Friday, May 18, 2012

Olympics.....the glue for a cracking country?

I've always liked the Olympics, winter or summer.  It's impressive to me that someone can commit themselves so completely to pushing their bodies and minds beyond what an average dude like me would even think about.  And it's funny, sometimes they make it look so effortless, morons like me sit on the couch, watch them on TV and think..."I could do that if I practiced a little".  Yeah right bud....weren't you the one with the vien popping out of your forehead trying to overcome the vacuum seal on your new bag of "cool ranch" Doritos? 
The Olympics mean something.  It's something different to just about everyone, but they do mean something.  This year in particular though, I think the games have an added burden to bear, and added dimension of importance that the athletes don't even realize, maybe no one anywhere realizes.  Scarier to me than no one realizing though, is no one caring....no one caring enough about the games and this country to put it all together.   What is this extra load to bear?  Quite simply, this country needs a fix.  We are a country divided....cracked....broken...in need of some TLC and a heavy dose of pride and motivation.   I think the Olympics are the place to start.  Obvious I guess, to pick on the Olympics, but I won't apologize for that. 
Thinking about "the games"....there are so many good lessons to be learned from these guys and girls.   We all need examples of commitment, to see the path of actually chasing a goal.
We also need to address the myth, "you can do anything you set your mind to"....well, no, sometimes you can't.  For every team member representing our country, how many have trained, dreamt, bled, dripped sweat, and failed to make the team?  Sometimes you can give it everything you have, and it's just not fast enough, or high enough, or heavy enough....and as hard as that pill is to swallow...it's okay, it's life, and it's part of the game.
Where would we be if those poeple, those dreamers and warriors for their goal...where would we be if they had not tried?  Imagine the level of mediocrity we'd succumb to if they hadn't been there pushing, training, competing.  Those "almost made it" players, they define the best, they drive others to be better, to improve because they have to as well.
Without some falling short, but working incredibly hard to do so, we'd have nothing more than a middle school track team--where no one gets cut and everyone is part of the team, and very few care to stand out and excel. 
We are in an election year and we are divided.  Every aspect of our daily lives are constantly up for debate and we are bombarded with being forced to "choose a side" every time we turn on our computers.  Social media has become a new form of political commercials, and daily status updates are either re-affirming our beliefs or causing us to internally debate whether or not a particular friendship is too valuable to comment on their post in defense of your values or opinions---I'm guessing more often than not we just let it slide.
Amidst all the chaos, all the chatter and disagreement, there can be little doubt that we still live in the greatest country in the world.  But we could be better.....a lot better.   We have a lot on the table right now as a country, a lot to discuss, debate, and work on, and I hope everyone seriously spends time looking at the issues that will be thrown around the rest of the summer and up to elections.  I hope people vote the issues and not party.  I hope that we all take advantage of being a part of an incredible system....knowing that as hard as we might work at it, as hard as we campaign or just talk with friends, and as much passion we might invest in something....we might lose.  But in that fight, in that effort, those around you will become better, smarter, more informed, more whole....a better representative for this country. 
And in between all of that, I hope we can all sit down together, eat some Doritos, hang an American flag on our front porch, turn on our TV's, and cheer on our own as they lay it all on the line as representatives of the best the United States has to offer.  We need that time together, unified, proud, and with the same hope for victory...not for ourselves, and not just for those who work so hard for the gold, but for everyone blessed enough to call this country our home. 
Yes, the Olympics mean something big this year, and if the only thing we share this year is a hope for a gold medal or two....well, that is something. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I heard this song today.....

I’m driving in to the office this morning and have the radio on one of the country stations here in Denver.  I was hoping for “Red Solo Cup”, but instead got “I wish you’d love me like my dog does”….and the wheels have begun to turn in my mind….which is funny, because I don’t think country music has ever been accused of making anyone “think”….drink maybe…..which I guess explains the popularity of Red Solo Cup.
Some of the lines in the song  basically elude to the fact that the dude is just not good enough for the mystery girl, but good enough for his dog….and what I wonder is, what would this world really be like without women?
Now, for the purpose of this hypothetical rant, I think I’ll skip over the obvious answers like: “there would be no babies” or “no such thing as gourmet cupcakes”, or “we might never know what an apple actually tastes like”, and examine my thoughts on the effect on the condition of man in a world of men and what might be different…..if only for a single generation (unless, because we are more productive academically, we figure out how to synthesize a new person by combining sperm—and only if they come out of the Petri dish as at least a 7 year old that can dress and feed himself).
Music
Music would be so different, it hard to imagine there would even be music…maybe just stand up comedy, sports, and news shows on the radio.  “A boy named Sue” would have little strain to it, and wouldn’t be a classic, but Chris LeDoux’s “This Cowboy’s Hat” would be legendary beyond the Wyoming borders—as it should be.  There would be no love songs, but I’m fairly certain Queen would be just as popular either way.  Back on the love song thing though….think of how many songs would never get written without the muse or emotional torture on the male by the female species…neither love, hate, broken heart, jealousy, or” I know you’re out there somewhere” type themes.   Can you even write a song about “those dudes from the office are pretty cool to play poker with every three months” and turn it into a club hit?….also something that wouldn’t exist by the way—no dance clubs—except maybe for the bars where they’ll still play hits by Duran Duran or Erasure. 
On the upside for music, we’d still have awesome guitarists and drummers, and probably harmonicas.  On the down side, we’d still have Kenny G and John Tesh.
Fashion
Socks wouldn’t match an outfit, at least not by color and nobody would care.…but come to think of it, what does white NOT match?  Tube socks would rule, and eventually you’d end up with at least different shades of white depending on the laundering skills of the owners of said socks.   Button up shirts may never get invented….ties wouldn’t for sure, who needs that hassle?  Shoes that tie would be a big enough hassle—boots would reign supreme, when you weren’t wearing cleats of some kind.  No more fashion week, no more Bravo TV….Levi’s would rule the fashion world in strict contest with Wrangler.  Polo and Nike would remain for the necessity of maintaining respectability on the golf course—and the need for a quality manufacturer of white socks….tennis would probably only exist in Europe.    I’ve given this section too much text already…basically, it would be fairly clean and very comfortable…who would need to dress to impress?—that would come down to cars, not clothes.
Design
Architectural design would be a great venue for artistic expression, but likely dominated by log and/or sheet metal—whatever keeps you from annual maintenance or severe headaches caused by color selection.  I still feel like Antoine Predock would be a huge success,  and that Frank Lloyd Wrights “Falling Water” would be duplicated all over the country, and that the Empire State building and Sears Tower would certainly exist, but I have serious doubts about Sydney’s Opera house or the colorful track housing of San Francisco….then again, something tells me that city wouldn’t be that different.
Interior design would look a lot like IKEA stuff I’m sure…clean lines, square corners, and plenty of room for electronics.  The difference would be that it would be delivered put together, and be made from better materials….maybe there would just be a huge Pottery Barn, Crate &Barrel, or Ethan Allen…just enough competition to keep prices reasonable….but they’d have to find ways of upselling, otherwise they’d sell one piece of furniture to someone every 40 years.    There would be house painters, because even guys can appreciate a little color….whatever makes the autographed jerseys and neon lights pop.  The term “man-cave” wouldn’t even exist…no more relegation to the basement or garage.  In fact, the houses would be all one level, with an unclear break between garage and house.  In a push for simplicity and function , the houses could really just be one huge room, which would be a lot easier to deal with when wiring for full theatre surround sound….who doesn’t want their TV, telephone, fridge, and toilet in the same room?
Vehicles
Nothing would really change with vehicles, but lines would be more clearly drawn between countries—I can only assume Europe would still have Mini’s and MG’s, but will maintain their “man card” by continuing to kick out Ferrari’s and Lambo’s.  Trucks, sport cars, motorcycles, anything for off-road, and probably horses still.  No RV’s, no station wagons, no Camry’s, no scooters, and probably no Volkswagens of any kind.  All vehicles would only be available in primary colors or black, silver, or white. 
Sports
Salaries would be under control but testosterone wouldn’t be..…Teachers, in fact, would probably get paid more, because impressing other people would all happen during the game, or on the course, or on the track, not necessarily with the paycheck to play a game.   There would be a lot of grief saved for the guys who would have otherwise joined a cheerleading squad, another casualty of a unisex world. 
Hunting wouldn’t change much, other than the side industries….wall mounts would be more standard decoration fare than in just the mid-west, so taxidermy would rank as a highly desirable career option.  Where WE and Bravo networks would disappear, VS. and Outdoor Network would expand to fill the void. 

Resorts/Vacations
Resorts would look like current day Flying J’s….someplace for fuel, food, a shower, and place to park your truck for a bit.  Ski resorts would pretty much just have a restaurant and access to a chair lift…Motel 6 would be the biggest hotel chain in the world, and probably be seen as frivolous.  Spa’s…well, spa probably wouldn’t even be a word.  Hot springs might be the only time you would see more than one guy in a vat of hot water with another….maybe .  
Food
Chefs would be challenged to create food that looks appetizing under fluorescent lights, because low lit or candle lit meals just wouldn’t feel right—or maybe they would, who knows  .  Restaurants would all have bar seating for dudes eating alone, along with tables for business meals or a group of friends, and all would have a “to go” menu option.  High end steak joints would survive for sure, but I doubt everything would be getting paired with some kind of wine selection.  Homes would come standard with grills installed, indoors and outdoors, with industrial vent hoods and a rotisserie.   Grocery stores would be much smaller….basically an aisle for drugs, and aisle for toilet paper, and aisle for cereal and bread, an aisle for drinks,  and an aisle for frozen dinners and ice cream—yeah, Ben and Jerry both made the cut—and an aisle for meat, milk, and some vegetables.   No Hallmark cards, no seasonal selections, no yogurt, very few baking items, no flowers, no junk for kids, etc.  And all checkouts would be express or do it yourself.   There wouldn’t just be a bank in the grocery store, but a clinic, a dentist, a barber, and insurance agent,  and a store front for JCPenney for underwear and socks. 
Work/Careers
Productivity would be through the roof.  And why not? What distractions would the guys really have?  You can’t hunt all the time, you don’t need to go shopping, no one is calling you, you’re not going to be late for a date, there isn’t a game on every single night…..so, you work.   That’s not to say the quality of work would go through the roof, just the time invested….but I do know there was a lot of evidence showing an advantage for boys in “all boy” classrooms, so I have to assume it carries over to the working world a little bit. 
Who knows, maybe this is all wrong, it’s certainly a ridiculous topic to spend any time on.  Come to think of it, who doesn’t like a cupcake once in a while?  The more I re-read through some of this, all I did was write about life in rural Montana. Frankly, I’m pretty sure if this world existed, I’d be spending my free time wishing there was something to fill that unexplainable void in my life….I wouldn’t know it, but I’d be missing my wife. 
Hmmm…..another song just played with a guy singing about what his life would be like without his girl, all the stuff he’d get to do or want to do—how appropriate—and his statement about what he’d be doing without her?  Spending his time looking for a girl just like her….exactly.   Would the world be different? Of course.  But who would really want to live in a world without all that crazyness that comes with those pretty apple pickers?  I know my life is better with Kelli in it, and my boys.   Ha , just realized as I wrote that last sentence…my poor wife—she’s already living in a world with all guys….maybe I should have just asked her what it’s like.  Sounds  a  little drab though, not sure how she’s holding it together…..women are mysterious and impressive.