Friday, December 12, 2008

Things I don't understand #63...

...How many times, and how many ways, the BCS can screw up one of the greatest sports.

I can't believe that after all these years, it's only getting worse. As a bonus, this year it was actually the team I support that got screwed (Yea BCS!). It's just almost too painful to discuss. But I'm going to go through it all, yet again. Main point: There should be a playoff in college football. Sub points: This is just really ridiculous; You've got to have 16 teams; All opposing arguments are completely ludicrous and are rendered void on a yearly basis.

I got to thinking the other day about if you met a guy who recently moved to the U.S., and who also was a big sports fan. He recognized the huge popularity of college football, yet was confused about the process of finding a champion. Imagine in your mind that scenario and then imagine as you begin your explanation. How convoluted does it sound after 30 seconds? How foolish do you feel after 60? The BCS is basically like a boxing match going to the judges if most of the judges didn't actually watch the fight but just looked at the punching stats the next day and then combined that with the boxers' reputations. I imagine the foreigner replying with one word, "Preposterous!" And that's what it is. We need a playoff system.

The playoff system should be 16 teams because there are 11 conferences and 120 teams. Obviously everyone can't play everyone else, so a weeding out process must be employed. I would eliminate any conference champion with more than 4 losses (just in case one of those "other" conference champs goes 6-6 or somethin') and then leave the empty slots to be filled with at-large bids. If you don't include all the conferences you leave a major problem unsolved. That being that every team in the top division should start the year with a chance at winning a championship. Currently, this is not true. Ask Utah and Boise St. And limiting it to 8 teams would still make that likely. Plus, you still risk leaving out teams with legitimate arguments. This year being a prime example. Either Boise St. at 12-0 or Penn St. at 11-1 would be left out of a 8-team playoff. And even with 16 teams, it is still one of the most exclusive post-seasons in sports. So 16 it is.

Now a response to the various arguments for the current system (really, what are these people thinking...or whose dole are they on?). #1) "Each week is a playoff." Really? Like the week Texas played OU? Or the week Florida lost AT HOME to a pedestrian Ole' Miss? What about the week that Boise St. lost? Oh wait, they didn't. So they won their "playoff" yet somehow find themselves playing in the...(you don't even know what bowl they're in do you? You're never gonna believe this...) the Ponsietta Bowl. I bet you don't even know where it's played.
#2) "That would be too many games and these are student athletes." Seriously? If a playoff were introduced, the regular season would most likely return to 11 games instead of 12. That means the two teams that make it to the championship would play 15 games. OU and Florida will both end up playing 14 games this year. Plus, every other level of the NCAA has a playoff. So I think they can handle it. #3) "A playoff would make games less important or exciting." Sure, OU vs. OSU did have drama, along with Florida vs. Alabama. But what about all those good teams that had been eliminated from championship contention and were just playing out the string? And honestly, OU vs. OSU would have retained much of its importance because OSU would have been playing for their playoff lives instead of just hoping to ruin OU's title run. The same for Florida-Florida St., or Georgia-Georgia Tech, or Ohio St.-Mich, or Penn St.-Mich St., or BYU-Utah, get my drift? For every game that the stakes are reduced there a multiple games, no, make that teams that all the sudden become relevant with the introduction of a playoff. So, as you can see, those objections are dumb.

Now, we get to look at this year's mythical bracket. I decided to make it easier on myself and just use the last set of rankings and the winners from the conference championship games. This may seem like a no-brainer to you, but because I'm convinced that a playoff would mean the end of such games, I've ignored them in the past. But I'm going for less mental gymnastics and taking the easy way out. Sorry. Here we go. Just imagine how glorious it would be if instead of switching our attention to basketball this week we were gearing up for a tournament that sported this bracket of potential match-ups. FYI's: For the first time in 5 years, the Sun Belt winner actually qualifies, thusly Okla. St or Georgia Tech (depending on if there was a cap of 3 teams per conference) find themselves on the outside looking in. And the Mt. West conference gets 2 teams in while the Pac 10 gets 1 (ouch).
(1) Oklahoma - Big 12 Champ (BCS #1)
(16) Troy - Sun Belt Champ (NR)

(8) Penn St. - Big 10 Champ (#8)
(9) Boise St. - WAC Champ (#9)

(5) USC - Pac 10 Champ (#5)
(12) Cincinnati - Big East Champ (#12)

(4) Alabama - At large (#4)
(13) Va. Tech - ACC Champ (#19)

(3) Texas - At large (#3)
(14) E. Carolina - C-USA Champ (NR)

(6) Utah - Mountain West Champ (#6)
(11) TCU - At large (#11)

(7) Texas Tech - At large (#7)
(10) Ohio St. - At large (#10)

(2) Florida - SEC Champ (#2)
(15) Buffalo - MAC Champ (NR)

BTW, ESPN has a feature where you can simulate a 16 team playoff. It doesn't have all the teams available, but it's still kinda cool to look at.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Things I don't understand #62

...How I can live in a world where this is an option.

Not for me, but you know, for people in general. So, I'm sitting in front of the TV one night...actually, I was sitting at the laptop at the table with the TV in the background but in view. I had it on ESPN (shocker) and I'm guessing it was later in the evening. Anyhoo, I'm sure I was doing something really important like checking Facebook or looking for music or making vital fantasy football moves (not blogging, though; definitely not blogging) when some commercial caught my eye (I can also see my TV in a mirror so as to not have to do such exhausting things as turning my head).

It started out showing a couple who were very obviously in the process of some very personal interaction. A phrase flashes on screen, "These people are married." More images of possible actions one might take if they found themselves in a hotel room with a scantily clad female, then a second phrase. "But not to each other." At this point, the commercial had my full attention. I sat there staring at the screen. Mainly, I was waiting for the punch-line. It had to be some joke, some funny beer ad. Surely, they couldn't be supporting one cheating on their marriage, breaking one's vows. But no punch-line came. Instead, just a web address and then a slogan: "Life is short. Have an affair." I sat there dazed and agape. Despite the lack of a comical ending, I still thought this might be a joke...or more of an elaborate ruse. A prank. So I went to the site. And I quickly came to the conclusion that this was real.

They claim to have over 2.3 million members of their "dating service". But alas, not many single ones (poor me). According to their faq(why do I find it so odd that they have a faq) if you're single, "you're probably going to have to try a little harder." You see, I don't have as much to lose and therefore can't be a dating service for people looking to break one of God's "Big Ten". So I guess if you're making a list or reasons for me to get married or not, this can be added to both sides of the ledger. Sure, you're more likely to be cheated on, but now you find yourself eligible for additional "dating" options. So just in case you still think I'm making this up, I've added the commercial below for your viewing pleasure. Life is short...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Things I don't understand #61...

...How both those pictures could possibly be me.

Yeah, this. Throughout the life of this here blog, I've tried to stay away from this particular topic, for whatever reason. But after numerous requests from various sources(and the fact that topics sometimes are hard to come by) I decided to relent. Many of you know this story, as you lived it with me, but just in case...

Both pictures are indeed of me. The first from about 8-10 years ago (I really don't remember) and second is much more recent. So yeah, I was a fatty. Bordering on morbidly obese (High Five, Wendy's!). About 7 years ago(maybe 8?), my roommate at the time (Eric) wanted to join a health club, but he didn't want to go check it out by himself. So I agreed to go with him. Next thing I know, I'm also a member of a health club. I think the high fees combined with the fact that earlier that year I had been told by a doctor it'd be a good idea to drop a few, ensured that I would actually use the membership.

Use it I did, pretty much 6 days a week, at least. I'll spare you the stories of peeing blood, realizing the red stuff on my towel was coming from my shirt which was actually blood coming from me, and the like; but suffice it to say I did not do it half-heartedly. Now despite the fact that I was at the club 6-7 days a week, sometimes for up to 2 hours, I never grew to like it. Even though I run several times a week, I have never experienced "runner's high". And never have I looked forward to working out. The one thing I did like? The results. That I actually knew the efficacy of what I was doing helped a lot. So over the course of about a year and a half to 2 years, I went from (this is fairly embarrassing) about 320 lbs. to a low of 191. I now sit at a smidge over 200. Of course, the years since have seen me yo-yo a little. But as much as I don't know how I let it get that bad, I know I will never let it happen again.

A couple of random observations from a guy who used to be really fat. One, after losing weight, you get treated better. I still remember one of the first times I was in a department store after a precipitous loss in weight. I had never been asked if I needed help that many times in my life. I actually looked around for hidden cameras, thinking it must be some sort of joke. It wasn't, that's how the non-fat(or I guess I should say less fat, because I'm still pretty big) are treated. Also, you've never seen disappointment until you've had to tell a person the bad news that the way to loose weight is to eat less and exercise more. Seriously, once someone finds out or just gets up the gumption to ask how you did it, they look at you like you're the Wizard of Oz (pre-curtain-pulling) because you've obviously been let in on one of the great secrets of the universe. But when they find out the uncomplicated yet difficult truth, they look like you just notified them of Santa's questionable existence. I now have a pat answer for when I get such a question. I warn said person they probably won't like it, and then I tell them, "I got off my fat butt, and stopped stuffing my fat face." Although, the more you're off your butt, the more face-stuffing you can still enjoy, but you know what I mean.

Oh, and I should also warn you, since I once was fat I retain my license to make fun of fat people. I can freely roll my eyes when I hear excuses that include phrases like "poor metabolism" and "big boned". Sure there's some truth to them, but in the end, the thing on the opposite end of the fork from the food is you--a sentient, free-willed being. Oddly enough, I used to think I was big boned. Until I did the wrist test, and realized I wasn't big boned...I was fat. Finally, one last story of post-fatdom. Not being able to walk around a family reunion anonymously; or the time I ran into a guy I grew up with, and he just blew me off because he had no idea who that guy was who knew his name. No, this occurred at the aforementioned health club.

At this point(year 3 as a club member), I had lost all the weight I was going to lose and was in maintenance mode. Well, as anyone who's ever been a member of a health club knows, you get to where you recognize the regulars, whether you're an introvert like me and do everything possible not to talk to them or not, you still find yourself exchanging numerous knowing nods. Well, on this day, one or the other regulars--a 50-ish guy in really good shape--who I had never shared a single word with approaches me at the water fountain and what resulted is the following exchange:
Not me: Hey, doing ok?
Me: Yeah, good. How are you.
Not me: Fine. So you've lost quite a bit of weight haven't you?
Me: Yeah, you could say that.
Not me: Yeah, you're a bit of a rock star around here. Everybody's amazed how well you've done. How much did you lose?
Me: Well, actually it was about 100 pounds, maybe a little more.
Not me: Man! That's great! Yeah, you were a bit of a porker, but now you look great!
Me: (smile creeps across my face as I realize that the truth just leaked out) Yeah, I guess I was a porker.
Not me: Well good job man. I just wanted to let you know people noticed your hard work.
Me: Thanks. (Still wearing somewhat quizzical smile)

That was the first and last time I ever talked to him. And now you know the famous "Porker story".

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Things I don't understand #60...

...How history keeps repeating.

So we ran that dumb race again. Obviously, someone brought a camera this time. Also, we ran a complete mile (Yeah us!). Two new people showed up (Andrea and Tommy). And two other people wussed out (Eric and Patrick). And we ran at a different track (J.J. Pearce vs. SMU). So all those things were different. But unfortunately, one important detail remained the same.

Bryan still won.

I didn't let him get away until the second lap, though. So that's something. But get away he did. And I'm still a tad unclear how it happened, but that doesn't really matter now. It really bothers me that I continue to allow him to back up his braggadocio, but what's a big, fat, slow, white guy supposed to do? So here are the final times as precisely recorded by our official time keeper, Kurt (Andrea's husband):
Bryan - 5:53:68
Jason - 6:13:77
Andrea - 6:29.86
Tommy - 7:02:90

Monday, November 10, 2008

Things I don't understand #59...

...How something that looks like that could be one to the most perfect dishes I've ever enjoyed.

* Warning * Vegetarians Beware!!! * Warning *
What you are looking at is a dish named the "Belfast Burger Bomb", or just "The Bomb" to us insiders. Despite it's somewhat irreverent European name, it's birthplace is actually the very non-European suburb of Frisco, TX, at a very fake pub called the Irish Rover. This "burger" changed my life. I put that in quotes because its construction puts the categorization of burger into question. Here's how it's built. A bottom bun. A good quality patty of beef. Next(This is where things get tricked up a bit), comes a big pile of french fries. Yeah, I know. Then, it is topped with a very nice version of chili. And finally, cheese is added with no regard for human life and melted perfectly. Yes it is a heart attack waiting to happen. And yes, it is glorious.

What seems to make it so perfect, is that it's the first chili burger that actually delivers on its potential. It seems almost anyone who likes burgers and likes chili has at some point succumbed to the raised skirt and perfumed inner thigh of the chili burger only to be disappointed. I think it's because the ingredients combine to overwhelm the taste buds in a messy, meaty overload. I think the key for "the Bomb" is the fries. It acts as the perfect mellowing agent and allows you to complete the dish...and then be overcome by a meaty euphoria. If you haven't had it, I'm sure you think I'm crazy. But this dish makes me want to open a restaurant just so I can make it and serve it to others.

Oddly enough, it was discovered on accident. Bryan and I were at the Rover as is our custom after many a FC Dallas game. He had mentioned he wanted to eat light, and I began scouring the menu. When I saw it, I suggested it immediately, knowing Bryan's true temptress, chili, and that the opposite of light had to be something called the "Belfast Burger Bomb". I figured he would just deliver a failed smile and order something featuring grilled chicken. Well, obviously he didn't because neither one of us has ordered anything different in the almost year since that fateful night when after taking the first bite he looked at me with tear filled eyes and said, "Thank you, this is great." So I guess I should thank God for Bryan's weakness of the flesh.

P.s. Speaking of burgers. It has been decided that something will be brought back to life. Several years ago, my roommates and I embarked on a quest to find the best local burger place. Local being the Dallas area. After about 2 years of having a burger for lunch almost every Saturday, we stopped. Mainly because we felt we had exhausted all the possibilities. But now it has returned. So if the thought of massive quanta of burgers interests you (or just hanging out with me on a Saturday) you can inspect this site for further info.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Things I don't understand #58...

...Why we continue to play with fire.

That's right, the second round of a one mile race now being affectionately (yet ironically) tagged as "The Magnificent Mile" will be run Saturday morning at 9 A.M. The first time around there were four of us, which really seemed like way too many people for me likely to lose to. Now all we've done is added two more people to assume the role of my defeater. Even better is one of them is a girl. And all indications are she's not slow. BTW, I'll still be the biggest and oldest person making their way around that track. I can't wait...

Now if you recall how the first race went down, Bryan took off and we never really got close to him again. He has already promised that he will attempt to repeat that feat, just at a quicker pace this time. This is problematic for me, as my strategy had been not to let Bryan out of arm's reach this time around. And now I have to worry about if I blow it out too soon, I'm going to hit the wall just as some sprightly chick goes flying by me. Plus, there's always the threat that this will all be more than my fragile form can take and I'll just drop dead, right then and there. This is serious.

The one thing I can promise this time around is that we will run a full mile...Or 1600 meters...or four full know what I mean. It'll be official...or at least more official. I've even heard the timekeeper might not be blind this time. Once again, I ask for your prayers that I might live to tell about it. And by all means, if you like to witness this first-hand, be at the J.J. Pearce track in Richardson by 9. Even better, bring your running shoes. Registration is still open.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Things I don't understand #57...

...Why I bother at getting and/or staying in shape.

As you may or may not know, I am single... a.k.a. unmarried (sorry Mom). And if we're all being honest here (you look pretty honest), I'll admit that I'm not totally against the idea of being married someday...or at least finding some human of the female persuasion that's willing to admit she might be romantically linked to me. But sadly, no luck. So several years ago, after taking a very honest and extensive self-evaluation I realized I was way too smart, way too funny, and way too charming (I also scored high marks for humility) that the chink in my armor must be my level of fitness. I took efforts to change that, to varying degrees of success, but that's not the issue here.

You see, last week Manuel Uribe, former world's fattest man, got married. Seriously? So all the running and lifting and exercising and pseudo-healthy eating and fast-food passing and no soft-drink drinking, what's all that for again? Apparently, I could check in at almost 600 pounds and not harm my chances of landing a fairly normal looking chick. I'm sure this is just one more indication that I have no understanding of true love (as if), but come on! He lost almost 50% of his body weight and still tips the scales (more like renders inoperable) at 570 pounds. So before I return to that fabulous porker lifestyle and suggest you buy stock in some of my favorite fast-food establishments, I'd like to talk to all the single ladies out there.

Hey, how you doin'? I'm not trying to get in the way here or anything like that, but I just wanted you to know how your wedding might be different if you marry me instead of your 600 lbs. potential mate:
- I will be able to arrive at the ceremony in a car instead of on the back of a flatbed truck. If you have a flair for the dramatic, I could even arrive on horseback. Try finding a horse to carry your 600lb fiance.
- Instead of wearing a white shirt and a sheet wrapped around my legs, I'll wear pants. Truth be told, I can pull off a pair of flat-front slacks pretty well.
- I'll allow you to put a ring on my finger...because my size exists.
- The aisle will not have to be 8ft. wide to allow the bed I been in for 6 years straight. I'll be able to walk...and stand next to you. Unless you prefer me being rolled in. I'm very accommodating.
- At the reception, there will not be a team of doctors flanked by armed guards positioned between me and the wedding cake at all times.
- No swaying to the music here, we can actually dance. (Though poorly, despite being <500lbs., I am still a white dude.)
- The Guinness Book of World Records will not have a representative present in case the armed guards fail.
- Consummation of the marriage will be physically possible.

So I've included a video just in case you need visual confirmation of what I just told you. And if you're able to get through it without laughing at the ridiculousness of it all, then you're a bigger man than I.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Things I don't understand #56...

...Where I'm going to find my next mancrush. (I know only about 1 and 1/2 of you care about this, but you always have the option of reading your dang own blog.)

Yesterday a transfer was finalized that will send Juan Toja from FC Dallas to Romanian club Steaua Bucuresti. He is was one of my favorite players that I actually got to watch in person on a regular basis. About a year ago, I first revealed my newest mancrush (which has no sexual connotations, it just means that as one man you like and respect another man...and probably wish you were him) and he's already gone. He brought a combination of skill and effort rarely seen on any sports field, maybe especially soccer. But, he wanted to have a chance to play for and against the big clubs, so off to Europe he goes. Now I'm taking applications.

Tony Romo seems like an obvious replacement, but he may just be too obvious.
And I don't want to share my mancrush with basically every guy in the Metroplex. Oh well. Below is a video farewell from Juan with some of his highlights (there's another shorter highlight video if you follow the link to the previous post) that remind me why I loved him...uh, I mean liked and respected him so. So long and via con Dios. We hardly knew you Juan, we hardly knew you.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Things I don't understand #55


You heard me…or read me, I guess it would be. If you don’t know what a bluetool is, even with the assistance of the illustration, we should probably first make sure you aren’t one. If you own a handy, dandy wireless earpiece(aka, Bluetooth headset) for your handy, dandy wireless phone you are well on your way. But you’re not necessarily all the way there. Consider these questions seriously.
Do you ever, while wearing your HDWE(Handy, Dandy Wireless Earpiece), talk on it in public with neither hand occupied by anything? Or really either hand still free?

Do you ever wear your HDWE when not making or taking a phone call? You know, just in case. Wondering around the mall, the office, the ballpark with a little metal/plastic blinky thing hanging on your ear?

Do you ever miss calls because you were unable to properly affix your HDWE before it stopped ringing? Because why talk on the phone if you’re not talking on your HDWE?

Do you ever covet other people’s HDWE’s and long to have their superior technology/style adorning your lobes?

If you answered yes… if you even had to think about whether answering in the negative would be dishonest to God and yourself, then you are probably a bluetool.

I don’t know how to say this, but I don’t get you. You do realize that a piece of shiny metal/plastic dangling off the side of your head looks ridiculous, don’t you? Especially if it blinks. Please tell me it doesn’t blink. And you do realize that walking around in public and appearing to talk out loud to yourself or no one in particular makes you look crazy, don’t you? Especially if you talk with your hands, and they’re both empty. I just don’t get the need to be double wirelessly connected whether my hands are full of irreplaceable things/small humans or not. Maybe I’m just not important enough. Maybe if I was constantly inundated with such consequential communiqué, I too would recognize the need to eschew manual phone manipulation to ensure I was always available to those who need me. But I can barely justify having a cell phone half the time, much less the need to be able to participate in a jujitsu match while simultaneously starting a prayer chain. But as in most cases, that’s just me.

Oh, and if you have so become one with your HDWE that you either refuse or completely forget to remove it for an engagement photo that could be widely dispersed, then you my friend are a Bluetool.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Things I don't understand #54

...How people usually look how they sound.

Really, how is it that somehow our vocal cords tend to find a way to match up with our faces? I’m not saying that you can distinguish the eye color of the guy taking your order in the drive-thru or the shapeliness of the girl’s legs who took your reservation, but you can get a general idea of attractiveness. This struck me recently as I began working in this new locale(Birmingham…keep up, already). I walked into an office where cubicles were in use, and after a while I heard a female voice. I was horrified. I almost made a face, but my superior ability to appear emotionless under any circumstance kicked in. I was sure I did not want to see the face (or body) whose voice that belonged to. I later found out I was absolutely right. Not to be mean(which is exactly what I’m being, sorry Mom) but the word ogre was the only thing that came to mind. Yeesh.

“But Farky,” you might be saying, “I sometimes hear someone’s voice and imagine them attractive and later meet them only to find them…well, ogre-ish. How do you explain that?” Well, I think this is exactly one of those cases where the exception proves the rule. (Yes, I know most of the time that phrase makes absolutely no sense, but stick with me. What else do you have to do, really?) I would submit that on those occasions where you physically encounter someone after verbally meeting them and find their voice to be incongruent with their visage, you’re surprised. And why would you be surprised if not for the lifetime of previous experience which affirmed your ability to rate attractiveness by sound? You see, we only notice the ones that don’t match, and take the ones that do as status quo…the order of things…normative…expected(really, how can you expect to argue with that many synonyms?).

In any case, it just seems odd that it could be so. And I begin to wonder if our voices start out matching our face or if we somehow affect our voice by our beliefs on how attractive we are. If, unconsciously, we allow our self-image to revise the way we sound? Hmm, I don’t know. You figure it out. I’ve got to go figure out how to sound like Johnny Depp (except when he’s a pirate…ok, maybe when he’s a pirate, too).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Things I don't understand #53...

...that guy.
Are you kidding me? I know I’m probably violating all that we’ve grown to know and love about “Things I don’t understand...”© by having the same subject in two out of three entries, but good grief. Last night Josh Hamilton put on a show… the greatest show in the history of the Home Run Derby. Sure, you’re saying, but who cares about the home run derby? Honestly, most of the time, not even me, bona fide baseball fan. That’s what’s so amazing about it. Not only did I make a point to try to catch the event, but after Hamilton’s first “at bat” I received not one, but two phone calls asking me if I had seen it.

I did. If you didn’t, Hamilton hit a record 28 home runs in the first round. And they just weren’t your garden variety out of the parker. Three went over 500ft. I have no idea how many reached the 3rd deck of Yankee Stadium. It had every person in the stands and all 23 announcers ESPN enlisted for the event oohing and ahhing. Karl Ravich become so drunk over his performance that he predicted Josh would hit one out of the stadium before the night was over. (BTW, that’s never happened before.) But once again, what makes it so amazing is his story. I won’t rehash the whole thing. But if you ignore the whole almost dying because of a drug addiction thing, he was out of the game for over three years. When he left he was minor league single-A ballplayer. He returned from not hitting a pitch for all that time to hitting major league pitching, skipping both double and triple A. That’s just not done. But neither are most of the things that Josh Hamilton ends up doing.

What was remarkable about last night was that Josh Hamilton was able to take a meaningless, fake sporting event and turn it into one those “great moments” in so-and-so history. He made me lean towards the tv to get a better look at his monster shots. He gave me chills. He made me remember what I love about sports, especially baseball.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Things I don't understand #52

…How Birmingham (yes the one in Alabama) became known as “The Magic City”.

Oh yeah. Hi, how’s it going? Yes, I’m sorry. It’s been a while. But I have good reasons...well, reasons anyway. I’ve been away. I’ll run to the bathroom while you guess where... ... ... ...uh, yeah. Alabama. Very near if not completely in Birmingham. It’s lovely here. Almost magical. Yes, it is really called that. Google it or something. I actually didn’t discover this fair burgh’s moniker until my first flight out of here when I happened upon a table full of t-shirts making such a proclamation in a gift shop near my gate. I stared at the table and then took a quick glance around to make sure there weren’t any hidden cameras to catch my reaction. There weren’t.

But here I am, in Birmingham, blogging for you...because I love you that much. Like the good book says:
“...but Jason showed his own love for us in that while we were yet lazy, Jason blogged for us.”

Admittedly, I’m using a very loose paraphrase.

So I’ve been here about a month and I’ve learned some things about Birmingham that might or might not involve magic. It’s not as big as they think it is. Travel time from the airport to my office near downtown is about 8 minutes...from rental lot to parking lot...even taking side streets and never getting on the freeway. As far as traffic goes, they have some, but that’s mainly because if it’s not an interstate it’s probably just two lanes...and all the traffic lights require you to wait 2-5 minutes whether there’s a chance of a car crossing the intersection or not(this will make you scream certain words while in your car). Also, they are not the most adept at merging. I learned after almost inserting my rental car into the trunk of the preceding vehicle twice the first week to assume they will stop inches from the highway (because they will) looking for the all clear before proceeding. Other fun facts...Birmingham has one of, if not the highest murder rates in the country. Random watching of the local news has confirmed this. Let’s see...the choice of restaurants seems limited, and if you do find one, hurry, it’s probably about to close. I found this one I wanted to try, unfortunately I got there at 8:05. It closed at 8. I had another place turn off the lights as I sat in the drive-thru at 8:55. Not exactly a town of night owls, apparently.

So, despite the fact that my search for the magical part of Birmingham is limited and thus inconclusive, I going to actually suggest that some other nicknames might be more apt. Here are some of my suggestions:
Birmingham, the city that sleeps.
Birmingham, not the one in England.
Birmingham, death awaits you.
Birmingham, Bull Connor was probably wrong, our bad.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Things I don't understand #51...

...The sports miracle that is Josh Hamilton.

It's baseball again. And you almost got this last week but, well...stuff happens...I was busy...and sick...and lazy. Anyway, you should probably just go read the cover story in SI this week, but I'll try to give you the Cliff's Notes version. Josh Hamilton is the new center fielder for the Texas Rangers. Acquired in an off-season trade with the Reds, he is now the story of Major League Baseball(thus the cover story).

Nine years ago, out of high-school, he was the top pick in the MLB draft. He was the ultimate 5-tool player (hit for average, hit for power, good glove, good arm, can run like the wind) in a 6"4', 225 lbs. frame. A pure athlete and a natural at the game. Oh, and since he was known to unleash a fastball upwards of 95 mph, he could have also been a pitcher if he wanted to. He was also considered the antithesis of a troubled kid. All was going well until a dump truck smashed the car he was in as his mom drove. The time off because of injury was the impetus for a downward spiral of epic proportions. Coke binges then became the new norm, and by the time he had cleaned up he had been out of baseball for a couple of years.

Josh found a renewed faith in God and an understanding that he's lucky to be alive. He also refuses to carry more than $20 in his wallet at any given time to ensure any temptation doesn't turn into something more. What's miraculous is that it's seems he's lost nothing in his return. After playing only about have the season last year, his numbers this year are staggering(considering he's also making the sometimes difficult transition to another league). His name is found in the same sentence as the phrase "Triple Crown" (leader in HR's, RBI, and Avg.). He's already had several highlight reel catches and he's been compared to Mickey Mantle (that never happens). Did I mention he's on the cover of Sports Illustrated(first Ranger in almost 10 years)? I also got to personally witness one of Hamilton's majestic blasts. It went out into the concourse of the second level(that doesn't happen either). And then after Tuesday's game I read this in the paper about Josh's eighth inning game clinching grand slam:
"I've been having trouble seeing here, and it's been kind of frustrating," said Hamilton, who broke a season-long RBI drought of four games with five RBIs. "I saw the ball leave his hand. It looked like a sinker. I closed my eyes and swung hard. When I opened them back up, it was heading towards the seats."

So apparently not only is he a stud athlete, but he's a Jedi. Not fair! Hitting home runs with your eyes closed should not be allowed. I'm just glad he plays for my team for once. Ah yes, the force is strong with this one.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Things I don't understand #50...

...Why no one talks like my grandfather anymore. (Well, except for my grandfather...and you know, all those like him.)

I could've spent this post celebrating the amazing feat of making it to 50 things, but I won't (you should, but I won't). Instead, I thought I'd reminisce about the sounds of my youth and home. Even though I've removed almost every verbal indicator that I originated not only from Texas(I still use y'all and howdy, but that's about it), but small town Texas (Gainesville by way of Paducah), I still enjoy going home and listening to certain family members talk. And sometimes I just miss hearing the vernacular of my rural upbringing. I think that may be partly do to the fact that I live in the "big city"(Dallas) and find myself constantly surrounded by city slickers, Yankees, or a combo of the two. Conversely, my grandfather(or Pappaw as some might call him) arrived in Texas as a small child in a covered wagon(and yes, he's one of those grandfathers who's nice to pretty much everyone and can fix pretty much anything).

Despite the fact that we were related, all throughout my childhood and youth it seemed I was always being confronted with the notion that we just talked differently. At times it lead to down right confusion. The first one I really remember is the word "battries". Yes, I know it's not a word. But my grandfather used it all the time. Everything probably just needed new "battries". I was sure I was supposed to know what these were. My only hunch was that he meant batteries, but he was definitely not saying that. I finally got up the nerve to ask my mom, at which point she laughed and confirmed they were, indeed, batteries. I think that only cost me about two years of tension.

Another point of confusion cropped up much later. I worked with my grandfather on a couple of summers off during college. This was also when I discovered my Pappaw liked to talk a lot more when Mammaw(my grandmother) wasn't around, but let's try to keep that between us. Anyway, as he would regale me with tales during our lunch hour, there seemed to be many occasions where someone needed to or should be trying to "get shut of" something. I think it took me approximately one month to first get through the southern twang to verify the words of this phrase and then figure out what it meant. What? Oh, it means to rid yourself of that particular item. But you have no idea how often I sat there repeating(or trying to repeat) that phrase over and over to myself trying to crack the code. It was a great day and quite a relief when I finally did "get shut of" that confoundedness.

Just in case you want to feed my nostalgia(maybe in celebration of 50 affiliated posts? I don't know) I thought I'd give you a list of some other words and phrases that I used to hear quite often, but now hardly ever hear (unless I'm trying to be funny or ironic). I'll also try to give a definition or maybe an example in case you're a Yankee so confused by my southern ways.
"Betcha a coke" - I was always confused about why we had to bet a coke to settle a disagreement(and no, coke should not be capitalized, because that meant any soft drink)

Directly - with out delay. Ex. "He found out his wife was home waitin' on him and got out of there directly."

Ornery - stubborn with a touch grouchiness. Ex. "I tried to get Jason whatever he wanted to eat, but he was mad and got ornery and down right refused to touch his food."

Piddlin'- doing nothing in particular, wasting time. Ex. "I told him to have the yard done by the time I got back; but when I did, he was just out there roaming around picking up rocks...just piddlin."

Plumb - completely. Ex. "I meant to bring you the tickets, but I plumb forgot."

Reckon - guess, figure, estimate. Ex. "When I left he wasn't there, I reckon he'll make it home o.k."

Everwhichway - in any or all directions or methods. Ex. "That firecracker went off behind him, and he went everwhichway at once."

Gully washer - extended storm or downpour. Ex. "The weatherman said it wouldn't rain, but instead it came a gully washer."

Light out - move quickly, leave with haste. Ex. "That tomcat heard that dog bark and he lit out of there like he was on fire."

Now if I just had some cream gravy...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Things I don't understand #49...

...How this guy helped produce a perfectly beautiful baby girl.

Seriously. Look at him. How did he ever pass the qualification tests to be allowed to sire offspring? What's that? There's not a test? That is a problem. So once again the government can't be trusted. What's new? So where was God? Isn't there some sort of angelic monitoring system in place? I imagine some being with wings and a halo standing in the background with a ticker-tape, reading off different world events while God listens as He does His other godly stuff. "Johnny stole a bike, oil went up again, Barb stopped a fight, flood in Tunisia, Hillary actually thinks she'll be President, Yankees lost, Bryan's going to be a father..." Shouldn't that have caused His Heavenly Father to raise an omnipotent eyebrow and say, "Could you repeat that last one?" And then immediately get the accountants ready for an internal audit of the earthly oversight department?

But alas, what's done is done. And it's nothing short of a miracle. Truly, first he got a girl much more attractive than himself to marry him. Ensuring not only that his progeny would not be saddled with his, ahem, striking looks; but that there would be at least one capable parent in the household. So we're all thankful for that. But the need for prayers has really just begun. And know that this is obviously a joke...for the most part. I really don't know what the baby's going to think when that face keeps trying to comfort her at night. After a while he might actually succeed, and I'm sure she'll be ok. But that doesn't mean that as I sat there today holding 7 pound, 2 ounce Hayden a mere 13 hours after she was born that I didn't find myself looking at her, then looking at her dad and shaking my head as I thought, "He had a hand in this." It must really mean that anything is possible. And that there are miracles. And some things you just don't need to understand.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Things I don't understand #48...

...Why I don't recycle more.

You might take from that first sentence that I'm about to regale you with regrets about not taking proper care of our dear Mother Earth. This ain't that. I'm not saying I probably don't need to do it, it's just not happening today. What this is is just an excuse for me to basically reprint an old post (Don't make that face). Luckily, I've decided to revisit what is most likely my most popular post ever. I guess I could just provide a link, but I know most of you are too lazy and wouldn't read it if you actually had to leave this page, thus the reprint. Plus, if you've joined us in the subsequent 2 years since it's original posting this re-run will be brand new to you. Either way, I think it's worth another reading (of course I do, it's my blog).

As a reminder, a few notes.
#1) I used to go to a singles only Sunday School class.
#2) When I say 'Gay', I don't mean homo-sexual. I just mean...well...stuff like this. Things that make others question your manhood. That's why it could never apply to women.
#3) This is an actual email.
#4) Yes, I know I'm still mean.
I occasionally get email from my old Sunday school class. Most of them get deleted. Some get read just enough to see there's no reason not to delete them immediately. Some...some go down in the "You really need a blog hall of fame". This particular one marries that feat (rock me!) with an entry into the "Gayest e-mail hall of fame". So, as you can see I'm about to do something very mean. I am about to make fun of an e-mail sent to me via my Sunday School class. But, as I said previously, God should not allow me to be tempted in such ways. I will always fail. I will try to point out all the ways that this email is gay, which is kind of ironic considering the subject of the email. Without further delay, here's the email with the subject of "I'm engaged" (names have been changed in a feeble and half-arsed attempt to protect the innocent).
Hey folks! I'm in Illinois right now, kind of hanging out with my parents for a week or two while I pound madly away at my dissertation all day. Anyway, I'm engaged!!!!
Sending an email announcing your engagement: GAY
Last Saturday was the SPECIAL day. I had picked FEMALE up from Indiana University in Bloomington the weekend before, and we'd spent the week, her spring break, rather quietly, hanging out with my parents (this was HER idea--she loves my parents). Finally Saturday arrived, which I'd told her would be special. She suspected something was up, but she didn't know much more than that.

It was destined to be a star-filled day.
That sentence: GAY
In the morning, I took her to Chicago's Adler Planetarium, which overlooks Lake Michigan. On the way there, we read from my field guide to the constellations. The cover of the book features a depiction of Ursa Major, the big bear. Her nickname for me is "Bear," so we had a little laugh about that.
Cute nickname talk: GAY
The planetarium was SO much fun.
SO much? : GAY
It's located on Lake Michigan, so it has a breathtaking vista which we really enjoyed. And because we're both museum lovers, we soaked in learning the whole day. For us, an ideal day!
Ending sentences with exclamation marks: GAY

The museum closed at 4:30, and as it was closing, the cafe area began hosting a wedding reception. So love was already in the air. :)
That sentence: VERY GAY
Use of emoticons: GAY
I then took her to this incredibly deluxe restaurant located on the top floor of the Hancock Building, one of Chicago's tallest skyscrapers. The reservations were for 5:30pm, so we were there in time to see the sunset blazing on Chicago's skyline as we enjoyed some EXTREMELY gourmet fare. I also had a bag of Godiva Chocolates with me, which I'd picked up from Northpark Mall.
Describing not only the brand of chocolate, but where it was purchased: GAY.
A week ago, I told her I had a surprise for her, but I wanted to throw her off the scent by telling her she could EAT the surprise (so she'd thing it wasn't a ring). The bag was part of the ruse. She didn't know there was a ring stashed in the bottom.
Thinking your fiance is actually falling for the "ruse": GAY

The plan was to eat our after-dinner chocolates somewhere special--that's all she knew. Well the FULL plan was to walk a block away to Watertower Place, where a horse-drawn carriage awaited us. Imagine my shock to find that it was physically impossible to cross the street to our carriage--an anti-war parade was blocking the way! On the spur of the moment, I whisked her into WaterTower Mall. Thankfully, a few minutes later, the parade had passed.
Getting all worked over a possible minor departure of plans: GAY
However, there was another hitch in the plan. I had arranged to have the carriage bring us to Navy Pier, which is right on Lake Michigan. (Navy Pier is like a cross between an old-school theme park and a high-tech entertainment venue that hosts plays, etc.)
Navy Pier (despite the name): GAY
However, though the parade had passed, the street itself was still virtually closed! And it stood between us and the Pier. I quickly suggested that we spend some time looking at books in a really deluxe Borders Bookstore
Overuse of the word deluxe, especially describing a chain bookstore: GAY
that's right on Michigan Avenue. (Sidenote: Michigan Avenue, a.k.a. the Magnificent Mile, is Chicago's version of 5th Avenue in New York.)
Sidenotes: GAY
Finally I slipped away from FEMALE in the bookstore, discovered that the street was now clear, and arranged to have the carriage take us down. Then I returned to FEMALE. She thought we were headed home. Instead, I brought her inside a beautiful horse-drawn carriage! Clop-clop-clop went the horse as we headed toward our mystery destination.
Onomatopoeic description of carriage ride: GAY
Gradually our goal was revealed to her: Navy Pier, where we'd had so much fun together last summer!
Did I mention the exclamation marks? : Still GAY
We enjoyed the lights, but primarily we headed to a secluded sandy beach just north of the Pier that we had enjoyed some months ago. As we approached the lapping waves of Lake Michigan, we looked up at the stars we had studied earlier in the day. Again I pointed out Ursa Major, the great bear. I then gave her a special chocolate from the bag, and as she was taking it out of its special container, I held her and said, "FEMALE, you can see that the sky has a bear... but you don't! FEMALE, could I be your bear??
Do you really need me to tell you? : Super GAY
FEMALE [getting down on one knee and opening up the case with the ring], would you marry me??" Angels appeared overhead and rejoiced (I think, kind of fuzzy after this) as FEMALE wept and we held each other!
The phrase "we held each other": GAY
A long, romantic ride back in the carriage followed, and our drive back to Morris. As we neared home, we opened a box of Godiva Chocolates. As FEMALE bit into the first one, I began playing a CD I'd burned while still home in Dallas. It was a compilation of "our songs," first Sinatra's "I've Got You Under My Skin," then Louis Armstrong's "Only You," and finally Judy Garland singing, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
The compilation: GAY
Judy Garland: Very GAY
I'd been singing these songs to her all week, so it was the culmination of days of preparation.
A week of those songs...being sung: GAY

It was too magical to go back home right away, so we went to a nearby park which is situated right on the Illinois river.
"Too magical"?: GAY
It was deserted and romantic. We opened the doors of the car, cranked up the music, and danced there in the dark next to the river, to the lilting rhythms of Sinatra.
Erroneously ascribing "rhythms" to Sinatra: GAY
The evening's finale came after we got home. I decided to wash FEMALE's feet. (Thanks for the idea, Alana!) I sat her down on her bed, brought in a special bowl and towel, and washed her feet, as an emblem of the life of service I would live for her, loving her as Christ loved the church!
My faith in God precludes me from commenting on the washing of feet thing

I think we did some kissing after that. Anyway, the bottom line is... I popped the question, and FEMALE said Yes!!! :)
Triple exclamation, emoticon : GAY and GAY

You're welcome and I'm sorry...again.

...and again. But not that sorry.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Things I don't understand #47...

...How anyone could watch this and keep a straight face...Or how anyone ever takes this station's "news" seriously...Or why this "reporter" would ever be willing to show his face in public again...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Things I don't understand #46...

...What good shaving cream is actually serving.

Let me first say, I hate shaving. I mean I really hate it. Of course--you might reply--is there anyone who actually likes it? Probably not. Men hate it. Women hate it. I still remember a disagreement I had with a girl in college where she posited that shaving for women was worse (i.e. legs) because of the additional surface area. My rebuttal was, "I'm putting a blade up to my face!" Her subsequent points were all met with the same reply, "It's my face," as I pointed to my mug. After the third time she finally said, "O.k., maybe you're right." No amount of PowerGlide blades or comfort guards or soothing strips will ever make it an enjoyable experience. Have I mentioned I hate shaving? So much that even at my advanced age, I still don't shave everyday. Since I've been blessed with slow-growing facial hair that is of a lighter shade I assume that some people might think I just have early-onset-five-o'clock-shadow on days that I don't shave. For those of you out there that might have thought that...HA! Joke's on you, sucker! Anyway, back to me.

In any case, for all those years (at least on the days I actually conceded to shaving) I used some sort of shaving cream or gel. Obviously, early on it was the classic type that's pictured above. But then there were supposed advances in shaving technology, and we had the option of the gel that turned into a frothy cream when friction was applied (Let it go). I said 'used' because a couple of weeks ago I ran out and didn't, for whatever reason, buy a new can of shaving gel. I just used regular old soap. And you know what? I didn't notice a difference. Not one. Not even a little bit. I went along in my ignorance and contentedness until a couple of days ago when out of no where a free can of not just gel, but HydraGel, shows up in my mailbox. Plus, it was ultra-sensitive with aloe and vitamin E. Because after all, who needs sensitive gel more than a sensitive guy like me? I took this as a sign from God that maybe I did need to be using some sort of specific-purpose-type-shaving-product on my face when shaving and starting using it. It was then that I realized there was a noticeable difference when I used a cream and when I didn't. And that was when I did, my face felt sort of dry and sore all day. And it made me thirsty (Yes, I know I'm weird. This is not a news flash.) At least on days when I used the soap, I didn't feel like every drop of moisture had been sucked from my face. The only possible enhancement I can think of from using the shaving gel is that maybe it makes my face smell better (Not that anyone probably gets close enough to notice). So unless I get barraged by women saying that they can't live without guys walking around with the faint aroma of shaving product emitting from their faces, my days of dropping coin on the stuff may be over. I've heard that shaving cream's lack of efficacy is because most creams and gels are composed mainly of alcohol or some similar component, and that a more effective product would be made with large amounts of glycerin. That may be true, but I'm starting to think that the only way to get your face not to feel like you've just run a sharp(hopefully) blade over it is not actually run a blade over it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Things I don't understand #45...

...How you're supposed to stop watching Braveheart once you start.

Sorry for my temporary absence...I was...uh...busy. Yeah, let's go with that. I would say I'll make it up to you, but who are we kidding? We both know I'll just disappoint you. So day last week, after watching the requisite number of sporting events, I'm laying on the couch telling myself I'm tired and it's time to go to bed (both of which were true). But unfortunately, I was also giving the channels one last tour before turning in. And what do I find? No, not the sex lady...or the magic bullet infomercial...or ONE...MILLION...DOLLARS...(you're not taking this seriously, remember the first line?). Yes, it was Braveheart, just 10 minutes in and in beautiful HD (Mwuh, I love you HD). Because I'm quite familiar with the movie, missing the first few minutes was no problem. Me looking at the clock and adding 2 and half hours to it to find when I would make it to bed if I stayed to the end should have been. But William Wallace had just walked back into the village and been challenged to a rock throwing contest by his boyhood friend and then walked up to his first and only true love, Murron. I had no choice. I was screwed.

What followed was movie greatness(obviously). I mean, how can you not love the crazy Irishman who talks to God? "The Almighty tells me he can get me out of this mess, but he's pretty sure you're f***ed." Or that one old man that gets wounded in every possible way (including the loss of his left hand) but just won't die? The great battle scenes. Wallace picking fights with bigger armies; "Here are Scotland's terms. Lower your flags, and march straight back to England, stopping at every home you pass by to beg forgiveness for 100 years of theft, rape, and murder. Do that and your men shall live. Do it not, and every one of you will die today." The maxims like, "Every man dies. Not every man truly lives," and all those great speeches about freedom:
Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you'll live -- at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!!!

Everyone saying, "Aye," instead of 'yeah' (What? Did I lose a little momentum there?). Yeah...well...

Another thing I don't understand about this movie is how it got branded as a guy movie. I think chicks should dig it because it's the ultimate love story. Think about it. He returns to a village to find his childhood sweetheart, marries her (in secret); and when she is uselessly murdered, his reaction is not just to go all "William Wallace" on the person(s) immediately responsible(think death). No, he starts a freaking war! And not just any old war, one that results in him not only defeating the armies of a more powerful nation, but invading one of the great military empires in history. And that goes well enough that he ultimately wins the freedom of his own country from the imperialistic empire as his own country is united. I mean, if that's not love, I don't know what love is. So as you ponder the best and quickest way to see Braveheart again(Don't tell me you haven't seen it), I leave you with this word...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Things I don't understand #44...

...The sports marvel that is Sergei Zubov.

Yes, hockey. Because of my odd love of playoff hockey (and my innate ability to see the Maverick writing on the wall), I've seen more of the Stars last couple of games despite the fact that they played at the same time as our local NBA outlet. If you haven't, you've missed a lot of really good hockey, with favorable outcomes, no less(being a fan of Dallas teams, I've almost forgot what that was like). You've also not been able to witness the comeback and subsequent stunning perfomance of Sergei Zubov, Dallas Stars defenseman. In case you are unaware, Dallas played(and won!) the third game of their second round playoff series(Dallas leads 3-0). This was Zubie's second game back. In his first game back, he assisted(and by assisted I mean he made one of the most amazing whirling, behind the back passes you've ever seen) on the game's decisive goal. In last night's game, he not only scored the important equalizing goal seconds into the third period, he also led the Stars in ice time. Oh, and did I mention he hadn't played since January 17th. Yes, that's right after spending over 4 months off to treat both a knee injury and have surgery for a sports hernia, he returns during the most physical, intense part of the season and spends more time playing than anyone else on his team.

And lest you think that the 37 year-old Russian is some sort of workout warrior who can't be lured out of the gym, he's the exact opposite. Reports from those that follow the team as well as fellow players seem to indicate that no one ever really sees him working out. Oh, and he smokes. Yeah, a 37 year-old smoking Russian who never works out just walks back into one of the most physically demanding (Save it, Rick) arenas after months off as if he was never gone. I heard today that apparently his post game routine is a beer and smoke. Between periods he does decide to leave out the beer, so that's good. But this really doesn't seem fair. Not only to shmos like me, but his peers in the NHL. But despite this injustice, I hope you will join me in following the Stars playoff run. It would seem we are guaranteed at least one more series, and it's not like the Mavs or Rangers require your attention.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Things I don't understand #43...

...Why I let Bryan win.

Honestly, I hadn't really planned on revisiting the race (sorry, "The Great Race")...unless I had actually pulled off the greatest upset in sports history and won the thing(Yes, even bigger than the "Miracle on Ice"). But when I read the comments and realized interest had reached the subconscious of some, I figured I could at least end the suspense (if 3 and half people maybe wanting to know qualifies as suspense, that is). So the race...

First let me say that the pre-race festivities included us screwing up the race so that no times can be considered official, for a mile run that is. You get four guys and one girl with "pregnancy brain" standing around a track at 8 in the morning, and the result is that we somehow decide and agree we should run 1500 instead of 1600 meters, because that's closer to a mile. Huh? Yeah, this was as much my fault as anyone else's, but, really, what were we thinking? So the race did actually start. Sure, it was awkwardly staggered as we tried to signal to Lisa (Bryan's wife) at the finish line (not the same as the start line since we're idiots) to start the "official" clock (which was rendered somewhat moot by our decision to adjust the distance) and then each took sort of a half step, stopped, looked at each other, and then took off. Yeah. That's when I made my first (and fatal) mistake. Bryan(once trained for a marathon) shot out of there, Patrick(athletic 25 year-old) and Eric(former HS and college sports star) made some attempt to keep up(though failed), and I (biggest and oldest) didn't. Mainly it was because I felt like crap and didn't want to. But I must admit that I also had a fairly strong inclination that Bryan (and Patrick and Eric) would not be able to sustain such a pace. That was, as far as Bryan is concerned, incorrect. So after about a lap we are already quite spread out.

With two laps remaining I realized that I was going to have to step it up if I didn't want to be completely embarrassed. At that point I was still in last place, and not by a little. I would approximate that Eric was about 20-30 meters ahead, Patrick about twice that, and Bryan? Well, he had somewhere between 150 and 200 meters on me, almost half a lap difference. Things were not looking good, nor was I feeling any better than when the race had started. But being the mule-headed idiot I am, I would not go quietly into that good night. I did pick up the pace, and was able to get by Eric (who graciously cleared the way). When I passed Patrick a couple of seconds later, I can only assume he didn't expect me as he exclaimed something like, "Oh man!" as I went around the outside (He later admitted that this move on my part completely demoralized him). Unfortunately, I had begun my "kick" too late, and Bryan (to his credit) didn't slow down near enough. If my memory and the "official timekeeper" can be trusted, I ran the final lap in 1:05 (it could have been 1:25 if one of those two are faulty) but still finished a good 75 meters and 17 seconds behind Bryan. Even though the times are somewhat meaningless, I'll give them to you anyway just so you can go out and mistakingly run a 1500 and beat our times.
Bryan 5:33
Me 5:50
Patrick 6:05
Eric 6:45

So there you go. We ran. And I didn't win (nor did I actually die, but I'm guessing you figured that out already). But next time time.

P.s. As a bonus for reading this far, I give you a link to a free Coldplay song off their upcoming album. Hurry though, you probably have less than 24 hours.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Things I don't understand #42...

...Why I agreed to do what I'm about to tell you I agreed to do.

Depending on your commitment level to this here blog, you've probably come across a couple of references to my attempts (mostly failed) to stay healthy. Well, this I guess is an offshoot of that. One night about a month ago while dining with some friends, my running was the topic at hand. While I was the only one who had a sort of normal running routine, the other men at the table were both guys who also exercise in their own attempts to stay fit. The discussion turned to the pace at which I run and what the others might could do. It also seemed to stir some sort of competitive mood. Because the next thing I knew, an idea had been proposed to hold a one mile race four weeks from that day to see of what we might be capable (utter stupidity, obviously)...and I assented. That brings us to tomorrow.

So apparently, at 8:15 tomorrow morning I and three of my friends (we had a late addition this morning) will meet at the track at Southern Methodist University to run "The Great Race"* (yes, it's been given a wildly inappropriate official title, t-shirts might be available). And I am definitely not the favorite. I will be the oldest "competitor" by at least a year and in one case 8 years. I will also be the largest participant. As a general rule, big and old are usually not the best attributes to have in a foot race. Unlike some of the others, I have never trained for a marathon, I have never run track, I was never an all-state high-school athlete or a college athlete. What I'm saying is, I neither have any athletic "skins on the wall" nor do I fit any real definition of a "runner". Were Vegas to get involved, I think my odds of winning would be set at about 25-1. Odds of losing 1.5-1. Now, over the last couple of days, some severe sandbagging has been attempted by my adversaries despite the fact they predicted the winner would probably finish in about 6 minutes, but I'm not buying, and neither should you. I just don't want to get lapped. Plus, I've heard the race is going to be videoed. Great...

So, if you find a moment tomorrow at about a quarter after eight, I would appreciate a prayer that I don't kill myself as I attempt not to get completely embarrassed. Hey, if you want to come witness this almost guaranteed comedic spectacle in person, feel free (refreshments will not be available). And if you want to show up and prove how completely out of shape we actually are by participating, I would support that as well (last is still last whether there's 4 or 40). Really, what was I thinking?

*[trademark pending]

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Things I don't understand #41...

...How nothing sold by iTunes rates lower than 4 stars.

Ok, I'm exaggerating...slightly. The point being that somehow if you get your songs on iTunes, you've removed the possibility of sucking. Other than the picture at right, I really don't know what more proof you need. But it is quite shocking how every single album seems to be above average. My own informal survey suggests that the average rating for any record (yes, I know it's a download, but what are we actually supposed to call them? Wait! Save that!) is actually 4 and a half stars. Considering we're working on a 5 star scale, we should apparently get down on our knees and thank the sweet clean Lord above that we're so lucky to live in the golden age of music. Here's just a sampling of albums that rate the exemplary 4 and a half:
Christina Aguilera's self-titled debut
Nirvana's Nevermind
Britney Spears' Britney
Neon Bible by Arcade Fire
Welcome to the Dollhouse by Danity Kane (I don't know)
The Jonas Brothers' Brothers, Musicians and More (More?)
Heartbreaker by Ryan Adams

Yeah. Apparently all 4 1/2's aren't equal. And if you don't know which ones probably deserve that rating and those that don't, might need to seek professional help. But really, isn't this just one more instance that proves the general public can't be trusted with evaluating anything?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Things I don't understand #40...

...What color my hair is.

Just so you're aware, I haven't recently fallen asleep at the barber and accidentally got a bad dye job (not that you can get a dye job at the barber...or any self-respecting barber, or course) or decided to wash my hair with rain water collected in a copper bowl which unwittingly produced a chemical reaction because of the surprising levels of toxicity in the rain which is the obvious byproduct of years of ignoring corporate pollutants (Yes, I just combined an allusion to the 80's hit comedy "Diff'rent Strokes" and your official veiled acknowledgment of Earth Day. You're Welcome.). And no one is more shocked by this "development" than yours truly. I'm guessing you, like me, assumed by the time I reached such a stage in my life I might have gotten a handle on the basics. But the evidence seems to suggest that I'm not to be trusted by such mind-bending questions as, "Hair color?"

You see, as a child my hair was blond. By the time I reached puberty it had darkened (I thought considerably), and I was quite comfortable with my hair color then being brown. I made it through high school and college and all other sorts of various life events, made some friends...lost some friends, you know, stuff. All the time sure of my station in life as a brown-haired-man. That is until recently. I think I was at dinner with some friends the first time it came up. They're sort of newer friends so at times you find yourself having to go back to the beginning to put the stories of your life in proper context. In this case, someone was talking about how they had grown up having been referred to by the moniker of "Red" considering their hair is of such a shade (obviously so). At which point, he or his wife looked at me and said, "Well, I'm sure you get that since your hair is kind of red." I said, "Who? Me?" and then shot them a look as if they had just informed me I was adopted or the earth was flat or that there was a real-live dinosaur hovering above my right shoulder (I wasn't, it wasn't, there wasn't). I looked around the table for someone to confirm that these so-called friends were either blind or really confused by the color wheel only to find them looking at me and nodding as if this was fairly common knowledge. Even so, I dismissed it as an anomaly or bad lighting or something.

Then about a week ago I found myself in the company of two others who are fairly new to my social sphere. They both adamantly assured me that my hair was surely not brown, but of a hue found in the red family. So now, after walking around all these years thinking my hair was brown, I'm supposed to become this whole new person who's a redhead. Ok, so it's probably not that big a deal, but I have found myself randomly looking at the mirror and saying, "Red? Really?" And I still don't really see it. But my hair is red...or reddish...or auburn...or whatever, so watch out world.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Things I don't understand #39...

...Why food at a place where they should be most concerned for your health is so unhealthy. I.e. Why hospital food sucks.

I've spent a good portion of the last couple of days in a hospital. I'm okay, but my grandmother had to have surgery (It looks like she'll be okay, too.) After her surgery yesterday morning, my family and I retired to the cafeteria so some might have a little breakfast. The choices were mainly either shocking or just flat out disturbing. You had the proverbial runny eggs, biscuits, gravy (hello?), bacon, sausage, hash browns, and the choice that sent shivers down my spine, egg rolls. I'm assuming they were some sort of breakfast egg roll. But the fact that there was an item that featured breakfast foods wrapped in something and then deep fried I think proves my point. They also had donuts, muffins, and cinnamon rolls; plus bagels for the health conscious. I abstained. I think I might have also seen some bananas and a vat of oatmeal. But mainly full of things that no one should probably be eating.

I was informed that someone had tried to get some lunch there the day before and had settled for a hamburger after analyzing the other choices and finding them severely wanting. Shouldn't fried food be eliminated from the hospital entirely? And finally , I was there when they brought my grandmother her lunch yesterday. The "main course" was chili-mac, with a side of oh-so-obviously canned mixed vegetables (sodium anyone?). Is there not one nutritionist in the whole place? It just seems to me that by eating there, you sort of putting yourself in a nutritional hole. And if you can't be healthy in a hospital, where can you be healthy?

Because of my obvious lack of commitment and the general suckiness of this post, I leave you with a video of a song I really like. Titled "Hospital Food", of course.

"...tell me something, tell me something I don't already know..."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Things I don't understand #38...

...Who Sonic actually thinks they're fooling.

So after enjoying yet another Rangers defeat Friday night, my companion and I set out in search of ice cream. Unfortunately, our quest was threatening to be an abject failure based partly one some poor driving choices on my part but also because our primary target was closed...for good. It also didn't help that it took me so long to discover said closure that the clock had struck eleven. The time when all ice cream shops, it seems, turn out the lights. That left me scrambling for options, of which I came up with two. One, Sonic, "America's drive-in" or two, find a grocery store and by a carton. For whatever reason we chose (obviously, considering the overt direction of this post) Sonic. BTW, locating a Sonic in Dallas is not always the easiest of tasks, either...but I digress (honestly, isn't this entire blog one large digression?)

So I slide into a spot (behind the windows...I hate those guys staring at me while I order...or worse while I eat) and after quite a bit of vacillation we went with two SonicBlasts. One with M&M's, the other with Reece's peanut butter cups. And of course we had to get the large. I mean, six more ounces for only 40 more cents? What kind of fools do you think we are? In case your not completely current on the Sonic menu, the Blast is Sonic's answer to a Blizzard. (If you don't know what a Blizzard is, that might call your humanity into question.) So in the brief amount of time between me screaming into the tiny speaker and the "frozen treats" being delivered, I turned and said, "You know what's gonna happen? I don't know why we came here because we're gonna get these things and they'll have some candy on top but by the time we get half-way through it will be nothing but a vat of soft-serve vanilla ice cream." I must admit I was wrong. Because what we actually received would probably best be described as a dusting of candy. I might have gotten half of one Reece's...maybe. I guess we should have sent them back but, well, I'm just not that guy. It was then proposed that we acquire our own candy and mix it ourselves. I'm not saying this was a failure, but let's just say that it might have been better in theory than in practice. Something about chipped teeth on frozen M&M's and almost choking on half of a Reece's cup. And I was out 3 more bucks, 2 for the candy and one for the guy who was begging outside the 7-11 (my philosophy on how to deal with the destitute is still in flux). I think we both had a couple more bites and realized we probably could have split a small and been just as happy (which was not really all that happy).

But like I said, I shouldn't have even been there. Some months back some friends called and asked if I wanted to join them for dinner. I said, "Sure, why not." They then informed me they decided they wanted Sonic and to pick it up on my way over... and I could get something for myself if I wanted. Thanks. Well, I think even then when informed of the choice of restaurant, I said, "You know they're just gonna screw it up." But I went, I ordered, I realized that a side of fries was missing, then delivered the order. But of course, I had missed an order of tots and my sandwich (MY SANDWICH!) was not prepared correctly. At this point I made a proclamation that I was done with Sonic. That "why should I care if they don't?" And just in case you're wondering, my poor experiences are spread over various location, not just one.

So despite that fact that it's the only place I can get an Extra-Long Chili Cheese Coney and that they have some of the best commercials going...

...I'm on to you Sonic and you are on a very short leash.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Things I don't understand #37...

...How we still haven't come up with a better way to find a tornado.

If you live anywhere around me (i.e. north Texas) you were probably awakened somewhere between 3:30 am and 4:30 am this morning by the sense that all was not well. Whether it was the rain against the windows, the howling wind, or actual warning sirens; sleep was interrupted last night. My first thought when I woke up was, "Dangit! Why am I awake?" My second was, "Oh it just rain hitting the window." The third was, "Wait a second, rain hardly ever hits my window directly, much less the entire expanse from top to bottom." At this point I actually made an attempt to fight through the grogginess. Got up and, of course as any highly intelligent person would do, went straight up to the window. What I saw was a raging storm. The rate at which the rain pounded my window made it feel like I was sitting behind the windshield of a big bus trying to drive through a hurricane. But I was standing still so that meant the rain was making excellent time. I stood there for a couple of minutes blinking at the night sky until I finally realized that despite my 20/15 vision and superior skills of observation, the chances of me actually predicting what might come next and the severity of such an event might be limited to the 30 feet surrounding the light pole nearest me. I flipped on the TV.

My friend Pete Delkus was already on the case (BTW, don't get me wrong, I love Pete. But I still miss Troy Dungan and his cute little bow tie sometimes). He informed me that, indeed, I was residing right in the middle of a tornado warning. That sounded serious. I then got my first look at the radar and just about messed my britches. There were several little circulating things and he kept saying "rotation" and mentioning points of interest very near where I stood. I pondered if I needed to retire to the tub and take my mattress along as a security blanket. Soon after, the warning was canceled and I relaxed.

I watched the news a little more as they moved into the "let's talk about what's happened phase" (I guess all those towns east of here would just have to figure it out on their own). After one rather inane phone interview with a guy in Las Colinas who witnessed a roof getting torn off a house, they spoke with some official in Ft. Worth. The storm had moved through there over an hour earlier and they were questioning whether some damage had been caused by plain old wind or a tornado. That's when I realized that the only way we know for sure if there was a tornado is if someone actually sees it. Despite all these stations with all their million dollar radars, we're still have yet to improve on the method of weather prediction shockingly similar to me standing dreary-eyed and looking out the window. After all this talk of supercells and wall clouds and hook echos and mesocyclones, the only thing we can really count on is Bubba in his pick-up eye-balling a twister. Pete did mention that storm watchers were being asked to report for duty, whatever that entails. But did any one notice it was 4 am? And thus dark? How exactly is Bubba supposed to see it in the dark? As defenses against an F5 go, that really doesn't seem to be all that impenetrable.