Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas tree run

Every year I take a group from work out on a run to see the Christmas lights.  In years past we have gone out at 6 pm when it is more colorful because the lights are shining.
There are other things to see on this run too.  This year we saw a moose, but I kept my companions safe by keeping it at bay.
This year time became short so we went out at noon, two days in a row because some people couldn't make it the first day.  Even though the lights weren't shining, each Christmas tree around the Mall has a story.
The tree with the best story is at the DC Peace Officer Memorial.  Its ornaments are pictures of fallen area officers.

The National tree seemed small this year, in comparison with other years.  Inside the little fence, electric trains were running around and a little girl standing wistfully at the fence asked her Mom, "Can I go in there and play with the trains?" which cracked me up.
We went by a harp player who was singing beautiful Chritsmas carols.  How cool is that?
I like the tree at the Capitol the best.  The tree inside the Botanical Gardens is nice too, plus they had a chorus in there.

Every year we end at the tree at Union Station.  It used to be inside but a few years back they moved it outside.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Call Me

So I have three sons.  I'm not the only dad in America, nor even among my friends, whose ex-wife has served a death penalty upon any paternal influence by him through her insidious pernicious overbearing influence on minor children during the divorce.

Whatever.  What a society, what a gender.

Bad ol' me has a prepaid Virginia tuition plan that I own that has my oldest child as its beneficiary.  It pays 100% of the lad's (he's well into adulthood now) tuition and fees at any in-state public university.

The IRS is going to vacate this plan in 2014, ten years after he graduated from high school, due to its tax-preferential treatment for all these years.  I sent Jim's mother a letter a year ago asking for Jim's address so I could communicate with him about this but she blew me off as usual, and she's a teacher of little first-graders!

Anyway, Jimbo, I sent you a Christmas card at your mom's address, and it hasn't come back (yet), telling you all this in addition to wishing you a happy holiday.  I know you live or lived there, or were there for an extended period this summer.

Check it out.   Call me, I'm in the book and my work number hasn't changed in over two decades.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

And all's right with the world...

A Seasons Greetings card to my friends and relatives for 2013.


Actin' funny
But I don't know why
'Scuse me
While I kiss the sky

Jimi Hendrix

New River 2013

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas, boys.

A special Christmas greeting to my three sons:

I miss you & love you & hope you are all well & happy.
However, I have no idea if you're alive, well or have provided me with grandchildren. What's that all about, young men?

When Daddy Went Away,
he said, "Try to be a man,
And, Someday you'll understand."
John Fogerty
New River Gorge WV 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

Eleventh Hour Eleventh Day Eleventh Month

95 years ago the guns fell silent at 11 am on this day in Europe and The War To End All Wars was over.  My grandfather served in that war.

A mere generation later the world was back at it with increased ferocity.  My father and all of my uncles served in that war.

There have been many wars since then, and we are engaged in a war or wars even now.  My brother served in Beirut.

This post is in honor of those brave men, and everyone else who served as well, and in memory of all those who fell in defending our way of life.  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
I went to an 11 o'clock memorial service at the community commons at which an American-born woman named Mary, an teenage detainee at the Japanese-American internment camp of Topaz in UT during WW2, was the featured speaker and spoke of the terrible experiences she and her community suffered wherein they all lost their entire lifetime possessions and were discharged from the camps after the war with $10 in their pockets.  A sobering reminder of the excesses that war engenders.

Afterwards I went to have lunch during the noontime hour at the restaurant I always dine at on any holiday I am in town for, the Lost Dog Cafe in Westover, which is near our house when I resided in Arlington with my (now ex-) wife and our three children.  As you can see, I had a good meal, enough for two or three or four persons even.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"Isn't worth the effort."

As a former president of D C Road Runners Club, I will speak to the hurtful and arrogant comments made by the club's current president in a Washington Post article published Friday, which article extolled runners in DC. Current DCRRC president Brian Danza explained that his club "firmly promote[s] the sport of running in a competitive manner."  

The article cited Mr. Danza as saying, "Running a marathon just for the sake of completing one isn't worth the effort."  Recreational runners, such as presumably the vast majority of participants in today's People's Marathon, "do it to check a box," according to Mr. Danza.

The club under the care of the president one before me and then myself believed in inclusion and participation, not elitism and disdain for the common runner.  We provided training programs for persons wishing to engage in or initiate a more fit lifestyle, for people who aspired to run a 5K or a 10K or a marathon, and actively encouraged achieving such a lofty goal.  

The club president mid-last decade and myself did not denigrate the efforts expended by such ordinary athletes for the uncommon accomplishment of running a marathon, even in perhaps 4 or 5 hours or more, rather, we tried to encourage and facilitate such activities by creating and running training programs tailored to certain races such as the Capital Hill Classic 10K, the ATM, and the National Marathon and HM.  (Recognition goes to Kristin Blanchet for being the genesis of such programs becoming a regular part of the club.)  

I consider it asinine that "competitive" runners such as Mr. Danza might say "recreational" runners are merely wasting their time by their participation.  (Mr. Danza related to the reporter that anything less than "competitive" running is merely "the way to one-up each other-I'm thinner than you, I'm better than you, I checked this box.")

I hail all those runners who did their best this morning at the MCM, all 30,000 athletes, and whatever time they achieved, I urge them all to exult in having accomplished a hard feat that 99% of all people have never performed.   I salute them all for undertaking the task and sticking with it and finishing it, competitive and recreational runners alike!

Saturday, October 19, 2013


I have been using throwaway cameras for my snapshots for years now.  They are little boxy things with film inside.

I'm quite shameless in asking passerbys to snap a picture of me in front of a marvel, usually during a running outing but often while on vacation too (see my recent posts).  I always say, as the person starts out by holding the camera away from himself or herself as though the cardboard box would magically sprout a window display,  "You're too young to know how this artifact works but... ."

At which point they focus on a point in their recent or dim past and say, "Oh, I know how these work."  And they look through the viewfinder and snap the picture.

Only once I had a person that truly didn't have a clue.  She kept trying to take the picture backwards, with the lens pressed up against her face as she squinted through the viewpoint the wrong way.

And once a little boy,once his father had obligingly snapped my photo at Camden Yards, snatched the camera away and tried to "see" the image on the back of the disposable camera.  He went into a snit when I wouldn't "show" him the picture by bringing it up on the cardboard backside.

And two weeks later, I get to relive the moment when I get the developed pictures back from the photo lab.  Often, I have no idea what the picture shows, or where it was shot from or why.

LOL.  Lately it's been an instigator of comments that border on the incredible as in, Where do you go to develop this thing?

A few years back, when I was president of the local DC running club, my picture taking with a film camera truly was a object of hatred by the club's twenty-something IT department members, because it showed how backwards and stupid I was.  Those three young turks, all board members, coupled with a sad sack VP they co-opted through temporary friendship, forced me to resign by disrupting all of my board meetings with their disrespectful and confrontational antics.

The chief instigator of the coup is now the president, although the club at least waited until he turned thirty before voting him the post (the winning slates are pre-selected by a committee).  As president I had tried to look into irregularities in the way he was handling the club's money flow (he controlled the PayPal account), but I had no support for such a potentially explosive inquiry on the existing board.

A concern I had with going digital is that whenever I carry a camera on a run, I'd rather carry a $7 piece of equipment instead of a $200 one.  Plus, whenever I would line up a running shot and click the shutter, it would take the picture about half a second later, not instantly as with film (I actually had a digital camera but disliked it).

Anyway, yesterday I went out and dropped $200 on a Pentax WG-10 Adventure Proof dust-proof, water-proof, shockproof digital camera with anti-movement software, 5X optical zoom and 14 Megapixels.  The purchase price included a photo card and a thumb-drive thingy which allows me to move the snapshot from the card to my Mac.

I spent an hour last night formatting my photo (storage?) card and setting the location and the time on the thing.  It's the same size as my dumb phone although its 2 or 3 times thicker and heavier.

This morning I ran 5 miles on the Mall with a running buddy and she showed me how to actually snap pictures with it and delete the undesirable images.  She also welcomed me to...well, not to the future but rather to catching up with the present.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Welcome Back

The government shutdown ended after 16 days of pointless inactivity and I was summoned back to work yesterday.  I cannot imagine a more pointless exercise than closing the government because one tiny segment of one political party is apoplectic that the uninsured in this country are finally going to have access to affordable health insurance.

This band of Visigoths camped outside the gates of Rome also came within a hairsbreadth of possibly causing world financial ruination.  Thank heavens there are actual adults in charge in the Senate, in contrast to the House.

At work yesterday, after comparing beard lengths with the boys and hearing about housecleaning projects in various stages of completion from the girls, at noon I went out and ran 3 miles on the Mall with a running buddy from work.  It was a humid day and as I drank from my bottle of water I bemusedly watched my running buddy finally elbow aside an unyielding homeless man at a drinking fountain who was meticulously rinsing out his drinking container over and over, in order to get a much-needed drink.

"It was so mild outside that I didn't think I'd need water today," she said as we ran away, which is a line I often hear at noontime from less-experienced running co-workers.  We ran past the Joseph Henry statue, by the Carousel, through the Mary Ripley Garden, across the front of the Capitol and returned to work after 35 minutes of finally being "back at it" after a wasted fortnight.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Bedford Boys

(The National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia.  The archway is the symbol of Project Overlord, codename for the Allied landings in Normandy during World War II.  For the 70th anniversary of D-Day next year the memorial administrators will erect on the pathway leading into the memorial a statue of a grieving G.I., in full combat gear, helmet less, one of a mere eight Bedford Boys out of thirty who went ashore who survived the invasion.)

Bedford, Virginia is where the National D-Day Memorial is.  It's out of the way in south-central Virginia but it is worth the trip to visit this beautiful tribute to all the Allies who successfully assaulted Fortress Europa on June 6, 1944, the longest day, and struck the death-knell of Nazi Germany thereby.
(At the Bedford Courthouse downtown, next to the Confederate Memorial and across from the Revolutionary War Memorial is this tribute to the Bedford Boys in World War II.)

The memorial is in Bedford because so many Bedford lads were slaughtered on Omaha Beach in so short a time.  This tiny town of 3,200 lost 22 of its sons during the Normandy invasion, 19 in the first hour or so of combat on the beach when the landing forces were raked with murderous fire by the Germans commanding the heights behind the beach.
(The assault.)

We know how that came out ultimately, the day was won by the courage of the individual American soldiers (and the Canadians and the British on other Normandy assault sites) and the Germans were ultimately defeated.  If you want to know how hard a slog it was for the nineteen and twenty-year old boys who carried the brunt of the fighting for the next ten months, you would do well to start with Stephen Ambrose's book Citizen Soldiers.
(The triumph.)

After I left my rafting and minor league baseball games behind during my driving vacation in West Virginia in August I visited Bedford, to honor the sacrifice of The Greatest Generation.  The memorial is a poignant reminder of the ultimate price of freedom.
(The price.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Amy

(My noontime running buddy, H, on the left with her friend, A.)

Last month a running buddy of mine at work asked if I would conduct an evening historical run on the Mall with her and a friend of hers who was leaving her job in DC to attend graduate school at the University of Chicago, as a sort of going away present from one Chicago native to another.  Because I was a history major and I like pointing out historical tidbits during runs, I readily agreed.
(The view of the Mall from the Lincoln.)

My plan was to run from our work area near Union Station to the Capitol then down the Mall to Lincoln and back, pointing out references along the way, but due to time constraints that was a monument too far so we doubled back at World War I.  A run on the Mall has innumerable things to see and infinite things to ruminate on.
(The view of Capital Hill from Labor Hill (the top of the steps at the Department of Labor),)

We ran to the Japanese American Memorial on Louisiana Avenue first and contemplated the great injustice done during World War II to the Japanese-Americans in the country, who were relocated from the west coast to bleak barbed-wire enclosed internment camps in the interior due to war hysteria.  Many of these loyal Americans lost everything as a result yet this terribly maligned ethnic group unfailingly remained true to the country, even furnishing a much-decorated combat brigade that was famous for its bloody, heroic service in our Italian campaign slugging match against the Germans.
(The Imprisoned Cranes statue,)

Next we stopped in the little park at the bottom of Capital Hill to view the towering statue of Robert A. Taft, the powerful Republican senator from Ohio from mid-last century, respected, if grudgingly, by all as an outstanding legislator although not admired by all for his isolationist policies.  The statue of Freedom atop the Capitol deserved a point-out from this location as well.
(General Winfield Scott Hancock, hero of Gettysburg.)

Along First Street NW we ran by the Peace Statue, the Civil War statue diorama dedicated to General Grant and the statue of our "martyred president" James Garfield, who was shot nearby by a disappointed office seeker before Garfield had even served a half year as president.
(Looking down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol grounds at dusk.)

I showed my co-worker and the departing student A my favorite pocket park on the Mall with its quietly burbling (in season) fountain and its ever-changing array of flowers and plants inside its elevated curvy brick walls.  Then we ran by the working National Carousel, a fine example of a 1940's era Merry-Go-Round, the Smithsonian Castle with its statue of Joseph Henry out front, past the Holocaust Museum  on the left and the Washington Monument on the right and straight through the National Tulip Library, a year-round working flower-bed garden on the Jeffersonian Tidal Basin, to the Martin Luther King Memorial right next to the FDR Memorial.
(At the entrance to the Pocket Park.)

We started back by running past World War I to World War II.  At this memorial I showed them the battle names etched in stone of the two battles my father fought in (a First Marine Division veteran), the several Pacific sea battles my uncle fought in (a shipboard gunnery-officer Marine), the campaign another uncle participated in as a rear-echelon support officer hunting down fugitive Japanese troops in the Philippines, the campaigns another uncle participated in while piloting a B-26 Marauder in the Mediterranean and the battles fought in by a Third Army (Patton's army) veteran I had the pleasure of meeting in recent years, the father of a close friend of mine.  All of these heroes are departed now.
(The Washington Monument, with its steel-beam exoskeleton complete, is undergoing repair to fix damage it incurred during the 2011 earthquake.)

The visit to World War II produced the hit of the running tour because I told H and A about the hidden memorials dedicated to Kilroy, as in "Kilroy was here", and showed them to them (there are two identical semi-concealed monuments to the ubiquitous Kilroy).  H and A both found the story fascinating and were delighted to see the long-nosed caricatures.
(The National Carousel.)

We had to hasten our pace as time grew pressing but we ran by the great petrified wood block outside the National History museum, telling its tale about the work of president Teddy Roosevelt preserving our national heritage, the Archives building containing its monumental documents dedicated to individual freedom, the Federal Trade Commission building with its fine statues depicting a man reigning in the powerful horses of commerce and trade, past the statues dedicated to the heroic general Winfield Scott Hancock and the triumphant general George Gordon Meade, both of Gettysburg fame, and over the small Labor hill affording a good view of the Capitol.  A few-block run down New Jersey Avenue back to the Georgetown Law School ("I'm not a potted plant!") completed our historical fun run.
(The National Tulip Library in springtime.)

There were lots more historical places we could have run past within 5 or 10 minutes of where we actually were, such as the John Paul Jones statue, the Jefferson, the George Mason seat, Korea, Iwo Jima, the Dutch Bell Tower, the Pentagon, the Air Force Missing Man statue, Arlington National Cemetery, Vietnam, Einstein, the White House, the First Division statue, the Boy Scout statue . . .shall I go on?  Any 60 minute run on the Mall can only partially expose all the places to visit in the City of Monuments, each site with a story or stories to tell.
(Good luck in Chicago!)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Columbus Day

Yesterday at noon, on the Columbus day holiday, I had lunch at the Lost Dog Cafe in Westover in Arlington, as I usually do when I am in town on any holiday or special day like the birthday of one of my children.  I had Dog Collars (onion rings) and a Rin Tin Tin pizza pie, a vegetarian's dream of spinach, eggplant, red onions, mushrooms and more in a marinara sauce covered with mozzarella cheese.

I have dined alone at these meals for the past decade, as my three then-minor sons were alienated from me years ago by the actions of their Mother when she unconscionably made them participants in our nuclear divorce.  No Lamberton has heard a single word from these boys (now men) since then.

I'm sad that I was unable to stop the specious forces that used these children to further my ex-wife's selfish, shortsighted goals in toxic divorce litigation from destroying my children's normal childhoods and skewing their future adult associations, perhaps permanently.  For years I have publicly invited these three young men through unanswered letters, unreturned phone calls and unresponded-to Internet invites to join me at one of these lunches so that we can start rebuilding our father-son lives one day at a time, but no one has ever showed.

I am sad that time is running short now (I'm the same age my father was when he died) and they still eschew normal adult and familial relationships.  I regret that their childhoods were destroyed by adults aligned with my ex-wife's shortsighted divorce goals and I was helpless to prevent the terrible damage these "professionals" did to my minor children such that as adults now they seemingly disdain the immutable reality that when the sands of time run out, there's no flipping over the hourglass even one more time.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Falls Church Homeless Shelter Run

Yesterday I participated in the 2d annual Falls Church Homeless Shelter Bike Ride, a charity bikeathon that kicked off on the W&OD Bike Trail not even 500 feet from my house.  Perhaps you're supposed to bring a bicycle to a bike ride but I don't have one and the charity event supported a good cause, the local homeless shelter.

I tried to borrow a bike from a running buddy who was going to participate with me but he got sick at the last minute so I showed up to register a half hour before the participants were scheduled to take off down the trail, paid my $10 entry donation and mingled with the crowd.  I chatted furlough stuff with a neighbor who edits the local Internet paper and talked running with a runner who asked me about my fancy running jacket, high-end swag from the most notorious race in the area, the Annapolis 10-Miler, which is run every August.

That race is known for its 4 Hs (it's hot, hilly, humid & hellacious) but is equally renowned for its presenting to every finisher each year a distinctive and useful item of running such as a fleece jacket in 2006, the year I finished in 1:19:05, or the fancy waterproof windbreaker with hood I was wearing from 2008, which I purchased in a thrift store for $6.95, representing probably a $50 value in a running store.  The woman I was speaking with had participated a couple of years ago and said she barely finished; the thought of missing out on the cool race giveaway if she DNFed was the only thing that kept her going on her second trip over the high bridge in the last mile, she said.

Shortly after the bicyclists took off on the charity event I took off running down the trail a ways and back again, a 5K run in about a half an hour during which most returning bicyclists called out politely as they passed me except for one woman who silently overtook me at speed and barely missed clipping me.  Returning to the post-ride festivities, I partook in the festivities for awhile, which included violin-playing by school girls and some sort of a raffle, and then returned home highly satisfied with my lengthy engagement with such a worthy local activity.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Furlough Run on the National Mall

I went on a very slow 5-mile  "furlough run" yesterday on the Mall to see all the things that are closed. Nobody bothers you as you run on the pathways, although signs do announce the area is closed and direct you to not enter. 

There are barriers in front of Lincoln so you can't go inside that, the same with Korea, and Washington is closed anyway due to the 2011 earthquake. Nobody prevents you from filing by Vietnam or seeing its statue, or entering WW2 by its side entryway. 

None of the Museums are open, of course, and the Carousel is silent but I think it would be closed for the season anyway.  The water fountains that aren't broken still work.   My favorite pocket park is passable and apparently still maintained.  

(Running through the Pocket Park last spring with friends from work.)

After drinking my morning coffee and a full bottle of water I felt the urge so I entered the Capitol's Visitor Center (the Main Hall is closed), saying I was going to the House Gallery, and used its restroom. In answer to my expressed hope that two Capitol Police officers I passed were getting paid one said, "No sir" and her companion added, "We will though, eventually." (I translated this to, "We're working for free for now going on half a month.")

In the Capitol, I got on an elevator with two young women who pushed the button and we started ascending.  I said, "We found something in Washington that works!" which they thought was so funny that they said they were going to tweet it. 

A section of Capital Hill was closed as they fixed the raising street barrier which got destroyed in last week's tragic car chase.  I told the standing-by Capitol Policeman that I thought the force did a great job in that incident from what I have seen in various accounts (and from what I know and feel as being a former police officer) and he seemed to appreciate that, or at least he acknowledged my statement.

Everyone was unfailingly polite and the tourists I talked with were cheerful enough, and I also ran into some running friends of mine from my old running club who I hadn't seen in a long time (one looked at me wonderingly when I hailed her until I called out my name at which point she said, "Peter!  The beard, I didn't recognize you.") .  That would be my furlough beard, starting to come in thickly now in the 13th day of being out of work with no paycheck coming in to enable me to pay my bills.

It was a lazy, stop-filled fun run and I didn't even notice that it was lightly raining much of the time.  There are worse places to be than dysfunctional Washington D.C.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Minor League Baseball in West Virginia

After my second day of rafting on the New River last summer, I drove to Princeton in West Virginia to catch a doubleheader where the Princeton Rays were hosting the Bluefield Bluejays in the Rookie Short Season league, an entry-level class of minor league baseball that is one step below Class A.  The stadium, as it were, was hard to find as there were no signs anywhere indicating where it was.

The ballpark was hard to see until you were right on it because it was basically a chain link fence enclosing a field with a few bench seats in the traditional horseshoe pattern enclosing the backstop from third base to first base with a low concrete causeway behind that. The two teams split the games, I don't remember much of the game beyond that, although I recall that sundown as seen from the stadium was nice.

I did have my picture taken with Roscoe the Rays' Rooster and that was fun.  The only other thing I remember is a motorcycle endlessly and noisily circled the stadium on the street outside all game long during the second game and that grew to be annoying.

After the games I drove down to Wytheville, Virginia to spend the night in a motel there.  The next day I arose to a misty mountain viewing splendor right outside my front door.