Thursday, January 29, 2009

Brain-boosting in the gym.

My training sessions in the gym are twice a week at 5:30am. I am extremely pleased with the way they are going after nearly a month with Jeremy as my trainer. I am working with more weight and more cycles of each exercise than I've ever been able to do before. I have two really tough types of "step up/step down" exercises, designed to improve my balance and coordination. I have some inflammation under my right kneecap this week that may be a side effect of strength work on the muscles around the knee. I'll tape it and do the training walk on SuperBowl Sunday, unless it's worse. And I'm seeing my orthopaedic specialist on Monday to ensure I understand how much I can do during training.

I just finished reading an article on exercise and creativity from CIO magazine and here are a couple of excerpts: "Continuous or intense stress can harm brain cells, brain structure and brain function, causing such side effects as memory problems or depression, according to neuroscientists...Best-selling novelist and marathoner Haruki Murakami says running fuels his creativity. And if you've ever had that feeling of giddy invicibility after a great run or bike ride, you know exercise can make you feel sharper. In the short term this is because exercise lowers stress, boosts blood flow to your brain and releases endorphins--neurotransmitters that suppress pain and give your body the feeling of a natural high."

The gym work is cross training for the walking. That it feeds my brain and may fuel creativity as well is a side benefit. The idea that Tracy and I could walk twice a week in January even as we got booked up with lunches with folks who are leaving the company as of today was not realistic. But after Sunday's walk and getting ourselves moved to a new location next week, we should be able to walk twice a week along the waterfront. The team training walks start on Saturdays in mid-March. That should give me a great routine to carry forward as I travel the country by train in April.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Last Hurrah Lunch

Many members of our teams are leaving at the end of this week, so we had a "Last Hurrah" lunch today. Every team member got a certificate, and then the leaders who work with me surprised me with one for "The Princess of Darkness -- For her ability to build and lead quality teams and to always shine the light on risk issues, regardless of how dark the message."

Xin Nian Kaui Le!

It is now the Year of the Ox. Above, a mixed media illustration by my cousin James Hayes, from Ireland. I think it's good we have moved to the ox for 2009 -- an ox is strong and capable of carrying a heavy load upon its back. We are going to need him in this economic climate! To see more of the work of James or his wife Lorraine, go to

"In the Chinese zodiac, 2009 marks the Year of the Ox. Oxen are known for their patience and determination. They embody high ideals of loyalty and their work ethic is unmatched. These traits might make them seem strong-minded and stubborn, but there are none more dependable." The sign of the ox is evidently Barack Obama's own Chinese zodiac sign.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Photos from James...

On the Mall: James (left), friend Gavin from Carnegie Mellon (center), and BBC correspondent named Alex whom they met (right).

On the way to the Mall...

Another perspective on the size of the crowd at the other end of the Mall from the Capitol.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Lincoln Memorial.

Here is one of my favorite views of the Lincoln Memorial. Together with the Vietnam War Memorial, it is a visual icon -- each a symbol of a turbulent time in American history, each now a healing place. I am using this this photo as a placeholder until my son James can send on photos from near the Lincoln Memorial. If you had to be far back in the crowd, then this would be the monument to be near.

I received an award in 1989 from the U.S. Small Business Administration, and took James with me to Washington DC when I went for the ceremony. He must have been five or six. On the way to the airport, I had the cab driver stop at the Lincoln Memorial so he could see what I look up at every time I visit that city. I don't know whether or not he remembers his first visit to see Abraham Lincoln, or me reading the words to him of the second inaugural address, but I like to think it helped form his world view.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Eyewitness Account.

Our correspondent Lauren Graf snagged two tickets for the Inauguration and was able to file this report, even though she is busy catching up with her graduate studies at UNC Chapel Hill.

"At 6:30 a.m., we set off in the dark for the Mall. It took us nearly an hour to find the end of the line for our section, as thousands and thousands of ticketholders had already beaten us, some arriving as early midnight. The cold was intense, and although we were bundled in layers, our toes quickly turned numb. The crowd was thick and overwhelming in every direction, but the excitement was palpable, and any fatigue was quickly erased by the looks on the faces of the people, old and young, surrounding us. In line, we stood next to a 92 year-old black man in a wheelchair who traveled all the way from California to witness the occasion. Young children were dragged along reluctantly by parents who reminded them of how grateful they would be one day for having suffered through the cold.

It seemed a bit silly to complain; after all, we were the lucky ones with tickets.

Around 9:15am, we made it past security into a fenced-off area behind the reflecting pool. People continued to file in as the youth choirs of San Francisco took to the stage at 10:30. The energy crescendoed with the music (Annie, I know you would have particularly enjoyed all the marches performed by the U.S. Marine band). And then Aretha with the unbelievable pipes and hat to match.

We weren't close enough to Capitol to see the ceremony directly, although we were right in front of a jumbotron. I couldn't help but realize, however, that the event was just as much about the crowd surrounding me as it was about the people on the balconies of the Capitol. So much was said by President Obama in his inaugural speech: "For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies." Even with all the pomp and beauty of the ceremony, it was the dignified smiles and tears on the patchwork of faces around me that were the most remarkable."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

As far as the eye can see -- a new day.

"As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.

Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.

Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake.

And so, to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more."

--President Barack Obama, from his Inauguration Address

Monday, January 19, 2009

Today, we remember. Tomorrow is a new day.

Today is always a trip down memory lane. Here are some photos from the 60s that I pulled out of news archives today. When I look at the photos, it is as real as it can be. Above, Birmingham fire hoses trying to drive off civil rights demonstrators in the early 60s -- but it could just as well be Jackson, Mississsippi with me and other SNCC members from the University of Iowa. Next to fire hoses, electric cattle prods were the other weapon of choice for the police. SNCC meant non-violence at all times so, when the police pushed us back, we sat down. Often when we sat down, this is what happened. The idea was to drive us out. Instead, it strengthened our resolve.

This is a tight shot of Dr. King giving the oft repeated "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington, a few months later in the summer of 1963. The media had begun to follow the story, and the president and the government had begun to respond.
This photo was taken a week before Martin Luther King was assasinated in Memphis in 1968. Dr. King was marching on behalf of black sanitation workers. Sadly, this march erupted into a riot, the only apparent outlet for anger.

Here are the conditions under which the black sanitation workers demonstrated . Note both the armed soldiers and the tanks.
March 1965 -- The march from Selma to Montgomery, two years after the "March on Washington" and three years before Dr. King was killed. It took three tries to get the march done, as chronicled below. You can see how much has changed in this country since that time. Today, we remember not just Dr.King but all those who gave their lives for freedom
* * * * *
Sunday, March 7, 1965, "Bloody Sunday"
At 1:00 P.M. as 600 peaceful marchers approached the bottom of the
Edmund Pettus Bridge they were met by Alabama state troopers and local deputies. The marchers were preparing to march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama which is the state capital. They were marching the 54 miles in protest to the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson and unfair voter registration practices.
ordered to end the march by state troopers, the marchers were given three minutes, but within one and half minutes they were attacked by dogs, beaten with billy clubs, tear gas, and chased by posses. As the marchers were being attacked the ABC television network was there to film the march not knowing that it would become violent. The ABC television network immediately stopped the present show to introduce to the country the brutality that was taking place in Selma, Alabama. This day became known as "Bloody Sunday."
Turnaround Tuesday, March 9, 1965
After the (first) brutal attack on the Selma marchers, Dr. King sent a telegram around the country asking for ministers of all faiths to come to Selma, Alabama to march to Montgomery, Alabama. While waiting for the judge's decision to march, Dr. King received word that the judge had denied the march to take place on Tuesday, and it would be Thursday before a decision would be announced. With 1,500 people of all races waiting to march Dr. King made a decision to continue the march. As the marchers were singing "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round" when they reached the bottom of the Edmund Pettus Bridge once again they were met by the Alabama state troopers.

When the marchers were ordered to end the march, Dr. King and the marchers knelt down, prayed, and walked back to Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church. Dr. King made a decision to discontinue the march because he did not want violence to happen as it did on "Bloody Sunday." Because Dr. King and the marchers turned back and marched to the church this became known as "Turnaround Tuesday." Later that evening three white ministers were attacked and beaten with a iron pipe. Rev. James Reeb was badly injured and later died from a blow to the head. The death of Rev. Reeb gained national attention. President Johnson introduced the Voting Rights Bill.

Third MarchSunday, March 21, 1965
After the death of Rev. Reeb, Governor Wallace flew to Washington DC to meet with President Johnson. He claimed that the state of Alabama did not have enough manpower to protect the marchers along highway 80. President Johnson then ordered the Alabama National Guardsmen to protect the marchers from Selma to Montgomery. Later that day President Johnson made a speech to the nation about the "Bloody Sunday" event. Many Negroes felt that it took the death of a white minister for the President to become concerned about the movement and not the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson. Finally, Judge Frank Johnson gave permission for the march to take place after viewing the "Bloody Sunday" news tape. He then ordered Governor Wallace not to interfere with the march. On Sunday, March 21, 1965, about 3,500 people with the nation watching left Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church marching and singing to the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Among the marchers were
ministers of all faith and races, leaders from every major organization, and celebrities such as Ralph Bunche and Harry Belafonte. To protect the marchers about twelve planes and helicopters flew over the marchers. Once the marchers covered seven miles, as ordered by President Johnson only 300 were allowed to walk highway 80. The other 2,000 marchers were taken back to Selma by Alabama railways.

Montgomery AlabamaThursday, March 25, 1965
Around noon over
25,000 marchers had lined the streets of Montgomery in front of the capitol because they were not allowed on the steps of the capitol. Governor Wallace sent a message at about 2:00 PM to say that he would meet with a delegation, but they must be Alabamaians. Dr. King delivered one of his most powerful speeches about the injustices done to the Negro people in Alabama. Listen to a portion of the speech.
After this great speech a group of 18 Negroes and 2 whites attempted to give a petition to Governor Wallace, but his executive secretary tried to accept the petition, so Rev. Joseph Lowery refused to place it in his hands.
Around 6:00 PM the marchers were transported back to Selma by buses, trains, and cars. They were advised to leave the city of Montgomery before dark. Sadly, on that evening a white woman by the name of
Viola Liuzzo was driving from Montgomery heading back toward Selma and was killed by klansmen.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

We Are One.

Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen this afternoon at the "We are One" concert.

If you ever want to hear most the songs of the civil rights movement sung with an open heart, it would be worth it to try to find an early 60s recording of Pete Seeger with The Freedom Singers at Carnegie Hall (see top photo). Today, he and Bruce Springsteen lead thousands who sang one of our anthems --

This land is your land
This land is my land
From California
To the New York island
From the redwood forest
To the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking
A ribbon of highway
I saw above me
The endless skyway
I saw below me
That golden valley
This land is made for you and me.

Though today this has become a song that even Boy Scouts sing, it was not always so. The song was written by Woody Guthrie in the 50s. "We Shall Overcome" was reserved for singing as you were being arrested, but this song -- along with "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize, Hold On" -- were our marching songs, the ones that seemed to cause the spit and the racist comments to erupt in the early 60s.

I'm so happy to see the smiles on their faces today. Pete Seeger must be 90 years old by now, and he looks especially pleased to be sharing the song with The Boss. It would be hard to find two men more committed to the struggles of working people of any color. And Lauren was there to hear it.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Celebratory cadenzas.

Having spent part of the afternoon watching the Inaguraul Train wend its way from Philadelphia to Washington DC, and watching/listening to those who stood in the bitter cold to catch a look at the president-elect, we thought our day could not get much better. But we took ourselves to Benaroya Hall this evening. With Douglas Boyd as guest conductor, we heard Mozart's "Concerto No. 24 in C Minor," played by Yefim Bronfman, who must surely have one of the most exiquisite touches at the keyboard. Then we were treated to David Gordon playing Haydn's "Concerto for E Flat Trumpet." I have recordings of this concerto by both Gerard Schwartz and Wynton Marsalis, each of whom play in clear bell like tones. But Gordon's performance surpassed exceptional, including his own masterfully imagined cadenza -- a "virtuosic solo passage, either improvised or precomposed in the spontaneous, free-sounding style of an improvisation, inserted near the end of a musical composition or section."

Next to language, music is the most powerful agent for change that I know.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Take five.

As I drove in for an early morning training session in the gym today, I marveled again at how very difficult it is to interfere with the complex machine that is our body. Before each session, I find myself getting apprehensive that my new trainer will push my right knee too far and that it will hurt more. His very rational explanation is that we can be successful at strengthening the muscles around the knee even if we can't fix the joint itself. So he's devised a couple of killer exercises for those muscles and for overall balance. I have decided to trust him.

Don't we always need ways to make things feel new? I find it helps me a lot if I can see the difference between now and the past. Toward that end, I've decided to invest in some new gym clothes, and to donate many old gym and walking clothes.

I've also started to map my train routes a little more closely for April. This is going to be a great adventure, and I am resisting impulses to regiment or organize or overplan it into the ground. I found out today that the first weekend of the New Orleans Jazz Festival features Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra as well as the Dave Matthews Band, James Taylor, Joe Cocker, and Earth Wind & Fire, among others. It looks like I'll stay all three days so as not to miss a bit.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Techology is our friend...

It took me long enough to figure out that my Blackberry 8310 Curve had a camera in it. Today I finally figured out how to get the pictures offloaded. And look what I found!

These next shots were taken from the field during the 2008 60 mile walk for breast cancer during Closing Ceremonies.

These odd pink tubes hold roses. Each of the walkers received one.

And here in the foreground, Kindred Spirits team captain Penny Kellam.

Penny made 100+ of the pink ribbon wands that we are carrying along with the roses.

Still more of the team, all of us decked out in these extremely hot shirts. At this point, we just want to go home.
It's all coming back to me now, from this little trip down memory lane. We raised $8.6 million!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Taking it on the knees.

I donated some books today to the Northeast Library, and miscalculated three rather shallow steps down. No damage to face or upper body. I'm iced up and tucked in with ibuprophen and tiger balm. I think I'll be fine tomorrow, and note that this has not happened for six months. But I'd gotten careless about removing my glasses when I am not reading, so I will try to make that slight adjustment right away.

Monday, January 5, 2009

"I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best." -- Oscar Wilde

I had a plain and simple weekend. My friend Susan, just back from holidays in Spain and Italy, came across the bridge for hot fudge sundaes and career-specific advice on Saturday. Lauren and I had brunch yesterday at Volunteer Park Cafe. And James and I were able to find him a combination book bag/briefcase at Blue Bird in Ballard, completing his holiday list -- or should I say my list for him. It has been exhilarating to spend so much time with him. He is here until Wednesday late morning, and then flies back to Pittsburgh to start his next semester at Carnegie Mellon.

This morning Tracy and I settled upon two lunch hours each week to begin training for the 3 Day Walk. We can easily get 2-3 miles along the waterfront, to the Olympic Sculpture Park, including up and down Harbor Steps. Since formal training does not begin until March, this is a chance to get my mojo working early, along with the twice a week gym work with a trainer.

Have I mentioned my project for April? I am done with my current position at the end of March. I plan to fly to New York City for several meetings sometime the first week of April, then take the train south to stay along the way with old friends -- James in Pittsburgh, my sister in Princeton, Clarissa in DC (plus a few more meetings), then to Lauren in Chapel Hill, then southwest to the 40th annual New Orleans Jazz Festival with Wynton Marsalis , then on to Austin, to see dear friends. At that point, I could go on to Phoenix and more friends and family, or just fly home. I love the idea of riding the rails with my camera and no distractors, just time to truly relax via a 30 day rail pass.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

"Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you." -- Maori proverb

Thinking too much about life's inequities usually leads to action on my part, and today was no exception.

I have set up my 2009 3 Day Walk donation site, and sent out 135 appeals for early donations.

I pondered various headlines for the site, and ended up using one by Randy Pausch -- "We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand." He was the Carnegie Mellon University professor who died in 2007 of pancreatic cancer. His lecture, titled "Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," is available on the internet by typing in "Last Lecture." Read it to start the New Year right, and to remind yourself to be thankful. You will see that he certainly turned his face to to sun, with joy.