Thursday, April 13, 2006

Travel Day

Nowadays, "Travel Day" usually means a trip to the airport. But for me and mine, Travel Day means a drive across Nevada. It is time for our annual Easter trip to Carson City and to Nan's- my wife's grandmother.

I actually enjoy the drive. I have spent my entire life somewhere along I-80, or somewhere close to it. California, Nevada and Utah. In fact, It's hard to imagine life where I wasn't near I-80 or it not being a part of my life.

The stretch of I-80 that runs through Nevada, I know real well. I have traveled between Utah and California many, many times. As a child, as a single adult, and now as the head of a family. It's as interesting as any drive I could imagine and I always enjoy it.

Most people would only see miles of sage brush and an occasional town fly by. I know every stretch of that road and the drive is like seeing old friends again. Some sights are just nice to see, some hold memories- places we broke down, towns where we stopped and had lunch, animals we have seen, or places where family members threw up. It's all good, some better than others.

I am looking forward to the trip and revisiting all these places, all those memories, and wondering if any new ones await today. I'm really hoping they're animal sightings!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Irony of Attitude

This last winter during the Olympics, there were two instances where attitude stood in the way of winning Gold, one was praised, the other was vilified. What was the difference?

In one event, an event I even commented on in a previous blog entry, Kelly Clark was on course for a gold medal in the Women's Half Pipe, the announcer even commented she had won the Gold and then she went for one more trick, one more "air". She didn't land it cleanly, her butt hit the snow and the gold was gone. Forget the fact that she was clearly the best, she was clearly getting the most air, and could clearly even challenge the men; she lost the gold to an inferior competitor. The announcers felt bad for her but praised her for "going all out". "She had done enough to win the gold, but just had to put one more punch to seal the deal."

In the Board Cross event, Lindsey Jacobellis tried doing an air move on the last bump, lost control and fell. She was clearly in the lead, clearly the best, clearly the winner, yet the fall allowed the second place woman to slip by and edge her out at the finish line. The sports world chewed her up on side and down the other for "hot dogging". "How could she have been so foolish and so willing to give up the gold?"

What was the difference? In my opinion not much, except one thing. In the first case, gold was not assured, it was assumed. Half Pipe is still a judged event. To hold back thinking you have won could, in and of itself, cost you a gold metal. You are in the process of analyzing your next move, not points. You have to go all out- win or loose because you don't really know if you are winning or loosing.

In the second event- the board cross is a race. The first one across the line wins, period. If you're in front- you win. If you're in front and let someone pass you- you loose. Lindsey had already done enough to win. To simply finish first was not a let down, but an expectation.

Bottom line- I like both these girls' style, I love their attitude! They were willing to just do their thing. A nice board grab before the last slope to the finish line would have been cool, and to land that last air would have been awesome. Neither one worked out and neither woman is identified as 2006 Gold Medalists. Regardless, they both had great memorable events and I enjoyed them thoroughly.

It was just a great lesson that sometimes attitude gets in the way of winning a battle here and there- sometimes even big battles. But having a winning attitude is what puts you in position of being part of the battle! In the long run, it IS what matters and in the long run it IS what defines the true winners.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Church of Baseball

I may not be one of those nuts who can spew endless streams of stats and "little known facts: about the game, but I love baseball. There are many reasons why, and I am sure I'll spend time spewing about each one of them, but not this morning.

I don't have cable, satellite or even high speed internet- so I don't get to watch but a couple of games a year. But I "watch" the games on "Gameday", a silly presentation of stats basically. It goes from pitch to pitch and sometimes has long gaps between events. It's all done over the modem line so there are some times when nothing happens at all- and you find out you lost your connection. But I watch. I am fascinated. Sometimes, I am obsessed.

There 162 games in a season. Plenty of time to recover from losses, move on from big victories, and/or recover form injuries. No team goes completely winless. Any game there is a chance of winning- a chance for hope to be real. A chance to cheer and feel happy. With in any game, someone did well at some point. No one goes hitless. No team goes scoreless...for too many games in a row anyway.

I return again and again for six months to see who won, who did well, and who stepped up to a challenge. I live the game in my mind- turning the written word into images in my mind. I imagine many of the faces, the emotions, and the thoughts. Always looking and dreaming of the stories between the stat lines.

I don't do a lot of church these days. I think of God a lot and I like to read his stat book. I imagine the stories between the lines. What were those stories really like? What s the underlying lesson in each verse? What were the characters really thinking? A well done movie is nice, but it never equals my own imagination.

I miss going to church sometimes. I miss having conversations about church things. But church has failed me, at least in the building sense. I'll stick to my scriptures and my prayers for now. And for the next six months, I'll be also studying and learning from the stream of stats playing themselves out through my 56K stadium.

That should be enough religion for now. And for now, as Annie of Bull Durham would say, the only church that serves day in and day out is, the Church of Baseball.