The weather is beautiful - muggy, but still beautiful - that's to be expected for late June in Chicago. I had a decent ride it; it would have been a great one if my noble steed wasn't have an issue with his back wheel. I'm going to take him in to be looked at after work, and will hopefully still be able to get home in time to see some of the Sox/Cubs game. As I rode past the park this morning people were already camped out in front with lawn chairs, hoping to snag some random tickets that may have been returned by group sales and the like.

On an impulse, I brought my camera to work today because I really wanted to get some pictures of the 35th street pedestrian bridge with the morning light - it looks really cool at that time of day. Fridays in the summer are conducive to taking your time on the way to work and, perhaps, arriving a few minutes later than usual... not that anyone ever notices. I'm hoping to have my camera out with me more this summer; I feel like I almost never shoot anything anymore, so I'd like to make an effort to be able to when the mood hits me. Too frequently do I see something that I wish I could take pictures of, only to lament having not brought my camera out with me. Hopefully tonight I'll have something to post up.

Tomorrow is my first 10k, and then I head over to the park to watch the game live and in person. I should have much more to write after all that!


Wow Trib, way to go

Not sure if the Chicago Tribune is somehow trying to be edgy by publishing controversial editorials, or if they just give any bigot with a keyboard free license to spout uninformed nonsense, but I was completely shocked to come across a piece entitled Disfigured skin points where culture is going, by Paul Carpenter. Take some time and read it, it's lovely.

Some of my favorite gems include:

Referring to Pacific Island/Polynesian cultures -

"Just a few centuries ago, there was a culture still mired in the Stone Age, with no written language, no science, no math, no architecture, no nothing requiring thought. Its members had not even managed to invent the wheel.
That culture's only contribution to the world was the decorative ''tatu.'' In most other parts of the ancient world, tattoos were disfigurements used only to identify criminals or slaves."

Really? Nothing requiring thought? I didn't realize survival was so mindless. I had no idea that the task of adapting to a harsh environment where potable water is scarce, agriculture isn't exactly easy, and your nearest neighbor and trade partner lives hundreds of miles away across open waters was a cake walk. I could easily come up with the tools, social systems, navigation techniques, customs, and way of life that the peoples of the Pacific used and still use to survive in my sleep. Perhaps survival is easy for Mr. Paul Carpenter, who in this day and age doesn't need to do more than order his groceries or even ready-cooked meals to his door from the comfort of his armchair, but those who haven't figured all that out must be terribly backward.

In addition to all of that being erroneous, his statement that tattooing for the sake of art was invented by the Polynesians is completely wrong. Body marking, scarification, and tattooing is as ancient as art itself. Ancient bodies - mummies, those trapped in bogs, those found in ice sheets, and more have been found with traces of these markings. Cave and rock art commonly depicted decorated humans - what's more likely, that this was artistic license or a realistic representation of actual individuals with clan markings? Since the rise of artistic expression, mankind has shown a need to distinguish the individual through adornment of the body or, conversely, to mark affiliation with a group of other individuals in the same manner- this has taken form in piercing, body marking, clothing, jewelry and more. How can tattooing be viewed as anything less than a very natural form of expressing either individualism, oneness with others, or both?

Another gem
"Now that Polynesians can read, use wheels, count and appreciate musical instruments other than drums, they've advanced to a point where most of them have abandoned tattoos."

Have they? I've seen quite a resurgence in ritualistic tattooing all over the Pacific because people want to reclaim parts of their culture that have been whitewashed out by colonialism.

Lovely over-generalizations

"Nonetheless, I've said a lot about both prostitution and tattoos, which, come to think of it, always seem to go together.

No one can deny that the heaviest concentrations of tattoos occur in the lowest segments of society -- prostitutes, pimps, pugs, prison inmates, Ku Klux Klansmen and the members of street and motorcycle gangs."

And war veterans... and people who belong to cultures where tattooing holds a special significance... and people who genuinely appreciate the art of tattooing... and people who have lost a loved one... and so on


"Do not glamorize accomplishment. Do not glamorize intelligence, insight or integrity. Don't glamorize courage, generosity, leadership, skill or diligence. Such qualities are for nerds."

Yes, because none of these attributes are present within Polynesian, Asian, African, or Native North and South American cultures where tattooing is a way of life.

Gotta love selective history lessons...

" In some older cultures, influence traveled from the top down. Early Americans marveled at the intellect of people like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and decided that education was a good thing, so they developed public school systems."

I love that the term 'older cultures' is only extended as far as post-contact North America; way to show your very narrow window of global awareness. If you want to play that game, inspired by the intellect of men like Jefferson, European-Americans committed horrendous acts of genocide to exterminate the Native Americans, whom said founding father found particularly loathsome. Oh yeah, perhaps it was their tattoos and the fact that they were 'stone-aged' and obviously hadn't contributed anything to society like the wheel or Tupperware. Never mind the fact that those people tamed two continents, and domesticated plants and animals that serve as some of the most widely-used food staples on the planet - a trifling thing compared to developing instruments other than drums and flutes.

To cap it all off, he closes with this lovely turn of phrase:

"In some modern cultures, influences travel from the septic bottom up. In no time at all, we'll catch up to the Stone Age cannibals of the South Pacific."

Do I even need to elaborate upon what a completely racist load of garbage that is?

Congrats, Mr. Paul Carpenter, on your completely Eurocentric view of history, and the glorification of all that is White over that which is dark, savage and backward. Yes, us tattooed folk will live in the 'septic' depths of our vulgar debauchery, with the whores, racists, cannibals, and criminals...

...and the teachers, politicians, artists, librarians, doctors, mothers, grandfathers, First Nation, Native American, and Aboriginal peoples - the war veterans, and all the other bottom feeders down here. Please, keep your Thomas Jeffersons and other 'inspired' thinkers to yourself; I think at some point, somehow down here in the mire we just might be able to invent the wheel on our own.



Ran it last night on the treadmill - talk about boring. I was curious to see what my pace was going in to this weekend. I maintained about a 10:30 mile, which was faster than I thought. Something tells me that I'm a lot slower outside when exposed to the elements. I feel pretty good today, though sore about the hips and a little in the knees. Tonight I will spend a lot of time stretching and in the tub, and tomorrow I'll get some easy work on the elliptical or my bike (depends on if I want to sleep in or not!). I feel like things are going well, though I need to be better about doing my cross training and short runs; I always make my long ones, but I know I'm setting myself up for injury if I don't make a better attempt at getting all the supplementary conditioning in. As always, I'm a work in progress.


Guess I need to write something...

Yes, we got swept. I've been hearing about it all day. Hopefully next weekend we'll turn the tables on those Cubbies and defend our home turf. We played like crap for the most part (except for some nice hits and plays here any there - usually too little too late), so I can't even say we deserved any wins. I'm not sure how we can possibly strand as many runners on base as we did and still be able to look ourselves in our mirrors at night. Hopefully Ozzie sent them all to bed without milk and cookies last night (and deprived himself as well). More to report next weekend, hopefully. Time to hide myself in the stacks, away from the harassment of my coworkers.


That time again

Of all things that smack of a real Chicagoland summer, nothing is more characteristic than the rampant crap talking, show of colors, and general hype that surrounds the Crosstown Classic games. For those of you who aren't from Chicago, or don't care about baseball, this city is home to one of the longest-standing rivalries in professional sports - that of the White Sox and the Cubs. My father pretty much had the Chicagoin attitude pegged when he was asked during a team building exercise in his office to pick three words that described himself and answered: Sox fan, Democrat, and Catholic (yes, in that order).

Team allegiance, in this town, is something that you're born into if you were born within about a 50 mile radius of the city. If you were born elsewhere, chances are that the Cubs have won you over through their viral marketing via WGN's massive broadcasting range, and the propaganda of them being the 'lovable losers.' Only Cubs fans can find losing to be an endearing characteristic. The unwanted stepchild status, or as Sox manager Ozzie Guillen calls it, being "Chicago's bitch," is awarded to the White Sox and their fans.

Though we have managed to win not one, but two World Series titles since the last time the Cubs managed to pull one off, we're still perpetually seen as the worst team in Chicago - loved only by those deemed ghetto or white trash. Northside vs Southside, I think, speaks about as much about elitism as it does baseball in this city, but that's another story. The Cubs have the 'nicer' neighborhood with better post-game entertainment; the historic ballpark; a quirky history full of lore and scapegoats; and generally a much more endearing media package to send out to potential converts. Chances are, if you're not from here, you' become a Cubs fan when you move in. Who can blame you really? Sox fans, on the other hand, are a much smaller group but no less dedicated to their team.

And that's generally how my own package of arguments usually is spread out when cornered by an overly-aggressive Cubs fan.

Fiercely loyal in the hard times and the good, Sox fans always seem to be on the defensive. When we won in 2005, we had to debate Cubs fans to disprove the argument that we somehow cheated to take the title. Yes, apparently we cheated through an entire season with a phenomenal record, and a post season that was nearly spotless. Beyond that, arguments with Cubs fans always seem to decline into classist assumptions on both sides. For our part (yes, it's impossible for me to not write this in an 'us vs. them' manner), we argue that Cubs fans are drunken frat boys and trixies who get wasted in the bleachers and then use Wrigleyville as their massive toilet after going to games on mom and dad's tickets. We think they're sore losers because they throw back home run balls hit by the opposing team. All other fans are merely clients being taken to the game because scenic Wrigley Field is a wonderful place to take someone to impress. Basically, they're all rich baseball tourists. For the less PC Sox fans, there are also jibes about Wrigley Field being the world's largest gaybar due to it being located near the heart of Chicago's boystown.

Cubs fans counter with accusations of all Sox fans being mullet-headed trash with fat girlfriends that brawl and curse throughout the game instead of actually paying attention. The only time we pay attention to the field is when we're trying to plan our route to get on to it in order to beat up members of the visiting team's management and other officials. US Cellular Field (sell out field, etc) is ripped on for having a corporate name, though Wrigley is as well, and for being far on the South Side of Chicago where there isn't much more to be done other than get mugged on your way to the Red Line.

The truth behind all the mud slinging lies, as always, smack dab in the middle and free from exaggeration, but it's much more fun to fight with stereotypes and generalizations. In the end, I think we all just enjoy royally pissing each other off and then seeing our boys prove it (or not) on the field.

Well, this is the weekend when that magic happens. In previous years when both teams have royally sucked, all that really mattered in Chicago was who won the bulk of the crosstown games; winner got bragging rights for the next year from that contest of mediocrity. This year will be a bit different: both teams now hold #1 spots, so the stakes are a little bit higher. Murmurs of a cross town post season are heard here and there, though as your typical Sox fan - who doesn't even like to stand for the final out because it might not happen - I prefer not to count any chickens before they're hatched. So, let the sun come out and the rain delay be ended so we can get out there and prove our point to the world (well, to the city, as nobody else seems to care). The bleachers are packed, the beers are poured, and the clients are ready to be less than thrilled out in Wrigleyville - let's not keep them waiting!


Good Luck Ryan

Today one of my friends from work stopped by the library to sign out. When someone leaves their job at The Field Museum, they have to go to various different departments for signatures to show HR that they were approved to leave the premises for good; for our part, our signature signifies the fact that the person leaving has no outstanding charges with the library. Ryan came by today merely as a symbolic gesture because he never registered in the library to charge out books; regardless he had to have our John Hancock.

Ok, enough intro. Ryan leaves on Tuesday to embark on an amazing adventure - he will be taking the train from Chicago to Seattle, where he will turn around, hop on his bike, and ride back East - all the way to New Jersey with 100 of his closest friends (or, at least, what will become his closest friends for the next two months). From New Jersey Ryan will be riding back to Chicago, hopefully with John, another one of The Field Museum's excellent mount shop/exhibits employees; from there - who knows? The world clearly is his oyster at this point.
So, good luck to Ryan. I will be checking his blog from time to time to see how he is doing, and you all should be doing the same.


Overheard at the Sox game

In true, uninspired, ripoff fashion, today's entry deals with funny things I heard at the White Sox/Pirates game last night (sox trounced the Pirates 16-5). So, without further ado - here are the sounds of the game:

Man: "It still kind of hurts when it touches where I had my third nipple burned off."

Mother to child in bathroom stall with automatic toilet: "{FLUSH} Don't get up, it's not going to take you with it!"

High-pitched woman's voice: "GOOOOO CREEEEDEEEEEE!!! YEAAAH! CREEEDEEEE {pause} "Let's..." {Pause - whispers} "Who's up now?" {shouts} "YEAAAAH LET'S GO CREEEDEEEEE!!!!"

High pitched woman's voice #2: "GOOOO CUBBIES!!!!!"*
*note - Cubs were not involved in the game this was shouted repeatedly at

High pitched woman's voice #2 again: "Hey - FUCK YOU A.J.!!!! I LOVE MICHAEL BARRETT!!!" repeated many times, even when AJ was not on the field.

Man - "Isn't heckling Pirates fans like bullying the fat kid in grade school?/isn't it bad enough they're Pirates fans?"

{after a 3 run homerun} High pitched woman's voice #2 again: "WHITE SOX SUCK!!!"

That's right Ozzie - to the drunken trixies of the world, no matter what we do, we'll always be "the bitch of Chicago."

Special note, high pitched woman's voice #2 was escorted out by her very embarrassed boyfriend after repeated requests from both him and other members of the crowd for her to shut up failed. Though the Sox were at that point winning by a 10 run lead, they apparently still sucked, as did the Sox fans because they refused to stand throughout the Sox at bats like they do 'at Wrigley." Oh well, we'll try harder for you next time you visit, sweets. Until then, I think I'd rather not force the shorter people and children behind me to stare at my back rather than the playing field. Can't please everyone!


Hug it out

It would seem that chimps also believe that the way to calm troubled waters is to 'hug it out.' Recent studies have shown that when altercations arise between two chimps, a third party often steps in and calms one of the combatants by hugging or kissing them. There is a pretty interesting article about this on the Trib site - check it out here.


Shameless plug for my peeps...

Thanks to Julie for reminding me that one again it is time for Pierogi Fest in Indiana. We went last summer and it was an absolute blast. The website this year has been keeping me in stitches all morning. Please go take some time to check out the Bushas of the Brigade Monthly Calendar, the Pierogi Pups, and the Lawnmower Drill Team blurbs (and more). It won't disappoint. If you're in the Midwest, make the drive - it's so worth it!


Quick post

As I have to leave work in a couple minutes. Yesterday I did my 8.5 mile run - my time was ~1hr 35min (roughly 11min miles). I didn't pass out from the heat, and I managed to do it all in one go. I'm pretty pleased with the results as I thought that the weather conditions were going to make my life miserable. I was a soaking mess by the end, but I felt all right. Today I'm a bit sore in the right knee (I think that's actually from hockey on Thurs night, aggravated by the run), but otherwise in decent shape. Now I need to bike about 7 miles to get to my symposium - I shall arrive in time and smelling like a Detroit sewer in the middle of July... Good times.


Summer courses and cerebral hibernation

Once again I begin the process of waking my brain up from its post-school-year hibernation so that it might take part in the activity known as Summer Session. Instead of taking the summer off, I find it more attractive to load myself down as much as possible with the lighter summer fare that is offered through my masters program in order to blow out this degree as quickly as I can so that I might rest, mentally, forever. Or not, but right now mental atrophy sounds nice.

This awakening is no easy process. Stupefied by the gluttonous amount of information my brain was forced to binge and purge over the last two terms, the sleeping beast inside my brain-case makes me think of a large, dopey cartoon bear asleep in his cave, blissfully unaware of the persistent naturalist who pokes and prods at it in an attempt to awaken it (after which, I assume, much hilarity or carnage - or both - would ensue). Each article I try to use to arouse the hunger in my brain has been met with a stubborn indifference and even, at times, a seeming inability to comprehend the morsels on the page. I toss them aside with indifference, to be read 'later' (read:never).

Thankfully today a set of readings came my way, wafting over the waves of the internet like the scent off a strawberry rhubarb pie perched on Ranger Smith's windowsill. My mind suddenly feels a bit hungry. What's this? Social Science-related materials? I haven't had these in forever; I've been force fed library science writing for the last eight months - which anyone in library science knows - have all the flavor and appeal of MREs. So now I'll snatch up this tasty pick-a-nic basket of knowledge and run off to enjoy it (yes, enjoy - really) in privacy somewhere. Maybe there is hope for my survival yet. Let's see if I make it through the brutal rut in the fall, where I attempt in vain to attract the notice of professors in three different classes and hopefully multiply my credits in exponential numbers. Time to be fruitful and multiply.


Not much to report

so here is a picture of Obama out for a bike ride yesterday.

This one time, at...

Walking in to work this morning - my arms loaded down with more junk to recycle in work's bins - I was lucky enough to be serenaded with a version of 'Iron Man,' done by a Jr. High marching band. Completely awesome. Everyone should have theme music for their solo walk into their place of employment.


Just in time

I had a long training run today (7.55m) and fully intended to be up at 8 to do it - hours of snooze button later and I was finally on the road by 10:40. Oh well, I guess along with losing some weight before the half marathon in August, I also need to start gaining some sleep at an earlier hour (tell me something I haven't known since I was 16). The run itself was awesome - I love the southern extension of the lake path; up until this point I had only taken it to 35th to get off to go home. This time I went down to 47th street, running through shady stands of trees, by nice little park houses and a ton of drinking fountains, and coming to a brief rest under a nice shade tree just before turning back, which awarded me a spectacular view of the lake shore and skyline from a distance. The southern part of the trail at that time of day wasn't particularly crowded, and only a couple of times was I held up by congestion on the path. At certain spots I was even able to run on gravel and grass that was flat, which my feet and knees, no doubt, appreciated.

On the return I had a stroke of luck, though at the time it was a bit of an annoyance, when Dan called me (and made me stop to dig my phone out) to tell me the cable guy was unexpectedly swinging by and that he'd be there in about 15 minutes. I hung up, buckled down and doubled my pace to get home through the stretch that I had intended to be my cool down. Not 5 minutes after I arrived, the skies opened up and it started to pour. Even now as I write this, the sky is dark as dusk still, the rain is coming down in sheets, and the lightning is everywhere. I am glad that I managed to escape it all - thanks Dan and the cable guy though, true to form, he's now about a half hour late and counting.


In other news

Anyone want to buy a Cosby sweater?


You know you want it!

Good times

Spent last night sitting around a lovely bonfire with a crew of friends from high school, drinking microbrew and talking of both old and current times. Theres nothing better than catching up with those you don't normally see, and none of it would have happened if it wasn't for the social glue that binds us all together - Syd. Syd has been one of my dearest friends since I was about 17 or so - she's stuck by me through everything, flown back from school in CO when I had my first major broken heart (well, at least since I knew her), stood in my wedding party as a bridesmaid (in a dress, with shaved legs! If you knew Syd, you would understand how huge that was...), and essentially bent over backwards to see me every time she's been back in the area, even though it's never been for more than a couple days. Needless to say, when Syd called me two days ago asking if I'd be around to chill because she was coming back on a family emergency, I cleared my schedule immediately.

There is nothing in the world more important than having friends of this intensity - the kind that you know, absolutely and without a doubt, that they will not only be there when you need them, but will carry your dead weight on their back (literally or figuratively) until you're in a safer place. In my lifetime, I've come across five such people (most of them before I even left high school) and cherish them dearly - I hope they all know who they are. Though they all, save one, live scattered across the country - and occasionally the globe - rest assured that they all (myself included) are ready to drop everything to come through at the right time, whether stressful or joyful. Safety net - peace of mind - rare breeds, all of them. I am forever thankful for their acquaintance - my surrogate family.


Lake path: mostly 'ahhhh' with some 'aaargh' moments...

As I surmised, the lake path on a week day morning is virtually empty; gone are the large groups of marathon training groups that I encountered last weekend. Instead, I met with a handful of every-day runners coming up from the South Side; a couple of old Asian men out for their morning bike ride in crisp and blindingly-white button down shirts; and a small pack of riders in full kit headed south, no doubt getting in a quick training ride before heading to work. I also encountered someone who, if not actually Julie, was her absolute twin. Julie - were you riding on the path this morning ~8:20am headed south? I kind of doubt it now as you're probably on your way back from Puerto Rico. At any rate, your doppelganger smiled very nicely at me as I rode by, and I smiled back and let out the surprised 'hey!' of mistaken recognition- I didn't really have time to be embarrassed by the 'who are you?' look as we were both far past each other when I began to doubt it really was you.

On the down side (and this was indeed a very small down side), I could do without the suicidal gnats flying into my eyeballs. At 8am they should be sufficiently dulled and bloodshot from sleep to not provide the whitest and shiniest target in the area - can't they find a street sign or something to aim for instead? Nevertheless they land right in the white every single time. I guess it's time to buy a new pair of sunglasses; who knows when the old ones will turn up? I also could have done without all the slippery storm debris, but that's a small price to pay for the tranquility of being able to ride over a virtually-deserted, tree-lined path every morning. All-in-all, a lovely way to start the morning and, as I noted, a great way to end the day if I want to take advantage of the beach at the spot where I exit the path. Mmmmm swimming on a sweaty August evening - heavenly if the e coli manages to stay in check. Milwaukee - I'm calling on you - hold off on dumping so much this summer, and we'll see what we can do about the flying rats pooping in the lake. Thanks.


Obama it is... now the fun begins

So last night Obama clinched the nomination to be the Democratic candidate in the forthcoming election. Provided that Clinton doesn't raise a stink, which I sincerely hope she has the class not to, we shall be seeing him butting heads until November with McCain. This leads me to wonder about an issue that has begun to make me increasingly uncomfortable with my new area. While I absolutely love living in Bridgeport, and find it to be a lovely, quiet, and friendly place to be, I have already been exposed to an ugly undercurrent of racist views in some of the natives that I had been warned about before.

How will the folks of Bridgeport now react to me when they see my Obama pin on my bag, or possibly overhear me and some friends talking about this candidacy at the bar? Just Tuesday night I sat through the Wings/Penguins game at a bar where the other three occupants casually threw out passing jokes about 'shines' and 'spooks.' Really? People still use these terms? I have to admit it was a bit of a wake up call for me. I've come across that same kind of 'casual' racism (snide comments or jokes when the speaker is with his or her 'own kind') in circles before over the years, but never have I had people actually try to draw me into it. I was the only stranger at the bar that night, so eventually the occupants began talking to me about the game, the neighborhood, and so on - near the end of the night, someone made an unrelated, racial comment and looked at me for commiseration. Immediately the speaker noticed I looked uncomfortable, apologized (a surprise in and of itself), mentally marked me off and not 'one of them,' and never returned to that subject. After three overtimes and the Wings blowing it royally, I paid my tab and made a quick exit - hoping I hadn't met with the majority of my neighbors in that evening's outing.

The whole event reminded me of an incident when Dan and I were driving cross-country and had entered Idaho. We breakfasted in a beautiful town in the mountains where the people were delightful and friendly, and everything was idyllic. When we stopped for lunch later that day in another community, mostly composed of old hippies and artists, we mentioned how nice the previous place was to us, the person we were talking to simply said 'it's because you're white.' Apparently that quaint little town was the focal point for the KKK community in Idaho, and the location of their yearly rallies. Lovely. What decay can live beneath the surface of such beautiful places; I can't understand why people who live in such an open and friendly environment can be so closed off to so many others because of a physical trait.

This year will be a very interesting study in these very questions. Already there are people being interviewed on the radio about how there is 'no way' they'd vote for a candidate 'like Obama,' though they were all for Clinton - in fact, this latest turn has led some Clinton voters to change over to the McCain camp. One lovely lady on the radio spoke about how this race (the choice in terms was not lost on me...) had caused her to change from being a self-described liberal democrat to being a conservative republican. Clinton's major demographic - the non-college-educated whites - have begun to switch camps. What a shock, I guess.

But honestly, why should a perceived 'lesser of two evils (Obama v Clinton is a close call in some eyes)' be decided on skin tone and not stances? I really hope I won't have more reason to feel ashamed in my fellow countrymen and women this fall; don't let this one be decided on B.S. prejudices alone. Americans - put all the physical, unrelated issues aside and just listen to your candidates for once; it would do you a bit of good.