Wednesday, July 12, 2017

End Game?

I have been following (or partly following) this week's emerging and expanding news accounts of the "involvement" of the Russians in our last election.  But today I find myself asking, "What is the end game of these investigations and hearings?"  If the actions of Mr. Trump and/or his associates was prosecutably criminal, then that may lead down the path of impeachment.  Even if it is demonstrated that Mr. Trump succeeded in the 2016 election "because of" Russian involvement, I cannot envision a situation where the election results would be nullified and the office given to Mrs. Clinton.  

But what if the sum of these actions does not rise to the level of criminality?  What if the actions of Mr. Trump's surrogates and associates was merely (merely?) reprehensible and morally outrageous?  At that point (full disclosure=I believe that we have already crossed that line), I think that the Republican leadership needs to disavow Mr. Trump and cut him adrift.  That may be a difficult political choice, but I know that I am watching to see what happens over the next few weeks.  If the Republican leadership continues to allow Mr. Trump to hijack the Party, then I, for one, will be looking for a new political home.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The High Road Pledge

A call to all candidates in 2018 and 2020 elections (and to the people who may or may not vote for them):

It has become increasingly clear that the political parties, elected representatives, and candidates are unable to police themselves when it comes to civility and respect in public discourse.  When our current President can behave like the worst 2nd grade playground bully and no "leader" in his party will call out his behavior as unacceptable, then perhaps it is time for the majority of Americans who are not blindly committed to a particular party or individual to call for change.

I wonder what might happen if candidates in the next two election cycles--2018 and 2020--would take a pledge like the one below and if the voters, media outlets, and debate hosters would hold them to the pledge?  Perhaps a pledge like this:

I [Candidate Name] commit that I will run a campaign of integrity that will be marked by debate on the issues, not personal attacks.  That will focus on why my ideas are good for America, and not on why my opponents' are not.  That will be driven by a desire to create the best America for the next generation, and not for the short-term benefit of the privileged few.  That will pursue common ground, and not seek to divide.  That will tell the truth, and not shade the facts for my own political advancement.

I will respect my opponents, and by respecting them, I will respect those whose votes we all hope to win.  I will respect my opponents, and by respecting them I will be able to provide leadership for all of my constituents--not just those who voted for me.  I will respect my opponents, and by respecting them I will never need to look in the mirror (or my grandchildrens' eyes) and be disgraced or embarrassed.

I ask the media, please do not accept any advertisements from my campaign, or from anyone else on my behalf, that denigrate or disrespect my opponents.  No one who engages in personal attacks against my opponents speaks for me.  I ask those who host debates or town halls; if, in the heat of the battle, I engage in personal or disrespectful attacks against my opponents--turn off my microphone.

Rest assured, I am in this race to win, but not to win at all costs.  I affirm that there are values that are more important than winning an election and I will not sacrifice those values for my own political success.

Signed: [Candidate]

Those of us who are disgusted and disheartened by what we see today in the realm of public discourse, and who do not wish to pass on to our children and grandchildren the country that we are becoming, we cannot merely throw our hands in the air and lament the sad current state of affairs.  We must make our voices heard.  We must write.  We must speak out.  We must vote.  And in the midst, we must not stoop to the level of discourse being modeled in Washington D.C. and in many statehouses across this grand and glorious country.  The possibilities for America's future are worth striving for.

Because if we do not, the light of hope grows dim.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

59 Weeks -- Reality Check 2017 #1

After about seven months of focused training, this weekend is the first of several tests of whether the training has made a difference--and what difference it has made.  This weekend the Frisco Superdrome hosts the 2017 Track Masters Regional Championships and I will be riding the 500, the 2k Pursuit, and the Match Sprint.  These are the same events that I will be doing at the National Championships in late June.

I confess to being a bit nervous.  I know that I have been working hard--in fact, I do not know that my body could have held up under harder training.  I have lost a lot of weight and re-balanced body fat and muscle down to about 15% body fat.  I have upgraded my equipment to the stiffest and fastest that I have ever ridden.  Now I just need to put it all together--and not fret.

After all, racing is not my day job and it is supposed to be a hobby that I am doing for fun.  We'll see how it goes and maybe I can reflect on this first test.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

59 Weeks -- The Clock Doesn't Lie or Care What You Want to Hear

For those who are both optimists and have a good imagination, when faced with a big goal or project it is tempting to see everything related to the task or project through a certain lens--usually one of how I would like things to be and not necessarily how things actually are.  Well, for the 59 Weeks project, this weekend will be a time to take off any reality-skewing lenses and see reality.  And it has me a bit nervous.

A couple of principles that drive my life are:
}Esse Quam Videri:
To be rather than to seem to be
}The Stockdale Paradox:
You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties.
AND at the same time…

You must confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

These principles reflect my desire to live authentically and to experience an authentic reality--whether it is hopeful or disappointing; easy or difficult; fully engaging or slogging through what needs to be done.

This weekend is the Alkek Omnium, a track race at my local velodrome here in Houston.  There are six events total and two of them are the events that fall within the boundaries of 59 Weeks--the 500m Time Trial and the 2,000m Pursuit.  I will be racing these events against the clock this weekend. There will not be any room for "how did it feel?" or "do I think I did OK?"  Instead there will be a number associated with each event.  That number will not be influenced by how I feel or what I would like the number to be.  It will be what it is--nothing more and nothing less.  And my fear is that the number will be far from my objective--perhaps very far.  Therein would lie the challenge.

But while I am a bit nervous, I am also looking forward to getting real numbers that will tell me where I am now in my performance and how far that is from where I want to be.  I want to face the most brutal facts of my current reality--whatever they may be.  Only then will I be able to work with my coach to gauge what we need to do to work from this weekend's numbers to the numbers that I want to ride in Los Angeles at the end of 59 Weeks.  I have set a target for sub-38 seconds in the 500 and 2:35 or so for the 2k Pursuit.  This weekend will show me where I really stand--not just where I hope to stand.

Monday, August 29, 2016

59 Weeks -- Would-Be Weekend Warrior to World Championships

In mid-October of 2017, the Master's World Championships in track cycling will be held in Carson, California (by Los Angeles).  I want to be there.  To race.  To ride as fast as my much-better-trained-by-then legs and heart will drive me.  And I want to do well.

There.  I wrote it in public.  It is out there for the world to see--or at least those few who read my blog.  It is my line in the sand.  And it is a bit scary.  More than a bit daunting.  But also rather flip-flopping in the stomach exciting.

59 weeks is a long time.  Not as long as an elephant's gestation period, but still seems like a long time to me.  At least a long time to have a disciplined, persistent focus on one thing.  Certainly this will not be the "one thing" that I do for the next 59 weeks.  I do have a day job and family and a few friends.  But for the next 59 weeks I want to pursue this task, this activity, this accomplishment, this endeavor, with more discipline, focus, and determination than I can recall applying to any particular task (apart from law school).  Frankly, I hope that I can do this, but I do not know.

59 weeks of focused and directed training.  59 weeks of eating to fuel the training and racing.  59 weeks of consistently being in the weight room.  59 weeks of getting at it day after day after day.

I am certain that there will be days when the last thing that I want to do is another dead lift or to get on the bike for another round of sprint intervals.  There will be days when I just want to sleep in.  Or eat a big piece of cake with ice cream.  Or "just watch."  But this is an opportunity that I do not want to pass up only to regret it later when it truly would be too late.

J.I. Packer drew the contrast between "balconeers" and travelers in Knowing God.  The balconeers sat in safe and comfortable chairs above the clamor and dust of the road below.  The balconeers had a running commentary about how the travelers could improve their journey or travel "better."  The balconeers were experts in all areas of their observations and imaginations--but they never actually went anywhere.  The travelers got tired and dirty and took the occasional wrong turn, but at least they got to experience the journey firsthand.  That is what I want from what remains of my life here on earth--to be in the mix and not on the couch.  And my place to start is the next 59 weeks.

Since moving to Houston I have been fortunate to be able to race with the NWCC (Northwest Cycling Club) Race Team and with some friendly and encouraging teammates.  A few of us are targeting the 2017 Master's Worlds and it will be great to have some other travelers to share the journey with.