Saturday, September 3, 2011

A damp start to the season

ND stadium rainToday we went to the Notre Dame season opener against University of South Florida. Hopes are high among the Fighting Irish faithful, but a win eluded us, and we lost 23-20.

It was a little more adventurous than that, though. First of all, it was a brutally hot day. I’m not sure what the high temperature ended up being, but it was hovering up around 93° or so. Add to that a very high humidity level, and it felt like it was around 100°. Those of you who live in areas with high humidity know that it can make you incredibly uncomfortable, and it’s downright dangerous. Your sweat doesn’t evaporate like it’s supposed to, cooling you off, so you pretty much just sit there and parboil. After we had our sandwiches (pretty good, if I do say so myself!), we headed towards the stadium.

I’m not sure when I’ve been that hot in my life, even with wearing just a tank top and shorts. Maybe one time at Disney World (also very high humidity). We had to walk about a mile and a half to get to the stadium, and I had to stop a couple of times to rest. I’m fairly fit and healthy, but for some weird reason (high metabolism? part reptile?) I don’t handle extreme temperatures well. We got some water as soon as we got into the stadium, but I still had sweat just rolling off of me. It was like a wet t-shirt contest, but with sweat instead of water. That’s a gross visual, but it’s pretty apt! All 80,000+ of us in the stadium were in the same boat, though, and we all tolerated the massive stench of humanity that tens of thousands of people exude on a sultry Indiana day.

We were all pretty fired up—almost literally!—for our team, and things were looking good early on. That didn’t last, and neither did the relentless sunshine. The clouds started rolling in, and we started getting a few sprinkles. Considering how hot we all were, it felt pretty good. Then it started getting a little heavier, and Ken and I put our rain ponchos on. By half-time, the Irish were down 16-0, and the Notre Dame band, waiting to do their half-time show, was told to leave the field. They then asked the fans to take shelter, and mentioned several places on campus where you could go, if you didn’t want to stay in the concourse (which is open on the sides). There were some pretty bad storms coming in, with “cloud to ground” lightning, as they put it.

We know Indiana storms well enough to take them seriously, and we went to the concourse. After waiting a bit, checking the radar and seeing some really nasty stuff moving our way, and watching darker skies moving in, we decided to head home. The game had been suspended until the storm moved through, so we weren’t sure when the game would resume. It turned out to be a good decision, because it was a complete downpour right when we got home, and we found out that they actually evacuated the stadium, something that has never happened in the history of Notre Dame. And they’ve been around for a while!

After calling our moms to let them know we were safe at home (aren’t we good kids?), we waited for the game to resume, this time in the comfort of our own home. With a change of quarterbacks, things were looking up, but it was too little, too late. With about 5 minutes left to go, a second wave of storms came through, and the game was suspended and the stadium evacuated again. When they were finally able to start again, I think everyone was just ready for the damn game to be done with. The Irish didn’t give up, and were able to come back and lose by only three points. I’m disappointed, but the team needs to learn from this. I can’t fault the coaching; the mistakes were the players’. There is work to be done, and I don’t know how the season will play out, but they have a lot of talent that they can build on.

So I can certainly say that it was an adventure. I haven’t experienced a game quite like that before! Between the heat, the storm, the walking, and the general excitement, I’m tired and mellow. I might get a second wind and do a little packing for Vegas, but if not, we aren’t flying out until Sunday evening, so I can do most of it tomorrow. I’m just looking forward to sleeping in!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Math is hard!

Girls and homeworkBut not as hard as my math teacher! (I couldn’t resist the Bob & Tom reference.)

Today I came across a post on one of my feeds that showed this sweatshirt available from JC Penney. (See the feed post here.) I posted it on Facebook and asked “Offensive or funny?” I was curious to see how people would react to it, and whether my reaction was typical or too much. I’ll mention the comments, and then write about my feelings on it.

Rot Job wrote: “Yeah, because every guy wants to fuck a moron.”

Elly Bear wrote: “Simply put, sad. Notwithstanding the US slip in educational achievement scores as compared to other countries. For instance, on average, China's children spend 8.6 hours a day at school, with some spending 12 hours a day in the classroom PLUS homework including on the weekends. We might think that's rough, but they're laughing...”

Simon wrote: “Funny! Or, to put it another way, it's offensive about as much as ‘GIRLS RULE / BOYS DROOL’ should be banned for its explicit sexism. Meh!”

Tim wrote: “HUNH? How about nonsensical? Rot - sadly, I know plenty of guys who'd love nothing more....”

Estela wrote: “I think it is funny, but I want to know who has a brother that nice? I sure didn't.... nor do my daughters.”

I think my initial reaction was probably a little too lacking in humor. I won’t go so far as to say that it was offensive to me, but it bothered me on a certain level. I think something like that perpetuates an attitude in young girls that studying and doing well in school is best left to the boys, and “looking pretty” is left to the girls. The further description of the item mentions Justice Beaver, which I DO find rather offensive, but for very different reasons. I’m not sure when this item was for sale, but if you click through, it is no longer available on the JC Penney website.

The title of this entry goes back several years to when Mattel marketed a talking Barbie who really did say “Math is hard!” I didn’t see red or wig out with that or with this sweatshirt; but as someone who went heavy on the science, it does make me worry about what messages we’re sending to young girls with such items. I’m far from the type of feminist that lardbucket Rush Limbaugh likes to call “feminazis.” I take it as a given that I will be treated with the same respect as any man (whether in the workplace or out of it), and Gangsta Bitch Barbieif that’s not the case, then I will address it. Oh, I’ll address it REAL good, believe me. I don’t take easy offense at slightly misogynistic jokes, but I’ll call out true mean-spiritedness. I’m more of the “empowerment” type of feminist, trying to get young women to understand that they can do anything they put their minds to. They don’t have to go into a certain profession or do any certain thing simply because that is what society dictates. They can make their own path, and part of that involves hard work and doing your own homework and not relying upon being “too pretty” for such mundane tasks.

Simon mentioned the “Girls rule Boys drool” thing and said that something that silly shouldn’t be banned for sexism. I see what he’s saying, but I find that sentiment (the drooling boys part) counterproductive and I’ve never liked that whole attitude of “All men are stupid.” Hearing a man say that all women are stupid pisses me off, and hearing women say the same thing about men pisses me off just as much. It perpetuates a ridiculous myth and it’s disrespectful to all parties involved. I understand Simon’s point, and of course I don’t think any such thing should be banned.

But I’d much rather foster an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation, one in which young women understand that there is more to life than looking pretty, and that using their looks to get people to do things for them is irresponsible and a complete cop-out. Everyone should aspire to learn and excel in academics, and to me, such items, even as a joke, are counterproductive to that goal.

Am I irate about this? No. I’m not offended, either. But I don’t care for it much, and I don’t like the message it sends.

Now, the Justice Beaver thing...THAT is offensive!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Blown away

Birthday candlesNo, not by Irene!

Okay, today is my birthday. I haven’t spent a lot of time online today, but I woke up this morning to message after message on Facebook wishing me a happy one. I can’t reply to all of them—I think I lost count at 50—but I appreciated each and every one of them.

There were people who sang to me (What song? “Beth,” of course!), people who posted videos for me, people who called me awesome, a birthday wish in German, people who provided great quotes, people who just generally wished me well and wished me a fantastic day. Some were from relatives, some were from friends, some were from people I’ve met or people I will meet one day, and some were from those who I’ll never get a chance to meet. I grinned as I read them all, and I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed it. I rant and rave there, I act like a brat at times, and more often than not, I’m a grade-A smartass...but you guys seem to kinda like me, anyway. Or at least you tolerate me. That makes me happy.

Those who say that online friends aren’t “real” friends obviously don’t have many online friends! If they did, they’d know better than to say such an idiotic thing.

Anyway, thank you all, very VERY much. I’m still smiling!

As for my day, it hasn’t been all that much different than the usual. Next week will be different (more on that in a moment). I made sure that I got some outside sun/reading time in. Yesterday, we went to see my Mom, and my cousins Denise and Jason stopped by. Mom mentioned that my birthday was the following day, and asked Denise and Jason to guess how old I was going to be. Denise said, “Let’s’re younger than our parents, so I’m gonna guess 50!” I said she was close...I’d be turning 49. Mom said something like, “Well, enjoy it, because once you hit 50, things really start going fast.” The way she said it was so funny, and I said, “So I guess I’ve got one good year left in me!” So, one year...I’d better get busy living or get busy dying!

Thank you2We don’t really do much on our birthdays or anniversaries anymore. I don’t need to go out to dinner on the very night, and I’m not into bling. However, we do kind of save it all up and treat our vacations as our presents. Next week, we’ll be heading to Vegas for several days (not quite a week), and we’ll do some fun stuff there. (First, though, is the Notre Dame season opener on Saturday. More about that this week!) I got us front row tickets to “Viva Elvis!” (the Cirque du Soleil Elvis show), we’re going to do a day trip to the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam, and of course there will be some Blackjack involved! We don’t spend as much time gambling as we first did. It’s still fun, but we can’t spend hours doing it. We’ll also be meeting up with a couple, Bill and Libby, who fall into the category mentioned earlier: “people I will meet.” They are long-time fellow bloggers, and we will be meeting them at the Peppermill Lounge (A fairly historic place in Vegas, and despite living there, it turns out they’ve never been there…perfect!) for some cocktails and deep discussion. I look forward to it!

It’s going to be some hot weather out there next week, but maybe it will burn all the summer out of me, and make me ready for fall. Nahh, I doubt it!

Thanks again, everyone. You’ve made my day a wonderful one. Mmmmmwah!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ms. Antsy Pants

Scared womanI don’t know what was wrong with me last night, but jeez, I was on pins and needles.

I was online for a while, but I grew impatient with that. I read a few things, but didn’t want to spend more time on there. I closed up shop and tried to sit on the loveseat and read my book; I had a terrible time concentrating. I had “Saturday Night Live” on (a rerun), and wasn’t finding much funny. The only thing that grabbed my attention was Paul McCartney as the musical guest, and I kind of dug that. While waiting for him to play again, I tried reading some more, and I just could not get into it!

It’s a rarity for me to feel that much at odds. I’m usually quite content to curl up with a book and get lost in it, but something was causing me to be completely distracted.

I thought about it for a bit (when I’m not feeling quite myself, I try my best to figure out what is going on...that helps me deal with it), and the only thing I can figure is that it was Hurricane Irene. That bitch! When I was online, I was checking updates from all my east coast friends. I was checking on friends I’ve met, friends I haven’t met, and people like Alec Baldwin and Bumblefoot and F. Paul Wilson. I was watching for weather updates and trying to get the latest on what the hurricane was going to do. I felt a deep-seated sense of unease and dread, wondering what would happen to friends and strangers alike.

Maybe it’s because I remember how scared I was earlier this summer when that really bad weather came through, with a real potential for tornadoes. Until I went down to the basement, Shane was updating me online, and when I was holed up downstairs with Sheeba, Ken stayed on the phone with me until it passed. I remember feeling somewhat comforted to have that contact, rather than just being terrified all by myself. Last night, I worried about anyone who was going to have to deal with the winds and the flooding, and just hoped that they would ride out the storm as best as possible.

I have to work at not being a worrier. I make a conscious effort to understand that I can’t control such things, and fretting about it does no good. I had a similar conversation with my Mom today (although for different reasons), and said that she worries about things that worrying won’t fix. I said that I know it’s easier said than done, but sometimes you just have to realize that worrying is pointless. All the worrying in the world last night wouldn’t change anything for any of my friends, or anyone on the east coast. All you can do is hope for the best, but especially hope that they’ve prepared well and know what they’re in store for. I have smart friends, so I knew they were ready. I’m sure people will still be checking in for a while, but those who have are mostly okay.

So while I’m thinking about everyone dealing with the storm or its aftermath, I’m going to trust in your intelligence and fortitude, and hope that you catch a break from Irene. But I’m going to keep telling myself that frets are for guitars.