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The Gold and the Guns…

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Bugs bunny.png

Sing it Bugs … 

Overture, curtain, lights,
This is it, the night of nights
No more rehearsing and nursing a part
We know every card by heart …

HEADLINE: Pyeongchang, Korea vs. Parkland, Florida

How do we hit the heights and the depths all in one moment; the heavenliness of the Olympics running into a brutal head-on collision with bloody savage gunfire hell?

Easy… the starter’s gun fires springing the loaded athlete from the gate at the top of the mountain… while… simultaneously a loaded AR-15 weapon of mass mayhem fires, unleashing spurting pools of blood and panic in children’s classrooms.

Or, as a fellow named Dickens antithetically noted,

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

comedy tragedy masks

Spring of hope, winter of despair

There are physics’ rules that explain it I suppose.

After all, Einstein himself said, “energy is neither created nor destroyed“….

… Potential energy in athletes created = Potential energy in murdered children expended.

I live in Canada, but I can’t coldly turn aside and avoid the pain that crosses an invisible geographic and linguistic border when children are senselessly annihilated.

There is beauty and heartbreak in sport… is anything more lovely than a young man or woman flying into momentary orbit, spinning on their own axis 3 or 4 times, then returning to icy terra firma in delicate and graceful balletic form?

As the climax of their performance nears, a bright smile of joy alights and beams for the adoring crowd… or… tears of anguish swell when an unsuccessful program marks the end of the journey.

There is beauty and heartbreak in gun ownership… there must be some beauty, although I struggle to find it … a plethora of TV shows and movies are released each week glutted with exquisitely choreographed scenes of gunfire and bloodshed. Forgive my confusion when the censors tut-tut naked bodies and lovemaking, and yet merrily abide mass murder vistas that any adult or child can absorb daily.

Contradiction, we all eventually discover, is a part of humanity.

We have friction and conflict… a conflict of belief systems.

Curiously, I shake my head and gaze on as the “pros” and “cons” of gun control tread ground on opposite sides of a mirror that they believe is a window… they can never quite see each other’s image.

I watch those talking heads on CNN debate gun issues ferociously. It’s fascinating to see mouths moving where no ears are listening.

It’s as if one side speaks Latin and the other side Swahili.

You say tow-may-tow, I say tow-maah-tow… where you see biosolids, I only smell shit.

So how do we move forward?

ESL flags.jpg

OMG, I hope you weren’t expecting me to have the answer. Sorry. I don’t.

I can only view it all through my own lens and seek out some sort of truth that makes sense in my own mind.

Value for me has been teaching ESL and literacy-challenged adults to learn something that seems so easy. Language. Simple, basic language.

I’m forced to break down the elements of what most of us consider too rudimentary to need explaining.

I’m compelled to immerse myself in a world of explaining what I don’t truly understand at the fundamental level.

Oh sure, I know a noun from a verb from an adjective, but I get all muddley-fuddley when we start slipping in terms like diphthong and dangling modifier and reflexive pronoun.

These are experiences that help me step back and look and listen to see what I’m missing. To learn. To understand.

These are experiences that remind me that my culture and environment are not the same as the person sitting opposite me. To learn. To understand.

The gun culture is Swahili to my Latin.

I look around my gun-lite Canadian world and worry that there are too many young boys brought up to traipse the backwoods with a weapon and bring down a living creature … and then… rah rah… call it… sport.

The Oxford English Dictionary says sport is : An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

The use of guns and hunting as sustenance is one thing… but calling it sport makes me vomit.

How do I find a way to learn and understand this “sport”? Killing as entertainment?

In my world, sport is something that pushes the human body to achieve and improve… to aim for higher, faster, stronger… the Olympics at least attempts to solve that equation. A gun may fill your tummy, but will never be about achievement or improvement.

I know our world is driving the long and winding road to more civility, more kindness and understanding. The historic fog is lifting. There’s an inevitability to it that, like the tsunami of technology that floods our world, is unstoppable.

It’s just that, like so many things in my life, I feel an urgent impatience for the next steps to occur along that highway. Hurry up. Learn. Understand. Please…

The internet has proven its worth as a change agent for women and #MeToo… I’ve seen a recent Facebook post that encourages American school students to go on “strike” until gun laws are changed.

These front line soldiers in this battle will be the children of change…

Meanwhile, I’ll dab away my gun-weary tears and watch those athletes that have put in their 10,000 hours of dedicated training, the medallists and the others who have reached golden heights without a medal to hang around their necks.

… Overture, curtain, lights
This is it, we’ll hit the heights
And oh what heights we’ll hit
On with the show this is it…

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He SHOOTS, He…almost SCORES — 2013 Goals, not Resolutions

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I’m the Wayne Gretzky of goal scorers…

well, let’s make that goal “makers”!

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100% of shots

I don’t DO New Year’s Resolutions…but I DO do New Year’s GOALS.

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GOALS

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I grew up a true stereotypical Canadian male — hockey courses through my veins. Which, as a blood-sucking lab technologist, it’s good to know that something runs through these old venous pipes.

I learned early on at 5 or 6 years of age that there are lots of contributing roles that can be filled by a fine hockey player. There is the defender who drops fearlessly, crotch or face-first in front of opposing goal scorers as they release a powerful slapshot towards the net.

There is the enforcer, who with his/her brawny intimidation and slurs against opponents’ mommys, beckons tears from the players of the other team, taking them off their mindset of scoring goals.

There is the playmaker who dipsy-doodles like an Olympic figure skater before slipping the puck to the another player who blasts it past the goalie.

And then there is the pure goal scorer, who pops the puck into the back of the net with staggeringly awesome consistency. I began my childhood hockey career as a fantastic goal scorer. Mostly because the other 6 and 7 year olds could barely skate, much less shoot a puck straight. Anyway, with each year passing, the other kids got better and faster and stronger. I learned to love cookies and got slower and fatter. I slowly migrated back to becoming a defenceman who gets the frozen puck slammed into his face and groin.

Almost anyone who plays or admires the game of hockey wants to score goals or see lots of them. Goals win games. Goals win the hearts of the cheering, adoring fans. And it’s goals that coax the panties off the young blonde Barbie-hockey groupies who hang out in cold city or prairie arenas each winter, looking for that strapping hot, hard, stick-toting stud with the “moves like Jagger”.

Lick the stanley cup

WARNING to HOCKEY GROUPIES…don’t do this outdoors in the middle of winter…

So it’s probably that last point that inspired my lifelong path from scoring great hockey goals to great goal-setting in life. It’s all about reaching for Maslow-like “self-actualization”. Goals are something that I’ve taken from the hockey arena and dropped squarely into the middle of my own day-to-day lap. I remember faintly the lessons of my Grade 13 physics class — when I wasn’t too busy staring at Charlene, the ever-so-sweet brunette ahead on my left — relating to Newton’s First Law that states,“an object at rest tends to stay at rest”.

Newton describes me to a TEE. I’m not like YOU. I like to rest. I like to stay at rest. I am so lazy.

But the best way to get me off my butt is with a good challenge, a GOAL, not through a New Year’s resolution. You may forcefully state that it’s semantics, but I believe that goals and resolutions have a slightly nuanced difference.

A RESOLUTION is “a firm decision to do or not to do something“. Like quitting smoking, or gaining enough weight to get on The Biggest Loser, or not licking flag poles in the winter, or starting a blog once I can think of something important to say.

From the practical perspective, most resolutions work from a negative point of view…”I won’t do this”, “I won’t do that”. By the second or third week of January…you’ve stumbled, you’re toast and the game has been lost until the following New Year, a full 11 and a half months distant.

A GOAL is “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result“. Goals, unlike resolutions, come at you from the opposite, or more positive, perspective. A goal should be very specific and achievable – making a goal of growing an extra finger on the top of your head to flip at annoying drivers without having to turn around is laudable, but not achievable.

A goal sets a desired result that you go for unceasingly, like paying down 20% on the mortgage, or not paying your personal trainer more than $100 for sex, or convincing 2 friends to start smoking so that you feel less lonely. With goals, you generally have the whole year to work towards an objective that stretches you beyond where you are now, and hopefully to a level that you think is ALMOST unachievable for YOU.

funny-life-goals-internet

At the end of 2011, I sat down at this computer and wrote down a list of those things that I hoped to accomplish in 2012. Honestly, I bombed totally on a few…BUT…I struck gold on a few others.

Following is a sampling of where I skipped unerringly along the Yellow Brick Road, and others where I swerved like your Drunk Uncle on New Year’s Eve.

So, Where did I strike LEAD?

  • Visit Ireland…NOPE, made it to Scotland, but not Ireland.
  • 100 Pushups non-stop…Not even close. I only made it as far as 41 on March 12.
  • Overall Financial Net Worth Return of >15%…Only halfway with a total return of 7.9%.
  • Run a sub-4 hr marathon…Missed again. It took me 4:35 to complete the Vancouver Marathon.
  • Write and Publish 1 article in the Globe and Mail “Facts & Arguments” section…I did submit an essay, but I’ve yet to see it in print.
If I can do 10 pullups, so can you!

If I can do 10 pullups, so can you!

And the GOLD?

  • Hold a Yoga plank for 5 minutes Non-Stop…Knocked that one off just a couple of weeks ago in mid-December…whew…killer!!
  • Try 2 “new-to-me” sports…Check. Did Tai Chi on a Yangtze River cruise in China in March. Snowshoeing in nearby mountains in January.
  • Visit Spain and China…Check (October) and Check (March)!
  • 10 Pullups (Chinups) Non-Stop…Check. Only barely accomplished TODAY!!
  • Increase Charitable Contributions by 10%…Check. or is it Cheque?? Both UNICEF and International PLAN got a 10% raise this year.
  • Start a Blog and write 2 new posts each week…Check…sort of. I did initiate this blog, but cut back to 1 entry per week about a month ago to concentrate some more time on music and songwriting.

Now 2013 sits before us, beckoning teasingly and holding hope for each of us. They say you should share your goals as a way of holding your feet to the fire. Telling others adds subtle pressure, helping to keep your motivation levels way up there.

So, my friends, I’m putting some of my 2013 list of goals out, here and now. I know you’ll be supportive, and not laugh TOO much in those areas where I crash spectacularly. Many still laugh raucously (and ever so cruelly!) at my earlier talk of retiring at 35, then 40, then 45…then…well, you get the point. Here I am at 55 years, gainfully (and happily I might add) employed in a medical laboratory.

GOALS for 2013

  • Pay off investment loans in anticipation of debt-free retirement in 2014
  • Bring blog posting total to 100 and views to 7500…today’s blog entry is #39 with 2,383 viewings to date.
  • Write 12 songs…one per month.
  • 20 Pullups Non-Stop.
  • Take cooking classes in Spanish-speaking country (Argentina/Costa Rica??)
  • Try 2 more “new-to-me”sports (eg. kettlebells, curling, paddleboarding)
  • 100 pushups Non-stop
  • Purchase 12-string guitar
  • Overall Net Worth Return of >15% -(investigate more underanalyzed small cap stocks, follow arbitrage opportunities)
  • Increase Charitable Contributions by 10%
  • Grow larger vegetable garden and process more for winter use.
  • Run 2 Half Marathon races (sub 2 hrs)

I keep my list of written GOALS on my desktop of the computer as a continual reminder, a strong motivator, and a Hannibal Lecter-like fear factor facing directly at me every day. We all have our core values, passions, and purpose…goal-setting is my way of reaching and stretching myself forward in those directions that are paramount to me.

I am the lead actor and director in my own life’s production. There are those who wake up each morning and cheerfully improvise their lives like a “Second City” performance. For me, spontaneity, joy, and enthusiasm are found on the rehearsal stage when I’m extending my limits in search of the goals I’ve set for myself.

new-years-resolution-magazine

An Olympic Dream of Equality

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Last night I had a dream:

The badminton teams played their hearts out start to finish…the Australian

and Japanese teams flew BOTH their men’s AND women’s teams to the games

in business class…soccer referees had great judgment at critical points in

matches…women could happily pound the s**t out of other women in the

boxing ring…Cock fighting was a huge success…”

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Business class meal - appetizer

The modest but reasonably tasty repast consumed by the Japanese Men’s Soccer squad and Australian Men’s Basketball team en route to London Olympics

The equally sumptuous spread provided to the corresponding women’s team members…YUM!!

That last one about cock fighting?… you can probably safely ignore…but it was MY dream!

The Olympics are finally over. Life can now return to normal for the many anonymous highly-trained and conditioned athletes who pop up out of the woodwork every 4 years to impress the bejeepers out of me. There are substantial sacrifices that the athletes and their families make to arrive at this level of competition. I tip my hat to their remarkable dedication.

As a Canadian, I’m disappointed that my home country athletes won only 1 Gold medal, and I’m disappointed in myself for feeling this way. I wanted them to win so I could feel like I’d won. I train my feeble little legs and heart out for minor running races and I never ever come close to a winning time.  I can understand some of the torture that goes into achieving a world class standard. Huge physical and mental energy. It hurts, big time!

BOXING…The aspect of this Olympics that truly intrigues me in regards to equality is Boxing. Boxing in general and boxing for women. For the first time, boxing is now an Olympic Womens’ sport. Blood sports are nothing new; we’ve witnessed death struggles in the arena for millennia from Gladiator times to high-tech wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Humankind thrives on battle and the outcome of a victor.

Equality means women never having to say they’re sorry! You Go Girls!

Boxing in today’s world is ludicrous. The Objective? Punch at each others’ faces until blood spurts, eyes glaze, and an opponent is knocked unconscious with a concussion…something like a typical hockey game but played in a tiny square arena with no ice! Olympic boxing is a bit more refined since the athletes wear head protection, but the primary object still remains to knock your opponent senseless.

We heap high praise on a competitor who can render his opponent unconscious on the mat and ignore the potential brain damage that doesn’t materialize until much later. Muhammed Ali didn’t show signs of Parkinson’s disease until years after his career ended. Somewhere around 15 to 20% of boxers develop a syndrome akin to Parkinsons called chronic boxer’s encephalopathy. It usually takes about 15 years or so to materialize. Rock ’em, sock ’em, knock ’em down now…but kill them later…the perfect result!

An NBC boxing analyst was rumoured to say during a network broadcast,

Sure there have been injuries, and even some deaths in boxing, but none of them really that serious.”

So, what to do?

The civilized approach would be to quietly remove the little square arenas and turn out the lights on this so-called sport. Better to let the fighting occur more naturally and spontaneously outside the football fields where London hooligans really know how to fight. But civility lost this fight.

The less-polished and ludicrous way about it is for the IOC  (International Olympic Committee) to EXPAND the sport by declaring it a gender equality issue and put women into the ring. This demonstrates that men aren’t the only ones who know how to create brain injury. After all, up until now women were only allowed to cuss, not concuss. Women have progressed in so many areas of today’s society…THIS is not a step forward.

You’ve Come A Long Way Baby! But Not This Time!

Memo to Jacques Rogge:

In order to make some progress, I have a few suggestions for the IOC to move towards gender equality in the world of sports:

  • Make the burkha the official uniform of both the women’s and men’s beach volleyball teams. Let’s find out if this sport is popular because of the skill involved or the Tits & Ass. I’m a guy…I know why I’m watching girls play in the sand!!
  • Make Rhythmic Gymnastics and Synchronized Swimming both women’s and MEN’S sports. We don’t exclude men from the world of ballet or opera. I want to see macho men with nose plugs and hair gelled high! A man flinging a hoop sky high into the air could be very sexy!
  • It’s time for men to zip circles around the gymnastic uneven bars and do fancy spins and flips on that long 4 inch wide balance beam. We men can thrust our chests out and make delicate ballet-like movements before performing a quadruple flip on a razor-thin chunk of hardwood too. Who says a man looks any less swashbuckling wearing a skin-tight glittery leotard that conforms to his genitals? Just give us a chance Jacques!”

What guy couldn’t do this?

I’m hoping that last night was my final Olympic dream. After tying myself up in sheets with backwards flips, and giving my significant other a nasty eye shiner with a perfectly placed uppercut punch, it’s time to move on.

Perhaps tonight I’ll find myself on some distant planet, riding around on the Curiosity Rover and still attempting to figure out why Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus!