Aiming At Perfection, And (Unfortunately) Hitting It

I have watched enough National Geographic and Nature programs to understand how “natural selection” works. The predator approaches the herd, considers options, then sprints into action. The herd scatters and (if successful) the victorious apex hunter takes down the prey. Messy, but effective, and this permits the hunter to continue to survive another time period.

A rarely stated consequence of this interaction is the strength of both the hunter and hunted is enhanced in this exchange. The successful hunt provides energy and experience for the hunter and reinforces (or improves) the skill set used, not to mention providing food and satiety. The herd is strengthened as a result of the loss of one of it’s members by the loss of the (relatively) weakest member. For whatever reason of combination of reasons, the victim is at the lower end of ability within the group. Slower, older (or younger), lame, inattentive, whatever reasons combined to result in the chosen victim being unsuccessful in avoiding the attack, the remaining members of the group are better in aggregate by the removal of a less-capable member of their society.

Man does not play by these rules.

As a direct result of his ability to create tools, we are the only creatures on the planet that can (and do) choose to kill the best of another species rather than the “worst” available. The concept of acquiring a trophy for display is meaningless when survival and self preservation is at the root of a hunt. My deer hunting friends often talk about letting the pronghorns pass by in anticipation of a bigger rack to arrive. While arguably a larger amount of meat is available on the older, more developed 8+ point rack holders, it is less about filling the freezer than the space over the mantle. It is a source of pride as well as food to demonstrate one’s ability to kill the wiser veteran of the forest.

Were this a contest of capabilities, of strength versus speed, wisdom versus knowledge, there might be a global benefit gained by both species. The use of “superior” tools allows mankind to succeed simply by reaching out and touching one who’s weakness is simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Separated by hundreds of yards, it is no longer a matter of tooth and claw, of might or majesty but of a sliver of refined metal projected at speed over distance, with little or no warning and less ability to react. An “unearned” kill, so to speak.

As a result, man can take the best of a group, leaving the remaining members less able to cope and in the big picture, less likely to survive as a species. Were this limited to food animals, it would be disturbing and possibly wrong in a global ecology sense, that the overall strength of the planet as a whole is diminished by culling members from the upper echelon rather than the lower ranks. Of course, man is not limited in this way.

He also takes out his own kind.

I watched the news last evening. There was a story about the dramatic increase in the number of young people being killed as a result of violence in their vicinity. A mother spoke of her daughter sitting next to her and how she could not do anything to protect her as gunfire erupted in her area. The girl was not targeted, but died anyway, as a conflict between two groups unrelated to the victim attempted to “settle” a disagreement. Collateral damage as it were.

It seems reasonable were the two groups equipped with fists and claws, the mother might have been successful in saving her offspring. At the least she could have snatched her from the bench and ran, or interspersed her own body in the attack, shielding her daughter from the mob and giving the girl a chance to flee. BANG! Too late, no chance.

Is it possible that this outcome was the “correct” one in terms of the “law of the jungle”, “survival of the fittest” kind of view? Possibly, but hardly obvious. It is vastly more likely this is the global denigration of the species as a whole, removing a member from the middle rather than the bottom ranks.

Perhaps we lost another Einstein. We will never know.

What if this is a (rather common) isolated case, the exception rather than the rule. Surely mankind is better controlled than that, right? This was an unfortunate accident, to be lamented.

No, I suspect our ability to create tools capable of launching man outside of the food chain rules of power has given us a substantial leg-down in our capability to survive long term as a species. Weapons of destruction (mass or individual) make us less likely to advance in the evolutionary game.

How else can you explain how a four year old, incapable of making his or her own food, is able to take down the apex predator of the house with their own weapon…

It seems mankind is destined to go out, not with a whimper, but with a BANG!

Phred

post 79 of n

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Disbelivable Suspended Disbelief

There is a principle of movie watching that suggests (unless it is a documentary based completely in facts, and even then not totally) the first prerogative for enjoyment is to “suspend disbelief” in the presentation of events. That a rigid reliance on internal consistency or adherence to the generally understood and accepted nature of reality will result in a “less than satisfactory” result. Since movies are intentioned to provide entertainment rather than presenting brutal reality, there are certain “liberties” that can (will, perhaps must) be taken.

In the last thirty hours, I had the opportunity to go see two of the movies on my wait list, “Doctor Strange” and “Rogue One” at a couple of local theaters. My expectations and the degree of enjoyment I obtained from my viewings were approximately what I had expected, but the movie that exceeded my wildest expectations and the one that fell far short of what I would have expected from the title ended up being completely opposite of what I would have posted about last week.

Doctor Strange was taxing to watch. I have suggested to others that this movie would benefit from watching “Inception” at about six times the normal speed. I am glad I did not watch it in 3-D, as I suspect motion sickness might be a result (something I rarely experience). Unlike many of my friends, I do not have the comic-book background to know what the “back story” of the character is (frankly, one of the more compelling reasons to see the movie was simply that Benedict Cumberbatch was staring in it) so I really had nothing but a couple of trailers to base my opinion (or expectation) of the movie.

It was GREAT! Incredibly unbelievable” in terms of science and the current state of understanding, I happily left my belief at the door and enjoyed the movie. So much so I am seriously thinking of going back later this week and seeing it again. And it is possible a copy will end up in my (reasonably small and limited) movie collection.

The latest Star Wars movie, on the other hand, was one I had understood the back story well and was pretty sure I knew what to expect. It was almost exactly what I figured it would be, done well, and in keeping with the story in general. Yet, I doubt if I will ever see it again (and would feel little regret at a future loss) ranking it as one of the lesser movies I’ve watched in the last year. Why?

I spent a couple of hours wondering what it was about the Rogue One movie that was such a let down, especially in light of the history of attending Star War movies. I remember standing in lines extending down the block for a couple of them, and having to wait weeks before the number of sold out showings dropped enough to see the movies at convenient times (for you younger readers, there actually existed a time when there was only ONE movie screen in an theater, and in many of the smaller towns, there was only a single theater to go to! Really!). Finally, I decided one of the most significant reasons for my sense of disappointment derived by the amount of disbelief I was asked to accept.

Doctor Strange was magic and sorcery, completely removed from “reality” as we know it. (The Harry Potter movies followed along in this kind of vein, and were believably unbelievable, too.) Rogue One was the standard spaceship battles and (as a person who spent every Thursday evening with my dad watching the latest Star Trek episode) the level of disbelief expected was typical, yet too much this time.

Not counting the expected space battle noises (just ask Ripley and the Aliens if your screams in space can be heard) as a source of disappointment, I found the mechanics of the ship movements to be simply wrong this time (and perhaps forever going forward, as well). The kind of maneuvering that the fighters performed in (deep) space were reminiscent of the fighter battles of conventional aircraft. And this is exactly the problem… vacuum fails to exert lift and so space fighters either need to use exotic propulsion systems to make radical movements in three dimensions or use vector engines to provide thrust in each axis of movement. If the undisclosed method of radical direction change is indeed future tech unknown at this time, then why “fly” in the normal sense of the word? If you can change direction at will without inertia why not simply move sideways rather than roll and climb (like a plane would)?

It is a problem of inertia and momentum conversation that eventually bothered me the most. When the “hammerhead” ships caused the destruction of the battle cruiser (spoiler alert, sorry), I found the level of belief being injected into the moment too great for my brain to accept. I’m not saying it couldn’t be done, that the physics of the ploy were actually in line with what science would suggest should happen. The problem was amount… to have any dreadnought sized ship moved sideways as a result of a side-mounted thruster such as depicted simply doesn’t work.

I was stationed on an aircraft carrier while in the Navy. These ships are big. Really big. They take a while to start and stop moving. And while a wind blowing against the side of such a ship can cause it to move sideways (sometimes a hazard while attempting precision maneuvers or coming alongside a pier to dock) it takes a lot of wind over a long time to shift it very far. Fully loaded tankers and freighter can take miles to come from full speed to an emergency stop.

Sorry, but there was just too much disbelief for me to believe this time. I think I will study how to cast spells for my next movie viewing.

Phred

(Extra Credit Question: if the rocket blast from the departing ship almost blew the protagonist off the landing dock, why did it not effect the rest of the bodies lying around, such as her dad? There were cases of crew members being blown off my ship by jet exhaust during flight ops…)

A Glimpse Of Dawn…

So it is nearly the end of 2016 and it’s been over a year since my last posting. There has been a lot of things that have happened since then, some were good, some bad, most were indifferent. I am not sure how much will (eventually) be posted, if any of it. I have passed through much darkness in the last year, best described by the term used by Douglas Adams. I have found myself in the “long, dark tea-time of the soul” as it were, and there seems to be a glint in the distance suggesting it is getting lighter here.

In any case, I have a few things to say, and should post them shortly. Part of my new year’s intentions (I gave up resolutions over a decade ago because they were so depressing, having been broken or forgotten within the first month of the year beginning) is to review all of my previous postings, to see what I was trying to say. More importantly, to determine who I was then (and if I am still the same person, or some stranger using the same name). I suspect I have changed, albeit too slowly for observation in real time. It is far too early to determine whether a change will be positive, negative, or some combination of the two. This, too, may be subject of further work…

For those of you who are kind enough to care, I extend my humble gratitude for your extreme patience and trust your wait will (eventually) prove out to have not been in vain.

Phred.

Click The Shutter…

There is a program on PBS on the brain (episode 2 just aired this week) and it has been interesting. i have been thinking about a lot of things lately and since this show was on memory, I was reminded of how badly I wanted a photographic memory when I was in school.

I thought it would be the greatest thing in the world. Eliminate the need to study for tests or classes, just look at the materials and they would be available for recall upon request. I would ace all my classes, be able to spend more time doing what I wanted (rather than homework and study) and generally impressing the snot out of people.

Didn’t happen, at least not in the way I had imagined. For, while lying in bed this morning, I came to the realization that I was indeed granted a photographic memory…that of the prototypical amateur photographer. Fuzzy, blurry pictures, usually over-exposed or under developed, off-center, out of focus, with the heads of most of the people cut off. Time has caused much of the colour to fade. They are scratched and bent, some of the corners are ripped off.

Then there is the method of storage. They are stuffed in unlabeled boxes (remnants of other uses, such as shoes) and tossed in the back of the closet, where they are (at best) incredibly annoying to get to or (at worst) likely to be bumped without intent and exploding into a horrific mess, scattering all over the place and requiring extra effort to grab them and stuff them back out of the way (where this scene can and will be repeated in the future).

On the (increasingly) rare occasions when I actually sit down and attempt to review the stack, I find enough time and distance has elapsed that most of the images are filled with people I don’t know at locations I can’t remember. Sometimes there is a clue of context in the image to make a guess as to who, what, and when (holiday decorations, a birthday cake, a calendar on the edge of view), but far too often there is just the vague feeling of uncertainty  regarding why this image was important enough to keep. And the perverse understanding that I can’t possibly toss it away, that someday someone will either fill in the needed background or that it will be essential to solve some mystery puzzle, providing information only this exact picture holds. So it is put back in the box to gather another layer (or six) of dust until it gets drug out again.

Some people have successfully transformed their images into attractive scrapbooks, organizing related materials and adding additional text, allowing others to easily enjoy the experience of sharing the past. A great idea in concept, the closest I have come is shuffling pictures into several heaps, partially organized by geographical proximity or temporal separation. Aggregations spanning states or decades is essentially not sorted, so the work eventually gets shoveled back in the box in the closet for future archeology students to sift through.

Perhaps the weight of time will compress my memories into something useful…coal…oil… natural gas (wait, that is happening now, so perhaps an open window is required)….

Phred

post 76 of n

After The Sabbatical

So, it is now officially the end of the summer, a time for the season to change and prepare for the cold, dark winter to come. This posting is, in part, an attempt to bring you, dear readers, up to date in the changing circumstances of my life.
Beginning in May, I read a number of books that gave me insight of my ability to make fundamental changes in my life. In particular, The One Thing was pivotal in propelling my life into a different direction. It poses the question: “What is the one thing you can do that, if accomplished, would make everything else easier or unnecessary?”

After some (rather easy) meditation the next step was to WEIGH LESS. I began a systematic program of reducing and tracking my caloric intake (with the assistance of the Ipad application MyFitnessPal). I discussed my intentions with several friends and family members and have lost over 60 pounds (almost 30 kg) in the last four months. I was not successful in reaching my initial goal of weighing under 300 pounds (135 kg) by my birthday in September, but am on track to accomplish this sometime in November, and intend to be below 200 pounds (90 kg) by New Year’s Eve, 2016.

According to the materials I’ve read, it takes about 65 days on average to create a habit, so I am somewhat less intentional about directing my focus on WEIGHING LESS, as it has become mostly habitual. A victory with many side benefits (a substantial reduction in my on-going pain level being a primary driver for the initial decision in the first place).

About six weeks into the process, a chance visit with my sister (and concurrent conversation) suggested an intention to obtain a fitness tracker of some sort after my weight dropped enough to make exercise (read: walking) reasonable. She indicated she had upgraded her primary device and that I could take her old one if I wanted it. I did, and I did.

Thus without fanfare (or even notice at the time) phase two of my realignment with reality began. After consideration, I began another habit calendar driven by a second ONE thing: MOVE MORE. This task did not have as clear cut goals or objectives, and has been somewhat less spectacular in it’s results. The FitBit Ultra automatically measures what I do and both records it within the product tracking software, and links to my food diary, so it is an observable and track-able measure of my progress in moving. I have increased my goals twice since starting in June, and on average meet my daily goals about 4-5 days each week. Other friends also track their activity (including a half-marathoner… nearly an inconceivable task to “aim” at) so I have additional levels of accountability and encouragement (while I have successfully placed last each week in the status report between friends, I am slowly and gently getting closer to the pace set by my betters).
Additionally, I have begun an eight week set of classes in my apartment on improving balance (nominally to help prevent falls; I reside in an age-restricted housing location and am officially the youngest resident here, with only another 25 years to go to reach the mean age of my neighbours…) and am studying Tai Chi on DVD. My objective goal is to begin playing golf again next year and eventually to shoot my age for a round (if history is any indicator, I will have to play and live at least another 60 years to have a reasonable chance).

And so with the passing of time and focusing on various areas of my life, I determined the third (and current) ONE thing to set as the primary compass marker for my life: ACT INTENTIONALLY, which brings us to this posting.

Many (perhaps most) of the previous writing has been stream-of-consciousness dumps, without focus or direction. Regardless of how entertaining they may (or may not!) have been, there was little or no intention behind them. (Technically the “three a week” plan would slightly count as an intent, but it is not what I am looking for.) I have taken eating from an impulsive, mindless activity to an intentional plan for achieving the vision I have created for my life. I have challenged my sedentary lifestyle and with focus am moving towards regaining my life as, perhaps not an athlete in the normal sense of the word, but a participant rather than an observer of life beyond the four walls of my cage. This focus is now being aimed at my writing.

To assist this process, I have just updated my workstation by adding two additional computers (an NAS –Network Accessible Storage– unit to consolidate my files from multiple sources and and an Ubuntu Linux system to expand my knowledge and skill set, and to work as a render station for my animation projects) and sifting through my paperwork (to clear space and streamline my file cabinets). As suggested in some of my books on organization this should make me more productive as the reduction in clutter (more focus!) will lower the distractions around me.

This should provide you with a more thoughtful and consistent product in the future. At the vary least, you should notice more content than what has been produced over the last third of the year…

Phred
post 75 of n

One (Baby) Step At A Time…”

It is the first week of July and a month since I’ve even been attached to this site. I have had several readers ask about my lack of content (one even called, an old high school buddy) and asked me what was the deal?

Short answer: I’m busy.

Longer answer: I’m involved in several different changes in my life that I am focusing my attention on and how I am splitting my energy and focus is in flux.

Even longer (rambling, reasonably pointless) answer: It all started with a passing comment in an earlier posting that my IPad had finally died (read it here, if you are interested or sufficiently bored). A friend from my church casually mentioned he had a spare and was willing to pass it along. I met him (he works weekdays about 90 km away) on an off day at the local Apple store so he could dump the data from his old one to (one of) his newer models and give me an essentially blank machine. After only about 189 minutes (typical example of how things seem to seldom go smoothly for me) of standing in the parking lot he returned with a 3rd gen IPad with retina display. Compared to my earlier model, this is like an upgrade from your basic clunker first car (189,600 miles and more rust than metal visible, but it runs…mostly) to your mid life second family vehicle (couple of years old, 60-70 thousand miles, but pretty well maintained and not too badly equiped, and at least an order of magnitude or two better than that first embarasement of a car). The crack in the screen of this one is about 6 times as long and is visibly distracting when focusing on the upper right corner of the display, but the dual cameras (front AND back) more than make up for the imperfection (and it doesn’t seem to be anything but a cosmetic blemish…so far).

Since I had a habit of downloading programs (free, of course) to try and run several iOS versions outdated, I had accumulated about 700 different programs to choose from to install back on this new toy. Many were no brainer choices, one was a fitness app that allows me to track my diet, exercise (HAHAHA), weight and that of my friends (MyFitnessPal). I had used it sporadically with the old pad and I thought it might be a good idea to start journaling my food intake again. It was early in May.

About a week later I read an article that pointed me to a couple of books on productivity. Which I ordered from my library and waited a week to receive. Then I read The One Thing (a book review here) and I decided the one thing I needed to do was to lose weight. So I determined I would eat less and set goals with this purpose in mind. This was about the end of the 3rd week in May.

Time passes, and more books come in from the library. The latest on loan (due back in 10 days) are Take the Stairs and Procrastinate on Purpose, both by Rory Vaden. (I hope to write reviews of both before they have to be returned to the ether.)  I think this is a personal example of witnessing the exact snowflake that causes an avalanche. Everything stacked up with the reading (and re-reading, and re-re-reading) of these books to cause me to question everything in my life. Where I have been, where am I now, and where do I want to go from here. Why? What do I need to do (or more importantly, not do) to get there?

The month of June became one great soul-search of meaning and purpose (all the time keeping under my food budget). Add to this a incidental visit to my mom and sister (where my mom lives now) and the mention of a desire to eventually obtain a exercise (HAHAHA) monitor. My sister then goes to a drawer and brings out a FitBit Ultima and gives it to me. Another excuse falls and another snowflake drops into place. And since she also uses the same food/fitness program, she agrees to be an accountability partner in my journey. Another nudge.

So. June passed without posting an article. There were a lot of things that I usually did that didn’t happen last month. I didn’t watch as much TV (one reason is it’s the dead zone of programming, there is less that the usual dribble of programs worth watching, so it wasn’t so hard/bad, but truth disclosure demands I watched considerably less news and science programming, also, so there was a significant reduction in my electric bill from non-TV consumption). I didn’t play video games on my PS3 at all. (I did fire it up a couple of times to access YouTube for a couple of tutorials.) I spent far less time on the computer (my Blender work suffered nearly as much as my blog). No movies, no fast food, limited travel. Much of the month was spent in meditation (read: intense thinking and considering options) and contemplation (not of my navel, that was more of a ’70s activity and I think I have out-grown the need for that).

So where does that take us? Currently, I believe I will continue to focus much of my energy to changing the general direction this “ship of state” is heading (similar to a huge ore freighter, my life has rarely been able to change in any direction without making a three hour, 5-mile radius turn, or involving a dozen or more diesel tug boats forcing me to go sideways in an unnatural course change). I believe I will be more active in posting in the cooler seasons, so the “three-a-week” schedule is temporarily disabled. I think a post every couple of weeks is more likely as things stabilize. Overall, I still have a desire to write, and share observations I’ve gleaned from life as we know it, but at this season it is not at the top of my list, so it’s being POPed (procrastinated on purpose, from the book of the same  name) to allow me to do more significant things first.

And the progress on that weight thing? As of this morning, I have lost 33 pounds since I started journaling. I am on track to be at 300 pounds by my birthday in September and at 275 by New Year’s Eve. And believe me when I say that is truly encouraging all by itself. If nothing else comes of my month of introspection, it will be more than worth it in the long(er) run.

So, I leave you with my best (admittedly really bad) Austrian accented quote:

“I’ll be back…”

Phred

post 74 of n

Concessions In The Theater Of Your Mind

I awoke from my ugly nap this afternoon in a mood most foul. I was involved in playing cards (Euchre) with others and the last hand was one I thought I could do well with. Another gentleman declared trump and I felt I had a very good chance at setting him. I then discovered the rules (in this game, not in the real world) required my cards to be taken to another table and played by a woman that had not demonstrated much of an understanding of the game. I was incensed, screaming that there were two ways to play the hand, the right way and one that “might possibly have a chance of winning.” I then awoke without knowing which way the hand went, but furious none the less.

Staring at the ceiling I contemplated what had just occurred (while waiting for my blood pressure to return to normal). In general, I am an even-tempered person, not often riled to the point of violent expression of emotions. Unlike some people I am related to, I don’t scream loudly or throw things when events don’t go the way I think they should. Most of the time I simply express my hope that the horrific drivers around me actually MAKE it to their destination rather than express my gratitude that they’re “number one” in my book by hand signals. I’m pretty calm overall.

Until I fall asleep. From acts of violence against others worthy of at least an “R” rating (and hours of cleanup by stagehands afterward) and property damage requiring incarceration prior to judgement, to leg-buckling events of terror beyond the imagination of King or Hitchcock. I often awake drenched in a cold sweat, heart palpitation violent enough to consider ringing for the attendant (there’s a medical call string in my apartment that notifies the authorities to come and assist…presuming your “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” moment occurs within a couple feet of the bed or toilet). Or the need to change pillowcases after they are discovered swamped with tears of sadness. (On second thought, this doesn’t count as I find the crushing waves of despair and loneliness occur during waking moments, too….)

So why the greatly amplified expression of emotions in my dreams? Perhaps this is a way of retaining my sanity against the madness of the greater world in the land of light. By experiencing and expressing these emotions in the privacy of my own head (which I would never do in the real world) I am then able to keep a relatively even keel in public. I don’t have to “go postal” at the incompetency of my clerk or waitstaff because I have already vented enough pressure during the darkness to keep in control.

Also, why do I continue to go to work delivering propane to clients in the night, when this part of my occupation history ended in 1990? Or wander through the same school campus between unknown classes I am inevitably late enough to watch other students depart from as I approach? At least I find most elevator shafts actually contain a car when the doors open (which they rarely did in my younger years… but the sensation of awakening just as you hit the bottom from a great height and floating to the top of your mattress as your eyes opened eventually became a thrill rather than a terror). What perverse need is there in the depths of my psyche to torture me nightly with a “night life” more boring than my real one, so much that the memory of what transpired evaporates within the time it takes to return from the bathroom. And then, just as unexpectedly as opening the door to the Publisher’s Clearing House crew, I am subjected to wild acts of debauchery and decadence requiring the rating board to turn away in horror, hastily slapping a MA rating or worse on my subconscious life.

Were there a pattern, some explainable reason why the cinema of the mind chooses which film to show on any given night I could better deal with the confusion. Part of my daily journal keeping includes recording such dreams as I can remember (by the time I get up and fire up the computer…maybe 1 in 10 overall?). Also included in the journal is a rambling account of the day’s events and food choices for meals, so I have been able to examine at least some of the surrounding events leading up to a significant dream event. I have never found any correlation between eating anchovies on my pizza (Yumm… I know, I’m weird) and driving a truck later that evening. Or enough variance in my drab existence to justify ripping the still-beating heart out of my nearest attacker while war rages around me.

And don’t get me started on the couple of times I was able to experience lucid dreaming. Oh, how I’ve tried to set up the joy of being fully in control of my surroundings while aware it was all a dream. The movie Inception only got it half right when everything aligns during a lucid session. Flying and changing your surroundings with a wave of your hand is AWESOME! And rare enough to awake to extreme frustration that the movie ended a quickly as it did.

What I’m left with is a Wheel-Of-Fortune method of determining what channel appears each night (or afternoon in this case) and my ticket is non-refundable. This is just another example of why I think Rod Serling is present in my apartment. (If I just whip my head around fast enough I think I can get a glimpse of him standing behind me….)

So, what I want to know is this, within the theater of my mind, where presumably I have season tickets to my own private screening of life as I think it woulda/coulda/shoulda be…

Why do I always have to wait in line to buy popcorn?

Phred

post 73 of n

Wide World Of Sports (As Of Today)

Initial Disclaimer: I know where this posting starts from, I don’t know where it is going (which makes it pretty much a typical rant).

I am a spectator in the game of life. Last night, I watched “my” team’s kickball game at the park. Delta Force won their first game of the season (Go Delta!), despite the fact that they only had about two-thirds of their normal squad. Fact was they only had 10 players (the normal amount on the field at any time) evenly divided between men and women (a mixed couple team layout, each team required to put roughly half of each on a game’s lineup). They played their best game of the season winning 5-2.

One of the principle players absent last evening was watching his daughter’s last lacrosse game (I think she’s in middle school, but I get confused about kid ages…). Also in the park were a couple of adult softball leagues (the park has 6 diamonds). The city of Lansing also has a class A Minor League baseball team affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays and nearby an American Professional Soccer team (designated a Tier 4 league, for whatever that means). Michigan State University is here (technically in East Lansing, but it meets CEFGW* standards) to provide Big 10 level excitement. There’s dozens of high schools in the area, each with the normal regimen of sport teams. And each of the dozens of golf courses and bowling alleys in the area have their allotment of leagues, bringing together testosterone, alcohol, and competition nightly.

So, on any given day, I have dozens of choices where to go to witness competition in the realm of physical battle. From the youngest T-Ball game to the highest echelon of college/semi-pro sports I can spectate to the point of exhaustion. (Please note, I do not consider myself a “fan” as I don’t have a close enough relationship with any of the teams to generate the rabid, zealous devotion that the shortened form of the word “fanatic” requires. Thus the term spectator.)

So, has it always been this way, or am I just more sensitive to the multiplex draws of sports participation in my waning years? Thinking back to my childhood, it was typical (expected?) for young boys to play little-league baseball. High school sports involved baseball, football, track and field, wrestling, and (in the larger schools) swimming. (Oh, yeah, there was basketball, too, but I have a serious aversion to the game so it slipped my mind there for a moment.) My mom’s family were avid bowlers so she was on a league and my dad played golf weekly on a team with a couple of co-workers. Flint (a city about 40 miles away from home) had a minor league hockey team and some of my dad’s friends played “slow-puck” hockey (no serious violence allowed, as the average player age was 40ish), but apart from these examples following sports was done on the radio, listening to teams far away.

A common complaint heard frequently in my circle of influence is “we can’t attend the [INSERT MEETING NAME HERE] because [INSERT CHILD NAME HERE] has a [INSERT SPORT EVENT HERE] game…” followed by a sigh. These people don’t (necessarily) have substantially more children than the families in my youth, but it appears there are SIGNIFICANTLY more opportunities for participation than ever before. I suspect the reason our economy is as robust as it appears to be is simply the result of purchasing vehicles for transporting kids to and from their sporting activities (and the resultant petrol purchases propelling these mini-vans). As I recall, I only had two games a week and maybe as many practices, but I rode my bicycle to and from these events. Twice a season my parents would come to see a game (was OK with that, as I was a horrible player overall, but the team ice cream cone treat afterward made it worth while).

Raising my son in the 90’s was trips to the swim meets, but since practice was at the school and he was there daily anyway there was no extra involvement. It didn’t feel substantially more excessive than my youth. Apparently that changed with the incoming new millennium…

With my disability/mobility issues there are really few options available to me at this time to “participate” in sports, so I am content to spectate. I just need to figure out how to assess and prioritize which events I will be attending to capitalize on my limited resources. Usually, I decline most offers to attend (which frees up about 22 evening hours a week) but have accepted the role of nominal mascot for the kickball team.

There’s really not anything on TV on Wednesday nights anyway….

Phred

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(*Close Enough For Government Work)

A Century Of Writing (Days)

Well, even though this is late, it is a recognition of a milestone in my writing career. On May the 20th, two monumental events occurred: David Letterman hosted his last show of Late Night with David Letterman, and 100 days had passed since starting this blog.

Of the two, the TV event was certainly the more celebrated and recognized. In my life, however, the passing of time and the point that I am still here, plugging away at the keyboard is significantly more important. Frankly, I had serious doubts about the chances of keeping to a new habitual behavior for more than a couple of weeks. (This is the principle reason that I stopped making “New Year’s Resolutions” half a decade ago. Now I do “New Year’s Intentions” to suggest I already know I will probably fail before the year…quarter…month…week…day…hour passes.)

But now I have kept up for nearly a third of a year. (OK, OK, I confess to having failed in my 3-a-week just now, but I claim extenuating circumstances and the need to assist my kids in a galaxy city far, far away….) What an exciting accomplishment, and a wild ride as well. I crunched the numbers from the stats page (goes back to my days as an analyst and statistician) and found a few interesting things.

So far, I have had 355 visitors to the site and altogether they viewed 704 pages. The bulk of the visitors came from the U.S.A. (which is to be expected) but there were an additional 13 countries listed (in alphabetical order: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia,  Pakistan, Romania, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom). Statistics appear for 64 different pages and posts (there are a few missing, but they may be linked pages that are not counted) and total views range from 1 to 33 each (the home page has 195 views by itself).

Is this significant information, useful, or even relevant? Not to most, for sure, but to me it is a fascinating glimpse of the world at large and my (microscopic) part within it. In many ways it has already exceeded my wildest expectations. It is (at the very least) sufficient to keep going for (at least) another third of a year and see what the numbers show then.

Thanks to all who have participated and keep checking in…

Phred

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