Go to the mattresses

Today’s Olympic sport: Skeleton

Skeleton, or bobsleigh skeleton as it is formally known, has to be, for my money, one of the most outrageous, terrifying sports out there.  Here you get a running start, flop face down and head first on to a sheet of ice, and hurtle through tight curves for nearly a mile.  And yet, this is one sport I would dearly love to try.  It just looks like so much fun.  So, how do I relate to the skeleton?

Well, as most of my stories play out, this one is distinctly related to experiences at summer camp.  Although, this one was not during the summer.  In the fall, we would go back to camp for a weekend and enjoy a retreat to see our old friends and plan for the next summer.  Naturally, it being rather cold, there was a lot of time spent indoors.  One year after the new lodge was built, rather than stay in the cabins, we decided to camp out in the lodge, lock-in style.  Boys on one floor, girls on the other.  This wasn’t that long ago actually because myself, my sister, and our friends J. and R. were considered adults…at least, that’s what we were told when half the group, with what I considered to be the actual adults, went on a hayride and left us in charge.  First of all, what’s the deal with hayrides?  Sharp, pointy, dry weeds sticking you in the butt as you rattle along in the freezing cold on a tractor bed that has no shock absorption whatsoever.  Let me just say, I am NOT a country boy.  I don’t see the allure of a hayride.  Maybe I’ve just never been on a proper one…because I gather that there’s supposed to be some canoodling going on, and I never canoodled on a hayride…probably because of the aforementioned conditions.  Back to the story, so there we were, in charge of roughly 20 people.  Well, that’s all well and good, but what were we gonna do for forty-five minutes while the hayriding adults were gone? Talk about Jesus?  Hell no.  We were gonna mattress race.

Our camp had some really crappy mattresses.  I mean, I guess they were good enough, but they were no pillow-top queen set with matching duvet cover.  They were twin-bed sized or less, foam-like material that was encased in a mildew-colored stripe patterned plastic.  Which, I might add, was perfect…and I do mean IDEAL for sliding across the tile floor of an open floor plan lodge designed to hold upwards of 100 kids for a meal.  And we did it skeleton style too.  We’d start at one end of the lodge, set our mattress out a few feet, get a running start, flop on that mattress and slide as far as we could before gravity and Newton’s laws took over.  The goal was always best distance, but racing was an important part of the fun.  We went in pairs to see who was the best mattress racer.

Now, remember, I’m in charge, along with some other folks, and everything was going great.  I was managing some pretty good distance considering I had a few extra pounds more than most of these kids THAT WE WERE SUPERVISING and with my form and mattress racing talent, I had won a few.  So, the next thing I know, I’m racing against B. aka “The Tape Miser” for his excessive use of tape during an arts and crafts event at Bible school one year.  Anyway, the stage is set, hoards of young people cheering us on, we take off…I leap into the air and mid-flight I recognize something is wrong.  I see it all playing out in front of me and there’s nothing I can do about it.  I have overshot my mattress and I face plant on that tile floor like a drunk on Mardi Gras, but because I could see it coming, I hop up and run to the kitchen to survey the damage.  I’m hanging my bloody maw over the sink, washing my freshly powdered front tooth out of my mouth as my sister and other “supervising adults” come running in.  I’m laughing about it because there is no pain, but there is serious discussion about what to do and how to explain this state of affairs.

Well, naturally, I had to go the hospital, where R. and I enjoyed part of the baseball playoffs in the waiting room.  And, I enjoyed the effects of a Percocet later that evening, even though, I never really had any pain.  And, when I returned back home I had the awkward experience of explaining to my decidedly attractive dental student the joys of mattress racing.  This, of course, spelled the end of mattress racing for the camp.  The camp director was definitively unhappy with the situation and, while I maintain that mattress racing is still a relatively safe pastime, mattress racing was banned.  And, now, I’m sure that they just sit around the fire and talk about Jesus which is probably much more interesting than a hayride.

The tooth is fine, by the way.  Tiffany did a great job and the fix has held up for at least a decade at this point.  I’m all healed and I think I only went one more year to summer camp.  I guess I wasn’t cut out for adult supervision…but maybe this skeleton thing is for me.

See you in the funny papers!

Surf’s up

Today’s Olympic sport: Snowboarding

I am a child of the snowboarding age.  Though it has been around since the 1960s apparently, its true emergence Aside: at least in my opinion, and it’s my blog dammit. was in the early 80s with its ultimate arrival in the early 90s.  I have always imagined that I’d be pretty decent at snowboarding, mostly because you’re only strapping yourself to one piece of equipment, whereas skiing has two.  With snowboarding, there seems much less chance for me to end up going in two directions at once causing irreparable harm to what we boys like to refer to as “the family jewels.”  Of course, I’ve never been snowboarding, or snow skiing for that matter.  I did go water skiing once…well, I say I went skiing.  Mostly, I just skidded along face down behind the boat swallowing as much of the lake as I could because I was too stupid to let go of the damn rope.  I’m much better at tubing…again, one piece of equipment.  Why does everything have to be so complicated?

Anyway, so how do I relate to snowboarding?  Well, a close second, in my opinion, would be skateboarding, which was my primary mode of transportation for some time in the mid to late 80s.  I had a board that I went everywhere on, but mostly “everywhere” consisted of the local drug store to purchase Topps baseball cards with my friend Jon Aside: whose last name I can’t even remember now, some friend huh? and when we didn’t buy cards, we bought candy.  All of this was back before I realized I would actually NEED money and I should’ve saved some of that dough.  It was also back before child obesity was an issue…but I guess it wasn’t an issue because we would actually go outside and ride skateboards everywhere rather than sitting around on our asses and having our mothers bring us potato chips while we played Super Mario Bros. until our eyes melted, but I digress.

Well, there was one hill on our block which was prime real estate for shredding and catching air.  None of which we did.  I’m certain that if any of the four wheels of that board had left the hill at any moment I’d have flipped over and died.  No, our “tricks” were limited to kicking the board up, Michael J. Fox from Back to the Future-style, when we were picking it up.  Shredding for us was simply riding from side to side down the hill, provided there were no cars coming.  And catching air…well, the only air I caught was the breeze as I rode down the hill.  Consequently, I’m not a professional boarder of anything; skate, snow, or surf!  That’s my connection to snowboarding…tenuous at best, I realize, but we only get heavy snow in Kentucky about every 10-15 years, so it’s not like there’s a lot of opportunity.

See you in the funny papers!

Up for air

Well, it seems that posting on this blog is going to be done sparingly, at best.  Many of you, my loyal readers Aside: provided there are any of the 3 of you left will no doubt notice that it has been some time since I posted anything and some of you may have even written me off which I suppose I deserve.  In an effort to do better, I’ve devised a scheme to help us both out…me by posting more, you by gaining more insight into my world (as if you really wanted that!)

I really enjoy the Olympics.  At least, I enjoy some of the Olympics.  There are some sports I could care less about and some of the drama is a little yawn-worthy in my opinion, but nothing brings a tear to my eye like a truly deserving athlete scoring some Olympic bling Aside: are we still using “bling” as a term?  I’ve been gone a while. and choking back emotion during the medal ceremony.  Anyway, for the next several days, I’ll be relating to the various Winter Games sporting events with little vignettes about myself.  Should provide very interesting fodder.

Today’s sporting event: Luge

This particular sport is what prompted the return to blogging for me.  When my daughter awoke last night around 2 a.m., C. and I both woke quickly and C. got up to attend to her needs.  Now lest you think I’m one of those rotten bastard husbands who lets the wife do all the work when it comes to babies, let me assure you that this is not the case.  While I don’t always personally feel as if I’m contributing equally, I believe that we both maintain a balance of caring for our daughter. So what does this have to do with luge?  Good question.  So, after my wife got up, I settled back into the warmth of our bed and I realized that I fall asleep in luge position: flat on my back, head slightly raised (on the pillow), arms at my sides, toes pointed inward.  How bizarre!  I mean, why would I be thinking of the luge at two in the morning?!  Anyway, to further ground this story, lest you think this the simple ramblings of a madman who is moderately sleep deprived, I present a further luge relation.

When I was growing up, my sister and I would spend a large amount of time hanging out with our godmother, D.  She is not like other godmothers in the fact that she practically lived at our house.  I grew up setting the table for five, and it was a rare occurrence when she did not join us.  We loved spending time with her and still do.  She could be counted on to participate in the activities that parents would rather not engage in…nothing illegal mind you, just rambunctious fun that is not your typical parent fare.  My mother always said it was like sending three kids out into the world.  On with the story…one weekend, we ventured out to a local water park, and by local I mean we probably drove an hour or two, so this was no small event.  As with all water parks, this one had a water slide which might be, second only to the trampoline, the most fun a kid can have in the summer.  Well, D. was never one to shy away from entertainment, she didn’t just drop us off with beer money and sunscreen, no, she participated.  So…this water slide, at one part near the middle it was covered, so rather than a half pipe, it was a fully enclosed tube.  This was only the beginning of the fun.  My sister and I went down several times, and D. decided to go down with us once as we seemed to be having so much fun.  Well, we were able to watch from a railing as she descended.  She started out luge style, feet first on her back…somewhere in the tube is where the hilarity ensued…she emerged clutching desperately at the raft she started out on, head first, legs flailing, shouting something unintelligible interspersed with “whoa” and “help.”  I literally thought I would pee my shorts with laughter.  I could’ve gone home right then and there as she splashed down into the wading pool at the end because that simply made my day.  This story, among many others involving D., is retold with alarming regularity at various family gatherings.  I hope that this makes your viewing of the luge in future years even more exciting.

On a more somber note, it is with sadness that we acknowledge the passing of Georgian luge athlete, Nodar Kumaritashvili.  A true Olympian whose tragic death serves as a reminder that life is fleeting and we do not have much time to be a joy in the hearts of others.

See you in the funny papers!

It’s alive…It’s ALIVE!

I’m back bitchezzz!  That’s right…nothing new and improved about me though, still the same ol’…well, actually, that’s not true, but we’ll get to that in a minute.  First, thank you for not giving up on me.  I know that there are some of you who keep checking in just to see if I’ve written anything and I appreciate your patience.  I realize it’s been a while and there have been good reasons and no reasons.  The good news is that I’m back.  Now, on with the updates:

  • New job. Not gonna blog about it, just tellin’ ya.  Truth is though, it’s great.  I love it.  And as I have told many people, it’s exactly where I need to be right now.  It’s not my life’s goal, but it’s a wonderful situation and I’m very excited about it.
  • Illness. I think I’ve finally killed off/narrowed down/successfully hidden from the source of my illness that has plagued me since the dawn of time Aside: Okay, November, but still…damn, that’s a long time. I had awful sinus issues that would not go away.  They were more nuisance than painful, but I think I’ve finally relieved myself of the worst of it.
  • Marathon training. Well, the illness put a damper on training somewhat.  Up until this week, I had really been slacking, but not due to my usual laziness and procrastination.  The weather has certainly lived up to its wintry expectation and that, coupled with my aforementioned sinus problems made for days that were simply not good for training, physically or mentally.  However, I’m back with a vengeance and I’m looking to put up some big numbers in February.  As it was, I only put in 37.2 miles last month, which is not only my lowest monthly total since late summer, it is well off my pace of 50 miles per month to reach my two year goal of 1200 miles.  Still, I hope to recoup some of that this month.
  • Haiti. What a horribly disastrous event that was and though the public outcry seems to be dying down, we should be aware that it’s going to take decades to recover, if ever, from this event.  If there is any thread of your being that values human dignity, please give to your favorite relief organization that is supporting the efforts in Haiti.  I recommend the Red Cross, if for no other reason than I regularly donate blood and I know that it is a worthwhile organization with little or no corruption.  Haiti is one of, if not THE poorest nation on the planet and to have suffered from this devastating earthquake and the resulting catastrophic aftermath must be a national nightmare on a scale that I cannot even begin to imagine.  And, I’m not even going to dignify the outrageous lunacy of Pat Robertson with a diatribe on this one.
  • The Supreme Court. At first glance, I thought, oh great, what a bunch of idiots, they’ve ruined something else.  Then, I began to hear the arguments of free speech and I thought I’d better take a closer look before I casually set my mind against something.  Turns out, I was right to begin with.  This is not free speech.  If anything, it’s speech that is bought and paid for with corporate money and it squeezes out the actual free speech of the citizen.  And, while this is certainly an oversimplification, I’m sure it won’t be long until we see “President So-and-So, brought to you by ExxonMobil Corp.” or possibly Congresspersons with national brands emblazoned on their suits as product placement for viewing on C-SPAN.  I’d say I’m amazed that the court came to this decision, but nothing really amazes me anymore.
  • Healthcare. I’m not surprised it failed.  I’m saddened that it did, if only because this means it will take longer for people who really need health insurance to get it.  I’m not even really sure who to be mad at.  The Republicans, sure, that’s the easy target.  But, the Democrats weren’t making it easy to get behind with their constant alterations to woo votes.  It all seemed like typical politics which only disenfranchises the American voter.  Americans need health insurance, or we need a system where being sick or getting sick does not cause undue hardship.  I’m thankful to have wonderful health insurance and I simply can’t fathom how different my life would be if it were not for decent, affordable medical coverage.
  • Toyota. Have you guys been taking lessons from Ford and GM?  I love my Corolla and I consider Toyota to be one of the most reliable, safest, well-engineered cars on the road today.  Let’s just hope that this issue is a blip on the radar screen.  Still, I’m not saying that I’m blindly loyal to Toyota.  Does your company make a car that gets excellent gas mileage and has safety ratings with more stars than the Milky Way?  Let’s talk.  I need a form of transportation that gets me and my family from here to there safely without unnecessary trips to the pump.
  • Gays in the military. Is the military simply another in a long line of bastions of ignorance when it comes to the life of a homosexual?  It is my understanding that the military trains its personnel to march, shoot, crawl, stand at attention, and obey orders regardless of sex, or skin color, or religious affiliation.  Why shouldn’t they be able to instill that same training in homosexuals?  And why should it matter to anyone else?  This “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is merely a face-saving form of discrimination.  My grandchildren will never understand why we didn’t see this issue for the fallacy that it is.
  • Wrap up. John Edwards, creepy.  iPad, unnecessary.  Tiger Woods, shameful.  Tea Party, loony.  And, finally, am I just missing the boat on Lady Gaga?  I tried to listen to her music, but I don’t see the genius that everyone keeps going on about.  Of course, I never cared for My Morning Jacket either and look how big they became.

That should just about do it.  Got a problem with any of it, question me about it on my formspring page.  I’ll try my best not to make it such a long time in between postings again.  I know you miss me.  By the way, C. and IvyCat are doing great.

See you in the funny papers!