I have a complicated relationship with New Years resolutions. Like many people, I am filled with hope and a sense of rejuvenation as January 1 approaches, making a list of all the changes I'd like to make for a better me. I'm at something of a turning point in my life, making this year's annual resolutions something of a come-to-Jesus undertaking.
The detective handling the case was a solemn young man who spoke perfect English. His name was Mohammed. He called me into his office and settled behind his desk. "What is your religion?" he asked immediately. "Christian." He wrote it down. "What is your tribe?" What could possibly be the right answer? "The Californians," I answered.
By the time the sun rose, we were driving atop a mile-high mesa covered with thickets of pine and rangy eucalyptus trees. The road descended from there, taking us down into the border town of Tunduma. There was a look of edgy intensity in the town's residents, a look that reminded me of Tijuana's frenzy.
We rented a Toyota four-wheel drive in Dar es Salaam from a sharp dressed man who called himself Kennedy, then drove west into the heart of Africa. It was my third day in Tanzania. I had run each morning in Dar es Salaam, through crowded streets that smelled of wood smoke and raw sewage, past tall Masai warriors dressed all in red and very far from their homes in Kenya . . .
I took the team to Mammoth last month. We've gone every year since 2006 for a week of high altitude training. It's medieval the way I push the kids, running twice a day for a week on mountain trails that are never flat, and in fact always seem to go uphill. For the seniors it's a getaway they look forward to all year, second only to our Hawaii trip in terms of getting away from parental supervision and hanging out with friends. But it's not so easy for the freshmen.
. . . I had never given goats much thought, but I found myself wondering if maybe raising a few competitive goats would be a nice pastime. They looked cute enough, and it seemed like there wouldn't be much to it. But as with all new endeavors, you don't know what you don't know. What seemed simple on the surface would become an obsession. I like to win. I'm not embarrassed to say it. And all-consuming passion is very often what it takes to win.
Mother Saddleback is on fire. Or at least she was. The mountain outside my back window, whose shapes and contours I study every day, was hit hard by something called the Holy Fire. The name comes from Holy Jim Canyon, a settlement of WPA wooden bungalows eight miles into the wilderness from my house. My cop friends carry a pistol every time they mountain bike up that way, saying it is likely home to meth labs