Thursday, November 29, 2012

Confessions of a Ragnarian

Confession is good for the soul, especially when you're confessing the sins of others.  The story that follows may or may not have been observed in person; it's entirely impossible that I heard this second or third hand, or that I was directly involved.  In attempt to make the story easy to read, I'll tell in in the first person.  (Also, some names may or may not have been changed in this telling of the story.)

These events took place as our van was halfway through the third leg of the Las Vegas Ragnar.  We were exhausted and looking forward to passing the slap bracelet off to Van 2.  With the sun slowly rising in the east above the mountains, we were waiting somewhere in Henderson for one of our runners to come into the exchange.  The lack of sleep and physical exhaustion was contributing to the beginning of what would become a moderately high level of hooliganism. 

It started with a quick text to Van 2 as an attempt to help wake them up:

"Ragnar Command Center.  First violation for indecent exposure."

It was sent from a phone with an area code that wouldn't be recognized quickly by our geographically separated teammates.  Within about five minutes I received a text from my father:

"What did you guys do?" 

Before I even finished reading it to the rest of our van, my phone rang.

It was my dad, sounding a bit tired and out of sorts:

"What did you guys do?"

"What do you mean?  What happened?"

"We just got a violation strike from the Ragnar folks for indecent exposure.  What did you guys do?"

"I can't think of anything.  Did you guys do something?  We've been busy running."

"No, we've been sleeping in the van.  We didn't do anything."

"Mmm, well, Huyser did lose a bet and had to run naked through a neighborhood.  It was dark though."

A short pause then, "Don't you think that might be the reason for the violation?"

Unable to control my laughter I quickly confessed to the prank text.  The fact that they believed Huyser capable and willing to run through a neighborhood naked was both disturbing and hilarious.

Our appetites for laughter at the expense of others whetted, we quickly thought of another team to text.

"Ragnar Command Center.  First violation for indecent exposure."

In short order a return text arrived:

"What indecent exposure?  What did we do?"

Reply: "This is a family friendly event.  Indecent exposure will not be tolerated.  If you wish to appeal, please reply to this text with this statement: 'Appeal to Violation 142: Nudity with Intent to Harm.'  We do, however, have digital images of the individual(s) committing the infraction."

After waiting a number of minutes we sent another text to them:

"Ragnar Command Center.  Second violation for obscene language to race staff or a volunteer."

A few short minutes later we receive a reply:

"We didn't use obscene language with anyone.  We would like to appeal this as well as the first violation."

"We received multiple notifications of obscene language used against an elderly volunteer at one of the exchanges.  In order to appeal both violations, please reply to this text with this statement: 'Appeal to Violation 142: Nudity with Intent to Harm."

Quickly we received the text with the phrase: "Appeal to Violation 142: Nudity with Intent to Harm."

With a sudden burst of overwhelming guilt, one of our teammates who is friends with the target of our texts called them, on speaker phone, to make sure they weren't making any direct inquiries to the real Ragnar Command Center.

Upon answering the phone our teammate asks, "So, have you received any violations?"

"Oh my, was that you.  You've given me a bad case of diarrhea.  Those texts looked so official.  We've been scared to death trying to figure out what we did.  I mean I did change while sitting up in the van and I wondered if someone else saw me.  I'm ready to start popping Xanax."

Throughout the conversation we couldn't help but laugh at their expense and at our cleverness.  After several profuse, but entirely insincere, apologies, we began making plans for even better prank texts at the next Ragnar. 

At the next van exchange we followed up on our first prank text to our own teammates.  They admitted to doing some soul searching to determine what they might have done to prompt a violation text.  One person was concerned that his actions were misconstrued as he washed his hands at the back of the van.  Another was concerned that she had been observed taking a mid-run potty break between two buildings.  It's funny how when accused of doing something improper that our first reaction is to look guiltily inward.  Oh, and more than one person in our other van expressed little or no surprise at the idea of Huyser running around in the nude somewhere.

Remember, exhibiting nudity with intent to harm will not be tolerated!  Ragnar on my friends!

Check out some of my other posts on my running adventures:
Emmalee Achieves Hero Status
Why I Ragnar
The Art of the Marathon

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Emmalee Achieves Hero Status

My oldest daughter Emmalee is one of my heroes. In so many aspects of her life she's not afraid to take the more difficult path or to try new things that are unlikely to be easy or simple or comfortable.  Where so many people today, especially young people, are happy to coast along in life, avoiding hard work and commitment, Emmalee is constantly stepping forward and looking for the challenges.  She's not necessarily the best at everything she does, but she is willing to try and experience so much.

Unfortunately, she doesn't always consider doing the dishes or cleaning her room as challenges worthy of her attention, but that's okay because I don't like those things either.

In school Emmalee works hard, taking the difficult courses so she can learn as much as possible.  She's my hero because she's not afraid to be a nerd, (even though she probably wouldn't choose that word).

I love to watch Emmalee play sports.  She loves to win, but even more importantly she loves to play well and to have her team play well.  I've seen her satisfied after a loss when she played well and I've seen her frustrated with her play after a solid win.  Last year she tried a new sport, lacrosse, and is excited to play it again this year.

This fall, Emmalee ran two long relay races, the Red Rock Zion from above Cedar City to Springdale Utah and the Las Vegas Ragnar.  At each race she ran a total of around 14 miles between three separate legs.  Her last leg of the Red Rock was 7 miles in 100 degree heat in southern Utah.  With teammates putting towels soaked in ice water on her head and shoulders she managed to finish the leg. 

For the Las Vegas Ragnar she was assigned a position that included a 9.4 mile run for her third and final leg.  When we asked her if she wanted to do a different leg, she hesitated, considering the challenge.  She took the challenge turning down the offer to have someone run part of it for her.  I was in a different van for this race and didn't get to see her run.  My father, her grandfather, told me that she was strong through the first three miles, maintaining a good pace.  At the six mile point, when they told her the distance remaining tears filled her eyes and she questioned her wisdom, strength and ability.  Shutting out the encouragement of her grandfather and teammates, she walked forward until she could run again.

I doubt that she realizes or understands the lessons she learned as part of her recent run or other endeavors.  As her father I see her growing in confidence and ability.  I see her learning to push forward past the point of wanting to quit.  I see her sacrificing to finish something worthwhile.  I see her learning to push past her own pain and discomfort for the welfare of her teammates and others.  I see her learning to look at new challenges and know that she can do it or at least have fun trying.  I see her preparing for the unforeseen and unexpected challenges.  I see her becoming a capable and dependable young woman, wife and mother.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Dear President Obama and Supporters,

Congratulations on your victory.  It was a hard fought battle, as it should have been, and you came out victorious.  The wonderful thing about America is we get what we vote for on election day.  I am an American and I want what is best for this great nation.  I hope and I pray that President Obama is able to govern in a way that improves the lives of all Americans, regardless of social standing, race, or gender.

It is important, however, to point out that at this point, that after four years in office, Mr. President,  you and your supporters are largely responsible for the condition of this country.  I must admit that I lack confidence that you will make decisions and implement policies that will improve our economy and standing in the world.  For your first two years in office, Mr. President, you and yours party controlled the executive and legislative branches of our government.  The efforts and policies stemming from that period have failed to produce results that improve our economy.  Over the past two years, you have failed to work in a bipartisan manner with the House of Representatives to improve our economy.  A more perfect union does not include unprecedented levels of deficit spending, crushing debt, a weak foreign policy and the current level of unemployment.  The days of casting blame and aspersion on President Bush are past.  President Obama, you and your supporters own the last four years.

President Obama, you and your supporters own the high unemployment rate.  You own the fact that over 24 million of our citizens are unemployed and that many have simply given up looking for work.  You own our anemic economic growth that is insufficient to keep up with our growing population.  You own our rising debt and deficit spending.  You own our nation's credit rating.

President Obama, you and your supporters own the fact that we haven't passed a national budget for three years.

President Obama, you and your supporters own high and rising gas prices.  You own the continuing housing crisis.

President Obama, you and your supporters own the full and pending impact of Obamacare, the good and the bad.

President Obama, you and your supporters own the clean up and recovery from Hurricane Sandy.  

President Obama, you and  your supporters own the results of a foreign policy that has weakened us abroad.  You own the events in Bhengazi.  You own the results of our policy in the middle east.  You own the security of our military and public servants overseas.

President Obama, you and your supporters own the problem of illegal immigration.  You own the results of a porous border and ineffectual immigration policy.

Again, President Obama, you and your supporters own the results of the past four years and you just took responsibility for the next four years.  Shifting blame is no longer a viable option.  Our situation demands real change and real improvement.  Where you are right, I will support you.  Where you are wrong, I will fight against you.

I list the problems above, not out of bitterness, but out of hope.  I hope you will find solutions for our problems.  I hope you will spend less time on the golf course, and more time meeting with your Jobs Council and attending your daily intelligence briefing.  I hope you will spend more time reaching across the aisle to seek the input and support of the ideas represented by half of our population.  The past four years have left me underwhelmed and disappointed in your policies and overall commitment to the job of being president.  America has given you another four years to get it right.  Please give the job and the welfare of the American people the same devotion your supporters just gave you.