A collection of distilled sarcastic wisdom, numerous photographs, discussions of books and stuff to learn and more stuff to think about from a retired economics professor turned blogger and photographer.
I realize that many people could care less about sports. For many others, sports is an obsession. And for a lot of people sports gives some respite from the everyday pressures and worries of life as we transfer our energy, anger, love, and hope to the miracle screen of television. As in every year, the year 2007 brought problems, some disgrace, brilliant performances, heartache, loud cheering, loud boos, millions upon millions of dollars to the winners, and fired coaches and disgrace for the losers.
Here are a few wishes for sports in the coming year:
1. Hello sports announcers. If you are hired to cover a game, will you kindly call the plays and ongoing events in the game and stop b.s.ing about some coach, some other team, old jokes, and anything else you can think of when you get bored with the game. After all, those of us who tune in could care less, and in fact become angry and frustrated, when you keep going off on tangents. We still want to know what is going on in the game, however lopsided or boring it is you exalted personages. I assume that if you are hired to call a lower level game, you act as if the game is beneath you and you might as well spend your time visiting about trivia or anything besides the game. If this comment fits you, please find another line of work or shape up.
2. To television photographers and game editors: Kindly stop focusing in on the same person or coach or embarrassing moment over and over again, ad nauseum, while ignoring what is happening in the game. We don't care about this trivia. We want to see the darn game. So knock it off.
3. To television networks: Would you please upgrade your graphics? In this wonder age of media technology, you have no excuse for having shoddy, incomplete, and illegible graphics. You might try sitting in front of a television set yourselves and see how often you cannot read the scores, times, and other data. And for heaven's sake, will you please post the down and yard stat up other than every little while so we can see what is going on. Thank you very much.
4. To cable and satellite providers: Behave yourselves and start making games open to the masses. Your time will come, hopefully, when your favored monopoly position will be brought down to earth and you will no longer enjoy being King of the Hill. Why should we have to wait to enable the nation to see only one epic game such as the Patriots-Giants game? The world is full of sports fans, repeat, the world, and they are sick and tired of you playing your little games that deprive millions from seeing the games they should be entitled to see.
5. To all the cheaters, dopers, gamblers, misbehavers, and others who besmirch the pure beauty and pristine athleticism of sports: Go some where else. Take your steroid laden bodies and your fake records off somewhere and run a convenience store or find some other activity where you can no longer cloud the sports world with your greed and your irrational passion that motivates you to win and shatter records at all costs. We all think those costs are too high and we are sick and tired of being embarrassed by what you have been doing.
6. To the Utah Jazz: It's not too late. You can still find yourselves. You still have time to start closing out games and find your shots and your team momentum. The Utah Jazz world is counting on you. We need something to cheer us and you up in these dreary winter days, especially now that our hated inversions will be setting in.
7. To Eric Weddle of the Chargers and Alex Smith of the Niners: You may be Utah Utes from the University of Utah, but you are among the few Utes that I cheer for. (Cougar fans, I'm sorry, but I also like the current Ute quarterback Bryan Johnson). Weddle is doing fine, and we wish Alex well in his future in San Francisco. And to former BYU quarterback John Beck of the Dolphins, your day is coming.
8. To the BCS, or the Bowl Conspiracy System: Your day when your arrogance and monopoly control will crash is also coming, I would hope sooner rather than later. One of the things that makes college basketball such an exciting sport is the possibility that any team in the country has to advance in the NCAA playoffs. We all know that it's about money and retention of power, and all of us outside your protective shield of control resent you and become more disgusted with you each year as you sit on your thrones and dictate the system for making money and declaring championships.
9. I know it's too much to hope for, but I do wish some humane way would exist for better treatment of coaches with below .500 records. Since some teams, obviously, will always win, and some will lose, a losing coach can usually expect to be canned, no matter how many previous winning seasons he or she has had. We all know that losing seasons mean lower contributions, ticket sales, T-shirt sales, hot dog sales, more difficult recruitment, and every other negative that can be imagined. But athletic directors and college officials might give a second thought to how they go about this process. After all, most coaching rejects become someone else's path to sports glory, just as divorced and rejected spouses become someone else's partners.
10. To sports concessions managers: Have a heart. If the temperature is in the high 90s or low 100s, think about the folks out there who are about to cave in from heat exhaustion. Stop raising the prices of bottled water by 50 cents or a dollar each year. Send enough people through the stands with water, since usually the lines are so long at the concession stands you can't buy anything there anyway. Set up extra stands for water and cold drinks. Use your heads!
11. To sports fans: For heaven's sake grow up and behave yourselves. Your four-letter filthy word chants and unsportsmanlike behavior are becoming tiresome and are a detriment to any game you are damaging with your ignorant behavior. You have no right to destroy our enjoyment of the game and to wish we hadn't taken our kids who have to put up with your foul mouths, rude actions, and some times dangerous actions. Either behave or stay home and preserve the enjoyment the rest of us are entitled to have for the games we are watching. Thank you very much.
12. To all who love the game of sports: Keep trying, coaching, keep playing, never give up, and keep showing us how much you love the games you play. We who watch you, in turn, will keep watching, admiring, loving, and supporting you. Have a wonderful year 2008.
Dear Readers, I have survived four weeks in the Blogosphere, the sphere inhabited by mysterious dwellers in cyberspace who feel compelled to offer their thoughts and advice to the world because, as they know, if the unenlightened would merely follow their advice the entire world would be better off. Several profound insights follow four weeks of posting photos and words on my embryonic blog: First, no one is required to read it. Some people who should be reading my blog have informed me they don't have time to read it. Second, you never know who will read it, any where in the world. Third, no one has submitted any nasty comments yet, so I don't have to turn the comment button off. Fourth, several people have submitted supportive comments, which are appreciated. Fifth, I am still having fun, although I am mindful of my economics training and the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility. My students hated technical terms and definitions, so I told them they could understand this important law if they could remember that, if you eat too many bananas, eventually you will barf. In other words, a little bit is great, a little more is less great, and a whole bunch can get tiresome and nauseous.
My page view count increased by 370 from the first to the second week, by 485 from the second to the third week, and by 660 from the third to the fourth week, for a total for my initial foray into the unknown of 2245 page views. I can't compete with the people who post their blog and have thousands of visitors within hours. But at least I have a bit of momentum which I hope carries over into 2008. About one-third of my page views are on photos, an unexpected result, and two-thirds are on narrative posts. I can't tell yet which kinds of narrative posts are most popular with my viewers, but that information should become clearer in the coming months. I still have two months left in my initial commitment for my blog before I move on to computer and video games and full-time crossword puzzle solving for entertainment. Thanks to everyone who has supported my efforts and viewed my pages. My goal is to try and include at least some information that will be of help to someone. Even if one person finds something of value, I will feel that my efforts have been more worthwhile than just sitting around skimming the internet. If you like what I am doing, you would do me an honor and a great favor if you would send my blog address on to others whom you think might enjoy what I am doing.
I was discussing my earlier post on our 55th wedding anniversary with my sister Judy yesterday, and, at the same time, we were discussing the winter photos I posted on the trip from St. George to Salt Lake City. I told my sister that the trip up and down I-15 is really a succession of hills, mountains, and valleys; that much of the trip is spent going down one hill, perhaps across a valley, and then ascending another hill. We have done it so often that I can tell within a mile or two virtually anywhere along the I-15 corridor how far it is to the next town and how far we are from the last one.
I told my sister that it occurred to me just then that the trip across Utah had a lot of similarities to a marriage. Marriage, I suggested, involved so many peaks and valleys, periods of good and happy times, and others of disappointment and unhappiness. I decided that what happens in a marriage depends so heavily on what happens when we descend into a slump in our relationship. The problem is, or one of the problems is, that we have a perennial tendency to extrapolate far into the future based on what is happening now. If we are in an ecstatic period of a honeymoon, we think that we will be ecstatic forever. Tomorrow, or next month, when we hit a bump and move sharply down the hill into a valley of discontent, we think we are going to be miserable forever. It is precisely at that point that the biggest danger in a marriage occurs. We may become so angry and so disappointed that we think we will never get out of this rut and that it is time to bail out. If, however, we could take a longer view and see that, in fact, another hill is not so far in front of us when we can climb out of our funk and survive, then we can put the past behind us. I'm certainly not a marriage and family expert except for my own personal experiences and the knowledge I have of so many other marriages, both failed and successful. I do think too many people I have known simply gave up in a dark period and failed to see that ups and downs are to be expected. I sincerely suspect any married couple that proudly states they have never had an argument or a harsh word between them are in a celestial orbit of either denial or unreality. Surely one of them was griped at something, some time, some where, and let this state of mind be known.
Of course, we know that some marriages are beyond saving and that all parties involved are going to be better off by separating. But I still remember Rick the Barber's melancholy comment gleaned from decades of listening to men in his barber chair who were now in second or third marriages tell him sadly that the current situation isn't so great and that they wish they had taken longer to work things out the first time around. Keeping an eye on the final destination means that we have to take the peaks and valleys with a grain of salt and realize that things can, and likely will be, better tomorrow. I am posting this comment because my sister Judy told me to.
The title of this post was the tag line on the emails sent by my life long friend Duane from my home town in northern Wyoming. On Christmas day I received a message from his son that his father had passed away just after midnight on that day. My friend's hope was that he could live until Christmas day, so his wish was fulfilled. He had been diagnosed with melanoma just a few weeks ago and had fought it with all of the stamina and resources he possessed to no avail. We had both been members of the Class of 1949 from Powell High School, and had remained in contact over all of the years since then. Duane and his twin brother Dwight owned a big blue DeSoto (one of my classmates disputes the color and claims it was green, but I'll make it whatever color I choose to remember) which they shared with all of us. We thought we were very important cruising down the three block main street of our home town in the wonderful DeSoto.
After military service, Duane obtained an engineering degree and enjoyed a long and successful career with Boeing in Seattle. Instead of retiring to play golf or bridge, Duane retired with the idea of paying back his home town community through public service. He spent years on the local school board and was involved in state education activities. At virtually any kind of community activity Duane could be found in the middle of it. He was the glue that held the Class of '49 together and was the focal point for emails, news, and announcements. We felt that the Class of '49 was the finest class to ever graduate from Powell High School either before or since, and we repeated this view often enough so that we firmly believed it. This smug arrogance deeply irritated his wife who had graduated in a different year, so we simply made her an honorary member of our class. Even this generous move failed to appease her and she informed us that we could not bribe her.
Just a few days before Duane passed away, the Governor of Wyoming issued a statement of commendation for the role in public service and education that Duane had fulfilled during his retirement years. He truly lived his tag line motto which we all came to know and recognize so well: "Anyone can make a difference; Everyone should try." So many opportunities exist all around us to make a difference in our homes and families, our communities, our schools, our hospitals, our nursing homes and care facilities, our libraries, our neighbors, and an infinitely long list of other people and places that need us. No matter what our age or physical condition, we can still make telephone calls, sit at a reception table for a few hours, write notes of encouragement, keep in touch with our family members and neighbors, and so many other things. My friend's tag line is permanently etched in my mind. I can't think of a better motto for all of us to adopt in the "me first" era. Paying back is an opportunity and obligation for each of us.
Dear Santa: When I was very young I had a long list of yearly wants that I gleaned from studying the Monkey Ward and Sears-Roebuck mail order catalogues and from rare visits to the Ben Franklin Five and Ten store. I could only dream about what I wanted, though, because we lived in the reality of knowing that the Great Depression would not be generous enough to provide more than a stocking with a rare orange, a nice red apple, some nuts, and some hard tack Christmas candy. This early recognition of our circumstances hardly dampened our excitement or the thrill of enjoying what little we did find under our tree.
For years we six children begged our mother to get a Christmas tree before Christmas eve. Not until years later did we learn that the reason for this delay was not just her preference; rather, she knew she could always go to to town Christmas eve and get a tree from the Boy Scouts for a quarter or fifty cents. One year, Santa simply forgot to come. The explanation given to us was that Santa had arranged with Monkey Ward to have our package come delivered by Ezra, our faithful mailman. Though bitterly disappointed on Christmas day, we children perched on the barn roof each day to wait for Ezra to make his daily rounds. Finally, the much anticipated day came and Santa finished his work. I remember that I got a new warm cap with long ear muffs to keep me warm in the Wyoming winter cold.
Another year I came down with the chicken pox on Christmas day and would not return to school for several months. The only present I got was a ball of crochet yarn and a crochet hook which Mother thought would entertain me during my illness. Years later I was able to read the entries to her detailed account book for her expenses that Christmas: Dec. 19, 1941, 3# mixed candy, .33; 2# mixed nuts, .58; Delicious apples, $1.98; 2 doz. oranges, .24; marbles, .10; 2 crochet hooks, .20; 2 balls string, .60; 4 lt. bulbs for tree, .30. Total, $4.33.
A few years later, I cut off the toe on my sock and hung it over the top of my portable typewriter case. Santa always wrote us a personal letter each year and hung it on the Christmas tree. Santa always wrote in fractured English and did not know how to spell at all. This year, Santa chastised me for my greed and filled my typewriter case and sock with coal.
Through these annual letters from Santa, and through the generosity of Santa giving us as much as we knew he could give us, we knew that we were loved. And, even though we knew for years that Santa was our Mother, we never doubted that it was, in fact, Santa who actually fulfilled our annual Christmas dreams and who taught us to love one another and always have hope.