Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Thoughts on Boston

A good friend of mine, Michelle Cutler, writes for The Henderson Press on occasion.  This morning she called to ask me about my thoughts regarding and connections to the bombing at the Boston Marathon.  Below is what I sent her.  I don't how to make sense of what happened or why.  It's unlikely the person or people behind this terrorist act can adequately explain why.  Such acts of violence are evil and cowardly.


Thanks for the call.  Yesterday was crazy.  Between work and everything else I do each day I was busy calling, messaging, and scrolling FB to see if any of my friends or acquaintances who have ran or have qualified to run the Boston Marathon were running yesterday.  Within a couple of hours I was able to affirm that my friends who were most likely to have run hadn't done so this year.

Last night I called my dad who was recently activated by the US Navy Reserve to deploy back to Kuwait and Iraq.  (He's in Virgina finishing up training before he heads back to the desert for seven or eight months.)  My dad is the one who called me in January of 2010 to ask if I was tough enough to run a marathon with him.  I remember the bottom of stomach dropping out as soon as he asked because I knew I was going to say yes.  Since our first Ogden Marathon I have ran a total of four marathons and almost ten long distance relay races.  Most of them I've ran with my dad.  This year my dad won't be able to run any races with the family because of his deployment to the Middle East.

Anyway, during our conversation he told me that the wife of a friend had ran the marathon.  He was relieved to report that she had posted on Facebook that she was alright.

Last night I found a posting from Linda Ambard.  I served on the faculty of the Air Force Academy with her husband Phil a few years ago.  Phil was deployed to Afghanistan as an adviser in 2011.  Phil was killed by an Afghan soldier who entered the room where Phil was working or visiting with some other US military personnel.  The Afghan soldier shot and killed Phil and eight others.  His wife Linda was running the Boston Marathon this year in honor of Phil's service and sacrifice.  She was only a quarter of a mile from the end of the marathon when terrorists impacted her life again.

Running is an amazing sport that can be so many things to so many people.  Running is powerful.  It can be curative and tempering in its effect on the runner and the observer.  It's inspiring and unifying.  My favorite part of a race is watching all of the people at the beginning.  The runners are so diverse in their ages, body types, reasons, experience, and so much more.

This terrorist attack, like the one in Newtown, felt close and personal.  I have three major races coming up over the next two and half months.  People are online asking about safety and security measures for these races.  What a crazy place to be in for a reason that we don't yet know.

Anyway, I'm not quite sure how to end this.  It's just another chapter in the sad book of terrorism and it's impact on so many.  Those who run races and those who watch races will continue to do so but with a new worry in their minds.

More on Phil Ambard.  Phil was a hero and a patriot.  His wife and children are also heroes and patriots.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Size All Its Own and Ice Cream Americana (Or America in a Cup)

A rather eclectic collection of thoughts, but I thought I would share anyway.

In the world of sizes the size medium could reasonably be perceived as the disdained, red-headed step child.  Think about it.  Small comes in multiple flavors—small, extra small, and extra, extra small.  Large is the same—large, extra large, and a number of multiples of the adjective “extra.”  Medium is simply medium.  There is no additional descriptor used with the size “medium”.  The English language doesn’t have an “extra medium”.  We don’t use the phrase, “Wow, that’s really medium.”  Like a child forbidden from the use of profane language, the size medium has a very limited associated vocabulary.

I submit that while it may seem that medium is less, (well more than “small”, but you know what I mean), it is actually an amazing size.  Medium is truly it’s own size.  It requires no additional grammatical support.  It is unique enough to stand on it’s own.  We should celebrate the size medium.  I do my part by ordering most of my soft drinks and ice cream products in the medium size.  Most often medium is just right.

Since I just mentioned one of my favorite topics, ice cream, we might as well discuss it further.  A major discussion revolves around the question of quantity versus quality.  Is it better to get cheap, inexpensive ice cream in order be able to eat to the heart’s content?  Or, is it better to go the more flavorful and unique route and enjoy the depths of the flavors more?  Some people, like my father, are very much traditionalists.  He likes very plain and standard flavors.  His favorite is chocolate chip followed closely by other standard staples.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  He will eat most types of ice cream you put in front of him, but he prefers the standard staples. 

Others, like me, have a more refined taste.  Once I realized that I needed to implement portion control in order to maintain weight control, I moved past my childhood experiences and explored a variety of flavors and textures.  While my father has his favorite flavor, I maintain a little black book of wonderful flavors and brands that I like to enjoy at different times and in different seasons.  While my quantities have been reduced, the quality has brought new experiences. 

Recently we discovered a new place close to our home, Rita’s.  They serve gourmet Italian ice and custard.  One of their signature dishes, the gelati, is a cup with a bottom layer of custard, followed by a layer of Italian ice, and topped with another layer of custard.  The common flavors of custard are chocolate and vanilla.  The Italian ice flavors are all over the spectrum.  A few weeks ago they had Florida Orange flavor in the Italian ice.  It was amazing.  It had bits of orange zest in it.  Mixed with the vanilla custard it was amazing. 

Tonight my wife, oldest daughter and I stopped by Rita’s.  They had a new flavor of Italian ice I had never seen or tried before—Peanut Butter & Jelly.  I thought it was amazing and tasted like the real thing.  Combined with the vanilla custard it was heavenly, like America-In-A-Cup.  A perfect blend of peanut butter & jelly and ice cream is the essence of Americana. 

Next time, though, I’ll go with the medium size gelati at Rita’s.  The large was too much, even if it was only 50 cents more than the medium.  The medium would have been just right

--Jarad Van Wagoner

Please see my previous post regarding ice cream.
Van Wagoners and Ice Cream