It was one HOT Sunday

Very rarely do I put on sunscreen (suncream for any of my students who may be reading) for a training run. Marathons, Ultras, yeah, definitely need to protect my skin, if I’m out for 4-5-6 hours in the Sun, there is a chance I will burn. But when I initially left for the run, I realized how strong the Sun was today, went back upstairs and threw on some I don’t know, think it’s Coppertone Sport SPF 30, it’s like 4 years old. As I said, I barely ever have to use it. I actually got it for free at a race. So I threw it on any exposed upper body skin (including the ears, why do people forget their ears?) and I’m glad I did. When I got back to the apartment, I looked like I was still wearing my Gulf Beach Half Marathon Singlet, but no burn. So it was a pretty good run, but between the miles yesterday, the ankle injury, and the heat, I bonked for a bit, still managed to finish well though. Bringing my water bottle was also a very good idea.
So when I got back, I got a few chores done and then headed to the sea. I laid out for a bit to try and even out. Because, as I stated, my runner’s tan looked ridiculous, even though it didn’t at the start of today. I did put my legs in for a bit, but my ankle is precluding me from swimming. I tried to kick, and it was worse than running. The funny thing is, it really only hurts first thing in the morning, and then it’s mostly fine all day. Trying to kick though, that was too much. That and the salt water caused a little pain with some chafing. It happens.
So back in the States it’s Memorial Day Weekend, and all my friends are posting “Home of the Free, because of the Brave” memes. Whether I agree with the supposed justifications for wars (which I clearly do not), people have died under the impression they were sacrificing themselves for the greater good. My heart always aches for them and their families, regardless of my “opinion” of the justifications for war. However, we never do this on Labor Day, and mark the sacrifices of so many men, women, and YES children, who have been offered up on the altar of Capitalism. From the National Guard opening fire on striking worker camps, to private forces fighting striking workers, we never mention this part of our history. These are people directly fighting to express their self-inherent freedoms, and forced to do so against the very forces who supposedly go out and fight for our freedoms “over there”. Or worse, against the “businessmen” who make our freedoms “possible” through Capitalism. I’m sorry, but something doesn’t add up here.
But let’s be completely honest, we’ve never really been the “Land of the free”, we’re the Land of the kind of free, but not really. How do I know this? “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…” written by a bunch of men who owned other human beings. At the end of their rebellion, would they free these slaves as equal humans, deserving of rights? NO! Those slaves were held in bondage, and more were brought in, children were ripped from parents, husbands and wives torn from each other for another 80+ years. Their descendants were subject to one of the worst apartheid States the World has ever seen, and to this day, the further descendants are subject to conditions where the police see them as a threat just because of their skin color. A large portion of the media ask questions that they never ask of any other people like “where are the parents?” and 240+ years later so many people are still policed based on what they look like, who their parents were, what version of god they worship (or any god at all), who they love, etc.
You know who fought for freedom? People like Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser,  Gaspar Yanga (I know it’s Mexico, I care not), Sengbe Pieh, and so many others. They literally fought, or tried to fight, for their freedom. While there is a monument to the Amistad in my hometown of New Haven, CT, most of the time, we don’t have statues of these figures. These giants of history, who truly fought to be free, in a land that told them they were not. In a land that treated them and their descendants as property. Let’s be honest, at least about this much. We want to talk about fighting for freedom, we have to acknowledge the reality of our history.
Freedom is self-inherent, and can only be limited by violence. Even as far as that goes, you can only limit freedom when you’re watching the other party. Who do we watch now? Still minorities, as I stated above. Either ethnic minorities, or religious minorities, or any other minority we can sell to the public as the reason for their suffering. We even sell them themselves, as economic burdens, it’s amazing how people will vote against their own self-interest. I keep seeing stories of Trump voters crying foul now that some program they are dependent on is about to get slashed. I hold no sympathy for these people, as I doubt they will learn their lesson. Just as Sherman was sure that the South would not learn the lesson he taught them. As clearly they did not.
The point being, until we come to terms with the true history of this world. The history of colonialism, slavery, oppression, we will not progress. Given that we are near a tipping point which may see the extinction of most life on this planet, and possibly all life (highly unlikely, bacteria are amazingly resilient, as are tardigrades), it may behoove us to really pull our shit together here. That requires a reckoning with our past. That means tearing down the system built on the many different levels of oppression we’ve created, leveling everything, and putting something in place that works for all people, that lifts all life up and protects all. If we just keep worshiping armies and wars, and calling it “patriotism” and “freedom” we are doomed.

Have fun, keep running, and remember; if Gil can run then so can you!


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That’s it for Saturdays, for now

I got my last Saturday classes in for this school year. I got a little emotional when I was talking to the group getting ready to take the PET exam. I am really proud of how much work all of my students have put in this year. They all deserve to pass, and they should, but I wanted to let them know that if they have a bad day it’s ok. But it’s good that I get worried and that I get a little emotional about this. If I wasn’t invested in these students succeeding I wouldn’t be a good teacher. You can’t just worry about them passing because it looks good for you. Teaching is not about you, it’s about your students learning.
Then I headed home, I ran 10 miles and had a pretty damned good afternoon. It was hot and sunny but I kept a really nice pace the whole run. It was a strong wind coming off the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas the Pilgrim that thwarted me in the end. If not for that, this would have been my fastest time on this “course”. But I really do need to work on my core strength if I want to make this new running posture stick, because TBH it’s hurting my back a bit. I am sure I’ve mentioned previously, I am a sloucher. I’ve always hated it, the fact that I have horrible posture. But considering all the other things that were wrong with me, which I have since fixed, it was always low on the priorities list. I think I need to fix it now.
I had that discussion again today. People like to break my stones sometimes, but the fact is; while I don’t do any of this for vanity, I spent a very long time in my life not liking how I looked. I still see a fat kid with little noodle arms every time I look in the mirror. I’m still not convinced of my overall fitness, because of this. I try very hard to mitigate it all. I understand the psychological force that is advertising and how it beats us down, but I am not totally immune. I do refuse to let it be about vanity though, I know if I get a stronger core, and stop having so much of an “endurance runner” body, it will make my running easier, faster. That is what I really want, I want to be faster, I want to break 3:30 in a marathon, then 3:20, I want to keep being faster. Even though I will never be anywhere near the elites, I know there’s more in me.
Just like my mind, where I have stated before, I know I am even smarter than I understand I am right now. I know there is more capacity there, yet I hold back. I am too complacent to play the fool, and smile and nod along most of the time. It’s hard to believe the way I pour my heart and mind out on this page, but I still hold back. I feel like I hold back, like I have more to give. The worst part of that is, I don’t know what I’m looking for to let it come through.
That is to say, I know I have so much more in me to radiate out, and yet I lack the motivation, or discipline, to unleash it. I often wonder if I’m afraid, or if I’m too demanding of myself. That is to say, do I feel like if I fail, I will be too scared to venture on. Failure, in the past, was always a big setback for me. I think that is why I worry so much for my exam candidate students. I don’t want them to lose heart. You can’t always be happy, this is true, and you must always strive to be the best you possible. But sometimes it can be overwhelming and that’s ok. I keep reminding myself I am doing the best I can to be a better me every day, and that I want to keep saying, “I can” and avoid the “I can’ts”. But while I’ve fixed most of the physical damage I did to myself through my 20s and early 30s, the psychological damage of many more years remains.
I have always believed most of the stuff I believe today, but my ideas behind it, my thoughts on how the issue is created, and why have changed. I’ve never agreed with a war, even though if certain situations had met my conditions I would have supported the action. I’ve never agreed with the idea that our lives are meant to accrue some imaginary value put on fabric. I used to think the system was generally good, ambivalent even, and it was just wicked people bending it to their lustful desires. But I have learned the system is itself, inherently evil and cannot be fixed from within. That the wicked people’s lustful wants are exacerbating an already troubled situation. I used to think Einstein missed something and time travel was possible, but I realized that it would be impossible to rearrange the sub-atomic particles in such a way in which the past could reform itself, let alone you could travel to it and affect change. Moreover, it would be impossible to travel to the future, without destroying the present. Because no matter how hard I try, I can’t imagine a way around quantum mechanics.
I understand, in all this, I may be wrong. But chances are I am not. Because I always try to go with the best idea I can figure out. I am always willing to listen to other sources and other people, and change my ideas based on the facts. I realized that war always benefits only the wealthy, and it equally benefits the wealthy on all sides. That I realized by studying history. I realized the system itself was corrupt when I realized the thinking behind it, the philosophy and science of the “Enlightenment” was mostly flawed (there are a few things that have stood the test of time, but most of it is shit). That people aren’t evil and self-serving by nature, but those are ideas that are drilled into us, conditioned over generations. That we have learned through brain imaging technology that all animals learn, early on, through the same process of empathetic distress. So we are not greedy, selfish beings looking to accrue wealth, but we are empathetic beings, looking to discover what it means to be the Universe. Also, I realized that once a quantum state is observed, whether on a micro or macro scale, then it is measured, and it can’t go back to being in a state of flux. As much as I love Dr. Who, the fact is, it’s all fixed points and there is nothing that can be done about it. You can only move forward accepting what was done in the past, and fixing what you can. Yes, that is me making a case for reparations, oh no, I’m sure I pissed someone off now. But yes, if the society is set up on the backs of people’s labor and they were never compensated for that labor, then they were never able to pass any of the foothold of that system’s “payment” onto their offspring, and the effect snowballs, so yes, reparations are in order.
I have to do the same, move forward with what I have and just do my best every day. Keep the #PMA and try to improve. Try to be a better person to myself and all my brothers and sisters. Maybe one day I will be able to settle in and be comfortable enough with someone to pass on everything to another generation. I’d like that, to have kids. I’m still in no rush, but I have to say coming up on a round number in our non-universal, our egocentric/solarcentric time keeping system it is starting to eat at me. But I also know I can’t just rush into things here, that it is too important. Sounds silly, but it really is, if our job is to explore the Universe and figure it out, then it is up to us to raise the best children we can, because this is a generational issue. There will never be a time when we “figure it all out”, so each generation must ensure that the succeeding generation will carry on and improve the work. I think our parents screwed that up, bigtime. And they still blame us. It started with Gen-Xers being told they were shit, and now it’s only Millenials. I like being at the end of Gen-X and start of Millenials, I think it gives me a unique view into this. To see how full of shit so many people are about this. But yeah, I think the Boomers screwed up pretty big. They’re still at it is the worst part. But soon their time will be over and maybe we can right this ship.

Have fun, keep running, and remember; if Gil can run then so can you!


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It rained (and hailed) on my parade

Seriously, and it was those little tiny hail stones in high winds. So I started walking so I could put my head down and cover my face. It was like having needles shot at your face! But I persevered and actually had a decent run apart from that. Ankle feels pretty good, still a little stiff and sore, but not nearly as bad as it was. I don’t know how I’ll feel tomorrow though, the wind, rain, and hail sort of had me toss my new form to the, well, wind.
By the time I headed for work, the rain had mostly subsided, and as I write this afternoon it’s actually starting to clear up a bit. Which is good, because I’m standing at an uncovered bus stop waiting for the 20 bus to take me to the train station. I’m a little sad about all of it because tonight is my last class for the school year with my Thursday night class, and they’re all wonderful students and usually lots of fun. I know one of them is moving to Napoli next year, so he won’t be coming back in October. And from here on out, with the exception of my adult courses, it’s a series of “last classes”. I really like my students, I enjoy almost all of my classes. So I’m glad I’ll get some rest, but at the same time, I’ll miss coming to work every day.
Sometimes this job is challenging and even troubling, but my overall happiness is unmatched, and when I head a student achieved their objective it really makes it that much better. I’m 4-4 with students getting their B1 certificate so far this year!
So, since I started writing today, this day got out of hand. The bus was late, I had to rush into my First Certificate prep class, then had my last class with the KET students. So I got home and made an awesome dinner and now I need to get ready for bed. It’s lazy of me, but I’m cutting this short.

Have fun, keep running, and remember; if Gil can run then so can you!


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So yeah

OK, got my run in yesterday, but was super busy, and had no time to write. When I woke up this morning, I had just a slight discomfort in my Achilles’, so I think the KT Tape and focusing on a more upright running stance, pushing my foot-strike forward is helping. In fact, I was only 1 minute off my fastest 5 mile out-and-back along the Lungomare. So not only am I tackling the pain, but I seem to be picking up pace, because this run I did have a little discomfort at the start which slowed me. Considering it’s much hotter now, to the point I am soaked with sweat upon finishing my run, this is fairly impressive.
So a lot has gone on. Shitheads following people who make sure they have poor education, have destroyed the relative peace of a pop concert in Manchester. I feel terrible for those people, but why is there not this outrage about Syria, where children are dying every day as bombs from all over the world are falling on them? Where is this outcry and show of how great communities “come together during adversity” when suicide bombers hit Baghdad, or Kabul, or Lahore? When it’s in the West, we’re all over it, but anywhere else, from Africa, to the Middle East, to Asia it goes largely ignored. Perhaps brief lip-service is paid, but nothing beyond a passing blurb on the news-ticker, or a few words from the anchor before moving into the latest advertisement for something you don’t need.
Why don’t we care? I know the overall answer is racism, but there has to be more than that. There has to be something more that makes us shut off and not care. Because we should care. Empathy is our natural state; I know when I care about these things, as much as it may hurt it’s right. I don’t need to know someone there, I don’t need to have anything at stake personally. It’s normal for me to worry about, to care about what happens to total strangers. They’re here too, and they have every right to be here. Yet so many of us allow ourselves to be trained to believe that some people don’t belong here. We don’t question the removal of our kindness or empathy. For some it’s a natural reaction to external trauma, but for others, there’s almost a glee in it. Look at the heartlessness at work in the United States today.
There’s an entire movement of people motivated by the hatred of skin color, let’s face it, that’s all it is at this point, you cannot deny it. As Trump has done EVERYTHING anyone ever claimed was wrong with President Obama, and has even committed crimes at this point (something Pres. Obama never did) and yet they still support Trump and claim it’s somehow not the case. But more than that, the whole GOP is gleefully trying to kick people off health insurance. In the current proposed budget up to 9 million children, 9,000,000 children will lose their health insurance. Surely, CHILDREN are not “lazy takers”. How can they justify that children don’t deserve to be able to see a doctor? They slash every single government program, except for one thing. The military budget, already higher than the next 12 militaries in the world combined, they get more money. And with this multi-trillion dollar bloodbath of programs that protect our land, air, and water, which feed and clothe the most vulnerable among us, which make sure that children can get to see a doctor when they need it, what do they do? They cut taxes for the wealthiest among us by an even larger margin. So what is left is being paid for almost entirely by the people who are being denied any benefit of their own taxes. They claim tax cuts pay for themselves, however there is NO HISTORICAL EVIDENCE OF THIS. Unless you are taxing people at a specific rate, which the United States is nowhere close to! Lowering Federal Taxes will only cause a rise in other taxes anyway.
But they’re giddy about this. Not just the Orange Buffoon, but all of them. They know this tax plan has no chance, but they will come up with something as bad, or worse, that they can sugar coat and get passed. But this is what they want. They want to lower the bar. Companies are still moving jobs to countries where they can more readily exploit the workforce. They will do it regardless of how low we make the taxes, they will do it regardless of how much the unions are diminished. If they can’t outsource, they will automate. They will lower the quality of education, they will lower the standards of living. They will pump as much as they can into a military budget, and tell you that is your way to prosperity. They do it all over the world. They’ve learned this is the best way to keep as few people’s hands on the majority of resources. Who are they? They’re us, but specifically, they’re the ones who manage to get themselves into power. Most of the world’s resources have been under the control of the same families for hundreds of years, you can’t tell me that’s coincidence.
Just the other day on my train-ride home, I was sitting next to two guys from Senegal on one side, they were sailors on leave in the city; and two Pakistani guys on the other side, and we were all talking and having a good time. Some Bengali guys came and sat at one of the stops, they didn’t talk much, they were eating. But none of us had any problems with each other. I felt bad for the Pakistani guys though. They were brought here to work in a clothing factory, and their papers ran out, so they were told, and now they’re forced to work 15 hour days. That’s pretty atrocious. But they said it was better than living in Pakistan, even if living in the camps here are pretty shitty too. I encouraged them to try and reason with the other workers and fight the factory owner for fair treatment, petition the government for proper status. But the government doesn’t want to give them status. As much as politicians will speak against these sorts of things, the fact is they get donations from the factory owners, more than that, they get them from the label owners. I’m sure not one stitch of any of the Trumps’ clothing lines were ever done by one worker who wasn’t being exploited. This isn’t something that happens “over there”. This isn’t something that happens in Southeast Asia, or Central and South America. This happens everywhere. We allow our politicians to create situations where people’s only hope is to escape. We then allow them to make it impossible for those people to legally escape, thereby creating this giant, exploitable, massively profitable work-force. And we watch the advertisements and buy the products, and feed the whole beast.
They only want enough people in the “Middle Class” in order to feed this beast. Not because they want to kill people and destroy the planet, they don’t even care about that. Trump doesn’t care, he doesn’t think anything he does destroys the planet. He thinks that exercise will make him sick, he doesn’t think eating all the shit food he does is what makes him fat. (Not fat shaming, just saying he’s fat) He doesn’t care if people die, he doesn’t give a rat’s ass. He only cares about having more money and fame and power. That’s the whole thing. The idiots that support him and the entire party of sick bastards think one day they can have that money and fame and power too. They crave it. They buy into this idea that they are equally as “chosen” and they don’t understand it’s all a scam by people who truly don’t care at all.
I need to learn Italian quicker, because I need to be a voice for those guys I met on the train. I have legal standing here, they can’t take that from me. I can speak, I can petition, I can fight, and so I should. Because I care, because it is right to care, it is the way our brains are supposed to be. I’m going to keep caring, and I’m going to fight for what’s right no matter where I am in the world and no matter what may happen to me.
No hero is going to come and save us. There’s no Captain America, there’s no Superman, there’s no Black Panther, there’s no Wonder Woman. This is on us, we have to learn to be our own heroes, we need to learn to look out for each other. We need to resist, not just the system’s inequities, but the system’s drive to destroy our empathy, to kill that which makes us who we are. I keep coming back to this, we have to disarm ourselves, somebody has to be willing to allow someone else to fire the last shot. We need humility, we need empathy, we need compassion, we need unity. We need fairness, we need a system that works. If multiverse theory is correct, there is a world out there where we face none of these problems we have today. I hope, before it’s too late, we can view this world one day and see all the horrible mistakes we’ve made here.

Have fun, keep running, and remember; if Gil can run then so can you!


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That was interesting

So my Achilles hurt this morning, but not nearly as bad as it has been the last week or so. I decided to put on my compression socks and give 10 miles a try today, ended up running a half! Right about 2 hours, as my back started spasming around mile 7 and it took some time to get the muscles to calm down. Once it did I was still feeling pretty good. So when I hit the Villa I used the water fountain to replenish some fluids and then struck out to go 13.1 miles.
So I’m only a couple miles short of my usual for the week. I’m also going to look up how to tape my Achilles to aide in healing. I didn’t Body Glide my toes and the new stride caused a little blood to squirt out of a toe, haha. The whole way I tried to keep my mind on keep my hips forward and shoulders back. I am a slouch naturally, so it is difficult for me. I think I kept form more often than not, even though once I started feeling a pull in the tendon, right around mile 5.
Physically, I’m I’m much better shape. My blood pressure is still too high, but on hypertensive, not in the High Blood Pressure diagnosis area. I can’t remember the last time I used my inhaler, and since January I haven’t even had one thanks to those shitty thieves in Napoli. But I realize psychologically, emotionally, it is going to take me much longer to be ok. I’m still uncomfortable with my body overall. Even though I can compare pictures and see a vast difference, when I look in the mirror I still see the same. I was thinking, it’s been years since I’ve gotten myself to a healthy state, relatively. More than that, it was my fault for being unhealthy, this was my doing. Yet it is taking me years to fix the emotional damage of all this. I can only imagine how difficult it is for people who have nothing wrong with them, yet are told there is something wrong by a majority of society. Being told their skin, or their hair, or whatever trait about them is “wrong”. It breaks my heart thinking about that. I’ve talked about advertising and manufacturing before not caring. But in this context, thinking about how long it has taken for me to get here, and I haven’t overcome my self-inflicted psychological wounds, for people who are subject to external attacks it must be that much more difficult. Wishing to destroy the fashion or advertising industries is a fools errand, but we do need to abandon our system, if for no other reason than this. That we brutalized the minds of so many people on a daily basis, for their body shape, skin color, hair type, height, et al. Even in the “body positivity movement” there’s so much advertising bullshit, and I’ve mentioned this before. “Plus-sized model”, look either you’re a model or you’re not, size isn’t a factor. But no matter what they do, it’s going to be bullshit. Our entire system is predicated on the idea of making people feel deficient in order to buy goods and services. That is the point. You can’t do it on your own, you need us.
In this, I’m lucky, I am highly capable, I fail at things sure. I suck at basketball, I’m a terrible dancer, I’m still frumpy. But whatever, I don’t need some miracle pill or video series, I don’t need Billy Blanks or Richard Simmons to motivate me to get rock hard abs. If I want to take a dance class I will, but I have bigger fish to fry. At this point there’s nothing I can do about my trash game. Oh and I’m pretty awkward with people I like too, but that’s alright, I’ll just be me and anyone I’m interested in either gets it and digs it, or they don’t. And that’s fine, maybe I have a new friend, maybe they tell me to f-off, doesn’t matter. I don’t need some book on talking to people, I don’t need Tinder, or any app, or site like J-Date (although I’m not Jewish), or Match, or Plentyoffish or any of that shit. I’m just going to be me and maybe everything works out or it doesn’t. Simply put service industry, advertising, and all this shit; fuck you I don’t need your help.
I need help doing things that matter, like learning Italian, getting food (as I don’t own a farm so I can’t grow my own), having clothes to cover my body. But don’t make me feel bad about my choices with these things. I will wear what is comfortable with me, I will eat what coincides with my ideas about what is appropriate and what fits with my ethics in life. I try to avoid foods which exploit people and harm animals. It doesn’t always work out, but I do my best.
That’s the whole thing, I do the best I can, and I’m never complacent, I’m always looking to do better, in everything I do. Not because I want to be better than the person next door, but because I want to be the best me I can be. Not so other people pat my back and tell me they’re proud of me, but because that is what I am here to do. It’s what we’re all here to do, be the best us we can be. That doesn’t come from outside of us, it’s not the house you live in, it’s not the clothes you wear the jewelry, the cars, or whatever. Being the best you can be is about what you put out into the world. Do you lift people up? Do you help? Do you contribute? Or do you only serve yourself in the quest for what you’ve been told is desirable? Do you sell your soul for cars and jewels and riches and houses?
That’s all it comes down to, you can’t beat the person next to you. You can’t, even if it looks like you are. You can only be better than the person you were yesterday. I’ve made mistakes in my life, I’ve hurt people. I’ve been hurt by people too. I’ll make mistakes in the future, and I’ll be on the receiving end of mistakes as well. But I will always try to be a better Gil tomorrow. That’s my only goal, keep getting better. As I get better, I treat people better, I have a better impact on the world, and it doesn’t matter how limited or broad my impact is. It only matters that I have more positive impacts than negative. If everyone strove for this, we could eliminate the problems in this world in no time at all. Instead of being defensive and shitty when someone tells us we’ve hurt them, instead of defending ourselves and our ways when that happens, what if we listen and see if there’s a way we can improve to not cause that hurt?
This is the only way forward, as I’ve stated, as all scientific indicators seem to show, we need to do this sooner rather than later as we are running out of time. Don’t shut down dialog by being defensive, listen and learn and see what can be done. Take down your walls and just be, and realize you can be better. Life is a journey, and there is no destination, there is just simply being, and being the best you can be.

Have fun, keep running, and remember; if Gil can run then so can you!

Lyrics:
Make a change

I see it on the streets
As we walk right by
What little value
we place on human fuckin lives!

But it’s time we get priorities
It’s time to rearrange
Won’t turn my back any longer
It’s time we make a change!

People so cold
They ignore others’ pain
People too proud
To realize they’re the fuckin same

We all make a change

But it’s time we get priorities
It’s time to rearrange
Won’t turn my back any longer
It’s time we make a change!

Make a change
Make a change


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A lot going on

What a Saturday. Started off nice as anything, beautiful weather, got to work, had two great classes, even found some missing paperwork. It rained a little on the way home, threw together lunch, waited out a brief thunderstorm and then went for a run. I ran short today, my right Achilles is acting up, so I read up on that. Turns out it only happens in heel strikers and it usually means my shoes need to be changed.
With that knowledge, I decided to run short and focus on form, I tried to run with my hips more forward and my shoulders in line above. When I would catch myself slouching I would pick everything back up. We will see how my heel feels in the morning and go from there. I think I will try to run more properly anyway, from here on out because while different muscles were getting tired and sore, it also made faster speeds a little easier. I ran pretty fast today for someone with Achilles tendinitis, based on my usual pace. If I can find a place with my model shoe here maybe I’ll get a new pair and work on my foot strike with more support, to avoid any further issues. If not I will work through until I go back to the States. I hate that I’m going back, but I have to. I have to renew my license, getting an Italian license is untenable on my salary, and apparently my family misses me. I miss them too, but I’d prefer they come here to visit, as I’m much happier here. So that’s that
I had a very interesting conversation in my early class this morning though. I had them read an article from USA Today and one from the New York Times and compare the styles and language level. They agreed that NYT was much more difficult and more formal. My students are so smart! However, while going through the front page of USA Today they saw an unrelated article to what they read, about the British Royal Family. One of my students asks, “Why do we care so much about a Royal baby being born in England, but we don’t seem to ever care about a baby born in Africa or the Middle East, or anywhere really, unless it’s some “famous” person. My students, as I already said, are super smart.
I do not care what royal person is getting married or having a baby. I do not keep up with the Cardassians outside of watching old Star Trek:TNG episodes. I have never watched an episode of Amy reality show since the first season of “The Real World”. Seriously, I do not care. Particularly since I’ve started running. My time is valuable to me, and those people, the people on TV, the people telling me what I need to do to be “cool”, they have not earned my time. My time is worth something and  my time is better spent trying to break free of the system telling me I should waste my life worshipping these people.
If it weren’t for reality TV, we wouldn’t be in the complete mess we’re in now. We’d be in a much more manageable mess. How embarrassing was this week? More shenanigans from the occupied White House. Now this buffoon is about to give a speech in Saudi Arabia, while his son-in-law appears to be under investigation for ties to Russia. A special investigator was appointed by Congress to look into all this as well.
Then Roger Ailes died. Who was he? The architect of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News. He is partially responsible, along with President Reagan, for the mess we have in media. All the dishonest bullshit is due to a reversal of the fairness doctrine which required equal time. They also allowed for the purchase of American Media by foreign citizens (Rupert Murdoch). Then Ailes was hired to make Fox what it was. I should never be happy about someone’s death, but I’m alright with this one, like I was with Reagan. If ever given the chance I will gladly dance on his grave. It’s petty, but he did so much damage to this country, to this world. Other nations, copying what the US did, ended up handing a vast media empire to Murdoch who has done this all over. They lie to people to get them to believe what they want.
The other crazy things, a man seriously injuring and killing people in Times Square because he was drunk and apparently angry. That’s so shitty. People don’t drink and drive! And don’t get angry when you drive, you’ll get there when you get there. But more than that death is permanent, and because you were pissy you got behind the wheel of a ton and a quarter of plastic and metal and rammed it into people? Fuck you buddy.
Also Chris Cornell died. I was never a fan of most Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, or Audioslave songs. If his music brought you comfort or revealed some truth to you then good. If his death brings awareness to mental health and the importance of talking to doctors when you need help and paying attention to the medications you take, then this is a good thing. I’m sorry for his family’s loss, but on a personal level I am not upset. I hope that some good comes from all this. Don’t think I don’t understand that he was talented and whatnot, I just wasn’t that big a grunge fan.
I hope things start getting better in this world, removing that orange blight from the capitol of the United States would be a great start. I’m going to keep a positive attitude and work for the best. I’m also going to call people out for their bullshit, like I do with Trump almost every day, taking one of his horrible tweets and telling him to resign. I feel we have to be “in your face” with this menace.

Have fun, keep running, and remember; if Gil can run then so can you!

 


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Extinction

No seriously, but we’ll get to that in a minute. I didn’t get a chance to write yesterday, but I did run. I woke up this morning and ran again. Lots of fatigue this morning and at the end I just sort of let it go and walked a little bit.
So yesterday I got a little shock, insofar as someone who watched the same TV as I did as a child missed one of the big lessons we learned. It came in Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” series, where he mentions the 6th great extinction event. Now, he sugar coated it for sure, I mean in general. But I figured my siblings would have remembered like I did. I guess I was wrong. If they could forget anyone can, so I suppose that’s that. But I’ve talked about this before. Which also means said sibling doesn’t read this.
It went like this though, me saying that we don’t have the time to be patient and compromise, and let the system which is causing the problems get corrected, we need a societal and technological revolution in order to fix things now. They replied with, “war won’t fix this (even though I didn’t use the words warner violence, I said revolution) and people don’t like to be forced into changing.” To which I replied that when I say we don’t have time, I mean scientifically we are causing the next great extinction event right now, and it MIGHT already be too late to save humanity from  it, but there is a chance. This isn’t a matter of good PR campaigns and advertising, this is no time for compromise. Either we make substantive change now or we will perish, not us directly but maybe grandchildren, great-grandchildren. At which point the sibling thought I meant the only option was to give up. Such extremism right? No, we need to fight to try the best we can to mitigate this.
We can’t stop what is happening at this point, and it may actually be too late, but we can try to mitigate the damage and hope for the best. That’s what I’m always talking about. But I think most people; even if they grasp the concept of everything else running on geological or stellar time, instead of human time, don’t really wrap their minds around the idea that the things we do, are going to work their way through the biosphere at its time, not ours. Every predicted milestone for climate change has been reached ahead of what the models have said. Which means we’re missing factors that weren’t considered in the models. We are starting to learn about how methane is being released from places we didn’t expect, etc. But still, the fact that even if we didn’t use another fossil fuel ever again, starting today, that the concentration of atmospheric CO2 would not drop below 400 parts per million (which doesn’t seem like a lot but it is) until every human being on earth right now is dead is astounding. A baby, born yesterday, could live a full life, and yet even if no oil, coal, nor natural gas were ever burned in that entire life, atmospheric CO2 would remain on average above 400 ppm. Unacceptable.
This is only one of the factors, it’s the most sensational. That is why it gets used so frequently. It’s the easiest concept for people to understand, yet clearly we still struggle with it. How we manage the land is another whole host of issues. Let’s take a proposed “border wall” along the U.S. – Mexico line: it is obvious to even the casual observer that land animals would find migration impossible, imperiling their ages old migration routes can disrupt their reproduction, ability to gather food, etc. Walls, dams, pipelines, these are easy to understand.
What is difficult to grasp however, is the factory-farm industry, clearing arable lands for feed grain production, destroying the grassland biome of thousands of species and dumping poison chemicals all over to destroy these “pests”. Then fencing off the areas for the livestock, as well as clearing that land, and then eliminating any predatory species which may hurt profit margins by damaging sad livestock. All this also then contributing to the previously mentioned greenhouse gas emissions.
But humans are so adaptable, surely we can overcome all this and find safety and survival somewhere. Humans aren’t adaptable actually, we can use technology to overcome many natural obstacles, but we biologically are actually not very adaptable at all. As is, we are developing so many allergies to different food sources, we’re actually becoming less adaptable, more specialized. The entire food chain, top to bottom is dependent on plants converting solar energy into sugars, after that, predator or prey does not matter. Until a cow can process sunlight directly into energy for its cells, we need all the grasses and grains and everything else. We can overcome warm temperatures, cold temperatures, too much rain, too little rain, as far as it directly effects our physical beings. But we can’t grow crops without water and plant and animal species are much more susceptible to changes in environment. We can do little things to help but overall we can only do so much.
Given the situation we’re in and given that it may already be too late, this is why there’s no time for compromise, there’s no time to entertain the idiots and be nice about it. Because I know, not think, I know simply by probability, that people more intelligent and inventive than  Einstein or Newtown or Bruno or Fibonacci have been born and died in total obscurity or even worse, complete bondage. Our euro-centric, misogynistic bigoted, small-minded system has made it so people have been born, maybe lived a life, and died, people who had the natural ability to save us from this fate, yet were never heard from. Simply because they weren’t born in the right place, or to the right parents, with the right skin color, gender, they didn’t worship the right god, or didn’t “love” the right way. There’s no time for this bullshit anymore.
I take a moment to mention though that even if we weren’t facing the end of life on Earth (and yes thus may end up worse than the Permian Extinction), there is no justification for how we treat people. Even without this crisis, the only ethical, moral, logical way forward for humanity would be to abolish all these old prejudices and hatred and work together in our common purpose to explore and discover what all this really is, what we really are. Simply put, fuck your primitive hangups and economy. There’s a whole Universe out there waiting for us to come say hi, and you want to waste it all because you think (pick whatever minority group you want) are somehow not as deserving as you are to a made up system which distributes resources based on perceived value in work which is often completely unnecessary, or usually outright destructive, for life.
But right now, looking out to the stars is secondary, we don’t have the technology or energy to reach out that far. We need to get everyone together today, not tomorrow, not a week from next Tuesday, not next year. This can’t want for the next generation to work it out. Today, now, we need to come together, give everyone a chance at an education, clean water, air, and food. People shouldn’t be commodities to be exploited for profit and discarded when the shareholders demand a larger dividend. Our system is more than inherently destructive to our environment and very survival, it is destructive to being human.
We need all hands on deck, we need to mitigate and delay, so we can take all the best ideas and figure out how to survive, and how to try and preserve as much biodiversity as we can. Maybe we do have to take as much as we can off-world in some sort of generational ship, or preservational ship. But if we can’t get out of our own way now, and I mean right now, we cannot possible hope to survive.
So yes, I’m going to be terse sometimes, I’m going to be mean sometimes. I’m not going to be patient. I’m not going to rely on the system which caused this to fix it. The system demonstrably can’t fix this problem. There’s no bandaid to slap on society to make this one all better. This requires a complete change, and it needs to be fairly immediate. Science has been warning us about Climate Change since the late 40s! The realization that we are in the next great extinction event is a little newer, but it is not met with the same sort of urgency one would think such a thing would inspire.

Have fun, keep running, and remember; if Gil can run then so can you!
*Another Editor’s Note: At the time of publishing, all Hell has broken loose in the USA. Once some dust clears, I will comment.


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After all that

Looks like I can stay in my usual running routine. This is a good thing. I got out today and took it easy. A little humid, but a nice morning to run. Even had enough time to meet with my landlord and pay rent. Now I’m paid up until I go on Summer Vacation.
So that’s what was in my mind. I feel a major difference when I’m here. Sure I love my family and miss them sometimes, but overall I am much happier here. I get to live life the way I want to for the most part. If I didn’t have to work I could go days without speaking to anyone. I can go to the sea, well I do technically go every day. As my usual running route takes me to the port. I cook the best meals I’ve ever made in my life, drink fantastic wine that is super cheap.
The point is, I’m a generally happy person and being here really allows me to express that. The weight of expectations back in New England often limited that expression. There are always things that will be difficult. Conflict makes life exciting, for better or worse. But the conflict here, scheduling issues, having to wait for a train, or people driving like idiots are so minimal, so relatively benign. The crushing debt, both literal and figurative, of American life simply does not agree with me.
That being said, it will be nice to see everyone and get some paperwork done, like renewing my license. I would certainly feel better about returning there if things were a little more stable with the government, I am very concerned still about going through airport security. I worry about them taking my phone and stuff like that. Not because they’ll find anything, just because it’s a shitty thing they’re doing and I’ll make a scene. Because we should make a scene, this shit isn’t right, it isn’t normal. But I’ll cross that bridge if I come to it.
Right now, I’m waiting for the bus to get to my first class of the day, taking the bus here is new for me. I took a short contract at a company outside the downtown area to make a little extra money before the break. The only way for me to get there is by bus or a very long walk in a very intense Sun. I’ll spend the Euro on the bus.
But I’m sitting on these new benches they installed in the shopping area and so many people complained about. They’re modern, they look a little weird, I get it. But they’re comfortable and if more people skated in this city, they’d be getting used for that. They have a nice edge to grind on and one side angles down to the ground. And for all the complaints, the fact is people have no problem sitting on them. It allows me to sit and glom off the McMurder’s wifi signal. Terrible of me, using the WiFi of a company I hate.
Hey, it’s not my fault they are killing the Earth and they can’t even manage to keep meat out of French fries. So they get my info for their wifi login and so be it. When I get back in September I’ll see if I can bump my cellphone data up to 5 or 6gb a month and then I won’t have to use WiFi Hotspots at all, ha. But do you see how small my daily worries are here? Some really meaningless stuff. It not only allows me to be happier personally, but I get to spend more time pursuing new knowledge and examining old. It allows me to look at the injustices visited on other people and try and craft messages to fight those injustices, to make life better for the oppressed.
Overall, me being here is a positive, and not just for me. So I’m going to hope I can keep this going for a very long time, and I also hope instead of just trying to lure me back that my friends and family would come see how truly wondrous this experience is.
*Edit: I didn’t get a chance to publish this yesterday.

Have fun, keep running, and remember; if Gil can run then so can you!


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Happy Mother’s Day

Got up early for a Sunday, got lots of stuff done, went for a run, although I cut it short. Originally, I wanted to run a half, but the Sun was super harsh, and with such a short turn-around from yesterday’s run it was too much. But I am right on target for the month, I got to the beach, I swam, I washed my clothes, changed my sheets, made a fantastic lunch, with a lovely fruit salad, all this before the majority of the East Coast of the US was even awake. Why? So I could be ready for when my family got to my mom’s house so I could call and wish a Happy Mother’s Day, because my mom broke her cellphone, and won’t have a replacement until Tuesday. So until my sister got there, I had no way of talking to her.
I kept reminding my family that instead of looking forward to my return to the United States (I have to because I have to renew my license and take care of some paperwork, even though I don’t want to right now), they should be planning to come visit me. It is demonstrably nicer here. Yes, there are a few things which are annoying. But generally speaking, it’s much better. Case in point, everyone complained to me how cold it is in Southern New England today, whereas I had to cut my run short due to the heat, and then went to the beach and swam for the rest of my morning! Although I have water in my ear, been trying to get rid of it all day to no avail.
But Mother’s Day got me thinking about how we raise children. I was talking to someone about how I had to wait, and give my sister time to get settled and into my mom’s house before I called, because of the fact my nephew is 2 and younger niece is 4. While I was waiting, I thought about that. It doesn’t make sense, “the Terrible Twos”, as we call it. Children throwing fits because things aren’t the way they want it. Evolution-wise, this makes no sense. You’re roaming the plains and the child, too large to carry, yet still having difficulty walking throws itself down on the ground screaming, for every predator in the area to hear? Would never be allowed. This “condition” is clearly an example of where humanity gets it wrong. I can only guess that as the mind is developing, being that we are not following a natural development for our offspring, that “the Terrible Twos” are a product of the developing child attempting to reject the unnatural methods enforced by society as it currently exists. Maybe I’m missing something, but from what I’ve observed, it just doesn’t seem to fit. Yes, developing life forms will test their limits, but to the point of being a detriment to all, I just don’t imagine that.
I’ve spoken before about how I feel we are generations deep in conditioning, further back than most people that believe in it even think. More than that, I think things like “the Terrible Twos” are a symptom of that. I think we need to start listening to that stuff, if we want to fix the problems we cause ourselves. I’m pretty sure the vast majority of human behavior, at this point, is learned behavior. Even the stuff we consider completely natural. Anyway, I will not harp on this point tonight. I’ll just say that I think you should question your motives for everything you ever do.

Have fun, keep running, and remember; if Gil can run then so can you!


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The beginning of the end (of the school year!)

So many of my friends and family are posting about graduating, as Universities are ending their school years. I keep thinking “I graduated years ago, but I keep learning.” That’s the thing, if you don’t keep learning through life, whether in an institution or not, you are doing something wrong. If all you ever learn reaffirms what you believe and nothing you learn ever challenges your beliefs, you’re also doing something wrong. Because pobody’s nerfect. I’ll get back to that.
So I got to work early this morning and it was the toughest Saturday I’ve had all year. I love my Saturday classes, both B1 level classes (well now is technically a B1+, as all three students passed their PET exams!). But for a Saturday morning my students are not only bright, cheery, and attentive, but they are genuinely nice people, who seem to have a real interest in the classes and learning. But today, I had to do mock exams for so many students and I spent my morning running around the building getting everything done. I still have to correct everything on Monday. That’s part of the end of the year stuff for the ESL teacher. So I’m not upset about it, but I’m just stating, by the time I got home I was really tired. Then it was time for lunch and instead of just heading out for my Saturday run as has become my custom I waited. Because the other part of this equation is that it is hot here now. Summer has shown up, and it’s doing it big.
Today is cooler than yesterday, but it was high 70s (about 25° C) today. The change has been pretty much overnight, and last year, the high temperatures came on earlier. The other thing is, the Sun is intense here. There isn’t much to block anything around here. Another teacher was remarking on her time in Abu Dhabi she never got a sunburn, because while it’s hot the Sun is often muted by all the dust in the air. So with the Sun out and heat up, I waited to go for my run. At first I wanted to get a longer run in, but I didn’t bring water with me and I needed to tape up the nips. I’m sweating so much in this heat the body glide is not working for very long. So back to band-aids on anything 10 miles or more.
Anyway, back to the lecture at hand, learning. Anyone who thinks they know everything is an idiot. Anyone who thinks, “I know this, so I don’t have to worry about that,” is an idiot. Anyone who thinks they have the answer, is an idiot. I don’t have any answers, I definitely don’t know everything, and I have to worry about everything I can observe. Seems daunting and depressing? It’s not. It’s impossible to know everything, even if one day we were to discover the exact origin of the Universe, I mean completely describe the Big Bang, reconcile the standard model with quantum physics, whatever the issue may be, I guarantee new questions will arise. So anyone, who today claims to know things, they’re too stupid to know that they don’t know.
Well why worry? Because we should search for answers. It’s not up to some magical sky being, it’s not up to some “Earth Mother” or any outside force. We are here now, and we have our senses and our reasoning and our language, and we can attempt to describe things. Regardless of any “ultimate truth” about gods or anything else, I think it is incumbent upon every human being to explore that which we can. But more than that, it’s incumbent upon us to care for each other, all other human beings. Not just the ones our prejudices and preconceived notions tell us are “worthy” or care and concern. Look, I worry about Donald Trump, and not because he could literally destroy the world in one of his tantrums. I worry about him, because as horrid as he is, he is still an expression of humanity. I go to sleep at night hoping I wake in the morning to news of his death, I really do, and that’s terrible of me. I’m not sure that he can be rehabilitated, and I don’t care at this point as I’ve said, he’s hurt so many people. So, while I want him removed by any means necessary, I do hope he can be healed, I hope he doesn’t do real harm to those who are around him who legitimately care for him. I honestly worry that none of the people around him actually care for him, I think that’s where his hate stems from. But, it’s a chicken and egg, because surely most of his misery stems from his own view in which all things in life are capitalistic transactions. However, I worry, I think that’s why I enjoy Steven Universe so much. I see much of myself in Steven.
Also, Donnie Pee-Party is a perfect example of someone who claims to have all the answers and has none. He claims this, yet all his ideas are the same ideas we’ve ever tried which haven’t worked. Trickle-Down Economics DOES NOT WORK. This is demonstrable. Jingoism, isolationism does not work, this is also demonstrable. His attempts as Fascism, we know fascism does not work. Class-warfare, racial hatred, racism, bigotry, these are his answers. They’re not answers at all, they are opiates. They are there to make the down-trodden, yet horribly uneducated feel like they shouldn’t worry about that feeling in the back of their heads telling them it’s the system and the system needs to change. His answers are to shit on the fringes of society, to make the slightly less outside people not rebel against the system which keeps people like him wealthy, and the vast majority of us in crushing poverty, or worse. That’s a good way to put it, Donnie’s idea is to use whatever rhetoric he needs to in order to make the “crushing poverty crowd” hate the “have it even worse crowd.” That sounds horribly cynical, but don’t let it be. Do you feel like you’re in either one of those groups, if you’re in the crushing poverty group you need to accept and love the have it even worse crowd, and not blame them for your position in life, or theirs. You need to recognize it’s systemic.
I don’t know much, but I know if we all come together and live together and learn together and love together, good things will come of that. That’s not an answer, it’s just the best idea I’ve come up with based on the best observations. I don’t blame people for their “station” in life, that’s a product of the system, regardless of any of their perceived or real character flaws. Beware of anyone who tells you someone else specifically, is to blame for your trouble, and that people who struggle are to blame for their own misery. Beware anyone who gives you answers. The other side of that is look for people who challenge you to really find the answer on your own, who advise and encourage you to learn and walk your own truth. Look for the people who are looking to build, not rule. Nobody should ever want to rule, we should want to build, create, and explore, that is what we are made to do.
In that sense I give you:

“I’m not telling you what to do, I’m just bringing up three things that are like so important to the rest of the world, that I don’t happen to find as much importance in”, and that’s the thing. He’s not telling anyone what to do, he’s just giving an idea, his idea. I don’t agree with him, I’m not Straight Edge and never have been, but I do agree with his overall concept, of finding his truth and encouraging others to find theirs. Thanks Ian.
Have fun, keep running, and remember; if Gil can run then so can you!


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