Sunday, February 28, 2010

Just leave us in a position to win late...

What a game. The best team won. O Canada. Nice Olympics our neighbors to the north put on.

I am a licensed coach, of both soccer, when I used to coach my sons' recreational teams, and running. I just finished watching the finals of Olympic hockey. The NHL's best player, Canada's Sidney Crosby, beat the tourney's best goalie, American Ryan Miller, in OT.

When I coached my young charges in soccer, I asked them to only put our team in a position to win or tie late in the game. Only once in four years did these young suburban warriors fail to do that, a blowout loss. Otherwise, we won several games against more talented teams because we were hanging around at the end.

The American Olympic hockey team, less talented, hung around on goalie Miller's stellar performance and turned a 2-1 deficit into a 2-2 sudden-death OT showdown due to the American coach's brilliant coaching, pulling his goalie with two minutes to go and scoring, with the man advantage, with less than half a minute to go in regulation. With the chance of victory riding on the snap of anybody's wrist in OT, Canada prevailed.

I loved it. An all-time classic. O Canada. Go USA.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Storm Two

We're supposed to get rain today or tomorrow which might finally wash away the piles of dirty snowbanks lying everywhere from the double set of blizzards we were hit with earlier this month. It's been the snowiest winter ever in DC.

The first storm was fun, because you could go down and play in it as it fell and afterwards, although it was deep. The second storm arrived four days later and was brutal. It came with a howling wind, causing it to snow sideways. It was frigid, left an icy shell of top level snow and was no fun. It forced the snow inside the house.

The next day did dawn, however.

The streets were impassable.

Some people had fun with it though.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Storm One

Here are some pictures from the first of two heavy snowstorms that hit the DC area this month. This is the twenty-five incher (in my town). The blob on the left is my pick 'em up truck; the two black tips are the ends of the extended windshield wipers.

It took all day to dig out.

The next storm, the bad one, was coming.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ruminations on snowy weekends

DC’s third snowstorm in ten days only dropped a trace amount of snow last night so federal offices opened again after a two-hour delay. Walking anywhere by navigating alongside moving traffic, because many sidewalks along arterial roads are not shoveled, is still tricky. The temperature has hovered around freezing since the first storm so no melting is going on.

The city was filled with huge construction equipment working over the weekend. Tracked earth movers filled dump trucks with frozen blocks of snow from snow piles on every street corner for removal, improving sight lines immensely and helping finding parking. Whenever a heavy piece of equipment clanked on down to the next corner, its tracks scuffed and scarred the streets and tore up asphalt patches in the roadway. This is a series of storms that will keep us paying for street paving well into next summer.

Around my house I have been able to observe the use of my yard from trails in the snow across it, which is interesting. There is a feral cat that lives in the open space behind my fence line (the W&OD Trail) and he uses my yard a lot for concealment during the day. He leaves tell-tale tracks going across the undisturbed snow in my back yard each morning. I have also discovered that a group of boys regularly vaults my anchor fence and uses my side yard to get from the street to the open space and back again, which is okay. After all, I was a boy once too.

There’s no warm-up in the foreseeable future, so the snowy conditions are going to be here for awhile, apparently. I have a sibling who lives in the Twin Cities who would feel right at home at my house.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Another Chance

Lunch today was positively devine at Clare & Don's Beach Shack in Falls Church, Dan. I'm sorry you couldn't make it. It certainly isn't school that kept you away, since you're currently "between semesters."

The Onion Rings were delish. I left a couple for you. The Kona I enjoyed while waiting for you ruled, and when I despaired of you ever showing, the PK Burger I ordered, a delicious and potentially lethal concoction of medium-rare fatty hamburger, melted pepper jack and BBQ pulled pork piled high atop it, was other-worldly. All for under $20. The joint was favorably written up in this week's Falls Church News Press.

Your birthday is later this month. Conveniently, it falls on a weekend. At noon on your birthday I'll be enjoying lunch at Ray's Hellburger in Arlington at 1713 Wilson Boulevard. The place where the prez and veep went for lunch last year, soon after the beer summit. Please, come join me and we'll start catching up. Seven years absence is a long time, too long, don't you think?

Because after you reach majority age, the ball will be in your court. I was always there for you and your two older brothers, son. You know where I live and work and my number is in the book.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day, Dan

Happy Valentine's Day, Daniel W. Lamberton. I hope to see you tomorrow (President's Day holiday) at noon for lunch on me at Clare and Don's Beach Shack in Falls Church next to the State Theatre. Be there or be square! x x o o Love, Dad.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Slowly Recovering

Friday's commute to work took me two hours, thanks to the aftereffects of the recent twin blizzards which had kept the federal government closed since Monday. Mostly I walked in the roadways to the nearest open Metro station (all above-ground stations were closed when the system opened), which was open, a few miles away. I shared the single plowed lane in each direction with cars.

Curse on you folks who actually shovel your sidewalk but don't clear a path through the snow bank at the end of the walkway to the street, leaving pedestrians to precariously climb over a towering, jagged snow wall at the end of the block. My journey on the frozen, rutted surface while jogging down traffic lanes as passing traffic threw up salt-laden road spray has caused the tendinitis in my tender ankle, which has prevented me from running for the past four months, to flare up again.

Metro had a derailment as well, slightly injuring three patrons and snarling the already overtaxed system. Metro is the deadliest mass transit system in the U.S. with a horrible safety record as its infrastructure inexorably deteriorates thanks to aging and neglect.

When I returned from work all of the stations had been restored to service but there were tremendous crowds in the system because it was so slow with such long waits between trains. I couldn't board the first train due to overcrowding but I got on the second train that came by, barely. Two stops later, as yet more people wedged aboard, I seriously wondered if it was possible to suffocate in so overcrowded a car as a crush of entering people forced me against an upright pole in a breathtaking press. I kept reminding myself that I am not claustrophobic as I tried to keep my diaphragm constantly filled with the stank air.

More snow is expected Monday and the federal government has already announced that it will be closed.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Good Ol' Days

After a week of being closed due to record snowfalls, federal offices are open on a limited schedule. Three blizzards in one season has overtaxed the DC area, and for me to get to work today, I would have to walk five miles to (and presumably back again from) the nearest underground Metro Station alongside an icy snowbank in roadways that are down to two lanes, sharing the road with moving traffic because many sidewalks aren't shoveled. More snow is expected on Monday.

A year ago I was sailin' the Keys, mon.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


It's official. This is the snowiest winter (54+ inches) in recorded history in DC, with six weeks to go.

My office has been closed since last Friday. That's also the last day I received any mail, two blizzards ago.

It reminds me of when I lived in Colorado, all except for the closed-office part. All of the sidewalks are shoveled and the sun is doing its work on the icy parts.

Snowshoveling promotes neighborhood closeness. The standoffish couple across the street were shoveling the ice chunks left by the snowplow at the head of their driveway this morning in preparation to driving away and going to work. I went over to help clear the debris so they could get underway.

Did I say they were standoffish? My appearance to "help" mortified them. They started shoveling feverishly to complete the task in as little time as possible. We finished swiftly, they thanked me and drove quickly away. Snowshoveling really brought us closer.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Isn't Education More Important than Getting Even?

Education has always been important to my family. My father and brother went to Yale. My uncle went to Princeton, and I have sisters who went to Columbia, NYU and Carleton. I went to UVA.

Unfortunately, I lost all ability to exert any parental guidance over any of my three children due to parental alienation syndrome or PAS (which some people term as child abuse) during my interminable divorce. None of my children has visited me, or communicated with a single relative of mine, since 2003. The last communication of any sort I had with any of them was in 2007.

Occasionally I pick up scraps of information about them from casual conversations during chance encounters with nodding acquaintances. More intel came in the mail this month. The Virginia Pre-paid College Tuition Plan sent me its yearly summaries. I own three fully-paid plans with them as the beneficiaries.

One child, who went to the premier technological public high school in the country, has all four years left on his plan. He eschewed going to college. This is a shame, and I hope all those divorce lawyers and "professionals" that my ex-wife used to foster his total alienation from my family are proud. They all at least have educational degrees which enable them to lucratively indulge in, in my opinion, childhood-destroying and future-wrecking quackery.

One child, who went to a highly-regarded public high school in the area, has almost fully used up the plan I purchased which pays for all of his tuition and fees. He is apparently on track to graduate from a state university in June. I wish him well, and if he lets me know when and where his graduation will be, I'll be proud to come.

One child, who was sent off by his Mother to an out-of-state boarding school run by her cousin, has half of his plan's eligibility left. This must mean that he dropped out of college in September. Too bad! Yet another young casualty of the divorce wars!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Piece of my Heart

"That's really nice of your husband to use his snowblower on all the sidewalks on the block. This twenty-five inches is a lot to shovel."

"The machine makes it easy to do walkways, but it can't handle the ice chunks the snowplow throws out so I'm shoveling the driveway while he does the walks."

"Well, please thank him for going past your neighbor's house and down my sidewalk with it."

"Ahh, he's glad to do it."

"So, what grade is your daughter in now?"

"She started high school this past September."

"They grow up so fast!"

"Oh, I know. When Jimmy stopped by our house to say hello, I barely recognized him. I hadn't seen him since he moved away, when he was just starting high school."

"Yeah, they grow up fast."

This idle conversation on Super Bowl Sunday thus took another little piece of my heart. Peyton Manning won the Super Bowl on the day I last spoke with Jimmy. A casualty of the divorce wars.

I quelled my impulse to desperately ask when it was that my son had, oddly, "stopped by" to say hello to neighbors he barely ever knew. Whether it was last week or last decade, I suspect my oldest child knew that eventually I would discover he had been in the neighborhood without communicating with me.

Have another little piece of my heart now, baby,
Well, you know you got it, child, if it makes you feel good.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Twenty-five inches.

Local friends and family, please stop calling, I haven't expired. And yes, I have run out of things to shovel.

In Falls Church we got 25 inches of snow over two days. Obama termed it Snowmageddon. The fourth largest snowfall ever in DC. But this is DC, not Colorado (where I used to live).

Some young newscaster, in local-coverage's twenty-four hour breathless live tracking of the storm's progress, cautioned viewers that such a heavy snow (20-1 water content) is known as "Heart Attack Snow."

Well, I never heard that before. Yes, I know people keel over while shoveling snow. Oops! But I think you made that up, young man.

Anyway, you can stop calling to check up on me. I'm sore but fine. I even shoveled a path from the end of the block through the snow wall to the route to the Metro Station. Come on by instead and see the eight-foot snow banks I created by tossing dozens of cubic-yard blocks of frozen ice chunks up atop the pile. It was fun.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Each year on my profile I list six different all-time fave movies, one from each decade I have lived in. Choosing only one from each decade is both challenging and fun.

The first year I blogged I chose Shane, 2001, Alien, Platoon, Fargo and Chicago. The next year I chose Forbidden Planet, Dr. Strangelove, The Conversation, Blade Runner, Saving Private Ryan and Sideways. Last year I chose It!, Bullitt, The French Connection, The Terminator, Unforgiven and Gladiator. I think you could take those eighteen movies and a DVD player to a desert isle and be happy for a long while. Well, at least half a month.

This year the first movie I am choosing, Objective Burma!, was made in the forties but I remember watching it as a boy in the fifties on a tiny black and white TV and being entranced by Errol Flynn and his indigenous band of warriors parachuting into the jungle and making an arduous trek to an enemy radio station and destroying it after a terrific battle. I was inspired by it to draw a comic book that pretty much tracked the movie. I still have that book.

Morgan! is my choice of a movie from the sixties. It's a great psychological study, and who could forget the scene of David Warner flying on a motorcycle into the drink in his burning gorilla suit? From the seventies it's The Last Picture Show, Peter Bogdanovich's black-and-white adaption of the Larry McMurtry book of coming of age in a small town in Texas. Jeff Bridges as the high-school jock who goes off to fight in the Korean war is excellent, as always.

Aliens and Schindler's List were my choices for the eighties and nineties. Aliens is the rare sequel that is every bit as good as the original film (Alien) in the series. James Cameron scores again. Schindler's List is Steven Spielberg's great study of courage, barbarity and pathos.

For the oughts, I choose Avatar. Go see it! Afterwards, read Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman.

Next year I'll have yet another decade to choose movies from.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I've joined

I was dragged into the new century today because I had to add word moderation (requiring a word recognition pause) to the comment section of my blog. Sorry!

Anonymous was getting out of hand about his investment opps, "school" projects, Vegas fun, adult sites, conspiracy theories and more. I was deleting two or three of his "comments" a day.

I dislike censorship in any form, and I am chary of leaving my own comments on moderated comment sections (where the owner has to approve them first) and I find word recognition pauses to be time consuming and frustrating because I can't make out some of those bizarre, run together letter combinations. Oh well.

It's the world we live in, where nothing is free or innocent or fair or easy and system momentum seems to operate against purely "having fun." Live forever in hell with all the divorce lawyers, Anonymous.