Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

A Post from the Cave

Yesterday I was innocently working from home when my cell phone rang. The caller ID read “UNAVAILABLE” so I should have known better. But just in case it was someone from the office, I picked up and said hello.

“Hello?” a female voice replied. Then after a moment, “I’m so sorry – I was adjusting my headset! Anyway, I’m calling because you recently stayed at one of our resorts, and we have this offer . . .”

picard-face-palm

Oh, Lord. I let her pitch her absolutely fabulous offer, until she wanted to ask me a few questions. Then I said, “I suppose there’s a timeshare presentation involved in this?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you,” she replied. “Can I ask you a few questions?” I repeated my timeshare suspicion. “Can I ask you a few questions?” she said again.

I hung up. She was a robot, pre-screening before handing me off to a closer. But I have to admit I was fooled for a bit. They are getting better at this. Robot callers even deny they’re robots. Read an example here.

No, totes true dude, I'm a human - beep beep beep - HA HA HA HA- How about them Cubs?

No, totes truly dude, I’m a human – beep beep beep – HA HA HA HA- How about them Cubs?

Which got me thinking (hey, it’s better than working, right?) about the new waves of technology that make virtual reality closer to “real” reality. Video games use the moves of real athletes who were wired up just for that purpose. An increasing number of movies are either partly, or completely, CGI generated. And new VR headsets are coming that will let the wearer participate in some incredible experiences. Say, simulating a mountain bike adventure on your stationary bike, riding a roller coaster from your couch, or even flying like a bird. Click here for details.

I find a kind of odd symmetry here with what else is going on in the world. With the country’s future and the world’s future more uncertain that ever, it’s natural, I suppose, for the visual and tactile boundaries between fantasy and reality to blur as well. How long before we simply sit in chairs all day living entirely in a fantasy world? (Perhaps we are now. Plato suggested that we were.)

platos-cave

Look! I can do a bunny rabbit!

But as we approach our country’s annual day of gratitude and overeating, there are a few things I can be certain of, and count on:

  • I have the love of my family and can count on them supporting me no matter what, and that I would do the same for them.
  • I can count on Skip and the Body Specs crew mashing me into the floor so I can get back up stronger than ever.
  • I can count on pain, blisters, and bruises from running marathons and trail ultramarathons, and that I will treasure each one anyway.
  • Our cats will continue walking on the books we’re trying to read, nagging for food when I’m trying to concentrate, and being an unending source of affection and comic relief. (Screw you and your feline hatred, The Atlantic; cats rule.)
  • I’m certain that people will continue to say to me, “So I was reading your blog the other day…” when I didn’t think they knew I had a blog.

And finally, I’m certain that America will remain the land of the free and the home of the brave, as long as we remain brave enough to stand for what’s right. Our freedom was too hard earned to take for granted or let others try to diminish or take away.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Not So Selfish? And a Perspective on Gratitude

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I’m sure all my running friends put the gear on and went out for a few miles before dinner to get in some healthy exercise and free up some calories for that second piece of pie. I was in downtown Ann Arbor Thursday morning for the Turkey Trot, joining 3,000 people in turkey costumes and ugly sweaters (there was a contest) for a fun, untimed 5K. (A good thing, given it was snowing at race time).

Turkey hunting, 2013: First you make friends, then you invite him over for dinner...

Turkey hunting, 2013: First you make friends with him, then you invite him over for dinner…

Did I mention there was an ugly sweater contest?

I sure hope she won something for that effort.

I sure hope she won something for that effort.

So in my last post, I mentioned that the “baby boom” generation can be accused, with some justification, of being overly self-centered and “wanting it all.” For this particular weekend where we focus on being grateful, here are some examples of the kind of behavior we ought to recognize more often.

 Runner’s World article – Helping Hands Under the Golden Gate Bridge

Ken Hopper, an ironworker in San Francisco, noticed some years ago that a fence at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge was a popular turnaround point for runners. So in 2000 he put up a sign with a painted pair of hands on it, to give the runners ‘something more inspiring’ to touch than a rusty fence. The sign remains there to this day, although it is replaced every few years, and touching “Hopper’s Hands” has become a tradition for area runners. (Click the link above to see photos.)

But Hopper is involved in something else more significant – he is involved in trying to prevent people from suicidal jumps off the bridge – an unfortunately popular activity – and has saved many lives by either talking them down or physically restraining them. So the painted hands have taken on an association with saving lives, as though the hands are reaching out to stop the jumpers.

Running for Charity

Today I signed up for the late December Rock the Clock 5K which supports the Gerad Meteyer Foundation, a volunteer-run charity that supports sending underprivileged diabetic children to summer camp. I didn’t sign up just for that, but it’s nice to know that at least some of my entry fee will go to making other lives better.

Most of the running events I participate in, either as a racer or pacer, support one or more charities. Many marathons provide entries to those who want to run on a charity team. To get the entry you must raise a certain amount of money for that charity. And perhaps the most well-known race in Michigan other than the Detroit Marathon, the Crim Festival of Races was created to support a fitness foundation and has been going strong since 1977.

Quality Digest article: Statistically, How Thankful Should We Be?

This one has no relation to running, but quality improvement is pretty much a part of everything I do (and is my full-time job), so I was pleasantly surprised to see some actual statistics regarding world income levels and the state of poverty. Here are a few highlights. Read the articles for details and graphs (I promise they aren’t too thick-headed.)   Links to articles:   Part 1     Part 2

– Using a “poverty metric” of $1 U.S. dollar per day income, researchers found that the world poverty rate fell by 80 percent from 1970 to 2006, and the total number of poor fell from 403 million to 152 million. Even more impressive considering the world population continues to grow.

– Income inequality is increasing in most countries, but is decreasing overall. In 1970, more people were very poor (i.e. more “equal” in income terms). With fewer people now living in poverty, income inequality has increased. So it’s not necessarily a bad thing. How about that?

– In 2000, an income of $2,138 U.S. dollars put you in the wealthiest half of the world, and $61,000 put you in the top 10 percent.

Are you feeling just a little more grateful after all this? I hope so. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

New AnnArbor.com Post: Hey, Turkey Trotters: Let’s say thanks!

Today, Friday, was cold and gray, and I had to say goodbye to my daughter returning home to Virginia, and then go to work. All of which made me appreciate the day before that much more. It would have been hard to ask for a better day for Thanksgiving than yesterday, and our whole family was together enjoying a great dinner and each other’s company. But there was one event that day that I’d like to single out for some special thanks.

Early Thursday morning, well before the festivities at our house began, I pulled on my running gear and headed out to The Turkey Trot on North Campus. It was a bit chilly, but the sun was coming out and spirits were high. Over 1,600 people, including entire families, turned out for the one mile “Tot Trot” and/or the 5K, and we were treated to a jazz trumpet version of the Star-Spangled Banner just before the race started.

Everything about the race went well. There was plenty of parking, the events started on time, and there was a great turnout. There was even a Santa sighting. (I’m not sure if he ran the race or not.) And it all went so well due to all the preparation and hard work by everyone involved in it. So on this day after we all expressed our thanks for the blessings in our own lives, I’d like to express my gratitude to others for making yesterday’s race so enjoyable.

Thank you to everyone who gave up part of their holiday to volunteer for the event. To those who set everything up before I arrived and took it all back down after I left. To those who stood at the halfway mark holding out cups of water; even though I was running too hard to take one, I still appreciated that you were there in case I needed it. And to the folks who stood at the corners and turns making sure I stayed on the course, thank you too. I was warm enough running, but standing there for at least two hours is something different.

Thank you to the police and security officers who closed the streets and redirected traffic so the runners would be safe. You made it possible for me and others to focus on running a good race or just enjoying ourselves, and that meant a lot.

Thank you to the sponsors who funded the equipment, the food and water, and the services needed for the race, and provided for advertising to get a good turnout. And thanks to everyone who brought food and used shoes to donate, and to those who collected and will distribute the donations. According to the website, proceeds from this year’s race will go to the Wounded Warrior Project.

And a big thank you to Good Boy Events, the race organizers, who planned the event, made it happen, and will put the race proceeds and donations to good use by sponsoring local charities. I cannot imagine the work involved behind the scenes in putting everything together and making it run so smoothly that it seemed effortless. That’s real organization.

Were you there? Did you have a good time? If so, why not send an email to the organizers saying so? Or at the next race you run, say thanks to a volunteer, or a police officer, or the spectators cheering you on. Easy, free, and never fails to bring a smile.

Finally, with all the races I’ve run this year, I decided to give back a little by volunteering to help set up at the Holiday Hustle in Dexter on Dec. 1 (and amazingly, they accepted). So come out and jingle it up with me! And if everything comes crashing down and chaos reigns in the streets, you’ll know whom to blame.

Note: Normally, I post only an excerpt of my AnnArbor.com articles, but in this case I wanted to be sure all my “thank yous” got in here.But if you want to see the AnnArbor.com post, please click here.