Sunday, August 30, 2015

Neil & Sunlight at 6:30

Sun against my friend's windshield, sometime summer 2014.  Photo by J. Berta.

Greetings All:

Fair warning, this blog post may not make a whole lot of sense.  (This may trigger the comment from some/most of you:  "Um, Jeno, how's that different from all your other blog posts.")

Ha ha ha.  Then again, you may be right.  In any event, here's the post:

Last week, I think it was Tuesday, about 6:30, I was driving home.  As I was waiting to make a right turn, (heading east) I was checking the traffic to the west.  It was there that I caught a face-full of sunlight.  Even with my sunglasses, it was way bright, even annoying, causing me to turn away.  The photo that opens this blog reminds me of what I saw on Thursday and no, I did not take that when I was driving.

With it being as close to "rush hour" traffic as we have in the Quad Cities, I had to wait for the light to change.  It did, and I did another quick check of the traffic to ensure it had actually stopped.  

I was ready for the sunlight and this time, instead of being annoying, it was pretty, even a bit majestic.  It was at that moment that Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" came over the new Sirius XM's Channel 18.  

I'm guessing most of you reading this blog are familiar with this wonderful, feel-good, soda (real soda, not that diet stuff) sweet song.  However, just to be complete, here are the lyrics.

"Sweet Caroline"

"Where it began,
I can't begin to knowin'
But then I know it's growing strong

Was in the spring
And spring became the summer
Who'd have believed you'd come along.

Hands, touchin' hands
Reachin' out, touchin' me, touchin' you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I've been inclined
To believe they never would
But now I...

...look at the night
And it don't seem so lonely
We fill it up with only two.

And when I hurt,
Hurtin' runs off my shoulders
How can I hurt when holding you?

Warm, touchin' warm
Reachin' out, touchin' me, touchin' you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I've been inclined,
To believe they never would
Oh, no, no

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
Sweet Caroline,
I believe they never could
Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
Sweet Caroline.."

This song has moved, occupied actually, a place on the shelf of popular culture.  At sporting events, this song can be heard (when the home team is winning).  The crowd cooperates by singing along, or at least belting out this line:

"Sweet Caroline, da DA DA!"

I've got a few links in the sources to the history of the song.  I was not aware, for example, that it was thought to have been written about Caroline Kennedy.  Nope.  The inspiration was Diamond's then wife.  Her name was not Caroline.  However, he needed three syllables to make the song work.  Thus, Car-o-line became the name.

There also are covers of this song that are all over the internet.  One of my favorites is the band below:  (If you want to find out who it is, you'll have to click on the link...:)).

 I will give you a hint as the the band's identity.  The lead singer has had a great solo career.  He played at my law school's university end of the school year party.  I recall he played this song.  I have no doubt I sang along, loudly and assuredly off-key.  I was so happy and relieved to have survived the first year of law school.  It was about the perfect song to hear at that time.

As I heard this song again on Tuesday, I did not remember the party some two decades ago or any specific event related to the song.  I just smiled and drove home...and listened to Neil belt out this tune.

It was circumstance that I was where I was and heard what I heard.  I did not consciously chose it.  I cannot take credit for it.  In the big scheme of things, it was a random, minor occurrence, one of dozens we experience every day.  

So what made this one meaningful?  What made it worth remembering, worth writing about?  I'm not sure, actually.  I cannot put my finger on it.  I suppose the cynic in me would say, "Well, you needed a blog post topic, this is as good as anything."

That's true.  However, I like to think that I use this post to write about things that matter to me.  I also like to seize opportunities to write about things that are positive, as opposed to the "gloom and doom" in the world.  (Case in point, I just watched "Meet The Press" this morning.  The show was one bad news story after the other.  In fact, I paused writing this post to watch a story on the decade anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the abject suffering visited on the people of New Orleans.  As I mentioned, doom and gloom.)

So this event, as random and trivial as it was, made me feel good.  It brought a smile to my face.  I did not create the circumstances of Tuesday at 6:30.  I did choose to let it make me feel good.

This is a choice we all have.  I mentioned in a previous post about my attempts to be more on time (and doing pretty well, I might add, although Dawn might disagree.)  In keeping with that I am going to make the effort to see the random beauty around me.  Who knows, I might start writing about such things not being so "random" after all.
Be well my friends,


Monday, August 24, 2015

A Patch Pinned & History Made

The "tab" of the U.S. Army Rangers, Wikipedia/U.S. Army, public domain

Greetings All:

This past week, with the act of pinning a patch on two Soldiers' shoulders, history was made.  Captain (CPT) Kristen Griest and First Lieutenant (1LT) Shaye Haver graduated from the U.S. Army Ranger School, the first female Soldier to earn this distinction.  It is an amazing achievement and I heartily congratulate both of them.

Ranger school is not for the faint of heart.  Equally disqualifying are those with a fondness for more than three hours of sleep and filling meals.  Instead, Ranger candidates are fed a steady diet of physical and mental taxation, strive and suffering.  Oh, and by the way, while this is all going on, they are first learning then expected to lead others in small unit military tactics.  I doubt I'd last a week, more likely a day in this "finishing school" for soldiering.  

In the sources, I've got links to the NYT's article about these two Soldiers and also information about Ranger school.  As I am attempting (stress attempting) to keep my blog posts shorter, I will skip a long review of the Army Rangers.  I do want to mention that Rangers have long been at the tip of the Army's spear of combat-arms specialists.  As I recall, it was during some of the most bloody fighting on D-Day, Brigadier General Norm Cota shoutedd the now famous phrase, "...Rangers lead the way!"  

And they did.  And they have.  For decades, Rangers are some of the finest Soldiers the world has ever, or will ever see.  You may recall that former NFL star Pat Tillman walked away from millions of dollars to enlist in the U.S. Army.  What did he choose for his assignment?  The U.S. Army Rangers.

It was only recently that women were allowed to first try out and then attend this and other combat-specific schools.  As my friend Matt pointed out, some in the talk-radio world howled their displeasure at this decision.  They decryed it as, "political correctness again run amuk!"  These...commentators also gleefully predicted these ladies failure and just could not wait to say, "I told you so!"

Guess what?  They made it.  They are Rangers.  The world did not end.  There is not stallion feces littering our streets from the galloping of "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," at this occurrence.  

It took almost 65 years from when the first Ranger class graduated for women to earn the right to wear the black and gold tab of the Rangers.  Yet 1LT Haver and CPT Griest did it. 

The first graduating class of Army Rangers, Nov 1950, Wikipedia/U.S. Army, public domain.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter offered these comments about the graduation of CPT Haver and 1LT  Griest: “Like every Ranger serving today, they'll help lead the finest fighting force the world has ever known,...”  I'm going to come back to that statement. 
Rangers are clearly a unique breed of Soldiers.  As I understand it, one must be a graduate of the following:  Basic military training; the three-week Army parachute school (completing 5 jumps); and other accession and testing before even entering Ranger training.  

Whether or not one actually serves in one of the Ranger Battalions (The 75th Ranger Regiment), all Rangers are held to an incredibly high standard.  That standard might be best summed up in the "Ranger Creed," citation noted below,


ecognizing that I volunteered as a ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of my ranger regiment.

cknowledging the fact that a ranger is a more elite soldier, who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a ranger, my country expects me to move further, faster, and fight harder than any other soldier.

ever shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong, and morally straight, and I will shoulder more than my share of the task, whatever it may be, one hundred percent and then some.

allantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well trained soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress, and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.

nergetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

eadily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the lone survivor.


This is the same creed all Rangers recite at many times in their lives.  In fact, retired General Stanley McChrystal used part of the creed as the title (a great read, BTW) for his memoirs, My Share of the Task.  I have a link to his book in the sources.  If you would like to learn more about what life is like in the Army Rangers, please check out Gen McChrystal's book.

As I alluded to above, there was some/a lot of grumbling if not outrage that such an elite training program as Ranger School would be open to women.  The satire website The Duffle Blog (the military version of The Onion) has been having a field day with numerous posts, poking fun at some of this blowback. 

Some of The Duffle Blog's post are not that funny and others simply gutter humor.  However, I have links to a couple below that are hihilarious examples of good satire.  My favorite is, "Special Forces, 75th Rangers Build 'No Girls Allowed' Club House."

In fact, it is humorous enough to warrant a link within this blog post:

The joke, of course, is the "lamenting" of yet another male bastion of exclusivity has crumbled.  I don't want to be hypocrite.  There have been times, numerous times, I have enjoyed being "with the guys."  Yet our national security is too important to deny anyone qualified to serve the chance just due to some gender status.

Now with that being said, you'll get no argument from me that one should be, must be, qualified and trained for their job.  Case in point:  CPT Griest is an Apache attack helicopter pilot.  Due to my eyesight (and pathetic math skills) I would not be qualified to do this job.  I also think that the Army will place her back into this assignment.  I am certain that should the men she trained with ever need close-air support (CAS) they will be profoundly grateful she is flying above them, raining fire on enemy positions, than on the ground with them.

As to whether or not women will actually be authorized to serve in the "combat arms" branches, the jury is still out on that one.  It is folly to ignore that there are demanding, almost sadistic physical requirements for these aspects of military service.  It may be the case that women simply do not have the physical attributes to perform these specific jobs.  Just as I think it is wrong to deny training to someone because of their gender, it is equally wrong to not consider the facts in assigning the right person to the right job.

This, by the way, has nothing to do with courage or the ability to display bravery on the battlefield.  Women have and will continue to be just as lethal as their male counterparts.  I came across this story about female fighters taking on ISIS:

All-women warrior brigade formed to fight ISIS

"A popular Yazidi folk singer has formed an all-female fighting brigade in Iraq called the “Sun Girls” to battle back against ISIS militants. Xate Shingali, 30, is the woman reportedly behind the new fighting battalion. She’s recruited 123 women, one as young as 17 years old, who will take the battlefield to exact revenge on the terror group. 'They rape us. We kill them,' the singer told The Daily Mail."

Ms. Shingali's troops, "The Sun Girls," from Twitter, full citation and applicable attribution below in the sources, fair use and/or public domain claimed.

I know it's not very "Christian" of me, but I wish these ladies wild success in their chosen endeavor.  (And to ISIS- boys, best know these ladies have not signed onto any of the Geneva Conventions.)

So back to the newest Army Rangers.  I want to return to Sec. Carter's comments, in particular this one:  " lead..."  

In the final analysis, this is not about a piece of cloth, a proclamation of the crashing of the "Kevlar ceiling," the degeneration of transitional gender roles, a victory for feminism or anything else.  It is, instead, about having two new young officers who have additional leadership experience to pass on to their subordinates.  It is about these two young women and more important, company grade officers, who will now be more effective leaders.  

It will empower them to, with a nod to The Ranger Creed, "...shoulder more than their share of the task."  To me, that is what being an American and wearing its uniform is all about.  

Be well my friends,



Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Common Malady

A snapshot of my Google calendar, one of the many tools I use to be on time.  I may need more.  Photo by J. Berta

Greetings All:

"Can't. Stand. Late."  Dawn Strauss-Berta, Facebook, August 9, 2015, citing to Brent Beshore's article on, "5 Minutes Early Is On Time; On Time Is Late; Late Is Unacceptable."

My wife, Dawn, despises being late.  She is pretty tolerant of most of my imperfections (and that is a long list), yet this is one that she really, truly, does not like about me.

And full-disclosure, being on time is a challenge for me.  I do think I have gotten better at it, however I'm far from perfect on this front.

What inspired this blog post was a...spirited discussion Dawn and I had last night about the virtues of being on time.  I launched the first salvo by saying, "I had a meeting last week and someone was a few minutes late.  It was no big deal to me."

Dawn then proceeded to remind me of her position and that being late for any reason is unacceptable.  Did I mention my lovely bride is from New Jersey?  Well, she is.  And she let me know in no uncertain terms (in a tone and tenor that would make Chris Christie proud) how wrong I was.

We then shifted our discussion to the article that is mentioned in Dawn's Facebook post and I have a link to it in the sources section.  If you have...issues with being on time.

Here's a quote from the article that sums up (at least for me) Beshore's position on this subject:

"All joking aside, being late is unacceptable. While that sounds harsh, it’s the truth and something that should be said more often. I don’t care if you’re attending a dinner party, a conference call, or a coffee meeting – your punctuality says a lot about you."

Before I delve in more deeply into this subject, An apology to this author is in order.  I'm actually on a "streak" of apologies (2 for 2 blog posts, please see yesterday's post)  Regarding the author, I initially and incorrectly dismissed him as some self-righteous freelance journalist lecturing me.  I was wrong.  He's a whole lot more than that.  Here's his bio:

"I’m an entrepreneur, the Founder/CEO of (#28 on 2011 Inc. 500), an angel investor, a winemaker (Beshore Family Vineyards), a poverty relief advocate, and the husband to a Ph.D."

Pretty impressive.  So when someone this successful offers his point of view about being on time, one should at least pay him the courtesy of listening.  I suppose if I want to zip up my jacket and go stand in the cold light of truth, I don't like his message for one simple reason:  

He's right.

There, I said it. he's right.  And so is Dawn.  And so is my Dad who is with rare, rare exceptions at least 10 minutes early to everything.

I suppose I tolerate people being late because on some subconscious level, it validates my position.  Put another way, I'm saying to myself, "It's OK if I'm late on occasion as I tolerate it in others.  I'm not a hypocrite."  

Fair enough.  I'm not a hypocrite.  But I'm still late, even a little.

It appears I am not the only one.  It seems as if being late is acceptable conduct.  I have some citations in the sources below that help support the point that being late is a common malady.  People are late for work, meetings, even flights.  (Ever seen someone running thru the airport like O.J. Simpson in a 70s Hertz commercial?  I have.)  

While I do not embrace all of reasons Beshore decries lateness, he does have one point:  With rare exceptions being late, like many other maladies is curable.  We just may not like the medicine.

I recall years ago reading David Allen's book, Getting Things Done.  In this book, Allen presents a way to organize your life.  Central to his premise is that we all make agreements with ourselves and others to do things.  As I recall, part of Allen's message is that we all need to get better and honoring the commitments we make.  I have a link to him in the credits below and encourage you to check him out if you'd like to learn more about him.  

I mention him as I'm going back to his book.  I'm also going to make the commitment right here, right now (thank you Van Halen) to be 100% on time for everything I commit to doing.  

I'll report back in a week with how I did.  In the meantime, please feel free to share with me any tips or tricks you have to be on time.  I know there are a ton of tools out there, from Google Calendar to other apps, alarms, ect.  I suppose the biggest one is to simply leave earlier.  The second may be to intentionally schedule less "stuff" and follow Allen's approach about the calendar being a sacred place for events and ONLY events.  These two things may be the cure to the malady that ails me.  

We shall see.
Be well my friends...and check your watch/smartphone!




Saturday, August 15, 2015

Healing in my Hometown

The plaque commemorating the location of the first Chiropractic adjustment.  Photo by J. Berta.

Greetings All:

Today, my wife, Dawn, attended homecoming at the Palmer College of Chiropractic.  Today was the completion of a three-day gathering of alums and Chiropractors.  Palmer is universally recognized as the home of Chiropractic.  As someone who grew up in Davenport, the home of "The Fountainhead," and is married to a Chiropractor, Doctor of Chiropractic, or "DC," I have a unique perspective on this important aspect of our health-care system.

I've got a few links below to the history of Palmer and Chiropractic.  The opening photo is where the first Chiropractic adjustment took place over a century ago.

As I mentioned, I grew up in Davenport, also the home of Chiropractic.  When Dawn and I were dating, one of her friends and fellow students, totally sincere, said to me, "It must have been wonderful to grow up in the shadow of The Fountainhead of Chiropractic," or words to that effect.

I believe I retorted, "Or as us locals refer to it, 'the crazy people up the hill.'  (The hill would be Brady Street.)  That was a mean statement.  It's true the Palmer family had its fair share of drama.  (Show a family that doesn't have at least a little.)  And history is full of folks who did great things at the profound sacrifice to their personal life.  When I made that quip two decades ago, I did not truly know the first thing about Chiropractic and the people who founded it.  So, for the record, to the Palmers, I apologize. 

As with any healthcare system, there will be critics and supporters.  And to the supporters, there will be different theories, techniques, and practices favored by some and declined by others.  Ideas outside of the box become mainstream and "gospel truths" are thrown on the scrape pile of history.  Such is progress and such is life.

I have been under Chiropractic care for most of my adult life and am convinced it is part of living a better life.  Aside from my wife, Dawn, I have many friends who are Chiropractors and I know they make a profound difference in their patients' lives.  

I am proud that the hometown I grew up in is the home to this amazing and necessary part of health care.  I'd also be remiss not to mention Palmer's Military Care program.  Through this program, military members and their families can receive complimentary Chiropractic care.  Per the website citation below, this program has rendered over 13,500 care visits.  This is a wonderful service to the community and shows Palmer's commitment to honor military service.

If you are a skeptic of Chiropractic, I'd encourage you to learn more about it.  If you're concerned about the "force" used in an adjustment, please know there are techniques that involve minimal pressure on the body.  If you feel, "I just don't have time to get adjusted" think about how much time you will lose later in life from suffering with back pain.  

I do not believe Chiropractic is a cure-all.  If I have a headache, I am taking Advil.  I believe in vaccinations.  Yet I also believe that Chiropractic can play a meaningful role in living a fuller, happier, pain-free life.  Chiropractic is form of healing.  I'm grateful that this form of healing was founded in my hometown.

Be well my friends (no pun intended).


Monday, August 10, 2015

Everyone's Undefeated

Kinnick Stadium, home field of my beloved Iowa Hawkeyes, photo by J. Berta

Greetings All:

It's August.  While the days are clearly getting shorter, it is still quite warm and summer will be with us for several weeks.  School has is not starting for several weeks (thanks Gov B) and fall might as well be a million miles away.

Yet, it is not.  At least as far as a particular American past-time is concerned, football.  Ah football, how I love it so.  

Full disclosure, I never played football, organized at least.  My parents refused to let me play tackle football growing up.  While I seethed at that decision, it was likely for the best.  I mention this because I am clearly a spectator.  I'm not alone.

Football is probably the most popular sport in the world, save soccer.  (Pause for those "across the pond" who will say/yell "Hey Mate, it was football here long before you bloody treasonous colonists started picking up the ball and running with it!  Only the goalie can touch the ball, you wanker Yanks!")

Well, God save the Queen.  Oh, and by the way, We won the revolution, so we're going to call it football!   

Deep breath.  I feel better.

So back to the subject at hand, football.  As I write this, I suspect there is some coach studying film.  There is some high school kid who is signing off his Facebook account to go to sleep to get up early and run with other players.  There is a Soldier in Afghanistan who is logging onto her college website to see who is the starting QB.  My point is that the so-called "lazy days of summer" are anything for those involved with preparing for the upcoming football season.

For those of us who are fans, this is all about anticipation.  Anticipation of the new season.  Hopefully of victory, of all victories, of a trip to the national championship game and the inevitable hoisting of the championship trophy high as it is baptized in the blazing lights of flashing cameras.  

Of course, for all but one, that will NOT come to pass.  There will be loss.  There will be heartbreak.  There will be bad calls, dropped passes, missed blocks and improbably field goals made.

In the meantime, here's to the teams, ALL of the teams.  Here's to the teams who won't win a game, and yet will play hard every down, all 60 minutes.  Here's to the SEC upset that will be the talk of the town decades from now.  Here's to the Div III team that goes undefeated that no one knows about outside of that area code.  Yes, in the meantime, here's to everyone who straps on pads and snaps chinstrap.  

Revel in the moment, you warriors of the gridiron.  And celebrate this moment.  This moment, when you all, all...are undefeated.

Be well my friends,


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Rural Wedding

The site of the wedding I attended in Walcott, Iowa.  Photo by J. Berta.

Greetings All:

I had a wonderful experience recently.  My family and I were invited to a rural wedding in Walcott, Iowa.  For those of you who are not local, Walcott is a farming community not far from where we live.  Dawn, my wife, is a Chiropractor.  One of her patients was kind enough to invite her to her wedding.  Simply put, we had a great time.

I love weddings.  I have had the good fortune to attend ones of all degrees of formality.  I'd be a liar and a hypocrite to say I don't enjoy dressing up, I do.  Dawn and I make it a point to do at least a couple of formal events a year.

Still, I am a t-shirt/shorts and or jeans/sweatshirt kind of guy, climate directing.  So when I heard this was a "come comfortable, it's summer after all" wedding, I was all in.  

We arrived at the reception site and then were whisked by hay rack to the ceremony site at an actual, authentic farm.  The opening photo is where the ceremony was held.  What a gorgeous backdrop for an amazing ceremony.

Dawn, Cassie & Carly on the hay rack awaiting the tracker ride to the ceremony.  Photo by J. Berta.

As we arrived, there were two musicians, one playing a guitar, the other singing.  Prior to the ceremony, children ran, spreading their laughter with all of us.  I was pleased to see my old friend John perform the ceremony.  He's a lawyer by training and performed his task with a reverence worthy of any judge or man of the cloth.

The bride wore a lovely white gown.  There were no attendants, just the two of them.  Or, perhaps another way to look at it is this:  All of us were in the wedding party.  That is the feel this event had to it. 

I do not believe that a wedding has to be formal to be meaningful. This was a simple, yet wonderfully authentic affair and I was glad to be a guest at it.

We returned to the reception site and feasted on traditional Iowa fare.  In the back of an old pick up truck was plenty of beer.  The band, after being introduced by the bride, rocked the crowd well into the night.  We declined to dance the night away, yet still had a ton of fun.

I'll wrap up this post returning to my opening comments about the rural setting of this wedding.  While I live in Iowa, it is in a city.  Well, not a city in the sense of a New York or Chicago.  More like one of their suburbs with less traffic.  Yet everything is paved and and modern.  

Where this wedding was held was clearly out of the city.  It was where pavement gives way to gravel and dirt roads.  Where office buildings and strip malls are replaced by barns and farm houses.  As we rode (by hay rack) to the ceremony, we were surrounded by endless ears of corn.  They were straight and green, stretching towards the sky.  Corn is one of the things that Iowa is best known for.  It is food.  Food is life.  Without farms, there is no food, no life.  Farms are where soil and seed become one to create something greater than the sum of their parts.  

In many ways, it is similar to a wedding.  So where better to have a wedding than on a farm?  Where better indeed?

At the reception area there were a series of vintage trackers.  It was a great backdrop for photos.  Some could not resist the temptation to pose on them.  And, yes, I was one of them.

Your author hanging out on the tracker before the ceremony.  Photo by J. Berta.

They don't have this as a backdrop at the Hamptons, I'll assure you of that!

So here's to this wonderful rural wedding and hearty congrats to the bride and groom.  Thanks for letting us be a part of your special day in a most special background.

Be well my friends,

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Bix 7

My shoes, timer and bib from the 2015 Bix 7 Run.  Photo by J. Berta

Greetings All:

Last Saturday was the 41st running of the Quad Cities Bix 7 road race.  I did not have plans to run the whole thing, originally opting to do the "Quick Bix," the 2 mile race.  That would have been the intelligent thing to do, seeming how I had (ahem) failed to train at all for this event.  

For those of you not familiar with the "Bix 7," here's a bit of history:  The race came about 41 years ago after a local resident ran the Boston Marathon and was inspired to start a race here in town.  "Here in town" for those of you who are not locals is Davenport, Iowa. 

Originally, the race was part of the jazz festival in honor of the local son, Leon Bismark "Bix" Beiderbecke.  A phenomenally talented jazz musician, Beiderbecke was also a chronic alcoholic who succumbed to the fate of many artists who could not deal with their demons.  He was dead at 28.  A sad fate, to be sure.

And then his music was all but forgotten.  Then, as often happens to the past, folks decide it is worth remembering.  That is where the jazz festival comes into play.  Back some 40+ years ago, a group of jazz fans got together and started the Bix Jazz Festival.  It became well known and if your into that type of music, it was a great event.  Even if you were not, then it's still a summer street party and who doesn't like that?  

The run started as a sideshow to the jazz festival.  That did not last long.  From a field of 80-some runners the first year, now it is pushing 12,000 to 16,000 runners and walkers.  It is considered a premiere road race and I've heard it is the biggest non-marathon in the Midwest.  I've got some citations below to the race if you'd like more information on it.  

Now, as to my "participation" in it this year.  My original plan was to run the "Quick Bix," a two-mile race that lets runners participate in the run up Brady Street (a fairly challenging hill) and then get to the post-race party with various refreshments.  One of my friends commented last year, "I did the Quick Bix and there was no line for the beer!"  

As I mentioned, that was my plan.  That actually made sense as I had (ahem) not trained.  That morning, as I was slugging coffee and sipping water, I was loading up songs on my iPhone.  I realized that even with my lumbering pace, there was no way I'd get to even half of these songs if I just did two miles.  So I left myself open to a "game day decision" about running the whole thing.

As the race started and Bob Mould's "The War" blasted through my earbuds, I was on the fence about turning off for the shorter race.  What to do?

Then, I made the decision.  "Fuck it," I said to myself.  Who knows, I might have even said it out loud.  (Like anyone would have heard me or cared.)  So I ran the whole thing.

I didn't win.

No, in fact, my time was a "blazing" 1:40:56 by my official score in the paper.  Here's what my watch said as I huffed across the finish line:

My "unofficial" time.  Photo by J. Berta

So even though I was really, really slow, I had a great time at the race.  I got to experience the whole event.  I made it a point to fist bump (as I was a sweaty mess) my friend Ken who was blocking off a street with his Harley Davidson.  I got a hose sprayed on me, said hi to friends on the path, blew a kiss at the Marilyn Monroes on the route (and got one blown back at me, thank you very much) and even managed to sprint that last...oh quarter mile.  In other words, I got the whole experience.

I even got a photo with these guys...

"The Kings and I," photo by J. Berta

My point is this:  When in doubt, chase the experience.  Be smart, of course.  I ran very slow and like to think I would have stopped had my body told me to.  Yet at the same time, I think we talk ourselves out of doing things, a LOT of things, because we're afraid of what could happen, what could go wrong.  We worry what others might think, that they will laugh or mock us for trying.  

To hell with them and all the other cynics, critics, naysayers and general buzz-killers.  If you want to do something that involves a challenge, yet offers a reward, then do it.  The Marines have a great saying:  "Pain is temporary."  They're right.

So next year, I hope to see you at Bix, if you're in town.  If you're not ready to run it, that's fine, walk it.  If you're not ready for the full 7 miles, do the Quick Bix.  Of course, check with your physician and Chiropractor (you do have both, right?) before training.  Ah yes, training.  

I think I'll do that for next year.  I know I can do better, if only to get down to "double digits" in minutes.  And I'll have that experience to write about in this blog.
Be well my friends,

This blog post is dedicated to my friend Ken and the countless other volunteers who make the Bix 7 the wonderful event it is, thanks.