Friday, March 23, 2018

christmas has changed

For a decade, the sci-fi convention known as Marscon was referred to as my christmas and I have posted in the past explaining why.

What would see to happen every year is that in late January/early February, things at my job would go haywire and there would be a 2-3 week period where everything I did turned out wrong.

Last year, that did not happen except for when I sprained my knee the weekend before the event which I did not attend.

This year, the problems that happened at that time in the past did not happen.

Last Monday, I woke very stiff in my upper right side of the back and could barely turn my head. Had another coworker not been on vacation, I would have considered calling in sick. The whole week has turned into an exercise of futility. Four of the five days, my break was interrupted because someone else needed my help with something and there are times I feel like I can't do anything right.

What does all this mean? The major disc golf event I play is in 6 weeks which is about the same time frame things happened bad before Marscon. So yes, my christmas in 2018 will be in Indiana in May and not Minnesota in March.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

How to stop those who kill many

Too many times recently have there been stories about people trying and occasionally succeeding in killing multiple people. I have realized that every person who attempts to kill others has three common facets.

1) The desire to kill. Whether the victims are random or specific, all who choose to kill want to do so. Every person who attempts that makes a conscious decision to do so and once that choice is made and actions are taken, there is no turning back. Many who do that have an escape plan or an alibi but that does not always work.

Preventing the desire would require a world where every one is happy and there is no desire to kill as well as recognition, treatment, and possibly preventative actions towards those whom seem likely to do so. That would require a complete change in society to fully work.

2) The opportunity to kill. A highly trained soldier fell to a person who had the benefit of surprise. There are many places where people gather in life where a person with the correct equipment could easily kill many.

Preventing the opportunity would require that all public places where many could gather be closely monitored at all times to prevent one person or a small group of attackers from being successful. Doing that fully would turn the country into a police state.

3) The equipment to kill. Many can kill one or two people quickly under the correct circumstances with only their bare hands or a simple hand weapon but killing many requires something more. Though bombs and vehicles have been used, guns have been the most popular choice in the US due to technology and availability since other methods that succeeded became regulated shortly afterward.

Limiting access to guns with the capability of killing many has been done in many countries with positive results and seems to be the most attainable of the three solutions.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The time to post is now

I initially wrote this two years ago and decided today to edit to make it current and post.

While driving in March 2016, was listening to the Devo Spice Manic Mondays podcasts from the previous couple of weeks which included the episode featuring the Logan Award winners which were presented the first weekend of March. My daughter's mood turned sour and she later confessed that it was from the result because Insane Ian's #1 song from the Dr. Demento Show, Benedict Cumberbatch, did not win. I was also wanting it to win as well.

I then explained how I agreed with only one of the twelve winners from the previous four years and what I thought should have won instead and then explained four reasons why winners might be different since I have heard many former jurors and people who make nominations talk about their ideas with voting as well as the votes themselves with follow jurors when I was one of them.

1: A track can be eligible for a song as well as a video.

I have heard people state they would not feel comfortable voting for the video and the song it is from and have to decide which one. That situation has likely split the vote for a song preventing either from winning. I have experienced only one track from this decade which I felt was worthy of the award for both the song and the video and it won neither likely due to this situation.

2. The same artist can have multiple deserving entries in the same category.

I have also heard jurors state they feel obligated to vote for only one song per category per artist. Once again, it can split the vote among numerous songs from the same artist.

3. Jurors can vote for less than five songs in a category.

I had that issue when as a juror as I felt obligated to select five for each category and had to decide between entries that I felt were lesser than others.

Since all votes are equal voting for fewer makes those that get votes count more.

4. There is only one round of voting.

I have heard active jurors state they were waiting for the second round of voting among those in the top five.

I am not saying the winners are not deserving of their award but these points should be mentioned to future jurors to make sure their votes reflect their opinion on the nominees and not the procedure within them.

Soon the jurors will need to listen to a lot of songs and watch a lot of videos and I know how difficult that is. I wish them good luck.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Family circus driving #13

I am proud of my daughter in that she is willing to donate blood which is something that scared me when I was her age. Granted, her donations helps fill her community service graduation requirement but as someone who had to stop donating a few years ago (and wishes he would have been able to donate more than he did), I am glad she is able to do so.

The blue filled line is the GPS directed path to take to the center which is located just west of Stratford Square Mall. The yellow line at the bottom of the picture is Illinois route 64 also known as North Avenue.

According to my daughter who was frantically texting me since they were lost and worried about missing her appointment, they ended up on North Avenue TWICE.

They got there before the center closed and since her blood is on the thin side, like me, the donation went fast.

The last two days have been difficult for me due to many reasons I am not going to state. The desire to do something instinctive which can't be undone is significant. I can picture them happening as I often consciously and unconsciously have done in the past.

There are things that people do to avoid acting on their instincts. I just have to do that today just as I have done in the past without hurting myself as well.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Second time not around

In early January, I had to choose to attend one of two major weekend events in 2018. Since both events require a large amount of money to attend as well as over a week of vacation time and attending the first one would make the second one more difficult as far as weight, a choice needed to be made.

Since I have never attended a major disc golf event before after missing out in 2015 and 2016, I registered for the 2018 Tim Selinske United States Masters Disc Golf Championship being held at the Lemon Lake disc golf facility in Crown Point, IN May 3-6. (FYI: In disc golf Masters means 40 or older and I will be playing in the 50+ men's amateur division.)

I know that my winning the championship is highly improbable as out of the 45 currently registered for the event, I have the 37th best rating and the top players in my division would be expected to beat me by at least 30 shots even at a place which I have played before. Thirteen of the other players have a rating that is higher than my best ever rated round. Similar to many that competed in the Olympics and others in "ball golf" major tournaments, I am going for the experience.

When I registered, I knew that meant losing weight since my right knee failed in the fall of 2017 and though I have lost 8lb since I registered in January, I still need to lose more. Attending Marscon would definitely be difficult for someone who is trying to lose weight as I eat poorly over 5 days most notably at Kahn's Mongolian Buffet.

To be honest, it was difficult last year to not attend Marscon especially with how bad my knee was. Though it was not the first time I did not attend a con after 10+ years, it was different. As I was thinking about it today and after looking at past posts about Marscon, I realize there are two major changes that have made Marscon not as special as it was.

1) Parties: The party floor at Marscon is always done well with many amazing decorations and themes. Between music, beverage, and college level "fun", there were epic moments. As much as I want to list some of them, the fact that this is written for my daughter, I won't but damn, there were fun times.

However, in 2018, the now 52 year old man takes medication that has been used in chemotherapy to make his white blood cells less aggressive to allow him to function with minimal pain. Alcohol with that medication or the pain medication that is occasionally needed does not mix and the idea of staying up past midnight now seems late.

The last time I was at a con party was the weekend I turned 50. On Saturday shortly after midnight, I felt old and realized no more.
2) Music: For 10 years, Marscon was the place to see a weekend of awesome comedy music being performed and it was unique and worth the 400+ mile trip and I am grateful for the work Luke Ski does to make it that way. Now there is FuMPFeST which is only comedy music. No real parties. No media GOH, no other items on the schedule to force comedy music sets to be cut short.

It is nice to see one hour sets of awesome music as opposed to a rushed 30 minutes as well. Even though recent Marscon GOH Rob Paravonian, Luke Ski, Judy Tenuta, and Brentalfloss are fine, they are not the Arrogant Worms, Paul and Storm, Henry Phillips or the Four Postmen (who are the 2018 GOH for the event held Memorial Day weekend). 

While Marscon for me is an uncomfortable 400+ mile drive or ride each way possibly in winter weather, FuMPFeST is a 5 mile drive for me in the summer and I have literally walked the direct 4.5 miles from my house to the hotel. Attending FuMPFeST is significantly cheaper for me and I get much more music for the money since I don't need to stay at a hotel.

In spite of all that, had the 6 horse won the 8th race at Hawthorne Race Course on Feb 19th allowing me to win $1,008 in an off track betting pick 6 pool, I would have seriously considered trying to find a way to get to and stay at Marscon.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Happy to be wrong

As most who read this know, I will watch any sport at any time. In November 2003, I woke up at 3AM on a Saturday morning and paid $30 to watch Jonny Wilkinson make a drop kick in extra time to lead England to the Rugby World Cup championship over host nation Australia. I streamed Sri Lanka finally winning the D20 cricket title over India in 2014. I can name the men's soccer world cup champions the same way that I do the Super Bowl Champions.

Of course I was happy to see curling added to the Olympic lineup in 2002. I would have to figure out when and what channel the matches were being shown since the main coverage would be focused on events that were more popular in the US most notably those where a person gets a score based on a perception of a performance. Even though the US won bronze in 2006, there was not much coverage and often that coverage would be preempted to show other events.

In 2010, the coverage increased and there was optimism since the lead from the 2006 team, John Shuster, was the skip (captain) who threw the final two rocks (shots) for the team and the coverage of the regular matches increased. What that meant was that in 2010 many saw Shuster fail multiple times on shots any Olympic curler would be expected to make and it got so bad that he was demoted then benched from a last place squad.

What I started to do (as well as the person who created the shustersucks Twitter handle) was use the word "shuster" to describe a person screwing up at the end of a sports event. Another poor performance from Shuster in 2014 with a squad that finished 9th out of 10 kept that phrase relevant. When I blew a 5 shot lead with 5 holes to do in a disc golf tournament in November 2016, I said that I did a "shuster".

During FuMPFeST 2015, Canadian guest of honor The Arrogant Worms made a reference in their song "I Ran Away" describing in technical terms how bad a person was at curling which I immediately responded, "so he is John Shuster". No one around me understood what I meant but when I later mentioned that to Mike McCormick, the band member who did the rant, he laughed.

Apparently the US Curling Federation was not happy with Shuster's Olympic performance either as they sponsored 10 other curlers to try to get a more competitive team in 2018. When I was watching Curling Night in America, I was relieved to not see him in the US lineup. However, to my disappointment I discovered that Shuster was able with a new squad win the US Olympic trial and represent the team in 2018.

For the first week, things went as expected and after two bad games over the weekend, I mentioned that a sick coworker on Monday must have watched the matches. The next day, I was surprised to hear that the US beat Canada and when I saw the difficult last shot that Shuster executed to win the match, I was shocked. The next two games, he was even better and the US qualified for the semi-finals against Canada.

Again, he played a top level match perfectly executing the type of shot to win the match that he likely would have missed in 2010 and 2014. Though Shuster missed a couple shots in the final after making a great one early, the Swedish skip missed some too including one that allowed Shuster to make a relatively easy shot to take a huge lead to win the gold medal.

I was up until almost 4AM to see everything live and 10 hours later, I am still in disbelief over what I saw. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Missing a miracle

I am writing this shortly after the expected finish of the gold medal men's curling match between the US and Sweden (which I did not realize at the time was going to be held 15 hours later). I do not know the result and am hoping to not know it when I watch the broadcast after I get home from work today.

Yesterday, I knew the result of the semi-final match against Canada right as it ended since due to multiple circumstances, I was in the car listening to sports radio at the time. During the day at work, someone who knows I have been following the sport since it became an Olympic event 16 years ago mentioned it to me (and was informed that it was NOT a good thing to do) and during the day I saw three FB posts about the match.

I still watched the match when I was home but much of the thrill was gone since I knew how it was going to end. The last shot of the match that decided who wins (a shot every Olympic curler would be expected to make every time but is not made 100% of the time) had no drama for me since I knew that the US had won.

Watching that semi-final match reminds me of the 1980 US/USSR Olympic men's hockey championship pool game. Though it was played at 1:30 PM local time and not in the evening as the movie Miracle portrayed, it was not broadcast in the US until that evening and since there was no internet, most people had no idea what happened until that evening.

I was a freshman at St. Rita H.S. at the time and the boys' varsity basketball team was playing De La Salle which was a big deal for me since the starting center for St. Rita was a sophomore who was a teammate of mine in grammar school and De La Salle finished 4th in the state in 1979.

As I was getting ready to go, my mom mentioned the hockey game that was going to air and I stated that I don't want to see the USSR blow out the US again like they did 3 weeks before in an exhibition. I had no idea at the time that the Soviet players partied hard (what I now refer to as Hope Solo style) with the pairs gold medal winners the night before and were so hung over that they lost to the US. During the 4th quarter of the basketball game, the announcer mentioned the result and there was a standing ovation from the overflow crowd.

I have seen the "miracle on ice" game played multiple times since then but always with the knowledge that Mike Eruzione scored a late third period goal to lead a bunch of college amateurs to victory against one of the best teams in the world missing out on the real experience of the event. If there was one thing I would want to change in my life that would not have future consequences, me staying home to watch that game would be it.