What An Opportunity

Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

A track and a train.

In Life on October 28, 2012 at 7:26 pm

 

Howl howl gaff gaff

It’s always easier to say after the moment has passed

Easier to do after the instant is through,

For it was you, always you.

 

Howl howl gaff gaff

The jostle of the mechanical beast on its path

The irreversible triumph of technology’s wrath

Taking on all the wishes of that child as he holds close to his mother’s waist

 

Howl howl gaff gaff

Staring out the window as these memories fly by,

Monumental events blur into a single image that is the reflection

What? How? Why?

 

Howl howl gaff gaff

Can’t tell you where the train is going

Yet the destination seems as familiar as it is arcane

That place beyond the light where there are no tracks

 

And my heart beats faster than safe, faster than the train in my mind.

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Burn.

In Life on October 18, 2012 at 5:42 pm

*buzz*

The pager goes off again.

He rolls out of bed and rubs his eyes in disbelief at the time.

The subtle hint of gasoline disseminates around the small apartment as he climbs into the shower.

His body operates on auto-pilot as his mind tries to wake.

 

“You look dead”, remarks Johnson as he gets out of his car at the station.

“You getting any sleep?”

He continues on in auto-pilot.

“Suit yourself. Coff…oh wait, you don’t drink coffee, right?”

He shakes his head as his mind comes to.

 

“Hey everyone, gather ’round,” the captain calls as the other firefighters file in.

“Everyone’s here? Ok. Here we go. Got a house fire downtown. 5th one in the past six months. Same M.O. Been empty for years and then up in flames.  Good luck and Godspeed. Move out”

He sits inside the truck as the vehicle whines and weaves through the city streets. The streets lights blur and spin as his head catches up to the moment. The rush of adrenaline hits his bloodstream. So alive. Ready.

 

That’s when he feels the heat.

The house is consumed in flame. The incandescence is felt all the way down the street.

“Let’s move fast. Contain this thing.” Johnson yells as everyone moves.

Everything is a blur as the moment envelopes him.

 

His body moves while he sees everything in slow-motion.

His hands grab a hose and point it towards the fire. His feet shuffle to gain the right trajectory. Eyes peeling left to right to keep people at bay and see the family of fighters working together.

But his mind…his mind hearkens back to earlier that evening. Before the new day had begun in which he found himself.

 

He knew no one in this area wanted to report a stranger in an empty house.

This was the last time. Absolutely the last time. And as he walked out of the structure, an orange flame held to a corner of the 1st floor bedroom.

It didn’t take to long after that. He stood a little ways down the street and watched it in admiration. A small grin found its way to his face as the flames danced. The wood would cave under the immense burden. Such beauty.

 

He snaps back to the present and everything is under control.

A win for the family.

And as they all venture back to the station, a supposed truth is buried deep in his tired mind. Under the stress, fear, loneliness, and regret is one beautiful lie:

I am doing the right thing.

Three subtle ways to fight the beginning-of-the-semester health battle

In Life on October 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I worked hard to make this progress this summer, but with the fall comes fall semester, and that poses a whole new challenge.

The beginning of a new semester is the devil for college students in the eternal battle to live a healthy lifestyle. It’s easy to gain 10 or 15 pounds and lose the six-pack you worked for all summer. I’ve been there, and I was on my way again in September until I caught myself.

You’re busy getting back into the swing of things – teachers are already assigning ridiculous amounts of homework, you may have a new, stressful job, and your friends want to go out and drink almost every night of the week. Just one week off – one week of ‘I can skip this workout and order a pizza because I have a Spanish test, NBD’ – could lead to a semester of apathy. When you look in the mirror in December, you might be disgusted by how you got so out of shape so quickly. Picture the rolls! If that doesn’t get you motivated, nothing will.

I’m a realist; I know your workouts and eating habits during the semester will probably never be as strong as they are over the summer, when you have a lot more free time. Everyone knows the two pillars (diet and exercise) of staying in shape, but here are some less noticeable ways you can keep your body looking sharp:

1. Pack a lunch – It might look lame to brown bag it, but your eating habits are going to suffer if you’re heading off to class or work for the day and you don’t plan ahead. Trust me: You’ll look lamer if you come home from Christmas break looking like a blimp. Try packing a bunch of fruit (plums and peaches are great this time of year, and bananas and clementines are awesome year-round), a water bottle and a couple sandwiches (my go-to lately has been almond butter and sliced banana on wheat bread).

2. Walk for 10 minutes after your workout – Of course this one is contingent on you actually exercising beforehand, but if you find time for a workout, be sure to walk around your block (or on the treadmill) afterward. You can burn 33 percent more calories during a workout if you walk (or ride a bike, just do light cardio) immediately after you finish the exercise regimen, according to 6weeksixpack.com.

I don’t recommend doing more than 10-15 minutes because then it starts to feel like a second workout. I think dreading one workout a day is enough.

3. Sleep! – College students are known to have crazy sleeping habits, but getting eight hours a night is essential if you want to stay in shape. According to health.com: “Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat – 56 percent of their weight loss – than those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass.”

Sleep can make you a better athlete, too. According to the same website: “A Stanford University study found that college football players who tried to sleep at least 10 hours a night for seven to eight weeks improved their average sprint time and had less daytime fatigue and more stamina.” If you’re tired every day, you’re not going to have motivation to work out. It’s as simple as that.

Don’t be apathetic this fall! You’ll regret it in the summer.

A Purist Opposes Collegiate Sports Gambling and Its Coverage in the Media.

In Sports on October 14, 2012 at 11:53 pm

“Ladies and gentlemen, I sincerely hope that our discussion will answer your questions on tonight’s debate topic, and cause you to rethink your perspective on the media, gambling, and collegiate athletics as a whole. Please know that my goal is not to tell you how to think, or to dictate your opinions on this subject; on the contrary, I will simply endeavor to build a case that compels you to form your own firmly held stance.”

“Let me begin by asserting something that I hope we can all agree on. In their own primal, unique way, sports are extremely beautiful. I see an allure in athletic competition that transcends even the performing arts, and the reason is simple; the unscripted nature of sports is enormously compelling. While even the most beautiful symphony is composed in advance of its performance, and the most exquisite ballet is already choreographed in detail, and the greatest musical has been scripted beforehand, the athletic contest stands out in its self-governance. Here is a medium where the players themselves determine the game’s script as it plays out, and no outcome is guaranteed, however predetermined it may seem at a glance. Once an athletic contest begins, all expectations of what was supposed to happen fade away, and the game becomes its own singular entity. Do not underestimate the importance of this self-determination; it lies at the very core of sports, and it is an ethic that must be preserved. It is on this basis that I will denounce the ethicality of the media presenting betting lines on collegiate sports.”

“If you will allow for this personification, the free will possessed by an athletic contest should be unassailably defended by fans, coaches, players, and media professionals alike. It is a quality that, if changed, fundamentally alters the nature of an athletic contest and turns the competitive struggle between players into a farce. Call me a hopeless purist, but on these grounds, I say that gambling on collegiate athletic events can be deemed fundamentally unethical. By introducing the conditional possibility of winning money based on a certain outcome, wagering on the contest has very real potential to alter the independence of the game’s result, which is the central ethic of sport. Consider the New York Times mission statement: to ‘enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news, information and entertainment.’[1] Many other media outlets put forth similar missions to the Times, and I contend that promulgating gambling lines on collegiate athletic events does not fall in line with this purpose. They are failing to fulfill their self-defined mission.”

“Lest I be accused of overreaction, let us look at history to examine the effect gambling has had on athletic contests. Some the darkest days in sports history occurred because gamblers ‘reached’ athletes, who agreed to fix game outcomes in return for cash. Other major controversies have resulted from players or coaches betting on games, even those involving their own team! Talk about a conflict of interests! And ladies and gentlemen, these are not isolated or small-time incidents we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the World Series[2] being fixed. Outcomes of NCAA Division 1 basketball games[3] – the big show – have been predetermined. Pete Rose, baseball’s all-time hits leader, was banned from baseball for life and lost out on the Hall of Fame for betting on his team’s own games as a manager![4] In each of these cases, gambling on sports led to the complete devaluation of what takes place on the playing surface. If sports media would stop publishing the lines, it would represent a major step towards diminishing gambling on sports as a national pastime. Do you think the athletes are not aware of the weight these bets carry? Don’t be naïve. I fail to understand how gambling is illegal in nearly every part of the United States, yet I cannot escape the daily gambling lines in my local newspaper.”

“To emphasize this further, consider the effect of gambling on collegiate athletics in particular. The pure, untainted amateurism of its competitors is a central tenet of the NCAA.[5] As amateur sports, collegiate athletics are supposed to uphold the purity of the game and the wholesomeness of competition for its own sake, unadulterated by greed or self-interest. Student-athletes are intended to be perceived as their fellow students’ peers and equals, with the completion of an education as their first priority. The holistic nature of a college, its traditions, and the collaborative sharing of an athletic experience by students and alumni are all vital parts of the college football and basketball experience. Amateurism is a huge part of these qualities, which, as sports media so frequently reminds us, compose what we love so much about collegiate athletics. The love for school transcends winning; consider my alma mater, Notre Dame, and its consecutive sellout streak. The Irish have been through some lean years recently, including a school-worst 9-loss season in 2007; yet every single home game since 1973 has been sold out. [6] This is because to a collegiate fan base, tradition, education, and solidarity represent a great deal of the meaning behind college football, beyond wins and losses. The professional ranks simply do not have the same kind of idealization attached to them, because greed and self-interest run so rampant. If the NCAA places such an emphasis on amateurism, and comes down so hard on any threats to that standing, then it makes the involvement of gambling on these events all the more grievous. The media needs to stop perpetuating the double standard that it currently manipulates to its advantage, perking the interest of the doe-eyed fan by speaking of tradition, education, and solidarity, while also presenting betting fodder for consumption and even discussing college football and basketball games in gambling terms. The two perspectives cannot be reconciled.”

“I hope that I have presented a compelling case for you tonight. My love for collegiate sports moves me to defend their purity and honor, and I believe that the media’s shameless play of both sides of the coin is indefensible. I also believe that the danger of tainted competition can be greatly mitigated by a change in our fan culture. The perpetuation of collegiate sports gambling by the media as the status quo, however indirectly, should be halted to ensure the beauty of sports as we know them, and I am confident that discontinuing the unethical practice of publishing collegiate football and basketball lines would be a significant step in the right direction. Thank you.”

I’m no superman.

In Life on October 4, 2012 at 8:12 pm

What do you see when you look out there? Those people in their comings and their goings. They have families. They have hopes. They have fears. They have dreams. They have faith. They secretly hate what they do not know. They are capable of great pain and greater compassion. They pursue the desires of their heart. Fleeting wants chased and forgotten as soon as they appear. The many things that push them towards action and calm. There are those that will rise above and those that will succumb. They stumble, fall, and rise again.

They fight over that which can not last. Yet, they refuse to acknowledge just what position they hold in eternity. They overstate the importance of every decision they make when one can safely assume that the world would continue without them. However, in this way, they can count themselves necessary. Maybe, that is how they cope with the shades of arbitrary motion that defines their planet.

They love unconditionally with restrictions. “I’ll do anything, but I won’t do that.” They hold others to standards they cannot keep. They make excuses for the shortcomings in their lives but cannot forgive their neighbor. They fear being honest with themselves. They fear having an honest conversation with one another. They fear accepting that they are lonely and scared. They fear allowing others to help them because then, someone else would know; though I can guarantee that the other person is lonely too.

But, what can I say? Even in that phone booth, I never look at my reflection. I don that cape and I save them. I stop them from hurting each other. I answer their cries for help. I solve the crimes that are beyond inspection. I give them their standard to strive towards. My uniform resembles their flag so they can associate me with all that is good in their world. I leap buildings in a single bound. I am faster than a speeding bullet. I am superman.

But when I am home, and the cape is hanging in the closet, I am alone. No one else can hear their continuous cries for help. I am supposedly above all of their problems. That is why I can be their savior. Their wonder boy. But after a long day, I look in my bathroom mirror and want to be them. With their self-centered issues, arrogance, irrational ideals, and blind hope. I want to be one of them. I am tired of the face that looks back at me. I am no superman.

So answer me this: is Clark Kent, superman? Or is Superman, clark kent?