Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Neighborhood

Ran to the Y yesterday through a depressed, poor part of town. The legs were sore and stiff; I wasn't feeling great. Saw a couple of interesting things in those 2 miles.

A young man, probably early 20s, morbidly obese with shiny red lips and an empty stare, wearing a Packer jersey that had seen better days. He was pulling an ancient computer around in a children's Radio Flyer Wagon. He was going around the house, like he was taking the computer for a walk. He looked up at me and seemed 10% embarrassed about the situation.

Realistically, he was a retarded young man having a good time. Alternatively, he was just a fat guy cleaning out his attic.

Then I ran by a number of churches. The poorer the neighborhood, the more churches; more opium to the people, you know. But there is one church I hate. It's a Baptist church; the reverend there once stated in the local newspaper that the war in Iraq is God's will, and that Man should not care about the environment, since Rapture is just around the corner. That guy is everything that's wrong with the world, and yet he is allowed to preach hatred in there, in his tax-free haven.

Then more of the same. A bumper sticker said "I vote pro-life". Which is fine. I guess. But somewhere a Republican strategist is thinking "sucker!". Unless the driver was an excentric Purveyor of Fine 1996 Rusty Pontiac Grand Ams, he probably didn't make $250K a year, or $25K a year for that matter.

Then the kicker. A group of people holding giant posters with dead fetuses. Nasty stuff; one baby looked like it was almost full term with a crushed head. They had come in a big van and looked like absolutely normal people, preaching an absolutely hateful message. I don't know if they were legal but I saw the same group later that day in another part of town and had to tell my kids to look away. They had come in from the hills to show the city people how it was, in a big van with a dead fetus on it. It had the words "Obamanation" all over the side.

I think stiff like this has the same effect as when Obama pals around with gay peace activists: it frightens the moderates. I, for one, sure was freaked out. Such hatred.

Where do I lean, you ask? Socially, I am left of San Francisco. I am for complete social freedom, which is typical of a European-American halfsie such as myself. No surprise there.

Financially, I am torn. America is extremely unfair. Extremely unfair. Most Americans, espeically poor Americans, do not realize just how unfair life is. Too many Americans are caught by society in lives they cannot escape. There is not enough money; there is no escape. The other day, I saw a 25-year old guy with stumps for teeth. Had no health insurance; came in for back pain but didn't want his job to know about it. Told me he was spending all his money on his two kids. Seemed like a really nice guy. Most of these people, who exist around the poverty line, are good people for whom things just didn't work out for a while. It doesn't take too many missteps, and they are stuck.

But the thing is, I can live with the unfairness because I am on the good end of unfair. Most people who have travelled outside America, who have seen the extreme unfairness of edveloping countries or the stiffling fairness of Europe, are on the good side of unfair. They can live with it, too. I know that, realistically, it's not right that a doctor makes 10 times more than a school teacher but yet I live with it.

A teacher of mine in elementary school, John, was a great guy. He was a gay socialist to the bone. He made us sing socialist fighting songs, but he also taught a really decent Religion class. A student once asked him (you'll be able to tell this was not in America): "if you win the lottery, will you still vote for the Socialists?". John thought about this for a long time, and we were all waiting to hear his answer. He finally said "I would still vote for them, but I would hope the Conservatives won".

I know exactly what he meant.

I guess I should write about running, too. I have put in some decent speed workouts but they tell me that I am not in the best of shape. I am running a 10K on Saturday and I think, realistically, I am aiming for a sub-35. More importantly, I am going for the win, and wouldn't mind running tactically.

The Girl is faster and faster. She has started to do speed work once or twice a week. Usually runs 800s in 5:50 pace. I think she will probably run just below 40 minutes on Saturday.

We are talking about running the trans-rockies race next summer as a mix team. It's a strange race, in the sense that the couple has to run together, making the woman the important part of the team. However, the Girl is slowly becoming the (relatively) faster of the two of us so that's probably a good thing. If "pushing" is allowed, it would be fun to run it competitively.

Actually, back up. What's better, a man's 35-minute 10K or a woman's 40-minute 10K? Anyone? I guess my gut tells me the womans 40-minute 10K but I am curious to hear what other people think.


Abbie said...

I read your wife's blog and would have to say a woman's 40 minute 10K for sure. Sorry to hear you're so down about the election. It can definitely get discouraging that's for sure. Sorry too to hear about your thoughts on religion. I promise, it's not all as bad as it seems.

SteveQ said...

35 always beats 40, in my book.

I'm the rare liberal scientist who's religious. I'm also the rare post-doc living below poverty level. My views wouldn't fit any society formed as yet, but I'm hopeful.

By the way, I once showed photos of embryos to a group of pro-lifers, asking which were human. They said they all were, though one was a lizard, one a chicken and one a dog; you have to know what you're arguing!

Runningdoctor said...

Just to clarify, I do consider myself religious. I think there is a "God" in the sense that:

- Life has meaning, although we, as humans, won't know what it is.

- There is an "objective" right and wrong determined by something greater than us.

Now, organized religion doesnt make sense to me. Why do most religious people think that what they happened to be born into is exactly the right religion? It seems to me too much like cheering blindly for your favorite NFL team.

Organized religion is too much about money, power and "us versus them", in my opinion.

Runningdoctor said...

Oh, and I looked up 35 versus 40. Steve is right. For a 30-year old runner (ie. an open runner), a male 35 is 77% and a female 40 is 75% of age-graded performance.

I don't understand those age-graded percentages but they are used universally, I guess.

Now we actually have to go out and run these times.

Danni said...

Good luck at the 10k!!! I like your post and know just what you mean -- I too am on the lucky side of unfair. That said, taxes don't bother me and I probably lean towards socialist economically.

My running partner and I would love to do Trans-Rockies, so if we can convince our husbands that it is a good use of vacation time and money we might see you! We'd be a chick team though.

olga said...

You know, I figured why I read blogs in general, and yours and Girl's in particular (btw, I mean a very few blogs). Very often I get visualized and verbalized thoughts I couldn't point finger at. Like the one with too far either side scaring moderation. Or your comment on religion (in post and comment).
Yes, congratulation on a family sweep. I am looking forward to running again. Just hope to hold on to this excitement after a long break, and also to start building smart and slow.