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Thursday, January 31, 2008
Career Goals
My niece and nephew went to the circus last weekend. They were telling me about the circus last night and all the animals and acts they saw under the big top.

I asked my nephew is he was going to be in the circus someday as a lion tamer or some other cool circus-related job. He shook his head.

"So what do you want to be when you grow up?" I asked him.

"I am going to be a superhero," he replied.

"Which one do you want to be?" I asked.

"One of three," he said, holding up three fingers. "But I think I'm going to be Superman."

Now, as a Spider-Man fan, I have to admit to being a little disappointed in myself for not sharing enough of my love of the world's greatest superhero, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. I consider this a challenge to myself to help him understand just why Spidey is much cooler than any other superhero around.

Of course, I also wondered if Superman retired and how one went about applying for the job. And I guess that someday when he does get the job as Superman, I will be in trouble for this blog post. I fully expect to be taken hostage by Lex Luthor as part of some evil genius plot to defeat Superman. But I'm not worried...with my nephew as Superman, there is no way Lex will succeed.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/31/2008 07:26:00 PM | |
Thursday, January 24, 2008
A rally cry
Earlier this week, I posted my condolences to the family of Rick Burgess on the loss of their two-year-old son. For those of you who don't know Rick is one of the hosts of the syndicated radio show, the Rick and Bubba Show, which I listen to daily.

Tuning in Monday, I wasn't sure what to expect. Would we get a clips show? Would any of the staff be there? How would what happened be addressed? As I tuned it, I heard a lot of heartache, grief and shock over this. But I also heard the message that was posted on their web-site Sunday--keep offering glory to God even in this storm.

I heard about the Godly man Rick was in this time of trial. And how he had a desire to speak and share a witness at his son's funeral Tuesday afternoon. What Rick shared and spoke about is here, in three YouTube videos. They're long and will run about 30 minutes in total, but I can't recommend listening to them enough. It's worth the time.


Part One


Part Two


Part Three



All I can to what Rick said is, Amen, brother.

And what can I do today, right here right now, to glorify God and show His glory in my life, right here, right now.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/24/2008 01:03:00 PM | |
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
How do you react?
Earlier this afternoon, I was sitting in my big comfy chair, watching a few minutes of a Star Trek: Voyager repeat when my doorbell rang. I wasn't expecting anyone to come over (my family and friends are good about avoiding the "pop-in" without calling first to make sure I'm awake) so as I looked out through my peephole, I was puzzled as to who these two strangers were on my doorstep.

It's here I encountered my first dilemma. I don't know these guys from Adam so do I bother to open the door? Then my mind starts thinking--maybe it's new neighbors or they're having car problems and what would I hope someone would do to help me or a member of my family in a similar situation. So, I opened the door a bit.

And within ten seconds regretted it. Apparently, they were in some kind of contest to get points somehow. And if they got enough points, they got to go to Paris all expenses paid and they were in competition with this team of girls and yada, yada, yada, my eyes started glazing over. At this point, I had heard enough, pointed out the neighborhood had signs that asked for no soliciting and whatever they were selling, I wasn't interested. I then shut the door as I heard one go "Dude, come on!"

I closed the door and thought for a few minutes. I'm pretty sure these guys don't live in the neighborhood, so calling the home owners association gains me nothing in the long run. And let's face it, the cops have real criminals to catch, not just two guys whose only real crime (so far) was annoying me. (They could've been casing the joint, but maybe I've been reading too many detective stories of late).

Was I rude? Or just direct by not wasting both parties' time?

Then, after figuring out which episode of Voyager was on and recalling the basics of the plot, I gathered up my workout gear and headed to swim laps and then spin class.

So, I get there, get into my swimsuit (sorry ladies, no pictures) and head out to swim laps. As I approach the pool, I see one lane is filled with the swim team and the other two each have one adult swimmer. On a bench near the pool, a woman is waiting. I walk up and look around. She looks at me and starts talking to me.

"You won't get in," she says. "I've been sitting here waiting for them to invite me to share. And the lifeguards aren't bothering to enforce the rule about sharing the lanes."

"You'll wait until doomsday for the lifeguards to bother enforce the rules to benefit the lap swimmers," I say. I look at the two lanes and come to a decision. "I guess I'll try the more direct approach."

I walk up to the middle lane. I stand next to it and the swimmer notices me. I notice that it's a familiar face who is a regular, even though I am not sure what her name is.

"Hey, you want to share?" she asks.

"Thank you, I would," I reply and get into the water....only to feel the other woman's eyes glaring through me.

I start to swim and as I stop one time to get my hand paddles, I hear talking to another woman about how rude I am for cutting in line and I should have given her the lane to share.

Which let me point out here--a whole other lane has only one swimmer in it. All I did was be a bit direct and approach the lanes instead of waiting. If you swim with goggles, they can get fogged up in the water, making it difficult to see all the way to the bench where she was sitting. And I had given her the example of how to do it politely and without being rude.

And the final straw--the swimmer in the other lane is a lifeguard, so she knows the rules. And you'd think would be the first to follow them.

So, was I wrong? Is there a better way I could have handled it? Am I am a jerk?

Discuss and show your work. Partial credit will be given.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/22/2008 07:44:00 PM | |
Sunday, January 20, 2008
The true meaning of the word
It's so easy to misuse words in life. The past couple of days, I've used the word tragedy to refer to a situation in my life that was, quite frankly, anything but...

Then, along comes news like this. The youngest son of radio host, Rick Burgess died yesterday. Rick is one half of the Rick and Bubba, who host their daily, syndicated radio show from Birmingham, Alabama.

I don't know Rick or his family. We're not friends, but I do spent a couple of hours each week, listening to Rick and Bubba on the radio. I've met him once for about ten seconds when he autographed a copy of their second book for me last summer.

Reading the news, I'm reminded of what real tragedy is. And my thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this painful time.

But I also have to say something else. Go and read the note on the official Rick and Bubba site about the news. Somehow in this time of pain, the Rick and Bubba family is offering praise to God, praise in the most difficult of circumstances. And in that, they are a great example of how I want to and should be walking as a Christian.

For that example and for the life of this young boy cut tragically short, I give praise. And I offer my heartfelt sympathy and prayers to the family during this time. And I hope you will remember this family in your prayer time in the days and weeks ahead...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/20/2008 10:56:00 AM | |
Saturday, January 19, 2008
As I turn 35...
So, I'm turning 35. And while turning 30 was no big deal to me, somehow the thought of turning 5 just seems more monumental than just "another age on the exercise machines." As I've been thinking about turning 35, I've been reflecting on some of the stuff from my life. So, I decided to turn those memories into a post. Plus, you know, so I won't forget them all in my old age...

And since, I'm turning 35, I thought I'd throw out 35 memories...
  1. One of my earliest memories is walking through some incredibly high snow banks with my dad to the base exchange in Kansas City, Missouri. Chronologically this may be the earliest memory I have...
  2. ....or it maybe this one. I had heart surgery at age three. My only memory of it is being at the hospital and I'm not sure if it's pre-surgery or post-surgery. My dad was there in his Air Force uniform and it came time for him to leave. I can clearly see him walking to the elevator, getting on and then the lights being turned off for the evening...and being kind of frightened even though my mom was there with me.
  3. I recovered from my heart surgery and later that year, my mom had to go to the hospital to give birth to my sister. I recall spending the day at the neighbor's house, wondering when my mom would be home. That night, I had this incredible nightmare of being chased by the gorilla from the old Sampsonite commercials and screaming for help. At one point, my dream split into four separate corners, each one with a gorilla jumping up and down on a suitcase as it chased me.
  4. I remember my Grandmother coming to stay with us after my sister was born. I can still see her getting off the plane.
  5. We lived in Hawaii for four years when I was growing up. We'd just moved there and went out to one of our first days on the beach when I got stung by a Portugese Man of War. Think of a jelly-fish sting only more intense
  6. Just after we moved to Hawaii, I was at a squandron picnic with my family when I fell off (I believe it was) the jungle gym and split open my bottom lip. I had to have stitches in it which was not a lot of fun. My school pictures that year show me with the stitches.
  7. I loved boogie boarding in Hawaii. I have a lot of great memories of riding the waves at Bellow's Beach. We also stayed out there in cabins on the beach.
  8. Our base housing is Hawaii didn't have a guest room, so when my grandparents came to visit, they'd stay in a hotel downtown. When my Grandmother and Granddaddy visited once, they invited me to stay in their hotel room with them one night and I was pretty excited. But a death in the family forced them to cut short their visit on the night I was due to stay. I was pretty disappointed.
  9. Growing up, Star Wars was the new, big thing. I had a good collection of Star Wars action figures that I kept in a lunchbox. The base needed to install some underground stuff and dug a huge ditch through our yard. The ditch was a great mysterious alien world for my Star Wars guys to explore. (See, I was destined to be a Doctor Who fan from the beginning--since a lot of the alien worlds on the classic series are rock quarries).
  10. I broke my arm while we lived in Hawaii. I fell off a set of balance beams, which were basically big wooden steps with a gap in between them. You went up to the highest one and then came down. I got to the highest one and can clearly recall seeing the next step down and thinking--this looks like a huge gulf. I then fell and landed on my arm, breaking it.
  11. My mom had this cake pan that when cooked and decorated was the torso of Superman or Batman. (It came with a plastic, removal logo of each superhero). My first few birthdays, I had either a Superman or a Batman cake that my mom would make and decorate herself. If I recall right, I may have often had one of each--one for my b'day party and one to take to school. Or that could have just once or twice...
  12. While we lived in Hawaii, we'd come back to visit family each summer. We were visiting my grandparents in Memphis one summer when there was a heat wave. I recall the pool being as warm as a bathtub.
  13. My mom's side of the family holds a family reunion every year on the same weekend in August. For years, it was held near Nashville at the home of one our relatives that was on a lake. All the kids went swimming in the lake in the afternoon and I recall that no matter when you got there, it seemed like forever until you got to get in the lake and then it felt like it had only been ten minutes before your mom, grandparent or other family member was saying it was time to get out...
  14. Part of the lake experience was in the afternoons, an aunt would get out her boat and run it up and down the lake. If you were old enough, you could try or learn how to water ski. I never got to because by the time I was old enough to water ski, the location had moved.
  15. Part of the joy of family reunion was for one day, you could drink as much soda as you wanted. Soda was brought in bottles and put in big tubs of ice in the backyard with a bottle opener on the tree.
  16. One year, Coke was holding a contest where you collected letters under the bottle caps to spell out a word and win. My cousins and I tried our best to collect all the letters, but it didn't happen.
  17. I'm not sure if this was just a one year thing or it was there for many years, but in the lake, there was a huge block of styrofoam tied to the dock/pier. I recall trying to climb up on it and then falling back into the lake.
  18. My Grandmother made the best apple pies in the world.
  19. My Granny made the best fried catfish in the world. The catfish was fresh and sometimes it was catfish we'd caught fishing with her or my Grandpa.
  20. One time while traveling from Virginia to Memphis to visit family, we stopped to visit the campus at UT. I clearly recall visiting the Hill, seeing Neyland Stadium and thinking how cool it would be to go to school there.
  21. We lived in Mississippi for a year after we moved back to the mainland from Hawaii. We lived in Biloxi and I have memories of going out on docks to watch friends use shrimp nets to catch shrimp.
  22. We moved to Mississippi when I was in the third grade and I was excited because I got to ride my bicycle to school.
  23. Moving cross-country, back before cell phones, we had two cars equipped with CB radios. My sister and I had trivial pursuit games that we'd play across the CB waves.
  24. In high school, I was recruited by the University of Alabama for a while. I recall getting all kinds of packages from them. I honestly cannot imagine having gone to Bama...nothing against the school, but I just can't see myself pulling for Alabama.
  25. I was on the journalism staff in high school and one month I wrote an opinion piece that we should all show courtesy to each other. Apparently this was controversial as I got death threats. I'm not joking...
  26. My Grandpa smoked cigars and would sit on the porch of his house watching the world go by.
  27. One time he convinced me to count cars. Now to understand why this is funny, you have to know my grandparents lived out in the country and their roads were not even close to heavily traveled.
  28. Grandpa would always tell me these wild stories of things he was going to trade me in for.
  29. One of my last memories of my Grandpa was a time he and Granny came to visit us in California, sitting on our deck as he smoked cigars and told me stories from his life.
  30. My dad coached a couple of teams I was on growing up. I also recall he made a tee-ball tee for me out of PVC pipes and other stuff. It was pretty cool.
  31. When I think about my Granddaddy, I think about times we spent with him teaching me how to hit a golf ball or throw a frisbee correctly or tossing the baseball in his back yard.
  32. I also recall that he ate Special K cereal with strawberries every morning for breakfast. (Or so it seemed to me at the time).
  33. Granny and Grandpa had a friend named Danny Thomas who grew corn and would give us some if we came and picked it. When I first heard his name, I thought they knew the famous Danny Thomas. (Or at least my mind thought there was a famous person named Danny Thomas...)
  34. Two moments in history that I recall where I was when I heard the news: the Challenger disaster and 9/11.
  35. On a less world-altering moment, I recall the moment in 98 I knew that UT would win it all...it was as Travis Henry plunged into the end zone with time running out against Arkansas to preserve our undefeated season.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/19/2008 04:46:00 PM | |
Friday, January 18, 2008
Gratuitous Birthday Post
It's that time of year again--time for my yearly gratuitous, send me some b'day love post.

Yes, tomorrow I will turn the big 3-5.

On the one hand, you're only as old as you feel and I keep trying to remind myself that it's really nothing more than just a different option on the machines at the Y. On the other hand, I can't help but think--man, 35...that's old!

Anyway, I will be celebrating this evening with family and tomorrow with 20,000 of my closest friends clad in Big Orange. Some people have the yearly ritual of a spank for every year. A couple of years ago, I decided to challenge myself and swim a full lap for every year old I was. And to try and do them all without stopping to rest in between. Because I won't be able to get near a pool tomorrow, I've done that today and I've just got to say--back when I started doing this when I turned 28, it was a lot easier.

But, I keep reminding myself that I'm blessed to be healthy and able to do that many laps and to enjoy it. Of course, the real treat comes this evening when I am going to enjoy a great dinner at Maggiano's with the family. That's where the real payoff for the laps will come.

So, shamelessly, I now open the comments to all of you. I know, I know, I'm begging for the birthday love. But ya know, it is my birthday...

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/18/2008 12:03:00 PM | |
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Quote of the day
"You know we can get a picture of just about anything with a camera phone these days except Bigfoot or a UFO." --Bill "Bubba" Bussey on this morning's Rick and Bubba show.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/17/2008 08:00:00 AM | |
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
TV Round-Up
The Sarah Conner Chronicles: "Pilot" and "Gnothi Seauton"
I should preface all of this by saying that while I enjoyed the first two Terminator movies a great deal, I'm not as big an afficianiado of them and their continuity. I say this because I've noticed a lot of on-line discussion and debate related to liberties taken by the series with the continuity from the first two films (apparently this incarnation is ignoring that the third one took place, which is interesting since it's from the same production team).

The thing with a show that involves time travel is that you can't really get too attached to any one continuity I think. For one thing, it will ruin a lot of the fun and for another, if you think about it too much, it will make your head hurt.

So, I approached the two-night premiere of Sarah Connor with the expectation that the series would be reasonably entertaining and hopefully set up its own kind of identity and continuity within the Terminator universe.

So far, so good.

I'll admit the second episode was the stronger of the first two episodes for me and I can see why FOX would want to air them close together. Had the writers' strike not shortened the season, I could even have seen them airing together as one long pilot for the show. But we're running low on new content (except for reality shows) and we've got to stretch what we can. The first half of the story is really about reminding viewers of the situation, what happened in T2 and putting the various characters in play. The second half is more about coming to grips with who these characters are and expanding some of the mysteries the show will (hopefully) resolve in its prime-time run.

So, here's what we know so far--John and Sarah are still alive and have time travelled to the future (for them) to escape the apparent hoardes of T1 models that are being sent back in time to kill John. Now, again I keep reminding myself this is a show about time travel and so to think too much about the implications of it will just make my head hurt. But it does seem that a LOT of time-travelling is going here--and not in the good way. The second episode were Cameron says that future-John sent back a group of resistance fighters to provide John and Sarah with identity papers is one of those plot points that only makes sense if you don't think too long about it. Unless there is some other reason to plant operatives back in time to help himself out that is. Honestly, this becomes a bit Bill and Ted like in that John knows--oh I need identity papers, so I'd better send back some forgers to take care of it. And then the machine figure out what he's done and send another Terminator back to kill the resistance cell. So, at this point, wouldn't the machines know that he's sent people back and wonder why. And that might tip them off to the fact that that's where John Connor disappeared to for a couple of years when there are obviously going to be gaps in their database about him?

See, this is what I mean when I say you can't or shouldn't think too much about these things. I guess I should listen to my own advice every once in a while.

So, you've got John and Sarah on the run with the help of Cameron, who is some new model of Terminator we've not seen before. Apparently she's not a T-1000 as we saw in T2. I have to wonder about that and why the future Terminators are now sending back the lesser models to come and get John. And we don't know a lot about Cameron and she's apparently an unknown model. I'm guessing we'll get some answers to this. But until then, we'll get a few "fish out of water" moments and "trying to understand human behavoir" insights from Cameron. And some kind of weird vibe between John and Cameron.

Meanwhile, we've not even really dealt with the name-sake of this show, Sarah Connor. In the movies, we saw Sarah transform from a victim into a lean-mean fighting machine, obsessed with saving her son and the future. Here we see that same kind of determination though she's not quite as mean. Of course, the movie version we saw in T2 was in the crazy house and did whatever it took to escape from there to help save her son. I did find it interesting that there were some echoes between T2 and this show with Sarah ready to head to Mexico with John only to try and save the future instead. That said, I like what we've seen from the TV Sarah. It's interesting that she gets the knowledge that she'll die of cancer from Cameron and starts to try and do something about that. Will it be successful or will this be a ticking time bomb that hangs over the series?

The second episode did a good job of giving us a bit more about the three main characters in the show and really delving into Sarah and what drives her. We knew some of this from the movies but here we have it reinforced in a good way. And we also see what makes her different from Cameron--at least as Cameron sees it.

And the first two episodes alleviated some reservations I had that this would be a show that would involve eluding whatever Terminator had found them this week syndrome. It could still go that way, but it looks like the show is going to try and have its own mythology and storylines to play out within the universe.

So, I will stick around as long as FOX gives it a chance. This being a genre show, that should be four maybe five episodes and then I'll catch the rest on DVD.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/15/2008 03:48:00 PM | |
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Sad news for the Nashville sports community
If you're a listener to the local sports call-in shows (esp. those on 560 AM), you are probably familiar with the caller who identifies himself as Gator Jay or the Wizard of Wharton.

Driving home today, I heard the Jay was found in his home earlier this week by his family, having gone to the great Swamp in the sky.

While Jay could drive me crazy with his blind devotion to the Gators and his clearly Florida-tinted glasses through which he saw the world, he was passionate about the Nashville sports community. And once you realized that a lot of his obsessive rants were an act, meant to rile up fans and have a good time, it was easy to just sit back and enjoy the insanity (though I still doubt Urban Meyer actually gets plays directly from God Himself....we all know God speaks directly to Phillip Fulmer).

All I know is that Jay will be missed in the local sports call-in show community. He was one of a kind.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/10/2008 04:47:00 PM | |
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Moral cost of video games
The Christian Science Monitor's Matthew Devereux has an interesting column today on the video-games of today, one that asks some very interesting questions.

One of many dubious arguments against violence in video games is that children find it hard to distinguish between "real" and "virtual" situations.

If that's true, is CNN not a more pernicious peddler of unsavory material for kids? When kids turn on the TV and see footage of soldiers shooting each other for real, is there any substantial difference between that and playing a first-person shooter game?

Years ago, after the tragic shootings in Columbine, the news media were quick to lay blame at the game industry's door. Could they not as easily have turned that criticism on themselves?

What's surprising about the media's obsession with violence in games is that it overlooks more serious lapses in values. By concentrating on the bloodthirsty and dramatic, they're ignoring influences that are much more harmful to children long term.

He goes on to say:

What games risk instilling, not just in kids, but in anyone who plays them, is a kind of sociopathy: a dearth of conscience. Whether this might be imitated outside of gaming is beside the point. What we should be asking ourselves is if we really want to spend ever more time playing things that encourage these values. That's a moral question, one that's easily sidelined in favor of simply having fun, but it's something we all must consider as the pastime grows more popular.

I'm not calling for stricter regulation of the video-game industry. Rather, I hope to widen the debate to include issues that might not be considered if we believe the sensational, trivial hysteria of the media. By concentrating so heavily on the immediate (and short-term) effects of video-game violence, we're distracted from discussing more important moral dimensions. It's time for parents to stop asking what is appropriate for their children and to start asking what is morally right.

I find it interesting that he moves the argument beyond the violent nature of today's video games and into some larger questions--such as the idea that in all video games, there seems to be the attitude of winner-takes-all and you do whatever it takes to win the game , even if that means breaking or bending the rules. So long as you win and come out on top, the ends justify the means. And that winner-take-all attitude isn't just in the virtual video-game world. The NFL world was shaken earlier this year when it was revealed that Bill Belichick and the Patriots coaching staff were cheating to get ahead by videotaping the calls of the New York Jets. As the debate went on, a lot of people said, "Well, everyone does it...the Patriots just got caught." Which may or may not be true. As a Patriots' detractor, I find it easier to believe that a team and organization I have antipathy for would do such a thing as opposed to the coaching staff of the Titans or the Redskins.

The win-at-all-costs thing is even seen in baseball with the whole steroids and HGH controversy that continues to rage (and shows no signs of ever going away). Some argue that since using steroids wasn't illegal in baseball, why should anyone care? But they forget that such a thing was illegal by the law of the land, which in my book supercedes the rules and laws of any sport. But what we hear is that people want to get places faster or they want some kind of quick and easy short-cut to get there. So, they bend the rules or find loopholes to the rules to get ahead faster.

So, it brings up the question--does it matter about right or wrong? Or does it matter that you win?

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/06/2008 11:04:00 AM | |
Saturday, January 05, 2008
Down..then up...then down
Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks today for your victory over the Washington Redskins.

That said, I was pretty hopeful there for a few minutes in the fourth quarter that the wild ride would continue to next week and we'd go to face our greatest rival, the Dallas Cowboys.

Alas, it's not to be.

I do wonder now if Joe Gibbs will be back? I can see the toll this season has taken on him and I wonder if he'll go back to retirement?

If he does, I expect Greg Williams to get the nod as head coach. And this time, I think he'll show what he can do. I think he got a raw deal in Buffalo.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/05/2008 07:08:00 PM | |
Thursday, January 03, 2008
NFL Playoffs
My two favorite teams are in the playoffs and I couldn't be more excited about it, esp. since both got in my beating divisional rivals. (The Redskins manhandling the Cowboys Sunday was just wonderful).

Now they both go on the road for the opening round and the NFL guy over at USA Today has picked the home team in both games. He makes some good arguments as to why he believes both teams will lose, but I don't agree.

That said, if I had to pick one of the two I have more faith in to win, it'd be the Washington Redskins. They're playing some great football right now, with a strong defense that held the Cowboys to one yard rushing last Sunday. And the offense is seeming to come together at the right time for what could be an interesting run in the playoffs. And I'd love to see the Redskins beat Seattle and then head to the center of all evil in pro sports to take on the most evil team in pro sports for the second time in two weeks. Deep down, you know the Cowboys want no part of the Redskins again.

Man, I love football...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/03/2008 10:29:00 AM | |
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
I wish I'd called in and said it...
Driving to the dentist today, I was listening to the Afternoon Press Box. A caller went on the air and said, "I read in the paper, they're building a Vanderbilt football hall of fame. Can anyone tell me what the h*** they're going to put in it?!?"

I laughed for five solid minutes on that one...

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/02/2008 03:24:00 PM | |

What's my motivation?
I don't really make New Year's resolutions. It's not that I think I'm perfect (far from it), but it's that I am not sure how much stock I put into the motivation of making a list of things to work on or make better just because of the time of year. For me, real changes in lifestyle have to be motivated by more than just the time of year it is and they have to be motivated by a real desire to make real changes in your life. Otherwise, a list of resolutions becomes a list of things you can't or shouldn't due--a new set of rules that after a few days becomes more of a burden. And while making changes in your lifestyle isn't easy, I think that making different choices should, in the long run, be something this more freeing than a burden.

Which makes it ironic that it was in mid-January just over ten years ago that I signed up for my YMCA membership. My motivation wasn't really a desire to burn off all the calories I'd consumed during the holidays (or really all of them consumed even before the holidays rolled around). My motivation was that a friend had joined and talked me into it. He'd just come off a bad break-up and wanted an accountability person to help make sure he worked out a couple of of times a week. And, we thought, it might be a good way to meet women.

Well, he eventually got back together with the girl in question and eventually married the girl. We made it to the Y a few times at the same time, but he was more interested in weight training while I was all about swimming laps in the in-door pool. Eventually, our pact went by the wayside, but I kept going to the Y...at first it was a struggle to make it three times a week. Then during football season, I figured out that I could watch three or four games at a time while riding the stationary bike and I threw in the occasional Saturday.

Before I knew it, I was at the Y five, six times a week.

In 2001, I figured out that I was burning off calories by working out, but not making the greatest choices about replacing those calories. Or that I was replacing more calories than I burned off. I made another lifestyle choice related to what I ate and strictly monitoring my food intake. It was difficult at first, but I quickly saw some good results....even during football season which is my favorite time to just graze on muchies--esp. if one of my teams isn't doing well. I was part of a weight loss accountability group and soon became "The Biggest Loser" though I didn't mind being called that. I in-grew a lot of my clothes--OK, I in-grew all of them--and basically had to get a whole new wardrobe. I also felt better and had more energy which was a good thing since keeping up with my niece and nephew takes a lot of energy.

Looking back, I kind of laugh at my initial reasons for joining the Y. I wanted to be healthier, but didn't take it as seriously as I should. And the whole wanting to meet women thing--not easy to do when you're swimming laps. Though I hear that sputtering up a lungful of water makes a definite first impression. Not necessarily a good one, but a first impression.

And now, here I am, ten years later. I still go to the Y. Outside of the office and my house, it's probably the place I spend the most time on consistent basis. I've become a spin-class addict and I still swim laps every day I can. I've still got it worked out so I can watch football games on Saturdays and Sundays in the fall now while I work out. Some of the best extra workout time I've ever had was getting caught up in the last-minute drama of a good football game--esp. if one of my teams is involved. (That said, I rarely if ever work out during the Vols games....it's really for the best since the C in YMCA stands for Christian and I'd hate to be asked to leave for shouting at the TV while jumping up and down on the treadmill).

This week, there will be a lot of new faces around the Y. New people coming in who have made resolutions to work out more and be healthier in 2008. Having seen this every year for the past nine years, I won't get too attached to seeing any of them on a regular basis after mid-February. I try not to be too cynical, but my experience says I'll be right on a good percentage. But I do know there may be some who are like I was ten years ago--joining with a desire to make a real change in their lifestyle. And it may take time--more than they think it might. But I do hope that their desire pays off and they do get to make the changes they want in their lives.

Heaven knows I didn't know how my life would benefit from my joining a decade ago. But man, it's been a fun and entertaining ride and with the exception of a few detours, one I wouldn't change for the world.

And part of me hopes that the New Year's resolution new members will stay with it, esp. at the local Y. It would encourage expansion and we'd get the outdoor pool built that much faster. And as long as the new people share the lap lanes, the machines and don't take my spin pass, we'll all get along.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/02/2008 12:51:00 PM | |
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Tennessee football ends on a positive note
It doesn't seem like it's time for football to be winding down already. Didn't it just gear up last week?

The good news is the Vols capped off the season with a win today, beating Wisconsin 21-17. This was despite the best efforts of the refs in the last two minutes to help Wisconsin as much as they could by giving them an extra time-out with a review that was complete and total garbage.

But, I won't let that get me down too much. Instead, I'm happy to see the Vols scratch out a win, ending this year on a positive note and hopeful going into next year on a good one. Let's hope 2008 is a great one for the Vols.

And it will start off well when the national championships in basketball for men's and women's both reside in Knoxville....

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/01/2008 01:45:00 PM | |
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