Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Dogs Are Loose: 2

A little more than a year ago we wrote about allegations of blood doping against Lance Armstrong. Just about two weeks ago two more riders on his team -- one currently still employed by Discovery and wishing to remain anonymous, the other the retired Frankie Andreu -- claimed that they used EPO in 1999 prior to Armstrong's first Tour de France victory. Both are and were domestiques who felt they needed this to do their job which is to help the boss win the race. Armstrong denies the allegations -- as he always does -- but now we can add two more of his former teammates to a very besmirched list that includes this year's disgraced TdF winner, Floyd Landis and Olympic gold medalist Tyler Hamilton. We mentioned in '05 that we want to believe Armstrong, but it gets harder with each revelation and it gets harder to take cycling seriously as a sport given that it appears that many of the pros dope. It's quite disappointing really -- but unsurprising.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Traffic "Flow"

Being employed as a contractor compels one to follow the money. In the case of the author, the money trails leads 40 miles from the home field. That translates into an 80 miles round trip in pursuit of gainful employment. This distance is covered on roads neither scenic nor calm but rather on some of the nastiest, most miserable highways on the Eastern Seaboard. The traffic is atrocious, the driving of fellow wayfarers even worse (if there is something worse than "atrocious") and the ability to predict conditions nearly impossible. The Massachusetts State Police call the section of highway that we drive each and every work day "The Banzai Pipeline." Enough said.

The time spent on these highways, often sitting, sometimes hurtling in a mad dash for any sliver of open road, has provided ample opportunity to ponder the phenomenon of traffic. Certain phenomena that amaze, yet never delight, on a daily basis are:

  1. The evolution of the left hand lane as a 45 MPH travel lane.
  2. When approaching major right hand merges/exits with other highways the left hand lane stops dead, yet the lanes between the merge/exit continue to flow unimpeded.
  3. Mere taps of breaks at the head of a line of traffic can cause a multi-mile ripple effect throughout the traffic stream that effectively stops traffic behind the point of the initial slowdown, leaving people behind the offenders stuck in a jam long after the perpetrator is home, enjoying a cocktail. These are the jams that mysteriously disappear at some random point on the road.
  4. People must slow to watch a cop take a speeder's licence and registration, or watch people exchange papers after a fender bender thus causing the aforementioned ripple effect.
  5. There is nothing like the setting sun to surprise people at nearly the same spot, and the same time every day. "I came around the corner and the sun was in my eyes so I jammed on the breaks . . . "
  6. Hitting the breaks to slow down while going up a hill.
  7. This is specific to the Commonwealth of Mass, but, there is nothing like cleaning out storm drains, replacing guard rails and trimming trees along the highway during the morning drive to snarl traffic.
Without a doubt, the commute from the 'burbs to the job, whether in the city or in another 'burb has been the biggest challenge and adjustment over the past two years. Never, would we have thought that we would miss the A-Train out of Brooklyn. All of the quality of life changes that we anticipated by moving out of the city, into the 'burbs have either not materialized, or been mitigated by the commute. It is something that was unexpected, and still being processed, and perhaps the thing that most make us question our move.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

"The people are better"

Yesterday morning while walking Child 1 into pre-school we paused before a small memorial outside of a nearby church that had printed sheets with the name of each person killed on September 11, 2001, and where they died. Child 1 asked us what all the names were for. We replied that many people were hurt on this day, and those are the people who were hurt.

Walking into pre-school today, the lists were down, and the memorial gone. Child 1 commented "the other morning there were signs outside of people who got hurt, and today they are gone because the people are better." We commented, eyes misting over at the sentiment and the beautiful innocence, that yes, that may be the case. We hope that today, all of the souls of those lost, and the souls of those left behind are resting a bit easier after a day of intense, national reflection and prayer.

Monday, September 11, 2006

In Memoriam

A year ago, on this day, September 11, we posted much material to commemorate the 4th anniversary of the attacks that took the lives of 2,996 innocents. This year, the fifth anniversary of this horrific event we will commemorate the anniversary in a quieter way.

  • Our thoughts and prayers go out this day, and every day, but especially this one, for all those killed 5 years ago, and also for their families and friends. May your grief lessen with time, your wounds ache less and may you find solace in the happy memories of your loved ones.
  • Despite the passage of time this wound on the American heart, psyche and soul is still very raw -- the hurt, anger, and sadness of that day do not dwell far below the surface. Just when we think that Americans are beginning to forget, this day dawns and brings it all back to us, and that, though painful, is a good thing. We need to remember this every day, and remember all who perished.
  • While much is made of the buildings, and the site, and the city and the Geo-politics surrounding this day, this is a human story, writ large. The Every Man as embodied by tycoons, and firemen and dishwashers was murdered five years ago, today. While so much surrounding this event is complex and immense, it pales in comparison to the staggering human dimension of September 11 and the fact that the stories that families tell and retell will shape generations to come.
  • The brave men and women of our armed forces stand in harms way today, pray for their safe return.
  • This September 11 broke as crystalline as it did five years ago.
  • Never forget. Never surrender.

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Return

It's been a tumultuous year since last posting to this blog -- the birth of a second child has a way of limiting the amount of time that one spends navel-gazing on the web. However, with nearly a year's gap between posts we are feeling the urge to publish again. Perhaps it's the change of season, and the fact that short days and long nights will soon become the norm in the North East. Maybe, it's the fact that around this time each year, for at least the last 5, we feel the need to sound off, to make ourselves heard, regardless of how few will actually read or interact with our posting about what we consider to be the signal event of the last 50 years in the life of our country -- the attacks and murders of our fellow countrymen on September 11, 2001.

Amid all of the ratings-grubbing, maudlin, and politicized coverage that undoubtedly will mark the fifth anniversary of this attack we should look through the soft focus videography, and block out the surging violins to understand that this anniversary is the result of a cowardly and unprovoked attack. As much as defeatists and appeasers, both domestic and foreign may want to blame the U.S. these attacks and their harvest of widows, orphans and children-buried-by -parents lie squarely at the feet of fascistic Muslims who wish to dwell in the 14 Century and wish that we would do the same.

There is nothing in the normal course of international events that justifies the type of attack perpetrated on September 11, 2001. We certainly never went looking for this type of trouble; we never asked to be engaged as we are in the Middle East -- despite what the punditocracy would have you believe. We are fighting a war of ideas here, and it is a hot war. Bullets are flying, people are dying and the stakes are incredibly high -- the survival of western culture, liberty and freedom do depend on this conflict.

This is not hyperbole. The governments of Western Europe are cowed by their giant, restive Muslim populations and have completely withdrawn from this engagement. Their fear leads to their continuous denigration of U.S. efforts. This appeasement -- coupled with negative Euro birth rates -- will lead to the inevitable submersion of Western European culture beneath a Muslim sea. America really is the last redoubt of freedom and truly liberal Western thought in this world. We owe it to ourselves, to our heritage and not least of all to the victims of Muslim Terrorism to stand up to fascistic, Muslim dreams of a world wide caliphate. We need to wage this war to its end and we must fight it to win whether that victory comes five, ten or fifteen years from now.