Sunday, October 25, 2009

Moving On, Football-Wildcats-Yes, Raiders-Not, Movie Review

Okay so the triathlon season is over and with 17 finishes under my belt for the year I should be kicking back and taking life real easy. Well that is what I am doing and it just doesn’t seem to fit after the 7 month drive to do all the races I could in the challenge series. So what happens is that the mind and body get regimented towards the fatigue of training, the monotony of packing the bags, loading them up then un-loading and putting things up when you return. Then as the week progresses and you know you leave again for the same thing you are conditioned for it, but when it isn’t there anymore there is this sense of emptiness that says, damn when will the spring get here? Even a long motorcycle ride or going to the football games just doesn’t provide the same feeling of competing and feeling that great fatigue you get from swimming, biking and running against the competition and clock. One of my favorite things about exercising is the feeling during, and after, especially the long hot shower. This current feeling is not to be confused with depression since I have only had that once in my lifetime and it was overcome not through any kind of drugs but simply saying, “hey dude move on it could be worse,” then when it got worse I just met it head on again and overcame it. No different than starting a 26.2 mile marathon after swimming 2.4 miles, riding the bike for 112 miles and getting off the bike with huge blisters on the ball of both feet. Now how does this happen, beats me but it did and has never happened again. So, it makes a good story and also illustrates how we can overcome adversity to reach favorable results. Recently I finished the new book “In A Single Bound”, by Sarah Reinertsen and found new inspiration for just about everything in life. This young lady is probably one of the toughest people I have met in a long time. Since I know her personally it made reading the book even more enjoyable. I suggest that everyone in this world read this book and gain the same inspiration I have. It will make you fully appreciate all of the good things in life and how to overcome the adversities in life. While it is not really a “hey I did it this way, so you should do it this way”, it is just simply her story of how she overcame the amputation of her left leg when she was 7 due to a birth defect. She has become a world champion in running and triathlon, so get this book and enjoy it. Her web site is, and the book is available on Amazon or contact her through her web site.

This weekend has been full of football, at least that what it is for the Littlefield Wildcats. I watched them play on Friday night and they won again and lead their district. They play solid, winning football and are a pleasure to watch. It will be fun to follow them through the playoffs again this year. Their winning legacy started in 1936(yes, I know 72 years ago or better said, two year before I was born), and it was fun to be part of it during my high school years. Then the other side to the weekend watching of football was the Texas Tech Red Raiders last night, in a defeat while they watched Texas A & M smother them or better stated, “eat them alive.” Texas Tech has always had this magic of winners playing like losers and sometimes looking so bad that you wonder why they have uniforms on. I have been watching this school play since the early 50’s and I swear they never change. They get you on this big high when they beat someone who they are not supposed to beat, and then they lull you to sleep with the dream that they really are good, and then the nightmare becomes reality. They just don’t know how to put it all together for building a truly winning legacy. While they have had good winning records for some years, like last year they gained a lot a national attention with their 9-3 record and win over the Texas Longhorns, but then fell hard in the their bowl game. Now people around here think they should win every game, but it is just not in the cards for Tech to win every game. They are what I call winning/losers, a term I just came up since it seems to apply to them. In addition to watching them get run out of the newly enlarged stadium I also had to put up with the crowd, the parking, the walking and then have two jokers in front of me stand up through the complete game. Guess I am just not a fan in that I like to sit and watch the game and then if a good things happens, or when the nation anthem plays I will stand up, but not the whole damn game. In addition when some people directly behind him (he was 4 seats down from me but since he stood on the top of the actual seat he stilled blocked my view) ask him to sit he told them he was there to root for the Raiders and be damned with them. Funny thing is when the tide turned for the Aggies he was gone like a bullet, and then returned when it looked like they might come back. While he was gone another guy directly in front of me starting standing up, wow, now I know why I only go to one game a year. One of my past times at the games is to adjust the focus on my binoculars by looking at the cheerleaders (females), poms, and majorettes, so these clowns sure made it a challenge to get my binocs focused. But, I did get it done and had a clear view around their neck bones. Go Wildcats, suck it up Raiders!!

Movie Review: “Law Abiding Citizen”, ****, Gerald Butler stars as a family man whose wife and daughter are brutally murdered during a home invasion. The killers are caught but, against his objections, a Philadelphia prosecutor (Jamie Foxx) offers one suspect (the actual killer) a light sentence in exchange for rolling over on his accomplice. Ten years later, from his jail cell, Butler’s character begins to orchestrate a series of assassinations as revenge. This a well done, uniquely presented movie with all kinds of suspense. For example, why was a special deal offered to the actual killer and not the accomplice, or why was Butler in jail while taking out his revenge or who was his accomplice in doing this since he was in jail? It has the puzzles of a serial killer setting and keeps you to thinking, after you recover from some of the graphic violence. Well inquiring minds will want to know and you must go see this movie. Rated R for strong bloody violence and torture (understatement), a scene of rape and pervasive language.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friday Night Lights, The Hog, Movie Review

Over the years I have witnessed the art of watching the game of football evolve in many different directions, i.e. the grass/dirt field, hard wood stands, no cover from the elements or protection of any kind. Now we have the billion dollar stadiums that do not allow the elements to get close to you and God forbid that they play on natural turf and get their uniforms dirty. In the case of the team owner, better known as the master egotist in the mid-cities, you can even watch the game on a giant television screen held high in the air and never have to look at the field. Now that really doesn’t make sense to me since you have just paid $70.00 or more to come into the stadium and watch the game on the big screen. Why not just stay home and watch it for nothing? While you can ponder that for a while I would like to share with you the art of really watching football old fashion style in West Texas. There use to be a television show called “Friday Night Lights” and people would ask me if I ever watched the show since it was based on high school football in Odessa, Texas. Since I do not watch regular TV I actually never saw one episode of the show; however, in real life I lived “Friday Night Lights” so I was not interested in watching some fiction about football in West Texas. My first introduction to West Texas football was when I entered the 7th grade in Littlefield, Texas and it was love at first sight. I had a gift of speed in the running department so the coaches put me in the backfield and I got to carry the ball a lot. I also noticed that the cheerleaders seem to like the guys that scored the touchdowns so I made it a point to score every chance I got. This speed carried me all the way through Jr. High, High School and College, so I was always thankful for that gift. One of the things I learned in Littlefield was that football was king and don’t argue with it. At noon on Friday the town was basically closed down, just the necessary services stuck around, and it was off to the Friday night game. I also noticed at the games that there was an element that watched the game but never went into the stands to have a seat; they just followed the game up and down the field to whatever down line the ball was on. At that time I thought that was kind of weird that we had those nice stands to sit in and these guys (never any women in this group) never sat down. While the guys that carry the down marker chains and down markers themselves are called the “chain gang” I also thought to myself that these guys following the ball up and down the field were also “chain gangs.” Now to bring us to modern times I find that most of the new stadiums, even in high school do not allow the chain gangs and you must go into the stands to watch the game. Well last night I went to see the Littlefield Wildcats play the Idalou Wildcats(since Littlefield has always had a winning football team, and started setting the standards in winning way back in the latter ‘30’s, I really do not think Idalou should be able to use the Wildcat mascot. My reason for this is based on their past winning history which is somewhat shabby compared to the Maroon and White Wildcats of Littlefield, so I plan a blog protest in the coming months) in a very import district game. Littlefield came in the game with a 4-1 record and Idalou was 4-2, so this could be a good game. As I got there I noticed that all of the seats were taken and that led me to exploring the possibility of doing the modern day chain gang and watching the game standing up moving up and down the fence line as the ball moved. While there was a chain link fence to keep us off of the area needed for the bench, players, coaches, etc., the fence was low enough that not only could we see over it, we could also lean on it. Forgot to mention that I paid $3.00 to get in and stand up, but even if I had found a seat it was still $3.00 so I considered this a great bargain on Friday night. As I took my position for the kick off I quickly noted that I could really see how big these high school guys had grown to and realized how much bigger they are now than when I played. I also had the opportunity to smell the grass field, and after the game started I noticed the hitting of the pads, and the grunting, spitting and groaning that goes on during play. My position also gave me an insight as to things the coaches were yelling out to the players. Wow, playing was never like this and it really made the game interesting. Then to my delight I noticed a former classmate that was in my graduating class some 52 years ago, that was following the game on the fence. Fact is this guy is a real authority on chain gang watching football. I have never seen him sit in the stands and he would run, duck under things, move within the crowd and do whatever it took to see what was going on. I didn’t make a move myself to go up and down the field since he was doing it and when he came back to my end I would just get a re-cap. On one play I said, “well it looked like they had moved the ball to the 10 or 15 yard line, but I really couldn’t tell,” he immediately said, “13 yard line.” So, I knew I was in good hands with this fellow chain ganger. As the game progressed I noticed where the hitting sounds seemed to get louder and the coaches were even louder. While Littlefield was winning the game there were times when the “other” Wildcats were making some dent into actually winning this game. So, we all got real serious in watching and felt that we were going to pull it out. The game was not without some drama and at times I was concerned that the Green/Yellow Wildcats were going to get the idea that they should win this game. At half time I did watch the bands play and felt that the performances were very good and as close as the game had been. But what do I know, I don’t know anything about marching bands, except for what Balls has taught me, and I just think they both looked good. The biggest disappoint now in the high school bands that I have seen is that they don’t have the good looking girls twirling the batons like they use to. Possibly another subject for future blogs. Now we are starting the fourth quarter and the Littlefield Wildcats have just scored and made the score 35-16 and they were able to hold on for the victory, moving them into a solid first place. Congrats to the Maroon and White Wildcats and possibly I will see them play again next week.

This past weekend was a great weekend to ride the Hog and I did for two days for a total of 800 miles. Some guy came up to me during one of my rest stops and ask where I was going and how long was I going to ride. I explained that I was not going anywhere in particular, just getting miles in and burning gasoline. Seems kind of stupid I guess, but it is nice to ride new roads and see different settings. One road got me off into the oil patches and the big trucks that carry the platforms for oil derricks became a real pain. This prompted me to find a better road and after getting started on it I was afraid it was going to lead to a sign that would say, “End of pavement.” Since Hogs are not really good for off road I was hoping the asphalt would last, which it did. One thing I noticed is that all of the riders I saw on the road were also riding solo, with no large groups of riders going or coming, must be a trend this time of year. Now with triathlon season in a slumber I will get some more riding in tomorrow and make that Hog a happy camper.

Movie Review: “Marley and Me”, ***, This movie has moved on to cable and I watched it a couple of nights ago. A very good dog story with some very good acting. Sad ending but done very well. I suggest this movie, but if you have an older dog in the house(Buffman is 9 so that is not old) you should be sensitive to the subject matter and ending. Rated PG—nothing bad going on here.


Sunday, October 04, 2009

Red Bull/Adrenal Glands, Failure Alternative, Movie Reviews

For most of my life I have heard the word “adrenaline” used many times and have used it myself while not really knowing what it is or where it comes from. From all I know it could be a can of Red Bull inserted somewhere in between my brain cells or butt cells, but I do know it exists and has been credited with many physical feats. It appears that it is never applied to mental feats but only to the physical side. So, I consulted Mr. Webster and found that there are two small adrenal glands just above the kidney, and they are the dudes that enable us to do super things with our body and mind. I have heard stories of people doing super strength things that were attributed to the adrenal gland. You see long distance athletes who run for 26.2 miles and then pass out at the finish line or other athletes who are able to do their thing until the bell rings and then it is over and they have nothing left. This is the adrenal gland working on over time and then when it is over, poof, you’re done. I know of Ironman triathletes who train for 12 months to prepare for their next Ironman distance race and then when they have completed it, pooooffff, they are done for a while. So what happens here? The adrenaline junkies will tell you that there is just so much allocated for each feat and then it needs to be built up again, both mentally and physically. My thinking is the mental buildup is more the reason, since if you have the mentality to start training again then the two little cute glands just above your kidney is ready to rock and roll also. Finally to the point of my story (sorry the adrenal glands are really working this morning, since I haven’t posted in a week), and it concerns my goal to win my age group in the Southwest Challenge Series, for triathlon and duathon. It all started early in the year when I was able to chalk up some first place points and put myself in control of my destiny. With great advice from my friend Balls and my desire to do everything I could to win it, I became somewhat obsessed with getting it done. But I also conditioned myself to believe that if I didn’t get it done I had at least done everything possible to achieve it. So, I was leaving nothing out there for the imagination and focused my mind and body towards this goal, no matter what my competition did. While I knew Mr. John LeRoy was much faster than me I also knew I could position myself at races and get some good points. On the other hand I also knew that at some races I would be faster than usual because of the adrenaline gland factor and the, “just having a good day factor.” Fact is I had this happen at one of the races, knowing past history of the competition I would probably get a second and with the help of the almighty glands I took a first. So this taught me never to over look the opportunities that come up and always be prepared to exceed my expectations. The month of September was an extremely trying and tiring time, with 5 races in the month and two on one weekend I was ready to take a break. But going into the last race of the month I was slightly ahead in the points and needed only the finish the Elephant Man Triathlon (by far the most difficult Olympic course in the series) and I had the Championship. By this time I had driven over 6,000 miles, had completed 16 triathlons and still had a 760 round trip to drive for the Elephant Man. I planned out the week with light workouts, rest (even though I did bowl on Wednesday night, and had two beers). Since I was traveling by myself I would not be able to sleep while Marti was driving, so I planned on some naps along the way at road side parks. After arriving in Elephant Butte, NM I found that the lake was in good order (wetsuit temperature water), and the high ground temperature would be around 90. Bottom line here is that the race went well, I finished 2nd and beat my time of last year by over 4 minutes and took the overall SWCS hardware for the 70-74 age group. After it was over so was the adrenaline in this old body, if there was a measuring gauge on my left butt I would say it would register a bit EMPTY. This week I have done 1,000 yards in the pool, bowled, napped, worked some, gone to two movies, been irritable and really wondered where my next adrenaline rush will be coming from. I considered riding the Hog but the weather got a little rainy, so now I am juicing up on Red Bull and hitting the key boards so hard I have shattered my nails and knuckles. Oh well, now we know more about this “adrenaline” rush thing, so let’s get ready to rumble at Kona, and Clearwater. No racing but we are in charge of the motorcycles, so we have a job to do. Now I wonder, what am I going to do about the SWCS in 2010??? I wonder??? Thanks again Balls!!!

My of my favorite books that I keep handy is “Life’s Greatest Lessons”—20 things that matter, written by Hal Urban. It is a great book and I really recommend it; however, it has got one chapter that really rocks me on and one that I do not totally agree with. But I am trying to see his point of view and warm up to it, since he has sold over 250,000 of these books and must know what he is talking about. While I have never liked to use the word failure he likes to really expound on it. So much so that he makes failure seem like a stroll through the park and not a bad thing. As I read it more I am seeing his point. While my definition of failure has always been, “learning experiences”, I see how my thoughts and his thoughts do have strong similarities. After all Thomas Edison claims he didn’t fail 10,000 times in developing the electrical light bulb he just discovered 10,000 ways that it would not work. What brought this entire “failure” question up was when we decided not to put on the Giant Side Motorcycle Rally in 2010, after laboring over it for the past two non-profit, break even, years. So, to determine if this is a failure or another great lesson let’s apply the Mr. Urban smell test for failure—1. He says, failure teaches us humility, and shows us we are not invincible. MG- Well we learned that well and have taken our licks from the Hog riders of America and are now humble. 2. Failure teaches us to correct our course of action, and forces us to try a new direction. MG-glory be, we have seen our shortcoming and will try a new direction, no more motorcycle rallies in our lifetime. 3. Failure teaches us that we can’t always have what we want, even when we do what we thought was right and what the motorcycle riders wanted. MG-it took two years but we did get it after this year. 4. Failure teaches you to move on and search out those things that best fits your life style, attitude and what makes you feel good. MG-Urban really didn’t add that last one, so I did. We have consented to bring the Centurion Cycling racing to Texas and will be working with Graham Fraser. Now that is within our comfort zone!!!

Movie Reviews: “The Informant”, **, this is a true story, presented in comedy format, about the highest-ranking whistleblower in American history. Matt Damon stars as Mark Whitacre, who blows the whistle on his company’s price-fixing conspiracy to the FBI. However, when the feds require more evidence, Whitacre plays at being a secret agent, envisioning himself being hailed as a hero. Of course he gathered over $9 million of this stolen money, and used bi-polar disorder as his excuse. Rated R for language.

“Surrogates”, *, my feeling is that if you want a good nap go see some of this sci-fi stuff. So I did, and I got a good nap. Not even Bruce Willis can bring this boring piece of film out of the ditch. It is sometime in the future way over 2400 a.d. when there are surrogates who do the work for the actual humans, who lay on some kind of plugged in modified dentist chair while the robot does everything for them. Then for some reason there is a weapon designed to kill all of this robots. Kind of like I feel about cell phones, twitter, texting, you tube, my tube, your space, my space, and all of that garbage. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, disturbing images, language, sexuality and a drug-related scene. (This rating was obviously written to get your interest, I don’t remember any of this, of course I was asleep through most of it, and fact is I was told that I even snored, good for me!)