Monthly Archives: March 2008

turning from green to blue

… but not in the environmental sense.  Kayla earned her blue belt in Taekwondo last week.  And she did it in a particularly interesting way.


She was pretty well-prepared for her belt test, although both our family and the TKD school had lots going on in the weeks leading up to the test.  The school was concentrating on preparing for their annual tournament (Kayla did well there too!).  As a family we’ve been focused on selecting next year’s school for Kayla.  So – while important, the belt test didn’t get the focus it normally would have.

She did well warming up, and running through the first few form basics.  Then while out on the floor with a group of blue and green belts, she blanked on the second or third of her form basics.  That stinks when you’ve been working hard towards a goal and you forget something important in front of everyone.  You could see disappointment on her face, and could tell that she was wracking her brain for the missing form basic.


Instead of letting this sink her chances, she toughed it out, making it through to nail her forms and sparring tests.  In the car on the way home that evening, she verbally ran through every last mistake she made during the test.  Obviously it’s disappointing when you don’t do as well as you want to.

Of course the parent’s and Taekwondo teacher’s perspectives are different.  We knew she knew her stuff.  She just had one of those moments we all have, when your mind goes blank, and you have to figure out how to move past the fear of failure.  And so she did.  And according to her instructors, she did quite well.  Naturally they had feedback on some things for her to work on (as she’d expect), but they had a lot positive to say. 

And this is exactly why we like this particular martial arts school.  They focus on mutual respect and learning the forms, rather than winning your sparring matches (which is apparently more of the norm).  The instructors also manage to challenge the kids while keeping them in a safe place emotionally.  It’s tough to get up in front of parents and instructors to perform for the test.  But capable teachers know how to get the best out of their students, and keep them coming back.

Kayla – we’re very proud of you!

event shirt etiquette demystified

Ran across this while researching a marathon … everything you need to know about when (and when not) to wear your event shirt.

Excerpt … a completely irrational point of etiquette that I also subscribe to … it may have been an unwritten rule only before now :

"Never wear a race event shirt for the (same) race you are about to do. Only rookies do this. It displays a total lack of integrity and might put the bad-heebee-jeebee-mojo on you for the race. Wearing a T-shirt of the race, while currently running said race, is discouraged. It’s like being at work and constantly announcing "I’m at work". Besides, you wont have the correct post-race shirt then…unless you like to wear sweaty, pitted-out clothes on a regular basis. If you do, then go back to the swamp, Gomer."

nightline and gma redux

So – a couple of weeks back, my former GM Megan was profiled on Good Morning America and Nightline.

I’ve drawn a couple of conclusions after watching the interviews :

  1. My wife and I will never agree to be interviewed on national television.  It requires a type of courage I simply do not have.  Anh and Megan demonstrated great poise in the spotlight, especially when fielding such incredibly personal questions.
  2. I can’t believe that Megan makes time to get a run in, and cook pancakes for her son each morning.  That’s amazing!

Not forgetting for a moment that Megan and Anh are real people, I very much admire how they’re willing to share their journey with the rest of us.  A real family’s story is much more powerful and convincing than anything that the Human Rights Campaign (or any other fine organization like that) can say.

flying solo

This past week, Kris has been in Florida with her parents, helping out as her Dad recovers from back surgery.  The kids and I are on our own, but only sort of.

Before she left, Kris made arrangements for a couple of play-dates, for after-school care, and for the kids to be with my parents on alternating days.  So – that’s been a huge help.  I can’t claim to have been "on my own" having had the benefit of so much help.

On the other hand, we’re having a great time together.  I helped out on a field trip for Rachel’s class up to a nearby Reptile Zoo.  The kids were great!  They were pretty fascinated by the snakes, alligators, monitors, and geckos.  There was even a two-headed turtle (weird!).  Some of the kids were a bit nervous about handling the snakes, but warmed to it after a little bit.  It was great to see them so engaged.

Other happenings … Rachel lost her first tooth the day after Kris left.  She was pretty interested in keeping the tooth, and in finding out the tooth fairy’s name.  The tooth fairy helpfully deposited the tooth in the family "memory box", and responded that Rachel was welcome to call her "Sunflower" (apropos, since the tooth fairy wrote all of this in a card with Van Gogh’s Two Cut Sunflowers painting on it).  The card included both of these important bits of information in it.

I hear that the tooth fairy was pretty pleased about resolving these important issues so nicely, but then I don’t think she remembered that Rachel is still learning to read.  I heard Rachel wake up, and rushed over to her room to say good morning.  She’d already started tearing her room apart, looking for the envelope with the tooth (apparently unable to read the careful cursive writing that the tooth fairy employed to conceal the true nature of her poor penmanship.  Once assured that the tooth was still with us, Rachel was okay.

Kayla qualified for her next belt test.  She’d been close for a while, and was really happy.  This necessitated a trip to a nearby Mediterranean place to celebrate over some great falafel and baba gonouj.

Over the course of the week, we fell into an evening routine that left time for Kayla to make her lunch for the next day and do some homework.  Rachel and I made it through a good bit of Ruth Stiles Gannet’s My Father’s Dragon series, a sweet fantasy series dating from the late 1940s.  I read these with Kayla, and got a big kick out of rediscovering them with Rachel.

All in all, it was a really nice week.  I had a nasty cold, which was a big drag, and was just barely able to stay on top of all of the other stuff that needs to get done (laundry, dishes, groceries).  Unfortunately, Kris is coming home to a pretty empty cupboard.  I guess one gets better at this with practice.

And I have no idea how bona-fide single parents do this.  I’ve had it so much easier.

taking the good with the bad

So – since tweaking my back about a week and a half ago, I’ve been a bit off my game.  I did a hard 20 miler over the weekend – the last 6 of which were not that much fun.  The subsequent runs have not been quality miles.  I’m feeling like a bag of aches, pains, and complaints.

The magic thing about running for me is about being able to disconnect or make sense of some of the things that are causing me grief.  When I feel like my body is betraying me, it’s tough because I rely on the mental and physical outlet that running gives me.

Tonight I ran with a good friend who is always good company, and manages to push me harder than I’d push myself.  He’d already run once today (actually yesterday now), and only came out because because he knew it’d help me out.  Or maybe because he wanted to cause me some pain :).

Actually it was great.  I spent a good bit of the run wondering why I was out there, but mixed in a couple of short accelerations towards the end (up the hill on the ardmore trail, and then finishing up towards work).  Even if I’ve had faster days, as long as I can do that, everything’s going to be okay.

Also got the news that one of the regulars at the Eastside Runner’s track workout had a serious heart attack while running last night.  Don’t know very much, other than that Scott’s in the ICU … so send your positive thoughts up here to Scott and his family.

oh the humanity !

I just got off the phone with American Express.  I had some minor questions about the account, which didn’t fit into the 2 or 3 obvious categories for automated help.

You’ve probably noticed that your customer service experiences mostly stink.  Sometimes, it’s bad luck and you get a representative who’s not helpful.  Other times you spend a long time navigating their automated menu system, and either get lost or end up repeating all of the information you’ve provided along the way several times.

My experience today was more depressing than any of those things – despite having a very polite and helpful rep.

I spent several minutes navigating an annoying automated menu system that I’m sure saves AmEx a ton of money, but just feels cruddy.  Then I got a very polite and helpful customer service rep who was able to answer my question in about two seconds.

The problem was, there was a pretty loud BEEP that sounded every five seconds or so during our conversation.  I asked the rep about it, and she offered to try to ‘turn it down’ (she couldn’t).  I asked her why the BEEP?

She told me that it’s a reminder that the call is being monitored (as if she needed a reminder).  I think it’s really a way to speed up the calls ?

She said it was annoying for the first three or four weeks, but now she doesn’t hear it anymore.  I’ll bet.  They were told there’s a way to turn the sound down (or off), but no one’s told them how.

AmEx – you suck for doing this to your reps.  It’s totally dehumanizing. 

If I’d found a way to give you the feedback via your customer service website, I would have done that, but you’ve (prudently) omitted that option.

The BEEP has got to cause PTSD, hearing loss, or both.