Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rampage Alert: Paying College Athletes

I have talked about this topic before, but I have once again been outraged by the suggestion that we should actually write checks to well performing college athletes. Just this morning, I spent several minutes yelling at the morning radio show that my husband and I listen to while preparing for the day. I didn't call in. I never do. Why should I wait on hold, wasting cell phone minutes, just to have them hang up on me when I don't agree? No, I'm going to blog about it. You can read it if you want, you can skip it if you want, but this way I at least get to put my two cents in...again.

Even better, I'm going to make a list of reasons why paying college athletes a salary is one of the most ill-advised, harebrained ideas floating around collegiate athletics (or really, just the fan base) today. Oh goody, it's not just an emotionally cleansing rampage, it's a well organized, emotionally cleansing rampage. It's gonna be a good day.

1. We are paying those athletes, because the same athletes who are performing at that level are being given scholarships to attend the university for which they play. They are being paid through a general barter system. For their time commitment and effort in play they receive a place to sleep (in a dorm) or a "housing allotment" (for an apartment), they are fed for free multiple times a day on the university's dime, they are clothed in practice and/or workout gear, all the way down to their shoes, AND they are attending college for free. A FREE education, people. F-R-E-E, Free! Do you know how many people in this country would give their left arm for the chance to go to college for free?! I had a partial scholarship and a job all the way through college and I am STILL paying off student loans.

2. Do you honestly want to take a college age kid, who is away from home for the first time, and who (on average) already has trouble adjusting to the college environment and give him discretionary income? Because that screams "terrible idea" to me. I realize that not all college athletes are irresponsible in their decision making or money management, but they also generally aren't the ones to whom people want to give money.

3. I realize that athletes, due to their practice schedule, can't really have a job on the side and, therefore, don't really have any extra money to spend. So what? Most college students who do have jobs have to use that money to pay for tuition, books, room and board, food (except instead of a variety of meals, they usually stock up on Ramen Noodles at fourteen cents a pack), clothes, etc. and so they don't generally have too much extra money to spend either. Get over it. And if you are going to use the argument "But these aren't 'most college students,' they are star athletes," then let me put it this way: It doesn't matter how well they throw, hit, kick, catch, or dribble a ball (depending on their sport, of course), if they break a leg they aren't any better than the rest of us. Except that at least part of their medical expenses will be paid by someone else. So cry me a river.

4. "But their names are being used to sell merchandise. Shouldn't they get at least a little of that money?" No. See above for the ways that they are being appropriately compensated. Besides, paying them more is just going to create more divas (or, in this case, divos) and more drama. Do we really need more drama kings in athletics, collegiate or otherwise? 'Cause I'm thinking no.

5. "But the coaches get paid a lot of money." First, yes, the coaches get paid a lot. Being a coach is their career. Once upon a time, though, that coach was in the same boat as those athletes and, unless some serious rule breaking was going on, they weren't paid for it either. Also, don't EVEN get me started on how overpaid coaches are.

6. "So they are getting a free education, why do they care? A lot of the stars are going on to the pros anyway and won't even finish their degree." You can squander money just as easily as you can squander an education. Besides, if they were good enough to go straight to the pros, they would have found a way, but they aren't. They need to be developed, so the free EDUCATION they receive from their coaches and their playing experiences in college helps them get to where they want to go.

7. If you don't appreciate what you are already being given, it certainly doesn't entitle you to receive more. If they are complaining because they don't think that the education (both in the classroom and out) they are receiving, along with the clothes, food, books, and their living quarters are enough, I'm not going to be in favor of them getting even more (money or otherwise) that they can take for granted.

8. "But they work so hard. They should be able to go out and have fun with their friends sometimes, and that takes money." First, I never said they didn't work hard. Second, I agree, they should be allowed to have fun sometimes. Third, there are plenty of poor college students all across this great nation who would argue that you can have fun on a budget, or even no money at all. And if their friends are telling them they need to be making money to have fun, odds are they have the wrong kind of friends.

9. "But the university makes so much money of off them, why can't they have just a little of it." Because they can't afford it. The majority of sports not only don't make money, but lose it. So the sports that do make money help pay for all the others. That is no small task. And what is left over is generally used for equipment or stadium upgrades, or is put away for those years when the programs that do make money still don't make enough to cover all the expenses. "So pay the coaches less." As much as I agree that coaches are overpaid.....yeah, why don't you try that and see how it goes. I predict disaster, but good luck with that. "So cut out the sports that don't make money." Again, impending disaster, but why don't you give it a shot. Make sure you have a great legal team, though, because you'll be in immediate violation of Title IX or, more specifically, the Javits Amendment of Title IX.

10. "But between practice, playing, and classwork, they don't have any free time. Shouldn't they get rewarded in some way?" They are being rewarded. Being educated is a great reward. Being a better athlete is a reward. And, again, there are many college students out there who balance classwork and a job, which can be just as demanding. So if athletes are complaining that they have no free time, I would like to introduce them to some of the other students who have to work their tails off all the time and get zero recognition for it, but still manage to get it all done. I'm not going to reward someone for poor time management skills. Or for whining.

If you think that college athletes still ought to be paid, we should just agree to disagree. I feel very strongly about this and get vehemently angry when I hear people talk about how "mistreated" those athletes are. Please. To paraphrase Cheech Marin (which, God help me, I never thought I would have to do), if that's mistreatment, chain me to the wall.

Monday, March 28, 2011

His Name is Brad Stevens

He is the baby-faced coach of the Butler Bulldogs. He is not yet 35 years old and he is a head coach, and a successful one at that. I'm not a Butler fan, but every time I see that scrappy team pull out another win under the direction of someone who looks like he is younger than some of his players, I kinda want to root for them a little. And I can't help but be a little curious about how Coach Stevens got where he is by such a young age. Luckily, all you have to do is type a name into Google these days and you can find out almost anything you want to know. So here are a few of the interesting things I learned during my search (Disclaimer: I don't know Coach Stevens personally, and cannot verify any of the information listed.).

1. He was born on October 22, 1976.

2. He still holds the record for points, assists, steal, and single season points at his high school.

3. He grew up in Indiana and has been in love with the game of basketball almost all his life. At the age of five he would watch taped basketball games around his kindergarten schedule.

4. During his freshman year of high school, he would go to a local gym before school every morning to practice his shooting skills. He made the varsity team that year.

5. He lettered in basketball, track, and baseball, and graduated 7th in his class. Thinking that his basketball skills would only get him so far, he chose to focus on his education. He decided to attend DePauw University and study economics. He still played basketball, lettering all four years as their point guard. He was also on the Dean's list.

6. After he graduated, he took a job at Eli Lilly and worked in their marketing department. He helped coach a local high school team in his spare time. He says that if he had stayed there and never pursued a career in basketball he "would have been happy as heck. Friends, family, and faith, they're going to take the cake over all this stuff."

7. He did decide to leave his well paying job at Eli Lilly, though, to take a volunteer (translate: unpaid) position at the Butler Basketball office (Summer of 2000). He was going to take a job at Applebee's to help pay the bills, but was soon promoted to a paid position. During this time, his girlfriend (now wife) and fellow DePauw graduate and former athlete (she played soccer), who supported his decision to change careers and follow his passion, went to law school five hours away and came to visit him every weekend.

8. After a head coaching change, he was promoted to a full time assistant coach position for the 2000-01 season.

9. On April 4, 2007, Stevens was named the new head coach at Butler. This followed the resignation of Todd Lickliter, who left to coach at Iowa.

10. During his first game as head coach, Stevens has said that he thought the team played on edge because he was so nervous. Ever since he has tried to remain as calm as possible during the games so that his emotions don't affect the players. He tries to never raise his voice and to not focus on bad calls or missed opportunities. He is always thinking about the next play, not the last one.

11. During his coaching tenure he has been an annual finalist for several coaching awards, taken his team all the way to the NCAA Championship game (losing to Duke on April 5 of last year), and received several contract extensions.

12. His contract with Butler now runs through the 2021-22 season.

13. He likes to focus on fundamental basketball skills instead of the individual skills of his players.

14. He has been called "humble", "modest", and "not about the money" by different journalists.

15. He and his wife are actively involved in Coaches vs. Cancer. His wife, Tracy, lost her mother to cancer in 2004.

16. He has also volunteered with the Jukes Foundation for kids, run by former Butler Bulldog, Avery Jukes, which benefits Ugandan children.

17. He and Tracy have two children, Brady and Kinsley.

18. His wife is a labor and employment lawyer.

19. His father is a surgeon, and former Hoosiers football player. His mother is a university professor, and has previously taught at Butler.

20. His love of basketball has never been a secret from Tracy. On their third date he took her to a high school basketball game over an hour and half away.

So there it is. He is just as adorable as you would have expected. And I gotta say, if ever it turns out that he is actually a real jerk, I'm gonna be ridiculously disappointed. But for now, I'm tempted to root for those scrappy little underdogs and their preteen looking coach. I mean, I'm still loyal to the SEC, but it is so much easier to say "Go Bulldogs," than it is to cheer on a bunch of blue felines. Oh, well. Maybe it won't come to that. After all, they both still have to get through the Final Four. We'll see.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Don't Be A Jerk

Yesterday I witnessed one of my all time pet peeves while at the grocery store. I was loading my bags into my car and noticed that while there not any spots directly near me, there were several just a few more spaces down the row. Well, there were a few spots near me, but they were handicapped spots. I was lucky enough to have someone pull out of a space not incredibly far from the door and enjoyed that, but if I had not had that stroke of luck I would have parked further away.

However, as I continued to load my bags into my car, a loud and tall truck roared into the parking lot and came to a rumbling halt in a handicapped spot. This was of course no big deal, but I couldn't help but wonder That's a awfully tall truck. That wouldn't be comfortable for a handicapped person to get out of. Why would you buy that? Hmmm, well I guess they could be one of those people with a temporarily handicapped tag because they are recovering from something....who knows.

There were two people in the car. The driver got out first, a woman who looked like she was maybe in her fifties. She was taller and thin, but a cigarette bounced around her mouth as she spoke to her passenger. I suspected that she may have been younger than she looked, but that her life habits had taken their tole. I couldn't be sure, but you know what I mean. Then her passenger also got out of the car. It was a man, but he otherwise could be described just like his companion. Neither one of them had a thing wrong with them....other than being rude. No walker, no wheelchair, no crutches, no limp, no visible ailment whatsoever, and with the ease that each of them jumped down from that ridiculous truck I was annoyed.

It gets to me when someone parks in a handicapped spot when there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with them. There are people in this world who cannot travel with any kind of ease. They may need a wheelchair to get around, they may need a walker, or crutches, or they may be recovering from a serious injury or surgery and not be able to walk very far on their own, and then there are those who would steal one of the few things that serves as a courtesy to add some semblance of ease to the lives of those who are physically challenged. It makes me want to smack them. Honestly? You can't walk an extra hundred feet? You would actually steal a handicapped spot? That's low. And detestable.

Being over 40 does not make you handicapped. Being a smoker does not make you handicapped (but don't get me started, because I can't STAND cigarette smoke). And while I'm at it, being fat does not make you handicapped. Being old does not make you handicapped. Being lazy does not make you handicapped. Being a self absorbed jerk does not make you handicapped. And unless you actually have a handicapped tag (permanent or temporary) do not park in a handicapped spot.

And the more I thought about it, the more annoyed (and even angry) I got. When did it become okay to walk around this world and not have ANY manners or sense of common courtesy? At what point in time did it become acceptable to not care about anyone but yourself? Don't get me wrong, my own manners have never been perfect, but it disturbs me that so many people out there either don't care, or worse, have no idea that they are being rude because nobody ever bothered to teach them. I see people all the time young and old, fat and thin, rich and poor, tall and short who act like selfish, spoiled brats and it makes me want to (to borrow an old phrase) snatch a knot in somebody's head. And it's not generational. It may make you less of a social pariah these days, but like I said, I see both the young and the old do it all the time. Ugh.

So today I'm giving a short, and BY NO MEANS COMPREHENSIVE, lesson on simple etiquette. Pay close attention, and don't say I never gave you anything. If you already know these rules and follow them, congratulations. You don't completely suck at life.

1. Boys, open doors for girls. It doesn't matter if they are beautiful or not. It doesn't matter if their hands are full or not. Just do it.

2. Girls, when a guy opens a door for you, don't treat him like he is personally killing feminism. He is just being nice. Say thank you.

3. Speaking of saying thank you, do it more. Thank people who let you cut in front of them in line at the grocery store. Thank people (with the little wave) when they let you over into their lane during heavy traffic. Thank people whenever they do something even remotely nice for you. It will change your life. Even thank the people who you are paying to do something for you. When the waitress refills your drink, thank her. You will be amazed at how people respond.

4. When someone says thank you to you, don't just shrug your shoulders. Respond with you're welcome.

5. Unless you are waiting on the most important phone call you might EVER receive, put your phone on vibrate in restaurants, movie theaters, libraries, etc. It is beyond rude to loudly answer a phone, that was loudly ringing, in a quiet place. Also, speaker phone was not invented so that everyone in a waiting room, or on a train, with you can hear your entire conversation. They don't know you and don't care to hear your every life detail.

6. When you are with someone, at dinner or wherever, and you answer your cell phone in the middle of a conversation you are essentially saying to that person that, even though they took the time to actually be with you and not just call you, that whoever else might be on the phone is still more important than them. Answering text messages is also rude. Try looking someone in the eye when you have a conversation.

7. Thank you notes still matter and are appreciated. I know they are less "green" than thank you emails, but an actual hand written note thanking someone for a gift or act is so much more personal and meaningful than any kind of electronic message that just says thanks. So, again, while they are cost effective and green, thank you emails (and e-invites to weddings!) are unacceptable.

8. Never shove someone out of the way. Say excuse me in an audible tone. Audible does not mean you should scream the expression in an annoyed voice. Just say it loud enough for them to hear, say it kindly, and say it with a smile. Give them the chance to move over for you.

9. It is rude to stop in the middle of a busy walkway, or worse, a doorway. If you realize you need to stop and dig something out of a pocket or a bag, step out of the walkway before stopping. If you see someone you wish to speak to, guide them over to an area that is, you guessed it, out of the walkway.

10. Never park in a handicapped spot unless you are actually handicapped.

11. When you see someone who is struggling to carry their load (books, groceries, papers, it doesn't matter), offer to help them. Don't just stand/sit there and watch them struggle. If they drop something, pick it up for them.

12. You may not live in a part of the world where it is expected for you to refer to people as ma'am or sir, but at least answer yes or no when asked a dichotomous question, instead of "yeah" or "nah." And if you do live somewhere where it is generally expected for you to say "Yes, ma'am" or "No, sir" then say it. But don't be snotty about it. Be as earnest as humanly possible. If you can't be nice, fake it.

13. When someone says hey or hello, respond with real, sure enough, actual words. Don't just nod in their general direction. Treat them like they are at least worth the cognitive effort it takes to say hello in return.

14. While it is especially rude late at night, it is still always rude to have the music in your car so loud that when you drive by a house, the people inside can hear your bass even though their doors and windows are closed. Having your music that loud does not say that you love your tunes, it says that you don't respect other people enough to allow them to listen to theirs in peace. It doesn't make you cool, it makes you rude and incredibly disrespectful, not to mention thoughtless. Your schedule and lifestyle may be different from your neighbors, or even just the people you drive past. They don't interfere with yours, don't interfere with theirs.

15. The above rule does not just apply to music in your car. It applies to the general noise level that you and any cohorts make at community or apartment complex pools and other general areas where other people live and/or work. Be mindful, that's the key.

16. You will notice that each item on this list adheres to one general theme. So, while this list is not at all comprehensive (not even close, there is a reason why etiquette books written by Emily Post are hundreds of pages long), can be summed up like this: Don't be a jerk. That's all it takes. Don't be a jerk. Be considerate of other people. Show respect to others.

We all have bad days. And yes, sometimes seeing one of our pet peeves can send us into a rather impolite (and hypocritical, but you knew that about me already) rant about how people aren't even polite anymore, but let's not let that be the norm.

That's my lesson for today. Don't be a jerk. Class dismissed.

Monday, March 21, 2011

So Anyway....

After last week's illness and general suckfest, I'm determined this week will be better. I'm going to make it better. I'm not really sure how yet, but I working on it. And I'm gonna start by not spending all my time worrying. I'm not in control. God is. I will figure out where He is leading me, but until then, I'm not going to solve anything by being down about it. So today I'm gonna think about other stuff. Good stuff. Random stuff.

1. I think everyone ought to give the Netflix free trial offer a shot. It's fun. And no, they don't have everything available for instant streaming, but they have a lot. It does nothing for my productivity, but when you're sick and not being productive anyway, it's borderline amazing. Also, nobody paid me to say that.

2. When you are no longer sick, Netflix is still awesome. Especially when you are still in the "free trial" period.

3. I'm not a fan of the trend in movies for it to be okay to cheat on someone. These movies (romantic comedies, mostly) that show the protagonist trying to choose between two people they really like and sort of dating them both...yeah, it's still cheating. And it's not romantic. Or comical. Hollywood writer fail.

4. I love Jane Austen novels. She was a lady with talent. I can read her stories over and over again. However, I'm not a fan of all of the movie adaptations. I love some, hate others. I didn't discover my love for Miss Austen's work until at least high school and the majority of her work I didn't actually read until after college, but I read the works of the Bronte sisters before I finished middle school. Still don't like them. I know their novels are "classics". I don't care. Jane Austen=Good, Bronte sisters=Bad. Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre are crazy and babbling. No really, those women are worse than I am about babbling and showing their crazy.

5. I love that spring is here in all its warm weather glory. Sunshine and t-shirt weather. Yes, please. It makes me want to get some pals together and play baseball...I mean go lay out by the pool and tan because I'm a delicate, demure female who would never get dirty playing baseball. Yeah, raise your hand if you believe that. I didn't think so. So lace up your PF Flyers and meet me at the sandlot.

6. I am trying to work on my writing, the stories in my head. I have had a fair amount of writer's block involving my fictional works since my computer was stolen last year and I lost my files. I am getting into the swing again, with several ideas floating around and this time around I am kind of digging the idea of using Google Docs so I can access my files from anywhere I want, whenever I want, from any computer.

7. It doesn't matter how old you are or the level of accomplishment or general inner peace you feel when everything is done, household chores are never fun. Well, almost never. When you crank the stereo and belt out your favorite tunes while you dance around the room with a vacuum cleaner it's a little fun. But most of the time, household chores still suck.

8. I'm reading a book right now, as part of a Bible study, called Parables from the Back Side that takes different parables from the Bible and breaks them down by their usually accepted meaning, how hearing them would have affected the people based on the cultural and religious norms of the day, and different lessons you can take from them when you look at them from a different perspective. I like it.

9. Disinfecting a cell phone is so easy, but it is not something I do often enough. Think about it. A cell phone is something you touch all the time, sick or not, you probably drop it on the ground occasionally, hold it up to your face, put in your pocket (or purse, etc) and place it on any number of other surfaces (tables, counters, nightstands, etc) that may also be covered in germs. They are disgusting. I am only thinking about this because I disinfected my cell just yesterday and already I can think of a few things throughout the day that make me want to do it all over again.

10. I think Alaska looks so pretty in pictures, movies, and on TV. I would love to visit there someday. But only during the warm part of the year. And I could never live there. I can't handle the weather. For instance, the weather forecast for Juneau at lunch today was only twenty nine degrees and they have a rain/snow mix ahead later this week. I, on the other hand, way down here in Mississippi, am enjoying temps in the high seventies and bright sunshine (and the sun rises and sets at appropriate times). So recap - I want to visit Alaska, but only in the summer, and I thank the Good Lord that he put me in the South, where I belong.

That's it. Happy Monday!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Worst. Week. Ever.

I have been rather quiet on the blog front this week for a few reasons, the main one of which is that I have been afflicted with a rather nasty sinus infection. For the better part of this week, I could barely make coherent sentences and slept off and on, though the sleep was never quality sleep. I would wake up every few hours with the need to medicate and reach for the box of tissues. It's been pretty ridiculous.

So, I was sick. Big deal. What's so bad about that? Well, it gets worse.

I noticed a weird looking spot on my dog's back leg and when I took him the vet, he was diagnosed with ringworm. Awesome. Everything that he has touched in our house has had to be thoroughly cleaned. With bleach whenever possible. Carpets and furniture translate into a lengthy steam cleaning process. And the laundry. Don't even get me started on the laundry. We have had to use gloves to touch the dog all week. Mostly because I am very against having him contaminate me with ringworm (which, by the way, is a fungus and not an actual parasite, just so you know). Luckily, most adults are not as likely to catch ringworm as children are and there are no kids in our house. Still, we have been beyond super careful all week. The vet said that with the medicine he gave us, the dog should be as good as new in another week or so, but I'm not taking any chances. I will keep up with the glove wearing, bleaching, steam cleaning and what have you until the vet says we are definitely in the clear. As someone who likes things to be clean and sanitized at all times, this is quickly on the way to the top of my list of things I never want to have happen again. Anyway, all of this craziness has also made the week rather ridiculous.

But, what has really sent my entire week into "Are you freakin' kidding me??!!" territory was when I got my last set of test results back. I did not score high enough to qualify for this summer's alternate path program like I wanted. What makes it worse is that I have reason to believe that the low score stems from a faulty microphone. That's the thing about the new test. It's new because this scholastic year is the first year they have offered it. I don't know how much the test has changed, but what I do know is that my speaking portion was graded because a microphone was supposed to record everything that I said and then the recording would be graded at the testing headquarters. I'm not super fantastic at giving improvisational or impromptu (and yes, there is a difference) speeches in English, so I know I probably didn't deserve a perfect score in Spanish either, but I do know that I deserved higher than what I received. Due to the fact that the microphone would crackle on occasion while I was speaking, I think the equipment is not my friend. I'm not a fan of the design of this test. But, what I think doesn't really matter, because I have no say in the matter. And they won't offer the test again until it is far too late for this summer's program.

To say I was disappointed would be a euphemism. I thought God was leading me down this path and now I feel a little bit lost again. It's a feeling that I really, really hate. Not severely dislike, hate. My entire life I have been working toward something. I was always in control. I had a set destination and a set plan and I worked hard to make sure that I was making progress along the path I had set for myself. In other words, I'm used to being in control. It was what I prided myself on, actually. But now, this lost feeling is taking that away from me. I'm not a fan, I must say.

I hesitated to mention the whole testing issue on this blog because by "saying it out loud" it is like admitting defeat. It feels like I should be ashamed. It feels like a lot of things that I really don't want to talk about. But, in truth, when I am so used to being in control, when I am so accustomed to knowing the answer and what the next step should be, it feels like I have nothing left to be ashamed of. It feels like I have no pride left to lose, really. So why not share? Why not take down the walls I've built around myself and show my vulnerabilities? Maybe someone will read this and feel the same and realize they aren't alone. Or maybe it's just time for the walls to come down. Either way, bottling it up doesn't make the truth any less true.

So there you have it. Sick self + "sick" dog + poor test results + general feeling of being lost in life = the worst week ever. Oh, and in my sick state, I slept through some of the biggest March Madness upsets so far. Boo that.

On the upside, I still have a husband who is loving and supportive, a dog who thinks I run the whole world, a family who shares in my crazy, and (during my few waking hours) I did come in second in a Tiny Owl Studios contest and get a little prize for myself, but most importantly, God doesn't want me to be lost. He wants me to be happy. He has a plan for me, so I don't have to be in control. I just have to remember that. Of course, therein lies the hard part.

Monday, March 14, 2011

What Not To Wear: SEC Tournament Edition

So I didn't post anything for most of last week because I was in Atlanta at the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament. I had a tremendous time with my family and friends. Of course, it would have been even better if my own beloved Bulldogs had held it together long enough to at least win their first game, but it wasn't meant to be.

Being a Bulldog is not for the faint of heart. Bulldogs have to ride the roller coaster of emotions during each and every game/match/meet. There is excitement, hope, joy, frustration, anger, pleading, prayerfulness, elation and heartbreak, they just aren't always in that order. I say all that to explain that I can't possibly elaborate about how I feel about our performance in the game without experiencing at least half the roller coaster ride again and using a few choice words, so I won't elaborate at all. We were one and done. And that's all I have to say about that.

Anyway, the rest of the tournament was still a hoot and I must say that the fans were often as entertaining as the games themselves. Especially the fans who don't really know when to stop with the outward expression of their enthusiasm and dedication.

Generally, on the What Not To Wear show the hosts try to discourage the contestant/subject/victim from wearing any of the horrid, over the top outfits by throwing them away. But, in all honesty, no matter how bad a fan outfit is, I'm not sure I want to discourage their attempts altogether. Why? Because that would be less fun for me. I wouldn't get to see things like this, that I just can't help but share. Enjoy!

Full body orange and white checkerboard. And you can't tell, but those aren't just pants, those are overalls that he is wearing a basketball jersey over, and then the UT flag is his cape. Yep, his cape. And I wish it stopped there. No, that's not true, because then I wouldn't get to share this with you...

His hat is velour. Orange velour. Not just orange, Tennessee orange. I have to be specific, because, and let's be honest about this one, that shade of orange doesn't occur in nature. God doesn't make that shade of orange. It's not the orange of a sunset. It's not the orange of a bright flower. It's not the orange found on the fruit by the same name. No, it is slap you in the face, bright, horrendous, Rocky Top orange. AND IT'S VELOUR, PEOPLE.

I also had to show you that it went all the way down to his feet. That's right. He didn't stop at the velour hat, the cape, the overalls, or the jersey. No, no, he carried it all the way to his shoes. I'm pretty sure the only place on the planet you could ever purchase something like that is in Knoxville, Tennessee. Which is also the only place on the planet that you can actually hear "Rocky Top" be played that many times without several thousand people responding with a collective "ugh!"

Now, it should be noted that you don't have to be completely over the top to make the "What Not to Wear" category. For instance, take a look at this:

They are wearing Ole Miss uniforms. 'Nough said.

(I could be a little nicer and say that I'm sorry for teasing the Rebels in this way, but it would be a lie. I actually rather enjoy it.)

But back to the over the top crowd. The University of Kentucky has more than one fan on the list. And I didn't even get a good picture of Kentucky Elvis or the lady in the blue sports bra. You know who you are.

It's not orange checkerboard, so maybe it's a step up? However, blue striped overalls with painted faces, fuzzy wigs, basketball jerseys, AND t-shirts (with the jerseys and t-shirts coordinated to have both the blue on white and the white on blue represented) don't do much to convince me of that. They do get points for owning it, though. I told them I wanted pictures of the craziest fan outfits and they were most obliging. Nice fellas.

They have let them fall down behind their backs, but you can see the tips around their wrists, that's right, blue and white feather boas. With blue wigs, tiaras, and matching t-shirts to complete the ensemble. They were also most obliging. Not just fans, fanatics. No shortened or abbreviated version of the word will do. Fanatics.

Full body suit that is half blue, half orange. Complete with similarly colored curly wig and lei. The full body suit has always baffled me. Maybe it's because I really can't stand to have both my nose and mouth covered at the same time. It sort of freaks me out and here is someone who is not only voluntarily covering both, but paid for something that would do so. Obviously, I would make a terrible skier because the whole ski mask concept isn't for me, but I digress. I did notice, however, that not a whole two minutes into the game this kid had already removed the face portion of the suit and was sweating buckets. So the outfit is both over the top ugly and so uncomfortably hot that the wearer is showered in their own sweat. Excellent. I know that's just what I look for in an outfit when I'm preparing to go sit with thousands of my fellow fans.

Having trouble understanding what you CAN get away with wearing while still showing your enthusiasm? Allow me to give you a couple of examples.

I show you this picture to prove a point (or two). First, you can wear crazy hats, face paint, mardi gras beads and not look super crazy. You just have to know when to draw the line as you pile stuff on. Second, the younger you are the more stuff you can get away with piling on because you are naturally adorable. Age vs amount of crazy fan gear allowed before you cross the line is an inversely proportionate relationship.

This picture is to show you that this is the kind of thing that is always acceptable (the MSU uniform). If you are cheering for the right team, you can really never go wrong.....well, you can, but it's a lot more forgivable.

I don't deny a certain bias is present in my opinion on the subject. But, I assure you, it's all in good fun.

Welcome to March Madness!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hot Doughnuts Now

Last weekend I had a lot of fun visiting old friends, seeing one of them get married, and seeing a sign that world peace is possible. It was a big weekend. But I did forget to mention one other glorious thing that happened. What? There's more? Yeah, there is.

Several of my friends were the most excited about getting to visit Bop's Frozen Custard. There is no place on the planet quite like it and many of us live in a place that is not lucky enough to be home to a Bop's. However, while I do enjoy their fare, Bop's was not the place I got the most excited about seeing. No, I saw something for the first time in a sweet forever that brought joy to my heart and guilt to my diet. Some of you know what I'm talking about already. That sign. That glorious sign. As soon as it's turned on, your heart does a little dance. Allow me to demonstrate.

(Forgive the photo quality please. It was taken in the rain with a cell phone. And my phone doesn't have a special app for that.)

There is a not a Krispy Kreme where I live. People buy them in grocery stores, but it isn't the same, so what's the point, really? In fact, where I live, people often say they don't particularly care for Krispy Kreme. I maintain that the only reason they feel that way is because the only Krispy Kreme they know is day old, room temperature, prepackaged doughnuts. I love the brand, but, in truth, these are practically knock-offs. The only way to properly enjoy Krispy Kreme is to do so when they are still hot off of the conveyor belt. And no, microwaving them is NOT the same. You have to get one when it is still hot and the glaze is so soft and flaky that it won't even stick to your fingers, but falls to pieces with each bite.

I promise I did other things besides eat on this trip. Really, I did. In fact, I didn't even derail my diet (See? It is okay to indulge every once and while). But I do enjoy food. And I think the truth is, that if you don't truly enjoy a meal, whether it's health food or the occasional junk food indulgence, you're doing something wrong. So, every once in a while, when you feel that craving that makes your taste buds tingle and you happen to pass that beautiful, glowing, red neon sign as it turns on, take a little detour and have a Krispy Kreme...or two.

Monday, March 7, 2011

...And World Peace

This weekend, I attended a beautiful wedding down on the Mississippi Coast. The bride is a friend of mine from college and she looked GORGEOUS! Her groom is from the Virgin Islands and while I have met him a few times, I met his family for the first time at the wedding. I must say that his relatives are crazy fun to be around. And I got to learn some wedding traditions from St. Thomas, which was cool. However, the focus of this post involves something that happened after the lovely couple departed and we all left the reception.

Many of my college friends attended the shindig also, so we could support the bride and cry because she was so beautiful in that masterpiece of a dress. After that, though, we dried our tears, refreshed our make-up and decided to get caught up on life. We changed our clothes (translation: we dressed ourselves down) and went to dinner together.

Our reservation was for twenty. The vast majority of us were graduates of Mississippi State, however, there were a select few that don't bleed maroon, but we love them anyway. In fact, one couple there were not so much our peers as the parents of a close friend (who was also present). They have hosted so many events and have become such a part of our activities that we have basically adopted them as part of our own families. They seem to return the affection, so much so that they offered to buy dinner. Well, offered isn't really the right word. Insisted is really more accurate. Wouldn't take no for an answer.

So we talked. We caught up with everyone. We laughed. We ate. We had a great time. And when the check came and our benefactor pulled out his credit card, we teased. We had to, you see, because it was an Ole Miss credit card. And since, for anyone who doesn't know, Ole Miss is the rival of Mississippi State, we teased. And, of course, by rival I mean much hated arch nemesis. The rivalry runs deep. It's hard to explain if you've never experienced it. It's like the Red Sox versus the Yankees. Indelible lines have been drawn. It just is what it is. But I digress.

So, during our teasing someone suggested that we could never allow such blasphemy to pay our entire check. However, I disagreed with that sentiment. I saw something beautiful happen that night. I saw an Ole Miss fan and his credit card pay for a room full of Mississippi State dinners. Ladies and Gentlemen, what I saw was something just shy of a miracle. It's a sign that world peace is possible. It gives me hope.

I know what you're thinking. You are sitting there, rolling your eyes and saying to yourself that I'm insane and that I'm overreacting.

And to that I must say that if that's how you feel, you will never understand the nature and magnitude of our rivalry.

Go Dawgs!

And thank the Lord for great friends!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Few Thoughts...

Today, I just want to share with you some of the things I have been thinking about or doing lately. It may not be exciting, but it's me!

  1. I am currently reading God Has a Dream for Your Life by Shelia Walsh. She wrote it a few years ago, but I am just now getting around to perusing it. It is the first book of hers that I have read and I really like it so far. Every chapter or so I read something that just hits me, right in the heart, like a ton of bricks. And I love even more that while she, of course, uses verses from the Bible to make her point, she also uses references from The Wizard of Oz (the novel, not the movie).

    In the Chapter entitled "If I Only Had a Brain" she makes a point about how many of us tend to hide who we really are. She puts it like this: "The great irony is that the foundation stone of the Christian faith is that we cannot save ourselves. We come to God through Christ, acknowledging that we have nothing of our own to offer. Then we live the rest of our lives trying to look as if we had nothing to be saved from!" I love this, because it is all too true. Even (or, I guess, Especially) to other Christians, who know the truth, which is that none of us are perfect, we try to act as though we are. It's a very difficult charade to keep up. So, for the record, I'm not perfect. And I love that I don't have to be. And I don't have to be, because God is. He is perfect, and saves me from my imperfection by forgiving me. I Love it. Love, love, love, love, love it!

  2. My husband and I went to a gathering hosted by our local chapter of the Mississippi State Alumni Association that was for "young alumni" last night. We met at a local sports bar to watch the basketball game against Arkansas. It was our first event with the group and we had a great time meeting everyone.

    One alumnus present is a teacher at a local high school. He and I talked for a few minutes and I told him about my career change and the fact that I was trying to become a teacher through an alternate route program. He informed me that he had also gone through an alternate route because he had the same experience. I can't tell you how delighted I was to talk with him about it. He gave me tips and advice and a lot of what he had to say was encouraging. I know other people who have used an alternate route to become teachers, but it is always so wonderful to meet one more and have them relate to you and give you encouragement. Thanks, God. I know it was You who arranged that!

    We were also invited to a local Bible study that some of the other people present attend. I am kind of psyched about this and can't wait to give it a try. The hubs and I already have something to attend just before their next meeting, but we are hoping that the times and everything will work out so that we can make it.

  3. I may have mentioned before (more than once) that my dog snores. Like an old man. Well, it gets better. He "talks" in his sleep, too. He will be sound asleep, snoring like nobody's business, and then his feet will begin to twitch and he will start to bark. It's not a full volume bark, but more of a quiet, almost chirp of a bark. Although, recently I did witness him progress to a full volume bark and wake himself up. He opened his eyes and barked again and then just looked around as if he were really confused. I laughed until my face and my abdomen both hurt. This dog is awesome!

  4. It's March already. Where did the time go? Next month, a friend of mine will graduate vet school and there will be a Royal Wedding. Both are within a few days of each other, but, as you might have guessed, the events are unrelated. I am still excited about both of them, though. I mean, I'm more excited for my friend, because I have seen her work hard and study hard for so long and now her efforts will have officially paid off and she can show the world how awesome she is by adding some high falutin' letters to her name. But you better believe the she is just as pumped as I am about watching a royal wedding. I mean, it's not everyday you get to watch someone become royalty. Plus, if you thought the attire at the Oscars was nuts, this is a ROYAL WEDDING people. Everything is going to be over the top. And we get to watch from afar so that we don't have to be in the massive crowds of onlookers (or well wishers, y'know, whatever you want to call them). We don't have to get dressed up, we don't have to wear heels, and we don't have to put on make-up. We can sit there in our sweats and toe socks, with our hair pulled back, munchin' on popcorn in the comfort of our own homes and watch it all unfold. Yes, please.

  5. Speaking of weddings, another friend of mine is getting married this weekend. I need to make sure the batteries in the camera are gonna be up to the task. I also need to make sure I actually take pictures. Do you ever do that? Take your camera with the intent of taking a ton of photos and then get so wrapped up in the event that you never actually snap any shots? 'Cause I do that a lot. Luckily, I have several friends who are much better photographers than I am and who post their pictures to Facebook so that I can enjoy their efforts, too. Still, I should work on that whole actually taking pictures thing.

  6. I am still waiting on my final test scores. Maybe they will be in tomorrow. If they aren't, then they should be here no later than early next week. I'm not great at waiting. Can you tell?

  7. Does anybody know where the saying "a penny for your thoughts" came from? I heard something about it on the radio the other day and so I looked it up. Some people believe that it is in reference to the cost of postage during the 1800s, since letters were the main line of communication over a distance and that was how you were expected to convey your thoughts and opinions, etc to anyone that was not close enough to talk to in person. Although, some argue that the saying is actually listed in a book of sayings and proverbs written by John Heywood in the 1500s, but they cannot pinpoint the actual origin of the saying. Others still suggest that Heywood's work is the first record we have of the "a penny for your thoughts" idiom, and that the somewhat similar "put my two cents in" is actually what was based on the 1800s cost of postage, since in the 1840s it was about two cents (which, of course, is not actually equivalent to the value of two cents today). I can't verify the information without more research, and honestly, I have some other things that have a higher priority than this on my to-do list, so I'm just asking if any of you know the answer.

  8. That's basically all I wanted to share, but I don't like odd numbers.
Thanks for letting me share my crazy with you today! Let's do this again soon.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Sad Truth About Addictions

I was so annoyed when I started writing this morning. I can't watch TV, read the news, or listen to the radio without hearing about Charlie Sheen. I hear over and over again how this chump thinks that he's special and that he doesn't have a problem. He blames his problems on everyone else. He thinks he is actually better than everybody. He thinks that illegal substances and addictions are no big deal because he can handle them, it's just everybody else who can't.

I began writing a long, involved post directed towards him expressing my annoyance, anger, and general desire to slap him. I was most of the way through the post before I realized that it doesn't matter. It may have given me an outlet to express how I feel about people who have succumbed to their addictions without asking for help because they actually believe they don't have a problem, but that would be all. Even if the stupid jerk had read the post himself, even if I had the chance to scream my anger directly to his face it would have done nothing. It wouldn't have done a darn thing, because he doesn't care.

That's the thing about addictions. No matter what form they come in, addictions eat a person alive from the inside. Their very ability to give a rodent's rear end is destroyed, along with all the traces of the person they once were. I don't know Charlie Sheen personally. I don't care to (quite frankly, I never thought he was a good actor. I think his movies are stupid and his sitcoms are insipid). I just get so aggravated when I see someone who actually thinks they're special and that they don't have a problem, or worse, that all their problems are somebody else's fault.

I have had the unfortunate experience of knowing someone who has an addiction. So I know that it wouldn't matter if you screamed, cried, beat the tar out of them, or just sat down and spoke to them rationally, and with complete honesty. Once someone has given in to an addiction, they don't care about anything or anyone, not even themselves. All they care about is their next dose, or drink, or whatever. They seem selfish. They seem so self absorbed that you want to slap them in the face, but it's just the addiction talking. The person you knew isn't even there anymore. Or, rather, they are, but they are buried so deep under all the lies that they wove trying to deny their initial problem that they can't find their way out. And they won't find their way out until they actually realize and admit to themselves that they have hit rock bottom.

There is no magical way to get through to them. There is no special formula. Not even rehab centers get through to everyone. If you are close to the person in question, at first you are annoyed, then you get angry, but then you become completely heartbroken. Eventually, though, when you become jaded and are tired of listening to their excuses and the rambling, basically, when you get tired of listening to the addiction instead of hearing the person, part of you dies a little and you quit caring. You just want them out of your life. And even then, they can find ways to set you off and make you angry all over again.

It's a vicious cycle. They're trapped in it. You're trapped in it with them because you want to save them from themselves. But, like I said, until they hit rock bottom, recognize it as rock bottom, and admit to themselves that the only person who is at fault is the one they see in the mirror, the cycle will continue.

That's why I changed the post. I got most of the way through it and then just became sad. Don't get me wrong, Charlie Sheen is a disgrace of a human being and to have to hear about any more of his pathetic shenanigans will still make me want to slap him with a big ol' fashioned reality check, but it wouldn't change anything. His delusions of grandeur coupled with his many, many addictions would still cause him to be dumber than a post and more pathetic than Paris Hilton's singing career.

This is what an addiction does to someone. Sad, but true.