Saturday, December 28, 2019

One Season at a Time

Today is December 28, 2019, and for the first time since we've been married, I just now finished our Christmas cards. I've always gotten them out before the holiday. However, this year has been a doozy.

2019 has not necessarily been a bad year, although I am ready to kick it to the curb. There have, like any year, been some great parts and some terrible parts. In a job like mine, you can assume there are bad parts that I can't talk about publicly because I value hurt children's privacy, even if you will never know them. There have been some other parts that have challenged me in ways I wasn't anticipating.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Race Report: NY Freaking C Marathon


As you know, I got into the NYC Marathon by lottery in 2018. It was exhilarating to have gotten in! And then... well, then 2018 happened, and I spent a lot of time in PT and not running. I didn't actually restart running until January, and rebuilt at a snail's pace, all for the goal of getting to one race: NYC 2019.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Over and Back

I woke up a couple of nights ago and didn't know where I was, when I was supposed to get up or what I was supposed to be doing.

It turned out I was at home and it was a weekend.

By the end of the year, I will have been in 8 countries and 8 states (I think). Most recently, I was in Uganda for a work trip... including my first ever equator crossing!

I landed relatively late at night into the international airport in Entebbe and, after a few calls and some waiting, had a ride to my hotel in Kampala, about 45 minutes no-traffic-at-night drive away. I was picked up at my hotel about 7 hours later for another, albeit very different flight. We pulled up to the dirt airstrip, where my office had made arrangements with Missionary Aviation Fellowship, an international organization that specializes in sending pilots all over the world for just this kind of thing, to fly us out of the city to a new programmatic area of the country. We had to go early as the weather had been rainy, and we had to get back before dark, as neither the airstrips nor the planes had lights.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

What Goes Up...

Three years ago today, I finished the Pikes Peak Ascent and was so high I promised I would do the full marathon.

Two years ago today, I finished the Pikes Peak Marathon.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Who Changes Your Sheets?

It's no secret I travel, quite a lot. I stay in a lot of hotels, and I eat in a lot of restaurants, which means someone else is often making my bed and preparing my food. These people work hard, are on their feet most of the day, and are exposed to environmental hazards that go long with their work.

  • Housekeepers are exposed to harsh chemicals, disease and illness, have to clean bodily fluids, and are frequently targets of sexual harassment, as well as physical and sexual assault  - primarily because the overwhelming majority of the 924,000 people serving in this role according the the US Labor Department's 2018 statistics are women.  For some horrifying case examples, I suggest you read Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky, an excoriating expose on the hotel industry. 
  • Prep cooks face cuts, burns, exposure to toxins, food-borne illness and work in hot kitchens with slick floors, often with poor ventilation. Anthony Bourdain explores these worlds in Kitchen Confidential and Medium Raw, which are good if vulgar, reads. There is something on order of 1.2 million prep cooks in the US.

Interestingly, these two positions, hotel housekeeper and prep cook, have nearly identical average wages: $12.30/hour, according to the US Bureau of Labor (although other sources cite lower average hourly wages).

$12.80 an hour means a gross annual pay of $25,584/year, but only if you work exactly 40 hours a week, all 52 weeks a year. No vacation, no sick days, no time-off to take your child to the doctor or enroll them in school. It also assumes you are 100% on-time, your car never breaks down or the bus is late, you never have to attend a funeral or jury service, and nothing unexpected ever happens on a work day.  This also assumes that you can get scheduled for 40 hours a week, meaning the restaurant is never slow on a Monday or the hotel has a midweek slump in reservations, or the boss just hired an additional person so everyone's hours get cut by a few.

However, if you are just getting your first job in the industry and you are a new employee, chances are you are making under the average salary.

In sum, it won't take much less than that 40 hours/week for 52 weeks to qualify these full-time restaurant and hotel workers for Medicaid or food stamps, depending on the state you live in and the formula the state uses to determine eligibility (133% percent of the poverty line? 200%? Only if you are pregnant or have children? That determination alone is a cluster that the federal government has basically admitted is totally not clear NOR consistent!)

And you know the overwhelming majority of people in these positions?

Immigrants.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Donkey Deuce

So, I am back to training for another marathon (NYC in November), but this was not a part of my training plan. However, as many of you know, Eric and I have developed something of a tradition when it comes to running with pack animals. Four years ago, we tried our hand (hooves) at at the Donkey Derby, and ended up winning the thing. The trophy is still in our basement. Since then, I've participated in a couple of runs with burros, which were essentially 5Ks with donkeys mixed in.

However, since that first race, Eric has been talking about defending our title.

In the intervening years, it hasn't worked out for one reason or another, to go back to Cripple Creek to see if we still could get lightning to strike twice.

Until this summer.

Donkey Redux.

Monday, July 22, 2019

D*#n You, Hanks

I’m not the most interesting man in the world, and I’m certainly not Walker, Texas Ranger, but I have a relative amount of toughness. I mean:
I’ve run Pikes Peak so many times I have Barr Trail memorized.
I once had to take cover from a gang shooting.
I’ve flown all the way around the world in a single trip. Twice.
I ran a 24 hour trail relay while experiencing listeria.
I’ve had a seven year old show me their tattoo.
I ate ox testicles. Once.
I finished a marathon with a broken femur, torn hamstring and several other injuries, then got on an overseas flight.
I’ve dealt with hundreds of cases of physical and sexual abuse.
I once sent an Emmy winning actress a video she requested that included extremely unflattering commentary about her (unknowingly), then did nothing when I found out about the additions.
I got into a public dispute with an elected official over Facebook and won.

But the new trailer for the Mr. Rogers movie?

Yea, I was a total mess watching that. The moment Daniel Tiger showed up, I was gone.

Damn you, Tom Hanks.

I bet Chuck Norris cried at that preview too.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Flat Earth

So, not too terribly long ago, the parking lot at my work was subject to one of what, in my opinion, may be one of the most interesting visits possible.

I mean, like unicorns, yetis or a selfless politician, I was pretty sure they didn't exit. 

And then, there on the ground in the parking lot, was proof they did.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Except for Snow and Rain and Sleet and Probably Dark of Night

Welcome back to my blog! I know, 2018 wasn't a great blogging year. I traveled to 13 different
countries, broke my butt, worked a million hours, and ended the year with so little energy I couldn't even get out our annual Christmas letter. I also took a significant break from social media, am not sure about getting back on, and changed my name on my account due to some heavy cases I'm working. My butt is fixed, I'm still working a zillion hours, but I get a couple months reprieve on the travel and I've reluctantly agreed to at least post this blog to Facebook, so here goes nothing.

And by "nothing" I mean our postal carrier.