Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I'm It!

My friend and hero Jill tagged me in a recent blog entry. I'm it! That means that I have to write the following blog entry. Here are the rules:

1. I must post these rules.
2. I must post eleven random things about myself.
3. I must answer the questions set for me in Jill's post.
4. I must create eleven new questions for the folks I tag.
5. I must go to their blogs and tell them that I've tagged them.
6. I can't say, "If you are reading this, you are tagged!" I have to actually designate eleven people.

Here are the eleven things about me. I did not consider, by the way, the eleven most essential or representative things. These are just eleven things:

1. I am gearing up to support my wife Kacie in her Double Ironman. As you can probably guess, that means that she'll be swimming 4.8 miles, cycling 224 miles, then running 52.4 miles. Whew! She starts at 7:00 on Friday morning, and she'll be done on Saturday morning. It will be quite an event! (Jill, who tagged me, will be there, too! She's going to be on the crew for one of Kacie's competitors.) It will be very difficult but very fun for all involved.

2. I have almost 12,000 songs on my iTunes. That's about a month's worth of music.

3. I have never listened to about 70% of those songs. They're deep tracks on albums that I bought for two or three songs, or they are albums that I borrowed from friends and ripped (wait--that's illegal--never mind) and never got around to listening to.

4. I am a sixth-generation Georgia schoolteacher on my mother's side. The tradition stretches back about 150 years. I didn't actually know this when I decided to become a teacher.

5. My full name is George Washington Darden IV. The original George Washington Darden--the uncle of my great Grandfather--murdered a man in Warrenton, Georgia, and was lynched for it in the 1880s. We recently found out that the man he murdered is buried in a cemetery about three miles from where Kacie and I currently live.

6. I am very good at picking the right tollbooth. That is, given a choice of several tollbooths, I can normally choose which one will get me in and out most quickly. Sometimes, I falter, but for the most part, I'm golden.

7. I was the captain of the track and cross-country teams at Georgia Tech. As a result, I spent more of my time in college running and thinking about running than studying. I had good results--I was All-ACC in track and All-District in cross-country--but I had very poor grades. I didn't become a serious student until I went to graduate school. I finished my Ph.D. last semester.

8. I am a Lewis and Clark enthusiast, and I have followed the first part of the trail (from St. Louis to Bismarck, ND, near where they spent their first winter). I went through a three- or four-year period in the early 2000s where I was totally engrossed in everything Lewis and Clark.

9. I am a native southerner, but I have spent three years living outside of the south: one in Michigan, one in New Hampshire, and one in Washington, DC. I very much dislike cold weather.

10. I have two brothers-in-law, and they are both named Patrick. One--my wife's little brother--is eight. The other--my older sister's husband--is forty-two. I do not often confuse them.

11. I am always very adamant that I grew up in the city of Marietta. There are a lot of sections of Cobb County that have a Marietta mailing address but aren't part of the actual city of Marietta. The city of Marietta is much more diverse than the larger county, and I am proud of having grown up around a wide variety of people. Many people who say that they are from Marietta are actually from Cobb County, and they live in much less diverse environments. As a result of our different upbringings, I feel as if I am very different from most of the Cobb County folks. (As an aside: many people who are from Cobb County or from Marietta say that they are from Atlanta, and that kinda annoys me, too.)

Jill's questions:

1. Do you consider yourself a person who uses time efficiently?
No. For example, right now, I have a lot of papers to grade, and I'm writing this blog. :-)

2. Would YOU wear a Rev3 Sparkly Suit??
Yes, but I wouldn't pose for a picture in one.

3. What was your Best Moment in Sports?
In 2003, a former student that I taught and coached in New Hampshire was killed in a car wreck. His brother was also killed. It was a huge blow to the community where I spent a very formative year, and a lot of people who are really dear to me were deeply hurt. That summer, his parents organized a 5K road race to raise money for the scholarship fund that they had established in their sons' names. Four athletes that I coached in Atlanta and I drove all night so that we could be on the starting line. Since we didn't sleep, I didn't know if I would be able to run hard in the race. I was also a bit out-of-shape. Nonetheless, I took the lead at the two-mile mark and won going away. It was my best moment in sports, without doubt.

4. What do you think of "Shock and Awe"?
If we're talking about the American strategy in Iraq, I think it was a completely ridiculous strategy. We blew up all of their infrastructure and dismantled their social, political, and economic institutions. Then, we said, "Okay, you're free, now govern yourselves." As it turns out, it was really hard for them to establish a government or provide governmental services in a country that we had completely devastated. Shouldn't we have foreseen this? And should we be surprised that they didn't see this as an act of generous liberation??

5. What one thing would you like to change about yourself?
There are a lot of ways that I could improve. Rather than getting all serious, though, let's just say that I wish I was a good dancer.

6. What one thing do you love about yourself?
I picked a good wife.

7. Why is Rev3 Running Across America? (yes, shameless promotion plug)
The stated reason is to raise money for cancer research. The underlying reason is that it's TOTALLY AWESOME. One day, I would like to do something that takes me all the way across the country--be it running, cycling, or whatever. Kacie and I actually had plans to ride bikes across the country in the summer of 2009, but I got badly injured in a race and we had to cancel.

8. What is the first thing you would do with a million dollars? (you can't say "invest half"; okay you can, just also say what you'd do second.)
We would invest, pay off our debts, probably buy a new house in the area, and get new bikes. In fact, I was thinking that if we somehow won a lot of money, my first words would probably be, "We're getting new bikes!" It's not because we need new bikes, mind you, but as a cyclist, there's always a nicer bike to be bought.

9. Which is better, Long Run? Long Bike? or Long Book?
They are all good in different ways. Each of them are better, though, if you are with a group.

10. What is your current "favorite" song?
"Current" is the main word. I change my favorite song almost weekly, and it's often not a current song. My current favorite song is "Otis" by Kanye West and Jay-Z.

11. If you had the chance to implement one change in America what would it be?
I wish that we valued thoughtfulness. That is, I wish that we considered it a virtue to take time and think things through. Likewise, I wish that the people we held in highest esteem were the ones who were the most contemplative. Of course, this is a multifaceted problem, but I think that we could design schools in ways that would reward deliberation and thoughtfulness. As it is now, very few schools do this, and educational policy designed to "improve" schools actually works against making them more thoughtful places.

Okay, now for the tagging. I'm about to break one of the posted rules. I don't have eleven people I can tag. :-) I will merely tag three: Nate, Shannon, and Meredith. I had the fortune to teach and/or coach each of these folks during my career. I look forward to reading y'all's stuff!

Here are my eleven questions:

1. What is your job and how did you choose it?
2. What is the destination of your next big trip?
3. What was the last good book you read?
4. What is the most interesting place you've ever been?
5. Who is your best friend?
6. How did you come to live in the place where you currently live?
7. Describe one of your mid-range (next 5 years or so) goals.
8. If you could fill a swimming pool with anything, what would it be and why?
9. What do you do on a typical Friday night?
10. What was your favorite subject in school? Do you still "use" it?
11. And, because Jill asked it and I liked it,
If you had the chance to implement one change in America what would it be?

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