Posts Tagged science fiction

The Reality of Reality TV

Why is the SyFy channel showing more reality dreck on TV? I pay for this channel so I can watch reruns of TV shows that engage me with quality story lines and B-movies that make me laugh at their horrible special effects. I don’t need reality; it’s mundane and trite.

As I lie in bed recovering from minor surgery, I was hoping for an escape from all the details I’m missing by not working, not writing (dissertation), and not parenting. When a trip to the bathroom becomes the highlight of my morning, I need to move on.
Daughter turned ten this week and now constantly reminds everyone she’s officially a tween. Next thing I know, she’ll want the car keys.

Meanwhile, today at son’s school, Santa is visiting. Yes, I think it’s the first week of November but the Big Man gets pretty busy this time of year. So, last night wife and I encouraged son to make a list of what he wants from Santa. See- Santa told me he wants to give him a bike, but the first words out of son’s mouth, “Zero bikes!” This might pose a bit of a problem…

As son was being toweled off and daughter was in shower, she had no problems spouting off everything she wants. Yes, I said it was her birthday recently and I may have mentioned she won a Kindle Fire HD and has an iTouch, but she wants a computer. I think it’s time she got ahold of some lowered expectations. I imagine Santa might be suggesting a bike for her as well. Heck, why don’t we all ask for bikes!

Speaking of bikes, I continue to research the best possible options to improve my tour de force in the 2nd leg of my next triathlon. I am hoping that a sale will occur at the same time that I actually have cash to buy one because they never seem to coincide.
I’ve noticed that sales are tricks, friends, meant to steal our hard earned cash by “enticing” us with a slightly better model for a modest increase in price. No, I want the cheap one to be cheaper. I don’t want the more expensive one to be just a touch pricier that I spend more money.

This is a lesson that I learned in college, not through education, but late night TV viewing. One night the wife comes into our apartment and catches me, phone and credit card in hand, buying…you guessed it! A Body by Jake Total Fitness Gym that had interchangeable bands for weighted resistance. Best damn clothes rack I ever bought!

Well, I won’t get any good feedback from the doctor until next week when the stitches come out and I get a set of X-rays. My fitness goal is to be cross-training until January 1st then hit the pavement. I have 9mos to reach my goal. Speaking of which, I saw a tweet that said Ironman Florida sold out in 30min. I just hope I get a starting spot at the 70.3 Augusta.

It seems SyFy has a whole damn day planned for Hollywood Collector so I guess I could actually read. My latest book is I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. Lets hope I never find out because I know they serve it in Heaven. Hey, wife! Get me a beer and make me a ham sammich.


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Embracing the suck of an intergalactic fracture

Stardate: 58365.1 Sector 001, Atlanta. It was 4 degrees Celsius and I was dressed in shorts, a long sleeve t-shirt, and Mizuno running shoes. It was the Atlanta Marathon and I knew I could run the distance. As I started from Turner Field, I paced myself- not running too quickly with the lead pack. I’d been in that situation before, but 26.2 miles meant careful planning. At mile fifteen, a monkey jumped on my back but I had enough energy to run over and hug daughter, 9.2 to go. When I hit “Cardiac Hill” (for those of you familiar with the Peachtree Road Race) I slowed to a crawl. Then, cramps… I had to make it. As I rounded Capitol Avenue to see the Olympic Rings, I told my running companion, “Let’s make this count…,” and sped across the finish line with family cheering. That’s what a race feels like. That’s why we do it.

With training, setbacks come and go; each one seems like it’ll be the end of the road. You take two steps back for every one forward. Then the next race appears on the horizon and you know it is a goal worth reaching. Whether it is a fun run or an Ironman, each runner takes a challenge to push themselves farther and faster than before to earn the intrinsic reward of achievement. You spend hours in the pool, miles on the road, and days of recovery only to be sidelined by an insidious, barely visible crack that runs through your tibia and the doctor suggests surgery.

This is not my first rodeo, daughter and son barely know the “healthy” me, having seen me undergo surgery after surgery to repair the “blue light special” fracture of the day. Health is not a goal, it is a drive to meet the needs of my family; but I do not train to become healthy. It may be a side-effect, a good one; but, I train to embrace the suck. To prove to myself I can be stronger, faster, smarter.

Wife is the real victim; she works harder to help the kids, care for me, and perform well at work.  She is my Lt. Commander Nella Doran to my Captain Picard. Picard opened his heart up once and it was worth it; my wife is worth every moment we spend together.

Today is Halloween, and I am going to dress as wife’s husband, and son and daughter’s father. You don’t need a costume to make that look good. Sometimes, you just need to show up. The next race is the May 11, 2013 11Global Olympic Triathlon at Lake Oconee. I’ll be there because sometimes you just need to show up.

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Bounce house bounties and the big oh-four

Thanks, TM!

The wails resonated through the empty garage from the front yard. It’s been 3minutes since Jumptastic! inflated the “All-Around Sports” Bounce House. Both excited, son and daughter raced inside and started laughing, giggling, bouncing…then, crying. Son was sobbing while covering his left eye and daughter groaned holding her hip. We had two hours until the party started and neither kid was happy.

I remember a Simpsons episode where Homer bought Bart a trampoline. As the day progressed more and more bodies lined the perimeter of the circle of death. Kids were bandaged, bleeding and other wise broken. As I stared at the bounce house, I was concerned with its safety but everything appeared to be okay. The main flaw was at the point of egress. Kids would bounce down the step in an attempt to quit and then bounce one final time head-first onto the concrete driveway. Luckily, no insurance companies have contacted us to introduce litigation.

Several months ago, wife suggested we host a party for son’s upcoming fourth birthday (after all, what’s more important than the big Oh-Four? Don’t ask wife about this…she’s working on speeding headlong into the big Four-Oh).  We had to work it into the schedule and finally had the opportunity for the past Sunday. We invited all of his friends and their parents; we turned football on the TV; we set up a “beverage center” and even had a popcorn machine.

While enjoying the newly constructed patio under the deck next to the play area, a friend from church and from the neighborhood were conversing with me when all three of us heard a shocking utterance. Is it possible for three grown men to mistake profanity (two of whom are teachers)? To this day, I swear one of the girls dropped the F-bomb. We all snapped our heads around towards the craft table. We looked at each other and quizzically asked, “Was that …?” Out of the mouth of babes…

The rest of the day went well, the Transformers cake featured both Optimus Prime and Megatron with a black and silver frosting adorned with mechanical gearing and red piping. Little did I realize that I would have the opportunity to see that color again when my son yelled, “I WENT, daddy, I WENT,” the next day in the throne room, or more specifically, circling the bowl.

The weekend was full of fun. The day before, Chuck E. Cheese hosted a birthday party for two boys from the neighborhood. Wife went and took son. After a 10mile run, she raced with him to the play center and rode rides and watched chromatic lights blink on and off, whirling her in a daze to the couch at home, nauseous to the point of danger.

Finally, Son’s birthday arrived and the grandparents came to visit, bring gifts of trains and trucks. Son’s favorite gift was a large green waste truck with lift arms in front and a dumpster. This is the one toy he wanted to take in the shower, sleep with, and spend every waking moment the next day speaking of it. This reinforces the idea that he wants to be a waste-management consultant when he grows up. Either way, he’ll be a real American Hero!

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Space Toilets and The Chicken Tree

Son is a picky eater. Well, not really. He simply doesn’t eat anything but crackers, pretzels and dry cereal. He’s not picky, he’s stubborn. Last night during dinner, I had to excuse myself to make room for more. While busy, son tells wife, “I don’t want to eat chicken; it comes from a live animal.”

Wife replies, “Oh, no…this came from a chicken tree.”

“No, it didn’t. It came from inside a chicken.”

“Seriously, son, would I lie to you?” asks wife.

Son eats chicken, but with a quizzical look and smirk on his face. You know he knows something is fishy about this story, but hey, mom said it.

Now, before all of you chide wife for “fooling” son into eating meat. Yes, my family consists of four omnivores and one dog that’ll eat non-food items as well. Why does a dog eat seven sand dollars then proceed to vomit them up on the hardwood (thankfully not the carpet)? And, I know some of you are concerned with the less-than-honest approach. Just remember what your parents told you…

My mom and dad used to tell me at bedtime (while the sun was still up) that it was really nighttime even though I could hear the kids in the neighborhood hooting and hollering. Parents hide the unpleasantness of life without remorse; in fact, they’re glad to do it: “Seriously, honey, this won’t hurt.” My father ripped a toenail off my little toe one day when I was at the beach. IF I remember correctly, he did the old, “1…2, rip”. What a minute! Where the heck was 3?!?!? Lying is a state of mind. Have you ever told your child you were going to let him have a candy if he’s good in the store then conveniently forgot? The slope to the high road is VERY steep.

Getting back to omnivorous eating habits, have you seen the food replicator on Star Trek? What is that food made out of? The way I understand it, the starships recycle waste and filter its “goodness” out. Basic science tells us nothing can spontaneously generate. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. I might think twice about ordering that chocolate dessert in Ten Forward. Or, do aliens even have bathroom issues? I think an episode dealing with exploding toilets would have won an Emmy.

I recently read an essay where the iconic television series and literature we grew up on has made their way to mythological status. Whether it’s Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, people know the history of those worlds better than our own. I asked a class how different religions have gotten along in the past. Most of the students thought they had tolerated one another. Since each student had taken World History, I asked if anyone remembered the Crusades. That didn’t go so well.

The moral of the story is lie to your kids ONLY when it benefits the child and don’t eat food on the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701).

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Boldly going where I’ve gone before

My last day of summer was spent in an orthopedic surgeon’s office learning that I had suffered a stress fracture during Tri the Mountains in Blue Ridge, GA. So, everyone at work on Fridays asks what happened, what now, do you own stock in casts? Really?!? That’s what I had to look forward to heading back to work. Meanwhile, my dad watched the kids since I was at work and they had not started school yet. Bonus: I drove the latest Lexus SUV to work. Man, people gawked at me… No, I didn’t hit the lotto. Trust me, had I won, I wouldn’t be working.

Last night, family went to Matilda’s in the ’05. It is a BYOB music venue where local bands can gain a wide audience. We went to see a friend’s band. While I was there, I spoke with a neighbor who is more into scifi and fantasy than I am. Get this…She wore a Superman T-shirt to see Stan Lee. The horror! Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory would have busted a nut. I am more like Leonard except 10 inches taller, no PhD in physics.

Today, I had to force son to STOP cleaning with the swiffer. He did it for an entire hour. It sounds great until he used the sweeper to clean the walls and ceiling. Then, he demanded to watch TV. So, I suggest the Olympics..he says, “No!” why does my family not want to watch that stuff? I mean, Bob Costas can make Water Polo exciting. Well, not really… (sorry fans of the sport) Now, I am suffering through Caillou as daughter slurps on a lemonade Popsicle two inches from my ear. You gotta be kidding me!

Wife is sick but suffers on as she ignores the symptoms with sudafed. Now, son has caught her “cold” and we’ll have a doctor’s visit when he develops an ear or sinus or both infection. Now, he is laying on the dog pillow stating he does NOT have to go potty. The kid holds it for hours. He is BladderMan. Wait! That didn’t sound very cool. In fact, that was gross.

I would like to say this is my first rodeo with a fracture, but then I’d be lying. I am boldy going where I’ve (unfortunately) gone before. I can deal with everything except the same damn questions. If you ask, I’ll tell you, “Shark Bite.”


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Planting the Seeds of the Knowledge Tree

Money does not grow on trees. A ubiquitous cliché that people with money often say to show how hard they worked to get some; we know money doesn’t grow on freaking trees or we all would have money trees in our front yard. But, what if only certain people could afford money trees? Forbes identifies 1154 people that have over $1B,( Read it here) I bet THEY could afford a money tree. Then again, why would they need one when they’ve already got money?

As an educator, I must realize that I’ll never be the wealthiest guy on my block; I’m okay with that since I know that my income is well above the United States poverty line for a family of four, $22,350. With one working parent, that adds up to $71/day for a six-day work week. Most of us complain about working five days. So, educators claim they’re not in it for the money, but I think most of them wouldn’t do it for free. I don’t.

Last night, I was on the phone with mom as she was explaining she needs to see a financial advisor to help her with her IRA disbursements and what to do with them. I offered her my bank account number; alas, she said, “Not yet.” Granted, I want my parents to enjoy the limelight of their lives; they earned it raising me, but free cash? I’d love it; but, nah, nothing is ever free.  As I was browsing yesterday, I saw a editorial cartoon where a financial advisor was informing an expectant mother and shocked father that according to the rising rates of tuition at colleges and universities, they would need to save $4B over the next eighteen years.

That is why I support Georgia’s lottery! It pays for two key programs that all citizens of Georgia who work hard can benefit from. The first one is the Pre-Kindergarten program offered to all students. Daughter loved her Pre-K teacher as did wife and I. Son will soon be in the program at his nursery school. The other program is the Hope Scholarship where students who meet rigorous academic requirements can go to a state college for free. I think I’ll tattoo “Property of the University of Georgia” on son and daughter with the expectation that both will earn the scholarship. If it stays around, that is.

In dystopian futures, the central focus revolves around the widening gap between the lower and upper classes, the dissolution of the middle class. In H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, the Morlocks were originally sent to work underground by ancestral Eloi. In Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Freder discovers a working class hidden below the city from the upper echelons of wealth and power, highlighting the upper class as wearing all white while being filmed with a diffused lens. The lower class marches in time to the ten hour clock wearing droll gray clothing. Freder is the messiah figure that saves humanity from itself.

Is money the root of all evil, or is it a necessary one? If society eventually does away with money (a la Star Trek), what then will be the new currency? I believe it will be knowledge as one can never have enough of it.


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Wife sunk my Battleship

Can you imagine a movie about the game, “Sorry!”? The film industry has lost its freaking mind when it comes to making action movies. Battleship opens up tomorrow and I don’t think anyone is sitting in anticipation to see how the movie will “play” out. Heck, I mean it may be a good movie to watch. To see the trailer, click here: Battleship Trailer on YouTube! As one commenter wrote, “I can’t believe they got all that out of a board game.” The game company, Hasbro, Inc, has had a field day with the Transformers series from early cartoons to the latest movie, Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Barbie made her appearance in the Toy Story franchise..even Ken showed up in his nice ass-cot.

Recently, The Avengers appeared at the movie theater and earned a whopping $250M in its opening weekend. Comic books are not just for Nerds anymore. I remember riding my bike in Fenwick Island from Essex Street down Bunting Avenue to get to the gas station on Atlantic with my father after his daily run to get the paper. Inside there was a rack of various comic books, Archie, Spiderman; I remember even a Scrooge McDuck. Nothing was more thrilling than getting the 25 cents from dad to buy it. Yes, I said 25 cents. I might be dating myself. I think the modern versions of these famed comic book heroes allow us to be kids again. Unless you’re the cast of The Big Bang Theory who still collect comic books, and Sheldon, who specifically uses gloves with which to read them.

I stated yesterday that daughter was reading Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and she wants to see the movie. She swears she won’t be scared, but wife and I have been down that road before. Daughter has read the first three books of Harry Potter and balked at the conclusion of the Prisoner of Azkaban when Lupin becomes a werewolf. I had to turn it off as she ran into the other room. Son loves movies, watching Cars 2 for the umpteenth million time yesterday. Last night, son took his first swim lesson and did not drown, score one for us!

Surprisingly, I am the only one who watches SyFy shows and movies with glee. Prometheus looks awesome but, alas, I will have to wait for it to come to video before I get a chance to see it. Wife simply won’t take me to the movies anymore. Poor me! I used to go on “man-dates” to see movies that wife wanted to avoid, but I haven’t done that in a while. Perhaps, I ought to pick up the phone. What’s better than catching a good flick with a friend?

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