Wednesday, August 31, 2005

One down, one more to go

This year should be aptly named “The Year of The Car” for our family.

This year, specifically this summer we needed to get two cars.

The lease on the Tahoe expires in a month.

Jill’s Pontiac Grand Am was dying a slow and painful death.

As far as function and purpose was concerned we need to get one car and an SUV or mini-van. With gas prices anticipated to hit the three dollar mark and predicted to be at 5 dollars by the end of next year we decided to not keep the Tahoe. It costs us about sixty dollars a week to keep the beast going. Don’t get me wrong, the Tahoe is a spectacular vehicle. A true joy to drive and thing of pride and joy for me. For many years I had wanted a Tahoe and for the last six years I’ve had two of them, so in some way I am sated.

Last month brought the swift demise of Jill’s car. Because of the multiple trips that I take to school and work I was the one that got stuck with it. We were trying to save the mileage on the Tahoe. The Grand Am then began to overheat, daily. Then the air conditioner would die as soon as the car over heated. We knew that the car would not last. With the little bit of money that we had for a down payment we headed into the Honda dealership and got a 2005 Pilot. I know, at the moment we have 2 SUVs. As soon as October rolls around we’ll turn the Tahoe back in. Around that time arriving on a boat from England and across the country by truck our new Mini Cooper S should be in.

With a curb weight of 2200 pounds and 160 horses under the hood the Cooper S is quite a vehicle. The fun factor alone is worth the 36 smiles to the gallon. The little rat of a car zips around corners and can pass a semi on the freeway with great ease.

Jill did not want the manual version, she glugged and stalled it too much on the test drive. As a compromise we got the automatic transmission with the tripronic paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The right paddle shifts up, the left shifts down, just like on the formula one cars.

Yes I fit, no it’s not a clown car.

We’ll keep you posted when the new “baby” arrives.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Confessions of a Non-Running F@#%

Running here in Arizona is challenging if not impossible at certain times of the year. With the temperatures over 100 degrees there is a serious risk of heat exhaustion or even heat stroke.

I am historically a vampire runner. I like to run in the dark.

1. I overheat easily
2. I am self conscious of myself and don’t want people to see me running

I have a treadmill in my house that basically solves both of those problems, but like many have gravitated away from working out for various reasons. I went 5 months without working out earlier this year. At one point the treadmill served as a valet and was covered with my work shirts and slacks.

My first impression of running as a hobby or past time was that it was inane, boring yet at the same time painful and meaningless experience. Once I managed to get past the third block on the run my opinion changed, but not very much.

I was made to run, it was not a choice but rather a conspiracy between my grandmother and mother who had decided that I was too fat for my own good and that the only way to get rid of the 35 extra pounds that I was carrying as a 7th grader was to run it off.

In high school I ran so slow that the gym teacher did not even stay to record my time for the 2-mile run. The entire class had left me out on the field

On the first day of basic training a drill sergeant, Sergeant Kolonie had me run up and down the street in what seemed like a meaningless exercise. After several short sprints he declared, “Flores, you are one non-running f#@%.” Later that year he would be involved in the death of a young recruit as a result of heat exhaustion on a forced march.

When I was in the 82nd Airborne Division I was constantly having challenges and was often falling behind on PT runs. No matter what I did I was just never fast enough.

My lack of running talent is highly apparent even on film. I starred as a police detective in a student film at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. As the part of an officer chasing a younger subject I in comparison look as if I am running in slow motion. It was laughable. Running in a suit, trench coat and weapon holster is no easy thing mind you.

Over the years I have picked up running now and again. It’s been more on than off and for the most part I still suck at it.

But there have been some fleeting moments, when I was in shape and able to run a long distance. I felt that I was flying, that I was not moving and that the road beneath me was. It was a Zen experience. I hope to feel that way again soon.

The human resources manager at my work started on a running program recently. She signed up with Team in Training, a program that benefits Leukemia and Lymphoma victims. She has no running experience but was brave enough to sign up for a 13.1 mile half-marathon. With all of my years of experience as a beginning runner starting over and over again I decided to impart my little wisdom and training tips to her. In doing this she in turn inspired me to start running again. All of the dress shirts and slacks have come off of the treadmill. I run 3 to 5 times a week and I’ve been at it for over two months now. Like a little hamster on a wheel I get on and plod away daily as the fake asphalt moves beneath my feet at the desired rate of speed (which is usually slow) with a comforting whirr. I wear my iPod mini and crank rock, rap and techno to help kill the strains, stitches and lung burning. Despite the runner’s pains I get better every day. So far I can run a mile and a half without stopping. My goal is to get to five miles, that’s when the real progress will kick in.

I still eat like a pig and have not lost a single pound, but I enjoy the call of the road (albeit a fake one).

I like how I feel after a good workout, and that alone is a good enough reason to do it.

I have to salute someone like Alice to rise to such a challenge. Having never run a single mile she has volunteered to run 13. It takes a lot to get out there to try and conquer the road. The road doesn’t care what you are doing and why you are doing it, nor will you receive any help from it. Yet Alice is running to help others that are much less fortunate than us. This is truly noble.

About 12 years ago my mother-in-law was diagnosed with leukemia. She was given 10 years or less to live. I know that some of the treatments that she has received (and have probably extended her life as a result) are because of the donations received from the foundation. Everyday that she is here is a blessing and we are thankful.

Please donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation and assist Alice on her run:

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


The Monsoon season is upon us. Tonight we were hit with a severe thunderstorm that produced hail and severe lightning and wind.

Up until this point Jill had always thought that I was chicken to go out in the rain.

Then at dinner Aimee asked me if I had ever seen lightning strike before.

“Well sweetheart, I’ve seen it twice”

“How close were you?” she asked.

I pointed up to the ceiling where it met the wall about 9 feet away.

About 20 years ago I was at the US Army Airborne School at Ft. Benning, Georgia.

I was just getting out of a taxi cab and walking next to a cyclone fence that secured the school’s generator.

I felt the hair on my arms and on the back of my neck stand up (I had my head shaved at the time).


My left leg and arm went numb.

About a dozen people ran up to me screaming at me, asking if I was okay.

“Yeah….I guess, why?”


I looked up to see that top of the cyclone fence pole was freshly sheared and blackened and was glowing cherry red with heat.

I gained a new respect for the sky that day.

A look of quiet discovery came over my wife’s face. “Now I know why you hesitate to go outside when it thunders”

I didn’t realize that after 13 years of marirage I had never told her that story.