The high price of koolaid these days

So I think I have the whole Crossfit craze figured out… I think that somebody in the fitness game asked themselves…

‘How can I open up a gym with very little overhead…almost no equipment…basically just rented garage space…and get people to pay me big money every month to be a member? 

Who would actually pay for something like that? 

What if I threw in a few sound fitness principles…added a dash of the average person’s craving to ‘belong’…Sprinkled in some camaraderie and peer pressure…Brought it to a boil…What would I have?’  

Crossfit.

Now before people’s heads start spinning around, Exorcist-style, let me be clear… Crossfit is hard.  Crossfit is demanding.  I consider myself to be in pretty good shape and there are a lot of things that I don’t have the endurance or strength:body weight ratio to pull off.  I am not knocking the physical benefits of successfully doing Crossfit.  Many Crossfit athletes are in amazing condition.   I do have a problem, though, that people who have very little experience doing complex Olympic-style lifts are being asked to do them as part of their Workout Of the Day (WOD).  Many of these people have not been taught the proper technique to do Snatches, Cleans, Deadlifts etc. and doing them incorrectly can cause injury.  I competed in Track and Field for 3 years in college where we had to do lifts like this as part of our daily workout.  As when we were taught to throw Shot, Discus, Javelin, or Hammer, we were taught very specific movements to avoid injury and maximize power.  I don’t see this much care taken in many cases with Crossfit gyms.

I will say it right now, I pay too much for my current gym.  I would like to pay half as much.  The problem is, I live about 500 yards from my gym.  It has a full length basketball court.  Every machine you could want.  Tons of free weights.  Classes for those who want them.  Cardio equipment.  A good kid’s facility and an amazing pool that my daughter likes.  It has showers, towels, lockers, saunas, whirlpools, and steam rooms.  That is why I continue to pay $100 a month.  I have no excuse not to go.  I am self motivated.  I train hard.  It motivates me to go whenever I drive down my street.  I still think it is too much money, but I might just spend the difference in gas if I chose another gym.

This is what gets me about Crossfit.  If I joined a Crossfit gym I would get very little for my money.  I would get a garage-like atmosphere.  Pull up bars.  Olympic barbells.  Medicine Balls.  I would get truck tires to flip over.  No showers.  No towels.  No steam room…. You get my point.  So what am I paying for?  Someone to create a very hard set of exercises, in no way personalized for me, that is tacked up on the wall in the gym?  Someone to provide encouragement?  No…what I get is a bunch of other people who pay a high price for a sense of belonging.  For a sense of ‘we are all in this together’.  For a sense of not letting each other give up.  Meanwhile, the guy who stocks the dispenser full of Crossfit Kool-Aid smiles and counts his money.

Many people argue that they like Crossfit because as a group, they will actually force each other to do the workouts.  This concept has been around for quite awhile.  It is called Workout Partners.   I think many people gravitate to Crossfit because of ‘The Clique’.  If they were really interested in their own fitness they would not need a clique of like minded kool-aid drinkers to take a genuine interest in their own health and fitness and get a workout in once in awhile.  What happens to a lot of people is that pretty soon all they can seem to talk about is their WOD or their Crossfit friends.  They post incessantly about Crossfit on Facebook and Twitter.  They exhibit very cultish behavior.

I have wondered lately what would happen if you created a WOD like this and posted it…

SUPER HARD WOD!

400 yard Run

10 power cleans

20 pull ups

25 burpees

50 kettle bell swings

1 very high cliff jump

Repeat 4X (oops!)

 

I picture a line of lemmings jumping off a cliff at the end…. But at least they would be together…

If you want me I will be at the gym with my headphones on…getting my stuff done, shooting some hoops, taking a steam, using some free towels…. Oh… and sparing everybody on Facebook what exercises I actually did at the gym, though I am sure it is fantastically interesting 😉

Just my $.02

 

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Perspective

So it strikes me that trying to come up with compelling content for a blog can be interesting and at times, difficult… Usually for me it is just based on things that I find profound or hilarious or absurd or infuriating or a theme that seems to reoccur several times in a short period of time.  This entry covers a couple of these, but mostly the latter. 🙂

George Takei (Sulu from the original Star Trek) has a Facebook fan page where he posts content from contributors that are usually  hilarious or at the very least, thought provoking.  Today was one of those days… He posted the following picture from a fan (Joel Robison):  Shadow Picture

I shared the photo on my Facebook page because the concept is one worth noting…and for that matter, sharing.  Not that we all should live in a fantasy world…but that life gets more interesting based on our own perspective.  It is a popular theme but it is one that too often gets ignored or drowned out by our own perception, our boredom, or our tendency as a society to dwell on the negative message.   That is why I rarely watch the news anymore.  It is usually filled with bad/sensational story after story with maybe one ‘feel-good’ piece mixed in just because…

The fact is…We live in a society of people where many have decided that they are entitled to something…that it is much easier to play the victim and not accept responsibility for our own actions much less the consequences that follow. We wait for life to happen to us rather than living it how we want to…we complain that we are stuck….we get bored…we take certain things for granted.

If we think back far enough, we can remember that as children we created our own fun.  It wasn’t really very difficult.  We were able to manage it just fine.  I may be dating myself, but when I was growing up video games were just getting started.  They were a luxury.  Only a few kids had them.  Instead, we spent our time building tree forts and riding bikes and exploring and just spending time with our buddies.  When it got dark outside during the summer, we knew it was time to go home.  I miss that.  As we get older and find ourselves encumbered and sometimes crushed by the weight of our responsibilities, we often forget to have fun.  We think that fun is for kids… or adults on vacation.  We don’t stop to consider that we could make every day more fun or at least less cumbersome by changing our perspective.  By taking pride in what we do instead of viewing it as the reason we set our alarm clocks in the morning.  By considering that whatever we do makes a difference, or at least is should.  By thinking that we need to relate to each other more…

There is a song that Jimmy Buffett recorded (It was actually written by his old friend and bandmate Mac MacAnally in 1970) that is called ‘It’s My Job’.

The song starts out as follows:

In the middle of late last night I was sittin’ on a curb
I didn’t know what about, but I was feelin’ quite disturbed
A street sweeper came whistlin’ by, he was bouncin’ every step
It seemed strange how good he felt, so I asked him while he swept

Chorus:
He said, “It’s my job to be cleaning up this mess
And that’s enough reason to go for me
It’s my job to be better than the rest
And that makes a day for me.”

Some days this is hard to do…some jobs are probably harder to do it with…hard to do it every day.  I guess it is just all about being thankful for what you have and knowing that you have the ability to change it or at the very least change your perspective about it.

Lou Holtz (famous college football coach) once said:

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

So…with that in mind…Who is up for a exploratory trip down to the tree fort or maybe some street hockey?  There is that alarm clock again…  Limitless possibilities await 😉

 

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Waiting for the superpowers to kick in…sort of

It was a fairly routine night… Put my daughter to bed.  Turn off the light in the turtle tank.  Go to bed myself.  Read for a bit.  Decide I am too sleepy to make any sense of the paragraph I have read three times and not understood.  Set my alarm.  Turn off my light.  Assume some sort of comfortable sleeping position that I will likely find uncomfortable in the coming hours at some point.  Drift off to sleep…

AWAKEN with sharp burning pain in my neck.  Sleepily feel affected area…No bump…No Swelling…Tends to burn more when I push on it… Sleepy brain decides I have enough information to turn light on my cell phone on and survey area for whatever little beastie has seen fit to take a bite out of me… Search in the half light turns up nothing.  Bed seems to be clear of critters, as do pillows.  Hmmmm…. Whatever it was must have decided I was not tasty enough and moved on…. Try to regain sleep posture and control growing Heebie Jeebie response.  This works for approximately 18.6 seconds until said intruder adds insult to injury and scuttles across my forehead!!!  Reflexes take over and survival instincts kick in….body propelled off mattress and offending critter swiped off of face in one smooth motion (very Matrix-worthy, I might add).  Light switched on to reveal angry scorpion (about 4 inches long) sitting on the bed in the warm place I had just inhabited.  Mystery solved.  Hamster on wheel in skull becomes frantic and picks up the pace…Images flash across semi-conscious mind….(I will try to do the stream of consciousness justice…so please bear with me, I was still pretty groggy with an adrenaline rush added to the mix)

‘Creepy…Are there any more on me?… What is the best way to kill it?…Do I hit it with something?…No, bed is too spongy…Can I catch it?…Probably…With what?…Cup?…San Antonio has a soccer team called the Scorpions…Soccer sucks…bunch of actors…Image of scorpion crawling across the face of a Fear Factor contestant…I can now relate…Jeff Probst on Survivor offering a fishing spear to the first person to eat a scorpion…Do I eat it?  Nah!…Creepy…Damn, the little guy looks angry and ready for battle!…I hope he is radioactive…he doesn’t look radioactive…Besides, what kind of cool superpowers would you get from a radioactive scorpion?…I don’t want a tail, pincers or a stinger…Glad this isn’t one of the Clash of the Titans variety of scorpion…How do I kill the thing without waking up my daughter in the next room?…Cup….(Dash in the kitchen to get a cup and trap the scorpion underneath)…There!…Can he get out of there?…How do I kill him?…Flush!…How do I get him to the toilet without giving him another opportunity to smite me viciously (not sure where the medieval vernacular came from to be honest ;))…Take the bottom sheet off…Good, that will work…Creepy…SPLASH!  Take that you little bugger!…FLUSH!…FLUSH AGAIN!…Must change sheets…Creepy!’

So, while the scorpion was deciding whether it could swim or not in a pipe somewhere, I proceeded to change my bed linens, calm down, put Neosporin on the sting area, research scorpions on my phone and generally try to settle back in for the night.  Ironically, I had been trying to think up a blog topic of late.  I had had a few ideas but nothing too compelling, profound, or hilarious.  Ironically part deux…I had a message on my phone from earlier in the evening from a friend who was admonishing me for not blogging in awhile…Hmmm….If I were a conspiracy theorist…

Anyway, most of you will read this and be creeped out…I was.

Sadly, many of you will read this and have a comparable story.  This seems to be part of life in the great state of Texas….along with ridiculously hot summers, bad drivers, proper conjugation of the possessive pronoun ‘y’all’, nice people, tubing and good bbq.

It’s funny how your mind works, both conscious and unconscious…  and the fuzzy area in between… The good news is that I seem to have survived the experience without much trouble.  I managed not to wake up my sleeping daughter.  I sent one lucky scorpion on an all expenses paid voyage to Davy Jones’ locker or the septic tank (whichever comes first).  And I have not developed any sort of lame super power, embarrassing tail, and will not have to wear tights…  The bad news is that I will probably regard my bed and my room with scrutiny until the ‘coast is clear’ on a nightly basis for quite some time.

On the bright side…If anyone asks me if I have ever encountered or been stung by a scorpion, I can speak authoritatively on the subject.  Sweet dreams everybody… 😉

****** Addendum

My friend Neil offered a humorous take on this post, saying that this is not the way that the superpowers would work.  His fear is that somewhere in the sewer system below San Antonio now lurks a huge, muscular, polynesian-tattooed scorpion plotting its next move… I had to admit that I laughed out loud at that one.  🙂

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The sorry state of mail…of all kinds

I have heard reports lately about the impending demise of the US Postal Service.  Seems they plan to close 250 postal centers across the country over the next few years.  This was inevitable, I suppose…but it still bums me out a little bit.  I stop to wonder how many kids there are out there who have never received a letter in the mail…who have never had a pen pal from another country…who have never extracted their dog’s teeth from the mail carrier’s rear end…who wonder why their parents still insist on checking that box on the street when all they seem to do is immediately throw away the contents or grimace when they realize that they received another bill.  I covered this topic a bit in a previous blog, so to all you intrepid blog readers who have read that entry, I apologize in advance for any repetition.  What prompts me to bring it up again, I guess, is that while we have innovated, while we have made things faster, while we have made things more reliable… we have also propagated old problems to a new medium and we have created a new host of problems for ourselves.

Consider the problems we used to have with mail.  It was slow.  It was sometimes unreliable.  It required us to buy stamps.  Weather affected it.  It required us to actually write things down.  It wasted paper.  These are pretty much solved now for the most part with our switch to electronic mail (email).

What we haven’t really solved is the junk mail problem… As much as I hate the fact that I throw away most of what clogs my mail box that I still make the effort to check everyday, I find it ironic that I get 10x the spam on a daily basis in my assorted email accounts that I ever got via my postal carrier.  As we have sped up the process, we have sped up the ability for spammers to annoy us.  Granted, there are ‘protections’ in place to try to counteract this activity…anti-spam is big business…but just as you might throw away physical mail that gets lost in a pile of junk mail, your spam filter might filter out things that you want.

The problems that email has introduced center mostly around promoting bad habits and laziness.  For example: Built-in spell checkers, when people bother to use them, do a decent job of alerting the user to spelling mistakes.  The problem is that over time, people, (especially young people) have forgotten how to spell or are just too lazy to do it correctly.  When we used to write letters, without the aid of a spell checker, we were very conscious of spelling things correctly.  We were also more worried about how we would be perceived if we wrote a letter rife with spelling errors.  Now even business emails are full of spelling or grammar mistakes.  For me, it is all about people not slowing down long enough to craft something that is clear and delivers the appropriate message.  In this world of instant gratification, most people can’t be bothered.  A good example of this is the growing practice of putting a tagline at the end of an email constructed on a smart phone.  People post an apology for spelling or grammar mistakes, using the excuse that they shouldn’t be held responsible because they are writing the email from a phone with a touchy keypad or over eager auto correct features.  To me, this tells me that the person doesn’t really care that they might be sending something that reflects poorly on their attention to detail.  Just my $.02…

One thing that email allows us to do is to correspond with groups of people at one time.  This is a powerful feature…but as they say…power corrupts.  My biggest pet peeve about this is not the discussion generated by a long email thread, but the inability of most people to use the ‘Reply’ feature instead of the ‘Reply to All’ feature.  Many people send group emails to announce something…for example: someone getting promoted.  In the past an  appropriate response might have been to send a handwritten note or perhaps stop them in the hallway to offer congratulations.  Today, in my opinion, the appropriate response would be to send a congratulatory email to that person directly.  Most people however feel the need to Reply to All, causing everyone on the list to receive an additional email each time.  What starts as happiness for the person who was promoted soon turns to irritation and frustration as the spam starts rolling into the inbox.  We have to deal with enough spam from spammers, it is annoying when we have to deal with it from people who should know better.

Another problem with email and the instant gratification it fosters revolves around reacting to a situation, composing an angry email, and firing it off into the ether, often regretting it later or worrying about the tone it might convey.  I read an article once that said that any email that deals with feelings or something at all controversial should be drafted and set aside for an hour or so and then edited before sending so that the author can be in a better or more objective state of mind and make sure their message is conveyed clearly and without unwanted context or emotion.  I think that this is really sound advice and try to do this whenever possible.  In the past, this was easier to deal with… Remember the old television show plot where someone would mail a letter and then spend the rest of the episode trying to get the letter back out of the mailbox or intercepting it prior to delivery because they shouldn’t have sent it in the first place?  With email, there is no re-calling a mail once sent… Though, maybe…if you got lucky…any objectionable content would be unrecognizable because you spelled it wrong, or your auto correct changed it, or you just can’t seem to type correctly on the tiny touch pad on your smartphone.  At least you have that disclaimer to fall back on…’so you’ve got that going for you…which is nice…’

Rant over… Return to your regularly scheduled programming 😉

 

 

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Success, failure, and catching your first foul tip

For most of us, our glory days participating in sports are behind us.

Unless you are a weekend warrior whose obsession with softball or another recreational sport takes a lot of your time or a club rugby or soccer player, odds are you play a different role in the world of sport:  the role of coach, team mom/dad, chauffeur, equipment manager, psychologist, and/or number one fan for a son or daughter playing said sport.  This is typically just as hard in many ways as playing the sport yourself.  There is, of course, the time aspect involved with shuttling them to and fro to practice and games or time spent coaching/supporting.  There is the monetary aspect of paying for their participation, photos, equipment, team parties, trophies etc.  But perhaps the hardest and by far the most rewarding thing we do as parents is to see them face challenges, succeed sometimes, fail sometimes, learn how to be part of a team, get bumps and bruises, develop a good attitude and above all have fun playing a game that is a time honored tradition.

Right now my daughter is playing softball.  It isn’t her first season, but this year, in a coach pitch CYO league, as she is about to turn 9 years old and is donning the catcher’s gear game after game I see that she is starting to ‘get it’.  She is starting to pay more attention.  She is starting to realize how much she enjoys the camaraderie and the feeling of supporting and being supported by her teammates.  She is starting to feel a lot of pride when she does something like catch her first foul tip (like happened last week).  Some kids get this earlier than others…some never grasp it at all and decide that sports aren’t for them.  Maybe they are creative and choose music or artwork instead.  Some are readers.  I think it is important that they experience playing on a team at least once or twice to find out if it resonates with them.  We all have passions, sometimes we just need to be exposed to a variety of things to help us discover what brings us joy.

As I watch my daughter play this or any other sport, I have to smile (and sometimes be exasperated) at her independent nature.  She hates it when her dad or her mom (both of us are really competitive) give her pointers when she is on the field.  It is really rewarding though, when she finally accepts something we have been trying to get her to learn or do and gives us a smile and a thumbs up when she does it correctly, realizing that we may just know what we are talking about.   Watching her succeed and have fun is intoxicating and watching her fail is hard but the key is to respond with encouragement no matter what the outcome.  It has struck me lately that I don’t let her fail enough as a father.  I try to protect my little girl as much as I can and I am worried that by doing so (other than keeping her safe and cared for of course) that I am doing her a disservice.  As an adult, if we are at all self-aware, we know that failure is a part of life that has as much value as success because it teaches us what success often can’t…that there is a lesson to be learned or a different way we should approach certain situations.  She will learn in time that success is wonderful, but you can find value in failure.  This is a failure that I apparently need to learn from.

I close my eyes at her games sometimes and listen…I take in smells…and images of my own experiences come flooding back to me…

The smell of glove oil

The clack of cleats on the concrete of the dugout

The clink of an aluminum bat or the crack of a wood one

The feeling you get from donning a uniform

The effortless feeling of the ball hitting the sweet spot of the bat

The heart racing feeling of adrenaline as you realize that the ball has been hit to your position and you have to react

The feeling of throwing the ball as hard as you can and worrying that you ‘threw your arm out’

The feeling of losing a ball in the sun in the outfield

The pressure as a pitcher when you have people on base and you have to get the guy at the plate out

Chants or words of encouragement from teammates when you are up to bat

The pressure as the batter when you have to deliver a hit

The pride of a home run trot

The pride or dejection you feel  doing the ‘good game….good game…good game’ high fives with your opponents after a game

These are what the game ends up being about.  Success and winning are great and it is great to remember them when you become a spectator later in life but it strikes me that, at least for me, it is the little things…the images…the smells…the faces…the muscle memory of throwing a baseball or swinging a bat that brings back the fondest memories.

Some parents live vicariously through their kids.  I try not to.  Her experiences are her own and if anything…sharing them with her and telling her about my own experiences just brings us close together.  It does for me…I hope it does for her too.  Maybe I will ask her…but certainly not when she is on the field, I have had all the stink eyes I can handle 😉

 

 

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Inspiration comes in many forms…

Read an inspirational article on the web today.  It was called ’15 Powerful Things Happy People Do Differently’.  Now normally, I take articles like this at face value as they often make a few compelling points and sort of peter out as they reach the number in the title.  Overall, this one was good though.  There were several good things about the article:

  • It interested me to see how many of these ‘magic’ things I could honestly say ‘Check!’ to…
  • It made me recognize things I do sometimes but wish that I did more…
  • It gave me additional things to ponder doing…
  • It made me think about who I have encountered in my life that has such qualities, bringing back some good memories…
  • It contained a bunch of cool and inspirational quotes…like this one…  ”Before giving, the mind of the giver is happy; while giving, the mind of the giver is made peaceful; and having given, the mind of the giver is uplifted.”  Buddha
  • It inspired another blog entry because I could tie it to something that happened to me yesterday :)…

So here is the story… My daughter and I were headed to the gym after a Starbucks run.  The street that our gym is on has very high curbs made out of individual stone blocks instead of the poured cement variety.  A pair of Whistling Ducks was waddling down the street with about 12 newly hatched ducklings trailing obediently in a yellow and black, fuzzy clump behind them.  I slowed down to observe and to protect them from traffic on that side of the road.  The parents hopped up onto the high curb to proceed into the woods but the babies (except for a few overachievers) were unable to hop high enough to get up on the curb and follow them.  I put on the hazards and with the help of a guy who had stopped on the other side of the road, we managed to corral the ducklings (no easy task as they are very fast) into a writhing bunch so that we could lift them up onto the curb where they scooted off to join the others.  The parents were not as distressed by this as I thought they would be, but instead took it in stride and carried on with whatever duck business they had planned.

Now the only reason I feel that this is worth mentioning is that it struck me as a real world example of the above quote.  Aside from (obviously) knowing where the good places are to eat, Buddha seemed to have a lot of those pearls of wisdom.  It struck me as one of those opportunities in life that we are presented with where we glimpse an opportunity make a difference.  The reason this was important was not only that the ducklings were spared…it was really more about sharing this experience with my daughter and also adding a pretty cool deposit to my bank of life experience.  I was smiling the rest of the day about that, feeling like in some small way we had not only made a difference in the lives of those ducks and arguably their ancestors but also in our own lives because we PARTICIPATED….We didn’t just watch it as it went by.

Being a spectator can be habit forming but luckily…so can participation, if you let it…

Anyway, we carried on to the gym and my daughter proudly told all of her little friends about our exploits.  I smiled at this, knowing that as a parent, my actions sometimes speak in a booming voice whereas my words (especially as she approaches her pre-teen and teenage years) don’t always register.   I also smiled at the thought that I was glad that the ducklings didn’t imprint onto me… I would have a hard time explaining this to my daughter’s turtles 😉  Plus, picturing myself walking down the street with a fuzzy yellow and black, waddling entourage was a bit much even for me…

So after all this, the one thought I can offer is…do something to make someone’s day… You will both be better for it.

 

 

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Truck Nuts, Survivor, and the Pot Pie Principle

So I started wondering what to write in my next blog entry…and that caused just general wondering…which led to musing…which based on the tagline of the site seems appropriate….So here goes…

  • I have been encountering what I refer to as the Pot Pie Principle of late…  The Pot Pie Principle is simply this… In order to cook a pot pie, you have to cook it for what seems like hours…then, in order to eat it, you have to let it cool for another hour or risk major mouth damage.  It hardly seems worth it…I don’t have that kind of time or patience for that matter, especially when it comes to food.  Where would I encounter this you ask?  Starbucks.  Why?  Because I eat their breakfast sandwiches which they heat up in some sort of crazy oven before delivering it to me in a bag.  Since this is probably my first meal of the day and I am usually in danger of starving to death having fasted for 12 hours or so…I must then risk pot pie style injury or ignore my burned fingers and let the demon steam out of the sandwich to bring it down into acceptable temperature range.  I know that many of you are thinking that I could also leave it in the bag until it cooled…but again POT PIE PRINCIPLE…I don’t have that kind of time.  The only thing that would be worse is if I also ordered a hot drink to go with my hot sandwich… I may be crazy, but I prefer my beverages cold while consuming food.  Plus, why risk being burned twice in the same meal?
  • In case it isn’t clear from the last item, I tend to get grumpy when I am hungry.  This is the reason I have not tried out for the show Survivor.  Don’t get me wrong, I would love to be on it…but I am self-aware enough to realize that I might not be the easiest guy to get along with after about 2 days of not eating.  I have a feeling the rationale for voting me off would be something like this….Big, scary looking guy…would probably kick butt in challenges (except those involving balance 🙂 ), dangerous when he is hungry….we should probably vote him out before he eats somebody…’The tribe has spoken…’
  • Does anyone else have a Nemesis Car?  One particular make and model of car that always seems to have an idiot driving it so as to cause major road distress?  When I first moved to Texas, it was the ‘Big-Ass Truck’ but has been quickly replaced by the Toyota Prius.  Not sure why…Don’t have anything against the car really…Actually a fan of the hybrid concept for obvious reasons…But for some reason Prius (assuming the plural form is the same as the singular) are normally driven erratically and 10 miles below the speed limit by some douche texting on his phone makes me want to flip one over and see if it looks better upside down.
  • Speaking of idiots on the road…Truck nuts?…. Really?  enough said
  • Does anyone else think that bicyclists should stop bitching about not being respected on the roadways when they never seem to follow the rules themselves?  They don’t ride in the bike lanes or they insist upon riding two abreast in their silky little outfits like they are in some Tour de France race.   God knows there is probably a Prius out there gunning for them…:)

So how is that for random…Pot Pies to Starbucks to Survivor to Toyota Prius to Truck Nuts to Cyclists…. Funny, I never made it to Kevin Bacon…that is troubling.  Goodnight everybody.  Zzzzzzzz

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Rules of Etiquette for the Average Joe

So I got to thinking about things that bug me…which made me think of amusing ways to portray them… which led me to wonder if other people felt this way…which is good because I needed to blog and needed some inspiration.  So, it wasn’t long before I had a list…which is necessary to add a bit of substance to the entry so you don’t don’t read one or two things and say…’Yeah, I hate that too…kinda funny…but should have been longer.”  Anyway, I digress…

I know there are huge lists of rules about etiquette.  Everything from table manners to how many people have to be seated and have their food in front of them before it is okay to start eating and such…  I probably don’t do a lot of those correctly, but since I don’t often dine or rub shoulders with high society, it isn’t a big deal.  So, if the Queen calls and wants to have tea, I will probably be in trouble… :).

Here is a big one for me… I call it the Bus/Elevator/Subway Principle.  It is fairly simple.  Before you get on the B/E/S, wait until the people exiting have exited.  This will not only provide you with more space once you board, it is just common, freaking, courtesy!  Yet, every time I ride one of these that is the least bit crowded, people seem to have no knowledge of this rule.  They are too caught up in their own agenda to do it right.  Makes me want to smack people…but then I would be viewed as discourteous…or dangerous 😉

While we are talking about doors…I will happily hold the door for someone if I know they are entering or exiting a building or area behind me or if they are exiting and I am entering.  What kills me are the people who don’t acknowledge the fact that you held the door or don’t take it themselves to hold it for the person behind them.  Many are happy to exit, one after another, while I hold the door.  After about the third or fourth person, I usually let the door go… This to me is just out of order.  If I were wearing a uniform that made me look like a doorman, I would understand.  I just wonder where these people grew up…  Note:  Most people catch the door with a body part to avoid being wiped out by the door and look at me angrily.  Oh well.  For those of you out there who smile and say ‘Thank You’, you make me happy.

Another one… I call this the Supermarket Test and I find myself thinking about this when I am interviewing someone.  It is simply asking yourself the question… ‘If I saw this person in the supermarket would I avoid their aisle or would I feel comfortable talking to them?’  If you find yourself thinking that you would steer clear of their aisle, you probably shouldn’t be hiring them.  The only thing that overrides this sometimes is if they are super capable or super brilliant and you are the only person who feels this way.

Another big one centers around Facebook.  I talked a bit in one of my earlier entries about the politics surrounding the social networking obsession and how they have gotten a bit out of control (at least I think I did…if not I am sure I will again at some point).  It is very easy to ‘collect’ friends on Facebook.  It is usually decidedly harder to delete them from your list.  I guess my viewpoint on this is to start by determining if they are really a ‘friend’ or just an ‘acquaintance’.  Some friends you keep on Facebook because they are in your inner circle…you would not hesitate to reach out to these people at any time for any reason.  Some you keep because you share a common interest…for me some of these are Polynesian Tattoos or people that I went to High School with because I may need to contact them at some point for a reunion.  Some are co-workers that you see every day at work.  Still others are family and that is its own box of snakes.  South Park did a really humorous take on this topic that you can find here.  Sorry for the commercial but it was the best copy I could find 🙂  Anyway, the point is that I find myself periodically pruning my Facebook Friends List.  If I think that I will probably never talk to the person again or that they will probably never reach out to me I will delete them.  Other reasons for deleting them are because I think that they are just collecting friends because they have some other agenda like advertising or selling you something.  Still others are because we have had a falling out and I don’t care to have them as friends anymore.  Whatever the reason, their deletion might go unnoticed and be no big deal or they might notice it and have hard feelings.  When you think about it, this is all pretty silly.  The people in your life who you care about are those that you will contact outside of Facebook…via phone…Skype…or God forbid, in person!  If people used Facebook as a communication device or a way to tell people about their lives it would be one thing.  Far too many use it as the basis for their relationships.  This and all the ‘etiquette’ surrounding it makes me wonder sometimes why I bother….

Anyway, these are just a few off the top of my head.  I have short patience for people who can’t be bothered or who have no clue about how to be polite.  Now to see how many of my Facebook Friends pass the Supermarket Test 😉

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A perfect day at Arlington

My father was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery today on a beautiful spring day, under a cloudless sky, beneath a tree that rustled in the wind.  He was honored for 29 years of military service in the US Army, a career that included 4 tours in Vietnam.  It was the way that he wanted it, and I am very pleased that his wishes were honored.  The staff at Arlington and the Servicemen who performed the military funeral did an amazing job.  They truly take care of their own and they do it right.

I arrived at the Administration Building early to make sure all the paperwork was in order.  It struck me as a bit surreal as I journeyed there from my hotel via the Metro and as I waded through hundreds of tourists.  I had asked a very nice woman at the Information Desk if she could direct me there and was surprised when she left her post and led me through a back exit out of the way of the crowds to my destination.   I was met by dozens of family members who were already there, some of whom I have not seen since my grandfather passed away in 1987.  Together we followed the funeral director to the ‘transfer point’ where the young men in uniform transferred my father’s ashes and the American Flag to the casket which was covered with another American Flag and carried in a horse drawn carriage through the historic cemetery to the grave site.  A full marching band, a group of Servicemen carrying the colors, and his Honor Guard accompanied all of us on that journey.  We followed in cars until we reached the grave site and we assembled there as the Honor Guard brought forth the flag and the urn and the seven Servicemen with the rifles fired their 3 volleys.  The service was given by a military chaplain who had taken a lot of time to research my father’s military career.  When the service was over, each one of us placed flowers and said prayers as we honored him in our own way.  It was an amazing day that I am deeply honored to have been part of…and the thought that he would have approved gives me comfort.  It is fitting that he was laid to rest facing the Pentagon, a place where he served some of his military service.  I think he would have approved of that as well.

The hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery has an aura.  It is one of honor…and sacrifice…and freedom…and patriotism.   Even living in a military town like San Antonio where we are reminded everyday of the service that the men and women of the military provide, it is not something that we always think about.  Believe me, this is not something that you forget at Arlington.  You feel it.  Even if you close your eyes, the feeling is one of reverence and solemn respect.   The chaplain told us that there are 320,000 people buried there…soldiers and families of soldiers.  No one may buy their way into Arlington, their entry is earned through their service.  On a perfect April day in the year 2012, with the sun shining, the cherry blossoms in bloom, and the wind whispering through the trees this was made perfectly clear to me and everyone in attendance.  My heartfelt thanks goes out to the US Military for their efforts just as theirs were expressed to me for the service that my father provided to this country.  I am a person who appreciates closure.  I have it now and I believe my father does too.  Rest well my father.  I love you.

 

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Wherever you go….there you are

(Note:  I wrote this blog entry earlier today and clicked the Publish button only to find later that what I wrote had not been published…yep, gone.  So I apologize in advance if this second effort is not as good as the first…  but then again, I guess you will never know 😉 )

Have you ever found yourself remembering something or someone from your past and wondered ‘What if I had done something different?’ or ‘How would my life be different if I had chosen a different path?’.  I think that most people have probably spent some time pondering this…I know I have.  Part of this for me, I guess, is that I am a bit of a perfectionist.  I often wonder if I could have done things better.   For example, I could tell you the word I mispronounced in grade school to keep from getting a perfect score on a particular vocabulary test.  This is really random and not important but it shows how the mind can dwell on things that we have done in the past that might be troubling.  We are usually our own worst critics.  The thing that we don’t consider is… Whatever we have done in the past was a result of the information we had at the time, the circumstances, or because we had an intuition or a gut feeling that was compelling enough to prompt a particular decision.  People say that hindsight is 20/20 but I don’t believe that.  I believe that we do our best with what we have.  We make decisions and choose our directions in life in the moment.  Information we get later only really helps us to second guess ourselves.

If I look back upon my life I sometimes wonder ‘what if?’… For example…What if I had not had a strong dislike for the football coach at my high school?  I may have played the sport that most people have told me I was best suited for…I may have been good at it…I may have been good enough to play college ball…In doing so, I would have gone to a completely different university…my life may have been completely different.  When I ponder this, I consider that if I played football I would not have learned the game of basketball from one of the greatest men I have ever met.  I would not have learned many of the life lessons that I learned during that time.  I probably would not have gone on to discover the game of rugby and I would not have made the numerous great relationships with so many diverse people around the world.  All in all, hindsight or not, I like my choice.

This works for relationships too.  It is easy to think about people in my life that I have cared about and had feelings for and wonder what a serious relationship with that person would have looked like.  All I have to do is take my daughter’s hand in mine and look at her face to know that, once again, I made the perfect choice.

Sometimes if we take the time to be still…to listen…to contemplate…to open our awareness, the universe and our higher power provides us with glimpses.  These glimpses show us that we really are exactly where we are supposed to be at this very moment in our life.  The path we have taken and the decisions that we have made have led us here, making us the people we have become along the way.  I have said before, and strongly believe that ‘Life is a Journey and not a Destination’.  If this were not true, what would happen when we reached our destination in life?

Stories are only compelling when the protagonist faces obstacles or struggles.  It is how these struggles are addressed that adds depth to the character and allows us to experience their joys and sorrows and identify with their humanity.  It would be a pretty boring story if  we were introduced to a one-dimensional character who quickly realized a destination without undertaking the journey.  The reality is….the paths we have taken in our past have gotten us to where we are right now…it is up to us to continue the journey…to learn something along the way… and to make our own story compelling.  If we don’t, we may just find ourselves in the future wondering… ‘What if…?’

Wil

(not sure I like it as much as the first one… but hopefully it works 🙂 )

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