Wednesday, January 28, 2009

25 Random Things About Me...

From the FaceBook Ap of the same name...

1. I like ellipses....a lot...

2. I love the way it feels when I'm on my bike and in a paceline and everyone is clicking through the gears and the hammer's down. Pure poetry.

3. I miss the sea. A lot. I often want to just get up early and go watch a sunrise. I just recently shared this with my 11 yo daughter, and she wants to go. Game on.

4. I love that my daughter is my constant companion and is always up for ANY adventure, even when Mom is not. The mundane becomes interesting and the interesting becomes incredible.

5. I get a lot of support from my men's Bible group. It's a place where I go to be real and to get grounded. When Shakespeare wrote, "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers" he could have been talking about these guys.

6. My mom is the toughest person I know. Don't laugh. She could still kick your ass, too.

7. I really like to read. Most nights I need to read to fall asleep. I'm still nowhere near the reader my wife is. But, I read every word.

8. I correct the grammar in books. Including library books. I figure if you're going to the library, and taking the time to check the book out, you might appreciate a correction more than the next person. My Mother-in-Law does this too, and it's one of the things I respect about her. I haven't proofread this entry.

9. I get seasonal affective disorder. Sometimes it's worse than others. Sunlight and exercise help a great deal.

10. I want to travel more. I don't want to wait to do it.

11. One of my favorite memories of my dad is when I was running track in high school. I looked up and he was unexpectedly there, standing by the railing, yelling my name.

12. I actually like my job. It sounds weird, but a lot of days I wake up and I'm thankful, not just to have a job, but to have this job, and to be working with the people there.

13. I survived cancer and getting hit and run over by a pickup the same month. Two years later I still wake up every day and thank God for the time I have had.

14. I went to Belarus (former Soviet Union, but still very much like the old USSR...even has a KGB) to build a swingset for orphans. I went because I thought I could help them. They helped me far more, and still do.

15. My favorite snack food is pretzels.

16. I used to hate yams and avocadoes. Now I would buy them in bulk, if I could...

17. I am a good cook. I don't say that to brag, but because I believe everyone should be good at something, and that's what I am good at. I don't order risotto at a restaurant because it's never as good as mine.

18. When I think of my childhood, I remember my mom's chicken dinner. It's still one of the things i like to cook, and I hope someday my daughter looks back and appreciates my cooking as much as I do my own mothers...and that she remembers the smells, and how they made her feel.

19. I hate that Kurt Enck is older than me and still faster in triathlons. And that i have been unable to train since November.

20. I was a teacher. I still miss the kids. The parents? Not so much...

21. Sometimes I worry about the world in which my daughter is being raised. Then, I am alternately hopeful because she is a part of it. That having been said, I am more optimistic about the general state of affairs than I have been in eight years.

22. I don't watch television much. I like talking about television even less.

23. When I was a kid, my brother and I painted our neighbor's lawn blue, just because it was fun. Sometimes I miss that about him....and me.

24. I like jazz and the blues, but don't know (m)any other people who do.

25. I love Pennsylvania because we have all four seasons and they are well-balanced. The changes always catch me a little off-guard, no matter how much i anticipate them. I like that.

26. I always try to exceed expectations.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Stand By Me

"When the night has come
"And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me..."

---Ben E. King

I thought I had heard Ben E. King's Stand By Me, a song I loved from the very first time I heard it, enough times that it had entered that realm where there was no way to experience it anew. Then I saw/heard this:

Hail to the Chief

"I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit."

---John F. Kennedy

My friend John found this one...very cool.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Superior Surfing...

It looks easy, like surfing, but surfing is hard too.

---George Eads

I thought I had seen everything, until I saw a NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE on the surfers of Lake Superior. Check out the photos HERE. I won't pass judgement on these guys, as I have biked in weather like this. I will, however, leave you with this, from the article:

“It’s warmer in the water,” said Markus Barsch, 21, a tree trimmer from Ashland, Wis., and one of a dozen surfers who had shown up to shred on a 20-degree day.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Die, Eagles, Die...

"If at first you don't succeed, failure may be your style."

--Quentin Crisp

If I didn't expect to have my heart ripped out through my navel every year at this time, I wouldn't be an Eagles fan. Luckily, they never fail to disappoint by always failing to disappoint. And so, I want to say an extra special THANK YOU to the Eagles this year, for reviving a dead season to give me hope, by storming back in the NFC Championship game to make me actually BELIEVE we had a shot at it this year, and for finally crushing my dream like an inconsequential bug underfoot.

The Miracle of St. Anthony

"There's no school like the old school."

--From The Incredibles

Coach Bob Hurley is old school. Very old school. The kind of hard-nosed high school basketball coaches that prowled the floors of gymnasiums back when that word was still used. Coach Hurley is hard because he has to be hard. He coaches basketball in Jersey City, New Jersey, a place so desolate and downtrodden that terms like opportunity and college may as well be a foreign language. Except where Coach Hurley is concerned.

This is the story of a season of St. Anthony basketball, but more that that, it is the story of a coach who still coaches to excellence, who screams and yells and even swears at his players, who coaches what some of us may still remember as "the right way". He does these things for two reasons.

First, as becomes readily apparent in the book, he doesn't know any other way. He was just as hard, harder even, on his sons Danny and Bobby, both of whom went on to play college ball at the highest levels, Bobby going pro before an accident ended that dream. And his players respond.

His players respond because, second, Coach Hurley is the way he is because he cares. He says in the book that a coach who stops yelling at you is the one who shouldn't coach, because what he's said is that he no longer cares, or no longer sees you as capable of learning or improving.

I won't go into the particulars of the book, or the season it covers. I will say, this is not only one of the best sports books I have read in a long time, it is one of the best books I have read. Period. Read it if you want to be moved, challenged or inspired, or if, like me, you want to remember that one coach who never quit on you and inspired you to never quit on him. Mine was Coach Conaway. Thanks, Coach.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Moment of Gloating

"I gloat! Hear me gloat!"

--Rudyard Kipling

Sorry. I tried. I mean, seriously. I tried. And I was soooooooooooo close to NOT gloating. But then I started thinking about The New-York-Wizard-of-Oz-Football-Giants: No heart, no brain, no courage. And frankly, I just couldn't stop myself. What do you say about a team where the star receiver would rather shoot himself in the leg the leg than face the Eagles defense? Not that I would want to face them, but I'm not getting paid $10 Million dollars a year to play football either.

The defending SuperBowl champs went from Chic to Geek to Meek in less than a week, bowing out in absolutely craptacular fashion. The first half had me a little worried, with the Giants controlling much of the tempo, and the only thing keeping the Eagles in the game being a couple of defensive stands. Then there was third-and-twenty. That's sixty feet. That's more real estate than Madoff had. Fold Donald Trump's combover into thirds and you get 63 feet--which is exactly what the Eagles picked up. You could sense it in the sellout crowd, that formerly raucous group of rip-their-heads-off Giants fans who wanted both blood and destruction. They sensed it. They KNEW it! Something was amiss in the Big Apple. Up until that point, I was nervous. But the way the Beloved Birds marched down the field allowed me to peek through my hands, which were covering my eyes, allowed me to peek through just enough to see past the horror and into the light...and it was good.

The halftime adjustment involved Andy Reid saying he was going to eat a couple of Giants' players, while Tom Coughlin's plan was a little more complex. It seemed to hover between folding the whole tent show up quicker than a bunch of carnies who just had an accident on the ferris wheel and deciding who wanted to go home more: The Giants defense, who, in spite of a safety for intentional grounding in the first half, couldn't add a single sack to their season-leading 40+ quarterback crunches. Or was it Eli manning, who just started throwing the ball to Eagles defenders in a desperate attempt to get home more quickly? Or John Carney, who couldn't hit the ocean if he was kicking from the rocks off Montauk. Or was it the Giants entire O-line who couldn't gain 14" inches in two plays on fourth down. It's hard to say.

So, the Eagles are flying high, once again one game away from the SuperBowl, while the Giants, who took the trip last year can only lick their wounds, measure out twenty yards again and again, and wonder what could have been. But, all is not lost, my friends.

At least T.O. is bringing the popcorn!!!!!!

Take a Moment....If Only a Moment

"Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old."


I received this e-mail and checked it via Snopes. It's true.

A man sat at a metro station in Washington D.C. and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. Three minutes went by and a middle-aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and, without stopping, continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The person who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tugged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk at their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

The violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written on a violin worth 3.5 million dollars. Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the metro station, was organized by the Washington Post (They call it "Pearls Before Swine" but I suspect the inherent arrogance of that headline would have been changed if the person writing it was one of those unwittingly exposed to Joshua playing in the subway. And I am equally sure I would have walked by, as well) as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

I'll leave it you to draw your own conclusions.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Build a Squid

No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea.

---Jacques Yves Cousteau

Perhaps not, Jacques, but TJ showed me this website, which allows you to CREATE YOUR OWN SQUID. And that's pretty darned cool, if you ask me. Mine's name is QWERTY....

I Love Yams

'Cogito ergo spud'
[I think, therefore I yam]

--Herb Caen

When I was a kid, I hated yams. They looked icky, their consistency scared me (paste-like is how I described them) and I didn't like the smell.

Fast-forward 35 years (I made up my mind around age 7, for those of you doing the math at home) and I have to say I love yams. Delicious, wholesome and warming, like a tuberous comfort-food filled with yummy goodness. I don't think I have ever been so wrong about a food.

Little Fish Turns 11!!!!

Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.

---Elizabeth Stone

It's amazing to me that my daughter turned 11 yesterday. Mrs. Fish and I were reminiscing about all the old stories we have of her, but frankly they didn't seem, in my mind, like old stories. It seems like only yesterday she was born and the put her under the French-fry warmer and cried until I spoke to her. Life changes in amazing ways after the birth of a child (don't worry, I am not going to go into all of that here) and most of it, frankly, is for the better.

I continue to be impressed by the person my daughter is becoming. Strong, self-assured, imaginative and inquisitive, she exudes a confidence I didn't have at twice her age. She is focused on loving people and God, about things like justice and living right. The strength of her character continues to grow and I so proud of my Little Fish. Happy Birthday.

I laughed. I cried.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

One Word

“Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.”

1. Where is your cell phone? Counter
2. Your significant other? J.
3. Your job? Headhunter
4. Shoes you're wearing? None
5. Your father? Pop-Pop!
6. Your favorite thing? Riding
7. Your dream last night? Nihilistic
8. Your favorite drink? Water
9. Your dream/goal? Goodness
10. The room you're in? Kitchen
11. Your fear? Ineptitude
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Here
13. Where were you last night? Out (JEEZ MA!!!!!)
14. What you're not? Awake
15. Muffins? Blueberry
16. One of your wish list items? Cervelo
17. Where did you grow up? JOISEY!!!!
18. The last thing you did? Coffee
19. What are you wearing? Jeans
20. Your TV? Minimalist
21. Your pet? Murphy!
22. Your computer? Conduit
23. Your life? Blessed
24. Your mood? Nuetral
25. Missing someone? No
26. Your car? 238,000
27. Something you're not wearing? This:

28. Favorite Store? Books
29. Your summer? Relaxing
30. Your favorite color? Green
31. Last time you laughed? Now
32. Last time you cried? Dunno
33. Who will/would re-post this? FishMagic

A) Bicycling
B) Sleep
C) Aldersgate
D) Meineke


A) Daughter
B) Clients
C) Wife
D) Spammers


A) Seafood
B) Soup
C) Pasta
D) Cheesecake


A) Italy
B) Ireland
C) Riding
D) "Adventuring"

Happy Holidays...

"How are you today?"
"Better get a bucket...."
---Monty Python

I, for one, am happy the holidays are over. I've eaten too much, probably drank too much, definitely worked out too little and I can't remember the last time I ate so much dessert. Cookies, cakes, ice cream--you name it. I'm glad too be going back to a routine, to be getting my "normal" life back, whatever that might look like.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Cold Ride

I went for my first ride of the New Year. It was a cold and windy day, about 29 without the windchill, of the sort that Alaska Jill would consider a mild and balmy day, I am sure. Still, somewhere around mile 13 I became aware of my toes and the cold that was permeating them.

Around mile 26, I stopped being aware of my toes, which is perhaps not the best thing. When I got home, I could barely feel them, except to know they were REALLY cold. The entire ride was 37 miles, and I discovered that was a little ambitious after my long layoff, especially in this weather. Still, it was good to get out.

My upper body and legs stayed remarkably warm. I wore insulated tights on my legs and layers on my torso: Base layer, shirt, long-sleeved shirt, semi-insulated shirt, insulated vest and Mango the Windbreaker. It was just right, but a little tight. I also wore a fleece balaclava ($8.99 at Target a couple of years ago--nice bargain!) on my head and face and it was just right. Pearl Izumi insulated gloves rounded out the ensemble.

The only thing I would change is to get some warmer socks. And, of course to be in better shape.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy New Year....

...not sure why, but this song has been stuck in my head for two weeks. I'm going to post it here in the hopes it purges itself (and is not replaced by We Built This City).