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Trying to Make Sense of the Kevin Kapp, PUSD and Presidential Speech Debacle September 11, 2009

Posted by Jay in education, political issues.
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Whew, where to start on this behemoth!? After reviewing several blogs, letters, and comments on the Daily Courier’s website, I felt it was time to chime in and give my perspective and opinion on the whole thing. Typically, I absolutely can’t stand debating politics or religion with people, for the same reasons many of you do. Feelings are easily hurt, and it is seldom that anything constructive seeds from the discussion. That being said, this post isn’t intended to change anyone’s mind on any particular issue. Worst case scenario is a plethora of people completely disagree with me and post their thoughts, which at least gets them thinking!

Kevin Kapp, the superintendent of the Prescott Unified School District joined a small force in America that not only discouraged teachers from showing the President’s outreach to students in our country, but banned it. An email was circulated to all teachers in the district essentially prohibiting them from showing the speech. Why, you may ask? According to Mr. Kapp, he was very displeased with the curriculum materials that were given out to accompany the speech. The materials were designed to help promote inquiry within the classroom, and provide thoughtful insight on very important topics, such as setting and following through with goals. Kapp described the upcoming speech from the President as, “a good idea gone astray”. How did it go astray exactly? Well, that’s a good question, and one that I wrote to Kevin in a polite, professional email. I will update this posting if/when I ever hear back from. However, unfortunately, I fear I will never hear back from him. Is this because Kevin may disregard my email without even reading it? Absolutely! If I was him, I’d delete most of my inbox as well after viewing some of the letters that I have seen go to him and the media alike.

Before I give my take on this situation, let me backtrack a little bit and reach out to those of you who are extremely frustrated, angry, and flustered beyond the description of words. Do you have reasons to be upset? Most certainly! Are you so upset that you want your voice to be heard? If that’s you, I’m pleading with you to understand that the only voice of yours that will be heard is that of reason. ANY traces of malevolence or malice will immediately be discarded and trashed without consideration. Want to make a difference and have your questions answered? Then you absolutely MUST cut back on the cynical responses and satirical slews that have filled the internet, local news papers, and news. Stop coming in the guise of a know-it-all with all the solutions, and slamming Kapp and the PUSD with your childish like jibs and jabs. Again, I’m not telling how any of you should feel regarding this issue. It goes without saying (or does it, nowadays?) that nobody can feel the unique feelings that you do as an individual after experiencing various schemas. You are the only one who knows EXACTLY how you, personally, feel! However, you can control how you express yourself while still being productive. I urge you all whom I speak of in this paragraph to recognize that there are A LOT of people who feel differently than you do regarding this issue, and for various reasons. You may have fun and think it’s funny to poke fun at the confused parents who post things such as, “It’s a good thing (that Kapp announced it will not be shown in school) or I wasn’t going to let my kids attend school on Tuesday”, but this is obviously illogical on so many levels it’s not even worth taking an honest look at. A child’s education should be a number one priority in a family, but clearly in that household this is not so. Much like Kapp denied teachers the option of showing the speech, a parent was actually going to deny their child 4+ hours of important, scheduled curriculum because of a 10-15 minute interjection from the President. Even if Obama was everything that his haters claim he is, would it not be worth it to take 10 minutes to explain to your child how you feel about it, and then give them the opportunity to learn the other various things they were going to learn that day at school? But, alas, badgering (no pun intended) the plethora of fallacies in this disgruntled parent’s logic won’t help the problem. Kevin Kapp, however, has the power to change some of these things. Keep this in mind when you carry over your insults into the realm of persons who can actually help you, if you’re civil, organized, and intelligent enough. Shame on any of you who think you are doing your town, city, state, or even country a favor by childishly spreading cut downs and satire over social networking interfaces. You are just as big of a problem as Mr. Kapp.

Ah, yes, Mr. Kapp! Speaking of him, it’s time to weigh in some personal thoughts. As a soon to be professional in education, I don’t try to keep it a secret how disgusted I am with most school districts. In PUSD, I paid to play sports and saw incredible teachers leave their jobs because of inadequate pay and tiresome battles over curriculum and the learning process. The typical Arizona school district is ruled by lawyers and former chair holders to other committees, and I often find myself scratching my head and wondering just how much in class time these people have put in recently. I don’t care about your five year experience that was 20 some odd years ago in a different state. To me, the main problems in education these days are stemming from having people make decisions or implement “revolutionary breakthroughs” whom actually have little to no experience in classrooms within the last 10 years. Yes, at one point or another, most of us were students and can remember what it’s like to be situated in public eduaction, but that’s an entirely different point of view and counts for nothing when debating educational issues that directly affect curriculum and the learning processes. These two things are part of a professional craft fondly known as *gasp* teaching! My suggestion to PUSD, Mr. Kapp, and the know-it-all cynics is to relax, and let the teachers do what they were trained to do. Let them make decisions on what is or what is not appropriate to show their class. Is it ok to not show the President’s speech because it would cut out too much of an important assignment the teacher had planned for that day? ABSOLUTELY! Wake up people, there’s a billion different paths you can take on the internet to view the speech as many times as you want, whenever you want! Obama’s speech won’t be any less effective at home that evening. Now, is it ok to demand to all the professionals within your district that they absolutely, under no circumstances be able to show it? Well, given the limited amount of information that comes directly from Kapp himself, it appears the answer to that one is most certainly “no”. Kapp tried to explain he was merely being mindful of his students and not wanting to have political agenda’s pushed on them, which is admirable, but unless he had one of the FAKE copies of the supposed “first draft” of the speech, I’m utterly perplexed as to what agenda was being pushed. Yes, sad as it may be, there are actually many rumors that the speech had been revised and that the original was a brainwashing, socialist tool to make our children/students the army of Obama. But, dare I ask……Where does this supposed first/rough draft reside!? Surely with the wildfire effect of modern, social networking, I would have come across it by now, along with the rest of the country. Oh, that’s right it, doesn’t exist. If you think it does, I strongly urge you to find sound evidence of it and post it here for us all to see. I will be the first to apologize. Mr. Kapp was quoted saying that, “As the superintendent of schools, I am not comfortable with school district resources being used for this purpose”. What does that even mean? Unless there have been drastic changes since I was in PUSD, it wasn’t difficult to have a TV in the classroom, even every single one.

I guess it’s ok to show FOX news every morning to our students (well, at least according to Tom Horne it is, the superintendent of public instruction for the Arizona Department of Education) but not an inspirational speech aimed at improving democracy once every four years from the President. Horne also had similar feelings to Kapp, and even went as far as to say the speech was “obviously written by an Obama worshipper”. As to exactly what that means, I am lost on that one. Apparently the professional speech writer who helped make the speech prays, sings praise, and tithes to Obama as much as possible. I have yet to find a Youtube of this, but would love it if any of you have seen it. In the mean time, here’s the interview with Horne on Fox. http://www.foxnews.com/search-results/m/26219484/failing-grade.htm

In closing, I want to reiterate what Senator McCain said in his speech after officially losing the election. We are one nation, and we must bind together to see effective changes in our country. This doesn’t mean that everybody with an internet connection needs to go ape shit every time they feel strong about an issue. There is a fine line between opinion and factual information when it comes to politics and it needs to be recognized (though unfortunate) that more often than not, no matter how bipartisan or “factual” you deem sources to be, when it deals with politics, it’s likely not. Politics are created by man and fueled by complex social constructions, but until a perfect man (or woman) appears in this world, nobody’s opinion or methods are best for EVERYONE. It is important to wear your holistic hat when discussing or analyzing political debacles. You must put yourself in others positions, and furthermore, attempt to see things as they do. You can’t berate others, whom oppose your points of view and label them things such as ignorant, sheep, etc. etc. if you are guilty of the same travesty.

REFERENCES: all quotes used in this blog were taken from the Wall Street Journal’s official website (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125210804212187859.html), The Daily Courier’s official website (http://www.dcourier.com/main.asp?TypeID=1&ArticleID=72208&SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&Page=2), and FOX News’ official website (actual citation used in post).

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District 9 joins other “blockbusters” in this summer’s slew of cinematic disappointments August 18, 2009

Posted by Jay in Uncategorized.
8 comments

Never before have I been more disappointed after a summer of TERRIBLE movies! Typically, the summer and the term “blockbuster” are often seen together, and for good reason. This summer was monumental in the sense that NOTHING even close to monumental was produced on the big screen. District 9 was supposed to change all that for me. Endorsed by beloved Peter Jackson (director of the critically acclaimed Lord of the Rings trilogy), I suddenly had high expectations and became very excited to see this flick. No big name actors and an evidential, original theme began to perk my interests. Interests that would fade to dismay about 10 minutes or so into the film that is……..

The movie opens up with the innocuous display of an alien mother ship hovering over Johannesburg in Africa. You are slowly but surely introduced to District 9, the area directly below the mother ship, in which the aliens (scientific definition) are treated and living like aliens (political definition). How did they get to District 9, and why aren’t they still in their ship? Well, half of that question isn’t ENTIRELY answered (only eluded to, at best!), but I’ll go ahead and fill you in on the absolute of those two inquiries. Scientists and the MNU (a ficticious organization in the movie that resembles a United Nations, but filled entirely with morons) determine that it is best to go ahead and drill a hole in the innocuous, floating ship. This takes place after “x” amount of days of the ship just appearing in Johannesburg and lifelessly hovering. At any rate, they drill holes into the ship and find, much to their surprise, aliens!! Driven by research and determination to find answers relating to hostility and advanced weaponry, the humans begin to shuttle the aliens down to District 9.

Fairly soon after being introduced to the intriguing premise of this movie, you are introduced to the sorriest ass excuse for a main character I have ever seen. His name is Wikus, and though director Blomkamp probably thought he was creating a revolutionary character, and he unintentionally did, but the wrong kind! Wikus is a nice enough guy, and can’t seem to get over himself after the new promotion bestowed in him from his boss and father in law. Wikus was appointed to a new position that headed the recently approved mass exodus of the aliens from District 9 to District 10. The move is largely due to the people of Johannesburg pushing for alienation of the…..aliens J

It doesn’t take long for a legitimate lover of science fiction to utterly detest Wikus. He is spineless, witless, and would get his ass kicked in a fight with McLovin’. Honestly, there are no redeeming qualities in this guy. The MNU decides it’s in their best interest to have Wikus and his crew begin to serve notices of eviction to the aliens. This really throws me into a loop, and never really gets fully explained in the movie. However, what you do find out is that most of the aliens are too stupid to argue, and end up signaling (or signing if they’re smart enough) their human given name. It was at this part of the movie I felt I was watching an episode of COPS. Wikus berates all his alien residences, and feels it necessary to display his community college level (if that) education level of authority given to him. I felt a STRONG correlation of racism and the events taking place in the movie. At any rate, eventually Wikus attempts to serve an alien who is vastly smarter (at least in the perception of a human). This particular alien has been chemically altering/collecting various substances the last 20 years to help fuel a ship that he has hidden underground, under his trailer home in District 9. Upon doing a completely unnecessary search, Wikus comes across the metal casing that contains this substance. He spills some, and winds up accidently ingesting some as it sprayed all over his face.

Slowly, but surely….Wikus begins to mutate into one of the aliens. After MNU essentially betrays him and decides to cut him up for research (a punishment condoned by the boss/step father), Wikus escapes the suddenly-not-so-secure MNU compound in fear of his life. He becomes determined to find a cure so he can return to his wife who is anything but trust worthy, and secretly helping MNU recover Wikus for the imperative research. Wikus somehow, someway, makes his escape all the way back to District 9, where he is reconnected with Cristopher, the alien whom owned the spread he found the vial in. After scatter brained dialogue, Cristopher informs Wikus he can help cure him on the mothership, but that they need the rest of the fluid that MNU confiscated. After completely debunking the idea they could break into MNU and get it back (Wikus goes on and on about how stupid an idea that is because the security is so top notch, etc etc), Wikus grows frustrated and leaves rudely. Eventually, he comes to terms with the fact it’s his only chance, so the duo makes way for the MNU compound. Though seemingly impossible to infiltrate, they have a few tricks up their sleeves. Wikus is now developed enough that one of his arms is completely alien, which means his alien hand can utilize the alien guns, which are far superior to the human made ones. In fact, the alien weapons are SO much better/efficient, it’s the main reason behind MNU wanting to make an anatomy project out of Wikus. The MNU wants to find out the exact secret that lets aliens use their weapons but not humans.

10 or so minutes later, Wikus and Cristopher have the vial and are heading back to District 9. Yes, that’s right. After wasting 40+ minutes of the movie after Wikus decides it would be utterly impossible to penetrate MNU’s defenses, it only takes 10-15 mins for them to do it and get back safely to District 9. Here is where the plot really thickens……or at least attempts to. They get back to Cristopher’s haven, and he begins to explain that it will take him 3 years to cure Wikus because he must first travel to his home planet to get help for the millions of his comrades being mistreated and stranded here on earth. Pissed beyond all recognition and blowing his only opportunity to show some spine and make a man out of himself, Wikus grows uncontrollably scared (like the little pussy he is!) and winds up knocking out Cristopher. After he does this, I immediately thought, “wow…..how the hell is he going to fly the ship now?”, but before I had a few minutes to come up with my own answer, Wikus had already grabbed the controls, fueled the ship, and was ready to rock and roll. He shows a little bit of reservation and hesitation once the ship is air born, but prior to that, you get the notion that his alien DNA contained the skills used to pilot the ship. He gets shot down, and the main action sequences for this movie begin to ensue. Cristopher wakes up and quickly realizes his son was still on the ship with Wikus. Devoted to being a model dad, Cristopher loses all recognition for his own life and risks it all to save his son and find the ship. He meets back up with Wikus during a crossfire, and only after Wikus’ back gets pushed to a wall does he finally agree to help Cristopher. In control of some alien weaponry, Wikus serves as a distraction for Cristopher, but before he can totally redeem himself, makes note that Cristopher needs to hurry before Wikus changes his mind. This is a typical self-sacrifice that we see in a lot of movies, but this time it was different because you know Wikus actually meant that when he said it. Most times when we are faced with this cinematic scenario it’s to shield the ego of the character making the sacrifice. At any rate, Wikus holds off long enough to let Cristopher escape, but before he does, he STILL promises Wikus to return in three years and help him.

In closing, save your money with this one, and wait for it to debut on Netflix. I have never been more pissed at how a potentially awesome movie could be ruined. The humans and aliens never speak the other races language, but they communicate quite fluidly. For example, an alien could speak to Wikus in alien, Wikus could then in turn respond in English, and both parties had a fairly good understanding of each other. Some aliens were clearly better than others, which begs the question, what sort of program was installed to help communication between the humans and aliens? If Wikus and Cristopher were able to acquire (through a faulty transaction with a boss mob) alien weapons and drastically alter the MNU perception of security, why wouldn’t all the aliens save up their caps to buy guns from the pirates at District 9 and reclaim their dignity? Well, the movie actually does a fairly good job of explaining how naturally peaceful the aliens are, but come on now……If they invented weapons, they at least meant for them to be used in extreme circumstances. Circumstances such as being extracted from your ship, forced to live in slums not suited for millionaires, then relocated to an even shittier living situation might require some push and shove. Who’s to say, though, that’s just my idea. Why did the all powerful MNU allow pirate scrubs to run illegal activities in District 9 with the aliens? Why didn’t the scientists explore the ship after they drilled a hole and “rescued” the aliens? Or, if they did explore it, what did they find, other than weapons? In fact, how the hell did they come up with the initial idea that they could just expect these aliens to bend over and take it like a former husband of a praying mantis? Why did that lightning looking from the mothership spawn a mech-warrior thingie? Why did that lightning only make ONE mech-warrior thingie? District 9 opens the door to an endless possibility of intriguing story developments, but either cuts them off out of left field or completely ignores them as the film progresses.  Rather than answer or explore any of their plethora of intriguing story/plot developments, they simply push them aside and CREATE NEW ONES…..I saw a better film depicting distant, faux like realities earlier this summer. Though not as good as critically acclaimed Terminator 2, Terminator Salvation beats District 9 at nearly everything. Yes, that’s even with Christian Bale’s batman voice screening over to John Conner in a super predictable plot/outcome movie.

Dear Mary June 22, 2009

Posted by Jay in professional sports, tennis.
2 comments

Normally, it is an extraordinary day when Wimbledon, The Championships begins. A day I have marked on my calendar. It is the tournament every tennis enthusiast yearns for. It is the tournament where the environment is unmatched by any other Slam, much less tournament. It is the tournament with the most legacy, prestige, and gamesmanship. A true testament to the meaning of “The Championships”. However, this Grand Slam (along with the others) is now tainted to me. It started as a small pebble rolling down a snow covered mountain, but has accumulated into a catastrophic ball of filth, horse shit, and disrespect. Dear Mary, you have effectively ruined 4 of my happiest times of the year. Grand Slams.

As a blogger, I am freely open to state my opinion(s) on issues that I feel are relatively important enough to digitally codify. In this case, I will exercise my concern for the brutality of professional tennis as we know it. The commentating of Mary Carillo is hurting the tennis world. As a tennis enthusiast, I am absolutely repulsed at how she has continued to effectively chip away at my love for professional tennis. At first, I just started to mute the TV and continue watching the matches. Eventually, though, you realize it’s just not the same to not hear the crack of the ball, the sound of the crowd, and the grunts of the competitors. All of these are essential to the professional match experience! The emotions run high, and the tension can be shared by experiencing these typical sounds of a match. I’ll tell you what I can do without, though. Mary Carillo. The world would honestly be a better place without her on the air waves. Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova, and the William’s Sisters agree. All of them refuse contact and interaction with Carillo.

Many of us are familiar with Mary’s style of commentating. When she’s not stirring up ridiculous theories on unrelated matters, she can be heard with her John Madden esque approach to the game. It’s often mind numbing. Knowing Carillo was a former professional herself, I used to figure she knew what she was saying and that as an amateur of sorts, I should listen and learn. Sweet sassy molassy, I don’t think I could have been further off. Have you heard this woman talk? I can’t decide if I’m watching an NTRP 2.0 grand prix finals match or a legitimate, professional match. Yes, Mary, if you are reading, you are THAT bad. In fact, it’s become relatively clear why you were never able to do anything noteworthy as a player in the sport, and as such, obviously feel compelled to leave your mark on the game as a bitter commentator. Apparently, you have forgotten what it’s like to be in the heat of a rally, game, set, match, and tournament. You wait for an error by one of the players to open the flood gates on the million things they could have done differently to “win” the point. Honestly Mary, it’s like when John Madden says the Cowboys should have went with the half-back sweep AFTER getting stuffed in the middle on 3rd and 1. Obvious, and stupid.

Yes, Mary, on top of your general stupidity, you are bitter, and it’s obvious to viewers. It’s sad that you had knee problems that essentially put an end to your run as a professional tennis player. Honestly, it is sad. Try and think about that moment when you cast your judgments on current professionals facing injuries, suggesting faking and the likes. Yes, the viewers are watching when Jankovic or Djokovic takes a break for a “cramp”, and whatever else. You don’t need to comment on how obvious it seems to you. You’re not the one playing in the 100+ degree heat against current professionals in the top 10. Bitch, please……You were never ranked higher than 33 in your three year career, and your highlight is winning a mixed doubles draw with JOHN MCENROE as your partner. You’re lucky you grew up with John, Mary, or you wouldn’t even have that claim to fame. Alona Bondarenko. Wait, what? Oh, that’s the current number 33 on the WTA. Enough said.

“I just wish players looked over the body of work, rather than one or two comments,” Carillo said. She continued with, “My job is to take the information I have and back it up with opinions. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. Criticism from players and coaches is just part of the business.” Well, she certainly had an opinion when Monica Seles was tragically stabbed in 1993, effectively ending her career as a professional tennis player for the next two years. Fact of the matter was, Monica was never the same on the court after this tragedy. The terror was too much for her, and after mustering up one last Grand Slam singles title, she retired. Carillo, though, had a different take on the situation. “Monica’s going to milk this sucker dry. Tennis is just a stepping-stone. Her real goal is being a star.” Apparently winning nine Grand Slam singles titles wasn’t enough for Monica to reach stardom, so she was forced to milk getting knifed in the back with a 10” blade for every piece of fame it was worth!

Let’s rewind to the US Open in 2007. In reference to Shahar Pe’er (Israel) winning her match, Mary Carillo was quoted saying, “The Jew won today.” Though she would correct herself later in the commentary, the damage had been done. When Don Imus called a bunch of Rutgers female hoopsters “nappy headed hos”, it didn’t matter how much he apologized. Why is Carillo still announcing for ESPN/NBC? My only train of logical thought is that tennis, obviously, doesn’t generate the viewing of other sports. It’s sad that many of you are probably unaware of these examples I’m pointing out. If Jeff Van Gundy(NBA analyst) had said anything like this, he would be gone with no questions asked. I would read/see it on the net, on PTI, and Sportscenter. Not just for a day, either, but for weeks upon weeks.

What exactly was the breaking point for me with you, Mary? Your disregard for manners and blatant display of disrespect to Roger Federer this morning was my melting point. Rather than focusing on how Roger could cement history with his 15th Grand Slam win at the same site he netted his first, you started right off with the crying at the end of last year’s finals, commonly referred to as the greatest match of all time by commentators who know a thing or two about the sport.

Some may claim that Mary simply makes such statements to stir the pot or get tennis talked about. This is essentially admitting Mary Carillo has sold her soul to make a dollar out of the sport who has made her who she is today. Fair trade, right? I think not, Mary. Quit making a mockery out of the sport who has given you the purse to pay your mortgage. Quit ripping on players who have accomplished things you can’t even dream about. Stop “stirring the pot” and trying to add persons to your already large hater list. You haven’t even won a TV commentator related award in like 20 years now. You’re pathetic, do the fans of tennis a favor and retire before you find a way to submerge below rock bottom. We got rid of Gimmelstob, and now it’s time to do away with you too.

Thoughts and Reflections on 2009 NBA Playoffs Thus Far May 11, 2009

Posted by Jay in professional sports.
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First things first, I’m so tired of stupid commentators and/or announcers. It’s seriously getting to the point where I often find myself muting the games. This isn’t just with the 2009 NBA Playoffs, but all sports as of late, even/especially tennis too. At any rate, that’s the subject for another blog. Let’s talk basketball.

Western Conference: Biggest news this week is that Yao Ming is having troubles with his left foot again, and will miss the remainder of the post season. You’d think this would be a good thing for the Los Angeles Lakers, but after yesterday’s game, apparently not! Phil Jackson said he wasn’t embarrassed and that people should give the Rockets some credit for coming up with a way to win the game, and that Aaron Brooks was sensational. FALSE. Jesus man, just say something that the rest of us who have been watching the Lakers all season long have noticed. YOUR DEFENSE IS PATHETIC. YOU WON’T BEAT LEBRON AND THE CAVS UNLESS YOU COMMIT TO DEFENSE. I’m honestly scared. The Lakers are superior in talent to ANY team in the NBA. Yes, that’s correct. If you disagree, well, you’re wrong! They have more depth and talent than any other team in the league, even over a healthy ball club from Boston (aka pretending Garnett is 100%). It is not uncommon for the Lakers to put in their entire secondary squad and make up points in a game even when facing the oppositions first string. However, this season has reminded me of a Laker team of the past. It wasn’t too long ago we saw Gary Payton, Karl Malone, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Lamar Odom all on the same team. It was the same team we saw the Detroit Pistons make a mockery out of in the NBA finals after the Lakers semi-struggled to get there. How did this happen? Defense……DEFENSE. It wasn’t until the last 8 minues of yesterday’s game the Lakers actually played something that closely resembles acceptable defense. That is, they would play defense all the way up until someone on the Rockets would pull up for a shot, but then forget about it. I’ve never seen so many guys retreat for cherry picking buckets and not crash the boards. Why? I have no idea. The Lakers DON’T need to run a fast paced game to win. They have the unparelleled triangle half-court offense which they can run out of three different guys and beat anyone. Instead, they push the ball, only to settle for some 18 footer that only Kobe should be taking, not guys like Luke Walton and Sasha Vujacic. Are the Lakers going to get to the finals? Yes. All these people harping the Rockets have a legitmate shot are living in a dream world, but reality is, this series should have been 4-0. The Lakers are that much better.

The Mavericks undoubtedly got screwed by the referees in game 3 of their set with the Nuggets. ESPN analysts are harping on how the foul should have been harder or more blatant, or that head coach Rick Carlisle should have told the refs he intends to use an intentional foul and to be on the look out for it. Ya, good idea…..Let’s have George Karl look at me walking over to have a discussion with the refs. Hmmmm….Whatever could he be talking about!? Not using their last team foul to give is it!? Unreal this is even suggested. Bottom line, the refs stole a HUGE game for the Mavs, and because of that, you can stick a fork in them, they’re done. The Nuggest have played exceptionally well all series long, I’m not trying to take anything from them, but this serious should be 2-1 and not 3-0. Dallas should have had a shot to even the series at home. It’s going to be really interesting to see how they react when game 4 rolls around.

Eastern Conference: Not much to discuss here. LeBron James, the man-child, is dominating. The Atlanta Hawks are proving last year was fluke, and that unless they can knock down 39%+ of their three point field goals, they are a joke of a team. I’m extremely disappointed in Superman Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic. Can Van Gundy get fired please? (actually, let’s fire them both so I don’t have to listen to his annoying brother commentate) I’m sick and tired of this highly talented squad losing. Some nights they play better than any team in the league. They have all the tools of a championship caliber team. Solid D, inside and outside offense, and the ability to score a lot of points in a relatively small window of time. How is it then they keep letting some slouch named Big Baby keep dropping 20+ points on them a game? Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are good, but they’re not Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, or LeBron James. Stop double teaming these guys, and play them like you would play Bryant/Wade/James. Play smash mouth, in your face defense, and keep them away from the rim and foul line. Yes, they will knock down some ridiculous jumpers in your face and make you wonder why you just hustled your ass off only to look silly, but you won’t open up the lane for inferior players to get easy lay ins time and time again. You will also reduce the offensive boards from guys like Davis. Doesn’t really matter at this point, the Cleveland LeBrons are going to the finals, and have a legitimate shot to win it. Boston has one thing going for them this post season, the clutchness. How many buzzer beaters are we going to see these guys drop? If Garnett comes back, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Celtics can upset the LeBrons. Especially since we all know they’d be getting a little extra help from the zebras.

Social Networking; Benefits, Negatives, Annoyances May 11, 2009

Posted by Jay in Uncategorized.
3 comments

 

a little piece of me dies everytime I see this logo

a little piece of me dies everytime I see this logo

 

 

The digital revolution has brought about many, many changes within our world. First, it was the extinction of manuscript letter writing and forever changed the ways of communication. Phone calls are also undoubtedly less common this day and age. Even your bills/bank statements are being handled online, electronically (well,  if you’re environmentally responsible and efficient they are!). It seems the last few years have begun the next biggest shift in modern communication. Email, which once eclipsed modern mail as we know it is beginning to take the back seat to social networking sites. Facebook and Myspace lead the pack in changing the way that people not only connect with current friends, but reconnect with friends of the old. Personally, I’m a Facebook type of guy. Simple enough, but has plenty of capability, and less spam/teeny boppers asking to be my friend. I can log on, check out what’s new with my friends, and share a couple funny links I have found throughout the day. I probably check my Facebook 10-15 times a day, and probably more than that if I’m at work and bored. My Blackberry makes sure to inform me anytime someone writes me on Facebook. I have a Myspace account too, but seldom use it. I pretty much only have it to keep in touch with my sister. My sister is a diehard Myspace addict and can’t deal with the hardships of not being able to customize a Facebook page with things like a Hello Kitty dressed up as a Stormtrooper. Ok, bad example, that’s actually pretty damn funny. However, most customizations of Myspace pages tend to down right annoy/piss me off! You’re not hardcore, you’re not a unique and individual little snowflake, and nobody cares that you are on your quest to “find yourself” or something else equally lame to being unemployed, uneducated, and socially worthless. To me, there is an obvious generation gap with these social networking sites. Myspace definitely seems the haven for 12-18 year olds,while  Facebook seems to dominate 18+. Both can be great tools if used properly for social networking, but both can tend to drive one insane and give new insights to “friends”.

Enter Twitter. What are you doing? A catchy little motto that grabs the attention of self consumed mongoloids who honestly think the rest of the social networking world give a shit about what they’re doing every time they take a few seconds to type one line and enlighten us. Tweet Tweet!! Alison is trying the new Herbal Essence! OK, OK….. Perhaps I’m being a little too harsh at ones enthusiasm for taking a shower and using some new shampoo (this is also a hypothetical situation, but those of you who “tweet” know this is entirely realistic, sadly). Actually, NO, I’m NOT! What good comes from this? Do I get to see a quick synopsis of how the new Herbal Essence was in the shower? Lots of bubbles, hardly any bubbles? Smell good, smell bad? Invigorating and refreshing feeling all around after using? It’s better than $1 Suave Ocean Breeze because……? No, I DON’T!!!! Let’s pretend I was actually interested in Alison’s endeavour with the Herbal Essence. I anxiously await her next Tweet, only to find out that I won’t be receiving convincing evidence that this new Herbal Essence is actually worth Tweeting about, but rather that she is now eating Captain Crunch reading the Newspaper!

Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace is a breeding ground for a few different classifications of annoying people, whom if it were up to me, would be digitally purged one by one. Joined by the common belief that they are all incredibly interesting and that everyone on their friend list can’t wait to see their newest link, quote, or status update, they have unknowingly looked foolish and silly. Well, at least to me. Let’s take a look as to why. 

Type A) The Narcissist: The vane absolutely love Twitter, or any social networking sites for that matter. They honestly believe their constant updates (likely exceeding 10 times a day) are not only interesting, but world changing. People better themselves if they are keeping up with the Narcissists tweets and status updates on social networking sites. This is undoubtedly silly, but the funniest part of this is it’s actually true. The Narcissist has some sort of learning disability that I think is currently unclassified. They struggle with relevant issues, and often have to make things up that sound good, but are completely bogus. This often works because the large consensus of people don’t know what’s going on with the world anyhow, and sheep syndrome sinks in. Some loud mouth with a social networking profile starts a fire of horse shit that quickly travels and somehow strengthens. Disagree with the narcissist and you face virtual expulsion. Actually, forget about disagreeing, simply THINK different from the narcissist, and you risk being called names such as “idiot”, “moron” or a myriad of other cool cut downs the narcissist probably had to Google to come up with. Narcissists often post quotes from songs (generally terrible ones at that) to express themselves, or something like that. Somehow, someway, these posts get responses. Don’t ask me how.

Type B) The Creeper: Anyone with any sort of social networking site has had an experience with The Creeper. My aunt, God bless her heart, recently joined the ranks of Facebook. Naturally, I add her, and we begin to joke back and forth much like I do with all of my other friends. One day she texts me about some dude that apparently tried to add her as a friend, but she has no idea who he is. She’s taken back and absolutely can’t believe this is happening!!! Who does that? Well, The Creeper does, and those of us that consider ourselves veterans of social networking aren’t the least bit surprised. This particular situation is an example of a hybrid of Type B) and Type C), which I’ll get to momentarily. The Creeper doesn’t have any REAL social skills, so it must rely on clever use of virtual stalking (or as one of my friends prefers to call it, “investigating”, sigh!) to catch certain perks of interest to start a conversation. The Creeper will randomly send private messages with off the wall, and often lude comments that they would NEVER say in a face to face conversation. That’s the sure fire way to know someone is The Creeper. Things said exclusively online but never in person are a great, exclusive trait of The Creeper. If only the narcissist would adopt that trait……… The Creeper can also be found leaving public messages that should generally be private. I’m talking serious stuff here. Break ups, deaths, and otherwise serious depressing stuff that should be left to private messages are generally exposed in an attempt to gather undying love and attention. I feel for these people, but enough to leave them a comment letting them know they’re my favorite person in the world and it will all be ok. If I did leave a comment, it would probably be overlooked. Why call your mother, spouse, or best friend when you can let the whole world know of your “misery” and receive countless amounts of seemingly worthless bouts of inspiration and comments from your friends and digital acquaintances. Advice from people you see in person three to four times a year somehow reigns supreme to The Creeper. 

Type C) Everybody’s “Friend”: This guy boasts the largest friend list you have ever seen. Awed and perhaps jealous at first, you begin to think how many of his “friends” are actually friends. Call me silly and outdated, but I don’t throw the term friend around to every human being I have a class with or come across. Bottom line is, Facebook and Myspace don’t have an “acquaintance” tab, or at least not that I know of. This however confuses Type C), as it spends a good portion of the day adding (mostly by semi-random selection of people who live within a 30 mile radius) people to their ranks. 

Type D) All of the Above: Need I say more!?

These people are destroying social networking. This incredible tool has so many positive uses, it’s depressing to see these types of people trying to exploit the true purpose behind social networking. Communication and, well, networking! Networking is such an invaluable tool to have at your fingertips. I can’t tell you how many times Facebook has saved my ass academically. Struck with the genetic (my mother is so forgetful/delusional it’s embarrassing at times) disorder of extreme forgetfulness, I have to write everything down that I need to do scholastically. Sometimes, on the rare day that I’m bored out of my mind in class, I get lazy like anyone else and just use acronyms or shortcuts to write down assignments. When it comes time to decipher this message and do the actual assignment, I’m dumbfounded and confused. A quick login to Facebook to message one of my classmates generally cures this. 

Unemployed? Surf your good friends Facebook pages and check out what they have listed for their current employment. Ask a bro to hook it up. In fact, just be attentive to your friends’ status updates and you might just see a direct link to apply for one! Need a new car? Roommate? Xbox360? I could go on and on of the incredible benefits to social networking.

Haven’t started social networking yet? Don’t worry, it’s NOT TOO LATE. Don’t feel like you’re too old, or anything else similarly ridiculous. Truth is, I guarantee you’ll be surprised to find how many of your old friends you can reconnect with. Just be careful of the people listed above, they do exist, and sadly, in mass quantities! Share your thoughts with others, reflect on thoughts from others, and above all….Have fun! Social networking can be very fun and entertaining, and even make someone’s day. On the 8th day, Al Gore created the internetz. Go forth and network, but be safe and mindful!

 

**disclaimer – this post is entirely opinionated based on observations and thoughts from the author. if you are reading this and are offended, please don’t digitally, or vitally purge yourself as previously suggested. however, please go outside and get some sunshine, something tells me you need it.

BNP Paribas Open 2009 – the experience, what I learned, and why I can’t wait to return March 30, 2009

Posted by Jay in professional sports, tennis.
2 comments

My last spring break as an undergraduate student couldn’t have been more exciting and memorable. My tennis family (mother, aunt) and I ventured to Indian Wells, CA to get up close and personal with the ATP and WTA’s finest. Oh, and yes, I say that knowing Serena and Venus reluctantly sat out yet again. 

We began our adventure the first Thursday of the tournament. Hoarding the practice courts, armed with my aunt’s new camera purchased from NASA, we began our quest for seeking out our favorite players. Like anyone else at the facility, we had high hopes for seeing our favorite players utilizing the fan friendly practice courts where you can literally see the sweat dripping off your favorite superstar. Personally, I hoped to catch Marat Safin and Roger the man himself Federer. I would eventually get both wishes, but in completely different ways. (to be explained…..) Some great shots were taken at these practice courts, and most of my memorable moments from the trip resided at the practice courts. Here’s a great shot of the eventual tournament champion, Rafael Nadal of Espana. Should you ever venture to this tournament, I highly recommend investing in a high quality camera and some decent sun screen.

Rafa Nadal warming up his serve

Rafa Nadal warming up his serve

 

 

 

Before I dive a little deeper into my favorite stalker (or investigating, as I prefer to call it) stories, let’s talk about the things I was looking for when watching the pros serenade the courts. Most people would comment on how hard the pros hit the ball and the sound it makes coming off their strings. I remember my trip to the Pacific Life Open way back in 2003 (I think Lleyton Hewett was the #1 seed, and rode his T-Rex to the facility……..) and hearing the shotgun esque sounds of big hitters like Marat Safin strike the ball. I was so amazed at that time at how hard the pros could really crush the ball and keep it in. This time, however, was different. I wasn’t impressed with how hard, or how much spin the pros put on every single ball they hit. I wasn’t impressed with the booming, precise serves. The thing that stuck with me this year was movement. It is absolutely phenomenal how well the pros move on the court. I couldn’t keep track of how many split steps took place during points. It’s no wonder why we saw so many pros playing soccer on a nearby grass field to relax and reinforce simultaneously.

Del Potro kicking the good ol' soccer ball around to relax and keep his feet active

Del Potro kicking the good ol' soccer ball around to relax and keep his feet active

 

 

Everyone hears from their local pro “don’t forget your split step” when you’re at the net volleying. The split step is often the focal point of such lessons, being it’s damn near impossible to hit decent volleys without being as balanced as humanly possible. However, lost in translation, this seems to be the lone focus of the split step. Gone are the days of footwork drills from the baseline, requiring a split step between each shadow stroke. Why is this? Is it too basic that we have forgotten?  “Basic” or not, sound footwork and a plethora of split steps helped Andy Murray scramble, and ultimately save a ridiculous amount of points in the matches of his that I watched. Going back to the basics and improving footwork has undoubtedly rejuvenated American slugger Andy Roddick’s career. Andy is exciting to watch again, and he doesn’t have to rely on hitting forehand winners to compete with the best players in the world anymore. Sure, his serve is always a helper, but let’s get honest here…….How does a guy go from getting consistently owned by a guy named Novak Djokovic to making him look silly as of late? Movement. Andy’s new focus on fitness and footwork doesn’t only allow him to get to balls he wasn’t previously able to get to, but allows him to better set up for offensive shots instead of defensive. It helps him dictate points and stay in control.

Back to more of a leisure focus of the trip, we did in fact catch the Safinator on a practice court (in this instance I am referring to Marat, not Dinara, who can now draw an equal comparison to a Terminator as well….) While i was shocked and ecstatic to be able to hear one of my favorite players of all time converse with his hitting partner, my mother and aunt were busy plotting how to best get closest to Marat when his practice court time was up. Though they guessed wrong on his exit plans, that didn’t stop them. What ensued next will forever stick with me….My middle aged mother trudging through the crowd of countless females to touch Marat Safin was priceless. The best part of this story is that she did in fact make contact with Marat, sweat and all. I couldn’t help but laugh and salute to a job well done. Stalking or investigating? You be the judge 🙂 Either way the accomplished smile on my mother’s face was worth more than the $300 steak dinner that I’m about to discuss with you.

dsc_0279

My aunt is no slouch when it comes to sharing her wealth. She works hard to play hard. I’m not sure a $300 dollar dinner for four is defined under playing hard, but for the sake of time and starting an entirely different blog topic, let’s all agree that it does! It was decided that on our last night at Indian Wells we would dine somewhere finer than Subway. Some lady sitting in front of us during one of the matches in the later afternoon eaves dropped (errr, I mean overheard) us discussing potential candidates for our special dinner. My aunt on her Iphone, me on my Blackberry, we began to utilize the phenomenon known as the internet for our search. Luckily for us, the previously mentioned over curious woman interjected with suggesting we dine at Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Apparently the Food Network won’t be contacting me for commentary anytime soon, as I was the only one who hadn’t heard of this glorious meat house. Despite constant attempts for discourse, my aunt insisted, and so it was decided. Luckily, the steak house wasn’t too far from the courts, because we were all pretty hungry after watching Roger take longer than he should have to expel some guy I can’t even remember.  dsc_0502

 

Upon arrival to Ruth’s Chris, I had to decide which $50 plate of food I thought would best be worth the experience. I eventually decided on some form of stuffed chicken, which for the record, was quite glorious. I also enjoyed the best gin and tonic I’ve ever had in my life, and that was with the well gin. My mother ventured into a couple top shelf martinis, which always taste filthy to me, but were quite good to her. At any rate, none of this matters. The $300 tab doesn’t matter. The countless jokes and conversations between me, my mom, aunt, and step-dad doesn’t matter. Sitting adjacent to Roger Federer is what matters in this story, my good friends.

Now, I am only 24 years old and don’t claim to have been faced with an ungodly amount of stress or mental torture, but I swear on my life I formed at least 3 more gray hairs in the next five minutes. We began to discuss how to treat this situation. My aunt is basically in love with Roger. If she had any mace that evening, I am fairly certain Mirka would have got a squirt or two to the eye while my aunt confessed her undying love and support for the Swiss Genius. At any rate, the sports fan inside of me took over. I regret to inform all of you I tried my best to explain why we should let him be, and at most, wish him the best of luck on our way out. Fortunately or unfortunately (I still have nightmares about this 5 minutes), that is the route we took. Why didn’t I ask him for a fast picture or signature? Why didn’t we buy him a drink? Why didn’t we ask our waiter to check if it was ok to say, “hello”? These questions haunt me to this very day. My favorite tennis player of all time, my aunt’s perennial idol, and undeniably the greatest to ever play the game sat right next to me and I couldn’t muster the courage to ask for a simple photograph. I tried to put myself in Roger’s shoes. He just won a long match and was trying to enjoy dinner with his unborn child’s mother and immediate family. Did he really want to deal with what he had to all day long at Indian Wells? Would one more inquiry kill him?  We said, “good luck, Roger!!” on our way out, and he acknowledged us with a forced smile and a nod. At first this saddened me, but I’m fairly certain he just wanted to keep his presence in the place low key. I really don’t think anyone else in the restaurant knew he was there. Hell, it took us the better part of an hour to realize he was sitting at the table next to us. He was well hidden at his table of ten or so. At any rate, I’ll never know whether or not he would have humored us for a quick picture.

The only bad thing about this vacation was knowing it was time to leave. To help cope, we began strategizing and discussing how we would do it the next year. Staying a few extra days was definitely at the top of the agenda, and closely behind was upgrading our seats in the stadium court. Though we got some terrific shots from the upper section, it would be nice to sit a bit closer. So the countdown for BNP Paribas Open 2010 begins……….As soon as the schedule of play is released, let me tell you who’s reserving a table at Ruth’s Chris about 40 mintues after Federer’s first round match 🙂

Tennis – The game, the legend, the life……. March 7, 2009

Posted by Jay in tennis.
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This may come off a little bit harsh, but truth be told, I enjoy tennis much more than I do interacting with probably 70+% of the people who will read this. WHAT!? “JAY, YOU ASSHOLE!!” Yeah, yeah, yeah….At least I’m telling the truth! After reading this post, perhaps you can try to win back my love and favortism by taking on some of the qualities of a seemingly silly game called tennis 🙂 Nevertheless, let’s be honest here. How many of you really think you can give me the same feeling that a down the line backhand winner on match point in a third set super tiebreak can!?

Nearly every Wednesday at around 9:30pm I hear the same variation of a ridiculously lame sentence. “Wow, you seriously come down here from Flagstaff every week just to play in this league?” – YES, I do….. That’s right, I put more milage on my car going to play tennis than I do visiting friends or family. I trade the opportunity to make money at work for losing money on gas, court fees, and the occasional dinner. I avidly await every Wednesday where I get to escape the harsh realm of independent college student reality. School, work, social frustration, and family distortions all take a back seat when Wednesday rolls around. In fact, class is the most enjoyable for me on that day. Nobody can ruin my day on Wednesday. I don’t care if you’re calling me to cancel plans that we made weeks in advance, I couldn’t care less. The thought of playing tennis in a meaningful setting (in this particular example, USTA league play) consumes me. I can’t wait to execute what I’ve been playing through my mind all week. I can’t wait to see the answers to the questions I’ve been asking myself all week. “How can we set our lineup to give us our best shot of winning this thing? If my primary strategy isn’t working, how many backup plans do I have ready? How will I pick my teammates up if one of them is losing confidence, or feeling down?” I can’t wait for the exhilaration of hitting solid shots point in and out and seeing practice and hard work pay off. Or, if the solid shots aren’t exactly rolling with consistency that particular night, tapping into my newly found mental toughness to make up for what my strokes are lacking. Is this worth dedicating one night a week to? You bet. Sad as it may or may not seem, I’d actually be making this trip twice a week if I didn’t have Tuesday and Thursday evening classes, as I’d participate in another league on Tuesday nights!

You see, tennis is more than a game. It’s more than enjoying the outdoors and getting exercise. It’s more than anything I can write in this blog. It’s a yearning. It’s a desire. It’s a passion. 

Tennis has helped me create and maintain friendships with some of the most unbelievable people in my life. I have so many fond memories of growing up as a junior in small town Prescott, AZ and waiting for school to end so I could hit the courts with my buddies. Summers as a junior were unparalleled. Everyday consisted of us hitching a ride with our folks to the courts, somewhere between 8 and 9 am. Each day we would play tennis. Even if we weren’t playing tennis, we were still at Roughrider Tennis Center. We used to just sit around and hope good players would drop by and randomly want to play some doubles with us, or possibly rotating singles. Though this seldom happened, we found other things to fill the time of our youth. Though many of these were seemingly meaningless fillers of time, they did in fact strengthen and reinforce one of the most valuable assets in life. Friendship. True friendship at that. I’d even dare to say myself and my tennis comrades (primarily consisting of Nick Cristea, Lander Sims, and Dan Oliver) transcended friendship and have redefined it of sorts. I will forever be in debt to tennis for the friends it has given me. (it is important to note that Nick and I were good friends prior to tennis consuming my life) These friendships were fostered and housed by a tennis center.

Life lessons are easily conveyed through tennis. In fact, I can say with the utmost certainty that ANY lesson in life you deem to be valuable can be learned on a tennis court. Even those of the most intimate, private lessons! Considering trading your steady relationship for a one night stand? We all know what kind of results that would yield! This same lesson can be learned when demoing one of the new “top of the line” tennis frames. Immediately you will be mesmerized, hypnotized  even. The new cosmetics are SO gorgeous…..So much more shiny and polished from your old faithfuls. Not a scratch to be found. Reluctant at first, you eventually get the courage to grab the new stick by the handle and give it a test drive. Cool, comfortable, exciting. The first three balls you strike feel unmatched. You are in love for a half hour hit session. The last thing on your mind are the countless trophies, titles, ranking points, and man cards your old faithfuls have won for you. You easily forget what they have done of your in the past and how they have always been there. You decide to pretend none of the positives ever happened and splurge on a couple of the new, dreamy racquets. Sure, at first, things are fantastic. You keep that awe struck mood with your new babies for the better part of a month, maybe two if you’re really good at believing your own lies. Eventually, you come to a big match. A familiar stage. A setting in which you live for, strive for. You love the pressure, and you always prevail. It is completely and entirely comfortable for you. Or is it? This particular afternoon, something is different. That lucky scrape on the throat of your racquet isn’t there to help comfort you while waiting to return a serve. You can’t glance down and say with confidence, “Look, we’ve been here done this. One more time, baby.” Even if just for a moment, you panic. In this moment, as a true tennis player knows, you have lost the battle. It doesn’t take long after shaking hands at the net to realize what a huge mistake you have made. Sometimes you have to lose something before you realize it’s truly gone.

There is nothing else in life I have ever done that can teach me so much about myself. Tennis holistically boasts the best and worst character traits of me. The ultra competitive, never give up athlete in me is completely exposed and utilized. My quick thinking and problem solving skills are better put to use in an intense tennis match than a tough mathematics problem. On the converse, the perfectionist and overanalytical side of me hurts me more often than not. Like in most real life situations, I need to learn how to trust my instincts and take more risks. I’m very protective and stubborn, both on the court and off. If I come into a match with a gameplan, I’ll be damned if I don’t execute it! It’s not uncommon for me to lose a whole set trying to make that strategy work, even though it should be fairly obvious I need a new gameplan. Similarly, I’m not exactly known among my friends to give up on an idea or opinion. Though I think I’ve come a long way with that, there is still plenty of work to be done on that front! Undoubtedly, I am a better person in part due to tennis.

I am lucky to have been exposed to some of the most incredible tennis programmers in the Southwest Section. Chris Howard (Roughrider Tennis Center/Prescott Racquet Club) and the Prudhomme family (Paseo Racquet Center) are the pinnacle of this. Though completely different in operation and even teaching styles, they both understand their responsibility to their customers, regulars, and community. Whatever it takes to help promote and grow tennis, it gets done. Whether it’s raising funds and resurfacing courts (and by resurfacing, I mean just that. I do NOT mean hiring some company to do it for you), revamping a D2 tennis program, or giving scholarships to talented and aspiring juniors who can’t afford the financial strain of being a tennis player, Howard and the Prudhommes have taught me it’s not all about business, but about accountibility and responsibility. Being personable, reachable, and desirable help make these two programmers very successful.

In closing, it is important to note that like life, tennis is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get on the other side of the net. Pusher, hacker, counter-puncher, baseline basher, serve and volleyer, etc.etc. You must learn to deal with each of these playing styles, much like you must learn to deal with the various personalities of peers and coworkers. You don’t get to choose your coworkers, and you most certainly don’t get to choose your opponents in competitive play! A little patience can go a long way with both of these issues. Stay calm, don’t overreact, and keep yourself together (or at least do a great job of pretending to do so!) and things will work out.

Go play tennis. Go live your life.



to the faithful few March 6, 2009

Posted by Jay in Uncategorized.
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been super, super busy with school and work this semester. full time school and full time work (not including practicum hours) is draining me away. however, that is no excuse to not write, so you can count on that changing. my website will GNTEE be done and running come spring break. thank you jesus, for all of your glory.

News Bias – How it has shifted, and how it helped a man win the “most important” election of our time November 11, 2008

Posted by Jay in political issues.
2 comments

Where We Were…

It was the election in November of the year 2000 when delegates George W. Bush and Al Gore squared off for their shot at political peak, the chance to reign as the President of the United States of America. A lot of commotion was stirred up during this election. In Arizona, many of us were steamed that Bush had used incredibly low and cheap tactics to oust Senator John McCain’s chances of winning the Republican primary. Though Bush had much stronger funding, McCain won the first state to vote on the primaries (New Hampshire if I recall correctly) and began to pick up more followers. McCain had transformed from a dark horse to a contender. However, sensing a strong upheaval from the McCain group, the Bush campaign decided to cheat. They relied on spreading a viral infection of misleading information to help Bush win the hearts of the hardcore conservatives. Lies were spread that McCain had unprotected sex with an African American and had a child outside of wedlock. Clearly, the conservative faithful (no pun intended!) could not vote for such a man. The truth of the matter was, McCain and his wife adopted the child.

            After winning the GOP ticket, President-to-be-Bush began using the biased media to help him with his victory over challenger and current Vice President Al Gore. This time, unlike with McCain, Bush would need to rely on the right wing bias to help him. After all, Gore would complete the election with 500,000 more popular votes than the former Texas governor. After bogus reports, commercials, and a Supreme Court ruling, George W. Bush was inaugurated as the 43rd president of the United States.

I remember being formally instructed about bias in the media; how at this particular time, it was skewed to the right on the political spectrum. It’s not like the media bias wasn’t something on my mind before learning about it in class; however, I used to have a hard time believing that it had an actual impact. “How many people could possibly think that’s true?” Such statements seemed to come to my mind if I detected some evident bias, or flat out incorrect information after I would watch something on T.V. or read an article online Fact of the matter is, at this particular time in the year 2000, the right wing bias, along with an eventual decision from the Supreme Court, helped Bush begin his reign of terror (again, no pun intended!) for two terms. Don’t even get me started on the race against Kerry in 04!

 

Where We’re At…

Thankfully, dark eventually must turn to light. Thank goodness for the good ol’ 22nd amendment. In 2008 we had two candidates who didn’t have the last name “Bush” running for presidency. This time, the bias in the media would play a much different role to the one we were used to seeing in the previous two elections. Putting on the cloak of Socialism and provoking the laziness that supposedly lost the previous two elections, the liberal left launched an attack on McCain that he would not be able to recover from. Focusing on nearly anything BUT the real issues at hand, the liberals found a way to dissect the McCain campaign, and things definitely got worse once Sarah Palin was announced as the running mate. Whether it was discussing her pregnant daughter, or her hacked email account, the discussion revolving around Palin was hardly relevant. Those of you who thought Bill Clinton should have burned at the stake for lying about his personal sex life should probably stop reading now. I am not trying to “reach” to that mind set so to speak. I’m trying to appeal to those who feel such things are most certainly irrelevant.

 

“Change”

This was the motto used by the Obama campaign to help invigorate the hopeful voters. Change was undoubtedly needed, in a big way. More than ever before, voter registration went through the ceiling and people began to think positively in this country. Harsh times were clearly upon us, but light was finally being seen at the end of the tunnel. Obama used his superior education to dominate the debates to the average spectator. No need to even discuss or dissect the vice president debates. Palin, with all due respect, it’s time to invest some time and money into your debating skills 🙂 However, Obama found a way to appeal to the youth of America like I believe no other candidate has been able to do. Change. He found a way to relate, and to bring out more young voters than ever before. He claimed to come from virtually nothing, and captured the heart of America because of this mass appeal. Typical visits to any of my favorite political websites would come up with at least 10+ stories of biased information leading towards the notion of you absolutely must vote for Obama unless you want another 4 years like those of President Bush. The liberals did a good job of linking the previous, disastrous eight years with what would come if McCain was to be elected. Much like the Ipod phenomenon, the trend of Change and Obamaness spread through colleges like wildfire. Many of the Obama faithful would go so far as to attack the intelligence and well being of the few McCain supporters.

Unfortunately, taking a closer look at the facts (which require more than a Google or Wikipedia search, mind you!), this assumed linking of McCain to Bush is simply as far from the truth as Obama being a Muslim terrorist. Funny thing is, the limited negatives that surfaced about Obama were all quickly buried by this virtual bias storm the liberals had created. Internet blogging and social media sites played a crucial role in this election, arguably more so than ever before. Information (and I use that term very loosely) was easy to access for anyone who had a computer and the Internet. Many people would link to favorite articles (which were more often than not founded on opinions, not fact) and through the phenomenon of Internet networking, stories of the smallest or greatest magnitude would spread like wildfire within minutes. Thousands of hits could be generated from a simple opinion within an hour, sometimes even less. The strangest and most ironic thing about this social stratification was the idea that such people were helping the cause, effecting the Change. In reality and most cases, they were unknowingly spreading false information and plagued opinions filled with malice.

Through all this plethora of easy to access information, people began to forget about the importance of checking sources and fact checking. However, that can be tough to do when your favorite sites are using subliminal messaging to reach you. Throughout this election, even sites such as factcheck showed clear signs of bias. The election of 2008 was steamrolling with Obama being the overwhelming favorite. When the Redskins lost on Monday night football, it was all but certain Obama would win (just kidding, kind of. Kudos to sports enthusiasts who know what I’m referring to!).

Change. From the same groups fueled by dedication to correct, RELEVANT, and concise information was an incredible amount of just the opposite. Incorrect, irrelevant, and cluttered strands of articles and interviews were spread out with the intention of destroying the McCain campaign. Even by the time the McCain campaign recognized what was happening and tried to counter with equally cheap tricks, the snowball of the Obama following was too large, and simply crushed any efforts of countering. Many will argue these are the typical events that are insured during a political election year; It has been accepted as the nature of politics. Why is this? Why can’t we CHANGE that? Who wants to hear about personal problems in a candidate’s private life? Who really cares about bogus conspiracies and generalizations? Obviously not the Obama faithful, or they may have taken a closer look at his connections to his politcal fame. They would have researched how he obtained funding for college (pretty tough for a single mom to pay for that sort of schooling, even with some affirmative action helping you!). They would have been perplexed that Barack Hussein Obama was running for president, and not Barry Obama. Obama made race an issue in this election, and he played the card very well. I’m ecstatic that the ghosts of America are finally being put to rest. We have a black president, but I wish he could have accomplished that without some of the crutches he called upon to do so.

 

Where We’re Going…

For me, this election was choosing the lesser of two evils. Neither candidate had been able to captivate me or really fire me up. In fact, I thought both to be fairly inferior choices to other democratic primary nominees. That being said, it is getting really old reading all the “Yes We Did!” articles and updates to social networking sites. What exactly did YOU do? This may shock some of you, but higher voting turn out does NOT equate to a higher democratic favor like the media portrayed. Though there are a few scholars who have tried to show there is a direct relationship between Democratic support and high voter turnouts, it’s simply not true. Typically, most of the data used and collected for this generalization is gathered from congressional districts. This means that studies relating to electoral districts are fairly non-existent.

What are the odds on cleaning up the media and news titans? For the great “change” coming with our newly elected president, I think many citizens are forgetting that simply going out and voting isn’t going to change a damn thing. It’s going to take work on the individual level. Stop harping about calling people in the battleground states, going door to door, and putting in volunteer time to help elect your favorite candidate. It doesn’t mean anything; it hasn’t contributed to the change that Obama represents. The real work begins now. Whether or not you voted for McCain or Obama, it is time to recognize there is a severe problem with news information and bias in our media. We can combat it on an individual level by dedicating ourselves to research and trying our best to let the topics be the topics, and letting everything else that’s not a topic not weigh in as much as it has. Obviously, opinions (and particularly political ones) are essential for positive growth and feedback. However, opinions need to be stated as such, and not skewed to look like factual information.

I for one am tired of letting the media decide who will run the country. Let’s take it back, and let’s do it now on the turn of a new page in America. Let us support our newly elected officials, and work together for a better America. Like Senator McCain said when he conceded, “above all else, I am an American”. Let’s make Change that really matters and improves the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness for everyone.

 

**special thank you to Jennifer Wermes, Instructor of English for helping with some extreme editing so you can all read this without having your eyes bleed :)**

Selig, MLB delay World Series Game 5 – Did it Hurt or Help the Phillies? October 29, 2008

Posted by Jay in professional sports.
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The Phillies of Philadelphia nearly had their storybook ending this last Monday. Boasting a 3-1 series lead over the AL Fairytale Tampa Bay Rays, the Phillies had the Rays exactly where they wanted them. At home, and with the best pitcher on either team starting in Cole Hamels. For those of you unfamiliar with MLB rules and regulations, if a game cannot be played due to weather and it is the 5th inning or later, the game ends with the current score. Suspicion was rising in game 5 of the World Series when Mother Nature did the inevitable and began to dump in Philly. Hamels was throwing a gem, and carried a 2-1 lead into the 6th inning when the Rays began their brief run. Upton scored from first after a blooping single from Carlos Pena. Once Hamels got out of the inning, the game was called due to the weather.

 

After the game, many Phillies fans became quite vocal on their opinions on making Hamels pitch through that last inning where the Rays were able to tie the game. Fact of the matter is the Phillies are still in very good shape. They get a day and a half break to quash all the momentum the Rays worked to build, and are actually in a semi-favorable position once the game resumes. Hamels will likely be stripped of his pitching duties, being due to bat once the game resumes. The Phillies will likely pinch hit, and turn the ball over to their bullpen that has been stellar all series long. Being they have a shot of closing the series out, and the fact Brad Lidge hasn’t pitched in what seems like a decade, they can count on him going 2 innings if needed. I have no idea how the reasoning behind the complaining that’s surfaced from some of the Philly fans is warranted. To me, the rain delay helped more than it hurt. There is no why you can hypothetically say that Hamels would not have given up the tying run in better weather, and that he shouldn’t have been subjected to that last inning.

 

I’d love to hear thoughts from both sides of the argument, and am looking forward to the conclusion of game 5 (and possibly the season) Wednesday evening.