Thursday, March 31, 2011

Roger, Where Art Thou

Roger Federer needs to win some more tournaments. And soon. Although he's an insurmountable opponent for those not named Murray, Djokovic, and Nadal, those guys own him like a remote - picking and choosing when to do with him like a puppet. He continues to perform at an extremely high level, and it is only because I've always respected and admired his game that I wish for his continued success. His reign at number one is likely gone for good, but that doesn't mean he can't win a couple more Grand Slams, cushioning his distance from the charging Rafa. And clay season is coming up. Not good for Rahjer Federera. 

In similar news, American Mardy Fish dropped 30 pounds a year ago and has finally become the best American player, supplanting Andy Roddick. And, he's 29 (practically a mummy in tennis years). While Andy is one unstable loose cannon, I respect all his accomplishments and his work ethic. He's been nothing but consistent the past decade. And he rarely receives the accolades he deserves (partly b/c Pete and Andre set such a high bar the decade prior). Nevertheless, I'm thrilled for Mardy, a career journeyman who's discipline catapulted him into the top 10 (if he wins tomorrow). 

Oh, and in case you didn't notice - baseball stars today. Ya, neither did I. Number 1 out 162. Damn, their season is too long. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Column Link

Hello hello. Below is the link to my latest column. Funny enough, if you're paying attention this has been one of the best years for March Madness. Underdogs have won and Butler or VCU will play in the FINAL! It's awesome. This is more of an on-campus issue, but perhaps you can relate. Quick backstory - AU students again elected a white male president. This is fairly odd as we champion our campus as having great diversity. The candidate who won, has campaigned strongly on diversity. Yet, when a more diverse candidate stepped up to run, he refused to step aside. I'm not exactly saying he should've stepped out and endorsed someone else (okay, I am). That would have been the 'ultimate sacrifice' so to speak.  But it is interesting when self-interests conflict with the values you're really trying to implement.

http://www.theeagleonline.com/opinion/story/obama-mcbride-need-to-pay-more-than-lip-service-to-american-dream/

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Biathlon

In one of the gyms I exercise at, I read a sign detailing an upcoming race. A biathlon. It's a 600m swim followed by a 5k run. Not terribly taxing. Usually, I see these signs, dwell on it for a few weeks, and by the time I would've made up my mind they've already posted the results. Not this time! Instead of being passive, I signed up and even got an early entrance reduced rate. The race is April 10th at 9AM. Or April 9th at 10 AM. Damn it's all so confusing.

Anyway, I've dropped 15-17 pounds since the new year. I was hovering near 200 for awhile. Even as high as 206 at one point. The latest time I weighed myself in my birthday suit I was 185.2. Not too shabby I might say. I think I graduated high school at 175-180. At first I had a goal of 190. After surpassing that, I thought, what about 185. Now I'm thinking 180. And to be honest, it wouldn't kill me to be in the 170's. It's taking a lot of dedication to lose this weight. Primarily changing my exercise routine to incorporate more cardio, eating less, and  not snacking with huge portions. That was my recipe for success and it's been great thus far.

I've done a practice trial run for the race, (after lifting) and it was pretty hard. I tried to run a 21 minute 5-k and then swim a half mile. Back to back is a challenge. I could easily do both with a break in between. It's important for me to have this outlet as life/school has been overwhelming the past few weeks (and will continue until I leave for Asia - more on this in upcoming posts). So, I hope you guys are ready to bask in the sunlight this summer with your trim bodies. If I can be a source of motivation, I'd love to fill that role. Results build on themsleves and while I may be getting a little zealous, perhaps it's better than lethargic complacence...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Column Link

Recently I've been thinking a lot of polyamory. I really didn't know much about it, but always kind of felt this way innately. It's nihilistic, but I feel like it's more natural than many of our current relationships. 

Anyway, here's the link...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Don't Forget the Good

Some of you may know that my financial status has been in disarray for the last couple years. It started with refusing to pay taxes for 2008. Not a smart move. Eventually it caught up with me, and I was assessed major penalties in addition to the couple thousand I owed. I tried to elongate the process as much as possible, filing appeal after appeal and many phone calls. It was frustrating.

Also, I encountered a problem with my health insurance benefits (or lack thereof) as I received a bill in the mail for $2,500 post-surgery. This I also fought tooth and nail. I met with the director of finances, spoke with my doctor and physical therapist and their administrative staffs. Ultimately I was given a charity form, and as the woman handed it to me she smirked, practically predicting I would be denied. So what, I thought, try anyway.

And I did. If nothing else, at least the money is in my account during the appellate process.

Well, as the bearer of good news, both have been resolved recently. After a phone conversation with an IRS employee, he was so moved by my story, he stayed on the line for almost 2 hours and personally abated the fees. He promised that I would receive a notice in the mail detailing his actions (I wasn't convinced as this exact incident had occurred previously). I was happy to be wrong. My penalty's were reduced to a nominal $21. Not bad considering it was originally $653.

The hospital affair was a whole nother story. They required document after document. Then claimed they didn't receive said document (which actually was my bank account information! Of which I caused a fit about claiming I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU LOST MY BANK STUFF AND SOME STRANGER HAS IT - before realizing this argument doesn't bode well when you're claiming I HAVE NO MONEY IN MY BANK ACCOUNT). So that fight didn't last long. They even asked my folks to write two letters detailing my finances on my behalf explaining my penurious lifestyle (um, better not look at the resort pics below).

A few days ago I heard a voice mail saying my fees had been waived. I was stunned. I didn't even request that. All I wanted was a reasonable monthly payment (this is explicitly what I asked for). But you don't look a gift horse in the mouth, so I'm very pleased.

The point of this story is not to boast, but to be grateful for my fortunate resolutions and to remember that when times are tough and Murphy's Law creeps up, that there are also times of great luck to counter the bad. So please don't hesitate to remind me when I rant next about something irreverent. Oh, and one more thing....pay your damn taxes (the deadline is approaching). Or, if you have a few minutes, visit this website and circumvent these taxes (as some of my colleagues do here in D.C.)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Framing

One of my favorite authors, George Lakoff, writes extensively about framing arguments. The adage, even facts can be manipulated is actually quite true. Depending on how a question is asked, it elicits different responses. For example, if I ask you do you think illegal immigrants should be deported for flagrantly breaking the law? Many people are likely to say yes. If I reframe the question - Do you believe undocumented immigrants deserve the same dignity and rights given to all citizens? People will be more inclined to support the immigrants.

Same goes for demonizing a group. I watched a film titled, "Faces of the Enemy" two days ago that describes the dehumanization process artists and writers use to depict the other side as evil. Propaganda if you will. Examining political cartoons across the nation you can see caricatures drawn that unflatteringly show the other side as barbaric, aggressive, ugly, or rabid, while the other side is drawn in a more sympathetic tone. It's easy to pick sides. And as soon as people accept that in fact, there are enemies (never mind the legitimacy of the threat or the distorted image shown), it becomes much easier to pull the trigger. It's much easier for folks to enlist in war. It's much easier to scapegoat and stereotype.

Clips of U.S. military troops repeating outrageous lines fed to them by their commanding officer was astounding. Kill, Kill, Kill! Primal yell! Keep shooting until they're dead! The brainwashing and dehumanizing of American troops (to single my own country out) is despicable. They are taught to robotically and instinctively react. Train them hard enough, and you'll have an efficient army devoid of holes (not to mention conscience).

In another video I watched (both of these I highly, highly recommend if you have free time) called "Soldiers of Conscience" chronicles the journeys of former soldiers who refuse to deploy after their traumatizing experiences abroad. They become conscientious objectors, like me and my father. These brave men have witnessed the heinous crimes committed (many of them personally committed them) and no longer will be part of the war machine. On Monday night, a guest speaker will be coming to my class, Josh Steiber. Steiber is an Iraq War veteran who filed for C.O. status. Many of his peers faced ridicule, assertions of traitor, or cowardice for refusing to return to combat. They were court martialed and ultimately, imprisoned and/or dishonorably discharged.

Later the following week I will meet Paul Chappell, another soldier-turned-peace-activist. While I have many questions for these men, such as, why did you have to join before you learned that it was wrong? I'm proud to have them on our side. I hope to follow up in a couple weeks with how it went. If you have questions you'd like me to ask, let me know in the comment section...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Column Link

Hello everyone. As you can see, I'm back in the States. I have more photos of Mexico to publish if you would like to see them. Maybe I'll just post 'em anyway haha. Below is a link to my latest column. This issue has gotten me in many an argument and it was fairly apt, seeing that I was traveling back from Mexico on the plane as I wrote it. Thanks for reading and your feedback.

http://www.theeagleonline.com/opinion/story/immigrant-language-barriers-no-reason-for-disdain/

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tanning it Up!!!!

Hola Amigos. Estoy en Mexico. Chilling by the pool at the Mayan Palace. And man, let me tell ya, it really is a palace. I have much to blog about and only half a minute so just a quick something to let you know I wasn´t kidnapped by a drug cartel and beheaded (yet). Went to Chitzen Itza, was awesome, got to swim in an underground river which was incredible. The food has been exceptional. Tomorrow Im going to snorkel at la Isla de las Mujeras...the island of the women mmm. And the next day probably Xcaret!!! Developing a good base tan, but have been smart and lathered up most of the day. About to walk on the beach for an hour before playing some bingo. Did some water areboics earlier and swam and got to lift in the gym they have here. Its been truly wonderful thus far and I dont want to come back!!!!! Especially when Ive got tons of work to do....
but this trip gets me the opportunity to ponder my summer future as I have a lucrative job offer on the line. Much to think about...Been reading Griftopia and some magazines like the Nation and such.
Okay, off to a bicycle tour and a beach walk...until next time....PS Pics coming in 4 to 5 days.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Poem and Cancun

So, tomorrow is the big day. I leave for Cancun a la manana. Pienso. The forecast is calling for rain for most of the week. Yippee! I hope the storms pass quick as this boy needs to bronzing up his skin for the summer! I'll try and post while I'm gone but no promises. I will, however, be bringing my camera and promise to post photos upon my return. Until then...I wrote this in class yesterday...

Queen Boss

Trail of destruction I know too well,
It's what I've left for others to dwell,
But I'm not the villain I'm painted to be,
Please take a moment and listen to me,

My actions demonstrate that I'm unaware,
Of the consequences, living without care,
As if I'm devoid of others feelings,
Just a narcissist, wheeling and dealing,

But I am aware of the pain you feel,
Quite opposite from the purveyed man of steel,
No doubt I transition quicker than most,
Shouldn't discount what we had, of which I boast,

Explain how you criticize a spider for having 8 legs?
Something uncontrollable, something innate,
I am who I am for better and worse,
Being honest with myself comes always forced,

Because I'm torn from multiple personalities,
There lies no truth within many realities,
Some decisions I won't try and defend,
By the next day I'd be shaking my head,

With age I've matured with much reflection,
Learned to make amends from prior indiscretions,
Endured the insults I've earned coming my way,
Proven by perseverance I'm sincere, not fake,

Your adamant stance to vilify me,
I can only see as a mechanism for coping,
For you've moved on and are better off for it,
Meanwhile my kindness won't dissipate although I'm ignored,

The depths of my heart sings a song,
Asking you to forgive you from all of the harm,
Instead of repairing and making it up to you,
You allow your stubbornness to preclude,

Any attempt vetoed at reconciliation,
Easier to close off in anticipation,
Because I'm shunned the fact remains,
Nothing ventured, nothing gained...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Column Link

My apologies as posts have been slow, and will get slower as I depart for Cancun in a few days!!! Very excited. And have all but checked my brain out of class this week. Not good. Anyway, below is the link to my latest column published today. As always, thanks for reading!

http://www.theeagleonline.com/opinion/story/daily-situations-present-harrowing-dilemmas/