Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Here we go again...

Ramblings Post #363
Sometimes life is. I mean, there is not much you can do about it other than live it. Sure there are things you can control, things you can influence, things you can change. But then there are those things you can't. Like the weather. And Chick-fil-et being closed on Sundays. And that I look better in black. I do, really.

When I first moved to Atlanta many many moons ago, one of the first real parties I went to was a SuperBowl party. Much like all those other people not from here, I too was seduced by one good weekend. That year somebody played somebody else, it was relatively warm out and that brother's house looked like a video shoot there were so many attractive women there. I still remember going down into the basement and being surrounded by like fifteen model types all very happy to see me. Full disclosure: I did not get one single number, did hook up with not a soul, got no we'll hang you later, no nothing. But let's just say it gave me hope.

Shortly after that they actually had the game in Atlanta. The Superbowl, if you're unaware, really is more of a week-long experience leading up to the game. Parties, events, just stuff, all centered around a football game that happens at the end of the week. I'm certain that ancient civilizations had something similar when I think about it. Ours involves a pigskin, theirs would have involved a sacrifice of some sort or at least a witch burning. Basically the same thing except for the ad revenue. But last time the city hosted the game, nature decided to put a damper on things with a massive ice storm that shutdown the city. It was out of left field, all black ice and businesses closed. But that leads to a story.

Because the game was in town an old partner of mine came through as well, it was the SuperBowl and we were young and did shit like that. Just go to events we couldn't go to and hang out. And we ended up hanging out with some guys he knew. This is back when house flipping was the move, so one of the guys who juggled houses for living had this supremely nice house in Alpharetta he was staying in and selling. A mansion really. Super nice. We hung out there a couple days, hit the few in-town functions when we could (if they were still being held) and had a pretty okay week. The guy with the really nice house is having a huge party on gameday, so of course we are down to roll.

That Sunday morning I get a phone call. It was a from a friend of mine who just happened to be on the Superbowl committee. She may or may not have actually been on the committee, I'm not sure now but I do distinctly remember she asked me one of those questions that you dream about: Do you want to go to Superbowl? Apparently due to the weather (remember, ice storm?) somebody somewhere who had a ticket had not made it and so she was offering it to me. To me. For the grand price of just show your ass up.

And I said no.

There a few times in life where I look back and wonder exactly what the hell was going on in my head when I said X, or did Y, or ate Z. Why didn't I get into the Ferrari? Why didn't I just take the job and fake it until I figured it out? Why didn't I just take the damn shoes? There is a show on Stars called Counterpart that I like, and it explores in part (as part of the backdrop of it's inter-dimensional espionage) the different paths in life we could be on but for small differences.

When I tell the story now, I swear it was a skybox seat because she was the kind of woman who would have an extra skybox seat, but honestly I don't remember. I do remember telling her I already had commitments and, instead of abandoning my friend, I declined the opportunity. Looking back at now though, he was resourceful guy. He could have found his way to Alpharetta. Why, me not leaving him to fend for himself is almost an insult to his very manhood! Okay, not really, we had great time at that party.

I say all that because this week's impromptu threat of snow on the week of the game reminds me those couple of days. The city was half encased in ice and yet drinks were being served here, people were out and about there, and I think that was the first time I ate at Boston Market. Now we're only supposed to get an inch or two, but considering the ill designed traffic flows and the dearth of foul weather driving skills amongst my fellow citizens, we are most definitely in for it. Atlanta though, will find a way. People will find an open bar, a hot buffet, some shoe models showing off the latest styles. Because it's what we do.

This time however, I have no house-guest, and plenty of groceries. My social wanderlust is currently in remission. The ranch gave us the day off but I brought my um, my "horse" home with me so it's not like I won't have things to do.

Barkeep, if you know someone who might have a spare ticket. What? Let's just say I've learned...

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Can i get a little competion?

Ramblings Post #362
I know I said it somewhere before, but what makes a player great is not just their skill, but their competition. It's not fun watching someone win all the time. Or at least, that used to be the case. Today I'm not so sure. We learn a lot from a loss: weaknesses and flaws. What we learn from a win is that we got it right and nothing is wrong. Even if the win was luck. Even if the win could be chalked up to the other player's failure. No, what makes someone great is the adversity they have to overcome.

We live in the age of the dynasty.

Um, sports dynasty, that is.

With the return of the freaking New England Patriots to Superbowl, the idea that the major sports should be competitive seems to have gone out of the window.  Full disclosure, I am of the opinion that Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and most of the Patriots staff and management should have been "run off" from football years ago after Spygate fiasco and then again after Deflategate. How many times in the past five years have the same teams turned up for that year's and that game's championship? The return of the goddamed Pats to the football's final game is a reminder that Alabama went to the championship again this year, that the New York Yankees are always in the hunt and the Golden State Warriors shouldn't ever be allowed to sign LeBron because if they did the rest of the league should just forfeit.

Okay, I will admit I was okay with the Kobe and Shaq running the boards back in the day, and Magic and the Showtime Lakers before them. And I kinda like  Golden State today (The Curry fellow!), so there is probably some bias here. But just because I happen to like when the teams I like win, it doesn't make the underlying premise any less truthful. Sports have become less competitive as of late.

No, it's no real. But oh man, it would have been beautiful.
I'm from the south, so I know college football. You kind of have to, it's like a required class, along with reading, math, BBQ and NASCAR. I don't even follow NASCAR and I know the legends and the lore. But college football in the south is something special. From the tailgates that start on early Saturday morning and that don't end until the wee hours Sunday morning to the temples of the gridiron meant to deify those who play the sport. It is no laughing matter. And the reality is that for big programs, the only successful season is an undefeated one. Which is how we end up with Alabama.

I like to win as much as the next fellow. But winning isn't everything, and as it turns out winning all the damn time is not even good for you. It takes a special kind of player to win it all and still be humble. It takes an even more special fan to see their team win all the time and not act the ass. Most Alabama fans haven't mastered that art yet. That the organization that runs college football actually seems to encourage this is also disheartening. The idea of building character isn't constant victory. Wait, you didn't know that sport builds character, through adversity? As my brother once described it, in football as in life, after the last play is over you still have to line up for the next one, good, bad or ugly.

But I digress. Baseball needs to be ashamed of itself. And looking back I wish I'd played baseball. Sure the idea of a little horsehair knot screaming at my forehead at 103 mph is more than a bit unnerving. But I could have played in minors for twenty years and still turned a pretty penny. (I am aware that no I could not, it doesn't work like that but this is my baseball fantasy, hush up.) But baseball has the Yankees. A team that can hand out 200 million dollar contracts. To catch and hit a ball. Does baseball have a salary cap? I know big market teams usually can outspend small market teams. Technically that's fair, but then it really isn't.

Why am I talking about baseball?

That LeBron could "take his talents to South Beach" and win a championship with a good team, then go back home and win a championship with an okay team, then get back to the championship round with essentially a pickup squad, and is now in LA attempting to do the same thing is just... frightening. I'm not sure if it shows a lack of talent throughout the league, or that he really is that much better than everyone else. It may be a little of both. In any case, I makes me wonder about the viability of the league. No longer do we have squads sweeping in out of nowhere, Cinderella story style. No, the only reason we'll have a different East coast participator for this NBA finals is that 'bron-bron moved to Tinseltown. But we all know whose going to win. At least, I think we all do.

Which brings me back to the Pats going back the Superbowl. Quite frankly the entire AFC needs to be ashamed that it's come to this. Again. I for one am sick of it. The charm, the unpredictability of the game is diminished. Yes, the AFC championship had some drama this season but it ended the same way.Again. And still others may argue that having the Pats as the team to beat year after year is a kind of drama of sorts. I disagree. I'm really hoping that Brady discovers Scientology five minutes before kickoff and just retires to go spread the word of LRH.

I'm just so done with the dynasties. I mean, since you can't eliminate Cleveland after the first kickoff anymore, should there still be a team that feels destined to make it all the time. Where is the balance?

Barkeep, a drink. Doesn't matter. Hey, you know anyone with a spare Superbowl ticket that want to donate?

Monday, January 21, 2019

Martin Luther King Jr.

There are moments in history.

Moments where the whole world changes, where a clear line of demarcation exists from the past to the now. A moment where we as a people can look back and see where something fundamental is different. Be that change the way we view the world, the way we look at each other, the way we think about life, it is crystal clear to all but the most obstinate. Those moments in history are created by men who dissatisfied with the way the world works in the then drag that reality, sometimes kicking and screaming, into the future.

One such moment in history was the 1960s. And one of those men was Martin Luther King Jr.

He didn't drag it though. He persuaded it to move with him. He hollowed out a path of non-violence that we still grasp with both hands in the present. History moved us.  

Today we very maybe having another of those moments. I say maybe because this moment is tumultous and ripe with possibility, and the lines that are mostly drawn in our heads and history are trending towards becoming far too stark to be ignored.

Will be lucky enough to birth another MLK?

Or will we all have to overcome this time?  

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

What I learned 2018

Life, it has been said, goes on.

Despite our hopes and dreams that it slows down so that we can get a firmer grasp on what's going on around us, it just continues on inexorably towards wherever the hell it is going. We hope to steer it, to guide it, and maybe some of us do manage to get a handle on the thing but then that could all be angles and Photoshop. Most of us are just along for the ride, holding on to what we can while we watch our lives play out before us like a quiet little independent film that lacks plot and direction and is desperate need of comic relief. And a romantic subplot would be nice too.

I thought I would enter this year on a steady path, well, steadier path, but life has other plans as it usually does. Don't get me wrong, I am on plan it's just that I figured it would look different when I got here. But then we all do that, don't we? If you've read these before, you know to me that the New Year isn't resolutions but reassessment and recalculation. This day isn't magic, but it is a convenient milestone that can be used for measurement. This year I got to where I figured I would, but something about here still doesn't feel right. Like maybe I'm focusing on the wrong things.

And that which you aren't changing you're choosing. 

Change is is said, is inevitable. The trick is, as I've said before, is that when you can you need to make changes on your schedule and not have them thrust upon you. So while I could wait and see what happens, that's not always prudent. I also need to start prep for what comes next, because chance favors the prepared. (I stole that one from a Steven Segal movie, seriously). I have some things I need to polish, practice and study to help me out career-wise, some other things I need to get at to improve my health, and I need to sit my ass down and finish what I started with the latest first draft of a story I was trying to put together. An actual to do list if you will.

Every year I implore those around me to do something, anything, to get started on the path to...somewhere. This year I ask again, but this year I'm going to suggest a focus. That you take an honest sit down with yourself and figure out where you want to be in six months, in a year and in five years. And then write it down and figure out the steps between where you are now and where you just figured out where you want to be. It may take some adjustments...running marathons take practice, platinum selling music artists usually take a whole year and doctorates in nuclear physics a touch longer, but just figure out what is between here and where your destination lies. Lay out the path, look the steps that you can control. Research a bit, and figure it out. If nothing else it will put your idea in the proper perspective. 

Then execute. Seriously.

Let me give you an example. I wanted to write a book. So I sat down and I figured out what the story was about. Then I figured out how the story got from A to B, and from B to C and so on, a whole outline. Then fleshed out the characters, their motivations, how they thought. Then I went back and figured out how they got from B to B1 to C because I forgot some things. Then I started writing, sometimes just filling in fillers when I hit snag. This is the first draft not the final product. This means I've started, which is a milestone in and of itself.  True, this time while writing I got stuck on one conversation at a crucial part of the story that I know at this point I've rewritten 20 times, but that's my fault. Instead of treating it like a first draft I erred. But I can correct that. But at least I'm moving forward.

And are we moving forward is the question we all need to ask ourselves.

Sit down, maybe over a few days and figure out what you want to do. Travel? Move? Become a motivational speaker? A new career? Start your own business? Great, whatever it is that will enrich your life that's your aim. The first steps are usually simple: a budget, a resume polish, housing search or reading up on an industry. Then commit to the idea for two weeks or so. That time period is not overly long but long enough to get a few things done. Then execute, see if your plan is manageable. See if you're serious. And even if along the way you change your mind, or circumstances change and you have re-assess, you'll be doing so from a better position than you're in right now.  You will have started.

All you need to do is start. And when you falter, as you probably will, to not stop.

My thoughts...

What looks good to you isn't always what's good for you.

Sometimes all we really need is a quiet nudge to get started. You can give yourself the nudge.

Eat when you're hungry, not because it's time. And eat until you're full, not until all the food is gone.

Distractions can end you if you're not careful.

Real friendships don't end, even after they cease to be day-to-day.

There is no path, good or bad, there is only the journey and the steps you take.

Just because someone is in charge doesn't mean they know what they're doing.
- Okay, this one I did not learn this year, I've known it for a long time. This year has just re-affirmed it.

A good meal with good friends is worth more than you can imagine.

I need to clean my house more often.

Everyone has their own demons. Don't assume your demons can whup their demons.

If you work on yourself, the rest will work itself out.

You don't always win. But you never stop giving your all.

Love is eternal. It not always demonstrative, but it's always there. And don't you forget it.