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The Lent Project: Day 7

Two things I don't care about but everybody else does...the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Sequester. Here's why...

It's all everybody is talking about. Both sides yelling at each other for months. The voters stuck in the middle trying to understand the arguments for and against. Listening to the debate on the news last night with an open mind, the best I can tell is that if we don't build the pipeline we'll get even dirtier oil from China, Canada will sell their oil abroad not to us, and the recession is the reason oil consumption is flat, and it will create jobs. None of which are particularly interesting reasons, to me intellectually, when we could be pouring that money into clean, renewable energy like solar, wind, and investing in the electric car infrastructure.

But even more than the environmentally fluffy argument that we don't want a dirty, unsafe oil pipeline flowing through the heartland, my real sympathy is with the people who will have their land taken affected by this monster. Because here's the willing is the government going to be and how easy will it be to compensate victims when this pipeline eventually bursts or leaks? For the record, I'm against drilling, mining, and logging on federal lands, too. I'd just feel a lot better if in addition to some upfront being well-paid for letting this pipeline through, landowners were also given a cut of the oil profits. Seems only fair. At least annual pass-through rights? Maybe they already are, I've lost the ability to hear details because it's just protest versus angry drumbeat in favor.

Which brings us to the sequester...that's the rather large round of spending cuts coming up. Depending on your spin, they're either damaging or necessary. Then there's something in between where both sides quit blaming each other. The honest truth is we probably need spending the defense budget. And we probably need to better fund things like education and entitlement programs. So across the board cuts aren't the way to go. The federal government, economically speaking, probably needs to spend more not less. Which runs counter to everything the Republican side stands for. But Democrats don't have the guts to stand up and explain that we don't have a spending problem. Well, a few economists have the guts. Though Dems aren't exactly making hay out of the way that the President has reduced the size of government compared to the previous President Bush. And Democrats refuse to say the obvious--that our social programs have gone past the point of being able to fund themselves so we need to alter the tax schemes necessary to keep them up.

More to my point, Democrats make great political drama out of the fact that Republicans want to change entitlements, but there is some truth to the problem that if we preserve the status quo we're dooming them. If it's now suddenly hip and cool to be liberal--the new silent majority--we probably should be open and more defiant about our financial beliefs. ie That we want better funding for social programs, schools, roads, etc.. And quit hiding behind the idea that to be fiscally conservative means being anti-spending, anti-tax. That's really just anti-government. As the President said, it's not about bigger government it's about smarter government. We don't want to expand the system for the sake of it. It's a means to an end.

See, told you I was a moderate.

* * *

Back to that new Pope and my promise for a few religious meditations during Lent...

If you've been paying attention to nuns lately--and, really, who hasn't?!--you know 2 things. The nuns have been angry. And nobody wants angry nuns. They're angry because 1) the outgoing Pope has been trying to crack down on their feminist, liberal, non-conformist ways 2) they gained some fame during the last election for opposing the (Paul) Ryan budget which was seen as under-funding the poor and being socially unjust.

The old Pope's questionable reputation comes from a combination of many things...the abuse scandal for one...but a lot of the perception about a gruff and grumpy attitude comes from doctrine. It's nothing a little PR campaign couldn't fix though. A little more focus on "widows and orphans" and a little less on the evils of the modern world. Catholic organizations have fallen in the eyes of many because they're busy fighting gay adoptions and birth control rather than a mission to be at the cutting edge of helping the needy.

Especially with a host of human condition problems in the world, there is plenty of room for the Catholic Church to be leading on Syria's civil war, rape in India, poverty, disease, nutrition. Jesus hung out with the tax collectors and the prostitutes. We need a Pope willing to do the same and be a little less above it all. Speaking entirely as a non-Catholic, I judge the Church less by creeds and more by deeds.

But, then again, that's a problem for many people in general with religion...don't tell me, show me. People get turned off by religious language because it gets too showy. And showy seems inauthentic. I was having an interesting discussion during the recent NPR series about the rise of the un-churched in America and we got into a side topic about how belief systems can still be religious even if they're explicitly non-religious. The easiest example of this is atheists--defining themselves in religious terms still.

Perhaps that will be a nice spiritual topic for me to explore in another post...the existential search in modernity for authentic experience.

* * *

Yes, I skipped my workout last night due to my cold. For some this makes perfect sense. For others of you, this is a scandal. I think I would have felt differently if I were in the middle of my training plan already. Since it hasn't started yet, I really would rather rest and get well than push myself now. Granted, I missed a swim last week, but my time in the pool has been very helpful lately--why go into it knowing last night's swim would suck?

I will say that I'm looking forward to getting on MY bike in the coming weeks...but also not excited about needing to be on the trainer until it is nice enough to ride outside. Essentially, 2 nights a week starting in March are going to be in the basement going nowhere. My training schedule technically has 2 of each--swim, bike, run--though I am far less concerned about the run other than a few "bricks" (that's running after a bike for those of you new to this tri thing). I feel like I need to make swim improvements so I may even swap out a run for a swim. I'm also a big believer in extra rest days. As you get older, 6 days a week is a lot to train. For the marathon, I tend to be 3-4 days per week. In fact, this last summer for my Chicago PR it was a bike or two, a short run, and one long run. That's all.

* * *

Kelly was super sweet yesterday and stayed home to help tend to me and the kids. Mostly so I didn't have to wrangle an angry Leda. Cole has been the good child lately while Leda is grumpy and into trouble. She gets into everything she shouldn't then has a huge meltdown when you take her away from it or stop her.

So far, she's in a decent mood this morning. Cole is playing quietly. And I have plenty of opportunity to get away to blow my nose. Kelly has promised to come home as soon as she can this afternoon though. That's when the trouble starts usually. And, by then, who knows what condition I will be in--probably ready for a nap and shower.

* * *

Cole is playing blocks this morning...periodically knocking down the tower shouting "attack!"

* * *

Well, it finally happened. We've begun to need a 3rd burrito when we go to Chipotle. More and more of our dinner was being stolen by the little burrito bandits until we've finally just been getting them a burrito bowl filled with their favorites. Beans. Cheese. Rice. And, last night, Cole informed us he loves steak...but doesn't want it on his burrito. Still would rather steal ours. Leda packs it in, too.

And Kelly always is unable to finish her full meal so she sticks in the fridge on a plate. Guess what morning snack was just now? Yep. Though we eventually ran out of beans so that all that was left was a sad mix of fajita veggies and corn. They know what they like.

* * *

As much as I hate to admit it, Super Why has been growing on Cole. When he's in the mood for it, he shouts out the letters when they appear. I wasn't much paying attention one day recently when he turned to me and said, "D & E!" Sure enough the letters D & E had popped up on the screen.

It's also becoming impossible to take him seriously sometimes...just now, he pushed his sister and I told him it was nap time unless he was willing to be a good boy. To which he replied with a straight face, "good boy!" as if to promise he'd shape up. I have my doubts, but it's hard to not give him a chance when he's so cute.

Either that or he thinks he's being a good boy for eating her for's a harsh world out there. Maybe he's trying to teach her an early lesson? lol

* * *

It hurts to sneeze. I'm to the point in this cold where I get neck pains I'm sneezing so hard. Little shoulder cramps from having several in a row. Ugh. Go away cold.

* * *

So I'm standing in the bathroom peeing with the door open when Cole comes running up. So I say, "Cole do you want to learn how?" Blank stare. Then I follow up with "if you sit on your potty you get special treats." So he runs to his room, sits on his potty for maybe 3 seconds, then runs to the kitchen to the drawer where we keep the M&Ms. Yes, this kid can be bought.

Immediately following that incident, the three of us shared a glass of juice--taking turns sipping. Or trying, in Leda's case. She's not good at drinking from a non-sippy yet. But then it was snack time before nap (yes, 2nd morning snack) and Cole chose bagel. When I asked if I could have a piece for his sister he ran away...then thought twice and let me rip off a small bite for her. Maybe he's learning?

Leda just took a text from Kierkegaard off the bookshelf and is sitting on the living room floor paging through it. lol

* * *

Today is registration for the Chicago Marathon. And, yes, it feels a little weird to not being signing up. And it feels a little weird to not have a fall race on my calendar...the first time in 5 years that's happened.

But I just keep telling myself that's it's best in the longterm. If all goes according to plan, next year is going to be my most intense training year ever...perhaps this should be the summer of relaxation in preparation, this year. Good luck to my friends trying to get a spot! And to my friends doing other races.

* * *

Geek time...I'm currently reading a sports nutrition article discussing the idea that you don't replace nutrition during endurance activity because the body doesn't have a mechanism set up for that. Instead, your goal is to take the minimum amount of nutrition necessary to allow the body to continue doing what you're asking of it. Intriguing to hear it broken down that way. My gut reaction from marathoning is that it's true.

Just when I got the calories for 26.2 right, here I go on a mission to find something that works for me during a longer day. I know a lot of you triathletes use carb powder. Haven't used it myself. I read someone who had Nuun (which I love) work well with it.

* * *

Two articles this afternoon on a couple of my pet interests.

This one on Preschool is an investment in America.

This one on the rise of aggressive liberalism in the mainstream. The New Liberals

A couple lines I especially love...
Perhaps most importantly, Obama—particularly the second-term Obama—does not apologize for liberalism. That isn't to say he's the most liberal guy around, because he isn't. ...They're looking at the polls and their party's demographic makeup, and feeling suddenly free to advocate for liberal policies without shame. The radical turn the GOP has taken lately has something to do with it and it may change eventually, but nevertheless, Democrats are feeling ideologically bold in a way they haven't for decades.