I Get Older, They Stay the Same Age

The look of defeat. It looks pretty much the same as victory, but the shirt is soaked with tears.

The look of defeat. It looks pretty much the same as victory, but the shirt is soaked with tears.

I’m a lucky guy. For a lot of years growing up, I was a sporting young man. Lots of running, jumping, throwing, and…uh, running. Anyhoo, I became fairly adept at playing a number of sports just well enough to compete with the scrubs at local parks. And I played all the time!

When I struck out on my own, I continually looked for opportunities to play recreational sports. From formal leagues, to playing obscene amounts of basketball with friends, and even jogging on occasion just to burn off energy, I did it all! At my peak of athleticism (and aloneness) I found myself on two indoor soccer teams, one outdoor team, a basketball team, and a softball team. Each day of the work week had some sort of game going on!

Fast forward let’s say 15 years…

I should, by all accounts, weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 pounds. Gone are the days of filling every non-working moment with some sort of activity. Long ago replaced by Netflix, couch time, and a variety of cheeses, the athletic days have calmed significantly. Every now and again I’ll peel myself off of the couch and try not to hurt myself walking to the fridge and back.

But for anywhere between 20-40 minutes every Sunday night over the last 15+ years, there’s one thing that has kept me moving a bit. Indoor soccer. Yes, for a few minutes once a week, I force myself to labor up and down a field of artificial turf trying to will a plastic orb into a net more times than the opposing team.

I shouldn’t be doing this anymore. Really. I’m basically in the same league I’ve been in since this madness began more than a decade and a half ago. Most people who were playing at this place back then have moved on. Some have started families, some have chosen recliners, some have surely moved on to the grave. For eff’s sake, it’s an 18+ league. That means some of the people I’m playing soccer against weren’t even born when I started…or they were sitting in a car seat on the sidelines! This thought only just occurred to me while writing this, so I’m trying to type through many tears and joints swollen from tonight’s game.

I think it’s a rare thing to actually get to witness yourself age. Thanks to soccer, I get to do that every week! In my youth I was a pretty fast dude. However, until Alzheimers hits (no doubt in a month or two), I will never forget being in a flat out sprint alongside a 20-something woman who couldn’t have been more than five feet tall. She destroyed me! And this happens all the time. Fortunately, I’m not on the field too long before crawling off crying for a substitution.

I really do enjoy playing, though. If there’s a reason to look forward to turning 40, it’s the hope of joining up with an over-40 league where opposing teams can appreciate a couch like I do and hold the same contempt for these ‘roided up youths and their boundless energy.

Until then, I’ll continue in my strict regimen of dodging exercise until Sunday kickoffs and falling back into a comatose state immediately following the final buzzer. Sure, I could get out more and try to stay in shape. But working out is hard! And thanks to my athletic childhood, I’m able to fool people into thinking I’m actually IN shape, so what do I have to prove? I think I’ve earned a cupcake.

I’ve forgotten my point. Ah well. Goodnight, all.

Cheers.

Said and Heard – a Terrified Husband’s Tale

I have a wife and a daughter. By conventional mathematics, that has me outnumbered 2-1 in my own home. However, when that daughter is 11 years old and that wife spends a great deal of time in the same room with said daughter when she’s not in school, the estrogen level compounds significantly. I figure the math, when adjusted for emotion, has me facing a 79-1 disadvantage on any given day. Oh sure, we’ve added two male dogs to create the appearance of balance, but it’s all an illusion. A slight of hand maneuver or “bone” thrown my way to keep me in line.

And it’s worked, too! I have been very well trained to never think too much beyond the face value of any domestic situation. I don’t really ask a lot of questions, leaving most words to be spoken, debated, and settled between the two women who own my life. Meanwhile, I try to melt into my couch and absorb whatever war documentary or sitcom appears on my TV screen.

However, there are no perfect systems. Now and again my simple brain has gotten confused and I have dared to break formation. While my words have seemed clear to me when spoken, I can’t help but feel I’m part of an epic game of telephone by the time they are received and interpreted.

The following are some samples of words I have said and, based on the response(s) I received, what must have been heard:

Said – “Hey, wife. Would you like to watch a TV show?”
Heard – “Woman, it’d be awesome if we could watch something on TV but your gawd awful taste in shows has locked up our DVR recording Real Housewives and other stupid crap. And that outfit you’re wearing looks like hell.”

Said – “Daughter, is your homework finished?”
Heard – “Kid whose name I don’t know or care about, you are responsible for the Holocaust and every other travesty that’s ever occurred on the face of this planet. Of this I am 100 percent certain and there’s nothing you will say or do to change my mind, as this is fact! You also hate turtles.”

Said – “Wife, that outfit looks pretty on you.”
Heard – “You are a cow. But not a normal cow. A cow that looks fat. Yes, that’s it. If a fat cow ate another fat cow and then threw up on itself…that’s what you look like. Exactly.”

Said – “Daughter, please turn off the light in your room.”
Heard – “&%*# you. #%$^& YOU!!!”

Said – “I love you, wife.”
Heard – “Calm down.”

I blame myself. I should know better by now, but life is a series of lessons. When the numbers aren’t in your favor, you’ve gotta pick your spots. This isn’t Sparta! Oh well, I’ll get it eventually.

Cheers!

I Can Read!

New Year’s resolutions are garbage. Every year for who knows how long I have gone through the motions of saying “oh yeah, I resolve to {insert asinine declaration here} this year.” Occasionally I’ll come out of the gate pretty strong – one year I managed to both have AND use a gym membership on a regular basis…for three weeks.

Another year began under a wife-imposed resolution to be Vegan. Of course once she realized cheese was off limits and Vegan food is gawd damn awful, we snapped back into our comfortable world of slowly killing ourselves with pizza. Still, those are two nightmarish hours of my life I will never get back.

This one other time I started a blog. You see how this all goes.

This time around, New Years came and went with little to no mention of resolutions. The only thing I heard the wife offer on the subject was a resolve to eat more desserts. I’m totally on board with that one, though I wouldn’t call that anything new.

But as the first few days of 2015 slipped by, I found myself holding this rectangular bundle of papers covered with thousands of letters, bound together and organized into a series of cohesive thoughts that flowed together to formulate a specific narrative. As I found out later, this type of paper bundle is actually quite common and is known as a “book”…or “buhk”…or “bhoojk”…?

However it may be spelled, this “book” was actually quite enjoyable. It is called “The Circle Maker” by a Washington DC pastor named Mark Batterson. For those of you who do not subscribe to the idea of church, you will certainly find it to be heavy on the Jesusy stuff. But, since I’m cool with God and all that, it worked for me. If you need some separation to hang with the rest of this blog, this specific book is really about setting goals and working towards them. Sure, there are some parts of it that were repetitive to emphasize the points, but it was a thought-provoking and encouraging read.

Considering I hadn’t actually read a book since the Hardy Boys were cool, I managed to get through its nearly 300 pages pretty quickly. And it didn’t even have pictures!!

What I discovered through reading this book is something that my word-crazy 11-year old daughter has known since she was three. Reading is awesome!

I’m now cruising through my second book of the year, Unbroken. I’m halfway through at the time of this writing and it is a fantastic read. I’ve always had a great interest in history, and particularly World War II. This book, which has been made a movie, is an incredible true story that is just unimaginable. I wouldn’t have survived Louie Zamperini’s childhood, let alone what he endured during the war. Fascinating!

This new reading thing is great! I think I have actually felt my brain move around with some kind of interest. Too long has it atrophied while absorbing hours of idiocy from my glorious HDTV. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the TV. But good lord, some balance has been a long time coming!

This discovery has led me to establish a late resolution that I am determined to keep. I will be reading at least one new book each month! But don’t worry. I will not bore you with reviews and/or critiques. For eff’s sake, I’m hardly qualified to write a blog! Never mind offering thoughtful criticism of literary works.

So there you have it. I can read. YOU’RE surprised?! It was just as surprising to ME! But it’s an exciting thing and I’m looking forward to actually learning some things.

To you readers out there, one book a month is a pathetic goal. I know this. But cut me some slack! I don’t read good.

Cheers!

Dropping Some McKnowledge

social Did you know that everybody has a blog?! Seriously. Everyone! It took me an hour of hammering out incredibly clever URLs before landing on this one, the first of my attempts to actually be available in this vast Internetz wasteland.

But it’s not just blogs in the traditional “I’m gonna write a billion words because I’m of the delusion that people give a crap about what I say” kind of blog. It’s blogs of varying lengths and platforms. According to that bulletproof infographic above, more than 241 million people/businesses/Kardashians regularly document every mundane detail about their life.

Google’s 47,756 employees have created more than 540 million Google+ pages on their own!! That is meant to be a joke but honestly, do you know anyone outside of Google who ‘actively’ uses Google+? Are words too hard to string together but you still have a burning desire to display that beautifully filtered self-portrait for a bunch of anonymous pervs? More than 200 million people and dogs are using Instagram to do just that. This isn’t to say there isn’t some value in the use of social media. At least I hope there is. After all it’s a huge industry and a part of how I make a living, sooo…

But anyhoo, what this says is that there is an enormous amount of complete garbage floating around cyberspace. This surprises no one. The big problem with all this pollution is that it chokes the streams of useful information without adding more hours to the day for us to hunt down information which may actually be helpful and, God forbid, even educational.

In this “get it now” culture we’ve cultivated, many of us grab what info we can get in the moment and move on as millions of new messages stream in – pushing old nuggets out of view and out of our memory. Our opinions and debates are formed by what fits into a 140-character message. We leave no time for ourselves to absorb or even seek out context. Our ideas are headlines, and if we’re confused by something we can always pay close attention to celebrity opinions as if they might help to tell us on which side of an issue we should stand.

This is why Seth Rogen is labeled a communist or whatever for a trivial comment about a movie. It’s why a measles outbreak is the fault of illegal immigrants or anti-vaxxers or Mikey Mouse. It’s why clever editing and strategic quote grabbing can fuel an entire campaign, and people just blindly follow along (though, obviously not enough people in this case)! It’s also why videos of cute puppies and cats playing piano are so popular! After being bombarded with so much info day in and day out, you come home feeling like Ruprecht and our brains can’t handle anything else….

The biggest problem we face is getting steamrolled because we haven’t done our own due diligence to research beyond the headlines. Too many people accept the Tweets at face value because to look into things any further would detract from learning more about our friend’s vacation, or pinning that cool recipe. Then one day we look around and realize stuff has happened around us because we just weren’t paying enough attention or didn’t have the facts.

We all like to complain when things don’t go the way we would like them to, but if we just continue to sit around and get distracted by the latest shiny object we’re only going to get more divided and angry. I don’t know how long it will take or even if it will happen, but I can see and even hope for a point in the future where we have finally had enough of being told what and how to think because we’re too preoccupied to think for ourselves.

Those who perpetuate the half-truths and push slanted agendas are taking advantage of a population’s mass gullibility and unwillingness to act. You ever notice that nobody is actually fighting with the ones who ultimately make the decisions that impact our lives. Hell, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback took his state’s economy nearly a billion dollars in the wrong direction within one year and was rewarded with re-election! Members of his own party turned on him and still, he wins a second term. It was a slim margin of victory, but because of a culture that doesn’t look much beyond the surface, I have to think that anyone could have won this election so long as they had “Republican” next to their name.

Personalities on entertainment channels that portray themselves as “journalists” and “news resources” continue to have a voice that people trust for some reason, even when what they say is many times proven to be inaccurate. And by “many times” I mean as much as 60 PERCENT OF THE TIME according to this report. If you were wrong at anything 60 percent of the time you would likely be fired, fail out of school, or find a new hobby. You may also be a really good hitter in baseball, but that’s the exception and not the rule. Who could imagine that you could also help shape the narrative and have significant influence on an entire country?

The point to all of this is that our ability to pay attention has been severely hampered by the influx of information delivery platforms and a false sense that we “need” to know everything that’s thrown at us. There are certainly things that we need to know, but this onslaught is overwhelming our filters. We’re trying to let everything in while ultimately retaining nothing of substance. All the while, our systems fracture. We get angry, but many people have zero focus with no idea who they’re even angry at.

I hope to see a shift at some point. I would love to arrive at a place where the masses take the initiative to look beyond the surface and seek context. There is no reason for everyone to be so firmly divided on every issue if we’re ultimately all interested in taking care of each other and our society. There is room for the rapid technological expansion if we work to find the balance and maintain our ability to be critical, independent thinkers. There is freedom of speech, expression, and press. But included in those freedoms is our freedom to think and speak for ourselves in defense of ourselves. I hope we start taking advantage of that soon!

If you made it this far into this post, I can only assume you’re picking up what I’m throwing down. If I’m not on point, let me know! I can handle it. And before you say it, yes, I recognize the irony in writing so many words while acknowledging our short attention spans.

DISCLAIMER: Links in this post are provided to demonstrate examples of points. Baseball link aside, I do not necessarily endorse any of the sources or individuals. I’m Switzerland, baby!!

Cheers!

Dog Gone It

me_dogs

Well, this didn’t take long. Two blogs in and I’m going to focus in on a dog story! I guess we all saw that coming. After all, once I agreed to take on a third dog in my house I pretty well secured my status as the crazy dog guy.

But you know what? I make no apologies. I’m proud to be a crazy dog guy. If I could “liberate” all of the dogs currently living in shitty environments with despicable people and bring them to live on the wide open dog farm I have envisioned in my head, I would do it in a heartbeat!

I absolutely love dogs. For the vast majority of my life I have had at least one dog in my house. When I was born, we had a dog named Spooky. In elementary school into High School, it was a chow chow named Harry (or Hairy…either way works). Next it was border collie Gracie and a little Westie named Lucy.

Churro and Penny...napping, of course!Once I struck out on my own it took a while to take on the responsibility of looking after the life of another living being. But once I ended up with a wife and kid, I figured I could probably make this dog thing work. How hard could it be? Of course it helps move the process along when the wife exploits your weakness for cute dogs, shows you a photo of dog faces like the ones below, and asks if we can keep them.

As you might imagine, the question is always a formality as she has already made up her mind. If I’m seeing a picture of a dog, we’re getting a dog.

rolo2That is the exact process for how we ended up with those first two dogs in the photo. For the third one she didn’t even bother with a picture. I arrived home from work and as I pulled into the driveway, Wife was holding the little guy and claiming to be looking for his home. Please, spare me your good Samaritan tales, wife. We may be looking for his owners right now, but we both know he’s part of our herd now. It’s only a matter of time.

I think it took 24 hours to find Rolo’s owners and discover they were looking for a new home for him anyway. Lucky for them (and Rolo), he landed with the crazy dog guy!

Here’s the point. There are crazy dog people everywhere! We love dogs more than most people and go to ridiculous lengths to make sure they are loved and taken care of. Seriously! Our family even has “dog rule” in our house, meaning that if there’s a dog(s) in our lap we shouldn’t have to move for fear it could disturb the endless slumber of these beasts. Never mind that if they move, they’ll fall asleep wherever they may land within seconds!

Admittedly, we spoil the hell out of them because, let’s face it, they love us back more than any person ever could!

This is why it boggles my mind and shatters my heart when something disgustingly tragic like this happens. This horrible thing happened only two blocks from my house. I can’t even wrap my mind around it and can only think it’s more a result of a deeply disturbed human mind than simply a desire to torture animals…not that that makes it any better.

I just don’t get it. To deliberately bring harm to another innocent living thing is an act as old as time, but it is never something that gets easier to deal with. In the case of dogs (and really, any animal), there are countless people like me and organizations out there who would take care of them if you can’t or don’t want to. There are humane ways to put an animal down if it’s suffering. Never, under any circumstances, should a life end like that. Just a horrible thing…and maybe another reason to love dogs more than people. Without opposable thumbs, dogs couldn’t do something like that. But if that day should ever come, you better hope you respected “dog rule”.

Anyhoo, that got a lot heavier here than I expected. To bring some balance to things, here are some dog videos that I watched this week…

Cheers!

-Crazy Dog Guy

Blog Ambition

Here it is – 2015. The year that will introduce us to hoverboards, power laces, the double neck tie, and the technological wonder that is the fax machine. That is if Back to the Future II is any indicator of what is to be. But if the Cubs don’t win the World Series this year, I will have no choice but to believe that Hollywood is nothing but a factory of lies!

What the new year also means is yet another attempt by me to get a blog off the ground. For those keeping score, this is attempt number three. The first attempt was fun, but like all things in the world of my goldfish-like attention span, it fell off after awhile. But it does still have some dynamite content, so if you ever find yourself unemployed and need to fill the spare time, I urge you to check it out. If nothing else, it will at least make me feel better.

The second attempt was admittedly half-hearted. I had all the intentions in the world of establishing an outlet for myself that would feature regular stories and random acts of silliness from this crazy world of ours. But once I exhausted all of my creativity on a clever header graphic, my interest and commitment to the blog once again took a nosedive. Still, dynamite content.

This third incarnation is your fault! Okay, maybe not you specifically. However, hard as it may be to believe, I have received several requests to start a blog and continue writing. The requests have been very flattering as I’ve never thought much of the words I string together. However, I have always enjoyed writing, dating back to at least third grade when I wrote a story about a fat kid getting stuck in a door. Seriously, I wrote a story like that…and it was good.

In seventh grade I even remember doing mock job interviews as a classroom project. I couldn’t think of anything I enjoyed more than writing, so I decided to be interviewed for an authoring job. I would’ve picked “baseball player”, but that isn’t really something you interview for.

Bottom line – I enjoy writing and I intend to do just that right here. You likely won’t find any common themes tying everything together, but I hope that you may find a little enjoyment out of it if you do decide to follow along.

Thanks to everyone who has given me a push to do this. I hope to keep it going this time around, and I hope it adequately reflects whatever it is you saw in me that made you say, “Hey Jordan, you should write a blog.”

Cheers!