Monday, December 05, 2011
Haha, you thought I was done! No such luck.
My son plays fife in the 1st Michigan Fife & Drum Corps, which focuses on Revolutionary War era costume & music. They march in parades and play in a number of events each year. The biggest event is Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village (an extremely large historical village with homes/shops/exhibits/etc. of life in the US from the 17th century to early 20th century, started/supported by Henry Ford / Ford Motor company). Each year the Corps. stands around one of the fires and plays period & Christmas music for the people who come to the event; they do this for 14 nights total (taking turns, not everyone plays every night). Given that my son does not yet drive I get to spend the evning there as well. This year he is committed to 4 nights, and possibly a 5th. So that's where I was Saturday night, sitting in the admin building catching up on e-mails and playing mah jong for 4 hours. Parents don't get to go into the village unless they've also bought a ticket for that night and, quite frankly, if you go once there's not much point in going again as very little ever changes. I'm hoping his dad agrees to take 2 of the remaining nights. Other members have also offered to drive him but we tried that last year and it didn't work out very well.
On Friday night my son wanted to go to the Holiday Nights as a spectator, with his girlfriend. And my daughter also wanted to go again so I bought the tickets and away we went. I had a Groupon so beforehand we had dinner at a place called Black Market - a bar/grill type place with a standard menu of appetizers, sandwiches, pizza and burgers. Their claim to fame is that the burgers are made from exotic meats (all farm raised, no illegal poaching or trafficking despite the name). On the menu Friday was bison, ostrich, alpaca, kangaroo, yak, alligator...and african lion.
They were out of everything except bison, yak and alligator so my son & his girlfriend had alligator and I had the yak. Yak is (un)surprisingly pretty similar to bison, it was good. I was taken aback though by the african lion. I have to think about why since none of the other meats made me stop and think and somehow ordering lion for dinner just seems...wrong? You can argue that all meat eating is wrong, starting from the living conditions of the animals right up to killing a feeling creature for food...I don't necessarily disagree although I am not a vegetarion; I respect the choices of those who are and expect the same consideration. Although I'm going to have to really think about why lion bothers me and yak does not.
My karate dojo found a new location so the increase was reduced a little bit. At the end of the day I'm paying $10 more per month total; the space is supposed to be larger. So that worked out in the end...at least for now.
Sunday I am running the Jingle Bell Run locally, a 5k. They give us bells to wear and the race happens regardless of the weather. Some previous races were run in heavy snow conditions. So far the forecast is partly sunny with a high of 36F.
I need to sit down soon and figure out races for next year. Not necessarily to register yet but at least get some on the radar. I was not able to find one in the London area for the period I am there so don't think I will be able to run any races in London or Paris. Kind of bummed about that but I suspect I will live LOL. I did find one about an hour north of London but the logistics of getting there in the morning are more than I want to deal with (if you have ever seen me drive you would understand why I don't wish to rent a car in a country where they drive on the opposite side of the road) so I will probably pass on it.
Sunday, December 04, 2011
Oh wow, I am behind. Time flies when you're fighting hibernation.
On 11/18 we had our company "soup kitchen", where volunteers bring in crock pots of soup and the employee activity committee provides the crackers and dessert for a communal lunch. We usually get quite a variety of soups with almost no duplication. This year I made vegetable beef soup; except for the beef and the barley every single ingredient, including the seasonings, came from my garden. That was immensely gratifying...and pretty tasty too.
On Thanksgiving Day I ran the 10k Turkey Trot in Detroit, before the big parade. That was my first official 10k; there were 20,000 people in the races (there was also a 1 mile and a 5k). Nearly 8000 people ran the 10k. That was also the biggest race I have been in and it was pretty cool running with a lot of people. In every other race I've done I've run alone for stretches of the course; in this one I was surrounded by a lot of people every step of the way. I met my goal of 60 minutes, finishing in 60:05. And I did it without any idea of my progress during the race. I never saw a single mile marker (complaint #2) and so never had any idea of my pace. Complaint #1 is that people did not respect the starting corrals so you had walkers starting with the faster runners and getting in the way, people with baby joggers not going in the back of the corral as required, and even a group of people carrying a float that took up a lane or more right at the starting line, which slowed everyone. It was still a great experience though and I plan to do it again next year.
Although I am disappointed that I was not in a single posted picture. I was in costume, having found a pair of leopard print spandex pants to match my skort in the costume shop after Halloween and a full face cat mask.
Last Sunday I had to have an emergency plumber visit for a large water leak in the basement. I was having visions of having to pull out the bathtub and two floors to get it fixed; the plumber walked downstairs, never even looked at where the water was dripping and - I am not exaggerating - in 1 second said "it's your ice maker". Sure enough, the water line to the refrigerator had a hole in it; he replaced the hose and was gone in less than 20 minutes. Everything is now dry and no more leaks can be found.
Last week I had several go-arounds with the high school administration. They expelled my son for "making a bomb threat"...except he never made a threat. Well, they said, he didn't really violate any rules but we're not comfortable letting him back in school and we had to write it up somehow (meaning we're afraid some parent will sue us if we let him back in and if you try we will find some other way to get rid of him). So, they said, have him take his classes online through this program and you can apply to the board next year to let him come back (meaning after everyone has had the rest of the year to forget about what he didn't do). Except that the online program costs $4000 and the school district will not pay for it.
So, I said, it took you 3 weeks to figure this out? 3 weeks of telling us you are filling out the applications, yada yada yada, and then you tell me oh by the way it is all your cost, here is the web site so go take care of it all yourself? I asked to see the formal program description, which details how the program is run, who is eligible, etc. Oh, they say, we don't have anything written down, maybe we should. You think? So they don't have the program formalized but they "know" beyond a doubt that he is not eligible for the district to cover the cost. And, of course, this is the only program they will accept to transfer back into the school next year (although it isn't written down anywhere of course, they just "know"). Gee, I wish I had the ability to just "know" everything too.
Some people just shouldn't be allowed to reproduce.
Instead I have decided to home school him. I found an online high school program for him to follow and we will supplement with community college classes as an early admit student. He will end up with a home school diploma once he meets the State's subject requirements and won't be going back to the high school next year.
I picked up my new running shoes Friday. I'm a bit disappointed that my old ones did not last longer, but these are a half size bigger and fit better. I'm glad they came in early enough for me to break them in before my race on the 11th.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
In lieu of having a skeleton in my closet I have the story of The Red Fox.
Last night while doing laundry my son and I had a "discussion" about whether he gets to keep an old souvenir t-shirt. I got it for him a few years ago when we went to Big Stone Gap, VA. Their claim to fame is an outdoor theater where each summer they put on The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, which is now the official Virginia State Outdoor Drama.
The play is based on the book by John Fox, Jr. in the early 1900s and which was quite famous in its day. It was made into a silent movie in 1916 and redone in 1936 with Henry Fonda and Fred MacMurray. The book is historical fiction, based on events that took place in and around Big Stone Gap, which was also the author's home. The story is about a feud between 2 families in the Appalachian Mountains.
The important part here is one of the characters, Dr. M.B. Taylor, otherwise known as the Red Fox. A minor character in the story but important nonetheless. Taylor was a faith healer and a "revenuer" in the employ of the government, hunting down moonshiners. He was ideally suited for that role as he traveled constantly throughout the Appalachians as a healer and had the opportunity to find the moonshiners and stills.
In the book, and in real life, there was an ambush of one family as they were traveling somewhere, and several members were killed including a woman and teenagers. The family that was ambushed had, the story goes, been plotting to have the Red Fox killed because he was a very effective revenuer; they offered to pay a "hit man" $300 to kill the Red Fox.
According to the story/history the Red Fox learned of this and decided to pre-empt the hit by ambushing the Mullins family as they took a load of shine into town. The Red Fox and his compatriots opened fire from behind some boulders and killed most of the party. One of the survivors said she identified all the gunmen from hearing their voices, and after a number of days the Red Fox was captured. He stood trial, was convicted and sentenced to hang.
He wore a white suit to his execution. On October 27, 1893 he was escorted to the scaffolding where he preached his own funeral, and was then hung by the neck until dead. At least according to official history.
Except it didn't really happen. The Red Fox was my great-great-grandfather (or maybe it is 3 greats, I can't remember). According to family history he was cut down from the rope before he was dead and placed in his coffin, which was taken to his home. He was then smuggled out of VA across the border into eastern Kentucky where my Dad's family is from (and many of whom were and are moonshiners, including my great-uncle who hedged his bets by running shine as the Sheriff).
There is a museum in Big Stone Gap, much of which is concerned with that period of it's history. It was pretty indescribable to go into a museum and see your ancestor's pictures and life history hanging on the wall. And then to drive half an hour to visit family who have the same pictures and more in the photo albums and to know a little piece of history has immortalized one's family tree (however infamously).
My family bias aside it is a pretty good play so if you are ever in the area (northwest VA more or less) I recommend going.
Monday, November 14, 2011
I just registered for the annual Turkey Trot in Detroit, on Thanksgiving Day. Apparently this is a huge deal, they cut off registrations at 20,000 participants.
There are 3 races, the Mashed Potato Mile, The Stuffing Strut 5k and the Turkey Trot 10k. Costumes are encouraged. I registered for the Turkey Trot.
Because there are so many people they are having starting corrals this year. This is they first large race I've been in so I've never used a corral. The corrals, apparently, have names:
Comet (5-8 minute/mile pace); Blitzen (8-9:30); Dasher (9:30-11); Prancer (11+); Rudolph (walkers)
The website doesn't really explain exactly how to choose a corral. I expect to run an average pace of 9:45 over the total distance based on previous runs, which makes me Dasher. But I start out at a Blitzen pace for the first few miles.
So am I supposed to choose the reindeer based on how I will start so I am not trampling others who start slower and risk getting trampled myself (Comet & Blitzen start together & I will be at the slower end of the range)? Or choose the reindeer based on my total overall average pace and go for the trampling others option? With that many runners will it be really crowded for most of the distance or will we just sort of space ourselves out after the first bit of distance? If my costume includes a faux weapon can I use that to clear my path?
OK, I was just kidding about that last question.
I had to choose in order to register so I signed up as Blitzen. I figure I can unofficially attach myself to someone to pace off of when we start as I will run faster if I'm running "with" someone. And by the time I start to slow down into the Dasher pace the crowded will have eased somewhat. I'm hoping my assumptions are correct, but if needed I can probably just re-assign myself and go to the Dasher corral.
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