Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Muslims . . . this is your chance to prove your hearts and the heart of your religion.

I wish I knew a lot more about the Muslim religion than I do.  I've never read the Quran.  I've never attended a Muslim service.  Heck . . . I've never sat down with a Muslim and had an in-depth conversation about their religion.  So I may well have a lot of incorrect ideas and "facts."  All I've done is research using the internet . . . not the most reliable source of information.

I have been told many times, by many sources that the Muslim religion is a religion of peace and tolerance.  I've heard this through news media and religious leaders from other religions.  So I believe this is true.

I have also been told many times, by many sources that the Quran does, in fact, have numerous passages that seems to urge followers to kill nonbelievers.  Additionally, I understand that for a Muslim there is no separation between church and state.  There's only one law and that is sharia law.  And that all Muslims must follow sharia law.

So in my mind there is a contradiction here that I don't fully understand.  In Christianity there are contradictions to but as I understand it they are separated from each other as the Old Testament and the New Testament.  But honestly even this doesn't make total sense to me as the 10 Commandments are in the Old Testament not the New Testament.

Nevertheless, I'm left with a question of how does a mainstream Muslim believer know which passages of the Quran to believe in and which passages they should ignore and not follow.  Maybe someone can help me understand this.  But in some ways that's not really all that important.

What is important is that mainstream Muslims comprise the vast, vast majority of of all Muslims and they are peace-loving and ignore certain parts of the Quran.    It is only a small fringe of Muslims that choose to believe every word of the Quran and want to follow all teachings. And only a small portion that want to kill us.

Let's be clear . . . I have no problem whatsoever with the mainstream Muslims.  Quite the contrary! I honestly see mainstream Muslims as the key to a peaceful world in the future.

But I have a lot of deep anger and passion against those radical Muslims that believe in waging war against the United States and other countries that do not believe as they believe.

Unfortunately I can't personally tell a mainstream Muslim from a radical Muslim.  And neither can most any non-Muslim.  To do that the only way is to look deep into some one's heart.  And as an outsider to the Muslim religion I simply cannot do that.  And if I tried, the radicalized Muslim could simply lie and I would never be able to tell the difference.  The truth would escape me. And it would escape most any American . . . Muslim or non-Muslim!

My next-door neighbor and his wife appear to be of some middle Eastern descent.  I don't know  . . . maybe Iranian.  Maybe Syrian, maybe Saudi,  Honestly it doesn't matter.  And while I have talked with them numerous times, the subject of religion has never come up.  I've been curious but I have never asked.  Ahmed's wife does not wear a burka, so I'm guessing that may mean they are not Muslim. But I could be wrong!

But if I ask Ahmed if he is a Muslim, he could answer either truthfully or untruthfully and I would never know the difference.  But let's say he answered that he was, in fact, a Muslim.  How would I know if he was part of the vast majority of moderate Muslims or if he was in fact one of the radicalized Muslims?  There is no way that I could know!

My guess is the only people that might know would be his family (perhaps), close Muslim friends or fellow Muslims he attends services with.  But the chance of me knowing would be virtually zero!

So this is why I think the key to everything is for moderate Muslims to aggressively try to identify radicalized Muslims.  Honestly, it's these radicalized Muslims that are making life difficult for mainstream Muslims.  And it's in everyone's best interest to "ferret out" these radical Muslims so they can be dealt with appropriately.

I'm sure a normal Muslim can easily understand the situation that we non-Muslims find ourselves in.   There is an enemy that has vowed to kill us all . . . and we cannot identify them until such time as they show their heart by trying to kill us!!  At that time, we know and we can protect ourselves hopefully.  But until that time, we are forced to be somewhat suspicious of anyone that we think might possibly be a radical Muslim.   And we can't even identify a Muslim with certainty!  I guess if a Muslim woman is wearing a Burka we would know.  But Muslims can and are of every race and nationality.  They can be white Americans, black Americans, Chinese-Americans or any other nationality or race!

But the demographics of people from the Middle East tends to suggest that more of them are Muslim so we can't help but profile to some extent.  And I believe we should.

And it's important to note that not all terrorists are Muslim!  Quite the contrary!  Religion is not the only thing that leads someone to become a terrorist!  But right now these radical Muslims are embracing terrorism in the United States and the world and they have our attention.

It sure would be easier if there was a simple way to identify a radical Muslim who believes in terror but that is impossible.    So in the meantime, our mainstream Muslim friends need to help us ferret out out these evil doers!  And they need to understand why there is currently an unfair negative sentiment against Muslims.  It's not right. It's not fair. But it's understandable.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Assault Rifles . . . so powerful that no normal citizen could ever need it?

I've got to admit . . . this just drives me crazy!

My wife and I had a discussion today and she asked me why on earth a normal citizen would need an assault rifle.  Got to admit I was taken back.  I really thought she understood.

Her comment was why would I or anyone else need a rifle that could shoot hundreds of shots in just a few seconds?  I was honestly flabbergasted with her misunderstanding.  She totally believed AR-15s and other "assault rifles" were fully automatic!  And after talking a lot more about it, it became clear to me that there are a ton of people out there that, out of fear and poor biased news reporting think assault weapons are something super-synister.

I explained to Connie that the "assault rifles" that the media talks about are really semi automatic weapons.  Much like the .22 caliber pistols that we shoot frequently.  Pull the trigger one time and one shot goes off.  They are not fully automatic rifles.  She thought that if you held the trigger pulled it would just keep shooting!  At first she didn't believe me.  She said she's seen in the news how assault weapons can shoot hundreds of rounds in just seconds.  At that point it became clear to me that if Connie had a misunderstanding then there must be a huge misunderstanding in the general public.

Connie's next question was "Well why would anyone need any weapon that powerful?"  She went on to say how she could understand how the military would need something that powerful but why would a normal citizen?

OK… Admit it!  This is another failure on my part!

I ask her if she remembered shooting the lever action rifle that we have?  I told her that that rifle was significantly more powerful than the "assault rifles" the media is talking about.  I explained to Connie that in the world of high-powered rifles a .223 rifle is near the bottom of the range in terms of power.  And that there were many, many many rifles that are way more powerful then the .223.

She was flabbergasted!  But I finally convinced her that this was true.

Her next question was "Why don't most people know this?"

The answer is I have no idea but the media has so distorted this concept of the terror of these so called "assault rifles" that the average person just has no idea!  They think these are evil!  Something only the military might need.

All I can do is to ask my friends who are not familiar with shooting rifles such as these please is don't jump to conclusions.  The news media is honestly the worst place in the world to get information.  Period.

AR-15 . . . a so called assault rifle

Mini-14 . . . totally equal to the AR-15 but doesn't look as "tactical"

Lever Action Rifle . . . significantly more powerful caliber than the other two but looks "normal."

Friday, December 4, 2015

Improve the process to buy a gun in NC . . . Is there a way?

As many of you know, I am a strong supporter of the right for American citizens to keep and bear arms.  

Several years ago I decided to purchase another pistol here in NC. In order to purchase that pistol I was required to go to my local sheriff's department, prove I was Frank Lilley (picture ID) and apply for a permit to purchase a hand gun. The sheriff required that I get three (I believe it was three!) letters from people who have known me and were willing to state that I was a person that in their opinion was qualified to own a pistol. The sheriff then did a background check and I had a waiting period before he would issue a permit to purchase . . . (I believe it was 10 days.) I have no idea exactly what the sheriff did to decide to issue the permit.) 

Once I had the actual purchase permit I went to the gun store to purchase the pistol of my choice. There I had to give them the purchase permit (which they kept), prove I was Frank Lilley (picture ID) and fill out a Federal Form 4473 to purchase the pistol.  Filling out the form I had to answer a number of questions swearing that I qualified (was mentally eligible, was not a felon, was a citizen, etc.).The gun store then called the National Criminal Background Check system (NICS) and I had to pass their review. All this is true, even if I want to legally purchase a pistol from a private citizen. (Of course there are plenty of illegal purchases, but adding new laws would be silly if people are already ignoring existing laws!!!)

After all of this I was allowed to purchase my pistol.

Later, I decided to get a concealed carry permit (CCP). I did this for two reasons. First, I wanted to be able to actually conceal carry a weapon if I felt the need. (Note I could have carried that pistol without the CCP but the weapon would need to be visible! Seems crazy! Walking down the street with a pistol showing on my belt would just made people needlessly afraid!). Secondly, if I had a CCP I could purchase a pistol without having to go back to the sheriff and go through that process for each pistol I wanted to purchase. If I have a CCP I can go to a gun store (or gun show), present my permit, fill out another form, pass another background check and jut my new pistol that day.

In order to get my CCP I had to do several things: 1) take a course (1 day) that covered a broad range of topics including the NC gun laws, gun safety, proper gun maintenance, etc., 2) demonstrate a shooting proficiency, 3) appear at my county's sheriff's department, prove I was Frank Lilley (picture ID) and apply for the permit. They did another background check (again I am not sure exactly what the sheriff did), 3) wait a few weeks, go back to the sheriff's office and get finger printed and pick up my new CCP!

To purchase a shotgun or a rifle, a permit or a CCP is not required but one would still be required to fill out Form 4473 and pass the NICS background check.

My point in describing all this is to make sure non-gun owners know what is required to purchase a gun in NC. For a pistol purchase the process is not simple or quick quick, and there is significant vetting required. It is somewhat easier to purchase a rifle or shotgun but still background checks are required.

The NICS system is a major key to getting approved. They simply tell the firearm dealer if I pass the background check or not . . . not why someone fails. As long as someone with a negative attribute is reported to the NICS, the system works quite well.

But the key is the NICS has to have information reported to them. And one weak area of this is the mental health requirement. Someone has to be declared as mentally incompetent by a court AND the court must report this to the NICS. To be declared mentally incompetent is not a simple process as I understand it.

I wonder if there might be a shorter, more simple way to prove mental competence in this gun purchase process. Maybe some "authority" that would interview the purchaser and also say they believe the purchaser is in fact mentally competent. If "authority" feels the person may not be mentally competent there should be a simple way for the purchaser to appeal the decision quickly, simply and with virtually no cost. And this would be in addition to passing the NICS system check.

I fear that sitting down and interviewing someone would not be very valid. The purchaser could perhaps easily trick the authority or the authority could simply make an error in judgment and allow someone to pass that should not . . . many false positives and false negatives!

What do you think? Is this additional step even needed? I believe the mental competency part of the NICS is the weak link and that judging mental competence is incredibly difficult. But maybe I'm wrong.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hmmmmmm . . .

I'm continuing to walk.  But still can't wear shoes.

Most days I walk about 3 miles but I managed to complete about 5 miles on Medoc Trails the other day!  That is GREAT for me.  By the end neither my hip nor my foot were really giving me trouble!  So I'm trying.  Not running at all, but the walking wears me out!  Hahaha!

I know now that my hip pain is arthritis and not a repeat of a torn labrum.  So the doctor said that there was a hip replacement in my future at some point.  He suggested a series of hip strengthing exercises which I've been doing.  And surprise, surprise . . . they seem to be helping!!  I think these exercises are the reason I was able to walk 5 miles!  So I'm pretty excited about this.

But if the hip keeps hurting, I think I'll go ahead with a hip replacement even though the pain isn't all that bad.  I just don't see the point in waiting.  Hip replacement surgery is proven and with the new surgery approach, recovery is very quick.  And time marches on for me!  So if I want to have any chance of running again I probably need to be proactive and get it over with!

My freakin' foot is the other obstacle that I have to deal with.  The last surgery in December 2014 has worked to a degree . . . my toe itself no longer hurts!!  However, the metatarsal bone they cut off now hurts!!  I can't wear shoes any longer than an hour or so.  Plus, the bone hurts on the bottom of my foot.  Soooo . . .  what to do?

My ortho doctor wants me to try some custom orthotics, so I'm waiting on my pair to be made.  He believes these will at least relieve the pain on the bottom of my foot but I can't see how they will help with the pain on the side of my foot that prohibits me from wearing shoes.  But . . . it seems these orthotics may be worth a try.

And if this doesn't work?  Well, I really can't see me not being able to wear shoes for the rest of my life.  I don't know.  I just need to take this one step at a time.  Hopefully the orthotics will be the answer!

So . . . why this post?  This year is the 10th year anniversary of the Rocky Mount Endurance Club (RMEC).  The club started just after the Richmond Marathon that a group of us trained for.  The group wanted to continue on and the RMEC was formed.  Well, Michael Forrester sent out a challenge to all RMEC members to relive the Richmond Marathon next year . . . together by running it again.  That would be cool!  Realistically it would probably be my last marathon if I could do it.  And the chances of me actually being able to do it is slim to none.

The Richmond Marathon has a 7 hour time limit.  That means at least 16 minute miles.  So I would HAVE to run some but I could walk most of it.  Again, being realistic, I can't expect to really train much for this!  If I trained much (running, etc) I doubt if my foot and hip would hold up.  So my training would be only walking and probably not all that much of that.  And if I need to have a surgery, then I need to do it sooner rather than later!

But finishing the Richmond Marathon does seem like a great way to end my long distance running.    Richmond has always been one of my favorite traditional road marathons.  Right now . . . it's like I ended my running on a sour note.

In my heart I would like to do this . . . but realistically is it a check my body could realistically cash?  I just don't know.

(A couple of days have passed)

Another option might be a better option.  Honestly . . . with my body in the condition it is I don't believe doing a 16 minute mile for 26 miles is even close to possible.  Today (Nov 20)  I walked 6 miles about as fast as I could and it ended up taking an average of 17:20 per mile!  So I'm left with the question of can I go faster?  Or should I go longer?

Ever since my college days I've dreamed of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.  Several years ago the dream became much more real when my semi-son did it after he graduated from high school.  Then, in recent years I've considered the Pacific Coast Trail as an alternative.  But I'm afraid these just may be too much for too long . . . each would take 6 months or more of constant hiking with a pack.  That most likely would be too much for my body.

But my last "bucket list" challenge has been to complete the "Last Annual Volunteer State Run," a 314 mile adventure requiring you average ~31 miles a day for 10 days.  That would mean hard hiking 12 hours a day for 10 days in mid-summer across Tennessee (actually you cover Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and finally Georgia).  Actually, I understand it's quite a bit harder than it sounds . . . but to me it just might be doable!  Maybe not finish in the 10 days allotted . . . but it is possible I could finish!!!!  If I chose this option, I wouldn't be able to share it with friends . . . I would be alone virtually the whole way.  That would be a plus for the Richmond Marathon.  I just don't know.

Anyway . . . I'm thinking.  Or . . . realistically I'm just dreaming.

Realistically I just need to move on and quit dreaming about being able to do any of these.  They just aren't realistic.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

See . . . there are good days too!

Yesterday, I met Joe Bunn and Andy Barker at the Y and we walked 5k at lunch.  Some hip pain near the last 1/2 mile but the pain didn't "set in" after the walk.  And this morning my hip feels "normal."  Hopefully walking will be an okay alternative.  I still don't plan to run again . . . but maybe this walking will work for me!  If not, I'll keep trying to find alternatives. 

  • Biking just scares me (cars) so that is out!  
  • Swimming sort of works.  Maybe if I keep trying . . . my shoulder will strengthen up and make it less painful.
Anyway . . . maybe walking is an answer!

If anyone has any suggestions for another aerobic exercise please let me know.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

It's been great . . .

Folks . . . I don't want this blog post to be a downer.  I want it to be a celebration of sorts.  True, in my running life I have only very minor things to celebrate for most folks but for me, I feel good about everything.  I'm happy!   But I've had a couple of folks asking what was going on with me and I thought something was called for.


Running has been a part of my life for many years.  Damn . . . it seems like my whole life!

I started running back in 1975 or 1976 (I believe!!).  I was a smoker, overweight and wanted to turn my life around.  So I stopped smoking . . . then I began running.  And I've kept running pretty much ever since.

My favorite runs were trail runs . . . I just plain love running in the woods and in the mountains.  So many memories of awesome runs.  Especially on Bay's Mountain near Kingsport, Tennessee.  Such a GREAT place to run and enjoy the woods!  Plus, I love running is bad weather . . . running in the rain . . . and snow . . . really cold weather and really hot weather!  Soooo much fun!!

There was a ~10 year period where I had knee pain and had to give up on my running on doctor's advice, thinking I had arthritis and a knee replacement was in my future.  Luckily I discovered a way to begin running again without any surgery.  And so I started back running . . . a lot!  Lots of aches and pains through the years . . . a few knee surgeries and a hip surgery to name a few.  But I pretty much was close to 100%!

But now it is looking like I've run my last run . . . even short distances seem to be out.  My foot issues have plagued me since falling off of a ladder several years ago and now it seems my hip problems have returned and any running just causes too much pain for days and days.  I don't need to see a doctor to have a pretty good idea as to what is going on.  Oh . . . I will see a doctor fairly soon but I know pretty much what's ahead.  And I know my running days need to end.  So I'll just stop running.

Maybe I will find a solution to my hip problem that will allow me to run later.  Never say never.  But right now it's looking like my running days are over.  And I'm okay with that.

My running accomplishments are quite modest . . . embarrassingly few really!!  I was never a very good runner.  I really only competed with myself.  Honestly . . . if you ever considered me a competitive threat you just plain suck!!  Hahaha!

While I wasn't fast, I was very, very stubborn.  I was a pretty good at setting a personal goal and then working hard to achieve it.  Some goals I successfully achieved and a few I didn't.  But overall my running fulfilled a part of me.

I loved finishing races.  The last several years I was pretty much "DFL" in most races ("Dead Fu*king Last" for you non-runners!) but that never ever bothered me.  My goal was to finish.  And I usually did.  The only part about being last is I did feel sorry for the volunteers who had to wait for my sorry, slow ass to stumble across that finish line!

I found that I got way more personal satisfaction in finishing longer races than I ever did having a fast time on a shorter race.  5Ks and 10Ks just weren't nearly as rewarding as a marathon or longer.  I guess the challenge of the distance was what attracted me.  So the last segment of my running life was spent running longer distances marathons, 50Ks, 100Ks, 24 hour races, etc.

Anyway . . .  here are some of my personal achievements . . . don't laugh!  These were HARD for me . . . all but the last two.

  • Best 5k time - 20:01  I believe this was in about 1986-7.
  • Best marathon time - 3 hrs 58 minutes (clock time) at the Marine Corp Marathon in 1986.
  • Completed ~114 runs of a marathon distance or longer
  • Finished two 100 mile runs
  • Best 24 miles covered - 62 miles
  • After running hundreds of races, I FINALLY got an age group award or two in my 60s!!!  (Hahaha! I just had to out-live all those faster guys!!  Plus, find a really small races!!)
  • I had fun
  • I think I helped a few people either start running or to try and stretch their personal boundaries more than they thought they could and try some longer distances.   I think I'm most proud of these accomplishments.
No need to feel bad for me!  I've had a great time running . . . it's just time to turn the page and I've had a couple of people ask what was going on.

And who knows . . . maybe things will change.

A big thank you to each of you that have been one of my running friends.  Especially all the Nooners!  We had something very, very special!  I can't tell you how much you all have meant to me.  Runners are just plain great folks . . . and ultra runners just plain ROCK

My hope is that each of you continue running just as long as you can.  And do a special favor for me.  Go out and try to finish a race (or run) further than you ever have!!  Really GO FOR IT!  And let me know how you did!! 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Quick Update

Resolution Run 5k is over and I guess it was a success in my eyes.  I ram probably 3/4 of the distance . . . though very, very slowly!  My time was 39:52 or a 12:52 pace!  Without a doubt my slowest 5k EVER! 

But I do feel fairly good about those results.  My training consisted of 1-3 mile walks and one run of about 1 mile the day before!!  Not what you would really call "training."

I'm finding it difficult to do much real training. Partially a time problem but mostly a distance problem . . . the 6 inches between my ears!  I've got to develop a routine!!

Anyway . . . not much of a running update but it's all I got!

I did have a PRK procedure done on my left eye on Tuesday (Jan 6th). After the numbing drops wore off it hurt like a MOTHERF%&KER for several hours.  But then . . . withing 15 minutes the pain simply went away and hasn't returned!  Doctor thought that was odd . . . but lucky! Seems when they say "mildly uncomfortable" they really mean "this is going to really hurt."  Anyway, this is all behind me and I can't wait to see how much my vision in that eye has improved.  It had gotten quite bad after all those retina tears this last spring.

Contact comes out Friday and maybe then I'll be able to see . . . Hahaha!!

Next race . . . The Sweetheart 5kon February 14th!  Planning a sub 39!!!  Hahaha!!

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Littleton, North Carolina
World's Slowest Runner . . . well, at least in contention for the honor. Just your average "below average" runner.