Sunday, March 25, 2018

Gun Violence Hitting Close to Home

Last week gun violence hit closer to home than usual. There was another school shooting, this time in Maryland. A friend was held up at gunpoint walking home in Philadelphia. And the Panera on Nassau Street was the scene of a five hour standoff between a 56-year old veteran with a gun and local police, SWAT teams, FBI, and anyone else with a gun.

Following Saturday's March for Our Lives in Princeton many protesters papered the closed Panera storefront with their posters creating a memorial. After reading about it on Planet Princeton Don and I drove into Princeton to see it.

The streets were much quieter at 7:15 pm than they were at 2 pm. People paused to look at the shrine, many (like us) taking pictures. It was somber. 

We then walked to Hinds Plaza where the protest had taken place only a couple of hours earlier. It was clean and quiet. A few people, huddled in winter coats, sat at the tables. There was no trash. No shrine to what had taken place earlier that day.

We didn't stay long, just long enough to feel the vibe. It was somber. Sleepy little Princeton was back to being a sleepy town. 

Panera is closed following the police standoff on Tuesday

I think of this every time I go through airport security

As if thousands of people weren't there two hours earlier

March for Our Lives - Princeton, NJ

People gathered all around the country and the world yesterday to give a voice against gun violence. For the most part these events were led by high school and college students.

The event in Princeton was a rally and not a march -- the difference being we stood in Hinds Plaza next to the Princeton Public Library and heard speeches. We did not take to the streets, though we did overflow into the streets. The official word is 5,000 people filled the space starting at Hinds Plaza, crossing Witherspoon Street, up to Spring Street, and down towards Halo Pub. 

Ashley and I arrived as the event was starting. At that point Hinds Plaza was about full. We managed to find a cozy spot along the bushes near the bike racks. At no point did we feel crowded or squished. We saw some friends (Allie and Ben, Ken and Trina, and her middle school math teacher) and later learned many other friends were in the crowd. The group was predominantly middle to upper middle class white, what you would expect in Princeton.

Ashley and I stayed about 45 minutes. The speeches were the same -- preaching to the "choir" type speeches. Many chants of "VOTE THEM OUT," which is hard to get behind when you really love your congresswoman (Bonnie Watson Coleman) and would not want her replaced by someone worse. 

As we walked back to the car we saw many other people joining the group. Imagine 5,000 people came out to protest gun violence in "sleepy, little Princeton," words I heard someone use to describe the event as we were leaving. 

Will things change? Not overnight, but the tide is pushing in that direction.

Here are a couple of links from Planet Princeton: (towards the end are a couple of my pictures)

A article about the Parkland students worth reading:

My pictures:

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Run 2018

Let me start by saying RunBucks does an awesome job organizing races. They tend to be not very expensive, and they cut out the junk, while having awesome food at the finish.

I also like this organization because I often bump into friends at the race.

Gabrielle and Sandra
At 4 miles, the distance is fun. It is a small stretch from my usual 5K (3.1 miles) training runs, but not such a stretch I have to do a bunch of extra training.

The race course is the same as it was in 2016 and 2017. One difference was this year Don did not run it with me. Last year the temperature was in the 20s. This year it was a seemingly 40 degrees at the start, but very windy (17 mph winds). On Friday we had a winter nor-easter, meaning lots of wind, but also some snow. Accumulation wasn't much, but the wind took down lots of trees, branches, power lines, etc. The organizers were kind enough to email us last night to say they checked the course. There were some small branches down (unlike the tree that blocked the 15K course last summer), and one puddle "that should be blow dried by the start," and indeed it was. 

My hope was the wind would be in my face for the "out" and at my back for the the "back." That was pretty true, except for the part on the canal was protected enough by the trees that I didn't notice the wind in my face, or at my back. When I did really notice the wind was during the last third of the last mile when we were pushing ourselves to the finish line. 

I set my personal goal of finishing sub-44 minutes. I passed the clock at the finish line and it said 43:50, but the official finish time was 43:55. My official chip time was 43:14, and my GPS said 43:20. The race sold out, but the day before the race they said they had a number of deferrals so people could buy a bib day of for $40 (cash). Hopefully soon they will post how many people actually ran it. Last year I was 43:40. I did not walk any part of the course this year, which is a small victory for me.

My biggest problem was I lost a glove on the course. Must have been on the way back because I would have noticed it if I ran over it on the way back. As I started to retrace my steps I asked a woman if she saw it. She said she did, and that she nearly picked it up but didn't. It was "less than a mile back." A mile back, then another mile back to my car, hmm... is it worth it for a "throw away glove?" Oh yes it is since one glove does no one any good, and since I hate to litter. 

As I found my glove, I also saw these beauties in the lake:

I was able to collect my glove and still make it home in time to take the girl to school in time for the matinee.

Unfortunately I also lost my Bondi band phone holder, but found two phone holders someone else left behind. I was encouraged to take one home. So if some reading this is looking for theirs, post a reply to this and I'll get it to you. If someone reading this found mine, I'd love to swap.

Three more comments:

1) The bathrooms, which have always been open, were not. The park ranger who drove by told us to "call maintenance" to see if they could turn it on. And how were we supposed to reach them on a Sunday morning? He then said they may have turned the water off because it was a really cold winter. Maybe? The race organizers thought the indoor plumbing would be open. At least there were port-a-potties.

2) A man trying to get on the Bucks County ticket for the next election was out collecting the 1,000 autographs he needed to get on the Democratic ballot. I thought that was a brilliant way to find lots of locals. Unfortunately he kept talking to people from New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Virginia.

3) The lack of water stops was odd. It was 40 out. I thought they had water last year when it was in the 20s, but I might be mixing up races. Seemed odd for them.

Get out there! It is definitely better than it was on Friday.