Archive for the ‘sports’ Category

Getting back to rugby has been fun, a great way to socialize, and it restores a much-needed sense of normalcy to my life after these past two years of upheaval. However me olde body does not recover like it used to. Even a mere practice has me physically wrecked for days. After this season (yeah I keep saying that every year) I will certainly question my continued participation in the sport. Still, we managed to smile for a moment a few weeks ago during play:

This summer’s weather has been remarkably cool. With the exception of a week or two here and there, it’s been really pleasant. But cooler temps are on the way, as evidenced by that fall smell that we encountered on our hike in the Monongahela National Forest of West Virginia this past weekend. We didn’t see any bears, but there were plenty of otters on the trail:

It rained Saturday morning but that’s about it. They say it’s gonna be a cold winter this year.

Hey there – it’s been a while. I’ve been hangin’ out with my beardy bros from the Washington Nationals baseball team.
bearditude
That’s Jayson Werth on the left and Bryce Harper on the right.

In June I went on a hike with a bud to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. It was where lots of ironwork machinery was made during the Civil War. Today lots of people like to go tubing in the summer:
Harper's Ferry
My latest contract ended, the work on a website migration complete. I had no jobs set up so I said “fuck it” and went to Provincetown for 9 days. Normally I’m ready to go home after about 5 days, but the plane ticket price was cheapest for that range of days and my housing was free, so I was there for quite a while. I hit the tail end of the “circuit week” theme days, and my roomates tended to not eat much during that time. But then we segued into “Bear Week” and the fridge was suddenly packed with food.

There were lots of beards. I was partial to the one on the left, for he made good quiche and wore only briefs for much of the time around the house:
Bear Week attendees
I did a lot of sunning on the beach, a nice bike ride, and lots of cocktails at the Boatslip. Bear Week was kind of crazy, and in the future should I go again I will choose a less popular week, despite the amount of fur.

My next trip at the end of July will be to head back to Wisconsin for my 25th class reunion. My brother will have a new garage built and it will be interesting to see what’s been done.

I have mixed feelings about Movember. On the one hand it’s great that people are raising awareness and funds to fight prostate cancer. On the other hand, the “rules” for the event encourage men to start growing a ’stache from scratch. Unless you are Turkish or a Wookiee, a month’s growth of ’stache will only result in something cheesy-looking. And ultimately many shave their caterpillars off by the end of the month, which makes me sad. You get much better results shaving down from a fully-grown beard – AND KEEPING THE ‘STACHE FOREVER. Now that’s dedication to a cause.

So I was tickled to see U.S. rugger Seamus Kelly (left) sporting a ’stache this weekend at the U.S. Eagles vs. New Zealand Māori All Blacks match in Philadelphia. It was a good game – I was expecting the Americans to get crushed but the final score was very close. It was good to go see some live rugby with the Renegades.

STILL LOOKING FOR WORK. Granted it’s only been a month since I got here, and the job application and networking machine is just getting started. But it would be nice to get back to work. Government jobs are not plentiful due to the sequester and, well, simply no budget set, so agencies aren’t willing or even able to open new positions. And from what I’ve been hearing from my former coworkers, the cuts have taken a toll on productivity and morale. They’ve been cutting back for years, despite what you’ve heard in the news, and could use some new blood. Hello, I’m here!

So I’ve been focusing more on contracting firms and nonprofits, who are hiring. I actually had a soft offer for a job that was inaccessible by public transit, so I had to turn it down. There have been opportunities here and there but I’m discovering I’m at an ambiguous point in my career. I’m too experienced for more junior-level communications positions, but don’t feel I have the management experience for senior level jobs in my field either. Shoot low and I have to settle for a low salary. Shoot too high and risk applying for a job I’m underqualified for.

In other news, in the month I’ve been here I’ve set up the house, cleaned up the jungle that was the back deck, got wireless Internets set up and finally got a roommate. It took a while to find one, which is surprising. The last time I looked for the same address I had five people come look at the place in a week, where one offered up two month’s rent up front. This time it was a mere trickle, and many were only marginally interested. The guy I ended up with is a good fit – he’s a long-time resident of the neighborhood who is merely moving from across the street. He’s mellow, likes birding and is a global traveller. He does not have a mustache, which is disappointing.

NBA player Jason Collins came out a few weeks ago with much applause and a few dissenters as expected. But it’s probably the start of a small flood of athletes in the “big three” American sports to come out as openly gay. Of course we are proud of Martina Navratilova for coming out when she did, but the sports media has been drooling for an active player in the NBA, NFL and MLB to do the same.

Blogs and media sites were abuzz with the news for a few days, but a line from this article about Collins in the SFGate caught my eye:

“Soon, the NFL, NHL and MLB and (yawn) pro golf and even, maybe, a gay NASCAR driver, a guy who surely already exists and who is right now completely terrified of getting shot if he even dares to look in the direction of Jason Collins. Poor kid.”

When I read that I was like “Hey, I know an out NASCAR driver and he isn’t terrified.” In fact he’s been out for a while and is building an impressive record at a track near my hometown and elsewhere.

Justin Mullikin
Driver Justin Mullikin. ©2012 Mary Schill/Forte Design

I met Justin Mullikin of JM Racing in September when I was visiting my family in Wisconsin. He went to the same high school I did, albeit a lot later. I was amazed to learn that he was out in high school, something I never would have considered in the late 80s. But times have changed even in the flyover states and they’re coming out a lot earlier.

Justin was recently interviewed at Queers4Gears, a site for queer NASCAR and motorsport fans. You can find them on Facebook and Twitter at @queers4gears. I asked Justin a few more questions because I wanted you and the SFGate to know that yep, there is an out NASCAR driver. And if you make it to the end of the interview you will read Justin’s correct prediction on who won RuPaul’s Drag Race this year.

Mullikin’s interest in cars started at an early age, but he didn’t get serious about it until about 2005 on a whim. Eight seasons and a handful of cars later the 27 year-old Cheesehead is still on track:

- I see your racing season is underway. How long does the season last?

Our season began on April 20th and will continue through the first weekend in October with a 4 week break from the first weekend in September until October’s final event.

- While you’re in the Sportsmen division (sort of like NASCAR “minor leagues” if I understand correctly) do your results count towards NASCAR national title standings?

We are a points based series, meaning that every night we earn a certain amount of points. The amount of points that we earn are dependent on where we finish in the events. Points accumulated go to a standing that determines the champion for our local track at the end of our season. Along with earning points at our local track we also earn points on a national level. We are ranked nationally and compete for a national level championship in what is called the “NASCAR Whelen All American Series division II asphalt program.”

- You’re not just the driver of your vehicle – you’ve also rebuilt it yourself it for racing. Are there other people are on your racing team helping you do this?

I do have help at the track from a number of people, but for the most part I build my car, motor, paint and do everything related to the assembly of the car myself. My best Friend Bill also races and we have formed a team so to speak at the track so we share equipment and information with each other and help each other at the track and during the off season constructing the cars.

- What sort of background in automotive engineering do you have that helps you get a car ready to race?

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I actually have no formal training or schooling in automotive engineering. I was always interested in cars growing up and by the time I got my license and first car I just started teaching myself and learning as much as I could by doing things on my own. Throughout the years or vowing to only fixing my own car and learning as much as I could about them I have learned pretty much everything there is to know about the mechanics and assembly of a car.

- So you’re good with machines and can drive. Are you still an “athlete”?

This is a question that regularly comes up when talking about a person who races cars for a living or for a hobby. There is far more to driving in a competitive manner than just going fast and turning in circles. The thing that people don’t understand about racing cars is they do not drive like your normal everyday street cars. Driving a car at very high speeds with manual brakes, manual steering and a suspension that is designed for maximum turning ability takes a toll on your body. Along with the physical strength required to drive the cars comes the mental strength. It takes a high level of mental focus and nerves to be able to drive a car that is in a near constant slide at extremely high speeds. Not only do you focus on yourself when in the car but what your fellow competitors are doing. It is in no way like driving down the highway to the mall. We are driving around a track at 100+ mph inches from other cars (sometimes touching) and controlling a car that is sliding, moving around and just on the ragged edge of crashing at all times.

- You mentioned in the Queers4Gears.com interview that for the most part you haven’t had any issues with other drivers for being gay. How did you handle it when they did?

Only one direct threat of action has made its way to me that I am aware of. The particular instance was never said directly to me, rather to a friend of mine who also raced. Fortunately for him he realized that at the end of the day that a.) I was a better driver and b.) I was not afraid to retaliate on track if he decided to take it there. Retaliating on track is rarely something that you as a driver want to do because of the potential for danger to yourself and everyone else.

- When did you come out?

I came out when I was 16 as a result of a friend of mine sharing our personal conversations with other people at school. I made the decision that I was going to take ownership of the situation and make of it what I chose to.

- What do you think about professional athletes coming out? Should we expect someone in other NASCAR series to come out soon?

Anytime that a person who is gay can be portrayed in a positive and uplifting manner is definitely a good thing. From a role model point of view I can see no better thing than the young people of this country viewing successful athletes they can relate to. It’s not a question of if it happens, more of when. I think that it will certainly happen but only time will tell.

- Who do you think is going to win RuPaul’s Drag Race this year?

Its Monsoon season…clearly! [Jinkx Monsoon] is by far the most talented competitor to have ever been on the show.

- Another thing you mentioned in the previous interview was “I typically don’t care if someone who has no meaning to me has anything to say,” regarding your sexual orientation on the track. That sounds like a good approach to dealing with homophobic comments. “Water off a duck’s back” as Jinkx Monsoon would say. What would you say to other athletes considering being out in their sport on dealing with homophobia?

At the end of the day it’s your life, and you should live it exactly how you see fit without letting anyone else get in your way. Being gay is nothing that will stop you from achieving your dreams or having a positive impact on someone else. Be the best you can be!

Here’s a recent video about my former rugby team in DC:

I miss the Cardozo practice field!

While unpacking is still taking up some time, I’ve made an effort to get out on the trails around Portland when I can before the weather turns foul. Here is a Gorge-ous view of the Columbia River from Angel’s Rest trail, on the Columbia Gorge:
Columbia Gorge
There are a lot of hikes that are easy to get to from the city. In September I got out to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington on the Siouxon Trail. This forest contains the Mount St. Helens area as well, although I couldn’t see the volcano from this part of the forest:
waterfall
I don’t think I’ll be ready to play rugby this season, but both Portland teams – the Portland Pigs and the Oregon Sports Union (ORSU) Rugby Club have teams equivalent in skill level to my former teams, and both also have “Old Boys” 35 and over teams. The also both practice somewhat near where I’ll be living. I managed to catch both teams play each other a few weeks ago:
Pigs vs ORSU
Looks like there will be plenty for me to do in the area.

Click to embiggen...

Click to embiggen...

Because U.S. viewers have no attention span and no knowledge of Kate Bush, this Kate Bush-inspired segment was cut from NBC’s broadcast of the closing ceremonies of the Olympics. Yeah it was some wierd-ass interpretive shit but I liked it. If it wasn’t for the magic of the Internets I wouldn’t have known it was part of the ceremony. Follow the link above to view it, I can’t find or embed the video of the segment because the IOC nazis will hunt me down and find me. And for the record: NBC Olympic coverage sucked donkey dick.

The Spice Girls reunited to perform and they were big fun. I was expecting more from Take That, but where the hell was Robbie Williams? And where was Duran Duran and Erasure? Why? These questions plague my thoughts on a daily basis.

So who was Jimbo’s 2012 Olympics Gold Medal Woofer? It was a really tough call this year. I mean Phelps did a great job breaking the all time medal record and all that, but he is not technically “woofy” – only occasionally “adorkable” and that is not enough to qualify in my heat. And what about Chilean gymnast Tomás Enrique González Sepúlveda and his irresistible ’stache/wink/wave combo?

Who can top that? Wait – don’t answer that…

Or howabout British long jump gold medalist and SuperGinge Greg Rutherford?

Again, it was a tough choice but the 2012 gold medal for woofiness must go to American swimmer Nick Thoman for overall beardiness, willingness to experiment with the ’stache, and a deep voice that will hold my interest for decades to come:
woofwoof
woofwoof

This is Chilean gymnast Tomás Enrique González Sepúlveda:

He has a gold medal ’stache.

Here’s more ‘stache sweetness here: 27 Things To Love About Tomás González.

We are going into the home stretch on the move to the West Coast. I have put in my official notice at work and am going about doing administrative things like cancelling my gym membership and stuff like that.

When I bike around town I think I am seeing things with different eyes – but just a little different. I look at things like the monuments and wonder if it’s the last time I’ll see them again. I reflect on that thought and ask myself “Am I OK with that?” and the answer is always “Yeah I’m cool with that.”

Sadly, American otter Nick Thoman was clean-shaven when he won the Silver in the 100-meter backstroke yesterday, but he has competed as an otter from time to time (click to embiggen):

And then listen to his voice:

More coverage on Nick over at Kenneth in the (212).

Thanks to boobob for this one (above).

Adorbs, even without the beard:

‘Ummerca!

BREAKING: he has also worn the ’stache, multiplying his hotness tenfold.

So the hot Aussie otter I’d been rooting for didn’t fare so well, probably because he shaved his beard and wonderful auburn chest fur. The facial hair gods punished him and cast him down for his shavecrimes.

Not quite as ottery but inspirational: Bulgarian rings champ Jordan Jovtchev is 39 and made it to the finals:

Go grampaw! Jokes aside, he is an inspiration.

So more moving thoughts: I will miss the Atlantic beaches of Rehoboth, Fire Island and Provincetown. I had lots of good memories there and grew to like the Atlantic. I know the coasts are rockier on the Pacific side, so where do the gays gather in the summer? I haven’t heard of a west coast equivalent of Provincetown, for example. Palm Springs?