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.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Things I don't understand #36...

...How guys can spend all their time playing basketball and look like this.

The photo you see is of Memphis forward Pierre Niles. If you happened to watch the NCAA Championship game you got to see him make the briefest of appearances. Of course, his entry into the line-up was an immediate signal to Kansas to push the ball and, the resulting lay-up was most likely the impetus for Pierre leaving the game some 34 seconds later. The best part was watching him back pedal into the lane on defense. Talk about not playing to your strengths.

Honestly, I could probably include "Things I don't understand #37" as why anyone ever believes the stats in programs. Mr. Niles is listed by MSU as a 6'8", 310 pound sophomore. Yeah...uh no offense but I've met 310 lbs., I've known 310 lbs. (unfortunately), and you, sir, are no 310 lbs. I would lay big money to him being closer to 400 than 310. But how? If you stop to consider the facts, it's dumbfounding. He's probably 20, which means he's been playing ball for at least 12 years. Most likely for the last 5 or 6, he's been playing it everyday or at least for 6-7 months of each year. As sports go, basketball is not exactly the cushiest of choices. You might could talk me into it being the most cardiovascularly demanding of the sports. As a baseball fan (and former participator), I know where the fat guys can still play with some level of effectiveness and, basketball is not necessarily it (that's Prince Fielder over there). Football's probably not a bad choice either. But if you're tipping the scales at 310 (or 360), attempts at rebounding and lay-ups become classified as heavy lifting. Jumping is usually required in b-ball, and if memory serves the last time an offensive lineman medaled in the high jump was...yeah...never. If you weigh as much any three of the cheerleaders combined, God might be telling you to keep your activities a little closer to the terra firma. And the song playing in the background to your highlights is not gonna be "I Believe I Can Fly".

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Things I don't understand #35...

...Why anyone bothered to invent the dishwasher and why I continue using one.
Let's review. There is a machine called a dishwasher. Its name suggests it should wash dishes. If memory serves and the History channel isn't lying, machines were built to make doing something easier, me more productive, or do it more efficiently. (Can't everyone pretty much fill in the rest of this post themselves? We all see where I'm going here, right? What? Ok, because I respect and appreciate you so much, I'll keep going.) So how small must my iPod get before dishwashing technology reaches the point where a dishwasher actually serves it's primary purpose?

Because apparently before this fantastic contraption can "clean" my dishes, I must first scrub and rinse all the dishes. I may not be as clear on the non-automated dishwashing process as I thought, but at that point aren't I just one more step away from completing the act of washing the dish myself? Am I supposed to believe that this large box of useless metal parts was built so I wouldn't have to fill half the sink with soapy water? I really think I could pull that off with very few mishaps if I had to. Plus, you got the whole film factor. I mean, what is that? So my glass or bowl is officially clean (it was in a running dishwasher for over an hour after all) but now looks cloudy and might require another rinse? Oh, and that film is there forever. The dishwasher says you're welcome.

I don't even want to go into the environmental/conservation issues that should be addressed (I am the guy who pours motor oil down the drain just for fun) but, I have some serious concerns. This marvel of technology--that takes over an hour from start to finish to do something I could probably do in 20--also contains a heating element all running on Ben Franklin's electricity (I actually create my own electricity*). Then there's all that water being thrown around in there. Add that to the water I had to use to "pre-rinse" and what I'll probably have to use to "post-rinse" and well, my favorite mug is using more water to get clean than I do. Don't get me wrong I love the idea of the dishwasher, but I think we need to start over. And I would, but then I'd have to find something to do with all that dishwasher soap.

[ * Source: Matrix]

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Things I don't understand #34...

...How men and women can have such disproportionate opinions about their birthday. And by that I mean, women care and men don't. (Obviously, this is gross generality, but you did come to my blog after all.) I was lucky enough to get invited to someone's birthday party this weekend (I mean, how could you not invite me? I am the party.) and shockingly it was for a she. Granted, it was one of the noteworthy ones, ending in a zero and all, but it was the biggest birthday party I've been to in a while. I don't even remember if I had a party when I celebrated a similar "accomplishment". But it got me thinking about this dichotomy. If I've heard the phrase "It's my day" once, I've heard it a hundred times...exclusively from the fairer of the species. I was reminded by a female friend recently that it was her "birthday weekend". Huh? So even though this particular event by definition might should be limited to a singular day of blanket entitlement(which I still question), now it encompasses an entire four-day weekend?

I think another way this is easily demonstrated is in how one answers the question, "So what do you want to do for your birthday." You might even get the same verbal response from a man and a woman, "I don't know," but it seems with ladies that it's spoken with a gleam in the eyes and a devilish smile(as if they've just been reminded they are,indeed, the queen). I have experienced the following things from women that have passed through my life in regards to birthdays: a 30 day countdown to her birthday, divulgence of a plan for her own birthday party that included a large garden (think British garden here) and an orchestra...and fireworks, my own mother harassing my friends to ensure that my first birthday at college would be recognized with cake and decorations despite my assurances that I would be o.k. (and that I don't really like cake all that much), being asked on several occasions, and only by women, "You didn't get your birthday off at work?" Uh no. In what world do you get your birthday off?

The other thing that throws me for a bit of a loop is that my experience also suggests that women are the ones most distressed by the actual age they are celebrating...over four days. It just seems like a strange universe where you want everyone and everything to stop down for "Your day" but no one to inquire as to the specifics of said day. But what do I know? I just hope you know whether it's your birthday or not, I think you're great.