Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Another year, another birthday. At 42 there ain't a whole hell of a lot to celebrate. I have to say though that this year was orders of magnitude better than last year. Last year, as many of you know, I made the humonguous mistake of arranging or a big CT scan on my birthday, and the results were not what I was anticipating or hoping for. Suffice to say, the rest of the day flat out sucked. BUt alas, that's all in the past. Birthday highlights this year included:

-- wake up from the kids who made handwritten cards (the girl, anyway. Evidently The Boy has been "too busy" at school)
-- birthday wishes all day long from all my friends; big thanks to y'all
-- terrific gifts from the Wife, including a lovely (I didn't just say "lovely" did I?) shirt and Armani jacket and a pair of killer Reef sandals
-- a terrific lunch with a client
-- a surprise visit at work from The Wife and Kids, who joined my office for cake
-- an amazing gift from my co-workers; a portable GPS unit, because they all marvel how often I get lost when driving (I have the worst sense of direction ever). VERY thoughtful of them and greatly appreciated.
-- a nice trail run when I got home
-- pizza and cupcake with the kids
-- an epic meltdown -- I mean EPIC -- from The Girl that I am trying to erase from my memory bank
-- a great glass of Oban Scotch, which I am enjoyin as I type
-- American Idol, followed immediately by Boston Legal in its new night.

All in all, meltdown aside, a near perfect day!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I had a meeting late this afternoon that was on the campus of Stanford University. I've been to Palo Alto many times before, but all these meetings have been within the tech corridor. So, this was my first time on campus and all I can say is holy cow: this might be the prettiest campus I have ever seen, and I include the Ivy's.

It is astonishingly beautiful and Palo Alto is just a super cool town (I might be off the mark here a bit, but I believe that Palo Alto is the most expensive area code in the country, right ahead of Beverly Hills). I got to my meeting a bit early so I walked around and fortunately for me I was near the sports facilities (track, football, tennis). I easily found the track and was fortunate enough to catch a bit of an outdoor practice. This might not sound like much to any of you, but I'm a bit of a track and field dork and Stanford alway has one of the best squads in the country. I watched a few of the dudes running quarter miles and holy cow, were they just flying. I went to look at the training facility and it was just insane. I guess a school with an endowment like Stanford's can (more than) take care of their athletes.

Anyway, if any of you are ever West, I suggest taking a trip to check out this campus, which s otherwise known as the Harvard of the West. I'm a michigan man through and through, but I have to say I wouldn't mind if either of my kids went to this school.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


As I've stated previously, the motif of the year thus far is coaching - as in coaching two separate baseball teams this year. However, I've been doing another sort of coaching as well, a bit under the radar: I've been coaching a few runners.

I started about six moths ago or so with my friend and former colleague Nick, who at the time was relatively new to running. A few weeks ago I picked up another "client" (I use the word loosely; I'm doing this for free) who is also a former colleague. Both guys are working towards completing their first marathon this fall in Chicago and both are making great progress

Anyway, turns out I might actually know what I am doing: despite training through for the Lakefront Ten Miler day in downtown Chicago, Nick busted out an amazing time that, quite frankly, has surprised us both. Six months ago he was skeptical that he could run one mile under 8:00 minute pace. Today he busted out ten miles at an average pace of around 7:30. And the beautiful thing is he could go even faster.

Anyway, a big congrats to Nick. I might be doing the coaching but he's putting in all the hard work, and today he saw the rewards.

Important qualifier vis a vis my "coaching" -- it's not something I am exactly qualified for in a professional sense. I don't have an exercise physiology degree or even a trainer's certification (though that's on my "to do" list for this year or next). The only thing I have is about 20 year's worth of experience, which I think counts for something.

Anyway, if anyone else is interested in my "services" please let me know. For the short-term, the price is definitely right (as in free if it wasn't clear before).

On the topic of running, I went on my longest trail run in all my time here in Marin: ran for three hours and twenty minutes on the trails in what I am calling the Tour de Marin. I literally hit all the "biggies": Sun Trail to Redwood to Dipsea to Muir Woods to Muir Beach to Coastal Trail to Pirates Cove to Pacific Coast Trail Back to Coastal to Tennessse Valley to Miwok to Highway One and Alll the way back up a gnarly mountain to my house. I was so freaking worked in the heat -- it was around 85 degrees - towards the end of the run that I saw a cab and started heading over -- I had ten bucks in my pocket and had had enough. Just as I approached, the cabdriver rolled down the window, took a look at me and said "you are one tough dude."

With that said, there was no way I could get in the cab.

Tough dudes don't od cabs during hard runs.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Pop Culture Predictions

Just back from a Friday night baseball game. The Little Boy played great once again. Highlight tonight included a terrific play at second base that got him rousing applause. He was rather proud of himself. Actually, I was too. All those grounders I've thrown this past year are finally paying off for something.

Pretty zonked so will keep this lite tonight. Couple of pop culture predictions:

1. David Archelleta will edge out David Cook to win American Idol.

2. David Cook will prove to be by far the biggest recording star.

3. Cut Copy's new album will be voted by Pitchfork as the best album of 2008. Keep in mind it's only April and this prediction is subject to change.

4. The Office will come to be regarded as the Seinfeld of this decade. The last two episodes have been off the hook.

5. Harold and Kumar will prove to be the movie of the year and will garner an Oscar nomination. Suffice to say, I can't WAIT to see this one.

6. I will buy the new 3g iphone the day it comes out (editors note: this has nothing to do with pop culture, i know. I'm just sayin')

7. Indiana Jones will exceed the hype. I mean: how could it not? The Little BOy and I are contemplating pitching a tent and sleeping out the night before this one comes out. THAT is how stoked i am.

8. Tom Cruise will melt down again on Oprah's couch next week.

9. Gossip Girl will prove to be the new OC.

10. I will get a life.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hill Night

I am so tired from my hill workout tonight that I can't see straight so a relatively short post tonight.

Hill night (Wednesday) for all those who are interested, consists of a 15 minute run to a big old hill down by Tennessee Valley (and when I say big, I mean BIG. This bad boy goes up at a gradual but steady rate fro 1.4 miles -- with virtually no reprieve). Once I get to said hill, I generally run 5 x 2 minutes at around half marathon pace. Trust me when I say that it's a long ass two minutes. Then after a short break of oh, about a minute, I run 5 x 1 minute at 10k pace. Then I run 15 more minutes back home. Then I eat a lot and generally go to sleep early.

Got home to catch the last two innings of the Yankees game with the Little Boy. I think the Yankee's are starting to play better ball, but I think there are some major causes for concern, the chief being the young pitches - most especially Hughes and Kennedy, are simply not stepping up. Mussina looked good tongith but he is definitely starting to show his age. The bats are fine but that is expected given that lineup. If one or more of the youngsters fail to step up, however, it could be a very long season.


I got some terrific music lately that I highly recommend, including the Cut Copy (I don't know who these guys are but they are really terrific), the new Morning Jacket and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. More detailed reviews forthcoming.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Doug Davis

Looks like we have a new member of the club: Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Doug Davis was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer. This guy really stokes me though: nine days outside of surgery and he's back on the mound practicing. He's scheduled to pitch on May 9th and you better believe I will be watching.

This thyroid cancer club of ours is growing withs all sorts of athletes: Coby Karl of the Lakers (and son of coach George Karl), gymnast Lisa Potts and now Doug Davis. All we are missing is an NBA guy to round things out.

Not too much else to report. I'm in LA right now and absolutely shelled from a big training weekend: ran 2 hours (about 13 miles) of hills on Saturday, and then the exact same thing on an even tougher course on Sunday. 26 miles of hills over two days will take its toll, especially on this soon-to-be 42 year old body. Oh well, at least I should be ready or this 31 mile race in two weeks.

Here's a question I will leave with: WHY in the world do I keep subjecting myself to these crazy races?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Two Year Mark

Yesterday marked the two year anniversary of the day of my diagnosis. To mark this inauspicious occasion, I ran 13 miles on trails.

Take that, cancer.

On the topic, prior to The Boy's baseball game (he went 5-5, and is really coming along nicely), the coaches passed out a baseball for all the kids to sign, and handed out blue bands to all the kids and coaches marked "Homeruns and Hope."
Evidently, there's a little second grader in town who's pretty sick with cancer. I don't know him but my heart goes out to him and his family.

Although I am a huge Lance fan I have never once worn a yellow Livestrong band. Nothing even remotely against them, but I've never been one to run with the "in" thing and they have become a little too ubiquitous for my personal taste. Instead, I opt to wear Livestrong sunglasses, but that's a story for another day.

Ironic that I was given this band on my second anniversary. It's a punch-in-the-gut reminder that while I might be doing fine, I/we can't forget that there's a whole lot of people out there who aren't.

Funny, when I put this band on it felt just right. I think I'll wear it for a while in honor of this little fellow, who's deeply in my thoughts.

Livestrong, little man. We're all pulling for you.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Andy and Lisa Potts

I opened the sports section today and was delighted to discover a (rare) article on the sport of triathlon. It was a feature story on Andy Potts, who's one of my favorite triathletes, for no other reason than he's a fellow University of Michigan alumn. So I am reading this article, which is linked right here, (if you have a moment, it's a great read) and I am stunned to discover that his wife, Lisa, a former UM gymnast, is recovering from a fairly serious bout of thyroid cancer.


I am always amazed when I read stories such as this that involve thyroid cancer; it's like we share a common bond. Though as noted, I'm a big Andy Potts fan and I am going to be pulling hard for him to make the US Olympic team this weekend at the trials, I must confess that I'm rooting harder for his wife.

Anyway, I decided to reach out to him; following is the letter I sent. Sure interested to see if he responds.

Regardless and as stated in my letter: Go, Andy, Go. And you too, Lisa.

Hi Andy:

My name is Howard Solomon and I just discovered after reading the New York Times article today that you and I have a lot in common:

1. We both went to the University of Michigan (class of 88)

2. We are both triathletes (of course you are world class, whereas I suck)

3. We have both been touched by thyroid cancer. I was diagnosed in 2006 and my version was very similar to your wife’s (although my mets mysteriously ended in my HIP of all places, versus my lungs. Beyond that: very similar – and I too continue to struggle with my synthroid).

I had my thyroid removed and 90 days later finished Vineman half ironman Ironically enough, it was the slowest performance of my life, but perhaps my most rewarding. If nothing else, we thyroid cancer people are tough, as I am sure you have learned from your wife!

I’ve always been a fan of yours and now I’m one even bigger one. I will be rooting for you this weekend but I’m also rooting for your wife. If she is interested, she can take a look at my blog at www.iamacancerman .com.

It’s partially related to my kids; partially related to my travails with cancer and partially related to endurance sports.


Go Andy Potts!

Go Lisa Potts!

Go Blue!


-howard solomon

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


The leitmotif of the day definitely seems to be numbers. A sampling:

10: Number of consecutive years I have not been accepted to the Hawaii Ironman via the lottery. I've grown accustomed to my fate and will probably continue my false hope for ten more years. You would have though though, that they would have the courtesy of sending me *something* to mark this momentous occasion. A ironman mug or something. The truth of the matter is I don't really have the time in my life right now to do the requisite (nor, frankly, the inclination, though I suspect this could change) amount of training, and should I get selected, it probably would be better in 10 years or so when the kids are off doing their own thing. But still -- would be nice to at least have the option.

6: Number of freaking wild turkeys I saw during my run this evening. What is it with wild turkeys? Up until a few weeks ago I've never seen a single one; now I feel like they are overtaking the planet.

50: Distance race I realized I am supposed to run in less than a month. I recognized a few weeks ago that I haven't nearly put in the training required for a race this long, so I emailed the race director today asking if I could instead do the "easier" version: the 50k (31 miles, which isn't exactly easy). Apologies for that Payro, if you are reading this. As noted above, finding the time is proving difficult these days. I also noted that the race, which is in Wisconsin, is over Mother's Day. The Wife isn't going to let me forget this one.

61: Years ago today that Jackie Robinson broke into the big leagues. Here's to you, Mr. Robinson: an American hero forever.

On the subject, the father of one of The Boy's sons called this am and asked if he could take the Little Boy out of school early to a Giant's game. This gave me pause because in a million years, my father NEVER would have allowed such a thing (right dad -- and don't you dare say otherwise!) but I decided to let him go, especially considering that there was a special celebration for Jackie R. Anyway, if you ever want to STOKE -- and I mean STOKE a little boy, tell him he gets to a. get out of school early with b. his friends to c. got to e big league baseball game. We made him write a report about the day and I also mae him sign a contract promising to be good and go to bed on time all week.

No joke, but we'll see how long that lasts.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Doctor Appointment

Saw my endo today; I really dig this dude. He's a bit crotchety, but in a fun and humorous way (he's South African and has a very dry wit) and he's very, very methodical. I am a big fan.

Anyway, as my ultrasound and bloodwork indicated, everything is looking good. The gameplan from hereon is pretty simply: another round of bloodwork/ultrasound, only this time in six months opposed to three, and then next April (of 09) I will be given a (relatively) experimental drug, thyrogen, which duplicated the effects of going hypo, only without having to go off meds. The thyrogen is very expensive and I will receive multiple shots over the course of week, but if I don't have to go hypo again, then it's worth every penny. Presuming that everything is clear -- and at this stage I have every reason to believe that will be the case -- I will be good to go.

So, good news.

Compared to where I was about a year ago -- in the midst of hypo hell and then the bad scan on my birthday last April 30th, I feel very, very fortunate. It's amazing how much one's fortunes can change in a year.

Anyway, I say that all followed by a big knock on wood.....

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Heat

Man oh man; I actually think it may have been hotter today in SF than it was in Mexico; at one point my car temperature gauge read 90. Pretty astonishing for April.

I ran two (hot) hours on the trails; coached baseball for another two hours; took the little girl swimming, and have a *tad* bit of jetlag from Mexico, so a short post tonight as I am wiped out.

A few recommendations:

-- I'm only about 60 pages into Richard Price's new novel, Lush Life, but thus far it definitely merits the positive reviews it has garnered. It's classic Richard Price and the dialogue is just superb.

-- I have a TON of new music. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it all but a few albums that I initially recommend include: the Black Keys (bluesy in the spirit of early Led Zeppelin; Does It Ofend You (still not sure how to categorize these guys yet, but my man Beno compared them to Daft Punk, which works for me); Lupe Fiasco (the best hip hop album I have heard in a *long* while; Islands (indie rock-ish); and Man Man. I confess that while on vacation I also listened to a lot of Blink-182 and I gotta say: they definitely aren't half bad, though I am much more partial to their new band Angels & Airwaves.

-- This new MacBook Air. So far I am very impressed; much more so than I anticipated. It's really changed the way I interact with my laptop; I used to avoid schlepping my old one (despite it's relatively small profile(s)) but carrying the Air around, whether to LA, on various business meetings, or even on vacation, is virtually effortless. My original concern was that it only had one USB hub, but thus far, it really isn't an issue at all. Bottom line: I am loving it.

Lastly, congrats to my buddy Jeff for killing it at Ironman Arizona today in tough conditions. He trained super hard for this one and really earned his great performance. Well done, Jeff!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

This is the End......

We are back and had a very nice vacation; thanks again for a terrific time Nana and Papa. Per my one posting earlier this week, these trips are all about hangin’ and chillin’ so really not too much to report.

Actually, I do have one good story. We are sitting by the pool and The Girl quickly befriends two little Mexican boys; one was her age (five) the other was three. Now they didn’t speak a work of English and her Spanish vocabulary is limited to “si” but within moments they were fast friends and having a really good tme swimming together in the kiddie pool. She’s quickly becoming a very good swimmer so we don’t have to watch her every second so we went back to whatever we were doing. A few minutes later or so we pick up our heads and she’s standing their MAKING OUT WITH THE OLDER MEXICAN BOY. We were absolutely astonished/aghast. She saw us, they stopped and two minutes they are at it again. I was literally frozen in my tracks; I wasn’t sure the punishment in Mexico for homicide and as I am contemplating this she quickly alks over to us with a very coy look on her face. She looks at me, looks at the wife and then blithely states, “That boy kissed me.”

I guess this is the beginning of the end, isn’t it?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Greetings from Puerto Vallarta

Greetings from sunny Puerto Vallarata. Sorry or the lack of postings the past few days, but frankly, there's not a whole lot to report -- which is a good thing in this instance.

Our days generally consist of the following:

play catch
play catch
go running
drink cerveza

And again, this is just my speed after a few hectic weeks of work. The Boy wants to play or talk baseball 24/7 and The Girl is an absolute fish.

Will post some pictures upon our return. In the interim, please email (I do get email, which is good) if there's anything I should know about in the real world.

Gracias and hasta luego.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Off to Mexico

It's Spring Break for the kids and we are getting set to head out to our annual sabbatical to sunny Puerto Vallarata. The agenda will include: hanging out, running, ocean swims, tennis, hanging out, eating tons, hanging out and drinking margaritas. I must say, to borrow a phrase from my dear friend Mr. Spicoli: I'm stoked.

I bought the new Richard Price book, which has gotten critical acclaim and have a ton of new music from a colleague that I will review when I get back (two new albums that are really impressing are Lupe Fiasco, for all you hip hop aficionado's, and the Black Keys, for all you fans of 70's=style rock).

So in other words, I am all set. I'll be sure to send a few posts from the road and I'll pick back up with my "Remembering" series when I return; it would not be complete without a dedicated post to Grandpa Willie.

I received from really great feedback in regards to my post about Brian, below, which makes me happy.

I'm glad he's being remembered and discussed.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Remembering H. Brian Binder

Harry Brian Binder was the bravest person I have ever met.

He's probably looking down at my from heaven pissed as can be that I just gave away his real first name (everyone else knew him as Brian). But part of our relationship was me giving him constant grief, so deal with it Harry, if you're watching over me -- and I sincerely hope that you are.

I met Brian my freshman year in college, his sophomore year. We rushed the same fraternity and became pledge brothers. Brian was "different" from the rest of us and being young and naive, I initially wasn't sure what to make of him. At first I put up with him but as I got to know him he became a friend, and then a better friend and then practically a brother.

But as I said Brian was always different and he was, to us, a bit of a loner, constantly going off and doing his own thing. It didn't bother us too much though as he was their when it mattered most. I think in the back of our minds we all knew what was up with Brian, but to our credit, given the era (mid 80's) we really didn't dwell on it too much.

I'll never, ever forget the day Brian asked if he could speak to me privately. It was about two months or so before he was set to graduate. We sat down and he told me his "big news" -- he was, in fact, gay. My response, "THAT'S your big news? Dude, tell me something I don't already know."

That immediately broke the ice and that was that, no awkardness or anything of the sort, though in retrospect, it was a pretty defining moment: he was the first gay person I personally knew (or at least the first gay person that was officially out). We gave hi crap about liking boys; he gave it right back about us liking girls. It was good solid fun.

Keep in mind, too, that this was a different era; coming out then was a fairly big deal. Now it's almost in vogue.

So, flash forward, and Brian graduates and I return for my senior year. Brian and I stay in touch and he informs me that he's moving to Los Angeles for the weather (he originally hailed from Detroit area). At the same time, I notice that Brian is committed to a healthy lifestyle to an almost excessive degree: he's exercising, eating a nearly macrobiotic diet, etc. I should have known something was amiss.

I graduate from college and move to New York and Brian, my main man and roommate Todd and I start hanging out a lot: Brian is dating a guy in NYC and is spending a lot of time in the City. It's all good.

And then Brian drops the bombshell.

He breaks it to us that he's not only HIV positive, but has full blown AIDS.

It's 1991 (or so) and this is a death sentence.

Todd and I are staggered and Brian reveals to us the full story: he's didn't tell us the full truth when he came out to us in college, because he was fearful of being completely ostracized. In fact, he was diagnosed as being HIV positive early in his junior year of college. According to him, he was one of the first students ever diagnosed with HIV in the history of the University of Michigan.

Now stop and think about this for a moment. While we are being jerky college kids, worrying about jerky things, this poor kid is alone at 19 with a death sentence hanging over his head like damocles sword. At the same time, he's trying to maintain a semblance of a normal existence, and has no one to share this with.

This is a burden that to me, is nearly incomprensible. Even today, I feel tremendous sadness and even a degree of remorse for what Brian had to go through, alone.

I wish this story had a hollywood ending, but sadly it doesn't. My good friend Brian suffered tremendously and died before he got to see 24.

I will say, however, that he lived a rich life.

I will also say that though Brian would often get mocked for being a bit effete, at the end of the day he was the toughest son of a bitch I know. When I was going through my cancer nonsense, he was my inspiration. He continues today, to be an inspiration and I look at our friendship and relationship as a true blessing in my life.

I think of you all the time Harry, and miss you a lot.

Rest in peace, amigo.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

This Just In

Clean scan! And blood work is all good too.

What's more, during my last scan there was a tiny 6mm nodule that they were keeping a keen eye on.

Today that nodule appears to be gone, baby, gone.

All good.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Remembering Sifu Dan

I am going to take a different tact for this week. I've been giving thought lately to people who are deceased or who have had an impact on my life, or the life of my family. I thought it would be nice (and hopefully interesting) to memorialize them if you will, on these pages.

The first person, and note they are in no particular order (though I intend to "save" the person who had the most impact on my life for last) is my former kung fu instructor, Sifu (Sifu by the way, means "teacher" or "instructor"). Dan. Interestingly, I only knew Sifu Dan for about three months or so. I sincerely wish I knew him longer.

Sifu Dan was a giant of a man, both literally and figureatively. He was 6'11, skinny in a lean, sinewy way, had the longest limbs you've ever seen and was bald as a stone. In a nutshell, he was intimidating as hell looking. The first time I saw him I wondered to myself whether he had Marfan's Syndrome, which proved to be prescient.

The one thing Sifu Dan commanded unlike any human being I have ever met, was total and complete respect. Both my kids took Kung Fu and there were several times when I walked into class and kids were just running amock; three, four and five year olds with the attention spans of a flea (and I include my kids here as well). But when Sifu Dan walked into the room and yelled "line up" -- man, you've never seen kids haul ass so fast in your life. They "lined up" and they knew better to mess around. They stood there shoulder to shoulder awaiting his next command, not moving a muscle. It was a sight to behold. It goes without saying that he had the same impact on adults as well.

His classes were often brutal; it's been more than three years and I still have visions of him yelling "kick. kick. kick" endlessly as we suffered like it was Ironman. He was a tough teacher but outside of class, he was a great big teddy bear. The kids absolutely adored these guys and for the adults, it went beyond that.

I will never forget the day that they told us, after a two month absence that they tried to cover up to protect the kids, that Sifu Dan had passed away due to a heart condition brought upon by Marfan's. My initial reaction was one of shock and my next reaction was "how in the hell am I going to explain this to The Boy."

So we did what parents do and said that Sifu Dan went to heaven. The kids, as to be expected, didn't fully grasp the concept, but you could sense the sadness in their eyes.

The parents and adult students had an even harder time coping. For many, I suspect Sifu Dan filled a void and became a father figure of sorts. For others he was a notable (and noble) athlete who had ascended to the highest levels of his sport.

For me personally, he was a great, great guy who as mentioned, commanded total and complete respect. I am immensely thankul of the positive impact he had on my son. I am amazed to this day at his selflessness. Even today, we talk about Sifu Dan. The Little Boy's memory of him may have dimmed a bit, but I suspect he'll never forget him.

Nor will I.

Rest in peace, Sifu Dan.