A semi-daily chronicle of my life as a musician, a family man, and a citizen of Oregon.

Dec 7, 2009

Thanksgiving '09

For Thanksgiving this year we spent the evening with Jen's sister Annie, her boyfriend Chris, and his mom Rhonda.  We had a great meal, we brought salmon for me and made mashed potatoes, apple pie, green bean casserole, and we brought hummus and crackers.  Annie took care of the turkey, which was gigantic, and made pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, and salad.  I'm sure there was more, but that's what I can remember right now.  The kids enjoyed themselves and it was great for everyone to have a chance to hang out.


The next day we went to Fort Stevens for some yurt camping.  We brought along Annie's daughter Jasmine and Andrew's friend Frank.  The first night we got ourselves warm in the yurt and watched a movie.  Saturday we went swimming at the Astoria Aquatic Center and the kids played a lot of tag with glowsticks we bought them.  Sunday we went to the Peter Iresdale shipwreck and stopped by the outlet mall at Seaside.  We had a great time and the kids did a great job.


The yurts typically have a set of bunk beds and a futon.  The kids slept on the bunk beds and we tried the futon.  Turns out that because of the way it gets folded up it had a huge ridge down the middle that made it impossible to sleep on.  The second night we folded it into a couch and slept a lot better.

Nov 21, 2009

Maybell and Jack Fashion Week

Today we got little hoodies for Jack and Maybell.  You may be one of those people who think "I'd never put my dog in clothes".  If so, to you I say "Lighten up.  My dog has a pink sweater.  It's cute and hilarious."

Nov 9, 2009

Flight to Orlando

I'm on the plane now - headed to an Agile Conference in Orlando Florida.  I left first thing in the morning, and the trip started off, well, not so good.  When Jen was dropping me off on the tarmac some hick in a huge truck who was dropping off his mom got upset at Jen and I for taking too long to say goodbye.  Jen and the redneck got into a verbal altercation, and I thought Jen was going to take his head off. 

Turns out his mom was right behind me in the ticketing line.  It was going to be awkward.  I went ahead and acknowledged it by saying something like "well, I'm glad that didn't get out of control".

She said "I know, he was very angry with you."

Unable to resist the urge, I said "It must be wonderful to have raised a boy who knows so much about how everything in life should work".  Luckily, she was good-natured about it.

"I know!  That's exactly how he is!"  She said.


This morning I was teasing Jen that since I'd be flying all day (I boarded my first plane at 9:35a and will land at around 5:30p Portland time) I should just go ahead and start drinking to make the whole thing fly by.  It's the kind of teasing I do to acknowledge the fact that what we worry about when our spouse goes on business trips is that they will have fun as party animals every night while we're stuck at home.

Unfortunately, the guy on the plane next to me for my flight to Dallas had exactly this strategy.  He smelled of alcohol, presumably from the night before when he later confessed that he had gone to the "titty bar".  He had two cranberry and vodkas during the flight.  He was incredibly good looking with perfectly straight, white teeth.  This was a professional necessity since he's a dental equipment salesman.  Despite the fact that I have so little in common with a dental equipment salesman from Houston, we had a long conversation throughout the flight.  This was an example of a time during which I was a "good listener" - a term used for people who let people who like to talk talk without interrupting them.  Good listener == back conversation ender.


Dallas Fort Worth is huge, but I made it to my connecting flight and here I am on the plane waiting for Orlando.  This flight has been far less eventful. 

Nov 1, 2009

Non-Working Sundays

I've gotten into a terrible habit of working over the weekend during the last few months and I'm trying to break myself of it.  Originally I was just trying to get a jump on the week but unfortunately I started to add work into that time-slot and as time went on it just ended up being a way that I could increase the time I had available to work.  Well, no more.

The only problem is that since I decided to stop working during the weekends I feel guilty Sunday nights, when I feel like I should be panicking.  So I've decided that instead I'm going to try to get into the habit of updating the blog and keeping in touch with my friends & family.

In terms of running I'm trying something a little different now.  My friend Adam let me borrow a book called Daniels' Running Formula.  Prior to this I'd been doing training off of Hal Higdon's website, but I'd like to increase my speed and I wasn't finding that simply jumping up from Novice programs to intermediate programs was really doing anything for me.  What I really hated was the speedwork in the Higdon program.

The great thing about the Daniels book is that he talks a lot about the physiological aspects of running, such as how the body systems respond to different training and why runners do different kinds of training.  He explains some running concepts that someone like me, who came to running as an adult, wouldn't have had an opportunity to learn.

With the help of the book I've identified that the purpose of my training now should be to be to build a base of weekly mileage that will help me get my cardiovascular systems improved and avoid injury later down the line when I start doing more challenging workouts.  At the moment I'm running about 16 miles per week.  I run 5 times a week, with a long run of 4 miles on Sunday and 3 mile runs Tues, Wed, Thurs, and Sat.  I'll be doing this for the next two weeks, after which I'll increase my mileage.  I've started to suss out my plan here if you're interested.

As far as Halloween goes the kids were both with their other parents this weekend so yesterday Jen and I headed down to the beach to have a date night.  We brought our new/old little dog Jack along with us and he was absolutely adorable on the beach - so cute.


We decided to spoil the dogs and picked up a bounty for them at Petco on the way home.  I am now officially the kind of person who has a dog that needs a coat.  And I don't care at all.

Aug 7, 2009

Wedding Playlist

One of the details I could really get excited about during Wedding planning was the playlist for the reception.  We didn't hire a DJ - I wanted each song to be selected by hand and for the order to be carefully planned exactly to my specifications.  For the reception itself I rented a PA system and hooked up a laptop to the console.  My brother Dan ran the PA during the event and did an awesome job - we didn't have even one squeal and the music sounded great for the whole time.

As with all things, the reality of the "dancing" part of the reception wasn't quite what I envisioned.  My friends are a little more reserved and didn't all participate to the extent I thought they would.  For the first few songs it was pretty much Jen and I plus a lot of kids.  Also, the playlist is kind of long and we didn't quite get through the whole thing.  Overall, I'm really proud of this playlist and its importance to us and our relationship.

Here's the playlist:

Song # Song Title Artist Purpose
1 Sweet Darlin' She & Him Perfect first song - fun and makes me feel like I do w/ Jen.
2 Say Hey (I Love You) Michael Franti & Spearhead Fun new song that's about love and great to dance to.
3 La La Love You The Pixies Jen's request - a favorite love song
4 In Case We Die Architecture in Helsinki Fun up-tempo dance song
5 Lloyd I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken Camera Obscura Nostalgic dance song
6 U-Mass The Pixies Get it rockin'
7 My Doorbell The White Stripes Keep it rockin'
8 I Feel It All Feist Easy to dance to, slowing things down
9 Love and Some Verses Iron & Wine Slow dance and extremely romantic
10 Sweetie Josh Rouse Jen and I used to listen to this song all the time.  Has the lyric "We'll sleep on rooftops/We'll ride on Bicycles/Honey, we'll get married/Don't you want to sweetie?"  Seems perfect for us.
11 Oregon Girl Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin I always tell Jen this is my song about her
12 Never Had Nobody Like You M. Ward Love song from M. Ward
13 Idioteque Radiohead At least one Radiohead song
14 Expectations Belle & Sebastian For a year I had this as the wake-up music on my alarm.  We used to wake up to it every day.
15 Sweet Sweetheart Killer Say Hi To Your Mom Fun dance song
16 1020 AM Spoon When we were very first together Jen and I used to stay up late listening to this song.
17 I'm the Man Who Loves You Wilco A song from me to Jen.
18 O' Valencia The Decemberists A favorite of the kids'
19 Absolutely Cuckoo The Magnetic Tapes Funny song - give people a break from dancing
20 LTWTMS The Trouble with Sweeney Groovy 70's sounding rock song
21 Mr. Tough Yo La Tengo Fun silly song to dance to
22 Simple X Andrew Bird This song makes me want to move every time I hear it.
23 Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye AMFM Slow-dance song, cover of a Leonard Cohen song.
24 No One's Gonna Love You Band Of Horses Slow song, one of Jen's favorites
25 1234 Feist Pick things up a bit
26 Letter to Memphis The Pixies Rocking Pixies song, very romantic
27 Big Time Sensuality Bjork Sexy dance song
28 All My Friends LCD Soundsystem Up-tempo dance song for all my friends at the wedding
29 Chinese Translation M. Ward A little buddhist wisdom from one of my favorite artists
30 She's Losing It Belle & Sebastian Another favorite of Jen and mine from the past
31 The Navajo Know The Pixies One of my favorite Pixies songs
32 Eyes on the Prize M. Ward Great romantic love song for Jen.
33 Here Comes Your Man The Pixies Jen's song for me (her "Oregon Girl")

Jul 28, 2009

Eat your heart, everyone else - I'm on vacation

I'm writing from the house we've rented on Devil's Lake in Lincoln City.

Map image

We've been vacationing  after the wedding before our big honeymoon trip with my brother Dan, his wife Kacie, and their children Bethany(10), Brynlee (3), and Kaitlynn (2), who are all adorable. Yesterday I went on a long canoe ride around Devil's Lake with Dan, Brynlee, Andrew, and Katie while Kacie, Jen, Brianna and Bethany went for a horse ride on the beach in Pacific City.  I'll write more about the horse ride later when I get the pictures - lots to tell.  During the canoe trip we found an awesome playground on Devil's Lake where the kids could play.  It has a really cool wooden structure with all kinds of nooks, crannies, tires, and so on for the kids to run around and have fun on.  The little girls loved it.

Fun stats from the trip:

30 Times (so far) Andrew has played "Under the Bridge" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers on his guitar, which my brother Dan just taught him
7 Miles we paddled around Devil's Lake yesterday
2 (about to be 3) Views of the movie "Coraline" during the trip
3 Meals consisting of left-over wedding food (I'm still loving Salmon, beans, corn on the cob, and cornbread)
4 Times Andrew has asked me whether or not we can rent a Jet Ski
4 Times I told Andrew no
9:30 Average time I've been waking up in the morning
At least 5 pounds gained so far on my part
2 Guitars brought along on the trip
3 Times we had to stop on the way here to fix the canoe from slipping around on the roof of our car (we finally resolved the root cause thanks to Dan)
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 The numbers I can say with Katie to get her to give me a kiss
1 renewed birth control prescription - no coincidence

May 24, 2009

Brianna's Birthday Party

This year we had an at-home birthday party, complete with sleep over.  Brianna had a great time and we had lots of friends over.  On the list of events we had:


Three ships and a mermaid:


A cake walk:

A pinata:


Presents, and of course, the cake.

And here's a great pic of the kids all watching a movie at the end of the night.

May 3, 2009

Canvassing for Portland School Board

Today I donated some time in the afternoon to canvass for Scott Bailey, who is running for Portland Public School board, in the Westmoreland area of SE Portland.  This was in relation to the work I've been doing for Stand for Children.  I was actually on the committee that interviewed and then subsequently endorsed Scott.  It's been a pretty cool experience just to see this whole side of the process occur from beginning to end.
Canvassing is an inherently difficult task.  First off, almost everybody whose door you knock on thinks you're trying to sell them something.  It's amazing how many folks are closed off to what I was talking about before I ever opened my mouth. I know that I've been the same way in my life and I know there's some sort of karma at work there, although to my credit I remember being very excited when the last canvasser for Obama came to my door and the guy being a little taken aback by our enthusiasm.
It's been years since I've gone door to door for any candidate, and I was reminded that if nothing else an afternoon spent canvassing will reveal some pretty interesting stories. For example, some of the interesting stories from today:

  • Elderly gentlemen who answered the door in his bath robe and boxer shorts.  There was gape-age.  I averted my eyes as I offered a flyer.
  • After I got through my spiel a gentlemen in his forties asks me if I noticed the "No Solicitors" sign by his front door.  The following exchange occurs -
Homeowner: "See here?  It says no solicitors."
Me: "Well, I'm not selling anything.  I just want to share some information about the school board election."
Homeowner: "I am apolitical."
Me: "It's a non-partisan election"
Homeowner: "Get off my porch, jackass".
Door shuts.
Me (to self): "I'm going to mark you as hostile." (in a TAKE THAT manner)
  • Lady starts shaking her head back and forth almost as soon as I start speaking.  She interrupts me to say "No."  I just barely got in "I'm here about the school board election" as she shut the door.
This is definitely the kind of thing that I see as a challenge for myself - way outside of my comfort zone - but I'm glad I did it.  I don't know if I could ever run for an office knowing how many doors I'd have to knock on in order to do so, but I'm proud of myself for getting out there to do it.
Oh, and also... if you live in Portland, vote for Scott Bailey for Portland School Board.  (Along with Martin Gonzalez and Trudy Sargent).

May 2, 2009

Andrew's Fencing Classes


Andrew has been taking fencing lessons for almost a year now.  He's now taking classes twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays and he's gotten quite into it.  He goes to the Studio of American Fencing with his friend Frank, and it seems to be a sport he can really get into.  No surprise - it involves swords! 

Mar 26, 2009

Wii Fit

We finally bought a Wii fit.  More accurately we finally saw fit to expend the enormous amount of energy and resourcefulness needed to locate a Wii fit to buy.  After calling 4 Best Buys and 5 Targets I finally located a Wii Fit at the mall.  Nothing taps into my American consumerism more directly than scarcity.    I realized as I worked through this process that there are truly very few instances in my life when I want to buy something and can't go do so almost at will.

The kids love the game(s), which I'm really glad about.  I wasn't really sure that they would be into a game that is pretty much based on exercise but luckily they are.  If nothing else, Andrew and I keep going back and forth on who can set the highest score on the balance games. 

And nothing is quite as funny as watching someone else play a game on Wii fit.

Mar 20, 2009

Dry, Itchy, Watery Eyes

My eyes have been bugging me for a couple of weeks now.  I think it's mostly because of the incredible amount of laptop and reading time I've been putting in, but especially recently I've been getting headaches and my eyes have been feeling puffy and dry. 

Today I finally broke down and went to see the optometrist.  Turns out I'm far-sighted, and I have astigmatism in both eyes.  I had been prescribed glasses about 10 years ago but stopped wearing them because I didn't like the frames (which made me look like an old lady).  Looks like since that time my eyes have gotten worse.  The doctor said I will need "progressive" lenses soon - which is really a code word for bifocals.  Blech.

In the meantime Jen helped me pick out some cool non-grandma frames and I'm very much looking forward to my glasses coming in so that I can see better and get rid of these headaches.  Here's a picture of the new glasses.  The ones I'm getting are this shape but have a cool kind of wrought-iron look thing going on. 

Mar 15, 2009

What you can expect from your job

I had a job interview about 6 months ago that I've been thinking about lately.  During the interview, the interviewer wrote the following six phrases on the whiteboard:

  • Challenging work
  • Proximity to home
  • Good money
  • Fun, exciting coworkers
  • Opportunity to advance
  • Reasonable hours

He then proceeded to explain that in his experience it was reasonable to expect that in any job you can expect to get at least three of the items in the list.  He said that if you only have two, you can do better and you should find a new job.  If you have four you're doing well.  If you have more than 4 you should never, ever quit.  Do all you can to retire from that place.

Most people, though, can only get three items from the list. He then asked me which three I thought were the most important.

Lately I've been thinking that I'm probably in the top half of the list. 

Some of you reading this are my coworkers and I can say with 100% certainty that if I work with you you're the exception to the rule when it comes to that fourth item.  It's all the OTHER people.  You know what I'm talking about. ;)

I haven't been that optimistic about item 5.  I'm trying, but it's been slow going.  Option 6 is out of the question for the foreseeable future.

How do you think your current job ranks (assuming you have one)?  Leave a comment.

Mar 13, 2009

A dog park I can visit

I have a great dog, Maybell.  She's a German Shepard mutt of some sort that we got at the humane society about four years ago.  When we first got her she had a lot of behavior problems.  We've worked with her quite a bit over the last few years and she's gotten much better and has become a really close member of our family.  As I type this she's laying right here next to me, the picture of tranquility and obedience.

There are only a couple of issues we just haven't been able to work through.  The first is her aggression towards veterinarians.  She hates them.  It's like she knows how much they're overcharging me. 

She'll be friendly and warm to them when she firsts sees them but as soon as they start to poke and prod a line gets crossed that she doesn't like.  We've been through about three vets, the last of which was a vet that does home visits.  When he visited last time he casually commented "A dog doesn't necessarily need a rabies shot every single year.  Lots of times you can even skip a year.  It might even be better if we just kind of avoided visits unless there's a big problem".  Message received - I don't want to do this any more than I have to.

The other problem we haven't had terrible success in resolving is her desire to play rough with other canines at the local dog park.  She doesn't mean harm to other dogs, but she is aggressive in her play and it's caused some very uncomfortable interactions with my fellow Portland dog owners.  Usually the problems relate to other dog owners who are either a little too "Hey, it's ok.  They're dogs!  They love this kind of thing!" or "Oh my god!  My baby! My baby!  You terrible brute and your dog!"  Either extreme is not good.

So here's my proposal, Portland.  Let's open a jerk dog park.  Let's take one of the dog parks we already have and just acknowledge that all of the jerk dogs, like mine, can go there and play just as roughly as they want without the need for fear or shame on the part of any dog owner.  Your dog is playing too rough?  No problem.  I'll just walk to the other side of the park.  I get it, your dog is a jerk.  So's mine.  We're all good.

Mar 10, 2009

M. Ward March 8th at the Aladdin

photo credit: vassego in Washinton, DC 2/21/09

I went to see M.Ward March 8th at the Aladdin theater here in beautiful Portland with my friends Chris and Audry.  The opening band was Port O'Brien, who I really enjoyed.  Port O'Brien plays a whole lot of guitar.  In particular the lead guitar player was playing a reverbed Rickenbacker that sounded incredible.  The singer has a kind of Neil Young / Kurt Cobain screamy nasally thing going on that I quite enjoyed.  They had a female banjo player, but I couldn't really hear the banjo too much.  In all they were quite enjoyable and I plan on picking up their newest record.

M.Ward was incredible.  He played quite a bit off his new album but also mixed in quite a few songs from Post War for those of us who hadn't quite caught up with him yet on Hold Time.  One of the best things about M.Ward was the total groove he laid down, whether it be by himself or with the band.  I was really impressed how he could sing with the acoustic guitarists laying down the chords but still come off so tightly in his phrasing and musicality.  Quite impressive.

Of course, he has an incredible voice that's just one of those things he's blessed with, and he used it to great effect.  His songs are sensitive and thoughtful, and I loved the way he put arrangements together.  He's also a far better guitar player than I had anticipated.  He did a great instrumental guitar song that showed off his Bakersfield style Buck Owens skills quite nicely.  It was very impressive.

He must be a pretty shy person because the lighting was very dark.  For the most part he was in a blue shadow and not very visible.  He had a really cool lighting effect of a window pane on the back curtain.  As the concert went on the window went from showing a day scene to a beautiful night with lightning bugs flying around back to morning orange sunrise for the encore.  It was really cool.

I loved the concert - definitely one of the best I've seen in a while.  Can't wait to get the new record.

Mar 9, 2009

Random Updates


Work has been on the very busy side since changing jobs last December.  I've joined a new project at the electric company (same place I've been) that's installing all of those automated meters you may have been hearing about from Barack Obama and others.  The ones we're installing will communicate two ways (the meter giving us readings and us sending the meters info) and a good portion will support remote disconnection/reconnection.  It's a huge project, much bigger dollar-wise than the web projects I'd been working on for the last few years.  It also has a lot of implications for how different facets of the company's core business run.

The project had been going for more than a year so quite a few things are already kicked off and some phases have completed.  I've been put in charge of Software Requirements, IT Quality Assurance, and Release Management.  This all falls in with the work we've been doing and I've been advocating to transition from a waterfall style of software development to a more agile method. 

What this means for me right now is that we're implementing new processes and while I have a broad responsibility. I didn't join the project with a team to support me in these roles, but it's more of an initiative and change that I'm advocating and leading.  For the last few months I've been a part-time Business Analyst, a part-time program-level planner, and a part-time politician and cheerleader for the changes we're implementing. 

Slowly the team is taking shape.  I now have two Business Analysts (BA) on board, as well as a QA lead.  I probably still need at least one more BA and perhaps another QA person.  The folks I've brought on are transitioning out of their current roles which creates some bandwidth for me so that I don't have to on-board everyone at once.  The time commitment should start to let up over the next few months and then things will settle back down to a more normal pace.

What this has meant in practicality is running very close to maximum capacity work-wise.  Working every weekend going back since December, long days during the week, and a whole lot of understanding required from my family.  They've been great, but the situation is untenable over the long-run and I very much need to focus on transitioning some responsibilities.  I've already exhausted all of the "work smarter not harder" and time-management techniques - right now I just need more bodies - capable, smart, self-motivated bodies - who can lend a hand.


Wedding planning is ongoing.  We're taking a new tact, doing the kind of planning I might do for a project.  Jen and I have identified the logistics (mostly stuff we need), roles, clothes, and script for the ceremony itself.  We've also identified reception information including food , decorations, logistics (again "stuff"), and setting items (mostly stuff to do to the yard).  Next we need to tackle the Honeymoon and activities around the time we're spending with my brother Dan's family.

After we've finished identifying all of the different stuff that we need we'll need to come up with a list of what we have to do in order to get every item done and then create a schedule for how to fit all of the items in so that we're not trying to do everything at once.  We'll also create estimates for how much everything will cost and begin procuring items.


With everything going on at work I've had a really hard time fitting in both riding my bike to work (which I love doing) as well as runs.  Late last week I came to the conclusion (highly related to the "work" section above) that I needed to get back into the running habit.  I've been feeling funky and grumpy and kind of put-upon and a lot of it has to do with not getting out there and sweating.  There's a huge amount of calm I get from running that I just don't get out of biking.  The relationship for me between running and biking is like eating a great satisfying meal versus eating desert.  Desert is fun, but the great meal keeps me going.  I started running again on Friday and ran 8 miles today.

I've also started the two hundred situps program.  I've always sucked at sit-ups so that would be a good next thing to tackle I think.  My first exhaustion test had me doing eighty crunches, which was a lot more that I thought I could do, but still paltry compared to Jen's 135.  She's a mah-cheen.

Feb 22, 2009

Andrew Bird at the Roseland

Photo credit: gussifer (this is actually a picture of the show the night before at the fillmore in san francisco)

Last night's Andrew Bird concert was the best I've seen in a long time, which is saying something because I've made it to my share of shows recently.  Anyone familiar with Andrew Bird's style of performance has an idea of how this might go, and if you aren't just plug his name into youtube and you can get a pretty good idea.  AB loops bits of music - many times starting with a plucked pizzicato violin part, could be for four bars or sometimes 8 or 16, and then begins layering on all kinds of accompaniment, including whistling, hand claps, vocals, bowed violin parts, etc until a song emerges.  He's perfected the art of doing this in such a way that at a certain part of all these loops the song just kind of snaps together.

Loney Dear, a band from Sweden, opened the show.  This wasn't the kind of show where you're blown away because everyone is so good.  AB definitely was the part that will stick in my mind.  Loney Dear had a couple of flavors of indie-pop, the acoustic/plaintive/quirky kind of song (which I generally like a lot) and the overwrought epic (which I generally do not) loaded with keyboards.  They were fairly inventive in their stage show, singing off mic or conducting sing-alongs (generally a risky move when you're the unbilled opener) which were quite enjoyable.  Overall though, I won't be buying the album.

When AB finally came out he played mostly songs off of his new album Noble Beast.  I do have this album, although I haven't had a chance to get into it as much as I might like (due to my newfound obsession with The National).  My unfamiliarity hardly mattered, though, as AB's infectious excitement over the new material sold the songs and the melodies flawlessly.  He is one of those performers who puts heart and soul into what he does.  The concert reminded me of the aspects of music that go back for centuries, as a cross between a religious service and a communal gathering.  If I hadn't bought his album already I definitely would have after this show.  In fact, I recommend you do so as well.

The one slight criticism I'd have of the show is that AB is perhaps just a wee bit bored of playing material off of Armchair Apocrypha, his last full album.  I say this because on some of those songs he was loose or inventive with the melodies and their rhythms in a way that kind of detracts from the original song.  For instance, one of the best things about the song "imitosis" is the syncopated rhythm of the vocals in the verse, and when they're stretched and stylized they lose some punch.

But this is a small trifle in an overall great performance.  I loved it and I can't wait to see him again.

Feb 8, 2009

Presidential Day Rally for Schools - February 16th 2009

Many of you follow my updates on twitter and Facebook and are therefor aware that Jen gave me her terrible cold.  This one is a real pain in the butt, and I'm still in the part where I feel worse each day rather than better.  Despite all this, tonight I'm braving my way through the haze of Kleenex and Nyquil to let you know about a really important event coming up on February 16th at the Salem state capital to support public school funding in Oregon.

There are many aspects of the funding picture that just don't add up for Oregon schools.  Did you know that the Oregon school year is shorter than any of its surrounding states?  In Portland the school day is the shortest of any district in Oregon.

The Governor's proposed budget for this biennium falls $199 million dollars short of the essential budget level for 2009 - 2011, which is the amount needed just to keep funding at its current levels.  But the governor's budget was proposed before the latest economic news was issued by the Oregon State Economist's office and is now seen as an optimistic proposal in Salem.  The schools are facing a short-fall for this year, which means they won't be able to pay their bills for the 2008-2009 school year without further cuts.

Oregon's children don't vote or write checks for campaigns (and can't drive themselves to the rally).  That's why it's so important that we get a great turnout at our Monday February 16th President's day rally to demand adequate funding for our schools and other programs.

If we want our legislators to stand up for our kids we need to show them that they have support when the going gets tough.  And the going has gotten tough.  If you'd like more information about the rally please email me at dave dot worth at gmail dot com, or sign up directly at http://stand.org/or/rally.  We even have buses coming directly from Portland schools to get you there! 

Jan 24, 2009

A canceled Marathon and the plan for moving forward

I can't believe I haven't updated the blog in all this time, but I think it's probably related a bit to the fact that the Marathon I'd been getting ready for during most of last year was canceled and Jen and I couldn't run it.  We had a freak set of snow storms right around Christmas here in the northwest.  The Marathon that we had signed up for was the Olympia Christmas Marathon, which was scheduled for just a couple of days before Christmas.

Once we got a foot and a half or so of snow here in Portland Jen and I started to feel worried.  We would check the Marathon website incessantly, waiting for the bad news that finally appeared on the Friday before the Marathon.  The Marathon had been postponed for a week.

Even without the snow storm I was worried about the Marathon, since the whole experience was so new for me.  The training is kind of weird because you do these super long runs getting ready for the race, including a 20 mile run that I completed a couple of weeks before the race.  Then the schedule tells you to do a taper, where you drastically reduce the miles you're running leading up to the race.  At the time I finished the twenty miler I was feeling relatively confident, but as the miles eased up and I was having some trouble with my hip I was feeling less and less sure of my ability to do the race.

I tried to take the extra week of training in stride, but since this was my first marathon I began to feel more and more nervous.  Unfortunately, it was all for naught because the snow kept coming, and not melting, so much so that the Marathon was eventually canceled.  Jen and I ended up going to the bed and breakfast we had reserved anyhow, and it was a nice mini-vacation, but definitely a let down.

On the bright side, because I wasn't putting so many miles in I was able to start riding my bike to work again, which is a really great thing for my mental health.  Jen and I decided that we'll run the 15k Shamrock run in March, which we began training for.  As part of this training I'm incorporating some speed work, which is super hard, but I am starting to notice an improvement in my time already. 

During the marathon training I started using a tool called mapmyrun.com to track my mileage and training.  One of the features of mapmyrun is the ability to update my twitter feed with workout information. Since my twitter is set to update my facebook page, the workout information would show up there as well.  Since the marathon training was over I went ahead and turned this feature off, figuring that it this point it felt pretty narcissistic to let everyone know every time I went for a run. 

Narcissistic or not, though, I noticed that I was a lot less motivated to do the runs & etc without the updates on.  After a brief hiatus I went ahead and turned the updates back on.  Hopefully my followers on twitter & friends on facebook don't find this too annoying.  Think of it as your way of supporting me, because I do get a lot of motivation and support from the great comments I receive. 

And yes, we will be running a marathon... it looks like instead of being in Olympia during December, my first marathon will be on Sauvie Island on July 4th.  If all goes according to plan, our second marathon will be the Portland Marathon in September.