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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Make The Time, Dammit!

Making The Time

Hey All -- trying to make up for some lost ground here!

Well, the Games have ended for USA Hockey.  They jazzed us a week ago with that shootout victory over the host nation, but something in them sort of . . . died once the medal round started.  Good luck to Canada and Sweden in the Gold Medal game, nice re-match from 1994 in Lille-hammer.  For us?  Let's just get back to the regular NHL season and all of its unfinished business.

Ever get stuck in a rut?  Just no time for anything because you're too busy doing everything else?  Don't lie and say no.  :)

Those of us who have stressful jobs seem to do nothing but that job, relax from the work week, and rinse and repeat forever.  Those of us who are raising young families have that to an even higher degree.  And 8 hours of sleep a night?  Some of us have just given up on that!

But maybe some of us just make it work through something called "time management."  Instead of feeling overwhelmed that time is overwhelming them, and they'll never get to things they need, they actually find ways to make time work for them instead.

How?  Here's what I see them doing:

(1)  SAYING NO.  If someone other than their superior authority figure tries to interrupt their work, they politely and firmly say, "Not right now," "Come back later," or "I have something to finish."  If someone calls them at the last minute with a gotta-go-here, gotta-go-there idea, they turn them down.  If they've already checked their e-mail or social networking within the last hour, they don't check it yet again!  If they already know that there's something ahead that will WASTE their time, CAUSE unpleasantness, and PREVENT them from doing that which is necessary, they turn it down.

(2)  PRIORITIZING:  If something has a shorter deadline than anything else, that can't be missed, it gets top billing.  NOTHING else gets placed above it, no matter what.  Everything else gets listed in descending order of importance, and gets handled likewise.  Unless there is an unavoidable emergency, NOTHING on that list gets altered.

(3)  LEAVING NOTHING UNFINISHED:  Yes, you can negotiate this a little, but if you can't finish the whole thing in a single sitting, have the good grace to finish a clearly-delineated portion of it, so you'll know exactly where you left off.  Other than symphonies and works of art left undone by the composer's or artist's demise, NOTHING is good enough when it's not really finished.

(4)  PUTTING IN EXTRA HOURS WHEN NEEDED:  We do not only live between the hours of 9 and 5.  If something requires additional time beyond the traditional day, you put in that time.  If you don't want to burn the midnight oil doing it, then boil the morning coffee instead and do it early.  Or just do what we all did in college and put in a good old-fashioned all-nighter, allowing yourself to make up the missed sleep later.

What's that, you say?  You don't want to do it on the all-important weekend?  Oh gee.  What if you have no plans during that all-important weekend?  Do you realllllly need to see who's hosting Saturday Night Live?  I doubt it.  That show has gone south ever since my woman Kristen Wiig left it!  Why not take that extra free time that you're not being paid for someone else's bidding or running some silly household errand and move a little closer to actualizing your dreams?

Oh noooo, you're a man about town, maybe you do have plans on the weekend?  How's about right before you dream on, dream away to slumberland, you make the time to make it real?  Or maybe at the crack of dawn before the rest of the world starts its wacky schedule, you start your own?

This is just another way of claiming your life, your dreams, and your goals for your own, and not to have others continually and eternally dictating them to you.  If you make them matter enough, then nothing -- not Great Aunt Tilly's 86th birthday party, not your friend's children's Sunday school graduation, and not that person at work who alllllllways "a little question," can shut 'em down.  Ya dig?  I dig more.

And by the way, without admitting or denying, confirming or rejecting, yours truly may or may not be doing the same.  ;)

Enjoy our early spring thaw, all!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Mechanism

Hello All.  Seems like I have a little bit of catch up work to do, so here goes.

Human beings of both genders are born with a mechanism -- both halves of a device used to propagate our species.  We experience completely natural desires to pair with the opposite gender to engage this mechanism, and to reproduce offspring to succeed us once we have left this realm.

While the mechanism's primary purpose is reproduction, over time we began enjoying simply the process itself, without intending to reach the natural result.  Some call this sinful and irresponsible.  But since that process happens to feel as good as a roller-coaster ride, followed by a belly-flop into a giant vat of ice cream, this "unauthorized" use of the mechanism has continued for millennia.

This "unauthorized" engagement led to the development of contraceptive devices designed to reduce the likelihood of unintended results.  Despite these advances, and their clear successes, none of them are 100% effective.

Despite what some may tell you, it's really NOT ALWAYS a blessing, or a surprise, or a welcome event to hear that an unintended pregnancy has occurred.  While there are parents who really are able to make that adjustment, marry each other for the child, they don't represent everyone in the same situation.  And yes, sometimes this type of thing happens with people who are already committed to each other, or have already set a wedding date.  If both parents are ready to meet that challenge, adapt to it, and put a child's interests ahead of their own, more power to them.  BUT THAT'S NOT ALWAYS THE WAY IT IS.  If some people suck as parents even if they've done it "the right way," what makes you think people don't suck if they do it this way instead?

When this subject is broached, everyone is ready for a good old-fashioned abortion debate.  A battle of the sexes.  Science against religion.  Does life begin at conception, or at birth?  I'm a woman, who has the right to tell me what to do with my body?  It's not just your body, it's a baby's body, who gave you the right to kill it?  On and on, back and forth, etc. etc., gettin' stale.

Believe it or not, this really is an issue that starts and ends with us gentlemen more than it does with women.  It is our portion of the mechanism that starts the ball rolling, so to speak.  I am no feminist, and I'm loathe to blame men for every "mistake," but it is we who usually commence this process to begin with.

So let me head off that whole abortion debate at the pass:

(1) Sometimes it's really OK to not engage the mechanism to begin with.  Our friends, the alpholes, will try to convince us otherwise, as they brag about putting up Gene Simmons numbers, and flaunt how "manly" they truly are by doing so.  They aren't.

I'm not saying you should embrace celibacy.  But I am saying that there are times it's just not a good idea to go for it.  And if you know it's not the right time, there's no shame in admitting it.  The fact that you can say no when you want to say no makes you much more of a man than these followers trying to be something they're not.  If our friends, the feminists, use such slogans as "No Means No" and "My Body, My Choice" to cheers and accolades, what's to prevent us from adopting the same concepts?

(2) If you actually do feel that the time is right, then be smart, and be responsible.  Every year or so, go for a check up and make sure there are no latent diseases seeping through your bloodstream, just for peace of mind.  And once you feel you are ready to engage the mechanism, make sure that both parties use protection at the same time.  No explanation needed.

(3) As stated before, next time a woman politely turns you down, thank her.  If she was smart enough to see that it wouldn't work before you did, she may or may not have saved you from a most undesirable existence.

The notion of diving into marriage with someone that was never meant for you, for the sake of an unintended pregnancy, is terrible.  People will tell you that it's responsible to jettison your former life to embrace fatherhood.  I say that it's even more responsible to not even let it happen in the first place.  Be aware enough of yourself and your surroundings.

Enjoy President's Day tomorrow!

DISCLAIMER:  The above post is not intended to pass judgment on those who have started families in unconventional ways.  It is your life and your choice, and none of my business.  But I am aiming this at those who may have different choices, and asking them to choose wisely.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Your Flag, Your Colors

Hey All.  To my numerous readers in Russia, I hope you're all enjoying the Olympics!  I commend your Olympic organizing committee in presenting a dark portion of your country's history in the most positive light possible during the Opening Ceremonies.

The Parade of Nations is always something I look forward to seeing in every Games.  It's the athletes' chances to introduce themselves to the world before beginning their quest for a medal, or even just to say that they arrived and competed.  It's also a chance for lesser-known nations to introduce their country to the world, even for a just a short time.

Most people well say that their favorite part of the Olympics is seeing Team USA enter the stadium.  Yes, we sometimes joke about how horribly lame their uniforms are, but it gives us a huge kick.  Since it's our country, it makes us feel like we're right there in the stadium with them.

I disagree though.  My favorite parts of the evening are, in reverse order (3) the singing of the Olympic Hymn and presentation of the Olympic Flag; (2) lighting the torch after its long journey from Athens; and (1) watching nations represented by only one athlete.

I don't know about you all, but watching just one person carrying a flag, smiling and waiving, with a small entourage consisting only of a coach or trainer, or possibly a family member, is special.  It sends a stronger message to me than all of the rah-rah talk coming from countries with 200+ athletes.  It tells me that this is a person so dedicated, so disciplined, and so focused on their chosen event that they're able to go it alone.

Alone.  Without a "program" to measure up to in order to compete.  Without a "system" that demands what to say, do, and wear.  Without a corporate sponsorship.  Just him, or her, and a dream that became reality.

So while current and former Today Show anchors provided factoids about each of these bold individualists (they have dual citizenship in that country, they really live in Montana, etc.), I found myself cheering for them regardless of their backstories.  Most of them do not expect to win a medal.  Appearing in commercials and becoming famous are most likely not the reasons why they are there.  They are there only to be the best they can be at their events, and to proudly represent whatever flag they fly.

And most importantly, they are their for themselves.  Because they've already proven so much to themselves, and they want to prove more.

We are better served to follow their example than we are to keep mindlessly chanting "U.S.A." for every event.  Far too many of us are weighed down by expectations, groupthink, and confirmity to be independent enough.

Make your colors, and fly your flag.  Compete for yourself, and not for anyone else.  Show that flag to the world, and be proud of it, no matter what.  By standing alone and playing by your own rules, instead of answering to some superhuman machine and all its rules, you have already won victories that the "home team" can never win.



Fly your own flag.  High.