Sunday, January 24, 2010

accepting the changing tides

I suppose if aliens safely landed on a beach near my home they would be up against a brief learning curve as regards mother earth. In the morning, looking out over the Atlantic Ocean, they would observe the tides retreating and perhaps think that the world is changing. The afternoon would bring the waves crashing back to shore and they may be puzzled. Sunset and the ensuing nightfall may appear as an indication of change once more. Then, within a couple of days, the aliens would probably feel confident in their understanding of this world. They would know, that what at first seemed like change, was instead acknowledgement of the ebb and flow of this celestial body in motion.

The National Football League’s AFC championship game, which re-matched the Indianapolis Colts and the NY Jets today, reminded me of this underlying world order. For today, the Colts did not meddle with the universe. Star players were not going to be allowed to leave the game early. They had no intentions of abandoning strategy for chance. They came ready to apply their full attention, understanding and expertise of football to the field of play. They were even prepared for surprises and willing to make adjustments along the way. They played the game with integrity—and they won.

I am a Jets fan. But the loss doesn’t bother me because both teams gave the game the honor it deserves, and so I know the better side came out on top. Unfortunately, acceptance doesn’t come so easy when I contemplate the future of health care reform verse the outcome of this week’s special election in Massachusetts.

I meet exceedingly few people who have had to deal with major medical issues and who have not had to battle, or succumb to administrative and insurance inequities along the way. Treatments that physicians recommend are often considered unreasonable, uncovered or sometimes even experimental by insurers. For treatments that are covered, hopefully the facility, the doctor, physical therapists, and specialists are all in the network. Otherwise, decisions will vacillate between surrendering huge sums of money, and putting your care in the hands of someone you may not fully trust. And for too many people, foregoing coverage entirely means acquiescing to having an emergency only plan in place.

Certainly much angst has set it among supporters of health care reform in that Scott Brown’s election to the U.S. Senate shifts the tide. The Democratic majority will no longer be filibuster proof. The loss of this one seat combined with the existing level of partisan bickering may shelve any chance of true reform once again.

In the manner of a Jets fan accepting defeat in the AFC Championship, I could accept defeat of health care reform as well. But, the Democratic Party leadership took their eye off the ball, and that makes acceptance easier said than done.

For some bizarre reason they thought they had this race won weeks ago. In the final analysis, it may be that many voters in the Bay State were simply voting for Scott Brown, and not against health reform. But, the early analysis, suggests that Martha Coakley’s camp and the Democratic Party were taken by surprise and competed with about as much integrity in Tuesday’s election as the Colts offered up in week 15 of the regular season. This time though there will be no re-match. I suppose acknowledgement of the ebb and flow is required. I just wish the Democrat's hadn’t acted like aliens from another planet. For if they had been paying attention they would have known about riptides. And maybe they would have given the Republican’s, the Independent’s and the ‘People’ the feeling of integrity that the race for this seat deserved.

(c) 2010 Christopher's Views

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

madman or genius?

An A.F.C. divisional playoff win by the NY Jets, led by head coach Rex Ryan, and a 4 episode season premiere of 24 starring Kiefer Sutherland is about all the adrenaline rush my body can handle over 36 hours.

Taking into account that the Fox Network just rolled out its eighth season premiere of 24, other than a plot change, the action packed drama provided me with few revelations. I did learn though that I prefer Jack Bauer trying to transition into life as an ordinary citizen about as much as I like Superman wearing glasses—no rush at all.

As for the NY Jets, the learning curve was indeed dramatic. All week, prior to Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers, people I know (and some that I don’t) were asking me what I thought about the Jets chances. My consistent answer was that a Jet win was highly improbable and that my expectations were low.

The Chargers are an excellent football team, and they were coming off an 11 game winning streak before this match up. The Jets were 9 and 7 during the regular season. Many critics felt the Jets were a mere .500 team. And if not for the famously debated removal of the Colts star quarterback, Peyton Manning, midway through the third quarter of the Jets-Colts game last month, the Jets would have been watching and sulking from home. Instead, the Jets went on the road to beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the A.F.C. Wild Card contest and stunningly prevailed against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

Only a couple of weeks ago I thought that Rex Ryan was beyond comical and moving toward delusional when boasting that the Jets were headed for a Super Bowl victory parade. Now I wonder if there is a method to his madness. As a team they are getting the job done. Their rookie quarterback, Mark Sanchez, looks more like a veteran than a neophyte. Their offense executes blocks when needed and delivers timely inspiration for their running game. Their defensive play has been tireless and managed to hold the Chargers below 20 points for the first time in 23 games.

Why is this? Are they not the underdogs? Is it all luck? If the Bengals and Chargers could find kickers that would not choke in pressure games would the Jets even stand a chance?

This week the unclassified and still largely unknown Jets will face the daunting task of trying to beat the imposing Peyton Manning and the celebrated Indianapolis Colts for real. Doing so would position the team on the door step of Rex Ryan’s confident Super Bowl prediction.

The odds are still quite improbable. But I am learning that stats are unimportant to a 9 and 7 team. Attitude seems to be their secret weapon. They are being led by a bold man who has nothing to lose. Their lacking fear of failure seems to be providing fuel for their road trip to success. Hopefully, Indianapolis just becomes another stop along the way.

(c) 2010 Christopher's Views

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

words fall short

Last night, as I was organizing my thoughts for a post on a sports related topic, I began to hear the news reports of the powerful earthquake that hit Haiti.

The topic started to seem insignificant. Now, as I see pictures of the catastrophe that is unfolding, words seem incapable of describing the devastation, chaos, desperation and human suffering.

I hope the death toll will be far less than some of the current estimates. And survival will be a true testament of the human spirit.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

the change that cometh

Perhaps not 1,000 words, but these pictures express the 500 that I typically post.

the old

the change

and bringeth on a desire to stow...and even briefly to take out the trash.

Friday, January 8, 2010

mid winter malaise

I’m over the head cold and laryngitis I suffered through most of last month. I am glad about having received my flu shot for the season. I am gradually making my way back to a routine of 3 long runs per week. And I generally like the wintry crisp air and the prospect of time off for a weekend getaway of snow tubing or skiing. But I need to refrain from whittling down my vacation days at least until February. So, if you were to ask me how I feel right now, my response will have to run a bit negative if I value staying within the confines of the honor system.

My truth is that I feel an eerie connection with the character of Phil Connors, played by Bill Murray as he struggles to break a time loop in the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day. The short days and cold bite of winter have transformed me into a creature of redundancy. The arctic air and wind chills which have blanketed New York and most of The United States for the past few weeks have chiseled me into a lethargic creature craving monotony. I am stuck on routines and my brain cells are frosty.

After being jolted awake each day by the dancing of my new cell phone’s vibrate option against the hardwood of my dresser I am ready for duty. I peer out my bedroom window to view the frozen lawns and the expanse of the now lifeless, leftover and weather worn Christmas decorations that no one on my block, including myself, has any desire to stow.

I plug in the coffee pot and the déjà vu begins. I start toward the porch, methodically reaching for the hook that holds my coat and hat. I need to venture out and retrieve the morning paper from the withering basket of holly below the stoop. While outside, I dust snow off my car and warm up my wife’s SUV, as she has a longer commute and is the first in our family to get underway.

My son is in on the repetition as well. At 8am we simultaneously zip our coats, don our hats and reach for our gloves. He wears the school backpack and I carry the lunch. We walk along with frozen noses, whistling and engaging in chitchat over whose freezing breath is more visible. As we approach our last intersection, the position of the crossing guard triggers the day’s strongest allusion that I have landed in the shadow of Punxsutawney Phil. ‘Have a nice day’ we chirp and wave, passing her by, with her white hoodie up and her body planted between the exact same lines as she stood yesterday in the painted crosswalk.

Once on the go myself, I make an automatic stop at the corner delicatessen. As if ready for me upon sight, the owner puts together my buttered roll and coffee-decaf, dark and no sugar. As a sales rep I am on the road much of the day. My schedule has become bogged down by the need for an hourly stop to pick up hot tea at the nearest 7 Eleven or coffee shop. I sit in my car and use their parking lots as an outpost to make phone calls and respond to e-mails as the day proceeds.

Unknown as to why, I have become addicted to eating a brown bagged apple before lunch. I then follow with a sandwich-usually fish or chicken. Green tea is my other slight but welcomed variation. Once back on the streets, I intermittently listen to the news reports on my car radio as I drive. I jot down notes hoping to formulate my ideas later on when I get home. I begin tossing Post-it notes at a growing pile of musings.

As the hours pass and the end of my work day starts to draw near, I find a Chinese take-out restaurant and I switch from hot tea to wonton soup helping me bridge my appetite from my last appointments to home. As I take this final break, I become aware that I have no place left on my dashboard to post and so I begin to read my scribbled forethought's. I am left wondering if Yemen is on a watch list. Is Cuba off the watch list? Is Joan Rivers under surveillance? Have the repair crews fixed the surveillance cameras at Newark International Airport yet? Will our airports be first in line to receive full body scanners, or have the NBA locker rooms been given priority clearance? What crisis will Jack Bauer foil this year, and will my cable provider allow me to view it on FOX? Will health care reform get enacted, or should I proceed to the nearest terminal B for my annual physical? Should I wear boxers or designer briefs for my next flight?

I leave the unanswered thoughts on my console like an unsolved crossword puzzle. I have fallen victim to a global contagion and I cannot connect the dots.

Sometime shortly after 8pm, I pull into my driveway. I step over the emaciated holly and enter through the front door. I greet my love of 27 years with a kiss. I study her facial lines ever more carefully now. My timeline for going berserk from recurrent dreariness is becoming narrow. I fear not being able to indulge my late night cravings and sustain a supply of Mallomars that will last until spring. My current box is due to expire on January 19th. I need change soon.

I hold out hope that a chance NFL playoff win by the NY JETS, after a long hiatus will snap me into a new day. Otherwise, quite soon, I may need to test my facial recognition skills and render my dearest with a flattering ice sculpture at midnight as a way to reveal a new me and a new dawn.

For now though, I will apply a healthy dose of moisturizing lotion to my dried out hands, close my eyes and await the morning bell.

(c) 2010 Christopher's Views

Sunday, January 3, 2010

the wrong approach

Several years ago, during a round of golf on the challenging Bethpage Black course, I made an astonishing tee shot that resulted in one of a very few pars that I have ever made at this site.

Reeling from miserable play for my first seven holes I haphazardly grabbed a 3-wood as I approached the eighth hole. The eighth is a par 3 hole, about 200 yards long and downhill from tee to green. The proper club selection calls for a mid to long iron. But I was frustrated, demoralized and still had eleven holes to play. All I was thinking is that I did not want to land short of the green. Being short would likely mean adding a few too many penalty and recovery strokes to my already overworked scorecard as I would have to dodge pond water, bunkers and the rough that my balls were so far magnetized to detect. I speared my tee deeper than usual into the launch pad with my right hand as I tried to recklessly compensate for holding the wrong club at my left side. My swing featured a precisely straight back swing and a full and hefty follow though. The ball screeched off the center of the 3-wood, and in a line drive fashion, hugged the downhill slope perfectly and more rapidly than any ball I had ever hit. In what must have been less than three seconds from club impact, the ball impacted the flag pin half way up and thankfully dead on. The thud clanked loudly enough to unnerve not just my foursome, but it turned heads on several nearby fairways as well. The errantly hit ball was traveling too fast to drop straight down the pin and into the hole, but hitting the pole dead on did take out most of its energy. The ball rolled about 15 feet away onto the green and with two subsequent putts I scored a rare par on the Bethpage Black. Yes indeed-I was lucky.

‘Yes indeed-we were lucky’ is what Janet Napolitano, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary, would have been better served to say over anything else she was trying to piece together to spin and minimize the attempted terrorism aboard Northwestern Airlines flight 253 on December 25th. I do not think it is fair for her to pay with her job, as some members of Congress and the media have since suggested, for her strange choice of words. I suppose I’ll just wait to see if she manages to ace the handling of her next crisis. Until then, my impression of her is about the same I would have of someone who would try to convince me that a line drive dead on off the flag pin is the way to par the eighth hole while playing Bethpage Black.

(c) 2010 Christopher's Views

Friday, January 1, 2010

ringing in the new

wishing you all good fortune on this
sleep in late
take an Alka-Seltzer
bad hair
gather the Post-it notes
buy a calendar
clear the clutter
quit smoking
stop drinking
join a gym
start to run
begin Pilates
commence a diet
engage a hobby
take up painting
register for a class
change careers
open a business
patent an invention
remodel the kitchen
set up a college fund
learn to golf
learn to fish
learn a language
learn to fly
follow a dream
reach for the stars
hopefully slow news
grab the remote
TV marathon
couch potato kind of
Happy New Years Day!