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Among the things I so enjoy about producing this scruffy little blog is the informed and civil discourse of readers that take the time to comment, not only on my wretched scribblings, but on the comments of other readers.  At SMM, we expect, and almost universally receive, civil, intelligent and interesting discourse.  I don’t imagine for a second I know everything or am incapable of error.  As I’ve aged, the lesson that continues to mercilessly pound me is how very much I don’t know, will never know.  When I make mistakes—readers are sufficiently kind to point them out—I always do my best to make corrections.  However, finding one’s own errors is difficult business, which is more or less the topic of this little missive.

I always teach my students to put some time between a final draft and publication.  This is so because when we try to proofread something we’ve just finished, our brains trick us.  We don’t see what we actually wrote, we see what we think we wrote, what we intended to write.  My favorite illustration of this is a student who misspelled his name in the header of a paper.  I dutifully marked it in red, and when I handed it back, he demanded to know why I marked his name.

“You misspelled it,” I replied as I continued to hand out papers.

“I did not misspell my own name!” he indignantly replied.

I paused, and with a slight grin, said: “Take a look.”

His expression changed from anger to amazement as he muttered: “I misspelled my own name…” to the general merriment of the rest of the class, which gave me yet another opportunity to explain the importance of putting time between completing something and proofreading it.  I routinely proofread my work at least three times prior to posting it, putting time between each reading, but even that doesn’t guarantee I’ll find every error.

But the primary issue of this article is that of pronoun use and generalities.  Regular reader Doug, in responding to Tara Reade And Joe Biden: Rules Are For The Little People observed:

“Them,” unless you’d like to claim membership?

Ha.. yeah, Mike.. the old ‘us’ and ‘they’ of it all. If the ‘us’ is normal does that not mean the ‘they’ are either abnormal.. or.. dare I say this, some level of deplorable?

And what happens to the us.. that’s not the ‘us’, nor a member of the ‘they’? I am feeling a bit displaced.. and alone. Wait.. can I be a member of the ‘those’?

Doug was referring to terminology I have adopted as a generalization, a shorthand for more complex issues.  One must always write for readers new to the site, while not repeatedly over-explaining for regular readers.  Some acronyms—FBI, CIA, ASAP, etc.–are so common as to be immediately understood.  Others require a bit of explanation, whether spelling them out when they’re first used in an article, or perhaps the context in which they’re used makes them apparent.

While the casual reader might think my general political philosophy conservative, I’m actually a constitutionalist.  That alone might be confusing.  I have thrice taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.  I’m no longer a police officer, nor am I any longer in the military, but having been active duty, I’m in the inactive reserve, though I’m outside the age for call up in anything but the most dire national emergency one can imagine.  I took those oaths seriously, and particularly as a police officer, my daily activities were governed by the Bill of Rights.

Therefore, I judge the law and political policies on their adherence to the Constitution.  I vote for politicians based primarily on who, by their records and statements, is likely to do the least damage to the Constitution.  By this, I’m sure you can infer that I believe all politicians will do some damage to the Constitution, and that’s pretty much the case, though I’ve thus far been pleasantly surprised by President Trump.

I believe all politicians must be viewed with at least some degree of skepticism, and the media must be viewed with virtually nothing but skepticism.  The media doesn’t always lie, but when they do, it’s virtually always to the benefit of the Left, and to the detriment of Normal Americans, which requires explanation.

I don’t automatically identify all Republicans and like-minded thinkers as “us,” nor do I automatically identify Democrats and like-minded thinkers as “them.”  What do we call the Left these days?  They used to self-identify as Liberals, until too much of the public caught on and began to think that a dirty word.  They latched onto “Progressive,” because who can be against progress?  They’re big on trying to define the terms of any debate.  But again, too many Americans have come to realize the kind of “progress” they espouse will turn us into Venezuela, and they don’t think eating zoo animals for mere survival to be the kind of bold, new future into which they want to march.

On the Right, most Republicans are content to be called Republicans. After all, that was the party of Abraham Lincoln, and one can’t do much better than that.  However, in constantly trying to define the terms of every debate, Leftists have coined a number of terms that have stuck, primarily due to their reflexive use in the media, which is actually the propaganda arm of the Democrat Party.  There are Neo-Conservatives, which means Nazis, racists, white supremacists, LGBTQWERTYphobes, women haters, Muslim haters, and haters of everything in general.  There are Republicans, which means Nazis, racists, white supremacists, LGBTQWERTYphobes, women haters, Muslim haters, and haters of everything in general.

There are Never Trumpers, which means Nazis, racists, white supremacists, LGBTQWERTYphobes, women haters, Muslim haters, and haters of everything in general, but also, and most importantly, useful idiots. There are Deplorables, which is pretty much everyone that does not believe and praise everything the Left does, says and thinks, and the list goes on and on and evolves as necessary for temporary political advantage.

The Democrat side is somewhat less complicated.  Progressives, to be sure.  Liberals, never in the classical sense.  But circa May, 2020, the Democrat Party is nothing like the Democrat Party of 30, 20, or even 10 years ago.  The 2020 Party platform will be far closer to the pseudo constitutions of Communist dictatorships than to the US Constitution.  While many members of the Democrat Party have always had socialist leanings, until recent years, they were careful to keep them under wraps, at least until they seized power and could act on them.  Communists too have always been welcome, but until recently, had to keep an even lower profile.  The number of Democrats taking an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution without blatantly lying has continued to shrink until now, one might reasonably think them a minority in the Democrat Party, and a constantly shrinking minority at that.

I have therefore taken to calling Americans that support the Constitution, that do not see it as an obstacle to their political policies, but rather a limitation on the powers of government and an affirmation of the rights of The People, “Normal Americans.”  These are the people that believe in American Constitutionalism and the rule of law.  They believe in small government, limited by the letter of the Constitution, which can be read and easily understood by the average citizen.  They are the Americans who know that if we don’t take care of America and Americans first, we not only won’t be able to take care of others, but eventually, not even ourselves. They believe in national sovereignty and know money is a finite resource. They are compassionate, kind and generous people, and they spend their own money, not the tax dollars of others, to help those in need.  They want mostly to be left alone, and they expect politicians to understand, always, they are the hired hands of the people who have an even greater obligation to obey the law than anyone else.  We hire them to set an example.  At the very least, they ought to obey the law like anyone else.

I have taken to calling those that follow leftist philosophy “D/S/Cs,” for Democrats, Socialists and Communists.  I suspect the majority of that Party would fit within the generally understood limits of socialism, while a somewhat larger portion of the remainder are something that traditional Democrats, people that actually love America and Americans rather than seeking to fundamentally transform both, might recognize.  And the smaller portion, for the moment, are communists, though they still feel at least somewhat compelled to travel as socialists rather than reveal their true beliefs.  In any case, I suspect in using this acronym, I’m being truly inclusive, which they ought to appreciate.  If a given Leftist isn’t a socialist, or at least doesn’t want to be identified as one, they can embrace the “D,” which leaves the “S” and “C” for the remainder.

When I write: “Normal Americans think,” I’m sure rational people know I’m generalizing.  Not only would it be ridiculous to try to include all of the gradations of political thought within that general term, it would be tedious, make my prose unreadable—even more than usual—and would not clarify anything.  We can all understand what the term generally encompasses, and further understand it’s necessary to eliminate unnecessary verbiage that would not, in most circumstances, add anything to understanding.

In the same way, when I write: “D/S/Cs think,” readers can come to the same understandings.  Terms like “Flyover Country,” while intended to be derogatory by those that coined it, do generally describe a common way of living and thinking, and an easily understood, general set of political beliefs.  In the same way are the terms “Left Coast,” or “the Coasts,” generally understood.

In the use of pronouns, antecedents are important.  They’re the proper nouns that tell us to who or what the following pronoun refers.  If we say, “Bob went to the beach and he had a great time,” “Bob” is the antecedent that allows us to know who “he” is.  Done properly, the pronoun is specific, referring to one person or one group.

Providing generally descriptive and useful names for political groups and philosophies is a bit more difficult, but I trust, gentle readers, you know to who, and what I’m referring when I refer to “Normal Americans” and “D/S/Cs.”  Or is it time for another correction?

The Little Rock Half Marathon & 5K Recap

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The Little Rock, Arkansas race series have been on my radar for quite some time.  They are known for their huge, over-the-top medals and unique race themes. The 2020 theme was “Totally Awesome” as a tribute to the 80s.


I like to maintain a base level of fitness with an average of 40 minute runs at least 4 days a week.  I did not follow a fancy plan. During January and February, I was intentional about adding a weekend run with a pace no faster than 9:00 miles.  Training alone allowed me the luxury of sleeping in on Saturdays and letting the Winter temperatures reach their warmest. Anything below 20° “feel like” is a No-Go.  I was caught in the rain a couple of times. I maxed out at 12 miles, two weeks before race weekend.

During the last two long runs it felt like my Hokas were not going to be good enough for 13.1 miles.  They were causing me to get a blister although I only had 254 miles on them. I made a last minute decision to get new shoes.  This is a major No No, but I would rather go back to my tried and true Brooks than know I would suffer 8 miles into the race.

I went to Swags and explained how I had run in Brooks for the last 6 years up until the latest Glycerin was very ill fitting.  They suggested I try the Ghost 12. It fit. The problem was I only had a few short runs to taper miles. I did not know how they would do for speed and endurance.  More on that later.

I am thankful for my co-workers who supported and encouraged me.  I was able to squeeze in most of my shorter runs on my lunch break or during class.  I do not take for granted the privilege of teaching P.E., and literally being able to run around with my Smootents. 


There were no direct flights from Louisville to Little Rock.  The drive time was 7.5 hours which was equal to flight travel time with layovers included.  The host hotel was the Marriott, but I chose to stay one block down at the DoubleTree. I politely asked for a river view room (odd numbers) and a late check out.  Requests granted.

I hit the highway when the school buses rolled out after school on Thursday.  I made it to Memphis to get gas stop at the Nike Clearance store in the Graceland area.  Two hours later, I was in North Little Rock.  I booked a late night hotel rate on Priceline, and got some much needed rest.

Points of Interest in Little Rock:

The Old Mill

Less than 3 miles away from my first hotel was The Old Mill.  It is a picturesque park that was created as a replica of the grist mills from Arkansas’s early pioneers.  

The intricately designed space is popular for wedding and other photo shoots.  Here are some 10-second self timer shots of yours truly:

Riverfront Park

This area is a five minute walk to the Statehouse Convention Center which is the location for race packet pickup.  Parking is free and easy to find on a Friday afternoon.   

Why is it called “Little Rock”?

The French settlers named one side of the river La Petite Roche. The other side was called Big Rock.  The Native Americans were from the Quapaw Tribe. This is what remains of this area that has been developed with fitness trails and a six bridge skyline.  

This photo looks like a postcard, but it is actually a frame cut out facing the Junction Bridge.

Little Rock Central High School

The most significant part of my day was learning more about the Little Rock Nine on a tour of Little Rock Central High School.  I had so many things to do that I had forgotten to reserve a spot 48 hours in advance. I called in the morning and explained I was a teacher in town for the marathon, and it would be an honor to be included with the tour.  They were able to squeeze me in with a 6th grade tour group. It’s just meant for me to be surrounded by middle schoolers.

The “United” sculpture was installed in 2017 on the 60th anniversary of the integration of Central High.

School was in session while we toured the auditorium and the cafeteria to learn about the horrific racism faced by The Little Rock Nine.  Cameras and large bags are strictly prohibited for the safety and privacy of the students.

Across the street from the school is the gas station that was the media hub.

It was gut wrenching to stand on the same side walk, walk up the same entrance, and be in the hallways of where children were tormented by their peers and unprotected by adults because of their skin color.  

A story that stood out was the abuse that happened after P.E. class.  White students would flush all the toilets to make the shower water hot.  When the Black students would try to run out, they would cut their feet on broken glass that was purposely placed in their path.  The young ladies would have their dresses pulled over their heads in the restrooms and get shoved into the hallways for everyone to humiliate them.  It made me cry.

The William J. Clinton Presidential Center

On a  lighter note, I was able to thumb through some archives and see what Mr. Clinton was up to 23 years earlier on February 28th.  It made me smile that the President started his day with a jog.

There was a replica of the Cabinet Room and the Oval Office as it appeared during the Clinton Administration.  I noticed how the Secretary of Education had a seat at the head of the table.


There were so many artifacts on the two floors of exhibit space including information about the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, information technology, personal letters, gifts, awards, and extracurricular activities.

There was a temporary exhibit of the 1990s.  I had to get a photo of the Forrest Gump running attire from the movie.  As President, Bill Clinton was gifted with numerous saxophones and his very own Presidential cruiser bike.

The Little Rock Half Marathon Challenge

I like how Little Rock offered different races to make it worth your while for traveling from out of state or other countries. I met a guy from Amsterdam who picked Little Rock at the last minute due to the Coronavirus cancelling the Tokyo Marathon with the exception of elite runners.  The #LRM would be my first time running back to back races, but that’s why it’s called a “challenge.”

I was not trying to overdo it with a 10K; I kept it light with a 5K.  This would be the race I would get into the 1980s theme. My first idea was to dress as a female hip hop artist.  Then, I thought it would be the last day of Black History Month. Let’s go with Flo-Jo, the 100m and 200m world record holder.  I remember watching the ‘88 Summer Olympics because I was training for the United States Youth Games. Florence Griffith Joyner was and still is one of my sports idols.

I went to a seamster and had him cut the left leg out of a pair of leggings.  He sewed it onto an old swimsuit once used as a layered suit to create more drag when I was cross-training.  The fish nets were a last minute decision because it was around 35° at the start.  

The obligatory “Flat Runner” photo:

The Little Rock 5K

The benefit of staying a block from the starting line was being able to stay warm in the hotel lobby.  I could have gone to the Marriott and waited in the Convention Center also. I ran a few warm-ups while a woman from El Paso snapped my photo.  I was breaking necks left and right. I received so many compliments. I was mistaken for dressing as Jazzercise which I totally forgot even existed.  It goes to show the lack of credit Flo Jo has for embracing femininity in her sports attire long before Serena rocked a catsuit.

The course was pretty simple.  It was a little tight for running room in the first turn.  The last half mile or so would be a preview for the half marathon finish.  According to my Garmin data, I ran long on the course. I would use this data to make sure I ran tight tangents on the half marathon.  

5K Results (Unofficial):

Time:  25:45 8:18 pace  

Age Group:  3rd out of 173   

Gender Rank:  15th out of 1160

Overall:  61st out of 1767

My goal was to finish at 24:00.  I was pleased to earn 3rd in my age group.

Little Rock Half Marathon

In addition to the #LRMarathon being known for the world’s largest marathon finisher’s medal, the Chicks in Charge (Race Directors) demonstrate inclusion by allowing a 6 a.m. start.  This allows pre-approved walkers and runners the benefit of a two hour early start. I was having coffee and oatmeal as the early starters made their way across the Broadway Bridge. 

I did not leave my hotel room until 7:47 for an 8:00 a.m. start.  Again, the Double Tree or the Marriott downtown are the best hotels to stay for this race.  There is no other race I have been this fortunate to have that extra lounge time.

Like a nerd, I studied the half marathon map provided in the guide book.  I would break the half marathon into these sections:

  1. The Bridge to North Little Rock and back. 
  2. Downtown to the airport
  3. The airport traffic circle to MacArthur Park.
  4. Governor’s Mansion to the Finish.

The first 3 miles took us across the Broadway Bridge and into North Little Rock.

There were a few raindrops between miles 2-3.  The rain was not supposed to move in until later in the day.  Thankfully, it was just a few drops that ended. We were blessed with 50-60° temps.  I have read that no two years are alike with heat, rain, sleet and snow all being possible conditions for this time of year in Arkansas.  

Miles 4-5 were the same course as the 5K in downtown.  I had a lot of appreciation for the Spin Class on the side of the road supporting runners on our way out to the airport.

Miles 6-8 was the flattest and most uniform with straightaways.  The head wind picked up which resulted in tailwind on the way back.

After leaving the airport and mile 8, I was feeling cocky.  I thought, “where are the hills I read about?” This next photo is the “hill.”  It is barely anything. I would classify this course as flat. I hear there are some real hills in the full marathon though.

Miles 9-10 is where we entered MacArthur Park.  The crowds were thick in this area. There were all kinds of beer and mimosa stops.  There was even a communion if you were feeling holy.

We passed by the Esse Purse Museum.

Another popular stop was grilled pineapple.  It. Was. So. Sweet.

Next, I was on the lookout for the Governor’s Mansion and my chance for a photo opp.  Would Governor Asa Hutchinson be there?

Yep, he sure was.  Regardless of political affiliation, name one marathon or half marathon where the Governor comes out to support.  I’ll wait.

I was down to the final two miles.  Sounds very easy, except the outside of my left foot was hurting. The tips of my right toes were hurting.  I was running on adrenaline at this point. God bless those marathon runners is what I thought as we approached the split.

For the last mile I had an attitude.  I was mad at the shoes, mad at my foot and mad that I would not be able to hawk people down at the finish line.  But wait. The race wasn’t over. One of the most talked about stops was on the final stretch. The L’Oreal Lipstick stop is in place to make sure we look our best in those finisher photos.  A big smile came upon my face when I saw my lovely Sorors of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. providing the lipstick. This was the support I needed to make it the last few strides.

The Mayor of Running, Bart Yasso announced my name as I worked my way inside the convention center to get my finisher and challenger medals

Half Marathon Results

Time:  1:53:14  8:38 pace 

Age Group:  11th out of 273

Gender Rank:  54th out of 1864

Overall:  265th out of 2981

Come Through Drippin’

Final Thoughts:

My perception of Little Rock has changed.  The city was very welcoming, the people were friendly, and there are some really nice areas in Little Rock.  I would recommend the #LRM because:

  • Fun Stations like the Queen Bee Half in Cincinnati.
  • Historical significance like the Mercedes Benz Half in Birmingham.
  • Ease of parking and logistics like the Derby Mini in Louisville.
  • Fast courses like the OneAmerica 500 in Indianapolis.
  • Not too crowded like the Marshall University Half in Huntington.

💋Kelsie Lou💋

Source: The Little Rock Half Marathon & 5K Recap

Montreal Memories

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My Canadian adventures continued from Toronto to Montreal. The drive was very scenic and more metropolitan compared to the rural landscape between Windsor and Toronto. I did all of my research about “Things to do in Montreal” and “Best area to stay in Montreal” during the drive.

I tried Airbnb and the listings were not as nice as what Toronto offered. I played it safe and booked two nights at the 5-star, Hotel Le Crystal.

Le Crystal Hotel saltwater pool
Self care in the saltwater pool, Swedish sauna and outdoor terrace hot tub.

Mary Queen of the World Cathedral

This was my first outing in Montreal. The majesty of this church was nice for prayer and reflection. The architecture stands out in the downtown location of modern buildings.

This church is a 1/3 size replica of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Montreal’s Most Iconic Dishes

Every where you go in Montreal, there are restaurants selling poutine. Poutine is french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. It does not sound appealing, but the flavors blend nicely.

If your diet allows, do not leave Montreal with out eating a smoked meat sandwich. When I walked out of Rueben’s Deli and Steakhouse, the manager said, “See you tomorrow.” He was right. What made the dining experience even more unique was having a hilarious waiter from Louisville, KY. It’s a small world and a reminder that I was in the right place, doing the right thing. I don’t take coincidences lightly.

Another must-try food in Montreal are the bagels. I worked in a bagel store in high school, so I know what a good bagel tastes like. Fresh out of the oven with cream cheese is the way to go.

It is a good thing that I did a lot of walking. I do not want to look at a french fry for the rest of the summer.

Montreal is a 24 hour city.

Scooter Tour of Montreal

After planning every step in Toronto, I thought it would be nice to go on a guided tour of Montreal. A bicycle tour was suggested, but I do enough of that at home. Dyad Scooters would lead the way for 4 hours in the city.

As we rolled through traffic towards Mount Royal, I noticed similarities to Toronto in terms of city murals.

We stopped at the bottom of Mount Royal for an explanation of how buildings in Montreal are not permitted to be built higher than this landmark.

Mount Royal location of tam-tams parties held every Sunday with a lot of “recreational” activities.

We rode down Avenue Maplewood where luxury homes lined the streets.

Once we crossed the Mount Royal Cemetery, we went to the Mount Royal park, designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted. Olmsted was a blessing to North America with his landscape designs.

Fredrick Law Olmsted Mount Royal Park
Mount Royal Park
“All you need is love and skylines.”

We had to be careful going down the steep mountain. We stopped for a view of the Olympic Stadium where Caitlin Jenner who, as Bruce Jenner won the gold medal in the 1976 Men’s Decathlon.

Montreal is a bike friendly city with purposely marked lanes. Our tour went into a laid back area of The Mile End. There are a diverse number of ethnic divisions of Jewish people in Montreal, with the Hasidic families being the most noticeable.

Our last stop was at the Jean- Talon Market. I was not shy about sampling the fresh produce. A bag of cherries would be my snack for the day.

Montreal Jazz Festival

The Jazz Festival was getting ready to start just a few blocks from the Dyad Scooter store. There were at least eight different stages, plus stand alone performers. I was surprised to a lot of interactive music activities for children.


Montreal’s Chinatown was better than Toronto’s. I didn’t sample any food, just sightseeing. A very sweet woman gave me a pamphlet about Falun Gong.

Cannabis Dispensary

SQDC Montreal
I had to stop and Google this place. I knew people were not lined up around the block for a men’s clothing store. The smell was very loud!

Notre-Dame Basilica

In addition the the Montreal Jazz festival, there was a Cirque Festival going on too. After a long day, I was not feeling the outside events and I can catch an indoor Cirque show in any city.

I was pressed for time so I caught the Metro from downtown to Old Montreal.

Old Montreal

One of the best experiences in my life was attending the Aura show at the Notre-Dame Basilica. Photography was strictly prohibited during the 20 minute luminous show that told stories using lights and angelic music. This is a must do activity in Montreal, for sure!

You definitely feel a divine presence in this beautiful church. Celine Dion was married here.
The last photo before Aura began.

Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.

Anita Desai

Kelsie Lou

Source: Montreal Memories