How I manipulated the news

I once was involved in a scheme to provide false information that I hoped would appear in a large daily newspaper. I was successful, and I was never caught.S-R

This may seem like a serious issue. As well, you may think I concocted this to realize a benefit for myself, which is true. However, let me explain.

When I was in high school, there was an all-comers track meet put on by the Spokane Parks Department every Wednesday evening during the summer. My best friends, Dave and Mike Dixon, often entered with me.

The field of runners was small, and we usually had no trouble winning the races we entered. After the race, a guy recorded the times and names of the winners. The next day, the results were printed in the sports section of the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

Being a little mischievous, we saw an opportunity to have some fun with this.

One week I took first in the mile and said my name was Marty Miler. A fellow competitor, amused about this, commented on how apropos my name was. However, the next day, an editor must have thought it was a misspelling because the name was changed to Marty Miller.

The Dixons and I continued our weekly mischief, and we were delighted whenever the goofy, made-up names got into the newspaper.

One week the three of us and another friend formed a mile-relay team. Around this time, the world mile record, held by Jim Ryun of the U.S., was broken by Filbert Bayi of Tanzania. A couple months later, John Walker of New Zealand broke it again. Another top runner, Marty Liquori of the U.S., was also running great times.

Only the last names of the winning relay team were printed in the paper. We won the mile relay, and when the guy who recorded the results asked our names, we hatched our plan.

To avoid being obvious, we changed the first names of the milers I just mentioned. Anyone following track and field would have caught on, even with the changed first names, but apparently the result-taker was not a track and field guy.

The next day, the Spokesman-Review reported that the team of Ryun, Liquori, Bayi and Walker won the mile relay.

It’s the only time in Spokane history that four of the fastest milers in the world came to town to make stars of themselves at the parks department all-comers meet.

Running commando-style

Maybe it seems a little racy going commando-style, which most people know is not wearing underwear. However, most men’s running shorts are outfitted with an internal “holder” which substitutes for underwear and prevents flopping around.

Though I like to dress warmly during the cold months, on warm summer days, it’s more comfortable to rely on the built-in holder. As well, some running short styles are pretty short, and your underwear could show, which I don’t think is fashionable.

When I was younger, all running shorts were short, so it was common to go commando. However, occasionally some problems came up.

Over time, the elastic bands in the holder become less taut, and on occasion it fails to perform. Since most running shorts are made of thin and light material, when this happens, flopping occurs, and it can be obvious.

This has happened to me a few times, and I’m faced with the difficult choice of putting my hands down my shorts to make an adjustment, or just riding it out.

If I’m in a somewhat secluded area, an adjustment is quick and easy. I’m reluctant to fiddle inside my shorts if I think people can see, so usually I’ll keep running until I come to a good spot.

Someday, however, perhaps it’ll become fashionable to run commando in shorts that don’t have the internal holder. In that case, because of my experience, I won’t have much trouble adapting to this new style.

Front yard marathon threatened by oil fracking

Drilling equipment, storage tanks and big diesel generators may soon be sitting in my front yard.

An oil drilling company is obtaining permits to start a fracking operation in my front yard. I explained how I had to cancel this year’s Pine and Basalt Marathon in a recent post, but plans were on for resuming the race next year.

After arriving home from work last week, I found a sign in my yard saying my lot is being rezoned from single-family residential to industrial-unrestricted.Jim's public notice signjim's public notice

I found out the company petitioning for the change has an office in town, and I went right over. At first, no one would talk to me, but after demanding answers, a guy finally met with me.

He said I own the land, but I don’t own the mineral rights. When I pointed out how hard I worked to transform my yard from a lawn to a natural setting with indigenous plants mimicking the Eastern Washington landscape, he said I’m a liar because it’s nothing but an empty, weedy field.

My front yard is not an empty, weedy field! I also have a thriving population of indigenous animals that Ruby Redpepper helped me establish.

“Yeah, we noticed the wildlife, he said to me. “We’ll have to get rid of them cuz they’ll be in the way.”

Oh, I got hopping mad. I told him there was no way a fracking operation was going to happen in my front yard. He said a team of lawyers will ensure that it will.

I decided to take this issue to the streets. You’ll find me marching from dawn to dusk in front of my house as I fight this terrible injustice.Jim protesting

The truth about Petra

Petra has been a character in an on-going romantic drama in this blog, and many people have inquired if she’s real.

Some lines of dialogue I’ve written for myself and Petra actually occurred. In several posts, including the very first one, I describe being swept off my feet by her. This also happened to me. However, Petra is not real. She is based on someone else.

A bit more than a decade ago, a woman held a position lasting a few months at my jobsite. It didn’t take long for me to become especially attracted to her.

Though she seemed interested in me, I thought it could be just friendliness and politeness. One day I walked past her as she chatted with a work colleague. Our eyes met briefly, and as we walked in opposite directions, I looked back at her. At the same moment, she did too. When our eyes met, I saw the same excitement that I had for her. I knew the attraction was mutual.

We talked often and sat next to each other at lunch. But we did not talk about “us”. Away from work, I thought of her all the time, and I developed the greatest desire I’ve ever had in my life – to simply be at her side.

As the end of her stay neared, I broke our silence and told her how I felt. Arrangements were made to keep in contact despite it not quite being appropriate. This arrangement was discovered and reported to a supervisor. It caused turmoil and plenty of emotional pain for us both. A workplace barrier was put in place between us. It also threw a very wet blanket on our attempt to be together.

After she finished her duties at my worksite, I spent several months trying to overcome the obstacles that kept us apart. Contacting her was not possible, and I was devastated not being in her company.

Though I not once touched her, I thought of her constantly. My mood alternated from pleasantness of imagining doing simple, everyday things with her, followed by a big sadness.

This may not be manly to admit, but my grief was so intense, I could not avoid breaking down in tears several times a day. Sometimes there were people around, and it was a chore to stifle it or find some privacy.

The months went by and I went on long walks lasting hours to alleviate my despondency. One afternoon as a bus came toward me, I got the idea to throw myself in its path.

I exalted this woman to such a degree that the term His Airness, which was used to describe Michael Jordan, I modified and thought of her as Her Wonderfulness.

One afternoon I was working in my backyard, and as I day-dreamed pleasantly about Her Wonderfulness, a gust of wind knocked down a storm window, shattering it on rocks. The analogy of a dream being shattered did not escape me. I was upset, but I refused to accept it.

A year and a half after our separation, a reception for a retiring co-worker was planned, and my discarnate mentor highlighted the possibility of Her Wonderfulness attending. I hoped that my long wait to reconnect might happen.

Her Wonderfulness did come, however, she was in the company of a man. I learned that he was her new boyfriend. She and I did not talk.

A few months later, several co-workers and I attended a seminar, and my discarnate mentor hinted over and over that the boyfriend was a rebound relationship, and since Her Wonderfulness and I worked in the same field, she’d be there, and we’d have a chance to talk.

I was disappointed to find that she wasn’t in attendance. At the lunch break, my work colleagues went to a nearby restaurant. I wasn’t feeling so social, so I spent my lunch sitting alone on a park bench.

As the seminar was about to resume, a co-worker, the only person I’d confided in about Her Wonderfulness, told me she’d been at the restaurant they went to. She came to their table to show off her engagement ring.

These disappointments are just a few of many involving this woman. I wasn’t often bitter or angry. Instead, after the sadness and grief of each disappointment passed, I regained hope that eventually we’d reconnect.

Around two years after the incident that initiated our separation, my daily crying began to ease, but it took more time to get completely over her.

My discarnate mentor informs me that my pursuit of her, and being thwarted over and over again, has been the most important part of the preparation for my future role, which I detailed in the post My Daily Stress.

The last I’ve heard, she is married and has children. So many years after it happened, the shattering storm window incident has held true.

Though I’m no longer despondent, grief-stricken or need to go on long, daily walks, on rare occasions, something will trigger the emotion that is attached to my experiences with her, and I will break down just as I used to do every day.

Twice-a-year laundering

There’s a Seinfeld episode in which George ponders buying enough clothes so he can  always have a clean outfit, yet wash his laundry only once a year. Using this as inspiration, I’m developing a system to achieve the more modest goal of twice-a-year laundering, which I believe will be award-winning.

This saves lots of time and money, and in addition, if you air-dry your laundry, you can shave even more dollars off your utility bill. For years I’ve been stringing a line between the metal posts of my patio for hanging laundry.clothes dryingRunning clothes, which are a very needy segment of the laundry population, deserve special attention.

Though running on a hot day can leave a T-shirt soaked with sweat, I’ve found it can be worn a few times before starting to smell. And even then, since I often run alone, I can continue wearing the same odoriferous shirt without offending anyone. Most longtime runners, after years of entering races, have enough shirts to easily go six months without washing.

Here are important strategies to follow if you want to be a laundry superstar, too:

  • Don’t wear a coat when it rains. Getting your clothes soaked is just like washing them.
  • If any item starts to really smell, store it overnight in an empty pizza box. Your clothing will smell like pizza, and who doesn’t like the smell of pizza?
  • When showering or taking a bath, use soiled underwear or socks just like you would a wash cloth.
  • On rainy days, lay out your laundry in the yard. Even if it’s cold and your clothes freeze, shaking them provides plenty of ice shavings for homemade Slurpees.
  • On warm summer days, choose the no-clothing option. Your friends’ shock will change to admiration when you explain how you’re conserving our planet’s precious resources.

Running straight to the bathroom

An issue many runners have before a race is using the bathroom.

Should I go here or find some bushes? I don't like the smell coming from that thing.

Should I use this thing or find some bushes? I’m not enjoying this smell.

Early in my running career, I used to get very nervous at track meets. I really had to go just before my race, but the output didn’t match the need to go. It became obvious that being nervous had an effect on need to urinate.

Wait - thing is flooding. Maybe I need to launch a rescue operation.

I don’t like those two wet spots. This lot should be declared a Superfund clean up site.

Sometimes the call of nature arises very urgently in the middle of a race. A friend trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon told me she had to go just two miles into the Windermere Marathon in Spokane, so she stopped at a port-a-potty. She missed qualifying for Boston by thirteen seconds.

There’s a YouTube video showing a very famous woman marathoner stopping at the side of the course during a marathon and relieving herself in front of spectators and a running camera. Obviously this was a very embarrassing, yet best option for a dire circumstance.

I’ve never had to stop mid-race to go, but when I was younger, on two occasions I was caught too far from a public restroom while on a winter training run in a residential area. The need to go was so urgent I could not put it off, and I’m not talking No. 1 here.

Knocking on someone’s door would be asking too much, so searching for the best secluded spot was the only option. Yet a typical neighborhood in broad daylight does not have many secluded spots.

In both cases, I solved my issue in a different way. However in one of the cases, “solved” was not a delightful outcome at all. I’ll leave you to ponder what happened.

Petra coming home!

When Petra accepted a job offer from the National Institute of Running Sciences in Washington, DC, I was very upset saying sayonara to her and our plans of living a lifestyle we call intense realism. However, I talked to Petra on the phone yesterday, and she’s moving back to Spokane.

After getting off the phone with Petra, I jumped for joy.

After getting off the phone with Petra, I jumped for joy.

She has already given her notice and put a deposit down on a place here in town. An incident the first month on the job as director of corporate relations led to the change.

Things started so well that Petra was looking forward to a long career at the Institute. However, one day a group of employees held a spur-of-the-moment stairs vs. elevator race in the Institute building, which happens frequently.

But this time, the Institute’s CEO was part of the group, and he challenged the newbie, Petra, to a race covering twelve floors. The CEO is in his mid-40’s, an excellent runner, and Petra figured he would easily outrun her elevator ride.

In a rare circumstance, no one got on or off the elevator, and it picked up speed with each floor. The CEO also ran into a big group of employees who were going down the stairs for lunch. Petra reached the twelfth floor first, and the CEO begrudgingly acknowledged losing. However, he looked quite displeased the rest of the afternoon. Petra figured losing to a subordinate who was also new on the job did not sit well with him.

A few days later, she was moved from her large, corner office with lots of windows to a cramped, interior one with none. The CEO stopped talking to her and didn’t include her in important meetings.

Petra thinks he felt totally emasculated even though she hadn’t done anything but ride an elevator to the twelfth floor. Trying to interact with the CEO was like talking to a brick wall. Petra said, “There was nothing I could do, and I didn’t see the situation changing anytime soon, so I gave my notice.”

Though I felt badly for Petra, I am so glad she’s coming back to Spokane. And she told me she’s glad things turned out this way because she can’t believe she passed up the chance to live the intense realism lifestyle we envisioned.