Sunday, March 31, 2013

Until seventy times seven

Happy Easter Jimmy Rogers. I love you.

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. Matthew 18:15.

Happy Easter Johnny. I love you.

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Matthew 18:21-22.

Happy Easter Daniel Wilson Lamberton. I love you.

Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? Matthew 18:33.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Happy Birthday Kate

It's my sister's birthday.  Happy happy!

Huntington Park, Columbus Ohio, August 2010

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Choice

"You take the baby and the toddler and go to Pottery Barn and I and the three year old will catch up with you there when we're done here," she said.  Thinking he understood his wife's thinking, the father carried the baby and escorted the toddler by the hand across the busy divided four-lane highway when the light was right and started for the mega-store entrance with the two children firmly in his charge.

Because the father, now a law student, wasn't too far removed from police work, he could sense that something was wrong and he looked back.  The mother had told the little boy to "wait here" on the sidewalk on the far side of the busy roadway for daddy to return for him while she headed a short way away to retrieve the nearby vacant stroller.  A potentially deadly error in judgment, she should have brought the boy with her that thirty feet, tired though he was.

The boy immediately wandered into the road to go to daddy, with swift traffic bearing down upon him in the two lanes he was crossing with two further lanes of rushing cars separating him from his daddy.  The dad, carrying a baby and holding a toddler by the hand, was appalled by the developing situation but he quickly ran through his options.  The boy would certainly get killed if he wasn't immediately rescued.

If the father set the baby down and let go of the toddler and left him on the sidewalk and ran across the street, he might get killed himself in traffic but he also might somehow save the boy.  This was worth the risk to him.

But it was likely that he would be struck in traffic as he ran across four lanes of traffic and killed or incapacitated and the boy would be killed anyway too, but also that the toddler would likely follow his father into the street and be killed as well.  Three deaths instead of two or one.

The father looked at the little boy in the roadway, kept holding the baby and gripped the toddler's hand tight.  He had made his choice, to trade one life for two or three.  It was agonizing to choose to allow one child to die as he watched the onrushing band of Chevys and Fords bear down on the oblivious boy, and he would trade his life for a hopeless attempt at rescue, but he couldn't trade the highly probable death of the toddler, now safe, for that boy's life with the possible harm to the baby as well if he abandoned them in a long-shot gamble to dart across four lanes of rushing traffic in a rescue attempt.

His former life flowed into this moment as he declined to act, no matter how hopelessly, and a future life of permanent grief stood beckoning him as he watched death come for his oldest child.  He was incredibly sad but resigned in that moment of terrible conscious choice.

Then providence intervened.  The drivers in each foremost car in the two far lanes saw the little boy in the roadway in time and stopped dead on the busy highway, jamming up the honking traffic behind them.  The mother swiftly returned from her ill-chosen task and fetched the child.  In a happy jumbled rush of emotional relief the father's former life returned to him, at least for another dozen years before he permanently lost all three of his children to spousally-induced estrangement during the divorce.

Happy 61st birthday, Sharon.  How are Jimmy, Johnny and Danny?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Three snowy miles

Unable to sleep, I slipped out of the house for a run on the nearby W&OD Trail early in the morning, stepping into the white landscape of an early spring snow, wet, heavy and splashy.  Twelve hours earlier I had traversed this very same path in my first race of the year, a completely satisfactory effort in a 5K on the same paved blacktop pathway, now covered with snow.
                               (Railroad Avenue.)
Off I set down the street that led to the trail, my footfalls evoking a splash of wet snow at every foot strike.  Though the street was dark and deserted this early in the morning, a silent wonderland it was not.

Down Railroad Avenue and onto the bike path I went.  My initial labored breathing had modulated into a regular pattern of deep breaths as I gingerly ran along, being careful not to slip on the sloppy, slippery surface.
                (The trail approaching the bicycle bridge.)
It was a pretty landscape, every blemish in the land covered in a billowy white blanket with further large, thick snow crystals coming down heavily.  Half an hour and three miles later I slipped back into the house, wet and cold but feeling fulfilled.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A 5K Race

I ran my first race yesterday since Thanksgiving, the W&OD Trail 5K which passes by my back door twice.  Ten minutes before the start time I headed out on foot to pick up my bib and line up for the start. 

On hand as the honorary Race Marshal was a D-Day veteran, an Army Ranger who scaled the Pointe du Hoc heights at Omaha Beach on that fateful day.  When I thanked him for his service in making a better world for us all he said modestly, "I was just a teenager then."  Let's see, what movie should we go see tonight boys, or maybe we'll just take out some German cannon instead on a towering prominence defended by enfilading machine gun fire.

This is the third year in a row I've run this race, cutting down my time each year.  Two years ago it was my return to racing after a year and a half layoff due to injury and I struggled to run the 5K in under thirty minutes in 29:12.  Last year was a slog too as I wilted in the last mile and finished in 27:54. 

I got the thirty-minute bugaboo off my back last July 4th when I ran an afternoon 5K race in the RFK parking lots in 107 degree heat in 32 minutes and change, with several walk breaks.  It was a free race but I finally crashed through thee thirty-minute barrier the wrong way on that brutal day and I was able to stop worrying about being over thirty minutes in a 5K race.  Such are the little milestones we pass in life as the years advance.

Yesterday I went out steadily and felt good the entire race.  I only looked at my watch once, when the finish line hove into view far down the trail and I wondered if I could break 27 minutes as my watch said 26:00.  But the finish was too far off for that so I relaxed until the last 200 yards when I kicked it up a little so I wouldn't get passed  by an incoming runner.  After the midway point in the race nobody passd me and I picked off about a dozen runners ahead of me.

My time was 27:23 (8:48), half a minute faster than a year ago.  I was second in my age group, but then again I beat nobody in my age group either.  The only other male in my age group was my friend Bob Platt, also a past president of the DC Road Runners Club, who beat me by almost two minutes.  Afterwards we chatted about old times, two past DCRRC presidents re-living old glories as we crash into our sixties.  I used to be able to break 22 minutes in a 5K, and also to regularly beat Bob, but we were practically teenagers then, so to speak.

We also chatted about our misgivings concerning the recent conduct of the current club president.  This guy headed the club's IT department when I was president and he led a clique of young board members who obstructed me and were unbelievably insolent to me personally at board meetings but more importantly, he controlled the club's PayPal account and he and his cronies actively withheld crucial information from me about club matters.  I asked two vice presidents to look into these irregularities but when they declined to get involved, I resigned rather than ignore my fiduciary duty to the club.

After a few minutes of basking in the pleasant after-glow of a race well run and the camaraderie of seeing old friends again, I jogged to my house.  Six short minutes later I was home again.  It was a great weekend of running.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Six Hilly Miles

John texted me early yesterday that he couldn't come on our 6-mile run on the W&OD Trail so I ran the six hilly miles, mostly on the Custis Trail, with a workmate and her cousin, both trying to get ready for long hilly races.  Both were fun to run with, smart and interesting to talk to.  It was a pleasurasble run.

The conversation with my office mate centered on deposition conduct (we're both lawyers) and with her cousin, Obamacare (she's in a thinktank trying to implement it).  I told them that since they both went to University of Chicago I shouldn't even be talking with them they're both so brainy.  But since I can run faster than either of them I was drawing them along on the trail and they both humored my liberal tendencies.

Up and down the long steep rollers on the Custis Trail we went while I talked to one and then the other, depending on how out of breath each one was.  When they were laboring on the uphills, I told them cop stories from my old State Patrol days in Colorado.  The sixty minutes went by easily enough, at least for me.

This is what I love about running, that early in the morning on Saturday you've done a significant workout and enjoyed it, and the full weekend is still stretching out in front of you,  I had a 5K race coming up the next day, my first race since Thanksgiving, and I felt good about its imminence.  After a post-run cup of coffee, which H and A bought for me, we each went off to our appointed weekend rounds.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Little Noontime Run

I emerged from my work building near Union Station at noon in shorts, shoes and a long sleeve shirt under a wind shirt.  It was cold going to work yesterday morning but the sun was out, the wind had died down and it was warming up.  Three office mates joined me and we set off down New Jersey Avenue at a rapid pace.  Everyone was running really well in this wonderful running weather.

Half a mile later we turned up Capital Hill and achieved its summit.  We were only doing three miles since everyone was busy at work so we threw a large hill in early to get our juices flowing.  As the sweat started to roll down my forehead and run into my eyes, midway up the incline I stopped to strip off my wind shirt, which I carried the rest of the run.

The buds were beginning to appear on trees, the tourists were out and we had to engage in a lot of defensive and darting running to get by the throngs of people on the broad sidewalks in the long block between the Capitol and the Supreme Court  Building.  The little decline and incline paths that lead down to the underground  Capitol Visitor's Center were blocked off with police tape so we couldn't take those two little hills so we crossed over to the east sidewalk where there were less clumps of people.  I wanted to do the stairs on the Library of Congress but a policeman waved us away.  When pressed as to why we couldn't go up those stairs, he explained that the POTUS was having lunch in the Capitol and would be emerging soon and we had to keep moving and couldn't take our customary little diversions that day.  The doomed charm offensive, you know?

We circled around the Capitol by pounding down the hill on Independence and ran by the Arboretum, the Indian Museum and past the Smithsonian buildings.  We cut through the little pocket park between the African Museum and the Castle to the Mall and we circled the Carousel and started our return to work by cutting across the Mall diagonally towards the Statue Garden.  Running along the backside of the FTC Building we achieved Pennsylvania Avenue and ran by the Meade statue by the federal courthouse.  We ran over the little hill in front of Labor and we ran down the little restaurant row besides Labor. 

A half mile down First Avenue completed our journey and we arrived back at our building across the street from Georgetown Law just as many of our other workmates were getting back from their lunches or carrying containers of food into the building to eat at their desks.  The four of us did about three miles in about thirty two minutes, including stops at red lights at busy intersections and pace-killing interference from the crowds of people around the Capitol.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Coaching Anyone?

I used to run training programs for my old running club centered in the District until some incredibly offensive behavior by a clique of boorish and puerile  20-something  board members towards me and my programs caused me to leave that club behind for good.  Last year I helped the program director of the MCC, an Arlington club, coach its Walk-To-Run (WTR) training program. 

That was a little tame for me, run/walking four 15-minute miles every Saturday but I actually believe helping other people get off the couch and get moving to any degree out there is a way of giving back.  Those Alpha jerks in my former running club (one of them is now its president) used to sneer that taking groups out and actually running with them was "chaperoned running" but screw them.  As we used to refer to certain types when I was in the State Patrol, they're Adam Henrys.

On Saturday morning I dropped in on the MCC director's current WTR program and took his star pupil, who wanted to push herself, out for four miles on the Mount Vernon Trail at a 2/3 "modality" (walk two minutes, run three minutes) while the director went with the rest of the group at a 4/1 modality.  It took us 62 minutes to go the four miles and twice we had to cut back a little from our three-minute run intervals but it was a fun outing, it was good to be out there moving early on a Saturday morning. 

The program director spoke with me beforehand about being the pace-group leader of the MCC's 10K Program, a true running group, which is firing up in May, and I said I'd consider it.  I'm back! 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Letter to the Pre-Paid College Tuition Board

I purchased three pre-paid college tuition plans in the mid-90s for my three sons.  Two of the plans have been used up.  The last communication I had from the two affected sons was when each one wrote immediately following his graduation from high school to ask me to activate the plan for his benefit, which I did.  Each plan pays 100% of the tuition and fees for all four years at any state school.  (It would have been nice if they would have invited me to their graduations but hey, these boys were raised by their mother to apparently be just like her.)

My oldest son has not communicated with me since the day Peyton Manning was named Super Bowl MVP.  My plan for which he is beneficiary sits unused.  I have been told that pursuant to IRS rules, these tax-preferential plans have a 10-year shelf life and this plan will be voided next year, absent extraordinary circumstances.  I have notified the Virginia Plan Board that the extraordinary circumstances for my plan are a court order, as noted in the letter below.  The board scoffs at a mere county-court order.  So it goes.  Below is the letter I mailed to the Virginia Board today.

March 17, 2013

Virginia 529 College Savings Plan
9001 Arboretum Parkway
Richmond, VA 23236

Dear VA527 Program Benefits,

I am in receipt of a form letter from you dated 3/5/13, referencing the plan I own which has "James B. Lamberton" as Beneficiary. The Beneficiary of this plan that I own is my oldest child.

In it you state that according to your records for account number [***], "the beneficiary listed above may soon begin preparing to attend college." You also enclosed an Intent to Enroll Form, which you state that I "and the beneficiary will be required to sign and return to [you] by May 20, 2013 in order to initiate the use of" my contract benefits. As I am in possession of no information whatsoever that my plan’s beneficiary "may soon begin preparing to attend college," I will not be signing and returning the stated form to you at this time.

Please be advised that pursuant to the "Final Decree Of Divorce A Vinculo Matrimoni Equitable Distribution And Permanent Support" ("ED Order") issued by the Circuit Court of Arlington in Sharon R. Lamberton v. Peter W. Lamberton, Chancery No. 01-311 on 11/1/02 (A COPY OF WHICH IS ENCLOSED FOR YOUR NOTIFICATION):

Husband is found to be the owner of three fully paid for Virginia Pre-Paid Tuition Plans (VPP), being one for the education of each of the parties’ three children, and insofar as their disposition may remain under his control, he is ordered to maintain them in their present state pending the possible use of these funds by the children for the acquisition of a college education pursuant to the terms of the Plans.

You are hereby notified that pursuant to the above authority, you must maintain indefinitely the VPP Plan which I own of which James B. Lamberton is the Beneficiary, until he chooses to use its benefits.
As I have had no communication from my oldest son James in over six years despite my best efforts to contact him, and am in possession of no reliable information about his current intentions regarding the use of my Plan’s benefits, anything less than personal knowledge on my part that my Plan will be used pursuant to its terms by the proper person will be insufficient for me to sign and return an Intent to Enroll Form to you by any date.

You are on notice that you may not terminate the Plan nor change it in any aspect. Thank you.

Peter W. Lamberton

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dusk Run on the Mall

It had been years since I ran after work on the Mall, the last time I had done so was years ago when I ran the bridges one day at dusk, 13 miles over the Key Bridge, back to the District on the Roosevelt Bridge, out again on the Memorial Bridge and the final return to work over the 14th Street Bridge.  Yesterday evening I ran with H from the office who wanted to get in a long run while she ramps up to get ready for a 10-Miler trail run next month and rain and a busy schedule had prevented a run earlier in the day.

We took off from our office near Union Station at 6:30 pm and ran east and south to get onto the Mall, and immediately I regretted not wearing a bill cap as the setting sun was blindingly in our eyes.  The weather was good though, dry, cool, a little windy.

We ran over the little man-made hill in front of the Department of Labor leading up to its steps as we achieved the Mall and ran due east.  Talking easily, we loped past the Carousel, the Washington Monument, World War II, World War I and the Lincoln Memorial, icons all, and started back.

H is interesting to talk with, she's smart, considerate and works hard to keep up.  We pounded over the little Labor Hill a second time and then ran up Capital Hill at the end to complete our idyllic run (all those monuments in the deepening twilight!), about six miles in about an hour, a perfect end to a busy workday.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

I hadn't done those rollers in over a year

I ran with John and H today on the hilly Custis Trail.  We were slated for five miles but an injury brought us up short at 4.2 miles.

It was my best run in a while.  There are two ferocious hills on the trail and I steamed up them like old times while John and H doggedly hung onto me.  I hadn't been on those high rollers since late 2011.

I also ran by many acquaintances I knew from my former running club, of which I used to be president and now no longer have anything to do with, Kevin, Mary Anne, Sasha, Roger and the current president, who as usual pretended he didn't see me.  This last mention is a classic case of See ya Wouldn't want to be ya (when someone finally figures out what he's been up to).

A beautiful day in the greater DC area.  I hope North Korea doesn't rain on our parade anytime soon by obliterating these wonderful trails with its threatened nuclear strike on DC.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Ode To a Young Man Gone

My sister called me today.  The one who hasn't called in a decade except the time she called last month to tell me that her stepson had died.

That was crushing, as I was waiting on the phone for the opening formalities of that call to pass so she could inform me of the purpose of her call--that her husband had died in a car crash or some such tragedy.  But no, it was the death of a child!

The boy was 21 when he died, his death a final release from the domestic wars our society puts children through when a divorcing adult--in my opinion in this case his biological mother--enlists his or her children in their narcisstic need to bloodlet against the other parent.  Sharon and Meg, and your enabling intimate friends, in my opinion you too should rest uneasy.

My sister and her husband are scattering the young man's ashes tomorrow at sunset atop Sun Mountain in Santa Fe.  I had my best run forever just after sunset one winter day in 2007 running around the base of that mountain with the young man's father in the snow and dark, wearing lanterns on our foreheads for illumination as evergreen tree branches whipped our faces as we ran past them. 

I asked my sister today to tell her husband that that was my best running memory ever.  I could barely speak because I wanted to cry.

My sister was nice enough to say that the card I sent to her and her husband expressing my sorrow and quoting Dylan Thomas' And Death Shall Have No Dominion meant a lot to them, and that they would read the poem when they committed Matthew's ashes to the mountain.  I said I would be there in spirit.

I told my sister that I loved her.  She didn't say anything to this.

Go be with God, young man.  I remember you well from the last time I saw you, when you were nine, a vivacious, bright, alert boy, and I will pray for you in church on the day after.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Half full?

I was running four and a half miles on the Mall at noontime last week with R and she was keeping me honest with 9:30 miles, the fastest I've run this year, when we ran by J, a friend and husband of a workmate.  It was great to see him out there jogging because last year he was in a serious car crash that put him in the ICU for a week and necesitated an operation and he's been involved in PT ever since, slowly regaining his health.

Then upon my return to the office I received an email from E, a friend and workmate who donated a kidney to his sister last month.  The operation went well, he reported, and his sister was better and he himself was up and about, taking long walks as he recovered.

Not so encouragingly, I took a call from a workmate who was going through a divorce after twenty years of marriage and guess what, his wife at mediation the day before had spent all day demanding sole legal custody and that he be restricted to seeing their two children, with whom he is heavily involved daily, to every other Saturday and Sunday and two hours on a weeknight once every two weeks.  Tens of thousands of dollars are draining from their small estate as he combats the outrageous default position in our domestic law system of Mother Knows Best. 

That morning I'd attended a funeral service for a workmate in her fifties who'd died unexpectedly during surgery the week before for her recently discoverd cancer.  Life is certainly a series of steps forward, and backwards.

Friday, March 1, 2013


Spring is less than three weeks away but there's another reason I'm glad March has arrived.  March signals the end of the oppressive personal feelings I get during the period between Christmas and the end of February, a time in which all three of my estranged sons have their birthdays.

Jimmy, Johnny and Danny are victims of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), a form of brainwashing whereby children learn to blindly hate one parent, an unnatural state foisted upon them as minors by their Mother during the ruinous divorce last decade.  Some people say PAS is a form of child abuse.

None of my sons has spoken with any Lamberton in over a decade, or with me in half a decade, and each of the younger two's last communication with me was to asked me to provide for payment of one hundred percent payment of their college tuition and fees, which I did.  With the Christmas season and all their birthdays past, and the turmoil of feelings that necessarily imposes upon me as I vainly use the Internet to invite them to lunches at restaurants on the significant days, I have the rest of the year stretching out ahead of me during which any reminders of them can be more minimal.  

The Native Americans have a saying: Don't let yesterday take up too much of today.  I "gave" my youngest son a book as a birthday present the book Night by Eli Wiesel, which has this passage near its conclusion:  I did not weep, and it pained me that I did not weep. But I was out of tears. And deep inside of me, if I could have searched the recesses of my feeble conscience, I might have found something like: Free at last!...