No, this isn’t going to be a blog about Halloween, even though it’s the perfect date for it.  No, today I’m writing about poor sportsmanship and how it seems to run rampant in “professional” sports these days.

The most recent one that I know about was at Game 7 of the World Series this Wednesday.  The Kansas City Royals were at bat and one of their players had just hit a great ball to get on base.  The Giants pitcher then proceeded to hit the next batter, Salvador Perez, which garnered him a free base.

I didn’t know there was anything wrong with this (thinking it was just a REALLY bad pitch) until Craig made a sound of disgust and explained how it’s unwritten that, if a pitcher gets “shown up” by a batter, he’s “allowed” to hit the next batter in retaliation.

SERIOUSLY?!  WTF is that?!  Not only is it an infantile response, but it’s not even punishing the “offending” batter!  Not that that makes it any more acceptable, but that whole “sins of the father”–or in this case, teammate–bullshit is just that . . . bullshit!

Sadly, the poor sportsmanship doesn’t end there.  There are ridiculous rules all over “professional” sports.

In hockey, fights are allowed, and apparently even encouraged.  One of the players is known as the “Enforcer,” who–according to Wikipedia– is there to ‘deter and respond to a dirty or violent play by the opposition. When such play occurs, the enforcer is expected to respond aggressively, by fighting or checking the offender. Enforcers are expected to react particularly harshly to violence against star players or goalies.’  Expected.  Let that sink in.  We punish our children for retaliating when they’re hit (or bit or whatever), but when they get older and join the Ducks or Penguins, Go ahead!

And football might have the biggest bunch of rules designed to encourage unsportsmanlike behavior yet.

For instance, in the NFL, there are measures put into play so that one team can’t get too high a score.  When a certain team reaches a score that’s 35-40 points higher than their opponents, then it’s required that they put in a lesser player in order to even the playing field again.  And, if the opposing team still isn’t good enough to catch up, they start to cry “Not Fair!”  Though to be fair, this pity party due to low scores attitude runs rampant in other sports as well.

There are also lots of relatively recent rules designed to keep the quarterbacks safe (like the Quarterback Slide), but unfortunately, those new rules have also largely changed the landscape of the game, resulting in silly new rules and even sillier calls.  I’m not saying that we need to go back to the injury-ridden days of football in the 70s and 80s, but it seems to me that football is a violent and dangerous sport that includes being tackled by 200+ pound men, and anyone who wants to play the game should know and be willing to accept those risks.  Otherwise, play flag football.  It’s like boxers wanting to hit each other with pool noodles so they don’t end up with bloody noses.

But, sadly, I can’t lay all the blame for these things on the players or rule makers.  It appears that most fans agree with these things.  With hockey, the enforcers are often among the most popular players on their teams.  And the Giants’ fans cheered when Perez got hit in the leg.

I’ve never been a big fan of sports, but the more I learn about the different rules, the bigger my dislike.  There’s just too much childishness running rampant in sports today; on both sides of the stands (including the ridiculous rioting that went on in San Francisco after the Series).  I’ve never been a fan of that kind of immature behavior among children, but at least they’re young enough not to know better.  When this sort of shit is allowed (and in some cases, encouraged) in fully grown adults, it sets the worst kind of example to young, impressionable kids.  And how can it not leak over into those players’ personal lives?

But that’s a rant for another time.  For now, I’ll simply say Boo to “professional” sports and their dishonorable rules and players.

Bad Sportsmanship

Brain Fried!

For the last several months I have been working on a project that has consumed my brain; planning a two-day offsite meeting for 60 executives at the company.    Thankfully I’ve had help from the other admin in my group, but we were both still highly stressed, especially as the event drew nearer.  Not to mention the fact that we also were expected to do our daily jobs, which consisted of multiple travel arrangements and changes, expense reports, calendaring and general “Help Me” questions that come up throughout the course of our day.

As I’m sure most of you can agree, that kind of stress and focus does something to your brain; it fries it.  Like those old commercials with the egg in a frying pan. I found myself feeling like I didn’t have a handle on anything else in my life, which I probably didn’t, just because all my energy had to go to planning this event.

I don’t like feeling like that.  I realize that I don’t have control of every situation that comes my way, but there were moments that I truly felt lost, and I really don’t like feeling lost.

I’m someone who tends to become highly focused on whatever task I’m taking on, and any interruptions (whether it’s a short question asked in person, or an in-depth email or phone call requiring a detailed answer) tend to throw me out of whack.  And this last month–with the intensity building up the closer we came to the event–it was like that every hour of every work day.

In the past, when people disturbed my working day, I apparently responded in a very curt way.  I’ve actually been told by some people that they thought I was upset at them.  I’ve since tried to soften my reaction to the interruptions, and have begun to explain that I’m in the middle of something else, and can they please email their request to me.  Thankfully, people have taken that approach really well, probably because they understand what it’s like to be too busy to take anything else on.  I’ve also had to learn to leave the emails alone until I’ve finished with my current task.

Those new skills came in quite handy during this recent slammed phase of my working life.  They helped me to not feel like I had to take on every single thing people wanted me to do right at the moment they thought they needed it.

Unfortunately, it didn’t help when it came to my home life.  Thankfully, Craig was great about helping out–many times without me having to ask–but when I would come home from work I had so little energy left, that I rarely did anything other than flop down on the couch and watch TV.  And there was an additional bit of stress with a co-worker, so that I was often in tears or wishing I didn’t have to go in to the office.  So that didn’t help matters much.

When the days of the event finally arrived, they were also stressful–herding 60 people to different activities often is–but I was able to handle that pressure more easily, because I knew after Day 2 that it would all be behind me, and life could go back to normal.

Another good thing about being in the midst of all the hoopla and intensity was that it forced me to reevaluate what I was taking on in my life even without this extra task.  I had to decide to put a couple of things on back burners for a while until other areas in my life settled down.

I’m now a week and a half on the other side of the all-encompassing 2-day event, and I don’t feel fully relaxed or back to my usual self, but I also don’t feel quite so brain fried anymore.  Now my brain is just simmering.  😉

That’s Icky!

A few weeks back I wrote about some of my food issues.  I truly have so many, that I thought I’d write a second one to explain a few more of them (sadly, I’m sure there will be at least one more blog on this topic, maybe before the year is out).

Texture is a HUGE thing for me when it comes to food.  And I recently read a study that’s showing how texture plays a very important part in eating for many people.  However, when I went to look for it, I found that there have been several studies over the years.  Honestly, just type “Food Texture Study” into Google and see how many different ones there are.  Yet it’s funny to note that so many people I discuss this topic with give me a blank stare when I mention texture.  They lose the stare when I explain further . . .

I don’t like tiny, grain-like substances.  For instance, I LOVE hominy, but can’t stand grits (which, for those not in the know, is finely diced up hominy).  I’m also not a big fan of rice.  I’ll eat fried rice on occasion, and I’ve come to realize that I enjoy wild rice, but white rice or brown rice . . . yuck!

I’m also not a fan of what I call “barely there” substances.  Cool Whip?  Ugh.  In fact, the only sort of whipped cream I’ll ingest is from a can and then ONLY in hot chocolate, sometimes.  I prefer mini marshmallows in my hot chocolate, thank you very much.  I realize both are basically just made of sugar and air, but there’s more to a marshmallow.  You can at least sink your teeth into one and chew it.  I don’t even like meringue.  I LOVE Lemon Meringue Pie, but I always take off the layer of meringue, and try to do it with a different utensil than the fork I’ll eat it with; I REALLY don’t like meringue.

But the biggest one for me is foreign substances in food.  I have actually stopped eating a food for years at a time simply because I took a bite that had some odd, foreign substance in it.

For example, tiny bones in canned tuna fish.  It doesn’t happen often, thankfully, but the last time I took a bite of some that had a tiny bone in it, I honestly didn’t eat tuna fish again for several years.  I also have a strong aversion to eating a real beef cheeseburger and discovering a hard piece of gristle or cartilage in it.  Even a small bit of egg shell in an omelette just sends shivers through my body.  I don’t know if I can explain it very well, but biting down on something that my brain “knows” doesn’t belong in whatever dish causes the aforementioned shivers, as well as a strong gag reflex.  In most cases I’ll stop eating the dish (even if it’s the first bite), and will avoid said food altogether for a while (or, in the case of eggs, only eat them at home).

Slimy is another texture I can’t get into.  My mom said that I loved liver when I was younger (probably because I was considered anemic), but the last time I remember eating liver, I was in my tween years, and I was so disgusted that I haven’t touched it since.  There was a sliminess to it that still makes my skin crawl.  That’s also the main reason you won’t EVER catch me trying clams, oysters or snails.  I’ve heard too many people describe them as “slimy” or “rubbery,” or else they’ve said how you shouldn’t chew it, but just swallow it whole.  Well, I’m sorry, but the thought of that makes me imagine swallowing a big glob of phlegm.  *SHUDDER*  No.  Thank.  You.

So now you have some more insight into my weirdness in relation to food.  Stay tuned, there will be more.  But please don’t think I’m too crazy . . . I just don’t like eating things I think are icky.

Cherries vs. UPS

I recently had an issue that resulted in a $160 loss due to poor customer service on the part of UPS.  But first, some back story . . .

I LOVE black cherries!  I’ve loved them as long as I can remember.  My mother once bought a 10 pound box of black cherries for me, and I ate at least five pounds of them within a span of three days.  I love their texture, and I love their sweetness, and a few years ago I learned that there are several different variations of black cherries.  This helped me to narrow down my preference to the Brooks and Rainier varieties.

Unfortunately, sweet cherries have a very small ripe season; late May to Early June.  Fortunately, there are several farms an hour’s drive from Alameda where people can pay to pick their own cherries.  So for the last few years, my family and I trek out there on a Saturday and pick several pounds of those delicious purple orbs.

This year, I thought it would be a great idea to pick enough cherries to last the year until next season, so we ordered a small freezer from Home Depot’s website to accommodate all that we’d planned on picking.  When we found out the delivery date was a Monday, we decided to pick the cherries the Saturday before, so they’d be able to be pitted & ready to store in the freezer.  Craig, Athena and I went out to Brentwood and picked over $160 worth of cherries (nearly 50 lbs worth).  Hey, I said I liked cherries.  😉

Unfortunately, when I checked the UPS site to see when my freezer would be delivered, it appeared as though they “lost” my package, and things only got worse from there.  On Tuesday, it looked like my package had been “found” again, but each time I called UPS I was told “it will be delivered before end of day today, ma’am.  I even got one person who told me that when I called at 11p that night.  “I can assure you, ma’am,” she said, “your freezer will be delivered before the end of the day.”  “I can assure YOU,” I replied.  “That there is no way your drivers are still out at this time of night, as it’s nearly midnight.”  Trying to get a straight answer from people about what the hell had happened to my freezer.

The freezer finally arrived at 7:30p on Wednesday . . . damaged.  But that wasn’t the worst part.  The worst part was that–by the time the freezer arrived–the $160 in cherries we’d picked were spoiled, having sat around the house with the June temperatures heating our house.

Any time I called UPS to complain and ask for a refund on not just the damaged freezer, but also my cherries, I was told that I’d have to take both matters up with Home Depot.  “But my cherries are ruined because of YOUR drivers,” I told them.  I didn’t think that Home Depot should have to pay for something that wasn’t their fault.  However, no matter how many people I talked to (and I had an inside person at UPS do some digging for me), I kept getting told to take it up with Home Depot.

Home Depot graciously refunded us the cost of the freezer, but was only willing to offer us a $75 gift card for them.  I’m grateful that they did that, even, but it still rankles that UPS didn’t somehow get dinged for their egregious errors.

Someone suggested that I talk to a local news group that might be able/willing to help me recoup the rest of the monies from the cherries, but I’m not sure I want to fight this anymore.  I was angry for the few days before the freezer finally arrived, and absolutely livid to find it arrived bent and broken.  I was even angry for the first few weeks after that, while I tried getting properly compensated by UPS.  But now four months has passed, and I’m not sure what “good” it would do me to rehash everything again.

I can tell you one thing, though, I won’t be ordering anything from Home Depot’s website again, and I’ll think twice before ordering from anyone who uses UPS for shipping.

How about you?  Have you had a similar issue when ordering something?  I’d like to hear your take on it.  Did you go to a higher power to get recompensed?  If so, how did that turn out?

The New Feminist Movement

As you may or may not be aware, Miss Emma Watson recently gave an impassioned speech at the UN on gender equality.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly suggest you do so now . . . go ahead, I’ll wait.  Click the image below, or–if you’d rather read the transcript–click here.

Emma Watson at UN

She brings up a very good point that I’ve experienced myself from time to time . . . the “shame” of calling yourself a feminist.

My mother raised me to believe that all people were equal, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, skin color, etc. and I’ve carried that on through my life (Thanks, Mom!).  But over the years, the word feminism got bandied about and was, for a while, used largely in conversations about lesbians.  Then, there was even the term “militant feminist,” which was WAY less appealing.  I’d heard some definitions of what a militant feminist was, and I began to question whether or not I wanted to be associated with that group.  So much so that even recently, when someone asked me if I was a feminist, I gently said “I’m not entirely sure what that word means anymore, but I think I am.”

But hearing Miss Watson’s speech helped clarify things for me.  I AM a feminist.  Thanks to her, I understand better that being a feminist doesn’t mean you’re a man-hater.  Which is comforting, because I’ve NEVER been that way.  I don’t even harbor a lot of the clichéd assumptions about the male gender.  Yes, I agree that–in many ways–men and women are wired differently in our brains, but that doesn’t mean that one sex is better than the other.  We both have strengths and weaknesses.

I was also glad to learn that feminism isn’t just about equality for women; it’s about equality for BOTH genders.  I’ve never been a fan of the concept that men “have” to like sports, or be closed off from their feelings, or shouldn’t cry, etc.  Regardless of what equipment you’ve got in your pants, you’ve got emotions roiling around in your head and heart.  Studies are finally showing the negative impact of raising a boy to “not be a sissy,” or to “toughen up.”  I know for me, when I’ve tried to hold my frustration or sadness or whatever in for too long and “toughen up,” I can actually feel my emotions boil hotter and hotter until I finally have to blow off steam.  Many times, a good crying jag helps.  It lets me release the built up tension inside.  I’m exhausted afterwards, but I’m also much more clear-headed.  It’s the clear-headed feeling that I love, and I now make myself cry by watching a sad movie when I feel the pressure building up inside.  Why would we EVER want to deny someone else that calming release just because of some antiquated definition of what a man “should” be?!

As for that stupid concept that a man who is in touch with his feminine side, or cries, isn’t a real “man,” or is gay, or whatever lame label people want to affix, my husband, Craig, cries at movies that touch him, is in touch with his feminine side (he’s even begun to notice when his monthly cycle comes on), and he’s DEFINITELY a “man!”  He loves sports (and is thrilled that football season has finally started up again), he loves to build things and tinker with mechanical objects, and he’s 100% NOT gay, thank you very much! This may be TMI, but our sex life is more fulfilling to me than any other “man” I’ve ever been with.

But back to Miss Watson and her wonderful, enlightening speech at the UN.  Not only has she helped me to be proud to call myself a feminist, but she’s also been inspiring others, as is evident in this letter a 15 year-old boy sent in to a newspaper in response to her speech.

I’m SO thankful that the younger generation is willing to see what many of the older generation doesn’t; that these stereotypical labels that were assigned to the sexes decades ago aren’t useful or helpful, and never have been!  And it’s not just women who are involved in creating this gender equality anymore, as seen in this clip by Joseph Gordon Levitt.  There are other male celebrities who are up to the task of getting rid of these stale stereotypes.  There are also LOTS of non-celebrity males who are up to the task, but I know that many people look up to celebrities as role models, so it’s nice to see them supporting something I can get on board with.

So the next time someone asks me whether or not I’m a feminist, I can gladly and proudly announce that, Yes, I am a feminist!  Because, it’s not about man-hating; it’s about erasing these degrading (for both sides) lines that keep us from truly accepting and understanding each other.

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