Age, it is really just a number

In a couple of days from now, I will be celebrating yet another birthday as well as entering into another decade of my life. It seems like the older I get, the less I look forward to these birthdays. Maybe because I dread getting older. The thoughts of losing my physical capabilities as well as my mind totally scare the crap out of me. It is safe to say that many people feel the same way that I do. We all dread those days in the future when that gray hair starts to appear, wrinkles creep up on our faces and necks, physical pain becomes more frequent and we start forgetting things. It happens to everyone eventually;father time does not discriminate against anyone.

I find it interesting to look at how people age. One of my basketball playing buddies is in his late 50’s. He could easily pass for a 35-year-old in looks. He also runs around the court like a 25-year-old. Not only does he play basketball, but he runs marathons as well. He is also a vegetarian and if he had his way, all fast food restaurants would cease to exist. On the other hand, I have some friends who are 30 going on 50. Several of them smoke and eat the wrong foods. One of them thinks that he will get his daily filling of vegetables from eating a pizza!! Exercise for them is a total inconvenience. I think the only exercise they get is from getting off the couch to go to the bathroom! While my basketball playing buddy may have a birth certificate that states he is 28 years older than my other friends, his outward appearance tells a completely different story. The point of this example is that your lifestyle plays such a critical role in how you age, especially when you reach your 30’s and beyond. Sure genetics play an important role, but living an active lifestyle and taking care of your body can do wonders to make you feel and look younger.

One of my pet peeves with people is when they make the “old age excuse” for not being able to do something. I hear it often from people my age. Sure, some have certain physical problems that prevent them from performing a task. Maybe someone has a knee problem that prevents them playing sports, that is very understandable. But for many, it is really all in their head. People have this idea that reaching a certain age automatically disqualifies them from being active. That is total hogwash!! Many folks might be surprised at how much they still have left in tank. I always see a bunch of senior citizens playing tennis at nearby park. They probably think that they are still in their 30’s by the way they move. Nobody convinced them to stay at home and sit in a rocking chair!

Besides staying active and eating the right foods, the way you approach life has a great bearing on how you age. Is life boring and full of stress from work? I see people who work constantly without any real hobbies to pursue and they seem to age very quickly. Life is way too short to always be stressed out from working too much. People who are passionate about a certain hobby always seem to age much better. I know retired folks who are very excited each spring to hit the golf courses or go fishing. They live for those types of activities. My uncle loves to teeter in his backyard, chopping wood and stuff and he is more nimble than many people half his age. Sitting around and being bored with yourself is a sure recipe to age very quickly and look much older than you should.

I often get complimented about how I look for my age and it can really make my day if you ask me. Someone once asked me what my secret was. I certainly helps coming from a very youthful looking family, but I always think of myself as a much younger person. I don’t look at my age as being a barrier to any physical activity that I might pursue. Just because I am a certain age does not mean that my body is the same age. It may be much younger. I drive around listening to the same type of music that much younger people listen to. As a matter of fact, I enjoy hanging out with younger people from time to time. It make me feel much younger!

The truth is, age is really just a state of mind. Those who have that “I am too old attitude” will get what they deserve. I always believe that feeling and acting much younger than your age is a huge key in enjoying a wonderful life. Why use age as a barrier and excuse for not enjoying your life? In the meantime, I have to tell my elderly neighbors to turn down their music. They seem to enjoying that Justin Timberlake cd a little bit too much!!

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The popularity of soccer (or lack of) in the United States

While watching a World Cup match the other day, a thought came to my mind. Why isn’t professional soccer more popular in this country? It ranks well down the totem pole in popularity among professional sports. We love our football, baseball, basketball and hockey, but pro soccer is hardly a blimp on the radar for sports fans across this nation. About the only time soccer garners any interest is when the World Cup is taking place. When was the last time that ESPN lead sports center with highlights of a pro soccer game?

Youth participation in soccer has really spiked in the last 30 years. You would figure that this would eventually help the pro game at some point. Logically, the increased interested at the youth level should produce a snowball effect for interest at a higher level. But professional soccer has never taken off in this country. As a matter of fact, with the exception of the glory days of Pele, soccer has never been a highly talked about sport. It is like a religion in other countries. So why not here? I have 5 reasons why the sport is struggling to break into the lime light.

1. Tradition- Football, basketball, baseball and even hockey have a long-standing tradition among sports fans. Soccer is kind of like that neglected new kid who is trying to fit in at school with a bunch of long time friends. Is there enough room at the professional sports level for another major sport? One of the other sports will have to get bumped off. Which one will it be? I have a hard time believing that any of the major sports are in danger of getting bumped down for soccer.

2. Lack of success by our national teams- Let’s face it, if the United States wins the World Cup (a fat chance that happens!!) Every one will jump on the soccer bandwagon. The fact is, our national teams have not had a lot of success during the World Cup. A successful World Cup run would generate a whole bunch of new fans and soccer would really become popular. If the United States dominated the World Cup like they do in other sports, soccer would really take off at all levels in this country.

3. Big name personalities- Sports in this country are driven by big names. People tune into the NBA, not necessarily because they like basketball, but because they want to see LeBron perform his magic. As a sports fan, I cannot name 5 players who play in the professional league. When Pele and David Beckham play, the non-soccer fans tend to watch. We need more big name players to play in the pro soccer league.

4. TV exposure- I know soccer is periodically televised on various channels but it would be nice to have a big soccer night that ESPN could hype up and draw fans from other sports. I see the MLS recently signed a new contract with ESPN and Fox so maybe they could expand the coverage a bit.

5. Lack of scoring- Ask any soccer hater why they hate soccer and chances are the scoring issue comes up. I am not a soccer hater, but I find myself not watching for the same reason. It is not necessarily the lack of goals in a game, but the few scoring chances. In a 90 minute game, how many legitimate scoring chances are there? It is always more exciting to watch a sport with more scoring chances and opportunities.

I can see where soccer will eventually get more popular and near the same level as the other major sports. I personally think it is a great sport that unfortunately gets a bad rap. It is a great sport to play for any youngster. It provides a lot of great exercise, more so than baseball, it is much safer than football and you don’t have to spend a lot on equipment to play. People of all incomes can play. Perhaps in the near future, soccer will join the major sports in popularity. Why the sport is so far off now is a big mystery to this sports fan.

The pc police strike again

There are a number of problems facing this nation today. The economy is barely crawling along, Iraqi is turning into our worst nightmare, many people are struggling to make ends meet and the future of our country is very murky at best. You would think that any discussion regarding the nickname of a pro sports team would be at the bottom of the list for things to worry about, yet the issue with the Washington Redskins name is garnering all of the headlines. How sad!!!

The pro football team in Washington has been called the Redskins since the 1930’s. For years, nobody has had any issues with the nickname Redskins. They are one of the oldest franchises in pro football and have a very rich tradition. Now, all of sudden in this world of increasing political correctness, the name Redskins is deemed offensive and racist by a few select people. I am sorry but I have a very hard time understanding why the nickname Redskins is so offensive. The majority of Indians in this country do not find it offensive so why is there such a fuss over this name?

My favorite NFL team is the Minnesota Vikings. Funny, but nobody is calling on them to change their nickname. After all, they are named after a group of people. Or how about the Green Bay Packers? The New England Patriots? The San Francisco 49ers? A number of college teams have Indian nicknames. The team who won the college football championship is named the Seminoles. Where is the fuss over their name? If we are going to make such an issue over a team’s name, then let’s be consistent with all teams and see how far that gets us!

There are a number of product names in this world that I find offensive, but I roll with it and accept the fact all things and names cannot please everyone. If I don’t like the name of a team or a product’s name is offensive to me, I will simply ignore the product. It is part of living in a free society. The things that those over-sensitive pc find perfectly acceptable in today’s word, are often things I find troubling and offensive. They seem to get pretty quiet when some controversial book title or television show comes up which is very degrading to families and children. However, when a small thing like a team’s nickname is being discussed, that is when they tend to become the loudest and most vocal.

I find it interesting that these pc police tend to become the most vocal when a minority name comes up such as the case with the Redskins name. If the name had to do with a group of majorities, not a word would get mentioned. Nobody would raise a stink if the Redskins name was the Vikings. In my opinion, this is just another con game by certain liberal groups to further their agenda of minority mistreatment in this country. It is a ridiculous game of getting the public to feel sorry for these minorities and having more people on their side. In this Redskins case, they have failed miserably. A majority of people, including this blogger, are against having the Redskins being forced to change their name. I think the claim that the name Redskins is racist is totally ridiculous.

If these loony liberals want a name change, then they are more than welcome to buy the team themselves. Funny. but I don’t see too many of them offering to buy the team! This whole story is utter nonsense and I hope people wake up and realize what these pc police are trying to accomplish here. If they succeed, who knows what their next target will be. I find their cause to be very frivolous at best. They are just after our freedoms and need to be stopped. There are far more important things to worry about in this world today. Going after a team’s name is not one of them.

Thoughts on the Iraqi crisis

For about the last 10 years, many brave men and women from this country risked their lives to help liberate Iraqi and turn that country into a peaceful democracy; many lost their lives in the effort to give the Iraqi people the freedom they richly deserve. We spent over a billion dollars in trying to turn Iraqi into a stable country and now it looks like all of our hard-earned efforts are quickly going the drain. When I see those ISIS terrorists on television brag about how they are going to take over Iraq, I can’t help but wonder what our soldiers are thinking. Here they worked so hard to accomplish a mission and it is being quickly taken away by a bunch of radical thugs. So who is to blame for this escalating mess that could turn the Middle East into a war zone? Several parties have to take the blame.

Isn’t it more than a coincidence that this is happening after we are taking our troops out of Iraqi? Sure, let’s announce our withdrawal so the terrorists can just sit back and wait until we leave. I am by no means an expert on military planning but logic would dictate that this is a pretty poor policy of announcing our withdrawal. The current administration then has the gull to say that they are surprised by the events over there, really? Did they not see this coming? Are they that naïve to be surprised by the turn of events? Is there intelligence that bad that these turn of events caught them by surprise? If that is the case, our country is in a heap of trouble. Something tells me that the withdrawal of troops was more a political move than anything else and probably happened too soon. I totally don’t buy the fact they did not see this coming.

Having said those things, I think most of the blame has to be pointed to the incompetent Iraqi leader and his army. I totally agree with President Obama that it is the Iraqis job to take care of themselves. We helped lay down the foundation, now they have to take it from here. We taught them how to fish, they are now responsible for catching fish. Reports are that the Iraqi army is in total disarray. Why is this? Have they not been properly trained to handle this mission? The Iraqi army far outnumbers the terrorists who are trying to take over, yet they are retreating and not willing to defend their country. That is totally gutless!! They need to take a stand for their country even if it means losing their lives. I highly doubt our military would run away like those gutless Iraqi soldiers. Our country and our leaders cannot be held responsible if the Iraqis do not want to defend themselves. It is their job and the leaders of Iraqi need to show some leadership in dealing with this crisis.

What deeply concerns me about this ISIS group is the amount of money they have. This is not just a bunch of rag-tag Sunnis running around. This group is well-financed and their money many help finance terror plots all over the globe. I can see this group becoming larger and expanding around the world, similar to Al Qaeda. That is the last thing we need is for another well-financed terror organization going around and wreaking havoc. You better believe that the United States will eventually be in their cross hair. If this group takes over Iraqi, who knows what might happen next? The Middle East would be in total turmoil if this happened. This group is like a cancer that could spread to many regions. They must be stopped before it is too late.

President Obama talks about taking his time in what our future options will be. Does anyone have a great deal of confidence in his administration to be able to handle this crisis? Judging by what happened in Syria and Russia, I have little confidence. Sure it is a difficult and tricky situation, but if the Middle East turns upside down, our interests and national security may be at risk. As I mentioned earlier, this group needs to be dealt with quickly and decisively before it is too late and a huge war breaks out. Hesitating and being passive is not the way to approach this crisis. Our allies also need to get involved because their interests and securities are at risk as well.

We are now at a cross roads with regard to Iraqi. It is easy to say that we have no business getting involved in the affairs of their country right now. If it were that simple. This is far more than a feud between Sunnis and Shiites. A terrorist group is trying to take over Iraqi and the implications could prove to be troublesome for the whole world if they are not stopped. A well-financed terrorist group should scare us all.

 

 

 

My true role model

The phrase “role model’ gets used very loosely in our society today. I hear young people list their role models as being famous celebrities, such as LeBron James, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga or even our president, Barack Obama. When I was in my teenage years to early 20’s, I used to really look up to Michael Jordan because he really inspired me, not only with his great talent, but his overwhelming desire to work hard and win. However, looking back at my life, I would have to say my biggest role model was my late father.

My dad was gifted in many areas. He could succeed in nearly everything that he would put his mind to. As a young boy, I used to attend his softball games and marvel at his natural athletic ability. He succeeded in many sports and his influence certainly got me involved in sports at a very early age. I always wanted to impress my dad when he attended my little league baseball games or when he took me golfing. We would often play one on one in our driveway and my dad would always win. I dreamed of the day when I could beat my dad and become as good as him. That really motivated me to become better at sports in my youth. I wanted to become as good as him.

He was also a very bright and smart individual. He decided to finish up his college degree sometime in his early 40’s and received academic honors from the university. Seeing him succeed in college made me try that much harder in my school work as well. I wanted my name in the paper for making the dean’s list just like my father. He also had a great ability in home improvement projects. I swear he could have been an engineer if he really wanted to. If there was a fix-up problem around the house, dad was there to fix it.

These things really pale in comparison to what my dad was like as a human being and person. In all the years that he was married to my mom. I never heard him yell at my mom once or put her down with some negative comment. They had a beautiful marriage and liked to do many simple things, like go camping or go on trips together. Their big date during the week was going out to breakfast at the local cafe on Saturday morning. The way he treated my mom is something I will never forget and will certainly be fresh in my mind if by some miracle, I ever got married. He set a great example to me on how to treat a woman.

Outside of the family, my father was always willing to do little things to help people out. He would always take time to help others in need. Shortly before his sudden death, he helped a neighbor clear her driveway of snow; a wonderful act of random kindness. He volunteered at our church and was a very active member and leader. My dad was by no means a loud and talkative person. He actions spoke for his lack of words. Believe me, those random acts of kindness are not forgotten in my mind. Seeing my dad help out others in need certainly has motivated me to do the same in my life. After all, I want to be just like dad!!

My dad passed away suddenly one night, however, his legacy is something that still sticks with me today. I will never forget the examples he set for my sisters and I by the way he lived his life. I cannot think of a better person to have as a role model than my dad. We all miss you!

The troubling Bergdahl story

About 5 years, a news story broke out concerning the capture of an American soldier by the Taliban in Afghanistan. I was pretty much resigned to thinking that this young soldier probably met a very harsh death at the hands of a very savage group. I felt deeply for his family and community in Idaho. Shortly after capture, a video surfaced of him. Well at least he is alive, but he is certainly being tortured. Surely, it was only a matter of time before his body would be discovered by his fellow soldiers. Time went on and we did not hear anything more about the fate of this soldier until last weekend when it was announced that he was being released. My initial reaction was one of shock and amazement! The Taliban releasing an American soldier? What is next, hell freezes over?!! I think I can speak for many Americans in having a wonderful sense of joy in my heart when news broke that this young man is now free. However, that joy was quickly diminished when I heard more about the story. This story is very troubling on two fronts, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl himself and the way the White House negotiated the release.

It would be one thing if Bergdahl got captured during a mission. But the facts coming out tell a different story. Bergdahl left his uniform, weapons and other items at his base and walked out on his platoon. He QUIT on his fellow soldiers and brothers! He seemed to be more interested in hanging out with the enemy rather than striving hard to defeat and destroy them. His actions caused 6 U.S. soldiers to lose their lives and many others were injured in efforts to find him. This is none other than desertion to the highest degree!! Not only did he cause casualties among his platoon, he put many, many other soldiers over there at risk with his willingness to talk with the enemy. Personally, I think he developed a strong grudge against his platoon and our military while on duty. While in captivity, I am sure he probably spilled out intel about our military to the Taliban. In a letter written to his parents shortly before his capture, Bergdahl basically trashed our military. Those who call Bergdahl a hero are sadly mistaken! If these reports are indeed true and there seems to be no reason otherwise, Bergdahl needs to be held accountable in a military court of law. His actions put many lives at risk.

The second troubling thing about this story is the compensation that the Taliban got for his release, 5 high level terrorists!! For years, the United States has had a very strict rule about not negotiating with terrorists, yes the Taliban is a terrorist organization for those who still don’t get it. They are known for killing women and children. A few years ago, they beheaded a 10-year-old boy who they accused of spying. This is a ruthless group who absolutely hates Americans. Why the White House negotiated with these thugs is totally beyond me. But considering the seemingly endless incompetence of this current administration, this should come as no surprise. What might have been one of President Obama’s best moves while in office might be his worst. Imagine if these freed terrorists come back and conduct a terrorist attack on the United States, like another 9/11? If this happens, it will deal a serious blow to Obama’s legacy. By negotiating with terrorists, every American suddenly because less safe especially overseas. Surely, there are other terrorists held so lets just kidnap an American and get our prisoners back is probably the thinking right now of many terrorist organizations around the world. We need to play HARDBALL with these groups, not SOFTBALL Mr. President!! 1 deserter for 5 terrorists? Seriously!!

More facts should come out in upcoming days regarding this story. Perhaps Bergdahl just snapped due to the stress of being on duty. Who knows? However, this story is very troublesome because of the selfish actions of a troubled soldier and the naïve nature of our leadership in Washington. What should have been a great feel good story for all Americans might just result in more pain and casualties for our military and their families in the future. Of course, it is great to see Mr. Bergdahl get released and I am happy for his family and his community. But there has to be some accountability as well. Bergdahl is not a hero to me at all. He is very lucky to be alive. Last Sunday was a great day, for the Taliban that is. I think they took us to the cleaners on that swap. Get ready for more kidnappings of Americans in the future. The terrorists need their guys back so they can conduct more attacks against our interests.

A couple of very unlikely hobbies of mine, golf and blogging

Wouldn’t it be great if someone came along who could predict what lies ahead in your future? Suppose someone told you during your teenage years that you would be doing this and that 20 years later? Would you believe them? Probably not. But the truth is, we all change as we get older and many of us pick up new hobbies that we never dreamed of doing during our younger years. Such is the case with me. I would like to share a few hobbies of mine that I never dreamed I would be pursuing right now.  

My father was a very avid golfer and tried to get me hooked on the sport. We would go out and play together about once a week. I have many fond memories of playing golf with my dad when I was 11 or 12 years old. However, as I progressed into my teenage years, golf really started to bore me and I quit playing. I was more interested in playing pickup basketball with my buddies down at the park. I thought golf was better reserved for older, retired people who could not run or jump anymore. I know my dad was kind of disappointed that I quit playing, but he respected my decision.

Shortly after I moved here to take my current job, I decided to give golf another shot. One of my co-workers was an avid golfer and hearing him talk about his golf adventures during the weekend really got me in the mood to start playing again. I started to go to the local driving range to work on my swing and initially, things did not go very well. I told my dad about my return to the game and he was thrilled. He gave me some lessons and my game really came around along with my passion for the sport. Suddenly, I found myself looking at the calendar and just counting the days until April would arrive so I could get out and play. Whenever I visited my dad, we would always get in round of golf. My dad passed away way too soon, but the memories of playing golf with him still linger very strong in me. I credit him for giving me a hobby and a sport that I can enjoy for a lifetime. Eventually, I will not be able to run up and down the basketball court, but golf is something that I can enjoy and play for a long time. Just being outside on a warm summer evening or morning and enjoying nature makes golf so enjoyable for me. Sometimes I don’t even care if I am playing well or not. I just love being outside and hacking some little white ball around. It is also great exercise. I very seldom take a cart.

My second unlikely hobby is something that I just took up about 5 years ago and that is blogging. I started blogging because I was becoming frustrated by the way politicians were running this country. Everyone has an opinion and I found blogging to be a great way to express my opinions on certain political issues nationally and locally. I eventually decided to cover multiple topics, not just politics. Many blogs that I follow and read just pertain to one area. Mine is kind of like going into a buffet restaurant and having a wide variety of things to choice from. I try to appeal to many different types of people. My blogs are very opinion based and some people may be turned off and disagree with some of the stuff that I write. I appreciate differing opinions from my views. One of the goals of my blog is to prompt discussion on wide range of topics ranging from politics, sports, pop culture, social issues, dating, fitness and health.

Like golf, I did not really enjoy writing in either high school or college. I once took a journalism class in high school and wrote for our school newspaper. I still remember writing an opinion piece about detention which rubbed some students the wrong way! Kind of like my blog posts on certain occasions! I went on and pursued a degree in mathematics in college. As I mentioned, I wrote my first blog about 5 years ago and the rest is history. Blogging is something that I really enjoy doing. I wish I had more time to write more posts. There are so many topics to cover. I view blogging and writing as something that I would like to pursue when I retire from my current job and have more free time. I am not even close to being a professional writer, but I love to be creative and put my two cents into many topics. 

Perhaps in the near future, I will take up bungee jumping and cliff diving. On second thought, maybe not!! Next on my list is cooking and fishing. Life is so much more enjoyable when you hobbies to pursue and enjoy. You never know what passion of yours is just around the corner.