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Tuesday, November 30, 2004


My First Christmas Card

It is always nice to get Christmas cards. I received my first one today. When I saw the return address, I was really fascinated. The postmark read Crawford, Texas. That's right; George W. Bush and his wife Laura sent me the first card of the season.

Oh, I know. I am on some list because I sent a few bucks to the Republican Party. Still it is impressive, at least to me, to get a correspondence from the President.

First Christmas Card

Christmas Card from the White HouseChristmas Card from the White HouseChristmas Card from the White HouseChristmas Card from the White House

Click to view Christmas Card

Christmas cards are the one time I hear from some of my friends and family members in the entire year. In a way, it is sad we only communicate once a year, but on the other hand, at least we do. By the time Christmas rolls around, we have cards taped all over the back of our front door. We get to look at them and enjoy them throughout the season.

In this new world of electronic communication and how wonderful it is, nothing can match the thrill of real mail. The smell of the envelope and the expectations as you open the card are exciting. Is there a letter inside? Is there any cash? Are there photos of our friends? One never knows.

So I am sharing my first card. I hope you get lots of them this year. May they bring nothing but good news of your friends and loved ones, and may they cause you many smiles.

Until the next time
John Strain


Saturday, November 27, 2004


Rain Delay

I awoke this morning to the sound of thunder. Last Saturday I had to run 20 miles rain or shine. It not only rained, but it poured. The water in my shoes simulated leg weights, but I completed it, the last long run of my training. Today, I only have a 5 miler to contend with, so I am allowing the rain to move on before I go outside.

Next Saturday is the day, my final exam. We will see if I can qualify for the Boston Marathon by running the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon in less than 3 hours and 30 minutes. I should be able to do it. I am confident.

I have been playing with some of the style tips at Mandarin Design. They really have some nice style techniques and make it easy for you to incorporate them into your own blog. Check out the table below for my latest requisition from Mandarin.

Notice how the style of running clothes has changed from 1980 to present. That first photo cracks me up.

Running Apparel: A Retrospective
After my first half-marathon, 1980Azalea Trail Run, Mobile, Alabama, 1992Running in the St George Marathon, October 97Running in the St George Marathon, October 97After a nice hot shower at the Napa Valley Marathon, March 04John standing by police car after 5K 9/04
click to enlarge photos

Here's to a great weekend everybody.

Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, November 26, 2004


Tis The Season . . .

Kinky Reindeer
if you like this irreverent Christmas cartoon, then you'll love these.

Moving on to other irreverent Christmas humor, did you read about how Santa would really like to answer his letters? Then read some of them (R rated, hehe)

Are the reindeer that pull Santa's sleigh male or female? You'll find the answer here.

Today is the busiest shopping day of the year. My guess is folks either love today or hate today. I am in the second group. Thank the Lord I get to work. I would rather crawl naked over broken shards of glass than go to a mall today. Still I salute those of you who make the day of it. You are hunters in your own rite, exercising finely honed skills to land the bargain. The Internet has been my savior rescuing me from the former fate.

Have a great day whatever you are doing.

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, November 25, 2004


Happy Thanksgiving


I am thankful for a lot, and especially for you folks who read my words and leave your comments. It is my most sincere hope and prayer that your Thanksgiving Holiday is a good one and that it represents a positive beginning to an even better holiday season.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Denial, Greed, and the WWF NBA

Friday night's NBA brawl has been the topic this week. At the end of the Pacers vs. Pistons game a court scuffle expanded to the stands after a plastic bottle was thrown at a player. In the aftermath, the NBA has thrown one player out for the season and given multi game suspensions to others involved. Police are reviewing the videotapes and interviewing witnesses to make arrests, the NBA Players Union is appealing the punishments, and the airwaves are saturated with discussion about the ugly incident. How could this happen? Why did it happen?

It is not surprising it happened at all if you consider who was involved. NBA players are made up of men age 18 and up. Some are fresh out of high school. They are highly paid and they have learned from experience rules that apply to others do not apply to them.

I have seen it in our own city's recreation league and it is a common thing. Boys who play well get away with bad sportsmanship, arrogance, and bad manners. As the player progresses through school sports, people look the other way at his bad behavior as long as he plays well and wins games for the team.

Grades are fixed, violated rules are not punished, excuses are made, the team wins, and the boy's character suffers more and more. Bad behavior is rewarded with press coverage, complimentary things, and opportunities others rarely have. The coach protects his player the administration sides with the coach and the teachers buckle under. Charges of racism are used to gain cooperation from any teacher or individual trying to hold the boy accountable.

So he sails through school never reaping what he has sown. He learns that winning gains privileges. Rules are for other people and he is special. Our athletes get second, third, fourth, and fifth chances. In my younger days, athletes had the image of being and setting an example, I know they were not perfect, but they tried to project a good image. Today it seems the opposite.

I graduated from college when I was 22, then I went to graduate school until I was 25. After that, I was engaged in doctoral work until I was 33. I worked two jobs or whatever I had to do to make ends meet. I was doing what I wanted to do. My reward was satisfaction of setting a goal and seeing it through. I was being prepared for the work I had chosen. The process helped my character.

By contrast, the blue chip athlete is courted by universities. They visit one school after another and get the red carpet treatment. Once they choose a school, someone greases the path for them through the paper work and registration process. Everything is handled for them. The player's ego is growing at a break neck pace, but they are not learning how to deal with bureaucracy like the other students. They are not learning humility and gratitude like the other students.

A star is born if they continue to play well. They are seen on national television, they fly from city to city where the press seeks audience with them. They get free meals, all expenses paid, and someone takes care of the details.

Then one day they enter the NBA draft, usually without a college degree. They are given millions of dollars to play the game they started as a child. Now they are rubbing shoulders with the world's celebrities. They are celebrities themselves. No matter what the player does, someone excuses it. Crimes are forgiven, rude behavior is overlooked, and bizarre behavior is hailed as individual expression. The monster is now complete. Is it any wonder one of these over-paid, under-educated, under-socialized babies would jump over a table and beat on someone half his size if he felt disrespected?

Our society has created this monster. How do we fix it? A lot of people need to do the right thing. Parents need to mold their children from the beginning. Bad manners and poor sportsmanship must be dealt with at home. Coaches should reinforce the values of team play, sportsmanship, and honor. Schools and other institutions must hold the great player as accountable as any other individual. If all of this is done correctly, the individual will be mature at age 18 and he will govern himself. Rules only work if people observe them.

A backdoor solution is for fans to stop pouring money into the monster machine. Our dollars make all of this possible. If these players had to do something other than basketball, they would be moving furniture or flipping burgers at McDonalds. Oh, I forgot, there is always the Rap Industry.

Self-control is a result of a process beginning in childhood and nurtured until adulthood. It is something we learn. These NBA players have not gone through that process and as a result they still act like spoiled brats.

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, November 23, 2004



I am about ready to make a deal with the devil for one of my teams to win a championship. I must be a jinx, because the team I root for loses 99% of the time. Here are the four teams I pull for:

The Kansas City Royals - Baseball - Last championship 1985
The Kansas City Chiefs - Football - Last championship 1970
The New Orleans Saints - Football - Never won a championship
The Kansas Jayhawks - NCAA Basketball - Last championship 1988

I invest a lot of time and money pulling for these guys and I usually wind up disappointed. I am a fan though and am faithful. Some folks pull for whoever is winning. Each year, they have a new team. I can't do that. There is no glory in such a victory. I know I am not the only person who thinks this way. Boston can't complain anymore, but Chicago can.

The Royals will never win until the baseball owners do something about salary caps. They cannot compete with the large market teams. The Chiefs have been close, but leave me hanging every year. The Saints presently do not disappoint, because they are not even expected to win. The Jayhawks have been in the Final Four 2 of the last 3 years, but have come up short.

As I write this, the Chiefs are about to lose the Monday Night Football game. That is more pain and agony. Each year I just hope the team that is in season can keep up the suspense until the next season begins. The Chiefs are out of the playoffs barring a miracle, but the Jayhawks season is just beginning. College basketball takes me to baseball season. Lately, the Royal's season is over in May. I just have to gut it out until the beginning of football and then it all repeats.

Why do I put myself through it? I cannot control it, but somehow, I must be. Is it what I am wearing or what I am thinnking? What am I doing to cause the bad luck? I wish I knew. It couldn't be the people actually playing the games could it?

Until the next time
Jinx Strain


Monday, November 22, 2004


Fishing In Venice, Louisiana

Photos of the Fishing Trip

John holds a red fishMe and LJ at Cypress Cove MarinaRoy holds a red fish

Map to Venice, LAVenice, Louisiana is almost a three hour drive from my house. The small town is at the end of the road in Louisiana. Highway 23 follows the west bank of the Mississippi River on a narrow sliver of land. People who live this far south in our state are used to evacuating their homes when hurricanes make it to the gulf. We arrived just after dark Saturday night. The Cypress Cove Marina, was our choice for lodging, it is a newer facility complete with a hotel and store. We ate at a local restaurant called Barbara's Place. Over some gumbo and fried seafood, we met our guide, Captain Jesse Parker. Captain Jesse promised us we would catch fish the next day.

After a good night's sleep, we headed for the store where we were to meet Captain Jesse. John and I had to purchase a fishing license. The morning was beautiful. As you can see from the photos, the sky was orange with pre dawn colors. The air was cool and damp and a light fog rested on the waters. I could hear water lapping against the dock, the purr of boat motors warming up, gulls and pelicans squeaking and honking, and voices of expectant fishermen.

As the sky continued its kaleidoscope of red and orange color, we sailed out of the marina and out to the Mississippi River headed for its mouth and open water. The first 15 minutes or so took us through varying degrees of fog concealing and revealing land and other craft. The 130 HP Honda boat motor pushed us quickly through the smooth, glassy water and its hum was hypnotic. We traveled through corridors of cane and passed different structures in the water. Some were for navigational purposes, and some were Oil Company related. We saw every kind of boat from shrimp boats to tankers. Flocks of pelicans flew lazily along the grass that sprouted out of the gulf. In the early morning light the colors were quite vivid and I felt very lucky to be alive and to be seeing such beauty.

Approximately 45 minutes from the marina, Captain Jesse stopped the boat and dropped anchor some 100 feet from an oilrig. This rig was near lock 69. The oilrigs are good places for fishing. They are essentially a man made reef. We fished using open face reels and live shrimp. The technique was to hook a treble hook just behind the shrimp’s horn, cast toward the rig, then raise the bait off the bottom and reel a bit. Hopefully a big red fish or trout is attracted to the activity and bites.

We did well at the rig. I caught all of my fish there, (5 fish - 4 trout and one big red fish.) John and little Roy put Big Roy and me to shame. They caught more than twice what we did.

True Fish Story: The one that got away, but came back.
While fishing at the rig, I hooked a big one. I didn't know how big, because he got away. It is exciting to be holding a fishing pole that is bending in half. He wasn't the kind of fish you just reel in - he was a fighter. Captain Jesse was giving me instructions, “Do this, don't let him do that.” He would laugh, his dry sense of humor was coming out and it was hard to tell what was real advice and what was teasing, but it was fun. The fish headed for the front of the boat and I went with him. Poles were being passed over and around me as I hurried past the others and trying to avoid the anchor rope Captain Jesse warned me about. Then I got hung up in the trolling motor. This fish was going around the boat like a prospective buyer. Still tugging and struggling and hoping, but it became apparent the fish was hung up in the anchor rope. Then the worst feeling of all, the pulling stopped and the lack of tension on my line confirmed the line had broken. "Damn," I said, "I wish I could have at least seen how big he was." The other guys were disappointed too, but that did not stop them from teasing. Guys tease constantly and our good-natured teasing was part of the fun.

After a couple of hours, Captain Jesse announced we were going to another spot, “So pull in your lines.” I said, "I am going to give it one more cast to see if I can catch that big one again." We all laughed at my words, after all, what are the odds of catching the same fish twice? Working the shrimp on the bottom for the last time payed off. I got a hit and I could tell by the pull that I had another big one. This time he headed for the back of the boat. "Don't lose this one," Captain Jesse said rubbing it in and putting some good-natured pressure on me. I reeled and the fish pulled out more line, but the fish finally tired and he was netted. There are emotional moments in the process. The initial hooking of the fish is exciting, and then nervousness sets in, as you don't want to lose the fish. Once you see the fish and it is a big one, you become even more nervous, because you are so close, but there is little satisfaction unless the fish makes it into the boat. When the fish is in the net, there is relief, joy, and pride. This emotional rollercoaster happens quickly and it is a real rush.

Roy caught a bigger red fish later in the day, but this was the biggest one at that point, probably 15 to 20 pounds. As the captain was taking the hook out of the fish, he noticed it had another treble hook in its mouth. It was the same fish that broke my line an hour before. As we left the spot, I felt pretty good. The one that got away came back and I got him.

The weather was beautiful. The early morning ride out to the rig was chilly in the damp, cool 30 mph air. Once stopped, it warmed quickly. The temperature was mid 70's and the sun burned. I have the red face and neck to prove it.

The next spot we fished was around the reeds. The red fish seek shelter in the reeds and one way to get them is to cast up in to them and reel back out. Because we were getting low on shrimp, we switched to lures. I never got another bite, but John and Roy kept reeling them in. They each caught some nice fish. Roy got the biggest red fish.

We eventually got enough fishing in us so we headed home. We were back at the marina by 2:30 PM to make it an 8-hour trip. The boat pulled up to the cleaning station. This area was designed for cleaning fish. There is a nice counter with water to clean the fish and electricity to power the electric fillet knife. The fish were transferred from the boat to a cart, then to the cleaning table.

On the other side of the cleaning table was the water. Pelicans gathered awaiting fish scraps, which were thrown by the fishermen cleaning their catch. Captain Jesse enlisted John to help with the fillet process. The scraps not thrown to the pelicans were piled on the dock. There was a huge pile of fish carcasses, which would later be fed into a grinder and thrown back into the water.

After that, it was back to the truck for the ride home. It was fun and unique for me. I loved being out in the "wild." All in all, we saw turtles, alligators, hawks, pelicans, egrets, fish, and nutria, even cows. Not a bad way for two fathers and two sons to spend a November weekend in south Louisiana.

Until the next time
John Strain


Saturday, November 20, 2004


Honoring A Hero

I attended the funeral of Justin McLeese today. I will write about the details later. For now, I want to share a photo and poem from the funeral flyer. The funeral honored Justin's sacrifice and celebrated his life. It was a day of tears. It was heart wrenching. Please pray for Justin's family as they grieve.
Justin McLeese died in Iraq Nov. 13, 2004 age 19
I'm Free
Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free
I'm following the path God laid for me.
I took His hand when I heard Him call;
I turned my back and left it all.

I could not stay another day,
To laugh, to love, to work or play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way;
I found that place at the close of day.

If my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared a laugh, a kiss;
Ah yes, these things, I too will miss.

Be not burdened with times of sorrow
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life's been full, I savored much;
Good friends, good times, a loved ones touch.

Perhaps my time seems all to brief;
Don't lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your heart and share with me,
God wanted me now, He set me free.

Justin's FuneralJustin's FuneralJustin's Funeral
Click thumbnail for larger view

Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, November 19, 2004



One of the lead news stories this week has been the Monday Night Football promo. Its adult content offended many people and many have weighed in from individuals to institutions such as the NFL and the FCC.

In contrast, I have been writing about people this week who have run marathons with double lung transplants, run races without legs lost in a war, and the death of a local Marine in Iraq. So from my frame of reference, the MNF offense seems petty to say the least. It tells me people have a lot of passion to vent and nowhere to vent it.

I bet you have experienced this same feeling. Think of a time you were in shock or grief over loss of a job or a loved one. Television commercials and sitcoms seem almost irreverent. I am reminded of the song with the lines, "Why does the sun go on shining? Why does the sea rush to shore? Don't they know it's the end of the world, because you don't love me anymore." So part of it is me, I admit. Just because I have been more aware of death and struggle this week does not mean the rest of the world has to be serious. Even without the awareness of loss, however, the MNF "controversy" seems ridiculous. There are charges and counter-charges of everything from too explicit sex to racism. That is just what they were shooting for. It worked too, I did not know a thing about Desperate Housewives until this flap. Hats off to the marketing folks at ABC. And to everyone who was offended and made a stink about it, you were their chumps.

Just in case there are some still offended by the "controversy," I will apologize myself.
I want to express my most sincere apology for anyone offended by the Monday Night Promo. It was in poor taste and (insert your complaint here). I hope this has not caused too much damage to your psyche. I further hope your children and pets were not traumatized beyond the ability to have a meaningful life in the face of these difficult circumstances. -John Strain
In life we need balance. We need to have passion, but for crying out loud, direct it at something that matters. Stop whining like babies every time you see something you do not like. Change the channel or better yet ignore it.

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, November 18, 2004


More About: Where Do We Find Such Men?

All week I have been thinking about our soldiers. The death of our local hero, Justin McLeese, started it all. It is easy to put the war on the back burner of our minds until something like the death of someone you know happens. The high school has lowered its flag to half-staff and Friday the town will honor Justin by attending his funeral.

He is but one of some 1200 who have died in this war. Each death is like a pebble thrown into a pond. The circles flow outward and affect many people. Then there are hundreds more soldiers who have been wounded and changed for life. Some have lost limbs, eyes, or have been disfigured.

I want to share a few stories I found while searching the Internet today. I was looking for stories about Iraqi war veteran amputees who run. I found several items and they are encouraging. Reading the stories again caused my gratitude to well up. These men inspire me and make me proud to be from the same country as they. Their sacrifice was to protect me and to ensure my freedoms. The same spirit that called them to the battlefield is now at work in them to overcome a missing leg. They have shown us that that spirit is enough and they are overcoming daily. Where do we find such men?

Running With the President
The first story is about a man who lives only 40 miles from my home. His name is Mike McNaughton a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army who lost his right leg after stepping on a land mine in Afghanistan. He was visited by The President and Laura Bush at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington DC, January 2003. President Bush promised Mike that when he got better he would run with him. 15 months later in April 2004, President Bush made good on his promise.

Full story in the New Orleans Times Picayune

President George W. Bush runs with Mike McNaughton who lost his right leg after stepping on a land mine in Afghanistan

True Grit Keeps Amputees on the Run in Army Ten-Miler
Missing (Parts) In Action Team - Some Assembly Required

This group of Army amputees call themselves, "Missing (Parts) In Action Team - Some Assembly Required." They all finished the 10 mile race.
It’s important for people to see amputees recovered and back in action,’’ Rozelle said prior to the race start, adding he had no doubts that each would make it across the finish line. The same steely mettle that helped steer them off the battlefield after suffering horrific injuries will carry them through the 10-mile route, Rozelle said.

Read the full story at the Army News Service

Amputee Soldier Fights to Stay Part of Army Elite
21-year-old George Perez lost his leg as a result of an exploding roadside bomb in Iraq. He wants to stay in the Army's 82nd Airborne.
I’m not ready to get out yet," he said. "I’m not going to let this little injury stop me from what I want to do.

Read the full story at the Columbia Daily Tribune

These stories inspire me. These are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. We all have it in us if we ever choose to tap into the power. It is belief and faith followed by consistent effort and action.

God bless these soldiers who have given life and limb. Their sacrifice is not in vain. Their example can rally and inspire us if we only let it do so. Where do we find such men?

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, November 17, 2004


A Death in November

Justin D. McLeese, Killed in Iraq November 13, 2004 age 19

Sunday, we learned that Lance Cpl. Justin McLeese, 19 died in an explosion in Fallujah, Iraq early Saturday. In an instant, the war in Iraq became very personal and real. Justin is the age of my son and both boys graduated in 2003 at Covington High School. They were friends though not best friends and were on the same baseball and football teams growing up.

His death has certainly affected our family. Our heart goes out to Justin and his family and it is impossible to comprehend the measure of the grief they feel.

Justin McLeese was the typical all American boy. He was moved by the 9/11 attacks and, according to his mother, they played a role in his decision to join the Marines.

It is tragic someone so young and so full of life has it cut short. It is an awesome thing these young men are willing to risk and give their lives for their country. I am sure Justin had images in his mind of his Louisiana town, friends, and family. He was fighting for these precious things and on Saturday, November 13, 2004 he gave his life for them.

In James Michener’s book, The Bridges of Toko-Ri, he writes of an officer waiting through the night for the return of planes to a carrier as dawn is coming on, and he asks, ‘Where do we find such men?’ Well, we find them where we’ve always found them. They are the product of the freest society man has ever known. They make a commitment to the military, and they make it freely, because the birthright we share as Americans is worth defending. Ronald Reagan
Where do we find such men? I am here to tell you one was found in Covington Louisiana.

Thank you Justin and all those who put themselves in harm's way to ensure our freedom.

Until the next time
John Strain

Times Picayune Newspaper Article about Justin McLeese

Where do we find such men? A Veterans Day Column by Mackubin Thomas Owens


Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Writer's Block

I have been working harder than usual for blog posts lately. Fortunately, I have silly chimp photos and music to pull me through my creative drought. I have things to write about, but I just don't have the ambition right now.


Enjoy your Tuesday and don't monkey around too much.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, November 15, 2004


Triumph From Tragedy

Saturday, I wrote about Len Geiger who received a double lung transplant two years ago. His new lungs came from a 14-year-old girl who had taken her own life by overdosing on Paxil. Eventually, Len and the girl’s father met and became friends. On Saturday, they ran a marathon together. This article gives all the details up to the completion of the race in Richmond, VA last Saturday.

Some give up and some press on. Something in the human spirit allows us to turn tragedy into triumph, but we have to keep on keeping on. We have to keep going when everything in us says stop or quit. Stories like this one confirm what I know to be true.

If you are up against it, I hope this story encourages you. Len had help from people he did not know and from those he knew and loved. As you read the story, you will also notice, Len helped himself.

Approaching the holiday season many focus on the trappings of the times and miss the meaning altogether. There is reason to hope and there is reason to love and there is reason to reach out to our neighbors, because the same God who fashioned the spirit that triumphed in Len Geiger has placed it in us. We are alive and that is good.

Until the next time
John Strain


Sunday, November 14, 2004


Are You Ready For Some Football?

Chiefs vs. Saints Graphic

Things To Do Today
• Run 16 miles
• Go to the Louisiana Superdome and watch the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Saints
• Consume some alcoholic beverages during the game
• Come home and BBQ some red meat

I think I can handle this.

Until the next time
John Strain


Saturday, November 13, 2004


The Emotional Power of a Marathon

I saw this story today. It is an example of the awesome emotional power a marathon can produce. Running a marathon is almost always more than simply running 26.2 miles.

Click Photo for Caption
Lung Transplant Recipient to Run Marathon

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Two years ago, Len Geiger was near death, suffering from a severe case of genetic emphysema.

On Saturday, Geiger will participate in his first marathon, accompanied by the father of the 14-year-old girl who donated her lungs for the double-lung transplant that saved his life.

Because of the extensive damage to his lower body, Geiger will "race walk" rather than run the course while Kevin Shroyer does a slow jog alongside him. The pace will be laborious and it may take the pair more than six hours to finish, but Shroyer said he doesn't mind.

"When I'm running with him, it's all about us and it's all about Korinne and that's as close as I will ever again come to running with my daughter," Shroyer said. "So I don't mind savoring every minute I'm out there with him." FULL STORY
Remember, our world is full of similar stories of love, accomplishment, and conquering fears. Every now and then it is good for us to step back and take it in. To the Virginia marathoners I say Godspeed.

Over 20 individuals whose lives have been touched by donation and transplantation scheduled to run in either SunTrust Richmond Marathon or NTELOS 8k

Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, November 12, 2004


Name That Tune

Do you remember the show "Name That Tune?" Today, you get to play. I have spliced 5 songs together, about one minute each. See if you can guess the song title and artist.

Song One
Song Two
Song Three
Song Four
Song Five

I hope you enjoyed the game and have a great weekend folks

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, November 11, 2004


Political Ideology

I must confess, I often react to the conflict-oriented media's stories. I should keep in mind that what they report is often an extreme view designed to get reactions from folks like me. The picture they paint is often bleak, extreme, scary, hopeless, baiting, and exaggerated.

This recent political campaign, election, and aftermath are prime examples of the above adjectives. The media could drive the discussion of ideas positively, but they choose to zero in on petty, unimportant things and preside over a "Jerry Springeresque" atmosphere.

When I get angry, I think a lot. I guess it is an effort to put my anger into words. So I have been thinking about all of this election related stuff. Instead of rehashing it and choosing a side, I want to be one who lights a candle rather than curse the darkness. So here goes.

• What is your political ideology?
• What is the political ideology of your political affiliation?

Ideology simply refers to a way of thinking. Republicans and Democrats look at things differently, therefore, they will view issues like healthcare, taxes, and education differently. Discussion has all but ceased because neither side is willing to budge on their ideology. Both parties should come together and work toward a consensus or compromise on these issues. Truth is usually found in-between the two ideologies. Each side has valid points, but neither has a monopoly on the truth.

What is sad to me is when one side accuses the other of being stupid for not agreeing with them. The attacks become personal because of an individual's ideology or way of thinking. Even though the country may be split down the middle, people are scattered all along a continuum of political ideology.

If you would like to have a better understanding of your political ideology, take the test at the Political Compass website. Once you have taken the test and see where you stand, take some time to read about what it all means. I found this to be an interesting exercise. I came out further left than I thought I was.

The next thing I would suggest is to spend some time on the RNC and the http://www.democrats.org/ websites. Read their platforms and learn what each party says about itself.

I believe that all Americans want to be safe, have jobs, have good educational opportunities, and available healthcare. We disagree on how it might look or work, but that is where discussion and working together comes in. They certainly will not happen if we continue to backstab each other.

When I was growing up, I often heard this phrase: "I may not agree with what you say, but I will lay down my life to give you the right to say it." The point is that freedom of speech is more important than what the person is saying. Today, people are shouted down, sued to shut up, and censored by the PC police. Ideas and discussion are essential for growth and innovation. We need to exercise the good manners we were taught by our parents of "the greatest generation."

Who defines whom? Quite often a tactic of today is to pin extreme labels on people who do not believe as you do. If someone is against gay marriage, they are called homophobic. If someone does not agree with a particular educational program, they are called anti-education. This is intellectual dishonesty. The campaign was full of intellectual dishonesty and we, as voters must demand better. Send emails and letters to the offending individuals. Anyway, I want to define myself. I know what I think, feel, and believe better than anyone on the planet. You know what you think, feel, and believe better than anyone on the planet. Therefore, we should listen to each other. There is also agreeing to disagree. Discussion is an ongoing process.

I love my country. The people who live in America are capable of so much. I only wish we could mobilize our resources of talent and unity apart from a crisis. To do so, we would have to stop looking at things in terms of red and blue. Instead of racism, we have shifted the prejudice to party affiliations. We are more alike than different. What we want is more the same than different.

Be the first on your block to open your mind, to exercise tolerance, to listen attentively to an opposing view, and then respectfully express your view. Let's be willing to compromise on things and get a little of what we want instead of nothing we want.

This globe we call earth, has been spinning around for a long time. It will be spinning long after we have returned to the dust. How important are the little things we fight so desperately for each day in comparison? We come and we go. Maybe if we kept this in mind we would place more importance on being civil to our fellow man.

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, November 10, 2004



Last night as I finally sat down to post, I was so tired, I just went to bed. This morning I had to do a 10 miler so I did not write a darn thing.

Tune in again tomorrow,
John Strain


Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Wait Until the Political Correct Police Hear About This

At a cardiologist’s convention in New Orleans, a study was reported that showed a heart medication "BiDil" is more effective in African Americans than it is in white people. Full Story.

This is what I call poetic justice. The PC police usually put form over substance. Yet here we have a seeming politically incorrect idea that is backed up scientifically. For some reason, a drug is more effective on black people than whites. Why? Who knows? What difference does it make? It just works better on blacks.

Graph of drug for blacks

What do you think would have happened if the study were reversed and said the drug better benefits whites than blacks? You can bet the study would have been discredited without examination. The researchers would have been condemned for even thinking in such ways. Racism charges would be hurled about and Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would be on all the news shows playing the victim.

A dangerous fallout of political correctness is to move through life with a closed mind. To learn we must be open to ideas and possibilities, which may not make sense to us at first. Natural laws are not always PC.

Here's to openness and objectivity.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, November 08, 2004


Closing In On A Goal

Lone Runner with dog at sunsetIn September of O3 I decided to get serious about my running again and lose the weight that resulted from inactivity and over indulgence. I signed up for the Napa Valley Marathon in March and ran it, but in 3:57 minutes - my worst marathon time ever. It only served to piss me off. I continued running after Napa, but gained back 5 lbs. In May 03 I weighed 200 lbs. and I was still running too slow for my liking, then I got a coach and a fresh dose of recommitment.

It is important I practice what I preach. Where goals are concerned, I tell people to make their goal public and build in accountability. Making it public is no problem. Just ask any of my friends, I talk about my goal all the time. Something about running, I do a lot of talking about my weight, daily runs, upcoming long runs, etc. I am sure my friends are sick of hearing about my goals, but they usually ask me how it is going. Retaining coaching services covered the accountability angle. I recommend this guy no matter what you want to do. He is a fitness coach. Now in his 60's, he has good credentials and only charges $100 for 12 weeks. Everything is done by email. You can check out his website here: Training2run.com I like his name, Dr. (Mad Dog Mike) Schreiber. You can email him questions and he will answer them for free. This service functions as a test drive. Soon you will want him designing a plan for you. I have sent him two referrals and they both like him – My sister Becky is toiling under his direction.

Once I got the coach and a new revised goal in May, I have not looked back. My goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon. At my age (47) I have to run a marathon in 3:30 or less - that is an 8:01 per mile pace. I have done this before. When I was 40 in 1997, I ran a marathon in 3:24. So, with the help of my coach and a renewed inspiration, I lost 30 lbs. and now weigh 170 lbs. My times have improved substantially. I have been running under 7 minute miles on shorter runs and 7:50 or so on the longer ones. This past Sunday, I ran 18 miles at a 7:49 pace. My last mile was a 7:24.

It has not been a cakewalk. The first Saturday in October, I pulled my left hamstring. I was doing so well then I could not run at all. My coach sent me into the gym to keep up my conditioning on the elliptical / orbital trainer. I worked hard on it to simulate running until I could gradually run again. Now, I think the leg is completely healed and my times have returned.

I have four weeks before my marathon in Baton Rouge - December 4. Two more hard weeks of training, then the taper down phase begins. If I do not make the time, I will run the Mardi Gras Marathon in New Orleans February 27. Shoot, I will run it anyway. I intend to run marathons every chance I get. They are a mental and physical challenge. The training for them helps my overall mental attitude and my clothes fitting nicely.

Someday I will run in the most prestigious marathon in existence - The Boston Marathon. It is only a matter of time.

Until the next time
John Strain


Saturday, November 06, 2004


Bad Joke on a Friend

This is the kind of stuff I like to do, hehehe.

I love the look of shock on the banana guy's face.

Now, who will be my next victim, muahahahaha.
John Strain


Percolating Thoughts

I am still digesting some of my thoughts and feelings about the election and its aftermath. I will soon comment on the continued finger pointing, sour grapes, gloom and doom, name calling, over reacting, and awfulizing. Today, however, I thought I would try to make you laugh by exposing you to a poor SOB who was having problems with his computer. You may have heard this before, if so, it is worth a repeat because it is so funny.

Be forewarned, there are frequent uses of expletives, if that sort of thing offends you. We have all been there; we have all felt the initial panic when we realized our hard drive is toast and we did not have the foresight to back it up.

So put behind you for a minute the backbiting / stabbing of the election and contemplating the demise of life in the United States as we know it and laugh at someone else’s misery. You will come out feeling better, if only for a moment.

Here it is folks, Mr. Steven Thrasher's call to the Canon Help Desk:

Until the next time
John Strain


Friday, November 05, 2004


The Friday Oldie

There is nothing like a positive attitude to get the day started and there is nothing like music to create a positive attitude. Here is one of my favorite oldies

A Beautiful Morning, Young Rascals

I bet you can't tell I just learned how to use the "embed" element in HTML. Let me know if the page loads extra slow. I don't want to bog down browsers.

Have a great weekend folks.

Until the next time
John Strain


Thursday, November 04, 2004


How About Going Back To School

When I conduct group therapy, I often read something to get a discussion going. One such piece is Robert Fulghum's "All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." These words are relevant for all of us, but especially our politicians. In the face of an election decided because people saw moral values important, our leaders can review this. These are lessons they were taught once, but forgotten as evidenced by their public behavior. I wonder how their kindergarten teachers would think of them today and how they would discipline them when they call names, tell lies, and don't say they are sorry? The term, "too big for your britches," comes to mind. When things get out of control, go back to the basics. Mr. Fulghum's words take us there.
All I ever needed to know, I learned in Kindergarten

Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand box at nursery school.

These are the things I learned. Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you are sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some and draw some and paint and sing and dance and play and work everyday.

Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out in the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the plastic cup? The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why. We are like that.

And then remember that book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: LOOK! Everything you need to know is there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation, ecology, and politics and the sane living.

Think of what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about 3 o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or we had a basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and clean up our own messes. And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together. --- Robert Fulghum
It is my hope the Democrats and Republicans find more common ground than not. All it takes is some humility, patience, and a desire to serve the greater good over selfish motivations. It can happen overnight or it could go on as it has been forever. One thing is true, each person has the power to make it happen. It reminds me of the evangelist who instructed the congregation on how to begin a revival. "You take some chalk and draw a circle. Then you get inside the circle and pray for God to send revival to the circle." Instead of pointing fingers at the guy doing it wrong, we should be examples for them to follow. We possess a great power. Will you use yours today?

Until the next time
John Strain


Wednesday, November 03, 2004


A Message from John Kerry

In his own words . . .

. . . or was that Michael Moore.

Our President

George W Bush

What are the chances the country will come together instead of digging deeper in our partisan trenches?

Let us focus on what we have in common more than our differences.

Until the next time
John Strain


Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Happy Election Day: A Celebration of Freedom

Statue of Liberty

Here's to freedom, liberty, and democracy, three wonderful things.

Until the next time
John Strain


Monday, November 01, 2004



Child praying

The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.
Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway~
Thanksgiving comes again!
The year is winding down. Soon it will be Thanksgiving. The holidays will be in full swing. Each year I wonder where it all went. All of the clichés apply: Time goes faster every year.

I was looking at one of those "Today In History" sites. It is interesting to see what took place on this day in other years. For instance:
1512 - Michelangelo’s paintings on the ceiling of Vatican’s Sistine Chapel are first exhibited.
1517 - Martin Luther nails 95 theses at Wittenberg Palace church, marking the beginning of the Reformation in Germany.
1926 - Death of Harry Houdini, magician famed for his escape acts. Born Ehrich Weiss, he named himself after the French magician Robert-Houdin.
2001 - A New York hospital worker with a mysterious case of inhalation anthrax dies, the nation’s fourth fatality in a month of bioterrorism. — VNS/REUTERS/AP
It is humbling to think in terms of history. When we do so, we are less significant. There have been others before us engaged in important tasks and there will be more to follow. We convince ourselves that things that matter so much to us are important. However, history usually relegates our important things to the shelf of insignificance. Many times the profound is not even realized when it happens. It is only when people look back they see it.

Time marches on. We march along with it as far as we can, but it never breaks its stride and we eventually slow down. Another holiday season is upon us and it is a gift. With all of its hassles, commercialism, obligations, and stress - it is a precious gift. You will no doubt look back on the holiday season of 2004 in 20 years and think of it as the "good ol' days." The "now" is all we really have. Take it how it comes and enjoy what you can. Our state of mind determines our level of enjoyment. Our expectations and tolerance have much more to do with determining our satisfaction than we might think.

Do you remember when you were a kid and you could not wait for the holidays? Do you remember as an adult dreading the holidays? The difference is the focus. The child sees the fun and the adult sees the work. Both fun and work are realities of the holiday season, but a balance of the two will ensure we enjoy them. I hate to see so many stressed, frazzled, and unhappy when we are, after all, celebrating the birth of the Light of the world.

This holiday season it is my hope more would see through the eyes of a child and the magic would return for them. It only takes a change of thought and expectation.

Until the next time
John Strain

This was my 500th post.