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Archive for May, 2011

I LOVE Golf!

I love golf.  If I could play golf every day I would.  If golf was a woman, I would have a love child with her and name her Eagle.  If the child was a boy, the name Eagle would be brave and majestic.  If a girl, the name Eagle would be a symbol of courage and how she will fly above the fray.  Regardless, the child would be named Eagle, because Birdie or Par would be ridiculous.

Unfortunately, I can’t play golf everyday.  The problem is I have a wife and three kids, golf also costs money, and finally, it gets rather depressing to golf by myself all the time.  The interesting thing is I play golf by myself all the time.  It’s not because I want to, it is that unfortunately, I do not have many friends, and the few friends that I have that do play golf do not have the same flexible schedule that I do, especially in the summer.  So, what do I do?  I play golf by myself.  Now if you know me, the idea of playing golf by myself is no shocker.  I do not fear taking a dip in Lake Me.  What will surprise you is how often I will go to a busy course knowing that they will add me to another person or group.

That’s right, I have no problem playing golf with strangers.  If you are reading this and you have known me for more than 10 years, the previous sentence has just shocked you.  I LOVE golf.  I have even invited strangers to play golf at a future time.  I have asked for phone numbers, I have given my number, I have made future golf dates, I have put my self out there.  When my hatred of strangers gets in a fight with my love of golf, golf always wins.  As my buddy Terrence once said to me, “I am the friendliest non-friendly person he knows.”  I don’t like people.

The sad part is, I have yet to get a steady golf ‘boyfriend’.  If you are a single reader and you are on the dating scene, God help you.  Last year, I played golf with this guy name Brian.  His cell number is still in my phone.  After a round, I gave him my card and made a date to play another round on a future day.  We agreed upon the day and time.  When I arrived at the golf course he was not there.  I waited in the clubhouse and many thoughts went through my mind:  “Is he going to show?  He is probably laughing at me right now and telling his friends about that idiot that asked him out on a golf date.  Should I go home, or should I play a round by myself, again?”  He was late, but he showed up.  We had a great time.  Or I so I thought.  I texted him a few times after that outing and he could never get together again.  It was near the end of golf season and he was heading back to work, so he suggested we start up again next season.  I wasn’t sure if he was blowing me off or not, but the season was over anyway, and I thought nothing of it.  I thought maybe I said something, or did something to offend him.  I thought we had a great time.  Maybe I am not his type.  I would love to say that I a making all of this up, but I can’t.  There is not a single lie nor embellishment in this blog.  It gets worse.

During the winter, at our local YMCA, I saw him again.  I wasn’t sure if it was him, so I said nothing, and he said nothing to me.  Later, I approached him and said, “Hey Brian, is that you?”  It was super weird.  It was like running into an ex that dumped you.  AWKWARD (sing songy).  We had a brief conversation and that was the last time I saw him.  We are in a new golf season, and I am not sure if I will call him.  Is this what it is like to be dating and wonder if you are going to call someone or not?  It sucks.  Does this feeling of, “Why doesn’t he like me?” ever go away.  That’s right.  I’m pathetic.  His number is still in my phone.  I need to move on.

The other problem with golf is that I truly believe that if I quit my job, I could play the game professionally.  I hit a drive on Monday that would have made the Golf Channel instant replay.  It would have been a top 10 on ESPN.  It was that good.  I can’t drive like that every time, but the fact that I can do it at all, makes me think I have a shot on the Pro circuit.  If only I had no other responsibilities.

So, if you are waiting for that phone call from that guy or girl that you like, hang in there.  There is definitely someone out there for you.  One day you and I will find our soul mate.  Or at least in my case, my golf partner.  Maybe it will be my wife.  I did buy her a set of clubs for her birthday.  It will either solve my desire for a regular golf partner or end my marriage.  Either way, I would be playing more golf.  That’s what I call a win-win.

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I find it fascinating that humans believe that they are smarter than any other animal on the planet.  Here is an interesting fact of life, dogs, dolphins, apes and birds can learn our human language, but we can’t learn theirs.  I’m just sayin …

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So, I was planning on playing a little golf today, but I did not.  Do you know why?  I didn’t play because it was too cold and windy.   That’s right, too cold.  Do you know what today is?  It’s May 26th.  In less than one week it will be June.  If I could punch Wisconsin weather in the face, I would.  Annoying as Wisconsin weather can be, even this is an abnormal May for Wisconsin.  It could be worse.  I could have a tornado going down my street.  I’ll say this much, if one was to predict the Rapture, this was certainly a good year for it.  Sheesh.

Complaining aside, the weather was not what I wanted to blog about.  I am about to get on my high horse.  Ye be warned says I.

About a week ago, the big wigs of McDonald’s decided not to ban Ronald McDonald.

At least he is not obese.

You may be asking yourself, why would McDonald’s consider banning their icon of 50 years?  I’ll tell you why.  Over a year ago,  the same corporate watchdog group (Corporate Accountability International) that got rid of Joe Camel set its sights on getting rid of Ronald McDonald.  The argument is simple:  McDonald’s is trying to target your kids and convince them through the magic of advertising that McDonald’s is where they want to eat.  If you have kids, you know as well as I do that McDonald’s has succeeded in their goal.

Here is the problem I have with stories like this:  Who’s responsibility is it to make sure that your kids are eating properly?  Because the last time I checked, five-year-olds are not driving to McDonald’s and ordering a Happy Meal.  It’s McDonald’s job to get your kids to want to eat at McDonald’s.  It is the parent’s job to monitor what the child eats.  Am I to believe that it is now McDonald’s job to be a fast food restaurant and a parent?  I don’t think so.  When I was a kid I didn’t eat McDonald’s every day.  You know why?  Because my mom wouldn’t allow it.  My wife takes our kids to the McDonald’s Playland without ordering food.  She can do this because she is in charge of our kids.  What a concept!  A parent in charge of the kids.

I hope Ronald McDonald does get fired.  Not because of his influence on kids, but because I hate clowns.  If a restaurant wants to get rid of trans fats, or give happy meals a fruit option, or if an owner wants to put caloric information on menus, fine, but don’t make it a law.  You know who makes the laws in my house?  I do.  And if you can’t keep your 3-year-old from eating a Happy Meal, the problem isn’t a big, floppy red boot wearing clown, it’s you.  Parent your child and make the right choices for them, so that when they get older, maybe, just maybe, they will know why having a daily Big Mac may not be the best plan.

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I am not a sushi guy.  I don’t hate sushi, but I would never travel to a restaurant for the sole reason of eating sushi.  If you are a sushi person, this is what you would do and have done.  Nonetheless, the best sushi I have ever eaten was from a restaurant in Vancouver, Canada.  First of all, Vancouver may be the best city I have ever been to, EVER, and I have been to a lot of different cities on this planet.  I went to a Japanese restaurant on a recommendation and I was not disappointed.  I knew it was going to be good, because 90% of the people eating there were Japanese.  Most people were talking in Japanese, including the restaurant staff.  The sushi was so fresh that my fish begged me not to eat him, telling me this crazy story of how he was trying to find his dad.  He was delicious.  Best sushi and best Japanese restaurant I have ever been to.  You may not be aware of this, but the West coast of North America has a long history of Japanese immigration.  This was especially problematic during World War II.  Over 100, 000 Japanese were placed in internment camps.  I bet you didn’t know that the US had internment camps.  Well, we did.  I bet you won’t find that in your 8th grade history book.  I’m just sayin …

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So, according to a dude in California, Judgement Day, the Rapture, Jesus returns on May 21, 2011.  Now, if you live in the United States, that means Jesus returns tomorrow.  Of course, if you live in Australia, He is already here.  I always find it fascinating that when it comes to world revelations, it is always in US time.  I wonder if Americans realize that the planet is quite large and contains many more people and land than just us, but I digress.

First of all, when anyone claims they know the day of Jesus’ return, it pretty much guarantees that it will NOT be that day.  Simply put, if you are a Christian and believe in the Rapture, then you know that the Bible is quite clear that no one will know the time nor the day of Judgement Day.  Of course that has not stopped every crazy Rev, Pastor, and church fanatic from claiming they have figured out the ultimate secret, the End of Days.

Let’s for the sake of argument that tomorrow is indeed Judgement Day.  So, at bare minimum I plan on having sex tonight.  I generally don’t need trickery to get laid, but how can I resist the ultimate line, “We need to have sex tonight, for tomorrow we die.”  Go ahead and use this line tonight.  If it is successful, I want to know.  Also, if it is the Rapture tomorrow, I hope it is AWESOME.  I want craziness.  I want a ship or chariot the size of the alien ships from Independence Day and I want Jesus bare-chested standing tall on the bow of the ship.  I also want Jesus to be black, and as soon as I see him, I will yell triumphantly, “I KNEW IT!”.  There is no way a man from Bethlehem looks as white as does in 90% of the pictures and drawings you see of Him.  I want angels flying everywhere, the dead rising from their graves, and I want there to be a killer sound track to be playing from unknown heights as if a heavenly stereo.  Now, this probably sounds pretty sacrilegious, but make no mistake, if IT happens, I want to be impressed.  Finally, I will have a list of people who I will need to call, just to rub it in their face, and say “I told y’all.  Say it.  Saaaaaaay it.”  Then they will reply, “Brett, you are right, you are always right.”  “Now, come on over, and maybe I’ll hook you up with the Big Man.” I’d say.  Nah.  Just kidding, I wouldn’t rub it in like that.  Or would I?

The thing that really surprises me about this whole claim is how much media attention it is receiving.  Are people really that stupid?  Don’t answer that.  I even heard the story on ESPN radio.  This does not bode well for the gullibility of humans.  It pretty much means, if you say anything loud enough, long enough, and forcefully enough, you WILL get the attention of the masses.  Sad really.  Just think politics and it is enough to make you cry.

I refuse to discuss the validity of the Bible, the truth or lie of Jesus, and whether or not there will or not be a Rapture one day.  This is not what this blog is about.  But this blog is about how easy it is to get the masses to pay attention to what you have to say, and even get a large group of people to believe in what you have to say.  No doubt, there are many that believe that is how most, if not all religions began, and perhaps there is some truth to that, but what must be done to get people to think critically.  Believe or not this is true of hard-core scientific atheists.  They too gather in groups talking as one mind and pat each other on the back for believing in the same thing.  Add a few songs to their books and discussions, and you have church.

So, what’s my point?  Don’t really have one, other than the fact that tomorrow is likely to come without any fanfare and be no different from today.  And if you are like me and get some sex tonight, well then, Praise Jesus!

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My son invited two of his friends over tonight.  They had a great time and played very well together.  He has invited these friends of to our house about 20 times.  You know how many times they have invited him over to their houses? Zero.  To my surprise and jealousy, it does not bother Brett at all.  He likes to hang out with them, and it is clear that they like to hang out with him.  But here is the kicker, this is not normal thinking, but it SHOULD BE.  I wish I could be more like him in this respect.  Think about it, if you invited someone out to lunch, dinner, coffee, or any kind of excursion multiple times, and they NEVER returned the invite, wouldn’t you stop inviting them?  I know I would, and have, but it shouldn’t bother me so much.  You see my son has it right: If you want to hang out with someone, and they enjoy hanging out with you, but never return the invite, well, that;s their problem, not yours.  At least that’s how my son lives, and I could not be more proud.  I’m just sayin …

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So, if you want to piss me off, tell me what I can’t do.   I may not even want to do it, but if you tell me that I can’t, I will have no choice but to not only do it, but do it well.  This characteristic is both a blessing and a curse. 

I not only think I can, but I know I can.

On one hand, it has inspired me to excel in a number of things, especially academics.  For example, although I did not grow up in the civil rights era, I still had to contend with teachers that automatically assumed that I could not possibly be as smart as my white or Asian counterparts.

In middle school, we had a special day with our teachers to discuss future classes in high school.   I had a teacher tell me that I shouldn’t take AP (advanced placement) classes because it would be too difficult for me.  I took AP history and calculus in high school, and did well in both.  As a matter of fact, I was given a C in AP history, despite the fact that according to my records I should have had an A.  I talked to the teacher about it, showed him my records, showed him his grade policy and made it clear to him that my grade should not be a C, but an A.  The teacher changed the grade.  After he changed the grade, it pissed me off.  How could a teacher make an error in judgment that allows him to change a grade from a C to an A?  I have been a teacher now for approximately 15 years, and I have NEVER made an error that big.  As you can tell, this event that happened to me almost 25 years ago still bothers me.  It was clear that I was treated differently than my other classmates.  Another example occurred in high school, when for one semester, I was demoted to remedial English.  Granted, English was not my strongest subject, but remedial?  Even the teacher of the remedial English class did not understand why I was enrolled in her class.

I could easily turn this blog into a social commentary on how racism is alive and well and has held many students back simply based on the color of their skin.  I graduated from high school with a 3.9, I am in my high school’s hall of fame for track & field, and I graduated from UC Berkeley, and I still have multiple stories of people telling me that I was not smart enough to do things.  What about the black students that were B students, or C students, or even D students?  If as an A student I still faced obstacles, I can’t imagine what other students faced.  But this is not a blog about race, or not just about race, but about the obsession people have with what can’t be done.

Don’t tell me what I can’t do.  I can do anything, and just because you have chosen to limit yourself, don’t dare put that small thinking on me.  But, why are so many people concerned with other people’s opinions on what they can and can’t do?  And why am I not?  The easiest answer would be my parents, as I believe strongly that they instilled in me my “don’t give up” and the “don’t you dare tell me what to do” attitude.  But I want to go a little bit deeper.  In many ways it reminds me of ‘cultural legacy’ as described by Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘Outliers: The Story of Success’.  I actually blogged about this book in My First Book Review.  In other words, do I have this attitude because of my culture?

In his book, ‘Outliers’ Gladwell describes a famous psychological experiment by Nisbett and Cohen.  They monitored reactions of people to being insulted.  Students were asked to answer a number of questions and then walk down a long, narrow hallway where unbeknownst to them, another person who was also part of the experiment would whisper the word “asshole” as they walked passed.  The researchers found that it did not matter if you were black, or white, rich or poor, a nerd or a jock, you responded to the insult the same, except for one surprising variable.  If you were from the South, regardless of your background, you reacted strongly to the comment, but students from the North actively calmed themselves when they heard the comment.  The author suggested that the “Culture of Honor” was passed down through generations of Southerners irrespective of almost any other environmental or genetic factor.

I think about the history of African-Americans in this country and wonder if I am the recipient of a “Culture of Rebellion”.  I think about the long list adversities that black people have suffered in this country, but yet have been inspired to create music, poetry, innovation, and various forms of success in spite of the obstacles placed in the way.  Although I would never compare my obstacles to slavery, lynch mobs, nor laws of discrimination, but the fact remains, I have a strong visceral response to people trying to prevent me from doing things.  Can culture be inherited?  If you have a cultural history in which the ‘sky was the limit’ or your ancestors had many options, maybe limitations would not be such a bad thing.  But if your ancestors were oppressed and limited by the dominant culture, self-imposed limitations would be counter-intuitive and very maladaptive to an oppressive environment.  As a matter of fact, under oppressive conditions, a spirit of rebellion would be necessary for upward mobility.  Quite frankly, if you examine history, some of the greatest innovations and social movements have come out of great adversity.   Maybe it is from my parents, maybe it is genetic, or maybe I have inherited a “Culture of Rebellion”, but I am glad I have it and I hope my kids will have it too, because no one should limit their potential by telling them what they can and cannot do.

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A couple of months ago Taco Bell was sued.  The lawsuit claimed that Taco Bell was wrong for calling their beef burritos, well, beef burritos because the burritos only contained 35% beef.  Taco Bell responded to the lawsuit by stating that their beef burritos contained 88% beef.  Soon after the news of the lawsuit became public and Taco Bell’s response, Taco Bell put their burritos on sale for 88 cents.  Don’t think this new price was lost on me, what about you?  Nonetheless, I have accepted the fact that their burritos are 88% beef.  It also makes me better appreciate McDonald’s for stating that their burgers are 100% beef.  Especially since I used to think that this was as stupid advertisement.  I often thought why would they tell me that their burgers were 100% beef? 

Remember this commercial?

What else would it be?  Turns out there are other options.  But here is my problem:  I actually don’t mind that Taco Bell beef burritos are not 100% beef.  But why won’t Taco Bell tell us what is in the remaining 12%? I haven’t eaten there since.  I’m just sayin …

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So, I have been gone on vacation.  Sorry for the delay in blogs.  I was planning on writing about the ‘birthers movement’ (probably the next blog) and how I think it is racist, but I am struck by the news of the death of Bin Laden.  This may be politically incorrect, but I am finding it difficult to celebrate the death of a human being.

I am not insensitive, and I hope that this latest event provides closure for those affected first hand by 9-11, but I am not exactly sure what benefit comes from celebration of death.  I would have preferred him captured, but regardless, I hope that his removal from any sort of power position will have a positive impact on terrorism both in the US and in other countries.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a strong belief that this will be the case.  I hate terrorism, I really do, but to chant USA USA USA at a baseball game when you hear the news of his death boggles my mind.

Am I happy is gone? Yes.  However, it worries me that we have become a society that rejoices death, even if that death is of an enemy.  As human beings, haven’t we evolved beyond the celebration of human loss, or am I naive?  Maybe I am just a liberal tree-hugging peace lover, or maybe I just believe that killing, in extreme cases, however necessary, should never be celebrated.

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If you are single and without kids and you are willing to go in public places, like shopping, in sweats; is there a more obvious sign of ‘I give up’?  I’m not talking about cute, top and bottom coordinated track suits.  I am talking, sloppy, stained, saggy, non-flattering, I just ate a gallon of ice cream sitting on my couch watching Oprah and I am shopping for more ice cream, I give up sweats.  I’m just sayin …

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