The NCAA college basketball tournament has caused me to think about the state of our society. We see the people who ask others to be in a "Bracket Pool", or who spend six hours a day in front of a television cheering for teams from universities they could never hope to attend. The President of this country was on ESPN picking a bracket, while my 401k money burned like the map in the opening credits of "Bonanza".
Are we crazy about basketball? Judging from the emptiness off the public parks, the answer would have to be, "No". We aren't even crazy about watching basketball, we are just crazy about watching. We are a nation of voyeurs, and not in the good sense; as I will condone any form of voyeurism that is salacious.
I'm talking about the kind of watching that consumes most peoples' daily lives. We are a spectator nation. Consider the people that invest money in NCAA bracket pools and wear officially licensed jerseys and hats (often from colleges and universities to which they have no connection, not that most of these folks would have a connection to any college or university.)
People spend a great deal of time and money being spectators. They root for basketball teams and have no concept of how to shoot a lay-up. They call for coaching changes and don't understand a pick and roll or dime package. They berate tewenty year old kids for athletic failure, yet have never strapped on the pads or laced up a sneaker. They blame streaks, curses, ghosts, and fate for the losses of their favorite team while never appreciating the hard work and dedication of the players on the field. They own basketball jerseys, but they don't own a basketball. At least, they don't one that isn't autographed and sitting on the entertainment center.
I love sports and appreciate them for what they are, games...competitions. The sports I really love are the sports I have played. The more I played it then, more I like to watch it now (insert entendre here!) It even pleases me to try to keep active at some of my more favorite sports. My fanatacism is much more constrained. My favorite pro football team is the one I liked when I was a child. They aren't from the area and I didn't pick them for the color of their jerseys. I just took a fancy to them one day back in the 70's. I got lucky, they won a few Super Bowls. I think I watched them on TV once this year. Even though i did not go to school there, I also root for the local state university when they play football or basketball. When I say root I mean to say that I generally support the idea of their success and would be entertained to hear that they had prevailed. I would give little thought to being upset if they lost a game.
Opposite of this, I know people who have their whole lives affected by the win/loss records of sports teams. I think there should be a code of conduct based on you level of connection to a sports team. Personally, I can understand rooting for a pro team. You just have to like them, no strings attached; they are pros and they are there to entertain you. College teams are a bit trickier. I think you can "sorta" like the team representing your state, but this becomes tricky if not kept in check. You may wear the colors at this level of support. Were you actually to have attended a class at said university, you may actually attend more than one game every year. If you received a degree , then you may purchase season tickets. An athletic alumnus may donate huge sums of money to the schol for the purpose of supporting athletics. Short fat fans would not be allowed to wear replica basketball jerseys. Raccoon coats and pennants would be suitable for football games. Only former athletes would be allowed to call in to radio sportstalk shows and call for the removal of a coach. All this in my perfect world.
...My alma mater played yesterday in the NCAA tournament, I watched the first half. I have six years and thousands of dollars invested in this institution and I feel I have the right to wish them well. They kept it close against a much higher ranked team. The second half was great, or so they said, as I didn't see it all. I went running and missed a good deal of it. In the end I was happy that the players from my school conducted themselves so well against a better team. The school earned a lot of money from the TV appearance. I doubt any of it will find its way to the History department.
A friend sent me this today:
"The Grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for ."
-Allan K. Chalmers
Seems my Facebook status updates have betrayed a sense of angst , so she sent along a bit of literary motivation. It was very unexpected, surprising, and appreciated. Just not sure where to start.
Also found this (don't ask) and enjoyed fond memories of being influenced by one of the icons of pop culture virtue, Detective Steve McGarrett. (He was later honored and celebrated in the movie The Tao of Steve)
Whoa! Fish eye lens! Belly dancers! Jumbo jets! The seventies! McGarrett, Dan-O, Kono, and Chin Ho running around in wool suits and never breaking a sweat!
If only we could all be that cool all the time.
Since I have been back in Tennessee I have tried to channel my energy toward positive things. I have quit smoking ( two months) and drinking even though Sevierville now has an actual pub and liquor by the drink.
A big effort has been put forth reconnecting with Sevierville friends, solidifying my Knoxville social structure, and being a better friend to those that really deserve it.
I do have one other personal improvement project that I have been pursuing. When I returned from Chicago around Christmastime I weighed in at about 248 pounds buck assed nekkid. This is bad by any standard, unless you happen to be seven feet tall, but is particularly bad for me at six feet. When I moved to Illinois in july I was about 215 and at DragonCon in September I was 222 ( I remember because my hotel room had a scale.)
I call this excess weight my "Northern Fat", as it is the end result of several months worth of midwestern menu choices. There is nothing healthy to eat up there. It is either on a pizza, pizza flavored, covered with cheese, or doused in ranch dressing. There is also the matter of beer and the midwestern cultural demand to drink it around the clock. I have been trying to eat a bit better to combat this, but at forty the body doesn't want to lose it like it used to do. Exercise is the key and I have really been at it. I started running around the first of the year, usually doing about fifteen minutes at a good pace then walking for about fifteen more. This did not make a dent in "Northern Fat". In fact, "Northern Fat" scoffed at my efforts. I was being mocked by six months worth of pizzas. It was time to change my plan. I had tried for a few weeks and lost about two pounds. This is the same amount of weight as a pair of socks and a T-shirt. Seriously, you could get a haircut or take a piss and lose two pounds. Two pounds is not even enough weight to actually report as lost or gained. It is less than one percent of my body weight. Two pounds is always sitting there lurking behind the bookshelf...waiting.
Instead of doing the same old jogging routine that I had always done, I switched to a harsher plan. I am now running for at least thrity minutes every day, and I do not count the warming up or cooling down walking part. I plan to up this to forty minutes by next week. I rest completely at least once a week, vary the intensity and duration of the training, and I do not run on days when I do something similar, such as hiking. My biggest and most demanding day is the first one back after my rest day.
I don't have a GPS to record this, but I am estimating that I have been running about twenty five miles a week. Thirty minutes of this keeps my heart rate at above 130 bpm (actually about 150 bpm while exerting myself) for the duration, and usually for about five minutes or so afterward. Yes, it kinda sucks, but I actually like having a routine and some goals these days. I have now dropped ten pounds ( ten pounds is recordable!) and I feel like I'm on the way back to where I was.
The rest of my routine is push-ups and sit-ups three times a week using the plan found on www.hundredpushups.com
. I also go to yoga once a week, which I like very much.
Giving up the beer is my goal, as it really think that those calories are hurting me, and I would probably benefit from giving it up in other ways! Don't worry, I don't think I'll be back in church anytime soon.
"Northern Fat", you're going down!
I have finally filled my prescription for Chantix, the wonder drug that helps you stop smoking. I have had several prescriptions for this, but have never filled them because I didn't wanna quit. My 40th birthday and impending mortality have led me to finally make a good effort at stopping. The five degree weather up here has probably helped a bit too, as you can not smoke inside in Obamanation.
One of the possible side effects is that one may have "vivid dreams". I have recently found this to be true. Last night I had my first episode in dreamland. Nothing sexual (yet!...fingers crossed), but it was a pretty zany dream.
The best/worst part of this was that when I woke up, I remembered the dream as vividly as if I had just watched a show on television. It wasn't a bad experience. It was a weird experience. I'll tell ya tomorrow what tonight has in store for me. Here is hoping the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders show up....or at least that cute gal at Walgreens.
Melody and Ed come up to see me and we went on a tour of the Jelly Belly Factory, tasted free candy until we wnated no more, ate bratwurst, shopped for cheeses amongst hundreds of choices, and saw North America's most complete fossil specimen of a wooly mammoth. They were traveling back south when the snowstorm hit, and I think they have been sitting in Chicago traffic for six hours.
I felt kinda bad that I lured and kept them up here all day with bad weather coming. I did feel a bit better when I realized they had all those jelly beans and cheeses to eat in case of a survival situation. It was very nice to see them.
I was at Panda Express today, as I am often enough to be a regular. This is supposed to be a fast food place. Their angle is that it is Chinese and the food is freshly prepared. Not made to order, but the food is out there in steam tables and you can see the fresh veggies in the glass front cooler. Actual orientals work the front line and the Mexicans work the grills and woks.
Okay, back to fast food. I have never been served fast at this place. Usually it is a tolerable amount of delay brought on by my inability to understand what the ladies at the counter are asking me. Today I walked in and there was only one other person ahead of me. I thought I would get my orange beef and be on my way. However, the lady in front of me started making special demands and requests. Far more demands and requests than would ever be prudent when dealing with a communications barrier. The lady wanted several items, wanted then all boxed separately, and wanted them "Fresh". Fresh, as in she didn't want what was on the steam table ( didn't look unfresh), she wanted HER food cooked to order. I could see this with the string bean beef, as it was almost all gone, but the Thai Chicken looked new enough. Anyway, I had to stand in line behind her for a few minutes, until she went off to get a drink and passed through to the checkout.
The whole idea of this place is that it is fresh. Also, how fresh can you hope for something to be if you are getting a take out order? There is no residential place within 15 minutes Of Panda Express. Why must one hold up the line by demanding the little chineses take out boxes instead of the styrofoam dinner tray (and it holds more!)
She had that permanent scowl line on her face that you get when you spend your days badgering minimum wage service workers.
People don't do to suit me at all...
You are my friends. You know me better than anyone. Knowing me, and all of my talents and faults, what one book -that you love- would you want me to read? What would make us understand one another better? ( BTW, I have read the Bible....sorry if it didn't help...)
1. Expense accounts are good, and can be lived on indefinitely.
2. Things change quickly.
3. Social welfare policies have far reaching effects.
4. Pistol training is a billable activity.
5. So is protective footwear and lunch.
6. The Ritz-Carlton is the hotel equivalent of "two chicks at one time."
7. I don't have to shave every day.
8. I can save enough money to hang out for six months if things tank.
9. I miss somebody.
10. ...it's time to get back to the basics...