24 July 2009

Coffee? Free Coffee? Free Coffee AND Fighting Leukemia?!

I love coffee, and I'm sure my career is to blame. When I started in news, I couldn't stand it. Fast forward a few election nights and I'm a flavor connoisseur. I admit I can't discern a region by taste, but I know what I like, and that's what matters.

I started coffee drinking in Fargo, with whatever was brewed. I was against Starbucks because of my liberal education and dedication to social responsibility. Then I moved to Vegas, where the actual "community" and its coffeehouses proved too elusive. Vegas, I've read, has the most Starbucks per capita. And in my three years there, I found a lot to like. But California has a way of changing people.

My Starbucks consumption dropped considerably after we moved to San Francisco for several reasons.

- There are 4 near my job and none are open when I wanted them to be.
- Prices went up.
- There are none in my neighborhood.
- There *is, however, a quaint coffee shop we do like.
- We realized we could save a lot of money brewing our own coffee.

Enter Newhall Coffee. The company and its co founder Mitch found me on Twitter - probably because I spend a lot of time talking about coffee. I enjoy Mitch's tweets, largely because of the smack he sends to Starbucks. Also, he documents what it's like for a business to get its product into stores. It's interesting. And the company itself is solid. Newhall Coffee sends a bag of coffee to active military service members for every bag of its Patriot Blend sold. It's a California company, with organic coffee, that supports the people for whom a good cup of joe is a rarity. Newhall Coffee deserves my dollars, and while the company hasn't gotten them yet, I promise it will.

So I did not steal that bag I'm holding above. Newhall Coffee sent it to me, for free. Seriously. The company had a one hour twitter promotion in response to Starbucks' Free Pastry Day. I admit I got a free blueberry muffin - I do want to support natural ingredients. But I think we can all see which is better. That's a two pound bag of coffee - delivered - for free. Thank you Newhall Coffee. I promise to support your product, and to get others to do the same. I'm a ridiculously loyal person, so you can believe me.

Also, Newhall Coffee is raising money for Leukemia. What are the odds? I don't know, I don't do math. I'm a journalist. I do know things happen for a reason. Had I not ever become enamored with Starbucks, I probably wouldn't have the coffee addiction that led Mitch & Newhall to me. I don't dislike Starbucks. I've always had positive experiences and great customer service. But living in California has made it too easy for us to vote with our dollars. We now have ample opportunity to decide what deserves our support. Newhall Coffee qualifies.

Please support me as I raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (and train for a half marathon) by donating here: http://tr.im/n6F7

~ Danie D.
Courtesy of my Verizon PinkBerry

21 July 2009

What It Really Takes

It's not so much that I've been off neglecting my blog. It's that I've been learning what it takes to run, and trying to fit that into my life. I finally feel as if I've figured it out - just in time for the long distances.

If I had to use one word to describe this training it would be more. Everything involved is just more. I expected I'd be running, getting tips on posture, and getting fit. I thought I'd have time away from the gym, and that (being a runner and all) I wouldn't need to exercise as much. I thought the world would think my cause worthy, and find my practicality in asking for just $7 worth obliging. We're about six weeks in and I can now tell you running takes a lot more than that.

Running Takes Commitment
Endurance running is an entirely different sport from running. It's not leisurely. It's not something one can easily start and stop. Endurance running takes everything you have. You have to eat to run. You have to sleep to run. You have to train to run. It's a horrible feeling to finish a session and know exactly what you could have done an hour (a day, a week) prior to have made it better. For me that's translated to prevention. I'm not drinking because of how it may affect my running. I'm not staying up too late, eating unhealthy food, or giving my attention to anything else. For the next few months I work, I exercise, I run.

Running Takes Education
Knowing what not to do will not get me across the finish line. Team in Training has brought me a wealth of knowledge about health and nutrition.

  • The podiatrist explained how to avoid a plethora of injuries.
  • The nutritionist told us how to eat before, during, and immediately after the race.
  • The physical therapist showed me how to keep my knees (and surrounding parts) strong.
  • The chi running coach taught proper posture - and how to run up and down hills.

I've started reading a sports nutrition book to find what my body will burn the best. There's a lot to know before you go. I expected "put one foot in front of the other. Repeat." Not so much.

Running Takes Humility
It's more than using the tips and tricks, and practicing what has been preached. It's remembering that I'm training for a (half) marathon. It's keeping a steady stride at times when I feel like I can sprint. It's being proud of myself, even after another runner finishes eight miles in the time it takes me to finish six. It's focusing on my breathing, instead of wondering why that fatter / older / shorter person is faster than I am.

Running Takes Support
I'm pleased to report Jesse has come finally come around. He's now realizing I wasn't lying about getting proper training and hopefully he's through making fun of me to anyone who'll listen. It took six miles for him to admit he's proud of me. And while I was determined to do this without him, I'm glad. It's difficult to tell the world what I'm doing and keep it from him. Yes. I tried to do that. I can now lift then ban and allow him to come to the race.

I've also gotten a lot of support and encouragement from people I've known (and maybe haven't talked to) for years. People who know me seem to be sure I can do this. And there are times (like when I'm passed by a woman pushing a stroller) when I need to know that.

As much as I'm focusing on myself, there is another goal. I'm raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I've set a $2500 goal and I'm close to halfway there. I appreciate all of you who have donated so far, and I can't stress that enough. Asking for money is more difficult than running, because it's not all up to me. Please visit my donation page. I'm treating it like a running blog (pun intended) where I detail my training experiences. The address is http://pages.teamintraining.org/sf/nikesf09/danied.

And still, the running will take even more. I did six miles last Saturday. I'll need proper running gear - including new shoes and electrolytes - before going any further. I bought some chewy "shot blocks" over the weekend and I'm going for shoes tomorrow. I'm almost halfway there. I can almost say it's downhill from here. But I live in San Francisco. We know that's not true.

10 July 2009

We've Moved. For Real.

This is the last of our stuff from Las Vegas. It had been in storage since September. Yesterday, we rented a cargo van and headed to Vegas to get it. We're now about two hours from San Francisco and it feels great to finally cross this off the list.

One of the most awesome things about Jesse and I is that we're good travelers. I plan and he executes. We left San Francisco with the essentials - iPod, iTrip radio adapter, phone, car charger, water, blanket, neck pillow, popcorn, and an empty laundry basket for incidentals. We tried to plan a day in Vegas where (once we got our stuff) we spent time with friends. We wanted to lounge for the day, maybe redeem some player's card points for a dinner at the Venetian, and play Monopoly with Kate & Ross. It was a grand plan with a lot of holes and in the end we decided to grab our stuff and just turn around.

We left San Francisco during evening rush hour. We knew it wasn't a great idea, but I don't think we realized how bad of an idea it was until we saw far we had not gone in an hour. An hour after that, we realized we were heading north instead of south. So. Three hours after leaving San Francisco, we were an hour and a half from home. Also, traffic on our three lane highway was being merged into just one. Our scheduled eight hour drive took twelve. Still, we loaded the truck before 8 this morning, and (after two quick stops) were heading back to San Francisco by 9:30.

I have two regrets. One is having to use a credit card. Part of the reason for waiting this long to get our stuff was so I could have both a CA license, and enough money for a large hold on my debit card. I double checked that last part when I made my reservation. And it turns out the information I got a few months ago was incorrect - a credit card is indeed necessary. I've used it for the majority of our gas and some food. I'm pleased to report Bank of America noticed. I got a call in Vegas asking me to verify my identity, places the card was used, and amounts. It was comforting. Still, I'll freeze the card again when we get home. I must admit though, it felt good to charge.
My other regret is that we don't have a sleep mask for Jesse. He's really sensitive to light. He had problems last week with the full moon and even though I started driving in the middle of the night, he woke up almost as soon as the sun rose this morning. It was worse for him on the way back - because he wanted to sleep, and knew he had to sleep to be ready to drive. But it was bright and it was hot. And there are parts of that drive from Vegas when you can't use air conditioning. He tried sunglasses and I think was able to block the sunlight, but by then there were other distractions. Something in the back of the van was rattling. There were lane shifts and I kept driving over loud bumps. And since he was so tired, everything was three times as annoying. I slowed down, used the AC, and stayed in one lane. I wanted him to be unconscious.

Now I'm excited to get this stuff home, even though I have no idea where most of it will go. Even better, we'll still have the full weekend. I'm not going to miss my run tomorrow and I'm still going to get a lot accomplished. I only used the van for one day, so I'll save some money. We're now excited for other road trips, that don't involve errands. It's going to be a great summer.
Please support me as I raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (and train for a half marathon) by donating here: http://tr.im/n6F7

~ Danie D.
Courtesy of my Verizon PinkBerry

08 July 2009


There are few things that excite me as much as Transformers. X-Men and Harry Potter are probably it. This time around, I couldn't go see Transformers opening weekend. Eventually I got there. And I enjoyed it as much as I expected. Even though there was a lot to not like.
There was more romance than I care to have.There were new, illiterate, ebonics speaking autobots. Even worse, they were voiced by Spongebob, which is a severe betrayal. And the movie was long. Still, I liked it because I'm a lifelong fan.
I would like to ask the critics who didn't understand the plot if they watched the cartoons. I mean really watched them, like my brother and I did every morning before school. The whole series was about saving humans and looking for Energon.
I'd like to ask those who thought the plot was lame what they would expect alien robots to do. Give me another plausible plot in which giant talking alien cars are heroes. I dare you.
I watch more cartoons now, than I did when I was a kid. The coolest thing to me, is seeing an animated hero in live action. Typically, those heroes are people and can have people-like problems that lend themselves to complex plots. This is not that. There's no telling what I would do if I walked outside and Optimus Prime was just there, fighting a decepticon. I'd probably call my mom, and let her listen. She and I have active imaginations. We went to the movie and saw a "day in the life" of the Transformers. People with lame imaginations, who watched a movie about CGI robots likely hated it.
It's not a "thinking" movie. It's not out to win academy accolades. It's a "cartoons come to life and maybe there really are living cars among us" movie. Jesse suffered through it. I rolled my eyes at the love, and weak dialogue, but I was on the edge of my seat for the fights. It's just cool. I'll be at the third one. And so will you.     
Michael Jackson: 
I am a fan. My parents are fans. I've watched "The Making of Thriller" on a beta max tape several times. Until this week, I never thought of Michael Jackson as a barrier breaker, but I suppose he was. I believe he made a lot of poor decisions, but I don't think he ever assaulted children. I was stunned when I heard he died - not because I thought he was the modicum of perfect health - but because Michael Jackson was the most significant musician to die in my memory.  It's difficult to think he's not around, just being his weird self.
I think he had a tough childhood. I think Joe Jackson ruined him for any kind of regular celebrity life and I think Joe is still out to capitalize on his memory. I admit I do not wish any success for Joe, and I worry about Prince, Paris, and Blanket. Especially blanket.
Still, the media attention was too much. And even I as a fan am over it. He's dead, another celebrity victim of improper medical care. Maybe there should be more attention on keeping entertainers alive - you know - so they can entertain.
Sarah Palin:
She's either a quitter or a sore loser. She billed herself as pit-bull-tough during the campaign. She touted her ability to run a state, run a household, and run marathons. After not winning, (and getting more free time) she suddenly has to leave with 18 months left in her first term.
Alaska's economy is suffering just like the economies in other states whose governors are choosing to stay, fight, and serve another day. Clearly it's easier to *not be in office. But I think politicians know times like these are possible par for the course. Apparently when the going gets tough, Sarah Palin goes fishing.
I can only imagine if she were Vice President and responsible for more than one state. She might not even have lasted this long. To be clear, my critique does not come from my stance against her stances. She committed to serve her state. Admittedly things are tough right now, and she's just walking away. At best that's cowardly.
In my humble opinion...

06 July 2009

Enraged on The 4th of July

I'm a conscientious American. This means I am both proud and critical of my country. I appreciate my freedoms, recognizing my sass would get me killed in a lot of other places. I don't think there's any other country like the United States - no other nation with a people so diverse and so unified. Just this year, I've become more connected to my compatriots thanks to Twitter and Texts from Last Night. I'm learning Americans are aware, and that we're funny. I think America is great, but not the greatest. That's not to say I think there's a country that does what do better, just that we as a nation can and will improve. I am a conscientious American. And I do not observe Independence Day.

My logic is simple: my ancestors were not independent. What cause have I to celebrate? In the the land of the free - behind the homes of the brave - my people were slaves. It's not something I ever want to forget. It's something I refuse to ignore. America would be less than great to me if she as a nation had not progressed so much in so little time. It enrages me to hear people say America is great just because, to act like the country has always been what it is, and should be celebrated as such. As you know, I love birthdays partly because of the knowledge gained year to year. I think it's absurd to ignore slavery on a day focused on freedom. Last Saturday, I tried to convey that in 140 characters:

I admit a 4th of July bitterness. Yes, the colonies declared independence. And then they kept slaves for another 89 years.
I got several replies from my friend @dpwtv, who ignores that 140 character thing:

[H]umans are a complicated group. We do good and bad, depending on differing points of view. It doesn't devalue the importance... you just have to take the good with the bad and try not to let either one overshadow the other... don't forget the past, but don't wallow in it either. Life is too short. Make a difference, either big or small.. choose your battles, but don't let the fight take up your whole life. Happy 4th. Danie :)

And I felt the blood surge to my head. Slavery does not fall in the gray area of "good and bad, depending on differing points of view." Maybe it did then, but certainly not now. There is a difference between taking "the good with the bad" and ignoring the bad altogether. It's hypocrisy to celebrate freedom while actively stealing people from their homes and enslaving them. That reads to me like a true and simple statement. I have not spent my life "wallowing" in it. And anyone who has spent any time with me can testify it certainly does not take up my whole life.

[D]avid, I don't "wallow" in slavery. But I don't choose to ignore the hypocrisy for a hot dog and fireworks either.

I have no reason to celebrate "freedom" today. It's not "taking up my whole life," it's a fact.

I admit I was furious, or at least I thought I was furious. Turns out the fury didn't really come until @Sand_Rat opined:

Your willingness to celebrate the 4th is affected by decisions made by British outcasts over 200 years ago.

Just think, this backwards country may one day elect a black President. After that, maybe we'll get past slavery.
To go at it piece by piece - a lot of what we do as Americans in 2009 is shaped by decisions made by those British outcasts, so I don't see why my lack of July 4th observance should be any different. The truths we supposedly hold to be self evident were drafted by those outcasts. They formed the government under which we pledge allegiance. Yes, I feel I can take their decisions and make my own. As a matter of fact - when deciding my position - I can take the decisions of their descendants for the 89 years between the first Independence Day and the abolition of slavery.

And again, my recognition of slavery was misconstrued as dwelling. I dare say I am not someone who has yet to get "past slavery." I'm not demanding reparations. I have no intentions on moving back to the motherland. I don't observe Juneteenth, and I think it was a waste of resources for Congress to apologize for it last month. Slavery happened. My existence in this country, with this name, and with roots in South Carolina is an observance of that. I am proud to be who and where I am. I am an American. I am a descendant of slaves. And as ugly as slavery was, it helped shape the country. I will not have that ignored. There is no day to observe slaves. There's no time at which Americans say "that was really horrible." I choose to be aware on the day marking freedom. And I want my intentions be clear:
It's not about being "past slavery." I'm not asking for reparations. Still, my ancestors weren't free on 7/4/76. So I opt out

I didn't call the country "backwards." I'm not rallying for a boycott. I choose not to observe. Also, Obama doesn't erase slavery.

I have the right to not observe a holiday. I have a right to explain why. You have the right to judge me on that. You also have the right to wear blinders, and tell yourself the Native Americans just didn't want their land, and that Africans chose to come to America to help white people be better farmers. You can say this country came to be without fights between the Irish and the Italians and without mistreatment of the Chinese. You can say America is currently beautiful and that's all that counts. But if you ignore the bad, how can you truly appreciate the good?

Reminder: I'm running in the Nike Women's Marathon as a fundraiser to fight Leukemia & Lymphoma. Please support me by donating here

Thank you!