Rocking and rolling in Arizona for MLK Day

In January, TB and I are heading to Phoenix for the annual P. F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona race. It will be my second half-marathon and a race that seems popular with our family: TB ran the full marathon in 2006 and returned with her mom and sister in 2007 for the half. The course map below.

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I’m looking forward to experiencing the adrenaline of race day again. This time there will be a lot more runners on a much warmer and flatter course. This being only my second race, I am not quite ready to set a time goal although I am still ecstatic about finishing my first half in 1:56:56.

Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Course MapThe short spurts of daylight are at the top of the list for worst parts about training this time of year. The cold and rain are manageable but running long distances in the dark is generally bad news, particularly when sharing the road with Seattle drivers. Endurance isn’t as much a problem as when I began training for the Bellingham Bay half so now I’m working on getting stronger and running more efficiently.

Off to the races…

Great Moments in Alpha History: May 1995 Northeastern University Stepshow Competition

You are about to witness something special. Something rare, magnificent and hilarious. This is how I chose to give thanks on this special day. Alas, I am getting ahead of myself and need to set the stage.

As you may recall, I’m an Alpha man. My two line brothers and I pledged Rho Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. in spring 1995. (On an historical note, Rho Nu—which encompasses MIT, Harvard and Tufts—will celebrate its 20th anniversary next September.) I was digging through some old VHS tapes, from the brief period during my college days when I had a camcorder, and came across several gems. In addition to footage of family, I also had hours of tape from the Million Man March and a tape of my first stepshow…the topic of this post.

Rho Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Rho Nu inducts its new members in the spring. The tradition is the newest members join with the “older” chapter bros and their fellow counterparts from Sigma chapter—which covers the Boston side of the Charles River—to compete against other fraternities in the area in the annual Northeastern University Stepshow competition. At stake are trophies, a year’s worth of bragging rights and a hockey rink full of women who like a good stepshow and love to see young men work up a sweat.

Sidebar:
I suggest you take a moment to read the bottom of my Alpha turns 100 post which includes a brief summary of stepshows and their significance to Black Greek letter organizations.

To recap, after pledging during the long, bitter New England winter, a new member practices a couple more months with his fellow fraternity brothers to represent the fraternity at the competition and (hopefully) avoid completely humiliating himself in front of the Greater Boston community (which may include his future wife). It just so happens TB was the camerawoman for my first stepshow so there is a modest correlation between stepshows and long-lasting love, right?

Without further ado, I present a Keith’s Amusing Musings exclusive, 16-minute video of the Alpha step team from the May 1995 competition. We won first place, of course. So, go ahead and crank up the sound, sit back and feast your eyes on the “Peabo Bryson circa 1993” inspired suits, forceful rhythms and intricate formations only Alphas could pull off.

Donovan McNabb redux

Terrell Owens as a Cowboy Terrell Owens as an EagleI think my posts about McNabb from two years back are particularly apropos given the recent dust-up in Philadelphia Eagles nation with its starting quarterback. Who knew four seasons would pass with the Eagles failing to make the playoffs? I cannot say I am surprised.

The last time the Eagles made the playoffs was following the 2004 season when they were beaten 24-21 by the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX. So, in 2004 the Eagles made the playoffs and went to the Super Bowl and here, in 2008, they are 5-5 and on the brink of missing the playoffs for four consecutive seasons. The difference since 2004: T.O. That guy who was too much a distraction in Philly. Oops.

I am all too happy to have T.O. distracting the Cowboys to winning seasons and playoff berths. Now Philly fans are distracted by McNabb’s inability to return the club to glory.

Now only if the Cowboys would actually win a playoff game…

A picture is worth 300 albums

I have written about the Zune desktop software previously and one of my favorite features is the “Album Art Wall.” Basically, the software displays a random assortment of cover art from albums in your music collection to completely fill the screen. The example image below was captured at the full 1920×1200 resolution of my primary display at home. It’s a neat way to see about 300 thumbnails from the 1065 albums in my collection (ranging from Aaliyah to Zapp). The Zune desktop software is available as a free download even if you don’t own a Zune device. I highly recommend it over iTunes if you listen to music at your computer.

Here’s a challenge for you: Coldplay is one of my favorite groups and and TB loves Anita Baker. Can you name the Coldplay and Anita Baker albums visible in the “Album Art Wall” below? If so, leave a comment with your answer. The first person with the correct answer will win something fun.

Zune Album Wall

(Click here for the full-size image)

Obama-McCain Electoral Map and Exit Poll Results

It is hard to believe the election was less than 3 weeks ago yet it is already feeling like a distant memory with the euphoria fading rapidly. One aspect of the election that intrigued me the most was the on-again, off-again nature of the exit polling leading up to November 4th. I always wondered how accurate the various polls would turn out to be, and, more importantly, and how truthful those polled were.

As a follow-up to my "Deep Zoom: Obama" post back in July, here is a Deep Zoom-powered finale I created which shows just how our new President-elect redefined the electoral map. As you navigate down you can also see just how the electorate voted based on age, race, income, education and other pivot points collected by the CNN pollsters. I circled the following three data points I found most amazing or enlightening:

  1. Voters age 18-29
  2. Blacks age 65 and older (as compared to other Black age groups—remember this is the voting bloc that suffered the most under Jim Crow and the most egregious racial inequities of the 20th century)
  3. First-time voters (admittedly there is significant overlap with bullet #1)

I am curious whether you think groups 1 and 3 will stomach an Obama administration with Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State. Further, what factors do you believe weighed in the decision of that 6% of group 2—twice the percentage of any other group of Black voters—that voted for McCain over Obama?