April 29, 2009

Hey Mr. DJ put a record on….

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 1:22 am

Headphones, headphones, everywhere headphones. It has become common practice and parlance to allow a moment for the person with whom you are talking to remove them before the actual conversation begins. This is true if it is just two people passing on the street, or someone approaching the clerk with items to purchase. Often, the removal process only involves one ear and the music doesn’t stop for a minute (I’m not even going to get started on the notion of wearing them to the dinner table, in the family room with other family members present or when driving around as a family, all of which I find to be loathsome activities).

I have an iPod too, and I enjoy listening to it, but there is a time and a place for everything. For the same reason I don’t talk on my phone when I check out at stores, I do not have my iPod plugged in and playing at those times either.

It’s not just the P’s and Q’s I’m worried about either. I think people are missing much of what goes on about them in life. A big part of learning and growing comes from experience. From observing what is going on around you, how other people deal with issues that you are not dealing with yet, but may be in the future.

Not just people related to you, but complete stranger help shape our societal interactions. When that interaction and observation is gone, so are the lessons that go with them. Further, its not just seeing how people handle things so that you can handle similar situations when you get older that is lost. Observations also teach us what not to do. Many is the time I came home and asked my mom or dad why someone would do a certain thing, only to find out that one shouldn’t do that thing, and why.

I couldn’t hope to count how many conversations were started at my house with words like “I overheard this on the way home” (or while at the mall, or whatever). Now, what kids (and adults) are hearing are their favorite songs, or books, or podcasts. All of which is fine and good. But, I just fear what we, as a society, are missing in the process.

April 28, 2009

Politics 101?

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 8:37 pm

Both Bill Clinton and Gary Hart had similar “encounters” with women which will forever partially define their political careers.

Amongst other things, Clinton said:

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” –President Bill Clinton

and Hart said:

“This attractive lady whom I had only recently been introduced to dropped into my lap….I chose not to dump her off.” –Sen. Gary Hart, referring to an encounter with Donna Rice

Clinton was re-elected President and Hart withdrew his candidacy for President. I leave you to draw your own conclusions as too how much of an impact their actions and responses effected their respective futures (I am also – intentionally - leaving out a considerable amout of history and other quotes).

But I do find it to be an interesting contrast.

This is just a bad idea… all around…

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 4:49 pm

Kyle Maynard says, unlike the army, where he might have put someone else at risk, he should be able to participate in MMA fights, as the only person he puts at risk is himself. He feels that he has a reasonable chance of winning a fight and therefore should be allowed to compete. I think Kyle Maynard needs a new hobby.

I know there are several of you scratching your heads right now, thinking this is not like me. You probably think I should support this guy, and that he should be given his chance. Sorry, but I don’t. For a variety of reasons.

First of all, he is not only putting himself at risk. There is another person in that ring with him, and while it is highly unlikely that he will injur that person physically, there is going to be a stigma attached to anyone who does anything differently than Frye did in how previous fight (i.e. avoid him at all costs and throw enough punches to win a decision).

On top of that, despite my intense dislike for the sport, it puts MMA in general at risk. While I loathe the sport and cannot imagine why anyone would chose to engage in it, I also believe, even more strongly, in a person’s right to make choices for themselves, provided that choice does not limit the options of others in the process. Ultimately, I think Maynard’s choice might just have that sort of limiting effect on MMA. There are those just looking for the chance to lump the sport with cock or dog fighting and make it illegal. A Kyle Maynard fight makes a great starting point for that argument.

Frye was “nice” he threw the occasional jab, and danced and avoided. Others in this brutal sport will not be as kind. Maynard thinks Frye avoided kicking him because it would lead to a take down, demonstrating that Maynard has no clue about what might happen in that cage. Kicks in a MMA match are not your school yard bully kicks that you simply reach out and grab, they are disciplined, quick and powerful martial arts attacks. Fully limbed and trained fighters seldom catch kicks and turn them into wrestling opportunities. No, a fighter willing to kick Maynard might make him unrecognizable, if the referee didn’t stop the bloodbath in time.

Mind you, I’m not against Kyle Maynard or what he is accomplishing. Obviously, he is overcoming a disadvantageous situation in a remarkable way. It is important to note this we are not talking about a guy who has taken himself to unprecedented heights in MMA. Kyle Maynard is a very accomplished person. Ignoring his sports accomplishments, here is a quote from a yahoo sports article:

He’s been honored by presidents, won humanitarian awards and appeared on “Oprah.” He wrote a national best-selling book, “No Excuses,” and has spent the last few years giving motivational speeches across the country. (full yahoo sports article here)

Clearly he has accomplished a lot and is not trying to make a buck exploiting himself (or allowing someone else to do so). However, MMA in my opinion is not, and should not be, a part of normal society. It is a barbaric ode to Christians v. Lions, gladiators, and other vestiges of a more primitive history, best left unrecorded. It is not, in my opinion, a place for people who keep the company of Presidents, and are humanitarian award winning best-selling authors.

Maynard is not good for MMA and MMA is not good for Maynard. This is a classical lose-lose scenario… no matter how “feel good” some people would like it to be. Maynard said he understood when the Army rejected him based on the fact that he might put someone else at risk, my hope is that he will understand at some point that he should reject MMA for similar reasons.

April 27, 2009

Men do not think about sex every 6 seconds…

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 9:45 pm

Sex is on my oh-so-fluid-depending-on-my-mood-top-10-things-to-do list. It is always on that list. Sometimes it is at the top, sometimes (rarely) it is at the bottom. It can safely be assumed, that at most times, it is in the top six (along with, in no particular order, food, sleep, reading writing and playing basketball). Those six things are the “UN Security Council – Permanent Members” of my top ten things to do list.

The other four things are made up of seasonal or situational interlopers that dip their foot into the pool of big time desires upon occasion. Things like poker, watching sports, going for walks or runs, etc.

Please note, this list should not be confused with the ever important People-I-want-to-do-these-things-with list. In other words, not including “hang with my kids” on the list is not revealing, the top ten list is meaningless without my loved ones, that’s just not what we are talking about here (and, if you actually needed to read, needed to have explained, found value or found new information in this most recent paragraph, your probably not a close friend of mine anyway).

I am a boy, so here is how this works (it may work the same for girls, but I’m not one, so I can’t say for sure). If something is on my top 10 list, I want to do it. I want to do it now, and I want to do it often. So that we are clear, it can always be said that all 10 of the items on the list at any given time sound good. It does not matter where they are on the list, this is not a comparative thing. If it is on the list, it has a free pass to “lets do this” and does not need to be discussed, weighed or measured.

I mention this because, especially with sex, there seems to be some basic incompatibilities between men and women (at least, historically, between me and women). Here’s why. If you (as a woman) act like sex is unimportant to you, and you show interest in something else on the top 10 list (like, perhaps, reading), sex becomes something I can take or leave. Not because I’m not interested in sex, but because it just became “go time” for another item on the list, and I’m too excited about that to be bothered with the other 9 items.

Where this becomes dangerous is when someone, over time, shows interest in a variety of things that are on my top 10 list for a protracted length of time. It becomes a problem because I will be happy as a clam, without sex (yup, I said it). It becomes a problem, because they think I’m not interested in sex, and by extension, not interested in them at that level. Which is simply not the case.

As an aside, this brings up a real bone of contention for me; people being upset that having sex with them is not my top priority (thinking me disinterested), while also taking the liberty of being offended when it is (objectifying them). This is the ultimate “cake and eat it too” scenario, and, it’s dumb. :)

Back to the point. I’m not saying all of this as a complaint, nor am I trying to lay blame. I just want to make the point that, sometimes, I, as a boy, am going to appear disinterested, and that is not the case. I just happen to also be interested in whatever it is that you appear to be interested in as well. This is true of me, and it is true of other guys I know… so, it might just be handy information to have.

I’m just say’n :)

PS as for the title of this piece.  A Kinsey Institute report indicates that men do not think about sex every 6 seconds, but rather every two minutes.  But don’t dispair ladies, those thoughts last for a full minute and 50 seconds… so while the thoughts are formed far less often than rumor has it, they still, theoretically,  dominate the mind roughly 25 seconds out of every minute!

April 20, 2009

When bad sports go… worse??

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 3:00 pm

I should start by pointing out that I do not like UFC, at all. For years growing up I said I couldn’t imagine a “sport” worse than boxing, and then along came UFC. Having said that, my teen loves it, and since I cannot control every aspect of his life, this is one of the battles on which I have chosen to give some ground (“give some ground” meaning I watch them with him and try to point out the sporting aspects of the event, when they occur, rather than allowing the focus to be on the blood and gore). Two things happened this weekend, though, that made this whole process even more difficult to swallow.

First, I got a little dose of UFC history. It turns out the protective gloves they wear on their hands, are not there to protect the other guys face, they are there to protect their own hands. In the early UFC tournaments, fighters could only hit one another so long with bare knuckled fists before their hands were too beaten up (by the other guys face) to continue. So, in order to be able to punish their opponent’s face longer, the put padding on their hands… nice.

The second thing was the “main event” on Saturday night, in which Anderson Silva systematically dispatched his opponent (Thales Leites) in five rather boring rounds. Silva is the dominant fighter in virtually every aspect of the sport, widely considered the best pound for pound fighter on the planet. His opponent however had an advantage in one aspect, which was his ground game.

As such, every time he had the opportunity Leites would flop to the ground and try to lure Silva into making a mistake (engaging him on the ground). Silva, to smart a champion to make such a mistake would simply wait until Leites got back to his feet, and go back about the business of winning the fight… something many would consider his job.

Silva tried to spice it up along the way, dancing and gyrating in an attempt to mock his opponent into actually fighting rather than just flopping onto his back, it did not work. He even tried some sort of strange “no look-behind the leg” kick thing I’d have to see again to even begin to understand.

Long story made short, Silva did exactly what sporting champions have done for generations, he focused on his maximizing strengths and minimizing his opponents. Normally, in sports things like “controlling the tempo” of the event are saluted. Often, the word dominating is used when a person so completely dictates the tempo and nature of the event, Saturday night the word used was “embarrassing.”

But not in UFC. Every summary of the contest, including the interview with UFC’s head honcho (Dana White), pointed out how Silva had failed, how it would be difficult to market him in the future, and how there were serious questions about whether he should really be considered the best in the game any longer. He was booed from the middle of the (admittedly uninspiring) first round forward.

This underlines my concern about this “sport.” It’s not about sport, or competition, or accomplishment, it’s about blood, and pounding your opponent into submission.

It has often been said about people, cultures and nations, that if you cannot respect yourself, you cannot reasonably expect others to do the same… I believe UFC suffers from this affliction. As much as I dislike the “sport” Saturday night a great champion did exactly what a great champion is supposed to do. For his efforts he was booed, criticized by his own organization and the wags that cover it.

I cannot, for the life of me, imagine what Anderson Silva would be embarrassed about. By contrast, it does not take much creativity for me to identify why White and the UFC in general should be abashed.

Perhaps they can start using some padded pens, so they can spew more vitriol without being held back by writer’s cramp…

April 15, 2009

The answer to life, the universe, and everything… 42

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 3:33 pm

Things are going to be a little different at the ball park today. A play by play might just sound like this:

At the plate number 42 stands ready. 42 winds up, and here’s the delivery. Swung on and grounded toward short. 42 scoops it up and shovels over to 42 covering second, the relay to number 42 at first is on time and the side is retired.

Sound confusing? Perhaps. However, where once there was one, there now are many, in fact, all. Today in baseball, every player in uniform (as well as coaches and umpires) will be wearing the number 42 as a salute to Jackie Robinson.

Like no other sport, and perhaps no other avocation of any kind, baseball celebrates its “coming of age” (by virtue of including all of the best players, not just the best white players into the game) loudly and proudly every year. In fact every day. Jackie Robinson’s number, 42, has been retired by every team in the league, and if you look around any major league ball park, somewhere, you will see it hanging or painted on a wall.

Robinson literally broke the color barrier for blacks, however, figuratively, he broke it for everyone. So today I too, in every way I can, will be wearing that number…

April 14, 2009

What an asshole!!!

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 9:20 pm

Recently I watched the movie The Duchess. There was one scene in particular that struck me. The Duke, sitting at the table with his mistress and his wife, refused his wife’s suggestion of a compromise (that she be able to have an affair with someone she had fallen for, since was being forced to live in the same house with her husband’s mistress). His refusal was based on the premise that there was no reason for him to compromise, he was in charge. She would live there with him, and the mistress, she would not make a fuss about it, and she certainly would not make him look foolish by having an affair.

What struck me about this scene (other than the obvious asshole qualities of the Duke) was how much it reminded me of U.S. foreign policy, particularly during the Bush era. Ultimatum after ultimatum was handed down to nation after nation. Protestations about the ultimatums, or the validity of the charges, etc. were summarily ignored and nations sanctioned or invaded in the interest of national security.

Recently, President Obama has softened the nation’s stance (a little) on Iran. Moving away from harsh demands and seeking a compromise which would include inspectors. The ultimate objective is the same, a non-nuclear Iran (at least as far as weapons go), but the approach is different and strikes me as a step in the right direction.

The bottom line, of course, is that as long as we are dealing from a position of hypocrisy, it is going to be difficult for us to obtain any real level of cooperation from any other nation, ally or adversary. We have a stockpile of nuclear weapons large enough to wipe out the Earth’s population over and over again. More significantly (to me) we have tactical nukes designed to be used in conjuncture with conventional efforts in a single campaign. We continue research and development of these and other weapons systems, and at the same time expect nations like Iran to accept falling further and further behind militarily.

Falling behind like this leads to nothing but desperation, and we have seen time and time again what a disadvantaged group of people do when they become desperate. Somali Pirates, Palestinian suicide bombers, Al-Qaeda terrorists, Massachusetts Minutemen all come from the same place… desperation.

I’m not advocating that Iran, or anyone else become a new nuclear power, by contrast, I am suggesting that we, as a nuclear power find ways to stop being one, and help other do the same thing. I believe the path to reducing the external threat of nuclear weapons includes not being such a threat ourselves.

Unless of course we’re okay with playing the role of the Duke…

April 11, 2009

Truth AND Dare…

Filed under: Just life — sbj @ 12:33 am

I now have no idea how this blog is going to turn out. I pasted the quote below into my blogs editing area this morning with the intent of adding very little to it other than accolades to my friend Marshall for posting it. However, since life waits for no one, while I was doing other things, the context of this post has changed dramatically. And now, as I sit on the bus composing in, I really do not where it is going anymore.

I guess we’ll start with the clip from his facebook note and go from there:

The following is from a women who met a man and fell in love with during a college trip to Europe. A brief affair and both went on to the lives they were meant to live. The met again by accident — below is their last meeting and a phone call.

We arranged to meet at a little Japanese restaurant near the Manhattan side of the Roosevelt Island tram because he couldn’t walk very far. He was seated when I arrived, and his body seemed to take up less space in the chair. I had to purse my lips to keep from crying.
“It looks bad, I know,” he said in a voice empty of that raucous energy that had always defined him. “But not to worry. I have great doctors.”
Another three weeks passed. When I called his house, the phone rang and rang, and there was no machine. One evening I tried again. This time a woman answered.
“Hi,” I said. “May I please speak to Patrick?”
There was an awkward silence.
“I’m sorry to tell you this,” she said in faintly accented English. “Patrick died. It was about two weeks ago.”

How dare we let people out of our lives!

This story was moving enough for me when it stood on its own. However, after this afternoon, with the point driven in so firmly and clearly… let’s just say I am shaken and stirred. My friend Devyl (if you come here with any regularity, you know who she is, as she is one of my most frequent and expressive commenter’s) essentially had this happen to her this afternoon.

So, it has become for me, even more real. I have a friend experiencing the loss of her Patrick, weeks after the fact, wondering where the years went, reconciling the events that conspired to create the chasm in their friendship, and lamenting what could have been.

The next, obvious, step is that I’m thinking about the friends I have made over the years, that have slipped through the cracks of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. People I once couldn’t live without that I have… well… lived without. Moreover, I am thinking about people that are still in my life, but perhaps a little tenuously perched, and wondering if I am really satisfied with where I have them placed in the grand scheme of things.

I find myself wondering if I am being daring… in a bad way. No, actually, I find myself wondering how often I am being daring in a bad way; because, I know that I am, what is at question is the degree.

I have a little spare time tonight, the teen is hanging out with friends, so I think I’m going to spend some of it being a touch more conservative, if you catch my meaning. I think I even know a pretty good place to start…

April 10, 2009

Made in China??

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 2:23 pm

I had an interesting conversation with my boss yesterday. We were talking about the various problems of the world, including but not limited to global warming, shortages of natural resources, etc. In the middle of this interchange he threw out this little nugget “one of the things China has done right is the mandated control on population growth.”

Clearly, without giving any context, I have set him up for some backlash, so I’ll clarify that we were on the topic of overpopulation and its effect upon natural resources and had also touched on the recent Vatican decree regarding the use of condoms. As such, I’m sure you can see how the comment was not quite as random and uninformed as it may have appeared out of the gate.

Back to the point J

As I considered his point, that overpopulation is the cause of many, if not most, of our major issues, I was once again reminded how many traditions we carry forward despite their antiquated necessity. Specifically, with regard to his comment, the notion of creating a large family.

Historically, of course, creating a large family was function of the human survival instinct, and due to mortality rates etc. made a lot of sense (it is also true that in an effort to propagate ideologies, i.e. religions, less publically acknowledged reproductions campaigns have been waged). As society became more civil (also debatable in some venues), health care improved, mortality rates went down, and life expectancies continue to climb the need for larger families was effectively eliminated.

The desire to embrace this tradition, however, didn’t. Having a large family has become something people do because they want to, rather than out of necessity. The bad news is that we are approaching (if not beyond) the breaking point. Eventually, survival is going to depend on people having smaller families and reversing a trend that currently sees births outpacing deaths two to one (in the United States).

We have an energy and foreign dependency problem, and yet we continue to purchase Hummers, Tahoe’s and other inefficient cars. We have worldwide water shortages, and continue to waste this precious resource. We have the ability to recycle but still, most families and businesses don’t.

Fixing these problems is too often perceived to be someone else’s responsibility. We are too busy, or too entitled, or to “something else.” More and more, the problems we face are becoming global and potentially catastrophic in nature, and a significant number of those problems can be linked to over-population.

The question, I guess, is whether our society will be willing to self correct and adapt to the changing times or if, as the Chinese have done, government will have to intervene for the benefit of the whole. People have a very good track record when it comes to sacrificing for their own personal benefit; the record is not so illustrious when it comes to sacrificing for the general good.

I’d hate to think that some of the horrible things I have heard out of China (as a direct result of population control efforts) were ever identified with progress; however, if we do not take responsibility for ourselves… we may find ourselves in the same boat.

And that is something worth thinking about.

RIP – Nick Adenhart

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 12:56 am

Last night I listened to a Major League Baseball game on the Radio between the Oakland A’s (my favorite team) and the Angels (I give up on what city to attach to the front of their team name). I listened to my nine repeatedly threaten to score, and the Angels rookie pitcher deftly work his way out of the situation. For six innings this pattern repeated itself with the visiting boys in green and gold unable to produce. Time after time the A’s would get hits and time after time he would settle things down and right the ship.

Much later last night, the same rookie pitcher was faced with a far more dire set of circumstances, and, the youngster who had managed to dig himself out of messes of his own making all evening, was denied the opportunity to escape a jam and was subsequently killed in an incident completely out of his control.

During the hours between ten and one last night (roughly the time I went to bed and the time he was hit by a van that had run a red light and whose driver then fled the scene), roughly 800 people died in the United States (according to national averages), 20 in automobile related accidents. In this sense there is nothing particularly special about Nick Adenhart.

And yet, he is headline news… and I’m glad of it.

I trust it goes without saying that I’m not glad for the passing of this young man with such a bright future, it is indeed tragic. At the same time I do not feel he is more deserving of attention, sympathy, or reverence than any of the others whose time has recently and prematurely come. However, there is, in all such things, opportunity.

His passing shines the light and opens the door, once again, for conversations regarding social responsibility. If 799 people had passed last night the number of people concerned with unsafe drivers and the general ethical commitment of our society (and the myriad of other issues I have heard discussed today) would be smaller, by at least an order of magnitude.

So while I’m not glad (I am, in fact deeply saddened, especially given the fact that he had only very recently effected my life in a minor way) that Adenhart was unable avoid damage from that one final “hit” last night; I am glad that a portion of the nation’s attention has been once again drawn to issues of importance as a result.

I am also hopeful that something positive will come of this. Perhaps it will be that one normally inattentive driver in Orlando pays attention on Friday night and avoids an accident. Perhaps it will be that one good driver in Modesto becomes just a little better by being more defensive and taking that extra look before entering an intersection. Perhaps it will simply be that someone reads this piece and thinks, if not for more than a moment… “am I doing everything I can to be a good steward of my society, am I being my bothers keeper.”

Because if they do, 800 lives (and deaths) had just a little more meaning then they did prior to 12:30am this morning; and while that won’t bring any of them back… it would be something.

April 8, 2009

What’s the worst thing they can do… say no?

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 7:53 pm

When I was growing up, I repeated the line to my friends countless times, and they, of course, repeated it back to me. “What’s the worst thing that can happen? If they say no, and you are exactly where you are now. You have nothing to lose.”

Sometimes, my friends were wrong. Sometimes I got a good talking to about what I was thinking. However, a far greater amount of the time, I simply got a yes or no and the right to move on. It was usually only when I failed to exercise that right, and stood and argued that I had any real trouble.

It seems, however, that people have lost a little bit of that adventurous spirit. Whether it is asking that gal (or guy) on a date, asking for a raise, or seeking a favor from a friend, people seem less and less willing to extend themselves, even when they don’t have anything to lose.

Is it just me? Or are people just a little gun shy these days?

I friend of mine is head over heels for a gal he works with. They have a solid friendship, get along very well, and are compatible in more ways than most people who enter relationships. However, he simply cannot bring himself to ask her out.

The list of reasons is long, but not distinguished. “I don’t want to ruin the friendship;” “She doesn’t like me that way;” and my personal favorite “It will make things awkward at the office.” Well rehearsed platitudes for his fear of rejection.

This is so common, it frightens me.

I have another friend who is drastically under-employed. There is an opening up the ladder from her current position but she is unwilling to apply for it. Her hang up is that she does not excel at one(1) of the skills on the list, and she is afraid that she would be putting her current job at risk applying for a job which she feels she is not qualified to hold.

We are a society living in fear. But not just from terrorists, recessions (depressions?), global warming and the other things our leaders tell us to be afraid of; much worse, we are afraid of ourselves. We are afraid of our shortcomings, inadequacies, and weaknesses, ignoring our attributes in the process.

We also forget that there is always a movie we can watch at home if she (he) says no, there is always our current job (or another just like it) if we are passed over for that promotion; but there is not always that chance.

I say… if you want something, and you need permission to have it… just ask. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. More often than not, the person on the other end of the question is going to respect your drive and ambition more because you asked than if you had not.

So go ahead… do it… ask. What’s the worst thing that can happen???

With wings you can fly… without???

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 4:21 pm

So, there’s this song on the radio right now, by The Great American Rejects, called “Gives you Hell,” here, you can listen to it if you like:

It reminds me a lot of this song (Carrie Underwood – Before He Cheats):

And… even this one (Pink – So What):

All three of these songs (and the others out there like them) do, in fact, “give me hell.” But probably not or the reasons the artists would like them too. These are all hollow reprisals and retributions. There is nothing affirming, positive or constructive about them.

In each, the action is being driven by the person who injured the singer, not the singer, so they are absolutely not asserting the control over the situation they would like you to believe they are. Rather, they remain completely under the control of the person they are singing about.

Is this really the message we want out there with regard to dealing with adversity? I, for one, do not think so.

I’d rather take two of these and stat over in the morning (India Arie – Wings of Forgiveness):

April 7, 2009

Quick, Duke fans… plug your eyes! You do not want to read this.

Filed under: Uncategorized — sbj @ 7:35 pm

I am a Duke fan, by extension I am a North Carolina not-fan. Nonetheless I was pleased yesterday when UNC won the national championship. They were the best team, by every measure, in college basketball this year. In addition to being the best team, they overcame injuries as well. In other words it was not just a season where everything went right for them. Moreover though, I’m pleased because one of the hardest working yeomen I have ever seen in a college uniform culminated his career exactly as it should be.

Tyler Hansbrough is not the best player on the UNC team. In fact, he may not be in the top four (yeah, I said it). At the next level, he probably will have less of an impact than Lawson (the best and most valuable player on this particular UNC team), Davis, Green and perhaps even Ellington. However, he is quite possibly the hardest working player in the game, and certainly on that team.

Moreover, he did things right. College is (supposed to be) a four year commitment, by the student, to the school and to themselves, and Tyler Hansbrough, by all reports, took both ends of that commitment seriously. He could have left for the NBA after his sophomore season, he could have departed after his Junior year as well… he didn’t.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player I thought was more deserving of a championship. That, coupled with the fact that, since the great UNLV teams of the early 90’s, I cannot think of a team that was more deserving (based on talent) I think it is safe to say that the best team, and individual, won.

Despite being a duke fan, I’m glad they did…

April 6, 2009

Hello! Goodbye?

Filed under: Just life — sbj @ 3:08 pm

Is it strange or wrong to miss someone who isn’t really gone? I’m not even really sure if I’m mourning the eventual inevitable loss, or the current compromised presence. All I know for sure is that for whatever reason, while still having the benefit of the companionship, I am simultaneously lamenting its demise.

I’m sure demise is a bit strong. The reality is probably more of a transformation. The question, however, is this: how do you live with the post-transformation relationship when you have enjoyed the full light of the current one.

One of the life-lessons I learned early on, and have shared with others many times over the years, is that all relationships, when you are in them, seem larger than they are. I have had numerous friends that were so close to me, so integral and woven into the fabric of my life that the loss of them would have been unimaginable. And yet, they all (most of them anyway) went their own way, and my life moved on perfectly well without them.

The bottom line, really, is that no matter how dark the hour or trying the situation, you eventually get on with life. This includes the loss or transformation of friends, loved ones etc.. I know this, I have preached this, and yet, when faced with it, again, in my own life I find myself going through the same old emotions.

Just like everyone else, my advice is fantastic, unless I need to apply it to myself (are you hearing this banking industry?). Since I’m not yet willing to take my own advice, perhaps I will take a different tack and hope for the best. Who knows, maybe there’s a purpose to these emotions after all… to keep you in the game when it seems like you should leave.

After all… just because something is inevitable doesn’t mean it has to happen, right?

April 3, 2009

My name is Soren Jacobsen, and I’m an addict.

Filed under: Uncategorized — sbj @ 4:07 am

I was having a conversation a couple of days ago and the proverbial lightning struck. After saying “that is what I am shooting for, I’m just not there yet” for about the third or fourth time, I realized that I have a dependency problem. I am dependent on my bad habits and vices.

While it is true taht I need to form new good habits, I also need to acknowledge and break my bad ones. This may not seem like a major revelation to you, perhaps it shouldn’t even have been to me, but it was. I have always thought I could/would/should improve my life by forming new good strong habits. While this is a good thing to do, I also have to break my bad ones, and those two things are far less interconnected than I have imagined them to be.

For example, limiting myself to affirming positive conversations, being uplifting instead of conversing by reduction (bringing people or things down) requires not only a focus on the positive, but a concerted effort to break my dependency on the low hanging fruit of snark and sarcasm.

I grew up surrounded by sarcasm, in my home, in my school and in my community. The cool kids were also the snarky ones. If you could throw down a quick quip here and there, you were a “made man,” if not… well future quips probably had something to do with you. Sarcasm became part of me, second nature (perhaps even first nature, to be honest), and over the years I have developed an dependency upon it. In some ways, it defines me, and something that defines you is never easy to let go of, even after you recognize it as not being one of your better characteristics.

Surrounding myself with positively messaged music that inspires and uplifts requires me to also remove the remaining vestiges of negative or angry music. Again, many of those songs in one way or another define me, or at least define a past stage of my life. How do you reject the theme songs of your 20’s without rejecting yourself in the process?

It takes no effort to immerse myself in India Arie and Michael Franti; however, making my toes stop tapping and my arms stop waving to Snoop, Dre and 2pac just isn’t as easy. I know what I want to do, I just struggle to do it.

I extol the virtues of “green” but only in the last 48 hours have I begun turning off the computers every night. I rail against waste, and then I walk down to Jack in the Box and grab a 5 piece bag of mini-churos, supporting that poster child of excess, gluttony and waste, the fast food restaurant.

I want to eat well, I want to eat local and I want to stop supporting establishments that produce, encourage or enable waste. But I grew up with treats, I like sweets, and sometimes my desire for it overrides my passion for conservation.

In other words sometimes, my bad habits, which I have not broken, overpower the good habits that I have embraced.

The bottom line is this. My development as the person I want to become is, at times, being outpaced by my desire to become the person I want to become. I cannot break all of my bad habits fast enough to clear the way the good ones to replace them.

So I wind up , for a period of time, at least, being a hypocrite. Not because I am , in fact, unwilling to simultaneously make things good for both the goose and the gander, and certainly not for want of doing so, but because I am in simply not there yet on letting go.

I know the right behavior, I preach the right behavior, but I have not let go of the bad behavior completely yet. Much like a smoker, alcoholic or drug user who is hooked, knows better, tells others of their mistakes and pitfalls so that they can learn from them… and then falls back into them; I wind up dipping back into the pool while at the same time cautioning my children (for example) not to get into it in the first place.

Yep, I’m an addict…. an addict of my own past… an addict of myself. I’m working hard every day to kick the habit, and the first step is admitting you have a problem… right?

April 1, 2009

Take two of these and call me in the morning (if it’s okay with your pharmacist that is)

Filed under: Observations — sbj @ 4:17 pm

I guess I think any legislation that is likely to produce more pro-life or pro-choice signs, banners, or slogans is bad. I guess I think any legislation that increases government control without offering any social assistance is bad. And I guess I think any legislation that opens a door, if not an entire slippery slope to neglect or abuse in public service is bad.

In my mind HB 216 which passed in the Idaho House of Representatives yesterday and is now on the way to the Senate is just such a bill. The bill essentially gives further blessing (codifying an existing allowance of omission), in the form of employee security against termination from their employer, to pharmacists to refuse to fill prescribed medications of that prescription conflicts with their personal moral convictions.

Many will tell you this is a contraceptive bill, specifically a morning after or “plan B” bill. To me this is a scarlet letter bill. Opponents of this bill, or more specifically, proponents of “plan B” could very well create a list of pharmacists who are refusing to dispense doctor prescribed medication, and protest. With this legislation, employers are tied to the employee, and by extension the protestors. Further, depending on what the majority of pharmacists decide to do, a real and significant social stigma could become associated with their decision.

It is my belief that some jobs are bigger than the individual who fills them. I do not expect the fine men and women who “protect and serve” to be making moral decisions on who they apprehend and who they don’t. If a certain officer of the law thinks marijuana should be legal (as I do, by the way), I still fully expect him to arrest a drug dealer pushing pot on kids at the Jr High in my back yard.

Right or wrong, I view the relationship between a doctor and pharmacist to be similar to that of the legislature and the police. The legislature, through significant research and debate, creates the laws we live by; the police enforce those laws. For the same reasons Legislators do not go around ensuring our laws are followed, police do not make decisions based on what they think those laws should be.

When I go to see my trusted long time family physician, and they take the time to evaluate my medical history, my current conditions, all of their medical training and what is going on in the community, health wise, in order to prescribe the best solution to my particular health problem, what I don’t want is a swing shift pharmacist making a personal moral choice about my health. I trust my doctor, I have a relationship with him, and I know he is operating within his theater by issuing my prescription.

If a pharmacist is not going to put the interests of his clients ahead of his own, I think their employer should have every right to dismiss them and find one who will. Ultimately, the pharmacist is not the one who is going to suffer for his decision, his employer is, and giving a person the right to place someone else at a disadvantage is not something I can condone.

Ironically, the bill at first gave the same “freedoms of conscience” to cashiers and delivery people also employed by a pharmacy, however, upon further review by the august members of the legislature, this was amended out, it appears Pharmacists have valid ethical compasses but cashiers cannot be trusted to make the same sort of moral judgments while actually ringing up the purchase.

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