finished at 1:58:50, which was about 3.5 minutes faster than my time at the Galveston half marathon. 

I don't really do pictures, so you will have to take my word for it, but, rest assured, I felt good, if chilly, afterwards.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Half Run

And, after 4 months of training, I found myself at the starting line of the Galveston Half Marathon.

I'm still not very comfortable referring to myself as a "runner," but I did manage to run the full half marathon.  I did feel for the guys and gals who were running the full marathon, as they still had another lap around the course. 

13 miles is a long, long way to run.  I started off well, running between 8:30 and 9:00 for the first 6-7 miles.  Then I started to get tired.  I got slower and slower throughout the run, which is unfortunate, as I was about 2 and a quarter minutes shy of the pace I'd hoped to complete the half marathon.  I don't have the results available yet, but my app on my phone indicates that I finished somewhere around 2:02. 

The route was nice.  You turn the corner, go up a little bit near the Pleasure Pier (which just sounds like something from Pinocchio to me), turn right and you're on the seawall. Running on the seawall was gorgeous - you can't be any closer to the beach, and there's hardly anyone out in the water. you run along the seawall for a mile or so, then do a short turnaround and head back for a few miles before you go up a small incline and through some resorty-looking area, then back around and into Galveston city again.  The meanest thing the planners did was make the stretch after the last turn like 10 city blocks. These aren't normal city blocks, though - these are industrial strength, Texas sized city blocks, to match the Texas sized last mile, which by my estimation was about 7.3 standard miles. It's rather disheartening to run block after block without seeing the finish line get any closer. But, I did keep going. I'm happy to say that I did run the entire race, and then very quickly made it to the port-o-can, because I had to go from about the 0.4 mile mark.

I think, if they were to ask my input, the one thing I'd request, not that they care, or that it might even be feasible, is that they reverse the route, so that you're running along the seawall for the last portion of the race.  That 10 block run at the end would be much less daunting at the beginning, in my opinion.

Galveston was a nice location for a half (or full, I'm sure) marathon, but I'm not sure I'm going to sign up again next year.  We'll have to see how I'm feeling.  I was really wiped by the end of this.  Part of it might have been the temperature - I'd been training between 30-50 degrees, but the run day temperature was in the mid-60s, which was less pleasant than I'd hoped, oddly. 

I do feel better now, if a little tired.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Running For Some Reason

So, back in October, I decided that I needed to start exercising again, as I saw my weight starting to creep upwards again.  I didn't have time to go to the gym every day, as my work has me driving about a 200 mile round trip each day, so I had to come up with a different plan.

For convenience sake, I opted to go for a quick run in the mornings before I headed out. 

Long story short, after about 2 months, I decided to sign up for a half-marathon.  I will be running the Galveston Half Marathon in about 2.5 weeks, this after buying my first pair of actual running shoes shortly after Thanksgiving. 

I'll let y'all know how it turns out.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


So after our TKD class recently, we went out for a "Staff Meeting," wherein the adult students/instructors get together at a local restaurant and chitchat about things while having drinks. 

During our meeting, one of the guys mentions that our community has a Hindu temple in it and while mentioning it, he noticeably cringed.  As he does this, I ask him, "And that is a problem?"  He at first starts to say no, but in the middle of his sentence, changes course and then expresses to me that he does have a problem, because (and I'm abridging this quite a bit) in his mind, there are two religions in this world, one which believes you are imperfect and must atone for said imperfection, and one which says you can achieve perfection through good acts, and that is the wrong one.  He then expresses to me that America was founded on religious principles, and cites, among others, "In God We Trust" on our currency as evidence.  I pointed out that it was not put on our (paper) currency until 1955 (I was mistaken, it appears to have actually been 1957), to which another one of our colleagues said I was right, but that I was also wrong - he didn't expound on how I was wrong other than to agree that the United States was founded on Christian ideals. 

The conversation then moved to the situation in Iraq and with ISIS/ISIL and why this is the end of days and why doomsday preppers are not all bad (I never said the preppers were bad, but I did say that ISIS could be compared to what might happen if our doomsday preppers decided to organize and try to push for what they believe is inevitable/right - mostly joking), but I digress.

The issue that this conversation brings for me is the notion, again, that this country is a Christian Nation, or that we exist based on Christian principles.  As to the latter, we have plenty of evidence that this nation is not a Christian Nation based on the founder's acts - notably, the Constitution, our governing document, which in its corpus makes no reference to God whatsoever, and the only mention of religion is in Article VI, Paragraph 3, which recites that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."  I've already written in the past regarding Thomas Jefferson and the Danbury Baptist Church as well as his Letter to Levi Lincoln regarding same, as well as a letter to the Methodist Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, PA.  Further, we have the Treaty of Tripoli, which includes in its body the sentence "As the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion, —as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of (Muslims) —and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any (Mohammedan) nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."  Unfortunately, I was unable to expound on my position, because explaining these facets requires far more time and effort that "we are a nation founded on Christian Principles" does, and it was time to get going...

I have stated before - the United States is a nation founded by Christians.  It is not, however, a Christian Nation.  This is an important distinction, and one which is lost on many people, including, perhaps, my dinner friends. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Taekwondo Student Oath

I've noticed in the past that several Taekwondo Dojangs operate under the tenets of Taekwondo, as I referenced in a previous post.  In addition to these tenets, I've found that our school also obeys a student oath.  While there appears to be a relatively similar oath among different schools, our particular dojang works under the following five guidelines:

1: I shall observe the tents of Tae Kwon Do.
2: I shall respect the instructor and fellow students.
3: I shall never misuse Tae Kwon Do.
4: I shall be a worthy representative of Tae Kwon Do.
5: I shall strive for self-improvement and will always be eager to learn.

Of these, I find that our child students appear to have the most difficulty with number 5.  There are times where it appears as though they are simply going through the motions.  This appears to happen most often around the 5th kub (Blue Belt in our school), or about half-way to the Black Belt examination.  I personally refer to this as the doldrum stage of Taekwondo.  While it's imperative for the instructors to attempt to keep the students interested, it can be difficult to make children want to learn when it's clear they aren't.  Often times, this is where you can see which students are in class because their parents want them there (they already spent this much time, effort and money, the student must finish, *or* "my kid is going to do *x*"), as opposed to the ones who are their because they want to finish what they started, or truly enjoy what they are doing.

For my part, I usually try to really get the kids interested by showing them the utility of what they learn, as well as increasing the bag work and especially the kicking - the parts that are "fun," while still trying to direct them in the proper form/technique.

Good times.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Tenets of Taekwondo

When I first enrolled in Taekwondo back in 2001 when I arrived in San Angelo, I took classes from an instructor who may have been skilled in Taekwondo.  However, as many people no doubt have picked up over the years, skill at an activity does not equate to the ability to teach said activity (see, e.g. Thomas, Isaiah). 

When I started up with Taekwondo again back in 2012, it came as some surprise to me that the was more to the art than just learning patterns and how to defend one's self.  I learned that there were principles, a dogma, to Taekwondo - which are referred to as the "tenets" of Taekwondo.

Perhaps these tenets are not universal to all schools or forms of Taekwondo, but I've since come to find the same tenets referenced by other schools, both in ITF and WTF styles. 

The Tenets of Taekwondo, as our school teaches them, are as follows (please forgive any misspellings on the hangul, it's been over a decade since I used it with any semblance of regularity):

Ye Ui (예의) = Courtesy
Yom Chi (렴치) = Integrity
In Nae (인내) = Perseverance
Guk Gi (극기) = Self-Control
Baekjul Boolkool (백절 불 굴) = Indomitable Spirit

While our school expounds on these tenets, I will not repost what the school wrote, however, in the event there are questions as to what is meant by any particular tenet, I will be willing to share my personal take on any one or more.

Friday, April 11, 2014

On Progression of Minors in Taekwondo

Back in March, my youngest son and I both tested and achieved our first Dan (1st Degree Black Belt) at our Taekwondo school.  This was a pretty significant occasion for both of us.  My daughter will be testing for her black belt in the fall.

I will note a couple things - first, my son is 9, and he's been taking classes for about 2.5 years.  I understand that typically this is below the average time frame for promotion to a first Dan, however, it is not outside the minimum parameters found at  By comparison, I started in Martial Arts in the mid-90s, and all the time I trained combined, I'd say I probably took closer to the 3 year average, though by strict calendar counting, it took me about 18.

I've read on various websites opinions by various practitioners as to whether a minor (particularly someone below the mid-teens) can accurately reach a black belt rank.  After mulling over what I've read on the matter in opposition to children attaining black belts, I think I would have to disagree with that opinion. 

The general premise from what I can gather is that minors should not be able to achieve a black belt because they cannot physically hold their own against an adult.  I believe this to be an unfair comparison.  By this measure, then one could argue that unless you can match the talents of every black belt of your Dan in a particular style, then you should not be entitled to hold said black belt. 

In one tournament I attended, one of the individuals I sparred against was in his mid-60s and had a pacemaker.  At the time, I was an 8th gup, and I believe he was 5th.  I was able to beat him pretty handily, as I was more physically capable than he was.  By extending the argument that a minor could not hold his own against an adult, one would putatively have to hold the position that my opponent that day would not be entitled to achieve his Dan, as he was not able to keep up with an (at the time) overweight, out of shape middle aged guy, so there's no way he'd have been able to keep up with a 1st degree, fit 20 year old.  I disagree with this notion.

The black belt is, as much as anything, a symbol of accomplishment - a sign that you have mastered the patterns presented and that you have an understanding of the practical application of the motions contained therein.  If we were to take a peer-based approach to the examination of this, as opposed to a mass-based approach, then it would seem to me that a minor who has mastered these concepts has indeed earned their ranking.  Withholding a Dan certificate, or arguing in favor of withholding, simply because of one's age seems more a matter of pride as opposed to any rational position, if one takes this approach. 

Another argument I've read is that children lack the mental acuity to appreciate the value/importance of a black belt.  This, again, in my opinion, is a very subjective argument.  I've seen 30-40 year olds who have less mental wherewithal than my 9 year old.  I've seen some 12-13 year olds who, if you were to tell me they ran their households, I'd have absolutely no problems believing you.  Conversely, I know multiple 20-somethings who still don't know how to write a check properly.  Age does not, simply by passing, bring wisdom or understanding.  Using mental maturity as a lodestar does not provide, to me, much of an argument against promoting minors.  If a child can show mastery of skills and a sense of respect for the benchmark he or she has achieved, it is my opinion that it would be petty to withhold said recognition based solely on one's prejudice as to mental maturity. 

Again, these are simply my opinions.  I do not profess to be "right," nor do I believe that because someone holds an opinion contrary to mine that they are "wrong."  I am merely unconvinced that theirs is the correct position.