20 Years, A Love Story

Twenty years ago we elected Bill Clinton and we saw the Rodney King riots.  Stamps (remember those?) were .29¢ and compact disks became more popular than cassette tapes.  The Silence of the Lambs won the Oscar for best picture and a text-based browser was made available to the public for the first time to try something called the world-wide web.  Johnny Carson hosted his last Tonight Show and Bush and Yeltsin formally declared the end of the cold war.  That was also the year we married.

Twenty years ago today.  Hard to believe that much time has gone by.  I still remember our wedding day like it was yesterday.  Hot soup being served in unstable gourds (what could possibly go wrong?).  Discovering your mom had changed the wedding cake you picked out.  Those crazy makeup guys chasing me around the hallway trying to get me to wear make up.  All the Halloween jokes.  Remembering how beautiful you looked in your dress.  Ordering pizza in our room at 2 am because we never got a chance to eat at the reception.

We were certainly the rebels of the families.  We’ve picked up and moved to three different states (two of ’em twice!).  Two apartments, one townhouse, one rental house (frogs in the bed, oh my!), five purchased houses, and nearly a year in a motor home.  Whew, we’ve traveled!  We’ve had nine different vehicles in that time… and one Volkswagen bus that never quite made it out of the driveway.

We traveled to islands, Europe, Mexico, Canada, and plenty of US states.  We got to see the Olympics in Atlanta (just left the square before the bombing), and Yellowstone by snowmobile.  Countless trips in the motor home.  Lots of skiing, some backpacking, hiking and biking.  An epic meltdown while snowshoeing.  Made it to the top of Mt Whitney and Mt Lassen.  Oh, and you bravely got your scuba certification because you knew I enjoyed diving.

Lots of good times.  Some difficult times too of course.  We’ve been through the loss of family members and friends.  We’ve enjoyed the full life cycle of two crazy, wonderful dogs and mourned their passing.  A few rough patches here and there.  Nobody can hold a grudge like me when a favorite t-shirt is thrown away.  A couple of medical scares that, while they ended being nothing, make you think.

Before we’d met I couldn’t fathom how you could spend that much time with someone.  What the heck would you talk about after twenty years?  It still amazes me that after all these years, there isn’t anyone I’d rather spend my time with.  I look forward to going out to dinner and chatting just as much today as when we met.  I love that we still hold hands when we walk downtown.  The fact that when we first met and ended up spending all night parked in your parents driveway talking, was a sign.  I think we both knew within a few weeks that this was it… and that feeling has never left me.

I love that we’ve never been content to just sit and let life pass us by.  These last few years have been full of change – moving and a new house, and leaving jobs.  The fact that you tolerate, encourage, and trust me to pursue a new career at this age is a commitment to our embracing life together.  I don’t know what the future holds.  What I do know is that it really doesn’t matter as long as we’re together.  Like it or not, you’re stuck with me for the next twenty.

The day I said “I do” was the best decision I ever made and one I’d do again in a heartbeat.  I hope I’ve lived up to my end of the deal. I don’t know how else to phrase it, other than to simply say “I love you now, and forever”.

Respect, Or Not

Last night I watched CNN’s hit piece, sorry – ‘documentary’,  titled “The World According to Lance Armstrong”.  What a steaming pile of bravo sierra. You can almost see producers running around, peeing on themselves in their excitement to jump on the trash Armstrong bandwagon.  You would think a “news/documentary” would at least make an attempt towards an objective view – but I guess that standard is long gone in today’s pseudo news world.

Do I think Lance used performance enhancing drugs? Probably. It would be hard to remain competitive without it during those years.  Does it diminish what he accomplished? Not even in the slightest. The news makes it sound as if you take a drug and the pedals will practically turn themselves going uphill.  To compete as a cyclist at that level requires a massive amount of natural ability and a physiologic make up to take in and transport oxygen that you’re either born with or you’re not.  Not to mention a level of commitment to training, diet, and discipline that few people posses.

There are other factors that play into being a succesful pro cyclist as well. It’s a team sport. You cannot win without strong team members performing at the same level as you.  It takes a certain amount of luck to not get caught in a crash, puncture at the wrong time, and remain healthy when traveling non-stop.  Most of all, and what I think draws so many of us to be cycling fans, is a willingness to endure a level of pain and suffering that us mortal humans can’t fathom.  Running a marathon?  A triathlon?  That’s cute – go compete in one every day for a month and then we can talk.

I’m so saddened for US cycling.  I think that the way the USADA approached the problem has done a tremendous amount of damage to the sport and possibly doomed its future for quite some time.  Good luck finding corporate sponsors for teams or events.  How many parents are going to be excited for their kids to get involved in cycling now?  Yes, there’s a problem in the sport that needs to be addressed.  But if you kill the sport while trying to save it what was the point?  Valid or not, the USADA went after Lance with a vendetta and single-minded purpose to bring him down.  I suppose to make an example out of him?  So you bring down the media figure that probably single-handedly brought US cycling to the level that it is.  Hmmm, brownie points for you I guess.

So what about respect?  There are all kinds of problems with “laws of silence” and it’s certainly not something you want to encourage.  At the same time, the old saying is true – nobody likes a snitch.  Especially when you were happy to benefit from something… until you get caught.  To then start portraying yourself as a proponent of “clean” cycling or to write a tell-all book (looking at you Vaughters and Hamilton) is cause for a loss of respect.  To wait until the end of your career to say something and then take a sweetheart deal to keep your records intact – sorry lost much respect for you Hincapie.

And as for sponsors… so much for loyalty.  Happy to make truckloads of cash off of an athlete for years and years.  Hints and rumors of the doping scandals have been around for years and you were happy to look the other way.  The media starts making an issue of things and you run like you encountered the Ebola virus?  Sorry Nike, Trek, et al… I have zero respect for you as company.  I understand the need to no longer continue with a tarnished brand, but I think there were much classier ways of handling it other than issuing a two sentence press release.  Oh well, ultimately it is all about money.

I took the time to read much of the USADA’s decision.  Some of its believable, some of it’s not.  I don’t think much of it would ever hold up in an actual court… but they’re not held to that standard so I guess it doesn’t matter.  There’s an excellent article about that here: Armstrong – Truth, Justice, and the American Way    Bottom line, it’s clear how bad the problem is in cycling.  While I don’t think most true cycling fans are shocked by it, it still tarnishes the sport.  I would much rather have seen the USADA put the same effort into working with the retiring “old guard” of cycling to get them to promote and encourage (as hypocritical as that may be) clean riding for the next generation.

The way they went about it and the wreckage it caused… I probably won’t watch the grand tours this year.  And that saddens me.

Latest Debate Summary

Last night there was a political debate.  The two presidential candidates gave a performance the likes of Webster, Lincoln, or Buckley would be proud of.  In the off chance you were otherwise occupied scraping lint out of the dryer screen, I thought I’d summarize the points made by the candidates for you.

  • I’d like to thank the viewers, the moderator, a god that’s non-offensive and inclusive of everyone, my opponent, the people of this great city, my wife, my family, veterans, heroes, and this great country for giving me the opportunity to be here tonight.
  • I will invest (spend) in one million new TV weathermen, ah I mean weatherpeople. I said forecasters, check the transcript.  I will invest (spend) on 21st century skills.  I will invest (spend) on our crumbling infrastructure – roads, bridges, robotic squirrels, Moroccan pottery classes, and the 2013 Alabama Watermelon Queen tour.  It is simply un-American to allow a watermelon queen and the fine watermelons of Alabama to wither on the vine.
  • My AMERICAN flag lapel pin is bigger than yours, bitch.
  • I promise to provide new iPhones to everyone in the country.  It is unacceptable that in the greatest country on earth there are people walking around, hard-working AMERICANS, who can’t play Angry Birds through no fault of their own.  My opponent is happy with half this country using phones that only make phone calls.  I’m sorry, I have a higher standard than that.
  • My opponent grinds up kittens and drinks them as smoothies every morning.  I’ve proposed legislation banning this despicable practice.
  • When I’m president I’ll create one trillion jobs; good paying jobs; the best jobs; you’ll want to quit your job to get one of these jobs they’ll be so good; they’ll be AMERICAN jobs; jobs of the future; high-tech jobs; jobs for heroes; jobs you can raise a family on; jobs you can take trips to Disneyland on and pose with motherf***ing Mickey Mouse and that creepy duck with no pants.
  • First off, I’d like to thank and honor the men and women who serve – they’re heroes… but there are other heroes.  The gargbagemen, the gal who makes my yummy pumpkin latte at Starbucks, the kid who retrieves shopping carts at the grocery store, the faceless folks who man the phone banks at my campaign headquarters preparing robo-calls – all heroes.  But you know who else is a hero?  A gal I met just the other day from Tulsa Oklahoma. An ordanry AMERICAN. She has six kids and holds down three jobs. She has only one leg due to a horrible meat grinder accident.  Her husband is on disability and the bank is foreclosing on their double-wide.  But you know what struck me? She’s not complaining. She’s not looking for a handout. She just wants a fair shot. She’s the true hero. I don’t think that in this great country of ours it’s too much to ask that she has an iPhone.  My opponent thinks otherwise.
  • My plan? Let me tell you about my plan. My opponent has a seven point plan. I have a twenty point plan. An AMERICAN plan that puts AMERICA first. I have thirteen more points in my plan than my opponent. Everyone on the internet has agreed that my opponents plan isn’t even a plan.  It’s not even a suggestion of a plan. His plan is so bad you look up bad plan in the dictionary and there it is.  Every economist on the planet agrees that my plan is the best.  I’m sorry, but I find it offensive that my opponent bad mouths my plan when the facts clearly lay out the brilliance of my plan.
  • In closing, I’d like to thank the academy, this university, the people of the planet, the people in this hemisphere and the great AMERICAN Americans of this great country.  Vote for me. I will cure cancer and put cute puppies on every doorstep.  Thank you and GOD BLESS THIS GREAT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!! Unless you’re offended by that, in which case I apologize, I don’t want to offend anyone – the focus groups told me to say that.

And there you have it – a clear choice.  If this doesn’t convince you that the other guy is a devil worshiping, America hating, hater, who drips hot wax on babies to make them squeal… then perhaps you haven’t been listening.  Don’t despair – there’s 32,413 more political ads to watch in the next few weeks to help you make your decision.