The vote on the ACA Replacement from Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is on Thursday, and the 216 votes needed to pass it may not be there. Various whip counts show it to be very close. One count shows that 21 members of the Freedom Caucus will vote no, which would be enough to sink the bill. Another shows 27 Freedom Caucusers and an additional 20 moderates, which would definitely be enough to sink the bill. To increase the chances of passage, President Donald Trump visited the Hill yesterday to try to intimidate opponents of the bill into voting for it. Specifically, he said: "Give me your vote or you may lose your seat in 2018." Implicit in that threat was a suggestion that any Republican voting against the bill would be primaried in 2018, with Trump tweeting support for the challenger. Trump named Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, by name when he said: "Mark, I'm gonna come after you."Click here for full story
FBI Director James Comey told the House Intelligence Committee yesterday that the FBI is looking into Trump-Russia collusion but he didn't have much to say about it now. He did have something to say about President Donald Trump's claim that Barack Obama tapped his phone during the campaign, namely that he has no evidence to support such a claim. This was the big story everywhere yesterday. Here are a few of the headlines, which are linked to the stories in each newspaper.Click here for full story
FBI Director James Comey will testify in public today before the House Intelligence Committee. The Committee members want to know what the FBI is doing to investigate Russia's meddling in the U.S. election. The FBI has already said that the Russians hacked the DNC email server and released the emails through WikiLeaks, but the committee members want to know other things as well. The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), wants to know if there were U.S. persons who helped the Russians in any way. He also wants to know if there was any collusion. Comey was burned last October when he released information about the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server before the investigation was complete. He is unlikely to take many chances today and probably won't divulge much.Click here for full story
Yesterday started at 4:20am and finished around 12:30am Sunday morning.
I got up early, got ready and headed up to Bellingham for the 25th anniversary of the Chuckanut 50k. I didn’t really have expectations or high hopes for my race, but that was true last year also and I ended up finishing (last year) in 5:24 which was good for 3rd place in my age group. This year however, the forecast was for lots of rain in the day before the race and during the race so I knew it would be sloppy and my main goal was staying upright.
The elite competition was strong this year – Sage Canaday, Hayden Hawks, David Laney, Max King (course record holder) and a bunch of near-elite runners showed up on the men’s side, and the women’s race included YiOu Wang and Camille Herron, among others.
I’ve written about Chuckanut several already times, so I’ll just hit the highlights:
- Max King broke his own course record, finishing in 3:33:11 in sloppy conditions, beating Hayden “The New Jim Walmsley” Hawks by just 31 seconds (3:33:42). Someone at the finish line told me Hayden was closing quickly but just ran out of real estate. Must have been fun to watch them fly across the finish line. Sage took 3rd. A local unknown (to me at least) Ladia Alberston-Junkins took first in the women’s race (in her first 50k), YiOu Wang took second, another relative unknown from Spokane – Rachel Jaten – took 3rd (and 1st masters) also in her first 50k.
- Some friends had fantastic days. My friend Jeff K – who had never had a good race at Chuckanut – ran 4:41 and took 3rd in his age group while beating some very good runners. Masazumi took 1st masters on a recently-sprained ankle. Dave L won our age group (as usual). Roger L placed 22nd overall.
- It wasn’t the worst day ever for me, but it wasn’t the best either. I finished in 5:53:10, about 30 minutes slower than last year – 7th in my AG. I had some regrets looking at the results – 6 minutes faster would have moved me to 4th, and 15 minutes faster would have gotten me 2nd. But I stayed upright and got a good workout for Boston and Canyons 100k next month.
- I’m not sure exactly where the time went for me, but I think it breaks down something like this:
- ~5 minutes for gear issues. I’ve always run Chuckanut with just a handheld bottle and no extra clothes. With the weather though, and my recent experience getting really cold at Black Canyon, I decided to err on the side of caution and wore an ultra vest to carry a raincoat, warm hat and gloves. With hindsight, I would have been better skipping the vest, starting the race in gloves and putting the warm hat in a small SpiBelt. As it was, the vest caused my iPod shuffle to come off my shorts and in trying to get it back on I managed to drop it in the mud. I had to work upstream through runners to pick it up. Once I did, the iPod didn’t work great anymore and I lost another minute or two fiddling with it as I ran before finally taking it off and sticking it in the vest. I also waited too long to put on my gloves, and by the time I did my hands didn’t work very well so I again had to pull aside and work the gloves on. I never wore the hat or the rain coat – once I got the gloves on my arm warmers, wool shirt and baseball cap were enough.
- 5-10 minutes because it looks like the course was a little longer this year. After running a slightly different course the past few years, they reverted to the original course this year for the anniversary. This didn’t stop Max King from running it faster, but other people took a little longer and my Garmin track is 1.2 miles longer than last year.
- That leaves ~15 minutes for a combo of mud, getting old, and giving up. I had to pull aside 3 or 4 times in the first 15 miles to deal with stuff, and each time I did, lots of runners passed me. I thought it would even out – if I had a good day in me I’d pass them back later in the race. But I didn’t realize that each one of those people would chew up the trail a little more in front of me. It looks like I lost most of my time in the more technical, muddy sections. So in a sense, the slower I went, the slower I got because the trail degraded a little more. Part of the problem is that it was rainy, foggy, and kind of dark, and my old man eyes don’t see quite as well in those conditions – wanting to stay upright I went a little more cautiously than I might have. At some point, it was clear I wouldn’t be close to last year’s time and I didn’t seem to be having a great day, so I reset my goal to finishing under six hours which seemed possible but not a sure thing.
- On the plus side, I did go pretty fast for the last 10 miles down Fragrance Lake Road and on flat final 10k. Probably not quite as fast as at the Lost Lake 50k or Chuckanut last year, but definitely not in give-up mode, and I passed most of the other racers I encountered. My watching was showing ~7 minute pace over the last mile or so.
- The best part by far was seeing lots of friends at least briefly throughout the day. Counting racers, volunteers, and spectators, I probably saw 30 people from around the NW that I tend to only see at races. Thanks to all the people who volunteered.
- I got a kiss from my friend Yvonne at the Kissing Booth at the Chuckanut Ridge aid station. Yvonne just ran 131 miles in 24 hours, qualifying for the Irish National 24 hour team – and will represent the home team at the World Championships in Belfast in July.
- There were also plenty of elite sightings, e.g. Ellie Greenwood was out cheering for us, David Laney recognized me from seeing each other at Greenlake, Sage was walking around with his mom at the finish, and Max King was next to me as we dropped off our finish line bags.
I left fairly quickly after the race, drove home, cleaned up, ate, and took a short nap. Right around the time that I’d normally think about bed, Janet and I dragged ourselves out of the house to see Japandroids at the Neptune. (If you live west of the Rockies, you might have heard the show.) We’d never heard of the opening act (The Uptown Controllers?) but feared that we’d go to sleep if we waited so we were there in time for the start of the show. The crowd had the usual northwest mix of college students, lumbersexuals, and people older than 30. It’s possible we weren’t the oldest people there.
It turned out the opener was Craig Finn (of The Hold Steady) and his solo band (The Uptown Controllers) – that was fun. After he played, we pushed our way towards the stage, trying to avoid the usual situation where very tall people push right in front of our formerly-awesome spots on the floor. We ended up 3 feet from the stage, about where the Japandroids drummer plays, with no tall people in front of us and a clear view.
Japandroids opened up with Near To The Wild Heart Of Life. About 20 seconds into the song, someone in the audience crawled onto the stage and then fell backwards onto the people to the left of us. “Huh – haven’t been to a show like this for a while”. A moment later I was almost knocked over as a mosh pit broke out just to the left of us. Janet eased away and I pushed to the stage to brace myself. A few minutes later – maybe during Adrenaline Nightshift – another guy near me pushed onto the stage, somehow using his face for leverage. He stood there for a moment and then suddenly flew his 200+ pound body into the crowd at high speed and a flat angle. There was a commotion where he landed – I guess everyone ducked – and security helped him off the floor. After that, the drummer said something like “It look liked that was self-inflicted, but take care of each other out there.”
Things settled down a tiny bit after that, but we watched the rest of the show with half an eye on the chaos to our left. Japandroids played for at least a couple hours, all at Fire’s Highway energy level. It was their last show in the US before they return home to Vancouver, and they liked the crowd energy. A lot of sound from just two people – it felt like my body throbbed for about an hour after the show from the Continuous Thunder.
No sooner had Exile #3 arrived home from her weekend away, than she was heading off again, this time to the dance studio, to help run a party for the dance students. E5N1 qualified as one of those, so he went too. There were games and dancing, and, for some reason, E5N1 arrived home with a Union Jack painted on his face. We'd been busy preparing his US passport renewal request while they were out, but decided that maybe we'd better delay taking his passport photo. Not sure if they'd appreciate the face art.
I spent much of the weekend in a wrestling match with a migraine but did enjoy strolling through Portland yesterday. There is still a lot of snow - including an impressive amount that had been blown inside the multi-storey car park - but the sky was blue, and the temperature was quite pleasant if, like me, you were wearing a knee-length down coat.
The week ahead is a full one, made fuller by the need to catch up on events postponed by snow, including a whole extra day of school. Won't the young Exiles be delighted!
President Donald Trump's personal intervention in getting House conservatives to drop their opposition to the AHCA bill means he owns it now, for better or worse. If it passes Congress and he signs it, he can (and will) rightly take much of the credit for getting it passed. However, to voters who lose their healthcare as a result, he is one who will get the blame. And that group includes a fair number of people who voted for him.Click here for full story
This was a lot of fun - and more affordable for three than for five - and we followed up with some wandering in the Old Port and some early dinner before heading home.
My brother shared this comic with me a while back. I think it captures something—something about CrossFit, but also about how people react to anyone who’s “really into” anything.I’m not a crossfitter, but my expanding interests in fitness and movement have produced similarly horrified reactions to the prospect of having to engage with me on the topic—less frantic only because people are not literally trapped in an elevator with me.
I bring this up because the recent book Lift, by Daniel Kunitz, can be read as a love song to CrossFit (although he has done a pretty good job of discreetly tucking away most of the CrossFit stuff near the end of the book).
The book is more than just one thing, and even more than a love song to CrossFit it’s a fascinating cultural history of fitness.
Kunitz uses the term New Frontier Fitness to refer to the whole emerging cluster of practices centered around the idea of “functional” fitness: CrossFit, MovNat, Parkour, AcroYoga, obstacle course racing, and any number of gymnastic and calisthenic exercise practices. Kunitz doesn’t mention Katy Bowman’s work, but it obviously fits in as well.
A key thesis of the book is that the motivating genius of New Frontier Fitness is not without precedent: It springs directly from ancient Greek ideals of fitness, and he references both ancient Greek representations of a fit body (such as the Doryphoros sculpture) and statements by ancient Greeks not unlike Georges Hébert’s admonition “Be strong to be useful.”
This cluster of ideas—in particular that fitness was a moral and social obligation, but also that functional fitness produces a beautiful body as a side-effect (rather than as a goal)—largely disappeared after the Greeks, except in tiny subcultures such as the military. It has only reemerged in the past few years as the various things that Kunitz refers to as New Frontier Fitness.
In between—and the 2000-year history of this makes up of the center of Kunitz’s book—there were many things that were not this particular tradition of functional fitness, but instead were aimed at producing a particular type of body (body-building, aerobics, etc.)
It’s impossible for me to talk about Daniel Kunitz’s Lift without comparing it to another book—Christopher McDougall’s Natural Born Heroes. They are similar in at least two ways. First, they both compare modern fitness culture to that of the ancient Greeks. Second, they both appear to have been written just for me.
A third book that I read recently but haven’t written about is Spark, by John J. Ratey, which overlaps in the sense that all talk about intensity as a key aspect of exercise to produce functional fitness. (If all you’re interested in is appearance and body composition, you can get most of the way there with a diligent application of low-intensity exercise, but some amount of intensity is highly beneficial for functionality and brain health.)
All three books are worth reading.
Yesterday Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a key Senate centrist, said that she will not vote for the healthcare bill being proposed by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) in its current form. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has previously said he will not vote for it either. If one more Republican senator defects, the bill will not be able to pass the Senate.Click here for full story
It was a bit of a rush-job and so it is perhaps not too surprising that it failed to catch one of the little folk. It was, however, visited by one who left some gold-wrapped chocolates and a handy leprechaun name generator. We therefore discovered the following:
I am Musical McCheesy,
Exile #2 is Cheerful McNoodles,
Exile #3 is Grouchy O'Lucky*,
Exile #4 is Bubbly O'Lucky,
and E5N1 is Eager O'Really.
* I used my nickname for her because I liked the result!
I still struggle with the tension between time spent moving and time spent writing, even as I come to recognize that the tension may not even exist. So I love this post by Katy Bowman, on being A Writer Who Moves, A Mover Who Writes.
Culturally, we still hold the belief that the relationship between time and productivity is direct. As if writing consists solely of the output of words, your typing speed being the indicator of how long it would take to write a thousand-word word article (ten minutes) or a novel (one week). But of course, time spent coming up with ideas and themes, and organizing and reorganizing these threads in our minds, is also “writing.” The trouble is, we’ve come to see sitting at a desk as an integral part of the writing process. We imagine the mulling, the idea-forming, the organizing, the process—the creativity—can occur only when the butt–chair circuit is closed. I (and researchers) have found the opposite to be true: movement can be a conduit for creativity.
Today I will live this truth: I will move and I will write.
Donald Trump released his first budget yesterday to a chorus of boos. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), the former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and several others called it "pie in the sky." Other Republicans in Congress weren't too worried about the proposed budget though, saying "Presidents propose, Congress disposes." In other words, Congress is going to make major changes to the budget before passing it.Click here for full story