Marathon Results – Take 4

Three weeks and 4 emails after the fact and I finally have official results for the Austin Freescale Marathon. As I mentioned in a previous post – the point of having an official time was to enable me to have a placing in the Austin Distance Challenge.

After some digging I found my splits. It looks as though they have my halfway time (2:42:34) and my 30k time (4:08:25) but not my 10k time and obviously not my finish time. I need to see about getting my chip checked out as I’m thinking it is defective.

Finally – closure!

Signing Music

As some of you may know, I’m proficient (but not fluent) in American Sign Language (ASL). I regularly interpret for the deaf at my church on Sundays. While I’ve had no formal training, I have taken several classes as the Austin Sign Language School (mostly vocabulary classes) and have interpreted for a few deaf individuals. I’ve considered taking the test and becoming certified in Texas however my receiving (ie: reading ASL) is very poor due to my lack of practice.

One of the things I love to sign is music. I don’t have much of a singing voice (that’s Benjamin’s department) but I have been told by both the deaf, interpreters, and others that I have a knack for signing music. In fact, just last Sunday a hearing woman came up to me after the church service and said that my interpreting was so beautiful that it almost brought her to tears. I, personally, think that’s over the top — but apparently it does move some people.

I should probably take a moment and describe a little bit about our church for you to better understand the rest of this post. I attend church at Gateway Community Church. It is a non-denominational church here in Austin that is very uncontemporary. Each and every Sunday the live band covers a song that 80% of the audience knows and would hear on the radio. To give you an idea, I’ve interpreted at least one song from each of the following: Madonna, Matchbox 20, Hootie and the Blowfish, U2 (lots of those), Green Day, Nickleback, Sherryl Crow, Alanis Morissette, The Police, Sting, The Eagles, Coldplay, and many, many more — you get the idea, this isn’t your normal Baptist Hymnal.

Interpreting music is a bit different than interpreting someone speaking. Typically with music you get the lyrics ahead of time so you know what you’re going to have to interpret whereas with someone speaking you’re good to know the general topic. On the flip side, with someone speaking you just become a living conduit — hear what they are saying into your buffer, parse the meaning, translate that into sign (using a huge mental thesaurus), and sign it a couple of seconds after the speaker has said it while still filling new input into the buffer. The delay really isn’t that important as we’re obviously going for content — the delivery itself just has to be comprehendable. Music on the other hand goes through the same general buffer but to capture the true meaning of a song, the delivery can often be more important than the content being delivered. The interpreter’s movements have to mimic the music, not just convey the meaning, to be truly enjoyable to the deaf. I personally believe that a good song interpretation is part dance.

Interpreting music for the deaf is often very challenging. Think of the last song you heard on the radio. Do you actually know what every word was? If you actually do know all the words think quick: what did the artist mean with those words? Could you explain it to another person? How much of the song’s enjoyment is from the play on words? The rhyming? To interpret a song and do it well you have to break the song down into it’s core meaning and interpret that into signs that convey the same meaning in a way that is visually appealing. Just as a poet or artist might choose a different word to better fit their work, an interpreter might choose a different sign with the same meaning to better fit in with the previous and following signs to make it look better. Now imagine doing that on the fly while trying to maintain sync with the music. Without previous exposure to both the lyrics and the music this is virtually impossible.

There’s a very interesting article titled Keeping deaf fans rockin’ that I saw linked from Fark. I think the article does a great job of showing some of the challenges that deaf interpreters experience when signing songs for the deaf. The article discusses a great deal of the same topics that I’ve touched on although in a much more succinct way.

I’ve interpreted several concerts although all of them have been in a church setting. I’ve interpreted a mini-concert by Wide Awake, Malford Milligan, and others although their names escape me. Usually I have about a week’s notice of the concert and if I’m lucky I can borrow a CD or two from someone to listen to during the week and “get into” the music. I’d like to do more music interpreting but if I’m going to go down that path I really need to get certified first. No time for that now however.

Casey gets a new label

Yet again an event has occurred in life that grants me another label. Two days ago (Wednesday, March 1, 2006 at roughly 7:15pm CST) I was bestowed the title of “Uncle Casey”.

Allow me to introduce Kooper William Peel. He is officially a “big boy” at 9lbs 4oz and measuring 21.5 inches.

I began thinking about labels over the past couple of days. It is interesting how we’re given some and some are given to us. Regardless of their origins some are objective and some subjective. Some labels change over time, from subjective to objective or from involuntary to voluntary. I was involuntarily given the subjective label ‘Casey’ roughly 27 years ago although after a few years I have internalized it and accepted it as objective (one could argue that after the label was put on my birth certificate that it then became objective, but I digress). Likewise just 1.5 years later I was involuntarily given the objective label ‘brother’ when Kelly was born. Since then I have taken actions that have caused me to give myself labels such as graduate, employee, Software Engineer, Performance Lead, fiancee. I’m more proud of some of these labels than others. Not sure how I feel about Uncle yet. I played no part in receiving the label although I have a feeling that a great deal of work will be required for me to live up to the title, much in the same sense that a ‘father’ (one who fathers a child) is not necessarily a ‘dad’ (a father who is deeply involved in his child’s life).

Casey vs Whataburger

It takes a lot to get on my bad side. This applies to restaurants as well as people. There are many restaurants that I prefer not to eat at however there are two that I refuse to darken their door ever again. Those two restaurants are Whataburger and Marie Callender’s.

I’m not sure of the exact date, or even year, but it had to be post TAMS so circa 1997. Some of the TAMS group were headed through Brenham late at night probably either going to or from Shaun’s parent’s house in Round Top. We were in my Grand Am with at least Janice and Jodi although there were at least one or two other TAMSters in the car too. It was late enough that Whataburger was the only eating establishment open and being hungry we pulled into the drive-thru.

We pulled up and it took them a while to take our order. I believe every person ordered something, such as a shake, carbonated beverage and maybe some side order. After we gave them our order we pulled up. Shortly thereafter another car pulled up behind us. At this point there are one or two cars in front of us in line and one behind us. The drive-thru lane is designed such that once you are in the lane you can’t get out unless you pull forward or back up – there is a curb and a slight drop off to your right. We sit there and wait for ~25 minutes in that spot, waiting for the Whataburger employees to help the people in front of us. When we finally get up to the window, the clerk very rudely asks what we ordered again and goes off. Five minutes later she comes back and hands us the correct number of items, all of which were wrong: wrong flavor shake, wrong carbonated beverage, wrong side item. We inform them that they got our order incorrect and that we’ve been waiting in the line for around 30 minutes now. The clerk calls me a liar and said she gave me exactly what I ordered. I insist she is wrong and she goes off to fix it. She comes back and only gets 75% of the order wrong. At this point we just want to get out of there and accept all of the items and give her money to pay for it. She then proceeds to hand us back incorrect change and slams the drive-thru window.

In summary, Whataburger forced me to wait 30 minutes for a drive-thru order, got my entire order wrong, called me a liar, and then gave me incorrect change. In short, they failed at every single thing they tried. This is the reason that I refuse to ever give any Whataburger my business. Ever.

The Job – Closure

Last week a gentleman from the ISST group called me for a technical interview. After finding out that I was the performance lead on the product, he quickly informed me that he would not be asking me any technical questions because I obviously knew the product at least as well as he did. Late Thursday afternoon I received a phone call and email offering me the job.

Friday morning I emailed them back and requested to think about it over the weekend and let them know. About an hour later my manager called to let me know she would be out for the day but that we should get together on Monday to discuss when my availability date was for the new job, assuming I accepted it. She also let me know that my current management team was trying to locate “moving compensation” for me in an attempt to keep me within their group. How they thought this helps is a little round-about. My manager was under the impression that I was interested in the new job primarily to allow Benjamin and I to move to another, more “family friendly” state. With this in mind my management team was trying to see if they could locate funds to assist me in moving to another state while keeping me within their organization.

Given what Benjamin and I want to do (ie: live in various cities/states for a while and see how we like them) the moving compensation wouldn’t have really helped, however it helped me realize just how much they wanted to keep me. I asked jonobie out to lunch to help me filter out some thoughts on the various options. Before we went to lunch there were two basic choices:

  1. Decline the job: maintain status quo
  2. Accept the job: travel all over the US

While at lunch Jonobie came up with another option entirely – a truly “thinking outside the box” option. I present you, option 3:

  1. Decline the job: become a mobile employee keeping my current position but working outside of Austin

Being a mobile employee would allow me to live in different locations and keep my current job that I really enjoy. Granted it would not come with the “signing bonus” or the higher bonus potential but I consider that very acceptable if I could spend more time with Benjamin and less time in a hotel room. I decided to run this past management.

Seeing as my manager was out of the office for the day I contacted my 2nd line manager and set up an impromptu meeting later that afternoon. In the meeting I explained what I was wanting to do and my timeframe for doing so. He saw no reason why making me a mobile employee would not be possible. He was quick to mention that nothing is guaranteed but said that many people in the Security organization want me to stay within Security and that if making me a mobile employee would make that happen that they would do their best to make it work. I left for the weekend to ponder the three options and discuss them with Benjamin.

After discussing the options we agreed that option 3 was the clear choice pending two important items that needed to be confirmed.

  • Danny in Colorado would be ok with the new plan and setting aside an office for me to work from
  • My manager (who has been in the Security organization longer than my 2nd line) would validate that the organization is truly amenable to having mobile employees

We were able to validate those two items on Sunday and Monday respectively so early Monday afternoon I declined the new job offer.

Marathon – revisited

So now that I’m well rested and (slightly less) pissed, I thought I would try a more objective posting about the Freescale Marathon.

First the objective bitching: I still adhere to the mentality that the race was the most miserable 6 hours that I have ever spent but that is almost entirely due to the weather and not the run itself. RunFar has still not corrected my time. I sent them another email on Wednesday just to make sure they haven’t forgotten about me. I also sent the ADC folks an email to let them know the situation. I’m far more interested in “proof” that I finished the ADC rather than knowing what my actual time was as I suspect that information is not going to be available. If they don’t get it resolved I will be giving preferential treatment to races that do not use RunFar in the future. And yes, I can hold a grudge for a loooong time (ala Casey vs Whataburger – ~9 years and counting).

On the positive side, I am incredibly proud of Benjamin. Even though he was in pain for the last quarter to half of the race, he finished; he gets uber-mega-points for that. As both of my fellow ADC runner friends (jeffford, jonobie) have mentioned, we ran a total of 101 miles just in the official ADC races, not including any of the training runs. Take a look at your odometer sometime – that’s a long way. Benjamin and I couldn’t have finished the race without the people who cheered us along. It may seem like such a minor thing to an onlooker, but to a runner – the people who came out to cheer for you is like an illicit drug.

We’ll very likely run again at some point although we haven’t made any plans yet.

Miserable Marathon

Benjamin and I ran the Freescale Marathon yesterday in bone-chilling weather. The high of the day was 38 degrees and a low of 29. The run was the most miserable to date. Benjamin and I completed the race in a bit over 6 hours, well past the 5-hour goal time we had set for ourselves. Due to knee and ankle problems we walked most of the second half. Many great friends came out to cheer us on which was the only thing that made the race bearable:

  • Mile 0: Nick (nickjong) in the clothing drop-off and Jan Collins in the chute
  • Mile 6: Renee (preneel) and Robert who came in from Oklahoma to cheer us and two other friends on
  • Mile 10: Jeff (jeffford) as he came whizzing by us due to a late start
  • Mile 13: Zach (zml) just before the half-way point
  • Mile 19: Sheena (sheenaqotj) jogged/walked with us for quite a ways (I’m guessing at the mileage on this one)
  • Mile 21: Sarah (quindo) who walked with us for a long ways
  • Mile 22: Matt cheered us on even though I didn’t recognize him at first
  • Mile 24: Jan Collins and Jonobie (jonobie) on the out-and-back
  • Mile 25: Nick (nickjong) who came to the finish line to cheer folks on after completing his half-marathon runTo annoy me even more, somehow they seemed to have screwed up my time: according to the website I have neither a chip nor clock time. Jeff read in one of the forums that due to a human error that some of the start times weren’t recorded forcing them to use the clock time for final race time. Since I have no times whatsoever it makes me think that they have zero or more timings for me but not a finish line marking. How exactly can that happen? It’s not like I have any control over their RF readers. I ran along side Benjamin every step of the way across every mat (including the finish line) so I know what my time is but it is very annoying to know that something is screwed up enough that they don’t even have a clock time on me. I will be particularly pissed if this isn’t resolved and the ADC does not list me as officially finishing the challenge.

    Don’t ask me today if I want to run another race because you’re likely to just get a very negative, emotionally charged response. Ask me in a week or more after I’m less frustrated about the unbelievably shitty weather, poor race timings, lack of clocks at the start and mile markers, and lack of correctly-sized finishing shirts and ADC finishing jackets (what, you have to be fast to get the size you signed up for?). In fact, check back later for a more objective posting on the subject.