Pickleball?

While traveling through Oregon, we stayed at the spectacular Sun River Resort. I never in my life thought I’d reach a point where I could stay in such a high-end place with so many amenities that I would be tempted not to leave the grounds, but here I was, suffering from some major imposter syndrome, but having a blast nonetheless.

Without leaving the resort, we could have golfed, swam, bicycled, dined, grocery shopped, hot tubbed, and played pickleball. Oh yeah, I could get used to this. Yes, indeed.

But wait a minute. Pickleball? What on earth is pickleball? I have very mixed emotions when I discover that there’s this whole thing out there that I had no idea about. It’s equal parts not knowing (bad) and learning something new (awesome).

Shortly after seeing the sign for pickleball, we passed the pickleball court, which kind of looked like a half-sized tennis court. And when we reached our room and scrolled through the 600 cable channels available to us, we came upon a pickleball tournament, which I found rather fascinating. And when we got back home, I saw signs encouraging people to join a pickleball team.

One day I was pickleball-ignorant, and the next I couldn’t get away from it. This has happened to me before, with tilapia, and with credit card swipe machines. It’s like I have jumped over a massive information hurdle that I didn’t even know I was climbing.

Dear husband assures me that that means my reticular activator is functioning properly. Well, shoot! That’s another thing I didn’t know about! According to this website,

“THE RETICULAR ACTIVATOR is a part of the brain the stays on alert. It’s (sic) job is to make you notice some things and ignore other things (if you noticed everything, you’d be too distracted to function). When you buy a new VW, it seems like the whole world has bought VWs, because you notice them everywhere. That’s the reticular activator at work.”

Anyway, if, like me, you’ve been residing in the pickleball dark, I will whet your appetite for it by telling you that according to Wikipedia, it’s kind of a cross between badminton, tennis, and table tennis. I also suggest that you hop on over to Youtube and do a search for videos, because they are too numerous to mention here. It does look like fun.

I just like the fact that I can now add the word pickleball to my vocabulary. “Sorry, I can’t do lunch with you today, Mable, dear. I have a pickleball tournament to attend. They need me. I’m the cheerleader.”

Pickleball

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Hive Mind

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired. I’m tired of thinking. I’m tired of trying to figure out what’s true and what’s not. I’m tired of worrying about what I can do to help fix this increasingly broken world of ours.

But the only other option is to let others do the thinking for me. Boy, is that tempting. It would be so easy to maintain a mental radio silence and just let other people handle everything. But I’m fairly certain that that trend is what got us into this mess in the first place.

Too many people have checked out. Or they’ve taken up full time residence in Facebook, the land that facts forgot. They certainly didn’t bother to vote. What could possibly go wrong? This. That’s what.

That, my friends, is called “hive mind”. Turn yourself into a drone. Just do your little job. Maintain your routine. Don’t look at the big picture. Don’t ask questions. Trust that the honey will be there when you need it.

Once you’re attuned to it, you see hive mind everywhere. It’s in paramilitary organizations, such as the police and ICE. We, as individuals, don’t have to have a moral compass when we’re just part of the hive. I’m a law abiding citizen, but it always rattles me to talk to cops. You can look into their eyes and see that they’re in the hive. Because of that, there’s no possible way for them to relate to me as an individual. And that’s scary.

The individuals who make up ICE were told not to let people off a domestic flight until they produced identification. They each knew it was wrong. But they were doing their job. And cops? Take ‘em out of the uniform, and they wouldn’t normally rough someone up, but this is a bad guy, and it’s for the greater good, right?

Lord knows hive mind is the essence of bureaucracies. When’s the last time you got a rational response out of AT&T? Employees in those places are discouraged from going off script, even when the script makes no sense whatsoever.

I hate to say it, but it’s also seen at sporting events. We good. You bad. Me Tarzan. And then we’re shocked when violence erupts. This is why I never got into sports.

Cults, of course, have hive mind down to a science. You are stripped of your individuality, deprived of information, isolated from family, and told what to think. It must feel quite liberating at first, like slipping into a nice warm bath. And then the water gets cold.

I used to lament having been born in the 60’s. It meant I was too young to participate in all the “really good” protests. My generation got to eat the fruit of all that labor without really having to work for it. Well, be careful what you wish for. Now, in my 50’s, I get to participate in activities that make my aching body wish I were 20 again.

I have to admit, though, that it feels like we are all starting to wake up. We may not like it, but you can only hit the snooze button so many times. Maybe Trump is the rock bottom we had to hit before we could rise up again.

Even toxic clouds have silver linings, it seems.

Macro Insects Bees Swarm

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The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp? Seriously?

In the interests of full disclosure, I’m not a particularly big sports fan. I tend to shy away from things that encourage any form of us vs. them (now more than ever). But when I heard that my old home town of Jacksonville, Florida was changing the name of its minor league baseball team to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, even I had to cringe.

What the hell were they thinking? As if there weren’t enough things to laugh at about that city. Its politics. Its backward hyper-conservatism. The fact that despite its enormous size is feels more like a truck stop that got out of control. But now they’ll have the Jumbo Shrimp to root for! Uh… how does one root for a shrimp, exactly?

Predictably, the fan base of the Jacksonville Suns, a team which has been around since the 60’s, seems to be outraged. Jacksonvillians have never been very open to change. If it were up to them, every year would be 1950. Poodle skirts would be back in style. But they do have a point. What was wrong with the Suns?

Here’s what they don’t seem to understand. It’s a done deal. They’re going to have to get over it. And eventually they will. Just like they got over the tearing down of the old stadium, once they settled into the gorgeous new one.

And even though this name change seems to fly in the face of long-standing tradition, it also seems to be a tradition that minor baseball teams have silly names. Here are a few:

  • The Savannah Sand Gnats
  • The Wichita Wingnuts
  • The Topeka Train Robbers
  • The Akron Rubber Ducks
  • The Albuquerque Isotopes
  • The Hartford Yard Goats
  • The Kannapolis Intimidators
  • The Pensacola Blue Wahoos
  • The Florida Fire Frogs
  • The Surprise Saguaros
  • The Texas AirHogs
  • The Sugar Land Skeeters
  • The Old Orchard Beach Surge
  • The River City Rascals
  • The Washington Wild Things
  • The White Sands Pupfish

So, um… Go Jumbo Shrimp! (No. Seriously. Go.)

jumbo-shrimp-f

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Rivalries

When I attended Apopka High School, our big rival was West Orange High. That was rather awkward for me, because the majority of the kids I went to junior high school with wound up attending that school. It was a little hard for me to jump on the bandwagon and say that everyone at West Orange was a rich snob, or was for some reason evil incarnate, because I knew that not to be so.

I’m not even sure how that rivalry began. I know that there was a deep resentment in Apopka that West Orange’s colors were orange and blue, just like the very popular Florida Gators football team, whereas ours were blue and white, just like, well, nothing or nobody of note, as far as we were concerned. And their mascot was the warriors, whereas ours was the blue darter. (The blue darter is supposedly a fierce raptor of a bird, but have you ever heard of it? I don’t think so, unless you know it’s also known as a cooper’s hawk. I’d love to know whose bright idea it was to settle on darter instead of hawk.)

For sports purposes, I suppose, this rivalry was pushed really hard. (Ticket sales, don’t you know.) And yes, it’s fun to have someone to root for and root against, but there’s a fine line. At some point you’re teaching kids to demonize others, and reinforcing that that very demonization is proof of team spirit.

It’s people who buy into that sort of crap who grow up to riot at soccer games or chant at Trump and/or Hitler rallies.

I’ve always balked at the whole “us vs. them” mentality. That’s probably why I’ve never really been interested in sports. I just can’t give myself over to the concept that you either have to be for us or against us. I truly believe that there are shades of gray within us all, even though we as a society seem to be forgetting that quite a bit lately.

I think my mindset had a lot to do with knowing so many West Orange students.  When you’ve broken bread with someone, it’s a lot harder for you to say we need to build a wall to keep that person out.That’s also a big reason why I encourage people to travel. When you’ve taken the time to look into someone’s eyes, to really know them, it’s a lot harder to do something that will make it impossible for you to do so ever again.

We really need to stop teaching kids that it’s fun to have enemies.

 

Athletes Are Cheated by Academic Fraud

The current scandal takes place at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It seems that for decades students have been able to take classes that didn’t really exist in order to beef up their grade point averages so that they could continue participating in top tier athletic programs. This is the most extensive scandal of this type, but by no means the first time we’ve heard about athletes skating through academia. In my high school graduating class, several of the football players graduated without being functionally literate. This isn’t uncommon.

Here’s the sad part, though. What these dumb jocks don’t seem to realize is that they’re being used. They are merely the protein being fed into the academic meat grinder, and money is pumping out the other end. Sports are a huge source of revenue for any college, so it’s in their best interest to keep these students sports-worthy. But in the end, what does the athlete get? A very small percentage move on to the professional arena with over-inflated incomes, but even they usually spend the rest of their lives physically ruined. But the vast majority of these students graduate, having not had the benefit of a decent education, and may as well not have gone to school at all.

By getting sucked into these scandalous frauds, the athletes are the ones who are truly being cheated. Maybe someday some of them will wise up enough to be morally outraged and take legal action. Maybe someday the rest of us will stop supporting our favorite college teams and instead support our favorite college students.

go-team

A Steady Diet of Estrogen

“Why do you always forget to clean under the toilet seat?”

“Because I grew up in a house full of women. It never occurs to me to lift up the toilet seat.”

Only recently has it crossed my mind that perhaps growing up with two sisters and a single mom has left me with certain deficits. For example, I have never, ever watched a sporting event from start to finish. As a matter of fact, if you tell me the name of a team, I most likely couldn’t say with 100 percent confidence whether they play football or basketball or baseball. And I have never attempted to bar-b-cue anything in my life. I don’t like the taste of beer. Teasing someone unmercifully does not come naturally to me, and I am virtually incapable of not taking things personally. I’m thrilled to say I never learned how to fist fight, and I can’t belch on command.

On the other hand, because I couldn’t fall back on men to do certain things, I actually became more capable in some ways. I can change the oil in my car. I kill my own spiders. I’m very security conscious, and while you may be able to intimidate me, that doesn’t mean I’ll put up with your crap for very long.

Paddling around in that sea of estrogen as I did means that I am a loving, compassionate, sympathetic, intelligent listener. You’d think that I would also have turned out to be some make-up wearing, high heel tolerating flirty girl. In fact, I have never worn make up and wouldn’t know how, I am the poster child for sensible shoes, and…well, yeah, I guess I do flirt, come to think of it.

My mother, may she rest in peace, emphasized intelligence and the importance of an education over beauty and the need to find a spouse, and because of that I have an unwavering confidence in my ability to learn whatever I need to learn in order to survive.

I may not be stereotypical, but I guess I turned out all right after all.

Happy Mother’s Day!

women can