Monday, October 28, 2013

Dustin Pedroia's Wife Goes into Labor

The moment Dustin Pedroia finds out his wife is in labor...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Vote Early & Vote Often

Paraphrased from a Sunday News show*:

Evan Bayh:  If the American people want more moderate politicians that are willing to compromise then they need to vote during the primaries. 

Dana Perino:  Neither party wants more moderate candidates elected.

Evan Bayh: Yes, but polls show the American people do.

Dana Perino:  Well lets see if they come out and vote.  I don't think they will.

Hey, Evan Bayh just told you how to fix Washington, and the political parties don't want you to think about it.  The trick is, vote.  Vote early, vote often, and more specifically vote in the primaries.  This decides whether a partisan candidate, or someone more pragmatic makes it to the big dance.  Partisans typically vote for partisans, and they often show up en masse to vote during the primaries.  More power to them; literally, those who vote hold the power.

Yes, this sounds like a cheesy civics lesson, but consider why parties spend millions on get out the vote efforts.  The power is ultimately in the hands of the people.  The question is, 'Do you really want Washington to change?'  A little time, attention, and homework, and you can figure out who represents you best.  Wading through slogans, and pettiness, and all the campaign rhetoric can absolutely be aggravating, and the political parties are counting on you giving up.  Don't.

Washington politicians are maddening, yet we have the good fortune of living in a democracy.  These goobers weren't selected for us.  There was no coup or violent revolution that installed them, and it's easy to forget how fortunate we are to live with this peaceful yet maddening system.  We picked them, so like it or not their ours.

I don't write about politics much anymore.  One main reason is that I don't feel my opinions need to be your opinions.  If you ask, I'll tell you that I lean right fiscally, and lean left socially.  If you disagree - no problem.  I doubt that we can all get along, but some of us can.  I write this in an attempt to convince you of only one thing - Washington can change via simple arithmetic.  The polls continuously report that 'the people' are fed up with Washington and its acrimony and discord.  So if 'the people' care enough to pay attention and vote in the primaries and not just the general election that is a remarkably simple solution to what seems to be the endlessly annoying problem of Washington politics.

*Couldn't find the transcript for Fox News Sunday from October 16, 2013, so the quotes are paraphrased.

Evan Bayh is a member of No Labels a group working to promote bipartisan solutions.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Simple Tips for Happier Hiking - Part 1

This article could be subtitled, 'Wear Good Shoes and Drink Plenty of Water.' Hiking is about as simple as it gets, it's just a long walk in the woods.  Started hiking much more frequently a few years ago.   Found that hiking is quite enjoyable as long as you don't screw it up.   So here are some mistakes worth avoiding.

1.  Buy good hiking shoes/boots. Most hiking gear is not critical for a casual hiker, but good hiking shoes make for a much happier day. One reason is that the toe is reinforced. You would be surprised at how many roots and rocks you kick while hiking; you might also be surprised at how badly it hurts to kick rocks while wearing sneakers. The first few times - not too big a deal; the last few times may make you want to cry. Shoes and boots designed for hiking also have straighter smoother side edges.  This helps prevent tripping and getting your feet tangled on roots and rocks. When you're tired this is a decidedly 'un-fun' experience, and may even be treacherous at times.

Another important feature is the traction and grip hiking shoes give particularly on rocky and slick surfaces. Take it from someone who bounced her butt off a rock after slipping at the tail end of a hike; good shoes are worth it, and were purchased not long after the bruising went away.   Boots are typically recommended over shoes as they provide extra ankle support, however, I am a fan of the hiking shoe. They are a little lighter, and find them to be a better walking shoe for around the town/neighborhood. Your back and feet will feel much better if you pick a quality shoe/boot with good support.

2. Bring water, food, and more water. While it seems like a no-brainer to bring water on a hike, bring more than you think you need. If your hike takes longer than expected, if it's hotter than expected, if your body just needs more water for whatever reason, you will be very glad to have it. These aren't tips for survivalists, if you're in a dire situation there are ways to get water. However, I personally don't want to suck on a leaf or drink from a mud puddle. The extra weight you carry in your pack is worth not being dehydrated and feeling rotten.

Similarly, pack what you think you'll need for food need plus some more. Bring snacks and foods that are easy to munch on throughout the day plus a meal. During a strenuous hike you may not feel that hungry but instead your energy fades.  A quick snack can be very helpful. Again, like water, if your hike goes long or you need more food than normal, you'll be very happy to have that extra bite to eat.  I like to have bananas, nuts, trail mix, and/or chips along for a quick snack plus a sandwich for lunch.

3. Be aware of your fitness level. The corollary to this tip is don't drag someone out hiking who isn't prepared to hike. I see this almost every time I go hiking. Sometimes people under estimate the hike they've planned. However, most frequently I come across a young lady whose boyfriend has convinced her to go hiking - he's aggravated and she's miserable. It's not always this combination. One woman told her boyfriend to, "Suck it up buttercup," as he tagged along behind her. Just last weekend, several hikers were trying to help out a woman whose husband had left her behind while mountain climbing. Suspect that fellow earned himself quite a long stay in the doghouse.

I've also underestimated a hike where I was not yet fit enough.   I hurt my knee making the decent difficult and awkward as I latched onto every tree I could for support. Fortunately, there were no pictures because I looked ridiculous, and was lucky the injury was minor.

There are a number of other things that can make a hike better that I will discuss in Part 2. Yet these are pretty easy problems to avoid, yet also easy mistakes to make.  'Sneakers will be fine,' 'I have enough water,' or 'That shouldn't be too tough a hike for me,' doesn't sound at all unreasonable, but they are also three easy ways to wreck an otherwise enjoyable day.